Archive for July 2015

Healing Herbs: Beginner’s Guide

Are you interested in incorporating herbal health into your daily routine? There are a lot of easy ways to do this with friendly herbs that you know well and probably have lying around your kitchen anyway. I used to buy fresh herbs for a certain recipe and then watch, helplessly, as they disintegrated in the freezer or turned bad in the fridge. These are some ways that I incorporate healing herbs and below is a great table to refer to! I’m excited to share an intermediate guide next week!

1. One clove of garlic every day. Either pop it into your mouth or include it in your morning smoothie/juice. This is incredibly important for anyone with heart disease/stroke in the family.
2. Turmeric sprinkled on EVERYTHING- not a strong taste to effect your spice profile, but so many benefits!
3. Cardamon is warming, like cinnamon, but much better for digestive health and liver detox. I use it when I bake to replace sweetness of sugar, honey, or cinnamon, and sprinkle it on all my sweets.
4. Peppermint oil drops are excellent if you have any acid reflux or heartburn issues. Please try this before using any over-the-counter option. You can apply directly to tongue or take in capsules.

When you’re using herbs and spices for health, make sure they are fresh and quality. You won’t get anything out of a stale or processed herb. Penzey’s is a great resource for spices. And check out your local farmers markets for fresh herbs!

Herbs

the wilderness of your intuition

Wish me luck on my practice today! I’m getting closer with my  headstand– this is how I’m doing it at home (and  bonus expert help in my class!)

1. Plank for 60 seconds
2. Get into “classical” headstand position on my knees in front of my wall by touching fingertips to opposite elbows, and interlacing fingers3. Moving my legs into down dog position from here, stretching my shoulders and strengthening my arms and neck to prepare
4. From that position, lifting each leg as high as I can, and touching my foot to the wall behind me if possible

Paleo cauliflower fried “rice”

IMG_1098I’ve said before that a big part of sticking to a nutrition regime is being able to replicate some of your favorite comfort foods. Funnily enough, the meal I made most often for myself in Dublin was fried rice. There’s something incredibly gratifying about cracking a fresh egg directly into a sizzling hot oiled pan and fluffing it around in your rice!

Tonight, I made this dish paleo style, using cauliflower that was processed into a fine rice with my Ninja mixer.  When I make fried rice, I get rid of all my vegetable overflow…which seems to happen more often in summer. What’s so fabulous about this recipe is that it can be easily made Vegan by leaving out the shrimp and rice-fluffing egg. I’ve written a lot about plant-based diets and how supportive I am. I myself, choose to eat seafood and local, sustainable meats, but I think a TRUE ancestral diet is composed mostly of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds….because that’s really what our ancestors ate.

Try this recipe and incorporate cauliflower rice the next time you’re planning on rice in any meal. You will be pleasantly surprised by how incredibly light and digestible it is compared to the VERY starchy white rice that we see most often. NOMNOM!

Paleo cauliflower fried “rice” (4 servings)

1. Chop and pan saute your veggies of choice in olive oil on medium-high heat. Like I said, I cull my vegetable population with this recipe, so tonight I threw in: carrots, cabbage, green onion and hot peppers from my CSA. I also threw in some frozen broccoli because I can’t have fried rice or hibachi without broccoli! For flavor, I add 2- 3 tablespoons of Coconut Aminos or Tamari (gluten free soy sauce) and one tablespoon Thai Kitchen green curry paste.

2. While your veggies are softening, chop your cauliflower into quarters and pull the florets off. Toss cauli florets into your food processor or blender and process until you have a fine grain. (You can eat it raw like this in salads or as a base to a chili/ curry.

3. Pull your veggies out of the pan and  toss in your cauliflower rice. Turn the heat up to HIGH and crack in 2 farm fresh eggs. Immediately stir the egg whites and yellows into your rice and watch it fluff!!!

4. When the cauliflower rice is slightly golden (3-5 minutes), turn your heat back down to medium and toss in your veggies and fresh shrimp (or thawed if you choose to use frozen)

5. Let this mixture simmer until the shrimp are cooked, stirring regularly to prevent sticking and to incorporate all ingredients. For extra flavor, I grate fresh ginger and fresh garlic.

6. Garnish with green onions and TRY to eat this all with your chopsticks. I had to use a spoon 🙂

Neolithic People: Orkney, Scotland

Aerial of modern farmland in Orkney

Aerial of modern farmland in Orkney (Nat Geo)

Paleolithic People get so much publicity in our modern world, so I want to tell you a little bit about the people I study: the first sustainable farmers, the Master Builders, the spiritually connected  Neolithic People of The British Isles. I went to graduate school in Ireland, so the majority of my knowledge and thus “archaeology” posts will focus on The British Isles. Long before the Egyptian Pyramids, and even before Stonehenge, around 3200 B.C.E, the farmers and herdsmen on the Orkney Islands built one of the most complete and comfortable Neolithic villages that remains today. This landscape is as fascinating as it is breathtaking, and surprisingly remote, yet within trade distance of the Scottish mainland, Norway, The Shetlands, and Ireland. Today, sheep graze where multiple Neolithic sites are scattered across a group of islands that once formed the spiritual and cultural center of Neolithic Britain.

The (largely sandstone) sites in Orkney form a larger complex, one that is sophisticated enough to make us seriously question the modern perception that cities began in and grew out of the fertile crescent, what we now call the “Middle East.” Neolithic Orcadians not only had the time to build massive stone monuments and houses, but were also some of the earliest farmers to manure their fields and import cattle and sheep, not native to the islands, but still there today. From what we can tell, archaeologically, these Neolithic people used only stone tools, which might explain why their culture became ‘obsolete’ when bronze  tools (later replaced by iron) reaches the British Isles.  It’s hard to know why, but we can tell that they ceremoniously and permanently abandoned their site at this time. Offerings of the bones of over 400 cattle and unslaughtered red deer lay untouched in the temple for for over 4000 years, and the system of buildings and monuments was covered with rubble. Did these Neolithic people do this to their own site? Did a conquering group do it?

It was hard for me to choose my concentration as an archaeology student because I love all history. I chose prehistory, and eventually the end of prehistory (the Neolithic), because of the mystery that surrounds these people that don’t have documented “histories” or use formal writing. We may never know the exact truth, but we do know that, like all people in history, they DID travel great distances, meet foreigners, and exchange ideas. They DID have incredibly sophisticated art, architecture, and religious and spiritual beliefs, and they DID incorporate sophisticated technologies and herbal medicines into their everyday lives, including those that allowed them to become the master farmers and builders we see left behind in remnants such as these.

Ring of Brodgar, Orkney Islands. 1000 years older than Stonehenge.

Ring of Brodgar, Orkney Islands. 1000 years older than Stonehenge (Nat Geo)

 

Motivation Monday

Take note. 10-Ways-To-Love-quotes-35465770-523-505

Paleo pasta primavera with zoodles and farmers market pesto

IMG_1087 It’s always been my feeling, especially in the kitchen, that constraint breeds creativity. Starting my Autoimmune Paleo regime to reduce inflammation forced me to develop new recipes and think outside the box for meals. Sandwiches aren’t something I can just “throw together,” and pasta is not typically on the menu.

Since I developed a Paleo repertoire, and began sharing those recipes with friends and you all, via my blog, I feel those constraints less and less. So in order to breed more creativity, this summer I’ve decided to add some new constraints and boost my health by reducing animal products in my diet and focusing on eating more vegetarian meals. This dish is made completely from vegetables & good fats and it is totally rich, filling, and nourishing.

This zoodler, as seen here on GMA with Natalie Morales is a life-changer. And I can get Matt to have fun cranking out my zoodles while I perfect my sauce and saute the veggies! It’s quick, light….pretty the perfect summer dinner! The best part is that these vegetables are from CSA [community supported agriculture], specifically, Transplanting Traditions in Orange County, NC. This CSA has an amazing story–I encourage everyone to get involved with sustainable agriculture near you!

Paleo pasta primavera with zoodles and farmers market pesto

Veggies – Choose locally grown and in season veggies that go well with pasta & Use olive oil to sautee hardest vegetables first, adding in softer ones as others soften
Zoodles
Use spiralizer tool to crank out roughly 1 zucchini per person

– Blanch zoodles in a pot of boiling water; immerse for just 1-2 minutes to soften
– Let noodles drain, and use cheesecloth to squeeze out excess water
– Add zoodles to sauteed veggies
Pesto
– In a blender or food processor, combine one bunch of Italian Basil (no stems), 1 cup of grated parmesan cheese, 1 cup of olive oil, juice from one lemon, and 2 tsp sea salt.
– add pesto to your sauteed veggies, plate, and enjoy!

*I prefer pesto sans the traditional pine nuts, which make pesto much more expensive and heartier. I recommend adding them in if you are a vegetarian or need the protein.

 

Pointy end down

Eggs have a natural air sac in their blunt end, where an incubating chick receives its oxygen for survival <3 Eggs are also always laid blunt end down, so that they have the most surface area to land on and cushion themselves. When an egg is stored pointy end up, with the air sac at the bottom, that sac will slowly rise and move towards the yolk, bringing any air and bacteria with it.  That will hasten not only the aging process of the egg, making it less fresh since keeping the yolk completely enclosed within the white protects the yolk from drying out, but also increase the likelihood that salmonella or other bacteria will reach the yolk more quickly and contaminate the egg. There is also a chance the air sac will rupture and contaminate the egg with any bacteria it contains. [fresh eggs daily.com]

Two grain-free “shortbread” cookies: rosemary and lavender

It’s like picking a favorite child. The woodsy, savory flavor of the rosemary cookie pairs so well with this buttery recipe, but the lavender is so fresh, subtle, and unique. I make two batches: one of each, so I can alternate flavors as I eat them.  I adapted this recipe from the Nourish Blog for the lavender cookies. Lavender is my absolute favorite, and a good friend gave me a gift of culinary lavender for my birthday this summer, so I had to make a grain-free version of these cookies that I made with her back when I was wheat-eater.  Baked goods are a rare treat for me, and these most certainly top my list of favorites.

Paleo Lavender Shortbread Cookies

Prep time: 10 min  Total time: 1 hr 30 min Makes: 18 cookies

1/2 cup (120 g) unsalted butter, softened

2-3 tbs (45 mL) honey, maple syrup, or other natural sweetener

4 tsp (20 mL) culinary lavender, minced

2 cups (240 g) almond flour

½ tsp (2.5 mL) sea salt

First, cream your butter and sweetener together. Next, combine your (3)  dry ingredients and add them to the creamed mixture. Mix until thoroughly incorporated. The next step is of utmost importance. Roll your dough into a 10 inch cylinder, using cling wrap. Make it as even as possible so that you can slice cookies from it once it has hardened. Refrigerate (or even freeze) the dough for 1 hour (freezer) 2+ (refrigerator). Once your cookies have chilled, preheat your oven to 325 Degrees. Remove cookie cylinder from plastic wrap before cutting, and slice into 16-18 cookies. Place them on a baking sheet for 15-20 minutes (until edges are brown). Remove, let cool, and enjoy!

To Doula or not to Doula

When I tell people that I’m becoming a Doula, the most common response is “what do they do?” and “why do people want one?”Well my friends…I have a pretty compelling list of reasons for that I came up with last night. I know that I won’t go through my future pregnancies without a Doula, and I hope you consider all the richness that this service can add to your childbearing journey!

1. One of the most obvious reasons that I’ve come across is that asking a father or other family member to provide primary support is an extremely difficult expectation put in place by modern society. A Doula enables a father or other family member to present at their comfort level; run the gamut of feelings and fears, and still be able to remain present spiritually for the mother and child in labor.

2. Doulas are trained in massage and relaxation techniques and use bonus natural medicines like essential oils, herbal tinctures, and hypnosis pain control. You are 100% guaranteed to be more comfortable and experience less pain through these techniques. If you also choose to use a breathing technique from another class, Doulas are trained to support you in that as well. It’s like a relaxation and pain control UPGRADE.

3. The largest study to date of Doula-assisted medical births shows a major reduction in length of labor, and a 50% reduction in unnecessary C-Sections. Doulas help to moderate procedures that may not be in your birth plan if they are avoidable, such as pitocin augmentation, membrane rupture, epidural, episiotomy, or any other preference for the expecting mother.

4. A dual certified birth/ postpartum Doula is typically with you from 3 months before delivery to 3 months after. Studies show that this constant companionship and support can have a truly positive effect on a mother’s long term view of herself and her relationship with her child. This is the best part to me! What more do you need to know?

5. If you are planing your birth at a Birth Center, then you may have an individual midwife who is trained in Doula techniques and Nursing, and committed to you through your pregnancy- woohoo! If you are birthing in a hospital, then you should contact me or check out your local DONA listings for options in pregnancy, birth, and postpartum companionship!

you can bear it

 

WILD

Super Sisters Bikini Bootcamp!

IMG_0728This January my acupuncturist told me to build lean muscle in my body as diligently as possible to combat my Crohns and PCOS, so I started on a new journey; one of strength building and pushing my body to new limits, rather than the previous 28 years of just trying to remain lean and under 140 pounds [ I’m 5’10 5’9.5 like Cindy Crawford 😉 and no, coffee did not stunt my growth]. I was so happy to get the news last night that I was selected as this year’s Bikini Bootcamp (Part 2) winner by Super Sister Fitness, LLC , a pair of sister trainer/nutritionists that I recommend to anyone pursuing optimum health. They have taught me so much about business & fitness and the importance of being persistent, consistent, positive, and resilient in both endeavors. I haven’t weighed myself in 12 weeks, and I have finally realized what a poor marker that really is for health and fitness.

You can check out my story and recent fitness journey on their blog. I’m excited to share my thoughts on the Rise Protein Bars and Health Warrior Chia Bars they are sending me as a prize! Additionally, I have free access to their Super System for Fat Burning Metabolism Program, and I will keep you updated on how you can participate along with me! Please comment below if you want to stay in the loop on my future programs with SSF.

I’m feeling the best I ever have and a huge part of that is my paleo diet and fitness regime. I still have a long journey ahead of me, but I’m excited for it and excited to build my life around it. I am so grateful to have my results and hard work recognized at this early point in my journey. In the last 2 years, I’ve been diagnosed with both Crohns and PCOS which have both had an impact on my self-esteem and body-image (along with the late twenties metabolism slow down). This program has truly empowered me, as a woman and as an athlete. We are not pretty things to be admired and held to unrealistic standards! We are strong mothers, sisters, daughters, and partners who can do ANYTHING we set our minds to.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

2 PM craving: Detoxifying Green Smoothie

Yum!

I don’t know about you, but every weekday between lunch and dinner my blood sugar gets so low that I crave things I wouldn’t normally eat like sweets, soda, chocolate…you get the picture. This is actually a normal physiological reaction that happens as a result of  a combination of dipping blood sugar during “fasts” or periods between meals, combined with specific areas of the brain [hippocampus, insula, caudate] being activated by stress, which triggers food cravings.  There’s nothing wrong with indulging in moderation in these things once in a while, but the resulting spike in your blood sugar after eating something processed or unnaturally sweetened can cause crashes, lethargy, and can effect your cravings and choices for later meals. I’ve come up with a much healthier, long-term solution that serves the double-duty of addressing that natural sugar craving we have with the sweetness of berries, while detoxifying your liver with the properties of antioxidants and cucumbers, which is something we could all stand to do between meals! When I pack my lunch for work, I also pack this green smoothie, which you can freeze the night before and drink when it is defrosted, or make the morning of, and store in your fridge at work.  Your day can totally change with one healthy choice, and this is an easy and impactful one. I use a NINJA blender for my smoothies so that I can include and really liquify fibrous veggies, which pack in so many nutrients!

Liver Detoxifying Green Smoothie
1 cucumber, peeled
1 cup of berries
1 cup of almond milk
1/2 cup of yogurt (see my post on how to make your own yogurt!)
handful of spinach

 

DIY Sunscreen

It’s summertime! I hope you caught my essential oil bug spray post here! But sunscreen is arguably even more important in your daily summer repertoire, though checking out the long list of ingredients on your average sunscreen bottle can be disheartening. I’ve had a lot of luck with a natural mixture of shea butter, which has a natural SPF of about 5 or 6, cocoa butter, which adds moisture and smoothness to your skin, zinc oxide powder, which carries the majority of your SPF, and essential oils. See details below about how to mix up this concoction and then you’ll  never leave home without it!

*note, this is for everyday wear and outside activities, not beach or extended wear. Also note that online DIY recipes that use almond, carrot, coconut or grapseseed oils might actually promote burning.

Homesteader’s Sunscreen
Measurements are rough for solid ingredients. Combine ingredients in a double boiler to melt
, constantly stirring to mix and avoid sticking. I store this in a small glass or durable plastic jar; consistency is a hard cream.

1/4 cup beeswax pellets
1/4 cup shea butter
1/4 cup cocoa butter
2-3 Tablespoons of non-nano Zinc oxide powder (one like this that does not seep into pores)
Optional: Vitamin E oil and essential oils for bonus effects on skin and mood

Some suggested essential oils: raspberry for extra SPF, lavender for skin calming, or melaleuca for added bug repellent

You need a lot of SPF when you are camping in the OBX! I use a combo of my DIY cream and natural versions like Tom's and The Honest Company

You need a lot of SPF when you are camping in the OBX! I use a combo of my DIY cream and natural versions like Tom’s and The Honest Company

 

Super Soul Sunday

The heavens make me feel so small, but so powerful. Did anyone else see the crescent moon pass under the crescent Venus last night? Be humble, for you are made of earth. Be noble, for you are made of stars.

Natural Bug-Repellent

The best thing about the summertime is all the extra daylight you get for outdoor activities. I am a self-admitted Fall/Winter person, but getting home from work and having time for a long walk with my pups, gardening, or grilling outside with my man, makes me super happy! Evening in North Carolina is prime for the myriad bug life that shares our warm, damp home. With a few essential oils and homesteading tricks, we’re able to enjoy our outside time without bugs prays and their long list of chemical ingredients, and we’re able to save money on our dogs’ flea/tick repellents.  Check out my suggestions below for a spray bottle that will last all summer if kept at room temperature!

1. Fill a spray bottle with 1/2 a cup of water and 1/4 cup Witch Hazel or Organic Vodka

2. Add the following essential oils:

  • 45 drops eucalyptus essential oil
  • 15 drops cedarwood essential oil
  • 15 drops lavender essential oil
  • 9 drops rosemary essential oil

OR

  • 8 drops lemongrass essential oil
  • 15 drops geranium essential oil
  • 30 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 35 drops thyme essential oil

 

 

Probiotic Tip #2: Yogourmet Yogurt

Now that you have had a week to get your SCOBY going from Probiotic Tip #1, it’s time to incorporate even more probiotics into life with homemade yogurt. What is with our grocery store yogurt STILL being effected by the low-fat craze from the 90’s? So many sweeteners and “natural flavors” are injected into our favorite brands to make the palatable for the SAD (Standard American Diet). And so much of the good fat found in the milk protein is extracted to keep fat and calorie counts down for uninformed consumers.

Why would you want cane syrup and chemical flavoring that makes me hungrier, instead of natural fat and protein that keeps you satiated for hours? You wouldn’t. So if you want to buy your yogurt, look for brands that sell full fat, plain, unsweetened yogurt at heath food stores (good luck). OR you could do what I do, below, the homesteading way!

Homestead Yogurt:

– Pour 1 litre of Whole Milk into a pot and heat to 180 degrees to remove lactose (use  a thermometer and watch the milk to make sure it does not boil or curdle)

– Bring your yogurt back down to about 110 degrees and add your Yogourmet yogurt starter, mixing it in evenly to distribute the starter and create a creamy, smooth yogurt. I buy mine at Whole Foods, where it is much cheaper than the Amazon price.

– Pour mixture into Yogourmet Yogurt Maker, plug in, and let sit for 24 hours.

Now you’re ready to enjoy your healthy probiotic snack for any meal. Add a teaspoon of honey for great, natural flavoring.

Eat Live Life

If you go over to Eat Live Life there are a bunch of fun Paleo, plant-based, yummy recipes and tips, including my guest posts for Modern Nicoise Salad  + Vegan Truffles! The vegan Truffles need more love/sharing y’all. I don’t think people get how GOOD these things actually are and how MUCH just ONE can curb any craving for a decadent dessert.

Photo cred from Eat Live Life

Photo cred from Eat Live Life

Essential Oil Highlight- Thieves Oil

A rendering of the black death (1347-1351) by an unknown artist

A rendering of the black death (1347-1351) by an unknown artist

Thieves Oil is so named because because of Medieval Spice Traders. As we know, the precious spices and plants of the middle east and far east came to Europe hundreds, even thousands of years ago (as archaeology demonstrates). Explorers popularized the fragrances and tastes of these exotic essences when trade became more world-wide in the 14th century — can you imagine life without the smell of clove at Christmas? Or jasmine and vanilla on your skin? Anyway, legend has it that the plague suffered business for merchants so much that they resorted to the unthinkable– grave-robbing! As the dead outnumbered the living at this time in Europe, it had become the most lucrative “trade” there was, thus the merchants became thieves. So at night, the thieves covered themselves with every oil essence they knew to be protective, healing, and immune boosting, so that they could rummage through the graves of the plagued without risking their health or their lives—and it worked!

Thieves Oil is a delicious combination of wild orange peel, cinnamon bark, clove bud, eucalyptus leaf, and Rosemary flower essential oils. It smells like Christmas, and if you rub it on your feet every night, I seriously doubt you will ever get sick (regardless of your night time activities) I use this as my daily hand soap, my non-toxic household cleanser, my natural cold & flu medicine (in a veggie capsule), my toothpaste, and diffuse as a warm scent.

 

Beets by Weez

Weez is my affectionate nickname and today your Whole 30 Tip is for Beet chips!!!

These are not only beautiful, they are delicious and sweet. Summer is DIP season, right? We’re talking salsa, guacamole, queso, ceviche, and hummus galore. Unfortunately, the old celery stalk doesn’t always sufficiently replace our “chip” cravings when we are working toward  a whole food, plant based  lifestyle.  I personally had a serious stomach ache after 4th of July tortilla chip indulgences. Or was that the tequila?

Beets are cheap and keep for a long time in the fridge; they are a unique source of phytonutrients called betalains, which are antioxidant, anti-inflammatory,  and good for digestion (!?!) So eating your guacamole with beet chips is arguably better for you than your usual celery or carrot replacement.

Recipe

The key to a good beet chip is an even slice from a food processor or a mandolin. That’s the only labor.  Slice up  4 or 5 large beets. After that, just toss them in 1 Tbsp. of olive oil, spread them on a sheet pan, pop them in a preheated oven on 450 for about 15 minutes, sprinkle with sea salt (and some thyme for good immune support) and enjoy!

I’m going to a Mexican restaurant tonight, and putting some in a baggy so I get to enjoy some guacabole with my friends!

Beets are available year round at farmers markets! I got these beautiful candy cane beets for free from my friend Lesley!

Beets are available year round at farmers markets! I got these beautiful candy cane beets for free from my friend Lesley!

 

PS Was anyone else obsessed with these Beats by Dre commercials like me?? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3yUj0Ta44DI

 

 

Probiotic Tip #1: SCOBY Bryant For the Win!

SCOBY= symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast

A Scoby is used in the brewing of Kombucha Tea. They are surprisingly simple to create in the comfort of your own home, especially this time of year since they thrive in warm, damp, dark settings–Thanks 105 degrees with humidity! My Scoby formed at home in just over a week, and you can make one too by following these steps:

  1. Use a sterile- clean glass jar, such as these from Ikea that I love
  2. To your jar, add a bottle of store bought kombucha (or some tea borrowed from a reliable source)
  3. Brew some simple green (or black) tea and add 1 cup to your kombucha jar
  4. Sprinkle in sugar to speed up fermentation
  5. WAIT for this guy!IMG_0494

After you have your SCOBY and a Gallon Jar, you can make your own home batch of Kombucha and feel the probiotic magic happen in your gut!

Stay Tuned for Probiotic Tips #2 Homemade Yogurt and #3 Homemade Sauerkraut

(Credit to my friend Darren for naming the SCOBY)