Scents that Promote Wellbeing

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Curiosity inspired this post, Scents that Promote Wellbeing. I recently read that inhaling jasmine’s sweet and intoxicating scent has health benefits equal to taking sedatives and relaxants.

Intrigued, I researched the science behind the power of scents, known as aromatherapy.

I present the results of my study, with the top scents that promote wellbeing and health.

Scents that Promote Wellbeing

The Science of Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy involves inhaling scents that stimulate the olfactory system, which includes the nose and the brain. Scent creates nerve impulses that travel to the limbic system in the brain. This region is most connected to survival, instincts and emotions.

Scent triggers emotional and physical responses, causing mood changes by altering brain chemistry.

We are familiar with these triggers. The scent of raw potatoes, for example, triggers memories of my mom buttoning up my coat as I headed outside to play. Her hands carried the homey scent of the potatoes she had peeled for dinner. Roses remind me of the perfume my grandmother wore. Both scents create feelings of love and the sense that all is well in my world.

Scents that Promote Wellbeing

The following scents possess powerful properties that help us feel better.

Lavender

Among scents that promote wellbeing, this versatile herb ranks high for calming and soothing the mind and body. Lavender reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, relieves headaches and relaxes the body into sleep.

Cinnamon

Derived from the inner bark of trees in the Cinnamomum family, this spice sharpens the mind and improves balance and motor skills. Cinnamon is especially helpful for drivers. The scent reduces fatigue and road rage while increasing alertness. Cinnamon stimulates the central nervous system, enhancing performance and motivation.

Scents that Promote Wellbeing

Peppermint

One of the most beneficial herbs, peppermint’s distinctive scent boosts concentration, instills confidence  and clarifies thoughts and emotions. Peppermint relieves stress while easing fatigue and eliminating chocolate cravings!

Citrus

The tangy scents of lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruit energize the mind and body and boost mood. Citrus regulates hormones, supports the immune system and eases depression and anxiety. Often included in household cleaners, that citrusy scent ramps up the joy we feel as we clean house. Clever, huh?

Vanilla

This warm and seductive scent, derived from the vanilla bean, elevates mood while reducing anxiety. Vanilla eases fatigue, induces calmness and soothes an upset stomach.

Scents that Promote Wellbeing

Jasmine

The scent from this beautiful flower has powerful properties. Jasmine eases depression, lowers anxiety and improves cognitive function. Like lavender, jasmine quiets the mind and relaxes the body into sleep. Recent studies of the benefits of this plant provide evidence of a scientific basis for aromatherapy.

Apple

I’m familiar with the many health benefits of the simple apple. However, inhaling the scent of this fruit reduces the symptoms of headaches and shortens the duration of migraines. Amazingly, the crisp, tart scent of an apple triggers hormones that signal the body that hunger is satisfied.

Sage

Known as an aromatic herb, inhaling sage’s characteristic scent reduces blood pressure, slows respiration and relaxes the body. Sage eases stress while improving memory and attention.

Scents that Promote Wellbeing

Scents that Promote Wellbeing

I’m fascinated by my findings and yet not surprised to discover the power of aromatherapy. Scents are strongly connected to emotions and memories. They possess the ability to shift brain chemistry and create positive changes in the body as a result.

Essential oils are one way to receive the benefits from aromatherapy. Apply one or two drops of lavender or citrus essential oils to a cotton ball and inhale the scent. Or add drops to a bowl of hot water or to a diffuser. Allow the diffuser to run for 15 to 60 minutes. Connect with my friend Marijo to learn more about Young Living Essential Oils.

Other ways to enjoy increased wellbeing through aromatherapy include:

  • inhale the scent from fresh apples, lemons, sage, peppermint, lavender and jasmine for several minutes
  • keep a potted lavender, sage or jasmine plant in the house
  • add sticks of cinnamon and vanilla beans to a pot of water simmering on the stove
  • create sachets filled with dried sage, peppermint, lavender or jasmine
  • brew tea from fresh or dried sage, peppermint, lavender or jasmine and inhale the scent from the steaming cup

I keep a tiny lavender filled pillow on my bedside table. The words “this is bliss” are printed on it. Eyes closed, preparing to sleep, I love to hold it beneath my nose and breath in deeply. As I inhale, I breath in calm, peace and relaxation. I exhale any stress from the day, tension and busy thoughts.

This is bliss, indeed.

Scents that Promote Wellbeing

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This post is linked on Senior Salon #20

Steamed Apple Dessert

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Since completed the liver cleanse, as detailed in the book, Liver Rescue, one of my ongoing goals is to eat three apples a day. I’ve mostly enjoyed a sliced apple or two with afternoon tea and another one as an after dinner snack. Occasionally I combine apples with other fruits or veggies to create a freshly prepared blended juice.

This evening I came up with another way to meet my apple quota, using the pressure pot. Simple, nutritious and delicious, the steamed apple dessert was a perfect after dinner treat.

Steamed Apple Dessert

Steamed Apple Dessert

Steamed Apple Dessert
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Steamed Apple Dessert

Easy to prepared steamed apple dessert, sugar and gluten free.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Steamed Apple Dessert
Servings: 2
Author: journeywithhealthyme

Ingredients

  • 4 apples
  • 1/2 cup organic maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp raisins optional
  • 2 tbsp walnuts optional

Instructions

  • Wash, core and slice apples, leaving the peeling on. Place sliced apples in a large bowl.
  • In a small bowl, combine organic maple syrup and cinnamon.
  • Pour maple syrup mixture over sliced apple, mixing to coat.
  • Add 1/2 water to bottom of pressure pot. Arrange apple slices on steamer rack.
  • Cover pressure pot and lock lid into place. Select steamer option. Steam for 5 minutes. Release steam manually.
  • Serve steamed apple slices with organic raisins and walnuts if desired.

Steamed Apple Dessert

Simple Goodness

The steamed apple dessert took less than 10 minutes to prepare. Warm and fragrant, the apples tasted like the filling in apple pie, but without the sugar.

I added a spoonful of organic raisins and a few walnuts. What a great after dinner treat. These steamed apples could top banana ice cream or gluten free oatmeal as well.

Apples, red skinned apples especially, provide powerful benefits. They play a crucial role in fighting inflammation of all kinds. Apples calm the systems of the body by reducing viral and bacterial loads that contribute to inflammation. In addition, the phytochemicals in apples feed the neurons of the brain and increase electrical activity. That makes them brain food! Apples also cleanse the liver and help to dissolve gallstones.

I am determined to do more than eat an apple a day, to keep the doctor away. If one is good for my health, three are even better. To that end, I’ll be enjoying steamed apple dessert frequently, as a lovely and tasty tribute to all the goodness in this amazing fruit.

Steamed Apple Dessert

You can purchase a pressure pot, also called an instant pot, by clicking on the photo below.

 

 

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Herbal Teas that Relieve Bloating

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A reader recently made a request. She asked about herbal teas that relieve bloating. I’m happy to respond with a post that offers help.

Bloating is a condition in which the abdomen feels uncomfortably full. Triggers for bloating include:

  • intolerance to dairy, gluten, high protein or high fiber
  • build up of gas
  • intestinal bacteria out of balance
  • constipation
  • parasites

Up to 30% of the population experiences bloating, the majority as a result of food intolerance. If this discomfort is a problem for you, check out these herbal teas that relieve bloating.

Herbal Teas that Relieve Bloating

Peppermint

The use of this herb for healing the digestive system dates back to ancient Rome, Greece and Egypt. Peppermint relieves bloating, gas, constipation and other digestive disorders by relaxing the gut and calming intestinal spasms. It is especially helpful in treating irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis.

Steep 3 teaspoons of fresh or dried peppermint in a cup of very hot water for 15 minutes.

Lemon Balm

A member of the mint family, lemon balm has a pleasant lemony scent and flavor. This herb possesses antiviral, antibacterial and sedative properties. It’s a digestive stimulant as well. As a tea it soothes indigestion, nausea and bloating. Many people suffer with sensitive stomachs and guts. Lemon balm soothes and calms the nerve receptors in the digestive tract and reduces inflammation so that the nerves become less sensitive. It is also anti-parasitic.

Add 2 – 3 teaspoons of fresh or dried lemon balm leaves to a cup of boiling water. Steep for 15 minutes.

 

Herbal Teas that Relieve BloatingFresh lemon balm

Fennel

One of the most widely used herbs in the world, fennel seeds are used to treat many ailments, including stimulating the digestive system. The plant with the slight licorice scent and taste eases the discomfort of gas while stimulating bile for better digestion. And better digestion means less risk of bloating.

To make fennel tea, steep 1- 2 teaspoons of fennel seeds in a cup of boiling water for 15 minutes.

Chamomile

A member of the daisy family, this herb contains flavonoids and terpenoids that provide medicinal properties. Chamomile relaxes the digestive system, relieving the discomfort related to bloating. The herb also treats gassiness, indigestion and nausea, which commonly accompany bloating.

Use 2 teaspoons of fresh or dried chamomile flowers to make tea, steeping them for 15 minutes in a cup of boiling water.

Ginger

The healing power of ginger has been used for thousands of years to cure a host of digestives problems. The root of the plant contains bioactive compounds that ease bloating quickly. Ginger stimulates the digestive system, eases nausea and soothes acid reflux. It also fights against pathogens in the gut.

Peel a 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger and slice into slivers. Steep in a cup of boiling water for 5 – 10 minutes.

Herbal Teas that Relieve Bloating

Dandelion

Although considered a weed, this powerful little plant makes a great herbal tea that relieves bloating. Dandelion flowers stimulate the digestive system and have a cleansing effect on the intestines, eliminating bloating.

Gather a handful of fresh dandelion flowers, in an area free from chemicals, pollution and herbicides. Steep flowers in hot water for 15 minutes. Or cover flowers with water and store in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Strain out flowers and sip on dandelion water throughout the day.

Lavender

This very versatile herb originated in the Mediterranean. It’s been used medicinally for centuries. Drinking lavender tea eases digestive problems that cause bloating, including gas, an upset stomach, abdominal pain and swelling. Lavender also stimulates a sluggish appetite, which can accompany bloating.

Pour boiling water over 2 – 3 teaspoons of fresh or dried lavender flowers. Steep for 15 minutes.

Herbal Teas that Relieve Bloating

Additional Tips to Ease Bloating

Bloating is a symptom, indicating the digestive system is sluggish or reacting. Consider eliminating dairy, gluten, high protein and high fiber, one at a time, for a week. Notice whether bloating is relieved or improved.

I talk to people every day who want to feel better. However, they don’t want to give up their “favorite” foods, even though those foods are making them feel bad. Many people have a dairy or gluten intolerance and don’t realize it. Stop eating those foods, for a short time, to confirm whether that’s the case or not.

Eliminating those problem causing foods reduces gas build up and restores digestive health. Drinking herbal teas increases water consumption, which helps to ease constipation. Turmeric balances gut flora. And adding raw organic honey to herbal teas that relieve bloating adds an anti-parasitic property to the drink.

The herbal teas ease bloating, and improve health and wellbeing, while you discover the underlying cause. Be sure to check in with your primary care physician also.

Here’s to enjoying health, at every age!

Herbal Teas the Relieve Bloating

Visit my Amazon Storefront to order herbal teas and tea supplies.

 

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20 Easy to Implement Health Tips

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I’m asked questions, daily, about health. Some want to know how I’ve improved my wellbeing. Some wonder what I eat. Others are dealing with ailments and illnesses. They hope for healing and an improved quality of life.

Very few are willing to make the choices that I have made, that led to incredible changes in my life. However, that’s okay. People must make their own choices. Often, it takes being in a drastic situation to make a drastic change in lifestyle.

For those who want to shift their health gradually, or take small steps toward greater wellbeing, pick and choose through these 20 easy to implement health tips. Try one or two…or try them all.

20 Easy to Implement Health Tips

20 Easy to Implement Health Tips

Keep a Well Stocked Pantry

One major way to avoid the fast food trap is to keep a well stocked pantry. At the end of a long day it’s easier to drive through Taco Bell rather than face the daunting task of figuring out what to fix at home, unless food is readily available. Your definition of a well stocked pantry may differ from mine, but good options include canned goods, pasta, marinara sauce, fresh veggies, spices, rice and beans. In minutes a healthy, wholesome meal can be prepared, saving money while improving health.

Cook at Home

Following on the above tip, cooking at home ensures knowing exactly what you are eating. There are no hidden additives or fillers or calories. I recently read an interesting Cambridge study that found that those who cook and eat at home at least five days a week are 47% more likely to still be alive ten years later!

Prep Food

Another tip for making meals quickly is to prep food ahead of time. You don’t have to spend all day Sunday getting ready for the next week. Spend an hour or two doing the following:

  • chop veggies to have on hand for salads, stir fries, soups, veggie bowls and for roasting (cut a variety of veggies to uniform size, add 1 teaspoon melted coconut oil and spices of choice, roast for 40 minutes in 400 degree oven)
  • wash and prep berries and store in refrigerator to use in berry bowls and to top banana ice cream, oatmeal or gluten free pancakes
  • meal planning is a great way to make sure you are using the food you purchase and making the most of seasonal produce and sales
  • batch cooking soups, chilis, sauces and rice dishes puts meals in the fridge ready to reheat and eat.

Use a Pressure Pot

This handy appliance is great for preparing healthy meals quickly. Brown rice cooks in 25 minutes. Keep cooked rice or quinoa in the fridge, ready to add to stir fries and other recipes. The steam option on the pressure pot perfectly cooks fresh veggies in minutes, creating a vegetable bowl full of goodness in under 15 minutes.

Cook with a Slow Cooker

Another great kitchen appliance is the slow cooker. Prepare a pot of pinto or black beans to have on hand for salads, rice and bean dishes and veggie bowls. A great, simple recipe for slow cooker beans: soak 2 cups of beans overnight. Drain and rinse. Add to slow cooker along with 1 diced onion, 2 cloves garlic, minced, 6 cups of water, 1 teaspoon chili seasoning and 1 teaspoon cumin. Cook 7 – 8 hours on low or 5 hours on high.

20 Easy to Implement Health Tips

Use Smaller Plates

To help with portion control, use smaller plates and bowls. They look full when food is added, rather than using a large plate that’s half filled with small portions. It’s all about perceptions and beliefs. A full plate makes us feel better.

Is it Hunger?

Wondering if you are hungry or experiencing a craving? Think of eating an apple. If you are truly hungry, an apple sounds good. If it’s a craving, it doesn’t. Don’t feed cravings.

Stay Hydrated

Most people are chronically dehydrated. And the body can actually confuse thirst with hunger. To stay hydrated tote water in a fun water bottle. There are all kinds of playful or practical water bottles available. There are even apps that help you track your water intact, like Plant Nanny, which combines drinking enough water with a cute online game.

Keep Lemon Water in the Fridge

At home, keep a pitcher or jug of lemon, lime or lemon/lime water prepped in the fridge. Lemon water has many health benefits. It’s a great drink to start the day with. Sip 8 to 12 ounces right after waking, on an empty stomach, to help the liver purge toxins and to wake up the digestive system. Warm the water or drink it cool.

Eat Meatless Meals

Among health tips, this one is well known. Most people are aware of Meatless Monday. Try enjoying meatless meals two times a week, minimum. Build those meals around beans, lentils, brown rice, quinoa and vegetables. People who eat meat are more at risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Give the body and the digestive system a break. When you do include meat opt for smaller, leaner cuts.

20 Easy to Implement Health Tips

Cover Your Plate with Veggies and Healthy Grains

If meat is on the menu, let it occupy no more than one quarter of that smaller plate you are using. Fill half of the plate with vegetables and the remaining quarter with brown rice or quinoa.

Eat More Whole Foods

Studies show that a whole food diet reduces the risks of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity and cognitive decline. Even if you don’t choose to embrace a 100% plant based lifestyle, including more whole foods, more vegetables and fruits, has tremendous benefits.

Make Substitutions

Another easy tip is to switch this for that. Try plant based milks instead of dairy. Substitute gluten free pasta for wheat varieties and sugar free marinara sauce for spaghetti sauce with added sugar. When baking, exchange eggs for flax eggs (1 tablespoon of flax seeds plus 3 tablespoons of water. Let set for 5 minutes before using.) And Sir Kensington’s Fabanaise is a wonderful and healthy alternative to mayo. Make substitutions a game, knowing every little healthy exchange helps.

Carry Your Own Snacks

Headed to a birthday party or a football game? Carry in your own snacks. It is easier to resist sugar laden birthday cake or that absolutely no good for you hot dog if you have something else to eat. Take along containers of sliced apples or grapes, a bunch of bananas, nuts or cut up veggies. I’ve attended family birthday parties and enjoyed my own healthy goody plate while others ate cake and ice cream. I didn’t feel left out or deprived at all. My motto is, “Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels.”

Grow Your Own Food

Create a small garden or a raised bed garden and grow your own vegetables. There is something magical about tucking a tiny plant into the ground, caring for it, and reaping the benefits of fresh produce. Start with a tomato plant or bell pepper plants, whatever you enjoy. These fresh vegetables taste better than anything you can buy, and they are so good for you. If you can’t grow your own, find a nearby farmer’s market to visit, for fresh produce. Just ask about GMO products and the use of chemicals and pesticides. You don’t want to consume those!

20 Easy to Implement Health TipsThis was my snack plate, at a birthday party. I brought my own fruits and my gracious family provided additional foods that they knew I could eat.

Anti-inflammatory Juice

Try this delicious juice blend if inflammation causes pain in joints: Run through a juicer 6 carrots, 3 celery stalks, 1 cup fresh pineapple and 1/2 of a lemon. Add a 1 inch piece of fresh turmeric through the juicer or add 1/2 teaspoon dried turmeric to juice blend. Bromelain in the pineapple combines with curcumin in the turmeric to create a natural anti-inflammatory that helps painful joints.

Make Juice at Home

Rather than purchasing juice, which can contain sugar or additives, create your own juice at home. There are so many vegetables and fruits that can be combined to make healthy and delicious juices. Try a combo of cucumber, apple and pear. Or juice together spinach, tomatoes and celery. I use this juicer.

Drink Celery Juice

Of all the health tips, I’d recommend this one for everyone: drink a glass of freshly prepared celery juice every morning, after the lemon water and before breakfast. Read about the benefit of celery juice here. This miraculous elixir is changing the health of people around the world. Celery juice began my journey toward improved health and led me to a plant based lifestyle. Anthony William has a new book coming out this month, dedicated entirely to celery juice and its benefits. Preorder it HERE.

Park the Car Farther From the Store

When out running errands, park the car farther from the store. Doing this multiple times while checking tasks off of the to do list provides mini walks throughout the day. It’s an easy way to get more steps in and we all know how beneficial walking is.

Find a Health Buddy

It is so encouraging to have a health buddy. Ask a friend or a family member to join you in creating better health habits or in coming up with health tips and practices of your own. Walk together, shop for groceries together, meet for meal prep or to batch cook or to chop veggies. Hold each other accountable. And be available to each other for encouragement, support, questions and victories. Celebrate each health improvement together…just not with cake!

Greg and my mom both joined me in my quest for better health. They are encouragers and they both shifted out of old ways of eating. As a result, both experience improved health and vitality as well. I’m grateful for their companionship on this journey.

It’s a Lifestyle

I hope these 20 easy to implement health tips encourage you to make small changes in your daily habits. These are not diet tips. Caring for health and well being is a lifestyle that continues on, not a temporary change with temporary results.

May these simple tips create the desire to learn more and become the healthiest version of yourself.

I’d love to hear about your health tips! Share them with me in the comments below.

20 Easy to Implement Health Tips


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Sweet Violet Tea Benefits

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A couple of weeks ago, I enjoyed foraging for tea in my own yard. Spring announces itself with a flurry of early blooming flowers and plants. I learned last fall that many of these harbingers of spring are edible, making them suitable for tea.

Since that day, I’ve enjoyed delicately flavored lilac tea and earthy redbud tea. From the backyard I gathered dead nettle and henbit. It grounds and centers me to gather wild edibles and savor them as tea.

I had one last tea to try, before this first blooming season ended. Sweet violet tea offers many health benefits and the gift of beauty as well.

Sweet Violet Tea Benefits

Sweet Violets

This common flowering perennial, which is considered an herb, is among the earliest to appear after winter. The hardy plants favor the edge of woods and are not too shy to show up in lawns and gardens, uninvited. The herbs prefer shady areas. Look for them near house foundations, in areas of the yard and garden protected by other plants and on the north side of structures.

The flowers range in color from dark purple to lilac to pale yellow to white. The plant, which reaches a modest height of four to six inches, has dark green heart shaped leaves.

In the late Victorian era, the sweet scent of the violet proved popular in fragrances and perfumes. The French created violet syrup and the Americans used this concoction to make violet scones and violet marshmallows.

Culturally, Shakespeare mentioned this sweet flower in these now famous lines from A Midsummer Night’s Dream:

“I know a bank where the wild thyme blows, where oxlips and the nodding violet grows, quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine, with sweet musk roses and with eglantine.”

Sweet Violet Tea Benefits

Sweet Violet Tea Benefits

Medicinally, sweet violets have been used for centuries, valued for their healing properties. The entire plant is edible and rich in vitamins A and C and full of bioflavonoids, alkaloids and anti-inflammatories.

Benefits include:

Anti-cancer properties that are effective against lung, skin, stomach and breast cancers.

Soothe respiratory ailments such as coughs, bronchitis, congestion, asthma and sinus infections.

Contains high amounts of rutin and salicylic acid which act similarly to aspirin. This makes the herb helpful for treating aches and pains, inflammation, flu symptoms, headaches and arthritis pain. Those same compounds help to prevent blood clots as well.

Eases nervousness, anxiety, stomachaches, indigestion, ulcers, insomnia, swollen glands, canker sores and gum disease.

Lowers blood pressure.

Added to baths, the flowers and leaves help treat psoriasis, eczema, rashes, sores and skin cancer.

Purifies the blood, strengthens the heart and detoxes and cleanses the entire body.

Sweet Violet Tea Benefits

Sweet Violet Tea

This herb is available online or at health conscious stores as dried tea, capsules, syrup, tinctures, extracts, creams and salves. Fresh flowers and leaves are suitable additions for salads, smoothies and fruit bowls.

However, in early spring it’s fun to gather sweet violet flowers and leaves and create freshly brewed tea.

I gathered a handful of delicate flowers and several small leaves from plants clustered in shady areas of my yard. When foraging, choose a patch of violets that are in a familiar area, where no chemicals or fertilizers have been used.

To brew sweet violet tea, cover 2 to 4 teaspoons of fresh or dried flowers and leaves with 1 cup of boiling water. Cover and allow tea to steep for 15 minutes. Strain and sweeten with organic honey if desired. Or for fun, leave the flowers and leaves in the tea.

Sweet Violet Tea Benefits

Enjoying Sweet Violet Tea

I sipped my first cup of sweet violet tea and savored the mild flavor. The brewed tea is a pretty shade of pale green, the perfect representation of spring’s arrival. My freshly prepared tea paired well with a bowl of apple slices, creating a simple afternoon tea.

I might get to enjoy a couple of cups of sweet violet tea before the flowers fade away.

It’s just the beginning of the growing season, however. Dandelions are popping up all over the yard. And while some see these cheerful plants as weeds or wishes, I see tea!

Sweet Violet Tea Benefits

Start a tea time tradition. Pick out your favorite teacups below.

 


 

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8 Toxic Ways Sugar Impacts the Body

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I think we all agree that sugar isn’t good for us. And yet, it is so difficult for most of us to eliminate it from our diets. We are raised consuming sugar and we die, consuming sugar. It is very much a part of the average American diet. In fact, sugar lurks in surprising places. The stuff is found in everything from cereal and drinks to spaghetti sauce and peanut butter.

I’m not going to say that you can’t have sugar. Me telling you that sugar is bad for you won’t shift you one bit. No, it’s a choice each person has to make. My desire is to share with you what sugar does to the body, and let you decide for yourself whether it’s something you want to continue to consume.

This is by no means a complete list, however, here are 8 toxic ways sugar impacts the body.

8 Toxic Ways Sugar Impacts the Body

How does sugar affect the body?

Sugar increases the risk of diabetes

Consuming too much sugar, especially in sugary drinks such as soda and sweet tea, causes obesity. And obesity is the strongest risk factor for developing diabetes. Prolonged consumption of  high levels of sugar leads to insulin resistance as well, causing blood sugar levels to rise. This condition is another major contributor to diabetes.

Sugar is linked to depression

A diet high in sugar can increase the chances of developing depression. Fluctuating blood sugar levels, inflammation and neurotransmitter dysregulation all have a negative impact on mental health.

Sugar causes weight gain

It’s a given that regularly consuming too much sugar puts on the pounds. But did you know that sugar actually increases your hunger? The hormone leptin regulates hunger and tells the body when to stop eating. Sugar can cause a resistance to this important hormone so that the body no longer responds to the signal that hunger is satisfied.

Additionally, those who drink a lot of sweetened drinks develop belly fat, a condition associated with diabetes and heart disease.

Sugar increases the risk of heart, liver and certain brain diseases

Heart disease is the leading cause of death. High sugar intake leads to obesity and causes inflammation, high triglycerides, high blood sugar and high blood pressure. All of these factors contribute to heart disease and atherosclerosis, which is characterized by fatty deposits in arteries.

Sugar overloads the liver, leading to potential liver damage and/or a condition known as fatty liver. Alzheimer’s and dementia are diseases that studies are connecting to high sugar consumption as well.

8 Toxic Ways Sugar Impacts the BodySkip the sugar and just eat the strawberries.

Sugar elevates the risk for cancer

Consuming high amounts of sugar may increase risks for certain types of cancer, primarily because of the inflammation that it produces. Sugar consumption has been associated with esophageal cancer, pleural cancer (the fluid filled space that surrounds the lungs), small intestinal cancer and endometrial cancer.

One study found that sugar is used by cancer cells to speed growth, enabling cancer to spread more quickly.

Sugar accelerates the skin aging process

Compounds called Advanced Glycation End Products are formed when sugar reacts with protein in the body. These compounds damage collagen and elastin, which help skin to remain elastic and youthful. As damaged skin loses its firmness it begins to sag, causing wrinkles.

Additionally, sugar increases cellular aging as well. And trust me, that’s worse than sagging skin.

Sugar causes inflammation throughout the body

Many doctors claim that inflammation is the root cause of disease in the body. A sugar laden diet causes inflammation throughout the body, and continues to feed inflammation once it develops. That inflammation affects blood vessels, organs and joints.

Sugar is addictive

In recent years some have called sugar more addictive than cocaine. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition on how sugar impacts the body, found that it is indeed, addictive.

A high sugar drink or food causes a spike in blood sugar and insulin and an increase in hunger and cravings for about four hours after consumption. What the study showed is that a region in the brain, the pleasure center, lights up as well. The conclusion is that foods and drinks that spike blood sugar are biologically addictive.

I can believe that.

There are more than 600,000 processed foods available on the market and 80% of those have added, and often hidden, sugars. The average American consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar a day. The body can safely process about 8 teaspoons. The food industry uses sugar and high fructose corn syrup to addict us to foods. We crave them. Sweetener is used as well to make bad ingredients, like processed flours and chemicals, taste good.

8 Toxic Ways Sugar Impacts the Body

Reducing Sugar Intake

If you’d like to reduce sugar consumption, try these suggestions:

  • Eat more whole natural foods such as fruits and vegetables. Fruit is good for us. Don’t worry about the natural fructose found in fruits.
  • Drink water and herbal teas rather than soda and sweet tea or sweetened artificially flavored drinks.
  • Read labels, on everything. Sugar is hidden is so many foods. Look for it near the top of the list of ingredients. Choose sugar free foods as much as possible.
  • Avoid artificial sweeteners such as aspartame. Sugar impacts the body adversely and artificial sweeteners do too.
  • Make choices. Swap out sweetened cereal for gluten free oats with berries. Instead of a candy bar, have a small square of dark chocolate. Grab an apple instead of a cookie. Bake with organic maple syrup or coconut sugar instead of refined sugar. Eliminate sugary snacks from the house.
  • Cravings are different from true hunger. Go for a walk or get outside instead of eating a sugary treat. Chat with a friend. Play with the kids. Meditate. Treat sugar cravings for what they are…a sign of addiction.

It is a Choice

Sugar impacts the body negatively. I knew that fact for years. And yet, I’ve dealt with sugar addiction. Sugar gave me horrible indigestion. I kept antacids on hand, rather than change my eating habits. Sugar made my joints hurt and created inflammation in my body. I accepted those ailments as part of life.

Only when I experienced radically improved health, after a 28 day cleanse, did I realize how addicted to sugar I once was. Eating fruits and veggies reset my body and cleared up so many ailments…including the indigestion. I no longer crave sugar, at all. And if I do ingest a small amount, I don’t like the way it makes me feel. That’s enough for me to leave it alone. The saying is true for me. Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels.

It takes time and it doesn’t feel easy, however you can take back control of your health and well being. You can live with vitality. Take the healing journey one step, once day, once choice at a time. If you want change strongly enough, you can create it.

I’m cheering for you.

8 Toxic Ways Sugar Impacts the Body

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Sunshine Blogger Award

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I am thrilled to receive another award for Journey With Healthy Me.

The Sunshine Blogger Award is given by bloggers to their peers, as a way to recognize and encourage each another. Trust me, in this journey it is so uplifting to receive these nods and accolades.

I received this award from Anisa, who writes My Third Culture Kid. She loves to share about her adventures in traveling and family life and about setting and reaching goals. Please check out her inspiring blog. And thank you Anisa for encouraging me.

Sunshine Blogger Award

What is the Sunshine Blogger Award?

The Sunshine Blogger Award is given to those who show creativity, positivity and inspiration. Once you have been nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award, you are required to:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to his or her blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 other bloggers and give them 11 new questions to answer.
  • Notify your nominees and display the Sunshine Blogger Award in your post.

Below are my responses to Anisa’s 11 questions as well as 11 questions for 11 of my fellow bloggers!

Sunshine Blogger Award

1. What do you love most about your blogging business?

I love that it is MY business and I determine how much time and effort I put into it. At this point, it’s a LOT of time and effort! It is so rewarding, however, when I hear from readers who say they appreciate the info, recipes and tips that I share. And when they say they feel better or their health improved, I’m excited for them.

2. What do you wish you had known before you started blogging?

I wish I had realized that the blogging journey isn’t a solitary one. I spent years figuring things out for myself when there were others further down the trail, offering help. I’m grateful for the community of bloggers who walk with each other and share information. We cheer each other on.

3. Who is your biggest inspiration?

For this part of my journey, the healing one, I am forever grateful to Anthony William, for showing me that I could change my health by changing my diet. Ultimately, my biggest inspiration comes from God, whom I call El-le. That’s another story for another time.

4. Which countries are on your bucket list?

Can I say all of them?? Traveling is a fairly recent passion. That bug bit me though and I’d not turn down a trip to anywhere in the world. I hope to see New Zealand, France, Germany, Russia, Sweden, Cameroon…the list goes on and on.

5. What is your favorite motivational quote?

This quote by Helena Bonham Carter perfectly captures who I am. I made a meme of it, using a photo of me standing in my garden.

Sunshine Blogger Award

6. Where do you see yourself in five years?

I see myself traveling and exploring, writing full time from anywhere I happen to be.

7. What are you most thankful for?

I’m most thankful for my family. Each person inspires me and makes me proud. My greatest desire is to encourage them in their own journeys and share adventures together.

8. Would you rather have a remote with a life rewind or a life pause button?

It’s tempting to hit the rewind button and have a do over, but only if I had the awareness and knowledge that I possess now. In reality I take what I learned from my past and feel gratitude for all the lessons that give shape and depth to my life now.

9. If you could only travel to one country, which one would it be?

Scotland. I’m drawn always Scotland, the home of my ancestors and my heart. I’m grateful that I get to return to Scotland this summer to attend a Maitland Clan gathering.

Sunshine Blogger Award

10. If you could choose the date and year of your birth, when would it be?

Time travel intrigues me! What fun to visit Victorian England or see what the world looked like 50 years from now. However I am content with my birthdate.

11. If you could learn a new skill, what would it be?

I wish I could easily master languages. Alas, learning new languages is difficult for me.

My Nominations for the Sunshine Blogger Award

These bloggers all have unique and inspiring stories to tell. Please check out their blogs.

Lisa with Planning Away helps people plan their trips.

Becky shares her family’s homeschooling and travel adventures on Russells Loving Life.

Theresa loves writing about the homesteading life at Double K Homestead Life.

Steve is an everyday guy figuring out life with cancer. Follow his inspiring journey at Other C Word.

Marcia with Beauty Info Zone loves sharing about the beauty world.

Karla shares about her 28 year fostering and adoption journey on More On My Plate.

Brittany showcases products and adventures on Flossy Mom.

On Travels With Bibi, Bibi shares info and tips for making the most of adventures.

Kristen is a Texas mom with three boys sharing about life and car seat tips on Driving Mom Crazy.

On Chronicles of a Momtessorian, Anitra writes about being a mom, Montessori teacher and parent educator.

Brent and Kristi share about homeschooling, holistic health and the RV lifestyle on Way Beyond the Norm.

Sunshine Blogger Award

My Questions for the Nominees

  1. If you could interview anyone for your blog, who would you choose?
  2. What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
  3. Name your favorite childhood story.
  4. Are you an early bird or a night owl?
  5. What one word best represents your goals for this year?
  6. What child-like thing do you still enjoy doing?
  7. If you had an extra hour every day, what would you do?
  8. What song best describes your life?
  9. Do you prefer coffee, tea or soda?
  10. What most influenced your decision to write a blog?
  11. On your blogging journey, what has been the biggest surprise?

I’m grateful to Anisa for the Sunshine Blogger Award and for the interesting questions. I look forward to reading the answers to the above questions and continuing on this amazing journey.

Sunshine Blogger Award

 

 

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Gluten & Oil Free Blueberry Mini Bites

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Preparing a simple meal this evening, in the pressure pot, I considered ideas for an equally simple after dinner treat. I remembered a recipe for mini blueberry muffins in Liver Rescue by Anthony William.

Created without gluten, oil, refined sugar or eggs, these bite sized snacks seemed perfect! Best of all, I had time to prep the blueberry mini bites and pop them in the oven while dinner cooked without my aid.

Gluten & Oil Free Blueberry Mini Bites

Gluten & Oil Free Blueberry Mini Bites

Scanning the recipe, I saw that I had all the ingredients on hand. At least, what I had on hand would work. One of the things I love about recipes is that they can typically hold up to minor adaptations.

I had black chia seeds rather than white ones. I’m out of organic maple syrup, however my raw organic honey container is almost full. And my muffin tin is small, but not a mini size. Game on!

Gluten & Oil Free Blueberry Mini Bites
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Gluten & Oil Free Blueberry Mini Bites

An easy to make healthy treat. Gluten, oil, refined sugar and egg free.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time30 mins
Servings: 12 Mini Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup chia seeds regular or white
  • 1 cup mashed banana approx 2 bananas
  • 1/2 cup gluten free oat flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda aluminum free
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup may use raw organic honey
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup frozen wild blueberries

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375F.
    Place chia seeds in blender and blend on high until finely ground.
  • Add mashed bananas, oat flour, baking soda, sea salt, maple syrup and lemon juice to blender and blend until smooth batter forms.
  • Pour batter into a bowl and add frozen wild blueberries. Mix gently.
  • Line a mini muffin pan with 16 mini parchment baking cups and fill each one with a heaping tablespoon of batter.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, until muffins turn golden brown and inserted toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow muffins to cool completely before eating. Muffins continue to firm up as they cool.

Notes

If you don't have mini parchment baking cups, lightly grease muffin tin with coconut oil.

Gluten & Oil Free Blueberry Mini Bites

Gluten & Oil Free Blueberry Mini BitesUse wild blueberries, if possible, as the health benefits are greater. I purchase them in the frozen foods section.

Improvise as Necessary

As you can see, in the photo above, I also lacked mini parchment baking cups. No worries! I very lightly greased the muffin tin with coconut oil.

Since I didn’t have a mini muffin tin, I filled 12 compartments with heaping tablespoons of batter, rather than 16. I’m calling the results mini bites. However, the treat was excellent in taste and texture. Slightly sweet, these blueberry mini bites pair well with a cup of hot mint tea.

I so appreciate that Anthony William continually offers new recipes along with his wisdom about health and fighting disease. It may seem like a small thing, preparing these decadent little high nutrient desserts. However, it means a great deal to me. Discovering I can create a wide variety of meals, dishes and treats completely shifted my perspective of what it meant to live a plant based lifestyle.

My food fuels my health. I eat well. And I love every bite.

Gluten & Oil Free Blueberry Mini Bites

 

 

 

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The Surprising Health Benefits of Paprika

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Until recently, I’ve only know paprika as a topping sprinkled on deviled eggs and potato salad. Honestly, I didn’t think it added anything more than decoration.

After becoming plant based, I noted that several of my favorite recipes include paprika, not as a garnish but as a crucial ingredient. I’ve come to respect and appreciate this spice and use it almost every day.

But what is paprika exactly? And are there any health benefits associated with it?

My curious mind wanted to know.

The Surprising Health Benefits of Paprika

What is Paprika?

Paprika is a reddish orange ground spice made from dried peppers. Although it can be made from any variety of peppers, red bell peppers, chili peppers and cayenne peppers are most commonly used.

The spice originated in Mexico. Explorers transported it to Europe, Africa and Asia in the 1400s. Currently, Hungary produces the highest quality paprika and chefs there are well known for their Hungarian goulash prepared with the spice.

Paprika is extremely high in vitamin A. It also contains vitamins B6, C, E and K, iron, niacin and potassium. The spicier versions contain capsaicin, which gives peppers their heat. Capsaicin is an important component in the prevention of diseases.
The Surprising Health Benefits of Paprika

Health Benefits of Paprika

Paprika fights inflammation and disease in the body, offering the following health benefits.

Powerful Antioxidants

Paprika is rich in carotenoids, a pigment found in the peppers. This compound prevents oxidative stress caused by free radicals in the body and helps to fight disease. Antioxidants protect the skin from aging, improve respiratory health and lower inflammation throughout the body. The high levels of vitamin A decreases inflammation as well, lowering the risk of disease since inflammation is often a root cause.

Hair and Scalp Health

Paprika’s rich source of vitamin B6 helps to prevent hair loss. It’s also involved in the production of melanin, the pigment that gives color to hair. And the iron in paprika stimulates hair growth by improving the transfer of oxygen to hair follicles.

May Help Prevent and Treat Cancer

The capsaicin in spicy paprika possesses the potential to prevent and/or treat gastric cancers. Capsaicin appears to limit and suppress cancerous tumor growth. This is good news, as gastric cancers are the second most common cancer, world wide, and the second most common cause of cancer related deaths.

Supports the Cardiovascular System

Vitamin B6 in paprika lowers high blood pressure and heals damaged blood vessels. The carotenoid capsanthin can increase good cholesterol. These benefits keep the heart strong and working well.

Improves Eye Health

Paprika’s antioxidants and vitamin B6 keep eyes healthy and slows the onset of eye related diseases such as macular degeneration.

Treats Diabetes

Paprika helps to regulate blood sugar levels, which in turn aids in treating diabetes. Spicy paprika benefits the whole digestive process.

The Surprising Health Benefits of Paprika

Uses for Paprika

Beyond sprinkling paprika on foods as a garnish, try adding the spice to vegetables, sauces, soups, salad dressings, chilies, salsa, rice dishes, beans, goulash and any tomato based recipe.

I add a heaping spoonful of paprika to the blend of spices coating Easy Oven Roasted Potatoes. My Meatless Dirty Rice recipe includes paprika as well. I’ve played around with a vegan goulash recipe too, featuring green peppers, brown rice macaroni, tomatoes and…paprika. Recipe coming soon.

I’m grateful for curiosity today. Paprika is good for me, contributing to my overall health and wellbeing. As I empty the current spice jar of paprika, I’ll purchase a spicier version, after discovering that capsaicin ups the health benefits considerably. I found this two pack  of Hungarian Paprika, containing a sweet version and a spicy one. How perfect!

How will you get your paprika today? Do you have a favorite recipe that contains this important spice? I’d love to know about it!

The Surprising Health Benefits of Paprika

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Gluten Free Strawberry Shortcake

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For the last Liver Rescue Book Club meeting tonight with my mom and sister, I provided our plant based meal. I served up my Easy Oven Roasted Potatoes with a couple of veggie sides. For dessert, I wanted something fresh, light and healthy, as temperatures today soared into the 80s. I also had an almost full container of strawberries in the fridge.

Remembering that Anthony William recently shared a luscious looking gluten free strawberry shortcake recipe, I checked his website. Based on what I had on hand, I made a couple of adaptations. Perfection!

Gluten Free Strawberry ShortcakeGluten Free Strawberry Shortcake

Gluten Free Strawberry Shortcake
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Gluten Free Strawberry Shortcake

This light and refreshing treat is the perfect conclusion to spring or summer meals.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Gluten Free Strawberry Shortcake
Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups gluten free oat flour may use almond flour
  • 1 cup tapioca flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup solid coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond or coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup may use raw honey
  • 1 pound strawberries, halved, for topping sweeten with 1 tbsp raw honey if desired

Whipped Cream

  • 1 14 ounce can full fat coconut milk chilled overnight in fridge
  • 2 - 3 tbsp raw honey

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400F. Combine oat flour, tapioca flour and baking powder in a large bowl, mixing well.
  • Cut the coconut oil into small pieces and add to flour mixture. Using hands, combine oil with flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  • In a small bowl, combine almond milk, vanilla and maple syrup or honey. Add to flour mixture. Mix until dough forms. Using hands for mixing is easier than using a spoon.
  • Turn out dough on floured surface or a square of parchment paper. Cover with a second sheet of parchment paper and roll out to 1/2 inch thickness. Using a cookie cutter or glass, cut circles and place shortcakes on parchment lined baking sheet.
  • Bake for 10 - 12 minutes, until shortcakes are slightly browned. Remove from oven and cool for 30 minutes. While shortcakes cool, add a tablespoon of raw honey to strawberries and chill in refrigerator.

Whipped Cream

  • Chill mixing bowl in freezer for 10 minutes. Remove thick cream from top of can, leaving coconut water behind. Using an electric whisk or mixer, beat coconut cream until soft peaks form. Slowly add raw honey a little at a time, continuing to beat for two more minutes.
  • Assemble shortcakes by placing a spoonful of whipped cream on biscuit, followed by strawberries. Top with more whipped cream. Or add a second biscuit and repeat the layers, ending with berries. 

Notes

You may substitute cocowhip topping instead of making your own whipped cream.

Gluten Free Stawberry Shortcake

Gluten Free Strawberry Shortcake

Gluten Free Strawberry Shortcake

Delicious Dessert

I purchased Cocowhip topping from Natural Grocers rather than making the whipped topping myself. It’s available in the frozen foods section of the store. I’ve not yet made whipped topping from coconut milk however it’s on my list of things to try!

I also used gluten free oat flour and unsweetened almond/coconut milk. The recipe made 13 shortcakes.

This gluten free strawberry shortcake is delicious. The shortcakes are slightly sweet and pair well with the honey sweetened strawberries.

This simple yet showy dessert is wonderful for special occasions or celebrations or final book club meetings. I envision topping the shortcakes this summer with a variety of fresh fruits such as blackberries, blueberries and sliced peaches.

Gluten Free Strawberry Shortcake

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