• Cherry and Almond Superfood Chocolate Smoothie

    This is one of my favorite smoothie recipes.  It’s a great smoothie to have during times when you are really working your body hard with training or muscle building because it has lots of protein and the cherries help to reduce inflammation.

    Approximate Recipe for 2 Servings:

    • ¾ cup pitted cherries.  I just use frozen organic ones, unless they happen to be in season
    • 2 tablespoons cocoa – I like mine extra chocolately, reduce if you don’t
    • 2 tablespoons almond butter
    • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
    • 2 teaspoons ground flaxseed
    • 1 tablespoon honey
    • Generous dash of cinnamon
    • 1 ¼ cup unsweetened almond milk or hemp milk

    Cherries contain significant amounts of beta carotene, vitamin C, fiber and potassium.  They are also full of quercetin and anthocyanins, which are antioxidants that can help  reduce inflammation from muscle strain or arthritis.  Some studies have shown the reduction to be similar to some well-known pain medications.  Cherries also contain a significant amount of melatonin, which can help regulate sleep and ease irritability.

    As I discussed in another smoothie recipe (the banana chocolate smoothie) idea post, cocoa is full of flavonoids, which can help to prevent heart disease by decreasing blood pressure, reducing inflammation, balancing good and bad cholesterol and improving blood vessel health.  Cocoa and the cinnamon (which I put in most things that also have a sugar component like fruit or honey) help to decrease insulin resistance and help the body better deal with consuming natural sugars for prevention of Type 2 Diabetes.

    I always try to sneak coconut oil and flaxseed in to my smoothies.  The coconut oil has a special medium chain triglyceride in the form of lauric acid, which helps to increase the good HDL cholesterol in the blood.  Coconut oil helps to prevent fungal and bacterial infections in the body as well.  The flaxseed adds fiber as well as omega-3 essential fatty acids.  Be sure to get it ground, as the body can’t absorb the nutrition from the whole seeds.

    I usually have almond milk on hand, but hemp milk works great too.  The hemp adds extra protein.  If you are purchasing the almond milk (as opposed to making it), be sure to buy the stuff that is unsweetened and then sweeten the smoothie to your liking with local honey to help deal with allergens and get a good dose of the antibacterial benefits of consuming honey.

    The almond butter adds a natural source of protein, fiber and monounsaturated fats.  The health benefits of almonds are well known and include the ability to help improve cholesterol ratios, control weight gain and prevent heart disease.  They are good sources of magnesium, manganese, riboflavin and vitamin E.  The magnesium helps to prevent muscles aches and pains.

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  • Earthing

    Have you ever noticed how amazing you feel after walking barefoot on a beach or through dewy grass?  Have you experienced an indescribable peacefulness after swimming in the ocean or spending the weekend camping?  As a geologist, I’ve spent a fair number of days sprawled out on rocks soaking up the warmth while eating my lunch and basking in the great outdoors.  I was always aware of a connectedness and exhilaration that would come over me, but I just assumed it was the fresh air.  While being outdoors is the one common denominator in all these activities, I have recently discovered that there may be an additional explanation that is based on science and the electrical potential of the Earth.

    The Earth is basically a limitless reservoir of free mobile electrons.  What this means is that no matter what type of charge comes in to contact with it, the Earth can completely absorb the charge or send electrons to neutralize a positive charge.  This is the reason we have a ground in electricity.  If there were ever some power surge, the excess energy would dissipate in to the ground where it is neutralized.

    The desire to go barefoot or dip in to a body of water, therefore, may be a biological desire to neutralize electrical energy in our body and to tap in to the diurnal electrical rhythms of the Earth.  We all strive for balance and to be “grounded” and this might be exactly how this term evolved.

    It has been proposed in research over the last 30 years or so that almost every type of modern disease and psychological or physiological stressor can be attributed to an abundance or scarcity of electrons.   That may sound a little oversimplified but let me explain what I mean.

    Having positively charged free radicals in the body can wreak havoc on well-being.  Free radicals are basically just a molecule that have an unpaired valence electron, which leaves the atom or molecule unstable with a positive charge.  Presence of free radicals is otherwise known as something being oxidized (basically the same process as rusting).  That is why there has been an advent in understanding the benefit of consuming anti-oxidants or using them in skincare products.  Oxidants are what ultimately cause tissue damage, aging and degeneration because these positively charged free radicals go barraging through healthy tissue seeking electrons to become stable and harm the tissue from which they take electrons in the process.

    If our bodies are full of these free radicals from stress, environmental toxins or dietary toxins, coming in to contact with the Earth will basically allow the free electrons to flow in to the body and neutralize them before they cause damage. Chronic inflammation is thought to be associated with the damage caused by free radicals as the electrons are poached from the tissue.  Inflammation is associated with many of the diseases that plague our modern society including heart disease, chronic pain, diabetes and arthritis.

    In addition to reducing inflammation, coming in to contact with the Earth (otherwise known as Earthing), is hypothesized to improve stress levels, increase energy and decrease insomnia as a result of normalizing the diurnal electrical patterns in the body and equilibrating them to the natural pattern of the Earth.   Earthing can be a great thing to do once you have traveled across time zones for this reason.  Putting yourself in to contact with the Earth resets your daily clock and adjusts your circadian rhythm to the new time zone.

    It is such a simple thing, Earthing.  We obviously evolved as a mammal that was meant to be in contact with the Earth without insulating barriers.  Even early humans walked with conductive materials on their feet such as leather or skins and slept on the ground.  Have you ever noticed how often modern day humans are in electrical contact with the Earth?

    That’s right.  Almost never.  Take a look around and notice how many adults and children are walking around with shoes that put a rubber or plastic barrier between us and the Earth.  How many houses are completely removed from the Earth, covered in insulating materials such as wood, carpet and/or elevated and completely removed from any contact with the ground?  Almost every single one.

    How To Earth

    Earthing is really easy to do.  You can get the full benefits of coming in to electrical equilibrium with the Earth in about 15-20 minutes a day.  It’s as easy as being in contact with the earth or a conductive material that is in contact with it (rock, ceramic tile, or concrete like in a basement or on a sidewalk, etc.).  Walking in direct contact with the Earth works great, as well as just placing one’s feet or body on it.  If you like wading in the water, it can be accomplished there, especially saltwater, which has extra conductivity.

    In the book Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever? I checked out after I had an interest in this subject, the book’s author, Clint Ober, talks about grounding devices (such as bedsheets, pads for forearms or feet at the computer, etc.) that can be connected to an outdoor grounding device.  I also just stumbled across a resource for Earthing devices that sells products and has a great video that summarizes this post.  I haven’t had a chance to try them yet, but am thinking about ordering one of the products.  It sounds as though the effects of sleeping grounded are profound.

    But just walking around barefoot or lazing with as much skin as possible touching the Earth is pretty easy to do!  The feet work particularly well because of the vast amount of nerve endings, whose tissue is supposed to be especially conductive.  It has the added benefit of stimulating the feet, as in reflexology.  I find it interesting that our feet evolved to be such reflex points at the same time we were always making contact with the Earth with them.

    Next time you’re working in your garden, walking on a beach, working in your concrete floor basement, or attending your child’s sports match, try removing your shoes and see if you feel any different after about 15 minutes.  Note your pain, energy and stress levels, happiness, and sleeping patterns.  This is something so simple to try and really you have nothing to lose.  It seems like a pretty easy thing to convince kids to do too!  This simple act has brought a lot of healing energy in to my life.

  • Drunken Red Wine Bath

    Chief has been out of town most of this month so I have been faced with my usual dilemma…what to do with the bottles of red wine that I can’t finish before they start to turn.  This bath is the perfect way to enjoy a glass and not feel compelled to finish the rest of the bottle by oneself!  If you want an excuse to throw it back, just forget you ever read this post. 😉  This is also a good opportunity to use up leftover wine after a party.

    Bath Recipe

    • 20 drops of jasmine essential oil (it usually comes blended in jojoba oil)
    • 1/4 cup grape seed oil
    • 1 cup of Epsom salt or sea salt or a combination
    • 1/2 bottle red wine

    The antioxidants in the wine and grape seed oil help to heal damaged skin.  The jasmine provides a sensual scent.  The grape seed, jojoba and jasmine oils moisturize and nourish the skin.

    I am addicted to Epsom salts for the way in which they soothe aches and pains in muscles and joints and reduce inflammation as a result of overuse, injury or arthritis.  It seriously feels like you have had a massage after soaking in Epsom salts – pretty fantastic for a fraction of the cost!

    Epsom salts are basically just magnesium sulfate named after a bitter saline spring at Epsom in Surrey, England.  By soaking in them, your body absorbs these nutrients through the porous membrane of the skin organ.  The magnesium helps regulate enzyme activity for biochemical reactions in the body, maintain muscle and nerve function, and regulate blood pressure.  Sulfate helps to flush toxins and other salts from the body by the process of reverse osmosis.

    The sea salt has the same theory.  It contains mostly sodium chloride, but also has macro-minerals (including magnesium) and nearly 80 trace minerals that are beneficial for our bodies.

    I like to keep both my Epsom salts and sea salt that I buy in bulk in glass jars near the bathtub.  It’s sexier looking than the Walgreen’s Epsom salt bag!

    The red wine won’t stain your tub, but sparkling wine also works.  It might be nice for the morning after a celebration with some citrus oils like grapefruit, tangerine, or bergamot.

    Soak for 20 minutes.   Maybe for once soaking yourself in wine WILL solve your troubles!