10.16.2014

Three bean chili

Healthy three bean chili


Fall is here: the leaves are falling, the air is brisk, and I've unleashed the wool sweaters from their storage bags.

The new season can be seen everywhere outside, and it's entered my kitchen as well. Citrusy salads, cold soups, and grilled meats and vegetables have given way to roasts, baked squashes, hot soups, and chilis.

These foods warm the house and the belly. I love their aromas and the messages they evoke: feelings of nesting, cozying up to well built fires, being home with family and friends.

This past weekend I made my first chili of the season. Not only is this dish easy, it's also healthy and delicious. Another bonus? It yields plenty of leftovers to throw in the freezer, making dinner prep a cinch at a later date.

Enjoy the change of seasons, dear friends.

Three bean chili
(I usually throw a chili together. This one is mild, a good one for children. Feel free to add or subtract from this recipe according to your tastes) 

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 red or orange pepper, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 15 oz can black beans
  • 1 15 oz can kidney beans
  • 1 15 oz can cannellini beans
  • 1 lb. ground, grass-fed beef
  • 1 ripe avocado, sliced
Directions:
  • Heat oil over medium high heat. Sauté onion, pepper, and garlic.
  • Add parsley, chili powder, cumin and salt. Coat vegetables.
  • Add beef and cook until brown.
  • Add tomatoes and beans.
  • Reduce heat and simmer.
  • Spoon chili into bowls and top each with two slices of creamy avocado. Serve with warm corn bread.

10.07.2014

How often should you exercise?

Findings about fascial tissue can inform intelligent exercise

There's been a lot of discussion on these blog pages about fascial tissue recently, and you may be wondering what this has to do with you and your exercise plan.

Here's the skinny:
  • Fascia is ubiquitous. Whenever you exercise, you are training not only muscle, but highly adaptable fascial tissue. Fascial tissue responds to exercise by creating a spiral, lattice type pattern throughout it. This pattern makes the tissue buoyant and elastic, allowing it to meet the physical demands you put upon your body. 
  • Fascial tissue is not as vascular as muscle. This means it takes longer for this tissue to recover from vigorous exercise than it does for your muscles to recover. According to Tom Myers, body worker, fascial tissue expert and author of Anatomy Trains, 24 hours after exercise the fascial tissue is weaker than it was before exercise. Rest is recommended. 48 hours after exercise the tissue builds collagen, making it stronger. After 72 hours the tissue has settled into its "new normal" state.
  • Most injuries include fascia, and most sports injuries occur when the fascial tissue is overloaded too quickly.
What should you take away? 
  • Exercise, but be just as mindful about resting your body as you are about stressing it. 
  • Make sure exercises are performed with thought and precision, rather than quick movements. (Rushing through your workout may save time, but it doesn't do your body any favors).
  • Ensure workouts are varied, loading differing muscle groups throughout the week.

9.30.2014

Fall traditions: retreats and applesauce



Every year I gather with the throngs of city dwellers that need a slice of the peaceful and beautiful pastoral scene to make autumn feel complete. I pack my husband and kids in the car and we take the scenic route beyond the suburbs to the country.

It doesn't matter if I'm living in Boston, just outside New York City, or in the inner ring of the Cleveland suburbs. The need to retreat is the same.

This year we went to Chesterland, an area just east of Cleveland where trees have escaped the need for high rises and shopping malls. They stretch high into the sky, their frail yellow and orange leaves dancing to the ground as the breeze blows. It's perfect.

And every year I drink in the fresh air, gaze at the scenery, and, high on life, pick too many apples.

And so, I make a lot of applesauce, because it is the one thing I can cook that actually eats into my endless supply of delicious, yet too plentiful, apples.

I realize you can make a good applesauce that is simple, with just apples and water. However, this year I decided I'd try to make it special, so I added a few ingredients. I thought it was delicious, and so did my kids, so I thought I'd share it with you.

Falling Leaves Applesauce (named by my daughter):

Ingredients: 

  • 8 large apples or 10 smaller ones (remember, we're trying to get rid of apples here)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
Directions:
  • Core and peel apples
  • Slice apple into eighths
  • Place all ingredients in a large pot and set over medium high heat
  • Stir occasionally to keep apples from burning on the bottom of the pan
  • When apples are softened, transfer to a food processor and blend until smooth
  • Serve warm or chilled



9.26.2014

Drinking water isn't enough

Hydrating fascial tissue can relieve pain


If you've been reading my posts and following me on Twitter and Facebook, you probably know I can't get enough information about the fascia and its impact on overall health. 

What's the big deal?

Hydrated fascial tissue is crucial for our well being. In its ideal state, connective tissue is buoyant, supportive, and adaptable. These three characteristics are crucial for optimal body function.

As we age, though, the fascial tissue dries out. It becomes brittle and can fray. Muscles, joints, organs, and nerves are all negatively affected. How do you know this is happening? You begin to feel discomfort. You feel the aches and pains of aging: stiff back, stiff neck, bulging finger joints, the list goes on.

Here's the good news: rehydrating this tissue can have a positive, whole body effect. 

I've been sharing this information with lots of people, and here's a response I hear a lot: "Well, I drink a lot of water, so my fascial tissue should be well hydrated."

Unfortunately, it's not that easy. Drinking water is good for your body, but when it comes to fascial tissue, it's not enough. In fact, if you are drinking water and it seems to go right through you, this is a sign that it is not getting to the tissues it needs to penetrate.


That's because the connective tissue needs to be stimulated in such a way that fluids can enter it. Gentle compression and slow movements are required. 

You can go to expensive body workers for help, or you can use a special, squishy foam roller and a variety of balls to rehydrate the tissue on your own. If you experience chronic pain, I urge you to look into the Melt Method, which may help you learn how to diminish or eliminate your discomfort on your own.  

Taking your health into your own hands: what a precious gift.

9.18.2014

What does the ribcage have to do with neck pain?



It's safe to say it: I've become obsessed with fascial tissue. I just can't seem to get enough information about this amazing system, which supports our bodies in ways I hadn't realized before.

Here's a nugget that I find really cool: traditionally, we've approached anatomy in a reductionist way. We took knives to cadavers and sectioned out pieces of the body. We cut up muscles and bones and gave them names. When I studied for my training exams, I studied where muscles originate and insert on bones. Then I studied the actions those muscles had on bones. This led me to think of human movement in terms of mechanical leverage.

Our understanding of fascial tissue turns this idea on its head. Today we understand that fascial tissue supports the bones, muscles and organs. The tissue is so comprehensive in the body that when one part of the body moves, the entire fascial system responds to that movement.

So what?

This helps explain why you may hurt yourself in one area, yet feel pain in another. The fascial system, if continually stressed, will end up breaking at its weakest point.

Tom Myers, my new personal hero, as well as a body worker and author of Anatomy Trains: Myofascial Meridians for Manual & Movement Therapsits, explains how our fascial system responds to stress in this video about tensegrity. He's much more eloquent and knowledgeable than I am, so his video is definitely worth a look:

9.10.2014

Fascia and pain-free living



Fascia. You've probably heard the term, because it's a buzz word in the fitness industry these days.

Why?

There's been a lot of new research on the fascial system in the last couple years, and its changing the way we think about fitness, mobility, rehabilitation, and aging.

Fascia is like a huge body stocking that sits right beneath the skin. It is a seamless system that surrounds, supports, and connects your muscles, bones, organs, and nerves. This amazing system requires fluid in order to function properly and, you guessed it, as we age, and as we perform repetitive activities, it becomes dehydrated. This causes pain and stiffness.

But there is good news. Researchers have found that this system, which was previously disregarded because we believed it was insignificant, is actually adaptable and intelligent. We can manipulate the connective tissue to hydrate it, eliminating pain.

Last weekend I read Sue Hitzmann's book The Melt Method, and now I'm moving on to her list of suggested readings. Hitzmann developed an entirely new way to look at and alleviate pain on one's own, with some specialized balls and foam rollers. After using these props for 10 minutes, 3 times a week, anyone can learn to fill connective tissue with fluid, make it supple, and alleviate pain.

I'm excited about this method for 2 reasons.

  • The first is rather selfish: I'm no stranger to chronic pain. During the tech boom in the late 90's I spent years working at a firm, sitting at a computer for 12-14 hours a day. 6 years of that repetitive activity left me with unbearable elbow, wrist, and finger pain that I still feel every day, even though I quit that job 13 years ago. In fact, I don't think I'd last a single day in an office environment today. I've seen countless doctors who've given me no better advice than to stop using computers and cell phone. I'd love some relief!



  • The second: almost all of my clients have some type of chronic pain. They've had surgery on their knees and ankles and feel no better than they did before the procedures. They are aging and feel stiff. They have pain from repetitive activity at work. I want to add my new knowledge to my sessions with them, to make sure they are strong, balanced, healthy and pain free. Who doesn't want that?


This new research is so cool: I just had to share it with you. I've begun to use the method and have experienced immediate results. The mobility in my wrists is greater. My grip strength is greater. AND, I know there are more benefits to come. This is definitely a game changer.

9.04.2014

Chocolate milk and muscle repair


Chocolate milk is a healthy, post workout treat
Source: I am Baker.
Click to get a great recipe for homemade chocolate milk!


Guess what? Chocolate milk isn't just for kids. Exercisers looking to repair muscle post workout can benefit from sipping on the frothy treat as well.

Why?

Chocolate milk not only has an ideal mix of protein and carbs for muscle repair, but the treat also replenishes glycogen stores (the body stores glycogen as energy reserves) and rehydrates cells.

Next time you're looking for a post workout treat, feed your inner child and make some cold, chocolatey milk. Enjoy, guilt free!
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