Just a few Tips to Stay in Shape during the Holidays

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Tips to Stay in Shape
 During the Holidays
We can’t avoid it any longer, the Holiday Season is amongst us. I usually don’t gain that much during the winter months, but I’m also not into to taking chances. Here are some of my tricks to keep it tight through the New Year.
Keep moving 
When it gets cold outside, you tend to reach for that snooze button. Make sure to maintain and, dare I say it,  increase your activity level during the colder months to ward away access pounds and compensate for those holiday treats. 
I enjoy Bikram Yoga during the Holiday seasons. You can burn anywhere from 500-1000 calories in a single 90 minute class. 
Eat those Greens
Sometimes salads aren’t so appetizing when its cold outside. If you can’t force yourself to opt for the spinach salad make sure to get your vegetables another way. By consuming fruit smoothies, juicing, roasting sweet potatoes and squash, hearty soups, and healthy vegetable casseroles can help keep you on track . 
JUST SAY NO 
to
Holiday Themed Specialty Drinks
 Tis the season for Pumpkin Spiced Lattes, Gingerbread soy chai tea lattes, white chocolate hot chocolate that usually pack upwards of 400-1000 calories into one drink. Why indulge in empty calories when it’s pumpkin pie season? Order a zero-calorie tea instead, oolong and green tea are proven to help with weight loss, and who doesn’t need help with weight loss? 
Say No to Comfy
 This is the season for comfy sweaters, baggy and stretchy clothes that make you lose site of your body underneath. Try to go for more fitted attire, it will encourage less lounging around, as well as more awareness to whats going in your stomach. 
Eat before you Eat
Holiday party’s, pumpkin pies, Christmas cookies, traditional holiday meals are not avoidable, you might not be able to steer clear of all the yummy treats. Eating before you head to your get-together, snacking on whole grains and high fiber fruits and vegetables will fill you up and help prevent overindulging.
In the end you are going to eat those last 3 cookies, you are going to have at least one piece of pumpkin pie, and you are going to overindulge at Thanksgiving. The trick is to be aware of what you are putting in your body, and adjust your workout accordingly. 
There is no reason to ruin the holiday season with silly diets and antics, just be mindful of what you eat, and enjoy the best time of the year. 
Blessings My Friends
Mary  
  
  
   

All About Multivitamins & Herbal Supplements

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Herbal Supplements & Multivitamins
I’ve always had a hard time remembering what supplements I need to  take and which I need to avoid. While going up I remember my mother stuffing B12, Iron, and Calcium pills down my throat. I happily took them without questioning her intent. I wish my Mother was around on a daily bases to explain what my 30 year old body needs now.
A few months ago I purchased a multivitamins what was said to have the necessary daily vitamins for an active woman. I actually remembered to take this vitamin on a daily bases and my urine turned neon green. Ummm WHAT?? I stopped taking that Multivitamin right away, and ever since then I’ve been trying to figure out what my body really needs. 

Why should I take Vitamins?
Vitamins are substances our bodies cannot make, therefore they must be obtained through diet.  
Vitamins key functions:
  • Vitamin C builds immunity and connective tissue
  • Vitamin A enhances immunity and helps growth
  • B-vitamins are essential for energy
  • Vitamin D strengthens bones

A balanced diet should provide our complete vitamin quota, many nutritionists argue that modern life often leaves us depleted. High-speed lifestyles leave many people eating pre-made meals and grabbing a coffee, which is not a recipe for nutritional balance. 

I get it, you should take vitamins if you are not maintaining a balanced diet. I’m pretty strict about what goes into my body, and I know I do not get enough animal protein. Take a good look at your diet, is there something you know you over or under indulge? 

 Benefits of taking a multivitamins
  • Enhanced energy level and physical response to stress
  • Improve memory and concentration
  • Maintain a healthy heart and bones
  • Improve immune system response 
You May Need a Multivitamin if you are:
  • Stressed
  • Depressed
  • Vegetarian
  • Short on sleep
  • Breast-feeding
  • Lactose intolerant
  • Eating unbalanced meals
  • Pregnant or planning to be
  • Consuming tobacco or alcohol
  • Ill or have medial conditions

How to Select a Multivitamin
Leading experts advise all American adults to take a daily multivitamin/mineral supplement. It is difficult for many people to get all the necessary nutrients from food alone, but there are so many supplements on the market that it can be hard to decide which supplement to take.
What to look for in a multivitamin: 
100% of the Daily Value (DV) for:
 Vitamin A
B-1 (Thiamin)
B-2 (Riboflavin
B-6, B-12
Vitamin C
Chromium
Vitamin D
Vitamin E
Folic Acid
Niacin
Copper
Zinc
30% of the daily Value fro Vitamin K
Iron
Calcium Supplement recommendations for adults:
1000 mg – Up to age 50
1200 mg – 51+ years old
*due to its size the daily value of calcium does not fit into a “one a day” multivitamin. You may need to take more than one pill a day if you consume less then three servings of day per day 

 

 

After all this I realize I need to take a multivitamin, and other supplements, just not one that turns my urine neon green. I hope this posting was informational for you. I know it helped me.
Lets talk NY headlines
Keeping with the same theme, check out this article about Herbal Supplements. 

Herbal Supplements Are Often Not What They Seem

By , Published: November 3, 2013

Americans spend an estimated $5 billion a year on unproven herbal supplements that promise everything from fighting off colds to curbing hot flashes and boosting memory. But now there is a new reason for supplement buyers to beware: DNA tests show that many pills labeled as healing herbs are little more than powdered rice and weeds.  

Using a test called DNA barcoding, a kind of genetic fingerprinting that has also been used to help uncover labeling fraud in the commercial seafood industry, Canadian researchers tested 44 bottles of popular supplements sold by 12 companies. They found that many were not what they claimed to be, and that pills labeled as popular herbs were often diluted — or replaced entirely — by cheap fillers like soybean, wheat and rice. 
Consumer advocates and scientists say the research provides more evidence that the herbal supplement industry is riddled with questionable practices. Industry representatives argue that any problems are not widespread. 
For the study, the researchers selected popular medicinal herbs, and then randomly bought different brands of those products from stores and outlets in Canada and the United States. To avoid singling out any company, they did not disclose any product names. 
Among their findings were bottles of echinacea supplements, used by millions of Americans to prevent and treat colds, that contained ground up bitter weed, Parthenium hysterophorus, an invasive plant found in India and Australia that has been linked to rashes, nausea and flatulence
Two bottles labeled as St. John’s wort, which studies have shown may treat mild depression, contained none of the medicinal herb. Instead, the pills in one bottle were made of nothing but rice, and another bottle contained only Alexandrian senna, an Egyptian yellow shrub that is a powerful laxative. Gingko biloba supplements, promoted as memory enhancers, were mixed with fillers and black walnut, a potentially deadly hazard for people with nut allergies
Of 44 herbal supplements tested, one-third showed outright substitution, meaning there was no trace of the plant advertised on the bottle — only another plant in its place.
Many were adulterated with ingredients not listed on the label, like rice, soybean and wheat, which are used as fillers. 
In some cases, these fillers were the only plant detected in the bottle — a health concern for people with allergies or those seeking gluten-free products, said the study’s lead author, Steven G. Newmaster, a biology professor and botanical director of the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario at the University of Guelph. 
The findings, published in the journal BMC Medicine, follow a number of smaller studies conducted in recent years that have suggested a sizable percentage of herbal products are not what they purport to be. But because the latest findings are backed by DNA testing, they offer perhaps the most credible evidence to date of adulteration, contamination and mislabeling in the medicinal supplement industry, a rapidly growing area of alternative medicine that includes an estimated 29,000 herbal products and substances sold throughout North America. 
“This suggests that the problems are widespread and that quality control for many companies, whether through ignorance, incompetence or dishonesty, is unacceptable,” said David Schardt, a senior nutritionist at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocacy group. “Given these results, it’s hard to recommend any herbal supplements to consumers.” 
Representatives of the supplement industry said that while mislabeling of supplements was a legitimate concern, they did not believe it reached the extent suggested by the new research.
Stefan Gafner, the chief science officer at the American Botanical Council, a nonprofit group that promotes the use of herbal supplements, said the study was flawed, in part because the bar-coding technology it used could not always identify herbs that have been purified and highly processed. 
“Over all, I would agree that quality control is an issue in the herbal industry,” Dr. Gafner said. “But I think that what’s represented here is overblown. I don’t think it’s as bad as it looks according to this study.” 
The Food and Drug Administration has used bar-coding technology to warn and in some cases prosecute sellers of seafood found to be “misbranded.” The DNA technique has also been used in studies of herbal teas, which showed that a significant percentage contain herbs and ingredients that are not listed on their labels. 
But policing the supplement industry is a special challenge. The F.D.A. requires that companies test the products they sell to make sure that they are safe. But the system essentially operates on the honor code. Unlike prescription drugs, supplements are generally considered safe until proved otherwise.
Under a 1994 law, they can be sold and marketed with little regulatory oversight, and they are pulled from shelves generally only after complaints of serious injury. The F.D.A. audits a small number of companies, but even industry representatives say more oversight is needed. 
“The regulations are very appropriate and rigorous,” said Duffy MacKay of the Council for Responsible Nutrition, a supplement industry trade group. “But we need a strong regulator enforcing the full force of the law. F.D.A. resources are limited, and therefore enforcement has not historically been as rigorous as it could be.” 
Shelly Burgess, a spokeswoman for the F.D.A., said that companies were required to adhere to a set of good manufacturing practices designed to prevent adulteration, but that many were ignoring the rules. 
“Unfortunately, we are seeing a very high percentage — approximately 70 percent — of firms’ noncompliance,” she said, “and we are very active in taking enforcement actions against such violations.” 
DNA bar coding was developed about a decade ago at the University of Guelph. Instead of sequencing entire genomes, scientists realized that they could examine genes from a standardized region of every genome to identify species of plants and animals. These short sequences can be quickly analyzed — much like the bar codes on the items at a supermarket — and compared with others in an electronic database. An electronic reference library at Guelph, called the International Barcode of Life Project, contains over 2.6 million bar code records for almost 200,000 species of plants and animals. 
The testing technique is not foolproof. It can identify the substances in a supplement, but it cannot determine their potency. And because the technology relies on the detection of DNA, it may not be able to identify concentrated chemical extracts that do not contain genetic material, or products in which the material has been destroyed by heat and processing. 
But Dr. Newmaster emphasized that only powders and pills were used in the new research, not extracts. In addition, the DNA testing nearly always detected some plant material in the samples — just not always the plant or herb named on the label. 
Some of the adulteration problems may be inadvertent. Cross-contamination can occur in fields where different plants are grown side by side and picked at the same time, or in factories where the herbs are packaged. Dr. Gafner of the American Botanical Council said that rice, starch and other compounds were sometimes added during processing to keep powdered herbs from clumping, just as kernels of rice are added to salt shakers. 
But that does not explain many of the DNA results. For instance, the study found that one product advertised as black cohosh — a North American plant and popular remedy for hot flashes and other menopause symptoms — actually contained a related Asian plant, Actaea asiatica, that can be toxic to humans. 
Those findings mirror a similar study of black cohosh supplements conducted at Stony Brook University medical center last year. Dr. David A. Baker, a professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive medicine, bought 36 black cohosh supplements from online and chain stores. Bar coding tests showed that a quarter of them were not black cohosh, but instead contained an ornamental plant from China. 
Dr. Baker called the state of supplement regulation “the Wild West,” and said most consumers had no idea how few safeguards were in place. “If you had a child who was sick and three out of 10 penicillin pills were fake, everybody would be up in arms,” Dr. Baker said. “But it’s O.K. to buy a supplement where three out of 10 pills are fake. I don’t understand it. Why does this industry get away with that?”

All About Multivitamins & Herbal Supplements
 This article turns everything I just researched on its head. They did not include the company’s names, so we don’t know if we are getting the real vitamins or just powered rice and weeds. I am still going to take a multivitamin, but who knows if it will do what its supposed to or not. Maybe I need to get my vitamins through food after all. What do you think?
 

 
Blessings My Friends
Mary
 

References:
http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/dietandnutrition/feature/vitamins.htm 
https://eoss.asu.edu/wellness/healthyeating/multivitamin 
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/05/science/herbal-supplements-are-often-not-what-they-seem.html?ref=health 

 

My Birthday Month, Food Trucks, & Homemade Holiday Treats


Today is a great day, this is the best month of the year. Why, do you ask?? It’s my birthday month!! On the 21st of November I will be 31 years old. I love  my birthday. I love getting older, learning from all of my mistakes, and reflecting on my past. 

I’m in the best shape of my life, I’m working towards my true dreams, I’m in love, and I’m happier then I have ever been. I know I’m on the right track for the first time in my life. I feel comfortable in my skin, I get up everyday excited to see what the day is going to bring me. I feel blessed to be in the space that I am. 

As blessed as I feel, I also realize I am part of the reason I am so satisfied with life. I keep pushing myself out of my comfort zone and its paid off. I cook 3-4 days a week, I have a blog that is constantly growing, my business isn’t exactly where I want it to be but I know it will get there. I have amazing people in my life that love and support me. I also have some haters, that I pray for every night. I think my beauty, power, and positivity is too much for them, but that’s ok, they will also find their way. 

I don’t have any big Birthday plans yet. That’s not 100% true. I’m going to be in Maryland with my Father my birthday week. My boyfriend is going to fly out a few days before my birthday to hangout with us. My dad is my hero. He took the time to teach me right from wrong and always loved me unconditionally.

 Without him I wouldn’t be me. I started sending him birthday cards on my birthday last year. It’s a feat that I made it to 30, so every year, from now on, My Father and I will celebrate together. I got lucky, I got the best dad in the world, and I’m willing to share him with anyone that needs a Great Dad. Sometimes he doesn’t say what you want to hear, but he is always honest, and he always listens to my opinions, right or wrong. 

Enough with the daddy stuff. I could talk about him all day and night. 

Lets Talk Food Trucks
There is a food truck revolution happening in the United States. Some cities don’t embrace food trucks, I’m lucky that San Francisco is at the forefront of this revolution. 

Food trucks are tasty, creative, non-traditional, and adventurous. Talented chefs and home cooks have the opportunity to make good food and money out of a vehicle. Instead of trying to raise thousands of dollars and dealing with the stress of starting a new resturant, the inspired can purchase a truck and serve their creations to anyone that’s willing to eat them. 

Larkspur has an “Off the Grid” every Sunday that I enjoy indulging in. 
 
“Off the Grid began in June of 2010 with the simple idea that grouping Street Food Vendors together similar to an “Asian nigh market” would crate an experience that would allow neighbors to connect with friends, and families to urban cores of cites, and that utilize spaces that are not easily activated effectively throughout the day. http://offthegridsf.com





 Most trucks have vegan, gluten free, and vegetarian options, which is a blessing to people like me. Yesterday I decided on a Tofu banh mia, a traditional Vietnamese sandwich, with an added fried egg. The sandwich was $7 and I couldn’t finish half. 


 Lets talk Christmas Presents

I have never had a lot of money, and I love giving presents around the Holiday season, so I’m used to making handmade gifts for my friends and family and this year is no different.

This year I’m thinking about making homemade s’more kits, with homemade graham crackers and marshmallows. What do you think?  It will be a challenge, and you know I love a challenge. 

 I would love some feedback. Do you think this is a good idea, or too much trouble?

 

That’s about it today friends. I have a lot of business to take care of, but my spirits are high so I’m sure I’ll be smiling all day. 


Blessing my friends
Mary


Peek a boo Pound Cake



Yesterday was my nephews 1st birthday party. Whenever I go to events I always like to bring a dessert. I usually go for low fat, low calorie treats, but since it’s so close to the Holiday season I decided to do something I never ever do. I made a boxed cake!!! yuck yuck yuck. 

My Mother is to blame for my distaste of boxed desserts. She always ranted about the unneeded sugar content, added preservatives, and the high sodium count. I 100% agree with her reasoning, but I didn’t have the time or energy to invest yesterday. 

If you  know  me, you know I wasn’t going to make this easy. Check it out

Lets Talk 
Unhealthy Pee-A-Boo Pound Cake

  with brown butter pecan icing

Ingredients:

 

For the pound cake
  • 1 (14-ounce) box Gingerbread mix
  • 1 (16-ounce) box pound cake mix
  • Orange food coloring or red and yellow food coloring
For the icing
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
  • 3-1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons evaporated milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Directions:


Prepare pumpkin bread

Mix up gingerbread ingredients according to the directions on the box. Add orange food coloring to make it standout. 


Bake and cut

Bake in a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan according to directions. Remove from oven before completely done, about 8-10 minutes less than instructed. Let cool, remove from pan and refrigerate for up to four hours. Cut cold gingerbread into large slices. Cut heart shapes from slices.
Align them down the center of a lightly greased and floured 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.

Make pound cake

 
 
Mix up your pound cake batter according to the directions on the box. Pour over your gingerbread cutouts in the pan, making sure to cover the tops of the hearts. You may have more pound cake batter than you need. Try not to overfill the pan. Bake according to the directions on the box. Let cool when done.

Prepare icing

 

Meanwhile, prepare the brown butter pecan icing.
Put powdered sugar in a mixing bowl. In a saucepan, melt butter and boil, stirring until it starts to brown and form dark flecks on the sides and bottom.

Remove from heat. Pour the melted brown butter and flecks over the powdered sugar. Add the evaporated milk and vanilla. Stir until combined and creamy. Add more powdered sugar if it appears too runny or more evaporated milk if it seems too stiff.

Ice cake

 

Remove baked and cooled pound cake from pan and top with brown butter icing. Add chopped pecans, if desired.

The cake was hit. my heart shaped gingerbread cut-outs looked more like a triangle, but it was still pretty impressive. 

That’s all today folks

These last few weeks have been a little unpredictable, I promise everything will be back to normal on Monday. 
Thanks for hanging in there with me
Blessings
Mary