A Time For New Things (Like My New Site!)

“New Life” is a popular springtime theme for good reason. Seasons seem like such a good idea, to me. I know that different parts of the globe experience this time of year in their own ways; here in Colorado, it’s so refreshing to see the trees and garden plants come to life after looking so dry and brown for several months.

I love that the daffodils and lupine bloom at the same time - they are so pretty together!

I love that the daffodils and lupine bloom at the same time – they are so pretty together!

I was brought up in a Lutheran church, and many of my friends were Catholic. The season surrounding Easter was certainly filled with reminders of new life, and was attended with a sense of awe and reverence as we all celebrated the resurrection of Christ. Later, as I came to know some Jewish friends, I became aware of a much older story of newness – a new start for the nation of Israel as they were miraculously delivered from their captivity in Egypt. Learning the connection between this story and my own faith has made this time of year much richer for me and my family.

Many health traditions honor the themes of cleansing and newness, too. Ayurveda, in particular, encourages us to avail ourselves of all the new plant life, greater periods of sunshine and fresh air to cleanse ourselves and assist our bodies in creating new, healthy cells. It seems everyone is talking about “detoxing” these days – and with good reason! This season is a perfect time to detoxify ourselves to the best of our ability. Let’s clean up!

But, breaking out the ammonia and heavy-duty cleaners that my mother used is about the farthest thing from detoxifying my environment. These cleaners occupy the shelves on the aisle of the grocery store that I avoid whenever possible! They are full of dangerous toxic and carcinogenic chemicals, many of which go straight to our cells, bypassing our natural filters, the liver and kidneys. Sadly, even many such products which pretend to be safe or “green” are not.

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I want to deep-clean my house as much as the next person when the warm breezes blow. Fresh air, sunlight, growing plants in the home, and true natural cleaners like lemons, baking soda, vinegar and coconut oil leave my house clean and free from the toxic chemicals in harsh commercial cleaners. And I don’t have to hide these things when children are near. An added bonus is that they are extremely inexpensive to use!

7th Gen Laundry soap

That said, there are a few commercial products that I use. Just because a product is environmentally friendly does not mean it has to be sub-standard in quality. The two commercial cleaners I use nearly all the time are both from Seventh Generation. I use their laundry detergent, and also their dishwasher detergent. Usually, I clean my bathtub with vinegar, baking soda, or a combination of the two. When it’s particularly dirty, I sprinkle a little Seventh Generation dishwasher detergent in the tub, let it sit for a couple of minutes, and scrub with a Scotch Brite pad. No chemical could do any better, I assure you.

What else is new? I’m on the verge of launching my new website! After a couple of years of being somewhat scattered in my “online presence,” I soon will have this very blog on my health coaching website. I have certainly appreciated having the site that I started through my school when I became certified as a health coach! But now, it’s time for LifeSong Nutrition to have a home of its own.

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I will be posting some new recipes and health tips, and more on a regular basis. My eBooks will be available on the new site, and I plan to offer recordings of my webinars within a few weeks.  I’m also excited to be bringing you some videos! Like my blog posts, I will aim to keep them as short and succinct as possible, so that you can check them out without having a big chunk of your day sucked away.

I’ll be offline for a couple of weeks, and then I’ll be up and running again, with wellness and food news and helpful information. I hope you enjoy your spring, wherever you are. And, I’ll miss you while I’m gone, so please join me at LifeSongNutrition.com as soon as ever you can!

Springtime Sourdough Pancakes With Cultured Fruit

As promised, here is the recipe I mentioned yesterday.

Gluten free sourdough pancakes with cultured berries!

Gluten free sourdough pancakes with cultured berries!

The thing that makes these pancakes a springtime favorite is not actually the pancakes themselves, though they are delicious! It’s really the cultured berries that we pile on top that are seasonal. So, the recipe for the berries will be posted here, too. Notice that these pancakes are not mostly flour. They are very hearty and nutrient-dense. They are gluten free, of course, and some would consider them paleo, as well. (Depends on your understanding of buckwheat.)

The first step is to start the culture, the evening before you want to make the pancakes. Here’s what you need:

1 cup buckwheat flour

¾ cup water

1 tablespoon plain yogurt

Here’s what you do:

Mix these three ingredients together in a mixing bowl. You’ll be adding more to it tomorrow, so be sure there’s room for the rest of the batter. Now, cover your bowl with a plate or lid and set on the counter to culture at room temperature for the next several hours. You can let this stuff sit for 8 to 24 hours. The culturing sours the flour, but it also multiplies nutrients and makes the buckwheat more digestible.

pecans

pecans

Also start your nuts soaking. Soaking the nuts removes the anti-nutrient phytic acid coating and makes the nuts soft, which helps them to blend better tomorrow. Place the nuts in a small bowl or jar and cover with about 1” water. For this, you need:

½ cup walnuts or pecans, water

berries & pears

berries & pears

One more thing needs starting in the afternoon or evening prior to cooking day- the fruit. Fruit is so easy to culture! Just use a cup or two of berries, and if you want, you can also chop up a pear to add, like I did. If you don’t have fresh berries, you can use frozen (just let them thaw first). Place berries and chopped pear in a mixing bowl. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt and drizzle with 1-2 teaspoons raw honey. Stir gently. Place in a jar, pressing fruit down with a wooden spoon or your fingers. Now add 1 tablespoon whey (easy instructions below), or brine from a previous batch. Add just enough water to cover fruit. Be sure there is at least 1” of space at the top of the jar, as the fruit will expand a bit. Close lid tightly on jar and set on counter top so fruit can culture at room temperature.

For whey: place about 1 cup plain yogurt in the middle of a cotton tea towel, nut milk bag, or several layers of cheese cloth. Gather up the sides of the cloth, tie or fasten, and hang from a cabinet knob or other spot, over a jar or bowl to catch the whey. In an hour or so, your whey will have dripped out, leaving a nice dollop of cultured cream cheese in the bag. (Usually needs a bit of salt to taste really good.) In case you’re tempted to try powdered whey for this, I have it on good authority that the powdered form does not work.

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The next morning, the pancakes can be finished. It may look complicated, but it really takes only a few minutes to get them mixed up and ready for cooking! Here’s what you need:

2 tablespoons flax meal (I grind my own in my Nutri-Bullet or a coffee mill.)

Nuts you soaked – drain off water

½ medium organic apple, chopped

2 tablespoons coconut flour

2 tablespoons melted coconut oil

2 eggs

1 ¼ cups water, divided

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ salt

Here’s what you do:

Place flaxseed, nuts, coconut flour, apples, eggs, oil and half of the water in the blender or Nutri-Bullet. Blend until fairly smooth, though you may still have a few chunks of apple (that’s okay!) Add this mixture to your cultured buckwheat batter. Add remaining ingredients and stir well.

My favorite way to cook pancakes is in a hot, buttered cast iron skillet, on a gas stove top, using a medium flame. Use your preferred method, or try mine. Once they are cooked, top with maple syrup, butter if desired, and cultured berries. I like to drizzle the brine from the fruit on top, too. A handful of nuts is also a great addition.

Okay, the day I photographed these pancakes, I used only blueberries. But trust me, there were a lot more berries than what showed up in the pictures! They are between the 2 pancakes. Yum!

Okay, the day I photographed these pancakes, I used only blueberries. But trust me, there were a lot more berries than what showed up in the pictures! They are between the 2 pancakes. Yum!

 

 

It’s Spring! What’s For Breakfast?

Breakfast food is so great that people put it in it’s own category. When you eat “breakfast food” at another time of day, it’s sort of a big deal. I always used to love going out for breakfast or brunch, when it was acceptable to eat foods from the “breakfast” category or the “lunch” category, and there was usually a huge buffet table. Even with some dietary limitations, I can often find delightful selections of fruits & veggies, eggs, meat or fish, and all sorts of goodies. And, I still get to drink coffee at such a meal!

Breakfast with friends - gluten free waffles, fresh organic berries, nuts and the best lattes ever...not to mention, the pleasure of company

Breakfast with friends – gluten free waffles, fresh organic berries, nuts and the best lattes ever…not to mention, the pleasure of company

When we think of springtime, we imagine all things green. If you’re into seasonal eating like I am, you may be turning your attention to the wonderful specialties of this season. It’s still early, but already green things are appearing in my garden. There’s still snow on the ground, but my little spinach is happily growing under the white blanket. It’s there due to the few plants I allowed to go to seed last fall. The strawberries are beginning to look a little lively, too. Oh, I won’t be eating berries from my garden for a while, yet. But I’ll be on the lookout for them at the markets. Of course, the dandelions are making their come-back, too.Getting any breakfast ideas yet?

baby spinach already in the garden

baby spinach already in the garden

All of this green stuff points to a couple of key features for spring’s unique offerings. First, leafy greens and tender new green plants are full of healthy goodness in the form of vitamins, minerals, and what we could generally call “phytonutrients.” That’s just a fancy word for nutrition from plants. There are phytonutrients that have only recently been discovered, and probably many more of which we know nothing. We mostly hear about things like folate, vitamin C, iron, beta-carotene, and chlorophyll.

The other thing that’s noteworthy about these plants is their capacity to cleanse & detoxify our systems. Chlorophyll is what gives these plants their lovely color, so look for greens that have rich color. This substance cannot be made in the plant without the sun, and is really good at purifying and cleansing blood. Dandelions are famously helpful for detoxifying the liver. Just imagine all the little forest animals, chewing on tender greens in the springtime, after a winter of old stuff that grew months ago.

More actual green stuff than fruit or sweet veggies - I'm feeling cleaner already!

More actual green stuff than fruit or sweet veggies – I’m feeling cleaner already!

So, these days, I’m starting my days with a nice green juice. It’s so satisfying that I really don’t need to eat breakfast until sort of late in the morning. (But then, I’ve never been an early morning breakfast-eater.) When I do eat my first meal of the day, It’s often eggs with sauteed greens like Swiss chard, spinach, beet greens or kale. (I can cook this more quickly than my hubby can fix his bowl of cereal, so don’t think it takes too much time!) Sometimes, I start with a smoothie made from greens and berries. For a treat, I will occasionally make cultured oatmeal or hot cereal with berries or cherries, or sourdough gluten free pancakes with cultured berries. Yum!

Okay, I really don’t intend to just taunt you with all this talk of food and not give you a recipe. I posted this one quite a while ago, so I’m going to link to it again. It’s for a very simple kale & lemon tahini sauce, which I often serve for breakfast with eggs. Click here to see that post. And, if you click here, you can see the post I did last spring for my strawberry super-smoothie recipe.

For my green juice, I will fill over half the volume with actual greens – not just a handful drowning in a few cups of fruit juice. Celery, cucumber, spinach, kale, chard, cilantro, parsley – all these work beautifully. Then, I will add a small amount of sweet vegetable like carrot or beet, plus a small amount of fruit like pineapple, apple or orange. I usually finish off with a bit of something really healthful and in the “specials” category, such as ginger root, lemon or lime.

Green juice!

Green juice!

For the real recipe I want to share with you, you’ll have to wait until tomorrow. I like to keep these posts short. (Who has time to read the long ones?) Tomorrow’s post will be a recipe for sourdough pancakes with cultured berries. A springtime favorite around my house, I think it will be worth the wait!

 

 

The Perils Of Sitting (Yes, I Did Say “Perils”)

Sitting must be less dangerous than hang gliding, right? Surly it’s not as dangerous as rock climbing or snow boarding. Swimming is more dangerous than sitting, especially if you’re diving. Or not? How can sitting be perilous at all? And how can this be a newsworthy topic?

Turns out, the dangers of sitting are much greater than I would have imagined. Maybe if I thought of it as a “sedentary lifestyle,” I might have recognized the problem more quickly. These days, there are scientists and researchers who have devoted quite a lot of energy to studying the effects of inactivity, mostly sitting while working or watching television.

desk-work-md

You may think that you don’t have to worry about this sitting issue if you’re maintaining a healthy weight or if you have a regular workout habit. But studies indicate that sitting for several hours a day is a risk factor for all sorts of ills, all by itself.  This New York Times article calls sitting an “independent pathology” and a “lethal activity.”  My husband recently told me, in disbelief, that he had read “sitting is the new smoking.”

As tempting as it may at times seem, we can’t all become farmers or construction workers or tour guides. Some of us are going to have to work at computers, or otherwise spend lots of time at some sort of desk. Is there any hope for us, I wondered?

I’ve been working with some of my clients on the question of how to combat this issue, and we’ve come up with a few solutions. Personally, I like to sip water and herbal tea during much of the day, which means I am making trips to the bathroom, as well as getting up to refill my drink. I’m up about every 15 or 20 minutes, which is really helpful. While I’m up, I often do a little stretching. I’m talking no more than 10 seconds, but it makes a big difference.

One of my clients who works at home likes to do laundry and similar chores which are time sensitive. This requires her to change levels in her home – taking the stairs – at regular intervals. She also takes a quick stretch break from time to time.

If you want to actually try to reduce the amount of time sitting while working at your desk, there are ways to do this, too. I often set my computer in a spot where I can easily read or work from a standing position. There are even desks designed to be used while standing. If you are in the corporate world, you probably already know about these.

Jeff Sayre.com has a nice article about standing desks.

Jeff Sayre.com has a nice article about standing desks.

Want to take it a step further? (Pun intended, okay?) There are now desks that are tread mills. I read a few articles on this type of desk in preparation for this post, and found a variety of responses from those who are testing them. I read a really positive response first, so I was a little surprised to see a pretty negative one next. This article from Business Insider has a little video of what happened when they tried such a desk at their office. I found it entertaining (I am a health geek, after all.)

Perhaps my favorite solution to the problem of excessive sitting during the work week appeared in this Huffington Post article. The idea is to have meetings while walking together, rather than in a conference room or over coffee. The author reports logging quite a few miles of walking each week as she meets with others. Brilliant!

It won’t work for every meeting, of course. But what if I could do that a couple of times, and employ some of the other strategies during the rest of the week? According to what I’ve been reading lately, I’ll have a much better chance of warding off obesity, insulin resistance, heart problems, and a host of other medical concerns. What about you? If you have a great answer to this issue, I’d love to hear about it!

 

Protein: Are You Getting Enough? Too Much?

Many people I meet tell me with some degree of pride that they eat little or no meat, or that the only meat they eat is chicken or fish. At 15, I became vegetarian. But at first, I also included chicken and fish, and I never gave up eggs or dairy. Unfortunately, I didn’t know much about how to have a healthy diet. I just knew I was having digestive trouble, and had heard that meat, especially red meat, was difficult to digest. Lately, many of us have become aware of ever-increasing warnings about the safety of fish, and about problems with chicken, as well. What to do?

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These days, lots of folks are opting for a vegetarian diet, while many more are going pretty much the opposite direction, with a paleo approach. If a person is a vegetarian, it takes due diligence to avoid protein deficiency. I was warned of this potential downside when I became vegetarian. At the same time, I was reading all sorts of theories about how Americans get way too much protein, and that the amount of protein we need daily is actually much less than many of us believed. I was confused! Reading an article by Dr. John Douillard helped to shed some light as to where we are, as a culture, when it comes to the protein question.

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According to Dr.Douillard, protein deficiency can lead to symptoms such as sleep problems, cravings, joint pain, brain fog or anxiety. But what about getting too much protein? The recommended daily amount of protein is usually about 45 grams for women, 55 grams for men. It can be a lot higher for a pregnant or nursing mother. I say “usually” because I have heard vastly differing amounts from various experts. Many years ago, I spoke with a nutritionist who advocated a very low protein intake.

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Indeed, too much protein is said to hinder athletic performance, even though athletes probably need more than most folks. Overly acidic internal environment and build-up of ammonia in the blood can result from a high intake of protein. This article links overall mortality with increased protein consumption for certain age groups.

What I have seen in clients (and other people) is that, in keeping with the common media messages, we tend to go one direction or the other. Also, as I always say, everyone is unique. You may need a bit more than average, or a bit less protein than most. It’s important to be familiar with signs of protein deficiency, and also of taking in too much. Like Dr. Douillard, I have seen many people who have chosen to limit their protein intake, and have taken it a little too far.

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If you are vegetarian, or eat very little meat, evaluate your protein intake, and increase it if you feel you need to do so. Try including meat or fish, legumes, nuts and seeds, or eggs at each meal. Increase the amount gradually, and see how your body responds. At the same time, try decreasing the amount of grains or simple carbohydrates at each meal. Be aware of how your body responds to the adjustments you make.

The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain, Ph.D.

The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain, Ph.D.

If you are eating more of a paleo or Atkins type of diet, watch to be sure you are filling up a large portion of your plate with non-starchy vegetables and low sugar fruits. Even though meat is an important part of your menus, it’s easy to have too much if you’re not filling up on plant foods. The picture of these types of eating plans can be painted as being all about meat, when that is not actually what the leading proponents of these plans teach at all. The emphasis should be on a variety of plant foods, with animal proteins playing a smaller, yet very crucial role.

As always, sugar and too many simple carbs can wreck your results, even if you are getting the optimal amount of protein.

I cannot overemphasize the importance of tuning in to what’s happening for you as you adjust the amounts of protein in your diet. Only you can feel what you are feeling! If you begin to experience low energy, aches and pains, or fuzzy thinking, that can be a sign that you have not yet arrived at your ideal way of eating. But, if you feel fabulous in every way, and for a sustained period of time, chances are very good that you’re doing something right!

First, Do No Harm, Right?

The Hippocratic Oath has long been revered for it’s wisdom. It is my contention, knowing personally a few doctors, and having conversed with far too many, besides, that most doctors are in their profession to actually help people. Of course, we may ask ourselves how we could ever know this for sure. In certain circles today, the motives of medical doctors are being harshly questioned. People are fed up! I get it.

drawing by Mollie Walker Freeman

drawing by Mollie Walker Freeman

Studies and statistics, I have observed, can be used to “prove” almost any theory. However, lots of folks are suffering at the hands of the ones who are supposed to be helping. During my schooling to become certified as a health coach, I heard from a well-known medical doctor that iatrogenic death was the 3d leading cause of death in the United States, and causes many more deaths worldwide. I was not familiar with this term – how could it possibly be so common?

Iatrogenic simply means “resulting from medical treatment.” In 2000, a study was conducted by Dr. Barbara Starfield, a medical doctor with a Master’s degree in public health. The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. For the study, the U.S. was compared with 12 other industrialized nations, and was found to rank last or nearly last in many important indicators. Perhaps the most disturbing of these were the findings around iatrogenic death, including 12,000 deaths a year from unnecessary surgeries and 106,000 from nonerror, adverse effects from medications. In all, about 225,000 deaths were due to iatrogenic causes. However, other sources think the number may be as high as 284,000. (See chriskresser.com)

drawing by Mollie Walker Freeman

drawing by Mollie Walker Freeman

In 2006, the Nutrition Institute of America ran an independent review of “government approved” medicine entitled,”Death by Medicine.” The group was made up of such well-known physicians and professors as Gary Null, Carolyn Dean, and Martin Feldman. As a result of their research, they believe that only as many as 5 – 20% of iatrogenic deaths are reported, partly due to fear of lawsuits, and partly because codes for reporting these deaths do not even exist. They say that the numbers may be many times higher. (See “Death By Medicine“)

I personally know a woman who had a breast removed due to “cancer,” only to learn that she never had cancer in the first place. I know a man who was admitted into the ER with his wife, a registered nurse, telling staff that he was suffering from a heart attack. However, they were told that he was not having a heart attack and to settle down. In the morning, the shocked cardiologist exclaimed, “This man’s in cardiac arrest!” – and had been all night long.

I have a client who was advised to have her gall bladder removed immediately. Due to insurance complications combined with a desire to try to treat without surgery, she postponed the surgery for a couple of months. A good thing, too, since 2 months later it was found that her gall bladder was perfectly healthy. She had a stomach ulcer.

We pretty much all know that our “health care” system needs help. That is not my point. The blame for our current state can be spread around, I think. Doctors are not perfect and do not have all the answers. Even when they may say that there is nothing further to be done, people often find ways to heal. (Check out this New York Times article “The Island Where People Forget To Die.) Why is that? I suspect that it is, in large part, a result of taking responsibility for one’s own health.

drawing by Mollie Walker Freeman

drawing by Mollie Walker Freeman

We may not be able to do it alone. We need support, help, information. It would be great if businesses, schools, industry, the government and others would take responsibility to do what they can to make our collective health a priority. And, despite accusations of greed and selfish motives, many do attempt to do so. But let’s think about it. No one can make you eat vegetables, sleep, drink water, or exercise. Most of the main factors that determine our health are controlled by ourselves.

And, even those monster-big scary organizations are made up of individual people. Sometimes, those people are affected by health challenges, and they also have to educate themselves and take responsibility for their own outcomes. Sometimes, those individuals end up participating in “bad” things while trying to do something good, like developing a drug to help people which ends up doing damage.

After some pretty bad experiences with doctors & hospitals during my formative years, I decided that it would be best for me and my children to stay out of the hospital and the doctor’s office as much as possible. We have taken care of ourselves as best we can, as much as it depends upon us, and with good results. After raising 5 children to adulthood, I can only recall 3 emergency room visits. Other than childbirths and my husband’s hernia surgery, we’ve avoided being hospitalized for 30 years. (And, I must say, by the grace of God!)

I have to note that when Scott went in for his hernia surgery, he received excellent care. I’m happy to know that doctors and hospitals are there if we need them in a true emergency.

If You Still Get A Cold Or Flu: 7 Tips

You’ve been taking all of my recommendations to heart, right? Maybe so, perhaps not. So what if you get sick anyway? If you are new to the world of holistic health and radical good nutrition, trust me, any small changes for the better will pay off! But, it may take some time before you see a marked difference in being able to ward off

This was my daughter trying to stave off a cold by eating an awesome salad.

This was my daughter trying to stave off a cold by eating an awesome salad.

common viruses. I’ve heard that the things you do this year to improve your immune system actually yield the biggest payoff next year. My own experience has been that, after recovering from food sensitivities and way to much junk food, as well as learning some long, hard lessons about stress, I am, indeed, finally noticing a huge difference. I have actually succumbed to a virus only once in the past 3 years.

At the moment, however, there are sick people at my house who need my help. My husband is a pretty healthy guy, but when a stomach bug gets him, he’s really frustrated. I’ve been doing all sorts of things to help my family heal more quickly, and to be less miserable while they fight off the sickness. I want to share some of my favorite tips with you today.

1) Drink plenty of liquids, but not just water. Warm liquids, like herbal teas, water with lemon juice, chicken or miso soup are a help to your immune system – partly because they help you keep warm. Sipping these slowly will help you stay hydrated, and the herbs will help fight any infection. I’m using the word “warm” because some practitioners believe that keeping the water just below the boiling point is better for immune health. Also, in the case of miso soup, cooking the miso will kill the beneficial bacteria.

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2) Keep the mucous membranes moist. In our dry, Colorado climate, or any place that is being artificially heated, a humidifier can help with this. I also have my family moisturize the inside of the nostrils, using either coconut oil or similar non-toxic moisturizer. Take care to test a tiny amount before coating the entire area, in case you are sensitive. If the moisturizer burns slightly (or a lot!) use something else.

3) Rest and sleep. This should seem obvious, but we adults have lots to do, and we sometimes make things even harder on ourselves by not heeding our bodies’ many messages, such as “MUST…SLEEP…NOW.”

sleeper

4) Use garlic, cinnamon, and ginger. Garlic and cinnamon are naturally antibiotic. Use any way you can tolerate them, but fresh, raw minced garlic is best. Cinnamon does well mixed with a bit of local, raw and unfiltered honey. Mix into herbal tea or eat off the spoon. Ginger has long been known to help against nausea and headache. Mince and steep it in near-boiling water for tea, or put it in juice. Which brings me to my next tip.

5) Make fresh vegetable juice, and drink it within 15 minutes. Your body does not need a lot of food when fighting off a short-term illness. However, the potential to become dehydrated exists, especially if you have a fever or are vomiting. Fresh juice is highly nutritious and easily digestible. Use greens, such as celery, spinach, kale, Swiss chard or cucumber. Add a little carrot and/or beet (a little because these are full of sugar). Then, add useful ingredients such as half a lemon or 1/2 inch piece of ginger root. A handful of chopped parsley helps, too. Last, you may want to include a bit of fruit, for flavor, such as apple or grapefruit. Keep it to a small amount, like 1/2 of a small apple. Mix about 2 parts juice to 1 part water, or add warm herbal tea to dilute.

Your juicer is your friend. This is my 27 year old Champion

Your juicer is your friend. This is my 27 year old Champion

6) Consume cultured foods. (You knew I would say this, right?) Remember that miso or chicken soup I talked about? Add a few tablespoons of lacto-fermented sauerkraut or winter beets. (Remember to never cook them, as heat destroys beneficial microbes.) The miso, as I mentioned, is also cultured. I would not recommend yogurt or kefir, at least for a few days. But after that, go for it. Why? See my last tip.

cultured stuff...

cultured stuff…

7) Avoid any foods that will aggravate your body. This would include processed foods, white flour, sugar, or products made with these. Leave out dairy products as they cause your body to create an abundance of mucous, and are difficult to digest. (Cultured dairy can be added back soon!) Obviously, avoid any food that you know you have a hard time tolerating or digesting. This frees up your body to focus more energy on healing, and less on dealing with the crud you may think you want to eat for “comfort.”

There are, of course, many other helpful tips for navigating illnesses due to viruses. I have tried to stick to the easiest and most important, in my mind, at least. I also found a fine post by a lady whose work I greatly appreciate, Wellness Mama. You can read it by clicking here. She includes most of the same things I list here, but her post is a lot longer and she has many valuable pointers on this topic. Get well soon, my friends!

Green Veggies For Your Immunity, Blood, Bones And More!

No matter who you are, if you come to me for health coaching, I will probably tell you to eat more greens. Eating more – lots more – greens is one of the things that’s made the most noticeable improvement in my own health, and I want to share some ways they can benefit you, too.

salad greens

A few years ago, I was stretching in a dance class, and I got a terrible foot cramp. If you’ve ever pointed your toe as much as you possibly can, and then found it stuck in that position because of a cramp, you know exactly what I mean! I’ve had this type of cramp in my calves before, too. They’re awful! My dance teacher then said something that has come to my mind again and again. “If you would eat your dark green leafy veggies, you wouldn’t get those cramps.”

Here’s the thing: if you eat a few leaves of spinach in your salad a couple of times a week, or a couple of bites of broccoli show up in your soup, that’s not enough! When I started to listen to Dr. Terry Wahls (whose You Tube video now has a warning label on it, likely because she has become too intimidating for some, with her radical ideas and all), I realized that I needed a lot more green veggies in my diet, and I needed to eat them without fail, every day. I needed to LOVE dark green leafy vegetables – but could I do that?

Sauteed Brussels Sprouts

Sauteed Brussels Sprouts

I was so convinced that I should really give it a try that I began to eat greens every day out of sheer discipline, inspired by the potential results. But then, a funny thing happened. I really started to enjoy greens! I have a green smoothie nearly every day. I put greens in salads, soups, casseroles, eggs, juice, and just about everything. In some traditions, green foods are associated with renewal and spring, which makes sense. I felt so great after learning to eat more greens that I actually craved them. And, I have not had a “charlie horse” in a very long time (probably a result of the calcium and magnesium).

Greens are powerful allies in our fight for great health. They have all sorts of minerals, such as calcium (for bone health), magnesium, iron, potassium, and zinc, and vitamins like A,C,E, and K. They are full of fiber, which is great for helping to keep blood sugar stable and intestines in good form. Greens also contain chlorophyll (what gives them that wonderful color), folic acid, micro-nutrients and other things we’ve barely even discovered. They have been credited with better circulation, improved liver, gall bladder and kidney function, stronger immune health, blood purification, cancer prevention, mucous reduction – and the list goes on!

drinking enzyme-packed green juice

drinking enzyme-packed green juice

One caution about eating these wonder foods: don’t get stuck in a rut. Greens have what is known as “anti-nutrients,” such as oxalic acid, which hinders absorption of calcium. Beet greens and spinach are high in oxalic acid. However, lightly steaming or cooking makes that problem go away. That does not mean you should never eat raw greens, but that you should, in my opinion, alternate between raw and cooked greens, and rotate the varieties in your diet. There are so many from which to choose that you’ll never have to eat too much of the same one.

cabbage

cabbage

Think of all the options available to you! Lettuces alone are full of variety. Then there are spinach, Swiss Chard and beet greens, collards and mustards, broccoli and Brussels sprouts, watercress, dandelion, and cabbage. And yes, there are more still! Then there are sprouts and micro-greens, which are surely superfoods. What’s your pleasure? Find out and eat up!

Baby Steps Or A Giant Leap?

During my training to become a certified health coach, I was shown that most people can do really well with “baby steps” toward better health. You know, some people try to change everything in their diets & lifestyles overnight, jumping into a radical new eating plan, diving into intense gym workouts and all sorts of exciting promises for transformation. This often happens in January. Well, now that January is past us once again, many of these folks have felt the sting of failure in their new efforts.

baby steps...

baby steps…

If that describes your experience, all is not lost! But while I wish I could say that “baby steps” always add up to a life-change for the better, the reality is a bit more complex. It is true that making small changes which become good habits can really add up to dramatic shifts in outcome over the years. We all see that when we are honest with ourselves, right?

Sometimes, however, a small change doesn’t do much of anything. Deep down, we know it’s true. If today I’m eating a pound of sugar, and for the rest of my life, I eat 3/4 of a pound of sugar each day…you get the idea. In the case of a food sensitivity, you may reduce the amount of an offending food in your diet only to find you do not notice a change. Many clients tell me, “I’ve been reducing the amount of gluten in my diet because my doctor says I’m sensitive to it.” I’m sorry to be a bearer of bad news, but they are really not helping the situation at all. I’ve heard it illustrated this way: “If you’re sitting on 5 tacks, and you take 4 away, it still hurts.”

Offending foods seem to be everywhere - illustration by Mollie Walker Freeman

Offending foods seem to be everywhere – illustration by Mollie Walker Freeman

In order to see a real change, a person who has a food sensitivity must eliminate an offending food entirely, just to stop the destructive activity to their digestive and immune systems. Every single time they ingest the food to which they are sensitive, a reaction takes place, whether they feel it or not. When the food is eliminated – that is, when all the troublesome foods have been discovered and discontinued – the body can rest a bit & stop fighting the onslaught of constant irritation. Only then can the gut begin to heal, if it is furnished with the nutrients and helpful micro-organisms it needs.

This is a glimpse of what an elimination diet can begin to accomplish. On one hand, I hate to have to tell someone that their favorite foods just have to go, at least for a time. But, this is  much quicker and less painful than taking decades to learn what’s going on in your gut and how to fix it (which is what I myself did.) An elimination diet is what I recommend to many of my clients. The great thing is that when you are working with a health coach, you have support – a real predictor of success.

You may need to take a leap!

You may need to take a leap!

So, I’m not trashing baby steps at all. Adding broccoli or more water or gentle exercise to your routine, then adding other beneficial steps to your health habits do indeed yield marvelous results over time! If, however, you are dealing with certain chronic health concerns, you may not see the result you want until you dive in and stay in for a good period of time. I’m not trying to discourage you; I’m just being honest.

A wonderful thing to keep in mind is that sometimes, after a period of healing, foods can be added back to the diet. In my case, I was unable to eat bell peppers & garlic – two of my favorites! – for about 12 years. Of course, a lot of that time I was not healing, because I was still eating gluten, which was a big problem for me. But, a couple of years ago, I realized that I could eat garlic & peppers once again. Now I have a new favorite – lacto-fermented sauerkraut with green & red bell peppers & garlic!

The White Stuff – A Great Sauce Recipe

In the winter, we go for warm and wonderful comfort foods like chili and cornbread, turtle brownies, and rice pudding with cinnamon and raisins. Popsicles and salad have lost their appeal when the thermometer reads 3 degrees Fahrenheit (as it does on my phone right now). When I’m trying to make comfort foods daily, I want to still find ways to get all those servings of salubrious veggies. I find myself coming up with sauce recipes, because a delicious sauce turns a pile of quinoa, rice or pasta and some sauteed veggies and/or meat into a nice meal. I want to share with you a favorite of mine, “Creamy Veggie White Sauce.”

Veggie White Sauce with greens over quinoa & fish patties

Veggie White Sauce with greens over quinoa & fish patties

This sauce is fantastic over green beans, cabbage, or potatoes. If you eat dairy, parmesan cheese sprinkled over the top and rice noodles underneath gets you pretty close to an Alfredo dish. (Thai Kitchen brand noodles are wonderful, and quick and easy to prepare.) Even without the cheese, it works beautifully. You could add spinach to it for some added antioxidants (and flavor!)  Add ground buffalo, beef, or chicken, and it’s a meal!

What you need:

1 head cauliflower

1 medium sized onion (or large if you like onion)

3 cloves fresh garlic

3 tablespoons coconut oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

salt and black pepper to taste

chicken stock, veggies stock, water, or a mix of stock & water as needed

food_-_cauliflower

What you do:

Cut up the cauliflower and onion. Melt coconut oil in a heavy bottom saucepan, skillet, or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add cauliflower and onion to pan. Sprinkle with vinegar, soy sauce, and seasoning. If you want your sauce to look really white, use only a teaspoon of soy sauce and leave the vinegar out. It still tastes delicious. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is fairly soft, about 10 minutes. Let cool slightly before next step.

Add the veggies to a blender (I use a Nutri-Bullet). Add just enough stock/water to blend. Enjoy!

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