4 Roots of Optimum Wellness

There are four essential parts to being healthy: Diet, Exercise, Sleep & Attitude.

Vitae Elixxir Healing Herbs

A proprietary combination of ten disease-fighting herbs used for more than 40 years and helping thousands of people with serious health issues.

Books by Author & Health Coach Chris Pedersen

In a world of adventure and imagination, kids’ books in print and digital that encourage a healthy lifestyle.

6 Tips to Lose Weight

Don’t count calories—take a serious look at the food you want to eat, then ask, ”Is this something that will give my body good health?”

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Look What I Discovered on My Way to the Juice Bar

I'm all about healthy foods that are closest to the real thing. That is, fresh from farm to fork with little stops in between. But now and then we need a little help from our friends who are dedicated to creating foods that contain healthy ingredients, nothing artificial, no or little sugar and are minimally processed.

The other day I stopped by our local Nugget Market for a fresh juice and passed a very animated, energetic and inviting food vendor. "Start your day with love," said Maddy holding up a sample cup filled with strawberry-colored O's. I whooshed by to order my juice, but returned to chat while sipping my yummy nectar of vegetables (kale and spinach) with grapefruit, lemon and apple.

"They're made with beans—navy beans, lentils and garbanzo beans." Now that's a wallop of good stuff that will stick to your bones. Maddy went over the ingredients and talked about Home Grown Foods the company behind the healthy breakfast cereal. Home Grown Foods' mission statement ...
"... is to create incredibly delicious foods that are full of nutritional benefits and that are available to everyone, while educating kids, parents, and teachers on the importance of eating healthy."
That fits with my philosophy. Check out their products page—you should find something your family might like. Most of their products are gluten-free and all are certified non-GMO ingredients by the Non-GMO Project.

The only gripe I have is that some products are over 10 grams of sugar and that's too much IMHO. We've created generations that are addicted to sugar. Let's give them the flavor of real food instead.

What healthy food product do you use in a pinch that is manufactured/processed?

Friday, July 24, 2015

Grilled Vegetables & Quinoa Salad

Wonder what to do with those leftover grilled vegetables from Saturday's BBQ? Here's a great salad you can prepare with those vegetables as a main course or side dish.

Cook a large batch of quinoa for breakfast and save 2 cups (or an appropriate portion) for your salad that evening. Chop the grilled vegetables into large pieces (3/4 inch). The photo shows the grilled pieces before chopping (in case you were wondering).

Chop the kale leaves into small pieces. Here's my quick and neat technique for chopping kale:
  1. Strip the leaves from the thick stem then slice the pieces lengthwise into 1-inch strips. 
  2. Next cut the strips into shorter strips then stack them lengthwise and slice thinly across the width. You're left with 1x1/4-inch pieces to add to your dish. 
  3. Alternatively, de-stem and cut into large pieces then chiffonade the kale.

Grilled Vegetables & Quinoa Salad

from Chris Pedersen
yield 4-6 servings

category Salad
cuisine Vegan

2 C cooked quinoa
2 C grilled vegetables. coursely chopped
2 kale leaves, chopped small
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp turmeric
sea salt and pepper to taste

1. Combine quinoa, vegetables and chopped kale in a large bowl.
2. Drizzle oil and vinegar onto quinoa mixture and toss until coated.
3. Sprinkle paprika and turmeric over salad and mix.
4. season with salt and pepper and serve.

This salad is a beautiful light orange due to the inclusion of healthy, cancer-fighting turmeric—A super food. Discover 600 reasons tumeric may be the world's most important herb.

Tip: Use any leftover salad for breakfast. Add a small amount of coconut oil to a sauce pan over medium heat. Add salad to pan. Clear the center of the pan and add organic egg(s). Turn egg(s), turn off the heat and let sit for a few minutes before serving. Yum!

Bonus: Two breakfasts and a salad recipe. Wow! Lucky you!

Besides this post, have you experienced a bonus of some sort lately?

Friday, July 17, 2015

Attitude: Vacation Revisited

Probably the most enjoyed vacation we've taken lately was back in 2011 when we toured the Southwest National Parks and surrounding sights with friends. I thought you might like to revisit the trip or perhaps you're seeing the post for the first time. You may discover some places you'd like to visit with your family. Come on... let's go!
Photo by Mike Eisenhard

Places To Go ~ Things We Saw
Starting with Zion National Park in Southwest Utah, the neat and upscale town of Springdale invites travelers to the entrance of this majestic, wow-factor, geologic wonder—my favorite park on the trip. A convenient shuttle runs through town and delivers you to the park entrance and visitor center. Boarding a double shuttle, we could disembark at any stop in the park.

Our first morning, we chose to hike the Watchman Trail. We made our way up a short canyon passing colorful displays of wildflowers to an overlook with a panoramic view of the valley below and the Watchman Peak standing at Zion's entrance.
Photo by Mike Eisenhard
From Zion, we drove to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We took a walk out to Bright Angel Point, the Southern-most point of the Kaibab Plateau, a short walk from the lodge. As soon as I came along side the railing with a 3,000+ drop, my legs went wobbly, I started sweating, my gut began to churn and I could not look out at the expansive scene. Yes, I have a fear of heights.
Fear of heights did not keep me from hiking down the Kaibab Trail into the canyon one morning. Unfortunately, we hiked behind the morning mule train to the Supai Tunnel.
Yes... we skirted a river of mule pee. Sheesh... what a ghastly, strong smell. My husband remarked that it smelled like strong cat pee, except cats pee ounces and mules pee gallons. Of course, there was also the mounds of poop to avoid.
The views were all worth the bother of a bit of animal excrement.
Next stop, Antelope Canyon adjacent to Lake Powell in north Arizona in the Navajo Nation. This was my "had to see before I die" (aka Bucket List item) spot. It's the most photographed location in the Southwest. Can you see why?
This amazing slot canyon was discovered in the 70's by a Navajo girl tending her sheep. At many points in the canyon we had to walk toe-to-heel and maneuver our bodies to fit through.
Photo by Mike Eisenhard
It's the weirdest experience. The Navajo guide led us to a crack in the earth and started walking into it until he disappeared.
Photo by Mike Eisenhard
We encountered a series of metal stairs that led us deeper into the canyon. More stairs exist along the tour, some no wider than the width of my foot.
We visited Bryce Canyon National Park next. Unlike Zion, Bryce is not really a canyon, but rather a bowl containing eroded sandstone formations of reddish to white color.
Also, unlike Zion, the road through the park is outside the geologic area of interest. Park roads provide access to viewing spots where you can see the bowl or amphitheater of formations.
Sego Lily at Kodachrome Basin
We also visited Kodachrome Basin State Park, a short drive down the most scenic highway in the US—Highway 12. We drove as far as Boulder on Hwy 12 and discovered Hell's Backbone Grill. Boulder, population 180, is said to be one of the most remote towns in the US, so finding this gem in the middle of nowhere was kismet. They prepared a dish just for me to accommodate my diet. Check out the cookbook the proprietor/chefs authored, which highlights their creations.
"Kitchen" in our cabin at North Rim Grand Canyon
Food On The Trip
Speaking of my diet, we planned carefully for this trip to ensure I would have food to eat. We bought a Koolatron 26-quart electric cooler complete with plug for the car and added a 110AC adapter for power in the hotel/cabin. The cooler is very quiet and very effective. I packed a container with a pre-made veggie salad (it lasts three days). I brought beans and feta cheese to make my daily lunch salad—yum. Added the whole veggies stored in green bags (see Keep Your Vegetables and Fruit Fresher Longer) to the cooler and away we went.

I cut more veggies when needed and expected to add some from locations on the road (a risky assumption). Turns out the veggies lasted the whole trip. Used the last carrot on the last night during the return trip home.

We brought Trader Joe's Organic Instant Oatmeal for breakfast and added a handful of the organic/raw trail mix I made for the trip. Also brought along our Proctor Silex water boiler (it's awesome), coffee press and Mighty Leaf loose tea that Bob used to make green tea every morning.

Friends on the trip with us marveled at how self-contained we were.

We had healthy food options everywhere except at Bryce. In that location the Syrett family "own" the area outside the entrance to Bryce Canyon. It consists of lodging, campgrounds, services, one restaurant with huge buffet (gag me!) and one fast-food place. Everything is institutionalized. Order a pancake and you got butter and syrup in little sealed containers. They had almost nothing for me to eat, but I got by with a potato, carrot, zucchini, onion and sun-dried tomato stir fry they prepared for me. It was tasty, but overcooked for my liking. I also took my chances with a veggie burger they had. I used a piece of whole grain bread that we bought in Bishop at Schat's Bakkery to replace the white bun it came on.
We enjoyed every minute of the trip. Colorful wildflowers gracing the landscape, singing birds, rich colors of rock rising to the heavens and breathtaking scenery stretching to the horizon.

With my great power and outstretched arm I made the earth and its people and the 
animals that are on it, and I give it to anyone I please. ~Jeremiah 27:5

It's really hard to come back. I especially enjoyed being unplugged. For a serious recharge, I recommend a clean break from the noise of email, phone, blogs, twitter, etc. It feels great!

When was the last time you unplugged? And for how long did you unplug? Scroll down and leave a comment below.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Wisdom Wednesday

I have not used my microwave since changing my diet to hold off the growth of cancer—an unfortunate condition I inherited from my parents. In the process of heating, Microwave ovens destroy nutrients. That means I would not get the nourishment my body needs. I eat lots of raw food (no cooking), but when I cook, I use a toaster oven to cook or reheat food. I also use the stovetop.

Really it takes little extra time to heat conventionally (oven or cooktop) than use a microwave, which destroys far more nutrients and may cause other harm.

Why toaster oven instead of the big oven? The toaster oven holds a quart-size dish, which is large enough for 4-6 servings. Why heat up the big oven which takes more time than the energy-efficient toaster oven.

What are your thoughts on microwave ovens and toaster ovens?

Friday, July 10, 2015

Black Bean Brownies Recipe

This is a dessert that is guilt-free, healthy, full of protein and includes the superfood cacao. Plus I used 100% organic ingredients to make it even better for you, provided you do the same.

I saw this recipe on the Food Matters weekly newsletter email and thought, "Gotta make this!"

To begin making this awesome dessert, pull out all the ingredients so you don't miss anything. I'm usually doing a few things at the same time when I cook, so forgetting to add something happens from time to time. Does that happen to you? 

The original recipe showed a few ingredients measured in weight, so I needed to translate it into cups. You're welcome! I weighed out the cacao, ground it, then put it into a measuring cup to determine how many cups to use instead of weight. This process took extra time and because I had not put out all the ingredients ahead of time, I forgot the vanilla. Waa! The vanilla extract I just posted about making: DIY Make Your Own Vanilla Extract.

The brownies still tasted amazing!

A few notes about what else I did: I use a toaster oven for almost 100% of my baking. If it fits, it gets cooked in the toaster oven. Way less heat in the house and less energy spent. I could do without a large oven and a microwave in my home. What about you?

I let the brownies bake for about 35 minutes then I checked their progress. I turned the dish around because my toaster oven cooks faster in the back.

Black Bean Brownies

yield 1 dozen

category Dessert
cuisine Vegetarian

2 15 oz cans of organic black beans
1 C coconut oil at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
4 eggs
3/4 C cacao nibs or cacao powder
2/3 C maple syrup
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp of espresso or extra vanilla extract
pinch of sea salt
1 C chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 325ºF. Grease inside of 9 1/2 x 8 inch glass baking dish. Rinse and drain the black beans. Grind the cacao nibs (if using) to fine powder. Melt the coconut oil with a gentle heat and set aside.
2. Place drained beans, eggs, cacao powder, maple syrup, vanilla and espresso (if using) into a food processor with a pinch of salt. Pulse a few times, then blend until smooth.
3. Slowly add the melted oil while the machine is running. Taste the batter and add more maple syrup for your preference. Stir in all of the walnuts reserving a handful for topping.
4. Pour the brownie mixture into the prepared dish and rap gently on the counter to level the batter. Sprinkle the remaining walnuts over the top and bake at 40-45 minutes. Brownies are done when they feel firm but springy and the surface is cracked.
5. Cool completely before cutiing into squares. Refrigerate to make them fudgy.

Try this recipe out and let me know what you think.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Don't Get Shot by a Magic Bullet

Don't Get Shot by a Magic Bullet
I am continually amazed at the reaction of so many who run out and buy "the next best thing to make you skinny, heal your ills or get you ready when the mood is right." Hello, people—there is no magic bullet. 

The magic bullet is over there with the unicorn, the genie in the bottle and the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Don't Get Shot by a Magic BulletThe Magic Bullet Trend
Ever since companies started to make food more convenient, quick and easy, Americans have been moving away from preparing fresh foods. Sitting around the family table to enjoy a truly home-made healthy meal used to be the norm, until families began to fill their hours with activities (kids' sports, drama, music, etc). Now a quick visit to the fast-food drive-thru more often passes for the evening meal as taxi-driver-mom tosses nuggets of non-food with accompanying sugar-laden sauces into the back seat on the way to the next activity.

On top of that, the trend to vilify oils in our diet and add sugar to enhance favor has led to a sugar addiction that has super-sized our populace. Over one-third of US adults (17% of children) are obese and the numbers are growing.

So what does this have to do with avoiding the magic bullet? The magic bullet is doing what is easiest rather than choosing what is best for our health. The Easy Way is now the Magic Bullet of our culture.

Whenever a new THING surfaces in the news, everyone clamors to get some because it's easier. Something about green coffee to lose weight...? or have they moved on to another Easy Way of the month.

Easier Has Gotten US Sicker
Don't Get Shot by a Magic Bullet
Our easier life has come at a cost to our health.

We are not winning the war on cancer, despite how statistics are massaged to tell you otherwise. Don't look behind the curtain or you might see what's going on as numbers often protect the cancer machine, which makes billions for drug companies and their shareholders.

How can you have 1.6 million people being newly diagnosed with cancer and roughly one-third of that number dying from the disease and treatment, then claim we are winning. Huh?

People, there is no Easy Way in life. If you want to have money you have to work hard. Same goes for health—if you want to be healthy you have to work at it. It's worth it!  And really not that hard. Just requires attention and intention.

Pay Attention
We must get back to eating the food of the earth. That which God intended for us to eat. I'm not saying that everyone needs to give up meat. That is my choice—it may not be yours—read Why I Don't Eat Meat.

If you want to eat meat, at least pay attention and find out what you're getting in that meat. Do you really want to eat an animal that has been fattened in crowded disease-infested pens, given antibiotics and growth hormones, fed genetically modified grains that are pesticide-laden and not their natural food? Cows are meant to eat grasses not grain.

This is what we get when we turn our food system over to a factory mentality—large-scale food prep. It holds for most food at the grocery store. Creating packaged food-simile (i.e., looks like food, but doesn't provide nourishment) filled with chemicals (to get it to the shelves and keep it there without spoiling), sugar (to make it taste good) and artificial colors (to make it look good).
Nourishment: Substance necessary for growth and health.
Have you ever been to a gas station convenience store? It's frightening! It's filled with aisles of brightly colored junk that people buy and eat. There is no REAL food at a convenience store.

Don't Get Shot by a Magic Bullet
Be Intentional
To be intentional, ask yourself, "Is this something that will give my body good health?"

The up-trend in Farmers' Markets and the effort to offer locally grown foods at your nearby grocer is moving in the right direction for healthier eating. Think local when you shop. Local sources mean more nutrients in the food.

I buy the store-brand unfiltered olive oil grown and packaged in Corning, California, 130 miles from my home. I know it's fresh. Buying olive oil from Italy makes no sense. You have no idea how old it is and whether it was kept from heat. Heat will turn the oil bad and unhealthy.

Be intentional by learning to prepare healthy meals. Make them simple. All the recipes at Healthy Journey Cafe are simple. After all, I want to save time and make things convenient too.

If you're giving up on finding the Magic Bullet and changing to healthier eating, take baby steps in that direction. Don't overwhelm yourself. Remember pay attention and be intentional.

BTW eating healthier is "the next best thing to make you skinny, heal your ills or get you ready when the mood is right."

What new health trend have you tried lately?