Mushroom Quinoa Steak served with fresh Pesto on Baked Aubergine

I frequently enjoy replacing ordinary meals with vegan or vegetarian deliciousness. I actually eat more vegan food now than anything else. Why? Because it tastes amazing and is so good for my health.

The other day I had made both, so the family could choose what they wanted – to my surprise ALL, even the teenagers helped themselves to the vegan dishes! And there I was, stuck with the meat which I had to chuck……… imagine!

I thought, really? But yes!
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This is one of the dishes that win over meat in our family.

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U-Turn

During my recent visit in Denmark I heard about a very interesting study concerning lifestyle related diseases like diabetes 2, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, stress, depression, etc.

The study aims at finding out whether it is possible to reverse lifestyle related diseases? Ie., once we suffer from these diseases,  is it possible to make a  U-Turn? And can that be done by simply changing ones own lifestyle?

The experiment, U-Turn, has been started by Chris MacDonald, a Cand. Scient in Human physiology, originally from the USA, but has been living in Denmark for the past 14 years. He is the founder of Health in Balance and Strong Body Strong Mind.

Chris has been coaching and guiding numerous people back to health with very positive results and continues to be a tremendous inspiration to Danes every day!

U-Turn is an experiment that is being documented by the Danish National television. Over a period of 6 months, Chris MacDonald is guiding the 8 participants, all suffering from lifestyle related diseases such as, type 2 diabetes, stress, depression, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and metabolic syndrome.

The program includes daily training, physical exercise, healthy food, getting a good sleep, along with support and emotional coaching.

Half way though the program the participants will go to France and hike the GR10, a hike that takes them thorough the French Pyrenees, a 850 km hike with considerable elevation, a very strenuous hike!

(Photo source National Geographic)

Throughout the experiment participants are closely followed by doctors from a Copenhagen hospital, to keep them safe, to monitor their well being and their need for medication.

Chris  MacDonald and his team want to see what happens to sick people when you ask them to eat healthy, walk every day and be physically active and minimize negative stress. What happens to them over a 6 months period of time?

Will they feel better? Will they be able to reduce or even eliminate their need for medication? Will they be able to reverse disease and return to great health?

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food – Hippocrates

So far, the National Television has produced 4 programs that have broadcast, taking the viewers along on the journey with the 8 participants and documenting the results they achieve. These programs cover the first half of the experiment.

It’s blood, sweat, tears and laughter – it’s amazing to see the courage, dedication and the victory! 

The participants have been monitored at the hospital when the experiment started, during and half way thorough. The results are astounding:

  • They lost weight
  • They lost dangerous body fat around inner organs
  • Achieved normal blood sugar levels
  • Lowered cholesterol
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Reduced stress
  • Reduced liver counts
  • 3 participants no longer need medication/
  • the rest have been able to reduce the amount of mediation significantly
  • They are of course in much better shape

I think the message is powerful.

Lifestyle changes are the strongest most effective medicine!

I am looking forward to following the experiment and I will report back to you, when it finishes.

Lifestyle related diseases can be reversed and healed by lifestyle changes!

Walking is man’s best medicine – Hippocrates

Can you lower your hereditary cholesterol? Naturally?

Yes, absolutely you can!

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I never thought it would be, because my doctor told me –

“young lady, you have the hereditary kind of high cholesterol and that means no matter what you do, you will never be able to lower it naturally. The only way for you is medication.” 

So, for the past 10-12 years, I have been on statins – every single day I popped a pill, to help me to keep a low count on my cholesterol.

However, other health problems inspired me into changing my lifestyle.

And today, I can celebrate 3 years with normal cholesterol levels and no medication!

So does that mean you need to be on a really restricted diet? No desserts, no streaks on the BBQ, no butter, no cheese, no life…….no fun ?

Nope – I eat everything and I have lots of fun!

Even cream cake

Even cream cake

So how do I do it?

It’s really simple and if I can do it, so can you!

(Please don’t go off your medication without talking to your doctor!)

This is how I do it:

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  • I shifted the balance on my plate. So 80% of what I eat is plant-based. This means 80% of what I eat is vegan, plant-based, green leaves, lettuce, salads, spinach, kale, nuts, seeds, lentils, grains, roots, all kinds of veggies, and lots of fruit.
  • I eat plenty of food that contains natural cholesterol lowering agents, like nuts especially walnuts and almonds, oatmeal, berries, avocado, fish, tomatoes, etc.

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  • 20% is whatever I like to eat – it can be anything.
  • Every day I exercise, except for one day of rest!  45 min. to an hour! Yes I know, you don’t have time! I didn’t either, but you can find time! Exercise is brutally important when it comes to lowering cholesterol naturally. I get up earlier in the morning. I wake up and have millions of excuses for not going, but I tell myself that I only have to tie my shoelaces, get out and run to the end of the curb. If I still don’t like it, I can go back home……. but it has never happened, once I am out there, once I have taken the first breath of that beautiful morning air, the last thing I want is to go back home.
  • Meditation – When we are stressed and tired we are more likely to make unhealthy choices, eat fatty foods, drink too much etc. Also research shows that the release of stress hormones can damage the blood vessels, so plague sticks more easily. I find mindfulness meditation is a great way to unwind.

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A great article about food writer Mark Bittman and his concept VB6 – Vegan before 6 

Stay tuned for the VVP – The Virtual Vegan Potluck, taking place this Saturday! 160 + bloggers will bring their delicious food to the virtual party 🙂

Cycling in Wonderful Copenhagen

Nyhavn Copenhagen

Nyhavn Copenhagen

Hi from Copenhagen – my favourite city! I am visiting and loving every minute!

One of the first things you will notice when you come to Copenhagen is that there are bikes everywhere – people on bikes everywhere. Everyone

bikes!

Bikes everywhere

Bikes everywhere

You see men in business suits, polished shoes, briefcase and all, snipping through the streets. You see women in high heels, skirts and shades, moms and dads on cargo bikes with little ones comfortably placed in the front. No matter the weather – come rain or shine – even in the coldest winter, people bike.  All ages, dressed up, dressed down, all going somewhere, pedalling through the streets.

Happy cyclist

Happy cyclist

It all adds to the charm and vibrance of Copenhagen.

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Yesterday I saw a very handsome gentleman biking trough the streets of Copenhagen. No hands on the handlebars and casually texting away on his cell as he rode.

Unfortunately I wasn’t fast enough on the camera to catch him.

This bike outside the Supreme Court – perhaps parked there by a lawyer or judge…..

An old guy

An old guy

We Danes are crazy about biking – we don’t bike to stay fit, primarily. We bike because it is much more convenient, much easier to get from point A to B, and easier to park. Perhaps a basic reason is that parking a car in Copenhagen is a nightmare – it’s almost impossible to find parking and it’s terribly expensive.

April last year opened a super highway for cyclists –

To encourage long distance commuters to take the bike and thereby

  • Reduce CO2 emission
  •  Promote Health
  • And Happiness

The highway is 11 miles long and runs from the suburb into the centre of CPH.  If you drive 12 miles pr hr during rush hour, you are guaranteed a green light.

The plan is to make 26 super bike highways like this – a total of 186 miles. Super effective bike highways – a haven for cyclistst!

Read and see more about the SUPER HIGHWAY for bikes in a great article from New York Times.

Bike lanes of course

Bike lanes of course

Denmark aim at being carbon nutral by 2025 .

Many Danes simply give up their cars because biking is SO much easier, faster and safer – in the city!

On the bike lane there are airpumps every mile, footrests for bikers, handlebars to hold onto at traffic lights, even tilted wastepaper baskets to make it easier for cyclists to throw away garbage…… Ren Kœrlighed til København – Clean Love to Copenhagen.

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1/3 of all trips in Copenhagen are made by bike.

Its faster and more convenient – on top of that, it makes you healthier and ……. happier – maybe this is one of the reasons why the Danes are considered the happiest people in the world?

Nyhavn

Nyhavn

Copenhagenize – is a concept and a very cool organization that promotes safer, faster and better biking infrastructures in the cities. They travel the world to spread the message ” Copenhagenize is possible everywhere” 

This month is National Bike Month check it out here

  

Spinach Grapefruit Smoothie

Smoothies for breakfast, as part of lunch, as a snack, before dinner – smoothies for any occasion ……..

But smoothies have also become THE number one “Fast Food” in our family. In a hurry, on the go, no time to cook or even eat – no problem, spin up a smoothie and away you go. Quick, nutritious and satisfying!

Today I made a green smoothie with spinach and grapefruit. I love grapefruit, but for 12 years I wasn’t able to have grapefruit! I was on cholesterol medication and something in grapefruit doesn’t mix well with that kind of medication.

Since I changed to “balanced living” and added lots of plant-based foods to my diet and started exercising, I no longer need medication to control my cholesterol!

There are, as you can imagine, many benefits connected to that – one great one is, I can enjoy grapefruits again 🙂

Grapefruit

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Spinach and Grapefruit Smoothie 

One bunch of fresh spinach

2 grapefruits

One bunch of red or green grapes

1 banana

1  slice of fresh ginger

2 Medjool dates

2 cups of filtered water

Ice

Put it all into the blender and blend into a refreshing, smooth, cool and delicious drink.

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I hope you will Enjoy it !

Now to something completely different…..

Monday I travel back to Copenhagen to spend some time with family and friends. I am SO excited!

I will try to post while I’m away so stay tuned….

To travel is to live – Hans Christian Andersen

When I come back I will be attending THE FAMOUS AMAZING VIRTUAL VEGAN POTLUCK – on May 11.!

This is such a fun event! If you would like to join the fun by featuring one of your favorite vegan/plant-based recipes, there is still time to sign up here – otherwise – stay tuned for the event on May 11.

Thank you for dropping by, for reading and for commenting!

Happy Sunday!

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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Self-Acceptance

Self-acceptance is one of the most important cornerstones of emotional and physical health. If we don’t accept ourselves and value our needs and emotions, it will stress our body and deeply affect our well-being.

It’s so easy to find beauty in other people, to honor them and be kind to them. But to do the very same thing to ourselves, can be very difficult. Few people have learned how to accept and appreciate oneself and for the most we are not even aware of how unkind and hard we can be to ourselves.

Compassion and kindness starts within ourselves – the more compassionate and kind we are towards ourselves the more caring and loving we can be to others.

“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection” – Buddha

I came across an amazing series and I would love to share it with you.

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Sounds True is a multimedia company that among many things offers free podcasts – with amazing teachers. It was founded by Tami Simon. She is a wonderful woman and an amazing interviewer, it’s a real pleasure to see her at work.

This particular series is called the “Self-Acceptance Project”.

Tami Simon explores the important questions: “How can we befriend ourselves?” and “How can we be kind to ourselves?”. She interviews experts and people renown within psychology and neuroscience, for example, capacities like Kristin Neff, Harville Hendrix, Geneen Roth, Brene Brown and many more.

It’s a 12 week video program, it has already started, but it’s possible to sign up and enjoy the previous episodes.

It’s such an amazing opportunity and it’s FREE.

Check it out and sign up here 

Enjoy!

Stop Shame-attacks

Shame is brutal  – it robs us of life and happiness. It undermines our health, self esteem and overall well-being.

While we are feeling shameful, it’s impossible to enjoy life. We bombard ourselves with hurtful self-defeating messages. Messages like; I am not good enough, I am hopeless, I can’t believe I am so stupid, I am a total failure………………..

It’ s like drinking poison for the soul.

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When we are feeling shame, we feel awful. We feel there is no hope for us. It’s like a never ending spiral of self-loathing and self-reprisal.

In psychodynamic therapy, shame is considered as a defense mechanism. A defense against emotions. Whenever we feel shame, there are emotions of anger, guilt and grief underneath.

“Before you diagnose yourself with depression and low self-esteem, first make sure you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes” William Gibson.

I use shame as an indicator, when I feel shame coming on, when I start to blame myself or be hard on myself. I know something is going on underneath and I remind myself to look deeper and ask questions like:

  • Was there something someone said or did that hurt me?
  • Was there something someone did or said that reminded me of something painful?
  • Is there a need I have not acknowledged and or expressed?
  • Are there feelings I have not acknowledged and or expressed?

 Shame is like turning anger inwards and we end up blaming ourselves with no mercy.

This causes tremendous stress and pain in the body. When we feel shame, we are much more likely to make unhealthy choices that undermine our health and even feeds the shame.

We don’t talk about it, we keep it to ourselves and bottle it up.

We may drink, take drugs, binge, over -work, or sit in front of the computer to numb out the painful feelings of shame. We are caught in a spiral of shame.

What we really need most of all when we are caught in shame is:

  • First of all notice what is going on and that shame is at play.

Then we need:

  • Empathy and compassion
  • Self-compassion
  • To share it with someone we trust. Someone who will listen with compassion and without judgement.

Dr Brene Brown is a researcher of vulnerability and shame. She is an author of 3 wonderful books. I recommend them all!

1. The Gifts of Imperfection

2. I thought it was just me

3. Daring Greatly

Her messages about shame and vulnerability are profoundly important.

The last 2 Sundays she has been interviewed by Oprah on Super Soul Sunday.

Watch the first episode here

and the second episode here

I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Hate Exercising?

Do you hate exercising? Or do you find it impossible to find time for exercising? And do you fail again and again getting into the routine?

Then this Ted talk is for you!

Danish professor Bente Klarlund has researched the benefits of exercise and the results have been so convincing that she, who loathes exercise herself, have convinced herself to exercise.

Get the old bike out

Get the old bike out

 

“Those who think they do not have time for exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.” Edward Stanley

Professor Klarlund says “people don’t ask me, when do I excercise too much, they ask how little can I get away with?”

The great news is that a little exercise goes a long way, a very long way! A little exercise makes a big difference!

Research shows that exercise protects against 35 disorders and diseases, type 2 diabetes heart disease, cancer and dementia, to name a few. There is even evidence that exercise can be used as treatment for these chronic diseases!

As little as 30 min walking a day will cut your chances of getting sick with 30% – 1 hours walk per day by half! And by running it is even better!

If you really hate exercising Professor Klarlund suggests

  • skipping the elevator
  • using walk and talk meetings at work
  • biking to work
  • walking to the baker for your daily bread

Even presumably insignificant changes can have a significant positive impact on your health. 

Check out her fantastic Ted Talk and find out more – it is very reassuring!

I wrote about Professor Klarlund in an earlier post “muscles reward exercise”

Unplug

Last week it was “National day of Unplugging ” did you know?

It went by without me having the slightest clue even of its brilliant existence. Probably while I was myself plugged in and most likely busy working online, tweeting, blogging, updating Facebook,   Unplugging Day came and passed me by!

Hmm, I asked my two gorgeous teenagers – “did you know it was National Unplugging Day, a few days ago?” No reaction – and not surprising – they didn’t know either.

But when talking about health and well-being, unplugging is crucial! We need to unplug and create space to slow down, be quiet and simply just be.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness

 

We need this quiet time to listen and tune in to our needs. Even though, the body is amazing, the perfect GPS, always reliable; it has to have the space to tell us what we need. It can tell us if we are happy and content, if we are stressed and out of tune. So often we look outside ourselves for the answers, but the best answers come from within. The body never lies it always tells the truth. But, it needs to be “unplugged” from the outer influences and given time to relay its messages.

Our happiness and health rely on us taking that time to tune in.

I remember when I trained to become a psychotherapist, part of my training was going through intense therapy sessions and I remember how difficult and humbling it was for me to try to answer the simple question “How do you feel?” – How did I feel? Really feel? I didn’t know!

The honest truth was, I was so used to, when asked that question, to say “fine” without ever actually feeling my body responses. It was a new experience to me to connect to myself, to listen to my body and then be able to answer honestly how I felt. An even worse question was “What do you need?” – Again, I honestly had no clue. That was painful!

It took time and practice to learn and relearn. We are born with the ability to feel and know what we need, but early on we learn to suppress those feelings – in order to fit in.

I am a great believer in creating unplugging moments, every day. But how do we do that in a world that is so plugged in all the time?

I have devised a set of unplugging strategies, that works for me:

  • Getting up 1/2-1 hr before everyone else to meditate, sip tea, write my journal (with a pencil), run, jog, or just sit.
  • Unplug over the weekend just giving myself time to hang out with the family, read good books, wear my gumboots and do gardening, hike, walk, feed the hummingbirds and generally just be.
  • Before bed some quite time for a hot bath, a good book, some journalling, a lit candle, some gentle music, an evening meditation.
  • Sitting still with a hand on my heart, closing my eyes, while asking my heart (not my mind) the questions “how do I feel'” – ” what do I need” and quitely wait for the answers.

How do you unplug?

Presence

Presence

Here are some great links to inspire you further:

http://www.expresswhoyouare.com/

http://zenhabits.net/