1. The Oura Ring - $299 - $999
Move over Fitbit! The Oura ring is the most advanced and accurate sleep and fitness tracking device available and it's a lot more attractive than a chunky plastic bracelet. This amazing little ring tracks your sleep, heart rate and heart rate variability, and body temperature and it's water resistant to 100 meters. You can even put your ring on airplane mode to avoid additional EMF exposure while sleeping. The only downside is that the Oura Ring is available for pre-order only and will ship in April of 2018.
2. The Kari Gran System - $140
You have most likely heard me rave about Kari's products before, but honestly I just love her products and they make fabulous gifts! Her Mini Kit ($48) is also a great choice for anyone on-the-go. I keep one in my gym bag and in my toiletry kit for traveling.
Did someone say gluten-free licorice?! Licorice is a very polarizing flavor but those of who love it REALLY love it and it's nearly impossible to find high quality licorice that's actually gluten-free. I discovered this brand when I was in Stuttgart, Germany last year and I was instantly devoted, so I couldn't resist including this sweet treat in my gift guide. All the Lakrids products are incredibly delicious and so beautifully packaged that you almost don't want to open them up. Almost. And if you're worried about the shipping from Europe, it's very reasonable (free over €70), and surprisingly fast.
Beauty Heroes delivers carefully curated beauty products, one Hero product at a time. Shop their curated online Beauty Store or join their monthly discovery service and receive one full-size, healthy and high-performance Hero Product, plus deluxe Sidekicks, from clean beauty brands you love.
Have a love/hate relationship with the foam roller? Work out those kinks with this high-tech massage ball. Compared to other SMR/ massage balls, the Hypersphere helps to pinpoint and release trigger points faster, deeper, and less painfully using high-intensity vibration. This col fitness gadget is portable and only 5” in diameter, which helps to release tension in targeted areas better than any roller.
A potent compilation of herbs known to support skin detox + health, radiance, glow and overall anti-aging goodness. Botanicals known to support anti-aging share anti-oxidant and phytonutrient chemistry, basically bringing loads of oxygen to every corner of your body. These herbs taken daily will fully support you in achieving a natural beauty glow.
7. Instant Pot - $79.95 - $149.95
These babies do it all. Well maybe they can't do the washing and chopping for you, but the rest is covered. Instant Pot multi-cookers combine 7 kitchen appliances in 1 - Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Sauté, Yogurt Maker and Warmer, preparing dishes up to 70% faster. The insert is made of food grade stainless steel with no chemical coating so you don't have to worry about toxic crud leaching into your food.
8. Meal Delivery from The Custom Plate - $18 - $1,299
Give that busy person in your life (maybe that's you?) the gift of healthy food AND more free time. For anyone who struggles to find the time to cook, meal delivery can be a Godsend. This Mercer Island based family company makes delicious, clean food using quality ingredients and since they are small, they're able to customize the dishes according to any food restrictions or special dietary needs. Best of all, Tamara's food is delicious and made with love.
9. Svensk Skogspromenad No. 5 Candle - $38
I had the pleasure of meeting the lovely Sally Honeycutt who owns the fabulous little boutique Anders at a holiday get together, and she has curated some of the most wonderful things for her shop. Among them are these gorgeous candles made with pure essential oils, no nasty synthetic or toxic ingredients! This heavenly sandalwood & bergamot scented one is perfect for the holidays and it's on my personal wish list this year.
10. Flying Bird Botanicals Teas - $9.75-$34
This local Pacific Northwest company makes their products with only organically farmed and ethically wildcrafted herbs. Any ingredients they source overseas come from fair trade certified farms and small gardens growing their tea plants with care, using heirloom traditions passed down through generations. These teas are as yummy as they are ethical!
Because we can get most vegetables any time of the year, we may forget that certain vegetables are at their peak flavor in the Fall. A few of my favorite vegetables harvested in the Fall include eggplant, green beans, beets, parsnips, sweet potatoes and of course, winter squash. See Fall Veggie list below. These Fall vegetables are high in fiber, helping us feel fuller, longer, and keeping our digestive system running smoothly.
The most popular Fall vegetables are winter squashes - butternut squash, acorn squash, and pumpkin, to name a few. Squashes are some of the richest sources of Vitamin A, beta-carotene (cancer-fighting), and immune-boosting Omega 3s (take that, flu season!). Winter squash is also rich in calcium, potassium and magnesium, each one vital to many physiological processes including the formation and regeneration of bone matter and prevention of osteoporosis. They also play a role in energy metabolism, water balance in the body, and muscle contraction. Other minerals found in smaller amounts in winter quash include manganese, copper, iron, and zinc.
It's easy to include winter squash in your meal plans. Available in the winter months, it can be baked, sautéed, steamed, stuffed, pureed for soups, or incorporated into a variety of meat and vegetable dishes. Winter squash is a good source of Vitamin C, which supports immunity and works as an antioxidant, helping to protect cells from oxidative stress that can lead to inflammation and health problems such as cancer or heart disease. To maximize the amount of vitamin C you receive from squash, use the vegetable within four days after purchase and cut it right before cooking. Steam or bake it instead of boiling it to keep vitamin C from being degraded in hot water.
I love squash for another reason, too – they can help keep sugar cravings in check. That’s because squash has a low glycemic index due to it's high fiber content. It doesn’t spike our blood sugar, so we don’t get that rollercoaster of sugar highs and sugar crashes. In fact, the cell walls of squash contain polysaccharides – powerful nutrients that are anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic (meaning they help regulate our body’s insulin). That said, if fat loss is a priority for you and/or if you follow a low-carb diet, you'll want to enjoy smaller portions of starchy or sweet vegetables.
You may even have a pumpkin or two hanging around the house, left over from Halloween decorations. If so, here’s another reason to consider cooking it: pumpkin seeds have tryptophan, which helps our bodies produce serotonin. Serotonin is a natural mood booster (important during the shorter days of Fall and winter) and can help improve our sleep.
Here's a list of delicious fall veggies to add to your grocery list:
- Boc Choy
- Brussels Sprouts
- Celery Root
- Swiss Chard
- Collard Greens
- Green Beans
- Sweet Potatoes
- Winter Squash
So often I have clients come to me for help with their nutrition and fitness who are stuck on the fitness part because they hate the gym. They feel that unless they are "working out" intensely, they won't see results, and they don't realize that movement is more important than working out.
Our bodies are designed to move and our sedentary lifestyles that have us sitting at desks or in cars commuting are more problematic than not hitting the gym. In fact, if you sit on your butt for 8-12 hours each day, 1 hour at the gym often won't make up for that. But don't fret! With a little planning you can incorporate more movement into your daily life and alleviate the repercussions of sitting.
Making simple changes like using the stairs, or taking a walk for a few minutes every couple of hours can be immensely beneficial. Not only will it get your blood and lymphatic fluid flowing, but it can actually increase your mental clarity and productivity, making the time spent at your desk more effective. This article published in Fast Company explains how taking mental breaks every 90 minutes can increase your quality of work.
My advice to you if you're trying incorporate more movement into your life or start a fitness regimen, is this: Find something you enjoy and look forward to! If you hate the gym environment, try getting outside for a walk, run, bike ride, or a game of tennis. You might even try a home workout video or on demand workout such as Les Mills, Beachbody On Demand, or Sweatflix and save yourself the drive and gym membership fees. Like the gym but get bored easily? Something like ClassPass may be a good choice. The key here is not to force yourself to do something you dread because it will create a negative association with exercise, and you're unlikely to stay consistent if you don't enjoy it.
We all know that exercise is good for us and I am a HUGE fan of weight training and its amazing benefits, but don't let yourself get intimidated or deterred by starting an intense workout class right out the gate! Regular activity, such as walking, hiking, swimming, or group exercise classes like Zumba, can enhance your quality of life and promote lifelong fitness and good health.
Studies show that people who participate in daily aerobic activities . . .
- maintain a healthy body weight, including lean muscle, by burning fat for energy
- enhance muscle balance, coordination, and agility
- sleep better and are less likely to have chronic pain
- manage stress effectively and recover better from stressful events
- experience less depression and anxiety
- decrease their risk of heart disease and chronic illness
- experience lower blood pressure and improved efficiency in the muscles used for breathing and circulation
Getting Started: Steady Progress Reaps Benefits
A 15-20 minute stroll after dinner or during your lunch break is a wonderful first step toward improving the health of your heart and lungs and enhancing muscle endurance. As you become comfortable with more movement, you can gradually increase your activity and shoot for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity 5 days per week, OR 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least 3 days per week.
If you haven't exercised in a while, first consult with your physician and a certified personal trainer at a YMCA, JCC or reputable fitness center. Take Note: if your physician recommends exercise for lowering blood pressure or cholesterol, shoot for 40 minutes of aerobic activity three or four times per week, at moderate-to-vigorous intensity.
Choose an activity you enjoy and you'll be more likely to stick with it. You'll also be more likely to maintain an exercise routine when you work out with a partner or small group. Steady progress provides more benefit than going "all out" and suffering an injury or burning yourself out. Be patient. Give yourself several weeks for your body and mind to adjust to your healthy behavior change.
- What Aerobic Exercise Does for Your Health http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/fitness/in-depth/aerobic-exercise/art-20045541?pg=2
- Statement on Exercise: Benefits and Recommendations for Physical Activity Programs for All Americans: A Statement for Health Professionals by the Committee on Exercise and Cardiac Rehabilitation of the Council on Clinical Cardiology, American Heart Association http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/94/4/857.full
- AHA.org. "American Heart Association Recommendations for Physical Activity in Adults" Accessed 5 Sept 2017: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/FitnessBasics/American-Heart-Association-Recommendations-for-Physical-Activity-in-Adults_UCM_307976_Article.jsp#.Wa72tK0_k19
- AHA.org "Benefits of Aerobic (Endurance) Exercise" http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/FitnessBasics/Endurance-Exercise-Aerobic_UCM_464004_Article.jsp#.WY8Tu8a-I18
- Physical Activity and Public Health: A Recommendation From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Sports Medicine. http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=386766
Fall begins the onset of shorter days and longer nights – which means our bodies receive less light. We also wake up and go to sleep to cooler temperatures. Because of these seasonal changes, many people experience changes in energy, mood swings and sleep patterns, especially here in the Northwest.
These changes can be positive or negative, or a combination. Negative changes in the way we feel due to the change of seasons is called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and about 10 to 20 percent of people are affected – ranging from mild to severe cases. But did you know that the foods you eat (or don’t eat) as well as maintaining other healthy lifestyle factors can help you overcome symptoms of SAD?
If you’d like to learn more about how the change of seasons may affect you, take the assessment below, designed to increase your self-awareness and understanding. While none of us can control Mother Nature, we can learn more about how we are affected by seasonal changes and what to do to overcome symptoms of SAD.
Take the Seasonal Changes Assessment
The steps below will help you begin to assess how the change of seasons may be affecting three areas of your life: your sleep, energy and mood. Important: If your answers show a downward trend, please talk to your doctor, health coach or trusted friend about how Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) may be affecting you.
Sleep Assessment: This month, check in with yourself each morning: How do you feel when you wake up?
- On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being “Exhausted” and 5 being “Excellent,” how would you rate how well-rested you are?
- On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being “Takes a Very Long Time” and 5 being “Very Easily” how would you rate how easily you fall asleep?
- On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being “I Wake Up Very Frequently” and 5 being “I Don’t Wake Until Morning,” how would you rate how well you stayasleep?
- As October marches on (and the days get shorter), is it harder for you to get out of bed? (Yes or No?)
- Are you hitting the snooze button more often? (Yes or No?)
- Or do you feel about the same, or even better, upon waking up? (Same or better?)
Physical Energy Assessment:
- On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being “Excellent,” and 1 being “Very Low,” how would you rate your energy level mid-morning?
- On the same scale, how would you rate your energy level in the late afternoon?
- As the month goes on, do you find it easier or more difficult to exercise or be physically active? (Easier/More Difficult?)
- As the month goes on, do you find yourself being more or less productive at work or home? (More or Less?)
Mood Assessment: Once in the morning and once in the evening, answer these questions with a simple “more” or “less:”
- Do you find yourself more or less interested in your work, social happenings and/or family activities?
- Do you find yourself more or less patient with others and yourself?
- Do you find yourself feeling more or less happiness in your relationships?
Now that you know more about seasonal affects, what can you do?
Do your answers show a “down” trend? This may be an indication that you are sensitive to or negatively affected by seasonal changes. Following are some simple actions that can help minimize these effects.
• Get outside! Less daylight in the fall and winter months causes some people to become more lethargic, irritable, and/or depressed. This month, focus on getting more daylight by shifting your exercise or recreational activities to the outdoors, at least 15 minutes a day. Go for a walk; ride a bike; chase after your pets or kids – it doesn’t have to be strenuous exercise. A consistent combination of daylight and physical activity can significantly improve your energy and mood.
• Prep for sleep. Because nighttime comes earlier during fall and winter, it can disrupt your circadian cycle and the summer sleep rhythm you've been used to. It’s more important than ever to turn off all electronics one to two hours before you turn in. Fall is also a great time to practice sleep-specific meditation. My new favorite is Meditainment. It’s free and lasts 21 minutes. (I always fall asleep before it finishes!)
• Eat More Omega-3s. What we eat can also affect how susceptible we are to “fall blahs” and “winter blues.” Certain foods can zap our energy, our motivation to exercise, and our good mood. Omega 3 fatty acids can help combat these symptoms. Excellent food sources of Omega 3 fatty acids include salmon, chia seeds, walnuts, and more.
• Supplement with High Quality Vitamin D. According to this article from Harvard Medical School, this is especially crucial if you live in a rainy climate like Seattle or if you live at a latitude above 37 degrees North. For you here on the West coast, that's anywhere from San Francisco North. My personal favorite is Vitamin D3 Complete by Allergy Research Group since it includes the important co-factors Vitamin A and K. If you have darker skin you need more Vitamin D that someone with a pale complexion since your natural pigment makes it harder for the sun to penetrate the dermis.
• Keep a Food Diary. A recent study found that gluten and dairy may contribute to feelings of depression or mood swings in people who are allergic or sensitive to these foods. If you have increased feelings of sadness during the fall season, try reducing or eliminating dairy and gluten from your diet and see if your outlook or mood improves. This is, of course, easier said than done, but it just takes a little getting used to and I can help you with this.
• Focus on the Food Culprits. It’s certainly not NEW news that overindulging in alcohol and sugar-laden foods can make you feel sluggish the next day. But did you know they can also increase feelings of depression? If you are negatively affected by the seasonal changes, consider eliminating sugar and alcohol consumption and test how you feel. To test if alcohol and/or sugar are contributing to your seasonal symptoms, experts suggest eliminating them for 21 to 23 days. Why three weeks? Because our bodies release antibodies to fight sensitivities and allergies, and it takes 21 to 23 days for the antibody reaction to dissipate and renew.
Need some extra support this season? I can support you with a results-oriented Wellness program. Schedule a free Coffee Talk session and let's talk!
Recognized for its role in bone structure and proper function of nerves and muscles, Magnesium has a multi-faceted role in disease prevention and health promotion. It is necessary for almost every chemical reaction that takes place in the body!
Here are just a few things magnesium can do for you:
- Calm your body by helping blood vessels dilate, which maintains lower blood pressure and makes it easier for the heart to pump blood.
- Improve quality of sleep - a critical defense against stress!
- Help neutralize stomach acid
- Prevent constipation!
- Assist in lowering blood sugar, a major issue in diabetes management and prevention.
- Help with prevention and treatment of osteoporosis, nerve and back pain.
Food sources of magnesium include leafy vegetables, nuts, legumes, fish, fruits and whole grains. Because food levels of magnesium are affected by the quality of soil in which the food is grown, there have been huge declines in food-based magnesium content over the last few decades. Some people may be magnesium deficient and not realize that their symptoms of illness (e.g., headaches, muscle cramps, constipation) are related to insufficient magnesium.
There are different types of magnesium (e.g., citrate, glycinate) and various forms (pill, powder, liquid). Some forms may be better suited to different types of health issues. Certain forms of magnesium are poorly absorbed, and won't provide therapeutic benefit, and other forms can cause changes in bowel movements. If you are concerned about magnesium deficiency due to dietary habits or physical symptoms, consult with your holistic practitioner to select the right type of magnesium supplement.
When I ask my clients, “What are three things you feel that you should be doing for your health that you're not doing right now?”, the first answer is almost always, “Eat healthier." Number two is typically, “Exercise more consistently”. That’s usually followed by, "Go to sleep earlier and wake up earlier."
What do all of these answers have in common? They require a little planning! As we all have experienced, important goals like these don’t just happen. Our days often get busy and we stay up late doing “just one more thing.” Then we’re so tired in the morning that we hit the snooze button, until we’re behind in our day before it even gets started! And if we’re already rushing in the morning, we don’t have the time for our best intentions. Instead, we skip our workout, hit the drive through, and stay up late – again. The good news is, some simple routines and rituals can end this chaotic cycle!
A few ways that rituals and routines can help you include:
1. Sleep better, deeper, longer. Studies show that the majority of adults function best with seven to eight hours of sleep. Getting enough quality sleep improves your mental clarity, your energy level, your mood balance, and your physical performance. Still, 40 percent of Americans get less than seven hours. How can you improve your sleep? Step one: bring back the bedtime!
Pick a consistent time for going to bed and waking – and stick to it. A sleep schedule will help you optimize your natural circadian rhythm. According to Northwestern Medicine, sticking to a consistent waking time may be the most important element to your body’s natural rhythm and feeling your best. You can do this! Go to bed five minutes earlier each night, until you hit your bedtime goal. Next, set the alarm clock five minutes early each day, until you hit your optimum wake time, getting at least seven to eight hours of sleep.
A bedtime ritual is important, too. Key suggestions include: closing the kitchen so you stop eating and drinking two to three hours before bedtime; turning off electronics 1-2 hours before bedtime (that’s right – break the binge-watching habit and stop texting in bed!); and taking time to relax, such as soaking in an Epsom salt bath, reading a real book, meditating, or simply talking with a loved one. One of my favorite sleep-prep meditations is from the Headspace app – check it out, it’s free! Do you have trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep? Let’s talk! I can help you make a few small changes that can make a big difference!
2. Manage stress. We all know that stressful feeling of running late for school, an exercise class, an appointment, or a meeting – our blood pressure soars, our anxiety rises and our tempers flare. Too much stress can lead to a greater risk of chronic high blood pressure, heart disease, and stored belly fat due to the over-production of cortisol. How can routines and rituals help? With just a little preparation and planning and identifying where you get stuck!
If you are following step one above, you’ve already given yourself some extra time in the morning. Good job! To ensure healthy eating throughout the day, start with a healthy breakfast routine. I like to recommend drinking warm water with lemon each morning. It serves as a natural detoxifier and help you rehydrate upon waking.
As part of your night time ritual, you can prepare your lemon juice ahead of time. Simply squeeze fresh lemon into an ice tray like this one. In the morning, just pop the frozen lemon juice into a glass of warm water.
Plan-ahead healthy breakfasts such as chia pudding, low-sugar smoothies or pre-prepped omelettes can help you jump-start your day! Making time for a high protein breakfast gives your body the energy it needs to sustain you until lunch. It helps reduce the chances that you’ll be “hangry” by mid-morning and tempted by fast food or the vending machine later in the day. Check out my recipes section for great breakfast ideas.
3. Routines can also help you get and stay organized, and being organized leads to more time in your day. (You’re not wasting time searching for your keys, your phone, your files, etc.) Use the extra time to achieve your goal of getting to that workout or yoga class – another great stress-reducer.
Experts say that one of the best ways to stick to your daily exercise is to write it on your calendar and block that time like you would a business meeting, your child’s recital or game, or your dentist appointment. So book a date with a friend to go for a walk, run, or attend a yoga class together.
Many people book their exercise classes online with studios or gyms that require you to show up to avoid a cancellation fee. Find what works for you and protect that time to prioritize your fitness!
As you tweak your routines or create new ones this Fall, I’d love for you to make a little extra time for you. Even 30 minutes to do something each day that makes you feel happy, healthy, and connected to others will give you a healthy boost. Giving yourself breathing room helps ensure that you have time for the things you want to do.
Now it’s your turn: What are your three things that you'd like to be doing each day or each week? What changes in your routine would help you make those things happen? If you could achieve those three things, how would it change your life? Close your eyes and picture the new you! On a scale of 1 to10, how important are these changes to you?
Want to learn more about creating a healthier life? Schedule a free 50-minute Coffee Talk with me!
Both men and women describe infertility as heartbreaking, and more stressful than losing a job or getting divorced. Across the United States, approximately 7.5 million women age 15 to 44 have an impaired ability to get pregnant or carry a pregnancy to term; about 5 million men have a fertility problem.
Most male infertility is due to low sperm counts, poor sperm quality or sperm mobility. Other problems are similar to those women face, such as structural issues with the reproductive organs, anatomical conditions, hormone imbalances, genetic factors, and environmental toxins. "When it comes to uncovering the root cause of infertility," says women's health expert Dr. Judith Thompson, N.D. "a common misconception is that it's hormone levels and if we adjust the hormones enough, a couple can get pregnant." In reality, several interrelated factors influence fertility.
In assessing infertility, natural medicine physicians evaluate a patient's overall well-being: the effect of stress on hormone levels; diet and exercise habits; exposure to environmental toxins; the function of the endocrine, digestive, and immune systems; and the unique design of a person's reproductive anatomy and physiology. They evaluate the man's sperm and test for hormone imbalances in men and women, as well as thyroid function, vitamin levels, and metabolic function. They then work with patients to correct imbalances and create an optimal environment for conception and pregnancy.
Five Ways to Enhance Fertility:
Nourish your endocrine system. Support the ovaries or testes, thyroid, and adrenal glands by eating organic, whole foods including nuts, seeds, fish, and avocados, as well as foods high in vitamin C. Oysters, rich in zinc, enhance male fertility and bolster a woman's immune system.
Avoid GMO containing foods, as well as soy, which may have a negative effect on reproductive function in certain individuals. "It is important to avoid foods that are stressful to the body," says Dr. Thompson. "One of the biggest culprits is coffee. It dehydrates and depletes vital nutrients from the body. It puts the body into a higher alert mode, which decreases the body's ability to become pregnant."
Make wise lifestyle choices. Forego high intensity exercises like hot yoga, Crossfit, marathon running, and triathlons. "Intense exercise puts the body into high stress mode. It sends the body the message that there is a lot of demand for resources and it is not a desirable time for pregnancy," says Dr. Thompson. Opt for slow yoga, walking, swimming, and bicycling.
Don't smoke, as it decreases oxygen to tissues and affects the placenta. Avoid alcohol. Make time to meditate because it relaxes all nerve signals and allows the body to function better.
Use quality nutritional supplements. The herb Aletris farinosa (aka True Unicorn) supports a toned uterus and minimizes possibility of miscarriage. Calcium-d-glucarate helps maintain a healthy estrogen and progesterone balance, increasing chances of pregnancy. Other supplements, including pre-natal vitamins, may be recommended by your health practitioner.
Establish strong emotional supports. Stress. Anxiety. Fluctuating emotions: they increase cortisol production, which can affect the ability to become pregnant and also interfere with a baby's development. Seek out a counselor who specializes in fertility issues, a fertility support group, or a faith-based group to help you manage difficult emotions.
Support your spirituality. Whatever form your spirituality takes - attending church, participating with a nondenominational group, exploring nature, meditating, or being artistic - do something that takes you away from the daily to-do list and allows you to be fully engaged in the experience. "When this kind of heart-centered energy and awareness is present," says Dr. Thompson, "it opens doors for new creative energies to come through, and creative energy is a big part of fertility.
"Working with fertility is about getting to know yourself and your needs - physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, while healing the things that need healing and nurturing the parts that need nurturing."
Many of us have grown up thinking that fat is bad for us and that eating fat can make us fat and cause heart disease. Especially those of us who grew up in the 80's and 90's when high carb, low-fat was all the rage and we consumed copious amounts of sugary foods thinking they were healthy because they were fat-free. Ugh! Remember Snackwells? God help us... The truth is, the right fats can help us:
- Feel more satisfied after a meal
- Lower our risk of heart disease
- Improve the way we absorb nutrition and fat-soluble vitamins and minerals
- Get more antioxidants into our daily diet
- Burn fat and lose weight
But all fats are NOT created equal! The real challenge is understanding which fats are good for us, and which aren’t. So let’s make it easy:
- The worst fats are trans fats, like the ones in margarine and donuts. Trans fats include anything "hydrogenated" and are often found in processed foods because they increase shelf life. Be careful not to overheat your healthy oils because that creates trans fats.
- Next on the bad fats list are refined vegetable oils like canola, soybean, rapeseed, sunflower, safflower, peanut, and corn oil. These are widely used in restaurants because they are cheap and can be used at high heats, so if you eat out a lot, you're getting a hefty dose of these inflammatory oils.
- The best fats are unrefined, minimally processed, polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids as well as monounsaturated fats like the ones in salmon and olive oil. Another reason to love omega-3s? They reduce inflammation and help us metabolize fat. See the list of other healthy fats below.
According to Dr. Mark Hyman, author of Eat Fat, Get Thin, who has dedicated his life to the science of healthy nutrition, healthy fats are not the enemy; “sugar, refined carbs and foods that are highly processed (which he refers to as ‘the white menace’) are the real causes of weight gain, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.” I talk more about how fat was vilified by the sugar industry in this article if you want to learn more.
So what fats should we eat? Below is a list of healthy fats to eat in balance with plenty of fresh vegetables, clean protein, and nutrient-dense carbs in your daily diet.
• Avocado – Avocados are packed with healthy monounsaturated fats that contain oleic acid, which can help you feel fuller, longer. Avocados are also a healthy source of protein and fiber and are just plain delicious. Try blending half an avocado on your morning smoothie for an extra creamy treat.
• Almonds & Almond Butter – Almonds are a good source of polyunsaturated fats, which can reduce fat storage and improve the way your body metabolizes insulin. Almond butter provides many of the same nutrients; just make sure that the nut butter you choose does not contain sugar or trans fats (also known as partially hydrogenated oil). That’s why it’s important to read the ingredients label!
• Walnuts and Walnut Oil – Walnuts are the top nut for brain health (they even look like the brain!). They are also the poster child for polyunsaturated fat – they contain 13 grams per one-ounce serving. They also have the most omega-3s of all the nuts. Try them as toppers to salads and oatmeal. Pecans and macadamias are great nut choices too, especially if you're on a ketogenic diet!
• Olive Oil – Whether you cook with it (use with no heat or low heat only) or use it in dressings and dips, olive oil contains cancer-fighting polyphenols and monounsaturated fats, including oleic acid, which helps protect the heart. In order to avoid fake or adulterated olive oil, look or organic, extra virgin, cold-pressed olive oil which is PGI Certified by the European Union.
• Coconut Oil – This is a well-rounded oil, and YES! It is still healthy, so don't believe the recent scaremongering information from the American Heart Association. Why not? Because the AHA is funded by the very industries who don't want you consuming coconut oil. This article by Dr. Mark Hyman sums it up beautifully. Coconut oil contains MCT (medium chain triglycerides), praised for boosting metabolism and improving brain function, as well as lauric acid, which supports healthy immune system function. Studies also show that coconut oil, when part of a regular diet, can raise HDL (the good cholesterol) and lower the total cholesterol to HDL ratio -- which in turn lowers the risk of heart disease.
• Wild Caught Salmon – Wild salmon is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which can help lower blood pressure, protect your heart against disease, and help decrease triglyceride levels. Eat wild salmon just once a week (more can increase your risk of mercury toxicity) and you’ll get half the omega-3s recommended by the American Heart Association. Ask for it by name – wild salmon is a much better choice than farmed Atlantic salmon.
• Eggs – Another myth-buster: the cholesterol in eggs doesn’t cause high cholesterol in people! The egg white is a good source of protein, but the real star is the yolk and its monounsaturated fat. Recent studies show that the healthy fat in egg yolks actually helps reduce LDL cholesterol (the “bad” kind). And here’s some more good news. Eggs are the top source of choline – which is important for brain health and helps reduce your body’s tendency to store fat around your liver. Just make sure to buy organic, pasture-raised eggs. You'll spend more, but the tastes and health benefits are worth it.
• Grass-fed Lamb, Beef and Buffalo - That's right, even animal fats cab be healthy, but it needs to come from a clean, responsibly farmed source. Grass is the natural food for these grazing animals and when they eat what they were meant to, they fat is higher in omega-3 fatty acids. But when they are fed an unnatural diet of grain and soy (usually GMO) which is typical for factory or feedlot animals, their fat is much higher in pro-inflamatory fats. These large scale operations are also a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. By purchasing meat from small farmers who humanely raise their animals on grassland you can reduce your environmental footprint, support small farmers and enjoy tastier food that's better for your body.
• Chia, Hemp and Flax Seeds – Chia, hemp and flax seeds are a great source of an essential omega-3 fatty acid called ALA. Research shows that ALA is a heart-healthy omega-3, reducing the risk of heart disease by reducing inflammation and increasing optimal blood vessel health. Buy whole flax seeds and grind them just before using to make sure the fats don't oxidize.
• Spirulina – This blue-green algae may not be your typical, everyday food – but maybe it should be! Spirulina is packed with omega-3s, and two specific kinds called EPA and DHA, which have been shown to control inflammation and belly fat. Spirulina can also help us detoxify heavy metals like arsenic, and keep candida under control in our guts. One of my favorite ways to include spirulina in my diet is in smoothies and BRaw Superfood Bars. With 4 grams of protein per tablespoon, spirulina is also an excellent supplemental protein source for vegans and vegetarians. Caution: If you have PKU, autoimmune disease or are pregnant or nursing, check with your doctor before consuming spirulina as it may be problematic for you.
These healthy-fats foods offer so many benefits! Add one or two to your diet each day to protect your heart; lower your cholesterol; reduce inflammation; reduce belly fat and fat stored around the liver; and help you kick your hunger cravings and feel more satisfied after a meal.
Water is great for weight control and feeling energized – but what can we drink when we’re bored with plain water? Try these additions and alternatives that won’t add pounds or zap your energy:
1) Fruit Infusions. You can also freeze summer fruit that’s about to be overripe – pineapple, peaches, kiwi, watermelon. And of course, you can squeeze the juice from a fresh lemon or other citrus fruits in ice cube tray compartments and freeze, or infuse a whole pitcher or jug with sliced fruits and berries. I love the mixture of blueberry and lemon, and the flavors of watermelon, cucumber and mint. The longer the water steeps, the more intense the flavor. Why not try muddling fresh fruit with sparkling water to make a refreshing non-alcoholic spritzer like this one.
2) Berry Cubes. Fill an ice cube tray with the juice and pulp from organic berries. Blend a cup or two or blackberries, blueberries or raspberries in a blender or food processor until you have a course mixture of the fruit pulp and juice. Then pour/scoop the fruit into the ice tray’s individual compartments and freeze. When you’re ready for a drink of water, pop out a cube or two and plop them into your glass.
3) Off the Shelf. You can also buy infused waters off the shelf; make sure you select ones that contain no added sodium, sugars or preservatives. A few to try are: Dr. Ayala’s Herbal Water (sparkling or regular); Hint (sparkling or regular) and Perrier Grapefruit (sparkling).
4) Mother Nature’s “Sports Drink” (without the artificial sweeteners and colors). Coconut Water is naturally high in electrolytes such as potassium and magnesium, as well as antioxidants. If you can get fresh coconut water right out of the coconut (that’s the best!) you can buy it bottled. Read the label to be sure it’s 100% coconut water. For endurance athletes and travelers, I recommend freeze-dried coconut powder. You can take it with you in a zip bag and add it to your water for replenishment!
5) Go Green. Vegetable juices, especially green juices made with parsley, spinach, kale, celery, fennel, ginger, and mint, are a great way to get your fluids and a lot of nutrition. Home juicing or cold-pressed at your local juice bar is best. There are also plenty of off-the-shelf versions, but these are usually loaded with sugar to be wary.
6) Eat Your Hydration. Summer is a great time to choose fruits and veggies that will help keep you hydrated and provide nutritional boosts. Some favorites include:
• Welcome Watermelon. It’s in the name, and it’s in season all summer! This hydrating fruit is 92% water and in just one serving you get about five ounces of water. Watermelon also has a very high level of citrulline, an amino acid that our body uses to make arginine, another amino acid that’s related to vascular health. It’s also an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin A, and the antioxidant lycopene.
• Cantaloupe and honeydew melon are naturally sweet sources of vitamin A and 90% water by weight.
• Grapefruit is tart, tangy, and a refreshing 91% water. It also contains powerful phytonutrients called limonoids, which form enzymes that spark a reaction in the liver that helps to make toxic compounds more water soluble for elimination from the body.
• Strawberries have loads of fiber, are an antioxidant powerhouse, and are packed with vitamin C. Every berry is 92% water. They are a heavily sprayed crop though, so choose organic only (same goes for all berries).
• Cucumbers contain mostly water, which makes them very cooling. They are a great source of vitamin B and K, rich in potassium and magnesium and contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatories that fight disease.
• Celery contains potassium, calcium and magnesium, with 95% water content.
Whatever water source you choose, you’ll be doing your body a huge favor by staying hydrated!
As a former coffee addict and current tea lover, my teeth are not as white as I'd like them to be. I've tried using the fancy bleaching trays from the dentist but the bleaching paste makes my teeth super sensitive and I'm sure it has all kinds of nasty chemicals that I don't want to ingest. So I went on a quest to find a non-toxic teeth whitening options and I discovered activated charcoal powder.
There are lots of brands out there, but I tried this one that uses organic activated charcoal and so far I'm impressed! I know it seems crazy to brush your teeth with black powder to make them whiter, but trust me, it works. I am kicking myself for not taking before and after pictures so I can show you the difference!
There has been some controversy as to whether or not the charcoal can damage teeth, but it doesn't bind to minerals so it shouldn't damage your enamel. That said, I wouldn't use it more than 2-3 times a week until your teeth look naturally white (we're not going for glow-in-the-dark here), and it's a good idea to use a soft or extra soft toothbrush to apply it. The powder I bought is extremely fine and I recommend steering clear any course powders to avoid excess abrasion. If you already have severe acid erosion or enamel damage you should consult with your dentist before using any type of whitening product.
Keep in mind that the powder can stain clothing and that you'll need to brush your teeth with your regular toothpaste after using the activated charcoal to remove any black residue. I should also mention that it only removes surface stains from things like coffee, tea and red wine, and will not remove discoloration from antibiotics or other dental issues.
Do you have a natural trick for whitening your teeth or have you tried activated charcoal powder? Comment below and share.
Listen to your gut. And make sure to protect it. A balanced gastrointestinal system plays a critical role in defending your body against illness. An imbalance in gastrointestinal (GI) flora can create health issues and is typically the result of poor diet, stress, use of antibiotics, illness and food allergies.
You can help balance your GI flora by eating probiotic rich naturally fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi and kefir, and/or by taking a high quality probiotic supplement. Probiotics are live, microbial food ingredients similar to the health-enhancing microorganisms found in the gut. Well-researched health benefits show taking a probiotic can help . . .
- Boost immunity by enhancing the production of antibodies
- Support the synthesis of vitamins and increase bioavailability of nutrients
- Protect the GI tract from disease-causing bacteria and other pathogens
- Alleviate symptoms of GI illness (diarrhea and constipation, IBS)
- Reduce seasonal and food allergies
Regarding dietary allergens and immunity, scientists believe probiotics achieve their health benefits by stimulating the immune response to increase the secretion of immunoglobulin-A (IgA), which boosts the body's response to food allergens. Elevated IgA may also decrease pathogens in the gut, which improves the balance of GI flora. Probiotics elevate natural "killer cells" that gobble up disease-generating "invader cells" and may protect nutrients that would otherwise be destroyed by pathogens.
Probiotic supplements come in liquid, powder, chewable and capsule form, ranging from one million to several billion live organisms. Most are sold refrigerated. Buy professional grade supplements only and keep probiotics properly stored so as not to kill the live, healthy bacteria. I recommend Designs For Health, Thorne, Pre Encapsulations and Garden of Life brands (not a professional brand, but good quality and readily available).
Even though probiotics have well documented health benefits, they are not a fix-all. Probiotics are most effective when you are supporting your health with a nutrient-dense, whole foods diet. Your health practitioner can determine the best probiotic strains and dosage and any other supplements suited for your specific health concerns.
- Laitinen K, Isolauri E. "Management of food allergy: vitamins, fatty acids or probiotics?" Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. (2005),17:1305-1311. PMID: 16292082: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16292082
- Kligler B, Hanaway P, Cohrssen A. "Probiotics in children." Pediatr Clin North Am. (2007), 54:949-967:xi. PMID: 18061785 DOI: 10.1016/j.pcl.2007.10.002 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18061785
- Verna EC, Lucak S. "Use of probiotics in gastrointestinal disorders: what to recommend?" Therap Adv Gastroenterol. (2010) 3:307-319. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1756283X10373814
- Macfarlane GT, Cummings JH. "Probiotics and prebiotics: can regulating the activities of the intestinal bacteria benefit health." BMJ. (1999) 318:999-1003. Accessed 12 April 2017: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1115424/
- Kiani, L., Cambridge Scientific Abstracts- Discovery Guide. Bugs in our Gut: How Probiotics Keep Us Healthy. (2006). Accessed 12 April 2017: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.503.8094&rep=rep1&type=pdf
- Mayo Clinic. Probiotics. Accessed 12 April 2017: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/expert-answers/probiotics/faq-20058065
Do you have a love / hate relationship with spring? Many of my clients do, because while the sun may be shining more, seasonal allergies are also kicking in making many of us miserable with hay fever, itchy skin and other nasty symptoms. This year seems to be particularly rough so far so I'm sharing my favorite non-toxic, side effect free remedies with you to help you beat allergy season without harmful or habit forming drugs.
So many people have come to rely on antihistamine drugs to control their allergy symptoms, but did you know that antihistamines can cause all kinds of nasty side effects including weight gain? Yeah, no thanks!
The good news is that there are effective natural remedies that can help keep your symptoms in check so you can get outside and enjoy the nice weather without fear of being miserable. Here is my personal combination of remedies that I've found to be more effective than pharmaceuticals. Everyone is different so these may not work for you, but I encourage you to try some different combinations to see what your body responds to best.
1. Nasal Spray - A good homeopathic nasal spray works in two ways; first it helps flush particles out of your nasal passages while keeping them moist and alleviating congestion, and second it helps regulate the body's response to allergens. I love the BioAllers Sinus & Allergy Nasal Spray, but if you're someone who's skeptical of anything that isn't mainstream, you might try the Zicam Allergy Relief Nasal Gel.
2. An Herbal Antihistamine - My personal go-to is HistaEze by Designs for Health, which contains a combination of guduchi (tinospora cordifolia), nettle leaf, quercetin, sodium bicarbonate and Vitamin C. Natural D-Hist by Ortho Molecular is also an effective formula and is carried locally at Pharmaca.
3. Rooibos Tea and Stinging Nettle Tea - Fresh nettles aren't always available but at this time of year you can find them in local farmer's markets here in the Northwest and they grow plentifully in this area if you're up for doing a little foraging. I simply steep 2 tablespoons of crushed dried leaves in boiling water for 5-10 minutes, and when I can't find fresh nettles, I buy the Traditional Medicinals Nettle Leaf Tea. My stinging nettle soup is another great way to enjoy this wonderful medicinal herb.
Rooibos tea is another great option since it is rich in the bioflavonoids quercetin and ruin which block histamine release. This is also a great option if you're pregnant since nettles are not recommended for pregnant or nursing women. My favorites are the Organic Double Red Rooibos Tea by Republic of Tea and Numi Organic Rooibos Tea. Rooibos tea is delicious hot or iced and if you like it sweet, try adding a little vanilla stevia, monk fruit, or local honey which some people find helpful for pollen allergies.
Using this trifecta of natural remedies has been a life saver for me and I've found it much more effective than the Allegra or Zyrtec I used to take. And the best part is that I don't have to deal with the nasty side effects those drugs had on me. I hope you'll give these remedies a try. Just keep in mind that I'm not a doctor and this is not medical advice, so you shouldn't stop or change any medications or treatments recommended by your health practitioner.
I'd love to hear from you! Did you try any of these remedies and what have yo found that works for you?
Do you sometimes have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep? Are you waking up in the middle of the night or before your alarm goes off? It’s important for you to understand what’s causing your sleep struggles, and use tips like the ones below to prepare for a restful night.
Getting enough sleep has a positive domino effect on our health; our bodies are in restore and rejuvenation mode while we’re sleeping; this can help us heal from illnesses and reduce aches and pains in our joints or muscles, for example. Deep sleep also helps reduce stress and anxiety, so we have more energy the next day.
And speaking of the next day, have you ever noticed that you’re hungrier when you’re tired? Research shows our appetite can increase up to 25% when we’re feeling exhausted, and many of us often turn to caffeine or sugar (or both) to give us a boost of energy. And that begins a roller-coaster of bursts of energy followed by energy crashes. That’s right – not getting enough sleep can actually cause us to gain weight or make it harder for us to lose weight!
Tonight, why not start some of these healthy sleep rituals?
1. Give yourself a bedtime. What’s your bedtime? Just like kids, we benefit when we have a consistent sleep time, because our bodies anticipate and respond to routine.
2. Close the kitchen. Make your last meal two to three hours before bedtime, so your body has a chance to digest the food. Digestion is a lot of physical activity – not what you want to be doing while you sleep! Ideally you should give your body a 12-hour break between dinner and breakfast.
3. Shut down electronics 30 minutes before bedtime. Turn off the TV, the laptop, the tablet, the Xbox, your smartphone… did I miss anything? According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), all of these devices can hinder your ability to sleep. One reason, explains the NSF, is that these devices emit blue light, “which our brains interpret as daylight. Blue light actually suppresses melatonin, a hormone that supports circadian rhythm and that should begin to increase when you are preparing for sleep.” So when you’re on your tablet or phone at night, your brain thinks it’s daytime, making it harder to fall asleep.
4. Set your smartphone to the “do not disturb” setting. In addition to the blue light, sending nighttime emails, scrolling through Facebook or posting on Instagram right before bedtime might be stressing you out or making your mind race. You’re not alone – NSF research shows that 71 percent of people sleep either holding their smartphone (!), having it in bed with them, or having it on their nightstand. Instead, place your smartphone where it is not within arm’s reach, and set it on airplane mode or “do not disturb” for the seven to eight hours of sleep you should be getting. Note: if you don’t want to miss a call from certain people – say you have elderly parents or kids at college -- you can set your smartphone to allow calls and texts from select contacts. Everything else can wait until morning!
5. Create a relaxing ritual. Very few people fall asleep the minute their head hits the pillow. Instead, you may want to create some rituals that tell your body you’re shutting down for the night. Try soaking in a warm bath with organic lavender essential oil. You can also listen to some relaxing music or do some deep breathing, restorative yoga, and/or meditation. My favorite meditation app is Headspace, and it’s free. Try the 10-minute meditations to help you relax before bedtime.
6. Dark = Deep. How many little electronic lights are glowing in your bedroom once the lamps and overhead lights are off? The darker you can make your room, the more restorative your sleep can be, because the darkness releases the sleep hormone, melatonin. Cover up those little lights with black electric tape or turn them face down or toward the wall. You might also try light-blocking curtains if light streams in from outside.
7. Help your hormones with a sleep mask. If your room is still bright, try wearing a sleep mask. It creates the total darkness our bodies need to release melatonin and get a healthier night’s sleep. I always recommend the softest sleep mask you can find, with natural fibers. It may not be attractive, but if it helps you sleep, you will feel and look your best with more energy. And that’s a beautiful thing!
I’d love to hear how your sleep improves with these tips, and which ones are most helpful to you. Feel free to share on my Facebook page – just not right before bedtime ;-). Sending you sweet dreams!
Water. We can't live without it. Literally. It comprises about 70% of adult body weight and even more for infants and children. Essential to every cell in the body, water helps to . . .
- maintain normal temperature through sweating and respiration
- regulate thirst and appetite
- transport nutrients in the bloodstream
- remove waste and toxins through urination, perspiration, and bowel movements
- reduce friction in joints and facilitate muscle contraction
- balance pH level (acid and alkaline)
- nourish the skin
- prevent headaches
8 x 8: Is That Really Enough Water For You?
Everyone's hydration needs are different, depending upon age, gender, activity level, body composition, and overall health. It's more myth than scientific fact that healthy people should drink 8 cups x 8 ounces of water daily. A better estimate is your body weight: Drink one-half ( ½) your weight in ounces of water. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, drink 75 ounces of water each day.
Your Body Needs More Water When You:
- are in hot, dry climates or at high altitudes
- drink caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea, or soda
- exercise or perform rigorous work
- take certain medications
- are pregnant or breastfeeding
- feel ill - running a fever, experiencing diarrhea or vomiting; during acute and chronic injury/illness
What Counts as Water?
Pure H2O is best. Caffeine-free tea, such as herbal, can count toward daily fluid intake. Coffee, caffeinated tea and fruit juice don't contribute to hydration. Food, such as celery, tomatoes, cucumber and melons, can contribute to daily water requirement depending on the proportion of fruits and vegetables in your diet.
Are You Dehydrated?
Dehydration means your body lacks the water required to function. Many people are in a chronic state of insufficient hydration. This can result in constipation, dry skin, inflammation, urinary tract infections, fatigue, and weight gain due to increased appetite.
Inadequate hydration makes it harder for the body to eliminate toxins and can quickly lead to acute dehydration, which is life threatening. Warning signs include dry mouth, irritability, headaches, and muscle cramps. If you don't receive fluids, you become dizzy, clumsy and exhausted. The vital organs start shutting down. Without water, you will enter into a coma and die.
You may have heard you can determine if you are dehydrated by the color of your urine. However, certain foods, supplements, and medications change urine color; it's not a reliable guide. Your health practitioner can help you determine the amount of water that's right for you.
Savvy Ways to Drink More Water:
- Use a "dedicated" glass or water bottle. Choose a style and size that feels right to you. Keep it by your side. Sip throughout the day.
- Start early. Shoot for drinking the bulk of your water before 2 or 3 pm to avoid waking up during the night to pee.
- Add a twist. Embellish water with slices of orange, lemon, lime or even cucumber.
- Get fizzy. Bubbly spring water hits the spot on a hot day. Look for carbonated water without added sweetener and add a few drops of liquid stevia if you like. Search online for recipes for making your own carbonated ginger or lemon-lime beverages.
- Enjoy a Virgin Raspberry Mojito or Virgin Sangria. Pour water over fresh (or frozen) citrus, melon, blueberries or strawberries. Chill for a few hours. The water extracts some of the flavor, nutrients and color. Try with mixed fruits or carbonated water for a delicately sweetened, beautiful refreshment.
The Tough Part -- Step 1: Pitch and Toss
If you were going to eat those last few pretzels, you would have by now. Or that last scoop of freezer-burned ice cream. Or that pumpkin pie filling from two Thanksgivings ago. Your pantry, fridge and freezer are not repositories for forgotten foods. Start your spring-cleaning by tossing anything that’s beyond its expiration date. Next, throw away anything that’s been in a storage container all winter. And if you’re taking this time to clean up your daily diet, toss out the temptation. Remember my favorite healthy eating tip: you can’t eat it if it’s not there. Start from the top shelf to the bottom, tossing as you go – in the pantry, the refrigerator and the freezer. If you feel as if you’re being wasteful, consider that you’re actually investing in putting your health first.
The Fun Part – Step 2: Shop, Stock & Splurge
Shop: Two things to know before you go -- don’t shop on an empty stomach, and don’t shop without a list. The best list starts with meal planning, so look ahead and plan your meals for the next few days or even a week. Review the recipes and only put on your list the ingredients you’ll need.
Stock up on the good stuff. Organic foods I always have on hand include:
- pre-cut veggies
- organic, pasture-raised eggs
- coconut/almond/hemp/flax milk
- organic, pasture-raised/grass-fed meats and poultry
- almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts
- extra virgin olive oil
- apple cider vinegar
- bananas (which I peal, break in half and freeze when they start to over ripen, then I use them in my morning smoothies. You can do the same with avocado!)
- Pre-cut and pre-washed veggies really help reduce my prep time. They may be a little more expensive, but you’re saving time and investing in your health!
Canned or jarred foods I always have on hand include:
- garbanzo beans/chickpeas
- coconut milk
- organic vegetable and chicken broth
- wild Alaskan salmon
- diced green chillies
- organic diced tomatoes (from glass jars only)
And speaking of saving time, don’t forget your friend the freezer. Many grocery and health food stores carry organic, non-GMO frozen fruits, vegetables, fish, grilled chicken, and more. Having these on hand really reduces your weekly shopping time, daily cooking time, and ensures you always have something healthy to eat.
Splurge: I found that having nice-looking, high-quality storage containers makes prepping and storing my food more convenient and a lot more fun. Plus, glass containers are non-toxic and I can see everything at a glance – no more guessing what’s wrapped in foil or stored in that cloudy container! In fact, put your healthy foods right up front on the shelves of your pantry, fridge and freezer so you “crowd-out” less healthier choices.
The Smart Part -- Step 3: Prep and Package
Preparing healthy and delicious meals in less time just takes a little scheduling. My favorite tip: cook once, eat twice (or more!) This is the best way I know to make mealtime more efficient. You might have heard this referred to as "batch cooking.” Here's what you do:
• Pick a cooking day. Instead of cooking every night, pick a day or two when you'll cook for the week ahead. Make it fun by turning on some good music and getting the whole family involved. Sure, you'll spend a little more time in the kitchen on your cooking day(s), but you'll save an extra few hours the other days (or evenings) of the week!
• Double or triple your recipes when cooking. When you prepare more than you need for one meal, you’ll have plenty to pack for lunches and future dinners. If you’ll have quinoa with a couple of meals this week, cook it in batches. If you bought a head of broccoli or cauliflower, roast or steam it all for the week and use half now, half later. Learn to love leftovers!
• Have it your way. Try different ways to eat the same meals; if you're grilling organic chicken breasts or grass-fed meats, make extra to chop and include in salads or soups. If you're cooking quinoa, make extra and the next day, add some veggies, olive oil and vinegar for a quinoa-based salad – served warm or cold.
• Prepare for the next day tonight. If you pack a lunch, select your favorite mix of leftovers the night before, and pack it in an insulated lunch box. Include everything you'll need to enjoy the meal at work, school, or wherever you'll be for lunch. Don’t forget to grab your lunch box before you head out in the morning!
• Package well. Remember the high-quality storage containers you bought? Use them to store your pre-cut veggies, fruits and leftovers in single-serving or family-sized portions, then freeze or refrigerate them. When you’re ready to prepare a meal, just take out the number of containers you need for the number of people eating with you, warm them up and serve!
When you cook in batches, you’ll begin to find your own favorite tips and short cuts. My clients who have tried this approach say it’s made their lives so much easier!
March is National Women's History Month and I am so lucky to work in a field where women are leading the charge! There are so many amazing women at the forefront of the nutrition and natural medicine world so this month I want to honor a few of them who have influenced and inspired me and who are sharing their passion and talent to make the world a better place.
I met Brooke when she was in medical school and working as a personal trainer. She helped me discover my love for fitness and nutrition and is one of the people who inspired me to go back to school. She is a wonderful friend, a devoted mom and a brilliant doctor whose heart is as beautiful as she is. You can find her practicing Naturopathic Medicine at the ProClub in Bellevue, WA.
This woman is the epitome of brilliant but she's also compassionate, humble, intuitive and beautiful, inside and out. I have the honor of working with Nicki at Sophia Health Institute where I see her transforming the lives of people who have struggled with chronic illness for decades. She has a true "whole person" approach and she has taught me SO SO much about nutrition. She inspires me to continue learning and growing so I can help people reclaim their health by using food as medicine.
Flo Fleming, LMP, LE
I know it's cliche to feature my mom, but honestly, she is one incredible woman! My mom raised me as a single parent and her life was challenging to say the least. But she busted her butt to give me the best life and guidance possible, and I wasn't the only kid she raised either. I've had several friends both in childhood and as an adult who did not have a strong female presence in their lives, including my two half sisters, who she embraced as her own and supported emotionally and spiritually in any way she could. As a licensed massage therapist and esthetician she introduced me to the world of natural health and encouraged me to pursue my passions. She is a true woman of God whose love and generosity is apparent to everyone who knows her and I am incredibly blessed to have a mother who I adore, both as a parent and as a friend.
Cassandra Sternthall, MFT
Cassie is a Marriage and Family Therapist, EMDR practitioner, a mom, a grandma, a standup paddler and an all-around wonderful person. She has been an influence in my life since I was about 14 when I originally went to see her as a therapist. She guided and supported me through some tough times and has remained a close friend through my adult life, always encouraging me to be my best self. Sometimes in life we are blessed to meet people who become our "chosen family" and she is definitely one of those people.
Ellen may not be in the natural health field but she is a wellness enthusiast and one of my favorite human beings on earth. Ellen is definitely one of my "chosen family" and her wisdom, compassion and creativity know no bounds. She is one of those people who lights up a room with her infectious laugh and witty humor. She's one of those people you just want to be around all the time, and she always inspires me to try new things and challenge myself in new ways. Her support and encouragement has helped me push to pursue my dreams, both personal and professional and I am so incredibly lucky to have her in my life.
Teachers and Icons
I also want to give a shout out to the women below who although I don't know them personally, have been influential in my personal and professional development. Their grace and wisdom are a constant source of encouragement and they inspire me to strive for excellence, be my best self and help others to do the same.
- Chalene Johnson - My Fitness and Mindset Guru
- Andrea Nakayama - Clinical Nutritionist and Educator Extraordinaire
- Dr. Sarah Gottfried - Harvard Trained Hormone Expert and Empowerer of Women
- Geneen Roth - Helping Women Create Healthy Relationships with Food and Their Bodies
- Gabrielle Reece - Athlete, Amazon, and All-Around Badass
- Dr. Terry Wahls - MS Conqueror, Nutrition Crusader
- Dr. Amy Myers - Gut Health Expert and Functional Medicine Diva
I encourage you to reach out to the women who have shaped, inspired and supported you to let them know how much they mean to you. We often wait too long to express our gratitude to those who enrich our lives the most, and those people are usually the ones who give more than they get back and may not know how important they have been to us. Women do indeed hold up the sky and we need to hold one another up as well.
Cauliflower may not have been your first favorite vegetable, but it may become the star of your kitchen after you learn more about its remarkable profile of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. With its many nutritional benefits, cauliflower is officially a Superfood in addition to being incredibly versatile.
▪ Cauliflower is rich in healthy vitamins and minerals, including beta-carotene, lutein, and vitamins C, E, and K; and folate.
▪ One serving of cauliflower contains 75 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C.
▪ Cauliflower is a good source of choline, a B vitamin that aids in brain development and may improve cognitive abilities and prevent against age-related memory loss.
▪ Cauliflower is a powerful cancer-fighting food. It contains sulfur-containing chemicals called glucosinolates. During digestion, glucosinolates form the compounds indoles and isothiocyanates. According to the National Cancer Institute, indoles and isothiocyanates (in laboratory tests) have been found to inhibit the development of cancer, including breast, colon, lung, stomach, and bladder cancer.
▪ These compounds also have antiviral, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects. (See my recipe that combines cauliflower with turmeric to reduce inflammation!)
▪ Cauliflower is a great source of good fiber – aiding digestion and helping you feel fuller, longer.
▪ Choose a head of cauliflower that’s firm and creamy white – no brown or yellow spots. Heads with green leaves typically indicate that they are fresh.
Cauliflower is also an incredibly versatile veggie and makes a delicious substitute for several empty calorie foods. Instead of mashed potatoes, try making Truffled Cauliflower Mash. Need a comfort food fix? How about making some Cauliflower Shepherd's Pie. You can pulse cauliflower florets in a food processor into small rice sized bits and use it in place of rice or quinoa, and you can even make pizza crust with it. I personally love it simply steamed and drizzled with good extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice and sea salt.
If you want a super-versatile veggie that’s fights cancer and memory loss; that’s an anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antibacterial; that aids digestion, detoxification and brain health – then look no further than the mighty cauliflower!
Do you enjoy a no-sugar-added soda with dinner every night? What about a low-sugar, high protein ‘nutrition bar' after a workout? At the office, are you mindlessly grazing through the low-sugar or no-sugar added cookies? Do you read food labels to see where on the ingredient list sugars are hidden? If you're regularly drawn to sweets- or foods laden with artificial sweeteners-try going without them for a few days and see what happens. Are you having headaches, irritability, cravings, and symptoms that could only be described as withdrawal? Do you find yourself so uncomfortable that you're drawn right back to those same foods? You could be trapped in the vicious cycle of sugar addiction!
Sugar is a carbohydrate, one of the major nutrient groups, but it doesn't provide vitamins, minerals, or even fiber to our diet. Still, it's added to an array of foods, including ketchup, yogurt, cereal, canned soup, some lunch meats, salad dressing, condiments, bread, and so much more. While we require some sugar (glucose) in order to function property, all of this added sugar is harmful to our system.
Sugar's Addictive Qualities
When we ingest sugar, our body generates a response similar to that seen in addictions, which is why we develop cravings for more. It's often called the cocaine of dietary additives and recent studies have shown it to be 8 times more addictive than actual cocaine. Crazy right?
Here's how it works: Sugar -- whether natural, processed or artificial -- enters the bloodstream quickly, causing your blood sugar level to spike. The body recognizes this imbalance and acts to bring blood sugar back to normal. Insulin, a hormone, pushes glucose into the cells to be used for energy. But if you eat a lot of sugar, the body can't keep up. Insulin has to work harder and the body overcompensates, causing blood sugar to drop too low - and your brain reacts. You feel depleted, irritable, and crave more sugar.
Sugar by Any Other Name
Sugar names you might recognize are sucrose (table sugar), fructose (found in fruits, some root veggies, and honey), and lactose (milk sugar). Naturally occurring sugar in fruit and vegetables has a place in a balanced diet. But added sugar, artificial sweetener, and processed ‘natural' sugar like high fructose corn syrup are detrimental to your health.
Eliminate Unhealthy Sugar From Your Diet
Learn where Sugar Hides. On ingredient lists, any words that ends in -ose are sugars. If they're among the first five items, walk away from it. If sugar is one of the last ingredients on the list, that's a better choice.
Avoid the Fake Stuff. Products containing artificial sweeteners are not a healthy alternative since these sweeteners are highly toxic and arguable more addictive than real sugar. Diet soda, 'fat free' and 'sugar free' candy and cookies are associated with weight gain and cravings, creating a cycle of addiction.
Sip with Awareness. A single can of soda, bottle of juice, flavored water, or Gatorade typically contains nine or more teaspoons of sugar. Four grams of sugar is a teaspoon so keep that in mind when reading nutrition labels.
Make Sweet Substitutions. Look for snacks labeled 'no added sugar' or 'unsweetened.' Use canned foods packed in water instead of juice or syrup. When baking, swap table sugar with stevia, monk fruit, applesauce, date paste, or molasses. Adding cinnamon or cacao powder is a great way to sprinkle flavor onto yogurt, oatmeal, or coffee. Opt for honey, maple syrup or coconut palm sugar over other processed sugars.
Reprogram your taste for sugar slowly. If you put two sugar packets in your coffee, cut back in half-packet increments and keep the sugar bowl off the kitchen table. Small steps add up to sweet success!
Naturally sweet cinnamon (cinnamomum verum) revives our senses with its wonderful aroma and can boost our health with its medicinal properties. Cinnamon was first used in China (2700 B.C.) to treat fever, digestive, and menstrual problems, and Indian healers used cinnamon to treat gastrointestinal complaints, as well as sore throat and cough. Today, modern herbalists continue to use the herb for digestive issues, chest congestion and colds/flu, but they've also discovered it helps ease arthritis pain, as well as manage blood sugar levels.
Because cinnamon reduces the rate at which glucose enters the bloodstream, it can help prevent blood sugar spikes. This is hopeful news for some people with Type 2 diabetes, but more studies need to be done around this issue. It appears that cinnamon may work better in people whose diabetes is poorly managed as compared to those who have good management of their condition. As a medicinal supplement, different people respond to different amounts -- it's not just a matter of sprinkling a teaspoon on your oatmeal. Cinnamon may also change the way some medications work, so it's important to talk to your doc before adding cinnamon to your supplement regimen.
Cinnamon is available ground, in capsule form, and as a tea and there are many species of cinnamon. Be aware that typical grocery store cinnamon (‘the cassia cinnamons') contains coumarin, which, in high amounts, can be harmful to the liver. Ceylon Cinnamon has lower levels of coumarin, which makes it a better choice for most people, and regardless of species, I recommend buying organic cinnamon only.
If you're someone like me who likes some sweetness in their coffee or tea, try using less sugar and adding some cinnamon. You may be surprised at how satisfying and naturally sweet it it.
- Cleveland Clinic: Cinnamon. Accessed 2 Dec 2016: http://www.clevelandclinicwellness.com/Features/Pages/cinnamon-pro-con.aspx
- Examine.com: Cinnamon Essential Benefits, Effects & Information. Accessed 2 Dec 2016: https://examine.com/supplements/cinnamon/
- World's Healthiest Foods: Cinnamon (ground) http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?dbid=68&tname=foodspice
- Johannes, L. Little bit of Spice for Health, but Which One? The Wall Street Journal (online, 2014, Oct.) Accessed 4 Dec 2016: http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702303376904579135502891970942
- Hlebowicz, J. et al., 'Effect of cinnamon on postprandial blood glucose, gastric emptying, and satiety in healthy subjects.' Am J Clin Nutr. (2007 Jun) 85:6,1552-6. Accessed 4 Dec 2016: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/85/6/1552.long (full text)
- Qin B, Nagasaki M, Ren M, et al., 'Cinnamon extract prevents the insulin resistance induced by a high-fructose diet.' Horm Metab Res.(2004 Feb), 36:2:119-25.. PMID:15002064. Accessed 4 Dec 2016: http://beauty-review.nl/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Cinnamon-extract-prevents-the-insulin-resistance-induced-by-a-high-fructose-diet.pdf (full text)
- Khan A., Safdar M., Ali Khan M., et al., 'Cinnamon improves glucose and lipids of people with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. (2003 Dec) 26(12) 3215-8. Accessed 4 Dec 2016: http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/26/12/3215
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Athleta Yoga Mat Tote $48 - This bag makes you look chic even when you're all sweaty after yoga.
Suji Red Lip Whip & Lip Buff Duo $37 - I am OBSESSED with Seattle-based Kari Gran's Lip Whips and you will be too. This gorgeous, non-toxic, moisturizing red balm looks fab on everyone and can be applied to be sheer or bold depending on your mood.
Herbivore Botanicals Bath Salts Set $32 - This is a great gift for bath lovers. They smell divine and are non-toxic of course!
Eco Travel Mat & Towel by Kriya Veda $58 - This ultra-lightweight travel mat fits into a tote, a fitness bag, or suitcase and doubles as a yoga towel. It's also washable, PVC free, Latex free, Rubber free, non-toxic, hypoallergenic, and recyclable.
HotLogic Mini $49.95 - This fully automatic personal portable electric oven perfectly heats or cooks your meal so you don't have to nuke all the nutrition out of your food or eat a cold salad every day for lunch. Fits a glass container up to 8.75″W x 6.75″L x 2.5″H.
Liver Cleanse/ Daily Green Detoxifier by Anima Mundi Herbals $25 - This nutrient-dense, therapeutic green superfood supports your liver and gall bladder, helps jumpstart digestion, and contains tons of antioxidants known to promote healthy detox and organ function.
Certified Reconditioned Next Generation Vitamix $349 - Don't let the word "reconditioned" deter you... these blenders are just as good as the standard ones but without as hefty a price tag, and they also come with a 5-year warranty if you're the nervous type. I got my first Vitamix last year and I can't believe how much time and effort I wasted on crappy blenders. And yes, it's OK to give your wife a blender if its this amazing!