Welcome to Self Soul Space! This blog is designed to bring you healthy lifestyle tips. A true healthy lifestyle, embodies a healthy mind, body, spirit, and environment. Thanks for stopping by to check out my way of living.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Grocery Shopping- Healthy & on a Budget

Today, I made one of my many monthly trips to the grocery store... I cannot lie, eating healthy can be very expensive, if you're not smart about it. Every shopping trip I have a strict budget, but need to still feed a family of 4. I try to stick to my core desires to serve healthy, organic food, drinks, and snacks. Here's how I shop for healthy groceries while staying on budget...

1. Set your budget, and stick to it! Cash works great, because once the money is gone, it's gone. If using a debit or credit card, link your accounts to Mint.com, this website & app, allows you to set budgets for different monthly spending, and tracks your purchases to keep you in budget. It can be annoying, but I use the calculator on my phone to keep a running total of everything I put in my cart. I aslo round up, so I am sure to stay on budget, or come in under budget- Bonus!!

2. Enroll in Store's Saving/club card. There are tons of savings throughout the store just for club members. Club cards also keep track of what you buy, and print out coupons at the register based on your habits. Don't forget to shop the weekly circular too, it'll help you plan... which leds me to #3.

3. Plan out weekly/daily meals- this work whether you enjoy or hate cooking. Planning out your meals prevents expensive surprises with take-out dinners, eat-out lunches, and on-the-go breakfasts. Making sure you have your favorite coffee and breakfast food in your house, could save you upwards of $150 a month. Packing a couple of lunches each week could save you over $80 a month. Now, you just need to decide how much money you want to save!

4. Clip coupons. Don't be a coupon snob, everyone can do it, and does do it! I'm not saying "extreme couponing" with stock-piles and products you don't like or use. I'm suggesting clipping coupons from the Sunday newspaper or from online to save money on the brands and products you prefer to use. You'd be surprised, a few coupons on certain items can save you quite a bit, especially because most stores double coupons- Double bonus!!

5. Buy Seasonal Fruits & Vegetables. They are usually on sale, and taste the best because they are in season. We run through fresh produce, especailly fruit, but by buying fruit in season I am able to keep our fridge stocked with fresh produce. I also don't over buy, I hate throwing out produce gone bad, so I'll only buy 3 apples sometimes, if that means they will get eaten.

6. Meat eater? This is one thing I do try to buy in larger quantities, once or twice a month. I then portion it out and freeze it, so we have it for later in the month. Keep in mind, I only buy meat when it is on sale, and I plan my meals according to whats on sale or already in my freezer.

7. Don't forget the toilet paper! Yes, you need to budget for this too, and all other houshold cleanng products. I usually plan these into my shopping trips which don't include a lot of meat. I also buy them from other locations besides my local grocery store. I check around to see who has toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning products, etc on sale. Sometimes, I stock up when it is on sale, for the rainy day when we run out, and I don't have extra room in the budget to replenish the household items... Everyone needs toilet paper!

8. Beware of the Wholesale-Bulk stores. Most of the time, just because it comes in bulk, doesn't meant it's a good deal. Many times it's more, i.e. My local wholesale place had my favorite paper towels fpr $17.99/24 pk, my local grocery store had the same brand, same pack for $13.99 after club card savings. No brainer, right?

I personally try to buy 75-80% of our hosehold products and food as organic or earth-friendly. I mostly shop at my local Safeway, but I do not hesitate to shop around. I also budget out 1-2 of my monthly shopping trips at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods. However, I try to have an idea of the average price of items we eat and use, so that way I can pick up something if I see it's a great deal. I do try to stock up on my non-perishables when they are on sale, again for those times when the grocery budget is a little leaner than usual. Even some of the richest people shop on a budget, that's how they stay rich. Saving money is healthy living for the Soul, and of course eating healthy is great for the Self! Everyone can eat healthy, by shopping smart and staying on budget! Try some of my tips and watch the savings talley up on your next grocery bill, Happy & Healthy Shopping!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Clean & Healthy Space

Sundays are my preferred days to really deep clean & organize my home, that's not to say I don't clean during the week...  I have 2 kids and a husband, of course I have to clean every day.  But since This Sunday is my first half marathon and Mother's Day (more importantly), I am giving you this list of my favorite green cleaning products in hopes someone will come clean my and all the Mom's out there homes.  A Clean & organized home makes a healthy Space and life (and happy Moms)!  From the bathrooms, bedrooms, kitchen, and living rooms, even laundry, I prefer to use homemade and/or "Green" products.  I try to limit the amount of toxins going into our water supply (lessening my carbon footprint), as well as, entering the air my kids breathe and getting on the surfaces they play/eat on.

Here are my recipes for homemade cleaning products...

Window/Mirror Cleaner
1/4-1/2 tsp natural liquid detergent/soap
3 tbsp vinegar (white distilled preferred)
2 cups water
Put all the ingredients into a spray bottle, shake it up a bit, spray and use as you would use your "Windex"

Creamy Soft Scrub
Pour 1/2 cup of baking soda into a bowl, add enough liquid soap to make mixture like frosting.  Scoop mixture onto sponge, and scrub-a-dub-dub.  This is great for bathtubs!!

Furniture Polish
1/2 tsp oil (olive or jojoba)
1/4 cup vinegar or fresh lemon juice
Mix the ingredients in a glass jar. Dab a soft rag into solution, and wipe onto wood surfaces.  Cover the glass jar, and store indefinitely.

Re-purpose old t-shirts as cleaning/dusting rags, old toothbrushes as grout cleaners

Here is my list of Favorite store bought cleaning products...

Scotch Brite: Greener Clean Natural Fiber Sponges
    -I just throw them in the dishwasher to disinfect

Green Works by Clorox: Surface Wipes

Biokleen: All Purpose Cleaner
    -Great for laundry & carpet stains, any just about any surface, and kid toys

Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day: Surface Wipes
     -Great for anywhere, great scents, I even travel with a pack

Green Works by Clorox: Natural Glass & Surface cleaner

Bright Green: Bathroom cleaner

Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day: Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Bright Green: Automatic Dishwasher Gel Detergent, dye & fragrance free

Seventh Generation: Natural Dish Liquid

Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day: Countertop Spray
     -Different scents, all smell awesome, especially Lavender

Swiffer: Dust & Shine Spray

OXO: Double Duster
     -can just throw duster head in laundry, and reuse over and over agian

Bright Green: Double Concentrated Laundry Detergent
    -Lavender scent for adult clothes, and unscented for Kids

Bright Green: Chlorine Free Bleach
     -I use it to sanitize hard toys too.

I hope my favorite cleaning products and recipes make your cleaning day, a little happier, easier, and greener.  A clean-green home makes a Healthy Space, which is key to a Healthy Living!!  Stay tuned for my deep cleaning routine, and my daily speed cleaning routines!  Happy Cleaning and Happy Mother's Day!!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Penne, Asparagus, & Pecorino

Penne, Asparagus, & Pecorino Pasta, or PAP pasta as I like to call it, is an awesome spring/summer pasta dish.  It's super light, easy, healthy, and low in calories.  You can also add chicken if you would like.  D, the girls, and I devoured it.  I served it with a side salad, Trader Joe's crescent rolls, and a glass of white wine for the adults!!

Penne, Asparagus, & Pecorino
serves 4
total time 30 min

8 oz uncooked whole wheat penne pasta
kosher salt & fresh ground pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth (or veggie broth for Vegetarian friends)
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 clove minced garlic
1/4 cup grated pecorino romano cheese (parmesan cheese can be substituted)
2 tbsp shaved pecorino romano cheese for topping

Cook pasta in salted boiling water according to directions on package. Drain.

Heat, over medium heat, a large skillet. Add oil to pan and coat. Add asparagus to pan, cook until crisp & bright green, stirring occasionally, remove from pan & keep warm.  Add broth, lemon, and garlic to pan.  Cook until liquid reduces to 1/2 cup.  Return asparagus to pan, stir.  Add cooked penne, grated cheese, salt & pepper; toss well.  Serve PAP pasta in shallow bowls, topped with shaved cheese.  Enjoy!!

Baked Citrus Salmon

Tonight, I made the yummiest salmon.  Baked Citrus Salmon... I was super easy, fast, light, and low in calories!  I served it with a baked sweet potato, steamed broccoli, and citrus (slice of lime, orange, & lemon) water.  D'reardon loved it!!

Baked Citrus Salmon
serves 2-8
total time 25min, 10min hands-on + 15-20min baking

1-3lb piece salmon fillet (I used 1lb cut into 2 fillets)
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2-1 orange, thinly sliced
1/2-1 lemon, thinly sliced
5-12 sprigs fresh thyme (1/2-1 tsp dried thyme)
kosher salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place slamon on a parchment lined baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt & pepper.  Sprinkle with fresh or dried thyme, and spread orange & lemon slices on and around the salmon.

Bake 15-20 minutes, or until salmon is opaque.  Carefully, transfer salmon to plates (for individual fillets) or to a platter (for large fillet), and scatter orange, lemon, and sprigs of thyme on top.

There is an optional sauce, if you prefer sauces on your salmon... 1/4 cup light mayo, 1 tbsp oraange juice, lemon juice from 1/2 lemon, 1/2 tsp curry powder, kosher salt & pepper.  Whisk all ingredients together, and drizzle over salmon fresh out of the oven.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Black Bean Burgers

Here is a yummy recipe to make your own non-meat burgers.  I even used a leftover burger on today's salad for lunch, see my instagram (acolemanthayer) for a pic.  Now, this is not my husband's favorite meatless dish, because of this, I served  "real" french fries along side the burgers.  I also served the black bean burgers on whole wheat buns, with spinach, tomatoes, ketchup, and mayo.  This recipe reminds me of one of my favorite veggie burgers from a restaurant I used to frequent in LA.  I hope you enjoy the burgers as much as I do.

Black Bean Burgers
Serves 4
Total time: 30 min, 15-20 min prep and 10 min cooking  

1 (15oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 egg
1/4 cup chopped yellow onion
1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs (2 slices of stale bread if making own in small food processor)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup cooked brown rice (optional, leftovers work great)
salt & pepper to taste
1-2 tbsp olive oil (+ a splash in patties)
4 whole wheat hamburger buns
spinach (or lettuce of your choice)
sliced tomatoes
sliced red onion (optional)

Put beans in a large bowl, and mash well with a fork or a potato masher.  Add egg, yellow onion, bread crumbs, oregano, basil, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, parm cheese, rice (optional), splash of oil, salt, & pepper.  Mix well (I used my hands), then shape into 4 patties (or 6-8 mini sliders).  You can make the patties ahead of time, just wrap in plastic wrap and store in fridge up to 24 hrs.

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat.  Arrange patties in a single layer, with space in between, cook in batches if necessary.  Cook, until golden brown on one side, flip once, then cook other side until golden brown, about a total of 10 minutes.  Transfer to buns, top with your choice of toppings, serve and enjoy!

I have to be honest, grilling them isn't recommended... I had a hard time keeping the patties together.  However, a grill pan does work well, as long as its well oiled.  Black bean burgers are a great burger alternative packed with fiber and protein, and an awesome option for Meatless Mondays too!!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Why Yoga, you ask?

With stress, fatigue, and illness on the rise.  It's no wonder, more and more people are seeking a sense of relaxation and personal awareness. Originally from ancient traditions of India, yoga has long since provided people with a refuge away from the everyday confusion and stress, by transporting people to a peaceful oasis within.  It has been practiced for more than 5,000 years, and now, close to 11 million Americans are enjoying yoga's health benefits.  Most yoga classes focus on learning physical poses, which are called asanas. They also include some breathing techniques and possibly meditation techniques. Some yoga classes are designed purely for relaxation or building strength/endurance. 

Yoga and Flexibility
When some people think of yoga, they imagine having to stretch like a human pretzel. That makes them worry that they're too old, unfit, or "tight" to do yoga. The truth is you're never too old to improve flexibility.  The series of yoga poses, asanas, work by safely stretching your muscles, ligaments, and tendons. This releases the lactic acid that builds up with muscle use and causes stiffness, tension, pain, and fatigue. In addition, yoga increases the range of motion and lubrication in the joints (great for arthritis). The outcome is a sense of ease and fluidity throughout your body. And no matter your level of yoga, you most likely will see benefits in a very short period of time.

Yoga and Strength
Some styles of yoga, such as ashtanga and power yoga (hot yoga), are more vigorous than others. Practicing one of these styles will help you improve muscle tone.  But even less vigorous styles of yoga, such as Iyengar or hatha, which focuses on less movement and more precise alignment in poses, can provide strength and endurance benefits.  Many of the poses, such as downward dog, upward dog, and the plank pose, build upper-body strength. This becomes important as people age. The standing and balance poses, especially if you hold them for several long breaths, build strength in your hamstrings, quadriceps, and abdominal muscles. Poses that strengthen the lower back include upward dog and the chair pose. When practiced correctly, nearly all poses build core strength in the deep abdominal muscles.  With increased flexibility and strength comes better posture. That's because you're counting on your deep abdominals to support and maintain each pose.  With a stronger core, you're more likely to sit and stand taller.

Yoga and Breathing
Because of the deep, mindful breathing that yoga involves, lung capacity often improves (great for ex-smokers). This in turn can improve sports performance and endurance. But yoga typically isn't focused on aerobic fitness the way running, zumba, or cycling are. Taking an intense power yoga class that gets you breathing hard in a heated room, however, can increase aerobic stamina.

Yoga and Stress
Yoga relaxes the body and the mind.  Even newcomers tend to feel less stressed and more relaxed after their first class. Some yoga styles use specific meditation techniques to quiet the constant "mind chatter" that often causes stress. Other yoga styles depend on deep breathing techniques to focus the mind on the breath. When this happens, the mind calms.  Among yoga's anti-stress benefits are a host of biochemical responses. For example, there is a decrease in catecholamines, the hormones produced by the adrenal glands in response to stress. Lowering levels of hormone neurotransmitters (dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine) creates that feeling of calm. Some research shows a boost in the hormone oxytocin, this is the so-called "trust" and "bonding" hormone that's associated with feeling relaxed and connected to others.-WebMD  Yoga can also help control breathing and clear the mind of cluttered thoughts during our daily stressful lives (outside of the yoga studio).

Yoga, Concentration, Mood, and Energy
Some studies have suggested that yoga may have a positive effect on learning, memory, concentration, and the ability to focus mentally. The same is true with mood. Nearly every yoga student will tell you they feel happier after class. Meditation, focuses the mind, taking it away from the distractions of the highly-materialistic world and leading it to genuine happiness.  Recently, researchers have begun exploring the effects of yoga on depression, a benefit that may result from yoga's boosting oxygen levels to the brain. Yoga is even being studied as a therapy to relieve symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder.  Yoga can increase your energy level and productivity too. For as little as 20 minutes, Yoga can replenish the mind and body with precious energy needed to respond to daily tasks and challenges.

Yoga and the Heart
One of the most studied health benefits of yoga is its effect on heart disease. Yoga has been known to lower blood pressure and slow the heart rate. A slower heart rate can benefit people with high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. Yoga has also been associated with decreased cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well as a boost in immune system function.

Yoga and Other Medical Benefits
Yoga has been known to benefits other chronic medical conditions, diabetes, arthritis, asthma, back aches, depression, and osteoporosis.  Yoga improves your resistance to disease. The postures and movements in yoga, massage the internal organs, enhancing blood circulation and functionality, in turn, lessening the risk of illness.  Yoga is also used to help during pregnancy and deliveries.  Researchers have been studying whether yoga can slow the aging process too (bonus).   Yoga has been said to increase spiritual awareness as well.  Yoga can also help normalize body weight. Overweight or underweight, yoga exercises can help achieve the desired weight. The principles of balance and moderation in physical activity and diet under yoga can also lead to a healthier lifestyle.

Yoga and Me
I practice yoga for all of the above reasons, and then some.  I enjoy the relaxation and mental clarity I get after each yoga session.  I practice yoga a few times a week.  It helps me to stretch out my body, and provides a great cross-training.  As a runner, I found yoga really stretches my muscles and helps to relieve the lactic acid in my legs. I have to admit, after a workout, I usually rush through stretching, yoga helps to make up for my lack of stretching.  I travel with yoga DVDs, p90x yoga and AM/PM yoga for beginners are my favorites. I also enjoy the meditation aspect of yoga, I meditate in class, and twice a day (if not more) outside of class. (Photos taken by my 5yr old daughter, Jordan)

I don't think yoga can ever be called a trend.  Yoga may seem like an elixir of life - a cure-all solution to our daily problems and concerns such as illness. But actually, the benefits that Yogis or Yoga practitioners have been experiencing for thousands of years are finally being proven by medical science.  So, yes, it can be a cure-all, if you let it.  The only way to be certain of what yoga can do for you is to try it for yourself and see.  Yoga is truly a key part of living a healthy lifestyle, Self Soul, and Space.

Sources: Webmd.com, ABC-of-Yoga.com