Chillaxin’ and Chowder

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It’s Friday, one of my favorite days. The possibility of the weekend looms large. A whole two days to forget about work and hang out with friends and family. As Friday eases into the evening, it has always felt like kind of a magical time of the week, like the universe shifts a bit and breathes a collective sigh of relief that a two day reprieve is eminent. Whether your days off fall on the weekend, or sometime during the week, there is something special about knowing you have a “rest” day ahead.

Being able to truly relax represents something that helps the body heal and the mind rejuvenate. It creates a balance in the body that allows you to be a better human and a more engaged person. Unfortunately, studies show that Americans are finding it more and more difficult to de-stress and chill out. According to Harvard Health, almost “75% of Americans…said that their stress levels are so high that they feel unhealthy.” Americans are literally stressing themselves to death. In order to live an abundant life, you must find ways to deal with the stress of living. I know that some people face monumental struggles everyday and the thought of relaxing in the midst of such challenges appears impossible. However, in order to shine in this life, finding peace in the midst of overwhelming obstacles represents an imperative. You don’t have to go on a retreat or spend a ton of money in order to find your peace. The following list represents inexpensive, yet totally effective ways to relax and chill out.

Unplug. Put away your computer, cell phone and any other electronic devices. Have a weekend where you don’t connect on any social media and you don’t text with friends.

Play games with the family. I’ve already blogged about the awesomeness of game playing, but I say it again, because it really embodies a great way to reconnect as a family and unwind.

Take a walk, even if it’s freezing cold or blisteringly hot. Get outside and feel the sun on your face and the wind in your hair. Soaking up nature – even in your neighborhood – clears the head.

Take a hot bath with Epsom salts and essential oils. Run a hot bath. Put in about a cup of Epsom salts and several drops of essential oil (I like lavender and/or rose). Light some candles and put on soothing music (I have a George Winston Pandora feed that’s fantastic – it’s okay to use your phone for music)! Pour yourself a glass of wine or make a cup of herbal tea. Soak in your tub for 30 – 45 minutes. Threaten on pain of death anyone who interrupts your “spa” time!

Meditate, pray or sit quietly for twenty minutes. Whatever you want to call it, being still for 15 – 20 minutes has a wonderful effect on your psyche. Breathe deeply and concentrate on things that bring you joy. You’ll be surprised how rejuvenated this makes you feel.

TURN OFF THE TELEVISION. This is a biggy and perhaps one of the most difficult to do. Not only do I recommend turning off the TV, I suggest cutting the cable all together. For the most part, the shows that the networks air create tension and reduce relaxation. I’m going to do an entire blog next week about television and how it causes stress. Try to go a whole weekend without watching anything, movie or television show. Besides, you’re too busy taking walks, playing games, meditating and soaking in tubs to watch television!

Eat high quality, whole food. Eating healthy food can change your whole mood. Ingesting plenty of complex carbohydrates, fruits and veggies takes stress off your insides, so you can feel calm on the outside. Try to go a whole weekend without eating any processed food. Plan ahead and have tons of fruits and veggies ready to eat. Watch the grocery store fliers and buy the produce that’s on sale for the week. Have some whole grains cooked and ready. An entire weekend of eating whole food will leave you energized and ready for the week ahead. The following recipe is incredibly easy to make and really inexpensive. I call it my Chillaxin’ Chowder because the nutrients it contains helps me de-stress and feel awesome! Relax. Keep Shining. Peace Out!

Chillaxin’ Chowder! (Adapted from The Starch Solution’s Quinoa Chowder)

8 Cups vegetable broth

1 Cup quinoa, I use red quinoa (rinse it thoroughly under running water using a fine meshed strainer. If you don’t rinse, it will be bitter)

5 Cups chopped potatoes, any kind

2 Sweet onions, finely chopped

8 Cloves garlic

¼ cup chopped jarred jalapenos (you can use fresh, but use less)

4 Cups fresh or frozen corn, thawed

1 Cup unsweetened almond milk, or milk of your choice (unsweetened)

8 Cups fresh spinach, chopped

Chili sauce to taste

Fresh parsley

Add broth, quinoa, potatoes, onion and garlic to large soup pot along with 4 cups water. Bring to boil and reduce heat; cook until potatoes are tender, around 30 minutes. With a potato masher, mash the potatoes in the soup. Add in the jalapenos, corn and almond milk. Cook for around 15 minutes more. Add in the spinach and simmer just until spinach is tender (about 5 minutes). When serving, add chili sauce to each bowl. Sprinkle with parsley. Enjoy!

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