Friday Favorites

Happy Friday! Let’s mix it up and do some fun Friday Favorites, shall we? Here are some of my recent favorites:

Watching…Top Chef

I’m definitely getting more inspiration in the kitchen by watching this show. Only one more episode left! I like them all so I’ll be pretty happy with whoever wins. Plus, the fact that it takes place in Boston this season is icing on the cake!

Top Chef Boston

Source

Listening…to sports radio, trying to figure out what the heck is going on with #deflategate. I can’t believe my beloved Patriots, especially Tom, would cheat. I wonder if you tested all balls at every single NFL game if they end up getting deflated by the second half.

98.5 The Sports Hub

Source

Eating…this delicious roasted carrot soup. The recipe is from the January/February 2015 issue of Women’s Health Magazine in which they talk about soups as the juices for cold weather. Couldn’t agree more! We haven’t broken out our juicer since late fall and all I’ve been craving is some nice, warm soup! Don’t have time to make your own? Check out a family friend, The Splendid Spoon, where you can buy delicious soup online.

Roasted carrot soup

Drinking…Emergen-C and Echinacea tea. 😦 Was a bit sick midweek, so I’ve been having it 1-2x a day since my symptoms came on. I swear they made me better within a day!

Echinacea tea Emergen-C

Wearing…my bunny slippers under my desk at work. My feet get so, so cold all the time, especially in the winter. I recently learned that it’s something WH bro and I share, so there’s got to be some genetic component to it.

Bunny slippers

Reducing…my chemical exposure. We asked for stainless steel cookware for Christmas to replace our nicked-up non-stick cookware that creeped me out every time I used it. There’s a bit of a learning curve (e.g., don’t soak in water, don’t use abrasive cleaners, don’t add butter/oil until after the pan has heated up-which is the opposite of non-stick, etc.), but I am happy with how evenly it cooks our food. Plus, it should last us a lifetime! Talk about a win for reducing consumer consumption and being healthier!

Stainless steel cookware

Re-purposing a salad from Portland Pie

Questions: What are some of your favorites lately? Do you watch Top Chef? Made any good soups lately? Have perpetually cold (or hot) feet? Are you concerned with reducing your chemical exposure?

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Sick Day

I am currently on my couch nursing something not so fun. Sinus pressure/pain, slight earache, headache, slight fever. Fun times! I was lucky enough to evade all illness for the entire fall and winter (check out this post for tactics on how I didn’t get sick). I almost evaded this one except that I accidentally used my husband’s toothbrush while he was sick last week. I’m sure the look of horror on my face when I pulled the toothbrush out of my mouth only to discover it wasn’t mine was priceless.

Toothbrushes

The culprit

I was able to evade it for a few days, it seemed to go away, and then came back with a vengeance yesterday. So I decided that given the fever and the fact that this was still lingering almost a week later, I was best off staying home and taking it easy. Plus, when you work at a healthcare facility, you shouldn’t go in with a fever (especially when you work at a cancer center). I could easily get someone with a weak immune system very ill.

I often crave eggs and toast when I’m sick so I compromised and made this for lunch.

Gluten free omelet, sweet potato, salad

I was finally able to finish the second, 950-page, small-type Game of Thrones book (A Clash of Kings) this morning before my hunger drove me from bed. I was hoping to get to the fourth book by the time season four aired, but the third book is even longer, so I don’t think that’s going to happen. Oh, well.

Since I watched American Hustle this morning (I thought it was just okay and way too long), I decided I should try to get something out of the day, so I’m now checking out some documentaries on my Netflix list. First up: National Geographic’s The Human Family Tree. You know one of the things I find most fascinating (not that this is news)? All people on Earth share 99.9% of their genetics. We only vary by 0.01%! So you and I nearly 100% the same! #yesimanerd

I should get back to the show so I can share some more nerdy facts with you on Friday! 😉 I’ll be drinking some freshly-brewed French press (to help with the headache), my friend Emergen-C, and choking down some generic Mucinex and Tylenol Sinus.

Sick day essentials

Questions: Do you have any tricks for staying healthy when everyone around you is sick? What do you crave when you’re sick? Have you seen any good movies lately?

Friday Favorite: Greatist Parcel Favorites

Happy Friday! I’m a little under the weather here, but I really can’t complain since I managed to evade any sickness for the entire fall and winter using this approach. I’m not willing to say, “I’m sick” just yet–I still think I can beat this thing before it gets the best of me.

Emergen-C, echinacea tea, licorice tea, coffee

I usually have my coffee black, but need milk when I feel sick!

For today’s favorite, I wanted to revisit some of the items I received in my Parcel Greatist box (full Parcel Greatist box review post here). I’m personally always curious about how much people actually like the items they received from a subscription box and if they’d make a point to go out and buy them, so I’d thought I’d do a run-down of the items that really stood out and that I plan to buy.

Greatist Parcel Box

December’s Box:

Salamandra Naturals Lavender Soap: This soap was seriously great! All natural and exfoliating but also hydrating. Sign me up! Bonus: if you follow Salamandra Soaps on Twitter, you get a discount! Just use discount code twitter.

Salamandra Lavender Oats Soap back

January’s box (yes, that’s all for December’s box, but this box was much better!):

Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts Raw Shelled Hemp Seeds: I enjoyed these so much that I promptly went out and bought more once I was all out. I love that they add more protein, fiber, and Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) to my weekend smoothies.

Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts

Raw Green Organics Super Greens: These are another item that I have thoroughly enjoyed adding to my smoothies! It is a healthy, antioxidant-rich organic vegetable blend packed with EFAs, amino acids, phytonutrients and fiber. It’s definitely on the expensive side, but my small packet lasted me well over a month of having two smoothies a week, so a little bit goes a long way.

RawJuvenate Organic Super Greens

Look at how green it makes my smoothie!

Smoothie using RawJuvenate Organic Super Greens

Amala Hydrating Cream Cleanser, Yogurt Mask, and Face Cream: Another expensive item, I know, but I can’t begin to tell you how well this moisturized my skin compared to my regular moisturizer! My usual cream quickly sinks into my skin, hydrating it, but leaving the surface a bit dry. This cream was not only absorbed, but left a barrier on the top of my skin, making it feel smooth and nourished. Add to that the fact that my skin didn’t freak out, and that they use organic plants and custom distill them, and this is definitely a quality product. I will be adding this to my Christmas wish list!

Amala hydrate collection

After having sore heels last weekend, I think I’m back on the upswing. I was able to go out yesterday and felt pretty good. I changed things up and instead of using KT tape and my old orthotics, used only my new orthotics. Both of my heels hurt for the first five minutes of walking, but since they both hurt I decided it was because I was still breaking in my orthotics.

Langer custom orthotic

New orthotic on right, old orthotic on left

Once I started my run/walk intervals (stage 7), they felt much better. The Achilles of my PF foot felt a bit tight, but no pain. The only real problem was my feet felt clunky, almost as though I had cinderblocks in my shoes, to the point that I felt my form was off. It was probably a combination of the fact that I was coming down with something (my legs felt fatigued) and adjusting to the weight/stability of the orthotics themselves. But I just had to get out and enjoy the first day of spring!

Questions: Do you have a subscription box? If so, which one(s) and what are some of your favorite products that you’ve received? Did you do anything to celebrate the first day of spring?

How I Didn’t Get Sick

It’s that time of year that’s really hectic. We’re running around to get things done for the holidays, attending parties, are stuck inside, and we’re often a bit worn out from all of this. As I’m sure you know, this can leave us very vulnerable to getting sick.

ID-10056869

A couple of weeks ago I felt a tickle in my throat. I don’t know about you, but that’s usually the first sign that I’m about to come down with a cold. Determined not to get sick, I decided to bolster my immune system quickly!

These are my two main players:

Echinacea and Emergen-C

I’ll typically buy whichever Echinacea tea is the least expensive at the grocery store. This one happens to be organic, which is a bonus! I drank one tea bag two times a day until my throat started to feel better (about a week). What’s in it? Let’s take a closer look.

Echinacea ingredients

Each tea bag contains:

Medicinal ingredients: Organic purple coneflower herb (Echinacea purpurea), organic purple coneflower root (6:1 extract), and organic narrow-leaf Echinacea herb (Echinacea angustifolia)

Non-medicinal ingredients: Organic West Indian lemongrass leaf (Cymbopogon citratrus), organic spearmint leaf (Mentha spicata).

There are some warnings attached to this tea, so please use your best judgement as to whether you should drink it. (Consult a health care practitioner before use if you have rheumatoid arthritis, an auto-immune disorder or a progressive systemic disease such as tuberculosis, leucosis, collagenosis, multiple sclerosis, AIDS or HIV infections. Consult a health care practitioner prior to use if you are taking immunosuppressants, or if symptoms persist. Do not use if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Do not use if you have an allergy to Asteraceae/Compositae (the daisy family) plants.).

Studies have shown mixed results as to whether Echinacea actually works. There are many different preparations available, so it’s hard to have an even playing field. Perhaps it’s a placebo effect going on, but I do find that it works for me.

The flavor is quite mild, which is great because I always find my taste buds are a bit off when I’m under the weather (another way I know I’m getting sick: I’m not very interested in drinking my daily coffee!). You can taste a bit of mint and lemon, but it’s not overpowering.

What’s in Emergen-C?

Emergen-C

Calories 25
Total Carbohydrate 6 g 2%**
Sugars 5 g
Vitamin C (as ascorbic acid, zinc ascorbate, chromium ascorbate) 1,000 mg 1,667%
Thiamin (as thiamine hydrochloride) 0.38 mg 25%
Riboflavin (as riboflavin 5’-phosphate sodium) 0.43 mg 25%
Niacin 5 mg 25%
Vitamin B6 (as pyridoxine hydrochloride) 10 mg 500%
Folic Acid 12.5 mcg 3%
Vitamin B12 (as cyanocobalamin) 25 mcg 417%
Pantothenic Acid (as calcium pantothenate) 2.5 mg 25%
Calcium (as calcium carbonate, calcium phosphate, calcium pantothenate) 50 mg 5%
Phosphorus (as potassium phosphate, calcium phosphate, sodium phosphate) 38 mg 4%
Magnesium (as magnesium hydroxide, magnesium carbonate) 60 mg 15%
Zinc (as zinc ascorbate) 2 mg 13%
Manganese (as manganese gluconate) 0.5 mg 25%
Chromium (as chromium ascorbate) 10 mcg 8%
Sodium (as sodium bicarbonate, sodium phosphate) 60 mg 3%
Potassium (as potassium bicarbonate, potassium carbonate, potassium phosphate) 200 mg 6%
Alpha Lipoic Acid 1 mg †
Quercetin 1 mg †
**Percent Daily Values (DV) are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.†Daily Value not established.

Other Ingredients: Cane sugar, fructose, citric acid, raspberry juice powder and other fruit juice powder, natural raspberry flavors, tartaric acid, malic acid, tapioca maltodextrin, vegetable juice color, silica, stevia (leaf extract), caramel color, glycine, aspartic acid, and cysteine hydrochloride.

It’s a slightly fizzy concoction of  essential nutrients, including 1,000 mg of vitamin C and other immune supporting antioxidants, zinc and manganese, seven B vitamins to enhance energy naturally, and electrolytes.

For those watching their calories and/or sugar intake, Emergen-C recently introduced a five calorie version of the drink.

There are a lot of great flavors to try out. They even have a recipe section on their website with great concoctions, such as the “Rock Your World Healthy Mocktail.”

Mocktail

If you haven’t had a chance to give this drink a try yet, they are offering free samples on their website!

As with Echinacea, there are mixed results on the efficacy of vitamin C in preventing and/or reducing the duration of colds. Again, even if it’s a placebo, it seems to work for me!

The third item I use is for side effect treatment, as opposed to stopping or shortening a cold like the previous two items. These Burt’s Bees throat drops feel great on my sore throat and I like that it’s a natural product (no artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners or preservatives). It’s made with 35% pure honey and this particular flavor has a touch of lemon.

In addition to using all of these items, I made sure to focus on rest. I took a couple of days off of exercising completely. The going wisdome for working out while sick is that if your symptoms are above your neck (stuffiness, sinus pressure/pain, sore throat), you can work out, and if they’re below the neck (chest congestion, achiness), you should rest. My body felt like it was asking for rest and I decided my body knew best. I also made sure to get to plenty of sleep.

My rabbit rests like it's his job.

My rabbit rests like it’s his job.

Once I was feeling a little better two days later, I did some easy yoga. The day after I still felt okay, so I decided some light cardio would be appropriate. And when I was still feeling good the day after that, I felt confident that doing some moderate weight lifting/body weight exercises. Then I was back to my usual routine!

Has anyone else used these or other products with success to boost immunity and/or shorten the duration of a cold? Any other tips or tricks that you have for staying healthy during the cold and flu season, and year-round?

First image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net