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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,

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


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


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.

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.



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.


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

Eating 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!

Invariably, someone may get sick, have tummy troubles or get a boo-boo, so I always pack 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 or apple 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 Collagen Peptides, 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 my chia pudding, 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.


10:11 am

5 Strategies for Better Sleep

5 Top Strategies for Better Sleep

When I was in my twenties and thirties I would make silly remarks like, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead!” I was young, single, and enjoying the nightlife. Turns out I was also digging my grave sooner than I would like. By the time I hit my forties, I was overweight, my hormones were out of whack, I had no energy and now I suffer from adrenal fatigue. Getting quality sleep is crucial for so many systems in our bodies. According to the National Science Foundation, over 70 million people suffer from insomnia. Not getting adequate sleep is responsible for infection, insulin resistance, obesity, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and mood disorders.

It’s time to value our sleep and give it the respect it deserves. Poor sleep impacts our nutrition in ways you may not have thought of too. Staying up too late causes an increase in the hormone ghrelin, which drives our hunger controls. That can lead to poor food choices, hormone imbalance and weight gain.

How much sleep should I get? 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night is recommended. The risk of developing obesity rises 23% with just 6 hours of sleep per night, 50% with 5 hours per night, and 73% with 4 hours per night. Arianna Huffington’s new book, The Sleep Revolution, shares how our cultural dismissal of sleep as time wasted compromises our health and our decision-making and undermines our work lives, our personal lives -- and even our sex lives.


So what can you do to improve the quality and quantity of your sleep to benefit your health?

Here’s my Top 5 Strategies for Better Sleep:

  1. Limit caffeine, alcohol and snacks before bedtime. Eliminate all caffeine after 3pm and keep it under1-2 cups per day at most. Alcohol is a depressant, but it actually disrupts your sleep quality. Eating within 2-3 hours of bedtime raises your body temperature and metabolic rate, disrupting sleep. Your body needs to repair at night, not digest food that you’ve just eaten.
  2. Choose natural sleep remedies over highly-addictive sleep aids. Prescription sleep aids actually alter our sleep architecture and can cause a morning hangover. Try Lemon Balm, Valerian root or phosphotidylserine in supplement form. Magnesium citrate is also a great relaxing mineral that promotes quality sleep. I take magnesium before bed every night.
  3. Set the scene for sleep. Thirty minutes before bed, turn off all electronic devices that emit a blue light, like a TV, tablet, phone, and computer. These devices have what I call the “Vegas-effect” and keep our brains on active mode. Try reading a book, journaling or just chatting with your partner. A warm bath with calming essential oils can help too.
  4. Alter your daytime dietary composition to sleep better. Consider adding in more protein, omega 3 fatty acids, low glycemic foods, and fresh vegetables to promote balanced blood sugar levels.
  5. Movement – All it takes is 30 minutes of movement to boost your metabolism in the morning and then set you up for good quality sleep at night. Find something you like to do and add it to your routine. A pleasant walk in the sunshine can do wonders for your circadian rhythms as well.

If all these efforts don’t result in higher quality sleep, you may have a hormone imbalance or health issue that needs addressing. My consultations are always free and you could be greatly damaging your health by ignoring poor sleep issues.

May is actually Better Sleep Month, so I thought I would take some time to not only chat about this great book, but also share some sleep tips from Casper, their mattress is made with latex foam instead of memory foam that allows you to sleep cool, which is one of the most common sleep problems.  Because let’s be honest, we could all sleep a little better.


9:29 am

Choosing a Safer Sunscreen

Once upon a time, I laid out with my friends in my backyard and slathered baby oil all over myself to get a glowing tan. Say what?!! Yep, that was me in my teens. Of course we all know better now. Or, do we? More than 2 million Americans develop skin cancer each year (NCI, 2013). Surprisingly, there are over 400 sunscreens on the market today, yet only a dozen are actually considered safe and effective.

What is a sunblock or sunscreen?

Sunblocks are mineral-based and provide a physical barrier between you and the sun. They are not absorbed, but rather sit on the skin. Sunscreens, however, are absorbed into the skin and a chemical reaction takes place in order for them to be effective. The ingredients in chemical sunscreens can be downright toxic to your body. For example, one common chemical is oxybenzone, which absorbs ultraviolet light and is believed to cause hormone disruptions and cell damage that may provoke cancer. Also found is retinyl palmitate, a synthetic form of vitamin A, in many sunscreens and face lotions. FDA-sponsored studies have linked it to skin cancer.

What do we need to filter out and why?

The Earth is struck with UVA and UVB rays. But UVB rays make up just 3 to 5 percent of the ultraviolet spectrum striking the earth. UVA rays are more numerous and penetrate deeper into the body than UVB. They can cause a different type of DNA damage (Cadet, 2009). Most sunscreens only filter UVB rays. It’s important to read the label and determine if your brand filters both rays.

How do I protect myself?

  1. Use Physical Barrier Sunscreens – We need the sun to provide us with energy and the conversion of Vitamin D, but if you’re going to the beach or pool or will have prolonged exposure, you’ll want to take some steps to protect your skin. Look for a brand that contains physical barriers like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Both filter out UVB and UVA.
  2. Protective Clothing & Gear – Wear a hat to protect your scalp, eyes and the thin skin on your face; sunglasses with dark or polarized lenses are helpful in preventing glare; long sleeve “rash-guard” swimsuits and those with dark colors and tight weaves can provide a physical block. I don’t advise buying clothes with added chemical sunscreens.
  3. Antioxidants! Fresh, raw fruits and vegetables can provide your body with the necessary nutrients needed to fight the free radicals caused by sun overexposure. Astaxanthin, a potent antioxidant, can be taken in supplement form for several weeks, which can shield your body from UV damage.

How do I choose an effective brand?

The one major drawback of mineral-based sunscreens is the tell-tale ghostly white look. They can also stain your clothes. There are several brands that the Environmental Working Group has tested for safety and efficacy and some are better than others at blending in and not leaving the white marks behind. Visit their website and see if your brand is safe.

It’s also important to note that choosing a sunscreen based solely on a super high SPF factor can be misleading and give you a false sense of protection. After about 2 hours, the effectiveness of chemical sunscreens wears off and not only stops working but actually interacts with the sunshine to cause free radicals and oxidation in your skin, which cause cancer!

Ultimately, you want to flip your bottle over, read the ingredient label and avoid oxybenzone, parabens, retinyl palmitate (a synthetic form of Vitamin A), and artificial fragrance.  Choose those with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Some of my favorite sunscreens are Dr. Mercola’s, Green Screen, CA Baby and Beauty Counter.

Do you have a favorite natural sunscreen? Let me know!

9:46 am

4 Nutrition Tips You Need to Implement Now

girl shopping

There’s so much health, wellness and nutrition information out today that you can easily get overwhelmed and even confused by the conflicting advice.  One website I was searching had an article that said “drink two liters of water per day,” while another article said, “drink only when you’re thirsty.”

I constantly hear from my clients that they are overwhelmed, stressed and confused and don’t know who to believe anymore. Their inboxes are full of emails from bloggers, doctors, and wellness experts all claiming to have the latest information, studies and tips you need to improve your health.  I understand their frustration, especially when you’re trying to do research on a nutrition topic. I personally like to source from medical journals and scientific research that is evidence-based.  But that can be hard to decipher if you don’t understand medical jargon and it’s a lengthy read!

My advice is to clean up your inbox and follow people you trust and those who give you valuable information that you understand and resonate with. Stop the constant funnel of information, or should I say misinformation.

The main problem with nutrition advice is the study of it is fairly new. We can only get true data after following someone’s health for their lifetime to witness what effects their diet had on their health.  However, it’s extremely difficult to trace a particular food or item in the diet to disease outcomes years later, especially given lifestyle factors and other variables.

I believe that if you can swear off all of those crazy fad diets, juice cleanses and food rules, you can once again have a healthy relationship with food. You need to listen to your body and follow its advice. If you have bloating after eating something or develop a rash, you probably shouldn’t be eating that item. Do you feel tired after a huge plate of pasta? Perhaps cut back and add more veggies and protein to balance your blood sugar. Once you can slow down and really tune in to your body’s rhythm, hunger signals and distress signals, you will learn what to feed yourself.

Tip #1:

Slow down and pay attention to your meal. Many of us are eating on the go, in the car, and at our desks. We aren’t focused on the smells, the appearance or taste – we’re just shoving it in. Take a moment to have a few deep breaths before a meal and relax your parasympathetic nervous system.  Savor each bite and enjoy your meal. It will help you feel fuller and allow you to listen to your body’s fullness cues.  Mindfulness and being present in the moment are the keys.

Tip #2:

Stop the fads and trends. Are you eating egg whites or avoiding eggs because of cholesterol or avoiding fat, because it “makes you fat?” If you enjoy the whole egg, eat it. If you enjoy bacon, eat it. If you want a donut, sit down, smell it, and savor every.single.bite. Depriving yourself of treats only leads to overindulgence down the road.

Tip #3: 

Don’t put yourself in a diet box. There’s no reason on Earth that need you to proclaim to the world that you eat a specific way. Maybe you’re a vegetarian who enjoys a fish taco every now and then or you’re vegan, but eat local raw honey. Or, perhaps you eat a Paleo diet, but can’t give up cheese. Who cares! Eat what you want, enjoy it and don’t feel like you need to put yourself into a specific category. I call my eating style “Flexitarian” – I eat whatever my body tells me it wants.

Tip #4:

Make it sustainable. Whichever way you do eat, make it something simple, tasty and fun so that you can sustain this way of eating for the rest of your life. When I ditched processed foods and switched to whole foods, I took my time. I slowly started integrating healthy salads, smoothies and grass-fed proteins. It didn’t happen overnight and by taking it slow, I’m proud to say that I love my healthy diet of whole, clean and local foods for five years now.  When you diet, it’s usually something short-term and not a “way of eating” that is sustainable forever.  I urge you to source locally, eat fresh, whole foods and cook as much as possible on your own. This alone will improve your health tremendously!

Hopefully these tips will help you release some of your food guilt around eating and you can have a healthy relationship with food and your body again. Spending time making meals with love and eating them with our full attention can help you nurture and nourish your body.

12:08 pm

How to Make a Healing Smoothie

green-682620With summer approaching, I thought it would be a good time to share some tips and tricks on making a nutritious smoothie.  Smoothies can be refreshing in hot weather, but more importantly, they nourish your body on a cellular level and can improve your health, your digestion and your immunity. Made properly, a smoothie can cleanse your body of toxins, assist with weight loss, hydrate you, and provide a simple, quick meal when you’re in a hurry.

Smoothies can serve a few different purposes as well. There’s the breakfast smoothie, the post-workout fuel-up, and the afternoon pick-me-up (or after school snack if you have children). My girls also love popsicles made from smoothies, which sure beats those questionable novelties on the ice-cream truck!

You could use a recipe that tells you exactly how to make a particular smoothie, but I like using this simple Green Smoothie Formula which allows you to get creative in the kitchen.

Easy Green Smoothie Formula:

  1. Start with 2 cups of leafy greens (like baby spinach, Swiss chard, kale, even Romaine lettuce) I like to rotate my greens for maximum nutrient intake.
  2. Add about 1 ½ cups of liquid (water, coconut milk, almond milk, or coconut water)
  3. 1 banana (freeze your overripe ones) or 1 pitted Medjool date
  4. 1 cup of Fresh or Frozen Fruit (pick your favorite, use what is in season or use frozen fruit)
  5. Superfood Boosts: Sprinkle in chia seeds, goji berries, Maca powder, flax seeds, cinnamon, raw cacao, or hemp seeds.

Serves 1-2 – depending on how hungry you are!

Blending Tips:

  1. If you don’t have a powerful blender, whiz your greens and liquids first, then, add your fruits and superfoods.
  2. If using fresh fruit (as opposed to frozen), add a few cubes of ice to chill your smoothie and make it creamy and cool. I like to freeze seasonal fruit to have on hand all year round to make smoothies. Frozen bananas make it super creamy.
  3. You can make these the night before, but store in glass jars with a tight lid. They may need a brief run through the blender right before consuming or a good shake.

The Meal-Replacement Smoothie:

To use a smoothie as a meal replacement, say for breakfast, it’s important to add protein and healthy fats. I like using a tablespoon of a nut butter like cashew or almond butter or you could even add pumpkin or sunflower seeds (if you have a high-powered blender). To add in a healthy fat, you could use a tablespoon of coconut oil or coconut manna or ½ an avocado.

The Post-Workout Smoothie:

Adding in healthy fats like coconut oil, avocado and nut butters can provide your body with the fuel it needs to continue on its fat-burning mission. Protein is essential too and nut butters and seeds are great in a smoothie after a good workout. Low-glycemic berries are best after workouts as well.

Make it Kid-Friendly:

Leafy greens and light-colored fruit like mangoes and pineapple create a bright neon green smoothie. I make these in my Wellness After School class for elementary-aged children and call it my Green Goblin Smoothie. They all love it once they try it, but some are wary of the green color at first.

Using blueberries and strawberries can turn your smoothie purple or pink, which can be more accepting of choosy children.

A Bit About Superfoods:

A “superfood” is basically just a nutrient-dense food that is really great for your health. We’ve all heard of blueberries, wild salmon and broccoli being traditional superfoods, but there’s a few more that are becoming more commonplace that you should consider adding to your diet. Superfoods are high in antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and amino acids – which we all need.

Maca Root

Maca Root is very nutritious and it’s great in smoothies because the smoothie helps mask Maca’s earthy taste. Maca is full of fiber and amino acids, is great for weight loss and it helps deter sugar cravings. It’s also used to boost energy and a sluggish libido. Ancient Peruvians used Maca as a fertility enhancer.

Raw Cacao is another favorite of mine. Cacao is chocolate is its raw, unprocessed form. It contains theobromine which encourages a healthy balance of bacteria in the mouth, speeds up metabolism and boosts energy. It’s also high in antioxidants, fiber and magnesium, and boosts serotonin levels.

What do you put in your green smoothie? Share with us in the comments!

5:56 pm

7 Steps to Cleanse Your Body of Toxins

Internal Spring Cleaning

7 Steps to Cleanse Your Body of Toxins

Some of us feel the need to rearrange furniture, power wash the deck, and spruce up the garden beds in springtime, but our bodies need a little spring cleaning too!
You don't have to go on a crazy juice diet or deprive yourself of food for days on end to give yourself a "cleanse" either. Detoxing or cleansing mean different things to different people. I simply believe that if we can give our bodies a little rest from the toxic burden we assault on it every day, our health will improve.
To properly cleanse your body, you need to start with cleaning up your diet. A diet heavy in processed foods, red meat, alcohol, caffeine, sugar and sweets is overburdened and probably not functioning properly. But, even those with squeaky clean diets need a little reboot once in a while. Every day we are assaulted with chemicals in the air, our water, our food and the environment as a whole. Cleansing your body can assist your natural detoxification pathways and you’ll feel better as a result.

I like cleansing in the spring because it feels natural and we’ve just come out of a long winter with heavy foods, like stews, casseroles, hearty pies and baked goods. Those foods were nourishing in the winter and kept us warm, but now it’s time to release the excess and clean the pipes – so to speak!

Step 1: Clean up your diet. For one week, cut down on red meat, gluten, sugar, treats, soda, caffeine, alcohol, nuts, seeds and any processed or fast food. This doesn’t mean complete avoidance, but try to cut back as much as possible to assist your digestive tract. Increase leafy greens, load up on veggies, fish, whole grains like quinoa and lots of water. The more you cut back, the greater success you’ll have. Plus, you may even lose some weight.

Step 2: Let’s clean those pipes! The first detox pathway is cleansing the colon because you can’t do a liver cleanse or gallbladder cleanse if you’re not moving waste out properly. Start with daily lemon water in the morning, add in lots of filtered water, and herbal teas. You could try colon hydrotherapy, coffee enemas and drinking pure green juice if things aren’t “moving along.” Herbs like slippery elm and buckthorn can help.


Step 3: Cleansing the Urinary Tract. Again, lots of water throughout the day is helpful, as is eating parsley, asparagus and pure cranberry juice. Make sure the juice is pure and has no added sugar.

Step 4: Cleansing the Liver. Add in beets, ginger and citrus fruits. You can also add turmeric to everything you eat (I add it to eggs, soups, ground meats, stews, pretty much everything.) Milk Thistle is a supplement you can take to aid in liver cleansing. Increase carrots, beets, dark leafy greens and green juice to aid in cleansing the liver. Also beneficial is adding in fiber to your diet to assist the body in removing toxins that the liver has filtered out. I like flax and chia seeds for this.


Step 5: Cleansing the Lymphatic System. Two of my favorite lymph exercises are daily dry skin brushing and rebounding. Before every shower, grab a natural bristle brush and brush towards your heart. Start at your feet and move up (avoiding the face and chest). Rebounding is great for moving lymphatic fluid, as is massage. Go get one! I also like Pau d’arco tea , burdock root and cats claw for herbal therapies.


Step 6: Chemical & Heavy Metal Detoxification. If you take prescription medicine, antibiotics, get vaccinations, have dental amalgams, or you are exposed to toxins via your environment, then you also need to do a heavy metal cleanse. This can be a little more intensive than your run-of-the-mill spring cleanse, but stick with me. Adding in chlorella, spirulina and blue-green algae can draw the metals out of your system. You can add these powders to your smoothie to disguise the flavor. 

Heavy Metal Detox Juice:
Juice the following:
3 celery stalks, 1 cucumber, 1 handful parsley, 1 handful cilantro, 1 green apple, 1/2 fennel bulb, 1 lemon

Step 7: Systemic Detoxification. The last step can be up to you. Do you need an emotional detox, a spiritual cleanse, or perhaps just a simple cleansing of your personal care or cleaning products? Remember to breathe (slowly and deeply), practice daily meditation and gratitude and journal during your cleanse. You can refer to Chapter 12 of Unprocessed Living to help you clean up your personal care and cleaning products and decrease your exposure to toxins in the home.

Remember to give each steps several days to really work, then move on to the next step. Let me know how it goes and if you have any questions during your spring cleanse! Good luck!




This article is not a substitute for seeking medical advice from your physician or health care professional.

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