Thursday, May 23, 2019

The Friday 5 + Primally Pure Giveaway

Hi, friends!

Happy (almost) Memorial Day Weekend! I hope you have some fun adventures planned for the long weekend! 🙂

The Hauperts are BUSY with all sorts of events and activities, including 3 birthday parties, 2 BBQs, and 1 brunch with friends. Woohoo! Let the summer fun begin! This time of year is always jam-packed for us. It’s like we hibernate all winter and, as soon as the weather turns nice, everyone wants to make plans and hang out. Every week and weekend is scheduled from now until September!

Anyway… it’s Friday, and I wanted to share some of my favorites from the week with this edition of The Friday 5. I hope you enjoy it and have a fantastic Memorial Day Weekend!

1. Fullstar Cutter-Veggie Spiralizer + Vegetable Pro-Food Chopper and Dicer – I shared this new-to-me kitchen tool on Instagram Stories last weekend while I was doing my food prep for the week, and I must have gotten two dozen questions about it. It’s a chopper, dicer, and spiralizer, and it’s a GAME-CHANGER for food prep. GAME. CHANGER. I chopped 2.5 pounds of potatoes in like 2 minutes and chopped all of my veggies for the week in like 5! I definitely didn’t think I needed another kitchen “thing” in my life, but this tool is amaaaazing! It makes food prep 100x quicker!

2. Beautycounter Memorial Day Sale – To celebrate Memorial Day, Beautycounter is offering a FREE Countersun Mineral Sunscreen Mist AND Lotion ($35 value) with every purchase over $125 US ($150 CAD you will receive a Mist and a Hydrate Body Lotion)! The offer is good through Tuesday, May 28th. Quantities are limited, so please don’t wait to take advantage of this deal!! Guys, you get TWO products for free!!! SHOP NOW

3. Stomp Rocket – Quinn gets invited to quite a lot of birthday parties. One of the gifts we recently gave to the birthday kid was the Stomp Rocket. It was a huge hit, so we bought 2 more just this week for upcoming birthdays, and I think we probably need one for ourselves! 🙂 Also, purchased from Amazon this week: Pokemon cards + case and a prism for Quinn’s birthday! 🙂

4. J.Crew 40% off sale – Helloooo! You definitely don’t want to miss this one! I’m stocking up on some new clothes for summer! 🙂 Just use code SHOP40! Neiman Marcus also has 40% off, ASOS is 25% off everything, and Backcountry is up to 50% off. Happy shopping! 🙂

5. Primally Pure Charcoal Deodorant – I received such a great response to my recent blog post – Tips For Transitioning To Natural Deodorant – I wanted to host a giveaway to win a FREE deodorant of your choice from Primally Pure! That’s right, just leave a comment below, and I’ll randomly pick a winner to chose the deodorant of their choice. If you haven’t made the switch yet to natural deodorant, here’s an article of interest: The Ugly Truth Behind Drugstore Deodorant and What You Should Use Instead. Don’t forget: You can save 10% on your order at Primally Pure with code carrotsncake!

To enter: Leave a comment on this blog post telling me what posts you ALWAYS read on CNC and what posts you SKIP OVER. I’ll randomly pick a winner on Tuesday morning. Good luck!

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Clean Eating Barbecued Bell Pepper Recipe

This bell pepper recipe is perfect for summer grilling!

If you end up with a ton of bell peppers from the garden this year (or even just find a good sale on them at the store!), you have to give this recipe a try. It’s easy summer grilling and the flavor makes a great side dish for just about any main course.

A white plate holds some red and yellow bell peppers with garlic cloves sitting on top from this Clean Eating Barbecued Bell Pepper Recipe.

I’ve been doing a lot of barbecue recipes lately, and for good reason. No oven can compete with the flavor that a barbecue gives vegetables. It’s absolutely unparalleled in my world.

So I barbecue often in the summer months and even long into fall. That’s one of the many blessings of California weather. Many, many months for using the grill. And the more I use it, the better I get at using it. Funny how that works, but I’m not arguing. Plus, I can always count on Mini Chef eating his veggies when they’ve been cooked on the grill. So it’s a win-win.

These peppers are sweet and flavorful, so if you’re trying to get your own kids to eat more veggies, this may be a good one to try. But if you are cooking them specifically for children, then I would back off of the cumin just slightly. Use 2 tsp. instead of 1 tbsp. It’s a little milder for their little taste buds.

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH WRINKLED PEPPERS?

If you have some peppers that are a little past their prime, the first thing to do is check them for mold. If there is no mold, but their skin is a little wrinkly, then they are still safe to eat.

  • Moldy pepper = garbage.
  • Wrinkly pepper – barbecue.

MORE BELL PEPPER RECIPES:

If you have a ton of bell peppers and need to use them up, here are all my recipes with bell peppers in them!

MORE CLEAN EATING RECIPES:

Enjoy!

Copyright Information For The Gracious Pantry

CLEAN EATING BARBECUED BELL PEPPER RECIPE:

Clean Eating Barbecued Bell Pepper Recipe

A delicious way to use up your bell pepper harvest this summer!

  • 6 medium bell peppers ((red, yellow and orange))
  • 1 tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 10 whole garlic cloves
  1. Place all ingredients in a large, food-safe bag and shake to coat the peppers well.

  2. Cook in a bbq pan or foil packet on the grill until cooked to your liking.

Please note that the nutrition data given here is a ballpark figure. Exact data is not possible.


Recipe from the Gracious Pantry archives, originally posted 7/6/12.

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Does Sleep Quality Really Decline With Age? (Plus, What I Do & a Giveaway)

One of the most common complaints people have as they age is poor quality sleep. They get less sleep than younger people, and, despite what you may have heard, their sleep requirements do not decline with age. A 70-year-old should still be getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night. The problem is that, for many different reasons, older people usually have issues getting the amount of sleep they need.

The popular approach is to accept poor sleep as an inevitable part of aging and find workarounds, ideally workarounds that require a lifelong prescription to a name-brand pharmaceutical. That’s not my way. I accept that the conventional approach may be warranted in certain cases, but it should be a last resort. A person should exhaust the diet, lifestyle, and exercise options before turning to the prescription pad.

What about that central position of the conventional wisdom: Declining sleep quality is a necessary function of age. Is that actually true?

Why Do We Equate Getting Older With Sleeping Poorly?

Age is a predictor of poor quality sleep, but it’s not a foregone conclusion. Not every older adult suffers from poor sleep, which means the passage of time alone cannot explain the loss of sleep quality. In fact, when you drill down deeper, you find that there are many health and lifestyle-related predictors of poor quality sleep among older adults.

Such as:

  • In older Taiwanese adults living in a retirement community, 42% reported sleep disturbances. The best predictors for low quality sleep were being sedentary, suffering from nighttime urination, using anti-hypertensive drugs, and having poor mental health.
  • In older Korean adults, 60% reported sleep issues. The best predictors for low quality sleep in this group were depression, pain, and poor self-rated health scores.
  • In older women, menopause can make getting good sleep harder. The night sweats and body temperature fluctuations (the body tends to drop its temperature in preparation for sleep, and heat flashes can interfere with this) are notorious sleep disruptors.

These are all modifiable risk factors. Even menopause. Menopause will happen, but the symptoms can be addressed and mitigated (though admittedly not easily). I actually wrote a post about this.

There is one specific cluster of neurons called the ventrolateral preoptic nucleus that acts as a “sleep switch”—releasing GABA and other inhibitory neurotransmitters that inhibit wakefulness. The ventrolateral preoptic nucleus has been shown to degrade with age, actually getting smaller over time; further research shows that the size of a person’s VPN correlates closely with their sleep quality. But there’s no indication that this is an inevitable consequence of aging. After all, the rate of VPN decline varies between individuals. Maybe some of that rate variation is genetic. Maybe some is environmental—based on how you live and eat and exercise. We do know that light and sun exposure during the day boosts serotonin levels, and serotonin is one of the precursors for VPN sleep activity. What if a lifetime of inadequate sun and daylight exposure causes the VPN to “atrophy”? There are many unanswered questions, but even if the VPN turns out to follow a strictly chronological decline, there are improvements to be made.

Other “inevitabilities” of aging are often a function of accruing compound interest on one’s failure to lead a healthy lifestyle. If we’ve neglected our health and wellness for our entire lives—often because we were following bad advice from the “experts” who were supposed to know better—that’s going to come to a head the older we get. The older we are, the worse our body will work. The more negative interest we’ll have accrued.

Okay, Sisson, that’s all well and good, but what if I’m already an older adult, I’ve already accrued a lifetime of suboptimal health, and my sleep is bad? What can I do?

5 Easy Ways To Improve Your Sleep (At ANY Age)

You can start addressing the issues right now, right today.

1. You can lift heavy things.

Resistance training has been shown to improve sleep quality in older adults. Three times a week, older adults lifted weights for 30 minutes in the morning and saw their sleep quality improve by 38%. It also works in older adults with poor sleep and depression.

2. You can walk.

A three-time weekly walking program for four weeks helped older Nepalese adults improve their sleep quality.

3. You can reduce your alcohol intake.

A few years ago, I noticed that my nightly glass or two of wine was messing with my sleep, so I gave it up and my sleep improved immediately. I’ve since re-introduced Dry Farm natural wine—lower in alcohol and sulfites, higher in antioxidants and complexity—and have no issues. If you drink on a regular basis and have trouble with sleep, try giving up alcohol for a month. It’s a potentially very easy fix.

4. You can avoid artificial light after dark.

This doesn’t just work in younger people. There is strong evidence that exposure to artificial light after dark is linked to insomnia in older adults. Wearing blue-blocking goggles or simply not using electronic devices after dark are easy fixes.

5. You can get more natural light in the morning and daytime.

In older adults, getting more natural light in the daytime hours has a direct effect of improving sleep quality.

Hey, it’s almost like everything in our lives is connected. Some people find this overwhelming and depressing—”how can I possibly fix everything?” I find it empowering. It fills me with optimism because addressing one piece of the chain can get everything else moving in the right direction. Just look at the study with depressed older adults who had trouble sleeping. All they had to do was start lifting heavy things a few times a week and all their major issues began resolving, or at least improving. That’s powerful.

Now imagine if you tried everything. Imagine if you started lifting weights, walking, reduced your alcohol intake. Imagine the changes you could see. Now imagine if you did this from early adulthood and never stopped. Imagine how you’d sleep. Oh, and don’t neglect the power of a consistent routine.

What I Do (and One Thing That’s Made the Biggest Difference)

Last year, I released a video of my nighttime routine. Now that I’m in Miami, the setup has changed but I still do the same basic stuff.

I live in a condo now that has a great spa. I do “fire and ice” before dinner almost every night”—usually 7-10 minutes sauna, 3-4 minutes cold plunge at 50 degrees, repeat a few times. So, no longer right before bed. But it has the effect of making me relaxed and sleep-ready a few hours after a light dinner.

But there’s one tool I began using a couple years ago that has probably made the most difference of any particular strategy: controlling the temperature of my bed.

Ambient temperature matters for sleep quality. My chiliPAD has become indispensable. (Disclosure: I became such a fan that I eventually invested in the company.) Carrie uses one, too. We have different ideal temperature ranges. Mine cools to 65 at bedtime, but with the app I can set it to rise to 68 at 3:00 A.M. (otherwise I get a little too much heat loss), 70 at 5:00 A.M. and then 75 at 6:45 to help me wake up.  It makes a huge difference and has real evolutionary antecedence; humans spent many millennia sleeping on a cold surface (the ground) covered with animal skins. It’s what our genes still expect from us.

How’s your sleep, older (or not) readers? What’s worked, what hasn’t? If you have any questions about sleep, drop them down below and I’ll follow up!

Now For the Giveaway…

Whenever I find a product I truly love, I want to share it. Today it’s for two lucky winners.

The great folks at ChiliTechnology have offered two of their cooling systems for MDA readers (the two Carrie and I use): a chiliPAD system and their new OOLER system. Both offer the same fully programmable cooling technology to help you manufacture your best night’s sleep. Plus, I’m throwing in a Primal Essentials Kit (Damage Control, Primal Omegas, Primal Sun, Primal Probiotics and Adaptogenic Calm) because good health and great sleep go hand-in-hand.

One winner will nab the chiliPAD, plus Primal supplements package.

The second winner will enjoy the OOLER system, plus Primal supplements package.

To enter to win:

1. Follow @marksdailyapple + @chilisleep + @primalblueprint
2. Tag two friends

Open to US only. The winner will be announced and contacted via Instagram direct message on Thursday, May 30th.

Good luck, everybody!

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References:

Park JH, Yoo MS, Bae SH. Prevalence and predictors of poor sleep quality in Korean older adults. Int J Nurs Pract. 2013;19(2):116-23.

Ferris LT, Williams JS, Shen CL, O’keefe KA, Hale KB. Resistance training improves sleep quality in older adults a pilot study. J Sports Sci Med. 2005;4(3):354-60.

Singh NA, Clements KM, Fiatarone MA. A randomized controlled trial of the effect of exercise on sleep. Sleep. 1997;20(2):95-101.

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Home Neat Home: Toy Storage

I asked Instagram a few weeks ago if there were any Home Neat Home topics you guys would like me to write about. Almost all of the responses had to do with organizing toys! (Also I don’t think I have ever shared a tour of this kitchen, so I will plan to do that soon.)

Tip 1: Designate Certain Rooms As Toy Zones

If you walk into my front door at any given moment, you will not see toys everywhere. We do have a doorway bouncer for Birch in the kitchen, but otherwise toys are designated to certain areas and within those areas, certain containers. The only toys that are in the living room are Birch’s quilt and baby toys which tuck neatly into a nice basket. I get out his quilt and toys several times a day and clean them up when we’re done for the time being.

All of the other toys (the big boy toys are 1,000 x what the little boy toys are!) are in Mazen’s room and our downstairs playroom. Obviously Mazen is allowed to take his toys wherever he wants in the house to play with them, but they can only stay out through the end of that activity period or day and he has to put them away before bath/dinner/bed. I have always modeled good tidying and cleaning up, so he is pretty good about not dragging toys all over the house. When he does bring more than a few toys out, he will ask for my help cleaning them up and I help him rather than digging my heels in and making him do it all by himself. Again: modeling the tidying.

Tip 2: Have One Spot For “Games In Progress”

Ideally behind closed doors! Mazen does not have to clean up his playroom and can leave his Legos out all over the floor if he wants to keep playing the next day. This playroom is new-ish to us (used to be an office and guest room), and the inspo for changing it to toy room was 100% so that he could leave things out longer term and out of his little brother’s reach (eventually). If you don’t have a separate playroom, I would designate a certain area of their bedroom room as a “leave out longer term” area, like on a train table. And I would not make the leave-out place your main living room!

Our basement toy zone on a normal day

Tip 3: In The Designated Areas, Have Good Storage Bins

Mazen keeps his room fairly tidy because everything has a place. Occasionally his desk gets messy with clutter / small items, but overall his floor is clean. It’s very easy for him to toss his animals in the bins after playing or put a game / bat cave / cash register / marble run / etc. back into his closet.

The black and white storage bins from Amazon are great!! I have at least four of these in my house, two for laundry and two for toys. If Grammie keeps giving Mazen stuffed animals, I’m going to have to buy a third! They are so inexpensive ($11 each) and come in a million really cute patterns. I love the look of black and white. So far they are holding up very well. Mazen has two for his stuffed animal collection. We also have a book crate out in his room, and then he has a cube organizer in his closet. We TRY to keep like toys with like, so bins for play-doh, kitchen toys, dress-up costumes, etc.

We also try to play with like toys together so as not to mix them up.

So if Mazen is playing a creative game with his play food and then decides he wants to switch to the marble run, we put away the food first. Sorting toys back by category takes SO long. This is really only a problem sometimes when Mazen has playmates over and they take toys out without cleaning up the first group. So occasionally we do have to re-sort, but not that often, as Mazen is also good at showing playmates how we clean up one zone before moving to another. Sure, sometimes I have to remind him/them when they get excited and on longer play dates we have more to tidy up at the end after the playmate leaves, but day-to-day it’s not a problem.

Lest you think I am a toy sergeant, sometimes it does get really messy over here. And when I notice that happening I just chip in and help out myself so the kids can move on faster to their next activity.

Tip 4: Have A Few Catch All Areas

Mazen has a treasure box where I toss all small toys that he brings home from birthday parties or buys on his own, etc. It’s a quick way to corral all of his little treasures into one spot. Nothing goes together, but they are all in the “small but favorites” category.

Birch has a little catch-all basket up in our room for when he plays on the floor up there. Bins + baskets FTW.

Tip 5: Occasionally Sort + Donate

And finally, the number one secret to organizing is to minimize, so about once a quarter I go through and donate/toss anything that is broken, dried out, used up, or otherwise no longer an active toy. Sometimes I donate toys that are still good but I rarely see him playing with. If you have the space (say in your garage or just in your trunk for a few weeks) don’t donate anything right away in case they notice and ask for it! Sometimes I’ve been surprised by what Mazen has and hasn’t asked about. “Where’s my red rubber band with a paper clip on it?!”

Worst case scenario you can go buy another one :mrgreen:

Our most played with toys over 6.5 years:

  • Stuffed animals
  • Dress up costumes
  • Legos
  • Figurines
  • Trucks/trains/things with wheels

= all the stuff that involves imaginative play. The more specific toys are the ones that are most likely to get forgotten.

What are your best toy storage tips!?

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