Snacks on the Go

snacks

As a holistic nutritionist I get a lot of the same questions from my clients. One of the top question/concerns I am asked is how to eat healthy when they are so busy. To which I usually ask them how their typical days go. Where is all there “extra” time (the time not at work, taking care of their kids or in an office) being spent?

And you know what I find…? There is usually time in there. Holes where we get sucked into watching a few too many Insta-stories or reading too many articles on the same thing or even working form home in front of the TV and not being as efficient as we could be. Believe me, I understand. I have these times too!

The first part of that answer is awareness around that time. Literally, get the stopwatch out and time yourself on some of those activities. I use this Miracle Cube Timer and it definitely helps keep me on track. What can you cut out, where can you make things more efficient?

One of the most important pieces of advice I ever got was “if it is important to you, you will find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.”

As soon as you evaluate where your time is REALLY going and make peace with your priorities you will magically find the time.

Something I help most of my clients do is find that time and make a plan to meal prep on the weekends. Sometimes we even go to the grocery store together, which helps point out what snacks and on-the-go items are great for a busy week. And I always do a free consult over the phone to make sure it’s a good fit for us both. Don’t hesitate to reach out or simply book an initial consultation.

The second part to this question is to reframe what it means to us to make the time to eat healthy. It shouldn’t be a chore. Literally, when we eat healthy we are nourishing our bodies on a physical level. But that food should be tasty and nourish our soul and spirit as well. Food is definitely medicine, but it should also be enjoyable, and come from a place of love and self-care for ourselves and those around us.

So, today I wanted to add a few ideas for healthy snacks-on-the-go. These are all things you can pick up at your local grocery store and have for when you you need that afternoon snack.

SNACK ON THE GO IDEAS

  • Kale Chips
  • Bone broth (find this in the freezer section) you can even add in wakame (dried seaweed)
  • Jerky (like Primal Classic Beef Jerky or other brands like Epic or vital choice Salmon Jerky)
  • Nuts, raw or sprouted are the best, but buy what you will eat.
  • Trail mix
  • Canned tuna with 5 celery sticks
  • Full-fat String Cheese
  • Coconut water or kombucha
  • Full-fat Cottage cheese or individual full-fat cheese products
  • Individual 4% (full-fat) yogurts, Sigi’s are great
  • Pre-popped popcorn or veggie chips
  • Pre-made bars, good ones: Bobo’s, RX bar, Primal Kitchen, That’s It, Two Mom’s, Marcobars and Perfect Bar (some of these are in the refrigerated sections)
  • Salsa and chips
  • Rice cakes (with avocado or nut butter on top)
  • Nut butters + apple, pear or other fresh fruit
  • Veggies and hummus, salsa, or guacamole
  • Deli-sliced meat (with cheese or veggies)
  • Fresh juice (from whole foods, or other health food store), just make sure it’s low in fruit or no fruit and that the veggies

Also, don’t worry, none of the above is sponsored, just things I like and recommend. And if you need more help with meal planning and preparation for the week to make eating healthy more efficient for you, please reach out. It’s LITERALLY what I do! 🙂

What other healthy snacks do you eat and enjoy?

The Mexican Matcha Recipe

Sorry friends for being MIA the last month. A few things have shifted in my life this past month and I was feeling the need to re-evaluate my blog and what I was doing with my nutrition practice. The summarized conclusion is that though I LOVE herbs and all they do, right now I need to focus more on nutrition from a whole foods basis. And while herbs are part of that Whole, they are just that, part of it. I want to focus more on the larger whole and writing more about that, example, good fats and proteins, why calorie counting is no good, what exercise does for our bodies and when it can be in our best interest to NOT do that HIIT workout. Those kinds of things.  So in the following weeks my intentions are to post more of that content with some herbal stuff sprinkled in here and there. What do you think? Are you feelin’ that? I know I am!

Now on to today’s post… a few of you know that I decided to do an elimination diet lately and I am just finishing up the reintroduction phase, and feeling good and excited to be done. In that process I had to give up my one and only coffee. Ugh! One of the harder things I have had to do, and it never gets easier. So this time I decided to lean on matcha lattes for my morning hot drink ritual. I know there are a lot of matcha lovers out there and a lot of recipes for how to make yours. So I thought I would jump in on that conversation and share mine, since I know a lot of people have asked me lately about it. I call mine the Mexican Matcha Latte because I add a little cinnamon to mine, kinda like a Mexican hot chocolate or horchata, plus, I am Mexican! Hehe! It’s pretty good!

matcha

 

The Mexican Matcha Latte

INGREDIENTS

1 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk (I use Califia) or coconut milk*

1/2 tsp ceremonial matcha powder ( I use Panatea or CAP beauty)**

1 tsp to 1 tbsp of coconut oil

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp honey or maple (optional)

1 tsp coconut butter (optional)***

 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Add milk to small sauce pan and heat on medium on the stovetop.
  2. With a small sieve (I use this) put your matcha and sift it into the milk. This just makes sure you don’t have clumps of matcha stuck at the bottom of your drink. You don’t want that, it’s such a sad waste of deliciousness. I promise this makes a world of difference!
  3. add in the rest of your ingredients and whisk up with a matcha whisk (like this) or I use an electric whisk that I love.
  4. Let it come to temperature (170 degrees is best) but I honestly just eyeball mine and get it right before it boils. Don’t let it boil though.
  5. Enjoy!

* If you don’t use or have the vanilla milk, no problem, simply use 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract to your mix. I just try to make it as simple for myself as I can and the unsweetened vanilla just eliminated one more step for me in the morning.

** Yes, it’s worth spending the money to get your ceremonial matcha. When I first started out I just bought the cheap for food-grade matcha and let me tell you, you have to use SO much more of it to get it to taste like matcha. So you really aren’t saving any money. SO buy the good stuff! It’s worth it.

*** The coconut butter adds a nice creaminess to the drink. I don’t always add it, but sometimes I do, I would definitely try it and see what you think. If I do this, I don’t add the coconut oil, but you can do both, there’s nothing wrong with this.

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Updated: I meant to add in the health benefits of this Mexican Matcha that I love!

Matcha – this powdered form of green tea leaves is full of antioxidants (one cup can provide up to as much as 5 times that of any other food, which supports a healthy immune system. It is loaded with Catechin (specifically EGCg) which has been shown to improve skin health and proven to fight cancer. It contains the amino acid L-Theanine which “promotes the production of alpha waves in the brain which induces relaxation without the inherent drowsiness caused by other “downers” as well as the precursor to dopamine and serotonin, which will enhance your mood, improve memory, and concentration, and promotes clean energy without the jitters form coffee. Matcha has also been shown to increase metabolism (without increasing heart rate or blood pressure) which can contribute to weight loss. The green color comes from chlorophyll, which helps the body detoxify heavy metals and other toxins from the body. Ummm… so, the real question is WHY WOULDN’T you drink it? 🙂

Coconut Oil – yup, this is a saturated fat, but wait, don’t worry! Saturated fats are not as evil as we were once told. New studies out there are showing that there is NO LINK TO HEART DISEASE. And in fact coconut oil is not made up of the traditional long-chain fatty acids that most saturated fats are. It’s made up of medium-chain fatty acids, therefore it metabolizes differently in our bodies. “They go straight to the liver from the digestive tract, where they are used as a quick source of energy or turned into so-called ketones, which can have therapeutic effects on brain disorders like epilepsy and Alzheimer’s” says Kris Gunnars a medical researcher. Coconut oil also contains Lauric Acid, which helpst o kill harmful microoganisms (bacteria, viruses and fungi). ANd because it’s a fat it helps out body absorb those fat-soluable vitamins we need from our food like Vitamin A, D, E, and K, provides a feeling of satiety in the body that can helps up feel fuller longer and eat less in the long run, contributing to weight loss for some. Finally, it’s wonderful for supporting balanced hormones and a healthy immune system.

Cinnamon – this spice has been known to reduce inflammation, is anti-microbial, helps with blood sugar control by slowing the rate at which the stomach empties itself after meals. The smell of cinnamon was studied and found to show that it boosts brain function. Lastly, this warming spice has been known to boost circulation of the blood and protect against heart disease and promote a better immune system.

So drink up buttercup!

Herb of the Week # 14 :: Ashwaganda

This week’s been a busy one and I have had a bit of a hard time focusing, feeling like I was spinning my wheels and doing it all but still doing nothing. Do you ever feel like that? So I found myself drawn back to this wonderful plant, Ashwagandha. I could have written an entire research paper on it. THere’s so many studies out there on it and it’s so fascinating at the range it can do to the body. I hope you enjoy reading about as much as you do using it! It’s almost one of those herbs that’s wonderful for everyone at some point in their lives.

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Botanical Latin Name: Withania somnifera

Botanical Family: Solanaeace (nightshade) family

Parts used: Root

Method: Tea, tincture, food

Actions: sedative, hypotensive, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulation, adaptogenic, tonic, antispasmodic, nervine, aphrodisiac

Energetics: Drying, cooling and warming

Taste: complex, bitter, flowery, earthy

Dosage: Tea – Decoct 1 tbsp of the dried root per cup (8 oz) of water. Tincture use up to 2 droppers full (60 drops) 3-4 times daily; or supplement with 500 mg 1-2 times daily up to 3-6 grams of the dried herb; additionally it’s been show that eating healthy fats, protein and carbs in addition to removing grains and sugars from the diet help to improve results. And as a note, I generally tell people they should feel a difference in about 3-4 weeks, but need to take it for a minimum of 3 months and up to a year for full benefits, depending on how much help the body needs.

Contraindications: Don’t use if you’re pregnant. This is also a nightshade, so if you know you have an allergy to that family or get a headache while taking please avoid this one. (There’s lots of other great adaptogens out there for everyone.) avoid with pharmaceutical sedatives and pain medications.

Chances are if you are reading this you already know what ashwagandha and adaptogens are. But in case you are crawling out from under a rock let me fill you in on what those trendy things mean. Adaptogens refer to herbs that help our bodies cope and adapt to the stress in our bodies and bring it back to balance. See the “Dosage” up above for how to take this herb to get the full benefits. The only other caveat I have on using adaptogens in general, not just ashwagandha, is that if you are in adrenal fatigue or to the point of burnout exhaustion, you most likely need to take a nutritive nervine herb (like milky oats, lemon balm or skullcap)  for at least 2 weeks before you start using adaptogens. The reason I say this is because if there is nothing in your body, nervines will help to bring some emotional balance back, nourishing the body, reducing anxiety and anything else that might be going on. Then the adaptogens will work much better.

If ever there was a gateway adaptogenic herb, to me it would without a doubt be Ashwagandha. It’s referred to as “Indian ginseng” and has been used in many similar ways as Asian ginseng to reduce stress and enhance stamina. And in India it’s known as the “strength of a stallion” because it was traditionally used to strengthen the immune system after illnesses. It’s also known to restore energy, help you look younger and reverse disease! Herbalist and functional medicine doctor Aviva Romm calls ashwagandha the “soothing” adaptogen. It is one of those rare herbs that is both calming and energizing.

Dr. Josh Axe wrote a great article on Ashwagandha and it’s benefits. He says “there have been over 200 studies on it’s ability” to heal the body. You can read more of the studies out there and how exactly it does this in his blog post here. It is generally regarded as a male tonic herb, but is also wonderful for women, especially those that may have adrenal overdrive or that “wired and tired” feeling.

Helpful uses for ashwagandha:

  • Improve thyroid function
  • Treat adrenal fatigue
  • Reduce stress
  • Increase stamina and endurance
  • Prevent and treat cancer
  • Improved neurological health, including concentration and memory
  • Stabilize blood sugar and reduce cortisol levels
  • Lower cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Boost immunity
  • Balancing hormones
  • Hypo and Hyper thyroid
  • Improves mood, anxiety and depression (recent study its results were comparable to common pharmaceutical drugs lorazepam and imipramine without the side effects)
  • Prevents and treats cancer
  • Boost testosterone and increase fertility in men
  • Increase muscle mass and strength
  • Reduce inflammation and chronic joint pain
  • Normalize adrenal function
  • Fatigue relieving
  • Improve sleep
  • Anemia

De-Stress Balls

1 cup nut butter (sugar free, you can always make your own)

1/3 cup dried apricots

1/3 cup cacao nibs

2 tbsp chia seeds

2 tbsp raw honey or maple syrup

2 tbsp ashwagandha powder (sun potions makes a great one)

1 tsp cinnamon

coconut flakes for rolling ball in

Mix all ingredients except the coconut flakes in your food processor until mixed well. Roll the mixture into bite-sized balls. Then roll in coconut flakes. Wrap them in plastic or wax paper and store them in the refrigerator or freezer. Enjoy as a snack, pre or post workout or in addition to your breakfast.

* If you ever have any questions on if you should use this herb in your diet or not, contact a medical professional or holistic practitioner first.

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Herb of the Week #13 :: Dandelion

I just got back from an amazing ski trip with a few old friends and I am definitely feeling the effects of a not-so-clean eating life 😉 But it was worth it and I didn’t do all that bad. I think it’s also good to not have restrictions and rules ALL the time. So, between the glasses of wine and skiing (not in that order, I promise) I had fun and am ready to get back into it, these seasonal allergies are kicking my butt the last few days. So starting in a few days I am going on my Nutrition. Designed. elimination diet. This weeks’ plant is great for kick-starting that process, getting off coffee and help with a healthy functioning liver and kidney’s.

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Botanical Latin Name: Taraxacum officinale

Botanical Family: Asteraeace (aster) family

Parts used: Whole plant, leaf and root

Method: Tea, tincture, food

Actions: anti-inflammatory, lymphoguge, diuretic, alterative,

Energetics: cooling and drying

Taste: slightly bitter and sweet

Dosage: Tea – infuse 1 tsp of the root or 1 tbsp of the dried leaf to 8 oz of water, steep for 15-20 minutes, drink 1-4 cups daily. Tincture use up to 2 droppers full (60 drops) 1-4 times daily

Contraindications: Don’t use if you have bile duct obstruction, gallbladder or GI inflammation, or intestinal blockage, or if you are on a prescription diuretic

According to Rosemary Gladstar, there are a handful of herbs that should be staples in a regular diet and they fall into 3 categories: nutritive, tonic and longevity. The Nutritive herbs for daily use are horsetail, passionflower, cleavers, chickweed, red clover and lemon balm, these are like taking a natural multivitamin and multi-mineral. Rosemary Gladstar also says these tonic herbs “feed, tone, rehabilitate and strengthen particular body systems.” While longevity herbs don’t necessarily extend your life, but rather make the quality of life better as you grow older. This week’s herb falls into two of those 3 categories! Dandelion is a tonic and longevity herb.

It is restorative and rejuvenating, and particularly helps with blood, kidney and liver functions. It is also a bitter that helps with digestion and bile flow. It supports healthy water elimination without compromising potassium reserves.

Dandelion is also high in vitamins and minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, and vitamins A and C.

Helpful uses for lemon balm:

  • Lower high blood pressure or cholesterol
  • Liver function and jaundice
  • Hepatitis
  • Stimulate digestive enzymes to breakdown foods better
  • Sluggish bile production
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Chronic skin problems: acne (esp. with whiteheads), psoriasis, eczema
  • Arthritis and gout
  • Edema (with PMS, bloating)
  • Normalize blood sugar levels
  • Female issues
  • Heavy, acidic urine
  • Anemic
  • Varicose veins
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Mastitis or mammary cancer
  • Non-specific colitis
  • Dizziness
  • Sleepiness

Not only is dandelion a great tea and medicine, it is great as food too. It can be used in stir-frys, salads and pesto. And the roasted root is often turned to as a coffee substitute.

How have you used it? I’d love to hear! Please share in the comments!

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Herb of the Week No. 12 :: Lemon Balm

When I moved from Los Angeles to Denver in early 2015, I went from apartment living my entire adult life to what I like to call a “grown-up” house. It’s not anything huge, just perfect for two people and two dogs, including a yard for gardening and of course lots of room for dog-play.

Of course when we moved in it was during a freak blizzard that left more than 2 feet of snow on the ground. So, it wasn’t until a few months later that I realized what had already been planted in our yard. Coming from the desert and beaches of southern California coupled with apartment living, my knowledge of plants was limited to succulents, herbs for the kitchen and a few potted indoor house plants.

When I saw the ground defrosting and all these little buds coming up everywhere it was magical. I would constantly ask my neighbors what this was and what that was, exploring new nurseries, joining the Denver Botanic Gardens and quickly upping my plant game.

It wasn’t until about a year into living in the new house and wondering what that lemon-y-pledge smell around us was, that I realized I had lemon balm growing in masses on the side of our house. Before the next freeze hit I gathered up those beauties and dried them for tea and tinctures.

When I started my work at Apothecary Tinctura I realized what an amazing herbal medicine lemon balm was. And I found it not coincidence that nearly everything it did I needed in my life. I heard the term “plant ally” thrown around a lot and was never truly sure what it meant until now. Lemon balm was my first plant ally.

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Botanical Latin Name: Melissa Officinalis

Botanical Family: Lamiaeace (mint) family

Parts used: ariel parts

Method: Tea, tincture

Actions: Nervine, sedative, antidepressant, antianxiety, antispasmodic, vasodilating, hypotensive, antimicrobial, antiseptic, antiviral, carminative, febrifuge, hepatic

Energetics: neutral to slightly warming

Taste: slight lemon taste and smell, sweet, aromatic, sour

Dosage: Tea – infuse 1 tbsp dried herb to 8 oz of water, steep for 10-15 minutes, drink 1-4 cups daily. Tincture use up to 2 droppers full (10-60 drops) 1-4 times daily, or 2-3 grams of dried herb daily

Contraindications: Pregnancy; Hypothyroidism

Lemon balm is one of the best nervines out there, helping to calm the nerves and heart, aiding in relief with anxiety, mild depression, restlessness, irritability and stress. Ummm… Yes please!

It’s also known as balm, bee balm, and sweet balm. It’s a very nutritive herb, high in magnesium, calcium, B vitamins and protein and great to drink as part of your daily tea. It is part of the mint family, even looks a little like mint, but mostly has a mild lemon taste. It’s easy to drink alone, but I usually end up blending mine with a few other herbs like nettles or oats and chamomile, great for day or night time.

Due to it’s relaxing and antispasmodic effects, it’s great for stomach issues or any digestive distress. Also great for general exhaustion, overactive or stimulated mind and body, and those always on the go. Naturopath doctor, JJ Pursell in her book The Herbal Apothecary says, “Anytime our body is in overdrive, including the physical manifestations of heart palpitations, high blood pressure, manic thinking, and shortness of breath, lemon balm is advised.”

Lemon balm is also antiseptic and antiviral, which also makes it fantastic and an excellent choice for herpes outbreaks. You can use a cream based formula, tincture, essential oil or hydrosols.

Lemon balm is also a mild heart medicine, known for its mild vasodilatation of the peripheral blood vessels and thus lowering blood pressure. This action also helps to promote sweating (diaphoretic) which can help reduce a fever in adults and is gentle enough to use with fevers in children as well. And will help relax the body as well. For some it can also be a mild sedative and help with insomnia.

Lemon balm has been known to be a great treatment for hyperthyroidism because it helps TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) levels, Specifically, it interferes with the binding of TSH to the thyroid cell membranes and prevents the incorporation of Iodine into T4 synthesis and conversion of T4 to T3. This is also why it generally suggested to avoid lemon balm if you have hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s. Though some experts say is helps to normalize all high and low thyroid levels, I always suggest asking your practitioner if you have questions.

Helpful uses for lemon balm:

  • Anxiety and mild depression
  • Irritability, restlessness, stress
  • Stomach and digestive issues
  • Relieves muscle tension
  • General exhaustion
  • Insomnia
  • Topical relief with herpes
  • Overstimulated mind and body
  • Hyperthyroidism and hyperadrenalism
  • Heart palpitations
  • Helps to lower blood pressure
  • Manic thinking
  • Shortness of breath
  • Reduce fevers
  • Migraines
  • Teething in children
  • ADHD
  • Colic
  • Spasms
  • Gout

I love lemon balm in about every form, but tea is always dear to my heart since it’s just so soothing to the soul. Here’s a few tea recipes from my previous posts that have lemon balm in them:

Sip, breath and enjoy!

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Herb of the Week #11 :: Eleuthero

I’m not sure about you, but I have started looking ahead at this year, making travel and work plans, and boy, it’s filling up FAST! It’s not even March yet! Whew! Additionally, I am studying to take a board exam in nutrition, that is totally optional, but being the type A personality that I am, if it’s out there and I can… I must and I will. So… I am definitely feeling the pressure lately.

On top of that I recently started upping my workout game a little. Before I get into that, I feel I have to share a brief history of why I took a break from working out, cause I am one of those weirdos that LOVES to workout and sweat. Back in the day, I used to be a high preforming, award-winning athlete through college, from high school volleyball where I made all-conference and represent Southern California in Amsterdam for an international conference to varsity crew at Georgetown and winning the big-east as a freshman. Additionally in college also fell in love with running and in my 20s started doing marathons and olympic triathlons. In addition to constantly training for races, compounding injuries and stress from a corporate job in design that I no longer wanted, I hit the wall as an athlete and as a regular human being.

I was diagnosed years later with Adrenal fatigue and exhaustion. And with the help of my naturopath and my nutrition education, I learned I needed to back off the intense exercise to heal my body and mind. Part of that healing included using adaptogenic herbs. So today I thought I would share one of my favorites from that group: Eleuthro, aka Siberian ginseng. This herb is not only great for helping us with stress mentally but also physically and is known to be great for athletes! Check it out!

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Botanical Latin Name: Eleutherococcus senticosus (Siberian ginseng)

Botanical Family: Araliaeace (ivy) family

Parts used: root

Method: Tea, tincture

Actions: Adaptogen, nervine, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory

Energetics: neutral to warming

Taste: neutral to mildly bitter

Dosage: Tea – infuse 1-2 tsp dried herb to 8 oz of water, steep for 10-15 minutes, drink 1-3 cups daily. Tincture use up to 2 droppers full (20-90 drops) 1-4 times daily, or 2-3 grams of dried herb daily

Contraindications: Eleuthero may interfere with some prescription drugs, such as cardiac medications and antibiotics, and caution with hypertension

Eleuthero (also referred to as Siberian ginseng) is one of the best known and widely used adaptogenic herbs. Adaptogens help our endocrine system, specifically the adrenal glands, adapt to the stress (internal or external) in our lives by regulating our adrenal stress response (for more on that and adrenal fatigue, I wrote an article). They strengthen our nervous system and build energy while also promoting calm in the body. It’s great for those in recovery from surgery or chronic disease.

Eleuthero helps the body to thwart environmental stressors and improves physical and mental performance. It does this in many ways, one is that it increases oxygen in the tissues and organs of the body, strengthens digestion and the immune system. For these reasons, It helps those with a general feeling of fatigue, weakness, depressed mood and lack of concentration, as well as supports athletes and those looking to increase endurance and stamina. Well-known herbalist and functional medicine doc Aviva Romm says “It is anabolic, which means it helps build muscle and prevents the breakdown of muscle as we age.” Yes please!

Eleuthero is known to boost and stimulate the male sex drive and reproductive health. Additionally, it can help with fading memory or memory loss.

It can safely be taken on a long-term basis and help to reduce infections and improve vitality and well-being. However, a general rule with all adaptogens is to take them for 6 weeks followed by a 2 week break to see Therefore, it’s a great general tonic for nearly everyone.

Note: All my nutrition and herbal knowledge is based in science, that was a large part of why I chose the school that I went to. If you ever want references please comment below or email me and I will send links to anything you need! And if you want those references cited in future posts, let me know too. I can definitely start doing that if it’s desired.

Helpful uses for eleuthero:

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Diabetes
  • hypotension
  • Cancer and radiation recovery
  • Neurosis
  • Adrenal exhaustion or fatigue
  • Kidney infection or disease
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Ease tension and anxiety
  • Immune help
  • General exhaustion or weakness
  • Boosts endurance levels
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Various types of neuroses
  • Reduce the severity and duration of herpes simplex 2 infections
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Mild depression
  • Balance hormones
  • Male virility and reproductive health and impotence
  • Improving memory
  • Dream disturbed sleep
  • Hyperglycemia and blood sugar regulation
  • Improves heat in body for those often cold
  • Improve detoxification

I am often making protein-packed energy balls for myself and husband for when we need to grab something before a workout, early morning or simply a tasty snack. This ball recipe was inspired by renown herbalist Rosemary Gladstar and her recipe for Zoom Balls in her book Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health. And the great thing about make energy balls, is that you can use whatever nut butters, fruits or powders you have around.

Rocket Balls

These are high in nutrients and minerals like iron, magnesium, B vitamins and zinc. They are great for energy, stimulate metabolism, promote healthy cells, support the immune system and satisfy your stomach.

2 cups tahini

2 cups almond or other nut butter

2 cups honey (local and raw)

1 cup chopped almonds or other nuts (I like to soak and sprout mine then re-dehydrate)

½ cup cacao powder

¼ cup bee pollen

3 tbsp eleuthero powder*

2 tbsp ashwaghanda powder*

2 tbsp reishi powder*

1 tsp ground cardamom

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground nutmeg

½ tsp cayenne powder

½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut (lightly toasted, optional)

Mix tahini, nut butter and honey together until smooth. Add in chopped almonds or other nuts, all powders and spices and mix well to incorporate. Feel free to add more honey or nut butter if desired. Roll into small balls and then roll in the shredded coconut to coat the outside. Store in sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or freeze for up to a month. Enjoy!

* I just grind my roots in a coffee or spice grinder, I find this is a little cheaper than buying powdered, unless I know I am going to use it more often.

If you make these I’d love to see your pictures and hear what you thought! Share here and on Instagram!

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Herb of the Week #10 :: Calendula

If you’re anything like me, you see the word “anti-inflammatory” everywhere. It’s become quite trendy. Everything is anti-inflammatory this and anti-inflammatory that. And I have found lately that trendy in nutrition isn’t quite the same as say trendy in something like fashion (and I don’t mean that in a negative way). Simply, meaning that in health and wellness trends happen for a reason that is bigger than just a trend. See, in nutrition school, I learned quickly that most health issues can be traced back to inflammation. Of course, this is a longer blog post in itself. But for now, this week herb is one of THE anti-inflammatory plants: Calendula 

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Botanical Latin Name: Calendula officinalis

Botanical Family: Asteraeace (pepper) family

Parts used: Flowers

Method: Tea, tincture, food

Actions: Antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, lymphatic, astringent, vulnerary, emmenagogue

Energetics: drying

Taste: bitter, salty, slightly sweet

Dosage: Tea, infuse 1-2 tsp dried herb to 8 oz of water, steep for 10-15 minutes, drink 1-3 cups daily. Tincture use up to 2 droppers full (5-60 drops) 1-3 times daily.

Contraindications: Don’t use if you have an allergy to the aster family; if taking sedatives or anti-inflammatory drugs; or possibly harmful if pregnancy or lactating

Calendula, also known as Marigold, is not just beautiful and cheery in the garden, it’s also great for us as well. The Egyptians even believed they had rejuvenating properties. Calendula helps in repairing cells and is antiseptic, helping to keep infections away. It is most commonly used externally on the skin for burns, scrapes or for soothing skin irritations like acne or eczema, due to its anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties.

Calendula is also great internally for the immune system and for those with swollen glands or congested lymph nodes. It is wonderful for our digestion and can help soothe cramps, gas or diarrhea. Those that feel worse in damp, cold, heavy, cloudy weather, or tend to cold easily will benefit from this herb. It can be used as a tea and tincture form, as well as, in soups, bone broths or in salads (see recipe below).

Helpful uses for calendula:

  • Externally on wounds and burns
  • Soothing acne, eczema, psoriasis, rashes
  • Fevers
  • GI issues like ulcers, stomach cramps, indigestion and diarrhea
  • Digestive inflammation
  • Relieve gallbladder issues
  • Helps with delayed menstruation (meaning it can aid in starting it)
  • Ease painful periods
  • Normalize menstruation
  • Herpes sores
  • Bruises and black eyes
  • Insect stings
  • Vaginitis
  • Athlete’s Foot
  • Itching
  • Sore nipples
  • Hypertension
  • Lymph-node congestion
  • Chronic infections

I love to use calendula oil topically since it’s antibacterial and soothes acne and eczema or for calming and healing burns, cuts and scrapes. Making it yourself is super simple!

Cold-Infused Calendula Oil*

1 ounce dried calendula flowers

16 ounces olive oil (other options almond or avocado, or jojoba, but note jojoba should not be used as a salad dressing, the others are all fine to be ingested)

Fill a quart mason jar about ¾ full (should be about 1 ounce of calendula flowers give or take). Then fill to the top with olive oil (about 16 ounces maybe slightly less). Cover with the lid and put in a sunny place to infuse for 4-6 weeks. You can shake it every now and then when you remember, but you don’t have to. When you are ready, drain the petals from the oil and keep in a new container for up to a year.

For a quicker method, you can grind the calendula up in a blender to make a powder and infuse it with the oil for 2 weeks or more for a stronger oil. Then strain with a cheese cloth.

When it’s done, it should be a golden orange color. You can use this on your skin, in a salve for chapped skin or lips, as a hair rinse, or even on salads! Enjoy!

You can also buy calendula in an essential oil. However, while I was doing some research for this post I came across this Dr. Mercola’s blog post, “Calendula oil is extracted by steam distillation. There is almost no way to obtain 100 percent pure calendula essential oil, so this makes calendula essential oil an infusion and not a pure extract.” Now, I do have the essential oil too, but I find I use the infused oil I make more and it’s more economical.

Other uses for the oil:

  • Moisturize dry or itchy skin
  • Heal cracked hands and feet
  • Massage into areas to help with varicose veins
  • Heal wounds, cuts, scrapes, burns, insect bites
  • Sooth sunburns
  • Calming diaper rash for babies
  • Oil pulling
  • Oil cleanser/moisturizer for trouble skin
  • Massage to abdomen then add heat pack for healing menstrual cramps

Calendula is also fantastic as a calming herbal facial steam. If anyone is interested in that drop me a line and I will send it over to ya!

*Organic is best, where possible

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Herb of the Week #9 :: Kava Kava

People generally say one of two things to me when they hear I am a nutritionist “oh, my eating is terrible” or “My eating is pretty health.” Both of those may be true but we are missing one element that can make both people the one eating well and the other one not-so-much that can make all the difference: stress! Without going into too much detail, I am working on writing a post on stress and how it affects our body on a physical level (I think we all know how it affects us on an emotional level) but until then, know that it very much affects how we digest or rather how we don’t digest our food is we are in a stressed state, which means that good (or bad) food we are eating is not being turned into the good vitamins and minerals that we need from it. And that’s just to start. It does so much more in our bodies as well! So the moral of todays story is, relax! Have a small cup of some kava tea. Take a minute or 5 to breath then enjoy your food. I promise just doing that will really improve your digestion and nutrient absorption.

And now to the relaxing and calming plant the week, Kava Kava!

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Botanical Latin Name: Piper methysticum

Botanical Family: Piperaeace (pepper) family

Parts used: roots

Method: Tea, Tincture

Actions: nervine, sedative, hypnotic, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, anesthetic, anti-fungal, anti-depressant

Energetics: warming, yang, earth/air

Taste: bitter, pungent, tongue-numbing

Dosage: Tea – infuse 1 tsp herb to 8 oz of water, steep for 10-15 minutes, drink 1-2 cups daily. Tincture use up to 2 droppers full (10-60 drops) 1-4 times daily.

Contraindications: pregnancy, lactation, hepatic diseases, liver disease, barbiturates and alcohol. Do not use more than 9 grams daily or for long term, this many affect liver enzymes. If you start to have scaly skin, stop using. Additionally, because of its desirable effects it tends to be overused. It is not meant to intoxicate, it can cause nausea, impairment and unconsciousness.

Kava kava is native to Polynesia. Originally it was used in its native countries for ceremonies, social functions, celebrations, and meetings. It’s known to ease social anxiety by calming the nerves and reducing the chances of conflict. There is a saying that “there can be no hate in the heart when one has kava.” Herbalist Rosemary Gladstar says “it is known to relax the body while awakening the mind.” It can help with tight muscles and pain, sleep and stress reduction.

Helpful uses for kava kava:

  • General and acute anxiety, depression and/or stress or panic attacks
  • Insomnia and aid in sleep
  • Muscle tension, spasms and pain
  • Asthma
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cystitis
  • Tension headaches
  • Attention deficit and hyperactivity
  • Topically for athlete’s foot or ringworm
  • Urinary tract infection, vulval itching, vaginitis
  • Gonorrhea
  • Toothaches
  • Emotional swings

Rosemary Gladstar has a kava punch concoction that she mentions in her book Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health. “Prepare a strong tea; add cinnamon, ginger and cardamom for flavor. Let the tea sit several hours or overnight, then strain. Add pineapple juice and coconut milk for flavor and serve chilled…It definitely seems to elevate the spirits and brighten the mood.”

There is even a kava bar here in Denver called Kavasutra. I haven’t been yet, but definitely want to try it out soon. Have you ever tried Kava? Thoughts?

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A Personal Update + How to Get Your Best Skin Ever & What they Don’t Tell You When You Finish Nutrition School

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I know. I know. That’s a very grand title. But I promise by the end of this post you will have the secret to your best skin ever.

Seriously. I’m not even joking.

For me, this journey for better skin (I had very acneic skin) began a long-ass time ago. I mean over 2 decades ago, when I was 14-years-old. It began when my periods became so painful that kept me home from school coupled with the pimple-laden skin that comes with being a hormonal teenager (sorry for those dudes reading this, I’ll just warn you now that this will be about hormones and the like). I sought out several medical opinions and was told by all of them that the best and only course of action to kill both birds with one stone was to get on a hormonal birth control pill.

So, at the young age of 14 I started on The Pill. As promised it was a miracle. It helped almost immediately with the painful periods and cleared up most of my acne. However, my periods were still painful, but just slightly less so that I could attend school and participate in other activities. I was still popping the 500-800 mg of Ibuprofen that my doctor said I safely could. Not once did anyone mention changing anything else in my life, diet, exercise, etc.

A few years later, when I moved across the country to the east coast to attend college, my acne came flooding back. Naturally, my first reaction was that this magic pill wasn’t so magical anymore and I must need something else. I found a new doctor and got on a new pill. Once again, it seemed to help a little but not to the extent I would have liked. I still had acne and I still have physical and mental pain from my cycle.

I thought there had to be something else I could do. I started getting regular facials and buying all the products I could afford (in hindsight, I couldn’t even afford that, I left school with more loans than I could repay). After all the pills and money spent, my acne was no better than before. Sure, for a few days after my facial it would be better, but it always came right back.

Four years later, I moved back to the west coast. I went into more debt, this time in credit card debt, still getting facials and buying products I couldn’t afford. I mean, now I was in Los Angeles after all, the city known for its good looks. Where money is just an illusion, Bentley’s are everywhere and everyone lives on credit. I had to do everything that I could to fit in and I knew acne was NOT tolerated.

It was during one of my monthly book club gatherings that one of the gals mentioned how bad birth control was for our bodies and that she decided to get off it after over a decade of being on it. I didn’t think too much of it at the time and rationalized that she was in a long-time committed relationship and could “afford” to try that experiment.

Slowly, one by one the ladies of book club all jumped on the no-birth-control bandwagon. I thought long and hard about it. But it wasn’t until I met my now husband in 2010 that I felt like I had the freedom to do this as well. In hindsight, I know that’s not true, but I was not the most responsible 20-something in Los Angeles. We all have the choice to do what ever we want. But it’s just that: how much do you want it?

In 2011, I finally decided after being in a committed relationship for over a year that I could and would finally get off this darn prescription. I quickly educated myself with the help of the internet and my doctor on how get off the pill and still not get pregnant. In addition, to good communication with my partner and using the Fertility Awareness Method, I could confidently get off the pill after over a decade of being on it.

At this point I was now in my late 20s. I thought all my hormonal issues from my early teens would surely be over. Oh, how wrong I was.

Dead. Wrong.

Not long after ditching the pill, the oh-so-painful periods flooded back and now with a new addition…painful ovulation (as you may-or-may-not-know the pill stops pregnancy by not allowing ovulation). Now, I was in pain twice a month, as well as, the ugly, painful acne I had as a teen was even worse now than I remembered in high school.

How was it that I was an adult now and still having all these issues?!?!

I started doing research on what else I could do to help my skin and menstrual pain. I knew getting off birth control was in a large part getting back to a more natural state of being. So, I knew I didn’t want to turn to western medicine again. It was clear to me that that didn’t solve anything, just merely masked the symptoms of a larger problem. I didn’t want to blame a doctor for thinking that this or any pill was magic and would solve my problems, but at the time I had a hard time maintaining any faith in allopathic medicine.

Here’s a fun fact: while I was in nutrition school I learned that most doctors only take the minimum required one to two classes in nutrition as a part of their 8-year medical degree? I know now that western medicine doctors are only doing what they are taught. For most of them medicine and practicing means is to treat symptoms not get to the root cause.

So, now what?

I found a holistic esthetician in Los Angeles who shared all her tips and tricks on getting better skin. But even after a year of working with her, taking a fair share of supplements and thinking I was eating healthy, still nothing changed.

What was I still missing?

Even my esthetician was stumped. She mentioned seeing a naturopathic doctor, and at the time I was like, what? what kind of doctor is that? I did my research and booked an appointment. We did a lot of blood work and she introduced me to my first elimination diet. I had eliminated gluten before, but only because all my friends were doing it and I thought I should check it out to see what the big deal was and what I was missing. I had no idea what I was in for. The results from the blood work that was done (the ELISA test) showed that I was basically allergic to all the foods I was eating on a regular basis. And in hindsight, knowing what I know now as a nutritionist and as someone who knows about many of the different types of testing that can be done I am not in full support of this type of testing for food allergies. Though it did shed light on what was going on, it speaks more to leaky gut than specific allergies to specific foods. And the elimination diet that I was put on was not the right one for what I needed.

To digress for a second, the term elimination diet is thrown around quite often these days and is pretty trendy. That being said, it is a great tool to healing the body and figuring out what is going on, as well. There are countless different types of elimination diets. The only true elimination diet is to exclude all the highly allergic foods (yes, there is an actual list) until you feel great. This could be as little as 3 weeks and as long as 3-6 months, depending on what is going on with your health and what the symptoms are. I have walked numerous clients through this process and support them with recipes, menu plans and emotional support as well, this process can bring up emotional issues along the way. If you’re interested feel free to get in touch with me for a free consult 🙂 They can be key in identifying what’s going on and how to make you feel your best.

Ok, back to my story…the naturopath doctor didn’t yield the results I expected. Ugh! Another dead end. I had little faith that this would even get solved. My family did have a history of bad acne. I was really starting to believe this was just something I would have to live with…

I was reinvigorated when my boyfriend of 4 years proposed to me on a summer vacation. It was the most wonderful surprise. But I remember being thankful there were no pictures of that night. I had no make-up on and my confidence was lacking, to say the least. I recalled thinking, how nice it would be to one day feel good, even great, without any make-up on.

Now there was the wedding to think about. And who doesn’t want to look and feel their best on that day!?! I had to do something!

I became interested in natural products, using food as medicine and holistic health. When I wasn’t working on design stuff that’s pretty much all I read. I discovered the Dr. Junger Cleanse. I found a new esthetician, Brandi (the absolute best, and miss her so much) at the Arcona Studio in Santa Monica, just a block from my work. My skin was starting to look much better.

After the wedding, I left my job of 3 years and career of over 10 years and we moved to Denver, Colorado. I went back to school to follow my new love, nutrition and health. After 18 wonderful months of wellness education at the Bauman College in Boulder, I had my  holistic nutritional consultant certificate.

Somehow, I also left with only slightly better skin than when I started. How was it that I could have this amazing education and still manage to not fix my own health issues? I definitely wasn’t ready for this. No one tells you when you finish your nutrition education that it doesn’t necessarily mean you will have solved your own issues. I learned that even those that seem to have it all together, don’t always have it all figured out. It’s a process that’s different for everyone. I don’t know that I will ever have it ALL figured out. But that’s why we keep learning new things and figuring out what works and what doesn’t. It also keeps things interesting…gotta keep life interesting.

I digress… back to the story: after nutrition school, I sought out another naturopath. Despite my first experience not resulting in what I imagined, now I had a new education in health and wellness and thought maybe I was in a better position to use my education plus the doctors’ knowledge to get maximum benefits.

I went to see Dr. Caitlyn O’Connor at All Families Natural Health. She came highly recommended. Let’s be honest here, after now 5 years since ditching the birth control (of which I blame for 75% of my health issues), too much money on facials and supplements, and a new education in nutrition, I was willing more now than ever to try anything. She confirmed a lot of what I already knew and was already doing. However, she also wanted to do a few new tests, specifically the DUTCH test and a 3-day stool sample. Neither were particularly fun, but neither were particularly painful either. But the results from these two tests were ASTOUNDING! I found out exactly which hormones were working well and which ones needed help. I found out I was not digesting my proteins well, that my gut bacteria were ok but some were lacking, and so much more! With the guidance of Dr. O’Connor, I could now pinpoint what supplements I really needed and how best to eat for my optimal health.

After 6 weeks of this new regime I noticed a significant difference in my skin. After 3 months I felt so great I was confident going out in public without make-up on. And one added benefit I wasn’t prepared for was how great I would feel emotionally. A better balance in my body of nutrients and new-found self-confidence from clearer skin translated to better mental well-being and a happier me.

Here’s a little before and after, note, that when I went looking for pictures of when it was at it’s worst, I was surprised to find I didn’t have any. I guess I was so self conscious I didn’t take any pictures on it! Yikes!

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I share a bit of this on my About page on my website. I thought it would be helpful to share the full journey and where I finally am today. My hope is that in sharing this it will shed some light on skin and hormonal health. And as in many health issues it can be a process figuring out what works. Don’t give up! Don’t cave in to what western medicine says. I do believe it has it’s place in our world. But when anyone tells you, even a doctor, that you have to live with something or the only solution is prescription meds, you have other alternatives.

I definitely haven’t solved it all, but I am so much closer now than ever! It’s a journey for sure. I’d love to hear your health journey! What’s going on? Have you ever struggled from soemthing you were told you had to live with? Maybe chalked it up to genetics? Please share!

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Herb of the Week #8 :: Oats

This weeks’ herb is another must-have in anyone’s daily routine: Oats

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Botanical Latin Name: Avena Sativa

Botanical Family: Gramineace (grass) family

Parts used: milky oat seeds and aerial parts

Method: Tea, Tincture

Actions: Nervine, alterative, antiseptic, sedative, nutritive, stimulant, antidepressant, demulcent, vulnerary, restorative, antisposmadic

Energetics: moistening and neutral

Taste: mildly sweet and salty, nutritious tasting

Dosage: Tea – infuse 1 tbsp of herb to 8 oz of water, steep for 10-15 minutes, drink 1-4 cups daily. Tincture use up to 2 droppers full (60 drops) 1-3 times daily.

Contraindications: Those with a gluten sensitivity might want to avoid it. This is a touchy subject; some herbalists say to avoid it with any gluten issues while others say it’s not a problem. If you have celiac you would probably want to avoid it. If you are just gluten sensitive or simply avoiding it, I don’t think it needs to be avoided. But that is a personal choice and will vary. Caution possible blocking of the pain relieving effect of those on morphine and may increase blood pressure for those using nicotine.

Oats are packed with nutrients, they are high in silica, calcium, chromium, magnesium, zinc, manganese and vitamin B. They are great for cardio support and due to its high silica content, it is great for connective tissue, skin and nerves. Oats provide overall health and vitality and can provide energy. For those that are stressed, overworked, suffer from depression, anxiety, low sex drive or irritability, oats can provide relief sue to its soothing actions on the nervous system. Additionally, it’s great to support calm in children.

From Herbalist David Hoffman in his book Medical Herbalism, he says “Oats is one of the best remedies for ‘feeding’ the nervous system, especially when the patient is under stress.”

Oats can support any long-term illness. They are also known to support and sooth irritation from nicotine withdraw and many other addictive behavior recoveries. It is also wonderful for soothing skin irritation and inflammation, relieving itching and symptoms from dermatitis, psoriasis and fungal and viral rashes.

Oats are generally labeled as one of three types: milky oat tops, oat straw or wilds oats. From the blog Way of the Wild Heart, “Oats are the seeds, milky oat tops refer to the unripe seeds and the whole plant harvested and dried is referred to as oatstraw. Oatstraw refers to both the flowering milky tops and the stem of the plant combined, (as in whole plant medicine) and is used to make wonderfully nourishing and delicious herbal infusions.  Oatstraw infusions are a great way to get the benefits of oats.  Drinking 2-4 cups daily imparts all the benefits of eating oats and is especially hormonal balancing, grounding and vitality building. All the wild-hearted among us, pregnant women, nursing mothers, babies and growing children, women with busy lives and tight schedules, overworked and stressed-out-men, all benefit from integrating oats and oatstraw into their daily diets.” The milky oat tops are a great uterine tonic, toning and strengthening the female reproductive system.

Uses for Nettles:

  • Daily multi-vitamin and multi-mineral
  • Promotes vitality and energy
  • Nervous states with exhaustion
  • Irritability to concentrate
  • Exhaustion, fatigue, melancholy or depression
  • Weakness and/or numbness of limbs
  • Occipital headache extending down the spine
  • Lack of control over urination
  • Balancing sexual drive, excessive or low libido
  • Healing addictive habits
  • Balancing hormones
  • Nervous system irritation from exhaustion or stress
  • Premenstrual anxiety and depression
  • Fear of pain or death
  • Inability to relax
  • Anemia
  • Nervous palpitations
  • General debility
  • Bone health

Here is my recipe for a lovely nutritive and nerve supportive tea that is soothing and nourishing to the nerves and rejuvenating the whole body. This should not be sedative, but can also be used as wonderful a night time tea. And if you missed it, last week I posted about Nettles and included a high-calcium tea recipe.

4 parts lemon balm

3 parts oats

2 part chamomile

2 part calendula

2 parts skullcap

1 part rose

1 part lavender

Combine all herbs. Infuse 1 tablespoon dried herb mixture per 8 oz cup of hot water for 15-60 minutes. Drink 3-4 cups daily. For optimal outcome use daily for approximately 2-3 months or longer.

I also have a fantastic white clay miracle mask that includes oats in it. Comment below if you’d like it.

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