I love Wednesdays! That’s the day each week I get to join some seventy-five of the coolest women I know for Community Bible Study (CBS) in Coronado. We gather first in small groups to discuss and apply the previous week’s lesson…then join everyone else to hear a lecture that takes a deeper look at the historical perspective of the scripture text.
And while I enjoy all the teaching and talking—I really look forward to our monthly fellowship “feeds!” Seriously, There’s something about women of faith and food! (Think church potluck!) We all bring something yummy to share after class. (They usually have me bring fruit…something I can’t screw up!)
Fortunately, we can always count on Trish, my small group leader, to show up with a piping hot pan of her famous “crust-less quiche!” Everyone loves it! No heavy, thick dough…just Trish’s fabulous combination of eggs, milk, cheese, onions and spinach. Surprisingly, her quiche slices neatly and firmly…even without a doughy foundation. Trish says it’s the cheese settling to the bottom of the quiche that creates the faux crust.
One day, after downing a super-sized slice of Trish’s mouth-watering, cheesy egg concoction… I asked her how she, a busy, young mom of four finds time to cook?! With a big smile, Trish assured me her quiche recipe is simple! I begged her to share it with me…then she agreed to let me share it with you!
Now that eggs are once again finding favor with doctors and nutritionists…I’ve been looking for ways to include the incredible edible into my diet regularly.
So here’s an easy egg recipe that’s big on protein, low in carbs and positively DEE-lish! (Did I mention it’s also gluten-free?!)
Trish’s Crust-less Spinach Quiche
1 TBLS vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 10-oz. package frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and drained
5 eggs, beaten (Trish confided sometimes she throws in a sixth!)
3 cups shredded Muenster cheese (or any other cheese blend)
¼ tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-inch pie pan. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally until soft. Stir in spinach and continue cooking until excess moisture has evaporated. In a large bowl, combine eggs, cheese, salt and pepper. Add spinach mixture and stir to blend. Scoop into prepared pie pan. Bake until eggs have set—about 30 min. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
Compared to the rest of the world, we live in a place of plenty. Catalogs fill our mailboxes, enticing us to buy more “stuff.” Heck, shopping is a national pastime!
Why, then, aren’t the fabulous boots I bought in March still making me smile? How is it that I still complain I have “nothing to wear,” despite a closet full of clothes?! Isn’t it strange that somehow, more is never enough? Rather than happiness and fulfillment, more “stuff” often leads to frustration and dissastisfaction. Sadly, these negative emotions can seep into other parts of life…affecting relationships, work and family.
What if I could simply replace desire with gratitude?
That’s what a dear friend of ours does every day…and it’s changed his life! We’ve known Bob and his family for years. Bright, accomplished and always something nice to say, Bob has achieved enormous financial success. But that’s not what makes him happy. Bob’s joy comes from giving generously and his ongoing attitude of gratitude.
“From experience,” explains Bob, “I can say that gratitude is important to my health. In fact, I try to start my business day by asking myself who did something the day before that deserves my appreciation…and then expressing it.”
Bob believes the daily discipline may be as important to his health as physical exercise. “For certain,” he says, “it helps my day begin on the right note.”
A growing number of scientists are siding with Bob! According to recent research from the Mayo Clinic, “gratitude, when exhibited as a regular part of life, not only explains a high sense of well-being, but also can be fostered in simple ways to increase happiness and fulfillment.”
We all feel thankful at times. But gratitude--especially as it correlates to a higher sense of well-being--isn’t just an emotion, but a way of being that focuses on noticing and appreciating the good things in life, and acknowledging that the sources of goodness are frequently outside the self.
Bottom line, practicing gratitude means you’re able to be content in the moment even while pursuing long-term plans. A grateful approach enables you to be happy, despite the imperfections of life.
Having a thankful heart may lead to a lower risk of mental health problems, greater happiness (call it joy!), increased sense of fulfillment, positive relationships (a great bonus!) and even better sleep!
But the trick is putting gratitude into practice. The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living has a few tips:
1. Start your day with gratitude. Like Bob, making gratitude your first thought in the morning, you start your day on a much more positive note.
2. Be thankful for the simple things. I love this one! Throughout the day, take note of the things you often take for granted. I may be thankful for a promotion at work, but can’t recall the last time I was grateful for electricity, running water, clean clothing or a cup of coffee!
3. Look for the positive in the negative. Try to see your struggles as necessary forces that focus your energy on what’s really important.
4. Acknowledge your riches. If you’re feeling bad, count your blessings…health, a car, warm home, steady job, children and grandchildren. The list could be endless!
5. Keep a gratitude journal. As you think about the people and things you’re thankful for, reinforce your thanks by writing them down.
6. Say thank you. Express your actions in words and deeds. The whole world would be better if we all said, “thank you” more often.
Sound like too much sweetness and light? Maybe. But as the science continues to prove otherwise, I think I’ll send a thank-you note to someone special. Hmmmm. Feeling better already!
Do you remember when we didn’t talk about cancer? I sure do. As a child in the 60’s, when our next-door neighbor was stricken, my Mom told me Mrs. Palmer had the “C” word.
In the 80’s, many suffered in silence because no one dared talk about AIDS.
Fortunately, we’ve become more accepting when it comes to cancer and AIDS, but for many suffering from mental illness…the stigma still sticks.
Oh, garden-variety depression and anxiety may get a pass. Pop a Prozac and you’re good to go. But heaven help you if you have something more complicated…such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
Muffy Walker knows all about stigma. Her son was ostracized as a child because of the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Now 21, his symptoms are managed through medication and he leads a productive life.
But Muffy wanted more. In 2007, she co-founded the International Bipolar Foundation (IBF) and since then, has been a tireless advocate, working to erase the stigma of bipolar disorder.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month…the month we talk about mental illness. Muffy Walker is issuing a challenge in a campaign she calls, “Say it Forward.” She and the IBF hope we’ll all join forces to educate and inspire people to learn the facts about mental illness and break the barrier of stigma.
Let’s “Say it Forward” as often as possible during the month of May by sharing the following messages and facts:
Let’s talk about Bipolar Disorder. More knowledge leads to more clarity.
Fact: Bipolar Disorder affects 30 million people worldwide.
Let’s talk about my reality. It’ll change your perception.
Fact: Bipolar Disorder is the sixth leading cause of disability worldwide.
Say it forward so others won’t feel as alone as I did.
Fact: One in four suffer from mental illness.
Silence is not golden.
Fact: Mental illness knows no age limits, economic status, race, creed or color.
It was never a character flaw. It was always a chemistry problem.
Fact: With support and treatment, seventy to ninety percent of patients have a significant reduction in symptoms and improved quality of life.
What if we talked openly about mental illness, as we do cancer? We should.
Fact: Stereotypes and stigmas hurt everyone…including those with mental health problems, their families, friends and society as a whole.
My loved one lives with Bipolar Disorder. So now I live to tell about it.
Fact: Your story can convey to others that having a mental illness is nothing to be embarrassed about.
Think you’re scared. I was scared. Until I learned it wasn’t my fault.
Fact: Bipolar Disorder is a neurochemical brain disorder.
Muffy Walker and the IBF believe truth has the power to affect change. I want to be part of this change. Will you join me?
Together, we can fight stigma and encourage our family, friends, co-workers and neighbors to seek help when they need it.
After thinking about running a marathon for years, I finally pulled the trigger at age 45. It was 1998…the first running of the “Rock ‘n Roll Marathon. Nervously waiting for the starting gun in the nine-minute mile section, I went over my race strategy and prayed for the best.
Concentrating on the two major pieces of advice I’d received from the experts, I took it out slowly and drank plenty of water. I was told lots of water was key to finishing the 26.2-mile run without bonking.
For years, the mantra has been drummed into endurance-sports competitors: hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Swig water every chance you get—whether you’re thirsty or not.
Maybe not! Mounting research supports very different advice. Athletes are more likely to suffer severe harm by drinking too much water during competition than by drinking too little! In extreme cases, people have died after drinking too much liquid during a race.
New studies suggest that 3% dehydration levels during competition—which experts once warned against—don’t hurt performance and might actually help it. More and more, experts advocate a simple rule: During a race, drink when you’re thirsty.
In his book Waterlogged, Tim Noakes, sports medicine physician and professor at South Africa’s University of Cape Town, says the body’s instincts are an athlete’s best friend.
“If you drink to thirst, you maximize your performance,” he says. Noakes blames the sports-drink industry for encouraging athletes to drink more than they need.
Ultramarathoner Dean Karnzes says he drinks gallons of water in events like the 135-mile run across sizzling Death Valley. In last year's New York Marathon, however, temperatures were in the mid 40’s. He says he drank only once: a half cup of water at the 15-mile mark.
There’s a wonderful water aerobics class at the pool where I swim. I’ve observed class members frequently stopping to chug from their water bottles. We’ve been so inculcated with the message that we have to hydrate, even in a 45-minute gentle exercise class, people force themselves to drink.
I know. We’ve all heard the stories of dehydrated athletes needing intravenous fluids after a long race. That’s why the notion that more water is better than less still persists.
But after feeling sick and bloated following my second marathon, I have to wonder—should I have backed off on the water and Gatorade? One woman I know felt ill at the 18-mile mark of her marathon and later became delirious. She was hospitalized and diagnosed with hypoantremia. Her excessive fluid intake caused dangerously low sodium levels in her blood.
This, of course, isn’t the final word on water. But, until I hear more, listening to my body is probably the best bet.
(If you’re training for the “Rock ‘n Roll” in June? Good for you…and best of luck!)
Two women near and dear to me face a daily battle with their weight. It breaks my heart to watch as they valiantly fight their lifelong enemy…food.
Medically speaking, Sara and Michelle (not their real names) are obese. And while many label those who overeat as lazy and undisciplined, I’m convinced my friends are neither. I don’t think it’s their fault.
You see, for some of us, it’s no problem. When I’m full, I stop eating. Beyond that, it’s uncomfortable. But for some people, that feeling of satiety never comes. My friends have confided they never feel full, constantly think about food and are hungry all the time.
So I’m encouraged by news of a ray of hope for folks like Michelle and Sara. According to a new study, a single dose of nasal spray containing the hormone oxytocin may help people eat less.
These findings, reported by the Endocrine Society, confirm those in animal studies showing oxytocin reduced food intake. It sounds too good to be true! That’s why further studies are needed, but study investigators believe the hormone is a promising treatment for obesity and its health implications.
Oxytocin is widely referred to as the “love hormone,” because it’s associated with parts of the brain that control emotional, cognitive and social behaviors. The nasal spray form is available in Europe, but for now, can only be used in clinical trials in the U.S.
I found the study…involving twenty-five men...fascinating. Thirteen of the men had a healthy weight. Twelve were either overweight or obese. After fasting, they were randomly assigned either the spray with oxytocin or a placebo.
One hour after inhaling the nasal spray, the men had breakfast, which they chose from the menu. Each meal came with double portions. The researchers then counted how many calories each man ate.
Then men returned at a later date and the experiment was repeated…with each man receiving the opposite treatment. On average, the men who took the nasal spray ate 122 fewer calories and nine grams less fat. Even more encouraging, the oxytocin spray appeared to increase the use of body fat as a fuel for energy.
For decades, medical scientists have tried diets, pills and shots… in search of the “magic bullet” that will end obesity for good. Is there “magic” in oxytocin Probably not. But if it could develop into an effective weapon in the battle against weight, perhaps my friends and millions like them could eventually win the war against weight.
Since I can remember, a high-fat diet has been a big, fat no-no.
For years, that message has been firmly ingrained in the minds of every American…touted by doctors, lawmakers and food suppliers. From grocery stores to vending machines, we’ve been told low fat (or no fat) is the way to go.
Despite the decades-long fight against fat in food, obesity rates and health complications, including heart disease, continue to rise. After all this time, a growing number of scientists, doctors and dietitians are not only questioning the low-fat doctrine, they now admit the theory that consuming fat causes heart disease is based on bad science.
Are you kidding me?! All those years of sacrificing rich, whole milk and creamy yogurt for their watery, tasteless fat-free substitutes was for naught?
The findings come from the recent publication of a major analysis by a team of British and U.S. researchers. The report looked at previous studies on the topic and concluded there’s no significant difference in death rates in people who ate less saturated fat than those who didn’t.
Not only that, according to the analysis, while reducing fat intake did result in lower total blood cholesterol levels, it did not correlate with any discernible health benefit. (Check it out in “Open Heart,” a publication of the British Medical Journal)
Apparently, the original evidence for the dietary fat/heart disease connection was shaky, but once published, took on a life of its own, causing lawmakers and medical professionals to act without good, scientific validation including:
- No randomized, controlled trials
- Statistically insignificant study results
How could this happen?
It seems a number of studies done in recent years have found the link between dietary fat, weight and heart disease is exaggerated. And get this - researchers now say being slightly overweight isn’t harmful and might even be beneficial.(What next? Twinkies found to be a superfood?!)
If these studies and new analysis hold up, the implications for the medical system could be huge. How will doctors advise their patients? Companies could lose billions in sale of low fat fare. Government dietary guidelines would need a major makeover.
But before you run to the store for a quart of Haagen Das, there’s no consensus yet, as the debate rages.
Some not only question the validity of the new findings, they wonder how (or even whether!) to inform the public about them. Some say the possible paradigm shift would cause mass confusion. Others say (and I agree) medical science should be concerned with facts first - not with an overly simple message- when the truth is complex and nuanced.
What to do? For now, I’ll continue to eat plenty of the “good” fats found in nuts, avocadoes and fish. But I’m done with see-through skim milk, chewy non-fat cottage cheese and eggs without yolks. For now, I’m eating food the way God made it…until I know more.
Prunes. The word alone can still make me smile.
As kids, Mom would fix stewed prunes for my sister, brother and me whenever we had trouble, well….going! For years, I actually thought prunes were medicine…like aspirin or cough syrup!
By junior high, I knew better, but still laughed hysterically with my friends while singing,
“Prunes, prunes, the musical fruit. The more you eat, the more you toot. The more you toot, the better you feel. So let’s have prunes at every meal.” (rolling on the floor laughing!)
What else could you expect from a bunch of pre-adolescent goof balls who believed bodily functions were the source of all humor?!
The poor prune’s reputation as a laxative may be unfortunate because it overshadows the fact that prunes are not only sweet and tasty…they’re also a rich source of nutrients!
Did you know just one prune contains up to five percent of the recommended daily intake of many essential minerals and vitamins…in addition to its legendary dietary fiber?
Not a fan of prunes? You’re not alone. In fact, women ages 25 to 54 react so negatively to the idea of prunes, the California Prune Board pressured the FDA to change their name to the more appealing “dried plums” (which they technically are!)
And it worked! Sales of the super-healthy purple fruit have hit new heights! But prunes (or shall we call them dried plums?) are proving to be far more than a digestion remedy.
Because they contain high levels of phytonutrients called phenols, prunes can protect the brain from free radical damage and can help prevent chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Prunes and plums help prevent Type 2 diabetes and obesity. They’re high in the soluble fiber that help keep blood sugar levels stable.
The soluble fiber in prunes also helps lower cholesterol, improves bone health and are a good source of vitamin K and beta carotene…nutrients that can actually make you happier! So you see, my childhood song is true!...the “more you eat, the better you feel!”
Still, when it comes to constipation, the prune is a rock star…more effective than psyllium, according to recent studies. Only 30 calories, the soluble fiber in prunes also makes you fill up faster.
So for a whole bunch of reasons, I snack on prunes, chop them up in salads and oatmeal and include them in recipes…like this de-LISH dish from my friend, Susan Haber. This one’s SO good, I make it for company!
Susan’s Chicken Marbella
(adapted from the “Silver Palate” Cookbook)
½ cup olive oil
½ cup red wine vinegar
1 cup pitted prunes
½ cup pitted Spanish green olives
½ cup capers with a bit of juice
6 bay leaves
1 head of garlic, peeled and finely pureed
¼ cup dried oregano
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 chickens (2 1/2 pounds each), quartered
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup dry, white wine
¼ cup fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley or fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1. Combine olive oil, vinegar, prunes, olives, capers and juice, bay leaves, garlic, oregano and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the chicken and stir to coat. Cover bowl and refrigerate overnight.
2. Preheat oven to 350.
3. Arrange chicken in a single layer in one or two large, shallow baking pans and spoon marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle chicken pieces with brown sugar and pour white wine around them.
4. Bake, basting frequently with pan juices, until thigh pieces yield clear yellow (rather than pink) juice when pricked with a fork, 50 min. to 1 hour.
5.With a slotted spoon, transfer chicken, prunes, olives and capers to a serving platter. Moisten with a few spoonfuls of the pan juices and sprinkle generously with parsley or cilantro. Pass the remaining pan juices in a sauceboat.
Soooooo good! Enjoy!
Nagging pain in my right shoulder had me out of the pool much of last fall. Gratefully, I’m now back in the water and feeling much better. I owe it all to good chiropractic care, icing, stretching exercises and tumeric. It’s true! At the recommendation of my chiropractor, Dr. Matt Goene, DC, rather than OTC anti-inflammatory medication, I took advantage of the natural anti-inflammatory found in the tangy spice often found in Indian cuisine.
Within a week of popping a 600 mg tumeric capsule a day, I had less pain and got back in the pool, slowly regaining the strength I’d lost during my injury.
With a treatment so simple-- so natural, I began searching for other do-it-yourself remedies that might come in handy. My research turned up hundreds of natural cures and pain relievers. Here are some of my faves!
Did you know blueberry water is good for urinary tract infections? Just like cranberries, blueberries contain substances that prevent bacteria from sticking to your bladder. To ward off UTIs, combine one part unsweetened blueberry juices with two part water and sip daily.
For those pesky hot flashes, try deep breathing. It really works! When you’re in the throes of a hot flash, deep breathing can calm your nervous system quickly. Take a deep breath in for a count of four. Breathe out slowly and fully for a count of four. Repeat four more times in succession.
Dry, cracked skin? Use Epsom salts! Just smooth your elbows and heels with a paste made from ½ cup Epsom salt and ½ cup water. Exfoliate by gently massaging into rough areas, then rinse with water. (For this queen of dry skin, it sure beats costly medicated creams!)
For colds, gargle with salt and green tea. For pimples dab a bit of honey on the blemish. It works as a natural antiseptic to stop the growth of bacteria that can cause breakouts. If you struggle with insomnia, try sprinkling a ¼ tsp. of nutmeg into warm milk and sip before going to sleep. The common spice is also a mild sedative.
I was amazed to learn that olives are good for nausea. They contain tannin…chemicals that help slow the excessive production of saliva (one of the first symptoms of motion sickness.) I haven’t tried this one yet, but will pop a few olives the next time I feel woozy!
A quick stroll is great for a brain jolt! When you’re feeling mentally tired, take a brisk, five-minute walk. Bad breath? No worries. To battle halitosis and whiten teeth, combine a cup of water with 1tsp baking soda, swish and spit! Baking soda help fight smelly bacteria and combats dry mouth.
Vinegar is good for toenail fungus, yoga improves libido, zinc-rich foods promote healthy hair growth. The list goes on!
So before investing in one of those pricey hair growth products, try popping a handful of zinc-packed pumpkin seeds, pecans or cashews for longer locks. (Could that have been Rapunzel’s secret?
(Sources: A lengthy list of doctors, naturopaths, dentists, nurse practitioners and authors found in the May issue of “Woman’s Day” Magazine.)
The Salvation Army’s annual Women of Dedication Luncheon turns 50 in April…and I’d like to personally invite you to the party!
Co-Chair, Connie Conard and I promise you’ll have a great time while supporting the many vital programs of the Salvation Army in our community.
It would be a joy to have you join us Tuesday, April 7 at the beautiful Hilton Bayfront Resort for a festive, fun-filled and inspirational event called “50 and Fabulous!” as we honor the 2015 class of 15 truly fabulous women who consistently dedicate their time, talent and resources to help people in need.
We’ll also take a trip down memory lane as we celebrate the hundreds of fabulous Women of Dedication who have been making a difference in our community for 50 years.
Back in 1965, The Salvation Army became the first San Diego non-profit organization to publically honor extraordinary local women…shining a light on their selfless service to others. Women of Dedication (WOD) is now the largest fundraiser of the year for The Salvation Army.
Please consider joining us April 7. You can start early (10:30 am) and shop till you drop at our 15 amazing boutiques. If you feel lucky, buy some tickets for our fabulous Opportunity Drawing packages (one of which contains an exciting “LA Experience…” including tickets to the finals of “American Idol” in Los Angeles!) Then enjoy a lovely lunch and entertainment by San Diego’s masterful Master Chorale!
ABC 10’s Kimberly Hunt has graciously agreed to emcee the event and her personable, sportscaster husband, Billy Ray Smith will don his auctioneer hat…encouraging you to bid on tickets to “Dancing With The Stars,” the “Bill Walton Experience” and a fabulous fur!
Money raised will go to support the new Women’s Emergency Shelter at the SA’s Door of Hope.
It has been such a blessing to work closely with the dedicated soldiers of The Salvation Army this past year and meet some of the amazing men and women who have experienced changed lives through the Army’s many effective programs.
Their slogan is “Doing the Most Good,” and I’ve seen firsthand how the SA does the “most good” with every dollar they receive.
And what a treat to be part of a vibrant committee of hard working, caring, dedicated, Godly and fun-loving women.
Join us, if you can…and bring a friend. You’ll have a great time while doing the most good.
A week’s stay at the Golden Door had been on my “bucket list” since moving to San Diego in the early ‘80’s. But I couldn’t justify the cost…so assumed I’d probably never experience the uber-luxury spa nestled in the hills of Escondido.
One day, several years ago - and quite out of the blue - I got a call from the program director at the Golden Door! She wanted to know if I’d consider being a guest speaker sometime. Consider it done!!
After excitedly accepting her unexpected invitation, I was informed there would be no speaker fee. My “payment,” she said, would be a stay at the Golden Door the week I was scheduled to speak.
For a moment, this speaker was speechless!
Regaining my composure, we chose a week and three months later, I found myself in a kind of heaven on earth—spending my days getting massages and facials - taking vigorous mountain hikes and restorative yoga classes - eating delicious farm-to-table cuisine - sleeping like a baby in my cozy casita.
And yes, I also gave three presentations that week… to some of the most fascinating women I’d ever met. I still remember every detail.
Now under new ownership, the Golden Door is undergoing somewhat of a makeover…both physical and philosophical. But don’t worry! The spa treatments, fitness classes, and healthy cuisine remain in place at the world-famous spa.
Peace, tranquility and refreshment for the soul are still a mainstay. Golden Door founder, Deborah Szekely, set the standard for spas worldwide - creating the perfect venue for guests to achieve health, wellbeing and refreshment for the soul.
But times are changing and the Golden Door remains cutting edge. “In addition to refreshing the body and spirit,” says Golden Door General Manager, Kathy Van Ness, “wouldn’t it be nice to get your brain refreshed?!”
I talked with Kathy on a recent visit to the “Door” as a guest for their first Friday night speakers’ series featuring world-renowned artist and photographer, Don Barber.
“We’re all bombarded with data about exercise, hormones and the latest diet,” Kathy explained. “How about sharing some intellectual conversation?”
So, after filling our bodies with a culinary feast of tender Dover sole and roasted vegetables on a bed of seasoned brown rice and quinoa, we filled our minds with a compelling presentation and breathtaking photos by Don Barber. An informative interview was followed by a lively Q & A session with Barber.
Artists, composers, authors…even Hollywood actress, Jamie Lee Curtis…all presenters for the Golden Door’s Friday night speaker series. What I wouldn’t give to fill my mind with the wisdom of author, Gail Sheehy. Famous for her knowledge of the stages of life, Sheehy has also been a guest speaker.
Kathy put it this way, “If you could go to dinner with Rembrandt, wouldn’t you want to ask him a question?”
And wouldn’t that be a lot more interesting than another lecture on menopause? I’m just saying…..