Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Breakfast is for Champions

Many Americans usually skip breakfast or have something small like a cup of coffee, a cup of juice or a piece of toast first thing in the morning. We then have a medium sized meal at lunch and a huge dinner. However, this routine has a way of unbalancing your appetite and your energy throughout the day. Studies show that people who eat breakfast regularly are at much lower risk for obesity. Dieters who take up the habit of eating breakfast keep weight off for the long term. What makes breakfast so essential?

When you think about it, when you've first woken up is the longest time you've gone without eating (the word "breakfast" is short for "breaking the fast", or eating after abstaining from food for a long period). There are usually 6 to 12 hours that have passed between dinner and when you first wake up in the morning. You may not be initially very hungry because you are not fully awake or because you are dehydrated. But by mid-morning you start snacking. This also sets you up to make unhealthy lunch choices and overeat at dinner. Having a heavy meal late at night makes it difficult to sleep soundly. A bad night's sleep leaves you with less energy throughout the next day, making you eat sweet foods or drink caffeine to keep your energy up.

It seems like we've got it all backwards. Rather than skipping breakfast and then continually increasing our food intake throughout the day, having a hearty, nutrient rich breakfast sets you up for success. A decent sized breakfast keeps you full, awake and focused, helps you choose a healthier midday lunch, and then at dinner a small meal keeps you satiated while you wind down for a deep sleep.

Of course, what you eat also has a lot to do with how well changing your meal sizes works for you. But doctors and nutritionists agree that some breakfast, even sugary cereal or a pastry, is better than no breakfast at all. But it's best to eat a high volume of nutrient rich foods. 50% or more of your meal should be fruit or vegetables and the remaining portion should be protein, whole grain or a combination of the two. Some good meal ideas are:

  • Peanut butter on gluten free waffle with a banana
  • Warmed up plums with real maple syrup, pumpkin pie spice, and oatmeal
  • Smoothie made with frozen strawberries and OJ or milk
  • Half of a whole grain bagel with egg, arugula and a slice of cheese
  • Make quick soup by reheating leftover brown rice, frozen spinach and vegetable broth
  • Granola over non-dairy yogurt with blueberries
  • Sliced fruit with milk, walnuts, almonds and a sprinkle of cinnamon and honey
  • Leftover steamed veggies with eggs or tofu, spoonful of salsa in a whole grain wrap

Try it out for a week and feel the difference in your day. Until next time, keep it clean!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Roller Derby: A History!

     Here at Azuma, we don't just support healthy living, being active, and laundry - we also support all things local! Roller Derby was brought back to life by a group of ladies in Austin. I personally, have a newfound obsession with Roller Derby and want to get involved, so I felt the need to post about it today! Here goes :) 
     Roller Derby history beings in the 1880s, though the official term "roller derby" wasn't used until 1922, when the Chicago Tribune used the term to describe flat-track roller skating races held at Chicago's Broadway Armory. "Roller Derby" became trademarked by Leo Seltzer, the man credited with revolutionizing roller derby and securing its place as a legitimate sport.
     Although roller skating and roller skating races were taking place well before Leo Seltzer came onto the scene, he took a sport with fledgling popularity and turned it into a nationwide phenomenon. In 1935 Seltzer, the owner of several Oregon cinemas, was tired of losing business to dance marathons, which were quite popular at the time. Reading an article that stated that 93% of Americans had tried roller skating, he created the Transcontinental Roller Derby, which featured teams racing the equivalent of the distance from New York to California, or 3,000 miles-all over a flat track. Roller derby history demonstrates that each team had to have at least on member on the track at all times. Following the success of his first race, Seltzer took the troupe on the road and eventually selected teams that would compete in Chicago, Miami, Louisville and Detroit.
     It was at one of these races in roller derby history, in Miami, that sportswriter Damon Runyon saw the marketing potential in the large collisions and other physical contact that occurred as teams tried to pass each other. He approached Seltzer and suggested he change the rules of the game to maximize the physical contact between the skaters, which included elbowing, "whipping" and slamming each other into the track's outer rail. Though Seltzer resisted the idea at first, he decided to experiment with the changes and found that the fans loved them.
     Seltzer trademarked the name Roller Derby and took his troupe on the road. After a brief lull in popularity during World War II when many competitors joined the Armed Forces and the fans had other things on their mind, Roller Derby received a huge boost when it began being broadcast on CBS. Roller Derby saw many highs and lows over the next 30 years, but by the mid-1970s, it had collapsed. Roller Derby history then underwent several professional, on-and-off TV revivals which were spearheaded by veteran skaters, including a 10-year International Roller Skating League (IRSL), and a few short-lived, TV-only spectacles.
     Today Roller Derby has been revived by a group of women who have returned the sport to its original athletic roots. In 2001 Bad Girl Good Woman Productions (BGGW) was formed and creates the first all-girl roller derby game of the new generation. Founders form four teams and, a year later, stage their first bout during the summer of 2002 in Austin, Texas. Shortly after, the league later suffers a split over business plans. In 2002 The Texas Rollergirls are formed from members of the first BGGW teams. The BGGW league (also known as the Lonestar Rollergirls or Texas Roller Derby) go on to skate banked-track roller derby, while the new Texas Rollergirls embrace the flat-track format. It is now an international sport that provides equal amounts of entertainment and athleticism to its viewers. Until next time, keep it clean! :)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Fall Into Heathly Routines

   Depending on where you are in the country, fall is well underway. With the cooling temperatures, comes a sense of change and newness. Fall is a time of transformation, the temperature drops and the leaves start to turn color, before ascending to the ground below. With this seasonal shift, however, it is important to remain grounded to ensure you get the most out of this time of change.
   Ayurveda is the ancient "science of life" that defines and separates people into three main categories, called doshas. The dosha most prevalent in the fall is vata. This dosha corresponds with the elements air and space, and is associated with the nervous system. Therefore, if a vata imbalance is to occur, it can greatly affect your mental state - that is why it is so important to stay grounded! Here are a few ways to help keep your vata balanced this season:


   Yoga is recommended for each type of dosha, but especially when a vata balance is at stake. During this season, you want to choose asanas that focus on the lungs and large intestine. Also, you'll want to keep a routine and try to do yoga for the same amount of time (at the same time) each day. A few poses that are very beneficial this season are: Twists (twisted sage pose), Side Stretches (head-to-knee forward bend), Backbends (camel pose), Warrior poses, and Sun Salutations (to keep your body warm)!


   During the fall, you want to focus on warming foods to keep vata balanced. Hot teas and warm soups are extremely beneficial during these cooling months. Avoid raw, uncooked food as it has a tendency to cause vata imbalance. Eat foods that are warm, moist, and cooked in oil, butter, or ghee. Eating root vegetables helps to ground and connects you to the earth, so focus on these in your stews and soups. Keep in mind that salty, sweet, and sour tastes are calming to vata, so plan your meals accordingly.


   Routines are always helpful, but more so when vata is present. You'll want to keep strict on your waking and sleeping schedules, aim to be in bed before midnight if you can. It is recommended you be asleep by 10pm, which some might be able to do but with most people's work/life schedules I think it's a bit unlikely these days. Regardless, you want to make sure you get the minimum 6 hours of sleep to ensure proper rest. Aim to meditate for at least 10 minutes upon waking and just before going to sleep. I like to YouTube guided meditations like this one. During the colder months, you want to use body oils to keep the skin moist and supple. This also reduces the vata emotions of anxiety, depression, fear, and nervousness.

   These are just a few of the beneficial practices you can use to keep yourself grounded and balanced this season.  I hope you have learned something new and encourage you to look further into Ayurvedic living. Think warm, happy thoughts and have a wonderful fall day! :)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Easy Weeknight Recipe: Spaghetti Bread

   I love to cook Italian food, especially the old fallback, spaghetti. It was the first dish I ever made on my own and it's always a good stand-by for nights when you don't feel like "cooking." However, if you're anything like me, you are TERRIBLE at measuring those tall, thin, spaghetti noodles. I always over-think the amount that goes into the pot, add more at the last minute, and then end up with a huge pile of cooked pasta. What's a girl (or guy!) to do with all of the left overs? Two words: Spaghetti Bread.
   I came across a pin for this recipe on Pinterest and have been wanting to make my own version for quite awhile. With leftover spaghetti from the lazy night before, I created a next day meal that you won't want to wait for! Here's what you need to get started:

  • cooked spaghetti noodles (though I imagine this would work with any pasta)
  • marinara or spaghetti sauce
  • mozzarella cheese (cubed or shredded)
  • pizza dough (store-bought or you can use my recipe here. :))
  • optional: garlic powder, dried basil, coconut milk/eggwash, mixed veggies, meats, ect.
   Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the pasta and marinara together with any veggies or other additions. Like I said, mine was leftover so it was already mixed and had cooked red onion/pepper as well. Now you want to roll your pre-made pizza dough out on the counter, or onto some parchment paper, into a large rectangle. Then, pile the spaghetti in the center of the dough. Next add a layer of cheese, cubed or shredded, onto the spaghetti. You will then cut along the dough so there is an even amount of flaps on both sides. Then braid the flaps together, tucking in both ends. Next you can brush the top with either an eggwash (egg + water) or a little coconut milk. I then sprinkled with garlic powder, basil, and a little salt and pepper. Parmesan cheese would have been delightful on top as well, but I was lacking that. Now you will bake in the oven for 35 minutes until nicely brown. Let cool as long as you can and then serve!
   This makes a lot of food and would pair nicely with a light salad for your next dinner party! It's like French bread and spaghetti that you can eat in one bite! Until next time, stay hungry and let us know how your spaghetti bread turns out in the comments section below! :)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Green Tea Alternative: Yerba Mate

If you're like me, your day hasn't really begun until you've had a hot cup of tea or coffee. I don't know if what I drink has so much to do with waking me up as it does with bringing a little comfort and calm to my morning ritual. Sometimes I'll have espresso, chai tea, black tea, green tea, or even dandelion "coffee". My new favorite addition to my pantry has been yerba mate.

Yerba mate (pronounced yur-ba mah-tay) is a common tea drink found in South America made from a variety of the holly tree. The aroma is earthy and the flavor is similar to green tea but has an added richness and a bold, almost smoky flavor.

Similarly to green tea, yerba mate both energizes and calms. It contains caffeine and has been shown to stimulate your heart, waking you up and making you more alert. It also contains compounds which relax smooth muscle tissue, making it a great alternative to coffee which makes some people feel anxious and jittery. Regular drinking of mate, like green tea, can boost your metabolism, making it easier for your body to burn and use fat stores. It also amazingly contains theobromine, the compound in cacao that attracts chocolate addicts. You can get a bit of your chocolate fix without eating a candy bar!

On top of just being a pleasant beverage that wakes you up, yerba mate also acts similarly to herbal tisanes in that it contains vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It contains A, C, E, B1, B2, Niacin (B3), B5, B Complex, Calcium, Manganese, Iron, Selenium, Potassium, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Zinc. The minerals and antioxidants help your body to repair itself, helping you look younger longer and helping to stave off cancer.

There are lots of delicious, healthy and accessible alternatives to foods you regularly eat. I hope you try mate and love it! Look for it in the tea section of your grocery store. Until next time, keep it clean!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Death by Optimism

When I first read about studies that optimism derails people from reaching their goals, I thought it could not possibly apply to me. I think of myself as a pragmatist and don't tend to have an overly sunny outlook on life. However, this particular brand of optimism that scientists were researching is quiet and insidious, and has a way of influencing you when you're thinking about it the least. The more I read, the more I realized the study put words and description to something to which many of us fall prey but have difficulty describing or understanding. Here are a few more tips on understanding optimism and how it effects your willpower from the collected research of Dr. Kelly McGonigal.

Have you ever set a goal for yourself that seemed simple enough, but even after working at it for months you seemed to barely make any progress? You may be slipping up to a mind game your brain is naturally inclined to play called moral licensing. When you find yourself doing a good deed, or even thinking about something that you consider virtuous (such as picking a salad over a hamburger, saving money at the store, donating to charity, switching to energy efficient light bulbs, etc.) you are far more likely to give yourself a "pass" on doing something you consider bad because you feel like you earned it. You may not even realize you're doing it, and the bad thing you do doesn't even have to be related to what you've just done. Doing or thinking about doing something good makes you more likely to do a range of "bad" things, from cheating on tests to lying or stealing.

With this kind of mentality, it's easy to understand where procrastination comes from and why it persists, or why some people have an especially difficult time with goals such as losing weight. Even thinking about doing something good for yourself or others, or making a list to complete a project you consider good, gives you the same high as actually doing it. It's enough of a high that you are just as likely to reward yourself today with a piece of chocolate cake for working out tomorrow, or with an extra half hour of TV for the extra studying you'll be doing tonight. You're already giving yourself a reward for a job you haven't done!

It doesn't make sense to have cake when you're trying to get healthy or to spend more time on the couch when you are trying to make time for homework because it obviously doesn't line up with your long-term goal at all. You're taking one step forward by working out and feel so great about it and the progress you see yourself making in the future that exercising somehow negates the act of eating cake completely in your mind. You're allowing your feelings about your progress to cloud your judgment, ultimately getting you nowhere nearer to where you need to be.

It is, however, necessary to see ourselves as able to make progress in the future, otherwise we would never pursue our goals. So how do you escape these cycles of reasoning? The easiest way is to not allow yourself to have the opportunity to "reason" with yourself or talk yourself into or out of something. Rather than seeing working towards your goals as a choice, make rules and stick with them. Don't say to yourself "I could read an extra hour tonight," instead say "I always read an extra hour each night."

Rules cut out a lot of harmful "reasoning" with yourself. But when rules fail, the most important step seems to be in changing how you look at yourself. Rather than seeing yourself as a good person who earns rewards or a bad person that earns punishment and constantly testing yourself, see yourself as being a person in line with the values that are the best for yourself, others and the world around you. When you are playing both parent and child to yourself and constantly debating about right and wrong, you tend to choose and reason for what will serve you best in the moment. Write down your long term goal that you're trying to reach and focus on that, and keep it with you. If knowing that finishing school with great grades will lead to better pay and more independence, studying that extra hour no longer seems like such a chore, but a necessity for the type of person you want to be. If you are at risk of heart disease and know that running a little longer will improve your overall health and energy and increase your lifespan so you can be there for your kids, debating over that cake as a reward when you're done seems silly and insignificant in comparison.

Knowledge and understanding are the first steps to progress. Be more self-aware and more paths for opportunity and change will open up to you. Until next time, keep it clean!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Essential Nutrient: Water!

     Today I want to talk about something real simple, that the majority of us clearly don't get enough of: Water! Studies have shown that 2/3rds of Americans don't drink enough water! We can go without food for weeks but without water we die of dehydration in a few days. Over two-thirds of our body is water yet most of us don’t clearly understand the importance of drinking plain water. Water is the most abundant compound in the human body and is necessary for the digestion of food, for the transport of food to the tissues, for the elimination of body wastes, for the circulation of body fluids, for a lubricant in the joints and internal organs - keeping them moist permitting the passage of substances between the cells and blood vessels - and for the regulation of body temperature. Water Is part of the blood system holding dissolved minerals, like calcium and magnesium in solution, making them available to the body tissues when they an required for proper health.
     Most of us have heard or read about these many functions of water yet ironically most of us are suffering from dehydration. We have been lead to believe that only when we experience a "dry mouth" must we be lacking adequate water. This medical misunderstanding has resulted in pervasive, chronic dehydration with subsequent health problems.
    Some of the problems treated and alleviated with adequate water intake are asthma, allergies, hypertension, high cholesterol levels, headaches, migraines, low back pain, rheumatoid arthritic joint pain, angina pain and intermittent pains (cramp like pain in the legs due to insufficient blood supply). As people age, they lose their thirst sensation and become gradually, chronically - dehydrated. All too frequently we tend to confuse thirst with hunger and instead of drinking water we eat, leading to weight gain.
    The physiological effects of drinking plain water is not the same as drinking beverages that contain water like: juices, sodas, coffee and tea. In fact, some of these liquids, coffee and tea, contain dehydrating agents (caffeine and theophylline) which stimulate the central nervous system which at the same time creating a strong diuretic action on the kidneys.
     Your body needs a minimum of 6 to 8 ounce glasses of water each day. Remember, alcohol, juice, sodas, coffee, and tea don’t count as water.  Most of us will find that we are drinking no more than 3 to 4 glasses per day, not 6 to 8. Thirst should be satisfied at all times with water. The more we pay attention to the body’s constant need of water the healthier we will be. Having a "dry mouth" is the last outward sign of extreme dehydration. Which can easily be avoided by drinking the proper amounts of water. Many medications actually dehydrate the body leading to more severe problems.
     Keep in min, the human body is roughly composed of 25 percent solid matter and 75 percent water. Brain tissue is said to consist of 85 percent water and the blood is 90 percent water.
Water - plain, properly filtered water - is an overlooked and essential nutrient and may be your missing ingredient to a healthier, more vibrant, and longer life. Did you know that an American taking a five-minute shower uses more water than the average person in a developing country slum uses for an entire day? Not only that, but a typical individual in the United States uses 500 liters of water each day! Lets all take advantage of the fact that we have water accessible at every hour of the day! Drink up, it's good for your health! Until next time readers, keep it clean! :)