Monday, December 10, 2012

Fighting Fatigue Naturally: Exercise

Seriously time to move my lazy butt!

I HATE exercising. There I said it. I love the endorphin rush after a great workout, but I don't like to get started. This might just be the biggest of all the challenges for me. The best time will be in the morning, but I don't wanna!!!! Here's the best advice I can give myself here because ultimately it's just the way it is... SUCK IT UP! The only other option I have is to live a long winter tired and cranky. I'm not talking about running a marathon here (besides that isn't very healthy for a body anyway). I mean even 15-20 minutes of burst training or "dance therapy". Just something to help wake up my mind and body. Here are some things that have peeked my interest of late.

Have Wall Get Fit...

Found these on Pinterest. They look like a challenge that I might be able to conquer. That's always one way to get me motivated; tell me that I can't do it and I will or I'll die trying! We'll see.

There are loads of ideas out there, just google the one that works for you right? What exercises do you use? What has worked and what was a bomb. I'd really like to know.

Metamorphosis

I have a friend who says the Tracy Anderson Method has given her the best results in a very long time time. And I can tell you, she does look great (though I think she would look great regardless). A dancer and mother of four I could see how this program might appeal to her. I have my doubts that this "menno" white girl could dance her way to fitness, but if Gwenyth uses her then it must be worth it right?

These disks are expensive so... let's see what YouTube has on it first shall we? I found this... Instructional video that if you continue on goes through a few more of the workouts. I'll tell ya, the practicing steps and warm up works for me. My biggest shortfall with this type of workout is my own perfectionism. If I can't get it perfect I usually trash the whole thing. Dancing doesn't come natural to me. Oh, by the way she's gorgeous, so just get over that part right now.

Getting Intimate

Still ladies (and I mean ladies here, so guys you might wanna just skip reading this one) the best workout and the ones that are best for our mind and body should be done with our husbands, alone and uninterrupted.  Sex burns like 200 calories, reduces pain, increases estrogen (for women) and reduces prostate cancer (for men obviously). Studies have shown that one "dose" of semen contains just as much vitamin C as an orange (not suggesting you drink it, our bodies can absorb it just fine the traditional way). Talk about fighting off colds this winter though. Never mind that married couples who keep up a healthy intimate life will be more relaxed and have far less incidents of depression. So there you go married ladies just don't forget to stretch.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Fighting Fatigue Naturally: Food

Watch what goes into the body

Staying away from our arch enemy refined sugar and grains is always on the hit list around here, but winter is certainly a critical time to stick to it. Decreasing or best eliminating foods that your body turns to sugar and then lazy making fat is my 1st line of defense (bread, pasta, rice to start).

Increasing good fats gives me so much more energy than anything else out there all year round. I crave avocado like crazy when I'm deprived of energy (it's the temptation to eat it with a huge bag of chips that takes me out). My good fat go to list is: coconut oil, olive oil, butter, salmon, avocado (any form) and even though it tastes like death... cod liver oil. I have a real hard time with cod liver oil but if it means not feeling like a hermit all winter, maybe I can suck it up or maybe I'll keep looking on that last one.

Going green has a whole new meaning

Speaking of the green goodness of avocado, the fact is that the deeper the green the greater the energy. We eat a fair bit of soup in the winter and so the addition of kale or swiss chard can be very helpful. Something new I want to get in on is a daily cup of nettle infusion.  
"A daily cup of nettle infusion increases energy without wiring your nerves. Nettle strengthens the adrenals, allowing you to tolerate more stress with less harm. And it nourishes your immune system, too. To make it: Put one ounce of dried nettle leaf in a quart jar. Fill to the top with boiling water. Cap tightly and steep at least four hours (overnight is fine). Strain and drink. Refrigerate the remainder and consume within 36 hours." (click here for source)
Well I tries this for a few days in a a row and I must say I was like an energizer bunny. I had to slow myself down those days. I'll try it again soon to test it out, but my stash will run out fast. If this truly gives me a kick in the butt I might wanna save it up for the days I REALLY need it.

 

Low Iron makes me very sleepy

Having suffered from low iron levels in the past (mostly when pregnant), I know how tired I can get from that. Add to it low potassium or iodine and yikes! So it looks like a rice free version of an Asian diet might be a on the menu this winter. I used to eat sushi for my nori fix, but the rice & lack of availability up here sends me looking for other ideas. I might just deep fry it in coconut oil and top my suppers or salads.
"Celery, cabbage, seaweeds, nettle infusion, and red clover infusion are excellent sources of potassium. Molasses, chocolate, seaweeds, nettle infusion, and dandelion leaves are all superb sources of iron. For iodine, seaweed shines, but sea salt, mushrooms, and greens grown in gardens fertilized with seaweed also supply significant amounts." (click here for source)
An old standby for increasing my iron is grass fed beef liver. Here's my recipe. A far stretch from the liver & onions of my youth (though I liked that as well so long as it was covered in A1 Sauce). Now if liver really isn't your thing you might want to check out your local health food store and pick up some Floravit. It's a liquid iron supplement that actually tastes good. In the meantime I will keep looking for more yummy recipes to help battle these winter greys, so keep posted.

Beef Liver and Onions 

with mushrooms and bacon


Ingredients

small amount (2 servings) grass fed beef liver
1 yellow onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
10 mushrooms, sliced
6 slices bacon, sliced (watch for nitrates, they are bad for you)
coconut flour (enough for coating)
arrowroot powder (maybe a tsp or so)
thyme (to your taste, but I like a lot 1 tbsp)
salt and pepper to taste
kale or other dark leafy green for serving with it

Directions

Cook bacon with sliced mushrooms, onions and garlic. Slice up the liver into strips, coat it with coconut flour seasoned with salt, pepper and thyme (if you have a bit of arrowroot powder great because then you get a bit of "gravy" with the pan drippings). Remove bacon mixture from pan and set aside.

Add a bit more coconut oil to the pan and cook the liver (not to death or it gets too tough). Gently brown it on all sides (a couple minutes). Return the bacon, onion & mushroom mixture to the pan and loosen up the pan bits with a bit of water (about 1/4 cup for a small liver amount). Sometimes I add a bit more thyme to amp up the flavor (I love mushrooms with thyme).

Let it cook for a couple minutes longer with the lid on. I serve it over baby kale or add kale to the last cooking stage to wilt it up a bit. Add there you go. Enough iron to get you through the month. Only something I make a few times a year, but it's so good (when done right). No A1 sauce needed here!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Gai Choy Chicken Soup

Winter brings us many great things, but it also brings us cold season. With 4 young children we're getting our fair share around here (more than usual I think). Where you have colds you also have the need for soup. One of my favorite things to create in the kitchen. You really can't mess up with soup. The key is to start with the basics adding what you have available and taste often.

Loaded with Vitamin A and C and my favorite these cold days Vitamin D, this soup is not only tasty but good for you (don't tell the children that though). Ideally I would make this with a variety of fresh mushrooms, but all that were available were the white and brown crimini. One could easily add oyster and shiitake to increase the authentic asian flavor. Alas I work with what I have.

Ingredients:

4 cups sliced mushrooms
8 cups chicken stock
2 cups cooked shredded chicken
4 cups chopped gai choy (chinese mustard greens)
F.O.C for frying
1 tbsp chili garlic paste
2 tsp grated ginger
1/4 cup soy sauce
4 green onions thinly sliced for garnish

Directions:

Heat oil in large pot. Cook mushrooms on medium heat until lightly browned, add ginger and gai choy and sauté a few minutes more. Add chicken stock and and chicken; continue to simmer as long as you wish really. Shortly before serving add the soy sauce and ginger paste and garnish with green onions.

Enjoy! And if you're not usually a throw it a pot and wing it type of person I encourage you to give creative soups a try. The ingredients usually cost only pennies a bowl so you don't have to feel bad if no one likes it but you.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

French Canadian Meat Pie

A number of years ago I was introduced to a great Christmas food tradition. While I know this version will never compare to the one I first fell in love with, this is a really good rendition.

Where we live now, veal wasn't available though I was tempted to try and find some moose or other game meat to add in. Alas I wasn't that brave... this time!

Here's how I made this batch (and yes, I was lazy and used store bought crust). Feel free to send me your versions. I am always  willing to try other versions.

Ingredients

2 pounds ground pork
1/2 pound ground veal
1 onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small sweet potato (cooked and mashed)
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
Salt and pepper to taste
Pastry for two (maybe 3 if shallow) double-crust pies (9 inches)

Directions

Brown meat with onion, celery and garlic. Add herbs salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine and cook for a couple minutes. Add the mashed sweet potato and chicken broth, combining well. Simmer a few more minutes. Allow to cool slightly before filling prepared shells. Fill to slightly heaping amounts and lay top rust over, pinching edges. Cut a few venting holes and brush tops with milk or egg wash (if you like). Bake for 30-45 minutes in a 350˚F oven. Allow to cool slightly before cutting.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Whiskey Marinaded Pork Tenderloin

This recipe is good for making about 2-3 pork tenderloins, trimmed up and poked with fork. Mixed together the marinade ingredients and let meat soak it all up overnight in a covered container in the fridge.

For the marinade:

1/4 cup whisky
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/8 cup honey
1/8 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons grainy dijon mustard
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt

For glazing:

1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1-2 tbsp olive oil
S and P to taste

We have a Jenn Air cooktop so we are blessed to be able to grill year round indoors, but I think you could easily do this recipe in the oven. Grill to your liking rotating and brushing with glaze as they cook. Let rest before slicing and serve. We made this yummy Quinoa with Green Onion and Pine Nuts to go along side paired with some ginger glazed carrots.





Saturday, December 1, 2012

Fighting Fatigue Naturally: The Sun

So winter is upon us and for me that often means an increase in fatigue. The lack of sun takes it's toll on my energy levels for sure! In years past I would get myself into the tanning beds to fake that vitamin D, but I don't know how great that is for me either. These days I just amp up the coffee intake and just push through. While neither of these are the healthiest solutions I am on a mission to incorporate some do-able good ones.

After some research (online of course) I have some things I am going to try and then get back to you on how well they work. Some are obvious and I have been doing them already, but clearly it's not enough to battle the great white (or grey) north. To keep these blogs short, I will touch base on each "solution" separately thus the Fighting Fatigue Series is born!

Obviously getting out for some serious sun whenever it's out is a given. Tough part is getting enough exposed skin to soak up the good rays. Living in The Pas, Manitoba, Canada makes this task much more difficult.
Your body makes vitamin D when your skin is exposed to the ultraviolet B (UVB) rays in sunlight. You probably need from 5 to 30 minutes of exposure to the skin on your face, arms, back or legs (without sunscreen) two times every week. Since exposure to sunlight is a risk for skin cancer, you should use sunscreen after a few minutes in the sun, even on hazy or cloudy days. (click here for source)
So I'm thinking that is NOT going to happen. Plan B...
 
Bundle up and go for a walk. Bring my camera and take a few snapshots to remind myself what beauty there is in winter. At least then my mind will be in a much better place. If it's nice enough maybe I'll be able to leave my scarf and toque at home.

Play in the snow! I don't know about you, but there is nothing more fun in the winter than building snow forts. I could do it all day if the weather isn't too frigid. A couple years ago I remember making a fort in our back yard late into the night. Myself and our neighbor girl stayed out long after the children and well after dark turning the entire yard into a sled path, ramp and house complete with bed and TV. If it wasn't for my toe getting terribly pinched by my toe ring in my boot we would have stayed out even longer. There are a few really great ideas we found in this book, Snow Play that we hope to have enough snow for this year. I also enjoy skating and skiing but since having children haven't done either of those much.

For now, I will continue my vitamin D supplements (I like prefer the liquid version) and get my face out there whenever I can. What fun ways do you get sun in the winter months?