Thanksgiving is right around the corner. I'll be working on Thanksgiving, so I'm starting to prepare now. Even for those of you with time off, now is the time to start getting things together for your holiday meals to make them more enjoyable and less stressful.
My Thanksgiving meal will be mostly Paleo and/or Whole30 with a few non-paleo options thrown in for other family members (like traditional mashed potatoes and sourdough bread). We will be roasting whole chickens instead of baking turkey or ham because, well, I don't really care for turkey OR ham (Please don't disown me. I just have never really liked either of those!)
This cauliflower rice stuffing by The Healthy Maven is delicious and light. It's plant-based, vegetarian, vegan, paleo, keto & Whole30 friendly (but it's also sure to please other members of your family without special dietary needs. www.thehealthymaven.com/2015/11/cauliflower-rice-stuffing.html
I've taken this Brussels sprouts slaw to many gatherings and it never disappoints. It's even sure to win over people who *think* they don't like Brussels (because it's really all about how they're cooked... who wants mushy, slimy Brussels?! Not me.) paleocomfortfoods.com/recipes/brussels-sprouts-slaw-converting-the-masses/
I make this recipe almost weekly during the fall and winter because it is so good and so simple. I eat it pretty much for breakfast, lunch or dinner a few months out of the year and never get tired of it. This is a great way to have sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving that aren't covered in crap (did y'all grow up with sweet potatoes smothered in marshmallows? Me, too. But seriously. This is way better.) www.stephgaudreau.com/2011/11/08/apple-sweet-potato-bake/
f\Green bean casserole with the canned, fried onions and cream of whatever soup (mushroom?) was a favorite of mine growing up. I'll be fixing a recipe similar to this one out of Danielle Walker's "Celebrations" cookbook www.booksamillion.com/p/Danielle-Walkers-Against-All-Grain/Danielle-Walker/9781607749424#nav that I highly recommend any paleo enthusiast purchase. This one is similar with the creamy sauce and crispy onions that we all associate with green bean casserole. fedandfit.com/paleo-green-bean-casserole/
I was able to find a sneak peek of a recipe out of Danielle Walker's cookbook I mentioned above. There's really no reason to buy canned cranberry stuff when making your own is this easy. Most any grocery store will have fresh cranberries in stock this time of year and they're just too good to pass up. againstallgrain.com/2017/12/06/paleo-cranberry-sauce-recipe/
I made this Paleo Pumpkin Hummus last year as a snack and it was a hit! I love hummus and crackers and even though I've successfully reintroduced legumes, you won't miss them in this creamy hummus recipe. Pair this with some veggies and grain-free crackers for a snack everyone can enjoy while watching football or parades. www.simplemills.com/pages/paleo-pumpkin-hummus-legume-free
For pie, I like to make a variation of this vegan & paleo recipe by Healy Eats Real healyeatsreal.com/paleo-vegan-pumpkin-pie but with a spin on a graham cracker crust. Last year, I googled "graham cracker crust" and replaced the graham crackers in the recipe with these Simple Mills Toasted Pecan Cookies. Ohmygoodness. Definitely making a repeat this year!
Toasted Pecan Cookie Shortbread Crust (to pair with your pumpkin pie recipe of choice):
1 1/2 cups finely crushed Simple Mills Toasted Pecan Cookies
6 tablespoons ghee/grassfed butter/coconut oil (melted)
Combine cookie crumbles and oil of choice in a bowl and mix until crumbly. Transfer to pie pan and press firmly to make a crust. Pre-bake 5 minutes or so (on about 350F) until lightly browned. Then follow your pumpkin pie recipe.
The crust will be crumbly (like a shortbread) but it is oh-so-good when paired with pumpkin filling.
Last, but not least, I'll serve mulled wine made with a couple bottles of red wine and a bag of mulling spices that I'll put in my slow cooker to keep warm all day. It's a wonderful, warm treat to have that everyone seems to enjoy. The mulling spices I use are from here www.worldmarket.com/product/world-market-whole-mulling-spice-bag.do?sortby=ourPicks
I wish you and your family and friends a very Happy Thanksgiving! May you remember what the day is truly about and not get lost in the stress of making everything perfect (been there, done that). No one will notice if there's dust on your baseboards or a cobweb on your ceiling. Enjoy the time spent making memories with those you love.
The holidays are just around the corner... can you believe it?! What better time to reach some of your wellness goals than by putting healthy lifestyle items on your wish list.
Transitioning to healthier living can be overwhelming and expensive. Put your holiday money or wish list to good use by adding in some items that will help you reach your wellness goals.
Here are some of my ideas:
1.) Healthier pots and pans. Nonstick pots and pans are really, really bad for us. One chemical (PFOA) contributes to thyroid disease and reproductive harm! Yikes!
I still have the nonstick set that was gifted to me at a bridal shower but am working towards replacing those pots and pans piece by piece. I have currently have a few pieces of cast iron and enameled cast iron but still need to exchange my sauce pots for healthier ones like these www.xtrema.com/?gclid=Cj0KCQjw9ZDeBRD9ARIsAMbAmobMRT0zbAR93bIgo3FVCCb8jDXoTscfuf5RGquTPwMSjagU24N97skaAqMGEALw_wcB
2.) Safer beauty products. Parabens, phthalates and other nasty chemicals are not things you want to be putting on your body. They are endocrine disruptors that can lead to reproductive issues, thyroid problems and cancers just to name a few. What better time to give (and get) safer choices for yourself and your family members. There's a link in my menu to shop safer beauty and all purchases come with a 60 day money back guarantee. But I'm pretty sure you're going to love these high performing, low toxin products.
3.) Stainless straws would make a wonderful (and inexpensive) stocking stuffer that will reduce the amount of plastic in our environment (and the amount of BPA in your body).
4.) Speaking of stocking stuffers, how about healthier toothpaste and deodorant (since those were staples in my stocking growing up)? Look for deodorant without aluminum (so it will be just deodorant, not antiperspirant) and toothpaste minus SLS and fluoride. My favorite deodorant brand is Native deodorant and I like NOW brand toothpaste but Target and Amazon both have great selections of these products.
5.) Last is a gift that will last all year. A Thrive Market membership is an easy and convenient way to have access to healthy foods, home & personal care products all at the click of a button.You can check them out for 30 days for FREE and get 25% off your first order (of already super discounted prices) by using the my link.
If you follow me on social media, I made a BIG announcement a few weeks ago... I recently added to Whole30 Certified Coach to my (long) list of credentials,
You might be wondering why a pharmacist with an MBA bothered pursuing yet another certification. The answer is simple. I wanted to be able to use something that had helped ME to be able to help YOU.
My Whole30 story isn't as glamorous as some. I didn't lose a large amount of weight (or really lose any weight at all), I didn't have major food issues to work through BUT I did feel like crap and wanted to feel better.
My entire life I've been interested in health. I played sports my entire life and in college became interested in running and fitness and healthy eating. Healthy eating back then was grilled chicken, lots of fat free or low fat yogurt, plenty of granola bars and low calorie frozen meals. For the longest time, I looked and felt pretty good.
In pharmacy school, I did more of the same. I ate well and exercised but I was caffeinated and stressed to the max. My health as I had known it came crumbling down right before I graduated. Hair loss, a cold I couldn't kick, tons of anxiety. The doctors said I was stressed (DUH) and put me on some anxiety medicine and sent me on my way. But my symptoms (always cold, always constipated, hair falling out in clumps, eyebrows going missing, TMJ) kept progressing.
After what was probably YEARS of suffering, I was finally diagnosed with Hashimoto's thyroiditis. But what now?! Aside from taking a thyroid supplement, there really wasn't much else modern medicine had to offer. I knew there had to be a better way.
I had been gluten free for a year or so prior to my diagnosis and knew the next step had to be something BIG. I was familiar with Whole30 and decided to give it a go. I literally had nothing to lose. Like a good scientist, I did baseline labs prior to completing my first Whole30 in January 2016. I missed cheese and wine (which had become my go-to dinner after my late shifts at work) but persevered.
My persistence paid off. After 30 days, my thyroid antibodies (which measure the attack of the body on the thyroid gland) had decreased by 50%. Enthusiastic, I decided to do another Whole30 and had another 50% decrease in antibodies. I haven't had a bite of cheese in over 2 years.
After much research and literal "paralysis by analysis", I had found a real, sustainable method to help control my symptoms.
I shared my results with my parents (one with high blood pressure and one with high cholesterol) and they agreed to jump on board.My first Whole30 clients ended up going off of their blood pressure and cholesterol medicine JUST by eating real food.
When the opportunity to become a Whole30 Certified Coach presented itself, I knew I had to jump on board. As a pharmacist, most tools in my toolkit are drugs. And while they have their place, if I had it my way, we would PREVENT illness instead of PRESCRIBING pills to treat it. And that's exactly what the Whole30 can do!
Y'all, if the Whole30 was a drug it would be worth BILLIONS of dollars and every pharmaceutical company would be fighting for the rights to it. AND you would pay whatever the copay was OUT OF POCKET just to have it.
But it's not as easy as popping a pill, REAL , GENUINE health rarely is. I'm proud to say I'm a pharmacist AND Whole30 Certified Coach, And I can't wait to help you find your path to health.
Maybe you've thought a little bit about what you put into your body and onto your skin but haven't really stopped to think about other household items that need to be swapped out.
Today, we're going to be talking about something we come into contact with everyday... laundry detergent. We use it on our clothes, towels and sheets-- things that are in contact with us virtually 24/7.
Dryer sheets were one of the first things to go at my house when I started researching safer products. If you check out a box of dryer sheets THERE ARE NO INGREDIENTS LISTED. I immediately wasn't cool with that. Further research revealed the presence of nasty carcinogens like formaldehyde (AKA embalming fluid), artificial perfumes (that contribute to asthma & contact dermatitis), and endocrine disruptors, Are those soft, fluffy sheets worth the risk? Decide for yourself but I don't think so.
Once my eyes were open to the toxins in dryer sheets, everything else in the laundry room was placed on the chopping block as well. I quickly tossed conventional fabric softener for many of the same reasons I quit using dryer sheets. I found out there were things like quaternary ammonium compounds, endocrine-disrupting fragrance and other unhealthy chemical lurking in the very products we use to keep ourselves clean. What's the irony of that?
Detergent is last but certainly not least. If you're a parent, you likely sought out the baby detergent for your infant to protect their delicate skin from irritation. The bad news is that Dreft, a common baby detergent, was actually given an "F" for safety on the Environmental Working Group's website! Most popular Gain & Tide products are also graded "D" or "F".
While my husband laments the days "when we used to smell good" he understands the changes we have made are better for our health and the environment.
So, what are some safer swap options?
For switching out dryer sheets & fabric softener, I recommend wool dryer balls. They are easy to find on Amazon & inexpensive, you can use a few your favorite essential oil to give your clothes a light (toxin free) scent. You can also check out Pinterest for alternatives if you're into DIY. In addition, there are brands like Ecover and Seventh Generation that have softeners graded "B" or "C".
Detergent favorites at our house are Seventh Generation and ECOS but you can check out www.ewg.org/guides/subcategories/49-LaundryDetergentHE#.W0vdrC3MzOQ for additional info!
Here's to hoping the start of this Safe Swap series helps you make the best decision for yourself and your family!
The weather is warming up here and summer is just around the corner. With that comes more time outside meaning you'll be needing some protection from sun and bugs and all the things that go along with your outdoor summer activities.
Unfortunately, traditional products like sunscreen and bug spray can be bad for your health. Instead of protecting you from a sunburn or bug bites, they are actually putting you at risk because they can be chock full of nasty chemicals that you don't want on your body's largest organ- your skin!
So, how can you protect yourself from the sun, bugs and keep creepy chemicals out of your life? You have to do some research!
One of my favorites references is the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Cosmetics Database linked here www.ewg.org/skindeep/#.Wv8rxy-ZPOQ . You can enter in the name of your favorite skincare product and get immediate feedback on toxicity levels of that item or a particular ingredient. This is super helpful!
I personally recommend Beautycounter, Mychelle and Goddess Garden sun products because they don't contain endocrine disruptors like oxybenzone, octinoxate, homosalate or octisalate. If you've got these ingredients listed on your sunscreen bottle, it's time to toss it! By shopping my dispensary linked above, you can find safer options like Mychelle and Goddess Garden.
In addition to safe sunscreen, decreasing inflammation in your body will also decrease the likelihood of burning!
I always recommend a healthy diet filled with lots of colorful, fresh fruits and vegetables that will also protect your skin.
Consumption of healthy omega 3 fats found in fatty fish such as salmon do the trick as well. You can supplement here if you must by taking a good quality fish oil (hint: it's not the one on TV that says it's pharmacist recommended!).
Optimal vitamin D levels also protect your skin from burning. You can get your level checked at your healthcare provider's office the next time you have lab work drawn.
A new favorite of mine in recent years is astaxanthin. I first learned about this from The Wellness Mama (she has a great article on it). It acts as an "internal sunscreen" and has worked very well for me over the last few summers. Here's the link to her article on it.
Physical barriers are always a good idea. I like a good sun shirt, a ball cap or cute sun hat and large sunglasses.
Spending time outdoors in the summer can be restorative to our minds, bodies and souls but it's important that we protect ourselves from these hormone disrupting chemicals that are prevalent in skincare products.
You may be accustomed to hearing your pharmacist remind to to take your medication but I'm going to give you some great excuses today to take time for meditation instead!
Whether you call it meditation, prayer or quiet time, carving out time for a mindfulness practice is as essential to your health as exercise, sleep and supplements. In fact, a mindfulness practice can augment the effects of already healthy lifestyle changes you have made and reduce your need for medications.
Meditation has been proven to help with the following common ailments: pain, inflammation, stress, anxiety, depression and high blood pressure to name a few.
Meditation is a great way to begin your day less frazzled and more focused. It's a nice pause midday to help refocus and energize your mind and body that also useful for winding down at night to prepare for restful and restorative sleep.
I try to start my day with 10 minutes of meditation in the morning, preferably outside if the weather is nice (as an added benefit, exposure to the sun first thing in the morning is great for your hormones!).
A simple Google search for "guided meditation" will lead you to tons of YouTube videos that can help get you started. I personally use and recommend an app like Calm www.calm.com or Headspace www.headspace.com.
Here are a few tips for when you're ready to start taking your meditation:
1.) Find a quiet spot where you won't be disturbed. This is why mornings are great. Typically, there are fewer interruptions and it makes for a great start to your day. For me, meditation has replaced my early morning social media scrolling and helps get my mind in the right place before all the busyness of the day begins.
2.) Get comfortable. You don't have to have a special meditation cushion. I sit on a comfy bolster or my yoga mat. You can also sit in a chair or on your couch. Anywhere besides your bed (unless you're meditating before bedtime) so you're not tempted to crawl back under the covers for more zzz's.
3.) Don't be critical. Our minds are so busy and it's nearly impossible to clear all the "chatter" away.
4.) Make it a ritual. I like to light a candle and turn my salt lamp on since it's usually still dark outside when I begin my practice. You might burn incense or play calming music. I also make sure to have warm lemon water or hot tea nearby to drink once I'm finished. Just make this time YOURS.
5.) Don't be afraid. Meditation isn't just for gurus and yogis and the super-enlightened. We can all benefit from the sense of peace and calm that spending a few minutes focused inward has to offer.
Spring is here with the fresh air, birds chirping, flowers blooming and trees budding. If you're an allergy sufferer, you likely know the other signs of spring: itchy eyes, runny nose, constant sneezing.
But spring doesn't have to be a fog of antihistamine-induced drowsiness and snot.
Would you believe it if I told you that your allergy symptoms are most likely pointing to a bigger issue? One that has more to do with your gut than with the pollen floating through the air?
Upwards of 70% of your immune system is in your gut. Yes, SEVENTY PERCENT. You don't have to be a math whiz to figure out if your gut isn't healthy then your immune system won't be up to par either. By fixing your gut, you can minimize or even eliminate those pesky seasonal allergies that everyone seems to suffer from this time of year.
It won't be an instant fix and you may not even get relief this year. However, as your gut begins to heal, you'll notice improvements in your immune system that will make you resistant to colds and other bugs in the fall and winter seasons and seasonal allergies in the spring and early summer months.
First, you'll want to focus on eliminated food groups that are common causes of inflammation that can contribute to poor gut health. These include gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, corn and added sugar. I highly recommend doing an elimination diet, like the Whole 30, to help you figure out which foods may be contributing to inflammation in your body.
While you're cutting out inflammatory foods, you'll also want to focus on adding in gut-healthy foods by eating something fermented at least once a day. (And, no, wine and beer don't count.) Options include kimchi, sauerkraut and coconut kefir. From the supplement aisle, you'll want to pick up a quality probiotic to help build up the healthy bugs in your gut that make your immune system happy and healthy,
As your gut is healing, you'll notice and improvement in symptoms. But, for those of you trying to avoid OTC antihistamines, decongestants and steroid nasal sprays, I have a few more natural treatment options for you to discuss with your healthcare provider.
1.) A neti pot and/or nasal saline rinse. These items will physically wash away any pollen (or snot) and open up your nasal passages without the use of an immune-suppressing steroid nasal spray. We want to help our immune systems, not suppress them!
2.) Local, raw honey. A teaspoon of good quality honey in some hot tea is a relaxing, fun way to soothe your throat and combat allergy symptoms. Make sure you get local honey and not the stuff in the cute little bear at the grocery store. Most grocery "honey" is ultra-filtered and has had all the pollen, that helps your body fend off allergies, removed. Or, has actually been cut with high fructose corn syrup. This is definitely NOT what your body needs.
3.) If you're still suffering, there are natural allergy products on the market that can help fight acute allergy symptoms. I've linked the one I like here. www.pharmaca.com/ortho-molecular-d-hist-natural-120-capsules.
Here's to enjoy a healthy, allergy-free spring!
I've been absent for a while but not because I haven't been working!
I currently have lots of projects going but one I'm very excited about is offering professional quality supplements and products to you all from the comfort of your home. These lines are ones that I use personally and recommend to my family, friends and patients.
By visiting my dispensary and creating an account, you can shop from the comfort of your own home and have items delivered to your door.
As always, use common sense and speak with YOUR healthcare provider before starting (or stopping) any new medications or supplements.
Over this past weekend, I had the good fortune to attend my second yoga retreat. This weekend's retreat was hosted by the incredible women of Orange Beach Yoga in Orange Beach, Alabama. It was a 3 day yoga and meditation retreat packed full with lots of healthy foods, juices, meditation, workshops (with topics such as partner Thai massage, essential oils, cooking & juicing, the law of attraction and networking) and yoga. To quote the ladies, " The Get Clear in the New Year Yoga Retreat will focus on cleansing what doesn’t serve you, reconnecting with your most authentic vibrant self, and getting clear about what you want to create and attract more of in 2018."
Couldn't we all use more of that?!
The site overlooked the gorgeous Gulf of Mexico so to be completely transparent, during the "sit with your eyes closed" times during meditation and yoga, I kept my eyes open because the view was so refreshing. This Kentucky girl wasn't going to miss a moment of seeing that water.
Each day had it's own theme. Friday's theme was GROUND. We set our intentions and opened up to all the possibilities the future holds! Friday evening began with a fabulous "Soul Flow" 75 minute yoga class focused on deep roots, open hearts and BALANCE.
Saturday was for GROWING. We went "Out on a Limb" with a 90 minute yoga class designed to empower us as we stretched our boundaries. This was followed by various workshops, my favorites being the juice and cooking workshops. Even though I'm a health food junkie, I still learned so much... Like put a bag in your juice chute when you're juicing for quick cleanup and save the juice pulp to make crackers or put into granola! No telling how many hours I've wasted cleaning my juicer or how much juice pulp I've discarded that could have been repurposed!
That evening ended with an obstacle release fire ceremony where we released any thoughts or ideas that are holding us back in this new year. I had to let go of a lot of FEAR and replace it with another "F word" FAITH.
On Sunday, we BLOOMED by bringing our focus to using connection and action to awaken a life of purpose and joy. After a freedom flow yoga class, we concluded with a beautiful ceremony releasing anything holding us back into the Gulf. We also received a new book (if you know me personally, you know I have a book addiction problem. At any given point in time, I'm reading no fewer than 3-4 books all on different topics.) The speaker, Bert Thornton, is Vice-President Emeritus of Waffle House, Inc. and his book is called "Find an Old Gorilla". I can already tell it's going to find it's place on my bookshelf amongst other books I reference frequently.
I hope if any of you have been interested in doing a retreat of any kind that you will make 2018 your year to do it! I can't say enough about the experience of being surrounded by like-spirited individuals even though we all had very different backgrounds, beliefs and views.
I'll link here if any of you are interested in future Orange Beach Yoga Retreats as they will be having other events in the future!
All images credited to Orange Beach Yoga.
I've opened up recently on Instagram and wanted to share "the rest of the story" here.
Truth be told, I've been hesitant to share this because as a health care professional, shouldn't I have it all together? After all, patients come to ME for answers! I have access to the best providers, supplements, exercise. And you name it, I've probably tried it. Still, after years of trying to cut out toxins and eat clean and de-stress, there's still something amiss. Maybe some of you feel like that, too.
After struggling with thyroid symptoms (constipation, dry skin, anxiety, weight gain, fatigue) for years, I felt like I had finally discovered something that worked. After doing the Whole 30 and eating strict paleo, my thyroid antibodies were "normal" and I was feeling good. But the enlargement in my neck was still there. Bothered mostly by the way it looked in photographs, I decided to have an ultrasound and biopsy to see what might be going on.
That's when the feelings of failure hit, The pathologist couldn't rule out that I would need to have my thyroid removed. I had to make an appointment with a surgeon. I felt like my diet, my lifestyle, my body and what I was teaching others had FAILED me. I began to doubt everything I had studied and felt like I was the last person who should be recommending lifestyle changes to anyone. Who would want to listen to someone who couldn't even control her own health?!
One afternoon while feverishly studying whatever diet/treatment/supplement I could find that might help, it occurred to me that the pursuit of health and healing had taken over my life and not in a good way. I had allowed this little gland in my throat to literally take over my life.
I made a decision that day to let go. That doesn't mean I'm going to fall face first into a fast food burger & fries and a Coke all while smoking a cigarette (and if I'm describing you, that doesn't mean you're a failure. We all must begin somewhere!). I'm still going to eat the natural, healthy foods I believe God gave us to fuel our bodies and treat my body like the temple 1 Corinthians 6:19 says it is. But I'm not longer going to stress over being in control. So, for those of you struggling with an illness or situation whether it's infertility, hypothyroidism, anxiety or anything else, I hope to encourage you to do the best you can then lay it down. Don't feel like a failure for the things you can't control and don't stress over the things you can. I let my thyroid steal my purpose and joy for too long. I hope you'll continue with me on this healing journey and that we can learn from each other realizing that no one has it all together.