Paleo Pumpkin Bake

Before you consider making this super yummy recipe, I want to share briefly that I created it as a quick snack or dessert. I don’t use any refined sugar, generally. I love fresh pumpkin in the fall and this is a wonderful way to enjoy the spices of fall without that ‘white stuff’. If you’re not used to eating foods that are less sweet, it may not taste very good to you. In that case, consider adding a little (like 2-4 TB) maple syrup to the mix. Of course, you could always add it at the end, on top. It’s very yummy when eaten warm. Or enjoy fresh fruit on top.

I love low-sugar Apple Butter, the organic kind from Eden Foods, which you can buy at iherb.com, and using code LON751 you can save $5 or $10 off your order.

Anyway here we go:

Ingredients :
15 oz pumpkin meat, preferably home-made (more yummy) (or canned) pumpkin meat
6-8 eggs
2 teaspoons Ceylon cinnamon
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 TB butter
Coconut oil or other fat for baking dish

Directions:
1. Preheat oven at 320 degrees.
2. Mix together the pumpkin, vanilla, spices and baking soda.
3. On stove, melt butter and blend into the pumpkin mix.
4. Add desired number of eggs into batter with handmixer, taking care not to mix too much
5. “line” the 9X13 inch baking dish with coconut oil or other healthy fat like butter, and “slide” your batter into the dish.
6. Bake the mix for 45 minutes to an hour. You don’t want to dry out the moisture.
7. Take out of the oven and cool.
8. Eat as is, or top with something you love. I choose Eden Organics Apple Butter – so yummy. Enjoy experimenting!

Source: Yours truly – and adapted from Jolynneshane.com’s paleo pumpkin pancakes, as I have no time to stand at the stove and keep flipping pancakes. :)

#1 Key to Optimize Sleep in the Modern World

Optimizing sleep is key for transforming many aspects of health:

DSC00260

  • Inducing weight loss
  • increasing daily energy and vitality,
  • creating a good balance of hormones (key to health at any age)
  • helping prevent or delay chronic degenerative diseases – even cancer.
  • helping restore adrenal glands, reducing stress hormone production (80% of all doctors visits are stress-related; 70-80% of people suffer from some adrenal fatigue today)
  • according to a recent study, sleep may even assist in the removal of neurotoxins from the brain, if you get sufficient sleep (6-8 hours).

For general sleep tips that can make a big difference in the quality and quantity of your sleep, check out this blog post.

So the #1 way to transform your sleep is this: ensuring nighttime darkness in your bedroom. Why? Modern life with the beginning of widespread electric lights in the 1920s, along with the advent of 24/7 TV and internet, may affect your ability to get enough quality rest. Here’s how.

Nighttime pitch darkness is required for your brain’s pineal gland to produce optimal amounts of certain hormones to do all the brain is designed to while you sleep. Too late exposure to bright, lit-up screens (computer, tablets, TV, alarm clocks etc.) and outdoor light shining into your bedroom slows that process down, because the pineal gland is extremely sensitive to light.

Thus, staying away from screens, keeping lights low and making sure no street or other lights enter your bedroom at least an hour before bed and during the night is key.

You may need to install room-darkening blinds in your bedroom and/or use an eye mask (though this is less optimal, unless your mask doesn’t move at all during the night). You may also want to install free software, f.lux, on your computer for nighttime use. Check it out here.

This may sound hard to accomplish because you feel you must have access to screens anytime. But the payoff can be huge for those who are willing. And if you make these changes for even 30-60 days, your body will start to crave darkness at night, as it does for me; and my clients who’ve tried this. Why?

Our bodies are designed to experience darkness at night, and strong brightness during the day. Modern life  often has this upside down, with millions working in artificial, not strong enough light during the day and then way too bright light exposure at night.

Here’s hoping you’ll give this a chance & help transform your health by transforming your sleep!

 

Sleep strategies to upgrade your health

Sleep is a key factor in health, as I am sure you are aware. Many of us are so busy, we think we can go without an hour of sleep here or there, but the truth, ensuring optimal sleep is one of the best things you can do for your heath. So before you even think of what to do differently when it comes to sleep, you may consider to:

Give yourself permission to rest, and to take care of yourself. Remember the flight attendant’s advice: Get oxygen (sleep) first, before you try to help others– you’ll be much more effective – and healthier.

  1. Lifestyle solutions:
  • Try to keep a regular schedule – it works for kids and adults alike:
    1. Go to sleep and get up at the same time each morning and evening, if at all possible – it will help set up your body clock to prepare both for sleep, and for starting the day (circadian rhythm)
    2. Create a “going to sleep routine” before you go to bed – do something enjoyable/relaxing, journal and get your worries and thoughts out of your mind earlier in the evening (not right before bed) and onto paper; allow yourself some wind-down time; try to stay away from bright screens at least one hour before bed
  • If you feel hungry at bedtime, have a light snack, such as a banana, warm milk with honey – something small, not heavy – although making sure you eat enough at dinner is more optimal
  • Try not to nap, unless you’re really exhausted (meditation/sitting quietly is OK)
  • Bedroom conditions: On the cooler side rather than warm, dark – use a mask if necessary; employ some “white noise” if it’s noisy
  • Keep the bedroom a sacred, quiet place for only two activities: sleep and sex – prepare your mind for rest even as you walk into the room, no TV or working in it
  • Stay away from caffeine and alcohol if possible, or have it earlier in the day, especially caffeine, at least 6 hours before bedtime
  • Get some daily exercise, such as yoga, QiGong, Tai Chi, Pilates, stretch for 5-10 minutes a day, or walk 10 minutes as a start
  • Remember to breathe – deeply for a quick pick-me-up, even for 1 minute.
  • Experiment w/ other stress reduction techniques: Guided meditation/imagery, deep breathing, reading an inspiring book, get a massage, garden, take a bath (Epsom salt and baking soda – great detoxifiers if you’re fighting a cold, and make your skin nice and smooth), and last but not least, create your own “self-care menu” of activities that relax you and choose one each day/evening – even for 5 minutes!

Other ideas:

1. Supplements: Experiment with the intake of magnesium (such as leafy green veggies, nuts, seeds, avocados) to help your body relax, or take an epsom salt bath at night (even a foot bath may help) or even foods high in tryptophan such as turkey.

2. Eating Habits: Increase your intake of whole foods – fruits and vegetables, whole grains if you tolerate grains, nuts, seeds, sufficient water). Eat healthy fats (cold pressed olive oils, real butter in moderation), rather than trans fats from improperly processed oils and enough healthy protein at each meal, to help keep blood sugar and energy stable throughout the day. Speaking of sugar – try to replace some of the processed, white flour, refined sugary foods with fruits and smoothies. Try to have your last main meal at least 3 hours before bed (preferably 4) so your body can focus on regenerating itself instead of digesting food while you are going to sleep.

3. I saved the most important one for last: Ensure pitch darkness in your bedroom at night. Learn more here.

Remember, it’s OK to take care of yourself just as you would your car, house/apartment, garden or any other belongings. As Kobi Yamada said,

“Be good to yourself. If you don’t take care of your body, where will you live?”

Super simple, fast Tex-Mex Bake

A delicious fast dish for nights when appetite is big and the time you have is ‘small’ and if you are able to eat grains. This truly fits the “super simple” bill!

Ingredients:

1 cup organic white rice (Jasmine cooks in about 20 minutes)
1 15 oz. BPA-free can black beans, such as Eden Organic (or use dried beans, soak for 8 and cook 2 hours)
10 oz. frozen mixed organic vegetables of your choice
1 16 oz. jar organic mild salsa
12 oz organic shredded mild cheddar cheese
Sea salt, 1 teaspoon to taste
Optional: 16oz ground turkey, chicken or beef

Directions:

Cook the rice according to package instructions.
While the rice is cooking,

  • remove the frozen veggies from the freezer
  • rinse the cooked or canned beans in plenty of water in a colander
  • add veggies and beans to the casserole and store in fridge

When rice is cooked, transfer it from the pot to the casserole, and mix veggies, beans, rice and ground meat, if using, gently.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F so that it’s ready to go when the rice is cooked.
Distribute the jar of salsa over the top, and sprinkle the cheese over it.
Put casserole dish to oven and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove casserole from the oven, let cool and enjoy! :)

 

 

 

How 2 Set New Year’s Health Goals That Work

I don’t know about you, but I prefer setting smart health goals over making new year’s resolutions, which research shows are often ditched after the first three weeks. Here are my favorite goal-setting tips:

fw31. Be specific

Make your goals specific and achievable. E.g., “I want to lose weight” is not as specific and motivating as

“By December 31, I will have [lost 10% of my current weight and be able to fit into a size [X] dress] when I [attend the annual ball]” – just personalize your own goals.

Another idea: Set small to mid-term goals and celebrate small successes along the way – they will motivate you to keep going and build on your goals.

2. Which behaviors will help you get there?

Now, think about behaviors that will help implement the changes in small enough steps to achieve and build on. For example:

– “I will replace soda with lemon-flavored water three times a week”
– “I will walk 10 minutes three times a week”
– “I will get out into nature or head to the beach at least once a month”
– “I will cook at least one healthy meal a week”
– “I will eat one additional serving of veggies X days a week”
– “I will not eat any processed or packaged foods one day a week, and replace with fresh, delicious whole foods because I’m worth it”
– “I will allow myself to sleep at least 8 hours each weekend” (or at least stay in bed for that long)

If you’re already there – great! Just take what you’re already doing to the next level; e.g., if you’re cooking healthy meals from scratch, choose more organic fruits and vegetables. Your thyroid, liver and other detoxification organs will thank you!

3. Write it down

Lastly, be sure to write down your health goals- even on a sticky! Did you know that people who write down their (health) goals are much more likely to achieve them?

“A (health) goal is a dream set to paper. Don’t just think it – ink it!”

Also, I encourage you to do a little exercise. Take time and look back at 2014 in terms of your health and self-care. Are you happy with how you took care of you – body, mind, spirit? If there’s anything you’re not so happy about, get a friend or support buddy (one of the most effective tools!), hire a health coach like yours truly, organize some help at home so you can pursue the things to nourish and empower you on the road to greater health!

Support Digestion 4 Better Health

“All Disease Begins In The Gut”

…is one of my favorite quotes, by Hippocrates. The best way to sail through this season and next is to go with the flow – the flow of nature to support intestinal health. As you know, our immunity depends 70% on the health and strength of our gut, and more specifically, the integrity of the lining of the gut:

The stronger your gut (lining), the stronger you will be.

Here are two top strategies toward that end:

1. Gently and slowly change what and how we eat

When it’s cool outside, we can enjoy having more warm, cooked foods – soups especially – and less ice-cold drinks and endless salads for lunch. This will not only keep our internal engines brimming with energy but help our intestinal lining stay well “oiled” so to speak. Bone broths from chicken and beef especially will even help heal it, due to the minerals and gelatin that the bones of the animals will ‘leach’ into the broth, and more so if you use bones from grass fed animals. Soups will also help you stay hydrated. A great source for bone broth from pastured animals, if you are pressed for time, is to order it from US Wellness Meats; they’ll ship it to you overnight. It is worth every penny. Here are my favorites.

2. Maintain and/or rebuild probiotic bacteria in your gut.

This is key especially after a course of antibiotics, even if it occurred months ago. Antibiotics kill the good and bad bacteria, and it takes several months for the good bacteria to rebuild. Yeast and fungi like the Candida fungus grow more than in “normal conditions”, as they are no longer kept at bay by the “good” or “pro-life” bacteria, and totally unaffected by the antibiotics.

Did you know that the number of individual bacteria in our gut is larger than the number of cells in our whole body?

This is especially key for children, and toddlers with recurrent ear infections. Many doctors recommend taking extra probiotics or yoghurt while on the medicine. However, many patients, no matter their age, would benefit from a longer-term dietary change, and the support of probiotics. Of course, for some, just adding a bit more fermented dairy such as yoghurt and kefir may do the trick. Sadly, many people don’t do so well even on fermented dairy.

3. Reduce the consumption of simple carbohydrates and even sugar

Yeast, fungi and other microbes feed on these foods, and may contribute to inflammation in the body, including the gut. Left unchecked, they can wreak untold havoc and may contribute to deeper digestive issues, such as constipation, diarrhea among others.

Implementing even one of these suggestions will help your body and your digestion function better – which ultimately will give you more energy, stronger bones, and even more balanced hormones. Which one of them sounds like something you want to try? I’d love to hear from you!

As always, remember taking small steps in the right direction will get you to your goal eventually.

A great first small step? Order some bone broth from US Wellness Meats :)

grass fed beef

Choosing the Healthiest Cookware

Upgrading your cookware to healthier options is always a great idea, if you’re interested in creating your best health ever. Why? Your current collection may be a source of unwanted toxins for you and your loved ones, depending on what you use.

Much of today’s cookware contains even trace amounts of metals such as aluminum, lead, nickel, and endocrine disrupters. People may experience health issues of various kinds and levels, influenced by either the accumulation of toxins such as the above, or from their immune system being so sensitive, it responds to even the smallest amounts of these compounds.  In fact, breast-fed babies have been shown in studies (click here 2 read) to have high levels of various chemicals in their bodies when their moms were exposed to high levels – it transfers into breast milk.

I don’t personally recommend aluminum cookware that is not enameled,
nor most non-stick cookware. Aluminum may react with acidic foods (like tomatoes) – and leach trace amounts into the food, and into your body.

Like slowly dripping water erodes limestone, tiny amounts of aluminum or chemical exposure over long periods of time may erode your health.  For more info on the potential effects of aluminum, see this article.

In my professional opinion, choosing the most ‘inert’ or non-reactive cookware is the way to go. This is by no means an exhaustive list:Pots

  1. Glass. Corning Vision cookware is no longer sold tores, but you can find them easily in thrift stores, and online. I love glass because it’s easy to clean and there is no chemical leakage whatsoever into the food. I’ve been using it in my kitchen for over a decade, without any problems or breakage
  2. Enameled steel or enameled cast iron. My personal favorite brands are LeCreuset and Chantal, both European brands you can easily find in the US, and they are often found on sale, too. Both brands are certified to not leech anLeCreusety metals or anything else into the food – largely because I know their enamel is metal-free. There are many other options, too.
  3. Cast iron. An option for frying pans. It’s the tried and true option our grandmothers used all their lives. It can leach small amounts of iron into the food, and some women actually benefit from it. I use enameled steel or cast iron, mostly because I love them and they are easy to clean. But compared to non-stick frying pans, a cast iron pan is a healthier choice. There are new pans being produced that are non-toxic, but I don’t personally know enough about them to recommend them or not.

If you are concerned about your levels of toxic metals, a hair analysis is an excellent way to find out. For more info, check out my website. If you still need a gift, a hair analysis is a great idea, too!

Paleo Butternut Squash Soup

The cooler months are great for heart- and body-warming vegetable soups. I recently created this super simple version, which was such a big hit with my husband, after several wows he exclaimed “It’s like eating liquid pumpkin pie”. To which I add, without added sugars :) This version will yield 4 servings.

ButternutSquash

Ingredients:

Butternut squash, 1 whole
Pumpkin pie spice (ingredients: clove, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg)
1 cup broth, vegetable or plain filtered water
1 can coconut milk, preferably without BPA in the lining and organic
Celtic Sea Salt, to taste
Black Pepper, to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Cut squash in half, pat with butter, on the cut side, lay it face-down in a baking dish
When oven is preheated, bake squash for 45 minutes, or until a poke with a knife to check for tenderness
Let squash cool, then peel it
Add peeled squash to blender along with the coconut milk, and blend
Reheat briefly in a pot if needed, and add pumpkin pie spice, to taste
Season with salt and pepper, to taste

Serve and enjoy!

Roasted Parsnips and Carrots

Get Back To Your Roots: Roasted Parsnips and Carrots

IMG_1185

This super-simple side vegetable dish is perfect for any cold day. Enjoy.
Ingredients:
2 medium parsnips/person
2-3 medium carrots/person
Olive Oil
Dried thyme, liberal amounts
Celtic sea salt
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Peel, wash and slice all carrots and parsnips thinly. Then arrange them on a baking sheet or baker.
3. Sprinkle olive oil liberally over vegetables. Follow up with the dried thyme and a little sea salt
4. Bake 30-45 minutes, to desired crispiness.
Source: My sister-in-law Christie
It’s become a favorite winter side dish of mine (a recent version is pictured above). I am always surprised at the sweetness and crispy-ness….which makes it a healthy potato-chip substitute to boot. :)

Energize your afternoon and avoid the 3pm-slump

Many people experience a drop in energy in the afternoon. While in some ways that is a natural “slump”, most of us could sail through this time with much more energy than we may be used to, provided we give out bodies the right fuel. Here are three key tips to prevent the afternoon slump:

1. Be sure to start your day right with breakfast and try not to ever miss it (meaning have morefile0001134285944 than coffee or tea and OJ). Breakfast sets the stage of your metabolism for the rest of the day. Often, if you don’t eat enough at breakfast, your body will ask for extra food for the rest of the day. It is the perfect time to have a good amount of carbs, especially if you have a job that requires a lot of cognitive use. Also make sure you have enough good protein – or you may be hungry soon after breakfast. Protein also helps to keep your blood sugar stable, and thus a key factor for many processes in the body, including the prevention of stress.

2. At lunch especially, be sure you consume enough protein, and less carbohydrates and a good amount of vegetables. Many afternoon slumps – or the craving for any food (especially sweets) are just the body getting overwhelmed from eating too many carbs, and then going into a blood sugar slump, causing fatigue, mental and/or physical.

In a quick article like this, it is difficult to provide more specific input on how many carbs and protein to consume, but a good general starting point would be to have at least half your plate be vegetables for lunch, a good palm-size portion of protein and carbs. The vegetables will provide a wonderful amount of fiber and phyto-chemicals as well.

3. Get outside – even just stepping outdoors – and get some fresh air. Even a few deep breaths in fresh air will help get extra oxygen into your brain and re-energize you for the rest of the afternoon. Better yet, take a walk around the block for as little as 5 minutes can do wonders.

Enjoy experimenting with any of these tips ~ and here’s to greater energy for you :)