Spicing It Up

 

 

I recently came across an article stressing the idea that foods are not healthy. Some foods are nutritious and therefore improve our health but a food on its own is not healthy. The idea of adding foods into the diet as a way to stay healthy isn’t new to me. But I realized that many times I make the dietary changes solely to lose weight, not to become healthier.  Only in the last 5 years have I began to adjust my diet to improve my health. There are quite a few contradictory ideas out there which also adds to the confusion. I like coffee. Is it nutritious? Some say yes and some say no. I often use medicine to alleviate pain. Is this good? Many studies are now saying maybe it’s not. While I was reading these articles I stumbled upon an article about turmeric and was amazed at all the positive health benefits it provided. Turmeric is the root of the Cucurma longa plant. It is known for its strong peppery fragrance and bright orange/yellow color. It is best known as the spice in curry, a traditional Indian food. Throughout history turmeric has been used as a powerful medicine in China and India as an anti-inflammatory agent used to relieve arthritis, heartburn, stomach pain, jaundice, liver problems, headaches, bronchitis, colds, lung infections, depression, and cancer (just to name a few). To be honest I was quite impressed with the quick research I did into this colorful spice. My thinking was if I could use this spice in my diet and replace a pill that might cause me to have a heart attack, I would be willing to give it a try.

Within a day I once again heard reference to this little gem in the form of the turmeric shot. While my computer was being fixed, I had a little time on my hands and caught the Today show. There was a clip discussing the use of turmeric shots as a health regimen of Rachel Hunter.  Honestly, I wasn’t paying much attention to the clip but the idea of drinking turmeric was interesting. I then began to research this. I found that turmeric shots are sort of the new rage with some juice bars charging $3 to $8 for a shot. A quick search on Google led me to sites that give basic instructions to create your own shot quite easy. I was able to mostly find the ingredients I needed, although I still haven’t found turmeric root and have been forced to use dried. Here’s a link to one that’s very similar to what I make.

Here’s my recipe:

  • 1 lemon juiced
  • 1 t dried turmeric
  • 1 t dried ginger (or 2 inches of ginger root juiced)
  • a dash of cracked pepper
  • (opt) a dash of cayenne pepper

I stir this all together and then drink up! Since turmeric is fat soluble I eat this with my breakfast which is almost always 2 eggs, 1/4 avocado and 1/2 a roma tomato. One recipe used coconut water and sweetened it with organic honey. I am trying to also cut back on sugar/carbs so I did not add any sweetener.

This will not taste great. I repeat, this WILL NOT taste great. However, I began to have positive effects within a day of trying. I am now on my third day. I have slept through the night every night, my everyday suffering of headaches has disappeared, I have lost 4.6 pounds in 2 days (turmeric is a diuretic so that could be why), my need for pain meds has vanished and I have an incredible amount of energy. As much as I am not a fan of the taste, I think I could continue these elixirs for some time.

Just to note, I am not a doctor. Please speak to your doctor about any dietary changes you are thinking of trying. This information is only for your information and not medical advice. 

 

The Simple Dish

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I don’t always use recipes to create my healthy meals. Sometimes it’s so much easier to put together the foods I enjoy into a dish. Sometimes I have eaten out and really liked that meal. One of my all time favorites is the Tequila Lime Chicken from Applebees. We would sub out the rice for broccoli and ask for no chips on top. This meal also became a staple to make at home. There is no recipe. In general we would grill up a chicken breast then  melt cheddar cheese on top. We would create a pico de gallo with tomatoes, onions and cilantro and a squeeze of lime and a mixture of salsa & sour cream for the sauce.  On top of the grilled chicken melt the cheese, top with the salsa mix and scoop on the pico. The side was of course steamed broccoli. It’s so simple and easy and usually pretty inexpensive.

Now since I had quite a lot of the cilantro left over from this meal, I was trying to come up with another dish that would use that herb. I decided on shrimp tacos. At Meijer salad shrimp were $4.99. I cooked those up in some butter and garlic. I splurged with 2 corn shells. I cooked the shells on a skillet, melted some cheese on top of that, scooped out the shrimp then I added pico de gallo, sour cream, salsa, and a squeeze of lime. These were so good we made them again tonight for dinner. This time I used romaine lettuce shells instead of the corn shells, saving about 12 carbohydrates. It was still delicious.

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It doesn’t always take an extravagant meal to eat healthy. Pick out the foods you like, sub out the no-no foods with healthier choices and enjoy!

 

Too Soon

Last year when my husband and I decided to delve into eating as healthy as possible, we assumed we would have at least 3 months until we would need to have a get together with family. As it turns out we have family that love to proclaim the healthy life style but when they all get together their love for each other is often expressed with food. Unfortunately my family often is the ones left taking any unwanted food home. We’ve put our foot down before and insisted that we also don’t want all the left over pies, but many times the fight isn’t worth it. One would think we could just toss those calorie ridden, carby crappers right into the trash, but as it turns out my husband and I both hate throwing good things away. We often joke that we were somehow born in the depression era as we find value in things others would toss out. It is both a blessing and a curse.

When once again we began this healthy journey after taking the summer off, which rolled into fall and a little winter, we thought, again, we would have until Easter before a family gathering would be required. We were wrong. Yesterday we were invited once again to Holland to have a gathering with my husband’s immediate family (just like Christmas) but this time grandma’s twin sister’s family came too. It was a cousins gathering. As much as we love seeing the cousins I knew this would be a dieting nightmare.

The first thing I did to prepare for this day was make sure the dishes I brought were something I could eat. I chose spinach artichoke dip with cut up celery and sausage stuffed mushrooms. My husband and I love these dishes and they are on our low carb yes list.

The second thing I did, or at least wanted to do was make sure I didn’t go there hungry. I failed at this. That morning I also had to work and make a trip to see my aunts. Time was tight. I forgot to eat breakfast and lunch. Not good. So right before we left to travel to Holland I threw a handful of known okay foods into a dish to munch on the way. IMG_1190This was exactly what I needed!

And I was right. When we got there my sister in law had created these brilliant masterpiece cake balls. Like these:

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only her’s were twice this size and pink and chocolate and covered in sprinkles. I love eating colorful food. I love cake balls. Sprinkles are for winners, right? I think I found myself staring at these things at least 20 times throughout the day. I even had to help serve them to the kids, meaning I had to touch them! However, I was good. Not one sweet thing was consumed by me the entire time. I stuck with my foods, some vegetables and a few things that didn’t have high carb counts. The only thing outside of my desired food was homemade cabbage rolls and my husband and I split one.

It was really nice being able to avoid tempting foods, literally right in my face. It was even better waking up this morning and finding that I had lost 3.2 pounds since yesterday morning! This takes my seven day total weight loss to 4.2. This makes me very happy. I hope my second week is just as fulfilling.

 

Let the Festivals Begin!

nnaaIMG_6318 Guests stand out against the CCFF logo

Lansing is a very active city. As soon as the snow melts the festivals begin. We’ve already had TEDxLansingED, which I was invited to coordinate photography for.  Right around the corner is another fantastic event; the Capital City Film Festival. This will be my fourth year volunteering for this event. For the last two years I coordinated the photography coverage for this four day festival.

nnIMG_4869The Red Carpet

nnIMG_5073The local news covering the Red Carpet Premiere.

It begins with this amazing Red Carpet event which is free to the public and held at Troppo in downtown Lansing. An actual red carpet is laid out on the sidewalk leading into the restaurant. As guests arrive, dressed in their finest attire, they travel along its path, stopping long enough to pose for a quick photo before heading into the bash. It’s fun, festive and fancy! It’s one of my favorite parts.

nnIMG_5352The CCFF Coordinators

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Before the Red Carpet Premier kick-off party even finishes the opportunities to enjoy the first film begins. The films are featured at various venues throughout Lansing. This year the movie viewing happens at the Lansing Public Media Center, Dart Auditorium on LCC campus, Mustang Bar in Old Town and the Lansing Center. Each night also offers an array of musical talent.

nnIMG_6897Music performances every night during the festival

The venues for this year’s music are the Loft and Mac’s Bar.

nnIMG_6051Michael McCallum owner of Rebel Pictures. He writes, directs and produces films in Lansing.

The event runs from April 10 through April 13. You can buy a festival pass for $50 or you can pick and choose your events and pay at the door.

It’s a great way to try something new and experience a film festival right in your own little town.

There’s Film in Lansing!

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Check out my photographs from previous years!

 

 

“The Mirror”

For a few months now I have been working on my SEO for my photography business. It’s a bunch of “think like a computer programmer” tricks and really not my thing. I get easily frustrated by its “popularity contest” feel, especially when it gets bought out by the higher bidder. Yet, I feel like I should try. I heard recently that adding video content to your website actually increases its chance of getting ranked higher on Google. I’ve been putting together little video slide shows for years., decades even. So, here’s my little ditty. It’s a poem about being the person behind the lens and what I see when I take you into my camera.

Having Fun in Lansing-Winter 2014

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This last weekend it struck me that despite the cold the Lansing area seems to have quite a few activities going on. My family and I were able to attend the Harris Nature Center’s Winter Festival for the first time.  I had found the event posted on Facebook and when I saw the Samoyed dog sleds I knew I had to go. I had owned a Samoyed, Sparty, for 15 years and I still miss him three years after losing him. I had a blast hanging out with these sweet dogs.

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The twins had a lot of fun at the ice carving areas where ice bowling and snowball tossing was taking place. Just as we were heading out the twins took to the idea of skiing for the first time. Despite mom & dad being super cold, we decided to let the kids try it out. They each had a great time and both were pretty good. 

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At the same time as the winter festival at Harris Nature Center another fantastic tradition was taking place; the Cardboard Classic races at Gier Park Community Center. If you’ve ever followed my City Saunter Blog you would know that I personally love Gier Park for sledding. To me, it’s the perfect hill. The Cardboard Classic is a once a year racing competition. There is a small fee that goes towards the Gier Community Center Youth Fund so it’s definitely a wonderful way to have fun and help out the community.

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So now that I’ve told all the events you’ve missed, here are some still coming up!

CCFF & MBC Free Brew & View Series

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With Capital City Film Festival right around the corner they decided to add a little extra entertainment to the schedule. They are hosting three free movie viewings at MBC in Lansing that include some pretty great food and beverage deals. The first is Groundhogs Day on January 30. Before each feature a few movie shorts will also be presented. For all the details and more information click here.

Arts & Craft Beer Festival

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This event is being held at the gallery that I manage, AA Creative Corridor (the old Art Alley). It is hosted by the geniuses behind I’m A Beer Hound and the owner of  “REO Town Pub”, Roxanne Landes. The event will not only showcase Right Brain Brewery but many local artistic works including the City Saunter Exhibit. Tickets can be purchased here.

Hawk Island Snow Park

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In 2011 construction began on the new Hawk Island Snow Park. This urban snow park is one of its kind in the country and resides solidly in Lansing. This year round park is a staple for events, picnics, swimming, exercising and many winter sports. If you haven’t tried this place out, you should before we start to warm up.

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Fenner Nature Center

On february 7, 2014 Fenner is offering a winter night hikes from 6-8. Travel the trails in the evening to explore the activities of nocturnal animals. Then you can finish your walk at the bon fire where you can roast marshmallows.

If you are looking for something in a warmer month Fenner will also be hosting their annual Maple Syrup Festival. My family has attend this event every year and it’s always a blast. Interestingly enough, when we went in 2012 my daughter wore a halter top!

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TEDxLansing

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If you’ve been craving some intellectual stimulation, then TEDxLansing 2014 will be perfect for you. This event has produced quality events every time. TEDxLansing conference will be held February 28, 2014 at the studios of WKAR. You can purchase your tickets here.

 

Don’t forget Valentine’s Day is Friday February 14.

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Don’t be SAD this winter

It’s January. It’s January in Lansing, MI. It’s January in Lansing, MI in the year 2014, which by most accounts, has been one of the most “winter-like” winters we’ve seen around here in a long time. We’ve had snow on the ground almost constantly from the end of November last year until now. It’s also been extremely cold. This time of year is often difficult for those that suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, like me. When there’s an extra long, dreary winter like there has been this year, it’s even more difficult to handle the doldrums, melancholy and sadness that can sometimes seep in during a Michigan winter. I’d like to offer up some of my remedies, not as a professional, because if you are a serious sufferer you need to seek professional treatment, but as someone who finds these winter greys a bit too much sometimes.

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  • Exercise: I know this one seems obvious but there’s a lot that goes into winter exercising. I honestly love exercising in the winter. But I think the trick is finding the activity that you really like to do, that’s worth going out into that cold for. There’s a few extra steps needed for winter fun. The first is clothing. All Michiganders are taught at an early age to layer. This is especially important while exercising outside. You can layer socks, gloves, shirts and pants. Always bring more than you need as you can add more as needed but only if it’s on hand. Some of the activities I like to do are ski and sled. There’s also walking, running, skating, tobogganing, ice fishing, shoveling, snow sculpting (playing in the snow), snowball fighting, and snow football. A second thing to remember is bring water! Most outdoor water fountains are shut off this time of year. It’s really important to bring your own. A third thing is you do get warm while exercising outside. Even though it’s negative 12 wind chill you are exerting energy, probably more so than in the warmer months. I’ve come home from skiing with all my layers drenched. My final suggestion is to get dry and warm fast! The worst part of winter activities is getting wet and chilled and not being able to warm up. Be prepared with dry clothes, heat, warm drinks or even a dip in a hot tub or shower if you can.

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  • Color:  It’s that time of year where everything is grey, white or grey/white. Wear brightly colored shirts. I love wearing super bright knee high socks or slippers. Put a bow in your hair. Do anything that adds some color to your day. If by chance there’s a blue sky, don’t let it go without a notice. You really have no idea when you’ll see that gorgeous blue again.

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  • Sunshine: From November until March true warm on your skin sunshine is hard to find. But when it does come out you just hang onto it and don’t let go. Sit in the window, go for a drive, take a walk, and enjoy it. 

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  • Flowers: This idea stems from both a color perspective and a desperate need for spring. At any time you need, go and buy some bright flowers. Put them in a vase and enjoy their beauty. There is nothing more refreshing than some glorious spring flowers. And men, pretend you are buying them for your significant other or daughter and enjoy them too.

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  • Food: I am constantly craving starchy carbohydrates this time of year. Don’t do it. They may make you feel better momentarily but the heavy, bloating feeling they cause a few hours later just isn’t worth it. These types of food may also affect your mood. There is much discussion about wheat and its negative effects on behavior. If you feel you might have problems with wheat, eliminate it for a while and see if it makes you feel better. As with the flowers, I suggest bringing in color again. This is a great time of year to eat brightly colored vegetables. You can make them into warm, yummy soups or sauté with a bit of olive oil. Add your fruits too. Florida oranges are usually pretty cheap right now. All those A,B, & C Vitamins, will do a bunch of good for your mood. Don’t shy away from chocolate too. It has been known to elevate serotonin levels which are the feel good hormone. Try dark chocolate if you can, it’s better for you. Other foods I like are hot teas especially peppermint and chamomile. Always consult with a doctor about your diet. These are just some of my techniques to get me through the winter months.

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  • Remove Negativity: For the first time ever, I had to take a Facebook fast. For whatever reason I was not able to filter out the negative posts, comments and activities like I normally can. I was letting it get to me and it was really depressing me. If you are being influenced by negative thoughts or ideas you really need to balance that with some positive. Most negative thinking is false thinking. Think about the things you tell yourself. Now examine it. Does it really ring true? If someone said the same thing to you would you believe them? Would you be willing to sit your child down and tell them, honestly, that those names or ideas you keep telling yourself are true? Don’t be your worst enemy, be your best friend. It is true that people will treat you like you treat yourself. Eliminate all negative self talk and see you it doesn’t enhance your mood.

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  • Be realistic: As much as all this dreary weather can wear on us, always remember it too shall pass. The buds of spring are really much closer than we think. Even though the calendar says spring is two months away, we know in our hearts that there’s always a bit of hope at pretty much any time now. Ground Hog’s Day is only 12 days away and Valentine’s Day is 12 days after that. Add another two weeks and we’re at the beginning of March. That’s not so bad.

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Again, S.A.D. can be a serious condition. This blog in no way represents medical advice. If you are having serious symptoms you must seek out a professional. This blog represents personal ideas and should not be mistaken as medical advice.

Ariniko O’Meara is a natural light photographer in the Lansing, Michigan area. She specializes in family photography including candid and portraiture shooting styles.  All photographs within in this blog are protected under copyright law. ©Ariniko Artistry 2014

First Blog

I’m not really certain how many blogs a person should have. I have one for my three year project that journeyed me through every street in Lansing, Michigan. I also have a blog for my professional photography page. This will be my third blog and will host my personal thoughts, ideas, interests and hobbies. I hope you all don’t get bored of me. I will work hard to keep that from happening. If you have any pointers, ideas, interests and hobbies you’d like to share, I would love to communicate with you about those.

Well it’s game day. The MSU Spartans are in the Rose Bowl. I remember 25 years ago when I was a senior in high school watching them play then. How exciting!

 

Hope everyone has a great New Year’s Day!

Best~

Ariniko