How to make your morning orange juice better

When you think about the perfect idea of breakfast you’re most likely going to picture a fresh orange juice. 

A large glass of vivid yellow orange juice is always present in movies, TV shows, commercials and even morning shows, but most importantly it’s present in our childhood memories. 

It’s a fact that food is directly linked to our emotions and our memories. Think about it. Which is the food or dish that you link to a moment in your life that made you feel good, safe, happy?

For me, orange juice is one of my most beloved emotional food memories. I remember when I was about six years old and my grandmother would always make me a freshly squeezed orange juice. Before she gave it to me, she would add a few drops of Vitamin C to make it even better. For some strange reason, I didn’t like orange juice in its natural state, but I loved it with that additional ingredient. 

Now, weekend breakfasts in my house always have an orange juice, or a version of it. I no longer add Vitamin C, but I’ve looked for different additional ingredients to boost it’s nutritious properties. 

First of all, this signature breakfast drink isn’t always the healthiest choice. Bottled orange juice is just a sugary drink. Because of all the process it goes through, the juice loses its nutritious properties and even its taste. So, companies usually add sugar, corn syrup or other artificial flavor, as well yellow food coloring to compensate. For it to actually be nutritious it has to be squeezed directly from the fruit to your glass.  

Here’s how I make it even better

Don’t squeeze. When you just squeeze the orange you lose fiber and oranges are rich in fiber. So, instead, I put the complete peeled orange in the blender and I keep the pulp. 

Add more ingredients. Oranges are rich in vitamin C, but you can always make them richer. So, I add one or two extra fruits, like a tangerine or a couple of guavas. 

The extra elements. I add a bit of fresh ginger root and a little of turmeric powder. These ingredients boost the antioxidants — which the orange already provides — add anti-inflammatory properties and help your digestive system. 

The sweet spot. When oranges aren’t very sweet I add a tiny spoon of organic honey.

 
Blend it together. Add a little water, blend and serve! This juice will boost the immune system too.

How setting an intention can help you reach your goals easier

Have you ever heard about setting intentions? Have you ever tried it? 

I’d heard about this practice for a while, and people swore by it. I’ve been a journalist for a decade, so I’m pretty driven by facts. I wanted to know what was the power of this practice and if it’s something that actually helped you have a better, healthier life. So I started researching what intentions really are, if they’re actually beneficial, and how to make the most of them.

After I did some research I realized that intentions are a crucial part of what I’ve always believed in. I believe vision is one of the most important things that you should nourish, and I realized intentions just make it more organized. So, for this post I wanted to share with you a little of how I see life, and how intentions have helped me have even more clarity on where I’m going. 

What I believe in is that you cannot walk through life without knowing where you’re going. Uncertainty creates stress, helplessness and apathy. It’s easy to quit on things if you don’t have a reason to do them. And it’s also easy to feel regrets when you find yourself in a situation you dislike, just because you ended up there and did nothing about it. So the best way to prevent this is by having a plan. Of course, you have to be flexible and open, since nothing is ever fixed, but you have to know where and how you want to be. Think about the big picture. How do you see yourself in the near future? Now break it down in categories. How do you see yourself in relationships, in health, in your career? The plan is to get to that place.

Where do intentions come in?

Let’s start with what they are. An intention is a guiding principle for how you want to live your life. It bridges where you are now with where you want to be in the future. 

So now that you have the idea of where you want to be, you start setting goals, which are the milestones. I’ll cover goals in another, more detailed post, but let’s think about the basics of a goal: they have to be S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timebound). Goals are these key moments that get you to where you want to be, and they are very exact, but it can be a little tiring thinking about them everyday.

Here’s where intentions come in. They don’t have to be measured or defined with precision. They’re a statement you believe in that helps you get clarity of what you want and why you want it, so you can take the best steps towards it and stay motivated. They don’t even have to be something you plan ahead. You can have an intention for your day or even for the meal you’re about to prepare yourself. 

Setting an intention gives you focus and motivation. This helps you prioritize, make the most of your time, and make better choices. Be clear on what you want and where you’re headed and intentions will be the driving force to get you there. 

Set an intention

Let’s get this started. Think about why you’re reading this blog. Why do you want to know more about health? About self-care? What motivates you to look for a healthier lifestyle? (You can write this down if it’s easier for you)

Now think about what you want from your health. How do you want to see yourself in the future regarding your health and wellbeing? 

Once you have that picture in your head write down how you’ll be. It’s best to use an affirmation like “I will” instead of something more vague like “I want” or “I’ll try”. Writing something like “I will have a healthier life” or “I will add more vegetables to my diet” is much more powerful. Just by writing those words you’ll feel empowered because you’ll be making a commitment with yourself. 

Next, go deeper. We’ve stated the “what,” now we need a “why.” Next to your first statement add these words: “In order to.” Now dig deeper. What do you want to accomplish with this statement? Following the example, it should look something like this: “I will have a healthier life to inspire my family to follow healthier habits” or “I will add more vegetables to my diet to feel happier, lively and be in better shape.” It can be as specific as you want. 

Perhaps the first intentions you write will still have room for improvement. But that doesn’t matter, no one is grading you. These phrases are for you, to keep you focused and motivated on what you really want. So go back to that intention you just wrote and give it another thought. What’s your intention for the day? For starting a new workout routine? For changing your diet? 

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This breathing technique will help you calm down almost immediately

I’m a very active person, and I demand a lot of myself. I take on a lot of work, take care of my family, study new things all the time and exercise. Can everything be done? The way I see it, yes, it can. But as long as you don’t end up hurting yourself in the process.

I used to think that being organized and having a well prioritized to do list was enough to get everything done. But then it took the toll on my health. I got some nervous tics, anxiety and cold hands. People used to tell me that I had to slow down. But what does this really mean? 

When you ask a lot of yourself your sympathetic nervous system starts “running” faster. This is the system that activates the fight-or-flight response. However, it needs a counterbalance. And that’s the parasympathetic nervous system, which restores the body and provides calm. We tend to activate the sympathetic nervous system with our fast-paced life choices (I know I do), but don’t really take care of the opposite side of the coin as often.

Here’s a common myth: self-care takes time. Reality: not as much time as you think.

I recently found a super fast and helpful technique called 4-7-8 Breath developed by Dr. Andrew Weil. Conscious breathing is very helpful to improve your mental and physical state. This exercise, also known as Relaxing Breath, is a great ally to combat stress, anxiety and tension. As the name suggests, you feel relaxed almost immediately because breathwork has a direct connection with your nervous system. 

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Exhale until you have no air in you. 
  2. Place the tip of your tongue against the line between your upper front teeth and your palate. 
  3. Inhale deeply through your nose for a count of four.
  4. Hold your breath for a count of seven.
  5. Exhale through your mouth for a count of eight. Make sure to let all the air out. You’ll notice a whooshing sound. 
  6. Repeat from step 2 to step 4 three more times for a total of four cycles. 
  7. Extra tip: if you close your eyes you’ll feel a deeper relaxation.

After doing the breathing exercise take a few seconds to come back into your routine and enjoy the state of calm you’ll be in. I like to take a couple of extra deep breaths and that put me in a better mental state and, eventually, in a better physical state. 

What Dr. Weil recommends doing this twice a day. It’s a great tool to calm yourself if you’re about to react to a difficult situation, to fall asleep faster or to control a rush of anxiety. It’s also super helpful to fight food cravings. It’ll put you in the right mental place to analyze why you are craving a certain food and pause before deciding to eat it. 

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Are organic eggs better?

For a while I’ve been wondering about organic food; whether it’s actually better, or if it’s just more expensive, and the benefits aren’t really significant. With the pandemic, we all changed our habits. And by staying at home more I found myself eating more eggs than I used to. Before I worked for home, I hardly ever had breakfast, much less took the time to fry a couple of eggs. So, it was the perfect moment to dig deeper into what I was giving my body. 

As I searched online, I realized organic eggs are about 120% more expensive. Is it worth it? 

Here’s what makes eggs organic:

  • Flocks are smaller. This gives chickens more space, it’s easier for them to go outdoors, and they receive better individual care. 
  • Chickens spend enough time outdoors. They receive sun and get to exercise. Sunlight is fundamental for nutrients to really work, and exercise makes them healthier. Healthier chickens means better quality of eggs.
  • Organic food for chickens. What the chicken eats will eventually become what you eat. If they have a healthy diet, their eggs will have more nutrients. Therefore, they don’t eat genetically modified grains or feed. 
  • No use of hormones, antibiotics or other drugs. Traditional farms tend to use antibiotics regularly to prevent them from getting ill, which is common when their living conditions are far from ideal. Organic farming allows chickens to grow naturally and only get treated when necessary.   

In a nutshell, what does this mean?

Space, daylight and spending time outdoors are key elements for a chicken to be a chicken. They get to have natural behaviors, such as foraging, running and dust-bathing. Their living conditions look after their overall wellbeing, which means avoiding illness, stress and anxiety. All of these are causes for toxins, which end up in the eggs they lay. So, by ensuring the chickens have a happy and healthy life, their eggs will be more nutritious. 

One thing to consider is that if you’re not used to having organic eggs, you’ll be surprised with the color of the yolk: a light yellow. Many eggs are modified to have the yolks be a brighter yellow color, which is supposed to look tastier. Lighter is not worse, it’s more natural.   

Extra tip: Egg labels can be confusing. Aside from organic you can also find free-cage or free range. This doesn’t mean organic. Organic is the highest level or standards, and includes what they eat and the lack of antibiotics, for example.

So, is it worth it? I’m not going to lie, the extra cost made me think about it twice. But, in the end, we eat to nurture our body. We don’t think twice when we spend money for entertainment, fashion, technology, or other indulgences, so why do it with our food?

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