living 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:

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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.

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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.

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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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Did Somebody Say GIVEAWAY?!!

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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".