Empowered Sustenance http://empoweredsustenance.com Eat well and heal!™ Wed, 30 Jul 2014 17:48:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 End this war. http://empoweredsustenance.com/end-this-war/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/end-this-war/#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 17:47:38 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=7621 “I’m in the fight against cancer.” “I’m battling diabetes.” “I’m threatened with high blood pressure.” “I have an autoimmune disease, so my body is attacking itself.” This is what I call body war language. Our language so often falls short of describing truth, which may leads to minor misunderstanding or catastrophic results. In the case […]

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End body war

“I’m in the fight against cancer.”

“I’m battling diabetes.”

“I’m threatened with high blood pressure.”

“I have an autoimmune disease, so my body is attacking itself.”

This is what I call body war language.

Our language so often falls short of describing truth, which may leads to minor misunderstanding or catastrophic results. In the case of body war language, I believe that we set ourselves up for disaster by using totally inappropriate words to depict what is actually happening.

Watch your thoughts, they become words. Watch your words, they become actions. Watch your actions, they become habit. Watch your habit, they become character. Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.” Lao Tzu said. When it comes to body war language, we reach the same conclusion in a different pattern:

Watch your words, they become your thoughts. Watch your thoughts, they becomes your health. Watch your health, it becomes your destiny.”

I am not a war zone

When I was first diagnosed with ulcerative colitis,  an autoimmune disease, doctors told me it would be a lifelong battle to prevent my body from further attacking itself. I envisioned my body as a war zone, with my healthy colon tissue being destroyed by an innately evil part of my physiology, that had, until now, laid in wait. 

Just like our thoughts determine our words, our words shape our thoughts. When we use “war language” to describe health conditions, we illustrate a battlefield inside our body. We begin to understand our inner workings through a lens of “good vs. bad.”

In the case of cancer, we perceive the tumors as “bad” and other cells as “good.” When it comes to something as mild as cellulite, we describe our thighs with a torrent of negative language. Cottage-cheese thighs. Fat and ugly.

But I am not a war zone. You are not a war zone. 

Disease is not bad. It does not mean something went wrong. It means our body is working as it should, drawing on protective measures to prolong our life in the short-term. The human body is innately intelligent and each day, it prioritizes how to extend our life in the short term.

When our body is bombarded with stress, environmental toxins, poor nutrition and negativity, it is forced to borrow health from our future to keep us alive. When we provide our body with nourishment and balance, we furnish the materials it needs for immediate health so that the innate intelligence can invest in our long-term health.

Make love, not war, with your body

Here are four subtle but profound ways to kindle a relationship of love, not war, with your body:

1. Change your thoughts and language

Stop referring to your body as a battlefield. Don’t think of the duality of “good vs. bad” in your body. Rather, focus on balancing the areas of dis-ease. Instead of thinking, “I’m battling diabetes” you could say, “My body has trouble keeping my blood sugar balanced.”

2. Send love to your affected body part

Love is an action. Love is a feeling. Love is also a vibration, a vibration of profound healing energy. When we send love to a body part, we practice self-healing.

In the same way, hate is a powerful vibration capable of destruction. By hating a body part or body system that is imbalanced, we further impair our ability to heal.

Consider the (albeit controversial) “Rice Experiment” conducted by Dr. Emoto, in which rice pleasantly fermented when given words of love, but rotted when given words of hate.

If you have hypothyroidism, for example, don’t hate your thyroid, send it love. If you have a tumor, tell yourself that you love each cell in your body. Tell yourself that you love that your body is capable of re-balancing and healing.

3. Don’t take ownership of a disease

Sometimes this is unavoidable for the sake of practical conversation, but I try to avoid saying, “my Hashimoto’s” or “my ulcerative colitis.” By telling myself that these are “my” disease, my body will see these imbalances as a part of my identity.

They are not my identity. They are not my diseases.

4. Practice The Golden Rule

Do unto your body as you would have others do to you. Would you want others calling your stomach pudgy? Then don’t call your stomach pudgy! Don’t even think it. Love your body unconditionally and it will love you back.

Please join me in making body love, not body war!

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4 Reasons to Re-Think Your Toxic Mattress http://empoweredsustenance.com/toxic-mattress/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/toxic-mattress/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 14:41:57 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=7518 My toxic mattress made me sick I began cooking real food from scratch. I switched all my body care products and cosmetics to homemade or organic versions. I did the same for my household cleaning items. I filtered my drinking water to remove chlorine and fluoride. I started various food-based and homeopathic supplements. I thought […]

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4 reasons to re-think your toxic mattress

My toxic mattress made me sick

I began cooking real food from scratch. I switched all my body care products and cosmetics to homemade or organic versions. I did the same for my household cleaning items. I filtered my drinking water to remove chlorine and fluoride. I started various food-based and homeopathic supplements. I thought I had most of my bases covered, in terms of my transition to a chemical-free lifestyle. Then, a few months ago, I began researching the chemicals I had been sleeping on day after day… the chemicals in my mattress! 

After learning about the toxicity of new mattresses, I experienced a lightbulb moment. I realized that the worst flare up ever of my autoimmune disease exactly correlated to the week that I started sleeping on a new mattress a couple years ago. There were other factors that contributed, like increased sress during that time, but I believe that the toxic mattress was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me.

Here are four reasons to re-think your toxic mattress, as well as the non-toxic mattress to which I recently switched.

1. Toxic mattresses contain a slew of fire retardants

When you think about the properties of a good mattress, what comes to mind? Probably comfort, durability, and support. But would you expect your mattress to be fireproof? By U.S. law, mattresses are required to withstand a two-foot wide open flame of a blowtorch for 70 seconds. Can you say overkill?

To meet this ridiculous standard, mattresses are drenched with toxic fire retardants as a last step in the manufacturing process. Horrifyingly, manufacturers are not required to disclose the fire retardants they use! Some of the fire retardants commonly used include:

  • Boric acid, a pesticide that the EPA classifies as Toxicity Category III for reactions like skin irritation (source)
  • Rayon treated with silica, which is unstudied for its toxicity effects. Rayon is a synthetic fiber treated with various chemicals during processing, and I avoid wearing synthetic fibers or using them for bedding (along with all other synthetic fibers – post on that coming soon!) (source)
  • Antimony, an element very similar to arsenic. Inhalation of antimony has been shown to cause respiratory in humans and tumors in rats (source)
  • Melamine resin, which contains formaldehyde although the EPA says that it poses little or no toxicity risks (source)
  • PCDE’s (polybrominated diphenyl ethers), which are highly toxic and used in mattresses before 2004. Due to its toxicity, most mattress manufacturers phased out their use of this fire retardant (source).

Fire retardants, as well as other toxic components of modern mattresses, off-gass and release chemicals into the air. New mattress smell is actually toxic mattress smell! In one study, researchers found that mice exposed to mattress emissions  experienced upper and lower respiratory irritation, as well as decreased air flow (source). Some researchers believe that the mattress toxins are also absorbed through the skin, since PCBEs are found in women’s breast milk.

Further, the EPA requires chemical companies to test the effects of a chemical on animals one chemical at a time. Many researchers are now hypothesizing that the “combined effects” of chemicals, such as the case of toxic mattresses,  is exponentially greater than added exposure to each individual chemical (source).

2. Foam mattresses are made with polyurethane foam

Before polyurethane foam hit the market, mattresses were made with cotton and/or wool and reinforced with springs. Now, most mattresses incorporate polyurethane foam, a petroleum product. Memory foam mattresses are increasingly popular, but due to the higher percentage of polyurethane foam they contain, they might be the most toxic mattress options.

In the study I discussed above with mice and mattress emissions, researchers identified various toxic gasses including styrene, isopropylbenzene and limonene in the emissions of polyurethane foam mattresses.

Some researchers believe that the pressure of sleeping on a memory foam mattress breaks down the foam, which releases more toxins. Also, the glue used in polyurethane mattresses contains formaldehyde, which is suspected to off-gass. 

3. We are most vulnerable to toxic mattresses during sleep

Our nervous system has two states: sympathetic, the fight-or-flight mode, and parasympathetic, the rest-and-digest mode. Sympathetic mode evolved to allow humans to react quickly in life or death situations, such as escaping a rabid sabertooth. The body shifts focus from reparative processes to fuel muscles. In parasympathetic mode, the body can focus on growth, digestion, hormone-synthetic and repair processes.

When we sleep, particularly during REM sleep, we are in full parasympathetic mode. Because the body lets its guard down in parasympathetic mode, we are at our most vulnerable state to the effects of toxins. Parasympathetic mode + close proximity to toxic mattress off-gassing = bad combination!

4. Toxic mattresses pose higher risk for infants and children

When it comes to infants bedding, fire retardants compromise only a fraction of the off-gassing chemicals. Most crib mattresses are made from polyurethane foam in a vinyl cover. New crib mattresses off-gass a toxic slew of chemicals from the polyurethane, vinyl and fire retardants.

According to the EPA’s Hazard Summary on Vinyl Chloride,

    Cancer is a major concern from exposure to vinyl chloride via inhalation, as vinyl chloride exposure has been shown to increase the risk of a rare form of liver cancer in humans.  EPA has classified vinyl chloride as a Group A, human carcinogen.

Eliminating toxic mattresses for infants and children should be a higher priority than for adults for the following reasons:

  • Infants spend up to 18 hours sleeping, so their exposure to mattress off-gassing is vastly more concentrated
  • Because their bodies are rapidly developing and growing, their faster metabolic processes make them more susceptible to the toxins in their environment.

Further, a leading theory on the cause of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) blames toxic bedding materials. The chemicals in off-gassing mattresses, as well as fungal growth within the mattress, can interfere with respiratory function and cause nerve damage. A 10-year New Zealand program to encourage the practice of “mattress wrapping” – covering infants’ mattresses with multiple layers of non-toxic materials – significantly reduced SIDS. (Source)

What are non-toxic mattress options?

The not-so-simple answer is to get a non-toxic mattress. But what counts as a non-toxic mattress? If a mattress is composed of organic cotton filling, it can be called an “organic mattress” even if it is coated in toxic fire retardants. There is no regulation for marketing terms like natural, non-toxic or organic when it comes to mattresses. As tedious as it sounds, your best bet is to talk to the mattress company about the ingredients and materials they use. If they won’t disclose, then don’t buy their mattress!

Organic wool mattresses are also gaining popularity as a non-toxic mattress option. Since wool is naturally fire-retardant, some manufacturers say that no additional fire retardants are used in their wool mattresses. However, I’ve found other sources stating that wool alone does not meet the fireproof standards, so it is coated in additional fire-retardants (which do not need to be disclosed or put on the label).

Some people choose to purchase a used mattress, as the majority of the off-gassing occurs in the first few years of purchase. There is the issue of it being a used mattress, though… I don’t think I would be comfortable with that. Don’t buy a used foam mattress, as these are inherently toxic and as they breakdown they can release further toxins. Additionally, conventional and foam-based mattresses are sub-par in terms of adequate support for optimal alignment during sleep. Cotton/wool innersprings offer better support, but the most ideal option is the latex gel and innersprings.

Also, with a doctor’s prescription, you can purchase a mattress not treated with fire retardants. According to this article,

You must have a prescription from a physician licensed in your state that says “this patient requires a chemical-free mattress”. This can be written by any licensed physician, including medical doctors (MD), osteopaths (DO) and chiropractors (DC).

If you go that route, you want to make sure that the other mattress materials are not inherently toxic so avoid mattresses with vinyl and foam components.

IntelliBED: the non-toxic mattress I love!

After researching various options, I decided to go with IntelliBED. Their unique mattress technology uses patented gel latex, which is used in hospital beds for long-term bedridden patients because it prevents bedsores and chronic pain. The gel also reduces pressure points up to 80% better than foam mattresses, making it optimal for those with chronic pain or alignment issues. Most importantly for me, however, is the non-toxic materials in IntelliBED.

  • Like all mattresses, IntelliBED must meet the stupid fire-proof standards. They use natural silica, a fire-retardant mineral and the safest option available.
  • The support of the mattress uses three non-toxic components: steel springs, non-off-gassing latex gel, and organic cotton (read more)

Before I tried the mattress, I was able to speak with one of the founders to learn more about IntelliBED. I’ve been blown away by the companys integrity and all the research they have provided me. I’m currently working with the company, but this post is not sponsored by them. If you use my referral link here you will automatically get 10% off your order. 

I did get sticker shock when saw their mattress prices. But then I realized, “I’m going to spend 1/3 of my life on my mattress – if anything deserves my investment, it’s my mattress!” Plus, IntelliBED is the only company to offer a 30 year warranty on their mattresses, even though they usually last much longer. For me, it makes sense to prioritize a non-toxic mattress.

With that said, Intellibed offers solutions for budgets of various sizes. To get the support properties, you can use their non-toxic mattress topper on top of a firm mattress. This might be a good compromise if you are buying a used conventional mattress to reduce off-gassing (see below). Also, their pillows are incredible, and made with the same non-toxic materials. It took me a couple of days to get used to the support of the pillow, but now I can’t sleep without it. (Don’t forget to use my referral link because the 10% off will be automatically subtracted during checkout.)

Have you made the switch to a non-toxic mattress? Did you ever experience illness or symptoms after using a new mattress?

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Healthy Coffee Substitute Recipe http://empoweredsustenance.com/coffee-substitute-recipe/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/coffee-substitute-recipe/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 12:57:24 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=7601 Dandy Blend: An herbal coffee substitute I haven’t sipped a cup of coffee for years, but I still long for the flavor of coffee and the comfort of a latte on occasion. I’ve also received questions from readers about tips for overcoming coffee addiction. Recently, my friend Genevieve at Mama Natural introduced me to Dandy Blend […]

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Healthy coffee substitute recipe

Dandy Blend: An herbal coffee substitute

I haven’t sipped a cup of coffee for years, but I still long for the flavor of coffee and the comfort of a latte on occasion. I’ve also received questions from readers about tips for overcoming coffee addiction. Recently, my friend Genevieve at Mama Natural introduced me to Dandy Blend in one of her videos and I was instantly intrigued.


Dandy Blend is a powdered coffee substitute made with the extracts of roasted roots and grains. It is naturally caffeine free and tastes very similar to a cup of coffee! Here are some things to keep in mind about Dandy Blend:

  • Dandelion root is a traditional detoxifying herb with mild diuretic properties
  • Dandy Blend is suitable for a grain free diet because the “meat” of the grain – which contains the hard-to-digest components – is left behind during processing, and only the “juice” of at the grain is used in the final product (see below for more details)
  • Some people report a laxative effect (which can be helpful if things are backed up!) due to the detoxifying properties of the dandelion, so introduce it slowly
  • Even though Dandy Blend is tested to be gluten free, it is possible for sensitive individuals to react to other components of Dandy Blend

Dandy Blend is available here from Amazon and you can also find it at most health food stores. 

Is coffee bad?

I don’t believe coffee is inherently bad. As a matter of fact, numerous studies show that it may have a protective effect against diseases including Type II Diabetes and Parkinson’s disease.

With that said, I don’t think one food is good for everyone. For example, nuts and seeds, including coffee, is excluded from the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol due to the potentially irritating properties of nuts/seeds. Additionally, you may not tolerate the caffeine in regular coffee due to impaired liver function. Did you know that symptoms such as jitteriness or shakiness after consuming caffeine indicates a lack of liver enzymes in the Phase 1 detox pathway of the liver? (Source)

Is it really gluten free?

Healthy coffee substitute recipeDandy Blend ingredients include: extracts of roasted barley, rye, chicory root, dandelion root and non-GMO sugar beet. Barley and rye? How could it be gluten free? 

This is what they say on their website:

Dandy Blend is made of the water-soluble extracts of five ingredients; three roots and two grains (barley and rye), not from the ingredients themselves. The ingredients are roasted separately and then combined in prescribed proportions, placed into a vat, covered with hot water, and allowed to steep for a prescribed period of time. The water, with the soluble portions of all the components, is separated from the grounds and spray dried. The remaining fine brown powder left after the water is driven off is what becomes Dandy Blend. All the gluten and other water-insoluble substances are left behind in the grounds to be composted.
Hence, there is no gluten in Dandy Blend. Goosefoot Acres periodically submits samples of Dandy Blend to Elisa Technologies Laboratory in Florida, one of the most respected gluten testing labs in the United States for analysis, and so far, every test has come back gluten-free. Click to see test results letter.
Therefore, from the standpoint of containing gluten, Dandy Blend is safe for celiac sufferers and other gluten-intolerant individuals.

My experience with Dandy Blend Coffee Substitute

I was curious (and nervous) to see if I would react to the “juice” of the rye and barley in Dandy Blend, but I experienced no reaction! No puffy eyes, no hives, no stomach ache, no shakiness or other symptoms that I experience when I try a food that doesn’t agree with me.

Even better, my “latte” was delicious! I prefer it with a hearty dose of the Dandy Blend for a full flavor and a splash of coconut milk. It’s also naturally sweet due to the natural fructose in the roots.

Coffee Substitute with Dandy Blend

Yield: 1 serving

Coffee Substitute with Dandy Blend

Dandy Blend is an instant coffee substitute made with roasted roots and grains, including dandelion root which is revered for it's detoxifying properties. Although it contains rye and barley, it consistently tests to be gluten free because only steeped liquid from the grains - not the grain itself - is part of the final product. If you are sensitive or allergic to rye or barley, however, I wouldn't suggest this product.


  • 1 cup hot or cold water
  • Ice, if making a chilled beverage
  • 1 - 3 tsp. Dandy Blend, available here or at most health food stores
  • Coconut milk or milk of choice, if desired
  • Sweetener of choice, if desired (I use a dash of maple syrup to compliment the slightly roasted, nutty flavor of Dandy Blend)


  1. To make hot "coffee" with Dandy Blend, stir the desired amount of Dandy Blend into a cup of hot water. Add milk and sweetener if desired. I prefer using 2 tsp. of Dandy Blend per 8 oz. for a full-flavored, naturally sweet drink. The more Dandy Blend you use, the stronger the flavor.
  2. To make a chilled coffee substitute, stir or shake together the Dandy Blend with cold water. Add ice, milk and sweetener if desired.

Are you kicking a coffee habit? Have you tried Dandy Blend?

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5 Reasons To Switch To Natural Fiber Clothing http://empoweredsustenance.com/natural-fiber-clothing/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/natural-fiber-clothing/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 17:17:41 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=7362 My natural fiber clothing detox When buying clothes, I used to consider the following four points: appearance, comfort, size and price. I never considered the fabric of the clothing – as long as it fit my style, body and bank account balance, I was a happy camper. Recently, I’ve added one more condition that my […]

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why I detoxed my closet with natural fiber clothing

My natural fiber clothing detox

When buying clothes, I used to consider the following four points: appearance, comfort, size and price. I never considered the fabric of the clothing – as long as it fit my style, body and bank account balance, I was a happy camper.

Recently, I’ve added one more condition that my clothes must meet: they must be made of natural fiber such as cotton, linen, wool or silk. On my journey to a natural lifestyle in order to holistically address my autoimmune disease, I’ve adjusted many aspects of my life including my diet, my skin/hair/body care products, supplements, the quality of my drinking/bathing water and even my mattress. But until a few months ago, I didn’t think about detoxing my closet.

I don’t have the means to revamp my whole wardrobe, as limited as it is, with natural fiber pieces. As of 3 months ago, however, I made the vow to only purchase clothing made with at least 90% natural fiber. Slowly, I’m transitioning my closet to natural fiber pieces.

Side note: my clothing style is considered “The 2014 College Female” – i.e.,  yoga pants. My daily ensemble consists of yoga pants and a blouse/t-shirt/cardigan/sweatshirt. It’s much easier to find natural fiber alternatives for these basic pieces in comparison to more formal items.

 Natural fibers vs. synthetic fabric

Natural fiber clothing is made from natural materials that have been used to make clothing for thousands of years. Natural fibers include:

  1.  Cotton
  2. Linen (made from flax)
  3. Silk
  4. Wool
  5. Cashmere
  6. Hemp
  7. Jute (a very coarse fiber used for things like carpets, not clothing)

Synthetic fabrics could be considered plastic fabric. In a process called polymerization, chemically-derived fibers are joined together to create fabric. It requires a numerous chemicals and solvents to create any type of synthetic fabric (see #2 below). Common synthetic fabrics include polyester, rayon, modal, spandex and nylon.

Bamboo fabric, which is referred to as bamboo rayon or bamboo viscose, may sound like a natural fiber but it is produced more like a synthetic fabric which is why I avoid it. Bamboo fibers are extremely coarse and rough. As a result, it must undergo extensive processing with caustic chemicals to create a soft material. According to Patagonia, these are the steps required to produce bamboo rayon:

Cellulose material (such as bamboo) is dissolved in a strong solvent to make a thick, viscous solution that is forced through a spinneret into a quenching solution where strands solidify into fiber. This is sometimes called hydrolysis alkalization or solution spinning because the fiber is “spun” in a chemical solution. The solvent used for this process is carbon disulfide, a toxic chemical that is a known human reproductive hazard. It can endanger factory workers and pollute the environment via air emissions and wastewater. The recovery of this solvent in most viscose factories is around 50%, which means that the other half goes into the environment. Other potentially hazardous chemicals are also used in the viscose process, including sodium hydroxide and sulfuric acid. (Source and read more)

The choice to purchase natural fiber clothing reduces your toxic burden and the toxic burden on the environment. Here are 5 reasons why I’m transitioning my closet to natural fibers!

1. I intuitively favored natural fiber clothing

The revelation that spurred my switch to natural fiber clothing happened just a few months ago. One day, I realized that I was reaching for the same clothing items over and over again while avoiding newer, nicer clothes that were just as comfortable. Why did I choose my threadbare cotton bathrobe over my fluffy fleece bathrobe? Why did I ignore the stretchy Athleta leggings that I had recently splurged on?

I realized that the items I obsessively wore were made from 100% cotton (plus my one and only 100% cashmere sweater). The clothing options that I intuitively ignored – even though they felt comfortable – were made from a blend of synthetic fibers such as rayon, polyester and nylon. This led me to research how synthetic fiber is made and how it may affect health.

2. Natural fiber clothing is less toxic than synthetic fiber

When it comes to body care products and cosmetics, we know that 60% of what we put on our skin is absorbed into the bloodstream. If clothes are treated with chemicals, and then we put the clothes on our skin, will our skin absorb some of the chemicals? That’s my theory!

According to BodyEcology.com, these are some of the chemicals utilized in the production of synthetic fabric:

1. Polyester is the worst fabric you can buy. It is made from synthetic polymers that are made from esters of dihydric alcohol and terpthalic acid.

2. Acrylic fabrics are polycrylonitriles and may cause cancer, according to the EPA.

3. Rayon is recycled wood pulp that must be treated with chemicals like caustic soda, ammonia, acetone and sulphuric acid to survive regular washing and wearing.

4. Acetate and Triacetate are made from wood fibers called cellulose and undergo extensive chemical processing to produce the finished product.

5. Nylon is made from petroleum and is often given a permanent chemical finish that can be harmful.

6. Anything static resistant, stain resistant, permanent press, wrinkle-free, stain proof or moth repellant. Many of the stain resistant and wrinkle-free fabrics are treated with perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), like Teflon. (Source and read more)

While we need more research to understand how wearing toxic fabrics can affect health, we do have hints of the dangers of the chemicals. This Canadian study found that women working in acrylic textile factories had seven times the risk of breast cancer than the normal population. Women working in nylon factories had double the risk of breast cancer.

Another point to keep in mind is the toxicity of chemicals used in dry cleaning. During the dry cleaning process, garments are doused with the toxic chemical perchloroethylene, or PERC, for short.

According to the EPA’s Chemical Fact Sheet on PERC:

Breathing PERC for short periods of time can adversely affect the human nervous system.[…] Breathing
perchloroethylene over longer periods of time can cause liver and kidney damage in humans. Workers exposed repeatedly to large amounts of PERC in air can also experience memory loss and confusion. Laboratory studies show that PERC causes kidney and liver damage and cancer in animals exposed repeatedly by inhalation and by mouth. Repeat exposure to large amounts of PERC in air may likewise cause cancer in humans. (Source)

 I avoid purchasing clothes that require dry cleaning to avoid exposure to PERC. Often, clothes that say Dry Clean Only can be hand washed carefully and laid flat to dry.

3. Natural fiber clothing is more sustainable

why I detoxed my closet with natural fiber clothingWhen it comes to the sustainability of clothing, natural fiber clothing is generally more sustainable than synthetic fibers which require high energy use and crude oil (source).

Additionally, because natural fibers are plant materials, they decompose quickly. Because synthetic fibers are essentially plastic, they are not quickly biodegradable.

When it comes to cotton, organic cotton is significantly more eco-friendly than conventionally-grown cotton. Conventional cotton uses more pesticides than any other crop, accounting for 10% of world-wide pesticide use (source). Further, almost 90% of non-organic cotton is genetically modified (source), which contributes to the high levels of pesticides and poses further environmental damage. Other plant fibers such as linen and hemp use very little pesticides and are not genetically modified.

4. Natural fiber clothing is a better investment

Have you ever noticed how well your favorite cotton t-shirt holds up over the years? I’ve found that my 100% cotton clothes hold up much longer than my synthetic clothes. The few items of linen clothing I have also seem to last forever in beautiful shape. On the other hand, synthetic fabric begins to break down much more quickly, especially with frequent washing. I’ve noticed that the fabric begins to “pill” – the fabric breaks down and gets fuzzy.

Natural fiber clothing may be more expensive up front, but I’ve found that it’s a better investment in the long run. Not to mention a better investment in the environment!

5. Natural fiber clothing has a “natural” vibration

Many of my readers demand, “show me the studies” whenever I discuss health and nutrition. While controlled, peer-reviewed studies often have an important role to play in our understanding of health, they will not provide answers or insight in all situations. This point is (as yet) non-scientific in the sense of Western science and may seem like an esoteric concept to some of you. However, it makes  a lot of sense to me! 

Do you remember from biology class that the atoms making up anything are always vibrating? Everything has a unique vibration. From each organ in your body to the chair in which you are sitting, everything resonates with a specific frequency.  Bruce Tainio, who build the first frequency monitor, found that a higher vibration correlates to better health – a concept that has been accepted for thousands of years in Chinese medicine. The idea of supporting the body’s vibration has been around for thousands of years in Eastern medicine, although it is newer in the Western world. Some people misinterpret this concept of vibrational medicine as woo-woo or a religious concept. It is neither – this is purely biology, and a biology that we are learning more and more about as our measurement technology improves. 

This point, to me, provides the most probable explanation for my intuitive transition to natural fiber clothing. As a highly sensitive person (a blessing and a curse!), my body has been very receptive to various types of vibrational medicine such as acupuncture. It makes sense that my body “asks” for the more natural vibration of natural fibers rather than synthetic fibers.

Where I’ve found natural fiber clothing

Fair Indigo – Fair Indigo calls their clothing “style with a conscious” for a good reason. They ethically source their materials, paying workers a living wage.  They offer a wide selection of 100% organic cotton blouses (I like the Circle Neck Organic T-Shirt). Their gorgeous selection of scarves are a blend of cotton, wool and/or linen.

Alternative Apparel – Many of their items contain recycled synthetic materials, which I still choose to avoid. However, they have some 100% cotton and linen items that I’ve enjoyed. Some of their clothes are made with organic cotton and natural dyes. Everything I’ve got there has been from the Sale section, which usually has a wide selection. The 100% linen blouses that I purchased are amazing – lightweight, super soft and wrinkle-free!

Blue Canoe – Blue Canoe uses organic cotton and/or bamboo rayon for their pieces. I’ve not tried a wide range of their clothes, but I do like their 100% organic cotton bras and panties. Much of their clothing is made from bamboo rayon, which is highly processed with chemicals as I explained above. I only stick with their 100% cotton options.

Department stores – Although the fabric will likely not be organic, you’ll be able to find 100% cotton blouses at most department stores, as well as some 100% linen pieces. Another option that you can find in your favorite department store is pure cashmere or wool cardigans/sweaters.

 Have you made the switch to natural fiber clothing? Is it something you want to try?

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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 inflammatory 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 Inflammatory 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!


    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


  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.

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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