healthy habits

Traveling? Eat Out Guilt Free!

I want to share with you my anytime top tips for surviving restaurant pit stops and getaways so that you can feel your best!  So many of us have dietary restrictions on some level so thinking about the following suggestions will help you feel prepared and in charge of your diet while traveling.  If you have a suggestion that's not listed, please add it for others in the comments below!  

Tip #1: Plan ahead - Research your route and the towns/cities in which you are traveling through and make note of healthy options such as restaurants, natural health food stores, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, etc.  You can easily pick up a lunch or dinner at one of the stores I mentioned instead of relying on a restaurant.  I’ve even found cafe´s and locally owned coffee shops to carry gluten-free, sugar-free, whole-foods options, but I needed to call ahead or go online to do the research first as it is not always apparent from a roadside sign. 

Tip #2: Call ahead - If you are staying at a hotel that has an inclusive restaurant, call the concierge desk to make sure they give the staff a heads up that you are staying with them and that you have dietary restrictions.  If a menu is not posted online, ask about your specific concerns.  Most restaurants are used to accommodating food allergies and sensitivities so don’t think you’re asking them something they haven’t been asked before. 

Tip #3: Ask to Read Labels - As I stated before, restaurants are becoming more and more accommodating to food allergies, so they are sensitive to those requesting certain food preferences.  Having said that, don’t be afraid to ask them to bring a label out to you so you can read the ingredients in something you are about to order.  I do this ALL the time because my son has reactions to artificial food coloring, additives and preservatives.  Also, most restaurant foods will contain hidden sugars, MSGs, processed soy and hidden wheat so it’s worth a few minutes of questioning.

Tip #4: Avoid Trans Fats - 

  • Ask that your meat and/or vegetables be cooked in butter or olive oil to avoid highly inflammatory and often trans fat based vegetable or canola oils.  If you have a dairy sensitivity, ask for olive oil preparation.
  • Sub out fried sides (french fries) with steamed vegetables or rice side dishes as a healthier alternative. 

Tip #5: Pack your own sweetener - Carry your sweetener with you or ask for honey.  I will carry a few packets of Stevia in my bag so I don’t have to even consider using the white sugar or even the raw sugars at most establishments.  And don’t even think about grabbing an artificial sweetener.  Opt for the real raw or white sugar instead if you’re not prepared with your own.  

Tip #6: Scrutinize your "healthy" salad - Ask for olive oil and vinegar and pass on the in-house made dressings, unless you ask for a list of ingredients.  This is a great place to avoid sugars and extra calories. Also, ask them to hold the croutons and extra cheese on top.  You can ask them if they can sub in some walnuts or almonds instead.

Tip #7: Hold the Bread - Many restaurants are holding their bread baskets now unless otherwise requested.  You can also let them know upon being seated that you would like your bread basket to be held.  This is crucial if you have a gluten intolerance on any level as your body will start the inflammation process and you will probably end your meal feeling bloated and uncomfortable.

Tip #8: Know your meat - Only order meat that is organic and/or grass-fed to avoid feed-lot quality meat, which has been pumped full of hormones, additives, and toxins.  If you don’t have any options there, then order fish, as long as its not farmed salmon, which are loaded with antibiotics, corn and soy products and other toxic chemicals.  

Tip #9: Water is key - Drink a glass of water BEFORE you head out to the restaurant (or about 20 minutes before eating) and then limit water consumption during your meal.  I know this sounds counter intuitive, but many people are not digesting their foods properly and an overload of water to the stomach while eating will raise the pH of its acids and not allow it to do its job as effectively had the acids not been diluted.  This will also curb your appetite and keep you from overindulging.

Tip 10: Take a digestive enzyme -  I like Digestive Enzymes Ultra by Pure Encapsulation.  You will see this enzyme listed under the supplements category on my Amazon storefront. This enzyme will help you break down and digest your food more easily,  which is very helpful while eating at any restaurant to help you avoid gas, bloating and other digestive upset from either eating too much or from eating some funky ingredients that you weren’t counting on.  Like my packets of Stevia, I carry this with me at all times to avoid feeling uncomfortable. 

Have you already tried some of these ideas?  How have they worked for you?  

 

 

Practice Soft Belly Breathing

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This is an exercise that helps to expand the base of your lungs, which helps bring extra oxygen to your brain.  It lowers anxiety and induces greater relaxation.  Over time this technique has been proven to lower blood pressure, slow heart rate, enable deeper breathing and induce a state of calmness. 

  • Sit up in a chair or bed, as erect as possible.  Close your eyes.

  • Breathe deeply, in through your nose, and out through your mouth.  Repeat. 

  • Now, imagine your belly is soft.  This will allow you to deepen your breath and improve the exchange of oxygen. As you breathe in you want your belly (more accurately, your diaphragm) to expand with air.  As you breathe out you want your belly to contract and flatten. 

  • Once this pattern is established, concentrate on breathing in (with your belly still expanding) to a count of five seconds, hold your breath for a count of five seconds, and then release (with your belly contracting) to a count of five seconds. 

  • Repeat for five minutes in a quiet surrounding or while listening to soft music. 

If you are under a lot of stress, try to perform this routine 2 or 3 times a day to help relaxation come your way.  If you have trouble falling asleep at night, perform this routine right before bedtime.  Children can benefit greatly from this exercise as well.  

Until next time, Be Well. 

Homemade Almond Milk

Many people are moving away from dairy milk and are using more nut milks in their daily diet, but have you ever read the labels of store bought almond milk?  As carrageenan (a naturally derived seaweed linked to brain issues and tumors) is being phased out of the main ingredients, the options aren't as dim, but there are still added sugars and preservatives included that just aren't necessary.  And let's talk about the taste for a second...I have a hard time drinking store bought almond milk because the taste is too sugary and dull (meaning, I couldn't decipher any almond taste).  Homemade almond milk is very rich, with its own sweetness and you can tell that it's fresh.  This recipe takes about ten minutes to make and will yield about 2 1/2 cups of milk.  I will often double or triple this recipe.

Ingredients and Materials: 

Instructions:

  • Start by soaking the almonds in water overnight or for a few hours (this first step is optional, but your body will be better able to absorb the nutrients from the almonds if they are soaked).
  • Place the almonds and three cups of water into your high speed blender and blend on high for about two minutes.
  • Pour the mixture through the nut bag into the large measuring bowl with pour spout, working the liquid through the almond pulp until the pulp is almost completely dry.  
  • Toss the almond pulp and pour the almond milk into your glass container.  
  • Keep the almond milk in your refrigerator.  It will stay fresh for 3-4 days, probably longer. 

Let me know how your almond milk turns out!  I can guarantee that once you realize how simple it is to make your own and how much better tasting it is, you'll want to avoid the store bought stuff, too.  Have fun!

While you're at it, give this video a peek because if you love almond milk, I have a hunch you're going to love what's inside the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle as well ;) 

xoxo,

Stephanie

Puro Co. Product Review

Hey everyone!  I’ve had the pleasure of using some of Puro Co. new skin care products and I wanted to share my experience with you.  The owner of Puro Co. has gone to great lengths to make sure she only uses the purest ingredients in her products and it shows.  The products are completely chemical-free, non-toxic, hand crafted in small batches and have had a remarkable impact on my skin.

 

Here are the products I tested:

1. Crema Body Butter - Hands down, this is the best smelling product I’ve ever used.  Since its base is cocoa butter, you not only get an amazing creamy texture, but you get a clean cocoa scent that I was tempted to eat it smelled so good.  Cocoa butter is so nourishing for the skin and made of such high quality fats that this is definitely worth a shot for anyone suffering from eczema.  The other thing I really love about this product is that a very little bit goes a long way.  This body butter is sold in 2 oz. glass containers, which doesn’t seem like very much, but you’ll be surprised by how long it lasts.  My skin responds really well to the combination of ingredients used.  Normally I apply this body butter after showering and my skin will still feel nourished well into the next day, which never happened with commercial lotions.  Great investment for your skin.

2. Lavender Shave Oil and Clove Shave Oil - The star of this product is the hand infused calendula olive oil, which offers many anti-inflammatory skin related benefits.  It’s an awesome product for anyone who has sore, inflamed or itchy skin conditions and/or have terrible reactions to normal shaving cream (like me).  The product is packaged with a dropper, which is nice, to prevent any from being wasted by spilling over the edge.  I fill my hand up with the oil and rub it deeply into my skin and then I shave.  The oil smells great, goes on smoothly and gives a close shave.  The best part is how my legs feel afterwards - soooo smooth and noticeably nourished.  I like both scents equally, but definitely will lean towards using the lavender if I’m showering in the evening to help me relax.  I will then hop in bed and rub the shave oil on my hands and feet, too - it’s very versatile!  

3.  Ylang Ylang Perfume Oil and Rosewood Perfume Oil - Do you know how many toxic chemicals are in commercial perfumes?  Enough to cause hormone disruption, fertility issues and even cancer.  There are THREE ingredients in the Ylang Ylang perfume and FOUR in the Rosewood Perfume and they are all natural.  I haven’t worn perfume in at least six years because there weren’t many all-natural, affordable options with scents that I actually liked.  Enter Puro Co. and their new line of all natural perfumes!  Both scents are completely different, but equally pleasant.  The Ylang Ylang scent is light and uplifting so I tend to wear it during the morning and daytime hours where the Rosewood is a richer, more savory scent so I find myself wearing it more often during the evening hours.  I also carry the Ylang Ylang perfume in my purse so if I’m out and I start feeling stressed, anxious or tired, this perfume will do the trick as Ylang Ylang essential oil is a natural antidepressant.  

Aesthetically pleasing, therapeutic, intentional and pure.  You won’t be disappointed and you’ll be wanting more!  To view products or to order go to www.puro.co

Until next time, Be Well.

 

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

 

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

juice title

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.