The Benefits of Infused Water

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Everyone knows they need to be drinking more water.  

In fact, when I ask potential clients what the number one change is that they already know they should make, the answer is usually, "I know I need to drink more water."  This is also sometimes followed up with, "But I don't reallylike water!" Let me introduce you to the concept of infused water.

Infused Water
 

THE BASICS

  • Infused water is a combination of fruits, herbs and water
  • Gentle daily detox 
  • Delicious substitute for soda or other sugary drinks, which also helps to cut caloric intake if you're trying to lose weight
  • Drink in the morning before your coffee
  • There is no right or wrong way to infuse water

SIMPLE GUIDELINES

  • Use a mason jar or a simple water pitcher designed specifically to infuse water.  Visit my store to see which pitcher I use. 
  • Place fruit mixture and water in container the night before and place in refrigerator overnight. 
  • Your water is ready to drink upon waking.
  • This is subjective, but you can choose to use re-use the same mixture of fruits and herbs throughout the day by continually adding more water.

HEALTH BENEFITS

  • Depending on the fruits and herbs used here are some of the health benefits associated with drinking infused water:
    • gently detoxes liver
    • flushes toxins
    • improves skin appearance
    • helps immunity
    • aids digestion
    • fights inflammation
    • can aid in weight loss
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FRUITS & HERBS

  • Any combination of fruits and herbs can be used, but here are some of my favorite:
    • Citrus fruits (with or without the rind)
    • Berries
    • Cucumber
    • Watermelon
    • Culinary herbs (mint, rosemary, thyme, basil, tarragon)

Try whatever you have on hand and make this a daily practice to reap the full health benefits!  Download your free printable, which includes some of my favorite combinations + specific health benefits for certain foods.  Hang it on your fridge for daily inspiration!  

Are You Getting the Results You Need?

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Are you getting the results you need?

There's a lot that holds true to the saying, "You don't know what you don't know." A decade ago I knew very little about the impact that diet and lifestyle could have on overall health. I was working 40 hours a week and struggling every single day to wake up and get out the door. I was young but dealing with arthritic joint pain, muscle pain, chronic rashes (including a butterfly rash that would appear across my face) and utter exhaustion. I suffered from brain fog and lack of clarity so it took me three times as long as it should have to complete tasks. I would come home from work and some days I would fall asleep on my couch with my coat and shoes still on because my body was shutting down and there wasn't a thing I could do about it. 

I was scared and the handful of specialists I saw didn't have any answers for me.

My choices were to try some medication that may or may not work (in my opinion, the side effects were not worth the risk of a maybe), come back and get reevaluated when my situation got worse, or go see a counselor (because obviously I was making some of this stuff up).

I knew there had to be a better way.

Back then health coaches were almost unheard of, so, I did what everyone did. I Google'd my symptoms over and over again until I found information that resonated with me. I stumbled across the works of Dr. Andrew Weil, Dr. Mark Hyman, and T. Colin Campbell. I drank in everything they said and started to make small shifts in my perspective and lifestyle. I read their books, I watched documentaries and I started talking to people about what I was learning.

I was so inspired by my new knowledge of functional medicine and the improvements I felt in my own life, that I enrolled at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition to learn how to completely embody a more natural approach to healing.

The funny thing is this: according to the traditional lab ranges of the blood work I had done, all my results were normal so no one took me very seriously. When I had my blood work evaluated from a functional perspective (see more info on that below), my ranges were not optimal at all and I had antibodies present. Today, I function symptom free most every single day with hypothyroidism and an autoimmune condition that, if not for changing my diet and lifestyle, I would still be suffering instead of thriving.

One lesson learned from my experience is that talking about your symptoms will only get you so far. First, the proper blood work needs to be ordered. Then, the blood work needs to be evaluated from a functional perspective, not just through the traditional lab ranges and here's why: you don't know what you don't know. The traditional lab ranges that you're up against include results from a group of average people whereas the functional lab range, a much narrower lens, sets you up against a result of healthy people functioning at an optimal level - which is what we all want. You'll receive more answers because patterns and deficiencies will be caught because the data will be interpreted differently. The more common broad interpretation of your blood work could be the reason you aren't seeing the results you want. The first is average range, the second is a healthy range. If you want to know how to get better using something concrete - the data of your blood work - find a functional minded practitioner who can help you interpret the results. Trained by a functional diagnostics program that trains naturopathic doctors and functional medicine doctors, I've also recently completed this same coursework and have added Functional Blood Chemistry Analysis to my list of services so that I can help people get answers.

Do you have a story like mine? I'd love to hear about it!

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Layered Peanut Butter Cups

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Layered Peanut Butter Cups

Serves 12


INGREDIENTS FOR BASE

1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup melted coconut oil 1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. maple syrup
2 tbsp. coconut flour

INSTRUCTIONS FOR BASE

  1. Line 12 spots in the mini muffin tin with muffin liners.

  2. Combine all the base ingredients together with a whisk and pour evenly into the muffin liners.

  3. Place into the freezer for 1-2 hours or until completely hardened.

INGREDIENTS FOR TOP

3 tbsp. coconut cream
1 tbsp. melted coconut oil

1 tbsp. maple syrup

pink Himalayan Salt

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Whisk the top ingredients together and place evenly over the frozen base. Sprinkle with the pink salt and place back into the freezer for 1-2 hours until completely hardened.

  2. Remove from freezer and enjoy! Keep any extras stored in the freezer.

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Natural Sports Drink Alternative

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In college, I went on a full scholarship to run track at Bucknell University and I think I drank my weight in Gatorade every weekend there was an invitational.  Blue Frost, or something like that, was my favorite and it was one of my “must-haves” for race day.  Oh boy, if I knew then what I know now…that Gatorade was doing me more harm than good…I would have stayed away from it and probably would have run faster and felt stronger as a consequence.  

I recently had the privilege to speak to a group of 7th grade basketball student-athletes and I shared my collegiate experience as well as healthier sports drink alternatives (the ones I wish I knew about).  

You may be wondering why it even matters.  

The problem is that Gatorade is flooded with sugar.  

Here is the nutritional label from the Blue Frost Gatorade that I used to consume on a regular basis.  There are 34 grams of sugar in one 20 ounce bottle.  Let’s do the math and convert it into something a bit more recognizable.  

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There are 4 grams of sugar in each teaspoon of sugar. 

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34 grams / 4 grams = 8.5 teaspoons 

**Take a pause and visualize that for a second.  Drinking 8.5 teaspoons of sugar.**

Even the ingredient list highlights sugar and dextrose (hidden form of sugar) as its main ingredients.  

What we know now is that sugar - specifically refined sugar - will drain energy, wreak havoc on the liver, weaken the immune system and contribute to chronic inflammation.  This is not the best source of fuel for an athlete or anyone, really.  

However, dehydration is a very real concern and athletics and hydration go hand in hand.  If you eat too much sugar, you’ll feel low energy, but at the same time if you feel dehydrated, you’ll also feel low energy.  As an athlete, I was sure to drink sports drinks before my races and lots of water to recover afterwards so I don’t believe I was dehydrated, but I was drinking an inefficient sports drink.

The star of this new and improved energy drink is coconut water. 

Coconut water has naturally occurring electrolytes, vitamin C, B vitamins and protein - it’s the perfect sports drink alternative and I will also give this to my kids when they are sick instead of Pedialyte. 

Coconut Water Sports Drink

In a pint size mason jar (with a lid), mix together the following:

1 cup coconut water

Juice of one lemon

Juice of one lime

1 tsp. maple syrup

1 cup filtered water

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 One of the 7th grade basketball players all ready to go for game day with her new and improved sports drink!

One of the 7th grade basketball players all ready to go for game day with her new and improved sports drink!

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Have you tried coconut water before?  What are your thoughts?

Acorn Squash Bowls w/ Quinoa, Apple & Kale

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Acorn Squash Bowls w/Quinoa, Apple & Kale

You can also view my Acorn Squash Bowls on the cover of edible Allegheny and on their website here along with three other of my favorite holiday recipes! 

Have you ever tried making acorn squash bowls before?  What are your favorite ingredients to use for the filling?  

I would love to connect with you! Email me or say hello below!

xoxo,

Stephanie

{Guest Post} Overcome Addiction With Exercise

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Here is How Making Exercise Part of Your Lifestyle Helps You Overcome Addiction

By: Jennifer Scott

Jennifer Scott shares stories about the ups and downs of her anxiety and depression at SpiritFinder. She runs SpiritFinder to provide information for people with mental illness.

Improving your physical fitness can be the key to your recovery from addiction.  A good workout routine can improve how you feel and help you cope.  Here are some of the ways taking care of your body can restore you physically and mentally.

Working out is good for what ails you

We’ve all heard that exercise is good for your body, but you may be surprised to find that working out can also benefit your mind.  Some studies show that aerobic exercises like walking, swimming, gardening and dancing reduce anxiety and depression.  

There are many benefits in making exercise part of your lifestyle.  Participating in a regular exercise routine can:

  • Help you sleep better
  • Relieve your stress
  • Increase your energy and stamina 
  • Put you in a better mood
  • Make you feel more alert
  • Help you lose weight
  • Reduce cholesterol and improve cardiovascular health
  • Improve your sex drive

Exercise can help you cope

Recovering addicts may have even more reasons to start exercising.  According to studies cited by CNN, exercise increases levels of a chemical in the brain called dopamine.  Dopamine can give you a healthy version of the “high” sensation you may feel you are missing.  Additionally, a new workout routine can help you give up old social networks that may be stumbling blocks.  Exercising can help redefine your social life by filling time, by expending energy, and by connecting you with other people who share your new hobby.  In these ways, exercise provides you with a new coping mechanism, replacing an unhealthy one with a healthy one. 

Alternative options for coping

Many lifestyle changes can benefit your mind and your body and provide you with positive coping mechanisms.  Aside from typical workouts involving weights and gym memberships, here are some other options to consider:

  • Swimming.  Swimming is often touted as a low-impact sport that is easier on your joints than land pursuits such as jogging and walking.  According to Swimming World Magazine there are many other reasons you should swim.  Swimming can help you set goals, increase your team-building skills, and improve your social life and your self-confidence.  It’s an exercise for people of all ages, and you can enjoy it alone or in groups.
  • Meditation.  Some research suggests that spending as little as twenty-five minutes a day focused on your surroundings and concentrating on your breathing can alleviate pain, anxiety and depression.  You can also benefit by taking “purposeful pauses” throughout your day, making the most of routine moments.  By savoring the sensations of mundane tasks like brushing your teeth, you can alleviate worries and feel more relaxed.  
  • Yoga.  Yoga is receiving increasing attention for its physical and mental health benefits.  Research shows that yoga can reduce your stress, put you in a better mood, lower depression and anxiety, and increase your energy.  Harvard University even goes so far as to say that “the scientific study of yoga demonstrates that mental and physical health are not just closely allied, but are essentially equivalent,” and that “evidence is growing that yoga practice is a relatively low-risk, high-yield approach to improving overall health.”

Good for your body, your mind, and your recovery

There are many choices you can make that will improve your physical and mental well-being while you are recovering from addiction.  By developing a workout routine, you can reduce anxiety and depression, improve your fitness level and give yourself a healthy coping mechanism.  Similarly, you can incorporate an alternative coping method that benefits you physically and mentally such as swimming, meditation or yoga.  Whatever option you choose, you’ll find that taking care of your body and taking care of your mind will help you in your recovery.

Do you suffer from any addictions?  What do you do to cope with this issue?

Self-Care Tips for Valentine's Day

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Valentine’s Day is great day to reset New Year’s goals or resolutions that have fallen off in an act of self-love.  Our attention is usually on others this day, but take a few moments to reset some self-care intentions to keep yourself on track and focused.  Remind yourself about what your new goals were going into this year and think about why you made those goals a priority.  

Here are some self-care ideas for you to start today to incorporate into your daily or weekly routines to support your wellness journey!

Try a Detox Bath for Self-Care. Although there are many ways to detoxify your body, detox baths are one of the most relaxing and effective ways to do it. Detox baths help remove toxins through the pores of your skin and ease the burden on the liver. • 2 cups epsom salt, 1 cup baking soda, 8 drops lavender EO 

Make a sugar scrub. This is one of my favorite things to use on dry hands in the winter and year round in the shower. I keep small jars at the sinks in my home and a large container in the shower. A sugar scrub will exfoliate and moisturize at the same time leaving your skin feeling super soft and hydrated. Making it homemade will save you money, too! • 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup sweet almond oil, 10 drops lavender EO, 10 drops orange EO

Pay attention to your nails • Nail Whitener Soak - Combine 4 tbsp. of lemon juice with 3 tbsp. warm water in a glass bowl. Soak nails for ten minutes or until nails have whitened, rinse well then apply a good cuticle oil or Vitamin E. 

Olive Oil Remedy - Soak nails in olive oil for up to 20 minutes, which is extremely moisturizing and easily absorbed. This is a great practice to start, especially during the winter time! If I don’t have the 20 minutes, I will also rub some coconut oil or olive oil on my nails as I’m winding down for the night. This is a great weekly ritual! 

Quiet Time w/ Herbal Tea • Allow yourself to take a moment. Turn off ALL electronics, dim your lights and just be present. Sit on the floor, your bed, the couch, wherever, but just sit and calm your mind. First, set your tea up beside you, close your eyes and then slowly inhale and exhale three or four really deep breaths. Keep your eyes closed and pray, meditate, or think of all the ways you are blessed. When you’re finished, open your eyes and drink your tea while remaining in this quiet, blissful state. Simple, but powerful. Include herbal teas like chamomile, mint, raspberry leaf, lavender, and lemon balm

Hot Towel Scrub • Helps with relaxation, circulation, and detoxification • Helps to break down cellulite • How it works: take a washcloth and run it under hot water, wring it out, then rub your entire body for 5-10 minutes • It’s invigorating if you do it in the morning & relaxing if you do it at night.  You can also use a dry brush and detox right before jumping in the shower. 

What are you doing today for self-love?

Happy Valentine's Day!

xoxo,

Stephanie

Healthy Gingersnap Cookies

Golden Milk w/ MCT Oil & Anise Pods

Sweet Potato Chili Boats

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Sweet Potato Chili Boats

Homemade Taco and Chili Seasoning

Prep Time: 5 minutes Ingredients:

2 tbsp. chili powder

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. onion powder

1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

¼ tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)

1 tsp. dried oregano

2 tsp. paprika

6 tbsp. ground cumin

4 tsp. salt

3 tsp. black pepper

Directions: Mix everything in a bowl and then store in an airtight container.

Notes: Use 1.5 tbsp. of seasoning for every 1 pound of meat.

 

Make the sweet potatoes up to 3-4 days ahead of time if desired. First, rinse and poke each potato with a knife or fork to allow steam to escape. Next, wrap each rinsed (but not dried - some moisture is needed for the steam) sweet potato into a square of aluminum foil. Wrap tightly to prevent juice from seeping out then place in a crockpot and cook on high for 4-6 hours. Store in refrigerator until needed.