Beer Can Save You From The Dangers of Grilling!?

Beer and grilling go hand in hand during summer, especially on Memorial Day weekend, which is fast approaching. It turns out marinating your meats in beer can have a protective effect on Heterocyclic Amines (HCAs), harmful compounds that are created when proteins and fats come in contact with high amounts of heat.

 

These compounds unequivocally increase the risk of cancer and this is one of the reasons why there has been some concerns about meat and cancer risk.
However, marinades made of beer are shown to reduce the formation of these harmful compounds when meat is grilled! No research has been done to see if drinking beer while eating grilled meat has the same effect, so it’s best to marinade if you’re aim is to reduce HCAs. (Source 
Here)

Not a beer drinker? Neither am I. Fortunately, citrus, rosemary, garlic, thyme, and onion also have been shown to reduce heterocyclic amine formation in high heat cooking of red meat (sources here and here). It appears that antioxidants may be responsible for this reduction in harmful compounds, so if you are grilling, be sure to use an herb-rich marinade and eat your meat with lots of veggies!

Since gluten-intolerance forbids me from using beer as a marinade, I have an herb-rich, alcohol-free approach to reducing HCAs when I grill. Try one of these marinades on your grillables the next time you fire up!

 

Southwest Marinade

  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup avocado or grapeseed oil (these withstand the high heat of the grill better than olive oil)
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt (VIBRANCE is a fan of Celtic Sea Salt)

Best as a marinade for chicken, flank steak, pork chops, bell peppers, corn on the cob and summer squashes.

Lemon Rosemary Marinade

  • 1/3 cup avocado oil
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 6 sprigs fresh rosemary stolen from your neighbor’s yard (it tastes better that way!)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed and finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Delightful with chicken (one-in), boneless leg of lamb, shrimp, bass, lamb chops, zucchini, summer squashes, asparagus, shallots and leeks. 

Enjoy the glory of grilling season, and I’ll see you on the patio!

Rubber Duckies and Mac & Cheese

These Have More than Color

My Facebook wall lit up last week with this piece from the Seattle Times, discussing the finding of phthalates in boxed macaroni and cheese. Phthalates are an industrial chemical used to soften plastics. Many of us grew up unwittingly consuming phthalates as we chewed on plastic teething rings and hot drank bath water in which our rubber duckies swam. Phthalates were banned from children’s products in the USA over a decade ago. Despite this ban, our children are still exposed – now from foods, beverages, and pharmaceuticals, likely due to machinery in the food processing industry and the soft plastics that encase our beverages and, in teens and adults, the lids on our to-go lattes in the morning.

Phthhhh, you may say. Why should I be concerned about the mac and cheese I had as a kid? Why should I be concerned about my kids’ occasional mac and cheese treat?

Phthalates act as endocrine disruptors in the body, which means they interfere with normal hormone functioning in humans and animals. In the case of Phthalates, research shows that they bind to steroid nuclear receptors and steroid binding proteins. This can then inhibit a message to the cell’s nucleus to do any number of things a hormone would signal a nucleus to do (think fundamental actions at the DNA level that will impact cell growth, differentiation, and changes in gene expression) or prevent a hormone from sending a message to other areas of the body.
Estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, estradiol (all are sex hormones), aldosterone (blood pressure), and cortisol all utilize steroid receptors. If phthalates bind to the receptor then these hormones cannot bind to the cell to send a message the body needs to receive.

What does this look like in real life? Phthalates are believed to disrupt male hormones like testosterone and have been linked to genital birth defects in infant boys and learning and behavior problems in older children. It may also disrupt cortisol and progesterone balance by binding to Corticosteroid-binding Globulin (CBG). One study shows that parents with higher levels of phthalate metabolites in urine who have difficulty conceiving appear more likely to give birth to low-weight infants (via IVF).

This article from Slate suggests an occasional box of mac and cheese isn’t going to kill anyone. And while that is true, this argument completely fails to acknowledge that exposure is coming from multiple sources – some of which we cannot easily control. Because phthalates soften plastic, they are used in thousands of products, such as:

  • building materials
  • household furnishings
  • clothing (especially plastic rain coats)
  • cosmetics and personal care products (nail polish, soap, shampoo, hair spray)
  • pharmaceuticals
  • nutritional supplements
  • herbal remedies
  • medical devices
  • dentures
  • children’s toys (especially imported from outside the USA)
  • glow sticks
  • modelling clay
  • food packaging
  • automobiles
  • lubricants
  • waxes
  • cleaning materials
  • insecticides

We consume phthlates via direct ingestion, inhalation, intravenous injection and skin absorption. Products containing phthalates result in exposure through direct contact and use (like hair spray), indirectly through leaching into other products (the mac and cheese), or general environmental contamination (when your neighbor sprays for insects).

At the end of the day, whether or not we buy boxed mac and cheese is one exposure we can easily eliminate. Considering phthalate levels were up to 4 times higher among all boxed mac and cheese (even organic) when compared to a block of cheddar cheese, this becomes an actionable step to reduce exposure. Stopping my organic boxed mac and cheese habit and AquaNet addiction is easier than getting my neighborhood and city to stop using insecticides in public spaces and more realistic than refusing to use vehicles for transportation. Those with dentures or medical devices can reduce additional exposure by these means as well and use dietary changes to help their body process and eliminate existing exposure.

While we may not be aware of all the chemical exposures our bodies have to work around we can change our diet and lifestyle to reduce exposure and make sure our body has the best chance to detoxify what it comes in contact with. Beyond reducing exposure to environmental pollutants and processed foods, consuming a diet rich in vegetables (especially greens and cruciferous veggies) can ensure your body has the necessary components for efficient detoxification. This is especially important if you or your family have a history of infertility, hormone imbalances, or cancer, or if you or a family member suffers from autoimmune disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes and there is no family history of such illness. Our genetics outline a future if we take the past of least resistance, yet lifestyle and environment determine whether or not we succumb to genetic predisposition. If you have an illness that is unheard of in your family history it may mean that you’ve been exposed to something unique your parents and grandparents have not which triggered genes to promote disease. Much can be done to reduce damage and in some case, put such illnesses into remission and your food choices ALWAYS have an impact on the outcome of your diagnosis, regardless of disease. If you’d like to learn how diet can affect your health or disease management, schedule a complimentary call with VIBRANCE to discuss how you can take control of your health.

 

Sources and More Info:

An excellent post discussing phthalates and the mac and cheese study in more depth: (Examine.com)

Messerlian, C., Braun, J. M., Mínguez-Alarcón, L., Williams, P. L., Ford, J. B., Mustieles, V., … & Hauser, R. (2017). Paternal and maternal urinary phthalate metabolite concentrations and birth weight of singletons conceived by subfertile couples. Environment International107, 55-64.

Sheikh, I. A., & Beg, M. A. (2017). Endocrine disruption: In silico interactions between phthalate plasticizers and corticosteroid binding globulin. Journal of Applied Toxicology.

Schettler, T. E. D. (2006). Human exposure to phthalates via consumer products. International journal of andrology29(1), 134-139.

Bullet Journaling for Health

Taylor Miller's Bullet Journal Tracker/Buzzfeed
Taylor Miller’s Bullet Journal Tracker/Buzzfeed

Like so many others, I have jumped upon the Bullet Journal train. I started my BuJo (what die-hard fans call it) last year as a means of keeping art in my life while organizing the juggling of appointments, grad school, and managing a household. I’ve found my bullet journal to be the best way to be consistent in planning, because the blank pages provide a means for me to pick up where I left off and I can create the system I need when I need it rather than be locked into a planner with irrelevant trackers, boxes that are too small, and dates that are unforgiving if I take a month or two off (nothing is more demotivating than skimming through dozens of blank pages to get to today’s date – it just feels so wasteful!)

What we all call the Bullet Journal was created by Ryder Carroll and is a plain, streamlined system for organizing your life. You can read more about it here, as well as check out guest posts from Bujo fans who have gone to a whole other place in creatively organizing their lives.

This post is specifically regarding using a bullet journal for tracking your health. I use my own bullet journal to plan meals and track my supplements, exercise, coffee consumption, and any dietary tweaks I am focusing on at any given time. This allows me to stay connected to whether or not my supplement regimen needs tweaking, prevents me from becoming over-caffeinated, and note the effects of any dietary changes I am making.
Others use it to track medical symptoms, mood, keep a food log, or organize meal planning and medication schedules. The great thing about a Bullet Journal is it is tailored to you and your needs, and is effortless to change as your needs change. You don’t need a new journal – you simply need to turn the page and shift your focus!

Here are some samples of what can be done with a Bullet Journal:

Keep self-care options on hand for when you need them but are too frazzled to recall what works (photo@thebulletjournaladdict.com)
Keep self-care options on hand for when you need them but are too frazzled to recall what works. (photo@thebulletjournaladdict.com)

 

Track all your healthy habits to stay on top of your goals! Photo @bossgirlbujo/Instagram
Track all your healthy habits to stay on top of your goals! Photo @bossgirlbujo/Instagram

 

Sublimereflection.com has nailed weekly meal planning with this template!
Sublimereflection.com has nailed weekly meal planning with this template!

 

credit to @illustratedgrey-Via-instagram.com
Track meds, medical conditions and symptoms. credit to @illustratedgrey-Via-instagram.com

 

Stay on task with a healthy eating challenge like Whole30 or an Allergy Elimination Diet! credit @ashleytakestheworld/Instagram
Stay on task with a healthy eating challenge like Whole30 or an Allergy Elimination Diet!
credit @ashleytakestheworld/via Instagram

Do you Bullet Journal? What are some things you are tracking in your life these days? If you are curious about Bullet Journaling for health let me know and I’ll happily share more posts on the topic!

Nontoxic Household Cleaning Products (DIY)

clean all the things

Spring is here! There are loads of people who utilize spring as a time to ‘reset’ and shake off the winter sludge with a dietary detox or cleanse. Spring cleaning season is also here, and you may be finally seeing the extent that the dust has accumulated on the blinds now that the sun is shining. While seasonal detoxes can be a great mental reset, if toxins are a concern it is of primary importance not to cleanse your diet for X days, but to first minimize exposure to harmful chemicals every day. I encourage you to go through your cupboards and garage this spring and get rid of harmful pesticides, herbicides, and heavy-duty cleaners which have warning labels on them. While you can pick up some non-toxic cleaners at the store, some of these still contain questionable ingredients and all of them are far more expensive than the DIY recipes I have here that work just as well. Give these a try and let me know what you think!

DIY everyday cleaner – I have a couple bottles of this in the house in various places. Some essential oils have strong antibacterial and antiviral properties; these are the ones I like to use in this cleaner.

  • 1 cup white vinegar (If your countertops are made from marble, granite, or stone, use rubbing alcohol or cheap vodka instead of vinegar (its acidity can harm these surfaces).
  • 1 cup distilled water
  •  10-20 drops of your favorite essential oils (lemon, tea tree, orange, pine, and clove all have great antibacterial action). Alternatively, add the peel from 1-2 citrus fruits instead!

Mix all in a spray bottle and use when needed.

Use Lemon and Salt to Clean Wooden Cutting Boards & Surfaces

All Natural Kitchen Cleaning Hacks Photo via The Kitchn

Clean butcher blocks and wooden cutting boards with lemon and salt! Sprinkle the wooden surface with coarse salt and then scour it well using a lemon that has been cut in half. Squeeze it slightly as you scrub to release the lemon juice. Let it sit for about 5 minutes, scrape it off and then give it a final rinse with a clean, wet sponge.

Clean Your Baking Sheets with Baking Soda & Vinegar

All Natural Kitchen Cleaning Hacks Baking SheetPhoto via Bon Appetit

Any baking sheet that gets used often will end up with black, caked-on residue. I used to think I needed a pressure washer to get it looking new again, but not quite! An easier solution is to mix 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup baking soda. Put the baking sheet in a plugged sink, and cover it with the baking soda and water, letting it sit for 30 minutes to an hour before scrubbing that black tar off with a scouring pad.

Shower Cleaner – 1 cup water, 1 cup vinegar, 5-10 drops of lemon, pine, or lavender essential oils. Spray on tile and let sit for several minutes before wiping away.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner Kristin Marr at Live Simply has a great toilet bowl cleaner that utilizes baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. The baking soda adds a little bit of grit and the peroxide disinfects *and* reacts with the making soda to foam up the bowl a bit. Take her advice and keep the two separated until they are to be used. Here’s the recipe:

    • citrus-379376_640cup water distilled or boiled water for long-term use
    • 1/2 cup baking soda
    • 1/2 cup Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile soap
    • 15-30 drops lavender essential oil or grapefruit, tea tree, lemon, orange, or whatever you like!
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
    1. Using a small funnel, add the liquid ingredients: water and castile soap to a squirt container or bottle. Then, add the baking soda. Shake to combine the ingredients, except the hydrogen peroxide.
    2. Place the top on the bottle (make sure the squirt top is closed!). Shake the bottle vigorously until the ingredients are combined.

To Use: Squirt the interior sides of the toilet bowl with cleaner. Spray hydrogen peroxide over the cleaner. Allow both to rest for 5-15 minutes, then scrub the toilet bowl with a cleaner brush. Store the cleaner (sans peroxide) at room temperature and vigorously shake before using. Separation of the ingredients is normal. You may wish to store the peroxide in a spray bottle next to the bowl cleaner. Alternatively, it can be omitted, but it will then not have as strong as a disinfectant effect. Read more here.

Mildew killer – spray vinegar directly onto the affected area. Let sit for 30 min, then rinse away with warm water, scrubbing if needed.

DIY Window Cleaner – This is originally from Crunchy Betty, but nabbed from WholeNewMom.com.

  • 1/4 cup white vinegar spray-316524_1280
  • 1/4 cup isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch (the cornstarch reduces streaking)
  • 2 cups water
  • 8-10 drops essential oil of choice (optional)

To use: Combine everything in a spray bottle and shake well to mix. Spray onto glass surface and wipe clean with newspaper.

For more recipes I strongly recommend the book Clean House, Clean Planet! It’s a timeless publication that covers all areas of the home. If you want something a little more current that includes such 21st century items as foaming hand soap and dishwasher pellets, check out The Organically Clean Home: 150 Everyday Organic Cleaning Products You Can Make Yourself–The Natural, Chemical-Free Way

These cleaners will leave your home smelling fresh and your surfaces shining! In my next post I’ll share some other tips to keep toxin exposure low inside your home.

Are Your Supplements Full of Shit?

Supplement quality is a constant challenge here in the United States for many reasons. One of the main challenges is that the FDA, the government agency responsible for ensuring safety and efficacy of supplements, is heavily employed by individuals with significant ties to commercial supplement interests.  Another challenge is that funding for the FDA is limited enough that reliable, consistent enforcement of existing laws is laughable, at best. There is simply not enough manpower to enforce current laws on the books, so it takes significant consumer harm and backlash to get investigations underway.

Despite this, the New York Attorney General conducted an investigation in 2014 and 2015 on common supplements one can purchase over the counter. The degree of label misrepresentation was astonishing and, quite frankly, morally reprehensible.

screenshot-2016-09-28-21-25-11

In the graphic above, you can see that most of the supplements tested had no traces of DNA matching the labeled material being tested. There is some argument that the method used (DNA barcoding) may be inaccurate as an extracted, dissolved, crushed or otherwise altered plant may have altered DNA that was not detected as it was compared to whole plant DNA.  Even if this were so and it accounted for the Attorney General’s findings, it does not excuse the fact that GMP standards (the standard by which supplement companies are supposed to adhere to) were not met in over 50% of the 450 companies inspected by the FDA. Note that the FDA does not even have enough resources to inspect all operating facilities in the USA.

The GMP stands for ‘Good Manufacturing Practices’. This is the absolute basic level of quality a manufacturer is expected to adhere to – maintaining sanitary facilities, preventing cross contamination, documenting of procedures, the ability to trace batches and systems to recall products if necessary, etc. The GMP has no enforcement of quality of the product or the raw materials in the product. Over 50% of tested facilities had violations ranging from no written formula available for their product and no concerns for cross contamination of major allergens to products contaminated with rat feces. So yes, you supplement may literally be full of shit.

Basically in the GMP we have a set standard that is unenforceable and so it can’t even assure us that what is on the label is in the label. Investigations consistently show that there are major problems with the supplements most Americans have access to. Consumer Labs reports 1 in 4 products has a major problem – from significant deviation of the amount in the product vs what is listed on the bottle, to rancid oils and products that won’t break down in the body – the ‘expensive urine’ you’ve been warned about.

What on earth do you do?!?!

Well, according to the graphic above, it would seem best not to get generic supplements available from big box stores.

Beyond the FDA are some consumer watchdog groups that are our best bet for quality assurance – many of these were created before the GMP standards came into play, but remain a higher quality than what the FDA can assure us right now:

ConsumerLabs.com is a for profit company. A supplement company can pay them to have their product tested for quality and carry the Consumer Lab seal of approval. If that product fails to meet criteria it will not be listed on the website. However, if Consumer Lab purchases the supplement from a store and the supplement fails they will post results on their website. So it’s a ‘give us money and you can choose to post results or not’ situation, unless they purchase the product from a store, much like you would, and test it themselves.

A Consumer Labs seal of approval will assure that:

  • contains the key ingredients listed on the label in the declared potency and amounts; it does not contain harmful levels of specified contaminants using stringent limits, for example, California Proposition 65.
  • Product disintegrates or dissolves per USP standards (75% or more dissolves in less than 60 minutes time)
  • The product contains the tested ingredients listed on the label in the declared amounts and of high quality; any health claims must comply with FDA regulations.

USP – United States Pharmacopeia. This third party non-profit tests ingredients, finished products and conducts facility audits. Learn more about the USP here.

A USP certification assures that:

  • The product contains the ingredients listed on the label in the declared potency and amounts; it does not contain harmful levels of specified contaminants; and it has been manufactured according to FDA current GMPs and USP GMPs.
  • Absence of ingredients with known safety risk; appropriate allergen labeling; meets acceptable levels of specified contaminants, based on toxicologic concerns; testing per California Proposition 65 for labeling purposes.
  • Product disintegrates or dissolves per USP standards.
  • Product label has an accurate list of ingredients in the stated amounts. All claims of fact, either stated or implied, must be supported by data, consistent with USP program requirements. Any health claims must be within FDA regulations.

NSF – the NSF is a non-profit organization that tests a variety of consumer products. The NSF dietary supplements certification program assures the following:

  • Label claim review to certify that what’s on the label is in the bottle
  • Contaminant review to ensure the product contains no undeclared ingredients or unacceptable levels of contaminants, including >200 athletic banned substances for Certified for Sport products; it has been manufactured according to FDA’s current GMPs.
  • All claims of fact made for the product, either stated or implied, must be accurate, consistent with NSF program requirements, and meaningful in terms of the benefits offered.

Therapeutic Goods Administration of Australia – considered the most stringent and vigorous of certifying bodies, the TGA requires the same amount of testing for supplements as done for pharmaceutical drugs, as Australia does not distinguish between supplements or drugs. Down under, your multivitamin is considered ‘complimentary medicine’. Very few companies in the USA are certified through TGA. This is considered the gold standard worldwide.

Make sure that the company you use has the final product being tested to ensure that what is on the label is in the label, that contaminants are absent. You can contact them directly and ask them what they are doing for quality assurance and ask for proof if you do not see it on their website or you can check out Consumer Labs.

Thorne Research is a company that has transparent, clear quality assurance that they openly share with their customers. Many companies will not have their quality assurance clearly listed on the website, nor will they even have a number to call to get information! Pharmaceutical grade supplements that are available from practitioners will often meet these higher standards, share them openly, and remain consistent in testing to assure quality. This is precisely why licensed professionals use them; a quality standard is essential to producing reliable results for patients. You can read Thorne’s Quality Assurance here. Other supplement companies with pharmaceutical grade quality include Metagenics, Pure Encapsulations, Xymogen, Douglas Labs and Seeking Health. These are typically not found in supplement stores, although if there is a Pharmaca near you you may find some of these companies there.

If you would like shop for supplements that are GMP certified and practitioner grade check out the VIBRANCE Nutrition Dispensary. You can find many supplements available only at your doctor’s office, such as Pure Encapsulations, Seeking Health, Metagenics and more. Sign up for our newsletter and email me if you’d like a 10% discount on all supplements through Fullscript!

Purchase products through our Fullscript virtual dispensary.
Resources:

Knight, Peter, ND. (2016). Whole Foods Nutrition and Supplementation: Week 10: Lecture 2: Quality Issues in the Dietary Supplement Industry [class notes]. 

O’Connor, Anahad. New York Attorney General Targets Supplements at Major Retailers. New York Times, FEBRUARY 3, 2015. Accessed online 27 September 2016

THE EDITORIAL BOARD. Conflicts of Interest at the F.D.A. New York Times, APRIL 13, 2015. Accessed online 27 September 2016.

Unknown. (2016). Quality Certification Programs for Dietary Supplements. JOURNAL OF THE ACADEMY OF NUTRITION AND DIETETICS. Volume 116 Number 9

Wild Rose Honey and Rose Scented Body Oil

Last week we went camping for the first time this year. Our Squish (who isn’t so little and Squishy anymore!) had a terrible camping experience last fall and we have been hesitant to go out again. Thankfully he had a GREAT time playing and sleeping in his outdoor “Ohm”.

IMG-20160708-WA0000
While we were out we stumbled upon hundreds of wild rose that were blooming. An herbalist was picking rosebuds to dry and use in her skin care preparations. I decided to take a page out of her book and harvest some petals of my own, uncertain of what exactly I would do with them. I decided to use the bulk of my rose petals for a rose infused honey that I will drizzle on soft cheeses, rub on pork before broiling or grilling, and give away to friends and family this holiday season. With the remainder I had I made a rose infused oil for homemade chapstick or salves (or a moisturizer if I get lazy) and I had just enough left to dry for future use in an herbal tea blend!

Rose Infused Honey2016-07-10 10.36.04

32 oz. raw honey (preferably local to your area)*
1 sandwich baggie filled with wild rose petals and buds
Loosely fill jars with rose petals, gently crushing them in your fingers to release oils. Cover with honey, stirring to get the extra air out. Seal and let sit, turning occasionally, for a minimum of 4 days.

2016-07-10 10.35.30

Rose Body Oil

About 2 cups of rose petals
Pour the rose petals into the jar, mashing them gently to release oils.  Cover with apricot oil. Let sit in a cool, dark, place for 4 weeks (shaking occasionally) before straining for use in body care products or as a moisturizer.

 

 

 

*Commercial honey is pasteurized and filtered so fine that no pollen remains. Given that the FDA identifies honey as having pollen in it, can it even be called honey at that point? Sometimes it is also diluted with corn syrup, imported from China, and otherwise not the healing, healthy food you’ve read about. All enzymes and vitamins have been destroyed.

**Apricot oil is derived from the pit of apricots. It is a light oil that makes skin velvety soft. It’s great to apply upon dry, parched skin and won’t feel heavy or greasy when used topically, making it a favorite of massage therapists. It can also be used in hair as a hot oil treatment.

Resources:

Learn more about commercial honey here: http://www.motherearthnews.com/real-food/comparing-commercial-and-locally-produced-raw-honey-zbcz1412.aspx

 

How to Run a Marathon and Not be sore the next day

1) Train appropriately for the course: No amount of prevention matters as much as this. My very first marathon I did everything by the book – ate right, did a long run of 22 miles, had weekly massages, stretched diligently…but I did all my training on a pancake flat trail for a course that ended up being about 50% rolling hills. To say I was sore was an understatement; I felt as though my quads were thrown in a Cuisinart and then shoved back into my skin!That rookie mistake had me hobbling around for a full week. It was a mistake I only made once, so you don’t have to.

2) Refuel immediately afterward: when you cross the finish line your cells are clamoring for fuel. They are best primed to receive nourishment within 45 minutes of a workout, so have something on hand that has protein, carbohydrates, and antioxidants to pump those cells up with the nutrition they need to repair damaged muscle tissue. I often have a coconut water based smoothie with protein powder after my hard runs. Bonus: this one action will typically give you enough energy to prevent crashing later in the day!

3) Stay hydrated: your body needs water to flush out lactic acid and other metabolites from your hard work as well as bring in nutrients to restore. Staying hydrated ensures there’s enough liquid material to accomplish hundreds of metabolic reactions that require water to do these tasks.

4) Ice bath. The notorious ice bath. Dreaded by all runners – until you have one. Here’s my super secret squirrel method to the ice bath that takes the edge off and makes it *almost* enjoyable.

5) Massage: schedule a massage 24-72 hours after your race. Any initial inflammation will go down and the extra stretching and massaging will help the body heal and repair itself. This also helps prevent muscular imbalances from leading to injury as you continue training for your next event.

6) Sleep: sleep is when we do most of our healing. Get a good night’s sleep after your race and you will be setting yourself up for a quicker recovery! Post-race naps are also well earned!

 

These are tips that I use regularly and have used with all my runners over the last ten years to help them cross the finish line and have the energy and recovery to allow them to take care of kids, get back to work, and avoid injury. Give them a try and see how they work for you!

Caloric Density: how to maximize satisfaction and lose weight

Different foods contain different concentrations of calories per set unit. For instance, you may have heard that fat is 9 calories per gram while protein and carbohydrate is 4 calories per gram. Insoluble fiber (what grandma called ‘roughage’) is a type of carbohydrate unabsorbed by the body, so it contributes no calories.

When you look at the graph below, you can see how filling vegetables are. This is because they contain lots of fiber and water and little starch (the kind of carbohydrate we can absorb), fat and protein.  This is why vegetables are the cornerstone of any dietary plan that focuses on achieving a healthy body weight.

stomach-chart-caloric volume foods

Here you can see caloric density in action. The plates on the left would not be enough to keep me satisfied for a day, but I can hardly imagine getting in all the food to the right within 24 hours! Fresh fruits and vegetables provide ample fiber and water that fill the stomach and signal the body to stop the hunger signal.

EnergyDensityPR

 

Choosing a vegetable rich meal ensures you feel fuller on fewer calories. Need help getting your greens? Join my new, free 30 days Glorious Greens challenge!

 

Elderberry Noms and Other Immune Boosters

September is back to school and the transition into autumn, which means a rash of sniffles shall soon be descending upon your home and workplace.

Elderberry is a daily tonic we use in our home to keep the little munchkin sniffle free. It’s also a great daily tonic for adults, and being of age we can entertain all sorts of fun uses for it (elderberry mimosa, anyone?).

Below is a recipe for an elderberry syrup I adapted from HerbMentor.com, a most excellent website if you wish to learn all things herbal in nature. I’ve used this syrup as a base in gummies, beverages, and even drizzled on pork and chicken.

  • 1/2 cup dried elderberries (Sambucus nigra)
  • 1 stick of Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum Zeylanicum)
  • 1 Tablespoon grated ginger
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 4 peppercorns
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup honey

First put 1/2 cup of dried elderberries into the small saucepan. Add the 5 cloves, cinnamon stick, 1 Tablespoon grated ginger, and 2 cups of water.
Cover and bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan.
Turn down the heat, leave saucepan covered, and simmer until the liquid is reduced by 1/2. This usually takes 20-30 minutes.
Strain into a bowl using a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth. Squeeze the remaining juice out of the berries. Add 1 cup of honey to the strained juice and stir until dissolved.

Store the syrup in a closed jar in the refrigerator and use within 4-6 weeks.

Elderberry Soda2015-09-01 08.00.11

  • 2 tbsp. elderberry syrup
  • 6-8 oz. club soda

Pour syrup into a small glass and top with club soda. This is my go-to for stomach bugs!

 

 

Astragalus

Astragalus is one of my favorite adaptogens. I put it in all my winter stews and it is a ever-present ingredient in my bone broth. As with all adaptogens, it helps the body more effectively deal with existing stressors, be they mental or physical, thus protecting the immune system from being worn down by changes in schedules, sleep patterns, seasons, and responsibilities. Rich in antioxidants. it also protects cells from damage. It is mild in flavor and contributes no notable taste difference in broths and soups. I use slices of dried root in cooking, which is easy to remove before consumption. This bone broth recipe is the standard in our home.

Dragons’ Breath

Sometimes try as one might one cannot stave off a cold or flu. My go to when I feel it settling in is a spicy hot lemonade a client affectionately (or not) dubbed ‘Dragon’s Breath’. Dragon’s breath is potent stuff and is best shared, particularly if you share a bed with someone! This formula has antiviral and antibacterial properties from the ample ginger, garlic, and lemon used. Cayenne and hot water provide heat to the body, facilitating eradication of illness. Get the recipe and protocol here: Dragon’s Breath

Calgon Ain’t Got Nuthin’ on THIS!

I love luxurious herbal baths. I rarely take them, and since becoming a mother I can count the amount of times I’ve had one easily on one hand. Lately I’ve been speaking to a friend of mine who is a radical self-care devotee and uber-fan of what she refers to as ‘tubbie’ time.  She has inspired me to find some herbal bath recipes to test and share with her for her birthday at the end of this month.

 

(SHHHHH! Don’t tell!)

 

Soothing Softening Milk Bath

Milk contains lactic acid, which helps to exfolate skin. Lavender comes in to provide post-workweek decompression and the cornstarch is added to make the water silky smooth and also soothe skin.

 

  • 1 cup dry milk
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup lavender sprigs

Combine all in a decorative jar and use after a rough day to promote relaxation and sleep. Makes one bath.

Romantic Rose Bath

Rose is traditionally used to tonify and soften skin. Almond oil is also a great moisturizer and the vinegar exfoliates and reportedly neutralizes the water pH to prevent skin irritation from the essential oils.

  • 3 drops rose essential oil
  • 1 tbsp. sweet almond oil
  • 1/4 cup rose water
  • 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 handful dried rose petals

Add rose petals to the bottom of a pretty glass jar. Add oils and stir with a chopstick to blend. Top with rosewater and vinegar and shake well. makes one bath.