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Brookhaven Retreat Blog
Saturday, 31 May 2014 15:44

Health Benefits of Cashews

Native to South America, cashew nuts are actually seeds that grow from the end of the cashew apple. The fruit itself is a nutrient rich treat, but is too delicate to be exported to North America.

Fortunately for us, the cashew nut was introduced in other parts of the world in the 16th century by Portuguese explorers. It is now considered a rich treat, whether raw, roasted, salted, sugared or covered in chocolate.

Not only do cashews have a succulent flavor, but they are nutrient rich as well. One ounce contains five grams of protein, a gram of fiber, twelve grams of essential fatty acids, and various essential minerals such as iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper and manganese.

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. The body breaks down protein into these smaller amino acids and then reconstructs them into other protein structures, such as muscle tissue, skin, hair and fingernails. The body uses twenty-two amino acids, nine of which are considered “essential”, meaning they must be obtained through the diet. If a food contains all nine essential amino acids it is considered a “complete protein,” such as in animal products like meat, eggs, and milk. However, nuts and seeds like cashews are also considered a complete protein, and are thus a great protein source for vegans.

Essential Fatty Acids
Approximately 82% of the fatty acids in cashews are the healthy unsaturated fats; about 66% of them being monounsaturated, the type of healthy fat found in olive oil. These essential fatty acids can help reduce triglyceride and bad LDL cholesterol levels, and thus are beneficial in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

The iron in cashews is necessary for hemoglobin synthesis, which transports oxygen through the blood and to all body tissues. Iron is also involved in DNA synthesis, immune function, energy production, and neurotransmitter synthesis (such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine). Thus it is important for proper brain function, a stable mood and the ability to focus and concentrate.

The magnesium in cashews is vital for bone health; about two-thirds of the mineral is found in bones. It balances calcium; helping to regulate nerve and muscle tone and keep you relaxed.

The copper found in cashews is an essential component of many enzymes in the body, and plays a role in a wide range physiological processes including iron utilization, energy production, elimination of free radicals, development of bone and connective tissue and the production of the hair and skin pigment melanin.

Cashews also contain zinc, which is important for growth, cell renewal and growth, wound healing, immune function, vision, memory, proper sense of taste and smell and healthy skin and hair.

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Friday, 30 May 2014 01:47

Patience: A Dying Virtue

Whether it’s paying the extra fee for “fast-passes” at amusement parks and airports, or honking and tailgating a slow driver in front of you, everything is now all about immediate gratification. In this fast-paced world, convenience is valued at a far greater price than patience.

But if we look closer we may find that most of these “conveniences” are actually not that convenient. We rush off a plane to hurry and stand in line; we honk at the car in front of us to then get stuck at a stoplight; and we pay extra to cut line, only to be greeted by the hoards of others who paid for the same service. There is no getting away from the importance of instilling patience in our everyday lives.

We are all guilty of impatience and choosing the convenient option (I am eating instant oatmeal as I type this). However, when we find ourselves agitated over the slightest delay, or unable to build healthy relationships with others because we can’t control our need for everything to go our way, re-familiarizing ourselves with the lost virtue of patience will benefit our lives tremendously.

Think about moments of your day that you dread the most. For me they would be: driving in traffic, my dog taking forever to use the restroom and typing in the security code to enter my residence. As I write them down, I realize how dumb they are, because these are things I do EVERY day and yet I still dread doing them. Why? Because if it takes me longer than the usual 13 minutes to get home I get stressed, or if my dog takes longer than five minutes to go to the bathroom I get frustrated, and well, taking 30 seconds to punch in the 4-digit code is just inconvenient. These are embarrassing to admit, but by being honest with myself I can improve my days by reducing the stress, anxiety and agitation that I may subconsciously carry throughout the day.

Here are some simple ways to develop and practice patience every day:

  • Be honest: Like I just had to do, be honest with yourself about the things that you are impatient about. By identifying what activities cause even slight stress, you can then work on reducing your irritability and anxiety, while increasing patience for those activities.
  • Deep breaths: When you feel the stress and annoyance of impatience stirring up, take a deep breath and focus on just how little this delay is. Does it matter that I am 5 minutes later getting home? Probably not. Most inconveniences aren’t going to cause a butterfly effect, but often the agitation and stress will stay with us longer.
  • Read: Unlike movies or TV shows, reading offers delayed gratification. Reading a book usually takes much longer than watching a two-hour movie and can help develop one’s ability to appreciate delayed gratification.
  • Garden: Gardening is the ultimate test in patience. Not many people have the green thumb to grow a garden without a heavy dose of setbacks and delays, but when you see that first little berry blooming, you recognize that some things are well worth the wait.

Patience comes with practice. Becoming aware of the importance of being a more patient person enriches our lives infinitely. We become kinder, less anxious, friendlier and less stressed. In a world full of instant gratification, it is now more than ever that patience and delayed gratification should be practiced, enforced and cherished. After all, we all know Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Thursday, 29 May 2014 04:50

The Lunch Box Note

When you were a child, did your parents ever leave you little notes in your lunch box? I’m not in the habit of leaving daily notes for my kids, but one day this year I grabbed pen and marked “I ♥ U” on my child’s napkin. I had pretty much forgotten about doing it by the time we were out the door on the way to school, so I was surprised that my kindergartener was bringing it up weeks after.

It’s not like this was the first time I had told him that I loved him. I tell him many times every day. But to him, there was something special about the written note – maybe it was because it surprised him. Maybe he liked that he was getting a message from me during a time of the day when he’s not with me. Or his friends might get these notes and he was just glad to be included. Whatever the reason, my seemingly insignificant gesture was very meaningful for my kindergartener.

We’ve all heard about the importance of positive thinking – and positive affirmations. When we think happier thoughts, our outlook is more positive. When we have positive mantras that we can recall when we are in a tough spot, we can keep ourselves from going to a dark place. These ideas are expounded all the time in self-help literature, so what I am saying here is nothing new.

But I did learn something from my kindergartener. It’s not just knowing the mantras or keeping positive thoughts in mind that matters. There’s something special about seeing the words written down – and put somewhere that might catch us off guard – that has great power to influence us for the better. How, then, can we combine these ideas – the experience I had with my little lunch box note and the research about positive affirmations?

One idea is to continue leaving little notes for my child to find. I can also go a step further and leave notes for my husband to find. Even sending someone a quick email or text in the middle of the day just to share kind words can boost his or her mood. And maybe, once we start leaving positive notes for our loved ones, they will return the favor (as long as they know how to write ☺). We can even think creatively and leave random affirmations in books at the library or on a table at the coffee shop. You never know whom you will reach with a positive message.

To leave surprise notes for yourself is a bit harder. One trick I used in college was to write on a mirror with dry erase markers. Once you go to bed, you usually forget what you wrote, and you enjoy the surprise message in the morning. Or, if you are more tech savvy, there is a FREE app for the iPhone called “HiFutureSelf” that lets you send messages to yourself or to other people.

In any case, it’s important to see positive messages IN PRINT. Send them to yourself. Send them to other people. Thinking good thoughts can get you far, but writing them down and seeing them can reinforce the mental muscle. It takes lots of lunch box notes to instill a positive life outlook, but if we all start taking lunch box sized action, perhaps together we can feed the souls of this world.

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Wednesday, 28 May 2014 03:12

Health Benefits of Zinc

What is zinc? Zinc is an essential trace mineral, meaning it is only needed in small amounts by the human body, but is vital for health nonetheless. It is important for many functions in the body, including stimulating over 300 different enzymes, sustaining a healthy immune system, proper DNA synthesis, good eye sight, growth during childhood and wound healing. Zinc is found all throughout the body, including in organs, tissues, bones, fluids, and cells. Muscles and bones contain about 90 percent of the body’s zinc supply.

Some of the critical roles of zinc include the following:

Growth & Cell Division
Zinc is very important during pregnancy. It is needed for the growing fetus whose cells are rapidly dividing, and for preventing congenital abnormalities and pre-term delivery. Zinc activates growth, including height, weight and bone development.

Zinc plays a vital role in fertility by protecting the prostate gland in males from infection, as well as maintaining sperm count, mobility and testosterone. In females, zinc can alleviate PMS symptoms and help treat menstrual problems.

Immune System
Zinc plays a critical role in activating T lymphocytes (T cells). T-cells control and regulate immune responses, as well as attack infected or cancerous cells. Low zinc levels lead to reduced and weakened T-cells, which leads to increased susceptibility to pathogens and infections. It’s been proven to be beneficial in treating pneumonia, diarrhea and the common cold.

Wound Healing
Because of zinc’s role in protecting skin and mucous membranes, it has been successfully used to accelerate wound healing. It can help decrease inflammation and bacterial growth, and aid cell regeneration and growth.

Taste, Smell & Appetite
Zinc activates areas of the brain that receive and process information from sensors related with taste and smell. Plasma levels of zinc, and zinc’s effect on other nutrients, like copper and manganese, influence appetite and taste preference. Zinc is also used in the treatment of anorexia.

Skin Hair & Nails
Zinc accelerates the renewal of skin cells. Zinc creams have been used to treat diaper rash, acne, eczema and psoriasis. Due to zincs anti-inflammatory effect, it is also used to helps soothe skin tissue in cases of poison ivy, sunburn, blisters and certain gum diseases. It’s also important for healthy hair. Insufficient zinc may result in hair loss, thinning hair, or early graying. Zinc may also be used in shampoos to treat dandruff.

The retina of the eye contains high concentrations of zinc, which decrease with age. This may have something to do with the development of macular degeneration, which leads to partial or complete blindness. Zinc may also help prevent night blindness and the development of cataracts.

New research indicates that zinc plays a critical role in regulating neural communication between one another. This in turn affects how memories are formed and how people learn.

Recommended Dietary Allowances of Zinc:

Food Sources of Zinc:

It’s also important to note when consuming plant sources of zinc, that whole-grain breads, cereals, legumes, and other foods contains phytates that bind zinc and inhibit its absorption. Thus, the bioavailability of zinc from grains and plant foods is lower than that from animal foods, although many grain- and plant-based foods are still good sources of zinc.

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Monday, 26 May 2014 17:58

Beating Mosquitoes: The Natural Way

I recently went on a trip where the weather was 85 degrees and it rained every afternoon; AKA: the perfect recipe for mosquitoes. For the last couple of days my legs have been itching nonstop and I have been beating myself up over not being prepared. With outdoor barbeques, picnics and get-togethers approaching, I wanted to make sure I am ready for Tennessee’s own sunny summer. I have decided to equip myself with natural, homemade bug spray. In the meantime, I have been soothing my itchy bites with natural remedies.

Relieving the itch:

Tea tree oil: Mosquito bites cause inflammation in the skin, hence the redness, itchiness and swelling. Tea tree oil is an essential oil that acts as an anti-inflammatory. It also has antibacterial properties, which can prevent the bite from becoming infected.

Honey: Honey is the all-encompassing “skin-friend.” Like tea tree oil, honey is an anti-inflammatory as well as antibacterial, and is probably already found in your home.

Cider Vinegar: When you have too many bug bites to treat individually, a vinegar bath may be the answer. Put two or three cups of vinegar into a warm bath and soak the itch away. Apple cider vinegar is effective due to the acidity that helps balance the pH of inflamed skin.

Peppermint: Peppermint is well known for its cooling effect. You can use it as an essential oil or crush up some leaves into a paste. Dab the soothing agent onto the bug bite to counteract the inflammation.

Essential Oil Bug Spray Recipe:

While in mosquito-heavy Thailand I borrowed a friend’s homemade repellent and found it to work rather well. This has encouraged me to experiment with making my own. Commercial bug sprays are full of chemicals that can cause harm to us. DEET is one of the main ingredients in many repellents, but has been shown to be dangerous when applied frequently to our skin or inhaled, especially to children.

To repel mosquitoes naturally, place 20-30 drops each of therapeutic-grade essential oils peppermint, geranium and lavender into 1 oz. of witch hazel. Shake the mixture together! This spray should be reapplied every hour or two. Make sure to store this repellent away from sunlight in a dark-tinted bottle.

Research or talk to a doctor before using essential oils on pregnant women, small children and cats.

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Monday, 26 May 2014 03:57

Turtle On

Each year, World Turtle Day is celebrated on the 23rd of May. The American Tortoise Rescue sponsors this event to bring awareness to the important role the dwindling turtle plays in keeping the ecosystem balanced.

At Brookhaven Retreat the turtle symbolizes more than just an endangered species; it symbolizes longevity. Turtles use their shells, which they carry around them, to protect themselves from any peril. When a turtle feels danger is around, it uses the shell as safety. Turtles are unique in that they know exactly when to calmly retreat into their protective shells, but this does not keep them from journeying on when all is clear.

In recovery, women work to become more like the turtle. Their built in protection isn’t a physical shell, but an emotional one. Brookhaven Retreat helps women build the tools they need to strengthen their shell, to be one that is durable from harmful words, thoughts and actions. Like the turtle, they learn not only when to pull in, but also when to venture out. Their decisions are no longer made impulsively, but rather slowly and deliberately.

As women, it is easy to become overloaded with others’ burdens and we forget that we cannot carry everyone and everything. The turtle knows this, and carries its shell only, letting go of excess weights that may drag it down.

Turtles are tranquil. They don’t fight, yell or show their teeth to protect themselves. Their shell is their protection, and with it they can live to be over 100 years old, outliving most of their predators. This World Turtle Day, take time to honor this magnificent species by examining your own turtle qualities. Do you manage risk and expectations accordingly? Are your decisions measured and willful?

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Monday, 26 May 2014 03:53

Deviating from the Main Road

I was driving the main stretch of highway the other day on my way to eat dinner with my family, when I got detoured off the main and only road I knew due to a very bad traffic accident. I was forced to turn onto a winding back road and left to maneuver my way out. I had absolutely no idea how to get to the restaurant from that road and I had no service on my cellphone to search for directions. At this point my agitation and frustration had skyrocketed and all I wanted to do was give up and go home. I felt defeated.

As I used my sense of direction to try to find my way out of this unknown area, I began to look around at the view. It was undoubtedly a beautiful journey. Cherry blossom trees lined the curb as I approached the peak of this hilly road. At the stop sign, I looked to my left and I could see for miles. I saw what remained of the wreckage down below, the vintage farmland that ran parallel to me, and- Aha! There in the not so far distance was my destination.

Feeling a little victorious, I continued on my way.

This got me thinking. This journey is a lot like life itself. We have a tendency to plan for the future; it’s only human that we do so. We have goals, and to meet these goals we plan out how to get there. We usually choose the easiest route and 99 percent of the time our goals are met using this path. But what about when that main road closes? Have we prepared ourselves for detours that we might be faced with?

It is easy to feel defeated when we have setbacks and detours. Depression, fear and anxiety get triggered and without preparation we are likely to give up. The thing we must remember: there are many different paths that can take us to our ultimate destination, and often times the unintended path is the most rewarding. We learn something new, see something new and feel something new. Successfully maneuvering through life’s diversions instills self-confidence and empowerment within. After my initial reaction of anxiety and stress, I ultimately felt more accomplished and proud of myself for figuring out a new, beautiful road, and better prepared for when the next obstacle arrives.

This minor inconvenience almost caused me to give up. I almost had forgone an enjoyable dinner with my entire family because I was not mentally prepared for a roadblock.

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Sunday, 25 May 2014 04:43

Grilled Salmon and Pineapple With Avocado Dressing

It’s time to bring out the grill. This simple but impressive dinner is perfect for a family get together on a warm summer evening. The golden pineapples and creamy avocados pair perfectly with the delicious salmon and offer abundant nutrition.

The omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon and avocados protects us from heart disease and high blood pressure, as well as reduces inflammation, and the risk of depression. Salmon, pineapple and avocados are abundant in vitamin E, an antioxidant that improves blood pressure, cholesterol levels, memory loss and depression.


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons chopped fresh basil leaves, plus some sprigs for garnish
  • 1 ½ teaspoons chopped fresh chives
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves, plus some sprigs for garnish
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 (4 ounce) salmon fillets with skin, each about 1 inch thick
  • 4 (1/2 inch thick) round slices of fresh pineapple
  • Avocado Dressing (see below)


  1. Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the oil, chopped basil, chives, chopped tarragon, salt and pepper to blend.
  3. Brush the salmon and the pineapple slices with the herb mixture.
  4. Place the salmon and the pineapple on the grill.
  5. Cook the salmon until barely cooked through and still pink inside (about 4 minutes per side).
  6. Cook the pineapples until slightly charred (about 4 minutes per side).
  7. Transfer 1 pineapple slice to each plate and arrange a piece of salmon slightly overlapping it.
  8. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the avocado dressing over each piece of fish.
  9. Garnish with fresh herbs and serve.

Serves 4

Source: Giada’s Feel Good Food

Avocado Dressing


  • 1 small avocado, diced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil levels
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh tarragon leaves
  • 1 small garlic clover, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon extra-vrigin olive oil
  • 1/1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon anchovy paste
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly gourd black pepper


  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons water and process until smooth.
  3. Cover the dressing and let stand for at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour for the flavors to blend.
Published in Brookhaven Blog
Friday, 23 May 2014 05:21

Choose Wisely

Remember Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade? There’s a scene at the end that has become so iconic that it is often parodied in popular culture. Harrison Ford, playing the daring archaeologist Indiana Jones, is working with his father Henry Jones, played by Sean Connery, to find the Holy Grail. His quest leads him to an underground cave, and he comes upon a room filled with what looks like hundreds of different chalices. The Grail Knight who is guarding this sacred room says to Jones, “Choose wisely, for while the true Grail will bring you life, the false Grail will take it from you.” The viewer then sees Jones’s competitor pick and drink from one of the many chalices in the room – and his body quickly turns to bones. The Grail Knight looks at Indiana Jones and says, “He chose…poorly.”

I’m not sure about you, but often I feel like Indiana Jones in the Grail room. I am faced with a decision, and there seem to be a million possible options in front of me. Or sometimes the choice is just between two things, but it still isn’t much easier. The problem for me is that I have my own Grail Knight in my head. He tells me that if I make the wrong choice, I will certainly die! That idea can leave me paralyzed, unable to make any choice at all for extreme fear of the unknown and possibly deadly consequence I will face.

If I am honest with myself, the outcomes of my choices are never so dire. We don’t live on “lets make a deal” where the first door leads to happiness and the second leads to misery. If choices were that clear, it wouldn’t be hard at all! Door number one please! Choices are hard because the far end of the path we choose is mostly unknown. Most likely, the decision is hard because all options have potential good parts to them. It’s hard because we don’t have a crystal ball that shows us all the possibilities that go along with making a certain decision. We must choose despite the ambiguity that we face.

When I look back on my life and the choices I have made, I am generally happy with where my choices have lead. Even when I can see that I made a bad choice, I can find good things that resulted from it. It’s a fun game to play sometimes: “Well if I hadn’t chosen this, then XY and Z good things wouldn’t have been possible.” It’s also a hard game because we don’t know how XY and Z would look if a different choice had been made instead.

Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard said, “life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.” In other words, it’s all a trick of retrospect. We can look back at our choices and be grateful for where they led us. We can look ahead at the choice in front of us and know that once we are past it, we will most likely be able to see some good outcomes from the choice we make – either way.

With this thinking, I can see that choosing “poorly” or “wisely” isn’t really the issue. The trick is making a choice at all. Once we do that, it’s hindsight that can help us see the good from it – either way we decide to go. Next time you have to choose between two or a million possibilities, remember that the Grail Knight is fiction. Because your choice is YOURS, it will lead you somewhere great.

Published in Brookhaven Blog
Wednesday, 21 May 2014 17:30

How to Make the Most of Your Life Transitions

From elementary school to college, May notoriously brings the end of a school year. Some may be moving on to higher education, while others begin the search for their ideal job. For the rest of our lives we will be growing and transitioning into new phases.

Transitions (even happy ones) can be stressful and bring up mixed emotions and feelings. Oftentimes it can also be overwhelming and scary. So how can we prepare ourselves for these major life transitions? Taking time for self-reflection. By self-reflecting we can better embrace the change and make the most of our new roles & surroundings, because as the saying goes, “The only thing that is constant is change.”

Guide for Embracing Change

Recognize that transitions are hard because they can shake your sense of identity.
Naturally we all define ourselves in part by our surroundings so when transitions take place it can be disorienting. It takes time to build a sense of identity in our new surroundings.

Being in transition is a wonderful opportunity for growth.
Look at the parts of yourself and your life that you most value. How can you bring those parts of yourself into your new role? Are there areas that you’d like to make changes to? Maybe you’ve been neglectful of some important areas of your life. Transitions are an opportunity to begin practicing new habits and ways of interacting with others.

Remind yourself why you chose to make the change.
When you remind yourself why you made the change, its helps you move from feeling overwhelmed to understanding that this is a temporary adjustment, and while it’s difficult now, you are willing to go through some uncertainty and discomfort for the long term gain. 

Recall other times in your life when you’ve successfully dealt with transitions.
Reflecting on your past can help you to make good decisions as you move forward.

When you’re in transition, it’s easy to become overly focused on yourself.
One way to shift your focus is to look at others who may need your help. If you’re at work, it might be a co-worker who you notice is having a bad day. When we make efforts of supporting others it helps us remember that everyone struggles at times, and that human connection can be a powerful aid in helping getting through it.

Part of what helps you feel secure in transition is having a support system.
Make an effort to stay connected. Keep in touch with your family, call an old friend, or volunteer at a local charity. Being able to share how you really feel can be a tremendous source of strength for you. 

Published in Brookhaven Blog
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We are a private pay treatment center and do not accept any type of insurance. Costs associated with care are the responsibility of the client.