5 More Healthy Habits

Awhile back I wrote about 5 Healthy Habits, and today I have 5 more for you. I share these because well – I think we all need as much healthy inspiration as we can get (I know I do). I think a healthy/balanced body is LIFE CHANGING and it is key to a happy life and a happy relationship. I know that from experience. I would be an absolute MESS if I didn’t take care of myself. (Been there, done that.)
1. Kombucha
I kept hearing about Kombucha – the probiotic wonder drink made from a fermented mushroom. My friend Tina, in Brooklyn, drinks it regularly, many readers here drink it, and many health websites have been raving about it. Well, we came to Ecuador and twice within one week we were offered Kombucha in different homes. OK, it was mighty time to get on the band wagon. And now we have a freaking live Kombucha mushroom starter in our kitchen, which we brought home in a plastic bag. Oh my. It freaks me out! But it tastes pretty good, actually. I can drink a glass of it with little sips. It tastes like a lightly fermented apple cider.  🙂 Cheers!
My secret: Get a kombucha starter from someone who makes it regularly (the thing multiplies). You can probably find one on Craigslist or at a local healthy restaurant/cafe. We got one from a new friend here in Cuenca. Kitchn has a tutorial for how to make it at home. Or, you can buy Kombucha pre-made at most health food stores. (image from Kitchn) Any Kombucha fans out there??
2. Raw Cacao Instead of Chocolate Bars
I used to get tricked into buying dark chocolate bars “for the health benefits.” Oh brother. All those articles praising the antioxidant power of chocolate are unfortunately just helping us all to feed our sugar addictions that take hold on the aisles of Trader Joe’s. But, RAW CACAO (w/ no sugar added) on the other hand – – now that’s worth buying for the health benefits. I guess I just never bought it due to the expense and because it wasn’t readily available. But in Ecuador, the cacao capital of the world, you can buy slabs or chunks of raw chocolate with no sugar and no dairy. I’ve been melting it down, adding chopped almonds, shredded coconut, a sprinkle of sea salt, vanilla, coconut oil, and a little bit of stevia or raw honey. It’s AMAZING!!! And, of course, I’m so happy to get all those antioxidants. 🙂 If you want to make your own chocolate bars, too, you can use a high quality raw cocoa and follow one of many recipes, like this one. (also, peanut butter, anyone? 🙂
My Secret: If I ever find myself craving sugar, I try going off of it completely for say 2 wks. By then I don’t even miss it. I swear, once the stuff gets out of your system, you could go for weeks – or months – and not even think about it.
3. No More Canned Food
I’ll admit, we used to consume canned beans a lot, just for the convenience. Danny would flavor them and they tasted delicious. But the cans always came with a dose of BPA and that really started to become more and more unappetizing the more I read the studies and warnings. BPA screws with your hormones and mimics estrogen in your body. (Read what Dr. Lipman has to say about it here.) So now, we are can-free. All our beans are made from either dried beans (which is much cheaper than canned food anyway) or here in Ecuador, we are actually eating fresh beans straight out of the pod. But if you do still need beans out of can, Eden Organic has BPA free cans. Trader Joe’s carries BPA free cans for canned beans, canned corn, canned fish, canned poultry, and canned beef (but not soups or chilis). And if you also use canned coconut milk like us, you can buy BPA free cans from Natural Value or Native Forest (or make your own coconut milk from scratch, something I plan to try soon.)
My Secret: For made-from-scratch beans, just get the beans soaking! That is the easy part and commits you to the rest. Lucky me, Danny does the rest in the pressure cooker. 🙂 🙂
4. Walking (or Running) DAILY!! 
Oh how I miss my walks in Prospect Park. That place. Oh man. BUT – I have found a great place for walks here in Cuenca. There are FOUR rivers running through the city and most of them have maintained walkways on either side. I have loooved walking along those rivers and listening to the water as I walk. This river is about 3 minutes from our door.
My Secret: I try to walk everywhere I can. This way I’m still getting in a walk daily even if I am not at the river. My other secret is to get a walking partner. I had the BEST walking partner in Brooklyn – how I miss our walks! Though Danny has been a very willing partner here. 🙂
5. Hats

I love it when style and health collide. That kinda happens with hats!! I can’t believe that in my twenties I wanted to be tan. That couldn’t be further from my mind now and it just baffles me that I actually thought it was a good idea to damage and age my skin in my youth – not to mention risk disease. So now, I do not leave the house without a hat. My favorite hat these days is this one from ASOS. I’ve been wearing it all over Ecuador. I love that it has an extra wide brim…my panama hats just don’t give enough coverage.
My Secret: I have hard time finding hats that fit, so sometimes I’ll look for hats in the men’s section OR I’ll take my hats to a hat shop and have them stretch and steam the hat for a perfect fit. I know Goorin Brothers can do that for you in Brooklyn & Manhattan.

Any healthy habits that you’ve been able to pull off lately? I LOVE, LOVE hearing your ideas!!

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  1. rachel June 2, 2014 at 6:44 pm - Reply

    I love the tip for raw cacao! I love mixing cacao nibs into almond butter with an apple or into my greek yogurt in the morning to give me a boost, but have yet to try anything with the powdered stuff. My newest healthy habit has been working on meal planning for my breakfasts and lunches at the office to ensure they're full of whole foods that give me plenty of energy throughout the day.

  2. Amanda June 2, 2014 at 9:11 pm - Reply

    Danny, will you please please post your seasoning the bean's secrets?? I LOVE the beans and rice when I visit Ecuador but haven't figured out how to duplicate the spice ratios back home. Since you love to cook, I'm sure you've figured out the the secret spice combo. Please share! Thankyou!!

    • danny June 2, 2014 at 9:30 pm - Reply

      I will be working on posting something. I think I figured out how to do the traditional beans down here, but part of what Mara is referring to is when I spice beans up mexican style. We really love having our beans with a little bit of kick/heat to them…and I can definitely post that. I've been meaning to for a while.

      In the meantime, you can figure out most of my trade secrets by going to this book – Truly Mexican: Essential Recipes and Techniques for Authentic Mexican Cooking

      I totally live by that thing, and his recipes for Black Beans, and Fast Mash Beans, are essentially the base of all the bean awesomeness Mara talks about.

  3. Anonymous June 2, 2014 at 9:22 pm - Reply

    It is refreshing and inspiring to hear you healthy life changes. I always feel the counter culture at Mormon events when gross cheap food is served or in public education to my children, or at relatives and neighbors. I feel it is hard to change habits for a husband and three sons; but I try to make small changes, and not worry too much about "controlling" them, if I am positive and upbeat about my healthy changes, they seem to follow along…baby steps. And if anything else, I relish in your healthy lifestyle. Thank you for sharing! 🙂 Audrey

  4. Abi Abbott June 3, 2014 at 8:36 am - Reply

    I don't drink coffee or tea but my new favourite thing to have in the morning is 'hot chocolate' although I make it a little differently. I add warm (not boiled) almond milk to raw cocoa powder, coconut oil, raw honey (sometimes I use dates instead if I have them) and cinnamon then mix with an immersion blender. This makes a really delicious creamy chocolate drink!

    • mara June 4, 2014 at 8:21 pm - Reply

      I want to spend the morning at your house. That sounds amazing!

  5. Anonymous June 3, 2014 at 2:00 pm - Reply

    I love your healthy habits posts! : )
    Thanks for sharing!

  6. Jessica Hall June 3, 2014 at 4:51 pm - Reply

    I love Kombucha, I started drinking it last summer when a friend of mine had me try hers. If my stomach is acting up and I need to rebalance again I drink one every day for a week and then I am good again. There is also a Kombucha tea that I will drink too in the morning and evenings its not as strong but it is still good and does help my sensitive stomach out. Thank you for your tips.

  7. linsey June 4, 2014 at 1:45 am - Reply

    After reading this article I think you'll enjoy ( http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/05/26/speaking-up-about-an-uncomfortable-condition/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_php=true&_type=blogs&smid=tw-nytimeswell&seid=auto&_r=1& ) , a big change I'm making is to let my kids eat some dirt here and there! (Within reason, this is NYC and not a country farm…)

  8. Jenny D. June 4, 2014 at 4:28 am - Reply

    We've been slowly clearing out all processed foods and have come a long, long way in regards to sugar/dairy/gluten as well, we just feel so much better when we don't eat them. Now that we've been doing this for awhile, two of the last few things I've been holding onto are my dark chocolate chips and canned beans. You've given me a little push to keep going! I've also been curious about kombucha, I've always heard it referred to as fermented tea so I've been skeptical and leery of it. I'll have to do some more research on it. Thanks for your tips!

  9. Anonymous June 4, 2014 at 6:05 pm - Reply

    As a fellow member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and with my current goal of building up food storage, this post has made me wonder what you guys use for food storage? Do you have canned items for food storage but not daily use?

  10. Maggie June 4, 2014 at 6:51 pm - Reply

    So true about going off sugar. I made it a goal to go sugar-free in 2014, and I don't have cravings at all anymore! It is so empowering. Not to mention I have more energy and my workouts give better results.

  11. Anonymous June 7, 2014 at 2:23 am - Reply

    My husband makes kombucha with Yerba mate instead of black tea and then mixes it with juice and does a second fermentation in bottles without the mushroom. It gets fizzy and tastes like tart soda pop. The different flavors are fun.

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