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Holistically Fed BLOG

Benefits of Chewing Your Food Well

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You may have heard the phrase before, “You are what you eat.” When it comes to our physical health, this is not entirely true. It would be much more accurate to say “You are what you digest.” The truth is, it doesn’t matter how healthy you eat if your body is not capable of properly breaking down, absorbing and utilizing the nutrients from the foods that you eat.

In order to thrive and optimize your health, you MUST support a healthy digestion if you want to get the most out of the foods that you are eating.

Did you know that even healthy foods, if not properly broken down, can become food for a wide variety of opportunistic organisms that can wreak havoc on your health? Not to mention, if you have a leaky gut, undigested food particles that enter into the blood stream can trigger a multitude of inflammatory reactions depending on the individual, including but not limited to migraines, joint pain, acne, anxiety and weight gain.

So, how can you support a healthy digestion?

There are tons of ways to do this through targeted supplementation, eating more of specific foods such as anything fermented (think sauerkraut, kombucha etc.), but today I want to focus on one very simple yet practical and very under estimated way you can start supporting your digestion TODAY!


Yep. That’s it.

Seems simple huh? Just chew your food! While this may seem like a simple thing to do, I can bet you that most people do not take nearly enough time to chew their food properly, including me most days. Ideally you should be chewing your food until it becomes a liquid in your mouth before you swallow. Depending on the food you are eating, this could take anywhere from 20-40 chews per bite. Here are a few reasons why we need to be intentional about slowing down at meals times and chewing our food well!

Digestion Starts in the Mouth

When we take the time to chew our food well, it allows time for the food in our mouth to mix with digestive enzyme rich saliva. Digestive enzymes are what help break down the foods that we eat into smaller pieces to eventually be absorbed through the intestines. For example, amylase is a specific digestive enzyme in the mouth that helps to break down starches (complex carbohydrates) into sugars which your body can more easily absorb. Saliva also contains lipase which helps break down fats.

Helps Calm Us Down

Focusing on chewing will naturally help you to slow down when eating and focus on the food you are eating rather than the million other things you may have to do or may be worried about. When we focus on slowing down and chewing our food, we naturally stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the ‘rest and digest’ system.

The opposite of this system is the sympathetic system, also known as the ‘fight or flight’ system. This is the system that kicks in whenever we experience ANY kind of fear, real or perceived. The goal of this system is to prepare us to handle whatever stress is at hand. One of the main ways it does this is by diverting our energy and blood flow to our outer extremities.  This is a GOOD thing, for example, if we are in the presence of a bear and need to run, or need to escape any kind of dangerous situation.

This is a BAD thing however when it comes to digestion. Digestion becomes far less important when our body perceives that is in danger. While blood flow is diverted to the extremities it is also diverted AWAY from our intestines and our digestion is negatively impacted, making it nearly impossible to properly break down and absorb the foods that are being eaten.

So while you may no be being chased by a bear or be in any kind of immediate danger most days when it comes time to eat, you still activate your sympathetic system under any kind of perceived fear as I mentioned before. This includes thinking about the never ending ‘to-do’ list full of urgent deadlines, running late, anxiety about being stuck in traffic, or even judging yourself for what you are putting in your mouth.

So, while it may take more than just chewing to help relax your mind and body before eating, this will help tremendously!! I think you will be surprised how much it will relax you to focus on this. It will naturally help you to slow down and breath instead of inhaling your food while your mind is already on to the next thing for the day.

So this week, and the weeks to come, I challenge you to slow down and CHEW your food. Your body and even your mind will thank you for the small increments of rest it allows you to have each day.



Power Smoothie Bowl

Last week I shared with you all my tips on how to manage holiday stress. One of my tips was to take care of yourself with good nutrition. To give you a practical way to do this during the holidays, I wanted to share with you all my favorite way to pack in a lot of nutrition in one simple meal or snack.

Introducing, the Power Smoothie Bowl.

smoothie bowl

Isn’t that pretty??

While smoothies are generally something I crave more in the warmer months of the year, it is by far, to me at least, the easiest way to pack in a LOT of nutrition when you you are either busy and need something quick OR just want to provide your body with as much good nutrition as you can before you indulge in some less healthier options that we all inevitably will choose to do over the holidays, at least a couple of times. I’m not so worried about the excess calorie consumption that may occur over the holidays at various meals and events but more about not giving my body enough essential nutrients that it needs to feel good, support my immune system, and have energy to enjoy the holidays! That’s why I love this Power Smoothie Bowl because it serves to kind of fill in the gaps on those days we choose to eat a meal that just doesn’t serve us so well nutritionally.

For all you busy mama’s out there with picky little ones, I have also been making these for lunch for my toddler and I as a way to sneak in some greens and other great things she doesn’t always eat. She loves to eat yogurt, so I figured if I served up her smoothie in a bowl she would be equally excited about eating it because she for some reason wasn’t always excited to drink her smoothie! It was a win and she loves them!

If you were wondering, these are the brands of yogurt we like to buy for Harper:

We prefer the unsweetened option in all of these brands and sweetening it ourselves with some raw honey and fresh berries. I have found all of these at health food stores like Whole Foods when out of town. The only one that is sold locally here in Paris is the So Delicious brand but they unfortunately don’t offer an unsweetened option. I have asked for them to carry it but they aren’t able to.

The ingredients below can be varied to your liking but this is my general outline for what I will put in it. Enjoy!

Power Smoothie Bowl

Ingredients for one serving:

Blend all together and top with granola!

**As a disclosure, I am an affiliate with Vital Proteins and so if you choose to order some for yourself I would greatly appreciate you ordering through my link provided in support of this blog. I do not ever recommend anything I have not used myself and believe in. Thanks in advance**

Happy Holidays!




Holiday Stress Management



Can you believe the holidays are already here?? Thanksgiving is next week and then Christmas will be here before we know it! While this is generally, for most people, a wonderful time of year, for many of us, it unfortunately is a time of year that brings an added source of stress on a number of levels.

But does it have to?

A lot of the stress we all may experience this time of year, I believe, is often self inflicted and can be avoided, or at least managed, by considering the following suggestions..

Learn To/Be Okay With Saying No

This is huge! There are so many activities and events and things to be participating in/helping out with this time of year. It is okay to say no to things that will just overwhelm you or you simply don’t have time for. No one has ever died because you said no to baking three dozen cookies for your child’s class Christmas party.

Let Go of Expectations You May Have To Do All of the Holiday Things

While many holiday traditions are wonderful, they are not always necessary, especially if they are adding unwanted stress to you during this season. Take some time before you enter into this season to reflect on how all of the things you want to do, or may have always done in the past tend to make you feel. For example..sending out Christmas cards, decorating the entire house with holiday decor, buying gifts for everyone, buying new outfits for your Christmas candlelight service, traveling, etc..

Do these things bring you stress or do you thoroughly enjoy getting to do them? None of these things are necessary to enjoy the holidays. The holidays will still go on if you happen to not get around to sending out Christmas cards this year of just can’t fit it in the budget.  My point here is to encourage you to not be boxed into this picture perfect ideal that you have of what the holidays should look like. Prioritize what is most important to you and brings you and your family/loved ones joy, not stress, and just let the rest go.

Delegate, Delegate, Delegate

It is okay to ask for help! Once you do, I think you will find most people are usually willing to, they just may not know you needed help until you asked. Make a list of all of the things you need to get done over the course of the holiday season and delegate what you can! Asking for help doesn’t mean that you are less of a person, it just means that you are human. We all need help from time to time and it is so freeing to be vulnerable and let others step in to do so.

Change Your Perspective

Most of the things we all stress over really are a blessing if we can just look at it through a different lens. Are you stressed over how many gifts you will have to buy this year and how much that will cost you? What a blessing it is that you have so many people in your life you love and have the opportunity to make feel special! Stressed about having to host a ton of people at your house with all the cleaning and cooking that it will require? What a gift it is that you have a place to gather with all of the people you love and are capable of providing them food and warm beds! Stressed about not having enough money to buy all the gifts you would like to for your kids and family this year? How beautiful is it that you have such a loving heart that desires to make your kids and family feel so loved and special! Your heart says so much more than things ever how can you get creative? Maybe you plan an experience or fun tradition that you all can do together this year instead that costs little to nothing. These are the things you and your family will cherish and remember much longer than any gift you could ever buy!

Take care of yourself

It is inevitable that you will most likely experience some stress over the holidays, so doing what you can to take care of yourself physically will go along way in reducing your stress load. If you have been following me for awhile now, you know that stress is ANY influence internal OR external that causes or leads to malfunction within the body. That means the unhealthy food you eat, lack of sleep you get, and lack of movement you do within each day will also be a source of stress on your body. So, pack in good nutrient dense meals when you can and be selective with meals/events you choose to indulge in. Don’t throw it all out the window for weeks on end, waiting for the new year as an excuse to eat clean again. You will feel so much better for doing so. Sleep and rest as much as you can. For some, this time of year may be the best time to catch up on sleep if you’re not working or have family members that can help watch kiddos while you catch a quick nap. A tired body is much more prone to feeling anxious and overwhelmed. Lastly, move more. Sign up for any holiday runs you can as something fun for the whole fam to do, get outside and walk if it’s nice, rake your leaves, or do some yoga. Whatever you feel good doing and were doing before the holidays, don’t stop! Exercising will not only give you energy and a clearer mind, but will help burn off some of the extra energy you may overconsume in food.

So there you have it! I hope these suggestions help you have a stress free and enjoyable holiday season!



Carrot Cake Breakfast Cookies



Cookies for breakfast??


These healthy breakfast cookies are brought to you by

While everyone I think likes the idea of cookies for breakfast, this recipe find was inspired more for the mama’s out there that need a delicious way to sneak some more veggies in to their littles diet.

I made these cookies with my almost 2 year old in mind. She eats some vegetables but it just depends on the day and mood that she is in if she will touch them so I like to find fun ways to sneak them in more regularly for when she’s just not feeling it. They also make for a great snack for nursing mama’s and anyone really.

These cookies pack in a whole 2 heaping cups of shredded carrots are gluten free and refined sugar free.

As a bonus, the post linked to this recipe has breakfast cookies made four other ways if you’re not a fan of carrots. These just happen to be the only ones I made from her post and they were a big hit in our home.


Best Healthy Breakfast Cookies

Collagen/Gelatin Samples + Pumpkin Spice Latte

A few weeks ago, I talked all about the health benefits of collagen and gelatin including my favorite product that helps me get more of it into my diet. If you missed that, make sure to go read that here.

To summarize, collagen and gelatin are extremely beneficial for improving the health of our hair, skin, nails, bones, joints and even the gut! In its most natural form, we can get both collagen and gelatin from homemade bone broth made with bones from healthy animals like these. However, making and having homemade bone broth on hand all the time is not realistically going to happen for most of us. It’s a nice idea, but unfortunately the reality is, most of us are too busy to take the time to one, source high quality bones to make the broth, and two, take the time to actually make it regularly. On top of that, if you aren’t a fan of just sipping on bone broth, you would need to be making soups regularly to benefit from the collagen and gelatin.

So, if you fall into this category of people that won’t realistically make homemade bone broth regularly, this is where Vital Proteins saves the day. It is one of the highest quality sources of collagen and gelatin in powder form, making it a convenient way to add it into your diet daily.

If you have been on the fence about trying out their products, I have good news for you! They recently came out with sampler packs giving you the option to try out all of their most popular products at a really affordable price before you decide to purchase more.

Stasher Sampler Bags _preview

My personal favorite products that I use almost daily include their collagen peptides and beef gelatin.

If you’re wondering what you would even use it in, I also have good news for you! I provided all my favorite ways to use both of these products in my previous post as well, so make sure to check that out. Since that last post however, I have discovered a new favorite fall drink that I will be adding my collagen peptides to through the whole winter/fall season. It is just SO good!! It is also paleo friendly, dairy free, and refined sugar free.

So, first, go purchase a sampler pack and then do yourself a favor and add the collagen peptides to the recipe below for an added nutritional boost.

You can thank me later.

Pumpkin Spice Latte from Against All Grain



My Favorite Safer Beauty Products Right Now



If you didn’t already know by now, what we put on our skin is just as important as what we put in our mouths. Our skin is one of our largest organs in the body and is capable of absorbing up to 60% of what we put on it. Not to mention, anything we put on our skin completely bypasses the gut and goes straight into our blood.

Companies within the US are allowed to use almost ANY ingredient they wish in their products. In fact, the US governent doesn’t review the safety of products before they are sold. Other countries are pushing much harder than we are to ban harmful chemicals and ingredients from going into our personal care products. To give you an idea, the European Union has spent the past two decades restricting or banning approximately 1400 of these ingredients. In Canada the number of restricted ingredients that go into personal care products is approximately 600.

You want to know how many ingredients are banned in personal care products in the US?

30. Yep. That’s it. 30.

This is horrible.

We need to demand much more care for what is put into the products we put on our skin and come into contact with almost daily! We can do this by first becoming more aware of this reality (educate yourselves) and then secondly by voting with our dollar. We need to start supporting and purchasing personal care products from companies that are intentional about what is being put in these products and in the end being put on our precious bodies.

So, in this post, I wanted to give you a place to start or at least a reference of some safer products. I am going to share with you all my personal favorite products that I use regularly when it comes to skin and hair care.

While this post is specific to external products I use, I first want to mention that healthy skin and hair start from within. A whole foods, anti-inflammatory diet will always be the best place to start when it comes to attaining glowing and healthy skin and hair. Your skin and hair can tell you a lot about how healthy you are from within.  One of my FAVORITE supplements I cannot recommend enough  to include within a whole food diet that is EXCELLENT for supporting healthy hair, skin and nails as well as the gut is Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides.

Vital Proteins Gelatin and Peptides

For the why’s behind why I LOVE this product you can read my full post on that over here. You can also shop this product over on my ‘Shop Page‘ anytime you want.

So, Enough About That..What Do I Use for My Personal Skin and Hair Care Products?

Facial Care

Coconut Sugar Scrub – This is an incredibly simple 2-3 ingredient DIY product that I make regularly that naturally exfoliates and moisturizes the skin. The coconut oil base also serves as a natural make-up remover. I aim to use this daily before I go to bed to rinse my make-up off. My skin feels so incredibly smooth after each time that I use this, it is unbelievable.


AnnMarie Multi-Purpose Foundation – I haven’t tried many natural make-up foundations, but I don’t really feel the need to after finding this wonderful product. I absolutely LOVE the way this product makes my skin feel and look. If you order through the link provided on this page you can get a special $25 off your first purchase of $75 or more. I’m telling you, this product is worth it. I personally use the honey shade which is meant for light to medium complexions, but they have a wide variety of other shades to choose from too for all skin tones. I also love that this product is made with zinc oxide which is a natural sun protectant for the skin.


You can use this product a variety of ways depending on the look you want including using it as a liquid foundation, matte finish or even as a bronzer/blush. There are simple instructions on how to use it the way you would like on their website under the specific product you are wishing to purchase.  I don’t think you will find it hard to spend $75 or more after browsing all their other wonderful skin care products that would pair well with this as well.

Pure Haven Tinted Moisturizer – This is a wonderful product I use that is great when you don’t want to put on a lot of make-up but still want a little bit of coverage. It acts as more as a moisturizer but has a little bit of color that helps to even out your skin tone. I love to use this product if I’m just going to the gym, hanging around the house, or running to the grocery store and straight back home. I use the beige color.

Dessert Essence 100% Pure JoJoBa Oil – This is the carrier oil that I use to make my AnnMarie Multi-Purpose Foundation into a liquid foundation. The foundation comes in a powder form and you will need to add a couple of drops of a good quality carrier oil to mix it with if you want a liquid foundation. You literally only need like 1-3 drops max. This stuff goes a long way! I also will use this oil plain by itself as a natural moisturizer to my face after I get out of the shower sometimes before I go to bed.

Pure Haven Cheeky Bronzer – This is a great product that I use when I want a little bit more of a glow on my cheeks.

DIY Powder – This is another incredibly simple DIY product that I make regularly as a nice finishing touch to go on top of my AnnMarie Multi-Purpose Foundation. Follow the direct link I have provided for the recipe. I didn’t use zinc oxide when I made mine because my foundation has it in there already.

Lip Color – I’m pretty low maintenance and don’t really use much lip color ever really. I have purchased this lip gloss from Pure Haven before and love the color, but most of the time just don’t feel like its me to have much color on. I typically just use a natural chapstick like the one made by Hancock Hill Farms to keep my lips moisturized and to give them a little shimmer.

Body Care

Body Wash – This is another simple DIY product that I make regularly. You can find this super easy 3-4 ingredient recipe on one of my old posts through the direct link provided. The post also has a recipe for hand soap that I use. There are plenty of safe body washes out there to purchase but I have opted to make my own for the money that it saves me.  I love that you can choose the scent you wish to have each time that you make it by simply swapping out your favorite essential oils.


Shampoo – I have tried DIY’ing shampoo and I gave up on that REAL fast. It just was NOT doing the job for me. Maybe you have had more luck with that, but every recipe I tried left my hair feeling super greasy and smelling like vinegar. This is a product I would much rather just purchase. I use the Pure Haven shampoo that you can purchase through the link provided. It does not make my hair feel greasy at all and I actually have noticed I don’t need to wash my hair nearly as often when using this shampoo.

Deoderant – This is another tricky one to discover what will work for you. You may have to shop around to find the perfect one for you. I personally have tried Schmidt’s Bergamot Lime scented deodorant in the past and it would give me a horrible rash. I finally decided to just chunk it. They do sell an unscented one that may have been less irritating but I haven’t tried it. You can buy this locally in Paris Texas at the Green Boutique if you would like to try it. I decided to go back to using Hancock Hill Farms aluminum free coconut oil deodorant and have never had any issues with it. It also keeps me smelling good too! You can purchase this product locally at the Farmer’s market when in season or order it online on their website. She sells lots of other wonderful natural personal care products as well!


Sunscreen – I used this badger sunscreen for my 22 month old and me all summer and loved it. It rubbed in well, didn’t leave us feeling greasy and got the job done at keeping us from burning. What I love most about this product on top of the fact that it is safe and free of hormone disruptors and other toxic chemicals is that it is AFFORDABLE!!


So, there you have it. 

Those are my favorite products right now that not only are safe but work! You may have noticed I didn’t provide options for every single product you may use on a daily basis when it comes to skin and hair care including mascara, eye shadow, eye liner, hair spray, mousse, etc. I am slowly making changes to safer personal care products and have started with products that cover more of my skin and I use most often. I don’t always put makeup on my eyes so I didn’t feel it necessary to start there, nor do I do my hair very often so swapping to a safer mousse/hair spray didn’t seem like the most practical place to start, though I do think it is important to eventually swap these products out for safer ones.

Don’t feel like you have to swap out everything all at once. Start with one product at a time. I will make sure to update this post as I include more natural products into my routine.

Of course, the products I have shared with you all are simply the ones I personally use and by no means an exhaustive list of all the wonderful safe products out there for you to use. If you want to know if the products you are using or may be considering using are safe or not, I recommend downloading the app Think Dirty. It is such a great resource to  educate yourself on what is in the products you are buying and how toxic/safe they are for you.

I hope this post has been helpful for you!! Let me know if you try and like any of these products as much as I do!


My Favorite Fall Soups/Chili

My Favorite Healthy Fall SoupsChili


As the weather is slowly cooling off and fall is settling in, all my favorite soup and chili recipes start making their appearances on our weekly meal plans.

If you’re like me, then you love a good soup recipe for a couple of reasons. Not only does it just put you in the fall/winter spirit to warm up to a delicious bowl of soup, but soup is also so easy to double or triple up on recipes to either freeze for later or make last multiple meals so that you aren’t cooking every single night.

Over the years I have tried multiple soup and chili recipes and below I am sharing with you the ones that have made it into our regular rotation because they are just SO good! I’m actually currently making most of these in bulk this week to store in our freezer to have handy once baby Eli James makes his grand debut in less than two weeks. All of these recipes are Paleo and Whole30.

Enjoy and let me know what you think you if you try any of these recipes!

Sweet Potato and Poblano Pepper Soup – We love eating this served with Emergency Meatballs by Stupid Easy Paleo and a simple mixed green salad on the side. You will also definitely want to garnish your soup with the cilantro and diced red onions that are optional in this recipe. It’s the perfect top off!

Pumpkin Soup with Apples and Spices – If you would like protein added to this, we love to pair this soup with Aidelles Chicken Apple Sausage links, sliced and sautéed until warm. We usually just dump them into the soup. We typically add a simple mixed green salad to this meal as well to get our greens in!

Paleo Tomato Basil and Beef Soup – This is a great stand alone meal since it already has the beef added in. I would recommend buying grass-fed beef. You could omit the beef if you would prefer too and it would still be delicious! If you tolerate grains and dairy well this would be delicious paired with a grilled cheese sandwich, especially if you ommitted the beef to fill you up a little bit more. I would recommend making your sandwich with some sprouted grain bread like Ezekiel bread and some raw cheddar or mozzarella cheese. My mouth is watering thinking about this right now!!

Zuppa Tuscana – (I can’t find the link to this original recipe so I have provided the recipe I use below for you)

  • 1-2 pounds grassfed ground beef
  • 1-2 teaspoons crushed red peppers
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 32 oz. or 4 cups broth
  • 1/2 cup full fat canned coconut milk
  • 3 large russet potatoes, thinly sliced or cut into large cubes (either works, just depends on the texture you would like in your soup.)
  • 1/2 bunch of organic kale, chopped (I typically just eyeball this and add a ton of kale. It most likely is way more than half a bunch by the end of me throwing it all in.)
  1. Saute beef with red pepper flakes over medium heat on the stove
  2. In a large pot, sauce the onion and garlic until soft and fragrant in some good quality fat (coconut oil, olive oil, etc.)
  3. Add in the broth to the large pot and bring to a boil.
  4. Once boiling, add in your cubed or thinly sliced potatoes and bring down to a simmer for about 30 minutes or until potatoes are soft and fall apart with a fork
  5. Lastly add in your cooked beef, chopped kale and coconut milk. Stir until kale wilts some and all is mixed in well.

Paleo Crockpot Chili – I love that this chili has so many crunchy vegetables added to it so it’s not all meat and beans like your typical chili. This is a hearty meal that the whole family will love!

I’m not kidding when I say we make these all the time! Having at least five “go-to’s” when it comes to soups/chili helps me to not get bored with eating the same ones over and over. I’ll make each of these most likely once a month throughout the fall/winter. If I find any other great recipes I will try and remember to come back and update this post and add them to share with you all!





Natural Cold/Flu Remedy: Elderberry Syrup



In preparation for the arrival of our second child, Eli James, in just a couple of weeks..still can’t believe it..I have had it on my “to-do” list to stock our natural medicine cabinet to help keep our growing little family healthy throughout the winter months.

On my list of things to make was elderberry syrup for its wonderful health benefits I will talk about here in a second.

I honestly wasn’t sure if I was going to get around to making this before Eli made his grand debut, but after visiting our local farmer’s market this past weekend I no longer have to worry about that because Booth’s Brew has started selling elderberry concentrate (slightly different than elderberry syrup..more on that later also) along with his incredible kombucha!! If you haven’t tried his kombucha, you are seriously missing out. You can read more on the benefits of kombucha here and here.

Anyways, as far as the elderberry concentrate goes, I was so excited because not only will this save me time from having to make my own, but I get to support local business! Win win! When I purchased this, the owner of the business told me that he planned on continuing to sell his products throughout the winter months even after the farmer’s market dies down and no other vendors are setting up anymore. He plans on setting up at the farmer’s market as more of a ‘drive-by, pick-up’ set up on the side of the road. Not sure how that will look, but just make sure to follow their Facebook page to stay updated on when he will be there and what he will be selling.

What exactly is an elderberry?

Elderberries are small, dark berries that grow in clusters on elder trees/elderberry bushes.



They are very common throughout Europe and North America. There are many types of elderberry tree, however Sambucus nigra is the species used historically as a medicinal plant. For centuries the fruits from this tree were prepared by early settlers in Europe and North America into a black elderberry syrup to be used as a remedy for fevers associated with the cold/flu.

The berries like to grow in the moist soil along roadsides and can be easily identified when the berries are fully ripened and in their purple clusters usually at the end of the summer and early fall. The trees they grow on would look something like this..



If you don’t live near any elderberry trees (which I do not) and wish to get ahold of some elderberries, you can always just order some off of amazon too, like these. It’s good to be alive in America today. If I ever make my own one day, that is what I will do. If you do purchase or pick your own berries, just make sure to not consume these berries raw as they are not safe for consumption. You also will not want to consume the berries if they are red! The berries need to be cooked before becoming safe for consumption!!

What are the health benefits of elderberry?

Multiple clinical trials have been published on the ability of elderberry to shorten the length of time we suffer from cold or flu symptoms, including this study published in 2016.

Three specific ways that elderberry boosts our immune system and thus helps fight off the cold/flu include the following:

1.Regulates and Increases cytokines activity in our immune system

Cytokines are a large group of small proteins within the body that play a major role in our bodies immune system. When our body is infected with a virus like the flu, cytokines are the messengers that will send a signal out to other parts of the body that we are under attack. When released by our white blood cells, they tell the next defense mechanisms in line where to go and what exactly to do. Once the message has been delivered effectively, our immune system will go to work to attack any possible threat within the body.

One particular study published in 2001 showed that elderberry initiated a significant increase in the inflammatory cytokines (IL-1, IL-6, IL-8, and TNF-a), most notably the cytokine TNF-a.

All of these cytokines cause inflammation or swelling within the body. When our bodies are under attack by a virus or illness, inflammation is a GOOD thing. It is our bodies natural defense force that is fighting the possible threat.

In conclusion, this particular study showed that elderberry may be very beneficial at activating our healthy immune system.

2. Are an excellent source of antioxidants

The black elderberry plant contains many small molecules known as flavonoids which display high antioxidant activity. Antioxidants are known for their protection within the body against free radicals that can damage human cells.

Flavonoids also help fend of pathogens and allergens.

3. Display natural anti-viral activity

While further work is still necessary to prove these theories accurate, early stage experiments are demonstrating that certain chemicals within the black elderberry can actually block infection by directly inhibiting viral activity. One particular study published in 2009, suggests that it can do this by somehow staining and coating the exterior of the virus, rendering the virus non-functional. In particular it can do this with both the influenza A and B virus as well as the herpes simplex virus-143.

What’s the difference between elderberry concentrate and elderberry syrup?

So now that you know all the reasons you should consider adding elderberry to your natural medicine cabinet, let’s talk about the difference between the concentrate I bought at the farmer’s market vs. an elderberry syrup.

The only real difference between the two is that elderberry syrup has a natural sweetener like raw unfiltered honey added to it as a preservative so that it will last much longer without spoiling. The additional benefit to adding a sweetener like raw unfiltered honey is that it has its own natural anti-viral properties as well and it makes it taste much sweeter and less like medicine which can be a win for parents trying to get little’s to take it!

If no sweetener is added, the concentrate will not last as long at all. It will last anywhere from 3 days in the fridge to a week or two max. You should be able to tell if it has gone bad by the smell and taste. It would be more sour. You don’t want to consume the concentrate if it has gone bad. The sweetener will allow you to store your elderberry syrup in the fridge for about 3 months.

How to make Booth’s Brew Elderberry Concentrate into a Syrup?

Note: If adding honey, this recipe should not be consumed in children under the age of one!

If you are going to buy the concentrate that has already been made for you by Booth’s Brew, all you will need to do is pour your concentrate into a small pot on the stove and bring to a low simmer. In order to preserve the health benefits in the honey, you want to make sure to not overheat it. Once the concentrate is warm, stir in a 1:1 ratio of honey to the concentrate until combined will. So, if you have 1 cup of concentrate, you will want to add 1 cup of raw unfiltered honey. Once they are combined well, pour back into your glass jar and store in the fridge for up to 3 months.

What is the proper dosing?

Conveniently, Booth’s Brew provides a nifty little laminated card upon purchase that has the proper dosing instructions on it. You can see this in the picture at the top of this post. You will want to make sure to keep this handy in case you forget!

The dosing for prevention and daily immune support is the following:

  • Adults: 1 Tablespoon daily. You can take it straight up or I like to add mine to a nice warm cup of tea.
  • Children: 1/2 tsp-1 tsp. daily

If you end up coming down with an illness it is recommended to simply increase the frequency of taking it:

  • Adults: 1 Tablespoon every 3 hours until symptoms go away
  • Children: 1/2 tsp.-1 tsp. every 3 hours until symptoms go away


Recipes to follow if you prefer to just make your own:

While I encourage supporting local business if you can, I understand not everyone will be able to make it out to the farmer’s market to purchase some of Booth’s Brew’s elderberry concentrate. If you would prefer to just make your own, I have provided what looks like good recipe resources below to do so. There are also good quality elderberry syrup’s sold at most health food stores you could just purchase. They just tend to be much pricier.


Hope this helps keep you and your family healthy through the cold winter months! 



All About Collagen and Gelatin + My Favorite Way To Get More Into My Diet

If you follow me on social media, you most likely see me post every now and then about my favorite collagen and gelatin supplements sold by Vital Proteins.


Vital Proteins Gelatin and Peptides


I get asked questions about these products quite frequently and social media just isn’t the space to answer ALL the questions, so I finally am getting around to making a post that will explain a little bit more about what both of these products are exactly, why I personally have chosen to add it in to my and my families regular nutrition plan (including my toddler), and how I like to use it on a regular basis.

If after reading this post you decide you would like to try either of these products or try any of Vital Proteins other wonderful products, I would GREATLY appreciate you ordering through my affiliate links provided on this page. I do get a small commission for every purchase made through my personal links which supports my efforts of sharing this FREE information with you all on this blog. And for the record, I only share with you all products that I personally use myself and 100% believe in and think you may benefit from as well. Thanks in advance!!

What is Collagen?

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body. It ensures the cohesion, elasticity and regeneration of all of our connective tissues including our skin, tendons, ligaments, cartilage and even our bones. It also helps provide structure to our hair and nails.

To have a better idea of the role collagen plays in the various different parts of the body I’ve broken it down for you below:

  • Skin: Approximately 70% collagen
  • Ligaments: Approximately 70% collagen
  • Tendons: Approximately 85% collagen
  • Joint Cartilage: Approximately 70% collagen
  • Bones: Approximately 90% collagen

As we age, we naturally start to produce less and less collagen. This process of producing less collagen starts around the age of 30 and will accelerate as we head into our 40’s. As collagen levels naturally begin to decline, unless we choose to supplement or increase the amount of foods in our diet that contain high amounts of collagen, like homemade bone broth, signs of aging will inevitably begin to set in. Certain signs of declining collagen levels within the body may include dehydrated/thinner skin, wrinkles, brittle nails, fragile and more breakable bones, joint discomfort and hair loss. Supplementing or increasing your intake of collagen through other whole food options thus may help support your body’s overall levels and may slow the signs of aging.

Collagen specifically contains 18 amino acids, including 8 out of 9 essential amino acids. It is characterized by the predominance of the amino acids glycine proline and hydroxyproline. The amount of glycine and proline in collagen is specifically 10-20% higher than in any other proteins, both of which are important for a number of things including protecting/healing your gut and stomach lining, preventing ulcers and GERD, supporting digestion, and promoting a better night’s sleep.

How Do I Get More Collagen in My Diet?

The most natural way to get more collagen in your diet would be to make your own home made bone broth from responsibly sourced bones, like these. When bones from healthy and responsibly raised animals are slow cooked in filtered water, the collagen from these bones is released into the broth and is freed up for consumption. Below is a great recipes to follow to make your own collagen rich broth.

You could use homemade broth as the base to any of your favorite homemade soups or just drink it straight out of the mug in replace of your morning coffee or tea.

If making your own broth doesn’t sound very practical or like something you will realistically do, then supplementing with a high quality collagen protein would be the next best option in my opinion. My personal favorite collagen supplement is Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides. It is very high quality and the collagen comes from the bones of grass-fed, pasture raised cows. Don’t worry though, while most of their products are sourced from grass-fed cows, if you are a vegetarian they did not forget about you!! They also have a Marine Collagen Protein powder that is made from the bones of wild-caught snapper fish.

Vital Proteins Marine Collagen 2


Most of their new flavored beauty waters also include marine collagen. I have not personally tried these but they look delicious if you want to spice up your water game!!! Flavors include lavender lemon, melon mintcucumber aloe. and strawberry lemon. Strawberry lemon flavor was the only one I did not see was sourced from Marine Collagen.

Vital Proteins Beauty Waters 1

What’s the Difference Between Collagen Peptides and Gelatin?

I mentioned earlier that my other favorite product sold by Vital Proteins is their beef gelatin. So, what exactly is the difference between the Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides and Vital Proteins Beef Gelatin? Well, as far as health benefits go, really not that much!  The amino acid profile is EXACTLY the same! Collagen peptides just has the proteins in smaller pieces because of the more intensive processing that it goes through. Because the proteins are broken down into much smaller pieces in collagen peptides, this product does tend to be much easier to digest for some people than gelatin.

Both products are sourced from the bones of healthy, sustainably raised animals.

The main difference is simply their chemical properties.

Collagen Peptides dissolves in both hot AND cold water, making it easy to add to pretty much anything you would like (hot tea, water, coffee, soups, oatmeal, yogurt, smoothies etc.)

Gelatin dissolves ONLY in hot water. When it is placed in cold liquids, it causes the liquid to gel. For this reason you would use this product for different culinary purposes. Think homemade jello, pudding, gummy snacks, popsicles, etc.

Why Do I Use Vital Proteins Products?

Well, for the numerous health benefits I mentioned above that both of these products provide, I have chosen to use this fabulous product almost daily!

A couple of things I have personally noticed since I began regularly using their collagen peptides and gelatin..

  • much stronger nails that grow so quickly!!
  • clearer skin
  • better digestion
  • a reduction in hair loss, especially after having a baby

I used both of these products all throughout both of my pregnancies and nursing. Of course, always check with your doctor before beginning any new supplement, especially when pregnant, but this is very safe and may benefit not just you but your baby as well!

As for my little girl (who is currently 21 months), I use both of these products in her foods as an easy way to sneak in high quality, very easy to digest protein into her diet. This is especially nice when kids are picky.

By the way, both the collagen peptides and beef gelatin products have no flavor which makes it that much easier to sneak in for little ones and convenient to add to pretty much anything you would like also without compromising flavor.

Favorite Ways I Use Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides

  • Mix 1-2 scoops in to hot herbal tea in the morning
  • Add 1-2 scoops into a smoothie
  • Mix 1-2 scoops into oatmeal (Harper LOVES oatmeal, so I typically add 1/2 -1 scoop to hers to balance out this meal that is naturally much higher in carbohydrates.)
  • Mix 1-2 scoops into a glass of unsweetened almond milk

Favorite Recipes I Use Vital Proteins Beef Gelatin In

  • Homemade Fruit Snacks (Wellness Mama) – This is a great snack to have on hand for little ones! Harper LOVES these. I love that I know what’s in it and it is free of high fructose corn syrup, food dyes and any other artificial ingredients.
  • Dairy-Free Fudge Pops (Against All Grain) – This is another great snack for little ones, but adults will love this one just as much!! I made these all the time over the hot summer months for Harper and she could not get enough of them. This recipe doubles as an incredible chocolate pudding recipe also. Just put the ingredients in the fridge in a bowl and let sit until gelled instead of pouring it into popsicle molds. You could eat it straight out of the bowl or it would make a great dip for fresh fruit!

I hope this helps if you have been considering trying out their products!! I highly recommend them.

I haven’t tried all of their products, but they have a TON of great stuff. I personally like the two products I discussed and provided links to in this post because they are unflavored, which makes it easy to add to anything, but they have a lot of great flavor options if you prefer that as well. Some other flavor options for the collagen peptides include vanilla and dark chocolate and blackberry. Would love to hear from you if you try anything else to let me know what you think!

Shop All Vital Proteins Products Here

Vital Proteins Collection 1






Do you have a Passion for Helping Others and Natural Healthy Living?

Do you have a natural passion for helping people?

Do you also have a passion for natural healthy living?

Is your viewpoint more towards natural solutions rather than drugs and surgery?

If so, then I would invite you to consider the Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Course.



This is the certification course that I personally went through to be able to further help not only my clients but my family as well.

I currently run a very part time practice and am able to only help a few people at a time however, I have people asking me all the time if I can help them and I have to turn them away or put them on a waiting list! Trust me, the need is there for more holistically minded health care providers and you would have an opportunity to help change people’s lives drastically if you went through this course.

Even if I chose to not make any profit off of the education I received and decided to never start my own practice, I would do this course over again in a heartbeat! I learned SO much valuable information in this course that gave me the confidence to better take care of not only my clients but myself and my family as well for the rest of our lives. In other words, even if you just have a desire to learn more and work on your own health as well as your families, this course is for you!

I not only am more confident in coaching my clients on the foundations of building health through customized nutrition, rest and good quality sleep, appropriate exercise, and managing stress, but I also now have a professional relationship with  well respected functional lab companies that allow me to order test kits for myself and my clients. These tests are a key part in my coaching and allow us to stop guessing and get to the root of main health complaints.

The three main labs that I currently run with my clients include Oxford Biomedical Technologies MRT (food sensitivity test), Precision Analytical DUTCH test (a complete hormone panel), and Diagnostic Solutions GI-MAP (a comprehensive stool panel that tests for multiple parasites within the gut and other important gut immune markers). The FDN course has allowed me to not only have access to these incredible labs, but has also trained me in accurately interpreting and putting together customized protocols for myself and my clients based off of lab test results.

I absolutely LOVE what I get to do! Below are a couple of testimonials from my most recent clients.

“This has changed my life! I have been suffering from stomach cramps and blood sugar issues for years, and recently was diagnosed with osteoarthritis. I was in severe pain, on several medications, and unable to do my normal every day activities. After working with Erin, I am taking one medication, have no stomach pain, and experiencing occasional mild arthritis pain! I am amazed at how food affects inflammation in the body! She makes eating healthy a breeze with her delicious recipes and grocery lists! Thank you for showing me a whole new way of living! I’m able to live life again! ”   -Angie Duren

“I recently had the pleasure of working with Erin Finch at Holistically Fed. I had been struggling for quite some time with numerous health issues and symptoms. I had been trying to eat healthier and reading as much information as I could about clean eating and many other different plans to sustain a healthy diet and lifestyle yet as I incorporated much of this information into my daily routine I still struggled with symptoms.

A friend had told me about Erin’s website and blog. After speaking with Erin, we agreed that the one on one coaching and the food sensitivity testing would be something that I could benefit from.

It was amazing to see the lab results and realize many healthy foods I consumed on a regular basis were actually foods I was sensitive to. The one on one coaching that Erin provides is amazing. She was able to use the lab results and create a custom eating plan for me that removed all the items I was sensitive to and created a shopping list based on this as well. Erin has a gift for teaching and helping you to succeed in this new lifestyle. Each week we worked on a different area so that I was not overwhelmed by incorporating everything at once. We had weekly calls and discussed how the week was and reviewed items I had been working on before moving on to a new area. She also would send recipes that fit into the specific plan for me. Erin has a heart for health and nutrition and she celebrates the successes with you. Our focus was to help me relieve my symptoms and gain health and energy. We succeeded. Each day I logged my symptoms and it was such a wonderful feeling to wake up one day and realize I actually had no symptoms!

I am so thankful for the information Erin has shared with me and the things she has taught me during our time together. I highly recommend her and the services she provides and look forward to working with her in the future as I continue to seek a healthy lifestyle for myself and my family.”  -Jennifer Blount 

“When I became a client of Erin’s, I thought I was dealing with a suppressed immune system. Well, on the plan Erin developed for me, my gut issues were straightened out, my sinus infections went away, my young children weren’t able to share their illnesses and germs with me, and I lost a healthy amount of weight in a healthy time period.

Unfortunately, as time went on, Erin being a good diagnostic nutrionist, encouraged me to continue seeking answers for things that weren’t normal. At time of writing I’m now in a wheel chair most of the time and am undiagnosed but according to the Mayo Clinic in the realm of some motor neuron disease. When the doctor met with me last time, he told me if I was not as healthy as I was, I would find myself in a much worse condition. I knew that but it was reaffirming to hear the impact Erin’s plan has had on me. If you are thinking about becoming Erin’s client, don’t hesitate, do it now! Even though I’m dealing with a weird progressive neurological condition, so many aspects are much better than before and I’m thankful for Erin’s help.” -Wade Pierce

If you have any desire at all to learn more, please feel free to call me at 940-224-9833 or email me at and I would love to discuss more with you about the course.

You can also go and visit the functional diagnostic nutrition course website to learn more as well as register for the course.

The public is crying out for healthcare providers to help them with the cause of their health problems! We need more and you could be one of them!


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