Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Foods That Improve Your Quality of Life: Dark Chocolate

I was so excited to find this out.  Dark chocolate just happens to be one of the foods that makes you smarter and less stressed
A 2009 study of 30 individuals fed 40g of dark chocolate per day over a 2 week period showed a decrease in urinary output of the stress hormones cortisol and catecholamines.  

Another study indicates that the flavanols in dark chocolate help to increase blood flow to the brain and also to lower the stress level in those attempting spacial tasks.  

As the researchers put it, “Cocoa flavanol consumption may increase neural [brain] efficiency in spatial working memory function” (Camfield DA et al. 2012)

Remember though, not all chocolate is created equal.  Try to go for fair trade and at least 72% cocoa in whatever you purchase.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Focusing on Core Competencies: Minimizing Breakfast

I've recently been listening to the book 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think on audiobook and, although it is geared toward the career woman, I've found some things that the author states to be highly practical advice.  After all, while I may not get paid for my work, with homeschooling and taking care of a very large household, my hours are definitely not a 9 to 5 job.

One of the things that the author stresses is finding your 'core competencies'.  The things that one does best that no one else could quite do as good of a job, and then focusing the main working hours on these things.  That means that things that are not core competency need to be outsourced, minimized or ignored.

So, as I'm revamping my daily schedule I'm working on outsourcing, minimizing or ignoring the things that someone else can do and that do not lead me closer to my goals.

Here is one thing I've come up with:

While I love cooking, breakfasts and lunches are not my favorite things to make.  So, my first step was to minimize breakfast, both the cooking and the clean up.

Breakfast needs to be over fast so we can start our homeschooling day and lunch comes right in the middle of schooling.  I really don't like taking the time to cook these meals.  However, on a real food diet, buying boxes of cold cereal is not an option for us.  And I like the children to go low on the carbs and high on protein for most breakfasts.

My solution (and remember, I'm feeding 13 people!):
  • Cook up 3 dozen hard boiled eggs on the weekend.  That gives me two mornings of eggs and fruit.  It's an easy prep and an easy cleanup.  
  • Also, baking 4 pans of soaked granola at one time will give me two more mornings of easy breakfast.  
  • A couple bags of make ahead frozen smoothies are a special treat.  
  • And then 4 dozen soaked muffins will round off the week.  

Over the next few weeks I'll be posting more ways to minimize, outsource or ignore the things that need to get done, but aren't my core competencies thus freeing up the set hours I have to be able to concentrate on other things.  Like my real food cooking or spending quality time with my children.

If you have any ways that you minimize the tedious to find more time in your day, please post them in the comment section.  I'd love to hear your ideas!

And if you want to check out the book I mentioned, 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, I think any mom, those who work for pay and those who don't, would appreciate some of the advice.