Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Easy Healthy Twists to Holiday Favorites

Who says great tasting food can't be healthy?  The holidays are a time when family and friends come together to celebrate each other and appreciate what life has given them.  The focal point of the holidays are usually centered around food - unhealthy food - and people wind up feeling heavy and bloated.  I'm here to tell you, Holiday food CAN be tasty AND be healthy!!  Simply we need to replace bad, inflammation-promoting ingredients with good ones.  It can be easier than it sounds.  Naturally there are some traditional family recipes that you don't want to "mess with" for sentimental reasons and I totally get that.  Perhaps start with the other "fillers" and take it from there.

Ideas For Healthy Holiday Fare:

  • Avocado-Deviled Eggs:  Eggs are good for the body and unlike popular belief, cholesterol doesn't raise cholesterol like conventional medicine states.  Our body needs cholesterol to function properly. That said, a healthier twist on deviled eggs this year can be avocado-deviled eggs. I like to use avocado because it adds a creamy consistency to the yolks without unhealthy, hydrogenated mayonnaise. Here's the recipe for a much cleaner version of the deviled eggs you are used to. 

  • Peppermint Chocolate Oat Muffins: Yum. Nothing tastes more like the holidays, in my mind, than peppermint.  This recipe utilizes food-grade essential oils.  Add chocolate to that and it is heaven!  
Click here for full recipe.

  • Nitrate-Free Ham:  Processed meats are preserved with sodium nitrate, a known carcinogen. Sodium nitrate helps increase the shelf-life of meats.  Beware of this and choose a nitrate-free ham (or meat of your choice) instead for your holiday fare.  To learn more about nitrates, please read this article by the Heatlh Ranger. http://www.naturalnews.com/043180_holiday_foods_toxic_ingredients_avoid.html

  • Free Range Turkey:  Same reasons as number three, including you want to ensure that the turkey you eat for your holiday meal is free of antibiotics and hormones.  Applegate Farms makes a good turkey as well as Whole Foods.

  • Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce:  Back in November I read a post by fellow Health Coach, Michelle Pfennighaus.  So many folks buy CANNED jelly cranberry sauce for their holiday meals rather than enjoying the true burst of flavor only found in whole cranberries.  The best part about this post, there's no added sugar to the recipe!  You can check it out HERE.

Remember, above all else it is about MODERATION, not DEPRIVATION.  Enjoy the holidays.  Enjoy your food.  Practice the art of mindful eating. Be aware of your surroundings and what you are consuming. Above all else, remember what the season is all about; it helps to put things in perspective.

What are some dishes you can swap with healthy ingredients this season?

Be well,


Interested in learning more?  Please visit my website.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Love Yourself, Love Your Body

Don't compromise yourself.  You are all that you've got. 
- Janis Joplin

Beautiful Body Types

Almost all of us have a distorted image of our body, often due to the importance our culture places on outward appearance and the onslaught of media images of airbrushed models and celebrities.  (Dove is doing a great job on trying to change that with their 'Campaign for Real Beauty' initiative).  On a daily basis, we talk to ourselves in ways we would never speak to another. Imagine speaking to a child the way you speak to yourself about your body.  It would devastate and squelch a child.  It affects you similarly, causing stress and emotional pain in your body, which can make improving your health or losing weight even more difficult.   

The Power of Exercise!
Think about all of the intelligence, creativity, and time you spend on improving, altering, and judging your appearance.  Who would you be and what would you accomplish if your valuable resources weren't used this way?   Constant emphasis on the external makes us discount the great presence and intelligence that is housed by the body.  It makes us forget the magic of our internal rhythms and fail to acknowledge the beautiful bodies we have.

The body you have right now is incredible!  It never misses a heartbeat, it maintains homeostasis and miraculously digests whatever you put in it.  It is your instrument for expressing your creativity, intelligence, and love.  By focusing on the 1% you don't like or wish were different, you may be ignoring the remaining 99% about your body that is beautiful, unique, and delightful.

What would your life be like if you were simply at peace with the body that you have?  You may wish to make your body healthier and stronger, which is great, but could you do that out of love and respect for your body rather than the opposite? Could you begin to treat yourself with kindness, to limit the negative self-talk, and to reconnect with your inner wisdom?  Take a minute to imagine what that would be like.  It would mean celebrating your body rather than punishing it.  It would mean nourishing your body rather than depriving it.  It would mean a chance to watch your body flourish when treated with care and respect.

Food Focus: Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes seem to be on everyone's minds this season (at least they are on mine!)  They go hand-in-hand with the holidays along with pumpkin and other sweet vegetables.  Fortunately, eating these and other sweet vegetables needn't be limited to this time of year.  Cravings for sweets can be greatly reduced by adding sweet vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, yams, beets, carrots, parsnips, squash, turnips, and rutabagas to your daily diet.  Sweet potatoes elevate blood sugar gently rather than with the jolt delivered by simple refined carbohydrates, so there is no energy crash after you eat them.  Much higher in nutrients than white potatoes and especially rich in Vitamin A, sweet potatoes offer a creamy consistency that is satisfying and soothing.  They are healing to the stomach, spleen, pancreas, and reproductive organs and help remove toxins from the body.  They can increase the quantity of milk in lactating women and can lessen cramps and premenstrual symptoms.  If you don't have any sweet potatoes in your kitchen, go out and buy some (local and organic if possible) and make the recipe below:
Sweet Potato - A Holiday Favorite

Recipe of the Month: Sweet Potatoes with Lime and Cilantro
This recipe is an eye-opener for those who find sweet potatoes too sweet or those who are tired of eating them smothered in marshmallows and brown sugar.  Japanese sweet potatoes, with their pale flesh and delicate flavor, are a treat if yo can find them.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30-40 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
Put the Lime in the Coconut! (sweet potato)
4 sweet potatoes
1/2 bunch of chopped cilantro (1/4 bunch if you find them too strong)
2-3 limes
butter, ghee, or olive oil
sea salt

  1. Wash sweet potatoes and bake them whole, in their skins, at 375 for about 30-40 minutes or until fork tender.
  2. Wash and chop cilantro leaves.
  3. When sweet potatoes are done, split open the skin and place on serving plate.  Season with sea salt and dots of butter or ghee, or drizzle with olive oil.  Squeeze fresh lime juice all over and sprinkle with cilantro leaves.
  4. Serve over grains and greens.

Be well,


Interested in learning more?  Please visit my website.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

3 Unique and Easy Gift Ideas Using Essential Oils

Winter Scene
Why Essential Oils?

What is old is new again!  Essential oils have been used throughout history - are even cited in the Bible (gifts of Frankincense and Myrhh) - as having powerful beneficial properties.  Essential oils originally go back as far as ancient Greek and Egyptian cultures. A high quality essential oil has so many applications; it can be ingested for numerous health benefits, applied topically for therapeutic effects, diffused aromatically to improve both air quality and breathing, and some also can be used as a natural cleaner.

What Exactly ARE Essential Oils??

Essential oils are natural aromatic compounds found in the seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers and other parts of plants.  They are beautifully and powerfully fragrant; can lift a mood, calm the senses, and elicit powerful responses. In addition to their fragrant appeal, essential oils contain medicinal and therapeutic properties. They are naturally anti-microbial and pass directly through the skin for immediate response to topical application.  They are naturally safe and powerfully concentrated, but DO need to be used with care.  The key to using essential oils is to make sure that they are 100% pure.  My preferred brand of essential oil is doTERRA as doTERRA is free of any contaminants, such as pesticides and chemical residues.  They contain no fillers, no dyes or perfumes, and is one of the safest and most beneficial oils available in the world today. WORD OF CAUTION:  Never ingest an essential oil that is NOT 100% pure!

This Holiday Season, How About Giving the Gift of Health?

Lavender Fields


1.  For Your Best Girl Friend:


Nothing says "calm" like a beautiful spa package, complete with the most versatile and relaxing essential oil. Apply a few drops to a bath and your senses will instantly become transformed. Can also be applied topically behind ears for a restful night's sleep.  Add a few drops to a spray bottle and spray down bed linens and pillows for an extra relaxed state.

2.  For Your Colleague:

Hot Chocolate with Fresh Peppermint

Alongside your favorite brand of hot cocoa mix, include a bottle of peppermint oil in a little gift basket.  Add 1-2 drops of the peppermint for a refreshing cup of holiday cheer. Peppermint oil calms the digestive tract and eases tummy trouble; turn your hot cocoa treat into a health drink!  (peppermint can also be added to other chocolate concoctions such as this vegan chocolate pudding found HERE).  As a bonus, peppermint oil can be applied to the forehead and back of neck to calm a headache (which we sometimes get with too much holiday cheer!).

3.  For The Baker:

Baking with Lemon Oil

Lemon is one of the most versatile oils.  Not only can it lift a mood, but it can freshen a kitchen, clean pots, improve your health, and add zip to your baking dishes.  Lemon also helps to alkalize your body and is especially beneficial to start the day with 2 drops of lemon essential oil in water.  For baking, here is a great recipe to try with a few drops of lemon essential oil:  http://www.mygutsy.com/gaps-lemon-bars/

To learn more about doTerra Essential Oils, click HERE.

What do you have planned this holiday season?

Be well,


Interested in learning more?  Please visit my website.

Monday, November 11, 2013

7 Surprising Health Benefits of Lemons

Health Benefits of Lemons

While you wouldn't grab a lemon and eat it whole as a snack, lemons are powerhouses for enhancing other foods, both in flavor, and in health benefits. Scientifically known as Citrus limonthis is the fruit most associated with happiness, sunshine, and hot summer days. It's commonly known that lemons are rich in Vitamin C, but there are other health benefits that are not so well-known.  

1. Lemons May Help Prevent Cancer - The human body is designed to be slightly alkaline at a pH of 7.4. (A pH of 7.0 is neutral).  Most foods consumed by Americans are very acidic which upsets our ideal pH balance. Lemons are one of the most alkalizing foods we can consume.  Although acidic outside of the body, once consumed the human body converts it to an alkalizing state.  Cancer cannot survive in an alkaline environment.   Eating more alkaline foods increases oxygen to our cells which starves off cancer.  Drinking filtered water with lemon daily is a great way to ensure we are getting that extra boost of protection in a toxic world.

2.  Reduces Inflammation Fruits rich in Vitamin C help to reduce inflammation in two or more joints, as presented in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.  Low-level inflammation is the underlying cause of disease.  Adding lemon juice to your daily diet decreases the acidity in your body which is where disease states occur.  It reduces uric acid in the joints, therefore can help reduce and prevent certain forms of arthritis among other illnesses.

3.  Helps Improve and Eliminate Varicose Veins Lemon oil has vessel-strengthening properties that help reduce both varicose veins and spider veins.  This can be applied topically with a pure essential oil as well as ingested.  For vessel-rejuvenating, the lemon oil can be applied to a warm bath.

4.  Reduces Hypertension - In addition to garlic and onions, lemons, being high in potassium, also add a powerful punch in reducing hypertension. Lemon juice acts as a blood thinner and prevents thinning of the capillaries, along with increasing levels of HDL (good cholesterol).

5. Can Fix Bad Breath No one wants to be walking around with halitosis. Lemons can help freshen breath by ensuring that the salivation levels remain constant.  This can be done by either chewing on a lemon slice after every meal or rinsing several times a day with lemon juice and warm water.

6. Can Stimulate Digestion Typically used in Ayurvedic medicine, lemon juice has been used to stimulate digestion and clear toxins that were accumulated and stored in the digestive tract overnight.  The flavonols in this citrus fruit is what stimulates this response, and can help improve the stomach's hydrochloric-acid strength, which assists in breaking down food more efficiently.   Being an anti-bacterial, it helps your stomach and intestines fight off infections and assists with elimination.  A bonus benefit is it helps to reduce symptoms of indigestion including gas and bloating.

7. Can Help Break a Fever - Lemons can help break a fever by increasing perspiration.  It's anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral properties help move along the natural course of the fever more quickly.

Lemon Water
The easiest way to ensure you are getting enough lemon is to start your day by drinking a glass of lemon water.  A pure essential oil works just as well if not better as the oil is cold-pressed from the lemon rind itself (which actually has more vitamins and nutrients than the lemon juice).  Drinking a glass of lemon water daily is one of the most simple, effective, and sustainable changes you can make for a healthy lifestyle.  Keeping a stocked pantry of lemons for your food is then just icing on the cake!  

For more health benefits, check out this site:  http://www.care2.com/greenliving/16-health-benefits-of-lemons.html

What is your favorite  way to use lemons?

Be well,


Interested in learning more?  Please visit my website.

Monday, October 28, 2013

5 Practical Tips for a Healthy "Trick or Treat"!


I have two girls, ages 4 and 6.  I would love to say that they both prefer fruits and vegetables over candy but I'm here to tell you, that is not the case!  In fact, in this overly-sugared American society and with exposure to so many treats, they have developed their own love of sweets.  In our home we limit the types of desserts we buy; we opt for dark chocolate over milk and choose confections made with whole ingredients over processed. Therefore, in some respects, Halloween takes on an even bigger meaning for them.  They are very much looking forward to all aspects of Halloween; the costumes, the hanging with friends, the going out at night, and, of course, the candy.

That said, I do have some practical tips that could help ensure our children don't overindulge this holiday. I've learned (so far) as a parent that the best thing we can do is teach good habits and behaviors.  Ultimately, they make their own choices.  As long as we teach and educate, we are doing what we can.  That goes for Halloween candy, too!!

5 Ideas To Try This Halloween:

  1. Prepare and Fill Up on a Big, Nutritious Meal - Prior to going out trick or treating, make sure you and your loved ones have a big, nutritious meal.  Get all of those nutrients in their systems so they can have a little leeway for snacks coming later that evening!  
  2. Buy Non-GMO Candy:  Big food manufacturers like Mars and Hershey produce cheap candy made with GMO ingredients.  There ARE other options out there.  Annie's makes a delicious gummy snack made with real fruit, and Whole Foods offers organic lollipops made with fruit.  It's still delicious from a child's point of view, and you can feel good about offering something more sustainable.  Food Babe has a great article listing some delicious alternatives:  http://foodbabe.com/2012/10/10/does-your-favorite-candy-have-gmos/.
  3. Limit the Number of Candies Eaten:  As a rule of thumb I usually have a rule of two pieces of candy that night.  They can go through their loot and decide which two they want to eat, like, NOW!  Then the rest of the candy has an expiration date.  A week after Halloween, the candy goes "bad".  The key is not to let the candy linger. After a couple of days, my kids tend to forget about it anyway as the novelty has worn off.
  4. Give out Non-Food Items:  Although a little non-traditional, try offering toys and trinkets like tatoos and pencils and glow sticks.  Still kid-friendly and fun!
  5. Relax and Let Go: Sometimes, it's okay to be "bad".  There is nothing wrong with children seeing this is the exception rather than the rule.  This is a special occasion and is to be treated as such.  Heck, maybe a glass of wine is in order for us, too!! Relax, indulge, enjoy, and move on

What are some of your tips for a healthy and happy Halloween?

Be well,


Interested in learning more?  Please visit my website.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Salad to Transcend Seasons

Fall Foliage
New England Foliage

Today is late October and a gorgeous day in New England.  The foliage is at its peak. The temperature is in the mid-50's. The air is crisp yet still warm. In my opinion, it is a perfect day.

Such a vibrant day is filling me with so much energy, and urges me to be creative with my food.  I'm inspired to make my favorite salad that transcends all seasons, my Apple Chicken Sausage Spinach Salad!  It transcends all seasons as it uses spinach, which is not identifiable with Fall, but yet is one of the world's most healthiest vegetables, so in my opinion, should be used at any time during the year.

What Are The Health Benefits of Spinach?

  • Anti-Inflammatory and Anti-Cancer Properties
  • Antioxidant Properties
  • Rich in Vitamin K, Calcium, and Magnesium - Important for Bone Health

For more information on the health benefits of spinach, please refer to this article by Dr. John Douillard HERE.

What does SCREAM Fall is what goes in the salad.  Home made chicken apple sausage complete with caramelized onions!

Chicken-Apple Sausage

- 1 pound organic ground chicken
- 2 teaspoons avocado or coconut oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 medium sweet apple (I use Gala, but Honeycrisp works) peeled and diced
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
- 1 teaspoon raw honey
- Salt and pepper to taste

 - Heat the oil in a pan over a medium flame.
- Add onion and cook, stirring until the onions begin to soften (about 2 minutes)
- Add apples and cook, stirring for 2 more minutes
- Transfer to a large bowl and let cool
- Clean pan
- Add chicken, sage, and spices to the bowl with the apples and onions.  Gently mix and fold to combine
- Add in honey
- Add more oil to the pan and heat over medium flame
- Portion out mixture into either patties (makes 4) or small bites (makes about 12).
- Cook until the patties or small bites are browned and thoroughly cooked through, approximately 3 minutes on each side

Now you're done!  All that is left is to grab a large salad bowl, wash and rinse your organic spinach (I use baby), place the patty or bites of chicken-apple sausage on top, and fold gently.  I like to add in extra apple chunks and onions for garnish.

Do you have a favorite Fall salad?  I'd love to hear!  Please feel free to leave a comment below.

Be well,


Interested in learning more?  Please visit my website.

Monday, October 14, 2013

6 Steps for Breast Health

All of us have been affected by cancer in some form.  Whether it is a loved one who battled and overcame, a friend who didn't, or an acquaintance who's just been diagnosed, the reality is, it's running rampant.  The sad reality is, with all of the technological advances in our modern day, the numbers are still exceedingly high since President Richard Nixon first announced the "war on cancer" in 1971.

I am not a doctor nor am I an expert on cancer, but I do know that there is something very wrong  with our environment; an environment that is filled with pollution and toxins. We can experience toxic overload.  Some things we can't control. Some things, we CAN. Let's focus on what we CAN do.

Regarding breast cancer, here's the thing.  Early detection is important.  We know that.  It has saved countless lives. But......and here's the very important but.....early detection is still..... cancer! It's cancer that is detected early. What I want us to focus on is a shift in mindset. PREVENTION is the only TRUE prevention!  Early detection practices are very important to protect ourselves on all sides, but I want to encourage everyone to start familiarizing themselves with natural protection practices too.

Let's do our very best to help ourselves with the things we CAN control.  If more people knew about these points below, I truly believe that more people would start implementing these practices into their daily lives.

Natural breast cancer protection
  1. REDUCE YOUR SUGAR INTAKE - It's a scientific fact, cancer needs fructose to SURVIVE. Without it, the tumor(s) cannot continue to grow.  For more information, please reference this article from mercola.
  2. EAT YOUR MUSHROOMS! - If more women only knew that they could help reduce their risk of breast cancer by simply incorporating mushrooms into their daily diet, don't you think they would?  Mushrooms and green vegetables are the most potent anti-cancer foods.  From Dr. Fuhrman's site, "Mushrooms block tumor growth and have anti-estrogenic activity - regular consumption of mushrooms - as little as one mushroom per day - has been shown to decrease breast cancer risk by up to 60-70%".  http://www.drfuhrman.com/library/prevent_breast_cancer.aspx  
  3. TAKE FOLATE NOT FOLIC ACID - Ensure your whole food multi-vitamin contains folate.  Do NOT take a synthetic multi that contains folic acid. A major risk in the excessive intake of folic acid is cancer. http://chriskresser.com/folate-vs-folic-acid
  4. REGULAR LYMPHATIC BREAST MASSAGE - I'm a big fan of these. The majority of our lymph nodes are found in our breasts.  Toxins can build up in our lymphs.  Regular lymph massage can help circulate those toxins out of the breasts and help improve circulation.  The body will then naturally release the toxins.
  5. CHANGE YOUR DEODORANT - If your deodorant contains aluminum, parabens, or phthalates, dump it now.  There are many  natural deodorants on the market that do not contain these ingredients. Granted, they may not work as well, but isn't applying a couple of times a day worth it??  http://www.naturalnews.com/033364_deodorants_chemical_ingredients.html
  6. GO "WIRELESS" - Although not conclusive, there is some thought that wearing underwire bras prevents lymph circulation.  It is best to wear wireless, and nothing at all when you have no plans.  Freedom, baby!
    Going wireless

There are many other things you can do to protect yourself from the enemy, such as no processed foods, lots of purified water, eating cruciferous vegetables and lots of leafy greens. The points I mention above I don't feel are widely known but should be for all women.

For more reading on the topic, please view:

Be well,


Interested in learning more?  Please visit my website.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

What The Heck is Ghee?

I grew up in a family that is half holistic, and half the far other extreme.  Ghee is a common noun in part of my family's vocabulary, but I didn't really know much about it until just recently.  Boy was I missing out!!

What is Ghee?
Pronounced "gee" with a hard g, ghee is clarified butter used for cooking.  Mainly used in Indian cooking, ghee is butter with the milk solids, proteins and water removed, thus making it clarified.  What remains in ghee from regular butter is the clear oil. Ghee has been around for thousands of years and stems from ayurveda, the ancient Indian science of medicine.  

Why Should I Care?

Ghee is a very stable cooking oil and can be heated to high temperatures without going rancid.  Olive oil, which is extremely healthy and a great source of omega-3s, is actually an UNSTABLE cooking oil and when heated to medium-high heat, can break down and become carcinogenic.  The absolute opposite of what well-intended healthy people are trying to achieve!!  Ghee is a great alternative to cooking and provides amazing nourishment. Save the olive oil for salads and dips.

What are Some Other Benefits of Ghee?

  • Supports digestion
  • Adds a healthy glow to the skin
  • Provides mental clarity
  • Can use even if intolerant to milk, as milk proteins are removed
  • Has a higher smoke point than butter
  • Rich in antioxidants and aids in the absorption of vitamins and minerals from other foods
  • Lacks hydrogenated oils
  • Strengthens the immune system

Organic, grass-fed ghee is the best quality, naturally.

I am very lucky that my uncle prepares his own ghee and is generous enough to share.  I use it for all of my roasting  and high-heat cooking needs, including this ripe for Autumn butternut squash recipe.

As with other saturated fats, you should use sparingly and only what you need for cooking.  

Have you tried ghee?  Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Be well,


Interested in learning more?  Please visit my website.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The #1 Key to Happiness

Want to know a simple secret to happiness?  It's the same whether you are young or old, rich or poor.


Yes, it really is that simple.

I have found that it is very productive and beneficial to write down the things in your life that you are grateful for on a regular basis.  It can be as simple as a beautiful flower you saw on a walk or as profound as the love you have for your family.  Having gratitude can instantly put you in a new state of happiness and awareness of all of your blessings.  When you practice this on a day that is particularly trying, it actually has the power to change the direction of your entire day!

Be Grateful.

There is nothing more powerful to change your perspective than to be grateful.  Life is always presenting challenges, ups and downs, and the like.  We are constantly living with a challenge, getting past a challenge, or starting a new challenge.  Our character and strength have continuous opportunities to grow.

Sometimes it is difficult to understand why we have these challenges.  Some examples might be:

  • Why does my friend have cancer?
  • Why do small children become sick and suffer?
  • Why is this customer being so difficult?

Regardless of the scope or size of the challenge, there is always one thing challenges have in common:  the ability to grow.  No matter how bad things are in our lives, there is ALWAYS a reason to be grateful.  By focusing on our purpose and on our blessings, we are able to put negativity in its place.  When the negative becomes our sole focus, that is all we will find.  That is all we attract.  We will become self-involved and swallowed up by our problems.  

By focusing on what is good and what is right in our lives, the bad things recede and become smaller, and we are able to experience an opportunity for growth.  

A Prayer of Gratitude:

Be Thankful.
Be Thankful that you don't already have everything you desire,
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?
Be thankful when you don't know something
For it gives you the opportunity to learn.
Be thankful for the difficult time.
During those times you grow.
Be thankful for your limitations
Because they give you opportunities for improvement.
Be thankful for each new challenge
Because it will build your strength and your character.
Be thankful for your mistakes
They will teach you valuable lessons.
Be thankful for when you're tired and weary
Because it means you've made a difference.
It is easy to be thankful for all of the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are 
Also thankful for the setbacks.
GRATITUDE can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles
And they can become your blessings.
- Author Unknown

How has gratitude shifted a negative or bad day for you?

Be well,


Interested in learning more?  Please visit my website.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

5 Things You Can Do Now To Naturally Prepare For Cold & Flu Season

The only thing that feels more miserable than having the flu is watching your child suffer with the flu.  It's inevitable that children get sick.  The cold and flu season of 2009 was the worse for me and for my then two year old daughter.  She had just entered day care and every other week she brought something home to me. Luckily my younger daughter, who was just a baby at the time, never caught it but I also noticed that neither did my husband.

Hmnnn....what was going on here?  Why were my daughter and I getting sick left and right and my husband always escaped unscathed?  WHAT WAS IT THAT WE WERE DOING WRONG?

I realized that my immune system was down big time from being over-run and not taking proper care of myself nutritionally, but also that my eldest inherited my less than stellar immune system.  I vowed to start building this up for both of us realizing that, as with all good habits, it will take time.

My belief system is in holistic medicine, but that being said, it is NOT an alternative to conventional medicine. You don't have to make a choice of either or.  Rather, they complement one another.  That is my philosophy and what I practice with my family.

Holistic is a complete form of health that does not reject conventional medicine, but simply incorporates a natural approach as the first line of defense.

Since that cold and flu season of 2009, here are 5 things I have done to increase our immune systems:

  1. Optimize Vitamin D Levels.  It has been proven that the reason cold and flu season is in the winter is because of the lack of Vitamin D in our bloodstream, which we naturally receive from the sun.  As a precautionary,  we take more Vitamin D in the Fall and Winter months to boost our immunity.  To learn more about how Vitamin D plays a role in cold and flu prevention,  please reference Dr. Mercola's article here.
  2. Take a Whole Food Supplement.  For myself I take a women's whole-food based supplement (not a synthetic vitamin - there is a BIG difference) and for my children a whole-food based child's supplement.  I look for one that has Vitamin D3 already in there at the optimized levels.
  3. Invest in Elderberry.  Elderberry has strong antioxidant properties.  It was actually used to treat a flu epidemic in Panama in 1995.  Bioflavanoids in the juice and extract destroy the ability of cold and flu viruses to infect a cell.  My girls and I take a high quality elderberry extract as a precautionary all throughout cold and flu season.  
  4. Make Sure Your Digestive Track has Enough "Good Bugs".  I'm sure by now you have heard of the benefits of probiotics, as 80% of our immunity lies in our digestive tracts.  Our digestive tracts are our "second brain".  Maintaining a good balance of bacteria is key to good health.  There are more ways to get probiotics than just in supplement form.  Fermented foods are probably the best source, even olives and pickles! Kefir, Lassi (an Indian yogurt drink), and yogurt are excellent sources, but you need to make sure that they are plain and without the added sugar, as that would be counterproductive.  Probiotic drinks such as Kombucha or Kevita works wonders.  (I've tried most of the Kevita drinks and they are soooooo good!)
  5. Have a Consistent Sleep Schedule and Get Plenty of Rest.  Our cells repair during our deepest sleep, and our bodies are meant to follow a circadian rhythm, where we follow the same sleeping patterns every day of the week.  It's important not to "sleep in" for much longer than you would get up on a normal day to keep the rhythm in balance.  Make sure you get plenty of rest as that will boost your immune system.

Of course we still get sick and have had our share of colds/flu since 2009, but I have noticed that we bounce back quicker and don't feel so drained.  For me, it's night and day between how I used to feel when I got sick and now how my body responds.  When you or your child do get sick, remember that a fever is actually a good thing.  It is heating up your body to kill the virus.  I've learned to "loosen up" on the tylenol or ibuprofen for low-grade fevers and let the body work naturally to fight off the sickness.  (of course, anything over 100 gets a dose of Tylenol for pain management and never, ever let it go above 104 without a call to your doctor!).

There's lots of natural remedies to try if you do get sick, but let's be positive and STAY HEALTHY!!

What are ways you keep your immune system strong?

Be well,


Interested in learning more?  Please visit my website.

Monday, September 9, 2013

17 Top Superfoods to Add to Smoothies, Baking, and More!

As more and more of us shop at whole food and health markets and have become aware of the importance of eating clean and organic foods, we are naturally moving towards foods that have the potential to make us incredibly healthy!  Super foods are not new, in fact, they have been around since ancient times.  We are just rediscovering what our ancestors already knew instinctively.

Super foods are natural food sources with a highly concentrated, complex supply of high quality nutrients with the least negative properties.  Marketing is pushing them as diet aids in magazines, billboards and TV. The truth is, however, they are not always low in calories, but for the number of calories present, they are always high in nutrients.  They are an EXCELLENT addition to ANY healthy diet!

Super foods, of course, should NOT be the only part of your diet.  Simply, they can enhance already healthy practices.  Super foods can help nourish the brain, muscles, bones, organs, immune system, hair, skin and nails.  They also correct imbalances in the diet.  The ultimate goal would be to be able to quit taking vitamin and mineral supplements altogether and actually get all of the nutrients that you need from your food.

Super foods include:

  • Acai
  • Algae
  • Aloe Vera
  • Bee Products
  • Cacao (my favorite, as I'm sure all know by now!)
  • Camu Camu Berry
  • Chlorella
  • Coconut (a close second)
  • Goji Berries
  • Hempseed
  • Incan Berries
  • Kelp
  • Maca (adds a nice, nutty flavor to smoothies)
  • Marine Phytoplankton
  • Noni
  • Spirulina
  • Yacon

Do you use any of these regularly?  If so, which ones?  I'd love to hear.  I use cacao in baking and in smoothies as well as coconut oil in just about everything.  Other favorites in our kitchen include raw local honey and bee pollen, spirulina, and chlorella.  How do you take your favorite super food?

Be well,


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Monday, September 2, 2013

Why Soy is NOT a Health Food

Soy milk has enjoyed an undeserved health label in recent years.  Sadly, I too bought into it hook, line, and sinker in the late 90's and early 2,000's prior to doing my research, and suffered some health consequences because of it.  According to Dr. Mercola, the Chinese have enjoyed the health benefits of soy for centuries.  The difference between the healthy soy that they eat and the soy that we get here in the United States comes down to fermentation.  Fermented soy is good and healthy, unfermented soy is downright dangerous.  

Our soy is genetically modified to stand up to poisonous pesticides.  The studies are showing that the damage is even manifesting in 2nd and 3rd generations instead of those who are originally exposed.  Even if you have organic soy, (only about 5% in USA, by the way), it is dangerous.  Soy has estrogen components and phytic acid.


  • Natto
  • Tempeh 
  • Miso 
  • Soy Sauce 
These are all fermented.



Over 90% of the soy in the US is not fermented. Shocking to think that soy gets such a good reputation without ever thinking or considering the facts behind the good and the bad! Tofu is not fermented.  There are a lot of foods that vegetarians eat, like tofu, edamame, soy yogurt, soy cheese, soy oil, soy burgers, etc.  These are NOT HEALTHY.

Now to the part that just makes me sick to my stomach.  The most troubling soy food to me is something that a lot of people feed their kids on the advice of their doctors.  What is it? Soy formula.  Research finds that the amount of manganese found in soy formula for infants causes brain damage in infants and behavior problems in adolescents.  The manganese found in soy milk is 200 times the amount found in mother’s breast milk.

From Dr. Mercola’s site….

“The best-selling brand is Isomil (Ross Products Division of Abbott Laboratories), followed by Enfamil ProSobee (Mead Johnson), Nursoy (Wyeth-Ayerst) and Alsoy (Carnation).
According to Crinella and Tran, the discovery of potential harm from such products began in 1980 when a federal agency then called the Food and Nutrition Board established safe and acceptable values for manganese in adults, toddlers and infants.”  See  Dr. Mercola’s Site for further reading.

Some of the illnesses associated with soy are cancer (specifically, prostrate and breast), brain damage, infertility, thyroid disorders, infant abnormalities, immune dysfunction and severe allergy.  Soy is an endocrine disruptor and it disturbs regular cell formation.

Silk bought Chinese soybeans for years, building a commanding share of the soy milk market, before substantially decreasing its support of organic agriculture altogether. Few Silk products are certified organic anymore, and some are processed with hexane, a neurotoxin. While the green “USDA Organic” seal is gone, hexane-processed soy milk can still be labeled “natural,” and if it contains organic ingredients, the label “made with organic ingredients” is still used.

You just have to wonder how these things can be sold to us.

Please eat whole foods that are not genetically modified.  Do not eat processed foods, not even those that have been pushed as health foods.  Anything that has been altered in a factory should not be on our plates or in our baby’s bottles.

Because of the way we have “learned” to eat, healthy eating sounds difficult.  It is not.  All you have to do is break out of the old paradigm of box, can or bag, and go back to the older values of whole foods.  It isn’t hard, it is just different for many of us.  Once you do the changeover, you will find, it is worth it and you will be so glad that you did.

Thanks for “listening” to me! If you feel inclined, please share your thoughts on soy…

(ps.......I used to drink Silk soy milk for 5 years thinking it was a health food.  It caused hormone imbalances in me that made it difficult to get pregnant.  Once I got rid of ALL unfermented soy and processed foods, my hormones got back to where they should be.)  I've never felt better. 

Be well,


Interested in learning more?  Please visit my website.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Chocolate is a Superfood! Top Tips for Choosing the Best

I. Love. Chocolate. I love chocolate! I always have, and I always will. I can easily pass by any dessert that does not include chocolate. That's one plus, I suppose, but put a box of Godiva's in front of me and I am all done. My weakness is indeed chocolate.

Or does it have to be a weakness? How can I use this to my benefit? There must be a way. I'm determined to find a way! One thing I have learned is there is good chocolate and there is bad chocolate. For example:

3 Muskateer Bar = BAD
Organic Dark Chocolate = GOOD  (cocoa content must be at least 70% to qualify)

My favorite dark chocolate bar

Chocolate itself comes from the cacao plant, and cacao is a SUPERFOOD. For real. In its most natural form cacao is a seed. All chocolate comes from a seed in the form of cocoa beans. Chocolate DOES NOT have sugar or dairy in it unless you ADD IT.  Therefore, chocolate in its raw form is healthy!  Yes - HEALTHY!!  It is all of the processing and addition of non-healthy ingredients that make it a junk food, not the raw source of the chocolate itself.

That means you want to look for chocolate that has been minimally processed and is at least 70% cocoa. The higher the cocoa content, the less sugar. For me I choose an 85% cocoa content for my nibbling and baking needs such as Green & Black's Organic. For smoothies and special dessert concoctions (like the vegan chocolate pudding featured at the end of this post), I choose chocolate in its healthiest and most natural form, cacao powder.

What is in Chocolate and What Gives it Superfood Status?

Here is a listing of just some of the benefits:

  • Magnesium – For heart, brain, muscle cramping, elimination, alkaline, bone strength
  • Iron - For blood
  • Chromium - For balancing blood sugar
  • Copper - For blood, immunity
  • Manganese - For blood
  • Vitamin C and Zinc - For immunity, liver, pancreas, skin
  • Phenylethlamine - For focus, alertness, appetite suppressant
  • Anandamide - For endorphin (same as what is released after exercising)
  • Tryptophan - For mood enhancement
  • Seratonin - A stress defense (feel good)
  • Fiber - For elimination
  • Methylxantines - For antibacterial, cardiovascular health

As mentioned, the best way to eat chocolate is in the raw, and there is a lot of delicious ways to use raw cacao. You can buy nibs, powder and cacao butter. One of the special qualities cacao has is its ability to hide the flavor of foods that don’t taste so great.  You can eat spirulina with cacao and never even taste it (bonus!).


I experiment with new real food desserts for me and my family often. Some are winners, some.....not so much. Here is one that should please your little chocolate aficionado. You don't have to announce that it is healthy, just simply swap out a non-healthy dessert for a healthy one and see what happens. Remember with kids you may have to do this THREE OR MORE TIMES before they will adjust to something new.

Chocolate Avocado Pudding (Vegan-Friendly)

Okay, I know how that sounds.  AVOCADO????  Really? In my Chocolate???!  YES.  Avocado is used as the base of the pudding and gives it its smooth consistency.. Avocado, in addition to cacao, is also considered a superfood! It contains:

  • 35% more potassium than a banana
  • More fiber than any other food so will get you feeling full quick
  • Oleic acid which improves the cardiovascular system
  • Folic acid to control homocysteine levels
  • Antioxidants
  • Lutein necessary to protect you from age-related eye degeneration
  • Omega-3 fatty acids

So this pudding is more than anyone could ask for. Superfood quality and so delicious even my six year old says, "yum, it tastes like chocolate frosting!".


- Flesh of one medium to large avocado
- 1/2 cup of raw 100% cacao powder (raw cacao powder, not to be confused with processed cocoa powder)  ***you can reduce this amount if you find it too chocolate-y for you. For me, no such thing.
- 1/4 cup of raw local honey (do not use processed honey or it compromises the quality of the pudding)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup almond milk

***all quantities can be adjusted to your taste preference

- Scoop the flesh of the avocado and place in a food processor. Add the remaining ingredients. Blend until creamy and smooth. You may have to open the lid and push down the mixture a few times. Make sure all ingredients are completely combined. The mixture should look like the picture on the right when complete.

All ingredients pre-mixed
Processed and smooth

- Scoop the mixture into cups.  This should yield approximately 3 portions

- Cover and chill at least 3 hours. Overnight is best
- Garnish with fresh mint or fresh fruit


Be well,


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