Sunday, August 30, 2015

Summer Melon Avocado Pudding

From the kitchen of Celestia French 

Summer Melon Avocado Pudding
Before summer is over you must taste this delicate pudding that is creamy and not overly sweet. It’s high in healthy fats and low in sugar, and makes the perfect addition to any meal.

1 avocado, just the flesh
2 cups ripe de-rinded melon
(honeydew or Santa Claus melons are nice because their pale green flesh lends to the delicate hue of the pudding)

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. You might need to stop the
blender and stir the ingredients with a spatula a couple times just to ensure even blending. Place in a
container and allow to chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes (if you can wait that long!).

Serving Tips:
*Serve with a little wedge of lemon...squeeze a few drops of lemon juice over your bowl and enjoy!
*Dress up your pudding with edible flowers such as nasturtiums, marigolds, or pansies.

Celestia French is a published author, yoga therapist, and wellness coach specializing in personalized vitality
optimization. She believes that by nourishing all levels of our being we are able to experience unparalleled
transformation and healing. For more about her offerings, please visit

Monday, August 24, 2015

4 Fall Prevention Activities for Seniors

by Vee Cecil/guest post
For seniors, one of the best ways to reduce fall risk is to get plenty of exercise. Unfortunately, a new study from the United Health Foundation found that one-third of seniors aren’t getting enough physical activity.

Dancing for Life
I truly believe not exercising played a role in my father-in-law’s recent fall. For the most part, he has been in good health, and so any time we suggested he work more physical activity into his daily routine he always assured us that he was healthy as a horse and didn’t need to. But one misstep landed him in the hospital. Thankfully, he only had a broken wrist, but I think had he had the benefit of some balance and agility exercises he might have been able to stop the fall. As part of his recovery, he’s started walking each day with a buddy/neighbor of his, and I can tell it has made a difference for him both physically and mentally.

If you’re a senior who isn’t getting enough exercise, here a few great exercises for fall prevention:

Increase your strength. If you don’t have a clue which type of physical activity will work best for you, these 11 fall prevention exercises are a great place to start. The article also includes advice on how to work your way up to doing the exercises with a 4-lb cuff weight. And here’s some good news: These exercises aren’t just great for fall prevention. According to the CDC, these kinds of strength training exercises also lessen the “signs and symptoms” of the following diseases—arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity, back pain, and depression.

Go for a swim. Swimming isn’t just for the summer. It’s a great year-round way to get a full-body workout. As this article notes, it’s an activity that works well for seniors because it builds muscle strength, improves bone density, and is easy on the joints. The pool also offers a safe place to work on balance exercises. With the support of the water, you don’t have to worry about toppling over or risking a fall while you’re working out.

Try tai chi. You may have seen a Tai Chi class taking place in a local park or community center. As this article from Harvard Medical School notes, it is an “ancient Chinese practice” that helps participants build strength and get a cardio workout through slow, controlled movements. The article also explains that the practice is an excellent way to work on your balance. In fact, it points out that tai chi can “reduce falls in seniors by up to 45 percent.”

Hit the dance floor. There’s no reason why your exercise routine can’t be fun. In fact, if you do enjoy it, it’s more likely you’ll keep it up. So, why not shake your groove thing! As this article from notes, because it focuses on improving “balance and gait,” dancing is a great way for seniors to reduce their risk of falling. It’s also a fun way to spend some time socializing with others.

Making exercise a regular part of your routine is an incredible way to change your life in many positive ways. Yes, you’ll reduce your chances of falling. But you’ll also be making immense improvements to your physical and mental health in the process.

Vee Cecil is a wellness advocate for both human and four-legged creatures. She is a fitness instructor in Kentucky where she lives with her family. She recently launched a blog where she shares her favorite health tips, tricks and recipes.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Ikaria, Greece: Not Just a Place, an Experience

Experience the First Blue Zones Adventure Travel Excursion in Ikaria, Greece from Oct. 4 - 10 or October 18- 24, 2015
 Mihalis Gerakis, 85, of Ikaria, Greece. Photo by Michael Turek courtesy of Blue Zones.

Whatever your expectations may be of a Greek island, Ikaria will surpass them and take you places you never imagined existed. Ikaria is the island where people forget to die. In America, where only 1 in 5,000 people live to be 100, in Ikaria, you’ll find the odds tipped in the favor of vibrant, old age. Experience more than a slice of island life, but a totally different way of living. Ikarians are more in tune with their surroundings and nature, they embody all elements of the Power 9®, which becomes more evident the deeper you move into the mountainous region. Time moves at a different pace with a friendly ethos free of stress.

Ikarians manually tend their gardens and eat what they grow, including vegetables, herbs for their teas, and grapes for their wine.

The natural beauty and ruggedness of the island influences the local philosophy of life.  From forests and rivers, to canyons, rugged mountains and beautiful seas, Ikaria invites you to be immersed in its culture!

Throughout the week, while putting into action the Power 9® principals of the Blue Zones, you will explore Ikaria’s varied landscape: richly forested mountains, dramatic coastlines, ancient ruins, fishing villages, aquamarine waters, hidden beaches, olive groves and thermal pools.

Visit Blue Zones Adventure Travel for details, itinerary, and pricing.  

Furthermore, In the Blue Zone of Ikaria, Greece, dementia is virtually nonexistent. Ikarians work their fields into old age, moving naturally, to stay in shape, physically and mentally.

Photo by Gianluca Colla courtesy of Blue Zones.

Experience the Blue Zones first-hand on our small group adventure to the enchanted island in the Aegean Sea. Just 25 miles off the Turkish coast, Ikaria is removed from the tourism of the other Greek islands. Its isolation has protected time-honored traditions involving food and festivals of song and dance, offering intrepid travelers a unique opportunity to step back in time. The people are truly remarkable, living simply off of backyard gardens, goat herding, wine making and bee keeping.

  Ikarian elders stay naturally active into their 90s.  Here a woman fishes for dinner.

 Photo by Gianluca Colla courtesy of Blue Zones

Visit Blue Zones Adventure Travel for details, itinerary, and pricing. 

October represents the tail end of summer. While you may get by with lightweight clothing, bring pants and sweaters for cooler evenings and don’t expect to swim in the sea. You will need your swimsuit for our thermal pool adventure. Hiking boots and comfortable shoes are a must.

The community of Nas is closely knit and most everyone is related. You will be warmly welcomed into the neighborhood. On the first day you will be greeted with a warm smile and hello; by the second day, you will likely be on a first-name basis.

For a glimpse of life on Ikaria, purchase our DVD featuring Dan Buettner’s visit to Ikaria or check out segments from the recent CNN The Wonder List TV special.

Reserve Your Spot Today!

Friday, May 8, 2015

How to Make Yummy Toasted Spiced Chickpeas
On the lookout for a tasty, quick and easy snack that is good for you?  You can even turn chickpeas, (also called garbanzo beans),  into a appetizing treat!  A bowl of these are perfect when having friends over for happy hour or a potluck. 

Yield: 1 1/2 cups

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (about 1 3/4 cups)
3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1)  Position the rack in the center or the oven and heat the over to 350F

 2) Toss the chickpeas, oil, cumin, garlic salt, chili powder and black pepper in a large bowl until well coated and uniform. Pour into a large, lipped baking sheet and spread into one layer.

 3) Bake until browned and crisp, stirring occasionally, 45 to 60 minutes.  Set the baking sheet on a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer the chickpeas to a serving bowl.  Serve warm or at room temperature with plenty of napkins. 

Bon Appetit!

This recipe is from the book, “Blue Zones Solution, Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People” by Dan Buettner. For more information about Blue Zones, check out

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Eating Healthy Doesn’t Have to Break Your Wallet

Attempting to change America’s eating habits starting with one town, one community or one city at a time is the goal of author, Dan Buettner and his findings that he describes in his new book, The Blue Zone Solutions, Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People. Buettner found pockets on the planet where many centurions are living a happy, awesome quality of life.  Therefore, these areas of hope can be role models to show the United States that lifestyle changes don’t have to be a hardship.

Here are a few of the areas centurions are thriving:

Ikaria, Greece- An Island in the Aegean sea eight miles off the coast of Turkey that has one of the world’s lowest rates of middle-age mortality and the lowest rates of dementia.

Okinawa, Japan- The largest island in a subtropical archipelago, home to the world’s longest-lived women

Ogliastra Region, Sardinia - The mountainous highlands of an Italian island that boast the world’s highest concentration of centenarian men.

Loma Linda, California - A community with the highest concentration of Seventh-day Adventists in the United States, where some residents live ten more healthy years than the average American.

Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica- A place in this Central American country where residents have the world’s lowest rates of middle-age mortality and the second highest concentration of male centenarians.

Furthermore, a team of health experts were asked to identify some common denominators among the centurions and they came up with these nine lessons, that they call the Power Nine:

1) Move Naturally - The world’s longest-lived people don’t pump iron, run marathons, or join gyms.

2) Purpose - The Okinawans call it ikigai and the Nicoyans call it plan de vida; for both it translates to “why I wake up in the morning.”

3) Downshift - Even people in the Blue Zones experience stress, which leads to chronic inflammation, associated with every major age-related disease.  The world’s longest-lived people have routines to shed that stress: Okinawans take a few moments each day to remember their ancestors, Adventists pray, Ikarians take a nap, and Sardinians do happy hour. 

4) 80 Percent Rule - Hara hachi bu--the 2,500-year-old Confucian mantra spoken before meals on Okinawa--- reminds people to stop eating when their stomachs are 80% full.

5) Plant Slant - Beans, including fava, black, soy, and lentil are the cornerstone of most centenarian diets.
6) Wine @5 -  People in all Blue Zones (even some Adventists) drink alcohol moderately and regularly.  Moderate drinkers outlive nondrinkers. 

 7) Belong - All but 5 of the 263 centenarians they interviewed belonged to a faith-based community.  Denomination doesn’t seem to matter.

 8) Loved Ones First-  Successful centenarians in the Blue Zones put their families first. 

9)  Right Tribe -  The world’s longest-lived people choose, or were born into, social circles that support healthy behaviors.

Interestingly enough, I found that I have been living for the most part, the life Buettner describes.  The only thing I am lacking is number 9.  The Right Tribe.  I do have many friends that I love, however, many of them are not living right in my immediate community.  Also, wrapping my head around number 4- the 80% rule is a new concept.  With a partner that loves “all you can eat” buffets.  Well, I have to work on that one. 

In this book, Buettner’s team traveled to Finland, Minnesota, three California coastal towns and Iowa to give us a point by point description of what worked and didn’t work for these towns and communities.  For the most part, the towns embraced the change.  However, there were challenges to overcome.  Humans do have a mind set when it comes to change, but if they can be educated on the overall outcome, there can be positive progress.
This inspiring book is very easy to read and understand that in order to change your lifestyle, you also need to learn how to equip your kitchen and there is a chapter on this as well as easy to prepare recipes compiled from the different countries.  Lots of bean recipes are offered, which is a fairly inexpensive way to stay healthy. So far, I have tried about four recipes of the over fifty offered and found them all tasty and easy to make, especially if you have a slow cooker.   Even if you are a meat eater, you don’t have to give this up, just change your portion size.  And of course, the green smoothie, which is my favorite drink of all time was listed in this selection of recipes. 

This book is a must have for school and home to understand the basics of getting enough of the correct items in your diet.  For many Americans, giving up the junk food seems impossible but their health is the only thing suffering and along with that comes no energy, poor judgements and all sorts of other issues.  Wouldn’t it be a happier world if people understood how eating more healthy does affect the our whole being- mind, body and soul?

Bottom line- Is it working?

Most of us spend about 80% of our lives within about a 20-mile radius of our home.  We do have direct control over how we set up our kitchen, bedroom, yard, and even social network, but managing our bigger life radius is more is more difficult.  Do you live in a community where sodas, salty snacks, and fast food are the cheapest and most accessible choices or one where subsidies and tax policy favor fruits and vegetables?  Are parks maintained?  Can you take a bus to work, and can your kids walk to school or does every trip require you get into your car?  Do zoning ordinances encourage sprawl or favor a vibrant, active inner-city core? 

Although you may not realize it, you have the power to improve some aspects of your life radius.  In the Blue Zone communities, the author has seen people join food action committees to introduce public vegetable garden or propose ordinances to limit the number of fast-food restaurants per block. 

When Buettner asked Bob Fagan how it was working in his community in Iowa, here is his response, “This Blue Zone thing is a journey.  Around here, our habits were solidified when we were kids.  We used to just stuff food in our mouths and not really think about it. So, the idea of eating vegetables felt like a challenge until we tried them and discovered we actually liked them.  Now my grandkids are learning the healthy habits from my daughter and not just eating veggies, but eating at the supper table instead of eating on the run like I did. 

“But how about you personally, Bob?”  Dan pressed. “How have you changed”

“Put it this way, I live in the “pork state” and now I actually sort of think kale is cool”

Therefore, I highly recommend this book for anyone wanting a clearer picture of how you can easily incorporate a healthier change in you, your family and your community.

To learn more about Blue Zones and the impact this information is creating, please visit,

Saturday, April 11, 2015

How to Take Charge of Your Allergies

It’s here.  Allergy season in the San Luis Valley and along with spring comes “The Wind!“  Which only stirs up the dirt and blows any new sprouts everywhere. 

The other day, my allergies kicked my butt and then I learned about a few natural remedies to try without compromising my immune system.  In fact, these remedies build up your immune system.

 “Local” Honey-  It has to be locally from the area, otherwise how could it work?  I have been taking a tablespoon twice a day of my “local” honey and have been very much surprised.  My congestion and sneezing cleared up in about 4 days.  Even with the wind howling.  Honey contains a variety of vitamins and minerals. Commonly, honey contains Vitamin C, Calcium and Iron. If you check the vitamin and mineral content in regular sugar from any other source, you will find it to be completely absent or insignificant. Plus honey has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, so it is often used as a natural antiseptic in traditional medicines. How wrong can you go there?

Bee Pollen- This also has to be local.  It can be used along with the local honey.  Pollen reduces the presence of histamine, ameliorating many allergies. According to Dr. Leo Conway, M.D of Denver Colorado, he reported that 94 percent of his patients were completely free from allergy symptoms once treated with oral feeding of pollen. Everything from asthma to allergies to sinus problems were cleared, confirming that bee pollen is wonderfully effective against a wide range of respiratory diseases.

I thought I might have to get some of this, if my allergies continued.  But, just taking the honey alone proved effective enough. Check with your local health food store for your areas organically grown honey and bee pollen.

Stinging Nettles -  Stinging nettles offer a large amount of Vitamin C as well as iron, silica, potassium and manganese to ease your suffering.  While similar to the dandelion leaf, promoting the elimination of uric acid from joints with an alkalizing diuretic activity. A study conducted by the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon found positive evidence of freeze-dried nettle leaf for treating hay fever, asthma, seasonal allergies, and hives. Australians have been using nettle for years as a treatment for asthma, but Americans didn’t catch on to this until about 1990.  Here are ingredients for a green smoothie that contains stinging nettles. 

    Sweet Allergy Aid
2 cups stinging nettles
1 cup spinach
2 apples
2 bananas
1 piece ginger (1-2 inches)
3 cups water

For more information about Green Smoothies and their regenerative health benefits, visit Join the Green Smoothie Revolution.

If you try any of these remedies, let me know how it goes by posting below this article. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

How Happy is Our Planet?

The Happy Planet Index (HPI) is the leading global measure of sustainable well-being.  

The HPI measures what matters: the extent to which countries deliver long, happy, sustainable lives for the people that live in them. The Index uses global data on life expectancy, experienced well-being and Ecological Footprint to calculate this.

To learn more, visit their website, Happy Planet Index