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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.

Organic Holiday Treats

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This holiday season you deserve a special treat! Why not try an organic recipe to make a more healthful holiday delight? If you are planning on bringing a little something special to Christmas dinner, try this Organic Gingerbread Cookie recipe. For a decadent Hanukkah treat, try this Organic Zesty-Pistachio Rugelach recipe. Whatever you decide to bake, make sure you have a happy and healthy holiday season!

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Organic Gingerbread Cookies

Ingredients

  • Organic light brown sugar (½ cup)
  • Organic whole wheat pastry flour (2 ¾ cups)
  • Organic baking soda (½ teaspoon)
  • Organic sea salt (½ teaspoon)
  • Organic ground ginger (1 teaspoon)
  • Organic ground cinnamon (½ teaspoon)
  • Organic ground black pepper (½ teaspoon)
  • Organic ground cloves (½ teaspoon)
  • Organic egg whites (2)
  • Organic coconut oil (½ cup)
  • Organic vanilla extract (¼ teaspoon)
  • Organic molasses (10 tablespoons)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the dry ingredients and set aside for later (organic light brown sugar, whole wheat pastry flour, baking soda, sea salt, ground ginger, ground cinnamon, ground black pepper, and ground cloves)
  3. Mix organic molasses, coconut oil, brown sugar and vanilla extract for 5 minutes with an electric mixer set on medium
  4. Continue to mix on medium and add egg whites
  5. Slowly mix in dry ingredients until evenly distributed
  6. Refrigerate dough for up to half an hour, or until completely chilled and slightly hard
  7. Place dough between two pieces of parchment paper and roll out to about ¼” thickness
  8. Use some festive cookie cutters to make some fun shaped cookies
  9. Place cookies on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper
  10. Bake for 8-9 minutes (not any longer, or they will get crunchy)
  11. Enjoy!

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Zesty-Pistachio Rugelach

Ingredients

  • Organic cream cheese (8 ounces, chilled)
  • Organic unsalted butter (1 cup, chilled)
  • Organic grated lemon zest (1 tablespoon)
  • Organic sugar (1/2 cup and later 2 tablespoons)
  • Organic sea salt (¼ teaspoon, fine granulated)
  • Organic poppy seeds (1 tablespoon)
  • Organic all-purpose flour (2 cups)
  • Organic egg (1, large)
  • Organic pistachios (1 cup, unsalted, finely chopped, more optional for garnish)

Instructions

  1. Blend organic butter and cream cheese in a food processor until smooth
  2. Add organic lemon zest, sugar (1/2 cup), sea salt, and poppy seeds and process until evenly distributed
  3. Add flour and pulse until it becomes a dough
  4. Separate dough into two balls and flatten each into a disk with a roller
  5. Cover and refrigerate the disks for 4 hours
  6. Preheat oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  7. Generously flour work surface and rolling pin and roll out one ball of dough into a disk
  8. Cut the disk into 16 wedges (like a pie)
  9. Brush dough with beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar (1 tablespoon) and half the pistachios
  10. Roll up the wedges, starting at the wide edge and ending at the point
  11. Curve the rolls into crescents and place them on the baking sheets
  12. Brush crescents with remaining egg and sprinkle with pistachios (optional)
  13. Repeat process with second ball of dough
  14. Bake 25-28 minutes until golden
  15. Let cool and enjoy!

 

 

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!

10 Foods That Help You Sleep

There are so many different methods for falling asleep, from counting sheep to meditating. If you are looking for a delicious alternative to those methods here are some great suggestions for tasty snacks that you can have before bed to help you fall asleep and stay asleep.

1. Cheese and Crackers

house_calls_enCheese is a protein-rich food that provides sleep-inducing tryptophan, while the carbohydrates in crackers assist the tryptophan in reaching your brain helping you fall asleep more quickly. Compare cheddar cheese to turkey and you will find that cheese contains more tryptophan than turkey!

2. Almonds

5081954872_021e68ccb7_zThese delicious and crunchy nuts contain magnesium, a muscle-relaxing mineral that plays a key role in regulating sleep. Eating a tablespoon of almond butter or a handful of almonds before bed may help you fall asleep and stay asleep.

3. Walnuts

walnut-328091_640Another nut that helps you catch your zzz’s are walnuts. Walnuts are a good source of melatonin, helping your body respond to stress and allowing you to relax.

4. Bananas

Banana_bunchBananas are full of tryptophan, an amino acid that has been linked to sleep quality. They also offer a vast amount of magnesium and potassium that both help to relax muscles and ease pain such as a charley horse.

5. Cereal and Milk

3599466415_f2df29705c_bMilk also contains tryptophan. The brain uses tryptophan to make serotonin and melatonin, hormones that promote relaxation and control sleep cycles. While the carbohydrates in cereal make the tryptophan more available to the brain.

6. Cherries

cherries-390932_640Cherries are a great source of melatonin, a sleep hormone that regulates your internal clock.

7. Decaffeinated Green Tea

8151509619_f434aca966_bGreen tea contains theanine, an amino acid that helps to reduce stress and promote relaxation.

8. Hummus

Hummus_from_The_NileChickpeas, the main ingredient in hummus, are not only rich in tryptophan, but also folate and vitamin B-6. Folate helps to regulate sleep patterns, (especially in older people) and vitamin B-6 helps to regulate your body clock. So spread that hummus on a slice of bread for your pre-bed treat!

9. Pumpkin Seeds

1414256_20140128070420Pumpkin seeds are another snack that are packed with a variety of nutrients and tryptophan.

10. Lemon Balm Tea

peppermint-tea-1109_640Tea made from the herb lemon balm contains naturally occurring oils with terpenes, organic compounds that promote relaxation and better sleep.

So grab a snack and catch your zzz’s!

Organic Treats for Trick or Treaters

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It is time to prepare for all the adorable little trick or treaters that will be coming out for Halloween. Usually the preparations take us to the local market for some bags of over-sugared candies that we parents usually end up eating. Well, this year you might want to try something a little more healthy so you won’t feel so guilty about sneaking a few here and there. There are many great candy companies out there that offer healthier alternatives to the standard Snickers, M&M’s and more. Here are some truly yummy organic and sugar-free options that kids will love.

Annie’s Organic Bunny Fruity Snacks

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These fruit snacks may not be a traditional candy, but they are still sweet and delicious.

Unreal Candy Bars

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Unreal candy bars offer a wide variety of candies that are modeled after conventional candy bars such as Snickers, Peanut M&M’s, Peanut Butter Cups and more.

Bug Bites Organic Milk Chocolate

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Individual pieces of delicious milk chocolate that are perfect for passing out to all the kids in the neighborhood. Each square contains a fun and educational insect trading card.

Surf Sweets Organic Fruity Halloween Treats

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These tasty, fruity snacks are made with organic juice and no artificial colors or flavors.

Yum Earth Organic Pops

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Another great alternative to the standard lollipop are these organic and healthy pops in many different tasty flavors, from Pomegranate to Razzmatazz Berry.

Halloween Glee Gum Pops

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These gum pops are 100% natural, with a hard candy exterior and a delicious gummy middle. These gum pops come in 3 different flavors: Sweet Strawberry, Crisp Green Apple, and Juicy Orange.

Whatever you chose to hand out to the kiddos, make sure it is an “eek”-o-friendly option!

Take Sleep Seriously!

Meet Russell Foster, a circadian neuroscientist who studies sleep patterns in the brain. In the following video, he speaks about a range of topics relating to the importance of sleep.

He first describes three theories on the main function of sleep, as well as which theory he subscribes to. He then discusses what happens to a person (and the person’s brain) when sleep is lacking, as well as ideas about how to improve sleep quality and duration. Foster debunks some common myths and misconceptions about sleep, then speaks about the correlation between mental health and sleep disruption. He urges people to take sleep more seriously and realize the huge role that it plays in making us happy and healthy.

Watch to learn more:

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