5 Immunity Boosters: Foods & Herbs

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Herbs and spices have been used since antiquity and are time-tested natural remedies for a variety of illnesses and diseases, including viral infections. There are therapeutically active constituents of these plants which exhibit anti-viral action and protection.

Sometimes science takes awhile to catch up with proving the healing benefits of plants. A simple example here is that cranberry juice helping urinary tract infections was considered an “old wives tale” until scientific research a couple decades ago found it to be true – cranberries have a property that prevents the adhesion of pathogens (e.g. E. coli) to the bladder wall.

Because of lack of interest in funding research on non-patentable compounds, be aware that the research on benefits of some herbs may be scant and have limited human research.  On the other side, many of these herbs and spices have been studied for a few millenia (far longer that most pharmaceuticals) so…

Do your due diligence. Research and consult with your healthcare provider as certain health conditions and potential drug-interactions need to be evaluated. And now, without further ado…

Garlic

Garlic has a special place in our hearts. Ever since we were broke college students, we have relished the power, ubiquity and inexpensive nature of this plant. It has antibacterial, anti-viral, and anti-parasitic properties (to say nothing of its ability to ward off vampires). It also acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. Garlic a common ingredient and easy addition to a variety of dishes. For about a cost of only fifty cents per bulb, it’s a worthy purchase.

Elderberries

The plant family ‘elder’ is also known as sambucus. Native American tribes and even ancient Egyptians used this plant to treat infections and heal the skin. Today these elderberries are most often found available in the form of syrups and lozenges and are used to ameliorate cold and flu symptoms. A mouse study published on PubMed found that concentrated elderberry juice exhibited a “beneficial effect by the stimulating immune response and preventing viral infection” while in a review of human studies, “supplementation with elderberry was found to substantially reduce upper respiratory symptoms [emphasis added].” Is anyone else Team Elderberry right now?

Ginger

Zingiber officinale, also known as ginger, is found in its whole form and in products such as teas, lozenges, and tinctures. Being helpful to pregnant women experiencing nausea is just one of ginger’s impressive resume qualifications. Its potent plant compounds, including gingerols and zingerone, contribute to ginger’s impressive antiviral activity. If ginger were a person, we wouldn’t let this coronavirus-related recession stop us from hiring him/her as an essential employee of our anti-viral unit.

Licorice

Whether you love or hate the taste, licorice has some tools to help keep you safe from viral infection. Used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and elsewhere for hundreds of years, licorice root contains active antiviral compounds called glycyrrhizin, liquiritigenin, and glabridin (say those three times fast, geez). In vitro (test-tube) studies show licorice root’s effectiveness against herpes virus, HIV, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and, wait for it……..SARS-associated coronavirus infection.

Echinacea

Very popular in herbal medicine, Echinacea is one of the best all-around plants because of its extensive healing properties. The entirety of the plant is used – roots, leaves, flowers- in a variety of natural remedy preparations. It’s also a beautiful, purple plant that you may see roadside or in a metro park. Another trusted and time-tested plant used by Native Americans, it has been used to allay a number of conditions, including viral infections, and is immune-modulating. Several in-vitro studies found that a variety of types of echinacea plants (including E. pallida, E. angustifolia, and E. purpurea) effectively knock-out herpes and influenza viral infections.

Remember, these foods and herbs can only really work their ‘magic’ within the context of a body otherwise supported by good nutrition. A diet high in added sugars, mucous-producing foods, and low in vitamins and minerals won’t help your immune system power-up and effectively take on coronavirus or any other infections.

Ready to talk more to a nutrition expert and lay firm foundations for your health for the short- and long-term? Schedule for your complimentary 20-minute Discovery Call and take control of your health and wellness.

Recipe: Rainbow Chili

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It’s the slow-cooker time of the year and we are using the Crockpot on the regular. It’s easy to make a basic chili or a fancier one with this beloved piece of kitchen equipment. We bought some rainbow carrots and decided to make our chili a bit fancy for a recent date night but it’s equally good to casually and lovingly feed yourself or a whole, hungry family.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Servings: about 8

Ingredients

3-4 rainbow heirloom carrots. sliced
2-3 ribs of celery, chopped
1 jar organic tomato sauce
5 fresh tomatoes, chopped
1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
1 can pinto beans, drained & rinsed
1 can chickpeas
6-8 cloves garlic, chopped
2-3 bay leaves
1 tbsp cumin (with all these beans, you’re gonna need it :D)
1/2 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp chopped parsley for topping

Omnivore option: add 1lb cooked ground turkey

Instructions

Chop all vegetable ingredients and add to slow cooker container, along with tomato sauce and rinsed cans of beans. Add bay leaves, cumin, and oregano. Optional: add 1 lb cooked ground turkey for omnivore option. Add water as needed so slow cooker is halfway to two-thirds full. Cook on low for 8 hours. Remove bay leaves, scoop into bowls, top with fresh parsley and enjoy this colorful, plant-based meal!

Drop the Sweets!

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Put down the pieces of candy picked up from your coworker’s desk.

The Reese’s cups from the vending machine.

The 3rd cup of coffee for today.

It may be 3pm and the post-lunch energy lull can cause us to reach for the drugs that pep us up. Yes, drugs. Sugar and caffeine – legal though they way be, beware of how they can be robbing you of your natural energy and more.

In an exercise during our recent Sugar Busters class, we explored the history of sugar, the estimated consumption, and then what the average ‘healthy’ American’s intake is. The result was rather shocking. After the coffee and hazelnut creamer, granola and Greek fruit yogurt for breakfast as well as a turkey sandwich and side salad with dressing for lunch, the total is 64 grams of added sugar. That’s before stopping by the coworker’s desk for two fun-size Twix bars (they’re really tiny, we know, but you’ll need to add another 16 grams). So now we’re at 80 grams of added sugar for the day and before dinner! In a game of Sugar Monopoly, you’re about to land in blood-sugar-dysregulation ‘jail’, do not pass go, do not collect $200.

Are you aware of the World Health Organization’s recommendation limiting our added sugar intake to 5% or less of our daily calorie needs? Or to have less than 25 grams of added sugar per day?

The truth is, for most of us trying to follow a healthy meal pattern, there’s generally a layer of ‘frosting’ on top of our nutritious choices. Whether the client is vegan, following Weight Watchers, or some other diet program, the sugar seems to seep in.

Added sugar in the diet has been the cause of many of our ills, as a people. Our poor pancreases haven’t been able to keep up with the onslaught of added sugar in the diet since the time the first sugar refinery opened in the United States. The fact that sugar is a negative-nutrient should cause alarm. This is not the food equivalent of Sweden. It is not a ‘neutral’ agent in your body, only supplying a few extra calories. In order to break it down, the body’s reserves of vitamins and minerals are used – in effect, sugar ‘steals’ these nutrients from you! Let this sink in. This important concept should help us realize and treat items with this added sugar with a sense of suspicion, disdain, and then complete eradication. If that seems too strong for you at this point, try to focus on reduction of added sugars in your diet. You’ll still be heading in a better direction and help yourself possibly side-step diabetes and other chronic disease.

Here’s your mission, should you choose to accept it: track the added sugars in your diet. Use labels to see how much added sugar is in your bread, salad dressing, instant oatmeal, or barbecue sauce. Or use an app such as MyFitnessPal or Cronometer to track it. Then, if you know you need to make some changes, head on over to join the rest of us in the upcoming Sugar Detox Challenge! The journey starts this Sunday, January 26th.

Change your toxic relationship with added sugars and change your LIFE.

Top 5 Plant-based Breakfasts

Guten Morgen! Buongiorno!

If it’s not already a good morning, we present to you our top five plant-based breakfasts which provide:

  • Fiber to help your digestive system get moving as you start your day
  • Protein – seeds and nuts are great sources of plant-based protein, as is amaranth (technically a seed, though typically considered a whole grain)
  • Fun – these are colorful and customizable, so get your DIY on!
  • Antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals so you’re taking care of your body right out of the gate!
  • Fuel for the morning! Test your coffee and bagel against any one of these options and you’ll see which ones hold you until lunch.

Without further ado, your new breakfast options!

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  1. Amazing Amaranth Bowl – Move over, porridge! We have a higher-protein option that also provides minerals such as iron, manganese and phosphorus.

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2. Express Detox Smoothie – Love your liver by providing it with the vitamins and minerals it needs from greens! This recipes takes less than 5 minutes and is one of the most-loved from the Green Smoothie Challenge eBook.

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3. Sweet Potato & Black Bean Southwestern Skillet – Smoothie. Oatmeal. Rinse & repeat. We know that breakfasts can get a bit repetitive and unimaginative so we’re going to shake it up with this inspired southwestern dish. Make it vegan by not adding an egg on top.

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4. Great Goji Groatmeal – This easy recipe can be popped into the slow cooker and you can get fancy with goji berries and other accoutrements. Enjoy this warm breakfast on a cold morning!

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5. Cherry Almond Pancakes – Waking up and enjoying a fresh stack of cherry almond pancakes is both a joyful and nutritious way to start the day. May it be the same for you!

Remember to try the 7-day Breakfast Experiment to see which breakfasts work best to fuel you for your day!

Recipe: Lemony Kale & Almond Salad

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We’ve tested it thrice so far with the crowds at Thanksgiving, a holiday party, and recent Friendsgiving with rave reviews. Here we share the zingy, tongue-tingling Lemony Kale & Almond Salad! May it serve you and yours well during holiday celebrations, potlucks, a light dinner, and even just for a mid-day snack. The dressing’s simple ingredients become something greater when combined, like when the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers connected their rings. Also, *voice lowers* it’s gluten-free and vegan…not like anyone will hold it against you :).

Yields: about 12-15 servings

Prep time: about 25-30 minutes

Ingredients

1 lb kale (we’ve used a clamshell of baby kale)
2 cups almonds, chopped
1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
6 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped
1 tsp sea salt
Optional: pepper to taste

Instructions

Let garlic steep in olive oil. Toast almonds in pan until golden brown, then set aside to cool. During garlic-steeping and toasting of almonds, cut small batches of kale into thin strips and place into a very large bowl (with lid, for transport to holiday gathering). In a separate bowl, put dressing together by adding lemon juice, salt, and garlic-steeped olive oil. If you don’t want garlic in the end-product, remove crushed garlic from oil and discard. If you are a garlic-lover, use the finely chopped garlic, without sieving, in the dressing. Combine almonds and dressing into larger bowl with kale and toss with tongs. For best results, serve within about 1 hour. Note: the more oil used, the heavier the kale leaves will be and it will reduce volume of salad within the bowl.

❄️ Are you Frozen too? ❄️

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One of the great joys of having young kids in the family is letting our own inner child come out to play. With the recent release of Frozen II in theaters, we thought this was the perfect time to relate this to being frozen in our own lives. Elsa the Snow Queen’s super-power is turning objects and people to ice. She can build icy bridges, stop an attack, and probably make ice cream whenever she wants (lucky). But her power has to be controlled. And while Elsa freezes things, we often freeze ourselves.

How we ‘Freeze’ ourselves

How do you relate with being frozen? In what area of life are you stuck? It could be around starting an exercise regimen, decluttering the basement or guest room, addressing the issues in your relationships, writing the book, updating the resume or asking for a raise. It could be in the area of health improvement, where we want to lose weight or become more plant-based, but we just can’t seem to begin or sustain our progress.

And because we are frozen, we just find ways to feel better about it. Sometimes we distract ourselves. Have you ever needed to study for a test and then looked at the messy state of your room and thought to yourself, “there’s no ways I can study in this environment”and then spent your study time detail-cleaning the room? We may distract ourselves with lounging in front of the TV, or spending hours on Facebook or Instagram. Numbing out with sugar, caffeine, smoking, or alcohol are also ways we try to make ourselves feel better about being frozen.

What makes this even worse is we put a layer of shame frosting on top. We start belittling ourselves and ‘wishing’ we were better. “Argh,” we think as we get up from the couch after 4 hours of watching Gypsy Sisters or Netflixing World War II documentaries, “I wish I had more motivation to have exercised today” or “I should have cleaned out the downstairs closet, it’s such a mess.”

Perhaps you can relate to unachieved goals, shame storms, and numbing out. Have you ever wondered what lies beneath?

What causes us to be Frozen

In a word: perfectionism. It sounds kind of beautiful, but it’s actually one of the worst words because of the meaning and effect it has in our lives.

It’s hard to say where our perfectionism comes from, but if you’ve ever grown up hearing someone say to you, “If you can’t do it right; don’t do it at all!,” that could be part of the origin. In essence, we are told that our actions, and even who we are, aren’t worthy unless perfect. What a toxic message to carry around with us in our lives.

Perfectionism tends to either paralyze us into inaction or cause us to go overboard and, consequently, burn out.

Why even start to clean the guest bedroom if we can’t do it ‘perfectly’ and we don’t have the five hours we believe it will take? Well, because you CAN make progress, even with 15 minutes of removing trash, clutter, and boxes. 

Perfectionism with our food usually looks like following a certain diet for a few days or weeks, then falling off the wagon and eating everything in sight. There’s an anti-dote to this that allows for sustainable weight loss; chat with us and find out more.

In short, perfectionism usually causes us to procrastinate, get overwhelmed, and shut-down or ‘freeze’.

What’s the cost of perfectionism? The cost is not getting things done at all, whereas we could have made progress. The cost is our inner peace; we don’t feel at peace when we feel stressed and frustrated by not having the time or ability to do something perfectly. Perfectionism can cost our relationships with other people. If you’ve ever yelled at a child or spouse because of a small mess or because they aren’t cleaning the ‘right’ way (your way) you can see the effect your perfectionism and words have on others. Also – and this is two-fold- if you value keeping your home environment museum-perfect over having your ‘messy’ grandchildren visit or if you feel like you can’t have visitors due to a messy, cluttered environment, your relationships with others will suffer.

Check yourself: next time you find yourself frustrated or overwhelmed by a challenge, look underneath that feeling to see if perfectionism is the undercurrent.

How to get Un-frozen

The power of un-freezing ourselves comes from realizing that progress > perfection. Initially, your belief in that statement will recoil. How could progress be better than that which is perfect? Well, considering the high costs and knowing something will never, ever truly be perfect….progress starts looking really good, right? Excellence, according to dictionary definition is, “the quality of being outstanding or extremely good.” If excellence means that we can take action, feel good about ourselves, and not get stuck, why would anyone choose perfectionism instead? 

A small step, taken consistently and continuously reaching toward our goal is better than no action at all. Perhaps you remember My 30-minute Morning Routine about how many people create obstacles for themselves to workout when 6 minutes of strength-training in your own home can still help you feel better and see results. But if you don’t learn to change your way of thinking, perfectionism will keep you hog-tied and frozen.

In Frozen II, Elsa’s sister, Anna, seems to display and embody more of the element – fire – in this movie. Here’s where we have an answer to thawing ourselves out and taking action. Fire motivates, it stirs passion, and, if uncontrolled, it will burn everything in its path. So the key here is to find your motivation and use it as the fire to propel you towards your goals, but without going overboard and burning out.

Motivation isn’t usually enough though, so consider other ‘hacks’ such as scheduling your workout. The 4 Tips to Fit in Fitness blog is a great place to start. When it comes to decluttering, check out our experience with the Konmari Method for inspiration and ideas to make it easier.

Want to write a book? Just start writing, imperfectly. A typo is not the end of the world; besides, there are opportunities to review and make edits (or have others do it!). Allowing perfectionism to rule in this area of your life means your story is never shared, in-print or online.

What’s one area of your life where you’re willing to become ‘unfrozen’ and warm up your ‘fire’ to take action?

Recipe: The Anytime Warm Apple Crisp

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And we do mean anytime…it’s wonderful for dessert and breakfast (try it with some added pecans or walnuts!). Have it in the cold winter months and the early days of spring. Enjoy it on a holiday or any day. This is dish is so versatile and easy to make, it’s perfect for everyday and special occasions. Load a 15-20 minute music playlist or podcast and that’s about all the prep time you’ll need in order to be rewarded about 40 minutes later with a warm, cinnamon-y apple crumble.

Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Cook time: about 40 minutes
Yields 13 x 9 oven-safe baking dish

Ingredients

12 medium-large apples
1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour
1 1/2 cups organic oats
1 cup organic butter or coconut oil
1/2 cup coconut sugar or maple syrup
1 tbsp cinnamon

Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Remove apple cores and chop apples into about 1/2 inch  pieces. Put apple bits into medium pot with 1/2 tbsp cinnamon about 1/2 cup water and heat to soften, about 10-15 minutes. Next create the crisp topping by combining flour, oats, butter or coconut oil, sugar or maple syrup, and 1/2 tbsp cinnamon. Use a fork (or your clean fingers) to mash the cold butter or coconut oil into the oat mixture until it looks like coarse crumble bits. Carefully place apple pieces into 13 x 9 baking dish. Spoon and spread the crumble mixture on top of apple bits until evened out. Place baking dish in oven and bake about 40 minutes or until topping is golden brown and sides bubble. Bonus: this dish pairs exceptionally well with some (non-dairy) vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!

8 Tips to Shake the Salt

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The American diet is rich in high-sodium foods and, between processed foods and eating out, we are often getting much more than we need. Some say salt is a substitute for the flavor that used to exist when we consumed fresh, locally-grown produce. Though an easy way to flavor food, salt is a cheap and rather pedestrian flavoring agent.

Excess salt is a danger to the body and the brain. It can raise blood pressure, risk of heart attack and stroke, put a strain on your kidneys, and more. Did you know it can also lead to over-eating and cause weight gain?

Here are some tips to enjoy satisfying flavor in our foods, without added salt.

  1. Huddle up with herbs. What cuisines do you enjoy – Italian, Mexican, French, Indian? Choose some herbs that fit the flavor profiles and add them to your dish. For example, oregano, rosemary, and basil are go-to Italian herbs for elevating your pasta dish.
  2. Citrus zest and juices. Grate the skin of organic lemons, limes, or oranges for sweet and/or savory meals. Spritz fresh lime onto your tacos or lemon into a lentil soup.
  3. Roasted root vegetables. Lightly toss your favorite root vegetables (such as beets, parsnips, etc) in melted coconut oil and roast at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes or until tender, turning over once halfway through roasting.
  4. Eat slowly. Chewing your food well breaks down the carbohydrates, making it taste sweeter. Slowing down while eating introduces your tastebuds to the complex flavors in your food and makes for a more pleasurable meal experience.
  5. Caramelized onions. Sauté diced onions in some olive oil, stirring frequently until browned (about 45 minutes to 1 hour). Use in a French onion soup or on rice dishes, burgers or veggie burgers, omelets, and more!
  6. Organic food can be more flavorful. Try some organic strawberries or eggs and see if you can tell a difference between them and their conventional counterparts.
  7. De-glaze the pan. By simply using some balsamic vinegar, which combines with those sticky brown bits in your cooking pan, you can make a delicious sauce.
  8. Spice it up. Cumin adds a depth of flavor to a number of dishes, as does adobo, curry powder and even nutmeg.

Evaluate your salt consumption and then challenge yourself to incorporate one or more of these ideas. Your tastebuds and body will appreciate it.

 

Warm Breakfast: Great Goji Groatmeal

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For National Hot Tea & Oatmeal Month, we shared the Great Goji Groatmeal breakfast recipe on this recent WBNS 10TV segment with Karina Nova and Ross Caruso. With our weather being perfect (meaning: cold, rainy) for this breakfast, we’re sharing it here with you too!

What is an oat groat? It’s the whole grain form of oatmeal, before it is steel-cut, rolled, or pulverized into an instant oatmeal package. These oat groats are chewy and take some time to cook, which is why we called upon our trusty slow cooker to work the overnight shift.

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Ingredients
2 cups oat groats
2 tablespoons chia seeds (and/or flax seeds)
1/3 cup shredded coconut
3 cups water (we used hot green tea)
3 cups of non-dairy milk (i.e. DIY almond milk)
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 apples, cored and blended
1/8 cup of goji berries (or substitute with raisins)
1/3 cup cacao nibs (optional)

Instructions
Use a 4-quart or larger slow cooker. Put oat groats, chia, shredded coconut, water, non-dairy milk, coconut oil, and goji berries (and cacao nibs if desired) inside. Blend cored apple and add to slow cooker. Stir all ingredients and cover, cooking on low for about 8 hours (automatic slow cookers should then switch over to ‘warm’ setting). Stir and serve with additional fruit (i.e. berries), nuts, seeds, or sweetener on top and enjoy a warm belly of food to start your day!

In the Client Spotlight!

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“Working with you was the first time I have ever worked with a nutritionist and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Now having done so I can confidently say I’m very happy I did!

As a result of our work together I changed daily food choices in my lifestyle including but not limited to: ditching sugary creamer, consuming less coffee, drinking more water, adding in kale to my daily egg breakfast routine (which I love), lowering my overall weight average by 5 pounds (my husband lost about 10lbs), incorporating more veggies in my meals, and most importantly getting my digestion back on track. I’m proud to say I’m “regular.” 🙂 I also no longer weigh myself after ‘eating bad’ and punish myself by skipping meals. I give myself grace and let my body get back into balance.

Adrienne, you are a wealth of health knowledge! I loved listening to your ideas on how to achieve my overall best level of health—both body and mind, internal and external. I also really enjoyed the ways you help break down my calls to action after each meeting. Additionally, you are full of grace and never made me feel bad if I didn’t stick with something we agreed to. Another benefit is that I look at food and my body in a healthier way. I also think more about ways to improve my mental health on a daily basis by doing things that bring me joy and help my brain breathe.

I’m also happy I did this program as I recently found out I am pregnant with our second child! I feel like it will be easier to cut out coffee now as well as deal with the hormones and cravings for things like nachos and sweets. I know I’ll be eating healthier as a whole.

The most important thing I tell others that you will learn so much about food, your body, and yourself and you’ll be so thankful you did!”

– Christine Y., London, Ohio


You know what ‘sparks joy’ for us? Well this client was not only a lovely, bubbly person to work with but her enthusiasm and gratitude for all she had accomplished reminded us of why we do this work. It is a great honor to guide her, and all clients, from a place where they feel stuck, hurt and in pain, or feeling like something is ‘off’ to where they feel light, whole, confident, and vibrant! Our long-standing mission in life is to help others heal and reach their potential. Thank you for allowing us to work our magic :).

Stay tuned, more client spotlights to come!