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How Gardening Is Good For Your Mental Health Well-Being

Spring is here!   Yay!   I love spring.   It’s my favorite time of the year.   Everything is so lush and green.   The flowers are blooming, cool nights, trees are budding, beautiful perfect weather.   And the days are getting longer.   It’s so beautiful.

 

Part of my adopting a healthy lifestyle, not only included dietary changes but also looking for ways to stay active physically and activities that are also good for my mentally.

 

I was never into gardening.  I enjoy flowers and plants, I think they’re absolutely beautiful.    I had decided my life was too busy for gardening.   My idea of gardening was planting flowers in a few pots and putting them on the front porch.

 

A few years ago my neighbor wanted to thin out her hostas ( I had never even heard the word hostas) so she planted some in my flower beds.   I was amazed and pleasantly surprised how much beauty just a few hostas added to my landscaping.  That was the beginning of my new hobby, gardening.  I absolutely fell in love with it, from that moment on I was hooked.

 

It’s hard work, which is good physical exercise.  Physically, lifting and carrying heavy bags of mulch from my car to the backyard; digging in hard ground, carrying heavy bags of top soil, potting soil, and bags of cobblestones.   Whew!  What a workout.   Talk about burning calories! ….

 

Not only is gardening a good physical workout, I also discovered gardening was also good for my mental health.  My secular job can be very stressful. I found gardening to be a good outlet and relief for my stress.   Seeing the results of all my hard work and all the beauty from gardening and working on my landscaping; I find  it refreshing and mentally relaxing.

 

So Yay!   Spring is here.  I’ve already been bitten by the gardening bug by planting just a few plants that are hardy and can survive a cold snap, until it eventually stays warm.  I’m looking forward to mid May when I can plant even more.

 

I got curious why gardening is so good for our mental health, so I did research and this is what I found.  According to “Thrive, using gardening to change lives,”….

 

  1. Looking after plants gives us a sense of responsibility
  2. Gardening allows us all to be nurturers.
  3. Gardening keeps us connected to other living things.
  4. Gardening helps us relax and let go.

 

Yes!   Gardening can help you feel better

Research shows that gardening for people with mental health problems can improve communication with others, help with learning new practical skills/teamwork and planning. It also improves confidence and helps with concentration.

Gardening has really helped to change the way I feel.

Ask any gardener why they enjoy gardening and many will say that it “makes them feel good”.

Gardening can help your emotional well being and can help you feel happier, healthier and more confident.

 

I have found gardening to help me when I’m going through a difficult period in my life or experiencing stress and anxiety.
I love gardening because it’s great physical exercise and gets me outside in the fresh air and I feel a sense of achievement for all my hard work.

 

Here are some of my favorite pictures of my flower gardens.

This is a picture of my shade garden with a different variety of Hostas, Impatient’s and a ground cover called Nettle ( if my memory is correct, lol).

Shade garden

Hosta Shade Garden

This next picture below is another one of my shade garden. I love the color contrast of this variegated

hosta with the Hydrangea

Shade garden

The next picture below is of my original Hostas that started my gardening journey Hosta garden

Hosta garden

This next picture is Delphinium. I love the blue color. I try to add a variety of colors to my garden; pinks, blues, red, orange.

Blue Delphinium

The next picture is of my Gladiolus. They were suppose to be white, what a wonderful and unexpected surprise to see they came up in three different colors, white with pink around the edges with a hint of yellow. Gorgeous!

Gladiolus Gladiolus

Here’s a close up view

Gladiolus Gladiolus
Gladiolus Gladiolus

Gladiolus

Here is my favorite Hosta

Hosta Hosta

My shade garden

My Hosta garden My Hosta garden

Yes, gardening is not only good for you physically but also has mental health benefits.

What do you do to get physical exercise and focus on your mental health wellbeing?

Feel free to leave a comment 😊

Salmon Waldorf Salad

Waldorf Salmon Salad
                                                                        Waldorf Salmon Salad

I love Waldorf salad made with fresh apples, celery, grapes and walnuts.  I decided to make a waldorf salad made with wild caught salmon rather than chicken, which is what I usually add.   I’m trying to get more salmon in my diet since salmon is rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce inflammation. lower blood pressure and decrease risk for disease.  I eat wild caught salmon rather than farm raised salmon.   According to the Cleveland Clinic, a small fillet of wild salmon has 131 fewer calories and half the fat content of the same amount of farmed salmon.  Although farmed salmon may have slightly more omega-3 fatty acids, it also has 20.5 percent more saturated fat content; the fat you do not want.

Apples are nutritious, may be good for weight loss and your heart.   They’re even linked to a lower risk of diabetes.

Celery is loaded with essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B6, vitamin C and vitamin K.

Grapes contain powerful antioxidants known as polyphenols that are thought to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.  One of these is resveratrol that is found in the skin of red grapes.

Walnuts are rich in antioxidants, a super plant source of omega 3s and may help to decrease inflammation. 

I made this recipe with a versatile mix of power greens, tender baby spinach, mizuna, chard and kale.

Some health benefits of baby spinach include iron.  A lack of iron in the diet can affect how efficiently the body uses energy.

I had never heard of mizuna before.   Mizuna is high in Antioxidants, supports blood clotting, strengthens the bones, improves immune health, may reduce cancer risk and promotes eye health.  Wow!  this is a power packed super food.  I will definitely be adding this in my diet more often.

Chard is packed with Disease-Fighting Antioxidants, loaded with fiber, excellent source of Vitamin K, and has heart health benefits.

Kale is loaded with powerful Antioxidants like Querectin and Kaempferol,,it is an excellent source of Vitamin C and can help lower cholesterol which may reduce the risk of Heart Disease.

Here’s the recipe

Ingredient’s

5 oz container of Simple Truth Organic Power Greens brand that I bought at Kroger.

Power Greens Mix
Power Greens Mix

4 celery stalks, chopped.

2 organic Gala apples chopped

2 cups of organic red seedless grapes ( I cut mine in half but you can leave them whole if you wish.

1 cup walnuts ( chopped or leave whole)

1/2 pound wild caught salmon

1 avacado

I also add some Gorgonzola cheese

Directions

  1.  Heat a pan on medium high heat, add the salmon and cook until well done.
  2. In a large bowl and the power greens, as little or as much as you like.  I used about 1/2of the 5 oz Simple Truth Organic Power Greens mix.
  3. add the red grapes, the chopped celery and the walnuts.
  4. Use lemon juice to coat the apples, this prevents them from turning brown and then add the apples to the salad.
  5. Slice one avocado and coat with olive oil to prevent the avocado turning brown and add to salad
  6. I coat my salad with extra virgin olive oil and a little bit of red or white balsamic vinegar but you can use any salad dressing you prefer.
  7. Add Gorgonzola cheese, as much as you want.

That’s it!  Easy!   This is a delicious super food power green salad with many health benefits.

Yum!

Waldorf Salmon Salad
                       Waldorf Salmon Salad

 

 

 

Can Apple Cider Vinegar Fix All Your Problems? | Wellness | MyFitnessPal

Is apple cider vinegar the miracle super liquid you need? Spring cleaning isn’t just for closets. After months of cold weather and cravings for rich meals, our bodies deserve a reset.
— Read on blog.myfitnesspal.com/can-apple-cider-vinegar-fix-all-my-problems/

Egg White and Spinach Breakfast Casserole

Egg White Spinach Breakfast Casserole
Egg White Spinach Breakfast Casserole

I usually eat oatmeal with blueberries most mornings. I decided to change up my habit and eat a breakfast with more protein. Mornings are usually rushed, I need something that I can heat up real quick and run out the door. I decided to make an egg. White bake with vegetables such as spinach and tomato. I try to incorporate some kind of greens in my diet everyday if I can, such as spinach or kale. I look for ways to add vegetables to my diet as much as possible. I try to add a variety of color to my plate each day with fruits and veggies; blue’s, green’s, reds, etc.. all the different colors have different nutritional values.

This breakfast bake is made with egg whites. You can use whole eggs, I prefer the whites only. Egg whites are cholesterol free ( minus the egg yolks) high in protein and low in calories.

Spinach has vitamin A, C and E, calcium , folate and potassium.

Tomatoes Tomatoes are the major dietary source of the antioxidant lycopene, which has been linked to many health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. They are also a great source of vitamin C, potassium, folate and vitamin K.

I was surprised to find out even onions have health benefits. Onare high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Incorporating onions into a diet is very simple, with a versatile range of ways they can be prepared and cooked in regular foods.

Here is the egg white breakfast casserole I put together.

Egg white and Spinach Breakfast Bake                                                        Egg White and Spinach Breakfast Bake

First what I did was cook the breakfast meat I wanted to include.  I used paleo friendly dry rubbed sugar free bacon I bought at Whole Foods.

I’m trying to stay away from processed meat such as bacon and sausage which is full of nitrates.  Next time I make this recipe, I plan to use fresh turkey or chicken instead of processed meat.

Here is the bacon that I used

Paleo Sugar Free Bacon
Paleo Sugar Free Bacon

Here is the recipe

Preheat oven to 350

Spray a 13 X 9 inch pan with olive oil

Saute 1/2 white onion (feel free to add garlic if you wish

Cook your bacon, sausage, whatever meat of your choosing

Add enough egg whites to fill the pan about 1/2 full

Stir in your cooked meat and onions

top with fresh spinach, as little or as much as you like

add slices of tomato

You can stir all the ingredients together or leave them on top

Top with shredded cheese of your choice, I prefer mozerella

Cover with foil and bake for 25-30 minutes

Top with slices of fresh avocado and tomato

Enjoy 🙂

Egg White Spinach Breakfast Casserole

Egg white spinach breakfast casserole
Egg white spinach breakfast casserole

 

 

 

 

How does sugar affect your body?

How Sugar Affects the Body

A few years ago I went in for a routine check up and I was shocked at the results of my bloodwork. My cholesterol was through the roof and, I wasn’t pre-diabetic, but I was close. That was my wake up call, I knew at that moment that I needed to make some serious changes to my diet or I was going to end up with diabetes and other health problems. That moment was the beginning of my journey to better health. I started researching how sugar affects the body; I was shocked at what I learned.

Here are a few facts about too much sugar and how it affects your health.

Your Liver

An abundance of added sugar may cause your liver to become resistant to insulin, an important hormone that helps turn sugar in your bloodstream into energy. This means your body isn’t able to control your blood sugar levels as well, which can lead to type 2 diabetes.

My liver was definitely being affected by too much sugar; I had a fatty liver. I could feel my liver pressing against my ribs. Since I’ve cut down on sugar, I’m happy to say, I no longer have a fatty liver.

Your Pancreas

When you eat, your pancreas pumps out insulin. But if you’re eating way too much sugar and your body stops responding properly to insulin, your pancreas starts pumping out even more insulin. Eventually, your overworked pancreas will break down and your blood sugar levels will rise, setting you up for type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Your Kidneys

If you have diabetes, too much sugar can lead to kidney damage. The kidneys play an important role in filtering your blood sugar. Once blood sugar levels reach a certain amount, the kidneys start to let excess sugar into your urine. If left uncontrolled, diabetes can damage the kidneys, which prevents them from doing their job in filtering out waste in your blood. This can lead to kidney failure.

Im happy to say through lifestyle changes, making healthier choices and cutting down on sugar; all my numbers are better. My cholesterol is down significantly and my sugar level is back in the normal range.

Resource : How Does Too Much Sugar Affect Your Body? Web MD

Chicken Squash

I got this recipe from a friend of mine.   It’s chicken and pasta made with yellow squash and zucchini.

 

Chicken Squash
Chicken Squash

Squash is high in vitamins A, B6, and C, folate, magnesium, fiber, riboflavin, phosphorus and potassium.  Yellow squash is also rich in manganese.  This mineral helps to boost bone strength and helps the body to process fats and carbohydrates.   Wow!  That is one power packed vegetable!

Zucchini is very low in calories.  It could help fight cancer and infections.  Zucchini is great for the hair and skin and can help improve heart health and may improve brain function.

Chicken is rich in protein.   It’s a great source of lean, low fat protein which contribute to muscle growth and development.  Even chicken broth has health benefits.   It helps reduce joint pain and inflammations.  It helps improve skin, hair and nails and improves bone growth and repair.

Here is the recipe

Chicken Squash

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts ( I used 6)

1 tbsp. olive oil

garlic

onion  ( I used about 1/2 a white onion)

1 small yellow squash, sliced or cut into strips

1/2 to 1 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup whole grain pasta, al dente

salt to taste  ( I used low sodium soy sauce)

Cook pasta to al dente.

Saute chicken in olive oil. garlic and onion.  When the chicken is almost done, add the squash, chicken broth and pasta.   Simmer on low until the squash is tender.  Serve with the pasta.

 

Green Smoothie

 

This is a smoothie I threw together myself, I didn’t get the recipe from anywhere.   It’s made with pineapple, spinach, cucumber, gala apple, fresh parsley, celery and unsweetened vanilla almond milk.

Spinach is a superfood.  It is a low calorie food loaded with tons of nutrients.  Dark, leafy greens like spinach are important for skin, hair, and bone health.  They also provide protein, iron, vitamins, and minerals.

Pineapple has anti-inflammatory benefits as well as eye health benefits.   Because of its high amount of vitamin C and the antioxidants it contains, pineapple can help reduce the risk of macular degeneration, a disease that affects the eyes as people age.   I can’t eat pineapple alone, the acid bothers my stomach.   So I use it in smoothies to get the health benefits from it and at the same time, it reduces the irritation of my stomach from the acid.

Celery is rich in vitamins and minerals with a low glycemic index and has an alkalizing effect.

Parsley can help fight disease and protect your blood vessels.

Apples are extremely rich in antioxidants and dietary fiber.

Cucumbers are high in nutrients but low in calories.  Cucumbers promote hydration, contain antioxidants, including flavonoids and tannins, which prevent the accumulation of harmful free radicals and may reduce the risk of chronic disease.

Green Smoothie
Green Smoothie

Here’s the recipe,  since I threw it together myself, I didn’t measure anything.

In a blender:

I  gala apple  ( or any kind of apple will do)

1 cucumber (peeled)

1 bunch of spinach

3 stalks of celery

add fresh parsley

1 or 2 cups of pineapple

Pour in unsweetened vanilla almond milk, enough so the ingredients blend well.

I used all organic ingredients.

Green Smoothie
Green Smoothie

 

Pumpkin Spice Blender Pancakes

Hi there,

I love fall, cool crisp air, fall colors, the smell of wood burning in the fireplace, and of course “pumpkin,”  Pumpkin is one of my favorite flavors.    When I saw a recipe in, “Clean Eating,” magazine for pumpkin spice pancakes made in the blender, I knew I just had to try it.   I’ve never made pancake batter in a blender before, I thought it was a great idea to use a blender to make pancake batter, especially since getting the mixer out is not my favorite thing to do 🙂    Here are my Blender Pumpkin Spice Pancakes.

Pumpkin Spice Pancakes
Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

These pancakes are delicious.   I had them for breakfast every morning before work and they were very filling and helped me to get through the day until I had time to eat again ( which I never know when that will be) I will definitely be making them again.  Pumpkin also has health benefits. It’s rich in vitamin A, a nutrient that is key for keeping your eyes, skin and your immune system healthy.

Here’s the recipe and nutrient information:

Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

serves 6

2 large   eggs

2 cups    white whole wheat flour ( I used regular whole wheat)

1 1/2 cups  whole milk ( I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)

3/4 cup  unsweetened pumpkin puree

1/4 cup  unsalted organic butter, melted

2 tbsp  organic evaporated cane juice

1 tbsp  baking powder

1 tsp  pure vanilla extract

1 tsp  ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp  ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp  ground ginger

1/4 tsp  sea salt

1.  To a blender, add all ingredients and blend until smooth and thoroughly mixed, scraping down sides of blender with a rubber spatula if necessary.

2.  Heat a nonstick griddle over medium-high and spray with cooking spray.  Working in batches, pour a scant 1/4 cup batter per pancake, making 3-inch circles; cook until small bubbles appear and burst on the surface and the underside is golden brown, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.  Flip pancakes and cook until golden on opposite side, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes more.

3.  Top with original toppings such as thinly sliced apple, walnuts, a dollop of whipped cream and a drizzle of maple syrup, if desired.

per serving (3 pancakes)

Calories: 299, Total Fat: 12 g, Sat Fat: 7 g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 g, Carbs: 35 g, Fiber: 5 g, Sugars: 9 g, Protein: 10 g, Sodium: 408 mg, Cholesterol: 89 mg

Note:  Pancakes can be made ahead and frozen in an airtight container with parchment paper between the layers and then reheated in a toaster.

I love these pancakes, they’re delicious and filling.  Enjoy 🙂

 

Power Smoothie

This is a smoothie recipe I found in “Clean Eating” magazine.  This smoothie is made with strawberries, which are a rich source of antioxidants and can help protect you against free radicals.  They support the immune system and may help with blood sugar regulation.   It’s also made with banana, which provide a variety of vitamins and minerals such as potassium, magnesium, vitamin B6 and vitamin C.

I made this smoothie as a late afternoon snack.   It made me feel good knowing that I was adding these nutrients as part of my health journey rather than grabbing junk food.

MAKES 1 SERVING

Blend 1 cup of milk, ( I prefer unsweetened almond milk), 1 scoop protein powder, 1 cup frozen strawberries, 1/2 cup frozen banana and 1 tbsp. chia seeds with ice.

Power Smoothie
Power Smoothie