Tag Archives: wellness

Quick and Nutritious Meal Ideas

In our fast-paced world it can be hard to carve out two hours everyday to cook a hearty, healthy supper, or to spare more than a few minutes to prepare breakfast or lunch. Luckily, speedy meals don’t always have to skimp on flavour or nutrition. Here are a few of our favourite quick, healthy meal choices:

Healthy, Yummy Breakfast Ideas

  1. A spinach/tomato omelette made with feta cheese and extra virgin olive oil and a cup of mixed berries (frozen berries are delicious too).
  2. Homemade oatmeal and fruit (made from raw oats, not packaged oatmeal which is full of refined sugar) – you can slice in a banana for flavour, or add some cinnamon and stevia to taste
  3. Breadless PB and banana sandwich – for this open-faced delicacy, just cut a banana in half lengthwise, spread your favourite nut-butter on each half and sprinkle homemade granola (combinations of grains, seeds, nuts and dried fruit) on top. Or just some oats and raisons or nuts will do just fine. This sweet treat is nutritious as well, with some added protein from the peanut butter.

Quick and nutritious Lunches

  1. Garlic chicken pizza – take some precooked chicken or quick-fry strips, defrost some garlic bread you have in your freezer (or use slightly toasted normal bread with a quick spread of garlic butter), some cheese of your choice, pizza or tomato sauce and basil. Put it all on the garlic bread and pop it in the oven for a few minutes until the cheese is melted. Voila! A chef-quality lunch in minutes.
  2. Herb and almond salad – clocking in at under 5 minutes of prep time, this nutritious lunch choice has many flavourful elements such as cilantro, chives and nuts. Real Simple has many other delicious, creative salad choices as well.
  3. Chicken and brown rice – make some brown rice, and add precooked, lightly grilled chicken, chives and some low-sodium soy sauce for a super quick, scrumptious meal full of fibre and flavor.

 

Speedy, Beneficial Supper Ideas

  1. Garlic beef and bean stir fry (you can substitute pork for more heart-healthy choice). This quick supper idea has protein, fibre and flavour, and is easy on the clock!
  2. Fresh Salmon and Steamed Broccoli – fresh salmon doesn’t take long to cook, only about half an hour, and steamed broccoli takes mere minutes. For flavouring, you can melt some cream cheese to mix through your broccoli. Salmon usually only needs some pepper or spices of choice. Spicy Thai sauce is delicious on salmon and broccoli as well.
  3. Almost Instant Tuna Casserole – if you like tuna, this will be one of the tastiest meals you’ll eat, and it can be prepared in minutes. To make, start boiling a serving of noodles (or brown rice noodles for a gluten free option). Put a little bit of butter in another pot on medium heat until melted, add a teaspoon of flour (or gluten free flour), turn the burner down a bit and add in you favourite spices like parsley, chives, garlic and pepper. Pour some liquid chicken broth into the mixture and bring to a boil. When boiled, reduce heat and add in a full can of flaked tuna. Once the tuna starts boiling, add some more chicken broth, boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer. Pour the mixture over your strained noodles (or a cup of brown rice) for a lovely, healthy supper in 10 minutes.

Healthy Snack Ideas

Here at DocChat, we like to keep pre-chopped bell peppers, cucumber and celery in the fridge for quick, healthy snacks. We love humus or tzatziki sauce for dipping. Raisons make a yummy afternoon snack when you’re in the mood for something sweet. Cheese strings are a good, quick snack choice as well because they limit the cheese serving to the proper size, instead of cutting off more than you should chew from the cheese block.

 

Self-Care For A Healthier You

We’ve all heard the saying “until you take care of yourself, you’re no good to anyone else”, but have you ever really stopped to consider it? Most of us run ourselves on empty helping friends, running errands for relatives, perfecting the house for company, taking on work to help a fellow employee, rarely stopping to ask ourselves if our needs are being met. But stretching yourself too thin is not without its consequences.

Taking ‘Me Time’ Is Crucial, Not Selfish

By doing things for everyone else all the time, we leave little time for things that may be essential for our own wellbeing such as time to exercise, rest or work on hobbies or personal development. It can be hard to set your focus on yourself when you feel there are so many more pressing matters. Many people even feel selfish doing so, but the reality is that by never taking time to relax, your physical, emotional and mental health may soon turn into “more pressing” matters.

The Dangers of Running Yourself Ragged

Constantly being on the run and moving from task to task without a break will perpetually elevate your stress level. We all know that stress can cause physical distress as well as mental, but to what degree? Chronic stress has such physiological effects as lethargy, anxiety, palpitations, elevated blood pressure, headaches and insomnia. That is a pretty hefty price to pay because you refuse to take a daily moment for yourself.

The Importance of Self Care for the Immunocompromised

If you have mental or physical health problems it can be even more important to avoid wearing yourself down. With limited fuel in the tank, if you’re burning too much of it on others while neglecting yourself, your cortisol levels will rise which can often exacerbate chronic conditions such as heart, lung, or autoimmune diseases. There can also be emotional reprocussions such as reduced self esteem. If you take time to do the things that make you happy and take care of yourself, your confidence will follow suit. You will also teach other people to treat you well instead of always second fiddle.

The Importance of Self-Care for Caregivers

Someone who cares for a partner or family member with an illness also needs to pay particular attention to self-care. If you are always running around doing things to help someone else, you will likely put all your needs second to the person you are caring for. This can be dangerous for different reasons:

  • Over one third of family and spousal caregivers continue to provide intense care even when they are suffering physically or mentally themselves – the added stress of caregiving can continue to make caregivers’ physical and mental problems worse overtime if they don’t learn to bring their stress levels down.
  • If caregivers don’t take regular time out for their own needs, feelings of resentment and hostility will develop toward the person they are caring for. Mental health conditions such as depression can easily set in if the caregiver is unhappy and unhealthy themselves.
  • If the caregiver becomes too burned out they will not be in adequate shape to continue caring for their loved one or for themselves.

Take A Beat To Do What You Love

If you have a morning ritual such as doing yoga outside or writing in your diary first thing in the morning, you should not let life get in the way of it. Some other little things you can do to take care for yourself are:

  • Take an hour every day after work before succumbing to family craziness to go for a nice walk, do some meditation or lock the door and have a dance party with yourself
  • Do you nails or pumice your callouses. For men? Have a luxurious shave or read your favourite comic in the bath
  • Get things in order for tomorrow the night before, it may give you more time to sleep in and you’ll thank yourself for the foresight
  • Read for pleasure, outside if possible
  • Learn mindfulness and meditation, is it for you?
  • Call a friend that makes you happy, not one that brings you down
  • Stop and enjoy your coffee, tea or make yourself a smoothie to sip
  • Go for an hour’s drive with your favourite songs uploaded to a “Driving Fun” playlist
  • Find someone or a pet for a cuddle
  • Make your favourite meal for you. Many people are too busy cooking for others they don’t take time to make what they are craving
  • Turn off all the technology in the house and do something you love – painting, colouring, woodworking or knitting

As they say on airplanes, you have to put on your own oxygen mask before you can assist others! Take care, from DocChat!

10 Healthier Treats To Keep The Sugar Monkey Off Your Back

When your sweet tooth is acting up, we all know it is best to indulge a little so you can get on with your day, undistracted. Luckily, there are healthier sweet choices you can make in these moments so you won’t have to pay too dearly when it comes time to work them off. Here are some of our favorites from various healthful sources:

  1. Homemade Chocolate Mousse

This chocolate mousse recipe is decadent but low in fat, calories and sugar. All you need is low-fat yogurt, cocoa, vanilla extract and sugar substitute such as stevia, and voila! You have a lovely mousse to satiate your sweet craving.

  1. Cherry Sorbet

This homemade cherry sorbet recipe is the perfect frozen sweet treat if you’re craving something creamy like ice cream. You can substitute stevia for the little bit of sugar in this recipe for an even healthier dessert. An added benefit to this treat? Cherries are great for gout, so any gout sufferers out there should try this one.

  1. Smoothie Pops

If you’re a fan of freezes or popsicles and are craving those artificially coloured, high-sugar frozen treats, your palate (and body) will thank you for going with a healthy homemade smoothie-pop instead. Here are 54 healthy smoothie recipes with that you can make and pour into popsicle moulds or little plastic containers for delicious, nutritious treats for later.

  1. Banana Cream Pie

Banana cream pie made with fat-free yogurt, banana slices, flaxseed and a graham cracker will trick your taste buds into thinking you’re eating actual pie. Bananas offer plenty of vitamins and nutrients including B12, while the flaxseed adds fibre for a dessert that is just as healthy as it is scrumptious.

  1. Frozen grapes

While grapes may not be a conventional frozen fruit choice, these tasty little buddies are packed with vitamins, antioxidants and even a special cholesterol-busting ingredient called resveratrol. So put a serving of grapes in the freezer and check back later for a yummy, sweet-tart frozen treat!

  1. Ants On A Log

Remember this old-fashioned favorite? Well it’s one we love here at DocChat, so we thought we’d resurrect the satisfyingly delicious treat in case you forgot. Celery sticks topped with nut butter and raisins (or dark chocolate chips) are delicious with a nice cup of tea. They can serve as a meal and dessert all rolled into one.

  1. PB And Dark Chocolate Banana Bites

Mmm. These tasty nutty banana treats are healthy and creative. Most people just think to dip a while banana in a bit of chocolate when they think of such frozen delights, but this recipe yields a flavour-packed punch with each mini treat, so you have the option of just a couple to satisfy your sweet tooth.

  1. Yummy Protein Oatballs

You can have instant cookies by adding a cup of oats, half a cup of nut butter, chia or flaxseed, dark chocolate or raisins and some honey (to taste) in your blender. Then mix, squish into 1.5 inch balls, and place on a cookie sheet in the freezer for a couple hours. Soon you’ll have yummy frozen cookie-dough balls full of protein and fibre!

  1. Zucchini Whoopie Pies

If it’s a baked good you’re craving, check out these zucchini Whoopie pies with cream cheese icing. With veggies hidden in the cake batter, and applesauce in place of fatty and unhealthy ingredients, this unconventional little dessert is sure to satiate your craving without the extra fat and sugar.

  1. Dried Apple And Cinnamon Dip

What could be better than already yummy dried apple slices combined with a sweet cinnamon yogurt dip? You get the vitamins and nutrients apples have to offer, combined with calcium and vitamin D from yogurt, and anti-inflammatory properties of cinnamon!

Well, there you have it! 10 of DocChat’s favorite heathier sweet treats!

 

 

Health Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Mediterranean omega-3 diet.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids are some of the “good fats” your body needs in order to function optimally, but unfortunately your body doesn’t produce enough of these goodies naturally and instead gets them from certain important foods. Omega-3s have some amazing effects on health, including prevention of certain diseases and helping to regulate things like hormone production. There are three different types of Omega-3s: ALA (this one is the most important to consume, as it is an essential fat), DHA and DPA.

Omega-3s For Cardiovascular Health

Omega-3s are very heart-healthy. According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, “These fats appear to help the heart beat at a steady clip and not veer into a dangerous or potentially fatal erratic rhythm. Omega-3 fats also lower blood pressure and heart rate, improve blood vessel function, and, at higher doses, lower triglycerides and may ease inflammation, which plays a role in the development of atherosclerosis.” Omega-3 supplements are often recommended by doctors to patients with cardiovascular problems, or as a preventative measure for those at risk of developing heart issues.

The Many Other Benefits

The health benefits Omega-3s are vast, among them are helping to control chronic inflammation which aids with diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, helping also to control airway inflammation in asthmatics. Some studies seem to show a link between omega-3s found in fish oil and the prevention and progression of Alzheimer’s and dementia. These super fats have also shown a positive influence over such mental health conditions as ADHD and depression, working in tandem with antidepressants to help alleviate some of the symptoms. Because the benefits of these fats extend far beyond this list, doctors recommend everyone try to eat fish, nuts or other omega-3-containing foods 3-4 times weekly.

Good Dietary Sources

Omega-3s can be found in many healthy foods such as:

Nuts – walnuts, pine nuts, almonds and peanuts

Fish and seafood – mackerel, salmon, anchovies, herring, oysters, sardines, caviar

Some oils – sunflower oil, corn oil

Flaxseeds and chia seeds

Soybeans

Spinach

Precautions

If you don’t like many Omega-3 foods, supplements are available to take. However, people with bleeding disorders such as hemophilia should be careful with Omega-3s, as well as people on blood-thinners such as Warfarin. Omega-3s could cause bloating or diarrhea in some people. As with any medication or supplement, it is important to consult your primary care doctor or one of our qualified physicians at DocChat before beginning an Omega-3 supplement.

 

 

 

Cold Care – Tips and Tidbits (Part 2)

Cold And Flu

There are over 100 different viruses that can cause the common cold. The two most prominent are the coronavirus and rhinovirus. While there is no “cure” for the common cold, there are things you can do to alleviate your symptoms and help ease you into recovery.

What To Do When Prevention Fails?

You tried every preventative measure you could think of but still caught that cold, so what now? Well, there are many traditional remedies that may help ease your symptoms, as well as certain over the counter (OTC) medications. Natural remedies also exist that may help your illness pass quickly and quietly. Some of the most widely accepted cold-fighting measures to take include getting plenty of rest, hydrating more than normal to flush out the germs more quickly, and avoiding secondhand smoke or other irritants that may bother your upper respiratory tract even more.

Avoid Unnecessary Meds

Many cold-marketed cough syrups and other medications claim to ‘cure’ but don’t actually work for colds, and can be counterproductive to your recovery. Common cough syrups contain a cough suppressing agent called dextromethorphan (DM) which can actually stall your recovery and can be especially dangerous to asthmatics and children. There is a reason we cough when we are sick; coughing and sneezing are your body’s ways of purging unwanted germs. You want to get that gunk out of your lungs as soon as you can, so let your annoying coughs resound!

Natural Remedies That Help

While many natural remedies have been debunked or remain unproven, there are those that help. Some of the more beneficial ones include:

  • Salt water – The healing power of salt water is pretty widely accepted, and saline nasal sprays can act as decongestants while salt water gargles can help heal sore throats.
  • Ginger and peppermint – Ginger has shown some promise helping with certain bad stomach issues, while peppermint has anti-inflammatory properties and may help with sinuses (in steam) or the digestive tract.
  • Sipping warm liquids – The warmth can break up mucus and get it flowing to help clear you out.
  • Vaporizers and humidifiers – Adding moisture to the air can also help decongest some people.

Meds That Do Work

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) such as Advil or ibuprofen (not aspirin) can help alleviate any inflammation or aches and pains associated with your cold and help bring down mild fevers. Decongestants have also proven successful for some cold sufferers, as they help decrease inflammation in the nasal passages and airways while helping to soothe stuffiness.

Don’t Run For The Antibiotics!

Many people go to the doctor with the first onset of a cold symptom expecting antibiotics. In actuality, the vast majority of colds are viral, not bacterial, so antibiotics won’t help one bit. Taking antibiotics unnecessarily or too frequently contributes to antibiotic resistance which could work against you when you really need them in the future. Antibiotics also disrupt the gut’s bacterial ecosystem, killing off good bacteria along with the bad. Lastly, antibiotics are medications which, like any, have potential side effects. Too many antibiotics can be especially troublesome for causing diarrhea in children.

When To Visit The Doc

Most colds resolve themselves within 7-10 days, but that is not to say no one should go to the doctor for a cold. If your baby or young child has a cold, definitely take them to a doctor as soon as possible. If you are immunocompromised (hindered by a chronic condition such as AIDS or a respiratory disease) you should also touch base with your doctor as you may need medications (such as corticosteroids) to help your body fight the bug. Lastly, if your cold is hanging on too long and not improving, or you have a high, persistent fever, it is time to visit your doctor, or download the DocChat app to have a video consultation with one of our top-notch physicians today!

Yoga – The Benefits Of Becoming A Human Pretzel

What Is Yoga All About?

It seems like all we hear these days is “yoga, yoga, yoga!” Upon investigation, there are many good reasons for that. Yoga has a plethora of wellness benefits: it can enhance personal spirituality, help physical ailments, as well as aid in mental health and healing. But what exactly is it?

Yoga is an ancient mind-body practice that originated in India thousands of years ago. Today it is considered one of the best approaches to fitness and wellness, as it aims to discipline and align the mind, body and soul to help you achieve comprehensive peace, spirituality and balance while fabulously shaping your body.

Choices, Choices, Choices!

There are many different forms, styles, and levels of yoga to choose from such as Ashtanga or Bikram yoga. As it is often referred to as a tree with roots, limbs and flowers, yoga also has six branches:

  1. Hatha yoga: focuses on breathing and postures
  2. Raja yoga: a strict practice of the “eight limbs of yoga”
  3. Karma yoga: a form which focuses on reciprocation of positive energy
  4. Bhakti yoga: centered around positive emotional and mental wellbeing
  5. Jnana yoga: an intellectually-based practice
  6. Tantra yoga: promotes stronger spiritual connections within relationships

According to the Mayo Clinic’s feature on yoga, a great form for beginners and stress management is Hatha yoga because of its steady pace, breathing teachings and versatility.

Make Yoga Work for Your Body

One of the reasons yoga has been so broadly accepted as one of the foremost forms of fitness is because it caters to people of all different fitness levels and capabilities. When you join a yoga class, you are guided through breathing tips and safe ways to partake in the postures. Your instructor will also express the importance of going at your own pace and not pushing something that doesn’t feel right. It is the type of activity that you have control over, as you can modify poses that are outside your range of ability as you see fit. After taking a few classes and getting some proper instruction on how to safely perform yoga, many people even practice in a dedicated area of their home instead of venturing out to a class.

Health Benefits of Stretching It Out

There are almost boundless health benefits to practicing yoga. According to the American Osteopathic Association, some of the frontrunners include:

  • Increased flexibility and muscle strength
  • Balancing your body and metabolism
  • Weight loss and toning
  • Benefits to those with respiratory conditions (such as asthma) by helping to regulate and promote deep breathing, forcing stale air out of the lungs
  • Minimizing chronic fatigue by increasing energy and vitality
  • Cardiovascular benefits – helping to decrease inflammation around the heart in those with chronic heart problems
  • Helping decrease chronic pain such as back pain when practiced safely
  • Minimizing stress and promoting metal wellbeing
  • Decreasing anxiety through meditative practices

Precautions To Be Mindful Of

Yoga has been proven as one of the much safer methods of exercise, but as with anything, it can still be dangerous for people with certain conditions. If you are pregnant or have a herniated disc, history of blood clots, vertigo, severe osteoporosis or other forms of arthritis or uncontrolled blood pressure, you should talk to your doctor (or one of our qualified DocChat physicians) today to see if yoga will be safe for you to practice.

All in all, yoga has so many mental and physical wellness benefits that it can be life-changing. Seems to me that it is well worth a try! Namaste from DocChat!

Insomnia – How To Get More Sleep

Sleeping couple

If you, or someone close to you has chronic sleeping problems, you certainly know the toll an absence of slumber can have on staying healthy, happy, and sometimes merely functioning. We need sleep to fuel our bodies. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institution (NHLBI) says, “During sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain function and maintain your physical health.” Let’s take a look at what constitutes insomnia, as well as some techniques to help catch some zzz’s!

Mind Over Mattress

Chronic insomnia, is classified as a sleep problem under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 5 (DSM-V) as a mental health condition. It often springs from an over-active mind, or a surplus of anxiety. It can also be caused by certain medications or physical distress, such as illness or chronic pain. Many people think that 6 hours of sleep every night is enough, but according to The National Sleep Foundation most people need between 7-9 hours of sleep to function efficiently.

Being Sleepy Kills

Now, this is a bench mark. Some people need more, perhaps 10 hours to be their best selves, and some are perfectly used to just 5 or 6. However, getting a minimal amount of sleep will slowly chip away at your wellbeing over time. Not only will you be sluggish and zombie-esque, but Sleep.org states that chronic sleep deprivation is responsible for 100,000 traffic accidents, 76,000 injuries, and 1,500 deaths a year! These stats should wake us all up to just how important getting adequate sleep can be.

Tired and Tubby

Even though insomnia has mental health roots, it also affects, or can be affected by the physical. The NHLBI states that chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to such significant health issues as heart problems, kidney disease, blood pressure, stroke, and obesity. “Sleep helps maintain a healthy balance of the hormones that make you feel hungry (ghrelin) or full (leptin). When you don’t get enough sleep, your level of ghrelin goes up and your level of leptin goes down.” The NHLIB also asserts that sleep deprivation affects how your body metabolizes insulin, which can eventually contribute to diabetes as well.

A Coy Midnight Caller

When Sir Slumber is being aloof, what can you do to beckon him back for a visit? Aside from sleeping pills, there have been all kinds of things discovered and developed over the years to help insomnia. Some of which include relaxation and meditative techniques, natural oils, sleepy-time teas, specialized sound effects or visuals, and melatonin, among many others. Experts also say that keeping your room cool during the night, while keeping your socks on during the night can help induce a long, comfy sleep.

Pop a Melatonin

My partner, Mark has been an insomniac since he was very young. He has tried every kind of sleeping pill on the market to no avail, but has recently had significant success with a nightly dose of melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone excreted by the body’s pineal gland which facilitates sleep, and the pill Melatonin is a synthetic replication of said hormone. Its effectiveness is debated in the medical community, but it does seem to provide many with much needed night-time peace.

A Sleepy Routine

Mark also finds keeping on a bedtime routine beneficial. The experts at Helpguide, a non-profit mental health wellness organization, advise “Support your biological clock by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, including weekends.” Mark also finds that calming mind activities help invite sleep, such as coming up with a band name for each letter or the alphabet, or saying the alphabet backwards and frontwards in his mind until he falls asleep midway through.

Sunny and Sleepy

According to Helpguide, some other techniques that have been proven to help coax sleep include: avoiding caffeine in the evening or heavy eating before bed, getting regular exercise, and unplugging a couple hours before bedtime. Possibly chief among these tactics is exposing yourself to enough sunlight daily to help the body’s sleep-wake cycle. According to Dr. Mercola, Osteopathic Physician and best-selling wellness author, “One of the key foundational components of sleeping well is maintaining a natural rhythm of exposure to sunlight during the day and darkness at night.”  Having a warm bath infused with lavender right before bed is another must-try technique for insomniacs.

We hope the information above helps you rest better! Thanks for stopping by DocChat – we always love to have you.

10 Healthy Alternatives to Favorite Dishes

Many of our favorite ‘guilty pleasure’ dishes can be substituted with alternatives that are much healthier but equally as delicious. Here are 10 of our favorite not-so-guilty pleasure healthy alternatives. We hope you find some new favorites here to incorporate into your meal plans!

1. Cauliflower Green Pizza

Pizza lovers, rejoice! This Food Network recipe includes a cauliflower crust topped with spinach and zucchini. It also makes a great substitution for those with gluten or egg allergies. Another healthier alternative is a veggie-based tortilla as the crust, then add your favorite toppings for a delectable, thin crust pizza.

2. Oatmeal Pancakes with Fruit

These flapjacks just require a few ingredients: eggs, oats, baking powder, salt and your choice of fruit. You can either put the fruit on top afterwards or add it to the batter (we are partial to blueberries). They wouldn’t be complete without a bit of regular maple syrup, or use an alternative such as agave syrup.

3. Black Bean Brownies

Check out these black bean brownies that actually taste like regular brownies – not only does it disguise the main ingredient from your tastebuds, but also they are gluten free and sweetened with stevia and agave syrup. What more could you ask for?

4. Lettuce wraps

For your next lunchtime wrap, try eliminating the wrap or bread altogether, and substituting it with a piece of romaine lettuce for a healthier, ready-to-eat roll. This way, you ditch the extra calories, but still get your fill and the same convenience.

5. Veggie Mac ‘n’ Cheese

Try adding different veggies, such as peas, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower or spinach to your favorite mac and cheese recipe for additional nutrients. You can even go a couple steps further and use less cheese, adding some low-fat cream cheese for texture.  Other options include using veggie noodles, brown rice or spinach-based pasta.

6. Spaghetti Squash

To make spaghetti squash, you simply poke some air holes in the exterior of the squash, heat it in the microwave for a few minutes, then cut it in half and remove the seeds. Use a fork to scrape at the squash flesh to create “pasta” texture. Then add your favorite homemade sauce and some turkey meatballs, and you have a satisfying supper.

7. Cinnamon Toast “Munch”

This is a great healthy homemade cereal substitute for your favorite sugary store-bought breakfast cereals. It includes sprouted whole grain (or puffed brown rice for a gluten free option), nuts, cinnamon and stevia to create a mouth-watering, healthful breakfast.

8. Roasted Chickpeas

A great savory alternative to chips, chickpeas are high in fiber, and much lower in fat, calories and sodium than most chips you’ll buy. You can buy roasted chickpeas, or you can make them! Simply drain a can of chickpeas, spread them out on a cookie sheet, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sea salt, and bake at 400’F for about 25-30 minutes depending on how crunchy you want them. Delicious!

9. Mashed “No-tatoes”

Mashed cauliflower has a texture similar to potatoes. Take a whole head of cauliflower, cut it up and boil or steam it, then mash it with your favorite ingredients like chives, light mayo or a bit of butter, and any other seasonings you enjoy in traditional mashed potatoes. You can even use it in place of potatoes in another recipe such a Shepherd’s Pie!

10. Smoothie Popsicles

This last one is so simple, you’ll wonder why you didn’t think of it first! Blend up a smoothie with berries, bananas,  protein powder, flax, or whatever you prefer, then pour it into popsicle mold and freeze for a sweet and icy treat.

16 Wellness Tips For 2016 — Part 2

2016 beach boost

If the first 8 tips were not enough, we’re back with more! Presenting the second half of our 16 wellness tips for 2016. If you missed the first half, you can check it out right here.

 

9. Fun & New

Taking up a hobby or learning a new craft will give you something to do when you’re all caught up on your favorite TV shows. Between food blogs, Pinterest, and recipe videos on YouTube, anyone can easily take up cooking or baking. Coloring books for adults have recently gained popularity for being therapeutic and nostalgic.  If that’s not your thing, beginner-level home improvement projects will give you a sense of accomplishment (and something to show your friends and family).

10. Use Your Apps

Do you ever have to pause and ask yourself, “What day is it?” Modern smart phones come standard with a calendar and alarm clock that you can even set days ahead of time. Setting an alarm with a reminder about 45 minutes before an upcoming meeting or coffee date is a great way to ensure you make it on time. The app stores have an entire category dedicated to productivity, so pick and choose the ones that apply most to your schedule!

11. Explore Your Own Backyard

Trekking across the globe is no doubt fun, but it can also be expensive and tiresome. Taking a brief 45-minute drive outside of your hometown can make for a lovely day trip, or go an hour or so further for a little weekend getaway. You may find a new favorite café or restaurant you’d like to visit again. If you live or work in a city, a sweet little hotel hidden in the forest can be refreshing.  Short trips like these are manageable and go a long way to both de-stress and satiate your wanderlust.

12. Stretch For Success

Stretching is underrated when it comes to bodily health and maintenance. Doing certain daily stretches can tone muscles and reduce pain in problem areas. According to Dr. Steve Weston of the International Chiropractors Association, “The benefits of stretching include improved circulation, increased flexibility, increased range of motion, decreased tension, increased relaxation, stress relief, and enhanced performance, function, and coordination”.

13. Create Something

Making something with your own two hands can be such a cathartic experience. Even if you don’t consider yourself creative, keep in mind that it’s about self-expression. Artistic endeavors like photography, drawing and painting are worth a try. Things like scrapbooking, photoshop or digital collage, or revamping home decor also make for great creative outlets. If you need ideas, go to Pinterest and search for “DIY” – the opportunities for creativity are boundless!

14. Boost Your Endorphins

Everyone should already know, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.” But there are other ways to boost this valuable brain chemical. Physical contact including hugs, cuddling, and having sex all increase endorphin production.  Eating chocolate or even some of your favorite food can have a similar effect.

15. Shut Up & Dance

If going to the club is your thing, more power to you! (Just don’t be a wallflower.) However, you don’t need an audience to move your feet and shake your hips. From salsa to belly dancing to shuffling, put on your favorite dance music playlist and let it move you. Dancing is especially beneficial for those with joint problems who can’t endure high-impact exercise. (Plus, you may pick up a move or two to show off in the future!)

16. Get Out

Want an excuse to get out of the house? Challenge yourself with something like hiking or indoor rock climbing.  Join a club  or class that piques your interest such as basketball, wine drinking, or wheel-throwing/ceramics. Alternatively, you can find a local meet up for yoga in the park, football, play dates for your pets and children, shopping, or just about anything.

16 Wellness Tips For 2016
 — Part 1

2016 beach
Whether or not you made any resolutions for this year, there are always small steps we can take to improve our general health and wellness. Here we have the first half of our 16 tips for the new year!

1. Steam Me Up, Scotty

Are your sinuses driving you crazy? Try boiling some water and adding 3-4 drops of pure peppermint oil. Pour it in a heat-safe cup and guide the steam into your nostrils with your hand. You will be breathing free and clear in no time at all.

2. Balance Ball Basics

Weighted balance balls are inexpensive and versatile exercise tools. You can use them for core strengthening by doing exercises like lifting the ball with your feet, or you can sit on them and do sit-ups, using the weight of the ball to anchor you down. You can also simply sit on the ball, using your core to bounce lightly while working on your computer.

3. Jazz Up Your Water

If you’re not a fan of good old H2O, it can be hard to get your daily intake. Flavored sparkling water is a nice alternative – there are no extra calories, just extra bubbles. Alternatively, you can skip the bubbles and try adding some zest with a couple squeezes of a lemon and a pinch of natural sweetener like Stevia.  Another trick is to cool your water in a freezer-friendly bottle until it is icy but not fully frozen, making it refreshingly crisp.

4. Cardio For Your Brain

Exercise is not just important for your body. There are so many activities out there to keep your brain in tip top condition. Some examples include playing speed and memory games, which you can find on a number of brain game apps and websites, doing Sudoku or crossword puzzles. Drawing is an option that provides a creative outlet, while also giving your brain a nice power-jog.  Another classic is reading, and the availability of audiobooks makes it easy to multitask.

5. Plan For Takeout

You will find yourself hitting up the drive-thru less often if you designate a Family Takeout Night once every couple weeks or so. Write it on the calendar and make sure everyone sets this day aside for takeout and movies or family board games. It will bring everyone together, give you something to look forward to, and most importantly it can cut down on those impulsive drive-thru trips.

6. Trick Your Tastebuds

Find healthier alternatives to your favorite guilty pleasure foods, such as using mashed cauliflower in place of mashed potatoes. Your favorite flavorings like chives, pepper, light mayo or butter go a long way. Craving cookies? Make them with oats and brown rice flour in place of white flour, with honey to sweeten instead of sugar. You can even use dark chocolate chunks. You can still have your indulgence without sacrificing flavor.

7. Power Down

Put down electronics for a few internet-free intervals throughout the day. Unsurprisingly, medical experts are noticing a trend of addictive tendencies toward social media. Several studies on this topic have been done in the last few years, one of which deduced that compulsive social media attendance can cause changes to some of the ‘reward pathways’ of the brain, causing similar behaviors to drug addiction.

8. Change It Up

Doing the same workout regimen time and again can become monotonous which may deter you from exercising. Varying your approach to physical activity is one of the best ways to maintain interest. Try attending a different group fitness class once every week or so.  If you normally work out alone, bring a friend to make it a social experience.