Friday, October 30, 2015

Halloween Soup

Holiday time is approaching, starting with the favorite of many, Halloween.  That ghostly time of year when we decorate with Jack-O-Lanterns, carved from pumpkins or made of various other reusable materials and other spooky things.  There are costumes in which to dress up as our favorite hero or heroine or just something kooky.  Of course, there are those yummy sugar laden treats we have become    
accustomed to for this holiday.

Before sending the little tykes (and bigger tykes as well),  out on their candy collecting adventures, boost their immune systems with a hearty bowl of vegetable soup.  There are many recipes for soups, but lots of chunky veggies cooked with fresh and/or dried herbs for additional flavor and nutrition, will give them a healthy start for the evening.

Its easy to put together a quick pot of soup with some leftovers from the vegetable bin.  Start with a base of sautéed onion and garlic in coconut/olive or your favorite cooking oil, then add any variety of chopped vegetables, such as carrots, celery, potatoes, cabbage and squash.  Add enough water to make the soup the consistency you desire. Fresh or dried herbs added at the end of the cooking time, add extra nutrients.  Fresh chopped parsley, basil or oregano will be quite tasty in your soup.  There are also dried vegetable seasonings on the market which can give added flavor.  With all of these wonderful veggies and herbs you will give your family an extra nutritional boost for Halloween night, as well as the satisfaction of creating a quick nutritious meal for those you love.

Here's to a Happy Hallow's Eve !!!

The Nuts at Black Walnut T's

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Grocery List

How do you plan your meals and do your grocery shopping?  What needs to be improved in this area?
Take an inventory of your pantry and work on your food list at the same time. By keeping shelves organized, all it takes is glance to see what needs to go on "the list". Personally, I may have to reorganize few times before I am satisfied with the results, so if at first glance your organization system is lacking,  go back and re-work it until you have a good system that works for you.

If weight is an issue for yourself or your loved ones, take a close look at what is in your cupboard that may add additional calories.  Look for foods with added sugar and fats.  Now is the time to read labels. Look for fat, sugar and calorie content per serving.  In future posts we will go into more detail on counting calories, but lets face it,  most of us know that the sugar and fat laden snacks are empty calories that add weight and leave us nutritionally deficient.  Now if the time to replace those snacks with foods that nourish.

If your food budget allows, purchase precut vegetables in your produce department.  This saves time and adds more nutrient rich foods to your diet.  You can purchase precut fruits as well, which makes good desserts or snacks.  There are also precut snack vegetables, like carrots, celery sticks,  cauliflower, broccoli and shredded cabbage.  Look for natural dressings or sauce to accompany the raw or steamed veggies.

Paring and preparing your own vegetables is budget wise and can be done quickly.  If you have no experience with preparing fresh foods, start by preparing simple foods like peeling and cutting potatoes and carrots, dicing onions or peppers.  If your are still uncertain and hesitate to cook with fresh vegetables because of prep and/or budget, try searching you tube for ideas about paring veggies.  If you  don't have access to a computer, and many do not,  try the local library for a computer search as well as books on the subject.  I found  that with practice I became very good at "slicing and dicing."  It was also empowering to learn new skills that I can use for many years to come.

And last, but not least, look at your daily menus,  how many days in advance do you plan.  Do you plan or just "wing it?"  If planning is a challenge,  start where you are and take it in small steps, just as we discussed earlier when making dietary changes. When you start planning for just a meal or two a week you will find it is less stressful when you have a plan than planning dinner  on your way through the market after a tiring day at work or keeping up with the kids and all of their activities.

Looks like you've got some homework to do.  We'll be back soon  with more tips and encouragement on your road to good health.

Until next time we wish you good health and  healthy eating.
We are "nuts for nuts".
BlackWalnut T''s

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Tips for Making Dietary Changes

One thing I would like to emphasize when making your dietary changes or change of any kind, always start where you are and give yourself leeway, as dietary changes are challenging and change comes easier for some than for others.  Be kind and considerate to yourself and family members.  This is important because you want to be in a frame of mind that is nurturing and healing.  What you think about yourself, those you love and the changes you are making is most important.  You want these changes to become part of your lifestyle, not just a temporary change.

Unlike yesteryear, our lives are filled with more activity and irregular work hours, making our time and resources more exacting.  My first suggestion would be to look at your schedule and how you arrange your current meal times and see if changes are needed.  Are you eating to much on the go, eating out too much or is everyone responsible for themselves.

Without sounding too old fashioned, it is important to schedule some meals as a sit down occasion, whether it is just for yourself, yourself and a partner or the family.  Make your meal special.  With just a little effort you can set a nice table.  If you have linens in the closet, get them out, use them.  Nothing makes even a simple meal more elegant than a nice table cloth and cloth napkins.  If you do not have linens,  plan a special shopping trip, many stores carry reasonably priced table linens.  If you do not have the time or budget for linens,  placemats can be an artistic way to set your table, they come in various fabrics as well as easy to clean plastics and other materials.  Add heavier paper dinner napkins and you have a lovely dinner table setting that is quick and easy.  To keep costs low, use your paper dinner napkins only for your set down meals.  This is a way of honoring yourself, making some meals special and changing the way you perceive food.  You may find it so enjoyable, these special meals will become a part of your daily routine.

As you consider the changes you need to make in your relationship with food, you will find other creative ways to make this change easier, gratifying and special.  Next time we will have tips for cleaning out the cabinets, easy ways to prepare delicious, healthy meals and snacks that will fit your time and food budget, plus getting the family involved in the process.

Wishing you happy and creative changes in your endeavor to eat healthier.

We are the Black Walnut
"Nuts"for Healthy Living

Sunday, October 11, 2015


On our quest to decrease stress, we have talked about different types of exercise.  Now I would like to like to touch on the practice of meditation.  Meditation is not a new practice, like yoga, it has been a part of the Indian culture and religion for thousands of years.

For those new to meditation,  keep it simple.   Did you know, that just by closing your eyes,  you close the door to 80% of the outside world; add a deep breath or two and you can already feel a measure of relaxation.  As a beginner, set attainable goals.  Finding just five minutes once or twice a day is a good starting point for a novice.  Many people find early morning or just before bedtime works well, but the best time is the time that is right for you and your schedule.  You will need a quiet place where you will not be disturbed for five minutes.  Sit straight with both feet flat on the floor and arms relaxed by your side or on your lap.  Simply close your eyes, take a deep breath in and exhale slowly, continue this for another two to three slow deep breaths, in and out.  With each breath, you will feel more relaxed.  Allow any thoughts to enter and exit your mind by just observing them as if they were part of a play,  entering and exiting,  letting each thought go as it exits the stage.  As you end your meditation, slowly open your eyes and give yourself a few seconds or a minute or so to acclimate you your surroundings.
As you become accustomed to the practice, you may want to lengthen the time you spend meditating.  If interruptions are likely to occur,  I have found a friendly sign on the door with an approximate time frame,  helps others to respect your quiet time.

Practicing meditation has been shown to have positive health benefits and a feeling of well being.

Wishing you good health, happiness,  love and peace.
The Black Walnut "Nuts"

Tuesday, October 6, 2015


Hatha yoga, commonly referred to as "yoga" has been a part of the Indian culture and religion for
thousands of years.  The sages understood the importance of balancing body, mind and spirit. The
series of exercises and breathing provides the muscular and skeletal movements needed for agility and well being.  Because the internal organs do not get a lot of exercise, the yoga postures you practice provides internal as well as external benefits.  Meditation is part of yoga practice and stills the mind,
giving you a feeling of peace and calm.

Yoga classes are readily available in most communities.  Local hospitals now offer health and wellness classes and yoga may be included as part of their curriculum.  Many classes are designed for older people and those with limited mobility.

If you feel drawn to this form of exercise, see what your community has to offer.  The benefits can change your life and you can enjoy improved health at any age.

As always, consult with your physician before beginning any exercise program.

Until next time we wish you love,  good health,  prosperity, happiness and peace.

the Black Walnut "Nuts for Nuts"

Friday, October 2, 2015

There are  many facets of healthy living. Good health is never about any one thing, it is about the balance of many things. It is sometimes challenging to integrate the changes we would like to make to create good health, so it is important to take one step at a time and be flexible and gentle with ourselves along the way.

Last time we touched on exercise and the health benefits of the simple act of walking.  I would like to add another thought for your consideration.  If you are unable to walk as much as you would like, try parking a distance from shopping or work and walk 1-5 minutes extra minutes to your destination.  Do this with each stop and it will prove to be beneficial.  Make it a habit.  For example,  if you walk 6 minutes at each stop (3 stops) you will have walked a total of 18 minutes for the day and you have integrated additional exercise into your routine. Give yourself credit for this accomplishment and continue to look for other ways to incorporate exercise during your day.  Taking the stairs instead of the elevator also comes to mind.  As you become more aware of these simple routines you will see other ways to add movement to your day.  Of course this additional activity will not replace a cardio workout, but it will add additional circulatory and breathing benefits and perhaps a feeling of well

If a more active workout is what you need, there are many places which can meet this need.  These days there are gyms, the YMCA or YWCA, or a wellness center which is part of your local hospital or health care system.  Here you can participate in many types of exercise including aerobics and water aerobics, swimming, treadmills and equipment for an upper body workout.  These scheduled classes give you something to plan for and look forward to as well as making new friends and acquaintances.
This naturally leads to less stress and a feeling of well being and belonging.

Always consult your physician before embarking on any exercise routine.

Our best wishes to you and yours for good health, happiness, prosperity, peace and love.
the Black Walnut "Nuts"