Brain Freeze! Help!

brain freeze

That dreaded pain that comes with the first swallow of something frozen – ice cream or a frozen drink of some type – – YIKES.

What causes this fleeting, severe headache, is it harmful and how can you keep it from happening?

“Brain freeze” (it’s technical name is sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia), also called ice-cream headache, results when something very cold touches the back of the palate (roof of your mouth).  It typically occurs on a hot day when you consume something very cold, very quickly.

Scientists don’t fully understand why it happens but they believe it is caused by a dramatic and sudden increase in blood flow through the brain’s anterior cerebral artery. This occurs in response to a rapid change of temperature in the back of your throat.  The brain doesn’t like change so to counteract that cold, the body immediately opens wide the artery to warm the blood.  The brain perceives this action as pain; when the artery constricts again, usually after 10 or 15 seconds, the pain ceases.

Is it serious?  Not usually.  If you experience additional symptoms, such as irregular heartbeat, see your doctor just to make sure.

How do you get it to stop?  There are a couple of things to try.  First, place your tongue on the roof of your mouth to warm it up – do this just as soon as you feel the pain start.  Oh, and immediately stop drinking the cold product!!  You can also consume very cold items more slowly and/or drink sips of a warmer drink between sips of the cold beverage.  Trying not to allow the cold to come in contact with the roof of your mouth for long is helpful.

This is a cool video:

Oh, and cats get it too:



D.I.Y. YUMMY Ramen!!

Calling all Ramen lovers!  Check this out!

Instead of this:


Try this:

ramen in a jar

Not being fond of hyper processed foods, I was thrilled to stumble upon this!  I like to make my own food, but don’t like it to take a lot of time.

This concept fit the bill, perfectly, for lunches.  What it boils down to is basic:

  1. Select a seasoning profile.  Could be any of these or your own favorite:
    • Miso and ginger
    • Garlic and vegetables
    • Ginger and sesame
    • Coconut and ginger
    • Any combination of
      • Sea salt/black pepper
      • Tamari
      • Miso
      • Kimchi
      • Sauerkraut
      • Chili flakes
      • Tomato sauce
      • Garlic
      • Onion
      • Soup base
  1. Decide on a protein source:
    • Slivered chicken breast
    • Diced cooked beef
    • Beef or other jerky, diced
    • Hard-boiled egg
    • Beans, cooked
    • Quinoa, cooked
    • Lentils (so yummy!!)
  1. Pick out your veggies (1/2 of the total finished product!)
    • Raw Veggies:
      • Carrots, shredded
      • Onions, thin sliced or diced
      • Celery, thin sliced
      • Pepper, thin sliced or diced
      • Zucchini, matchsticks
      • Garlic clove, thin sliced
      • Scallions or Shallots, thin sliced
      • Mushrooms, thin sliced
      • Cabbage, shredded
      • Spinach or other green, julienned
    • Cooked veggies;
      • Small broccoli or cauliflower florets
      • Cubes of root veggies
  1. Add Noodles or a grain (par-cooked)
    • Any Asian noodle
    • Spaghetti or fettucine
    • Brown rice
    • Bulgur or barley

Place seasoning in bottom of jar then add protein.  Top with veggies.  Cover. Keep cold.  At lunchtime, fill with boiling water and let sit for a minute or two.  Enjoy!!

Try these fabulous recipes from Goop  or Serious eats.  Build enough of these jars to have several times during the week.  Keep refrigerated 5 – 7 days.

Let me know your favorite combination!

ramen jars

Them bones…

bone healthDid you know that even after you stop growing, your bones continue to develop?  You’ll be well into your twenties before your bones switch into maintenance mode.  A healthy lifestyle is critical to bone health throughout life.

”We often think of a child’s growth largely with respect to height, but overall bone development is also important,” said [lead author] Dr. Shana McCormack, a pediatric researcher at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. ”This study shows that roughly 10 percent of bone mass continues to accumulate after a teenager reaches his or her adult height,” she said in a hospital news release.

Make yours strong:

  • Don’t smoke.   One more thing smoking isn’t good for – your bones.  Don’t start, then you won’t have to quit.
  • Drink your milk! Or eat other calcium rich foods regularly.  This includes dark green leafy vegetables, in addition to all dairy products, beans and tofu.
  • Get enough nutrient dense foods, like fruits, veggies, lean meats and whole grains. Having all the trace nutrients allows your body to mineralize bones.  Vitamin D is particularly important.  You may think of sunshine as a good source of vitamin D.  That is correct!  Spending 20 minutes in the sun, without sunscreen, will allow your body to produce Vitamin D and fish, eggs and mushrooms all contain Vitamin D.
  • Keep being active! Don’t allow the full-time job, mortgage and family that will likely occur as you get older to nudge out your beloved sports.  Continue to participate in community ball clubs and other activities like riding your bike, doing Zumba and practicing yoga.  Weight bearing exercise keeps your bones strong.
  • Don’t drink excessively. Alcohol affects all body systems, including your bones, negatively.  When you drink, stick to the recommended guidelines:  no more than 1 drink / day for women; 2 drinks / men maximum.

Protect your Skin from the Summer Sun


Are you glowing with that summer tan?

Unfortunately there is a pervasive belief in our society that a tan connotes health, affluence and beauty.  You’ll hear that a tan offers protection against sunburn.  The truth is that a tan offers very little protection against sunburn and we’re starting to learn some startling new truths from recent research, namely that UV harms skin cells’ DNA.  This destruction triggers melanogenesis which is a scientific word for production of pigment cells where melanoma (skin cancer) forms.  Some of the time the body’s immune system tracks down these mutations and repairs them; when it doesn’t, skin cancer takes hold.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, a tan is never a good thing from a health perspective.  The only safe tan is a non-UV self-tanner, which may carry its own risks.

Protect yourself!

Here are some things you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones:

  • Wear long sleeves/pants when possible.
  • Use a swim shirt to block UV rays in the pool.
  • Take advantage of a wide brimmed hat.
  • Aim for 20 minutes of sun exposure, avoiding the strong midday sun, for production of Vitamin D before heading for shade or covering up!
  • Use broad spectrum SPF 50 sunscreen. If you’re concerned about chemicals, make your own sunscreen.
  • Apply to face, ears, neck, hands, legs, any exposed skin, 15 minutes before heading into the sun.
  • Reapply after swimming or sweating as even water resistant sunscreens are diluted.
  • Reapply every two hours.


National Institutes of Health / U. S. National Library of Medicine


Undercover Veggies


Undercover Veggies

Vegetables are not everyone’s favorite thing to eat, but the vitamins, minerals and fiber in vegetables and fruits are essential for health. According the USDA, individuals between the ages of 19-30 years old are recommended 2.5-3 cups of vegetables per day… that is not even counting fruit.  It can be difficult to eat that much in just one day! Check out some tips below; eating the recommended amount can become easier, and tastier too, with a little practice.

  1. Include vegetables in your pasta sauce

Be sure to take advantage of fresh and frozen veggies when making your pasta sauce.  You’re looking for 50% of the food on your plate being veggies!!  Add some mushrooms, zucchini, and broccoli into your tomato sauce before mixing in your pasta. For a rich vegetable flavor, use an immersion blender to partially puree the vegetable pieces in the sauce.  Try blending some cauliflower into the cheese sauce of your mac and cheese; you’ll be packing on the vitamins and minerals while giving the sauce a bright flavor.

  1. Kale and spinach blended into your smoothies

This one isn’t groundbreaking; if the flavor of greens isn’t your favorite, try mixing kale or spinach (or both) with tropical fruits such as pineapple, mango and citrus fruits. The powerful flavors of tropical fruits hide the flavors of these leafy greens. It’s a great way to add vitamin K and a serving of vegetables to your smoothies without a trace!

  1. Add zucchini to your baking

This one’s a little bit of a cheat, but adding the zucchini makes it healthy, right? This is for my sweet tooth friends, adding zucchini actually adds moisture to baked products and provides potassium and vitamin C.   So bring on the carrot cake and zucchini muffins when you feel like baking.

  1. Roast up several pounds of veggies once a week

Now you‘ve got ready to eat, cooked veggies at your command.  For the seasons, try:

  • Summer: zucchini and yellow squash, onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, green beans
  • Winter: Acorn, butternut or delicata squash, carrots, beets, parsnips, turnips, onions and cabbage
  • Spring: Asparagus and cabbage along with your root veggies cellared from winter.

Add these to casseroles, salads, and eat with meat meals as you go through the week.

Here is a great resource for roasting veggies.



Your Healthiest Summer yet!



Whether you’re staying home, traveling, or a little of both, check out these tips on how to stay healthy and beat the heat this summer!

Stay Hydrated

  • Purchase a water bottle that keeps drinks cold for longer – some double thickness stainless steel bottles keep ice for 24 hours!
  • Make your own fruit-infused water – lemon rinds add d-limonene, a beneficial plant substance.
  • Avoid drinking alcoholic or sugary beverages in the heat – your body likes water.


Avoid Sunburn

  • Use sunscreen!  Set an alarm on your phone reminding you when to reapply.
  • If you like a summer tan, try a spray tan instead of tanning beds; a tan isn’t worth the risk of developing skin cancer!
  • Look up the current UV rays here

Eat Well

  • To avoid heating up your home, do most of your cooking meal-prep style in the mornings or at night and do some outdoor grilling.
  • Take advantage of all the yummy fruits and veggies in season!
  • Veggies: beets, bell peppers, cucumbers, eggplants, tomatoes, radishes, zucchini
  • Fruits: blueberries, cantaloupe, grapefruit, limes, peaches, strawberries

Follow the balanced plate model for optimal nutrition.  Including a protein rich food and whole grains with your fruits and veggies is the way to go.


Get Fit

  • Exercise early in the morning or late at night when temperatures are cooler
  • Invest in “real” workout clothing that keeps you cool and wicks away sweat – your free basketball t-shirts won’t cut it in this heat!
  • Remember that every body is a summer body; don’t push yourself to injury by trying to obtain a “perfect” beach body… the perfect body doesn’t exist!

Whatever you do, enjoy yourself!





Things to do today to improve your tomorrow


When a person has no aches and pains and no major health concerns, it’s easy to forget that such luxury is not forever. For most of us, there will come a day when our bones are not as strong, our muscles not as flexible, and our joints not as pain free. However, taking care of yourself early can really improve how you feel in the future. Staying healthy later in life starts early, and there are many small habits and routines you can develop to keep your body running it’s best as you age. In addition to eating your fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, here are some easy things you can do now, for a better tomorrow.


Weight Bearing Exercise

Most exercises are beneficial long and short term, however weight bearing exercises in particular can help in strengthening your bone for the future. Bone fractures are very prominent in older individuals because as a person ages, bones naturally begin to weaken and deteriorate. This process can be slowed down by reaching a higher bone density peak. Exercises involving weight and resistance maintains and builds bone density. In addition, it improves strength and muscle mass for better balance.


Find Time to De-stress

Stress is clearly not a positive emotion but it also has negative long term effects. Studies have shown a link between stress and heart disease. This is largely due to the short term effects of stress; stress often causes people to overeat, smoke, and be involved in other health depreciating activities.


Limit Alcohol Consumption

Though alcohol has been known to have heart protective properties, more often than not, people misunderstand other implications. Drinking to excess can raise blood pressure, weaken the heart’s ability to circulate blood, and increase cancer and stroke risks. In addition, long term alcohol use can lead to the risk of brain damage and neurobehavioral defects. This is because alcohol affects the sensitive chemical balance in the brain, which also can have negative effects on emotional state.


Regular Visits to the Doctor

It may not seem like you need to visit the doctor if you are not experiencing any medical concerns, but problems can sometimes surface without detectable warning. High blood pressure and high cholesterol are virtually undetectable without medical screening. Keep yourself in check by making sure your body is as healthy on the inside as you feel on the outside.


Protect Your Skin

As the weather gets warmer, tanning and sunbathing tends to become a go to activity for many people. While sun-kissed skin may be highly desirable, sun exposure is linked with skin cancer, which is one of the most common types of cancers in the United States. Effects of skin cancer are also undetectable until years down the line. Keep your skin protected now and limit your sun exposure, wear sunscreen, and cover up as much as you comfortably can.


Remember that preventing one is more effective than trying to fix a health problem. Though everything seems fine right now, as you age you may realize that many health concerns could have been prevented if you had developed good habits earlier in life. Look out for your future and aim to live a long and healthy life.