health

First Steps to Health: Shrink the Change

First steps can be tough. 

My boy starts Kindergarten in a few days, my baby boy has his first steps completely behind him and I am learning how to balance a completely different life than the one I thought I would have.  First steps can be scary, will test your limits, but can be completely exciting because change is happening and change = growth.

When we tackle resolutions or changes aimed at making ourselves better, many times it can be extremely overwhelming.  Have you ever tried to start a meditation practice, exercise regiment, clean eating schedule, etc., just to find out that you can't stick with it?  

I want to give you a simple strategy that will increase your success.  It's called "Shrinking the Change".

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We now know that about 85% of chronic diseases don't stem from genetics or environmental impacts but from behavior.  And behavior, like willpower, works like the rest of your body.  You wake up feeling rested and refreshed (hopefully) and over the course of the day, you get tired and need more rest at night to keep going.  Willpower is the same way.  It can diminish and be harder to use the more you have to use it.  It's a limited resource.  Building habits instead of relying solely on willpower will help you become more successful in behavioral change.  And the best way to do this is by shrinking the change.  It's like climbing a mountain.  If you want to get to the top, you don't stare at the peak the entire time, you focus on the next step in front of you and over time, the compounded effect allows you to reach your goal.  

So when you want to make a change, start out so ridiculously small that willpower isn't even an issue.  

The action also has to be measurable and doable for it to be attainable.  Here are some options using the example we used earlier:

If you want to start a meditation practice, download the Headspace app and try it out at least twice over the next week.  
If you want to exercise more, make it a point to take a 30-minute walk with a friend at least one time over the next three days.
If you want to improve your eating habits, try just one new recipe per week.  Use Pinterest boards (or a folder for printed recipes) to keep your favorites organized.  

So what is the behavior you'd like to change?  

What is the first small, doable step that you can do to shrink the change and make this goal very attainable?

Comment below and share your plan with me and I can help you brainstorm additional steps moving forward.  

Cheers to first steps!

Upgrade Your Thanksgiving Traditions

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Go ahead, be a rebel.  Instead of serving the traditional Thanksgiving meal, why not switch things up a bit this year?  While searching for my own replacement dishes, I thought it would be helpful to share with you all the recipes that have made my personal short list.  Consider swapping mashed white potatoes with one of the healthier sweet potato versions below or trade the green bean casserole (that nobody eats anyway) with some sauteéd sesame green beans.  A mission I’ve been on this year is to find a healthier option for cranberry salad and I think I’ve found it with the mandarin-cranberry relish by Nourished Kitchen.  It looks amazing and I can't wait to try it!  Don't feel the need to break tradition completely, though.  I mean you should probably still serve a gorgeous farm raised turkey (unless all your guests are vegetarians or vegans), but consider getting a smaller bird and pairing it with something plant-based like Acorn Squash Roasted with Walnuts and Cranberries (note: I would sub in coconut palm sugar and use olive oil instead of the butter).  There are many options available, but you should start your planning now if you’ve not done so.  A quick Google search revealed most of these awesome alternatives so check these out first and then take a few minutes to peruse yourself.  I know I’ll be serving my Red Kuri Squash Pie with Savory Crust for dessert and I encourage you to try it out, too.  For family gatherings, I use a traditional crust recipe using real butter, so if you are sensitive to wheat and/or dairy, be sure to visit some of the links I have listed as dessert options below.

Also, for those of you who don’t have time to sit and plan a menu, check out all the resources I've listed below!  Many of these dishes will be good throughout the holiday season.

Aside from the actual dishes themselves,  I wanted to give you a few things to keep in mind as you’re planning and then ultimately enjoying your Thanksgiving meal:

-Find a turkey that is farm raised and free of antibiotics or hormones.  

-Stay away from recipes that use heavy cheeses or heaven forbid, marshmallows, for toppings.

-Avoid recipes that use more than ½ cup sugar or Jell-O and if possible replace all white sugar with a substitute like coconut palm sugar, which is low glycemic, or a Lakanto sweetener, which is derived from the monk fruit. 

-Opt for foods with color over foods that are white (white mashed potatoes, white bread, white pasta, etc.)

-Use healthy grains like quinoa, millet or amaranth as a salad or roasted squash topping.

-Twenty minutes before the main meal, drink some water to help boost metabolism and to help prevent overeating.  It's also best to drink your water before your meal as opposed to with your meal so that you don't disrupt stomach acid pH.

-Drizzle your salad with an organic, cold-pressed olive oil, balsamic vinegar and some salt and pepper instead of the more mainstream store bought dressings that often contain artificial flavorings and added sugar.

-I mentioned this above, but be mindful of color!  Get a broad spectrum of phytonutrients into your body just by eating lots and lots of colorful fruits and veggies.

-Fill half your plate with plant based foods.

-You don’t need to eat the whole bird.  Keep your meat portion in check by sizing it up against the palm of your hand, which is roughly six ounces.

-Don't forget to chew your food.  Give digestion a head start by putting your fork down between bites, enjoy your delicious food and your lovely guests and chew...and then chew some more ;)

-You don’t need stuffing AND a slice of bread.  Swap your stuffing for a wholesome grain and ditch the bread...especially if you plan on eating dessert.

-EAT DESSERT.  Don’t make yourself miserable by watching everyone else eat their pumpkin pie while you sulk in the corner taking a bite here and there off everyone’s plate.  Just be mindful and remember that it’s not dessert at Thanksgiving that determines a healthy lifestyle, it’s what you do every other day that does.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Butternut Squash, Brussel Sprouts and Bread Stuffing w/Apples from FOOD52
Butternut Squash, Brussel Sprouts and Bread Stuffing w/Apples from FOOD52
Mandarin & Cranberry Relish from Nourished Kitchen

Mandarin & Cranberry Relish from Nourished Kitchen

Polenta Crostini w/ Butternut Squash, Polenta & Sage from Edible Perspective
Polenta Crostini w/ Butternut Squash, Polenta & Sage from Edible Perspective
Red Kuri Squash Pie w/ Savory Crust
Red Kuri Squash Pie w/ Savory Crust

Your Morning Cup of Joe +5 Healthy Coffee Swaps

If you are one of the average Americans drinking 3.5 cups of caffeinated coffee a day, I’m pretty sure you’re going to tell me that you need your coffee, you can’t live without it and you feel awful if you don’t get it.  If you are one to say that you think coffee is “drug in a mug,” you probably have reason to believe through reading or through personal experience that you and coffee (or more accurately the caffeine) don’t mix.  

I get the question, “Is coffee bad for me?” all the time and to be honest I don’t have a straightforward answer because the reaction of caffeine in a person’s body is very bio-individual.  Personally, I am sensitive to caffeine and cannot drink coffee everyday because I have a hard time metabolizing it.  This is a very genetic tolerance. Some people can metabolize caffeine better than others based on the production of certain enzymes in the liver.  Therefore, I often resort to green teas or some of the other options on my list below.

However, most of the population can handle about two cups of coffee (caffeine) per day and then a smaller percentage of the population can drink coffee right before going to bed and still get a restful nights sleep. Again, this happens because we all metabolize caffeine differently from one another.  However, just because someone can metabolize caffeine doesn’t necessarily mean that they can tolerate caffeine.  Caffeine tolerance is basically how your body will respond to caffeine over a long period of time and there’s a lot of research backing both ends of the spectrum here.  

Yes, coffee in and of itself is a superfood.  It’s packed with phytonutrients and there are some health benefits associated with moderate consumption, like increased stamina during exercise, increased memory, reduced kidney stone risk, and reduced mouth and throat cancer risk, just to name a few.  

So based on this it sounds like we should be drinking coffee all day every day, right?  Not so fast.  There is something else going on in the body with two little tent shaped glands that sit on top of each kidney.  These are your adrenal glands and they are receiving the full brunt of your coffee habit in not so great a way.  Their job?  To release hormones so that we can decipher between the fight-or-flight response when we’re confronted with stress. The caffeine keeps the adrenal glands constantly “on alert” and overtime this can lead to exhaustion or adrenal fatigue.  Caffeine consumption also has a negative influence on cortisol.  It will throw the balance of cortisol that we have in our body all out of whack.  Naturally, cortisol levels are high in the morning to help us get moving to start the day, but people who have stressed adrenal glands are over producing cortisol so that it’s low instead of high in the morning.  What happens next?  You reach for your caffeine and an unhealthy cycle continues.  High cortisol levels will also cause you to overeat and deprive you of a good night’s sleep.

Some other negative side effects associated with the overuse of caffeine include headaches and migraines (even though the reverse of this is believed to be true), poor fertility in women, indigestion and insomnia (among others).  Coffee will also prevent some from getting their necessary water intake for the day and will create a very acidic environment inside us, which is never good for those of us wishing to have a hearty immune system.

If you are looking to reduce your caffeine consumption, my advice would be to drink two glasses of water in the morning before having your coffee.  This will help to jump start and flush out your system so that over time coffee may not be the first thing it needs.  

Check out these awesome healthy coffee swaps:

  1. Matcha Green Tea - I can’t get enough of this stuff. Matcha tea trumps other green teas because you are ingesting the entire leaf as opposed to just the brewed water.  It’s filled with nutrients and high in antioxidants and it tastes great!

  2. Warm Lemon Water - I’ve talked about this before and I know it doesn’t resemble or taste anything like coffee, but give it a try!  It will gently detox your liver and leave you feeling refreshed.

  3. Drink Local Coffee - If you think I’m crazy for even suggesting you bring it down a notch, then don’t!  But do yourself the favor of finding a local coffee roaster.  Chances are it will taste much fresher and the chances of it containing mycotoxins (mold) are slim.

  4. Herbal Coffee - Mountain Rose Herbs (.com) sells an herbal blend of organic roasted dandelion root, chicory root, roasted carob and maca powder.  It has a rich and bold roasted flavor and is caffeine-free.

  5. Vanilla “Latte” - Dr. Lipman says, “If you want something warm and comforting in the morning, you can heat up a mug of unsweetened vanilla almond milk (on the stove or in the microwave) with a dash of cinnamon and stevia to taste. It’s delicious! You could also add a teaspoon of cacao powder for a chocolate-y treat.”  

These alternatives also do well for those experiencing afternoon dips.  Instead of drinking a cold cup of coffee or brewing a new one, try one of these options first!  I think you will be surprised by how much your body likes them.  Good luck!

Until next time, Be Well.


 

Resources:

pubmed.gov

caffeineinformer.com

drjessechappus.com

livestrong.com

drfranklipman.com

 

Game Day Crockpot Chili

The last thing I want to do Super Bowl Sunday is stand in the kitchen and cook and I’m pretty sure you feel the same way even if you aren’t watching football!  I want to share with you my go-to crockpot chili recipe that you will love so much you won’t even care who wins!  Okay, that last part may not be true (wink), but I can guarantee that you will be celebrating come food time when all you have to do is scoop out some hot, spicy goodness to your family and friends.  If you’re hosting, you may want to double the recipe.  If you’re a guest, you may want to make it in a travel crockpot.  Either way, it’s a winner! I started tinkering with this recipe about the time I first met my husband.  Before we had our son, weekends were filled with football games and I wanted an easy go-to recipe that I didn’t have to think about and that turned out great every time.  Check out the recipe below along with a few healthful notes along the way:

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Game Day Crockpot Chili

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 3-4 hours

Yield: 6-8 servings

Ingredients:

  • large white cooking onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled & diced
  • 1 lb. local grass fed beef
  • 2- 16 oz. cans chili beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1- 16 oz. can red kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1- 16 oz. can Bush’s Chili Beans with Mild Sauce (optional)
  • 1 quart size jar canned tomatoes or 2- 16 oz. cans diced tomatoes, partially drained
  • 2- 10 oz. cans of tomatoes with chiles
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1.5 tbsp Homemade Taco/Chili Seasoning  (see recipe below)

Directions:

  1. Heat olive oil in skillet on the stove.  When the oil has warmed, add the diced onion and the diced garlic.  Cook until fragrant and starting to turn translucent.
  2. Add beef and break apart with a wooden spoon, mixing together with onion and garlic.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Add basil and oregano and stir frequently until meat is browned through.
  5. Transfer meat mixture to crockpot.
  6. Turn crockpot on HIGH.
  7. Add all remaining ingredients.  Make sure to drain and rinse the unseasoned chili beans and the kidney beans.  If adding the Bush’s Chili Beans with sauce, do not drain this can.
  8. Mix everything together and cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours or on LOW for 7-8 hours, stirring frequently throughout cooking time.
  9. Serve over brown rice and top with raw cheddar cheese.

Notes:

  • When I am making this for regular family dinner I will double the recipe and freeze half of it in ziploc bags to use on a busy night in the future.
  • Use brown rice instead of white rice.  Brown rice promotes good digestion, balances blood sugar and helps to control mood swings whereas white rice does the opposite.
  • I soak my rice overnight to increase its digestibility.  This also helps speed up cooking time.
  • If you are in a time crunch, the organic frozen brown rice from Trader Joe’s is a great alternative since its already cooked and literally takes minutes to warm up.
  • If you are skipping dairy, nutritional yeast is delicious sprinkled on top.

Getting ready to add the chili beans to the meat mixture.

Adding some homemade canned tomatoes to the mixture!  No worries if you don't have canned, just replace with two 16 oz. store bought cans of tomatoes.  ;)

I love this taco and chili seasoning!  YUM!

Homemade Taco and Chili Seasoning

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 2 tbsp. ground cumin
  • 3 tsp. salt
  • 4 tsp. black pepper

Directions:

  1. 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.  Taste and then add more if needed.
  • If younger children will be eating food with this seasoning make mixture using 3 tbsp. chili powder instead of 4 tbsp.
  • I have given this mixture in a cute glass jar with a twine ribbon as a hostess gift before instead of the traditional bottle of wine.
  • To save time, triple this recipe before storing.  It will stay fresh for about a year in an airtight container.

My family loves this chili with a huge platter of fresh, raw veggies that we munch on throughout the entire game.  So whether you’re watching the game for the win, the commercials or the halftime show, everyone will agree that a bowl full of chili in the belly makes it a win-win for everyone!  Enjoy!

Until next time, Be Well.

My Juicy Morning Routine, How I Got My Three Year Old to Chug Green Juice + Helpful Juicing Tips/Recipes!

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Everyone is talking about juicing these days and social media has everyone convinced that it’s the healthiest thing for your body.  Cue insanity: “You aren’t juicing??!! Why not? What’s wrong with you?  Don’t you care about your health?  Didn’t you hear it can prevent cancer?!! Well, my two year old is already drinking straight up juiced kale...yada yada yada,” and if you aren’t doing it, then you must (obviously) be crazy, right?  Not exactly.  As a health coach, I know that many people can definitely benefit from getting some healthy green juice into their diet, but if you aren’t doing it properly you may be giving your body a well-intentioned sugar fest or depriving it of other much needed nutrition.  I honestly would only recommend regular juicing to someone who already has an otherwise healthy diet who can afford to skip the whole fruit or vegetable.  If you have a diet high in processed foods, get your veggie intake from your tomato off your sandwich at lunch or are lacking fiber in your diet, start with smoothies.  I drink as many smoothies as I do fresh juice because I need the protein, fat and fiber in my diet just as much as I need the phytonutrients blazing right into my bloodstream.  Having said that, let’s take a look at my juicy morning routine…

  1. Set up juicer - complete with compost bag (more on that later)
  2. Grab produce bag out of refrigerator (more on that later, too)
  3. Rinse produce
  4. Juice into a large pyrex bowl with a spout (forget that tiny little cup it comes with...I don’t even know where mine is!)
  5. Pour into glass(es) that which I am drinking right away or into mason jars for later
  6. Sip juice to make sure it’s what I want
  7. Take apart juicer - pull out compost bag and set aside - rinse all other juice machine parts with water - I do this even before I drink my juice because no one wants to clean cement like dried juice off of anything.
  8. Enjoy masterpiece :)
  9. Hand wash or put juicer parts in dishwasher (minus the part that was lined with the compost bag!

It’s a tried and true routine and usually takes about 20 minutes start to finish.  However, if you are wanting to be a serious juicer, I have another tip...do not buy this type of juicer.

monkey juicing

No, I’m only kidding.  This juicer is perfect for beginners  who are unsure if they will stick with the practice long term.  Years ago when I mentioned to my mom and dad that I wanted to start juicing they bought me this very reasonably priced air whipper machine.  It was great and it is great and I’m thankful for it, BUT don’t buy it if you consider yourself a serious juicer (I will fill you in on the one I’m saving up for in just a sec).  And just to prove that I am thankful for it, I’m going to complement it before I bash it.  1) My son can pretty much use it on his own...awesome! 2) It’s freakishly fast, which is great for the busy full time mom, IIN Health Coach student, LLC starter person or just about anyone else I know. 3) Its parts go in the dishwasher. 4) The juice it produces really does taste amazeballs. 5) It’s really affordable.

Ok, now for the ugly...1) It’s basically a helicopter trying to take off.  I seriously have to weigh the thing down so it doesn’t go airborne.  2) Again, it’s basically a helicopter trying to take off so my son has to cover his ears if he is standing in the kitchen next to it.  3)  I have to take a shower after I use it (only kidding a little bit). 4) The helicopter effect sends so much air into the juice that it immediately begins to oxidize causing a depletion in nutrient availability.  5) It uses more produce than a slower masticating or twin gear juicer, which equals more $ per juice fest, which equals no good.  This is a standard centrifugal juicer and many people use them and like them, but at some point in the near future I need to upgrade.  To what??  I’m glad you asked.

The masticating juicers extract liquid at a lower speed and creates less friction therefore less heat is coming into contact with your veggies.  This helps to protect the vital nutrients in your juice.  It’s not as messy, it’s quieter and it’s definitely more effective at juicing produce so you get more for your hard earned $.  It is however, way more expensive.  Most models start at around $300 and can easily double or triple that.  My $50 helicopter machine isn’t looking so shabby now...BUT a really high quality juice is important to me.  I need to do a bit more research before settling on one, but these are my front runners so far:

1. The Juicepresso Cold Press Juicer 

2. The Breville Fountain Crush Masticating Juicer

3. The Omega J8006 Nutrition Center Juicer

Like I said, more research is needed before I dive head first, but my mom has the Omega and I love juicing with it because so much of the juice is extracted, leaving very little waste.  Ok, enough dreaming about juicers.

So there was a system to my madness when I decided to introduce my son to green juices.  The first thing I did was to NOT introduce him to green juices.  Tricky, eh?  Now there might be a kid here and there who takes one good look at a dark green glass of kale and gulps it (hence the earlier comment), but I don’t know where they are.  Not in my house at least.  So if you want to give it a try with your kiddos, by all means see if this approach makes sense to you and your little monkey(s).  This was my approach…

Step #1:  Introduce baby boy to lots of veggies in many colors, with many textures, during all meals...avocados for breakfast, anyone?  Exactly.  So many of you out there are modeling great behaviors for your kiddos so give them the avocado, too, or give them peas for breakfast!  Whatever, just get them used to seeing GREEN food in the morning so the transition to a GREEN drink is no big deal.

Step #2:  Dive into the smoothie obsession head first.  My son was about two and a half before he would drink his first smoothie and then that’s all he wanted. But prior to that I didn’t push it at all.  If I had a smoothie, I offered him a sip.  If he took it - great (!), but if not, so what?  He’s a little person with a great diet and I knew sooner or later he would like them.  We started with mangos and berries, banana and orange juice.  Very sweet, very high in natural sugar, very pretty - perfect for a transition drink.  [*Note* that I would never recommend this combo to you (wink, wink).  This puts you way too high on the glycemic index!]  Slowly, I started replacing the orange juice with water or nut milk, decreased the fruit ratios and adding subtle veggies like cucumber and started incorporating herbs, like mint.  I would throw in small spoonfuls (so as not to change the color too much - like most kids, he’s very visual) of a greens powder just to give him a bit of an extra nutritional boost.

Step #3:  Juice a pineapple.  Fresh pineapple juice won him over big time.  So using that as my base, I started to incorporate other subtle flavors.  We went from plain pineapple...

to pineapple and green apple…

to pineapple, green apple and half a cucumber…

to pineapple, half a green apple, half a cucumber and one leaf of kale…

monkey juice   IMG_7442

That’s where we stand today.  My next move will be to decrease the pineapple and add more kale or spinach.  He’s three and a half and juicing is already part of his normal routine and vocabulary.  If you’re an adult starting out, try some of these tactics to ease yourself into it.  My other suggestion for newbies is a plain carrot and apple mix or straight up cucumbers.  Try it!

Some other suggestions to keep in mind for juicers of all ages:

  1. Keep the fruit limited.  A good rule of thumb is to juice 3 veggies to 1 fruit.  This will help keep sugar intake in check.
  2. When you are doing your food prep for the week (Sunday afternoon?) include a ziploc bag just for your juicing produce.  I portion my produce out and give it a good rough chop down to the size I need it to fit down the chute of my juicer.  I rinse right before juicing.
  3. Putting a cucumber in the mix will balance out a stronger “green” taste and will increase your overall volume.
  4. Peel your citrus fruits before you juice.
  5. Use lemons!!  This will take the bitterness out of the juices that taste a bit like grass and get them tasting like you could drink them all day long!  If I don’t have a lemon on hand, I will use one drop lemon essential oil or one drop lemongrass essential oil as a replacement.
  6. Save your broccoli stems and parsley stems to juice.
  7. This is personal preference, but I need to drink mine with an ice cube.
  8. Place a plastic bag (this is what I called a compost bag earlier)  in the pulp collector to make cleaning up easier and faster.  Then dump the waste with all the pulp into your compost bin so you can reap the benefits later!
  9. Once you’re comfortable with the more basic vegetables, move towards including more medicinal plants like chard, fennel, beet greens, cilantro, garlic, parsley & ginger.
  10. Bananas and avocados are for smoothies, not for juicing. ;)
  11. Provide your body with variety!  Change up spinach and kale and other greens frequently so that you can safely steer clear of excess oxalic acid.  Spinach is really high in oxalic acid compared to kale so ingesting juiced spinach daily over a long period of time can actually become damaging.  The National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse will advise patients with kidney stones to decrease their consumption of foods containing high levels of oxalic acid to reduce the further likelihood of developing more kidney stones and this goes for good preventative advice, too.
  12. Drink and store juice in glass.  Mason jars are the best.
  13. If you’re using a slow masticating juicer you can store your juice for about 24 hrs.  Just make sure you’re storing the juice in a glass jar filled to the brim.  Your goal is to prevent oxygen from getting in and robbing you of the juice’s full benefits.
  14. Drink juice on an empty stomach so the vitamins and minerals go straight into your bloodstream.  Wait about two hours after a meal to juice or about twenty minutes before a meal for best absorption.
  15. A juice shouldn’t be your breakfast.  If you are doing a juice cleanse or trying to lose weight this advice can bend a bit, but I don’t recommend doing it without the guidance from a health coach, nutritionist or ND.  I like to follow my juice up (about twenty minutes later, which is about how long it takes me to clean my juicer, put up produce and get my breakfast ready) with something that contains healthy fat, protein, and/or healthy carbs.  I love mashed avocado on sprouted bread sprinkled with celtic sea salt or steel cut oats topped with local honey and berries.
  16. IMG_7433

One other note on doing a juice cleanse...it can do more harm than good if not done with proper guidance.  The American Journal of Medicine has documented cases of patients having adverse effects to a 6 week juice cleanse, which is way way too long in my opinion so don’t even go there.  Most recommended juice cleanses are for 3-5 days, just long enough to give your digestive system a clean and a rest.  So juice, but be smart...your digestive system is designed to do hard work.

Are you ready for some of my favorite recipes?!  Here you go and don’t forget to share!

lovely lycopene

Detox

beginner's special

Bright eyes juice

I hope you are now super pumped to get juicy, ready to make some adjustments to your juicing routine or feeling inspired to try some new recipes.  Most of all, have fun with it.  There’s not a juicer out there that likes sitting on the counter for months at a time so find one that works for you and get juicing!

Until next time, Be Well.

Health Coaching Kick-Off - Free Wellness Consultations!

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So if you’ve been following either my blog/Facebook page/Instagram page you know I’ve been going to the Institute of Integrative Nutrition to get certified as a holistic health coach in order to help people approach health in a whole new way.  I’m happy to say that I am now offering free wellness consultations to anyone, anywhere in the United States.  Before you jump on board, let me answer some of your questions… So what is a health coach anyway?

In a nutshell, health coaches are knowledgeable advisors who provide ongoing support and guidance as we set goals to make long-lasting sustainable changes to improve your health and happiness.  I will guide you to make sense of the overwhelming nutritional advice out there and provide you with information to determine what dietary and lifestyle changes are necessary for you.  You get a very individualized program based on your needs and goals so that you can make powerful changes to become a more balanced you.

What is a free wellness consultation?

I’m offering a free wellness consultation to anyone who is serious about getting their health and life back on track.  We will review your past and current health situations, your lifestyle, primary areas of concern and goals specifically related to your needs.  I have a series of questions that we will address together either in person, through Skype or over the phone regarding your health and then you will have the opportunity to share with me any other information you feel is relevant.  Wellness consultations are typically 45-50 minutes long.

What’s in it for me?

You’ll have the opportunity to talk about your life, your health and what you’d like to accomplish.  It’s an opportunity to be heard and to get a sense of what it feels like to have more support in your life - for YOU.  You’ll also learn how to reach those goals by working with me in my health coaching program.

What type of people use health coaches?

More and more people are using health coaches to reach optimal health.  According to Dr. Andrew Weil in his magazine titled Self-Healing:  “When athletes want a competitive edge, they hire a private coach to monitor their

progress. When it comes to your health, using this mindset could also be beneficial.

Health coaches are increasingly being hired by corporations to help employees stay

healthy and by individuals seeking to improve well-being. For some, these coaches

offer assistance in managing dietary constraints (due to conditions such as celiac

disease or diabetes), and for others, they might focus on teaching stress-reduction

methods. In some ways, the health coach picks up where your physician left off,

helping you implement wellness strategies suggested after a check-up or diagnosis.”

Basically, I’m here to fill the gap for you and to provide you with support and information to reach bigger and better.  Whether you’re looking to balance out your life, stop sugar cravings, find guidance to achieve your doctor’s recommendations, fight migraines, raise healthier kids, learn more about preventative medicine or anything else in between, a health coach is for you.  I’m for you!

I invite you to schedule your first initial wellness consultation by emailing me, Stephanie, at thewellsideoflife@gmail.com.  You could also head on over to my facebook page and message me there, too.  Either way, I can’t wait to hear from you!

Until next time, Be Well.

Red Kuri Squash Pie w/ Savory Crust

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Red Kuri Squash Pie w/ Savory Crust

The beautiful red kuri.

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The red kuri purée mixed with the coconut cream.

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The completed pie before baking.

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An absolutely delicious way to eat your squash!

I recently had a squash roasting party in my house and I knew right away that the red kuri had more in its future than just a weeknight side dish.  This squash is so vibrant and meaty - perfect for a pie.  Roasting a squash is not hard.  As you can see, I cut mine in half, seed them and place them on parchment paper on a baking sheet.  I add a bit of water to each pan to help in the steaming process and then I put them in the oven for an hour at 350 degrees.  When finally cooled, I scoop the insides into a food processor where I add water and blend until a thick, but smooth consistency forms.  Set aside or store in the refrigerator until you are ready to make the pie filling.

Directions for Savory Pie Crust:

2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose organic flour

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon coconut palm sugar

1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 egg, slightly beaten

1/3 cup ice cold water

  1. In a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, pulse together the flour, salt, and sugar. Add in the butter, and pulse a few times until the mixture is crumbly and resembles coarse meal. Combine the egg and water in a container (remove all ice pieces). While the processor is running, pour the water/egg mixture in and pulse until mixture just comes together.
  2. Pour mixture out onto a floured board and knead a few times to bring all the ingredients together.  Roll dough out so that it’s about ¼ inch thick or so that the circumference is about two inches larger than your pie dish and place in pie dish, pinching edges together at the top.  Pierce the dough at the bottom of the dish a few times with fork to let steam escape.

Tip: Dough can be rolled out immediately, or it can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Directions for filling:

2 cups of red kuri squash purée (or pumpkin)

1 can of coconut cream

2 eggs

½ cup Lakanto sweetener (or sugar)

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

½ tsp. Himalayan salt

  1. Whisk ingredients together and pour into prepared pie crust.

Bake in oven at 325 degrees for at least one hour or until middle is set (a fork or toothpick should come out clean).  Allow the pie to cool completely before cutting as the pie will continue to set as it cools.  Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.

Getting creative with your veggies?  I'd love to hear about it!

Until next time, Be Well.

Spicy Salsa Verde

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Tomatillos are such a fun plant.  They are easy to grow, easy to pick, fun to husk, beautiful to look at and they make a great salsa.  We picked a good share at the farm Saturday morning and made fresh salsa verde that afternoon.

Here is a picture of them on the plant and after being husked:

tomatillo Collage

 

I couldn't find the recipe I used last year to make salsa verde so I threw something basic together with food I had on hand.  

Ingredient List

Roughly 4 cups tomatillos

2 jalapeños 

4 cloves of garlic (unpeeled)

1 large onion (quartered and unpeeled)

Roughly 1/2 cup cilantro

Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper (to taste)

Directions

1. Husk and rinse tomatillos and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet along with the jalapeños, unpeeled garlic cloves and unpeeled onion.  Place the baking sheet on the top rack of your oven and broil on high (about 500 degrees) for about 15 minutes.  Turn sheet and flip ingredients once through the broiling cycle so that everything is cooked and charred evenly. 

Here is a before and after picture.  You can see some seeds in the second shot because the tomatillos will burst and sizzle under the heat.  As you can see, you don't want to char them heavily.  Just enough to give them a roasted flavor.

before and after Collage

 

2. After the items on the baking sheet have cooled, peel the garlic, onion and jalapeños and place them along with all the tomatillos into a food processor.  You do not have to do anything to the tomatillos.  Just place them in your processor as is.  If you have never roasted a jalapeño, the darkened skin should just peel off.  You may have to work a little at the rest of the skin that was not directly charred, but try to get as much off as you can.

cilantro Collage

Add the cilantro, a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper to the food processor as well.

3.  Blend!  Add more olive oil as necessary to gain the consistency you desire.  *A note of caution here!  In my humble opinion of all things spicy, this definitely has a kick.  It's tasty, but if you don't want something that hot then just add one jalapeño (and make sure you remove ALL the seeds).  However, if you're a crazy person and think I'm a total wimp for barely handling two jalapeños, then I dare you to add some crushed chili pepper flakes to the mix!

There you go!

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We enjoyed this yummy garden creation with some organic tortilla chips, tomatoes and avocados.  It made for a spicy, light and delicious Saturday night!  Enjoy!

Until next time, Be Well.

Kick Your Cold to the Curb!...Naturally!

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First of all, I just want to say that I never get sick.  Well, that’s almost true.  I rarely get sick is a more accurate statement. The last time I can remember getting sick was about two years ago when I was overwhelmed with moving to a new city.  I was stressed, wasn’t eating or sleeping well and was out of my normal routine.  Recently however, while traveling, I forgot my probiotics (worst thing ever!) and got only a few hours of sleep each night for two nights in a row.  I’m the type of person who needs a good 7-8 hours a sleep a night so this did not fare well for me.  Two days later I was so sick I could barely get off the couch.  So one of two things could have happened.  I could have called a doctor (to clarify, I’m talking about a MD here as opposed to my wonderful Naturopathic Doctor…) who would have no doubt prescribed some drug or antibiotic to cure me of my horrible symptoms OR I could use what I already know about homeopathic remedies and natural practices to heal myself at home.  You already know which path I chose, but I want to tell you right away that I was feeling like myself again in just four short days which is about the same amount of time it would have taken me to heal had I gone a more traditional route.  I am not completely opposed to mainstream medicine, but I don’t agree with the quick fix of drug prescriptions that are so widely accepted and touted without the thought of a healthier more natural approach.  OK, enough of that.  Basically, I want to walk you through everything I did for myself over the course of those four days to give you an idea of what healing naturally might look like in hopes that you could benefit from using this information when you start feeling lousy and run down.  

Here is a good time to insert a disclaimer. First of all, I’m not a doctor and I’m not pretending to be.  If you are severely sick you do need to call a Naturopathic Doctor or Medical Doctor who is licensed to treat you.  If you’re pregnant or are treating a child (especially under the age of 2), you need to consult with a medical professional before going forward with any of the suggestions below.  Also, there are dozens of other alternative medicine practices that could be used when someone is feeling sick.  However, I am just sharing my personal experience.

Here were my symptoms:

Overall weakness in entire body

Sore Throat

Congestion

Nausea

Headaches

Low energy & exhaustion

Lack of appetite

Low grade fever

It hit me like a truck, but it was your pretty basic run-up of common flu-like symptoms.  Had I been given some warning signs that I was going to get sick I would have up’ed my probiotics, gone to bed earlier and started myself on some olive leaf complex and elderberry, but it wasn’t nice like that.  Having said that, my best advice using natural remedies would be to listen to your body and catch the symptoms early on, implement some of these suggestions right away before you actually start feeling sick and then monitor.  Chances are that you won’t get sick at all, which is what I’m usually able to do.

Here was my arsenal:

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1) Don’t underestimate the power of sleep.  When you’re feeling sick you should make sleep your #1 priority since this is the only time your body can truly heal itself.  And I mean deep sleep, not dozing on and off with the TV in the background.  :)

2) Do what you’ve always been told and drink lots of liquids.  I was drinking a lot of water, tea, apple cider vinegar mixtures and coconut water.  My favorite brands of tea are Numi and Traditional Medicinals and when I’m sick I drink a lot of the Traditional Medicinals like the Breathe Easy mixture and Throat Coat.  Stock up for the kids, too.  

I also posted my favorite Apple Cider Vinegar mixture on my Instagram a while back, but here is the recipe again if you missed it:

-warmish/hot water

-2 spoonfuls apple cider vinegar (my favorite is Bragg’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar)

-2 spoonfuls of honey

-juice from half a lemon

-sprinkle of cinnamon on top

Why apple cider vinegar?  It will help drain your sinuses and will give your immune system a boost to help fight off the virus or bacteria causing you to feel sick.  It’s great for overall health, too.

3) I doubled my probiotics since most of your fighting soldiers are coming from your gut.  I use a professional probiotic from Douglas Laboratories that contains over 40 billion beneficial organisms per serving.

4) I took 2 capsules of Elderberry D3Fense every few hours. Obviously, Vitamin D3 strengthens the immune system, but with the combination of elderberry, echinacea, and olive leaf, this potent mixture can literally stop a cold in its tracks.  Elderberry, known for its high antioxidant levels has benefits way past helping cure a cold.  Start researching it; you’ll be amazed at what it can do for you.  www.herbwisdom.com is a good site for researching herb information.

5) Vitamin C - I use a whole food extract Vitamin C powder from Health Force taken from the acerola berry.  I’m sure this is something you are already doing once symptoms hit you, but make sure you are using a high quality Vitamin C that will actually work.  I was taking about 2,000 mg daily to fight off my cold.

6) Olive Leaf Complex - My favorite is Barlean’s Organic.  So Olive Leaf oil is pretty amazing and its use has been documented all the way back to the time of Hippocrates and continues to be used around the world to treat many different illnesses.  It is recognized as a powerful antioxidant, can increase energy and helps regulate blood pressure.*  Some other exciting research shows olive leaf oil as being an effective anti-viral agent providing benefits that far surpass antibiotics.*  Some people would benefit from taking daily supplements of olive leaf, but I usually only take it when I’m not feeling well and then I usually take 1-2 tbsp. per day while I still have symptoms.  I take mine in grape juice since the taste is personally too bitter for me.

7) Eucalyptus Products - Eucalyptus is a tree, not an herb, and contains properties that can help reduce the inflammation of the mucous membranes in the respiratory tract.  However, it is really strong and should be used sparingly and never with small children who can develop severe reactions to its use.  Some practices I use when I’m congested include spraying my pillow at night with a light Eucalyptus Aromatherapy Spray that has been properly diluted and using a Eucalyptus Chest Rub that has also been infused with other essential oils like tea tree, lavender and peppermint oils.  The brand I use is Tea Tree Therapy.  I will also drop one or two drops of Eucalyptus Essential Oil into a pot of boiling water, tent a towel behind my head and lean over the steam for immediate relief if I need it.  Eucalyptus is so potent that I don’t do all of these things at the same time.  I will spray my pillow and use chest rub at night hours after I’ve exposed myself to the steam.   

8) Oil of Oregano - I use this oil all the time even when I’m not sick.  I dilute the oil in filtered water and carry it around in a spray bottle in my bag.  Since oil of oregano contains antimicrobial and antifungal properties it’s a great alternative to hand sanitizer.  When I’m feeling under the weather I will actually spray this same diluted spray onto the bottom of my feet (one of your greatest areas for optimal absorption) a few times a day to help fight any bacteria or fungal based infection.  

I know it seems odd that I’m posting this information in August since many cold and flu-like illnesses are months away, but I thought it could help you prepare your own arsenal ahead of time, perhaps prompt you to do more research about natural remedies and really weigh when to treat at home and when to go to the doctor.  I have used the suggestions I’ve shared with you for a few years and have had great results.  Like I said, if you can catch symptoms early and treat immediately you probably won’t get that sick at all. But if you do get sick, give some of these ideas a chance and be consistent with them - just as you would if you were given medicine in pill form.  I think you’ll be surprised with the results!  

Until next time, Be Well.

*Source used: www.herbwisdom.com

 

 

 

 

Healthy Road Trip Fuel

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  Ok, tell me if this sounds familiar…

 

You’re driving along peacefully when one (or all) of the following things happen:

 

1) You realize you have 8 miles of gas left in your tank and need to stop ASAP.  You find a Sheetz and while you fill up on gas, you also fill up on Doritos and soda.  You’ve been driving hard and you deserve it, right?

 

2) You’re feeling a little like a zombie so you stop at the next service plaza to refresh yourself.  You pick up a personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut and a tall caramel macchiato from Starbucks.  You’re feeling great again and ready to go!

 

3) Your toddler just informed you that if you don’t pull over NOW he’s going to pee in his car seat.  You take the next exit to take care of business and get him some oreos and fruit punch to reward him for not turning your car into a Seinfeld episode.

 

4) You start to crave something sweet & salty and start praying for a 7-11 to reveal itself.

 

5) You see a McDonald’s and totally justify your stop because you never eat there regularly anyway.  That Big Mac tastes sooo good going down and the fries and milkshake are just icing on the cake.  You start to think once in a while isn’t so bad afterall!

 

Sound about right?  Five to eight years ago this was totally me (except for the oreos and fruit punch part).  I’ve never been one to drink soda, but I would have never considered passing up a syrupy cream-topped starbucks special on the road.  For some reason I felt like I was allowed to let myself break the rules a bit when I was driving long distances because I had convinced myself I didn’t have any other option (boy, was I wrong!).  Thirty minutes post Starbucks/Pizza Hut/fries or whatever other nasty binge I would consume, I would always end up with stomach pains, cramps, and feelings of nausea.  Not a great combination when driving!  And a huge signal that my body was rejecting what I had just put in it!   In general, I have always tried to maintain some sort of healthy eating regimen, but I made poor eating decisions on the road because I wasn’t prepared properly and these excuses would then transfer into the entire trip being sabotaged by weak, impulse decisions.  I would return home feeling gross and in major need of a detox.  Things have changed a lot in my world and I would never go back to this type of bad road trip behavior!

So recently, we packed up our little family of three and headed east to one of our favorite beach towns for the week.  We had a long drive ahead of us and a full week of relaxing and snacking in store.  I went prepared with an arsenal of healthy snack alternatives so that we were not tempted by the flashy packaging of the processed foods at service plazas and gas stations (however, if you’re in a desperate situation, grab a banana, a bag of nuts, coconut water and/or bottled water and get OUT).  I also went prepared with a list of health conscious restaurants and directions to my favorite organic market (for morning juices or smoothies) to use once we got there so that we weren’t stuck eating hours old MSG filled excuses for pizza on the boardwalk.

My list of snack foods contain foods found at Trader Joe’s, Fresh Market and my local natural foods store.  These stores are really easy for me to get to, which was something I really needed the few days leading up to vacay departure.  I’ve read a few blogs that list some amazing road trip fuel, but I wasn’t impressed with the fact that I would have needed to order everything online and I just wasn’t prepared for that.  SO I stayed simple and local.  I really hope my list is able to give you some great, practical ideas for your next road trip adventure!

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1) Electrolyte Enhanced Water - Great for the hot beach when you need to replenish electrolytes quickly from sweating.  This is a much healthier alternative than drinking a sports drink filled with sugar!

2) Harmless Harvest 100% Raw Coconut Water - They use a high-pressured manufacturing system to rid the water of bacteria before bottling, not heat, so there are more beneficial nutrients staying in the drink.  Great source of antioxidants, loaded with minerals, and naturally uplifting.  I won’t travel without it!

3) 100% Pineapple Juice - Made from whole fresh fruit, not from concentrate.  I found this in a small sized 4-pack in Trader Joe’s which is the perfect travelling size.  My son would drink this all day long if I let him.  There is a crazy amount of Vitamin C in this drink, helps aid digestion and has anti-inflammatory properties.  I also love it in smoothies!

4) Lemon & Mint - I took these to put in my water every day for their detoxing power and because they are an amazing pick me up for that afternoon dip.

5) Sliced veggies, apples, bananas, avocados, grapes - All things that are delicious, easy to transport and good for you!  Numerous times on our vacation we were the ones having an apple or banana while everyone else around us was eating a slice of pizza or an ice cream cone.  Choosing to eat this way gave us the sugar everyone craves while on vacation in a naturally occurring way, but it also gave us high amounts of fiber and complex carbs so that we had energy that lasted for hours!

6) Bob’s Red Mill Muesli - I would mix this with yogurt or milk for a mid-morning snack or lunch.  Loads of good stuff in here - whole grain rolled oats, wheat, rye, triticale (a hybrid of wheat and rye), barley, dates, raisins, sunflower seeds, almonds and walnuts.  Another great source of food for high energy!

7) Chia Seeds - Fiber, Omega 3, Protein.  I put these on almost everything I eat.

8) Veggie & Flaxseed Tortilla Chips along with my homemade canned salsa from last tomato season - Yes, I transported a glass mason jar, but it was worth it!  My husband is seriously addicted to this stuff and it makes an awesome lunch when heading to a restaurant is just not appealing anymore.

9) Pink Himalayan Salt - I may start carrying this stuff around with me in my purse.  First of all, it’s pretty.  Second, it contains 84 trace elements and iron from the Himalayan Mts. in Pakistan and is touted as the purest form of salt in the world.  That white table salt?  All minerals are stripped, it’s treated with chemicals, it throws off your body’s pH making it extremely acidic, it has been heated and then treated with bleach.  What’s the point in using white table salt when there is such a better option available?  Oh, it’s sooo delicious, too.

10) MaraNatha’s Organic NO STIR Peanut Butter - We traveled with one jar creamy and one jar crunchy : )  This is by far the best organic p.b. I have ever had! Nice source of wholesome protein and fiber and my son devours it.  Bonus.

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11) Pamela’s Figgies and Jammies Gluten-Free Cookies - Made with real figs and contains nothing artificial.  I love these and they put traditional fig newton’s to shame with their taste and quality of ingredients - and they’re gluten-free!

12) Trader Joe’s Apple and Mango Fruit Bar - Vegan and RAW and only two ingredients : )

13) L‘A’RABARS - These energy bars are my favorite.  They are gluten-free and only contain a few tasty ingredients.  They are also grain-free, non-GMO, soy-free, dairy-free & kosher!

14) Travel size pouches of RAW Organic Green Superfood - When I can’t get a fresh juice or smoothie I mix these pouches with water as a great alternative.  They contain organically grown greens and sprouts, which pumps your body full of that liquid gold chlorophyll.  I will also have these on hand at home for busy mornings when I need to be out the door quickly.

15) Nick’s Grass-Fed Beef and Turkey Snack Sticks - No nitrites added, no added antibiotics or MSG.  This is surprising, but I’d have to say I like the beef better than the turkey!  This is from their website: Grass-fed beef kicks corn-fed cows… in the COB!

  • Low saturated fat — like snacking on chicken or fish
  • High levels of “good fat” omega-3’s — hey, if you’re gonna eat fat… make it the good stuff!
  • High doses of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) — really hard to say and spell, but it kicks cancer where the sun don’t shine
  • 100% free-range bliss — our cows enjoy “outdoor recess” all day… everyday!
  • Eco-friendly? — Sure, our cows produce a bit of natural methane… but our tractors stay in the barn!

Love. It.

16) Nuts! - Walnuts, Pistachios & Almonds - Absolutely love getting in good fats, even if it’s just one handful at a time.  Walnuts have the highest amounts of omega-3 fats than any other nut and they help with brain growth and functioning (they kinda even look like a brain).  Pistachios are a family favorite and are awesome immune system boosters.  Almonds are so good for the heart and versatile - love almond milk and almond butter, too!

17) Raisins, Prunes, Dates & Figs - Seriously these dried fruits are like candy in our house.  They are so easy to pack and transport and they have countless health benefits.  However, I don’t ever buy these conventional because grapes, plums, dates and figs are sprayed heavily with pesticides and once the drying process has occurred, the chemicals become even more concentrated within the fruit.  I always buy these organic.  Also, some people will veer away from these foods (and if you have blood sugar issues then you probably should) because they are nature’s little sugar packets, but that’s honestly why I love them.  If I’m going to eat sweets, it might as well have a nutritional benefit to it and these dried fruits are a.ma.zing (did I say that already?)!  I also use dates as a sweetener in baking or when making raw desserts because refined sugar does not have a place in my kitchen!

18) My little tin of Matcha Tea from Teavana - If you’ve not tried Matcha Tea yet, you need to.  This tea has been used as a part of Japanese culture since the 12th century and we’re just now catching on to its amazing taste and health benefits.  Instead of drinking the tea where the leaves have been strained, matcha involves drinking the entire leaf that has been ground into an extremely fine, green powder.  This drink is loaded with Vitamin C, potassium, iron and fiber and is wonderfully relaxing.

19) Suzie’s Organic Saltines and Whole Grain THIN Cakes (made of corn, quinoa and sesame) - Ok, Suzie’s line is generally awesome all around, but I chose to pack things that we could spread p.b or mashed avocado on.  My favorite thing about the saltines is that they make them with extra virgin olive oil.  If this doesn’t excite you, it should!  Check out the list of ingredients from the popular Nabisco saltine cracker box:

Ingredients. Enriched Flour (WheatFlour,Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid),Soybean Oil, Salt, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Partially Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil, Malted Barley Flour, Baking Soda, Vegetable Monoglycerides (Emulsifier). Nutrition Facts.

Hmmm… see anything you don’t like?  How about that high fructose corn syrup?  Don’t be fooled by the “enriched” flour part, either.  Basically the company has taken all the vitamins, minerals and fiber that the plant originally contained and processed it and then tried to put some of it back in again at the end.  This is a very common practice that fools consumers into believing that they just got a nutritional bargain.  Hardly.  If I’m going to eat a cracker, I’d much rather the ingredients go something like this:

INGREDIENTS: ORGANIC WHEAT FLOUR, ORGANIC EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL, SALT, ORGANIC BARLEY MALT SYRUP, SODIUM BICARBONATE, YEAST.

If you can’t find these in a store near you, check out the website that carries them.  It’s an education in itself! http://www.goodgroceries.com

20) Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts - Hemp hearts are raw shelled hemp seeds.  They provide you with omegas, protein and fiber and have a great flavor.  I sprinkle these babies on everything, right along with my chia seeds!

21) Tiny But Mighty popcorn - This ancient heirloom popcorn was originally shared by the Native Americans with a pioneer family who kept it for generations and it has finally come to market through a very conscious company.  Unlike other popcorn (or corn in general), this brand is verified NON-GMO and the kernels are much smaller than the traditional popcorn we are used to.  I also LOVE it because it’s virtually hull-less, which means it doesn’t get stuck in your teeth, it’s easier to digest and it tastes much better.  I popped the kernels in my air-popper, added some melted vegan organic Earth Balance and some Himalayan Salt and put them in some of our reuseable gallon sized bags.  Awesome road trip food.

22) Panda All Natural Licorice - Licorice is a weakness for me and I love that Panda has four delicious flavors to choose from!  One reason I love this brand is because they don’t used refined sugar.  They sweeten their chews with brown molasses syrup, which provides its own little banquet of nutrients.  YUM!

23)*Splurge!* Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Tahitian Vanilla Caramels - ouch.  I’m not perfect!  These aren’t horrible, BUT they do contain sugar that I probably could have gone without.  Next time I will have to be sure to take them out of my cart after they so intentionally jumped in!

I know.  I took a TON of snacks with us, but I’m happy I did because we were never lacking and feeling like we needed to compromise our health when we were hungry.  I also want to mention that many of these foods are staples in our home, but many of them are not.  I usually don’t stock the figgies, the Tahitian Vanilla Caramels or the licorice because they aren’t necessary.  However, I have found that if we allow ourselves a little cheat once in a while it actually keeps our daily healthy lifestyle on track and that’s what really matters.  Look into some of these amazing products and let me know if you have any suggestions for my next road trip (which is coming up in two weeks!)

Until next time, Be Well.

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