Braised Herbed Chicken

Braised Herbed Chicken
Serves 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes

In a small bowl, combine the rosemary, thyme, oregano, garlic powder and black pepper. Heat the oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and sauté for 3 minutes per side. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the potatoes and carrots around the chicken in the pan. Pour the herb mixture over the chicken and potatoes. Add the chicken broth to the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce
heat to a simmer; cover and cook for 30-35 minutes.


Nutrition Facts:
Serving Size: 1 chicken thigh + ½ cup vegetables Calories 260 Carbohydrate 23 g
Protein 21 g Fat 9.0 g Saturated Fat 2.1 g Sugar 3 g Dietary Fiber 3 g Cholesterol
105 mg Sodium 265 mg Potassium 765 mg

1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound boneless, skinless, chicken thighs
2 cloves garlic
2 cups fat-free, reduced sodium chicken broth
3 large carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks
12 ounces fingerling potatoes, cut in half


Provided by Sheri Gilbert of the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) in the January 2015 Wellstyles Monthly Newsletter.


January is Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

The Importance of Preventative Care
Cervical Health Awareness Month is a chance to raise awareness about how women can protect themselves from HPV
(human papillomavirus) and cervical cancer. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease. It’s also a major
cause of cervical cancer. About 79 million Americans currently have HPV. Many people with HPV don’t know they are
infected. The good news? HPV can be prevented with the HPV vaccine. Cervical cancer can often be prevented with
regular screening tests (called Pap tests) and follow-up care.

Cervical cancer screenings can help detect abnormal (changed) cells early, before they turn into cancer. Most deaths
from cervical cancer could be prevented by regular Pap tests and follow-up care.


How can Cervical Health Awareness Month make a difference?

We can use this opportunity to spread the word about important steps women can take to stay healthy. Here are just a few ideas:

#1—Encourage women to get their well-woman visit this year.
#2— Let women know that the health care reform law covers well-woman visits and cervical cancer screening. This means that, de
pending on their insurance, women can get these services at no cost to them.
#3—Talk to parents about how important it is for their pre-teens to get the HPV vaccine.


Provided by Sheri Gilbert of the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) in the January 2015 Wellstyles Monthly Newsletter.


The Perfect Sleeping Positions to Fix Common Body Problems

The amount of sleep you get every night is important, but what’s even more important is that the sleep you’re getting is good sleep. If you have aches, pains, indigestion, or tend to snore, these are the positions that can help cure what ails you.

This helpful graphic from The Wall Street Journal points out some common trouble spots and how you can adjust the way you sleep to make sure you have sweet dreams. Back pain? Try a pillow between your knees. Acid Reflux or indigestion? Elevate your head with some more comfy pillows or a few bricks under your bed’s legs. Don’t waste your precious sleeping hours by forcing yourself to sleep uncomfortably. For more information on how your sleeping position can affect you, check out the complete Wall Street Journal article at the link below.

Find the Perfect Sleep Position | The Wall Street Journal via Best Infographics

The Perfect Sleeping Positions to Fix Common Body Problems

Surviving the Holidays Without Gaining a Pound

Surviving the Holidays Without Gaining a Pound

The opportunities to eat around the holidays seem endless, beginning on Halloween and not ending until New Year’s Day. Toss in an out-of control list of things to do – from parties to host and attend to gifts to wrap and ship – and it’s no wonder most of us pack on the holiday pounds. But this year can be different. Before the frenzy begins, establish a plan and detailed schedule for how you will manage all the things you need to do between now and New Year’s Day.

A few ideas to help ease the holiday stress:

 Consider shopping online
 Send out a holiday newsletter or photo card to everyone on your list
 Scale back your social calendar to allow some down time to enjoy the spirit of the season

Even though it seems impossible to squeeze in more activities, your fitness routine is a priority. Physical activity of any kind, whether  working out at the gym, doing a fitness tape at home, fast walking at the mall or going for a daily walk – helps you cope with stress while it burns calories and keeps muscles strong.


Don’t Strive for Diet Perfection
Once you have your to-do list under control, the next task is figuring out how to enjoy the bounty of food without going on an eating frenzy. My strategy to get through the holidays without gaining a pound is to aim for “social weight maintenance.” Forget about weight loss and focus on keeping the needle on the scale right where it is today. Don’t expect to be perfect around the holidays. For the next six weeks, you need to allow yourself some flexibility so that you can enjoy your favorite holiday foods.

To maintain during the holidays, enjoy small portions of your holiday favorites but be careful not to go overboard. Follow the “80/20 rule”:  80% of the time, you eat healthy foods and 20% of the time, you splurge a little on those once-a-year favorites. And 100% of the time, do at least 30 minutes a day of physical activity.


Focus on Fun, Family and Friends
Don’t let food have the spotlight. Take the focus off food by getting family and friends involved in some fun activities during holiday parties. Go outside for a walk, sledding, ice skating, or building snowmen. Indoors, try a spirited game of charades, or rent an instructional dance video followed by a dance-off. Dancing goes hand in hand with the holidays so why not make dancing after eating a new holiday tradition for a great form of fun and recreation?

I went Overboard!  The best-laid plans sometimes fail. If you over indulge, don’t beat yourself up but make a pledge to be more in control next time. To compensate, eat a little less and exercise a little more the next day and learn from it so it won’t happen again at the next holiday function. Establish your own personal ground rules and do your best to stick to them, at least 80% of the time. Prioritize a little exercise every day; it will pay you back with renewed energy, stress control and even help you sleep. And remember to relax and enjoy, the holidays are supposed to be fun!


Holiday parties are much more than food and drinks. They are a time to delight in the traditions of the season, and enjoy the company of family and friends. If you keep the focus on the spirit of the season and heed the diet advice, you should get through the holidays without gaining a pound.

Source: By Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, LD

Provided by Sheri Gilbert of the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) in the November 2014 Wellstyles Monthly Newsletter.


Haitian Pumpkin Soup

Haitian Pumpkin Soup

Although this is a vegetarian version, add small cubes of browned beef stew meat along with the pumpkin, if you like. Simply remove and then return them to the pot as you do the hot peppers. Serves 8



Put squash, 10 cups water, salt and pepper into a large pot. Stud peppers with cloves by pushing them halfway into the flesh, then add peppers to pot, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer until squash is very tender,
15 to 20 minutes. Transfer peppers to a small bowl and set aside.

Working in batches, purée remaining contents of pot in a blender or food processor until smooth, taking care as it will be very hot. Return puréed squash mixture to the pot along with peppers. Add carrots, turnips, cabbage, nutmeg, lemon juice, salt and pepper, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in vermicelli and parsley, cover again and simmer gently until pasta is
tender and soup is thickened, about 10 minutes more. Because the texture of squash and pumpkins can vary, thin the finished soup with a bit more water, if desired.



2 pounds (1-inch) chunks seeded, peeled butternut squash or
pumpkin (about 7 cups)
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 jalapeño or serrano peppers
10 whole cloves
4 carrots, sliced
2 turnips, peeled and cut into small chunks
1/2 small head green cabbage, cored and roughly chopped
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
3 TBS lemon juice
1/4 pound vermicelli or capellini
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Provided by Sheri Gilbert of the Valley Schools Employee Benefits Trust (VSEBT) in the November 2014 Wellstyles Monthly Newsletter.


24 Daily Habits


24 Daily Habits

“We first make our habits, and then our habits make us” – John Dryden

I have previously written about how the habit of exercising every day has helped me tremendously. Doing something every day is such a powerful way to form a habit that I thought I would make a list of 24 habits that are worth doing on a daily basis. Note: I have divided these into morning, day and night although some could obviously be under different headings.

The Morning

1. Wake Early: I am a big fan of waking at 5am and spending time working on myself before going to work. I have written more about this habit here: How to Wake Early When All You Want to Do Is Sleep.

2. Exercise: when I had the goal of exercising 4 times a week I found it was very easy to tell myself I will exercise tomorrow instead. Setting the expectation of daily exercise removed this as a potential excuse and I have since reaped the benefits of this daily habit.

3. Review or (even better) Rewrite Your Goals: each day I try to get closer to achieving my short, medium and long term goals. Starting the day by reviewing or rewriting my goals means that I have better awareness of them throughout the day. As Robin Sharma says:

“With better awareness you can make better choices and when you make better choices, you will see better results.”

4. Read and/ or Listen to Motivational Material: in the morning a whole day of endless possibilities lies ahead. I motivate myself to play my best game by reading and listening to inspirational books/ audiobooks. For audiobooks I recommend the free introductory offer from Audible.

5. Visualize the Day Ahead: I like to take a few minutes to shut my eyes and visualize what I want happen in the coming day. It’s amazing how often my desires become reality when I do this.

6. Write a “To Do” List: I like to write out a list in my diary of the important tasks I need to do that day. As they are completed I put a line through them. So simple, yet so effective.

7. Check the News Headlines: I think it’s important to have an idea of what is happening in our community and the world. Also if don’t at least check the main stories, I find it is easy to feel left out of conversations throughout the day. Having said this, much of the news is negative and I’m careful not to spend too much time digesting it unless there is a particular story of note.

8.  Blog: I find there are many benefits to blogging. Starting a blog can help you gain clarity, be creative, make new friends, and may even generate you some income. If you would like to start a blog I recommend Squarespace.

9. Take Time to Look Good: it’s a reality of life that people judge us by our appearance. I take a few minutes each morning to ensure I go out into the world looking the best I can.

The Day

10. Smile. You’ve probably heard about the importance of smiling, but as the saying goes “common sense is often quite uncommon.” I try to carry a smile with me on throughout the day. I find that not only does it make me happier, but it can make other people smile and open the door to conversations with people I haven’t talked to before.

11. Put First Things First: I try to avoid having my day controlled by tasks that are urgent , but not necessarily important. The habit of putting first things first is about organizing and executing your life around your deepest priorities.

12. Under-Promise and Over-Deliver: at work I try to go the extra mile on my projects, especially on the details many people might miss.  I set reasonable deadlines for myself and, when possible, try to get them done early.

13. Be Proactive: being proactive means showing initiative and taking the responsibility to make things happen. Whenever I want to get something done, I ask myself: “what can I do to make this happen?”

14. Snack Well: I substitute the chips, candy and chocolate with fruit, vegetables (carrots and celery are great to chomp on) and nuts.

15. Connect with Nature: I find spending time outdoors in nature is great for my sense of well-being. On work days I like to go for a walk during my lunch break.

16. Ping a Friend: I try to send a quick email or text to a friend each day. It’s a great way to stay in touch with friends when I am extremely busy.

17. Save: I save at least 10% of each paycheck. A great way to find the money to save is to break it down to a daily amount, for example $10-15. By taking account of the Latte Factor I find it easy to save this much.

The Evening

18. Have Family Time: I believe it’s important to be present most evenings. Family time is aboutquantity and quality.

19. Take Time for Myself: I also believe it’s important to spend a little time each day just for me. Some things I like to do: read, write, meditate, yoga, play music and/ or visit the gym.

20. Tidy Up: a cluttered house can lead to a cluttered mind and fuzzy thinking. I find it’s best to stay on top of things by tidying up each day.

21. Wind Down: I try to switch off the computer and the TV about 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime and let my brain have some down time after a long day. I sleep far more peacefully when I do this.

22.  Review My Day: I find this is a great way to hold myself to account for taking action throughout the day. Did I get closer to achieving my goals? Did I complete my to do list? Did my day go as planned? If not, why not?

23. Say I Love You: don’t just assume that your family members know you love them. I say these words to my wife and sons at least once per day.

24. Go to Bed At A Reasonable Time: the first habit of this list (waking early) begins by going to bed at a reasonable time and getting a good nights sleep.

Photo by lululemon athletica

This Fungus Is Known As “The Mushroom Of Immortality” & “The King of All Herbs”

This Fungus Is Known As “The Mushroom Of Immortality” & “The King of All Herbs”

by Alanna Ketler

Chaga is a non-toxic fungal parasite that grows on birch trees (as well as a few other types) in Northern climates. It is far from your typical soft and squishy mushroom, it actually looks and feels like burnt wood or charcoal. Chaga is known by the Siberians as the “Gift From God” and the “Mushroom of Immortality.” The Japanese call it “The Diamond of the Forest,” and the Chinese refer to it as the “King of Plants.” The Chinese also regard it as an amazing factor inachieving longevity. Chaga does grow in North America, but most Americans have no clue of its existence, let alone amazing healing properties, which will be listed below.

This mushroom of immortality is said to have the highest level of anti-oxidants of any food in the world and also, the highest level of superoxide dismutase (one of the body’s primary internal anti-oxidant defenses) that can be detected in any food or herb. The active constituents of Chaga are a combination of: amino acids, beta glucans, betulinic acid, calcium, chloride, copper, dietary fiber, enzymes, flavonoids, germanium, iron, lanosterol, manganese, magnesium, melanin, pantothenic acid, phenols, phosphorus, polysaccharides, potassium, saponins, selenium, sodium, sterols, trametenolic acid, tripeptides, triterpenes, triterpenoids, vannillic acid, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, Vitamin D2, Vitamin K and zinc. Phew.

Chaga is extremely powerful because it contains within it, the actual life force of trees -the most powerful living beings on this Earth. Trees can live for as long as 10,000 years with some even surpassing that. Chaga concentrates this power, and we can harvest it as well. One of the most important properties of Chaga is betulinic acid, however, in order for chaga to be beneficial, it has to be harvested from birch trees only. Birch trees are the only trees that contain this amazing compound. Betulinic acid has a wide range of biological effects including potent antitumor activity.

Some Other Medicinal Properties Of The Chaga Mushroom Include:

  • Anti-HIV – a study published in The Pharmological Potential Of Mushrooms demonstrated chaga’s potential to lessen symptoms of HIV.
  • Antibacterial – Chaga kills or inhibits growth or replication by suppressing or destroying the reproduction of bacteria.
  • Anti-Inflammatory – Chaga is known to be a powerful anti-inflammatory and pain reliever, which makes it excellent for conditions such as arthritis.
  • Anti-Candida – Because chaga promotes and protects the liver, candida toxins are processed efficiently.
  • Adaptogen – Chaga is an Adaptogen. Its compounds can increase the body’s capability of adapting to stress, fatigue and anxiety. (Something most Americans can definitely benefit from.)
  • Many other potential benefits include the treatment of asthma, hair loss, allergies, boosting the immune system, diabetes, Crohn’s Disease, psoriasis, anti-aging and literally hundreds of others.
This Fungus Is Known As “The Mushroom Of Immortality” & “The King of All Herbs”

How To Prepare Wild Chaga Mushroom Tea

Chaga mushrooms grow wild in forests in Northern climates on birch trees. If you are lucky enough to find one, you’ll want to harvest it, as chaga can be quite expensive to purchase. DO NOT cut into the tree to retrieve the chaga, doing so could kill the tree. If retrieved correctly the chaga will continue to grow and will be ready to harvest every four years or so, and the tree will continue to thrive.

***It is important to properly identify the chaga mushroom before consumption. To ensure you are getting the correct fungus, make sure that you are harvesting from birch trees only. Chaga has a similar texture to wood and looks a lot like burnt wood or charcoal, inside it should be a golden orangy color. Be sure to look it up before consuming if you are unsure just to be safe!***

To make the tea, cut a few small pieces off the chaga and place it in a pot. Pour in about 2 liters of filtered water and cover with a lid. Bring the pot to a boil for a minute or so, then reduce the heat to a simmer and keep the lid off. Let this simmer for about an hour and then add in another liter of water and continue to simmer with the lid on for another hour. This will make approximately 1 liter of chaga mushroom tea. It is a time consuming process, but I think that the amazing benefits justify the process, plus it tastes great! It tastes like a nice vanilla flavored black tea. You can add honey or sweetener if you wish, but I think it tastes surprisingly delicious on its own.

You can also grind up the mushroom into a powder form, or make it into a tincture for convenience. Please see thislink for more details.

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