The importance of being a peach

Peaches may not be giant nor have the ability to magically transport us across realms, but they are as equally important as watermelon, pineapple and berries when it comes to healthy summer fruit. The fuzzy, sometimes white, sometimes peach fruit from the Prunus persica tree, is chock full of vitamins A and C and has fewer than 70 calories and three grams of fiber. peach-932777_1920

Originally from Asia, the origin of the fruit in America dates back to 1571, when Franciscan friars introduced them to St. Simons and Cumberland islands along Georgia’s coast, according to the Georgia Peach Council’s website. Since then, they have remained a popular fruit ultimately earning Georgia the “Peach State” moniker. Peaches are now grown in 47 U.S. states and come in two main varieties (white and yellow flesh).

Here are 10 ways a peach is the ultimate summer fruit.

  1. A ripe peach is perfect on a hot summer day
  2. It can be used in recipes from pies and salads to meat dishes
  3. It can be eaten raw or cooked
  4. Can help improve vision
  5. Improves digestion
  6. Has anti-aging properties
  7. Has a pleasant, fragrant smell
  8. Can be spread on toast
  9. Can aid in hyperactivity
  10. It’s soft and delicious

Peaches come in many varieties and can be enjoyed fresh, frozen, dried, canned and in jelly form. When choosing canned peaches look for labels with “packed in its own juice,” “lite,” or “no sugar added.” These are healthier choices.

 

For more information on the fruit, check out Georgia Peach Council and National Peach Council’s websites. Click here for recipe ideas.

 

17 fabulous ways water makes us happy

A glass of cold water with lime. A steep waterfall. A luxuriously scented bubble bath. Water is all around us. It can help to calm and to clear our minds, relieving stress and anxiety. Ancient peoples have looked at water as a powerful source of birth and renewal. It’s no wonder it’s the one vital thing we need to survive. As we begin a new year, one full of new energy and possibility, we can invoke the ancient healing power of water to be happier.

Marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols wrote about the transcendental effects of water in his book, Blue Mind: The surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On or Under Water Can Make you Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What you Do (Little, Brown and Company, 2014). In it, he combines scientific explanations with personal stories of people who have experienced life-altering changes from being near or in water.

Here are 17 ways you can surround yourself with water. So, go ahead and take a plunge, a toe-dip, a boat ride or a chic beach vacation and feel happier.  detox-684107_1920

  1. Drink cold water from a carafe
  2. Sing in the rain
  3. Swim in an infinity pool
  4. Catch a wave
  5. Water a plant
  6. Bathe in scented oil (try Floating Island Luxury Bath Oil by Lush Cosmetics)
  7. Bathe in sea salt (try Calm Dead Sea Bath Salts by Margaret Elizabeth)
  8. Watch fish swim in an aquatic tank
  9. Stand in a waterfall
  10. Wash your hands (try Shea butter Liquid Soap-Verbena by L’Occitane) aquariums-1867308_1920
  11. Take a hot shower
  12. Get a pedicure (for added benefit, try a variation with milk and honey or chocolate)
  13. Shampoo your hair (anything with lavender, mint or honey)
  14. Plug in a tabletop fountain
  15. Relax near a public fountain
  16. Take a cruise
  17. Have a hot or cold cup of tea

 

 

10 uses for coconut oil before 9 a.m.

With the myriad of articles that have been published touting the benefits and multiple uses of coconut oil, it’s no wonder coconut oil users feel are obsessed with this natural oil. It can be used as a skin and hair moisturizer, a cooking oil, makeup remover and a bug repellent, to name a few. But how many more ways can we incorporate coconut oil into our daily lives? I’ve pulled from some sources and found some awesome ways to add a bit of the essential oil to your healthy morning routine.

  1. Coconut oil as coffee creamer. A teaspoon or so of oil can be added to your morning coffee as a natural sweetener. Note: The American Heart Association recommends no more than 13 grams of saturated fat, one tablespoon (found in coconut oil) per day.
  2. Coconut oil can be used to make a natural soap that is both moisturizing and antibacterial.
  3. After showering, try slathering up with oil to damp skin before toweling off.
  4. If you prefer baths, add a teaspoon of oil to your bath along with an essential oil like lavender.
  5. Use coconut oil as deodorant as an alternative to store brands that often contain harsh chemicals.
  6. Coconut oil as face moisturizer. Cleanse your face and add oil to moisturize dry winter skin.
  7. Or use coconut oil as a cleanser using the oil cleanse method by applying coconut oil to your face and then following with a warm, wet cloth.
  8. Mix coconut oil, lemon juice and a dollop of your favorite essential oil to naturally strengthen eyelashes while you sleep.
  9. Coconut oil as toothpaste. Apply to teeth along with baking soda and essential oils as a naturally cleansing alternative.
  10. Apply a bit of oil to chapped lips.

Sources: health.com, wellnessmama.com

4 essential items to keep you healthy while traveling

When it comes to luxury travel, nothing is more synonymous than the color green. Both the color of money and nature, it symbolizes growth, harmony, freshness and energy. Until recently, “green” or “eco-travel” meant roughing it in a rainforest with a camouflage backpack, plastic water bottle and a map of local hostels. The more recent “discovery” that eco-travel could be more than glamping (glamorous camping) has opened a new world of travel and with it, new must-haves from low-cost to expensive.  Here are a few of my favorite finds.

Bamboo Travel Pillow

If you’re like me, you struggle with finding a comfortable seating position on a plane. This ultra comfy neck pillow contains memory foam to conform to your ideal resting position. It’s made from bamboo, a renewable plant, so it’s also good for the environment and the perfect size for a carry on. (www.hotelcomfort.com)

Compression Socks 

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Long-distance flights over the Atlantic or across a continent can wreak havoc on your sleep, sense of time and most importantly, your circulation. Compression socks help to improve your circulation by providing pressure to your ankles and lower legs helping to circulate blood flow to your heart. There are many colors and varieties to choose from.  A Google search will reveal many options. Check out Amazon to compare styles and prices.  (www.amazon.com)

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Source: honeydewnaturals.com

Essential Oils

From calming lavender to energy-boosting peppermint, every essential oil comes with healing properties.  They can help you to rest, reduce anxiety while traveling, or even improve your memory. All very helpful when you’re away from home.(www.amazon.com)

Coconut Oil

This multi-use oil, also considered an essential oil, works as a skin and hair moisturizer and anti-bacterial agent. It’s great on your skin in the winter alone or added to your favorite moisturizer. You can find it at most drug stores, beauty stores and Amazon.

The miracle of flax seed

Although the existence of magic can be debated, flax seed has truly magical properties. This tiny, ancient seed is believed to help lower cholesterol, prevent heart disease and breast cancer and even squash hot flashes. More than 300 new products containing flax seed were introduced in the U.S. and Canada in 2010, according to the Flax Council. So, why aren’t we eating more of this miracle seed?

Flax seed contains omega 3s, fiber, protein, and antioxidants. And the best way to extract these vital nutrients is by grinding the seeds and adding them to your favorite yogurt, oatmeal, and smoothies. Healthyflax.org recommends two tablespoons of flax daily.

Flax seeds can be a great addition to many types of dishes. In fact, many healthy, sweet and savory recipes can be found on Eatingwell.com’s site. Check them out here.

Green city escape: Kyoto

 

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Cherry blossoms decorate a traditional home in Kyoto, Japan.

Few cities in Asia are as charming as Kyoto in Japan. The ancient Japanese capital offers much to green seekers from a bamboo forest to nature hikes and outdoor floating cafes and hot springs. All of this is cloaked in a historic city full of temples and shrines. If you visit Japan and seek a quiet refuge from Osaka, this is the place to be. You can choose to stay in any of the many areas of the city and base your itinerary on the local attractions. And it’s super safe so feel free to explore the city at night with many business owners and locals that speak English.

Eat 

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Soybean doughnuts for sale.

Kyoto is home to Buddhist monks, and as such, many restaurants and cafes are known for its vegetarian fare (kyo yasai), with tofu being the rule, rather than the exception. Enjoy a variety of tofu and veggie dishes including miso soup, vegetable tempura, yuba (skin of heated soy milk) and a brown sea veggie called hijiki.

Explore

Kyoto is also home to thousands of Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. In fact, there are more than 2,000 within the city. Start your journey at Teramachi Street, home to Nishiki Tenmangu Shrine and numerous other shrines and temples, then move to areas like Gion, where you can also explore a bit of Geisha history.

After exploring the many temples and shrines, take a stroll through the Bamboo Grove in the Arashiyama area of Kyoto. Here, you can walk through towering bamboo stalks winding past small shrines and temples, leading uphill to Okochi-Sanso Villa.

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Bamboo Forest in Arashiyama.

Sleep

Sleep in a traditional Japanese inn called a Ryokan, where you can choose between Japanese and Western rooms and meals, with access to public baths (onsen). You can get a feel for the more traditional side of Kyoto and walk around in a yukata, or cotton kimono (www.ryokan.or.jp).  For a less traditional headrest, try sleeping in a capsule. One of the few capsule hotels that accommodate both men and women, Nine Hours Hotel (www.ninehours.co.jp) offers an alternative to a traditional hotel room and is located on the main drag in Kyoto. More like an upgraded hostel, it includes private showers, a break room and a computer lounge area. Although an attractive option for backpackers, it also offers a less expensive option for an overnight stay in the city especially for those interested in this unique experience.

Kyoto is a convenient stop on both the JR Line and Hankyu line that both run through central Osaka.