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Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers with Brown Rice, Mushrooms, and Feta

Posted By Carol L. Hunter PhD, PMHCNS, CNP, Monday, November 28, 2016

By Kalyn’s Kitchen

In addition to creating my own culinary delights, I like to peruse recipes. I found this one from Kalyn’s Kitchen that I thought to be the perfect antidote to the heaviness of holiday mealtime. This lovely and colorful recipe can be a standalone entrée or a side dish. Just follow the link and you will find the step by step recipe along with appetizing pictures. Bon Appetit!

Warm wishes for a joyous holiday season! See you in 2017.

http://www.kalynskitchen.com/2013/10/vegetarian-stuffed-peppers-brown-rice-mushrooms-feta.html

Tags:  Carol Hunter  food and drink 

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Vegan Lemon Cake

Posted By Carol L. Hunter PhD, PMHCNS, CNP, Monday, November 7, 2016
Dr. Vasant Lad and his wife Usha, in their cookbook, entitled "Ayurvedic Cooking for Self Healing", describe sour foods: “when used in moderation, they are refreshing and delicious to the taste, stimulate appetite, improve digestion, energize the body, nourish the heart, enlighten the mind, and cause salivation.” For my birthday cake this past month, my daughter baked me a lemon vegan cake that was all of the above and more. Vegan cakes are not for everyone, not that it is so much a taste issue as one of texture. Vegan cakes are more compact and dense, lacking the usual airiness of a typical cake. If that is a concern and you want to give it fluffiness and don’t mind adding in some animal protein, you can mix in eggs into the liquid ingredients. Bon appetite!

INGREDIENTS
• 2 cups of white unbleached organic flour
• 1 tsp baking powder
• 1 tsp baking soda
• ½ tsp salt
• ½ cup maple syrup
• zest of a lemon (organic unwaxed)
• ½ cup grapeseed or coconut oil
• 1 ½ tbsp almond milk (add more if needed for perfect consistency of batter)
• 1 tsp vanilla essence
• ¼ cup lemon juice
• 2 eggs (optional)
Lemon Glaze
• 1 cup powdered sugar
• 1 ½ tbsp lemon juice

Instructions
1. Preheat the oven at 350F. Grease a bread form pan and line the inside with a baking sheet.
2. Sift the flour in a bowl and combine with baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest.
3. Add maple syrup, almond milk, safflower or coconut oil, lemon juice and (beaten eggs) and quickly combine all the ingredients to a smooth batter (be careful not to overmix).
4. Pour the batter in the bread form and bake in the oven for 35-45 min or until a skewer comes out clean. Carefully remove the cake from the form and let cool completely.
5. Mix powdered sugar and lemon juice to a creamy mixture, spread over the cake and let it firm before slicing the cake. Decorate with lemon slices.

ENJOY!

Tags:  Carol Hunter  food and drink  recipe  vegan 

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Emotional Intelligence: Do you have it?

Posted By Carol L. Hunter PhD, PMHCNS, CNP, Monday, November 7, 2016
Coping with emotions is a must for a healthy lifestyle, combined with all the rest: healthy diet, physical activity, adequate sleep, fellowship and socialization and mental stimulation. Unfortunately, far too many attempt to dismiss and ignore the emotions of others along with their own. The sad result is multifold, from perfunctory existence to downright impairment; from the walking wounded to the psychiatrically hospitalized; from the irritable and lonely to the depressed catatonic.

I take issue with the idea that EI is actually a construct of intelligence; I don’t think it is, nor should it be. Unfortunately the term emotional “intelligence” has muddied the waters of our thinking but I do understand the parallel to cognitive intelligence. What Dr. Daniel Goleman seemed to be saying in his book, Emotional Intelligence, is that there are levels and layers of emotional achievement just as there are with IQs. But emotions are quite different from intellect and arise from different areas of the brain, so let’s separate them for the sake of the discussion.

My definition is short and perhaps too brief but I believe it is the source and therefore holds the most importance. Emotional intelligence is the courage to pursue self inquiry. From that critical examination of self, you can extrapolate to the outer world in growing concentric circles and include family and social relationships, work and school environments and basically anywhere one person interacts with another. The heart and soul of emotional intelligence is personal communion with self and interaction with others and how that proceeds. Such discussions inevitably get into the nurture vs nature argument or in this case, trait vs ability. Perhaps those who do the best job of exhibiting this quality are those with both, a genetic endowment, if you will, which then may facilitate the development of the ability. I believe it is part gift and part achievement, but I do believe anyone can learn how to accomplish it if they set their mind to it and are willing to take that hard look.

Empathy is the cornerstone of emotional intelligence. My personal experience supports the “trait” theory because as a young child, I was acutely aware of other people’s feelings and had no such role modeling in my own family. If there was a negative in my early experience, it was that I focused too much on the feeling of others to the exclusion of my own. As an only child, I did have the alone time in my tree house to make up for it and spent a lot of time in introspection. It probably didn’t help to constantly have my grandmother remind me that “children are to be seen but not heard!” That message assigned me to be the proverbial “fly on the wall,” observing the world as it went by without giving back much input. I struggled with insecurity as a teenager and never felt my own voice was wanted or needed in the crowd, even though I enjoyed formulating my own opinions. I lacked the confidence to speak up around others and maybe by default became a really good listener.

It wasn’t until I went to nursing school that the empathic me blossomed into the person who not only felt the struggles of others but also was able to actively care for them. As you can well imagine, this filled me with immense satisfaction and I began to use my voice to influence and guide the emotionally challenged. I can easily see how the topic of leadership enters this sphere of discussion. It is just common sense that those who can fully engage with the emotions of other people will ultimately make the best leaders. First comes the awareness which requires a close scrutiny, utilizing those techniques we learn in school like keying into facial expressions, body language and tone of voice as well as signs of anxiety and discomfort. Next comes the interpretation and formulation of the problem, followed by the execution of the plan to assist.

But before you can help others, you must help yourself. It may sound like an easy task but it’s not and for many, it is simply too scary to peer into their own souls. Everyone has one degree or another of emotional pain and all we have to do is look around to see how people fail to cope, drowning their perceptions in alcohol and drugs or violent outbursts towards others like road rage. On the flip side are those who choose to ignore emotions altogether and they manifest it by affective flatness and avoidance of closeness with others. On either side of this spectrum, the person becomes absorbed with self and that preoccupation with self to the exclusion of others is the death knell for emotional intelligence. Is this a terminal condition? I don’t believe it is but those with narcissistic traits and other personality dysfunctions will have to work much harder than those who are naturally empathic to improve their ability to relate to others. Professional assistance is highly recommended.

This is a fascinating topic to be sure and a critical one in relationships that require maintenance and repair just like your vehicle. I have often read that couples that can argue ultimately do much better than those who are avoidant but cordial. The word “argue” conjures up visions of loss of control and throwing lamps across the room but it doesn’t have to be that way at all. A couple can have a civil argument to discuss differences or problems without doing something they regret. We all say things we regret; it’s just part of the human experience and hence, the importance of the phrase “I’m sorry.” In my experience, the single greatest factor preventing such open discussion is the fear of loss of control. One simple remedy for this fear is acceptance of one’s frailties as a human, giving yourself permission to feel and experience the full range of emotions, including anger. As my therapist states so beautifully in my paraphrase, one must be willing to welcome, examine, undress, lay bare, and do battle with our emotions, both positive and negative. Without doing so, we will never experience the richness and the joy that life has to offer. Nor will we be able to get truly close to another human being.

Now, go look in the mirror and continue your journey of becoming an emotionally intelligent person. You will reap great rewards for yourself and those that you love.

Tags:  Carol Hunter  Emotional intelligence  integrative medicine 

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Summer Fruit Tart

Posted By Carol L. Hunter PhD, PMHCNS, CNP, Wednesday, June 8, 2016
INGREDIENTS:
¼ cup Blueberries
¼ cup raspberries
½ cup strawberries
2 peaches, medium
2 kiwi, medium
½ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
¼ tsp cardamom, allspice, and nutmeg each
5 tbsp ice water
1 package gluten free pie crust by Bob’s Red Mill

DIRECTIONS:
Wash and peel the kiwis and peaches and set them in a bowl with the washed berries. Toss them in the sugar, vanilla and spices and set aside.

Follow the package directions on the pie crust mix. It is best mixed with a dough hook in a mixer or you can mix by hand. Divide the dough in two halves and form into balls and cover with plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator for one hour to chill, then roll out between two pieces of plastic. Peel off one layer of plastic, place tart dish on top and carefully turn over. Take off top layer of plastic and press dough into flutes or trim as desired.  Brush the edges with egg whites if desired. Add the fruit mixture and place in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes.  Juices should be running and the top browned .  There is enough dough for two tarts.

Note: When you get distracted by a phone conversation, your piece de resistance may suffer the consequences! Despite cooking a bit too long, I can say the flavor was still extraordinaire!!! Bon appetit and an Irish toast to the bride and groom!

Tags:  Carol Hunter  nutrition 

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Getting to Know Yourself

Posted By Carol L. Hunter PhD, PMHCNS, CNP, Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Updated: Monday, April 25, 2016

Are we ever finished getting to know ourselves? The answer to that question may vary depending on one’s current circumstances and begs the next question which is, are we ever finished working on ourselves? The obvious answer is that if life is a process then we must keep ourselves open to being transformed into a better, more caring human. I remember one job interview I had when I was asked about the condition of my emotional and spiritual state. My response was, “I’m a work in progress, like everyone else.” The interviewer had no response to that!

Recently I decided to see a professional therapist even though I am one. I wavered back and forth telling myself that if I just stood in front of the mirror, I could tell myself anything I may need to hear. But instead of helpful suggestions, I kept hearing the phrase “you’ve been a stupid idiot.” Now I don’t really mean that and am much more forgiving of myself than that, but sometimes we fall into the trap of negative thinking. People call me an optimist and yet, such negativism still happens to me. It was time for a tune up!

So how do we go about fighting these negative messages that our brains sometimes send us in what seems to be a relentless stream? First step is always acknowledgment. If you can recognize yourself going down that path, you are half way home. Next step is taking action. What I often tell my clients is that once you have the recognition, take immediate action by telling yourself “STOP.” Put your hand up in front of your face and say the word “stop” out loud. This interrupts the unhealthy thoughts and sets you on your way to not only terminating the negative thoughts, but also getting you back on track.

The next mental leap is tapping into your coping strategies, the healthy ones that have served you well over the years. The simpler the skill is, the better it is. So if putting on your running shoes is the antidote, it will get you out the door. One of the things I have noticed about my clients over the years is that many do not have any interests, hobbies, pastimes, or passions.  Oftentimes, this becomes a homework assignment and for some, it’s like climbing Mount Everest.  Clients will come back and declare that they cannot think of a single thing they would be interested in doing. The caveat being that until their survival needs are met for food, shelter and safety, nothing else can be entertained. But once these basic needs are met, it is time to explore the world before us. What is it that attracts you? For some, it is the mechanics of machinery. For others it is the beauty of art, interior design, flower arrangements or volunteering. When we look around our world, we see such great need in every arena of life. The happiest of us are those who share talents, skills and passions with others. If you’re just starting out in your field, not to worry, you concentrate on your learning and down the road, you will also be a beacon for others.

I remember the psychiatric nursing instructor that set my heart on fire for my career. She could somehow communicate with the mentally ill who had been institutionalized for 20 to 30 years. Many were unintelligible and incoherent, but not to her. She would smile in our post conferences and tell us exactly what the patients were trying so hard to communicate. Many had the unfortunate side effect of the medications called tardive dyskinesia, a neurological disorder characterized by involuntary movements of the face and extremities. This affliction could interfere with the ability to communicate. I remember at first being fearful and later being heartbroken by the patients’ conditions but also in awe over the dedication of my instructor and her ease in dealing with people of such incapacitations.

Everyone has something to work on within themselves. It takes courage to get help. But once you have opened that door of opportunity for yourself, you will be amazed at the gain of insight you have into your own life and how that will benefit every person whose life you touch. The more forgiving and accepting you can be towards yourself, the more you can be towards others in your life.

Can therapy help? First off, get some good references on the therapist you choose. It is always best to get a firsthand reference if you can. Write down questions you may have for your therapist on that first visit, so you can use that time to determine if you are a good fit. Don’t expect to hear everything you want to hear and this is very important. Therapists are not in the hospitality business of making you feel good like the therapist s at the spa and this is an important distinction to remember.  Mental health therapy is serious business and is intended to act as a guide with you at the helm. You and your therapist are partners and if something doesn’t sit right in your gut, pay attention to it. By that I mean that not every therapist will be the right one for your needs and that is Ok and often expected. A good therapist will thank you for coming and give you referrals to other therapists who can help.

Another great reason to seek psychotherapy is that it gives an individual a chance to get away from the good intentions of friends and family. Well intended as they are, they are fully invested in you in a way that reflects back upon themselves; meaning that as humans, what happens to you also affects them. What affects you may stimulate all kinds of emotional responses from others; whereas, with therapists, they are simply a sounding board upon which you offer up your emotional experiences on a clean slate. Therapists are trained to remain nonjudgmental but they are also human, so part of their education is to help them learn to identify their own “hot buttons” and know how to manage those without jeopardizing the client. Make sure you understand all the expectations on that first visit, including financial arrangements. Making copayments on a regular basis is the client’s responsibility and may even become part of the treatment plan if left neglected, so be sure you do your part.

A couple important points to remember is that change slowly occurs over a period of time, so don’t expect “miracles.” Since I prescribe medications and supplements, I tell my clients that I wish I had a magic pill for them but I don’t. One must be patient and expect to work hard to obtain significant results. I wish you a very special journey as you get to know yourself better and begin to see the very best of you brought out for others to enjoy.

Tags:  Carol Hunter  emotions  psychotherapy 

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New Mexican Got Cheese - A True Delight!

Posted By Carol L. Hunter PhD, PMHCNS, CNP, Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Updated: Monday, April 25, 2016
I love to discover delicious culinary delights that come from the Southwest, my home state in particular. New Mexico is probably best known for its red and green chiles, ranging in heat from mild to superhot. Another tasty find is the organic goat cheese that is made from the milk of free range goats at an altitude of 8000 feet by a company called CoonRidge located in Pie Town, NM.  Their products are USDA certified organic and what they do is mix the cheese with various herbs and oil to produce some delectable combinations. Two kinds I happened to have on hand when writing this article were “Organic Dillweed Onion” and “Organic Scarborough Faire.” It is wonderful on crackers or as I am offering in this recipe, on pasta. The website is coonridge.com, their email organicgoat@gmail.com. The number is 888-410-8433. There are many kinds of healthy pasta choices and two such examples are Organic Brown Rice Fusilli by Field Day, 200 calories per serving (www.fielddayproducts.com)  and Ancient Grain Pasta Fusilli imported from Italy by TruRoots, 210 calories per serving, (www.truroots.com).

Ingredients: serving size, one to two
One small onion, finely chopped
One small package of organic mushrooms
Two small tomatoes
¾ cup of dry pasta
4 tablespoons of grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons of fresh parsley
2 tablespoons of CoonRidge  organic goat cheese
1 tablespoon parmesan or romano cheese

Preparations:
In a medium saucepan, saute the finely chopped onions, mushrooms, tomatoes and fresh parsley until the onions are translucent and the tomatoes and mushrooms have shrunk.  Place on simmer or keep warm.
Boil the water for the pasta and add in a small amount of sea salt and grapeseed oil. Cook the pasta until it is done the way you like it, al dente or well cooked.  Drain well and then mix in the vegetable combination. Place the two tablespoons per person of the goat cheese on top of the pasta and let it sit until melted. Toss well and then sprinkle the parmesan or romano on top. There should be enough oil in the goat cheese to keep everything moist, but if you like it moister, just add in a splash of cold pressed, virgin olive oil. Bon appetite!

Tags:  Carol Hunter  goat cheese  new mexico  nutrition 

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For the Love of Horses!

Posted By Carol L. Hunter PhD, PMHCNS, CNP, Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Since I was 9 years old I have tried to convince my Mother that horses are fantastic creatures! Her answer was telling as she would always respond “I don’t know them” and therein laid the problem.  As a child I begged and begged for horseback riding lessons and one day my dream came true. I can see it all right now as it unfolded before my eyes and nose. The barn with stalls on both sides, rather dark inside, was where my first lesson took place. The smell of manure was a new one then but one I would not only become very familiar with over the years but come to cherish. I sat upon a huge horse which was probably not the best idea for my first lesson, but he/she didn’t misbehave and I was patiently led back and forth along the barn corridor until time was up. What was it about these not so friendly animals that captured my attention to such a degree, that I could not stop reading horse stories and every time I drove in the car, I imagined I was riding the black stallion bareback, running alongside our car.

As you can imagine, I wanted more, but what I got was this response, “well, you wanted a lesson and you got one.” That was the beginning and unfortunately the end, at least for that period of my life. I had many other experiences as a teen because I could not stay away, yet did not have the skills to participate safely.  I had a friend whose family had a farm in the countryside with horses. We would go out there and I remember one particular ride in which my friend took off on her horse at a gallop. She was well trained and competed in equine events. The only thing I had going for me was love of the horse and hung on for dear life. To this day I don’t understand how I stayed on until the end of the pasture, but unbeknownst to me, there would be many falls off horses in my future.

At 16, I was fortunate enough to go to a dude ranch in Wyoming for a couple weeks in the summer with some of my classmates.  Peaches and I clicked and she was my beautiful Palomino mare for the time I was there. But I had the chance to go on a cattle drive and had to ride a different horse, one that turned out to be “head shy.” Now if you are moving your arms around and shouting at cattle to “get along little doggie,” it might be disturbing to a head shy horse and sure enough, my horse shied and bucked and sent me flying off to land with my right hip hard against a  very large rock.  Crying out in pain that night, I was gently picked up on my mattress by a number of cowboys who laid the mattress in the back of a pickup truck and drove me to the hospital, at least 60 or so miles away.  In the morning I awoke to my bright eyed roommate who was in her 80s, telling me one joke after the other. The problem was that when I laughed, the hip spasms started and I ended up crying in pain. I hated to tell her she needed to please stop.

I finally owned my first horses when I was 32. My husband, who had just finished his residency at the time, was excited as well and we bought a 14 hand Morgan horse and a 17 year old Thoroughbred who had been on the track. Our property backed up on the national forest in New Jersey and so we had room to ride. We had a barn, arena and my husband built a separate hay barn. My children learned to ride and life was good until one day my husband and I were out on the trial and he decided to pass me on Ramah, the former race horse. A bell went off in Ramah’s head and he took off like a rocket with me clinging on.  Unfortunately, for us humans, we cannot stop a horse if he wants to run. On my right was the reservoir; on my left was the rock cliff, at least 100 feet tall.  In such a situation, it is advised to turn your horse in circles, but in my case, it was impossible. I thought about jumping off but he was going too fast and I knew that would be disastrous, so I decided to stay the course and thank goodness, he eventually tired and settled down.

Years later in New Mexico, my daughter and I competed on our Quarter horse, Sassy, she in 4H and me on the Palomino show circuit. Showing was fun but was not nearly as much fun as having a horse in my back yard. I can still see my daughter and her friend riding their horses bareback along the quiet streets of our neighborhood.  My fondest memory was going out with my friend for an early morning ride in the Corrales bosque and after enough of those rides, I still follow those trails in my sleep, knowing every twist and turn. It was amazing that Sassy learned to tolerate skateboarders, bikers, runners, hot air balloons, speed boats on the river, unleashed barking dogs, coyotes, rattle snakes and everything else that was scary. I was able to ride her alone, in parades and in other new circumstances knowing that she had the confidence in me as her leader to comply. I remember Sassy being due to foal and how many nights sleep I had missed waiting for this new family member to arrive. Knowing that horses tended to foal at night, I would set my alarm and go to the barn to quietly look inside the stall. On one particular night, long after she was due to foal, I peeked into the stall and saw the dark outline of a long legged foal standing quietly by her side. Welcome to the world, Sheridan! Years later Sassy had her second foal, Samson, a bay colt and grandson of Seattle Slew. Although he didn’t have his grandpa’s talent on the track, Samson more than made up for it with his always willing disposition to do his best.

In looking back upon my years, now measured in horses, I can see how therapeutic and healing they were for me in terms of stress reduction, motivation, diligence, perseverance, acceptance and companionship. Although they can definitely trick you into thinking they are indifferent, they are always curious when feeling safe. And yes, they can form an enduring relationship with you, recognizing your voice and whinnying or running along the fence line when they see and hear your vehicle. I decided to write about horses as I am now reading a book entitled Riding Home, The Power of Horses to Heal by Tim Hayes. I would highly recommend it whether you are new to the world of horses or an old hand as it is inspirational. Therapeutic riding has opened up a whole new dimension in the treatment of those with mental disorders, from children to adults, with sometimes astonishing results. The bibliography contains lots of great references to further pursue this great subject. Happy Trails!

Tags:  animal therapy  Carol Hunter  horses  therapy 

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Asparagus & Two-Cheese Quiche

Posted By Carol L. Hunter PhD, PMHCNS, CNP, Tuesday, April 5, 2016
If you expecting a recipe for alfalfa cookies, you will be disappointed, but your horse would love it if you could find one! This month in honor of Easter, I found a wonderful recipe from Anna Stockwell in the March 2015 online edition of Epicurious. What makes this recipe so interesting is the fact that the pie crust is made with hash brown potatoes. This is a wonderful dish for a family brunch because you can make it ahead of time and simply warm it up when ready to serve. Bon appetite!

INGREDIENT LIST
4 medium russet potatoes (about 2 pounds), peeled
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
4 medium shallots, thinly sliced
6 large eggs, room temperature
1 ¼ cups half and half
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 tablespoon finely chopped tarragon
5 ounces Fontina cheese, grated (about 1 ½ cups)    
4 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled (about ¾ cup)
½ bunch asparagus (about ½ pound), ends trimmed
Special equipment: a 10 inch cast iron skillet

PREPARATION
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using the coarse grater disk on a food processor or the largest holes on a box grater, shred potatoes. Toss with 1 tsp. salt and ½ tsp. pepper in a large bowl. Transfer to a clean dishtowel, gather together ends of towel, and thoroughly wring out excess liquid over the sink; transfer potatoes to a bowl and set aside.

Heat oil and 2 Tbsp. butter in a 10” cast iron skillet over medium high until butter is melted. Add potatoes and immediately start forming into a crust by pushing potatoes flat against bottom and sides of pan with a ½ cup dry measuring cup. Continue cooking, pressing potatoes up sides of pan until they start shrinking and potatoes are bound together and bottom of crust is starting to brown, about 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, melt remaining 1 Tbsp. butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and saute’ until translucent, 5-6 minutes; set aside.

Whisk eggs, half and half, mustard powder, nutmeg, remaining ½ teaspoon salt, and remaining ¼ teaspoon pepper in another large bowl. Whisk in tarragon and set aside.

Sprinkle Fontina cheese, goat cheese, and sautéed shallots evenly over bottom of crust, then pour in egg mixture. Arrange asparagus decoratively on top. Bake until quiche is set and crust is well browned, 30-35 minutes. Let cool to room temperature before cutting into wedges and serving from the pan.


Do Ahead:
Quiched can be made up to 1 day in advance. Cool to room temperature, then wrap with plastic and refrigerate. To reheat, bake at 325 degrees F until warmed through, 15 to 20 minutes.

Photo credit: Chelsea Kyle, Epicurious, March online edition, 2015.

Tags:  asparagus  Carol Hunter  nutrition  quiche  two cheese 

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RECIPE: Basic Chili

Posted By Carol L. Hunter, PhD, PMHCNS, CNP, Monday, March 7, 2016

before winter is truly behind us, let’s take a look at a recipe for the cold weather dish of chili, sometimes known as Texas chili. My favorite cook wear is Le Creuset and they provided this hearty recipe from My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes that Saved My Life from Ruth Reichl.

Ingredient List:

3 medium onions

Olive oil

6 cloves garlic, smashed

Salt and pepper

Cumin and oregano

Homemade chili powder (recipe below)                

1 pound ground bison

1 small can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

1 large can chopped tomatoes

1 cup chicken stock

1 bottle robust dark beer

1 can black beans (kidney beans if you prefer)

Ruth gives options for adding in an ounce of dark chocolate, fish sauce, balsamic vinegar, cream sherry, soy sauce, cilantro, scallions, sour cream (or Greek yogurt if you prefer) and grated cheese. (Also if you can’t find ground bison, you can use lean ground beef.)

 

Preparation:

Dice the onions and saute them in olive oil until they’re soft. Add the garlic and let it soften, too. Add the oregano, some salt and pepper, a bit of cumin and 2 teaspoons of your homemade chili powder- more if you really like hot food.

Add the ground bison and cook, stirring, until it loses its redness. Puree 3 or 4 of the chipotle peppers and stir that in, along with the tomatoes and another teaspoon of your chili powder. Add the chicken stock (preferably homemade) and a cup of the beer and let it all simmer at a slow burble for a couple of hours.

Ruth writes, “Before serving, stir in a cup or so of cooked black beans. Now you get to play with the flavors. Is it hot enough? Do you want more chili powder? Sometimes I’ll melt an ounce or so of really good chocolate and stir that in to give it depth. Other times I’ll add a spoonful of fish sauce, or a splash of balsamic vinegar. Sometimes soy sauce to spark it up, other times cream sherry to mellow it down. It all depends on my mood. The point is, when you’ve made your own chili powder, everything else is just window dressing .

You can serve this with cilantro, scallions, sour cream and grated cheese. Or not. It’s that good. “

Preparation of chili powder:

Ruth writes, “I like to use anchos for their winey richness, habanero for their fruity heat, and New Mexicos for their earthy sturdiness.

Wearing rubber or latex gloves to protect your hands, sponge off 2 ancho, 3 New Mexico and 3 habanero chilies (they’re almost always dusty.) Cut them in half and removed the tips, where the majority of seeds congregate in dried peppers. Discard the seeds.

Put the chilies into a heavy-bottomed pan ( I use cast iron) and toast them over medium-high heat for about 4 minutes, turning from time to time with tongs, until they have darkened slightly. Allow them to cool and then grind the chilies to a powder in a spice grinder or coffee mill. Stir in a teaspoon of toasted ground cumin.

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  Carol Hunter  chile  recipe 

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Preparing for Your Garden

Posted By Carol L. Hunter, PhD, PMHCNS, CNP, Monday, March 7, 2016

Yes, the long dreary days of winter are quickly passing by and visions of spring flowers are in our heads. It is that important time for planning the spring garden. Every year I seem to feel like I am getting a bit of a late start on my garden plans. Before I know it, it’s the middle of March and I have yet to start my seedlings indoors. So this year I am resolving to be more on top of this process that ultimately brings me so much joy for the summer months. Just stop and think for a moment about juicy red beefsteak tomatoes shining on the vine in the heat of a summer day. Picture a basket filled with your favorite veges, freshly harvested and ready to go into your summer dishes. Think about a beautiful flower garden that attracts bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. I hope your imagination is now running wild! Step one is going through seed catalogues to decide what seeds to plant. Last year I told you about Annies and another one called Seeds. This year I have also ordered from Heirloom Organics out of Oregon. Try to stick with seed companies that offer heirloom seeds that have thrived and survived pests and diseases for many, many years. They are hardy and nutritious and you won’t have to worry about GMO hybrid seeds. Organic is always best but there are high quality seeds that do not have the organic certification, much the same as many types of wine which are made with sustainable farming practices but lacking the label. As many of you know who have gone through the process, obtaining organic farming certification is a long and painstaking process that may be more suitable for large operations than small.

Most seed catalogues now have “collections” of seeds to fulfill a particular purpose. Purchasing a collection will give you a variety but take the guess work out of it, if you are not sure what to buy.  Examples would be a herb collection or a salad collection. This year I am planting Annies’s butterfly collection, a variety of flowers to attract butterflies and am hoping to attract hummingbirds as well. I feed my favorite feathered friends each summer and at 8:00pm on a summer’s evening, there are dozens and dozens around the four feeders that are hanging on the front patio. They may be tiny birds but they have a beastly appetite and at the peak of the season, I am refilling the feeders every day.

Once you have decided what vegetables, flowers and herbs to buy, it is time to do your “companion planning.” Garden and Flowers.com define companion planting as “the process of seeding amicable species along with one another to promote growth.” There are many charts and information on the internet about this subject, but as a rule of thumb, it is typical to plant your lettuce and lettuce type plants together which would include kale, collards, swiss chard, raddichio and radishes. Another bed would house your cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussel sprouts. Tomatoes are in the nightshade family along with eggplants and all types of peppers. Certain herbs/flowers  go very well with certain vegetables. Tomatoes love parsley, marigolds and especially borage which helps to detract the hornworms. Cauliflower and cabbage love oregano; Brussel sprouts love thyme, broccoli loves dill and rosemary and beets love sage.  Flowers like nasturtiums are edible and provide lovely color for a vegetable garden and they are especially compatible with squash. Make a drawing of your bed to lay out your plans so when the time comes to plant, you will know where everything goes. Believe me once the weather and especially the soil warms up, you’ll be in a hurry to plant those seeds.

Always read the directions on your seed packs because some seeds have such a long propagation time that they are best started indoors.  One of the downsides to this approach is that you need a fair amount of space and light for your seedlings. Another idea is to start them outdoors in a cold frame which ultimately is easier as they are planted where they will stay. I like small cold frames that you can lift off when the time comes to avoid an unnecessary transplant of the fragile seedlings. If you want to start tomatoes by seed, start early because a late planting may lead to disappointment in terms of the yield, unless you live in a location where the fall weather stays warm well into October.

Every year is a learning experience for me and no two seasons have ever been the same in terms of weather patterns, insects, irrigation scheduling or even yield. The important thing is to have fun with it and you will when you take your first delicious bite of something you have grown yourself. There is simply no comparison!

Tags:  Carol Hunter  garden  Heirloom Organics 

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Don't Depend on Salt to Get Enough Iodine

Posted By Carol L. Hunter, PhD, PMHCNS, CNP, Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Everywhere you turn in the media, in published guidelines from professional medical associations, from private health and governmental organizations, from your own physician and from family members, we are told to restrict the use of salt. These public and private warnings are given to mainly avoid elevated blood pressures and the risks of cardiovascular events and cerebrovascular accidents or strokes.  

There is also a movement among naturalists to only use sea salt which contains little to no iodine. It comes in a variety of colors: pink, light gray and light blue and even black and is easy to find today in any health store. Kosher salt is also a pure form which also lacks iodine. With the public campaign to decrease animal fats in the diet and thereby reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, people are eating more vegetables which contain less iodine than animal sources. Iodine is also lost in sweat while exercising. 1

Back in 1926 a public health decision was made to include iodine in salt. The reasoning was that everyone loved their salt and used it daily, so they would also get the necessary daily trace amount of iodine. There was an epidemic back then of goiters, a large swelling of the thyroid gland that was not only uncomfortable but unsightly. The addition of iodine to salt resolved this public health problem and people’s thyroid problems were balanced just simply by a shake of salt at the dinner table.

Salt is an excellent preservative and so the inevitable happened. Food manufacturers started incorporating large amounts of sodium into their products, especially the packaged versions. And soon afterwards, blood pressures were on the rise.  With all the warnings, one would think salt had become public enemy number one; however, salt is necessary to life and without it, we cannot live. Due to the drastic reductions in salt intake today, iodine deficiency has increased to the point that nearly 74% of healthy adults may not consume enough.1 The US recommended daily allowance is 150 to 290 micrograms with a top limit of 1100 mcg; however, when that is compared to the daily intake of Japanese women which ranges from 5280 to 13,800mcg with no adverse effects, the RDA may be lacking in true efficacy. 1

The important realization here is that we can no longer depend upon salt to provide our source of iodine and as a result, hypothyroidism has reached epidemic proportions in our US population. Do you know someone who takes thyroid replacement? I would bet you do. It’s a rampant health problem that is largely treated with prescription medications today. In addition, iodine deficiency may result in obesity, cognitive and psychiatric disorders, heart disease and forms of cancer, especially breast cancer and fibrocystic breast disease. In developing children, iodine can prevent mental retardation. Research has also shown that iodine can absorb and eliminate radioactive elements from our bodies, inhibit tumor formation and reduce cholesterol.  Please get your thyroid levels checked if you haven’t done so.

So what are the alternative sources of iodine, if our salt has largely been denied us? Don’t recoil when I present you with this gift from the sea, but seaweed is a vital source of iodine, especially for vegans who cannot depend on other sources. The sea is the greatest repository of iodine where various seaweeds are able to concentrate it to very high levels. Contrarily, there is very little iodine found in the soil. Seaweed is classified by its color which is either red, brown or green. Once company called Maine Coast Sea Vegetables provides its products in whole leaf, flaked, granulated, powdered and bulk forms. Their website is www.seaveg.com and is a wealth of information. Their products are easy to find in most nutrition centered stores and cooperatives. Seaweed can be used in soups, sandwiches, stirfries and salads. Because it is such highly concentrated food, only small amounts are needed to boost the flavor and nutrition of any dish. At their online store they feature their cookbook, Sea Vegetable Celebration, by owner Shep Erhart and organic chef Leslie Cerier, that contains over 100 vegetarian recipes.

There are many types including the Asian Nori, Hiziki, Arama and Wakame and the US coastal varieties such as dulse, kelp, alaria and laver. Incorporating seaweed into your diet is just a snip away. Simply get out your scissors and cut off tiny pieces to put in whatever dish you are cooking. Half the fun will be the experimenting so try out the dried seaweed which is crispy and salty and then the soaked version which cuts down on the salty taste. On the bag of my dulse seaweed, a one third cup serving based on the 2000 calorie per day intake yields only 18 calories and a whopping 780% daily value of iodine! This form of iodine intake may not be as easy as shaking a salt shaker, but being able to eat seaweed right out of the bag with a few snips is the next best thing. Here is a tasty and beautiful salad to get you started:

Grapefruit/Avocado Salad with Dulce

Spread a generous handful of spring mix on a platter.

Arrange the grapefruit slices and avocado slices in a circle on top of the lettuce.

In the middle place a few slices of cucumber.

Sprinkle walnut pieces on top.

Sprinkle dulce bits on top by snipping off small pieces with scissors.

Pour Citric dressing over salad. Use salt and pepper to taste.

Citric dressing:

2 tablespoons of fresh squeezed orange or lemon juice

2 tablespoons of cold pressed extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon of lemon or orange zest

½ teaspoon of cumin

2 grated garlic cloves

2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste.  (If you like a creamy dressing, you can add ½ cup of tahini.)

Enjoy, your thyroid gland will thank you!

1): http://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2011/10/the-silent-epidemic-of-iodine-deficiency/page-01

 

Tags:  Carol Hunter  iodine  salt 

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RECIPE: Blue Corn Enchiladas

Posted By Carol L Hunter, PhD, PMHCNS, CNP, Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Beans are a mainstay of any vegetarian diet. Here is the recipe for Blue Corn Enchiladas:

INGREDIENTS:
One 12 pack stone ground blue corn tortillas. (www.buenofoods.com)

Two 15 ounce cans of organic pinto and/or black beans.
Flame Roasted green chile 40 oz bottle (you will use about half). (www505chile.com)

Red chile sauce made from red chile powder. 3 oz bag. Follow directions on bag (
www.northoftheborder.net).
One large chopped onion

Cumin
Daiyan cheddar cheese slices or other cheese as desired

One small tomato; lettuce

In a hot skillet or griddle, heat each tortilla on both sides until crisp and set aside. Line a large baking pan with an olive oil spray and line the pan with the tortillas.Pour organic pinto and/or black beans, chopped onions, and cumin over the tortillas. Pour half the pan with green chile and half the pan with red chile (Christmas!) Place (vegan) cheese slices over the top and bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes.Garnish the enchiladas with chopped lettuce, tomatoes, and raw onions if desired. Avocados or guacamole are also a delicious addition.

Bon appetit!

Tags:  Carol Hunter  recipe 

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RECIPE: Hummus

Posted By Carol L Hunter, PhD, PMHCNS, CNP, Tuesday, October 6, 2015

INGREDIENTS:

Two 15 ox cans organic garbanzo beans

3 cloves garlic
Juice of one half lemon
2 tablespoons Tamari

½ cup chopped parsley
2 tablespoons olive oil

One half cup tahini or sesame butter
Sea salt and cumin spice to taste.

In a food processor, mix the olive oil, lemon juice and tamari together for a minute or two until mixed well. Add in the parsley, garlic, garbanzo beans, cumin, salt and mix well until pureed. Then drop small spoonfuls of tahini into the top of the processor and mix well before adding the next. The processor should not be straining, but if it is, add a small amount of water. Taste and season as desired with a splash more lemon or tamari. The hummus should be light tan colored with a smooth and creamy consistency. Hummus can be refrigerated up to a week, so keeping it in a tightly closed container makes it easy to reach for when it is snack time or as a side for a salad at lunch. Sprinkle with paprika. It is delicious with chips, crackers and bread or as a filling for celery.

Bon Appetit!

Tags:  Carol Hunter  hummus  recipe 

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Making the Switch

Posted By Carol L Hunter, PhD, PMHCNS, CNP, Tuesday, October 6, 2015
If anyone would have ever told me that I would become a vegan, I would have laughed until my sides ached. You see, I am just one of those people who need mainly protein to feel well. Back in my running and competing days when a banana and a bagel were the breakfast prescription before a race, I just couldn’t go along with the recommendations. In my training runs I became aware that if I did not eat protein, meaning an egg or high protein shake, I would become uncomfortably shaky to the point that I felt weak.

In keeping with life’s oftentimes random but meaningful events, my whole life spun around last weekend when I was innocently talking to my neighbor as we irrigated our properties. He had lost 19 pounds in 6 weeks and when I asked how he had done that, he told me he had become a vegan after reading The China Study. My first reaction was hope because I could lose a few pounds. I have never been overweight but fat distribution changes for a woman after menopause and I was no exception despite my love of working out and being active. I joked about it telling others my body was preparing itself to roll when I started falling. But falling is not funny at all and a serious issue for the elderly.

And so I started reading The China Study and I am quite simply, stunned by what I have read. Having earned a doctorate, I consider myself to have the scientist mentality and I want scientific explanations with a preponderance of evidence in order to make a significant change in my life. The results of The China Study are anything but inconclusive. It is a seminal study on the difference between a plant based and a meat based diet in terms of health and risk for chronic disease. Not only does it address the specifics of the research design but it also addresses many individual diseases. However, it does not stop there and goes on to address the immense, mind blowing corruption in our great country in regard to nutrition and who is holding which reins on which national committee. Dr. Campbell challenged much of what I have believed over the last 30 or more years in terms of nutrition and I am ready to listen.

People become vegetarians or vegans for many different reasons. I want to lose weight and I want to avoid the “C” diagnosis. I am encouraging those of you who wonder about this to read the book and at least try out the diet for a period of time. It can only help to improve your health. When I make a decision, I want to immediately move forward on it and I was eager to start on my new diet. But alas, my refrigerator and freezer were filled with animal based products! What was I going to do with all that food? So I realized that this change in diet was going to be a transition which actually made sense and gave me a sigh of relief. After all, I love cheese even more than meat and giving that up will be the greatest test of all. Realizing that some transitory time was necessary, I started thinking about the practical aspects of it in my mind. The study results showed that a protein diet of 5% was noncontributory to negative health events, so I realized I could eat a bit of protein each day while incorporating some new approaches. If you go on Amazon you will find many cookbooks along with the original China Study. I didn’t order any cookbooks because I needed to read about the study results first. But I am thinking about an entirely new way of eating and like Dr. Campbell’s friend stated in his book, I am wondering “What am I going to eat?”

OK, so no dairy, no meat, no fish, no eggs; that is a lot to give up! But then I think how much I love vegetables and whole grains. Can I really make this work? Most of the animal products are now gone and I have even tested out some vegan cheese. Daiya brand is lactose, casein, gluten, soy and cholesterol free. The cheddar style slices melt well and taste is pretty good. Since I like very sharp cheddar cheese, it has been more of an adjustment for me. Another brand is Treeline, a soft creamy cheese that is made with scallions and finely ground cashew nuts and is delicious. A third product is called “Follow your Heart” by Earth Island and is made from potato starch. I found these products at my local grocery cooperative. Some other ideas for snacks are organic Kalamata olives, mixed organic nuts, raw or roasted, celery with almond butter filling and whole wheat crackers or bread with hummus spread. Dr. Campbell does not encourage calorie counting!

I thought the best place to start was to figure out some foundational recipes I could eat routinely that would be easy to prepare, so I chose hummus and blue corn enchiladas. It would sound like hummus would be very easy to make, but it is tricky how you put the ingredients together. One recipe I came across suggested mixing the lemon juice with the tahini first. When I tried that, it was just too thick and the machine kept shutting itself off. I would have to wait and I had to keep adding water. I recommend the opposite and that is adding the tahini last in small spoonfuls.

Tags:  Carol Hunter  China Study  Dr Campbell  vegan 

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Hemp Pesto

Posted By Carol L Hunter, PhD, PMHCNS, CNP, Monday, July 6, 2015
1 tbsp chopped garlic
3/4 tsp salt
3 bunches basil (leaves only)
3/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 cup hemp seeds

Place all ingredients except for the hemp seeds in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the “S” blade. Pulse and scrape down sides of bowl until all the ingredients have reached a pretty smooth texture. While running, add the hemp seeds. (Some people like their pesto chunky. Use your own judgment as to when to add the seeds.)

Your pesto is now ready to use. This stores well in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Makes 1 1/2-2 cups.

To celebrate the sweetness of hemp seeds, try sprinkling seeds on top of raspberry sorbet with blueberries and a sprig of mint. A lovely summer dessert! I also like to top off my breakfast of organic, certified non GMO shredded wheat biscuits by Kashi with some coconut/almond milk, a mix of blueberries, blackberries and raspberries and a generous sprinkle of hemp seeds.

The garden is growing well and today is irrigation day when in turn, we receive our fair share of this state’s precious water reserve. I was greeted by a small trespasser with a large white stripe down his back but thankfully, he didn’t think I was scary. Now he is hunkered down under a cottonwood tree waiting for the water to subside so he can be on his merry way. I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to see such creatures wonder through my pasture, but I’m sure not everyone would share my sentiment!

Bon Appetit!

 Attached Thumbnails:

Tags:  Carol Hunter  food and drink  hemp  nutrition 

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Nutritional Supplements

Posted By Carol L Hunter, PhD, PMHCNS, CNP, Friday, June 5, 2015
Updated: Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Recently, I subscribed to consumerlabs.com, an independent testing lab for nutritional supplements and natural products. There is a subscription fee but the information on laboratory testing results is very interesting. In addition, consumers can write in with their personal questions and get them answered. One recent query was in regard to the side effect of nausea from various multi vitamin/mineral supplements. I could easily relate and remembered years ago being hit with a bout of severe nausea while in the middle of a therapy session. I felt like I would fall off my chair, but as horrible as it was, it rapidly passed and I was able to continue. My resolution after that experience was to find a new supplement. Today the problem isn’t as difficult to remedy because the new food based multis are tolerated much better and can be taken with or without food. We’ll look at the ingredients in some of these multiple vitamin/mineral preparations shortly. But first should we even be bothered with them at all?

For decades physicians and registered dieticians proclaimed that nutritional products were a waste of money, producing “expensive urine.” The message was always “you can get everything you need in your food.” Oh, but how I laughed when many health food store owners told me that physicians were buying their own supplements by the boatload. Even though they were personally convinced of the benefit, they were not ready to publicly say so. Let’s consider the logic here. First of all, as a scientist, I know that nothing is a 100% iron clad truth; there are simply too many variables in life. And even when those variables are controlled in research study designs, there are always more that remain; hence, the “limitations of the study.” Therefore, as a consumer, waiting for the final “evidence based” word on a topic of interest may be unwise, especially since in a decade, evidence will have changed. I’ve been around long enough to see the trending of health issues, from pediatric to dietary and exercise advice. I started taking nutritional supplements decades before any awareness had surfaced among the public. Many years ago I was given a book written by Robert Rodale on vitamin E and pregnancy that became my compelling introduction to nutritional supplementation.  Shortly afterwards, it was vitamin C and the work of Linus Pauling. When I was in nursing school, I secretly read Prevention Magazine and knew better than to talk about it. I would have been laughed out of class! Back in the 1970s Prevention presented useful information in a professional manner. The Prevention Magazine of today, which seems to harp on blasting belly fat, is unrecognizable as a distant cousin of that early publication. Evidence was slowly building by such pioneers as Ewan Cameron, Irwin Stone and Carl Pfeiffer, to name just of a few of my early heroes. One must think of supplements as a form of health insurance and why not err on the side of prevention? It just makes common sense as few of us have perfect dietary habits.

It is difficult for professionals to sort out the value of the various studies on the subject of supplementation, let alone the public consumer. It’s confusing enough just wondering through a health food store and pondering the many products and brands. And certain compounds like co enzyme Q-10 is pricey. Fortunately, most of the ACAM members have an affiliation with Emerson Ecologics, a clearing house for high quality nutritional products. Professionals receive a discount on products and the savings can now be passed on to the consumer by way of a virtual pharmacy online. This is fairly new so not all the providers have set up their programs yet, myself included. You can find an ACAM provider near you by going into the directory and entering your location. Even if there is no provider in your own town, you can still contact one by phone or online to arrange for a consultation and advice on the best choices for your particular health issues. You can be directed to the provider’s online virtual pharmacy to order your products along with a discount which varies from provider to provider.

Multi vitamin/mineral products are a good place to begin if you’ve never taken supplements before. Let’s look at a couple brands I just happen to have in my cupboard at the moment, good examples of “whole food” based products. Alive and New Chapter are two brands that are well tolerated. I also like Vitamin Code by Garden of Life for the 50 and wiser women. They are capsules and the serving size is 4 caps per day, easy enough to handle. It is best to spread dosing throughout the day to replenish nutrient supplies. We are constantly metabolizing, absorbing, utilizing and excreting the compounds so more frequent replacement is more desirable. One a day multis are plentiful but I personally do not recommend them for the above reasoning. However, if convenience is an important issue, a one a day is better than nothing.  Another brand I like is Bluebonnet’s super earth multi nutrient, which comes in tablets with a daily dose of three per day. Some of the categories you can expect to see in whole food based supplements are the following:  vitamins, minerals, phytonutrient sprouts, super fruit antioxidants, plant source minerals, plant source enzymes and herbs. Most also include probiotics.  I have only mentioned a handful and there are many other high quality brands from which to choose. They even have a brand of “minis” for seniors that are easy to swallow. After starting on a multi, then you can more closely examine specific nutrients to target your own personal health issues and add them in, preferably one at a time just in case there is a problem.

Nutritional supplements have subtle effects upon the body, comparing them to prescription drugs like antibiotics and allergy medications, so don’t be alarmed. I have had many patients tell me they stopped “because I couldn’t tell any difference.” Most did not give the supplements a fair trial and stopped prematurely. When you have taken them long enough you can detect a difference between days they are taken and days they are not, particularly in terms of energy production. Just be assured you are giving your body extra nutrients that are sometimes difficult to consume in the typical daily diet.

If you’ve never been in a health food store before, it’s an interesting experience. Try to go with a knowledgeable person who can show you the ropes. Staff can be helpful and some are experts in their knowledge base, so don’t hesitate to ask.  While you’re there pick up a bag of PureVia, a natural raw cane sugar and stevia blend sweetener with half the calories of sugar but with the same great taste.

Tags:  Carol Hunter  dietary supplements  nutrition  PhD 

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