Wednesday, 31 July 2013

2nd Step to Getting Healthier

So if you have successfully followed the first step for the last couple of weeks, congratulations! You have added a new healthy habit to your daily lifestyle. There may not be drastic changes in your life from drinking a glass of water everyday, but that's the whole point. Drastic changes are harder to maintain, remember it took you this many years to gain the bad habits you now have. They built up slowly and gradually, so it will take a slow and gradual process to replace them with healthier habits. Keep drinking that glass of water everyday, your body will thank you for it in the long run. :-)

So the second step I would recommend will benefit you in many ways and not just your body but also your mind. Can you spare 5 minutes in your day? Yes, that's all, just 5 minutes. Any time of the day, morning, afternoon, evening, and you can even do it while you commute to work, if you take public transit that is. It is just a 5 minute meditation. Okay, before you roll your eyes, you might like to know the benefits of doing this. Meditation can lower your blood pressure, reduce the effects of stress on your body, actually change your brain chemistry so that you will think more positively, and help you to concentrate better. Are you willing to give 5 minutes of your day for these benefits?

If you have never meditated before, no worries, I will do my best to give you a step by step guide. This is a mindfulness meditation and is easy to do.

1. Sit in a good firm chair with your feet flat on the ground and your back as straight as possible without being in pain or being uncomfortable. If you would like to try doing a full or half lotus position, you can give that a whirl, but sitting in the chair is just as good. (See Google images or search for full and half lotus positions for more information.)

2. Now that you are sitting in the chair or in a lotus stance, you want to place your hands in your lap. You take your left hand and place it palm facing up and then place your right hand on top of that again with the palm facing up. Then touch your thumbs together and place your hands in a way that your thumbs will be pointing towards your navel (bellybutton). This hand positioning might seem a little awkward at first, but you will get use to it.

My stick figure is a little stiff, you don't have to sit that rigid, just be relaxed.

3. So, now that you are in position, you close your eyes. This helps to keep you from getting distracted by things around you.

4. Think of how this meditation will benefit you and others. This portion is called finding your motivation. Just spend a few seconds of time thinking of the benefits this action of meditation will give you and those around you. If you improve your health and your mind, other people around you will benefit, too naturally. Wanting to do this meditation for positive reasons that will benefit other people not just yourself, improves our feeling of well being.

5. After your motivation, bring your attention to your breathing. Breathe through your nose. If your nose is stuffed up or you find it difficult you can breathe through your mouth. This is the important part here: You concentrate on the feeling of the air coming into your nose and going out of your nose. It may be a slight tickling feeling or a pressure in your nostrils or the rim of your nostrils, or the feeling of cool air entering and warmer air leaving, but that is what you are putting your effort on. Pay attention to the feeling in your nose or if you are breathing through your mouth on your lips of the air as you breathe in and the feeling of the air as your breath out. That is all you are concentrating on, just the feeling of the air as your breathe.

You do not follow the breath itself, but just notice the feeling at the rim of your nostril or your on lips.

Do this for 5 minutes.

6. Don't get upset if you find your mind is wandering all over the place, that is perfectly normal. Don't quit. Just simply bring your mind gently back to the feeling of your breath. You may find you need to this several times, again this is normal- you are not failing, you are in fact succeeding. This proves your mind is paying attention and working to improve your concentration as it is making you more aware.

Don't worry if you fall asleep either. You aren't doing anything wrong, in fact, your body is probably happy to be so relaxed and is taking advantage of it for a power snooze. ;-) Sleep is an important part of healing our bodies. It's all good, natural and normal. Just bring your mind back to your breathing again and enjoy being that relaxed.

7. When you think you have finished your meditation, slowly and easily come out of this state by gradually opening your eyes and stretching your body out nice and slow. You may find your eyes are watering from being deeply relaxed or maybe not, again it's whatever is natural for you.

(For anyone interested in a Buddhist meditation, you simply follow these instructions being sure to include the motivation for others and just before coming out of meditation, you can add a dedication. Dedicate your meditation session for the benefit of others, perhaps you would like to dedicate the merit to help someone you feel needs help or for all beings, it's up to you. For example, you may say to yourself: "I wish to dedicate this action of meditation to my aunt who is ill, that she may be relieved of her suffering." Anything that you wish to dedicate to benefit others. Anyone can add the dedication, you don't have to be Buddhist, although it is a Buddhist tradition. )

8. If you really need to limit your meditation to exactly 5 minutes and you are afraid of going longer than that you can set a gentle alarm. You want to keep it gentle like soft music, not harsh as this is too jarring. If you don't need to limit it to exactly 5 minutes, then do whatever length of time feels good for you.

That's it, it's that simple. By the way,I am doing this along with you, and although I have meditated for years, I must admit, I have not been able to keep up a daily routine. So once again, I'm trying to do this everyday. I am trying to meditate at the same time everyday, just after I get up for the morning. Wish me luck. I hope you give this a try if you aren't already a meditation master. ;-)

Monday, 22 July 2013

Cheese and Onion Muffins

My son loved these and devoured them very quickly. I had one, but it wasn't my cup of tea. I think I might prefer making some with real onion and figuring out the recipe myself, so that might happen in the future.

Anyway, I think they would be good with soup or a stew, to help mellow out the flavour, but as I said my son devoured like 6 of them in a matter of minutes, so it could just be my taste buds that are a problem. ;-)

Cheese and Onion Muffins 

1 package onion soup mix
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded old cheddar cheese
1 egg
1/4 cup oil

In a small bowl combine the soup mix and the milk and let it stand for 5 minutes.

In a medium sized bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Add the cheese and stir again coating the cheese with the flour mixture.

Put the egg and oil into the milk and soup mixture and beat them all together. Pour this into the dry ingredients and stir just to combine.

Spoon this batter into a well greased muffin tin and then bake at 375F for 15-20 minutes.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

A Different Cause For Weight Gain

New research is being done, and they are finding that weight gain may be your body's best defence for fighting off disease, insulin problems and maybe even toxins. I found this video from TED's Talks very interesting.

Peter Attia: What if we're wrong about Diabetes?

I found it interesting that he has found that people that do not gain weight end up with more problems associated with Diabetes, than those that do gain weight. As they have found in other studies, being in the over-weight category is the healthiest place for your body to be, as it deals with stresses and illnesses better.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Cheese Loaf

This is my son's favourite loaf of all time, he is a total cheese-aholic, if there is such a thing. haha

Cheese Loaf

3 cups  all purpose flour
4 teaspoons  baking powder
1/2 teaspoon  salt
2 cups  grated cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups  milk
2 tablespoons  butter or margarine, melted

Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and grated cheese together in a large bowl. Add the milk and melted butter and stir to form dough getting all the of the flour mixture mixed in well. (You may need to use your hands to work the dough a bit to make sure all the flour mixture is used.)

Put the dough into a well greased loaf pan. Bake at 400F for 35-40 minutes.

Remove from the pan to cool.
This loaf does not last long in our house.
Here is the first slice, so you can see the cheese which is speckled throughout the loaf.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Monster in a Box

This is a very short video of our cat, Monster trying to fit into a box that is too small for him. It's my first time making a video with my camera and using the movie maker software on my computer, so the quality isn't the best.

Well, I will have to make a video of our other cat Sebastian I guess, but he doesn't tend to get up to things nearly as much as Monster. Hope you liked the video.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Chocolate Muffins with Cream Cheese Filling

These muffins are delicious. They are little more work than the usual muffin, but not a lot and totally worth it!

Chocolate Muffins with Cream Cheese Filling

3 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons sugar

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup margarine, melted

Filling:  In a small bowl, mix the cream cheese and sugar thoroughly, until light and fluffy. Set aside.

Muffin: In a medium bowl, stir together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the centre by pushing all of the mixture to the sides of bowl, until the centre is empty.

In a small bowl or large measuring cup, combine the beaten egg, milk and melted margarine. Pour this mixture into the well of the dry ingredients. Stir the dry and wet ingredients together to moisten. The batter should be lumpy.

Into a greased muffin tin, add 2 tablespoons of muffin mix to each muffin section. Drop approximately 1 teaspoon of the cream cheese filling onto each muffin until all the filling is evenly distributed and is used up. Top each filled muffin with more batter to cover all the muffins until all the batter is used up.

Bake at 375F for 20 minutes.

Here is how they look on the inside. They are a tasty treat!

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Fresh Mandarin Orange Milkshake

This milkshake has quite a bit of pulp in it from the mandarin oranges, so if you don't like pulp, you might not want to make this.

This recipe makes enough for two milkshakes.

Fresh Mandarin Orange Milkshake

5 scoops Vanilla Ice Cream
6 Mandarin Oranges, peeled and seeded
1/4 teaspoon Real Orange Extract
1 cup Milk

Place all the ingredients into a blender and whip until completely mixed. Pour into glasses. Enjoy!

My son says this turned out more like a smoothy than a milkshake, but he really liked it. We use skim milk, so it would probably be creamier with a higher fat milk. Use whatever milk you prefer.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Rubber Duck to the Rescue

This is the funniest thing I have seen in quite some time. Just to warn you I have a bit of twisted sense of humour, but I laughed so long and so loud over the one story in this television program. I don't watch t.v., but I will watch certain shows online occasionally. This one was a beaut.

Russian Bigfoot (45 minutes long)

If you only want to watch the funny story it starts at 6:46 into the program, this story involves a female journalist.

*Spoiler Alert*

Just to warn you anything said after this point will spoil the show if haven't watched it yet, so you might want to watch the show first.

That story is hilarious, she took a rubber ducky with her into the forest to attract a neanderthal because she actually thought hunters took them hunting. She thought the rubber duck made a duck sound. The best part is thanks to her, we now know how to ward off an unwanted visit or attack from a neanderthal. I wonder if it would work against all the sasquatch type creatures everywhere? The moral of the story is: Never enter the forest without a Rubber Ducky in your pocket! lol

Monday, 15 July 2013

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

This muffin batter was very liquidy and the muffins didn't rise at all. I used frozen blueberries.

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

1 cup all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup melted margarine
3/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries

In a medium sized bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Add the oats and sugar and mix well.

In a large measuring cup or small bowl, beat the egg, milk and melted margarine together. Add to the dry ingredients and stir until moistened. Pour evenly into a muffin tin.

Bake in a 375F oven for 20-25 minutes.

I recommend baking for 25 minutes if using frozen blueberries.
I baked these muffins last night so the photos are under artificial light, hence the yellowish colour. :-/

Sunday, 14 July 2013

One Crazy Cat and One Sweet Cat Live Here

You know the old saying "One Grumpy Person and One Nice Person Live Here", well I changed that around to apply to our pet cats. Although, that saying is probably true anyway. lol

This is Monster. We were given him when he was just a tiny kitten and they asked us to keep the name they already had for him, so we did. This is the crazy cat. He is such a brat, but he makes me laugh.
If there is a box or a bag to get into, Monster will be the first one there to try. He is always looking for ways to get into trouble. lol  He has the softest fur of any cat I have ever known, so you want to pet him and cuddle him, but he doesn't like it. He is really cute so he gets away with all his shenanigans.
This is Sebastian. He is the sweet cat. He was a stray that turned up in our neighbourhood and we kept an eye on him and tried to care for him, as he was getting skinnier and more scruffy over time. Eventually, he got attacked by a neighbour's dog and he followed my son home and has stayed with us ever since.
Sebastian loves to cuddle and he loves his food! We call him the teddybear cat sometimes because he loves to cuddle so much. He is such a good a cat.
They are best buds now. Actually, they took to each other quite well right from the start. Before Sebastian moved in, he used to lie on our window sill outside and Monster would lie on the inside window sill of the same window.
We sometimes take them for walks outside, although we have a problem with too many people walking their dogs without leashes around here, so we aren't able to take them out very much.

They like to watch the squirrels outside together. That dark patch in the grass above Monster's head is a squirrel.
Or just chill out, when they aren't scuffling.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Spicy Black Bean Soup

This is a tasty and easy to make soup. This is a vegetarian version, but you don't have to make it vegetarian if you don't want to.

Spicy Black Bean Soup

1 large onion, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
1/2 teaspoon crushed chillies
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cans (540ml) black beans
1 litre  vegetable stock
3 cups frozen corn

Put olive oil in a large stock pot and heat it on medium-low heat. Add onions and red bell pepper and cook until the onion is clear. Add all the spices and mix well. Pour in the black beans including the liquid and add the vegetable stock. Turn heat up to medium and cook until boiling. Add the corn and stir well. Put a lid on the pot and return the soup to a boil. Serve.

This makes a very large pot of soup. You can always add more or less spice depending on how spicy you like things. When I spice dishes, I make them so they warm your throat up, rather than burn your tongue.

Friday, 12 July 2013

1st Step to a Healthier Lifestyle

How old are you? That is how long it has taken you to develop your current habits and lifestyle. It happened gradually over time, so don't rush into doing some fad diet or new super exercise routine (unless otherwise instructed by your doctor), as the chances are you won't stick to it. The best method is to go easy on yourself and make gradual changes that you can stick to. It can be very easy to get healthy as long as you don't beat yourself up about having immediate results. You weren't born looking and living exactly like you are now, so give yourself some slack and realize it is going to take time to get the lifestyle you want.

If you are looking to lose some weight or just interested in having a healthier lifestyle the very first step that I have learned is to drink one more cup of water a day than you do already. Add one glass of water to your day and do this for at least 2 - 3 weeks everyday until you get used to it. That's all you need to do for now. If you are already getting your 6 - 8 cups of water daily then you don't need to take this step and well done, you probably already lead a reasonably healthy lifestyle.

If you don't drink any water, then start drinking one cup a day. It is best to sip the water, not to chug it down. Try keeping a glass of water beside you if you sit at a desk and take your time drinking it or maybe have a glass of water while you watch television. You could try replacing something else you drink with that glass of water. Don't start off trying to get your 6-8 cups of water right away, as this is a drastic change from what you are use to and you might stop drinking it altogether. Go slow, and make gradual changes to your lifestyle to help you stick to those changes better.

If you are already drinking water daily, then figure out how much you are getting. If it is less than 6-8 cups try adding one more cup to your daily routine. Keep in mind that if you are eating raw fruits and vegetables, soups and other watery foods, you may be getting a good supply of water with what you eat, so try to keep it balanced.

If you are a tea or coffee drinker, you might want to try replacing one of those drinks with hot water with a bit of lemon added. This is best first thing in the morning, according to a nutritionist friend of mine.

If you don't like the non-flavour of water try adding a little lemon. Slice a lemon into quarters and squeeze one quarter into your water, hot or cold, however you prefer it. I personally, would not recommend adding flavour packets unless it is the only and I mean only way you will drink water. Try the water on it's own at first and if you won't drink it then try it with the lemon. The more natural you keep what you put in your body, the better. Adding a chemical mixture for flavour to a glass of water rather defeats the purpose of drinking it and won't be as healthy for you. If you must drink it with flavour added, try to ween yourself off the flavour packets by trying the water with lemon again and then eventually onto plain water. The healthier you get the more you will like eating and drinking healthier. Remember it is a gradual, slow change.

Most people that take on a fad diet and lose a lot of weight quickly, end up not only gaining back the weight they lost, but they gain even more weight on top of it. This is not healthy. If those people diet, lose weight, gain the weight plus more back, diet again, lose weight, gain the weight back plus more, diet again, etc... over and over again, it is called yo-yo dieting and causes a lot of health problems. For the most part, people that are selling quick weight loss diets are doing so to make money, not to try to help people. Keep your money for yourself, and stop following fad diets. Try to adapt to a healthy lifestyle, slowly and carefully so that you can make improvements over time and live the rest of your life as healthy and happy as possible.:-)

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Potato Salad

There are many different types of potato salad out there, this is how I make mine.

Potato Salad

6  eggs
8 large potatoes
1 bunch of radishes (or small bag)
1/4 cup bacon bits (real or simulated)
6-8 heaping tablespoons whipped dressing (like Miracle Whip)

Hard boil the eggs, drain and then refrigerate them to cool down.

Peel the potatoes and cut into chunks. Boil the potatoes until soft, but not mushy (you should be able to stab them with a fork easily). Drain them and rinse with cold water. When drained put them in a medium sized bowl and refrigerate to cool them down.

Remove leaves and stems from the radishes, wash them and slice them very thinly. I usually cut the radishes in half lengthwise and then slice them. Peel the eggs and wash all the shell off them carefully. Slice the eggs the same way you sliced the radishes, but not as thinly.

In the bowl of cooked potatoes, add the radish and egg slices. Pour in the bacon bits and mix. Add the whipped dressing and mix thoroughly. Refrigerate further to cool it down more if need be.

Monday, 8 July 2013

A Childhood Treasure

Time for a little craziness and fun. :-D

This is one of my favourite things from my younger years. Gosh that was so long ago, it's amazing I remember. lol

Please click on the link to watch:

I loved The Muppet Show, the original one that is.

Hope you enjoy it!

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Push Pin Re-Colour

Since I upgraded the corkboard I was given and because I am planning to decorate my home in pastel rococo colours, the push pins I have just didn't fit the new colour scheme I am slowly working on.
As you can see, these colours are just too bold for the look I am going for. So, I thought if I can re-colour bobby pins with nail polish, couldn't I re-colour push pins the same way? I chose 5 colours of polish that would go with my planned colour scheme.
Avon polishes in Pastel Pink, Vintage Blue and Luxe Lavender, as well as Essence's Café Ole and Rimmel London's Sage All the Rage were what I chose. The Café Ole matches the colours in the carpeting and trim of the apartment I live in and the other colours are the ones I will be using to decorate.
I painted over the yellow and some of the red push pins, as I don't think I need all of the push pins in the pack for my corkboard. I did about 5 pins of each colour.
Now I am just waiting for them to dry and then I can use them. I have applied two coats of polish on these pins.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Body Size Myths ~ Busted

I would like to point out some myths that could be causing you problems that you may not need in your life or myths that may have you fooled into thinking you are healthy when in fact you are not.

Thin does NOT necessarily equal fit. Fitness has nothing to do with size, but with physical ability and flexibility. If you are physically fit, yet large in size you are fit. There are thin people that are nowhere near being fit, so lets bust that myth here and now. You can be fit at any size.

Thin does NOT necessarily equal healthy. Research has pointed out that the healthiest people have a BMI of 25-33, or what the media considers overweight. Yes, that is correct. Overweight people have the healthiest bodies. I do not mean obese people, but people that would be considered around 20 pounds overweight. Their bodies are at the optimum for maintaining their health. So, if you think you just need to lose 10 or 20 pounds to have the perfect body, chances are you already do. You might want to change how you think about your body.

Thin does NOT necessarily equal having a healthy lifestyle. Look around you, do you by any chance know someone who is thin and drinks and smokes and doesn't work out? More than likely you do, and they probably don't look very healthy. I am not saying that all thin people have unhealthy lifestyles, but I am saying some of them do. There are many people that would be considered overweight that lead healthy lifestyles. Basically, your size is not a guarantee of your level of health. Take a look at your overall lifestyle and figure out for yourself if you think it is healthy or not. Your size does not necessarily indicate whether or not you are healthy.

No matter what size you are, if you lead an unhealthy lifestyle it might be time to make some changes to improve your health. If you are overweight and leading a healthy lifestyle, then maybe you don't need to lose weight. Weight is not a good indicator of health, many muscular people would be considered overweight, because muscle weighs more than fat. Leading a healthy lifestyle is far more important than what size you are or how much you weigh. 

Don't get trapped by the media hype and people trying to sell you a perfect body, they are out to make money off of you, bottom line. Remember, what is in style and the perfect body size image today can change, it happens all the time. It wasn't that long ago, when advertising and the media were trying to get women to gain weight and fill out their bathing suits to look more womanly. Pretty much all advertising is designed to undermine your confidence and make you feel bad about being yourself. Ignore the ads and work on being the healthiest and happiest you can be no matter what size you are.

For the women: Having fat is essential to a woman's body. Our bodies are naturally or biologically designed to store fat. This is a good thing, not a bad thing. This keeps us soft and curvy and healthy. If we become too thin we stop menstruating because it would be too dangerous for us to become pregnant, too unhealthy for the child. Our ability to store fat helps us maintain our health and survive crisis situations. I am totally at a loss over this trend for women to be super thin and have hard bodies with washboard stomachs. Personally, I think it looks gross, but it is so unhealthy for our bodies. It seems to me that many of the female stars in Hollywood look like thin teenage boys. They simply don't look healthy either, their skin seem to be missing that healthy glow.

Be at your best by having a healthy lifestyle. Stop worrying about having a body that matches the latest media trend. It will change anyway. Don't waste your time and money trying to achieve someone else's  standard. Use your time and money to bring more happiness into your life. If you lead a healthy lifestyle, no matter what your size, don't worry about what anyone else thinks or says about your appearance. You'll probably outlive them anyway. ;-)  heehee

Friday, 5 July 2013

Look at it Grow - Avocado Tree

It has been one week since I posted about growing a tree from an avocado pit. I thought I would share just how fast these trees grow, at least during the summer.

Here is the picture from one week ago:
And here it is today:
I have not had this tree in direct sunlight, but it is in a fairly sunny room that faces south-east. The avocado tree does bend towards the light, so keep an eye on it and rotate it to try to keep it growing straight.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Strange Noodles

This is an odd recipe that my son's father created when he was in college. The story is that he was completely out of money and had to scrounge around the kitchen to find something to eat. He found pasta, margarine, soy sauce and ground sage, so he mixed them up and called it Strange Noodles. It actually tastes good and we make it whenever we are short of groceries.
I am going to guess at the ratios of the ingredients used as we just add them without measuring, so play around with recipe until you find what works for your taste buds. Oh, and be careful how much margarine you add, as too much can ruin this dish and make it far too greasy.

Strange Noodles

4 cups                cooked pasta, according to instructions on the package
1 tablespoons     margarine
1 tablespoon      soy sauce (I prefer lite soy sauce, less salt)
1/2 teaspoon      ground sage

After draining the pasta, melt the margarine in the pot and mix in the pasta, coating it well. Add the soy sauce and sprinkle with the sage again stirring it well. Taste it to see if the portions are good for you and then adjust them accordingly. Less is best to start with, as you can always add more.
Give them a try!

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Dinner Plate Meal Plan

I was taught by a dietician to plan meal portions by using a dinner plate. This is an easy way to remember serving sizes and helps when planning meals.
It is best to have half of the plate filled with vegetables, one quarter with grains and the last quarter with meat or a meat subsitute. Another way to figure out what size of meat portion you can have is by making a fist or by the palm of your hand. The portion should be relatively the same size as one of those.

While it is best for men to have meat or a meat alternative three times a day, women are best to limit their meat intake to only two portions a day.

If you are making a one recipe meal, such as stew or soup, try to make it with these portions in mind. If you are making a meal like spaghetti and meatballs, try adding vegetables to it or have a salad at the side.

The best source of fibre is from fruits and vegetables. It is best to have at least 2 servings of fruit a day.

For more information you can check out Canada's Food Guide.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Floating Bubble

This is a really easy and fun project to do. I hope to make a couple more smaller ones, but this is all I have so far. All you need is a balloon, some wool and white glue.  Use wool in the colours your home is decorated in and you are all set. I used multi-coloured wool for this bubble.

Here is the tutorial to follow:

You could probably get your kids to make their own to decorate their rooms, although it might be a bit messy for them, but hey, that's what makes it fun! :-D