Soothe your Jet-lag and sleepless nights

I just returned back from Europe and the first couple of days with jet-lag were rough, to say the least!

9 hours time difference, really does you in and affects your entire system, in a big way! I felt completely out of balance…

Woke up at 1:30 in the morning and was hungry, started to unload the dishwasher and checked my email ……

I desperately needed to soothe that out of control jet-lag of mine!

Sleepless nights creates imbalance in the body, it affects our health and overall sense of well -being, but there are lots of different ways we can promote great sleep and regain balance again.

Jet-lag is always talked about as something we get when traveling thorough time zones. But really, we go thorough the exact same thing if you work shifts, if you have had a baby and need to get up to feed in the middle of the night or when we are simply stressed and just can’t sleep at night. Regardless of the reason it is important that we take time to really soothe that sleepless, tried and exhausted body of ours in order to get back in to balance and promote good sleep patterns again.

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I travel a lot and often experience jet-lag – so these are my favorite tips for soothing jet-lag and regain balance again:

  • I set the clock and go with the time it is where I am
  • I don’t nap or sleep during the day even though I am dead tired.
  • I spend time outside and get as much sunshine/ daylight as possible, as it helps to adjust to the new time zone.
A swim in the lake

A swim in the lake

  • I go to bed early (but not too early…)
  • I get up at the usual time
  • I quickly get back into the routines and follow the daily rythm
  • I exercise gently – a swim, a walk, a bike ride, yoga
  • I meditate
  • I drink lots of water
Fresh Cool Water

Fresh Cool Water

  • I drink green juice and/or green smoothies
Green and delicious

Green and delicious

  • I eat lots of healthy food to help my body restore, find balance and rejuvenate.
Balance

Balance

This mornings fresh green juice –

Refreshing green juice

Refreshing green juice

Red Kale, Apple, Ginger and Lemon Juice 

5 sweet apples

1 bunch of red kale

1 lemon

A small slice of fresh ginger

Wash and clean the apples and kale, peel the lemon and the ginger – run it all through the juicer and serve ice cold.

Sleep well

Sleep well

The Power of Relationships

If there is one thing in life that can completely create imbalance in our lives, emotionally and physically – it’s troubled relationships.

Relationships between our spouse, our children, our parents, our friends, co-workers, or our boss – any relationship out of balance has the potential to create havoc in our lives.

Relationships have a huge impact on how we thrive, our health, our overall well-being and enjoyment of life.

We are genetically wired for connection and we need connection, we need relationships to survive. So when our relationships are challenged we feel enormous stress, we feel threatened and our bodies suffer –  causing anger, resentment, guilt, sadness and pumping out stress hormones causing us to be on alert, a constant fight or flight mode.

Our relationships live in the sacred space between us, which is sacred – Martin Buber

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Continue reading

The power of music

This past week I have been reminded about the many powerful benefits music has on us. What a huge positive impact it has on our lives – Imagine a world without music! Music is in our lives in so many ways. When we listen to music, it awakes all kinds of emotions in us – joy and happiness, sadness and sorrow. Music holds memories and music speaks to the heart. It connects us in a special way.

Where words fail, music speaks – Hans Christian Andersen Continue reading

Daring greatly

We all strive to be happy and to live a fulfilling life. This means following your dreams, speaking your truth, daring to be authentic and stand up for who you are and what you believe in. Speaking your truth even though some may not like it.

That takes courage!

Courage – cour means heart in french. Courage means to listen to and follow your heart. Go out and do whatever it is you have to do to follow your heart, even when your knees are trembling and your heart is racing. That is daring greatly.

I know that feeling so well – don’t you?  When it comes I remind myself,  if I want to live a balanced fulfilled life I must, listen and I must dare.

When I am too scared to do it I really feel I am betraying myself and it creates imbalance, I feel discontent. Not that I always get what I go after, but I have to try.

Trying is a success in itself – because even if we fail, at least we tried. We feel the emotions that comes with failing, we let go and move forward.

“It is hard to fail , but it is worse never to have tried to succeed” Theodore Roosevelt

Dr. Brene Brown is a researcher of vulnerability and shame. When I think of courage I think of her. In her books she puts herself out there. She tells the world about her shame and her vulnerabilities and she shares from her heart.

Her new book Daring Greatly is about the courage to engage wholeheartedly in our lives. About embracing vulnerability and imperfections. About Daring Greatly.

“I failed my way to success” – Thomas Edison

Lets play!

I knew it – I’ve said it all along – play is a need! I feel the truth of it in the core of my very being – we need to play – as much as we need to be loved, feel connected, eat, drink and sleep – we need to play. But, seriousness reigns, it has taken over, work and duties rule the world.

We play when we are children, but as soon as we start school we are trained to sit still, put play aside, in order to learn to concentrate on more important stuff, like Math, Social Studies and English.

We are hushed and told to behave, we learn what is appropriate and what is not – and as we grow, sadly, play becomes more and more inappropriate. “You are too old for that! ” Play becomes a guilty pleasure taking our focus away from the “real” things in life, like work.

Dr. Stuart Brown, a researcher who has dedicated his life to the study of play and how play affects us, has found wonderful things about the importance of work, and so sorry: play! His research shows that play is good for us!

Kids do it, naturally. People in love do it, naturally. Animals do it, naturally. We all do it, naturally! But most of us work to suppress that part of us, many of us have actually forgotten how to do it and  become uncomfortable even thinking about it. The old messages come up – don’t be silly now – it’s not appropriate – don’t make a fool of yourself, and so on.

I am so happy I stumbled upon Dr. Stuart Brown and learned about his research on play. Play is a need.

At the moment I am devouring Dr. Brown’s book that is simply called Play. On the back of his book it says:

Play is fun, but it is anything but trivial. It is a basic biological drive as integral to our health as sleep and nutrition. When we play, we are open to possibility and the sparks of new insights. Play – defined as any kind of purposeless, all-consuming,restorative activity – is the single most significant factor in determining our success and happiness.”

I am sure he is right – if we don’t play there is an imbalance, there is something missing. I am sure you will agree with me that nothing heals like a good laugh, play makes us forget and we are in the moment, nothing else matters  –  it is food for the soul, and at the same time we connect with others and create bonds.

I hope you will enjoy this Ted Talk

The message is clear – LET’S PLAY 😉

More about the book,  http://www.stuartbrownmd.com/

Life is too important to be taken seriously – Oscar Wilde

Balancing life with mindfulness

I don’t know about you – but my meditation practice went down the drain as we got into summer with the kids being home, guests arriving, dog sitting, trips away from home and things going on all the time.

Meditation is one of those things that is as important to me as brushing my teeth. It is where I reconnect with myself, find balance, tune in to my core, listen to the songs of my soul and come home.

When I get out of my life-balance rhythm, I suffer and it leads to unrest in my body. As a result, I get stressed, I feel grumpy more often, feel restless. I get distracted and feel disconnected. I may overeat, convince myself I don’t have time to run or that I really, really need that bag of chips!

When this happens, I know it’s time for me to reconnect with myself, and one of the best ways I find, is mindfulness meditation.

In an earlier post I wrote about how meditation changes the brain – how meditation keeps us clam and grounded long after we finished mediating. It helps us stay calm and focused, even in stressful situations. The situation is very much like the way that running helps us to burn fat even in between runs and while resting, because our muscles have become a fat burning furnace. The same happens in the brain when we mediate – and even after just a short period of time it is possible to see changes in the brain. The propensity for relaxation becomes larger and it becomes easier to find back into the same peaceful place within, just as we experience during meditation.

I know that in beginning meditation may very well feel inside like Times Square during rush hour! It takes a while to find the calm and it is important to remember that meditation does not mean that the mind is totally quiet. As my mediation hero, Jon Kabat-Zinn, says: “If you have a mind, it is going to wander”! When the mind wanders and you start thinking about shopping lists, who is driving the kids to soccer, what you should have said to someone or should not have said, when you start telling yourself you will never learn to meditate and you don’t need it anyway – the trick is, to return to the breath – again and again, without judgement.

I have downloaded my meditations to my phone so I can hear them whenever I need them – 5 min, 10 min, 15 min 20 or 30 minutes meditations – voila no excuses.

The latest addition to my collection is a Mindfulness Meditation App – it has 4 guided meditations 3 min, 5 min, 15 or 30 min – it also has 4 silent meditations and a guided Body Scan. You can set it so that at certain times, it reminds you that it’s time to meditate. It can even poke you at certain intervals to remind you to be more mindful and allowing yourself to be exactly as you are – not escaping life as it is, but to be mindful in the moment.

For years I have used Jon Kabat-Zinn’s  mindfulness meditations and I never get tired of them

Here is a workshop Jon Kabat- Zinn gave at Google some years ago

Summer Infused Pizza

Frequent visitors to this site may notice a few changes. The “Happy Health” diet and exercise has become a part of the larger “Balanced Living” that I feel better describes my journey.

I realized that an important part of me had been missing: – the gourmet chef, my old recipes, my old signature dishes. The scrumptious food that is still part of what I eat.

Before getting into Happy Health diet & exercise – my life-balance was out of whack. I was eating rich food all the time and my body was suffering because of it. But with the new diet& exercise, my life-balance changed and it made a world of difference! I lost weight and gained energy. I now feel vibrant and full of life, my hereditary (bad) cholesterol is now normal and I’m off medication! I started to exercise more and I enjoyed it! My satisfaction with life grew as I could feel that things were “in-balance” again. These were just some of the amazing changes I have experienced, re-charging and re-balancing my life.  (See my updated “About” and the new “Balanced Living” page here).

Before Happy Health I had a 80/20 “balanced” diet – 80% rich gourmet food, meat, cheese, butter, cream etc and 20% vegetable, fruit, grains and nuts – Today I’m 20/80 – I eat 80% plant food and 20% of “anything”.  But, I still assure that the “anything” comes from the best sources – organic & honest!

I have been wonderfully inspired by New York Times food-writer Mark Bittman who created VB6 – Vegan before 6. Eating only plant- based foods until dinner, he then goes to work – and eats at great restaurants serving the wonderful food he writes about. And now, no longer does this rich food make him ill – because he is not eating it all the time! His balance was wrong. But VB6, vegan before 6, changed his balance and he is fit as a fiddle today. You can read more about Bittman  here

In our family, we have been inspired by VB6 and have even made our own version – VUF – Vegan until Friday.

Summer Infused Pizza

We love pizza – Pizza can be divine if it is made with real ingredients and kept simple.

This recipe is made from scratch with love and sunshine. Made with sunriped tomatoes, garlic and lots of fresh basil and oregano.

The pizza dough:

1 teaspoon of dry yeast – if you have fresh 25 g

2 1/2 cups of water

1 1/2 teaspoons of salt

1 tablespoon of olive oil

5 cups of organic unbleached flour

You will need approx. 2/3 extra flour when you work with it later.

Dissolve the yeast in the water, add the olive oil and the salt. Add flour a little at the time while you stir. Add all the flower while you keep mixing til you have a dough that has “accepted” all the flour, meaning no flour on the side in the bowl. Leave the dough out on the counter to rest, with a clean wet cloth. The longer the better – you can mix this in the morning or the night before and put it in the fridge.

Freshly made tomato sauce on pizza is the best – it is such a treat and you will never want to eat store-bought pizza sauce again, if you can help it.  Another important thing is – the nutritional value in freshly made sauce is priceless. Click to see, tomatoes are a true SUPER POWER FOOD – packed full of goodness and taste!

Tomato Sauce:

1200 g fresh ripe tomatoes (the more reder the better)

2 shalot onions

2 cloves of garlic

one big bunch of fresh basil

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

2 spoons of olive oil

dash of white wine

2 bay leaves

Wash and chop the tomatoes, chop the shalots and the garlic. In a frying pan add the olive oil, saute the shalots, bay leaves and the garlic, add the white wine let it reduce a little, add the chopped tomatoes – let it cook over slow heat till the tomatoes are cooked through. Add the chopped fresh basil and let it cook for another couple of min.

Add the mixture into the blender and blend it into a smooth sauce. Taste with sea salt and freshly ground pepper – the sauce is ready to go on the pizza.

I make a garlic/herb/chili olive oil marinade to drizzle on the pizza – and by adding some fresh arugula or any other lettuce on top of the pizza, you will get a divine mouthful!

The garlic/ herb/chili marinade is made from – olive oil, finely chopped fresh oregano, slices of red chili,fresh garlic some sea salt – I make a good portion, often I make it ahead to allow it to infuse the oil, to make it more intense. You only drizzle a little on top – so any leftovers are perfect for preparing vegetables, frying fish or chicken – or as a drizzle on your favorite anything.

Fresh herbs are so full of goodness!

Now to the actual pizza making.

Add some flour onto the counter and pour out the dough – add some more flour on top of the dough and start to work with the dough, needing it and stretching it. It will be ready when it stops being sticky, add flour until it feels elastic and is easy to work with. I use a rolling-pin to roll it real thin – add it to a hot baking stone or to a baking tray with baking paper.

Now add the homemade tomato sauce and sprinkle with grated Grana Padano, fresh mozzarella cheese and some good olives. Bake in a hot 420 F oven until baked and the crust is right. Keep an eye on it!

You can prepare smaller pizzas directly on the barbecue – with or without cheese – this is really an amazing way to make pizza too!

Once the pizza is ready – cut them, drizzle a little marinade on top, add the arugula and serve with a great bowl of salad.

Enjoy!

p.S. I just found Pinterest, I know I have been living under a rock, but I will be signing up, it looks like fun! I realized that my photos were there! I am so happy, grateful and thrilled to see that some of you have pinned my photos – THANK YOU!! I was not even aware – gratitude, I really appreciate that!!

Muscles reward exercise

I found this very interesting interview with Professor Dr. Med Bente Klarlund Pedersen in one of the Danish newspapers, Politiken (the Danish Article).

Professor (Dr. Med.) Bente Klarlund Pedersen is the director of Copenhagen Muscle Research Center and her focus is on inflammation and metabolism(CIM)

Her results are very interesting to us looking to improve health and balance our lives. For example, her early research has shown that there is a connection between physical activity and the immune system.

She shows that our muscles are not alone making us capable of moving around, but work similarly to other organs producing hormone-like compounds – important for our overall health. She has shown that muscles work like vital organs setting “turbo-on” conversion of sugar and fat during exercise.

Another really interesting point that Dr. Klarlund has found is that in people who are not physically active, not only do their muscles deteriorate, but lack of exercise also makes them more prone to diabetes, heart disease, dementia, cancer, osteoporosis and depression. She is focusing her research to find out how inactivity can be connected to so many different lifestyle diseases.

Her basis research shows that muscles not only get messages from the nerves, but also communicate through many hormone-like compounds. Thus, muscles work like organs. Some of their research experiments with people paralyzed from the neck and down showed that by stimulating their muscles, they could achieve the same positive effects as if they had been exercising! Their bodies burned sugar and fat and they could even experience “Runner’s high” even though they were paralyzed and not physical active in any way.

In another experiment, they asked a group of people to limit their activities to walk a maximum of 1.500 steps a day – where 10.000 steps would be the norm. The results showed that lots of things happened – for example, they lost 1.2 kg muscle mass. They became insulin resistant which is the stage before diabetes. When they consumed fat, the fat remained longer in the body and built up around the inner organs – in just 2 weeks!!!

Her own 2 sons were part of the study and she explains how they, during the research, became irritable and short-fused. This gave her the idea to the next study she did. She teamed up with Neorospychologists to research how peoples’ focus and ability to concentrate changed when they didn’t get exercise. They are still collecting data but preliminary results show, as they expected, that it is more difficult to concentrate and focus when we do not exercise.

Professor Dr. Bente Klarlund Pedersen recommends a minimum of 1/2 hr of exercise every day. Some of her new research also points out that exercising helps to keep muscles stay younger for longer.

I find her research interesting on so many levels –  when it comes to preventing disease, how exercise affects our levels of concentration and our performance. I  find it fascinating to read about research on how exercise affects our emotional health and well-being.

Dr. Pedersen is currently researching marathon runners – she says she is fascinated by the extremes – to find the difference in the people who exercise a lot – and the people who do little or no exercise.

It is exciting to see what comes of her research.

Trying to stay healthy on the road

Here I am visiting Copenhagen – one of my favorite cities in the world and the place I was born. It is also the home town of Noma chosen as THE best restaurant in the world. Denmark is the “France” of Scandinavia and a mecca for amazing restaurants and gourmet food. Oh yes, and home of the famous Danish pastry!

Yes, you bet, temptations on every single corner!  On top of that seeing family and friends every day for lunch and being invited home for scrumptious dinners. So fantastic and at the same time so easy to make unhealthy choices.

So what to do?

For me it is about balance. I could say yes, and go out for fabulous meals at every mealtime. But I can also choose to meet for lunch at the local juice bar and join my friends for a delicious green juice. It is more about being together and green juice and socializing works  (surprisingly) well together!

If I drink a green juice and have some fruit for breakfast I get the nourishment my body needs and I feel content – content in a way that I can pass all the Danish pastries in Copenhagen without needing to eat them.

At the same time having met my needs for nourishment I can eat whatever I feel like eating for lunch.

I brought my jogging gear and a jogging tour through the old streets of Copenhagen is quite an experience a great way to see the city!

It is true it is difficult to stay healthy on the road but my biggest challenge is in reality ME. I am the one who can make healthy choices or unhealthy choices. I decide if I want to put on the jogging shoes and hit the road or stay home and eat pastries. I will do a bit of both I will also enjoy a Danish pastry and gourmet meals. Balance is the key for me.

How do you stay healthy on the road?

All or Nothing

It is kind of funny that when I tell people: “I eat Raw food and vegan plant-based food”. They usually look at me and say “but then you can’t eat meat or dairy products!” To which I answer: “Of course I can!” I eat everything and I don’t restrict myself – in any way. All I make sure of is that most of the food I eat is plant-based. I do this because I love the way I feel when I eat this way – I have clarity, energy, peace of mind, balance, and I feel content and healthy. Happy Health!

Our diets should be 80/20 alkaline/acidic. However, our typical ratio of acidic to alkaline food is 20/80! – just the opposite! Most of what we eat creates acidity in the body! Things like meat, cheese and milk products, processed food, white bread, soda, energy drinks, white sugar create acidity in the body. Stress also adds to acidity in the body. And, the more acidic the body is the more health problems we have! Disease thrives in an acidic environment! Eating plant-based food or a diet that is high in plant-based foods will make your body more alkaline and will also help to prevent and even reverse heart disease, lower your cholesterol, prevent diabetes. You will loose weight and/or maintain ideal weight, lower blood pressure, improve mental health, and countless more.
Plant foods promote health!

One of my heroes is the New York Times’ food journalist Mark Bittman. His life style lead him to sickness, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, he suffered from sleep apnea, had bad knees and weighed 35 pounds too much. His doctor suggested he tried a vegan diet – sounds like a joke, the man is a food writer 😉 But he had to do something so he invented Vb6! Vegan before 6 – meaning he only eats plant based food during the day until 6pm. In 3 months he had lost 35 pounds, his cholesterol went down and stayed down, “it solved everything” he says. He had so much energy that he started to jog & run – today he runs marathons! Vb6 – think about it!

We need to look differently at the way we eat and take action to save our lives – and the planet. See this Ted Talk, where Bittman talks about how we not only improve our health by eating plants, but we will also reduce our carbon foot print.