9 Travel Tips for Women

January 6th, 2011

- Staying Healthy and Safe

Statistics indicate more and more of us women are vacationing or taking business trips alone. You may or may not be heading off on a Himalayan tour, but you may indeed find yourself traveling alone in a new and unknown place. I myself have been on many trips by myself in unfamiliar cities when I was still working in the corporate world. This led me to write my travel ebook on information, tips and tricks that I have either researched or personally come up with that I have found useful.  So I decided to post a few of them here and hope they come in handy for you ladies out there when you go on your next trip – be it to the wilds of Kenya, a Himalayan adventure, or to your client meeting in Toronto.

Some of these tips were added to the travel checklists through the years.

  • Pack some toothache medicine. Depending on where you are, you may not want a local dentist as instruments may not be properly sterilized.
  • Take a small container of Vaseline. It is a great anti-friction ointment and can be used on feet to prevent calluses and blisters, or as lip balm.
  • Carry some baby wipes to freshen up your face and any other parts of your body when you do not have access to water.
  • Depending on where you are, flowing skirts conveniently cover your legs when you are sightseeing in churches and temples, and are a perfect coverage for emergency bathroom breaks out in nature.
  • To counteract jet lag, once you get to your destination, expose yourself to as much sunlight as possible as natural sunshine will sync your circadian rhythm to your new environment.
  • Take a door stopper to lodge under your hotel room door for extra safety. This is very handy for hotels without safety latches.
  • Looping your money belt around the belt loops of your pants make it harder for thieves to run off with it.
  • Hotel reception should not say your room name aloud. If they do, ask for a different room.
  • Take a pedometer and track how many miles you walk during your vacation. You may log thousands of miles as you are sightseeing and give you a great sense of accomplishment you can brag about when you get back and it will motivate you to walk more, which is good for your health.

Happy Travels and Stay Healthy and Safe!

Rich Memories of a Simple Christmas

December 23rd, 2010

The holiday season is a very stressful time for many people. I am especially conscious of how mu1 (20)ch we spend, both in time and money.

So I thought I would take a few moments to focus on a couple of memories of a simpler time. I also hope you share some of your memories so we can all benefit from the pleasure of reading them during this time of hectic activity.

I grew up with my grandparents  in Meghalaya, India – a State that is primarily Christian. The Christmas season was very exciting for me as a child and I could not wait for it to arrive. There were never any presents under the tree but that was not what it was all about.

One of my favorite memories every year was a beautiful little cake with royal icing that my grandmother would bring out for us to enjoy – a slice with our tea at midnight on Christmas eve  (I would always get the roses from the cake as a special treat). We only bought a cake with icing at Christmas time so you can imagine how special that was.

The rest of the cake would be carefully put away to share with our extended family members who would be paying their respects to my grandparents on Christmas day. Although we celebrated modestly, we were rich with the loving presence of our family and friends.

The music of angels, or so I thought…

Another special memory was waking up in the middle of the night and hearing carols. I was raised in the Himalayan foothills of India and the nights were very cold but some folks were out there caroling! Can you imagine being snug inside warm blankets listening to this beautiful music on a cold dark night?

You see, there are a group of tribal people in the town I lived in known as the Mizos who were blessed with some of the most wonderful voices and certainly to me as a child they sounded like a choir of angels, similar to what the shepherds heard a long long time ago when Jesus was born.

I hope you enjoy the video below sung by these tribal people – the singers are different but the style and beauty of the music is the same.

YouTube Preview Image

Although my grandparents and aunt have long passed away, these treasured moments and memories are a beautiful part of my life that I would not trade for all the toys in the world. Although gifts are nice, one does not need very much to enjoy the beauty of this season – loved ones, music, a little desert, it was enough.

What memories do you have of this special season that were meaningful to you? Please share and let us help each other be aware of the simpler pleasures and values amidst the commercialization that surrounds us.

I look forward to your comments.

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The Manufacturing of Tea – Part III

December 2nd, 2010

Tea-TastingWhen you are taking part in tours of the Himalayas, I hope you are able to visit a tea manufacturing place. This is my final discussion on teas and today’s topic is on the healing qualities and health benefits of teas.

All types of tea contain flavonoids, which are powerful antioxidants. These flavonoids in tea also help maintain bone mineral density, reducing osteoporosis and preventing fractures as we age. Green tea flavonoids stimulate the body’s ability to burn calories by increasing fat oxidation and raising the metabolism.

Dr. Jack Bukowski of Harvard Medical School concludes that the flavonoids and antioxidants found in tea may inhibit the formation of cancer cells, and protect the cardiovascular system by decreasing free radicals.

Flavonoids also work as anti-clotting agents, enhance the body’s immune functions, lower LDL cholesterol levels while raising HDL, boost longevity, assist digestion, and lower blood pressure.

So bottoms up to a nice cup of tea!

You can read more about teas, tips on making a perfect cup, as well as my yummy chai recipe in my book, The Deity Diet.

The Manufacturing of Tea – Part II

November 16th, 2010

Tea Worker

In my last blog post I discussed the withering process of tea after the leaves are initially plucked.

In this 2nd part of my three part blog post, I will discuss fermentation and oxidation process, and the differences between green tea, oohlong, black and white teas.

Once the withering process is completed and the essential oils and enzymes are released, the next stage is the fermentation process, which involves oxidization of the leaves in a humid atmosphere for up to four hours. During the fermentation process oxidation takes place, and the leaves change from dark green to a rusty brown color. After this, the tea is ready for drying and hot air is again passed over the leaves.

The black tea is marked and ready for testing by an expert tea taster, who describes the tea, documents it, and issues a certificate of release. The manufacturing process for black tea is now complete: it is ready for storage and transportation to the marketplace.

Green tea does NOT go through the fermentation process however. The veins in the leaves are not broken; instead, the leaves are steamed to destroy the enzymes that would otherwise lead to oxidation. This is why green tea retains its green color and delicate flavor.

Oolong (which means “black dragon” in Chinese) tea, manufactured in the Fujian province of China, is fermented for a much shorter span of time than black tea, ending at about the halfway point. Oolong teas are a cross between black and green teas, with a shorter fermentation process than black, but longer than the green.

White tea is a relatively new type of tea. It is the rarest of teas, as there is only a small window of time when the leaves can be picked – just a few weeks each year. The processing method for white tea involves raising the small silvery hairs on the leaves and buds. White tea is known for its anti-oxidant and detoxifying properties.

In my next blog post I will conclude with Part 3 which highlights different studies and research into the health benefits of the different types of teas.

The Manufacturing of Tea – Part 1

November 10th, 2010

Tea-workers1

Because my wellness boot camps in India are at a 1600-acre tea plantation, my guests and I have the good fortune of seeing how tea is maHimalayan Boot Camp 029nufactured from the initial picking of the “two leaves and a bud” until the tea is packaged for the open markets, so I thought I would share with you how this process works.

It starts with the harvesting of the tea leaves where as I had mentioned above, only the bud and the two youngest leaves are plucked. My boot camp guests and I are so fortunate to have the pleasure of hiking amongst the many trails and tea bushes of the vast estate and frequently come across the workers who manually do this harvesting, a pretty labor intensive process.

Drying of tea

And did you know that an experienced worker can pick up to 60 pounds of tea a day which produces about 15 pounds of the final product.

These freshly picked leaves are spread out on trays and hot air is blown over them for up to twenty four hours to drive out the moisture. This is known as the withering process and during this phase the leaves lose about 40% of their weight. During the drying process the leaves turn a dark shade of green. Leaves that are to be made into black tea are then rolled and broken up with machines to release their enzymes and essential oils, preparing them for the oxidation process.

In my next post (part 2 of 3), I will discuss the oxidation and fermentation process.  Part 3 will be the final section on tea where you will find out how manufacturing is done to create black, green, oolong, and white teas and what makes these teas different from each other.

Sprouted Moong Bean Salad

November 4th, 2010

Sprouted Moong Bean Salad

Every month or so for many years now, a group of my friends and I get together for an evening of laughter, fun and feasting that has included my friend Tiffany’s Vietnamese Spring Rolls (absolutely divine!), Nima’s Turkey Meatball Curry (out of this world delicious!) or most recently Vani’s Sprouted Moong Bean Salad, which was not only refreshing and super healthy, but tasted amazing.

Today I am sharing with you the Sprouted Moong Bean Salad recipe, compliments of Vani. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sprouted moong beans
  • 1 medium size pickle style cucumber, cut into cubes
  • 2 medium tomatoes cut into cubes
  • ½ yellow pepper cut into pieces
  • ½ cup shredded carrot
  • ½ cup shredded cabbage

Dressing

  • 1 table spoon lime juice
  • 1 tea spoon ginger juice
  • 1 table spoon yogurt
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp roasted grounded cumin seeds
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cilantro to garnish

Whisk all ingredients for dressing together, pour over the beans and let it sit together for about 10 minutes. Add all the vegetables in a bowl and layer the beans on top and gently toss it all together.. Garnish with cilantro.

For Children with Nowhere To Go…

August 6th, 2010
Salaam

Picture source: salaambaalaktrust.com

If you are in the New Delhi area of India and would like to participate in an unusual experience – you may want to take an inner city walk with the Salaam Baalak Trust.

This organization works with street children in Delhi, providing them with a caring, secure environment which includes five 24-hour full care shelters for children, while providing them with a means to an education, and ultimately the opportunity to live full, enriched, meaningful lives.

Some of these children such as Shamsul, due to poverty and family problems, boarded a train from his home state at the age of 11 to New Delhi where he spent one a and half years picking rags in and around the railway station before being picked up by one of the trust staff. Shamsul received an education and is now a young man earning a good salary at a media company.

This is not a slum tour, this is a walk through the backstreets of New Delhi led by your young, fully trained guide who was once living and working on the streets, where you will view the world through their eyes as they share with you their life journeys. This tour is also one of the services that we offer as part of our Himalayan Boot Camp vacations.

You can read more on the lives of these children at the Salaam Baalak Trust website and if you are interested in helping the center does have volunteer opportunities.

Himalayas Antioxidant-Rich Goji Berry

July 16th, 2010

Goji-Berry

Picture source: Wikipedia commons (Sten Porse)

The Goji berry is another fruit rich in antioxidants, specifically carotenoids such as beta carotene and zeaxanthin. It is found in China and the Himalayas and is a dark red fruit related to the cranberry and blueberry. Goji berries have a tangy sweet taste and are considered nutrient dense, rich in phytonutrients and containing essential vitamins and minerals.

I grew up eating Goji berries in the Himalayan foothills. My aunt had huge bushes on her property that grew these little berries abundantly by the hundreds. I would gather the large, ripe soft ones and eat them by the dozens.  They were juicy and delicious!

And guess what! I found a website that actually sells seeds so I will be ordering some and growing my own. They are known to be very hardy plants so I am hoping to enjoy some fresh fruit in a couple of seasons. Can’t wait.

Do you have any experience with Goji Berries? I would love to hear about them.

Antioxidant-Rich Acai Berry

July 8th, 2010
Acai-Berry

Picture source: Photobucket (exmanforever)

The Acai berry also contains anthocyanins and flavonoids, powerful in helping the body fight oxidative stress and disease. According to experts, these substances play a significant role in the body’s cell protection system and a diet rich in antioxidants help counteract the aging process by neutralizing the free radicals in our bodies that destroy our cells.

Anthocyanins create the red, purple and deep blue tone in many fruits, flowers and vegetables such as red grapes, blueberries, blackberries and the acai fruit pulp according to some studies, indicate higher antioxidant properties than cranberries, strawberries or even blueberries.

Acai oil is also an antioxidant powerhouse as an ingredient in cosmetics as the processed oil appears to have a longer shelf life and the antioxidant levels continue to remain high.

So why am I writing these posts about these superfruits? Because I am exploring a “vitamin stick” product high in anti-oxidants from these superfruits, including the means to absorb them into our cells effectively so the body can function at its optimum for a longer, healthier life. I certainly don’t believe these superfruits are the cure all for everything and there are a lot of scams out there, however if they contribute to a healthier mind and body then I am definitely interested in finding out the best way to utilize them. After all, research has indicated that living past 100, in fact up to 120 years of age is not pie in the sky any longer, and although some of it can be attributed to out genes, how we live contributes significantly to this longevity. Therefore I am of the opinion that if we take care of ourselves holistically, coupled with advances in technology and medicine, we can become vibrant, active, and healthy super-centenarians.

And why not? What do you think?

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Antioxidant-Rich Maqui Berry

June 16th, 2010

For the next few days I will be focusing on seven different super fruits that are high in antioxidants.

Maqui-berry-picture

Picture source: patagoniamaqui.com

The first super fruit I am starting with is the Maqui Berry. Did you know that the Maqui berry is one of the most powerful known botanical antioxidants?

Antioxidants are critical in fighting free radicals that contribute to our aging process. Fro example, they help protect our blood vessels from the oxidative damage of these free radicals, they provide anti-inflammatory benefits, help our nervous system and generally help us stay healthy. Although we cannot stop our bodies from growing older we can definitely take steps to improve our health as we age by paying attention to the nutrients we put into our bodies.

There has been some significant research on this purple fruit known as the Maqui berry found in the Patagonian region of South America, with findings that indicate its potential to improve our immune system and protect our bodies from a variety of health conditions.

The maqui berry is packed with anthocyanins and polyphenols, which have the ability to neutralize free radicals and help fight disease in our bodies, according to scientific studies. It also has the highest ORAC value per serving. So what is an orac value? Well, it stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbsion Capacity and it is the scale which measures the amount of antioxidants that food contains and its ability to absorb free radicals.

Keep in mind though that just because a food product has a high amount of antioxidants does not necessarily mean your body will actually use them all as the ORAC ratings do not calculate the actual absorption rates of the body. So you still need a mechanism to ensure that your body maximizes the benefits of these high antioxidant rich foods. I will talk more about this in future posts.

In my next post later this week, I will discuss the Acai berry and how it compares to the Maqui berry.

The information in this blog is for educational purposes only. For diagnosis or treatment of any medical problem, please consult your licensed health care practitioner.