Dark Chocolate Can Make You Happy and Healthy

Dark Chocolate Can Make You Happy and Healthy

“After all, it’s healthy right?”

A common response to dark chocolate.  It’s usually followed by a short laugh because most people have heard about chocolate being healthy however few know the details.  Nutrition is a challenging area within the employer ecosystem. 

 Though we joke about dark chocolate it actually IS a healthy food.

  • What is it about dark chocolate that’s so healthy?

Dark Chocolate contains flavonoids, a type of antioxidant that helps our cells resist damage from everyday exposure from junky foods, pollution, stress, etc. Dark chocolate has also been known to help the heart with lowering blood pressure and improving blood flow to the brain.

  • What exactly IS dark chocolate?  

Dark Chocolate, unlike milk chocolate, is also known as “bittersweet” or “semisweet” chocolate. It contains a high percentage (> 60%) of cocoa solids, and little or no added sugar.   You’ll notice that dark chocolate tends to be rich and intense in flavor.  

NEWS ALERT*** You don’t have to rely on dark chocolate to get the benefits of the flavonoids.    Other foods containing flavonoids include cranberries, apples, peanuts, onions, tea, many green vegetables and red wine.  

CAUTION: NOT ALL DARK CHOCOLATE IS CREATED EQUAL

Most commercial chocolate is highly processed and won’t hold up to the great benefits noted above.  If you want healthy, good chocolate, follow these steps:

  1. Choose Chocolate With High Percentages of Cocoa – 60% cocoa, is the base percentage for dark chocolate. The higher the percentage of cocoa,the darker the chocolate and the greater the health benefits you’ll receive.
  2. Get a High Quality Chocolate  – Your dark chocolate is only as good as the cocoa.  Choose chocolate made from “organic” or “fairly traded” cocoa beans.  
  3. Opt For Raw Chocolate When Available – Raw chocolate also known, as raw cocoa, is actually the best. It has been cold pressed to preserve as much antioxidant content as possible.
  4. Be Thoughtful About Calories – Watch out for extra ingredients that can add extra fat and calories like caramel and marshmallow covered chocolate.  Since there is no serving size, enjoy moderate portions such as 1-ounce of chocolate, a few times a week.  

On a side note some wines have flavonoids also, but we’ll save that for another conversation. In the meantime eat dark chocolate and be healthy and happy!  

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Sylvia’s Opinion on Coconut Oil

Sylvia’s Opinion on Coconut Oil

By now we’ve all heard the buzz about Coconut Oil. Is it good for me or is it bad for me?

The primary criticism about coconut oil is that it is a saturated fat. You are likely familiar with the saturated fats in meat and how too much is bad for your heart.

There’s been a lot of new research on coconut oil and despite it being a saturated fat, we are finding that is has some positive health benefits.

  • A different type of saturated fat (medium-chain) and tends to metabolize quicker and is harder for us to store.
  • Great energy source
  • Eliminates disease and lower inflammation.
  • High smoke point which means you can cook at higher heats than many other polysaturated or monosaturated oils.

Sounds good, right?! And it is. Just like anything else….variety and moderation is key.  Here are 5 ways I use it:

  1. My oil of choice when I want to add an earthy flavor to my stir-fry.
  2. A ½ teaspoon in my morning coffee cuts the acidity and provides a nice flavor.
  3. When baking, I used 1:1 in place of butter to deliver a lower cholesterol and vegan muffin.
  4. It’s a wonderful moisturizer and it’s natural.
  5. Add to my bath along with any other oils. Coconut oil is a good skin conditioner and a contributor to a relaxing bath.

Be sure to purchase 100% organic coconut oil.  It can get expensive so consider buying in bulk from your healthy food store.

Spring Refresher

Spring Refresher

I was in the 20th year of my career.  My current job required a 2 hour commute each day. I left my home at 6 a.m. and didn’t return until at least 6 p.m. that evening.  That left me only 12 hours each day to have dinner, attend to my family, exercise and sleep.  I was absolutely exhausted at the end of my work day, my eating choices became poor, exercise rarely happened, relaxation was non-existent, and issues with my 50 year old body made sleep almost impossible.  I pushed on.

Maybe I should eat better and exercise during my work day?  So now my lunch hour which previously included working and eating lunch at my desk became running to the gym, rushing through a workout, then eating the same boring salad every day.  I ridiculously was trying to cram 30 hours into a 24 hour day.  Sound familiar?

Well one day my body just said “NO!”  It told me I needed to seriously pay attention to my lifestyle and the unrealistic demands I was requiring of myself. .  Our bodies say “NO!” in a variety of ways including:

  • Illness,
  • Injury
  • Pure Exhaustion

Related to Poor Meal Choices, Too Much Stress, and The Wrong Exercise. When it happened to me, I IMMEDIATELY FELT DEFEATED, OLD, OUT OF SHAPE, and FAT. Yes, many of us take ourselves through this process on a regular basis, but here’s a solution.  I’m sharing some simple anchors for longer term change.

1- Make Coffee a PART of Breakfast, NOT all of Your Breakfast

Shannon’s story:  Having coffee by itself, first thing in the morning contributed to my hormones being out of whack. Incorporating a healthy breakfast, along with my coffee, increased my energy. Focusing on eating first thing in the morning made me care more about what I ate for the rest of the day.

2- Do Absolutely Nothing for 15 Minutes Each Day

Baxter’s story:  I told my family that when I get home, they need to give me time to just relax.  And they actually did it! I wouldn’t plan, I wouldn’t read, no email…I just sat and looked out the window and took a breath. It became my 15 minute vacation.  I felt relaxed and I’m sure I was more fun to be around. Amazing!

3- Only Do Exercise That Makes You Feel Good

April’s story:  I hated going to the gym so I found a dance class.  I now go to my dance class 5 days a week – no matter what. No more hardcore workouts.  I walk.  I enjoy it and my body feels wonderful. The last Saturday of each month, me and a friend check out a workout we never did before.  Last month was anti-gravity yoga.  This month it’s hula hooping.

I invite you to choose an anchor or create one of your own that makes your body feel GREAT!

Is Juicing for Breakfast Another Diet Scam

Is Juicing for Breakfast Another Diet Scam

Several weeks ago I had a stomach bug that latest for two weeks.  During that time, the only “food” I could handle was liquid food.  I had juice, coconut water, tea, water, and often mixed it with my organic green powder which is full of veggies, flax seed, and protein.  When I finally got over my nasty stomach bug, I had a new appreciation for juice, particularly in the morning.  Since then I start my day with a juice that I’ve  made using organic fruits and vegetables and always include my green powder for some extra veggies and protein.

What I’ve found, is that I truly appreciate the energy and lightness that I get from a morning juice.  But it won’t be worth it if we overlook a few critical steps.  If you’re juicing, or thinking about it, here are some healthy steps.

Use organic fruit and vegetables – The quickest way to get something into our body and organs is to make it a liquid.  If we use NON-organic fruits and vegetables, then we absorb all of those pesticides and GMOs into our system, quickly.  I don’t think that’s what  we have in mind.  Buy organic when you’re juicing.  It’s critical!

Pay Attention to the Sugar – Too many fruits, vegetables, or using fruit juice as a base are all ways to blow our daily sugar and calorie limit.  I limit my juice to 1 to 1-1/2 pieces of fruit and a handful of veggies.  Using a base that is low in calories such as water, coconut water, green tea, or unsweetened almond milk gives me lower calories while providing some variety to my routine.  

Add Some Protein – I always recommend you balance your carbohydrate with a fat or protein.  Adding a protein to my morning juice helps balance blood sugar while leaving us filling fuller until it’s time for lunch.  Remember to choose a powder that is organic and low in calories.  

Have fun –  Be creative.  Use fruits, vegetables and spices like ginger, cinnamon and tumeric.

I would really like to hear about about your recipes!  Please be sure to share recipes and pictures in the comments area below.

Two Minutes to Eliminate Stress

Two Minutes to Eliminate Stress

We’ve all had those days when we’re so busy that we don’t see how we’ll get everything done in a day. I had one of those moments last week. I had a couple of training presentations to complete and a presentation to prepare. I had it all handled until my wi-fi went down.

We’ve all had our stress situations and the more we start rushing, usually the worse the situation becomes.

Remember the phrase “Just Breathe?” It has a lot of substance. Breathing gives us the best avenue to insert some calm into the situation. With calm comes an increased ability to think more clear, maintain our pleasant personalities (no one likes us when we’re stressed and irritable), and keep our blood pressure at healthy levels.

Try alternate nostril breathing.  Here’s how it works:

  1. Close the right nostril with your right thumb and inhale through the left nostril. Do this to the count of four seconds.
  2. Immediately close the left nostril with your right ring finger and little finger, and at the same time remove your thumb from the right nostril, and exhale through this nostril. Do this to the count of eight seconds. This completes a half round.
  3. Inhale through the right nostril to the count of four seconds. Close the right nostril with your right them and exhale through the left nostril to the count of eight seconds. This completes one full round.

Start by doing three rounds, adding one round per week until you are doing seven rounds.

Alternate nostril breathing helps with focus and inserts some calm. Many times that’s all we need to get through some wackiness.

Directions courtesy of www.HolisticOnline.com