Rocky Gorge WellNews Summer 2022 Issue
Herbs for Summer: Let a Smile be Your Umbrella
In last summer’s edition, we discussed plants in the mint family. Now we’re looking at members of the Umbellifer family, named because the shape of their flowers and seed heads resembles umbrellas. Many foods in our diet are part of this group, including celery, carrots, parsnips, fennel, and caraway. The three following herbs will brighten your summer recipes are abundant in vitamins and micronutrients and good sources of the bone-building Vitamin K, flavonoids, antioxidant compounds, as well as essential minerals.
Cilantro and Coriander:
A popular ingredient in cuisines worldwide, cilantro, or Chinese parsley, refers to the leaf – the herb. The seed is a spice called coriander. Both are extremely aromatic but used differently.
Originally from the Mediterranean, cilantro is found in Latin American, Indian, African, and East Asian dishes, especially in condiments. The seeds were found in King Tut’s tomb. Tear up fresh leaves (never dried) and use them in guacamole, tacos and enchiladas, chili, salsa, and grilled corn. Add to steamed rice, Pad Thai, and grilled shrimp. Mix it into mayo with a splash of lime juice, and maybe a dash of chipotle.
Some studies suggest that cilantro may detoxify heavy metals, such as mercury, from our tissues, and may help regulate blood pressure, alleviate GI issues, and reduce nausea. Some people are genetically disposed to dislike the flavor. However, people who don’t like fresh cilantro often enjoy the fragrant flavor of coriander seeds.
Coriander seeds, either fresh or dried whole or ground, enhance a variety of dishes. If you grow cilantro, freeze some of the green seeds to be crushed later into chili and other dishes. Dry the rest and use for flavoring and for sowing future crops.
Dill is native to western Asia, Africa, and the Mediterranean; the leaves and seeds are used in a variety of preparations. We’re familiar with this grassy flavor, which find its way in pickles, chicken soup, and potato, cucumber, and egg salads, just for starters. Fresh dill complements salmon, chicken, sauces, dressings, and dips, such as yogurt-based tzatziki. Fresh is superior to dried. You can freeze the fresh leaves, but a pinch of high-quality dried dill will do in a pinch!
Dill leaf is an anti-inflammatory herb that soothes digestive disorders, lowers cholesterol, and helps eliminate toxins. Just a small quantity of the seeds adds intense flavor.
The underappreciated parsley isn’t just for garnish; it’s a flavorful, versatile, nutritious herb known for its high Vitamin C content. Too bad so much parsley winds up in the trash. It’s high in fiber, neutralizes mouth odors, especially garlic breath, and eases digestion. Avoid dried parsley, which is flavorless and devoid of nutrients. But raw minced parsley adds color and bright flavor to innumerable dishes, such as meats, fish, grains, sauces, and potatoes. It’s so nutritious, no wonder it’s included in juicing diets. A bunch of parsley is inexpensive, hardy, and can last for weeks in the fridge. Pull out any yellowed pieces and store loosely in a plastic bag. Add fresh chopped parsley to foods just before serving to retain its flavor and nutritional benefits.
Foods for Summer Brightness
Similar to pesto, chimichurri is a vibrant green sauce made with pureed parsley and cilantro, plus olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, and garlic. It’s an intensely delicious condiment for grilled chicken and steak as well as veggie dishes.
Snappy Refrigerator Pickles
These crispy pickles don’t require fancy canning methods. They will keep for a couple of months in the fridge, but you can begin eating them the next day!
You will need about four 8-ounce or two 16-ounce glass jars, preferably wide-mouthed, with secure lids.
6-8 Kirby unpeeled cucumbers or 3-4 thin-skinned cucumbers; cukes should not be waxed.
2 cups water
2 cups apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
One small yellow onion, sliced
Several sprigs of fresh dill
4-6 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
Make the brine: Combine the water, cider, salt, coriander, peppercorns, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and simmer 10 minutes. Cool completely before using.
*Note: For extra crunch, place cucumber slices in a colander and cover with ice for 30 minutes. Drain and pat dry.
Place the cucumbers, onion, dill, and garlic in the jars, packing them tightly. Poor the cooled brine into the jars, including the spices, submerging the contents completely in the brine. Cover and refrigerate. After one day, open the lids and stir the contents to release air bubbles and then reseal.
Use this flash-pickling method for other veggies, too, such as carrots, sliced red onions, green beans, and cauliflower.
Strength Training, Especially for Women
Along with a sensible diet and a regular regimen of movement – walking, running, biking, swimming, and other activities – strength training (AKA weight training and resistance training) really boosts our bodies’ ability to slim down. The weight loss associated with strength training is actually fat loss and muscle gain. If you’re already practicing strength exercises, don’t be surprised if you’re looking slimmer but your scale’s needle hasn’t moved down all that much. This is because as your muscles repair after weight workouts, your muscle mass and bone density increase from the stresses you place on them. This is a particularly important reason for women to participate in strength/resistance training in order to slow down sarcopenia (muscle loss) and osteoporosis (bone density loss) associated with aging. Regular strength training two or three times a week increases muscle power and endurance. It also boosts your metabolism, so that you actually burn more calories at rest.
According to the Brookbush Institute, whose focus is on human movement science, the benefits of strength training are as follows:
Increased metabolism, muscle mass, bone density, and physical performance function
Decreased risk of heart disease and types of cancer
Lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels
Improved resting insulin levels
Improved mental health
Weight (fat) loss
Strength and weight training can be done at home without investment in a gym membership or expensive equipment. You can rely on free weights, stretch bands, and ankle weights. To ensure that you’re doing these exercises properly, consult us at MediFit Inc. to help to design an effective, safe strength training program.
Since all of these benefits put the brakes on normal aging for men and women of all ages, we’d like you to consider introducing some strength training into your fitness regimen.
Strength Training Series: Upper Body 101
We begin this series focusing on the power muscles of the upper arm: biceps and triceps.
The American College of Sports Medicine suggests two principles:
- To increase absolute strength and power, use low repetitions and high resistance.
- For muscle toning and endurance, use high repetitions and low resistance.
Biceps and Triceps
Biceps are the two muscles on the front of the upper arm and the triceps are the three muscles on the back of the upper arm. They work in synergy for virtually all activities using the arms. Whether you’re lifting grocery bags, opening or closing doors, or brushing your teeth, these muscles are always in action! Strengthening biceps and triceps is essential for optimal function in activities of daily living (ADL).
The following are two sets of exercises that will strengthen these muscle groups. Begin your routines with one set of 10-15 reps, building gradually to 15-20 reps. When you are able to complete 20 reps without difficulty, it’s time to increase the resistance by 1-2 pounds. It’s recommended to do 1 to 2 sets 3 times a week to gain the benefits.
We recommend that beginners build up gradually, starting at 3–5-pound free weights.
Standing Bicep Curls: Hold the weights on either side of your hips with your forearms facing forward. Stand shoulder width apart, being careful not to lock the knees. Keeping your arms close to your side, bend your elbows, lifting the weights up towards your shoulders. Keep your wrists straight; you want to curl your elbows, not your wrists! Release slowly at an even pace. Be sure to slowly exhale on the press and inhale on release.
Seated Partial Curls: When you’re seated, your elbows should be even with your waist. Sit straight in a chair holding the weights level as if you’re holding a tray. As above, keep your wrists straight. Curl on exhale and release on inhale, bringing the weights to the starting point or a little lower.
Standing Straight Arm Triceps Press-back: Grasp the weights on either side of your hips. Squeeze as you slowly extend and lift your arms backwards; then release.
Seated overhead triceps press: Sit in mid-section of chair, not all the way back. Hold one weight with each hand on the caps of the weights. A heavier weight is okay since you’re lifting with both arms. Extend your arms above your head and bend the elbows. Extend the weight backwards towards the nape of your neck.
Be sure to check out our class offerings, schedules, and / or contact us for a private consultation.