Healthy Oil Alternatives


Mix up the flavor (and health benefits) of your next dish with these five alternatives to extra virgin olive oil.


Walnut Oil


Time to oil up. Walnut oil is tasty in salad dressings and drizzled over prepared dishes, but it needs to be refrigerated and should not be used for cooking.

The Benefits: Because walnuts are one of the best sources of plant-based omega-fatty acids, regular use of walnut oil could help reduce your risk of coronary heart disease.



Coconut oil

Ah yes, coconut oil. Other than olive, I love cooking with both grapeseed and coconut oils! It is a vegan friendly baking substitute for butter and good for low-heat cooking, up to 350° (It solidifies at room temperature but liquefies with low heat).

The Benefits: Coconut oil is about 90% saturated fat, but research suggests that it’s metabolized in the body more like unsaturated oil, possibly because it comes from a plant rather than an animal source.





Grapeseed Oil

Grapeseed oil has a clean, light, neutral taste and can be used in almost any dish, hot or cold. It can withstand high heat, up to 485°. You can store it for 3 months at room temperature (so as long as it does not exceed 70°) or longer in the fridge.

The Benefits: Grapeseed oil is rich in the antioxidant vitamin E, which is often in short supply in the western diet.




Avocado Oil

Avocado oil is a great option if you don’t want to overpower a dish other ingredients. It has a mild, nutty flavor and a high smoking point (520°), making it good for stir-frying, sautéing, roasting, and even baking.

The Benefits: Like olive oil, avocado is high in monounsaturated fats that help lower “bad” LDL cholesterol and increase “good” HDL.





Sesame Oil


Sesame oil shines in vinaigrettes for noodles and green salads but shouldn’t be heated, unless you use very little in dishes (i.e., turnip greens). When stir-frying add it towards the end of cooking or when done prior to serving. Keep it refrigerated.

The Benefits: The sesame seeds that are used to create the oil form antioxidants during roasting. And getting antioxidants in our diet is always a plus.

Sesame Oil

Plants with Healing Power

Plants can boost immunity, enhance sleep, and fight colds. With all the advancements in modern medicine, it would be easy to dismiss the age-old insights of herbal medicine as quaint. But scientists are actively studying the mechanisms by which plants can heal us, validating many of the experiences and observations made long ago. Here are a few herbs that are used by many to treat, cure, and fight ailments:


Calendula (Calendula officinalis)


Calendula (Calendula officinalis)

This herb is great for minor skin problems, from eczema to diaper rash, acne to abrasions. Research shows that ointments made of the herb are highly effective at helping wounds seal over while also preventing bacterial infection. Studies have also found that calendula creams can help prevent skin inflammation and irritation in women who are undergoing radiation treatment for breast cancer.

How to Use: Creams and ointments are widely available. You can also find this ingredient in shampoos and conditioners, especially the ones that are meant for babies which help fight dandruff and minor scalp irritations.



Peppermint (Mentha piperita)


Peppermint (Mentha piperita)

Mints have been cherished since ancient times for their ability to settle an upset stomach, aid digestion, treat a cold, and ease a sore throat. The essential oils in these herbs –compounds such as menthol that give peppermint its wonderful aroma –relax the muscles of the gastrointestinal tract while increasing the flow of bile from the gallbladder, helping the body digest fatty foods more effectively. Drinking peppermint tea can help fight colds. It thins and loosens phlegm, meaning it acts as a natural and safe decongestant.

How to Use: Pour 1 cup near-boiling water over 6 to 8 fresh peppermint leaves or 1 tsp. dried. Then steep for 5 minutes. Then strain.  Or, you can purchase bag tea, and just remove the bag after steeping without having to strain. Drink as desired after meals.

Safety Concern: Peppermint may worsen heartburn in people who have gastro-esophageal reflux disease.



Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)


Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)

This herb’s flowers smell like apple and have long been used as a tea to ease colic and soothe fussy babies. It has similar benefits of peppermint. It’s also an effective treatment for anyone suffering from gastrointestinal inflammation and spasm, such as irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea, or heartburn. A number of scientific studies have shown that chamomile ointments relieve eczema as effectively as low-potency hydrocortisone, without any of the side effects of topical steroids.

How to Use: Pour 1 cup boiling water over 1 tbsp. fresh flowers or 1 tsp. dried and let steep for 5 to 7 minutes. Drink as desired. Bag teas are always an option. Creams for external use are widely available.



Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea)


Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea)

My mother takes this herb every day. My sister who is a researcher, and who has MS, introduced it to her. Based upon my mother’s situation and her findings about this herb, she thought it would be great for mom. This herb has been credited with easing depression, decreasing fatigue, reducing pain, improving sleep, and dramatically bettering the quality of life for those with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.

How to Use: Standardized extract: Try 100 to 200 mg. a day for 1 to 2 weeks, and then gradually increase via 100 mg each week as needed, up to 500 mg. a day taken in 2 doses.

Safety Concerns: Use standardized extracts.



Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)


Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)

It looks as if this plant harvests grape tomatoes, doesn’t it? The roots of this herb can boost immunity, ease anxiety, lift mood, and enhance sleep. Compounds in the roots bind to the same brain receptors as prescription tranquilizers, but not as tightly, meaning that ashwagandha can relieve tension without being habit-forming.

How to Use: Simmer 1 tsp. powdered ashwagandha in 8 oz. milk (cow, soy, or almond) for 10 minutes. Add 1 tsp. sugar or stevia, and 1/8 tsp. cardamom and stir. Drink in the evening to relax and unwind.

Safety Concerns: Avoid using with prescription sedatives to prevent over sedation.



Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)


Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)

This gentle member of the mint family is a mild, effective natural tranquilizer and calming agent. Lemon balm is also a wonderful digestive aid, gently relaxing the gut muscles and easing gas, bloating, and indigestion. Additionally, scientists have identified several compounds in the herb that are able to block the herpes simplex 1 virus, which can cause fever blisters or cold sores.

How to Use: Pour 1 cup boiling water over 5 or 6 fresh leaves or 1 tsp. dried (in bag, without straining) and steep for 5 to 7 minutes, then strain. Drink several times a day.

Safety Concerns: Safe for all ages. 😉


Marinated Rabbit

When it comes to Easter, certain foods may come to mind, especially lambs and hams, and sweets like chocolate bunnies. But what about serving up some rrrr-abbit? Now if you have “little girls” at home, you may want to tell them it’s something else…to keep the peace and have a Happy Easter. Lol.

Rabbit…The Other White Meat

Try to be open minded about trying new foods. The amount of food a rabbit eats is minimal when compared to other animals. Now I am pretty sure though without it specified on the packaging that this was a young rabbit. The meat is pinkish in color, tender and fine-grained. Mature rabbit is tougher with a more distinct flavour and great for roasting and such.

Unfortunately, I do not have a “step by step” recipe for it at this time. I used: Kosher salt, coarse black pepper, olive oil, very little white vinegar, natural liquid smoke, plain Greek yogurt, rosemary, garlic, sherry wine and more. I wanted to add something sweet like agave or honey, but since it was going on the grill, I did not want to risk burning it. Besides, I did not add anything spicy, and I almost always offset spicy with sweet. I marinated the rabbit for about 4 hours. The flavors seeped all the way through and it was the most delicious rabbit ever with nonstop compliments. (Like Bison, this was my first time preparing rabbit, and it was absolutely delicious!) It may be possible to find a similar marinade at the store. Maybe you could marinate the rabbit on your lunch break and prepare it when home from work, etc.

Don’t forget: Blot off some of the marinade with a paper towel prior to grilling or searing. The rabbit on the plate below, was grilled for about 25 mins., turning no more than 3-4 times.

What Are The Benefits of Rabbit Meat?

Rrrrrr-abbit meat is well known for its high protein content. It is only 20 percent bone. And believe or not, it taste similar to chicken or hen, not duck as it has its unique flavor. A 3 oz. serving of rabbit meat contains 28 g of protein, more than beef or chicken. Rabbit is also a concentrated source of iron. A serving contains more than 4 mg. If you drink white wine with it (moderation), it will help your body to absorb the iron. Some of us know that vitamin C will do the same, but who wants to drink OJ with rabbit? Rabbit meat provides a wide range of minerals: Copper, zinc, iron, and the B vitamins 2, 6, and 12. The highest levels include 204 mg of phosphorous and 292 mg of potassium. When it comes to the calorie content, it is very low and it is nearly cholesterol free. The sodium content in rabbit is reasonably less too. Rabbit meat, which is a high-protein low fat diet, is not just perfect for weight loss. It also contains anti-oxidant and anti-aging components namely selenium and glutathione. Not only is rabbit healthy….but it is cheap to produce! So go get you some waabbit. 😉

Find Your Happiness :-)

Don’t Stress. Stop your brain form thinking about loading the dishwasher or picking lint off the carpet or dusting your ceiling fan. Give yourself a moment to focus on you! Each day is a gift of time and opportunity. Where will you go today? What will you do this year? Which direction tugs at your heart, like a vast ocean shore stretching out as far as the eye can see? What footsteps do you want to leave behind as a marker between this year and the next?

Knowing what gives your life meaning and what gives you a sense of purpose is the path to finding your happiness. In a University of Wisconsin-Madison study, researchers found that people with high scores for having a sense of purpose in life also enjoy a strong sense of happiness and satisfaction. The people who ranked high in this characteristic, 1 of 6 measured by the Ryff Scales of Psychological Well-Being, had a sense of direction and were aware of the meaning of their lives.

Knowing your purpose may also help you live longer. Explorer and author Dan Buettner led a global study of populations who live the longest (in areas of the world he calls the blue zones). Buettner found that having what the Okinawans call ikigai and the Nicoyans of Costa Rica call plan de vida –which translates as “why I wake up in the morning” –is worth up to 7 extra years of life expectancy.

How do you find or rediscover yours? Over time, your purpose can change or even get lost. Try this: Think back to a period of your life when you felt satisfied and fulfilled. What were you doing? Whom were you with? Ask yourself what and who matter to you most. Philosopher Lao-tzu says, “At the center of your being you have the answer: You know who you are and you know what you want.”

The answers will program your personal GPS. The next step you take –with intent and purpose –will be on the true path to lasting happiness. 🙂


“Why???We Were Just So Comfortable On You”

What’s the effect of regular exercise on sex? For most people, it acts as a mild aphrodisiac. A variety of studies have shown that men and women who keep themselves trim and toned tend to have lustier sex lives, and remain sexually active later in life, compared with people who are relatively inactive. There is an outer limit to this cheerful news, however: Driven, compulsive exercisers actually have lower sex drives than people who understand the meaning of moderation.


Women’s Sexual Second Wind



The libidinous effects of exercise have been demonstrated in both men and women. Linda DeVillers, Ph.D., an adjunct professor of psychology at Pepperdine University in Los Angeles, was intrigued when she noticed that after a day of swimming or skiing, she felt sexually stirred up. She wondered if other women might experience a similar “sexual second wind” after exercise and polled 8,000 female readers of a fitness magazine to find out. A quarter of these women reported that they, too, felt sexually aroused immediately after working out; only 3 percent said their libidos did not seem up to par.

The long-term effects of exercise were even more pronounced. Almost a third of the women reported they had sex more often after beginning their exercise program, 40 percent said they’d noticed an increase in their ability to be aroused, and 89 percent said exercise had given their sexual self-confidence a boost.


Sexual Aerobics for Men


Aerobic Exercise

Another study showed similar effects in a group of 78 sedentary middle-aged men. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, rounded up these healthy but inactive men, whose mean age was 48, and put them on a vigorous, nine-month-long exercise program. Although they worked into it gradually, by the sixth month the men were doing sustained aerobic exercise (pushing their hearts up to 75-80 percent of their maximum aerobic capacity) for a full hour at least three times a week. A similar group of 17 middle-aged, sedentary men was on a program of moderate walking for an hour about four times a week. Both groups kept detailed diaries about all sorts of things, including their sex lives, during the first and last months of the program.

After nine months, predictably enough, the men on the no-nonsense exercise program had increased their overall fitness levels by 30 percent. Their frequency of intercourse increased via 30 percent (to three times a week), the frequency of orgasms increased via 26 percent, the frequency of masturbation increased via 50 percent (to roughly once every ten days). At the same time, in both groups, their sexual dissatisfaction or dysfunction (such as trouble achieving or maintaining and erection) noticeably decreased.

Walkers increased their fitness levels via only 3 percent during the study, compared with a 30 percent increase among the more strenuous exercisers. (Obviously, the walkers weren’t breaking any speed records.) Even so, walkers reduced their anxiety as much as the exercisers, and bumped up their levels of good cholesterol, reported more sexual fantasies and more desire for intercourse than before the study started. Walking may not qualify as Olympic-level training, but don’t overlook its mild-mannered benefits.


Brisk Walking


Exercise, Sex and Aging


Weight Training

Studies of a different sort have shown that people who keep themselves in fighting trim also tend to stay sexually active far later in life than walkers. In one small-scale study, a behavioral scientist at Bentley College in Waltham, Massachusetts, looked at the sex lives of 160 Masters Swimmers, one group in their 40’s and another in their 60’s. These people were not just moderately fit, they were super fit, training an average of an hour a day, four or five days a week –a few of them even more.

“The men and women in our study reported sex lives more like those of people in their 20’s and 30’s than those of their contemporaries,” reported Phillip Whitten, Ph.D., and his research associate Elizabeth J. Whiteside. “Not only that, the people in their 60’s reported sex lives comparable to those in their 40’s,” making love an average of about seven times a month.


Why Fit Equals Sexy


Group Exercise

What, precisely, is the connection between staying fit and staying sexy? Well, there are a few obvious reasons, like enhanced self-esteem. Hey, when you look good….you feel good! And also, you partner feels good about you. Eighty percent of the Masters Swimmers rated themselves as attractive or very attractive, but they were just being humble –their spouses or lovers rated them as even more attractive than what they rated themselves. But there is a physiological explanation as well. Cardiovascular fitness seems to have a direct effect on men’s sexual performance, because attaining and maintaining a serviceable erection requires good circulation. One of the body’s responses to regular exercise is increased blood volume throughout the entire body, including the genitals.

Exercise also has an effect on circulating levels of testosterone –the hormonal trigger of sex in both men and women. Although the physiology is complex and the studies don’t all agree, quite a few have shown that testosterone levels rise after short-term, moderately vigorous exercise. One study showed significantly elevated serum testosterone levels after men ran on a treadmill for 30 minutes –although in women, these levels rose only after 120 minutes of exertion. But remember, some women already have higher levels of testosterone which would mean that for these women it would not take much exertion for their levels to be raised.


The Outer Limit



Like almost everything else, exercise is best if it’s seasoned with reason. If a little jogging is great for your love life, a whole lot of jogging is not necessarily better. It’s well known, for instance, that female athletes who train too ferociously or get too lean develop athletic amenorrhea –in effect, their bodies turn off the menstrual cycle. Their bodies are saying, in essence, “I’m under horrific stress –now is a lousy time to get pregnant!”

Quite a few studies have also shown that continuous, exhausting exercise drives down testosterone levels and takes the steam out of the libido. Rather dramatic declines in testosterone have been shown in male ultra-marathon runners after a 100-mile race, for instance. And one study of fanatical, driven male athletes, who tended to be as obsessed with leanness as anorexics and took up running with an almost religious zeal, found that their marriages were also “often impersonal and asexual.”

So, how much exercise does it take to drive down the testosterone levels –what, in effect, is the outer limit? Well, fortunately, it’s way out there. A researcher at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Ariel Barkan, M.D., has estimated that you would have to run 200 miles a week to seriously disrupt your hormones. By contrast, “there appears to be something magical about running 30 miles per week,” says Jay Schinfeld, M.D., a triathlete who is also chief of endocrinology at the Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia. But it is still my humble opinion, despite sport bras, that women who runs too much may end up flat chested in the long run. (The breast consists of mostly fat) You don’t have to exercise that hard to experience the positive effects of exercise on sexuality, but once you start going above it, you increase your risk of injury.

Have You Started Your Fitness Goals Yet?