Friday, January 27, 2012

STRESS! We All Have Some, So What Can We Do About It?

Stress is a fact of life and all of us experience it in some way and to some degree each day. There are major life stressors, like moving, break-ups, car accidents and health problems, along with the minor stresses that we must confront every day. A stressful day for one person might mean managing a demanding schedule so that she doesn’t disappoint anyone who is relying on her; for another person it might be having too many things to do at one time. A third person might create her own stress by setting unrealistic deadlines. Someone else might be stressed because she leaves things to the last minute. Another might worry about what will happen if things don’t get done on time, begin to pile up, and then fall through the cracks.

Our “10 Years Younger in 60 Days” guest this week was yoga teacher and life coach Katrine Barclay, who helped us to understand what stress is and how it impacts our lives, and gave us tips to help us cope with and reduce stress.

One of the ways in which we can better understand how stress affects us is to identify how we respond to stress. When our prehistoric ancestors were confronted by stress – for instance, if they were being chased by a mountain lion – they typically chose a “Flight” or “Fight” response; they either turned and fought the mountain lion or they ran away. Many of us still respond to stress with a Flight of Fight response; some of us also choose another response, which is to Freeze and do nothing until the cause of the stress goes away.

Katrine Barclay de-stressing the Adair "family" 

Katrine shared a very helpful worksheet with us with suggestions on how to cope with stress depending on how you respond. For instance, if you are a Flight Stress Response Type, you might try doing one thing at a time; work with your “feet on the ground”; practice meditation or gentle yoga or a low key exercise; or try slow, deliberate walking or calm, quiet stretching. For Fighter Types, try taking a brisk walk or engage in mindful, invigorating exercise; practice gentle, flowing yoga; just walk away – in other words, take a time out; meditate; practice slow breathing or try shoulder rolls. For anyone whose response is to Freeze, try walking meditation or standing and upwards stretching; practice moderate, mindful eating and sleeping; go for a fast walk, jog or run; engage in a vigorous yoga practice; increase your movement; or use breathing techniques that create heat.

Once you are aware of the stressors in your life and how you typically respond to them, you can make changes that will help you cope or eliminate the stress. Putting an event into perspective is useful. Katrine says it is all about “not believing everything you think.” Many times we make up stories about a situation that are not valid. She suggests checking in with our self and always asking “Is it true? Yes or no, unequivocally?” Many of us, she says, spend a lot of time with COWS – all the Could-a, Ought-a, Would-a, Should-a things that our mind deals with every day, and that steal a lot of our energy and add stress to our lives. A simple “Is it true?” asked each time might help us see a situation for how it really is.

So, what can you do if you are really stressed – for instance, you are cooking breakfast for 20, the boiler breaks, and one of the guests asks for a fresh cup of coffee? Katrine suggests, “slow down to hurry up.” Sometimes all it takes is a few seconds to take a couple of deep breaths to put everything into perspective and help you see how to proceed without totally losing it.

Katrine’s suggestions for ongoing life changes to manage stress include taking time off – “work-free” vacations; getting plenty of rest, eating right, and exercising; getting outside; paying attention to stress signals and choosing to relax; going on a “media fast”; making positive, self-care choices; building a time every day to “do nothing”; play every day.

Our evening with Katrine ended with a guided relaxation exercise that left us feeling calm and relaxed and we left Week #7 of “10 Years Younger in 60 Days” with a handful of tips and tools that each of us can use to better manage and reduce the stress in our lives.

For more information about Katrine’s Wellness At Work yoga classes at WREN or her life coaching services, including stress management, contact her at (603) 823-7441 or

Healthy Snack:
Chef Orlo Coots prepared not just one, but two healthy snacks for us this week: really yummy “Dive into the Dark Side” Bars, and Lifestyle 180 Quinoa and Fruit Pudding, which was less enthusiastically received -- by some because it contains bananas and by others because of the texture.

“Dive into the Dark Side” Bars
Makes 24 bars (1 ounce each), about 110 calories each

1 cup toasted walnuts
3/4 cup golden raisins
3/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries
5 brown rice cakes, broken into chunks
2 TB agave nectar
2 TB orange juice
1 TB vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon
7 ounces 70% and 3 ounces 85% dark bittersweet chocolate bar, broken into chunks
5 TB 2% milk

Place walnuts in food processor and pulse until chopped. Add raisins and cranberries and pulse until mixture is finely chopped. Add rice cakes; process until finely chopped. Add agave nectar, orange juice, vanilla, and cinnamon; process until mixture holds together. Transfer mixture to an 8-inch square glass baking dish; cover with plastic wrap and press into a firm, even thickness. Remove plastic wrap.

Combine chocolate and milk and place over a double boiler of simmering water. Cook, stirring constantly, until chocolate is melted and smooth. Spread chocolate evenly over rice cake mixture, cover, and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving. Cut into 12 (3- x 2-inch) bars.

Lifestyle 180 Quinoa and Fruit Pudding
9 servings, 130 calories per serving
(Pudding has 4 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein and only 1 gram of fat)

1 cup organic quinoa
2 cups water
1/2 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup unsweetened apple juice
1 tsp grated orange zest
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Rinse quinoa in cold water if saponin has been removed; if not, rinse in hot water. Add rinsed quinoa to boiling water; reduce heat to low, and simmer for 7 minutes. Add dried apricots and cranberries and simmer until liquid is absorbed, about 5 to 7 minutes. While quinoa is cooking, combine remaining ingredients in food processor and puree until smooth. Remove quinoa from heat, combine pureed mixture with quinoa, and mix well. Place in serving bowls and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Next Week:

This is it! Week #8, and the conclusion of “10 Years Younger in 60 Days.” A little birdie told us we might be having a pool party to celebrate our accomplishments; we don’t know yet if that means sitting around a pool and dipping our toes in the water, or a vigorous game of pool in Adair’s Granite Room. Stay tuned for next week’s wrap-up.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Make Every Bite (and Sip) Count

Great Wines from the Lands Down Under
As I prepared the menu and started to think about the food preparations for our upcoming “Down Under” Wine dinner, I also started to think back on how much the wine world has changed since I started cooking over 25 years ago. Back then, very few wines from either Australia or New Zealand were served or even available to purchase here in the States. Things have certainly changed and definitely for the better.

Australia and New Zealand — the lands down under — have both gained a reputation for producing some of the world’s best wines. While both countries have been producing wines since the late 1700s/early 1800s, they have only in the past 30 years been recognized by the rest of the world as being on par with the best. Australia’s Shiraz and New Zealand’s Sauvignon Blanc have become the standard by which all other growers are judged.

In addition to the celebrated Shiraz (also known as Syrah), Australia is producing high quality Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir. The major white wines produced include Chardonnay, Semillon, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc.

There are over 50 wine-growing regions in Australia, most of which are concentrated in South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia.

South Australia produces more wine than any other Australian state. South Australian vineyards are blessed with cool winters, warm summers and a long ripening season. The most famous regions in South Australia include the Barossa Valley, known for its Shiraz, the Clare Valley, known for its Rieslings, and the Adelaide Hills, known for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The Limestone Coast, known as “the Bordeaux of Australia,” is where the vines grow in rich, red soil and which is home to regions such as the Coonawarra and Padthaway.

Australia’s oldest and best known wine regions can be found in New South Wales (NSW). Located near Sydney, this large area has many diverse types of grape varieties. More than half of the wine produced from this region is exported to the United States.

Victoria produces some of Australia’s best sparkling wines. Vineyards such as Chateau Yering and Domain Chandon both export large volumes of their popular sparkling wines to North America that are made with the same grape varieties (Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier) used in Champagne.

Western Australia is home to some of Australia’s best new wineries. Vines are now grown from the Coral Coast (North of Perth) to the cooler Southern climates of Margaret River, the Swan Valley and Albany. Margaret River, especially, has become known for its great wine. Its 60 or so wineries produce only 1% of Australia’s wine, but 15% of Australia’s premium wine. Wineries in Margaret River include: Vasse Felix, Leeuwin Estate, Mad Fish and Evans & Tate.

New Zealand wines have a similar story. They have been produced for years, but just recently have they earned worldwide acclaim. Their vineyards are all relatively close to the sea and all enjoy the cooling sea breeze, which aids in their ripening.

While there are many different grape varieties grown in New Zealand, it is the Sauvignon Blanc wines which have become some of the best in world. With a climate similar to Australia, New Zealand is also known for quality Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Merlot wines as well.

New Zealand’s best known wine region is Marlborough, located at the northeast end of South Island. Here, the top wineries such as Oyster Bay, Villa Maria, Pernod Ricard, Nobilo and Sacred Hill produce the world-class Sauvignon Blancs for which New Zealand is most famous.

So, next time you are shopping for wine, do yourself a favor and explore some of the world’s best wines from the lands down under.

— Orlo Coots is Head Chef at Adair Country Inn & Restaurant. Enjoy his cooking featuring local produce, cheeses and meats Thursday through Mondays by making a reservation at (603) 444-2600. Orlo can be reached at for questions about this article or any other food-related questions. Remember — whether cooking for one or for a crowd, make every bite count.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Only Floss the Teeth You Want to Keep

F.l.t.r: Brad Chapman, Dr Bernd Weber, Eileen Alexander, Dr. Roy Brewster, Kathleen White, Orlo Coots

We’ve been eating more fruits and vegetables, trying to get enough sleep, exercising more and losing weight, but that’s not all that the “10 Years Younger in 60 Days” program is about. When we started the program we also made a commitment to have a medical checkup and to receive regular dental care.

This week, Innkeeper Ilja invited Dr. Roy Brewster and Dr. Bernd Weber of Mountain View Dental in Whitefield, to be our guests and educate us about the importance of good oral health.

Cavities, plaque and tartar buildup, and the loss of teeth as we age all have a tremendous impact on our overall health, but they can be easily prevented by regular dental care and a good diet that limits the amounts of processed foods, sugar and acid-forming foods we consume. The photographs that Dr. Weber used in his Power Point presentation made us cringe, as they showed extreme examples of the decay and tooth loss we could expect if we neglect our teeth. And, as Dr. Weber pointed out -- and the photos showed -- when people don’t have their teeth they age tremendously.

Some studies show that poor dental health is also linked to other health problems, like heart disease and Alzheimer’s, although a person’s lifestyle may also contribute to some diseases.

One of the best things we can do for our teeth, said the dentists, is to reduce or eliminate sugar from our diet. Even though advances in technology during the past 10-20 years indicate that we should have healthier, stronger teeth, said Dr. Brewster, there has been a tremendous increase in cavities, particularly in teens, from the sodas that we drink. We used to drink an 8-ounce soda once in while, but now it’s common for us to consume soda in 16- and 20-ounce cups – and more than once a day. Every time you take a sip of soda, coffee, juice or tea, he said, the demineralization of your teeth begins. It’s actually better to drink your beverage at one sitting, rather than spacing it out over a period of hours, because every time you take a drink of soda, acid erodes your teeth for 20 minutes.

“Sugar is a drug,” he said. “You get decay and you get fat.” Put another way, “sip all day and you get decay.”

Innkeeper Ilja told of her experience at an eco-reserve in Ecuador in the early ‘90s. The hotel hired members of the native population who had previously never eaten sugar, coffee, lemonade or processed food. One day, three months after the native staff members had begun, the hotel ran out of sugar and the employees rioted and refused to work because there was no sugar. “They had become addicted in just that short a period of time,” said Ilja.

Dr. Weber said that he tells parents that when their kids are thirsty they should be offered water instead of juice. “You aren’t being nice to your kids by giving them juice. Once they try sweets, they are always going to want sweets.”

Along with daily brushing and flossing (Remember – floss only the teeth you want to keep!), the dentists recommend rinsing with Listerine or ACT with flouride. Water piks and power toothbrushes are also good dental care tools. And, of course, regular teeth cleaning by a dental hygienist and examination by a dentist contribute to the overall good health of your mouth.

It’s very important, said Dr. Brewster, that as we get older we continue to move our bodies and take care of our teeth. There never comes a time, he said, when we can sit back and say that we’re old enough now that we don’t have to do that. “Stay disciplined for the rest of your lives. You can’t let up,” he said. “Having teeth versus not having teeth gives you six extra years.”

For more information about Dr. Brewster and Dr. Weber and Mountain View Dental and the services they provide, click on

Healthy Snack:
Kathleen prepared this week’s Healthy Snack, a wonderful crunchy granola that she served with both blueberry and Greek yogurt. Delicious!

3 cups oatmeal (not quick-cooking)
1 cup nuts, chopped
1 cup dried fruit (Kathleen used blueberries, cranberries and apricots, but any combination of dried fruits will do; chop if in large pieces)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Tb. cinnamon
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup maple syrup

Combine first six ingredients in a large bowl and stir. Pour the maple syrup over the mixture and stir. Spread the mixture on a cookie sheet sprayed with Pam. Toast in a 325-degree oven for about 45 minutes, stirring once halfway through.

Next Week:
After the evening’s presentation, we are all going to be diligent about brushing and flossing, and watching the sugary beverages we consume, as we continue into our 7th week of “Ten Years Younger in 60 Days.” We definitely want to keep our smiles healthy!

Friday, January 6, 2012

It’s All About Feet!

With a full house over New Year’s that kept us on our feet hour after hour, we were ready to experience some tender loving tootsie care, which is why Innkeeper Ilja had lined up Lise Grondin Danault, a reflexologist who offers ionic detox foot baths, as our weekly guest, assisted by Tamar Smookler, a certified massage therapist and owner of Inner Truth Massage in Littleton.
We’d met Tamar a couple of weeks earlier when she presented a program on the benefits of massage. Lise, who holds office hours at Inner Truth Massage and in Berlin through her business, called Osmosis, is a certified reflexology therapist and a certified ionic footbath practitioner. While most of us were familiar with reflexology – the art and science of foot massage, we were unfamiliar with the benefits of ionic detox foot baths. 

During the foot bath, your feet soak in a tub of warm water, Lise explained, “while a computerized ionCleanse® unit runs through its alternating cycles and generates millions of neutralizing ions.” These ions are
absorbed by the feet, followed by toxins being released by your organs through the pores in the feet. It all

Brad, Kathleen and Orlo taking a Ionic detox foot bath
sounded a bit unbelievable, but we could see the results in the water of the three people who volunteered to try the footbath. Depending on the toxins in your body, says Lise, the water turns a different color – brown, orange, black, yellow, green – and may also fill with what looked like particulate matter. The color and consistency helps the therapist to assess which organs are releasing toxins. The goal is to cleanse the body’s tissues and organs over a series of sessions, helping them to rest and heal. Ionic foot baths can treat a variety of ailments, says Lise, like joint and muscle pain, fatigue, and allergies.

While Lise was overseeing the foot baths, Tamar offered the rest of us relaxing mini foot massages. Reflex points on the feet correspond to different points and organs in the body. During reflexology, the therapist massages the foot and takes notice of any tenderness or irregularities. Massaging these points helps bring the body into balance, and provides a feeling of well-being.

Many health practitioners believe that the feet are the foundation of a healthy body. If that’s true, then we all walked away from the evening’s program just a little bit healthier.

More information about foot reflexology and ionic detox can be found on Lise’s website, Learn about Inner Truth Massage at

Weekly Weigh-In
The pounds continue to come off, slowly but surely, and the group consensus is that we’ve embarked on a good program. Feedback has been positive. Comments from some in our group:

Kathleen has enjoyed the program, especially the nutritionist. “The program has been worth it, just to learn that stuff.”

“I like it,” says Orlo. “I’ve lost weight and am eating better. Now that the holidays are over, the next step is real aggressive exercise. I don’t miss what I’ve dropped out of my diet as much as I though I would.”

Peet says he’s “enjoying it and learning a bunch.”

Brad is more aware of what he’s eating and how he’s exercising. “You can’t let excuses get in the way.”

“I knew it was going to be good,” says Tinah. “It’s given me more information than I had. It makes you stop and think about what you put in your mouth. We’re all set in our ways. The program has helped us step out of the box.”

Healthy Snack:
Peet contributed our healthy snack this week, a large plate of crisp celery and carrot sticks accompanied by a small bowl of Ranch dressing, which everyone scoffed down. It was simple and delicious and proves that you don’t have to follow a complicated recipe to have a satisfying and good-for-you snack. A real winner!

Next Week:
Next week is the 6th week of the “Ten Years Younger in 60 Days” program. Innkeeper Ilja hasn’t let us know what the program will be (we love surprises!), but based on past programs it’s sure to be both inspiring and educational. Everyone is feeling “in the groove” and making good strides toward their goals.