Author Archives: Empowering Lightworks

About Empowering Lightworks

Body-mind-soul readings, workshops, energy healing, books, meditations, and visionary art for ascended living in the real world, customized to your nature and needs by author/intuitive/teacher/artist Roslyn Elena McGrath.

Bodies in Motion: Snowshoeing Satisfaction, by Jesse Wiederhold

snowshoeing advice, winter sports in MI's Upper Peninsula, holistic wellness, holistic practices, holistic businesses physical fitness

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula holds a treasure trove of scenery. There are many unique mountain ranges, roaring rivers, and cascading waterfalls that exist only in the wilderness of Northern Michigan. Summers in the U.P. are beautiful, to say the least. Warm sunshine allows for excellent beach days, while the cooler nights allow for perfect campfire conditions. As summer fades and snow covers the ground, new roads open. No, you cannot drive your car down these roads, but you can definitely snowshoe on them.

Snowshoeing is an active hobby in which nearly anyone can participate. All it requires is for you to walk.

Snowshoeing is an underrated activity—it takes you places inaccessible by regular foot, has low impact on the environment, and is good cardio as well. Since snowshoeing is so easy on the body, you will burn a lot of calories without even knowing it. If you use poles, you’ll burn even more calories. According to Yukon Charlie’s, a snowshoe manufacturing company, someone who is 180 pounds can burn up to 1,000 calories an hour from vigorous snowshoeing.

“Poles are a helpful accessory for snowshoeing,” says Jackson DeAugustine of Down Wind Sports. Down Wind Sports is a U.P. sports retail store specializing in snowshoeing, snowboarding and other “Yooper” sports. The store has locations in Marquette, Houghton, and Munising. DeAugustine grew up in Newberry, but now lives in Marquette. He explains that poles help you snowshoe uphill and across uneven territory with ease.

DeAugustine notes one of his favorite places to snowshoe is Munising’s iconic Pictured Rocks. The view along the coast is his favorite part, and being so close to the water. Pictured Rocks is an excellent location to snowshoe because there are so many interesting things to see. There are waterfalls, forests, and a long shore complementing the deepest Great Lake. He adds that snowshoes are nice to transport you to climbing spots, or whatever other winter activities you enjoy that require getting somewhere in the woods that would otherwise be inaccessible.

Not only is snowshoeing good for your physical health, but it can be beneficial mentally as well.

Sight-seeing is a favorite U.P. attraction, even for residents. It feels good to get outside and breathe in crisp, fresh air. Snowshoeing can be a fun social outing, or a time to just get out in nature and reflect. It is in these picture-perfect sceneries that we can sometimes process our busy, problematic lives. The solace nature provides is unobtainable anywhere else.

Northwoods Adventures, a U.P. outfitter/guide service, offers a helpful reference to other places to snowshoe. In the Marquette area, they recommend the Eben Ice Caves in the Rock River Canyon Wilderness Area. I have been there myself, and truly feel this one is a must-see. It is located by Eben Junction, and if you go during the winter, you will likely find a trail of parked cars leading in.

When you arrive, there are lots of porta-potties marking an open field entrance to the caves. You trek your way across, and are met with Pure Michigan all around you—the birds singing, and the sun sneaking its way to you through the bare branches of tall trees. Snowshoes are great here because they will bite down and give you the traction you need to climb up slippery, winter slopes. When you reach the temporary caves, you will thank your snowshoes and yourself for making the journey in!

Other recommended places for snowshoeing include Yellow Dog Falls off County Road 510, and Hogback Mountain and Sugarloaf Mountain off County Road 550.

If you’re closer to Houghton, Northwoods Adventures suggests you check out Hungarian Falls around Tamarack City. You can get there using a seasonal road off Sixth Street, and then go down a snowmobile trail until you reach a foot trail near a bridge. Mt. Lookout and Breakers are two other good spots for snowshoeing in the Houghton area.

Now you know where and what, but perhaps still aren’t sure when or how to get started.

The best conditions for snowshoeing are when there is freshly fallen. light, fluffy snow. This is so the snowshoes can do their job keeping you afloat. Temperatures between 32 and 40 degrees are best, so the snow is able to stick, but not be so freezing that it’s uncomfortable to be outside. Remember to always dress in layers, so you can add or remove them, keeping a pleasant body temperature during your outdoor activities.

You can start by going to your local sporting goods store to get yourself a nice pair of snowshoes. You will want a larger shoe if you are going to be covering longer, more consistent surfaces. If you are going to be hiking mountains, or through uneven terrain, you may be better off with a smaller shoe. Poles are not required but can help reduce fatigue, especially on longer journeys. Ask questions, and staff members at outfitters will be more than happy to get you the right gear for your needs.

As with any journey off of familiar roads, you should always consider your safety. Avoid going alone. Bring a compass, tell someone where you are going, and tell them when you should be back. Bring a lighter, a multi-tool to hnadle unexpected equi9pment malfunctions, a water bottle, a whistle, maybe some snacks. The last thing you want to be in the wilderness is unprepared.

My final word of advice to you? Get outside, and try snowshoeing this winter sports season. You won’t regret it!

Jesse Wiederhold, twenty-one, is a senior English writing major attending Northern Michigan University. He is a pet dad to three cats, and loves to write. He spends time with friends, goes on hikes, enjoys snowshoeing in the winter, and is an avid aquarium enthusiast.

Reprinted with permission from the Winter 2019-2020 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. All rights reserved.

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Animal or Vegetable? Your Protein Source & Your Health, by Dr. Conway McLean, DABFAS, FAPWHc, FAMIFAS

nutrition, important of protein source, U.P. wellness publication, health and wellness in MI's Upper Peninsula, holistic businesses

“You are what you eat,” goes the old cliché. Is this simply an old wives’ tale or is there some truth to it? Critical to this discussion is that everything we eat gets broken down into its most basic components. This means the carbs in our food get reduced into their simplest form, which are simple sugars. Fats also get broken down, and then stored if the energy from fats is not needed.
It’s when the conversation turns to the subject of proteins that things can get heated. A contentious subject indeed—we aren’t certain about very much.

We do know protein consumption is vital to health as it helps to build new tissue and repair damaged structures. Protein exists throughout the body in everything from muscles and organs to bones and skin. But because your body doesn’t store protein, it’s important to get enough from your diet each day.

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein.

Twenty-one have been identified. The body can manufacture ten, so those remaining eleven are termed the essential amino acids. In other words, it is essential these eleven are consumed in your diet. When the body digests proteins in food, they are broken down into amino acids, which are used for almost every metabolic process in the body. To further muddy the waters, different proteins vary greatly in the types of amino acids they contain.

You can get protein from many food sources, including both plants and animals. Animal protein sources, such as red meat, fish, poultry, and eggs, provide a good balance of all the amino acids we need, and are thus termed complete proteins. Plant protein sources, such as beans, lentils and nuts, are considered incomplete since they lack one or more of the amino acids we cannot manufacture. Although most plant proteins are incomplete, there are a few exceptions. Some experts claim soy protein is complete, although two essential amino acids are only found in very small amounts, so it isn’t comparable to animal protein, while quinoa and buckwheat are both complete sources of protein. It is important for vegetarians and vegans to mix their protein sources, thus ensuring they are getting all the essential amino acids.

None of the studies on the topic deny red meat contains many nutrients. A raw “quarter pounder” of beef contains a quarter of the recommended intake of niacin, vitamin B-3. Zinc is an essential mineral and is mainly found in animal protein sources. Said quarter pounder (raw) has about a third of the daily amount suggested. As is oft-quoted, red meat actually is high in iron, which is better absorbed than the plant-derived kind of iron. Many other nutrients are provided through the consumption of beef, including vitamin B-6, selenium, and various other vitamins and minerals. An oft-regarded benefit is the increased lean muscle mass linked with the consumption of animal protein. Some evidence indicates red meat reduces the muscle loss associated with aging.

Some of the reported hazards of beef consumption are the stuff of legend, and some are actually true.

Numerous studies have associated red meat consumption with heart disease, which remains the number one killer in the U.S. An increased risk of stroke also is clearly associated, as is kidney disease. Another association that doesn’t get the publicity of some previous mentions is gastro-intestinal problems. Lastly, to put it bluntly, red meat eaters seem to die younger, as evidenced by multiple studies.

Interestingly, most of the research finds a particular culprit in the form of processed meats. Should you not be aware, these are defined as meats that have been transformed in some fashion. Typically, this is achieved by salting, curing, or smoking meat to enhance the flavor or to preserve it longer. It would seem these processes are carcinogenic to people, and abundant evidence shows this. Some common types associated with processed meat include colorectal, pancreatic, and prostate cancers. It would seem that cooking red meat at higher temperatures is an additional factor contributing to an increased cancer risk.

Research over the years indicates calorie restriction, over time, is what determines longevity. But recent studies propose it is not just calories, but also the composition of one’s diet, especially in the amount and type of protein. These two seem to be the most critical factors in health and longevity. It would seem you are four times more likely to die from cancer or diabetes if you eat a diet high in proteins and are over fifty, although these effects were significantly reduced if it was a plant-based high-protein diet.

What about the subject of total protein requirements?

According to the principles of a ketogenic diet, protein should dominate your food intake. But convincing evidence exists that a high-protein diet is nearly as bad for your health as smoking, particularly if the proteins are derived from animals. What is a concerned consumer to do? Many claim protein consumption is the most important part of the diet. The textbooks say the average sedentary man should consume about 56 grams per day, 46 grams for a woman. For truly good health though, the evidence shows a diet low in processed meat, rich in plant protein, with animal sources like fish, poultry, eggs and dairy, is best.

However, it is also obvious many varied opinions exist on how much protein, and what kind, a human actually needs. A significant factor is how extraordinarily difficult it is to perform good nutritional studies encompassing a longer span of time. In the meantime, ill-informed consumers struggle with diet and nutrition, uncertain of what foods are necessary for health, and which food items are definitively disease-causing. The challenge of good nutrition and good health remains a complex puzzle many yearn to complete.

Dr. Conway McLean is a physician practicing foot and ankle medicine and surgery in the Upper Peninsula (Marquette and Escanaba). McLean is triple board certified in surgery, wound care, and orthotic therapy. He has lectured internationally on many topics. Dr. McLean welcomes questions at drcmclean@outlook.com.

Reprinted with permission from the Winter 2019-2020 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. All rights reserved.

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Spotlight On… Amora Wellness & Gifts with Owner Jill Koskiniemi

Amora Wellness & Gifts, U.P. wellness publication, holistic well-being in MI's Upper Peninsula

Tell us about Amora Wellness & Gifts.
Amora Wellness & Gifts offers natural solutions for health, beauty, home, and more. We’re in Laurium, about a block from Aspirus hospital.

I saw a need in myself and others for natural options, and some people just had no idea what was out there. So I wanted to open up a place that had that, so they could know there are natural options for cleaning, face care, body care, and for those who knew about these options, but they just weren’t readily available to them.

When did you start this business?
Nov. of 2016. It’s already grown and expanded. I was pulled in this direction for so long, and finally just had to take the leap, start small, find out what people were looking for in the natural realm, and try to provide that.

I wanted the space itself to feel healing and relaxing too, so very relaxed music, scents, and salt lamps are going, which I feel contribute to a more relaxing shopping environment than what we’re all used to at the big box stores.

How did you choose the name “Amora” for it?
It was a name I saw on a reality TV show, Alaskan Bushpeople, about a family living in the wild. There was a character called Ami, and they used her full name when she went to the doctor once–Amora. I thought, “Wow, that name is really nice!” And it doesn’t have connotations to anything, aside from love, and what could be more healing than love? Because my whole focus is natural health and healing, I thought, “Perfect.”

What is your background?
I don’t have a medical background, but I’ve always been interested in retail. I’m a shopper, always looking for new products. Eventually, as people around me started to deal with different health issues, I would be searching. I had this knowing there was something in nature that could probably help this person or issue.

I got a degree in business administration at MI Tech. Right out of college, I worked at Bath & Bodyworks. Eventually, I realized, “Wow, you can smell that as soon as you enter the mall. Is that really natural?!”

For a while, I sold Avon, which taught me some of the entrepreneurial aspects of learning how to run a business and what it takes.

I went into home and auto insurance for eighteen years and worked my way up to management, which helped me get more familiar with managing an operation.

All of it coalesced into a path for me. In the meantime, I took a lot of trainings in alternative healing and energy work. I’ve always had a fascination with the more natural, alternative, and energy-based medicine.

Owning a business like Amora was a seed that germinated awhile for me. A similar business was just going out of business–it was doing well, but the owner needed to get out of it for personal reasons. I would have liked to have bought it, but the timing wasn’t right for me and my husband.

When I got to that point where I was ready to write the business plan and resume to apply for a loan, I realized having some retail, natural health, and management aspects all came together to give me a good background to help me manage all the aspects of this business. Of course you’re always learning as you go. I kept getting this nudge to do this. I felt like if I don’t do this now, am I going to look back when I’m eighty and go “Why didn’t I try it?” So I took the leap and dove in.

Have there been any surprises for you?
I was surprised how well received it was once people found out about it. Part of me knew people are ready and they’re looking for options because they’re sick of being told this product now can causes cancer, or you can take this pill, but it’s going to have side effects. I intuitively felt that was something people were ready to move on from. I thought it would take longer to build up the business but it seemed I hit the ground running. I think part of that was pure luck. I happened to open around the holidays, and it happened the salt lamp craze was hitting at that time. I was aware of their health benefits and had had one for many years and always planned to carry them, because they are health-related and can be a good gift too. People were finding us because we had them in the window and everyone was looking for them that year.

The synchronicities are kind of interesting. You trust your intuitive nudges and the universe provides another step, or shows up in ways you didn’t expect. I didn’t think salt lamps were going to be the big thing. I think it helped get the word out that Amora is here.

What do you enjoy most about owning and operating Amora Wellness & Gifts?
Helping people find solutions for the issues they’re dealing with. Having someone purchase something and come back to tell me, “Hey, that supplement’s really helping me,” or “I didn’t know you could buy natural cleaning supplies, and it worked for me.“ People are getting back in touch with natural options and enjoying it, and getting results with it. That’s really rewarding for me. It’s also been great getting to meet people.

I continue to learn. There are so many supplements out there. All this ancient wisdom from herbal traditions is coming back now it seems because people are ready for it. People still ask for things I’ve never even heard of yet. So I start learning about them. I’m continuously learning and don’t expect to ever stop. There’s always something new and interesting, but also old in some ways– many of these herbs have been used for thousands for years and we’re just rediscovering their power and their effectiveness. So it’s really been awesome finding out about these things, and connecting with people, and helping them on their healing journey.

What’s most challenging about owning and operating Amora?
Because I want to help everyone, and I want to serve people in this natural realm, when I can’t get something they’re looking for. Although I have some large vendors, sometimes someone’s looking for something I don’t have access to yet.

Sometimes people look for things that don’t fall in the natural category, and there’s that challenge of walking the line between what people want and what I feel good about offering. I’ve been researching and trying to be healthier for many years, so I’m an avid label reader. I’m always looking at ingredients and asking, “Are they necessary? Are they detrimental? Sometimes I have to be honest and say “That’s not something I can offer; it doesn’t fall under the mission of providing natural solutions for people.”

What future plans and/or goals do you have in mind for Amora?
We recently got a cooler, so we offer healthy drinks now, and also snacks. Often people end up reaching for chips and candy bars that aren’t really so healthy to help them get through their day, and there are options out there that actually are nourishing to your health, so we’re expanding that a little bit.

I’m really passionate about educating people on natural options. Right now, it’s about the product offerings, but eventually we may offer more workshops. I brought in a speaker on herbalism last spring. I’d also like to help people learn about eating cleaner, without genetically modified foods. I feel a lot of people have heard of this, but don’t really know what it means. I feel there are some health concerns and things we need to be aware of because we’re voting with our dollars. Anything you’re buying, you’re telling these companies you want more of it. So if we’re not paying attention, we may inadvertently send the message that we want more of this stuff that isn’t nourishing and maybe could be harmful to our health.

Anything else you’d like our readers to know?
We do offer some natural gifts—natural candles and incense, smudge sticks, jewelry handmade in Ishpeming, and other local gifts. In winter, we have some nice organic wool socks. If you want something in the natural realm, and I can get it from my vendors, I’m happy to order it for you.

Reprinted with permission from the Winter 2019-2020 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. All rights reserved.

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Community Improvement: NOT for Women only – The Women’s Center’s Support for Children, by Katelyn Swanson

domestic violence prevention and support to survivors, Marquette and Alger CountyMI Women's Center, support services for children in Marquette MI, U.P. wellness publication

Have you ever needed a safe place to escape from someone who was trying to hurt you or your children?

Hopefully you can answer with a confident “no.” The sad reality, however, is that many in our community can’t. According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS), nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the US. In one year, that is more than 10 million men and women affected by abuse. What’s even more upsetting is 90% of the time, children are eyewitnesses to this type of violence. Domestic, sexual, stalking and dating violence happen much more often than you might think. Those residing in Marquette and Alger counties are very fortunate to have the easily accessible Women’s Center to provide protection and resources if they find themselves in these terrifying predicaments.

The Women Center’s Harbor House is a safety shelter for adults and children fleeing from violence. It is also a place where staff and volunteers can help implement safety plans and assist in organizing personal protection orders, if necessary. The Harbor House offers counseling, support groups, and childcare. It also provides transportation for those attending counseling, seeking employment, or attending court hearings. The Women’s Center helps residents find employment and affordable housing. By uplifting and supporting mothers, it also gives hope to the children of broken families.

Sudden new living situations can be an exceptionally hard adjustment for youth. The Women’s Center focuses on providing an inviting setting to make the transition as comfortable as possible. Every year, the Marquette Breakfast Rotary supports the youth program by providing money supporting fun activities for the children such as play room furniture, art supplies, sporting equipment, and more. Even with an inviting space, those evading intimate violence usually need more material support. They typically arrive with only the clothes on their backs, and the children have had to leave their favorite blankets or stuffed animals behind. That’s where the PakRatz Resale shop comes in! PakRatz Resale is a space where clothing and home goods donations are accepted from the public, then distributed to those who find themselves in need before the remainder is made available for sale to the public, helping to sustain services. If you’re looking to donate, one of the shop’s biggest necessities right now is quality children’s clothing.

The Women’s Center provides a Sexual Assault Response Program which is an on-call emergency response program available 24/7.

This program provides counseling, support groups, and educational information to any woman or child who has survived sexual assault. The staff and volunteers will accompany survivors to the hospital and to interviews with the law enforcement officers on-scene. The Women’s Center’s staff and volunteers have been trained to provide exceptional care and support. This is a much-needed service for adults, but also especially beneficial for children. Sadly, current numbers indicate one in three girls and one in seven boys will be sexually assaulted by the time they reach eighteen (Department of Justice).

Just in the last fiscal year, the Women’s Center’s staff and volunteers helped nearly three thousand people escape domestic and/or sexual violence in the Marquette and Alger communities. The Center is so thorough it even has a program in place to help survivors keep their pets out of harm’s way–the Sasawin Project. Since 1973, the Women’s Center staff and volunteers have been committed to helping not only women affected by abuse, but also the children. According to the Journal of Family Psychology, more than 15 million children witness domestic violence each year in the United States. Such situations are hard enough on adults, and can be particularly detrimental to the impressionable minds and souls of children. The Women’s Center offers counseling for youth survivors to learn coping mechanisms and lay down a hopeful path to recovery. They also host Children’s Group, open to youth residents of Harbor House and children whose parents attend the Domestic Violence support group. In Children’s Group, participants can learn how to stay safe, develop problem-solving skills, and understand that what happened to them is not at all their fault.

The Women’s Center does everything in its power to create communal awareness of these unfortunate situations happening around us.

The Women’s Center hosts fundraisers and family friendly events, and makes special efforts such as decorating the local courthouse with purple pinwheels for domestic violence awareness. They’ve even had a free self-defense class for those ages twelve and older. In addition to hosting events, they help with necessities by providing items such as socks and warm boots, an absolute must-have here in the U.P.

Annually, the Women Center’s Harbor House provides over three thousand shelter nights to men, women, and children, with the average stay lasting between forty-five and ninety days. These stays run an average of over $1,000 per person. That doesn’t include the many other services provided which are all free of charge. Without community donations, these acts of compassion within our community wouldn’t be possible. Monetary (tax deductible) donations can be made online at wcmqt.weebly.com/donate or over the phone at (906)225-1346. The Women’s Center also accepts used cell phones, and donations can be made at PakRatz Resale. Your donations will go to those who desperately need them, and to help out a center that greatly improves our community!

Emergency hotline: 906-226-6611 or 1-800-455-6611

Sources:

Statistics


http://wcmqt.weebly.com/

Katelyn Swanson is a women’s health enthusiast and doula at Katelyn Swanson Birth and Family Services. She also creates social media content under the figure Really Rosemary and joins together a community of women by sharing her vulnerable and honest mothering of three young children.

Reprinted with permission from the Winter 2019-2020 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. All rights reserved.

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Positive Parenting: Simplify This Holiday Season, by Angela Johnson

holistic U.P., U.P. well-being publication, simplify holildays

The holidays are meant to be a time of peace, connection, and celebration. However, in our consumer-driven culture, the holidays seem to be more about guilt-driven gift giving than the deeper meaning of the season. There are many reasons to want to share more meaning than money this holiday season. You may want to simplify the holidays for less stress, environmental concerns of unnecessary consumption and waste, or maybe you can’t afford to spend that much this year. When I was looking for some resources to support this article, I came across a lovely quote that inspires my reasons for wanting to simplify the holidays:

If you want your children to turn out well, spend twice as much time with them, and half as much money. – Abigail Van Buren

I have two teenage daughters, and for me this quote rings true. Over the years, it is the quality time that I have shared with them, not the gifts I have given, that forms our strong bond, cherished memories, and the base of their overall well-being. This quote is a good reminder of that truth and it makes me want to do even better for them. Yes, do better for them by giving them less. I even like the mathematical formula for this and may try it out this year. “Twice as much time, and half as much money.” This might be a good place to start.

Okay, so maybe you’re sold as I am, but now what? How do we fill the void of piles of presents under the Christmas tree? We still want Christmas to be special, and depending on the age of your children, Santa may still be visiting. So how exactly does this whole simplifying the holidays thing work? According to the “Simplify the Holidays” booklet by The New American Dream (www.newdream.org), the best place to start is with some personal reflection:

“Before deciding how to simplify, take a moment to reflect on what kind of holiday celebration you want. Are you looking for more activities to enjoy with your children? A celebration focused more deeply on nature? New charitable or community-based traditions? A clearer confirmation of your spiritual beliefs? Or are you trying to reduce stress and get a little extra time to sleep? Once you have decided what you want to do differently, it’s easier to decide how to act.”

Once you’ve done a little contemplation, I suggest checking out “The More Fun, Less Stuff Catalog,” also created by the Center for the New American Dream (https://newdream.org/downloads/New_Dream_More_Fun_Less_Stuff_Catalog.pdf).

My favorite idea from the catalog is a coupon book.

In the catalog, you can download a free, easy-to-use coupon template which you can customize. I have done this for my husband in the past, and he loved it. (He keeps all his coupons in the drawer next to his side of the bed with all his special keepsakes.)

The catalog has great ideas for all the people in your life—from children to other family members, and friends. Whether it’s art lessons, concert tickets, donations to a charity, or handmade gifts, there are tons of wonderful ideas. Some people, especially those with children, may still want to purchase a few store-bought items.

What I usually do with my children is use the holiday gift-giving time to buy them one or two things they need and also some things we can share as a family. Things they might need include socks, or a pair of jeans without holes in them (when they were younger the holes were from playing and now as teenagers, they are because they bought them ripped!). Either way, this mom prefers the no-holes version. Another idea, if you still want to purchase something simple to put under the tree, consider family-fun items such as a good board game or outdoor play gear (sled, fishing pole, etc.). Right now, my daughters and I are totally hooked on Scrabble. Back in the day, it was Memory and Sorry! If games aren’t your family’s thing, think of what is, and take this holiday season to invest in quality time doing that.

When thinking about buying less this holiday season, a good place to focus instead is on quality family traditions.

This might be something classic such as making Christmas cookies together or watching or reading a favorite holiday story. Children (and adults) love family traditions, and if you want to focus less on gift giving, creating a new holiday family tradition is a great place to start. It could be a simple as a walk through the woods, but oh, how fun it could be to traipse through the snow as a family under the stars on Christmas Eve! Maybe that’s just me, but whatever you choose, tailor it to your unique and wonderful family, and have fun!

Simplifying will mean different things to different people. No matter what you decide to cut back on materialistically speaking, I wish you and your family a holiday filled with “less is more” meaning, so here’s wishing you less stuff, and more quality peace, meaningful connection and celebration this holiday season.

Angela Johnson, Great Start Collaborative (GSC) Director for Marquette and Alger Counties, works at Marquette-Alger Regional Educational Service Agency (MARESA). The Great Start Collaborative (https://www.maresa.org/early-on/marquette-alger-great-start-collaborative/) works in communities throughout the state to ensure Michigan is making progress towards four priority early childhood outcomes.

Reprinted with permission from the Winter 2019-2020 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. All rights reserved.

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Healthy Cooking: Whole Grain Bread Stuffing for the Holidays, by Val Wilson

healthy cooking, whole grain stuffing, U.P. wellness publication

When I was young, my family would spend most Thanksgivings at my grandparents’ farm in Carney, MI. When we were all there for the holiday, the little farm house would be packed with eight adults and seven kids. Their farm was a secluded place on 900 acres of forest land. As a kid, it seemed like a magical place. My fondest memories are of us all sitting down to a big family dinner. My grandmother, mother, and aunt would be busy all day cooking and getting ready for our dinner. It did not reflect the vegan, organic, whole-foods lifestyle I now live, but the food was made with love, and all from scratch.

One of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes was stuffing. I have created my healthier version, also made from scratch, and cooked with love. This recipe, along with many of my best holiday recipes, can be found in my new cookbook, Year Round Healthy Holiday Dishes, along with stories of my childhood memories spending holidays at my grandparents’ U.P. farm, and the foods I remember as a kid, now made with a healthier twist.

Sprouted grain bread is a heavier, nutrient-rich choice for your stuffing.

It has higher protein content, and the sprouted grain is high in fiber, and digests slower than flour. Some people with blood sugar issues find the slower process of digesting sprouted grains stabilizes their blood sugar levels. If you have digestive issues, sprouted grains may not cause the bloating that can occur from bread made with flour. If you follow a gluten-free diet, you can substitute your favorite gluten-free bread. The addition of the short grain brown rice adds a creamy texture and all its strong antioxidant health benefits.

Shiitake mushrooms add a tremendous amount of flavor to the stuffing. Cooking the dried mushrooms with the brown rice is the key to this stuffing being so delicious. When you cook shiitake mushrooms with brown rice, you create a powerful cancer-fighting combo. Polysaccharides compounds found in the rice bran in brown rice, when eaten with the enzymes in shiitake mushrooms, have shown they can destroy cancer cells.

Whole Grain Bread Stuffing 

8 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 cup short grain brown rice
2 cups water
1 onion (diced)
3 celery stalks (diced)
3 garlic cloves (minced)
2 tsp. sage
2 tsp. thyme
2 tsp. marjoram
4 T. tamari
1 T. toasted sesame oil
Approximately 3/4 loaf of sprouted whole grain bread

Soak the dried shiitake mushrooms for 15 minutes. Remove the mushrooms and cut in thin slices, removing and discarding the stems. Use 2 cups of the soaking water to cook the brown rice, adding the sliced shiitake and brown rice, then bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Reduce to the lowest possible temperature, cover, and simmer for one hour. Meanwhile, sauté the onions in a little toasted sesame oil with a dash of tamari until translucent. Remove from pan and put in a large mixing bowl. Using the same sauté pan, sauté the celery and garlic for a couple of minutes and add them to the mixing bowl. Put some water in a shallow bowl. Soak the bread slices in the water for a minute, break them up with your hands, and add to the mixing bowl. When brown rice is done, add to the bowl. Add the sage, thyme, marjoram, tamari, and 1 T. toasted sesame oil, and mix all together. Put in a casserole dish, bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, and serve warm.

Article adapted from Year Round Healthy Holiday Cooking, copyright 2019, Valerie Wilson.

Chef Valerie Wilson, a.k.a, Macro Val, has been teaching cooking classes since 1997. Visit her website to purchase her new cookbook, Year Round Healthy Holiday Cooking, set up a phone consultation, or listen to her radio show, http://www.macrval.com. Facebook, Macro Val Food.

Reprinted with permission from the Winter 2019-2020 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. All rights reserved.

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