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08.18.22 | Sage Advice

The Enigma of Heirloom Foods

Like everything, foods evolve with time, changing in flavor, color and even shape. And yes, while we’re cautious to eat any of those weird looking foods, they’re often filled with a plethora of flavor and nutrients. Today, we’re exploring heirloom foods and why you shouldn’t let their appearance hold you back from trying them.

What are heirloom foods?

Have you ever noticed that weird-shaped carrot or the odd-colored tomato at your grocery store? Those are heirloom foods! Like all other aspects of life, as time passes, agricultural products and systems change, progressing the popularity of some foods and lessening the use of others. This leads to the emergence of heirloom foods – foods that may have been commonly eaten throughout previous generations but are less so today. 

Why you should add them to your diet

Heirlooms don’t only come with unique looks, but they also provide many nutritious benefits other foods don’t have. The genetics within the plants also typically provide them with pest, disease and weather resistance. 

Whether you’re snacking on an heirloom vegetable, fruit, or egg, each food is also sure to be filled with flavors you haven’t experienced before. The taste is what draws many to the established foods. Beyond their flavor, buying heirloom foods is also a great way to support local farms in your area that may grow them instead of buying usual produce from large-scale farms. 

Don’t hesitate to grab those colorful potatoes or weirdly shaped tomatoes next time you spot them out, you could be missing out on a flavor-filled heirloom treat!

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06.16.22 | Sage Advice

Simple Ways You Can Expel Stress This Summer

As one of the pillars for our model of 9 Ways of Vibrant Living at Sage Collective, we believe stress reduction is crucial to living a vibrant life. And while stress is a normal component of life, our focus isn’t to eliminate it but rather to learn how to manage, control and minimize it. Today, we’re spotlighting four tools everyone can utilize this summer and throughout the year to reduce stress:

Get Outside

Spending time outdoors is one of the easiest ways to relieve stress throughout the summer. While sunshine is accessible year-round, summertime is when you can benefit the most from the vitamin D it supplies! Vitamin gain leads to stronger and healthier bones and boosts immune systems. Research has even found that exposing yourself to fresh air and natural light for as little as 15 minutes a day helps to decrease emotional distress. 

Spend Time With Friends and Family

Time outdoors isn’t the only thing you should be adding to your daily routine in the summer. Another way to assure less stress and anxiety is by spending more time with your friends and family. As the proverb goes, “it takes a village.” Community and safe spaces are extremely significant to our wellbeing, especially when going through a stressful time. So, setting aside time to spend with family and friends is a sure way to help you stay stress-free! 

Reflect on Your Day

Whether it’s prayer, meditation, or simply practicing gratitude, taking time to reflect on your day is another way you can expel stress. As little as ten minutes of any of those activities can leave a profound impact on how you view your days, even when you may be facing stress. Along with reflecting on your own, taking opportunities to practice acts of service is another powerful way to relieve stress while engaging with your community and building relationships!

Take a Nap

Naps aren’t reserved for just little kids and are much better for our health than many people realize. Along with being a great way to break up your day and provide a much-needed break, naps have been found to lower the risk of heart disease, increase the body’s energy and lower stress! Naps don’t have to be long either; studies show that the most beneficial nap length for our bodies is only 10 to 15 minutes.

Living with stress isn’t enjoyable for anyone, but once we utilize the correct techniques and tools, controlling and minimizing stress is much easier than it sounds.

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06.09.22 | Sage Advice

Sage Collective’s Guide to Summer Wellness

We believe supporting healthy eating, outdoor activity, and self-care is always important, but summer is arguably the best time to practice all of the above! The warm weather and all that comes with it makes the season the perfect time to focus on individual wellbeing. Today, we’re sharing what you should be focusing on this season to guarantee nothing but the best for your body and mind:

Hydration

The key to a healthy and enjoyable summer is staying hydrated. While hydration is consequential during any season, it’s especially important to pay attention to in the summer months. Daily fluid intakes vary by the body, health condition, medications and even daily activity, but the consensus is that drinking water should become part of everyone’s daily routine throughout the summer. 

While drinking water is an amazing way to keep hydrated, there are plenty of other ways you can do so. Eating foods with high water content, like cucumbers, watermelon, strawberries, grapefruit and peppers, and taking probiotics are great ways to prohibit dehydration. And, if you aren’t a water drinker, try adding a few different ingredients like fresh lemons, berries or other fruits to add delicious flavor without the artificial preservatives or sweets!

Skincare

Protection from the sun and its harmful UV rays are essential for everyone during the summer months. While it does come with its benefits, like Vitamin D, when exposed to the sunlight for too long without protection, your body becomes more prone to wrinkles, dryness, age spots and even forms of skin cancer. 

That’s why it’s critical to protect your skin with anything from sunscreen to the clothes you wear. The key to skincare in the summer begins with sunscreen. SPF levels of 30 or higher are usually recommended, as well as reapplying throughout the day, but what’s most important is that you like what you’re putting on your body. Other ways to help avoid the sun’s harmful rays is by wearing lip balms, hats, sunglasses and other skin-protecting cosmetics. 

Practice Self-care

Because of the warm weather, longer days and more energy we feel during the summer in general, it’s the perfect time to start adding more self-care into your routine. Find some time in the long day to begin developing your exercise routine or encourage yourself to eat healthier by planting fresh fruits and vegetables in your garden. 

This is the best time to begin any new healthy lifestyle habits that can keep running through the end of the year and spend more time focusing on yourself. 

The bright sunlight, fresh air, and longer days are just some of the reasons why summertime is one of the most fulfilling times of the year. But don’t forget to focus on your health and wellness throughout the season!

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06.03.22 | Sage Advice

Introducing Our Newest Board Member: Camille Love

With a passion for the empowerment and health of her community, Camille Love always knew that she would thrive in the healthcare field. And today, with more than 16 years of experience under her belt, she continues to search for opportunities where she can lend her expertise in community healthcare. The transition of long-time member Angela Higginbotham from our Board recently created such an opportunity for Camille Love and added to the related expertise of Sage Collective as it pursues ways of encouraging the adoption of healthier lifestyle choices among older adults in underserved communities. We couldn’t be more thrilled to announce Camille Love as the newest addition to the Sage Collective Board of Directors. Get to know Camille in her introduction below: 

Can you talk a bit about your professional background and how it has added to your expertise in your field?

I originally started my nursing career when I was very young, around 16, when I decided to become a certified nursing assistant. I’ve never been in any other field besides nursing. From starting as a CNA, to becoming a registered nurse and now a nurse practitioner, I recognize that I have been completely focused for nearly two decades in work that is meaningful and fulfilling every day.

I transitioned into being a nurse practitioner when I felt that I wanted to broaden my scope of work. And now, I’m at a point in my career where I’m ready to take on leadership roles where I can empower and mentor other nurses and healthcare providers.  

What should those outside of the healthcare ecosystem know about the community caregiving experience?

Overall, I feel that there are two factors that everyone should keep in mind. On one side, I see the need for more compassion, which I say because we often see people now who have compassion fatigue. In general, we all need to show more sympathy and compassion to one another because you never know what others are going through at that moment. They might be a very fatigued healthcare provider, or if they aren’t a healthcare provider, they may be completely isolated. 

The second point is to practice safe behaviors. It’s easy to brush little things off of your shoulder when they might not affect you, but try to keep in mind that your actions could, in turn, affect someone else. If you’re possibly exposed to something like COVID-19, be considerate and make the smart decision to stay home and wear a mask so you don’t accidentally expose anyone else. 

Sage Collective believes that a sense of ‘care for the collective’ is essential for not only individual health but the health of a community. How does this belief translate through your own work and past experiences?

My experience has taught me that the health literacy of those outside of healthcare is very low, and I feel  that if we did a better job of communicating within our communities, that simple act of just talking to one another lessens the burden of providers and relieves some anxiety for community members. For example, parents need to understand that if their child has a temperature and a runny nose, it’s not something out of the ordinary and often doesn’t require attention from us in the hospital. 

If someone in that parent’s family had told them that this level of illness is normal, that would help create literacy in the community. So, in turn, they wouldn’t be burdening the providers to address a set of symptoms, which, in their eyes, is a simple matter. 

I also deal with older adults who have chronic illnesses like diabetes. In the African American community, we traditionally go heavy on salt, which leads to high blood pressure and other conditions. In the Latinx community, we have patients whose diets rely on tortillas, beans and other high-carb foods. Communication within these communities is essential when talking about wellness, since it completely changes the game when it comes to the knowledge and decisions people make about their diet. So, if you have a simple conversation amongst family, friends or community members, you could change a whole community’s health based on word of mouth and education. So, the healthcare-focused component of my work completely aligns with the community component that Sage provides.

What other unique values held by Sage Collective have drawn you to join the Board?

I’m currently working for an organization that is a federally-qualified health center, so our objective is to provide excellent quality healthcare to underserved communities. This has always been my mission in healthcare since that population is, well, underserved in nearly every aspect of life. So, working with Sage Collective, I can help populations that are both underserved and overlooked. 

Within the Sage ecosystem, you have people of color, and you have the elderly, and then you have people who face financial hardships, so these circumstances are not affording them luxuries that other persons would normally get. My fuel is to always target and give the best to underserved communities, so I was immediately drawn to Sage Collective because of our parallels. 

What is the significance of having intergenerational relationships in the healthcare world? Specifically in community health?

Intergenerational relationships are integral to the success of communities. They offer the opportunity to bring together the tried-and-true conventions that exist within the healthcare field with the energy, innovations and new perspectives of younger generations. 

What are you most looking forward to as a new member of Sage Collective’s board? 

I’m very excited to be working with the other leaders on the Sage Collective Board, and to have the opportunity to learn from them, pick their brains, and of course, contribute to the organization itself. I’m also eager to serve and have the opportunity to continue the work that has inspired me for so long, but in a different capacity, through housing and programming.

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12.30.21 | Sage Advice

Resolutions for 2022

One of the best ways to set yourself up for success in a new year is by making a list of resolutions before it starts. This tradition is a powerful way to articulate your values and can hold you accountable for your goals heading into the new year. In case you’re unsure of what to add to your to-do list, here are some resolutions you can take into 2022 to continue championing a vibrant lifestyle.

Start Something You’ve Always Dreamed About

Heading into the new year, make it a priority to make an ambitious dream come true. Not only is it essential to set goals for yourself throughout the new year, but achieving them leads to significantly rewarding experiences. Whether you want to head back to school, discover a new hobby or change career paths, don’t be afraid to take initiative of your life. Fulfilling dreams helps give your life purpose, control and meaning. And, if this isn’t the year to do it, when is?

Put Your Health First

Putting your health first encompasses a variety of choices that you can make throughout the year. It’s important to remember that your body’s health consists of both physical and mental elements. So, while making sure you try to incorporate moderate, regular physical activity into your life along with a variety of nutritious foods, taking care of your mental health is just as important. And, lucky enough, sometimes specific actions will go hand in hand with helping both areas of wellness. 

Live in the Moment

If the past few years have taught us anything, it’s that we shouldn’t take anything for granted. We believe one of the most significant goals you should have in the new year is to live in the present. To do so, you must focus on the now. A few great ways to do this are by practicing mindfulness, performing meditation or simply performing random acts of kindness in your community.  

We’re thankful to keep learning from the lessons that 2021 has taught us and couldn’t be more excited to see how our resolutions will play out in the upcoming year!

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12.14.21 | Sage Advice

Deliciously Healthy Winter Dishes For Any Gatherings

When winter comes around, no matter where you end up, it’s not difficult to find the sweet treats and savory meals that are traditionally associated with the season. However, for those inspired to maintain or start conscious eating habits, the winter can be a difficult time filled with temptation. Today, inspired by our vibrant living principles, we’re sharing a few deliciously healthy winter dishes that anyone can enjoy this winter. 

Sweet Potatoes

A favorite during this time of year, sweet potatoes are hard not to enjoy. While most people enjoy sweet potatoes even sweeter, baked with brown sugar and marshmallows, there are various methods to cook the vegetables that are just as enjoyable but much healthier. Like a standard potato, sweet potatoes can be served in a variety of ways. Baking them whole, mashing them, and even dicing them in a salad proves how versatile the vegetables can be. No matter how you cook them, we promise they won’t lose the sweetness that makes them so delectable in the first place. 

Winter Crudités

Who doesn’t love a mix of fresh vegetables? Crudités make the perfect winter dish for that reason. Not only can the appetizer appeal to virtually anyone, but it comes with a plethora of highly vitamin-packed vegetables that you can personally pick and choose. If you want to put a twist on the classic appetizer, make your own tasty dip to pair with the refreshing produce. 

Festive Fruit Salad

While it might seem out of season, a festive and healthy fruit salad is sure to excite taste buds in the winter. Similar to the crudités, not only is this dish healthy, but you can bring it and eat it anywhere and anytime. The nourishing food makes a perfect option for a morning snack or a late-night dessert. Along with the fruit, don’t be afraid to add in extra ingredients that bring even more flavor to the salad like mint, basil, lavender or even cayenne pepper for a little heat. 

Seasonal Squash

Another versatile food, squash is the perfect vegetable to substitute in and out of almost every traditional meal. Typically harvested in the fall, the nutrient-packed acorn squash, sugar pumpkins, spaghetti squash and butternut squash are available for cooking your favorite dishes year-round. Some seasonal favorites include butternut squash mac and cheese, soup and casserole, stuffed acorn squash and roasted spaghetti squash with kale

Even with the sweet temptations that surround us throughout the holiday season, healthy options are never too far out of reach. Whether you’re serving food at home for yourself or preparing a dish to bring to a gathering, there are various methods we can each take to continue practicing conscious eating habits and living vibrantly.

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11.18.21 | Sage Advice

How to Tackle the Winter Blues

Winter’s frigid months, when sunshine is scarce and snow piles accumulate, can be daunting, leaving many — particularly older adults — feeling as though stepping outside is a chore. At Sage Collective, we recognize the hardships that come with the long winter days and believe that with preparation, anyone can traverse the burdens of winter with relative ease. So, even as winter takes over in the upcoming months, you can meet the blues it might spawn, head-on. 

The simplest way to get through the seemingly never-ending winter months is by centering your focus on your wellbeing, introducing various self-care principles into your life and staying mindful of what makes you happy. 

Secure Nutrients

Nutrients are critical to thriving during winter, and while bleak, the outdoors produces several essential benefits. Natural light provides significant benefits to our bodies that we lack during winter, including vitamin D, which reduces the risk of heart disease and prevents bone loss, and produces mood boosters like serotonin and endorphins. While natural light can be easily accessible from windows, it’s even more beneficial to immerse yourself in the outdoors, and embrace the fresh air.

While you’re outside, a walk around your block or to the grocery store is also a great way to combat the winter blues. Frequent physical activity helps create a routine, and as your body moves, the hormones released by your body and vitamins you receive from the sun help stabilize emotions and build spirits. 

Because the outdoors can be such a brisk environment, having options to be active in indoor environments is a necessity. Programs like SilverSneakers make it easy for qualified older adults to go to gyms and participate in online or in person fitness classes at no cost. Around Bronzeville, gyms participating with SilverSneakers include La Fitness and Planet Fitness. Local YMCA’s are another great option for anyone searching to keep their fitness routine active in the winter.

Feed Your Soul

Nurturing your body certainly helps get through some aspects of winter, but your soul’s wellbeing is equally important. It’s essential to find bliss through activities and hobbies you’re passionate about during winter. Sit next to a warm fire and immerse yourself in a new book; tune into a podcast and explore new topics; put pen to paper and share your feelings in a journal, or document cherished memories in a scrapbook.

If you can, take a trip. Midwesterners know best that venturing to a different climate or part of the country can give you a real boost during the winter months. Whether you make it a road trip to Florida or take a plane to Cancún, vibrant sunlight and cloudless skies never disappoint. Weekend and day trips are another great way to feed the soul, especially considering Chicago’s perfect location for getaways that take you in virtually any direction. 

Most importantly, don’t shy away from spending some extra time with your family and friends during winter. Loved ones are the perfect remedy for the winter blues and often can kick us out of mental slumps. 

As the winter season approaches, start preparing for what lies ahead and armed with a good attitude and a toolkit for beating the winter blues, consider placing a spotlight on your wellbeing.

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10.19.21 | Sage Advice

How Museums Might Reduce Your COVID-19 Stress

One of the largest challenges in modern-day life is finding a treatment for the frequent burnout that most of us feel daily. At Sage Collective, one of our most cherished beliefs is that wellness, health and empowerment should be made priorities in every community. That’s why today, we’re exploring how museums might be the perfect answer to your post-pandemic stress and burnout. 

Many individuals, especially older adults, have faced higher stress levels over the past year and a half than ever before. Feelings of uncertainty and unpredictability due to COVID-19 have also led to many feeling alone, anxious and burnt out, with little reprieve. However, there is growing research that offers tangible steps toward alleviating these negative feelings. 

Often in the present day, many feel like time is limited, and burnout is constant. However, solace can be found in the relaxing and revitalizing spaces of a museum. For many, the knowledge that curated spaces of art and history can provide a wealth of benefits for mental and physical health is new.

Recently, doctors in Belgium received permission to prescribe museum visits to combat the mental health crisis in their country, and similar actions have been implemented in Canada. Patients who get the prescriptions can go anywhere from an intimate art gallery to a fashion exhibition at a history museum. 

The goal behind the three-month-long trial is to promote an engaging learning experience and shift people away from the stress of their daily routines in hopes of having a positive impact on mental and physical health. The museums and exhibitions act as safe and welcoming places for patients to unwind from their day-to-day responsibilities and explore new ideas and areas of interest. Not only does the time off allow patients to catch their breath and spend time with loved ones, but it also acts as a moment of respite from the harsh realities of the pandemic. 

Instead of relying on drug therapies, this mode of enrichment has the possibility to be expanded to other areas of mental health beyond pandemic-related stress and anxiety to alleviating symptoms of depression, psychiatric disorders, anxiety and more. 

Numerous museums, galleries and art centers around Bronzeville present the perfect opportunity for anyone looking to combat stress and relax — in person or virtually. The South Side Community Arts Center, Gallery Guichard, Smart Museum of Art, DuSable Museum of African American History, and Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry are all wonderful choices to spend an afternoon enhancing your wellbeing and expanding your mind. 

Furniture and a crowd of people fill a bright museum interior.
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10.07.21 | Sage Advice

October is Eat Better, Eat Together Month

October is National Eat Better, Eat Together Month, an annual tradition that celebrates a basic human need that many of us don’t think twice about — eating. While the history behind this special day is elusive, its aim is noble, and encourages us throughout the month to share meals with family and friends, and to promote healthier eating habits. 

When was the last time you ate a meal with your family? Today, it isn’t uncommon for families to take meals separately due to busy schedules and increasing commitments. However, making the time to share a meal with family and friends is something we should all make more of an effort to do. Breaking bread with others has long been associated with improved social skills and allows you to reconnect with the people you care about. Since engaging in social life and family life are part of our 9 Ways of Vibrant Living, we encourage you to make it a priority to carve time out of your month to plan a thoughtful meal (or two) with family, friends or for your community.

Dining together is also linked to better eating habits and reduced stress levels. Preparing meals with a number of food options encourages people to fill their plates with a mixture of nutritious eats. Previously, we explored a number of “superfoods” that can easily be incorporated into any meal, which you can read about here. For those concerned about time constraints, planning preparation for multiple meals is a perfect way to produce sizable servings of healthy meals without the added pressure of making them last minute. To discover more healthy eating tips to implement this month and throughout the future, explore one of our former blogs here

This month, Sage Collective encourages you to dedicate a few nights a week to eating better and eating together. Make a meal with your family, organize a community dinner or simply clean your cupboards of unhealthy snacks and replace them with smarter alternatives.

A family sits around a dinner table serving food to one another.
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09.02.21 | Sage Advice

6 “superfoods” you can incorporate to boost your health

As we continue to change with age, eating healthy can be a vital step in caring for your future self. Taking inspiration from our 9 Ways of Vibrant Living, which you can read more about here, we compiled a list of our favorite “superfoods” you can easily introduce into your diet. These highly nutritious items can be added to a larger meal or snack to boost your health and help to achieve a balanced diet.

Tea

Not only is tea low in calories, it is also a refreshing alternative to coffee, soda and other beverages. Notably high in antioxidants, tea can be a tool for weight management and has anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic (cancer-suppressing) benefits. One study suggested that the regular consumption of white and green teas resulted in a vast reduction of stress for most participants.

Avocados

Avocados are much more than the brunch staple or spread for toast that they’ve become over the last decade. As a great addition to a salad, guacamole or being eaten simply with a pinch of salt and pepper, avocados provide numerous health benefits. Rich in fiber and and healthy fats, avocados can be a great substitute for eggs, mayonnaise, sour cream and even butter.. 

Mushrooms

Mushrooms have been used in Eastern medicine and culture for millennia. They are known to increase the health of the immune system through their many therapeutic properties. After much scientific research, we are learning more about the dramatic positive effects mushrooms can have on preventing cancer, lowering blood pressure and overall increasing well-being. You can incorporate mushrooms into your diet by cooking them along with other vegetables, adding them to salads and pasta or simply frying them with healthy oil. Some of the most popular mushrooms you should look out for at the farmer’s market or grocery store are Portabella, Shiitake, Buttons, Oyster, Enoki and Lion’s Mane. 

Dark Leafy Greens & Cruciferous Vegetables

There is a wide consensus among nutritionists that vibrant green vegetables and those in the cabbage family offer some of the best nutrients and vitamins. These include arugula, kale, collard greens, kohlrabi, radishes and turnips. Most of these are full of zinc, calcium, iron, magnesium, vitamin C, fiber, and what seems like a never-ending list of enriching minerals that can reduce the chances of heart disease and diabetes while lowering blood pressure and preventing some cancers. 

Salmon

Salmon is both tasty and full of healthy protein, B vitamins, potassium and omega-3 fatty acids. Because of its abundance of rich nutrients, salmon has more health benefits compared to other animal products and is known to help prevent heart disease and diabetes. One way you can enjoy this hearty fish is by baking it with lemons, herbs and a healthy (oil, avocado or sesame).  

Garlic

Garlic packs a punch in flavor and delivers huge nutritional benefits, too. Each clove of garlic contains magnesium, vitamin C and fiber, which are all essential to a balanced diet. Research indicates its effectiveness to support the immune system while reducing cholesterol and blood pressure. One study even found that garlic provides antibacterial and antiviral characteristics. 

However you incorporate these superfoods into your meal planning and cooking regimen, they offer delicious and easy ways to boost your overall health and well-being.

A dinner plate contains salmon, mushrooms, tomatoes, broccoli, and a mix of other vegetables and sauce.
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