Homemade Honey Nut Granola Bars

Who doesn’t love granola bars? They are perfect to eat on the go and work for breakfast or an afternoon snack. They are usually low-cal which helps us feel good about eating them, but many off the shelf granola bars have a lot of extra ingredients in them that we don’t need. The big one? Sugar. Many bars sneak in a good bit of added, refined sugar. Not to mention all of the preservatives and “natural flavors” that we don’t even know are there! These homemade granola bars use simple, natural ingredients. Oats provide protein and fiber to help keep you full, while almonds, cashews, and coconut provide protein, healthy fats, and tons of other vitamins and minerals that we need. They also add a lot of flavor! Cinnamon and a little honey will satisfy your sweet tooth without you getting a sugar overload. Make a batch before a long trip or before your work week, so you can just grab and go!

homemade-almond-coconut-granola-bars

 

What you need:

2 cups oats, pulsed briefly in food processor

1 cup raw almonds, chopped

1 cup coconut, shredded

½ cup raw cashews, chopped

1 cup nut butter, almond or peanut

½ cup honey

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

What you do:

  1. Toast almonds and cashews in a skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Transfer to mixing bowl.
  2. Add oats, coconut, cinnamon, and salt. Stir well until blended.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine nut butter and honey until smooth.
  4. Add nut butter/honey mixture to dry ingredients and stir until evenly combined.
  5. Put mixture into a baking dish lined with parchment paper. (Make sure the edges of the parchment paper are sticking out of the sides, so you can easily remove it later.) Use a spoon or bowl to pack the mixture into the pan.
  6. Cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight.
  7. Using sides of parchment paper, lift mixture out of the pan.
  8. Cut into rectangles or squares and enjoy!

Tip: Keep refrigerated for freshness and to keep the bars firm. They can also be frozen for later use!

 

 

Don’t Let the Travel Ruin the Trip!

School is out, the warm weather is finally here, and summer is almost upon us! You have worked so hard to correct your structural alignment with your regular chiropractic care. Let’s not throw all that hard work out the window by sitting improperly for hours on end during a road trip. If you’re about to hit the road on vacation, here are a few quick and easy tips you can use in the car!

When seated at the wheel, the chair should be in an upright position, not reclined. Also, it is important to keep a slight bend in both the elbows and the knees to ensure proper circulation during long drives. Lastly, it is important to keep your head back against the headrest and not positioned forward towards the windshield. These quick tips help maintain proper spinal alignment while cooped up in the car and help prevent blood circulation issues from arising.

car-sitting

Another great way to ensure proper spinal positioning, while decreasing low back pain, is by using a lumbar support. We have natural curves in our spine that must be maintained to keep pressure off our nerves. When we’re driving for long periods of time, it is easy to lose these curves, often causing low back stiffness and sciatic pain. However, using a lumbar support helps maintain the proper structure in our spine and decreases the likeliness of nerve interference.

car-seat-pillow

Finally, it has been said that sitting for too long has become as detrimental to our health as smoking cigarettes. Therefore, we want to make sure we’re taking frequent breaks during the trip. I know this is easier said than done when we’re trying to make great time on our trip, but pulling over for 5 minutes and stretching is an amazing way to improve circulation and prevent a vacation full of stiffness. Below is a great, full-body stretch sequence I love to use on the road. One of the major benefits of this circuit is that all the stretches can be done standing and don’t require you to lay on the floor at a gas station or rest area (yikes!). Try performing each stretch for 15-20 seconds on each side, then repeating the whole sequence 2-3 times. You’ll instantly feel better and more alert without having to down a 5-Hour Energy!

car-stretch

Have a great summer, be safe, and make sure you are taking care of yourself while traveling. The last thing anyone wants is to miss out on a fun trip because of pain. Incorporate these tips to get to and from your destination pain-free and with proper spinal alignment!

Celebrate With Healthy, Patriotic Treats

It’s Memorial Day weekend! That means a lot of us might be going to BBQs and parties. And THAT means we are going to be tempted by a lot of food! Stay on track this weekend by making one of these healthy, patriotic treats!

 

fruit-stick

Fruit Skewers

Use raspberries, bananas, and blueberries to make the red, white, and blue fruit skewers! This is great in place of dessert. You can satisfy your sweet tooth, but the added fiber and nutrients make this a way better option than cake and cookies!

 

fruit-and-cheese-tray

Fruit and Cheese Flag Tray

Line up strawberries, white cheddar cubes, and raspberries to make the stripes. Add a bowl of blueberries in the corner to finish the flag! Snack on this instead of reaching for chips. We know how good berries are for us and cheese in small amounts has its benefits, too!

 

usa-pops

Fruit and Yogurt Popsicles

This one takes a little more work, but is totally worth it! Great alternative to traditional popsicles and ice cream!

What you need:

  • blueberries
  • raspberries
  • plain, lowfat yogurt

What you do:

  1. Puree blueberries and raspberries separately.
  2. Put all ingredients into separate measuring cups with spouts (this will make pouring easier).
  3. Add a little water to each of the ingredients to dilute a little and make them more pourable.
  4. Layer ingredients into a popsicle mold. First, the blueberries, then alternate the yogurt and raspberries to make stripes.
  5. Put in the freezer overnight or until frozen.
  6. Enjoy!

 

Do you have any other healthy, holiday treats? Comment below and let us know!

3 Mistakes You’ve Been Making at the Grocery Store

Some people love it, some people hate it, but whatever your preference is, grocery shopping is a necessity to healthy eating. However, there are a few mistakes most of us make and easy fixes we can use to ensure a healthy, efficient, and affordable trip to our local grocery stores.

  1. Forgetting to create a shopping list: This usually occurs due to a lack of planning. Without a set grocery list in hand, it is easy to walk every aisle grabbing items you might not necessarily need. Not only does this increase the amount you’re going to spend, but it also leads to emotional buying. What we see is directly linked to our emotions. If we walk down the chips and cookies aisle, our brain releases hormones that reminds us how delicious those cookies are, regardless of their poor nutrients. Avoiding these aisles altogether will help from pointless purchases.
  2. Spending most of your time in the aisles: Going along with our first point about walking the aisles, we tend to avoid the outer perimeter of the grocery store. However, a healthy trip to the grocery store should mainly include walking around the aisles, not through them. This means that you should be shopping at the produce section, meats, seafood, bakery, deli, etc. The refrigerated foods are located around the store, whereas processed foods tend to be in the aisles. These processed foods do not need to be refrigerated because they’re full of preservatives that help the foods survive longer (a longer shelf life). While these preservatives help prevent spoiling without refrigeration, they also are harmful to our bodies when ingested. Stick to the outside of the store to find fresh, healthier foods.
  3. Going grocery shopping when you’re hungry: As we’ve already discussed, we are emotional creatures and tend to make our decisions based on emotion, not logic. Therefore, if we go grocery shopping while we’re hungry, there is a better chance that we skip the nutritious foods and simply buy what sounds good at that moment. Buying the ingredients to make a large, healthy salad at home is not going to satisfy your immediate cravings. The already prepared chicken fingers and French fries in the deli will. Don’t fall for this trap!

shop-the-perimeter

Make sure you avoid heading to the grocery store when you’re hungry and stick to your shopping list to ensure buying healthy, affordable groceries instead of quick, impulse buys. In terms of where you shop within the store, try using the 80/20 rule. 80% of you shopping should be along the outside of the store, while only 20% occurs within the aisles. Avoid those processed foods and always try to buy local, organic foods when available!

 

Avocado Chicken Salad

Chicken salad is a great summer food! It’s cold, but hearty and can be put on a sandwich for a quick meal on the go. This guilt-free variation omits the mayo and adds in nutritious avocado! Fresh celery, onion, and cilantro also bump up the nutritional content. And chicken, of course, gives you plenty of protein!

 

What you need:

  • 2 cups cooked chicken, chopped
  • 1 ripe avocado, chopped
  • 1/4 cup celery, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup plain, nonfat yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped (parsley is also really good!)
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

What you do:

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl and enjoy!

 

For a non-dairy option, omit the yogurt and drizzle in some olive oil instead.

Easy Mexican Quinoa

One thing I hear from people all the time is that eating healthy is too expensive or takes too much time. This mexican quinoa recipe is here to bust those myths! It is incredibly easy to make (you only need ONE pan!), the ingredients are inexpensive, and it is packed with nutrient rich food! Quinoa is one of the world’s known superfoods which means that it has a ton of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that are good for us. It is high in protein and fiber, too, which keep us feeling full and satisfied. Black beans are also a good source of fiber and protein. The other veggies have great nutritional qualities and avocado is another superfood that has amazing health benefits!

What’s more? This is an excellent recipe for meal prep! Make a bunch and portion out for meals every day. Or keep some on hand for a side dish or topping on salad!

 

What you need:

1 TBSP olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1-2 jalapenos, minced

1 cup quinoa

1 cup vegetable broth

1 can black beans

1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes

½ cup of corn kernels

1 ½ tsp chili powder

½ tsp cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

1 avocado, seeded, peeled, and diced

1 lime

Fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

 

What you do:

  1. In a large skillet, sauté garlic and jalapeno in oil for about 1 minute
  2. Stir in quinoa, vegetable broth, beans, tomatoes, corn, chili powder, cumin, and salt and pepper.
  3. Bring to a boil.
  4. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for about 20 minutes or until quinoa is cooked through.
  5. Add in avocado, lime juice, and cilantro.
  6. Enjoy!

The Importance of Therapy, with Dr. Lisa Herman

I recently had the extreme pleasure of getting to speak with Dr. Lisa Herman, a licensed clinical psychologist whose company, Synergy eTherapy, helps bring therapy to people via convenient online sessions. We had a great conversation about the importance of therapy, who can benefit from therapy, and how getting help has never been easier due to amazing technological advances in therapeutic care. Check out our conversation below!

Dr. Lisa Herman with Synergy eTherapy

Dr. Lisa Herman with Synergy eTherapy

Dr. Ben Cohen: Good morning, Lisa! Thank you for taking the time to go over the importance of therapy and how you and the other therapists with Synergy are shaping the therapy playing field and helping your patients. Please, tell me a little bit about your background.

Dr. Lisa Herman: It’s so great to speak with you! A little bit about myself—I’m a licensed clinical psychologist with a license in both Minnesota and New York and have worked in several clinical settings, including day treatment, hospital clinics, substance abuse programs, and school programs. I’ve always loved working with teens and families by improving their family bonds and relationships.

BC: That’s great. So, how did you make the shift into eTherapy? It seems so different from the typical approach to a therapy session?

LH: Well, once I moved back to MN from NY, I realized that I could use the advances in technology to increase access to mental health care. A lot of people don’t see their psychologist or therapist solely because it is inconvenient or takes too much time out of their busy day to get away. I figured this would be a great way for someone to get the care they need in a comfortable and relaxed environment.

BC: It is amazing that you’re now able to reach such a vast number of patients and people in need while maintaining one of the most important features: convenience. Tell me a little about therapy and some of the best ways to find the right therapist.

LH: Psychotherapy, or mental health therapy, takes place when a client seeks out a professionally trained, licensed masters or doctorate clinician to help them work through difficulties in their emotional, relational, or physical world. Finding a trusted, empathic, skilled professional can be a process for some people. It’s important to find the best fit for your personality and comfort. A therapist will get to know what you are struggling with at that time and help you learn ways to understand your thoughts, feelings, and help you implement healthier behaviors. Not all therapists are trained in the same therapeutic techniques.

BC: I think that is such an important point you made—the process of finding the right therapist for you. Whenever I talk to someone about chiropractic care, I stress the importance of getting regular chiropractic adjustments. If I’m the right doctor for you, then great! But, if I’m not, that is completely fine as long as you keep shopping and find the one who is right for you. You mentioned that there are different types of therapeutic techniques—which techniques do you implement with your patients?

LH: I focus on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and mindfulness skill building (which includes relaxation and mindful meditation) to help gain clarity, focus, and to calm our minds and bodies. We all have the tools inside of us to improve our life. Sometimes they are hidden and need an objective ‘teacher’ to help bring them out.

Image from Ellen's OCD Blog

Image from Ellen’s OCD Blog

BC: That’s incredible, and goes hand-in-hand with our Mindfulness Block we’ve been focusing on this month with EXCEL90. Are there certain patients who benefit more from the techniques you use? Who is your ideal client?

LH: Therapy is important for anyone who feels their functioning is impaired by a problem, be it from anxiety, depression, or attention issues. Learning what is “outside of the norm” through an assessment and implementing an appropriate treatment plan can improve your quality of life. In terms of age, I work with anyone 6+ with my wisest client being in their 80’s! You are never too young or too old for therapy.

BC: Unfortunately, there seems to be a stigma associated with therapy and that you must be “broken” to seek therapy or psychological counseling. Is this accurate?

LH: Thankfully, the stigma is lifting with more and more celebrities and well-known folk coming out and speaking about their mental health problems, such as PTSD and depression. However, our mental health system was set up to highlight what is impaired in our emotional world or “broken”–so to speak. Think of it, the manual for diagnosing all mental and psychological conditions, the DSM-V (our bible for diagnoses), talks about impairment, deficiency, problems, etc. It really is set up to be negative in connotation. However, we are all on a continuum with our mental health daily! If we are tired, we may be crankier. If we didn’t grow up in an emotionally rich environment, our dynamic inside of relationships may be more distressed. What I stress and want my clients to know is that they are already amazing just as they are…AND there is always room to learn, grow and improve to make the quality of their mental well-being healthier.

BC: Do you think the use of the DSM-V is hurting how we treat our mental health?

LH: Since the DSM-V is based on diagnosing an issue or condition, it gives an instant impression that something must be wrong with the person. In the medical world, you might have diabetes or high cholesterol. In the mental world, you may have depression or ADHD—something impairing your functioning. But, what if you just want to work through something that is annoying but not impairing? It is still diagnosed as “adjustment.” The entire mental health system is set up so doctors can speak with one another about the problem and how to fix it. However, there is a problem in society with being labeled on medical records that causes issues as well.

BC: Speaking about diagnoses and labels, can someone who is “asymptomatic” still benefit from therapy?

LH: For someone who is not in distress or having significant impairment, therapy can be a wonderful place to learn more about YOU. A therapist can help you explore your childhood, parents, family life, relationship style and communication style. There is so much that a trained clinician can “see” that will help someone gain even more insight and improve their overall well-being. The more we know about ourselves, the more we can be mindful of our thoughts and behaviors. This will drive empathy not only towards others, but also towards ourselves. The world could use a little more empathy.

Image courtesy of Yazz's

Image courtesy of Yazz’s

BC: This has been amazing, Lisa. Last, but not least, I’m sure people may be hesitant about seeking therapy due to finances. Are there affordable options as well so people can get the care they need?

LH: Aside from using insurance, which many have large deductibles and co-pays and the private pay option (many private pay companies should have a sliding scale available), there are not-for-profit clinics that are FREE in certain cities. Most college campuses have free counseling centers, and many large non-profit clinics should have financial aid.

Therapy and your mental health is an investment. You don’t need to continue therapy your entire life; many come in and out of therapy several times throughout their life as things come up and cause interference. Gaining an outside trained perspective can be helpful in getting “unstuck” and feeling a bit more in control. Family and friendship supports are amazing, but they may not be enough to help everyone all the time for every issue. Licensed therapists are trained to hear you differently and help you become your best self, whatever that looks like to you.

BC: That is so true! Therapy should always be used when the tools at hand just aren’t enough to solve the problem. Again, thank you so much for taking the time to discuss this important topic with me!

LH: It was my pleasure! Thank you so much for having me to discuss therapy and the importance of mindfulness with our audiences. This was great!

(Interview concluded)

 

Remember, our mental health affects our physical health and can cause interference in our nervous system. It is important that we focus on correcting all issues in our lives that are causing nerve interference, both physically and mentally. This is why therapy and psychological counseling is an amazing way to take care of yourself along with your regular chiropractic care!

 

Want to get a hold of Dr. Lisa Herman? Check out her company, Synergy eTherapy, at www.SynergyEtherapy.com. Although she can only help patients residing in MN or NY, they will be able to help point you in the right direction, regardless of where you are!

Setting Goals That Will Last

“Not setting goals is like flying a plane blindfolded.”

Raise your hand if you’ve been told at some point how important it is to set goals—long term goals with short term goals to help you get there. Exactly…everyone can put their hands down. But, how many of us have written down our goals, looked at them, recited them every day, and base everything we do in our lives on those goals? Not so many hands up. This is another example of us talking the talk without walking the walk. We all know that without goals and the steps to achieve those goals, we’re never going to get where we actually want to be.

A great quote I once heard was, “Not setting goals is like flying a plane blindfolded.” I may know that I want to get from Atlanta to Miami, but if I don’t know the speed, altitude, weight, direction, how much gas is in the tank, etc., then I am never getting to my destination. This happens way too often with our goals as well. We know the end goal we want: double my salary in 5 years, lose that stubborn 10 pounds, run my first marathon or 5K, and the list goes on. But, if we stop there, then there is no chance of ever achieving these goals without sheer luck.

Goals should cover different aspects of your life, be it personal, professional, and so on. Creating these goals should not be the easiest task. If you can list off 30 goals in a minute, they might not be reaching far enough. Goals should be set just outside of your comfort zone.

Take an hour or two to create a meaningful list of 10-15 goals. Now that you have your goals, it’s time to explain how you are going to get there. Many of us have heard about the SMART method to creating goals, and that can be a great place to start. Creating a SMART goal means making it Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely. This is an excellent way to start because you are instantly creating goals that are specific to what you want, and not so lofty that they might never be achieved.

smart-goals

However, the one thing that SMART goals fails to create is the emotional connection to your goals. Tony Robbins speaks all the time about creating strong neural pathways between emotion and action, and incorporating them into your goals is an excellent time to start. By linking an emotional response to your goals, such as the benefits and consequences of accomplishing or failing to achieve said goals, you are more inclined to working towards these goals each day.

Just like the article we wrote on using positive affirmations, goals should be read aloud every day so you set your mind in the right direction. If the 10-15 goals you listed and constructed are going to get you to where you want to be, then why do anything else in your day than strive towards accomplishing those goals?

 

Do you have certain goals you’re trying to attain? Or, amazing strategies you’ve used to accomplish them? Please let us know or comment below so we can all become more efficient at creating the life we want!

Volunteering is Even Better Than we Thought!

“Whatever community organization, whether it’s a women’s organization, or fighting for racial justice … you will get satisfaction out of doing something to give back to the community that you never get in any other way.” — Ruth Bader Ginsburg

 

We all know that volunteering is good as it provides a needed service that helps someone or something. Whether it’s helping out at a soup kitchen, an animal shelter, or planting trees, volunteering is a way to do good and give back to the community. But, did you know that volunteering is good for the volunteer, too? Many studies have shown a positive correlation between volunteering and good health. So, this is another reason to get involved!

The studies mostly looked at older adults, those middle-aged and older, but found that those who volunteered on a regular basis had better physical and mental health. They were happier, had positive relationships with their families, and were better able to cope with illness. I always feel good after doing something for others, but now there is scientific proof that volunteering is good for your mental health!

volunteering-stats

Image: www.volunteer.ie

Physically, the adults who volunteered more had better cardiovascular health. They had lower blood pressure and even recovered better after a heart attack than those who did not volunteer. Researchers say that this can be due to an increase in physical activity, where volunteering makes older adults get out and move more and improve their mood by helping others.

Unfortunately, the studies did not find these noticeable effects in younger adults, but, hey, it can’t hurt to get in the habit of volunteering when you’re young and reap the benefits later. And, you will be doing good for someone in need! Since mental health affects our physical health, we find it important to take care of the entire body. By incorporating volunteer work into our lives, we can help maintain a completely healthy body, both physically and mentally!

 

Sources:

NHS UK

Corporation for National and Community Service

 

Keep Calm and Meditate

What is it?

Meditation comes from Buddhism and is, simply, the act of controlling the mind so it can become calm and focused. The goal is to stop thoughts from racing and bring peace to the mind and body. There are many ways to meditate, but probably the most well-known is focused-attention meditation. In focused-attention meditation, the practitioner focuses on a single thought or action. Breathing is one of the most common ways this is done. By focusing solely on one’s breathing, the mind can clear and the body can relax. Another common way to practice focused-attention meditation is by reciting a mantra. A mantra can be a single sound, word, or statement. It is repeated over and over throughout meditation to keep the mind focused.

 

Why do it?

Many studies have shown health benefits of meditation. It has been shown to increase gray matter in the brain which can improve emotional stability and reduce cognitive decline. Meditation also weakens negative connections between our body and brain. This doesn’t mean we don’t connect things happening to our body with our brains, rather it helps with our reactions to scary or painful stimuli. What actually happens is that we can look at the situation more rationally instead of getting anxious right away. This can, in turn, reduce stress!

Meditating has also been shown to improve memory and focus. The “zoning out” done when meditating causes an ability to ignore distractions when not meditating. This can help us better remember things and focus on tasks.

 

benefits-of-meditation-infographic

Image: tujawellness.com

 

How to do it?

Settle into a quiet, comfortable place, close your eyes, and breathe. Sounds simple, right? Clearing our minds can actually be very difficult. Try doing just a few minutes a day and work your way up to 10 or 20 minute sessions. At first, your mind will probably wander a lot. Just re-focus on your breathing or your mantra and keep at it!

If you want some extra help, there are some great apps that will guide you through the meditation process. Headspace, Buddhify, and Calm are all great ones!