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carol@inkwellcoaching.com

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October 17, 2019

A Story with Heart

When considering our health, so many times we think about starting better habits on Monday, or after a big celebration, or at the beginning of a new y

October 10, 2019

Ever Get Mad at…You?

I recently saw a post from a wonderful lady we’ll call Ann. (This is not her real name, so you can insert any name you prefer to use here. Maybe you

October 2, 2019

Managing Inherited Behaviors

Ice cream is still my favorite food. It has been my favorite food my entire life, as far back as I can recall. I firmly believe that my fondness for i

September 29, 2019

Fresh fruits and veggies, fish, good fats make healthy eating delicious

(The following article first appeared in the February 14, 2018 issue of Get Healthy, a publication of The Northwest Indiana Times. Online version) T

September 26, 2019

Applause for Your Consistency

Today, I acknowledge and applaud you for your commitment to consistency. Whether you consistently make a conscious effort to consume more vegetables f

September 19, 2019

No Time? Quick Meal Ideas

No time. Can you relate? I’ve been feeling the crunch of more scheduled evening events—and I no longer have kids going back to school! As I sat lo

September 12, 2019

The Biggest Nutritional Challenge

When it comes to losing weight and improving nutrition, what is the #1 challenge? Go ahead, take a guess. If your answer is, “I don’t know what I

September 5, 2019

Mr. Non-Compliant Ate Gross Greens

Miracles do happen and life is full of surprises. If your loved one is not keen on eating as healthy as you’d like, keep the faith. I offer you a st

August 28, 2019

The Other 84% of Health

In last week’s blog, I mentioned water intake, slower eating, and increased movement. Did you pick up on the fact that I never suggested WHAT to eat

August 21, 2019

Back to School, Back to Basics

When we break it down, practicing healthy habits is rather elementary. It can also seem rather complicated. Since school is back in session, I figured

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.”

A Sad Truth, and Hope

I read an article last week about the obesity rate in the United States. According to the report covering 2015 and 2016: 40 percent of adults and 18.5 percent of children are obese. The numbers have not gone down since prior reports and actually, have increased ever so slightly.

The rate for children and teens had hovered around 17 percent for a decade. The 2 to 5 age group had the biggest increase in the latest study.

This news is very sad. These numbers indicate issues that are about so much more than weight and food. 

When people struggle with weight, they are typically struggling with a variety of health issues, low self-esteem, depression, insecurity, a higher risk for injuries and more. They often find themselves on medications to help combat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, anxiety, depression, poor sleep, and pain. If they are young, they may be dodging the prescription counter—for now.

So is there a simple solution? I wish I could wave a magic wand and improve the situation. Unfortunately, it’s not quite that easy. My magic wand is missing. The good news is that I am clearing out the unnecessary items I keep finding in my home, so maybe it will show up. In the meantime, I have some suggestions that offer hope for those who are struggling with current habits that are not serving them.

The first secret to making adjustments in your life (when it comes to your health, or anything) is to accept that you are not going to do it perfectly. Ever. Let that go and move on. I know, this is easier said than done, and it has been a struggle for me over the years. Practice new habits that improve your quality of life. Observe what happens.

The next thing you can do that will make a difference is change your mindset. The goal is to continually improve your habits so that you are eating, moving, living a little bit better than before. Do not completely turn your world upside down or follow some fad diet or cleanse or intense training that will cause you to hate your life. This behavior might make you feel better in the short term. It will come back to bite you down the road. Living in a miserable way that deprives you of life’s goodness is not sustainable. It will feel too hard and you will cave.

Be patient and celebrate every success, no matter how small it may seem. You tried a new vegetable and even liked it—awesome! You are drinking water throughout the day and not getting that headache or tired feeling in the afternoon—splendid! You now include some lean protein 3 or 4 times a day and your energy is up—how cool is that? You’ve increased the amount of sleep you typically get, so instead of 6 hours you now get 7—nice! You walked the dog an extra block—YES! Celebrate these victories and your life daily.

Whatever your challenge may be today, there are lots of people who make it their life’s work to help; people who create a vision larger than you believe is even possible, for you to gradually step into. Life coaches, financial coaches, writing coaches, personal trainers, spiritual directors, career counselors, to name a few. If you are stuck in some area of your life, begin NOW by setting a different course on your internal GPS.

If your challenge is with food (it’s always about more than the food!), health, weight and trying to balance it in a way that makes sense for you, I may be the person to help. Together, we can turn your vision into a reality that lasts a lifetime.

“It’s amazing, how far you can go; just because someone believed in you.”