Real Food App!

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Can’t it be a hassle to find healthy food on the road? Don’t get me wrong–I love traveling, and I love seeing what other communities have to share in their local restaurants, farmers’ markets and natural food stores.  I think it can be a GREAT way to learn a lot about a town or city, and can be a wonderful way to meet like-minded locals.  But FINDING these locales can be a bit of a challenge sometimes.

Thankfully, this just got a LOT easier!

For $6 a year, you can download the Find Real Food App for the Weston A. Price Foundation, and get this information directly on your smartphone–YAY!

I had the opportunity to meet the wonderful couple who have spent the last 3 years developing this app, and when they told me the price, I thought for sure the cost was per month–which still seemed reasonable to me!–but when they told me it was per YEAR, I was shocked!

All you’ll need to do is enter the zip code you’d like to search, and products, restaurants and other whole food entities will pop up on your screen–and they’re even ranked on a GOOD-BETTER-BEST system, by people who care deeply about finding the highest quality foods at the Weston A. Price foundation.

So in this busy season of travel, do yourself a favor and equip your phone with an incredibly helpful tool that keeps on giving!

A Smorgasbord of Cultured Yumminess!!

Carrots directly from Tonopah Rob's All-Natural Farm

Beautiful carrots from the farmer’s market

 

I was so pleasantly surprised to see not just one, but two, posts on Facebook today about one of my favorite foods…salad!  Clearly, my friends and I are like birds of a feather, because as I looked at the wonderful deliciousness of the grilled summer squash salad from my Canadian compadre, and the farmer’s market melange by way of my Austin, Texas ami, it was very clear we could have made one another’s salads–no problem!

Humble beginnings to a homemade kraut Photo courtesy of Vera Almann

Humble beginnings to a homemade kraut

And then, to come to my email Inbox today and find another mention of salad, this by one of my favorite companies, Cultures for Health, well, it just felt like the salad days of summer!  No doubt about it–this summer has delivered on a bumper crop of great produce all over the country, and folks are making the most of it.

Veggies on top of chopped tomatoes, ready to blend it all together!

Veggies on top of chopped tomatoes, ready to blend it all together for a fermented salsa!

So, if you have your own wonderful produce you’re wishing to toss in a bowl and create something wonderful, then do check out this article from Cultures for Health…it is FULL of great recipes of cultured foods you can make at home that are a GREAT addition to your salad fix’ins, which will elevate your salad experience to a whole new level!  And for good measure, here’s one of my old favorite recipes, Avocado and Papaya Salad–yum!!

Papaya, avocado, pumpkin seeds and cayenne topping fresh greens from our spring garden.  Absolutely heavenly drizzled with walnut oil and fresh lime juice.  Home-brewed kombucha or raw apple cider vinegar would work great, too!

Papaya, avocado, pumpkin seeds and cayenne topping fresh greens from our spring garden. Absolutely heavenly drizzled with walnut oil and fresh lime juice. Home-brewed kombucha or raw apple cider vinegar would work great, too!

 

 

Study on the Effect of Sourdough Fermentation on…Gluten!

OK, friends, get ready to nerd-out with me…this gluten and sourdough study demonstrates what I have been extrapolating simply from the basics of understanding what fermentation does…it cleaves out the more complex to the simpler, taking complex protein structures and delivering on simpler peptides and amino acids (and even smaller bits), and breaks down complex carbs into simpler sugars.

And, since gluten is a protein structure, why is it that long fermentation couldn’t break that troublesome substance down to smaller, easier-to-manage components?

The dough rising in my 36-hour fermented Water Kefir Bread recipe

The dough rising in my 36-hour fermented Water Kefir Bread recipe

Well, this little study demonstrates that what I THOUGHT was happening (and is bore out by the positive response many have had to my water kefir bread recipe, when they can’t handle organic, whole wheat or even sprouted breads from the grocery) is happening–

But don’t throw caution to the wind and go hog-wild if you’ve been diagnosed with Celiac, or have found you have a significant sensitivity to gluten–each person is different, and there may be bigger issues that fermentation won’t iron out for each of us.  But this is a VERY promising study on helping people bring more “forbidden” foods into their diets–this is what I teach in my course, Fresh, Fun and Flavorful in The Funky Kitchen, which is always available for learning when you’re ready!

Dr. Jack Tips on the Wellness of Our Bellies and Our Bodies and Our Minds

Dr. Jack Tips speaks volumes and with passion about the importance of keeping our biome healthy and happy!  Excellent presentation with Underground Wellness.  Click here.

Some Basic Wellness Tips for a Tough Viral Season

A beautiful sunset shot from our neighborhood school where we lost one of our sweet first graders this week.

A beautiful sunset shot from our neighborhood school where we lost one of the sweet first graders to illness.

This week held a tremendously sad event for our community, where we lost one of our little first graders to a very serious respiratory illness.  In the wake of that, and the ensuing communication I received from parents and patients, I decided to pull this short list of wellness suggestions together…there are hundreds of other things I could include, but this is a very solid start that is very reasonable to attain.

Here is the letter I posted on Facebook:

Hello my friends. As many of you know, we lost one of our own yesterday afternoon after a tough battle with a very serious respiratory infection. He was a little first-grader right here at our kids’ school across the street. With the communication I’ve had with parents yesterday and today, I wrote the following post for our local communities–but, with the positive feedback I’m getting on the post, I’m going to post it here for everyone, as we definitely seem to be faced with some virulent pathogens right now. Blessings and well-wishes for you and your loved ones–take good care and take care of one another.

I’d like to just share some natural ideas you can use at home as you look to keep everyone well:

1. Keep the sugars down in the diet–it is incredible the impact sugar has on the immune system–it is no accident that the cold and flu season officially gets underway the week after Halloween. Sugars include the obvious choices, but also fruit juices, sports drinks, granola bars–read the sugar content of the foods you’re eating and make changes as appropriate.

2. Get some sun–without sunscreen. Balanced exposure of our skin to the sun is not only integral for natural Vitamin D production, but also the production and use of sulfur in our bodies. Don’t get burned, but 10 minutes or so of mid-day sun (just go walk around the yard and smell the flowers), in a tank top, a couple times a day, will be a huge boon to your wellness.

3. Drink only water–juices are full of sugars, and while they may have some nutrient value, you’re better off having an orange, with its fiber and raw nutrients, then a pasteurized, concentrated version. Put a healthy squirt of lemon or lime juice into your water for some fresh Vitamin C.

4. Eat foods that are rich in naturally-occurring probiotics, a huge benefit to the immune system. Kombucha, water kefir, raw sauerkraut (not the jarred stuff from the grocery aisles–that’s pasteurized), plain yogurt and plain milk kefir–these are all great sources of naturally-occurring probiotics. Note that I mentioned PLAIN–sweeten and flavor with fresh fruit and Stevia extract to sweeten.

5. Rest–if you feel like sleeping, sleep–our body heals much more efficiently in deep sleep. Not a time for pressing on with caffeine, which taps the adrenals and can set someone up for a big challenge on the immune system.

6. Make chicken soup–from a whole chicken, using only water, salt, garlic, onion, celery, carrots, black pepper, and a splash of apple cider vinegar, or the juice of 2 lemons. Don’t use prepared broth or bouillon cubes–you won’t need them with the flavor from the chicken. Put into a crockpot for the easiest method. Chicken soup helps to loosen the phlegm that arises in the chest, and has anti-inflammatory properties.

7. Consider using medicinal grade essential oils to support the immune system.  Oregano, thyme, tea tree, lemon, basil, frankincense, lavender, orange, clove, rosemary.  These are oils that have shown very good effect in supporting the immune system as it rallies against viruses and bacteria.
Please consider these suggestions–if they seem a good fit for your needs, use them–if not, that’s OK, too. I just wanted to share what I’m sharing with others, and how I’m taking care of our family. If you have more questions, you can contact me at sarica@naturallylivingtoday.com.

Blessings, love and peace to you all!

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Detoxify and Cleanse…Safely and with Vitality!

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As the summer moves closer, many of us think of  doing some internal Spring Cleaning…by way of the many detox plans and recipes out there.  While I think this is a great idea as a way to revitalize after a long winter’s nap–possibly shedding a few pounds in the process–doing so safely is the name of the game.

Easy Ways to Lighten the Load

There are countless ways to lighten the load on the body.  Simply eating less is a terrific place to start, maybe opting to fast for a slightly extended period, from say, 5 PM to 9 AM the next day.  Doing so allows the body to use some of the energy it would otherwise use for digestion–and it takes a LOT of energy to digest a meal, with loads of free radicals generated in all that feasting and loading up on calories–to instead heal the body of under-the-radar injuries and cope with low-level pathogens.  And while this may be too long of a period for some to endure, a “fast” of this length is reasonable for many.

Another way to go lighter–while not going cold turkey on food–is to simply eat less at each meal.  Let’s be honest–many of us overeat at most meals.  Filling your plate or bowl to 70% of what you would normally eat is a safe thing for most of us to do.  Let me be clear–I’m not talking about cutting calories.  What I AM talking about is not putting such a strain on the digestive tract.  That being said, if you were to use vegetables as your base for a wonderful marinara sauce–rather than noodles or garlic bread–you’d further lighten the burden and would be giving yourself a blast of inflammation-calming antioxidants in the process.

Another option is to fast on a mono-diet for a short window of time, where the body is receiving nutrition, but it is not overwhelmed by large, complex meals.  One of my favorites to consider is a delicious and nutritious bone broth fast.  While some may use this fast for a few days, especially when looking to reset the GI Biome by dying down all the bacteria in the gut (including the “good” guys), it can certainly be used on a smaller scale.  You could set aside a day for only bone broth, or you could choose it as a selection for only one of the three meals in a day.  In any case, it is a great way to deliver on minerals, amino acids and cell-healing fats, while cutting out carbohydrates.

A Few Good Detoxification Herbs

Another way to approach detoxification is to use supplements to support the “exit” pathways of the body.  There are countless herbs and supplements that have been used for generations to help the body cleanse itself.  One fantastic herb is milk thistle, which has been proven in human studies to offer liver protecting benefits.  There is a component in the milk thistle plant, silymarin, that protects the liver from attacks on its cell integrity and function.

Another great herb that has traditional use in detoxification is slippery elm.  Most often sold in powdered form, this plant is a mucilage–meaning, it creates a slick gel when combined with water.  This gel coats and soothes the digestive tract, and has been used for centuries to calm and heal the pain of heartburn, IBS and Crohn’s Disease.  Given that it coats the lining of the digestive tract, just be mindful to take occasional breaks from it if using it for more than a couple of weeks, as this coating may inhibit nutrient absorption over time.

Dandelions are another great support to the liver’s function.  Simply including dandelions from your garden (just make sure they’re not contaminated with yard pesticides or other concerns!), or from your farmer’s market, is a fantastic way to help increase the liver’s bile production to emulsify fats.  Dandelions are traditional “bitters,” which help to stimulate digestion.

Similarly, including a bit of shredded, raw beets and their thinly sliced greens to every salad you consume (and hopefully that’s at least once a day!), will offer additional support to the liver.  Beets have been used traditionally to heal the liver and to support the removal of toxins by the liver.

Structured Supplementation for Detoxification

In addition to the techniques and herbs listed above, there are more involved detoxification protocols that are on the market.  While each will have its advantages, my favorite is one that I share with my patients and wellness clients.

The detoxification package I offer is a multi-stage system that takes into account the need to make sure the exit pathways–colon, liver and kidneys–are functioning optimally before undertaking deeper detoxification.  It will only cause pain–and can be downright dangerous–if a person begins killing pathogens and clearing debris from the body before these exit pathways are open.

After there has been support to these organs, then the next level of detoxification is to clear the body of the the extracellular matrix debris.  While this may sound strange, it’s a very real part of all of us,  a carbohydrate-based sludge where latent pathogens such as bacteria, virus and fungi reside.  These low-level pathogens keep our immune systems in a constant state of firing, a process that leads to inflammation and wears down our vitality.  Using systemic enzymes and anti-pathogenic supplements, this matrix is broken down and the residing “gribblies” lose their viability.

The final stage of this system next goes more deeply into the body’s functioning, helping to restore cellular integrity by healing the cell membrane and the cell’s receptors, as well as offering a shower of anti-oxidants for inflammation both within the cell and outside of the cell.  This final phase allows for healing of the cell, so that all the substances we have in our bloodstream–glucose, insulin, hormones to name a few–have an ability to communicate more effectively with our cells.  And, when our cells receive the information that our body has to share, we are vitalized.

The beauty of this system is that it is completely customizable to your specific needs, whether that be extra support for sex hormones, adrenal health, thyroid function, digestive disturbances or other concerns.  Like all of the care I offer my patients and clients, this is a detoxification protocol that can be designed to fit your unique needs.

If you have any questions about this program, or if you’re interested in using it in your own Spring Cleaning, please use the contact form below and I’ll be in touch to help craft you a plan that meets your specific needs.

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20 Life-Changing Minutes

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If you ever notice that I become incredibly uncomfortable when I see kids eating donuts, or Doritos and Gatorade being handed out as a snack…if you take 20 minutes to watch this video, you will have an excellent understanding of why. This is why I do what I do and why I post what I post. Please take 20 minutes for a deeper understanding of the issues we face…This video will put the information right in front of you in an easy to understand format that is life-changing.

Internal Spring Cleaning with Detoxification and Revitalization!

Let your own colors shine through--cleanse and revitalize!Uncover your own vibrancy with a safe, potent and thorough detoxification protocol

Are you feeling run down with allergies?  Bloated or fatigued?  Wishing to get a little pep back in your step…naturally?

Time for some internal Spring cleaning!

This 3-phase, 60-90-day package offers safe, effective and complete liver support, comprehensive drainage, neuroendocrine system protection and cellular function support.  This program works sequentially, deeper and deeper in the body while providing smooth removal of toxins, chemicals, and metabolic wastes through the body’s innate processes.  The products in this program provide herbal chelation, anti-inflammatory properties, and super-rich antioxidants.

No fasting or crazy diets needed–Just supplemental support that gently and effectively cleanses and revitalizes, without a concern for “down time” from your regular activities.

As with all my treatments and dietary and supplemental suggestions, your plan will be personalized to your specific needs.

And, until May 31, 2014, I am offering my consultation for your personalized detoxification protocol assessment at half price (a $45 savings!) and all products recommended for the protocol will be offered at 20% off of retail!

And no concern if you’re unable to join me at my office…we can easily communicate via Skype, email or phone.

Ready to cleanse your body and revitalize?  If so, I’m ready to help!  Fill out the Contact Form below and I’ll be in touch.

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Pan-Baked Sweet Potato Chunks

Sweet and delicious baked sweet potato chunks

Sweet and delicious baked sweet potato chunks

 

Simple, delicious and nutritious.  Isn’t that such a terrific combination when you’re looking for something to prepare and enjoy?  Tossed in energy-promoting Medium Chain Triglyceride-rich unrefined coconut oil, these chunks will work whether you fall in the Paleo camp, or adhere to the GAPS Diet or just love delicious whole foods!

People often ask me how we manage to stay ahead of our food selections at home, given that we eat at home nearly every meal, and most of the foods are made from scratch.  Well, Rome was not built in a day, and I didn’t get into the groove of creating meals in this manner overnight!

Over the years, what I’ve learned is to lean on some pre-preparation, so that we can grab something quickly from the fridge, and reheat it quickly in the toaster oven, on the stovetop, toss it into the kids’ lunches or enjoy it as-is.  It’s the homemade version of fast food, and whether it’s oatmeal, pancakes, bread, beans or soup, having some easy-to-use components to a meal on hand makes the WHOLE process so much easier!

This recipe for pan-baked sweet potato chunks falls into this category perfectly.  Once prepared (and they are delicious straight from the oven!), they store really well in the refrigerator for the work- and school week, a true grab-n-go item.  And I have yet to get a refusal from the kids when they find these accompanying the rest of a meal!

In addition to the nutrition in the coconut oil, this recipe leans heavily on warming spices, specifically cinnamon, which has been shown in studies to help with maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.  And with natural sea or mineral salt, you will have a terrific food, full of trace minerals.

This recipe prepares quickly, bakes quickly, stores easily and tastes fantastic.  Good luck on keeping them for the duration of the week–you might consider doubling the recipe just in case they don’t make it through the first day!

Pan-Baked Sweet Potato Chunks

  • 3 pounds organic Sweet Potatoes and/or Yams, washed, ends trimmed and coarsely cut into rounds approximately 1″ thick
  • 1/2 cup organic Unrefined Coconut Oil, melted
  • 3 tablespoons organic Pumpkin Pie Spice blend or 1 tablespoon Ground Cinnamon, 1/2 tablespoon ground Nutmeg, 1 teaspoon Allspice and 1 teaspoon dried Ginger
  • 2-3 teaspoons Celtic Sea Salt or Himalayan Salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a large bowl, sprinkle the spices and salt over the sweet potato chunks and toss to incorporate.  Drizzle the coconut oil over the dressed sweet potato chunks and toss again, insuring that the oil coats all surfaces.  Spread out on a large cookie sheet. so that there is no overlap of the chunks.

Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 40 minutes, then move to the top rack  and roast on the Low Roast setting for an 2-3 additional minutes, or until the tops of the chunks begin to caramelize (make sure you don’t go too long here, or that the heat is too high, lest the oil begin to smoke.)

Remove from the oven and enjoy immediately, or allow to cool and store in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.  Reheats perfectly in the toaster oven or on the stove top.

Chopping sweet potatoes

Chopping sweet potatoes

Pouring on coconut oil over sweet potatoes

Pouring on coconut oil over sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes dressed and ready to bake

Sweet potatoes dressed and ready to bake

How we get ready for the week ahead--sweet potato chunks and freshly-baked water kefir bread

How we get ready for the week ahead–sweet potato chunks and freshly-baked water kefir bread

Rich and delicious sweet potato chunks--notice the salt chunks.  YUM!

Rich and delicious sweet potato chunks–notice the salt grains. YUM!

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EWG’s “Dirty Dozen” list of hormone-disrupting chemicals | Environmental Working Group

 

This is why we use products like KD Gold to keep our home and bodies clean, without the very real concern of chemicals as found in this article!

EWG’s “Dirty Dozen” list of hormone-disrupting chemicals | Environmental Working Group.