Stool, poo, number 2, bowel movement, poop, whatever you want to call it, you should be looking at it! I know this makes some people squeamish, but it is so important. Your digestion is the cornerstone of your health and your stool gives you a lot of clues about what is going on in there. To learn more about what happens in your gut and how important all the little bacteria friends that live there are, check out my article 10% Human.
So, what should you look for? To start with you want to check the consistency. Check out this chart to give you an idea of what you are looking for. Too hard or too soft are both indications of trouble brewing. You want your stool to look like Type 4.
You also want to look at size, colour and frequency and if there is any mucus or undigested food in there.
Check your stool for a few days and if you have any issues you really want to sort them out as issues in your gut are associated with health issues in all other parts of your body. The solution depends on what the problem is. Every problem has a different solution. It is really best to talk to a naturopath if you think there is anything going on with your digestion so that you can get the right answers and be on the road to a healthier you.
Did you know that almonds are good for wrinkles? In a study of postmenopausal women, those who were given 20% of their daily calories as almonds had less wrinkle severity and less wrinkle width after a study time of just 16 weeks.
Almonds are full of good fats and protein along with vitamins and minerals. They are a great snack, and also good for wrinkles it seems!
I eat almonds all the time, usually as almond butter for breakfast or a snack. Here though is a recipe you can’t turn down. Although perhaps not the healthiest way to eat almonds, it is certainly one of the most delicious. And we all need something sweet sometimes so we might as well make it as healthy as we can.
2 cups dark chocolate chips (really good quality ones. I like the organic 70% cocoa ones from Honest to Goodness)
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp salt
1 cup almonds (smashed)
2 cups rice puffs
Put the chocolate chips, coconut oil and salt in a bowl. Put in the microwave until chocolate starts to melt. Stir occasionally. Keep heating until the chocolate is completely melted. Stir until all mixed together.
Smash up the almonds. I like to put them in a silicone bag and smash them with a rolling pin.
Add the almonds and rice puffs to the chocolate.
Spread the mixture out onto a non-stick mat to desired thickness.
Leave the mixture to sit for about an hour or until it is completely hard. The length of time needed will depend on room temperature.
Once hard, break up by hand or cut with a knife.
Store in an air-tight container.
Here is a link to the study abstract if you are interested:
My kids love spaghetti. It is one of the few dinners where everyone is excited and there are never any complaints. To be honest though, I really don’t have time to make my own sauce. Would it be healthier if I made my own? For sure! Will that ever happen? Unlikely! Sometimes we have to make compromises that result in healthier options for everyone.
My sauce is loaded with vegetables. There is loads of colour in there that everyone happily eats. Then I add a couple jars of Macro organic pasta sauce. It contains all real ingredients with no chemicals. I can read every single word in the ingredients list! I’m sure I could make this slightly healthier myself with a bit less sugar, but there really isn’t much in this sauce and given that everyone happily eats a couple servings of vegetables for dinner, I consider this a win.
To make it even healthier you could use zucchini noodles instead of pasta. I haven’t personally tried this, but others say it is great.
Making home-made dinners doesn’t always have to be hard and time consuming. Some store-bought sauces contain all-natural ingredients and will ensure that everyone is getting the benefits of super nutritious vegetables. If this is something that is holding you back from making home-made dinners, don’t stress. Buy some sauce and mix it with a load of vegetables. You are definitely winning.
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 large clove garlic (cut fine)
½ large onion
2 large carrots
1 large zucchini
1 head of broccoli
1 red capsicum (pepper)
500g Organic beef mince (ground beef)
2 jars Macro organic tomato, garlic and basil chunky pasta sauce
Cut up the vegetables to bite sized pieces
Put the coconut oil in the pan with the vegetables and cook for a few minutes
Add the beef and cook until meat is browned, and the vegetables are cooked through
Add the sauce and heat until warmed through
Put over wheat spaghetti or zucchini pasta as desired
*These are my preferred vegetables, but really any will do. Just load it up with lots of colour.
Is there a connection between dairy consumption and nasal secretions? (we’re talking snot here people).
There is much controversy around dairy and its health benefits versus drawbacks. I’m not going to get into the whole thing today. I just want to talk about nasal congestion and dairy. Many people will try to say that no matter what you should always consume dairy for its calcium content. There have been studies in the past, but I found a recent one clearly showing that drinking dairy increases nasal secretions.
The participants had no allergy nor intolerance to dairy, and all had a history of persistent nasal mucous secretions. All participants went completely dairy free for 6 days and then after that had either a dairy smoothie or soy smoothie each day for 4 days. All participants had less secretions during the initial stage. The dairy smoothie group had significantly increased nasal secretions compared to the soy group. This was a double blinded study meaning that neither the researchers nor the participants knew who drank the dairy and who drank the soy.
So, if you have persistent nasal secretions (or lots of snot), or have a cold, it might be worth taking dairy out of your diet for a few days and see what happens.
So here it is. This is the recipe that I use to make muffins to sell. These are healthy, delicious, dairy-free, sugar-free and lunchbox friendly. They are super versatile as you can make the base and then add whatever flavourings you want. You can easily make several different muffin types in one batch.
In these muffins there is no sugar (unless you add the chocolate chips) no dairy (as long as you use dairy-free chocolate chips) and no nuts. They do contain plenty of fruit, whole grains, healthy fats and even a vegetable! Everyone in the family loves the berry and apple versions, but my daughter is a bit of a chocolate fiend, so I make some chocolate chip for everyone as well.
I like to make muffins that are on the smaller side to go into lunch boxes for my little people, so this recipe usually makes about 36 muffins. They freeze really well and can be pulled out when you are in a rush. I hope your family enjoys them as much as mine does!
This makes the base. Then you can add whatever flavourings you feel like. Some ideas are:
2 cups dark chocolate chips or chunks (I often cut up a Green & Black’s 70% organic dark chocolate bar)
6 medium apples cut into small chunks
2 cups mixed berries (I defrost some frozen ones)
1 cup cacao powder
Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius fan forced (380 degrees Fahrenheit). Grease muffin tray with coconut oil if necessary. I use a silicone tray that does not require it.
Melt the coconut oil in a large bowl if it is solid. Beat in the eggs, applesauce, maple syrup and vanilla until it is all mixed. I find the stand mixer works best for this.
Add the mashed banana and grated zucchini.
If the coconut oils gets cold it can separate. If this happens, put your bowl into the sink surrounded by warm water and gently stir until the oil melts and mixes back in.
Mix all the dry ingredients together in another bowl. If you can, get ‘help’ like I did.
Stir the wet and dry ingredients together.
If you are going to make different flavours, now is the time to split the mixture into separate bowls.
Add chocolate chips, apple pieces or berries to each bowl and stir until mixed.
Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling each cup about two-thirds full. Bake muffins for 16-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.
Place the muffin tin on a cooling rack to cool. You might need to run a butter knife along the outer edge of the muffins to loosen them from the pan. Enjoy now or freeze some for later. Oh and remember not to feel guilty about eating them, because they are actually healthy!
*I find it best to use previously frozen bananas. Freezing them seems to break down the cell walls and makes the muffins moister.
SMART is an acronym. It stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Based. This is a great way to set goals for anything, but particularly good for health goals.
Specific goals are clear and detailed. You want them to be measurable so that you know when you have reached your goal. Make sure your goals are actually attainable. If you don’t run, you probably won’t be doing a marathon in 6 weeks. Be realistic so that you can achieve your goals. Once this goal is achieved, we can always set new ones. Make sure your goals are relevant. They need to be important to you, not someone else. And give yourself a time by which you want to achieve your goal. Open ended goals make motivation difficult.
When making health goals I want them to have meaning to you. I don’t want you to say you to just say will lose xx kilograms, or xx inches. Losing weight may be needed in order to achieve your goal, but what do you want to do. Give your goal meaning.
Some examples could be:
In 6 weeks I want to be able to walk up the stairs without getting out of breath.
In 6 months I want to be able to run 5km.
In 3 months I want to be able to bike ride with my child.
In 6 months I want to be able to carry around my new born grandchild.
In 3 months I want to wake up happy and full of energy
Make your goals something that will make you happy. Something that will change your life.
Make yourself 3 health goals following the below structure:
In _____________________________________ (time in weeks or months), I will be able to:
Usually we go home to Canada in July which is just when my lemon tree in Australia is ripening. I end up picking them all before I leave and handing them out to friends. But things being what they are this year, we didn’t go anywhere. So trying to find the silver lining (if you really want to see it!), I have been baking lots of lemon recipes. My family loves muffins, so lemon muffins was an obvious choice. So without any further ado, here is my healthy lemon chia muffin recipe!
There are two different kinds of exercise – incidental and planned. Planned is when you go out to just do exercise. When you go for a run, to the gym, for a bike ride, boot camp etc. Incidental exercise is all the exercise that you get through your day-to-day activities: walking to the train, walking to school, walking around the office, running after the kids in the backyard.
Planned or structured exercise is great, but this doesn’t always fit into the day. One of the barriers to exercise is that people often don’t feel like they have time to go to the gym for an hour. Whereas planned exercise takes time, incidental exercise is often done while doing other things and it can be really helpful for our health as we do it more often. Any amount of exercise is beneficial and lots of short spurts of exercise can have the same effect on your health as a longer session.
I like to turn planned exercise into incidental. Don’t get me wrong, I love to just go for a bike ride or walk the dog. But I also like to go out with purpose. I have a bike trailer that I used to use with the kids but now I take it to the shops to get groceries instead of driving. And the kicker is no matter how tired I might be; I have to make it back. Really this only adds about 10 minutes each way, but now I have incorporated exercising into shopping.
The kids’ school is about 10 minutes away. If I walk there and back that’s 20 minutes. If I do that twice a day, at least 3 days a week I’ve done 60 minutes of walking! So I’ve made a big dent into my 150-minute goal and I haven’t even gotten started on my planned exercise yet.
Some other ways you can add incidental exercise into your day are parking further from the train and adding a 10-minute walk there and back each day. Take the stairs instead of the lift or escalator. Do squats while brushing your teeth – 2 minutes per brush, 2 brushes per day times 7 days equals 28 minutes of exercise and you haven’t taken time away from anything else in your day.
The possibilities are endless. You just have to be creative and see what fits into your lifestyle. So, what are some ways that you get incidental exercise?