Sticking to a healthy diet as a lifestyle takes resilience, but if you commit to a regular practice of finding new inspiration to keep you going, you’ll find that it becomes more and more enjoyable over time. One tip that has always helped me out is looking up ways to make a healthy version of a new dish by replacing the unhealthy ingredients.
For example, If you want to follow a low sugar diet, that includes cutting out fruits like apples. But every now and then, who doesn’t crave a warm apple crisp recipe with cinnamon and a little crunch to top with something cold like ice cream?
I found a Mock Apple Zucchini Crisp recipe that I wanted to try so that I could trick Adoniah and it would taste like a desert to her, however she caught on. I even put coconut vanilla ice cream on it and she didn’t like it. My mom and I, on the other hand, thought it was good. Overall I would say this recipe was okay.
It uses oat or coconut fiber, which has zero net carbs, compared to oat flour, which is fairly high in carbs.
Prep time 5 minutes
Cook time 50 minutes
3 Cups Zucchini peeled and sliced
3 Cups of Apples sliced
3 Tablespoons Lemon juice
2/3 Cup low Carb sweetener
3/4 Teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 Cup Pecans chopped
1/2 Cup Almond flour
1/4 Cup Oat fiber or coconut fiber
1/4 Cup pow carb sweetener
1 Teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 Cup butter
1. In a medium bowl, combine zucchini, lemon juice, sweetener, cinnamon and nutmeg until well blended
2. For topping, combine pecans, almond flour, oat fiber, sweetener and cinnamon in a bowl then cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over zucchini mixture.
3. Bake at 350 F for 45-50 minutes or until zucchini is tender
As I was reviewing the comments of other cooks who tried this recipe, one suggested pitting out the zucchini seeds, and it removes any of the zucchini from coming through. Another commenter suggested adding 1 1/2 Tsp Apple Cider Vinegar and reported that it makes it taste just like apples!
As long as you can incorporate the flavors that you enjoy in a way that doesn’t add unhealthy ingredients, there really isn’t any dish that you can’t make a healthier version of!
It’s been a long and frosty winter, and now the snow is slowly melting away, the previously frozen plants are rejuvenating, the flowers are blossoming all over and the length of the day is increasing. Goodbye winter and welcome spring.
Spring is one of the four traditional seasons that occur in the temperate regions of the earth. It succeeds winter and precedes summer. This season is marked by different events and starts at different times of the year depending on the latitudinal location of the place and the country. However, typically it starts in March and ends in June in the Northern Hemisphere, while starts in the month of September and ends in December in the Southern Hemisphere.
Apart from these time markings in the calendar, there are other indicators of the beginning of spring. For example, according to ecologists, it is marked by the regrowth of plants and the blossoming of flowers, changes in the activities of animals and even the smell of the soil. The phenomenon of rejuvenation is what gives the season its name “the springing forth of plants”. On the other hand, an astronomical event that defines the season is the tilting of the earth’s axis relative to the sun, leading to the increase in the length of days in the affected hemisphere.
These changes make spring the best season for fun activities such as these:
- Taking walks
If you love walking down the countryside or just strolling around the streets, there is no better time in the year to do this than the spring. In the parks and gardens, the trees are shooting forth new leaves, the flowers are budding and blossoming, attracting so many insects like butterflies to come and pollinate them. In the fields and woodlands, the animals are jubilant and most of them are giving birth to their offspring. Across the land, the snow is melting and finally, there is no need of those heavy winter boots, the frozen rivers are once again flowing and teeming with life. To crown this all, is the increasing warmth that makes the walk sensational and the lengthening of days, giving more time to explore. Spring seems the idyllic time to take a walk, right?
In most countries, the onset of spring also coincides with festivals and celebrations like the Passover and Easter, and the spring break for most schools and universities. Taking a walk around this time can, therefore, give a wonderful opportunity to meet and mingle with so many people.
- Outdoor sports
After the winter season characterized by minimal outdoor activities, spring provides the opportune moment to get out of the house and have a feel of the outside fresh and warm air. Outdoor sporting is arguably the best way to do this.
There are a variety of sporting activities that you can do in the spring:
- Hiking – mountaineers know this – hiking is best done in the spring. You can go to the nearest mountains or hills in your locality or even organize a longer expedition. It is best if you go with a group of friends to make the moment unforgettable. Ensure that you pack all that you need before setting out.
- Rafting – with the melting snow, rivers soon begin to flow again, presenting a golden chance to go outdoors and get a little wet as you have some vigorous fun activity. You can join your local rafting community or just convince your friends to go rafting.
- Picnicking – does not seem a sport, don’t you think? Going for a picnic can be a great way to spend your afternoon. Just get the right gear and hit the road with a few friends. While at the picnic, you could play some soccer, volleyball, archery, baseball, etc.
- Planting a garden
It is the time of the year that you don your gloves and get outside to tend your garden. It is not only warm but also sunny, providing optimal growth conditions for the plants. Here are a few steps that you can follow to get your garden flourishing:
- Determine where to place your garden – a place that is exposed to the sun, near the house and can easily be watered is ideal
- Prepare the soil right – turn the soil to get it well-aerated, add some manure or compost and till the land to the specifications of what you would like to plant.
- Decide on your garden’s layout to accommodate all the plants that you want to plant.
- Select what you would like to grow – cool weather crops are the best to plant during this time of the year. So get your lettuces, broccoli or onion seeds.
- Tend the garden and enjoy seeing the plants flourish.
- Sitting outside to eat
Finally, the restaurants are fully spacious – the outdoor seating places are finally open. You can decide to have a group eat out outdoor as you enjoy the glaze and warmth of the sun, the cool breeze and the wonderful sceneries of springtime. Back at home, this is the best time to have some outdoor grilling or barbeques as a family.
Let’s understand Veganism, compared to Plant Based
There’s a significant difference between being vegan and being plant based, and it is important to understand these key differences.
To be vegan, by definition, is to completely abstain from consumption of animal products, the motive for which is all about the fact that animal cruelty is associated with the production of such products. This includes abstaining from wearing or purchasing leather clothing products, which is produced from the hides of animals. Cow’s leather is a byproduct of the meat industry, so consumption of any leather product is a supportive gesture to that industry, is the reasoning behind the vegan lifestyle.
To be a vegan for the purpose of being opposed to animal cruelty involves a concern for the way that all things are made, including things most of us don’t think much about. For example adhesives like glue are made with the collagen of animals, usually horses, who possess high amounts of collagen to support the connectivity of their skeletal structure. The same collagen is used in the production of gelatin, as it is extracted from the skin, bones and connective tissue of animals to produce proteins that mix with peptides to create the unique substance we know commonly as, Jello.
For vegans who feel strongly enough about their opposition to animal cruelty that they refrain from consumption of animal products for that sole purpose, they would not violate their belief system by eating foods like potato chips, candy or cookies. This is why it is important to understand that the plant based lifestyle, contrary to the strictly vegan lifestyle, is all about eating for your personal health.
In my household, we are second and third generation plant based vegans, which means we adopt this lifestyle for the purpose of achieving optimal health.
The media also references this diet as Whole Foods Plant Based, and it’s a diet that has been gaining in popularity over the years. According to Epicurious.com, Ellen DeGeneres, Jay-Z & Beyoncé, and Sir Paul McCartney have adopted a plant based diet.
Though I fully support traditional vegans and what they stand for, I must say that my motivation behind being vegan and raising my kids to be vegan stems from my conviction that the plant based vegan diet is the best one for personal health.
In my family, we are foodies! We believe that food is life, meaning that what you put into your body can be the giver or taker of life, from the amount of energy you experience to your immune system and overall functioning as a human being.
My mom has saved her life through food, as you can see in our documentary https://www.valmarhealth.com/video/race-time-documentary/, and countless people across the world are experiencing the powerful benefits of longer, healthier and happier lives as a result of eating the foods that were naturally intended for us to eat. Most of these foods are derived from vegetables.
I have two gardens on my property, with everything from mangoes, to strawberries, tomatoes, spices and nuts. I hope to produces grains as well. My kids love eating natural Whole Foods and look forward to picking from the garden more than going to Blaze Pizza (they have vegan options) when we drive into town!
I’ve been a vegan for health for my entire life, and I can tell you that I feel empowered, enlightened and refreshed by this lifestyle in such a way that I am simply compelled to share it, and that’s why ValMar Health exists! I want to share what I know about this spectacular feeling it is to be a true plant based vegan.
Forever, herbs have been used by humanity for numerous purposes, but chief among them are medical, culinary, perfuming, as well as spiritual uses. So what are they? They are plants that have aromatic or (and) savory properties that allow them to be used in flavoring food, chemical elements that fit them for medicinal use and spiritual ‘properties’ that have seen them used in religious rituals. They, should, however, be distinguished from spices in that herbs usually comprise of the leafy and the flowering parts of the plant (either fresh or dried), while spices are the other parts dried; roots, barks, etc.
Why are they healthy?
The health benefits of using herbs are immense and span the various systems of the body. Their basis of altering body function is that they contain phytochemicals and psychoactive components that may bring relief in certain illnesses or boost weakening body systems. Here are some of the widely documented evidence of herbs’ health perks:
• They boost the strength of the immune system
Herbs are very rich in anti-oxidants and vitamins that play a great role in keeping at bay toxic substances from the body and strengthening the immune system as well. Examples of those that are rich in these properties include ginger, garlic, and onions that form part of the diets of scores of people globally.
• Regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels
Some herbs have been noted to affect the function of the pancreas as regards the regulation of blood sugar levels in diabetic patients. They reduce the levels of blood sugar and can be used as adjuncts to conventional medicine in the management of diabetic conditions. In addition, other herbs reduce the levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol in the blood and thus significantly reduce the risk of developing or worsening fatal cardiovascular maladies such as atherosclerosis. Fenugreek and bilberry are noteworthy examples.
• Skin care
Worrying about the state of your skin? Did you know that herbs could be the right answer to all your skin problems? For ages, herbs have been used by a host of communities worldwide to care for the skin and even treat skin conditions. Aloe Vera, for instance, is a common ingredient of various skin care products such as body lotions, petroleum jellies, and bathing soaps. Another of note is the tea tree oil; this herbal extract is found in face creams and face washes as it has the ability to regulate the secretion of oil from the skin pores.
How can they be grown?
To grow herbs excellently, a lot of caution has to go into how you grow them. From choosing the right location, the suitable soil type and the variety of herb to grow, every step has to be carried meticulously to ensure superb results. Here is a list of the procedures that you can follow to grow your herbs:
1. Choose the right location – herbs can either be grown indoors or outdoors, with each site providing its own set of advantages and disadvantages. For example, while outdoor grown herbs give much more and flavorful yields, those grown indoors can be easily accessed and grown all year round since they are not dependent on the vagaries of nature.
2. Prepare the growing medium – the growing medium can be the garden soil, a soil mix or a soilless mix. For potted plants that are grown indoors, the last two are the most recommended. In the outdoor gardens, ensure that the soil is loamy and well-drained, or if this is not the case, you can add some manure or compost to boost the soil quality.
3. Plant your herbs – there are various ways of planting herbs. You can have seeds that grow directly, those that need to be transplanted and even divided parts of already grown herbs.
4. Maintenance – once the plants are firmly growing, good maintenance will go a long way in helping them grow optimally. Basically, this involves right watering, adding fertilizers or manure, moving the potted plants to areas that that sunlight can reach them, or winterize the garden to improve the chances of survival as snow sets in.
How to cook with herbs
Herbs can drastically improve the taste of unpalatable food to a finger-licking delicacy; if you know how to cook with them. However, this does not mean that you have to be a gourmet chef to ace the recipes that have herbs. All you need to have is a guide such as a cookbook or a recipe book. It will highlight, the right type of herb for particular meals, when the herbs should be used as fresh or dried, the amount of herbs that should be used to achieved the desired tastes, the heating specifications that bring the best of the herb and how to prepare the herbs before using them (cutting, dividing or using them whole).
- An aromatherapy diffuser
- A spa day (why not make it a mother/daughter day?)
- Kitchenware (you literally cannot go wrong here)
- A quality moisturizer catered to her skin type (your aesthetician might have the perfect recommendation!)
- Candles and/or essential oils
- Quality towels and/or sheets
- Planters, custom pottery and/or a bird feeder
- A spice rack for cooking
- A jewelry box and/or jewelry
- Hand creams and pretty soaps
- Decorative pillows and/or throws
- Decorative picture frames
- A custom engraved necklace
- A new handbag
- Decorative coasters
- A bathtub caddy and bath salts
- A lawn chair or set for the patio
- A hangable painting or mirror
- Decorative succulents
- A custom picture album dedicated to her and the moments you’ve shared together
By the age of 2-3 years, children have already formed gender preferences when it comes to playtime. Generally, boys tend to lean towards aggressive play. An example is fighting monsters. Girls, on the other hand, lean towards games that involve family and playing with dolls. This preference cannot be well explained. However, a survey conducted found that up to 60% to 80% of boys play with aggressive toys such as swords and guns.
- Is it healthy for boys to play with weapons
Playing is important to children. It has been linked to better social and cognitive development. Playing with weapons, however, does not mean the type of play is about violence. According to some researchers, they believe this kind of play is about winning and losing, heroism and who gets to be the good guy at the end. It is for such reasons that you may hear children say ‘and the winner is’ or ‘he finally saves them’. This is mostly the case when playing with toys that have guns, such as a GI Joe.
It is through these imaginary games that children learn how to think symbolically, delay gratification, view things from another perspective and control impulses.
2. The answer is yes
You can let boys play with toy guns and swords, or toys with guns. Restricting them may only complicate matters as they may think you don’t like them and start acting out. You should let them play it out. They will eventually outgrow the play due to ‘sameness’. Boys will learn many important virtues from such plays, which they will eventually apply. Some of these are discussed below.
It, however, is important to ensure that they do not get access to actual weapons at such an age, as that is dangerous, to themselves and others. Always ensure to keep weapons out of reach of children.
Children develop their creativity from a very young age. Your child’s play when using props for weapons such as guns and swords should be creative and have scenarios. These ideas are a part of your child and they should be allowed to explore their interests.
3. It teaches them to protect their loved ones
Through the pretend-play boys have about superheroes and other fantasies, they learn the importance of protecting those they love. Their weapon play, be it swords or guns, is always about saving other people. The scenarios that they create through their imagination, such as war enables them to be the saviors. Having kids play out these scenarios makes them understand that they should always afford protection to those they love.
4. It teaches them safety
Children always recognize that weapons hold power. They will always try to remain safe. Parents shouldn’t try to make their children swallow their curiosity. They should always try to ensure that their children know how to be safe. If you as a parent find your child playing with gun props, you can start the conversation asking them what their gun does. Then ask them what it can do to them if misused. You’d be surprised at the answer most of them will give you. As always, learning through practice is better, and this play lays a foundation for you to teach your child safety with weapons.
5. It teaches them weapon responsibility
A child playing with a toy weapon understands what the weapon can do. They realize that the weapons hold power, and with its power responsibilities. They also realize that these weapons are dangerous, and can cause harm easily. They will always be careful even when using props to be safe. This play teaches them how they can use weapons responsibly.
6. It teaches them not to be scared
Children have many intense fears. The fear may be of dogs, clowns, monsters, thunderstorms or other non-fictitious creatures or fictitious ones. Having a toy such as a foam sword can help a child combat such fears. They actually feel safer and believe that they can protect themselves. This play helps them slay their inner fears.
While playing, children can act out their fears and aspirations. This makes them acquire the quality of bravery, which is actually a virtue important in society.
7. God is the ULTIMATE protector
When your sons and daughters are playing this is a perfect time to teach them about God’s love and protection. Children need to learn to lean on God for protection. Prayer is times of fear is the best remedy.
In conclusion, children especially boys should be allowed to play with toy weapons. This is key in their development as restricting those increases their need to do so and can be dangerous. It is also important to ensure you educate your kids on safety with weapons. It has also been shown that real violence does not stem from violence in pretend play. There are signs of real violent behaviors in boys, which a parent should be able to pick up when they are still young. Such behaviors include engaging in fights often or bullying others and enjoying hurting animals.
National teachers’ day is May 8th
Tuesday may 8th is the hallmark of the week between may 6th and 13th, the Teachers Appreciation Week. This day is also called the National Teacher’s Day. This day has been dedicated to honoring teachers and recognizing the contribution that they make in our lives.
The history of this day dates back to the 19th century when the idea was conceived. It is celebrated in many countries worldwide. In the US, it was first celebrated on March 7th, 1980, but plans for this had been long made, since the 1940s. The day was then moved to be the Tuesday of the Teachers Appreciation Week, which is the first week of May. This was done by the National PTA.
- Why are teachers so important
Teaching has been a noble profession that has been around for as long as mankind can recall. Teachers, therefore, have a great responsibility when it comes to shaping society.
Our teachers provide us with the education we require to be successful. The education that teachers provide us with has many aspects.
Since we spend most of our time in the first 20 or so years in schools learning, we interact more with teachers. They help us shape our mentality of the world, they motivate us and even help us discover our skills and talents.
All teachers are important. That kindergarten teacher who taught you how to read and write is as important as the teacher who taught you complex algebra or science. It is just that as the teacher helps you grow, they help you prepare to learn from the next one, who builds helps you expand the knowledge you received from the previous teacher. It would be impossible to get into first grade to learn without someone having taught you how to read and write.
Other reasons as to why teachers are important include: they inspire us, they bring out the best in us and won’t let us fail, and they push us to become better. They also provide us with guidance and great advice on what we need to know and help us remain positive in life. The list is endless.
- I’m homeschooling my daughter Adoniah
Homeschooling is also called home education. But, lets be honest, the first part of every childs education starts at the home. This is where children learns at home, with the guidance of their parent(s) and/or a tutor. The decision by parents not to send their children to a traditional public or private school is based on a variety of reasons. Key reasons cited by parents are the interest to be more involved in their children’s learning and dissatisfaction with the local schools available. I’m homeschooling Adoniah because I want to be really invoolved with her education! Plus, we live 45 moniutes to the closest school, so its easier for me to home school right now.
- Why is homeschooling wonderful
The advantages of homeschooling definitely outweigh the disadvantages. Some advantages are discussed below.
- Spend time with my kids
Getting to spend more time with my kids is one of the great things about homeschooling that I have enjoyed. Spending time with them helps me foster closer family relationships, between me and the children, as amongst themselves. Spending time alone with my kids helps me figure out more about them, and this creates an intimate relationship that helps them grow.
- I’m in charge of what they learn
As mentioned, many parents who homeschool their kids cite dissatisfaction in the local schools. Parents are concerned about the academic instruction, the curriculum, and the lack of ability of the school to cater for their children’s needs. This is not the case in homeschooling as I am in charge of what my children learn. I can provide them with a better learning experience, as there is more ‘teacher-student’ interaction. I can target Adoniah’s specific learning styles which allows her to learn faster and more efficiently. Although there are some phenomenal teachers who teach in traditional schools, it is just impossible to cater to every child’s specific learning style. This is why I love to homeschool.
- We get to do so many fun activities
Fun activities make learning a lot easier. Besides bonding with my kids, these activities actually help them develop their social skills such as critical thinking. These fun activities are also great chances to teach important lessons, as you can be sure they won’t be forgotten. Such activities also create experiences, which traditional schools rarely offer much of.
- My kids are learning faster because they are homeschooled
Learning at home is the best. It has been proven that memory and focus are better when you do something in a familiar environment that is peaceful. Well, applying this principle, homeschooling is expected to produce more results than regular schooling. In as far as I can tell, this is a true statement.
My kids have learned faster, and in much better ways. There is a safer emotional, physical and moral environment which as far as I can tell may not be in the some schools.
- I get to cater their learning disabilities
One advantage of homeschooling is focused teaching with a one on one session. This is important for the teacher, in this case, the parent, in keeping up with the child’s needs. In a conventional school with many students, the teacher may not have the time to focus on every child’s special needs. Catering for these learning disabilities is necessary for the best handling of the problem and ensuring that they are given the necessary attention. I don’t know if either of my children have any disabilities. But, I know I have a medically diagnosed case of dyslexia. School was hard for me because my teachers, although they were wonderful, did not have the ability to help me with my dyslexia.
Teachers play such a significant role in our lives and we are thankful for all that they do every single day. Whether they are former teachers, current teachers, teachers of little loved ones, or just teachers in our lives, we understand how important their job is in student development and learning. There are so many things that come to mind when I think of the word “teacher” and many, many, people that I immediately think about because they have had such a huge impact on my own life. And I know I’m not the only one.
When my husband and I decided to have kids, we moved from our 8,500 ft house on a country club private golf course to 180 acres east of town. We live in the foothills with cows, chickens, our dogs, two gardens, we are second and third generation vegans and our home is 100% free of entertainment media. The last television we ever owned is far enough from the house, it can be used as target practice.
We wanted to give our kids the childhood they deserved, one in which they could have animals and gardens and unlimited space to run and play outside. We didn’t want them growing up in the modern suburban way of being cooped up inside a house, placated by some sedentary form of entertainment – a scenario I see occurring far too often amongst modern day families.
To friends and family, we can seem a little extreme, but what we have found in making these decisions is that in living our lives in a way that best aligns with what we believe in, we reap so many rewards.
When I knew that I was going to be a mother, I made a decision to dedicate myself and all of the gifts that God had blessed me with to being the greatest mom that I could be. When I married my husband, I made a decision to pour everything that I have into being the best wife that I could be.
Deciding to live for what I believe in is one of the first rules I have for creating a life in which I can look back with 100% confidence that I’m on the right track, and have no regrets.
Rule # 1 – Live by your values
This seems like it should go without saying, but the truth is, it is not always easy to listen to your own conscience. Between outside influences – whether it’s other people or the daily stressors of life – and our own human temptations, living by our beliefs doesn’t often come naturally. It takes effort, courage and commitment to lean into your values and allow them to advise your decisions.
Raising my kids without technology requires so much dedication and perseverance from my husband and I, and it requires that we abide by our standards, even when it isn’t socially receptive. But as Christians, we turn to prayer as the means by which we allow God to help keep us from straying.
Once you have made your mind up that compromise is not an option, you’ll find that over time you won’t even miss the things you chose in place of your truest values before. The sense of purpose and fulfillment you will experience will carry you to new heights of peace and clarity.
“And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “this is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left” Isaiah 30:21
Rule # 2 – Take Responsibility for Your Life
We will all face disappointment in our lives. Sometimes we give something our all, and things don’t go our way. Whether it’s losing weight, parenting, pursuing a goal, running a business or supporting a friend or family member, there will be times in life that it seems like we’re giving our all, yet we feel defeated.
For more than a year after I had Kosta, I was sleep deprived in a way that I hadn’t experienced as much with Adoniah. Kosta had trouble sleeping through the night, which made juggling ValMar Health on top of raising a family a heavy load. When sleep goes out the window, so do a lot of other things, such as hormones and food cravings, and the list goes on. I knew that I needed to figure out a way to be in optimal health, and not merely blame my circumstances for why I felt tired all the time. I created something called The Happy Diet, which I plan on sharing with you soon, to help me gain back the energy I needed to be the wife, mom and business owner that I needed to be.
I’ve always been taught that I am in complete control of my life and my results. Rather than make excuses, an important part of living a regret-free life is taking full responsibility for everything that happens to you. This way, it is you who ultimately holds the power to change what needs to be changed in order to achieve the results you desire.
“But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load.” Galatians 6:4-5
Rule # 3 – Think For Yourself
We are relational beings by nature, which can make it really easy for us to slip into concerning ourselves with the thoughts of others and what they think about us.
However, I never desired to be accepted by people who were doing things and consuming things I had no interest in. I remember growing up, hearing others talk about movies or tv shows or things they did over the weekend, and I didn’t feel like I was missing out. I had a full life in which I was always involved with classical ballet, my church, volunteering and academics. My sister Leslie was the same way, she pursued her dream of studying medicine and she’s now a doctor.
My parents raised us to be self assured in our endeavors and not to look to others for validation. I know that in abiding by the plan God has for me and my family, I might not always appeal to popular opinion, but my hope is to inspire those of you who feel deep down that there is a better way, because I can tell you that there is. When you live a life unburdened by the opinions of others, you will find a freedom and a newfound love for life that will positively reinforce you and enable you to live a life truly free of regrets.
“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” 1 Peter 2:9