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Diana Remaley, LMT
Diana@RemaleyMassage.com
(203)292-5362
22 Crescent Road
Westport, CT

Guilt-Free Chocolate Granola

I admit it - I have a chocolate problem. A day doesn't feel complete unless I've tasted a little cocoa. But all the butter and sugar typically involved in the candy doesn't make me feel very well; and it's certainly not good long-term. Enter this granola: It's gluten-free, dairy-free and refined sugar-free. BUT it has a chocolate taste I can definitely rally around. You can add a few fresh or dried berries to freshen it up and kick up the health factor even more. I like it served with a little non-dairy milk or yogurt for breakfast, or just eaten out of the container with my hands!

 

Ingredients

3 cups rolled oats (gluten-free, not quick-cooking)

1 1/2 cups mixed nuts (I use walnuts, sliced almonds and hazelnuts, but use your favorites)

1/4 cup canola oil (or coconut oil, melted)

1/2 cup agave

2 Tablespoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup cocoa powder

Pinch of salt

1 egg white

 

Directions

Preheat the oven to 300F. Prepare a baking tray with either parchment paper or a non-stick silpat liner.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats and nuts.

 

In a small glass measuring container, measure out the oil, agave, vanilla, cocoa powder and pinch of salt, *but don't mix them yet*.

 

In a small, non-reactive bowl (such as copper, glass or metal), place the egg white. Using an electric whisk (or just your own arm strength), whip the egg white to a hard peak. It should be very voluminous and stand on the edge of the whisk when you pick it up.

Then, using the same whisk, thoroughly combine the cocoa mixture. (You cannot attempt to whisk the egg white with any fat on the whisk; it'll never whip. But using the same whisk to mix the cocoa and oil is perfectly fine.)

 

 

Add the cocoa mixture to the oats and nuts and toss to combine completely. There should be no oats or nuts that aren't covered.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gently fold in the egg white, being careful not to deflate it, and leaving plenty of "opaqueness" on the oats. That is, you should be able to see the dark brown of the chocolate, but see the egg whites laying on top of it, a little bit like frost on your windshield.

Carefully lay the oat mixture on to the prepared baking sheet in a single layer, being careful not to push the egg whites down too much.

Bake for about 60 minutes (no need to toss the mixture.) It's done when the edges turn brown and crisp. Cool completely before eating; it will harden and crisp fully as it cools.

Enjoy with milk, yogurt, berries, or just with your hands!

The Angel Wall Stretch

Stretch your upper back and shoulders any where!

We rightly have our arms down at our sides almost all the time. While our shoulder joints can handle this stress, some of our muscles may fight against laying softly (stress, anyone?) and the shoulder joint can therefore hurt quite a bit. This stretch can be done any time, any where, to bring awareness to the shoulder joint (specifically, the medial border of the scapula(shoulderblade)). If you find yourself hunching your shoulders and dropping them throughout the day, I'm betting this stretch will be quite nice for you.

Anatomy Lesson:

It's worth defining some semantics before we begin: The "Shoulder" joint in anatomy refers to the glenohumeral joint; that is the "ball and socket" of your upper arm and shoulderblade. However, when clients come to my office complaining of "shoulder" pain, this is almost never the area they are describing. What we colloquially refer to as "shoulder" is often the Trapezius muscle ("Trap"). As you can see from the illustration, this is actually a huge muscle that attaches as the base of the skull, out to the edge of the shoulderblade, and back down the thoracic spine. The white areas around the shoulderblades in this picture represent the edge of the scapulas; it is this area of the trap that we are stretching with this movement.

 

As you can see in this picture, we are attempting to move the shoulderblade trap attachments in an outward and upward motion. This is a motion they almost never go through, and therefore feels like an amazing stretch!

 

 

The Stretch:

Begin standing against a wall, with your shoulderblades COMPLETELY flat against it. Your lower back can and should arch away from the wall a bit, but your entire upper back and head should be pressed against it. Hold your lower arms out at your sides.

 

 

 

 

Slowly and methodically raise your arms slowly up above your head, ALL THE WHILE KEEPING YOUR UPPER BACK COMPLETELY PRESSED AGAINST THE WALL. This pressure is the critical part of the stretch; your shoulderblades are going to want to pull away, using bigger muscles as support. Don't let them!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The stretch is finished when your arms are completely above your head, and your shoulderblades AND ELBOWS are firmly pressed against the wall. This is where your body will try to compensate: pulling your elbows out away from the wall. If you notice them kicking out, gently push them back flat against the wall.

Hold the stretch for at least 20 seconds, then slowly lower your arms and repeat.

This stretch should move your traps though a range of motion they almost never go through, so you may find it difficult. Your traps move in so many ways and are used so much, I'm sure this stretch will relax them and give you more insight into how they help your upper body function.

As always, if you're noticing pain or discomfort, or if the stretch doesn't help, I can always lead you in the right direction during your next massage therapy session. I'll see you in my Westport office!

Standing Posture

Are you standing as tall as you should be?

We often think of sitting all day as a killer on the body; but standing incorrectly can be just as detrimental. In this entry, I'll explore two common standing postures, why they are negative for the body, and correct standing posture.

Bad Example #1: Here, the body's pelvis is tilted toward the back. The tilt is tiny, but notice that it creates a cascade effect for the rest of the body: The knees are hyperextended (locked), the abdominal muscles are not engaged, the shoulders are slumped backward and the neck is not relaxed.

This type of standing posture will often lead to lower back pain, due to the fact that the lower back muscles are not allowed to remain in their soft curved position. This will also lead to abdominal muscle strength loss, as well as tension in the upper back and front of the neck.

 

 

Bad Example#2: In this image, the body's pelvis is tilted forward. This tilt looks more severe, but to the person tilting, it probably doesn't feel as exaggerated. Notice a similar muscle pattern occurs here; the knees are hyperextended, the abdominals are not being used correctly, and the shoulders and neck are forced to go back to compensate.

This type of posture will also lead to lower back pain, although I've seen people live with it for a long time. That is, it might take years before this type of posture begins to show signs of pain. Again, the neck and shoulders are especially affected by this type of repeated misuse.

 

 

 

Good Example:

The knees are gently bent, the pelvis is straight, the abdominals are pulled in tightly, the neck is pulled up from the shoulders, as in a straight line.

Here, keeping the knees slightly bent reduces fatigue on the front and back thigh muscles. I often hear clients say that their thigh muscles hurt MORE when they try to adopt this posture. I'll agree, that TEMPORARILY, you might notice discomfort when moving away from hyperextended knees. HOWEVER, this is not because the position is wrong for your body; it's merely because prior to that point, you were relying only on the strength of the knee joint to hold you up, whereas keeping the knee slightly bent relies on the muscles to keep you standing. Those muscles simply need to get stronger, and you will no longer feel pain.

Keeping the pelvis neutral can't be underestimated. This is done most easily by pulling in the abdomen; pulling your belly button toward your spine. You may notice that just this simple adjustment makes you stand a little straighter, and may even immediately reduce lower back pain. A good practice is even keeping your abdominals in while driving in your car. And hey, the more you get used to keeping them in, the easier it will be!

Finally, the neck and shoulders. This is the area I struggle with most, especially toward the end of a long day. We often let our shoulders round and slump, which pushes the neck forward. We then have to push our foreheads back just to keep from falling over! The best posture here is imagining a string pulling your entire body up from the crown of your head. This should instinctively pull your shoulders back, and your chin straight, reducing pressure on the entire upper body.

Posture is a constant battle against gravity. And if we observe elderly friends, we notice that eventually, gravity wins. However, if we pay attention to our posture and develop good habits now, we can keep that physical force at bey. More immediately, we can strengthen our muscles and hopefully, reduce pain!

I'm happy to discuss posture more at your next massage therapy session. We can compare poses and you'll see I'm far from perfect too! The key is to always keep trying to improve. I'll see you at my Westport office!

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Diana Remaley, LMT
Diana@RemaleyMassage.com
(203)292-5362
22 Crescent Road
Westport, CT