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Healthy Living Ideas for a Happy School Year

I recently hosted a webinar with my good friend and wellness advocate partner Denise on Healthy Ideas for a Happy School Year. Good nutrition and wellness practices should be a priority year round, but during the school year it’s particularly important because: we tend to be moving at our fastest pace; have tons of personal and professional activities and obligations to juggle; and, most of us live in seasonal climates that also affect our energy levels and immune function.

If you’re a busy parent like me, then you know both the importance and challenge of ensuring your family is getting good nutrition regularly to stay healthy and keep up with our fast-paced lives.  As a health coach, my goal is to teach families about quick and easy options for adding vital nutrition daily, boosting immune systems and energy levels, and carving out time for total wellness practices. I’m not going to tell you this is always super easy, but it is doable and well worth the effort to ensure your family is happy and healthy.

There are a number of reasons why my family’s health has become not only a top priority but also my job. As a sustainability consultant for the past 9 years, I was shocked to first learn how many toxic threats we face on a daily basis.  The other grim reality is that our soil quality is degrading and the nutrients in our food supply are diminishing every year. For example, we need to consume 26 apples today to get the same nutrition that 1 apple had in 1914! Heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other diseases and autoimmune disorders are on the rise – and all of this impacts our quality of life in the near and long-term. Despite some of the depressing realities we face, there is growing research that our DNA is not our destiny and that adopting healthy lifestyle practices and fueling our bodies with good nutrition can do wonders for our health and allow us to still lead long and vibrant lives.

And to help you do that, I’m excited to share with you some key points and practices you can start using right away.  To help you remember the practices I think are most important, I came up with an acronym – MASH(H). MASH stands for: Mindfulness, Activity, Sleep, Healthy Foods and Hydration. Here are some tips and resources you can consider for each of these healthy lifestyle practices.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is growing in popularity both as a teaching tool in schools but also in other settings and households. There is an emerging body of research that indicates mindfulness can help children improve their abilities to pay attention, to calm down when they are upset and to make better decisions. In short, it helps with emotional regulation and cognitive focus

I also consider Mindfulness to include teaching our kids an awareness about healthy foods, healthy living and how to be in tune with their bodies so they can be proactive managers of their own health. Here is a great resource for mindfulness practices for kids!

Activity 

Making sure your kids are staying active and getting some form of exercise everyday is key to good health. This may require putting limits on screen time and video gaming and talking to your child about the importance of physical activity both for immune strength but also learning and emotional well-being.

Joining your kid for physical acuity is especially important for parents too. If you have trouble making it the gym due to your busy work schedule, plan evening physical activities you can do together before bedtime, such as an evening bike ride, going for a run while they ride bikes or scooters, or do exercises together in your home.

Sleep 

Carving out time for rest and adequate sleep is key for our kid’s growing bodies; it’s also critical for busy parents who are almost always operating at full throttle. Did you know that 5 years olds that wake up at 6:30am should be in bed by 7:15 pm the night before? A 12 year-old with the same wake-up time should be asleep by 8:45pm.

A good practice: Aim to have homework and activities done before bedtime and start a family wind down an hour before bedtime

Healthy Foods and Hydration 
Healthy Foods:

Good nutrition is the KEY to consistent good health. We should all be getting 9-13 servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Here are some tips for packing in nutrients.

Make smoothies for breakfast. Add in plant-based protein powders to keep your whole family fueled and full. Add in superfoods like chia and flax seeds and acai frozen packets – or turn your smoothie into a bowl or mug meal topped with fruit and granola (See photo). Make healthy swaps for foods your kids love.

BREAKFAST: Nature’s Path (at most stores, even Target) has frozen waffles that have amaranth, chia seeds, and several gluten free options. Make french toast but use Hemp milk instead of cow’s milk for added omegas and a dairy-free option (which is better for avoiding allergies and other inflammation-related health issues).

LUNCH: Get a lunchbox with compartments so you can add cut fruit and veggies options along with crackers, pretzels or snack mix and cut sandwiches or bagels into small bite sized portions so they different fingers foods to choose from.

SNACK: Have fresh fruits and veggies cut up in a container in your fridge that you can add to a muffin tray after school or before dinner that your kids can graze on. You’d be surprised what they will eat if you just put it out and don’t say anything.

DINNER: Don’t over complicate. I will often get frozen fish from Target’s Simply Balanced brand (sustainably raised or wild caught) and make it with Target’s southwestern brown rice and quinoa mix (just add water and warm), and serve with some organic frozen corn that I warm up in coconut oil or grassfed butter, throw on some salt and pepper – whole dinner takes about 15 mins to prep. Could also make fish sticks from Trader Joe’s or Target, put out shredded cheese, black beans, lettuce, corn and salsas for an instant fish taco bar. Whatever your go to quick meal for kids – try to offer a veggie side or fruit with every meal.

Hydration:  Water is key for flushing our bodies of toxins and keeping us hydrated – which is important for staying healthy and avoiding illness.

Send your child to school everyday with a reusable water bottle with their name on it and fill them with filtered tap water. Do not buy plastic bottles of water (they can leach toxins into water and harm your child and you plus super bad for the environment and our oceans).  Take your reusable water bottle to work and freshen it up with lemon or peppermint essential oil or add some fresh lemon, cucumber or mint for a refreshing taste that motivated you to drink throughout the day.

 

Omegas – What is their wellness factor?

When I started my health coach training 6 years ago, one of things I heard over and over from my teachers was that we (humans) are deficient in fruits and vegetables AND essential fatty acids – both critical for maintaining a healthy immune system. So I was thrilled when I was introduced to a solution that bridges the gap in the number of fruits and vegetables my family and I consume daily through concentrated fruits and vegetables found in Juice Plus+ capsules or chewables.  Four years since integrating this amazing product into our daily health regimen, I am overjoyed that I can now get our omegas from Juice Plus+ also because this month they are releasing their own supplement. While there is plenty of research that shows we need omegas, there is also a lot of research showing that omegas can go rancid and getting a good quality supplement is key, both for you health and your investment. I can’t wait to share this new supplement in tandem with Juice Plus+ concentrated fruits and veggies and their plant-based protein powder.

Here, one of the Juice Plus+ Company’s leading medical experts, Dr. Richard Dubois, answers Frequently Asked Questions about the new omegas:

What are Omegas?

Omegas are fatty acids that have been shown to supports a broad array of health benefits – especially for the heart, brain, joints, skin, and eyes. The number after the term – Omega 3, for example – refers to chemical differences among the various types of omega fatty acids that impact how they are absorbed and utilized by the human body.

Among Omega 3s, what are DHA, EPA, and ALA, and how do they differ?

DHA (docosohexanoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentanoic acid) are the two main “long chain” Omega 3 fatty acids that are found primarily in algae and fish. ALA (alpha linolenic acid) is the main “short chain” Omega 3 fatty acid found primarily in plants such as flaxseed, chia, and others. Most of the proven benefits of Omega 3s have been linked to DHA and EPA rather than ALA, but ALA can have some additional benefits in the body.

Why do we use algal oil in Juice Plus+ Omega Blend rather than fish, like many other Omega 3 products do?

The algal oil in Juice Plus+ Omega Blend comes from a microalgae, Schitzochytrium, which is grown specifically for its rich DHA and EPA content. Fish actually get their DHA and EPA from eating algae, so we like to say that we are just cutting out the middle fish and going to the original plant source.

Does the algal oil come from the open ocean, and should I therefore be concerned about ocean contaminants in the algal oil?

No. The algal oil that we use in Juice Plus+ Omega Blend comes from algae grown in a contained and controlled environment, so that it is free of any contaminants.

What is sea buckthorn berry?

Sea buckthorn berry is a small orange berry grown in remote regions of the Himalayan Mountains. It is incredibly nutritious and is growing in popularity.

Why are there Omega 6 and 9 fatty acids in the product? I’ve heard that we get too much of them already.

As you know, we believe in trying to provide nutrition from whole food, in nature’s proportions, and Juice Plus+ Omega Blend is no exception. The Omega 6’s and 9’s come naturally from all of the plant-based oils in our Omega Blend, especially the raspberry and tomato seed oils. At their natural levels (as they exist in Juice Plus+ Omega Blend) and without being degraded or changed by processing, Omega 6’s and 9’s are very healthful.

How are the oils in Juice Pus+ Omega Blend processed?

As with the ingredients in all of our Juice Plus+ products, we do our best to process the produce as minimally as possible. For the seed oils in Juice Plus+ Omega Blend, this means that they are cold pressed. It is a similar process to that used to make high quality olive oil. The sea buckthorn berry oil, for example, is extracted using liquid CO2, which allows us to extract the oil from the berries without damaging them through the use of harsh chemicals or the release of toxins (either into the environment or into the product). The algal oil is processed using molecular distillation, which is a process that separates the smallest molecules of DHA and EPA, again without damaging the oils or releasing toxins.

Why does our capsule look different than other oil supplements?

Our Omega Blend is offered in a new, unique, state-of-the-art delivery form. It is a two-piece hard shell capsule, very similar to the capsules that hold our Garden, Orchard, and Vineyard Blends. But the two pieces of the Omega Blend capsule are fused together using a proprietary technique developed by our capsule partners that uses water instead of heat. Our capsule is thus better than traditional delivery forms for oils because the lower temperatures keeps the oils inside the capsules from degrading.

Is Juice Plus+ Omega Blend vegetarian?

Yes. All of the ingredients – including the new capsule shell – are vegetarian.

Is it vegan?

Yes. There are absolutely no animal products or byproducts in Juice Plus+ Omega Blend, so it is likely acceptable to most vegans. However, is not certified vegan because there are other requirements for certification above and beyond the fact that it contains animal products or byproducts. We are investigating those requirements to learn whether or not Juice Plus+ Omega Blend can be certified vegan.

Is it Kosher certified?

Yes.

Will it be NSF certified?

Yes. NSF requires testing of the first commercial batch of product, so we will be submitting that to NSF as soon as it is available. The first commercially-available bottles of Juice Plus+ Omega Blend will not feature the NSF certification seal on them; but as soon as the product passes the NSF certification process, that fact will be available on the NSF website. The NSF seal will then appear on bottles from future production runs.

How is the Juice Plus+ Omega Blend packaged, and what is the recommended daily consumption?

Juice Plus+ Omega Blend comes in bottles containing 120 capsules each. Just like Juice Plus+ Vineyard Blend, we package two bottles together per carton, which equals a four-month supply – just like Juice Plus+ Vineyard Blend. The recommended daily consumption is two capsules per day for adults and teenagers.

Is Juice Plus+ Omega Blend suitable for children?

Yes, of course – just as all of our Juice Plus+ products, as long as the child is able to swallow the capsule. As with other Juice Plus+ blends, children below the age of 13 should take one capsule per day instead of the recommended adult and teenage consumption of two. We do not plan to offer this product in a Chewable version at this time due to manufacturing and stability concerns.

Who makes Juice Plus+ Omega Blend for us?

It is manufactured by one of our long-term product partners. Confidentiality agreements preclude us from being any more specific than that.

Do we have any plans for clinical research on Juice Plus+ Omega Blend?

Yes. We certainly plan to include Omega Blend as part of our ongoing research program. We would not anticipate having a published study completed, however, until early 2019 at the soonest. We will not be conducting research on Juice Plus+ Omega Blend alone, however, just as we don’t have any freestanding research on Juice Plus+ Vineyard Blend – and for the same reason: we don’t want to encourage people to purchase either Omega Blend or Vineyard Blend as a standalone product. We want to keep it connected to our core product, Juice Plus+ Orchard + Garden Blends.

Why is there a Supplement Facts panel on Juice Plus+ Omega Blend, instead of the nutrition facts panel we show on Juice Plus+ Orchard, Garden and Vineyard Blends?

Because of the nature of the product and its focus on providing specific nutrients derived from plants – omega fatty acids – a Nutrition Facts label would be completely useless, offering little more than a series of zeros. Also, providing a Supplement Facts panel will facilitate quantitative comparisons with other omega supplements.

Acai Bowl Obession

If you interact with me at all in person or follow my Facebook or Instagram then you know I have a serious obsession with açaí [pronounced: aˌsaˈi or ah-sigh-ee ]. This started from our frequent visits to Souther California where we were introduced to the Sambazon Acai Cafe in Cardiff.

What makes this food so great?

Açaí is a palm fruit that grows on the banks of the Amazon river. It somewhat resembles a blueberry, and like a blueberry is packed with antioxidants but has some other superfood benefits as well. According to the Sambazon site: “The benefits of Açaí are all found in the pulp-which is naturally packed with antioxidants, polyphenols and flavonoids (like those in red wine). Unlike any other fruit, the real magic of Açaí is that it has a perfect combination of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, giving it a creamy mouth feel and loads of trace minerals and essential nutrients.

As someone who is always on the quest for delicious, healthy, nourishing foods, I have come to love açaí because of its nutritional value but also for it’s clean taste and the energy it gives my body. I often make a juice or smoothie as a meal but there are days I want something in a bowl or on a plate that gives me the same feeling of eating clean but that requires a utensil to consume and forces me to actually sit down and eat for a change.

For months I’ve been experimenting with different açaí creations based on those I have bought at juice bars/healthy bowl cafes and loved. The one that has become my favorite incorporates mint and activated charcoal*, which are great for people like me that always need extra help with digestion.

*Note on the charcoal: activated charcoal actually works best when consumed between meals if you are truly trying to clean up your digestive system a AND since it is a detoxing agent, it should not be consumed everyday. That said, activated charcoal is popping up in all kinds of health food trends and adding 2 capsules to your smoothie bowl is a great practice on occasion and will add some extra detoxing for things like pathogens and other environmental toxins that build up in our bodies. I am sure to take a good probiotic though when consuming charcoal so I am replenishing any good bacterias that might get flushed out with the bad ones thanks to the charcoal cleansing magic. If I get on a serious açaí kick and am making them every day, I only add charcoal 2-3 times a week. You can buy activated charcoal on Amazon or check your local health food store.

As I mentioned above, I have also been adding mint to the bowls. I have grown mint all summer in a container pot so access to mint has been easy but you can usually find mint all year round in the herb section of most grocery stores. I also grew lemon balm this summer in my Tower Garden and often add that with or in lieu of mint and love the fresh taste it adds.

Ready to create your own açaí bowl? Here is my go-to recipe for a clean, healthy meal a couple times a week!

Acai Bowl

Creating a Life you Love

Not loving your life is no way to live.

Okay, that is kind of a backwards way of saying that living a life you love is so much more worthwhile. But first you have to create it. And that is not necessarily easy.  It takes work and persistence.  But often with a few small tweaks to our daily practices and mindset, we can begin to transform what happens to us and around us.  Having clear intentions can often be enough to manifest change in our lives and bring us closer or right on the mark of all we desire in this world.

There has been a lot going on for me lately. I’m juggling many different responsibilities and undertakings and often feel really scattered – like I have my hand in too many different things both professionally and personally. I love my health coaching business and often feel like I need about 30 extra hours in the week to dedicate to making it a success and connecting with and supporting others – which is my why for that business. I still do sustainability consulting for the National Zoo because I love the people there and it is the last remnant of my green biz (my first endeavor into entrepreneurship in 2008). I continue to dabble in professional organizing/interior decorating because I get a total feel-good buzz from that and have a natural knack for creating a modern, inviting, clutter-free spaces. But my most important job of all is being a mom and wife. With my boys just 3 and 5 years old, I still make myself available to them as much as I can manage – which is pretty much all hours except for when they are at school from 9am-3pm, most weekdays. My husband is also a business owner in the restaurant world – his schedule is crazy demanding and ever-changing making me the CEO of oh-so-many things. Did I mention my sweet but incredibly energetic (even at 9 years old) dogs that are my first babies and often act like actual children and not just a couple animals living on our house? So, yeah, I have a lot going on but one of the first steps in creating a life I love was for me to know that I am a person who thrives best when I am busy and doing the things that pump my energy, fuel my soul, and lift my spirits in the madness of daily life.

I’m telling you all this because it helps to have context from the person offering you advice. Just like you, I have lots of days where things seem to be swirling around me and I am just focused on getting through the busy day. But no matter how busy I am (which I fully admit is a choice because I choose to take on so much) there are key things I do that have helped me to build a life of internal balance, clarity, gratitude, confidence, and one which thrives on wellness – and for me that can be defined more concretely as staying healthy and nurturing my body and mind so that I operate at close to optimal levels (no one is perfect ;-))

So take a moment and dig in. Can you align yourself better with these simple actions?

  1. Set an intention of how you want your life to be (more energy, less work, better relationship(s), less illness, more money, more exercise, less stress, a new city or town, a different house, an ocean or mountain view, more fresh air – you get the picture)
  2. Visualize that life. What does it feel like? (write down how you would feel and do this daily)
  3. Practice gratitude. We can’t get more of what we want if we aren’t already grateful for all we have. Make a list of three things you are thankful to have in your life. And do this regularly (daily if you can).
  4. Honor yourself.  Stop self-criticism. Know you are enough. We can’t do it all. Believe me. I try all too often and end up disappointed or feeling like I drop the ball, or have all these ideas but never have time to implement. And then I take deep breathe. I honor all that I accomplish in a day – with the love and support I give my family as the number one thing I have to remind myself to be proud of because most of my energy goes there.
  5. Fuel your body with energizing nutrients. There is no way I could keep up with everything as consistently as I do if I did not prioritize eating whole and nutrient-dense foods, limiting caffeine and alcohol, and aiming for consistent rest at night and body movement during the day, even if I’m only doing a 5 or 10-minute workout through an app on my phone, or chasing my kids on their bikes.

Creating a life you love is a practice rooted in authenticity and synchronicity. When we are authentic and confident in who we are, we become more synchronized with the world around us and the life we desire begins to bud, blossom and unfold vibrantly before us.

love and inspiration toward the creation of your glorious life!

ASK

 

2016 Health Transformations and Mindset Miracles

2016! It’s here. For some too fast, for others too slow…but it IS, and we must embrace what is. Speaking of embracing, this time of year always sparks some renewed spirit and commitment from me, as it does many others, to get back to what is important from a health perspective. Many of us enter the New Year full of anticipation but also exhausted from the holidays and what was likely a busy lead up to the end of year. I personally am super drained. I had a great getaway with my family to southern California – one of my top happy places – but the East-to-West-to-East transition is never easy. While I am grateful to be back in the comfort of my home and have a moment to myself after 2 weeks of intense family time, I always experience a little bit of an emotional roller coaster leaving the ocean and almost daily sunshine and jumping back into the East coast fast-paced way of life. The good news is that my time in California always sparks creative energy and motivation and I am super pumped to lead a 30-day Health Transformation and Miracle Mindset group January 15-Feb 15 to recharge and get super clean and clear for the upcoming year.

One of the most important tools I have learned through my health coaching training and personal wellness practices is to make the connection between how I think to how I feel. Eating well and ensuring I’m getting wellness support has become critical for my total well-being, but without the mindset practices, even that can only do so much.  It’s no secret what is happening in our brain plays a big role in what happens throughout the rest of our bodies and there is plenty of scientific research to back that up. But my belief in this has come not just from reading the research, but seeing firsthand in my own life and my clients of how truly beneficial this can be.

When I work with clients, the first thing I do is get them to identify how they want to feel because no amount of good food I get them to consume will transform their health if their is any emotional blockage, unhappiness, overwhelming stress, or other internal stress occurring in their lives. With over a decade of experience through life coaching support and personal work I can attest to the fact that changing your mindset is biggest health miracle you can manifest and is absolutely critical to your longevity and long-term personal fulfillment.

In 2015 I really dug deep into this, exploring Daniella Laporte’s Desire Mapping, Erin Stutland’s Shrink Session Intention Workouts, Kris Carr’s Self-Care for Busy People Meditation album and multiple other intention-focused, mindset practices that ultimately translate into improved health.  I’ll be totally honest, I’m horrible at meditation. I have long been studying the health benefits and know it is so beneficial, but I have not been good about making time for this practice. It’s on my top action items for this year, but I also know how important it is to do what works for me. There are LOTS of ways to get your brain rewired and incorporate intention/mantras – what I consider a modified form of meditation for us fast-paced people who often have trouble truly chilling out and meditating.

In the Health Transformation program, I will provide clean-eating/body-tune-up strategies to boost energy and immune system function while also rebooting your brain through weekly intention statements/mantras to really upgrade your mind-body connection. If this intrigues you and you are ready to open your heart, mind, and soul or you know this to be true and need some support and community to revamp your practice, join me for a month-long transformation to re-tune your body and mind. Experience true personal joy and wellness results. I’m hosting this group through Facebook but happy to share all the info via email if you’re not an FB person. Just be sure to message me at addie@addiespahrkim.com for the details or join the Facebook group HERE.

joy, love, and health for the new year

ASK

Superfood Sweet Potato Smoothie

There is so much a I love about Fall foods – the colors, the warming flavors, the sweet aromas. With squashes, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes are at their peak in Autumn I often get overwhelmed deciding which of these seasonal vegetable options to cook. My young boys are not as crazed about the flavors as I am and my restaurateur husband has been working like crazy and rarely is home for meals so I’ve had to get creative on how  to enjoy the Fall harvest (much of which I get from my weekly local farm delivery From the Farmer DC). Since I make a smoothie still several times a week I opted to take my roasted sweet potato and turn it into a delicious, creamy milkshake-like breakfast packed with some added superfoods to power me through the day!

SweetPotato Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1/2 roasted sweet potato (wash a whole sweet potato, poke several holes around with a fork, roast at 400 F for 35-60 mins depending on size, or until soft or oozing slightly)
  • 1 ripe organic pear
  • 2 tbsp of organic cashew butter
  • 1 tsp of organic cinnamon*
  • 1/2 tsp of cardamom*
  • 3-4 pitted dates
  • 1 tbsp of hemp hearts
  • 2 cups Hemp milk
  • 4-5 ice cubes

* could use 1.5 tsp of Pumpkin Pie spice in place of cinnamon and cardamom

Make

  • Add sweet potato and pear to blender. Add Hemp milk and then rest of ingredients. Blend. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Smoothie1

Healthy Fall Recipes

Fall is full of so many colorful whole foods packed with phytonutrients that nourish our bodies! I’ve been exploring lots of fun Fall recipes and thinking about Thanksgiving Day prep and came across these that I plan to test out before the month’s end. Please let me know if you try any of these!

Delicious, Healthy Fall recipes to expand your foodie palate:

Looking for some creative and healthy recipe ideas for Thanksgiving? Check out these options:

Get some Healthy Home Thanksgiving Prep Ideas from the Honest Company’s 7 Quick Tips for Turkey Day

Take a moment of Gratitude this Thanksgiving Holiday

Thanksgiving is a great time to be with the people you care about – whether family or friends. We often spend a lot of time focusing on meal preparation, hosting, or traveling to someone else’s home. Many of us have a tradition of giving thanks or offering a blessing. Regardless of whether you have a religious affiliation or not, creating a gratitude ritual can be good for your health and your mental well-being. Gratitude can have many stress-reducing benefits, help us sleep better, strengthen relationships with our partners and increase our patience with our children, among other positive well-being outcomes.

This Thanksgiving, ask those you celebrate with to name three things they are grateful for and challenge them to make a gratitude list at the end of every day (or most days) from that day forward. You’ll be thankful you did!!

Gluten-Free Black Bean Brownie Bites (Delish, I promise!)

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth with Gluten-Free Black Bean Brownie Bites

I have had these at a fellow health coach friend’s house a few times and could not believe they had black beans. For one of my healthy living workshops, I wanted a sweet treat that was easy to make and eat and I had already spent a lot of time baking zucchini bread for another workshop early in the week. You won’t believe how simple this! And they are seriously so delicious. My husband and boys love these and it gives me some piece of mind for my 2 year-old especially that he is getting some protein and not all carbs – he could be happy eating french fries and bacon for every meal!

Ingredients and Baking Instructions

  • Get a box of gluten-free brownie mix (available at most big grocery stores or an organic market; my preference is King Arthur gluten free brownie mix which I get at Target
  • Preheat oven to box instruction, usually 350 degrees F
  • Prepare batter to instructions on box – however, swap the butter or vegetable oil called for on the instructions for refined coconut oil
  • 1 can or box of organic black beans – add entire can or box to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. There may be a few little bean specks – that’s ok.

Add the black beans to the large bowl of batter and stir. Grease a mini muffin tray with coconut oil (I used the Trader Joe’s coconut oil spray but often I just take coconut oil from a jar and grease using a paper towel or napkin). Fill each mini muffin tray until batter comes just below the top. You will likely need to make at least 2 batches or use two trays since adding the beans yields a lot of batter. Bake for 10-12 minutes until tops are not showing liquid. Remove and cool about 5 minutes and then transfer to a cook sheet lined with waxed paper for additional cooling time. You may need to re-grease the muffin tins before you add the next round of batter. When tin is cool, use a paper towel to wipe out remnants from first batch (does not have to be perfectly clean, just no large chunks).  To jazz these up even more, add mini semi-sweet chocolate chips to the batter. You could also add unsweetened shredded coconut or chia seeds – depends on who is eating them and whether they have texture preferences. I recently added my Juice Plus+ Complete chocolate protein powder and it was an awesome addition and them even fluffier, almost like super mini souffles but a way healthier version!

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My Morning Ritual Summer-ized

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Most mornings I am operating in a mad frenzy surrounding my boys’ needs. Pack lunches, prep a bag of whatever they will need for the day’s adventure, get breakfast ready, ensure they take their essentials (JP+ TRIO chewables, a fish oil and probiotic chew), go to the bathroom and brush teeth. Nothing out of the norm compared to any other parent that is on prep duty. And as any parent knows it’s never as smooth as you hope it will go. But one ritual I aim for every morning to ensure I’m taking care of myself while exerting most of my energy taking care of my family is to start with a cup of warm lemon water. There is a long list of health benefits resulting from this daily habit, including everything from boosting immunity, improving skin, helping with digestion and weight loss, fighting aches and pains, cleansing the liver and supporting brain function. Want some details? The Huffington Post has a nice article.

In addition to all these health benefits, I just really enjoy the taste. It’s refreshing and often helps me emerge out of a fog from my many sleep-deprived nights (my 2 year old often wanders in at night with a variety of needs). With my container herb garden in full bloom I’ve been adding fresh mint or basil to the lemon water for a Summer twist. Since I am equally committed to taking JP+ (concentrated fruits and vegetables) every day I like to pair these two practices for the perfect blend of wellness in a simple unified action. Committing to these two rituals has ensured that I have been illness free — with the exception of a minor cold in January — for over a year.  Still very tired on many days, but able to function and avoid being down for the count despite the continued chaos in my daily life. Try it. Your immune system will thank you!