4 Science-Based Reasons to Commit to a Gratitude Practice… all Season Long!

Gratitude.

This is something I talk about a lot and try to practice in my own life.  Gratitude helps me stay grounded while supporting my health goals.  Thanksgiving is the perfect time time to be reminded of this practice.  Gratitude IS indeed a practice, since it takes intention and mindfulness.

As you enjoy delicious food, family time, making memories, travel, and opportunities to “give back” … seek ways to embrace gratitude!   While most of us have good intentions for gratitude throughout the year, it is easy to slip out of focus. Surprisingly, only 20 percent of Americans rate gratitude as a positive, constructive emotion.  Expressing gratitude isn’t just a nice thing to do, is it one of the most basic things you can do to transform your life…and there is no better time to start!

4 Reasons to Practice Gratitude

Just in case you need some actual research and extra motivation after the Thanksgiving season, here are scientifically-proven benefits of practicing gratitude.

  1. Practicing gratitude will make you happier than money or “stuff.”  It is so easy to focus our attention on what we “don’t have” and strive “to get”. Concentrating our attention on what we actually “have” will impact our overall happiness more than pursuing  money or  material objects. For example, the act of using a gratitude journal each day for a month has been shown to have a 10 percent increase on subjective happiness. Believe it or not, that’s the same reported increase as doubling your income!  The Gratitude Journal by Catherine Price is one of my favorites used in  the JBS Detox Program.
  2. Practicing gratitude makes us stronger emotionally.  Not only does gratitude improve our self-esteem and lower our risk of depression, it also improves our resilience and ability to deal with trauma. Additionally, it reduces toxic emotions like envy, resentment, and regret!  Choose gratitude over negative emotions when they creep in… it can transform your day!
  3. Gratitude heightens our immune system (aka: our gut!)   It has been shown to support blood cells to fight disease and decreases stress hormones like cortisol by up to 23 percent. It also decreases blood pressure and heart rate variability. It is important not to underestimate emotions as a root cause that lead to impacting health.
  4. Practicing gratitude helps us sleep better.  Gratitude increases sleep quality, reduces the time required to fall asleep, and increases sleep duration. In one study of 65 subjects with a chronic pain condition, those who were assigned a daily gratitude journal to be completed at night reported half an hour more sleep than the control group. In another study of 400 healthy people, participants who had higher scores on a gratitude test reported significantly better sleep.  Consider adding this to your daily sleep routine.

The science is in, gratitude has a positive impact on our overall well-being.  As 2017 draws to a close consider reflecting an all that you are grateful for and make a list… but don’t keep it to yourself, share it with someone!

With THANKS for YOU!   

Julie

Julie’s 8 Favorite “Foodie Finds” in 2016

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!

  1. 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!) 
  2. 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!
  3. 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!) 
  4. 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! 
  5. 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.
  6. 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
  7. 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. 
  8. 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

7 Natural Therapies for Amazing Sleep

sleeprestrelaxHere 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

  1. 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)
  2. 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!
  3. 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.
  4. A guided recording of progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing exercises, restorative yoga poses, can help the body create the ‘relaxation response’.
  5. 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.
  6. 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
  7. 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!  

10dayecfdetox

Slow Down The Holiday Hunger with Mindfulness!

mindfulnessThanksgiving 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 

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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 🙂

Sleep – Essential for Mind-Body!

How has the time change affected you? Are you energized, tired, indifferent? Do shorter evenings inspire you to get into bed earlier for some extra zzzz’s?  Or do you find yourself struggling….failing to feel a sense of refreshment and vitality upon rising?

A growing area of health concern is lack of SLEEP – quality and quantity!  More than 20 years of research shows us that sleep is vitally important to physical and mental health. Yet, over 50% of clients I work with struggle in this area.  Without sleep, all other therapies related to nutrition and lifestyle have little effect. Sleep is often the most important area to address.

What happens to the mind and body when we don’t sleep enough, or at all?  Research, both animal and human, shows us that living without sleep for even a few months resulted in death. Sleeping fewer than 7 hours a night on a regular basis is associated with increased risk for diabetes, heart disease and stroke, depression, colds and flu, and obesity.

What Happens When We Sleep:

Sleep affects brain chemistry and has an important role in the functioning of the nervous, immune and endocrine systems. During sleep we develop and reinforce neural pathways involved in memory, learning, and emotion. New research suggests sleep helps flush toxins from the brain.

While we are sleeping, the body manufactures hormones that repair damage caused by stress and the environment in which we work and play. Growth hormones cleanse the liver, build muscle, break down fat, and help normalize blood sugar. We also produce hormones that help fight infections. If we aren’t getting sufficient sleep, we get sick more often and take longer to recover. Lack of sleep increases inflammation, which has been linked to heart disease and stroke. (Sleep is pretty important!!!)

Skimping on shut-eye is linked with obesity in adults and children. And lack of sleep even interferes with the levels of ghrelin and leptin, metabolic hormones that signal when you’re hungry and when you’re full.

How Much Do You Need:

The amount of sleep you need varies based on age, activity level, quality of sleep, and genetics. Infants typically require 14-15 hours of sleep per 24-hour period; young children about 12 hours; teens about 9 hours, and most adults 7-9 hours. A general rule of thumb for determining your sleep requirement: If you do not wake feeling refreshed, you may not be getting enough sleep.

Tips For A Good Night’s Sleep

  1. Keep the bed for sleep and sex only. If you don’t feel sleepy, leave the room and do something relaxing until you feel drowsy.  (See the blog on Natural Therapies for Amazing Sleep). Then, go back to bed.
  2. Set a sleep schedule. This includes a soothing pre-sleep routine, such as a warm bath, reading or gentle yoga. Go to bed and wake at the same time each day. This trains your body rhythms, making it easier to fall asleep. If you need a nap, get it in before 5:00 PM; limit to 20 minutes.
  3. Surround yourself with cave-like ambiance. A sleeping space should be quiet, dark, and cool (between 60-72°). If you do shift-work, use blackout shades or an eye mask.
  4. Remove electronic devices, computers and TVs from your room. Research shows that use of digital devices within an hour of bedtime has a negative effect on sleep quality.
  5. Let the light in early and exercise regularly. Natural light helps regulate hormones that promote ideal sleep-wake patterns. Open the curtains as early as possible and get outdoors during the day. Exercise during the day or early evening makes it easier to fall asleep and increases the amount of deep sleep obtained.
  6. Eat a light dinner 2-3 hours before sleep is ideal. A full stomach interferes with sleep as the body works at digestion. Steer clear of spicy or fatty foods that can cause heartburn. If you need a bedtime snack, combine a carbohydrate and protein, such as almond butter on an apple or organic Greek yogurt with pumpkin seeds.
  7.  Avoid products containing caffeine, sugar or nicotine as their effects can last several hours.

Are You Sleep Deprived?

You don’t have to pull “all-nighters” to become sleep deprived. A sleep debt of just 1-2 hours a few nights a week can affect your health and performance.To become fully well-rested and regain energy after a sleep debt, get an extra hour of sleep each night for one week. If you experience any of the following signs of sleep deprivation, talk to your healthcare provider about natural approaches to getting your sleep back on track.

  • Daytime drowsiness; fatigue
  • Poor memory; difficulty concentrating
  • Changes in appetite
  • Difficulty dealing with stress
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension; impaired vision
  • Increase in accidents or clumsiness

Is your sleep quality and quantity suffering?  If so, consider making sleep your top priority!  Feel like you have tried everything and still can’t sleep, consider talking with your doctor to help identify any underlying health condition. Many key nutrients are essential for sleep and many medication may impact getting adequate amounts.  This is why SLEEP is an essential area I address when working with clients!

Wishing you good health & good night sleep!  ~ Julie 🙂 ♥

ps. Are you ready to take your health to the next level?  Let’s connect to see how we can best work together to make your wellness dreams come true!

 

The Dirty Secret Behind Strawberries

Strawberry in the gardenAre you a strawberry lover?  If so, you are part of the vast number of Americans who enjoy one of the most popular, refreshing, and healthy natural treats on the planet!

All fruits shine with rich colors, signifying they are bursting with antioxidants that help fight disease and benefit your health!  Strawberries are no exception, plus they are rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals…which include folate, potassium, manganese, magnesium, and are one of the highest fruits in Vitamin C.  Is it any wonder they have won the title as one of the top 10 “super foods”!

Armed with this information, you may not be surprised that Americans consume about eight pounds of strawberries per year -nearly four times as much compared to 1980.  But what you may not know is that we are also consuming  dozens of pesticides, including chemicals that have been linked to cancer, neurological problems, and shown to disrupt our hormones and reproductive systems.  (Many of these chemicals have  been banned in Europe.)

Years ago I loved picking strawberries by the bushel each Summer…and the excitement and enjoyment that  came once a Season, and now they are available anytime.  Ever wonder what may have changed over the past decades to allow that to happen?  Sadly, an increase in chemically-aided growing methods and use of pesticides are largely to thank for making strawberries available year round.  Strawberry growers in particular, have been found to use jaw-dropping volumes of not only pesticides, but poisonous gases to sterilize their fields before planning, killing every pest, weed, and other living thing in the soil.

Here are a few Facts from the USDA’s 2014 testing of 176 batches of strawberries:

  1. Almost all samples – 98% – had detectable residues of at least one pesticide
  2. 40% had residues of 10 or more pesticides
  3. The dirtiest strawberry sample had residues of 17 different pesticides
  4. Strawberry growers used 60 different pesticides in various combinations

Want to know more and just how hazardous these chemicals are?  Read the full report from the Environmental Working Group.  

The report is short and a must-read to be informed.  EWG is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment.  EWG is unique in that it offers reliable factual information that is not skewed by the government or big food companies.

So How Do You Reduce YOUR Exposure to Pesticides? …Go ORGANIC!

Just last month the Environmental Working Group (EWG) released the 2016 edition of the EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.  For the first time, it elevated STRAWBERRIES to #1 on the top of the Dirty Dozen List!  (It took the lead after conventionally grown apples topped the list for the past 5 years.)

So, to help keep you up to date, and give you the facts so you can be the most informed consumer… here is your own copy of the 2016 EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce!    For more information on Pesticides in Produce see my past blog post. Remember… organic produce is also free of GMO!  If you read April’s newsletter, you may have hopped on the non-GMO bandwagon.

One of my favorite ways to “carry” my shopper’s guide with me, (to remember top fruit and veggies that are on the Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15 list) is by using the free app! Check it out and never leave home with out it!

Oh and by the way…

Please support our wonderful local farmers…many of which are certified organic or use less pesticides than other conventional growers.  Check it out – What’s In Season in Florida in May!

Drop me a line and let me know if you found this to be helpful. Do YOU plan to use EWG’s Shopper Guide?!

Let’s strive together for Food Safety and Optimal Wellness!

 ~Julie

 

Are you Hurting Your Health by Choosing the Wrong Oils?

My favorite oils“Oil is oil right?” Oh, this couldn’t be farther from the truth! (I cringed slightly as I heard this walking down the aisle of the grocery store.) Just like any other product we choose to consume (food, beverage, or supplement), we need to be mindful and informed shoppers to protect and optimize our health.

You may have seen the 60 Minute episode recently that showed olive oil imported from Italy really wasn’t olive oil at all. Yikes! And just the other day I picked up a jar of coconut oil and it listed palm oil on the back?  I must confess, up until several years ago, even I was deceived by the marketing! Not only that… but I realized how I was actually using them was HURTING my health. Not anymore, and why I chose to post a blog to help you!

I find that clients are finding it exceedingly challenging to navigate not only the supermarket aisle, but filter through consumer ads, friend’s recommendations, and “health expert” blogs. So I want to give you the most accurate information on how to make the best informed choice for your health. Here you will find pointers and some of my favorite brands to help you when selecting 2 popular and healthy oils – olive and coconut.

Quality is key… as well as understanding how it is Sourced and Processed.

OLIVE OIL

You can imagine how competitive selling olive oil can be due to its popularity and touted health benefits. In his book Extra Virginity, Tom Mueller takes us through the sublime, scandalous world of olive oil. He discusses how resellers add lower-priced, low-grade oils filled with artificial coloring to extra-virgin olive oil. In fact, one study demonstrated about 69% of olive oil imported and labeled “extra-virgin” failed to meet standards in an expert smell and taste test. Crazy! When it comes to olive oil (or really any oil), you have to do your research and pick the best ones. While most oils are refined, olive oil is one of the few oils we still consume mostly unprocessed.

Here are important considerations when choosing olive oil:

  • Always choose extra-virgin, which is the oil that is derived from the first pressing of the olives. This version of the oil contains many nutrients (such as polyphenols) that protect it from heat damage. One study compared the anti-inflammatory power of the oil from the first pressing of olives with that of later pressings. Researchers found extra-virgin olive oil lowered inflammation, while oil from later pressings did not.
  • Choose unfiltered. Unfiltered olive oil will appear to be cloudy because it contains naturally occurring elements like antioxidants which protect against oxidative damage.
  • Look for cold-pressed olive oil, which means manufacturers use very little heat when processing olives to get the oil.  Cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil provides the strongest possible nutrient value because of low-heat processing, along with the oil’s first pressing high phytonutrient content.
  • Be aware of misleading claims by big food companies who throw around terms like “pure olive oil.” These somewhat misleading phrases often signify a mix of unrefined and refined virgin olive oils.
  • Avoid extra-light olive oil. Companies love slapping this “light” term on foods because it appeals to those consumers looking for “low fat”. These terms subtly suggest all fats are bad and make you fat, absolutely not the case! Low-fat or “light” foods are often highly refined and processed. (Oh, we have come a long way since the “fat-free” days of the ’80’s…thankfully our culture and consumers are beginning to demand more wholesome foods, free of preservatives, additives, and dyes!)

Other tips to get the best out of your olive oil…

  • Storage is important because heat and other factors can trigger oxidation and other problems. Always store olive oil in a dark, cool place. Keep it sealed tight and out of direct sunlight or away from other heat sources like near the stove. (boy did I get this one wrong years ago when I stored it smack up against my oven; and then often waited to put the cap on after I was cleaning up after my meal!)
  • Use olive oil within one to two months once you open it for optimal health benefits. (Hint: that may mean purchasing a smaller bottle!) Research shows quality and health benefits decline after two months, even among properly stored olive oils.

COCONUT OIL

Coconut oil has hit the market and boomed in sales over the past several years touting its health benefits…in particular for its medium-chain-triglycerides, a beneficial fat that may boost metabolism and convert to energy quickly in your body, and also help with overall gut health!

  • Just like olive oil, always select coconut oil that is organic, virgin, cold-pressed and unrefined.
  • Avoid products that are deodorized or bleached.
  • Coconut oil is one of the most versatile oils because it’s very stable. You can bake with it and use it when cooking meat, veggies and sauces over medium-high heat. You can put it into your smoothies, hot beverages, or stir into hot cereals.

6 Strategies for Buying Oils

The next time you purchase olive oil, coconut oil, or any other type of oil, consider these six strategies. (Oh and remember…use a wide variety of healthy oils (listed below). Each offer benefits so don’t just stick to one type of oil, explore!)

  1. Always choose organic, unrefined, cold-pressed, or expeller pressed. These terms ensure you’re purchasing a quality, highly nutritious and sustainable product. Organic production prohibits genetically modified ingredients (GMOs) and the use of toxic solvents (such as hexanes) for extraction in oils.  If possible, check out the company directly. Ensure the product is truly cold-pressed and lives up to its claims and standards, and that the manufacturer does not use toxic solvents in the refining process. Check out websites and don’t hesitate to email or call them with any concerns.
  2. Choose oils in dark, not clear bottles. The dark color helps protect the oil from direct sunlight exposure, which can cause it to go rancid.
  3. Store the oil in a cool, dark place away from heat and light exposure such as cabinets or the fridge in airtight containers.  Never store oils on sunny kitchen counters or next to the stove.
  4. Always tightly close the lid after using. Oxygen can make oil go rancid quickly.
  5. Purchase the correct size and consume in the time recommended. Remember oils tend to go bad after a span of a few months or years depending on the type of oil. Those mega-store gargantuan containers, are not such a great buy if you don’t use the oil.
  6. Choose the right oil for the job. Because different oils have different smoke points, it’s important to choose the right oil for the task at hand. Here are the temperatures at which some of the more popular oils reach their smoke points (lowest to highest):
    • Sunflower oil, unrefined: 225 F
    • Red Palm oil: 302 F
    • Walnut oil, unrefined: 320 F
    • Coconut oil unrefined: 350 F
    • Extra-virgin olive oil: 375 F
    • Macadamia oil: 413 F
    • Almond oil: 420 F
    • Grape seed oil: 420 F
    • Hazelnut oil: 430 F
    • Avocado oil: 520 F

My top picks for Olive and Coconut Oil:

Since I often have clients ask me “what do you use”…here you go:)!  I am not necessarily promoting these specific products, these are just one’s I have come to use and love.  (Be sure to check out the link above where the olive oil expert Tom Mueller provides an extensive list of his picks for the best quality and best-priced brands.) 

Olive oil: In the past I have used California Olive Ranch ; and most recently Melina International Trading Company (Jessica’s Farmers Market and Specialty markets).

Coconut oil: I like Nutiva because it’s cold-pressed, virgin, organic, never refined and ethically sourced. Nutiva also carries a red palm oil I have yet to try.

Hopefully armed with these strategies you will feel empowered and confident to make sure you are purchasing and using high quality oils good for your health!

Leave a comment and share some of your favorite picks of oils you use and love!

With you on the Journey Toward Optimal Health & Abundant Living,

Julie 

“Spring Green Cleaning” for Good Health!

Mix of green vegetables and fruits on rustic backgroundSPRING is in the air!  If you missed this month’s Newsletter,  it was packed full of tips on “Spring Cleaning” for the body, mind and spirit.  As we begin to clean our homes (inside & out), we should also do the same for our body.  It is the perfect time to transition from more “winter” foods to those that help the body detox from those indulgent moments over the Winter of festive food delights (grin). Cleansing is a gentle and effective way to bring the energy of renewal into our own lives. “Spring cleaning” is more than just detoxifying the body, it can also mean avoiding toxins our environment and thoughts as well!

You may have heard critics argue that the human body is designed with just the right physiological processes necessary to clear the body of impurities and maintain health. Yes, that was likely true 20+ years ago. Unfortunately, for many people, lifestyle habits and the environments where we live, work, eat, and play often expose us to toxins that our bodies don’t efficiently eliminate. (Let’s face it, times have changed. We are exposed to more things that can impact our body than ever before – changing times often mean shifting our approach and focus to achieve optimal wellness!)

The toxins you can be exposed to everyday include:

  • heavy metals in the food and water supply
  • environmental pollution, including pesticides
  • electronic devices
  • chemical food additives
  • smoking; overuse of alcohol or OTC drugs
  • use/overuse of Rx medication
  • prolonged high stress
  • poor quality diet, sleep, and lifestyle habits
  • frequent colds or chronic illness

Below are some gentle and safe ways to bring the energy of “spring cleaning” into your life,

from the inside out…

  1. Rest the digestive system by eliminating solid food for a short time.  This is the time to consider homemade vegetable juices, broths, or carefully planned protein shakes to provide the extra nutrients that help your body eliminate toxins.  Leafy green veggies are particularly cleansing, especially those that are bitter such as dandelion, Endive, parsley, beet, kale, Swiss chard, spinach, bok choy, and arugula.  The advantage of making “greens” juices and shakes at home is that you have control over making sure it includes the highest quality ingredients.  After cleansing re-introduce a balanced healthy eating plan. Here is one of my favorite GREEN protein shake I have been drinking lately.
    • Combine 11/2 cups filtered water with 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk + 1/4 cup ice
    • Add the following
      • 1 scoop of pea protein powder (I like SunWarrior Plus or Designs by Health Pea Protein)
      • 1 1/2  cup local spinach, Swiss chard, or kale
      • 1/3 cup frozen blueberries or strawberries
      • 1/2 Tbsp. maca root powder
      • 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed or chia seed
      • 1 Tbsp. raw pumpkin seeds
      • 1/3 avocado
    • Blend in Nutribullet, Ninja, or Blender! 
  2. ‘Water’ your body and entice it with herbal tea. Drinking water and tea are a perfect way to cleanse and hydrate the system.  Make sure you are drinking clean, filtered water.  Try adding a squeeze of fresh lemon to your water to stimulate the liver each morning.  Different herbal teas have different cleaning properties.  Some great examples are dandelion, burdock, ginger, licorice root, mint, fennel, and cardamom. I enjoy using fresh loose organic tea (vs. tea bag), however when I do use a tea bag one of my favorite brands is Traditional Medicinals.  Ginger tea with cardamom is my “go to” for good digestion and to curb cravings for sweets in the afternoon!  
  3. Reset your sleep time routine.  Research is clear, we cannot underestimate the benefits of a good nights sleep.  Not just a couple times a week but every night!  It is important to commit to a regular bedtime and wake time to help your body’s circadian rhythm. Not to mention, that critical quality 7-8 hours we all need to function at our best and avoid the side effects of a poor sleep pattern such as cravings for sweets, weight gain, lack of focus, fatigue, brain fog…(need I go on!).  Do you really think skimping on sleep is helping you get more done? If you do nothing else for your health this Spring…DO commit to a routine sleep patter! (oh, and think you “need an app for that”? Check this out as one option)
  4. Go ‘Green and Clean’ in Your Home. Often a major area of toxic exposure is in our homes. Household cleaners, laundry products, lawn care chemicals, and bug sprays expose us to numerous chemicals and petroleum based toxins than ever before.  (Especially if you are clean-freak like me. This was an area I had to really “clean up” a year ago). Even cosmetics, perfumes, shampoos, face washes, deodorants, and toothpastes have chemicals that can disrupt our health. (For some more than others). Health food stores offer environmentally-friendly, all-natural products. Personally, I love using high-grade essential oils to make all my own cleaners, weed killer, and even bug spray (It really works and is less expensive!)
  5. Manage Your Stress & Breathe.  Think back over your day today.  Did you take any deep cleansing breaths? (If you were like me about 8 years ago…I honestly couldn’t think of a good time I actually breathed!) Just taking the time to breathe has been shown to enhance both physical, mental, and spiritual well-being; and help to overcome stress, boost energy, focus your mind, improve sleep, and foster greater peace.  Stress itself can wreak havoc on problems such as IBS, bloating, heartburn, headaches, and more.  Furthermore, it can contribute to chronic inflammation.
    • Take time to breathe deep each day.  One of my favorite breathing exercises is called “flapping your wings”! (I can’t remember where I learned this!).  Here is how it is done:
      • Sit up straight and relaxed in your chair. Close your eyes,  take a deep breath and let your shoulders relax, and hang your arms at your sides.  Close your mouth gently and bring your tongue to the roof of your mouth.  (When I do this, I visualize shutting out the world).  Through your nose, breathe in deeply for 4-6 counts as you slowly raise your arms to your sides and up to the sky.  Next very slowly lower your arms as you breathe out through your mouth for 4-6 counts.  Repeat this 3-4 times.  Do you feel refreshed?!  
    • Looking for a book to help you breathe and manage stress?  Check out The Healing Power of the Breath by Richard Brown

Following a detox program suited to your personal needs supports the body’s natural cleansing process and boosts your health in many ways:

  • Allows digestive organs to rest
  • Stimulates the liver to process toxins more efficiently
  • Promotes movement of bowels
  • Improves circulation
  • Restores vital nutrients and energy to the body
  • Provides clarity of thought and refreshment to the soul

What is YOUR Plan this Spring to have a gentle “Spring Cleaning”?  You maybe looking for a comprehensive plan or intend to focus on one of the areas listed above.  I would love to learn about your plans and support and guide you along your journey.

Cheers to an AMAZING SPRING ahead!

Julie

My 6 “Rules” to Live By in the Kitchen

 Flavor, health, memories, perceptions, desires, and traditions are all things we associate with FOOD, which influences our choices and approach to eating!  When I help people embrace food as a positive and exciting aspect to their journey toward abundant health, it is important to stay away from hard set “rules and restrictions”.  Instead, I like to take an individual and collaborative approach using structure and strategies that will work best for each person.

We are all unique and different!  That is what makes YOU so special, and why the same approach will not work for every person.  That being said…there are some basic tenets you may want to consider while planning, preparing, and eating your meals that will promote good health.  I strive to incorporate these myself, and I hope you find them helpful too!

  1. Love the Food You Choose to Eat:  It honestly hurts my heart when people tell me they have been eating bland food they don’t enjoy for years, and they feel guilty for eating pleasurable food.  Food is meant to be pleasurable, enjoyable and satisfying!  I love hearing clients say “I love the food I am eating AND I feel amazing and happy”.   One of the selling features when I bought my home was the kitchen. On the wall painted in deep red it reads, “Approach love and cooking with equal abandon”.  Spend some extra time to put “love” into preparing a meal that you can’t wait to enjoy. It will empower you to eat well (and happy) for life!
  2. Know Where Your Food Comes From:  It is more important than ever to mindfully select safe foods (uncontaminated) while also being aware of the environment, quality of the food, and nutrient density.  (Think about it… WHERE did those chicken nuggets actually come from and WHAT is in them (see #3)…? (grin)). Here in Florida, we are blessed to have so many local farmers (many organic)  to support! This helps not only our environment and carbon footprint but also offers more nutrient-dense produce vs. food shipped all the way across the country which often doesn’t land on our plate for days or weeks.  Know where your food comes from, so YOU can make an informed choice…and make a commitment purchase more local!
  3. If You Can’t Pronounce It, Don’t Eat It: Yes, this sounds pretty basic but super important.  Check out the next flavored drink or even that “healthy” protein powder or coconut milk you choose to drink. You may be surprised to see words that are not coming from Mother Nature!  Even I get surprised at some of the ingredients in food I have purchased, despite my desire to eat as close to nature as possible! So, check your labels…ingredients can change without you realizing.   (Remember these 6 to avoid)
  4. Step Back and Ask – Is This Food Harming or Helping? This was a big lesson for me based on how some foods impacted my health.  Most of us know what foods help us feel our best and ones that don’t.  I finally came to a place in my life years ago. when I decided it just wasn’t worth it anymore when I had a reaction, felt lousy, or sluggish. So you may ask yourself prior to eating, is this helping me feel my best, keeping me balanced, and moving me towards my health goal”?  Now, we must remember that this would apply about 90% of the time.  Don’t underestimate the value of sharing the occasional pint of good ice cream with your “besties”.  So just like rule #2 and 3, it is important to be mindful, but not so strict that you can’t be REAL!
  5. Make it Last – I don’t know about you, but I don’t cook every night.  I plan meals around my recipes lasting us for several days, whether it is a dish to be eaten as left overs or reused in a way to create another dish.  For many (myself included), this is the only way to be healthy and have a balanced life.  Let’s face it, when we are cooking every night (unless cooking is your true passion), it is easy to get burned out and just grab “take out”! Check out one of my favorite meals that I can eat all week long…
  6. Sit Down (and Up) to Eat – Too often we don’t stop to enjoy (or acknowledge) our meals or even those around us.  In our Western world we eat while we move, multi-task, slouch on the coach, or drive in our cars. This can impact our digestion, weight, happiness, gratitude, mindfulness, and relationships! Sitting at a table (upright) with others, allows us to better digest our food by slowing down our eating and lives!  One constant attribute to all cultures of centenarians is the importance of socializing and joy, particularly around meal times.  We cannot overlook the health value of stopping our busy lives and sitting down to enjoy a meal with others. Priceless!

Leave a comment and let me know what “rules” you follow in the kitchen to set  YOU up for success.  

I would love to hear from you.

Oh, and just a “little insider”… next month I would like to help you with your Spring cleaning.  Yes!  Spring is coming and with it a good time to clean up your kitchen and focus on your wellness dreams.  So I am feeling really grateful and have decided to offer a little “gift” to those who are part of the JBS Community.

So… if YOU have not subscribed to my Newsletter and to receive regular updates…now would be the perfect time to Sign Up!

(Only those who are on my LIST will receive the Spring treat!)

Happy cooking and meal planning!… Julie

The TOXIC FREE Weed Killer That WORKS!

ToxicfreeweedkillerAre you busy in your yard improving that “curbside appeal”?  Did you know you may be exposing yourself to possible cancer causing chemicals?!  

Until just last year…I WAS!  Most weekends you will find me in my yard lovingly trying to help it look its BEST…and that includes killing WEEDS.  And of course my solution to all my weed woes… Roundup®!  It WORKED and delivered every time.  WOW – was I in the dark as to the potential harm.  

The World Health Organization just this year classified glyphosate, an active ingredient in “Roundup®,  as “probably carcinogenic to humans” .  The World Health Organization’s research arm, the International Agency for Cancer Research (IARC), made its updated cancer determination for glyphosate following a review of the available scientific research by 17 of the world’s top oncology experts from 11 countries.

SO, I very reluctantly said goodbye to Roundup®, and have been in search of a chemical-free solution.  My search for an alternative that actually WORKED had been in vain, until a friend of mine introduced me to a crazy “recipe” that I swore would never work.  (THANK YOU KATHY!) After a month of trying to pull weeds by hand (sheer misery) I finally gave it a whirl…  and all I can tell you IT REALLY WORKS!    Here is the Recipe for an all-natural Herbicide.

Mix the Following into a Sprayer (see picture – I got mine for $19 at Home Depot):

  • 1 gallon vinegar
  • 2 cups of Epsom salt
  • 1/4 cup Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds (found at Whole Foods, Richards, Earth Origins) 

Mix well and spray on weeds. It honestly works as well as the Roundup!

Apparently it works because the vinegar is a mild acid, and with the Epson salts and soap it forms a scum that coats the weeds.

(note: when you are done, make sure you rinse and clean the sprayer well before your next application…the Epson salts can potentially clog the sprayer) 

You may think I am “over the top”  but did you know…

  • Approximately 85,000 synthetic chemicals are registered today in the US
  • It is estimated that 1000 or more NEW chemicals are made each year.  and complete toxicological screening data is available for only 7% of these chemicals!
  • 94% of these chemicals have not even been tested for their effects on human health. (references to these stats available upon request!)

NOW more than ever, there is good reason to take “pause” as to the many chemicals and toxins we may be exposing ourselves to on a regular basis.  (For MORE on this – check out one of my earlier blogs)

So be good to YOURSELF, the Environment, Pets, & Neighbors and try this DIY Herbicide!

 I would LOVE to hear about YOUR Experience!  So Leave a Comment….

Oh, and be sure to SHARE with friends, family, and co-workers.  

Let’s take a stand for keeping ourselves and our world HEALTHY!

~ Julie