Healthy Substitutes for Canola Oil

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There’s a lot of confusion out there about cooking oils. In recent years, we were encouraged to use vegetable oils, with canola oil at the top of the list, since they are high in unsaturated fats and low in the saturated ones.

However, saturated fat content doesn’t tell the whole nutrition story. And, in fact, canola oil is NOT the best oil to use for several reasons. Want to get the scoop on why this oil may be causing you health issues?

Read on for the concerns about this popular oil and discover healthy substitutes for canola oil.

Healthy Substitutes for Canola Oil title meme

What is Canola Oil?

This neutral tasting oil comes from crushing the seeds of the canola plant.

The canola plant, however, originated as the rapeseed plant. That plant contains toxic compounds, making it unsafe for consumption. Canadian scientists learned to remove those toxic compounds through the targeted cross breeding of plants and came up with the canola plant, so named for Canada – can, and oil – ola. Most canola crops are also genetically modified (GMO). GMO products can create inflammation in the body.

Extracting oil from the canola plant is a long process that includes using chemical solvents such as hexane or a combination of chloroform and methanol. That extraction step removes most polyphenols, a healthy compound that promotes longevity.

The high heat used during the process can also affect the stability of the oil’s molecules, turning it rancid and destroying the omega-3s. The addition of synthetic antioxidants increases shelf life.

Canola oil may also contain small amounts of trans fats, which can lead to harmful effects on health.

How Canola Oil Can Impact Health

Canola oil can impact health in negative ways.

Those synthetic antioxidants, which include BHA, BHT and TBHQ, when consumed over time are toxic and carcinogenic.

Canola oil contains a high ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are anti-inflammatory, while consuming too much omega-6 contributes to inflammation and cardiovascular disease. Canola oil’s ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is 2:1, adding to the overconsumption of omega-6s that’s common in the typical American diet. Most in the US consume these two fatty acids in a 20:1 ratio.

The spike in inflammation that canola oil can cause contributes to many chronic disorders such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and colitis.

Recent studies show that canola oil can cause impairment in cognitive function and memory. Plus it can worsen hypertensions and damage blood vessel function, especially when the oil is combined with salt when frying foods.

Beware of studies and reports claiming canola oil is a healthy oil to use. Most of those are funded by the Canada and US Canola Associations. There are better oils to use.

Healthy Substitutes for Canola Oil

Try one of these oils, if using oil is a part of your diet.

Sesame Oil

Use sesame oil to sauté veggies or add to marinades and dressings. It comes from sesame seeds and is one of the earliest known crop based oils.

Health benefits include anti-inflammatory properties, boosts heart health and protects skin from sun damage.

Avocado Oil

Made from the pulp of the avocado, this oil is rich in oleic acid, a healthy omega-9 fatty acid. Use avocado oil as a high heat cooking and frying option and in baking.

Benefits include reduces cholesterol and improves heart health, supports eye health, enhances the absorption of nutrients and reduces symptoms of arthritis.

Healthy Substitutes for Canola Oil avocado
Healthy Substitutes for Canola Oil – avocado oil

Peanut Oil

Made from peanuts, this oil is ideal for cooking at high temperatures. It’s high in unsaturated fats, antioxidants and phytosterols, a plant compound that blocks the absorption of cholesterol from foods.

Highly refined peanut oil is free from the allergen that causes a reaction. However, if you have a peanut allergy, do not use cold-pressed, expelled or extruded peanut oil. Always ask your health care provider for guidance.

Health benefits include lowers bad cholesterol, reduces risks for heart disease and strokes and maintains immune system and metabolism.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil comes from the coconut palm fruit. It’s a white solid fat that melts easily at room temperature, turning into a clear liquid. Use for frying, baking and DIY skincare and haircare recipes.

Coconut oil contains rich fatty acids and antioxidants.

Health benefits include fights against Alzheimer’s, reduces risks for heart disease, boosts liver health and energy and aids digestion.

Healthy Substitutes for Canola Oil coconut
Healthy Substitutes for Canola Oil – coconut oil

Flaxseed Oil

This oil is made from ground flax seeds. Use for cooking, dressings, sauces and frying and also as an ingredient in DIY skincare recipes. Flaxseed oil is high in omega-3s.

Benefits include reduces inflammation, improves heart and skin health, lowers blood pressure and may help reduce cancer cell growth.

Pumpkin Seed Oil

Also called pepita oil, this rust colored oil is extracted from pumpkin seeds. It’s versatile as a cooking oil and also as a supplement. And it’s rich in nutrients, fatty acids and phytoserols.

Health benefits include lowers cholesterol, eases symptoms of an enlarged prostate, lowers high blood pressure, eases menopausal symptoms and improves urinary tract health.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

This well known oil comes from olives. Use it for cooking, frying, baking and salad dressings.

Look for cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil as it is the least processed and often considered the healthiest oil to use. It contains heart healthy fats and antioxidants and possesses a rich flavor.

Health benefits include anti-inflammatory properties, supports heart health, promotes longevity, helps manage blood clotting, lowers blood pressure, lowers the risk of cancer and reduces the risk of dementia and cognitive decline.

Healthy Substitutes for Canola Oil olive
Healthy Substitutes for Canola Oil – olive oil

Which Oil Do You Use?

If you prefer not to use oils, you can substitute applesauce or mashed bananas in baking recipes. Use a small amount of water or vegetable broth when sautéing.

I’ve lightly used olive oil, since going plant based. However, since embracing the Blue Zones lifestyle, I use more than I used to, and love it. Look for the best quality cold pressed olive oil, for the most health benefits.

Do you use oils? Which is your favorite to use?

Healthy Substitutes for Canola Oil peanut
Healthy Substitutes for Canola Oil – peanuts for peanut oil


 

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I am not a medical practitioner. I study health and wellness related topics and share experiences from my own personal healing journey.

 

For Longevity Eat Foods High in Polythenols

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As I fully embrace the Blue Zones lifestyle, I’m learning more about the foods and activities that contribute to a longer, healthier, higher quality life. There are reasons people living in the Blue Zones eat the way they do. Today, learn more about a group of foods that are rich in natural compounds and antioxidants, that help counter the effects of aging.

For longevity eat foods high in polythenols.

Eat Foods High in Polythenols title meme

What are Polythenols?

Health boosting polythenols are found in certain fruits, vegetables and plant based foods such as grains. These powerful compounds are high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatories that improve cognitive function and bolster the immune system.

Additionally, polythenols fight free radicals, UV radiation and pathogens while providing antifungal and antibacterial properties. It is essential to eat foods high in polythenols to protect the brain and heart and the immune and digestive systems.

More than 8,000 polythenols exist. And they are divided into four categories: flavonoids, stilbenes, lignans and phenolic acids. It’s the polythenols in plants that provide their colors. As we eat for longevity, consuming a variety of colorful foods ensures we are getting the polythenols we need. Those foods also offer essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals.

Foods that are High in Polythenols

Add as many of these foods as possible to your diet, to boost longevity. Incorporate them into daily meals when planning for the week.

Apples

Apples symbolize health, don’t they? Remember the old adage, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”? There is a reason for their association with health. Apples, and especially red skinned apples, supply all four categories of polythenols plus vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant.

Apples play a crucial role in fighting inflammation of all kinds. They calm the systems of the body by reducing viral and bacterial loads that inflame the body. Plus apples feed the neurons of the brain and increase electrical activity while strengthening and cleansing the digestive system.

Be sure you eat the skins of the apples, as that’s where the strongest flavonoids are. Eat sliced apples for a snack or add chopped apples to salads and oatmeal.

Tea and Coffee

Drinking a cup of coffee or tea each day is great for health. Both are excellent sources of the polythenol phenolic acid. And green tea contains flavonoids as well. To avoid caffeine, try a cup of green or herbal tea in the afternoons. That soothing anti-inflammatory drink strengthens the cardiovascular system while supporting brain health.

Check out these 10 herbal teas that boost health.

Eat Foods High in Polythenols tea
Eat foods high in polythenols – green tea

Spices and Herbs

Spices and herbs are some of the best sources of polythenols. Aromatic herbs such as rosemary, sage, cilantro, thyme and peppermint top the list along with turmeric, black pepper and ginger.

The antioxidants in spices and herbs reduce free radical damage in the body, a primary cause of aging. Anti-inflammatory properties fight chronic disease.

Rather than seasoning foods with salt, try including more herbs and spices for flavor and their longevity inducing benefits. Or use herbs to make teas or tinctures.

Berries

Berries such as blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries and elderberries all provide anthocyanins, a form of flavonoids. These compounds protect the body from oxidative stress, cardiovascular diseases and neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s. Berries also help keep a woman’s reproductive system in balance.

Enjoy berries in smoothies, oatmeal, chia pudding or alone as a healthy snack.

Eat Foods High in Polythenols berries
Eat foods high in polythenols – berries

Olives and Olive Oil

Olives and olive oils are foundational to the Mediterranean diet and those who live in Blue Zones. Black olives provide more polythenols than green olives, however both rank high on the list.

Look for extra virgin, cold pressed, organic olive oils for the best health benefits. And enjoy black or green olives alone or in salads and pasta dishes.

Nuts

Nuts such as walnuts, almonds and cashews rank high as nutrient dense foods. They also provide healthy fats, vitamin E and polyphenols.

Walnuts contain more ALA, an anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acid, than any of the other nuts. They also provide antioxidants, 4 grams of protein per serving, fiber and 11% of the daily magnesium requirement.

Enjoy a couple of handfuls of nuts daily. Eat as a snack or add to oatmeal, homemade granola that includes dark chocolate, salads and grain and veggie bowls.

Eat Foods High in Polythenols nuts
Eat foods high in polythenols – nuts

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate and unsweetened cocoa powder rank high as polyphenol rich foods. They contain flavonoids that provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties.

Look for dark chocolate with at least 70% cacao for the most benefits. Add a spoonful of cocoa powder to smoothies or make a cup of hot chocolate using plant based milk. Here’s a great recipe for vegan hot chocolate.

Whole Grains

Whole grains are an excellent source of lignans, a form of polythenols. Grains such as oats, quinoa and brown rice also provide protein, fiber, B vitamins and essentials minerals like magnesium. Plus quinoa provides all nine essential amino acids that the body needs

Pair grains with veggies for a hearty bowl. Add berries and walnuts to cooked oats. Make a brown rice and black olive salad.

Eat Foods HIgh in Polythenols grains
Eat foods high in polythenols – whole grains

Flax Seeds

These tiny seeds are an excellent source omega-3s and also polyphenols. This lignan, found in legumes and whole grains, protect against heart disease, breast cancer and osteoporosis.

Add flax seeds to smoothies, oatmeal bowls, salads and homemade granola. They make a great egg substitute in baking, as well.

Red Wine

Although it’s important to consume alcohol in moderation, red wine is known for its health benefits. Red wine’s resveratol, in the stilbenes category of polyphenols, provides antifungal, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Red wine can even protect against tumors and cancer, landing it on the longevity list.

Cannonau, a red wine from the Blue Zone area of Sardinia, offers up to three times the polythenols of other reds.

Red Onions

The red onion is particularly high in polythenols, in the form of flavonoids. Red onions offer antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties as well as quercetin. This flavonoid fights cancer, heart disease and neurological disorders and helps rid the body of bacteria.

Use red onions in guacamole, salads, cooked meals such as veggie bowls and grain bowls and in homemade vegetable broth.

Eat Foods High in Polythenols red onion
Eat foods high in polythenols – red onions

Include Polythenol Rich Foods in Meals

Make a game of including more polythenol rich foods in your diet this week.

  • Start the day with a bowl of oatmeal topped with blueberries and strawberries, flax seeds and walnuts.
  • Create a lunch salad made from quinoa, red onion, green olives, fresh herbs and chopped veggies and legumes.
  • Enjoy afternoon tea with a cup of hot green tea and a snack of walnuts and chopped apples.
  • Season your recipes with more herbs and spices.
  • Cook with olive oil, creating an evening meal bowl with brown rice, sautéed veggies, chickpeas and red onion.
  • End the day with a glass of red wine and a couple of squares of dark chocolate.

How many of these health boosting, life extending foods can you add to your meals this week? Let me know how you do!

And check out the Blue Zones website, for more information about that lifestyle. Ready to start the four week Blue Zones Challenge? Week One is HERE.

Eat Foods High in Polythenols wine


 

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52 Ways to Walk

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Greg recently brought home a book from our local library, because he thought it might interest me. And does it ever interest me!

The book, 52 Ways to Walk by Annabel Streets, carries the subtitle “The surprising science of walking for wellness and joy, one week at a time.” I appreciate the “wellness and joy” aspects of the book. And, I absolutely love the format. My imagination immediately fired up as I read through the book.

I’m excited to put this book into practice. And I’m equally excited to share the book with you.

52 Ways to Walk title meme

Meet the Author, Annabel Streets

Annabel grew up in a carless family. Her father never learned to drive and her mother failed her driving test seven times. The family lived in remote places without access to public transportation, so if they needed something, they walked to obtain it.

As a young adult, Annabel bought her first car and enjoyed driving it around her little town. She also accepted a desk job. Soon she noticed changes in her body and wellness level.

Her body grew rounder, softer, achier, stiffer and more stooped. And Annabel felt more anxious, unsettled and discontent. She chose to reconnect with the simple joys of walking, to reclaim her health and wellbeing.

As she returned to walking frequently, she made two rules for herself: walk instead of using the car, unless absolutely necessary and convert as many sedentary activities as possible into walking activities.

52 Ways to Walk was born out of Annabel’s reconnection with walking and the desire to encourage others to rethink walking and reclaim it from their molecular memories.

52 Ways to Walk cold
52 Ways to Walk – Week 1 Walk in the Cold

How to Use the Book

Each chapter in the book is an opportunity to discover a new way of walking. The chapters roughly coincide with annual weather conditions, colder at the beginning and end of the year, and some universally recognized events.

However, the chapters and modes of walking can also be accessed randomly, choosing a chapter here and the next week, flipping to another section of the book.

To best use the book, whether chronologically or randomly, first skim through the chapters and prepare for the variety of walks. During cold or rainy weather, have coats, scarves, umbrellas and proper footwear available. Download map apps and online sites for walking in new areas.

Walking shoes and boots should fit properly. Purchase new ones if they don’t. Quick drying, breathable socks are a must as well. A stout walking stick is helpful for walking in nature. And keep a backpack ready to go with bandaids, snacks, water, sunscreen, wipes, antiseptic, insect repellent and pain relievers.

Pick a week to start, choose your first walk and head out the door!

52 Ways to Walk lost
52 Ways to Walk – Week 41 Walk to Get Lost

Examples from 52 Ways to Walk

Each short chapter includes the type of walk to go on, the benefits from the activity and the science to back the reasoning. At the end of each chapter is a TIPS section with ways to get the most from the walk.

Here is a sampling of walks found in the book.

Walk, Smile, Greet, Repeat

Walking allows us to experience chance encounters with others. Greeting the people we meet with a smile while walking in a neighborhood makes us feel better and return home happier.

Walk in the Rain

Rather than using a rainy day as an excuse to stay home, this week’s activity encourages us to walk in the rain and reconnect with the elements. The falling rain, increased moisture and persistent pounding of raindrops causes specific compounds to be released and combined with the air we breathe. Inhaling those compounds produces a profound sense of well being in the body.

52 Ways to Walk rain
52 Ways to Walk – Week 12 Walk in the Rain

Take a Silent Stroll

A decade ago, scientists discovered that loud noises stopped new neurons from forming in the brain, in the regions linked to memory and learning. Two hours of silence every day produced new neurons. Walking in a quiet place allows the body to reset and the brain to create new neurons.

Amble Amid Trees

in the 1960s biologists realized that the bluish haze often seen over landscapes is a vast cloud of molecules and gases produced by trees and plants. Those emissions benefit earth’s atmosphere. Now we are discovering that they deliver positive benefits to us as well, when we walk in the woods. Health benefits include reduced risks for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, early death, high blood pressure and stress.

52 Ways to Walk woods
52 Ways to Walk – Week 19 Amble Amid Trees

Walk with Your Nose

Our sense of smell is the most primitive of the senses. To fully activate that sense and awaken the other senses, walk in an area rich in aromatic plant life. Walk slowly, occasionally closing the eyes and placing hands over the ears and be guided by the nose.

Follow a River

Landscapes with running water have a restorative effect on the mood of the walker. The mind unwinds and the brain relaxes, helping us to feel tranquil and energized at the same time. Tote along lightweight binoculars for watching wildlife along the river and wear sunglasses to protect eyes from glare off of the water.

52 Ways to Walk river
52 Ways to Walk – Week 17 Follow a River

How I Intend to Use the Book

Since the copy I am currently reading came from the library, I’m ordering my own copy from Amazon.

I love the easy to use format and the mix of tips, stories, science and fun in each chapter. Walking as an exercise is important to me. The health benefits are many plus it is a recommended activity for the Blue Zones lifestyle.

What I appreciate also about the book is the ability to keep the walks interesting by playing a random game. One of the primary reasons people don’t continue a walking practice is boredom. And I get it. Walking the same route the same way becomes more of a mindless activity. I love that 52 Ways to Walk offers a fresh walking activity every week.

My intention is to write out each week’s walk on a slip of paper, fold those 52 slips up and drop them into a container. Each week I’ll draw out a different walk to experience. If the walk doesn’t match the weather or requires something I’m not able to do that week, then I’ll return that slip to the container and draw out another one. This is a form of creative play that I enjoy immensely.

52 Ways to Walk dogs
52 Ways to Walk – Week 18 Walk with a Dog

Pick Up Your Copy of 52 Ways to Walk

Is walking an important form of exercise and relaxation for you? Then you would enjoy this book as well. The activities are so varied and the information in each chapter is well presented and motivational.

I appreciate that the book contains a full year of weekly walks. And it inspires me to create other interesting walks as well.

Pick up your copy of 52 Ways to Walk by clicking this LINK or by clicking on the photo of the book below. And watch for future posts. I’ll share occasional highlights of some of the walks.

52 Ways to Walk gait
52 Ways to Walk – Week 2 Improve Your Gait

 

Click photo below to order book:

 

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Tips for Eating the Blue Zones Way While Traveling

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Is it possible to eat the Blue Zones way while traveling? I learned the answer to that question recently, when I traveled to Johns Island, South Carolina.

Other components of the Blue Zones lifestyle are easily practiced while on vacation. We naturally move more, hiking, playing and swimming. And often we connect with others while on a trip, such as family, friends or colleagues. How difficult is it to faithfully observe the simple, whole foods plant based diet though?

I found it very doable!

Check out these tips for eating the Blue Zones way while traveling, before your next trip. And appreciate the health benefits that continue to support the body while away from home.

Tips for Eating the Blue Zones Way While Traveling title meme

Blue Zones Travel

I completed the four weeks of the Blue Zones Challenge, literally the day I departed on my trip to South Carolina. The freshness of the experience served me well, I believe. My blood pressure dropped into the normal range during the challenge. I lost weight. And overall, felt amazing. Also, I appreciated the simplicity of the meals and the lifestyle.

While traveling, I strongly desired to continue with the lifestyle. In fact, I intend to continue living the Blue Zones lifestyle indefinitely.

For this trek, I flew out of Tulsa Oklahoma at 6:00 am on a Sunday and returned home Wednesday evening about 7:00 pm. I spent two and a half days in the Charleston/Johns Island area and parts of two days traveling.

Tips for Eating the Blue Zones Way While Traveling airplane
Tips for Eating the Blue Zones Way While Traveling – flying to South Carolina

Tips for Eating the Blue Zones Way While Traveling

These are the tips that made it easy for me to adhere to the Blue Zones way of eating.

Plan Ahead

This might seem obvious. However, having a plan and following a plan enables you to keep to the Blue Zones way of eating…or any diet, really.

I stayed at Sailor’s Rest, a wonderful Airbnb on Johns Island with a full kitchen. When possible, choose accommodations that provide a kitchen for preparing your own meals or at the least, a hotel room with a mini fridge and microwave for storing and reheating leftovers.

Before my departure day, I checked out airport restaurants online. Plus, at the Airbnb owners’ recommendation, I added the Harris Teeter Market to my list of places to visit. There I could stock up on groceries for breakfasts and dinners. I also created a list of possible restaurants for lunches.

In my travel notebook, I jotted down meal ideas. When you are prepared, you can deal with challenges or changes more easily. If you “wing it”, you are much more likely to fall back into old patterns and habits.

Tips for Eating the Blue Zones Way While Traveling market
Tips for Eating the Blue Zones Way While Traveling – Harris Teeter Market near the Airbnb I stayed in

Know Your Diet

It’s easy to eat things NOT on a healthy diet, while traveling. And I know, for many people a vacation from home is also a vacation from eating healthy. You have to do you. However for me, a move away from my healthy lifestyle is a move toward not feeling well. And I do not want to feel unwell while traveling! I channel all of my high, clean energy toward exploring and having fun.

I carry a notebook with me, full of my meal ideas and key Blue Zones components. The Notes app on a smart phone works well also. Whether you are enjoying Blue Zones or embracing another healthy diet plan, know exactly what you can eat…and what you can’t.

Blue Zones is so simple: grains such as brown rice, quinoa and oats, legumes, fruits, veggies, greens and nuts. That’s it. No sugar, overly salty foods, animal products or processed foods. Knowing that list of acceptable foods made it easier to find meals in the airports and in cafés in Charleston and on the islands.

Travel Day Meals

Leaving Tulsa International Airport so early, I chose to eat my first meal for the day while on layover in Houston. At Peet’s Coffee & Tea I found plain oatmeal available, with the added toppings of wild blueberries and slivered almonds. Perfect! I added a green tea and my meal felt complete.

Southwest Airlines offers a complimentary drink and a salty snack during short domestic flights. I accepted the iced water. And I should have bought a small package of unsalted nuts before boarding the plane. I chose not to eat anything during the flight, making me very hungry by the time I landed in Charleston. The timing of the flight caused me to miss lunch.

A better schedule flying home allowed me to enjoy plain oatmeal with pecans at the Charleston Airport for breakfast, while savoring a delicious grains and greens bowl from Mad About Greens for lunch at the Austin Airport. Hunger satisfied, I didn’t need an inflight snack later.

If traveling by car, carry healthy snacks, pack a picnic lunch full of foods on your diet or plan stops at places that you know offer foods you can eat.

oats for breakfast
Oats for breakfast at Houston Airport

Stock Up and Cook Your Own Meals

Preparation and determination paid off after I arrived in Charleston. I drove past many fast food places in my rental car, on my 30 minute drive to my accommodations. Without a firm plan in mind, the temptation to grab fast food in a drive through might have proved too strong to resist.

Instead, I made it to the Airbnb, quickly unloaded the car, and then drove six more miles down the charming two lane road to the Harris Teeter store in Freshfields Village. There I picked up staples for my meals: fresh fruit and berries, brown rice, canned beans, a fresh chickpea salad for dinner the first night, nuts and a loaf of rosemary sourdough bread.

I loved having a kitchen to prepare meals in. It made it easier to stay with a healthy eating plan. And I like the meditative quality of preparing and cooking my own meals. At the Airbnb, eating those meals outdoors on the spacious, beautiful patio was a treat.

Tips for Eating the Blue Zones Way While Traveling kitchen
Tips for Eating the Blue Zones Way While Traveling – having a full kitchen makes meal prep easy

Eating Out While Traveling

With breakfasts and evening meals planned, that just left two lunches while in the Charleston area. I carried a list of possible cafés to dine in. All offered vegan options.

And it’s a good thing I created a list. My first choices for both Monday and Tuesday didn’t open for lunch. Instead, they opened at 5:00. I’m happy though with my ultimate choices, and I found a whole new area to explore on Tuesday in Freshfields.

Lunch Monday at Brown Dog Deli in Charleston was an amazing, filling salad  with seaweed, beans, cashews, greens and fried avocado. And Tuesday found me at Café Eugenia in Freshfields Village, dining on herbed potatoes, bean salad, hummus and toasted pita bread.

Before traveling, I looked at menus online, for every café that I considered as a possibility. That helped me tremendously. I knew what they offered and what I could order.

Brown Dog Deli lunch
Delicious lunch at Brown Dog Deli, Charleston
Tips for Eating the Blue Zones Way While Traveling Cafe Eugenia
Tips for Eating the Blue Zones Way While Traveling – lunch at Café Eugenia in Freshfields Village on Kiawah Island

In Review

When eating the Blue Zones way while traveling:

  • plan ahead…pre-select cafés and check out their online menus. If possible, stay in accommodations with a kitchen for prepping your own meals or book a hotel room with a kitchenette or at least a mini fridge and microwave.
  • know your diet…what you can eat and what foods to avoid
  • anticipate travel day meals and preview restaurants in airports OR pack snacks and meals if traveling by car
  • at your destination, stock up on healthy foods and cook your own meals
  • create a list of possible cafés for meals out…and check out menus online

And…if you do go off track and eat a meal that isn’t the healthiest, don’t beat yourself up. Just get back on track with the next meal and move on.

I’m happy to report that I did well eating the Blue Zones way while traveling. With a little planning and prepping, all of my meals, including snacks and afternoon teas, contain Blue Zones approved whole food plant based foods. That means, when I came home, I arrived without guilt or that awful feeling of overindulging.

Do you eat healthy when you travel?

afternoon tea
Afternoon tea – fresh fruit bowl and hot peppermint tea

 


 

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The Blue Zones Challenge Week Four

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The Blue Zones Challenge week four…completed! I’ve finished the challenge and I’m excited to share the results. Truly what began as a month long shift became a Blue Zones lifestyle that I intend to continue.

Check out the other weeks…One, Two and Three…and then let’s discuss Week Four.

The Blue Zones Challenge Week Four title meme

The Blue Zones Lifestyle

The Blue Zones lifestyle is based on the information gathered by Dan Buettner while studying regions in the world with the highest proportion of people who live to 100 years old. They are:

  • Sardinia, Italy – an island in the Mediterranean Sea
  • Ikaria, Greece – an Aegean island with the lowest rates of dementia
  • Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
  • Okinawa, Japan
  • Loma Linda, California – a community of Seventh Day Adventists who on average live ten years longer than other Americans

The challenge presents a shift in health practices that changes life for the better. It’s not just a diet or a fitness plan. Rather, it focuses on behavior, habits and environment.

The long term benefits of living a Blue Zones lifestyle include:

  • a longer, healthier life
  • more energy and increased strength
  • better sleep
  • weight loss and then weight maintenance
  • nurturing, supportive relationships
  • purpose
  • a better local community

Week Four Activities

Expanding on the last three weeks, week four focuses on food, connection and environment.

Review Purpose Statement

During the first week, the Blue Zones Challenge guides you to discover your purpose. Living with purpose is a key element for those in the Blue Zones. Okinawans call it ikigai – “reason for being”. Costa Ricans call it plan de vida – “life plan”. All recognize that a strong sense of purpose in older adults acts as a buffer against stress and helps reduce inflammation. That in turn helps to prevent Alzheimer’s, arthritis and strokes. Embracing a purpose in life…having something to get up for in the morning…can result in a longer, happier lifespan.

My purpose is to inspire others to live life beyond the edges, of fears, comfort zones and limiting beliefs, and to be healthy at any age.

I used this week to review my purpose statement and reflect on  how I am living that every day.

Eat at Least Three Blue Zones Meals

This week I tried three more new recipes from the Blue Zones Cookbook:

  • Ikarian Longevity Stew
  • Pasta with Fresh Tomato and Basil (I used gluten free pasta)
  • Veggie Hash

I haven’t eaten a Blue Zones recipe yet that I disliked! All taste delicious and they are filling and healthy.

The Blue Zones Challenge Week Four veggie hash
The Blue Zones Challenge Week Four – veggie hash

Walk with Buddy

Grateful again for Greg’s willingness to serve as my buddy and complete the challenge with me.

Designate a Space in the Home for Quiet Time

I’m working on this activity still. I’ve selected the space and began clearing the room to create a quiet corner where I can sit on the floor, read, meditate and journal. More on this project another time.

Get Blackout Shades or an Eye Mask to Improve Sleep

I don’t like wearing an eye mask and I didn’t purchase blackout shades. However, I do keep my room dark and cool to help me sleep soundly.

Declutter House

This is another ongoing activity that began several weeks ago, actually. I’m very sensitive to clutter and like the “place for everything and everything in its place” practice. However, it’s a good time to do another sweep through the house and clear away items that I no longer use, need or want.

Listen to Others with Deep Attention

I’m considered a good listener. This week I practiced greater awareness when listening to others. Often we are so busy thinking about what we are going to say next, that we don’t fully listen to the one talking.

Enjoy an Okinawan or Costa Rican Breakfast

Breakfasts in the Blue Zones look very different from the typical American meal. Beans are a common breakfast food in Costa Rica. And in Japan, miso soup and rice are popular. Breakfast looks much like lunch or supper in the Blue Zones

I’ve enjoyed this change for breakfast. Every morning we eat oats with berries, walnuts and chia seeds OR a bowl of rice and beans, in addition to celery juice and a fruit smoothie.

The Blue Zones breakfast basics are beans, cooked grains, fruits and veggies.

The Blue Zones Challenge Week Four breakfast
The Blue Zones Challenge Week Four – a typical breakfast, red beans and brown rice

Start a Container or Outdoor Garden

In the Blue Zones, people continue to garden well into their 90s and 100s. Gardening naturally encourages movement, from planting the seeds to weeding and watering to harvesting. Plus there’s the added benefit of sunshine and fresh air.

I have a large backyard garden, full of plants and herbs, and a raised bed garden for veggies. This week provided the perfect opportunity to work in my garden, planting flowers in containers and tucking some new herbs into the apothecary garden.

The Blue Zones Challenge Week Four garden
The Blue Zones Challenge Week Four – get into the garden

Consider Adopting a Dog or Cat

I have three rescue cats, Shy Boy, Angel and Rilynn, so I did not adopt another. My feline trio would not appreciate a new fur baby in the house.

I checked off all of the activities, or continue to work on them, except for enroll in a savings or investment plan and volunteer for a new group or organization.

Bonus Activities and Daily Check Ins

These remained the same as the last two weeks. See Week Two for a reminder of what those are. I exceeded the daily goal of 12 points. The goal for the entire four weeks is 400 points. I met that goal with a total of 512 points for the challenge.

My Results for the Four Week Challenge

My results for the challenge are so encouraging. I lost 8.2 pounds over the four weeks. My energy came up, joint stiffness improved and I love eating the Blue Zones way.

My biggest win from the challenge is the change in blood pressure. I began the Blue Zones challenge with the hope that I could control my blood pressure, which has crept up the last few months. Although I eat a plant based diet, I know I consumed too much salt, sugar and processed “healthy” foods.

During the challenge I eliminated salt, sugar and processed foods. I carefully adhered to the “rules”, eating 100% whole food plant based with an emphasis on beans, grains, vegetables and fruits. I walked or moved every day for at least 30 minutes. And I worked to reduce stress through meditation, movement, connection with others and relaxation.

Week One my blood pressure was 150/96. This week it was 118/77. That’s a remarkable improvement that I’m so happy about!

The Blue Zones Challenge Week Four ikarian stew
The Blue Zones Challenge Week Four – Ikarian stew

What’s Next?

Now that I’ve completed the four week challenge, what next? I’m celebrating my results, not with sugar laden foods or a heavy meal at a restaurant but with the determination to continue this lifestyle.

I appreciate the simplicity of the foods, the nudges to move and the connections with self and others. The book has a Part Five, Sustainability. It encourages the reader to turn the challenge into a lifestyle. I love that the remainder of the book includes monthly activities to continue the Blue Zones way of life for a full year.

I really appreciate the Blue Zones Challenge. What began as a way to lower my blood pressure and improve my eating habits has become a wonderful way to boost health and extend my life.

I leave on a trip tonight. While away I’m committed to following this lifestyle and making it work even while traveling. I’ve already planned out meals. One of my stops, before checking in to my Airbnb, is a grocery store to stock up on nutritious, healthy, simple ingredients.

Join Me?

If you are interested in the Blue Zones Challenge, pick up a book HERE. And make sure you visit their website. It is full of helpful suggestions and information.

I’ll post occasionally, to let you know how this Blue Zones lifestyle is going. I’m excited to continue trying new recipes and finding ways to better connect with others who are on health journeys of their own.

Do you have any questions about the Blue Zones challenge? Ask in the comments below.

The Blue Zones Challenge Week Four cindy

 

 

Journey With Healthy Me is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

I am not a medical practitioner. I study health and wellness related topics and share experiences from my own personal healing journey.

 

 

 

The Blue Zones Challenge Week Three

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I just completed the Blue Zones Challenge Week Three!

This four week challenge is flying by. Check out Week One and Week Two if you haven’t yet, and then read on to see the activities for Week Three and how I’m doing with this new lifestyle.

The Blue Zones Challenge Week Three title meme

The Blue Zones Lifestyle

The Blue Zones lifestyle is based on the information gathered by Dan Buettner while studying regions in the world with the highest proportion of people who live to 100 years old. They are:

  • Sardinia, Italy – an island in the Mediterranean Sea
  • Ikaria, Greece – an Aegean island with the lowest rates of dementia
  • Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
  • Okinawa, Japan
  • Loma Linda, California – a community of Seventh Day Adventists who on average live ten years longer than other Americans

The challenge presents a shift in health practices that changes life for the better. It’s not just a diet or a fitness plan. Rather, it focuses on behavior, habits and environment.

The long term benefits of living a Blue Zones lifestyle include:

  • a longer, healthier life
  • more energy and increased strength
  • better sleep
  • weight loss and then weight maintenance
  • nurturing, supportive relationships
  • purpose
  • a better local community
The Blue Zones Challenge Week Three books
The Blue Zones Challenge Week Three – my guide books

Week Three Activities

This week’s activities focused primarily on connection.

Eat Three Blue Zones Meals

After six years of living a plant based lifestyle, I have plenty of delicious recipes to rotate through. However, I’m really enjoying the recipes provided in the Blue Zones Challenge book and the companion book, Blue Zones Kitchen.

The recipes are simple and yet full of flavor and very filling.

This week I chose to prepare Big Batch Adventist Vegetable Soup, Adventist Brown Rice Salad and Okinawa Three Minute Noodles. I loved all three! The vegetable soup is full of veggies in a rich, vegetable broth, flavored with thyme and oregano. I’ll make this soup often.

The brown rice salad is so unique. Served cold, the married flavors of rice, black olives, peppers and cucumbers in a lemon, turmeric dressing is fantastic. It makes the perfect lunch meal, served with a single slice of sourdough bread.

And you know I love noodles! The recipe called for tofu however I rarely eat soy products. I chose to add a mix of stir fried veggies to the three minute noodles instead. Yum.

The Blue Zones Challenge Week Three soup
The Blue Zones Challenge Week Three – vegetable soup

Join a New Social Group

I confess I don’t really have time to join such a group in real life. It’s a busy season of my life. However the emphasis on connecting with others during the challenge…and beyond…impresses on me the importance of getting together with people more frequently than I currently do.

For now, I joined a social group…on social media: The Thriving Multipassionates. I love it. It’s for coaches, consultants and creatives on a mission to have it all.

Walk with  Your Buddy at Least Once

Greg is great to walk with me. We are making use of the tip to park as far as possible from stores.

Volunteer to be an Organ Donor

The Blue Zones is all about helping ourselves to better health and helping others in all kinds of ways. I love that. And I’m already an organ donor.

Call Text or Email Someone I Haven’t Connected with in a While

I selected my friend Lu Ann Cahn, the author and speaker who encouraged me, via her book, to start a blog. I sent Lu Ann a message via LinkedIn. Pick up her book and discover the incredible value of trying new experiences.

The Blue Zones Challenge Week Three book
Click photo to check out or order book

Plan a Vacation

I leave Sunday for South Carolina! I’m enjoyimg planning what I’ll do while there. Catch the post later about that trip on Cindy Goes Beyond.

I agree that it’s so important to plan and schedule down time. We need it so that our bodies, minds and spirits can refresh. I’m building in plenty of down time while away.

Start a Meditation Practice

I began a meditation practice many years ago. Even during the busiest weeks, I try to spend five minutes a day meditating. There are many ways to create such a practice from walking meditations to quiet times focusing on breath to coloring with soft music playing in the background.

Check out these ten benefits of meditation. And then set up a time to destress and downshift, in a quiet space with a supportive environment.

Put a Lavender Plant in the Bedroom

The scent of lavender relaxes the body and soothes the mind. A lavender plant in the bedroom promotes sleep. My bedroom doesn’t get direct sunlight, something the lavender plant needs. I’ll keep this wonderfully scented plant in my room overnights and put it on the front deck during the day, so it can receive necessary sunlight.

The Blue Zones Challenge Week Three lavender plant
The Blues Zones Challenge Week Three – lavender plant in the bedroom

Write a Thank You Note

Expressing gratitude in the form of a thank you note blesses the receiver and the giver. I took advantage of Mother’s Day this weekend to write a thank you in the card to my mom.

I didn’t do two activities this week: volunteer for a new organization and schedule a meetup with a friend. Volunteering is something I want to do in the future. And the meetup up with a friend came apart twice, due to changes in both of our schedules. We will get together when we can.

Bonus Activities and Daily Check Ins

These remained the same as last week. See Week Two for a reminder of what those are. I exceeded the daily goal of 12 points. The goal for the entire four weeks is 400 points. I’m on track to meet that goal.

The Blue Zones Challenge Week Three salad
The Blue Zones Challenge Week Three – brown rice salad

How I Did for Week Three

I feel like I’m in the Blue Zones flow this week, even though it was an extremely busy seven days. That presented a few challenges…during the challenge!

Batch cooking helps me keep healthy ready to eat food in the fridge, which is great when I’ve had a long day. I can reheat a prepared meal in minutes and there’s no temptation to cheat.

Greg and I also attended an out of town track conference that two of the grandkids participated in, that turned into an all day event. I seriously miscalculated on the amount of food to pack along. We ended up eating CHIPS (low sodium for me) and TATOR TOTS for lunch because I didn’t bring anything beyond apple slices and cashews to eat. Lesson learned. Better preparation is necessary when away from home.

Otherwise, it’s been an incredible week on the challenge. My blood pressure is back in the normal range. I lost more weight this week than I did during the first two weeks. The weekly grocery bill is much lower, eating these simple meals. And I feel so, so good. All of those things encourage me to keep going.

The Blue Zones Challenge Week Three noodles
The Blue Zones Challenge Week Three – Okinawa 3 minute noodles

On to Week Four

When I began this challenge it was with the intention to do four weeks and then evaluate whether I could continue with this lifestyle. The book continues it for me, with a full year of activities and suggestions. I’m in. This lifestyle is an easy one for me to embrace and yet it also challenges me to shift in the way I eat and connect more with others. As a happy loner who enjoys solo activities and travels, this is an area I can improve in.

If you are intrigued by the Blue Zones Challenge, pick up a book HERE. And make sure you visit their website. It is full of suggestions and information.

I’ll check in next week for the end of the four week challenge…a day early as I prepare to leave on my trip. And when I get back, I’ll let you know how I did with the Blue Zones lifestyle while traveling.

Do you have any questions about the Blue Zones challenge? Ask in the comments below.

The Blue Zones Challenge Week Three mother's day photo
My end of week three photo, a Mother’s Day shot.

 

Journey With Healthy Me is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

I am not a medical practitioner. I study health and wellness related topics and share experiences from my own personal healing journey.

 

 

 

The Blue Zones Challenge Week Two

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

Last week I introduced the Blue Zones Challenge, a four week guide to creating a longer, better life. See Week One HERE. I’ve just completed the second week and I’m loving the positive effect this shift in lifestyle is having.

Read about the new activities in the Blue Zones Challenge Week Two and the changes I’m making.

The Blue Zones Challenge Week Two title meme

The Blue Zones Lifestyle

The Blue Zones lifestyle is based on the information gathered by Dan Buettner while studying regions in the world with the highest proportion of people who live to 100 years old. They are:

  • Sardinia, Italy – an island in the Mediterranean Sea
  • Ikaria, Greece – an Aegean island with the lowest rates of dementia
  • Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
  • Okinawa, Japan
  • Loma Linda, California – a community of Seventh Day Adventists who on average live ten years longer than other Americans

The challenge presents a shift in health practices that changes life for the better. It’s not just a diet or a fitness plan. Rather, it focuses on behavior, habits and environment.

The long term benefits of living a Blue Zones lifestyle include:

  • a longer, healthier life
  • more energy and increased strength
  • better sleep
  • weight loss and then weight maintenance
  • nurturing, supportive relationships
  • purpose
  • a better local community
The Blue Zones Challenge Week Two blue notenook
The Blue Zones Challenge Week Two – my blue notebook

The Next Seven Days

Week One focused on setting up my environment for success. The next three weeks include activities that build on each preceding week and expand the challenge. As with the first week, I recorded my weight, blood pressure and heart rate. All were lower than Week One.

Week Two Activities

Put walking shoes in an easily accessible place

There’s a continued emphasis on walking at least 30 minutes a day. When shoes are out in an easily seen place, I’m more likely to put them on and get my walk in.

Stop eating when 80% full

I continued to wear the blue bracelet this week. I’m getting a better feel for what 80% full feels like, plus my appetite has decreased. Truthfully, I never feel deprived.

Eat at least three Blue Zones meals, using included recipes

I chose three recipes out of the book: Dan’s Dal Palak, Breakfast Cookies and Gallo Pinto. All were easy to prepare, healthy and delicious. The cookies contained only four ingredients: bananas, oats, dark chocolate chips and applesauce.

The Blue Zones Challenge Week Two cookies
Blue Zones Recipe – breakfast cookies

Walk with my buddy at least once

Greg happily walked with me a couple of times this week.

Fill fruit bowl and leave on counter

This activity is a continuation from last week. I strive to eat at least a banana and an apple a day, along with a couple of mandarin oranges. The fruit smoothies every morning contain an assortment of frozen fruits. And I add fresh strawberries and blueberries to oatmeal bowls.

Limit work to 40 hours

This activity made me very aware of the time I spend working, especially on a computer or my phone.

Drink herbal tea

I do this one already. Herbal teas are rich in nutrients and antioxidants and I drink at least two cups a day. I alternate between green tea and peppermint.

Tape a reminder to car dashboard to park farther away from store

I love this idea. Having the reminder in my car works well as I’m pulling into a store parking lot. I have indeed parked as far from the door as I can, which contributes to my walking time.

The Blue Zones Challenge Week Two note
The Blue Zones Challenge Week Two – place a reminder in the car

Set a reminder to get up and move every hour

I love this activity too! The free StretchMinder app on my phone alerts me every hour, from 9:00 am until 5:00 pm, with the reminder to get up and move. Additionally, the app has three to five minute routines to ease tension in my upper body and breathe deeply. I’m so happy with tool!

The Blue Zones Challenge Week Two app
The Blue Zones Challenge Week Two – stretchminder app

This week included new activities and reminders to continue what I learned last week. I checked off these activities except for three. I did not have time to take public transportation to run an errand or participate in a walking meet up. Hopefully I can work these in during the next two weeks. And although I have recipes picked for the hosted meal, I’ve not done it yet.

The Blue Zones Challenge Week Two tea
The Blue Zones Challenge Week Two – drink herbal tea

Bonus Activities

These activities award extra points for doing them.

  • walk with buddy or a group (3 points each time)
  • volunteer for at least 30 minutes (3 points each time)
  • try Blue Zones recipes (1 point for each recipe)
  • complete other Blue Zones activities (2 points for each)
  • spend 30 minutes engaged in a hobby or passion ( 1 point each time)
The Blue Zones Challenge Week Two gallo pinto
Blue Zones recipe – Gallo Pinto

Daily Check In

This week included a list of daily check in items and the requirement to record all food eaten. Research shows that keeping track of what you are doing…and eating…helps with short and long term goals. It’s encouraging to see the progress and it helps with time and meal planning.

Daily check ins included eating a 100% whole foods plant based diet, consuming a cup of beans a day, walking and limiting screen time except when working. Points are awarded for these items or subtracted for eating meat, dairy, processed foods and sweeten beverages. The target is 12 points a day, with the bonus points from the activities above added in. My daily totals exceeded that.

Additionally, I recorded all food eaten daily. It wasn’t hard to keep track of these activities, in my blue notebook. I keep it handy so I can jot down meals and tick off activities throughout the day.

How I Did for Week Two

I continue to greatly appreciate this challenge. During the second week I learned to eat legumes and grains for breakfast and lunch and eat very lightly for supper. Typically that last meal of the day consists of veggies only.

Greg and I both like eating the Blue Zones way. And the lifestyle shifts are so beneficial. Health wise, I feel incredible. I’m leaner, more energetic and my joints are pain free and limber. I climbed stairs this week, with ease. That’s something I haven’t done without pain or stiffness in my legs, in 27 years.

And I love the simplicity of the nutritious, filling meals. I’m excited to try more Blue Zones recipes during Week Three.

I discovered this week that the Blue Zones Challenge book actually provides a year long challenge, if one desires to continue. Yes, I do want to continue. After the initial four week challenge, I’ll post occasional updates and insights, so you know how it’s going.

For now, watch for the Week Three update!

The Blue Zones Challenge Week Two me

 


 

Journey With Healthy Me is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

I am not a medical practitioner. I study health and wellness related topics and share experiences from my own personal healing journey.

 

 

 

 

The Blue Zones Challenge Week One

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

Have you heard of the Blue Zones? Doing research for a post about living longer…and healthier…I came across the books and studies by Dan Buettner. Working for National Geographic, with a grant from National Institute on Aging, Dan identified and studied the longest lived people on Earth.

These people lived in regions in the world that Dan dubbed the “blue zones”…so named because he circled those areas on the map with a blue marker. And what he discovered were commonalities among those who frequently lived at least a decade longer than other people.

Dan’s recent book offers a four week guide to a longer, better life, inspired by the world’s longest lived people. And while I’ll still write a post on best foods for longevity…at some point…what I discovered reading Dan’s books and gathering info propelled me into shifts that are making a difference in my life. I gladly accepted the four week challenge and I’m documenting my journey to share with you.

This is the Blue Zones Challenge week one.

The Blue Zones Challenge Week One title meme

Four Weeks to a Better, Happier, Less Stressed Life

The challenge presents a way to look at health that changes life for the better. It’s not just a diet or a fitness plan. Rather, if focuses on behavior, habits and environment.

The long term benefits of living a Blue Zones lifestyle include:

  • living a longer, healthier life
  • more energy, improved strength and increased health
  • better sleep
  • weight loss and then weight maintenance
  • nurturing supportive relationships
  • discovering purpose
  • creating a better local community

The Blue Zones lifestyle is based on the information gathered while studying regions with the highest proportion of people who live to 100 years old. They are:

  • Sardinia, Italy – an island in the Mediterranean Sea
  • Ikaria, Greece – an Aegean island with the lowest rates of dementia
  • Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
  • Okinawa, Japan
  • Loma Linda, California – a community of Seventh Day Adventists who on average live ten years longer than other Americans

Blue Zones Power 9

The lifestyle habits of the world’s longest lived people:

  • move naturally
  • live with purpose
  • downshift – destress
  • 80 percent rule – stop eating when 80% full
  • plant based diet
  • wine – one glass a day or herbal tea
  • faith
  • families first
  • social circles
The Blue Zones Challenge Week One fruit bowl
The Blue Zones Challenge Week One – keep fruit out where it’s easily accessible

The Blue Zones Challenge Goals

The goals for the four week challenge:

  • learn the secrets of the world’s longest living people
  • set up environment so that healthy choices are easy
  • upgrade social network
  • consume a whole foods plant based diet that is low sugar

Following are the activities for week one, setting up for success. This week is crucial for the success of the rest of the challenge. The Blue Zones lifestyle is created for sustainability. Setting up the home, social circle and schedule makes living this way a joy, rather than a chore.

Step 1: Test Yourself

The challenge begins with three online tests, Vitality, Happiness and Purpose, to get a beginning baseline. I took all three tests and recorded my results. If you know me and my journey, you’ll know I scored high in all three. There’s a whole section on finding your purpose and living it, that I loved.

Step 2: Find a Blue Zones Buddy

Greg agreed to be my Blue Zones Buddy, which is good since we share space! He has accompanied me on my plant based lifestyle and healing journeys. So I’m grateful he’s willing to do the four week Blue Zones challenge with me as well. It makes meal preparation easier.

Step 3: Set Up Home for Better Health

In the kitchen:

  • post the lists of FOUR ALWAYS, FOUR TO AVOID foods
  • post the FOOD GUIDELINES
  • stock up on the ALWAYS foods and other plant based foods
  • remove any AVOID foods
  • keep a bowl of fruit out where it’s accessible

The always list includes 100% whole grains, nuts, beans and fruits/veggies.

Since we are already plant based, this was an easy process. However, we are eating differently too so I stocked up on grains such as quinoa, brown rice and oats and legumes such as chickpeas, black eyes peas and red beans, nuts and fruits and veggies.

The avoid list includes sweet beverages, salty snacks, packaged sweets and processed meats and foods.

Rest of the house:

  • keep walking/running shoes out and ready to use
  • set up a place in the home with pillows on the floor for reading, writing or relaxing
  • place a scale in a convenient location for daily weighing
  • record starting weight, blood pressure and heart rate

Walking is an important daily component of the challenge.

Sitting on the floor improves posture and core strength. Getting down on the floor and back up also strengthens legs and builds stamina.

I am not a fan of daily weigh ins, however, Dan points out that those who weigh daily maintain their weight much better than those who never weigh.

The Blue Zones Challenge Week One guidelines
Always and Avoid food lists and guidelines, hanging on my fridge.
The Blue Zones Challenge Week One bracelet
The Blue Zones Challenge Week One – wear a blue bracelet to remind you to eat until 80% full

Step 4: Wear a Blue Bracelet Daily

The purpose of the bracelet, or any other blue jewelry, is to remind the wearer to eat until 80% full. If that sounds hard to gauge, think of it as feeling satisfied, but not full. Or when you “save room for dessert” after a meal. Don’t overeat, in other words.

Optional Steps

  • purchase a pressure cooker, also called an Instant Pot (I have one)
  • buy glass or reusable plastic containers for food prep and leftovers (have them)
  • do a mapping exercise of your neighborhood to identify places within walking or biking distance. Include cafés, grocery stores, coffee shops, parks etc.

I love the neighborhood mapping idea. I’m still working on mapping mine out. I’ve already discovered a wonderful neighborhood coffee shop that serves hot tea and healthy snacks. See my review of Zinc Coffee Shop HERE.

The Blue Zones Challenge Week One neighborhood
Zinc Coffee Shop in my neighborhood.

How I Did for Week One

I created a blue notebook for tracking my progress. The Blue Zones book, which I purchased via Amazon HERE, has space to record your progress however I decided not to write in the book. That way I can loan it out to others.

When I choose to participate in a challenge or make a change, I go all in. So my notebook has notes and results and places to record weight, blood pressure, heart rate and activities.

Meals

I didn’t find it difficult to eat the Blue Zones way.

Breakfast is the largest meal. Greg and I drink celery juice and a fruit smoothie and then enjoy a bowl of oatmeal with berries, walnuts and chia seeds OR a bowl of rice and beans. Eating more in the morning keeps us full longer and provides lots of energy.

Lunch is smaller. We typically have a chopped veggie salad topped with chickpeas and sugar free dressing. Or we might have a baked potato or sweet potato and veggies.

Supper is the smallest meal. It consists of a bowl of rice or quinoa and beans. Snacks include an apple or other fruit, nuts (two handfuls a day) or one slice of authentic sourdough bread. I tried a bakery in my neighborhood for the first time, that produces old world style sourdough bread without sugar. Watch for a review of this amazing place soon. Dan recommends sourdough bread as the best for health.

The Blue Zones Challenge Week One breakfast oats
The Blue Zones Challenge Week One – breakfast oats
The Blue Zone Challenge Week One breakfast beans
Or beans and rice for breakfast. This is also what we ate for supper some nights.

The Other Activities

I walked every day, always in my own neighborhood. As I walk, I’m mapping out crucial places to visit such as a park, a place to pick up fresh produce and cafés.

The blue bracelet stays on my wrist all day, as a reminder to stop eating before I am full. I’ve weighed daily, sat on the floor daily, although twice I’ve done that activity right before bed.

I’m drinking water or herbal teas. I’m not a wine drinker. However, Dan suggests herbal teas if wine isn’t your thing.

And I’m tracking my progress in my blue notebook. This evening I’ll complete the final section for day seven: three big wins from the week, lessons I’ve learned, gratitudes and my thoughts.

The Blue Zones Challenge Week One lunch
The Blue Zones Challenge Week One – lunch
The Blue Zones Challenge Week One fruit
A typical snack…or one night, supper.

Results After a Week

Greg and I chatted about the week today. We both love the simplicity of eating this way and find the larger breakfasts helpful. In fact, Greg said this has been his favorite way of eating plant based. Neither of us has experienced hunger or cravings.

We both slept better this week, lost weight and felt more energetic. And we feel lighter, leaner and stronger.

I’ve also noticed that doing the challenge seems to empower me to tackle other things with more purpose. Not only did I super-clean the refrigerator while stocking it with lots of healthy foods, I powered through writing blog and social media posts and working on some big ideas and projects. For me there’s a connection between doing one thing well and then performing well in other areas. I love it.

I’m looking forward to the Blues Zones Challenge Week Two! Watch for an update next week as I continue to make shifts in my lifestyle. And check out the Blue Zones website HERE for more info and wonderful ideas.

The Blue Zones Challenge Week One floor
The Blue Zones Challenge Week One – sitting on the floor for tea time

 


 

Journey With Healthy Me is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

I am not a medical practitioner. I study health and wellness related topics and share experiences from my own personal healing journey.

 

 

Vegan Burrito Bowl with Quinoa

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

Looking for a simple, hearty recipe featuring whole foods and the superfood quinoa? Look no further. I have just the recipe for you!

Vegan burrito bowl with quinoa comes together in under 30 minutes plus it is versatile and highly nutritious. Loaded with protein packing black beans and fresh veggies along with amazing quinoa, you’ll turn to this recipe again and again for a savory meal.

Vegan Burrito Bowl with Quinoa title meme

Superfood Quinoa Benefits

Although technically a seed, quinoa is typically grown as a grain crop. Quinoa comes in red, black and white varieties.  It is gluten free, high in protein and one of the few plant based foods that provides all nine essential amino acids that the body needs.

Additionally, quinoa is high in fiber, magnesium, vitamins B and E, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, copper, zinc and antioxidants.

The seed’s antioxidants help calm inflammation throughout the body and provide anti-cancer, anti-viral and anti-depressant properties. There are so many other health benefits from including quinoa in the diet that I wrote a post about it. Check it out HERE.

Vegan Burrito Bowl with Quinoa

The need to use an avocado before it passed its prime inspired this easy recipe. With basic pantry items, I created a filling bowl of goodness without the extra calories, meat and dairy products that a traditional burrito brings.

Although I didn’t prepare the vegan burrito bowl with quinoa in one pan…I used two…I think that’s a possibility, making clean up quicker and easier.

Vegan Burrito Bowl with Quinoa

journeywithhealthyme
Quick and filling burrito bowl featuring superfood quinoa
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 6 Servings

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic gloves, minced
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 orange bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cups cooked black beans may use 1 can black beans
  • 1 cup frozen corn may use half a can of corn
  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes, in juice. Do not drain.
  • 2 tsp Mexican seasoning may use cumin or chili powder
  • 3 cups shredded lettuce, for bowl
  • 1 avocado, diced, for bowl

Instructions
 

  • Combine 1 cup of quinoa and 2 cups of water in a medium sized saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • White quinoa cooks, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic, cooking for 2 minutes.
  • Add mushrooms and bell peppers, stir frying until veggies are almost tender. Add frozen corn, diced tomatoes in juice, black beans and seasoning. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until quinoa is done.
  • When quinoa is done, remove from heat, fluff with a fork and add to veggie mixture. Mix well. Season with sea salt and black pepper, if desired.
  • In a bowl, spoon in burrito mixture, shredded lettuce and diced avocado. Add additional toppings, if desired.
    Makes approximately 6 servings. Store leftovers in covered container in fridge.
Keyword Burrito Bowl, quinoa, Vegan

 

Tips for Creating Vegan Burrito Bowl with Quinoa

Pick up quinoa at your favorite grocery store or order HERE. I usually add a drizzle of olive oil to the quinoa pot, before reducing heat and simmering.

Add additional veggies to mixture, if desired. Summer squash, zucchini, broccoli or cauliflower are good choices. Don’t like mushrooms? Leave them out.

To create a one pot meal, add a half cup of vegetable broth and the uncooked quinoa after adding black beans, diced tomatoes with juice, corn and seasoning. Bring just to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir well and serve.

I use Frontier Co-op Mexican Fiesta Seasoning with chilis, tomato and cumin. You can use cumin or chili seasoning instead. If you’d like extra heat, add crushed red pepper flakes before serving or a diced jalapeno when stir frying veggies.

In my bowl, I included shredded lettuce and diced avocado. Use salsa, guacamole, sliced green onions, vegan cheese, shredded cabbage, black olives or toppings of choice. Add small tortilla chips if you aren’t limiting sodium.

Vegan Burrito Bowl with Quinoa mixture
Vegan Burrito Bowl with Quinoa – veggie and quinoa mixture

Enjoying My Burrito Bowl

I love the blend of flavors in this burrito bowl. With plenty of leftovers, it’s a “cook once, eat twice”…or more…recipe that freezes well, making a quick heat and serve meal after a busy day.

Quinoa is one of my favorite foods right now. I never tire of trying new recipes with it as my base. (You might like this Quinoa and Broccoli Bowl as well.)

I’m excited to share that I’m about to begin a new health adventure as I participate in the Blue Zones 4 Week Challenge. Watch for upcoming posts about the challenge. Since whole grains play a vital role in the Blue Zones meals, I’ll be eating quinoa several times a week.

I hope you enjoy this vegan burrito bowl with quinoa. Let me know in the comments if you try the recipe. And please share your favorite quinoa recipes with me!

Vegan Burrito Bowl with Quinoa ready to eat

 

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Easy Teriyaki Noodles and Veggies

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If there’s one food I could enjoy several times a week…if not every day…it’s Asian noodles. I love them with a little teriyaki. Served with stir fried veggies they are amazing. Combine those teriyaki noodles with veggies and yes, plate those up for me right now, please!

This easy teriyaki noodles with veggies recipe comes together so quickly, for a fast and filling meal. Keep a box of noodles or pasta in the pantry and some fresh veggies in the fridge and you can make this meal in minutes whenever you want.

Easy Teriyaki Noodles with Veggies title meme

Easy Teriyaki Noodles with Veggies

The only thing I love more than Asian noodles is making them myself at home. With a few pantry items, I can indulge my noodles craving any time.

Noodles are versatile too. Eat them plain. Add veggies of choice. Stir fry them for extra flavor.

Use this recipe as a springboard for your own creative recipe.

Easy Teriyaki Noodles with Veggies sesame seeds

Easy Teriyaki Noodles with Veggies

journeywithhealthyme
Asian style noodles with teriyaki sauce and stir fried veggies
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 4 Servings

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 3/4 cup baby carrots or shredded carrots
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets
  • 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
  • 10 ounces uncooked gluten free soba noodles or spaghetti
  • sesame seeds for garnish

Instructions
 

  • In a large pot, cook noodles according to package directions or to desired level of tenderness.
  • While noodles cook, sauté chopped onions and minced garlic in a large non stick skillet, in olive oil for three minutes.
  • Add broccoli and cauliflower florets and baby carrots. Stir fry over medium high heat until veggies are crisp tender. Stir in teriyaki sauce, coating veggies. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for five minutes.
  • When noodles are done, drain well and immediately add to skillet with veggies. Turn heat up to medium and stir fry noodles and veggies, mixing well, for two minutes. Serve immediately. Garnish with sesame seeds, if desired. Makes 4 servings.
Keyword Asian Noodles, Teriyaki Noodles

 

Easy Teriyaki Noodles with Veggies stir fry
Easy Teriyaki Noodles with Veggies – stir fry with teriyaki sauce
Easy Teriyaki Noodles with Veggies pan
Easy Teriyaki Noodles with Veggies – adding cooked noodles

Tips for Making Easy Teriyaki Noodles with Veggies

If you aren’t gluten sensitive, use regular soba noodles. Can’t find soba noodles? Substitute regular spaghetti. I cooked the soba noodles for about five and a half minutes. Check after five minutes, so you don’t overcook. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil into the boiling water when adding the noodles, to prevent them from sticking together.

Use your veggies of choice, if desired, instead of broccoli, carrots and cauliflower. Sliced mushrooms, snow peas, kale, cubed sweet potatoes or green peppers are suggestions. I tend to use whatever veggies I have on hand.

Also, use your favorite purchased sauce or make your own teriyaki, peanut or Asian sauce. (Watch for an upcoming post on making your own sauces.)

Add diced green onions, sesame seeds, chopped sunflower seeds, peanuts or cilantro for garnish. Or add a squeeze of lime juice or a few drops of hot sauce.

Easy Teriyaki Noodles with Veggies sesame seeds
Easy Teriyaki Noodles with Veggies and sesame seeds.

Love My Noodles

I love that I can easily whip up these delicious noodles whenever I want, instead of visiting a restaurant. They make a great inexpensive and yet nutritious lunch or dinner meal. I’m looking forward to experimenting with different sauce and veggie combinations with the noodles.

If you enjoy Asian noodles too, let me know what you think of this recipe. And try my Vegan Ramen Noodles recipe for another go to meal of mine.

What’s your favorite way to enjoy noodles? Share your recipe with me by leaving a link in the comments.

Easy Teriyaki Noodles with Veggies ready to eat

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