Do you have a LOVE AFFAIR with chocolate….did you wake up this Valentine’s Day morning with IT on your mind…knowing TODAY is your day to indulge? You are not alone…the world’s love affair with chocolate has grown over the years. Americans consume around 18 billion dollars worth of chocolate every year, with dark chocolate being the greatest trend due to its rich and intense alternative. This has certainly peeked the creativity of culinary artists experimenting with new ways to include dark chocolate in almost any form of food.
So the real question…..are there really benefits of dark chocolate…and what type and how much?
REJOICE dark chocolate lovers…the answer is YES! But only with awareness and mindfulness may you truly reap the health benefit. It is important to consider the source, type, and how it is made since dark chocolate can be high in unhealthy fat, sugar, pesticides, preservatives, and food coloring/dyes.
Fortunately...savoring small amounts of quality (preferably organic) dark chocolate (~1.5-2oz) that is minimally processed and contains 75-95% of cacao will deliver health benefits!
The Benefits of Dark Chocolate:
- Improve your MOOD: The high amount of polyphenols found in chocolate are phytochemicals shown to improve depression, anxiety, and other symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome. A recent study showed that performance on cognitive test significally improved in elderly individuals with mild cognitive impairment if they consumed a cacao drink continuing high levels of flavonols for 8 weeks, compared to those who consumed a drink low in flavonols. (Flavonols are a member of the polyphenol family found in natural plant food sources.)
- Acts like a probiotic in your GUT: Your healthy bacteria in your gut loves to eat chocolate too! Nutrients found in chocolate, such as the polyphenols, antioxidants, and fiber are not easily digestible. However, when good bacteria feeds on the fiber, compounds that are smaller, better absorbed, and non-inflammatory are released. This can impact the inflammation that occurs in cardiovascular tissue and why is is thought to help the heart.
- Can help your HEART health: The heart is really where it’s at when it comes to benefit. Research shows that the flavoinds in chocolate can help lower levels of bad LDL cholesterol. Flavonoids can also significantly decrease systolic blood pressure in healthy older adults. It may also help improve insulin resistance and endothelial dysfunction, both of which have a positive effect on the heart. A study published in JAMA found that those who ate chocolate twice a week who previously suffered a heart attack, compared to those who never ate chocolate, had a 66% lower risk of death from heart disease! (Remember folks…moderation! Chocolate alone won’t save your heart!)
- May stimulate your BRAIN to help you be more alert and attentive: Did you know that a good afternoon “pick me up” just may be the dark chocolate you are avoiding? A square or two of dark chocolate (remember, the darker the better) can have a significant stimulatory effect on the brain, which can make you more alert and attentive. Although researchers are not quite sure why, cocoa has this type of effect on the brain that researchers do know increases the occipital beta EEG readings, which corresponds directly with attention and alertness. (See below Cacao vs. Cocoa.) One of my favorite afternoon pick-me ups: Mix of raw almond, pumpkin seeds, goji berries, and cocoa nips!
So we know the ganache and fruit filled truffles and organic dark chocolate bars peppered with candies and sweetened dried fruit is not your ticket to good health! But instead a good quality dark chocolate will literally have an impact from head to toe.
(Check out the AMAZING truffle recipe below full of benefit this Valentine’s Day and beyond!)
CACAO VS. COCOA
What s the difference between cacao and cocoa?
In a nutshell, cacao is the purest form of chocolate we can consume (and the best). It s derived from the Theobroma Cacao, which translates to Food of the Gods. The cocoa bean is the basis of all chocolate and cocoa products, including cacao nibs. Every chocolate maker has a secret roasting formula of time and temperature to bring out a unique set of flavors from the bean. When the bean is cracked open and the papery husk is removed, the cacao nib comes into being.
Cacao contains more than 300 compounds, including protein, fat, carbohydrates, fiber, iron, zinc, copper, calcium and magnesium. Cacao is also high in sulfur, which helps form strong nails and hair.
Cocoa powder is basically finely ground cacao nibs, making them another minimally processed alternative to dark chocolate bars. You can sprinkle cocoa powder on foods, add it to smoothies, or use it to make hot chocolate or brain-healthy dark chocolate snacks and desserts. Avoid cocoa powder that is labeled Dutch chocolate or lists alkali in its ingredients. The alkalization process destroys cocoa s flavonoids antioxidant, anti-inflammatory compounds that provide many of cocoa s health benefits.
My 2 favorite brands for organic cacao nips and cocoa powder is Natives Naturals and Sunfoods Superfoods!
VALENTINE’S DAY TREAT (with Benefits)
Self-love starts with taking care of our body…even during the holiday season;). BUT make sure that food is still delicious and indulgent. I have been looking for an inspirational treat to share with you to keep you eating healthy, but loving every minute of it. Known as Canada’s Spice Queen, organic spice purveyor, and founder of Spice Sanctuary, Trusha Patel shared one amazing recipe (I am actually making it RIGHT NOW) and I wanted to share it with you!
High in protein from cashew butter and almond flour, sweetened with B6 and iron-rich blackstrap molasses (although I prefer using 100% maple syrup), covered in heart-healthy and antioxidant-rich dark chocolate and infused with a super balanced spice blend traditionally used to make golden milk or a turmeric latte, these Golden Milk Dark Chocolate Truffles will definitely do the trick.
Turmeric is always a key ingredient in making Golden Milk and revered for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and liver cleansing properties and definitely a spice we should all be consuming more of. (We sure do in my 10-Day Detox program!).However, turmeric does need to be used in a specific way for it to be properly absorbed and utilized by the body. Use with black pepper (but not if you have an ulcer or gastritis) and a good fat such as coconut oil. I love this recipe for Valentine’s Day since she has added both anti-inflammatory AND aphrodisiac spices into the recipe ….cardamom and ginger! …Oh my!
GOLDEN DARK CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES
(Recipe from Trusha Patel, founder of the Spice Sanctuary)
- 3/4 cup cashew butter
- 1/4 cup almond flour
- 2 tsp. blackstrap molasses (or substitute maple syrup)
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup (optional but makes the truffles sweeter)
- 2 teaspoons coconut oil, melted
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder*
- 1/4 teaspoon ginger powder*
- pinch of black pepper*
- OR 3/4 teaspoon Golden Milk Spice Blend from Spice Sanctuary*
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 40 grams good-quality organic dark chocolate, melted
1. To make the truffle filling, mix cashew butter, almond flour, and molasses in a bowl using a fork or electric whisk.
2. In another bowl, combine the coconut oil and spices and mix well before adding into the cashew butter mixture and folding it in thoroughly.
3. Take a small spoonful into your hand and roll the mixture into a round ball, approximately half an inch in diameter, and place on baking parchment on a tray. Repeat until all the mixture has been rolled. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
4. Melt the chocolate in a bowl. Using a spoon, dip the truffles into the melted chocolate before returning to the tray again. Repeat until all the truffles have been covered in chocolate. Refrigerate for another 30 minutes and serve.
The chocolates are best stored in the fridge in an airtight container and best eaten within a few days…which shouldn’t be a problem at all.
Happy Valentine’s Day & Heart Month!
Cheers to Indulgent Healthful Bliss,
ps. drop me a line and share YOUR favorite dark chocolate recipe or treat!
Are you still suffering from holiday or vacation remorse… with a little extra around the middle and lack of energy and motivation? Since the start of the New Year, I have heard from clients beating themselves up over overindulging in 2016. I am going to encourage you to look forward (not back!) and commit to making 2017 a year of good health and positivity. Give yourself grace and space to make healthful change possible. Consider setting aside the next week to get your digestive system (and health) back on track.
Start now to fast track your way to meeting YOUR wellness goals in 2017!
Consider initiating all or several of these steps over the next week.
- Begin the day with a large glass of water with lemon: Stock up on fresh lemons (or limes) and squeeze a generous amount into your 8-12oz. glass of water first thing when you wake. For ultimate digestion and bowel movement add to warm water. This will help stimulate your liver function and kick-start digestion. In addition, it provides a dose of vitamin C and refreshment.
- Banish added sugar, alcohol, red meat, fast food, and bread: These are known causes of inflammation and gut distress. Replace with whole unprocessed foods that you love and will love you back …choose foods that are not packaged and come from the Earth!
- Commit to cooking at home: Have you seriously thought about where your food comes from and who prepared it? Hidden calories, food additives, oxidized oils are often hiding in food prepared by restaurants, deli’s, and fast food. Eating at home gives you control over quality ingredients, calories, and portion sizes. Cooking can also be a relaxing activity that you can enjoy with your loved ones. (I once knew a CEO of a major hospital who took time to prepare meals with family…making time to cook has to be a priority for it to happen!)
- Take time for gratitude and meditation: Meditation is a gentle, effective way to cleanse your mind and body. Meditation can also help curb food cravings, put you in touch with how your body is feeling, and ground you in order to help develop new, healthier habits. Try meditating for 10 to 20 minutes each day. Need a fun and non-threatening introduction – try this app.
- Replace coffee with herbal tea: Give the coffee and caffeine a rest and try some herbal teas. Sipping on teas that contain ginger and dandelion have the added benefit of supporting your digestion while flushing out toxins. Two of my favorites from Traditional Medicines are the Ginger Aid and Roasted Dandelion.
- Do a mini fast overnight: Aim to finish dinner by 7 p.m….and eat breakfast around 7am; this will give you approximately 12 hours in between meals. This can function as a miniature fast. Intermittent fasting can give an overworked digestive system a rest and can cleanse the liver, boost immunity, and reduce inflammation.
- Move at least 3-4x/week: Exercise helps stimulate digestion and mental clarity. You don’t have to start your new year cardio plan just yet; even light yoga or a brisk walk around the block will help revive your digestive system.
- Set aside time for self-care: Carve out time for YOU – you are important. Take baths, read a novel, do restorative yoga, or treat yourself to a massage or acupuncture. Taking time to care for your body will help balance life and provide perspective.
- Consider digestive support: If you tend to have delayed gastric emptying (sluggish digestion) or low stomach acid, you may benefit from digestive enzymes or digestive support to help optimize breakdown and absorption of food.
What is holding you back from taking time to take care of your digestion and health? YOU are important. Don’t wait, commit TODAY to following these tips for 1 week to reset your digestion!
Optimal digestive function is essential to good health; as well as achieving and maintaining a healthy weight and energy level.
Cheers! Julie 🙂
These steps and so much more… are part of my 10-Day guided Detox program designed to optimize your body’s natural process of detoxification. This allows key organs such as your liver, kidneys, and gut to function at their best!
(ps. If you missed the program that just kicked off this month….I will be offering it again in the Spring – come join us!)
At the start of the New Year millions of Americans will turn their focus to weight loss. With that, often comes the commitment to eliminate certain foods from their diet. However, when it comes to good health, it isn’t always all about the food. Many other habits may be holding you back from achieving your goals…more than just that slice of chocolate cake! Here are several habits to consider eliminating in 2017 to have the healthiest year yet!
- Negative Self-Talk: Too often we “speak to ourselves” in ways we would never speak to our children, spouse, or anyone else. Women especially find it easy to extend grace to others, but very difficult to be kind to themselves. Your self-talk can deeply impact your emotional and physical health…not to mention your progress towards your goals. Positive self-talk is a conscious choice. You are ENOUGH, you are BEAUTIFUL, and you are CAPABLE! Start to mindfully give yourself more compliments, acknowledge your strengths, and when you find yourself turning toward negativity…re-route your thoughts to positivity!
- Foods You Hate: As a dietitian, I am passionate about my clients discovering foods they love to eat that will support their wellness goals. Too often I have people forcing down kale (or another “superfood” they think is the “best choice”) leaving them unhappy and unsatisfied. This often leads to overindulging in something less healthy later on. If you are not eating healthful foods that you enjoy, you likely will not meet your health goals. For a sustainable healthy diet, experiment with other foods to find out what you do love…. you will be healthier for it!
- Perfectionism: Striving to achieve a goal is awesome, striving for perfection is unhealthy. Giving yourself unrealistic or unattainable goals is detrimental to your mental and physical health. The desire for perfectionism can have many different causes. Often getting to the root cause (especially if it is impacting your life) can be essential to good health. A coach or a therapist can be valuable. Try to focus your energy on progress and appreciating the journey closer to your goal…vs. perfectionist.
- Calorie Counting: As a dietitian, I feel strongly about avoiding this all together! To often this creates a negative relationship with food. Research is clear that weight loss is not just calories in and calories out. It is important to look at food as fuel for the body, mind, and spirit to help equip you to do the things you love. It needs to be positive. There are other ways to monitor food intake to help you stay on track with your goals. One way is balancing the macronutrients in your diet – protein, fats, and carbohydrates.
- Mindlessness: Mindful eating and living for some individuals can be the “agent for change” they are looking for. Be mindful about when, how, and why you are eating. Bring your thoughts to the present so you can be more productive and focused. Plan meals and snacks in advance and avoiding distractions when eating. Set boundaries around your sleep schedule and time with family and friends. These are all ways to be more mindful and intentional that will help you be aware of your action and set you up for success.
- Stress That is Bringing You Down: Whether you have clinical anxiety or you have been stressing too much in 2016, this can compromise your overall health. Stress can be a strong contributor to weight gain, digestive problems, physical pain, skin issues, bloating, and more! Take time to consider what is driving your stress and consider self-care practices such as massage, acupuncture, diffusing essential oils…or team up with a good therapist.
- Your #1 Holding You Back: Most of us can identify key areas, if not our #1, holding us back from truly unleashing our full potential and achieving our goals. What is keeping you from being your best self and living life abundantly? Fear, anxiety, a job that drains your energy, an unhealthy relationship? Let it GO! Remove yourself from people who don’t support you or encourage you; consider making changes in your job or find a new one; let go of unnecessary obligations that keep you from focusing on your goals. Find resources and help if you feel helpless to make changes on your own so you can live your full potential!
I believe 2017 can be your YEAR TO SHINE!
Get out there and eliminate the things holding you back. Give yourself GRACE; be KIND to you and others; BELIEVE you can achieve your goals: expect set-backs; APPRECIATE the journey….and most of all DON’T GIVE UP!
Searching for guidance, support, motivation, and inspiration to achieve optimal health…I would love to hear from you!
Need a jump start…it’s not too late to join my 10-Day Guided Detox that kicks off on January 21st!
Let’s make 2017 Amazing! Julie
HAPPY NEW YEAR! As we get ready to kick off the new year with our goals and aspirations for 2017, I took some time to reflect on the past year. I like to look back as I determine my top areas to focus on moving ahead. I thought it would be fun to reflect on my top favorite ” foodie finds” from 2016 that I have fallen in love with and now can’t live without!
Check out my top 8….then leave a comment and share your “favorite food finds” that support your wellness goals.
ps…and if you give one of my top 8 a try…. come back and share your thoughts!
- I Love Beets: No more excuses of why you can’t indulge in all the benefits of beets! Toss in smoothies, slice on salads, eat as a snack….options are endless . Despite this little gem as my “go to”….I do still prefer getting my organic beets and roasting them…especially this time of year when they are local and in season! But let’s face it, sometimes life calls for a little convenience! (ps. if you saw my cake recipe in the last newsletter – these work great!)
- Braggs 24 Herbs & Spices Seasonings: I have tried so many spice blends but am often less than pleased with lack of flavor or versatility to use with a wide range of foods. This blend seems to be great on anything…sprinkled on salads, dips, added to dressings, mixed with roasted or steamed veggies, added to soups! Not only is this blend delicious, but adds a punch of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties to your meals… a win-win in my book!
- Clean Soups by Rebecca Katz: If you want to master delicious soups filled with amazing flavor and ingredients… this is the book for you! This goes beyond your basic soup cookbook and gives the true meaning of “food as medicine” in each and every recipe. Colleague and culinary guru, Rebecca Katz, is known for her amazing gift of of healing and health for those impacted by cancer. From broths and stocks, blended soups, to more hearty soups…each recipe is perfected to brilliance! (I include many of her recipes in my 10-Day ECF Detox – perfect for gut-healing and detoxifying!)
- Good Karma Flaxmilk with Vanilla: I admit… 12 years ago when I had to give up milk, it was hard. But when I switched to organic soy milk, it seemed to fit the bill for all my needs for years. However, due to my own health issues and concerns with soy… last year I said goodbye to my daily soy milk and switched to organic coconut and almond milk. The downside to the change is no protein, and I didn’t like either in my coffee. After trying almost everything, while refusing to go with sweetened creamers… I found cold-pressed flaxseed milk. It was the right creaminess with the extra protein and now a regular staple!
- Cardamom: It wasn’t until the past 2 years that I had been introduced to this amazing spice.Related to ginger (another favorite) it can be used to combat nausea, acidity, bloating, gas, heartburn, loss of appetite, constipation, and more. This spice helps the body eliminate waste through the kidneys, and why I will use this in my detox regimens. I would love to say I am uber creative with this spice, but mainly I toss it in teas, hot cereals, pancakes mixes, and have used as a rub for chicken! Check out more about benefits of cardamom! If you don’t have this spice in your cabinet…perhaps it’s time to jump on the bandwagon.
- Organic Red Lentil Rotini: Non-GMO, organic, gluten free, high in fiber (11 grams), high in protein (21 g), rich in minerals and essential vitamins, cholesterol free…..and cooks in 8-10 minutes! Besides the fact it is in a box (but is recyclable)….you can’t go wrong with this product when it comes to nutrition benefits. Taste is great and since it is so high in protein, it makes a super fast meal paired with veggies and your favorite sauce. Try homemade marinara or pesto… or my new favorite – Creamy Avocado Pasta!
- Avocado Oil: This has been the year of avocado for me. I can’t get enough… and almost panic if I am without…avocado in smoothies, avocado cream sauce, dressings, and now oil! I love using this in place of my EVOO when roasting veggies, making dressings, and sautéing at high heat when making stir fry (Check out my blog – are you hurting your health by choosing the wrong oil!) Be sure to look for cold-pressed and non-GMO.
- Truly’s All Natural Deodorant: OK, so I know this is not “food”. However, with only 4 ingredients (organic coconut oil, organic powdered sugar, baking soda, and beeswax) it practically qualifies. (grin). I had to share due to my enthusiasm. My 2 year search for an all-natural deodorant (that works!) in order to avoid the toxic aluminum and other ingredients has ended. Numerous bottles can be found in my drawers that failed to deliver anything close to my clinical strength deodorant. This was the BEST find of 2016 for me. Works perfectly and covers me in any and all sweaty and stressful circumstances. Truly’s is my new “true love” for my personal hygiene needs!
Do you want to achieve your wellness dreams in 2017… beat the bloat, lose the weight, regain control of your health, renew your vitality, discover the root cause of your health struggles? If so, give me a call. I would love to hear about your wellness dreams and help you discover abundant health in the New Year!
In the meantime, leave a comment about YOUR favorite 2016 FOODIE finds!
Wishing you a healthy and vibrant 2017! Julie
Here it is again – the importance of SLEEP! Around the holidays is often a time to skimp on sleep. But it is the MOST important time to be proactive and make sleep a sacred part of your wellness routine. The stressors of holidays can take a toll on our health without time to rest and recharge.
Before your head sinks into the pillow at bedtime, there are some very simple things you can do to prepare mind and body for a night of deeply restful sleep. The evening hours are a time when the busyness of your day should begin to wind down. It’s important to create a bedtime ritual that will help tame the thoughts that may still be racing through your mind and which can prevent you from falling or staying asleep throughout the night.
In addition to the lifestyle tips for better sleep that are described in my blog- Sleep – Essential to Mind-Body , try adding some of the following naturopathic and holistic approaches to your evening routine.
7 Strategies to Support Sleep
- Enjoy a warm bath including Epsom salts and/or lavender oil. Diffuse essential oils while bathing or in the bedroom. (Check out Natural Partners for discount on essential oils and diffusers)
- Consider adding a quality magnesium glycinate – this type of magnesium is well absorbed and particularly good for aiding in sleep since over 50-75% of us are deficient!
- Listen to the relaxing sounds of ocean waves, classical music, or chimes. There are specialized acoustic recordings that are orchestrated to affect specific brain wave patterns for relaxation or sleep.
- A guided recording of progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing exercises, restorative yoga poses, can help the body create the ‘relaxation response’.
- Herbs and other botanical or aromatherapy treatments are useful for calming down after a stressful day. Lavender used topically or diffused in your bedroom can be effective. Try a cup of chamomile tea. Additional teas and tinctures may be effective such as valerian, passionflower, or lemon balm.
- Try meditation, beginning with just 10 minutes a day. Meditation has numerous health benefits and recent studies show it can significantly affect quality of sleep. (Check out a user-friendly introduction with 10 minute/day – HeadSpace)
- Be sure to have your vitamin D and B-vitamin levels checked annually. Both can contribute to poor sleep due to underlying deficiencies!
Do not undermine the importance of sleep when it comes to your health. If you have difficulty concentrating, feel anxious during the day, can’t lose the extra 5 pounds, and have trouble managing stress…check in with the amount and quality of sleep you get each night.
If you are not getting 7-9 hours of sleep, it is time to make a change!
Remember, without adequate sleep….all the healthy lifestyle changes you make will have little impact on your health.
Make it a priority to rest and reboot for amazing health!
ps. Need some support to individualize an effective plan that is right for you? Contact me.… jump start your New Year with amazing health!
One of my favorite ways to concentrate on sleep and rest is through my 10 day Detox challenge!
The stress of modern life is enough to wear down even the healthiest of person. Top that with added holiday stressors…shopping, family activities, social gatherings, decorating, cooking, traveling ...and it can push your body beyond healthy limits. You may end up grumpy, tired, exhausted and unable to enjoy the holidays. Don’t let yourself cave into holiday stress…be proactive and be good to your adrenals.
Overload of stress or intense stress, such as a fight or emotional conflict with a loved one, trouble at work, or a physical injury, can take a toll on the adrenal glands. During a stressful situation, our brain sends distress signals to different parts of our brain and body. The phrase fight or flight sums up the response.
The adrenal glands respond by pumping epinephrine through the bloodstream. Our heart beats faster, more oxygen flows through the body and breathing becomes rapid. Our body is preparing us to fight the stressful situation or duck and take cover. This fight or flight response is vital when we encounter life-threatening circumstances. However, frequent and intense stress can overstimulate the adrenals. This may lead to them being ineffective at regulating the body’s hormone levels. This is known as “adrenal dysfunction” or “adrenal fatigue.”
The more stress we experience, the more cortisol is utilized to help us handle the pressure. Depending on the duration of the stress..this will impact if cortisol is deficient or elevated. As a result the effectiveness of hormone production will be affected, including estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, DHEA, etc.
This may lead to a variety of symptoms, including constant weariness, inability to cope with stress, recurrent infections, irritability, cravings for sweet foods, weight gain, and more. Adrenal fatigue is complex and symptoms should be discussed with your doctor and healthcare providers. Consider getting your hormones tested to determine if your cortisol levels are deficient or in excess. Other hormones may be monitored as well…and it is always good to look at your thyroid function. The treatment for adrenal fatigue requires a comprehensive and integrative approach.
Five Ways Help Support Your Adrenal Glands:
- Load-up on nutrients, especially Vitamin C. A healthy balanced diet of whole foods is an important part of maintaining adrenal health. Focus on fresh veggies, fruits, legumes, nuts/seeds, and choose local organic produce as able. Adequate lean protein is important as well as lots of healthy fats! Be sure to minimize added sugars and avoid artificial sweeteners. The adrenal glands rely on B and C vitamins, zinc, magnesium, and quality proteins for optimal health and function. Talk with your MD or dietitian about key supplements and herbs that also may help support you.
- Move it out! Daily movement is essential to maintaining adrenal health and reversing adrenal fatigue. Adding a strength training regimen, on a bi-weekly basis, will help your body to more appropriately respond to stressors throughout the day. Exercise also helps build up your body’s defense to stressors, making them easier to deal with internally. Depending on your level of adrenal health, you may need to slowly ease into an exercise program! Often high intensity exercise may not be the best choice. Consider yoga, walking, and getting out into nature!
- Keep stress at bay. Stress management is vital when it comes to restoring adrenal health, and often the most challenging for my clients. Try integrating some simple stress reduction techniques into your daily activities, such as deep breathing, yoga, meditation, or prayer. Find a technique that calms you and easily works into your daily schedule. Also consider counseling, therapy, acupuncture, massage, and other alternative techniques to help reduce stress.
- Relax. You deserve it and your body craves it (and needs it!). Try 10-15 minute bouts of meditation/breathing. If you sit for extended periods of time during the day, fill this time with soothing music and simple stretches that will loosen your body and realign your back. Surround yourself with tranquility and make your environment a positive and uplifting place.
- Make beauty sleep a priority. Sleep is perhaps one of the most important! This is because adrenal glands are constantly working throughout the day and need time to recharge in order to avoid exhaustion. Help regulate your body’s internal clock by sticking to a consistent bedtime. Choose a time that allows your body enough time to fully recharge, leaving you refreshed when you wake. Without sleep your body is unable to respond fully to the other healthful habits you may implement. So make quality sleep one of your top priorities! (for more tips check out my last blog)
Being mindful of your adrenal health will help you feel more grounded, balanced, and happier so you can enjoy the holiday season. Check in with your stress level daily and take steps to manage it. Keep your task list realistic, make healthy eating a priority, squeeze in time to take a walk or attend a yoga class…and you will breeze through this stressful time!
Keep calm so you can enjoy your family, friends, and festivities this season!
With you on the Journey to manage that holiday stress!
What does the word DETOX mean to you?
If you are thinking about starving yourself, eating only 4 foods, or drinking liquids for a week…that is not the way to healthful detox! Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions about the meaning and proper practice of detox. Even for me… years ago I thought it was a crazy practice to entice people to drink liquids and drop weight fast (absolutely the worse thing to do for your body!)
Proper methods of detoxing is not about depriving your body of food or nutrients! It is an opportunity to provide your body with the essential nutrients needed to support your body’s natural detox process to bring you into balance. It is a chance to introduce your palate to foods that will help your body balance and heal from the inside out!
Approaching a detox in a positive and healthy way can help you to re-establish a baseline and allow your cells and organs to function at their optimum potential. By introducing key foods and nutrients (eliminating others) while focusing on mindfulness, proper rest, movement, and environmental factors, your body will experience a well-balanced and effective detox.
Why is a detox a good idea?
- Detoxification is a normal but complex process where the body neutralizes and eliminates toxins through its major organs such as the liver, colon, kidney, lungs, lymphatic system, and skin — your body efficiently does this every day! But our self-cleansing system can get overloaded…even more so today than ever before…by unhealthy food, lifestyle habits, exposure to environmental toxins, and emotional stress. Sometimes it needs a break and a little support to function at its best!
- Many factors contribute to toxicity in the body….processed foods; alcohol; sugar; outdoor pollution and smog; harmful chemicals in the home and office, including kitchen and bathroom cleaners, detergents, etc. Some of us are more efficient than others in the detoxification process.
- We may have limited control over the environment that we are exposed to, but we have total control over the food we eat and the products we use on our body and in our homes.
- Even if your diet is good, a cleanse or detox can restore and boost your immune system…as well as protect against environmental toxins that pave the way for disease-bearing bacteria and viruses and increase risk of chronic disease.
A detox program may be right for you if you experience:
- Low energy, and fatigue
- Cravings for sugar, salt, and processed carbs
- Bloating, gas, and indigestion
- Skin problems like acne, rashes, or eczema
- Weight gain and difficulty losing weight
- Dry skin and hair
- Depression, moodiness, irritability
- Lack of concentration
- Weakened immunity
OR if you are ready to reset and refresh your system to experience greater health, vitality,and energy! (especially after overindulging during holidays!)
What are the benefits?
- Rest the organs and eliminate stored waste (you may even lose weight!)
- Improve vitality and energy levels
- Enhance and improve digestion and absorption of nutrients
- Clearer skin and complexion
- Greater productivity and calmer mind and spirit
- Enhance mental clarity
- Improve immune function
- Greater sense of well-being
- Lower risk of disease and illness
When is a good time for a detox?
It can be different for each person but change of seasons, around the new moon, or after a time of overindulging (the NEW YEAR is a perfect time).
Stay tuned for my upcoming online detox programs!
Thanksgiving is over…but I am still enjoying leftovers! How about you? The holiday eating season has begun…the time when most of us indulge in our favorite treats and have a busier social schedule. We are less than 5 weeks away from New Year…when a majority of Americans will gain weight and look back wondering if it was worth it?
Eating well is not about perfection, or giving up your favorite foods. A better approach involves honoring your body and knowing what works best for you and just as importantly… what doesn’t work. For example, if I go to a party and eat sugar-laden treats and cheese, I will definitely feel the after effects. Feeling sick, tired, and bloated is not how I want to feel the next day.
Mindful eating aims to reconnect you more deeply with the experience of eating and drinking. It is the process of deliberately paying attention to what is happening both within yourself and in your environment during mealtime and social events. Often this can help you to make better choices based on past experiences. When you eat mindfully, you are in tune with the aroma, taste, and texture of food and become more aware of your appetite. Mindful eating brings enjoyment (and control) back to eating. It helps sheds light on how food affects your body – positive or negative.
NOW is a perfect time to try a new approach and bring greater mindfulness into your planning and indulging this season! Try some of these strategies to keep you focused on your wellness goals. Just like anything else in life….preparation is the key.
8 Strategies to Slow Down and Stay on Track During the Holidays
- Remember your goals. It is a good idea to write down your wellness goals before you hit the holiday parties and festivities. If you want to feel great (and avoid the extra pounds), you will be less likely to over-indulge. Set an intention for how you would like to feel after each meal and hold yourself accountable by sharing with a friend or spouse. Sometimes treating yourself to your favorite sugary sweet and other pleasure food is exactly what the moment calls for…however, most of the time, you will feel better if you refrain!
- Pause & connect. After you give thanks for your meal, but before you pick up your fork, take a moment to connect with your appetite. How hungry do you feel? Of all the food on the table, what are you truly hungry for? What flavors will nourish you and replenish your energy? Fill your plate first with the nourishing foods your body needs most. Then, finish your plate with smaller amounts of those traditional holiday favorites.
- Clear digital distractions. At holiday time when family and friends gather from near and far, it is easy to forget to turn off the digital devices that are such a huge part of our lives. Sure, someone may complain about missing a key play in the big game (my house on Thanksgiving;)), but what is truly important? Everyone at your table should be in the moment for the main part of the meal…free of distraction and enjoying a precious time of fellowship.
- Relax…and engage the senses. Take five deep breaths before your meal. Take small bites and focus on chewing slowly… notice the smell, color, and flavor of your food. Consider the nutrients that the food will provide for you. Digestion begins with the act of chewing. Salivary enzymes break down food the moment it enters your mouth. Your taste buds awaken to flavors as you chew. Pause between bites to set your utensils down and breathe.
- Respond to pushers politely. Perhaps you know exactly what I mean. That friend or relative that asks you repeatedly why you are not indulging at a party or having dessert (or seconds!) Consider responding politely that you are there for the people and fellowship, not the food. Perhaps you have already eaten your dinner so you can focus on the people and have a good time. This limits the risk of offending anyone…especially the cook.
- Avoid or limit alcohol. Alcohol reduces your inhibitions and can therefore cause you to overindulge, making poor choices. Most types of alcohol are filled with sugar and empty calories. Instead, bring or ask for sparkling water with lemon or lime. If you do drink…stick to one drink and sip slow and make it last, then switch to water.
- Stay active and people-focused rather than entirely zeroing in on the food. Plan on an activity to look forward to after a meal like a walk on the beach, miniature golf, or visiting with other friends or family. Offering to clean up and help your host helps prevents overeating or reaching for dessert. Sit next to someone you find genuinely interesting and engage in conversation with them.
- Don’t beat yourself up. I see this all to often with my clients…they are laden with guilt over slipping back into old habits. Leave the guilt behind! Guilt is a toxic emotion that creates more harm than good. When things get out of control (which they do), simply make a change and begin to revert back to your healthy habits. If you indulge a little, be gentle with yourself and don’t judge or be critical. Ask yourself if you enjoyed the process. How did you react to the food that you ate? Pay attention and move on by making a U-turn back to the foods and activities that make you feel your best!
Wishing you a wonderful holiday season! Be sure to stay connected. I will be sending out exciting information about the New Years ECF Detox Program and discounts for 2017! If you want a sneak peak and are ready to kick off the New Year feeling your best then CLICK HERE for all the juicy details!
I am so excited for 2017 and all that is in store for YOU! Together let’s work to meet your wellness goals so you can accomplish all your dreams for the New Year! ~ Julie 🙂
Are you “pumpkin crazed” this time of year? I am. ‘Tis the season for EVERYTHING pumpkin!♥ Pumpkin truly has endless possibilities. I am known to keep pumpkin in my pantry and frig all year long. It is one of my favorite compliments to meals, baked goods, breakfast….and more. I want to share with you my favorite recipes and ways to use pumpkin…plus introduce you to some great recipe bloggers. (Yes, I do realize October is over but I am still going strong with my pumpkin addiction.) Now…before we dive into 10 things you can do with pumpkin….let’s talk about the history and benefits!
Pumpkin is woven into the fabric of history and cuisine. Native Americans roasted long strips of pumpkin over an open flame and ate them. Colonists made pumpkin pie by slicing off the pumpkin top, removing the seeds, filling the rind with milk, spices, and honey, and then baking the pumpkin over hot ashes. And the best…pumpkins transform into Jack-o-lanterns for Halloween and used for Thanksgiving decorating and decor!
Today, we appreciate pumpkin not just for culinary traditions, but also for its abundance of nutrients and versatility in healthy cooking, such as soufflés, soups, bread, jam, butter, and desserts. A member of the Cucurbitaceae family of vegetables (along with cucumber and squash), pumpkin is cultivated around the world for both its fleshy vibrant orange meat and seeds…and is low in calories yet filling and deeply satisfying!
Pumpkin is rich in fiber, antioxidants, minerals, and many antioxidant vitamins including A, C, and E. Excellent source of natural polyphenolic flavonoid compounds such as beta-carotenes, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Carotenes convert into vitamin A inside the body. Zeaxanthin is a natural antioxidant that may offer protection from age-related macular disease. In addition, pumpkin is a good source of the B-complex group of vitamins including niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin, and pantothenic acid. It is a rich source of copper, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus. What a powerhouse of benefit, right!?
Don’t forget the seeds…
Pumpkin seeds provide dietary fiber and pack a powerful mix of protein, minerals, and vitamins: 1/4 cup raw seeds = 135 calories, 7 g. protein- plus magnesium, folate, iron, niacin, selenium, and zinc.
Julie’s 10 Ways to Include Pumpkin
Here are my creative ways to use pumpkin! I would love to roast and make my own from scratch more often, but typically I use the organic boxed pumpkin and add a little stevia to sweeten for all my “pumpkin” needs.
- Smoothies: Add to your smoothie recipe as well as warm spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and pumpkin pie spice.
- Julie’s Fall Smoothie: 1 cup water, ice, 1/2 cup almond or coconut milk, vanilla protein powder, 1/4 cup pumpkin, 1/4 banana, 1 cup frozen or fresh spinach, 1 tbsp flaxseed, 1-2 tbsp toasted pumpkin seeds (or walnuts), dash of cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, cardamom, and vanilla (optional). Hello pumpkin pie “green” smoothie! (omit the spinach and it looks more like pie;))
- Topper to Cereals, Yogurt, or Ice-cream: Add to your oatmeal after cooking or mix in into yogurt or coconut ice-cream.
- Julie’s (non-diary) Yogurt Bliss: SoDelicous brand Unsweetened vanilla yogurt- add 1 Tbsp chia seeds and sprinkle of stevia (sit overnight to thicken since it is very thin and I like a thick yogurt). Blend 1 cup yogurt with 1/4 cup pumpkin. (For added protein – add 1/2 – 1 scoop protein powder to yogurt and mix well.)
- Soup: It is amazing how creamy and decadent you can make pumpkin with a little puree and splash of coconut milk. I love this simple pumpkin soup recipe by the Minimalist Baker. Give it a try (even go crazy and add the kale;)) You won’t be disappointed!
- Stuffed Pumpkin: This is one method of using pumpkin that I am dying to try. Check out these little stuffed pumpkins with amazing goodness from Half Baked Harvest.
- Chili: Who knew that adding pumpkin to chili could taste SO good! I tried this a couple years ago and loved how it added extra creaminess and richness. Here is a real treat and twist of a recipe.… with pumpkin beer;).
- Puree: Make your own (always best!) – here is great step by step instruction. Keep in a glass container in the fridge for all your pumpkin needs or just eat plain with a dash a cinnamon, sprinkle of stevia, and toasted pumpkin seeds on top!
- Muffins: Pumpkin muffins are fairly common and recipes abound. However, this little gem of a recipe is on my list to try….it blends the “seasons” with gingerbread – Fall meets Winter. Check out these Pumpkin Gingerbread Muffins!
- Pancakes and waffles: Pumpkin waffles, French toast, and pancakes…oh my! What could be easier than adding 1/2 cup of pumpkin to your batter to add amazing benefit and taste. Check out my favorite recipe that I have “tweaked” over the years. (Oh, and they freeze well, so make a BIG batch so you have leftovers!). Julie’s Glorious Pumpkin Pancakes
- Roast the Seeds: Here is a recipe that will give you perfection! Toss in salads, on top of soups or desserts, or eat for a snack!
- Pumpkin Seed Butter: Delicious and super easy. All you really need are pumpkin seeds and a food processor, but the addition of a few extra ingredients like maple syrup and cinnamon adds delicious flavor that is comforting and just perfect for Fall! Use raw and sprouted pumpkin seeds or roast them for an earthy Fall flavor.
- Combine 2 cups pumpkin seeds in a food processor for about 5 minutes (stopping to scape down the bowl), until smooth and spreadable. Optional add-ins: 1 tablespoon maple syrup or coconut oil; 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp sea salt. Process a few more seconds until everything is combined. Enjoy on toast, in oatmeal, or with bananas, dates, sweet potatoes, or whatever your heart desires!
With you on the Journey toward Abundant Living using Food as Medicine (that is absolutely delicious!)!
Leave a comment about your Favorite way to use Pumpkin this Season!
Welcome Fall! A perfect time to enter the season armed with healthy “flavorizers” (AKA: Dressings & Spreads) that tingle the tastebuds AND keep you healthy. If you missed my last blog on the benefits of fat…check it out. I challenge you to shake things up when planning your meals this season. Aim for a variety of different types of fat! Avoid eating the same type over and over (ie. olive oil and almonds)…which don’t provide all essential nutrients or the benefit of “balance”. Go crazy and try a new oil (walnut or avocado – my 2 favorites) or nut (pistachio or Brazil). Enjoy these recipes (or create your own) to include fat, flavor, variety, and benefit for good health!
5 “Flavorizers” to Flavor your Fall!
I would love to hear your thought and feedback. Give them a try then drop me a line!
Get inspired this Fall… 🙂 Julie
Spiced Coconut Spread
- 1 cup solidified unrefined coconut oil (be sure it is not soft or liquid!)
- 1/2 cup 100% maple syrup OR local raw honey, to taste
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon unrefined sea salt
*Note: Switch out spices you most enjoy – can sub cloves or allspice for others
Makes 1-3/4 cups to 1 pint.
Place all ingredients in your food processor. Process on high for about 1 minute. Don’t over blend, or the coconut oil will liquefy and separate from the honey or syrup. Once your spread looks thick and creamy, transfer to a pint-size jar for storage. Keep in refrigerator and soften as needed.
Use as you would butter! Delicious on toast, breads, sweet potatoes, and off the spoon!
Olive Cashew Spread
- 1 cup cashews, soaked
- 1/4 pitted kalamata olives
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 to 3 sprigs parsley
- 3 to 5 sprigs basil, or to taste
Makes ~1 cup.
Place nuts, olives, garlic in a food processor and combine until mixture appears crumbly. Add in olive oil and process until smooth or texture you prefer. You can add a mixture of water and olive oil if preferred. Add in herbs and whirl until combined. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Enjoy as an appetizer on crackers, veggies, or in wraps.
Cranberry Vinaigrette Dressing
- 1 shallot, peeled, cored and quartered
- ½ cup fresh cranberries
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup walnut oil
- 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon honey
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Makes: 3/4-1 cup.
Puree shallot, cranberries, olive oil, vinegar, walnut oil, thyme, honey, salt and pepper in a food processor or blender until as smooth as possible. Store in a jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Enjoy on salads, sandwiches, meats, and grains!
Basil Pistachio Nut Dressing
(From Rebecca Katz Longevity Kitchen)
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1/2 cup shelled pistachio (unsalted)
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon each salt & ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon (or more) water
- Extra squeeze lemon juice as needed
Makes ~ 1 cup
Place all in a blender and puree until smooth. Store in a jar in the refrigerator up to 1 week. Enjoy on salads, sandwiches, meats, and grains!
- 3 parts oil,one part vinegar
- 1 crushed small clove garlic
- 1 tsp mustard
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped herbs (tarragon, thyme, parsley, oregano, basil etc)
- Pinch salt & pepper.
- Tiny pinch of sugar or maple syrup
Combine in a bowl or jar. Mix, taste, and thin with water to desired consistency. Enjoy on your favorite salad or wrap.