For those of you who have been reading my newsletters for a while, you know that this is my favorite one to write each year (and I missed 2013 because we were dealing with an unexpected remodel due to the Boulder floods)!
For those of you new to reading my newsletters, every year I highlight 10 of my favorite things from the past year. If you missed my picks from the last several years, you can check them out: Debbie’s Favorite Things 2012; Debbie’s Favorite Things 2011; Debbie’s Favorite Things 2010; Debbie’s Favorite Things 2009; Debbie’s Favorite Things 2008; Debbie’s Favorite Things 2007.
And here are my favorites from 2014!
- Our Groceries App. I know it’s a bold statement, but this app has improved our lives! I have recommended it to clients and actually received “thank you” calls/emails because they feel the same way! Not only does it allow you to keep your list all in one place (on your phone-which is probably always with you-unlike that scrap of paper you used to write your list on!) but also lets you create multiple lists. We have lists for Whole Foods, Costco, Target, Amazon….as well as wish-lists for each kid, small improvement projects that need to get done at our house, etc. The best feature is that you can “share” your list with anyone in your household so you can each view it on your phone. This is great because although I am the one who does the shopping 98% of the time, if my husband uses up the last roll of paper towels or wants me to buy more of his favorite tea, he just types it into his phone and it appears on mine! This app appeals to my uber-organized nature but has helped even my clients who are not inherently organized streamline their shopping trips.
- Ozuke. It was back in 2000 that Paul Pitchford studied my eyes and told me that I had a parasite and that I needed to eat sauerkraut. I am not quite sure about the parasite but I am pretty sure that I would have benefited greatly if I had actually consumed the sauerkraut for the last 14 years! The problem was that I bought one jar of it (at his recommendation-the good fermented, live, probiotic rich stuff) and I just didn’t like it. In fact, I ate every spoonful literally holding my breath while I chewed and swallowed. That didn’t feel healing!! Over the years I learned more and more about the benefits of these cultured foods and this year decided to give them another try. As I stared at the shelf at Whole Foods (there are far more options now then in 2000!) I landed on Ozuke dill & caraway…..and it was love at first bite! I love the taste and my body literally craves it! I try to eat a heaping Tablespoonful or two with each meal (if you do try it, start slowly. These are live probiotic rich foods! More on this in another newsletter….). My husband’s pick is the Just Juniper. Play around and see what you like!
- Kefirs. Let’s stay on the topic of cultured foods for another minute. After my rendezvous with Ozuke above, I got bolder and decided to make my own yogurts and kefirs. If you missed our newsletter in the spring about making our super-easy coconut yogurt with your favorite probiotic, you can check it out here. You can also read my favorite website about the many benefits of probiotic rich kefirs (again, they are live foods so start slowly). Roy and I have had a blast making them all! Water kefir, young coconut water kefir and creamy coconut milk kefir. The milk kefirs are creamy and slightly sour, like yogurt. The water kefirs have a slightly tart/tangy taste that our 4-year old described best when she said “every time I take a sip of it, it bites my tongue”.
- Creamy Chocolate Coconut Mousse Recipe. When you purchase as many coconuts as we did this summer (for the coconut water kefir), you need to find a use for all that good coconut “meat”. Well do I have a recipe to share…..free of nearly every allergen (unless of course you are allergic to coconuts) this gluten/dairy/egg/soy/nut free dessert is creamy, decadent, and so easy!
- Race to Nowhere. This film is a must-view for every parent. It’s a film that calls us to challenge our current thinking about how we prepare our children for success: by over-scheduling, over-testing and the relentless pressure to achieve. With three children of our own and a business focused on children, this is a topic that is very important to us. Many schools across the country are hosting viewings of this movie, so check and see if your kids’ school is one. (I was able to borrow a copy from our local library.)
- Homemade Deodorant. Last summer my sister turned me on to her favorite homemade deodorant when we were together at the beach. I used it for a week and loved it and she was kind enough to send me home with her batch. I was quickly reminded (the hard way) on our 10-hour trip from New Jersey back to Colorado that, although solid in your bathroom cabinet, the coconut oil WILL liquefy in heat!! I re-made it at home and have used it since. I love it and I think it works better than any natural deodorant I have ever come across. But do travel with something else during warm-weather months.
- Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof that You Can Heal Yourself. As a psych major in college I was fascinated by the stories of people with multiple personality disorder who were insulin dependent diabetics in one personality yet had perfect blood sugar control in another. Or the women who so badly wanted to get pregnant that her belly actually grew. How is this possible? Dr. Lissa Rankin might argue that it’s the power of our minds and our beliefs.In her research, Dr. Rankin discovered that the health care she had been taught to practice in Medical School was missing something crucial: a recognition of the body’s innate ability to self-repair and an appreciation for how we can control these self-healing mechanisms with the power of the mind. I loved this book and was blown away by some of the jaw-dropping statistics she cited such as:
-30 percent of patients in a control group for a new chemotherapy drug were given nothing but saline (salt water) and 30% of them lost their hair.
-Hospitalized patients in another study were given sugar water and were told that it would make them throw up and 80% of them vomited.
-The opposite of this is true too: seeing a practitioner who believes in the treatments he/she prescribes and in their patients’ abilities to heal has been statistically shown to lead to a better prognosis for the patient.
I could honestly write a whole newsletter on this topic alone because I have been on both sides of this in my own healing journeys. I’ve been “medically hexed” by doctors who instill fear in me and label things as “chronic” or “incurable”…….and I’ve had a hard time getting well. On the flip side, I’ve also had my “relaxation response” elicited by encouraging practitioners who share stories of healing and words of encouragement…..and I often get better faster!
- RunSafe App. A local Boulder mom created this app (link no longer available) with her husband after slipping on ice while she was running with her 11-month old son, nearly landing him in an icy creek. Thankfully both she and her son were fine, but nonetheless RunSafe was born. I am a regular hiker and Roy is an avid mountain biker and having an app like this on our phone simply made sense to us! Basically, you decide who your emergency contacts are, and it will send your primary contact (or all if you choose) a text that you are starting your workout. They can track your location to see where you are. And if you were ever in a dangerous situation, the panic feature will notify your contacts and alert them to your location. When I emailed them a thank-you, telling them what a great idea this was, she was kind enough to offer a lifetime free subscription to our readers (a $50/year value). Click here to download (link no longer available) it is available for free through 2014! The great thing to note about this app is that although it was designed for use during exercise, it could certainly be used the same way in any scary/dangerous situation-like in a NYC cab (for example).
- Cows Gone Coconut. Dairy free ice cream just keeps getting better and better. There are many good and healthier options these days but this summer we fell in love with the Strawberry flavor from Cows Gone Coconut. It’s creamy, not overly sweet, and best topped with our home-grown raspberries!
- Name Bubbles. As a mom, it’s funny what things become “revolutionary”. These labels are dishwasher and washing machine safe and help you keep track of your kids’ clothes, shoes, lunch Tupperware, water bottles, etc. For a relatively small investment, they have helped us keep track of items we may have otherwise had to replace. And with their cute colors and designs, kids can get creative in choosing their own personal label.