Monday, September 14, 2009

Getting Ready For Bed

Do you have a ritual that you go through each night before you go to bed? Or do you fall asleep while reading or watching television at various times of night? Do you notice the difference in how you sleep when you prepare for bed versus falling asleep unplanned? I wouldn't be surprised to hear that you do - having a regular routine of things we do before going to bed can have the effect of preparing our body for sleep, in much the same way that seeing and smelling food starts the process of digestion.

Your "getting ready for bed" ritual can and should be unique to you, but a couple of things that all bedtime rituals should include for optimal health and sleep hygiene are:
  • Removing make up and washing your face
  • Brushing and flossing your teeth
  • No caffeine or sugary food or drink past a certain time or after brushing
  • Turn off the television and stimulating music

Turning off the television and avoiding caffeine before bed are common sense, but we don't always do what our common sense dictates. I occasionally get caught up in a late night crime drama on television before going to bed, which often results in a restless night. Avoiding these and even stimulating music allows our parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest functions) to kick in and for natural sleep to occur.

What about washing your face, brushing and flossing? Also seems like common sense - most parents make their children do this every night before bed. But it's also vitally important for adult health and most important to do before going to bed at night. At night, our mouths are drier. With no salivary enzymes to kills them and no food and drink to pass them through to our digestive tract, bacteria growth overnight is high. Brushing and especially flossing helps remove the last traces of food and sugar that fuel these bacteria before we go to bed. Removing these substances also helps prevent the accumulation of tarter.

Likewise, washing your face before bed clears off environmental exposures, make up and excess oil before going to bed, allowing your skin to breath and regenerate. Many of the body's healing and regenerative functions occur overnight in response to hormonal events precipitated by sleep. But these functions can be hampered when the surface of the skin is covered or coated with dirt, oil, make up and even night creams.

Try practicing a bedtime routine for a week or so and see how it affects your sleep. Turn off the TV/radio or turn on some light classical or instrumental music, turn down the lights, clean up and put on your pj's and get a great night's sleep.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Office Closed for Holiday Weekend

True Health Medicine will be closed from Thursday September 3rd at 1pm until Tuesday September 9th at 9am for the Labor Day holiday weekend. Please feel free to leave us a message at 503-691-0901 and we'll get back to you next week.

I'm heading out camping for the holiday weekend and have been working hard all week to plan for a healthy movable feast for the long weekend. In addition to many fresh fruits and vegetables for snacks, I hit upon the idea of making and bringing a new snack favorite for a crunchy, salty treat for the weekend. If you haven't yet learned to love kale, consider these kale chips a different food altogether and try them! Before these (and a raw kale salad from Raw Food Made Easy by Jennifer Cornbleet), I ate my kale because it was good for me - now I eat it because I love it!

Sundried Tomato Kale Chips
Amounts are approximate, adjust seasonings to taste.
Note: for best results, a dehydrator is needed.

1-2 bunches kale
1/2-1 cup sundried tomatoes
1/4 cup tahini
1-2 cup nut or rice milk or tomato soak water
1 Tbsp oregano
1-2 Tbsp basil
2 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp black pepper
1-2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
(available in the bulk department at New Seasons, also delicious on toast or popcorn)

Soak sundried tomatoes in enough water to cover. While tomatoes are soaking, prepare kale. Rinse kale and cut out central vein. I have left this in before, but we usually ended up eating around it, so I cut it out now for easier eating. If the vein doesn't extend to the tip, you can also cut off the end of the kale (up to where the vein starts to get thick) as a separate chip. These "tip chips" are always my favorite. Usually after cutting out the vein, you're left with two halves. I cut these in half again for chips that are about 1/4 the size of the original leaf. You could also cut them smaller.

By the time you finish preparing the kale, the sundried tomatoes will have soaked long enough. Mix tomatoes, tahini, spices and 1/2 liquid (rice/nut milk or soak water) in blender until tomatoes are well blended. Pour mixture into bowl. You may add the remaining liquid now or as you go. Mix well.

The next step is to get the tomato mixture onto the kale leaves and there are many ways to accomplish this. You can pour many leave into the mixture and mix with a spoon or clean hands or you can put the leaves in one at a time. In any event, you will likely be removing the kale from the mixture and squeezing off excess dressing with your hands. You want the kale to be covered with the dressing on both surfaces without using it all up on a couple of leaves. After dehydrating, the flavor is more concentrated, so it doesn't take much dressing per leaf. As you get to the bottom of the dressing bowl, you may need to add more liquid, even water, to thin and extend the dressing. Use a spatula to scrap down the sides of the bowl, too. I have not found that "marinating" for any length of time is necessary - just cover the leaves by whatever method you prefer and then lay the leaves out on a dehydrator tray.

Depending on your dehydrator, it may take more or less time for the chips to be ready. It takes mine about 4 hours until they are mostly dry. If I'm eating them pretty soon, I may even leave them slightly moist (still dry and crispy, but not completely dried out). If you don't have a dehydrator, you can also try baking these in a low oven. I would set the oven as low as it will go and either leave it slightly open or pulse the oven on and off to keep the temperature low as it doesn't take much heat for these to dry.

These are my favorite, but you can also make them with any other dressing you can think of. I've even made them with apple cider vinegar and salt and they were delicious! There's no limit - enjoy!