Omegas are the new Carrots

There’s a good reason for the common belief that carrots are good for your eyes. Carotenoids, the pigments that give carrots their orange hue, accumulate in the eyes, where they protect against UV light. But, there’s a new kid on the block when it comes to supporting healthy vision – omega-3 fatty acids.

Just ask Dr. John Paul SanGiovanni, an accomplished eye health researcher at the National Institutes of Health. He was recently interviewed about omega-3s and their role in supporting eye health, and to celebrate Healthy Vision Month, we’re sharing some of his insights.

Omega-3s and Your Eyes

The omega-3s DHA and EPA are both important for eye health, specifically, the health of the retina. You can thank your retinas for translating light into visual images that allow you to see. (That’s where all those rods and cones you studied in high school live.)

DHA’s main job is structural: it helps maintain healthy cell membranes. EPA’s role is functional: it helps cells communicate with each other. EPA is also used to make important antioxidants. That’s critical, because the delicate retina is particularly prone to free radical damage.

According to Dr. SanGiovanni, DHA is highly concentrated in the retina, just like carotenoids. In fact, there is more DHA in the retina than any other tissue of the body! That gives us a good indication of how important DHA is to eye health.

Eat More Omega-3s, See Better

Dr. SanGiovanni points to studies going back over twenty years showing that people with higher levels of DHA enjoy better vision. Later research, which looked at intake (in other words, how much DHA and EPA you consume) rather than status (in other words, the level of these fats measured in your blood) has found over and over again that the more rich in EPA and DHA that food you eat is, the more likely you are to have healthy vision.

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Omega-3s are essential fatty acids, which means your body needs them but does not make them on its own. As a result, you need them to get them from your diet or from supplements.

Yet just as most people don’t consume enough fruits and vegetables daily, they’re also lacking in omega-3 fatty acids. In fact, according to a recent study, 90 percent of Americans do not get enough omega-3s in their diet.

How to Get More Omega-3s

Most people know EPA and DHA are abundant in fatty fish such as salmon, cod, and mackerel, and that’s a good place to start. But you can also get them from algae, which is not only vegetarian, but also a sustainable resource.

The Juice Plus+ Omega Blend capsules contain omega-3s derived from algae, rounded out with a broad array of other omega fatty acids — 3, 5, 6, 7 and 9 — from plant-based sources such as pomegranate seeds, sea buckthorn berries, raspberry seeds, tomato seeds and safflower seeds. Just like the other Juice Plus+ Blends, the Omega Blend bridges the gap between what you should eat, and what you do eat, every day.

What’s your favorite way to get enough omega-3s? Share in the comments below!

Road Trip Yahoo!!!

In an ideal world, we would all take plenty of time to plan, purchase, and prepare a cornucopia of healthy snacks any time we took the family on a road trip. But life doesn’t always cooperate with our lofty intentions. And so, unless you are a preternaturally organized person, you will inevitably find yourself mid-road trip at a convenience store, looking for a healthy snack for yourself, your partner, or your kids. What are your best options?

Most convenience stores do have some healthy offerings; the main challenge is avoiding all the less-than-healthy temptations, especially if you’ve got a kid in tow. I know I need to keep my five-year-old’s attention away from the candy aisle whenever we go into one of these places.

Going in with a plan can help, whether you’re negotiating with your child or your inner child. Before you open the store door, decide what kinds of foods you’re going to look for. You could even try to make it a game or a treasure hunt.

Low-Hanging Fruit:
As soon as you enter the store, check the counter for fresh fruit. Are there apples or bananas? Don’t worry about the fact that the fruit is wildly overpriced compared to what you’d pay in a grocery store. The mission right now is not to save a few bucks.

Mix and Match:
Is there a refrigerated area with pre-cut fruit or veggies? These are sometimes packaged in trays with hummus, cheese, nuts, or a hard-boiled egg. Oftentimes you can buy these items separately and combine them until you’ve created a pretty healthy meal.

Go Nuts.
A bag of nuts is always a good snack option. Nuts have protein and healthy fats, and they provide the satisfying crunch you might get from chips. Raw nuts are preferable to roasted, because roasting can damage the healthy fats and create a harmful substance called acrylamide. But if roasted nuts are your only option, they’re still better than almost everything else you’ll find in a convenience store!

It’s All Greek.
If you’re lucky, you’ll find some plain Greek yogurt, which is high in protein, in the dairy section. The plain part is important, because conventional single-serving yogurts have almost as much sugar as a 12-ounce soda! I carry a little bottle of liquid stevia (a zero-calorie, low-glycemic natural sweetener) in my purse at all times so I can sweeten just about anything without adding any sugar. My daughter loves the taste.

Drink It Up.
Water’s always a good option, and if you drink  Plant milk, it’s almost always available. Plant Milk is a good source of calcium and vitamin D, and it has some protein, too. Bottled tea or coffee might seem like a good idea if you also need a little energy boost, but it’s almost always heavily sweetened, so check the label. You’re better off getting a cup of joe that’s been brewed in the store so you can control how much, if any, sugar you put into it.

What’s your go-to healthy(ish) convenience store snack?

July 80/20 Meal Plan

Don’t tackle a healthy diet all at once. Start by replacing empty calories with whole food options. Whole foods include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains – foods that are as close to their natural form as possible. It won’t be long before you realize just how good “good food” feels. Before you know it, your cravings will change from greasy burgers and fries to healthful nutrition.

In this meal plan you will find multiple options for “real” food and will feel satiated and satisfied  beyond what you thought possible.  You will notice the meals are easy, take very little time and are duplicated throughout the week, this is to create a simplistic approach to a weekly schedule to ensure you can easily stick to a lifestyle of delicious commitment.

All of these meals have been picky kid and hurried husband tested with the busy life in mind. Having 7 starving people look at my with forks and knives in hand, I know I have to be quick to prepare and ready to serve my army favorites so they walk away fat and happy without the feeling of slow and sluggish.

Here are some simple changes you can make for a healthier diet:

  • Have fruit for breakfast.
  • Clean your fridge and pantry. Get rid of processed food in the process.
  • Buy snacks from the produce section of the grocery store.
  • Say no to an unhealthy food temptation.
  • Consume smaller portions, more frequently. Try eating twice as often and half as much.
  • Eat a food with no nutrition facts label – whole food.
  • Reread this post that really guides you through the process of meal planning.

Truly Raw Joy, Jackie

July 2017 SOSRAW MEAL PLAN

Eat Fruits and Vegetables, Be Happy?

New Study Links Fruit and Vegetable Consumption With Happiness

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There’s a certain jolt of joy I get from biting into a perfectly ripe peach from my local farmers’ market or slicing into a luscious vine-ripened tomato from my garden. I always thought this was a temporary high — one that disappeared as soon as the juice was dried from my sticky fingers. But according to a new study, how many fruits and vegetables we eat daily may measurably impact how happy we feel.

Researchers from New Zealand recently published a study in the British Journal of Health Psychology which observes a link between eating more fruit and vegetables and feeling happier and more engaged in life.
The study followed 405 university students for a 13-day period during which they kept food diaries and filled out questionnaires designed to measure creativity, curiosity, and other aspects of psychological health. Subjects rated statements such as “Today I was engaged and interested in my daily activities” on a seven-point scale from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree.”

The results? People who ate more fruits and vegetables reported higher levels of curiosity, creativity, and other positive emotions. They also felt more engagement, meaning, and purpose in their lives. “These findings suggest that fruit and vegetable intake is related to other aspects of human flourishing, beyond just feeling happy,” explains University of Otago psychologist Tamlin Conner.

Importantly, the results were not only applicable across people, but also across time. In other words, on days when participants ate more fruits and vegetables, they felt better than on the days when they skimped. That’s some pretty immediate feedback from the body!

While it’s possible that feeling more positive causes people to eat better rather than the other way around, researchers suggest the micronutrients in produce, particularly vitamin C, might be at work. Vitamin C helps the body make dopamine, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in motivation and engagement. Another factor could be that eating fruits and vegetables helps reduce inflammation, which may improve mood.

This is just another reason why growing your own produce makes sense. When it’s steps from your door, there’s no reason not to include healthy food in all your meals. I know from experience that gardening isn’t always easy, but there is something that can make it easier. Tower Garden!
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Tower Garden is a highly efficient aeroponic growing system that allows you to grow a lot of produce in a little space. It has quite a few advantages over traditional gardening. First, it grows produce in about half the time of soil-based agriculture. Second, it uses just a fraction of the water and soil, so it’s an ecological alternative.

Third, its compact design fits in just about any sunny spot outdoors (think patios, rooftops, terraces, balconies, decks, or porches), and assembly is easy. Fourth, there’s no weeding, tilling, kneeling, or getting dirty. Fifth, because it’s designed to last a lifetime, Tower Garden is actually a better long-term value than store-bought produce. And with this new research, who knows? It could even make you and your loved ones happier.

Have you ever thought about the relationship between your diet and your mood? Have you noticed a happiness lift from eating more fruits and vegetables? Share your experiences in the comments below.

To eat the seed? To not eat the seed? What the heck, just eat it!

 

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Ever wondered what to do with the seed once the avocado is eaten? There are some amazing, (and surprising) benefits to this (great little ball of slipperiness) I’m telling ya’ll, that sucker is slippery.

I remember when I let my now 11 year old cut and pit, at 8, his first avocados and that thing flew across the counter, bounced on the floor and we couldn’t find it for weeks. Then, of course, with a couple of little ones crawling around, it was destined for rediscovery.

Funny stories of these little wonders of God’s creation, but we’ll talk about them gems another time!!

Here are, In list form, uses for “THEM GEMS”

  1. Indelible Ink9772730_f260

Crush the avocado pit gently using a hammer or brick.

The milky liquid that comes out will turn red or black when exposed to the air.

Using a matchstick or thin paintbrush, experiment by dipping it into the liquid and writing or painting on a sheet of paper.

photo credit: Calsidyrose via photo pin cc

 

  1. Children’s Lesson about Germination

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Children love getting their hands dirty and learning through practical activities.

Sprouting an avocado pit is a great homeschool or classroom project to learn about germination. The process is simple:

– Fill a small jar with water

– Wash the seed

– Insert four tooth picks into the seed

– Suspend the seed over the jar so it touches the water

– Place in a sunny area and wait around 6 weeks for it to sprout

 

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Once you see how easy it is to sprout avocado pits, you’ll want to try with other kitchen scraps. Pineapple heads, lentils, peanuts, ginger root… your leftovers can be brought back to life. A great frugal way to garden, and an educational activity for kids.

Don’t Throw It, Grow It!: 68 windowsill plants from kitchen scraps

– Features 68 different windowsill plants that are grown from kitchen scraps

– Easy to follow instructions with handy index and illustrations

– Includes Latin & common plant names, method and rate of growth, light requirements and taste notes.

 

3 AND 4 SAUCES AND SMOOTHIES

– Dry and grate an avocado seed to make a traditional North Mexican enchilada sauce taste really authentic.

– If drinks are more your thing, blend the pit into a smoothie or juice to benefit from all the nutrients. Use half a pit for every 2 person serving. My favorite combinations are avocado flesh and pit, cucumber and green apple. I also like mango, pineapple and ginger.

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Pitters, slicers and scoopers for you

As you can imagine from reading this page, I eat plenty of avocados! Up until recently, I relied on a sharp knife and good luck to remove the pit. But getting the pit out of a soft, slippery fruit is dangerous, messy and time consuming.

I found out about these great tools and haven’t looked back. They pit, slice, scoop and mash easily, and leave you without a mess. Best of all, these products are pretty low cost so it’s not like you’re spending a lot of cash on a one-use item. I’ve compiled my favourites for you: 

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Avocados are one of the tastiest foods ever, but pitting and slicing them can be a messy and slippery process. Not anymore with the modern range of avocado slicers out there.

Avocado seed debate

More on this topic later. But tell me, do you leave the pit in your guacamole, and does it keep it from going brown?

So, what do you think?

Does putting an avocado seed in the guacamole work?

J

 

Make health your hobby.

My family and I have been eating primarily an 80% raw food lifestyle for 10 years. I have seen and felt some amazing changes in both my body and my 5 children. Irregular behaviors have diminished, eyes are clearer, less brain fog, more mental clarity and focus.

As a homeschooling mamma of 4 I have to be at the top of my game both mentally and physically. Let me tell you, it could get rather challenging to keep up with life in my household. Thank goodness for fruits, vegetables and clean, organic NON GMO vitamins.

How many times have you passed the stores isles that are loaded with vitamins for kids and just wonder…. which one, how many, are they good, can I trust the ingredients? Spare yourself the mental anguish of pulling out your hair in disgust, I’ve already searched for you and the only supplements that I would EVER put in my family’s body are Juice Plus, check out this Children’s Health Study and see for yourself.

If I didn’t use them myself I wouldn’t share however, I’m living the changes and boy is it nice. No more headaches or aggressive behaviors in my children, more energy without the CAFFEINE IV. I run circles around my kids, now they have to catch up with me. It’s great!

Give it 90 days and tell me you don’t see and feel a difference!

Make Health your Hobby!