Empowered Sustenance http://empoweredsustenance.com Eat well and heal!™ Mon, 30 Mar 2015 20:02:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 Paleo Spinach Artichoke Dip http://empoweredsustenance.com/paleo-spinach-artichoke-dip/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/paleo-spinach-artichoke-dip/#respond Mon, 30 Mar 2015 20:02:21 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=8741 Did you know that food bloggers with dietary restrictions get excited when they come across a recipe they can eat? At least this one does. It can seem like a constant game of guessing and trial-and-error to determine which foods my body will tolerate. Due to my compromised gut health – even though I’ve made […]

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paleo spinach artichoke dip recipe

Did you know that food bloggers with dietary restrictions get excited when they come across a recipe they can eat? At least this one does. It can seem like a constant game of guessing and trial-and-error to determine which foods my body will tolerate.

Due to my compromised gut health – even though I’ve made leaps and bounds in gut healing – my body is prone to becoming sensitive to foods. I’ve found it essential to remove potential trigger foods, such as eggs, during times of increased stress, such as traveling. I’ve also realized the importance of varying my diet. For example, when I discovered tigernuts, I enjoyed them daily for a while. Then, I took them to my nutritional/energy practitioner and discovered that my body wanted a break from them.

So, with that said, I’m always on the lookout for recipes that…

  • Offer a wide variety of flavors and preparation techniques
  • Introduce new ingredients I can enjoy
  • Avoid potentially problematic foods for me

Enter Nourish: The Paleo Healing Cookbook by my friend and fellow blogger Rachel at Meatified!

Let me summarize my excitement about this cookbook:

  • Over 120 recipes suitable for the Autoimmune Paleo Approach.  But you don’t need to be following that protocol to enjoy the recipes! All recipes are grain, dairy, nut/seed, refined sugar, and egg free.
  • While the book does in include some AIP-friendly treats to satiate your sweet tooth, it focuses on savory dishes and a variety of vegetables. This is reflects an ideal healing diet - it’s all about the nutrients and veggies, with the occasional homemade dessert.
  • Rachel’s recipes provide an accessible introduction to ingredients from which I’ve shied away, including beef tongue and chicken hearts. She uses simple preparation methods and shares the secret to making these ingredients palatable for everyone in your family.
  • These recipes will get you out of a protein rut, which is an all too common conundrum. Tired of baked chicken and salmon? Mix it up with beef cheeks, canned sardine fillets, and more!

Paleo Spinach Artichoke Dip from Nourish

Rachel is kindly sharing a recipe for Paleo Spinach Artichoke Dip from the book. I know you’ll love the recipe, and don’t forget to check out Nourish, available on Amazon! It will also be hitting bookstores soon.

Paleo Spinach Artichoke Dip

Yield: Makes 1 3/4 cups

Paleo Spinach Artichoke Dip

This dip doesn’t need dairy or coconut products to replicate the creaminess of this much-beloved appetizer. In fact, this recipe uses even more vegetables than normal to create the smooth, delicious, scoopable texture… which means we just won’t tell any tiny humans how good for them this recipe really is! This recipe is such a crowd-pleaser that I usually make it in a double batch, like I did here, so feel free to scale the recipe down to suit you, if needed. (Recipe shared with permission from Nourish: The Paleo Healing Cookbook.)

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) coconut or avocado oil
  • 1/3 cup (45 g) diced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup (120 g) peeled summer squash
  • ¾ cup chicken broth
  • 6 oz (170 g) drained jarred artichoke hearts
  • 2 tbsp (8 g) nutritional yeast
  • ½ tsp ground mace
  • 6 oz (170 g) package of frozen spinach, thawed

Instructions

  1. Add the oil to a saucepan over medium heat. Add the diced onion and garlic to the pan while you peel and chop the summer squash. Cut the summer squash into pieces that are the same size as the diced onion, then add to the pan and stir to coat with the oil. Cook until the squash is tender, stirring occasionally so the squash doesn’t brown, about 10 minutes.
  2. Transfer the softened vegetables to a blender and add the chicken broth. Gently squeeze the artichoke hearts to release any excess water before you weigh them out. Add the artichoke hearts, nutritional yeast and mace to the blender – process until you have a thick, smooth, “creamy” sauce.
  3. Pour the sauce back into the saucepan and return to the stove top at a low heat. Drain the spinach and squeeze out any excess water, then chop finely. Stir the frozen spinach into the sauce and simmer until the dip is warmed through. The dip probably won’t need any additional salt because of the artichoke hearts, but taste now and add any extra salt if you wish. Serve the dip warm and enjoy. Try pairing it with Pita Wedges (page 222 of the cookbook).
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paleo spinach artichoke dip recipe

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Icebox Cassava Flour Cookies http://empoweredsustenance.com/cassava-flour-cookies/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/cassava-flour-cookies/#comments Mon, 23 Mar 2015 14:52:30 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=8712 From Lauren: I’m eager to share this beautiful – and beautifully simple – recipe for Paleo Icebox Cookies from Gabriella at Beyond the Bite. I love the rest of Gabriella’s recipes, they are always Autoimmune Paleo friendly and absolutely delicious!  Icebox Cassava Flour Cookies I love absolutely love making, creating, and experimenting with allergen-free cookies.  […]

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Icebox cassava flour cookies

From Lauren: I’m eager to share this beautiful – and beautifully simple – recipe for Paleo Icebox Cookies from Gabriella at Beyond the Bite. I love the rest of Gabriella’s recipes, they are always Autoimmune Paleo friendly and absolutely delicious! 

Icebox Cassava Flour Cookies

I love absolutely love making, creating, and experimenting with allergen-free cookies.  Therefore, as the cold winter months slowly grow warmer, I decided to utilizing the tantalizing nature of clementine, and make a light and refreshing dessert. 

Truly, these cookies could not be easier, as one can simply freeze, slice, and bake them off anytime, anywhere.  That being said, despite the easy process and few ingredients, the resulting taste and texture of these clementine icebox cookies are amazing, so much so that even my older brother couldn’t wait to devour them.  Overall, these cookies were voted as absolutely scrumptious, with a light, flakey, yet durable texture, and a slight zing from the clementine zest, making them the perfect spring treat for any occasion.  

Paleo Clementine Icebox Cookies

Paleo Clementine Icebox Cookies

These paleo slice-and-bake cookies feature grain free cassava flour, which is made from the same root from which tapioca flour is made. Do not confuse the two, however. Tapioca flour is pure starch, while cassava flour - made with the entire yuca root, minus the peel - acts more like regular wheat flour. I have yet to find cassava flour in a store, so I get it online here. If you enjoy grain free baking, I think you will love cassava flour!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Otto's Cassava Flour, available here
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup non-hydrogenated palm shortening, available here (see note below)
  • 1 tbsp clementine zest
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Juice of 2 clementines
  • Maple sugar, optional, for sprinkling (available here)

Instructions

  1. In a food processor, or high speed blender, pulse together cassava flour, sea salt, clementine zest, and maple syrup until combined.
  2. Pulse in palm shortening, then add vanilla extract, and clementine juice until a dough forms.
  3. Transfer cookie dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap, forming into a log that is 1 1/2 inches wide, and then allowing it to chill in the freezer for, at the least, 2 hours.
  4. Once the cookie dough has chilled completely through, turn the oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Remove the dough from the freezer and allow it to sit at room temperature for 5 minutes, until it is soft enough to cut into 1/4 inch slices.
  6. Place each slice on a parchment lined baking sheet, sprinkle with optional maple sugar, and place in the preheated oven, allowing the cookies to bake until golden around the edges, 15-120 minutes.
  7. Allow the cookies to cool for 5 minutes, then transfer them onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Notes

Coconut oil, ghee, or grass-fed butter can be used in place of the palm shortening. Clementine zest and juice can be replaced with any citrus fruit on hand.

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Icebox cassava flour cookies

gabriellaAbout Gabriella at Beyond the Bite

My name is Gabriella Schneider, and I am the teenage blogger behind Beyond the Bite, where I spread awareness and hope to Chronic Lyme disease, share recipes for those with health conditions like myself, as well as primal-aligned health articles.  Throughout the years of battling Chronic Lyme, my passion for science, the human body, and how food and lifestyle factors affect it, has grown significantly.  This ultimately lead me to utilize a personalized Paleo approach to not only get myself through each day, but manage symptoms, decipher root causes for my illness, and ultimately start from the ground up in my healing journey.  

Don’t forget to follow Gabriella at Beyond the Bite, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest!

Have you heard of or used cassava flour before? 

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10 Things Everyone Should Know About the Power of Food http://empoweredsustenance.com/power-of-food/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/power-of-food/#comments Mon, 16 Mar 2015 17:15:25 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=8696 The Healing Power of Food Nutrition changed my life. I could even say that nutrition probably saved my life. But it would be more accurate to say that nutrition gave me life… a life that I want to spend enthusiastically educating others about the power of food. Did you know that food has the power to do the […]

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10 things everyone should know about the healing power of food

The Healing Power of Food

Nutrition changed my life. I could even say that nutrition probably saved my life. But it would be more accurate to say that nutrition gave me life… a life that I want to spend enthusiastically educating others about the power of food.

Did you know that food has the power to do the following?

1. Diet changes can reverse tooth decay and cavities

Oral health begins in your kitchen, not at the dentist! Dr. Weston Price, a dentist in the 1930’s who traveled the world to discover the secrets of healthy people, found that nutrient-rich diets dictated oral health. Cultures adhering to the traditional, local diets of their ancestors had almost no tooth decay, even though they didn’t practice oral hygiene.

Building off the work of Weston Price, Ramiel Nigel wrote Cure Tooth Decay. It outlines a protocol for remineralizing the body, which is the foundation for healthy teeth. With adequate minerals consumption and absorption, the body can remineralize teeth and reverse tooth decay. You can see examples of before and after pictures of this protocol here.

2. Nutrition effectively addresses autoimmune diseases

I remember my sitting in the doctor’s office when I was 14, receiving a life-changing diagnosis of ulcerative colitis, a severe autoimmune disease. “We have different medication options,” I was told, “and it it gets extremely severe we will resort to surgery.” My doctors told me there was no alternative options, and that dietary changes would entail too much effort without results. 

8 years later, I’m here to tell you that nutrition DOES work! Changing my lifestyle and diet allowed me to avoid surgery, stop my pharmacy-worth of medications, and regain my health.

When it comes to autoimmunity, diet works for two reasons: 1. it removes foods that trigger inflammation and antibody activity and 2. it floods the body with nutrients required for healing. Read more about my experience and how to get started in my GAPS Diet discussion and my Autoimmune Paleo discussion.

3. Eczema responds to dietary changes

Although the exact cause of eczema is unknown, holistic practitioners agree that the underlying cause relates to leaky gut and food intolerances. Many people try eliminating processed sugar, dairy or even gluten to tame their eczema, but then they don’t experience relief and conclude that food doesn’t help. That’s because it requires a more comprehensive dietary approach. 

Like autoimmunity, eczema can be traced to poor gut health and fatty acid imbalance. A grain free (not just gluten free) approach, such as a paleo-based diet, can address the foundational issues of leaky gut and inflammation.

4. You can clear your skin with nutrition

10 things everyone should know about the healing power of foodYour acne isn’t telling you to invest in a pricey serum, it’s telling you to change your diet! Like eczema, acne is your body’s way of communicating inflammation.

For example, fatty acid imbalance is one of the factors in breakouts and hormonal acne. The correct dietary fats will calm breakouts, while other fats promote acne-producing inflammation.

Check out my book Quit Acne: The Nutritional approach for clear skin. It’s a quick and accessible read that immediately equips you with seven effective dietary principles to address the roots of acne.

5. The power of food fixes PMS

Like acne, severe PMS was an issue with which I struggled for years. I was determined to find a natural solution, and I learned how to use food as medicine for PMS.

PMS is not normal – indicates hormonal imbalances that can be addressed through some simple nutrition changes. When given the necessary building blocks, our hormones fall into equilibrium and PMS disappears.

I cover this topic in my book Quit PMS: End your menstrual misery naturally, which is available here on Amazon. Quit PMS discusses key aspects including hormone interplay, dietary changes, detox support, supplementation, and hormone-balancing recipes.

6. Nutrition can improve seasonal allergies

bee pollenSome people are more prone to seasonal allergies than others, but severe pollen allergies are not necessarily a life sentence. Your body’s response to allergies is determined by numerous factors including gut flora balance and histamine response.

Genetics, stress, food, and environment all impact the balance of beneficial and pathogenic bacteria in our digestive tract. When we have an overgrowth of problematic bacteria, these bacteria produce by-products and toxins. As Sarah The Healthy Home Economist clearly summarizes in her post on allergies,

When these microbes grow unchecked in the gut due to a lack of beneficial flora, they overproduce histamine causing many functions in the body that react to histamine to go haywire as excessive amounts pour into the blood.

 Balancing your gut flora allows your body to properly regulate histamine response without relying on anti-histamine medications. So don’t forget your probiotics and fermented foods during allergy season! For a more heavy-duty approach, I recommend the paleo diet or The GAPS Diet to drastically reduce the pathogenic bugs.

7. Nutrition can reduce sunburn and help you tan

This point is definitely anecdotal, but I believes it deserves a mention. One of the most startling “side effects” of my dietary changes was noticing that I was less prone to sunburn! My Sandanavian-fair skin has never tanned, and never will, but I was shocked that I could enjoy longer periods of sunshine without burning.

I’m certainly not the only one to experience this. I’ve heard from readers and bloggers with similar experiences. Katie at Wellness Mama has an interesting post on her experience, too. She found that her dietary changes helped her skin tan instead of burn.

What is the mechanism behind this phenomenon? I believe it is reducing inflammation by supporting fatty acid balance. When I increased the healthy fats in my diet and eliminated processed fats like vegetable oils, I reduced my omega-6 intake and increased my omega-3 intake. A lower omega-6 and higher omega-3 ratio spells anti-inflammation.

8. Arthritis can be addressed with nutrition

Arthritis results from leaky gut and inflammation, which stem from gut flora imbalance (do you see a pattern yet?). With a leaky gut, toxins from the digestive tract escape into the bloodstream and attach themselves to collagen molecules in the joints. As a result, the immune system recognizes the collagen as toxic, so it mounts an immune response and attacks it.

Arthritis has been managed effectively by people who choose to use nutrition instead of (or with) medication. One dietary protocol that has been successful is the GAPS Diet. With this gut-healing protocol, the body will be able to properly manage inflammation – the inflammatory process with help cleanse the collagen of toxins, but the body will know when to turn off the inflammation to protect the collagen. Further, the arthritic process will not be perpetuated when the leaky gut is sealed.

9. Nutrition can address a wide range of mental disorders

Did you know that many people have successfully used food – both alone and in conjunction with medication – to treat everything from ADHD to depression to schizophrenia to bi-polar disorder? 

Mental disorders trace their roots to brain inflammation, which stems from systemic toxins, which all begins in the gut. This is a helpful overview on how the gut affects the brain, and vice versa. That guy Hippocrates hit the nail on the head when he said, “All disease begins in the gut.”

Once again, restoring brain health comes down to balancing gut flora and flooding the body with nutrients. GAPS and AIP are powerful options.

10. The power of food can transform the health of the human race

Do you think that is a sensationalist statement? It’s not. It’s a truth that needs to be shouted from the rooftops. This generation of children is expected to have a shorter lifespan than their parents, and I think that is a horrifying prediction we can change through the healing power of food.

As Dr. Price recorded with incredible photographs, the best gift children can receive is well-nourished parents and grandparents. When their ancestors consumed a nutrient-rich diet, and the children themselves consumed nutrient-dense foods from birth, children were physically strong, mentally healthy, and had strikingly beautiful bone structure:

weston-a-price-povos-primitivos

When parents strayed from the traditional diets of their tribes and when children grew up consuming refined foods, it led to poor bone structure and tooth decay:

healing power of food - weston price     healing power of food - weston price

I believe Dr. Price’s book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, is the most important book on nutrition ever written and should be on everyone’s bookshelf.

Now that the human race faces an onslaught of environmental toxins and chronic stress, it is more important than ever that we nourish our bodies. We can give the gift of health to our children and children’s children.

It sounds like an overwhelming task, but it boils down to simplicity. Buy ingredients, not productsEat real food. Prepare meals at home. 

Please help me spread the message about the healing power of food – use the sharing buttons below! 

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25 Paleo Flavor Hacks: Add flavor without sugar or chemicals! http://empoweredsustenance.com/paleo-flavor-boosters/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/paleo-flavor-boosters/#comments Wed, 11 Mar 2015 23:36:13 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=8422 It’s not me… it’s you, ketchup Growing up, my family did eat much healthier than the average American family. But we still relied consistently on sugar-laden condiments. When I was 5, if you had asked me about the different ethnic food I consumed, I would have reported that I ate the following variety: Tex-Mex (ranch dressing) All-American (ketchup) […]

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paleo flavor boosters - add flavor without sugar or chemicals

It’s not me… it’s you, ketchup

Growing up, my family did eat much healthier than the average American family. But we still relied consistently on sugar-laden condiments. When I was 5, if you had asked me about the different ethnic food I consumed, I would have reported that I ate the following variety:

  • Tex-Mex (ranch dressing)
  • All-American (ketchup)
  • Southern (barbecue sauce)
  • Asian (teriyaki sauce)

These processed sauces all have one thing in common: they’re highly processed! Even natural options are filled with sugar – organic ketchup isn’t any lower in added sugar than regular ketchup.

If you want to transition your family to healthier meals but are stumped in the flavor department, try the following options for easy flavor boosters.

 25 Healthy Flavor Boosters

1. Caramelized onions – recipe here – When I want to crank up the flavor and add a deep, caramel sweetness to a dish, I quickly caramelize some onions in ghee or coconut oil. You can make a quick sauce for meats by blending caramelized onions, broth and a pinch of salt.

2. Truffle saltavailable here or at gourmet food stores – I recently got desperately hooked on truffle salt. One whiff of this pure umami condiment and there was no going back! I use it on roasted veggies and fish. It also works perfectly with eggs.

3. Mushroom powder - recipe here – Another way to add a quick infusion of umami into any dish? Add a sprinkle of homemade mushroom powder. It adds an amazing layer of savory unctuousness. I love it on vegetables and chicken.

4. Tomato pasterecommended one available here - Tomato paste carries concentrated flavor without all the refined sugar in ketchup. Stir it into stews, soups, and spreads. You can also add a spoonful of it when I’m deglazing a pan to add deeper flavor.

5. Herbamareavailable here - This is my favorite seasoning salt, made with a blend of sea salt, garlic, onion, and green herbs (all organic). It seems to compliment all proteins and vegetables. If you eat quinoa, it makes a killer quinoa seasoning.

paleo flavor boosters - add flavor without sugar or chemicals6. Roasted garlicrecipe here – Roasting garlic tames it’s bitterness and mellows the flavor into a slightly sweet flavor. I love tossing zucchini noodles with a simple sauce of olive oil mashed with roasted garlic. You can also add a few roasted garlic cloves to stews.

7. Grain Free Gravyrecipe here - This is a decadently flavorful gravy made with only ghee/olive oil, onions and broth. I love it on vegetables, meat and seafood.

8. Homemade bone brothrecipe here – If a recipe calls for broth or stock, you can increase the flavor factor a hundred times by using homemade bone broth.

9. Anchovy paste - recommended one available here – If you want to add deep, salty kick, try a small squirt of anchovy paste. It’s a must-have for homemade Caesar dressing.

10. Flavored olive oilrecipe here – To make a flavorful finishing oil, infuse olive oil with your favorite herbs and spices.

11. Coconut aminosavailable here – I choose to avoid soy sauce, because I’m not a fan of the anti-nutrient properties of soy. Coconut aminos taste very similar to soy sauce, and I actually find the slightly sweeter flavor preferable.

12. Coconut sugar - available here – The title of this post mentions adding flavor without sugar, and I’m referring to processed sugar and sugar-laden condiments. Coconut sugar makes a much healthier substitute for white sugar in your recipes, and a spoonful can add sweetness and depth to sauces. It has a molasses undertone.

13. Herb + olive oil cubesrecipe here – These are a fabulous way to preserve fresh herbs. Just add a couple of cubes to a stew or soup for instant flavor!

14. Ginger salt – recipe here – This pantry staple in my kitchen is an easy way to add fresh ginger flavor to salads, soups, vegetables and proteins.

15. Cashew sour cream – recipe here - If you are in need of a dairy-free option for finishing soups or mashed potatoes, try homemade cashew sour cream.

16. Refrigerator pickles - recipe here - The recipe couldn’t be simpler or easier! Add to salads and sandwiches.

17. Apple cider vinegar - recommended one available here - Good old apple cider vinegar. I always add a splash to soups and when I deglaze a pan.

18. Balsamic reduction - recipe here – Balsamic reduction makes a killer salad dressing when whisked with olive oil. Also try it drizzled over fresh strawberries… you will be in heaven.

19. Fish sauce – recommended one available here – I love how clean that ingredient list is: just anchovies and salt. It’s instant umami.

20. Smoked sea salt -  available here - Where has this been all my life? It’s like adding slow-smoked flavor to meats and vegetables in less than a second!

21. Real Salt seasoningavailable here – This is by far the best seasoning salt I’ve ever tasted, made with a blend of Real Salt, onion, spices and herbs. It’s a perfect balance of salty, savory and a hint of sweetness from the onion. It does contain nightshades, however. I can’t use on a regular basis because I’m sensitive to the nightshades.

22. Toasted coconutrecipe here – When sprinkled on both sweet and savory dishes, toasted coconut adds a warm, fragrant, buttery flavor and lovely crunch.

23. Toasted coconut butterrecipe here - Toasted coconut butter is pure divine goodness. Stir it into sauces – especially asian sauces. I like using it instead of peanut butter or almond butter in satay sauce.

24. Pesto – Pesto can nearly always come to the rescue in the flavor department. You can make it with the traditional basil, or a more peppery green such as arugula or dandelion greens. And there is no need to add parmesan cheese if that’s not your thing – just add an extra handful of nuts (cashews, almonds, Brasil nuts,  macadamias, pine nuts… the list goes on) in the recipe.

25. Umami gravy - recipe here – Umami is a term for the sixth taste, which is a meaty/savory flavor. Umami gravy is a paleo-friendly sauce which will leave your tastes buds in rapture.

 Do you have any other ways to add flavor without processed condiments? 

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The Non-Toxic Bedroom Checklist http://empoweredsustenance.com/non-toxic-bedroom/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/non-toxic-bedroom/#comments Wed, 04 Mar 2015 15:21:18 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=8647 Do you have a non-toxic bedroom? Your bedroom should be a place of peace, relaxation and comfort to support restorative sleep. If you want to support all aspects of healthy sleep, it’s essential to consider the sources of toxins in your bedroom. I believe the bedroom is the most important room in the house to […]

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non-toxic bedroom checklist

Do you have a non-toxic bedroom?

Your bedroom should be a place of peace, relaxation and comfort to support restorative sleep. If you want to support all aspects of healthy sleep, it’s essential to consider the sources of toxins in your bedroom.

I believe the bedroom is the most important room in the house to detoxify. Why?

When we are sleeping, our bodies are in full parasympathetic nervous system mode. This is the “rest-and-digest state” which means our defenses are down. In this vulnerable state, we are most susceptible to the damages of pollutants and chemicals.

A low-toxin bedroom is even more important for babies and children, since they are growing quickly, higher respiration rate (potentially taking in more air-borne pollutants) and have smaller bodies more susceptible to toxins.

Here is a checklist to use as you detox your bedroom to support healthy sleep.

Air quality

Remove sources of indoor air pollutants

  • Paraffin and soy candles (they release toxins from the wax and fragrance)
  • Artificial air fresheners, including arose sprays, reed diffusers, and plug-in room fragrance
  • Toxic cleaning supplies
  • Artificially fragranced laundry detergent and dryer sheets used on bedding and clothing

Add some natural air purifiers

Consider a high-quality air purifier (particularly if you have asthma, allergies or a compromised immune system)

  • I’m writing a follow-up post the air purifier I use, because it’s a bigger topic than I can fit in a couple of sentences. Stay tuned next week if you are interested.

Non-Toxic Mattress

If you’ve read any of my posts on mattress toxicity and sleep quality, you’ve heard this story… the worse flare-up ever of my autoimmune disease correlated to the week that I began sleeping on a new mattress. Coincidence? No!

non-toxic bedroom checklistYour mattress may be the most toxic component in your bedroom. Regular mattresses are coated with highly poisonous fire retardants that off-gas. Even worse, popular memory foam mattresses are make with numerous other components that off-gas toxins, especially when the mattress begins to break down.

I got connected with intelliBED because they create the best, safest mattress I’ve found. After struggling with insomnia my whole life, my quality of sleep drastically improved overnight when I switched to intelliBED, because the mattress supports proper alignment and restorative sleep. Most importantly, I know that I am not inhaling off-gassing chemicals because I am sleeping on a non-toxic surface.

I worked hard with intelliBED to create an education resource about mattress toxicity and sleep quality that is as clear and concise as possible. We created this Holistic Sleep Webinar, which I think you will find very helpful.

Non-Toxic Bedding

As a rule of thumb, I opt for natural fibers, specifically wool and cotton, for bedding instead of synthetic fibers. Synthetic fibers may contain chemical residues from processing, which is why I also prefer natural fiber clothing.

Iuse a wool and organic cotton comforter after looking into the other options for natural bedding. The one I is from Holy Lamb Organics, a small company dedicated to sustainable and organic materials.

Why wool for a comforter?

  1. Comfort and temperature - Wool is the most breathable comforter filling and helps regulate body temperature. 
  2. Hypoallergenic – This is the primary reason I choose wool. It is more resistant to dust mites than other natural bedding materials, specifically down (which attracts dust mites). I’ve read two reasons why wool repels dust mites: 1. it has microscopic bristles on the wool fibers and 2. it has lanolin which repels the mites.
  3. Long-lasting – with proper care, a wool comforter will hold up well for decades.
  4. Renewable – Wool is an renewable resource, and I support Holy Lamb Organics because they source from sustainable farms.

Special gift – get a FREE wool comforter, a $405 value!

comforter 1If you are interested in intelliBED and non-toxic bedding, this is the time to make the investment – I’ve been working on a special gift for you! 

I’ve been working on this surprise for a while now and here it is: intelliBED is giving a FREE Holy Lamb Organics wool comforter – up to a $405 value – with your purchase of a mattress. You will also get 10% off the mattress.

 Click here for the detailsThis gift is available through March 31st, so you have some time to contemplate but don’t wait too long – when it’s over, it’s over.

Electronics and lighting

Reduce sources of EMFs

EMFs – harmful electromagnetic fields – are a ubiquitous household toxin, but not often considered. EMFs are biologically toxic electrical frequencies that disrupt electrical communication in the human body and have been shown to cause serious health issues ranging from diabetes to cancer. Here is my overview on EMF dangers and steps to reduce the damage.

Again, since we are in full parasympathetic mode when sleeping, this is when we are most vulnerable to the DNA-altering effects of EMFs.

  • Turn of the WiFi before you go to sleep
  • Turn off your phone before bed
  • Switch to corded landline phones instead of cordless home phones
  • Avoid digital baby monitors if possible, which are a high source of EMF. Use a wired or plug-in version or, if possible, move baby’s bedroom.
  • Don’t use your laptop or tablet on your lap, where the radiation is concentrated over vital organs. I use a DefenderPad to block this radiation.
  • Use full-spectrum or LED lights instead of fluorescent lighting

tablet in bed

Reduce light pollution

  • Take a “screen fast” at least an hour before bed. The blue light from electronic screens has been shown to disrupt melatonin levels, contributing to sleep issues
  • Alternatively, install f.lux on your devices to block the blue light after sunset
  • As another option, consider wearing “melatonin glasses” if you watch TV before bed
  • Use blackout blinds to create a pitch-black sleeping environment
  • If you struggle with hormone balance, you can do these simple tweaks to the lighting in your room at night to support balanced hormones

Have you checked off items on this checklist? Are there other steps you take to detox your bedroom?

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The 5 Key Ways I Afford Healthy Food http://empoweredsustenance.com/afford-healthy-food/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/afford-healthy-food/#comments Tue, 03 Mar 2015 03:02:49 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=3777 To afford healthy food, we need a paradigm shift Since this post is all about saving money while eating healthy, I do want to address the following point. If we speak with our wallets, then it is accurate to draw the conclusion that the American population, in general, doesn’t see food as a valuable investment. […]

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5 ways to afford healthy food

To afford healthy food, we need a paradigm shift

Since this post is all about saving money while eating healthy, I do want to address the following point.

If we speak with our wallets, then it is accurate to draw the conclusion that the American population, in general, doesn’t see food as a valuable investment.

According to statistics from a Forbes article on American spending habits,

In the past, feeding our families took a much bigger bite out of American budgets –and it hardly ever included dining out. In 1901, according to a 1997 Bureau of Labor Statistics study, the average family spent almost half of their budget on food. Just 3% of that went to meals away from home. Today, we only spend an average 13.3% of our budgets on food–but 42% of that money is spent in restaurants.

For many of us, we cannot afford to purchase real, healthy, organic food with only 13% of our budget. That is why I believe we need a paradigm shift: we need to INVEST in healthy foods because it means investing in a healthy future.

Quality food should be prioritized in the budget above a cable subscription… it’s a paradigm shift, right? Reprioritizing is the most important way I keep my pantry stocked with unprocessed food.

Tips to afford healthy food

With that said, I rely on a few essential resources to afford healthy food and manage a real food lifestyle. I hope this list can help you!

1. Vitacost

Vitacost.com was the most important resource when I first began taking supplements and stocking my pantry with items like coconut flour and Real Salt. If you compare Vitacost’s prices to your health food store, you’ll be blown away! Especially if you are stocking up in bulk. Also, there is always 2-day free shipping over $50.

Here are some of my healthy living staples that I routinely purchase from Vitacost:

  • Coconut products like coconut oil, coconut butter and coconut flour
  • Other specialty foods like cacao powder and Bragg’s ACV
  • Supplements and superfoods
  • Essential oils
  • Skin care products like jojoba oil and shea butter
  • Natural cosmetics (like one of my favorite lipsticks, for example)
  • Herbs and spices

Let’s take a look at one of my recent orders from Vitacost and see how the savings add up:

1 54-oz container Nutiva coconut oil                                   retail: 37.99  Vitacost: 23.99

3 bags Edward and Son coconut flour                                retail: 6.19    Vitacost: 5.19

1 bottle granulated bee pollen                                              retail: 13.75   Vitacost: 11.49

1 (big bottle) Jarrow Formulas Quercetin capsules          retail: 31.95   Vitacost: 16.49

Retail Total: 102.26   Vitacost Total: 67.54 (with free shipping!)  

Savings: 34.72!

If you’ve never shopped at Vitacost before, make sure you click through my referral link here to get $10 off your first order. 

2. Craig’s List

I recently snagged a $70 Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker for only $20 on Craig’s List. This online market has surprising gems when it comes to materials and products for healthy cooking and a Real Food Lifestyle.

Under the “Household Items” category, you can find materials including:

  • Used or new Vitamix or Blendtec blenders
  • Kitchen Aid standing mixers
  • Specialty tools, like ice cream machines, dehydrators and yogurt makers
  • Slow cookers
  • Barbeques
  • Cookware and bakeware including Le Crueset pots and cast iron pans (here is my discussion on non-toxic bakeware options)

In addition, you can also place ads to source Real Food staples such as pastured eggs, raw milk, farm animals and cultured food starters. Of course, it goes without saying that you need to practice adequate precaution when buying or selling on Craig’s List. But when used wisely, it provides prime savings to eat healthy on a budget. 

 3. Skip the “luxury heath foods”

ways to afford healthy foodWhen browsing the isles of natural food stores, I’ve learned to avoid the “glamour health foods.” This includes the non-necessary items like snack bars, the fancy chips, and the gluten free pastries.

A meal of a $5 bottle of green juice, a $5 bag of coconut chips, and a $3 plant protein bar would make a stereotypical chic-health-food-store lunch. But don’t stray towards these fashionable and pre-made health foods if budget is your priority. Compare that price tag to a meal made from a chicken you bake at home, with a baked sweet potato and a salad, for example.

When many people make the transition to a real food lifestyle, they swap processed items for their counterparts with higher quality ingredients. This includes:

  • Gluten free breads
  • Cereals
  • Snack bars and protein bars
  • Chips
  • Desserts, such as dairy free ice creams

I understand the need baby step through the transition to whole foods. However, the expense of doing it with these pricey pre-packaged foods can be enough to dissuade someone from real food! So instead of reaching for a $7 box of “healthy” cereal that will last for three servings, how about going for the box of pastured eggs instead?

Along the same lines, if you are going to switch your ice cream for a $6 pint of coconut milk ice cream, why not try satisfying your sweet tooth with a handful of frozen berries or an apple?

4. CSAs

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, which a growing movement to provide affordable, organic produce to families. Members pay the farm an allotted amount at the beginning of the growing season, which provides the farmers much needed funds to plant the crops. Then, during harvest, member families are delivered boxes of fresh produce.

Here is why I highly recommend CSAs

  • Much better prices on local, organic produce than you’ll find at any store
  • You’re supporting local, organic/biodynamic farming
  • Variety and color in your diet! My CSA box has introduced me to new ingredients such as kholrabi and romanesco

You can most likely find a CSA near you. Many CSAs also deliver meat and milk products along with their produce. I am also able to purchase seasonal shares of pastured eggs, raw milk cheese, and grassfed beef from my CSA.

5. Know your grocery stores

  • Costco – As a single college student who doesn’t need to buy 50 roles of toilet paper at a time, I personally don’t frequent Costco. But I know it is a lifesaver for many families. Did you know you can find excellent prices on tons of real food ingredients here? This is a helpful list of Real Food Finds at Costco.
  • Whole Foods – In the health food world, it seems like Whole Foods is in the controversial territory of politics and religion. The prices for many items are jacked up, but you can find some good deals if you know what to purchase. Here is a list of budget-friendlier items at Whole Foods.
  • Trader Joe’s – My warning with Trader Joe’s is that many of the foods are disguised as health foods, but they aren’t. Always read the ingredient lists! You may be surprised how many store-brand products are chock-full of highly processed sweeteners, inflammatory vegetable oils and stabilizers. There are some affordable, healthy finds at the store, but always read ingredients.
  • Local Food Co-ops – I feel lucky to live in Northwest Washington, where there is an abundance of locally-owned natural food co-ops. These stores nearly always beat Whole Foods with their prices, have more locally-grown produce, and I’m happy to support the businesses.

Do you use any of these resources to save money on healthy food? Do you have any other money saving tips for eating real food on a budget? 

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Paleo Cookie Butter Crumble http://empoweredsustenance.com/paleo-cookie-butter-crumble/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/paleo-cookie-butter-crumble/#comments Tue, 24 Feb 2015 03:10:46 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=8455 Cookie + butter + crumble. You can’t really go wrong when you put those words together in a recipe. This recipe started out as my Paleo Shortbread Meltaways. A bit distracted, I had left the cookie dough in the saucepan of melted coconut oil until it began to brown and smell toasty. Instead of baking the cookies, I […]

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paleo cookie butter crumble

Cookie + butter + crumble. You can’t really go wrong when you put those words together in a recipe.

This recipe started out as my Paleo Shortbread Meltaways. A bit distracted, I had left the cookie dough in the saucepan of melted coconut oil until it began to brown and smell toasty. Instead of baking the cookies, I played around with this toasted cookie dough, adding a bit of milk to soften it and then chilling it in the fridge to create a cookie dough texture.

paleo cookie butter crumble

Uses for Paleo Cookie Butter Crumble

  • Eat it plain!
  • Sprinkle it over a baked sweet potato and top with a dusting of cinnamon for a beautiful and hearty dessert.
  • Bake fruit of your choice for a crumble filling. After baking and cooking, top with the cookie butter crumble.

paleo cookie butter crumbleAbout the ingredients

Coconut flour – My favorite grain free flour, coconut flour provides the base for the recipe. If you’ve ever toasted coconut flakes, you know how the process of toasting raises coconut to new heights. The same flavor phenomenon happens when coconut flour, moistened with a bit of coconut oil, is toasted. Coconut flour is available here or at health food stores.

Arrowroot flour – Another one of my favorite grain free flours, arrowroot flour adds a more delicate, crumbly texture to the cookie butter. You can substitute coconut flour for the arrowroot here, but the texture will not be quite the same. Arrowroot flour is available here or at health food stores.

Coconut sugar – Coconut sugar is a mineral-rich, unrefined sweetener made from dehydrated coconut sap. It is lower glycemic than many other sweeteners and has a wonderful maple flavor that works beautifully in this recipe. Coconut sugar is available here or at health food stores.

Paleo Cookie Butter Crumble

10 minutes

Yield: About 1 cup of cookie butter crumbles

Paleo Cookie Butter Crumble

This recipe starts out as grain free cookie dough, which is briefly toasted to add an incredible layer of flavor. You'll likely find yourself munching on the crumble plain, but it makes an excellent topping for fruit, ice cream or custard. I even like to add some coconut milk and eat it like cereal!

Ingredients

  • 4 Tbs. coconut flour, available here
  • 2 Tbs. coconut oil
  • 1 Tbs. arrowroot flour, available here (for substitute, see note below)
  • 2 Tbs. superfine coconut sugar (see note below), coconut sugar is available here
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • Pinch of unrefined salt, available here
  • 2-3 Tbs. milk of choice

Instructions

  1. First, make the superfine coconut sugar by blending the coconut sugar in a high-powered blender. See the note below for instructions. This ensures that the coconut sugar is not crunchy or gritty in the finished cookie butter.
  2. Melt the coconut oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the remaining ingredients except for the milk and stir well. Cook without stirring for a minute or so, until it begins to brown on the bottom. Then stir and allow to brown briefly again. It's ready when it smells sweet and toasted.
  3. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl. Add the milk - enough to moisten the mixture into a dough-like consistency. Press into small clumps with your fingers, then place in the fridge until chilled.
  4. Eat as is, or sprinkle it on custards, pudding or fruit.

Notes

1. To make superfine coconut sugar, place 3/4 - 1 cup of coconut sugar into a high powered blender. A Vitamix or Blentec works well, but I love using my Ninja Blender. Blend on high speed for about 2-3 minutes, until the sugar is finely ground and a bit powdery. It will not be as fine as powdered sugar, however. You can use the leftover sugar for sweetening beverages or desserts. 2. You can use tapioca flour in place of the arrowroot, if desired. If you cannot have either, you can use coconut flour, but the texture of the final product will be slightly different.

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Grounding Shoes Giveaway! (3 winners, up to $160 value each) http://empoweredsustenance.com/grounding-shoes-giveaway/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/grounding-shoes-giveaway/#comments Fri, 20 Feb 2015 02:01:14 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=8617 UPDATE AS OF MARCH 2015:  Unfortunately, Juil is no longer in business.  I’m the kind of girl who gets excited about essential oils and herbs, not heels and purses. With that said, there is still a part of me that jumps for joy when I discover the perfect pair of shoes. And since discovering Juil a […]

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grounding shoes giveaway

UPDATE AS OF MARCH 2015: 

Unfortunately, Juil is no longer in business. 

I’m the kind of girl who gets excited about essential oils and herbs, not heels and purses. With that said, there is still a part of me that jumps for joy when I discover the perfect pair of shoes. And since discovering Juil a few months ago, I’m convinced that I’ve found the perfect shoe.

What makes Juil grounding shoes special?

Juil are grounding shoes, which mean they allow the beneficial electromagnetic charge of the earth to pass into your body. Regular shoes have rubber soles, which block the electrical charge of the earth. (If you can get your hands on 100% uncoated leather-soled moccasins, however, that’s another story).

When we walk barefoot on conductive surfaces (untreated concrete, sand, grass or dirt) we are earthing or grounding ourselves. Skin-to-earth contact allows the negative ions from the ground flow into our body, and this is shown to reduce stress hormones and inflammation (source).

Have you ever noticed a tingling, uplifting feeling when you walk barefoot on a sandy beach? Or experienced profound rejuvenation after laying on the grass in the sun? It’s likely due to both increased relaxation paired with the anti-stress effects of earthing.

Besides the earthing factor, here are other reasons why I love Juil grounding shoes:

  • Comfort – The ballet flats are perhaps the best I’ve ever worn – the leather offers a hint of stretch to mold to my feet, but it stays on. If possible, the moccasins are even more comfortable with the padded foot bed and soft fabric.
  • Wide Range of Styles – From classy flats to boho boots, Juil has you covered! I love the clean, classic ballet flats. My moccasins are more casual, and extremely comfortable. And my sandals will go perfectly with summer dresses or shorts in the spring/summer.
  • Durability – I’ve given my ballet flats very heavy use, and they are still going strong. I credit the real leather… nothing beats leather flats for mold-to-your feet comfort and durability.

Components of Juil shoes include:

  • The conductive copper “earthing dots” under each toe to allow the benefits of grounding
  • Leather for comfort and to conform to your feet
  • Vegetable dyes – better for your health and the environment!

Juil Grounding Shoes Giveaway

This giveaway is closed.

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Behind-The-Scenes with Lauren + Blogging Resources http://empoweredsustenance.com/blogging-resources/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/blogging-resources/#comments Mon, 16 Feb 2015 16:24:58 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=8593 Blogging Questions and Blogging Resources Today, I want to share with you the answers I receive from friends, family and followers about blogging. These are questions about blogging in general, and my experience with blogging. I hope this can clarify the “behind-the-scenes” mystery of blogging for you. Why is your blog popular? I wish I […]

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blogging resources

Blogging Questions and Blogging Resources

Today, I want to share with you the answers I receive from friends, family and followers about blogging. These are questions about blogging in general, and my experience with blogging. I hope this can clarify the “behind-the-scenes” mystery of blogging for you.

Why is your blog popular?

I wish I could say that achieving a successful blog was as simple as whipping up a recipe of Special Blog Sauce and liberally spreading it on your keyboard. But it’s not that simple, and even as I’ve experienced the journey myself, it’s difficult for me to pinpoint the exact ingredients that created Empowered Sustenance. These are the most important ingredients for me, I believe:

1. Personal struggle and triumph. I’ve been through an extreme challenge and got stronger from it. It took me 18 years to realize that I wasn’t destined for a calm life, and that I should embrace the pain, challenge, and triumph in my path. My illness was extreme and my recovery was extreme, and that gave me the courage I needed to embrace the challenge of blogging.

2. Passion. I live and breathe a passion for wellness – for continuing to make myself well, and to help make others well. The word empower, I believe, encompasses my highest calling in life. I am fulfilled at a deep level when I empower both myself and others.

3. Authenticity. Authenticity is that elusive but unmistakeable quality that makes a blog memorable. My biggest piece of advice for bloggers? Be your authentic self. People want to connect with and learn from the genuine you. The caveat? This doesn’t work so well if authentically you are a mean-spirited person. But even in that case you’ll authentically attract not-so-nice people (this really is the pattern).

4. I work really hard. There’s no shortcut for the thousands of hours I’ve put into my blog over the past three years. But I wouldn’t have given up a single hour, because I’ve learned so much and grown as a person. I worked hard on the parts I loved, such as recipe development and graphic design. And I worked just as hard on the parts I really didn’t love, such as figuring out all the technical aspects, such as photography editing and behind-the-scenes maintenance.

5. I made a commitment and stuck with it. Four months after I started blogging, I knew I wanted to take it farther. I made a commitment to post once at least week, and I’ve stuck to that commitment without a single exception. That alone didn’t make Empowered Sustenance popular, but I think that goal signified the commitment I made.

6. Networking. Fostering friendships and partnerships with other bloggers has definitely been a key part in Empowered Sustenance. It can be difficult to get plugged into a network with like-minded bloggers, but once you do, it’s an incredible support system. Start by reaching out to bloggers (I’d recommend focusing on bloggers with an audience size similar to your own) through comments on their posts. Another way is offering to guest post for someone, and offering a professional and organized proposal.

How much time do you spend blogging?

If you ask 100 bloggers this question, you’ll get 100 different answers. In my experience, building a blog does carry a snowball effect. I’ve been able to put less hours into it this year compared to the first year.

On average, last year (when I was not a full-time student), I put in about 30 hours a week. That did include my meal preparation, which was often testing ingredients and recipes.

This year, I’m a full-time student. I’m putting in less hours doing social media and recipe testing. However, a significant portion of my school work is research for blog posts, since my major is focused on the mind-and-body health connection.

Many blogs similar in size to Empowered Sustenance have more than one person doing the day-to-day stuff, such as ghost writers or virtual assistants. I like doing all the tasks and – so far – make enough time for it, so I’m the only one here.

Do you make money blogging?

The short answer is yes, I now support myself with blogging. I wouldn’t be able to dedicate so much time blogging if I couldn’t make an income through it. But the income didn’t happen overnight.

When asked what I do, I tell people that my job is blogging. In my experience, people tend towards two assumptions when I share this:

1. “Anyone can blog, that’s an insignificant and unimportant task.”

2. “You make a living blogging? That’s absolutely amazing, you must be a genius or something!”

Well, neither of those assumptions are accurate, but they are understandable. If you want to make money blogging, cash isn’t going to fall in your lap even if your blog is popular. You need to make it a goal to create a blogging income. For me, this included writing books, putting advertisements on the blog, and recommending a very select circle of products through affiliate programs.

What does blogging entail?

Another frequent question I receive is, “What exactly do you do to maintain a blog?”

  • Creating blogging content – Testing recipes, writing blog posts and newsletters each week.
  • Creating content for sale – One of the ways I support myself is through my popular self-published on Amazon. Many bloggers write books or create online courses/classes to help cover expenses.
  • Social media – Social media takes a daily time investment for me. For example, I spend about 15 minutes a day on Pinterest and 15 minutes on Facebook (time includes searching for good links to share).
  • Marketing and working with sponsors – This includes either reaching out to sponsors or them reaching out to me. I talk to them and research and try their product/service. Then, I write about my experience to share with you.

What’s a typical day for you?

blogging resources + a behind-the-scene look at what blogging entailsMany of you know that I’m a full-time student studying health psychology at Bastyr University, a naturopathic college. When I first started college a few years ago, I had to leave because my health was so dire. This fall, I was healthy enough to be back in school and I’ve changed the direction of my education.

Okay, that’s the background story. Now, I’ve settled into a rhythm that allows me to balance my health, school, and blogging.

On a typical class day, I have classes from the morning until the afternoon. After classes, I spend either two hours on blog work or homework. On non-class days, I spend 2-3 hours each on blog work and homework. I don’t have weekends off from blogging or studying, but I’m comfortable with the pace because I schedule time to hang out with friends and rest.

My health is also something that I prioritize in my schedule – I can’t slack on sleep, healthy food or stress management. I’ve learned that lesson the hard way, and I’m never going to forget it! Every couple of days, I spend a good 2.5 hour chunk of time doing batch cooking. That way, my fridge is stocked with staples like prepared veggies, healthy protein, and bone broth – things I can quickly heat up for a nourishing meal. I also allocate more time in my schedule than average for health appointments such as acupuncture and energy work, which I’ve found critical for preventing flare-ups of symptoms while at school.

What blogging resources do you recommend?

I wanted to include this in a post, since I’m so frequently asked, “I want to start a blog, what blogging resources do you suggest?” Or, “What platforms do you recommend for newsletters and domain hosting?”

  • Bluehost – For domain hosting. I’ve experienced good customer service and the user dashboard is pretty easy to use.
  • Synthesis – For website hosting. I used Bluehost to host my website, but switched to Synthesis once my traffic increased significantly. It sped up the page loading time and their customer service is excellent.
  • Studiopress – For website frameworks. I can’t recommend Studiopress enough!
  • Aweber –  For email lists and building your newsletter. Easy to use, helpful people.
  • AdThrive – A small company that helps maximize your ad revenue (they take a commission, but still it’s better than using just Google ads). You have to have at least 300,000 page views per month to be eligible.

WordPress Plug-Ins I recommend

  • Pin It Pro – allows you to select which image from the post will be pinned
  • Akismet – for spam, only $5 a week. Better than all the free spam plugins I tried.
  • W3 Total Cache – an essential for every WordPress blog
  • WordPress SEO – another essential
  • Related Posts – for post suggestions at the end of a blog post, the best-looking option I’ve tried
  • Simple Social Icons – for sharing buttons on each post
  • Zip List Recipe Plugin – the template I use for my recipes

I hope this behind-the-scenes tour and blogging resources answered some of your questions! Thank you so much for your encouragement and support over the past few years, Empowered Sustenance would not be here if it wasn’t for you. 

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5 Ways to Increase Hair Growth Naturally http://empoweredsustenance.com/increase-hair-growth-naturally/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/increase-hair-growth-naturally/#comments Mon, 09 Feb 2015 20:22:36 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=8256 Increase hair growth from the root cause! Hair loss… I’ve been there. I felt like I was loosing my identity when my autoimmune disease and prescribed medications caused more than half of my hair to shed. When I decided to take a holistic approach to my health with nutrition and lifestyle changes, I was able […]

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How to increase hair growth naturally - tips that work at the root cause!

Increase hair growth from the root cause!

Hair loss… I’ve been there. I felt like I was loosing my identity when my autoimmune disease and prescribed medications caused more than half of my hair to shed. When I decided to take a holistic approach to my health with nutrition and lifestyle changes, I was able to not only stop my medications but welcomed back new hair growth.

These are the five steps that have been key for me in my hair growth journey, and I hope they help you as well!

1. Hair growth depends on adequate stomach acid

What does stomach acid – technically hydrochloric acid – have to do with increasing hair growth naturally? When it comes to achieving flowing locks, it boils down to two key factors: nutrient intake and nutrient assimilation. Adequate stomach acid is largely responsible for nutrient assimilation.

Did you know that 90% of people have too little stomach acid, not too much? People often believe that heartburn and indigestion are caused by too much stomach acid, but it’s the other way around. When we are stressed and nutrient-deficient, our gastric juice production drastically slows. Heartburn then ensues because out stomach isn’t the acid tank it should be – our meal stays in the stomach too long, causing digestive distress.

Here’s how the process influences hair growth:

  1. Hair is composed of keratin, which is protein. We require adequate dietary protein intake and assimilation for healthy hair.
  2. When we consume protein, digestion of it begins in the stomach. During a meal, our stomach should be highly acidic to start breaking down the protein into amino acids.
  3. Enough stomach acid also signals digestion to work lower down in the digestive tract. It signals the release of digestive enzymes, which further breakdown protein, fats and carbs.
  4. When we properly digest our food, we do more than provide the building blocks for hair. We support balanced hormones and a healthy metabolism, two factors discussed below that increase hair growth naturally.

In a nutshell, adequate stomach acid = protein assimilation = building blocks for healthy hair.

To learn how to increase stomach acid naturally, read my post here.

2. Consume collagen or gelatin to increase hair growth naturally

High-quality collagen is the only “protein powder” that I use. It contains a unique profile of amino acids that provide the building blocks for healthy hair, skin and nails. Once I began using collagen daily, I noticed a significant improvement in new hair growth and stronger nails.

How to increase hair growth naturally - tips that work at the root cause!Recommending collagen to increase hair growth naturally is based on my own and others’ experience. There aren’t studies showing that supplementing with jello will make your hair grow. But who knows… maybe that study is a current work in progress! However, there are studies showing that collagen supplementation does indeed improve skin quality, in terms of elasticity and moisture (read more here).

I can’t emphasize the importance of purchasing a high-quality collagen or gelatin supplement. Regular unflavored gelatin from the supermarket comes from feedlot cattle. If the animal is in a highly toxic environment like a feedlot, their protein isn’t going to be the best quality. I use Vital Proteins, which is a brand of 100% grassfed collagen and gelatin (they also offer free shipping on all orders). Their collagen peptides dissolve without flavor in beverages – a great protein booster for smoothies, tea or coffee. Their collagen protein can be used to make homemade gummies and jello.

Read more about the benefits of collagen and gelatin here.

3. Support balanced hormones for healthy hair growth

We’ve discussed how protein intake and digestion influence hair growth, but healthy hair also depends on hormone balance. Hormone balance, as you likely know, is an extraordinarily complex topic. Here are some of the key hormones at play in hair growth, highly simplified:

  • Cortisol – This stress hormone spikes in response to chronic and acute stress, but it is also required to regulate daily physiological functions. Chronically elevated cortisol (due to ongoing stress) and chronically low cortisol (often after a period of chronic stress) both impair metabolism and, in turn, impede hair growth.
  • Estrogen – Estrogen dominance is a highly common hormone imbalance for women and men of all ages. Toxins in our environment, such as pesticides and BPA, act like estrogen in the body. Further, foods such as soy throw estrogen out of balance. Elevated levels of estrogen can significantly contribute to hair loss for both men and women. I recommend reading Hair Like a Fox for more details. My book Quit PMS discusses how women can naturally reverse estrogen dominance.
  • Thyroid hormones – Adequate thyroid hormone levels mean a healthy metabolism, and a healthy metabolism means improved hair growth. I’m discussing thyroid and hair growth in more detail below.

While hormone balance is multi-faceted, the good news is that the same steps help balance hormones across the board. If you haven’t read them already, check out my posts 15 Ways to Balance Hormones Right Now and (for women) my book Quit PMS.

4. Support a healthy, balanced scalp

How to improve hair growth naturally - tips that work at the root cause!It’s common sense: to increase hair growth naturally, start below the scalp. I don’t believe the answer to thinning hair is a topical serum or a magic pill – you have to address digestion and hormone balance. But, as I’ve learned through experience, scalp health is another crucial factor.

If you are familiar with my story, I struggled with extreme hair loss due to my autoimmune illness and the medications I was on years ago. When I changed my nutrition and lifestyle, I was able to address my disease naturally and start to re-grow my hair. The other huge piece for me, however, was balancing my scalp with Morrocco Method products.

I’m a life-long convert to Morrocco Method (MM) because they have changed my relationship with my hair. MM uses 100% raw ingredients that do not strip the hair of the protective natural oils, which encourage a balanced scalp. Now, I can go 4-5 days without needing to wash my hair because my scalp is balanced. I also don’t need to use any styling products or heat tools. I’ve written many posts about my experience with MM and you may also find this overview video helpful:

Morrocco Method coupon info:

I wanted to create a special deal for those who would like to try sample sizes of Morrocco Method shampoo – the most important part of their natural hair care routine. If you order a Trial Size Shampoo Set, you can get a FREE 2oz. conditioner of your choice! Follow these instructions:

  1. Add the Shampoo Trial-Travel Gift Set to your cart.
  2. Add one trial-travel sized conditioner of your choice in the cart. (Applies to Floating Lotus Conditioner 2oz, Pearl Essence Creme Rinse 2oz, Diamond Crystal Mist 2oz, Sapphire Volumizer Mist 2oz, Euro Oil 2oz, or Zen Detox 1oz)
  3. On the check out page, put EmpowerTote2 into the Coupon field and hit “Save” to apply it. (Only one coupon per customer).
  4. This coupon expires March 4th.

If you want to try some of the larger products, or already a fan of Morrocco Method, you can use my coupon EMPOWER65 for FREE shipping on orders above $65. Please note that coupons cannot be combined – only one coupon can be used per order.

5. Support thyroid health to increase hair growth naturally

I know from experience that hypothyroidism comes with a list of discouraging symptoms, including hair loss. Decreased thyroid hormone means that your cells aren’t producing enough energy, which means a slowed metabolism. That translates to reduced hair growth and increased hair shedding.

Once I knew I had hypothyroidism (which turned out to be Hashimoto’s, the autoimmune version of hypothyroidism), I threw myself into research and chose to use nutrition instead of the traditional mediation route. The key for me, along with the steps discussed above to improve hormone balance, was a grain free diet. I’ve tweaked my diet to find what works best for me, and it looks very similar to The Autoimmune Paleo Protocol.

For some bite-sized information, read my post Top 5 Foods for Thyroid Health. If you believe thyroid imbalance is a significant part of your hair struggles, then a much more comprehensive resource is The Thyroid Sessions, available here. I can’t recommend it enough as it has helped me on my own journey with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. It’s a digital program with interviews and documents from the leading experts in natural thyroid health. It answers questions about diet, lifestyle, supplements (including iodine questions!) and tons more… everything your doctor hasn’t been able to answer.

Are you on a journey to improve your hair by addressing the root causes? 

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