Archive for January 2015

Improve Your Brain Power with a Mental Workout

24 Hours logoQuick, what’s your sibling’s cell number? When is the date for your next haircut? What’s the password to your online banking? No, I don’t actually want to know any of these things! But, do you know the answer without checking your phone, calendar, or personal computer? Many of us use many tools to record items that we’ll need to know, but find hard to remember. And, that mental quickness can diminish with age. But there are things you can do to keep yourself sharp, as discussed in my most recent 24 Hours article Give your body a mental workout.

 

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Treating depression, anxiety, stress with wonder

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s easy to feel wonder and awe when looking at, listening to, feeling, or tasting something new, unusual, or unique. I have had the opportunity to visit many awe-inspiring and wondrous places, both natural—like the Serengeti and Kilauea Volcano—and man-made—like Gaudi’s Familia Sagrada and Machu Picchu. That feeling of “wow!” that grabs your attention is undeniable.

But how often do we feel wonder in our normal everyday lives? The other day I was driving to yoga when I had one of those moments. It happened spontaneously, that feeling of wonder, about something that I do on a near daily basis. I felt wonder about the fact that I was moving a heavy metal object with me inside of it with just the push of a pedal and a turn of a wheel.

This was nothing new, unusual, nor unique, and yet there it was—wonder. If you think about it though, it is pretty amazing, and there are plenty of wondrous things around us if we care to look. One of the benefits of looking for elements of wonder in our day is that it brings our attention to the present moment. We need to slow down for a bit to notice. And, along with wonder is often a feeling of gratitude for just that experience.

In this fast-paced world of nose-in-phone, short-attention-span living, taking these moments becomes even more important to help us bring balance to our lives. Feelings of stress, anxiety, depression, sadness, fear, worry, anger, frustration, detachment, and loneliness can be managed. It’s hard to feel those emotions at the same time as experiencing a feeling of wonder.

The moment I had was not planned—I was not trying to feel awe. It just happened. We can, however, cultivate this by setting aside a brief time to stop, take in some deep breaths, and observe. Pay attention to nature, animals, people, and even your own body so that you can notice some of the things that are amazing. Then allow yourself to really feel that feeling.

Every day I see people at my clinic who are overwhelmed. I would like to prescribe a daily dose of wonder.

 

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Happy Husband Roasted Vegetable Chowder

After my husband separated his shoulder 2 days before New Year’s eve, he was feeling a bit down–he was in pain and not able to do his regular activities. And, since he is normally our cook, that left me to prep meals. I needed something simple that would last for at least a couple of meals, so I found this soup. Turns out my husband loves this soup! Cheered him up and he said it’s now his favourite soup of all time. 

Happy Husband Roasted Veggie Chowder
Serves 5
Vegetarian, dairy-free, gluten-free
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Ingredients
  1. 1 sweet potato, diced
  2. 1 yellow-fleshed potato, diced (I used 4 small potatoes)
  3. 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  4. 1 onion, diced
  5. 1 cup (250 mL) sliced cremini or button mushrooms
  6. 1 cup (250 mL) frozen or fresh corn kernels
  7. 1 Tbsp (15 mL) coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
  8. 2 garlic cloves, minced (I doubled this, as I like garlicky and it's good for cold and flu season)
  9. 4 cups (1 L) vegetable stock (not sodium-free)
  10. 1 - 14 oz (398 mL) can full-fat coconut milk
  11. 1 1/2 cups (350 mL) cooked chickpeas (I used rinsed canned ones)
  12. 1 Tbsp (15 mL) lemon juice
  13. 1/2 tsp (2 mL) sea salt
  14. 1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground black pepper
  15. 1/4 tsp (1 mL) grated nutmeg
  16. 1/2 cup (125 mL) finely chopped fresh parsley (I missed out on the parsley, but later added sauteed Swiss chard)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C)
  2. Toss all veggies in oil and roast on rimmed baking sheet for 25 minutes
  3. Transfer roasted veggies to a large pot
  4. Stir in stock, coconut milk, garlic, chickpeas, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
  5. Bring to a boil
  6. Reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 25 minutes.
  7. Before serving, stir in fresh parsley (or sauteed Swiss chard or kale).
Adapted from Allison Day, RHN; Alive Magazine
Acupuncture, TCM, natural health, Vancouver, BC http://www.activetcm.com/
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