Top 5 Stress-Free Stress-Relieving Foods

To all of you workaholics: stress is not a good thing. In fact, stress is one of the leading causes of both minor illnesses and chronic disease. But before you start stressing about your stress, know that there is a simple way to fight it each and every day.

By introducing and regularly including the following five foods into your diet, you will be fueling your body to fight unnecessary anxiety. The best part is that you don’t have to stress about eating stress-free! Most of these foods are grab-on-the-go, affordable, and guilt-free.

1. Almonds

Almonds are nature’s potato chips. But instead of being loaded with saturated fat and a lifetime’s recommendation of salt, these crunchy treats are packed with vitamin E (for powering your immune system), vitamin B2 (for combating bad moods), zinc, magnesium, and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. As almonds are high in fat (though healthy unsaturated fats), try to stick to a ¼ cup serving per day. If you pack a PB&J for lunch every day, why not switch to almond butter on your favorite sandwich. An excellent choice is Trader Joe’s preservative-free Almond Butter with Roasted Flax Seeds. The added bonus: the fatty acids in flax seeds can assist with reducing depression.

2. Blueberries

Ever heard about good things coming in small packages? Blueberries are no exception to the rule. In addition to being rich in stress-fighting antioxidants and energizing vitamin C, the high-fiber content of blueberries can assist with stress-induced cramps and constipation.

3. Avocados

Is your weakness after a rough day at work Ben and Jerry’s ice cream? Unfortunately, after polishing off a pint, you may instantly crash from the high sugar content and become even more stressed about the calories. Sorry ladies, stress isn’t like a new boyfriend; you can’t get over one with another. Next time you need that creamy, fatty texture reach for a deliciously ripe avocado. An average avocado offers more depression-fighting potassium than a medium-sized banana. The vitamin B6 found in avocados can alleviate PMS symptoms, and vitamins A and E keep your skin clear – talk about stress relief!

4. Complex Carbohydrates

Like exercise and dark chocolate, carbohydrates release serotonin, the happy hormone. Complex carbohydrates, like wheat pasta, brown rice, and high fiber oatmeal, are absorbed more slowly in your system than simple carbs, such as white bread, sugary cereals, and the processed stuff that only comes to life in the microwave. Since complex carbs take longer to digest, the serotonin lasts longer in your system. If you have trouble sleeping, a small portion of complex carbs can ease you right to sleep – just don’t overdo it, as a belly full of sugar can keep you up even longer. For quick fixes, author of Food & Mood, Elizabeth Somer, MA, RD, suggests adding a swirl of jam to your 100% whole wheat bread.

5. Because sometimes being healthy just isn’t enough…

Yes, being healthy is your best option, but it isn’t necessarily the option you’re always going to choose. Whether it’s fast food delivery, gummy peaches, a whole bag of pita chips, or frosting from a jar, sometimes you just have to give in to the urge to splurge. While this list could have included fish, bananas, beef, or dairy as top 5 stress relieving foods (which they all are), not worrying too much about the way you eat or the occasional splurge is the best stress relief you can give yourself. Sesame chicken, anyone?

It is strawberry season, and what better way to enjoy fresh berries than in a cool, refreshing smoothie to beat the heat!

Strawberry Bliss Smoothie

Ingredients

1 cup frozen sliced strawberries

1/2 cup Apple NESTLÉ JUICY JUICE All Natural 100% Juice

1/4 cup Coffee-Mate Natural Bliss Low-fat Vanilla

Preparation

PLACE strawberries, Juicy Juice and Natural Bliss in blender; cover. Blend until smooth.

*Recipe and image courtesy of Coffee-Mate Natural Bliss.*

How Students Can Stay Green in College

Although the spring semester is almost over, it’s never too late to start thinking up ways to make your life on campus a little better for the environment. In fact, with finals over you’ll have some time on your hands to plan for your eco-friendly return in the fall. You may not have access to all of the same amenities you enjoy at home (like your mom’s organic vegetable garden, solar panels, a pick-up recycling service, or your family’s electric car), but there is actually a lot you can do to reduce your carbon footprint on campus.

Here are just a few ways to employ the 3 Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) while you’re working towards your own bright future.

1. Hike, bike, and bus. One of the easiest ways for most college students to save the environment along with a little money is to eschew the use of a personal vehicle. Yes, a car is a symbol of freedom and it can be quite convenient. But the truth is that most college students can’t really afford all of the expenses that come with a car anyway (insurance, registration, gas, parking, etc.). And whether you live on campus or nearby, you’re likely close enough that you rarely have use for a vehicle anyway. Plus, most campuses offer some kind of discount on bus passes, which are likely a lot less expensive than keeping a car in any case. By making the decision to non-op your car, leave it at home, and walk, bike, or ride the bus, you’ll make a big difference for both your budget and the environment.

2. Conserve. There are so many ways you can conserve, even when you don’t have access to low-flow toilets and alternative energy. For example, you can wait until you have a full load of laundry to run the washer and then use only cold water. You can get long-lasting, low-energy CFLs for your dorm room and use natural light as much as possible. And you can turn off the AC unit and electronics when you’re not in the room.

3. Recycle. Nearly every college campus has instituted some type of recycling program so that all you have to do is take the cans and bottles that build up in your room to a designated drop-box in order to ensure that they don’t clutter up the landfill. However, there are other ways to recycle, as well. For example, when getting rid of clothing of furniture you can donate to a charitable organization (like Goodwill), or if you’re dumping electronics that no longer work you can contact the local trash company about dropping off hazardous materials for free.

4. Ask for organics. The campus cafeteria may not offer organic or local options, but that doesn’t mean you can’t request them. With enough student signatures on a petition you can get the attention of the administration, and if you do the research and present them with locally-sourced, organic options and ways to save money on these items, you might actually do something good for your college and the Earth at the same time.

5. Start a community garden. If you simply can’t get the organic foods you want on campus, think about organizing a community garden. You don’t have to pursue an MSW online in order to help others in your community, and by starting such a project you can bring students together to do something that is good for them and the environment, as well as involving the campus in an outreach project that could have resounding positive ramifications.

Crispy Black Bass with Sweet Corn Relish

Ingredients

1 2 lb black sea bass
2 large porcini mushrooms, sliced thickly
4 ears sweet corn
1 sweet onion, thickly sliced and grilled
1 T Preserved lemons, skin only, small diced
1 Jalapeno, diced
2 T Chives, chopped
Extra virgin olive oil

When cooking fish and other seafood, make sure your grill is very hot. It’s also good to lightly spray the grill with a cooking spray or lightly rub the grates with olive oil. When the grill is hot, place the whole fish on the grill and cook for 8-10 minutes. Carefully flip the fish only once while it is on the grill.

Sweet Corn Relish

Cut the porcini mushrooms into thick slices, about 1/4 inch in size and place on the grill, being careful they don’t slip through the grates. Place the 4 ears of corn on the grill and cook for 3-4 minutes. Cook sweet onion slices on the grill for 4-5 minutes, or until browned. Remove the mushrooms, onion and corn from the grill. Using a knife, cut the kernels of corn from the cob into a mixing bowl. Dice porcini mushrooms and onion, and add to bowl. Combine the rest of the ingredients into the mixing bowl, adding the extra virgin olive oil last. Spoon the relish over the cooked fish.

*Recipe courtesy of healthination.com. Image: Phaitoon / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

Why You Should Send Your Kids to Eco-Camp This Summer

Summer is nearly upon us, and if you have yet to consider which camp you’ll send your kids to this year you’re a little late to the game. If you never attended camp as a child, then you lack have the fond memories that endear many parents to a particular locale and prompt them to send their kids there. So you might be swimming through a sea of summer camp brochures that all look the same. How do you choose? One great way is to pick a feature that interests you as a way to narrow down the options. And by considering only eco-friendly summer camps you can seriously slash the length of your list and ensure that your child goes to a camp that offers more than just the opportunity to swim and pull pranks on other cabins. Here are a few great reasons to choose a green summer camp for your kids.

For starters, there are more of these camps out there than you might imagine, and there’s bound to be one relatively near your home, so it’s not like you have to ship the kids halfway across the country to give them the green camp experience. Even amongst eco-friendly establishments there is a lot of variation, with some offering lessons in sustainability while others tout the humane treatment of animals. So if there are certain lessons you want your kids to learn along the lines of environmental friendliness, you won’t have to settle for something that they are already learning adequately at home.

But what are the real benefits of choosing an eco-friendly camp over other types? For one thing, it could give your kids an experience that they won’t find anywhere else. Sure, your school district has a recycling program in place, and they may even source local farms for fresh food in the cafeteria, but are they teaching your children about the value of organic goods? Do they realize what happens to a can or bottle if they throw it in the trash instead of the recycling bin? Without the education to accompany these initiatives there’s really no call for kids to develop an awareness of their own role in a society that creates rampant pollution and waste. These are things they can learn at a camp run on eco-friendly principles.

Of course, in addition to real-world instruction that they can bring home and use throughout the rest of the year (and their lives), you’ll almost certainly be sending them to a healthy environment, in every sense of the word. And they’ll obtain the knowledge and skills to make eco-friendly changes in their lives and their communities when they return. Bike Camp in Oregon, for example, gets kids out in the world and exercising by teaching them to safely ride and repair their bicycles. Camp Ecology in Colorado uses the abundant natural environment of Aspen to teach kids why and how to protect natural resources. And the Longacre Leadership Program in Pennsylvania helps kids to develop a community spirit and environmentally sound sensibilities as they spend the summer working together on a 200-acre organic farm (it’s almost as good as a masters in strategic leadership with an emphasis on sustainability).

Those are just a few of the possibilities when you seek an eco-friendly summer camp for your kids. The point is that there are many options to explore when it comes to giving your kids the opportunity to expand their horizons at a summer camp. And if they learn to appreciate the environment in the process, so much the better for the future of our planet.

Good Earth’s Sweet & Spicy Iced Tea is a uniquely-flavored tea that tastes sweet without the need to add sugar or artificial sweeteners and with no artificial sweeteners in the blend. With its flavorful blend of cinnamon, orange, anise seed, ginger root and other spices, it tastes great iced and will provide a refreshing, sweet alternative for health-conscious barbeque guests. “Mom” placed cinnamon sticks and orange slices in the pitcher for serving, as well!

Sweet & Spicy Iced Tea

Ingredients

4-6 Good Earth Sweet & Spicy Tea Bags

Preparation

Boil two cups of water, pour over 4-6 Good Earth Sweet & Spicy tea bags (either regular or caffeine free), and steep for 5-10 minutes.

Stir, remove tea bags, add two cups of cold water, and serve over ice. Enjoy!

*Recipe and image courtesy of Good Earth.*

Eco Friendly Travel Tips That Also Save You Money

Yep. It’s that time of year again. The time of year when people are booking flights and renting cars so that they can take a much needed vacation, yet no matter what mode of transportation you choose, it’s gonna be a bit pricey this year due to the (will it ever end?) rise in gas prices.

There are some ways that you can save a few dollars while on your travels, though. The added bonus is that the following tips are also eco-friendly. So, not only are you sparing a few trees by not spending so much money, but you’re also doing the environment a favor by cutting down on the use of your resources.

Do you want to know how to make that happen? Check out these ideas below.

Think about your mode of transportation. Now, more than ever, flying is more about convenience. So, if you’ve got a week to spend time in a place that’s over a thousand miles away, flying might be the best route to take. Make sure that you shop for special deals (that’s what HotWire, Orbitz and Expedia are for) and when it’s time to get your ticket, request an e-ticket rather than a paper one. If you’re going to rent a car, there are more rental companies with hybrids available (Enterprise and Budget are two of them). It may cost a bit more to rent the car itself, but with what you save not having to fill up at the gas station, it’s still well worth it.

Pack wisely. There are a lot of tips for this one. First, make sure that you use refillable bottles for your toiletries; there’s no sense in bringing full bottles of things like shampoo along. If you’re leaving for 10 days, you probably only need a couple of pair of jeans because you can interchange them with several outfits. In other words, don’t pack excessively. Make sure to bring along a reusable bag in case you plan on shopping for souvenirs so that you’re not wasting any paper or plastic shopping bags. Take a recyclable water bottle in case you’re thirsty at any time. It’s a lot cheaper and better for the environment than buying bottled water. Oh, and be sure to use a digital camera rather than a disposable one; mostly because a digital camera is one that you can use over and over again.

Prepare to go. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, right? Even before you leave the house, there are some things that you can do to cut down on electricity. Be sure to turn down your thermostat, unplug any appliances that don’t need to be in use while you’re away (ones that would are the refrigerator, for instance), turn down your water heater and make sure to turn off most of the lights (other the porch and a living room lamp) in the house.

Take a travel lunch. Even though lunch is no longer served on airplanes, if you’re hungry, there may still be the temptation to purchase a meal at the airport and that can be extremely expensive. Whether you’re traveling by air or land, you can save good money by preparing a lunch ahead of time filled with organic goodies like nuts, fruit and veggies.

Research where you’ll be staying. These days, there are eco-friendly hotels and restaurants in virtually every city. Therefore, make sure to do your research ahead of time. The great thing about “window shopping” online is that there are even places that will offer online private tours to help you in making your selection. Just remember that wherever you end up to use the same rules that you would at home when it comes to electricity and water usage. And be sure to ask if there are recycling bins where you’re staying, too!

An unusual combination of peaches, red onions, burrata cheese, and greens make this salad a fresh, summery salad that is perfect for entertaining!

Grilled Peach Salad with a Honey-Lemon Vinaigrette and Burrata

Ingredients

Zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper
4 peaches, halved and pit discarded
1 red onion, root left intact, peeled and quartered (optional)
8 cups mixed salad greens
2 large balls fresh burrata cheese (or ricotta cheese)

Preparation

In a small bowl, whisk together the zest, juice, vinegar, honey and olive oil until combined. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat gas grill to medium-low heat. Brush grates with oil. Toss peaches and onions, if using, with 2 tablespoons dressing. Grill skin side down until nicely charred, about 5-7 minutes, flip and grill the opposite side until nice grill marks form, about 2 minutes.

To serve, carefully halve burrata balls being sure to maintain the filling. Place cheese, peaches and onions over salad greens and drizzle with remaining dressing.

*Recipe and image courtesy of The Three Kitcheneers.*

Staying Green While Relocating Your Home

It doesn’t matter if you’re moving across town or packing your belongings to haul them to another state, relocating is one of life’s major stressors. There are endless things to do and never enough time to get them all done. The Zen-like approach you usually have to life is quickly tested. From packing the plates and boxing the books to changing your address and sorting out bill payments, chances are doing all these errands in an eco-friendly manner is the farthest thing from your mind. However, with a few simple adjustments and a little pre-planning you can turn your relocation into display of green activism.

Less Gas and a Minimal Carbon Footprint

In the old days, post-college and pre-family, you probably did a fair amount of apartment hopping. You would pack up the old Subaru until it wheezed and the tailgate sagged, and then make countless trips back and forth between the old one-bedroom place and the new two-bedroom. It doesn’t matter if you still have that Subaru or have upgraded to an SUV, professional moving companies have larger trucks. They can move your entire household in one trip. Fewer trips equal less gas and carbon emissions. It’s an ideal way to stay green while relocating your home.

How to Pack Green

While ransacking the local supermarket for cardboard boxes to pack your stuff in is one method, the Internet has numerous places where you can find recycled packaging containers. It’s true: When you reuse the supermarkets’ boxes, you’re part of the recycle chain. However, what do you do with all those boxes once they have been emptied? Today, many moving companies are also equipped with their own recycled moving containers. Bubble-wrap has traditionally been the number one material for packing delicate and fragile items. The difference between standard bubble wrap and biodegradable bubble wrap is bound to add a couple of years to the earth’s lifespan. However, you can both save money and go green when you wrap and pack your possessions with newspapers, sheets and towels.

The Yard Sale

The yard sale is a quintessential American phenomenon, and it is the perfect way for you to get rid of all the things you do not want. It’s time to let go of that ratty sofa in the basement. The TV with the bunny ears and the old video game console need to go too. However, your junk is another person’s treasure, as many people scour yard sales for old furnish they can refinish and resell. There’s no reason for you to lug this stuff from one basement to another, so why not let somebody else get some use out if it? In the meantime, the extra income you make from your yard sale is bound to come in handy. Whatever does not sell, you can donate to the Salvation Army.

Teaching Green Ideas to Your Children

If you think moving is stressful, imagine how your kids feel. Their entire universe has gone topsy-turvy. New schools, lost friends and different routines are just the beginning. However, having them take an active part in the move will give them a greater sense of inclusion. Have them help with simple packing. Give them an active roll to play. Moving is a teachable moment as it gives children a better understanding of change. They can learn green ideas from the example that you set.

Moving is stressful. However, a few changes to your plan can make a greater impact on the earth. Nobody really likes ransacking the grocery store for cardboard boxes anyway.

*Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*

Fresh berries grace this grilled tuna recipe courtesy of Chef Big Shake! What a perfect combination of ingredients!

Grilled Tuna Topped with Wild Berry Chutney

Ingredients

2 4-6 oz Tuna Steaks, cleaned
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon of cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon of sea salt
½ tablespoon of minced garlic
1 teaspoon of cumin powder
¼ cup fresh blueberries
¼ cup fresh blackberries
¼ cup raspberries
¼ cup strawberries
¼ minced red onion

Preparation

Preheat grill for 5 minutes.

Brush grill grates with olive until coated. Season the tuna steaks with pepper, sea salt, minced garlic and cumin powder on both sides. Suggested cooking time for medium rare tuna steak is between 3- 4 minutes on each side for medium rare temp. For medium add 2 minutes each side and for well-done add one additional minute to each side.

Chutney topping:

On stove top in a large skillet:

Chopped all your berries into quarters and then mix together with the chopped red onion. Heat skillet to medium and add 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Add your berry mixture along with the red onion. Saute for approximately 2-3 minutes until the berries starts to break down. Remove from heat and pour the mixture on top of the tuna steaks – then serve.

Serves 2.

*Recipe courtesy of Chef Big Shake. Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*