Can Downsizing be good for your health?

Many people have downsized their lifestyle, either by choice or due to issues with the US economy. In spite of this, people are still surviving! Personally, I found a lot of clutter that I could do without, which leads me to believe that many people in the US have a lot of stuff we really don’t NEED. Maybe instead of saying downsizing, we could call it right-sizing. Why? Because by getting rid of the excess, you simplify! When you simplify your life, you reduce your stress, and when you reduce your stress, your body becomes healthier.  This is a part of my theory for living a simple, healthy life!

I’ve been simplifying parts of my life over the last 8 years and in the next few months will be taking a leap of faith to try and right-size most everything.  Here are some ideas:

Question your hobbies. For example, when was the last time you picked up those rollerblades, the paint brush, those ballet slippers? Be realistic in what you will or will not do.  I recently got rid of a backpack I never used along with exercise equipment that I ended up hanging clothes on.  Have a garage sale, put things on consignment, sell cheap to your friends or donate to charity.  Get rid of the things that you aren’t using and realistically will never use.

Filter through and organize papers like magazines, letters and bills. Set yourself a limit to when something is considered old. I go through my papers monthly and if it’s over 3 months old and I haven’t gotten to it, I toss is out. If you have an option to receive these online rather than via paper, sign up for it. It’s usually cheaper and you’ll save a tree!  Set up online statements and bill pay. Set up email notifications or have it automatically pay. I’ve taken mine further where I pay my bills with one credit card that gives cash back. I reconcile it all at the end of every month by making one online payment from my checking account to my credit card.

Next, go through your clothes. If you haven’t worn it in a year, donate it. Give yourself a limit on space and any time you want to get new clothes, throw out a comparable old one.  Buy basic color pants, skirts and shoes so that you can wear them with any top. I only have a couple pairs of pants but I’m loaded with the latest tops and rotate them out as the fads change. Frankly, if I didn’t have to wear work clothes I would simplify it even more! Get rid of fabrics that don’t wash and wear.  It takes more time and money to dry clean, hand wash or dry your clothes flat.

What would life be without music, pictures, movies and books? Life wouldn’t need as much storage! With the latest technology, everyone can move their media to electronic form.  Plus pictures and books deteriorate. Scan pictures; sell old books, albums, DVDs and CDs through used book and music stores. Get an e-reader. Replace albums, CDs and DVDs with digital music and movies storing everything on a drive or in the cloud. I can’t tell you how much space you save!

Depending on your circumstances, you may be able get rid of your automobile and walk, bike, carpool or use public transportation instead. With the cost of gas and insurance these days, you could save a lot of money. If you walk or bike, you increase your fitness level along with giving yourself a way to relieve stress on your way home after a bad work day!

Finally, living space is relative. If you don’t spend a lot of time at home, why would you want a large house that requires cleaning, maintenance and yard work? Get an apartment with efficient use of space and lower utility bills. Let someone else deal with taking care of the space.

Can you imagine a life without all of this excess?

Peach blueberry smoothie!

Okay, I know I just gave you a recipe, but I just tried something new that I know you’re going to love! Plus one of my readers asked me for more recipes.

Last weekend I bought a basket of peaches from a farm’s road side stand and I just couldn’t eat them all fast enough. Some of them became too soft to bite into. I modified my usual smoothie recipe and this one blew me away! Try it!

1 peach chopped
3/4 cup frozen blueberries
2 dollops of yogurt
Ocean Spray 100% Juice blueberry/cranberry blend

Mix in a blender, adding juice until it’s the thickness you want.  I use nonfat plain yogurt, but if you have a sweet tooth, vanilla hits the spot!

Caprese Recipe

I’m getting buried in tomatoes! Last year I was just watching and waiting for tomatoes to ripen enough to eat.  This year the early heat just made the perfect growing conditions! So what am I doing besides loading up my neighbors with tomatoes?  I’m making my favorite summertime salad…..Caprese!  I actually have it for lunch, dinner or a snack. Gotta use up those tomatoes! It’s really easy to make and I always have the ingredients on standby.

Sliced tomatoes
Sliced fresh mozzarella
Fresh basil leaves
Balsamic vinegar

Lay out tomato slice first, then place a slice of mozzarella on top, add a leaf of basil and drizzle with a well aged balsamic vinegar. Some people use a dressing or add olive oil, but I prefer just a good quality vinegar on it’s own.

The yellow ones in the picture are heirloom Virginia Sweets. If you ever get a chance to try one, do it! They taste like no other tomato you ever had. Incredible!

bon appetit!

Raw cookie dough poisoning not from eggs?

Wow, this is a new one for me! For years there have been warnings not to eat raw cookie dough because the raw eggs in it could cause salmonella poisoning. In a Clinical Infectious Diseases abstract from 2009, out of sampling of 35 E.coli poisoning cases, 33 of the cases were from people who bought packaged cookie dough from the store and ate it raw rather than baking it. Although the eggs were pasteurized to kill bacteria, they suspect the E.coli came from the flour NOT being pasteurized!

Wow!  Another reason NEVER to eat raw cookie dough under ANY circumstances!

Veges are spent!

Okay, the heat has kicked in and my spring veges are toast! Lettuce, peas and squash are done giving and look terrible. Don’t leave those ugly patches in you garden! Rip out the ugly and replace them with fresh new summer vegetables!

In place of the peas, I planted climbing pickling cucumbers. In place of squash, I planted watermelon. In place of lettuce I planted bell peppers, and a cayenne pepper just for fun!

There is still plenty of time to reap the rewards of the hot weather veges!

What are they adding to my meat????

I always heard that things were added to the meats you buy at the grocery store but was surprised to find how much! The USDA is proposing a new rule that will require food additives to be listed with the product label name.  Hurray for the USDA!!

What you can usually expect to find is a certain percentage of sodium and or water, or any sauces that the meat is being marinated in. It’s surprising to find how many meats have a sodium solution injected to keep it moist and plump looking, especially with poultry.

I had an incident that may surprise you. I bought a beautiful steak from the grocery store, took it home and unwrapped it. There was a small corner of the meat that overlapped so I pulled it back. As I did this, I revealed a tell-tale sign that there was an additive on the meat to keep it from turning brown. The meat section that was under the overlap was slightly brown but everything else on the surface was a brilliant red color. As I cut into the meat. The inside was the same slight brown color.  As meat ages it naturally turns brown. Some stores will baste a chemical (sometimes a natural solution) that keeps the surface of the meat red so it will sell better.  It begs the question… old was that steak?!!!

With the new ruling, what’s been added to your meat will need to be clearly stated. This isn’t just good for those of us who want to know what’s in our food, but also for someone with health issues, like someone who has to be on a low sodium diet. In the meantime, if you have any concerns, ask your butcher if there is anything added to your meat before you buy it.  They should know.

Got the munchies

While I always felt that snacking was addictive, there is now scientific proof! If you want the details, look up Daniele Piomelli,PhD, PharmD, of the University of California-Irvine who did the study.

The theory is, if you eat something high in fat, your body releases endocannabinoids that cause you to want to snack even more! Endocannabinoids are…….you got it….a chemical similar to something you would find in marijuana! So it’s not just a myth!

I get the munchies a lot, especially when I’m trying to taper down after going off my normal eating routine for a few days. Rather than starving myself, here are a few tricks I’ve come up with.

Eat 8 almonds – count them since there is fat, but its good fat and will usually keep you from being hungry until your next meal.

Pop air pop popcorn – You can eat a whole bowl full if you don’t add butter!

Eat fruit – some that are sweet enough to curb the cravings include dates, bananas, blueberries, Asian pears, peaches, watermelon and many more.

Eat ½ cup non or lowfat yogurt – get your calcium in, help your digestive system and if you pick the lower fats you’ve limited calories.

Hope this gives you some ideas!

Red, White and Blue

Happy 4th of July!

Here is a quick, easy healthy snack with a patriotic bend!

1/2 cup strawberries sliced (red), 1 cup lowfat vanilla yogurt (white) and 1/2 cup fresh blueberries (blue)

For a great dessert you can put the yogurt on a cookie, donut, slice of pound cake or a low fat angel food cake slice and top with berries!

Beat the heat!

So many states over 100 degrees right now it’s crazy! I really feel for those without air conditioning! Hang in there all!!! I’m no expert, but I’ve heard a lot of recommendations on what to do in an overheated situation. Here it is:

1. Drink LOTS of water. Sports drinks are overrated for their ability to help. The sugar and salts can do more bad than good. The ultimate life giving liquid is water.
2. Wear light colored, thin, loose fitting clothes. If you have to be in the sun all day, wear long sleeves. Shading the skin with clothes may keep you from dehydrating from sun and wind exposure.
3. Move less. When you move, your body is generating it’s own heat. Staying still will lower your body temperature. I know you want to keep up your exercise routine, but if you have to be exposed to these temperatures for a portion of your day, better to take it easy.
4. Submerge in water. Children’s play pools aren’t just for kids when it comes to trying to get cool! Get out the garden hose and spray away! Or get a misting bottle if you are inside.
5. Put a cool wet washcloth on your neck. A lot of blood rushes through this area and takes it to the rest of your body. Other areas on your body that are said to work is your back, armpits and high between your legs.
6. Turn on a fan.  If your skin is moist with sweat or water, air moving around you will lower your body temperature.
7. Cook with the microwave. Turning on your oven or stove will raise the temperature in  your house. Better yet, only make cold meals. Keep your body temperature down.
8. Don’t forget about your pets! They can suffer too! Keep them inside and give them plenty of water. Let them share the baby pool with you!

How do you know if you are too hot? First you will suffer dehydration resulting in your body not being able to control your temperature anymore. Then if your body temperature reaches 105, you have heat stroke!

Some tell tale signs you are in trouble? You get a headache, nauseated or throw up. You start to get confused or feel like you are drunk. You get dizzy or even faint. You know you are in deep trouble if you get heart palpitations, or when you stop sweating!

Don’t mess with this! If you start getting these symptoms, get to the doctor fast! You can die from heatstroke because it effects every organ in your body. Remember, water is the liquid of life, and if it’s gone from the body, it can’t function. Take it seriously!

I hope this helps, I know it’s been helpful for me.  I hope milder days are coming for you soon. Until then, keep cool!