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, Facebook, Macro Val Food.

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

Senior Viewpoint: The Heart of the Brain—Losses & Gains

anti-aging, U.P. wellness publication, U.P. holistic health publication, U.P. health magazine, U.P. holistic health magazine, U.P. wellness magazine, holistic health in the U.P., holistic health in MI's Upper Peninsula, wellness publication in MI's Upper Peninsula, tips for seniors

Are you concerned your brain’s ability may decline as you age, or that it already has?

If so, you’re far from alone. This is one of the most common current concerns about aging.

The Cedar Tree Institute of Marquette recently presented Heart of the Brain, a four-hour workshop addressing the unique nature of individual brains, and the impact of this uniqueness on one’s everyday life. Participants gained insights into the roots of memory and problem solving at different stages of life, with practical techniques and specific practices to improve mental functioning and decision-making.

Heart of the Brain, a unique program created by Layne Kalbfleisch, M.Ed., Ph.D., is an amalgam of psychology, neurology, pediatrics, behavior modification, education, art, prayerfulness, and intuition. Kalbfleisch designed this program to help participants learn basic principles about the brain’s function and plasticity–how it adapts, remembers, creates, and imagines in childhood and across life; the difference between good and bad stress; and new skills to keep it healthy, enhance memory, and support skills and talent in the individual.

Usually aging is seen as loss.

However, that’s not necessarily true. The brain, with its principle of plasticity, over time brings a tradeoff between declarative memory (names, dates, and other straightforward facts) and non-declarative memory (recollection of how to do things automatically, such as drive, swim, bike, etc.). With repetitive structures to daily life in place, elders may bring more openness, and approach their lives more creatively.

Cedar Tree Institute Executive Director Jon Magnuson notes, “I’ve seen this with people I’ve worked with in counseling—the ability to see options one hadn’t when younger, coming to a different way to look at one’s life. In the faith community, I’ve found it’s your children and elders who are the most creative, and that those in the middle age range are more likely to have become hardened and rigid.”

Kalbfleisch’s years as an educational psychologist, cognitive neuroscientist, and educator give her a unique background to approach brain function challenges from several perspectives at once. She is the founder of 2E Consults ® LLC, and works with doctors, psychiatrists, educators, physical therapists, and other professionals to help them function as a team to solve problems and ensure support from all sides for her clients.

“Teachers, doctors, psychologists, scientists–they all live in separate universes,” Kalbfleisch said.

“I bring information from learning science into people’s lives, uncover the root of problems, and help people understand them and find ways to work on them. The evaluation processes are standard, but I use the results more holistically to target change,” she said.

Kalbfleisch studies the relationship between talent and disability, and how the human brain supports ingenuity and problem-solving throughout a lifetime.  “I work across the lifespan,” she said. “I work with young children through those suffering from age-related changes to memory.”

Kalbfleisch helps clients use their natural assets to solve problems. She looks at the client’s weaknesses and strengths in functioning, and helps them understand and change unwanted behaviors. “Natural resources can be disguised as a burden,” she said.

Here are some of Kalbfleisch’s recommendations to help optimize your own brain’s function:

Make Music 

People who have training in music and who engage in music on a regular basis are being shown to have brains that are more resistant to distraction. Don’t play an instrument? Sing! This helps your brain to integrate and exercise, powerfully impacting its abilities.

Sleep Well

Deep, REM sleep lets your brain rest, sort, and sift, providing hygiene for your brain. Have trouble sleeping?  Fit more zzzs in with a nap. Research is showing naps support better cognitive processing.
Exercise – Staying active helps keep the parts of the brain that facilitate memory from aging as fast as the rest of the brain, so find and continue the forms that work for you.


Staying active helps keep the parts of the brain that facilitate memory from aging as fast as the rest of the brain, so find and continue the forms that work for you.

Engage Socially 

Having a social life and engaging with others supports the aging brain by protecting against inflammation and supporting the processes that allow you to grow new brain cells in response to social experiences and activities. For bonus points, talk about your feelings. This exercises your ability to empathize, a key factor in connecting with others, which in turn improves your quality of life.

Kalbfleisch is affiliated with Pediatrics at George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, D.C., and in the College of Education at Northern New Mexico College, Espanola, NM. She has been featured on CNN with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, SiriusXM Doctor Radio, The Coffee Klatch – Special Needs Radio, Rhode Island PBS ‘School Talk’ and as a columnist writing on brain science and education for the Fairfax County Times. To learn more, visit 2E Consults at Layne Kalbfleisch can be reached at (505) 316-0285 or

Thank you to article contributors Layne Kalbfleisch, Vicki Londerville, Jon Magnuson, and Roslyn McGrath.

Reprinted with permission from the Fall 2019 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2019. All rights reserved

Community Improvement: YOOPtopia in Action, by Roslyn Elena McGrath

U.P. holistic businesses, U.P. wellness publication, U.P. holistic health publication, U.P. health magazine, U.P. holistic health magazine, U.P. wellness magazine, holistic health in the U.P., holistic health in MI's Upper Peninsula, wellness publication in MI's Upper Peninsula

What do you think makes the U.P. a great place to live?

And what do you think would help make it, and its ability to impact the world in a positive way even better?

In addition to all of the U.P.’s natural charms, what’s struck me most during my twenty-five years of U.P. living, (with thirteen of them spent connecting with many in the process of publishing Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine and six on previous publications), is how many people, businesses and organizations strive to act on their particular vision of how this beautiful area and world can become a better place—what I call a “Yooptopia.”

The huge growth I’ve witnessed in purpose-driven businesses, holistic wellness, and non-profit organizations has inspired me to highlight this by founding YOOPtopia in Action. Thus far, this has taken shape in an online home showcasing good-for-you-and-the-planet U.P. businesses, organizations, and events for both residents and visitors, plus a seasonal meet-up for members.

At, you’ll find a guide to good-for-you-and-the-planet businesses, organizations, and activities in our beautiful Upper Peninsula. Eco-friendly, holistic, altruistic, and fun events, products, services, and volunteer opportunities, plus selected articles from Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, and personal and business membership opportunities await you there, and in highlights at I also hope you’ll share with us your own positive visions, accounts, and responses to Yooptopian projects in action found there.

While no person, business, or organization is perfect, in their individual ways, YOOPtopia in Action members are taking steps to help improve our world. By frequenting these businesses, supporting these organizations, and following and sharing YOOPtopia in Action’s site and Facebook page, you can amplify their impact while making healthy choices for yourself, your family, your community and planet, which ultimately is what Health & Happiness is all about.

As an additional part of Health & Happiness’s community support, in a few short months, we’ll be making our annual donation to a local U.P. children’s organization, plus sharing a feature article on it in our next issue. At, you can tell us which organization you think we should choose and why. And be sure to subscribe to the site for upcoming opportunities to vote for your choice!

Together, we make things better!

Roslyn Elena McGrath of Empowering Lightworks LLC offers real world options for helping to collaboratively create a more uplifting world through her personal growth and inspiration books, workshops, private sessions, products, YOOPtopia in Action, and this magazine. Visit,, and for more info.

Reprinted with permission from the Fall 2019 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

Special Fall 2018 Issue in Honor of Women is Out!

HH 45 Cover 2So proud of all the wonderful contributions to this special issue! “Restoring Hope at Restoration Bakery,” Positive Parenting and Authentic Friendship articles by Crystal Stone, “Cookbooks” for Green Living by Steve Waller, “Women’s Rights through the Years” by Karlyn Rapport, “The Gifts of Wild Rose” by KimAnn Forest, and much more await you in our new issue!

Yoopers, click here to find out where in our 8-county area you can pick up your copy!

Not in the U.P., or want your copies delivered to your door anyway? Get a 1-year subscription for $15 + FREE SHIPPING!
Buy Now Button