Love Matters When … You Give of Yourself

What’s Love Got To Do With It? During the month of February, we are going over all the reasons love actually DOES have something to do with your emotional, physical, and social health.

Scientists have coined the term “the helpers high” to describe the endorphins released into the brain when one performs an altruistic act. In fact, when we give of ourselves, our physiology benefits in many important ways.

Altruistic acts of kindness are associated with lower blood pressure and cortisol, which is the major stress hormone in the body. It has also been shown to increase self-esteem and lessen depression. Even a small act of kindness helps create a happy heart (and a happy heart is a healthy heart)!

In our company, one year we gave everyone $100. I told them to find something to do with that $100 that would make a difference in someone’s life. The acts that were chosen by the employees were fantastic, and really helped out others around them in many ways. But I have to say that the difference it made for them was amazing as well.

The positive impact of giving extends to volunteering as well. Social scientists have studied volunteering activities and found that they’re associated with stronger community bonds, less social isolation, better self-esteem and an improved sense of purpose. This may be why volunteering is also associated with lowers rates of heart disease and depression, and an improved immune system.

I’m not sure anyone has studied what would happen if a person decided to give, but did so for purely selfish reasons. For example, what if a person decided that they wanted a healthier body and thought that doing good for others would get them there — the equivalent of someone wanting to be fit, and so going to the gym to plod on the treadmill even though  they didn’t like it at all.

Even without a research study, I believe you would not get the same effect at all. It is not the external act of giving that matters, but the internal expression of love and caring that is so powerful for our body, mind, and spirit.

 

Greek Lemon Soup

When down with a cold, this is a great soup to make for them. But it’s also delicious as a side of starter to a meal too!

You Need :

  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • ¼ cup to ½ cup rice
  • 3 eggs
  • Juice from one lemon

Directions

  • Bring broth to a boil and then add ¼ to ½ cup rice.
  • Cook on simmer for 25 minutes.
  • In a separate bowl beat 3 eggs and mix in the lemon juice.
  • When broth is done simmering, add 1 cup of the broth to the beaten eggs and lemon juice mixture and mix.
  • Next add it all back into the pot cook for 4 minutes and then it is ready.
 

 

Tuscan Bean Soup

This is a delightful soup that incorporates beans into the diet and the leftovers taste even better.

You’ll Need

  • 2 slices bacon, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 stalk of celery, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 2 cups water (more if needed)
  • 2 cups navy beans, cooked (save bean juice)
  • 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ pound elbow macaroni or Arborio rice
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan or Asiago cheese

Directions

  • In large pot, cook the bacon until crisp.
  • Pour off the fat and add olive oil and cook the carrot, celery and onion until slightly soft.
  • Stir in flour and tomato paste.
  • Add beef broth, bean juice/water, rosemary, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper.
  • Simmer slowly until the vegetables are tender, adding water as needed.
  • Add macaroni and cook until tender, stirring frequently, as it sinks and sticks.
  • Add water, if needed.
  • Add the beans and heat through.
  • Taste for adequate seasoning.
  • If soup is not thick, puree one third of it and return the puree to the pot.
  • Serve soup with a bowl of grated cheese.

Love Matters For … Your Own Health

What’s Love Got To Do With It? During the month of February, we are going over all the reasons love actually DOES have something to do with your emotional, physical, and social health.

The airplane attendant always tells you: in the event of a loss of cabin pressure, put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping others. The first time I heard this, my immediate reaction was to think, “Well, that’s a little selfish don’t you think”?

This is exactly how many people think about helping others – even when a plane is NOT in trouble!

That is, taking time for yourself seems a little selfish when you could be doing something for someone else. As you take a leisurely walk with friends, a long soaking bath, or just a few moments of peace alone with your thoughts, you may think that this it is so self-indulgent.

But the truth is that you are better able to help others when you have taken care of yourself already. If you are over-tired, over-stressed, or over-burdened by taking too much onto yourself, your decision making will be poorer. Your energy level will be less. And your attention will not be as good as it could be.

This lowered ability isn’t about you, your effort, or even how hard you try. It is about biology. When you are rested and relaxed, your body responds better and you will be more efficient at whatever you’re doing. It’s that simple.

So the first step to taking care of others is to do so for yourself.

 

 

Herbed Goat Cheese Dip

An appetizer that  allows you to get creative with food presentation.

Makes About 1 1/2 Cups

You’ll Need

  • 8 ounces goat cheese
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • Sundried tomato for garnish

Directions

  • Process goat cheese, oil and yogurt in a food processor until smooth.
  • Transfer to medium bowl.
  • Mix in all herbs and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Chill at least an hour before serving.
  • Garnish with some of the left over green herbs and a diced sun-dried tomato
  • Serve alongside crackers or veggie slices

Beans and Greens

 Known as poor man’s food in Italy, yet this meal is fit to serve a king!

You’ll Need

  • 4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 can or 2 cups cooked cannellini beans (reserving 1/3 cup liquid)
  • 1 ½ pounds of chopped kale
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions

  • In a medium pot, sauté sliced garlic and red pepper flakes in oil on low heat until the garlic starts to brown.
  • Add the beans including the liquid.
  • Add the chopped kale and simmer until they’re cooked but still firm.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • If you would like it to be a bit more like a soup you can add some additional water.
  • Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil on the top of each bowl and serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
  • Serve with a nice piece of bread. Enjoy!

 

Smoked Salmon Pasta

Salmon is a good source of omega 3 fatty acids which aid in cholesterol control and overall heart health.

You’ll Need

  • 8 ounce smoked salmon
  • 1/2 cup sundried tomatoes
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cups green beans or chopped broccoli
  • 1/2 pound pasta, cooked
  • Capers, optional
  • Salt and pepper

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Love matters for … your activity levels

What’s Love Got To Do With It? During the month of February, we are going over all the reasons love actually DOES have something to do with your emotional, physical, and social health.

THE LOVE OF MOVEMENT

How did our culture decide that being active requires a shirt that says, “No Pain, No Gain.” How did we decide that if it hurts and your thighs burn and your side is splitting that you’re doing it right.

No healthy culture does this. In fact, most cultures simply move more through the day, doing activities they enjoy. They walk with friends, ride bikes, swim, play ball with their mates, or play with their kids.

Does this mean you shouldn’t go to the gym? Not at all! If you love the exertion of it, then it’s perfect for you. If you do not, it’s not! And many gyms have now incorporated a broader range of activities like yoga, team sports, biking groups etc.

The key is to find the activity you love, then do that. If you hate that activity, you’ll be less likely to follow through. But also, schlogging through a workout you hate can contribute to a stress response that can partially counteract the effect of the activity in the first place! In other words, doing an activity that you don’t like makes it even harder to get the benefits of exercise.

So find what you love and do that. Not only is it more enjoyable, it also puts your body’s internal state in a better position to take advantage of it!