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carol@inkwellcoaching.com

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December 6, 2018

Slow Down to Speed Up

This mantra seems counterintuitive, especially since there are only 19 days until Christmas. Yet, it hit me during a recent time of stillness. It also

November 29, 2018

Always Do Something

It’s time to embrace imperfection. Yes, you read that correctly. Today, we are going to consider doing some things imperfectly, rather than not

November 14, 2018

We Fry a Turkey

Yes, you read that correctly. The Slager family fries a turkey (or two) each year to celebrate Thanksgiving. I know. Fried food is not a healthy optio

November 1, 2018

A Fun Day of Celebrations

I find it quite curious that the day after many folks around the world celebrate Halloween, we find ourselves with more than we bargained for on Novem

October 25, 2018

Healthy Diet = Brighter Brain

The age-old question I hear is this, “What is the best diet for me?” Although some people have food sensitivities or allergies, there is a way of

October 18, 2018

Warm Up with a Frittata

It’s that time of year when it actually feels good to turn on the oven. The warmth in the kitchen helps take the bite out of the chilly morning air.

October 18, 2018

Fall Frittata

8 ounces organic uncured turkey bacon, diced (I like Applegate brand)      2 green onions, including much of the green, diced 1 bunch asparagus, ch

October 11, 2018

Embracing the Uncomfortable

Today’s topic hit me like a brick when I was doing just that–embracing the uncomfortable. Why would anyone do such a crazy thing? It hardly ma

October 4, 2018

Farewell, Flag Pants

“You’re getting a little wide in the beam, aren’t you kid?” Those words literally kicked me into the basement of reality and sadness, all

September 27, 2018

Share the Love

Today, give some positive encouragement to another human being. This person may be a workout buddy, neighbor, co-worker, friend, family member, strang

Pre-Thanksgiving Tips

A week out from Thanksgiving and I’m feeling the pressure of lots to do and my ability to pull it all off without experiencing symptoms of a panic attack. Can you relate?

As I was thinking of some ideas, I figured perhaps some of you could benefit from them as well. Here goes.             

*If you are hosting dinner, or contributing your favorite dish to a gathering, this week is a good time to pull out your favorite recipes and put your grocery list together. Buying your groceries before Tuesday would also be ideal. It’s good to avoid the frustration of empty shelves, jammed aisles, and extremely long checkout lines whenever possible. I’ve messed this up on many occasions and I am certainly old enough to know better!

*In preparation for all the food that will be filling your refrigerator and pantry shelves, see if you can use what you currently have on hand to make dinners this week. Are there some meats or vegetables that can be made into soup? Do you still have a bag of frozen cranberries from last year? Take inventory. Google recipes to use whatever you find, be bold, and experiment. By doing this, you do a little clearing out and save money. Sweet!

*Even though you have a million things on your “To Do” list, remember to take care of you. Continue to get your sleep, drink your water, eat a salad, get some exercise, and spend some time at the end of your day relaxing in a way that suits you. Some days the energy just isn’t there, so honor the way you feel and remember the words of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind, “After all, tomorrow is another day!”

*When there is more to do than you can handle, ask for help. Family members may not volunteer to do dishes, vacuum or run an errand, however, most of them are willing to help when they know EXACTLY what to do. I used to take pride in doing it all myself, which led to exhaustion and crankiness. Those days are long gone and now I assign tasks for projects like Thanksgiving dinner. This leads to even more gratitude and a sunnier disposition on my part.

*As you do your grocery shopping, remember the many food drives that are accepting non-perishable goods. If you are able, add a few cans of vegetables or fruit to your cart to donate.

*Enjoy the process of getting to the Thanksgiving dinner finish line. Each year I am amazed at how quickly the actual meal is consumed, yet the preparations begin days, even weeks, earlier.

Full disclosure: we fry our turkey on Thanksgiving and it’s AMAZING!

Thanksgiving blessings to you and your family~

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” — John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Ingredient Substitutes for the Holidays

Recent text from my son: “Say something involves breadcrumbs and looks good and I want to make it. Any suggestions/alternatives to stay away from the breadcrumbs? LOL”

I picked up the phone. Too much texting to cover that ground and my fingers get tired. It’s a great question, and with the holiday gatherings almost upon us, I thought it was the perfect time to cover substitutes for some allergenic foods.

 Instead of breadcrumbs in case of gluten intolerance

A few options to choose from: 1) Grated Parmigiano or some other type of hard, aged cheese is good. A bonus with hard cheeses is that there is little to no lactose in them, since most of it disappears when the whey is poured off. If you are using them to top a dish, shake a bit of paprika on top too for a bit more color; 2) Find rice or other gluten-free crackers that have only a few ingredients. The fewer, the better! Crush them into a fine meal-type consistency. At this point, you could add some type of fat like melted butter, coconut oil or olive oil to lightly dampen the crumbs. Add any seasonings you like and remember the paprika trick. Sprinkle on your casserole or whatever it is you are making. If the recipe calls for breadcrumbs IN the dish as a binder (like in meatloaf), I would choose the cracker crumbs, since the cheese may change the flavor too much; 3) Finely grated nuts could also be used to top a casserole. Again, keep in mind the flavor that you may add by choosing this option; 4) Gluten-free oatmeal finely ground in a food processor or grinder is a good binder. I have made my meatloaf with basic oatmeal, soaked in some water, for decades—no food processing needed.

Instead of nuts

There are a variety of tree nut and peanut (a legume) allergies today. Many dishes taste delicious even when the nuts are omitted. You may substitute sunflower or pumpkin seeds for nuts.

 Instead of cow milk in your pumpkin pie (or other dishes)

When you make your pie filling, use plain, unsweetened almond milk or fresh or reconstituted goat milk (my choice). I have used goat milk for years, the same amount as the evaporated milk. It’s delicious and no one can tell the difference.

 Instead of regular pie crust with gluten

Namaste Gluten Free Perfect Flour Blend is a very good substitute for regular wheat flour. I have used it to make bread, pie crust, brownies, coffee cake, etc. and the final product always disappears. There is a Namaste website that offers some great recipes.

 Instead of Cool Whip or Whipped Cream

CocoWhip, which is found in the frozen food section of the grocery, is made with coconut milk and is delicious. No dairy and no partially hydrogenated fats.

Instead of mashed potatoes

Okay, this is one I won’t do, however there are lots of folks that love this: Mashed cauliflower. I suppose if you add lots of garlic, butter, bacon and cheddar cheese, I could force it down. LOL. There are a variety of ways to make these if potatoes aren’t your thing, or if you have an allergy to them (nightshade family). This Thanksgiving, I’m going to stick with my usual REAL mashed potatoes and sweet potato casserole, eat them slowly, and stop at 80% full.

Remember, unless there is an allergy or food sensitivity, there are times when the best option is to eat the AMAZING dish and savor every moment. Have fun planning your holiday meals!

“You are what you eat, so don’t be fast, cheap, easy, or fake.”– Unknown

Healthy Aging…at Any Age

Healthy aging. It almost sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? Is this even possible? The simple answer is, YES!

There are numerous ways we can maintain good health as the years add up. I know this will surprise you—they all involve lifestyle!

First of all, the younger we are when we start doing these things, the better. So, no matter what age you are today, begin now and you’re right on schedule.

Note: When I refer to inflammation in the information below, I’m referring to chronic, unregulated inflammation that is found with autoimmune conditions, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, chronic pain, allergies. Well-regulated inflammation saves our lives! There are many ways we can keep inflammation (and disease) reduced. Some of them are listed.

A Few Tips for Healthy Aging:

*Exercise. This is about more than burning calories and working out so you can eat ice cream (yes, I have used this reasoning). Moving helps your immune system and autonomic nervous system (the system that controls functions you don’t have to consciously think about, like your heart beating and food digesting). Lots of things count. Choose activities you enjoy so you reap the most benefit. Choosing activities you hate are not beneficial for relieving the stress—plus, you won’t be committed.

*Play a musical instrument. I’ve heard numerous people in their later years express the desire to learn how to play something. JUST DO IT! This is great, especially when you do it with other people, like in an orchestra or band. Doesn’t playing (fill in the instrument of your choice here) with a bunch of your friends sound like fun? Who knows where that could lead!

*Get involved in your community and get socially connected. There are so many opportunities here and the social aspects are critical to longevity. Loneliness is associated with poor health, and greater sensitivity to pain. People who feel socially excluded and have negative emotions experience increased inflammation, which affects health adversely. Social stress and bullying have a more severe effect on immune functioning than other stressors.

*Volunteer. Volunteers have less inflammation, better quality of life, and less intensity of illness when it does strike. We need to care about others and feel cared about. Our lives must have meaning.

*Eat a diet that does not increase inflammation. This is a topic that is HUGE. I’ll break it down and cover it more in future blogs. For now, here’s the short story: the typical Western diet tends to increase inflammation. The Mediterranean way of eating is one good option. There are others, however, this is probably the most well-known. Basically, it consists of eating mostly plant-based food (beans and legumes, vegetables, fruits, whole grains); eating fish and poultry at least twice a week; eating primarily olive oil; limited red meats and sugars. None of this is a surprise.

*Meditation. Meditation can help maintain cognitive function and reduce inflammation. Simply sitting quietly and focusing on your breathing counts as meditating. There are Loving Kindness meditations and many others. This is not some hocus pocus idea, in case some of you are raising your eyebrows and thinking “Yeah, right!” In a couple controlled studies of stressed caregivers and lonely adults, it was discovered that the expression of genes in immune cells can indeed be influenced by meditation.

Breathe.

Cheers to one new habit today~

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. “—C.S. Lewis

Reference: Goehler, Dr. Lisa E., “Mind-Body Interactions and the Stress-Inflammation Connection.”

The Great Pumpkin

It was quite a disturbing incident for such a small, quiet town. Everybody knew everybody in Danville. To think that my great pumpkin had been stolen was incomprehensible!

I was only ten years old. My dad had grown the biggest pumpkin I had ever seen. It weighed somewhere in the neighborhood of forty pounds. Together we had carved the scariest, most evil looking jack-o-lantern you could imagine. It glowed from our front porch on Halloween night.

At some point during the treating festivities, a trick was played and my forty-pound scariest, most evil looking jack-o-lantern, disappeared. Mom called the police, but since we didn’t have enough sound evidence for a description—of the pumpkin (which ended up as purée)—or the perpetrators (we never saw them), nothing could be done. I was devastated.

What a laugh the police department must have had that night. My family has always been one to provide entertainment. And on that note…

These days, I eat canned pumpkin and leave the carving to other brave souls. This is the perfect time to review all the good stuff about pumpkin and offer ideas to include it in your diet.

Pumpkins and their seeds rank high on the nutrition scale. Besides looking very festive, the pumpkin is full of fiber. Fiber helps us stay full longer, aids in healthy digestion and keeps us humming. A small amount of pure, canned pumpkin helps doggy digestion too.

Pumpkins contain potassium, iron, and vitamins A, B-complex, C and E. Health benefits include a boost to the immune system and reduced inflammation. Inflammation in the body can lead to a variety of chronic conditions including cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and type-2 diabetes.

The carotenoids, which give pumpkins their bright orange color, offer protection from certain cancers and heart disease. These compounds also lower the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. The alpha-carotene component may slow the aging process. Now we’re talking.

Pumpkin seeds contain zinc and vitamin E. Interesting tidbit: when roasting these at home, do not do so for longer than 20 minutes, as this causes an undesirable change in the seed fats.

Ways to get more pumpkin in your diet: add pumpkin purée to soup, pasta sauce, stew or chili to increase the nutritional value (it will not significantly alter the flavor); use it in place of oil in a bread or muffin recipe; add some to a bowl of oatmeal or plain Greek yogurt; try it in your hummus recipe.

I like to add it to my protein shake. Pour it into a fancy glass, sprinkle some nutmeg on top and it may even pass for eggnog.

Gobbly Good Protein Shake
9 oz. almond milk
2 scoops vanilla protein powder
2 T. canned pumpkin
½ tsp. cinnamon
3-4 ice cubes

Add ingredients to blender and mix until smooth. Note: When choosing canned pumpkin purée, be sure that the only ingredient is pumpkin. Some canned pie fillings contain sugar.

Linus [writing to the Great Pumpkin]: “You must get discouraged because more people believe in Santa Claus than you. Well, let’s face it; Santa Claus has had more publicity, but being #2, perhaps you try harder.”