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Make a Whole-Life Resolution

New Year's resolutions are fine, but you can do better. Instead of one goal for one year, how about total transformation for life?

Happy New Year! May 2010 bring peace and economic recovery to the world, and joy and happiness to your heart.

It's a new year -- a new beginning -- and that compels us to reflect on our lives and evaluate how satisfied we are with ourselves, how we're doing in life.

One way many try to implement positive change this time of year is by declaring a New Year's resolution, a commitment to oneself to change a habit or do something new and different as an act of self-improvement. While the idea of a New Year's resolution is usually noble and well intended, the way we go about doing it can result in failure or defeat.

Many people had a rough 2009 -- I certainly did. For the first time in many years I didn't even feel like celebrating New Year's Eve. Although I have much to be grateful for and feel enormous gratitude for all I have, it's hard to celebrate when so many others are unemployed, have lost their homes or don't have food on their tables. Many of us saw our income shrink and our retirement savings nearly disappear during the worst economic disaster since the great depression.

The Great Recession has affected everyone. Much has changed in the way we behave as consumers and the way companies conduct business. Naturally, we're all hoping this year will be better than last. But making a New Year's resolution can be like trying to put a band-aid on a deep wound that actually requires medically administered stitches. New Year's resolutions have the same elements of fad diets -- they're sometimes just quick and superficial fixes that in the long run may be unsustainable and can add to a sense of failure. If you want real change, forget about New Year's resolutions and embrace whole-life resolutions.

By all means, make a habit of self-reflection and examine your life, but don't wait for the end or the beginning of a year -- do it any time you feel dissatisfied about something in your life. Any month or any day is perfect when it comes to making life-long changes for the better.

Happiness rarely comes from a single, isolated, superficial change. If losing weight is your New Year's resolution, for example, you may be tempted to accept the cultural myth that excess weight is caused solely by too many calories in the diet. But eating fewer calories without improving your diet is not a life-long solution. Eventually you might end up binge eating or developing eating disorders and other illnesses. Or you may just continue on inadequately nourished.

There's nothing wrong with wanting to achieve a normal weight. But it's important to understand both the problem and the solution.

Generally, excess weight is a symptom of a larger problem, of a body out of balance. You may be eating too many calories, but why? Nature designed you to self-regulate body weight, so why isn't that system working? If you're like most modern people, a combination of low-nutrient, artificial and unhealthy foods, inadequate exercise, lack of sunshine and sleep and environmental and household toxins have conspired to "break" your natural system for weight management.

Eating a fad diet might help you lose a few pounds (at least in the beginning), but it won't provide what you need to bring your body back in balance. That can only be effected by making whole-life changes, which include every aspect of your life -- in other words, your lifestyle. It's not possible to enjoy maximum health without giving your body what it needs: healthy whole food, daily exercise, fresh air, sunshine, pure water, plenty of sleep, healthy relationships and occasional relaxation.

Losing weight is a typical New Year's resolution. Giving yourself everything you need for optimal health is a whole-life resolution. And it's a resolution that will also probably result in you losing excess weight, and provide you with a hundred other benefits. Good health gives you more energy, vitality and strength to pursue other goals you set for yourself.

The bottom line is that as soon as you discover something is amiss in your life, that's the time to effect change. Life is too short to waste it on waiting for a new year.

This is the philosophy behind a book I'm working on with my husband, which will be called “The Spartan Diet.” The philosophy can be summarized like this: Live your values. So if you value health and fitness, don't just value it, achieve it. Actually do it. All of it. All the time. This year, and for the rest of your life.

This philosophy stands in stark contrast to the prevailing cult of mediocrity that plagues modern cultures. For example, when scientists discover that whole gains promote health, while denatured and adulterated grains degrade health, the advice we're given is to "try" to integrate more whole grains into the diet. The Spartan Diet philosophy is: Don't try -- do it. Make all your grains whole and never eat anything less than whole grains.

I'll tell you more about the Spartan Diet in future issues. In the meantime, you can check out the book's site and blog.

The time for action is the exact moment you discover you're not happy about something. The desire to eat well, lead a healthy, productive and successful life, as well as becomming as strong, robust and healthy as possible is this instant and for the rest of your beautiful life.

May 2010 be the year when you take charge of your own health, so you can enjoy vibrant energy, immense happiness, great success, boundless prosperity and a fulfilling and meaningful life. Happy New Year!

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WORDS OF WISDOM
Holistic Wellness

"The part can never be well unless the whole is well."

Plato
 

Stay motivated - Read health-related research news, events and commentary every day. Check out Amira's Vegetarian Organic Blog.

 

SUPERFOODS
Perfect Pomegranates

As January begins, the season of pomegranates starts coming to an end. I began my long farewell yesterday by eating one of these succulent juicy and sweet fruits.

I truly love eating pomegranates -- they are one of the most extraordinary gifts of nature. Not only are they loaded with fiber, vitamin C, potassium, folic acid, iron and a massive amount of antioxidants but they're astonishingly delicious. And studies have found pomegranates to be powerful enough to fight and even prevent prostate cancer and heart disease.

One of the earliest cultivated fruits, one prominently featured in myths, legends and art throughout history, pomegranates have always been associated with good health. Oddly enough, the word pomegranate means apple, so it's no surprise that some scholars believe that the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil bare pomegranate fruit in the Garden of Eden as opposed to apples.

The beautifully translucent and brilliant deep red seeds are called arils. Each aril is a self-contained bubble packed with succulent juice with an edible soft white seed in the center. You eat the whole aril along with the seed. But make sure the entire white membrane surrounding the arils is removed, as it's bitter and provides no health benefits.

Some people are dissuaded by the labor-intensive effort that it takes to eat a pomegranate. The skin is a little hard to break. Removing the arils from the surrounding membranes that envelop them can try some people's patience. Grocery stores sell arils ready to go for convenience, but doing that deprives you of the amazing flavor and texture of freshly opened pomegranates, not to mention some of the nutrients. I find that the whole process of opening a pomegranate and removing its arils is therapeutic and even gratifying. And the reward of eating the freshest arils possible is unparalleled. Pomegranates are picked when they're ripe. Those found at the stores are ready to go. Choose the heaviest pomegranates, as most of the weight of a pomegranate is the juice inside its arils.

Pomegranates are an important part of the Middle Eastern diet. Their popularity in the U.S. as a superfood began only a few years ago. If you live in Arizona or California, you can even plant your own pomegranate tree. I planted one at one of my previous homes, and miss it very much. I consider myself lucky though, as most pomegranates in the U.S. are grown in California, where I live. Some varieties are available as early as August, but the main season is from October to January.

It's still time. Enjoy pomegranates every day as the season dwindles. They add a delightful flavor to sweet desserts, hot cereals, salads and other savory dishes.

 

GOOD STUFF
Amira's Online Stores

I have two online stores where you can buy products that I personally recommend or that carry the Vegetarian Organic Life, Vegetarian Organic Blog or Your Wholesome Life branding.

Here's the Vegetarian Organic Store where you can find my favorite cookbooks (and other books), kitchen tools, cookware, dry goods and even gifts and movies!

Here's the Amira Store for clothing and accessories!
 

 

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VEGETARIAN ORGANIC RECIPE OF THE WEEK
Baked Butternut Squash

In North America this time of year, when not much else is in season, winter squash is an easy vegetable to come by and prepare in an variety of different ways. You can steam, roast and bake them. You can enjoy winter squash in soups, salads, entrees or just all by itself, freshly baked right out of the oven -- like this recipe.

My Baked Butternut Squash recipe has exactly one ingredient: squash! Baked squash can be used for recipes that call for pureed pumpkin -- no need to use canned pumpkin ever again.

Most baked squash recipes tell you to use oil, but that's unnecessary. Call me a purist, but baked plain butternut squash has plenty of flavor on its own. I bake butternut squash all the time, and love to eat it just plain as a side dish for lunch, dinner or even breakfast -- it's delicious and super nutritious. Although this recipe calls for butternut squash, you can substitute with the squash of your choice, including pumpkin and acorn squash. To learn all about winter squash, see Vegetarian Organic Life issue #56.

Equipment
Rimmed cookie-sheet, unbleached parchment paper.

Ingredients
2 medium size butternut squashes.

Instructions
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F, line cookie-sheet with parchment paper.
2. Wash and dry squashes, and trim off top stem along with a little skin.
2. Cut in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds and membranes with spoon.
3. Arrange halves on cookie-sheet cut-side down.
4. The time it takes to bake varies from 20 to 60 minutes depending on size, but begin checking after 20 minutes for smaller squashes, 30 for medium and 40 for large. Brown spots on the skin indicate it's fully baked.

Notes
Bake squash until it has some brown spots on the skin when intended to eat right out of the oven or as puree for another dish, such as pumpkin pie.

Bake 10 to 15 minutes less when intended to be used in salads, so it can be peeled and diced into cubes. Poke skin with fork for doneness. The fork should poke trough somewhat easily.

 

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