RECIPE FRIDAY: Chard Chips by Vickie Kline

I’ve heard of making kale chips, but decided to try the same process with chard since I had plenty from the garden. They turned out great and were delicious…

Begin by removing stems, wash the chard and use a salad spinner to remove excess water. I place on a paper towel to help soak up any remaining moisture. The more dry the leaves, the crisper they will be. If you need to, let them sit out for a bit to continue drying.

Place leaves in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil. This is a touchy one. Too much oil and they get soggy, not enough oil and they burn. You want the leaves to be lightly coated so your seasoning will stick, but not overly soaked. Cover with seasoning of your choice: salt and pepper is good, but I like to use an Italian seasoning or a combination of rosemary and garlic. Even a hint of chili powder is good.

Place all leaves on a cookie sheet so they are not overlapping. Cook at 275 degrees for 20 minutes. Turn leaves over and cook another 20 minutes.

Remove from oven, let cool, and eat immediately. The chips do not keep well.

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HOW IT FEELS TO FEEL GREAT by Vickie Kline

This past week I’ve had a cold… yes, a common cold like many people get this time of year when the season begins to change. You will think this is strange, but having this cold made me happy. In case you’re wondering about this statement, let me explain. This is the first time I can remember in more than 15 years that a common cold has not turned into a full-blown sinus or respiratory infection. I simply had a cold and recovered… without antibiotics or anything more than a bit of cough syrup at night so I could sleep. I find this amazing!

If you’ve read my blog before, you may recall I have always suffered from severe allergies and fought sinus and respiratory infections on a regular basis. These infections often lasted for a full three weeks minimum and then the cough would hang on for months. As a result, I was often tired and run down with low resistance and the cycle would start all over again.

But, today’s post is not about illness… it’s about recovering and being well! I have worked hard the past year to live a healthful lifestyle and believe it has paid off. One important thing I learned during the process is that everybody (and every body) is different. You cannot take a health plan and follow it without question and expect it to work. If you truly want health, you must work to find what your individual body responds to and how it reacts to changes in diet, exercise, medication, etc.

This is what worked for me:

1. Removed wheat from my diet. I do not claim to be gluten intolerant because I do not suffer from celiac disease. But, I do have a wheat allergy and my body rebels when I eat it. This allergy caused problems with my immune system and resulted in allergy problems that often turned into infections, etc.

2. Gradually decreased all medication. Only when you observe your body without medication, do you know exactly what your health issues and concerns are. (This does not apply to life-saving heart or blood pressure medications… so do not decrease those if you are taking them). After eliminating wheat from my diet, my immune system began to function better and my allergy issues changed. Only when I quit taking all medications did I know what I was truly dealing with. I’ve gone from taking six prescription medications daily to one prescription and an occasional over-the-counter med.

3. Began taking vitamins. My immune system was a wreck and I needed to strengthen it, so I looked for vitamins that would help. I take a liquid Vitamin C and Vitamin D daily, along with Vitamin B-12 tablet. This combination helps me feel good with increased energy.

4. Changed my eating plan. Not only did I eliminate wheat, I tried to reduce processed foods and eat more fruits and vegetables. It’s amazing how my system responds to healthful food.

5. Exercise. I used to think exercise wasn’t worth it if I didn’t go spend two hours at the gym working out. I finally realized I need to gradually work up to a full exercise routine. If my muscles are out of shape, I can’t suddenly do a hard-core work out and expect to get good results. I began doing short walks or bike rides a couple of times per week. Then I purchased a kayak and began taking that out on the river on the weekends. Or, I would spend time mowing the yard or working in the garden. The more time I spent outside doing different forms of exercise, the more I enjoyed it. I am now doing about an hour of exercise 4 to 5 times per week, and working toward doing something every day.

6. Listen to my body. Yes, it talks to me. It lets me know if what I’m doing works or not. It lets me know when I need more sleep… when I’ve eaten something questionable… when the air is too dry. If I pay attention, I know what I need to do (or not do) to feel good.

So consider many forms of health plans and research them, from eating, to exercise, to vitamins. Find out what works for you personally and develop your own plan. It’s easy to follow a routine when you get results and you feel good. With making some changes, you will feel immediate results… others will take a while, but stick with it. It’s worth it.

Strive to be healthy!

Cold image courtesy of Reduce the Spread of the Common Cold

INFLAMMATION by Vickie Kline

Anyone who suffers from inflammation understands the Latin origin, “inflammo,” meaning “I set alight, I ignite“. Inflammation is the body working to protect an area that has been injured by developing a protective tissue around the area. This could be from chronic arthritis, an injury or broken bone, pulled muscles, etc. Inflammation shows symptoms of pain, heat, redness, swelling, and loss of function. So the description of “feels like someone holding a blow torch against my skin” is very accurate. The area will appear red and swollen and be tender to touch.

When something harmful or irritating affects a part of our body, the body will try to heal itself through a biological response to try to remove it. Inflammation is different from an infection, which is caused by bacteria, a virus, or fungus. The inflammation is the body’s response to an infection.

For more information on inflammation and how to treat it, join the staff at Innerworks Holistic Health Center (Wichita, KS) this Saturday. There will be informational presentations and testing available throughout the day. See the flyer for additional info of all Innerworks is offering.

Strive to be healthy!

Info shared courtesy of Medical News Today

RECIPE FRIDAY: Chickpea salad

I made this last weekend and it was so tasty, I ate it before snapping a picture. So as you’re putting it together you’ll have to imagine what the final product will look like. But, it will be beautiful and taste great!

Ingredients:

1 can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)

1/2 can black beans (drained and rinsed)

1/2 cup celery (chopped)

1/2 can diced tomatoes (drained)

1/4 cup onion

extra virgin olive oil

garlic, salt, pepper to taste

Place chickpeas, black beans, and celery in bowl. Stir in diced tomatoes and onion (you can use yellow onion or green onion). Coat with olive oil and add seasoning to your liking. This is a healthy protein salad that goes well with any entrée. You can make substitutions on the type of beans used and replace celery with carrots or zucchini (anything with crunch for texture). Enjoy…

Strive to be healthy!

DECREASE FLU RISK by Vickie Kline

Flu season is upon us. The flu virus tends to spread from October to May, with most cases occurring in January and February. This highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory tract (nose, throat, and lungs), is often confused with a common cold, but symptoms are more severe. A person will run a fever with the flu, and experience a headache, dry cough, sore throat, muscle aches, diarrhea, and nausea or vomiting. These symptoms will last for approximately 7 to 10 days.

There is never any guarantee the flu will pass you by during the season, but by taking precautions (as suggested by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), you can decrease the risk of contracting the flu or spreading it to others with the following:

1. If you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, then throw it away. Do not carry it around in your pocket or re-use.

2. Frequently wash your hands with soap and water. If you find this too drying, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Germs are spread when we touch someone or something that is infected and then touch our own eyes, nose, or mouth.

4. Try to avoid contact with others who are sick.

5. If you do get sick, try to stay away from healthy people. The “rule of thumb” is to stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever breaks. If you employer complains because you miss work, simply explain you’re doing everyone a favor by staying home!

6. Get a flu vaccine, especially if you have a chronic health condition and are at higher risk for the flu.

Strive to be healthy! Especially during the upcoming flu season…

Information shared courtesy of Medicine Net and Families Fighting Flu / Image courtesy of Flu Facts

RECIPE FRIDAY: Chicken Butternut Squash Soup with black beans

With cold weather finally appearing, I was definitely in the mood for soup. This one has a great taste and is easy to put together.

This recipe shared courtesy of Serious Eats (with a few of my personal changes)

Ingredients

1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into medium dice

1 medium yellow onion, cut into medium dice

4 chicken thighs

2 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

4 cups soup stock (low sodium chicken, vegetable, or my homemade soup stock)

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1-2 tablespoons lemon juice

Fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 425. Arrange squash, onion, and chicken on baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss to coat. Roast until chicken is cooked through and squash is tender, about 30 minutes.

When chicken has cooled, (pull from bone if used bone-in chicken), discard bones and skin. Chop into cubes and set aside.

Combine squash, onions, and chicken broth in medium pot. Add cumin, coriander, and garlic and bring to a simmer. With a potato masher, mash the soup (it will be chunky), then add lemon juice and black beans. Add chicken, season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Top with fresh cilantro if desired.

Eat right and Strive to be healthy!

EYE MASKS by Vickie Kline

I have often wondered about the use of an eye mask to relieve puffy eyes or allergy symptoms. I decided to try one to see if I noticed improvement and was pleasantly surprised with the result. The mask also felt wonderful on my tired eyes. Felt like I was having a spa day in the middle of the afternoon…

With today’s lifestyles of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices, it’s only natural we experience eye strain, headaches, stress, and other side effects. An eye mask that can be heated or cooled is a simple product that can relieve many of these symptoms. For instance, to relieve a common headache in the upper facial area due to tension or stress, a gel mask cooled in the refrigerator and placed on your face for 20 to 30 minutes will loosen tense muscle tissue that is tight and uncomfortable. Or, if your eyes are puffy from eye strain or polluted air, an eye mask is a great approach to give your eyes time to rest. By blocking out light and giving your eyes a break, you’ll feel the difference immediately.

Gel masks are also good therapy for sinus congestion too. With sinus problems, you may experience swelling and/or pain in the nostril, eye, and forehead areas. Placing a heated or chilled gel mask on your face will minimize the symptoms, help you recover more quickly, and keep you moving.

Once you’ve decided to try an eye mask, how can you determine which is the best choice? Most of it is personal preference, but you will have four types to choose from, depending on your symptoms: 1) A sleep mask, which is used as a sleep aid blocks light and enables you to rest comfortably whether you are an insomniac, a light sleeper, or regular traveler in a strange place. This mask will give you a higher quality of rest. 2) A therapeutic sleeping mask comes with a lavender, mint, or natural aroma for therapeutic benefits. The scent will work to relieve sinus congestion and reduce stress. 3) A gel mask, which is not used to aid in sleep, but is therapeutic related will take hot or cold temperatures. A heated gel mask is exceptional for migraines, stress reduction, and muscle relaxation. A refrigerated gel mask will lessen swelling or redness around the eyes due to allergies, surgery, sun exposure, or insufficient sleep. This is a versatile mask that works for many problems. 4) A facial eye mask is a completely different product from a gel mask, but offers similar health benefits when placed right below the eye area.

So, gel masks are not only for spa days. They can be used on a daily basis for relaxation, stress reduction, and general therapeutic benefits. Give your eyes a rest and treat them right with an eye mask.

Strive to be healthy!