#75 Check for Vitamin Deficiencies

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#75

Check for Vitamin Deficiencies

When was the last time you had a physical? And in particular, did it include a thorough vitamin panel to check for deficiencies? Our bodies have a method for letting us know but when we don’t know the signs, we aren’t able to ‘hear’ what our body is saying. Some vitamin deficiencies can lead to extreme health problems – others can create chronic difficulties.

Here are the things to pay attention to:

Omega 3’s

Fatty acids are essential for our skin. They act as lubricants for our body and when we are low, we are likely to see flaky skin, especially on the scalp. Cracked and peeling skin on the hands and feet are also a fair sign that your body may be low in Omega 3’s.

Fixing this problems is primarily accomplished by eating foods containing the vitamins; fish, nuts, and oils up to just over a gram a day for most adults. An average piece of salmon will contain almost a week’s worth; throw in a few nuts and a little oil and you’ll be all set.

B Vitamins

We need several of the B vitamins; B1 (Thiamine), B6, and B12. Beginning with Thiamine, a deficiency is rare in the United States but people who drink alcohol excessively are susceptible to Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome and may experience tingling and numbness in their extremities, weight loss, confusion, and weakness to name a few symptoms.

Eating meats, whole grains, and beans as part of a normal diet will generally offer enough of this vitamin

B6

People with kidney dysfunction, autoimmune disorders, and alcoholics have difficulty absorbing enough Vitamin B6 from their diet. Poultry, fish, and non-citrus fruits will help but so will adding a supplement (do so only with a doctor’s recommendation).

B12

As many as 15% of Americans don’t absorb enough vitamin B12 – they may consume it, but lots of factors may prevent the absorption. Symptoms include fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite and weight loss, numbness, tinglings, depression, poor memory and a few others.

Most multivitamins contain B12 and a doctor can prescribe an additional injection if a deficiency is found.

D

The human body needs more vitamin D as it ages and the food we eat doesn’t naturally contain a sufficient supply. As you probably know, the sun is actually the source for most of our vitamin D supply and yet depending on where you live or how much exposure you have to daylight, you may not be getting enough.

Deficiencies in vitamin D causes brittle bones and leaves people susceptible to breaks and fractures. It can, in extreme cases, cause Rickets.

It is easily remedied with supplements but you can also get too much so it’s imperative to have your levels checked before adding supplements.

These are the major vitamins that affect your mind and body but certainly not the only ones. A blood test will give you more information so the next time you see your physician, be sure to…

Check for vitamin deficiencies.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#125 Eat Healthier

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#125

Eat Healthier

This sounds like a New Year’s resolution at first glance and yet it may be the cornerstone to actually living a happier, healthier, and more productive life. The concept is only new to you if you’ve been living in a cave for the last couple of decades. Indeed, over that time, the Surgeon General and most of our health care practitioners, have touted the benefits of making healthier food choices while the average size of children and adults continues to escalate.

In our fast paced, modern world – the most basic element of survival has become more and more difficult to monitor. We are inundated with food choices almost everywhere we go. Even at my children’s orthodontist office – right next to the coffee pot (a valued added service) there are cookies, cake, or doughnuts ready to be gobbled up by waiting parents, siblings, and hungry kids ready for their after school snack.

Instead of picking an apple off the tree on a walk home from school, our children ride the bus around a corner and into a subdivision, get dropped off at the driveway and grab a processed rice krispy treat or a bag of Doritos before plopping on the sofa to play video games. Sadly, that morphs into a quick dinner with a ‘hurry up and eat’ before someone has to be somewhere more evenings a week than not. It’s the ‘way of the world’ these days and we are all guilty at some point of wanting and making meals to be quick and easy regardless of how healthy they are.

It is beginning to change with healthier options on menus everywhere yet our size continues to grow. In part, because even though we have options – we don’t choose them enough of the time for it to make an impact. Consequently, grocery stores still sell the processed stuff; restaurants still offer the 2000 calorie burger & fries, and deep fried Snicker bars are sold by the thousands at every fair/carnival around the country – because we keep buying them!!

In the interest of honesty I must disclose that I too, cave to the pressure – the smells – and the flavors that tempt and tease me. I can definitely commit to making more consistent healthier choices. In talking with clients who are challenged here as well, the common similarity is that we lack will power. It’s challenging to walk into a mall where Cinnabon has just finished baking a tray of toaster sized rolls. The air is pungent with the smell of cinnamon and yeast. A glance in that direction identifies the source and one can hardly ignore that they are frosted with a decadent amount of cream cheese sugary goodness – so much so that if you’ve ever tasted it – and love it – your mouth instantly begins craving another fix.  ONE classic bun touts 880 calories and the equivalent of 15 spoonfuls of sugar. Would you sit down and shovel 15 teaspoons of sugar into you mouth on purpose??

Instead of succumbing to the temptation of my olfactory inclinations, I make an effort to command control and convince myself that carrot sticks are sweet too. I then seek an eating establishment that offers ‘fresh’ non-processed options and each time I sit down to eat or stroll through the grocery store I make another concerted effort to…

Eat healthier.

(P.S. – Breaking an addiction to sugar is perhaps the most important part of eating healthier – it makes everything else taste better!)

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#170 Roast Marshmallows

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#170

Roast Marshmallows

Yesterday, I wrote about Camping (or Glamping) and anyone who’s had that experience knows the pleasure of sitting around a ‘camp’ fire. Tradition, for our family at least, has been to include marshmallows so that we can roast or toast them as an evening treat. There have been many a conversation about how to do just that.

Perfection

Some people like their marshmallows lightly roasted – the color of toasted bread (perhaps where the term “toasted” originates) – and soft, almost completely melted on the inside. It’s accomplished by finding a part of the fire that is mostly molten coals with a low blue flame,  if any. A slight roterisse action will assure coverage across the entire circumference. It will bubble just slightly and color slowly. If your marshmallow meets matches this description and you wait just a few minutes after pulling it back from the fire – it will be slightly crispy on the outside as the sugar begins to crystalize again – making it absolute perfection – IMHO.

Variations

Others seem to find enjoyment by placing their marshmallow directly into the flame until it, in itself, becomes a torch. Quickly, it turns black and will consume the sugar entirely if it is not blown out. The underbelly of these are still firm and can often be toasted again if only the blistered ‘skin’ was removed. It’s a great way to extend the life of your marshmallow if – you can tolerate the ‘burned’ flavor. There are a few who are fearful of burning and lack patience to thoroughly roast so they ‘warm’ their mallow to the point of being soft enough to quickly dissolve.

Alternatives

A campfire is perhaps, the most favorited location to pass a bag of fresh marshmallows but it’s absolutely not the only way to experience the joy of the sugary treat. In recent years we’ve seen an explosion of homeowners with backyard fire pits or chimineas on patios and decks – offering year round alternatives to traditional campfires. In the absence of those options, there’s always the convenience of a gas grill or the flame of your own gas stove. In a pinch, there’s the heat produced by the electric burner on your kitchen range. Pop a marshmallow on a large meat fork, turn the burner on high and rotate. (I may have resorted to that method a time or two during my apartment living years.) As a novelty, a few companies now manufacture ‘roasting kits’ using a small sterno can as flame fuel. Hey, whatever works!

Savor the memories

No matter how you do it, the simple act of popping a perfectly roasted marshmallow into your mouth or smashing it between graham crackers with a block of chocolate (s’more) will instantly remind you of one of the most fun aspects of childhood. Take yourself back and enjoy a few minutes of pleasant memories by savoring the flavor and all that it brings with the satisfactory act of…

Roasting marshmallows.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below

#202 Meal Prep

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#202

Meal prep

Hundreds, if not thousands of blogs in recent years have been dedicated to different ways of meal prepping. This is not one of them. I’m writing about it because when we have taken the time to do a little meal prep our lives become a little easier, happier, and ultimately… more productive. Yes, it takes a little time and commitment but if that’s how you spend a rainy day then on a nice evening when all you want to do is sit on the deck and enjoy a summer evening – your meal will be almost effortless.

Menu

Perhaps the most important element and the first step in doing a little meal prep is deciding what you’d like to eat this week and get the grocery shopping done. Thinking ahead means that those decisions won’t have to be made day by day – sometimes the most challenging thinking after a long day of work. Grab your family members and make it a joint venture or… kick everyone out of the kitchen to other tasks, turn on some jam music, pour some wine and go to town!

Sides

If you know that you’ll be grilling in the evenings then plan your ‘side’ dishes in advance. Boil a big batch of potatoes so that you can throw together a potato salad, smashed potatoes, or potato casserole (make that ahead of time and freeze).  If you’ll be having corn on the cob, cook a few extra on the evening that you want to eat them fresh and then shave the kernels off the cob for a corn side dish later in the week.

Stock the freezer

Don’t forget the endless opportunities to set aside pasta dishes, casseroles, and soups or stews! Most of them freeze really well and if you pull it out in the morning, it’s ready to bake when you get home – no thought or real effort involved! You’ll be able to come home, change, and spend 5 minutes making dinner rather than the 30 or 45 minutes it might  have taken to get dinner on the table.

Time efficiency

What’s clear in the study of happiness is that when we use our time efficiently, we feel more organized. People who are more organized are less stressed. People who are less stressed – are happier. People who have more free time – are happier. So, it stands to reason that you’ll be happier overall if you step away from binge watching HGTV or ESPN on the next rainy day and make an effort to …

Meal Prep

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below

#220 Make Ice Cream

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#220

Make Ice cream

I know it’s super easy to reach into your freezer or stop by your local ice cream store but there’s something about making your own ice cream on a hot summer evening that evokes pleasure in a way that the other options cannot.

DIY Satisfaction

Sometimes, it’s the experience of ‘doing it yourself’ that adds to the fun and satisfaction we enjoy during and after an activity. The sense of accomplishment increases our confidence and overall esteem but perhaps more importantly, we become empowered.

Tools

Of course, an ice cream ‘maker’ is one of the easiest ways to complete this task – most of them come with recipe books for unending motivation but for a simple vanilla flavor, making ice cream at home is super easy with a few basic supplies. You need large zip lock plastic bags, coarse salt, and some arm muscle.

Recipe

I am recommending this recipe from The Stay at Home Chef blog because it worked well and tasted great! It took a little longer than the suggested 5 minutes to get the consistency that I preferred but it only meant a better arm workout (shaking is super important). What wouldn’t taste good if it is mostly heavy cream, sugar, and half & half?? We don’t want to calculate the calories in this recipe of course – just grab a spoonful and enjoy.

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup half and half

½ cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 gallon sized resealable plastic bags

2 cups ice cubes

½ cup salt

Instructions

Pour cream, half and half, sugar, and vanilla extract into a gallon sized resealable plastic bag. Seal well. Squish it around to combine until sugar is dissolved.

Place ice cubes and salt into another gallon sized resealable plastic bag.

Place the bag with the ice cream mixture into the bag with the ice. Seal the larger bag.

Shake until mixture freezes, about 5 to 7 minutes.

 

The next time you need a little inspiration to liven up a hot summer day, remember to pull out this recipe and …

Make homemade ice cream.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#255 Try a New Food

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#255

Try a new food

Is there a type of food that you’ve never tried? Have you had Thai food? Vietnamese? Lebanese? Sushi? Beef Tongue? Tripe? Escargot? Liver? Eggplant?

There’s a good chance that a few of you already incorporate one, two, or more of these into your regular diet and there’s a better chance that most of you have yet to try at least one or two of these edibles. As a child, I never developed a taste for Eggplant no matter how much tomato sauce smothered it and yet as an adult I was blown away by a Ratatouille recipe I found last summer and thoroughly enjoyed some fried eggplant my daughter made after we brought home a box full from our farm share.

My grandfather raised Black Angus cattle and tried to entice us with beef tongue a time or two… honestly – as children we were completely disgusted with the concept but one of my favorite Mexican restaurants serves tongue tacos and they are amazing!

I’ve ventured into Sushi in recent years and can’t quite get to the Shishimi level but most other parts of the menu – the cooked items – are new favorites and really – anything with Wasabi… Yum. (Try mixing a little into ranch dressing for a new kick).

Lots of foods that we turned our noses up to in our younger years may have a new lease in your diet but you have to give them another chance. I flat out refused to eat Asparagus as a teenager but it is a staple on my grocery list these days.

New foods shake up our taste buds and make meals more interesting. Trying something out of the ordinary addresses our sense of adventure and may meet part of our need for variety. If you’re going to go out to dinner – go someplace new. If nothing else, go someplace that is offering something you won’t eat at home (making Escargot may be more involved than a typical weeknight allows for).

Even if you can’t get motivated to change this dramatically and find yourself at your neighborhood Applebee’s for the second time this week… at least order something different from the menu!! The point is to shake it up a bit and …

Try a new food.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

Photo by Jesse Hanley on Unsplash