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Category Archives: Healthy Choices

Warm Up with an Organic Soup

Bean and Barley Soup

Take the chill off this winter with a nice warm bowl of soup for dinner! Here is a great recipe for a healthy and organic soup that will please the whole family.

Bean and Barely Soup

Yield: 4 (serving size: 1¼ cups soup and 1½ teaspoons cheese)

Ingredients

1 cup organic pinto beans

1 tablespoon organic olive oil

2 cups finely chopped organic red onion

1 cup finely chopped fresh organic flat-leaf parsley

1/2 cup finely chopped organic celery

1/2 cup finely chopped organic carrot

1/2 cup chopped fresh organic basil

9 cups water

2 cups organic vegetable broth

2 organic bay leaves

1/3 cup uncooked organic pearl barley

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon of your favorite hot sauce

2 tablespoons grated fresh organic Parmesan cheese

Directions

Sort and wash beans; place in a large saucepan. Cover with water to 2” above beans; bring to a boil. Cook 2 minutes; remove from heat. Cover and let stand 1 hour. Drain beans. Wipe pan dry with a paper towel.

Heat oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add onion, parsley, celery, carrot, and basil; cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add beans, 9 cups water, vegetable broth, and bay leaves; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 1 hour and 15 minutes or until beans are tender. Discard bay leaves.

Place 3/4 cup beans and 3/4 cup cooking liquid in a blender; process until smooth. Return pureed bean mixture to pan. Stir in barley, salt, pepper, and hot sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes or until barley is done. Ladle soup into individual bowls; sprinkle with cheese.  

Enjoy! 

Easy Ways to Improve Your Sleep

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We have said it once and we will say it again, sleep is important! But many people are still not getting enough good sleep every night and are, in fact, sleep deprived. Here are some simple ways to improve your nights sleep.

Length of Sleep

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It can be easy to convince yourself that the length of time you sleep is not that important. However, it is essential to your health, performance, and recovery. It is important to get a full night of sleep each night to perform your best during the day.

Importance of the Sleep Phases

There are different phases of sleep, two of which are very important in determining the quality of your sleep: slow-wave sleep (deep sleep) and REM sleep. The human body is pretty amazing, as it will manage the length of time you stay in each cycle. The time you spend in each cycle will adjust automatically based on what your body needs and the total length of time you are sleeping.

Earlier Bedtime

A way to ensure you are getting enough zzz’s and enough time in those sleep phases is to go to bed at a decent time. Give yourself extra time to relax and fall asleep by making your bedtime a little earlier, if needed. Consistency is great too if you go to bed at the same time every night it’s easier for your body to develop good sleep habits.

Avoid Distractions

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Keep distractions out of the bedroom. Make your bed about sleeping, not watching TV or playing on your phone, tablet, or computer. Creating a restful environment will help your body relax and make falling asleep a little easier.

Take these tips and enjoy a restful night’s sleep.

Paradigm Shift for Wellness

A poll by The Hartman Group shows that a shift has taken place in how people think about wellness. In 2000, people were more reactive to their health, doing what was necessary to maintain their health or respond to a health issue.

By 2013, people had shifted from being reactive to their health and wellness to being proactive. They ate healthier in general, rather than going on a “diet” when they felt it necessary. Exercise became part of the regular routine rather than a New Year’s resolution. There was a 10% increase in people who reported being proactive about their health.

Overall, people are feeling more balanced and satisfied in creating a healthy lifestyle for themselves. Rather than reacting to arising health issues, people are beginning to take preventative measures by being healthy in their everyday lives. This is a shift that will hopefully continue over the years to come.

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10 Ways to Relieve Holiday Stress

Everyone gets stressed out during the holidays. It could be from shopping, family gatherings, or planning too many events in a short time. Whatever the cause, you need a healthy way to relieve it. Here are 10 activities that will naturally relieve your stress.

 

  • Take a Relaxing Bath

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Take time to enjoy a relaxing bath after wrapping presents. Maybe even light some candles and add some essential oils. Make it a special occasion!

 

  •  Drink Organic Herbal Tea

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Just the act of preparing and sipping tea will give you some personal time for relaxation. Research also shows that it can lower blood pressure.

 

  • Listen to Music

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Music has a special link to our emotions, so it can have an extremely relaxing effect on our bodies and minds. It also distracts us from our stress and helps prevent the mind from wandering.

 

  • Write In a Journal

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Whether it’s a journal or a daily planner, organize your life and your thoughts. Write down your plans for the day so that you don’t feel pressed for time. This will help you feel a sense of control and give you peace of mind during this busy season.

 

  • Get Regular Exercise

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Make an effort to do some kind of physical activity and get your heart rate up for at least half an hour a day. This will help you vent frustration and relieve tension. Try yoga, deep breathing, or meditation as well.

 

  • Eat Healthfully

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Eating foods that are high in Omega-3 fatty acids will naturally stress naturally. Examples are fish, nuts, avocado, strawberries, and leafy greens. These foods are great for your body for many reasons, and stress relief is a great added bonus! It also doesn’t hurt to eat healthfully to make up for all those holiday sweets.

 

  • Aromatherapy

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When under stress, your body heightens its sense of smell, which is a survival instinct to identify threats in your environment. Aromatherapy addresses stress issues through the use of essential plant oils, giving your brain pleasant and healing aromas.

 

  • Arts and Crafts

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Find time to do some kind of creative activity, such as painting, ceramics, woodworking, or paper maché. Having an activity to focus on, with no pressure or time restraints, is a great way to relax your mind and body. You may also find that you’ve created a great present for someone!

 

  • Get a Massage

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Getting a massage is one of the best ways to relieve stress. It can enhance circulation, improve range of motion in your joints, and help relax tight muscles that hold your stress. If you’ve ever had a massage, you know how wonderful and light you feel afterwards.

 

  • Sleep

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Sleep is, above all else, the most important activity for reducing stress. Each person is different, so it is important for you to figure out how much sleep you need to feel alert and rested. You can improve your sleep schedule by getting into a routine or pattern that lets your mind and body know that it’s bedtime!

 

So don’t let yourself become overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle. Try out some of these activities and have a relaxed and happy holiday season!

What Happens to Your Body When It’s Deprived of Sleep?

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We all know how it feels to have a restless night. You feel irritable, dizzy, and unfocused throughout the next day. But when you are chronically sleep deprived, it can be seriously detrimental to your health. It can affect your body in many ways and in several different places.

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Body Fat- People who get only a few hours of sleep per night tend to have more body fat than those who get a full night’s rest. The lack of sleep/energy is compensated for the following day by consuming extra calories.

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Stomach- Lack of sleep leads to a lower production of leptin, a hormone that regulates hunger and the storage of fat.

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Motor Skills- After being awake for an extended period of time, you will notice a loss of precision in your motor skills. There is a delayed reaction from your brain in signaling a physical response.

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Blood Pressure- Someone who sleeps very little on a regular basis will have much higher blood pressure than if they slept more. This is due to increased amounts of cortisol, a hormone that is released in response to stress.

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Pancreas- People who are regularly deprived of sleep are twice as likely to develop diabetes, regardless of age or fitness level. The regulation of other hormone production is disrupted as well.

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Heart- Cardiovascular issues tend to develop in a large portion of people who have chronic sleep problems. The issues can range from weak or abnormal heartbeats to clogged arteries, or even cardiac arrest.

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Brain- In a period of just a few days, you can damage and kill brain cells by not getting enough sleep at night. Without precious sleep, your brain cannot rid itself of proteins that cause plaque build-up. Over time, this plaque can cause dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

To learn more about the physical effects of sleep deprivation, check out this article by Arianne Cohen, called 7 Physical Effects of Sleep Deprivation, from the Psyche section of Details.

 

 

8 Ways for Non-Morning People to Become Morning People

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Mornings can be a rough time of day if you’re not a morning person. It’s a time when you run around trying to get yourself ready and gat all your stuff together, and in the end you’re stressed and grumpy. As frustrating as morning can be, it’s a great time to change your attitude and start the day off right. Here are some ideas on how to become more of a morning person.

1. Relocate Alarm Clock

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Move your alarm clock to a location you can’t reach from your bed, such as across the room. This will force you to get up and out of bed to hit the snooze button, making it harder for you to climb back into bed and fall asleep.

2.Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Be sure you get deep and restful sleep by not watching TV before bed. Be sure to leave all other devices, such as cell phones, laptops, etc., away from your bed, as they can overstimulate you, disrupting your sleep. Rather than play on your phone, curl up with a good book.

3. Don’t Rush

Part of the reason people hate mornings is the feeling of being rushed. So rather than run around like a crazy person, organize your things in preparation for the next day, have your outfit selected and ready to go the night before. Make lunch ahead of time, and have your things ready and together so you don’t have to spend any time running around looking for your misplaced keys or that missing shoe.

4. Welcome the Sun

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Go ahead and open the curtains and let the sunshine in. The bright natural light will help you wake up naturally.

5. Develop Habits

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It has been shown if you repeat the same action for 15 days in a row, it will become a habit. So the moment you wake up in the morning, drink a glass of water. If you try to go back to sleep, chances are that you’ll need to use the restroom, destroying your ability to go back to sleep.

6. Preset Your Coffee Maker

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If you have a coffee maker with a preset option, use it! Having your coffee brewed and ready to go before your feet even touch the floor is definitely an incentive to get out of bed. If your coffee maker doesn’t have a preset option, set it up so all you have to do is hit the brew button, creating one less task to do in the morning.

7. Exercise!

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Wake up and take a walk. Walking around the block will get you up and your blood flowing.

8. Reward Yourself

Now that you have been waking up early and are on your way to being that morning person, treat yourself to something you enjoy. Take yourself out for a delicious lunch, or buy that item you’ve been eyeing.

However you tackle the day, try to make the morning less painful and more enjoyable.

The OTA Annual Organic Report

The OTA is the leading voice of the organic trade industry in North America. They conduct surveys and reports on what is currently happening in the organic market. The OTA released their 2013 Organic Annual Report this year, and it is full of exciting information regarding the continued growth of, and interest in, the organic market. Here it is:

OTA Annual Report 2013

 

Check out our previous blogs about the organic market and the OTA, The Organic Market is Growing and OTA Reports 8 in 10 Parents Purchase Organic Products. For more news, articles and insight into the organics industry, visit the Organic Trade Association website HERE.

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