The first time I tried sunflower seed butter was at a farmers market in Portland, Oregon several years back. I had just passed by the third strawberry stand lining the market’s north side when I stumbled upon a tent with a middle-aged gentleman pedaling exotic-looking nut and seed butters. One of the butters was made of sunflower seeds. Despite my initial reservations I dipped my toothpick in, gave it a lick and walked away with a half pint.
That’s the kind of thing that happens when you visit a bustling farmers market. You try new exotic flavors and discover little gems of health like sunflower seed butter. Thanks Portland. I owe you my love of yet another nut butter for that one.
Since trying sunflower butter that first time I’ve experimented with making my own nut and seed butters at home in order to venture outside the peanut butter realm. Almond, cashew and chia seed nut butters are all delicious but I’d yet to try my hand at sunflower seeds. That is, until now.
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Most of us have heard of comfort food. Sticky, gooey, chocolate chip cookies straight out of the oven, a plate of warm mashed potatoes and rich gravy, or a bowl full of creamy chicken and dumpling soup are just a few items that come to mind when the need for some self-pampering arises. The problem is, the food we reach for when we need comfort is usually far from comforting. Indigestion and bloating, heartburn, or pure guilt are just a few of the nagging side effects that can actually worsen our mood as a result of our epicurean indulgence.
If you’re going to sink in to comfort food and eat feelings of happiness, sadness, or just overall feel good, try these three foods that you wouldn’t think of as typical comfort foods. These actually have the ability to lift your spirits and get rid of the blahs without the bloat.
This cooling fruit not only tastes great and has a pleasurable texture, but it conjures up memories or images of picnics, family gatherings, and summer vacation, too. When you eat a slice of watermelon, listen for the crunch, feel your mouth water, and have some fun spitting the seeds onto the ground. Turn an ordinary eating experience into an adventure, and before you know it, you will feel like a kid again, tickled by a childlike zest for life.
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Along with fall comes the seasonal flu. It’s inevitable. People at high risk of catching the flu should protect themselves first and foremost with a flu shot. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has great information on steps you can take to prevent a flu infection. It includes the basics like washing your hands and avoiding people who exhibit flu-like symptoms. But I’m going to focus on an area that is often overlooked – your immune system.
The job of your immune system is to protect your body from bacterial and viral infections, such as the ones that cause the common cold and seasonal flu. The immune system protects you in three different ways:
- It creates a barrier that prevents bacteria and viruses from entering your body (your skin).
- If a bacteria or virus does enter the body, the immune system tries to detect and eliminate it before it can make itself at home and reproduce.
- If the virus or bacteria is able to reproduce and start causing problems, your immune system is in charge of eliminating it.
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