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Near Death Experiences September 29, 2009

Filed under: Spiritual Wellness — aprasek @ 8:44 pm

I love it when science and spirituality play nice together:


If you missed my earlier post on Thukdham, be sure to check it out. It will blow your mind…

What are your thoughts? What is happening during near death experiences and can scientific research really explain them?



Homemade Chai: Quick, Healthy and Cheap September 28, 2009

Filed under: Recipes — aprasek @ 9:55 pm

Expensive Chai...

I’ll admit it, I have a soy chai obsession. But, I’m trying to quit.

Chai has become the “it” drink for those who don’t indulge in coffee. It sounds healthy… it’s made with tea… what’s the big deal?

Here’s the main problem: my medium soy chai sets me back almost $5.00. That’s insane. I could buy dinner for that. Another reason I’m committed to quitting may come as a surprise. A small coffee shop chai can soar over 300 calories and hold more than 30 grams of sugar. 

Worse yet, many of these concoctions don’t use tea anymore. A lot of chai drinks are now created by stirring in some chai-flavored powder or syrup into a cup. The nutritional benefits are lost in these blends– essentially creating some really expensive flavored milk.

My solution has been homemade chai (a speedy version). Here’s what I do:

1-2 cups hot water

1 tea bag Chai Rooibos from Yogi (Yogi is my fave brand of the moment. You can sub with any chai, tea bags or loose.) 

1 Tablespoon honey

Lots of cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and ginger (fresh grated ginger if available)

1/2 cup – 1 cup heated almond milk (or soy, skim, rice, grain, hemp, whatever you dig)


Add tea bag, honey and spices to the water and steep for 8-10 minutes to get a very strong brew. Add milk and stir.  

You can also make a chai concentrate by steeping tea, honey and spices for 10 minutes and then putting the concentrate in the fridge to cool. Just pour some of the cooled concentrate over ice, add a splach of milk and you have an iced chai. Or, pour some concentrate in a blender with your choice of milk and add some ice for a blended chai. So yummy. 

If you sub a homemade chai for a coffee shop one just once a week, you’ll save more than $200 in a year. Ooh, and you’ll save one cup every week which makes a big difference. Check it out: 


You’ve Been Struck By a Smoothie Criminal September 26, 2009

Filed under: Nutritional Wellness — aprasek @ 4:29 pm

The Smoothie Criminals

Great email question from Ann:  Are smoothies healthy?

Answer:  Well, no, usually not.

A lot of smoothies are purchased at coffee or smoothie shops and ice cream joints. The problem is that most of these blended drinks are full of sweeteners, some kind of milk or ice cream, artificial flavors, perhaps some food coloring and preservatives and a bit of pulverized fruit (if they contain any fruit at all). Though some smashed-up fruit can be healthy, the berries or bananas lose their nutritional punch when they’re whirled with a bunch of chemicals and sugars.

At Caribou Coffee, they’ve been hyping their “Acai Smoothie.” The signs at Caribou read: “Naturally Chill. Real fruit. Zero trans fats. And all that tropical anitoxidant goodness.” But, with 72 grams of sugar and 330 calories in the small size, the nutritional benefits get overshadowed by the calories and sugar rush.

Most research suggests that liquid beverages do not provide satiety like a food that must be chewed and swallowed. So, these high-calorie smoothies may not be squelching hunger like a healthy snack or a real meal could.

At a place like Jamba Juice, you could sip down 108 grams of sugar and 770 calories for the original size of the Peanut Butter Moo’d. The peanut butter will give you a bit more satiety from the fat (20 grams in this one). But, that’s a lot of calories for a snack… and not nutritionally happy enough to be a meal.

And of course, the ice cream shops are trying to blend fruit into their staple to create something “health conscious.” It’s really not working so well. Baskin Robbins brags on their website about their Mango Fruit Blast Smoothie,

“Delicious mango fruit blended with fat-free vanilla frozen yogurt for a refreshing taste of the tropics. It’s more than enough to make you say, ‘Yay!’ Made with real fruit and full of live and active cultures.”

I’m gonna have to say “Nay!” on this one. BR failed to inform us that the delicious mango fruit is also blended with (among many other ingredients) four types of sweeteners, preservatives, a bunch of thickeners, yellow 5 and yellow 6. For a grand total of: 144 grams of sugar and 620 calories (for a medium size).

But don’t give up on smoothies if you love them. If you’re out and about and want a smoothie, order the smallest size or split it with a friend. If you’re at a smoothie joint, you could request subbing the juices for whole fruit (e.g. sub mango chunks for orange juice) and sub a low-calorie milk for the ice cream or frozen yogurt. At Jamba Juice, you can often personalize your smoothie and make it low-cal and extra healthy. If you’re feeling frisky, you could even throw a wheatgrass shot into your blend.

At home, I make smoothies for snacks (and sometimes for breakfast) a few times per week. Here are the keys to a healthy smoothie:

  • Keep your smoothie “bulky” by adding ice and not blending the fruit fully. This will increase satiety and enable you to sort of “chew” your smoothie.
  • Add a fat. Consider adding one teaspoon of cold-pressed flax or walnut oil, one tablespoon of nut butter, some nuts or a slice of avocado (great in a strawberry smoothie). Or, enjoy a small handful of raw nuts on the side. 
  • Use a soy, almond, rice, etc. milk instead of ice cream or fro-yo. Check the nutritional label to make sure the milk is not sweetened (some of the soy “drinks” can have tons of calories and sugar). 
  • Add spices! Cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger, cayenne… get creative! Spices like these are cleansing, healing and can boost energy and caloric burn.
  • If necessary, add just a bit of natural sweetener.
  • Throw in a veggie. Spinach, kale and other mild leafy greens work really well (add a small handful of spinach to your smoothie and I promise you won’t even taste it). Squash, pumpkin and carrots are also my favorites to add.

Read more about my favorite smoothies here.

Please share your smoothie recipes below! I’m always looking for something funky to put in the blender…


Dr. Clarke’s H1N1 Beats September 25, 2009

Filed under: Physical Wellness — aprasek @ 6:44 pm

I am loving this doctor: 

Creative, passionate, communicating important information– this doc is doing it right. I love the end when Dr. Clarke sits at his mahogany desk with his hands folded– affirming to us that he is both a rapper and a doctor. Awesome. 

But Dr. Clarke doesn’t only rap about H1N1. He also raps about asthma, adolescent health, Sickle Cell, diabetes and more. Check out his website: Health Hop.  


NO REFORM! It’s Time to Protect the Insurance Companies. September 22, 2009

Filed under: Health Care Reform — aprasek @ 11:59 pm

A Video Montage to Save the Insurance Companies:


The time to not act is now. We must assure these corporations that we will not fight against them, but instead, we will sacrifice our own livelihood so that they can continue to wipe with gold-leaf toilet paper and fly in exquisite private jets.  


The decisions of insurance companies are always in the best interest of the patient. For instance, insurance companies can still deny care for battered women by qualifying domestic violence as a pre-existing condition. You see, insurance companies are simply offering “tough love” by putting battered women into financial ruin so that they will leave their abusers.

And anyway, our last President assured us that we have the best health care system in the world. So, that must be true.

And if you are so cold-hearted that you don’t want to help these companies rake in record profits, then maybe this will convince you: Death panels are real. In fact, I’ve heard that all veterinarians will be required by the government to create a “Rest-Wing” in all clinics so that old people can be put-down as cheaply as possible (perhaps at the same time you’re getting your Labrador neutered).


Further, WWJD actually stands for, “Who Would Jesus Deny.” Caring for the sick, helping those with less material wealth… those are all attributes of the devil. Though these concepts were at the foundation of Jesus’ teachings, he didn’t mean for us to really do such crazy things! That would be a socialist sin. If Jesus were alive today, he’d be the CFO of Big Insurance, hosting MTV Cribs, flicking off anyone different than him and yelling at the underinsured, “Survival of the fittest suckas!” 

So, just to summarize WWJD: Jesus would for sure deny the poor, the middle-class, the already sick, you (but not me) and well, obviously the immigrants. And you can bet that Jesus would be schmoozing with the big wigs on the U.S.S. Constitution (droppin anchor next to Noah).

So, I think I’ve made it pretty clear. We must protect the profits of the insurance companies. If we don’t, we will have to spend less of our income on healthcare and receive better care. It’s a frightening concept.



Cell Phones and Cancer: Practice Safe Text and Calling September 18, 2009

Filed under: Physical Wellness — aprasek @ 12:51 am

Me talking on my killer cell phone. Thanks Palm Treo.

Here’s my sequel to an earlier post:  Cell Phone and Cancer? Read the earlier post to see what all the fuss is about.


So, can cell phones increase cancer risk? Unfortunately, there’s still no concrete answer. 

Previous research studies used to assure the safety of cell phones were based on only three years of cell phone use. Cell phones have now been around much longer and long-term use is beginning to reveal some health/safety concerns. Long-term studies now reveal that cell phone use for 10 or more years may increase the risk for conditions like glioma (a brain tumor that is often malignant), acoustic neuroma (a type of benign brain tumor) and benign parotid gland tumors. 

Recent studies have also linked cell phone radiation to increased risk for migraines, vertigo and behavioral problems in children (based on children who use cell phones and mothers who used cell phones during pregnancy). It is believed that children absorb significantly more radiation than adults, so it’s possible that cell phone use may have more serious health consequences for children.    

Check out the report by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) to learn more about the health concerns of heavy and/or long term cell phone use. And here’s another interesting report that discusses the issues with industry-funded research, health concerns related to cell phone use and the importance of the precautionary principle.

EWG has also created a fantastic database indicating the radiation emitted by particular cell phone models. Visit the site and search for your phone. I was peeved to discover that the Blackberry Curve (the phone Charlie and my mom have) and my Palm Treo made the Top 10 Worst Phones list. Awesome. 

Even though I have the world’s most dangerous phone, I’m not freaking out. In my earlier post, I listed a few easy changes to make that can reduce radiation exposure (use speaker phone, talk less, don’t use a blue-tooth, keep the phone at distance, etc.). When my silly provider gives me my next deal on a phone, I will definitely be switching over to a phone from the Top 10 Best list (lowest radiation).

Additionally, I’ve committed to not using my phone in the car– perhaps, in part because emitted radiation is more powerful when in a moving vehicle– but, mainly because driving and talking on the phone is WAY more dangerous than duct taping my Palm Treo to my head for 10 years. And regarding texting in the car… well that’s just like daring God to strike you down. 

 And how about your phone? Where did it fall on the list? Will you be making any changes in your cell phone use?


“Lunch Encounters of the Third Kind” September 16, 2009

Filed under: Nutritional Wellness,Take Action! — aprasek @ 1:45 am


Lunch Encounters of the Third Kind from Parent Earth on Vimeo.


Healthy, locally sourced school lunches benefit us all. Children receive better nutrition (which reduces their risk for many behavioral, emotional and physical issues), parents will have healthier and happier children (that means less stress) and our local agricultural communities can be supported (which means less toxic chemicals will be sprayed over our land). 

If cleaning up our kids’ lunches sounds good to you, then take action and sign the petition. If you need more convincing that school lunches are, shall we say, lacking, then take the School Junk Food Quiz. The quiz will test your nutrition IQ versus the USDA. Prepare to be shocked.

And be sure to check out the Farm to School program— it’s a national movement working hard to bring more local and healthy foods to school lunch trays.

If you are involved with a school that has initiated a Farm to School program (maybe you have a child at a particpating school or work for the school, etc.) please share your experiences/opinions below!