Cranberry Sage Orange Sausage

It got cold here the last few days, so I am starting to think about the holidays and my favorite cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving!  

Until then, give these a try.  Make a batch and eat them a couple of times this week for breakfast along with some eggs and greens!  Also, great to freeze and pull out later when you are pressed for time.

Directions:

  • 1 lb ground pork (pastured)
  • 1 tbsp orange zest
  • 1 tsp Himalayan sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh sage
  • 1/2 cup thawed frozen cranberries, cut in half
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil or animal fat of your choice

Instructions: 

Mix all of the ingredients except the oil together in a bowl. Divide into about 8-9 patties.  Place the oil in the skillet and heat it up to a medium heat.  Thoroughly cook the patties in the skillet, flipping them half-way through, about 7 to 10 minutes.

Why it May be Difficult to Lose Weight

Most of my clients have weight loss as one of their top 5 health goals.  It’s a great goal, especially with the multitude of studies showing that obesity is associated with poorer mental health, reduced quality of life and is the leading cause of death in the US and worldwide due to diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancer.  

I think this is one of the most challenging goals given the complexity of losing weight.  There really is no magic bullet (or pill) for this, if there was we would have found it by now and more than 1/3 of the US adult population wouldn’t be obese.  What we do know is that looking for optimal health through addressing underlying dysfunction will likely achieve the goal of weight loss.

Sustained Weight Loss

I always like to reframe the goal to sustained weight loss.  While the “diet-of-the-day” will likely help you lose weight, my experience is that it just comes right back on and sometimes stabilizes at a higher weight only a few months after the initial weight loss.  Which is completely frustrating!!!

Sustained weight loss is more complex, takes more time, and focus.  The way I approach the question of “how do I take the weight off and keep it off”, is treating weight gain or excessive weight loss exactly like any other symptom, looking for the underlying cause of the imbalance. Weight gain is more about figuring out WHY your body feels like it needs to protect itself by storing fat.  Weight gain itself could be due to a variety of different underlying imbalances, spanning multiple systems in the body. 

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5 Drinks that Promote Digestive Health

Digestion is the single most important place to start looking for imbalances when health challenges present themselves.

The body has an amazing ability to heal itself, there are back-up systems to the back-up systems to keep you alive, and all it really needs is the fuel from a properly balanced nutrient-dense diet to do that. However, if there is an imbalance that is preventing you from digesting and absorbing your food, you can have the healthiest diet in the world and those nutrients will just go in one end and out the other...

So, keeping your digestive system healthy is pretty important.  Here’s a few easy drinks you can add in to your daily diet to support your digestive system.

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Irish Lamb Stew – Instant Pot

Stew in about an hour - yes please!  

The Instant Pot is usually out on my counter full time, just because it is so versatile.  You can make anything from stew to bone broth to yogurt in it!  This little gadget has come in handy!  

Here's a recipe I created last night, and it's garlic free!  This is one of the items that I am highly reactive to and it's one of the main ingredients in many recipes.  I usually just leave it out of the recipe.  The rosemary in this one really helps season the stew and you don't even miss the garlic.

Ingredients:
  • 2 lbs. Lamb Stew meat, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 large carrot, sliced into thick coins
  • 1 large parsnip, cut into thick coins or bite sized pieces
  • 1 leek​, white portion only sliced
  • 2 medium yams or sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 tbsp himalayan salt
  • 1/2 tbsp pepper
  • 3 tbsp of water​

Directions:

Prepare your vegetables by cutting up the turnip and carrot into thicker sized circles.  Peel and cut your yams into chunks.  Slice the white portion of the leek.  Place all of the vegetables into the Instant Pot.

Add the lamb, salt and pepper to the Instant Pot.  Add your 3 tablespoons of water and your rosemary on the top.

Use the Stew/Meat category on the Instant Pot, which generally starts at 35 minutes.  I add 5 minutes to my time, for a total of 40 minutes. 

Let the Instant Pot cool down for as long as you can (I can usually go 15 minutes...then I want to eat!)  Release the lid and enjoy!

Spinach and Bacon Muffins

Here’s a recipe that I modify depending on what I’ve got in the fridge.

It’s a great recipe for fast breakfast meals during the week, or for traveling, which is usually what I use them for. You can freeze them and take them out when you are looking for a quick meal or in my case, they are thrown in the suitcase. By the time I get to my destination they are usually defrosted but still cold and then can be put in the handy fridge in the hotel room.

I do usually microwave them in the morning, even though microwaving isn’t the best method for cooking food. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do….

Spinach and Bacon Muffins
  • 1 package organic chopped frozen spinach
  • 1 package pastured pork bacon, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms (I used baby bella's for this one)
  • 1/2 cup diced green onion
  • 8 pastured chicken eggs
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions: 

Preheat Oven to 375 degrees.

Defrost the spinach and then "squeeze" out the water.  I use a colander and press my hands down the defrosted spinach so that the water is removed.  Once you have removed most of the water, place the spinach in a medium mixing bowl.

In a pan sauté the chopped bacon and then set aside. Remove some of the bacon grease, but leave enough in the pan to sauté the mushrooms and onions. Sauté on medium until both the mushrooms and onions are soft, about 5 minutes.

Add the cooked mushrooms, onion, and bacon to the bowl with the spinach. Crack the eggs straight into the bowl and mix together. (You could whisk the eggs in a separate bowl and then mix them with the spinach, but this just seems like an extra step to me..). Add salt and pepper to the mixture.

Fill the silicone liners up to the rim with the mixture. Bake at 375 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes until brown on the top.

​Let them cool before you freeze them.

How to reduce Inflammation better than Aspirin

Recently, I was reminded of Turmeric’s powerful anti-inflammatory benefits.

My husband had to go to urgent care a few months ago for a swollen hip, which turned out to be a muscle/ligament issue likely from his week of hunting. Once we got this news, then it was just a matter of managing the inflammation to reduce the pain. The event reminded me that I hadn’t made any of my ginger/turmeric root tea lately, and this is exactly what we needed to help reduce his inflammation. 

There have been tons of peer reviewed journal articles (over 700) on the benefits of curcumin, which is one of the ingredients in turmeric that provides the anti-inflammatory properties to the root. In fact, one study found that aspirin and ibuprofen are the least effective in reducing inflammation, while curcumin is one of the most effective anti-inflammatory compounds.

How does it work?

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Are everyday household items making you sick?

Organic food is becoming a household word, even Costco has recently announced that they are jumping on the organic band wagon. Somehow, (or through lots of research) we have finally made the connection that pesticides – chemicals that are used to kill insects, plants, and other animals – might have some detrimental health effects on us humans.

What other chemicals are in our environment that could also be contributing to our overall lack of optimal health – body/face products, household cleaners, food additives or over-the-counter drugs, like aspirin?

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What’s the one thing you eat or drink that you wouldn’t want to give up?

Here’s why that’s exactly the thing that you should give up.

We have all heard of an “adrenaline high” and some of us are even self-proclaimed adrenaline junkies.  Why are we addicted to adrenaline and what does that have to do with what we eat or drink?

Adrenaline is a hormone that is sent out when your body needs to get ready to “fight or flight”. When your body is getting ready to run, either away from or toward the perceived problem a whole bunch of reactions occur preparing your body for the event. One of those reactions is to send out hormones that trigger the pleasure centers in the brain, so that you don’t perceive pain in that moment of fighting or running. That doesn’t mean you’ll have pain after the event is over with…

When you eat or drink something that your body perceives as the enemy, the exact same reaction occurs as if it were a tiger. The body gets ready to fight that enemy, it might just all be happening internally. One of the things that occurs is that your blood pressure goes up, which you can measure by checking to see if your pulse is racing. Sugar, Cocaine or Tiger, your body reacts the same way, and your pleasure, non-pain centers, are triggered. The problem is that our bodies were not made to go into “fight or flight” mode constantly, this was supposed to be an emergency situation. So when you trigger this continually your organs start to get tired, they wear down and stop functioning appropriately. Signs of disease start showing up.

Dr. Arthur Coca noticed that pulse increases when something is ingested that a person is sensitive to – “allergic” is what he describes in his book “The Pulse Test”.

Following on Dr. Coca’s theory, here’s one easy thing you can do at home to see if you are reacting to

Close up of a stopwatch

Close up of a stopwatch

something you are eating or drinking – the pulse test. Take your pulse for a minute – no cheating by counting for 15 seconds and then extrapolating for the remaining of the time – actually count your pulse for 60 seconds. Then place something in your mouth and take your pulse again for one minute while keeping that food item in your mouth. Your nervous system will react letting your body know that an enemy is coming and raise your pulse. If it goes up by at least 6 beats, this could mean your body considers it an enemy. It’s not full proof, but it could be a tool.

In my quest to heal my gut over the last few months I started drinking Kombucha. For those of you that don’t know what that is – it is a fermented tea. Kombucha is produced by fermenting tea using a “symbiotic ‘colony’ imageof bacteria and yeast” (SCOBY).  It contains some incredibly awesome probiotics, which help maintain the good gut flora we all need. I can write a whole blog post on what the gut flora is responsible for, but for the purposes of this discussion, just know you NEED good gut flora.

Kombucha is awesome for most individuals, except those individuals that have a yeast intolerance/sensitivity. The information seems to be mixed on whether Kombucha is good or bad for those individuals that suffer with Candida overgrowth in their gut.  Candida is a form of yeast that can become overgrown in your gut causing several health issues. All I know is that I am prone to Candida and healing from this is one of the reasons I have been trying to help my gut.

I ignored all of the signs. I knew my blood pressure rose when I drank it and when I actually Coca pulse tested the Kombucha, it tested positive. But here’s where you have to admit that there’s a problem. I continued drinking it because – I Love It! It was likely triggering those pleasure spots in my brain just like an addiction. So for the past month I drank it every day. I have had two migraines, hives on my leg, acne on my face, my hair is falling out, my adrenals are weak causing lower back pain, and my gut is a mess again. Exactly the opposite of what I was trying to accomplish. I finally admitted it last week and stopped drinking it.

There truly is something to be said for admitting that this “thing” is a problem, because at this stage you now have a choice of what to do.

That choice is hard – this week in Austin I happened to be eating at a great grass-fed beef burger joint that had Kombucha on tap – it was the hardest thing not to order it!

But in my mind I was able to choose long term health and not short term pleasure.

Is there something you are eating or drinking that you should evaluate – and maybe get rid of out of your diet?

My journey to becoming a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner

This past year, after dealing with multiple chronic symptoms, I decided it was time to take my health in my own hands.

So, here’s what I did:

1st – I went to a DOM (Doctor of Oriental Medicine) – the Western medicine Dr.’s were absolutely no help in addressing chronic pain and illness, they just said “you’re stressed”. My DOM – Dr. Maddoux – looked at my symptoms from a functional perspective and after a round of blood and saliva tests we charted a course toward healing. I have incrementally been getting better. It has taken longer than expected, but I have to remind myself, this is 40+ years of putting bad things in my body, so it’s going to take a little time to heal.

2nd – I took 2 months off of work based on my doctor’s recommendations that I reduce some of my stressors. One of the main reasons for this recommendation was to heal my adrenal glands that were massively fatigued.  (Here’s more information on adrenal fatigue.)

3rd – I signed up for a 9-month program with the Nutritional Therapy Association to see if I could learn more about diet and nutrition, ultimately being able to heal myself and my family.

I am well on my way to becoming a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP), as I just passed my mid-term and practical – Yeah!

 

 

3 months to go to Certification!

A little more on the NTP adventure….

I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I signed up for the program. It matched with my philosophy of using a real food based program to heal, so I figured I would give it a shot (see “work with me” page for more information.).Real-Education2It is a comprehensive program with a ton of work – more than I expected – online videos, book reports, essay’s, community project proposals, quizzes from textbooks, conference calls, hands on workshops, audio recordings, and written and practical mid-terms and finals. While it has been a lot of work (mostly because I had to learn how to be a student again), there is some flexibility around when the work gets completed. They also do a great job of providing the material in different ways to appeal to different learning types.

The biggest surprise for me was the hands-on evaluation tool.

NTP’s are trained to use the bodies innate ability to heal itself.

How you ask?  By using pressure points on the body that correspond to organs we can find functional deficiencies in the body.  Then we can use the Lingual Neuro Testing biofeedback tool to determine the key nutritional supplements that reduce the sensitivity on that point, thereby providing nutritional support to that specific body function.  We essentially use your central nervous system to tell us what nutrients your body needs to rebalance.

Coming from a science background, I was skeptical. In fact, I volunteered to be demonstrated on by the teacher in class – ’cause I didn’t believe this woo-woo part. And much to my surprise, it works. The body is so much more complex than we give it credit for and truly wants to heal itself.

Using touch provides NTP’s with the ability to connect at a much deeper level with their clients.

I have been surprised at how much I enjoy this deep connection. This brings me a sense of peace that I think I was lacking in my world prior to this program. Humans are social by nature, and yet we have lost that sense of community that we had when we lived as tribes and had to fight off saber-toothed tigers together. This sense of togetherness and community is so powerful for our connection to each other and the world.  For me, I am just grateful that I now have the tools to be able to have a deeper connection with another person and facilitate healing and balance in them.

I want to thank my first guinea pigs – I mean clients – for volunteering to help me learn through this first year. You folks are facilitating me being able to help many many people in the future, as well as yourselves. I am deeply grateful – THANK YOU!

The struggle of getting rid of sugar…

The struggle is real, man!

I never in a million years thought you could have an addiction to sugar, but when I was told that sugar is 90% of the reason I have gained weight over the years not only did I think, NO not me, I don’t eat that much candy or sweets, but I actually realized that it’s not so much about having a sweet tooth.

Bowl of white sugar

Bowl of white sugar

Sugar is in nearly everything I eat. If it doesn’t look like sugar to me, it does to my body.  I could go through a list of things that sugar resides in, but I’ll spare you the novel. I think my worst offender’s were flour loaded carbs. Bread. Pasta. Tortillas. Pancakes. These things are cheap and while raising my daughters in their teenage years I relied on these things because they are easy to make. Little did I know I had been feeding into my addiction. Sugar.

refined-carbs2

Thanks to my sister I have changed the way I see these four items. They are not the enemy. But, they are not my friends. It’s sort of like meeting up with an acquaintance. We meet, but only on certain terms. They must be good acquaintances to me. I will eat bread sparingly, usually organic and loaded with the good nuts. I rarely eat tortillas now.  Pancakes… My sister gave me a gluten free pancake mix for Christmas. Its awesome when I make blueberry pancakes. And pasta… This girl has gone gluten free. Honestly, just a little goes a long way.

If I could sum up my feelings towards my challenges with changing my eating habits and removing bad toxins I would say, it’s a nightmare. It hasn’t been easy and I’ve struggled with wanting to just dive into a loaded cheeseburger with everything on it and eat to my hearts content. Or indulge in a huge bowl of ice cream. They sound so good, but I know it will wreak havoc on my insides.

That’s the hardest by far, saying no to so many things that are so easy to get.

 

For those out their working on changing your eating habits, whether eliminating the sugar or trying to be healthier in your choices, cut yourself a break. You cannot do it overnight or expect results in a week. Take your time and do at your own pace.  If you have a bad day and go all out, it’s okay. We all have the same goal in life… To be happy. I am still learning and I hope that one day it will just click and I can put to bed that darn sugar addiction. Baby steps.

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