Spices to Live By

It’s time to give your spice rack a little love. Below I have listed some spices that boost overall health and wellness and will get you excited about flavoring your food while enhancing your overall body and brain function.

Cumin: Give you brain an extra boost -  Lab studies indicate that cumin’s anti-inflammatory properties can improve memory as well as lower stress. Add a little to your delicious homemade hummus or sprinkle it over pumpkin seeds before roasting.

Ginger: Ease Muscle Pain AND Improve Digestion - Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory, which helps reduce muscle pain. After an intense workout, add fresh ginger to your smoothie or vegetable sauté. Ginger has also long been touted as an excellent remedy for nausea.

Cinnamon: Support Strong Bones - You’ve probably heard that a dash of cinnamon can help balance blood sugar (this is true), but did you know that cinnamon also supports strong bones? The manganese found in cinnamon helps bones stay healthy and strong, so try sprinkling some in your smoothie, lemon water or morning fruit bowl to support a sturdy frame.

Cajun: Slim Down - The capsaicin found in red peppers and chilies helps boot your metabolism, encouraging the body to burn fat. Studies have also shown that people who add heat to their food have a tendency to eat less, helping maintain a healthy body weight. Experiment and add to veggies, soups and all meats.

Turmeric: Improve Mental and Physical Health - Turmeric helps alleviate arthritis and lower cholesterol. Its high concentration of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties also improves mental health as well as lowers the risk of certain cancers. Plus, it’s delicious added to almost anything. Sprinkle in eggs, smoothies, soups, veggies, grains and meat. Delicious!

Parsley: Improve Skin Tone - Parsley is a wonderful source of Vitamin K, which reduces inflammation in body, boosts the immune system and helps protect the body from cancer. In addition, parsley also contains high concentrations of vitamin C, which helps reduce scars and blemishes, plus it stimulates the production of collagen, helping your skin look younger and fresher. Add fresh parsley to smoothies, veggie sautes, omelets, or even make your own parsley tea.

Sage: Preserve memory and soothe a sore throat - If your stomach is feeling upset or your throat is sore, brewing some sage tea or investing in an herbal sage spray can bring immediate relief. Research also suggests the herb may improve some symptoms of early Alzheimer’s disease by preventing a key enzyme from destroying acetylcholine, a brain chemical involved in memory and learning. Add sage to soups, sauces and roasted sweet potatoes for a delicious, healthy treat.

The Skinny Science Behind Water

I thought it would be important to address something we all take for granted—water. Not only is water essential for life and keeping the body healthy, drinking water is proven to assist in weight loss, improve skin, reduce bloating, boost your metabolism, aids digestion, and much more. Most importantly, water is the body’s cleansing fluid. But it doesn’t stop there; water carries nutrients and oxygen, and protects your joints and organs. Conclusion: DRINK MORE WATER!

Dehydration is the root of many serious diseases and sadly, many people walk around each day dehydrated—without knowing it! Feeling fatigued? You are most likely dehydrated. Your blood is made up of 90% water. As your body becomes dehydrated, blood is the first place your body goes to for water. So, when your body takes water from your blood, your blood volume decreases and so does your energy! Conclusion: DRINK MORE WATER!

How does water help you lose weight? If you’re looking for a magic bullet to get your weight loss underway, there is no better strategy than to drink at least half your body weight in water-ounces everyday. Here’s why: Water is a natural appetite suppressor, and it helps the body metabolize fat. When the kidneys are not getting enough water and can’t function properly, the liver is called upon and takes on the role of eliminating toxins from our systems.  Normally, one of the liver’s big jobs is to metabolize stored fat into a usable form of energy. But when the liver is busy doing the kidney’s job, it is unavailable to metabolize stored fat. As more and more fat is stored in the body, there is zero chance for weight loss. Conclusion: DRINK MORE WATER!

As you are losing weight, your body will have more toxins and waste to get rid of. Increase your water intake at this point, and your body will eliminate wastes more efficiently by aiding digestion and boosting your metabolism, thereby helping you lose weight. In addition, removing the toxins from your body will also improve your skin’s health and allow for your skin to “glow!”

The truth is, many people just forget to drink water throughout the day. A tip that always give people is to carry a reusable water bottle with you wherever you go, and try to fill it up at least 3-4 times a day. Add an organic lemon, lime or a spring of mint as a natural way to spruce your water up.  

And finally… conclusion: DRINK MORE WATER!

Discover... Peach!

A life full of health & wellness does not entail just fitness, or just nutrition, or just a healthy mindset, it is a combination of all things which aim to better yourself, your health, and your life. With this, comes the challenge of developing a healthy mindset in all areas: food, fitness, and feelings. Fortunately, fashion plays a huge role in how women feel each day by contributing to our confidence, and therefore, success-- even if that success just means fitting in a workout, grocery store trip, and lunch with the girls into your jam-packed schedule!

There is not one woman out there that wouldn’t ask for an additional 3+ hours each day. However, this is, unfortunately, an impossible reality. But, an athleisure-wear company, better known as Peach, makes actual reality a little easier, and more fashionable. Peach harnesses the very thing every woman today is looking for: comfort, style, and confidence! By designing clothes which woman can put on in the morning and wear, comfortably and confidently, for the rest of the day, the company strives to elevate women’s every day-- yes, you CAN go from barre class to the bar and still wear a rocking outfit that fits the scene for both activities. Born in Boston, MA, Peach encompasses female entrepreneurship and focuses on improving women’s every day by understanding the reality that the majority of women don’t have time to worry about whether their outfit fits the scene.

As a wellness coach, I discovered Peach and quickly realized that confidence linked to fashion is a missing puzzle piece in many women’s lives. As I mentioned before, in order to create a life full of health & wellness, you must also focus on the health and wellness of your mind, specifically your confidence. One of my favorite sayings is: “if you are confident, you are beautiful.” Fortunately, the clothing line designed by Peach allows women to rock both their outfit and confidence, all-day, every day. Check out this awesome athleisure wear line https://www.discoverpeach.com/s/kikiw and get your Peach on! If you are looking for guidance in creating healthy habits that will allow you to feel and be your healthiest, get in touch with me at http://www.kikiwalkerwellness.com/. I work and live in Boston, but work virtually all over the country!

 

The Endless Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

There are a couple of products in this world that sit at the top of the totem pole for me and Apple Cider Vinegar is definitely one of them.  Remember how the father in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding” used Windex as the cure all – well my Windex is Apple Cider Vinegar. As far as I am concerned, there is not much it can’t do! It is the perfect go to product for almost any need, whether it be for your skin and/or hair, pet, aiding in digestion, or for keeping the house spic & span, ACV can do it all.

Why you ask is ACV so fantastic? First and foremost, it is a completely natural product.  The process of making apple cider vinegar goes like this: apple juice (from apples of course!) is fermented to hard apple cider, which is fermented a second time to apple cider vinegar. Now you may be saying, ‘I have heard fermented foods are good for me, but I’m not sure why?’ A fermented food is a food that has had its carbohydrates and sugars turned into alcohol or beneficial acids. Fermented foods, just like living foods, have living enzymes that your body needs for proper digestion, which ensures that your body makes full use of the food you consume.  

Below are the many ways that ACV can be added to your everyday!

HAIR:

Use ACV as a rinse in your hair after shampooing to add healthy body and shine! Mix a tablespoon or two in a glass of water and pour over your head at the end of your shower or bath. Make sure to rinse out well!

FACE:

ACV can assist in regulating the pH in your skin. It is important that we balance the pH in our skin because the pores of our skin are made up of a combination of oil and sweat glands which help to keep your skin healthy and elastic. Making sure the skin’s pH is in a healthy range will ensure even greater health for your skin.

Dilute 1 tbsp of ACV with a glass of water and use as a toner on your skin after washing your face at night. Also, apply in the morning before putting your daily moisturizer on and try dabbing a little on any darks spots and let soak in overnight!

DIABETES AND WEIGHT LOSS:

ACV lowers glucose levels, which can be helpful for someone that has diabetes. It is also known to help you feel fuller longer so it can aid in weight loss.  

PROMOTES ALKALINITY:

Even though ACV tastes acidic, it actually promotes alkalinity in your body. When bodies are in an alkaline state, we are able to fight off major diseases more effectively.  Studies have actually shown that cancer cannot live in an alkaline body.

CLEANING SPRAY:

Most household cleaning products are full of unwanted chemicals. Therefore, even if you do not realize it, you will end up ingesting the chemicals. For example, if it is on your countertop, your food is then exposed to the chemicals and subsequently ingested by you and your family. To prevent this, create your own cleaning spray! It’s as simple as this:

Pour ½ ACV and ½ water in a spray bottle and clean away! Your house will sparkle, smell fresh, and be chemical free!

SINUS AND ALLERGIES:

First of all, ACV does wonder for your immune system. Since it is rich in natural minerals, vitamins, and enzymes, apple cider vinegar is a detox-wonder. The unique acids in apple cider vinegar can bind to toxins and help the body eliminate them more effectively as well as aid in stimulating circulation and help detoxification in the liver. In addition, it also breaks up mucus throughout the body and cleanses the lymph nodes to allow for better lymph circulation. A healthy lymphatic system results in the removal of toxins from the cells in your body, while improving your immune system.

So, when you are feeling under the weather or allergies have gotten the best sinuses, dilute 2 tablespoons of ACV in a glass of water or hot tea, and enjoy!

SUNBURN RELIEF:

Of course, it is best to avoid too much sun exposure and a sunburn, but when it happens, dilute some ACV in water and pat the solution on your sunburn, or pour a cup into a cool bath!

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Believe it or not, I have other uses for Apple Cider Vinegar, but I think these will keep you busy for a bit! Have a happy & healthy day!

 

 

IF YOU CAN’T READ IT, DON’T EAT IT!

Happy National Nutrition month! You might not know it, but March officially holds the title of National Nutrition Month. Who knew such a month even existed? In 1973, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics started National Nutrition week, and due to high levels of interest, National Nutrition month was inaugurated in 1980. Although in my eyes, every month, every day, and every hour is the right time to recognize the importance of good nutrition.

A great place to start with improving your diet is to understand how to read food labels. Foods with more than one ingredient must have an ingredient list on the label. Ingredients are listed in descending order by weight, meaning those with the largest amounts are listed first. This information is particularly helpful to individuals with food sensitivities, those who wish to avoid pork or shellfish, those who are looking to limit added sugars, or anyone who is vegetarian or vegan.

In a perfect world, we would not eat packaged goods at all, only foods that are grown from the earth or have a mother, but I know I have to be realistic. I truly believe one of the biggest factors contributing to the health crisis in the United States is that consumers are unaware of what they are consuming. In my opinion, the Food and Drug Administration is not held to a high enough standard.

And why is the government agency tasked with keeping our food industry safe the same agency responsible for regulating drugs? Furthermore, the food industry spends billions of dollars on packaging, covering products with messages designed to sell products to the target market without telling the whole story.

Remember, any ingredient we consume that our bodies don’t recognize as real food will NOT be used as fuel. Junk food invites serious negative changes to our metabolism, and when eating a diet full of processed foods, muscles will lose the ability to oxidize glucose after a meal. This in turn can lead to insulin resistance down the road. Next time you pick up a packaged product immediately look at the label.  

Ask yourself, can I pronounce all the ingredients? Does this contain several ingredients that are derived from corn or soy? How many different kinds of vegetable oils does this contain? (most are made from corn/soy). Sugar, corn and soy derivatives are all major contributors to the growing obesity/health epidemic in the United States.

Aim to eat low amounts of saturated fat, trans fat, and sodium, and try to eat foods containing higher amounts of vitamins, minerals and fiber.Celebrate this month by working to break unhealthy habits and creating healthy ones! We have been given only one body to live in; it is our responsibility to take good care of it. There is no better time than now to start living healthy! As always, check out the rest of my website for some more tips on what to look for when shopping and healthy recipes to get you started.

Remember.  When your body is hungry, it wants nutrients, not calories. LESS IS BEST!

“The Doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition”- Thomas Edison.

 

 

Fit to Travel

Recently I have been traveling a bit more than normal. One too many connecting flights, which equals one too many airports.   Although I typically come prepared with enough healthy snacks to feed the entire airplane TRULY, I have paid close attention to the lack of healthy choices at the airport and what is offered on the plane.  One would think the cost of our airline tickets should include a three-course gourmet meal, but as we all know, this is not the case.  

Today I wanted to share some thoughts on how to continue to eat clean and stay true to your fit self while traveling. Just as you plan your meals for the week at home, you should plan as much as possible for your travels.  

Make sure you pack healthy snacks in your bag for the airplane or car.  If you are traveling with children, have them carry their own healthy snacks so they can dig in when seated and buckled in!  Also, taking the time to look ahead to where you are traveling to find out the healthiest options to eat out.  

Checking out menus ahead of time is a great way to ensure you will have good options at your destination.  Also, do not hold back on making suggestions to those you are traveling with! This actually is the perfect opportunity to share your passion for healthy living!  

Lastly, just because you are away from your gym, it’s not an excuse to not exercise.  You can access awesome workout videos on your phone or computer (if not, be sure to print a couple out before you travel) and/or bring gym equipment that is easy to pack in a suitcase!

Clean & Healthy Food

Purchase a soft cooler & an ice pack — bring in the car or on an airplane, this is the perfect way to eat clean -- refreeze the ice pack when you reach your destination for the trip home!!

  • Sweet Potato - bake the night before

  • Chopped veggies w/ hummus

  • Sliced Turkey or baked/grilled chicken breast in a zip lock

  • Brown rice cakes or crackers with hummus & sliced cucumbers & or a nut butter

  • Fruit; apples, clementine’s, grapes (fruit that won’t get mushy)

  • Trail mix – keep in mind portion control!

Quick & Easy Fitness

Interval workouts are your best bet!

Remember, if you don’t have any equipment, no excuse!  Use your own body strength & weight to get a good sweat going.

 

Equipment that travels

  • resistance tubing and ankle bands

  • jump rope

  • gliders (found at Amazon, Target, Wal-Mart)





 

Keep Calm

Most likely you have been given the advice to ‘find balance in your life,’ or to ‘decrease stress in your every day.’  Many of us hear this advice and think “Yeah right, try living a day in my shoes and explain to me how in the world I can remove some of this stress?”  Well, one way to begin this de-stressing journey starts with confirming that you have a sufficient amount of magnesium in your body.

 In order for our bodies to function properly, we require 6 essential minerals; magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, iodine, selenium.  Today we are focusing on magnesium, the one I refer to as the ‘calming mineral.’   Unfortunately, magnesium deficiency is one of the leading nutrient deficiencies in adults

 If you have low levels of magnesium it can cause irritability, headaches, muscle weakness, irregular heartbeats, muscle spasms or twitches, constipation, and insomnia.  Not only does magnesium help to maintain normal muscle and nerve function, but it also helps to keep your heart rhythm steady and support a healthy immune system.   This essential mineral has a calming effect on your entire nervous system.

 There are many ways to increase your intake of magnesium.  My favorite and one that forces you to spoil yourself a bit is to enjoy a warm (not hot) Epson salt bath.  These amazing salts have been around for hundreds of years, and are actually not even a salt, but a naturally occurring pure mineral compound of magnesium.  Indulging in an Epson salt bath not only calms you but will also help to ease all sorts of muscle aches and pains.  Also, be sure to include foods high in Magnesium into your everyday diet: spinach, Swiss chard, black beans, almonds, cashews, potatoes, pumpkin seeds, avocado, bananas, broccoli and brussels sprouts.

Although magnesium may not be the most abundant mineral present in our bodies, it certainly is an important one!  There are also some great options for magnesium supplements out there.  Just make sure you are getting a good quality supplement that your body will absorb effectively!

 Turkey Bacon Brussels Sprouts Recipe

 

INGREDIENTS:

·       ½ pound sliced turkey bacon

·       ¼ cup coconut oil

·       2/3 cup pine nuts

·       2 pounds Brussels sprouts, cored and shredded

·       1 onion, chopped

·       3-4 garlic cloves, minced

·       Sea salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

1.    Bake bacon in the oven until crispy. Drain, crumble and set aside.

2.    In a skillet, melt coconut oil over medium heat. Add pine nuts and stir until browned. Add Brussels sprouts, garlic and onions. Add the seasoning and cook until sprouts are tender (10-15 minutes).

3.    Stir in bacon just before serving.

With the holidays approaching, allow magnesium to be your best friend!  For many of us, the joy of the holiday can get lost with endless commitments, managing family dynamics and gift buying!  You will find yourself calmer, less stressed and you might possibly be able to enjoy the holidays this year!

 

Have a Happy Heart Healthy Month

How appropriate that February, the same month we celebrate Valentines Day, is heart health month?

Love is connected with the heart, but unfortunately for our heart (and our waistline), we also associate Valentines Day with sweets!  When most of us think of our sweetheart on Valentines Day, the gift of chocolate comes to mind, even though in our heart of hearts, we know that these treats are not good for the heart! 

Maybe this Valentines Day, consider a gift that supports a healthy heart – D id you know that bitter foods are actually good for the heart, especially for someone who suffers from any type of heart disease?  According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, foods with a bitter flavor are connected with supporting healthy heart function, and bitter foods and herbs assist in cooling and draining excess heat from the body.

Some bitter foods that are heart healthy include:

·      Kale

·      Parsley

·      Endive

·      Arugula

·      Dandelion

Most likely you know what to do with the first four of the above mentioned foods, but you may be saying to yourself, “Dandelion? How in the world do I consume a weed that drives me nuts in the summer?” 

We are actually talking about Dandelion greens.  These greens can be eaten raw, steamed, boiled, sautéed or braised.  The leaves are rich in potassium, antioxidants and vitamins A & C.

Also, there are tricks to making these bitter greens a little more tasty.  For example, massage your Kale (who said we are not being romantic here?) with olive oil, garlic and salt.  Be sure to remove the stems first.  This is great when adding kale to a salad or when making kale chips. 

I understand that these greens do not sound as romantic as chocolate, but if you truly care about your loved one, choose their gift wisely and help take care of their heart!   

You may also try replacing sweets with:

·      Hugs

·      Compliments

·      Forgiveness

·      A reason to laugh

·      Just some good ol’ fashion love

Obviously, this does not mean that you and your sweetheart will never enjoy another piece of chocolate together, but this year, try giving a big green salad filled with bitter greens and a big hug! 

(And fine – if you simply cannot resist a nibble of chocolate, make it dark chocolate as it is one of the best sources of antioxidants on the planet and can help to improve your overall health and lower the risk of heart disease — but don’t forget, moderation is key!)

Always remember, the most genuine and least expensive gift you can give is a big hug — this connects you mentally and physically, but the best part is during that moment you are truly heart to heart!

Happy heart healthy month!