Perks of Caffeine

Cup of Coffee

As I sit here in my favorite coffee shop, sipping a cup of hot holiday brew, I got inspired to write a quick article about my favorite beverage, coffee. There’s nothing quite like sitting on a quiet porch in the waking hours of the morning, sipping a cup of freshly brewed coffee. I love starting out my morning with this ritual, and studies show that just about 83% of all adult Americans do too. If you find yourself in that percentage, you may be wondering how a daily dose of caffeine affects your mind and body.

Here is a quick list of the benefits you may be getting from that cup of morning brew.

1. It can help you burn fat. Pretty much every over the counter “fat burner” supplement and pre-workout supplement contains caffeine and for a good reason. Due to its stimulant status, caffeine jumpstarts your metabolism and creates quicker oxidation of fatty acids (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition).

2. It helps protect your liver. Studies found that a few cups of coffee daily can help reduce the risk of liver cancer by 40% (Science Direct).

3. Coffee contains loads of antioxidants and nutrients. Now we aren’t talking about white chocolate mochas here, strictly black coffee. Surprisingly, coffee has more antioxidants than any fruit or veggie in the American diet (Healthline).

4. Coffee improves memory. Much like its fat burning properties, caffeine helps improve mental acuity (National Center for Biotechnology Information).

5. It makes us happy. This is my favorite reason. Like most psychoactive brains stimulants, it boosts our mood. I couldn’t forget to mention that it’s delicious as well!

Keep Hydrated

Drink More WaterRemembering to drink enough water throughout the day can be difficult when life gets busy. However 60%, of our body is made up of water, and we need to remain fully hydrated throughout the day to keep all bodily functions working properly. Daily water consumption should be around 2 liters, or 8, 8oz glasses, but there are many factors that may alter consumption recommendations such as gender, weight, activity level and climate. Here are a few ways to keep your body properly hydrated. 

Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning. Keep a glass by your bed, or leave a water bottle on your nightstand to serve as a reminder first thing to start your day.

Try creating infused water or ice. Use any combination of lemon, cucumber, strawberries, blueberries, chia seeds, orange, fresh rosemary, mint or basil to craft a lightly flavored water. Infused water is a great substitution for drinks that have higher sugar content such as soda or juice. Simply add to your water bottle, or make a batch in a pitcher to enjoy all day. Here are some combinations to try: Lemon and strawberry, basil and strawberry, mint and lime, cucumber and lemon. You can also create flavored ice cubes with these ingredients as well. Just add desired ingredients to ice tray with water before freezing.

Carry a reusable water bottle with you at all times. By simply having water with you, you will drink more.  

Use a water tracking app. There are many apps to help you keep track of how much water you have consumed each day. Having a bit of accountability can help you stay motivated and remind you to drink enough water. Try using the water tracking feature on the Walker Tracker app, My Water Balance, iHydrate, Water Reminder or Plant Nanny.

Include snacks in your day to boost water consumption without noticing. Most fruits and veggies serve as a supplemental way to consume more water. Celery, cucumber, cantaloupe, tomato, grapes, zucchini, strawberries and watermelon are all great options.

Walking to Your Next Big Idea

Walking to Your Next Big IDeaIt’s no secret that walking can help to boost your creativity in a big way! Charles Dickens, Aristotle, John Muir, and Beethoven are among just a few of the many famous minds who attribute regular walking to their genius.

A study done at Stanford University found that walking, regardless of where, can boost creativity by up to 60%. The study also found that creativity levels remained elevated even after the walk had ended. The same results applied whether participants were getting their steps inside or outside—so rain or shine there are no excuses!

 Does this mean walking meetings are a good thing?

They can be! Steve Jobs (Apple), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), and Jack Dorsey (Twitter) have all been known to hold meetings on foot. Walking meetings can be a great way to brainstorm creative ideas, as well as solve problems. Fredrick Nietzsche famously said, “all great thoughts are conceived by walking.” In addition to a boost in creativity, the increase in energy one gets from taking a brisk walk helps those who spend the majorly of their workday at a desk maintain higher levels of productivity (not to mention the health benefits).Barbara Oakley,

Barbara Oakley, engineering professor at Oakland University, said, “walking allows us to subconsciously process and think in a different way.” So next time you have writer’s block, are stuck on a project, or need inspiration for that next big idea, get up and take a walk!

You can find the Stanford study here.

Go To Yoga Moves for ‘Those Days’ – Guest Blogger Jessica Lin

I first met Jessica through yoga.  We taught at the same studio and immediately hit it off (I’m talking first 2 minutes of knowing one another).  Thus,  I am elated to have her guest blog for Walker Tracker and share some yoga wisdom with our community!  Take it away, Jessica!

 

We all have’ those days’, you know the ones, you feel sluggish, off, and just not into anything. Your brain feels slow, your body isn’t cooperating, or everything seems to just fall short Those days are the worst BUT there is a way to turn them around; if you’re willing to put in a little bit of effort. I’m usually all about ‘maximum effort’ but on ‘those days’ I’m all about minimal effort. So, here are my go-to yoga moves to turn any blah day around.

I suggest starting with a few Sun Salutations to warm up the body. This series of movements gets your blood moving and allows new energy into your body. Start small, in as little as three times through and you’ll already start to feel better; you can do as many as you need.

Sun A: Start in Mountain Pose (see below), as you exhale: fold forward from your waist and bring your hands toward the floor. Inhale: lift halfway up,abs pulled in, gaze forward and down, shoulders away from your ears. Exhale: step to high plank pose; hold this posture for a full breath cycle and on your next exhale lower ½ way down (Chaturanga) or all the way down to your belly. Inhale: Up-dog/Cobra Pose Exhale: Down Dog

 

Mountain Pose: Start with hands along your sides, palms facing forward, feet about hip distance apart as you inhale, reach your arms overhead, relax your shoulders away from your ears, spiral your pinky toward one another, draw your abs up and in, actively press your feet down into the earth. Mountain pose helps you to reground to earth, create strength in your body, help find your natural alignment and improve your posture.

 

 

Plank Pose: place your wrists under your shoulders, hips in line with your shoulder, abs in, engage your legs. This pose helps to strengthening and align the body, core, and spine as well as improve respiratory function. Option for Chaturanga from plank – bend your elbows by your sides to 90 degrees, keep the strength of your planks.

 

Cobra Pose: Start with your forehead on your mat, hands under your shoulders, as you inhale lift your chin and chest away from the floor usings your back muscles as you draw your abs toward your spine, gaze forward and down, slightly tuck your chin to keep your neck long.

 

Down Dog: Hands shoulder width distance, push into your fingertips, strong through your upper back as you lift your hips up and back, create an inverted V, relax down through your heels as you draw your abs up and in.

 

Legs up the wall: Super awesome, restorative pose, can be done anywhere anytime. My favorite time is with my legs up my headboard while I’m reading in my bed! Bring your hips all the way into the wall as you bring your legs to rest above you. Relax through your feet, send energy to your breath. Hangout!

 

Happy Baby: Awesome before you even get out of bed in the morning! On your back hug your knees in towards the corners of your chest, extend your feet towards the sky and grab anywhere that feels comfortable (big toe, feet, calves, thighs), make sure to keep your low back down and relax through your shoulders. This pose is fun, relaxing, creates compression in the body to release new energy into the body.

 

Supine Twist: Another great pose for first thing in the morning. Minimal effort needed for this one and it can come before or after happy baby. Start with your RIGHT leg pulled in toward your armpit, left leg extended down, give yourself a little hug around your right shin as you inhale, as you exhale cross your RIGHT leg over to the left, extend your right arm long as you gaze over your shoulder. Hold this side for 3-5 breaths and then switch sides moving slowly and with your breath. This posture is great for digestions, releasing low back tension, and stabilizing good posture.

 

Seated Twist: One of my favorite poses, you can easily do this in an office chair, on the floor, just about anywhere and it’s GREAT for digestion and easing lower back pain. Sit with your RIGHT leg crossed over your left in anyway, place your left hand to the outside of your right thigh as you twist up and over to the right, gaze to the right over your shoulder if it feels good. Hold 3-5 breaths, return to center then over to the left side.

You’ll  be surprised how your ‘blah day’ can change in about 10/ 15 minutes just by doing some of these poses. If you only have a few minutes just take a moment to sit, close your eyes, and breathe. The deepest part of yoga is the breath. At the beginning and the end of everything it comes back to the breath, to taking your time to become aware of the sensations within your body. Take a little moment each day to work on the idea of awareness to help you easily shift out of the funk and into the flow.

 

Join me on my journey to the self via travel, yoga, and exploring the world around me on my blog and social channels! Share your energy and be true to yourself!

 

-Jessica Lin

My Blog: www.myperfectnightout.com

@theonlyjesslin

 

Produce Review: Cherimoya

After waiting a week for it to ripen, I was ready to try another new exotic fruit: the Cherimoya!  I found a few at a local supermarket, and I was told by the produce manager that they only get in a few dozen within only a 14 day window.   My initial reaction was wow, what makes these so tough to acquire?

It turns out the Cherimoya are actually quite a difficult fruit to grow and maintain.  They’re found natively in Ecuador, Colombia, Peru and Bolivia.  They only grow at specific altitude ranges (about 2,300-2,700 ft), require excellent drainage, and don’t tolerate hot/cold very well at all.  Perhaps their most interesting issue is that they require hand-pollination, so Cherimoya farmers will hand brush pollen onto the 30 ft Cherimoya tree’s flowers in order to produce Cherimoya fruit using paint brushes!  Whew, what work!

The fruit itself seems somewhat like a Cactus in color and texture but much like an Avocado you must wait until the fruit is soft to the touch to know if the fruit is ready to eat.  My Cherimoya’s green outer skin had turned mostly brown by the time the fruit was soft to the touch.

I noticed my Cherimoya didn’t have any fragrance as the whole fruit or when I cut it open.  The Cherimoya has many larger seeds inside of it.  Eating it reminded me of a seeded Watermelon, but as an added caution, unlike a Watermelon, the seeds (and skin) of a Cherimoya are poisonous and should not be consumed.

The taste was very faint, and there were no discernible prominent flavors.  Others describe the taste as a mix of various other flavors like pineapple and banana.  I would agree with the Cherimoya’s nickname “Custard Apple”, as the texture is very custardy.  However, I’m going to say that I wasn’t impressed with the flavor.  I’ve tried the northern cousin of the Cherimoya: the Paw Paw & had a similar review on it’s flavor… Perhaps my Cherimoya (& Paw Paw) still wasn’t ripe enough.

So if you’re able to acquire a Cherimoya, be sure to consult with a produce expert to ensure that you’re consuming your Cherimoya at its pique flavor and ripeness.  If anyone has any suggestions on how to get the most out of your Cherimoya, please feel free to let others know!

Below is a recipe that I found for a raw Cherimoya custard from Unconventional Baker:

Raw Cherimoya Custard Pudding

References:

http://foodfacts.mercola.com/cherimoya.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cherimoya

Recipe: Mulligatawny Soup – An Everything Soup for an Everyday Occasion

Mulligatawny Soup is an English soup with Indian roots, and it translates loosely to pepper-water.  Mulligatawny Soup can literally be anything & any ingredients, but most often curry/curry paste, chicken, legumes, coconut, carrots, and apples are used.  The consistency (at least in the kinds I’ve had) has been puréed.  This soup can also easily be adopted for other diets, simply swap ingredients that don’t work for you with others that do.  Mulligatawny soup is meant to be a soup you can make differently each time you make it!

So here’s a version of Mulligatawny soup from Pioneer Woman’s Site:

Ingredients: 

  • 1 whole Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast, Cut Into Bite-Sized Pieces (could be easily swapped for faux Chik’in strips or another hearty veggie, like portabello mushrooms)
  • Salt And Black Pepper To Taste
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter (ghee could be used if you have that on hand…if you don’t know, ghee is a shelf-stable butter from India)
  • 1 whole Medium Onion (try a different color or variety of onion to jazz things up!)
  • 3 whole carrots (did you know that carrots have many different colors?)From: http://www.prouditaliancook.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/raw-carrots.jpg
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced Finely
  • 1/4 cup All-purpose Flour (this is used as a thickening agent, agar agar or guar gum serve the same purpose without the gluten)
  • 1 Tablespoon Curry Powder (or curry paste if you love curry!)
  • 32 ounces, fluid Chicken Broth (or veggie broth)
  • 2 cups Half-and-half (or full fat coconut milk from a can would work well)
  • 1 whole Granny Smith Apple, Peeled And Diced (this adds a surprising depth of flavor to the Mulligatawny soup…I’ve never had a variety without it)
  • 1 Tablespoon Sugar (white Or Brown) More Or Less To Taste (or omit this entirely if you want)
  • 2 teaspoons Salt, More To Taste
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • Cayenne Pepper (or a spice of choice or none)

 

To make the soup, you want to first cook your protein of choice thoroughly in a little bit of oil/butter (with chicken until the internal temperature is 165° F/ 75° C).  Remove the cooked chicken, and add your garlic and onion into the same pan as the chicken.  Cook until the onion starts to become translucent.  Add the flour and the curry and thoroughly stir in to incorporate.  Add the broth to de-glaze the pan (careful of the steam!).  At this point, add the harder veggies like carrots (or any other veggies that you want to add) to provide them a longer cooking time.  After 10 min or so (test the veggies to see if they are semi-soft/soft to the fork) add the cooked chicken, the other spices, half and half, and the apples.  Cook for another 5-10 min or until all veggies/fruit are tender.  Be sure to taste to see if you like how it tastes.

As an optional texture related final step, you can take out half of the soup, place into the blender, and blend until smooth.  Add the blended soup back into the other half.

Voilà!  You’re done!  Enjoy!

Revamp a Super Bowl Classic: Spicy Buffalo Cauliflower “Wings”

The Super Bowl is fast approaching, and I thought it would be fun to share a veggie version of a Super Bowl snack staple: Buffalo Wings.  Cauliflower takes the place of the chicken in this variation.  Perhaps you can give this recipe a try this weekend and see what you think!

Buffalo Cauliflower Bites

Spicy Buffalo Cauliflower “Wings”/Bites:

1 cup water, dairy milk, or soy milk
1 cup flour (any kind will work—even gluten-free!)
2 tsp. garlic powder (if you want a big garlic flavor substitute with garlic granules if you have them on hand)
1 head of cauliflower, chopped into pieces that are loosely “wing” sized
1 cup buffalo or hot sauce (personally I like Frank’s Original or Buffalo)
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil, melted butter, or melted vegan butter

  • Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  • Combine the water or soy milk, flour, and garlic powder in a bowl and stir until well combined.
  • Core the cauliflower to remove the green stalk base & green leafy sides.
  • Chop the cauliflower into loosely “wing” sized pieces.
  • Coat the cauliflower pieces with the flour mixture (this is a good step for kids to help with too!) and place in a shallow baking dish. Bake for 18 minutes.
  • While the cauliflower is baking, combine your buffalo/hot sauce of choice and oil/butter in a small bowl.
  • Pour the hot sauce mixture over the baked cauliflower and continue baking for an additional 5 to 8 minutes.

You can serve your Spicy Cauliflower Bites alongside an assortment of veggie sticks (carrots and celery are popular) and your dressing of choice for dipping (ranch and blue cheese are popular).

And that’s it!  I hope you enjoy, and please let me know how yours turned out.  I’ll be updating soon with my review of the recipe & pictures of my addition.

Credits:

-Photo from: Natural Grocer’s Blog Post on Buffalo Cauliflower Bites

-Recipe adopted from: Peta’s Spicy Buffalo Cauliflower ‘Wings’ Recipe Page

 

Introducing: Onebreath.in – take a deep breath

Be reminded to take a deep breath at https://onebreath.in, a new, tiny service from Walker Tracker.

wind

onebreath.in

While walking is obviously our wheelhouse at Walker Tracker, we run a number of other types of wellness programs. Whether it’s a focus on nutrition, lowering your resting heart rate, or creating a points-based combination around many wellness factors, we’re always thinking about how to approach wellness in the workplace.

In a busy schedule, mindfulness & relaxation are sometimes moving targets. But the benefits of taking a deep breath are documented. Take one now. Feels good, right? onebreath.in is a simple tool that will help you remember to take ten seconds out of your day to reset, to alleviate a little stress, and to enjoy the pleasure of a deep breath (and let you reap all the benefits of doing so). Read more about it on the onebreath.in site.

Let us know what you think – and share it around if you like.

(Note: onebreath.in uses your web browser’s notification system, so personal information/sign-up is not necessary. On the down side, it only works in Chrome, Safari, and Firefox desktop web browsers – perfect for when you’re sitting at your desk).

Really great news for us all here at WT HQ (Coffee thought to protect against cancer)

Yesterday a panel of World Health Organization experts concluded that coffee protects against at least two types of cancer. Hooray!

This adds to the growing number of positive health benefits that coffee provides, such as lower risk for parkinsons, improved heart health, and lower risk of diabetes.

That said: Pesticides have been shown to cause cancer, and so make sure you’re buying organic coffee (or even better, Fair Trade Certified coffee to make sure farmers are paid properly)

If there is anything that coffee can’t do, I don’t want to know about it.

 

Walk With Purpose

There always seems to be a walk for something. Walk for Breast Cancer, Walk for Alzheimers, Walk for MS and so on. I do not think I know one person who hasn’t been affected by a disease somewhere in their lives. Personally, Alzheimers hit close to home for me with my grandma. These walks are usually short (5k or 3.1 miles) and help you to do a small part to support research and those suffering. Why not challenge yourself to find a walk to participate in for the end of the summer or fall? It’s true that often times these walks ask for a donation, but it is for a great cause and sometimes that money is just the extra bit of motivation needed to follow through. Get a few friends together, maybe find a cause that you and your co-workers would like to walk for. It’s great for families to do together also! Below I have listed some websites that you can click on and see if they have walks in your area.

Walk to End Alzheimers

Race for a Cure (Breast Cancer Awareness)

ZERO cancer (Prostate Cancer)

Relay for Life (American Cancer Society)

JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes 

NAMIwalk (Mental Illness)

Light The Night (Leukemia & Lymphoma)

Those of course are just a few suggestions. I am sure that if you search for “insert cause+walk” in a search engine, you’ll more than likely find a walk or run to participate in. Now get out there, get inspired, get fit and make a difference!