Lasting Through Lunch

What’s In My…Lunchbox for the “Resident Four Year Old”

Now that school is starting back for the year and the reality of actually having to wake up at a certain time and get dressed, get my “resident four year old” dressed, make sack lunches every single day, and so forth is starting its cycle all over again…I thought that I would do a series of posts on “What’s In My”…

This series of posts will highlight the things that are in certain places that I have tried or am trying to organize at this stage of my quest for minimalism and organization.

My last post covered what is in the backpack of our “resident four year old”…So I thought that a good post to follow that would be a “What In My…Lunchbodx of Our Resident Four Year Old,”…or at least should be…

 

My goal this year is to pack lunches that are…

  • Inexpensive
  • Neat and appetizing
  • Quick and easy to prepare
  • Reasonably healthy and nutritionally balanced
  • Tasty

 

So let’s start with the actual lunchbox itself.

Your lunchbox should match not only your needs, but also your personality.

Things to consider when choosing a new lunch box include it being easy to clean, material, microwavablity, number of containers, price, and size.

A few great options for lunchboxes would include…..

1.  Bentgo All-in-One Stackable Lunch/Bento Box, Green

  • Contribution…5% of the sales price of this lunchbox will be donated to Feed the Children
  • Easy to clean…dishwasher safe
  • Material…BPA-free plastic
  • Microwavable…yes
  • Number of compartments…two
  • Price…$14.99
  • Size…
  • Top Container…6.8″ x 4.3″ x 1.7″ (2 sections with divider, each section 3.4″ x 4.3″ x 1.7″)
  • Bottom Container…7″ x 4.5″ x 2.5
  • Review…The Kitchn

2.  EasyLunchboxes 3-Compartment Bento Lunch Box Containers

  • Easy to clean…safe for dishwasher
  • Material…FDA-approved, high-quality polypropylene #5 plastic; No BPA, PVC, or phthalates
  • Microwavable…safe for microwave
  • Number of compartments…three
  • Price… $13.95
  • Size…9.4″ x 6.1″ x 2″
  • Review…A Merry Life

3.  Happy Lunchboxes 4-compartment Bento Lunch Box Containers

  • Easy to clean…safe for dishwasher
  • Material…FDA-approved, BPA-free high-quality polypropylene
  • Microwavable…safe for microwave
  • Number of compartments…one large and three small sections
  • Price… $13.95
  • Size…8.5″ x 2″ x 8.5″
  • Review…Wendolonia

4.  YUMBOX TAPAS Larger Size (Antibes Blue) 4 compartment Leakproof Bento lunch box for Pre-teens, Teens & Adults

  • Easy to clean…safe for dishwasher, top rack only…hand washing the outer shell and/or removing it before the heat dry cycle is highly recommend to preserve the seal.
  • Material…All food-safe materials, BPA-free and phthalates-free. Sturdy ABS (outer box), Tritan(tray) and Silicone (seal).
  • Microwavable…safe for microwave
  • Number of compartments…four
  • Price…$28.00
  • Size… 9.5 x 6.9 x 1.8
  • Review…Kidgredients

 

 

Now for the best way to keep the daily nuisance of making lunches less of dreadful —plan and prepare…

Have a general idea or an actual specific meal plan as you think about your meals for the upcoming week.

Planning ahead always helps save time and money, regardless what you are doing…and packing school/work lunches is no different. Your lunch plan should be based on…

  • what ingredients you will need from grocery stores…
  • what meals you will be cooking throughout the week
  • what you already have in the refrigerator

 

You should plan your lunch around four different components…

  • 1. The Carbohydrates…Half of the lunch should consist of carbs….such as bread, brown or white rice mixed with frozen peas and a splash of soy sauce, couscous mixed with olive oil and Parmesan, pasta with pesto or peanut sauce, roasted or boiled baby potatoes tossed with olive oil and herbs, sandwiches, and wraps.
  • The Proteins…Then half as much space as the carb, should consist of a protein…such as boiled eggs, cottage cheese, edamame, tuna salad, beef, chicken, pork, tofu, and beans.
  • The Vegetable…Then the remaining half of the lunch should consist of an equal amount of vegetables and fruits. A few good options as far as vegetables would include  cooked and cooled vegetables, or raw vegetables that won’t wilt—such as salad greens, lettuce, steamed asparagus, cherry tomatoes, and carrot sticks.
  • The Fruit...As far as fruit, fruits with bold colors that provide visual impact will probably mean that they are actually eaten. A few good options would include apples, grapes, strawberries, plum, raspberries, nectarines, oranges, lemons, bananas, and kiwi.

 

Next figure out how much time you are willing to put into prepping your foods on your lunch plan and what needs to be done based on the plan that you have come up with. Come up with a timeline that will allow you to get these things done as fast as possible.

I have found that the best thing since sliced bread…which we’ll all see more that we would all want to during the course of a school year…has been Instacart. Instacart saves me the interesting, but often frustrating, weekly trip to the grocery store with a “resident four year old”…allows me to spend the time that he is at school however I want and doing whatever I need…and keeps me from grabbing impulse items, or beer and wine)…or having to dash through the busy -as -heck grocery store after school or work because I have forgotten something that I’ll need.

Using Instacart keeps me more organized because I can have two windows open—one with the recipes on my meal plan and another with my Instacart account, and simply transfer from one list to the other.

By the way, no, that was not a paid endorsement for Instacart…just a praise for a service that has actually changed my total existence.

Another great app that I have been using for years is emeals. Emeals is a paid subscription that provides weekly meal plans along with the grocery lists. This saves me so much time trying to figure out what to cook. All of the recipes, or at least most of them, have been relatively easy to prepare and delicious. They not only offer dinner plans, but also breakfast, lunch, and special occasions. And finally, probably most important to me right now, they plan meals according to various diet requirements—vegan, paleo, and diabetic. This diabetic plan has become one of my best friends ever since my husband was diagnosed as having type 2 diabetes.

 

 

Finally, after having put this much effort into choosing your lunchbox, making your plan for what foods to put in that lunch box, buying the groceries that you need to prep these foods, and actually preparing as much as possible in advance…you obviously do not want to blow all this time and effort by packing your food so that come lunchtime, everything is one great big inedible mess.

So it’s important that you pack the foods tightly so that the food doesn’t shift around.

Your best plan of attack as far as packing your lunch neatly into a container is to think of packing your lunch as a three-step process…

  • 1.  First pack pre-shaped or bulky food.
  • 2.  Next, pack more flexible-shape food.
  • 3. Finally pack the smallest foods so that you fill in any gaps and help keep the food from shifting.

 

A few tools that might help you as you pack your lunches would include…

  • Reusable silicone cups to keep wet things away from dry things and hold loose items like blueberries in one place.
  • Reusable silicone or paper dividers to separate one food from the other, without mixing up the flavors. Lettuce leaves and other produce can also be an option.
  • Picks to help keep small foods, such as meatballs and berries, together.
  • Sauce Containers to store sauces separately so that food stays dry until lunch time.

A few great online sources for learning more about packing lunches and buying fun and interesting things that will make making your lunches less dreadful include…

  • Just Bento
  • Bento USA
  • BentoLand
  • Little Bento World
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Sweet, Sweet Sunday

What’s In My…School Backpack of Our “Resident Four Year Old”

Today the “resident four year old” starts pre-k for the fall…a moment that any fifty year old chasing a four year old 24/7 looks forward to all summer long.

I imagine that I will drop him off and then come home and sleep until it’s time to pick him back up…I’ll let you know…

So even though he’s only in pre-K and doesn’t need too many things to take with him to school other than his lunch, a stuffed animal, and a nap-pad…(oh year, teachers…good luck getting him to take a nap)…this made me think about upgrading out school and office supplies to more environmentally friendly options.

Even school and office supplies can be unfriendly to the environment, as well as toxic…

A few of the toxic chemicals that are sometimes included in school and office supplies include…

  • asbestos (a known carcinogen) in crayons
  • benzene (a probable carcinogen) in dry-erase markers
  • lead (a neurotoxin) in children’s water bottles
  • phthalates (linked to hormone and developmental problems) in 3-ring binders

Not only that many of the companies that make school and office supplies are not cruelty-free.

So it’s important to think about things like that instead of simpy running to Dollar General and buying the cheapest items so that you can cross them off that dreaded back-to-school school supply shopping list this year…

A few trains of thought as far as shopping for school and supplies include…

1.Backpacks…As far as backpacks are concerned, the main train of thought should be to choose natural materials, such as cotton or hemp. Never choose PVC plastic at all costs.

2.  Crayons and Markers…As far as crayons are concerned, the main train of thought should be to choose crayons that are composed from beeswax and soy products. Always avoid cheap crayons which may be laced with asbestos.

3. Lunch Boxes…As far as lunch boxes are concerned, the main train of thought should be to choose reusable and durable, PVC-free lunch bags and lunch boxes that will last more than one season. Another great options, especially for adults, would be stainless steels. But whatever you do, avoid using plastic baggies and plastic wrap. Invest in a stainless steel water bottle….(I will look at a few more great options as well as ideas as to what to put in your lunch boxes in a future post).

4. Markers…As far as markers are concerned, the main train of thought should be to choose water based markers. Many permanent markers contains chemicals such as xylene, toluene, and other VOCs…which stands for Volatile Organic Compounds, my “one new thing learned at school today” for today.

5. Paper…As far as loose-leaf paper, notebooks, and binders are concerned, the main train of thought should be to shop for items made with recycled paper, and binders that either do not have a plastic cover or are clearly labeled PVC-free.

6. Pencils and Pens…As far as pencils and pens are concerned, the main train of thought should be to choose pencils that are made from recycled materials or wood from sustainably managed forest…and pens made from recycled plastic.

Thankfully there are sources for better school and office supplies that you would typically find at the local dollar store…sure, they may be more expensive…and honestly, these options might not be way more expensive…but depending on how committed you are or are not about the above concerns in all areas of your family’s life, you may want to get out your debit card so that you can buy some really cool new gadgets for the new school year.

Finally, some really great places online to shop or at least browse at these other options include…

Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Not Only Can You EAT Water…You Can Also DRINK Mushrooms

 

 

In the previous posts of the different types of coffee, one stood head and shoulders above the rest as far as most interesting…one that I had never even heard of—mushroom coffee.

As I said in that post, mushroom is simply regular coffee that has been infused with medicinal mushroom extract powders.

Mushroom extract powders can be created by isolating and spray-drying different types of medicinal mushrooms—such as Cordyceps, Chaga, Lion’s mane, Turkey tail, and Reishi.

Sounds extremely weird, but according to several of the reports that I read, mushroom coffee actually is prepared and tastes like regular coffee, not like mushrooms at all…with about half the caffeine found in regular coffee.

Scientific studies have shown that these medicinal mushrooms—such as chaga, reishi, lion’s mane, and cordyceps—are anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, gut-friendly. These mushrooms also contain more than acai, blueberries, and cacao.

Although mushrooms have been used in Oriental medicine for millenniam, mushroom coffee has been around since World War II. Coffee was scarce, and many things were used as a substitute for coffee beans, including mushrooms, out of necessity. Mushrooms were first used as an alternative to coffee in Finland.

Mushroom coffee provides the health benefits of coffee, as well as the health benefits of the mushrooms…meaning that mushroom coffee contains extra nutrients and minerals.

  1. Antioxidants…Mushroom coffee contains many antioxidants—perhaps more than green tea, black tea and herbal tea.
  2. Brain Power…Mushroom coffee contains high levels of antioxidants and other compounds that may enhance your focus and thinking capabilities.
  3. Cancer…Elements found in certain mushrooms, such as the ergosterol peroxide found in chaga mushrooms, stimulate the immune system and has the ability to stop cancer from developing.
  4. Digestive System…Mushrooms contain high levels of special polysaccharides, more specifically those called beta-glucans or homopolysaccharides, that act help boost digestive health in various ways—such as decreaseing glucose levels, cholesterol and triglycerides.
  5. Nerves…Most mushroom coffee consists of a mixture of half coffee, half mushroom extract. This means that whenever you switch to mushroom coffee, you are probably only consuming  half of the caffeine that you normally do. Drinking less caffeine will improve focus and decrease the likelihood of having nervous energy after drinking a cup.
  6. Respiratory System…Mushroom coffee enables the body to use oxygen more efficiently.
Food on Fridays, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

33 Different Kinds of Coffee to Keep Even the Barista Confused

 

 

 

I am a simple person. I have dwindled my wardrobe into a 52-piece capsule wardrobe, organized my spice cabinet alphabetically, and cleaned/organized every single room in my house this year in my quest for minimalism and a better lifestyle in general for my family.

So it’s probably not a big shock that I “like my coffee like I do my men—strong, dark, and steamy”…or whatever that expression is.

 

But rumor tells me that there are so many perhaps better alternatives to this black coffee, options such as…

 

1. Affogato–a single or dual shot of espresso mixed with a scoop of vanilla ice cream

2. Americano—a single or double shot of espresso diluted with hot water

3. Bicerin Coffee—a shot of espresso, chocolate drink, and milk or cream all layered in a glass

4. Black Coffee—coffee with no dairy products such as milk or cream added

5. Bulletproof Coffee—a buttered coffee drink that supposedly helps you lose weight

6. Cappuccino—very similar to a café latte, but the foam and the chocolate sprinkles are more on the top than already mixed in

7. Cafe Latte—coffee with steamed milk froth and the micro-foam on top

8. Cold Brew—coffee beans steeped in water for twelve hours or more

9. Cortado—a Spanish beverage that contains coffee with a generous amount of warm milk

10. Cuban Espresso—a sweetened dark-roasted espresso shot with an addition of demerara sugar

11. Decaf Coffee—coffee that has some of the caffeine taken out

12. Double Espresso—two shots of espresso

13. Espresso—a single shot of espresso

14. Flat White— a single shot of espresso served with steamed milk

15. Galao Coffee—a Portuguese milky sweet coffee

16. Green Coffee—coffee that is made with coffee beans that haven’t been roasted to that familiar brown color that we all expect, supposedly great for those who are trying to lose weight

17. Iced Coffee—coffee with ice in it…(as if you couldn’t  figure that out already)

18. Instant Coffee—coffee powder that is prepared by making fine grains from already roasted coffee

19. Irish Coffee—black coffee with whiskey and sugar added and topped with cream

20. Kopi Luwak—a premium coffee type prepared in Asia that requires collecting coffee beans that have been crapped out by a Civet…(sorry, I think that I’ll pass on this one.)…

21. Kopi Tubruk—an Indonesian coffee drink that is made by dissolving coffee beans directly into the boiling water

22. Long Black Coffee—a single shot of espresso with 70% hot water added

23. Long Macchiato—a double shot of espresso with a layer of cream and foam added on the top

24. Mocha—a single shot of espresso with a spoonful of chocolate powder, steamed milk froth and microfoam, and them more chocolate powder on the very top.

25. Mushroom Coffee…regular coffee that has been infused with medicinal mushroom extracts…(see next post, you know, the one that I haven’t even written yet(?!)…

26. Piccolo Latte—a shot of espresso or Ristretto served in a demitasse cup with steamed milk and a little foam on top

27. Ristretto—a single shot of espresso with the same amount of coffee beans but the half amount of water

28. Short Macchiato-–a single shot of espresso with a layer of cream and foam added on the top

29. Sweet Coffee—coffee that contains some sort of sweetener

30. Turkish Coffee—a stronger and more aromatic Turkish beverage made by using coffee beans that have been ground so fine that it doesn’t even need filtering

31. Vienna Coffee—a type of black coffee served with a whopping amount of cream on the top

32. White Coffee—a mild version of traditional coffee with less brewing and less intense taste

33. Yuanyang Coffee—a popular beverage from Hong Kong that is prepared by combining both the coffee and tea

Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

14 Reasons to Drink Another Cup of Coffee This Morning

For years it has been debated whether or not coffee is good for you or not…

Honestly, who cares?

Coffee has been given a bad rep in years past for causing various health risks…such as raising your blood pressure, making your heart race, impairing sleep, and even causing cancer.

But you are either a coffee drinker or you’re not a coffee drinker.

In fact, let’s first take a look at a few statistics as far as coffee consumption…

  • 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed around the globe each year.
  • 64% of Americans say they drink at least one cup of coffee daily.
  • 26% of adults say they drink only one cup daily.
  • 11% of adults say they drink at least four cups daily.
  • 102 billion cups of coffee are consumed by Americans each year.
  • 280.5 million cups of coffee are consumed by Amerian each day.
  • 2.7 cups of coffee are consumed by the average person every day of the week.
  • 26% of coffee drinkers say they’re addicted to coffee.
  • 46% of coffee drinkers who drink at least three cups each day say that they’re addicted to coffee..
  • 21,400 coffee shops exist throughout the country…one for every 14,000 Americans.
  • $36 billion in retail revenue happens per year.
  • 70 countries make and sell coffee.
  • 40% of the world’s coffee is produced in Brazil.

Having taken a look at these statistics, one thing is pretty obvious…

If you are a true coffee drinker, you are gonna drink coffee…and more coffee…and more coffee…regardless of what the so-called “experts” may or may not say, right?!

In fact, Americans drink 400 million cups of coffee per day, or 146 billion cups each year.

Actually there are health benefits to drinking coffee, so let’s ignore all the bad press…and make ourselves that we are doing ourselves a favor by drinking cup after cup after cup.

Just make sure that you don’t overload it with lots of cream and loads of sugar, and you can actually improve your health every single morning…(a Starbucks Venti White Chocolate Mocha, for instance, has 580 calories and 75 grams of sugar…while a plain cup of brewed coffee contains only two calories, no fat and zero carbs.

Coffee contains many nutrients—including riboflavin, pantothenic acid, manganese, potassium, magnesium and niacin.

Coffee can improve your health in such ways as reducing your risk of heart attack, heart failure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, cirrhosis, gout, and liver disease.

 

Let’s explore these health benefits more…

 

1.Alzheimer’s …Although there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s, drinking coffee may lower your risk of ever getting Alzheimer’s in the first place, by up to 65%.

2.Brain Power…Studies have shown that coffee increases your brain power by improv various aspects of brain function—such as memory, mood, vigilance, energy levels, reaction times and general cognitive function—because the caffeine blocks an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain, which leads to a stimulant effect.

3.Cancer…Cancer, uncontrolled growth of cells in the body, is one of the world’s leading causes of death…but coffee appears to reduce your risk of getting liver cancer, the third leading cause of cancer death in the world, by 40%…and colorectal cancer, the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the world by 15%.

4,Depression…Depression, a serious mental disorder that causes a significantly reduced quality of life, is incredibly common. In fact, about 4.1% of people in the U.S. currently meet the criteria for clinical depression. A Harvard study published in 2011 said that women who drank four  or more cups per day have a 20% lower risk of becoming depressed. People who drink four or more cups per day are  53% less likely to commit suicide.

5.Energy Levels…Coffee can help you people feel less tired and have more energy levels because of its caffeine content. As caffeine is absorbed into the bloodstream. and enters into the brain, the levels of neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine and dopamine, increases, leading to enhanced firing of neurons.

6.Heart…For years it was thought that coffee raised the risk of heart disease, but many recent studies have shown that this is not the effect. In fact, it is now believed that drinking three to five cups of coffee per day can lower your risk of heart failure by 11%…your risk of stroke by up to 30%….and your risk of cardiovascular disease by 19%.

7.Liver….Drinking coffee may be beneficial to your liver. Studies have shown that coffee can reduce your risk of getting liver cirrhosis, a condition where the liver has been largely replaced by scar tissue, by 66%…as well as lowering your risk of developing liver cancer by about 50%.

8.Longevity…Drinking around four cups of coffee a day can lower your risk of getting the serious life-threatening diseases—such as heart disease and cancer—also described in this list of health benefits. Over thirty-five studies have been conducted, covering more than 2 million people,  that agree with this belief.

9.Melanoma….According to the National Cancer Institute, drinking four or more cups of caffeinated coffee each day can lower your risk of developing melanoma by 20%.

10.Memory…Drinking two or three cups of coffee can improve your long- and short-term memory.

11.Metabolism…Several studies show that caffeine is one of the very few natural substances that can increase fat burning in the body and boost the metabolic rate. This is the reason that caffeine is found in almost every commercial fat burning supplement.

 

12.Parkinson’s Disease…Parkinson’s Disease is a common neurodegenerative disease of the central nervous system caused by the death of dopamine-generating neurons in the brain and characterized by tremors,

There is no known cure for Parkinson’s, so it is definitely important that you do all that you can to keep from ever getting Parkinson’s in the first place.

Some studies have suggested that the caffeine in coffee may reduce your risk of ever developing Parkinson’s in the first place by up to 60%. Not only can coffee keep you from getting Parkinson’s, but two eight-ounce cups of black coffee can help to control the involuntary movements of people who already have the disease.

 

13.Physical Performance…Not only does the caffeine in coffee increase your metabolism, it also increases your adrenaline levels in the blood, your “fight or flight” hormone, which makes you ready for more intense physical exertion. In fact, drinking coffee about thirty minutes before going to the gym can improve physical performance by 11-12%, on average.

14.Type II Diabetes…Type 2 diabetes, elevated blood sugars in the context of insulin resistance or an inability to secrete insulin, currently afflicts about 300 million people worldwide.  According to the American Diabetes Association, about 1.5 million people are diagnosed as having type 2 diabetes each year.

Coffee contains chromium, a mineral that helps the body utilize insulin. For this reason, drinking coffee can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 67%.

Increasing your coffee consumption by a couple of cups per day can decrease your risk of getting type 2 diabetes by at least 11%…up that number to at least six cups of coffee, and you can decrease your risk of getting type 2 diabetes by another 15%.

Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Cup of Hot Tea

Okay, so I realize that not everybody has had the privilege of growing up in the Deep South where people don’t even bother to take drink orders, but simply pass around huge glasses filled with ice tea as soon as your butt hits the restaurant dining table chairs…

So how do you make that Mississippi nectar that is the pride of the hospitality state?

Sure lots and lots of sugar is important, but many other factors are important also—such as the technique/process you will be using, the quality of the water used, temperatures, and time.

But there are many factors that go into making the perfect cup of tea, including…

1.The Method…What method you use when making your tea is a personal preference, but here are a few options…

French Press…The same French press that you use to make coffee can also be used to make tea. Using a French press allows you to brew several cups of tea at one time. A French press also allows you to steep and serve your tea in the same vessel. However, you could easily over-steeping your tea since the tea leaves simply sit at the bottom of the press after you make the tea, instead of being taken out.

Tea Ball Infuser…Tea ball infusers are basically teabags that you fill yourself with whatever loose tea you would like and then steep in your tea until you get the strength of tea that you would like. These hinged mesh spheres are obviously more “environmentally friendly.”

Tea Brewing Strainers…Tea brewing strainers are small mesh baskets that you fill with loose leaf  tea and then pour hot water on top of the leaves. As the hot water passes over the loose tea leaves, your tea is “brewed,” but this is probably not your best option because you can’t is not very popular and control how long your tea brews.

Teabags…Of course you already know what a teabag is, and this is the most common method of making tea. This method is the most convenient, even though not the most “environmentally friendly.”

Teapot…Teaposts are always a great choice, but not all teapots will deliver the same results. Two factors to consider when choosing a teapot are whether or not the teapost has a built-in strainer to help infuse the tea or requires use of a separate straining device….and what  material your teapot is made from so that you can know that the brewing temperature is ideal or not for the type of tea which you will most likely be making.

2.  The Temperature…Even though most of us would assume that in order to make tea, you must bring your water to a rolling boil, this is not always the case. In fact, different types of tea require different temperatures. Bringing your water to a rolling boil can actually keep your tea from reaching its fullest flavor potential.

As a general rule, white tea and green tea should be made with the lowest temperature, about 175 degrees. Oolong and black tea should be made with a medium temperature, about 200 degrees. And mate, rooibos, and other types of herbal tea should be made with the highest temperature, about 210 degrees.

Bringing your water to a full rolling boil and then letting the tea cool down to the ideal temperature also will negatively impact the flavor of your tea.

3. The Time…Time can also affect the flavor of the tea. Different steeping times will create subtle flavor differences that you may or may not like. The best thing to do is to take the time to steep any new type of tea that you may be trying in thirty second intervals until you find the steeping time for that particular tea that you like best.

4. The Water…Water is obviously a very important ingredient to a great glass of tea, almost as important as the sugar. Only use water that is fresh and cold.  Avoid using tap water that has been sitting in stagnant in your kettle for any length of time or that has already been boiled previously. Always use cold water instead of hot water. Hot tap water tends to carry more minerals—such as calcium and lime—and can mess up the flavor of your tea.

Getting Healthy

Back Where I’m From, Sweet Tea Flows Like Water

In an earlier post, we had look at the best teas for helping you get to sleep, but this time let’s look at tea as far as helping you stay hydrated. Later as we move up the pyramid, we’ll then look at tea again as we clean out our spice cabinet and learn what’s really in all those red and white McCormick canisters that have probably been there for how long?

 

Tea obviously contains water…

After all, tea is made by infusing dried, crushed leaves or herbs in hot water

 

And tea contains herbs…

Herbal tea has been used in medicine in southern and eastern Asia for thousands of years, and drinking herbal tea has many health benefits—such as settling your stomach, burning fat, curing a cold, relieving muscle tension and twitching, calming the stomach, improving your mood, helping to manage stress, helping you lose weight, and helping you feel less stressed, sad, or anxious.

The people of the ancient Shang dynasty in China first introduced to our side of the globe by serving it to Portuguese missionaries during the 16th Century. The popularity of tea spread quickly throughout Europe and Asia.

 

But which tea?!

There is such a wide range of tea brands and varieties that choosing which tea to actually buy can seem mind-boggling….almost like choosing coffee or your favorite donut at Dunkin’ Donuts…

 

So which teas are best for when?!

Just like everything else, each of us probably has an opinion on which tea is their favorite, which brand to buy, how to make it, and so forth…

So in this post I have decided to simply list as many different types of tea as I could think of, and start exploring these different types of tea before we reach the herbs/spices rung of the Raw Foods Pyramid.

 

  1. Banana Tea—Dr. Oz RecipeNot only will banana tea help you fall asleep quicker and stay asleep longer, but bananas are rich in both potassium and magnesium, two minerals that can help your blood vessels and muscles relax.
  2. Basil Tea…Basil tea is made with fresh or dried herbs. Basil tea is perfect for helping with digestion.
  3. Black Tea…Black tea contains a lot of caffeine, which will obviously, or hopefully, help you stay awake and alert throughout the day….as well as other health benefits—such as repairing lung damage caused by cigarette smoke exposure and reducing the potential of stroke.
  4. Catnip TeaCatnip Tea?! Really?! Before now I only thought that catnip was just fun to give your cats, but the organic compound nepetalactone that is found in catnip is actually used in medicine to treat many things, including insomnia.
  5. Chai Tea...The traditional Indian spices in chai tea serve as a natural stimulant—helping to facilitate energy production within the body, boosting energy and mental clarity—all without that afternoon, post-caffeine crash.
  6.  Chamomile TeaChamomile Tea does the opposite of black tea…instead of  providing you with a huge dose of caffeine to keep you overstimulated and hyper all day, chamomile tea helps get rid of all that anxiety and stress. Chamomile tea has also been shown to provide many more health benefits—such as boosting blood circulation, getting rid of bloating and indigestion, and helping you get a good night’s sleep.
  7. Ginger Tea…Ginger tea provides just enough of a boost of natural energy boost to keep you feeling like you can tackle the world, improves circulation, and helps whenever you are feeling nauseous,
  8. Green Tea…Green tea can calm you down and make you feel relaxed. It contains L-theanine that boosts the brain waves, giving you a similar sensation that is experienced during meditation.Green Tea will help relieve a whole host of ailments including a slow metabolism and icommonly called the ‘wonder tea’….It’s packed with antioxidants, lowers cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure and even fights tooth decay.
  9. Honeybush Tea…This caffeine-free tea has a sweet, fragrant taste. Honeybush has a calming effect, reducing stress and easing the mind. It is also a powerful antioxidant, potentially reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer.
  10.  Indian masala chai…can keep your mind positive every day. It has properties that can lift up your mood and make you feel happier. This chai promotes positivity by stimulating your body to generate serotonin, a chemical that stabilizes the mood.
  11.  Lavender TeaLavender tea treats a variety of ailments, like agitation, anxiety and insomnia. Lavender is known for its mood stabilizing properties, reducing stressful feelings and acting as a muscle relaxant.Usually the first “natural” ingredient that I think of when thinking about ways to help relieve stress and calm down for the night is lavender, but I never knew that you could buy lavender tea…actually I’d never looked for it before…Lavender tea is your best option whenever you are sleepless. It promotes relaxation that places you in a sound and undisrupted sleep. Drinking lavender tea can also help improve blood circulation, and keep your nervous system in top condition. You can drink a cup every day before bedtime.
  12. Lemon or Orange Tea….to boost your mood. These two teas taste great and are effective in relaxing your body. Their scent will also calm you down.
  13.  Lemon Balm Tea…Lemon balm is an herb in the mint family. It has been used for thousands of years to induce a clam state. It promotes restful sleep, improving impulse control and reducing feelings of rage…Lemon Balm TeaLemon Balm Tea…Lemon Balm tea is good for anxiety, panic attacks and if you are feeling stressed. Adding a little honey to herbal teas is also beneficial and can make them a little more palatable too….Lemon balm is a herb commonly used to treat insomnia and to help with anxiety and stress. Lemon balm is often combined with other herbs, such as chamomile and valerian, to create a very powerful tea for insomniacs.
  14.  Lemon Verbena Tea…Lemon verbena is a plant native to South America. This herb, also known as lemon beebrush, is a powerful anti-inflammatory that helps regulate hormones. It’s mood-boosting properties help to reduce anxiety and depressive thoughts.
  15. Lemongrass tea…. This tea contains essential oils that help your body calm down. It is the best natural anti-depressant.
  16. Oat Straw Tea…Oat straw tea is made from the grassy stem part of the oat plant. Oat straw is considered a “nutrient dense” herb and is especially great for soothing the nervous system, helping to manage everyday stress, cleansing the liver and gallbladder, and supporting a healthy circulatory system.
  17. Oolong Tea…Oolong tea is high in antioxidants and is known to reduce bad cholesterol levels. For years, it has been considered the best tea for weight loss for both men and women. For the most optimal benefits, it is important to consume at least one glass, 2 to 3 times every day.
  18. Passion Flower TeaPassion flower tea is made from the leaves and vines of the passion plant, which is native to Mexico and Central America and was named “passion fruit” by  Spanish missionaries in Peru, who saw the flower’s design as being symbolic of the Passion of Christ. Passion flower tea contains many important nutrients—including vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, potassium and antioxidants.
  19. Peppermint Tea…Peppermint tea can help calm your mind and body. It is the best tea for your emotional wellness. If you have been suffering from a heart-breaking experience, all you need is a sip from peppermint tea. You should feel better after emptying a cup….Peppermint tea is the tea of choice whenever you are looking for something to help calm stomach problems such as indigestion before you go to bedPeppermint tea is known to soothe an upset stomach. It helps reduce nausea, stomach cramps, heartburn and motion sickness. It is also a known antispasmodic, reducing the chance of vomiting…Peppermint Tea….If you are feeling bloated, you can’t go past good old
  20. Rooibos Tea…This sweet, nutty tea is popular in South African countries. It is naturally caffeine-free, yet boots memory, focus and concentration. Rooibos tea also relives nervous tension and improves mental clarity.
  21. St John’s Wort TeaSt John’s Wort is a popular natural anti-depressant that helps relieve anxiety and stress, two of the most common causes of insomnia. But before using St. John’s Wort, make sure that is safe for you to use, based on your current state of health and any other medications you are currently taking.
  22. Tart Cherry Tea…Tart cherry tea is for the anxious people. It is effective against anxiety or restlessness. Drinking a cup of tart cherry tea will slow down the blood flow, just like how the lavender tea works. You will begin to feel more relaxed afterwards.
  23. Valerian TeaThere has been much debate as to the effectiveness of valerian and valerian tea, in helping people deal with insomnia and anxiety, even though people have been using the root of the valerian plant for its sedative properties for centuries.
  24. White Tea…White tea is both unfermented and uncured. In addition, is known for its potent anti-cancer properties, and is also shown to be highly effective for weight loss.

 helping you feel refreshed and optimistic….

Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Veggies Tales

In addition to the leafy greens and fruits already mentioned in previous posts, vegetables—especially starchy vegatables——can help contribute to your daily water consumption. These low-calorie, high-fiber foods—such as lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes—not only often consist of as much as 95% water weight, but also are good sources of other essential nutrients—such as potassium, vitamin C, vitamin A and folate.
The best vegetables to incorporate to your daily diet if you want to eat your daily water, instead of drinking it are…

Baby Carrots…water content: 90.4%…My first question when I saw that baby carrots were high on water content was, “Gee, why not just say that carrots are good, not baby carrots specifically…but baby carrots contain more water than regular carrots, which contain 88.3% water.

Cauliflower…water content: 92.1%…Not only does cauliflower contain this much water, but cauliflower is also packed with vitamins and phytonutrients that help lower cholesterol and fight cancer, including breast cancer.

Celery…water content: 95.4%…Celery not only contains this much water, but three stalks of celery can also help meet your daily needs for other vitamins and mineral deficiencies—including sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, folate, and vitamins A, C, and K…..while only providing eighteen calories.

Cucumber…water content: 96.7%…Cucumbers contain more water than absolutely any other solid food. Cucumbers also contain high levels of vitamin C, caffeic acid, sulfur and silicon..while having very little sodium and calories.

Green Peppers…Water content: 93.9%…All types of bell peppers—red, yellow, green—have a high water content, but green peppers actually contain more than the other two. Green peppers also contain just as many antioxidants as the brighter colored varieties. In addition, green peppers provide numerous vitamins and minerals—including vitamin C, thiamine, vitamin B6, beta carotene, and folic acid.
Radishes…water content: 95.3%…I totally and completely LOVE radishes, but so often radishes are simply overlooked as we go through the produce aisle…yet, don’t be in such a hurry to choose everything else when shopping for fruits and veggies beca

Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Yes, You Can Actually EAT Water

 

 

 

Okay, so we all know now that water is important to our health for many different reasons…but sorry, water is still boring—even when “spiked” with spices and herbs…

Is there any other option that can help us reach out daily recommended two liters of water per day?

Fortunately yes…we can actually EAT our water by choosing foods that have a high water content…

Let’s look at a few of these options, using the Raw Foods Pyramid as a guide…

The levels of the Raw Foods Pyramid are…

  • Water
  • Leafy Greens
  • Fruits and Vegetables
  • Image result for raw foods pyramidSprouts and Legumes
  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Herbs, Microgreens, and Juicing Greens
  • Seaweed and Nutritional Yeast

So looking at these levels, let’s see which foods help you reach your daily water needs…

 

Leafy Greens…Leafy greens require ample chewing and provide a healthy dose of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They also help with acid indigestion, constipation, and urinary tract infections.

  1. Iceberg Lettuce…Although we have all been told to choose darker greens—such as spinach or romaine—because these have more fiber and nutrients such as folate and vitamin K, lettuce is the best leafy green as far as water content. Iceberg consists of  95.6% water…more water than any other leafy greens—including butterhead, green leaf, and romaine.
  2. Spinach…Even though spinach has less water content than iceberg lettuce—92% water, spinach provides more nutrients than iceberg lettuce—including magnesium, potassium, B-vitamins, lutein, fiber, folate, and antioxidants.
  3. Other leafy green options that will increase your water intake include kale, Chinese cabbage, bok choy, Swiss chard, cabbage, and watercress.
Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Mineral Water At Least Makes Drinking Water Much Less Boring

My very favorite segment of the movie Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is when Charlie and his grandfather drink the bubbly water and float into the ceiling. If they can escape the reality of gravity and this great planet full of chaos and concerns simply by drinking bubbly water, wouldn’t we all be drinking it every day?

Yet, even though bubbly water will not help us reach great heights, there are many types of “bubbly” water available that can add interest to our newly established water drinking habit that not only help with staying hydrated, but also provide many other health benefits as well.

These options include…

  • Sparkling Water…Sparkling water is water that has been infused with carbon dioxide, either naturally or man-made, making the water sparkling or bubbly.
  • Natural Mineral Water…Natural mineral water—such as Perrier and San Pellegrino—is water than comes from a  a geologically and physically protected underground water source—such as an aquifer, underground reservoir, spring, or artesian wells—such as in Mihalkovo in the Bulgarian Rhodope Mountains, in Medžitlija in Macedonia, or most notably in Selters in the German Taunus mountains.
  • Seltzer Water…Seltzer water is a  genericized trademark originally used to market the water that comes from the infamous German town Selters, This natural sparkling mineral water has been commercially bottled and shipped from this town since the 18th century or earlier.
  • Soda Water…Soda water, also known as club soda, contains bicarbonate of soda, which gives them its own unique flavor. This water is popularly used for making mixed drinks—such as whisky and soda and Campari soda.
  • Tonic Water…Tonic water is a form of carbonated water that contains a bitter compound called quinine, along with sugar or high-fructose corn syrup.

 

And now that we have looked at the different types of bubbly available, let’s think about the health benefits of adding carbonated water to your diet….benefits such as…

  1. Blood Sugar…The bicarbonate found in mineral water helps maintain a healthy pH of the blood so it doesn’t become too acidic or too basic and improves glycemic control.
  2. Bones…Unlike soft drinks, mineral water does not contribute to lower bone mineral density and osteoperosis….mainly because unlike Cokes mineral water does not contain the added risk of having a lot of phosphorus and not enough calcium. In fact, drinking one liter of sodium-rich sparkling water for eight weeks can lead to better calcium retention.
  3. Digestion…Mineral water may help treat digestive problems—such as constipation.
  4. Heart…Carbonated water has several beneficial effects on cholesterol, inflammation and blood sugar. People drinking mineral water regularly can reduce their risk of developing heart disease within ten years by 35%.
  5. Motion Sickness…Carbonated beverages without caffeine are known for their ability to help calm that queasiness.
  6. Weight Loss…Just as plain old water does, carbonated water helps you feel full longer…perhaps even better.

 

Now that we have established the fact that sparkling mineral water is a better alternative to Coke...for many reasons…such as Cokes being about a hundred times more erosive to teeth than sparkling mineral water, not containing any sugar or calories, and not being loaded with insulin-raising sugars or filled with extremely health-hazardous fake sugars like aspartame…

And now that we have also established the fact that sparkling water is also perhaps a better alternative to regular tap water…for many reasons…such as the possible, or probable, presence of dangerous toxins in our water supply…as proven by the findings of 316 different chemicals in tap water throughout the United States…

 

Let’s check which options of ready-to-drink carbonated water are the best ones to grab out of all the available alternatives.

  • (to be added later)

Final Thoughts…

  1. Make sure that you are choosing a sugar-free, unflavored sparkling mineral water that doesn’t contain any calories, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, artificial flavors, citric acid or any other acids, and any other additives.
  2. Spike sugary fruit juices with sparkling water.
  3. Try infusing your sparkling water just as you would regular water…with options such as watermelon, rosemary, blueberries, cucumber, lavender, and mint.