Monday, March 21, 2011

Wholesome Eats - 2

We LOVE these tasty Energy Bars! They are easy to make, high in protein, and freeze well. They are great for lunches, desserts, kids snacks, and are especially helpful for those that are always on the run, or skip meals. (tsk. tsk.) All of the nut/seed ingredients are easily found in the bulk section of Fred Meyer or your local health food store. Give them a try and let us know what you think!



1 c. sesame seeds
2 c. rolled oats
1 c. coconut
1/2 c. sunflower seeds (unsalted)
1/2 c. chopped cashews
1/2 c. slivered or chopped almonds
1/8 c. chia seeds (optional)
1/2 raisins, craisins, or dried cherries, blueberries or dates
1 c. peanut or almond butter
1 c. honey
2 tsp. vanilla


Mix together first 8 ingredients in large bowl. Combine peanut/almond butter, honey, and vanilla in separate bowl. Drizzle over nut/seed mixture until well coated. Press into 9x13 baking dish. Cover and bake at 350' for 15 minutes. Allow to cool, and cut into squares. ENJOY!

Thanks to Jaydene F. for sharing the recipe!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

LOL (Laugh Out Loud)


You've heard the saying, "Laughter is the best medicine," right? But have you ever thought about just how true that can be?

Stress is one of our major killers. It effects us both physically and mentally which wears down our immune systems and makes us susceptible to many illnesses and disease. Stress causes our bodies to increase production of  hormones such as cortisol, epinephrine, and dopamine, as well as growth hormone. But when we laugh, a physiological change occurs in our bodies, that helps to ease pain and reduce stress.


While visiting friends recently, my wife and her teammate found themselves in a losing game of pinochle. And by losing, I mean somewhere in the -600 range on the scorecard. She says,

"I am not a fan of losing, especially to my husband who was on the opposite team, and so naturally I was in a really bad mood. Every glance at that score sheet, and each of Joe's ill-attempts to hide his self-righteous grin only made things worse. My poor team partner saw my snappy attitude as encouragement for a change in scenery, so she proceeded to turn on some music and join her husband in a hilarious dance routine, which was only made funnier by her pregnant belly. I laughed so hard my stomach ached, and I couldn't dry my watery eyes fast enough to not miss any of the show. The mood totally changed after that wonderful laugh, and even though we lost the next game by about the same margin, I knew I just needed to see that dance routine one more time and everything would be better."

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Many studies have been conducted on volunteers which measure blood pressure levels, hormone fluctuation, immune activity and cholesterol levels during and after they watched funny videos. The results of one such study conducted by Loma Linda University's Dr. Lee Berk and Dr. Stanley Tan, titled the 'Laughter-Immune Connection,'  showed increased activity in interferon-gamma in blood samples, (IFN activates T cells, B cells, immunoglobulins, and Naural Killer cells, fights viruses, and regulates cell growth.) which suggests that laughing boosts your immune system and increases your resistance to disease.

Another of  Berk and Tan's studies showed that repetitive laughter has some of the same effects on the body as exercise. Tests administered to the volunteers in the study showed that laughter affects blood pressure, hormone levels and endorphines in much the same way that exercise does. When you exercise, your heart rate increases, and you breathe faster, which sends more oxygen to your brain, and oxygenates your blood. Laughter can have the same affect.

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Perhaps most benefically, laughter releases endorphines in our brain, which are our body's natural pain blockers. A study published in the Journal of Holistic Health showed that patients who were told one-liners during surgical recovery, and before pain medication was administered, perceived less pain when compared to post-surgical patients who didn't receive a dose of humor as part of their care. 

I have recently made a habit of searching for laughter-inducing materials to reduce my own anxiety and stress levels. A funny video, a book of jokes, or reading through my wife's records of the funny things my kids say causes my attitude to improve, and my outlook to become brighter. So find your favorite stand-up comedian on YouTube and have a chuckle....or listen to these contagious laughs for fast, free stress relief.





'With the fearful strain that is on me day and night, if I did not laugh I should die.' 
- Abraham Lincoln

'A merry heart doeth good like a medicine, but a broken spirit drieth the bones.'  -Proverbs 17:22

'The most wasted day is one without laughter.' - EE Cummings

'Laughter is an instant vacation.' - Milton Berle



Sources:
Humor and Health - Paul E McGhee, PhD. 
Laugh If This Is A Joke  - Lars Ljungdahl (JAMA) 
The Laughter-Immune Connection - Dr. Lee Berk, PH, MPH; and Dr. Stanley Tan, MD, PhD
Laughter Is The Best Medicine - Melinda Smith, MA; Gina Kemp, MA; and Jeanne Segal, PhD.
Humor in Healthcare - Alice Facente, RN, MSN  (JHN)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Wholesome Eats


When we began to learn more about what foods were beneficial and which of our everyday staples should be eliminated from our diets, we found ourselves in search of new recipes to add to our family menu plan. An online search led us to many great recipe collections, including our favorite site, Allrecipes.com. We've been pleasantly surprised by many new recipes we've tried, and want to share some of the ones that have received the highest ratings at our house for being nutritionally beneficial AND tasty. We will post "Wholesome Eats", a bi-weekly update of our most recent favorites for you to try at home, so check in for the newest recipe!


*Some recipe ingredients have been modified to include healthier alternatives in place of unsuitable options, and may not reflect the original online version.*


One of our all-time favorites is this Black Bean Quinoa Salad. Quinoa is a nutty grain from South America that is high in protein, full of amino-acids, and is gluten free. It also has a very low glycemic index. Many retailers have added Quinoa to their shelves due to it's recent rise in popularity, but we've found that Costco offers the best deal on Organic Quinoa - a 4lb bag for $10.

Quinoa is a great substitute for potatoes, white rice, and other filler foods we tend to put on our plates. It makes a great addition to soups and salads, and is tasty served hot or cold. Give it a try!


Quinoa and Black Beans
Serves 8-10




Ingredients




1 teaspoon coconut oil (my personal preference over vegetable oil)
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth (organic, otherwise you are likely to get added MSG)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup frozen corn kernels (organic if possible to avoid genetically modified corn)
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Shredded cheese (Optional)


Directions


Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic, and saute until lightly browned.
Mix quinoa into the saucepan and cover with the vegetable broth. Season with cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes,
Stir frozen corn into the saucepan, and black beans and continue to simmer until heated through. (About 5 min.) Top each serving with cilantro and cheese, and enjoy!


If you give this, or any other recipe on our site a try, we'd love to hear what you thought of it. Please click on the envelope icon below, and leave a comment!


*Recipe courtesy of http://www.allrecipes.com/


Friday, February 18, 2011

Good Fat, Bad Fat



Food labels on American grocery store shelves list a muriad of oils as ingredients. Packaged foods are fried, cooked, marinated and slathered with oils. Canola oil, sunflower oil, cottonseed, vegetable, or soybean oil,... and partially-hydrogentated oils.

Do you know which of these oils are dangerous and which are beneficial to your body? When we cook at home, we have many oil options available, but what is the best choice for our health?


I bet you have your hand in the air, right?
"Extra virgin olive oil", you say?
Sometimes. Olive oil has recently been portrayed as the healthiest oil, but this title does not extend to cooking. While it has many health benefits such as reducing the risk of colon cancer, heart disease and gallstone formation, like most other oils, olive oil breaks down and forms free radicals when heated, which are carcinogenic (cancer causing) and very harmful to our bodies. Olive oil is a smart fat to include in your diet in a non-heated form for uses such as salad dressings or bread dipping, but not for cooking.





Of all the available oils, there is only one that is stable enough to resist heat-induced damage, because it is nearly a completely saturated fat.
Coconut oil.
It helps you lose weight, promotes heart health, and helps maintain normal cholesterol levels. However, most coconut oils on the market are processed, bleached, deoderized, and also have all their nutrients removed during their processing. This forces removal of vitamins and minerals from your body to help digest the stripped hydrogenated oils.
It is important to purchase a coconut oil brand that is pure and natural, organic, unrefined and highly stable.
Dr. Mercola, a natural health expert, has reviewed many brands of coconut oil, and recommends Extra Virgin Coconut Oil by Fresh Shores. He goes into great detail on the subject of coconut oil on his website, and addresses the common misconception regarding saturated fats.

As you can see on the chart below, oils are judged according to the levels of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and saturated fats they contain. Monounsaurated fats are inherently more stable than polyunsaturated fats. Olive oil is primarily a monounsaturated fat, but because of its high levels of oleic acid, it creates an imbalance on the cellular level which has been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer and heart disease. Polyunsaturated fats are the worst to cook with for several reasons. Oils high in polyunsaturated fats include canola, corn, soy, and safflower. These oils are largely genetically modified, (GMO) and undergo a hydrogenation process which introduces dangerous trans-fatty acids. These acids increase the dangers of many chronic diseases, such as cancers and heart disease.

Type of OilMonunsaturatedPolyunsaturatedSaturated
Canola58.929.67.1
Coconut5.81.886.5
Corn12.758.724.2
Flaxseed22744
Grapeseed16.169.98.1
Olive778.413.5
Palm379.349.3
Palm Kernel11.41.681.5
Peanut46.23216.9
Safflower12.673.49.6
Sesame39.741.714.2
Soybean23.357.914.4
Source: www.Virgintogo.co.uk

This brings me to the subject of partially hydrogenated oils. What are they, and how do they harm our bodies?

Hydrogenated oils = trans fats.

These oils are processed through bubbling hydrogen at high temperatures which creates the unnatural fatty acids I mentioned, called trans-fatty acids. The liver sees trans fats as toxic waste, and proceeds to detoxify and eliminate them. Trans-fats are one of the most toxic wastes that can be inside your body. Trans fats double the risk of heart disease in women, and not only raise total cholesterol levels, they also deplete good cholesterol, (HDL's) that protect the body from disease.

Hydrogenated oils are found in 95% of cookies, 75% of chips and crackers, 70% of cold cereals and cake mixes, and 80% of all frozen breakfast foods. Do your body a 'ginormous' favor- read your food labels and avoid all sources of partially hydrogenated oils. Cook with extra virgin coconut oil in it's most natural state, and use olive oil in your diet as a non-heated oil.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Sun...Hurtful or Healthful?


Ah, the sun. Remember what the warmth of the sun feels like on your skin? Remember how it tingles, and energizes every pore? Where did it go?

It seems almost cruel to talk about sunshine this time of year. It's been a long time since we saw the sun. Here on the rainy west coast, a break in the clouds sends my wife into a frantic dash to soak up the very brief rays before the clouds consume them again. But shouldn't she be avoiding those harmful UV rays??

For many years we have been told to limit sun exposure, glob on copius amounts of chemical laden sunscreen, and to keep the tender skin of our children away from harmful cancer causing rays. Is this really what's best for us??? The sun is our major source of Vitamin D3, which 85% of the American public is seriously deficient in.


Many of us notice a decrease in energy, and a more lethargic or depressed mood during the long winter months. Our bodies respond to the shorter days and increased darkness during the winter by producing an increase of melatonin. Melatonin is the mood-regulating hormone that modulates the body's internal clock, or circadian rhythms, bringing us down gently at night for sleep. Mood swings, food cravings, and insomnia are influenced by Melatonin. Vitamin D levels are inversely related to those of melatonin. Sunlight shuts melatonin production off, while triggering the release of Vitamin D, which serves many vital functions in the body.

Vitamin D, is actually a hormone itself, the most powerful hormone in your body, rather than a vitamin. Vitamin D plays a vital role in a maintaining a healthy immune system, decreasing the risks of high blood pressure, maintaining blood calcium levels, and promoting healthy insulin secretion and glucose tolerance, and is a potent antibiotic, so it makes sense that Vitamin D positively influences diseases such as:


SO, the question is, HOW do we get our Vitamin D this time of year when we are spending most of our time indoors, or under cloudy skies? And how much Vitamin D is necessary?


The BEST source of vitamin D is through unfiltered sun exposure. 15 minutes of daily sun exposure in the early morning or late afternoon sun on bare arms, legs, and face is enough for most light-skinned individuals to create an ample supply of vitamin D. Those with darker skin may require up to 40 minutes of daily exposure. But leave your sunscreen inside!






Since winters in the northwest prevent us from enjoying the benefits of natural sunlight, it is important for us to be getting our Vitamin D through a quality supplement. 2,000 IU per day is a safe amount for some individuals, while most people need quantities closer to 5,000 IU per day. The only way to know exactly how much Vitamin D your body needs is by testing the levels of vitamin D found in your blood. Ideally, your test results should show blood levels of 25 OH D at 60 ng/ml.

So, what is the best Vitamin D supplement to take? My recommendation is to find an organic supplement that is from a natural source, lanolin or high quality fish. Usually the health food store is your best option. Many supplements are synthetically made, and not absorbed fully by your body. They won't specifically mention their synthetic manufacturing process, but the lower grade vitamin D brands are ones typically found in the grocery store.


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Year's Food for Thought


Tradition dictates that every 365 days, we make our lists of lifestyle changes as we hang our new year's calendars. What will it be this year? Exercise more, lose weight, stop smoking, eat more veggies? Then March rolls around and Craigslist is flooded with used exercise equipment that people realize they aren't ever going to use, and the idea of giving up our addictive habits is too much for some of us to bear. So, in the (slightly altered) words of the 'Auld Lang Sine' author, Robert Burns....

'Should (res-o-lutions) be forgot, and never brought to mind??'

Not at all!!

Instead of making radical changes to our lifestyles that are hard to achieve, consider simpler goals that are easier to implement. Since we all want a healthier, happier body, a great place for most of us to start is to consider adding more Negative Calorie Foods to our diets. These foods are not only healthy,they use more calories to digest than the calories the foods actually contain! They can be eaten in unlimited quantities and even make you feel full!


Apples are one of the most popular negative calorie foods out there, simply because they are delicious and cheap. A medium apple contains about 80 calories, depending on the variety, and our bodies burn about 100 calories to digest them, and even more as we prepare, eat, and eliminate them. Apples also contain high levels of flavanoids which have been shown to reduce the risks of some cancers.



Pickles are, of course, cucumbers. Cucumbers contain approx. 16 calories per cup, with pickles scoring a few calories higher. Because our bodies burn much more than 16 calories to consume and digest a cucumber, they are a "negative calorie food." My family are personally big fans of pickles and cucumbers, especially the ones my wife cans because they do not contain preservatives, added sugar, (which adds calories) or artificial food coloring chemicals.





Ah, the carrot. One of the sweetest vegetables in the garden. A carrot charts in at 32 calories which, you guessed it, is less than we need to consume it. Carrots are 90% water, which is why eating them makes you feel full with less calories consumed. The water in some fruits and veggies take up space in your stomach, causing you to feel full, and stop eating. Water, is the most effective appetite control substance in the world.
Not to mention, you've probably heard that carrots are an excellent source of beta-carotene and vitamin C, right?




Dark leafy greens, such as lettuce and spinach contain only 7 calories per cup, with lighter colored lettuces (iceberg) scoring much lower, but also lacking nutrients. Use caution with salad dressings, however, as they can add as much as 200 calories per tablespoon, and often contain other dangerous additives such as MSG and soybean oil.



Blueberries are an important part of a healthy diet. The calorie count in blueberries aren't exceptionally low, at 81 calories per cup of unthawed berries, but low enough to make it a negative calorie food. The high levels of antioxidant activity in fresh blueberries make them well worth every calorie. In the Vancouver area, blueberries are a large u-pick crop. If you do pick your own, (it's a great activity to do with children, as most farms will let you eat while you pick) find an organic farm, or one that does not spray their berries. Blueberries are a thin skinned fruit and absorb more pesticides and sprays than thicker skinned fruits.



Asparagus is one of the most nutritionally well balanced vegetables in existence. Asparagus contains less than 4 calories per spear, and is high in essential nutrients such as folic acid, vitamin B6, thiamin, and potassium. Asparagus is easy to prepare, and tasty with simple seasonings. Consider a light sprinkling of sea salt and broiling until tender for an excellent snack or side dish.






Celery is 95% water, so it fills you up without adding calories, and contains only 19 calories per cup. Some say you burn more calories just chewing this crunchy snack than it contains! Even though celery contains no contributing calories, it does contain powerful medicine. Celery has been shown to be a powerful anti-inflammatory, and also contains the flavanoid, apeginin, which researchers from Brigham and Womens and Harvard Medical Center have found may greatly reduce a woman's risk of ovarian cancer.






While Grapefruit may not be a really low calorie food, with approx. 50 calories per 3 3/4" diameter half, it contains an antioxidant called naringenin, which triggers the liver to break down fat! When consumed as part of a weight loss strategy, grapefruits are truly an essential part of your diet.




If you eat more of these negative calorie foods, you'll reap the benefits of calorie reduction without the suffering. So fill your cart with these beneficial fruits and veggies and your body will thank you!
What are YOUR 2011 New Year's resolutions?? Let's make them count!



The Quest for Balanced Living - Vancouver Washington


Welcome to 'The Quest for Balanced Living' a chiropractic blog dedicated to helping readers create happier, healthier lifestyles through proper nutrition, exercise, and mental health.


I am Dr Joe, of Balanced Living Chiropractic in beautiful Vancouver Washington. I enjoy keeping up with the most up-to-date research topics, and relaying that information to those who are interested. It is now more important than ever to educate ourselves and seek information that will help us make good decisions regarding our own health and well-being.

I hope you find our blog both informative and interactive. We welcome comments from all our readers. Please feel free to share your experiences, add your two cents, provide feedback and/or suggest topics that you would like to hear more about. This post is the first of many addressing natural health and wellness, so check in regularly for updates on current health related topics that will have an impact on your life.

To learn more about Balanced Living Chiropractic,
and Dr. Joseph Perin, please visit our website at
or contact us as noted below:

Balanced Living Chiropractic
6405 NE 116th Ave.
Suite 106
Vancouver, WA 98662
(360) 597-4784