Empowered Sustenance http://empoweredsustenance.com Eat well and heal!™ Tue, 22 Jul 2014 01:51:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 3 Reasons to Avoid Ingesting Essential Oils http://empoweredsustenance.com/ingesting-essential-oils/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/ingesting-essential-oils/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 14:22:44 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=7506 Is ingesting essential oils safe? As you’ve undoubtedly noticed, essential oils have taken the natural health world by storm. As someone who uses essential oils for my own wellness and in my nutritional therapy practice, I understand the amazing properties of these natural remedies. The fervent marketing of two popular brands of essential oils has […]

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3 reasons to avoid ingesting essential oils

Is ingesting essential oils safe?

As you’ve undoubtedly noticed, essential oils have taken the natural health world by storm. As someone who uses essential oils for my own wellness and in my nutritional therapy practice, I understand the amazing properties of these natural remedies.

The fervent marketing of two popular brands of essential oils has introduced many people to these powerful tools for health. On the flip side, I’m left deeply concerned about the lack of proper safety precautions, particularly when it comes to ingesting essential oils. As shown in many studies such as this one, where essential oils measured up to the headache-relieving properties of Tylenol, essential oils are as powerful as pharmaceuticals.

Just as you would (or should) exercise caution and research when using pharmaceuticals, you should practice the same careful research when using essential oils. Essential oils are profoundly powerful, which makes them capable of both great good and great harm.

Therapeutic Grade, Schmerapeutic Grade

Many infographics and blog posts go something like this:

Allergies? Put lavender, peppermint and lemon oil in a capsule and take it daily! 

Indigestion? Swallow a couple of drops of peppermint oil in your water!

Want quick weight loss? Shed pounds by adding grapefruit oil to your water!

Chronic pain? Take frankincense, copaiba and basalm oil in a capsule and feel relief!

The only safety disclaimer added to these recipes usually warns, Only therapeutic grade essential oils are safe for internal use. Brand XXX are the only therapeutic grade essential oils.

Let’s get one thing straight: the term therapeutic grade provides marketing weight rather than signifying that the oils meet a regulated quality standard. A helpful Facebook page called Essential Oil University, unaffiliated with any oil company, is dedicated to busting essential oil myths like this one. The author of the page, Dr. Robert Pappas, explains:

“There seems to be a misconception that there is some kind of independent body that certifies oils as therapeutic grade, but to this date there is no such body, at least not one that is widely recognized. Does this mean there is no such thing as therapeutic grade? No, but just realize that any therapeutic grade standard out there right now is an internally derived company standard. Now this standard may be an overall great standard and perfectly acceptable to me or any other analyst or aromatherapist out there but it just needs to be noted that its not an independent standard.” (Source and read more)

Now that we’ve covered the unregulated use of therapeutic grade, let’s move on to the real question: even if your essential oils are of extremely high quality – whether they are labeled “therapeutic grade” or not – is ingesting essential oils safe? These are three reasons why I’m not comfortable ingesting essential oils without professional guidance.

1. We need more research on essential oils and gut flora

Practitioners, aromatherapists and multi-level-markers agree: ingesting essential oils does affect gut flora, which is the 4 pounds of bacteria lining your digestive tract. The disagreement lies in whether or not it supports a healthy or harmful balance of flora.

The widely perpetuated myth that ingesting essential oils kills only harmful – not beneficial – bacteria lacks any scientific support. Then again, the idea that ingesting essential oils kills beneficial bacteria is not supported by any studies. While we need significantly more research into this area to conclusively answer the question of how essential oils affect flora, we do have some clues into the situation.

In recent years, numerous studies have documented the antibacterial activity of essential oils against infectious bacterial strains (1, 2, 3). Unless future studies show otherwise, I think it is reasonable to theorize that the essential oils studied may demonstrate antibacterial properties against other less stubborn strains of bacteria. This hypothesis is a conservative approach, but I think it is best to err on the side of caution when dealing with antibacterial agents and the vulnerable terrain of our microbiome.

Robert Tisserand, author of Essential Oil Safety, wrote a post in which he states,

It would be useful to know more about particular oils, doses, routes of administration and their effect on the body’s microbiome. But in the meantime, it is rash to assume that essential oils negatively affect the balance of bowel flora, because there is no clinical evidence that this happens. 

We do know that enterically-coated capsules of peppermint oil are beneficial in cases of irritable bowel disease and that these capsules result in a (substantial) peak serum concentration of 1,492 ng/mL for menthol. We also know from this report that peppermint essential oil had a beneficial effect on the balance of gut bacteria in a case of SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth).

Interestingly, these studies likely point to the fact that the oil acts like an antibiotic. SIBO is bacterial OVERgrowth in parts of the small intestine. A drug is considered to have “beneficial effect” on SIBO if it kills/reduces the excessive bacterial growth, which is why antibiotics – either conventional or herbal – is used to treat SIBO.

We should also ask, why did the peppermint have a beneficial effect for Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD)? Here’s my theory: because it works as an antibiotic! As someone who has IBD, I can tell you that one of the conventional treatments for it is antibiotics. Just like probiotic therapy, antibiotic therapy helps IBD in many cases, since IBD results from imbalanced gut flora.

I find the results of these studies exciting, because I think peppermint oil is better than a conventional antibiotic for SIBO or IBD. In the case of these diseases, however, as well as other illnesses that are treated with “quick fix” essential oils, we also need to look at long-term results and also alternatives that do not risk destroying beneficial flora. In the case of SIBO/IBD, a dietary renovation is often enough to eliminate symptoms and rebalance gut flora (I recommend the GAPS Diet).

2. Probiotics aren’t an adequate safety net

3 reasons to avoid ingesting essential oilsWe don’t have a clear picture of how ingesting essential oils affects gut flora, but some believe that a probiotic supplement is an adequate safety net. I’ve read a quote from the founder of a popular brand of EOs in which he encourages the supplementation of a probiotic – his brand, of course – to ameliorate any of the potential gut-flora-disruption that may occur by taking ingesting a certain blend of essential oils. As a holistic practitioner who believes our gut flora is the most vulnerable and significant factors governing our health, that callous advice makes me cringe.

Probiotics can offer gut flora support, but popping a single probiotic supplement will not repair a widespread flora imbalance. It requires high-potency probiotics along probiotic foods to make a significant difference in healthy gut flora. Since we have trillions of bacterial strains in our gut, it far easier to kill beneficial bacteria than it is to replace it.

3. Aromatherapists don’t suggest internal use unless guided by a professional

Where do you see advice to ingest essential oils? Is it from a licensed practitioner or someone selling oils who obtains their information directly from the oil company?

An individual selling essential oils in a multi-level marketing scheme does better research on the safety of the oils than a licensed aromatherapist not affiliated with an essential oil company. Said no one ever.

The advice discrepancy between those selling the popular brands of essential oils and practitioners should raise a red flag. The Alliance of International Aromatherapists gives this statement on the internal use of essential oils: 

AIA does not endorse internal therapeutic use (oral, vaginal or rectal) of essential oils unless recommended by a health care practitioner trained at an appropriate clinical level. An appropriate level of training must include chemistry, anatomy, diagnostics, physiology, formulation guidelines and safety issues regarding each specific internal route (oral, vaginal or rectal). Please refer to the AIA Safety Guidelines for essential oil use. (Read more)

Please seek a practitioner’s guidance if ingesting essential oils

When it comes to conventional medicine and natural remedies alike,  first, do no harm. That’s why ingesting essential oils should be at the end of your natural remedies list. Start with options that have no potential for harm! When it comes to issues commonly addressed with ingesting essential oils – allergies, heartburn, immune support, weight loss, and detox - dietary and lifestyle changes should be renovated first. That usually solves the majority of the problems!

After diet and lifestyle are addressed, I suggest moving to food-based supplements and herbal preparations, along with topical application of essential oils. I primarily use Vibrant Blue Oils, which are uniquely formulated to support organ function though topical application.

If you wish to ingest essential oils after making the above changes, please do so under the guidance of a certified aromatherapist, herbalist or other practitioner who has vast experience with essential oils.

Let’s keep spreading the message that essential oils offer immense potential as agents for wellness. But let’s also spread the message that they need to be approached with due caution and respect for their powerful and yet-to-be-adequately-studied properties. If this post resonates with you, I urge you to share it with your family and friends who may be ingesting essential oils without that due caution. In the words of aromatherapist Amy Kreydin in her very wise post, friends don’t let friends drink essential oils.

Do you use essential oils? What role do they have in your life?

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Autoimmune Paleo Lemon Cookies Recipe http://empoweredsustenance.com/paleo-lemon-cookies/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/paleo-lemon-cookies/#comments Wed, 16 Jul 2014 12:54:34 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=7480 I’m excited to introduce you to Bre’anna of He Won’t Know It’s Paleo. I recently discovered her blog and fell in love with her creative autoimmune paleo baked good recipes. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Autoimmume Paleo Protocol (AIP for short), read this.  Autoimmune Paleo Lemon Cookies These paleo lemon cookies […]

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autoimmune paleo lemon cookies

I’m excited to introduce you to Bre’anna of He Won’t Know It’s Paleo. I recently discovered her blog and fell in love with her creative autoimmune paleo baked good recipes. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Autoimmume Paleo Protocol (AIP for short), read this. 

Autoimmune Paleo Lemon Cookies

These paleo lemon cookies are one of my family’s favorite treats right now. I was actually saving this recipe for the AIP cookbook I am writing. But I just love Lauren and when she invited me to guest post, I wanted to give y’all something fun and summery!

These cookies are 100% AIP compliant but they taste like they came straight out of a bake shop. I think you’re going to love them!

 

Lemon Cake Cookies (Autoimmune Paleo)

Yield: Makes 24 cookies

Lemon Cake Cookies (Autoimmune Paleo)

These cakey lemon cookies use gelatin as an egg substitute. Because they are free of dairy, grains, refined sugar, nuts and seeds, these cookies are suitable for the autoimmune paleo protocol. But you wouldn't guess it!

Ingredients

    For the cookies
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour (find it here)
  • 1/3 cup arrowroot flour (find it here)
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric (for coloring)
  • 1/4 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup applesauce, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup coconut butter, softened (not coconut oil - find it here)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 gelatin egg substitute made with 1 Tbs. gelatin (See step four below.)
  • For the Icing
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot flour
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice

Instructions

  1. For the cookies Preheat oven to 325, and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In small bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: coconut flour, arrowroot flour, salt, cream of tartar, baking soda.
  3. In large mixing bowl or stand mixer, cream together the next six ingredients: applesauce, coconut butter, lemon zest, lemon juice, honey, coconut oil and vanilla.
  4. Prepare gelatin egg substitute: Whisk 1 tablespoon gelatin into 1 tablespoon lukewarm water. Add 2 tablespoons boiling water. Whisk vigorously until completely dissolved and frothy.
  5. Add gelatin egg substitute to stand mixer. Beat on medium to incorporate.
  6. Add dry ingredients to stand mixer, beating on medium until combined.
  7. Using a tablespoon, scoop out dough and drop onto cookie sheets. Flatten each cookie with bottom of cup to make 1 1/2-2" circles.
  8. Bake for 18-23 minutes, or until cookies are golden brown around edges and slightly firm to the touch. Cool completely on wire rack.
  9. For the icing Whisk all icing ingredients together. Drizzle over tops of cooled cookies.
  10. Store covered at room temp for soft cookies, or in the refrigerator for firmer cookies.
http://empoweredsustenance.com/paleo-lemon-cookies/

autoimmune paleo lemon cookies

About Bre’anna of He Won’t Know It’s Paleo

bephotoSMALLBre’anna is an AIP-recipe creator and blogger at He Won’t Know It’s Paleo. Her recipes are dedicated to her gluten-loving husband, Chris, who didn’t know he was eating paleo for the first six months she cooked that way. She considers it her biggest accomplishment in the kitchen when she won him over to her paleo – and then AIP foods! Her cookbook is due out this fall on Amazon. You can find Bre’anna on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

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What Does “Raw Honey” Really Mean? http://empoweredsustenance.com/raw-honey-definition/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/raw-honey-definition/#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 13:30:23 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=7479 Today’s post comes from Emi Higashiyama, who has worked at a honey farm and educates people on the many uses and health benefits of bee products.  What is the definition of raw honey? Just about every health blog and recipe calls for the use of “raw” honey, but there’s quite a bit of confusion about what that […]

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raw honey definition

Today’s post comes from Emi Higashiyama, who has worked at a honey farm and educates people on the many uses and health benefits of bee products. 

What is the definition of raw honey?

Just about every health blog and recipe calls for the use of “raw” honey, but there’s quite a bit of confusion about what that means. Is it made differently from non-raw honey? Do things go into it or come out of it to make it raw? The labels don’t help because they usually just say “raw” but don’t explain why the honey deserves to be called that. There are essentially just two factors that determine the rawness of honey: temperature and texture.

 How temperature determines raw honey

The technical definition of raw honey is very loose: it just means not heated past pasteurization. Great, now what does that mean? To understand that, it’s important to first understand what happens inside a beehive. When honeybees are at work, their collective body temperature rises and consequently warms their work area – that is, the honey. The temperature of an active hive, therefore, is about 95ºF (35ºC), and the honey is stable and “alive” – or rather, the enzymes in honey that give it the nutritional and beneficial qualities are alive. As long as the temperature of honey does not significantly rise past 95ºF/35ºC, the honey has not been pasteurized.

Many people misunderstand the concept of heating honey. There’s a myth that any heating whatsoever is harmful. But even the bees heat honey. During the dead of winter, honey can freeze inside the hive, and as clusters of bees move about their stock of food, they will reheat as necessary to feed off their comb. During the summer, the bees do not need to heat the honey, but the temperature is still about that 95ºF as long as they are working near the honey. The issue is that they heat the honey very gradually.

The irony is, people will insist the beekeeper not heat honey, but they’ll take it home and microwave it. This is called flash-heating, and this sudden (radioactive) heat destroys the enzymes and chemically changes the honey. It’s still sweet, but it’s now chemically more like a processed sweetener. In some cases, the taste may even be different. Even without any noticeable changes, the honey has lost all its nutritional value (and is no longer raw).

How texture determines raw honey

When people look for raw honey, they usually get the jar that looks very opaque, sometimes with black dots here or there. When they open the jar, they expect a near-solid chunk of gritty, pasty honey. What this really is ground up honeycomb, which potentially includes everything that could come out of a beehive: honey, beeswax, pollen, propolis, royal jelly, and yes, even bees. Those black dots? They may be connected to slivers of bee leg, which might connect to a joint. (Never fear, the bees are very sanitary – they won’t even go to the bathroom inside the hive – so ingesting bee parts is quite safe.)

honeycombMany people can’t handle this last revelation, and it’s a real internal battle for them to buy what they think is the best for them health-wise and what they’re actually going to be eating. But remember that “raw” has to do with temperature, not texture. Having said that, the additional “stuff” does have its own set of benefits, so it’s worth the money and effort (and bravery, now that the genuine unadulterated honey has been fully disclosed) to acquire the raw stuff. I just prefer to call it the really raw honey, or straight-out-of-the-hive honey, to distinguish it from the liquid raw “pure” honey.

An additional note about the really raw honey: the consistency will depend on when it was harvested – recently harvested will be creamier and more liquidy, the longer it sits it will be like well-frozen ice cream. The beeswax is the main culprit in this situation.

 Straining vs. filtering raw honey

When honey is harvested from the comb by centrifuge, it leaves behind the large chunks of beeswax. When the mostly-honey stuff is strained, little bits of beeswax are further removed. This process is called straining, and the resulting product is “pure honey”. That’s the clear, golden liquid that’s in squeeze bottles labeled “raw honey”. As long as this stuff hasn’t been heated past hive temperature, this pure honey is still raw (and much, much easier to work with in culinary settings).

There’s also another process that seems similar on the surface, but is actually very different and counterproductive to the healthfulness of honey: filtering. When straining honey, all it takes is a cheesecloth-type material to separate the beeswax chunks from the viscous honey. The pollen still goes through because it’s much finer than the mesh (and the pollen is desirable, it helps with the benefits-factor). But filtering removes significantly smaller particles, namely pollen, and the honey is that much further removed from its raw status.

A specific kind of filtering, pressure-filtering, is for large-scale operations that bottle honey as if it were bottling soda. We’re talking mega-machines that super-speedily shoots honey into their for-sale containers. The problem with this process is that to make the honey easier to work with, the temperature is also usually quite high – the higher the temperature, the more liquid the honey – which means it’s practically guaranteed that not only has the honey been pasteurized, it’s also missing all the elements that make it actual honey.

Raw Honey vs. Organic Honey

Some people think raw honey is the same as organic honey, but it’s not. “Organic honey” is when the flowers that the bees get the nectar from has not been sprayed with chemicals. Simple, right? As long as beekeepers control where the bees go, they’ll know that they’re getting honey from organic flowers. Except it’s impossible to always know where bees go because they usually fly up to 2 miles (5 km) to look for flowers that are producing enough nectar for harvesting. If they need to, they can fly up to 5 miles (8 km). So that means some quality assurance inspector needs to know for sure that all the flowers for a 2- to 5-mile radius all around the beehive are indeed organic.

A side note here to talk about Africanized bees: they’re gaining a lot of attention in the media because of how aggressive they are. In Africa, if they needed to, they can fly up to 80 miles to look for a floral source, which proves that the distance bees fly is relative to their needs. Therefore it’s really difficult to know exactly where they go. That’s why using “organic” to describe honey is really not a measurable thing.

There are some farmers who will unabashedly market their honey as being organic. They may not necessarily be liars, they may just be extremely hopeful and confident that they know where their bees are going. But the only way to really guarantee and control which flowers the bees visit is to screen everything in, like butterfly sanctuaries, so they don’t fly past their invisible leash. But who would go through all that trouble for honeybees? It’s hard enough just to keep them alive these days.

Befriending a beekeeper

Does knowing a beekeeper help in identifying raw honey? Yes, but in the sense that at some point, it’s necessary to trust somebody about the rawness of honey. Keep in mind that most beekeepers, unless they’re keeping hundreds of hives, are also buying in some of the honey that they’re selling. It’s standard practice to buy-and-sell and barter because there are so many different types of honey out there. In the US alone, it’s possible to harvest about 300 varieties of honey (that’s another article). Rather than worrying about where the beekeepers get their honey, it’s quite telling how they answer some questions: 

Q: How high of a temperature do you heat the honey?

A: Uh… I don’t know. (Red flag!)

Q: Is the honey organic?

A: Absolutely! (Red flag!)

Q: Are there bee bits in the honey?

A: No! Everything is filtered out. (Everything?? Red flag!)

The real question is if there’s a way to establish some sort of a relationship with beekeepers and see how willing they are to share their processes of harvesting and bottling. If they’re completely unwilling, that’s fine, maybe they have some trade secrets that they don’t want to be copied. That’s understandable and perfectly reasonable. But that also means their customers are in the dark about what they’re really buying and eating. And that’s the underlying problem: people are too far removed from their food source. That’s why an entire industry can call something “raw”… and how everybody can know they need it without knowing what that means.

Where can I find varieties of raw honey?

Curious to see all the possibilities of raw honey? Summer is here, which means it’s fair season (at least for those living in the US, possibly elsewhere), and many state fairs will hold contests for beekeepers to show their best products. This is a particularly good time to meet and greet beekeepers, talk to them about their processes, and see all the forms of honey (really raw, raw-pure, comb, etc.). They will most likely be in the state beekeepers’ association, which often hosts classes and events that can be very enlightening about anything related to honeybees.

Another option is to visit farmers’ markets that have honey booths. Farmers’ markets usually have rules about the distance and origin of its products, which means beekeepers should be that much more accessible. Yet another option is to visit www.honey.com (the US National Honey Board), which is a great source of information to track down beekeepers who harvest and bottle their own honey, as well as information on honey itself.

With so many forms of raw honey out there, it really is up to the individual how and what to acquire (based on consumption preferences). Just don’t buy the mass-market honey (from huge companies, they most likely flash-heat and micro-filter during bottling) or labels that say “Grade A” (there’s no such thing).

About Emi Higashiyama

emi headshotEmi Higashiyama is a globetrotting freelancer – some of those freelancing activities include writing, sort-of beekeeping, and classical harp performance. She blogs over at aiparoundworld.blogspot.com, helping non-US residents source autoimmune protocol-friendly ingredients and supplies.

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Natural Sleep Remedies to Fall Asleep and Stay Asleep http://empoweredsustenance.com/natural-sleep-remedies/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/natural-sleep-remedies/#comments Thu, 10 Jul 2014 14:36:58 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=7431 In the next few months, I will discuss a variety of factors in healthy sleep. Today’s post from Jodi Cohen, founder of Vibrant Blue Oils, discusses some of the reasons why truly restful sleep escapes you and how to use natural solutions like essential oils to address the root problems. Vibrant Blue Oils are proprietary blends of therapeutic-grade […]

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natural sleep remedies with essential oils

In the next few months, I will discuss a variety of factors in healthy sleep. Today’s post from Jodi Cohen, founder of Vibrant Blue Oils, discusses some of the reasons why truly restful sleep escapes you and how to use natural solutions like essential oils to address the root problems. Vibrant Blue Oils are proprietary blends of therapeutic-grade essential oils developed in a clinical setting, and you can learn more about Vibrant Blue Oils in my review here. I’ve seen remarkable changes in my heath due to VBO and I can’t recommend them highly enough. 

Natural Sleep Remedies with Essential Oils

Restful sleep, defined as the ability to both fall asleep and stay asleep, is critical for vibrant health.  It allows time for the body to rest and repair, detoxify, balance blood sugar levels and reset our energy reserves.  Without restful sleep, we feel fatigued and our body compensates with cortisol spikes, sugar cravings and other tricks to keep us awake and functioning.

The most common sleep remedy is to tranquilize the body with everything from over the counter drugs like cough syrup and pain medication to intensive prescription drugs.  While tranquilizing the body can help in the short term, in order to really solve sleep challenges, you need to look at the underlying issues, which can range from low levels of melatonin in the system which can make it challenging to fall asleep to blood sugar and hormonal challenges or an overload of the detoxification organs, such as the liver and gall bladder, which can contribute to night-time waking.

Fortunately, sleep issues lend themselves especially well to essential oil support. I have attempted to help you isolate your individual sleep issue below.  If you want to learn more about your specific sleep issues and what oils might be the best for you, you can take our personalized online sleep assessment here.

Why You Can’t Fall Asleep

 If you struggle to fall asleep or experience racing thoughts or worries while lying in bed, your body’s natural sleep and wake cycles, known as the circadian rhythms, might be a little out of balance.

natural sleep remedies with essential oils

As you may know, the stress hormone, cortisol, is released by the adrenal glands. The sleep hormone, melatonin, is released by the pineal gland, a small pine cone shaped endocrine gland located near the center of the brain.

Our cortisol rhythms are supposed to be highest in the morning and then wane as the day wears on.  When people are active at night and slow in the morning, the cortisol patterns are reversed.  This throws off the circadian rhythm because cortisol and melatonin have an antagonistic relationship. Elevated cortisol levels at night actually turn off melatonin production.  Similarly, if melatonin is elevated then cortisol is depressed.

It might help to think of a teeter totter.  When the stress hormone (cortisol) is high, it forces the sleep hormone (melatonin) to be low.  People often supplement with the melatonin hormone, which can help in the short term.  The challenge here is that the body, specifically the pineal gland, is supposed to make its own melatonin and external supplementation of the hormone sends the signal to the body that it is sufficient in melatonin production and actually reduces the body’s own production of the hormone.

Another option is to balance the pineal gland return to its innate intelligence and release more melatonin naturally, which we are doing by applying Vibrant Blue Oils Pineal Rhythm blend to specific locations on the head (top of the skull and on the skull right above the ears).  This method emulates the innate intelligence of the body and has been extremely effective for those suffering from sleep issues and anxiety.

If you again think of the teeter totter example, when melatonin then increases (goes up), it forces cortisol levels down, effectively serving as a back door to lowering stress, anxiety and the racing thoughts that keep many of us wide awake when our bodies are exhausted and longing for sleep.

An imbalance in the circadian rhythm can present with indicators such as:

  • Inability to fall asleep
  • Inability to stay asleep
  • Difficulty waking up in the morning
  • Not feeling well after sleep
  • Not recovering from physical activity
  • Drop of energy between 4 and 7
  • Headache only during the day

Natural Sleep Remedies to Fall Asleep

  • Avoid artificial light and electronics such as television, computers and phones before bed
  • Try taking a warm shower or a hot bath with 2 cups Epsom salt, 1 cup baking soda and a few drops of lavender oil. The magnesium in the epsom salt is absorbed through the skin and has a relaxing effect on the nervous system.
  • Try a relaxing yoga pose, like putting your legs up the wall while practicing deep breathing. This can help the body shift into the parasympathetic mode, the “rest and digest” mode of the nervous system.
  • Vibrant Blue Oils Pineal Rhythms blend works well for people who struggle to fall asleep at night due to high stress or racing thoughts.  Restful sleep is a critical component to healing.  When the circadian rhythms flow smoothly, the body heals more easily.
  • Vibrant Blue Oils Sleep blend and Calm blend work well to calm the body and the mind before bed.

 Why you can’t stay asleep

Nighttime waking, awakening shortly after falling asleep or waking up throughout the night, can often be attributed to:

  1. Blood Sugar issues, when you wake up and feel so wide awake that you could go clean the kitchen.
  2. Liver and Gall Bladder overload when you wake up between 1 a.m. – 3 a.m. but are still groggy enough to fall back to sleep.
  3. Hormonal Issues that can lead to disrupted sleep

Natural sleep remedies to stay asleep

Blood Sugar:  Sudden drops in blood sugar during the sleep cycle can cause the body to release cortisol (a stress hormone) that in turn wakes us up and makes us feel wide awake.  For night-time waking due to blood sugar issues, consider:

  • Include high quality fats at dinner or eat a snack high in fat like coconut butter or nut butter before bed to help manage blood sugar levels throughout the sleep cycle
  • Avoid simple sugars such as desserts, alcohol, and bread before bedtime.
  • Try a couple of Lauren’s blood-sugar-balancing Buttermints – recipe here – before bed

Oils that will help balance blood sugar include:

  • Vibrant Blue Oils Pancreatone blend can help with night time waking, especially when you wake up and feel so wide awake that you could go clean the kitchen.  Waking during the night and feeling wide awake can suggest blood sugar issues for which the pancreas is a key organ.  Just smelling the pancreatone oil can help balance the pancreas enough to allow the body to naturally fall back asleep.
  • Vibrant Blue Oils Pineal Rhythms blend puts the circadian rhythms in balance and as a result help to balance the adrenal glands which are a critical organ in blood sugar management.
  • Vibrant Blue Oils Adrenal Balance blend  helps to balance the adrenals, the organ that releases cortisol, thus reducing the intensity of cortisol spikes during both waking and night time hours. (Note from Lauren: I swear by the Adrenal Balance oil! It has been one of the most effective solutions in addressing the chronic fatigue that lingered even after my dietary changes.)
  • Vibrant Blue Oils Parasympathetic blend helps to put the body in the parasympathetic rest and digest state that is helpful both for optimal digestion and relaxing for sleep.
  • Vibrant Blue Oils Hypothalamus blend balances and supports the hypothalamus which is the control center in the brain for the entire endocrine system, including all your hormones and your adrenals .

Liver and Gall Bladder:  According to Chinese Medicine, each organ has a time of the day/night where it does its thing, and waking between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. is “liver time”.  This often reflects an overload in body’s ability to detoxify from toxins or emotions like anger, frustration or resentment. For night-time waking due to liver issues, consider:

  • Increasing your consumption of healthful fats, such as coconut oil, ghee, and pastured eggs
  • Castor oil packs
  • Epsom salt bathes with a few drops of Parasympathetic oil.  The clove oil in the parasympathetic blend helps to pull toxins out of the skin, so the liver and kidney do not need to work as hard

Oils that will help the liver and gall bladder include:

  • Vibrant Blue Oils Liver Vitality might be helpful if you are considering a cleanse or are often sensitive to smells (smoke, perfume, etc) and or chemicals, easily intoxicated or hung over.
  • Liver Support can support the release of emotions related to the liver, including the feelings of frequent irritation, impatience, resentment or frustration, if you’re critical of yourself or others, if you have control issues, an inability to express your feelings in a grounded/balanced way, a lack of joy, feelings of not feeling heard, not feeling loved, not being recognized or appreciated or any issues with denial such as an inability to be honest with yourself and others.
  • Gall Bladder FlowThe Gall Bladder concentrates the bile to help break down fat and carry toxins out of the body.  If the bile becomes too thick, it doesn’t flow as well and toxins don’t move out of the system as efficiently.  Some indicators that Gall Bladder Flow might be a helpful blend for you would be motion sickness, floating stools, avoiding fatty food like meat or if you do eating fatty food, needing to use the restroom shortly after, pain between shoulder blades, subtle headache above eyes.

Hormonal Issues:  Hormonal ups and downs from menstruation, pregnancy, and midlife fluctuations can impact sleep.  For example, the hormone progesterone promotes restful sleep and a drop in estrogen can leave you more vulnerable to stress. Similar to blood sugar events, hot flashes are also caused by a rush of cortisol that alerts your mind and wakes you up.  For night-time waking due to hormonal issues, consider:

  • Using the steps discussed above to support balanced blood sugar, which goes hand-in-hand with hormone balance
  • Decreasing the omega-6 fatty acids in your diet, since too much omega-6 inflames the body and disrupts hormones. Omega-6 fatty acids are highly concentrated in vegetable oils and meat/eggs from animals at factory farms.

Oils that will help the liver and gall bladder include:

  • Vibrant Blue Oils Hypothalamus supports the pearl size region of the brain located just above the brainstem known as the hypothalamus to send and receive the clear messages from the body necessary to facilitate appropriate hormonal responses.
  • Vibrant Blue Oils Pineal Rhythms blend works well for people who struggle to fall asleep at night due to high stress or racing thoughts.  It supports a regular circadian rhythm.
  • Excess estrogen can make the bile from the Gall Bladder too thick and less able to efficiently detoxify excess hormones.  Gall Bladder Flow helps mobilize the toxins out of the body.

About Jodi Cohen

jodi cohen 2Jodi Cohen, founder of Vibrant Blue Oils, is a Certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, yoga enthusiast and busy mom of two children, aged 8 and 10.  Her journey to understanding natural remedies for sleep was sparked by her own sleep issues and her daughter’s intense anxiety.  After a year and a half of trying everything she could think of to help her anxious child, the pineal rhythm oil (described below) alleviated all symptoms within a week.  She firmly believes that sleep is the cornerstone for most health issues and once sleep issues are resolved, other issues are easier to tackle.

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Choosing Food-Based vs. Synthetic Supplements http://empoweredsustenance.com/food-based-synthetic-supplements/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/food-based-synthetic-supplements/#comments Tue, 08 Jul 2014 14:05:55 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=7419 Today’s post comes from Kristin Savory, a licensed acupuncturist who specializes in women’s hormone and thyroid imbalances. After years of working with various supplements, she switched to food-based supplements in her practice with excellent results.  Are your supplements synthetic? If you’re into health then you’ve probably been known to cruise the supplement section of your local […]

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synthetic supplements vs. food-based supplements

Today’s post comes from Kristin Savory, a licensed acupuncturist who specializes in women’s hormone and thyroid imbalances. After years of working with various supplements, she switched to food-based supplements in her practice with excellent results. 

Are your supplements synthetic?

If you’re into health then you’ve probably been known to cruise the supplement section of your local health food store from time to time. Maybe you’re even taking supplements recommended from your health care practitioner.

Over and over, we’ve been told that we need to take supplements because our diets are lacking vital nutrients.

But what’s really going on in those supplement bottles?

We don’t hear much discussion about synthetic supplements. Even as a health care professional, I assumed the nutrients in the high-end brand of supplements I was taking—and selling to patients—were extracted from a natural source. The Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) I was taking must have been from oranges or some other food, so that it was in a form my body could easily absorb.

Boy, was I wrong.

Whole Food vs. Synthetic Supplements

There’s a big difference between nutrients from whole foods and the nutrient ingredients used in the vast majority of supplements. After all, supplements are a billion- dollar industry aimed at maximizing profit. With modern day marketing, many popular supplement recommendations, from the necessity of a daily multi to high-dose vitamin D, are being sold to us.

Take a carrot for instance.

Carrots are loaded with nutrients. Bigwigs like beta-carotene (a precursor to vitamin A) and ascorbic acid (vitamin C), as well as lesser-known players like folicin and mannose. In fact, scientists have isolated about 200 nutrients and phytonutrients in the humble carrot.

These 200 nutrients work together in mysterious ways. The little guys help get the big guys and vice versa, There are enzymes, coenzymes, co-vitamins , minerals, and other factors that help the nutrients work together synergistically.

Scientists don’t know how all this works, and they probably never will. It’s the magic and mystery of nature.

Take a look at the standard multi-vitamin label. We’re content when we see 20 ingredients listed in high percentages. Now think about that carrot again. There’s over 200 known nutrients in that carrot. Foods are complex in their nutrients because nutrients need each other to be properly absorbed and integrated into our bodies.

In our culture, we’re used to the idea that “more is better.” If beta-carotene is good for the eyes, then a whole bunch of beta-carotene must be really good for the eyes.

This type of thinking is not how Mother Nature works when it comes to nutrition. 

Foods are balanced. Foods are loaded with lots of nutrients but never in megadose quantities. You’d be hard-pressed to find a food with 1,000 mg of ascorbic acid, let alone the 5,000 mg–10,000mg doses often sold at stores or from health care professionals.

Whole-food whiz Judith DeCava, CNC, LNC writes in her book The Real Truth About Vitamins and Antioxidants:

Natural food concentrates will show a much lower potency in milligrams or micrograms. This is frequently interpreted to mean they are less effective, not as powerful. Unfortunately, the `more is better’ philosophy is far from nutritional truth.

And this:

Vitamins are part of food complexes and must be associated with their natural synergists (co-workers) to be properly utilized and be a potent nutritional factor. In other words, a minute amount of a vitamin that is left intact in its whole food form is tremendously more functional, powerful, and effective nutritionally than a large amount of a chemically pure, vitamin fraction.

In the case of nutrition, “more” definitely isn’t better.

So where are supplement manufacturers getting the nutrients to make their pills?

Most of what’s being sold to us (even the supps with the healthy folks and rainbows on the label) are chemicals, repackaged in creative ways.

Most supplements contain mega-dose vitamin isolates without their little guy partners, also known as vitamin fractions. Others are simply chemical compounds made in factories, also known as pure, crystalline vitamins.

Both are synthetic and both are a detrimental to long-term health because they’re man-made, not nature-made.

Mother Nature knows best. Nutrients need each other to work effectively in our bodies. The big guys need the little guys just as much as the little guys need the big guys.

When we take supplements in high doses or in isolation from their natural counterparts, there will be consequences. Initially, our bodies might do well with these synthetics because of our extreme deficiencies. But over the course of time, synthetic vitamins can create even deeper deficiencies.

Quality Over Quantity

synthetic supplements vs. food based supplementsDeCava notes that synthetic Thiamine (B1: a common chemical ingredient of most standard multivitamins) “will initially allay fatigue but will eventually cause fatigue by the build-up of pyruvic acid. This leads to the vicious cycle of thinking more and more Thiamine is needed, resulting in more and more fatigue along with other accumulated complaints.”

But perhaps this story of a medical doctor held captive during the Korean War [1950-1953] is the most telling example.

After a period of time with a poor diet, his fellow prisoners of war began to show signs of beriberi, a disease that results from a severe thiamine deficiency.

After contacting the Red Cross, they sent him some vitamin B1 in the synthetic form, Thiamine HCL. What happened to his patients with the pure-crystalline fraction? They continued to decline.

In fact, the plague worsened until that same doctor listened to a couple of guards who told him that rice polish(known today as rice bran)could be used to alleviate the symptoms. The doc started feeding his patients the rice polish one teaspoon at a time. Within a short period, his patients’ improved and the beriberi plague ceased.

Bottom line is that nature’s nutrients are packaged to perfection. A simple teaspoon of rice polish outperformed a high-dosage, synthetic compound.

How to determine if your supplements are synthetic or food-based

Does this mean we have to throw out our supplements altogether? Not so fast.

First we need to know the difference between whole-food concentrates and synthetic supplements. It’s all in the label.

Read the ingredients. The ingredients tell it all. If a nutrient is listed as a food like liver, a glandular, an herb, fish oil, pea vine, or alfalfa, you’re good to go. If there are chemical names like niacin, thiamine, or tocopherols, you’ve got a synthetic on your hand.

In nature, B vitamins come from the likes of nutritional yeast and liver, not niacin or thiamin. Vitamin C comes from green leafy vegetables, citrus, and buckwheat juice, not ascorbic acid. You’ll find vitamin E in wheat germ oil and pea vine, not in tocopherols.

Look at the DV percentage. The percentage of Daily Value is based on chemically pure vitamin fractions. If the nutrient on the label is listed at 100% or more, you’ve likely got a synthetic product on your hands. Remember, nature is low dose but highly potent.

Beware of singular vitamins. Mother Nature works in tandem. Her nutrients are never found alone. If you’re taking a supplement all by itself, such as vitamin E or D, it’s guaranteed to be synthetic.

Don’t buy the hype. The supplement industry is an industry just like anything else. Major supplement manufacturers often sponsor studies and/or donate money to research programs at universities likely having some influence on both the study design and the results and conclusions reached.

The simple truth is that profit margins are much higher when manufacturers replicate standardized compounds rather than go through the careful, labor-intensive, more expensive process of compounding whole foods.

When it comes to supplements, it’s safer to stick with intuition and follow Hippocrates’ advice: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

As always, it’s great to hear from you in the comment section. I wonder, what’s your experience with supplementation? Tell me, have you had great success taking a supplement or have you noticed your health starting to slide?

Note from Lauren: I put together the below list, which shows examples of  foods and food-based supplements that will deliver vitamins A, B, C, D, E and K. 

Vitamin A – Interestingly, you won’t get vitamin A from carrots or sweet potatoes, since the conversion of beta carotene to the useable form of vitamin A is virtually insignificant (learn more). Grassfed/pastured liver is the best source of bioavaiable vitamin A, and an easy way to get a daily dose of liver is through desiccated liver capsules, found here, or Homemade Liver Pills, recipe here. Fermented cod liver oil (this one)  also provides a potent dose of vitamin A with its cofactors. Pastured egg yolks also contain some true vitamin A. 

B vitaminsGrassfed liver, pastured egg yolks and pastured red meat provides an excellent source of a range of B vitamins. Standard Process, a food-based supplement line available through certain health care providers (such as many naturopaths) also carries a great food-based B vitamin supplement. 

Vitamin C – Citrus fruits, berries and tropical fruits are an excellent source of this vitamin. Interestingly, potatoes are also high in C, if you eat the skin! Camu camu powder, acerola powder and rosehip powder – such as these options - provides a powerful punch of whole-food vitamin c. Add half to a full teaspoon to your daily smoothie.

Vitamin D - Cod liver oil, a time-honored superfood, is a rich source of fat-soluble vitamin D with the necessary co-factors. Lard and wild salmon are also rich in vitamin D with its cofactors. Egg yolks from pastured chickens are another good source. 

Vitamin E – Get this essential antioxidant vitamin though sunflower seeds, pastured eggs, almonds, avocado and leafy greens. As a fat-soluble vitamin, it requires fat to be utilized in the body. So add a dollop of ghee or butter to your steamed spinach to aid vitamin E absorption.

Vitamin K – There are three types of vitamin K: K1, K2 and K3. K3 is synthetic, and should be avoided. K1 is found in leafy greens and cruciferous veggies. k2, the most important and potent type of vitamin K, is found only from animal sources with the exception of natto (a sticky fermented soy product). You’ll get K2 by consuming dairy from grassfed ruminants, eggs, liver, beef and chicken.

  About Kristin Savory

kristen bio picKristin Savory, LAc, helps women heal their thyroids and balance their hormones so they can live their most vibrant lives. She does this naturally through acupuncture and the wisdom of whole-food nutrition. Hop on her newsletter by clicking here and find delicious Recipes to Heal Your Thyroid and learn the first steps towards Balancing Your Hormones Naturally at www.kristinsavory.com

 

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Paleo Batch Cooking: How I Make 12+ Meals in 2 Hours http://empoweredsustenance.com/paleo-batch-cooking/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/paleo-batch-cooking/#comments Sun, 06 Jul 2014 20:28:20 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=7409 What is my Paleo batch cooking routine? I’m frequently asked by readers for healthy cooking tips for a busy lifestyle. Cooking nourishing food from scratch is a top priority in my life, since I use the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol to manage my autoimmune disease. That means I prepare 100% of my food at home, but I […]

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paleo batch cooking game-plan for just two hours of work

What is my Paleo batch cooking routine?

I’m frequently asked by readers for healthy cooking tips for a busy lifestyle. Cooking nourishing food from scratch is a top priority in my life, since I use the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol to manage my autoimmune disease. That means I prepare 100% of my food at home, but I have to do it in a way that minimizes preparation time so I have enough time for the rest of my life. The solution for me? Paleo batch cooking.  

Fresh, seasonal and local when possible

I tailor my meals to what is in season, however sometimes I rely on certain frozen veggies as staples. Seasonal eating has it’s virtues, but when you’re following a highly restricted diet like the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol (is anyone raising their hand with me?), then seasonality is not always possible.

Those of you who are familiar with my cooking philosophy will probably guess that I source what I can locally from organic/biodynamic farmers, farmer’s markets, my CSA, and my organic food coop. This is something about which I’m enthusiastic, and even though I’m on a budget, sourcing these ingredients is a priority for me. I always encourage others to do the same, buying local when they possible. The most important things to get organic are the Dirty Dozen produce. I also strongly, strongly recommend purchasing your protein sources like eggs, beef, chicken and fish from pastured/grassfed/wild caught animals.

My typical Paleo Batch Cooking Session

Paleo Batch Cooking Shopping List 

  • Numerous bunches of seasonal leafy greens such as chard, mustard greens, dandelion greens, collards, kale and beet greens. I often mix-and-match - for example, I’ll tame the sharper flavor of mustard greens with mild chard. If fresh greens aren’t available, I’ll use frozen spinach or kale.
  • Root vegetables, usually beets (kill two birds with one stone and save the beet greens!). Also carrots, rutabaga, turnips, celeriac or parsnips
  • Sweet potatoes – my primary source of starch, I enjoy using different varieties of sweet potatoes. My favorite are japanese sweet potatoes, which are sweet and creamy
  • Fresh or frozen broccoli or cauliflower – Often, I rely on organic frozen cauliflower or organic frozen broccoli because of the convenience factor. Sometimes, I’ll use fresh/frozen green beans instead.
  • 1 (or 2) pastured chickens
  • 1 (or 2) pounds of grassfed ground beef
  • Sometimes I’ll cook wild Alaskan salmon, pastured liver or alternative protein instead of the chicken or beef
  • Condiment ingredients like fresh herbs, avocado, lemon, limes, coconut oil, etc.

paleo batch cooking game-plan for just two hours of work

1. Get ready

I set aside about 2 hours to knock out a significant portion of my cooking for the week. First and foremost, I have a snack or meal prior to getting started. You do not want low-blood-sugar-induced irritability for your batch cooking session!

Next, I get the counters cleared off and make sure my cooking utensils and materials are on-hand.

Then I turn on Pandora – my favorite channel right now is broadway songs – and I’m ready to roll :-)

2. Start chicken and beef

I preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, I place the chicken(s) in a baking dish and surround them with large pieces of carrots, parsnips, rutabaga, other root veggies or a combination.  As far as seasoning, I just sprinkle on some salt and whatever dried herbs I have on hand and call it a day. I bake the chicken and veggies for 45-60 minutes.

To make meatballs, I throw the beef directly into a baking dish (to save dirtying a bowl) and add salt and dried herbs. The mix with my hands, roll into meatballs and pop into the oven. They cook for about 30 minutes, until done.

For variation, I’ll bake wild salmon fillets or another type of wild fish. Sometimes I use ground organic turkey in place of the beef.

paleo batch cooking game-plan for just two hours of work3. Make chicken broth

After removing the cooked chicken from the carcass, I place the carcass into crockpot and cover with water. I add 1 Tbs. of apple cider vinegar, which helps pull beneficial minerals into the broth. I cook on LOW for 24-48 hours before straining, cooling and storing in jars in the fridge. (Alternatively, freeze the broth if you won’t use it within 4 days.

4. Prepare leafy greens

While the protein is baking, I steam my leafy greens. Do not combine collards or kale with softer greens such as chard/mustard greens/beet greens/dandelion greens. The “softer” greens steam only for a few minutes. The collards or kale need to simmer with broth or water for 30 minutes or more. Here are directions for cooking collards and kale.

One done, I drain the greens and often I’ll puree them with a knob of ghee, a splash of apple cider vinegar and salt. You could add coconut milk/cream for creamed greens, too.

 5. Bake the root vegetables and sweet potatoes

After the chicken and beef are out of the oven, I increase the oven temp to 450. I use my method for baking the perfect sweet potatoes here. Along with the sweet potatoes, I’ll throw the beets into the oven. First, I wrap them in a layer of parchment paper then a layer of foil.

After an hour, the beets and sweet potatoes are usually done. Turn off the oven as directed in the roasted sweet potato recipe and leave the beets and potatoes in there for at least 30 minutes.

Remove the peels from the sweet potatoes and beets. I mash up the sweet potatoes with cinnamon and coconut butter (this stuff, not to be confused with coconut oil) before storing in the fridge.

After peeling the beets, I coarsely chop them, add a splash of apple cider vinegar, a dash of salt, and bit of freshly grated ginger. This beet-ginger salad deepens in flavor after a day or more in the fridge.

6. Cook the broccoli or cauliflower

You may be familiar with Mashed Faux-Tatoes, which is mashed cauliflower that looks and tastes like the “real thing.” I’d like to introduce you to the green version of Faux-Tatoes: broccoli pureé! The name may sound cringe-worthy, but the dish is vaguely similar to mashed potatoes in constancy and boasts a very mild flavor.

I steam the broccoli/cauliflower until tender, drain and pureé with ghee, salt, and organic garlic powder. Doctor it up with whatever herbs or seasonings you have on hand.

 7. Fridge is filled with meals!

With about 2 hours in the kitchen, I’ve filled my fridge with vegetables, proteins, paleo-friendly carbs, and chicken broth that usually lasts me for 4 days of breakfast, lunch and dinner – that’s at least 12 meals! Cooking and eating this way allows me to address my chronic health issues without medication while still enjoying time for blogging, school and the rest of life.

Do you do batch cooking sessions? What do you cook – any similar ingredients as me? 

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Melatonin Isn’t a Sleeping Pill: 3 Reasons to Avoid Melatonin http://empoweredsustenance.com/melatonin-is-bad-for-you/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/melatonin-is-bad-for-you/#comments Mon, 30 Jun 2014 13:48:51 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=7342 “Melatonin is not a sleeping pill” That’s what Dr. Michael Breus, “The Sleep Doctor,” tells patents who inquire about this popular supplement. Like me and many other practitioners who have researched this supplement, Dr. Breus believes melatonin is a bad answer to insomnia. Dr. Breus, who was featured on the Dr. Oz show to discuss […]

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Why melatonin is bad for you + better alternatives

“Melatonin is not a sleeping pill”

That’s what Dr. Michael Breus, “The Sleep Doctor,” tells patents who inquire about this popular supplement. Like me and many other practitioners who have researched this supplement, Dr. Breus believes melatonin is a bad answer to insomnia.

Dr. Breus, who was featured on the Dr. Oz show to discuss the problems with melatonin, explains,

This is the really important thing you should understand about melatonin: Melatonin is a sleep and body clock regulator – NOT a sleep initiator. Melatonin works with your biological clock by telling your brain when it is time to sleep. Melatonin does not increase your sleep drive or need for sleep. (Read more)

Why melatonin is bad for you?

“If it’s all natural, why is melatonin bad for you?” my mom asked, when I expressed my concern with this supplement after learning that she takes it on-and-off for her insomnia. “Boy, have I got a blog post for you!” I replied.

In short, melatonin is a hormone that correlates with sleep cycles and plays beneficial roles in numerous physiological functions. But melatonin supplements are neither a safe, natural nor effective solution to insomnia.

1. Melatonin supplements are hormone therapy

Are you taking melatonin? Then you are using hormone therapy. Hormone therapy is a very complicated topic ripe with detrimental health consequences when used carelessly. Often, hormone therapy is the “easy answer” to hormone imbalance and so the layperson, under the guidance of a practitioner or not, will reach for this answer. One common example of hormone therapy is progesterone cream. Melatonin is another.

The popularity of melatonin greatly worries me because hormone therapy should be approached with due caution, wisdom and knowledge. The practitioners whom I most respect use hormone therapy with the most extreme reservation, always preferring to use diet/lifestyle/supplement changes before using hormone therapy only when necessary as a last resort. Why? More often than not, including the case of melatonin, hormone therapy can do more harm than good. 

This is the analogy I use when explaining the potential consequences of hormone therapy:

Most of the hormones in the body are governed by negative feedback, which works like your household thermostat. Say you set your thermostat to 72 degrees and the room temperature is 69 degrees. The heater kicks in to warm the room up.  When the temperature reaches 72 degrees, the heat shuts off until the temperature drops again.

Administering hormones can actually shut off our body’s hormonal negative feedback loop. It’s like heating a room by a space heater and the furnace shuts off because it isn’t needed.

In this case, the “furnace shutting off” translates to the hypothalamus-pituitary connection becoming dysfunctional. When communication between the hypothalamus and pituitary – the master hormone-regulation center in the body – becomes compromised, it leads to many other hormone imbalances.

2. Melatonin is not a “sleep hormone”

While healthy levels of melatonin are key for optimal health, more melatonin doesn’t necessarily translate to better sleep. Why?

Insomnia is not caused by melatonin deficiency, and melatonin is not a sleep hormone. Actually, melatonin has very little to do with falling asleep. Melatonin is produced in the presence of darkness and it just happens to correlate with sleep cycles.

Emily from Butter Believer has done her research on melatonin and here’s what she found:

In spite of all the hype, very little scientific research has been done on melatonin supplements. And in fact, the limited evidence to support it as a sleep aid has indicated that it may only be useful in remedying jet lag and may help to induce sleep in the elderly—and again, these studies are often biased and paid for by the industry itself. They also were found to have used healthy sleepers as subjects, not people who have insomnia. And the results were very inconsistent.

There simple is no solid scientific evidence to support melatonin’s effectiveness for treating insomnia in young and middle-aged adults. NONE! And there have been several studies which actually concluded that melatonin definitively does not significantly improve total sleep time, nor reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. It has therefore been proven completely ineffective in treating insomnia. (Read more)

This makes sense, since melatonin is not a sleep hormone. It is a hormone with a wide range of physiological functions. Like I said, by playing a role in regulating our circadian rhythm, melatonin does tie into sleep patterns. But it does not induce sleep.

“But melatonin makes me sleepy!” many people say. Melatonin does induce a drowsy stupor because it is a stress hormone. This is misinterpreted as sleepiness. Remember, stress hormones are necessary and beneficial in the body in proper amounts (think cortisol), but excess stress hormones stress out the body .

3. More melatonin is not better

Why melatonin is bad for you + better alternativesToo little melatonin is bad for you. And too much melatonin is a bad for you. Popping a melatonin pill (or two) is the easiest way to overload your body with this hormone.

Research is now revealing that our production of melatonin not only governs our circadian rhythms, but plays a role in scavenging free radicals and supporting the immune system. We know that melatonin is crucial to health, but flooding your system with melatonin doesn’t automatically mean less free radicals and a better immune system. It’s all about melatonin balance.

Side effects of melatonin supplementation are relatively common and highly problematic. According to Dr. Breus, melatonin side effects include:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Next-day grogginess
  • Hormone fluctuations
  • Vivid dreams and nightmares (Source)

Is jet leg an exception?

While I do not recommend ever taking melatonin to induce sleep, I think using a melatonin supplement for jet lag is a grey area. Jet lag is an extremely stressful situation from a physiological perspective, and should be minimized or avoided whenever possible. Taking a melatonin supplement the first night of your arrival in a new time zone might help your body shift its circadian rhythms. However, I would never personally take melatonin for jet lag due to the problematic aspects discussed here.

There are better ways to solve insomnia!

Many people try melatonin because they feel desperate for  a good nights sleep. Skip the melatonin and try these truly natural and effective solutions for insomnia:

  • Keep a strict sleep routine . Set a regular bedtime and wake-up time and stick to it, even on weekends. The time period between 10pm and 12pm is a key period for the body’s repair processes according to many naturopaths and Chinese medicine practitioners, so aim to be in bed before 10.
  • Get exposure to sunlight – natural or artificial – immediately upon waking. In the morning as soon as you get out of bed, open your drapes and soak in the sunlight for a few moments. This immediately drops your melatonin levels, which will balance your circadian rhythm. If you don’t have access to bright natural  light in the morning, something to consider is using a Happy Light, such as this one, for a minute or two.
  • Minimize blue light exposure after sunset. Blue light is emitted from screens (your phone, tablet, laptop, TV, etc.) and tricks your body into thinking that it is daytime. The body interprets blue light as daylight, and constant exposure after sunset is physiologically stressful. Install F.lux, a free program that eliminates the blue light from your phone/computer after sunset. Also, use orange-tinted glasses (these ones) to filter out blue light if you watch TV before bed.
  • Balance your blood sugar. Balanced blood sugar is absolutely vital to falling asleep and staying asleep. It’s too complex to discuss in a few sentences, so please read my post 10 Ways to Balance Blood Sugar Naturally.
  • Invest in a better mattress. You will spend 1/3 of your life on your mattress, so a proper mattress is an extremely important investment in your whole health. About six months ago, I began researching the toxicity of conventional mattresses and, once learning that the flame retardants used on them are linked to endocrine imbalances and brain damage, I embarked on a journey to find a non-toxic mattress. I found IntelliBED, a unique mattress company whose products improve sleep quality and are also free of toxic flame retardants. After my research, I switched to IntelliBED and highly recommend it. If you use my referral link here you will automatically get 10% off your order. I will be writing much, much more on mattress safety and composition in the next few months
  • Use a standing desk. Do you sit at a desk for much of the day? You probably haven’t heard this tip before, but transitioning to a standing desk can drastically improve your insomnia. This has been my experience, so I began recommending it to my friends and family members with insomnia and they reported fantastic results. You can purchase a standing desk or make your own very affordable version, just google, “DIY Standing Desk.”

Have you used melatonin supplements? (Don’t forget to share this post using the buttons below with your friends and family members who use this supplement!)

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Laptop Radiation: Don’t fry your swimmers or zap your uterus! http://empoweredsustenance.com/laptop-radiation/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/laptop-radiation/#comments Thu, 26 Jun 2014 13:13:28 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=7234 “You don’t want to fry your swimmers!” That’s what my nutritional therapy instructor told us on the last day of class, when we were discussing the effects of EMF on health and fertility. As someone who specializes in fertility, she explained how the radiation from laptops is particularly problematic to fertility because a laptop is […]

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how to avoid laptop radiation

“You don’t want to fry your swimmers!”

That’s what my nutritional therapy instructor told us on the last day of class, when we were discussing the effects of EMF on health and fertility. As someone who specializes in fertility, she explained how the radiation from laptops is particularly problematic to fertility because a laptop is placed over the vital areas. “Men, you don’t want to fry your swimmers. Women, you don’t want to zap your uterus,” she said. My instructor introduced me to DefenderPad, which is a lightweight laptop radiation shield proven to block the harmful EMFs emitted from the computer from penetrating the body.

I’ve had my DefenderPad for almost a year now and figured it’s about time I review the product and discuss the topic of laptop radiation, especially since I touched on the topic of cell phone radiation two weeks ago. This post is sponsored by DefenderPad, and I reached out to them because I loved their product so much.

Should I be concerned about laptop radiation?

Do you have a laptop? Do you want healthy sperm or eggs? Do you want optimal health? Then yes, laptop radiation is a concern for you. Like all electronics, laptops emit electromagnetic frequencies (EMFs). WiFi, cell phones, cordless phones and appliances are some of the primary sources of EMFs in our life. Those of us privileged to live surrounded with these conveniences pay the price of swimming in EMFs 24/7.

Why are EMFs harmful to health? This is my short EMF spiel to explain how it works:

Perhaps you remember from biology class that the atoms making up anything – from the clothes you are wearing to the food you are eating – are always vibrating, although this movement is imperceptible to the human eye. Every cell, organ, and tissue in your body vibrates in a unique pattern. This vibration is energy, and that energy is electrical. This electrical cell communication is critical to the most basic function of the human body. EMFs disrupt the electrical communication between cells and, in that way, compromise basic physiological functions.

EMFs put cells at risk. When a cell is exposed to EMFs, its behavior changes. With too much exposure, the cell will shield itself from its own surrounding. Rather than interacting with other cell through their receptors, the cell will stop interrconnecting. At this point, the health of the cell can weaken. Even worse, these cells will stop generating critically important proteins, proteins necessary for keeping other cells healthy. The isolation and weakening of the cell ultimately leads to cell mutation and, potentially, long term damage. 

In short, when the electrical communication between cells are interrupted by EMFs, we open the door to a host of health problems.

how to avoid laptop radiation Laptops generate two types of harmful electromagnetic frequencies: Extremely Low Frequency radiation (ELFs) and Radio Frequency radiation (RFs). 

Extremely Low Frequency radiation - This type of electromagnetic frequency has been linked to various health concerns including leukemia and DNA damage. In one study, researchers found that baby chicks exposed to ELF leaked calcium ions from their brain cells. This is literally the phenomenon of brain cells becoming “unglued.” The 2012 Bioinitiative Report summarizes over 1,800 studies on EMFs and many of these studies show that ELF exposure may disrupt melatonin production, cause tumors, and cause DNA damage.

Radio frequency - RF is a type of high frequency radiation. has been shown to damage cellular DNA, which may lead to cancerous mutations. Even low-level RF exposure causes the body to create heat stress proteins, a temporarily protective measure that is harmful if this stress response is chronic.

What is the strength of laptop radiation?

This video shows EMF measurements from a Macbook at 3:00 using a Trifield Meter. Anything above “3″ on the meter is dangerous. Within an inch of the laptop base, the meter shows more than 100! The narrator highly recommends DefenderPad as a way to protect reproductive organs from the high EMF.

The most important factor when it comes to laptop radiation is what part of your body you protect. While a small amount radiation of radiation comes off the keyboard, a much higher concentration of radiation is emitted from the bottom of the laptop. When you place your laptop on your lap, this radiation is directed at vital organs. Fingers are vastly less susceptible to the harmful effects of radiation than your reproductive organs.

EMF standards are inadequate

A 2012 study published in the Environmental and Occupational Health journal measured the EMF levels of 5 brands of laptops. Here’s what they found:

EMF values are within International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation (NIR) Protection (ICNIRP) guidelines, but are considerably higher than the values recommended by 2 recent guidelines for computer monitors magnetic field emissions, MPR II (Swedish Board for Technical Accreditation) and TCO (Swedish Confederation of Professional Employees), and those considered risky for tumor development.

The researchers concluded,

Laptop is paradoxically an improper site for the use of a [laptop computer], which consequently should be renamed to not induce customers towards an improper use.

The wide discrepancy between the EMF safety range of the ICNIRP and the more conservative safety ranges of Sweden is no coincidence. As explained in the 2012 Bioinitiative Report, the ICNIRP consistently overlooks the new research on EMF and prioritizes industry profit over consumer health. Sweden is on the right track with its significantly narrower safety range for EMF exposure. 

How does DefenderPad work?

DefenderPad is a lightweight shield that you place between your lap and laptop. It is proven by independent FCC certified laboratory testing to reduce EMF radiation to virtually undetectable levels. There are other laptop shields on the market, but DefenderPad is the only one capable of blocking both the ELF and RF emissions.

Additionally, DefenderPad has an absorptive function which allows it to not only block radiation from your lap, but also absorb some of the radiation emitted from the rest of the laptop. Like I explained, the majority of the most dangerous radiation is emitted from the base of the laptop, but there is still a very small radiation emitted from the keyboard that can be slightly irritating to the most highly sensitive individuals. In my research, I’ve found that some electromagnetically hypersensitive customers of DefenderPad have found that the tingling in their fingers is reduced to a comfortable level when they use DefenderPad, likely due to the absorptive qualities.

I never place my laptop on my body without my DefenderPad. When I’m traveling or need to take my computer to a class, I bring my DefenderPad along with me in my book bag.

With laptop radiation, I choose to be safe, not sorry

In reference to radiation from phones and electronics, Dr. Derva Davis, the founder of the Environmental Health Trust, said,

Right now, we are treating our children like experiments in a subject with no controls

The slew of electromagnetic frequencies in our modern world makes science experiments out of everyone, to some degree. While I’m not about to go live off-grid in the wilderness (not yet, at least…), I choose to opt out of the experiment as much as I can while maintaining my lifestyle. Some of the ways I minimize my EMF exposure include: 

  • Turning off my WiFi router at night
  • Using a headset or speaker phone when talking on my cell
  • Using corded rather than cordless phones in my home
  • Using a DefenderPad under my laptop
  • (Read more in my posts about Electropollution and Cell Phone Radiation)

Limited time: 15% off and free shipping on DefenderPad

DefenderPad is currently offering a deep 4th of July discount. If you want a DefenderPad, don’t miss this sale!

From today through July 4th, use promo code “4thofjuly14″ to get 15% off your DefenderPad purchase plus FREE shipping at DefenderPad.com. Be sure to update the cart after entering the promo code.

I know you’ll love DefenderPad as much as I do!

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105 Coconut Flour Recipes Featuring the Healthiest Flour http://empoweredsustenance.com/coconut-flour-recipes/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/coconut-flour-recipes/#comments Tue, 24 Jun 2014 13:51:03 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=6852 Why choose coconut flour? The start of my grain free diet a few years ago marked the beginning of my love affair with coconut flour. Although it can be finicky, I’ve found that coconut flour is greatly rewarding in the right recipes. The key is using adequate liquid and eggs to act as a binder […]

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105 coconut flour recipes - great list!

Why choose coconut flour?

The start of my grain free diet a few years ago marked the beginning of my love affair with coconut flour. Although it can be finicky, I’ve found that coconut flour is greatly rewarding in the right recipes. The key is using adequate liquid and eggs to act as a binder to prevent a dry or crumbly result. When used in the correct amount, coconut flour creates delightfully moist and light-textured baked goods.

Because coconut flour has such a unique composition and baking properties, there is not a straight-forward substitute for it. In the same way, it can’t be substituted for a different type of flour in a recipe. The below recipes will give you a wide variety of ways to enjoy this healthy grain-free flour.

Benefits of coconut flour

It’s one of the healthiest flours available – grain flour such as wheat, barley and spelt contain gluten which is very difficult to digest. Even gluten free flours are often inflammatory due to the carbohydrate load. Because coconut flour is not a grain-based flour, it is non-inflammatory and low in carbs.

It boasts healthy fats - coconut flour contains fats from coconut oil, which are primarily medium-chain saturated fatty acids (MCTs). MCTs have been shown to improve metabolism and are used for energy, not stored in fat tissue. Unlike other nut and seed flours, like the commonly used almond flour, coconut flour is very low in omega-6. Omega-6 is inflammatory when consumed in excess, which is why I advocate only occasional use of almond flour.

It does not contain enzyme inhibitors – another strike against other nut and seed flours is the high content of enzyme inhibitors, which can wreak havoc on digestion. Learn more in my post 5 Reasons to Avoid Almond Flour. Coconuts contain negligible amounts of enzyme inhibitors.

It is high in fiber – this provides a satiating effect to coconut flour baked goods. However, the high fiber content can make coconut flour difficult for some people to digest. I recommend consuming no more than 4 tablespoons of coconut flour per day to avoid any irritation to the GI tract. If you experience discomfort consuming coconut flour (it’s not common, but it’s not rare either), you may need to scale it back to 2 tablespoons per day.

A little goes a long way – coconut flour may seem a little pricey, but remember that a little goes a long way. For example, in my Coconut Flour Cupcakes recipe, a mere 1/2 cup of coconut flour makes 8 cupcakes!

Where can I find coconut flour?

Now, you can find coconut flour in health food stores and even large grocery stores in the specialty food section. You can also get high-quality organic coconut flour here on Amazon.

Store coconut flour in an air-tight container at room temperature for a couple of months. To prolong the shelf life for up to a year, I recommend storing it in the freezer. Bring to room temperature before using in a recipe. 

Coconut Flour Recipes for Breads

coconut flour recipes bread

(Pictured from left to right #1 – #4)

1. Coconut Flour Flatbread, from me

2. Coconut Flour Banana Bread, from Gutsy

3. Basic Coconut Flour Bread Loaf, from Colorful Eats Nutrition

4. Coconut Flour Paleo Sandwich Rounds, from me

5. Sweet Potato Bread, from Whole Food Simply

6. Simple Coconut Flour Bread, from Whole Food Simply

7. Coconut Flour Herbed Flatbread (in a sheet pan), from Gutsy

8. Coconut Flour + Tapioca Bread, from The Paleo Mom

9. Coconut Flour Apple Carrot Bread, from Multiply Delicious

10. Coconut Flour Cinnamon Raisin Bread, from Coconut Contentment

11. Sweetener-Free Coconut Flour Banana Bread, from Free Coconut Recipes

12. Coconut Flour Chocolate Zucchini Bread, from Comfy Belly

13. Savory Coconut Flour Zucchini Bread, from me

14. Coconut Flour Lemon Loaf with Lemon Drizzle, from Cony’s Finally Losing It

Coconut Flour Recipes for Cakes and Cupcakes

coconut flour recipes cake 1

(Pictured from left to right #15 – 18)

15. Coconut Flour Cupcakes with Paleo Frostings, from me

16. Single-Layer Coconut Flour Chocolate Cake, from The Healthy Chef

17. Coconut Flour Coffee Cake, from Deliciously Organic

18. Coconut Flour Jam Sponge Roll, from An Aussie with Chron’s

19. Coconut Flour Cardamom Cupcakes with Lemon Frosting, from me

20. Apple Spice Coffee Cake (no added sweetener), from Yummy In My Tummy

21. Coconut Flour Crepe Cake, from The Clean Dish

22. Chocolate Cupcakes with Raspberry Filling and Chocolate Ganache, from me

23. Coconut Flour Cranberry Cake with Hot Butter Sauce, from Loving Our Guts

24. Chocolate Layer Cake with Orange Chocolate Ganache, from Life Food Journey

25. Coconut Flour Plantain Cake with Caramel Sauce, from Ditch the Wheat

26. Lemon Blueberry Poke Cake, from Beauty and the Foodie

27. Coconut Flour Layer Cake with Maple Buttercream, from Rubies and Radishes

28. Cinnamon Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Honey Frosting, from Civilized Caveman

29. Banana Coconut Breakfast Cake, from Bonnie Delicious

30. Coconut Flour Pound Cake, from The Urban Poser

31. Coconut Flour Lemon Petit Fours, from me

32. Coconut Flour Gingerbread with Cream Cheese Frosting, from Paleo Fondue

33. Coconut Flour Custard Cake, from My Humble Kitchen

34. Apple Cinnamon Coconut Flour Cake, from Petit Kitchen

35. Cranberry Upside Down Cake (with coconut and arrowroot flour), from Nourishing Meals

coconut flour recipes cakes 2

(Pictured from left to right #32 – #35)

Coconut Flour Recipes for Donuts

coconut flour recipes donuts

(Pictured from left to right #36 – #39)

36. Vanilla Cardamom Coconut Flour Donuts, from Pure 2 Raw

37. Coconut Flour Strawberry Donuts, from Against All Grain

38. Coconut Flour Pumpkin Spice Donuts with Cream Frosting, from Multiply Delicious

39. Coconut Flour Chocolate Banana Donuts with Salted Caramel, from me

40. Pumpkin Creme-Filled Donuts, from PaleOMG

41.  Chocolate Coffee Banana Donuts, from PaleOMG

42. Honey-Dipped Coconut Flour Donuts, from Comfy Belly

Coconut Flour Recipes for Muffins

coconut flour recipes muffins 1

(Pictured from left to right #43 – #46)

43. Simple Coconut Flour Muffins, from me

44. Coconut Flour Raspberry Almond Muffins, from Civilized Caveman

45. Coconut Flour Blueberry Muffins, from Maria Rickert Hong

46. Coconut Flour Lemon Poppyseed Muffins, from Cook Eat Paleo

47. Apple Cinnamon Coconut Flour Muffins, from Wellness Mama

48. Coconut Flour Cranberry Muffins, from Healy Eats Real

49. Avocado Banana Coconut Flour Muffins, from Fast Paleo

50. Coconut Flour Popovers, from Thank Your Body

51. Coconut Flour Rhubarb Lemon Muffins, from me

52. Apricot Lime Coconut Flour Muffins, from Janine’s Real Food Recipes

53. Garlic Herb Coconut Flour Muffins, from Healy Eats Real

54. Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins, from PaleOMG

55. Coconut Flour Banana Walnut Muffins, from Mommypotamus

56. Banana Cinnamon Bun Muffins, from Multiply Delicious

coconut flour recipes muffins 2

(Pictured from left to right #53 – #56)

Coconut Flour Recipes for Cookies

coconut flour recipes cookies 1

(Pictured from left to right #57 – #60)

57. Coconut Flour Banana Macaroons, from me

58. Coconut Flour Lady Fingers, from Primal Palate

59. Double Chocolate Coconut Flour Cookies, from Ditch the Wheat

60. Coconut Flour Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies, from J Chong Studio

61. Dark Chocolate Avocado Cookies, from Things My Belly Likes

62. Coconut Flour Spice Cookies, from Nourish With Karen

63. Three Ingredient Coconut Flour Cookies, my guest post at The Coconut Mama

64. Basic Coconut Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies, from Free Coconut Recipes

65. Coconut Flour Peanut Butter Cookies, from Just a Pinch

66. Pumpkin Spice Coconut Cookies, from A Girl Worth Saving

67. Coconut Flour Shortbread (with arrowroot flour), from Karolina’s Kitchen

68. Coconut Flour Linzer Cookies, from Real Food Forager

69. Ginger Fennel Coconut Flour Cookies, from me

coconut flour recipes cookies 2

(Pictured from left to right #66 – #69)

Coconut Flour Recipes for Pancakes and Waffles

coconut flour recipes pancakes 1

(Pictured from left to right #70 – #73)

70. Ultimate Coconut Flour Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce, from me

71. Coconut Flour Pancakes with Gelatin, from me

72. Fluffy Coconut Flour Waffles, from Just Enjoy Food

73. Coconut Flour Apple Pancake Rings, from Food Renegade

74. Coconut Flour Dutch Baby, from Unrefined Kitchen

75. Coconut Flour Finnish Custard Pancake, from Seasonal and Savory

76. Paleo Waffles with Arrowroot and Coconut Flour, from Fresh 4 Five

77. Coconut Flour and Shredded Apple Pancakes, from This Chick Cooks

78. Coconut Flour Pancake + Bacon Sandwiches, from Nom Nom Paleo

79. Banana Silver Dollar Pancakes, from The Spunky Coconut

coconut flour recipes pancakes 2

(Pictured from left to right #76 – #79)

Coconut Flour Recipes for Bars and Brownies

coconut flour recipes bars

(Pictured from left to right #80 – #83)

80. Rich and Fudgy Coconut Flour Brownies, from me

81. Coconut Flour Pumpkin Bars, from The Detoxinista

82. Lemon Bars with Coconut Flour Crust, from Fed and Fit

83. Coconut Flour Banana Ginger Bars, from me

84. Cakey Coconut Flour Brownies, from Comfy Belly

85. Egg Free  Coconut Pumpkin Bars, from AIP Lifestyle

86. Chocolate Beet Brownies, from Rooted Blessings

87. Egg Free Banana Bread Blondies, from The Real Food Guide

Coconut Flour Recipes for Scones and Biscuits

coconut flour recipes biscuits

(Pictured from left to right #88 – #91)

88. Spiced Coconut Flour Biscuits, from me

89. Coconut Flour Breakfast Biscuits, from Paleo Comfort Foods

90. Bacon and Chive Coconut Flour Biscuits, from The Urban Poser

91. Sweet Plantain and Coconut Flour Biscuits, from PaleOMG

92. Kabocha Squash and Coconut Flour Biscuits, from Real Food Forager

93. Coconut Flour Herb Biscuits, from me

94. Coconut Flour Cheese Biscuits, from The MARI Method

Coconut Flour Recipes for Wraps and Pizza Crusts

coconut flour recipes crepes

(Pictured from left to right #95- #97)

95. Coconut Flour Crepes/Tortillas, from Against All Grain

96. Coconut Flour Pizza Crust, from This Chick Cooks

97. Coconut Flour Tortillas, from Zest Bakery

98. Coconut + Tapioca Flour Pizza Crust, from Paleo Spirit

Random Coconut Flour Recipes

coconut flour recipes random

(Pictured from left to right #101- #104)

These didn’t really fit into the above categories but they are worth checking out!

105 coconut flour recipes - great list!99. How to make coconut flour from coconut flakes, from Oh The Things We’ll Make

100. How to make coconut flour fresh fresh coconut, from Rawmazing

101. Coconut Flour Gnocci, from Divalicious Recipes in the City

102. Coconut Flour Cheese Crackers, from Health Bent

103. Coconut Flour Croissant Bagels, from Beauty and the Foodie

104. Coconut Flour Graham Cracker Pie Crust, from Paleo Fondue

105. Coconut Custard Pie, from Free Coconut Recipes

Do you love coconut flour? Share the benefits and uses of coconut flour with the sharing buttons below!

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Bubble & Bee Skincare Giveaway – a $185 value! http://empoweredsustenance.com/bubble-and-bee-giveaway/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/bubble-and-bee-giveaway/#comments Mon, 23 Jun 2014 13:11:09 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=7251 By now, you know that I’m passionate and adventurous when it comes to all-natural beauty products and hair care. In the past few years as I’ve transitioned to a nearly chemical-free lifestyle, I waded through product after product as I gradually replaced my skincare routine with non-toxic alternatives. I’ve tried more brands than I care […]

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bubble and bee 1

By now, you know that I’m passionate and adventurous when it comes to all-natural beauty products and hair care. In the past few years as I’ve transitioned to a nearly chemical-free lifestyle, I waded through product after product as I gradually replaced my skincare routine with non-toxic alternatives. I’ve tried more brands than I care to count, and sadly many of these did not meet my expectations. A select few brands blew me away, but the price tags meant that I could indulge in the products only occasionally.

For me, Bubble & Bee is the best of both worlds: clean skincare products within a very reasonable price range. Today, I’m excited to offer this giveaway generously sponsored by Bubble & Bee – the largest giveaway that I have offered to date!

Why do I love Bubble & Bee?

Effective formulations – I used to think that a product with a gazillion unpronounceable ingredients manufactured in a laboratory trumped simple ingredients. If a product is marketed as “cutting edge technology” and costs $110 per ounce, it must be effective, right? I thought. Nope! Since then, I’ve learned that Mother Nature’s unadulterated, pure ingredients are more effective – not to mention safer - than chemical concoctions. Case in point: Bubble & Bee’s products deliver amazing results with simple ingredients like essential oils and plant extracts.

Organic ingredients – Bubble & Bee is a USDA Certified Organic facility and make all their products in-house. One benefit of organic certification is that the company is independently audited so you can be sure that what’s on the label is what’s actually in the bottle.

Wide variety of products – With over 75 items ranging from facial care to insect repellent to deodorant, Bubble & Bee is a one-stop-shop for skin and body care.

Affordable – I’ve tried more natural skincare brands than I can count, from fancy-schmancy brands to handmade items on Etsy. Many of these products just don’t meet my standards for efficacy while others are wonderful but to expensive for me to indulge on a regular basis. Bubble & Bee is the perfect blend of pure ingredients, polished packaging, and affordable prices.

Do you really know what you’re buying?

Bumble & BeeBubble & Bee stemmed from founder Stephanie Greenwood’s knowledge of chemistry and passion for pure ingredients. She was horrified to learn that the chemicals in her personal care products were linked to serious health problems and even more shocked when her friend, a chemist at a cosmetic chemical company, gave her an inside peek into the corruption of the trade:

The fact is, any store you walk into, from 99 cent to Sephora, about 80% of the products are mislabeled. (Read more about hidden ingredients at Bubble & Bee.)

I haven’t bought “natural” products at a drugstore or beauty store for years now. Instead, I purchase directly from small companies like Bubble & Bee who stick to integrity in ingredient labeling and sourcing. As I mentioned above, Bubble & Bee is a certified organic facility and they are independently audited so you can be sure that what is on the bottle is in the bottle – and what is not on the bottle is not in it!

Skincare with Bubble & Bee

1. Cleanse

You’ve heard me discuss the DIY facial cleansers I use: Oil Cleansing, Honey Cleansing and Oatmeal Cleansing. But I’ve had many, many readers tell me they would rather wash your face with a regular facial cleanser rather than food. (You mean you want the convenience and texture of a pre-made facial cleanser that doesn’t resemble something you’d eat for breakfast? Whatever, crazypants.)

Enter Bubble & Bee cleansers. Unlike harsh cleansers that strip the skin and cause the pores to overcompensate with sebum production, these products rely on saponified oils including jojoba, coconut and olive oil. Both the bar and liquid cleansers are formulated with additional plant extracts and essential oils to suit different skin types. A bar of the Oatmeal Spice Soap, suitable for face and body, is included in the giveaway. The Cool Cucumber Cleanser, suited for most skin types, is also included.

 2. Tone

I can’t remember the last time I’ve washed my face and didn’t follow with a toner. Once you get hooked on the refreshing, soothing, reparative effects of a high-quality toner, you’ll never be able to part with it. I love the multi-purpose Splash of Lime Toner from Bubble & Bubble (it’s included in the giveaway). My unusual tip for using it? I apply it to my armpits post shaving to prevent in-growns… it works like a charm!

Bumble & Bee

3. Moisturize

Bubble & Bee simplifies the question of the perfect facial moisturizer with two options: one for men and one for women. Their women’s facial moisturizer contains only three ingredients to suit all skin types: shea butter, rosehip seed oil and non-GMO vitamin E. It doesn’t leave a greasy feel and you need just a tiny dab. A jar has enough to last you three months or more! I also pat it around my eye area area for a gentle, non-greasy eye cream.

Bumble & Bee

4. Body Care

Bubble & Bee offers a wide variety of pristinely hand-crafted body care products including:

  • Lip balm – Included in the giveaway, their lip balm is silky and moisturizing without being overly greasy or waxy
  • Body lotion - Bubble & Bee offers two very popular types of body moisturizers: ultra-moisturizing body butter and convenient lotion sticks to carry on-the-go.
  • Deodorant – The Pit Putty sticks and creams, made with arrowroot powder and coconut oil, are a convenient alternative to antiperspirants, which contain toxic aluminum and prevent detox.
  • Insect Repellent - Made with essential oils, this safe and easy-to-apply bug spray really works!

Bumble & Bee

15% off Bubble & Bee Coupon

Bubble & Bee is offering a 15% off coupon to Empowered Sustenance readers, which you can use toward all of their skin and body care products.

Use promo code “POWER15″ to receive 15% off your order, excluding already discounted merchandise and package offers.

What’s in the Bubble & Bee Giveaway

Total value of Bubble & Bee giveaway package: $185!

Enter the giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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