Ancient Flu Soup with a Little Thai Twist

This is a staple at my house!  So yummy and so good for you.  It contains most of the ingredients from the ‘Ancient Flu Soup’, said to keep the flu away.  There are a few tasty ingredients added to this version, and you should have it tonight!

It is very simple to make and can be eaten right away, although I find it gets tastier the longer it simmers and tomorrow it will be even better!

You’ll have to forgive me – the photos were taken with my phone as I was cooking tonight!

Ingredients

  • 8oz Chicken Breast cubed
  • Juice and zest of one lime plus wedges
  • 1 clove of garlic (if you know me, you know that means 2)
  • 2 tbsp Thai red chili paste
  • 2 stalks of lemon grass (remove outer leaves and cut into 1-1 1/2 inch pieces)
  • 1 Nerdle of ginger cut into thin slices
  • 1 tsp Nam Pla (fish sauce)
  • 8 Mushrooms (I use Crimini – I’m not much of a meat eater and these babies are hearty)
  • 1 L Chicken Broth
  • 1 or 2 cans Coconut Milk – I LOVE coconut – your choice
  • Green onions sliced
  • 1 bunch of cilantro coarsely chopped

Place cubed chicken into a pot and cover with lime juice and zest.  Let sit for about 20 minutes.

 

Add Garlic, Ginger and Lemongrass, stir and simmer on low/med for 10 minutes.

When chicken is close to cooked add mushrooms, Chili Paste, Nam Pla and Chicken Stock.  Bring to a low boil.

Simmer for 20 minutes and add the coconut milk and cilantro.  Keep on heat until soup is hot again.  Try not to bring it to a boil as the coconut milk may start to separate.

Serve with green onion and a lime wedge!

I eat around the chicken and my son steers clear of the mushrooms… it’s a win-win!  …and a healthy one at that!

Enjoy!

Why do I have so much pain?!

… I didn’t even really DO anything!?

I hear these types of things every day, and I have a theory about our pain.

I tell my patients, and anyone else who will listen, that I think of our bodies as buckets.  We are born ’empty’ buckets and every time we fall out of a tree, trip off a curb, get in a fender bender, walk into a closed door (come on… I’m not the only one!!)… every time these things happen we get drops in our bucket.  By the time we hit 30, maybe younger if we happen to be daredevils or particularly clumsy, our bucket is getting pretty full.

You know that little meniscus you see over a glass… that’s our pain.  That’s 30.

We can lose weight, start stretching, go to physio and we can get ourselves below the lip of the bucket and feeling pretty close to ‘normal’.  The very next time we do something, no matter how small… it could be vacuuming or raking leaves, or lifting a box, and it can refill the bucket if we move slightly incorrectly.

I had a patient once who was so frustrated, and I don’t blame him, but he could hardly stand or walk when he got to my office.  The culprit manoever… bending over to throw away a tissue.  It doesn’t need to be anything magnificent for us to start feeling pain again.

I think this is why we all feel invincible when we are young, too!  The top of that bucket is so far away when you are 17 – nothing can hurt you!!

…but WHY does pain and restricted movement get worse?!

Inflammation (as a result of soft tissue injury*)

When soft tissue injury occurs, white bloods cells called Neutrophils are the first to arrive and they summon other  immune cells by widening blood vessels to allow the area to be flooded with extracellular fluid.  The fluid contains Monocytes, which mature into Macrophages (big eaters) that remove the damaged cells and metabolites from the area.  While this is going on we see the ‘cardinal signs of inflammation’:

  • heat (calor)
  • redness (rubor)
  • swelling (tumor)
  • pain (dolor) – when the area is inflamed there is pressure on surrounding tissues, including pain receptors – nociceptors.

*there are other instances of inflammatory processes that can go on in our bodies that don’t originate with injury.  Some examples include:

  • Asthma
  • Colitis and Crohn’s Disease
  • Arthritis

Pain-Spasm-Cycle

This is really a result of your body trying to protect you from further injury.  Let’s take the fellow who was tossing away his tissue as an example.  He bent over and felt a ‘tweak’ in his back.  It was severe enough for him to discontinue activity.  He tried to take things easy for a few days but things seemed to get progressively worse!  Things seemed to be getting tighter!  He couldn’t sit comfortably, or even tie his shoes!

When the injury occurred the body recognized that an area was in danger – a muscle tear was about to occur, or a facet joint was about to ‘go out’ – sensing this, the surrounding muscles contracted/tightened up to prevent further injury (a protective muscle spasm).  The constant state of contraction causes decreased blood flow to the area – ischemia.  The lack of circulation and tight muscle, over a period of time, causes the retention of metabolites, an increase in toxins, the muscle to shorten and to restrict movement even more.

A reactive spasm ‘should’ resolve on it’s own, when the threat to the area is removed, but that doesn’t always occur.

Stress, Pain and Cold can propagate this process and create a pain spasm cycle.   Any of these can cause reactive tightening/protection and consequently, further reduction in blood flow and a chronic pain situation.

It doesn’t mean you are destined to live a life of pain.  There ARE things we can do that bring us below the lip of the bucket again, the key is to do them regularly, and to look at the things in our life that we may do to aggravate our bodies… and modify them.

The good new is that massage, when provided by a Registered Massage Therapist, is an evidence based treatment that has proven effective in breaking the pain spasm cycle.  The utilization of appropriate techniques will result in increasing blood flow, decreasing muscle tightness and aiding in the elimination of inflammatory cellular waste – metabolites/toxins.   All of this brings about normal muscle function, range of motion and strength.

As we age, it becomes more and more important to be proactive in our health.  We need to  arrange our environments to be less aggravating and be consistent in doing things that keep your pain level low.  Keep the aggravating factors at bay.

Reduce Stress!!
Prevent Injury!!

If you need specific advice, I’m here to help!

Oopsie!

So this just happened!!  Oopsie!  …it wasn’t really a mistake, it is a low carb ‘bread’.

While the ‘bread/bun’ is quite fragile, it certainly made a sandwich possible!

It’s somewhat finicky to make, but certainly a heck of a lot simpler than traditional buns!!

You will need:

a medium sized bowl, a larger medium bowl, electric mixer and measuring things (I used a scale and a teaspoon)

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz of cream cheese
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp of baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp salt

that’s it.

Set oven to 300 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Separate the egg whites from the egg yolks – yolks into larger bowl, whites into smaller.

With the hand mixer, whisk the egg whites until they are quite frothy; then add the baking powder and continue to mix until the whites form peaks (like meringue).

Set aside and add the salt and cream cheese (cubed for easier mixing) to the bowl with the egg yolks and mix until the mixture is smooth, pale and has almost doubled in size.

In small batches, fold the egg white mixture into the egg yolks; do this very gently, you want to make sure the air remains in the mixture; continue until the two bowls are completely combined.

Scoop mixture onto lined baking pan.  You should yield 6 ‘buns’ a little larger than an english muffin, or about a hamburger bun size.

Make sure you have room between each oopsie.

Place in 300 degree oven for approximately 30 minutes, or until they are a golden brown as above (or below)!

I used mine as a sandwich – but might try them for eggs bene, or a burger next time!

There is no reason you can not use them in a sweet dish if you like, too! They are very mild in flavor.  As I am trying to stay away from carbs, I’ll stick to the savory variety and may even add garlic powder or parmesan to them next time!

Nutritional Info (each)
Calories – 102
Fat (g) – 9
Cargs (g) – 1.1
Protein (g) – 4.3

Try them out and let me know what you think!

Come On Get Happy!

Happiness is in our hearts, our heads and ultimately… in our control. It is driven by chemicals in our body.  One of them is Dopamine …so that is where we will start.

Dopamine

Outside the CNS (Central Nervous System) dopamine acts as a chemical messenger.  It is a vasodilator in blood vessels, reduces insulin production in the pancreas and in the kidneys, it helps to increase excretion of sodium in the urine.

Dopamine, in the brain,  is a neurotransmitter. The brain contains several specific dopamine pathways, one of which plays a huge part in reward-motivated behaviour and pleasure – happiness.

Most types of rewards cause an increase in dopamine levels – new experiences, and accomplishments for example.  Dopamine plays many other important roles in the body and brain, including movement, memory, sleep and mood.   It increases attention, cognition, stimulates our creativity and makes us more social and can even help us to form parental or romantic bonds.  Many types of pleasurable experiences, such as sex, enjoying food, or playing video games, increase dopamine release.

We all want/crave these things, and unfortunately, when people seek out artificial sources, it can lead to addictions.  Opiate drugs (morphine, heroine) increase dopamine concentrations directly or indirectly, also creating the pleasurable liking/wanting expressions, and consequently addiction.

Dopamine deficiency effects people in many ways.  Can you relate to anything in the following list?  Do you…

  • feel depressed, bored, apathetic?
  • have a decrease in physical and mental energy?
  • find yourself tired a lot? Do you have to push yourself?
  • have decreased motivation or drive?
  • have difficulty focusing or concentrating?
  • a decreased sex-drive?
  • put on weight easily?
  • find yourself easily chilled?  Have cold hands/feet?

What Now?

All is not lost.  You don’t have to resort to addictions, friends!  There are a number of natural ways you can increase your dopamine production by modifying, changing or increasing things in your diet and lifestyle.

Lifestyle

Make the most of today – you can do something new and exciting! Firsts are always exhilarating.  We’ve all seen inspirational quotes like:

Live each day like it’s your last; If you want something you’ve never had, do something you’ve never done; Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

You see where I’m going with this.  Do it.

Increase your exercise – it decreases your stress.  It doesn’t have to be a lot.  Climb some stairs, walk the dog …just move.

Write down your small tasks – break down the large jobs you need to tackle into smaller ones for more frequent dopamine ‘hits’.  Not going to lie, I will sometimes write something on my to do list that I have already done just so I can cross it off and feel better! It’s satisfying …tell me I’m not alone.

Listen to Music – You know when you are feeling down, or tired and your favorite songs come on… you all of a sudden have the energy to sing along or dance; that’s the increased dopamine in action!  Browse the internet for music you love – but limit the time you spend there.  Research has proven that the internet can be addicting and that’s not how we want to do this.

Diet + Supplements

There are certain Amino Acids (precursors), enzymes, and (micronutrients) vitamins and minerals required for successful production of Dopamine.  Increasing these  will mean increasing the ability to create the neurotransmitter.

Tyrosine,  Phenylalanine and DOPA (dihydroxiphenylalanine) are amino acids involved in the production of Dopamine. Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid, meaning it can not be produces within our bodies and needs to come from your diet or as a supplement. Phenylalanine is converted to Tyrosine in our bodies.  Tyrosine is non-essential, which is a bit of a misnomer because it fills an essential role, but can be synthesized in your body.  It is also found in certain foods and supplements.  Tyrosine is converted to L-Dopa.  DOPA is biosynthesized in the liver from Tyrosine during the production of epinephrine and melanin. Its L isomer then travels across the blood brain barrier to be converted into dopamine inside the brain. L-Dopa or levadopa can be manufactured in laboratories and is commonly used to treat Parkinson’s disease and other conditions associated with low dopamine.

Foods loaded with Phenylalanine include:

  • Soy and Soy products
  • Cheese – especially parmesan
  • Nuts and Seeds – especially pumpkin
  • Lean Beef
  • Chicken and Turkey
  • Lean Pork
  • Fish and Seafood
  • Eggs and Dairy
  • Beans and Lentils
  • Whole Grains

 

Foods loaded with Tyrosine include:

  • Almonds
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Eggs
  • Green Tea
  • Milk
  • Watermelon
  • Yogurt

Dopamine enhancing supplements.  These help with production, retention and reuptake.

  • Acetyl-l-tyrosine is a production-ready version of Tyrosine which will make it easier for your brain to create dopamine;
  • L-Curcumin – an ingredient in turmeric, helps increase levels of dopamine;
  • Ginkgo Biloba is a popular wonder drug may help increase dopamine levels by making it stay in your brain longer;
  • L-Dopa – as mentioned above, it is converted from Tyrosine, but it can be found in concentrated amounts in the Velvet Bean, but also in smaller amounts in broad beans and fava beans.
  • L-theanine increases neurotransmitter production in your brain, one of which is dopamine.  This one is found in Green Tea!

Alcohol, excess caffeine and sugar as well as stress will decrease available dopamine.  So, along with doing things to increase your dopamine levels, you will want to limit other things, as well, to regain balance… and happiness.

I am able to help with supplements and diet advice.  If you feel that increasing dopamine is essential for you to find your healthy place, leave a comment or Say Hello!

You’ve got to start somewhere!

Okay, so here’s the thing… I’m not much of a blogger, or writer for that matter, but I am a storyteller and this is something I’ve always wanted to do  –  I just need people who want to ‘listen to it’ and that’s where you come in!  So, subscribe to the blog if you think you might be interested in my quirky, random, health related – or not – ramblings!  …there may be wine involved.

I didn’t know where to start exactly, so we’re going to the crux of it all.  We WANT to be healthy.  We try everything, especially every new thing because it HAS to be better than the last thing we tried that didn’t work and we’ve all been riding this roller coaster for years!  The biggest bandwagon of them all is the ‘diet’…

Name a diet, crash, detox, weight control, I’ve been on it, I swear!!

  • Cabbage Soup Diet
  • Egg and Weinie Diet <<< yes this really was a thing, and I really did it
  • Scarsdale Diet
  • Fit for Life – Harvey and Marilyn Diamond
  • Fasting – Herbert M. Shelton
  • Grapefruit Diet – I found out later that grapefruit inhibits some medications… well that explains a few things!
  • Counting Points, counting calories, counting numbers on a scale
  • Keto
  • Restricting (also known as Anorexia, but who’s keeping tabs)
  • Bevery Hills Diet
  • Master Cleanser
  • Wild Rose
  • Atkins Diet
  • Isagenix
  • South Beach Diet
  • Raw Food
  • Veggie, vegan, pescatarian, breatharian (I might be kidding about that last one)…

… but the truth is some of these work, and some of them don’t .  Some for a short time (while you are on them) and some of them have lasting results.  We jump on these as they come on the scene.  Why?  …because we all want to be a healthy weight.  Even if they have warnings like “Do not continue for more than 2 weeks, as it can be life threatening” <<< Do you know which one that was?  We end up piling weight back on… even more than we needed to lose in the first place.

I want to hear about your roller coaster.  What have you tried?  What worked?  What REALLY didn’t? Leave a comment below, and check back often.  I will be doing a short post for most of the diets listed and would love to include your thoughts!

 

 

The Fasting and the Furious

Okay… so, fasting has been a thing since Ramadan, or the Old Testament in Chapter 34 of Exodus when Moses did not eat for  40 days and nights… suffice it to say, it’s been a L-O-N-G time.

People fast for a multitude of reasons.  Political statement, to protest, or bring awareness to a cause… hunger strikes.

There are medical reasons to fast… it is one of the alternatives proven to reduce the DPP-4 level and activate the Dipeptidyl peptidase 4 inhibitors and therefore, prevent osteoporosis.

Since the mid 1970s alternative medicine has perpetuated ideas of cleansing the body through fasting.  Once upon a lifetime, I was a follower of ‘Natural Hygiene’… I’m sure I still have the literature in boxes in my garage, but that’s an entirely different blog post…

There was a man named Herbert M. Shelton, born in 1895, who was an American naturopath, alternative medicine advocate, author, pacifist, vegetarian, and a supporter of rawism and fasting.  He preached that cooking food denatures it, and that a healthy body has the ability to restore itself from illness without medical intervention.  Shelton’s work is relevant as an early influence of the raw food movement

.

Shelton is credited with reviving the Natural Hygiene movement founded by Sylvester Graham.  Interestingly enough, for people who might not know me so well… I started the process of getting my Doctorate of Natural Hygiene in the early 1990s.  You have to imagine how hard it was to eat in those days… where as a vegetarian you would be considered a ‘freak show’!!  I was a vegan who encouraged fasting for health reasons.  I still believe the natural hygiene theory to be relevant but in the days of fast and convenient ‘everything’… not mainstream or easily followed.

Fasting

It sounds so much worse than it is!!  There are all sorts of popular diets and cleanse that encourage fasting to some degree.  One of the most extreme cleanses I’ve attempted is the Master Cleanse… basically, you drink Lemonade with Maple Syrup and Cayenne Pepper for as long as you can manage.

There are other programs that use fasting as part of their weight-loss cleanse.  Isagenix is one that I have done twice a year for more than 10 years.  It tastes great, you can eat real food and have lasting results from it!  I do the 9 day cleanse in the spring and fall and it feels amazing!  The light at the end of the tunnel is always bright and you get to eat real food for 5 of the 9 days!

Intermittent Fasting

This is a concept that has been around for centuries!  It has become most popular recently with the resurgence of the Keto Diet (which is not completely disengaged from the Atkins Diet or the Glycemic Diet or the HCG Diet – with the exception of the daily needles in the abdomen).

We ALL use intermittent fasting to some degree or another.  For fat loss, it is recommended that you ‘fast’ for 16 hours and ‘eat’ for 8… or longer if have the capacity to avoid Anorexia.  All things serious, we finish dinner and go to bed.  We don’t eat again until we break ‘fast’, in the morning.  It is a natural way of eating and if you play with the timing, it can be beneficial in fat loss.  Your body will resort to burning stored fat while you are ‘fasting’ or in ketosis.

The Keto Diet is one that uses intermittent fasting as a key component of it’s plan.  Further to the fasting you are encouraged to keep your carbs from 0-20 net grams per day.  It is a high fat and low carb plan that quite frankly would resemble my ‘Dream Diet’ – LOL!  It is a great one for a jump starter, in my opinion.  You are guaranteed to lose weight if you follow it religiously, but as with every diet that eliminates and entire macronutrient (Atkins for example), you will regain the weight if you fall back into your regular eating habits.  If you were to take a look at an 80s movement called Fit for Life by followers of Natural Hygiene originator, Shelton, they believe in food combining at every meal; protein with vegetables, vegetables with starchy carbs, never protein with starchy carbs.  Skipping the Starchy carbs altogether and eating protein with vegetables, in the recommended amounts, resembles the Keto Diet… or the Atkins Diet.

There is a LOT more to Harvey and Marilyn Diamonds Fit for Life movement – which I followed faithfully for many years.  (I still have the Fit for Life Kitchen Cookbook – FULL of amazing information if anyone is interested… actually I’m interested in revisiting it.  I may do another post on that one I think it started a lot of the common diet theories/ways) I believe it was where juicing originated; you were only allowed to eat fruit/juice in the early morning hours and never with anything else.  Further, food was categorized into Living and Dead (I know, dramatic).  Living foods were considered fruits and vegetables, preferably eaten raw; and Dead foods were foods that ‘rot’ in your belly… meat for example. No dairy foods should ever be eaten; Water should never be drunk at meals; and one day each week (the same day every week) is a free day, when the individual can eat whatever he or she wants… origination of a ‘cheat day’.  If you look hard at even the small amount of information I’ve supplied… this was being vegan.  Long before THAT was a mainstream thing.

 

There is nothing saying that you can’t combine ‘theories’ to create a more balanced lifestyle to suit your needs, I truly believe that ALL modern diets have their basis in the same things.

Here’s a thought… I think diets are kinda like religions.  While they all claim to be the best and have their own ‘rules’, fundamentally, they all originate from the same place and want the same thing. – Shaun

I have used the Isagenix Cleanse with Intermittent Fasting.  You finish your 400-600 calorie meal before 7pm, and have a Cleanse Drink before bed… have another Cleanse drink when you wake, a shake at Lunch and finish your day with your 400-600 calorie meal (being reasonable of course, don’t go having a Big Mac!)

Bottom line… fasting sounds so much scarier than it is and I truly believe it has a place in a healthy lifestyle!  Suit yourself though… Big Macs are tasty if you’re not concerned about health.

Master ‘Cleanse’ of the Universe!

This one is the MOST aggressive detoxifying cleanse I’ve ever experienced… and truth betold… I didn’t experience it nearly as long as I should have!!!

The Master Cleanse requires you to drink nothing but Lemonade with Maple Syrup and Cayenne Pepper for 10+ days.

I did this with some friends in college.  One of my friends is a pro and lasted for 10 days with fantastic results; and has done longer if I recall… I lasted for 4 days… another of our colleagues called me during the cleanse and said:

OMGosh… I can’t take it… I’m STARving… I have to quit!!

I said:

Jaime… it’s been 4 hours.

Needless to say, it’s not easy.

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