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Chocolate Chip Banana Nut Muffins

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As a nursing mama, I love to have something quick and healthy to grab first thing when I wake up in the morning.

Having something to grab first thing in the morning after that early morning feeding holds me over until I have time to make a bigger breakfast for both my toddler and I when she wakes up a couple hours later.

While that something quick doesn’t necessarily have to be in the form of a muffin, it definitely makes the early hours a little bit more bearable knowing I have a delicious muffin waiting for me after little man is done eating. I am usually STARVING right after that.

Even if you aren’t nursing, these muffins are great for anyone needing a quick grab and go breakfast or would make a great snack. They are gluten free, dairy free and paleo friendly! If you have any nut allergies, these muffins would be good without the nuts as well.

I adapted an original recipe from Elana’s Pantry just slightly to create a healthy version of my all time favorite muffin/bread recipe combo, chocolate chip and banana’s.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Banana Nut Muffins

Makes approximately 8 muffins

Ingredients:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 2 medium bananas
  • 3 dates, pitted and soaked in warm water until soft and mushy
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
  • 1/2 cup Enjoy Life Dairy Free chocolate chips (If you’re a local to the Paris area, you can find these at Kroger and also at the Wellness Center of Paris)

Directions:

  1. Place eggs, oil, bananas, dates and sugar in a medium bowl. Blend with whisk until combined well.
  2. Add in coconut flour, salt and baking soda and blend until smooth
  3. Fold in walnuts and chocolate chips
  4. Scoop batter into greased or lined muffin tins
  5. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes
  6. Cool and serve!

 

My Go To Natural Remedies When Common Cold/Flu Symptoms Strike

As sickness seems to continue to be passed around this time of year, I wanted to write a post to share with you all my ‘Go-To’ natural remedies when common cold and flu symptoms strike.

The remedies that I will be sharing with you are most likely things you have right in your kitchen already, and if not, most of them are simple ingredients you can grab at your local grocery store.

There are a lot of natural remedies in the form of expensive supplements. Many of these are also very beneficial in helping the body fight off illness, but I have found that it is nice to have a more affordable option that is easily accessible if you don’t have the time to order supplements online and wait for them to be delivered, or you don’t have access to good quality supplements locally.

At the end of this post, I will also be sharing with you a few other  things that I do on a regular basis to boost my immune system and help prevent illness.

My top 3 ‘Go-To’ Natural Remedies When Common Cold/Flu Symptoms Strike

Raw Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar

Quite frankly there’s not much I have discovered that apple cider vinegar does not help with. This is something that would be beneficial to drink daily for immune and general wellness support. When it comes to illness however, it specifically is beneficial for the fact that it has natural antiviral, anti fungal and antibacterial properties. I’ve written a few posts on this in the past you can check out here and here. It’s important that you purchase raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar with the mother. Buying regular filtered apple cider vinegar will not have the same healing properties. Bragg’s is a good brand I recommend.

For daily support: take 1 tsp. up to 1 T. straight (preferably with something to chase it with as it does give a strong punch to the throat), diluted in water or mixed into any of your other favorite beverages.

When sickness strikes:  take 1 tsp. up to 1 T. every 3-4 hours until symptoms improve.

Garlic and Raw Unfiltered Honey

I heard about this remedy listening to a podcast (unfortunately I don’t remember which one to give credit to) a long time ago and added it into my regimen when sickness strikes ever since.

Garlic, like apple cider vinegar, also has powerful antimicrobial, antiviral and antibiotic properties. It also is a good source of vitamin C, and important immune boosting minerals such as sulphur and selenium.

How to use garlic for cold/flu symptoms: Take one whole garlic clove and crush it either with the back of a spoon or a garlic press. This step is important before you consume it because of the chemical reaction that takes place. When garlic is crushed, it releases a powerful antibacterial called allicin. Allicin is present only shortly after it is crushed and before the garlic is heated, which means you will need to eat the clove raw! When you eat it in its raw state like this, it will really help knock out the terrible symptoms associated with the onset of any common cold or flu.

Don’t think you can handle chewing on a raw piece of garlic? That’s where raw honey comes in. While this really is meant to serve as a carrier to make this a more palatable way to get the garlic down, raw unfiltered honey also has its own immune boosting properties as well. Just like everything else I’ve already mentioned it also has natural antibacterial, anti fungal and antioxidant properties! So you’re body is getting a mega dose of all of these when taken in combination from real whole food sources.

Just pour enough honey to coat the piece of garlic and then consume.

Recommendation: take 1 crushed garlic clove every 3-4 hours until symptoms improve.

Elderberry Syrup

This is probably my favorite of the three, but is one that unfortunately you may not be able to find at your local grocery store. It definitely tastes the best which makes it easier to get kiddos to take too if they are sick.  This is another great one to take as a daily immune support throughout the winter months.

I wrote a post all about elderberry as a natural cold/flu remedy awhile back so I won’t go into all the details of the benefits in this post, but you can go read it here!

I personally buy elderberry concentrate from Booth’s Brew and make it into a syrup myself. In my post on elderberry I also talk about why it  may be more beneficial for you to turn it into a syrup if you buy it as a concentrate.

 

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Daily support: take 1 tsp. – 1 T. daily

When sickness strikes: take 1 tsp. – 1 T. every 3-4 hours until symptoms improve.

I personally choose to do all three of these things when cold/flu symptoms hit me, but you don’t necessarily have to. Choosing to do just one of these will also most likely serve you well.

Other Ways to Support Your Immune System

While its nice to have some ‘Go-To’ natural remedies when illness strikes, the best thing you can do for yourself is to take care of your body on a DAILY basis. Yes, of course, we inevitably all get sick from time to time, but preventative medicine is always the best medicine.

Ways to do this include adhering to an anti-inflammatory diet that is right for YOUR body rich in plenty of nutrient dense whole foods. The stars of your plate should include LOTS of colorful vegetables, ample amounts of good quality protein from grassfed, pastured and wild caught sources, good quality fats from oils and fruit like avocado, some fruit and some nuts and seeds and, if tolerated well, it is ok to include some gluten free grains like quinoa rice or buckwheat , legumes and dairy from grass-fed or raw sources you trust, for variety in your diet.

Nutrition should lay the foundation for good health, but don’t ever underestimate the power and necessity of also getting good quality sleep, appropriate exercise and managing stress. These should also be prioritized alongside nutrition.

Gut Support

Approximately 80% of our immune system lies within our gut. This means that prioritizing gut health is HUGE when it comes to staying health, preventing illness and feeling our best. The following three things I have listed below all support a healthy gut and are things I try to consume on a regular basis.

Bone Broth: specific gut healing properties include collagen and gelatin. A good article to read more on the benefits can be found here. Broth can be sipped on straight up or added to homemade soups and stews. When making your own broth, sourcing the bones from healthy pastured, grass-fed or wild caught animals is important. I make my own bone broth using bones sold from Slanker’s. They our local to our area but also ship all over the US!

 

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Here is a good recipe to follow to make your own bone broth

Vital Proteins Products: I personally love their collagen peptides and gelatin. You can read more on the benefits of their products and why I love them here. These products are great for convenience if you most likely will not make bone broth on a regular basis.

Vital Proteins Gelatin and Peptides

Probiotics: Making sure our gut is colonized with plenty of good bacteria is vital to the health of our gut and overall immunity.

I personally take MegaSpore Biotic. This can only be ordered through practitioners like myself. If you would like to purchase a bottle, you can contact me through my contact page on my website.

To read more on the benefits of this specific product you can go visit their website here. If probiotics aren’t in the budget to buy regularly, or you just aren’t good about taking supplements, my next best recommendation would be to drink kombucha on a regular basis. This is a naturally fermented probiotic rich carbonated beverage. I’ve also written a couple of old posts on kombucha as well you can read here and here. Most local grocery stores sell it now, but I personally recommend buying it from Booth’s Brew if you are local to the Paris Texas or Dennison area. SO GOOD and such unique flavors you won’t find in any grocery store!!

So there you have it! Those are just a few things that I personally do to support my own health and my family’s. That was kind of a lot of info, but I hope it was helpful to you!

 

 

Red Velvet Cake Truffles

Last week I shared with you all a delicious Red Beet Juice that would be fun to enjoy on Valentine’s Day, but I also promised I would be sharing with you all something a little sweeter this week that you could enjoy on Valentine’s Day, so I am keeping that promise.

The star of this recipe is once again, BEETS! Surprise surprise. It’s strong natural red color is what takes the place of artificial red colors and dyes to make these into a healthy nutrient dense red cake ball. They are also gluten free, grain free and have the option to also be dairy free.

If cake balls and beets don’t sound like a good combo to you, TRUST ME, you will be so surprised at how good these are!!! I have taken these to multiple parties and made them for family members that had no clue these were a healthy version of cake balls until I told them what was in them.

Another fun fact about these cake balls..It has been tradition every year for my husband’s birthday that I make him red velvet cake balls (his absolute favorite..and not the healthy kind). This year, he actually requested that I make this version instead!

So, I’m going to go ahead and just stop right now trying to tell you how good these are and just give you the recipe.

Enjoy, complements of Planks Love and Guacamole Blog! She nailed it on this recipe.

 

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Valentine’s Day Juice

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner!

If in the spirit of this fun holiday you like to make and eat all things red, I have a few recipes coming your way, starting with this healthy red juice today. It’s pretty common to get caught up in  consuming lots of junk full of artificial colors and dyes for the sake of tradition this time of year, but nature provides lots of nutrient dense and antioxidant rich red foods that can make Valentine’s Day just as fun and delicious if you get creative.

This juice recipe would be great served in wine glasses if you want to make it fancy paired with a home cooked dinner with your loved one, or as a morning juice with breakfast for little ones to celebrate Valentine’s Day!

This recipe was inspired by the leftover beets we had from a fun little Valentine’s Day dessert recipe I’ll be sharing with you next week, so stay tuned!

 

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This recipe is super simple with only two ingredients, however this recipe can be adjusted to add other vegetables and fruits that you would like. We only used these two ingredients because it was what we had in our fridge that we wanted to get rid of before they went bad.

This recipe will make approximately 6 cups of fresh juice or 48 oz.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large beets
  • 6 large oranges, peeled

That’s it!!

If you would like to adjust this recipe to add in more variety of nutrients, I would suggest adding a couple of large carrots, some red apples, or strawberries to keep it Valentine’s Day themed with the red color. While there are lots of other wonderful things you could add to the juice for nutrient density, I was going for a red color here for holiday sake. Adding any greens would change that.

You of course will need a juicer for this recipe. If you have one, just throw all the ingredients in and then store the fresh juice in a glass container in the fridge or consume immediately!

Nutritional Highlights:

Fresh Beet Juice

  • high in vitamin C, B6, folate, manganese, and potassium
  • has powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxification properties
  • helps lower blood pressure
  • helps improve digestion
  • boosts energy
  • known to also boost libido due to to its rich source of boron, directly linked to the production of sex hormones (another reason this may be a good Valentine’s Day Juice if you are married 😉 )

Fresh Orange Juice

  • Also high in vitamin C, making this a great immune boosting drink as well!
  • Rich in free radical fighting antioxidants
  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • Improves blood circulation and creation of red blood cells

A Few Tips and Recommendations on Juicing:

  • Don’t over do it. My recommendation for juicing is to use it as a supplementation to a well balanced, anti-inflammatory, nutrient dense, whole foods diet. I don’t personally recommend juicing as a meal replacement for various reasons I won’t go into in this post.
    • I have personally found juicing to be a great way to ensure my toddler gets a wide variety/plenty of essential vitamins and minerals in her diet throughout the week when I can’t always guarantee she will eat her vegetables. While this recipe is fruit heavy for holiday sake, I normally would recommend more vegetables be added in. What kid doesn’t love juice??
  • If choosing to juice with fresh fruits as the main ingredients, like this recipe, it is wise to dilute fruit sugars by adding approximately 35% water when consuming it, or make sure to drink it along side a meal with a good source of protein and fat to help prevent such a quick spike in blood sugar.
  • When vitamins and minerals are extracted from the whole food they become very sensitive to oxidation and begin to lose nutrient value within minutes. It is best to make it fresh in the morning and drink it throughout the day. If this is not possible, store it in an air-tight glass jar leaving little room at the top to prevent oxidation and consume it as soon as possible for best nutrient value.

Happy Juicing!

 

Kale Vs. Cow – The Case for Better Meat

Meat, specifically red meat, has been unfairly demonized for a long time as a contributor to poor health.

Whether you fall into the camp of people that agree with this or not for various reasons, I think it is only fair and wise that everyone make a decision for their own personal nutrition choices AFTER hearing and researching both sides of the story.

Recently, we are seeing so many more films and documentaries that are only showing one side of the story. For example, said films and documentaries paint the picture that all animals are raised in concentrated buildings, with concentrated lights, and that all meats are grown in labs etc..when this is not true at all.

The most recent documentary that has gotten a lot of press for this approach was “What The Health”. Feel free to go watch it for yourself, but again, do your research and be open to hearing both sides of the story.

If you are open to hearing the other side of the story (because I know not everyone is and that’s ok), I am excited to let you in on a very exciting project that Diana Rodgers, Registered Dietitian and founder of Sustainable Dish has embarked upon.

For the past 15 years, Diana Rodgers has lived and worked on an organic farm raising vegetables and pasture-based animals. After curing herself of Celiac Disease and a blood sugar roller coaster through an ancestral based diet back in 2010, she made it her life’s mission to help others through diet and lifestyle change. She has written two best selling books and built a successful clinical practice for herself, but she wants to do more…something BIG!

She is currently busy working on a film called ‘Kale Vs. Cow – The Case for Better Meat’. This film aims to give an accurate picture of the other side of the story that has been demonized for far too long.

 

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To learn more about this film and watch a short video on what the film will be about, you can  follow this link.

This is a message that needs to get out, but the only way that it will get out is if she is able to raise enough money to put the whole film together.

This is where you come in!! If this is a topic you are passionate about or just want to learn more about to make more educated decisions about your food choices, please consider donating towards this project. The link I provided above will also provide you with the option to donate if you wish to do so.

To hear more of Diana Rodgers heart behind the film, you can go listen to this recent interview she did with Liz Wolf on the Balanced Bites Podcast.

Here are a few quotes that stood out to me in this interview:
“At the end of the day I’m not saying kale is bad and cows are good, I’m saying we need both. We need plants and animals to have a healthy system moving forward. It’s just completely unsustainable to completely remove plants and vice versa.” -Diana Rodgers

“We’re seeing whole cultures collapse from diabetes and it’s not because they’re eating more meat..This (the message that she is trying to get out through this film) effects food policy, this effects snap, this effects school lunches, this effects the dietary guidelines. This whole anti-meat idea seems really innocent and it’s really not, because it’s avoiding the whole argument out there, or the elephant in the room which is processed foods.” -Diana Rodgers

I personally am really excited for this film to come out and can’t wait to watch it hopefully in the near future! Please share this with anyone else you think may be interested in getting this message out as well.

In the meantime, while we wait for it to be put together, did you know we have an incredible grass-fed meat farm located in Powderly, Texas?

Well, we do! Slanker’s Grass-Fed Meats.

 

 

Go check them out! They deliver locally and also ship all over the US. They sell a wide variety of high quality meats and provide a library of educational articles on their website as well if you wish to begin reading more on the benefits of grass-fed meats. If you have never ordered from them before, make sure to let them know that Erin Finch referred you and you will get $5 off your first order. You will only get the $5 off if you call in your order and personally tell them over the phone I referred you! Otherwise, I would greatly appreciate you ordering through the link above as I am an affiliate with them and do get a small commission for every order placed through my link.

Until next week. Best in Health.

 

Yoga for Stress Reduction and the Busy Mom

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Constant stress can have extremely damaging health effects. In fact, it is the foundation for nearly all disease. I wrote a post about this awhile back that you can read here.

In this post I discussed the many ways in which our bodies experience stress and how regardless of the source of stress be it, emotional, poor sleep, inflammatory foods, and even excess or high intensity exercise, etc., our body responds the exact same way in an effort to handle the stress at hand.

If you are in a state of HPA-axis dysfunction (hypothalamus, pituitary, adrenal axis dysfunction), a more accurate description of what is commonly diagnosed as “adrenal fatigue”, choosing an appropriate exercise is extremely important. If you choose exercise that is too intense for you, you will only be making matters worse as this can be an additional source of stress, triggering inflammation and be a withdrawal on your bodies system rather than a deposit.

If you’re reading this thinking, “What in the world is she talking about?..I have never heard of “HPA-axis dysfunction” or “adrenal fatigue”, please go read or listen to this podcast by Chris Kresser. He does a fantastic job of explaining all of this much better than I ever could and specifically how all of this relates to our choice of appropriate exercise.

After reading or listening to that podcast, you will have a better idea of if you are choosing the right exercise or not based off some telltale symptoms of HPA-axis dysfunction, including  a reduced exercise tolerance or decreased performance in whatever activity you are doing.

If in fact you find that you need much more gentle and restorative exercises based off o your current state of health like yoga, I have discovered an amazing online program I highly recommend and personally use myself!

After having my first baby and then becoming pregnant with my second only a year and a half later, I realized Yoga and lots of walking was exactly what my body needed to keep me moving but not over tax my system. This was a hard transition for my naturally competitive self after years of Crossfit, which I also loved, but in this new season of life, my body just couldn’t handle the intensity that I could before.  So, I joined Nautilus Family Fitness in Paris Texas specifically for their Yoga classes and fell in LOVE with them. I highly recommend their classes to anyone!! I was able to consistently go to their classes 2-3 times a week all through my second pregnancy and felt great because of it.

However, after baby number two came along, and with how much traveling our family does, I found it hard to consistently make it up to the classes.

This is where MyYoga Works has become a LIFESAVER! I absolutely LOVE this online yoga program.

 

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This program has 1,000’s of yoga and pilates videos for the beginner, intermediate and advanced. When searching for a video you would like to do, you can customize your search with the level of intensity you want, length of time you want that day (5 minutes up to 90 minutes), what you want to focus on (arms, legs, core, etc.) specific benefit you want (calming, energizing, prenatal, postnatal, fitness, pilates, kids yoga etc.), and even the teacher you would prefer.

I have been a member of this online program for a year now and have never done the same video once and they are all great! What I love most about this program is that I can do it literally anywhere as long as I have my phone or computer on me to pull it up.

Even if you can handle the higher intensity workouts right now, this would be a wonderful complement to your current workout program. Everyone needs a little more yoga in their life for all the wonderful benefits it provides.

If you are interested, you can sign-up for a FREE 14 day trial through the link below. If you decide you like it, it’s only $15 a month after that.

FREE 14 DAY TRIAL OF @ MYYOGAWORKS.COM

Enjoy!

A Tastier Way Way to Reap the Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

You may have heard of Raw Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar being the miracle drug when it comes to natural remedies, capable of having health benefits for nearly everything including fighting infections and viruses, supporting digestion to helping with weight loss. In fact, it even cured a nasty plantar wart I had a couple years back. While this may be true, if you have tried drinking this stuff before, you also know it gives a pretty hard punch to the throat and is not very pleasant or gracious on the taste buds.

If you wish to reap the many health benefits that Raw Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar provides, but don’t want to gag every time you sip or shoot it it down daily, I think you may like this product I recently discovered!

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Vermont Village has created a ‘Sipping Vinegar’ designed specifically for those of you who know how good this stuff is for you, but just can’t bring yourself to drink it or even dilute it and mix it with anything. They have combined organic raw apple cider vinegar with raw whole ingredients that make it a little more enjoyable to consume either straight up or combined with your favorite sparkling water. All of their flavors are free of cane sugar, caffeine, gluten and soy. What’s even better is you can find it at our local Wal-Mart in Paris Texas in the vinegar section!

The two flavors I have specifically tried include the ‘Ginger and Honey’ and the ‘Blueberries and Honey’.

It still gives a slight kick to the throat, but is MUCH more bearable and has a nice flavor with all the natural whole ingredients they have added in. My two year old will take half a tablespoon daily of this stuff straight up if that says anything.

So, in case this is the first time you are hearing that Raw Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar is good for you, here is a list of just some of its many health benefits:

  • Is a natural anti-biotic, and also has anti-viral and anti-fungal properties
  • aids in digestion
  • relieves symptoms of acid reflux
  • regulates blood sugar
  • improves skin health
  • helps regulate blood pressure and lowers bad cholesterol
  • helps remove toxins at a faster rate from the body
  • aids in weight loss
  • Excellent post workout alternative (rich in potassium which is essential for growth, building muscles, transmission of nerve impulses and heart activity )

While Vermont Village has created a product that is more pleasant to the taste buds and doesn’t have such a strong kick to the throat, if you prefer to just buy plain apple cider vinegar, make sure to buy Organic Raw Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar.

Raw-Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar has gone a fermentation process that regular filtered ACV has not. This fermentation process forms what is called “The Mother”. This is a naturally occurring strand-like enzyme composed of protein molecules, nutrients and beneficial bacteria. “The Mother” will be the brown, somewhat gross looking, sediment stuff floating at the bottom. This is natural, don’t let it scare you. Just shake it up real nice before using it.

How to Use It:

For general health benefits: take 1-2 T. once a day either straight up or diluted in 1 cup of water or other beverage of choice

When you are sick with a virus, bacteria or infection: Increase daily dose of 1-2 T. to every 4-6 hours until symptoms improve

For digestive support: recommended to take 1 tsp. up to 1 T. approximately 15-20 minutes before every meal.

As a post workout drink: 1-2 tsp. of raw-unfiltered apple cider vinegar is rich in potassium and is equivalent in electrolytes to commercial sports drinks such as Gatorade or Powerade with none of the added sugar and artificial colors and dyes. Just add to a large bottle of water.

 

 

Change Your Mindset For Lasting Health Change

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Will you be making a New Years resolution this year to improve your health?

If you’re serious about taking control of your health once and for all, you may need to change your mindset. I would hate to see you fall into the large percentage of people that make goals for themselves every year, only to fall back into their old habits and ways only a couple of months later.

Don’t make these common mistakes this year and you may just be on your way to truly good health! I am rooting you on.

Don’t Make It All About Numbers

So in an effort to be healthy, you have made a goal this year to lose weight, inches, body fat percentage etc. Great! All of these are wonderful goals, but if your goal is to be HEALTHY, please do not get fixated on these numbers. Focus more on how the choices you are making (exercise, food you are eating, how much sleep you are getting, how much water you are drinking etc.) make you feel. Do your better choices bring you more energy? What about your moods throughout the day? Are you sleeping more soundly through the night? Are you less anxious or depressed? What about all those stubborn complaints you had like joint pain, digestive issues, sluggishness etc.? Are these improving at all?

Your health is SO much more than just numbers. Let the numbers be a by product of you taking care of yourself consistently over a long period of time. If health is your goal, you will receive so much more than just pride and confidence when looking in the mirror. You will receive a much better quality of life because you will feel so much better inside and out!

Don’t Make It All About the Rules

So in an effort to be healthy, you may also have chosen to follow a specific program. Great! This is also a wonderful way to help you stay on track and get some guidance and accountability you may need. Nothing wrong with this at all. In fact, I am a huge fan of programs like the Whole30 or working one on one with a health coach like myself. However, if you are not careful, these programs will teach you nothing about your own personal health if you become obsessed with the rules and don’t learn to educate yourself.

If you wish to take control of your health once and for all, you have to understand that there is no one size fits all when it comes to health. You must learn to pay attention to how YOUR specific body responds to the choices you are making and not rely on someone else’s program to fix you! You are going to have to figure out what works for YOU. Any program is simply a guide and template to helping you navigate and figure this out and should never be viewed as a clear answer for everyones health.

For example, if you were working with me as your health coach and I told you that you could not eat gluten or dairy for 6 weeks, by the end of it I would expect you to be able to explain to me what specifically you noticed improved when you eliminated these food groups. By doing so, you would then be able to make an educated decision on if its worth it or not to add these back into your diet, or if you feel better without them. By paying attention to how YOUR specific body responds to your choices, you are no longer relying on rules or another person to tell you what to do. You will be developing key tools to making lasting change.

Quit Believing This Will Be A Quick Fix

It would be silly to assume that you could reverse the consequences of potentially decades of poor choices in a matter of only a couple of months, or even a couple of years. Truly good health is not a sprint. Be patient. Consistency is key. Small changes over a longer period of time will turn into a complete lifestyle change if you keep at it.

You can do this.

I believe in you!

Your health is worth it.

You are worth it.

Happy New Years!

 

 

 

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!

CHEWING YOUR FOOD

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!

 

 

 

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