Written by: Natalie Davidson, WEC Team Leader and Team Supervisor
Staying healthy this fall and winter is likely higher on your priority list than usual. Because these seasons typically bring more colds and flu, plus the fact that we are still in a pandemic, are all motivating reasons to take extra good care of yourself during this time. Here are 5 helpful nutritional tips to help keep you at your optimal health this season.
1) Eat with the Season
Peak season produce not only tastes better but it is also better for you! When you choose fruits and veggies that are grown in their appropriate season, they will be more nutrient dense than those grown out of season. Items to enjoy for the next couple of months include winter squashes, beets, carrots, parsnips, cabbages, radishes, turnips, fennel, potatoes, brussel sprouts and apples.
2) Spice it Up
The familiar spices that are reminiscent of fall and winter treats bring both warming flavors and healthy benefits. Cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger and cardamom each offer an abundance of antioxidant, a boost to the immune system, as well as many other healing properties. Try adding some spice to your morning oatmeal or smoothie, to soups, sprinkled on sweet potatoes or winter squashes or even mixed in with your tea or coffee.
3) Eat the Rainbow
Coloring your plate with a variety of veggies not only looks pretty (we eat with our eyes first!), but it also ensures you are getting an array of nutrients to help optimize health. The spectrum of colors comes from different phytonutrients found within the plant. Each color of phytonutrient has specific health benefits and they all assist the body with detoxification and strengthening immunity. When you plan your meals or choose your produce each week, make it a point to include and select many different colors.
4) Limit Sugar Intake
With so many festive treats bringing temptation during the fall and winter, limiting sugar intake is not always an easy thing to do. While I don’t believe you should deprive yourself completely, I do encourage you to make mindful choices. Sometimes a taste is all you need to satisfy your sweet tooth, so try having a bite or two rather than over indulging. Aside from offering empty calories and zero nutritional value, sugar can lower the immune system response. It is also highly inflammatory, which can lead to disease.
5) More than the Food We Eat
Remember that we feed ourselves in all different ways. The food we choose to eat is our primary nutrition and of course very important. Just as important is all of the other ways that we choose to nourish ourself. Make sure you are getting adequate rest each night. Stay hydrated, aiming to have half your weight in ounces of water. Move your body each day. Spend time in nature. Find ways to help manage stress such as meditation, breathing practices, tai chi or journaling. Spend time doing more of what brings you joy!
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
My favorite butternut squash soup recipe is cozy, delicious and nutritious! This soup is a great way to incorporate seasonal produce and spices, is naturally sugar free and an easy way to add the color orange to your diet. Plus, it’s super easy to make!
• 1 butternut squash, medium sized
• 2 cups of vegetable broth
• 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
• 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
• 1 stalk of celery, chopped
• 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and chopped
• 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced
• 1 sprig of fresh sage
• ½-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• Dash of nutmeg
• Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
• Pinch of crushed red pepper or to taste (optional)
• 1 can of coconut milk (full fat)
1) Roast your butternut squash- Cut butternut squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and stringy pieces from each half. Place squash cut side up onto a baking sheet and brush each half lightly with oil of choice (I use avocado oil). Season with salt and pepper. Roast the squash in a 400° oven for about 45 minutes, or until soft. Remove from oven and allow squash to cool. Once cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh of the squash out of the peel, into a bowl, and set aside.
2) In a large soup pot, heat about a tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Saute onion, carrot and celery until they become soft, about 5 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook for a minute longer.
3) Add broth, squash, apple, sage, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and pepper and stir well. Bring mixture to a boil, stir again and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover the pot and allow the soup to simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4) Remove the sprig of sage. Stir in the coconut milk and crushed red pepper (optional).
5) Puree the soup by using and immersion blender or a regular blender. If you use the regular blender be careful not to overfill the blender jar and blend in batches.
6) Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning as needed.
7) Serve soup with a colorful salad and topped with your favorite garnishes such as toasted pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, slivered almonds or sharp cheddar cheese.
Written by: Patti Chenis, WEC Team Supervisor
Contemplative Practices/ meditation/mindfulness are beneficial ways to strengthen our wellbeing, resilience, and develop a fuller capacity to recognize the healing power in one’s heart to work with stress and difficult challenges.
Mindfulness is knowing what you are doing as you are doing it. It is bring awareness to your present moment lived experience. Bringing our attention to breathing is one of the most widely used objects of meditation and anchor for our attention. Continually coming back to the attention and awareness of our breath brings a sense of precision, (being in the present moment-connecting to our life force of breath) gentleness, (allowing whatever is arising e.g. thoughts, emotions, sensations to be as they are without without judgement and returning to our awareness of breath) and openness ( being curious about the richness and fullness of our experience).
Mindfulness can be developed as a formal practice on meditation cushion, chair, standing up, lying down or walking meditation. The point of meditation is to remember to bring mindfulness (that conscious awareness of being in our present lived experience) into daily life, so you could say any aspect our our lives can be a mindfulness practice.
Her are some thoughts about bringing mindfulness, loving kindness, self compassion and compassion into daily life.
- Deep Conscious Breaths
Taking some deep conscious breaths in the morning or when ever you feel stressed, anxious, overwhelmed or want a fresh restart in you daily life. Before you do something stress- full, step back and take some deep breaths; research shows deep breaths calm the nervous system.
Walking (especially getting out and enjoying nature), yoga, tai chi, qigong, dancing to your favorite music, laughter (full belly laughs can do wonders for the spirit-try it), singing your favorite song(s); crying (allow yourself to feel the release that crying can bring e.g. tears of sadness, joy) whatever gets your energy moving and flowing.
- Self-compassion and compassion practices
Dispel the myths that self-compassion is selfish or that we are not worthy of love and wellbeing. Research show that offering words of loving kindness to oneself changes our brain and improves our resilience, strengthens our immune system and increases our capacity to be of benefit to others. When we feel resourced and have a sense of well-being our capacity to work with stress and difficult emotions is greater.
Good Morning Practice:
Good morning (put your name here) I love you. You can repeat this in the morning or anytime during the day to interject some good will toward oneself or someone else in your life if it is difficult to say this about yourself at first.
Compassion is not only feeling empathy and emotional connection to the suffering of others but also wanting to relieve that suffering. It is the courage to open our hearts to our own suffering as well as that of others and that we are all interconnected, in the same boat so to speak. We can offer words of care and loving kindness to ourselves, mentors( someone who has been kind to us) friends, strangers, difficult people, as well as to all beings as we open our heart of compassion to include all. May I and all beings have happiness, well being, safety, health and live at ease and in harmony.
Our Caregiver Support Group is free to family and friends of Windhorse Elder Care clients.
Facilitated by Kathy Emery, MA, LPC and Lou Stenger, M.A., M.S.
How might supporting our loved one through (often challenging) mental, physical, and emotional changes impact our relationships? How might this process influence the roles we play in one another’s lives? It is an understatement to say that witnessing the changes in our loved ones that occur with aging can be painful, sad, distressing, and anxiety provoking. – By Avery McKenzie, MA, SPT, LPCC
Please join with us in supporting one another on this journey of caring for our loved ones. Our Caregiver Support Group can offer you the opportunity to meet other caregivers and share your wisdom and challenges.
How the Caregiver Support Group is Structured
The facilitators welcome all participants and introductions are made to newcomers. Each participant then checks in about how they are doing and facilitators help each person identify their most pressing need or describe the highlight of their week. This is all held in confidence by group members.
This meeting is held in an atmosphere of acceptance, kindness and nonjudgement.
Topics We Often Discuss
- Current COVID challenges
- How to stay connected with our loved ones during quarantine — when we can’t visit in person
- Grief, loss
- Dynamics with other family members around parents’ care
- How to work with challenging behaviors
- Self Care
This is a free, drop-in group offered by Windhorse Elder Care. For more information, email us at: email@example.com
Dear Friends of Windhorse Elder Care,
It’s Juneteenth, and we believe today should be a national holiday.
On this incredibly important and historic day for our country, more than two years after President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation at the end of the Civil War, the enslaved people of Galveston, TX were freed at last. We celebrate it as a day of progress, but there is a very long way to go in the journey to racial equity and true freedom in this country. On this day, we as an organization are committing to doing better.
We are taking action in the following ways:
-By clearly stating on our website and to our wider community that we stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement against police brutality of the black community
-Adding additional race-specific diversity training as a requirement for all staff
-Offering ongoing resources for further personal education on inequality and systemic racism, and creating spaces for the uncomfortable conversations needed to grow in becoming more intentionally anti-racist. We are working on compiling an ever-growing library of resources on these topics that will be easily accessible through our website and internal web portals.
-Donating to causes that are supporting this movement and linking opportunities to staff to do the same
-Actively recruiting more BIPOC staff
-Heightening our awareness day in and day out around inequities for BIPOC, and actively advocating for positive change and more race-specific issue awareness within our wider elder care community in Boulder
Please reach out to us with further ideas on how we can do better as a community. We are fiercely committed to listening, learning, and growing. We invite your voices and ideas and feedback.
In humble solidarity,
Jyoti Sharp and the Windhorse Leadership Team