Easy Vegan Blueberry Crumble

 

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July is National Blueberry Month. These superfood berries are at their peak of ripeness as summer gets underway.

In honor of the month, I created a new…and super simple…healthy blueberry treat. Using items I keep on hand…that you probably do too…this dessert came together in a few minutes, while supper simmered on the stove.

Try this easy vegan blueberry crumble for your next get together, tea time or for a simple after supper dessert.

Easy Vegan Blueberry Crumble title meme

Benefits of Blueberries

I love these delicious berries. And, it turns out, they love me too.

Although domestic blueberries are beneficial as well, it’s the wild blueberry that brings the most health benefits.

They contain extremely high levels of antioxidants, delivering healing to any damaged part of the body. Wild blueberries effectively eradicate heavy metals and other toxins from the body. Plus they are a powerful brain food and amazing at restoring the liver.

Wild blueberries can help prevent any type of cancer and they are so restorative that they are beneficial for any symptom, whether physical, emotional or spiritual. (Info from Life Changing Foods, by Anthony William)

I keep a bag of frozen wild blueberries in the freezer, to add to morning smoothies or vegan treats such as scones.

If you don’t have wild blueberries, use fresh or frozen domesticated blueberries, which are those typically found in the produce or freezer sections of the grocery store.

Easy Vegan Blueberry Crumble wild berries
Easy Vegan Blueberry Crumble – wild blueberries mixed with gluten free flour

Ingredients for Easy Vegan Blueberry Crumble

For this simple treat I used frozen wild blueberries, gluten free flour, vegan butter, coconut sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. These are all ingredients that I keep on hand.

Besides the ingredients, you just need a couple of mixing bowls and an 8X8 baking dish.

Easy Vegan Blueberry Crumble baked

Easy Vegan Blueberry Crumble

This easy dessert is vegan, gluten free and refined sugar free.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 6 Servings

Ingredients
  

  • 4 cups fresh or frozen wild or regular blueberries
  • 2 tbsp gluten free flour
  • 1/2 cup plant based butter
  • 2 cups gluten free oats
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • coconut oil for baking dish

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rub coconut oil in 8x8 baking dish.
  • If using frozen blueberries, measure 4 cups into a colander and let thaw slightly.
  • Melt plant based butter. Combine oats, coconut sugar, butter, cinnamon and vanilla. Mix well.
  • Transfer blueberries into a bowl. Add two tablespoons of gluten free flour and mix gently.
  • Place blueberries into prepared 8x8 baking dish. Top with oat crumble.
  • Bake for 35 minutes. Allow to cool slightly. Makes 6 servings.
Keyword Blueberry Crumble, Vegan

 

Tips for Easy Vegan Blueberry Crumble

If using frozen blueberries, wild or regular, allow them to thaw slightly in a colander.

Any gluten free flour is fine. I used a 1:1 gluten free flour, meaning one cup of the gluten free flour equals one cup of regular flour. You may also use almond or oat flour. And if you don’t have a gluten sensitivity, use whatever flour you have on hand.

I also use plant based butter. There are several good brands available, in regular grocery stores or health conscious stores. The coconut sugar is darker than refined sugar and tastes more like brown sugar, but less sweet.

You can add chopped nuts to the crumble topping, if desired.

Easy Vegan Blueberry Crumble ready to bake
Easy vegan blueberry crumble ready to bake.
Easy Vegan Blueberry Crumble baked
Easy vegan blueberry crumble fresh from the oven.

The Taste Test

As supper finished up, the kitchen filled with the wonderful aroma of baking blueberry crumble. I let it cool for a short time, and then tried it with a cup of hot peppermint tea.

This blueberry crumble is a winner with me! It’s rich with juicy blueberries and I love the slightly crunchy oat topping. The crumble isn’t overly sweet, which is perfect for me. And I can prepare this treat quickly, whenever I want something a bit more than plain fruit.

Are you a fan of blueberries? I hope you’ll enjoy this easy crumble.

And try something from this round up of blueberry recipes. Share your favorite way of enjoying blueberries in the comments below!

Ready to eat blueberry crumble
Yummy blueberry crumble!

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Ten Benefits of Meditation

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Meditation is the practice of quieting the mind and body by focusing on breath as it flows in and out of the body. Focusing on breath, or a visual image held in the mind, helps keep the practitioner anchored in the present moment.

Learning meditation is easy. However, it takes time and patience to learn to still the mind and not allow thoughts to pull attention away. The practice is worth learning, for physical, mental and spiritual health.

Learn a simple meditation below. Then check out ten benefits of meditation.

Ten Benefits of Meditation title meme

How to Meditate

Follow these simple steps, to begin a meditation practice:

  • Sit comfortably in a chair, with both feet flat on the floor. Find a quiet place or play meditation music in the background.
  • Close your eyes and relax your body. Note whether muscles are tense, beginning at your feet and working your way up the body to the top of the head. Intentionally relax any tight or tense muscles.
  • Breathe slowly and deeply, paying attention to your breath as it comes into the body and goes out.
  • When your mind wanders…and it will…gently bring attention back to your breath. You’ll learn to allow thoughts to pass on by, in your mind, without focusing on them. Come back to your breath as many times as necessary, without criticizing yourself.
  • When you feel ready, take several deep breaths and then open your eyes. Slowly move arms and legs and note how you feel.

That’s a basic meditation. After you become accustomed to meditating, you can try moving to different locations or staying in a meditative state longer.

Ten Benefits of Meditation

For many years spiritual communities recognized the benefits meditation. However, recently scientists agree that meditation does in fact contribute to greater health and wellbeing.

Here are ten benefits of meditation.

Reduces Stress

Meditation relaxes the body, creating the opposite of the “fight or flight” response we have to stress. Our breathing, heart rate, blood pressure and metabolism slows, contributing to a deeper sense of peace and relaxation.

Plus meditation helps to clear away the accumulation of information that we are exposed to daily, quieting the mind and allowing tense muscles to unknot.

Provides Emotional Balance

Meditation trains us to notice and observe our emotions, rather than attempting to change them. We learn to let emotions go…just as we do our thoughts. Any feelings or emotions that surface during meditation are acknowledged and then released.

Ten Benefits of Meditation walking
Ten Benefits of Meditation – try a walking meditation, focusing on slow steps

Increases Focus

Researchers at Harvard suggest that our minds are “lost in thought” 47% of the time. And when our thoughts are drifting, they are replaying the past or worrying about the future.

Meditation trains the mind to stay in the present moment, rather than wandering. There’s scientific evidence that meditation actually causes distinct changes in brain function, improving focus and concentration.

Eases Pain

When stressed, the body releases the stress hormone cortisol that contributes to inflammation and increases discomfort in joints and muscles.

Meditation helps the brain release natural pain relievers called endorphins. Tight, tense muscles and tendons relax, easing discomfort. With continued practice, meditation can increase pain tolerance, lower hypertension and deepen respirations. It shifts the focus away from pain, and what the mind focuses on, expands. Focus on pain and it increases. Focus on relaxing the body and breathing and muscles respond by loosening.

Ten Benefits of Meditation corner
Ten Benefits of Meditation – create a meditation corner in your garden or backyard

Soothes Anxiety

Anxiety happens when we experience too much stress. We feel always on edge, and always on alert to danger. Meditation helps us to become aware of the stressors creating anxiety and release them. We also realize that while we may not be able to change situations, we can change how we respond to them.

Meditation allows the mind to acknowledge the anxiety, without focusing on it. We note those feelings and simply allow them to exist without amplifying them with our attention.

Increases Creativity

Meditation opens the mind to new ideas and possibilities. We don’t have to try to be more creative. Creativity comes naturally as the mind and body releases stress and anxiety and regulates emotions.

And because meditation improves focus it’s easier to recognize fresh ideas and develop them. Mindful activities such as coloring or gardening provide meditative experiences that allow creativity to flourish.

Ten Benefits of Meditation gardening
Ten Benefits of Meditation – increased creativity

Reduces Depression

A regular meditation practice helps the brain better manage stress and anxiety. Both of these can trigger depression. Depression contributes to higher risks for heart disease and illnesses. It can also affect daily life and cognitive function, especially memory.

Meditation helps ease depression by altering the way we react to stressors. It trains the brains to focus and to return to that focus when negative thinking or emotions intrude.

Meditation also changes regions of the brain specifically linked to depression. The medial prefrontal cortex…or “me center”…processes information about self. This is where we dwell on the past or worry about the future. And the amygdala is the “fear center”. This is where the fight or flight response is centered. When it’s triggered, the brain releases the stress hormone cortisol.

These two regions of the brain work off of each other, to create depression. Meditation helps to break the connection between these two regions and calm the brain.

Boosts Memory

Ten minutes of meditation a day improves concentration and focus while boosting the ability to keep information active in the mind. This function is known as “working memory”.

Through meditation the brain becomes more efficient, and neural networks become more refined, requiring fewer brain resources.

Ten Benefits of Meditation trail
A quiet, solitary walk through the woods has a meditative effect on the mind and body

Increases Compassion

A recent study suggests that mindfulness meditation helps us overcome the “bystander effect”, increasing compassionate behavior. The bystander effect happens when we witness someone needing help but do nothing to provide assistance.

Two possible explanations exist for increased compassion. Meditation gives people a greater awareness of their surroundings. And it enhances the ability to see perspectives from another person’s viewpoint. It’s also possible that meditation allows us to better process our emotions, freeing up resources to feel more empathy toward others.

Improves Productivity

How does meditation improve productivity? It reduces stress, which disrupts sleep, promotes depression and anxiety, and clouds thinking. Meditation controls the stress hormone cortisol, easing the effects of stress and boosting productivity.

Meditation also enhances creativity, a characteristic that keeps us moving forward on tasks and projects.

And meditation calms the mind, redirects attention and controls impulsive emotions. This increase focus and attention which helps boost productivity as well.

Creating a Meditation Practice

I began meditating about 15 years ago, initially to quiet my racing mind and to help me confront my fears. What I discovered, through a daily meditation practice, is that I also lowered pain by relaxing tight muscles, let go of negative thoughts, opened my creativity and increased my intuitive abilities.

Although I sometimes meditated for an hour or more, ten to 15 minutes is sufficient. I encourage a daily meditation practice for the greatest benefits.

In the beginning, I found it helpful also to meditate in the same place every time. My body and mind learned that when I sat in a particular chair, relaxation followed, allowing me to quickly enter a state of deep peace.

Meditation is a loving act of kindness toward the self. It’s a time free from judgment or criticism. You don’t have to sit cross-legged on the floor or hold your hands a certain way. Simply relax the body, close the eyes (to prevent distractions) and focus on breathing. When you feel ready to end the session, do so.

Is meditation a part of your health and wellbeing? Share your thoughts below!

Meditate in nature
Moving water creates a soothing background noise for meditation

 

Meditation Helps from Amazon

 


 

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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.

 

Summer Picnic Vegan Style

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July is National Picnic Month. Midsummer is the perfect time for family picnics, a spontaneous meal for one outdoors or a romantic basket lunch laid out on a bright checkered cloth.

Since adopting a plant based lifestyle, I realized I’ve not enjoyed many picnics. Typically picnics include traditional fare such as fried chicken, sandwiches, chips, sugary snacks and staples such as potato or macaroni salad.

In honor of the month long celebration and my healthier lifestyle, here are ways to experience a summer picnic vegan style!

Summer Picnic Vegan Style title meme

Origins of the Picnic

The word picnic comes from the French word “piquenique”. The al fresco practice began in France, in the mid-18th century. Early picnics consisted of a loaf of bread, cheese, fruit and wine.

Today we carry along picnics for sporting events, family gatherings or weekend camping trips. Locations for picnics might include a shady, grassy area near a creek, a picnic table beneath a tree or a backyard patch of lawn.

Bring along simple finger foods, fresh fruits and salads, sandwiches and drinks. Enjoy sharing that meal with family and friends or grab a book and eat a beautiful meal on your own, while you read.

The American Bakers’ Association founded National Picnic Month in 1952.

Summer Picnic Vegan Style garden
My picnic spot…my backyard garden. I love how wildly beautiful it looks this time of year!

Summer Picnic Vegan Style

You can purchase ready made foods and pack them in a tote or basket. Bring along a chest filled with ice for foods that need to stay cool.

Last year, Greg and I toted in a simple, mostly purchased picnic lunch, to Tulsa’s Philbrook Gardens. We found a picnic table deep in the gardens and enjoyed a healthy meal.

Or you can make your own dishes and snacks to enjoy.

Try the following foods, for a perfect vegan picnic. Click links for recipes.

Hummus

Made from chickpeas, you can purchase hummus or easily make your own. Try this simple recipe. Serve veggies with hummus. Carrot and celery sticks, cherry tomatoes or slices of zucchini or yellow squash are great choices. Or bring along vegan, gluten free crackers.

Chickpea Salad Sandwiches

This quick and easy sandwich filling replaces tuna or egg salad. Simply mash a can…or two cups cooked…of chickpeas. I use a hand held potato masher. Add several tablespoons of vegan mayo or a small amount of hummus, 1/4 cup each of finely chopped red onions and celery and 1/2 teaspoon each of onion powder and garlic powder. You can also include chopped green peppers or diced pickles and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.

Chill for an hour. Use to make sandwiches with gluten free bread. Or eat as a salad without bread.

Summer Picnic Vegan Style chickpea salad
Summer picnic vegan style – chickpea salad

Veggie Wraps

A great alternative to sandwiches, veggies wraps are easy to prepare and eat. Start with a gluten free tortilla, then add whatever veggies you have on hand: shredded carrots, arugula, spinach, kale, shredded red cabbage, julienne green, red, yellow or orange peppers, zucchini or mushrooms. Add veggies to tortilla, drizzle with favorite dressing, then roll tightly. Secure with a toothpick, if necessary.

Try one of these homemade healthy dressings.

Waldorf Salad

Tote along this vegan version of the classic Waldorf salad. A glass container with a tight fitting lid works perfectly. I love the crunch of apples and celery combined with walnuts and juicy grapes. Use vegan mayo as the dressing. Recipe here.

Summer Picnic Vegan Style waldorf
Summer picnic vegan style – vegan Waldorf salad

Potato Salad

It’s easy to create vegan potato salad. Peel, dice and cook 4 – 6 potatoes until tender. Drain. In a large bowl, combine potatoes, 1/4 cup diced yellow onions, 1/4 cup diced celery, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 cup vegan mayo and 2 teaspoons yellow mustard. Chill. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with ground paprika, if desired.

Cowboy Beans

A great alternative to baked beans, prepare a pot of vegan cowboy beans and tote along a small container full for the picnic. Recipe here.

Macaroni Salad

For my picnic, I prepared potato salad and macaroni salad at the same time.

Start with two cups of cooked gluten free macaroni. I used brown rice pasta. Add 1/4 cup diced red or yellow onions, 1/4 cup diced celery, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 cup – 1/2 cup vegan mayo and if desired, finely chopped pickles. Salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with ground paprika, if desired.

Vegan Macaroni Salad
Summer picnic vegan style – vegan macaroni salad

Vegan Desserts

Healthy treats make great accompaniments for your picnic.

These chocolate cookies contain only three ingredients.

Or, if you feel like a different dessert that tastes wonderful and looks gorgeous, try this rustic apple galette.

Fresh berries make a simple, nutritious end to the meal as well.

Rustic Apple Galette
Rustic Apple Galette

Other Vegan Picnic Foods

In addition, include any of the following:

  • cut up vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, radishes or small peppers
  • assortment of nuts and/or seeds
  • energy bites
  • homemade trail mix containing nuts, dried fruit and seeds
  • watermelon slices
  • fruit such as sliced apples, oranges, bananas, grapes or cherries
Summer Picnic Vegan Style
My summer picnic vegan style

My Picnic

I had this post scheduled to write, using recipes from previous posts along with the simple potato and macaroni salads.

Then inspiration struck.

For the month of July, I’m participating in a Yes Month. The purpose is to encourage participants to say YES more than they say NO. Sometimes no is our default response. We say it without thinking. Saying yes encourages us to go beyond comfort zones, stop putting off projects or tasks and accept invitations. Yeses allow for more spontaneity as well.

As I prepared to write this post, I decided to say yes to a summer picnic for myself, and enjoy it in my backyard garden.

What fun to make macaroni salad and chickpea salad for a sandwich and include cowboy beans already prepared in the fridge. I added chilled chunks of watermelon and a bowl of fresh Rainier cherries.

Popping on a wide brimmed hat, I carried my lunch into the garden and enjoyed a picnic for one. It was beautiful, sitting in the corner meditation area where I could see my wildly blooming garden.

Your Picnic

Where will you go this month, for a picnic? And what foods will you pack along, for your outdoor meal?

Share with me your favorite picnic staples!

My Picnic Lunch

 

Picnic finds from Amazon:

 


 

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Vegan Southwestern Layered Salad

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It’s summer! Warm temps, water fun, star filled nights and days of play are here. With that warmer weather and those days of enjoying the outdoors, who wants to spend time in the kitchen?

This easy to prepare salad is perfect for summer days. And Vegan Southwestern Layered Salad is versatile too. Add your favorite toppings or mix things up every time you make it.

Recipe below!

Vegan Southwestern Layered Salad title meme

Keeping It Simple

Feel free to prep ingredients for this salad before serving it for dinner. Or…my favorite when it’s hot and muggy outside…buy ingredients that combine easily and quickly so that lunch or supper is served in minutes.

And it truly doesn’t get much easier than this tasty, satisfying salad.

Start with Greens

Using a large bowl or container, start with a layer of greens. I used about 4 cups of chopped arugula. Mixed greens work well too, an assortment of spinach, kale and arugula. For the best nutritional value, skin iceberg lettuce.

Vegan Southwestern Layered Salad arugula
Vegan Southwestern Layered Salad – arugula

Add Black Beans and Corn

Next add cooked black beans. You can cook these yourself, however for a quick meal, used one can of beans, drained. No need to heat up canned beans. I use organic canned black beans. Pick your favorite brand.

Next add a layer of organic, non GMO corn, frozen or canned. If using frozen corn, cook first. No need to heat up for canned corn.

Vegan Southwestern Layered Salad corn and beans
Vegan Southwestern Layered Salad – non GMO corn and black beans

Add Chopped Red Onions

Chop 1/2 of a small to medium red onion. I use a mini chopper to do this quickly.

Vegan Southwestern Layered Salad red onions
Vegan Southwestern Layered Salad – chopped red onions

Add Chopped Tomatoes

Next add fresh tomatoes, chopped into bite sized pieces. I don’t have ripe tomatoes from my garden yet. I purchased small organic tomatoes and used six of those. Diced tomatoes from a can may be used as well, if fresh tomatoes aren’t available or if you want to sped up the prep time. Drain well first.

Vegan Southwestern Layered Salad - tomatoes
Vegan Southwestern Layered Salad – chopped tomatoes

Add Diced Green Chilies

I purchased a small can of diced green chilies, medium spice level. Dice your own favorite peppers, from green bell peppers to hot jalapenos, or add diced canned mild green chilies, drained. Or omit this layer if you don’t want any heat.

Vegan Southwestern Layered Salad green chilies
Vegan Southwestern Layered Salad – green chilies

Add Vegan “Chicken”

This layer, and the next one, are totally optional. I seldom use vegan “meats” however, for this salad, it seemed perfect. I used Gardein Plant Based Vegan Seven Grain Crispy Chick’n Tenders. While I assembled the layers, I heated these tenders on the stove top. After they crisped up, I allowed them to cool slightly and then sliced up the tenders. Omit this layer if desired.

Vegan Southwestern Layered Salad vegan chick'n
Vegan Southwestern Layered Salad – vegan chick’n

Final Layer Vegan Cheese

For the final layer of my salad, I added shredded vegan cheese. Vegan cheeses have come a looooong way in recent years. Made from plant based milks, such as almond or coconut, these cheeses are flavorful and behave like dairy cheese.

I added a shredded mix of cheddar and mozzarella plant based cheese.

Omit this layer if desired.

Vegan cheese
Vegan Southwestern Layered Salad – vegan cheese

Other Tasty Options

This layered salad is so versatile, making it easy to use what you have on hand. Normally, diced avocados go into any salad I make. I was out of them when I made this one. Feel free to add any of the following to your layered salad:

  • diced zucchini or yellow squash
  • slivered or chopped almonds
  • black or green olives
  • shredded carrots
  • chopped green onions instead of red onions
  • halved cherry tomatoes
  • shredded cabbage
  • avocados or guacamole
  • chickpeas
  • chopped red, yellow or orange sweet peppers
  • any other veggie of choice
  • salsa

The Dressing

For this layered salad, I added sides of non GMO corn tortilla chips, plant based ranch dressing and sugar free barbeque sauce. What a perfect combination…slightly spicy barbeque sauce and creamy cool ranch. That’s why I wanted the vegan chicken as a layer, for the tangy barbeque sauce.

Use a favorite dressing, plant based, or create your own.

Plant based dressing and barbeque sauce
Ready to eat salad with chips, plant based dressing and barbeque sauce
Vegan cheese

Vegan Southwestern Layered Salad

Enjoy this quick and easy layered summer salad.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Course Main Course, Salad
Cuisine American

Ingredients
  

  • 4 - 6 cups chopped greens: arugula or mixed
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1 can non GMO corn, drained may use frozen corn instead...cook first
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 5 - 6 small tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 small can diced green chilies, mild to hot, drained may substitute pepper of choice
  • 1 package Gardein plant based chick'n, cooked and sliced may omit this layer
  • 1 cup shredded vegan cheese, cheddar or mozzarella may omit this layer

Instructions
 

  • Prepare plant based chick'n according to package directions.
  • While cooking plant based chick'n, layer each ingredient above in a large bowl or container, ending with shredded plant based cheese.
  • Serve with non GMO corn tortilla chips, plant based ranch dressing and sugar free barbeque sauce. Or serve with dressing of choice. Serve immediately. Store leftovers in refrigerator. Makes 4 - 6 servings.
  • Other options: add diced avocado, black or green olives, chickpeas or any other veggie of choice.
Keyword Layered Salad, Vegan

Check Out These Additional Salad Recipes

If, like me, you want to spend as little time as possible in the kitchen this summer, check out these eight fresh salads. Loaded with nutrients, they are perfect lunch or supper meals.

Have a happy…and healthy…season! What summer plans do you have?

Ready to Eat
Vegan Southwestern Layered Salad – ready to eat

 

Summer Salad Helps from Amazon:

 


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Cultivate a Sense of Wonder for Better Health

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Do you remember, as a child, seeing your first firefly or full moon? And do you recall the sense of wondrous amazement you felt playing in falling snow or feeling an ocean wave lap at your feet?

Wonder, or awe, is defined as a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by experiencing something beautiful, unexpected or unfamiliar. I also love another definition that I saw that describes wonder as an emotion “somewhere between the upper reaches of pleasure and the boundary of fear”.

As adults we experience wonder over the birth of children and grandchildren, beauty in nature and unexpected sights such as a double rainbow arched over the sea. Researchers are discovering that the more we experience that sense of awe and wonder, the happier we feel. And, we are healthier.

I’m here to help you cultivate a sense of wonder for better health.

Cultivate a Sense of Wonder for Better Health title meme

Cultivate a Sense of Wonder for Better Health

It turns out wonderment has a range of emotional and physical benefits. Experiencing awe and wonder frequently makes us feel happier and contributes to a greater sense of life satisfaction. Those feelings also foster compassion for others and increase our humility as we realize the grandeur of the universe.

Wonder makes us think more expansively, expands our perception of time and may lead to less materialism. It can even help those who cope with post traumatic stress syndrome.

For these benefits and the health boosts listed below, we want wonder to be a daily occurrence. Here are ways to increase those moments of awe and wonder.

Experience New Things

One of my favorite ways to up the wonderment is by trying new experiences. When we experience something new, the “wonder” circuits in the brain are activated. We gain pleasure and a sense of satisfaction. There are BIG new experiences such as climbing a mountain and standing at its peak. However, we can create mini wonder moments by experiencing smaller new experiences.

Try drawing or painting with your non-dominant hand. Or roll out a sleeping bag and star gaze in the middle of the night. Take a walking tour in a new to you city. Or eat a food you’ve never tried before.

Whatever you try, push yourself a bit…or a lot…beyond your comfort zone. My grandson and I traveled to St Louis to attend our first huge Comic Con. It pushed us both to put ourselves out there. And it culminated with meeting and talking to two of the actors, the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors, from one of our favorite television shows, Doctor Who.

Cultivate a Sense of Wonder for Better Health tardis
Cultivate a Sense of Wonder for Better Health – try new experiences

Play

Wonder is a playful quality. So it makes sense that to experience wonder more frequently, play more. Children excel at inventing games and playing spontaneously. We can learn from their example.

Play in the garden sprinkler. Make a blanket fort and color in it. Roast marshmallows over a fire. Count fireflies or stars as they appear. Collect sea shells or rocks. Start a game of tag with strangers on the beach.

Whatever brings out your playful nature and that sense of wonderment, do more of that.

Slow Down and Be Present

When we say that we love experiencing the world through a child’s eyes, what we really mean is that we love their sense of wonder. Children are great observers of the world around them. They pause to study a ladybug crawling up a leaf or marvel at a dandelion in the grass.

As adults we need to slow down, pause, and be present in the moment. We can then observe the world around us too and all of its wonders. Sometimes that means we need to quiet our minds and stop thinking about our to-do list or the work waiting for us.

Savor the moments. Look for the wonders. When we look, we find them.

Cultivate a Sense of Wonder for Better Health spider
Cultivate a Sense of Wonder for Better Health – slow down and be in the moment

Shift Mindset

How we view the world, and the wonders in it, depends greatly upon mindset.

Those who tend toward negative thoughts will see the world as a fearful place and may miss the wonders in it. Additionally, negative thoughts lead to negative experiences in life. Simply put, it’s all about the energy we dwell in. Expect that life or the world is bad and the brain does its best to prove it by pointing out all that’s wrong.

To experience more awe in life, do a mental check to see what kind of thoughts run through your mind during the day. If most are negative learn to shift those toward the positive. Meditation, yoga, walking in nature, counseling, journaling and self help books are powerful ways to shift mindset.

The more positively we view the world the more open we are to experiencing the abundant wonders there.

Spend Time with Children and Grandchildren

Children are expert wonder finders. Spend time following your toddler around the yard, and experience the wonders of insects, leaves and rocks. Talk to your child about what inspires wonder in them. Create shared experiences such as watching meteors streak across the sky or catching a full lunar eclipse or watching a wonder inspiring documentary on dolphins.

And is anything more wonderous than holding a newborn baby or grandbaby? Be there for those moments.

Snuggling Finley
Cultivate a Sense of Wonder for Better Health – Finley Grace

Experience Nature

One of the best places to experience awe and wonder is outdoors, in nature.

How amazing to watch a powerful thunderstorm roll in. What wonder to see the woods awaken in the spring. And there’s magic in the hummingbird as it flits from flower to flower.

Whether you live near the desert, a mountain or the ocean, or have a park nearby in your city, get outside and stay present to see what wonders appear. Enjoy a gorgeous sunrise or end the day with a breathtaking sunset.

I cultivate wonder by planting flowers and herbs in my backyard. That beautiful space is a constant source of magic and wonder for me. You can create wonder with fairy gardens or patio container gardens. Hang art outside or decorate a porch with strings of lights and baskets of plants. Create your own outdoor space and invite wonder in.

Appreciate Art and Music

Art and music inspire wonder as well by filling us with deep appreciation.

Attend art exhibits or travel to see those iconic pieces of art you’ve always read about. When I visited Florence, Italy, and saw Michelangelo’s David statue for the first time, I was overcome with such strong, wonderous emotions.

Attend concerts. Discover new music. Put that favorite song on repeat and let it move you. Two of my grandsons participated in school bands. Attending those concerts and hearing those performances always induced awe as I watched those students come together to create beautiful music.

David Statue
Cultivate a Sense of Wonder for Better Health – view amazing art

Ways Wonder Improves Health

Now we know how to experience wonder more frequently. Here are the ways that such experiences improve health.

  • reduces inflammation – this one is the biggie. Chronic inflammation in the body leads to many diseases including cardiovascular disease, arthritis, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s. Frequently experiencing awe and wonder, which is a high level vibrational emotion, reduces inflammation in the body, which helps to prevent those diseases.
  • lowers stress – higher levels of stress means higher levels of inflammation
  • boosts immunity to help fight off invading illnesses including viruses and allergens
  • lowers blood pressure which helps protect the cardiovascular system
  • improves sleep – primarily because we feel happier and less stressful
  • shifts attitude opening us up to receive more wonder in our lives
  • lowers risk for depression
  • enhances overall sense of wellbeing
  • reduces risk for type 2 diabetes
  • inspires creativity which improves sense wellbeing

Be the “Oh Wow” Person

In my family, I’m the “Oh Wow” person. My kids laugh at me, in a good natured way, because one of my most frequent expressions is “Oh wow!” I say it often because I do see the wonder in so many things.

I not only look for the wonder, I’m open to receiving it so that when something unexpected happens, I see it. And I continually seek out new experiences. Many of those inspire awe and wonder in me as well.

I’ve also discovered that fulfilling dreams creates a sense of wonder. Standing on a bridge over the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy inspired awe. And the first time I visited Thirlestane Castle, in Lauder, Scotland, I had to sit on a bench for a while outside and just look at it. I’d heard about our ancestral castle my whole life. Seeing it, experiencing it through an inside tour, created a range of emotions, including profound wonder.

I hope this post gives you ideas about how you can create more wonderment in your life. And that it motivates you to want to, for the betterment of your health and wellbeing.

Where can you find wonder today?

Thirlestane Castle
Cultivate a Sense of Wonder for Better Health – fulfilling a dream by visiting Thirlestane Castle

Items to Help Inspire Wonder

 


 

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.

Summer Health Tips

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

Is it just me…or is this year flying by? By the end of this month, half of the year will be gone. June also brings the beginning of summer with all its delights, wonders and adventures.

For the best season, full of beauty, experiences and fun, check out these summer health tips.

Summer Health Tips title meme

Summer Health Tips

Many people claim summer as their favorite season. School is out. Vacations and road trips get under way. Long warm days make lakes and swimming pools inviting. And adventures of all kinds beckon.

It’s the perfect season for family gatherings, cook outs and celebrations. And there is something so magical about summer evenings. Fireflies, shooting stars, cozy fires crackling in fire pits all contribute to the wonder.

Keep yourself and family members healthy, to make this most of the season, with these simple tips.

Stay Hydrated

The number one challenge with summer is staying hydrated. Most people simply do not drink enough water, causing chronic dehydration. During the warmer months, we are at greater risk of dehydration due to working and playing outdoors and excessive sweating.

The following signs of dehydration are symptoms that indicate the body is not receiving enough water and/or is already chronically dehydrated.

Signs of Dehydration

  • constipation
  • dark urine
  • headaches
  • lightheadedness and dizziness
  • dry mouth
  • muscle cramps
  • rapid heartbeat
  • extreme thirst
  • less frequent urination
  • no tears
  • unsatisfied hunger
  • fatigue
  • low blood pressure
  • skin disorders
  • brain fog
  • irritability
  • kidney stones

There is varying information about how much water we need. However, a good guide is 72 ounces for adult women and 104 ounces for adult men. This is a general guideline. Exercising, working outdoors or warm temperatures may up the requirement for liquids.

To stay hydrated during the summer months, try these tips

  • carry water at all times, in a metal or glass container, and refill throughout the day
  • drink at least one glass of water with every meal
  • increase water amount when exercising or outdoors in hot weather
  • juice fruits and veggies
  • start the day with a lemon or lime water, followed by a glass of freshly prepared celery juice for amazing health benefits (Want to know even more about this miraculous drink? Visit www.celeryjuice.com and pick up Anthony’s book about celery juice HERE.)
  • include two or more cups of herbal teas during the day
  • keep a pitcher of infused water in the fridge, adding herbs, veggies or fruit for flavor
  • eat your water, with high water content foods such as watermelon, berries, pineapple, cucumbers and tomatoes.

Read my full article about foods that help hydrate HERE.

Eat Lightly

During the summer, enjoy the bounty that gardens produce. Visit a farmer’s market if you don’t grow your own veggies and begin your grocery shopping in the fresh fruits and veggies section.

This is the time for simple, easily prepped meals that include raw or lightly cooked veggies and lots of fresh fruit.

Include berries, melons, tomatoes, peppers, okra, fresh herbs, squash and green beans. Try new to you vegetables or fruits too, to broaden your tastes.

Check out this recent POST for eight mouth watering salads that are definitely full of the goodness of summer.

Summer Health Tips hydration
Summer health tips – eat hydrating foods such as watermelon

Get Outdoors During Morning and Evening

Playing, working or exercising outdoors during the summer? Get outside in the mornings or evenings, when temperatures are lower and the sun is less intense.

If you must be out during the afternoon, seek out the shade as much as possible. And remember to carry water with you!

Protect Your Skin and Eyes

No matter what time of day you are outdoors, protect your skin and eyes.

Use at least a SPF 15 or higher sunscreen, applying 30 minutes before going out. Reapply after swimming or excessive sweating. Check out my blogging friend’s post, for the best vegan sunscreens!

Wear a wide brimmed hat to protect the face and sunglasses to shield eyes.

Summer Health Tips hiking
Summer health tips – enjoy the outdoors in the mornings and evenings.

Don’t Get Bugged

I have to admit that what I dislike about summer are pesky insects. As soon as the sun starts to set, mosquitos swarm around me in the garden. And veer off the path while hiking and I’m likely to encounter ticks or worse, chiggers.

Is this true for you?

Avoid insect repellents laden with harsh chemicals. Try using a natural repellent containing lemon or eucalyptus. I’ve had good luck with this DIY Mosquito Repellent. And also with soaking a cotton ball in Witch Hazel and rubbing it over exposed skin.

Around the yard, make sure water doesn’t collect in containers after a rain. That becomes a breeding ground for mosquitos. Keep the grass cut and garden or lawn debris cleared away.

After a hike or walk, check yourself and family members for ticks. Spray shoes, socks and ends of jeans or pants to help prevent chiggers from crawling up legs. Take a shower as soon as you return home and toss clothes…socks and underwear included…in the wash.

Plan an Active Vacation

While on vacation, plan activities such as hiking, walking, swimming, kayaking or canoeing. If you are doing a staycation at home, include gardening, lawncare, evening walks or outside games such as volleyball or badminton.

When visiting cities, explore on foot or via bicycling. Walking tours are a great way to get to know a city. I love walking around a new town, watching people and stopping in interesting shops.

Summer Health Tips kayak
Summer health tips – plan fun activities during vacation, such as kayaking.

Drink Responsibly

Excessive drinking is never good. Combine it with summertime and the results can be disastrous. Alcohol intensifies dehydration. Additionally, too much alcohol impairs judgment, coordination and balance, which can lead to accidents and injuries.

And did you know that 70% of adult and adolescent drownings involve alcohol?

Drink responsibly. Don’t operate a vehicle, including ATV, boats and motorcycles, while drinking. And stay out of the water!

Learn How to Swim

And speaking of playing in the water, make sure family members, especially children, know how to swim.

Many cities offer swimming lessons at community pools or local YMCAs. Swimming pools, lakes and even the ocean are enticing to children and adults. Make sure everyone knows how to swim and is familiar with basic water safety if your vacation includes water activities. It’s good for at least one adult to know CPR as well.

A drowning can happen in as little as two inches of water. Never, ever leave children unattended near water, even the bathtub.

On boats, make sure everyone wears a properly fitting life vest.

Summer Health Tips river fun
Summer health tips – practice water safety and teach children how to swim.

Fire Safety

Whether toasting marshmallows over a campfire, sitting around a fire pit or celebrating 4th of July with fireworks, practice fire safety.

When around a campfire or fire pit, always have water on hand to prevent fire from escaping its boundaries. Never leave a fire unattended. And properly extinguish the fire before leaving the area.

On camping trips carry a first aid kit that includes bandages and ointments in case of a minor burn.

Don’t allow children to handle fireworks without close supervision. Hundreds of people end up in the emergency room around the 4th of July, with injuries related to fireworks. Keep a bucket of water nearby and toss spent fireworks in, to make sure they are fully extinguished. Sparklers can reach a temperature of 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. Drop them into the bucket too. Stepping on a burned out sparkler on the ground can cause injury. And never try to relight a firework that didn’t completely ignite. Toss it.

Wear Lightweight Clothing

And finally, during the summer months, wear lightweight, light colored, loose fitting clothing. Those garments keep you cooler by helping sweat to evaporate more quickly.

I LOVE the clothes from Toad&Co. They are perfect for summer. And not only do  they offer stylish clothes, Toad&Co is a sustainable, eco-friendly company. I feel good wearing their clothes, and good about their garments.

Summer Health Tips lightweight clothes
Summer health tips – wear loose fitting, lightweight clothes, such as these from Toad&Co

Have a Healthy Summer

Do you love summertime?

As you enjoy the season, may you do so in optimal health and wellness! And may your adventures be many and your joys as abundant as the summer flowers that stretch toward the sun.

Summer Health Tips fire pit

Summer Finds from Amazon:

 


 

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.

 

Prevent Skin Cancer

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

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month.

By raising awareness and sharing facts about the dangers associated with ultraviolet radiation exposure from the sun, the Skin Cancer Foundation hopes to save lives.

Fortunately, when caught early, skin cancer is one of the most treatable forms of cancer. With knowledge and awareness, we can prevent it.

Check out these skin cancer facts and ways to prevent the disease.

Prevent Skin Cancer title meme

Skin Cancer Facts

Skin cancer is the most common cancer, in the US and the world. Here’s what you need to know.

  • 1 in 5 Americans develop skin cancer by age 70
  • over age 50, more men than women develop melanoma
  • in the US, 9,500+ people receive a skin cancer diagnosis every day
  • 2+ people die of skin cancer every hour
  • 5 or more sunburns during a lifetime doubles the risk for melanoma
  • just 1 blistering sunburn during childhood or adolescence more than doubles a person’s chances of developing skin cancer later in life
  • early detection of skin cancer results in a 99% survival rate of 5 or more years
  • there are more skin cancer diagnoses yearly than all other cancers combined
  • ultraviolet radiation (UV) is a proven carcinogen and the leading cause of skin cancer
  • UV tanning devices reclassified to Class II moderate to high risk for skin cancer, in 2014
  • indoor tanning devices can emit 10 to 15 times more UV radiation than the sun at peak intensity
  • the more one uses indoor tanning devices, the higher the risk for skin cancer
  • overexposure to the sun causes 90% of skin aging
  • using a SPF 15+ sunscreen results in 24% less skin damage
Prevent Skin Cancer 1 in 5
Prevent skin cancer – 1 in 5 develop skin cancer by age 70

Skin Cancer Prevention

The good news is, skin cancer is preventable. It’s important to know that the sun reaches you even when you think you are avoiding it. UV radiation penetrates cloud cover and glass and bounces off of sand, snow and water. Additionally, sun damage accumulates over the years from simple daily activities such as walking outside, riding in the car, collecting the mail and playing outdoors with the kids.

Practice these tips to protect yourself.

  • seek shade between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm when sun is most intense. Note: during the morning or evening hours, 10 minutes of sunlight is good for our health.
  • don’t get sunburned
  • never use tanning devices such as tanning beds
  • cover skin with loose fitting clothes, a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses
  • use a broad spectrum UVA/UVB SPF 15+ sunscreen daily
  • for extended outdoor activities, use a water resistant SPF 30+ sunscreen
  • apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen over the entire body 30 minutes before going outdoors. Reapply every two hours or after swimming or excessive sweating.
  • keep newborn babies out of the sun. Apply sunscreen to babies six months old and older
  • examine skin from head to toe, including the scalp and hairline, once a month
  • see something new, unusual or changing on your skin? Get checked immediately.
Prevent Skin Cancer water
Prevent skin cancer – reapply sunscreen after swimming

Foods That Help Prevent Skin Cancer

There’s growing evidence that highly nutritious foods can help prevent skin cancer. It’s simple, really. Eat as healthily as you can, including foods that are rich in antioxidants.

UV exposure generates unstable free radicals that create inflammation in the body. Those free radicals also damage cells and the skin’s DNA. DNA damage causes changes genetically, resulting in mutations that lead to skin cancer.

Antioxidants fight free radicals, preventing inflammation and cell damage. While supplements are helpful when nutrient rich foods aren’t available, for the best protection against free radicals, eat your nutrition.

Include the following antioxidant nutrients:

Beta Carotene

This nutrient, found in orange fruits and veggies, converts to vitamin A in the body. Not only does beta carotene help prevent skin cancer, it boosts the immune system too.

  • carrots
  • squash
  • sweet potatoes
  • cantaloupe
  • apricots
  • mangoes

Lycopene

This is the red pigment found in certain foods. Studies discovered that people eating foods rich in lycopene experienced 40% less sunburns. It also lowers the risks of other cancers besides skin cancer.

  • tomatoes, including tomato products such as tomato paste or sauce
  • red, orange and yellow peppers
  • watermelon
  • guava
  • papaya
  • apricots
  • pink grapefruit
  • Cara Cara oranges and blood oranges

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3s inhibit a chemical called COX-2 that causes skin cancers to grow. They also reduce inflammation.

  • chia seeds
  • Brussels sprouts
  • algal oil – derived from algae
  • hemp seeds
  • walnuts
  • flaxseed

Polyphenols

Drinking green tea helps prevent skin cancer due to its powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor properties. Polyphenols in green tea repair DNA in sun exposed skin, reducing cell damage.

Selenium

This nutrient lowers the risk of all types of cancers and decreases cancer deaths.

  • Brazil nuts
  • cashews
  • brown rice
  • lentils and legumes
  • grains
  • spinach

Vitamin C

This vitamin helps calm inflammation and contains properties that make it toxic to cancer cells.

  • citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, oranges
  • berries such as blueberries, strawberries, raspberries
  • leafy greens
  • broccoli
  • green peppers

Vitamin E

A proven antioxidant, vitamin E helps to prevent damage from free radicals, absorbs energy from UV light and contains potent anti-inflammatory properties. It also improves the skin’s ability to act as a protective barrier.

  • almonds and other nuts
  • sunflower seeds and other seeds
  • spinach

Zinc

Zinc keeps the immune system healthy to effectively fight cancer. It also activates antioxidants in the body and increases the level of proteins involved in DNA repair.

  • legumes
  • hummus
  • chickpeas
  • lentils
  • black beans
Prevent Skin Cancer carrots
Prevent skin cancer – eat highly nutritious foods

Protect Your Skin This Summer

As summer approaches, inviting you to play and explore more outdoors, protect your skin with these simple tips. And stay aware of changes or any unusual spots on the skin.

Don’t become one of the 5 million cases of skin cancer diagnosed this year. Take care of your body and unite against this disease. Together we can save lives!

For more information, visit the Skin Cancer Foundation.

Prevent Skin Cancer sunglasses

 


 

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.

 

Eight Fresh Salads

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

May is not only National Salsa Month, it’s also National Salad Month.

As one who embraces a plant based lifestyle, salads are an important mainstay of my diet. However, get the idea of boring salads, with limp iceberg lettuce and tasteless store bought tomatoes, out of your mind. My diet is most definitely NOT boring. And my salads aren’t either!

Check out this round up of eight fresh salads and make one…or all of them…in celebration of this versatile and healthy dish. Simply click the title of each salad below, to go to the recipe.

Eight Fresh Salads title meme

Chopped Veggie Salad

For a highly nutritious salad that works as a stand alone meal or a side dish, you can’t go wrong with a big bowl of chopped veggie salad. Light on greens, this salad includes a wide assortment of chopped veggies from zucchini to chickpeas to red onions. In fact, I use whatever vegetables I have on hand, and top the whole thing with diced avocado.

This mix of veggies is so good…and good for me…that I frequently crave a chopped veggie salad. Top with a sugar free dressing or make your own salad dressing.

Eight Fresh Salads chopped veggies
Eight fresh salads – chopped veggie salad

Lentil, Pomegranate, Kamut Grain Spiced Sumac Salad

From my blogging friend Megan, and her blog Basil and Bay, comes this wonderfully filling salad. Megan combines an ancient grain, called kamut, with lentils, red onion, almonds, pomegranate seeds, dried fruit and pumpkin seeds. This delightful salad combines crunchy, chewy, sweet, and salty ingredients for the perfect balance of flavor.

I can’t wait to try this salad! It looks amazing. Visit Megan’s blog to see all that she offers.

Eight Fresh Salads lentil pomegranate
Eight fresh salads – lentil, pomegranate, kamut grain. Photo from Basil and Bay website.

Radish Cucumber Dill Salad

This simple salad says “summer time” to me. It’s a great way to use garden fresh produce. And any salad with dill in it is a favorite of mine! I grow dill in my garden and love snipping sprigs to include in salads and homemade salad dressings.

This salad is versatile as well. Combine tomatoes, cucumbers and dill. Or add thinly sliced red onion.

Eight Fresh Salads radish cucumber
Eight fresh salads – radish cucumber dill

Orange, Avocado and Green Olives

Although it sounds like an unlikely combination, this salad is delicious and one of my favorite lunches. It combines the flavors of sweet, citrusy Cara Cara oranges, creamy sliced avocado and pungent green olives. I typically add a navel orange to the mix as well, even though I am a Cara Cara orange fiend! Add a sprinkle of chopped cilantro for extra flavor.

Eight Fresh Salads orange avocado
Eight fresh salads – orange, avocado and green olives

Arugula, Potato and Asparagus Salad

From author and teacher Anthony William comes this wonderful salad full of healing foods. It combines asparagus, brussels sprouts, and potatoes with fresh leafy greens, herbs, onion, and a simple dressing. The result is a highly nutritious and delicious meal. Click title link to find the recipe. Or purchase Anthony’s recently updated and revised book Medical Medium, now full of healing recipes.

Eight Fresh Salads arugula potato
Eight fresh salad recipes – arugula, potato, asparagus salad. Photo from Medical Medium website

Vegan Waldorf Salad

One of my favorite salads as a child, I love the combination of juicy red grapes, crisp apples and crunchy celery and walnuts. What about the mayo though? I was a happy lady when I discovered vegan mayonnaise. Waldorf salad is back in my life!

This light salad makes a great lunch or side dish. Look for the vegan mayo in health conscious grocery stores.

Eight Fresh Salads vegan waldorf
Eight Fresh Salads – vegan waldorf salad

Persian Shirazi Salad

From my blogging friend Maya comes this quick and easy salad full of simple, wholesome ingredients, dressed with olive oil and lime. Maya shares that the salad, named for the city in southwestern Iran, is found on almost on every Iranian table at practically every meal.

I can see why! This salad combines cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, green bell peppers and herbs for a flavorful dish that serves as a main meal or a side dish. Check out the recipe and Maya’s blog, Stirring My Spicy Soul, for more salad recipes and other delicious dishes.

And use a high quality extra virgin olive oil for your salad, such as Nina’s Olivar Almeria Gold. I can highly recommend it. I just ordered another bottle.

Eight Fresh Salads persian
Eight fresh salads – Persian Shirazi Salad. Photo from Stirring My Spicy Soul website

Potato and Herb Salad

This summer favorite gets a healthy twist! I love potato salad. This version, from Anthony William, uses fresh herbs such as chives, parsley and dill. It is full of flavor without using sugar, dairy products or eggs.

Try it at your next family gathering. Or eat the whole salad yourself!

Eight Fresh Salads herbed potato salad
Eight fresh salads – herbed potato salad

Which Salad Will You Make?

Do you love all these fresh salads? I got hungry, just typing up this post. One of these salads is on the menu for lunch tomorrow!

I hope you’ve seen that salads do not have to be boring. They are one of the most versatile and easily prepared dishes. And the recipes are forgiving. Add ingredients or take some away and discover just how fun it is to come up with your own amazing salad recipes.

Which of these eight fresh salads will you make?

Eight Fresh Salads ultimate salad

Salad Fixings from Amazon:


 

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Ease Arthritis Pain

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

May is National Arthritis Awareness Month. Its purpose is to bring attention to a condition that affects 350 million people worldwide and 50 million people in the US including 350,000 children.

Arthritis is also the primary cause of disability in the US, costing $156 billion annually in medical costs and lost wages.

In this post, find out what arthritis is and how to ease arthritis pain, naturally.

Ease Arthritis Pain title meme

What is Arthritis?

There are three types of arthritis, which is an inflammatory disease.

  • Osteoarthritis – the most common form of arthritis, it occurs when cartilage at the end of a bone wears down, exposing bone nerve fibers
  • Rheumatoid arthritis – an autoimmune disorder characterized by inflammation and pain in the joints. Over time the inflammation breaks down joint tissue, causing permanent damage.
  • Psoriatic arthritis – occurs in conjunction with psoriasis, causing pain and swelling in the joint along with the tendons and ligaments attached to bones.

Arthritis isn’t just a disorder for older adults. Juvenile arthritis affects children as young as one. And two thirds of all people with arthritis are under the age of 65. However, with advanced age comes a higher risk for developing arthritis. Half of all adults over the age of 65 experience pain and swelling in their joints.

There are many medications that doctors prescribe for arthritis inflammation and pain. And I’m not advising that you stop medication. These tips that ease arthritis pain…and also help with inflammation…are natural remedies to try along with your current treatments. You might even find that you can reduce medications or eliminate them entirely, under a physician’s care, of course.

Ease Arthritis Pain knees
Ease arthritis pain – my knees

Ease Arthritis Pain

I’ve dealt with my share of arthritis pain. A serious car accident in 1995, at age 38, twisted my neck vertebrae and lower spine, damaged my sternum and ribs and set off an inflammatory…and viral…response in my body that affected those injured areas and my legs for more than 20 years.

The following tips eased my pain by reducing inflammation and swelling in joints, tendons and ligaments. Plus I’ve added a few tips that I’ve come across since my healing.

Eat Foods that Fight Inflammation

Right at the top of the tips list, is this most crucial suggestion: eat more fresh fruits and veggies. After the accident, I suffered pain for 20+ years and saw countless doctors and specialists, trying all kinds of treatments without success. Not once did anyone suggest that I try changing my diet. Anthony William, aka the Medical Medium, quite literally saved my life and ended my suffering. How? By suggesting a plant based lifestyle, via his social media posts and books.

For a complete list of inflammation fighting foods, and more about how my inflammation hid an underlying cause for my pain, click HERE.

On the short list of inflammation fighting foods, include more berries, cherries, watermelon, celery, onions, leafy greens, garlic, herbs, cloves and olive oil.

Avoid GMO corn, wheat, rye, eggs, beef, coffee and milk, as these foods can create more inflammation in the body.

Ease Arthritis Pain - olive oil
Ease arthritis pain – olive oil. Try this wonderful, high quality olive oil. Check out my post about it, Nina’s Olivar Almeria Gold Olive Oil.

Wash Dishes by Hand

This tip may surprise you! However, washing dishes by hand eases stiff, painful finger joints by immersing them in hot water. Plus the motions of washing and gripping each plate or cup exercises the hands and fingers which helps with joint pain.

Manage Weight

Carrying excess weight puts stress on joints, especially the hips, knees and feet. Losing extra weight improves mobility, reduces pain and prevents damage to joints. Eating more fruits and veggies not only fights inflammation, it helps to shed extra pounds too.

Drink Herbal Teas

An easy way to include inflammation and pain easing herbs in the diet is through herbal teas.

The three best to ease arthritis pain include:

  • ginger tea – mimics NSAIDs which relieve arthritis discomfort by curbing pain causing chemicals that are part of the body’s inflammatory response. Simmer slices of fresh ginger for 15 minutes in two cups of boiling water or purchase ginger tea bags.
  • lavender tea – eases pain and soothes the body by helping it to relax. Plus inhaling lavender’s scent while you drink the tea eases pain further. Steep two teaspoons of dried lavender in a cup of hot water for 10 minutes. Or purchase lavender tea bags.
  • chamomile tea – this soothing tea helps ease arthritis pain in two ways. Drink a cup of hot chamomile tea to relax tense muscles, tendons and ligaments. And make a chamomile poultice. Brew four chamomile tea bags in a cup of hot water. Steep for 20 minutes. Remove tea bags. Soak a clean cloth in the tea, wring out and apply to achy joints.

I just received this amazing loose leaf lavender and chamomile tea that’s the perfect combo for easing arthritis pain! Watch for a future blog post featuring this delicious tea. You can order now, however, through this LINK.

Ease Arthritis Pain lavender chamomile tea
A perfect tea combo for arthritis pain – lavender and chamomile

Aromatherapy

Certain scents can alter the perception of pain. Lavender, mentioned above, reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which helps lessen pain.

Other helpful pain reducing scents include marjoram, rosemary and peppermint.

Inhale crushed fresh herbs or use essential oils in a diffuser.

Make Your Own Heat Pad

Fill a clean cotton sock with uncooked rice and seal with string or sew it closed. Microwave on high for 2 – 3 minutes. Cool slightly then place on sore, achy joints. This DIY heat pad will stay warm for about 30 minutes. Add dried lavender, marjoram, rosemary or peppermint to the rice, for a warm pad with the extra benefits of aromatherapy!

Hot/Cold Therapy

Fill a container with ice water and a second container with hot water, as hot as you can tolerate without burning skin.

Begin with immersing achy fingers or hands into the ice water for one minute then switch to the hot water for 30 seconds. Keep alternating between the cold and hot water, for 15 minutes. Finish with the ice water.

For larger joints such as knees or the back, use bags of frozen vegetables and the DIY heat pad above. Alternate between the frozen veggies for one minutes then the heat pad for 30 seconds, for 15 minutes.

Supplements that Ease Arthritis Pain

Take these supplements daily, to fight inflammation and ease pain:

  • ginger
  • turmeric
  • boswellia
  • bromelain
  • vitamin C
  • stinging nettle
  • vitamin D or 10 minutes of sunshine a day
  • vitamin E
  • cat’s claw

I personally take eight of those supplements and I can tell a difference when I miss taking them. I recently started taking a supplement called Comfort Guard that reduces pain and inflammation with a combo of turmeric, ginger and boswellia.

Click on photo for more info or to order. This supplement is so helpful!

Massage

Massage can help manage joint pain and relieve inflammation. Seek out an experienced massage therapist who knows a variety of modalities for easing pain, stiffness and joint swelling and tenderness. And an experienced energy worker helps tremendously as well.

Meditation

Relaxation practices such as meditation, tai chi and yoga helps lower arthritis pain by lowering stress. And reducing stress also lowers inflammation.

Tai chi and yoga combine meditation with relaxation, breathing and movement, making them ideal for pain relief.

Incrediwear

Incrediwear products increase blood flow to reduce inflammation and swelling. They also relieve pain and accelerate recovery. Rather than using compression, Incrediwear products incorporate semiconductor elements within the fabric that release negative ions when stimulated by body heat.

Those negative ions activate cellular vibrations that speed up blood flow. The increased circulation brings more oxygen and nutrients to the target area, which supports the body’s natural healing process.

The company sells sleeves and braces, socks and apparel. Incrediwear products are especially helpful when an arthritic knee, ankle or foot gets injured, setting off an inflammatory response. I own two of the sleeves, one for each knee!

Low Impact Exercise

Contrary to what one might think, exercise is helpful for easing arthritis pain, in several ways.

Low impact exercises such as walking, swimming, cycling, gardening and tai chi keep joints limber and flexible, strengthen muscles around the joints, offering more support, and help manage weight.

Find an exercise that you enjoy and stick with it.

I speak to myself here. Every time I travel, especially internationally, I spend hours a day walking as I explore the region I’m in. The first few days, my knees protest mightily with aches and pains and stiffness. However, by the fourth day, my knee joints loosen up, move easily and freely, and the pain disappears.

Such beneficial results encourage me to continue walking when I return home. I don’t spend hours a day exploring back in my own city though, so eventually, the daily walks cease. I’m determined to walk more.

Increase Wellbeing by Easing Pain

I hope these tips help with your achy joints.

While a few temporarily ease discomfort, most, when practiced consistently, eliminate inflammation and pain with it.

Low impact exercise, meditation, herbal teas, managing weight, taking supplements and eating foods that fight inflammation can provide long term results. I know. I’m pain free now, except when I injure myself and set off an inflammatory response. The good news is, I know how to handle such a response and restore health.

My desire is to live my best life. To do so, I require a healthy body and high energy. Knowing how to care for my body is a key part of my overall wellness.

Which tip is most helpful for you?

Ease Arthritis Pain meditation

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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.

 

Reduce Stress Naturally

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

April is Stress Awareness Month. The purpose is to highlight the fact that 70% of adults deal with stress on a daily basis.

Stress is inevitable for most of us. We have deadlines. We are overworked. Or occasional days go haywire, leaving us feeling anxious, pressured and maxed out. However, when we live with stress day after day, it becomes a chronic condition. The body no longer knows how to relax and let the stress go. When that happens we suffer on many levels.

Learn the signs of chronic stress and how to reduce stress naturally.

Reduce Stress Naturally title meme

Signs of Chronic Stress

Stress is a physical and mental reaction to life situations. We all encounter it. Everyday experiences in our families and workplaces can trigger stress as can more serious situations like a medical diagnosis or the loss of a loved one.

Our bodies respond to stress by releasing hormones that increase breathing and heart rates while preparing muscles to move. Commonly referred to as the “fight or flight” reflex, it’s meant to protect us when faced with danger.

However, when those hormones flood our bodies day after day, it affects our health in a variety of ways.

Symptoms of chronic stress include:

  • headaches
  • depression
  • heartburn and acid reflux
  • weakened immune system
  • high blood pressure
  • high blood sugar
  • digestive disorders
  • fertility problems
  • erectile dysfunction
  • low libido
  • increased risk of heart attack and stroke
  • insomnia
  • pounding heart
  • fatigue
  • overeating or loss of appetite
  • drug or alcohol abuse
  • social withdrawal
  • body aches and pains from tight muscles

Reduce Stress Naturally

To help the body break the pattern of chronic stress and anxiety, try these tips.

Exercise Regularly

Even short periods of consistent physical activity helps relieve stress and anxiety. Exercise reduces cortisol and adrenaline, the body’s stress hormones. At the same time, it releases endorphins, chemicals that make us feel happy and ease pain.

Activities such as walking, jogging, dancing, biking or swimming that involve repetitive large muscle movements are most helpful in combatting stress.

Eat Nutritious Foods

I mention this tip frequently, for good reason. The body uses food as fuel. And honestly, most people fuel their bodies poorly. A body lacking highly nutritious food struggles when it comes under attack for any reason. And an overwhelmed body becomes stressed on many levels.

Fruits and veggies, legumes and nuts, simple grains and herbs fuel the body beautifully, making it better able to withstand stress. Avoid sugar and high fat foods. They cause a spike in blood sugar which results in a crash later that can create more feelings of stress and anxiety.

Drink Herbal Teas

Herbal teas such as lemon balm and chamomile help ease stress and anxiety naturally. Other excellent choices include rose, lavender and passionflower.

Additionally, switching from coffee, soda and black tea to herbal teas reduces caffeine intake. High levels of caffeine increase stressful feelings.

Take a daily afternoon break, like they do in many European countries, and sip on a cup of hot herbal tea. It’s one of my favorite daily traditions and a great way to destress.

Reduce Stress Naturally herbal tea
Reduce stress naturally – take an afternoon break and sip on hot herbal tea

Listen to Soothing Music

Music truly can soothe the beast that is stress. Slow paced classical, instrumental, Celtic or Native American flute music helps the body relax and allows the mind to quiet.

Or try listening to nature sounds such as a rain, ocean waves or a low key thunderstorm. I love my Echo Dot that’s connected to Amazon Music. I can listen to a wide variety of music or sounds of nature. When I’m working, writing, cleaning house or cooking, I have music playing in the background.

Journaling

Writing out feelings, frustrations and gratitudes is a wonderful way to ease stress. The act of writing in a journal moves thoughts, energetically, from the brain to paper. Otherwise, those thoughts just keep swirling around in the head, going no where. Try writing for a few minutes every morning or at night before bed, whichever feels better to you. It’s not even necessary to read what you write or edit it in any way. Write freely without stopping for several minutes and then move on.

Focusing on gratitude shifts the mind from thinking about what’s wrong to thinking about all that is right in life. Make listing five gratitudes a daily practice.

Laugh

Laughter has many health benefits.

The giggles instantly lower the body’s stress response and releases tension held in muscles. Plus it plays a significant role in decreasing anxiety due to the release of the feel good hormones, endorphins. Laughter also helps us deal with challenging circumstances such as illnesses, embarrassing situations and life struggles.

Additionally, laughter boosts the immune system and improves mood. Watch funny movies, tv shows or videos. Catch a stand up comedian’s performance at a club. Tell jokes or hang out with friends who make you laugh.

Reduce Stress Naturally laugh
Reduce stress naturally – laugh

Spend Time With Others

Speaking of hanging out with people who make you laugh, studies show that spending time with friends or family members reduces stress. It does, that is, if you have close, positive relationships with those people.

When we spend time with people we love and feel loved by, our bodies release oxytocin, a natural stress reliever. Being part of a friend network or family group provides a sense of belonging also. And physical contact with those loved ones, such as hugs, cuddles or kisses, lowers stress hormones while releasing more oxytocin.

Plus, those friends and family members provide a listening ear when you need to talk out a stressful situation. Like writing out feelings, talking them out helps move troubling thoughts out of the head.

Chew Gum

This one may come as a surprise! Studies show that people who chew gum have a greater sense of wellbeing and lower stress levels. It’s possible that chewing gum creates greater blood flow to the brain. Chewing strongly, good news for those who like to smack their gum, seems to provide the most stress relief.

Spend Time With Pets

Spending time with pets…cuddling, going for walks, caring for them…reduces stress as well. That interaction releases oxytocin, just like spending time with the people we love does.

Pets give us purpose, provide companionship and help keeps us active, all positive ways of boosting mood and lowering stress levels.

Reduce Stress Naturally pets
Reduce stress naturally – spend time with pets. My cat Rilynn, who loves to lie on my lap while I work.

Be Mindful

Mindfulness is the awareness of being in the present moment. It helps to combat negative thinking about the past or anxiety about the future.

There are several ways to practice mindfulness.

Deep breathing brings focus on just that…the breath. Plus deep breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which induces a relaxation response. Breathe in slowly through the nose, hold for a few seconds, then exhale slowly through the mouth.

Meditation is an extended time of focusing on the breath while allowing thoughts to pass by without getting hung up on them. Meditation relaxes the body by easing tight muscles. It can be a very effective way of releasing stress from the mind and the body.

Yoga brings the mind and body together, using breath and movement. Practicing yoga enhances mood and eases depression and anxiety. It lowers cortisol levels and heart rate, which reduces stress as well.

Eliminate What Causes Stress

This may sound too simple, yet it’s effective. Are you trying to do too much, in the time that you have? Reduce the number of items on your to-do list. Don’t overcommit. Learn to say “no” to obligations or things you really don’t want to do anyway.

Stop watching the news, reading the paper or scrolling through social media, if those activities cause you stress. Walk away from negative relationships. Disconnect from electronics frequently. Build breaks into your day.

Making positive changes to your daily life, even in small ways, reduces stress. Do the things that bring you the greatest joy or feel fun. Make time for hobbies.

Express Creativity

Finding ways to express your creativity helps to focus the brain on something pleasurable and fun, allowing it to release negative thoughts. You don’t have to paint masterpieces or write stories to express creativity.

Arrange flowers, garden, decorate a room or the whole house, sew, bake, sing or play a musical instrument. These creative activities soothe the analytical mind and relax the body.

One fun way to lower stress, that anyone can do, is coloring. Grab markers, crayons or colored pencils and a coloring book and lose yourself in laying color on paper. Coloring relaxes the mind and body in the same way that meditation does, whether you are filling in geometric shapes or completing a complex picture. Give it a try as a powerful stress buster.

Reduce Stress Naturally coloring
Reduce stress naturally – one of the pictures I colored. Coloring is one of my favorite ways to relax.

How Is Your Stress Level?

Stress Awareness Month is indeed an excellent time to pause and evaluate how you are handling stress. Do you feel stressful occasionally? Frequently? Daily?

Beyond the anxiety stress causes, the negative effects on the mind and body are far reaching. Stress is a leading cause of disease for ultimately, the chronically stressed body becomes an unhealthy body.

I know. I lived with chronic stress and anxiety for many years. It’s taken inner work, better nutrition and mindfulness practices to shift into a healthier lifestyle.

It’s worth the work.

Which of these tips that reduce stress naturally will you try?

Reduce Stress Naturally relax

 

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.