Healthy Waffles for Breakfast

Today I tried a new brand of waffles for the first time from, Van’s Natural Foods. I had their lite, whole grain, wheat waffles variety, along with Log Cabin syrup. My sister (who is a bigger health nut than me) introduced me to Log Cabin syrup, which has no high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). I love it, because it’s just as yummy as Aunt Jemima syrup–the stuff I grew up on!

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I believe in everything in moderation. I don’t think it hurts to have a spoon of that delicious Aunt Jemima syrup occasionally. But if you’re like me, and you can eat waffles every day for breakfast, I would stick to the syrup with no HFCS. I wanted to learn more about HFCS, so I did a little research. I knew that it wasn’t good for you, but what I didn’t know is that HFCS causes inflammation in the body. That was it for me. This is what else you should know about HFCS:

  • High fructose corn syrup is extracted through corn stalks and chemically processed and used as a sweetner.
  • It is almost always a marker of poor-quality, nutrient-poor disease-creating industrial food products or “food-like substances”.
  • It contains contaminants including mercury that are not regulated or measured by the FDA.

It’s always better to go for the HFCS-free foods when you can. If you want to learn more about HFCS, here’s the link to a great article by Dr. Mark Hyman who explains what HFCS is and how it affects our bodies. The title of the article, 5 Reasons High Fructose Corn Syrup Will Kill You, I admit is a bit dramatic, but the article is insightful and interesting, nonetheless.

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Seafood and What It Does For Your Health

I came across this on the Twitterverse today, and I thought it was neat. There is a website called SeafoodHealthFacts.org that provides the health benefits and risks of eating seafood. Since I currently live in New Orleans, the land of seafood, I thought it was pretty cool.

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I never used to think much about the food I consumed and its affect on our health, until after I got sick. That’s when I became really interested in learning about how foods can help us heal. Lots of different seafood offer proteins, vitamins and minerals. The website includes credible and detailed information on:

  • The nutritional benefits of various species of seafood
  • Seafood safety, sustainability, regulations
  • The risk vs. benefits of consuming seafood

I’m a New Orleans girl at heart, and I grew up cracking crawfish and crab legs. So, this is good news for me and my health. But how about a fried shrimp po’boy with all the trimmings? Mmmm! Does that count?

This Is Your Life & Six Ways to Look at It

I came across this article yesterday and I loved it, so I had to share it. Mindfulness is something I became familiar with after my diagnosis over a year and a half ago. It is a practice that I continuously work at incorporating into my life. It’s one of those things that I always feel better when I do, but it’s easy to put off. Sort of like exercising.

The writer of this article interviewed the founders of Holstee, a company that designs unique products with a focus on mindful living. The company is most known for its’ Holstee Manifesto, which you may have heard of, and which I believe are words to live by. Here are the six tips the founders suggested for practicing mindfulness to reframe your perspective on life.

1. Presence

When in conversation, give someone your fullest attention. Put the computer away, turn your phone on silent, and get lost in the moment with that person. Be fully interested, rather than interesting.

2. Architect Your Life

Be considerate and intentional with your life decisions. Rather than let life happen to you, author the story of your life. Author and philosopher Howard Thurman says it best with, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

3. Taking time for yourself creates clarity and renewed energy. At Holstee, they strongly suggest all teammates take their birthday day off each month.

4. Ask “Why?”

Why am I doing this? Why are we creating this product? Why is this a design principle? Asking “why” encourages you to go deeper and become more aware of what’s driving you, and whether or not you want it to be driving you.

5. Know Your Food and Appreciate Meals

What are you eating and where did it come from? As a society, over the last 50 years, we’ve created a knowledge and geographic gap as we’ve distanced ourselves from our food. To stay aware, the team at Holstee cooks in the office almost every day, and meal times are savored without work.

6. Understand the impact of what you buy

Transparency is slowly being built into the operations of many forward-thinking companies. This movement is a direct result of the increasing number of people asking questions about the clothes they buy, where their electronics come from, and brands they choose to support. Before buying, understand the impact.

You can read the full article on Fast Company by writer Amber Rae, here.

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“I’m a Grown Woman!” (Says me)

This post is mostly for the wonderful women in my life, who know me best, who will probably shake their heads when they read this, and who will hopefully laugh out loud.

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Yesterday, I had a moment. I’ve had many moments since I moved back home with my parents.

On this particular day, I was home reading when my brother called me. He was working alone and he asked me if I could bring him lunch. He is a small business owner and his shop is just a few minutes away from my parents’ house.  I jumped up right away (because I, myself, do not like to be hungry for long without food. My alter ego comes out, and its not a pretty sight!

So, I hurriedly threw some clothes on and scrambled out of the door. As I was walking out, I realized I had on shorts.

Not a problem, except that my brother is the epitome of an over-protective, big brother. And as a brother to three women, I sympathize for him. Really, I do. But he can be exasperating at times. He is not fond of his little (and big) sisters wearing short, tight, (i.e. attractive) clothes. I sighed to myself, and started to turn around to change. I should just save myself the lecture, I thought.

Then, I stopped myself. No, I am not going to change, I declared! I would not allow him to tell me what to wear (or how to live my life). Besides, I had an appointment on the other side of town at 2 o’clock, and I didn’t have time to go back and change.

My brother, the poor guy. He wasn’t aware that I was in the midst of the “Finding out who I am, and being my own person” stage of life. Or the “quarter life crisis” as some people refer to it. He had no idea that the culmination of me living back at home as an independent adult for six months was about to come down on him. Someone always has to bare the brunt of these things. Little did he know, it would be him.

On my way to get his lunch from Subway, I played the dialogue out in my head. I knew exactly what he’d say. I came up with a well-thought out response. Do you sometimes engage in conversations in your mind, that you intend to have with someone else? I know I’m not the only one who does that! I quickly grabbed his order and headed his way.

When I arrived, he was tending to a customer. I watched him carefully, noticing the quick glance he shot at my legs. I darted to the back of the store to wait for him. When hemfinished, he walked over to greet me warmly. And by warmly, I mean…

“Dude, where is the rest of your clothes??” he said with a hint of annoyance in his voice.  “First of all, thank you for lunch,” he said. And then he got to what was really on his mind.

“Now, you are a young lady, and you do not need to be out here wearing shorts showing your legs. There are perverts out here who are looking at you. Hmm. That’s true. My subconscious agreed with the last part. But for heaven’s sake, these were ordinary, stone-washed, denim shorts. Not that short.

But I was ready for him!

“I’m a growwwn woman!” I belted out at him (hearing Beyonce’s voice in my head). “And I will wear what I want, say how I feel, and believe what I want to believe!”

He looked at me with a perplexed expression. Clearly, he was wayyy in over his head, and this was a battle that he did not want to fight.

“Ok, Summer. You are a grown woman,” he said. Then, he shook his head slightly, and quietly retreated.

That’s it? No arguing? No chance for me to give a big speech about my coming out? So anti-climactic. I was a bit disappointed, but still satisfied with the outcome, overall.

“Now, I have an appointment to get to,” I said presumptuously. “Enjoy your lunch.” I flashed him a smug smile. My inner-self roared with delight, as I sauntered out of there, half of me proud, and half of me amused by my own antics.

Oh well. It’s the small victories that count.

Vitamin B12 and What it Does for You

Do you know about vitamin B12 and what it does for our bodies? I’ve seen it in passing, but never really paid much attention to it, until recently. I was doing some research on the medicine that I take, colchicine, when B12 caught my eye. I learned that taking colchicine at a high dose and for an extended period of time can cause depletions of certain vitamins and minerals in the body.

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B12 is one of those vitamins. After I learned this, I asked my doctor to test my B12 levels. My levels were average, but he wanted them a little higher, so he recommended I take B12 over-the-counter. So, I got to my research right away, like a good journalist would! This is what I found.

Here’s what B12 does for you:

1. It helps in the manufacturing of red blood cells in the body

2. It supports the nervous system

3. It is required for the replication of DNA–generating new and healthy cells

Vitamin B12 is found in the following foods:

  • Fish, meat, poultry, eggs and milk
  • Beef liver and clams are the best sources of vitamin B12
  • Some breakfast cereals, nutritional yeasts and other food products are fortified with vitamin B12

The recommended amount of Vitamin B12 for adults is 2.4mcg (micrograms). Most people in the United States get enough vitamin B12 from the foods they eat. But some people have trouble absorbing it from food. Vitamin B12 deficiency causes tiredness, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, weight loss, and megaloblastic anemia, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Have you heard of B12 shots? I heard of them but I didn’t know what the purpose or benefit is. Well, some proponents of vitamin B-12 injections say it gives you more energy and boosts your metabolism, helping you lose weight. But unless you have a vitamin B-12 deficiency, vitamin B-12 injections aren’t likely to give you an energy boost, according to the Mayo clinic. Leave that to being active and eating healthy!

To learn more about Vitamin B12, visit this link at the National Institutes of Health website.

Today is National Book Lovers Day!

I love this quote! I saw this picture today on Love, InshAllah, a blog that I follow, and I had to repost it. I’ve always loved reading books, but I have especially relied on it as a source of inspiration the past six months. It has been a major part of my healing process. Some of my best learning moments come through reading.

Isn’t it such a great feeling to lay down in bed underneath the covers, and  open up a new book? Few things bring me greater pleasure then the excitement that comes from the beginning of a great story. I know all the lovely ladies in my life will feel me on this one 🙂

Happy National Book Lovers Day!

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The Happiness Project–Finding Happiness Everyday

I first came across The Happiness Project when I was at the airport in Atlanta last September. The title, The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, And Generally Have More Fun, and the bright blue cover caught my eye. I added it to my book list, but I didn’t buy it at the time because I already had quite a few books on my list . But I knew I really wanted to read it at some point.

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About two months ago, a dear friend of mine, who had just lost his mother to sickle cell anemia, told me that he had a book that he wanted me to read. He enjoyed reading it and he thought it was perfect for me.  I was pleasantly surprised when I received a package in the mail the following week. Inside was The Happiness Project. He hadn’t mentioned the title when we spoke on the phone, and he had no idea that I had it on my book list. Isn’t it interesting how those things work out?

The Happiness Project is my favorite pick for the summer. It details author Gretchen Rubin’s one year journey to find ordinary ways to live a happier life. One of the things I love about the book, besides the insightful, engaging writing, is Rubin’s practical approach. In the midst of her busy life in New York City, Rubin realizes one day that although she lives an overall satisfying life, she can do more to feel happier.

Instead of taking a big leap that we might think of as a way to “finding happiness”, like leaving a job, or traveling abroad, she incorporates small, practical things into everyday life. I love this approach, because I too believe small steps can lead to a big change.

Rubin’s writing is filled with interesting research on happiness, along with witty, entertaining comments about her own experience. She manages to describe her happiness project in a way that makes you feel as though you are a part of her journey. She breaks the project into twelve months, assigning a happiness goal for each month, and the lesson that she learned from applying each goal. She creates a “happiness chart” to document her progress along the way.

I found The Happiness Project to be both inspiring and uplifting, just as my friend had promised. And it came when I needed it.  It was a much needed reminder of how being grateful, pursuing passions and making a conscious effort to shift our perspective can contribute to a happier, more fulfilling life.

I intend to read The Happiness Project again. And I’ve never read the same book twice! I think it will be one that I keep on my bedside table, and refer to time and time again. I hope you’ll have a chance to read it sometime too.

What’s your favorite read this summer? Please share!