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8 Benefits of Honey and What to Look For

If everything is honey, and I am what I eat, I must be made of honey…and life is very sweet!     –Winnie the Pooh

It’s no secret that I love honey. I have always had a sweet tooth, and honey helped me tremendously when transitioning to clean eating, and away from refined sugar. Research now indicates that switching out your sugar for honey can actually result in numerous health benefits. Maybe that silly old bear was on to something.

Not Just Any Honey…

So, like with anything that we buy in our modern society, we have to be mindful about the type of honey that we buy, It’s not enough to buy the cheapest or the first honey you see in a store and congratulate yourself for making a healthy choice. Unfortunately even honey is not safe from big industry and the dilution of good quality to make more quantity. So what do you need to look for when buying honey?

  • Raw. Raw honey is pure, unpasteurized and unfiltered, and contains full nutrient benefit, unlike it’s processed competitors.
  • Local. Raw local honey can boost immunity and relieve allergies by allowing you to consume the very pollen that often triggers allergies, thus gradually desensitizing you to the allergy-inducing offenders. How cool is that?
  • Pure. Of course you want to make sure that the honey you buy is just that – honey. Check the label to make sure it doesn’t contain any added flavors, chemicals, sugar…you get the gist. It should be honey. Pure, local, raw honey.
  • Farmers. While you may be able to find some good quality raw local honey in the grocery stores, it’s always a good idea to buy from your local farmers markets, and ask the farmers questions about their bees and their honey. This not only ensures that you get the purest and freshest honey, but at the same time you’re supporting the farmers in their mission to provide good quality, nutrient-rich foods for the consumers.

Benefits of Honey

So we all know honey is delicious. It’s sweet, it’s smooth, it’s beautiful, and it usually comes in a variety of flavors depending on the bees’ nectar source. And when you taste raw, local honey…it’s indescribable. So if that’s not reason enough to ditch the sugar, here are some of the many benefits of this heavenly sweetener:

  1. Can improve allergy symptoms and boost immunity.
  2. Contains powerful antioxidants polyphenols.
  3. Weight loss management. Studies actually show that, not only can switching from refined sugar to honey promote weight loss, but honey may actually contain an appetite suppressing quality which can lead to weight loss and obesity prevention.
  4. Improves scalp and hair. Honey can improve dermatitis when used on the scalp, and can be used as a conditioner for the hair.
  5. Moisturizes and smoothes skin, making for an excellent natural ingredient in skin care.
  6. Can boost energy.
  7. Helps relieve cold/flu symptoms. Honey contains properties that help soothe and relieve mouth and throat irritation. It’s one of the simplest and most effective remedies for sore throats and coughs.
  8. Antibacterial and antifungal. Honey contains antiseptic properties which make it ideal for treating wounds, and historically it has been used in fighting infections.

So honey is awesome. But before you go out and buy a vat of it like some people might do (not naming any names here), please note that as with any sweetener honey should be consumed in moderation. It is actually 53 percent fructose, which means that despite it’s many health benefits, consuming too much can be detrimental to your body. Best to use it medicinally, as a treat, and a sweetener for your tea; but when needed carbs or an energy boost opt for fresh fruits and veggies instead!

 

Chocolate Coconut Butter (or Nutbutter) Cups (Paleo, Gluten-free, Refined Sugar-free)

Soooooo, chocolate. It really needs no introduction – am I right?! If you’re reading this post you probably love chocolate like I do…and like most people with a pulse do. Ive had to give up chocolate twice in my life: once when I was breastfeeding my little guy, who had bad reflux and was clearly allergic to something I was consuming, so I eliminated all possible culprits (thankfully it was dairy, not chocolate that he was allergic to); and once when I had to eliminate “moldy” foods due to systemic mold toxicity. It was not easy, and it was not pleasant, life without chocolate. Some of you may be thinking “you own a health and fitness studio – why are you always encouraging us to eat chocolate?”. Well, because I am a firm believer that, as the Eating Evolved slogan so cleverly puts it, chocolate is food, not candy. When it’s the right kind of chocolate that is. Here’s why:

Health Benefits of Chocolate

  • Packed with anti-oxidants and is free radical fighting
  • Can improve heart health
  • Promotes healthy cholesterol levels
  • May help fight cancer
  • Can reduce inflammation
  • Can boost cognitive functioning
  • Can help lower blood pressure
  • Contains numerous vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, calcium, iron, selenium, etc

Isn’t that amazing? But here’s the thing: we’re not talking about the chocolate that you used to get trick-or-treating as a kid: you know, the Snickers and Butterfinger bars…those are not considered “food” and you will not see the above benefits from eating 6 candy bars a day. We’re talking about pure, dark chocolate, the darker the better. Here is what you want to look for – and avoid – when choosing a healthy chocolate:

  • 70% or higher cacao content (we typically don’t use anything lower than 85%)
  • organic or fair trade
  • minimally processed
  • no additives or soy
  • preferably no refined sugar (maple or coconut sugar preferred)

We buy Eating Evolved chocolate because it meets all of our criteria and is delicious! While we don’t use it as a meal replacement, we do eat quite a bit of it, and like knowing that we’re nurturing our bodies and our health. We also love to make treats with it from time to time, like my Chocolate Coconut Butter (or Nutbutter) Cups!


Chocolate Coconut Butter (or Nutbutter) Cups

Ingredients

  • 1 dark chocolate bar (we use 85%, but you could use darker or lighter, or a combination of the two!)
  • 1T coconut oil
  • 1/4c coconut butter or nut butter (we like almond butter)

Directions

  1. Line mini-muffin tin with 12 mini-muffin liners. Alternatively you can buy mini muffin liners that do not need to be used in a tin, you would just place them on a baking sheet.
  2. Melt chocolate and coconut oil in double boiled over low-medium heat.
  3. Spoon about a teaspoon of chocolate into each muffin liner. Steps 3-5 should be done rather quickly to avoid the chocolate drying and becoming less manageable (and pretty)!
  4. Spoon a dollop (a teaspoon or so) of coconut butter or nut butter on top of the chocolate.
  5. Spoon another teaspoon or so of chocolate on top of the butter. If needed, continue to add a little more chocolate to each cup to cover the butter, and until all of the chocolate is used.
  6. Freeze for 20 min.
  7. Enjoy!
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12 Anti-Inflammatory Foods to Add to Your Life

Inflammation is a topic that hits close to home for me. Having been exposed to mold in my home for 4 years, my body suffers from systemic inflammation, which has caused everything from significant and unexplained weight gain to rotating bouts of tendonitis to chronic fatigue and joint pain. Inflammation in the body is not always a bad thing, and can just be a function of the body doing its job to ward off illness. However, if the immune system goes into overdrive, an autoimmune disorder and serious inflammation can result. Some examples of this are fibromyalgia and even asthma.

As with most illness and disease, inflammation can be relieved and even reversed through diet. Many foods that we consume in our typical diet can promote and even cause inflammation and disease. When looking at reducing inflammation then, it’s no wonder that many good practitioners first look to diet. When working with clients, diet is an integral part of helping to not only optimize health, but also to help resolve many health issues and concerns, including inflammation. We look at moving clients toward a whole foods diet, full of healthy and organic fruits, veggies, fats, and of course meats. Antioxidants and essential fatty acids are components that are important to incorporate when working to reduce inflammation.

12 Anti-Inflammatory Foods to Add to Your Life

As I talked about in my earlier post about forming positive relationships with food, when transitioning to a food and lifestyle change I think its important to find foods that you do like that also are healing foods for your body. Try to avoid focusing on the foods that need to be eliminated from your diet, and try to focus more on the healthy and delicious foods that you are adding to your diet. Here are 12 Anti-Inflammatory Foods to Add to Your Life:

 

  1. Leafy Greens. By now you should be eating lots of leafy greens daily anyway (and if you still need convincing read my post here), but if you still haven’t jumped on this health-wagon, nows a good time to start. Leafy greens contains numerous vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants needed to help fight disease and inflammation, and they are simply a game-changer.
  2. Beets. Another food rich in antioxidants, beets are also anti-inflammatory. And as a bonus, they contain high amounts of magnesium as well (see my post here on the importance of magnesium in your diet).
  3. Turmeric. Curcumin is highly regarded as an anti-inflammatory food, and has proven to even be more potent than aspirin. We use turmeric in tea, golden milk, and in various dishes when we can.
  4. Ginger. Ah, this is my favorite. A cousin of turmeric, ginger is a powerful root that also helps to fight inflammation. We use ginger daily in our lemon-ginger tea, and I add it into smoothies, soups and other dishes every chance I get!
  5. Garlic. Garlic is anti-fungal, anti-viral, and full of antioxidants. Among other medicinal benefits is garlic’s ability to help relieve inflammation.
  6. Blueberries. High in anti-oxidants, blueberries can also help fight inflammation.
  7. Wild-Caught Salmon. Wild-caught salmon contains essential fatty acids and omega-3s, which are potent inflammation-fighters. Fish oil and fermented cod liver oil are excellent supplements to take, especially when eating fish on a daily basis is not practical.
  8. Bone Broth. Bone broth, especially homemade bone broth, can help reduce inflammation and heal leaky gut (also a result of inflammation).
  9. Coconut Oil. Coconut oil has endless health benefits, so it’s no surprise that anti-inflammatory properties are on it’s list of ways it helps your body.
  10. Chia Seeds. Chia seeds can help reverse inflammation due to their anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
  11. Spices. Spices such as cloves, cinnamon, oregano, sage, and thyme are extremely anti-inflammatory.
  12. Dark Chocolate. Last, but not least, dark chocolate. Cocoa contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. Make sure you choose a chocolate that is 75% or higher, and try to avoid any additives such as cane sugar or soy. We buy our chocolate here!

If you are suffering from inflammation and other health issues related to inflammation, we encourage you to speak with a knowledgeable professional who can help guide you toward food and lifestyle changes to heal your body. Contact us for a free consult and see how we can help you feel better and eliminate unnecessary inflammation!

 

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This website may, from time to time, endorse various products and/or services that we believe will benefit you in your quest for improving your life and health. It may be true that this website and its owner will receive compensation for these endorsements should you choose to purchase said products or services. In fact, in such cases, you should assume that we are an affiliate and will be compensated. Having said that, this website and its owner will only endorse products and/or services in which we strongly believe, or which we have used ourselves. By using this website, you hereby consent to the disclaimer and agree to all terms, policies, and conditions.

Herb-Marinated Beef Sirloin (paleo, gluten-free)

Spring is fully underway here in Philadelphia, with lots of rainy days, lots of warm sunny days, and lots of weird in-between days when you have no idea what to wear. I love springtime, with the gorgeous flowers and trees in bloom, the birds happily singing their busy tunes, and children filling up the playgrounds again. Winter is drab around here, and by the time those temperatures begin to rise again, we are more than eager to get out and enjoy every moment! One of my favorite hallmarks of spring has come to be planting flowers with my kids, and of course preparing our little garden in our backyard. I like to let the kids pick some things that they want to plant, and have them help me with each step. They love getting their hands dirty, searching for worms, planting the plants, and munching on the herbs as we set them in the soil. It’s a beautiful thing to plant and grow your own food – even if it’s just a little – and to have your children be a part of the process, and appreciation.

Health Benefits of Fresh Herbs

Sun gold tomatoes are a staple for us each year, but this year we’re branching out a little and adding cucumbers and strawberries to the mix! Our herbs remain the star of the show though, with varieties of basil, mint, parsley, cilantro, chives and rosemary making an appearance year after year. And since we grow our own herbs, it’s given me an excuse to use them in our food more, and to play with new ways of incorporating them into our diets as much as possible. I love using them in cooking; they add so much flavor and really help any dish come alive. Herbs are packed with health benefits too! Here are some common culinary garden herbs and their health benefits:

  • Sage: antioxidants, improves memory, prevents disease
  • Mint: antimicrobial, anti-viral, antioxidants, aids and calms digestion, reduces inflammation
  • Oregano: antioxidants, antimicrobial, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, boosts immune system, prevents disease
  • Basil: antioxidants, anti-cancer properties, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, reduces blood pressure,
  • Rosemary: antioxidants, anti-microbial, relieves pain, aids digestion
  • Thyme: antioxidants, can speed recovery from illness, can treat foot and vaginal yeast, prevents disease
  • Parsley: antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, dietary fibers, balances cholesterol

With all of this in mind, I encourage you to add in more herbs to your cooking this year! Even if you’re already an herb-guru, maybe try something new, or at least a new recipe. Starting with this one. This one right here. Combining my love for steak with my love for fresh herbs, I knew I couldn’t go wrong, but I can’t even tell you how ridiculously delicious this oh-so-simple recipe is. And feel free to cook this on the grill, if you’re savvy that way. I used a skillet because I was in a bit of a time-crunch. Also, I used sirloin steak because it’s one of my favorite cuts, and one that I happen to have in the freezer, but feel free to use the marinade on different cuts, just make sure they’re grass-fed.


Herb-Marinated Beef Sirloin

Ingredients:

  • 1 16oz. beef sirloin steak (or similar)
  • Herb-marinade (see below)
  • 1-2T bacon fat or other cooking fat of choice

Marinade Ingredients:

  • 1c. olive oil
  • 4 minced garlic cloves
  • 2-3T of each (or other herbs that you have in the garden)
    • basil
    • parsley
    • chives
    • rosemary
    • thyme
  • 2T red wine vinegar
  • sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Chop herbs and combine all marinade ingredients in a bowl. Pour half of the marinade in a dish and add the steak, covering both sides with the marinade. Marinate for 20 minutes, and up to an hour in the fridge.

Preheat skillet over medium-high heat. Cook steaks for 6-7 minutes each side (more or less depending on how you like your steak).

Once done, remove steak and place on a cutting board or a plate to rest for 5 minutes or so.

Serve topped with remaining marinade.

 

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This website may, from time to time, endorse various products and/or services that we believe will benefit you in your quest for improving your life and health. It may be true that this website and its owner will receive compensation for these endorsements should you choose to purchase said products or services. In fact, in such cases, you should assume that we are an affiliate and will be compensated. Having said that, this website and its owner will only endorse products and/or services in which we strongly believe, or which we have used ourselves. By using this website, you hereby consent to the disclaimer and agree to all terms, policies, and conditions.

30 Healthy Snack Ideas (paleo, dairy-free, refined sugar-free)

I love to snack. Much like my 3- and 5-year-old, I get excited to open up a snack bag (even thought it’s one I packed) when we’re out for the day and it’s their (ahem, our) snack time. Japheth can literally go all day without snacking once. He will eat his 4-5 meals and be perfectly content. But me? I love having something to munch on. And as anyone who eats clean knows, it’s not always easy to be a snacker in this world. It’s not like we can grab a tin of Pringles or some cheese and crackers and go to town. And it’s quite a challenge to find good snacks at the store…don’t get me started on that subject. But, in this post, I have for you 30 – yes, 30 – snack ideas that are clean. I’m talking paleo-friendly, dairy-free, refined sugar-free, grain-free, you got it. And many of these ideas are just a little twist on things you already have at home! Of course, I’ve also included a few that you can buy and stick to use when in a pinch, and not feel guilty about!

30 Healthy Snack Ideas

  1. Nuts, seeds, fruits, veggies
  2. Carrot sticks dipped in mashed avocado
  3. Ants on a log (nut butter on every pieces, topped with raisins)
  4. Ants on a stump (banana slices topped with nut butter, then topped with raisins)
  5. Homemade Trail Mix (nuts, dried fruit, coconut flakes, even dark chocolate)
  6. Paleo granola
  7. Maple-glazed walnuts (add 2c walnuts and 1/3c maple syrup to pan on
    medium-high heat. Cook and stir about 3 minutes, until syrup is
    caramelized).
  8. Coconut date poppers (can also make these in bars)
  9. Dark chocolate covered nuts
  10. Nut or seed butters (make your own!)
  11. Dried Fruit (with no added sugar or sulfur)
  12. Dates stuffed with almond butter
  13. Frozen grapes
  14. Frozen bananas
  15. Dark chocolate covered frozen bananas
  16. Smoothies like this super-healthy and yet somehow delicious one!
  17. Homemade Popsicles
  18. Boiled Eggs (sprinkle with favorite seasoning)
  19. Deviled eggs (yolks mixed with avocado and stuffed into whites)
  20. BACON
  21. Bacon Avocado sandwiches (avocado between two slices of bacon)
  22. Anything wrapped in bacon
  23. This chocolate. After all, as their slogan says, chocolate is food, not candy.
  24. Beef or pork sticks
  25. Kale chips
  26. Sweet potato chips **read the ingredients and make sure it’s clean, like Jackson’s brand!
  27. Paleo-friendly macaroons
  28. Lara bars are great, just make sure to avoid the ones with peanut butter!
  29. Coconut flakes – these have a little sweetness!
  30. Beef jerky bites – we love Epic bites and bars!

So there you have it, 30 healthy snack ideas for you to stay on track with your clean-eating, but also to satisfy that snack-craving! What are your favorite healthy snacks when the craving hits?

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This website may, from time to time, endorse various products and/or services that we believe will benefit you in your quest for improving your life and health. It may be true that this website and its owner will receive compensation for these endorsements should you choose to purchase said products or services. In fact, in such cases, you should assume that we are an affiliate and will be compensated. Having said that, this website and its owner will only endorse products and/or services in which we strongly believe, or which we have used ourselves. By using this website, you hereby consent to the disclaimer and agree to all terms, policies, and conditions.

8 Super Simple Ways to Get Your Greens In

 

Leafy greens are vital components of a healthy diet, and provide numerous nutrients that our bodies need. I talked about the many benefits of leafy greens in a previous post here. Some of the challenges of eating greens, though, are efficiency and convenience. I’m not talking about eating a piece of lettuce on your burger and calling that your veggie serving. I mean real servings of greens. Several cups of a dark leafy green, such as kale, spinach, or chard, for each meal. Those mason jar salads? Believe it or not. they do not contain the amount of veggies your body should be getting in a meal. So how can you eat that many greens three to four times a day, and still manage to do all the things you need to do on a daily basis? That’s the tricky part for most people, and one of the many reasons that our society, as a whole, is deficient in vegetables, especially the super-healthy, super-vital dark leafy greens.

That is also why in this post I have outlined 8 Super Simple Ways to Get Your Greens In! Feel free to get creative with this list. Use it for inspiration and find your own ways that work for you. But don’t, please don’t, skimp on your veggies or your greens. Make a commitment and make it work.

8 Super Simple Ways to Get Your Greens In

  1. The Ultimate Green Smoothie. Packed with all kinds of health powerhouses, including probiotics and collagen, this is the ultimate delicious and healthy smoothie. And, it takes mere minutes to make!
  2. Sauteed Bacon-y Spinach. I’ve said it before and it’s worth saying again: bacon can make anything good. Simply heat up a couple of tablespoons of bacon grease in a saute pan and throw in as many cups of spinach as will fit in the pan. Place the lid on and cook until spinach wilts. Remove pan and stir until all spinach is wilted and ready to eat!
  3. Pesto. This is another really easy and efficient way to get those greens in. If you have a food processor this literally takes minutes to make, and you can eat it with any protein of choice. I like to make a large batch of pesto, using spinach, kale, herbs, and any other greens I can find. Add olive or avocado oil, and seasonings such as garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Here is a delicious and power-packed recipe to try.
  4. Kale Chips. If you haven’t tried kale chips yet, you should. They are delicious, and you can hardly tell you’re actually eating kale! Because they aren’t fresh, or likely local, you may not want this to be your sole- or even primary veggie source, but in a pinch, this is a great way to get your greens in and still get most of the benefits. And they’re much healthier than many other snack alternatives!
  5. Raw Wraps. Have you ever ordered a burger at Elevation Burger or Five Guys and asked for no bun, but a lettuce wrap instead? Or how about the famous Lettuce Wraps at PF Changs? Well, why not make your own? Try using chard or kale leaves instead of bib lettuce thought – it’ll significantly increase your nutrient intake.
  6. Homemade Healthy Sauteed Swiss Chard with Garlic and CheeseSoups. I throw everything in soups. That half of an onion that I didn’t use? Into the pot. Those extra herbs in the fridge? Into the pot. Hamburger meat and stew meat? Yep, why not. My dark leafy greens go in too (during last few minutes of cooking). If it’s a creamy soup, blend them right in with the other ingredients.
  7. Sauteed Greens. Saute up a bunch or more of de-stemmed kale, Swiss chard, or collard greens, using a fat of your choice, optional onion or bacon add-ins, a little salt, and about a cup of broth per large saute pan. Cook until just wilted and enjoy!
  8. Spinach Scrambled Eggs. Eggs pair really well with greens, and scrambled eggs are a quick and easy way to get the protein and veggies in to start your day off right! Whisk 4-6 eggs in a bowl and season with salt, pepper, and any other seasonings. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add 6-8 cups of spinach (little at a time if needed), and cook until wilted. Add eggs to pan and cook until set.

These are some of my favorite quick and easy ways to get my – and my family’s – greens in! What are yours?

 

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This website may, from time to time, endorse various products and/or services that we believe will benefit you in your quest for improving your life and health. It may be true that this website and its owner will receive compensation for these endorsements should you choose to purchase said products or services. In fact, in such cases, you should assume that we are an affiliate and will be compensated. Having said that, this website and its owner will only endorse products and/or services in which we strongly believe, or which we have used ourselves. By using this website, you hereby consent to the disclaimer and agree to all terms, policies, and conditions.

 

The Ultimate Green Smoothie (paleo, dairy-free)

Like probably millions of other Americans, our schedule is pretty hectic. Between the business, two small children, and all of the day-to-day things that come up, I need quick and easy when it comes to cooking. That’s not to say I skimp on taste, quality, or health though. No matter how hectic things get, I will move everything aside if I’m working on perfecting a recipe or experimenting with new ways to introduce delicious foods into our diet! Thankfully this one didn’t take too long to perfect. Once I finally invested in a Vitamix (life changer, and every bit worth the price!), making smoothies became a piece of cake. In fact, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t hopped on the bandwagon before! Life before the Vitamix didn’t have a lot of greens in it. I mean, we’d eat greens on a regular basis, but the majority of our veggie intake came from root veggies, because they’re faster and easier to eat relative to leafy greens. One serving of a sweet potato equates about 4-6 cups of leafy greens, and when you’re always on the go there’s no time for eating that many greens for every meal, much less for eating mindfully! But then, smoothies came into my life, and I no longer lack leafy greens in my diet. We (kids included) drink a green smoothie each morning to start our day, and I usually have one or two throughout the day as well, along with the other veggies I eat.

Why Leafy Greens are Important

We probably all know by now that leafy greens are good for us. Everyone tells us to eat more leafy greens, the darker the better. But why? Here’s a refresher of some reasons that leafy greens aren’t just important, they are necessary. Leafy greens such as kale, spinach, chard, mustard greens, etc. contain vital nutrients that our bodies need to function and live optimally. They are a good source of:

  1. Magnesium
  2. Potassium
  3. Calcium
  4. Folate
  5. Betaine
  6. Manganese
  7. Carotenoids
  8. Vitamin C
  9. Phytochemicals such as beta-carotine
  10. Antioxidants

The Ultimate Green Smoothie

I call this The Ultimate Green Smoothie because not only does it contain a generous helping of dark leafy greens, but also other powerful foods such as nutrient-dense herbs, health-boosting gelatin, and digestion enhancing probiotics. And even with all of this healthy stuff it still tastes so good we all ask for more! **Make sure to use local organic ingredients as much as possible in order to access the nutrients fully, and to avoid ingesting chemicals.

Ingredients:

  • water or water kefir, enough to fill blender 1/3-1/2 full
  • 2 probiotic capsules
  • dark leafy greens, enough to fill blender about 2/3 full (about 1 bunch of kale or 6c spinach)
  • 1 generous handful fresh herbs (we use cilantro, basil, or parsley)
  • 1c pitted dates
  • 2c frozen fruit (we like mangoes and strawberries the best)
  • 2tsp grass-fed collagen hydrolysate

Directions:

Fill blender 1/3-1/2 full of water. If you like thick smoothies use 1/3 water; if you like runnier smoothies, use 1/2 pitcher of water. Open probiotic caps and pour powder into water. Wash greens and herbs thoroughly and pack them down into pitcher until it gets to about 3/4 full. Add dates. Next add fruit, and top with gelatin. Blend until smooth and enjoy!

I hope you enjoy this Ultimate Green Smoothie as much as we do! How do you like to eat your leafy greens?

 

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This website may, from time to time, endorse various products and/or services that we believe will benefit you in your quest for improving your life and health. It may be true that this website and its owner will receive compensation for these endorsements should you choose to purchase said products or services. In fact, in such cases, you should assume that we are an affiliate and will be compensated. Having said that, this website and its owner will only endorse products and/or services in which we strongly believe, or which we have used ourselves. By using this website, you hereby consent to the disclaimer and agree to all terms, policies, and conditions.

 

Collagen and Gelatin: How the Health Benefits Outweigh the “Ew” Factor

You may have heard about collagen by now, and how important it is for your health. But what about the “ew” factor? Collagen and gelatin have a stigma that seems to scare people off, and here were going to talk about how the benefits of collagen and gelatin far outweigh the “ew” factor.

What is Collagen and Gelatin?

Collagen is an important – and one of the most common – protein in the body’s connective tissues, skin, and bones. It holds the body together, so to speak, helping to provide structure. As we age, and due to toxic environmental factors, our collagen levels decrease. Additionally, our modern diets don’t typically contain collagen or the amino acids that it provides, as we have gotten out of the practice of eating animals parts like our ancestors did.

Collagen and gelatin are derived from animal parts such as skins, bones, and tissues (the “ew” factor), and contain important amino acids, glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline. Gelatin is created when collagen is cooked. Hydrolyzed collagen has the same amino acids as gelatin, but is a more processed form of collagen, which breaks up proteins into smaller pieces. While the health benefits of hydrolyzed collagen and gelatin are thought to be roughly the same, some people find it a little easier to digest hydrolyzed collagen. I prefer hydrolyzed collagen in things like smoothies or yogurt because it doesn’t gel like gelatin does. On the other hand, gelatin is what’s used in making gummies or marshmallows, or in thickening soups, due to it’s gelatinous nature.

Health Benefits of Collagen and Gelatin

If you’re new to the idea of consuming animal parts that do not include meat only, eating collagen or gelatin may not sound so appealing to you. The good news is that if you can get past that initial “ew” you’ll find that there are numerous health benefits that you can get, simply by adding a little collagen or gelatin powder to your foods, or by including delicious bone broth into your diet. If you’re still not convinced, take a look at some of the tremendous health benefits of collagen and gelatin:

  • Promotes joint health and reduces joint pain
  • Improves health and digestion
  • Improves mood, reduces anxiety
  • Improves skin and hair health
  • Maintains strong bones, relieves osteoporosis
  • Can aid in weight loss (it’s a healthy protein)
  • May help balance hormones

What Kind of Collagen or Gelatin?

We use this kind because it’s grass-fed and from humanely-raised animals. The Beef Gelatin will gel, so I use that more for things like gummies and marshmallows, or thickening soups. The Collagen Peptides is water-soluble, so I use this one for my smoothies and shakes (instead of protein powders), or mixed in any other hot or cold liquid. We also like Great Lakes collagen hydrolysate and beef gelatin.

Hope fully this will convince you that the health benefits of collagen and gelatin far outweigh the “ew” factor, and that you’ll give it a try! What ways do you like to get collagen into your diet?

 

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10 Non-Food Ways That We Use Coconut Oil in Our House

Coconut oil in our house is one of those items that we would have a hard time living without. We try to be pretty minimal when it comes to shopping, and products that are both healthy and multi-purpose are wins. There are a million and one uses for coconut oil, ranging from using it as a cleaner, to using it in your favorite brownie recipe. It’s well-known and revered in both the primal/paleo and the non-paleo world, as one of the healthiest foods on the planet, and one of the most versatile products to own.

Benefits of Coconut Oil

The benefits of coconut oil have been proven in over a thousand research studies, and the list is endless. Here are a few commonly known benefits of this amazing fruit:

  • high in saturated fat, making it heart healthy
  • can heal urinary infections
  • high in antioxidants
  • can reduce inflammation
  • anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral
  • improves gut health
  • helps balance hormones
  • improves hair and skin conditions
  • prevents tooth decay and other dental problems
  • treats candida and yeast infections

10 Non-Food Ways That We Use Coconut Oil in Our House

In order to gain benefit from coconut oil, you can eat it as part of your regular diet. Grease your pans with it, cook your eggs in it, use it in baking recipes, melt it over your favorite veggies, etc. But don’t stop there! Coconut oil can be used in a myriad of ways that are non-food related! *Just as a note, I believe that anything that goes on your body should be safe enough to go in your body. After all, your skin is your largest organ, and it absorbs anything that you put on it – if you wouldn’t eat certain chemicals and toxins, why would you put them on your skin? Here are 10 Non-Food Ways That We Use Coconut Oil in Our House:

  1. Skincare. We use coconut oil in our homemade body butters, lip balms, lotion bars, deodorants, and sunscreen. It has a natural SPF of 4, is an excellent moisturizer, and can heal skin conditions. Additionally, in a pinch we use plain coconut oil on our dry skin or lips – doesn’t get much easier than that!
  2. Haircare. We use coconut oil in our homemade hair pomades and conditioners. To condition hair, simple rub between your hands until soft, then rub on ends of hair and into scalp. Leave on for 1 hour or even overnight, then rinse. *Be careful not to use coconut oil in the shower or sink too frequently as we have found that it clogs the drain when used regularly!
  3. Detox Bath. We love detox baths, and while we don’t take them as often as we’d like, we definitely feel the benefits when we do. It’s great for kids too, and seems to instantly relax them. Here’s a simple recipe to try:
    – 1/2c Epsom salts or magnesium flakes,
    – 1/4c coconut oil
    – 2-3 drops of essential oils (such as lavender or eucalyptus)
    – Hot bath
  4. Dental Care. We oil pull. Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic technique, used to draw out toxins from the mouth and body, and create a sort of anti-septic environment. It is said to prevent tooth decay, kill bad breath, and whiten teeth, among other oral hygiene benefits. How to do it: Swish about a tablespoon on coconut oil around in your mouth for about 20 minutes. Spit into trash can. Do this daily for noticeable benefit.
  5. Cleaning. We even use coconut oil for cleaning purposes! It cleans crayon and other marks off of walls, a trick that I was very grateful to learn. We also use it to clean marks off of furniture!
  6. Petfood/Health. Did you know that coconut oil is also beneficial for pets? Makes sense, since it’s
    so beneficial for us, right? We give our cats food that contains coconut oil daily, and have noticed a huge difference in their digestion and fur since starting it.
  7. Carrier Oil for Use with Essential Oils. Coconut oil is one of our favorite carrier oils when using essential oils. We mix it with peppermint eo to help with headaches, eucalyptus eo for a chest rub when sick, tea tree eo when needing a powerful antibacterial (think warts or fungus), wintergreen eo for sore muscles, and many more.
  8. Candles. I’ve started making my own homemade candles from beeswax and coconut oil. It’s so easy, and a greta way to avoid the chemicals and toxins that many candles consist of. I can add my favorite essential oils for an amazing scent too!
  9. Cough Suppressant. We make our own cough drops and cough medicine using combinations of coconut oil, ginger, cinnamon, and honey, all immune-boosting superpowers.
  10. Itches. We sometimes use coconut oil plain, or more often blended with essential oils, for relieving the sting or itches of bug bites or rashes.

As you can see, coconut oil really is a go-to for us; so much so that our kids even request it when they have a minor ailment! Hopefully this list will inspire you, if you’re not already a coconut-oil fanatic! What are your favorite uses for coconut oil?

 

 

 

 

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Developing a Positive Relationship with Food: Making a Positive Shift

What comes to mind when you hear the word “diet”? For many, it’s a sense of dread or even disgust. Just like with any diet or lifestyle choice, Paleo has its critics. I’ve found that the most critical opinions tend to come from those who don’t really understand what Paleo is, and what it really is about. For us, it’s not a diet (and I hate associating it with the word “diet” because of the negative connotations that go along with that), and it’s not meant to be a restrictive lifestyle either. Paleo, for us, is changing our way of thinking about food, and our perspective about what food is and what we use it for. Since beginning the Paleo lifestyle, I have gone through a myriad of emotions, many that I witness our clients going through as they transition to eating healthier. It’s looking at food in appreciation, and an understanding of how it was made, what is in it, and how those things effect our bodies. Paleo is a lifestyle, not a diet. It’s not a temporary way to lose weight, or a restriction of all things fun. In fact, since going Paleo, I have had more fun than I ever have in shopping for food, creating food, and enjoying food with my family, without that insatiable need to depend on food for all social activities and emotional ups and downs. It’s been freeing in that I can focus more of my energy on experiences and relationships with people, rather than food. All that said, like anyone, I struggle at times, especially as our society is still not conducive to clean eating. Going out to eat can be challenging, as can other social events. But I have learned to navigate most situations in a way that is comfortable to me and my family, and allows me to still enjoy most things that I did before – and then some new things too! For me, once I figured out how to look at food differently, more positively, I became content with my nutrition, my lifestyle, and myself.

Negative Relationship Patterns with Food

So let’s take the word “diet” out of the equation, and even the word “Paleo” for a minute and focus on how to start shifting perspective from a negative to a positive relationship with food. Because in order to be successful in reaching any health and fitness goals, a positive relationship with food is necessary, and imperative. Here are some of the most common negative patterns with food (do any of these relate to you?):

  • Emotional/Stress Eating: whether feeling positive or negative emotions, eating based solely on emotion can have a negative impact on your physical and emotional health.
  • Ignoring Hunger Cues: an inability to tell when you are hungry, and when you are satiated. Ignoring your body’s signals can lead to weight fluctuation and unhealthy weight gain or loss.
  • Food Guilt: beating yourself up about an unhealthy food choice so much that you’re unable to enjoy the food, or the experience.
  • Skipping Meals: skipping meals is just a bad idea. It can be detrimental for your mood, your sleep, your metabolic functioning and your overall health.
  • Negative Nelly: when describing your eating routine you list all the things you cannot eat. When thinking about your health/nutrition plan, the only things you can focus on are the foods that you miss and that you have eliminated, and how that impacts other aspects of your life in a negative way.
  • Restriction: you restrict yourself from food so much that you miss the point of healthy eating – to fill your body with the nutrients it needs to be healthy mentally, emotionally, and physically – not to deprive yourself of all things happy!

Making a Positive Shift

If any of these things describe you, you may have some work to do before you can be successful with your health and nutrition journey. We’re striving for healthy body and healthy mind, and to do that we want to take some of the emotional stress out of your relationship with food. Here are some ways to make a positive shift in perspective when it comes to food, and how ultimately to develop a more positive relationship with food in order to be successful – and happy!

  1. Mindful Eating. This is listed first because I feel that it is the most important key to enjoying food, understanding food, and learning to eat and enjoy real, whole, organic foods. Eating mindfully can lead to better control over your weight by allowing you to tune into hunger cues. When eating mindfully, it also helps you to get more satisfaction from food, and enjoy the various flavors of real foods. Think about how you might eat a hamburger from a fast food restaurant or popcorn at a movie theatre – probably pretty fast and mindlessly, right? And you think it tastes so delicious because in those quick minutes of eating you are overwhelmed with the taste of salt and chemicals. Now imagine sitting down to eat a salad made with fresh, local organic vegetables and a bunless grassfed burger, eating slowly and tasting each subtle flavor, imagining the farm that these foods came from, healthy cows, and vegetables growing in the warm sun, and no added pesticides or chemicals. Try bringing more time and awareness to your next meal and notice the difference.
  2. Eat When You’re Hungry. It sound so simple, but we all struggle with this one. You come home from work and nosh on the first thing you see because you’re relieving stress. You have a fight with a friend or spouse and you down 6 brownies. You go to dinner with friends and you eat an inordinate amount of cheese dip, fries and maybe even some key lime pie. I’m not saying don’t eat when with friends. My point here is to bring more awareness to when you eat and why. And try to eat when you’re hungry, as much as possible. Emotional/stress eating leads to weight challenges, and negative emotional energy toward yourself and others.
  3. Imperfection. If you’re human, you will make mistakes, even when eating. And it’s ok! Just because you couldn’t resist that bread, or slice of cake, doesn’t mean your health plan is ruined, and it doesn’t make you a failure. Acknowledge your mistake, and how you want to do it differently next time, and let out go. Move forward. Be kind to yourself.
  4. Positive Penny. Let’s say goodbye to Negative Nelly – she drives me crazy. When someone asks you about your nutrition or lifestyle, start telling them about all of the amazing things you do and eat. For example, I had this amazing 6 layer paleo strawberry cake for my birthday this year! I discovered how to make the most delicious salad dressing I’ve ever eaten because of my paleo preferences, and I never feel bloated after a Thanksgiving meal! Also, I’m more active since going paleo, because all of my social engagements are no longer centered around food, but more around things like yoga classes, bowling, hiking and concerts!
  5. Enjoy the Experience. Whether cooking your own food or eating out with others, take time not just to eat mindfully, but to enjoy and be grateful for the experience of creating the food, sharing the food, and eating the food.
  6. Eat. Be okay with eating. Every meal, and multiple times a day. When you use the tools above you’ll soon realize that not only will you not gain weight or fat from eating multiple meals a day, you will actually feel better and your life and energy will improve.

Hopefully this will give you some food for thought. How have you found success and contentment when it comes to food and a healthy way of eating? What mistakes have you made, and how have you overcome your challenges?
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This website may, from time to time, endorse various products and/or services that we believe will benefit you in your quest for improving your life and health. It may be true that this website and its owner will receive compensation for these endorsements should you choose to purchase said products or services. In fact, in such cases, you should assume that we are an affiliate and will be compensated. Having said that, this website and its owner will only endorse products and/or services in which we strongly believe, or which we have used ourselves. By using this website, you hereby consent to the disclaimer and agree to all terms, policies, and conditions.