Category Archives: Eating Healthy on a Budget

Father’s Day Foot Massages

It’s that time of year again.  Time to honor our father’s for their contributions to our lives.  Whether it’s with time fishing or a hiking date, time in the spa for a foot massage date with your dad, I hope you are able to connect with your dad this Father’s Day, the 21st of June (which also happens to be the Summer Solstice).

My dad has passed, but he was a troubador, traveling all over the states, playing music, sleeping at friends houses and in a camper on his truck on the way.  I wouldn’t hear from him for months sometimes and then one of my friends would have what we called an “Ed sighting.”  Somebody had seen him at a festival or some town along the way, Luckenbach, Kerrville, Mexico, Cody, or somewhere in New Mexico or Arizona and they always went out of their way to tell us about it.  It was a pretty good system.

I was at the bank last week and ran into an old friend, Josh, who has a deep appreciation for my dad.  I hadn’t seen Josh in a few years.  We hugged and he started to tell me a story about coming home one day to a hand written card attached to a CD of my dad’s music.  The card said, “a wind blew through while you were gone.”  It was a reference to a song that my dad had gotten some recognition for called, “A Wind Blows Through West Texas.”  It was the first “Ed Sighting” we have had for a while.  My dad was a character.  A charismatic performer and story teller.  I’m so glad when people remember him to me.

Do you have a good memory of your dad to share?

Call to make a foot massage appointment with the Dad in your life: 479-251-7422

Wendy Finn is the mother of 4 boys, owner of I.M. Spa, a Raw Food Enthusiast and educator, a world traveler in pursuit of superior massage education, a Master Massage Therapist of 20 plus years, a gardener, and a nursing student.  She’s passionate about touching people and sharing health.  Schedule an appointment for a massage  479-251-7422

 

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Black Raspberries from a Good Friend

Where are the Berries?

Gina's Raw Food Birthday Cake!
Gina’s Raw Food Birthday Cake!

A friend of mine called me up and asked me to come help her make a raw food cake for her birthday.  I can’t think of a better way to spend a friend’s birthday than to do it playing in the kitchen together.  And besides, it’s a berry time of year.  Strawberries, blueberries, black raspberries.  Berries.

We used a recipe from “Ani Phyo’s Raw Food Essentials.”  But we had to modify it to make it work for us.  Here is the original recipe:

  • 3 cups walnuts
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup Medjool dates
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp agave

All this is processed one ingredient at a time in the food processor.  We discovered that walnuts are very oily and needed to counteract that so we added enough almond flour to dry it up and give it a better texture.  For the filling we used Ani’s original recipe:

  • 2 cups fruit (Gina chose lemons)
  • 1/2 cup agave

Whizzed up in the blender.  Once again our sauce was too liquid, not like a cake filling at all.  So we added psyllium till the texture was more like a pudding.  One of the cool things about psyllium is that it is great for the digestive tract and is used in the medical industry as fiber for the GI tract.  We added whole raspberries to the sauce and sprinkled the top with shredded coconut.  Super Yum for my beautiful friend on her birthday!

 

Where do you get berries in Northwest Arkansas?

Strawberry cake for another day
Strawberry cake for another day

As an add on to this tribute to berries, a friend of our family’s whom we have known for years came by the other day and brought us Black Raspberries (yes, that’s a thing).  She said the birds planted them in her yard.  How cool is that?

Black Raspberries from a Good Friend
Black Raspberries from a Good Friend

Wendy Finn is the mother of 4 boys, owner of I.M. Spa, a Raw Food Enthusiast and educator, a world traveler in pursuit of superior massage education, a Master Massage Therapist of 20 plus years, a gardener, and a nursing student.  She’s passionate about touching people and sharing health.  Schedule an appointment for a massage  479-251-7422

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Life Alive Warm Bowl

The Most Important Decision You Make Every Day

The most important decision that you make every day is what you decide to put in your body.

Your food has the power to transform your physiology, your health, your local economy, our medical institutions, and our environment.

What you choose to put in your body determines your energy level, your ability to do the things you want to do, and the length and quality of your life here on the planet.

Wendy Finn is the mother of 4 boys, owner of I.M. Spa, a Raw Food Enthusiast and educator, a world traveler in pursuit of superior massage education, a Master Massage Therapist of 20 plus years, a gardener, and a nursing student.  She’s passionate about touching people and sharing health.  Schedule an appointment for a massage  479-251-7422

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Eat Your Colors

Lower Cholesterol with Raw Vegan Food

my bag of goodies
Bag of Veggies from Farmer’s Market

I always knew from other people’s stories, as well as from my textbooks on pathophysiology, that raw and vegan food could lower your cholesterol and decrease your risk of heart disease.  This summer Craig, my husband, was donating plasma when his blood clogged up the machine with lipids (fats).  Too many of them.  So he went to the VA hospital and asked them to analyze his blood.  This is what they found:

Before Raw Food

Initial Results

Normal Range

Total Cholesterol

243

118-200

Triglycerides

118

<=200

HDL Cholesterol

71

>=40

LDL Cholesterol
148
<100

The reason I put the LDL Cholesterol in red is because it’s the “bad cholesterol” that is supposed to be less than 100.  It’s bad because it can clog arteries and, according to the Mayo Clinic, “dramatically increases your chance of developing heart disease and having a heart attack.”  They say it is also the “main way you can lower your risk of heart disease.”  Craig’s LDLs were high at 148.

Red Bell Peppers
Red Bell Peppers

I’ve been eating mostly raw vegan food for over 3 years now, and what propelled me there was my own deadly food allergies.  My family eats mostly  raw vegan too.  They have to.  There is nothing else in the house.  What Craig was eating when he was home was clean burning fuel, but what he was eating when he was out and about was undermining what he was eating at home.

He decided to get serious about what he was putting in his body.  Brutal honesty.  No more pizza on the fly, muffins on campus, creamy coffee,  Thai food sauces with coconut milk, or fast food breakfast sandwiches.  He started packing Green Smoothies, raw cashew dip with veggies, and fruits for lunches and snacks.  He refused to eat anything with meat, cheese, eggs, or oils it in.  We do still cook rice and vegetables, or baked squash, and other vegan dishes at home.  And we haven’t had bread in the house since I went raw three years ago, so it just wasn’t an option.

4 months later this is the result:

Craig’s Transition to Raw Vegan Food

Initial Results

Normal Range

4 Months Later on Raw and Vegan Food

Total Cholesterol

243

118-200

196

Triglycerides

118

<=200

89

HDL Cholesterol

71

>=40

61

LDL Cholesterol
148
<100
117

Take a minute to really look at that graph because it is a really big deal.  His LDLs dropped 31 points in 4 months time.  With raw vegan food.  Nothing more, nothing less.

When the nurse at the VA looked at his numbers she said, “Did the doctor put you on a statin?”

A ‘statin’ medication is a drug that inhibits the production of cholesterol (fats/lipids) in the liver.  They are very effective at getting your lipid levels down if you have high lipid levels like Craig did.  The doctor did not put Craig on a statin.  Craig put himself on a vegan diet.  He got brutally honest about what he was eating and changed it. That’s impressive.

Those numbers are impressive.

Beautiful Kale
Beautiful Kale

He rides his bike several times a week, and rides it up to Bentonville and back at least once a week (60 miles round trip) whether it’s 15 degrees out or 60.  His blood pressure is still high at 130-140/70, so we’re planning on getting a meditation routine going together, and looking at other strategies as well.  We’ll let you know how it goes.

Craig is still trying to change his food ratio even more.  He wants to get those LDLs down under 100.

One of the things I tell people when they are trying to transition to raw or vegan food and away from bread, meat, and cheese, is to allow yourself to eat lots of nuts, seeds, and avocados to get that full feeling that you are used to.  Once your body adjusts to clean burning fuel you can think about changing your ratios to more veggies and less nuts.  That’s where he is now.

It’s so much fun watching him go through this transition.  Now he says things that I’ve been saying for a while that you can’t relate to unless you have done it.  Things like, “that cooked oil smells gross,” and “I feel so light now when I’m riding/running.  Before I transitioned I felt so heavy.  It’s like I was fighting my body to get it to move.  Now when I exercise I feel like I could fly.”

Garlic

About a week after Craig found out how great his lipid levels are now he got a phone call from a friend in the hospital who had just suffered a heart attack.  He was 48 years old.  We’re 44.  Our own mortality is staring us in the face.

I have high hopes for Craig’s health.  He’s doing an amazing job at making this change, and I hope that we will continue to see his lipid numbers, and his blood pressure numbers improve.  We’re only a few months into this particular science experiment, but the prognosis is good.

Wendy Finn is the mother of 4 boys, owner of I.M. Spa, a Raw Food Enthusiast and educator, a world traveler in pursuit of superior massage education, a Master Massage Therapist of 20 plus years, a gardener, and a nursing student.  She’s passionate about touching people and sharing health.  Schedule an appointment 479-251-7422

 

 

 

 

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You Can’t Lie to Heart Disease

You can’t lie to Heart Disease.

My husband Craig wasn’t feeling very good and was donating plasma to help with his tuition when the phlebotomist turned him away on 3 separate occasions because of high lipid levels in the plasma.

They didn’t say to him, “Hmm, maybe you should go get that checked.  That’s a lot of fat in the plasma.”  Craig took it upon himself to get it checked at the doctor.

His LDLs, the low density lipoproteins that are supposed to be under 100, were up to 148.  This is not a good thing for him.

How Atherosclerosis Happens
How Atherosclerosis Happens

LDLs are the ‘bad fats’ that clog up arteries and lead to atherosclerosis, which can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.

Craig’s doctor told him that day that he needed to start taking Lipitor to manage those fats.

The doctor didn’t say, “Hmm, your LDLs are really high.  That can lead to atherosclerosis, which can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.  Obviously we need to get the fat content in your blood down and the best way to do that is with food.  Here are some resources for how to do that.  You also need regular exercise, here are some resources for that.  If your LDLs are still high after this many weeks, we can consider Lipitor.  But you should know that any time you take a medication there are side effects and it’s in your best interest to fix this with diet and exercise now while you can still fix it because heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. and you don’t want to be one of that number.”

If Craig was anybody other than who he is, he would have come away from that doctor’s visit feeling like a victim, like something horrible was happening (and it is), but that it was out of his control.  He would have gone down the path of medication and becoming his disease.  He would have continued to put trashy food in his body and feel like there was nothing he could do about his condition which would inevitably decline.  He would have told his friends that his doctor told him he had to be on lipitor and wasn’t that terrible?  Part of getting older (shrug).

But Craig has been married to me for 25 years.  And I’m weird.  In a good way, but weird in that what I’m doing with my food trip is totally not mainstream.  Basically I’m an omnivore with strong raw food tendencies, such that 80 to 90% of my intake is raw vegan goodness.  My kids don’t know what a Happy Meal is.  Craig has watched me get my wakeup call to change my relationship with food because of my anaphylactic allergies.

He sees me living it, hears me talking it, watches me eat, sleep, and breathe real live raw food.  Sometimes he eats it.  But obviously not always.  So when he got the wakeup call at the doctor’s office about his LDL count he refused the lipitor and started doing more grocery shopping for himself.  He’s walking 5 miles to the bus stop every day for exercise, and I’ve been seeing him making green smoothies and veggies more than his comfortable nut and seed mix.

He says he was grabbing convenience foods when he was at class and away from home.  Pizzas, sugary muffins, fast food.  You can lie to yourself and the people around you, but your body is not nearly as forgiving.

It will be interesting to see how fast he can get that number down and how his weight will change in the process because right now he has a good heft around his midsection, another risk factor for heart disease.

In the meantime, my entrepreneurial head is wondering how to incentivize doctors to educate and empower their patients (as if getting healthy wasn’t a good enough motivator).  Surely there is a business model that can provide an alternative to enabling patients and our addictive bad eating habits.

Wendy Finn is the mother of 4 boys, owner of I.M. Spa, a Raw Food Enthusiast and educator, a world traveler in pursuit of superior massage education, a Master Massage Therapist of 20 plus years, a gardener, and a nursing student.  She’s passionate about touching people and sharing health.

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2 Things to Prevent or Treat Type 2 Diabetes

It’s 11 o’clock at night.  Yes, I’m studying again.  2 weeks left in this semester of Pathophysiology and we’re studying how to prevent or treat Type 2 Diabetes.

My pathophysiology bible says “25.8 million people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with Diabetes, another estimated 7 million are undiagnosed,” and “diabetes costs us $174 billion a year.”  To put that in a little better perspective it helps to know that there are 313 million people in the U.S., so roughly 1/3 have diabetes.

Holy canoli!  That is amazing.

Later in the book it states that it’s best to “prevent and treat Type 2 Diabetes with dietary measures and exercise.  Resulting weight loss causes an improved glucose tolerance.”

I wonder what it would be like to be Type 2 Diabetic and go to the doctor.  Do they prescribe diets and exercise?  Is there a place patients go several times a week, the way you would go to the physical therapist, to learn how to change your food habits?  Maybe there is a live-in retreat where you can go for immersion training to develop a healthier lifestyle until you have enough knowledge and practice to be on your own.  Maybe there is a home health nurse or dietician who goes food shopping with you to help you learn how to make healthier meal plans.

Surely that is something that could be prescribed.  Surely insurance would pay for that.  Or maybe that is not included in the $176 billion cost.

Sheesh!  I would totally love being a nurse in that kind of setting.

Is there something like that out there?

Wendy Finn is the mother of 4 boys, owner of I.M. Spa, a Raw Food Enthusiast and educator, a world traveler in pursuit of superior massage education, a Master Massage Therapist of 20 plus years, a gardener, and a nursing student.  She’s passionate about touching people and sharing health.

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Keep on Strolling-Junk Food and What is Normal in our Culture

Made it through the first round of tests at school with all A’s but one B (88% bah!).  I’ve got all my business taxes taken care of and just need to finish my personal taxes.  The spa is trucking right along.  We made it through an amazingly busy Valentine’s week and had the biggest grossing day in the history of the business.  (I think everybody getting released from the ice and snow helped push that along).  I did 22 massages that week and it was the week I had 3 tests.

9 more days till March and about 2 and a half months till final exams.

With the weather change I’ve been able to run everywhere with my stroller.  Today I had to eat at the Union because I didn’t pack enough food and a woman stopped me before I could get out because she wanted to ‘see the baby.’

There is no baby.  Yes I push a jogging stroller everywhere I go, and the baby is my baccalaureate of science in nursing.  So if you see me in public, I’m the weird lady pushing a stroller full of business clothes, computer, school books, and raw food.  Cuz when I leave the house in the morning I have many hats to wear, and they all gotta come with me.

Zachary got his braces off this week.  He’s so happy.  And his teeth are so straight.  While I was waiting for him to get done with his 2 hour appointment, I watched Khan Academy videos about Metabolism and tried not to fall asleep.  When Zach came out he had a bag of ‘goodies’ for doing such a great job.  In the bag?  Candy.  Tons of Candy.

Yes, I was speechless.  No, I don’t want to be the food Nazi, but seriously?  The reward for getting your braces off is that you are now free to destroy your health as efficiently as possible.  Congratulations.  No thank you.

I took Zach to Penguin Ed’s, a local restaurant, for one of their homemade cookies as a consolation prize for giving all the junk food back to the Orthodontist.

I think I will forever be known as the weird unstable mom in that office whenever I go back again.

It’s very surreal living in this culture, knowing what I know about food and clean burning fuel for my body, and jogging with my weird jogging stroller past these ‘normal’ stores that probably don’t have one piece of fresh, real food in them, but are filled with snickers bars, cheetos, m&ms, kellogg’s nutri grain bars, etc. etc.  Walls full of garbage, stores full of poisonous fake food.  It’s surreal living in a culture where it is normal to reward kids, actually today one of my teachers actually rewarded our class–a class of adults, with candy.  It’s surreal living in a culture where I feel strange drinking strawberry, banana, coconut oil, cashew, and dates out of a mason jar, but I would feel ‘normal’ if I had a throw away Starbucks cup and a Snickers.

Wow, I had no idea that huge soap box was just going to jump right out on the page, but there it is.

Keep on strolling.

Wendy Finn is the mother of 4 boys, owner of I.M. Spa, a Raw Food Enthusiast and educator, a world traveler in pursuit of superior massage education, a Master Massage Therapist of 20 plus years, a gardener, and a nursing student.  She’s passionate about touching people and sharing health.

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We’re All Addicts

Addict-1.  to cause to become physiologically or psychologically dependent on a habit forming substance.  2.  To occupy (oneself) with or involve (oneself) in something habitually or compulsively. From the freedictionary.com.

Two weeks ago in Sunday school for the teen group, one of the youth leaders, Hershey Garner said, “We are all addicts.”  I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.  It’s so true.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s heroin overdose this week is another tragic reminder of how hard it is to be in a body on the planet.  For me it is crucial not to look at Phillip Seymour Hoffman from the outside and say, ‘sucks for him.’  It sucks for all of us.  For me it’s crucial that I recognize that I’m no different than him.  No, I’m not a heroin addict, thank God, but I’m a human in a body, dealing with addiction.  We all are.

Whether it’s shopping, eating, working, gambling, alcohol, drugs, drama, or (here’s a good one) the way we repeat our behaviors in relationship, we’re all addicts.

I don’t watch much TV, so  I’m not familiar with Russell Brand’s work.  But I did see a piece he wrote about addiction that was spot on.  I love that the answer, at the end of the piece, his salvation, is another addict.  We’re all addicts.

Another TV reference I’m more familiar with, I have been known to stay up late and watch him because he makes me laugh out loud, is Craig Ferguson.  Craig did a monologue one night about alcohol addiction that is so brutally honest and fabulous.  He speaks as Russell did about the daily life long vigilance it takes to remain substance free.

These are men who see their addiction for what it is and are hitting it head on.

Today in my twitter feed I saw this article from Good Morning America referring to the “biggest study of its kind,” a study linking sugar intake to heart fatalities.  My first reaction was indignation (my own compulsive behavior at work).  ‘How many studies do they have to do to prove this?  Seriously?’  That’s what was happening in my brain.  We have huge buildings across the country filled with poison labeled as food (grocery stores).  In particular I’m fascinated with gas station ‘foods.’  Skittles, M&Ms, Doritos, doughnuts, hot dogs, corn dogs, pizza.  It’s enough to send a raw food gal into post traumatic stress disorder.  And still we have to have more studies to show that it’s causing heart fatalities?

We have a whole country full of nonfood disguised as food, and hospitals full of sickness as a result of nonfood ingestion, so it’s good we have people doing these studies to keep drawing awareness to our food (or nonfood as the case may be) addictions.  According to the Center for Disease Control heart disease is THE LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH  in the United States.  Hopefully more and more of us will see our addiction for what it is, like Ferguson and Brand, hit it head on, and reclaim our lives.  We are all addicts.

Wendy Finn is the mother of 4 boys, owner of I.M. Spa, a Raw Food Enthusiast and educator, a world traveler in pursuit of superior massage education, a Master Massage Therapist of 20 plus years, a gardener, and a nursing student.  She’s passionate about touching people and sharing health.

 

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15 Things to do Before a School Day in January

What I did before school today mom!

  1. made oatmeal for breakfast and woke the kids up
  2. made raw marinara and spiralized zucchini pasta for kids (and parents’ lunches)
  3. made strawberry banana smoothie for lunch snacks
  4. let Sean, my 15 year old, drive himself and Ben, my 8 year old, to school (I still get to be in the passenger seat).
  5. printed out W2s
  6. printed payroll checks
  7. paid mortgage, AMTA membership, spa rent, postage stamps, and other bills
  8. updated quickbooks files
  9. dropped off payroll checks at work
  10. ran by the bank
  11. printed W3, 1099s, and 1096
  12. moved 2 dental appointments
  13. gathered end of year tax documents (inventory, accounts receivable, etc)
  14. made and ate guacamole
  15. studied statistics for school
  16. Caught the bus to the University at 1–in class till 6.
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Raw Pumpkin Chili Recipe

Pumpkins are huge.  Big cheap food.  Loaded with good stuff.

Beta carotenes, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, folic acid.  All that blood building, cancer fighting goodness.

I bought a ginormous pumpkin to play with for $5.  Raw pumpkin pie, pumpkin smoothie, and this amazing pumpkin chili.  I had no idea that you could make chili with pumpkin.  But it’s 40 degrees outside today and this pumpkin chili is warming me up from the inside.

5 cups pumpkin

2tsp cumin

1 tsp oregano

2 Tbl Chili Powder

1 tsp onion powder

2 cloves garlic

1/2 onion

1 thai chili

1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes

2 stalks celery

Blend it in the blender till it’s nice and warm, adding water as necessary to get the right consistency.  When it’s smooth and warm, add fresh corn for texture and cooling effect.  It’s pretty spicy!

 

 

 

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