Your Welcome!!! – Hot Chocolate French Toast Recipe, plus learn a little Japanese in the process

Happy National Cashew Day!!! – Health Benefits of Cashews

Cashew Nuts

Here are seven health benefits of cashews.

Cancer Prevention
Cashews are ripe with proanthocyanidins, a class of flavanols that actually starve tumors and stop cancer cells from dividing. Studies have also shown that cashews can reduce your colon cancer risk. Their high copper content also endows the seed with the power to eliminate free radicals and they are also good sources of phytochemicals and antioxidants that protect us from heart disease and cancer.

Heart Health
Cashews have a lower fat content than most other nuts and most of it is in the form of oleic acid, the same heart-healthy monounsaturated fat found in olive oil. Studies show that oleic acid promotes good cardiovascular health by helping to reduce triglyceride levels, high levels of which are associated with an increased risk for heart disease. Cashews are wonderfully cholesterol free and their high antioxidant content helps lower risk of cardiovascular and coronary heart diseases. The magnesium in cashews helps lower blood pressure and helps prevent heart attacks.

Hair and Skin Health
Cashews are rich in the mineral copper. An essential component of many enzymes, copper plays its part in a broad array of processes. One copper-containing enzyme, tyrosinase, converts tyrosine to melanin, which is the pigment that gives hair and skin its color. Without the copper cashews are so abundant in, these enzymes would not be able to do their jobs.

Bone Health
Cashews are particularly rich in magnesium. It’s a well-known fact that calcium is necessary for strong bones, but magnesium is as well. Most of the magnesium in the human body is in our bones. Some of it helps lend bones their physical structure, and the remainder is located on the surface of the bone where it is stored for the body to use as it needs. Copper found in cashews is vital for the function of enzymes involved in combining collagen and elastin, providing substance and flexibility in bones and joints.

Good for the Nerves By preventing calcium from rushing into nerve cells and activating them, magnesium keeps our nerves relaxed and thereby our blood vessels and muscles too. Too little magnesium means too much calcium can gain entrance to the nerve cell, causing it to send too many messages, and leading to too much contraction.

Insufficient magnesium leads to higher blood pressure, muscle tension, migraine headaches, soreness and fatigue. Not surprisingly, studies have demonstrated that magnesium helps diminish the frequency of migraine attacks, lowers blood pressure and helps prevent heart attacks.

Prevent Gallstones
Data collected on 80,718 women from the Nurses’ Health Study demonstrates that women who eat at least an ounce of nuts each week, such as cashews, have a 25% lower risk of developing gallstones.

Weight Loss
People who eat nuts twice a week are much less likely to gain weight than those who rarely eat nuts. Cashew nuts are indeed relatively high in fat, but it is considered “good fat.” This is attributable to the ideal fat ratio in the nut, 1:2:1 for saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated, respectively, which is recommended by scientists for tip-top health. Cashew nuts contain less fat than most other popular nuts, including peanuts, pecans, almonds and walnuts. They are dense in energy and high in dietary fiber, making them a very valuable snack for managing weight gain.

Photo Credit:

Credit: Health Diaries

Benefits of Drinking Coffee before Exercising – Happy Espresso Day!!!




The study basically simulated your average morning: a mug of coffee to wake up, a little gym time, another cup with breakfast, followed by lunch. Fourteen participants completed two moderate workouts on a stationary bike: one where they took caffeine (equal to two 8-ounce cups of coffee or 4 cups of black tea) 90 minutes before the workout, and one where they took a placebo. When caffeinated, the participants reported the ride as way easier than it was without the stimulant.

Coffee before Exercising:

1) Enhanced Performance 

Time and time again, caffeine has been proven to be a powerful ergogenic aid – that is, something which contributes to improved performance during high intensity exercise. 

Studies reveal that after caffeine consumption, athletes can train for much longer and with more power/speed.

2) Boosts Focus

A pre-workout cup o‘ Joe can also boost mental focus during exercise.

Combined with the increase in endurance and power/speed provided, this can lead to extremely productive workout sessions, as you huff and puff with the seeming intensity of an international athlete.

3) Accelerate Fat Loss

Another benefit of taking a cup of coffee prior to lacing up your trainers is that caffeine is proven to provide a range of fat loss benefits.

Coffee can help burn fat as, during exercise, it causes the body to use fat cells for energy as opposed to glycogen.

What’s more, a caffeine intake correlates with increase metabolism, which forces your body to burn more calories during the day, and it also suppresses appetite, satiating those cravings which are oh so bad for your waistline!  

4) Diminished Muscle Pain

Studies also show that a pre-workout injection of caffeine can lead to decreased muscle soreness when exercising.

So whether you’re pumping iron or racing down the tarmac, a cup of coffee will help you perform more reps and allow you to run for further with less muscular pain, resulting in a much more effective workout.

Credit: Cafe 2 U



The Dragon’s Philosophy – Bend but do not Break



Happy Peanut Butter Day!!! – Peanut Butter Fudge Brownie Bars Recipe




  1. 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine , melted
  2. 1-1/2 cups sugar
  3. 2 eggs
  4. 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  5. 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  6. 2/3 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
  7. 1/4 cup milk
  8. 1-1/4 cups chopped pecans or walnuts , divided
  9. 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
  10. 1-2/3 cups (10-oz. pkg.) REESE’S Peanut Butter Chips
  11. 1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)
  12. 1/4 cup HERSHEY’S SPECIAL DARK Chocolate Chips or HERSHEY’S Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips


  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 13x9x2 baking pan.
  1. Combine melted butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla in large bowl; beat well. Add flour, cocoa and milk; beat until blended. Stir in 1 cup nuts. Pour into prepared pan.
  1. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or just until edges begin to pull away from sides of pan. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.
  1. Melt 1/2 cup butter and peanut butter chips in medium saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Add sweetened condensed milk, stirring until smooth; pour over baked layer.
  1. Place chocolate chips in small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at MEDIUM (50%) 45 seconds; stir. If necessary, microwave at MEDIUM an additional 15 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating, just until chips are melted when stirred. Drizzle bars with melted chocolate; sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup nuts. Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm. Cut into bars. Cover; refrigerate leftover bars. Makes about 24 bars.

Credit: Hersheys

The Great American Smokeout – Five Ways to Get Ready to Quit Smoking (Tell us how you quit the habit)



Thursday is the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout and it’s another opportunity for smokers to give up the habit once and for all.

The Smokeout encourages people to quit or make a plan to quit.

Don’t quit quitting. It’s never to late to stop. Maybe you’ve said these phases to yourself and just need a little more support to finally quit smoking for good.

Five Ways to Get Ready to Quit Smoking

Quitting smoking can be hard, so a good plan can help you get past symptoms of withdrawal. Five steps can help.

  1. Set a quit date. Choose the Great American Smokeout or another quit day within the next 2 weeks.
  2. Tell your family and friends about your quit plan. Share your quit date with the important people in your life and ask for support. A daily phone call, e-mail, or text message can help you stay on course and provide moral support. Try SmokefreeTEXT for 24/7 help on your mobile phone.
  3. Be prepared for challenges. The urge to smoke is short—usually only 3 to 5 minutes. Surprised? Those moments can feel intense. Even one puff can feed a craving and make it stronger. Before your quit day, write down healthy ways to cope.
    • Drink water.
    • Take a walk or ride your bike.
    • Listen to a favorite song or play a game.
    • Call or text a friend.
  4. Remove cigarettes and other tobacco from your home, car, and workplace. Throw away your cigarettes, matches, lighters, and ashtrays. Clean and freshen your car, home, and workplace. Old cigarette odors can cause cravings.

Talk to your pharmacist, doctor, or quitline coach about quit options. Nicotine patches, gum, or other approved quit medication can help with cravings.

Happy Baklava Day!!! – Sweet Honey Baklava Recipe



This honey baklava is flaky, crisp and tender and I love that it isn’t overly sweet. It’s basically a party in your mouth. I am a huge fan of baklava and this is the BEST baklava recipe I have ever tried. Hands down. You will love the hint of mellow lemony flavor which offsets the sweetness and compliments the cinnamon. It’s truly delicious. Store-bought baklava has nothing on this and trust me, I’ve been around the block when shopping for baklava!

Any baklava is a little tedious to make, but I’ve shared all of my best tips and advise to ensure you are successful in making yours. You will love that this recipe can be made several days in advance of your shindig and keeps beautifully at room temperature for at least a week.

1 (16 oz) pkg phyllo dough; thawed according to package instructions
2 sticks (1/2 lb) melted unsalted Butter
1 lb (about 4 cups or 3 3/4 cups chopped) walnuts, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp lemon juice (juice of 1/2 lemon?)
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup honey
Melted chocolate chips & chopped walnuts for garnish, optional.


1. Thaw phyllo dough according to package instructions (this is best done overnight in the fridge, then place it on the counter for 1 hour before starting your recipe to bring it to room temp).
2. Trim phyllo dough to fit your baking sheet. My phyllo dough package had 2 rolls with with a total of 40 sheets that measured 9×14 so I had to trim them slightly. You can trim one stack at a time then cover with a damp towel to keep from drying out.
3. Butter the bottom and sides of a 13×9 non-stick baking pan.

Check out the rest of the recipe at Nastaha’s Kitchen

Sundays are for Lovers- All you Need is Love by The Beatles (Much Love in Paris)

All You Need Is Love (Across The Universe)

Happy National Pickle Day!!! – Benefits of Eating Pickles


pickle dancing gif cute

National Pickle Day is observed annually on November 14. It may be a Dill, Gherkin, Cornichon, Brined, Kosher Dill, Polish, Hungarian, Lime, Bread and Butter, Swedish and Danish, or Kool-Aid Pickle. Whichever is your choice, eat them all day long.

The term pickle comes from the Dutch word pekel, meaning brine.  In the United States, the word pickle typically refers to a pickled cucumber.

Health Benefits of Pickles

Free radical scavenging from antioxidants: Pickles can be good source of antioxidants, especially Decalepis hamiltonii or Swallow root. As the vegetables or unripe fruits are stored fresh without cooking, the antioxidants present in those vegetables or unripe fruits are preserved as it is. Antioxidants are those micronutrients that help in protecting our body against the attacks of free radicals. Free radicals are unstable chemicals that are produced during cellular metabolism. These unstable chemicals react with our cells and damage our DNA to become unstable and in the process, create more and more free radicals. We can protect ourselves from free radical attacks by consuming food with high antioxidants. A lot of emphasis these days is put on antioxidants by dieticians and doctors.

Supply of probiotic or gut-friendly bacteria: Probiotic bacteria are those friendly bacteria that are present in our digestive system. These bacteria actually help us in the digestion of food. Sometimes, due to the use of antibiotics, along with invading bacteria, these friendly bacteria are also killed. The fall in their numbers can cause digestive problems that can be solved by eating pickles made without the use of vinegar. Naturally fermented salt pickles encourage the growth of these friendly bacteria, which will replenish the numbers in our digestive system and restore our health.

Supply of essential minerals and vitamins: Fresh pickles, dips or chutneys are made from leafy vegetables or herbs such as coriander, curry leaves, spinach, parsley, and amaranth. These fresh pickles are interesting and appetizing ways of making children eat their share of leafy vegetables and herbs, which are otherwise boring for children. Eating freshly made pickles not only tastes good, but they also supply essential vitamins such as vitamin C, A, K, folate and minerals like iron, calcium, and potassium. Vitamins and minerals are vital micronutrients which protect us from diseases, help us build immunity, bone strengthening, vision protection, curing anemia, and various other functions.

Diabetes Control: Studies have shown that consuming vinegar based pickles improves hemoglobin levels in diabetic patients, which in turn helps in controlling diabetes. The acetic acid present in vinegar has been noted to be responsible for this phenomenon. However, care must be taken to avoid the consumption of salted pickles as excess salt increases blood pressure.

Improves Digestion: In India, Indian gooseberry or amla (phyllanthus emblica) is one of the favourite fruits that are pickled. This fruit is believed to possess several health benefits according to Ayurveda treatments and moreover, since amla is a seasonal fruit, unripe amla pickles are prepared. It is customary practice in some Indian families to have amla pickle as the first course or an appetizer as it is believed that amla pickle improves digestion.

Credit: Organic Facts

You are what you’re feeling – The Effects of Negative Emotions on our Health



Humans experience an array of emotions, anything from happiness, to sadness to extreme joy and depression. Each one of these emotions creates a different feeling within the body. After all, our body releases different chemicals when we experience various things that make us happy and each chemical works to create a different environment within the body. For example if your brain releases serotonin, dopamine or oxytocin, you will feel good and happy. Convexly, if your body releases cortisol while you are stressed, you will have an entirely different feeling associated more with the body kicking into survival mode.

What about when we are thinking negative thoughts all the time? Or how about when we are thinking positive thoughts? What about when we are not emotionally charged to neither positive nor negative? Let’s explore how these affect our body and life.


Is there duality in our world? Sure, you could say there is to a degree, but mostly we spend a lot of time defining and judging what is to be considered as positive and what we consider to be as negative. The brainis a very powerful tool and as we define what something is or should be, we begin to have that result play out in our world. Have you ever noticed, for example that someone driving can get cut off and lose their lid, get angry and suddenly they are feeling negative, down and in  bad mood? Whereas someone else can get cut off while driving and simply apply the break slightly and move on with their day as if nothing happened. In this case, the same experience yet one sees it as negative while the other doesn’t. So are things innately positive and negative? Or do we define things as positive and negative?


After thinking about it for a moment you might realize that there are in fact no positive or negative experiences other than what we define as such. Therefore our very perception of an experience or situation has the ultimate power as to how we will feel when it’s happening and how our bodies will be affected. While we can always work to move beyond our definitions of each experience and move into a state of mind/awareness/consciousness where we simply accept each experience for what it is and use it as a learning grounds for us, we may not be there yet and so it’s important to understand how certain emotions can affect our health.

“If someone wishes for good health, one must first ask oneself if he is ready to do away with the reasons for his illness. Only then is it possible to help him.” ~Hippocrates


The connection between your mind and body is very powerful and although it cannot be visually seen, the effects your mind can have on your physical body are profound. We can have an overall positive mental attitude and deal directly with our internal challenges and in turn create a healthy lifestyle or we can be in negative, have self destructive thoughts and not deal with our internal issues, possibly even cloak those issues with affirmations and positivity without finding the route and in turn we can create an unhealthy lifestyle. Why is this?

Our emotions and experiences are essentially energy and they can be stored in the cellular memory of our bodies. Have you ever experienced something in your life that left an emotional mark or pain in a certain area of your body? Almost as if you can still feel something that may have happened to you? It is likely because in that area of your body you still hold energy released from that experience that is remaining in that area. I came across an interesting chart that explores some possible areas that various emotions might affect the body.

When you have a pain, tightness or injuries in certain areas, it’s often related to something emotionally you are feeling within yourself. At first glance it may not seem this way because we are usually very out of touch with ourselves and our emotions in this fast paced world, but it’s often the truth. When I’ve had chronic pains in my back, knees, neck or shoulders, it wasn’t exercise, physio or anything in a physical sense that healed it, it was when I dealt with the emotions behind it. I know this because I spent the time and money going to physio and even though I wanted and believed I would get better, something wasn’t being addressed still. The more I addressed the unconscious thought pattern and emotions throughout my body, the more thins loosened up and pain went away.

When you get sick or are feeling a lot of tightness and pain, often times our body is asking us to observe yourself and find peace once again within yourself and your environment. It’s all a learning and growing process we don’t have to judge nor fear.


Davis Suzuki wrote in ‘The Sacred Life’, ‘condensed molecules from breath exhaled from verbal expressions of anger, hatred, and jealousy, contain toxins. Accumulated over 1 hr, these toxins are enough to kill 80 guinea pigs!’ Can you now imagine the harm you are doing to your body when you stay within negative emotions or unprocessed emotional experience throughout the body?

Remember, you have all the power in you to get through anything life throws at you. Instead of labeling with perception the concepts of negative and positive as it relates to each experience you have in your life, try to see things from a  big picture standpoint. Ask yourself, how can this help me to see or learn something? Can I use this to shift my perception? Clear some emotion within myself? Realize something within another and accept it? Whatever it may be, instead of simply reacting, slow things down and observe. You will find you have the tools to process emotions and illness quickly when you see them for what they are and explore why they came up. If you believe you will get sick all the time, and believe you have pain because it’s all out of your control, you will continue to have it all in an uncontrollable manner until you realize the control you have over much of what we attract within the body.

Credits: Joe Martino of Collective Evolution