Monday, October 29, 2012

Stop Cheating Sleep

We in the West seem to have a love/hate relationship with sleep. We always talk about wanting more sleep. Many deal with chronic fatigue, yet we cram more and more things into our schedule robbing minutes or hours from our sleep time.

We look for ways to stretch the day. We're so busy trying to accomplish and buy more, or just have more fun. This is how we interpret success. But in order to do it we have to work harder and sleep less. I see it in middle-aged people who're desperate to build their retirement as well as keep up on the current bills and put children through college. I see it in young people, as if some unseen force compels them to stay awake late into the night. Often they don't even use those sleeping hours for homework, they just stay awake with friends, in front of the television, or on Facebook. Like toddlers who are so afraid they might miss something they don't want to go to sleep even if they're about to drop from exhaustion.

There is a lack of trust deep within us that tells us we must control our day. It borders on neurotic.

"Cease striving and know that I AM God."
~Psalm 46:10

"Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; 
yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?"
~Matthew 6:26

We know that sleep is important to our physical well-being. Studies show that the lack of sleep (eight or nine hours is optimal for adults) increases our risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood-pressure and Alzheimer's. It causes foggy thinking and poor memory, lack of sex drive, and it breaks down the collagen that protects the skin and keeps it looking young. These are just a few of the problems connected to lack of sleep. 

Our first and most important remedy for this serious problem is to make sleep a priority. Guard the sleeping hours diligently. Remember that the hours before midnight are the best for the body to repair itself. A good rule of thumb is to plan to get in bed by ten on a regular basis. 

If you have trouble falling asleep you can take a bath with some soothing essential oils such as Lavender, Valerian, or Clary-sage. Any combination of them would work too. You only need 5-10 drops in a bath.  

Check your diet. A healthy diet full of living foods increases ability to get good rest. You may also enjoy a small glass of wine with dinner for minerals, digestion and relaxation. A cup of herbal tea before bed is helpful.

If you just can't fall asleep or you wake up during the night and can't get back to sleep, take one tablespoon of Nutritional Yeast in a small amount of water or juice. Stir and drink. The chromium in the yeast balances the blood sugar and allows you to sleep. It works for me every time, even if I drink a Latté in the evening. (I don't suggest coffee in the evening if you have trouble falling asleep). 

So here's my prescription for better sleep:
   -Trust God to help you accomplish what you need to do in your waking hours. Let go of the need to control.
   -Set aside 7 - 9 hours each day for sleep and guard them diligently.
   -Eat right.
   -Plan a routine of relaxation during the hours before bed. (wine with dinner, herbal tea and/or warm bath before bed).
   -Nutritional Yeast for difficulties falling asleep. 
(Also resist the urge to nap during the day if you have trouble sleeping at night).

Let's stop trying to cheat sleep. Let's make friends with sleep. It's a buddy we can't live without.

What helps you sleep? Please share it here in the comments. Thanks!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Do Less, Accomplish More

There comes a time in life when you begin to think that all your effort and busyness has accomplished nothing. It feels like years, or decades have been lost to scurrying, stressing-out and possibly worrying.

One of my favorite movies is "Uncorked" (1998). The main character, Ross, is busy trying to find his niche, trying to prove his life has value and he can produce something. All the while he's neglected to use his greatest talent, playing the guitar. Meanwhile his eccentric uncle, Uncle Cullen, undermines everything he does. It's later discovered that Uncle Cullen is devising a plan to force Ross to begin to play music again. The uncle has some great lines in the movie.

"I think the world could use a few more people capable of sitting still instead of scrambling around trying to do things," he says to Ross.

One of my all-time favorite lines is when Uncle Cullen says, "Life is a long experience of suffering, disappointments, and chaos, but the moment you stop squirming against the catastrophe of being alive, music flies out of the dog doo."

I'm beginning to realize that I cannot control this life. I'm also realizing that slow and steady effort accompanied with prayer accomplishes so much more than rushing to do, do, do in hopes of checking more tasks off of a to-do list. It's true, we get more tasks done that way, but we don't accomplish more of what is important and lasting.

Spending quiet moments with my husband on a weekend away will be a lasting memory that adds joy to our marriage. In spite of the temptation, I didn't even take my computer! And guess what...I got my new website up and running this morning. Nothing was lost. Much was gained.

I see God moving among our youth and in our community like never before. I used to think I had to work hard to make something like that happen. But now it's happening, seemingly on its own. God is moving sovereignly.

It's nothing but the grace of God.  But then nothing of value is.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Pumpkin Parfait

Pumpkin and other orange winter squash contain plenty of Vitamin A--great for vision. They're full of antioxidants, which increase immune function, lower heart disease and increase brain function. Pumpkin is good for the skin since it adds hydration and elasticity.

Today I thought I'd repost an old blog with this simple pumpkin dessert. Enjoy!

November 2, 2011.
Here's a great pumpkin recipe I found at Simply Organic. If you've read my blog for a long time, you know I rave about the benefits of yogurt and other fermented foods. That combined with the health benefits of pumpkin and we have a delicious, health-inspiring dessert.
Pumpkin Parfait
 This creamy concoction is a proven winner. No need to spend hours in the kitchen to impress a crowd — this dessert is a cinch to make and yummy to boot.
2 cans (15 ounces each) pumpkin puree (or use the flesh of a pumpkin you roasted in the oven yourself)
1 1/2 teaspoons Cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
3 tablespoons Milk
1/4 cup Sugar
38 ounces (one 32-ounce container plus one 6-ounce container) Vanilla Yogurt
1 1/2 cups granola with raisin.
In a bowl, stir together pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, milk, and sugar. In 12 small bowls or ramekins, layer the pumpkin mixture and yogurt. Sprinkle with granola.
Chef Suggestions
Instead of making individual portions, layer in a trifle dish.

Monday, October 1, 2012

My Spicy Salsa Recipe

So here's the salsa I've canned every fall for several years. It's easy to can, or cut down the amounts and make just enough to have on hand in the frig. It's great with tortilla chips, on tacos and burritos, with eggs, on anything you use with salsa.

Salsa is a very healthy snack. It's full of antioxidants as well as vitamin C as tomatoes and peppers are both high in these. Tomatoes have been heralded as one of the best foods for heart health, but that's not all it does. Unlike like medicine there are no side effects (unless you have an allergy). So here's to your health.

I hope you enjoy it.

Terri's Spicy Salsa
5 pounds tomatoes, or to taste in the salsa. (Add more if you like more tomato and less if you don't).
4-6 green and/or red peppers (roasted, optional. You can also use Anaheim, Poblano, Banana or other kinds of peppers.)
2 Jalapeños, thinly sliced and chopped (more or less depending on taste. You can also use Serano or Habanero for more heat, Anaheim for less.)
2 medium-sized, chopped onions
1 cup chopped cilantro
5 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper
3/4 cup Vinegar (a little less than that)
Juice of one lime

1. Fill canner with hot tap water and preheat water and jars in canner. Prepare lids.

2. Chop tomatoes. Chop peppers and onions finely. Put all ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.

3. Ladle the hot sauce into the hot jars. Leave 1/2 inch headspace.

4. Put the filled jars in the preheated canner. Process pints for 15 minutes once water has returned to a boil.

5. Cool jars. Check seals. Label. Store.

If you don't intend to can the salsa, just bring it to a boil and then simmer for 10-15 minutes. Serve cold.

What are your favorite ingredients for salsa? Anything unique?