All posts by lifes abundance

Verdant Cranberry Orange Muffins

Muffins

We challenge you ... what's better than a warm, scrumptious berry muffin fresh from the oven? That's right, nothing!

Judging by the reaction this recipe got here at our home office, you might want to whip up a double batch of this delectable delight.

Be sure to share this fall-inspired recipe with friends and family!

This recipe yields approximately one dozen muffins.

INGREDIENTS:

½ c dried cranberries
1/3 c hot water
2 c all purpose, whole wheat or gluten-free baking flour
2 scoops Life’s Abundance Greens Blend
¾ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 tbsp orange zest (about 1 large orange)
1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 large egg, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 c sugar, agave or liquid sweetener of choice
½ c plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1/3 c freshly squeezed orange juice (about 1 large orange)
¼ c non-fat milk

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F, and lightly grease 12 standard-sized muffin cups.
  2. Re-hydrate the dried cranberries by combining with hot water into to a heat-safe bowl or mug. Let the bowl sit while preparing the muffin batter.
  3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, Greens Blend and zest in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the butter, egg, and vanilla. Stir in the sugar or other sweetener. Add the yogurt and mix until no large lumps remain. Stir in the orange juice. Alternate between adding the flour mixture and milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, stirring until just incorporated. (For best results, add the flour mixture in 3 equal parts.) Drain the cranberries, and gently fold into the batter.
  4. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared muffin cups. Bake at 350°F for 17-20 minutes, or until barely golden brown and the centers feel fairly firm to the touch. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes before carefully turning out onto a wire rack.

Note: Fresh chopped cranberries may be substituted in place of the dried cranberries and water. 

Back to School Tips for Pet Parents

It's that time of year again. Parents across America are sending their kids back to school. For those who are also pet parents, there's an added dimension to this big routine change ... concerns about how the family's companion animals are dealing. 

Fortunately, we have some helpful tips, food for thought and some of the telltale signs of troubled behavior to watch out for, all to help guide anyone who's concerned about how to handle the transition.

To view the full-size PDF, simply click on the image below. And be sure to share this post with your friends and family!

PDF Document
PDF Document

Futuristic Pet Technologies & Gadgets

smart-dog

Fans of Doctor Who and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy know of the amazing convenience offered by the T.A.R.D.I.S. and Babel fish, both of which offer real-time translation of any form of communication, from humans to animals to aliens. A device allowing for instantaneous translation has long fired the imagination of many.

The language barriers have been breaking down since the launch of the internet’s first translation website (interestingly enough, called babelfish). We haven’t gotten to the point Douglas Adams envisioned just yet, but technology inches us ever nearer this holy grail of communication.

These days, all you need is your phone to get around the world. For example, Google’s Translate app allows you to translate road signs and blocks of text with nothing more than your camera phone!

While such advances are remarkable, we’ve only gotten as far as other humans. Cat meows, dog barks, bird chirps, and whale songs are just as much of a mystery to us as they have ever been … but that may soon change. According to a report commissioned by Amazon*, pet translators could be on the market within the next decade. What would that even look like?

The obvious problem with the concept is that dogs and cats don’t rely on verbal communication the way we do. Cats don’t even meow to other cats, just to people. A collar that claims to translate vocalizations therefore isn’t going to give us a whole lot of useful information. Therefore, one would ideally require some sort of technology that would evaluate body language, which is integral to the way that so many pets communicate.

lap-dog-ball

For the past decade, wearable tech has struggled to come up with a device that pet parents actually find useful. Smart implements claiming to translate barks fell by the wayside quickly, due to impractical tech. GPS trackers fared a bit better, but most people find they don’t lose track of their dogs and cats often enough to need them. But the final path to progress, at least based on how the technology has evolved recently, seems to be in devices that capture and interpret a pet’s movement.

Fitbit-like devices that simply tell you how much exercise a pet is getting aren’t that popular. Rather than responding to the tracker’s complaints by upping daily walks with the dogs, most people simply put the trackers in the drawer to avoid the guilt. But rather than focus on the amount of movement, pet trackers are now trying to determine patterns of motion. The newest trackers claim to recognize not only the length of physical activity but the type. Consequently, they’re able to differentiate between an itchy dog scratching all night from an anxious dog pacing around the house. Even better, these trackers could even help pet parents determine if that new allergy drug is helping, or if a dog on arthritis medication is feeling any better. Actions speak louder than words, right?

At the end of the day, as researcher John Bradshaw points out**, technology shouldn’t replace pet parents simply doing a better job of understanding the needs of their dog. A person who lives in a small apartment and works 12 hours a day may run into problems if they adopt a Weimaraner puppy. Knowing that your dog spends the first 15 minutes after you leave the house running at warp speed or tearing up the cushions is useless unless you realize this likely indicates separation anxiety, which can’t be resolved without some sort of behavioral intervention. The true benefit of these technologies is in getting a better handle on what is going on when we aren’t present.

canine-buddies

If you’re an early adopter of pet tech, you’ve probably accumulated all sorts of gizmos. Dog cameras that spit out treats with the push of a phone’s button. Remote tennis ball launchers. Specialized collars that can track a dog’s respiratory rate throughout the day. One of the more popular pieces of pet tech is the Nest camera. Many a canine and feline mystery has been solved thanks to the watchful eye of hi-def video monitoring.

The path to technological advancement is by necessity littered with castoff items that fail to meet their potential, but that’s the nature of innovation. For all the times we try out a new gadget and never use it again, there are occasionally bursts of technical genius that truly makes life better for us and our companion animals.

So, what do you think Life’s Abundance reader? Are you itching to try out mind-bending future tech to communicate with you companion animal? Or are you content with your own tried-and-true methods when it comes to canine interactions? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Online References:
* gadgetsandwearables.com/2017/07/21/amazon-shop-the-future
** theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jul/21/dogs-talk-tell-home-truths-technology-pets-feeling

Supporting Military Service Members

soldier-dog-companion-service

This week, one of our military veterans received a hero’s farewell. In Muskegon, MI, hundreds gathered to witness the passing of Cena, a black Labrador who retired in 2014 after serving three tours of duty sniffing out explosive devices in Afghanistan. After his recent diagnosis of terminal bone cancer, his caretaker made the decision to end Cena’s life with dignity, and some well-earned fanfare. Cena was one of many military service animals who have saved countless lives for decades.

We reflect with gratitude on the history of those who have served, both human and companion animal, alike. For those of us who don’t serve and are fully entrenched in the civilian way of life, military life can feel like foreign territory. Given that so many have given so much, we’re left to wonder, “What can we do to help?” To that we say, “We’re glad you asked” and we encourage you to open your heart to these following possibilities.

Foster During Deployment: If you answer “no question, my dog/cat” when asked who you’d want with you on a deserted island, fostering an animal for service members deployed overseas may be the role for you. Like anyone, active military service members can and often do have doggos and kitties. They also have the unique hardships of extended out-of-town training, deployments and living far away from a network of family or close friends. Lest these difficulties bar service men and women from being pet parents (or worse, surrendering a pet), there are organizations that exist to “matchmake” service members with volunteer pet boarders. These groups seek private homes and boarding facilities that would care for a military foster pet for as short a period as a couple of weeks, up to one year and everything in between. If you live near a military base, check for a regional service in your area or visit one of the national services like DogsOnDeployment.org.

anxiously-waiting

Adopt a Hero: In an ideal scenario, a retired military working dog (MWD) is to ultimately be adopted by their handler partner, but this is not always possible. If you are a fan of dogs who demonstrate a real drive and purpose, perhaps you have a place in your home for a retired hero! The 2016 National Defense Authorization Act was cause for great celebration because it means that retired military working dogs are now, for the first time, assured of being returned to the U.S. Previously there was tremendous advocacy and expense required on the part of the handler or other caring humans to get these dogs back home. Some adoption organizations currently have waiting lists for MWDs, but this new act could mean an increase in the number of retired working dogs seeking forever homes. To learn more about retired MWD adoption, please check out U.S. War Dogs Association and Mission K9 Rescue.

reach-out-online

Make a Contribution: There are approximately 2,500 U.S. Military Working Dogs currently in service around the world. Consider spending the time to assemble a care package for one, two or even a few of these remarkable canines and their handlers. A little bit of comfort can go a long way towards helping service members endure conflict hardships and feel connected to home. There are also a handful of non-profit groups that facilitate medical care, housing and adoption for retired military dogs – all of which need financial assistance. And let’s not forget our local law enforcement agencies! These groups are often under-funded and under-equipped for their K9 officer programs, relying on grants, private donations and out-of-pocket contributions from their officers. Project Paws Alive works to centralize fundraising efforts for departments actively seeking help. Or simply contact your local fire rescue, sheriff or police department to learn about their specific needs and how you might be able to help.

veteran-and-husky

Become an Advocate: As ‘excess and out-of-service equipment’, Retired MWDs do not receive government funding to support their integration into civilian home life. It’s not uncommon for them to have costly medical needs, or to be without a safe place to heal from the effects of Post Traumatic Stress. Others simply need temporary housing or even just transportation to their new forever home. There are also ‘guardian angel’ volunteers who keep track of MWDs re-apportioned to private contract companies in hopes they may be assured a loving home when their service finally ends.

In light of everything our service members do for us (human and canine), embrace that patriotic spark and let your gratitude inspire action. And be sure to share your own stories in the comments section below!

Read more about Cena here:
www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jul/27/military-dog-cena-jeff-deyoung-michigan

The Surprising Benefits of Plant Proteins

happy-heart-light

It's not an exaggeration to say that more people are worrying about their health (especially, their healthcare) than ever before. Some could argue that all of this increased worry is actually having a negative impact on the health of Americans! While the latest effort by Congress to change our nation's healthcare system appears to have stalled, it doesn't mean we shouldn't be taking active measures to protect our own health. So, let's try to put aside the worry - and the politics - and focus on some really exciting science!

Thanks to a long-term study supported by multiple grants from the National Institutes for Health, we could all start doing something today that could have a real, measurable impact on our long-term health. Is it a miracle drug? No! Is it the latest fitness gadget or exercise program? No! In fact, it's simply a minor change in what we eat. That’s it! To understand why the medical profession is abuzz with the radical implications of the latest news, we need to come to terms with one simple, undeniable fact. As Americans, we're eating way too much meat. So much, in fact, that it's making us sick.

Researchers at Harvard's Massachusetts General Hospital recently announced findings of a groundbreaking study, one of the largest of its kind. Nutritional scientists examined the effects of regular consumption of high levels of protein from animal sources compared to vegetarian sources. Much of the animal protein came from processed red meats. And the results were nothing short of astonishing! They indicated that heavy meat eaters had a higher mortality rate. Participants in the study whose diets had a higher percentage of plant-sourced proteins experienced a lower risk of death.

skillet-veggies

The researchers analyzed two massive sets of data, one encompassing more than 30 years worth of information from NHS participants, and another that captured 26 years worth for HPFS participants. The combined total amount of reviewed data was a whopping 3.5 million person-years. Over the course of the data collection, more than 36,000 participant deaths were recorded. Those who perished fell into three major groups: 9,000 from cardiovascular disease, 13,000 from cancer and about 14,000 from other causes. When adjustments were made for competing risk factors, researchers found that eating protein primarily from animal sources (meat, eggs or dairy) was associated with an increased rate of death. The same adjustments were made for those whose consumption of protein came primarily from plant sources (breads, cereals, beans, legumes, etc.), and the results were highly significant … they uniformly had a lower mortality rate!

The data was unambiguous and clearly supports what vegetarians have been talking about for decades. The full report will appear in the August 1st edition of the Journal of American Medical Association – Internal Medicine (citation provided below).

happy-couple

Fortunately for Life’s Abundance customers, we offer the perfect solution to this widespread dietary problem. It’s never been easier, more convenient or more delicious to boost your plant protein content thanks to our innovative supplement powders, now available in both Chocolate and Vanilla!

References:

Edward Giovannucci et al. Association of Animal and Plant Protein Intake With All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality. JAMA Internal Medicine, 2016 DOI: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.4182

sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/08/160801113654.htm

msn.com/en-us/health/wellness/50-easy-habits-that-help-you-live-longer-according-to-science/ss-BBByzg6?li=BBnb7Kz

civileats.com/2017/06/29/eating-less-meat-is-a-prescription-for-better-health

Infographic: 5 Ways Cats Improve Your Life

If you're lucky enough to share your life with a cat, you'll know that regardless of personality, felines make life better. Whether they're low-key couch potatoes or frenetic, live-out-loud adventurers, it really doesn't matter. Each kitty finds a way to bring happiness and companionship. But that's not all! They add a fullness of experience to life, in five amazing ways which we've outlined in the following infographic!

To view the full-size PDF, simply click on the image below. And be sure to share this post with your cat-loving friends and family ... or better yet, those who still need convincing!

PDF Document
PDF Document

Summer Harvest Citrus Bites

harvest-bites-01

Across the country, spiking heat indexes have everyone looking for ways to cool down. What better way to chill than with the robust nutrition of our latest premiere recipe!

Made with our signature Greens Blend, these bite-sized treats are sure to satisfy. Thanks to its delicious, yet subtle, berry flavor and silky smooth texture, our non-GMO blend of raw, certified-organic grasses and mushrooms delivers a robust burst of nutrients to these fun, summery delights.

This quick-and-easy recipe yields 24 scrumptious servings, so it’s ideal for impromptu social gatherings.

Ingredients

3/4 cup almonds
1/4 cup cashews
1 scoop Life’s Abundance Greens Blend
1 1/2 cups pitted Medjool dates
Zest of 1/2 orange
Juice of 1/2 orange (approx 1/3 cup)
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/3 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips (optional alternate topping)

Instructions

Place the almonds and cashews into a blender or food processor and pulse to finely chop. Add the Greens Blend and pulse 2-3 times to combine. Add the dates, orange zest and juice, and blend until the mixture starts to clump together.

Transfer the dough to a bowl. Form small round balls by rolling the dough in your palms. If opting for a chocolaty topping, melt the chocolate chips using a double boiler or microwave on low power. One by one, roll the balls in coconut flakes to coat or drizzle melted chocolate over top.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week or in the freezer for a month.

Infographic: Fourth of July Safety Prep

We’re only one week away from the Fourth of July! And while we may be ready to celebrate our nation’s independence, it’s one of the hardest times of the year for our companion animals.

Every year, pet parents all across America deal with the emotional toll from fireworks. They’re loud, scary and unpredictable. Even dogs who typically have totally chill personalities can go a bit bonkers at the “bombs bursting in air.” The extreme fear felt by canines can be both traumatic and shocking.

And the patriotic displays aren’t just limited to a single evening. In the days running up to Independence Day, fuses will be lit everywhere from stadiums to cul-de-sacs. So, what can we do to protect our furry friends from explosions of anxiety?

Here’s a handy infographic to help you begin making preparations now to help make this year’s festivities safer, and thus much more pleasant, for everyone! To view the full-size PDF, simply click on the image below.

PDF Document

Womansplaining Men’s Health

being-together

File this post under ‘Tough Love’. Even though it’s technically addressed to women, it really is about helping men to improve their health. If you’re a guy reading this and you really do some soul-searching, you may end up not only being healthier in the long-term, but also impressing the women in your life for being totally on the ball.

Ask any woman, men are quick to offer to fix things. Guys uniformly seem willing to tackle just about any sort of problem, whether it’s plumbing, electrical or automotive. Unfortunately, this can-do spirit doesn’t always extend to emotional or health-related concerns. Because healthcare often has an emotional aspect to it, it presents a double-whammy for guys who’d prefer to ignore both. And that ends up being a big problem for men.

The problem isn't restricted to certain kinds of health issues. It’s common in the event of preventable sickness and even risk-related diseases. From incidences of heart disease and certain kinds of cancer, men have significantly higher mortality rates. In terms of life expectancy, men also get the short end of the stick, with women living on average several years longer.

Benjamin Franklin famously said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” It’s a lesson some men still have yet to take to heart. So, ladies, we’re depending on you to give some urgency to what turns out to be a global problem. But don’t worry, we’re here to help talk to that important guy in your life. So put on your flak jackets, because it’s time to drop some truth bombs.

together

What’s the number one reason why people don’t like going to the doctor? Getting bad news. Here’s the shocker … when your doctor tells you that there’s a problem, it doesn’t begin in that moment. You had that problem already! 

Is your significant other afraid of or angry at the scale because it revealed a specific number? Stepping on the scale does not cause weight gain! Powering through a bag of candy or a six-pack every few days is a much more likely culprit. Similarly, postponing a medical checkup to avoid getting bad news just doesn't make sense.

And yet, this widespread belief ends up creating the very problem people are trying to avoid! In that respect, it reinforces unhealthy behavior. "No bad news" does not translate as "I get to keep doing exactly what I'm doing." This unspoken notice can lead to other negative beliefs.

In hopes that we can change some of these unhelpful perspectives, we're offering up some simple strategies to help that special guy in your life, even if he’s incredibly resistant to change. We’ve tried to frame these positions in ways to minimize anxiety and keep the conversation moving in the right direction.

conversation

1. HAVE “THE TALK”. It starts with a simple and direct question. “Do you want to be around for your child’s high school graduation or for your grandchild’s college graduation?” If the fellow in question doesn’t have kids, then put it in terms he’ll understand. For the most part, everyone wants to live a long life, and even those who don’t think about it expect most of their future years will be healthy ones. 

2. THE ATTITUDE. According to a comprehensive, global study by the World Health Organization, masculinity stereotypes play a critical role in the disparities of wellness between genders. Too often, men behave like their favorite fictional character, emulating risky behaviors that are perpetuated in film and television. As much as it might be enjoyable to watch heroic antics where nothing can stop the good guy from his noble task, the truth is that this ‘walk it off’ mentality is having a horribly negative effect on actual good guys.

cradling-child

3. THE HOMEWORK. In order to take preventative measures, you have to first know what might be wrong! Given the incredible advances in genetics and medicine over the last 50 years, it’s easy to make the case that by knowing something about your genetic background will go a long way to understanding yourself. Ask him to compile a comprehensive family medical history that includes parents, siblings, aunts and uncles, cousins, grandparents and great-grandparents. This is something doctors routinely ask for and most people provide a halfhearted summary. Some even just leave that section blank!

Such a review will prove immensely helpful for doctors. And doesn't your fellow deserve the best possible healthcare? And remember to preserve this homework, because someday it could play a vital role in the healthcare of future generations.

long-life

4. BE GOOD TO YOURSELF. The bottom line is this … a huge amount of suffering can be prevented, alleviated or cured by doing things we all know we should be doing. Here are four simple steps to help jumpstart healthier living for men.

Regular Check-Ups

Commitment to annual wellness exams is a great way to establish a baseline and troubleshoot any developing problems. But to get the most out of these visits, he'll need to be forthright with his doctor. We say that because men are actually less likely to be honest with their physicians regarding the extent and severity of symptoms than women!

Eat Right

If he always says “no way, Jose” to fresh fruits and vegetables but “yeppers” to beef, butter, beer and Ben & Jerry’s, then he's asking for trouble. So much has been written on the topic, there’s hardly a reason to cover good dietary choices here other than to say, eat more fruits and veggies, and avoid fatty and processed foods.

Take a Pill, Dude

The issue for men here seems to hearken back to the ‘walk it off’ philosophy. If it hurts badly or just feels wrong, see a doctor and follow directions. And, yes, that means being open to prescriptions. But it’s not enough to obtain a prescription if it’s medically necessary … it needs to be taken following the directions. Men are much more likely to deviate from prescribed dosages of medication, whether it’s skipping a dose or doubling up. Both can be much more problematic than people generally think, and can result in severe consequences.

Move More

If it’s been years since he's gone for a run or rode a bike, stamina should gradually be built up. As we age, exercise has more and better benefits when it’s done carefully and appropriately to actual ability (not based on "what I used to do"). Bottom line, don’t go overboard! Walk if you don’t have too far to go. Or, if it’s too far to walk, ride a bike instead of driving. Twenty minutes of aerobic exercise daily can make a tremendous difference not only in his health, but also in how good he feels!

embrace

If at any point the conversation starts veering off-topic, be patient but firm. If you get an outsized negative reaction as a result of sharing these strategies, try and steer the conversation away from feelings and back to fact. Finally, if they’re just too overwhelmed by the topic at-hand, leave them a copy of this post to read and reflect on.

If you’re having trouble getting through, use an analogy. For instance, remind them that just like cars and trucks require routine maintenance to perform at peak efficiency, so too does the human body. Whatever tack you choose to try and reach him, come back to the same point as many times as you need, until you get the sense that they’re on the same page about why this conversation is necessary … because they’re loved. And that you would like to have them around for a long time!

This is a problem that affects men of all ages, races, demographics, financial standings, etc. It’s not your guy in particular, and it’s not all guys, but it’s so widespread that the benefits of cultivating a proactive mindset will be better for everyone ... each individual, each family, each community, and maybe even for the world as a whole.

“The men’s health gap: men must be included in the global health equity agenda.” Peter Baker, Shari L Dworkin, Sengfah Tong, Ian Banks, Tim Shand & Gavin Yamey. Bulletin of the World Health Organization 2014;92:618-620. www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/92/8/13-132795/en/

Pick The Right Pup: Infographic

There’s never a bad time of year to welcome a new pup into your home, but with kids now out of school, loads of folks are thinking about adopting or buying a dog right now.

What many don’t realize about picking the right pup, while it’s important to learn about a prospective companion animal, it’s just as vital to know yourself. By thinking about what you want and need in a canine companion, you’ll be better prepared when you try to find that perfect match. To help guide you, we created this handy infographic!

To view the full-size PDF, simply click on the image below. Be sure to print a copy to help inform your big decision!

PDF Document