Spice Cabinet vs. Medicine Cabinet: 5 Common Herbs that help to reduce pain, increase energy, lower cholesterol and boost your immune system!

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Many of us have a cabinet FULL or herbs and spices that we use to conjure up all sorts of kitchen creations. We all know that they TASTE good, but have you ever taken a minute to think about WHERE those herbs came from and WHAT other benefit they can add to our lives, other than the delicious flavors they bring to our mouth?!

Since all herbs and spices are derived directly from plants (flowers, fruits, seeds, barks, leaves, and roots), I got to thinking that adding them to our daily cuisine probably packs quite the nutritional punch!  I did some research and came up with this list of common herbs with amazing health benefits that were in my spice cabinet and are probably in yours too!! It was amazing to see just how easy it is to incorporate more of these herbs to help us live a #healthierhappier life!

5 Common Herbs That Can Benefit Your Health!

  • Turmeric: In my research, I found out that Turmeric works just like cox-2 inhibitors, a type of DRUG that calms inflammation. Many people use this herb to reduce the stiffness and pain associated with arthritis and some research even shows that turmeric can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and colon cancer.

Turmeric is very commonly used in Indian cuisine, but we find it being used a lot today in tea, soups and broths, too!! In the past, I’ve added powdered turmeric to egg dishes, meat dishes, sauces and baked goods. This is where you can get the health benefits without an overpowering flavor profile.  When buying turmeric, and other powdered herbs and spices, I always choose to buy organic, because it’s not only good for your health, it’s good for the environment, too!

  • Cinnamon: Did you know that Cinnamon comes from the bark of tropical, evergreen trees? What an interesting fact!! Cinnamon is well known for reducing triglycerides, blood sugar and cholesterol. It’s also been proven to help with heartburn, respiratory illness, appetite suppression, diarrhea and arthritis and to eliminate bad breath and toothaches, as well. Holy Moly, that’s some resume!!

In our house, we sprinkle cinnamon on steel cut oats in the morning and mix it up with seeds, nuts and a diced apple for a balanced breakfast.  We also use it to make a popular favorite, Cinnamon Toast in the morning and we add it to MOST of our baked goods and other desserts like puddings, too!!  I have used it used it freely in marinades and I’ve also found it in many of the rubs we use for beef, venison and lamb. In recent years, I’ve started adding cinnamon to my coffee, too so that I can make sure I get in this powerful herb almost daily!!

  • Ginger: Every morning I start my day with a cup of hot water, some minced fresh ginger and lemon. YUMM-O!!! I do this because I’ve read that ginger aids in the digestion process and keeps our digestive fire burning all day! I also know that it helps to alleviate minor stomach troubles and can prevent motion sickness, too. This powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory herb helps to reduce arthritis pain, regulate blood pressure and cuts cancer risk and that’s just a few more reasons to add it to your daily regime in the kitchen!!

Fresh or dried varieties of ginger can be used freely in smoothies and added to freshly-squeezed juices, stir-fry dishes, marinades and salad dressings. Ginger is very easily incorporated into tea, too! Use it often and in abundance to take advantage of all of it’s amazing health benefits!!

  • Garlic: This perennial plant has many scientifically proven health benefits. In addition to warding off vampires and bad dates, studies show that garlic can help to reverse diabetes, lower cholesterol, regulate blood pressure, fight heart disease and cancer, relieve allergies and boost our immune systems!! Did you know that people that consume garlic on a regular basis also have improved hair loss, fight off fungal infections and are at a reduced risk of inflammation, too? The list of healing properties in this potent herb goes on and on and its list of uses in the kitchen is just as long!

While cooking with garlic is a great idea, the benefits of garlic are far better when it’s consumed in its raw form. But don’t put down that sautée pan just yet: a report by Science Daily explains that if raw garlic is first chopped and then left to sit for 45 minutes before cooking, the health benefits are more likely to remain! That’s good news for us and here’s even more great news: Powdered garlic is made from fresh, dried garlic, so when we use this super-food powder AFTER the cooking process, it doesn’t only enhance flavors but will maintain many of its health-promoting properties, too!

  • Basil: I’m sure you heard of the healing properties of St. John’s Wort…but did you know that Basil is a close relative and its REAL NAME is “St. Joseph’s Wort”?? Basil is said to contain disease-fighting antioxidants and studies have also shown that it is proven to reduce inflammation and have anti-aging and anti-bacterial properties, too!! This is a very popular herb in cooking and at just 8 calories per ounce and full of Vitamins A, C and K and Manganese, Copper, Calcium, Folate and Iron, basil is a nutrient-heavy/calorie-light addition to any meal!!

Basil is often found in Italian cuisine, so I often use it in fresh or dried form as one of the main ingredients in both Pesto and Marinara Sauces.  Basil can be added to many Indian dishes, as well and can also be added to salads, stir-fries, soups and tea!


So, unlike other flavor enhancers in our foods, herbs and spices can provide tasty additions to our meals while also contributing to our greater overall health!! Packed with micro-nutrients and antioxidants, herbs are a proven plant-based remedy for treating pain, preventing disease and inflammation and they can also help us to boost energy and remain focused!  Isn’t it amazing news that we can cure or prevent many of our everyday ailments by reaching into our spice cabinet instead of our medicine cabinet??















5 Tips for Busy Moms that Want a Healthy Family

The biggest complaint I hear from clients looking to get their families healthy is that it takes a lot of TIME!  Between work, studying, sports and after-school activities, I know first-hand that family schedules can be HECTIC!!!  The more women I speak to, the more it’s clear to me that HEALTHY does not seem EASY!   It’s no wonder busy moms often feel defeated when trying to find a healthy balance in their homes and give up!

The good news is, it’s not ALL or NOTHING!! We all know that our kids should be eating AT LEAST 5 servings of fruits and veggies per day, limiting their snacks and getting upwards of ONE HOUR of EXERCISE each day, too!  But it’s overwhelming for moms to think of all that needs to be added to each day to make these things possible!  Since “every little bit” in the areas of nutrition and movement helps us each become healthier, busy moms should understand that it’s not a race to earn the seemingly elusive Gold Star in all areas of their Family’s Health… it’s a JOURNEY that takes time, patience and perseverance!!

To help with the process, here are some simple and realistic steps you can take RIGHT NOW to make small changes that can add up QUICKLY in helping to improve the overall health of your family!!

  1. Exercise WITH and AROUND Your Kids!

Make a schedule to figure out which days each family member is getting in their exercise (remember to consider that some days of the week your children have gym class!) and where there are deficits for YOU, try to make your exercise activities overlap with their activities.  E.g.-If your son has soccer practice, YOU can go for a run or walk around the field instead of watching and waiting during practice. Or if your daughter has gymnastics, go for a walk outside of the building or bring some free weights and do some light weight training in the viewing room.  This might “feel” silly at first, but as you start to do it, just watch how many other parents will be inspired to join in!  When you overlap exercise with activities, you will see just how easy it is to find “time” for YOU to exercise!

Once you see the schedule, you’ll probably find days where you see no exercise for either you or the kids. On those days, make time to EXERCISE TOGETHER! If you like to run, but your kids are little, get a jogging stroller and encourage them to hop out and run on their own for short intervals! If they are older, fool around with one of those couch to 5k apps and learn to run long distances together! Grab some racquets and hit balls at a local tennis court, kick around a soccer ball, jump rope, play a friendly game of HORSE with the basketball, play tag, ride bikes, play on scooters, play hopscotch and more! The list can go on and on, but you must get out and do it!! You might even decide to cave into the pressure to welcome a new family pet if a family walk with the dog can make it into your schedule some nights!!  The bonus to this is that exercise is also acting as FAMILY TIME and your kids will have those memories forever! Time-Saving AND Family-Fun—that’s a Win-Win!

  1. Cut Out Refined Sugars!

It may seem impossible, but eliminating refined sugars from your home is actually pretty easy to do. JUST DON’T BUY THEM ANYMORE. Yes, it takes guts and you might get some push back, but remember, YOU ARE THE BOSS!! Once you stop buying those sugary treats, your kids will HAVE no other choice but to choose the healthier alternatives.

Once you’ve cut out the c*ap, try to make it fun and more engaging for your kids to eat more whole grain foods and fruits in place of the processed sugars!  Cut healthy foods into fun shapes, keep fruits readily available, have a certain section of the fridge set with healthy choices, get convenient pouches they can grab themselves or keep a nice big bowl of fresh fruit out on the counter and available for them WHENEVER they feel like a snack—give them cart blanche with the fruit bowl!

  1. Prep Healthy Food Ahead!

I know, I know, you’re super busy—so who really has time to food prep?!  I get it, but food prepping can actually SAVE you time in the long run!  We all have SOME down time in our lives, whether it be on a weekend morning or after kids go to bed, before they wake up or when they just seem to be “quiet” for a short while. Take advantage of these times and have healthy food on hand and READY to go so you can quickly chop veggies, cook up quiche, prepare soups and make simple 30-minute healthy meals that your family will love!  Frozen healthy foods can be a LIFE SAVER in this area!  And when your meals are prepped, you can use them right away, or keep a stock pile in the freezer for times when the week just won’t allow for any meal prep at all! And don’t worry about the mess…it will be there when you get to it! I’d rather a mess in my sink, than unhealthy foods in my kids’ bodies…. wouldn’t you??

Believe me when I tell you that there is no greater feeling than KNOWING you have a healthy meal at your fingertips when little Bobby forgets his homework at school and you have 10 minutes to get it before carting him off to Karate and you won’t be back home til after 7pm only to have to tackle homework, get in baths and be set for the bedtime routine. Remember, dinner-time should NOT take place at a drive-thru. With healthy meals on hand, you can just GRAB AND GO and your kids can eat HEALTHY food prepared from home on the road.  Now THAT’S fast food!

For some #easyhealthyyummy family-          friendly meal ideas, check out these awesome recipes that can be whipped up in less than 30 minutes: https://justbrightideas.com/30-minute-dinners-kid-friendly/

  1. Drink More Water!

Yeah, yeah. I know that you KNOW we should all be drinking more water!!  But are you doing it yourself? And are your kids doing it?  The fact of the matter is, kids and teens who regularly drink soft drinks and other sweetened drinks are more likely to be overweight. If you’re reading this article, I KNOW you don’t want that for your family, so the first step to creating good health is ridding your house of all those unhealthy drinks. If your kids are still drinking juice, soda, power drinks or chocolate milk, you need to re-assess! Loading up on H20 will benefit EVERYONE in your family by providing more energy and better movement, keeping your bodies growing and functioning properly and flushing out dangerous toxins!!

So that’s great, but HOW do we get our kids to drink more water? Well, it all starts with only having water in the house!   Again, YOU ARE THE BOSS!!  Once the other stuff is no longer a choice, they WILL drink the water.  I promise.  Make sure water is on hand and ready for them. Bottles, water-coolers, a purifier on your sink…everywhere they turn, water is there for them!   Send kids to school with extra water. Pack it in their backpacks, not just their lunches. Encourage them to have a glass as soon as they wake up and right after they brush their teeth and also to drink a lot BEFORE and during any kind of sports activities. Serve water with breakfast, lunch and dinner and make sure YOU are setting an example where water is the number one fluid in your life, too!


  1. Shop Smart and Stock up on HEALTHY SNACKS!

Oh, the elusive HEALTHY SNACK! I’m sure many of you are thinking: what exactly is a HEALTHY snack?  My first bit of advice is to avoid processed foods as much as you can when it comes to snacking. I know it’s hard because when we think of CONVENIENT, we think of a package, but fresh foods, with minimal processing, can also be convenient, too. AND, they are best for our bodies when it comes to health. Think fresh fruit and veggies, hummus, guacamole, nuts, seeds, yogurt and low-fat cheeses. If you keep these things on hand and readily available, it’ll be easy to feed ourselves and our kids healthy foods on-the-go! And if packaged foods are a MUST, try to find plant-based, protein-packed snacks, bars and shakes, that are chock-full of vitamins and minerals and healthy fats instead of those 100 calorie snack packs that are chock-full of nothing but empty calories!

So, if you find your busy schedule getting in the way of your family’s health goals and have been overwhelmed by the idea of creating a healthy lifestyle overhaul in your family in the past, you don’t have to be!! Just start small.  Pick just one of these ideas and start to incorporate it in your house NOW. Then, as you feel more confident and in control of the situation, gradually add in the others!  Once you get started, you’ll be amazed at how quickly your family adjusts, how much better everyone looks and feels and how much more JOY you share as a family together!

To sign up for my Healthy Family Newsletter and get more tips to help you create a healthier family lifestyle along with news of upcoming events/workshops, please visit https://thehealthierhappierway.com/contact/


Balance is Everything

My life is NOTHING like I imagined it would be when I started college so MANY years ago.  My major was decided, my classes were picked and my career path was 100% determined.

Like many other women out there, my career has taken LOTS of twists and turns throughout the years and much of that can be attributed to my burning desire to not only be successful, but to also become a MOM and have a family, too.

I wanted to be a lawyer. I had the brains, I had the grades and I had the desire….UNTIL….I took my first job as a Corporate Paralegal at one of NYC’s top law firms and I learned a lot more than writing briefs and filing complaints. That job taught me…even though I was years away from having my own…that FAMILY was more important to me than “success.” And more importantly, that job had me convinced that I couldn’t have both!

You see, like most high-powered, corporate positions, the employees at my firm (and more importantly for me), the WOMEN, gave their jobs 100% and worked long hours. In the halls, I could hear whispers of over-worked, well-payed, beautifully dressed women wishing they had more TIME. Time for their husbands; Time to start a family; Time to be home with the kids they had. These women had the BRAINS, the MONEY, the POWER and the SUCCESS, but all they really wanted was more TIME!

As the years unfolded for me, and I started a family of my own, I took different positions with different companies and also seemed to be chasing TIME. But what I realized was that what I was really chasing was BALANCE.  A balance of work-life and family-life that left me feeling successful, fulfilled, happy and full of purpose. And I came to understand that in order to find the BALANCE that I personally needed, I would have to work for myself!

Being self-employed is not for everyone.  It has many amazing benefits, like tons of wiggle room in terms of child-care, a flexible work schedule and the ability to take a “leave” anytime you want. But it also takes a lot of work and some soul-searching, too. It takes PASSION, organization and creativity.  To be a successful entrepreneur, you have to know what you want to BE and DO and HAVE and you have to have the desire to put in the effort to go out and achieve those goals.

Today, I am a self-employed Holistic Wellness Coach and I have created my life AND my business around what matters MOST to me: a work-family BALANCE where I am emotionally fulfilled and financially successful.  I wake up each day and get my kids ready for school, have the freedom to get in a work-out almost daily and am steadfast in my “work” hours so that I can guiltlessly put my business to rest when it’s time to shuffle the kids around to activities after-school, cook (or heat up) healthy dinners for my family, take part in PTA events, volunteer my time for a local charity, have date nights with the hubby or network with fellow moms doing the same kind of thing! I’d say that’s a pretty good BALANCE, don’t ya’ think?!

So, if you’re stuck in a job that doesn’t make you HAPPY because you want more TIME for your family, understand that what you really want is BALANCE and understand that you are not alone. That balance is out there.  But only YOU can decide what matters most in your life. Only YOU can find your passion and decide to make a change. Only YOU can take the plunge to start a new career path that gives you the ability to create your life around that balance.  And only YOU know if you have what it takes to be organized and creative and determined enough to achieve your goals.

If you have had experience in making a change from Corporate-America to a Home-Based business, please comment or share your experience here and let us know how it has changed your life and helped you find your BALANCE.

Jackie Catalano is a self-employed Holistic Wellness Coach that loves to spend her time with her amazingly supportive husband of 15 years and 3 kids (ages 13, 11 and 6). She works to help busy moms create healthier lifestyles for their families with her business, The Healthier Happier Way (www.thehealthierhappierway.com), enjoys training for various fitness events, volunteers to help sick children in Monmouth and Ocean County (via the www.RainbowFoundation.org) and organizes family friendly 5k race events at the Jersey Shore as Race Director at MacTort Racing (www.mactortracing.com).