Friday, June 14, 2019

I Have a Drinking Problem...But It's Not What You Think!

Yeah, it's about the WATER.... 

I know it's good for me. 

I know it's important for muscle function, brain function, kidney health, and beautiful skin.

I know it helps prevent headaches, constipation, fatigue, muscle cramps, and well, hangovers too.

I know it even helps people manage their appetite and sleep better.

But for some reason...I find it SOOOO hard to drink. UGH!  Literally, I could go a WHOLE day and not drink a single drop.  NOT good!

So, I am making an effort.  A big effort.  Because I know it's important. 

Through my struggles, I have found a few little tricks that help.  Maybe they will help you too!

5 Tips for Getting Your Hydration On!

1.  Filter it.  Boston may be my home town but I don't "Love that Dirty Waterrrr...."  Nope.  If I can smell chlorine (or anything else) I just don't want to drink it.  Plus I know that there's a high possibility that there are other yucky things in my water that I CAN'T smell or see (bacteria, chlorine, fluorine, lead, mercury, pesticides and waste particles, just to name a few). So I filter it...someday I will also get around to filtering the water in my shower too.  I'll get into that topic some other day, but if you're a total health nerd like me and you wanna know why, read this article by Dr. Frank Lipman on MindBodyGreen. Eye opening, for sure!

2.  Take it to Go.  Do you have a favorite water bottle?  If not, get one.  Keep it with you. Be like Linus with his security blanket--make it your best friend and never be without it.  My fave?  This one from Life Factory: 

Why?  It's glass, so no funny plastic taste (or chemicals leaching in!).  I can carry it with one finger.  Yes, I have to unscrew the top to drink, but it's like drinking out of a regular glass...I can chug funny suction that you sometimes get with other water bottles with small openings.  It fits in the cupholder of my car.  It's not noisy or likely to break due to the silicone outer cover.  My long handled dish brush fits right in there, so it's a breeze to clean.  Oh, and ice cubes fit easily into the opening too.  All good things.  Plus, this...

Image result for water memes

Better for the environment!  Yay!

3.  Make it Taste Like Something Else.  Honestly, water is not very exciting.  So, I like to dress it up with things like lemons, limes, oranges, mint, cucumbers, basil, a splash of cran, or whatever floats my boat. And if all else fails, I heat it up and drop an herbal tea bag in there.  Boom!  Delish!  (Side note:  Make sure there's no caffeine in your tea, or else you're defeating the purpose of drinking the water!  Caffeine is dehydrating!)

4.  Schedule it.  Ok, so the schedule that works for me is this...  Upon waking, I drink one glass of water.  Right away.  Before my day gets in the way and I get distracted.  I also have another glass as I'm making dinner (which gives me the added bonus of keeping me from snacking as I'm making dinner).  But two glasses isn't really enough water for a whole day and once I'm typing away on the computer or researching some fascinating health topic, I just totally fall off the hydration train.  So I make a promise to myself that when I get up to visit the loo, I will also drink a glass of water.  (And the more you drink water, the more you have to go to the loo, so....the process kinda does the work for you, right?)  Right!

Image result for memes about hydration goals

5.  Keep Track.  Did I drink enough today?  Who knows?  I've been busy!  So to help with this, I use elastics or hair ties.  Wait, what?  Yup.  Elastics and hair ties help me with hydration habits!  I put three elastics around my water bottle and each time I finish and re-fill I take an elastic off and wear it around my wrist.  (One down, two to go!)  This way, there's no doubt in my mind that I had enough water for the day.  Plus, I have the visual cue of looking at my water bottle and if there are still three elastics on there and it's past noon, I know I'd better start drinking or I'll be chugging all my water right before bed and that's not really conducive to a good night's sleep, right?  (And sleep is another thing that's REALLY important for good health!)

OK, so those are my top 5 hydration tricks and tips!  Have you got any you'd like to share?  Feel free to post below!

Friday, June 7, 2019

Recipe: Gluten-Free Vegan Banana Bread

Gluten-Free Vegan Banana Bread?  

My husband's first question was..."What does THAT mean?  Is this some weirdo thing made with chickpeas and seaweed?"  (You see, my husband thinks that anything healthy is made with chickpeas or seaweed.  Or Kale.  Sometimes he thinks there's Kale involved.)  

Sigh.  "No.  No chickpeas or seaweed here, Babe."

No gluten or eggs either.  😉 

But YES, we do have bananas!  Ha!  And Gluten-free flour.  And a few other ingredients that my husband would consider "normal" (or at least "semi-normal").  

The best part is, this is a no-fuss recipe.  Quick and easy-breezy.  No waiting for flax "eggs" to thicken, no grinding your oats into oat flour, no scooping that last bit of almond butter out of the giant Costco-sized jar and getting it all over your entire hand...instead, it's just easy.  

It's not a fluffy banana bread so if you like that kind, stop right here and forget about making this recipe. This is the dense kind of banana bread.  Which I really like.  And surprisingly, hubby liked it too.  (Which is unusual for ANY gluten-free baked good.)

So here goes...let's see what you think!

Gluten-Free Vegan Banana Bread


  • 1½ cups gluten free flour  (I used Bob's Red Mill 1 to 1 Gluten-Free Baking Flour)
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 large or 4 medium completely ripe bananas - no green! Use the mushy ones             that you are just about ready to throw out.
  • ½ cup coconut sugar or organic evaporated cane sugar
  • ½ cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  Optional Ingredients:
  • Cinnamon
  • Walnuts or Pecans
  • Dairy-Free Chocolate Chips
  1. Position rack in center of oven. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat the bottom and sides of an 8-inch loaf pan with a little coconut oil. (I actually don't own one, so I used a square 4 cup pyrex glass baking dish...) Set aside,
  2. Stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a small bowl; set aside.
  3. In a larger bowl, use a potato masher to mash the bananas and sugar together until broken down but still a little chunky. Stir in oil and vanilla until combined.
  4. Add dry mix to the wet mix and stir until just combined. Add any "Optional Ingredients" that you'd like to use and again, stir to combine.  Spread into prepared pan.
  5. Bake for about 45 minutes then turn oven down to 325°F and continue to bake for about 10 to 15 minutes more or until a bamboo skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. (Hint: Cover loosely with aluminum foil if the loaf is browning too quickly.)
  6. Cool pan on rack for about 20 minutes, then slice and ENJOY!

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Sunscreen...Yay or Nay?

So a few years ago, I got turned on to the Environmental Working Group (EWG for short).  EWG is a "non-profit, non-partisan organization whose mission is to empower people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment."

They have a great website ( that has become famous for a bunch of helpful info, including their.... 

  • Skin Deep Guide to Cosmetics, where you can find out if your soaps, shampoos, deodorants, toothpaste, lotions, and makeup contain toxins, allergens, immune system disruptors, carcinogens, or other nasty stuff

  • National Tap Water Database, where you can find out what's really in your water

  • Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce, where you can find the "Clean 15"  (foods low in toxins and pesticides) and the "Dirty Dozen" (foods high in toxins and pesticides) so you can make good choices about what Organic produce to buy and where you can save some money and buy conventional
Related image

So...sun exposure.  

We all know that the sun's rays can be excess they can cause skin cancer, wrinkles, burning, scarring, loss of skin elasticity, as well as a host of other issues.  

So knowing this, as an intelligent human being, anytime I was heading outside I'd slap on the highest SPF sunscreen I could find and then bravely bare my skin to the scorching summer sun, confident that I was fully protected!  

But now, with new research, I'm finding that I may have been duped by sunscreen marketing!  😕 

Image result for neutrogena ultra sheer spray

That sunscreen that I was relying on so heavily may not have been as protective as I had thought.  AND, on top of that, many sunscreens contain disruptive (or even toxic) chemicals that can leach into our bloodstream.  Eek!

So EWG did a lot of research about sunscreen.  I read through it.  I've pulled out a few quotes/ideas that kind of hit me....I'm wondering what your thoughts are?

  • "Rates of melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer – have tripled over the past 35 years. Most scientists and public health agencies – including the Food and Drug Administration itself – have found little evidence that the use of sunscreens in isolation from other sun protective measures prevent most types of skin cancer. Read more."
  • "Retinyl palmitate is an antioxidant that combats skin aging. But studies by federal government scientists indicate that it may trigger development of skin tumors and lesions when used on skin in the presence of sunlight.... Yet the sunscreen industry continues to add vitamin A to beach and sport sunscreens and other products with SPF."
  • "Nearly every sunscreen sold in the U.S. claims to offer “broad spectrum” protection, which suggests they shield against harmful UVA rays. But many products are too weak to be sold in Europe, where standards are higher."
  • "Sunscreen is designed to be applied to large portions of the body, several times per day. Sunscreen ingredients soak through skin and can be detected in human blood, urine and even breast milk. Several commonly used ingredients appear to block or mimic hormones, and others cause allergic reactions on sensitive skin."

Hmmm.  So sunscreens (exclusively) may not protect against skin cancer?  Companies are adding ingredients that could mess with our hormones and produce allergies?   Ingredients are leaking into the bloodstream?  Some of the sunscreens are too weak to provide UVA protection?  Ugh!  

So now what?  

Don't worry.  All is not lost.  

Everybody has to make their own decisions based on the knowledge they have at the moment.  For me, I'm OK with small amounts of time in the sun (I need my vitamin D and the mood boost, after all!), but on those days when I know I'm going to be out there for awhile, I've got a few tricks up my sleeve (even if it IS a short sleeve!).

So, if I'm going to be outside in the sun for a long time...

  • I DO wear sunscreen and I DO follow the advice of EWG and choose sunscreens that are less dangerous and more effective.  
  • I go out early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the sun is a little weaker
  • If I'm out midday I'll throw on a baseball hat, sunglasses, a light long sleeve shirt or whatever I can find to add a little layer of protection
  • I find a good, shady tree to sit under

How about you?  What tricks do you use to protect yourself from the sun?


Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Summer is Coming...What's Your Plan for Sun Exposure?

Oh gosh, you guys!  It's been awhile!  Last time I blogged it was raining and gray, but today is gorgeous and sunny!  We've had GREAT weather here in Seattle and it's definitely starting to feel Summer-y.  

With Summer comes that weird transition time when I first bare my pasty-white skin to the warming rays of the sun.  I do my best to do this in small increments to avoid the "Lobster-Look" I so often sported in the early Summers of my childhood.  With all the damage I've done, it's amazing that I have any skin left at all!  

Image result for tanning oil meme

As a tot, my mom slathered me with Sea & Ski at the beach, but during my unsupervised visits to the beach as a pre-teen/teen, I was untouchable (literally)...coated in a slippery layer of whatever tanning oil promised the darkest tan and smelled the most of coconut deliciousness. (I still love the smell to this very day!) My bestie would be by my side, covered in baby oil and we would return home, after hours at the ocean, hair frizzled and lightened by the sea salt and bodies so red and painful that even lukewarm showers were impossible.  Sigh.  Not the brightest...unless you were talking about the color of our skin...

Image result for sunburn meme

So flash forward.  You would think that now that I know how damaging the sun's rays can be, that I would be slathering myself in sunscreen at the slightest hint of sun.  But I don't.  Not all the time at least.  I DO wear sunscreen on my face most days.  And I DO wear sunscreen if I'm going to be out for a LONG time or when the sun is at its peak, but I DON'T put it on constantly. 

I happen to believe that there are some benefits to getting sun exposure in moderation (please note, I'm talking small increments here--not sitting out for hours at peak sun height). 

And I'm not alone in my thinking.  We have all heard that sun exposure can boost Vitamin D (it's estimated that over a billion people worldwide are Vitamin D deficient or insufficient).  And, according to Dr. Axe, Vitamin D is good for the following:

   Image result for vitamin d benefits dr. axe

And apparently, there are benefits to measured sun exposure that AREN'T related to vitamin D.  According to Dr. Mercola:

"New evidence presented in the April-June issue of Dermato-Endocrinology1 confirms that exposure to the sun in appropriate and measured timeframes has a number of health benefits unrelated to vitamin D production, such as:"

Enhancing mood and energy through the release of endorphins
Protecting against and suppressing symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS)
Treating skin diseases, such as psoriasis, vitiligo, atopic dermatitis, and scleroderma. UV radiation also enhances skin barrier functions
Inducing nitric oxide (NO), which helps protect your skin against UV damage and offers cardiovascular protection, promotes wound healing through its antimicrobial effect, and has some anti-cancer activity
Melatonin regulation through the "third eye" of the pineal gland photoreceptors
Relieving fibromyalgia pain
Standard treatment for tuberculosis 100 years ago, long before the advent of antibiotics
Treating neonatal jaundice
Can be used to sterilize your armpits and eliminate the cause of most body odor
Treating Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Synchronizing important biorhythms through sunlight entering your eye and striking your retina
Regulating body temperature
Protecting against melanoma and decreasing mortality from it
May be effective in treating T Cell lymphoma

So what's a person to do?  Sun?  Sunscreen?  No Sun?  Hide in the basement all summer?

I can't tell YOU what to do because we should all make our own decisions based on the info we have...but for me, it's small bits of sun sans sunscreen and if I'm drinking in more than small bits of sun, I'll use sunscreen.  

But only particular kinds.  


A lot of U.S. sunscreens are useless or toxic.  Yup.  I'll cover that in the next blog.  Researching this topic was an eye-opener for me. I wonder if it will be for you too? 

Anyway, that's the scoop for now.  Now get out there and enjoy your day...slathered in sunscreen...or not!  It's gorgeous out!


Image result for sunscreen meme