A Health and Food Blog centered around Organic Living. I'm Sara, RD, CLT. I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified LEAP Therapist who believes in whole foods made with unprocessed ingredients. Let me show you how delicious and easy real food can be.
Did you know that there are potentially 5 lifestyle behaviors at the root of acid reflux, and high acid production may not be one of them?
I don’t know about you, but I grew up in a household that lived by antacid tablets and pepto bismol, with a constant stock pile in the medicine cabinet and fridge, and a “just go take an antacid” floating around the kitchen table.
I distinctly remember a time when my mom ran around the house frantically looking for the specific flavor of antacid tablets that my dad liked because he had eaten too much at dinner and was so uncomfortable and in pain that he thought he might lose it. Essentially, acid reflux wore the pants at my house.
I honestly grew up assuming it was normal to have acid reflux the older you got, as just about every adult I knew had the exact same issues. As my parents got older however (as did I), my mom’s symptoms got so bad that one day she came home from the doctor’s office with an official diagnosis- the dreaded GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, typically accompanied by actual erosion of the esophagus and increasing the chances for other very serious side effects. She also came back with a shiny new bottle of little purple pills. Nexium, like other proton pump inhibitors (PPIs; think Nexium, Prilosec, Prevacid, Protonix, Tums), STOP the stomach’s cells from creating stomach acid during the digestion process, which greatly reduces the acid that can slosh into the esophagus at any given time, reducing pain and erosion associated with GERD and reflux.
What my mom wasn’t told however was that this medication, and any acid suppressing or neutralizing medicine, should only be used for a short time and can lead to multiple vitamin and mineral deficiencies, ulcers in the stomach, bacterial infections in the intestine, and a slew of digestive disorders if used long term.
This study correlates an increased long-term and overutilized use of PPIs with vitamin B12, calcium, vitamin C, and iron deficiency (Heidelbaugh, 2013).
Long term use of antacids can be harmful long term @organicRD Click To Tweet
This study highlights the potential side effects of renal damage, fractures related to osteoporosis, pneumonia and c. difficile infections, and anemia with long term use (Yu, Sun, Zhang, Li, Yu, Yuan, … Wang, 2017).
And this article relates PPI use with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, travelers diarrhea, and magnesium deficiency (Johnson, & Oldfield IV, 2013).
Fortunately, we now know that there are so many lifestyle causes of acid reflux disease, that when changed can completely reverse all signs and symptoms without the harsh side effects of prescribed drugs. Because, just so you know- reflux is not normal, belching after a meal is not normal, constipation is definitely not normal, and neither is abdominal bloating or distention.
Do you suffer with acid reflux or GERD, or really any digestion related issues? Let’s take a peek at 5 potential lifestyle behaviors that might be at the root cause of your reflux symptoms:
1. Eating then going straight to bed
When you eat a meal this triggers the stomach to create acid to begin the digestion process. Laying down or going to bed right after a meal is like turning the liquid-filled ziplock bag upside down and praying that it doesn’t bust open.
2. A high carbohydrate or sugar diet
Quite a few studies have shown a huge correlation between a high carb, high sugar diet and an increase in reflux symptoms, with most symptoms completely resolving once the carbs in their diet have been reduced. Think bread, pasta, soda, candy, and sweets.
3. Stress; before, during, or after eating
Stress increases stress hormones in the body, causing the less blood flow to the digestive organs, which can lead to reflux, constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, belching, and just flat out discomfort. If you’re looking to decrease reflux and increase proper digestion, try setting aside a relaxing time to eat, away from the tv or the work desk. Your tummy will thank you!
4. Bingeing; eating an excessive amount all at once
I can’t even begin to count how many antacids were popped at my house during the holidays. Too much food means too much pressure in the stomach, causing the valve between the stomach and esophagus, or the zip on the ziplock bag, to bust open or leak acid and food into the esophagus. Hello reflux! Try only eating until you’re 80% full- just enough, but not too much. Or as Confucian would say, Hara hachi bu.
5. Alcohol and dairy at meals
Sorry guys! Though a daily glass of red wine with dinner does have its health benefits, it can actually increase symptoms of reflux. This can be linked to alcohol, similarly to dairy, loosening the seal on the valve separating the stomach and esophagus, or the gastroesophageal sphincter, allowing acid to escape into the esophagus easily, and burn baby, burn!
Just remember, it’s not always about the overabundance of acid in the stomach that causes the symptoms. Reflux is actually more often related to a poorly sealing valve. Think of it this way; no matter how much water you pour into a ziplock bag, if the zip doesn’t close fully you’re gunna get wet, and taking some of the water out of the bag won’t fix this problem. We’ve got to work on fixing the zipper instead.
If you’re having digestive issues in general or have dealt with reflux or GERD for weeks or for years and need help getting to the root cause? Learn more about working with Sara by clicking on the link below to schedule a free 30 minute discovery call. Because no, it’s not normal. But it is possible to heal. So cheers to you on your personal health journey!
Johnson, D., & Oldfield IV, E. (2013). Exam 1: Reported Side Effects and Complications of Long-term Proton Pump Inhibitor Use: Dissecting the Evidence. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 11(5). doi:10.1016/j.cgh.2013.03.002
Heidelbaugh, J. J. (2013). Proton pump inhibitors and risk of vitamin and mineral deficiency: Evidence and clinical implications. Therapeutic Advances in Drug Safety, 4(3), 125-133. doi:10.1177/2042098613482484
Yu, L.-Y., Sun, L.-N., Zhang, X.-H., Li, Y.-Q., Yu, L., Yuan, Z.-Q.-Y., … Wang, Y.-Q. (2017). A Review of the Novel Application and Potential Adverse Effects of Proton Pump Inhibitors. Advances in Therapy, 34(5), 1070–1086. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12325-017-0532-9
Nothing is TMI for me. I talk to my clients all the time about their poop. Your poop can give you some insights into your health. What it looks like, what color it is, if it floats, how it smells, and how often you go. Let me tell you – there are so many people out there that don’t know what healthy bowel movements look like, so here is your daily lesson. These are my top 10 Signs of a Healthy Poop and what’s normal:
1. You should be going AT LEAST once per day. If you go twice even better. Just because you have only gone 2, 3, 4, or 5 times per week your entire life DOES NOT make it normal!
An important reason we have bowel movements is to rid out bodies of excess waste and toxins. If you don’t go every day, then your body can reabsorb those toxins and put extra burden on your body and liver. Included in those toxins that your body is trying to eliminate are excess hormones. Constipation can contribute to things like estrogen dominance because it causes extra hormones to be reactivated as they recirculate in your body.
2.On the flip side, you shouldn’t be running to the bathroom 4+ times per day either. Food still needs some time to move through your digestive system properly so that you can soak in all of the nutrients your body needs.
3. It should look like toothpaste coming out of a tube. Type 3 or 4 on this chart is best. Anything 1-2 is considered constipation. Anything 5-7 is considered diarrhea. So even if you are going to the bathroom 1-2 times a day it is still important to consider what it looks like.
4. It should feel like a full elimination. Even if your stool looks like 3 or 4, if it is only a couple inches long and you don’t feel relieved after going it could be a sign of poor motility (or slow moving).
5. You shouldn’t see your undigested food in your stool (corn may be the exception). This can be a sign you don’t have enough enzymes or stomach acid to breakdown your foods. Your body is designed to make sufficient enzymes and acid all on its own. Things like gut infections, pathogens, toxins, stress, and some medications can damage the microrvilli that line your digestive system. This damage can prevent your body from producing those beneficial enzymes that help you breakdown food.
6.It should be brown in color for the most part. Stool color can be influenced by what you eat, such as lots of leafy greens or beets.
7. It shouldn’t look greasy or float (could be a fat malabsorption issue). If you aren’t properly breaking down and absorbing your healthy fats, then you aren’t able to benefit from this amazing nutrient. Fat is important for hormone and brain health. More fat in your stool can be a sign of many things including gallbladder issues since this organ releases bile that helps emulsify fat.
#pooptalk What is normal? What is says about your health? @organicRD Click To Tweet
8. You shouldn’t have to sit on the toilet for 30 minutes with a newspaper to have a BM (ehm men!). Am I right ladies? Men in particular seem to think this is a normal habit because it is very common. Passing a bowel movement should be fairly easy otherwise that can be another sign that constipation is an issue.
9. If the only reason you go poop is because you drank coffee there may be something going on, especially if you have other symptoms. Coffee makes you go because the caffeine helps to relax the muscles in the digestive system. Don’t know for sure if you can go without that morning cup of coffee? Then I encourage you to cut it out for a few days and see if you still have a bowel movement on your own.
10. If you can’t go without high doses of magnesium that might not be a good sign. Magnesium helps relax the bowel (kind of like caffeine does) so you can go but doesn’t address why you can’t go. I do use magnesium citrate sometimes with my clients when we start working together to make sure they get rid of toxins. But I do this while we investigate the root cause of their constipation.
It is important to note that things like fiber (including fiber supplements) and staying hydrated by drinking enough water can be important to have a normal bowel movement. But I have had clients overly depend on these things. At the end of the day also comes down to other symptoms and properly testing to make sure your gut health is optimal and working at its best.
Keeping an eye on your digestive health is important because it is an indicator of your general health. When things start to go wrong, symptoms are the bodies way of letting you know something isn’t right. If you don’t listen and ignore those symptoms then you might be putting yourself at risk for more health problems later on down the road.
So there you go. Are you a good pooper? If not, then you need to investigate why. When I work with my clients I use good functional lab tests to help get to the root problem.
If you are serious about getting to the root problem of your symptoms and health concerns then click on the button below to schedule your free 30 minute discovery call to see if we would be a good fit to work together!
It’s become my tradition to share a cake recipe in celebration of my birthday. One year it was a Healthy Ice Cream Cake and another year it was a grain and gluten free Chocolate Cupcake with Peanut Butter and Banana Frosting. I have a special relationship to chocolate, peanut butter, and banana as a flavor combination – who doesn’t love those three things together?! In the spirit of my April birthday, spring, and to showcase my love for all things lemon (another favorite flavor of mine-see here and here), this year I decided to make a Lemon Sponge Cake with Strawberry Buttercream.
This year I also wanted to highlight a completely different ingredient that I haven’t baked with yet. I have heard so many great things about cassava flour (Otto’s brand in particular); it is easy to use and works great in baked goods. I knew I had to try it out for myself. Many of my clients go grain free even if it is for a short time during the healing process, so I am always looking for more recipes to share with them (and with you).
Showcasing grain free cassava flour- Lemon Sponge Cake with Buttercream Frosting @organicRD Click To Tweet
The verdict: cassava flour really is amazing! It is grain free, gluten free and contains beneficial resistant starch. Resistant starch helps feed your good gut bacteria which helps produce short-chain fatty acids. Those fatty acids support the health and healing of cells in the small and large intestine.
Lots of grain-free desserts use almond flour which I love to use as well but not everyone can tolerate nuts. Nuts are higher in more inflammatory fats so you never want to overdo it when it comes to eating nuts. To support a healthy inflammatory response it is all about balance. I have also experimented with coconut flour in the past as another option for grain-free baking but never enjoyed the texture. Cassava flour is a great nutrient-dense solution while still being grain and gluten free.
When experimenting with this cake I discovered a couple of things that I wanted to mention. If you want a slightly fluffier cake, then I recommend separating the eggs and whipping the whites. Folding the whipped eggs whites into the batter before baking helps add more air and results in a lighter cake. If you are in a hurry or don’t feel like taking the extra time to perform this step, then you can simply add in the whole eggs. This cake will still work and be delicious, but it will be slightly denser.
If you don’t like strawberries or want to switch things up, then you could absolutely use whatever fruit you have on hand or enjoy. I bet this would be amazing with raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, or peaches. Inside the cake you could also use grapefruit, lime, or oranges instead of lemon. I can’t wait to make all kinds of combinations. When you make this be sure to share it and tag me over on my Instagram page – I want to know what combo you chose!
Lemon Sponge Cake with Strawberry Buttercream (Using Cassava Flour)
Celebrate spring with this Lemon Sponge Cake with Strawberry Buttercream, a grain-free, gluten-free cake made from cassava flour. Lots of combinations to try!
3 each eggs, seperated
1/2 cup organic cane sugar (or coconut sugar)
1/2 cup Nutivia Organic Shortening (dairy free) (or one stick of butter, softened)
2 Tbsp lemon zest
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice ((about 2-3 large lemons))
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 cup Otto's Cassava Flour ((other brands won't result the same))
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup fresh strawberries, stems removed
1/4 cup Nutivia Organic Shortening (dairy free)
1/4 cup coconut butter, softened ((note coconut butter and NOT oil))
1 Tbsp raw honey or pure maple syrup
For the cake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Seperate the egg yolks from the whites. Reserving the yolks.
Whip the egg whites using a whisk or hand blender until soft peaks form.
In a seperate bowl, cream together the sugar and shortening (or butter).
Mix in the lemon zest, juice, milk, and egg yolks.
In another bowl, blend together the cassava flour, salt, and baking soda.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix until incorporated.
Gently fold in the whipped egg whites.
Pour the batter into a 9 inch well greased cake pan. (I like silicone pans)
Bake until the top is golden brown and a knife comes out clean. About 25-35 minutes. (30 minutes was perfect for me)
When the cake is done allow it to cool for 5-10 minutes and flip the cake out of the pan onto a cooling rack to allow it to cool completely. (or the frosting will melt)
Add all of the buttercream frosting ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth. Add in a couple teaspoons of extra coconut milk if you need help mixing everything together so that it comes out smooth.
Once the cake is fully cooled. Spread the frosting all over the top.
Serve with extra berries as desired.
Store in an airtight container for up to one week in the fridge. Note the frosting will firm up in the fridge but still delicious.
Attending Expo West has been a dream of mine. This year, I was finally able to go and it was everything I thought it would be, and more! As a health food junkie it was like going to Disneyland (which just so happened to be across the street). I got to try some products I hadn’t heard of and taste products that haven’t even hit store shelves yet. It was also really cool to see the various food trends.
If you ever plan on attending Expo West, here are some of my quick tips.
First: book your hotel yearly. I waited too long so options near the convention center were either booked or too expensive. I ended up staying about ten miles away, but being closer would have been nice. They do have free parking at the Angels Stadium and shuttles that bring you to and from the parking lot to the convention center. That was a wonderful service! We never had to wait for a new bus. They have that system down to a science.
Second: use the bag drop service. They have a tent on site where you can drop off your bags as they start to fill up and get really heavy. My back did not enjoy the added weight. Comfortable shoes is a must!
Lastly: don’t eat breakfast. Normally I would never suggest skipping meals. I made this mistake the first day and was already full before I got to the Expo. Just about every booth offers samples to try on site and I had to turn down so many. Not everyone offers packaged samples to take with you, so if you want to try it, you want to have an appetite to do so.
I noticed a lot of food trends. Not all of them are really that new or surprising, but still, it was fun to see them. The health nut inside of me was jumping for joy.
Adding turmeric to everything! Things like cereal, kombucha, salad dressing, drinks, or ghee. You name it, they put turmeric in it. With the thousands of studies that prove its health benefits and support of a healthy inflammatory response, it is no wonder that it has become so popular.
Dairy free ice cream is all the rage. This is not surprising with all of the digestive issues going on in the world today. One of the top allergens I see even with my own clients is dairy (particularly cow dairy). So it’s great news that there are now so many different types and flavors of dairy free products hitting the shelves. You can have your ice cream and eat it too! (See the “My Favorites” section below for my top pick.)
Lots of sparkling beverages. Even Chameleon Cold Brew is adding a sparkling coffee to their line. This is another trend that isn’t too surprising considering all of the people getting smarter about soda. Even diet soda has been shown to impact blood sugars and contribute to weight gain, so instead of giving up the bubbles altogether, there are now more options for a better substitute. The flavor possibilities are endless! Some are completely unsweetened and other use Stevia or monk fruit.
Cauliflower is the new grain free substitute. You no longer have to painlessly make cauliflower crust at home. It actually isn’t that hard to do when you get the technique down, but if you don’t feel like making your own at home there are a couple of brands now on the market. I even saw cauliflower crackers and cauliflower flour represented at the expo. This makes an amazing grain free and gluten free substitute especially if you can’t do nuts (almond flour).
Fermented everything! I see lots of digestive issues in my private practice (pretty much 100% of my clients) so I am glad to see we are becoming more concerned about protecting our gut bacteria. The fermented salsa from Wildbrine was awesome! I tasted so much kombucha during the Expo and I am not complaining about it at all. I am a sucker for a good kombucha and the flavor combinations I tasted are brilliant.
My Favorite Products
Out of all of the products I tried (and man I tried a lot) these were some of my top picks:
Best dairy free ice cream:Van Leeuwe (get the Earl Grey Tea flavor – I am still dreaming about it)
Best dairy free yogurt: You know I am always going to love Coyo coconut yogurt and they have a new vanilla flavor that is coming out which was amazing! I also loved Forager’s new greek-style cashew yogurt. The lime flavor was delicious and oh so creamy!
Best new products from already great companies: One of the fun things about going to Expo West is that a lot of great, established companies use it as an opportunity to introduce new products that haven’t yet hit the market. Three of my favorites fell into this category.
Rebbl is releasing some new flavors that are amazing, Berries & Creme and a Roots Mango Spice.
Siete is coming out with some new flavors of their already popular grain free tortilla chips and you will need to get the ranch flavor when the time comes.
Primal Kitchen has a bunch of new products coming out and their Lemon Turmeric salad dressing was my favorite of all the new stuff.
Jackson’s Honest already makes the best potato chips cooked in coconut oil but they are adding a grain free puff to their line.
I hope you enjoyed the highlights and if you followed along with me on Instagram I appreciate it! Till next year.
Trying to eat healthier doesn’t mean you have to give up your favorite recipes. For the recipes I don’t want to say goodbye to, I prefer to find better ingredients to swap out for old ones. I posted how I do just that with my go to Banana Nut and Seed Bread recipe on my Instagram page and had requests from you to share more. While this grain-free banana bread is delicious, sometimes you just want a piece of Classic Banana Bread. This is it!
The original version of this banana bread came from the Flour’s famous banana bread that was posted on the Food Network’s website. I have used this recipe for years and I can absolutely see why it is famous. When I used to make this recipe I would use all-purpose flour, white sugar, and vegetable oil. I stopped making if for a couple of years because I prefer not to bake with such refined ingredients. This bread is one of my husband’s favorites, so when he asked me why I didn’t make banana bread anymore I knew it was time to make a few swaps.
Have some ripe bananas on your counter? You need this Classic Banana Bread @organicRD Click To Tweet
Eating well isn’t about giving up everything you love; it’s about finding and using better ingredients. Look for ingredients that are more nutrient-dense and less processed.
For my Classic Banana Bread recipe I only made a few simple changes. Instead of all-purpose flour, I use Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Gluten Free Baking Flour. Many of my clients don’t do well with gluten so this flour makes baking gluten-free much easier.
When it comes to sugar in a recipe I always prefer replacements like honey, coconut sugar, or maple syrup. For this recipe I wanted it to be as close to the classic version as possible (my husband especially is pretty picky that way) so I used an organic raw cane sugar and didn’t put in as much as was called for in the original recipe. I typically cut sugar amounts in most recipes because my taste buds have adjusted over the years. The full amount of sugar in the original recipe would be too sweet for me.
Vegetable or canola oil is often used in baked goods because it doesn’t add much flavor, but the downside is that this type of fat is highly inflammatory. Coconut oil is amazing for baking but the coconut taste can be overpowering. My husband hates coconut! He can taste coconut in a recipe from a mile away. Since I make this bread for him, I had to find a solution. Enter: refined coconut oil. Generally I don’t recommend refined oils but Nutiva brand has a better refining process than others.
Nutiva Refined Coconut Oil is made though a steam-refining process. Absolutely no chemicals are used! The benefit of refined coconut oil is that it has a higher smoke point than virgin coconut oil. You can cook with it at up to 400°F (versus 350°F for virgin coconut oil).
The other benefit of the refined version is that it doesn’t taste like coconut. When I use it in this recipe my husband doesn’t taste coconut at all!
See? It is it possible to enjoy some of the recipes that you love while still making healthier choices. Enjoy!
Classic Banana Bread
Why say goodbye to your favorite recipes? Replace old ingredients with new ones instead! This Classic Banana Bread recipe is gluten free and uses higher quality ingredients, making it tasty and healthier.
1 2/3 cups Bob's Red Mill 1:1 Gluten Free Flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup organic cane sugar
2 each eggs
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
4 each very ripe bananans, peeled and mashed
2 tablespoons coconut cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup walnuts
Set oven to 350 degrees F.
Line bottom of a 9×5 loaf pan with unbleached parchment paper.
In a large bowl mix together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
In the same bowl add sugar, eggs, oil, mashed banana, , coconut cream and vanilla.
Mix the ingredients together to form a batter.
Fold in the walnuts.
Pour the mixture into the lined loaf pan.
Bake for 1 hour – 1 hour 15 minutes until the top is golden brown and a knife comes out clean.
Allow to cool completely and store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
I posted a picture of one of my new favorite meals over on Instagram and a few of you asked for the recipe. Today I am delivering on that promise and sharing my Cabbage and Kale Chicken Taco Bowl with you! Call me crazy but I think this combination works so well. I can’t get enough!
Follow my hashtag #goodformyhormones over on Instagram and you will find I try to do things everyday that nourish my hormones. It could be anything from gentle movement, self-care, relaxing, sleeping, or nutrition.
Believe it or not this dish fits the requirements of supporting health hormones in multiple different ways. This Cabbage and Kale Chicken Taco Bowl is a balanced meal containing quality proteins, healthy fats, and good carbohydrates, which help stabilize blood sugar levels. If you ride the blood sugar roller coaster all day long, then you are stressing out your adrenal glands. Your adrenal glands have a lot of control over your other hormones too, so you want to keep them happy and healthy.
This Cabbage and Kale Chicken Taco Bowl has some important hormone-supporting ingredients. Avocado is a wonderful source of good fat. We have been afraid of fat for far too long. Healthy fats are important for many different reasons, one being that your hormones are made out of fat. Bottom line: if you don’t eat fat, you can’t make hormones.
Cabbage and kale are both in the cruciferous vegetable family. These types of vegetable help support your liver’s ability to properly detox and excrete excess hormones. If you liver is clogged up (which is a common problem with many of my clients), then your hormones can’t be detoxed from your body. This situation can contribute to things like estrogen dominance. Symptoms of high estrogen include:
Heavy or irregular periods
Weepy and emotional
Breast cysts or fibrocystic breasts
Gall bladder problems
Blood sugar issues
I hope you (and your hormones) enjoy this Cabbage and Kale Chicken Taco Bowl as much as I do. When you make it be sure to share with me over on Instagram, tag me in the photo @theorganicdietitian, and include the hashtag #goodformyhormones.
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Sprouts Farmers Market. All opinions are 100% mine.
The big game is just around the corner and one necessity for any Super Bowl party is a BIG tray of nachos! But I don’t do anything without giving it a twist and these Chicken Enchilada Plantain Nachos are no exception.
Football fan I am not, but I do love chicken enchiladas and nachos so they made the perfect marriage.
I am also obsessed with plantain chips and eat at least one or two bags ever single week. Have you tried them yet? They are literally my favorite snack. Try them dipped in some guacamole. The perfect combinations of healthy carbohydrate and good fat. I seriously would get stock in plantain chips if I could. I first fell in love with plantains on a trip to Puerto Rico where I ate my weight in tostones.
Plantains look like banana but they are much starchier and when they are not sweet at all when they have a green skin. The starch is extremely beneficial and is known as a resistant starch. This type of starch isn’t fully broken down and absorbed so that it can be food for the good bacteria in your digestive system, also known as a prebiotic.
Chicken Enchilada Plaintain Nachos for the WIN! @organicRD Click To Tweet
You all probably have heard how important the gut is for our overall health and particularly having a large amount of good bacteria to keep things functioning well. I have also previously written about how gut health is connected to our hormone health. Swapping out the traditional corn chips for plantain chips with these nachos helps boost the nutritional content and health benefits of traditional nachos.
Who doesn’t love the gooey cheese covering a loaded plate of nachos? I love it too but dairy isn’t something everyone tolerates well. When working with my clients I often run food sensitivity tests with them and I can say that one of the top sensitivities I see is cows dairy. A large percentage of the population can’t tolerate certain types of dairy so I topped these Chicken Enchilada Plantain Nachos with an easy homemade cashew cheese sauce. This way no matter who shows up to your party they will have some allergen friendly options that is still completely tailgate worthy.
I am all about sharing recipes with a twist. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner I couldn’t think of anything better to share with you then these super easy Chinese Five Spice Chocolate Truffles. Before you think I am crazy for adding Chinese Five Spice to chocolate I encourage you to give it a try.
The inspiration for this combination came from a chocolate tour and tasting my husband and I did in Hawaii. We went on a three-hour adventure and learned all about the cacao tree and how to make chocolate from the cacao fruit. At the end of the tour we sat down to an extensive chocolate tasting.
We tasted twenty different types of chocolate that were all grown and made in Hawaii. The experience was as amazing as it sounds! We tried chocolate with ginger, pineapple, bacon, coconut, and nuts.
With all of the different types we tried, my favorite bite of chocolate during that three hours and twenty different tastings was the one with Chinese Five Spice! I was just as surprised as you probably are right about now. You may even be wondering, “What the heck is this spice?!”
If you aren’t familiar with Chinese Five Spice, it typically contains spices like cloves, star anise, cinnamon, fennel, and pepper. It has a bit of a black licorice flavor that works so well with dark chocolate.
If you would have told me fifteen years ago that I would love dark chocolate I might not have believed you. I was “Team Milk Chocolate” all the way. But then I learned about all of the health benefits contained within dark chocolate. It is important to know that not all chocolate is created equal.
Dark chocolate is full of antioxidants and the higher percentage of cacao, the more nutrients. Over time my taste buds have adjusted and now I can’t get enough of the dark stuff!
If you are as big of a chocolate fan as I am, then you will also love some of my other favorites! How about a Chocolate Fruit Crisp for Two, served with a Strawberry White Hot Chocolate? Both would be perfect to share with a loved one this Valentine’s Day along with these Chinese Five Spice Chocolate Truffles! Give this recipe a try, be sure to let me know what you think in the comments and share it with me over on Instagram!
I celebrated Christmas by being sick with a head cold. Sore throat, sinus pressure, runny nose, and feeling overall yucky. Being sick is never fun. Luckily, I usually only catch a cold once per year. When symptoms start I ramp up supporting my immune system in a few different ways. I’m often asked by my clients what my favorite natural remedies are, so let me share exactly what I did this past week.
Before I dive in I want to mention that if you frequently have colds or the flu, it may be a sign of HPA axis dysfunction or adrenal fatigue. Being under long-term stress can weaken your immune system. Chronic stress increases a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol’s job it to help your body deal with stress in a number of ways, one of which is to reduce inflammation. When cortisol is always high due to long-term stress, it can actually suppress the immune system and leave you more vulnerable to infections. If you get sick on a regular basis, before trying these natural remedies, you might want to start with a comprehensive hormone panel to check your cortisol levels.
In general, you want support your immune system by living a healthy lifestyle. This means eating healthy foods, avoiding food allergens and sensitivities, getting adequate sleep, having just the right amount of movement, limiting stress, reducing sugar, and supplying your body with needed nutrients. All of these things together help support your body when you’re exposed to a bug.
When I initially notice a symptom (this time around it was my throat), my first natural remedy secret is zinc. Having some zinc within 24 hours of the onset of symptoms helps to shorten the length of your cold. The theory is that zinc keeps cold viruses from multiplying and setting up shop in your nose and throat. I like Zand Elderberry Zinc Herbalozenges but it is important to get the right amount of zinc. I use four lozenges per day (20 mg zinc gluconate), but be sure not to use more than eight lozenges per day as the package recommends (2). I don’t recommend high doses of zinc for more than three days because high doses of zinc over time can actually start to suppress the immune system.
On mornings when I don’t feel so hot, I’ll have a cup of Echinacea tea with extra lemon. Echinacea is a popular herb that helps support the immune system. Being sick is a stress for the body and when under stress, our body uses vitamin C more rapidly. The added vitamin C from lemon helps replenish the body’s supply. Add some raw honey for its antibacterial, antiviral, and antimicrobial activity (1). Much of this is due to the natural vitamins, enzymes, antioxidants, and other important nutrients found in raw honey.
My natural remedy daily routine also includes one shot of Fire Cider, a couple spoonful’s of I-Boost Herbal Sauerkraut by Pickled Planet (for a good dose of probiotics too), and a dose of oregano (3). The Fire Cider and Herbal Sauerkraut contain ingredients like horseradish, ginger, garlic and cayenne that support the immune system and break up congestion. Oregano contains antioxidants for immune system support and certain phytochemicals that act as powerful antimicrobials. This powerful herb can be purchased in pill form like with the OregaMax and is also an ingredient in the Pickled Planet sauerkraut.
A few other things to consider:
Sleep! Your body uses a lot of energy and resources to fight off illness, which is why we get so tired when we are sick. Listen to the clues your body is trying to give you and rest. Out of all the advice I can give, sleep is probably the best natural remedy I can recommend.
Hydrate! An important thing to do when you have a cold is to replenish fluids lost from sweat, urine, and decreased food intake. My favorite fluids include filtered water, hot tea, and bone broth. You could also try my Immune Boosting Elderberry Lavender Latte.
There are many things that you can do when you get sick, but these are my personal go-to remedies. How do you usually battle illness? Let me know in the comment!
I am super excited! Yes, my excitement is over a hormone test. You may have already noticed how much I love using DUTCH hormone testing with my clients. I talk about it a lot on my Instagram and often even show you a glimpse into the results I see with my own clients. The great news is that they are adding even more beneficial information and not changing the price, not even by one penny!
What are they adding?
They are adding six organic acids tests (OATs). Organic acids are metabolic byproducts of cellular metabolism and they can be measured from a urine sample. This comprehensive hormone test is already super informative, but now it’s even better. Starting January 2, 2018, Precision Analytical, Inc. is adding three neurotransmitter metabolites to offer insights into symptoms such as mood disorders and fatigue, and will be combined with markers for vitamin B12, vitamin B6, and glutathione deficiency. A neurotransmitter is a substance that sends signals between nerve cells in the brain and they body.
Homovanillate (HVA) the primary metabolite of dopamine
Vanilmandelate (VMA) the primary metabolite of norepinephrine/epinephrine
5- Hydroxyindoleacetate (5HIAA) the primary metabolite of serotonin
These three organic acids are the primary metabolites of dopamine, norephinephrine and serotonin. Dopamine is produced by the brain and acts as a chemical messenger between brain cells. If dopamine is low it can contribute to fatigue, low motivation, inability to handle stress, Parkinson’s, ADHD, depression, and addiction issues.
Norephinephrine is released from the adrenal glands as part of the body’s response to stress. With this information we get even more insight into the adrenal and HPA (hypothalamus pituitary adrenal) axis function. Low levels of norepinephrine may also lead to conditions such as ADHD, depressions, and very low blood pressure.
Many clients with low hormone levels report symptoms of fatigue, anxiety, trouble sleeping, and depression. Serotonin deficiency can also contribute significantly to these issues. Prolonged periods of stress, poor diet, toxins, and hormone changes can lead to depleted serotonin levels. Serotonin affects every part of your body and is responsible for many important functions including bowel movements, sleep, bone health, and sexual function. If your levels aren’t in balance, it can impact your mental, physical, and emotional health.
Nutritional Organic Acids
Methylmalonate marker for vitamin B12
Xanthurenate marker for vitamin B6
Pyroglutamate marker for glutathione
These three organic acids act as functional markers of nutrient deficiency. When the body has inadequate cellular levels of vitamin B12, vitamin B6, or glutathione, levels of their corresponding organic acid build up and spill into the urine. In some cases, these markers are more effective than measuring the nutrient directly in the blood. Organic acid tests show you if you have enough of a nutrient to meet your specific metabolic needs; one step up from simply counting how much of a vitamin is in your blood. Not all vitamins are stored in the blood. Vitamin B12 is stored in the liver, so blood levels may not be the most accurate.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is thought to be one of the leading nutrient deficiencies. It is an important nutrient to support your mood, energy levels, heart, skin, hair, memory, and digestion. B12 is also essential when addressing adrenal fatigue and hormonal balance due to its link to adrenal cortex stress. Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include fatigue, brain fog, memory problems, muscle weakness, unsteady gait, numbness, tingling, depression, migraines/headaches, and low blood pressure.
Vitamin B6 benefits the nervous system, balanced blood sugar levels, mood, immune system, and energy levels. Symptoms of vitamin B6 deficiency include changes in mood, such as irritability, anxiety and depression, confusion, muscle pains, low energy, or fatigue. Birth control pills tend to create lower levels of vitamin B6 and B12 so if you have ever taken oral contraceptives you may be deficient.
Glutathione is one of the most potent antioxidants in the human body. It is especially important in getting rid of toxins and can protect against cancer, aging, heart problems, and brain diseases. Poor diet, pollution, toxins, medications, stress, trauma, aging, and infections can deplete your glutathione levels.
You can see why I am so thrilled that Precision Analytical, Inc. continues to add to the already advanced DUTCH test for hormones. I am excited to see how my clients will benefit from these additions. Ready to work on balancing your hormones and get a comprehensive look at your personal levels? Schedule a FREE 30 minute discovery call using the link below.