Heart Health Tips

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February, the month of love, is also American Heart Month. For 57 years, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the American Heart Association have worked to raise awareness about heart health during this month. And for good reason. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the US.

The focus this month is on preventing heart disease by adopting a heart healthy lifestyle. Did you know that there are many steps we can take, to protect our hearts and prevent coronary disease? The ultimate form of self care involves creating better health and wellness in our lives and being an example to others so that they can do the same.

Check out these heart health tips and take charge of your wellbeing.

Heart Health Tips title meme

Lose the Belly Fat

Research links excess belly fat to higher risks for heart disease. That extra weight around the middle raises blood pressure and creates unhealthy blood lipids. Targeting belly fat loss is a two step process. Eat a better diet, with more fruits and vegetables, and exercise for at least 15 minutes daily.

Use a smaller plate for meals and fill most of that plate with wholesome, plant based foods. Focus on including leafy greens, berries, brown rice, oats, quinoa, avocados, beans, walnuts and tomatoes.

Heart Health Tips belly
Heart Health Tips – lose the belly fat

Add Fiber to Diet

In addition to more fresh produce and wholesome grains, include more fiber in meals. A diet rich in soluble fiber helps lower bad cholesterol and boosts heart heath. Add beans, apples, pears, nuts, oats and avocados to daily meals and snacks. Create a meatless red beans and rice dish. Add avocados to a leafy green salad full of chopped veggies. Top a bowl of oatmeal with diced apples or pears. And a small handful of nuts, such as almonds or walnuts, make a great mid-afternoon snack.

Heart Health Tips fiber
Heart Health Tips – add more fiber

Pet Therapy

Pets not only offer companionship and unconditional love, they provide many health benefits. One of those benefits is better heart and lung health. Walking or playing with pets improves cardio health. And just having a pet and loving it lowers stress and blood pressure and decreases cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Studies shows that pet owners even tend to live longer. If you are looking for a new pet, I suggest contacting your local pet shelter or rescue and adopting from there.

Heart Health Tips pets
Heart Health Tips – pet therapy

Don’t Smoke

One of the best ways to protect the heart and prevent disease is to stop smoking. Or, never start the habit! Cigarettes contain ingredients that, when they burn, generate poisonous chemicals. At least 60 of those are linked to cancer.

Smoking damages the lungs and the entire cardiovascular system. Blood vessels tighten and restrict blood flow. It also raises blood pressure, weakens vessel walls and increases the risk of blood clots, which contribute to strokes. And smoking endangers those around you. Second hand smoke carries the same risks for non-smokers as it does for smokers.

Heart Health Tips no smoking
Heart Health Tips – no smoking

Don’t Have Idle Hands

Engaging in activities that keep the hands busy helps the mind to relax and unwind. And lowering stress is good for the heart. Try knitting, coloring or making crafts. Work a jigsaw puzzle, cook or bake, or try woodworking. Gardening is one of my favorite ways to ease my mind while keeping my hands busy. Even sorting and folding clothes while watching television soothes the mind…as long as the television show itself doesn’t create stress!

Heart Health Tips knitting
Heart Health Tips – don’t have idle hands

Reduce Salt Intake

Reducing salt intake to half a teaspoon a day significantly lowers the risk of heart disease. Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and less processed foods, which are high in sodium. The body requires a small amount of salt, however too much contributes to high blood pressure, which is linked to heart disease, heart attacks, strokes and kidney disease.

One way to control the amount of salt in meals is to cook at home. And try a salt substitute, such as Mrs. Dash, if you already have high blood pressure.

Heart Health Tips salt
Heart Health Tips – reduce salt intake

Enjoy a Glass of Red Wine

Enjoying an occasional glass of red wine helps raise good cholesterol. Wine also helps prevent blood clots and artery damage. And it contains antioxidants that fight inflammation, promote longevity and protect against heart disease. Just don’t overdo it. Drinking in moderation is key.

For those who don’t enjoy a glass of wine, try a cup of hot green tea instead. It is very beneficial to heart health as well. Green tea is linked to lower risks of angina and heart attacks.

Heart Health Tips wine
Heart Health Tips – enjoy a glass of red wine

Eat Dark Chocolate

With that glass of wine, or cup of green tea, savor a piece of rich, dark chocolate. Dark chocolate contains heart healthy flavonoids that help reduce inflammation and lower the risk of heart disease. Like wine, enjoy dark chocolate in moderation and avoid the sweeter milk chocolate all together.

Heart Healthy Tips chocolate
Heart Healthy Tips – Eat dark chocolate

Laugh Out Loud

Surprisingly, laughter has many benefits, including heart health. Robust laughter lowers stress hormones, decreases inflammation in blood vessels and arteries and raises good cholesterol. Laughter is good medicine, indeed! Bring more of it into your life by watching funny movies, reading joke books and spending time with the children in your family. Kids are naturally funny. Watch comedians online or attend a comedy show. Giggle over those cute animal videos on YouTube. And smile, signaling to your body that you are ready for a good laugh.

Heart Health Tips laugh
Heart Health Tips – laugh out loud

Don’t Sit Too Long

A sedentary lifestyle, where one sits for long periods of time, is detrimental to overall wellbeing and especially to heart health. In fact, researchers warn that sitting too much, for too long, shortens life.

Take frequent breaks, if you must sit for hours during the day. Every 60 minutes, get up, stretch and move around for a couple of minutes. Use lunch breaks to eat a healthy lunch and then walk for the time remaining.

So many are working at home currently. It’s just as important to take breaks there as well. Walk to the kitchen and drink a glass of water. Take the dog out for a stroll around the backyard. Play with the kids. Hop on a stationary bike and pedal for 10 minutes. Break up the day with short bursts of activity.

Heart Health Tips sitting
Heart Health Tips – don’t sit too long

Get Your Moves On

To counterbalance sitting for long periods of time and to boost heart health, move the body. After a day of sitting, even with those frequent short breaks, plan a longer time of activity in the evening. Or if you work at home, take longer breaks if possible and get at least 15 minutes of activity in before returning to the computer.

There are so many ways to incorporate more movement into the day, raising heart rate and increasing respiration. Take the stairs rather than an elevator. Park farther from the store and walk. Enjoy nature trails. Turn up the music while doing household chores and ramp up your movements. Play with the kids and really get into their games and activities. Take the dog for a walk through the neighborhood. And dance for your heart. Catch an online Zumba class or get your moves on in the privacy of your own home. Just move…every day.

Heart Health Tips dance
Heart Health Tips – get your moves on

Practice Yoga

Yoga, or stretching, improves flexibility, balance and core strength. It also boosts heart health by reducing stress and anxiety and relaxing the body. If yoga is new to you, find a YouTube channel with an instructor or buy a yoga DVD and mat from Amazon. Yoga is a beautiful way to begin the day and set the intention for greater health and wellness.

Heart Health Tips yoga
Heart Health Tips – practice yoga

Healthy Heart Healthy Life

These tips don’t require a lot of effort or time yet they help to ensure a longer, healthier life. For the month of February, create a plan that incorporates practices that improve heart health and prevent coronary disease. Meal planning makes it easy to include heart healthy foods. And block out time during the day for moving the body.

A positive outlook on health and life is important too. Stress and anxiety are major contributors to heart disease. One of the best ways to be healthier is to make choices that contribute to wellbeing. When we feel better, and see positive results from our choices, we continue to do better. As a result, we more readily take the steps necessary to stay healthy. I hope these tips help you on your journey toward better health…and a better life.

Heart Health Tips fruit

Heart Healthy 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.

Vegan Overnight Oatmeal

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For the last four and a half years, my daily breakfast consists of celery juice and a fruit smoothie. At least, most of the time it does. Occasionally, during the colder winter months, I’ll substitute a bowl of hot oatmeal for the smoothie.

I grew up eating stick-to-your-ribs oatmeal, with added milk and sweetener. As one who avoids animals products, sugar and gluten, my oatmeal today is healthier. Gluten free oats, no sugar and no dairy milk. For convenience I typically use packets of organic, gluten free oatmeal.

For several years I’ve wanted to try vegan overnight oatmeal, a breakfast recipe prepared the night before and then popped into the refrigerator until morning. I finally did so, with the awareness that January is National Oatmeal Month. Last night I prepped my first two vegan overnight oatmeal jars and Greg and I enjoyed them for breakfast this morning, after our celery juice.

They are so easy to make.

Vegan Overnight Oatmeal title meme

 

Simple Wholesome Ingredients

After researching overnight oatmeal I discovered the basic recipe consists of two ingredients: oatmeal, in my case gluten free, and a liquid. I used plant based milk.

Oatmeal

Start with half a cup of rolled oats, also considered the “old fashioned” kind of oatmeal. I prefer gluten free oats, due to a gluten sensitivity. If you tolerate regular oatmeal, use that. (Not sure if you are gluten intolerant? Check out these eight symptoms.)

Plant Based Milk

Add two thirds cup of plant based milk of choice. I used unsweetened almond milk. Unsweetened coconut milk or unsweetened almond/coconut milk works too.

The combined milk and oats chilling overnight creates a creamy, ready to eat oatmeal by morning, as the oats absorb the milk.

Vegan Overnight Oatmeal into the fridge
Vegan Blueberry Overnight Oatmeal ready to go into the fridge.

Add Additional Ingredients

After combining the two main ingredients, the fun begins. Add fresh berries, bananas or other fruit, about one fourth to half a cup. Include walnuts or pecans…a couple of tablespoons. Love raisins? Add those. Any kind of fruit, chopped into small pieces works.

If using apples, add a half teaspoon of cinnamon. Need a little sweetening? Skip the processed sugar. Add chopped dates or a spoonful of pure maple syrup.

Chia seeds add protein and help the oats set up. Sugar free nut butters add flavor and protein as well. Play around with the foods that you like and create your own delicious flavor combos. Just start with half a cup of uncooked rolled oats and two thirds cup of plant based milk as the base.

Vegan Overnight Oatmeal prepped
Prepped vegan overnight oatmeal…apple cinnamon and blueberry.
Vegan Overnight Oatmeal Blueberry

Vegan Blueberry Overnight Oatmeal

This quick breakfast comes together in minutes and then sets up in the refrigerator overnight.
Prep Time 5 mins
Total Time 5 mins
Course Breakfast
Cuisine American
Servings 1 Serving

Ingredients
  

  • 1/2 cup gluten free rolled oats
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened plant based milk such as almond
  • 2 tsp chia seeds
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup fresh blueberries

Instructions
 

  • Combine oats and plant based milk in a container such as a small mason jar or bowl. Stir well.
  • Add remaining ingredients. Stir to combine. Cover container with lid or cloth and chill at least four hours in the refrigerator.
  • In the morning, stir oatmeal. Heat, if desired, in microwave for one minute. Or warm in pan on the stove. Or eat oatmeal cold. Add additional fruit for topping, if desired. Makes one serving.
Keyword Overnight Oatmeal, Vegan

 

Vegan Overnight Oatmeal ready to eat
Vegan overnight oatmeal chilled and ready to eat.

Vegan Overnight Oatmeal Tips

For the apple cinnamon oatmeal, I made the recipe the same as the blueberry except that I added half a teaspoon of cinnamon and replaced the blueberries with half a cup of chopped apple. Next time I’ll toss in a tablespoon of chopped walnuts.

These 8 ounce mason jars, with lids, are the perfect containers.

For creamier oatmeal, use a bit more milk. Or slightly reduce the amount of liquid and add two or three tablespoons of plant based yogurt.

Try fun combinations such a banana and peanut butter oatmeal or mixed berries and unsweetened shredded coconut or chocolate and almonds. Use two to three tablespoons of cocoa powder. How about pumpkin oatmeal? Add one third cup of pumpkin puree, half a teaspoon of cinnamon, a dash of nutmeg and a tablespoon each of pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries.

Eat the oatmeal cold, straight from the fridge or warm it to take the chill off. You don’t need to cook the oatmeal, just warm it. I placed my blueberry oatmeal in the microwave for 6o seconds.

Delicious Breakfast

I enjoyed the vegan overnight oatmeal this morning for breakfast! It was creamy and delicious with semi-tart pops of blueberry flavor. And vegan style, overnight oats are healthy too and just as filling, I discovered, as the steaming bowls of oatmeal my mother made.

Although I’ll continue to drink a fruit smoothie most mornings, the overnight oatmeal is perfect for a weekend breakfast. I look forward to trying out a variety of flavor combos!

Have you tried overnight oats?

Vegan Overnight Oatmeal Blueberry
Vegan blueberry overnight oatmeal.

Make Vegan Overnight Oatmeal with these finds from Amazon:

 


 

 

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Winter Health Tips

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Winter brings with it cold frosty days, snowfall in some areas and long nights perfect for snuggling under warm blankets. It can also bring its own unique set of health challenges. Enjoy the winter months and feel your best with these winter health tips.

Winter Health Tips title meme

Winter Health Tips

Following these simple winter health tips helps to ensure wellbeing during the year’s coldest months. Being indoors more, colds and viruses, drier air due to heating and cloudy, overcast days all contribute to health challenges. We aren’t at the mercy of the weather or the shorter, colder days however. Taking proactive, preventative steps goes a long way toward experiencing a healthier winter.

Get Enough Exercise

Like many animals, it feels like we want to go into hibernation mode when temperatures drop. We tend to eat more and move less. Exercise is one of the best ways to combat that sluggish feeling and keep energy levels high. Even on colder, snowy days a brief walk outdoors does wonders. Some of my most beautiful walks ever took place as snow fell around me.

When the weather just doesn’t permit walking outside, move exercise indoors. Do aerobics, dance to music, ride a stationery bike, do yoga, stretch. Studies show that just 11 minutes of exercise a day improves health and extends life. Make a game out of getting those 11 minutes of exercise in each day. Use a tracking app or keep a simple notebook detailing your success.

Winter Health Tips exercise
Winter Health Tips – get enough exercise

Beware the Winter Blues

For many people shorter days with less sunshine causes a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. It’s not uncommon during the winter to feel sluggish, however those winter blues can become a depression that lasts for months.

Up to 20% of the population experience varying degrees of SAD. Symptoms of seasonal affective disorder include weariness, anxiety, depression, craving carbohydrates, irritability, weight gain and avoidance of social situations.

However, help is available. Sunlight decreases the symptoms of SAD. On sunny days try to spend short periods of time outdoors. Vitamin D helps too. And check out this post for foods that ease seasonal affective disorder, naturally. Stay connected to friends and family through texts, phone calls and facetime. If depression worsens seek professional help.

Winter Health Tips sunlight
Winter Health Tips – sunlight to beat the blues

Supplement with Vitamin D

Speaking of vitamin D, try adding a daily supplement to help prevent SAD and to boost the immune system. Vitamin D also supports healthy bones and teeth, improves brain health, aids the nervous system, contributes to lung function and heart health, decreases risk of flu, and regulates insulin levels. Just don’t think more is better with this supplement. Stick to 5000 IU a day for the best results.

Winter Health Tips vitamin e
Winter Health Tips – take a vitamin E supplement daily

Include Colorful Foods

During the winter months, take advantage of colorful, seasonal fruits and vegetables. They are loaded with nutrients and essential vitamins and minerals. Citrus fruits such as oranges, clementines and grapefruits add vitamin C. Winter squashes and sweet potatoes are rich with vitamin A. Check out the produce section of the grocery store at the beginning of your shopping trip and load up on fresh fruits and veggies. See how many colorful foods you can eat in a day. Your body will thank you for it with improved health and increased immunity.

Winter Health Tips seasonal foods
Winter Health Tips – eat colorful foods

Drink Plenty of Water

During the warmer months, we naturally drink more water. It’s easy during the colder months to skimp on water because we don’t feel as thirsty. Try adding citrus fruits, such as lemons, limes or oranges to a pitcher of water and set the intention of emptying the pitcher by the end of the day.

According to Anthony William, author of Life Changing Foods, citrus fruits added to water are ultra-hydrating and electrolyte producing because they are a top source of mineral salts and trace mineral salts. Plus they contribute highly absorbable vitamin C. In addition, lemons provide bioactive calcium. The phytochemicals called limonoids actually bond the vitamin C and calcium together, so where one goes in the body, the other tags along.

Winter Health Tips water
Winter Health Tips – drink enough water

Add Herbal Teas

One of my favorite practices, winter or otherwise, is afternoon tea. Those hot cups of herbal tea are especially soothing on cold winter days. Including a cup…or two…of herbal tea a day helps with hydration and provides a wealth of health benefits.

I often say “there’s an herb for that”. And there truly is. Upset stomach? A cup of hot peppermint tea soothes it. Need to unwind? Try a cup of chamomile. Feel a cold coming on? Drink a cup of nettle tea.

Here is a list of the absolute best herbal teas for cold and flu season. If you don’t think you’ll like hot tea I suggest you try it anyway. If hot tea still isn’t your “cup of tea”, steep the herbs in hot water, chill in the fridge and pour tea over ice.

Winter Health Tip herbal teas
Winter Health Tips – add herbal teas

Pamper the Skin

This time of year, with cold temperatures outdoors and hot dry air circulating indoors, many experience dry winter skin. Limit showers and baths to no more than ten minutes, if skin feels tight, dry or itchy. And use warm water rather than hot. Blot skin dry with a towel then slather on a high quality skin moisturizer. Hydrate the skin by drinking enough water and herbal teas. A cold water humidifier in the home helps to soothe dry skin as well.

Winter Health Tips skin care
Winter Health Tips – pamper the skin

Fight Germs

We all learned the importance of this tip last year. Winter brings with it more cold and flu viruses. Wash hands frequently, using the 20 second rule. Sing “Happy Birthday” while you wash hands with warm water and soap. An alcohol based hand sanitizer works well if soap and water aren’t available. And boost the immune system with sunlight, vitamin D and fresh fruits and vegetables. Add a high quality vitamin C supplement daily and keep elderberry syrup on hand. Take as directed at the first hint of a cold. Herbal teas are wonderful as well for their immune building properties. And of course, while COVID is still a threat this winter, wear a mask and observe social distancing if you must go out, wash hands and use hand sanitizer after excursions. Stay home as much as possible.

Winter Health Tips wash hands
Winter Health Tips – fight germs

Practice Self Care

Winter is a time for intense self care. With colder weather keeping us indoors, we can learn to really focus in on our bodies, emotions and needs. Creating healthy habits is a form of self care. So is moving our bodies. Go to sleep earlier. Nap in the afternoon, preferably in a patch of sunlight streaming in through the window. Reflect. Journal. Write down your thoughts.

Winter is also a time to prepare for the warmer months. Write down goals. Dream big dreams. Make plans. Learn a new language. Read. Enjoy a hobby. Try new things. Cook healthy meals. Get rid of clutter. Whatever brings you joy, do those things.

Winter Health Tips self care
Winter Health Tips – practice intense self care

Have a Cozy and Healthy Winter

I hope these simple tips give you ideas for increasing your health and wellbeing this winter. It’s the coziest time of the year. May you stay warm and well and safe and use these months to create health habits that take you into spring and beyond.

Winter Health Tips

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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.

 

Is It a Fruit?

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The last two years I’ve celebrated my January 9th birthday in a unique way. I write activities on slips of paper, place them in a jar and draw one out each day. The number of activities corresponds to the number of years in my upcoming birthday. I’ll turn 63 on my birthday so I placed 63 activities into the jar.

One activity that I drew out led to interesting research. It read: “Only eat fruit for a day”. I’m plant based, since July of 2016, so eating lots of fruits and veggies is common for me. In planning my menu for the day, however, I wondered which foods were really fruits…and which were really vegetables. I knew, for example, that tomatoes, while eaten as a vegetable, are actually fruit. What else is commonly called a vegetable, when in actuality it is a fruit?

I was intrigued by what I found. You might be too.

Is it a fruit? Check out these foods that might surprise you.

Is it a fruit title meme

Food Classifications

What classifies a food as a fruit or vegetable?

A fruit, by definition, is “anything that grows on a plant and is the means by which that plant gets its seeds into the world.” Vegetables, on the other hand, “are any edible part of a plant including stems, leaves or roots.”

The difference, then, are the seeds. Cut open an apple and there are the seeds. The flesh of the apple is a container for them. Cut open a potato and there are no seeds.

The following foods are commonly thought of and consumed as vegetables, when botanically, they are fruits.

Tomatoes

Although we all learned as kids that tomatoes are a fruit, that fact has long been debated.

Back in 1893 a case even went before the Supreme Court to determine which the tomato was. A Manhattan food seller argued that he should not pay a vegetable tariff on imported tomatoes, since they were a fruit and not a vegetable. The tariff fees for fruits were much lower. He lost the case when the court ruled that people prepared and ate tomatoes like a vegetable, not a fruit. The court added that tomatoes, like vegetables, are primarily served as part of the dinner’s main course while fruits, generally, are considered dessert.

Verdict: tomatoes are a fruit most often served as a vegetable.

Is It a Fruit tomatoes
Is is a fruit – tomatoes

Pumpkins

If you’ve ever cut into a pumpkin, to cook one or to create a jack-o-lantern, you’ve seen the seeds. Pumpkins, and all gourds, are fruits. Another common characteristic of fruits is that they begin as a flower. The flowers require pollination and then follows growth, development and ripening of the fruit.

Is It a Fruit pumpkins
Is it a fruit – pumpkins

Peppers

Peppers, from the sweet bell pepper to the spicy jalapeno, are produced on a flowering plant and contain seeds. They are fruits.

Is It a Fruit peppers
Are peppers a fruit or vegetable?

Cucumbers

This easily grown plant is a member of the gourd family, like pumpkins. Their vines produce flowers and the cucumber contains seeds. It is a fruit.

Is It a Fruit cucumber
Is it a fruit – cucumber

Zucchini

This summer squash is also a member of the gourd family, making it a fruit as well. Yellow squash falls into the same category as do winter squashes such as butternut and acorn.

Is It a Fruit zucchini
Is zucchini a fruit?

Eggplant

It surprises some to learn that eggplants are actually considered berries! And that places eggplants in the fruit category.

Is It a Fruit eggplant
Is it a fruit – eggplant

Avocado

The avocado, a primary ingredient in guacamole, is a single seeded berry, not a vegetable. And like berries, avocadoes do well in desserts such as chocolate mousse or as a fat replacement in baked goods.

Is It a Fruit avocado
Is  the avocado a fruit or vegetable?

Peas

Technically, peas are not a vegetable and they aren’t the fruit either. The pods the peas form in are the fruits and the peas are the seeds. Categorically, peas are in the fruit family.

Is It a Fruit peas
Is it a fruit – peas

Green Beans

Similar to peas, the green bean is the pod holding the seeds, making them fruit. In this case, we eat the pod and the seeds.

Is It a Fruit green beans
Are green beans a fruit?

Beans

Beans are a member of the legume family, like peas. They are the seeds tucked within pods, making them fruit. Typically we “shuck” the beans out of the pods and eat them that way.

Is It a Fruit beans
Is it a fruit – beans

Okra

Okra pods are also the fruit, with the seeds contained within. However, we eat the whole fruit, pod and seeds. Okra, excellent fried or in stews and gumbos, is a member of the mallow family.

Is It a Fruit okra
Is okra a fruit?

Olives

Olives grow on trees and they are categorized as fruits. Specifically, they are stone fruits like peaches, mangoes and dates.

Is It a Fruit olives
Is it a fruit – olives

Rhubarb

The only instance I could find of a vegetable mistaken for a fruit is the rhubarb plant. This perennial, often baked into pies due to its sweet flavor, is technically a vegetable. This is because only the plant’s stems are edible.

Rhubarb
It’s NOT a fruit – rhubarb

There Are More Fruits Than I Realized

As I researched fruits and vegetables, I discovered there are more fruits than I realized! This proved good news for my “only eat fruit” day. My options expanded beyond apples, bananas and blueberries.

And while I ate plenty of the usual fruits on that day, I brought in fruits disguised as vegetables. For lunch I enjoyed a healthy and delicious orange, avocado, green olive salad with Thai chili pickles…cucumbers.

Are you surprised to learn that some of your favorite vegetables are actually fruits? Which one surprised you the most?

Fruit Salad
Fruit salad

 


 

 

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Seven Superfood Mushrooms

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Four and a half years ago, new to the plant based lifestyle, some of the first superfoods that I wholeheartedly embraced were mushrooms. Most mushrooms provide high levels of fiber, nutrients and antioxidants. Adding them to meals and drinks boosts health in many ways.

Among mushrooms one group in particular earns the title of “superfood”. These fungi, labeled medicinal mushrooms, take health benefits to a much higher level.

Check out these seven superfood mushrooms and learn why they are so important to health.

Seven Superfood Mushrooms title meme

The Power of Medicinal Mushrooms

In the east, people have used medicinal mushrooms for centuries. Dried and taken in powdered form, these superfoods provide a host of benefits. Those remarkable properties drew attention to medicinal mushrooms from other regions in the world.

Medicinal mushrooms are still relatively new to western medicine and they don’t cure everything. However their benefits, including boosts to the immune system and the prevention of diseases, helped these mushrooms gain popularity in recent years. And for clarity, these are not hallucination inducing or mind altering mushrooms, these provide powerful benefits for health and wellness.

Seven Superfood Mushrooms

Each mushroom is unique and provides its own health benefits.

Reishi

Reishi tops the list of popular medicinal mushrooms, and for good reason. This mushroom’s unique property is its calming effect on the body. Reishi contains the compound triterpene, which positively impacts the nervous system. This mood boosting compound relieves anxiety, alleviates depression and promotes better sleep.

Reishi also helps the body heal and sharpens focus as well.

Add a spoonful of reishi mushroom powder to smoothies and soups, create a soothing hot tea or stir into a cup of hot cocoa. Chocolate and reishi seem to pair well together. Four Sigmatic offers wonderful hot cocoa mixes that contain reishi. It makes an excellent nighttime drink for a wonderful night’s sleep.

Check out Four Sigmatic’s hot cocoa with reishi HERE. If you place an order, use my discount code CINDYLAUDERDALEMOORE to save 10%.

Seven Superfood Mushrooms reishi
Seven Superfood Mushrooms – reishi

Lion’s Mane

Lion’s mane brings mental clarity, naturally. Packed with antioxidants and nutrients, lion’s mane strengthens the immune system. However, its real superpower is fostering the production of bioprotein nerve growth factor (NGF) and myelin, the insulation around nerves.

Both NGF and myelin are vital to brain health. An imbalance of either can create neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis. Lion’s mane also improves cognition and memory and increases the ability to concentrate. Additionally, this superfood mushroom alleviates anxiety and soothes irritability.

To boost brain power, try these Four Sigmatic focus products with lion’s mane: ground coffee, instant coffee, coffee latte mix, elixir mix, matcha latte mix or their focus shots and mixes.

I also highly recommend Nature Byte’s Lion’s Mane capsules.

Seven Superfood Mushrooms lions mane
Seven Superfoods Mushrooms – lion’s mane

Chaga

Chaga is the first superfood mushroom powder that I tried. It makes a great coffee substitute or simply add a spoonful to smoothies. As with all the superfood mushroom products, the dried fungi doesn’t have a “mushroomy” taste, making it easy to add the powders to almost any food or drink.

Chaga contains extremely powerful antioxidants that fight the free radicals that age the body and cause disease. This black mushroom eases inflammation, combats oxidative stress that ages skin and prevents or slows the growth of cancer cells. It also lowers bad cholesterol.

Try adding Four Sigmatic’s defend products to your diet: mushroom blend mix, ground coffee, instant coffee with chaga, elixir mix with chaga, plant based protein powder and immune support shots with chaga.

I also highly recommend Maine Chaga Powder from Amazon.

Seven Superfood Mushrooms chaga
Seven Superfood Mushrooms – chaga

Cordyceps

Need a pre-workout boost or feeling low energy? Cordyceps is the perfect superfood mushroom for you. This fungus helps the body use oxygen more efficiently while enhancing blood flow.

Cordyceps helps athletes perform better. And it helps the rest of us too, as we exercise, plus it speeds up muscle recovery after working out. And when that midafternoon slump hits, drink a cordyceps tea for an instant pick me up.

Add a spoonful of cordyceps to a post workout drink or meal. Or try Four Sigmatic’s performance blends: cocoa mix with cordyceps, elixir blend with cordyceps and instant coffee with cordyceps.

Seven Superfood Mushrooms cordyceps
Seven Superfood Mushrooms – cordyceps

Turkey Tail

Most superfood mushrooms offer anti-cancer properties because of their high antioxidant content. However, turkey tail takes it up a notch.

This interesting fungus contains a compound called polysaccharide-K (PSK) that stimulates the immune system. Turkey tail improves the survival rate of those with cancer, fights leukemia cells and boosts the immune system for those receiving chemotherapy. This mushroom is so powerful that it’s an approved anti-cancer prescription drug in Japan.

Pick up golden latte with turkey tail or chai latte with turkey tail from Four Sigmatic.

I also recommend turkey tail powder from Amazon.

Seven Superfood Mushrooms turkey tail
Seven Superfood Mushrooms – turkey tail

Shiitake

These mushrooms provide benefits for the heart. They lower bad cholesterol while inhibiting the production and absorption of cholesterol in the liver. Shiitake mushrooms also prevent the build up of plaque and help maintain healthy blood pressure and circulation.

Use dried shiitake powder in any food or drink recipe. Or add the mushrooms to stir fries and other dishes.

Try this shiitake powder.

Seven Superfood Mushrooms shiitake
Seven Superfood Mushrooms – shiitake

Maitake

Maitake, the Japanese word for “dancing mushroom”, helps support healthy blood sugar levels in the body. It also boosts the immune system and provides essential vitamins and minerals including copper, potassium and vitamins B and C.

Add a spoonful of powdered maitake to soups, sauces and pasta dishes.

Click HERE to try maitake mushroom powder.

Seven Superfood Mushrooms maitake
Seven Superfood Mushrooms – maitake

Which of These Seven Superfood Mushrooms Will You Try?

Which of these superfood mushrooms will you try first? It truly is easy to add a spoonful to teas, coffees, drinks, smoothies or recipes, or to use one of the Four Sigmatics blends. And the health benefits are amazing.

A spoonful…or two…each day of any of these superfood mushrooms is all that you need to begin enjoying greater health and vitality and protection against aging and diseases.

I most often added a spoonful of powdered mushrooms to smoothies, that is until I discovered the cocoa mixes from Four Sigmatic. Now I love sipping on a cup of hot cocoa with reishi in the evenings or savoring a cup of chai latte with turkey tail in the afternoons. It’s such a yummy way to get my mushrooms!

Seven Superfood Mushrooms hot cocoa
Four Sigmatic hot cocoa with mushrooms

 

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Vegan Egg Nog

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There’s something about the holiday season that triggers my desire for a good cup of egg nog. During my childhood, my mother served us her homemade egg nog around Christmas time, alcohol free of course. I seem to carry a timed memory of that delicious drink and when December arrives, that desire for egg nog returns.

As an adult, I’ve enjoyed simple egg nogs made by combining the store bought drink with a splash of rum. However, since choosing the plant based lifestyle four and a half years ago, I’ve not known how to satisfy that longing for the holiday drink.

I’ve tried several non-dairy, egg free “nogs” however none of them really came close to matching the drink from my memories. That is, until this year. I’ve finally found a vegan egg nog that tastes like egg nog! Check it out.

Vegan Egg Nog title meme

What is Egg Nog Anyway?

Traditional egg nog (also spelled eggnog) originated from England. Historically it is a rich, creamy, dairy based drink that contains milk, cream, sugar, nutmeg, whipped egg whites and egg yolks. Brandy, rum, whisky or bourbon are often added to the drink.

Considered a holiday drink, egg nog is consumed from the end of October until the new year. Venezuela and Trinidad enjoy a variation of the drink called Ponche Crema.

The British originally called the drink egg flip, from the practice of rapidly flipping the drink mixture between two pitchers. The term egg nog is actually American, coined in the mid 1700s. It’s a combination of two colonial slang words. Rum was referred to as grog and the drink was served in wooden mugs called noggins. A nog is also a strong ale, so it’s possible that’s where the “nog” derives from.

Vegan Egg Nog ready to drink
Vegan Egg Nog – ready to drink in minutes

Vegan Egg Nog Recipe

This dairy free, egg free, refined sugar free nog is rich, creamy and ready in minutes without cooking.

This recipe is adapted from one I found at Connoisseurus Veg.

Vegan Egg Nog ready to drink

Vegan Egg Nog

Rich and creamy, this nog is dairy and egg free.
Prep Time 5 mins
Total Time 5 mins
Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup unsweetened dairy free milk such as almond milk
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 over ripe banana
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • pinch sea salt
  • splash of rum, brandy or whisky per serving optional
  • dollop non dairy coconut whipped topping per serving

Instructions
 

  • Combine all ingredients except rum, brandy or whisky and coconut whipped topping in a blender. Blend on high speed until drink is well mixed, thick and creamy.
  • Pour nog into mugs. Add a splash of rum, brandy or whisky to each mug. Add more to taste or omit if desired. Top with a dollop of coconut whipped topping. Sprinkle with nutmeg.
    Makes four servings. Store leftovers in refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Keyword Egg Nog, Vegan
Vegan Egg Nog with coconut whipped topping
Vegan Egg Nog – add coconut whipped topping if desired and a sprinkle of nutmet

The Taste Test

This is the BEST vegan egg nog I’ve tried. I love it. Truly, the drink is smooth, creamy and closely matches the memory I carry of the egg nog from my childhood. The banana adds creaminess and thickens the nog perfectly. And the canned unsweetened coconut milk adds richness. If desired, substitute canned low fat coconut milk however make sure you use the canned milk and not coconut milk from a carton.

I add a splash of rum to my egg nog. It tastes great without it though so omit the alcohol if you want.

I drank a delicious mug full of vegan egg nog and saved the rest of the mixture in the refrigerator. Over the next three days, I enjoyed three more mugs of egg nog, one each evening.

Do you enjoy this traditional drink? If you are looking for a plant based version, give this wonderful vegan egg nog a try during the Christmas season.

Vegan Egg Nog memories
Vegan Egg Nog – this delicious drink reminds me of my childhood

Pick up these nog ingredients from Amazon

 


 

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Healthiest Root Vegetables

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December is Root Vegetables AND Exotic Fruits Month. That’s quite a culinary combo! Creative writer that I am, I choose to separate the two so as to create more than one blog post.

I begin with root vegetables. After the fall harvest, winter is the perfect time to enjoy these hearty staple foods. They provide complex carbs and fiber and contain essential vitamins and minerals. Some also offer powerful antioxidants that slow aging and even protect against cancer.

Add these healthiest root vegetables to your diet, for the amazing benefits.

Healthiest Root Vegetables title meme

What Are Root Vegetables?

Root vegetables, also known as starch vegetables and tubers, are veggies that grow underground. They are defined as the enlarged edible root of the plant. Root vegetables long served as diet staples in South American and Asian diets. Sweet potatoes were an important food 5000 years ago. They nourished populations through times of scarcity.

Root vegetables are still considered  important crops that not only feed the body but ground it as well. Check out these healthiest root vegetables and select some to include with your meals this week.

Sweet Potatoes

These colorful root vegetables provide many nutrients and health benefits.

Sweet potatoes contain vitamins A and C, manganese and fiber. They are rich with the antioxidants beta-carotene, chlorogenic acid and anthocyanins that help protect against skin cancer.

These jewels of the root vegetable family improve immune function, balance blood sugar and promote healthy gut bacteria while starving out unproductive bacteria and mold. This double action helps the body create more vitamin B12. And, according to Anthony William, author of the Medical Medium books, sweet potatoes rid the body of excess estrogen that interferes with hormonal balance.

Enjoy sweet potatoes baked, boiled, roasted, juiced or raw as spiralized noodles.

Healthiest Root Vegetables sweet potatoes
Healthiest root vegetables – sweet potatoes

Onions

Onions rank high on the root vegetable list. So many recipes call for a chopped onion.

This basic veggie is high in fiber, vitamin C, zinc, manganese, iodine, selenium, sulfur compounds and antioxidants.

Onions help prevent bacterial overgrowth in the intestinal tract. They rid the body of radiation, viruses, DDT and other pesticides and heavy metals. And the sulfur in onions alleviates joint pain, repairs tendons and connective tissue and slows iron loss. Onions also repair lung damage and fight colds and flus that cause bronchitis.

Add onions to many recipes including stir fries, casseroles, soups, rice and pasta dishes, stuff them and bake them or serve raw in salads and veggie bowls.

Healthiest Root Vegetables onions
Healthiest root vegetables – onions

Garlic

Garlic is closely related to the onion and it’s another root vegetable that is used in many recipes and dishes.

This veggie provides important nutrients including vitamins B6 and C and manganese. Plus the compound allicin, released when garlic is crushed, has medicinal properties that help prevent diseases.

Garlic is antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal and anti-parasitic. It kills off unproductive gut bacteria, fights colds, flus, strep throat, pneumonia causing bacteria and viral related cancers. It also pulls heavy metals from the body and boosts the immune system.

Add minced garlic to a variety of dishes, from stir fries to soups to pasta or add to roasted vegetables.

Healthiest Root Vegetables garlic
Healthiest root vegetables – garlic

Turnips

Cultivated for centuries, this root vegetable seems plain yet it possesses an impressive nutrient profile.

Turnips provide vitamin C, fiber, manganese and potassium.

Getting more vitamin C boosts immunity and reduces the symptoms of respiratory infections. Plus turnips lower the risk of stomach, breast, colorectal and lung cancers.

Use turnips in place of potatoes. They are excellent boiled and mashed, cubed and roasted or cut into fries. Or enjoy them with other root vegetables in a veggie bowl.

Healthiest Root Vegetables turnip
Healthiest root vegetables – turnip

Beets

Deeply colored beets are one of the most nutritious of root vegetables.

The veggie contains vitamins B6 and C, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, iron and manganese. They rank high in nitrates, beneficial plant compounds that help dilate blood vessels. This action lowers blood pressure and improves heart health. Beets also improve exercise performance and increase blood flow to the brain. Studies show that beets may even slow the growth and spread of cancer cells.

Try boiling, steaming, pickling, roasting or juicing this powerful root vegetable.

Healthiest Root Vegetables beets
Healthiest Root Vegetables – beets

Radishes

These tiny root veggies pack a lot of nutrition and health benefits.

Radishes provide vitamin C, sulfides and fiber.

This root vegetable supports the immune system. And the sulfur kills off parasites, cleanses arteries and veins, prevents heart disease and raises good cholesterol while lowering the bad. The skin of the radish fights virtually all types of cancer while also restoring the kidneys, liver, pancreas and spleen.

Add these crunchy veggies to salads and slaws. Eat them as a snack. Or try adding them to stir fries.

Healthiest Root Vegetables radishes
Healthiest Root Vegetables – radishes

Carrots

This well known veggie is also high on the list of most nutritious root vegetables.

Carrots offer high amounts of vitamins A and K and they provide the important antioxidant beta-carotene.

Adding carrots to the diet lowers cholesterol levels and protects the eyes against age related macular degeneration. Because of the beta-carotene, carrots lower the risk of certain cancers including breast, prostate, and stomach.

Roast, boil or steam carrots. Add them to salads, stir fries and other vegetables dishes. Include in soups or eat them raw as an extremely healthy snack.

Healthiest Root Vegetables carrots
Healthiest Root Vegetables – carrots

Celeriac

Also called celery root, this versatile root vegetable is highly nutritious.

Celery and celeriac are basically the same plant, however celeriac is cultivated for its bulbous root rather than for the stalks. Both taste like celery although some find celeriac more robust with a slight nutty flavor.

Celeriac contains high levels of vitamins C and K and phosphorous.

Vitamin K is essential for proper blood clotting and vital for healthy bones.

Boil, roast, bake or mash celeriac. Or add it raw to salads.

Healthiest Root Vegetables celeriac
Healthiest root vegetables – celeriac

Rutabagas

This root vegetable belongs to the mustard family.

Rutabagas supply vitamin C, potassium, manganese and antioxidants. They also provide fiber that supports the digestive system and lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels. And like several other root veggies, they contain sulfur compounds that protect against cancer cell formation and growth.

Rutabagas taste like a cross between a turnip and cabbage. One person described them as tasting like Yukon Gold potatoes…with a lot of attitude!

Boil and mash them, bake or roast them. Or add rutabagas to soups or salads.

Healthiest Root Vegetables rutabaga
Healthiest Root Vegetable – rutabaga

Potatoes

The most versatile and readily available root vegetable, potatoes come in 2000 different varieties and grow in 160 countries around the world.

The potato delivers fiber, vitamins B6 and C, potassium and manganese. Plus they provide an important amino acid, lysine. Lysine protects against cancer, liver disease, inflammation and viruses such as Epstein Barr and shingles. Additionally, potatoes strengthen the kidneys and soothe the digestive tract.

Try potatoes baked, boiled, mashed or steamed. Make healthy potato salad. Cut them into wedges or cubes, season with spices and roast in the oven. Create a veggie bowl featuring roasted or mashed potatoes.

Healthiest Root Vegetables potatoes
Healthiest Root Vegetables – potatoes

Create Health with Root Vegetables

Try adding a serving or two of root vegetables to daily meals, to reap the benefits of these nutritious, grounding veggies. Combine with other vegetables or make up a big pot of root vegetable soup.

Practicing a plant based lifestyle, root veggies form the foundation of my diet. Creating this post, however, I realized I’ve never eaten celeriac or rutabaga. I’ve seen both in the produce section of Natural Grocers. I’m excited to experience both in the near future.

What is your favorite root vegetable?

Healthiest Root Vegetables

I Highly Recommend Anthony’s Books

Anthony William’s books are my go to source for health information.

 


 

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 Diabetes Naturally

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

November is National Diabetes Month. The purpose is to bring awareness and attention to diabetes, including ways to prevent it. For the millions who are at risk, this month is a time to learn and find resources.

Currently, 30 million adults age 18 and older live with diabetes. And 84 million are at risk for developing the disease. Additionally, those who are prediabetic are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and strokes.

I’m happy to contribute by presenting ways to prevent diabetes naturally.

Prevent Diabetes Naturally title meme

Preventing Diabetes Naturally

Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed through lifestyle changes that promote weight loss and increase exercise and healthy eating. And this shift is extremely important. Uncontrolled diabetes may cause blindness, kidney failure and other serious complications that can require limb amputation.

These action steps help prevent diabetes.

Cut Sugar from the Diet

Let’s start with the one people consider the toughest. And I know it’s not easy, however there’s a reason for that. Sugar is addictive and it has a toxic effect on the body.

Eating sugary foods puts us at risk for developing diabetes. When we eat sugar the body breaks it down into smaller molecules that enter the blood stream, resulting in a rise in blood sugar. That rise stimulates the pancreas to produce insulin to help get the sugar out of the bloodstream and into cells.

For those with prediabetes, the cells resist insulin so the sugar remains at a high level in the bloodstream. As a result, the pancreas creates more insulin to attempt to bring sugar levels down. Eventually those high sugar and insulin levels cause type 2 diabetes.

What’s the solution? Avoid foods with refined sugar and carbs. Refined carbs include sugars and grains stripped of fiber and nutrients such as white bread, pizza dough, pasta, white flour, sweet desserts and many breakfast cereals.

Prevent Diabetes Naturally cut sugar
Prevent Diabetes Naturally – cut sugar

Drink More Water

Water is the best drink for the body. We need water, for the body to function properly. And drinking water as the primary beverage helps us avoid sugary soft drinks.

Soft drinks greatly increase the risk of both type 2 diabetes and a form of type 1 diabetes called latent autoimmune diabetes of adults (LADA). The startling facts are, those who consume more than two soft drinks a day have a 99% increased risk of developing LADA and a 20% increased risk for type 2 diabetes.

Studies show that artificially sweetened soft drinks do not prevent diabetes so those are not a good alternative.

Drinking more water leads to better blood sugar levels and insulin response. And those who replace sodas with water while eating healthier decrease insulin resistance.

Prevent Diabetes Naturally - water
Prevent Diabetes Naturally – drink more water

Manage Weight

Although not everyone who develops type 2 diabetes is overweight, most are. And those with prediabetes tend to carry excess weight in the belly area and around organs such as the liver.

This visceral fat causes inflammation and insulin resistance which greatly increases the risk of diabetes.

Losing weight and keeping it off decreases sugar and insulin levels.

Reducing sugar intake is a great start. While eating more fruits and vegetables helps the body shed excess weight. Strive for filling half your plate with fruits and veggies. And eating smaller portions is helpful too. Eating too much at meals causes blood sugar and insulin levels to spike.

Prevent Diabetes Naturally weight management
Prevent Diabetes Naturally – weight management

Eat a High Fiber Diet

Another way to manage weight and help prevent diabetes is to include more fiber in the diet. Fiber can be soluble or insoluble. Soluble fiber absorbs water in the digestive track, forming a gel. This gel slows down the absorption rate of food leading to a more gradual rise in blood sugar levels.

Including high fiber foods throughout the day helps to reduce the risk of diabetes. Good high fiber foods to add: pears, berries, avocados, apples, bananas, carrots, beets, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, dark leafy greens, lentils, tomatoes, legumes, quinoa, oats, nuts, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sweet potatoes and surprisingly, dark chocolate (choose chocolate with a 70% or higher level of cocoa).

Most plant based foods contain fiber, so increasing fruits and vegetables is a great choice.

Prevent Diabetes Naturally eat fiber
Prevent Diabetes Naturally – eat more fiber

Vitamin D

This important vitamin helps control blood sugar levels. Most people have a vitamin D deficiency. And not getting enough raises the risk for all types of diabetes.

Studies show that when we take vitamin D supplements, or get at least 10 minutes of sunlight a day, insulin production improves, blood sugar levels stabilize and the risk of developing diabetes reduces dramatically.

If you aren’t able to get sunlight every day, supplementing with 2,000 – 4,000 IU of vitamin D helps prevent a deficiency. Read about the other benefits of vitamin D HERE.

Bonus supplement: turmeric is helpful due to its main ingredient, curcumin. Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce inflammation markers and decrease insulin resistance.

Prevent Diabetes Naturally vitamin D
Prevent Diabetes Naturally with vitamin D

Drink Tea and Coffee

While water is important as the primary beverage, drinking tea and coffee reduces the risk for diabetes as well. Just don’t add sugar to them! Tea and coffee are rich in antioxidants called polyphenols that help protect against diabetes.

Green tea is especially beneficial. It contains a unique antioxidant that reduces blood sugar release from the liver and lowers insulin sensitivity.

Try this Turmeric Green Tea recipe for a powerful way to get those antioxidants.

Prevent Diabetes Naturally drink tea
Drink green tea or coffee to help prevent diabetes naturally.

Exercise Regularly

There is a strong link between the sedentary lifestyle and an increased risk of diabetes. If you sit most of the day and get little or no physical exercise then you have a 91% increased risk of developing diabetes.

Begin the shift to a more active lifestyle by standing frequently if you sit most of the day. Take a break every hour and walk around for five minutes. Stretch. Then move into more physical activities.

Try aerobic exercise, walking, strength training, swimming, dancing, high intensity interval training or biking. Find something you enjoy to increase the likelihood that you’ll stick with it.

Physical activity reduces insulin resistance and lowers blood sugar levels. It helps with weigh loss and management. Strive for 30 minutes of exercise a day.

Prevent Diabetes Naturally exercise
Prevent Diabetes Naturally – exercise

The Choice is Ours

Rather than waiting for illness to strike, we can make choices now that help prevent diseases such as diabetes and enjoy greater health and vitality.

These steps not only help to prevent diabetes naturally, they ensure better health and wellness overall.

Which steps will you adopt today for a healthier tomorrow?

Prevent Diabetes Naturally healthy meal
Healthy meal of mashed avocado on gluten free ancient grains bread, blueberries and mandarin oranges.

 


 

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.

 

Easy No Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

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

October 14 is National Dessert Day. This unique holiday celebrates indulging in the sweets. For many people, dessert is the best part of the meal. Over the years, sweet after dinner treats transformed from simple candied fruits and nuts to more elaborate concoctions. Today anything from store bought cookies to made from scratch pastries to a fancy mousse tower qualifies as dessert.

To participate in this special day, celebrants are encouraged to enjoy a sweet treat.

I decided to seize the opportunity to make a vegan, gluten free treat that didn’t require a lot of prep time.

I found this delightfully simple dessert on Pinterest. Check out the original recipe HERE. With a couple of slight alterations, I made these easy no bake peanut butter chocolate bars in minutes.

Check out my contribution to National Dessert Day!

Easy No Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars title meme

Easy No Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

This quick and easy recipe is perfect for an occasional snack. Using just six ingredients, these bars are vegan, gluten free, refined sugar free and dairy free. And the ingredients are common, in my kitchen. I typically have them on hand.

The peanut butter base combines pure maple syrup, gluten free flour, vanilla and creamy peanut butter. I use a sugar free peanut butter, Crazy Richard’s 100% Peanuts. It’s found in the jelly section at Wal-Mart and health conscious grocery stores.

Any gluten free flour will work. I normally use gluten free oat flour. However, I happened to have on hand a one-for-one gluten free flour so I used that. This brand is Cup4Cup Multipurpose Flour gluten free. A cup of this four replaces a cup of regular flour.

And pure maple syrup makes an excellent substitute for sugar. Tonight I used the Natural Grocer’s house brand.

The topping is unsweetened cocoa powder, coconut oil and pure maple syrup.

Easy No Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars mixing
Two bowls and six ingredients for easy no bake peanut butter chocolate bars.
Easy No Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

Easy No Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

Vegan, gluten free, refined sugar free and dairy free simple dessert.
Prep Time 10 mins
Total Time 25 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12 bars

Ingredients
  

  • 1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter I used no sugar added
  • 1 cup gluten free flour such as oat
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla

Chocolate Topping

  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

Instructions
 

  • Line a square pan with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl combine peanut butter, gluten free flour, pure maple syrup and vanilla, stirring until smooth. Press into prepared pan.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together cocoa powder, pure maple syrup and melted coconut oil. Pour topping over peanut butter base, smoothing with a knife.
  • Chill in freezer for 15 minutes to set. Score and cut with a knife. Store left overs in a covered container in the refrigerator. Makes 12 - 16 bars.
Keyword Bars, Chocolate, Gluten Free, No Bake, Peanut Butter, Vegan
Easy No Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars
Easy No Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars ready to go into the freezer.

The Taste Test

These bars took 10 minutes to prep. I popped them into the freezer and then prepared dinner. So easy!

After dinner, while a cup of peppermint tea steeped, I cut bars to sample. This simple recipe yields a delicious dessert, perfect with my cup of hot tea.

The bars have the consistency of fudge and they are just as rich. One bar satisfies completely. I enjoyed celebrating National Dessert Day with a wonderful treat that does not include guilt or unwanted foods.

I don’t indulge in dessert often. When I do, this is exactly what I want, a simple treat without sugar, dairy, gluten and eggs.

I won’t wait until next October and National Dessert Day, to make these easy no bake peanut butter chocolate bars again!

Do you have a favorite dessert?

Easy No Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars tea time
Easy no bake peanut butter bars perfectly complement a cup of peppermint tea.

Try These Other Vegan Desserts:

Vegan Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Raw Wild Blueberry Pie

Vegan Gingerbread


 

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.

Seven Ways to Practice Active Aging

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

October 5 – 11, 2020 is designated as Active Aging Week this year. Celebrating the benefits of active living at any age, Active Aging Week showcases the capabilities of older adults as fully participating members of society.

Initiated in 2003 by the International Council on Active Aging, this week long celebration shows that adults age 50 and over can live fully in all areas of life. Active Aging Week promotes wellness activities and exercise plus healthier, more robust lifestyles.

This initiative is dear to me as the purpose of Journey With Healthy Me is to encourage others to experience health at every age. We do not need to consider ourselves shelved when we pass that 50 year mark. As we enter this golden season, our quality of life is greatly dependent on our daily health practices and our attitudes about aging.

At age 62, I’ve discovered that health and well being are very possible during my “senior” years. In fact, I feel more healthy than I have in many years.

Take a look at these seven ways to practice active aging, in recognition of this week AND to increase quality of life and overall wellness.

Seven Ways to Practice Active Aging title meme

It’s Never Too Late to Improve Health

Four plus years ago, I embraced a plant based lifestyle, primary for health reasons. The results were so astounding that my mother and Greg decided to join me in eating a different way.

At the time, in my late 50s, I’d experienced decades of chronic, constant inflammation and pain along with a host of other disorders. My mother also dealt with a variety of moderate to severe health issues while Greg suffered from minor to moderate ailments. We all discovered that it is never too late to improve health and wellness.

I went from using a cane and facing the prospect of requiring a wheelchair to becoming pain and inflammation free and walking unassisted. Mom and Greg experienced improvements in all of their health conditions. The lesson we learned is that changes in diet and activities bring about huge changes in the body.

Practicing active aging goes beyond exercise. It is a proactive way of living and in reality, a way of life.

Seven Ways to Practice Active Aging have fun
Who says adults over age 50 can’t have fun? Last year’s Halloween party.

Seven Ways to Practice Active Aging

Incorporate these practices into your life to create a healthier quality of life.

Engage With Others

It is important to connect frequently with others, especially as we age. Older adults who socialize enjoy better health and quality of life. Lack of connection with others can cause sleep disorders, raised blood pressure and increase the chance of premature death. Loneliness and isolation may bring on depression and anxiety. During this year of social distancing it is even more vital that older adults connect with loved ones and friends via phone calls, zoom meetings and messaging.

Seven Ways to Practice Active Aging engage
Seven ways to practice active aging – engage. When you can’t be close, stay connected in other ways. My sister and I with Mom.

Eat a Nutrient Rich Diet & Maintain a Healthy Weight

People require fewer calories as they age, however, they need more nutrients. Increase those nutrients by adding more fruits and veggies to the diet. Doing so helps prevent diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.

A highly nutritious diet also maintains a healthy weight which lessens the risk for disability later in life. Obesity worsens arthritis and raises the risks of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and sleep related breathing disorders.

As part of a healthy lifestyle, limit alcohol, processed foods and sugar (which increases inflammation). And don’t smoke. Smoking damages the lungs and increases the risks for heart disease, strokes and various forms of cancer.

Seven Ways to Practice Active Aging eat healthy
Eating healthy to maintain weight is one of seven ways to practice active aging.

Have a Positive Attitude About Aging

A Yale University study found that older adults who had positive attitudes about aging lived seven and a half years longer than those with negative attitudes. That’s a significant number of additional years to enjoy life! Rejecting negative stereotypes and beliefs, such as “As I get older, I am less useful” has a great impact on quality of life and longevity.

“Our study carries two messages,” the authors of the study said. “The discouraging one is that negative self perceptions can diminish life expectancy; the encouraging one is that positive self perceptions can prolong life expectancy.”

Older adults with positive attitudes are also 50% less likely to develop dementia.

Practice shifting negative beliefs about aging. Create positive affirmations to repeat daily such as, “I am enjoying life.” Or say “I am healthy and active.” and “I am grateful for my good health.”

If we say often enough, “I’m getting old and useless” then we believe it as truth. And the body listens to what the minds repetitively says.

Seven Ways to Practice Active Aging positive attitude
Seven ways to practice active aging – positive attitude. My sister and I enjoying life in London, England.

Active Lifestyle

According to a study shared in 2017, exercise and moving the body, for 30 minutes five days a week, reduces premature death by 25%. Choose from walking, yoga, stretching, gentle aerobics, dancing, household chores or gardening. Sports such as golf, swimming and tennis are excellent as well as long as joints are healthy and moving freely. And actively playing with grandchildren counts!

Exercise helps older adults maintain strength and mobility and lessens the risk of injuries. It also improves mood.

Seven Ways to Practice Active Aging exercise
Seven ways to practice active aging – exercise for 30 minutes a day

Get Enough Sleep

Older adults may not require as much sleep as they did when younger. However, the quality of sleep becomes important. Many seniors experience restless sleep or may wake up and find it difficult to go back to sleep. Sleep deprivation is linked to cardiovascular disease, inflammation and decreased immunity. Plus it causes fatigue.

Most experts agree that seven to nine hours of sleep is optimal. More importantly, regularly established sleep patterns are associated with longer life and greater well being.

Try creating bedtime routines that prepare the body for sleep such as limiting electronics, taking a warm bath, listening to soothing music, sleeping in a dark room and lowering the thermostat.

And napping for an hour in the afternoon improves memory and the ability to think clearly, while boosting energy. Don’t feel guilty for taking a nap! Shift that attitude and think of it as a reboot for the brain and body.

Seven Ways to Practice Active Aging sleep
Seven ways to practice active aging – sleep. Sometimes a nap sneaks up on you! Catching a nap on the train to London.

Manage Stress

Chronic stress results in higher risks for cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and decreased immune function. And stress accelerates cellular aging, creating inflammation throughout the body. Additionally, it decreases the ability to think clearly and lessens enjoyment of life.

Common causes of stress for older adults include financial strain, relationship difficulties, work related issues and care giving pressures. To reduce chronic stress improve sleep habits, exercise, eat a nutrient rich diet, meditate and try relaxation techniques. Keep a journal and use writing as a way to explore causes of stress and identify patterns. And finally, avoid people who stress you out and situations that increase anxiety. If the news creates stress, stop listening to the news.

Seven Ways to Practice Active Aging relax
Manage stress with relaxation and other techniques. My favorite way to relax…afternoon tea time.

Keep Learning

This is my favorite active aging practice. Experiencing and learning new things stimulates the brain. And that mental exercise is just as important as physical exercise. Daily learning and trying new things sharpens the mind, boosts memory and concentration and lowers the risk of dementia. Plus, in my experience, it’s a fun way to engage with life and find tremendous enjoyment.

Learn a new language, hobby or skill. Travel to places you’ve never visited before, even if it’s in your own city. Create a new recipe. Listen to a new genre of music. Truly, the possibilities for new experiences are endless.

Last year, at ages 61 and 79 respectively, my mother and I did our first ever photo shoot for a national magazine! What a fun first experience for both of us.

Seven Ways to Practice Active Aging - try new things
Seven ways to practice active aging – try new things.

What Practices Will You Include?

Getting older doesn’t have to be a negative experience. These seven ways to practice active aging offer steps toward being healthy at EVERY age.

I am enjoying these beautiful years with health, energy and a passion for living life to the fullest as my most authentic self. One of my greatest joys, beyond spending time with my family, is continuing to learn and grow as I explore the world and try new experiences.

I’m not slowing down anytime soon.

Seven Ways to Practice Active Aging travel

Practice Active Aging with These Amazon Finds:

 


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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.