Yoga Ball Chair For Health

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My second ball. A new ball about every 10-ish years. Not bad.

Switching out a “chair” for a yoga ball! What?! Yep, that’s exactly what I did. I use a yoga ball daily for not only exercise but to “sit” on!

I’m always looking for ways to be kinder to my body and I’m always looking for ways to exercise while not “exercising” if that makes sense. What I mean is I try to get in exercise wherever I can. For instance while brushing my teeth I do leg lifts or wall squats.

Since I do a lot of computer work I wondered if I could work out my abs, legs, and back by sitting on a yoga ball. One thing I noticed right off the bat is my back feeling really good. No more achy feeling. My body didn’t feel tired and I felt more alert.

I experimented by moving my legs forward and back and wiggle side to side; both moves engaged my abs. I was onto something! Both fun and beneficial! I like that! Also, it gave me a great excuse to get rid of my highly uncomfortable chair! (In my forever quest for less stuff, that was another plus.)

I also noticed things like my back “self-adjusting”. And let me tell you… feels amazing!

So this is what I do: Sit on the yoga ball. My feet are flat for support. My legs are about shoulder width apart (I adjust feet positions for a change-up). There’s no rhyme or reason to any of my movements. The key for me is to not be still. I might tap my toes up and down or lift the heels of my feet up and down. I will wiggle side to side, rotate my hips around, move my legs forward and back.

If you give this a try, you can experiment with moves. I find it fun and anything to keep the blood moving is good in my book.

What sitting on a yoga ball does for me:

  • Reminds me to sit tall.
  • Reminds me to pull my tummy in. (Very important.) Always working the core!
  • Helps to adjust/align my spine. I’m always striving for ways to keep my back/spine healthy.
  • Relieves my back pain. I don’t have that nagging pain in my lower back when I’m done sitting anymore. I get up… and back feels great!
  • My abs feel stronger.
  • My low back feels stronger.
  • I’ve always had good posture, but the ball makes sure I do!
  • Keeping my body in motion is important to me, and this does just that!
  • I prefer sitting on a yoga ball now to a standard “office” chair. Or really any chair for that matter. I guess you can say it’s more comfortable.
  • No tailbone pain. I cracked mine a few years back. Owie. Long story…
  • My hips feel stronger. I don’t get that painful “pop” in them as often as I did. And really as I type this now, I can’t remember the last time that happened.
  • If you know me, you know I like doing things that have more than one benefit. If I must sit (computer work) then I want to exercise!
  • Not using a standard chair, I can stretch my arms behind me periodically.
  • My neck and shoulders are more relaxed and I feel the tension is much, much better.
  • Even though I am moving on a yoga ball, I still stand by my “standing up” every 15-20 minutes thing I do. I will do jumping jacks, squats, or even sit-ups and push-ups using the yoga ball. Check out Dr. Mercola’s post here on sitting too long.
  • I am more awake/alert. And that’s important especially if I’m doing research on a topic I find boring.
  • And most of all, it makes me happy!
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See how-to on lamp and desk.

Happy is good! We all have challenges, constant obstacles that get us down, but it’s up to us to get up, challenge those challenges and push those obstacles out-of-the-way. Sometimes as I work, a sad thought will creep into my mind and I know I can’t do a thing about that sad thought…I start bouncing on the yoga ball, almost as if I’m on a trampoline, and well, the sad is still there, but deeper in the back of my mind. In the midst of bouncing, the endorphins go up and I can actually find my smile again.

So if challenges and obstacles are pushing at you…push back!

Hugs to all my Awesomenesses!

Peace, Koko ❤

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Raw Honey

Honey can vary in taste and color.

What kind of vessel the honey is put into has a huge impact on how the honey will taste. Glass is the best container to put honey in as it helps the honey to retain its original taste. That is my number one choice. I prefer most of my containers especially if it is for food to be in glass containers. Say NO to chemicals leaching into your foods! 😛

If you take that same honey and put it into a metal container or a plastic container, both, will have a different taste. Both metal and plastic leech chemicals into the honey and can affect the flavor and the same goes for the color of the honey. The vessel can cause a reaction and the honey color can change. But to be fair, nature changes the honey color as well. For instance raw honey gets darker as it ages.

Flavor, taste, and color can also be different from season to season as well and where/what flowers the bees are getting the pollen from.

Now let’s talk “raw” honey. The main difference is raw honey is NOT heated. The honey you mostly see in stores; the clear, liquid honey, has been treated with heat through pasteurization. It gets filtered this way. Processing honey this way, kills most of the beneficial enzymes and nutrients.

Raw honey gets some filtration action, but they do it in such a way that the good stuff is still in the honey.  Unprocessed honey will give you the maximum amount of all natural antioxidants and the benefits as a whole food.

What I look for when buying honey is the wording raw and the wording un-pasteurized on the label. But it is not as simple as that; I know annoying! Make sure you know where your honey comes from and you can trust the source. Some honey producers will mix their honey with outside sourced honey. It’s cheaper for them to do this and what you are getting is not a good quality honey. Check it’s source!

Raw honey should look thick and cloudy. (see picture). It is a solid at room temp and of course a liquid when heated. The cloudy look means the honey still contains all the healthy goodness; vitamins, minerals, live enzymes, bee propolis and pollen granules.

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Notice how the honey stays on the spoon and the color is not clear.

There are also a variety of unpasteurized honey you may have heard of; there is the raw honey, and buckwheat honey, manuka honey (from New Zealand), wild flower, and a few others.

For the healthiest, best for you honey, go for the raw. You want it unpasteurized, unfiltered, unheated, unprocessed, as it comes straight out of the bees home! Keeping all the goodness in so your body can reap all the benefits!

Go raw!

In awesome health, Koko

Apple Spiced Infused Tea

I baked an Upside-Down Apple Cake last night.  Part of the directions was to boil water and then add the sliced apples, cloves, and cinnamon stick, turn it down and simmer for five minutes…then discard the cloves, cinnamon stick, and water.  Well if you know me, you know I don’t like to waste, as well as I LOVE getting more than one “thing” out of something.  So instead of dumping out this amazing apple/clove/cinnamon infused water, I made tea!

I remembered a tea that http://hariqhuang.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/apple-cinnamon-tea/ Hari made and it sparked my brain, “Brilliant I know what I can do with this apple spiced infused water”!  Oh my! It was so good, that I am doing this every time I make this cake. In fact perfect compliment to it.  When I was a kid and not feeling well, i’d add sliced ginger to this concoction.  Ginger is very soothing for the tummy!

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Apple Spiced Infused Tea

Now even if you are not making this Upside-Down Apple Cake you can still make this infused tea.

Boil 6 cups of water.  While water is boiling…

Peel, core, and slice two apples.  I used granny smith. I like the tartness to them.

After the water comes to a boil…

Add the apple slices

Add 8 cloves

One stick of cinnamon

Simmer for 8-10 min.

Strain out the solids.  Enjoy!

Makes 4 nice mugs full of apple spiced tea!

FYI: If you want you can grate the apple like (Hari) did.  Or, you can slice the apple, then chop up the sliced apples, to expose more of the apple for a deeper infusion. I found just slicing them and simmering them for the 10 minutes did the trick. No real right or wrong.

The flavors will depend on the types of apples used, but if you are an apple lover, then any type of apple will make for a nice tea.

An herbal infusion is a tea that is steeped longer than a couple of minutes and usually more than one herb is used in a larger amount.  By steeping it longer you get the maximum amount of essential nutrients from that particular herb/flower/etc.

Herbal tea is really any “tea” that is non-caffeinated made from an infusion process using any herb, flower, or spice. 

True teas come from the tea bush (Camellia sinensis), which is where we get our green, black, oolong, etc. teas from). 

By the way…The upside -down apple cake was a hit.  Family had it for dessert, then the next morning with half and half poured over top!

This was a happy cake.  We all couldn’t help smiling while eating it.

Here’s to you all having a happy day, no matter what kind of cake your are eating!❀

Flavored Water…Simple and Inexpensive!

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An easy way to drink more water…Get a container, preferably a large one with a lid.  (The one pictured is a 56 oz. bottle). Fill up the container with good clean water.  (I say that because not all water is created equal!)  I don’t always; but drop a tea bag in, any flavor; this one happens to be a passion tea by TAZO.  And sip away.  I will drink one to two of these bottles a day.  And that doesn’t count the hot teas or a cup of coffee I may have throughout the day.

Water is so important for the body.  Did you know that hunger pains you feel could also be a sign of needing to be hydrated?  Water is necessary for many functions of the body; for proper elimination, for great skin, for energy (yep, feelings of sluggishness can be a sign of needing more water). So go grab a bottle and sip throughout your day.  Make it into a game.  My sister-in law and I will text each other back and fourth….”Drank another glass!”  It makes it silly fun 😉

That’s my version of flavored water.  Simple and inexpensive!

What do you do to help you drink more water?

Here’s to Awesome Health,  Koko❀

Chia Seed “Pudding”

Remember the …. Cha cha cha Chia!–The funky clay heads you plant seeds on its head and it grows “hair”?  Same seed, but really a food!

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Magic seeds! Not really, but still amazing! 😉

Chia seeds; This endurance enhancing super-food is one of my top faves. Energy and stamina booster, I so crave and need. These amazing seeds are pumped up with fiber. One ounce gives you 11 grams, as well as 4 grams of protein! Also rich in omega 3 fatty acid, not to mention manganese, phosphorus, and calcium.

You can use Chia seeds as an “egg” replacer in a lot of your baked goods…Hear that vegans?! 😀 Use a 1 to 6 ratio of seed to water. Making a “gel” with it. This replaces one large egg! Very cool right?!

All you do is grind chia seeds in a coffee grinder/spice grinder.  Then measure out 1 tablespoon of chia seeds to 3 tablespoons water. Let stand until it forms a gel like consistency! The magic takes about  5 minutes.  Wah lah! 

When liquid is added to chia seeds, they swell up to 12 times it’s weight! It’s great for helping to feel full longer, to keep you hydrated, which is why they are so popular with athletes. I wish I knew about these in my long distance running days.  A gel like substance actually forms around the seed!  It’s like the seeds own protective bubble. This gel substance is full of nutrients.

Chia is an herb. Salvia hispanica-or-Chia; native to central and southern Mexico and Guatemala. This super food was cultivated by the Aztec in pre-Columbian times. And some historians say that the Chia plant was just as important as the maize crops were in that time period.

You can add these awesome seeds to puddings, on top of hot oatmeal, cold oatmeal, in dressings, in your smoothies, tossed in yogurt, add them to sauces for a thickener, in lemonade; the possibilities are endless. Use them in place of poppy seeds too! You can also use them in place of flaxseed meal in baked goods. I like them best in my drinks, smoothies, oatmeal, and my favorite: a refrigerated no cook “pudding” that I eat for breakfast, lunch, or snack, and sometimes dinner!

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Refrigerated overnight “pudding”. Healthy, energy packed goodness!

Chia pudding can be made a million ways! Really! Made as a dessert or healthy snack.  Even when I say dessert; I still make it healthy-good-for-you-amazing!  The basic recipe is below.  The possibilites in what you put in it really are endless.  Bananas, chopped apples, berries, any fruit really can be added.  Any nuts such as chopped walnuts, toasted almonds, sunflower seeds, roasted pecans…are you getting it? 😀  Even the liquid you use can vary; almond milk, coconut milk, moo milk, water even!  Can you sweeten it? Yep, try honey, agave, maple syrup, cane sugar, brown sugar….whew!  Oh and you can spice it up too; cinnamon, Himalayan sea salt, nutmeg…see how this can go on and on and on? 😉

Okay here’s what I put in my pudding that I had for breakfast today:

Chia Pudding

1 cup of coconut milk

2 tablespoons of Chia seeds (I buy NOW foods and Nutiva brands as well as a few others. Nutiva Organic Chia Seeds, 12-Ounce Bag is what I use right now.  I am partial to anything ORGANIC! You can buy these at most health food stores.)

2 tablespoon of Organic Goji Berries

1 tablespoon of Organic Coconut Flakes

Stir and put in refrigerator overnight.  I mix mine in a glass dish that has it’s own lid.  Pop the lid on, put it in the refrigerator…next day take lid off, give it a stir, and enjoy!  If you want to eat this for lunch, snack, dinner, you can make this about 3 hours before you want to eat it.  Overnight is just easy for me.  I will make a few variations at night and the next day or two I will have them ready.  I wouldn’t make more than I can eat up in 2 day period.  This doesn’t take long to set up; really you are waiting until it gets cold and the chia seeds soak up all the liquid goodness.

Just keep in mind 1 cup of liquid to 2 tablespoons of Chia seeds.  If you want it thicker or thinner; just adjust the liquid.  Try this amount and go from there. 😀

FYI: I try and buy everything organic when I can.  If you see a recipe/ingredient/anything consumable-edible that I write about; if I’ve left out the “organic”, just know I try my utmost best to buy organic.  Because I didn’t write it doesn’t mean it’s not.  So what I am saying is, try and eat organic as much as you can.  😀

Hope you’ve this post and if you make this amazing pudding and or your variation on it; PLEASE let me know. I’d love to hear what you’ve come up with!

In Awesome Health, Koko

Cacao or Cocoa…or Potato or Pa-tah-to…

It’s like saying potato or pa-tah-to…tomato or ta-ma-to…

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Chocolate experts say that cocoa should be pronounced ka-kow. When you hear cacao (ka-kow); that usually is referring to the tree itself, the pods, and the bean inside of the pods. When you hear of cocoa (ko-ko) that is usually referring to the by-product of the cacao bean; which are the cocoa powder and the cocoa butter.

Cacao nibs and cocoa powder both come from “cocoa beans”. The difference is cacao nibs are still in the “raw” state. It hasn’t been cooked or processed, whereas cocoa powder has been cleaned, roasted, and processed.

As for the taste; I just did a taste test…I am probably not a good person to ask this as I can eat both plain and not mind it at all, since I do add both organic cocoa powder as well as organic raw cacao nibs to my yogurt and smoothies. The taste doesn’t come off as unpleasant. But If I had to describe it, I would say both have somewhat “bitter” taste. But again, I don’t mind that at all. I eat a lot of things for the health benefits. And actually now I enjoy the taste of them plain.

I hope this clears up a little about the differences in raw cacao nibs and cocoa/cocoa powder/cocoa butter, all stemming from the same little bean. 😀

Cacao Nib Smoothie

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Happiness Smoothie!

I enjoy smoothies.  It’s fun to experiment and also a great way to get down more nutrients in a single glass.  My smoothies change with what I know I need nutrient wise and what I am doing in any given day.

Today my smoothie consisted of about 6-8 ounces of milk, one whole banana, 25 almonds, 1-2 tablespoons of raw cacao nibs, and a scoop of whey protein powder. All blended up in a high-powered blender until…well….smooth.  Hehehehe 😉

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FYI…..

Cacao nibs: Rich source of antioxidant flavonoids.  Great for promoting cardiovascular health.  It fights against toxins that we constantly face. The flavonoids in raw cacao nibs can help improve circulation and blood pressure.  My favorite is it helps assist the body to repair and resist against free radicals; a toxin no one needs in their body.  There are other benefits too, being a good source of manganese; which helps to oxygenate the blood and a fab source of magnesium which helps with brain power, (I so need that!).  Cacao nibs are rich in sulfur and that means stronger hair and nails and awesome skin. Consuming cacao nibs helps with PMS and depression.  It stimulates our endorphins boosting our mood naturally! There’s 5 grams of protein in an ounce serving, not to mention 7 grams of fiber.

Try them in smoothies, granola, cookies, just popping them into your mouth!

Are you a smoothie drinker?  Any favorites?

I’m off to bike the hills in my neighborhood.  I shoot for 5 miles; that makes me happy, 8 miles I am excited, 10 exhausted, but super satisfied.  We will see what I can do today.  The weather is beautiful. The sun is out and sky is blue; touched with white puffy clouds. It will be a good thinking day as I ride.

Have a happy day, Koko 😉 ❀ ✿ ❁ ✾

Facial Spray…Geranium Essential Oil, The Happy-Healing Oil!

I love geranium essential oil. It smells fabulous! It instantly uplifts me; and I almost can’t help but smile and sigh. It really is that nice. I like to put this oil in my facial oils, perfumes, lotions, and facial mists that I make. Sometimes just a swipe of this scent on my wrist is all I need to keep me going.

Geranium essential oil not only smells good it’s wonderful for the skin; It balances the facial skin at the same time it’s very healing. Geranium EO is great for a myriad of issues such as eczema, bruises, burns, wound healing, repelling insects, and getting rid of ring worm too! (among other things) Geranium also is helpful for PMS, depression, anxiety, stress. So you see why I love this oil. It’s the happy healing oil!

Make sure you trust where you are buying your oils from and they are very good oils and not synthetic. Synthetic oils can be really harmful.

If you are looking to try essential oils, give geranium essential oil a shot. It’s one of my favorite oils.  You can add a few drops to lotions and sprays you are already using.  Make a simple perfume oil and dab on your pulse points for an uplifting feel all day. (I will post a recipe on that later if anyone is interested.)

Here is a facial spray I make. Best to keep refrigerated for longer lasting freshness (also feels intensely refreshing on a warm day or hot flashes anyone?) but you will most likely use it all before it expires. Right now mine is in my apothecary cabinet which is in a dark area of the house.

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You will need:
1 one 3oz bottle (The darker the better; as you can see mine is clear, but that was what I had on hand and as I’ve said, I keep it in a dark place.)

2 tablespoons witch hazel (if you can find rose witch hazel; sub out for the plain.  Smells wonderful. I like Thayers Witch Hazel with Aloe Vera Rose Petal 12 fl oz)

2 tablespoons distilled water

1/2 teaspoon glycerin

10 drops of almond oil

10 drops of geranium essential oil

5 drops of lavender essential oil

Tip: I use a small funnel and pour everything in the bottle as I go. You can use a glass measuring cup with a pour spout to mix everything together, then pour into your bottle.
Shake before using every time.
Spray liberally. I find myself spritzing my face 2-3 times a day. (Sometimes more! 😉 )
Can use as a body spray too! Nice double duty! Love that!

Clean Without Toxins And Clean On The Cheap!

To clean my home can be a challenge seeing how not only are there humans running around (and a revolving door for friends); there are eleven furry beings, one reptilian, and oh I can’t forget the itty bitty dwarf hamster my son got me for a birthday gift almost 4 years ago. I clean, clean, and when I think I am done, I clean some more.

There are many products we buy at the market that can be very poisonous to our pets and if they are poisonous to our pets just think how toxic they are to us. I’ve been making my own cleaners for better part of two decades as my daughter came into this world sensitive to most everything. Before my little bouncing joy was here I can remember as a girl getting out the mop bucket and vinegar. What vinegar didn’t clean away there was baking soda. Over the years I learned and added some other things to my arsenal cleaning; peroxide and essential oils, oh and can’t forget the power of lemon (yep the whole fruit and nothing but the fruit, skin and all!

I will be posting recipes and what I do to clean my home in a part one, two, three…well you get it? I don’t want to bore you completely by giving it to you all at once!

Okay this is what I do for my sinks and tub (anything with a drain that can get gunk build up over time).

Drain cleaner—A great drain cleaner I use is baking soda, white vinegar, and hot water. I boil two pots of water. Pour one pot down the drain to loosen up debris, oils, just normal gunk that accumulates in a drain. Then I sprinkle 1/2 cup baking soda around the area (I usually take the time to rub the baking soda around (sink bowl) and clean (sink bowl) while I’m at it. Follow up with a cup of white vinegar poured all around the sink bowl. Then I pour a second pot of hot water down the drain. (You don’t have to follow up with a second pot of hot water; I just do). I do this to all sinks and tubs. Kids love watching the foaming action between baking soda and vinegar. Science project! (btw…I do this once a week or two. Better to keep the drains clean and clear then to call a plumber!)

This cleans brilliantly and just smells clean. 🙂

     Hint: If you want a “smell good” smell; drop a drop or two of lemon, orange, or lavender essential oil down during last pot of water.  These essential oils disinfect too; killing those nasty germs!

Baking soda is awesome! It scrubs nice and easy without scratching. It removes most stains (I have yet to meet a stain in my house I couldn’t get out) and gunk. It is amazing polisher for shiny things like my faucets. What I love…it deodorizes! Does all that and is inexpensive too!

White vinegar is my workhorse. Gets through a lot of scum. It disinfects and is a deodorizer as well. Oh and that stuff is inexpensive as well.  Love that!

Try the drain cleaner and please let me know how it works for you…

……In fabulous health, Koko

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Lavender-Peppermint Lip Balm

Lavender and peppermint essential oils; I never run out of theses two oils. They are so good for so many concoctions that I make.

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Butters, essential oils, and finished lip balm in tin (still warm) 😉

Here’s a great lip balm using these two essential oils.

1 teaspoons shea butter
3 teaspoon cocoa butter
5 drops of lavender essential oil
8 drops of peppermint essential oil (don’t worry if you put a drop or two more of either oil in; I’ve put up to 10 drops of peppermint oil in this recipe)

*This makes a soft lip balm.  If you want a harder lip balm; add 1/2 tsp of beeswax (melt down with the butters.)

*You can buy tins or jars to put the finished product in or just reuse an old lip balm container. Just wash it well (sanitize it).

*As for the ingredients; there are many places you can purchase essential oils. Just make sure they are essential oils and not scented oils. Huge difference. Stay away from scented oils/scented anything. (Toxic stuff; in my humble opinion) Mountain Rose Herbs sells many things besides essential oils. Check them out for teas too! Swanson Vitamin (on line) sells essential oils and oils such as, almond, sesame and avocado; I use for my face serums. Whole Foods has essential oils and other oils like olive oil.  I’ve bought pure cocoa butter from them before. Just read labels. Make sure you are buying the real stuff.

How to:
Melt shea butter and cocoa butter. You can use a small pot with heat set on low. You can also use a heat proof glass dish set in a pot of boiling water. What I do is use a glass measuring cup and set it in a pot of boiling water to melt my oils, butters, any facial product, or salves that I make. Makes it easy to pour into containers.

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Small pot filled half-full of water. Heat proof measuring cup set in pot.

After your butters are melted let cool for about 5 minutes. You don’t want the heat to evaporate all your essential oils away!

Add your drops of essential oils.

Stir and pour into container. Let cool completely before capping.
There are a virtually thousands and thousands of ways to make lip balm. Experiment on your own and have fun. Orange essential oil and cocoa butter makes for a deliciously chocolaty smelling lip balm!

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Finished lip balm. Solidified nicely! 😀