healthy kids

Creamy PB Protein Smoothie w/ Hemp Seeds

A seriously yummy smoothie great for getting in a decent amount of protein for breakfast or at any time of the day. This is also a great go-to for those who have chocolate or sugar cravings in the afternoon!

Creamy PB Protein Smoothie w/Hemp Seeds

Main Ingredients

1banana

3/4 cup almond milk

1/4 cup gluten free oats

2 pitted medjool dates

1huge spoonful of organic peanut butter (or more if desired)

1 tbsp. raw shelled hemp seeds

1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

3 ice cubes

topped with bee pollen (optional)

2 scoops collagen peptides (optional)

Preparation

1Place all ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until you get a creamy consistency. Pour and then top with bee pollen if so desired.

Additional Notes

If you have a hard time finding fresh Medjool dates where you live, you could substitute with another sweetener, like honey, or use a sweeter non-dairy milk alternative, like oat milk.

Kids' Probiotic Mango Smoothie

To help keep my son's immune system strong, I give him probiotic smoothies at different times throughout the week for part of his breakfast or lunch (or snack - he eats a lot).  This particular recipe of ours is very versatile, but this is one of our favorite combos. 

Ingredients:

1 banana

1 cup frozen mango chunks

1 tsp. powdered probiotic designed for kiddos

1/2 cup cultured coconut milk (which also includes active and live cultures)

1/2 cup nut milk (we usually use almond or coconut milk)

1/2 cup water

Blend all ingredients together in a blender, pour and serve. 

We hope you like it as much as we do!

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…

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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.
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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.

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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Did Somebody Say GIVEAWAY?!!

karma-naturals-giveaway

karma naturals giveaway Remember when you read my blog post a week or so ago about the oh so pretty chemical laden polish your putting on your nails?  If you missed it, you can read it here. Well one of the "3 Free" brands I highly recommended in my post sent me some free samples for YOU! This is your chance to win some awesome organic products for your nails.  Both products together retail for $22 and you have a chance to win them for FREE!  I have for you their Soybean Oil & Lavender Nail Polish Remover that is completely non-toxic along with a great shade of pink, called Skimpy Bikini, that will be perfect for you all summer long.  The polish is of course made without the harmful chemicals toluene, formaldehyde and DBP.  I can't wait to send this out to a lucky winner! Here are the details for entering:

Hop on over to my Facebook Page (found to the right in the sidebar or HERE):

1) Like/Follow my Page

2)Publicly SHARE the Karma Naturals GIVEAWAY POST on your own timeline

3)Leave a comment telling me your favorite summer activity in the comments section on the post.

Once I have seen that you have done all three you will be automatically entered into the Karma Naturals Giveaway Contest!  I will be selecting a winner with the very sophisticated system of "Pulling Name Out of Hat" : ) on Friday, May 23rd @ 10am.

Don't miss out!

Until next time, Be Well.

It's finally flip-flop season! Find out if your nail polish is doing you more harm than good!

Naples-Nails-Pedicure-Manicure-Natural-Skin-Care-Spa-300x300When springtime and warm weather eventually start to roll around I generally have two things on my mind.  The first being, "I really need to get the garden ready!" and the second, "I really need a pedicure!".  Ok, so maybe I have a lot more on my mind than just veggies and flip flop season, but at some point those two things take a front seat and some serious work gets done.  We aren't talking about gardening today, but we are going to see why you should probably take your favorite shades of OPI (Feelin' Hot-Hot-Hot!, anyone?) and trash them.  Yikes!  What did I just say? I couldn't possibly be serious, right?  Why yes, I am, and I think you might agree... Ok, so let's take a step back -with brightly colored toes, I might add ;) -and let me tell you why I'm picking on the more mainstream nail polishes that we all use or have used before.  Most of them are toxic-laden bottles full of chemicals that have no business on our nails.  They are filled with ingredients that you should be concerned about and should probably be avoiding. What's scary is that there are no government based regulatory safety boards ensuring that the ingredients in our cosmetics are safe.  Any cosmetic product out there that you assume is safe may be doing you more harm than good and you would never know it.  The FDA doesn't have to review cosmetic ingredients before they hit the shelves, including nail polish.  Here is a direct quote from fda.gov stating, "It is the responsibility of cosmetic manufacturers to ensure, before marketing their products, that the products are safe when used as directed in their label or under customary conditions of use."  Basically, the manufacturers, not the FDA, are responsible for the safety of their own products.  These are the same manufacturers who also want you as a consumer.  Cue the red flags, please.  Having said that, do you know what's in your nail polish?  Largely, we are talking about toluene, formaldehyde, and DBP, also known as the "toxic trio".  Let's define these:

Toluene:  helps nail polish go on smoothly and adhere evenly to the nail.  According to the EPA, toluene is a chemical added to gasoline to improve octane ratings, but has also been used in the production of polymers, like nail polish (and nylon and plastic soda bottles...).  Low to moderate levels of toluene inhalation have resulted in dizziness, nausea, headaches, and depression to the more severe exposure which can negatively effect kidney and liver function.  It is also a respiratory tract irritant.  If your nail polish bottle reads No Toluene, you're safe, but if it doesn't you need to assume it's in there.

Formaldehyde or formaldehyde resin: helps nail polish to harden.  First of all, formaldehyde stinks terribly.  Remember that awful smell from advanced biology class when you were staring at a little piggy with scalpel in hand?  Yeah, that one.  Well you're willingly painting yourself with it.  The EPA states that, "Besides the annoyance, it also causes acute eye burning and irritates mucous membranes and the respiratory tract. EPA has determined formaldehyde to be a probable human carcinogen."  And carcinogen = cancer causer.

DBP or dibutyl phthalate: stops nail polish from chipping.  It's no secret that scientists have shown that phthalates are another group of cancer causing toxins, endocrine disruptors and gender-benders (reproductive toxicity).  They are so dangerous that the European Union has completely banned its use, naming it one of the top six harmful chemicals known to humans...

But look on the bright side!  There are some safer options out there.  The safest being wear nothing.  The second safest option would be to find a nail polish that boldly labels themselves as having NO Toluene, NO Formaldehyde and NO DBP, also known as "3 Free".  They may be harder to find in stores, but a quick search on Amazon or Google will find you many.  I have two brands that I love.  Karma Hues @ karmaorganicspa.com has an AMAZING line of organic nail care products.  I have been sporting their "Another Beautiful Day in LA" shade of lavender inspired polish and I love it.  I also tried it out on my fingernails (which I never do in the spring because my hands are always in the dirt) and it lasted longer than any other fingernail polish I have used in recent memory.  I was impressed and I'm dying to try their Soybean Oil & Lavender Nail Polish Remover.  I also like SpaRitual @ sparitual.com for their super fun and dynamic colors.  You can't go wrong with either brand, but I would love to hear if you find another natural line that you love.  More and more manufacturers are catching on to the "3 Free" movement so safer nail polishes will hopefully become more readily available.  I hope I've offered you some insight into a very toxic beauty product that is often overlooked.  Don't feel like throwing out your favorite chemical filled nail polish?  Don't sweat it, but next time you go to purchase one try to make it up to your body by going "3 Free".

Until next time, Be Well.

Walk with me.

pennsylvania wilds

For years, close friends and family have been urging me to start a blog on my musings of wellness, from what it looks like, tastes like and sounds like to what it feels like.  And I'm telling you, it feels good!  So here I will be giving my opinion on clean eating, non-toxic products, sustainable organizations, nutrition and supplements, healthy alternatives for kiddos in play and food, gardening, canning, homemade items...the list goes on.  My brain seriously never stops thinking about living a cleaner, healthier lifestyle.  So my hope is that through my research and dedication to this lifestyle it may in some small way benefit you, too.  So take my hand and walk with me on this fun little journey called "Be Well".