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A Wine-Less Summer

 

You may be wondering who highjacked my blog. Who is this Florence speaking of a summer without wine? But alas, it is really me. You see, because Tamoxifen (drug to prevent cancer recurrence) can affect liver functioning, I have to get my liver enzymes checked every 6 months. And on my last check, they were not quite right, so I was advised to take a break from booze. It is not easy, but as much as I love my wine, I love my life a lot more!

Being a voracious reader, the first thing I did was stock up on books written by women who have kicked the wine habit, such as This Naked Mind, by Annie Grace. She asserts that the reason we drink is because our unconscious minds are programmed to believe that wine will make us more sophisticated, make life more fun, and relieve our stress. We are programmed by advertising, social media and society in general to believe these things. Some other fallacies we are programmed to believe are: we drink for the taste; there are health benefits of drinking wine; and that drinking leads to better sex. She then systematically refutes each of these false beliefs, her premise being that if we attack the beliefs of the unconscious mind, we will lose our desire to drink.

Well, it is going to take me some time to convince myself that drinking is no fun, but she certainly has something with the whole brain programming thing, which I became acutely aware of as I headed out to Edmonton to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday with Steve. My mind was definitely programmed to associate vacation time with drinking time, but is it any wonder? From the time I picked up the Air Canada magazine, En Route from the seat pocket in front of me, my mind was bombarded with images of mature, sophisticated women wearing sexy, low cut dresses and savoring a glass of wine; younger, sportier types drinking beer in the great Canadian outdoors; and James-Bond-type men with fancy watches drinking hard liquor on the rocks. I have to give it to them, the alcohol industry sure does know how to make booze look attractive. When I ordered a tin of Pringles from the on-board café (I had to snigger at the term café), I was asked if I would like a glass of wine with that. It was 10:00 in the morning, and it might have been 5:00 somewhere, but certainly not anywhere in Canada! That said, I did notice with envy several of my fellow passengers crack a cold one. And that was just the beginning of my wine envy on that trip.

Picture it: it is a sweltering hot day, and you are walking down Whyte Avenue, the busiest and booziest street in Edmonton. The streets are closed off for a jazz festival, and on every corner you hear different strains of sexy, smouldering jazzy tunes. Colorful, half-clad people are all around you, dancing, drinking and laughing merrily. The air is perfumed with cigarette smoke, weed, and the aroma of street meat cooking. You are hot and thirsty so you pop into one of the many pubs offering an inviting, shady deck. You are passed a drink menu the size of Texas and a much, much smaller food menu, around the size of PEI, in comparison to the drink menu. There are at least fifty types of beer to choose from, and all around you people are quenching their thirst with a cold one. (Oh, and by the way, according to Annie Grace, that is another fallacy, since beer actually de-hydrates you). You ask for an Italian soda and the waitress looks at you as if you have three heads. So you settle for a Diet Coke, although all they have is fountain pop and you despise fountain pop. It takes forever to get your food, which you really wouldn’t mind if you were de-hydrating yourself with a cold beer. Your mind wrestles with the unconscious programmed belief that booze makes life more fun, because God-damn it, those beer-drinking fuckers look like they are having way more fun than you with your watered-down fountain pop!

That said, I truly enjoyed my trip to Edmonton, even without wine. Steve took me on many outdoor adventures, including bike riding the many scenic trails of the river valley, hiking, and exploring beautiful parks and gardens. We hung out in café’s as opposed to pubs and quenched our thirst with Italian sodas rather than beer and wine. While I sometimes miss my beloved wine, I have never felt healthier or more energetic. And so, it continues. I am journaling my experiences and who knows? Maybe this will be fodder for my next book. But meanwhile, keep your eyes open for Soul Steps: 52 Ways to Re-Connect with Spirit, due for release in the fall. Now go and enjoy this very large day!!!!

Check out my books HERE

 

Going Home

Have you heard the song,  Castle on the Hill, by Ed Sheeran?  It is a song about going home that really touches my heart.  I have actually been using that song to engage myself in a new form of therapy called Mindful Movement.  Well, maybe it is not new, but it is new to me.

I recently attended a national conference for psychologists and counsellors.  It was a fabulous event, with 550 attendees from all over the world.  One of my favorite sessions was called Mindful Movement, and I went, assuming that we would be doing yoga.  But instead, we danced. Had I known I would be dancing in a roomful of my colleagues without a drop of wine in me to loosen me up, I never would have signed up for the session. But this session was not about strutting your stuff, it was about releasing trauma, and not only did it work for me, but several of the people there reported an emotional release from just one session, which is pretty amazing to a psychologist like myself. So, I set out to investigate how the process works.

In a nutshell, the two sides of our brain work in very different ways.  The left side is logical and linguistic. It is the side we use for communication and where we store our verbal information.   The right side of the brain is our creative side.  It is our center for creativity, arts, music and imagination.  Think of a time that you experienced a trauma.   For me, being told that I had cancer was one of the most traumatic things I have ever experienced.  I can recall perfectly what the room looked like, what the doctor was wearing, and the look on my sister, Juana’s face when he said the word “cancer”.  But after that, I don’t recall another word. It was like I was listening to the teacher on Charlie Brown, “Whannn, whann, whannn…”  That is because I went into panic mode (also called fight or flight mode) and the left side of my brain shut down, making it impossible for me to store the words he was saying to me.  Where did the trauma get stored?  In the right side of my brain.  So just talking about my experience is not enough to release the trauma, I have to do something creative to tap into the cell memory of that trauma.  For me, dance works!

Give it a try!  Turn on a song that you like, close your eyes and just move in a way that you feel guided. Dance like there is nobody watching.   Let your emotions surface and just allow yourself to feel those healing feelings.  If you cry, that is ok.  It means it is working.  It is not important that you understand why you are feeling the way you feel.  It is just important that you allow yourself to experience the emotions.  Your spirit will take care of the rest.

This weekend, I literally had the experience of going home.   I spent the weekend in my beautiful home town of Lawn, just me and my parents. Although I am fifty, it is impossible to feel grown up when you have your parents taking care of you.  Dad: “That suitcase is too heavy for you, let me carry it,” he said as he laid down his cane.  Mom: “Now dear, if you are too tired to get up and turn off the light, just knock on the wall and I will come out and turn it off for you so you don’t have to get out of bed.” Yes, I felt just a little bit spoiled.  It made me feel so grateful to still have my parents with me, and still wanting to take care of me in that way.

I guess as you get older, you appreciate things that you once took for granted. The first time I took Steve to visit my parents, he was blown away that I grew up right next to a river with a beautiful water falls.  To me, it was just a brook, nothing impressive.  But now, I stand in awe of the power of those roaring water falls after a heavy rain.  Walking along Sandy Point, and seeing boats in the harbour was another sight that I took for granted.  Now I resemble a tourist, snapping selfies of myself using this beautiful scenery as a backdrop.

It is always nice to go home, however, there were two highlights to my weekend which I would like to mention.  One was praying the Rosary with my parents.  On Friday night, the three of us prayed together, but on Saturday, it was just me and my dad in the house. I think he assumed that since mom was not there, we would not pray.  I said, “Well Dad, I guess it is just me and you for the Rosary tonight.”  He jumped up off the couch and grabbed the Rosary beads with the same enthusiasm that I would have used to grab a wine glass. My parents pray together every evening, which is a beautiful thing.  I felt blessed and honored to be a part of their ritual.

On Saturday evening, I had a visit with my 96 year old grandmother, who is still as smart as a top and lives in her own home.  Pretty much every evening, my mother and her four sisters visit with Nan, and I felt honored to be a part of their daily tradition.  It was a simple evening of drinking tea, talking and laughing until my stomach hurt. (Aunt Alice could make the cats laugh!)   It made me kind of tear up as I watched each of these women, all in their sixties and seventies, tenderly kiss their mother good night.  Can you imagine being surrounded by that much love every evening?  My grandmother is truly blessed, as am I to be a part of the Kearney clan.

As I write this, it is a beautiful Sunday morning.  The sun is shining and the birds are singing as I sip my coffee and look out at the boats in the harbour.  Dad is getting ready for mass, and my mom is next door at Nan’s house, where she spent the night. The peace here is almost tangible.   Tomorrow I will head back to my busy city life, but I will carry with me these sweet memories of going home.

 

You Are Blessed

If you awoke this morning with a roof over your head, you are blessed.   An estimated 100 million people around the world are homeless.

If you awoke this morning and there was food in your cupboard, you are blessed.  Every four seconds one of our fellow human beings dies of hunger.

If you awoke this morning with a spare dollar in your pocket, you are blessed.  Half of the people in the world are living below the poverty line and 1.3 billion live in extreme poverty.

If you awoke this morning and you are healthy, you are blessed.  There are countless diseases, illnesses, injuries and accidents that could change your life in an instant.

If you awoke this morning, you are blessed.   If your heart is beating and you are breathing, there is a lot more going right with your body than is going wrong. 

There is always something to be grateful for.  Let us give thanks for our many blessings.

Florence Strang

click on book to learn more

Click on book to learn more

Where Do I Take My Son To Pee????

It seems that I have caused quite a stir on Facebook with my most recent post getting approximately 1500 comments and over 300 shares in less than 24 hours!  The post was short, so I would like to take the time to clarify exactly what happened that upset me.   Ben was taking swimming lessons at the Aquarena from the Autism Society.  He requires assistance with changing his clothes and with toileting.  While there is a change room for people with special needs, when I asked for directions to the family bathroom, I was told by two staff members that they do not have a family or a  gender neutral bathroom.   So, I had to choose between taking him to the men’s or the women’s and I chose the latter.

This was not something new to me! I am a single parent and Ben loves to be out and about in the community, shopping and going to restaurants.  Many places are not equipped for people who have an attendant of a different gender with them. Up until that point, it did not cause a dilemma for me.  Sure, I got some strange looks taking a boy into the ladies room, but in my eyes, he is my baby and it is no big deal to take your little boy to the bathroom with you.

That was what I thought until two days ago when I walked into the ladies washroom at the Aquarena.  Sharing this small, two stalled space with 12 year old Ben, was a girl about his age.  Needless to say, this adolescent girl felt uncomfortable with this set up, as did I.  It certainly was not great for Ben’s dignity either.   It was then that I realized he is not a little boy anymore.  He is an adolescent boy, who is quite big for his age, taking a size 10 in men’s shoes already.   He is quickly growing into a man.  How will it look when I, a single mom and his primary caregiver, have to take him to the ladies bathroom then?   If he has a respite worker, it will most likely be a female as the majority are.   As far as I am concerned, Ben’s basic human right to be able to access a toilet has been violated.  Many of the people who responded to my post have  been in the same situation, so this is much bigger than me and Ben.  Not just people with autism, but people with physical disabilities or disorders such as Alzheimers may also require assistance with toileting.  It is an issue that needs to be brought to light.  It makes me nervous to think about how I will proceed with this, but something must be done, and it looks like I will be the one to start the ball rolling. I hope my angels got my back on this one!!!  (If you would like to sign my petition, please go to my Facebook page )

In addition to bathroom accessibility for Ben, here are some other things that would make for a more autism friendly world:

Autism Friendly Hotels:  I was once told by hotel management that if we didn’t keep the noise down, we would be asked to leave the hotel.  The noise he was referring to was Ben’s stimming: loud vocalizations and jumping.  These behaviors, although disruptive, are necessary for his sensory integration. The picture below was taken at Canada’s first autism friendly hotel, located in Port Aux Basques, NL.   It provides a space for children on the spectrum to meet their sensory needs.  It also has a specific room for individuals with ASD and their families.  Nothing in the suite is movable or can be thrown should a guest become distressed.  In an autism friendly world, all hotels would have such a room, and would be more tolerant of autistic behaviors such as stimming.

Photo credit: golfnews.ca

Autism Friendly Movie Theatres:  A friend of mine was once asked to leave a movie theatre because her son’s vocal stimming was disturbing to the other movie goers.  Some movie theatres offer mommy and baby matinees where crying is ok.  I would urge all movie theatres to offer this service and to extend the invitation to children with autism and other special needs.  Rather than call it a “mommy and baby matinee,  a more appropriate name might be “An Inclusive Movie Matinee”.

Autism Friendly Airports:  It can be difficult traveling alone when you have a child with autism, as Ben’s dad once learned when he disappeared at Heathrow Airport!   Wouldn’t it be great if airport personnel provided assistance to families who are traveling with a person with ASD, in the same way that they support people with physical disabilities.

Autism Friendly Stores:   When Ben was younger, it was very difficult for him to wait in line, especially at grocery stores while he was anticipating his treat!  When I took my kids to Disney World, we got a special pass which allowed not only Ben, but his whole entourage (mom and siblings) to go to the front of the line for all rides and attractions.  How nice would it be if kids with autism got a special pass to go to the front of the line at shopping centers.  Hey, if Disney can do it, then why not Walmart?

Autism Friendly Restaurants:  Imagine a world in which restaurants designated a table, away from the main traffic area, with a sign that says “Autism Friendly Table.”  Then if the child was having a meltdown because for example, his chicken nuggets were touching his fries, people would know at a glance that the child has autism, and is not just “being a brat” as is too often assumed.

Autism Friendly Hair Salons:  Many children with autism resist getting their hair cut, which can cause quite a scene at hair salons.  Wouldn’t’ it be great if hair salons offered a private room, with dim lights and soft music to help soothe the senses of people with ASD, while preserving their dignity?

Autism Friendly Parades:   I am happy to say, that in my home town of Burin, Newfoundland, last year’s Christmas parade was autism friendly!  There was a stretch of the parade which was quiet, no sirens or loud music, for people on the spectrum who are sensitive to loud noises.  In an autism friendly world, all towns and cities would adopt this practice.

Autism Friendly People:  In an ideal world, not only would businesses be more accommodating to people with autism, but so too would people.   However, that can only happen if we raise understanding and acceptance of the disorder.   The time for awareness has passed.  People are aware that autism exists, yet many still react in a very negative way to autistic behaviors such as stimming and meltdowns.  Tolerance.  Understanding.  Empathy.  That is what an autism friendly world would look like!

As my friend, Kathy Hickman pointed out to me, these services would benefit not only people with autism, but people with other exceptionalities as well.  Like the hotel in Port Aux Basques, whose story went national, it would also be a smart business move.   If there are businesses in the St. John’s area who would like to have their staff trained on autism sensitivity, or would like to consult with me on how to make their business a more inclusive environment, please contact me through my website: www.florencestrang.com.   Not only do I deal with autism on a personal level, I am also an Educational Psychologist, so doing these presentations is part of my work.   I am offering this as a free service.

You can buy  our book “Calm the F. Down! A Day in the Life of an Autism Mom”
HERE

Overcomer

Let me introduce you to my new friend, Denika Philpott, also known as “Overcomer”.  After reading her book, you will understand why she is so deserving of this title!   Here is a guest post from the beautiful Denika;

Denika Philpott

Denika’s story:  Lying on the cold, hard bathroom floor after chemo number four, it was extremely hard to see my purpose. I have lived by the verse from the Bible “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Don’t run away. I’m no minister and I don’t claim to be perfect in any way so when I quote a verse from the Bible, you don’t have to ready yourself for a sermon. There won’t be one. It’ll be me speaking “straight from the heart” as Bryan Adams sang way back in 1983.

That very day that I hauled myself up off the bathroom floor, walked into my bedroom and collapsed in my mother’s arms, sobbing. Most days it was being strong and leaning on the support of my team, my tribe that got me through. But some days were just exhausting and filled with tears.

It was during this time with my husband’s gently nudging that I realized, “you know what, God does have a purpose for me! I’m going to write a book.” And that’s exactly what I did. During the endless days of waiting for the side effects of chemotherapy to wear off or healing from another surgery, I could do very little. I would sit in my library and write for hours. I poured my heart, my soul and all my experiences onto those blank pages. The daunting report from the MRI that revealed the severity of the breast cancer I had, my head shaving party, my story of my mastectomy journey and what this surgery revealed; all this I chronicled in my book I very proudly titled Overcomer.

We all learn lessons from adversity. Mine was to not focus on past mistakes but forgive yourself and move on, continually living out your purpose.

At times, like when I was on the bathroom floor, this purpose is really hard to see. There are so many obstacles that can stand in our way. They can range from people who are not in our corner, to living circumstances or just our own mental well-being. To be able to heal, I had to focus on myself and not on the negative.

During the past year and a half, my heart has been molded and shaped in a way that has given me a new purpose. I have a deep hunger to pour my experience into people so they can see the importance of their purpose in this life.

During the storms, when you question so many things that are happening, trust that you are intricately woven into the tapestry of this life. With patience and perseverance, your purpose will be made known.

You can check out Denika’s blog at:   https://journeywithdenika.wordpress.com/

You can buy Denika’s book HERE

Acceptance

am

  God, grant me the serenity

  To accept the things I cannot change;

Courage to change the things I can;

And wisdom to know the difference.

                                                                                                (Reinhold Neibuhr, 1943)

The inability to accept the things which we cannot change in life can be one of the greatest obstacles to inner peace. When people experience loss in their lives, they typically go through what well known psychologist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross referred to as the stages of grieving: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

When my youngest son was diagnosed with autism at the age of three, I suffered a loss.  While Ben was still physically with me, the hopes and dreams I had for his future were suddenly taken from me.  Although I did not realize it at the time, in retrospect I can see how I went through a text book case of the stages of grieving.

Denial: At first, I ignored the signs.  Sure, Ben preferred to be on his own, as opposed to the company of other people, but he was half British.  “The Brits are known for their aloofness,” I assured myself.

He was still not talking at the age of three.  “But is not unusual for boys to be late in acquiring language skills,” I told my family.

I noticed that he preferred to line up his toy trucks as opposed to play with them in the conventional way. “But that’s probably just because he doesn’t have play mates his own age,” I reasoned with my friends.

Anger: The first person to suggest that Ben might have autism was his father, a pediatrician.  I was outraged!  “Are you nuts?” I yelled.  “I can’t believe you would think that our beautiful son is autistic.  It is absolutely ridiculous. You obviously know nothing about autism.”  I am not exactly sure if I spoke those words to him directly, but I do know that I would go on wild rants whenever I thought about him making this “outrageous” diagnosis!

Bargaining:  When Ben’s speech-language therapist later suggested that we get him tested for autism, it really scared me.  Was it actually possible that my baby boy could be autistic?  Even the word autism scared me.  I bargained with God.  “Please Dear Lord, don’t let him have autism.  Let him be deaf or have a learning disability; anything but autism! Those kids are so cold and unloving.”

(Then God winked at me and replied, “Florence, do I have a lesson in store for you!”)

Depression: Even though more and more professionals were suggesting that I should have Ben tested for autism, I still clung on to the hope that he was just a late bloomer.  Then one evening, while chatting with a colleague of mine, I casually mentioned that Ben’s therapist had suggested autism.  I waited for his re-assurance that I had nothing to worry about, but instead, he gave a response that literally knocked the wind out of me.  “I can see that,” he said.

I gasped for air.  My voice cracked, “What the hell do you see that I don’t see, because I DON’T SEE IT!”  Then with all of the kindness that he could muster, he went on to point out the red flags that I had been ignoring: Ben’s lack of social interactions; his poor eye contact; not responding when his name was called; his fascination with letters and numbers; and his tip-toe walking.  I had a great deal of respect for my colleague, and when he said it, I knew it had to be true.

I started to cry and didn’t stop for three whole days.  Even months after his official diagnosis, the slightest thing could set me off.  I remember, for example, one evening when my son Donovan, then 11 years old, came home after being out to a movie with his friends.  He was very proud to tell me that he had put his arm around a girl he liked, who sat next to him at the movie.  I burst into tears.  All I could think was that Ben would probably never experience the excitement of having his first girlfriend.  He might never even have a real friend.  Because of this dreaded diagnosis, his whole life would be a series of obstacles, struggles and challenges.  Instead of a normal childhood, full of fun and play, Ben’s pre-school years would consist of work.  He would have to undergo intensive therapy to learn how to talk; therapy to learn how to play; therapy to learn how to recognize emotions; therapy to learn how to dress himself.  All of those things that “normal” children learn by watching and doing, would be hard work for Ben.   As a mother, it broke my heart that he would be robbed of a carefree childhood.

Acceptance: Finally, after months of intense sadness and feelings of loss, came acceptance. It came to me one night as I was praying my nightly prayer for my three children to be safe, healthy, and happy. It suddenly dawned on me that God was still answering my prayers. Ben was safe, he was healthy, and he was happy. Being given the label of autism did not make him cold or unloving.  Ben was still the same sweet, kind, loving, smart, adorable little boy that he was before his diagnosis.  I knew that there would be challenges ahead for both of us, but we would face these challenges together.  I finally accepted his autism and only then was I at peace.

In my work as an educational psychologist, I often see parents of autistic children who get stuck in one of these stages, and don’t come to a peaceful resolution of acceptance.  They frantically search for ways to FIX their child….diet, supplements, new therapies, or even stem cell transplants.  While some of these techniques may provide benefits, there is no cure for autism.  As a society, we need to understand and accept autism for what it is.  Remember, God does not make mistakes!

(This post is a chapter from my new book, “Soul Steps: 52 Ways to Reconnect with Spirit”, co-authored with Veronica Connors and Natalie Finlay.  Due for release in June of this year). 

   

 

 

Black Is The New Green

Hello all!  Well, for thoes of you who have been following my blog for a while, you may have noticed that my posts are all over the place lately!  Recently I have been posting about anxiety and mindfulness.  Mostly because that is what I am dealing with in my psychology practice.   Occasionally, I will write a post about my son Ben.  Mostly because he is awesome.   (On that note, I am very close to the completion of my book:  “Calm the Fuck Down: A Day in the Life of an Autism Mom”.   More to follow in March!!!)   It seems like a long time since I have written anything about cancer prevention or healthy lifestyle practices.  Mostly because…..well, there is no excuse.

I have been researching a lot lately for another book I am working on, “Still Finding the Perks” , and I am learning a lot of new, interesting information about food.  I believe that when you are making the transition to healthier eating habits, you should concern yourself with what new foods you can ADD to your diet, not what you have to eliminate.  Once you add more and more healthy options, there will be no room on your plate for the unhealthy stuff…..and you won’t feel deprived!

Did you know that the darker the pigments in foods, the more health benefits they provide to you?  By “foods” I mean foods from the earth of course, not animals, in which case lighter is better.  Anti-oxidants are the agents that give color to foods and the darker the color, the more powerful the anti-oxidants.   As you may know,  anti-oxidants help to neutralize the harmful effects that free radicals have on our bodies which protects us against many diseases, including cancer. What gives foods their black color is anthocyanin, an antioxidant flavanoid pigment, which has been linked to reducing cancer cell proliferation.  So when choosing foods for cancer prevention, always look for the darker varieties because when it comes to healthy eating, black is the new green!

black

 Blackberries: Blackberries have one of the highest anti-oxidant levels of all berries.  In addition to being a great food for cancer prevention, blackberries help promote better digestive health, strengthened immune defense, and healthy functioning of the heart.  Blackberries have also been shown to aid in enhancing memory and keeping the bones and skin healthy.

Black rice:  You probably know that brown rice is a healthier choice than white rice, but if you want to go that extra step, try black rice.  Unlike brown rice, black rice contains a flavonoid called anthocyanin. Additionally, black rice contains Vitamin E, which is useful in maintaining eye, skin, and immune system health.

Black lentils: In addition to anti-oxidants, black lentils are very high in iron, with one serving offering nearly half of the daily recommended amount for women.  They are also high in fiber, helping to remove toxins from the body.

Black beans: While all types of beans provide a good source of plant based protein, black beans,  are also rich in potent bioflavonoids, which may help to prevent cancer.

Chia seeds: These little powerhouses are touted for their high, heart healthy, omega 3 content.  In addition, one ounce of chia seeds provide four grams of protein.  They are also a good source of calcium and give you 42% of your recommended daily allowance of fiber, per serving.

Black soybeans: With more antioxidants and protein and fewer carbs than other beans these legumes are not only good for you, but also are a powerhouse food for weight loss.

Black sesame seeds: In addition to being high in anti-oxidants as well as several vitamins and minerals (such as magnesium which lowers blood pressure and helps to prevent diabetes), black sesame seeds promote healthy skin and hair.  They have also been proven to help promote healthy liver functioning.

Black garlic: Black garlic is simply the aged version of garlic. While garlic is known for its anti-cancer properties, the black variety has twice the antioxidants of regular garlic, giving it an even greater cancer kicking punch!

Black mushrooms: There are several black varieties of mushrooms, and all are rich in anti-oxidants.  They also help to stimulate the immune system as well as prevent cancer.

Black pepper: Black pepper has numerous health benefits including antibacterial properties and it aids in digestion.   The thing that gives black pepper its “super-power” however, is its ability to increase nutrient absorption from other foods by up to 2,000 percent!  (Black pepper helps your body to utilize the cancer fighting effects found in turmeric, for example.)

While many of these foods may sound exotic, it is easy to substitute them in the place of other, more familiar foods.  For example, I recently used black rice instead of brown rice in my veggie soup.  It darkened the broth a little, but had the same flavor. As a general rule of thumb, remember that when it comes to fruits and vegetables, the darker, the better, so seek out not only black varieties, but also dark greens and purples. Iceberg lettuce, for example, has very little nutritional value, whereas romaine is much richer in vitamin A, vitamin K, folate, vitamin C, calcium, phosphorus and potassium.  Knowledge is power and now that you know how much better darker foods are for your body, go ahead and make yourself a powerful, cancer-kicking salad!  (But don’t stop at the dark foods….try to include all the colors of the rainbow!)