Posted in health & wellness, loreeebee.ca

If You Dont Use it, You Lose it!

photo credit

As I get older, the phrase “if you don’t use it you lose it” is becoming more obvious. Not just the rusty physical parts of my body, but the good habits, routines, and comfort zones too.

Highway Driving

I’ve never been anxious driving on the highways, in fact I much prefer it to city driving where you have pedestrians, bikes, and cars coming at you in all directions. When I moved to Ottawa from the much smaller town of Cornwall, I forced myself to drive up and down the Queensway (the major highway running east to west through the city) getting off each exit, then back on.

It feels like I hardly ever drive on the highways anymore, in fact I haven’t for about a year now, since the pandemic shut us down.

On a recent adventure (that’s what my four year old grandson calls our weekly outings) to my favourite farm, the first few minutes of highway driving felt strange. And then the enjoyment returned, the feel of the open road beneath me, the winding roads and the relaxing rural scenery.

Organized Routines

When I worked outside of the home, especially when my kids were young, I was incredibly organized. At least when I look back to those days now, I think I was. Beds were stripped every Friday for a weekly wash. Grocery lists were mandatory, in preparation for weekly shopping every Thursday. Once the boys were out of diapers, bath nights were Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays.

I learned that kids thrive on routine, but so do busy moms.

When I retired, and the kids were much older, routines flew out the window with the alarm clock.

Let’s not forget the more obvious physical parts that suffer from the lack of use…

Brain Power

How many of you reach for a calculator or your phone to figure out a mathematical equation, even the simple ones? I admit to forcing myself to use my brain power with a pen and paper to ensure I remember how to. It is so much quicker and more convenient to use the electronics.

One of the reasons I loved helping my granddaughter with her online lessons is that it forced me to think like a seven year old again. At that age, kids’ brains are like sponges, absorbing every tidbit of information they encounter. I like that feeling, and I really enjoy finding the right way to answer their never ending questions. Do you remember how some teachers were so much better than others at explaining things?

Arthritic Joints

When I refer to my rusty body parts, I am talking about my achy, arthritic joints. My ankles, knees, hips and wrists are anxiously awaiting warmer, drier weather.

The problem with arthritic joints is that the less you use them, the harder it is to use them when you want or need to. It is indeed a viscous circle, but the trick (I find) is to make sure you keep using them.

Conclusion

Use it before you lose it!!

Posted in health & wellness, loreeebee.ca

Scoliosis Diagnosis, What Now?

Recently I was diagnosed with moderate scoliosis. The weird thing is that I was being checked out for something else when my curved spine was noted on my chest x-ray. At least I thought it was weird. Apparently, this is common in the otherwise healthy, aging population. The other weird part? I only read about the scoliosis when checking out my new online health file. The doctor never mentioned it until I asked, a year later, when I was perusing the new online health portal.

Let me explain the spine, in case you forgot or never learned anatomy. Your spine is made up of 33 bones, including the pelvis. These bones or vertebrae are normally stacked one on top of the other, with only the top 24 able to move. These moveable vertebrae can be divided into thoracic, lumbar, and cervical regions, based on where they are in the stack. The lower 9 vertebrae are fixed in place, and consist of 5 bones in the sacrum of the pelvis, and 4 that make up the tailbone.

A normal, healthy spine naturally curves slightly in three spots, looking like an S only if you were to look at it from the side. From the front or back it looks straight. This shape permits a spring-like function allowing the spine to move and absorb shocks. At the neck (cervical) and the lower back (lumbar) the spine naturally curves inward (concave) and at the middle of the back (thoracic) it curves outward. (convex) To visualize the “S”, keep in mind the inward curve that would continue at the top of this picture as the spine goes into the neck area.

wikiRadiography

What is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is defined as a medical condition involving an exaggerated or abnormal lateral (left or right) curvature of the spine, usually in a C or S shape. When diagnosed, it is categorized into a mild, moderate, or severe state, depending on the angle of the curve. The greater the angle, the more severe the condition.

The offending presence of a curved spine is categorized into where exactly the spine is curved:

  • lumbar, in the lower back region. Often presents with one leg longer and one hip higher than the other
  • thoracic, in the mid-back region, is the most common. Sometimes involves ribcage and shoulder deformity and/or lung and heart impairment.
  • thoracolumbar, involving both the lumbar and thoracic spine, often detected in utero or at birth. Also often associated with neuromuscular disorders such as cerebral palsy or spina bifida.

Who can Develop Scoliosis and Why does it Happen?

The condition is divided into three categories based on the age at which it is diagnosed or becomes symptomatic:

  • childhood: diagnosed in infants or toddlers with congenital deformities, it is termed infantile scoliosis, while developing (usually neuromuscular) symptoms between the ages of 3 to 10 is called juvenile scoliosis
  • adolescent: between 10 and 18 years of age where growth spurts are most common
  • adult: symptoms or diagnosis past the age of 18. This category is further divided into 2 groups, idiopathic (unknown reason) and degenerative (our bones do deteriorate with age)

The adult age group is quite large, so a more precise category of “elderly” is also often used. Scoliosis in the elderly is quite common, caused by aging bone structure, injury, or the progression of an (untreated) adolescent category.

For reasons (yet) unknown, female patients tend to be diagnosed with more severe curvatures, requiring a more drastic treatment process.

Treatments for Scoliosis

Suggested treatments are based on the severity of the condition. Options range from simple yoga poses and sleep patterns to surgery (spinal fusion) with lots in between. The in-between may include posture correcting, various methods of bracing, exercises, chiropractic manipulations, and inversion therapy.

Yoga poses, good and bad

 According to Healthline.com yoga poses beneficial for those with scoliosis include:

  • Half Forward Bend (Ardha Uttanasana)
  • Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasna)
  • Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha)
  • Side Plank (Vasisthasana)
  • Side-Reclining Leg Lift (Anantasana)
  • Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

Be sure to avoid yoga poses (cobra, half moon, locust, sun salutation) that bend the spine backward as well as other exercises that twist the spine.

Adjusting Your Sleep Habits

Adjusting sleep patterns uses gravity to improve the alignment of the spine so the curve (sometimes) moves back into its proper position. So, if your abnormal curve is on your right side, try sleeping on your left side, and on your right side if your curve is on your left side.

Sleeping on your back would be a secondary choice, but lying on your stomach is not recommended.

Practice Good (Better) Posture

This might be the easiest way to alleviate pain and muscle strain. Find your natural body alignment and realign it as often as you can throughout your day.

Medical News Today lists the following strategy when standing:

  • Drop your shoulders down and back.
  • Position the ears over the shoulders
  • Slightly tuck your chin in so that it is not jutting forward or too far down.
  • Draw your stomach in slightly
  • Unlock the knees slightly.

When sitting, keep your back and neck straight and legs uncrossed. Your ears should be over your shoulders, not in front of them as they would be if your neck is inclined.

What Now?

I have learned a lot with my research into scoliosis. I went to the doctor complaining about left chest pain that radiates from below my breast up to my shoulder. I wouldn’t even call it a pain, more of a pressure. Due to the fact that both of my parents died of pulmonary ailments, I was concerned about the possibility of lung problems.

Regular mammograms have indicated no problem there, but a chest x-ray showed a moderate curve to the left in my spine. Even though my posture has not always been the greatest, I have arthritis elsewhere in my body, and my shoulders and neck get sore when I’m stressed or tired, I never suspected scoliosis. When I questioned my doctor (after reading the x-ray results) she agreed that the left curve in my thoracic spine is most likely what is causing pressure on my ribcage for over a year now.

I’m a proponent of natural remedies, so this is my plan. I already do many of the yoga poses and exercises recommended, but also a few of the ones I shouldn’t do, so will discontinue those. I will make a conscious effort to improve my posture when standing and sitting.

And, I will quit sleeping on my left side, something I have been doing for as long as I can remember.

Posted in health & wellness, loreeebee.ca

Ten Signs you are Gluten Intolerant

photo credit:  pexels-photo-265216
 
 
This article from MINDBODYGREEN.COM,  was one of the first I read on the subject years ago when I first suspected I was wheat intolerant.  I thought then that it had some good information, worth passing on.  It now bears repeating as much of it still applies…
 
 
More than 55 diseases have been linked to gluten, the protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. It’s estimated that 99% of the people who have either gluten intolerance or celiac disease are never diagnosed.
 
 
It is also estimated that as much as 15% of the US population is gluten intolerant. Could you be one of them?
 
 
If you have any of the following symptoms it could be a sign that you have gluten intolerance:
 
1.  Digestive issues such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, and even constipation, with constipation particularly in children after eating gluten.
 
2.  Keratosis Pilaris, (also known as ‘chicken skin’ on the back of your arms). This tends to be a result of a fatty acid deficiency and vitamin A deficiency secondary to fat-malabsorption caused by gluten damaging the gut.
 
3.  Fatigue, brain fog, or feeling tired after eating a meal that contains gluten.
 
4.  Diagnosis of an autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, lupus, psoriasis, scleroderma, or multiple sclerosis.
 
5.  Neurologic symptoms such as dizziness or feeling of being off-balance.
 
6.  Hormone imbalances such as PMS, PCOS, or unexplained infertility.
 
7.  Migraine headaches.
 
8.  Diagnosis of chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia. These diagnoses simply indicate your conventional doctor cannot pinpoint the cause of your fatigue or pain.
 
9.  Inflammation, swelling, or pain in your joints such as fingers, knees, or hips.
 
       10.  Mood issues such as anxiety, depression, mood swings, and ADD.
 

 

How to test for gluten intolerance

The single best way to determine if you have an issue with gluten is to perform an elimination diet where you would take it out of your diet for at least 3 weeks and then reintroduce it. Please note that gluten is a very large protein and it can take months and even years to clear from your system so the longer you can eliminate it from your diet before reintroducing it, the better.
 
The best advice is that if you feel significantly better off of gluten or feel worse when you reintroduce it, then gluten is likely a problem for you.  In order to get accurate results from this testing method, you must elimination 100% of the gluten from your diet.
 

How to treat gluten intolerance

Eliminating gluten 100% from your diet means 100%. Even trace amounts of gluten from cross-contamination or medications or supplements can be enough to cause an immune reaction in your body.  The 80/20 rule or “we don’t eat it in our house, just when we eat out” is a complete misconception. Research has shown that for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity eating gluten just once a month increased the relative risk of death by 600%.
 
 
Many of these facts remain relevant today, almost twenty years later.  I myself have been eating gluten-free for almost ten years.  I say gluten-free although I was diagnosed with an intolerance to wheat, not gluten.  Gluten-free is wheat-free, but not vice versa, so I say gluten-free when eating outside of my home. 
 
Occasionally I “cheat” and consume something with a bit of wheat in it, but usually regret it later with stomach cramps and diarrhea, depending on just how much wheat I consumed.  I know I probably should not do that, but it does keep me eating healthy.  This cheating is not recommended for someone with celiac disease or a sensitivity stronger than mine. 
 
Ten signs you are gluten intolerant
Photo by Polina Zimmerman on Pexels.com
Posted in beauty, guest post, health & wellness, loreeebee.ca

Repairing Skin Damage, Five ways to do it

photo credit

This article was originally posted on Higher Dose, adapted for use as a guest post here on Loreeebee…

You might not wear your heart on your sleeve, but you definitely have an organ that is outward-facing. *Drum roll* Your skin.

As your body’s largest organ, your skin requires a lot of attention because it’s literally the body’s barrier, protecting you from external factors. Even though your skin is your body’s protector, external factors such as sun damage, stress, free radicals, poor nutrition, lack of sleep, pollutants, and the natural aging process all put wear-and-tear on our skin.

Even though our skin endures a lot every day, there are many ways to both repair and prevent further damage.

Here are our favorite ways to give your skin a healthy DOSE of TLC.

Detoxify the skin

Multi-step self-care routines can seem daunting and unnecessary, but what if we told you they were actually essential for your skin’s health? With one-third of your body’s toxins being excreted through the skin, your skin is constantly working to help transport toxins out of your body to keep your system refreshed. Skin impurities like acne, rough texture, and poor complexion can be a result of buildup on your skin, so taking some extra time to detoxify your skin will help keep things popped, snatched, and glowing.

Step 1 | Detoxify

Detoxifying your skin starts with stimulating your lymphatic system and then pushing out toxins with a DOSE of infrared. A lymphatic facial helps to drain waste from the lymph system, promoting better circulation and less water retention. Following up a lymphatic drainage massage with an infrared sweat is the ultimate cleanse, clearing out buildup and increasing blood flow for a fresh face.

Step 2 | Fight Inflammation

When you apply heat to the skin, cold must follow. Therefore, post-sweat, opt for cold therapy to get the heat out of the skin and quell inflammation. Cryo facials are an excellent way to tone and tighten the skin while shrinking pores and strengthening your body’s immune response. If you don’t have access to a cryo facial, spend up to three minutes in a cold shower, or consider an ice roller that you keep in the freezer.

Step 3 | Nourish

Once the skin has detoxed, it’s time for restoration, rejuvenation, and recovery. Follow up any treatment with proper hydration and nourishment in the form of serums, creams, and oils that lock in moisture and keep inflammation down. Clean products that are high in antioxidants like vitamin C help support the skin’s recovery process, fight and prevent oxidative stress, and encourage collagen production.

Chill out with a cryo facial

Cryo facial is a type of cryotherapy that focuses on soothing, stimulating, and refreshing your complexion using cold temperatures to enliven the skin.

Rather than using exfoliating creams or chemical peels that can irritate the skin, a cryo wand is used to blow cold air on your face in concentrated, circulated motions. The freezing temps and vaporized liquid nitrogen instantly shrink enlarged, oily pores and increase circulation to your face, leaving you with a fresh-faced, cool glow. These facials also encourage collagen regrowth and cell repair — giving you long-term anti-aging protection.

Get a face-full of LED

Immerse your skin in the benefits of blue, red and near-infrared LED light energy.

The sun emits a full spectrum of light to help our bodies function throughout the day. While blue light signals cortisol production to help us be more productive, red and infrared light suppress cortisol and increase melatonin to promote better restoration and recovery.

However, because most of our jobs keep us indoors and exposed to artificial blue light from our screens AM to PM, our bodies stay in a prolonged state of stress. More stress means less melatonin, which means worse sleep and inflamed skin.

This mood-enhancing, skin-restoring treatment provides the skin with healing light sources, taking no longer than 30 minutes. Near-infrared LED light energy stimulates cells to regenerate and heal, leaving you with an even skin tone, a clearer complexion, and fewer wrinkles. Plus, it’s a great way to de-stress by stepping away from your screens to give those frown lines a break!

Give your skin a workout with a microcurrent facial

Your body isn’t the only thing that needs a workout.

Microcurrent technology, which is touted as the ultimate non-invasive facelift, can be used from head to toe to tone and tighten skin from the inside out.

Using low-voltage current, microcurrent sends frequency deep to stimulate the muscle as well as promote cell growth in skin. Similar to physical exercise, this facial / body workout activates the lymphatic system, encouraging proper drainage aka no facial puffiness or water retention. Mircocurrent, which is virtually painless, also oxygenates the skin, invigorating the proteins that signal repair and ease inflammation.

Not only are results immediate, but long-term treatment can undo fine lines and wrinkles and keep the skin smooth without paralyzing the muscle (like Botox // other injectables).

Read the labels

There are many, many beauty products out there that claim to prevent and reverse skin damage. How do you know which ones work?

Always look for clean ( with no endocrine-disrupting ingredients) beauty products like:

  • Niacinamide to minimize dark spots and hyperpigmentation.
  • Azelaic acid to lighten dark spots from acne and repair sun damage.
  • Topical retinoids like Vitamin A in these products reduces fine lines and improves skin texture.
  • Vitamin C to improve collagen production and boosts skin firmness.
  • Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) to reduce hyperpigmentation

And, of course, drink lots of water, wear a long-lasting (natural) SPF, and eat lots of antioxidant-rich whole foods. Your skin will thank you.

Show us what you’re doing to take care of your skin by tagging us on Instagram @higherdose.

This article was originally posted on HigherDOSE.com

Posted in food, health & wellness, loreeebee.ca

Keep your Blood pH Alkaline

photo credit

Alkaline vs Acidic

The pH level of a substance is the measure of potential hydrogen on a scale of 0 to 14.  On this scale, a measurement of less than 7.0 is called acidic and greater than 7.0 is alkaline.  In this way pH is used to  measure acidity versus alkalinity in everything from the soil in your garden, and the water in your swimming pool, to the blood cells in your body.

Why is alkaline better than acidic?

Why is it so important to keep your blood pH on the alkaline side?  Basically because extensive research has shown that an alkaline Ph increases the amount of oxygen in your blood.  This is a good thing since the lack of oxygen in your blood cells causes disease.

When our blood becomes too acidic we enter a state of acidosis.  Even a slight deviance from the ideal pH of 7.4 can cause problems, starting with loss of energy and concentration, tiredness, even exhaustion.  Long term effects include acid build up in our organs, loss of muscle mass and loss of bone density when the calcium that is stored in our bones leaches from the bones to try to compensate for the acidosis.  Bacteria and viruses thrive in acidic conditions causing bodies in acidosis to be vulnerable to disease.  Acidic toxins we ingest from food, water and even the air that we breathe produce disease-causing free radicals.

An alkaline pH, on the other hand, is believed to have many healthy benefits including boosting metabolism, slowing the aging process, slowing bone loss in menopausal women, neutralizing acid, helping your body absorb nutrients better, and preventing disease by removing the free radicals that your body does encounter in day to day life.

How do we ensure our blood pH stays alkaline?

So, how do we go about alkalizing our blood cells?  The easiest way is to monitor what we eat and drink.  Chlorinated tap water is acidic, and although most city water is alkaline to prevent acid corrosion in the pipes, toxic chemicals are used to make it alkaline.  Mineral water is alkaline due to the addition of health promoting minerals such as calcium, magnesium, sodium potassium, iron, zinc, nickel and manganese.  Ionized water is adjusted mechanically to make it more alkaline.

Many brands of mineral and ionized water are on the market today, ready to drink, or you can purchase a system to ionize tap water yourself, ranging from a small, inexpensive stick you put in a water bottle to a more extravagant under the counter unit.

In the food category many common food items and ingredients such as sugar, flour, and protein from animal sources such as dairy products and meat cause our blood pH to slip into the acidic zone.  Remember, it is the effect the food has on your body after digestion that makes it acidic or alkaline.  For example, lemons are acidic in taste, but one of the most alkaline foods.  To keep your body feeling and looking its best, choose foods from the alkaline side and reduce foods from the acid side as listed in the following chart from Vitafountain.com

keep your blood pH alkaline

Conclusions

You can keep track of your blood pH by testing your urine or saliva with these simple pH test strips.

Some people believe the alkaline food theory is just another “fad diet” encouraged by the alkaline/ionized/mineral water companies.   As usual, I encourage you to be the judge; try it for yourself, especially the simple, no cost, no risk, food chart version.  Be sure to let me know what you think and how you feel.

Posted in health & wellness, loreeebee.ca

You may be Dehydrated if you Suffer from Low Energy and Brain Fog

photo credit

Did you know many common symptoms such as lethargy, low energy levels, brain fog, muscle weakness, light-headedness, muscle cramps, nausea, dry skin and lips, and even increased breathing and heart rate can be attributed to dehydration?

What is dehydration?

A whopping 75% of our body consists of water, which is present in our cells, between our cells in body tissue, and in our blood vessels.  When this percentage drops, caused by more water leaving the body than coming in, we suffer the consequences.  By the time we actually feel thirsty, we are dehydrated.

Water loss happens routinely when we sweat during exercise, when we have a fever, when our bodies eliminate waste in the form of urine and bowel movements, and even when we breathe.

How can we prevent dehydration?

To replace this routine water loss from our bodies, we should drink six to eight glasses of water (depending on your body weight) daily.  Water is also present in large amounts in fruit and vegetables, so increasing your daily intake of these items will help as well.   Also be aware that alcohol, coffee and other caffeinated drinks are dehydrators, so add a glass of water to your daily requirements for each serving of these items you consume.  You can include herbal tea in your daily requirement of water, it is actually hydrating.

Drinking water does not have to be inconvenient or expensive; in fact, up to 25% of bottled water comes from municipal sources and not from glaciers or springs as many people believe.   Simply turn on your tap, fill up a water bottle, and take it with you, whether you are at your desk working, running errands in your busy life, or relaxing at home.  I often add a tiny amount of unsweetened fruit juice, or a few drops of fresh lemon or lime juice to my water bottle to spice up the flavor.

Bottoms up!

dehydration
Photo by Maria Orlova on Pexels.com

Posted in health & wellness, loreeebee.ca

Landish for your Daily Dose of Health and Wellness

I was recently introduced (online, through research) to Landish, when searching for a source of collagen to help my arthritic joints this winter.

What or Who is Landish?

In their own, better than I could describe, words…

Landish grew from our struggle to establish a wellness routine that was sustainable both for us and the environment. On our quest to overcome the ailments of modern life and feel our very best, we began to discover clean, earth-friendly ingredients that carry with them both deep ancestral tradition and support from modern science.

Through a process of research, creation and iteration, we bring to you the very best of these ingredients, curated and combined into delicious, crave-worthy recipes for a daily dose of wellness.

Inspired from a Middle English word:

lōndish

adjective

1. From our land; native.

Products I Have already Tried (and love)

That pitch, along with the fact that Landish is a Canadian company and these days I am all about buying local, convinced me to give their products a try. So far I have tried their marine collagen…

Although collagen is a protein naturally found within the connective tissue (think ligaments, muscles, tendons and skin) of our bodies, its abundance (like many other things) decreases with age.

I add this marine collagen to my daily smoothies for my arthritis as mentioned, but also for the benefits collagen provides to my aging bones, muscles, skin, hair and nails. This brand is tasteless and blends in smoothly to my morning concoctions.

The second product I have tried is the Turmeric Ginger Latte….

I love this combination of turmeric, ginger, cardamom and coconut milk, especially before bedtime. Do you remember drinking warm milk as a child/teen to help you sleep at night? This is an updated version, as everyone knows (or should know) how good turmeric is for you.

With my last order from Landish I received an assortment of their Superfood Bars as a bonus.

Landish for health and wellness

High in protein, good fats, vitamins and minerals, low in cholesterol, carbs (sugar) and sodium, these bars are convenient snacks to have on hand. Flavours such as apple cinnamon, vanilla coconut, vanilla chai and double chocolate make them much more palatable than most other protein bars. I will have to make sure to order some more for summer gardening snacks.

Try Next List

I have a few other Landish products on my wish list to try next. They include the various flavours of mushroom (??!!) lattes and hot chocolates. Although I have read about the multiple health benefits of mushrooms, I never would have thought to include them in hot chocolate, lattes or smoothies…

Conclusions

If you are in the market for health supplements in a powder form, easily added to smoothies, coffee, milk or tea, check out Landish. Another page on their website lists recipes using many of their products, making it even easier to try them out.

If you do decide to try Landish products, please use my referral link! That will ensure I try more products sooner and pass on my opinions to you.

Delivery is free if your order is over $50 anywhere in Canada or the continental US. If you live in the US, please use this site to order from.

Posted in grandkids, health & wellness, loreeebee.ca, parenting

Sleep Deprivation: Its Causes and how it Affects your Health

photo credit

Sleep deprivation can be caused by hormone imbalance, sleep apnea, snoring, room temperature, stress/anxiety, and sleeping conditions.  It is a known fact that sleep deprivation is the most common cause of many health issues affecting adults, children, and those in between.

I used to have an argument with my teenaged son many school nights, about taking his cell phone to bed with him.  His argument was that the phone actually helps him to fall asleep.  I, on the other hand, believe electronic devices of any kind keep the brain stimulated, delaying, and preventing restful sleep.  Sleep deprivation is caused by many things, but stimulation by electronic devices is way up at the top of the list for many children, teens, and adults. Currently, this argument is aimed at my grandchildren when parents allow them to use electronics at or just before bedtime.

If you are not getting an average of eight hours (more for children and teens) of restorative sleep a day,  your long term good health may be at risk.  In fact, it is now being suggested that sleep deprivation can be worse for you than lack of exercise….

If you research the causes of many illnesses or conditions including ADD/ADHD, (both childhood and adult forms) anxiety, depression and other psychiatric illnesses, heart problems, type II diabetes, obesity, brain fog, difficulty focusing and/or concentrating, poor/slow reaction time, memory loss, lethargy, irritability, headaches and loss of energy, just to name a few, you will find sleep deprivation at or near the top of the list.

Every part of our bodies needs sleep to function properly.  Our cells rejuvenate and grow, our energy levels are boosted, our brains refuel with energy and reboot our memories, our aching joints and muscles repair and strengthen, and our organs release essential hormones, all when we are asleep.

This research has tired me out, I think I will take a nap to rejuvenate!

Posted in food, health & wellness, loreeebee.ca, recipes

Calorie Cutting Hacks for Classic Recipes

photo credit: Nicole Michalou and Pexels

Do you love classic recipes, but dread consuming the calories they are usually laden with? Me too. Over the years I have learned to substitute many calorie-rich ingredients out for healthier options, without sacrificing the taste or presentation.

Creamy Sauces

I learned to substitute the cream in many recipes because my stomach can never handle the high-fat content in cream. Instead, I use almond milk, but you could substitute in any other nut milk. I call them milks, but technically they are not milk, they have no dairy in them. I have yet to try the cashew version, but plan to soon. Not only will you not notice a lack of creaminess, but the fat in nut “milks” are a healthy type of fat.

For example, I make chicken alfredo with either fettuccine or penne pasta using a can of mushroom soup diluted with almond milk instead of the half and half or full-fat cream called for in most alfredo recipes. If the recipe calls for salt, omit it as the canned soup is salty enough, especially when parmesan cheese is an essential ingredient. Otherwise, your favourite recipe can stay the same.

Another idea is to use unflavoured, unsweetened, low-fat Greek yogurt instead of the sour or other cream called for in saucy dishes and casseroles such as stroganoff or pasta. Regular yogurt also works, but the Greek version is generally thicker, resulting in creamier sauces.

Gravy or Soups

Every time I roast meat, I add minced or a few cloves of garlic and several slices of onion to the bottom of the pan. This trick creates rich, golden-brown, flavourful “drippings” that can be used immediately for gravy, or frozen for future use in soups, stews, and sauces.

I keep a bucket in my freezer for such use, each new addition forms a layer. The fat rises to the top of each layer and is easily removed when thawed for use. Soups are especially tasty when a mixture of the layers are used as broth. The only problem is that no two batches of your home made soups will ever be identical.

This method eliminates the salt, sugar, and other unhealthy calories and ingredients that come in the canned or packaged supermarket broth, gravy, soup or stew.

Desserts

Similar to the creamy sauces, satisfyingly rich desserts can be made with almond (or other nut) milks instead of full fat, whipping or half and half cream. Except of course unless whipping the cream is required for volume. These milks don’t whip well.

Silken tofu and soy milk in equal parts, plus a bit of vanilla can be blended together and then whipped to replace full fat whipping cream. This is also a great dairy-free option for your favourite creamy dessert.

Not only does sugar increase your caloric intake, but it also adversely affects your body in other ways. There is lots of research linking kids’ poor, even aggressive behaviour and/or poor concentration to increased sugar consumption.

So, how can you eliminate or at least reduce these bad effects? Simply cut back on the sugar amount called for in recipes, or use a sugar alternative. Stevia, a plant-based sugar alternative, can be used in many desserts to cut calories as well as the glycemic index of your treats. Foods with a high glycemic index cause our blood sugar levels to rise dramatically after their consumption, an unhealthy treatment of our body, especially over time.

In less sweet recipes, such as muffins, simply use more fruit instead of the oil or fat called for in the recipe. Extra (naturally sweet) fruit also means you can reduce the amount of granulated sugar you add to the mixture. For example, applesauce is amazing in muffins. It adds a natural sweetness and keeps the muffins moist. I have also used low fat, unsweetened yogurt in muffins with great success. You may have to play around with the amounts of the substitutions to achieve your perfect muffin, but it can be done. Just make small batches until you discover your favourite.

Conclusions

With colder weather upon us, it is natural to crave and request comfort foods more frequently. To get even more enjoyment out of your favourite classics, experiment with alternative ingredients to make the recipes lighter and healthier, but still satisfying.

Just imagine, using these tips will allow you to consume your favourite classic meals or treats, with less guilt!

Your waistline, bathroom scale and your overall health will thank you.

Posted in gardens, grandkids, health & wellness, loreeebee.ca

The Simple Things in Life

We have all heard the saying “it’s the simple things in life that are important.” Do you believe it? Has your opinion changed as the pandemic continues to rule our lives? Does the Christmas season impact your feelings on this?

Several events have conspired to make the simple things most important to me. All year round, pre-pandemic, but especially during the pandemic. I realize I have already posted on this subject, but the fact that I recognize the repetition makes it alright, right? That was in the summer also, so the simple things I appreciated then are different than the simple things I am enjoying these days.

Career Choices

It is coming up on nine years since I retired from work in a local hospital as a medical laboratory technologist. I loved my career in healthcare, but it was becoming increasingly stressful. My advancing age, increased workload with less staff due to budget constraints, and several health issues were stacked against me.

I gave up hospital work with mixed emotions; I met lots of wonderful people and have lots of great memories from my thirty years there. Of course a healthy pension and a severance package made the decision easier. These financial aids also made it possible and relatively simple to switch gears into a new career. The day after I left the hospital, Gardens4u, my gardening business, was born.

As you can probably imagine, working in gardens all day, as my own boss, at my own pace, is stress-free and so much healthier. Appreciating the beauty of nature, exposure to fresh air and sunshine, as well as increased physical activity (exercise) built in to my work day are the simple things I chose.

The Joy of Grandkids

It is no secret that I am the proud Grandma to five beautiful, very active, adorable grandchildren. Ranging in age (currently) from (almost) eight months to seven years old, these sweethearts have simply stolen my heart.

The Simple Things in Life

The more time I spend with them, (I have been fortunate to be able to spend time with them during the pandemic) experiencing life through their eyes, the more I realize how important and basic the simple things in life are. Christmas time only heightens that awareness as many experiences are “firsts” for them, or at least that they remember. After all, last Christmas was a long time ago, relatively speaking.

I have always been the primary decorator in our home, but over the years as my sons have grown up and moved out, decorating had become less of an adventure and more of a chore. Grandchildren change that. This year my three oldest have brought the magic back as they helped me decorate.

Enjoying the decorations through their eyes, brings back memories of when their dads were young. Most of our decorations are (still) inexpensive, handmade treasures. We never did graduate to purchasing expensive, more intricate decorations, preferring to stick with the simple, cherished ones affiliated with the memories of yesteryear.

These hard plastic stars are a favourite with the kids, hung over individual bulbs on the tree, they reflect the light, creating sparkles. They also make a great tool for teaching counting, sorting and colour matching, although the kids don’t have to know that.

the simple things in life

Exercise

Exercise has always been simple to me, if I make it too difficult I don’t do it. Whether bending, squatting, digging or raking in my gardens, walking around our neighbourhood with hubby, swimming or just puttering at the cottage, or cavorting with the grandkids, simple forms of exercise work best. When I can’t do any of the above, planks are still a favourite.

On a recent trip to a local park, on a rainy day, my almost three year old granddaughter found the last patch of quickly-melting snow in the park and decided to create a slide. A simple find that created lots of fun. And a muddy jacket and rain suit, but nothing a quick wash couldn’t fix.

Another park visit, on a much colder day, had this granddaughter and her almost four year old cousin “racing” Grandma across the fields. Her baby brother watched from the sidelines with his momma. Delicious, candy cane flavoured hot chocolate and timbits from Tim Hortons warmed our cold hands and tummies between the racing and the play structure fun.

Nature

I have always been a nature lover, just one of the simple things in life I appreciate. My backyard is an oasis of sorts to wildlife. Squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, a variety of bird species, and racoons frequent my gardens, trees and pond. Recently we added another bird feeder, filled with spicy seed to deter the squirrels from raiding it. It is entertaining to watch the squirrels try to outsmart the feeder though.

A pair of cardinals visits our yard often. The male is vibrant red while the female is browner with a red beak. Their red colouring really shows up well in the bleak dormant trees, and especially well in snowy weather. The puffed up male looks really cold! The large cardinal, bottom right, is a whimsical decoration I leave on my deck all year round. The real cardinals seem to like him!

As the pandemic continues to restrict our actions and interactions, I hope you are taking the time (who doesn’t have time these days?) to enjoy some simple things in life too, especially during the Christmas season. You don’t have to look very hard to find them.