by P. Nick Sholley

flower out of concreteOutside on the street in front of our house, jackhammers blat out their imperatives. A new water main is going in. I am focused on not using the noise as an excuse not to persist in writing this. I can work through it. I know I have something to say… Didn’t I have something to say, something I wanted to share?

I have been circling around this subject for a while now. And I stepped away from it hoping for more clarity, hoping for more quiet, which is now delivered. Lunch hour is upon us.
What is it about renewal? The word is appearing in blogposts and fliers everywhere. Spring is here and we are struggling like buds to poke through the surface, of wood and soil, whatever contains us and holds us back.

Contemplating this, I wonder what holds me back in my couplehood. How do I renew and push through to grow something new in my relationship? How do I reinvigorate my commitment to my partner, my family, my friends?

Like a tendril, like a shoot, I reach toward the light. Or like a root, I reach deeper into the ground, into the soil that surrounds me and nourishes me, that holds me secure. I seek out water, light, nutrition, companionship, known-ness and newness.

Okay, sounds good. But what does it mean in everyday terms? I think about last week and the way my wife and I spent time together. One day we went to the carwash to give our ride some much needed attention after a roadtrip to the snow. We got pulled through the automated wash and marveled at how our toddler had remained completely asleep the last time through despite the near-deafening noise. We joked that it must have been a familiar experience in utero: the thump of the flap sponges as the heart beat, the whooshing digestive noises of the water jets.

After that, we pulled up to the bank of vacuum nozzles and began attending to the interior of the car. I was suddenly aware of how good it felt to be doing this together, giving attention to our ride, sucking up the dirt (or getting to the other side of it), each tackling one half of the car. Very quickly the task went from being mundane to being a kind of gift. What we were doing needed to be done, and it felt better doing it together. And since we don’t always get to do such things together, portioning off chores as a time saver or out of necessity, we might have very easily missed this opportunity. We acknowledged that it felt good.

And yes, getting through the dirt is a huge part of renewal. Spring cleaning, anyone? But just past the cliché are specific experiences from our own lives.

Those moments when we are separate but working alongside one another can meet the same need for renewal and reinvigoration. They serve as a reminder that we are together in this (or in the words of a best friend couple of ours, “we’re on the same team.”)

One of the next things on our list that day involved weeding and tidying the yard. Again, a mundane activity that might not rhyme with any romantic musings of a weekend well spent, but it was something that suited both of our needs for connection: pulling out the visual clutter and making room for something new to grow, or making room for the space to frame the rest. And between us something else could take root, a reminder of being a good team, of making room for future growth.

In renewing, we may reach toward connection with ourselves, and we may think of others as we reach from ourselves. We may ground ourselves despite the pull of distractions, a whipping wind, the interior commotion of our own mental carwash, or the returning blat of the jackhammer.

Renewal can happen with a fresh look at things, at how we communicate, at how we receive, at how we reach out, at how we ground. And in this case, renewal can happen with a little help from the mundane tasks we might otherwise write off as a chore.

The New Dietary Guidelines – What Do They Mean To You?

The USDA Health and Human Services published its new 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans on January 7, 2016. The guidelines serve as one of the most important science-based tools to advise Americans on how to eat a healthy diet, and are the backbone of the nation’s food policies. As such, these guidelines are extremely important for our health and should follow closely the recommendations given by the Advisory Committee – which studied scientific evidence on how our dietary patterns, including specific foods and nutrients, have an effect on health outcomes.

food pyramidThese new guidelines are definitely an improvement over the old ones and a big highlight is the recommendation for people to follow a healthy eating pattern across a lifetime, including lots more vegetable and fruits, not only in volume, but also in variety. According to Lynn Silver, MD, MPH, Senior Advisor at the Public Health Institute,

Dietary risks are currently the leading underlying risk factor of death in the United States, associated with 559,000 deaths in 2013. The guidelines place a new, stronger emphasis on overall patterns of healthy eating as a whole, rather than on individual foods or nutrients in isolation, which is the best approach to mitigating the risk of diet-related chronic disease. Still, the report did—rightly—target one of the biggest single culprits in chronic disease: added sugar. The new recommended limit of no more than 10% of daily caloric intake for added sugars highlights and addresses the role of added sugars in relationship to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay, as well as heart disease, stroke, hypertension and other health problems.”

Unfortunately, the actual guidelines are not as comprehensive and beneficial as they could be, and many of the advisory committee’s recommendations were left unchecked.

To read more about what the guidelines are and what was missed in them, please see my full article at Ceres.

Have any comments or questions about the new guidelines? Share them here!

Thais’ articles published at Ceres Community Project

You might have noticed a gap in this blog’s articles… the reason behind it is that I have been busy with my work with Ceres Community Project, a wonderful non-profit organization in Sebastopol, California. I am serving as their Nutrition Education Manager, and have written a number of articles for the Ceres website.

Ceres Community Project builds healthy communities by restoring fresh, whole and organic food to its place as the foundation of health, and by connecting people in heart-centered ways to themselves, others and the earth.

Please learn more about Ceres here:

And please read my articles on Fats, and Sugar, here:








Please leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

Upcoming Event: Tue, Jan 28, 2014

Sustainable NutritionThais will be speaking at the YMCA Santa Rosa about “Sustainable Nutrition: Eating for the Health of Your Wallet” this coming Tuesday, 1/28, from 5:45 to 7:45pm.

Join us for an informative talk on how to adopt a healthier lifestyle that is sustainable for you, your budget and the planet.

There is no fee to register and there will be a food demo.

More info: click here

14 Foods to Help you Detox in 2014

Detoxification is about resting, cleansing and nourishing the body from the inside out, especially after the busy and sometimes indulgent holiday season. By removing and eliminating toxins, then feeding your body with healthy nutrients, detoxifying can help protect you from disease and renew your ability to maintain optimum health. These foods will assist in boosting your metabolism, optimizing digestion, and supporting your immune system.


artichoke 1. ARTICHOKES

Artichokes help the liver function at its best, which in turn will help your body purge itself of toxins and other things it doesn’t need to survive. It ups the liver’s production of bile, and since bile helps break down foods which helps your body use the nutrients inside them, an increase in bile production is typically a good thing.


apple2. APPLES

Apples are full of wonderful nutrients. You get fiber, vitamins, minerals and many beneficial phytochemicals such as D-Glucarate, flavonoids and terpenoids. All of these substances are used in the detox process. One flavonoid, Phlorizidin (phlorizin), is thought to help stimulate bile production which helps with detox as the liver gets rid of some toxins through the bile. Apples are also a good source of the soluble fibre pectin, which can help detox metals and food additives from your body. It’s best to eat only organic apples as the non-organic varieties are among the top 12 foods that have been found to contain the most pesticide residues. Organically produced apples also have a 15 percent higher antioxidant capacity than conventionally produced apples.




Almonds are the best nut source of Vitamin E. In fact, just one ounce contains 7.3 mg of “alpha-tocopherol” vitamin E, the form of the vitamin the body prefers. They’re also high in fiber, calcium, magnesium, and useable protein that helps stabilize blood sugar and remove impurities from the bowels.



asparagus4. ASPARAGUS

Not only does asparagus help to detoxify the body, it can help you wage the anti-aging battle, protect you from getting cancer, help your heart to stay healthy, and is a general anti-inflammatory food. It’s also known to help with liver drainage, which might sound like a bad thing, but since the liver is responsible for filtering out the toxic materials in the food and drinks we consume, anything that backs up its drainage is not doing you any favors. Asparagus also helps reduce risk of death from breast cancer and increase the odds of survival.


Isolated avocado5. AVOCADOS

This wonder fruit is packed with antioxidants, lowers cholesterol and dilates the blood vessels while blocking artery-destroying toxicity. Avocados contain a nutrient called glutathione, which blocks at least 30 different carcinogens while helping the liver detoxify synthetic chemicals. Researchers at the University of Michigan found that elderly people who had high levels of glutathione were healthier and less likely to suffer from arthritis. Consuming avocados is associated with better diet quality and nutrient intake level, lower intake of added sugars, lower body weight, BMI and waist circumferences, higher “good cholesterol” levels and lower metabolic syndrome risk.


basil6. BASIL

Basil has anti-bacterial properties, and it’s full of antioxidants to protect the liver. The active ingredients are terpenoids. It is also wonderful for digestion and detoxification, too. It supports the functioning of the kidneys and also acts as a diuretic to help the body expel unwanted toxins. Basil has been known to have anti-ulcer qualities as well as antimicrobial effects that guard against bacteria, yeast, fungi and mold. Basil seed can also help with constipation. The anticancer properties of basil may also relate to its ability to influence viral infections.


beets7. BEETS

A single serving of beets can do more for your health than most foods in the produce isle. Not only can they boost your energy and lower your blood pressure, but eating beets in the long-term can help you fight cancer, reduce arthritic pain, boost your brain as well as help you lose weight. Beets contain a unique mixture of natural plant chemicals (phytochemicals) and minerals that make them superb fighters of infection, blood purifiers, and liver cleansers. They also help boost the body’s cellular intake of oxygen, making beets excellent overall body cleansers. When you’re detoxing, beets will help by making sure that the toxins you’re getting out actually make it out of your body. Many detox cleanses go wrong when toxins are reintroduced to the body because they don’t make it all the way out.


blueberries8. BLUEBERRIES

Blueberries contain natural aspirin that helps lessen the tissue-damaging effects of chronic inflammation, while lessening pain. Just 300 grams of blueberries protects against DNA damage. Blueberries also act as antibiotics by blocking bacteria in the urinary tract, thereby helping to prevent infections. They have antiviral properties and are loaded with super-detoxifying phytonutrients called proanthocyanidins.


brazil_nuts9. BRAZIL NUTS

These tasty treats are packed with selenium, which is key to flushing mercury out of your body. The body uses selenium to make ‘selenoproteins’, which work like antioxidants preventing damage to cells and there is growing body of evidence to show it has a key role in our health. The consumption of brazil nuts has been found to be inversely associated with risk of pancreatic cancer, independent of other potential risk factors for pancreatic cancer.


Brocoli Crowns 000110. BROCCOLI & BROCCOLI SPROUTS

Broccoli specifically works with the enzymes in your liver to turn toxins into something your body can eliminate easily. If you’re stuck for ways on how to make broccoli taste better try dehydrating or consider eating it raw. But don’t microwave it as this destroys both the nutritional and detox potential. Broccoli contains a very powerful anti-cancer, anti-diabetic and anti-microbial called sulforaphane which helps prevent cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis and allergies.

broccoli-sproutsBroccoli sprouts can actually provide more benefit than regular broccoli as they contain 20 times more sulfurophane. They contain important phytochemicals that are released when they’re chopped, chewed, fermented, or digested. The substances are released then break down into sulfurophanes, indole-3-carbinol and D-glucarate, which all have a specific effect on detoxification. Add these to your salads and get creative with them in your meals. Researchers have found that an oral preparation made from broccoli sprouts trigger an increase in inflammation-fighting enzymes in the upper airways.


cabbage11. CABBAGE

In addition to cleansing your liver, cabbage will also aid in helping you go to the bathroom, which in turn helps you expel the toxins, getting them out of your system so you can start fresh. It contains sulfur, which is essential when it comes to breaking down chemicals and removing them from your body. Along with other cole crops, cabbage is a source ofindole-3-carbinol, a chemical that boosts DNA repair in cells and appears to block the growth of cancer cells.


cilantro12. CILANTRO

Cilantro, also known as coriander, Chinese parsley or dhania, contains an abundance of antioxidants. Cilantro helps mobilize mercury and other metals out of the tissue so it can attach to it other compounds and allow it to be excreted from the body. It also contains an antibacterial compound called dodecenal, which laboratory tests showed is twice as effective as the commonly used antibiotic drug gentamicin at killing Salmonella.


cinnamon13. CINNAMON

The oils from cinnamon contain active components called cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl acetate, and cinnamyl alcohol. Cinnamaldehyde has been well-researched for its effects on blood platelets helps prevent unwanted clumping of blood cells. Cinnamon’s essential oils also qualify it as an “anti-microbial” food, and cinnamon has been studied for its ability to help stop the growth of bacteria as well as fungi, including the commonly problematic yeast Candida. Cinnamon’s antimicrobial properties are so effective that recent research demonstrates this spice can be used as an alternative to traditional food preservatives. It has one of the highest antioxidant values of all foods and its use in medicine treats everything from nausea to menstruation and energy to diabetes.


ginger14. GINGER

Along side turmeric, ginger is one of the world’s most potent disease-fighting spices. Ginger spikes your metabolism, flushes out waste, is thought to help liver function, and has some astringent properties. Some detox diets ask you to chew on ginger root. You may also find that adding it to hot water makes the water taste better. Basically any way you can think of it get it into your system is going to be beneficial, especially if you’re suffering from a fatty liver caused by too much alcohol, or too many toxic foods and drinks.



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