Magical Myofascial Tension Release Balls

So this website is supposed to be primarily about food based nutrition, but I felt a need to post about something that is nutritious to my physical and mental well-being.

I was actually introduced to the whole myofascial release technique by a friend of mine who coincidentally introduced me to the cleanse I did last October as as well. Just incase you are wondering, myoactually means muscle and fascial means connective tissue. So myofascial tension release means releasing the tension in the connective tissue muscles. I was at his home and he showed me how to use these balls, which look a little like foamy golf balls, to release tension in my upper and lower back and shoulders. These balls can also be used on the legs and calves and even the balls of your feet. Sounds awesome, right?

Basically, this tension gets built up over time. We stress, sit at a computer far too long, lift heavy weights, etc. But most of us would never think we could possibly release some of that tension on our own, or at least I wouldn’t have known had my friend not shown me the first time. So, you can use these balls to “unstick” muscle tissues that have glued themselves together and help them return to their normal slide and glide relationship. The therapeutic relief, which may include extreme relaxation, or even crying (there is sometimes emotional release, this happened to me!!!) indicates a healthy release of the tissue to its natural position.

I was working out at Equinox Fitness club this past week and one of the trainers was nice enough to do an informal coaching after an exercise class of how to use these balls in certain areas of your body for the best releases possible. As soon as she brought the balls out, I remembered using them with my friend, and decided it was time for me to get a set of my own so I could do the releases at home.

These balls run anywhere from 12-15 dollars a set, and worth every cent. For those who are active and can’t afford a real live massage every week, using these for 30 minutes a week is like giving yourself your own massage. You can buy them online or at some health clubs, including Equinox. Time to get the ball rolling! 🙂

Amazing Vegetarian Recipe Alert!! Barley Salad With Chickpeas, Fava Beans and Green Peas

I saw this recipe in one of those BuzzFeed lists and it caught my eye. It was a list of recipes that claimed to make you “wanna become a vegetarian” if you aren’t. Well, for the record, I am not, and don’t plan on it, but this delicious little salad is quite a hearty bite and will definitely leave you satisfied. I will say when you prepare this, make sure you don’t leave any of the beans sitting after you cook them before you mix all the ingredients together. I did, because I got busy with something else, and those fava beans in their pot with the little bit of liquid that was left started to look funky, kind of like spaghetti if you leave it in the pot after you cook it without serving it for about…20 minutes…yuck. Sticking to the pot…just a mess. In my opinion, fava beans are somewhat hard to cook properly (until I master them!), but a nice change from lentils.  They are rich in protein, fiber, phyto-nutrients, folate and a bunch of other minerals.

Anyhow, here is the final product…

And below is the recipe….enjoy folks!

 

Barley Salad with Chickpeas, Fava Beans & Peas

Ingredients:
Serves 4

  • 200 g. pearl barley (about 1 cup)
  • 200 g. chickpeas (I used canned ones.), rinsed and drained
  • 200 g. peas, shelled (weighed after shelling from about 800 g. of pods)
  • 200 g. fava beans, shelled (weighed after shelling from about 800 g. of pods)
  • 1/2 – 1 lime or lemon
  • handful of cherry or grape tomatoes, seeded & quartered
  • handful of fresh mint leaves, chopped finely + whole for garnishing
  • handful of fresh basil leaves + whole for garnishing
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  1. Prepare 3 saucepans with water.
  2. In one saucepan with water, add pearl barley.  Add some salt and bring to a boil.  Once it boils, simmer on low fire whatever time the bag tells you (should be 10-12 minutes) or until they are tender.  When they are cooked, rinse under tap, drain and set aside.
  3. Bring the remaining two saucepans with water to a boil.  Add salt when they boil.  In one saucepan, put the green peas.  In the other saucepan, put the fava beans.   Cook the peas for desired time (mine needed 30 minutes) and the fava beans for desired time (these were tricky, needed more like 40-45 minutes).
  4. When the fava beans are cooked, rinse with cold water and drain.
  5. When the peas are cooked, rinse with cold water and drain.
  6. In a big bowl, mix fava beans, peas, barley, tomatoes, chickpeas, onion, mint & basil leaves.
  7. Mix extra virgin olive oil with the juice of 1/2 a lime.  Season with salt & pepper.  If you want it more sour, squeeze the other half.
  8. Pour dressing on the salad.  Mix well.
  9. SIDE NOTE–you can make this dish GLUTEN-FREE by leaving out the barley and adding more beans.

Food For Thought…Searching For Kale In Lake Havasu

Living in Los Angeles, it can be easy to forget how good we have it. And with good, I mean…FOOD! Seriously, where I live in Culver City, I have about 4 Trader Joe’s within a five mile radius, and Sprouts and Whole Foods grocery stores are not much further. We are a food mecca here, we are a plethora of knowledge–dietitians, nutritionists, raw foodists, a variety of cultures, many with amazing foods, MANY of which have redeeming qualities. If I want to eat out and eat healthy, there are a many restaurants in my neighborhood and beyond that serve everything from macrobiotic, vegan, kale and quinoa to whole grain pita organic chicken sandwiches or do-it yourself salads with spinach and arugula, artichoke hearts and beets. Of course, eating out for many people is a time to splurge and have the things they normally wouldn’t eat, like pizza or a burger, but it’s nice to know you ALWAYS have the option to eat healthy.

Looks like Mc Cullough Boulevard in Lake Havasu to me!!

I guess I really forgot about this until this weekend. Taking a trip into Lake Havasu, I knew there wouldn’t be the best options to chose from, but WOW, I guess I forgot how small towns like that rely so heavily on fast food chains. That was pretty much all that I saw. I thought it might be better in the grocery stores, but even there the fruits and vegetables were very basic, and truthfully, they didn’t look so good. I can bet the people who live around there don’t even know what kale is. I bet most of them think eating somewhere nice is Outback Steakhouse. The “nice” restaurant we ate at, which was Italian, tasted good, but truth be told, I don’t think any of us would have eaten there regularly…it was all bread, oil and pasta. And I can guarantee the vegetables in the dish I had were frozen. Mind you, we had also spent the entire day being active on the lake…I wonder how many people in these neighborhoods are active on a regular basis.

I wonder if these people that live around Lake Havasu, or other cities like this, even KNOW what they are missing out on. I wonder if they think eating fast food and jello molds and other random processed foods from the grocery store and feeling lethargic and weighed down all the time is just normal? I wonder if they care? It just makes me sad, because some young girl and/or boy who is a little bit overweight in this city is going to end up starving themselves or taking diet pills if someone doesn’t educate them or their parents, if someone doesn’t show them all the different healthy and delicious food that is out there, or show them how to cook and that variety doesn’t just come on a 99 cent menu, with french fries and a large Coke.

Yelp For Kelp!

Recently, I went to dinner at a popular restaurant in Los Angeles where they specialize in both raw and cooked vegan dishes. While I saw all kinds of amazing healthy options, like lentils and brown rice and of course, my personal favorite, kale, I wanted to try something different.
I noticed in the main entrée section of the menu there was a dish made with kelp noodles. KELP noodles? Like, as in, from the sea kelp? I had never tried such an item before. But the waiter promised me it would be delicious and was a best seller on their menu, so I decided to give it a shot. Below is a picture of the dish when it arrived before me. How glorious does that look? This particular kelp noodle dish is covered in hempseed pesto! I was skeptical, but it was amazing!
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This dish is called ” I Am Liberated” from Cafe Gratitude…I recommend it…especially if it is your first kelp noodle dish.
So now you may ask, what exactly are kelp noodles? Kelp noodles are a food made from kelp (obviously!), an edible brown seaweed that contains high amounts of iodine. Marketed as a low-calorie alternative to pasta and other noodle varieties, kelp noodles contain kelp, sodium alginate (a form of seaweed-derived salt), and water.
There are two types of kelp noodles: green and clear. Green kelp noodles have the consistency of al dente pasta and taste like seaweed. Clear kelp noodles, the more popular type and the type that was in my “pasta” dish, have a relatively bland taste, but some brands have a slightly salty and bitter taste that can be reduced somewhat with thorough rinsing. They are just a tad crunchy, but if you enjoy eating pasta but are watching your carbohydrate intake, they do a pretty good job filling that need.
Kelp noodles are sold in some natural-foods stores and Asian grocery stores and are also available for purchase online.
Since no cooking is required in their preparation, kelp noodles are often marketed to people following a raw food diet, a gluten free diet or trying to avoid starchy carbohydrates. Not all kelp noodles are raw, so read the label or go to the manufacturer’s website if you are looking for raw kelp noodles.
Some advocates claim that kelp noodles offer a wide range of health benefits, partly due to their iodine content. For instance, kelp noodles are said to improve thyroid health, promote weight loss, protect against osteoporosis, and enhance heart health. However, despite these health claims, there is no evidence that consumption of kelp noodles can aid in the prevention or treatment of any health condition.
So, how nutritious are these noodles? Kelp noodles contain no fat, cholesterol, protein, or sugar. Per serving, they typically contain one gram of carbohydrates, one gram of fiber, and 35 milligrams of sodium. In addition, kelp noodles typically provide 15 percent of your daily calcium needs and four percent of your daily iron needs per serving. Most kelp noodles contain fewer than 10 calories per serving.
How much iodine does a person really need? Iodine is a trace mineral and essential nutrient and plays plays a key role in metabolism and thyroid function. Inadequate iodine intake can lead to thyroid problems, such as hypothyroidism.
While kelp is considered a top source of iodine, the exact amount of iodine in kelp noodles is unknown. To reach your daily iodine needs (150 mcg per day for most adults), the National Institute of Health (NIH) recommend following a balanced diet that includes seafood (especially cod, sea bass, haddock, and perch), kelp and other sea vegetables, and moderate amounts of iodized salt.
Since kelp noodles are low in fiber, using them as a substitute for whole-grain pasta or brown rice may significantly reduce your fiber intake. The NIH currently recommends that older children, adolescents, and adults consume 20 to 35 grams of fiber per day. Inadequate fiber intake can cause digestive problems and may contribute to a number of health conditions, including heart disease and diabetes.