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Friday, February 13, 2009

Have A Romantic Valentine's Day!

9 Aphrodisiacs to Heat Up Your Love Life
By Joe Wilkes

Named for Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, aphrodisiacs have been the stuff of legend and song throughout history. Lovers looking for a leg up in the libido department have gone to their shamans, medicine men, and herbalists for centuries, searching for the magic ingredient that will kick their mojo into high gear. And today the search has gone to the Internet. Anyone with a lackluster spam filter has probably scanned the hundreds of emails that arrive every day, advertising powdered rhinoceros horn or some unpronounceable chemical that promises to goose your or your partner's desires. The efficacy of these miracle products is extremely dubious (and, in the case of the exotic animal parts, illegal), but there are plenty of products that you can find right in your grocery store or farmers' market that can potentially increase the heat between the sheets. Here are some common foods and why they might be able to put a little extra oomph into that special evening. And over half of them are in the top two tiers of Michi's Ladder, so you can have your cake and eat it, too! (Well, not cake, but asparagus and bananas!)

1. Oysters. These are perhaps the classic aphrodisiacs of all time. The legendary lover Casanova reportedly consumed 50 oysters every day to keep his . . . um . . . stamina up. But until recently the powers of these bivalves were only backed up by anecdotal evidence and the testimonials of mollusk-loving Lotharios. Recently though, studies have shown that oysters and their shellfish brethren, including clams, scallops, and mussels, all contain chemical compounds that may aid the release of testosterone, estrogen, and other sex hormones in both men and women. Oysters are also full of zinc, a deficiency of which can cause impotence in men, another reason they can be man's best friend in the bedroom. And then of course there's the conventional wisdom that if you'll eat an oyster, you'll eat anything.

2. Chocolate. What's more associated with Valentine's Day than chocolate? The ancient Aztecs considered chocolate to be an aphrodisiac for both men and women, and when the Europeans got wind of its inhibition-lowering properties, it wasn't long before the candy treat became a must-have when pitching woo. Casanova and famed Louis XV courtesan Madame du Barry were reported to be great believers in the powers of chocolate, and there may have been something to it. Chocolate contains the chemicals phenylethylamine and serotonin, which are also naturally occurring chemicals in the brain, usually released when we are happy or in love. Its chemicals can literally cause your heart to beat a little faster. Add to that a boost of caffeine and sugar, and it can be a pretty good pick-me-up with a small side of euphoria.

3. Figs. Maybe it wasn't just the apple in the Garden of Eden that got things going. Remember, Adam and Eve ended up covering themselves in fig leaves. And it was also the favorite fruit of Cleopatra, who was certainly no slouch in the ways of love. In ancient Greece, fertility rituals would often follow the first fig harvest, and Greek portrayals of bacchanalia usually also included some fig action. In some European countries, figs are thrown instead of rice at newly married couples (ouch!) as symbols of fertility.

4. Bananas. In the Islamic version of the tale, Adam and Eve covered themselves with banana leaves rather than fig leaves. Bananas are also considered a fertility symbol by the Hindus. Bananas can really get you going with their high levels of potassium and B vitamins, which aid the production of hormones. Bananas also contain the protease bromelain, which is believed to help circulation.

5. Asparagus. It is rich in vitamin E, which is critical to the production of hormones. It also contains a lot of folic acid, which the body needs to produce histamines. And histamines are the chemical compounds that cause muscle contractions. A word of caution though—too much asparagus can cause flatulence, which might make the whole romantic plan backfire (no pun intended).
6. Avocados. The Aztecs referred to the avocado tree as Ahuacuatl or "testicle tree." Apparently, the fruit usually hangs in pairs. There appears to be little besides anecdotal evidence to support its claim as an aphrodisiac, though it is rich in many nutrients, including vitamins B6, C, and E. The California Avocado Commission conducted a Valentine's Day survey in 2000 of experts, 63 percent of whom concluded that the avocado does have some aphrodisiac qualities, some of which could be attributed to recently discovered phytochemicals.

7. Caviar. This fish-egg delicacy has been enjoyed by lovers for centuries, including, of course, Casanova (which increasingly leads me to believe a lot of women were just sleeping with him to get to the buffet). Caviar is known for its silky texture. Naturally, eggs are common fertility symbols, but there may also be some chemical reasons for which they are rated so highly on the love-maker's diet. Like oysters, they are high in zinc and rich in vitamins A and D and omega-3 fatty acids. They also are high in arginine, an amino acid which acts as a vasodilator, widening blood vessels and increasing blood flow.

8. Truffles. Not the chocolate kind (although those count under the "chocolate" category) but the expensive underground mushroom kind that pigs and dogs root out of the ground. Unlike other foods, it is the musky scent of the truffle that is believed to be what gets us going. Scientists have recently discovered that black truffles contain the pheromone androstenol. There is some debate over how much human beings are affected by pheromones, but truffles have been considered to be aphrodisiacs for centuries, and this recent discovery could be one explanation.

9. Champagne. When we think of romantic beverages, the list pretty much begins and ends with champagne. Most of the effects of champagne seem to be largely psychological, though. The purchase of an expensive beverage may set the mood for a special evening, and a mystique has been built in the media about the drink and its drinkers, from Marie Antoinette to Marilyn Monroe. But scientifically speaking, its amorous effects seem to come from the same place as most alcoholic beverages. Alcohol appears to have no positive effect on sexual function and, when overindulging, will usually move you in the other direction. It does, however, lead to a loss of inhibition and a decrease in judgment—in other words, a prelude to a kiss.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sheryl Crow Does P90X!

I was so excited to see this video! Sheryl is a perfect example of how a busy mom CAN and DOES handle an intense program like P90X. And by the way, P90X is a Beachbody program! One of the many that there is to choose from!

To find out more about P90X or any of the Beachbody programs, visit my website, or email me!

Monday, February 9, 2009

He Took My Heart & Never Gave It Back

Today my firstborn is 5! FIVE!!! WHAT???

I'm very excited for him and he just keeps saying "I can't believe it!"

Five is a big year for him. He'll be starting t-ball this spring, Kindergarten starts in the fall..and the most important milestone of all??


He has not stopped reminding me for a week. And today is the day that it is finally here!

So while he is preparing for an evening of staying up late..8pm...I am reminiscing about the day he was born.

5 years ago I was laying in the hospital bed hooked up to Pitocin to induce labor and enduring contractions that came on with the force of a freight train. 5 years ago today, I was so excited to meet my son that I could not stop smiling. 5 years ago today I could have jumped up and down when the nurse told me that after 13 hours of labor with no progress it looked as though I would have a c-section...AND FINALLY GET TO MEET THE LITTLE MAN!

FIVE YEARS AGO TODAY, at 7:51pm, Hayden Carson was born. Weighing 7lbs. 10oz. With the most beautiful face I had ever seen. He came out smiling, and hasn't stopped since.

Happy Birthday, Son. I love you more everyday. You make your dad and I SO proud to be your parents. Keep being the mature, young man you are today, and you can and WILL accomplish all of your dreams. Starting with staying up late!

Love you, baby!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Grace In Small Things

I am taking the lead from this lovely blogger today and going to post about things that cause me to sit back and realize how thankful I am!

1. My baby boy is turning 5 on Monday. Today I'm cleaning the house and making his Batman cake in anticipation for his party tomorrow. I, who have NO artistic ability at all, drew the "Bat Signal" that I'll put on top of his cake in black icing. He thinks it's SO COOL and I'm "the best mommy ever"!

2. We put our 3 year old in dance class this past week and working with her every evening on practicing her 1st position and pirouettes has been such a joy. (I may be living a little vicariously through her though...I always wanted to take dance when I was little!)

3. Tara (the 3 year old) and I worked together this morning to put dinner in the crockpot. She was so happy to help me and it made me realize that, although it takes longer, the accomplishment she feels when we're done is so worth it!

4. Taking time to snuggle with my husband in the recliner in the evenings is good for our relationship!

5. Kisses from my 1 1/2 y/o baby, are truly the sweetest ever. Her eyes are just over-flowing with love!

Now its your turn! What are you thankful for?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Their Fate Rests In Your Hands

Yesterday was my Cheat Day, and I had been craving my favorite Southwestern Chicken Taquitos out of the frozen food aisle. I decided to pick some up for lunch while I was out grocery shopping yesterday morning. I did my whole week worth of shopping and had my cart full of veggies, whole-wheat this, whole-wheat that, lean meats, Kashi cereal, mixed berries for my protein shakes; lots of good foods. So when I hit the frozen foods aisle, first I grabbed a couple of boxes of chopped spinach and then turned towards the frozen meal/snack aisle to grab my cheat food.

I don't pay much attention to that section of the store so I was sort of oblivious to all of the frozen snacks that have popped up over the last few months. Needless to say, I was shocked. But because I am focused on eating right, I wasn't tempted to load up my cart, nor have I ever been. I know the benefits of cooking meals from scratch. I have always fed my family homemade meals, not packaged junk. Even when I wasn't cooking very calorie-conscience meals, I at least knew better than to go the deep-fried/frozen route.

Unfortunately, not everyone does. There was a family shopping in the same aisle, and with the exception of the cookies, blocks of Velveeta, and cans of ravioli, they were filling up their cart with Hungry Man meals, and Pizza Rolls. Their daughter who was very noticeably overweight, and could not have been over 8, was running up and down the aisle looking at every option as though she could not get enough.

"Can we get these 4-cheese Hot Pockets? What about THIS? This looks SO good!", she shouted as she pulled out a arm-load of frozen burritos.

I was appalled and just wanted to shake the mother and father. What was wrong with these people? THIS was what they were going to feed their daughter for the week? This is what they fed her everyday?

Unfortunately, this is not a rare thing in this country. We are so "blessed" with abundance of food choices, many do not know how to make the correct decisions. And if you are a parent, it is YOUR obligation to feed your children food that will fuel their bodies, not kill them. That's right I said it. If you are allowing your children to eat unhealthily every single meal, and not teaching them proper nutrition, you are setting them up for a life of obesity, many health problems, and ultimately death at a younger age. This is a form of child abuse and it makes me so sad to know that it happens more than we could ever imagine.

What are YOUR thoughts on this issue? I'd love to hear about it.

For information on how to fuel your children's bodies, visit the USDA's Food Pyramid website for kids.