Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Fireside Chat

Sometimes the stars are in alignment.  It was one of those days just 48 hours ago.  I reached into my pocket and captured the sun setting on a picture-perfect day at Fireside Winery near our Iowa home.  The local grapes aren't all that thrive in our home state.  It's also the place where dreams are cultivated, even for those like me who are now in the third quarter of their lives.  Some may say, "give up, don't you see the sun setting?"

My wife never gave up on me.  Others suspected that someone like me who was raised in the Valley of the Sun might not adapt to life in the Midwest.  It's been five years since the transplant from the West Coast and I'm feeling better than ever.  Iowa is the perfect place for a writer to grow grapes and harvest bumper crops.  This is my field of dreams.  I'm looking forward to sharing my 2017 vintage on May 1.  We can have a fireside chat.  I hope you like the flavor.  Have a great day.

Monday, February 20, 2017

3 Keys to Healthy Living

Stress can kill you.  You may be doing things unknowingly that may cause future health problems.  The good news is that you hold the keys to open the doors to healthy living.  Here goes:
  1. Sleep 8 hours a day.  If you're not doing this consistently, ask yourself why not.  Is it because you think you have too much to do and you need to cheat your sleep time?  Or you believe you don't need that much time?  In my opinion, your body may be operating at reduced efficiency when you are sleep deprived so it does take longer to get things done.  Sleep more and watch your mental alertness soar.  Yes, the work will get done without having to rob your sleep time.
  2. Eat like a caveman.  Once you cut out all the processed foods and eat the way your ancestors ate – a diet rich in fruits, veggies, nuts, beans and seeds, you won't need to worry about calling in sick.  My immune system is stronger than ever and I can't even remember the last time I needed a sick day.  I attribute this to healthy eating.
  3. Minimize stressful situations.  This includes living in debt, surrounding yourself with negative people and failing to use your talents to help others.  Did the last one surprise you?  I believe it's true that not doing something can add stress to your life.  If you have a gift that you were born to use and you're not using it, you will feel guilty and this will add stress.  
You already possess these keys to healthy living.  It's your choice to use them or lose them.  I'm cheering for you to be healthy.  Have a great day.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Financial Stress Busters

High credit card debt is like mountain climbing when you're afraid of heights.  If you're seeking serenity, it's hard to find when your debt is overwhelming you.  Here are three financial stress busters to help you from falling over a cliff:

  1. Write everything down.  Track every penny of your spending for 30 days.  You're searching for leaks in your financial bucket.  Daily tracking will help you increase your awareness about where your money goes.  Plug the leaks and your financial bucket will increase.
  2. Use cash envelopes for your purchases.  I really like this one.  No money in the envelopes means no more spending until you replenish your funds.
  3. Make a plan.  Add target dates to your dream purchases and make sure you don't ever borrow money in advance.  If you come up short on your savings, defer the dream until you have all the funds you need to pay cash.
The only mountain climbing I do now is on nature hikes.  My wife and I are using one credit card provided the funds are already in the bank so we can immediately make a payment for the full amount when the bill arrives.  Our promise to each other is to stop using the card the day we have to pay interest.  We are now rewarded with an annual rewards check and there is no annual fee attached.  The funds will be placed in an envelope marked "entertainment."  Life doesn't get any better.  Have a great day.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Can You Do It Better?

Today is a new day.  Is it going to be any better than yesterday?  I have a simple idea to help you.  Take a few minutes to mull over the major highlights including your interactions with others.  Don't beat yourself up – the day is over.  You can't change the outcome.  Give yourself a pep talk after thinking of ways you could have done something better and try again today.  You get bonus points for going back to the people in your life that you need to apologize to for your own mistakes.  Yes, you can do it better and the people around you are aware of that.  If you're not sure, just ask them.  Have a great day.

Friday, February 17, 2017

A Few of My Favorite Recipes

Pregnancy has its privileges.  Onlookers are offering support.  Recently I asked readers to please share their favorite recipes that are consistent with my caveman food lifestyle for publication in my next book on Labor Day.  I'm sharing three today on this blog for you to try.  Let me know what you think.

Margie's Mango Salsa – the Perfect Caveman Appetizer

2 Mangos
1/4 Red Onion
1 to 2 Serrano Peppers
1 to 2 Lemons - squeeze as much as you want
1 Cucumber
2 Tomatoes
1 Avocado (optional)

Dice all ingredients.  Margie suggests dicing them as small as possible.  Squeeze in lemon juice and season with salt (I prefer no-salt seasoning).

This is good with grilled fish or chicken.  Also good with tortilla chips.

Teresa's Coconut Flour Banana Bread

1 pinch salt (I use no-salt seasoning as a substitute)
4 eggs
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 bananas, mashed (make sure they are on the dark side for best flavor)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup pecans (or walnuts)

Whisk the dry ingredients first, then stir wet ingredients until smooth.
Stir in your choice of nuts
Put in a greased loaf pan
Bake at 350º for 50-75 minutes.  Cover with foil after 50 minutes.
Cool on a rack completely before eating for optimum texture and flavor.

Michael's Caveman Signature Smoothie

With the exception of the avocado and the orange, I like to keep my fruits frozen and I find the recipe works best in a high speed blender.  My personal preference is a Vitamix.  I tried the Nutribullet but find the Chia seeds don't break down properly and the texture is isn't as fine as I prefer.  I've been experimenting with this recipe for over a year and notice a difference if just one ingredient is missing.  The multi-step process is necessary in order to keep the blender from freezing up.  This makes 4-5 servings.

1 cup of spinach
1 stalk of celery
1/2 avocado
3 cups of cold water
1 orange
1 banana (frozen works best to keep smoothie cold)
1 tablespoon of organic blue agave
1 tablespoon of Chia Seed
1 tablespoon of Flaxseed
1/2 cup frozen pineapple
1/2 cup frozen strawberries
1 cup frozen blueberries
1/4 cup mixed berries (I like blackberries and raspberries)

Start with spinach, celery, avocado and water.  Mix at high speed.  While blending, add orange, banana, agave, Chia seed and Flax seed.  Turn off and add frozen fruits.  Mix at high speed until well blended.

You can find these and other recipes in my next book, scheduled for release on May 1, 2017.  If you're interested in picking up a copy, bookmark this page and come back on delivery date.  All proceeds will be donated to Children's Miracle Network.  Have a great day.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Writer Finds New Meaning For Labor Day

When I began telling friends and family members I was pregnant with another book, some took it literally and wanted to know more about the baby.  There's no baby.  It's a book and it's going to be birthed on... drum roll, wait for it – Labor Day (Mexico celebrates Labor Day on May 1).    My life is stranger than fiction.  Someone is writing the script and it's not me.  Whoever it is, they have a great sense of humor.  I'm not laughing.  That doesn't happen when you're in your third trimester of writing and your graphic artist isn't around to help with the sonogram of the front cover because her family is sick.   That's okay.  No need to panic.  There are seventy-four days to go until this baby is delivered at Children's hospital.

The questions are looming about what this baby is all about.  The size and weight are still unknown but I can share my hopes for the wee one.  It's all about being healthy.   My desire for the next generation that follows us is that cancer is cured, diabetes is curbed and all other food-related diseases are eliminated.  Change like this is not easy.  All I can say is I hope the delivery is smooth on May 1.  Please come back and visit my new baby.  Have a great day.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

3 Danger Signs of Poor Food Choices

Food danger signs are like road hazard signs warning of trouble ahead.  I was driving too fast to notice the red flags or make a pit stop for a physical.  The quickest way to spot danger is to look at your waist.  That bulge in the middle is where most of the wrong foods are stored because the body doesn't know what to do.  Fruits, veggies, nuts, beans and seeds never show up around your waist because they are easily converted into energy.

Your lipid panel readings serve as road signs.  Are they telling you danger is ahead or that you're going in the right direction?  Request this test when you schedule your next physical.  Poor food choices influence your good and bad cholesterol.  If your readings are in the danger zone,  don't fret.  You have time to make corrections.

The road sign that got my attention was my blood pressure reading.  In my opinion, many people ignore this road sign because they falsely believe their prescription pills will solve the problem and keep them out of trouble.  These pills should not be considered permission slips to keep eating foods that may eventually play a role in diabetes, cancer, heart attacks, or strokes.  Please pay attention to all the danger signs and use caution when your body flashes a red or yellow light on your dashboard.  Have a great day.