My Second Month

My Second month started on Sunday, February 4th. That first week I weighed in at 141.2 pounds, a loss of 1.6 pounds from the previous week. Week two starting Sunday, February 11th I weighed in at 141.6 pounds, a slight gain of half a pound. Week three started Sunday, February 18th.I weighed in at 140.4, down 1.2 pounds. Week four started Sunday, February 25th and needless to say I weighed in at 141.2 with a gain of a little under a pound.

My first month ended at 142.8, so I am down a total of .7 pounds for the month. I know this doesn’t seem to be a big accomplishment but I feel very proud. February was a stressful month for me. I worked a lot of extra time at work due to two co-workers having the flu and then my boss leaving the country for two weeks. I didn’t have as much time for exercise as I would have liked. What I am most proud of this month is that I did not stress eat which I have a habit of doing.

I am learning that I can succeed at the new habits I am setting for myself.  I know that I may have slow and uneventful weeks in my journey, and maybe I’ll have weeks where I lose a surprising amount of weight. I don’t want to hurry this process. We all have times in our lives where we are cautious and take small steps and other times when it is okay to take a big jump.

Thai Red Curry with Shrimp

One of my favorite things to eat any time of year is my husband’s Thai Curry.  It’s rich, sweet, a little tangy – and all-around delicious.

The version below is a shrimp curry, but you can put in any flaky white fish instead of the shrimp, or you can add sliced chicken instead.  If you want a spicier curry, add some Thai chilies to the mix.  You can also make a green version of this curry – simply replace the red curry paste with green.

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The Power of Disconnecting

Disconnecting from digital media – even for a short amount of time – can clear your mind and make you more able to focus on what’s important. It can reduce distractions, stress, and make you a happier person.

Do you ever feel like your life is constantly being interrupted by your cell phone? You sit down to work, and you hear a beep or a notification. You want to ignore and just continue what you were doing, but you can’t. There is an instinctual need inside of you to check your phone, driven by the mystery of not knowing what the alert signifies. Is it an important text message? Something interesting on Facebook? An email from a colleague or friend, perhaps? So you check it out, then get back to whatever you were doing.

Then your phone beeps again.

We have become increasingly accustomed to living in a world of constant distractions. Not only is it counterproductive in the sense that it takes time to check your phone and reply, but it also makes it very difficult to give your full focus to anything. In fact, I would argue that it’s nearly impossible to do anything as well as we can if we are constantly living in a state of distraction. It’s also more difficult to enjoy life, because it makes it much tougher to live in the moment. I remember when I was a child, I was able to immerse myself in all aspects of my life. I was present – physically and mentally – for all the important events of my childhood. Now, no matter what happens, my mind is split.

There are a few exceptions to this. I notice that I do my best thinking in the bath. Part of it is because I am calm and relaxed in the tub. But another huge part is that my phone isn’t with me, and I couldn’t check it if it was. I get half an hour of peace and relaxation, and I feel fabulous afterwards. Another exception is when we were on vacation in Spain and France last fall. Sure, I checked my phone when I was on wifi in the hotel, but it wasn’t a constant thing. I was able to go most of the day simply enjoying what I was doing and who I was with. Also, when I am hiking I don’t check my phone. I have written about the mental and physical health benefits of hiking in the past, and this is just another great reason to hike. Being at peace, out in nature, and free of distractions is an amazing feeling.

Disconnecting in your daily life

Recently, I have decided to take some time each day to disconnect. Now, I can’t live without my cell phone, and I can’t expect anyone else to either, but you can set aside a bit of time to be without your phone, away from your computer, with your TV off. Meditating alone in a quiet room is a great way to disconnect. Also, you can take a bath and leave the phone in the other room, or go for a walk and just leave your phone at home. You can have a no-phones-allowed dinner with your family. You will realize how valuable your time is when you take a moment to appreciate the simple joy of being present. And the longer you do it, the better you will feel. Your mind races less. You will be less preoccupied. You will be less distracted. You will focus more on what’s important and what is in front of you right now.

Disconnecting at work

Disconnecting can help with your work as well. You probably have less control over your environment, but you can still set aside blocks of time where you don’t check texts, alerts, or emails. You will quickly find that you are much more productive and focused as a result. Of course, you can’t go all day like this – functioning in your work environment requires communication, and you can’t cut that off entirely. But having a few blocks of time set aside where you can focus will improve your productivity and make you a better worker. You will be a little less ‘available’ – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You may actually find out that people respect your time more if you are not so willing and anxious to reply to everything in an instant.

You won’t miss anything

Your text messages will be there when you get back. Your alerts will be there. Your emails will be there. The world will not end if you don’t reply to someone immediately. The first few times you disconnect, you might have some anxiety. This will manifest itself in a strong desire to check your phone. This is normal! We use our phones to feel connected, and when we don’t have them, we don’t know what to do. But this is because our brains have been programmed by constantly having our phones there to provide instant gratification. But after you do it a few times it gets so much easier.

Polenta with White Beans and Kale

This is one of our favorite recipes! We got the original recipe from Lidia Bastianich and modified it to make it easier and faster to prepare on a weeknight. Lidia uses dried beans and cooks them for nearly an hour, but we found that using canned beans is just as good and doesn’t require as much time or effort. This meal can be made in roughly 30 minutes – and it’s healthy and delicious!

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Even Better Hummus


The secret to our Even Better Hummus recipe is starting with dried chickpeas that are soaked overnight in water and baking soda. This method, used commonly in the Middle East, results in a much fluffier and creamier hummus than if you use canned chickpeas. This is a more time consuming recipe than ones using canned chickpeas, but the results are amazing.

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Healthy Snack: Roasted Chick Peas

Roast Chickpeas
Roast chick peas are are a healthy, delicious snack that is easy to make. If you roast them perfectly, they are crunchy on the outside, but have a somewhat creamy texture inside. The best thing about them is that you can customize them to your taste. The recipe below contains smoked paprika, cumin, and garlic – but you can add any spices or herbs you like!

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Turkish Lentils with Cauliflower Steaks


This is a very healthy lentil recipe that’s easy to make.  It’s a delicious, satisfying and – despite its simplicity – deep and complex in flavor from the variety of spices. The dish can easily be made vegetarian by replacing the chicken broth with vegetable stock or water or vegan by replacing the stock and omitting the yogurt.

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3 Tips to Boost Your Immune System

How to Naturally Boost Your Immune System For Cold and Flu Season

Naturally Boost your Immune System

1) Boost your vitamin D levels by spending time outside

Some scientists have suggested that one reason that cold and flu are seasonal is that people tend to stay inside in the winter and don’t get their recommended amount of Vitamin D. Your body naturally produces Vitamin D by being exposed to natural sunlight, so staying indoors reduces the amount of Vitamin D in your system.  And since Vitamin D is crucial to your immune system, not getting enough of it can make you susceptible to the cold and flu.

But you don’t have to spend a great deal of time outside.  In fact, your body produces your daily allowance of Vitamin D in just 10-15 minutes of moderate sun exposure!  A short walk once a day can help boost your immune system!  In addition to boosting your vitamin D, there are a bunch of other reasons to take a short walk every day.

2) Drink lots of tea

Tea, particularly green tea, is filled with antioxidants, which boost the immune system by neutralizing free radicals – a type of atom that can damage your body.  Tea is loaded with catechins – a very specific type of antioxidant that prevents the breakdown of cells.  Tea is especially high in catechins because it is usually minimally processed. Green tea has the added benefits of increasing blood flow and lowering cholesterol. Also, the warmth of the tea can soothe a sore throat, reduce congestion, and fight inflammation if you already have a cold.

3) Eat these foods:

Yogurt – Probiotics in yogurt keep your intestinal lining healthy.  Probiotics are good bacteria that keep germs and other bad bacteria out of your stomach and digestive system.  Just one cup of yogurt a day can help keep your digestive track healthy.

Garlic – Garlic contains a substance called Allicin, which, has antimicrobial properties and resists germs.  According to research, it can also help prevent the common cold and reduce the symptoms once you have it. Check out our hummus recipe for an awesome, easy dish containing garlic.

Citrus – Citrus contains vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, which has antiviral and antibacterial properties.  Drinking citrus fruit juice, or better yet – eating fruits themselves can increase your body’s Vitamin C levels.  Citrus fruits are typically in-season in the winter, so you will find a great variety of fresh fruits in your grocery store.  Citrus fruits also contain fiber, so eating the fruit rather than simply drinking the juice has added benefits.

Lean meat, like beef – Meats contain a great deal of zinc, which can help your body produce white blood cells.  White blood cells fight viruses and bacteria, and keep your immune system healthy and able to fight off a cold.  You can take zinc supplements, but you can also acquire it naturally by eating lean protein in the form of beef, lamb, chicken, and pork.

Hiking Can Make you Happier


We already know that light exercise can provide significant health benefits. But there is a lot of evidence that it can also have psychological benefits as well – particularly if you are doing it outdoors. There is a strong connection between the body and mind. Surrounding yourself in a natural setting can have a profound impact on your psychological well-being and overall brain function, particularly when its paired with physical activity.

I’ve always been and outdoors person.  Ever since I was young, I have always enjoyed spending time outdoors. Being outside and disconnecting myself from technology allowed my brain to relax and function without the distractions of the modern world. Without the constant beeping of my cell phone alerting me to text messages, emails and social media alerts, my brain could actually relax. And what I’ve noticed is the longer I was able to do this, the better I felt. When I would return from hiking, I experienced that my mind was much more focused, and my thought process was a lot clearer. I’ve spoken to other hikers and outdoorsy people who have shared the same experience.

So I was not surprised to learn that there is a lot of data to back this up! Several studies have shown that spending time outdoors can have huge psychological benefits. This is particularly true if you do so in a natural setting and even truer if you are disconnected from technology.

A recent study tested individuals on creativity both before and after a 4-day nature excursion, and found that there was a significant improvement. An article published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology suggests that the act walking can improve cognitive function.

Walking, preferably in a natural setting, can:

  • Improve creative thinking
  • Improve reasoning and problem solving skills
  • Relieve stress and improve your mental state

Not to mention the countless physical health benefits!

So if you’re feeling stressed, need to solve a problem, or just want to relax – take a walk somewhere. No matter where you live – even if it’s a big city – you can find a natural setting to walk. Go to the park. Take a hike. And turn off your cell phone!

Super Simple Hummus


One of the easiest (and best) things to make with chickpeas is hummus. Hummus is incredibly versatile and you can flavor it with just about anything. Below is a very simple hummus recipe that can be used as a base. You can add just about anything to this base to make a more unique flavor – roasted red peppers, roast garlic, cumin, spices, herbs, or just about anything you can imagine.

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Superfood: Chickpeas

Have you ever wondered what that little beige bean towards the back of the salad bar that no one ever eat is? It is a Chickpea, also known as a Garbanzo bean. It is one of the oldest harvested legumes. According to Wikipedia, 7,500 year old traces of the bean have been found in the Middle East.

There are three different kinds of chickpeas: Desi, Bombay, and Kabuli. Desi are small and dark and have a rough covering. Desi chickpeas are mainly grown in India as well as Iran. Bombay Chickpeas are also dark and just a bit bigger than the Desi and are popular in India as well. Kabuli Chickpeas are lighter in color and have a softer covering then the Desi. This type of chickpea is grown in the Mediterranean. It is believed that the Kabuli was first grown in Kabul in Afghanistan The rare black chickpea is bigger and darker than the Desi and is only grown in Apulia which is in Southeast Italy.

Chickpeas have a lovely nutty taste and a buttery texture, and are a well known component in Italian, Greek, Indian, Middle Eastern, Spanish and Portuguese cuisines. Chickpeas are used to make dishes such as hummus, falafel, and curries. They are used cold in tapas dishes in Spain, and with pasta in Italy. In Asian cuisine chickpeas are eaten as sweets or desserts in the Philippines.

You can buy chickpeas either dried or canned like other beans, but I have found that finding them dried is a little harder in small rural areas.

There are endless ways to use chickpeas in your daily diet. You can use them in salads, stews, and also ground into a flour. The flour can be used to coat vegetables for frying and also to make certain kinds of Mediterranean flatbreads such as Socca. Some kinds of chickpeas can be popped like Popcorn! Maybe something new to try on family movie night. My favorite uses for chickpeas are falafel and hummus.

Chickpeas are high in protein and iron. They are also a heart healthy food which can help lower your bad cholesterol (LDL) and your overall cholesterol if eaten as a regular part of your diet. Chickpeas can also aid in weight loss due to being high in fiber and having a low Glycemic Index which helps control blood sugar levels. Chickpeas are a great way to get the mineral manganese in to your diet. Manganese helps aid the body in energy production. According to, just one cup of garbanzo beans supplies 84.5% of the daily value for this mineral. states that one cup of cooked chickpeas contain 15 grams of protein, 13 grams of dietary fiber, 4 grams of fat and 0 grams of cholesterol.

So now that you know more about the chickpea and the advantages of adding it your diet, maybe you won’t skip over it the next time you visit your favorite salad bar. Also try the following recipes and you may find a new favorite food to share with your friends and family:

Super Simple Hummus
Even Better Hummus
Crispy Roasted Chick Peas

The Benefits of Light Exercise

Everyone knows that exercise is an important part of losing weight and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. However, the amount you actually need may be a lot less than you think. Recent studies have shown that even light exercise can produce significant health benefits. This is great news for those of us who don’t enjoy exercising. Personally, I have a great deal of trouble motivating myself to do any sort of structured exercise, so it was great for me to learn that most of the benefits gained by engaging in strenuous exercise cana also be enjoyed by taking part in lighter exercise, like walking or casually riding your bicycle.

One particular study suggests that simply walking about 30 minutes a day for five days a week can:

  • Lower your blood pressure,
  • Lower your cholesterol,
  • Lower your risk of heart disease
  • Lower your risk of diabetes.
  • Improve your mental health by relieving stress and reducing anxiety.

This data reinforces our philosophy that you don’t need strenuous exercise to be healthy.
People who live in the Mediterranean and Asian cultures that we are studying typically don’t do any organized exercise, but light exercise such as walking are just natural parts of their daily lives. To them, this isn’t work, or effort, or something they feel they need to do – it’s just how they already live. Since I have been walking my dog every day, it has become such a part of my routine that I would feel very strange not to do it. It doesn’t feel like an effort or a chore, it’s just part of my routine.

So, in short:
You don’t have to exercise a great deal to reap the benefits of exercise. Simply spending about 30 minutes a day exercising is good enough to get most of the benefits. While 30 minutes a day won’t help much with actual weight loss, you will get the bulk of the other benefits associated with exercise.
You don’t even have to exercise strenuously. You don’t have to do any sort of exercise that feels like ‘work.’ You don’t have to go to the gym and hop on a treadmill, lift weights, do jumping jacks, push-ups or squats. Don’t get me wrong – there are wonderful health benefits associated with strenuous workouts. The point is: you don’t have to do hardcore workouts to reap many of the benefits.
This type of exercise can be incorporated into our daily routines easily. Walk your dog a little farther. Walk to the corner store instead of driving. When you go shopping, park at the far end of the lot instead of finding the closest spot. Small things like this add up, and you will get your 30 minutes a day in no time.

Just half an hour light exercise is easy to do, easy to fit into your schedule, and provides a wealth of benefits. But one thing I always recommend is to track your results – at least until you establish your routine. I use a free app called Runkeeper on my phone. I simply tap a button every time I go for a walk and it tracks my time and distance and allows me to set goals. Other people recommend the fitbit, a wearable device that you can attach to your wrist that also tracks your progress. You could also simply log your walks with a pen and paper. The point being, when you track your data, you are making yourself accountable.

Learn more about the benefits of light exercise here:


Disclaimer: We are not doctors or nutritionists. We are simply sharing what has worked for us. Any decisions you make regarding your diet or lifestyle based on information you read on this website are ultimately your responsibility. We make no guarantees about the effectiveness of this lifestyle. You should not make any dietary decisions without consulting your doctor or dietician first.