Monthly Archives: November 2013

Boost your Energy

Boost your energy: Holistic pick-me-ups

You’re utterly exhausted and still have a full to-do list to get through. Rather than reach for another cup of coffee, try some holistic healing, which focuses on the whole person—not just the part of you that’s not feeling well. Here are five whole-body ways to recharge your batteries and boost your energy:

Get moving. It’s the last thing you feel like doing when you’re wiped out, but physical activity can wake you up and improve your mood. Even a 10- or 15-minute walk will help you power through the rest of your day. Bonus: Exercise can also reduce stress, keep blood pressure and cholesterol in check and help you maintain a healthy weight. Aim for at least 30 minutes a day most days of the week.

Eat breakfast. It’s tempting to skip your morning meal, especially when you’re in a rush, but a healthy breakfast refuels your body and jump-starts your day. There’s even evidence that eating in the a.m. can improve productivity and concentration and help with weight control. Ward off midday fatigue with a bowl of oatmeal or high-fiber, low-sugar cereal or a fruit smoothie (toss frozen fruit, low-fat yogurt and juice in the blender for a few seconds).

Lighten up! Laughing quickens your pulse, stimulates blood circulation, increases oxygen intake and activates your muscles. Studies show that laughter also boosts levels of endorphins, your body’s “feel-good” hormones. So when you feel like you’re about to crash, give a funny friend a call or check out an amusing video online.

Snack wisely. Avoid sugary snacks—they’ll make you sleepy. Instead, opt for foods with a good balance of carbohydrates and protein, which can help maintain blood sugar levels and boost energy throughout the day. Try low-fat yogurt topped with cereal, whole-wheat crackers with cheese or half a peanut butter sandwich on whole-wheat bread.

Seek calm. It may be stress that’s sapping your energy. Ease your tension—and get energized—with alternative therapies such as aromatherapy or massage.

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Recipe: Artichoke Cranberry Stuffing

Get creative with cranberries this holiday season! Cranberries are an excellent source of vitamin C as well as high in fiber. This dish is also great for vegetarian guests.

Ingredients
8 artichokes (medium size), prepared and cooked as directed for whole
2 cups carrots, chopped
1 cup onions, chopped
5 cups breadcrumbs
2 cups cranberries, freshly chopped (for easier chopping, freeze cranberries and chop with food processor fitted with metal blade)
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon crushed dried thyme
½ tsp. ground allspice
⅓ cup orange juice
pepper to taste

Directions
Remove outer petals from artichokes; save to enjoy as an appetizer or snack. Remove center petals and fuzzy centers of artichokes; trim out hearts. Chop hearts and place in a large bowl. Set aside.

Steam carrots and onions for 8 to 10 minutes, or until carrots are nearly tender. Add steamed vegetables to artichokes; stir in breadcrumbs, cranberries, thyme and allspice. Toss until well combined. Sprinkle orange juice over mixture to moisten stuffing as desired. Toss well; season with pepper.

Bake in a lightly greased baking dish, covered, during the last 30 to 40 minutes of roasting.

Makes 10 servings. Per serving: 160 calories, 1 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 230 mg sodium, 35 g carbohydrates, 11 g dietary fiber, 7 g sugar, 8 g protein.

Recipe courtesy of fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov

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Recipe: Carrot Cookies

Carrot cookies
Sneak some veggies into your holiday treats with a healthier spin on oatmeal cookies.

Ingredients
½ cup margarine (soft)
1 cup honey
1 cup carrot (grated raw)
2 egg whites (well beaten)
2 cups flour (all purpose)
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 cups oatmeal, quick cooking (raw)
1 cup raisins

Directions
In a large bowl, cream together margarine and honey. Stir in carrots and egg whites.

Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, oatmeal and raisins. Gradually stir flour-oatmeal mixture into creamed mixture, just until all flour is mixed. Do not over mix.

Drop from teaspoon on greased baking sheet. Flatten slightly and bake at 350°F for 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Makes 30 servings. Per serving: 130 calories, 3.5g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 105mg sodium, 24g carbohydrates, 1g dietary fiber, 13g sugar, 2g protein, 15 percent vitamin A, 0 percent vitamin C, 2 percent calcium, 4 percent iron.

Recipe courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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10 Tips for Healthy Sleep

November 3rd is the end of daylight savings time, allowing us to “fall back” an hour, and what better time than now to improve your sleep habits? A healthy sleep schedule offers endless benefits, including lower stress, healthier weight, better brain function, and a stronger immune system.

Here are 10 healthy sleep tips from the National Sleep Foundation*:

  1. Maintain a regular bedtime and wake-up time, even on weekends.
    Our sleep-wake cycle is regulated by a “circadian clock” in our brain and the body’s need to balance both sleep time and wake time. Waking up at the same time every morning strengthens the body’s ability to onset sleep at the same time each night.
  2. Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routines.
    A relaxing routine before bed helps separate activity from sleep. Avoid stimulating activities and calming down before bed can ease the transition into deeper sleep. Also, avoid exposure to bright light like computer or phone screens before bedtime because it tells the neurons that help control the sleep-wake cycle that it is time to wake up, not to sleep.
  3. Create a sleep-friendly environment that is quiet, dark, and cool.
    Make sure where you sleep has good conditions for rest– quiet, cool, dark, comfortable and free of interruptions. Consider using blackout curtains, white noise machines,  humidifiers, etc.
  4. Use a comfortable and supportive mattress and pillow.
    Make sure your mattress is comfortable and supportive. Good quality mattresses last about 9 or 10 years, so it may be time for a replacement. Have comfortable pillows and make the room inviting for sleep.
  5. Keep work out of the bedroom.
    It is best to leave screens and work materials out of the sleeping environment, to strengthen the association between bed and sleep. If you associate a particular activity or item with anxiety about sleeping, omit it from your bedtime routine. For example, if looking at a clock makes you anxious about how much time you have before you must get up, move the clock out of sight. Do not engage in activities that cause you anxiety and prevent you from sleeping.
  6. Make sure to finish eating 2-3 hours before bedtime.
    It is best to avoid a heavy meal too close to bedtime, for eating or drinking too much can make it difficult to sleep well. Also, spicy foods may cause heartburn, which leads to difficulty falling asleep and discomfort during the night. Try to avoid drinking a lot of liquid before bed, as it may lead to waking up to use the bathroom during the night, unless a cup of warm milk or non-caffeinated tea is part of your wind-down bedtime routine.
  7. Routinely exercise.
    Intense exercise is encouraged, but even light exercise is better than no activity. Exercise at any time of day, but not at the expense of sleep.
  8. Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening.
    Caffeine is a stimulant, and therefore interferes with sleep. Caffeinated beverages remain in the body on average from 3 to 5 hours, but they can affect some up to 12 hours later. Even if you feel that caffeine doesn’t affect you, it may be disrupting the quality of your sleep. Avoid caffeine within 6-8 hours of going to bed to help improve sleep quality.
  9. Avoid nicotine.
    Nicotine is also a stimulant, and smoking before bed makes it more difficult to fall asleep. Nicotine can cause difficulty falling asleep, problems waking in the morning, and may also cause nightmares. Plus, smokers experience withdrawal symptoms from nicotine, which also causes sleep problems. Difficulty sleeping is just one more reason to quit smoking!
  10. Avoid alcohol close to bedtime.
    Though alcohol is a depressant, it actually disrupts sleep, causing nighttime awakenings. Consuming alcohol leads to lower quality sleep.

With the holidays soon approaching, use this time to catch up on rest and establish healthy sleep patterns. If you are having sleep problems, the Sleep Disorders Center at Rex has five locations throughout Wake County to help you get back on track!

 

*Source: http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/sleep-topics/healthy-sleep-tips

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