Will Sleep Help Us Better Solve the World’s Problems?

Will Sleep Help Us Better Solve the World’s Problems?

This article was originally published on Thrive Global.

So here’s the big idea I think will shape 2017: sleep. That’s right, sleep! How much and how well we sleep in the coming year — and the years to follow — will determine, in no small measure, our ability to address and solve the problems we’re facing as individuals and as a society.

While our need for sleep has been a constant throughout human history, our relationship to sleep has changed throughout the centuries. And right now, we’re in the middle of a sleep deprivation crisis, with devastating effects on our health, our job performance, our relationships and our happiness.

In 1942, only 11 percent of us were getting by on less than six hours of sleep per night. Today, 40 percent of us get less than six hours (which is probably one of the reasons for the roughly 60 million prescriptions written every year for sleeping pills). And the toll is high — Sleep deprivation costs the U.S. economy an estimated $63 billion each year. Unfortunately, the costs don’t stop there. In the U.S., drowsy drivers are involved in 328,000 accidents each year, 6,400 of which are fatal.

What we need is nothing short of a sleep revolution. And the good news is, there is evidence all around us that this revolution is actually in its early stages, with the potential to reach new heights very soon.

In every industry and sector of society — in business, in schools, in medicine, in sports, in the arts — more and more people are recognizing the importance of sleep.

Even in finance, the boiler-room of burnout, change is coming. For example, Goldman Sachs has banned interns from staying in the office overnight. And it’s coming from the top: Business leaders including Campbell’s Soup CEO Denise Morrison, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini have all spoken out about how they prioritize sleep.


Those at the leading edge of the sports world have discovered that sleep is the ultimate performance-enhancing drug, with only positive side effects. Roger Federer says that if he doesn’t get enough sleep, he’s just not right on the court. Even the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, knows the value of slowing down. “Sleep is extremely important to me,” he says. “I need to rest and recover in order for the training I do to be absorbed by my body.” And more and more professional teams, in every major sport, are employing sleep experts.

Technology, of course, is a big part of both sides of this story.

From our incessant work demands to being physically tethered to our blue-light emitting, melatonin-suppressing devices, we’re all familiar with how technology can make it harder to sleep. But the answer to the challenges of technology isn’t no technology, it’s better technology. So we’re seeing the emergence of technology that serves us instead the other way around: wearable technology, smart devices, “the internet of things  — technology that, instead of telling us about our world, tells us about ourselves.

Sleep allows us to connect with a deeper part of ourselves. Because when we’re asleep, all the things that define our identity when we’re awake — our jobs, our relationships, our hopes, our emotions — are quieted. And this makes possible one of the least-discussed benefits of sleep — a small miracle really — and that’s the way it allows us, once we return from our night’s journey, to see the world anew with fresh eyes and a reinvigorated spirit . Sleep allows us to step out of time and come back to our lives restored.

After my own collapse from sleep deprivation, I became an all-out sleep evangelist. And sleep became a key part of HuffPost’s DNA. We launched our dedicated sleep section in 2007 and recently partnered with Sleep Number on a sponsored section, Sleep + Wellness, furthering the conversation on sleep as a public health issue and all the ways it can enhance our lives.

I’m confident this will be the year when we collectively renew our relationship with sleep — in all its mystery and all its fullness.

Direction Is Everything

Direction Is Everything

Small steps create exceptional results despite seeming meaningless. Do you know their secret of success?

They enable you to effortlessly change your direction.

People most often look at the size of their actions (or intended actions), but the direction you’re currently headed in is far more important than that—so much so that if you only thought about your direction and pivoted when necessary, you’d do very well in life.

  • When you’re on the couch watching TV, you’re pointed towards more mindless relaxation.
  • When you’re lying in bed, you’re pointed toward sleeping more.

Now let’s say you wanted to change activities in those two examples:

  • On the couch watching TV, you could either:
    • Consider the logistics of going for a run
    • Get up and put on your running shorts
  • In bed, you could either:
    • Think about your day ahead and wonder if you need to get up
    • Roll off the bed

In each case, the latter actions are superior because they are fast and easy to do and they change your direction. Once your direction changes, so does your most likely path moving forward. The first options in the examples above were all thoughts, and the reason we do that so much is out of habit; a sort of “check” against our best judgment.

Should I really get up now? I might benefit from more sleep.

I’m not sure I should run today as it might rain.

The problem with doing this is that you play right into your old habits; you cede control to your subconscious. Being that our subconscious already has preferences that are usually counter to our goals, it’s inherently dangerous to “consult with yourself” for each small decision. You’ll think you’re making a smart decision, when your subconscious is actually causing you to justify inaction. When you know a decision is obviously healthy, it’s best to turn your brain off.

I don’t mean to make the subconscious seem like our enemy—it’s a vital part of us—it is merely the enemy of change. The subconscious thirsts for stasis. It wants the proven actions and rewards that it’s already most comfortable with. When you have a healthy running habit, this is a huge benefit! When you have a procrastination or laziness habit you want to change, it’s a flat out war with your own brain!

Challenge: Think In Terms Of Direction Today

Today, I want you to think less about what you want/need to do and think more about changing direction into a better place. Anytime you feel stuck, think about quick and easy actions you can take to change your direction. If you’re motionless, you don’t have a direction (or your “direction” is to stay put); all you have to do is get up and you’ve already changed your direction.

Earlier, I mentioned how the subconscious can manipulate our desires into wanting to live the way it wants, but it can’t manipulate you when all you’re doing is changing direction. Small direction changes are not significant enough to argue against.

People think that mini habits are all about small steps, but the underlying concept is practicing direction change. Having a mini habit means you’re pivoting and changing direction into a healthy behavior at least once a day. This explains how a mini habit can be too small because the action has to be big enough to change your current direction. One push-up is big enough because it puts you in push-up position on the ground. Writing one word is NOT enough because it can be done in a flash without thought (but my 50 word mini habit works great to point me in the direction of writing more!).

Experiment: Hand Someone A Dead Leaf

One of my favorite things to do is hand people things for no reason. I know I’m weird. Try it though!

Pick up a dead leaf from the ground, extend your hand toward someone like you want them to take it, and they will probably take the leaf from you (with a confused look on their face). This is a funny demonstration of how the brain likes to “complete” processes. People have been handed things thousands of times in their lives, so when you extend your hand, part of their brain instinctively wants to complete the transaction, even without a good reason (and even though they’re super confused about it).

In the same way, when you point yourself in a healthier direction with a small step, you activate your brain’s bias to take further steps in that direction. It feels weird for me to only do one push-up because I have a habit fragment of doing at least 5-10 push-ups; it’s activated once I’m in push-up position. Take heed, for this concept of direction change is effective and applicable across all areas of your life:

  • When you’re mad and arguing, a small apology or comment can change the trajectory of your conversation
  • When you’re feeling lazy on the couch, pushing the leg rest down can be the start of doing something active
  • When you’re in line and feeling impatient, saying hi to the person in front of you or thinking about how lucky you are to be at Chipotle can change your mood and ripple beneficially throughout your day (seriously though, I waited 30 minutes for a burrito bowl)
  • When you don’t know what to write, forcing out one sentence can get you started

If you can change your direction at will, you can do amazing things in your life.


This post was written by Stephen Guise at stephenguise.com. You can see the original post here.

30 Surprising Food Swaps that Will Immediately IMPROVE the Health of Every Organ in Your Body

30 Surprising Food Swaps that Will Immediately IMPROVE the Health of Every Organ in Your Body

Let’s face it, the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) is terrible. We’re led to believe that unhealthy foods are healthy simply because of the overuse of trendy “diet fads” and clever marketing.

I want to help make things simple for you, my friend. One of our talented writers recently wrote a post, which inspired this week’s Saturday Strategy. I want to show you 30 simple swaps to help you upgrade your plate and ultimately, upgrade your health!

You may already know some of these, while others may be new. I encourage you to give them a try and find the ones you like best. Get your friends and family involved and pick a day of the week to try a new recipe using a new “healthy swap” from this list. Then comment below and let me know which one you tried and how it turned out!

It’s hard for me to pick a favorite from this list because they are all so good!

1. Pasta < Spaghetti Squash

Eating spaghetti squash will help fill up your plate without adding a ton of calories. Each cup of the cooked squash contains only 42 calories – 2 percent of the daily calorie intake on a 1,500-calorie diet, or 1.5 percent of a 2,000-calorie diet. Due to the squash’s low calorie content, substituting spaghetti squash in place of spaghetti pasta dramatically reduces the calorie content of your meal; substituting a cup of squash in place of pasta saves you 179 calories. If you normally eat spaghetti once a week, the calorie difference in switching to spaghetti squash translates to 2.5 pounds of weight loss over the course of a year.

Each cup of cooked squash contains approximately 10 grams of total carbohydrates, including 2.2 grams of fiber.

One cup of squash contains vitamin A, several B vitamins, as well as vitamins C, E and K. In addition, spaghetti squash provides a source of the essential minerals calcium, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium.

>>> check out this amazing recipe here

2. Skim Milk < Almond, Hemp or Coconut Milk

Skim milk is fortified with synthetic vitamins to replace those lost in fat-removal and milk solids to replace the protein and calcium lost in processing. Just one cup of skim milk contains 90 calories and 12 grams of sugar.

Opt for unsweetened almond, coconut or hemp milk. The calories will be cut in half and without any sugar. They also won’t contain the nasty additives found in dairy milk.

>>> check out this recipe to make your own at home

3. Soy Sauce < Coconut Aminos

There is a lot of misinformation out there about the health of soy. One thing’s for sure though, unfermented soy has been shown to be a hormone disrupter, particularly an estrogen mimicker. It’s recommended that people with autoimmune disease or any sort of endocrine system imbalance (thyroid, hormones, adrenal glands) avoid soy because of it’s thought-to-be negative affects on the body.

Instead, opt for coconut aminos, which are just a tad sweeter than soy sauce, without the soy or wheat that soy sauce contains.

The most notable benefit of coconut aminos is its impressive amino acid content compared to soy-based sauces. Commonly described as the “building blocks of protein,” amino acids are vitally important to human health. They contribute to the repair and rebuilding of muscle tissue, help to enhance overall brain and nervous system function and assist in boosting the immune system and physical energy levels. Second only to water, protein is one of the most important substances in our bodies, which is why it is nutritionally beneficial to consume a diet that is rich in amino acids.

46-Benefits-of-Coconut-Oil

4. Agave Nectar (refined sugar) < Raw Honey

Though most health food stores carry it, the trendy sugar substitute, agave nectar, shockingly contains 70 to 80 percent fructose, which is more than what’s found in high-fructose corn syrup. Most agave is laboratory-generated super-condensed fructose syrup, without any nutrients.

Raw honey has anti-viral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. It promotes body and digestive health, is a powerful antioxidant, strengthens the immune system, eliminates allergies and is an excellent remedy for skin wounds and all types of infections.

12-Amazing-Beauty-Benefits-of-Honey

5. Gatorade (or any energy or sports drinks) < Coconut Water + Organifi

It’s better than a sports drink. Dubbed “nature’s Gatorade”, coconut water is a natural isotonic drink that provides many of the same benefits as formulated sports drinks, including the electrolytes calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium and potassium, but in their natural form.

Organifi is loaded with antioxidants, adaptogens and phytonutrients to keep you energized, alkalized and invigorated all day long!

6. Sugar-Laden Latte > Organic Black Coffee with Butter or Coconut Oil

While the “foofy” espresso drinks are delicious, they pack a ton of empty calories, including massive amounts of sugar. Coffee is also a large GMO crop, so to avoid those nasty pesticides and chemicals, opt for organic beans.

Instead, of your daily grande, low-fat, vanilla latte with a dash of cinnamon, opt for organic black coffee with butter or coconut oil. You can even add some vanilla stevia for an extra dose of flavor.

Coffee often gets a bad rap when in fact, quality coffee consumed in moderation can have some great benefits.

It’s high in antioxidants. A study published in the journal “Plant Foods for Human Nutrition” found the antioxidants in coffee decrease oxidative stress in the body and therefore reduce risk of diseases like cancer and reduce inflammation in the body. Another study, published in the “Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism,” found coffee may help to prevent and treat diabetes by lowering blood sugar levels after meals.

Adding good quality fats helps eliminate sharp spikes in dips in energy, promotes healthy cognitive function and helps stabilize pH levels.

Your-Body-on-Coffee

7. Margarine < Butter or Ghee

Margarine is nothing more than chemicals, sugar and dairy and is created in a lab. There is nothing natural about margarine. It’s made from trans fat, which is known as the artery clogging fat. It also increase LDL levels (the bad cholesterol) and lowers HDL (the good cholesterol).

Butter or ghee (which is clarified butter), on the other hand, packs some great nutritional value!

Butter is a great source of vitamins A, D, E and K. Trace minerals are found in butter such as manganese, chromium, zinc, copper and selenium, which is a powerful antioxidant. Butter contains more selenium per gram compared to herring or wheat germ. What’s more, butter is also a great source of iodine.

The fat in butter is great for your immune system and boosting metabolism. (Fat doesn’t make you fat, sugar makes you fat!) It’s also great for skin health and cognition.

Butter contains Wulzen Factor – This is a hormone like substance with many functions. It can prevent stiffness in the joints, as well as arthritis. It is also responsible for ensuring that calcium is deposited in the bones rather than in the joints. Note that the Wulzen factor can only be found in raw butter and cream.

Ghee is just butter with the milk solids removed, making a it a great option for those unable to handle standard dairy.

Always opt for organic to avoid hormones!

Why-Butter-is-Good-For-You-591x1024

Thank you BulletProofexec.com for the great graphic

8. Sugar < Cinnamon

Sugar cause inflammation and inflammation causes disease. It’s really that simple.

sugar infographic

Cinnamon, however, is full of amazing benefits, plus it’s so good! Ceylon cinnamon is the “true” cinnamon and the one you want to look for when shopping at the market.

It is high in a substance called cinnamaldehyde, which is responsible for it’s positive effects on health and metabolism. Cinnamon contains large amounts of highly potent polyphenol antioxidants. In a study that compared the antioxidant activity of 26 spices, cinnamon wound up as the clear winner, even outranking “superfoods” like garlic and oregano. It contains anti-inflammatory properties, which may help to lower the risk of illness and disease. Cinnamon has been shown to significantly increase sensitivity to the hormone insulin. Cinnamon has been shown to both reduce fasting blood sugar levels, having a potent anti-diabetic effect at 1 to 6 grams per day (or roughly about 1/4 teaspoon to 1 and 1/4 teaspoons).

The smell of cinnamon increases cognitive function by 15%!

The-Health-Benefits-of-Cinnamon-Sticks

9. Bread < Collard Wrap

Bread is full of sugar and carbs, which don’t help if you’re trying to lose weight.  Aside from that, it’s often cut with a ton of unnecessary ingredients for shelf life and naturally contains gluten (responsible for the chewiness in bread.  The majority of the population has some sort of intolerance to wheat/gluten simply because of the way it’s been over-processed. These factors often lead to digestive and skin issues, not to mention brain fog and potentially chronic illness and disease.

Collards are a great upgrade and are not only really tasty, but they’re loaded with nutrients. They are part of the cruciferous family and are said to have cholesterol lowering ability. They are chock-full of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, K, C, manganese, fiber, calcium and B vitamins.

The-Benefits-of-Leafy-Greens

10. Sour Cream < Greek Yogurt

Baked potatoes, creamy dips, tacos… sour cream is great! But you know what’s better for you? Greek yogurt!

Greek yogurt contains beneficial bacteria, good for gut and immune health. Of course, if you are someone who cannot tolerate dairy, stay away from yogurt and instead, try organic kefir. While this is technically still dairy, the amount of beneficial bacteria has been shown to actually help reverse lactose intolerance, making it easier to assimilate and digest quality dairy products. Always buy organic.

11. Store Bought Salad Dressings < Olive Oil & Apple Cider Vinegar

These contain so many ingredients, like filler and added sugar.  Instead, drizzle some olive oil and ACV instead, maybe a sprinkle of celtic sea salt and you’ve got a  great – and easy – dressing!

10-Benefits-of-Apple-Cider-Vinegar

12. Iceberg Lettuce < Spinach, Chard, Kale, Romaine

The best thing about iceberg lettuce is it’s water content. Aside from that, there is not a whole lot of value to this barely green veggie (sorry, Iceberg). Choosing greens that are dark and vibrant pack a much more nutrient-dense punch, providing your body with tons of vitamins and minerals to fuel you towards optimal health.

13. Cheese < Nutritional Yeast

Though many people can tolerate dairy, we must emphasize again that dairy creates inflammation in the body and is also mucus-forming. Try sprinkling nutritional yeast on items you’d typically sprinkle cheese on.   Sure, it won’t give you the ooey-gooey texture of cheese, but it provides a very similar flavor and nutritional yeast contains B12 which, in addition to it being a “complete protein,” means it contains all the amino acids we must get from our food. It’s also low in fat and sodium, is free of sugar and gluten and contains iron.

 

unnamed

Thank you Healthyeaton.com for the great graphic

14. Soda < Anti-Anxiety Drink

This soda – or “pop” – alternative is not only REALLY good, but it helps reduce anxiety, relaxes the body, aids in regular digestion and provides mineral support that your body craves.

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

>>> get the recipe here

15. Banana < Avocado

Bananas are great and provide a creamy texture in smoothies. But for those looking for a lower glycemic option, avocado provides the same creaminess and are a great source of vitamins K, C, B, E, folate, potassium (more than bananas!) and healthy fats, so great for metabolism, brain, heart and skin health as well as immunity.

1 avocado = 3 bowls oatmeal, fiber-wise!

Benefits-of-Avocado-1024x1024

16. Granola < Steel Cut Oatmeal

Granola is often full of added sugars, which increase inflammation and cause a slew of other health issues. Steel cut oats are rich in dietary fiber and are low glycemic, making them a great choice for diabetics as they help keep blood glucose levels stable. The soluble fiber in oats may also affect blood pressure levels. They also keep you full longer, decreasing the chance of overeating.

17. Egg McMuffin < Veggie Scramble

Ditch the carb-loaded muffin and cheese and load your super-nutritious eggs with veggies, which boost your overall health from a cellular level.

Eggs are a great source of vitamin A and B, folate, selenium and protein. Be sure to eat the WHOLE egg, as most of the nutrients are in the yolk, while the protein is in the white. Both parts are important, my friend!

Contrary to popular belief, while eggs are high in cholesterol, they do not adversely affect blood cholesterol. Cholesterol in the diet doesn’t raise cholesterol in the blood.

 

A-Guide-to-Egg-Carton-Labels

They’re also a great source of choline, an incredibly important nutrient that most people don’t get enough of, which is used to build cell membranes and plays a role in producing the signaling of molecules to the brain and other bodily
Egg-Yolk-Contains-and-Benefits

18. Alfredo Sauce < Vegan Pesto

Cream based sauces pack a ton of calories, sodium and the obvious, dairy (typically from conventional cows). Pesto is a great upgrade, using nutritional yeast in place of cheese – don’t worry if you’ve never heard of this. Once you use it, you’ll be hooked, just like me.

A friend of mine made this for me the other night on top of salmon and it was delicious! She said it was super easy too and I believe her. I can’t wait to make it myself!

 Vegan Pesto

Ingredients

  • 2 cups lightly packed fresh basil
  • ½ cup raw, unsalted pine nuts
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 3 Tbs. nutritional yeast
  • Sea salt and fresh pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Blend all ingredients in a food processor and store in an airtight container up to 5 days. Enjoy on fish, chicken or as a dip for veggies.
Notes
Image Source: Choosing Raw

19. French Fries < Sweet Potato Fries

Potatoes get a bad rap. There’s nothing wrong with potatoes, in moderation. But sweet potatoes are where it’s at when you’re looking for a nutrition powerhouse in the carb community!

Sweet potatoes are high in vitamin B6, which helps reduce homocysteine in the body, which has been linked to disease and heart problems.

How-Sweet-Is-A-Sweet-Potato

They’re also a great source of vitamin C, contain vitamin D and iron and provide magnesium – a mineral that roughly 80% of the population are deficient in, often unknowingly.

And while they are sweet, their sugars are released slowly into the bloodstream, helping to keep blood glucose levels balanced, providing a good source of energy without spikes and dips.

20. Conventional Beef < Grass-Fed Beef

Skip the hormones and chemicals and opt for a pure, organic option. Full of protein, vitamins and minerals, grass-fed beef is an easy option to add to your families menu.

 

Health-Benefits-of-Grass-Fed-Beef-682x1024Grass-Fed-vs-Grain-Fed

21. White Rice < Cauliflower Rice

This cruciferous veggie has been linked to cancer prevention due to it’s nutrient support to 3 body systems closely related to cancer – detox system; antioxidant system; and inflammatory/anti-inflammatory system. Imbalances in any of these systems can increase the risk for cancer, but this awesome veggie supports them all!

>>> here’s an easy recipe

CauliflowerHealth-Benefits

22. Potato Chips < Kale Chips

Trans fats are at the core of those addicting, salty, potato chips. Ditch them! For a healthy upgrade, grab some kale chips instead, which contain protein, fiber, vitamins A, C and K, folate and omega 3 fatty acids. The best part is, you can season them however you’d like! Use nutritional yeast for a “cheesy” flavor, or cayenne for a little punch.

>>> here are some easy kale recipes

How-To-Make-Kale-Chips

23. Cheese and Crackers < Apple and Nut Butter

Why not ditch the typical American snack and try something with more fiber and protein that will keep you full longer, give you the sweet and salty flavor you love and be good to your waistline!

>>> click here for how to make your own almond butter

24. Snack Bar < Handful Raw Almonds

Most of the store bought bars are nothing but sugar, gluten and fillers. Instead, grab for a handful of raw almonds, which will tide you over until your next meal while keeping your mind sharp and your blood sugar balanced.

The-Ultimate-Guide-to-Nuts

25. Conventional Dairy < Kefir

Added hormones, yuck! Conventional dairy is full of it as well sugar. Kefir though, is full of beneficial bacteria to support a healthy gut and immune system. It can even help those with lactose intolerance begin to tolerate lactose again!

Try organic goat’s milk kefir with turmeric powder! This drink is anti-inflammatory and so good!

26. Croutons < Toasted Nuts

Packed with heart-healthy fats, protein, vitamins and minerals, toasted nuts are a no brainer atop salads. Some nuts are healthier than others, some of the best options being walnuts (brain health), almonds and Brazil nuts (a great source of selenium).

27. Ice Cream < Frozen Banana

This is one of the easiest swaps! Peel and chop 1 banana (or more) and lay on parchment paper on top of a cookie sheet. Freeze. Once frozen, add to a food processor alone or with cacao powder and blend. Enjoy immediately (doesn’t freeze well).

Plus, bananas are a great source of potassium, which is said to decrease the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.

They’ve been said to help with depression due to high levels of tryptophan, which is converted to serotonin – the “happy”, “feel good” neurotransmitter in the brain!

Fun fact: 95% of your serotonin is stored in your gut so keeping your gut healthy makes you happier!

They’re great for energy, may help reduce muscle cramps and PMS symptoms. They’re also great if you’ve got diarrhea, as they are soothing to the digestive tract and provide electrolytes to aid in nutrient absorption.

The-Benefits-of-Bananas

28. Canola Oil < Coconut Oil

Canola oil is made from the rapeseed and  is one of the highest GMO crops, making it a terrible choice when it comes to cooking your super healthy food in! Coconut oil is a superfood in its own right, as it packs a powerful punch when it comes to all the nutrients it contains. Containing beneficial MCT’s – medium chain triglycerides – coconut oil is a great choice for cooking with as it can be heated at any temperature without becoming rancid (one of the very few oils that can say that!).

Coconut oil can help you BURN MORE FAT (you read that right!) and increase energy expenditure by as much as 5%.

It’s considered an anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory and can improve blood cholesterol levels as well as potentially lower the risk for heart disease.

This healthy MCT oil is great for brain health and immunity!

For those of you  following the recent controversy over the AHA press release that claims coconut oil isn’t healthy, check out this more holistic response piece!

29. Milk Chocolate < Dark Chocolate

Milk chocolate = sugar and dairy. Whereas dark chocolate – over 70% cacao – is actually good for you! Quality, high cacao chocolate contains fiber, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese and other minerals. It’s full of antioxidants, which protect you from free radicals – one of the things that lead to disease. It’s also thought to be good for your brain!

Milk-Chocolate-vs-Dark-Chocolate

Dark-Chocolate-vs-Milk-Chocolate

30. Cake or Cookies < Fresh Fruit with Cacao Nibs and Coconut Milk

Gluten, sugar, dairy – you know by now if you’ve been watching and/or reading my info for a while now that these 3 components are no-no’s in my book. They lead to inflammation, disease, gut troubles, decrease immunity, increase brain fog and for many, cause skin issues and so much more

Health-Benefits-of-Blueberries

Grab some antioxidant rich berries, a handful of cacao nibs and a splash of unsweetened coconut milk and you’ve got yourself a sweet treat, without the guilt!

As you can see, there are a lot of upgrade options to your common foodie favorites. And these are only the tip of the iceberg, my friend. Commit to your health and swap some of your not-so-healthy habits for 1 – or more! – of these. You don’t have to incorporate them all. Try 1 and add more in as you’re ready. Consistency is key in cultivating healthier habits and over time, it will come naturally!


You can see the original post here.

How To Trust When You’re Troubled

How To Trust When You’re Troubled

Some of you are facing what could easily be called an unsolvable problem. It’s you I hope to encourage today. Often the situations with no human answers form the basis upon which God does some of His best work.

This is illustrated beautifully in the life of Job, who, in my opinion, is a living example of unsolvable problems. Job’s biography includes a clipboard full of questions about suffering.

Is God fair? Is this situation just? What is a person to learn when going through deep waters of suffering?

In Job, we have a unique and rare look within the veil of heaven and behind the scenes on earth.

The LORD said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.” The LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.” (Job 1:7-8)

What would God say about you if He were to address Satan right now and tell him about your life? “Have you considered _______,” and then He calls your name. As he describes you, what would He say? With some of you, it might fit very closely to what He said about Job—“blameless and upright.”

Job’s life was a wonderful model of courageous living. Job trusted God in the good times. Now the scene was set to determine if Job would trust God in humanly impossible situations.

The next chapter of Job’s life is a dark one. He endured loss like few have known. His home . . . destroyed. His family . . . perished. His health . . . ruined. His finances . . . wiped out. His friends . . . questioned his godly reputation.

In the long process of working through his questions and struggles, Job finally resolved to trust God—no matter what. He had worshiped. He had humbled himself. He had sat in silence. He finally responded to his wife, “I accept what God has sent. I have accepted good, now I accept adversity.” Read that once more. It is the secret of his stability.

I find three real reasons Job could respond like this. First, he looked up and was comforted by God’s sovereignty. He saw more than God’s actions; he saw His heart. He accepted what God gave and took away. He saw God’s sovereign love, and he said to his wife, “Should we not receive both without question?”

Job also looked ahead and was reminded of God’s promise. In chapter 19, Job said,

“I know that my Redeemer lives, / And at the last He will take His stand on the earth.” (19:25)

Job was reminded of God’s promise that at the end all will be made right. Looking ahead, he felt spurred on.

Lastly, Job looked within and was shaped by God’s instruction. Job 42:6 states that he looked at his life, and he repented “in dust and ashes.” He saw that God had instructed him in his suffering and illness as in no other way. He said, in effect, “Lord, for the first time, I honestly can say, ‘I give myself to You as never before.’”

It’s a courageous thing for a believer to give himself to a sovereign God while facing impossible situations. Perhaps that’s exactly what you need to do right now. I recall what a wise and surrendered person once prayed:

Lord, I am willing to receive what Thou givest. I am willing to lack what Thou withholdest. I am willing to relinquish what Thou takest. I am willing to suffer what Thou inflictest. I am willing to be what Thou requirest. Lord, I’m willing.

My friend, if your days have been difficult and nights have been like a tunnel, dark and long, find your comfort in God’s sovereign control and everlasting love. Your Savior knows your breaking point. The bruising and crushing and melting you are enduring are designed to reshape you, not ruin you. Your strength and courage increase the longer He lingers over you. Remembering Job’s secret can make all the difference.


Adapted from Charles R. Swindoll, “How to Trust When You’re Troubled,” Insights (February 2002): 1-2. Copyright © 2002 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. You can see the original post here.

11 Ways You Never Thought to Use Your Waffle Iron

11 Ways You Never Thought to Use Your Waffle Iron

Back away from the Bisquick, friends, because your waffle iron can do a lot more than make waffles.

By creating additional surface area, and applying a high temperature to it, a waffle iron produces new textures and flavors, crisping starches like rice or potatoes and caramelizing vegetables and fruits.

Just as a waffle’s myriad compartments hold syrup and butter, other foods similarly benefit when it comes to salsa, pesto and other toppings.

Altering the shape and topography of food doesn’t change its nutritional properties. This accords with the principle of “TITO,” or “Twinkie-in, Twinkie-out.”

Still, waffling your foods adds a fun twist to familiar favorites as well as reinventing leftovers.

1. VEGETABLES

A waffle iron is great for cooking veggies such as zucchini and other squash, eggplant, peppers and asparagus. Slice about 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick, toss with olive oil,  kosher salt and cook for 3–5 minutes. Asparagus stalks 1/2 inch in diameter or skinnier work best. Go really green by making  these waffle iron kale chips.

2. FRUITS

Any firm-fleshed fruit suitable for grilling can also be tossed on a waffle iron.  Stone fruits, apples, pears, figs, pineapple and even plantains work well.

3. QUESADILLAS

You might wonder if the waffle maker will punch holes in a quesadilla. The answer: not really. Instead, it  makes little waffle-shaped tortilla pockets of cheesy goodness. A round waffle maker is probably better than a square one, but it’s hard to see how you’d go wrong either way.

4. OMELETS

For each omelet, beat two eggs plus two tablespoons of milk, stir in chopped onions and peppers, pour onto a waffle iron and cook until the eggs are set. Is it an omelet? Is it a frittata? You decide.

5. MUFFINS

Waffles are basically muffins anyway, though muffin batter is a little thicker and usually sweeter. Still, any muffin recipe will cook up in your waffle iron. Pour it in, close the lid, cook until steam stops coming out. Leave it in a little longer if you want a more crispy bite. Keep a sheet pan underneath your waffle iron to catch any spills.

With this in mind, you can see how a waffle maker would also be great for making banana bread,  carrot cake and even brownies.

6. HASH BROWNS

Hash browns and other grated root vegetables offer a wealth of waffle iron opportunities. Shred potatoes and cook for about 15 minutes on a waffle iron brushed with melted butter to produce  waffled hash browns. Combine with beaten egg for latkes. Change the flavor by substituting sweet potatoes for some or all of the potato or use  other root veggies like carrots, parsnips and turnips. Shred something else entirely, like zucchini, and bind together with milk, flour and grated parm to make fritters.

7. TATER TOTS

Some people may say these are simply another form of hash browns, but I beg to differ. Skip the grating and fill your waffle iron with tater tots for a crunchy delight.

8. GRILLED CHEESE

The grilled-cheese variations alone, when you consider the innumerable combinations of bread, cheese and other ingredients, are simply staggering. Here’s one example, another and another. I’d be inclined to make a grilled-cheese sandwich using two leftover waffles as the bread.

9. FALAFEL

Falafel is usually pan- or deep-fried, but when you make a waffle falafel, the only oil necessary is cooking spray. Bonus points for using a round waffle maker, since falafel shape matches round pita bread.

10. POTATO

Whole potatoes, baked or microwaved until tender first, take on a fabulous browned exterior in these waffle whole potatoes. Use red potatoes, yellow or Yukons.

11. REPURPOSE LEFTOVERS

There are a lot of leftovers that take on new life in a waffle iron. A short list: leftover fries, leftover pizza, leftover mac & cheese, leftover mashed potatoes, leftover stuffing, leftover fried rice, leftover risotto, leftover polenta, and leftover meatloaf.


This post was written by Danilo Alfaro myfitnesspal.com. You can see the original post here.

Remember I Am With You Still

Remember I Am With You Still

Even when you are stuck in times of brevity, when you do not have sufficient time to devote to the things which matter most in your life, I am there. Though you feel I am distant from you in every way, understand and remember, I have never left you. I will never forsake or forget about you, for you are my Beloved. And though you are busy with your day to day activities, I am there with you even still.

So do not feel discouraged, or that you are unable to sit before me in my presence. For even though you are busy, and active, and productive, I am there with you, and we are sharing all these things together. For you suppose that only in times of strict meditation, times of strict prayer, times of literally sitting still and doing nothing, are you able to receive and share with me. But as you continue to grow in my presence, and experience the never-ending love and fellowship in our union together, you will come to the understanding that nothing can ever separate you from my love – not even your busyness.

So while it is good for you to sit before me, and allow yourself the luxury of single-minded devotion, do not feel as though I am distant when you are not able to allow for this kind of extravagant time together. For even in your busyness I am there. Even in your work, in your stress, in your worries and fears and irritations, I am still there with you, and will never leave you.

So when you feel stuck, and unable to sit in quiet silence, remember I am with you still. I am near you even then. I am with you always, even to the end of this age.


This post was written by Neil Vermillion on neilvermillion.com. You can see the original post here.

Why Anyone Can Be Confident

Why Anyone Can Be Confident

Studies show that people who are moderately overconfident benefit from it. The reason? They act according to their overconfidence, which brings them more opportunities to meet that standard. Others may have a more realistic point of view, which acts as their ceiling.

Thinking realistically isn’t even logical anymore. A guy tightroped across Niagara Falls. A blind man scaled Mt. Everest. People have been doing unrealistic things forever. So maybe realistic doesn’t actually mean realistic. Maybe realistic means average.

You can see there’s a benefit in having confidence and even overconfidence, but confidence is only possible if you’re amazing, right? Wrong.

What Does Confidence Require?

These are common excuses people have for not being confident:

  • But I’m overweight
  • But I’ve never done anything impressive
  • But I have acne
  • But I have a disease
  • But I don’t make enough money
  • But I’ve never acted confidently before
  • But I’m shy

What do these all say? I’m not good enough as is.

People have these ideas of what they need in order to be confident, but that’s not the right perspective. And I don’t mean that in a self-helpy way of “you’ve got to believe in yourself!” I’m saying you don’t need any of those things to be confident.

To be confident doesn’t require you to be a superstar; you don’t have to be attractive; you don’t have to be employed; you don’t have to be anything but yourself. Confidence should be everyone’s default demeanor, because everyone has the right to be confident about who they are right now, even if they have areas to improve.

General Confidence Does Not Require Specific Confidence

Too often, we see confidence as derivative of someone who’s “got it goin’ on.” That’s so misleading! Confidence only means that you’re comfortable in your own skin. That’s it. If you let the world pressure you into thinking you need to be someone else, that’s the precise moment you lose confidence.

The reason we think this way is because many people derive their general confidence from areas of specific confidence. For example, someone who is very attractive will have specific confidence in that area, which will likely fuel greater overall confidence (especially in a superficial society). Sports stars and famous actors will fuel their general confidence from their success in their field. Big success in an area only makes general confidence easier, it’s not a requirement.

This is seen everywhere, so most people believe in the formula: if I could only  ____, then I would be confident! 

Now, I’m not denying the validity of that. It’s absolutely easier to be confident when the world sees you as someone special.

What I am denying is that it’s the only way or even the correct way to derive confidence. Basically, confidence is assuredness in something. I’m confident in my ability to play basketball, and not confident in my ability to play guitar. The confidence that matters most is confidence in your identity—how confident are you as a person in general?

All people can be assured of themselves by accepting who they are. That’s a simple, powerful truth. Nobody can challenge your confidence in being who you are and living accordingly because nobody knows you like you know yourself. This is great because now your confidence isn’t based on anything flaky like how many compliments you get or if you feel ignored; it’s based on your assuredness that you are [INSERT YOUR NAME HERE]; it’s about your value as a unique person.

This provides an interesting challenge for someone interested in personal growth. If you’re always focused on improving yourself, then you might make the mistake of feeling “incomplete” in your identity until you reach that next level. As great as it is to improve, if you habitually feel like your current self isn’t enough, you won’t enjoy life as much.

The ideal is to accept who you are and maintain a growth mindset; then you’ll invest in your future and improve in areas that matter to you, while also recognizing your merits and right to be absolutely confident in yourself today.


This post was written by Stephen Guise on stephenguise.com. You can see the original post here.

Persistence Breeds Success

Persistence Breeds Success

If you want to better your life and attain your goals then you need to strengthen your power of persistence. Everyone has a persistent streak inside of them. The problem is that this streak is not as powerful as you had hoped for. If you find that your persistence diminishes fairly quickly there is hope for you!

It is so easy to talk about wanting success and to lead a better lifestyle. It’s simple to complain about all the things that you don’t have in your life. Instead of complaining why not put your energy and effort into actually getting all of those things you so desire?

The first step in improving your persistence is to actually starting thinking with a positive mindset. Whenever you start to think in a negative manner or start to say the words ‘I can’t do that’, stop and think for a moment. What exactly is it that you can’t do? Or is it merely that you don’t want to do the task?

Many times it is the latter that is the real reason. When you find yourself thinking in this way ask yourself why. Is the task at hand really too hard or are you tired and just have had enough of it?

When you can overcome this way of thinking you will be more than halfway to becoming a persistent person. While it is fine to take a break from a task you should never totally give up. Sometimes taking a break is all that is needed. Once you have had the time to re-energize you are ready to tackle the job again.

A persistent person is some who doesn’t give up and when the going gets tough they look for ways to handle the situation. As you complete any task or accomplish a goal you will feel proud of yourself. This boost in your self confidence will help make you a more successful person.

For this reason you want to set small goals, or break down larger projects into smaller segments. This way each portion is attainable and will help keep you motivated. This applies to many different types of situations including learning a new skill, working on a repair at home or dealing with an unexpected event.

The next time you feel like giving up, don’t. Instead think of the way you will feel when the task is completed and then shoot for the moon and persist until the job is completed.


This blog was originally written by Mike Martel for Achieve the Green Beret Way and the original post can be found here.

26 Healthy and Portable Mason Jar Meals

26 Healthy and Portable Mason Jar Meals

Only a few years ago, mason jars were pretty much strictly for canning. Now, most likely thanks to social media, they’re as trendy as green juice and coconut oil. Sure, they can house wedding centerpieces and tiki torches, but even better: They make portable, portion-control meals a cinch—some don’t even need a second of cooking! Plus, hello food porn! Who knew salads looked even more appetizing stacked?

But don’t worry if you don’t feel like you #nailedit on the presentation. Taste buds know that it’s what inside that counts, and these recipes are sure to please.

Breakfast

This beaut calls for grilled peaches to up the sweet ante, though fresh work just as well in a time-crunch. Layered with nutty quinoa, creamy Greek yogurt, crunchy pecans, and soft blueberries and drizzled with maple syrup, it’s a symphony of textures so delicious we’d make it for dessert too.

Mason jar breakfasts aren’t all layered parfaits, oats, and chia seeds. Hearty combinations like this one work just as well, making eggs portable without putting them on an English muffin or bagel. Instead, toss in a jar with bacon, spinach, and cheese, and nuke in the microwave for a speedy, healthy meal.

Turtle chocolate lovers, this one’s for you. If you’re not familiar with the sweet, it’s a delightful combo of chocolate, caramel, and pecans mixed together. This a.m. meal keeps it healthy with medjool dates as a surprisingly perfect stand-in for caramel, plus cocoa powder, unsweetened almond milk, oats, and of course the pecans. Decadent and delish!

Gotta love a recipe that doesn’t require cooking. Oats and chia seeds soak up milk, vanilla, and cinnamon overnight to make a thick pudding-like treat. Alternated with Greek yogurt, berries, and chia seeds and topped with granola come morning, this nutritious meal takes just minutes to put together and is perfectly portable. Take that, Mickey D’s.

Who says frittatas have to be fancy? This recipe takes a little longer to make, but it’s worth it for the combination of eggs, kale, potatoes, sausage, and cheese in a cute mason jar. Kale is a superfood, too, so this one has some added nutritional bonuses.

Can’t go wrong with the classic: fruit, yogurt (try goat yogurt, which has less sugar than yogurt make from cow’s milk), granola (we recommend homemade to control the sugar), and bananas. Mix protein powder into the yogurt for extra flavor, and switch up the other ingredients based on what’s in season and what you want!

With this basic recipe, you can wake up to a delicious breakfast with a good amount of protein in a different flavor every day! This blog lists 20 flavors including cherry almond, papaya coconut cashew, and strawberry pumpkin seed!

Despite the slew of oat recipes out there, morning mason jar options for Paleo eaters do exist. This one takes an omelette of sausage, sweet peppers, cheddar cheese, and mushrooms scrambled with plain yogurt and bakes everything in the jars. Make a few and have breakfast set for the week.

Waking up with chocolate is approved when it’s this healthy and balanced. Yet it’s so creamy and rich thanks to chia seeds, yogurt, and soaked oats, it tastes like a treat. Top with extra bananas, walnuts, and honey, and it’s ready to go.

That’s right—flapjacks to go! Made with real ingredients (including almond butter, apple butter and whole wheat flour) rather than prepackaged mix, this version cooks in the microwave and is all the light, fluffy, fruity goodness you expect off the griddle. Plus the jar makes for easy portion control since a stack of pancakes can go down pretty easy.

Salads

Zucchini noodles with a Greek yogurt-avocado dressing—what’s not to like? Mixed with red bell pepper (which has more vitamin C than an orange), tomatoes (for lycopene), buttery edamame, crunchy celery, and salty feta and olives, if you’re not drooling yet, there’s something wrong with you!

With fewer calories, less fat, and the same amount of protein as ham, we’re not sure why we didn’t think to put shrimp in a cobb salad before. There’s still the cheese, egg, and bacon in this recipe, plus a variety of vegetables that can be adapted as you like.

The breakfast fave takes a walk on the savory side in this recipe that’s loaded with flavor, texture, and nutrients. We’re talking chickpeas, raisins, cucumbers, olives, tomatoes, walnuts, pistachios, and mint, with a Greek yogurt-based ranch dressing to bring everything together. Warning: This will inspire you to experiment with other fun ways to try savory yogurt!

There’s something about fruit in a salad that gives it an exotic feel, and this version is no exception. With avocados, black beans, corn, and cilantro, this colorful, fiber-packed salad has a Tex-Mex feel with a little added sweetness. You can add some of your favorite fruits (like mangoes!) or veggies to personalize your portable meal.

Rice-shaped orzo is actually pasta. This would make a nice picnic dish that’s lighter than traditional pasta salad yet hearty. The minty dressing goes beautifully with the veggies.

The trick to great mason jar salads: Add the dressing first so it sits on the bottom and doesn’t get the other ingredients soggy. The peanut dressing here adds a nice kick to soba noodles (which are often gluten free but not always, so read labels), edamame for protein, and crunchy veggies. Best of all, this salad will keep for up to five days in the refrigerator.

We’ve got a thing for zoodles, so naturally we fell for this portable recipe. The name seems long and intimidating, but it’s really not that many ingredients, and the Thai-inspired coconut-avocado-lime dressing is creamy, tangy, and addictive. Add quinoa, coconut, vegetables, and feta, and it’s a healthy dose of flava.

Rather than layering fresh mozzarella, tomato, and basil on a plate, put it in a jar! Bocconcini—fresh balls of the cheese—are perfect here, but thinly sliced mozz works too. Pour phytochemical-rich olive oil and balsamic vinegar over top, and mangia!

What’s better than a Greek salad? An on-the-go Greek salad. Layer lettuce or another leafy green atop your favorite Greek dressing. Add chopped carrots, cukes, celery, and red onions. Top it all off with feta cheese, pine nuts, and olives and pretend you’re on the Mediterranean Sea.

Comfort Food

Just when you thought mason jars couldn’t get better, here comes pumpkin mac and cheese. And if you love cheese as much as we do, you’ll appreciate how using a jar makes figuring out the proper serving size no worries! Feel free to sub gluten free or whole wheat noodles for a healthier option.

Why make a massive pot pie when you can make individual portions instead? Using store-bought pie crust and leftover chicken cuts down on prep time, plus these can be frozen to have on hand for nights when comfort food is all that will do. (Just be sure to let the jars come to room temp before placing them in the oven, otherwise the glass may break!)

Get the taste of an avocado roll without needing Japanese chef-level skills with this deconstructed sushi jar. Anyone can handle alternating sushi rice (flavor with soy sauce so you don’t have to tote a bottle with you) with all the fixings—carrot, cucumber, avocado, nori, and pickled ginger. Don’t forget the wasabi!

Who needs Ramen (which has 52 percent of daily recommended max for sodium, plus half of its fat is saturated) when you can make a homemade version just as quickly? Assemble seasonings, rice noodles, and veggies—cabbage, spinach, bean sprouts, and watercress all work well—in a jar, then add hot water when lunch time comes.

Eat your heart out, Chipotle, because now it’s easier than ever to make your own burrito bowl. Quinoa takes the place of rice and partners with chicken for a protein-filled meal, while Greek yogurt takes the spotlight from traditional sour cream. Add or subtract your favorite vegetables, though we love the unexpected addition of sweet potato.

Pasta dishes are delicious—but it’s often impossible to nail the portion size for one. Mason jars to the rescue! This simple recipe combines pesto, tomatoes, basil leaves, and mozzarella for a quick dinner on the go. You can whip up some homemade pesto too if you’re feeling fancy.

Another classic, feed-the-soul recipe turned into a portable, portion-controlled meal. This cornbread chili recipe is full of beans, veggies, and corn and makes for the perfect crafty winter dinner.

Note: Use caution (and oven mitts!) when baking with mason jars. After removing them from the oven, let cool completely before screwing on the lid, and refrigerate immediately.

Originally published December 2014. Updated February 2016.


This blog was originally written by The Greatist Team for Greatist at greatist.com and the original post can be found here.

Projecting Confidence – Even If You Don’t Feel It

Projecting Confidence – Even If You Don’t Feel It

That old saying, “Fake it ‘til you make it,” has never been more meaningful than when dealing with confidence issues. Confidence is the most important personality trait you can develop in order to better deal with life’s transitions – both personal and professional – and to take risks to ensure your continued success. Some ways to project confidence, even if you don’t feel it, include:

  • Be optimistic – Do you see the glass as half-empty or half-full? If you see the glass as half-empty, you’re likely not an optimist and could experience feelings of low self-worth and doubts. Seeing the glass as half-full places you in the “optimist” category and shows that you look for opportunity rather than failure.
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously – When you allow yourself to loosen up and enjoy life, you’re more relaxed in demeanor and most people find that refreshing. Most of us have to deal with stress and intense situations every day, so to be around someone who can relax is a real pleasure and can garner admiration.
  • Pay attention to others – Making eye contact and listening intently to those you’re engaged with is a must when attempting to project confidence. If you constantly look around the room or up at the ceiling when you’re conversing, you seem less trustworthy and less like someone who demands admiration.
  • Dress the part – Whatever you want to succeed at in life requires a certain look. Want to rise to a CEO level in your company? Stop dressing in jeans and t-shirts. Show others – with your looks – that you’re ready to step into the position, even if you’re much lower on the ladder.
  • Watch your language – When you speak, speak clearly and watch your own language to be sure you’re not using buzz words or contradictory language or interject phrases such as “you know…” That’s referred to as “conversational clutter” and should be avoided at all cost.
  • Accept and give compliments – Accept compliments about your accomplishments gracefully and give compliments to others when warranted. Accepting compliments show that you realize the value in what you’ve done and giving compliments show that you consider yourself a good judge of character.

Projecting a certain amount of confidence, even when you don’t feel it, shows that you’re ready to meet challenges head-on. Sometimes, we don’t yet have the knowledge or skills it takes to perform at the top of the game, but you can project determination and enthusiasm to meet the challenge.


This blog was originally written by Mark Martel for Achieve The Green Beret Way at achievethegreenberetway.com and the original post can be found here.