225px-Kombucha_MatureEvery now and again, I like some fizzy drink burning my tongue. In the old days (before becoming a Certified Health Coach) I loved that first sip of Tab or diet Pepsi. Even the “pop” sound it made as I cranked off the top of the can was a rush to my senses.

Years later, I realized how horrendous pop (soda), sugar and artificial sweeteners can be for your health. A raw food friend from the nutrition school I attended turned me on to Kombucha and Synergy drinks, Thank you, Soren, wherever you are and thank you Institute for Integrative Nutrition.

Kombucha is a fermented tea that can provide the body with probiotics for a healthy gut. It is made with sugar but the fermentation process “eats” most of the sugar leaving it as a healthy alternative to pop. Some in the health field argue that it can still lead to candida in the body and is not as beneficial as all of the internet articles may make it appear. My solution? Moderation people!

I tried all of the flavors and settled on the three or four I enjoy the best. Still, I could not get over the high price tag. Another friend found a class for us to attend to become experts at making our own. All we had to bring was a large glass jar and our class fee. 2 hours later we were ready to make an entire gallon for the price of one bottle from the health food store.

Now one of my favorite parts of being a health coach is doing Kombucha parties. I bring store bought as well as homemade and naturally I bring the shot glasses. We try samples of the various flavors and degrees of fizziness. My guests learn what kind of tea to use and what kind of tea will mess with the integrity of the symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY).

The kombucha party guests leave with their baby SCOBY, enough organic black or green tea and organic sugar to start their first batch. I will also include a handout with a truncated version of what we learned during the demo. Consider having a party/demo today, and begin enjoying the health benefits of this yummy probiotic drink.

Note: This is in no way meant to diagnose or cure any health issue.

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Spring Cleaning Part Two

OK folks, so you cleaned out that closet and you are ready to clean and restock the kitchen shelves.   I always like to do one shelf at a time, from top to bottom, with little labels and a marker close at hand. 

I remove all food, take a good all natural cleaning product and wipe down the cupboards.  Next I will check all of the grain containers for those pesky little mealy bugs.  If I see them, I throw out the whole batch right then and there into the trash in my garage……NOT in the kitchen garbage where they will just make their way back into my food supply.  If you have a mealy bug problem too, put a few Bay Leaves on each shelf, as they do not care for the smell.  Make sure that you put your flour and grains from the store right into the freezer for several days before putting them into your airtight containers on your recently cleaned shelves.

Next I will set some realistic goals about what I really want to save.  As much as I hate to waste money and food, things like cereal, crakers and breads can get stale. Out they go to the neighborhood birds.   If I have lots of little containers ( 1/4 – 1/2 a cup) of things like cornmeal, flour, sunflower seeds or quinoa, I see what kind of weird casserole or meal I can pawn off on the family that weekend to get rid of these little leftovers.   If the containers need to be labeled, then I label them with the ingredient as well as the date.  

When this task is done and I am appropriately satisfied with the cupboards, I move onto putting the spices in alphabetical order. Because I use spices so much in my cooking, I generally have to alphabetize them several times throughout the year.  It is worth it when I am in a hurry and need to locate that Turmeric.

I save the worst part for last, and that would be finding all of the lids that match all of the plastic containers I have accumulated over the years.  I have never understood why I always have at least 3 or 4 lids with no container, and 4 or 5 containers with lids that don’t match.   I guess it’s like those socks that get lost in the dryer too!

When your closets and kitchen are ready to go, then you will be ready to get that body cleansed as well.  Stay tuned for Spring Cleaning Part Three.

Your Health Coach,  Leslie

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The Best Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

I pride myself on eating healthy meals, but come on…..every now and then I need a good dose of something “bad”.
These vegan cookies are modified from a few recipes I had that needed a bit of “tweeking”. They are the most similar in taste and appearance to the Nestle tollhouse cookies I used to make before I gave up eggs and cow butter.

1 cup soy butter
1 cup natural sugar (NO Monsanto sugar beets!)
2 tsp. vanilla
3TBS organic applesauce
2TBS water
Cream these ingredients together
Next, add 1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 cups wheat pastry flour
1 to 1 1/4 cups vegan chocolate chips (NOT carob)
After all is mixed, drop onto lightly greased cookie sheets and bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.
This batch will have no cholesterol, no eggs and will make about 50-55 cookies if you can stop eating the raw batter.
Your Health Coach, Leslie

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Spring Cleaning

Spring is official on my calendar, but no one told Mother Nature.  I am still waking up each morning and putting my cold toes onto a cold floor.  Still, I am ready for spring cleaning in my home, starting with my closet.  If I see something in my closet that I have not even bohered to wear in the last year, it goes to eBay or Goodwill.  

When I see pants I think I may slim down for, I must ask myself if they will still be in style by the time I reach this fantasy. I recently still hung onto what my teenage daughters call “Mom pants”.  You know the ones……they have at least a 7 inch zipper and go past the belly button! Needless to say, they went out the door.  I see a couple of pairs of pants that are too big for me and I ask “Do I really want to be THAT size again?”  Pants that are too big are just sending you a negative vibe that you WILL slip back up the scales.  Throw them out now.  With so many consignment shops, Clearance racks and stores like Kohl’s and Target, is there really a need to hang onto old stuff?

It is time to break out of that depression mentality, upgrade that wardrobe, and get that significant other looking in your direction again!

Your Health Coach, Leslie

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Chew That Food!!!

I am a wife, mother of three, and work several part time jobs. I am often in a big rush and choke down a meal on the go. Well, when I learned that most of our carbohydrates are actually broken down in the mouth and not the stomach, I began to slow down. Being a carbohydrate junkie ( yes, carbs are actually OK . Just ask your health coach), I realized that I had better slow down.
I tried an experiment where I counted the amount of chews I was actually taking, and it averaged out to a paltry 13 times before swallowing. I worked my way up to about 30, but many feel that you should chew about 50 times. Yikes. Who has time for that? My advice: Try to make time for 50!
Chewing your food allows your mind to slow down and really enjoy the meal. As you chew, begin to think about how the food was prepared, how healthy it will be for your body, how grateful you are that you have food, and how pleasurable it is to eat without the TV, radio or computer on. When I eat in front of the TV or in my car, I don’t really know when I am full, and tend to overeat.
Eating in the car, in front of the boob-tube, while checking your email, listening to the radio and talking on the cell is defeating the purpose of enjoying a meal in the first place. Put yourself first. Shut off the media, sit at a table with a comfortable chair, say a blessing over the food, and see how much better your day goes.

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Vegan Chili Recipe

This recipe is all VEGAN and therefore contains NO cholesterol. I use this for my clients who are trying to lower cholesterol or for people who do not advocate animal cruelty.

2 medium onions, sliced and cut into small pieces
2 TBS olive oil
2 links of Tofurky brand Italian Sausage Links cooked and cut into small pieces
1 – 12oz. bag of Boca brand Meatless Crumbles
2 cans of stewed tomatoes (or equivalent of fresh)
2 cans of black beans (or equivalent of soaked and cooked)
2 cups of your favorite tomato or marinara sauce
2-3 cloves of garlic pressed through a garlic press or chopped fine
2 TBS of chili powder
1/8 – 1/4 tsp of hot cayenne pepper

Saute the onions in the olive oil until translucent.
Add all other ingredients to a croc pot and stir
Cook until the Boca crumbles are cooked and the beans are desired tenderness.
If you want to add a cheese-like taste to your chili, you can sprinkle some nutritional yeast flakes into the chili before eatiing.
You can also use a non dairy sour cream. I like the Tofutti brand.

Health Coach,

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Start again…and again and again!!

What is it about dieting and goal setting that so many of us feel we have to start on a Sunday or a Monday?  There is something magical about the beginning of the week.  I guess we are thiniking that it is a new week……a fresh start.  So then we start the new lifestyle change on a Monday, and perhaps start slipping by Tuesday or Wednesday.  The old me would actually “live it up” for the rest of the week and then start again on the following Monday, somehow thinking that that week would be different. 

Well I am here to tell you that whenever you slip into old habits, you must start again and again and again on that very day.  Do not wait for the beginning of the week,  or the beginning of the month.  The time is now.

I recently had a friend start a 6 month program to wellness and feel like she had too many things going on in her life to really commit.  There again, in these modern times, we are all absurdly busy, with obligations flying at us from all different directions all the time.  Sadly there never  will be the perfect time to diet, start an exercise program, save for your childrens college, go on that amazing trip across the country etc…..  The good news is that God gives us all the same 24 hours each day. It really levels the playing field.  So, I encouraged her to continue in her healthy journey, no matter how many distractions will inevitably come her way.

 If you started a lifestyle change on a Monday and find yourself eating junk on a Tuesday morning, don’t wait until the following week,  Start again (and again and again) that very moment that you slipped.  Your body and mind will thank you for it.

Your health coach,                                                                                                                           Leslie         www.growingvitalhealth.com

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