alpha-OMEGAs

December 31st.

courtesy of onsip.com

courtesy of onsip.com

The last day of the present year and the first day before the New Year. I cannot think of a more perfect day to discuss the alpha-OMEGA of fatty acids – Omega-3 essential fatty acids that is.

I’m sure you have heard or read something about Omega-3 some point in between Acai juice, pomegranate seeds, Goji berries, Chia seeds, and Kombucha as a “must have” Super Food.

Truth be told, unlike the those vibrating weights, there is A LOT of research to support the health promoting claims of Omega-3 fatty acids. As such, I would be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to share a bit more about these little guys: where you might find them, why exactly they are so good for your insides, and a few recipe ideas for actually incorporating them into your meals.

Before I go on I also want to mention that I had a brilliant request from a Reader asking if I would be so kind as to calculate the nutritional and cost breakdown per serving of the recipes I post. Well, Reader, I think that is a fantastic idea, and as the Southern Belle I claim to be, I do declare…I’d be mighty obliged.

After all, without my Readers, I’m just a cooky lady typing away on laptop to herself because I rent my house and won’t get my Safety Deposit back if I scribble these musings on my [padded?] walls…
Two points for a tangent, and we’re back!

WHO?
Everyone can benefit, but those with cardiovascular concerns and depression are likely to notice the most benefit from Omega-3

WHAT?
Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid – or more simply put, a fat that the body requires for certain functions but cannot self-produce and must be consumed through food.

WHEN?
There is never a bad time for Omega-3 ingestion. No need to set your alarm and consume in the middle of the night; waking hours will be just fine. As mentioned above, if you are feeling depressed or being told you have cardiovascular concerns – no time like the present!

WHERE?
Omega-3 fatty acids are found most abundantly in
Fish: highest amounts in Anchovies, Tuna, and Salmon
• Avocados
Nuts: highest levels in walnuts
Oils: highest levels in Olive and Canola
Seeds: highest levels in Flaxseeds

WHY?

Lowers triglycerides in the blood [useful because high levels of triglycerides cause plaque buildup in the arteries and ultimately lead to high blood pressure and increased risk of heart attack and stroke as the arteries become increasingly narrow]
Decreases irregular rhythms and stabilizes heartbeat [useful for folks diagnosed with Arrhythmia a.k.a. Cardiac Dysrhythmia or simply “Heart Palpitations”]
Reduces “stickiness” of blood platelets [related to the plaque mentioned above; sticky platelets are a major contributor to blood clots *note* a blood clot in the brain is essentially a stroke]. Keep in mind – what is bad for your heart is most always bad for your brain as well because the brain is fed from major arteries and Omega-3s keep ALL arteries clear, not just the ones directly around the heart
Reduces depression by altering neurotransmitters without the use of prescription medications
Increases lubrication for joints so you have less friction and grinding doing regular or extensive activities, which ultimately leads to less pain
Reduces inflammation in already inflamed joints [some studies even support Omega-3 ability to help regenerate the meniscus (knee cap) membrane]
Decreases chances of Macular Degeneration [blindness] as deficiency in Omega-3 has been shown to delay the ocular system that helps convert energy from neurons that travel to the retina of the eye and over time vision suffers and the eye does not receive the nutrients it needs and becomes compromised.

HOW?

• Time to cook! Now before we get started, I want to say, please have an open mind – this first recipe is actually a “first” for me as well. I have horrible memories of anchovies – hairy little greasy nonsense on Caesar salad that my Italian mother used to rave about. However, since I’m asking my clients to be vulnerable here with me and step outside their comfort zone, I decided I would be remiss if I did not go outside mine. Alas, I’ve lived to tell this tale; all is not lost.

 Recipe #1 Alpha Omega Anchovy Salad

  •   One can of white anchovies [ I purchased a 4.375 oz can from Wild Planet ® that is sustainably sourced in the Pacific Ocean and packed in water without extra ingredients * note* like any canned food, it’s sodium content is higher than fresh foods, just shoot for less than 300 mg. The protein, calcium, and iron benefits of these little guys outweighs any negative backlash from the extra sodium]
  •   2.5 cups of rinsed fresh kale [I purchase organic and rinse with a bit of salt and lemon juice]
  •   ¼ cup shaved or grated Parmesan cheese
  •   Onion/garlic *optional
  •   First, open the anchovy can. Take necessary time for dry heaving, gagging, laughing, eye rolling, etc. Ludicrous! Anchovies are absolutely ludicrous looking. Completely unappealing to the eye. Moving right along…
  • Drain the water out and place the anchovies single file on a cutting board
  •  Gentle lift up each anchovy [one at a time] and use a sharp knife to cut the anchovy open long ways. Once again…Take necessary time for dry heaving, gagging, laughing, eye rolling, etc. I completely sympathize. I almost gave up here. Now, remove the spine. It will come out with shocking ease… so much so that I wonder if anchovies were somewhat of a “tweener” in the vertebrate/invertebrate categories… with such a weak spine, why even have one, I mean really?
  •  Anywho… continue removing said spine until you have paralyzed all anchovies
  •  Now rinse off your hands as they may appear sparkly from the scales
  •  If you are an onion/garlic fan chop up a half cup and one clove [respectively] and sauté in a skillet with a bit of olive oil and cracked pepper; if you despise onion and garlic skip this step. If you aren’t sold on the health benefits of onions and garlic Click Here
  •  Next rinse off kale as mentioned above and tear into small pieces [never cut lettuce, etc it bruises the leaves, always better to tear your greens];place in clean bowl large enough to fit it, put in microwave for about 45 seconds to slightly wilt it [this will remove some of its inherent bitterness]
  •  Toss anchovies into skillet with onion/garlic. They are already cooked, so just mix them around gently for 60 seconds or so
  •  Sprinkle with Parmesan to taste [ I used the ¼ cup for the cost/nutritional breakdown I’m providing]
  • Transfer skillet mix to bed of kale

Enjoy with baked sweet potato chips [roughly 14 per serving]

Makes one serving; adjust accordingly to make enough for that special someone in your life…nothing says I love you like Anchovy breath. Especially with the garlic and onions. Yum.
If the taste was only so-so at least know that you only cost yourself roughly $3.76 and 390 cals
While you gained 770 mg of Omega-3s, 21 g of protein, 40% of your daily calcium intake, and 11% of your daily iron intake; 6 g of Total fat [no trans fat]; 4g fiber; 18 g carbs [only from the chips, sans chips you are looking at less than 1 g].

Recipe #2 Alpha Omega Apples

No anchovies required!

  • Simply slice up 1 lb of apples [4 or 5 small to medium sized apples]; leave skins on, that’s where all the nutrients are!!!]
  • Place in skillet on stove; heat Medium
  • Add a cup of water
  • Mix in approx. ¼ cup of flaxseed oil [available at generic stores now-a-days]
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • Cinnamon to taste helps stabilize blood sugar
  • Mix around ensuring the apples get coated with some oil and cinnamon
  • Let simmer until apples are soft
  • Enjoy by itself or mix into oatmeal, Greek yogurt, or even frozen yogurt!

Makes two servings

Cost per serving $ 1.78
Nutrition highlights [of just the apples]:
225 cals
3,700 mg Omega-3
12g fiber
215 mg potassium

CHEERS to a New Year and a New You

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An Unseen Gift

As usual on Sundays, I headed up one of the many peaks in the Northern Mountain Preserve in Phoenix earlier today.

There is something about the mountains here in Arizona – they are so accessible; you can drive as little as five minutes and be at the base of a large preserve, and thanks to urban sprawl in the lateral direction, you can see for hundreds of miles once you are at the peak. A gift in and of itself.

Hiking this time of year has so many additional treats. Depending on where you go, you may have the privilege of seeing other hikers, horse riders, and even mountain bikers clad in holiday attire as they make their trek. You also have the freedom to be one of those holiday-clad people…

not that MissFIt would ever be caught dead in a goofy get-up...

not that MissFIt would ever be caught dead in a goofy get-up…

With cooler temperatures and a still prominent dose of sunshine, it is a time of year when many are inspired to take on the challenge of being active outside and getting an early start on burning off those already accumulated holiday calories.

For some, the peace and quiet one finds standing at the peak is also additionally serene this time of year as it stands in direct juxtaposition to the often chaotic moments of December family gatherings.

Today, though, a very unique moment occurred on the mountain: one that, shall we say, I did not see coming. And neither did my soon to be friend. Allow me to explain things as they unfolded.

You know how everyone has their own…shall we say…STYLE of working out? There are the

PW’s [Power-walkers]

courtesy of womenwalking.co.uk

courtesy of womenwalking.co.uk

the L-VAWS [Leaden-vest, ankle weight soldiers]

courtesy of wearweight.com

courtesy of wearweight.com

the Full perfume, make up, and up-do types,

courtesy of gurl.com

courtesy of gurl.com

the Joggers,

courtesy of sciencenordic.com

courtesy of sciencenordic.com

the S&M [Slow and methodical – of course. This is a PG blog…sort of]

courtesy of topiclessbar.wordpress.cm

courtesy of topiclessbar.wordpress.cm

and the I-take-my-cell phone-calls-while-I-work out types

courtesy of popsugar.com

courtesy of popsugar.com

Just to name a few

I will shamelessly admit, my music becomes but a backdrop to the main stage of the characters I see but usually never meet.

Today as I neared the top of the mountain, my brain on a thousand different things, I saw a women reach the top, gently tap the chain linked fence [as is common practice for no understandable reason], and turn back around for her descent. She was wearing a blue pull over and leggings with trail shoes and was carefully placing one foot in front of the other. Ever so carefully, almost like a gymnast walking the balance beam.

I noticed she was holding her cell phone out in front of her in an almost-precarious sort of way. I immediately felt drawn to her. She appeared to have a sense of peace and calm that I aspire to have. As she neared me, I noticed the cell phone she held out was beeping. I stopped in my tracks. In a few milliseconds hundreds of gigs of information seemed to deluge me and I suddenly understood:

This woman was blind…

…Is blind

Standing hundreds of feet high.

Having the same – yet an entirely different – work out as myself.

I said hello quietly and we began a brief but powerful discussion

It turns out that what I thought was her cell phone as actually a device that assesses topographical changes and distances and issues alerts through a series of beeps.

She went on to tell me that with the help of that device and her husband [with whom she always scouts out a new mountain] she has hiked over 30 peaks in Arizona and finds great hope in the challenge. She anticipated one of my questions by stating “I bet you think it is really scary not to be able to see the edge of the cliff, huh?” I choked on my answer but finally got out a slight affirmation. She smiled. She said “You know, maybe I should be more scared, but I tell you what, I know these mountains better than most. I have traveled them many times and gotten to know them by touch, sound, and smell. I am not afraid of these mountains, I am afraid for the day when I can no longer share myself with them”.

She excused herself saying that she was on a tight schedule as her husband knows how long it usually takes her and might get worried if she was too far off the mark.

I thanked her for stopping to talk to me and wished her well. I took a different path once I reached the top and continued my way.

As I was walking back to my car, feeling tired in a muscle-exhaustion sort of way, I saw her again – doing pushups on the path down by the parking lot!

Just looking at her… The utter courage and dedication with which she lives her life – the knowledge that she would not have it any other way…I sat in my cold car wrapped in a blanket of inspired awe.

There are some moments in life that you will never fully understand. Then there are moments which compel you to understand many, many things and challenge you to better yourself in the process.

Today was one of those days.

This year, Mis[ter]fits, when you are contemplating your New Year’s Resolution, look past the cookie-cutter ones and think about simply resolving to go outside your comfort zone and be a more courageous version of yourself.

 

Until next time,

Stay Well,

MissFit

 

I would love to hear your resolutions. Simply post at the bottom in Comments, or email direct to write.with.ms@gmail.com