Five Tips for Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

Do you have a hard time falling asleep? Do you wake up too often? Do you wake up in the morning and not feel rested? Improve the quality and quantity of your sleep by following these easy tips:

  1. Develop a sleep ritual. Having a routine is very important. For our children, for example, we read them a few books, make sure they brush their teeth, use the bathroom, put on clean pajamas, and then we put them to bed. Hey, how about we do that for ourselves? Maybe you can add taking shower and listening to relaxing music.
  2. Calm your mind and body. Read a relaxing magazine or book. Thrillers and suspense novels will just wind you up. Try making To-Do lists. It’s almost impossible to go to sleep if you’re thinking about all of the things that you need to do the next day. So write your tasks down on a piece and set it on the kitchen counter or in your office. Out of sight, out of mind.
  3. Avoid eating or drinking late at night. Foods rich in carbohydrates will raise your blood sugar and keep you awake while drinking liquids will increase the frequency of getting up at night to use bathroom.
  4. Make your bedroom a calming place. This might sound like something from an episode of HGTV, but it really works. Start by replacing harsh lighting with gentler light bulbs. In place of vibrant colors on your walls, window curtains, or bedding try soothing neutral colors. Lastly, removing clutter will make your room feel calmer and even feel bigger.
  5. Sleep in complete darkness. Even a little bit of light can disrupt your circadian rhythms and your body’s production of melatonin.

BPA in womb linked to childhood behavior

In the last few years, I have included several articles about bispehnol-A, a chemical used primarily in the production of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. BPA is found in a wide variety of common products including CDs and DVDs, electronic equipment, automobiles, sports safety equipment, reusable food and drink containers, and medical devices. Because of its toughness and ability to withstand high heat, BPA is often used in protective liners of food containers, in water and infant bottles, and in other food packaging. Why are people concerned? Some animal studies report effects to fetuses and newborns that have been exposed to BPA. In the November 7, 2009 issue of Science News magazine, an article explains how prenatal exposure to bisphenol-A is linked with behavior changes in 2-year-old children. READ MORE

Meatball and Garbanzo Stew

meatball-garbanzo-stew

Ingredients

1 tablespoon vegetable oil**
2 large onions, cut in thin lengthwise slices
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
4 beef bouillon cubes
1 cup ketchup or chili sauce
1 teaspoon oregano leaves
6 cups cooked* or 4 cans (15 oz.) garbanzo beans, drained
4 medium zucchini, cut in 1/4 inch slices

Meatball Mixture
1-1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 teaspoon oregano leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
(Mix all ingredients together.)

*2 cups dry makes 6 cups cooked.
**Omit oil if using non-stick cookware.

Directions

Roll meatball mixture into 24 equal balls. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add meatballs; cook, turning, until well browned. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon. To the pan add onions and garlic; cook, stirring until limp. Add 2 cups water, bouillon cubes, ketchup, oregano and garbanzos. Cover and simmer 10 minutes. Return meat to pan. Add zucchini and cook just until zucchini is tender, about 10 minutes. Makes 9-1/2 cups. Recipe from California Dry Bean Board

Chicken-Pineapple Stir-Fry

If you are looking for some new pungent fall flavors to warm you up, try this delicious stir-fry flavored with Chinese 5 Spices and Hoisin Sauce!

chicken-pineapple-stir-fry

Ingredients
3 Tbsp Hoisin Sauce
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp. Chinese Five Spices spice mix
1 1/2 lbs. chicken – cut up in small pieces
2 Tbsp peanut oil
2 Tbsp chopped ginger
1 green onion (chopped; separate green from white parts)
2-3 small carrots, chopped in small pieces
3 stalks celery, chopped in small pieces
1 red or green pepper, chopped in medium pieces or strips
5-6 mushrooms, sliced
2 cups pineapple, cut in slices or chunks 
Approx 1 cup water or can use chicken broth for more flavor
2 tsp rice vinegar (optional)
Rice

Directions
1. Combine first four ingredients in a mixing bowl. Cut up all veggies and have all other ingredients close at hand.
2. Heat oil in wok or stainless steel skillet on high heat until it begins to “smoke”.
3. Stir fry ginger and white parts of onion for 30-45 seconds
4. Add chicken and stir fry for 1-2 minutes.
5. Add hard veggies: carrot, celery – stir fry a minute or two
6. Add pepper, mushrooms, pineapple, and water or broth plus rice vinegar
7. Cover with a mesh screen and let steam for approx. five minutes. 
*If you don’t have a mesh screen, use a lid, but let some steam escape out the side.
8. When veggies are cooked to desired tenderness and sauce is reduced 
down a bit take from the heat and let sit for a minute or so to encourage the sauce to set up a little.
9. Serve over rice 
10. Sit back and savor the flavors as you admire the beautiful fall colors!

4 Exercise Myths

Although some old fitness fictions, such as “no pain, no gain” and “spot reducing” are fading fast, plenty of popular exercise misconceptions still exist.

Here are four exercise myths revealed:

Exercise Myth 1. Strength training will bulk me up. Getting “bulked up” is a function of diet (lots of calories), genetics (lots of testosterone), and heavy weight lifting (lots of grunting). As a matter of fact, strength training helps maintain muscle mass and decrease body fat percentage.

Exercise Myth 2. If you’re not working up a sweat, you’re not working hard enough. Sweating is not necessarily an indicator of exertion; it’s your body’s way of cooling itself. Sitting outside on a hot and sunny day (that would be nice right about now) can make you sweat. It’s also possible to burn calories without breaking a sweat. Just try walking.

Exercise Myth 3. Exercise Is the best way to lose weight. Exercise is one way to lose weight, but alone cannot guarantee your ideal weight. Long term and safe weight management is most effective when coupled with proper diet and nutrition.

Exercise Myth 4. There is one perfect workout routine. In my opinion, it’s all about moving more. Whether you go to the gym, dance, walk your dog, garden, or chase your spouse around the house, the best workout is whatever activities you enjoy and will do consistently.

Autumn Exercise

Autumn

Shorter days and cooler nights tell me that Autumn is here. It’s also reminder that we need to get outdoors as much as we can. Why? Well, there’s always yard work to do: raking leaves, harvesting veggies, and mulching trees. Second, outdoor activities are great exercise: the bending, lifting, lunging, hoisting, and jumping into piles of leaves. Third, the colors are beautiful! Lastly, it’s VERY important that we get sunshine. That’s how are bodies make vitamin D. And vitamin D helps our immune system stay strong. So be sure to get outside and enjoy this Fall.

— by Eric Foxman

For Daily Use

Another reason to take that multivitamin: At least in women, regular consumption of the pills seems to ward off potential chromosomal damage, according to research in the June 1 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. A study of 586 women found that telomeres, regions of DNA that protect the ends of chromosomes, were 5.1 percent longer among regular multivitamin users than nonusers, after controlling for age and other variables. Shorter telomeres have been associated with chromosome damage and aging. the vitamins’ value could come from their antioxidants, which neutralize chemicals that damage DNA, the research suggest.

(Science News, August 15, 2009)

Pesto Minestrone

Beans are a magical fruit. They’re high in fiber, high in protein and low in fat. A few days ago we made our own minestrone with blackeyes. Speaking of which, I think it’s lunch time.

Ingredients
1 can (16 oz) dice tomatoes, undrained (or you can use fresh tomatoes)
2 cups coarsely chopped cauliflower (1/2 small head)
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup sliced carrot
1 1/2 cups chopped zucchini
3 cups cooked (1 cup dry makes 3 cups cooked) or 2 cans (15 oz each) kidney beans or blackeyes, drained and rinsed
3 cans (14.5 oz) reduced sodium chicken broth
1 cup uncooked elbow macaroni or small pasta shells
For pesto:
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves OR 1 cup flat parsley
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon water
2 cloves garlic

Directions
In a 5-6 quart saucepan bring to boil 1/2 cup water, tomatoes, cauliflower, onion, and carrots; reduce heat and simmer covered 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add zucchini, beans, broth and pasta. Return to boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, put all pesto ingredients in food processor or blender and process until finely chopped. Just before serving, remove soup from heat and stir in pesto. Makes 8-10 servings.

Rainbow Garden Ratatouille

As some of you know, my wife, Heather, has a passion for organic gardening. And her vegetable garden is “off the hook”. After harvesting some zucchini, onions, squash, peppers, tomatoes, and a few herbs, she thought she’d take a stab at this recipe. All I can say is “Mmm, mmm, goood.”

Ingredients
2 zucchini, sliced
1 large yellow onion, sliced
2 yellow squash, sliced
1 eggplant, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 green bell pepper, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/3 cup vegetable oil
4 large tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions
Saute zucchini, onion, yellow squash, eggplant, celery, green pepper and garlic in oil for 7 to 10 minutes. or until vegetables are tender. Add tomatoes, basil, oregano, thyme and pepper; mix well. Simmer until heated through, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with cheese. Serve immediately. Yield: 10 servings. (4-H Children’s Garden, Michigan State University)

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