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Organic World

Organic Snacks for Kids: The Grab & Go Edition

organic snacks“Mom, I’m hungry, can I have a snack?” That might sound like an all too familiar phrase. I know for me it’s much more common in the summer time, when kids are out of school and constantly rummaging through your cupboards. I’ve found that a little preparation goes a long way in keeping healthy organic snacks within the reach of their little hands. When you are living a healthy lifestyle, eating healthy foods will take some prep-time and that’s okay. Our health and our children’s health is worth the little extra time love and effort! And once you get the hang of it, prep-time is a breeze.

I have many options for you for healthy organic snacks that you will feel good about giving your children.

Tips on Making Organic Snacks for Kids:

  • Buy a variety of fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds. They are full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, fats and protein, which all kids need for their systems to function correctly.
  • When you get home from grocery shopping, rinse and wash all your produce. This will save a little extra time when you go to use them.
  • Pre-cut your vegetables (carrots, celery, bell peppers), store then in an easy to grab container, and place it in the refrigerator where it is easy to grab.
  • Don’t buy JUNK. If you have junk in your house, your kids will search for it. If you don’t buy junk, they can’t eat junk (well at least at home).
  • Going on a trip, hike, or just going out for the day? Pre-package your snacks the night before. Use little snack size bags or containers.

27 Easy Grab & Go Ideas for Organic Snacks

  1. Celery (some options: celery with nut butter, coconut butter with raisins or another chopped dried fruit or nut)
  2. Olives (drained)
  3. Sliced bell peppers
  4. Carrot sticks (I like using rainbow carrots – purple carrots are especially delicious)
  5. Jicama sticks
  6. Strawberries (any berry that has been rinsed and dried)
  7. Ready to go organic fruits (apples, oranges, pears, grapes)
  8. Kale chips (store bought or make your own: cut the stems out of several kale leaves, sprinkle with avocado oil, sea salt, garlic powder and pepper, and bake at 275 degrees for 40 minutes, turning them halfway through)
  9. Dark Chocolate – Make sure it’s over 70% cacao (will be high in antioxidants and less sugar)
  10. Plantain Chips – One of my kids’ favorites. They taste like potato chips.
  11. Applesauce cups
  12. Pre-made muffins
  13. Granola
  14. Crackers and cheese
  15. Tuna
  16. Jerky
  17. Granola and protein bars
  18. Raw nuts (good source of protein and fat)
  19. Trail Mix
  20. Hard boiled eggs
  21. Homemade fruit popsicles
  22. Dried fruit
  23. Seaweed snacks
  24. Chia fruit squeeze packs (great source of omega-3′s)
  25. Fruit leathers
  26. Bacon (sounds funny, but premade bacon slices, nitrate free of course, are one of my kids favorite snacks)
  27. Stuffed dates (stuff with a brazil nut or other nuts and a couple of organic chocolate chips)

It also helps to have a small container of their favorite dip (guacamole, salsa, nut butter, etc.) for dipping fruits and veggies, handy as well.

Snacking can be made easy. It may take a little effort and prep, but it will be worth it. Another awesome option for some great ready to go snacks is the Greater Goodie Snack Box.  Meant for kids and adults alike, keeping a go-to box of healthy organic snacks within reach of your kids will keep them on the right track.  A perfect choice for families that are on the go, these goodie boxes come in three sizes, all with great choices!

What are your kid’s favorite organic snacks?

Eat These Organic Foods to Fight Arthritis

organic foodsBy the year 2030, an estimated 67 million (25% of the projected total adult population) adults aged 18 years and older will have doctor-diagnosed arthritis, but did you know there are two types of arthritis? The most common type of arthritis is Osteoarthritis, a degenerative arthritis (wear and tear of the cartilage) usually associated with poor nutrition and aging. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder. That means that the immune system attacks parts of the body. The joints are the main areas affected by this malfunction in the immune system. Over time it can lead to chronic inflammation and joint damage. A lot of doctors just treat arthritis symptomatically, meaning they will give you medication to help with the pain. However, there is growing research that just making dietary changes, like adding these organic foods to your diet, can go a long way with both types of arthritis.

6 Organic Foods to Help Fight Arthritis

1. Turmeric

Turmeric has a high antioxidant value and helps to boost the immune system. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory and is popular among those with arthritis and joint problems.

2. Vitamin C Rich Foods

One important function of vitamin C is in the formation and maintenance of collagen, the basis of connective tissue, which is found in the skin, ligaments, cartilage and joint linings, bones and teeth. Vitamin C rich foods include organic:

  • oranges
  • lemons
  • grapefruits
  • limes
  • broccoli
  • brussel sprouts
  • dark leafy greens
  • cabbage
  • asparagus

3. Fish/Omega-3′s

Increase intake of omega-3 fatty acids by eating more cold water fish, olive oil, walnuts or freshly ground flaxseeds. You may also want to consider taking a fish oil supplement to help keep your protein intake low.

4. Ginger

Ginger is another great anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, it’s said to be a superior anti-pain remedy, beating out over-the-counter medicines like Tylenol and Advil.

5. Berries

Berries including blackberries, raspberries, strawberries have anthocyanin’s which are a potent antioxidant responsible for the reddish pigment in foods, which may help reduce inflammation.

6. Blackstrap Molasses

High in valuable minerals such as calcium, potassium, and magnesium, blackstrap molasses has been a cherished home remedy for arthritis for a number of years. As a dietary supplement (easily consumed as a drink), blackstrap can help relieve symptoms of arthritis and joint pain, thanks to its vital constituents that regulate nerve and muscle function, and strengthens the bones. 1-2 tablespoons a day straight or mixed with warm water.

Though there isn’t an official Arthritis Diet (I don’t think), the following could benefit those with arthritis greatly:

  • Avoid processed and fried foods, both of which promote inflammation.
  • Decrease the amount of sugar you intake each day. The less sugar you eat, the less inflammation, and the stronger the immune system to defend us against infectious and degenerative diseases.
  • Avoid dairy products. Dairy has a known protein called Casein which may irritate the tissue around the joints.
  • Refrain from tobacco and alcohol use, which can lead to a number of health problems, including some that may affect your joints. Smokers are more at risk for developing rheumatoid arthritis, while those who consume alcohol have a higher risk for developing gout.
  • Drink your water. Water does more than hydrate you, it also helps lubricate our joints.
  • Limit or eliminate nightshades from diet. They are known to contribute to pain, inflammation and arthritis. Nightshades include: tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplant.

Have you found anything to help alleviate arthritis pain? If so tell us what worked for you?

References:

21 Outrageous Organic Recipes: Veggie Burgers

organic recipes veggie burgers

Store bought veggie burgers are an easy ‘go-to’ meatless meal when you’re in a hurry and want to put something warm and comforting on the dinner table, but making your own at home is quick and easy. You’ll also be using cleaner, fresher ingredients with these organic recipes. And in the end you’ll save some money too!

You can prepare any of these organic recipes ahead of time and freeze them for later use, making them super-convenient.  Just lay the patties (raw or cooked) in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze for about 60-90 minutes. Once they’re frozen you can stack the patties with parchment paper in between each patty and freeze in a ziploc bag for later use.  Uncooked patties should be defrosted in the refrigerator before cooking.

I’ve gathered a collection of my favorite organic recipes for veggie burgers from some of the best food bloggers and compiled them in the list below.

21 Outrageous Organic Recipes: Veggie Burgers

  1. Vegan Beet Burger from Eat With Your Eyes Closed
  2. Moroccan Yam Veggie Burgers from Oh She Glows
  3. Spicy Curry Chickpea Burgers from Calm Mind Busy Body
  4. Thai Quinoa Burgers from One Green Planet
  5. Spiced Green Pea Veggie Burger from Organic Authority
  6. Olive Lentil Burgers from Post Punk Kitchen
  7. Hijiki Tofu Burgers from Vegangela
  8. Lentil Walnut-Apple Burgers from Plant Powered Kitchen
  9. Black Bean Sweet Potato Tempeh Burgers from The Kind Life
  10. Red Lentil Cauliflower Burger from Vegan Richa
  11. Raw Vegan Spinach Burgers from Choosing Raw
  12. BBQ Tofu Burger from Vegan Miam
  13. Homemade Sunshine Burgers from The Vegan Chickpea
  14. Za’atar Chickpea Burgers from Keepin’ It Kind
  15. Curried Eggplant, Lentil and Quinoa Burgers from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen
  16. Walnut Lentil Beet Burgers from Hell Yeah It’s Vegan
  17. Smoky Bean & Spinach Sliders from Thug Kitchen
  18. Smooth Chickpea Kids Burger from The Flaming Kitchen
  19. Fabulous Un-Fried Falafel Burgers from Forks Over Knives
  20. Acorn Squash Veggie Burgers from My Whole Food Life
  21. Roasted Garlic Artichoke Veggie Burgers from Connoisseurus Veg

Do you have any favorite organic recipes for veggie burgers? Share below!

Organic Gifts for Mother’s Day

organic giftsIt really wasn’t until I became a mother myself that I truly appreciated the things my mom did for me and my siblings. I often find myself thinking about her many times throughout the day. I think of her when the kids are fighting, and the house is a mess, and I feel as though I’m about to pull every single hair out of my head. I think, I’m only raising three at home, and she had four! How did she do it?!

When my littlest one falls asleep in my arms and I feel a love so fierce that I just can’t stand it, nor explain it in words, I think of my mom. In those moments I think about all the times my mom held me the same exact way, and felt that same fierce love for me as I do for my daughter.  I don’t think there’s a better feeling in the world than that. No one will love you like your mom and sometimes it takes becoming a mom to truly understand that. I sincerely hope you take as many chances as you can throughout the year to show her how much you love and appreciate her as well.

Here are a couple different ideas for some fantastic organic gifts that I think any mom in your life would appreciate this Mother’s Day.

Custom Organic Gift Baskets

You can really do any kind of basket you want. What does your mom like? Coffee, Chocolates, spices, tea, snacks?

Organic tea basket

Pick out a few organic teas – these are some great brands:

If she likes a little sweetener you can add in a liquid stevia or raw honey

Organic Essential Oils/Aromatherapy Basket

Essential oils are wonderful to use for making home care products and diffusing in the air. Add a few essential oils in this basket with a diffuser.

Organic Spa Basket

What mom doesn’t want to relax? I know I do. Here are some of my favorite items to make a nice organic spa basket.

There are so many types of baskets you could make. You could do an Italian Style basket and fill it with organic pastas, spices and sauce.  What about an organic snack basket? You can fill it with things like organic popcorn, chips, crackers and cookies? Whatever gift you decide to give to your mom this Mother’s Day, is going to perfect. After all it’s not the gift that matters, it’s the person giving the gift! Happy Mother’s Day

What organic gift ideas do you have this Mother’s Day?  

Organic Foods to Ease the Winter Blues

organic foodsDo you find yourself depressed during the fall and winter months? Do you feel a lack of interest in activities, or feel socially withdrawn? Maybe you tend to gain weight or have a loss of appetite. These are all possible symptoms of having the winter blues also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  No fear, I’m here to give you few tips on what organic foods you can eat to help you with your winter blues!

Organic Foods for the Winter Blues

Leafy Greens

Leafy greens are packed with magnesium, iron, B vitamins, Vitamin C, and Vitamin A. They are also a wonderful source of phytonutrients, helping boost the mood and prevent anxiety. Eat them lightly sautéed, throw them in your smoothie, or eat them raw in a salad.

Proteins

Eggs, fish, shell fish and yogurt are all excellent choices, all of which have a ton of vitamin B12. When we are deficient in B12, we are more prone to winter blues and depression.  B12 is commonly found in animal proteins. If you are a vegan or vegetarian, you’ll find B12 in nutritional yeast and in fortified non-dairy milks.

Onions

Onions are a high source of antioxidants, not only that they also help to lower stress and inflammation. Onions are also full of vitamin C, which help boost a good mood and prevent depression.

Dark Chocolate

Research has shown that dark chocolate that is at least 70 percent cocoa kicks in the production of certain chemicals believed to up the levels of dopamine in your brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter similar to adrenaline in that it helps block different kinds of pain. So when you’re down, pick up a bar with the highest cocoa content you can find and start feeling better instantly. Dark chocolate also lessens cravings for sweet, salty, and fatty foods.

Oranges

Navel oranges contain about 60% (more than milk) of your daily calcium requirements. Calcium is a critical nutrient needed for preventing stress and depression.  Oranges and leafy greens’ are a much healthier way to get your calcium requirements, and they are full of other nutrients as well. Oranges are especially high in Vitamin B6 and folate, two critical nutrients for preventing unfavorable moods and depression.

Omega 3′s

Omega-3 fatty acids have been praised for their numerous health benefits, including possibly influencing your moods. One study from the University of Pittsburgh found that people with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids were less likely to experience moderate or mild symptoms of depression. The highest sources of omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, walnuts, and flax seed/flax seed oil.

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds contain the amino acid tryptophan (like turkey), which lowers stress, prevents depression, and helps with anxiety. Pumpkin seeds are also incredibly high in protein. They are one of the only seeds to promote alkalinity in the body, which fights inflammation due to stress and a poor diet.

Other Alternatives for Easing the Winter Blues

Vitamin D

The kind of vitamin D I’m talking about is the sunshine (unfortunately there are not many food sources with Vitamin D). Yes, it’s not a food, but it’s worth mentioning here. Vitamin D, has been linked to huge increases in immunity as well as lowering depression symptoms. The best way is to be out in the sunshine. If you are lacking in sun, I would talk to your health care professional about a good Vitamin D3 supplement.

Exercise

As with other forms of depression, exercise can help alleviate seasonal affective disorder. Outdoor exercise will be most helpful. If you can’t exercise outside because it’s cold, rainy or snowy, choose the treadmill, stationary bike, or elliptical machine nearest the window at the gym, or exercise in the comforts of your own home. Do what you can, no excuses. Exercise will also help offset the weight gain that is common with the winter blues.

Have you ever experienced the winter blues? If so, what are your favorite ways to make yourself feel better?

Healthy Eating In The New Year: 10 Green Foods You Should Be Eating

It’s 2015, Happy New Year! This year why not start things out right with committing to healthy eating. There are many ways to go about this, but today let’s talk about the top ten green foods that you should be eating. Adding a combination of these foods to your diet will benefit your health greatly! Maybe there are a few on this list you never tried. Introducing new foods into your diet is a cornerstone of healthy eating. It ensures that you get a variety of different minerals and vitamins, which bring different nutritional benefits.

10 Healthiest Green Foods You should be Eating

 1. Spinachhealthy eating

“Spinach makes ya strong!” That has been the Popeye tale for most of us, and that’s because this dark leafy green food is rich in iron. 1 cup of uncooked spinach has nearly 2mg of iron and only 15 calories. It is also a good source of fiber and has a small amount of protein. It is loaded with vitamin A, folate (folic acid), vitamin C and some vitamin E. The minerals Potassium, magnesium and calcium in spinach are high. Spinach can be a wonderful substitute for lettuce in salads, and lightly cooked spinach is concentrated in nutrients.

2. Asparagus

Asparagus is spring vegetable and the part we eat is actually the young underground sprouts or shoot. The asparagus tips are actually little flowers. Asparagus spears are often more expensive than other vegetables, because of their short season and the work it takes to harvest them. Asparagus have a good amount of vitamin c, vitamin A, sulfur, folic acid and potassium. It has some iron, calcium, magnesium and iodine and a little zinc as well.

3. Avocados

These are one of my most favorite foods ever. Avocados do contain a lot of fat (about 23 grams in a medium-sized fruit), but it’s the cholesterol-lowering monounsaturated kind that nutrition experts love. Avocados also contain lutein, an antioxidant that protects eye health, and they also have some vitamin c, good amounts of vitamin A and a bit of vitamin E. Avocados are a wonderfully versatile addition to salads, tacos, soups, and on sandwiches in place of mayonnaise.

4. Kale

On top of delivering a raft of cancer-fighting antioxidants, kale is one of the vegetable world’s top sources of vitamin A, which promotes eye and skin health and may help strengthen the immune system. It’s a good source of heart-healthy fiber and a 1-cup serving has almost as much vitamin C as an orange.  Kale is also high in the minerals magnesium, potassium and iron and well known for folate (folic acid), which makes this also a wonderful food to eat during all stages of pregnancy including pre and post pregnancy as well (that is true for all leafy greens).

5. Brussel Sprouts

These are one of the cruciferous vegetables recently known for their ability to reduce cancer risk. Even though they are not many people’s favorite vegetable to eat – because of their peculiar taste (which is actual sulfur) and the fact that many people find they are gas producing, they however, are loaded with nutrition – they are high in vitamin A and C, folate (folic acid), and fiber and also fairly high in calcium, sulfur of course, phosphorus and potassium. Now only if we can get our children to eat them that would be an awesome accomplishment on all levels!

6. Kiwi

Had to have a few fruits in here! Research shows kiwifruit is surprisingly nutrient-dense. These fuzzy, little, green fruits provide 230 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C (almost twice that of an orange), more potassium than a banana, and 10 percent of the recommended daily allowances of vitamin E and folate. It’s also a good source of filling fiber. Slice some kiwi into your cereal, yogurt, or salad for a refreshing health boost. My kids like to cut them in half and eat them with a spoon!

7. Green Tea

I know this isn’t something you “eat” but I’m throwing this in there because I think it can be very beneficial to add to your healthy lifestyle and it’s green – it has it in the name! Green tea is an excellent source of catechins, another type of antioxidant. A subgroup of this compound known as EGCG has been studied for its potential role in preventing cancer and heart disease. One study showed that drinking one cup of green tea per day could decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease by 10 percent.

8. Leeks

Leeks owe many of their anti-cancer superpowers to their sulfur compounds. These nutrients have been credited with everything from kicking cancer to boosting immunity. Studies also suggest leeks could help protect the digestive system from stomach and gastric cancers. They are a high fiber food that are related to green onions. They are mainly carbohydrate and fiber. They are also rich in potassium, iron and calcium and high in vitamin c.  They can be stemmed or sautéed with other vegetable or used in soup.

9. Cucumbers

The ‘coolest” of the vegetables, cucumbers are actually used medicinally for burns or irritated tissues. That’s why you always see cucumber slices on eyes, because it helps with stress, bags under eyes and inflammation or irritation. Cucumbers are eaten in their unripe state and usually raw. Interestingly they are not very high in any nutrient, but the seeds are actually the best source of vitamin E. Cucumbers also have some vitamin A and C.

10. Seaweed

Seaweed is gaining popularity, in part because it’s chock-full of minerals. Seaweed is a solid source of iodine (essential for thyroid health), packs a healthy dose of iron, and has unique anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties. Select a seaweed salad appetizer or sushi rolls made with nori next time you order Japanese food.

Healthy eating can be accomplished in so many different ways. Eating and introducing these green foods is just another simple way to become a healthier you! What green foods do you like best, and what green foods are you curious to try?

Stress Busting Organic Foods for the Holiday Season

The jam-packed parking lots, the shopping and crowds, the back-to-back diet-busting parties. The interminable chats with the in-laws, and even finances take a toll. We understand how easy it is to feel not so wonderful at this most wonderful time of the year.  That’s why I’ve rounded up some healthy organic foods that are perfect for beating those oh so common holiday blues.organic foods

First, What Does Stress do to the Body?

Stress is awful, it weakens your immune system, strains your heart, dampens your sex drive, creates aches and pains, and can wreak havoc on your digestive system. Your body can only work with what you feed it, so if you consume junk (processed foods), you’re going to feel junky in return. Filling and nourishing your body with the right organic foods can help keep your mood bright and the above stressors rolling off your back.

Foods That Add Stress to Body

So which foods should we avoid? The following foods increase stress and anxiety by either stimulating the brain the wrong way or putting the body under stress during the digestion process. Foods to avoid include:

  • Coffee, energy drinks, sodas, and other caffeinated drinks
  • Alcohol
  • Refined sugars
  • Fried foods
  • Foods high in polyunsaturated fats found in processed foods

Now that you know what to avoid, let’s get down to what foods will help you bust the stress.

Stress Busting Organic Foods

  • Asparagus, yes I know, these skinny little stalks are known to make your urine smell funny. But they are high in folate, which is essential for keeping your cool.
  • Turkey - here’s the reason you feel so relaxed after eating turkey. The acid known as L-tryptophan is releasing serotonin, a chemical that calms your brain. The best turkey to buy is pasture raised turkeys.
  • Blueberries have some of the highest levels of an antioxidants and they’ve been linked to all kinds of positive health outcomes, including sharper cognition. But all berries, including strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries, are super rich in vitamin C, which has been shown to be helpful in alleviating stress.
  • Dark Green Leafy Vegetables Greens carry lots of B vitamins, including folate, like asparagus, which is important for easing symptoms of depression, relieving stress, and reducing anxiety. Good choices are kale, spinach, arugula, and Swiss chard.
  • Cashews are an especially good source of zinc. Just 1-ounce serving has 11 percent of your daily allowance. Low levels of zinc have been linked to both anxiety and depression. Since our bodies have no way of storing zinc, it’s important to get some every day.
  • Honey - You’ll get an instant kick and energy for the long haul. Plus, research shows that its antioxidant and antibacterial properties may improve your immunity.
  • Chamomile teaProbably the most recommend bedtime soothers around, but in addition to helping sleep it also helps calm the nerves.
  • Fatty Fish like salmon, herring, and tuna, are high in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins B6 and B12. These essential nutrients promote healthy brain function and elevate your mood—two important aspects of fighting stress.
  • Almonds & Sunflower Seeds – These easy-to-find crunchy snacks cut stress like a sharp knife. They contain riboflavin, zinc, magnesium, vitamin E, and other important vitamins and minerals. Snacking on seeds and nuts throughout the day can prevent stress from building up. To maximize nutrition benefits, opt for raw varieties over salted and roasted.
  • Pumpkin Seeds contain L-tryptophan, which helps with good sleep, lowering depression and combating stress. Tryptophan is converted into serotonin (the feel good hormone) and niacin. Serotonin is also very helpful in helping us to have a good night’s sleep.
  • Dark Chocolate, in particular, is known to lower blood pressure, adding to a feeling of calm. It contains more polyphenols and flavonols—two important types of antioxidants. You can safely allow yourself dark chocolate as a snack once a week, or as a conscious indulgence.

I hope you can incorporate some of these stress boosting organic foods into your diet and even your holiday meals to help you calm those holiday blues!

What are your favorite ways to relieve stress during the holidays?

Beyond Probiotics: Maintain Healthy Digestion During the Holidays

Let’s start with a recap of what probiotics are. Probiotics are the friendly bacteria in probioticsour digestive system.  They help to improve absorption of nutrients and vitamins. Improved absorption means good digestion.  This allows your body to get the most nutritional value from the foods you eat and helps to regulate your digestive system. Sounds good, right? Well, with the holiday season being the dietary minefield that it is we wanted to give you some tips on how to keep your digestion on track this holiday season!

Now that we know what probiotics are, where do we get them?

Probiotic supplements are an excellent choice, they add healthy bacteria to the digestive tract, and actually digest sugars for their own fuel. They are a great antidote when we eat too many sweets, which is perfect for the holiday season. Probiotics are also found in cultured/fermented foods, such as yogurt (good quality) kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, and probiotic drinks. Eating and drinking these foods daily will ensure a healthy digestive tract.

What Else Can We do To Help Digestion?

  • One of the primary ingredients to good digestion is water. Many of us are chronically dehydrated, so be sure to drink plenty of filtered water or herbal teas. Adequate hydration can curb excessive food cravings, and help us to not overeat, especially for sweets.
  • Sit down to eat. People tend to eat more and more quickly when they’re standing or walking than they do when they’re sitting. It seems like a fairly simple rule, you may be surprised how effective it can be. Sitting down is also less stress on your body because you are more relaxed and being relaxed helps our digestion work better.
  • Eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly.  Ideally, you should chew your food until it is liquid.  I know sounds gross, right? But your gut will love you. You will be satisfied with less food and you will have better digestion. Your saliva actually has enzymes that facilitate digestion. Also, it is easier to digest small particles than large ones. Most people eat too fast. Not chewing well stresses your digestive system and can lead to poor absorption of nutrients, digestive problems like gas and bloating and promote the growth of harmful bacteria in the digestive tract which can lead to leaky gut and much worse.
  • Drink warm liquids before meals. Drinking warm water with lemon, Apple Cider Vinegar or broth, tea (peppermint or dandelion are good choices for digestion), or soup before a meal (15-30 minutes before) will prepare the digestive tract for digestion.
  • Add more veggies to your diet. Increasing intake of fruits and vegetables with high water content, especially raw, will help digestion and increase bowel transit time.
  • Avoid ice water as it suppresses circulation to the digestive tract.

I hope these tips help you this holiday season! Do you know any of more tips to help improve digestion? Share below!

The Best Natural Sweeteners for Diabetics

natural sweetenersWhether you’re diabetic or not, sugar and even some other natural sweeteners are something you should be wary of. Don’t think that just because the package says sugar-free, that it’s good for you. Instead, let that be a red flag. This will give you the opportunity to turn that package around and give the ingredients label a good look. Key words you are looking to avoid are:

  • ACESULFAME POTASSIUM, ACESULFAME K or ACE-K
  • ASPARTAME
  • SACCHARIN
  • SUCRALOSE

All the above are ingredients that must be avoided, not just by diabetics, but for all of us. In the grocery stores you will see them labeled as Equal, Sweet-Low, Splenda and NutraSweet. These artificial sweeteners are used in snack foods, dairy foods, processed fruits, jams and jellies, sugar-free drinks, soda and other carbonated beverages, baked goods, condiments, chewing gum, supplements, and even in infant and children’s medicine. Why are they so bad? Well, long-term exposure to these chemicals has been found to promote memory loss, hypoglycemia, multiple sclerosis (MS), dementia, nausea, migraines, sleep problems, vision impairment, depression and anxiety, Parkinson’s disease and brain tumors.

Best Natural Sweeteners For Diabetics

Xylitol

This natural sweetener is an all-natural sugar alcohol found in many fruits and vegetables and produced in small amounts by the human body. Xylitol is absorbed slowly and only partially utilized by the body, which means fewer calories. It can be substituted for most common sweeteners without compromising taste or texture. Xylitol has a few benefits too, it helps create a barrier between germs and your gums and has been shown to be beneficial for dental health. It’s why you’ll find a lot of chewing gums using this natural sweetener. Also, in addition of xylitol to saline nasal sprays, has been shown to make them more effective at improving and maintaining upper respiratory health. Xylitol helps prevent the causes of sinus issues and upper respiratory discomfort by stimulating the body’s natural cleansing process to clear away contaminants and irritants in the nasal passages (*Xylitol is highly dangerous for dogs so make sure to keep any xylitol products out of their reach. Even small amounts from candies can be toxic. If your dog eats a product that contains xylitol, it is important to take the dog to a veterinarian immediately.)

Erythritol

Discovered in 1848 and produced from Natural Sugar Cane Juice, which is naturally fermented and crystallized to create natural Erythritol. Erythritol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol that is found in our bodies, as well as in many fruits, vegetables and even certain fermented foods. It has 95 percent less calories than sugar, although the FDA does label it as having little calories and a glycemic index of zero, Erythriotol makes an ideal sweetener for people with diabetes. So while it sweetens, it does without adding calories or spiking blood sugar the way other sweeteners do. And because it doesn’t ferment in your gut, you can use it without worrying about other unpleasant digestive issues that are often associated with other sugar alcohols.

Stevia

Is my top choice for diabetics for adding a little sweetness to their life. Stevia is a naturally occurring extract from the sweet leaf of a plant that belongs to the sunflower family. It has been used since early times as a sweet source (the leaves are 30- times sweeter than sugar). It grows in South America, and the leaves are similar in shape to the mint family. The great thing about Stevia is that it has virtually no calories, no sugar, and has no affect on blood sugar. Because Stevia is many times sweeter than sugar, it takes very little to make things sweet.

Further reading:

Are you a diabetic or watching your sweeteners? Which natural sweeteners do you like best?

How to Keep Your Family from Getting Sick This Cold & Flu Season

flu seasonIt’s that time of year again, the wonderful holiday season which unfortunately means the dreaded cold and flu season. It’s the time of year when the weather is starting to cool and we are spending more of our time indoors and because of the back-to-back holidays it’s also the time of year when sweets like Halloween candy, Christmas cookies and caramel pumpkin lattes etc. are in full force. Most people don’t know that all those sweets (sugar) really take a toll on our immune systems which makes fighting illness more and more difficult.

With the following tips for boosting your immune system not only will it help protect you and your family against the cold and flu season, you can take control of your health and trim your time spent feeling under the weather during the holidays.

Immune Boosting Tips For Cold & Flu Season:

Eating Healthy

Sounds like a given right? Truth is many of us don’t know what it means to eat healthy. When it comes to boosting our immune system the best thing you can do is ditch the processed foods. Processed foods are packed with all kinds of sugars which impair our immunity. When building your immune system whole foods (foods with 1 ingredient) are going to be your best bet.

Sleep

When it comes to your immunity system, sleep is extremely important. When we are sleeping our immune system really kicks into gear and helps us recover more quickly from illness and much more. Need help on getting a good night’s rest? Visit my sleep solutions post for some tips.

Exercise

While colder weather may trigger an urge to curl up in a blanket with a cup of tea, moving your body and exercise will actually boost its immune function. In a 2006 study, researchers at the University of Washington enrolled 115 women in either a weekly 45-minute stretching session or 45 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five days a week. After 12 months, the exercisers had developed significantly fewer colds than the stretchers did. Don’t let the word exercise intimidate you. A brisk walk with the family for 20-30 minutes will do your body good!

Supplements

I love supplements. Good quality, properly sourced supplements can be very beneficial to our health and to help boost our immune system. Ideally we strive to get all the nutrients we need through an optimal diet, but sometimes we just can’t get all of one nutrient with the food we eat, and need to make up the difference in supplement form. The best supplements that I like to take during flu season are:

  • Fermented Cod Liver Oil – Contains Vitamins A and D, which are both necessary for many aspects of health, Immunity being a big one. While we can get Vitamin D from sunlight, Vitamin A can be harder to consume or absorb and fermented cod liver oil is an excellent source.
  • Probiotics - 70-80% of our immunity resides in our gut which makes probiotics very important for a healthy immune system. Probiotics help populate our gut with all that good bacteria (flora) which will help fighting sickness. Probiotics are especially important to take if you have ever been on antibiotics because while antibiotics can be useful in some cases they also destroy not only the bad bacteria, but the good bacteria as well.
  • ZincIs great for the immune system and can prevent a cold or flu virus from reproducing and can even help relieve respiratory symptoms. Adults should consume 50-75 mg a day when sick in capsule or lozenge. Those who avoid meat could be at risk for deficiency the recommended daily intake (RDI) is 15mg/day.

More Immune Boosting Tips

Coconut oil

Coconut oil is known to boost the immune system. It has antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. It is high in lauric acid and is thought to dissolve the lipid coating around some viruses and make them more susceptible to attack by the immune system. If sick, aim for 5-6 tablespoons per day in food or melted and stirred into hot tea.

Elderberry Syrup

Elderberry increases the production non-inflammatory infection-fighting cytokines as much as 10 fold. Elder berries are known to be effective against eight strains of influenza. This suggests that elder be superior to vaccines in preventing flu, because flu vaccines are only effective against known strains of flu, whereas the virus is continually mutating to new strains. I make elderberry syrup all year round but I especially like to make sure I have it one hand from September – April.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Is wonderful at helping the body to alkalize. When our body is alkalized it helps kill bacteria and virus. Yes, it tastes awful, but if you add 1 tablespoon to an 8oz glass of water and add a little raw honey, it’s actually pretty tasty!

More resources for cold/flu season:

How do you plan on keeping your family healthy during this cold and flu season? 

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