Archive for Holistic Medicine

Superfood;Superwoman

Image result for pumpkin pie smoothie

Admittedly, the “superfood” craze is a little silly, but it still blows my mind that adding a little tablespoon of chia seeds to my morning smoothie can afford me enough protein and fiber to really keep me full through my strenuous workouts.

My newest smoothie addition is…

Maca, a root grown high in the Peruvian mountains, used by ancient Incas to increase both fertility and virility. Today, holistics prescribe Maca root powder for chronic fatigue syndrome, fertility issues, hormone imbalance, and low libido. It’s important to start off using Maca in very small doses since it IS a potent superfood. The really great thing about increasing energy and vitality via Maca is that it does not tax the adrenals the way that caffeine does. Your energy is much more slow burning and long lasting. This is great news for the large percentage of the population suffering with adrenal fatigue, which correlates with hormone imbalance in women and causes a lot of stress on our systems.

I’ve instagrammed my use of collagen and chlorophyll in fruit smoothies. To make my smoothies more “Seasonal” this fall, I use Maca in combination with 8 oz. of almond milk, 1 banana, 1/2 a cup of pumpkin puree, a slice of ginger root, a few drops of vanilla extract and 1 tbsp. of cinnamon to create a delicious pumpkin pie smoothie. I’m really looking forward to sharing more details with you about the direct effect of Maca on my quality of life!

Prevention is the Cure

Shell mandala

What you put into your body (food & drink), what your inner monologue is, and what your stress management techniques are determine your well-being. You can prevent many forms of sickness and disease if you change the negative parts of your routine and just commit to:

1) Creating a healthy microbiome through good nutrition and exercise, which means cutting down on alcohol, caffeine, and processed/packaged foods.

2) Loving yourself and creating an inner monologue that lifts you up

3) Making your common stresses manageable and avoiding unnecessary stress.

I have tried to narrow the focus of my blog to sharing healthy, homemade, whole food, paleo recipes, but the other aspects of prevention and optimal health are so intertwined with diet and nutrition that I feel compelled to emphasize the importance of nurturing your spirit in tandem with nurturing your gut!

If you are in a negative spiral, remember that “Your thoughts are not facts and your past is not your potential” – Kris Carr

the 5 pillars of prevention

  1. What you’re eating
  2. What you’re drinking
  3. What you’re thinking
  4. How you’re resting
  5. How you’re renewing

I began my health journey with a lot of help from Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy You and Crazy Sexy Diet. I recommend her books and her current FREE online Wellness program!

Crazy Sexy You Energy Video

Easy Bone Broth Recipe to Make Right Now

Supporting your gut health is INTEGRAL to having energy and vitality. Some of us naturally enjoy a more diverse Microbiome than others, but the truth is that everyone should nourish their gut regularly. Recently, I wrote about the importance of probiotics and digestive enzymes in my own healing experience, but these things become expensive! Bone broth is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to nourish your gut lining and reduce inflammation- so why aren’t you doing it yet?

Do you buy bone in meat? Why not? It’s cheaper and has more flavor.

Do you discard the bones? Why? Would you throw away a multi-vitamin or a cup of superfood like chia seeds?

The marrow inside the bones of animals is dense with nutrients and minerals that we can’t find in any other source. Bone marrow, and thus bone broth, contains collagen, glutamine, glycine and proline, which reduce inflammation of all kinds– not solely gut inflammation. In short, our grandmother’s chicken soup cured our colds with more than just love and savory deliciousness.

If you take small, easy, cheap steps toward good health, then you’ll become addicted to the positive results. Remember, Hippocrates, father of medicine, told us: All disease begins in the gut. 

Easy Bone Broth Recipe

If you start buying (antibiotic-free, organic) bone in meat, then simply gather all your bones into a pot as soon as you are done.

Add filtered water to cover the bones X 2 (twice as much as you need to cover bones)

Add 2 tablespoons of Apple Cider vinegar to draw the marrow out of the bones

Season your broth with salt, pepper, one bay leaf, turmeric, sage, tarragon, or anything you might have in your spice drawer!

If you have carrots and celery, you can add those, but it’s not necessary– this is supposed to be convenient for you!

Bring to a boil and then let simmer for AT LEAST 4 HOURS to draw out nutrients.

what to do with extra bone broth

  • drizzle on dog or cat food for healthier pets
  • use as a base for homemade stews, or sauces– I’m making homemade enchilada sauce with it tonight!
  • freeze in an ice cube tray for later sauces or cups of broth

Probiotics, My #1 Health Tip

isle of skye elopement

I got married last month! Isle of Skye, Scotland Loraine Ross Photography

I’ve had a lot of time off to think about what I want to deliver to my readers. Foremost, I want to help people who share my struggles with intestinal discomfort, energy, and food allergies that effect their ability to live life to the fullest! I’ve been traveling a bunch over the last month, and as traveling often does, it has given me clarity. Probiotics clarity!

Friends ask me for help with their own digestive and general health issues, and I really stress the clean diet. I always will. If you live actively and eat REAL food, then whatever body you have is the one meant for you and it’s perfect! My overall wellness is truthfully better because of removing common allergens from my diet (sugar, lactose, wheat, soy, legumes, other carbs). This has changed my life more than anything else, including cardio, weight- training, and supplements.

Probiotics

However, if you are eating well and still struggling, you’re not alone. This happens to me over time and I think it’s important to share that sometimes our microbiome is so unbalanced with bad bacteria that diet alone will not replenish enough good bacteria. This happens for many reasons: overuse of antibiotics, birth via cesarean, contracting C-Diff or another disease that wipes out your good gut bacteria, or just generally having an unhealthy diet. In order to fully recover, I take a 30 Billion CFU probiotic with 15 strains of good bacteria. Trust me, yogurt is not enough, and if you’re buying yogurt and not making your own, then it might be making the situation worse (sugar/chemical thickeners).

Good Probiotics are not in corner drug stores. They ONLY come in glass bottles because plastic’s chemicals bleed in shipment. They have to withstand your stomach acid and should be stored in the refrigerator. They are expensive, but paying for your health today means saving money on sickness tomorrow! I don’t want this to turn into an advertisement for any one type, but I have a couple I will recommend if you reach out.

Fermented foods

In addition to probiotics, I eat one serving of fermented vegetables a day. You can also drink kefir. You guys know I love my veggies though, so I always have home-pickled onions, carrots, sauerkraut, and cauliflower on hand. These are super versatile as you’ll see in my instagram posts! I also drink 2 tablespoons of Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar in my water every morning (with a touch of wild orange or lemon). THIS is how I beat gut issues. I hope it’s helpful and transparent enough to help you or your friend succeed with me!

Ask me about my probiotics and check out my post on my new Roasted Red Pepper Sauce and review of NomNomPaleo’s Cauliflower mashed potatoes tomorrow!

Doula Life: 3 postpartum foods for healing and lactation

The sole baby girl I was expecting this spring/summer birth season was born early this morning! I still can’t get over how perfect little Beatrice is and how strong her Mama was throughout.

A Galactagogue (great word!!!) is a food, herb, or supplement that aids breast milk supply. Prior to leaving for the hospital, I had prepared the following foods for my client to promote healing for her and baby, to promote lactation, and to intensify her nutrient stores. These could be some great meals for new moms out there, doulas, or just shiny, healthy people looking for whole food, nutrient dense recipes!

Slow baked salmon, kale and quinoa with lemon, fennel, and dill seasoning

In a sheet pan, I slow roasted (275 F) 2 large salmon planks on a bed of spinach, kale and pre-cooked quinoa, covered in lemon and fennel slices, seasoned with salt, pepper, olive oil and fresh dill.

Spinach, kale and other leafy greens are filled with vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, and are non-dairy sources of calcium.
Salmon is full of a special kind of fat called DHA that promotes brain growth in infants (and is found in breast milk and formula). The more DHA you eat, the more you will have in your breast milk, and it is also thought to reduce stress and postpartum depression. Quinoa and whole grains provide folic acid important in breastfeeding as well.

Chickpea and Spinach Soup (If on AIP , replace chickpeas with cauliflower)

In a blender or food processor I combine 2 cups of cooked chickpeas, 1 bag of cooked spinach, 1 pan roasted yellow onion and 3 cloves of garlic, and 4 cups of bone broth (chicken stock). I intensify the healing power of my broth my adding a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to draw out the marrow goodness, and I season it with salt, pepper, and fresh herbs. After that is blended well to smooth, I stir in 1 can of coconut milk.

Soup in general helps to increase milk production as it heals. Warm foods also enliven your Qi (or life force), according to Eastern tradition, and thus promote lactation and healing. Bone broth is always good for everyone after surgeries, and I love bringing it as a “get well” gift, so it is even more relevant if you have had a C-section or episiotomy.

Blueberry Oat Muffins

This recipe is coming in my next blog post! Oats, though, provide a new Mom the necessary folic acid and iron (if the tummy can take them) and blueberries are well known antioxidants and provide an energy boost when needed!

Now I’m off to get some sleep!

 

Quick Pickled Red Onions

Pickled red onions are good on just about everything. I love the brightness and acidity that they add to any dish, but Ive been using them lately on salads, burgers, tacos, steaks, and anything that is rich and can benefit from that “bite” of the vinegar. Eating fermented veggies is a cheap and healthy way to balance your gut flora and get probiotics into the microbiome. Also, I normally can’t quite handle raw onions on my sensitive stomach, so pickling them gets that oniony flavor I love back into my recipes and diet.

What you need: a few minutes and….

  • A mason jar or air tight jar and lid
  • 1/2 cup of Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbs. salt
  • 3 tbs. maple syrup or honey
  • 1 large red onion
  1. Slice your Red onion EXTRA THIN by using a sharp knife or mandolin
  2. Combine remaining ingredients into your jar and shake until sweetener is dissolved
  3. Add onions and let sit for at least 30 minutes. These get better the longer they marinate!
  4. ENJOY on Everything!!

Also great for a Antipasto Platter for a party….

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Fertility, Rites, and The Blood Moon

My friend Erin has a simple and great response when I asked her why I am so drawn both to the Catholic faith and druid/pagan folklore: “Um, because you’re Irish!”

So today is the convergence of all those things because I had my first rite of welcome at Mass and I’m performing a fertility ritual under the full blood moon tonight. If you haven’t read about the tetrad of blood moons that have occurred over the last two years…well, most likely you have. The Full Moon is absolutely linked to fertility of the earth, as I mention in my moonstruation post.

Tonight, my ritual is for all my friends who have entrusted me with their desire to become pregnant (you better hire me as your doula!) but it’s also in honor of anyone else out there who has great faith and great desire for the same thing.

Traditional items for your (outdoor) altar: white candle, rose quartz, and something that represents your desired child (a flower, doll, poem, anything!)
Then you just get as many female friends as possible to gather or send you positive energy from afar to concentrate and meditate on the fertility power of the moon goddess and wish all good things for you. This ritual is so positive and full of blessings that it will leave you feeling absolutely wonderful, regardless of how well it actually works for fertility! It is a way for us to bond, rather than compete, as women, and that is the very best part!

Celebrate the Autumnal equinox

Cairn T at Loughcrew Neolithic Tomb complex. The door through which the rising sun shines on the equinox is partially hidden by the stone circle in the foreground. Photographed by a friend of mine.

Today is one of my favorite days of the year– the autumnal equinox. Today the length of the day and night are exactly the same, and Oktoberfest and other Harvest celebrations are underway. My soul feels deeply connected to harvest celebrations and winter preparations. Perhaps that’s why I was so drawn to the Neolithic passage tombs in Ireland when I was in graduate school. Some of you know about the Newgrange passage tomb that is aligned with the Summer and Winter solstices, but not everyone knows that this is part of a larger complex of monuments and other passage tombs that belonged to the same people–built thousands of years before the pyramids. Other megaliths and monuments at the Boyne Valley Site seem to be aligned with lunar phases, in compliment to Newgrange. A similar megalith complex exists in Loughcrew, a site I visited with my favorite professor. It is less famous, but Cairn T has an equally magnificent illumination on sunrise on the equinoxes. I love to tell people about these magical an monolithic calendars, and watch their eyes light up in wonder that people were capable of such wisdom, foresight, and incredibly sophisticated intelligence and technology so early on. Neolithic people were pretty amazing; launching themselves into a movement from hunting/gathering to sustainable agriculture and using this new intelligence and sociological development to highlight their profound relationship with the earth: the sun, first and foremost, but also the moon, and the seasons. How can we reconnect to the earth in such a profound way? What could we ever create that could inspire wonder and amazement in 5000 years? Happy Autumn My Friends!

Bison Chili with Avocado

bison chili with avocado

You can read all about my passion for bison chili and reasons that it is better for you in burger or chili form than ground beef in my article on Mind Body Green.

Acorn squash isn’t quite in season yet, so I used the last of my summer squash and zucchini for this recent addition to the foods I’m freezing for my Whole 30 Challenge starting next week!

Additional ingredients? Aromatics: celery/carrots sauteed in ghee go into any chili I make, and I threw in some of the gorgeous hot and sweet peppers I got from my CSA.

Chili is all about generous seasoning, so I do healthy shakes of my garlic salt, cayenne, turmeric for health, and chili pepper. Most people like onions in their chili but they often cause bloat and are hard on digestion (FYI)

Finally, you have to mix in a large can of organic tomatoes, such as this from Trader Joe’s, 1 can of black beans, and a can of your broth of choice (beef, chicken, vegetable) I just do whatever I have on hand, which happened to be beef this time.

I like to garnish my Chili with several avocado slices and/or jalapenos! What do you guys think?

 

Getting More Fiber on your Ancestral Diet

Chia Seeds

Chia Seeds

Dietary Fiber is incredibly important to  balanced health and macros and a healed gut. SO many popular sources of fiber are in cereals and whole grains, though, which my body seriously can’t handle. As I’m becoming more and more aware of macros, I found that I needed some more fiber in my diet, as MANY people do. you see fiber helps with all aspects of the digestive system and regularity.  Fiber helps control blood sugar levels, which is great for PCOS, diabetes, and weight management. t can also lower cholesterol and regulate bowel movements. These are the ways that I am packing more fiber into my diet without relying on “whole grains.” I’ve numbered my suggestions chronologically, with the most fiber per oz first! I hope you find this useful if you need help getting more fiber on your ancestral diet!

  1. Chia Seeds- This superfood is at it again, packing more than 5 grams per tablespoon! I incorporate chias into my diet by adding 2-3 tablespoons to my yogurt or smoothie in the morning. They also go wonderful with desserts like chocolate pudding or a fruit parfait.
  2. Flaxseed- I eat flaxseed in it’s ground or powdered form as apposed to its seed form because the fine powder makes it more versatile for use in my cooking. at 3.8 grams per tablespoon, this can be added when baking (one tablespoon dissolved in water replaces on egg), in your smoothies, or sprinkled into sauces easily.
  3. Lentils- Just discovering whether or not I can eat these, since not everything in the lentil family sits well with me, but since they pack 15 grams of fiber per cup, I’m trying them out in a new recipe coming to the blog soon!
  4. Blackbeans– Have as much fiber as lentils! (15 grams a cup). I miss nachos something fierce, so one of my favorite
  5. Avocados– yum! I sprinkle salt and cayenne on mine (sometimes with a spot of homemade mayo) at 6.7 grams of fiber for 1/2 of an avocado, we know why it’s a superfood!
  6. Barley– because I’m Irish. and it’s a grain I can eat….and I think this is so because Barley grains are like Oat grains in that they are more of a “bran.” 6 grams of fiber/ cup
  7. Oats- Hotly debated as appropriate for AIP (Autoimmune Paleo) diets, I do use oats sparingly in baking, when I need some fiber….though I can not down them on their own, personally. 4 grams of fiber a cup!

 

30 Day Clean Eating Challenge- Starts September 10th!

Maybe some of you have a nutrition cycle like me: You do really well all week long with few indulgences. You make your balanced lunches, and dream up nutritious dinners like zoodles with homemade pesto or buffalo chicken lettuce cups with homemade dressing. You eat vegetarian for most meals, vegan even, and lots of fish and lean protein to fill you up after workouts. THEN the weekend comes along… One indulgence becomes EVERY MEAL, drinking alcohol leaves you feeling too lazy for morning workouts, and everyone is eating out and using food to socialize, right?

Usually for me, Sunday ends in a necessary liquid fast after this type of weekend and I start my week off feeling less than great, and back on my clean eating train. That’s why I’m challenging myself to a 30 Day Clean Eating Challenge or WHOLE 30. This type of whole food cleanse is so good for your body (unlike the water-cayenne pepper-lemon juice kind) and is REALISTIC to maintain over a lifetime. I could honestly not imagine going back to sugar or wheat after my first 30 days without it and there is a distinct possibility that you could find a similar culprit for your headaches, fatigue, stomach aches, anxiety, and be free of it after October 10th. What a fabulous way to start out the Fall Season? With all your clothes too big and a new palate for healthy, seasonal food.

I only have success with this type of thing when I have accountability partners! That’s why I am participating in my 30 Day Whole food Challenge via my friends over at Supersisterfitness.com  The program includes meal plans, supplements, nutritious cleanse day drinks and a built-in support system, so that you really can’t fail. Comment below or Send me an email if you want details on how you can participate!

Here are some rules to guide our 30 Day Clean Eating Challenge

  • NO Processed foods– meaning nothing pre-packaged or not REAL
  • NO SUGAR- this includes added sugar! (I’m looking at you, Greek Yogurt)
  • NO Alcohol (ok, one glass of red wine a week if you must)
  • NO refined carbohydrates (which should already be clear from #1) but I’ll say it again: don’t eat  white rice, corn, or wheat
  • DO YOUR BEST to eat organic, antibiotic- free meat. Local is best. Know that the animal that is feeding you had a normal animal life.
  • LIMIT Dairy. I do not have milk, cream, or any milk by-product because these foods are inflammatory for me. I DO have low-lactose cheeses, dark chocolate, and make my own yogurt. Find a balance and do what works for you!
  • NO Soda or beverages other than water. Only green tea or “bulletproof”  coffee…more on that later

If you follow the rules above, I KNOW you will be feeling better in 72 hours or less. Take your Summer challenge to the next level with this me this month and start Fall off on the right foot!
30 Day Clean Eating Challenge

7 Signs that your Hormones aren’t Balanced

  1. Fatigue
    Constant bouts of being either wired or stressed is related to adrenal fatigue and spiking cortisol levels. I have felt the fatigue from imbalanced hormones and it’s intense–feels illness related, leaving you tired after a great night’s sleep
  2. Mood Swings and Irritability
    Comes from imbalance of estrogen and testosterone. Everyone’s going to be cranky sometimes! But if you rage with consistency, this may be why.
  3. Skin changes
    Especially cystic acne, which happens around the chin and on the forehead. Zits happen, but shouldn’t be happening much past puberty. If you can’t correlate it to a new skincare regime or food in your diet, then it could be hormonal
  4. Hot flashes/night sweats
    This is big time for me. I sleep on top of the covers and our AC bill is through the roof! This is from changing levels of progesterone.
  5. Changes in bowel regularity
    Your liver processes hormones and food toxins, so if it is overloaded or not functioning properly then you will also get bowel effects with hormone imbalance
  6. Low libido
    You can thank estrogen levels for this, (and decreasing testosterone). Some of these symptoms are also those of depression though, so best to get a hormonal blood test first to rule it out.
  7. Inability to lose weight
    The ultimate enemy of hormonal imbalance. Raised levels of estrogen and cortisol make losing weight harder than normal. You can persevere though!

Do any of these 7 signs that your hormones aren’t balanced resonate with you? Last week, I wrote about my Pre-PCOS, and then realized that my tips would not be useful if someone did not know their hormones were out of whack. As a woman in your 20’s or 30’s, especially if you are thinking of conceiving, this is something to have checked via bloodwork. There are so many ways to attack hormone imbalance that I’ve discussed in other posts, including changing diet, increasing exercise, laying off the booze, acupuncture and herbal therapy, and essential oils!

One of the main reasons I diffuse essential oils is to remove the hormone interrupting free-radicals and environmental factors that effect my hormone balance like plastics, household cleaners, and make up products.

7 signs that your hormones aren't balanced

Balancing your Yin and Yang

Prior to my experience with acupuncture, I thought of yin and yang as complimentary opposites; like the white and black puzzle pieces that fit together perfectly to form a whole or the below Moon and Sun imagery, necessary to the others completion. Come to find out, it’s much more complicated than that, but balancing your Yin and Yang is what we’re all striving for in optimum health!Balancing your Yin and Yang

I saw an MD acupuncturist and Eastern Medicine Practitioner from China after my lower back sprain and immediately felt better. When we talked about my other concerns and quirks, she immediately pointed out that I have more yin than yang, and for the past week I’ve been thinking about what exactly that means for me. I’ve always loved the cold, so as soon as I grew up, struck out for cold and lovely rainy destinations: Boston and Dublin. There is something just so poetic and “at home” to me about gray skies and crisp weather. I love sad music too, and one of my favorite activities has always been listening to a bluesy chanteuse on my headphones while dodging rain-puddles after a solo outing to a bookstore, museum, or restaurant. This one was on repeat in 2011.

To become more yang: exercise; play competitive sports; wear bright colors; socialize; eat more cooked foods, root vegetables, grains, and fish; make to-do lists and structure the day.

To become less yin, reduce: consumption of ice cream, cold foods, raw fruit, and salads; regular use of alcohol; spending time sitting around; spending time watching television; spending time alone; exposure to a damp, cold climate; feeling powerless to change circumstances; blaming other people; waiting for someone else sort everything out.

So yes, I have more Yin than Yang, naturally. That’s easy to see. Thank you Chinese Medicine, but duh. So the question is, how to I strike a balance if I don’t want to? How do I add Yang and detract Yin when I hate hot sunny days, I’m exhausted by frequent human interaction, and…well, my alcohol consumption is definitely “regular” by definition? I think the answer is two-fold: 1) in my relationship with Matt, I think I have sought my Yang and been fulfilled. One of these days he is going to drag me to some tropical vacation and not short after, we will probably live out our days in a beach town. He forces me to “Yang” with people and at social outings more than I might otherwise, AND he makes me laugh a lot. 2) I just have to go back to my fierce WILL to get better and be as healthy as possible and that is all within me. I am the one who forces the 6 am workouts (and sometimes go for a 2nd at 6 pm) to build muscle and activate my Yang. I’m also the one making the conscious choice to save alcohol for weekends and celebrations….where it belongs. It’s not my life elixir or the buddy I need to hold my hand through bad weeknight TV choices.

How do you strike a balance between your Yin and Yang? Or if you are out of balance, and feeling the health side-effects like me, which way do you lean?

My Local Farmer’s Market: Transplanting Traditions

I am so incredibly proud to be a part of My local farmer’s market: Transplanting Traditions and the Carrboro Farmer’s Market. Sustainability and Food insecurity are two of the biggest issues in nutrition today. Triangle Land conservancy and Transplanting Traditions are doing an honorable job of addressing those problems, while also providing immigrants with delicious crops native to their homeland and introducing  happy patrons like me to different produce traditions 🙂 Enjoy this great video!

Moonstruation: Why we should be in tune with the earth’s cycles to benefit our own

Moonstruation: Why we should be in tune with the earth's cycles to benefit our own

Have you ever look up at the moon and felt connected to it? OR felt like it connected you with someone else or everyone else? Maybe there’s something to that feeling. A majority of menstruating women with regular cycles report menses during the NEW moon and ovulation during the FULL moon. Thus many women, like me, refer to the monthly cycle as a “moon cycle.” {there’s a nice new name for it if you were looking for one!}
Women were once all in tune with the moon this way. Archaeological and historical evidence shows us that before modern diets shifted to processed foods, and even before hormonal imbalances abounded because of toxins in our environment,  women all over the world actually cycled together. From this, we have the wonderful stories of the “Red Tent” and matriarchal lineage passed through the stories of mothers, sisters, and Doulas. As women, it is most natural for us to flow with the new moon so that we are most fertile during the full moon. This is the way of the earth’s fertility and how crops grow, and at one time we were in tune with it.

Some Reasons you might want to get in tune with your Moonstruation:

– You experience frequently missed or irregular periods
– You suffer with PCOS
– You are experiencing fertility issues
– Other hormonal problems

If you want to get back to your truest moon cycle, I recommend a whole foods diet, 8+ hours of sleep a night, and rising naturally with the sun in the morning. If you can’t quite manage that, make sure your workout routine (even if it’s just walking) gets you tired enough so that you fall asleep when your head hits the pillow. It’s extremely important to cut out artificial light from your bedroom and sleep cycle, including phones and televisions. They should not enter your bedroom. Cut down on caffeine and alcohol, which is hard to process through your liver along with your hormones, and finally, most importantly, meditate once a day. Honestly, I’ve noticed that simply being more aware of the moon and its phases draws me closer to my essential moon goddessness. Get in touch with your inner femininity on the full and new moon by scheduling  some “me” time with the help of  this calendar!

 

Combating PCOS Naturally: healthier body, balanced hormones

PCOS (poly cystic ovarian syndrome) effects roughly 22% of the population, and is a growing epidemic. Hormone imbalance, processed foods, and stress are products of our modern world that contribute to the increased number of women battling PCOS. Combating PCOS naturally is the safest and most effective path to a healthier body and hormonal balance. I was diagnosed with pre-PCOS this year, at 29. This is after 3 years of eating no gluten, and 2 years of no sugar, wheat, or  lactose with limited processed foods. I absolutely think my lifestyle has kept the intensity of my personal experience with PCOS to a minimum, but there is still an uphill battle to be won and it is about more than just diet!

PCOS causes hormonal imbalances that can lead to acne, weight gain & trouble losing weight, hair loss,  fertility problems, insulin resistance, and depression. So Yeah, all that SUCKS! However, MANY studies have been published showing the effectiveness of exercise in combating PCOS. In fact,  this study shows that it is EVEN more important than diet. Further, lifting weights specifically helps women with PCOS because insulin resistance is addressed through BODY COMPOSITION (think more muscle than fat) and not by mere weight loss (whoops to the previous 28 years of my life). If you have PCOS or suspect you might, start by exercising 30-60 minutes every day. According to latest studies, if you have PCOS and as a result of years of insulin resistance, need to lose weight in order to feel healthy, then you should exercise 90 minutes a day. Go on a 40 minute walk with your dog or your best friend! Do a 25 minute yoga stretch on You Tube, lift light weights and stretch in front of your favorite nightly TV programs, or go to a local swim or aerobics class. The bottom line is that you MUST prioritize physical activity when it comes to PCOS. Lift! Lift! LIFT! But before you do, Stretch, Stretch, Stretch! Haha. You will not get bulky if you lift 3 days a week, I promise.

Now let me tell you a fun story! I started going to acupuncture after a bout with Vertigo last year. It was my first experience in which modern medicine was baffled by my symptoms, and I turned to some great resources provided by my Internal Care doctors at UNC. In Acupuncture and Yoga, and many other Eastern doctrines, we learn about our Qi (chee), the life-force that flows through our bodies. My Acupuncturist, Andrew, told me that my Qi was in stasis, thus my lymph was in stasis (dizzy vertigo) and  my blood was also in stasis (irregular periods). So it’s the dead of winter, and Andrew tells me to exercise as much as possible, lifting weights daily in order to feel better and combat stasis. Oh and he says to never EVER touch wheat again (Ok, I get it!). 2 months later, I was diagnosed with pre-PCOS via blood work for my thyroid by my beloved Western Doctor, Louise, and told me to be conscious of this developing and the possibility of developing symptoms. BUT Andrew already knew that was coming, you see? Through my energy and Qi, he knew my blood was in stasis, and he knew my body wanted to be stronger, not just leaner, in order to function properly. Eastern and Western Medicine are such beautiful compliments to each other in this way. I also REALLY recommend acupuncture for everyone out there trying to get a handle on their health. I have some great resources for anyone in the triangle area. Today,  I’m actually going to a “real” doctor at UNC Healthcare who practices acupuncture as a supplement to her primary care services 🙂

As you guys know, I’m still on that journey and some days it is really tough. I pulled my lower back working out with weights last week and now I’ve been set back for my strength and flexibility yoga goals for this month. And then there’s the body stuff. I don’t get to eat the things other people get to eat. I don’t get to indulge or skip daily workouts…and all that hard work may never really show to other people because I’m fighting against insulin resistance and abdominal bloat. I will probably never be a size 2, but there is a a greater reward at the end of the road! And trust me, the feeling of improving your health through natural means and using drugs only when necessary is an empowering feeling. I can’t wait for my next 21st day blood tests this fall! My cycle is back in sync with the new/full moons, which is a sign of fertility and I’m increasing my muscle to fat body composition ration every day. Little by little. Step by step.

Also read this great PCOS resource at my favorite blog, MIND BODY GREEN

Combating PCOS Naturally

 

Anti-Inflammatory Detox Smoothie

Hey you guys, bad news. I sprained my lower back working out this week. It has been so tough to be off my feet, healing, and doing simple exercises to rebuild strength. I’ve been using both Arnica and ibuprofen for pain, in addition to some essential oils. I decided to (what the heck!) also throw in some anti-inflammatory nutrition so I’ve been drinking the following smoothie to combat my tummy inflammation AND my back inflammation!

1 mug full of green tea (preferably macha, but any will do) as your liquid base
1 handfulls of blueberries
2 handfulls of kale
1 inch of ginger root
1 cup frozen pineapple
1 TB flaxseed
1 TB Turmeric
optional 1 cup ice, which I like because I like super frozen smoothies!

Blend and feel better! OR just reduce your natural inflammation and ward off disease!

Summer has Peaked Salad

Summer has peaked. That may be a 🙁 for our beach lovers, but a 🙂 for Autumn lovers like moi!

In August, peak crops are squash, melon, and potatoes. Our favorites of summer: tomatoes, cucumbers, and corn have been proliferating and are about to be on the decline. A great way to use up your tomatoes is in pasta sauces, like the one I made for my grain-free lasagne. Later, I’ll have a recipe for crispy pickled cucumbers to make your cuces last through the fall.

BUT TODAY, I have this awesome salad recipe that goes  well with your summer proteins like fish, grilled chicken, and cheeseburgers. It is super easy and a welcome change from the typical garden salad you may have on the side!

Simply dice up your tomatoes, I make it easier on myself by choosing sun gold tomatoes and halving them. Then I slice up a cucumber and make this easier by buying english cucumbers, which don’t need to be peeled.  I half each round slice of cucumber and toss them in a tupperware with the tomatoes. To the veggie mixture, I add 2 TB. apple cider vinegar, 2 Tsp. dijon or homemade mayo, 1 bunch of coriander/cilantro, and 2 oz. of crumbled bleu cheese. I vigorously shake this mixture and serve up this deliciously creamy and tangy side salad! Yum!

PS If you want to make this salad go farther with your meal OR if you want it for lunch, then throw in some avocado to add substance and good fat!

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 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.