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4:44 pm

Could You Go a Year Without Alcohol?

Dry 2017? Are you crazy?!!

Two years ago I was sitting in an auditorium in New York City with a thousand other health coaches. One of our speakers that day was Dr. Daniel Amen, renowned brain specialist. He shared a story of an average, middle-aged woman who was a moderate drinker. She was gaining weight, had brain fog and wasn’t feeling her best. He conducted a brain spect (a scan of the brain showing blood flow). Her scan showed areas of improper blood flow – meaning there were parts of her brain not receiving much blood!  Her scan looked like her brain had holes, divots, and pockets of emptiness. This truly scared me as he went on to explain how he’s seeing dementia and Alzheimer's years before symptoms arise. Since the latter appears to run in my family, I decided to do something about it. I stopped drinking in 2016.

I was never a heavy drinker or even a nightly glass-of-wine drinker. I’ve been a mom for the last eleven years and haven’t really found the time or inclination to drink much.  But, I did have my fair share in my twenties and thirties. I probably drank too much in college and my early twenties.  In recent times, I would go out and have a few drinks and have the worst hangovers the next day. My liver wasn’t really processing it all very well, so it made sense to stop. Plus, after working hard to put my autoimmune disease into remission, why undo all of that hard work.

So, in 2016, (starting with New Year’s Eve of 2015) I made the decision to severely limit my alcohol consumption. Since I had already stopped drinking beer a couple of years ago due to a gluten allergy, I was halfway there. I was down to just an occasional glass of wine and a fancy cocktail if I went out.

I made it all the way to Mother’s Day and had a Bellini with brunch (but didn’t finish it). Then, I had a few sips of a few drinks on a cruise to the Bahamas this summer (it was all-inclusive) and one cocktail over the holidays.  That’s it. I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything, nor did I feel socially awkward.

I made the empowering decision and realization that “I don’t need to drink!” When I was under stress or had a “bad” day, I nourished myself with a bath or herbal tea or cuddled on the couch in my jammies with some ridiculous television show. Why give my body something that is demoting to my health when what I really need is something nutrient-dense and beneficial to my health? And apparently, I’m being trendy as more and more folks are skipping the booze.  There’s more websites, restaurants, and bars catering to those who don’t drink anymore with delicious mocktails.

mocktail pic_copy
My friend and fellow Health Coach, Caitlin Padgett, wrote a book called Drink Less, Be More. Check it out.

So, what positive things happened to me without alcohol?


I didn’t need to buy any pain-relievers this year!

I maintained my weight.

I felt clear-headed.

I saved a bunch of money.

I slept great!

I was always there for my kids! (No more Saturday morning hangovers!)

Could you do the same? If you saw a scan of your brain would you make adjustments to your life to halt disease?  Using alcohol to “unwind” or relax from a stressful day is a learned behavior. As a society, we turn to alcohol due to career stress, social stress, financial stress and stress in relationships. This only offers temporary relief and escape. We are numbing ourselves with alcohol and drugs to give us that dopamine spike – the one that makes us feel invincible. This offers a short-term solution and never fixes the problem. I’m not saying you should cut it out completely, but consider your brain, your liver, and your waistline the next time you reach for a drink.

I encourage you to dig deeper for relief. Connect with friends over herbal tea. Enjoy a fancy meal without a bottle of wine and save some dough and your health.

12:10 pm

How a Desk Job Can Ruin Your Health & What You Can Do About It

If you were asked to list the top 10 dangerous occupations, an office job probably wouldn’t be one of them. In fact, the thought of writing “desk job” on your list might be enough to make you laugh out loud. However, sitting too much can cause a variety of uncomfortable and even dangerous health concerns that rival the most feared diseases. Surprised? Here are the top ways a desk job can ruin your health and what you can do about it.

 

Obesity

When you spend all day sitting behind a desk, your metabolism slows down and your body burns far fewer calories than it would if you exercised regularly. Weight gain is often the unfortunate result of consuming more calories than your sedentary lifestyle allows you to burn off. If left unchecked, minor weight gain can eventually lead to obesity while increasing your chance of developing metabolic syndrome.

 

High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure has been linked with sitting for long periods of time. When high blood pressure is left uncontrolled and untreated, it can potentially damage your heart in a variety of ways, including coronary artery disease, stroke and heart failure.

 

High Blood Sugar

According to a 2008 study printed in the Official Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine, people who spend more time watching TV or sitting behind desks tend to have higher glucose and blood pressure levels. People who sit all day tend to also have a higher chance of developing type 2 diabetes.

 

How You Can Fight the Odds

You don’t have to become a statistic just because you have a desk job. In fact, fighting off obesity, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar is easier than you may think. The solution seems to be simply moving more throughout the day and sitting less.

What Can I Do?

Need a few ideas to get you out of your office chair? Try standing at your desk rather than sitting. You might also want to try an active surface board that allows you to stand at your desk while subtly balancing your weight and strengthening your muscles. You can also take a quick lap around the office after eating lunch or schedule a 10-15 minute break after every 50 minutes of work. Even the smallest changes can have a big impact on how you feel.


10:08 am

7 Foods to Add to a Healthy Kitchen in 2017

 

If you’re looking to improve your health, increase your energy and fight off pesky illnesses, look no further than these seven foods. Every whole foods kitchen needs to be stocked with certain essentials that can elevate our health and these superfoods do just that. I make sure I’m always stocked with number 1 and 3 throughout the winter months to keep the sniffles away.

  1. Fermented Foods – These are foods like unpasteurized sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, raw yogurt, kombucha, miso and tempeh. They are naturally rich in probiotics and feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut. Fermented foods also help to improve digestion and make it easier for us to absorb the nutrients from the foods we eat.

 fermented veggies

Try this: Add a handful of fresh-from-the-farm green beans to a mason jar, fill with a clove of garlic, fresh or dried dill and a few peppercorns. Add 2 tbsp sea salt and fill with water.  Add the lid, gently tighten. Leave on your counter for a few days until you see bubbles, then place in the fridge. Voila! Homemade Fermented Veggies!

 

  1. Coconut & Its Products – I love all things coconut and it’s a great whole food to add to your recipes, especially if you’re trying to avoid dairy. You can drink coconut milk and electrolyte-rich coconut water, add shredded coconut or coconut flour to your baking and snack recipes, and the king of all things coconut is the oil. Coconut oil is great for high heat cooking and sautéing vegetables and meats. Coconut oil is primarily saturated (over 90%), with the bulk of it coming from lauric acid, a medium-chain saturated fatty acid, which has antimicrobial properties.

Try this: Make this delicious Fat-Burning Chocolate Smoothie with coconut oil.

chocolate smoothie


  1. Bone Broth – This superfood is becoming quite trendy and rightfully so. It’s made by simmering animal bones and connective tissue. It’s rich in vitamins and minerals and key amino acids, such as glycine and proline, which are needed to make collagen. Potential health benefits include joint and bone health, along with some claims of reducing inflammation.1

Try this: Save money and make your own broth or stock from leftover bones.

 chicken broth (800x600)

  1. Ghee (Clarified Butter) – Ghee is made from butter that has been slow-cooked to remove the water and milk solids, making it a great high-heat cooking fat for those sensitive to dairy. It contains Vitamins A, D, E and K2, along with butyric acid and other short-chain saturated fats that may reduce inflammation, promote gut health and inhibit cancer growth.2

Try this: Sauté your favorite vegetable or protein in a tablespoon of ghee. My favorite is kale or collard greens, with some pan-seared salmon.

 

  1. Mushrooms – Mushrooms are rich in antioxidants and all of the B vitamins, selenium and copper. They are powerful immune modulators and possess anti-cancer properties.3 Load up on all different kinds like Portobello, Reishi, Lion’s Mane, Shiitake, and Maitake.

 

  1. Raw Cacao – My personal favorite superfood is Cacao – or pure raw, unheated chocolate from the cacao pod. It’s full of antioxidants, fiber, magnesium, iron, copper, and manganese. It can also reduce insulin resistance, which is another common risk factor for many diseases like heart disease and diabetes.4

 

Try this: I like blending raw cacao in my smoothies and teas and using it in snack items, like these Cherry Chocolate Bites.

 cherry chocolate bites

  1. Sea Vegetables – I know what you’re thinking, but stick with me here. There are so many different ones to choose from like arame, dulse, nori, kelp, chlorella and wakame. These edible sea veggies are full of iodine, which can promote healthy thyroid function, along with fiber and health-promoting plant compounds.5 Nori is typically used in sushi rolls, arame is great in a salad, and chlorella is typically ground as a powder and used in smoothies or as a supplement.

 

Try this: Toss some fresh wakame with a little rice wine vinegar, sesame seeds and sesame oil for a delicious salad.

How many of these foods are in your kitchen right now? Share your favorite uses in the comments!

Cindy Santa Ana is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and Culinary Nutrition Expert. Her book, Unprocessed Living, shares how to read confusing food labels and how to transition away from processed foods. She helps to inspire her clients to reach their ideal weight and increase their energy while juggling their career and personal life. Find her at www.UnlockBetterHealth.com, @unlockhealthnow and Unlock Better Health on Facebook.

References:

  1. Zhong, Z. "L-Glycine: A Novel Anti-inflammatory, Immunomodulatory, and Cytoprotective Agent." Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care.S. National Library of Medicine, 06 Mar. 2003. Web. 08 Dec. 2016.
  2. German, J. Bruce, and Cora J. Dillard. "J Bruce German." Saturated Fats: What Dietary Intake? Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 01 Sept. 2004. Web. 08 Dec. 2016.
  3. Hassan, MA. "Mushroom Lectins: Specificity, Structure and Bioactivity Relevant to Human Disease." International Journal of Molecular Sciences.S. National Library of Medicine, 8 Apr. 2015. Web. 08 Dec. 2016.
  4. Davide, Grassi. "Insulin Sensitivity Increased in Glucose-Intolerant." The Journal of Nutrition. American Society for Nutrition, 7 Sept. 2008. Web. 8 Dec. 2016.
  5. Kapil, Umesh. "Health Consequences of Iodine Deficiency." NCBI. National Institute for Health, 7 Dec. 2007. Web. 8 Dec. 2016.

 


10:18 am

THE Best Gluten-Free Banana Bread - like EVER!

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

banana bread

My new gluten-free Chocolate Chip Banana Walnut Bread is so moist and delicious – no one will ever know it’s gluten- and dairy-free. Enjoy it warm from the oven and you’ll make friends fast.

Better yet, package a loaf up and share as a neighborly gift.

Don’t be intimated by the unusual flours. These are my go-to flours for making delicious gluten-free baked goods.  Sorghum flour lends a sweeter taste and is perfect for banana and zucchini breads.
I made mine with a little bit of Homemade Nutella - a sinful treat!

banana bread 2_copy


Ingredients:

1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about three medium-sized bananas)
2 large pastured eggs, beaten
1/4 cup organic coconut oil, melted
1 cup coconut palm sugar (for even lower sugar, use ¾ cup, it won’t be as sweet, but still good)
1 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1 tablespoon brown rice flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Celtic or Himalayan sea salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup mini chocolate chip, like Enjoy Life brand (optional, but tasty)
1/2 cup walnut pieces (omit if nut-free)

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a 9-inch loaf pan with a piece of unbleached parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mash the bananas with a fork. Then, beat the mashed bananas with the eggs, oil and coconut sugar till combined. Add the sorghum flour, tapioca starch, brown rice flour, baking powder, xanthan gum, baking soda, salt, vanilla and cinnamon and beat until a smooth batter forms. Stir in the walnut pieces and chocolate chips by hand. (Use can simply use a fork or hand mixer to combine the ingredients)

Scoop the batter into the loaf pan and spread evenly. Bake on the center rack for 55 minutes, until the center is done (a wooden toothpick should come out clean). Ovens vary, so check the loaf at 50-60 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack.

This banana bread stays moist overnight if tightly wrapped- but I doubt it will last longer than a day or two if your family has anything to say about it!

Makes one 9-inch loaf


Credit: Cindy Santa Ana, Unlock Better Health

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12:04 pm

Your Guide to a Healthy Thanksgiving Dinner

Did you know that a typical American Thanksgiving meal is an average of 4,500 calories and a whopping 229 grams of fat?!!! Whaaaaatt????
That's way too much for your body to handle in one sitting or even one day for that matter. Don't ruin your healthy eating or get off track this year. Try some of these quick, healthy, yet super delicious side dishes. Some of these are vegan and some are raw to suit all dietary needs in your family. They're all full of fiber, anti-oxidants and vitamins to nourish every cell in your body.
Start by choosing a pastured turkey from a local farm. Those close to me in Northern VA are blessed to have plenty of options here. I love Whiffletree Farm's birds and this is my fifth year buying a pastured turkey (that means they're raised outdoors on green pasture and eat bugs and grass - their natural diet). These turkeys are juicier, leaner and even cook faster than a conventional, store-bought turkey. Yes, they do cost more, but it's totally worth it  - YOU are worth it.
Make sure you pick off all the meat and save those bones for making stock later on too! (For those not local, visit www.eatwild.com to find a farm near you.)

One Tip: Be ready for faster cook times. Pasture-raised turkeys will cook faster than factory-farmed birds. Figure on 12-15 minutes per pound, uncovered, at 325 degrees as you plan your dinner. That said, oven temperatures and individual birds will always vary. Use an internal meat thermometer to know for sure when the bird is cooked. They’re done when the breast reaches 165° F.

I usually stuff the body with an onion cut in half, a few pieces of celery and sometimes a lemon. Rub olive oil and salt & pepper on the outside. 

Healthy Side Dishes
These are quick and healthy side dishes your whole family will love! Start with fresh, whole ingredients and locally grown is always best.


Quinoa Squash Un-Stuffing

quinoa squash unstuffing
Ingredients:

1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tbsp light olive oil or ghee
1/3 cup chopped shallots
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/4 cups (6 oz)  diced butternut squash, 1/2-inch dice
1/2 cup fresh cranberries
2 tbsp pure maple syrup (or honey)
1 cup baby spinach or kale
3 sage leaves, chopped (or 1/4 tsp dried)
2 tbsp chopped pecans or walnuts
1/4 tsp crushed black pepper
Directions:

1.     Place 2 cups of water and 1 cup of quinoa in a medium saucepan on high heat. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn down to low and simmer with a lid on for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork when done. Set aside.

2.     Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add olive oil or ghee.  Add shallots and garlic and sauté over medium-low heat for 4-5 minutes, or until golden. Add butternut squash, cranberries, maple syrup and 1 tablespoon water and cover; cook on low for 10 minutes.

3.     Remove lid and add kale or spinach, salt, sage, and pepper, cover and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Mix in pecans or walnuts.

4.     Add this mixture to the cooked quinoa and stir to combine.

 I did a demo of this recipe on WUSA-TV, Great Day Washington. Watch it here.

me on WUSA
Lemony Brussels Sprout Salad

raw Brussels sprouts
1 lb Brussels sprouts
2 Tbsp mayo
1 Lemon, zested
2-3 Tbsp of fresh lemon juice
Salt & Pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
Chopped pecans, dried cranberries (optional)

Trim ends of 1 lb. of raw Brussels sprouts. Cut in half lengthwise. Place in a food processor and shred. Combine 2 T mayo, grated zest of 1 lemon, 1 clove garlic, minced, 1/2 tsp salt and pepper, ¼ cup olive oil and 3 Tbsp lemon juice. Whisk together dressing and pour over raw sprouts.  Can be made up to 4-5 hours in advance. Keep in fridge. You can also add chopped pecans or walnuts or dried cranberries.
This is really good - probably my favorite creation this year! So fresh and lemony!

Massaged Kale Salad

kale salad
Serves 6 as a side

1 head organic kale, de-stemmed (any type will do)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 handful sunflower sprouts
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (omit for Nut-Free option)
2 Tbsp olives
Options: Feta Cheese, Dried Cranberries

Instructions:

1. Slice kale leaves into thin strips, transfer to a large mixing bowl, drizzle with the

lemon juice and olive oil, and sprinkle on the salt. Gently massage them for 3 to 5

minutes, until they start softening and the color gets dark and beautiful. Set aside.

2. Add in the sprouts, walnuts, and olives, and toss with more olive oil and lemon juice.


Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Red Onions

sweet potato thanksgiving
(Serves 4-6 servings)

Ingredients:
2 large orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, cut in 1 inch cubes
2 small red onions, cut into pieces just larger than 1 inch
2 T olive oil (or slightly more, enough to coat all the veggies with oil)
½ tsp sea salt and black pepper
Zest of 1 orange
Juice of 1 orange
Dash of cinnamon, ground ginger

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 450° F.  

Peel sweet potatoes and cut into cubes about 1 inch square.  Peel red onions and cut into pieces slightly over 1 inch square.  Put sweet potatoes and onions into a bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil (or slightly more if you need it to get all the veggies coated with olive oil.)  Add orange zest and juice to coat the sweet potatoes. Sprinkle spices over the veggie mixture and toss until all the vegetables are coated with the seasonings.


Spread the vegetables out on the baking sheet (use two baking sheets if they're even slightly crowded.)  Roast about 20 minutes, then flip them over with a turner.  


Roast 10-20 minutes more, or until the sweet potatoes and onions are both nicely browned and sweet potatoes are soft.  (They don't get very crisp, but there should be some browning on the edges.)  Total roasting time will be 40-50 minutes, depending on the size of the sweet potatoes, your pan, and the oven.

Happy, Healthy Eating!
Cindy
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6:17 pm

How to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

We have now entered the “danger zone” between Halloween and New Year’s Eve. The time in which we indulge, we sloth, we get stressed, we forget about ourselves and put our health on the back burner until January 1 and make silly resolutions that we never keep. Sound familiar? I was on this very same cycle for years when the holidays would roll around. I would sneak extra pieces of Halloween candy when no one was looking, put heaping portions of turkey and 12 sides on my plate and then shovel holiday cookies into my mouth like it was my job! Then, I’d slink on the scale come January 2 and go into shock that I had gained anywhere from 5-10 pounds over the holidays! Well, thankfully that nasty cycle ended six years ago when I started working with a Health Coach, enrolled in nutrition school and made some serious changes to my diet, my lifestyle and my outlook on life.  Now, 50 pounds lighter and much healthier to boot, I find myself finding new ways to spend the holidays with new recipes, new traditions and a brand new approach to life.  It is possible to avoid the holiday weight gain, you just have to set a few routines in motion and stick to them!

Focus on Managing Stress first. You can say no to those extras that pop up around the holidays. There’s no reason you have to do it all. Delegate.  Set aside 10 minutes a day just for you and your favorite activity.  Read a juicy gossip mag or get a pedicure or shop online for a pretty new dress or listen to your favorite music. Whatever makes you happy needs to be on your agenda. Try this breathing technique when you get stressed: Inhale for 4 counts, hold for 7 counts and exhale for 8 counts. Do this 3 times. Deep belly breaths get oxygen into all the cells of your body and promote relaxation. Stress causes cortisol levels to rise and this cuts through your body like razor blades if it happens repeatedly. Caffeine can exacerbate the problem as well. It spikes cortisol, dehydrates you and causes sleep problems. Try cutting back on your morning java to just one cup a day, but do it slowly. Removing caffeine too fast can cause headaches.

Next up – nix the sugar! Take one day out of the week and write down everything that you eat and drink. Then, tally up the grams of sugar you consume. My Fitness Pal is a free app that can tell you how much sugar is in a particular food or beverage. If you go over 25 grams a day, you’re adding stress, inflammation, the potential for weight gain and even disease down the road. Sugar demotes our health in so many ways and if you can cut back now, your health will greatly improve. Start by tossing the leftover Halloween candy – just throw it away. Don’t take it to work and add it to the bowl on the counter in the break room. Next, review your holiday menus. Where can you cut back? Do you usually have 2-3 pies or a pie and a cake or couple dozen cookies? Cut down to one and try serving sautéed apples or pears as a dessert.

Now, get moving! There’s no reason to wait until January to start an exercise program or weight loss journey. I have clients who have lost weight over the holidays and have done so myself too! It’s getting cold outside, so find a fun video or exercise you like doing. I bought a second-hand stationary bike from a neighbor and that’s how a get my cardio in. I also have a mini-rebounder in my home gym which is fun to jog on. But my personal favorite is using kettlebells to work out with. Find your favorite and get moving!
Lastly, after you have focused on self-care for you, work on giving for others. The act of giving and random acts of kindness promotes feelings of well-being and elation. When you're down, helping others and giving your time to them actually makes you feel better (no anti-depressant needed!).
The holidays can be a really tough time for some, especially those who have lost loved ones. Open your heart and home to someone and give the gift of kindness.
Peace and love,
Cindy


3:15 pm

Two Pumpkin Recipes & A Giveaway

You know what I love about fall? Pumpkin patches, apple picking, the amazing fall foliage and crisp, cooler weather. Northern Virginia becomes quite beautiful along the Shenandoah Valley.  We're blessed to have amazing local farms and festivals celebrating all things FALL!


So, I thought I would share a couple of my favorite fall recipes incorporating pumpkin. I'm not one of those crazy people that put pumpkin in every fall dish, but I do love a proper recipe with pure pumpkin and the ones I'm sharing here do that!

Plus, I'm giving away an amazing cookbook from my friends at Paleo Parents Real Everything...so read through to the end!


This is from Unprocessed Living, my book, available on Amazon.

warm winter smoothie
Pumpkin Rooibos Tea

2-3 Yogi Chai Rooibos tea bags, steeped in 12-16 oz. of very hot water for 5 min
2 tbsp. fresh, pure pumpkin
½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
Heavy dashes of cinnamon
Pinch sea salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
10 drops liquid Stevia, or to taste (raw honey is ok to use)
1/2 cup almond or coconut milk


Steep the tea first, then blend all ingredients in a blender, serve immediately while warm and frothy. Serves 2.

This next recipe is from my friends at Paleo Parents. Stacy and Matt run a fun ship over there and have cranked out several cookbooks over the years touting the paleo lifestyle. They are re-branding and becoming Real Everything to share well, everything that is real about them, their family, their food and lifestyle. I can get behind that!  They're also giving away a copy of Real Life Paleo and sharing this delicious recipe with us! Boom!

Pumpkin Pudding from Real Life Paleo

Ingredients

2 cups coconut milk (full- fat, canned or homemade), room temperature
1 cup pumpkin puree, room temperature
1/2 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon gelatin powder
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ginger powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

For serving (optional):
Slightly Sweet & Salty Snack Mix, chopped nuts of choice, or Whipped Coconut Cream

Instructions

In a blender or food processor, pulse the coconut milk and pumpkin puree until combined.
In a small bowl, pour the boiling water over the gelatin powder and stir with a fork until the gelatin powder has completely dissolved. Do not let the gelatin cool.
Add the gelatin mixture to the coconut milk and pumpkin puree. Turn on the blender or food processor and add the remaining pudding ingredients.
When the mixture is thoroughly combined, pour into 6 small bowls and let the pudding set in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
To prevent a stiff skin from forming, press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pudding before chilling. Store chilled for up to several days.
Serve cold topped with Slightly Sweet & Salty Snack Mix, chopped nuts, or whipped coconut cream, if desired.

Pumpkin-Pudding
Now the fun part! I'm giving away a copy of Real Life Paleo, which is 432 pages of awesome gluten-free, dairy-free recipes - 175 of them!
Just leave a comment below on why you need this book - or leave a comment on my Facebook page - it's that simple! I'll pick a winner on Friday, Oct. 7, 2016.


Real-Life-Paleo

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8:55 am

How one Teacher is Changing Behavior with Food

Can you Change a Child's Behavior with Food?

 

One of my good friends is a Special Education Teacher at Douglas Elementary in Trenton, SC. This is a rural elementary school of 258 students and 25% of those are special needs students. Susie O’Neal supports students with multiple disabilities ranging from Other Health Impaired, Vision, Specific Learning Disabilities, Autism, Asperger's Syndrome, and Behavior Disorders in grades K-5. She created a new program, The Breakfast Club, aimed at empowering these children and hopefully improving their behavior at school.

Here’s her story:

Why did you create the Breakfast Club?

I started the Breakfast Club because I was concerned about some of my students with behavior goals. They just didn’t seem to have a structured environment where they could learn to solve social problems and increase social skills. I also started the Club because the free breakfast provided in the school cafeteria was so high in sugar and artificial colors, that I knew that something had to be changed. Research shows that breakfast has been suggested to positively affect learning in children in terms of behavior, cognitive, and school performance, so I thought I would give it a go.

What are you making or bringing to cook/eat?

The group was given an interest inventory of organic/gluten free/ whole food selections and they came up with a weekly menu that was within my budget. They are eating organic buckwheat waffles with agave syrup, corn tortilla egg and turkey sausage burritos, and organic apples and bananas with peanut butter, green smoothies, and chia seed pudding.

The children are involved and take part in setting the table, playing conversation games and problem-solving.

susie bfast club

What response have you gotten from the kids? Do they enjoy the food and the activities?

I started with four special needs students all with different disabilities from Other Health Impaired, Behavior Disorder, ADHD/Learning Disabled and Autism. My group is now eight deep and two come because they feel better and like to eat healthy instead of the processed food provided in the cafeteria. All the students are on my IEP caseload. Breakfast Club is a big hit!

Who is paying for the food?

The Breakfast Club is presently funded out of my own pocket with help from my Special Education Director. I recently applied to receive a Donors Choose grant which you can read about it here.

What kind of results have you seen in their behavior since starting this program?

After one week of the Breakfast Club, I have noticed a decrease in classroom behavior problems. The students are talking more about eating healthy and even point out unhealthy snacks they see others eating. I have one of my students turning in his candy rewards from other teachers for tangibles instead. I will be doing a more intensive behavior analysis at the end of the first 9 weeks. So far I like the results I have seen.

susie bfast club kids

 What prompted this idea?

I got this idea from my Health Coach and friend, Cindy Santa Ana. In her book, Unprocessed Living: 3 Easy Steps to Transition into Healthy Eating, I learned about the effects of sugar on the body. I then applied what I learned as a behavior analyst in training to my special needs students in the classroom. I believe some of their behavior to be a result of poor eating habits. I want to help my students get their family members on board. I want to teach them how to ditch the sugar habit and how to eat healthy in social settings, at school, and at home. My desire is to help these children eat healthy foods and maybe improve their behavior in the classroom.

My Thoughts:

I am so inspired by Mrs. O’Neal’s creative program. I know this will leave an impact on these children for years to come. I am so proud of her for taking my passion for healthy eating and sharing it with these amazing children.

 

Please consider donating to Mrs. Susan O’Neal, Douglas Elementary, Trenton, SC. The Breakfast Club.Share this article with other teachers and program administrators in your area. Maybe we can spread the ripple effect!

 

Susie O'Neal has a Masters of Arts in Teaching Special Education from the College of Charleston. She services students with multiple disabilities ranging from Other Health Impaired, Vision, Specific Learning Disabilities, Autism, Asperger's syndrome, and Behavior Disorders in grades K-5. She has been teaching for 17 years. She is presently seeking to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst using the Applied Behavior Analysis program at Clemson University.

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10:27 pm

My client resolved her RA. Hear her story of taking back her health…

Talisha came to me last December with a recent diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis – an autoimmune disease of the joints that can be crippling and very painful.

She signed up for a 3-month Health Coaching program and we began working on some dietary protocols right away. There’s been a lot of research surrounding the AIP or Autoimmune Protocol Diet in helping to resolve those with autoimmune diseases like RA, MS, Hashimoto’s and more. So, we decided together that this would be the way to go. She wanted a more holistic approach, than the side-effect inducing prescriptions she was taking.

 

Three months later, Talisha’s symptoms are mostly gone and she is resolved of the disease. I say resolved, because she is not “healed” or “cured,” because if she were to return to eating the foods that are inflammatory to her body, the pain could return.

 

Here’s Talisha’s story in her words:

 

My initial symptoms began the first week of July 2015. The first moment I knew something was wrong was when I grabbed a bowl to feed my dog and I dropped it--couldn't grab or hold onto it correctly. I immediately had pain in my right hand, specifically my first and second finger and my thumb--my knuckles were slightly swollen. Over the next few days my right hand became worse--more swollen and stiff, especially in the morning hours. My initial thought was that I must have been bitten by a spider or something is wrong neurologically with me, but in the back of my mind I thought RA--since it ran in my family. On day 10, I went to the doctors and explained my symptoms and gave my family history. I have a Great, Great Aunt (age unknown), Aunt with RA (late 30s) and my brother (age 44) who was just diagnosed with RA 6 months ago. My doctor said, " it is a coincidence that your brother was diagnosed with RA 6 months ago, don't worry about it, I think you have a virus. Come back in 4 weeks if symptoms worsen." She took several panels of blood work--all of which came back normal.

 

One week later and all the joints in my right hand swelled and I could not open and close my fingers in the morning. Another week passed and all the symptoms moved to my left hand. After two weeks from leaving the doctor office, it took me two hours to open my hands in the morning. I went back to see her. She said, "I still think you have a virus. I requested (nearly begged) to see an RA specialist for a second opinion. After anxiously waiting for the appointment for the RA specialist, I finally saw her and she said, "I think you have a virus."  I went home and searched for hours for the BEST Rheumatologist in the area. I found a specialist (Best RA Doctor in Northern VA) 15 minutes from my house and booked an appointment 3 days later. I had to pay $300 out of pocket--he is not in network. He said, "I can't diagnose you because you need to have symptoms for 6 weeks, come back in two more weeks." When I asked for his impression of my symptoms he said, "I think you are a 39-year-old female with Rheumatoid Arthritis." Two weeks later, I returned to him and was given the official diagnosis. I sent a note to the original RA specialist (within in my insurance company) who saw me and asked for a second opinion in her department. I got an appointment that week and within 10 minutes of meeting this doctor she also gave me the RA diagnosis.   

 

Over the next 4 weeks, the disease spread to my wrists, toes, feet, ankles, knees, elbows, eyes--I could barely walk in the morning. It aggressively spread everywhere. The stiffness in the morning was 3 hours long--I couldn't do ANYTHING for 3 hours every morning. I barely slept. My husband had to open doorknobs for me (I couldn't turn them), use the scissors for me, cut my food, walk the dog (couldn't grasp onto the dogs leash--couldn't even put on his collar), unbuckle/buckle my jeans, open/close ziplock baggies, open/close jars--literally he became my shadow. My employees had to help me write my notes, use the eraser for me, carry my things everywhere I needed to go, and work with my clients. My running days were also gone.

 

The doctor put me on medication and I initially became better, but then worse.  I decided after a few months of pain, nausea and hair loss, that I wanted to take a more holistic approach. The doctors gave me a few months to try this. I stopped taking the medications in December.

 

Pain levels: 0-10

July pain levels were: 5-7; August-September with medication (Plaquenil & Prednisone) were: 3-5; October-first two weeks of December-taking Methotrexate (a chemotherapy drug) were: 7-10.

Began AIP diet late December-April (current) are: 0-2, with a few days having a 3 (rainy days). 

 

Side effects to medication (4 months of meds): significant hair loss (it falls out in clumps), vomiting, nausea, brain fog, dizzy, and depression.

 

After three months of AIP diet: I am living a normal life again. I don't need ANY assistance with daily activities. I am running again with my dog. While I still have some levels of pain and swelling, I can identify quickly which foods trigger the disease. My inflammatory markers from my blood test are normal now, even better than when I first went to the doctor!

 

My thoughts…

Talisha’s story is not a fluke. Thousands of people are resolving themselves of debilitating diseases with dietary protocols that remove specific inflammatory foods. In her instance, we removed gluten, dairy, soy, nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, hot peppers, among others), alcohol, sugar, eggs and some nuts and seeds. Her diet consisted of nutrient-dense, local grass-fed meats, leafy greens, vegetables and limited fruits. Eventually, she did add back in some of those foods, but not most. I really have to credit her for doing all of the work and being super vigilant with her diet. This is not an easy task or lifestyle to adhere to. Our lives are so focused on food, socializing and there's an abundance of overly-processed foods. But, when you want something bad enough, you will do what it takes to heal and Talisha did just that. When you remove the inflammation, you allow the body to heal and that’s just what hers did.


9:44 am

How to Eat Healthy on the Road

Traveling this summer? Got a long road trip planned? I’ve got you covered with healthy on-the-go clean food options.  Your clean eating routine doesn’t have to go by the wayside just because you’ll be away from home and your kitchen.  With a little pre-planning, you can create a lot of options for eating healthy away from home.  So, make a list, shop ahead and pack up some healthy treats for your vacations and keep driving on by that truck stop full of trans fats and genetically modified foods!

Something that goes with me on every trip is my essential oils. I have a little travel case full of tiny drams of my favorites. I use Lemon oil in my water every morning to balance my pH and detox. I use DigestZen for upset tummies; Peppermint for headaches, fevers, improved digestion, and over-heating; Deep Blue for sore feet and achy muscles; I use Lavender for cuts, scrapes, itching, rashes and for calming; I also use a blend called Slim & Sassy to curb cravings and my appetite; and, perhaps most important is Terrashield, a natural repellant blend that keeps mosquitos and ticks away without chemicals! Visit my essential oil website to learn more!

Eating on the run 1

Eating Healthy on the Road

Got a road trip this summer? Here’s a few tips on how to eat healthy on the road:

  1. Plug in your route on Eat Well Guide and it will give you a list of healthy food options along your route.  Plug in your destination and it will give you tons of local, organic food options where you’ll be staying as well.
  2. Pack a cooler. Our kids get bored easily and having go-to snacks on hands and lunches already packed, means less stops and getting to our destination quicker!
  3. Here’s what I pack: bananas, apples, grapes, pre-made trail mix, homemade granola (for topping yogurt or just snacking on), nitrate-free jerky, Epic bars, hummus with cut up cucumber, carrots and bell peppers, sandwiches for the kids, power salad for me, protein power balls, homemade granola bars, Newman’s Own High Protein Pretzels and Plantain Chips.
  4. Refillable, reusable water bottles. No plastic bottles that just fill up landfills and expose you to more BPA, buy a glass or stainless steel bottle and refill it!

Eating Healthy on a Plane

Knowing a few secrets can get you by those pesky TSA rules!

  1. Pack your breakfast in a baggie! I pack quick-cooking rolled oats, cinnamon, chia seeds, nuts and my homemade granola in a baggie. Once through security, I look for a coffee shop and get a cup of hot water and a spoon (almost always free).  You can also add dried fruit like raisins, cranberries or apples to sweeten it up if you need to.
  2. Banana with a packet of Justin's Almond Butter.
  3. For every plane trip I took last year, I made a Power Salad in a small Tupperware container. It has greens, a protein like quinoa, chickpeas or tuna fish, sunflower seeds, diced avocado, chia seeds, chopped veggies like cucumber, bell peppers, carrots and a tiny container of homemade dressing.  I stop by a café and grab a plastic fork before getting on the plane.
  4. I also love taking dried fruit, dark chocolate, trail mix, granola, blueberries, raw pumpkin and sunflower seeds, and homemade granola bars for the kiddies.
  5. Water! Buy a large bottle of water after security or fill up your reusable water at a café soda fountain (free option!).
  6. Herbal tea – I love packing a baggie of my favorite herbal teas. I use Peppermint for a pick-me-up or tummy troubles, Ginger is great for tummies as well, I love Vanilla Rooibos, Honey Lavender and Lemon tea as well.  They always have hot water on the plane or you can hit up a coffee kiosk.

Eating Healthy in a Hotel

I like to book hotel rooms that have a mini-fridge.  I like packing a few staples in my suitcase and then tossing a few local finds in the fridge.

  1. Stop by a local market and buy some string cheese, plain yogurt, nut butter, raw veggies, crackers.
  2. Bring baggies of quick-cooking oatmeal and make some hot water by running water through the hotel room coffee maker.
  3. Pack your protein powder or green powder and add water to a Blender Bottle for a quick breakfast shake. I make pre-made baggies of my True Whey, powdered greens, maca powder, raw cacao and chia seeds.
  4. Store fresh fruit like apples, oranges, grapes, berries and bananas in the fridge.
  5. Make sure you save some snacks for the car or plane ride home.

Eating Healthy in a condo (with a kitchen)

We’re taking a week-long beach vacation to South Carolina this year and I’m excited about being able to cook our own food in a fully-stocked kitchen. I called ahead to see what they have and I only need to pack a few extra essentials.  We’re packing a blender, some spices, my favorite skillet and a few of my favorite knives.

I’ve planned out our route on Eat Well and found some local restaurants, farmer’s markets and even an organic grocery to shop from.
Most every breakfast and lunch will be eaten at the condo. I love omelets, sweet potato hash and fresh sausage from our farmer.
We'll make chicken salad, potato salad, broccoli slaw with grilled chicken and lots of fresh salads.
I’m packing a cooler of some of our frozen pastured pork and grass-fed beef and have planned out our dinners for the week, which also includes some evenings out at a few local restaurants that cater to those looking for healthier, local, sustainable foods.  But I might throw in a night at some of my favorite Southern soul-food spots.  I gotta get my fix!  It’s all about balance after all.

If you’re looking to improve your health, I can help. Email me to schedule your free consultation.


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