As you might have assumed, I am not a big fan of processed foods. In fact, I try to avoid them at all costs. However, I am also a big fan of ice cream, which flies in the face of my first comment. Store-bought ice cream is no longer cream, sugar and eggs like it was back in the day. Today many brands can barely fit the long list of ingredients on the packaging! Fillers, preservatives and coloring are bad enough, but don’t forget about the milk or cream. If it is not certified organic, that means you and your family are also taking in a nice serving of hormones and antibiotics with your dessert. Yuck.
There is hope for those of you who, like me, are serious about maintaining good health but also have a weakness for a delicious dairy treat every now and again.
It was about one year ago when my frustration peaked resulting in my decision to purchase an ice cream maker. After reading many excellent reviews, I pulled the trigger on a nice Cuisinart model (for those of you interested, the ICE-30BC Series). This ended up being one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. This thing has already paid for itself, as my family makes a fresh batch of ice cream just about every other week. All of our batches are 100% organic, no fillers, no preservatives, and I even experiment with different types of sugar or sugar substitutes (i.e. coconut sugar or stevia, not chemicals) as well as the use of Young Living Pure Essential Oils like Orange or Peppermint!
100% ORGANIC CHOCOLATE PEPPERMINT ICE CREAM
- 1 cup unsweetened organic cocoa powder
- 2/3 cup organic raw cane sugar
- 1/2 cup organic blonde coconut sugar
- 2 1/4 cups organic heavy cream
- 2 1/2 cups organic half and half
- 1 T pure organic vanilla extract
- 4-6 drops Young Living Peppermint Essential Oil*
Combine the cocoa and sugars in a medium bowl. Add the half and half and whisk until the cocoa and sugar are dissolved. Whisk in the heavy cream and vanilla. Add peppermint oil* to taste (this can be very strong so be sure to do some taste testing!) Pour the mixture into the ice cream maker and let mix until thickened, 30 minutes. Transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container until ready to serve.
*I recommend Young Living Essential Oils due to the fact that they are 100% pure and both their peppermint and orange are safe for ingestion. Please contact the manufacturer prior to ingestion of any other essential oil brand, as many advise against this due to impurity.
Okay, this certainly isn’t a low-calorie recipe, but it is pure and it is delicious! If you and your family are big fans of ice cream, consider making the switch to your own homemade version so that you can better control what your putting into your bodies. Enjoy!!
I’m a control freak. I may have mentioned that more than once in this blog in an attempt to explain why I devote my time trying to figure out what will help to make us, and keep us, healthy. My control freakishness is also the main reason why I will never get a flu shot. Basically, I don’t like surprises such as potentially unpleasant side effects or even possibly contracting the illness that is being injected into my body to prevent that very illness. I’ve seen too many otherwise healthy folks react negatively to these vaccines, so I choose to take matters into my own hands.
Thankfully I can control, to a great extent, whether or not I get the flu virus. Does that sound naive? It may very well, based on what the media is telling us. But the truth of the matter is, my immune system is the responsibility of only one person: me. Here’s what I do to boost my immune strength, especially during the winter months (aka “flu season”):
1. A good quality probiotic. This is a supplement that will provide your intestinal tract with friendly bacteria that fight off the bad guys (like bacteria and viruses). Your gut is where your immune function begins, so this is an incredibly important piece of the puzzle. You can find probiotics at grocery stores and health food stores. The Pearl Elite by Enzymatic Therapy is one that I’ve found to be helpful, easy to take and not in need of refrigeration.
2. Vitamin C. I’m a firm believer in the incredible benefits of this nutrient. The more stress you have, the faster your body goes through this vitamin. Since our bodies can’t make it (interestingly, most mammals do …), it’s up to us to take it in via diet and/or supplements. With all of the stress, both mental and physical, that we have today, chances are diet alone isn’t cutting it. So I take 1000 mg of a buffered Vitamin C with bioflavonoids three times daily during the winter.
3. Vitamin D3. I’ve written a lot about the “sunshine vitamin”. No matter where you live in the US, in the winter time the sun isn’t close enough to the earth to allow our bodies to manufacture D3 through sunshine, so supplementation is a necessity. 5000 iu’s once per day with a meal is what I take. Ideally, get your blood level of D3 checked by your doctor and maintain that above 50 ng/ml.
4. Neti Pot nasal irrigation nightly. I swear by this. Whatever bacteria or viruses end up inside my nasal passages during the day are flushed out before they get a chance to do damage. For those of you who haven’t ever tried nasal irrigation, it may seem a bit odd not to mention uncomfortable. But trust me, once you get in the habit, doing this occasionally when you feel a bug coming on or as a preventative during flu season, it will become as second nature as brushing your teeth. Because so many illnesses are going around right now, I add 4 drops of Grapefruit Seed Extract (from my local health food store) to my neti (along with the typical warm, distilled water and neti salt). Grapefruit Seed Extract is an incredible anti-viral and anti-bacterial that can be used like this or even taken orally.
Okay, let’s say I’ve done all of the above religiously but a bug still makes its way into my system. I start to feel a bit of a scratchy throat and maybe slightly feverish. What do I do now???
1. Colloidal Silver. I provided extensive info on this wonderful supplement in an earlier post, but just briefly, this is basically a liquid containing microscopic particles of silver. Silver is an incredible antibiotic, antiviral and antibacterial that has been used extensively in conventional medicine in the past. I take 1 teaspoonful (held under my tongue for 30 seconds prior to swallowing) every 4 hours as soon as I begin to feel “off”. You can find this at your local health food store.
2. Thieves Essential Oil Blend (I use Young Living Essential Oils because I’m convinced that they are 100% pure). I actually rub this oil on the bottom of my feet before bed and I put a drop on my tongue anytime throughout the day when I’m feeling ill. Please note that I do not recommend ingestion of Thieves Essential Oil unless it is specifically Young Living brand. Click HERE to read the interesting history behind this oil blend. Click HERE to purchase Thieves Essential Oil Blend (scroll to the very bottom of the page that opens).
3. Fresh Ginger Root Tea. You can’t beat this if you aren’t feeling well. Ginger is an awesome immune booster and absolutely miraculous for stomach issues. Read more about the benefits of ginger root HERE. I mince a thumb-size piece of fresh ginger root and put that in water, bring it to a slow boil and drink. Sometimes I add a teaspoonful of raw honey for some healthy sweetness.
4. Last but definitely not least, Oregano Oil. I use Oreganol P78 by North American Spice Company. A drop or 2 under my tongue (be forewarned, it has a very strong, spicy flavor!) This stuff will stop any sore throat in it’s tracks. I also will use a few drops in a Neti Pot to ward off a sinus infection.
So, now that I’ve shared the main things that I do to prevent and fight the flu and other viruses, I think it’s important to mention some small “common sense” items like eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, drinking plenty of spring water, avoiding sugar, caffeine and processed foods and adopting some stress-busting habits like meditation and yoga. It’s all interrelated after all, which is why the term “holistic” is used so often when it comes to healing.
Oh, and one last thing – if you find that your immune system is a mess and you’re catching every winter bug that comes your way, give juicing a try. Nothing beats fresh fruit and vegetable juice as a way to get nutrients straight into your bloodstream to help on the front line of your immune system’s battles! And as usual, message me if you have any questions or need some support to get your health on track!
Well it’s that time of year again. Time for the flu to strike. And this year, like many that have come before, there’s a lot of hype surrounding the flu – headlines such as: “An earlier than usual start to flu season” and “Flu season could be worst in nearly a decade.” Pharmacies have strategically placed banners and signs advertising flu shots, providing the illusion that each individual can be in control of his/her own health destiny by taking this one simple step.
Although I do agree that we each have quite a bit of control over whether or not we come down with the flu my strategy to assure that I don’t fall prey to this seasonal bully does not include getting a flu shot. There are several reasons for this, not the least of which is that I believe there is an easier, healthier method that is devoid of side effects and allergic reactions and will cover every strain of the flu, not just those guessed by the experts to be most likely villains for the current season. I suppose my curiosity regarding the strange timing of “flu season” expressed in questions like “why does the flu suddenly begin to wreak havoc roughly between October and April of each year, typically peaking in January and February?” and “Isn’t it sort of curious why the flu doesn’t strike much during the summer months?” resulted in an undeniable conclusion that I found would be easy to apply to my own life and help me avoid not only the flu, but poor health in general – supplementing with Vitamin D3.
After much research, I found that there are lots of theories out there regarding the timing of this viral illness, however it is apparent to me that there is one small but very significant variable that can cause the increase of flu cases during the non-summer months: the body’s inability to produce Vitamin D3 during that time.
Our skin can do a great job of producing Vitamin D3 for us. There is one catch however. We need to be exposed to the sun’s rays in order for this process to be triggered. Lack of these rays (or simply their decrease in intensity) due to the increased distance between the sun and the earth during the winter, leads our body to manufacture little, if any, of this critical substance. Our bodies become deficient in D3 during this time, which means that there is only enough D3 in our system to perform its most critical function – as a regulator of calcium in the blood. The lack of any “extra” D3 means that there is not enough available to boost immune system function or for disease prevention – two functions of this substance that recent studies have found to be nothing short of miraculous. It is for this reason that supplementation with Vitamin D3 becomes so important, especially during the non-summer months.
To receive the extra benefits of Vitamin D3, i.e. maintain good health and immune system function capable of fending off the seasonal flu, it’s important that your blood level of D3 is at least 50 ng/ml. You can verify this through a 25 Hydroxy D blood test, which most physicians now include automatically with routine bloodwork, although you can always request it on an as-needed basis.
So how do you make sure that your Vitamin D3 blood level is optimal? Well, chances are, if you live in the United States, you must supplement in the fall, winter and spring seasons to maintain sufficient levels. The Vitamin D Council recommends supplementing with 1000 iu’s of D3 per 25 lbs of body weight per day. Children 1 year of age and younger should supplement with 1000 iu’s per day. After doing this for a couple of months, have your D3 blood levels checked to be certain that your 25(OH)D level is maintained between 50-70 ng/ml (and higher still if you are in a diseased state.)
Please check out www.vitamindcouncil.org for more information on all of the benefits of Vitamin D3.
** Keep in mind the importance of a healthy diet, exercise and stress management for overall health and optimal immune function in addition to the addition of Vitamin D3 to your regimen!
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Becoming healthy doesn’t have to be difficult or overwhelming, but let’s face it, it often can be. That’s why so many New Year’s resolutions relating to weight loss, fitness and overall health end up being temporary and frustrating rather than successful lifelong commitments.
So what better gift can you give to a loved on this holiday season than the first step toward optimal health?
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Do you ever find yourself getting angry at your mind for never shutting up? I certainly do. With all of the “what-if” stories of the future and the “would’ve, should’ve, could’ve” stories from the past, my mind seems to run through it all over and over again on an almost hourly basis. To make things worse, when I become angry at the chatter it seems to increase in volume and intensity! So what can I do to quiet my mind of those useless, energy-draining thoughts? It’s simple – I have to meditate.
The problem is, though, that meditation isn’t simple for me. When all becomes quiet around me, my mind will not comply. In fact, it begins to fight back (or that’s what it seems like anyway.) Then I get angry and the babble amplifies and around and around we go …. So I don’t meditate.
I hate to admit it but the people like me, who have trouble sitting still surrounded by quiet, are the folks that need meditation as much, if not more, than they need any other health-boosting habit. With practice, meditation provides the ability to call upon quiet and stillness when it is most needed. Unfocused thoughts become focused and physiology will actually change for the better. Frequent surges in stress hormones will become a thing of the past.
So if meditation is so miraculous, why have I had trouble sticking to it? And why isn’t everyone doing it if it offers so many benefits? Simply put, it takes time and practice to get where we want to be with meditation. Subtle, positive changes that occur along the way are often taken for granted and go unnoticed as we await some monumental enlightenment! What we may not realize is that the “monumental enlightenment” that we are expecting is actually happening in the form of those small, subtle changes. Let’s face it, we’re an impatient lot obsessed with “doing” rather than “being” while also known for our propensity toward choices that we perceive as quick and easy over those perceived as time-consuming yet healthy. And admittedly, there are a myriad of instantly-gratifying approaches readily available to calm and quiet the mind, but most of these methods tend to be health-depleting rather than health-building (think alcohol or pharmaceutical sedatives.) Don’t be tempted.
Okay, I can honestly say that I’ve successfully convinced myself that it’s time to walk the talk. As of this very day, I’m going to begin a daily 20-minute meditation practice and commit to this routine over the course of the final one and a half months of this year. Then, in early January of next year, expect to see a blog post describing the positive changes that have taken place as a result of this practice.
Who’s with me? I’d love for you to join me on this journey. It can’t hurt, I’m sure of that. First though, continue to read the excerpt below written by Mary Jaksch on http://goodlifezen.com/2008/04/18/how-to-start-meditating-ten-important-tips. This should provide you with all that you need to know about the how-to’s of meditation along with more of the “why’s”. Mary has done a fantastic job of simplifying the process and making it far less of a daunting endeavor to those of us who may not be quite as open to the silence.
On one level, meditation is a tool. It can help combat stress, fosters physical health, helps with chronic pain, can make you sleep better, feel happier, be more peaceful, as well as be present.
But on a deeper level, meditation is a doorway into the unknown. It can help us get a sense of the mystery of who we are.
When you start meditating, you will notice how unruly the mind is. I remember being quite shocked by this! I noticed that my mind was all over the place. Profound thoughts about my past or future jostled with mundane thought clips about what groceries I needed to buy. Some time afterwards I would come too and notice that I had spend 15 minutes running a painful memory over and over. It was like sitting in a crazy cinema!
So, if you’re starting out with meditation, please don’t beat yourself up about your wild mind. It is a natural condition. In time you will learn to work kindly with the barrage of thoughts and you will some clarity and peacefulness.
Here are some simple tips on how to start meditating. Maybe those of you who already practise meditation could please add your comments of what has worked for you.
Whether you sit on a chair or cross-legged on the floor, make sure that your spine is upright with head up. If you are slumped your mind will drift. Mind and body are intertwined. If your body is well-balanced, your mind will also be in balance. To straighten up, imagine that your head is touching the sky.
Try and keep you eyes open. Open eyes allow you to be more present. Just lower your eyes and let your gaze be soft. If you close your eyes you will be more likely to drift away on thoughts and stories. However, it’s important to do what is comfortable for you. Some people find closing their eyes much more effective. It’s good to experiment and see what feels best for you.
In ordinary consciousness we are hardly ever present. For example, sometimes we drive the car on autopilot while being preoccupied with thoughts. Suddenly we arrive at our destination and don’t remember anything about the drive!
So, meditation is a wonderful way of waking up to our life. Otherwise we miss most of our experiences because we are somewhere else in our mind! Let’s take a look at what focus is. In ordinary life, we tend to equate focus with concentration. That’s like using the mind like a concentrated beam of light. But in meditation, that kind of mind isn’t helpful. It’s too sharp and edgy. To focus in meditation means to pay soft attention to whatever you place in the centre of awareness. I suggest using the breath as a focus. It’s like a natural door that connects ‘inside’ and ‘outside’. Zen Master Toni Packer says:
Attention comes from nowhere. It has no cause. It belongs to no one
3. the breath
Paying attention to the breath is a great way to anchor yourself in the present moment.
Notice your breath streaming in and out. There’s no need to regulate the breath – just let it be natural.
4. counting you breath
If you are having difficulties settling, you can try counting the breath – which is an ancient meditation practice. On your outbreath, silently count “one”, then “two”, and up to “four”. Then return to “one”. Whenever you notice your thoughts have strayed far away or you find yourself counting “thirtythree”, simply return to “one”. In this way, “one” is like coming home to the present moment. It’s good to return without a backward glance.
When you notice thoughts, gently let them go by returning yous focus to the breath. Don’t try and stop thoughts; this will just make you feel agitated. Imagine that they are unwelcome visitors at your door: acknowledge their presence and politely ask them to leave. Then shine the soft light of your attention on your breath.
It’s difficult to settle into meditation if you are struggling with strong emotions. This is because some emotions tend to breed stories in the mind. Especially anger, shame and fear create stories that repeat over and over in the mind. Anger and shame make us keep looking at past events of the past. Fear looks at the future with stories that start with, “What if…”
The way to deal with strong emotions in meditation is to focus on the body feelings that accompany the emotion. For example, this could be the tight band of fear around the chest or the hot roiling of anger in the belly. Let go of the stories and refocus on your body. In this way you are honouring your emotions but not becoming entangled in stories.
Silence is healing. I know that there are is a lot of ‘meditation music’ around, but nothing beats simple silence. Otherwise the music or sounds on the tape just drown out the chatter in your mind. When we sit in silence we actually get to experience what our mind is doing. There is steadiness and calmness that comes from sitting in silence. In time outer and inner silence meet and you come to rest in the moment.
Start with 10 minutes and only sit longer if you feel that that is too short. Don’t force yourself to meditate longer if you are not ready to do that. In time you might like to extend your meditation to 25 minutes. That’s a length that allows you to settle your mind without causing too much stress on your body. Most importantly, shrug off any ‘shoulds’. Some people enjoy sitting for an hour at a time. Others find that they can’t sit longer than 10 minutes. Do what feels right for you!
It’s lovely to create a special place to sit. You can even make a shrine or an altar that you can face when you sit in meditation. You might like to place a candle on your altar and objects that have meaning to you. It’s lovely to find objects for your altar as you walk. Maybe you find stones, or seashells, or flowers that speak to you.
Most of all it’s important to enjoy meditation. You might like to try sitting with a hint of a smile. Be kind to yourself. Start sitting just a little each day. It’s helpful to establish a daily habit.
Dr. Christiane Northrup posted the following on Facebook today (10/18/2012):
Big news! A recent placebo controlled clinical trial a male doctor published yesterday in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that those who took multivitamins have a significantly lowered risk of cancer. JAMA, Published online October 17, 2012. The same folks, who, year after year, told people that taking vitamins only gave them expensive urine! You taking your vitamins?
REFERENCE: http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1380451, available for free online viewing.
It’s not uncommon for clients to ask if it is truly necessary to supplement with vitamins and minerals – won’t they get enough of these nutrients if they eat a healthy diet? The study referred to above confirms what the holistic community has understood for years; that yes, supplements are most often necessary and they will help you stay healthy.
“But I eat a healthful diet, so why would I need supplements?”
Unfortunately, today we are exposed to an endless supply of toxins, both in our foods and in the air we breathe, that didn’t exist 100, or even 50, years ago. These toxins deplete nutrients in the food supply and in our bodies. Actually, the more exposure you have to toxins (preservatives, antibiotics, hormones in your food as well as air pollution and household chemicals and STRESS!) the more nutrients your body utilizes so that it can effectively neutralize and eliminate these harmful substances from your system.
Also, many years ago our food used to come fresh from our own backyard whereas it is now often shipped over hundreds of miles before it reaches the dinner table. Time and distance along with over-farming of the soil depletes the nutrients in our foods which means that, even if we are consuming a healthy diet, our fruits and vegetables simply don’t provide the levels of vitamins and minerals that they used to. Not to mention our desire for quick and easy meals which often leads to reliance on prepared, preserved and processed boxed foods that are really not “food” at all. Many of these items are fortified with vitamins and minerals to boost their nutritional value, however synthetic rather than food-based nutrients are typically added and these can be difficult for our bodies to absorb.
One wouldn’t necessarily think that prescription drugs would play a role in nutrient deficiency, however this is actually becoming a huge concern. Many medications are known for depleting the body of essential vitamins and minerals. For example, the synthesis of Coenzyme Q10, a substance necessary for healthy heart function among other things, is inhibited by cholesterol-lowering statin drugs so a COQ10 supplement is a must for individuals taking this medication. Similarly, those taking diuretics for blood pressure management are at risk for mineral deficiencies due to increased production and excretion of urine. Caffeinated coffee and alcohol are also big time mineral-robbers.
Lastly, there is one substance that we can obtain in sufficient amounts only through sun exposure: Vitamin D3. Because most of us likely spend the majority of each day indoors, our bodies are not getting enough sunlight to manufacture enough D3, which means supplementation is the next best option.
So the results of the above study are not surprising to me. Our bodies need vitamins and minerals to perform specific functions at the cellular level. If we become deficient in any one of these nutrients, the body will have to compensate in some way. You can imagine what implications this can have after years and years of deficiency. DISEASE. The body wears down and struggles to function, leading to an inability to defend itself. And if you have a difficult time popping vitamin pills, try juicing! Juicing fresh, local organic fruits and vegetables is wonderful way to obtain concentrated amounts of nutrients. It takes a bit more time and effort, but the energy and health-boost you’ll receive is well worth it!
If you would like to begin a regimen of nutrient supplementation but don’t know quite where to begin, let me know and I’ll be glad to help! Email: email@example.com
If you’re looking for an energy boost, there are better things to turn to than energy drinks. Caffeine, sugar (or aspartame in the sugar-free versions), artificial flavors and colors and overall acidity are some of the reasons to avoid them.
For instance, first and foremost, caffeine is the main energy-boosting ingredient in many of these drinks. The problem with this is that, although you’re likely to feel an initial boost because of the caffeine, ultimately it wears hard on your adrenal glands, the glands that produce stress hormones (think “fight or flight”). Caffeine’s effect on your body is similar to flooring the gas pedal in your car while the parking brake is on. The car will rev and rev even though it isn’t moving. Obviously doing that long enough will lead to a lot of wear and tear on the engine. This effect is exacerbated by the often high sugar content of energy drinks. The caffeine and sugar together wreak havoc on the stress hormones and blood sugar levels leading to a delayed, but often severe, energy “crash.”
This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the downside of these drinks. Read the following post for more detailed information as well as research findings regarding dental health and energy drink consumption: http://www.jonbarron.org/natural-health/Enamel-Loss-Energy-Drink-Health-Concerns