Empowered Sustenance http://empoweredsustenance.com Eat well and heal!™ Tue, 03 Mar 2015 03:03:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 The 5 Key Ways I Afford Healthy Food http://empoweredsustenance.com/afford-healthy-food/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/afford-healthy-food/#comments Tue, 03 Mar 2015 03:02:49 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=3777 To afford healthy food, we need a paradigm shift Since this post is all about saving money while eating healthy, I do want to address the following point. If we speak with our wallets, then it is accurate to draw the conclusion that the American population, in general, doesn’t see food as a valuable investment. […]

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5 ways to afford healthy food

To afford healthy food, we need a paradigm shift

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tips to afford healthy food

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

1. Vitacost

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 bottle granulated bee pollen                                              retail: 13.75   Vitacost: 11.49

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

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

Savings: 34.72!

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

2. Craig’s List

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

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

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

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

 3. Skip the “luxury heath foods”

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. CSAs

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

Here is why I highly recommend CSAs

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

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

5. Know your grocery stores

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

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

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

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paleo cookie butter crumble

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

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

paleo cookie butter crumble

Uses for Paleo Cookie Butter Crumble

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

paleo cookie butter crumbleAbout the ingredients

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

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

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

Paleo Cookie Butter Crumble

10 minutes

Yield: About 1 cup of cookie butter crumbles

Paleo Cookie Butter Crumble

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

Notes

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

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Grounding Shoes Giveaway! (3 winners, up to $160 value each) http://empoweredsustenance.com/grounding-shoes-giveaway/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/grounding-shoes-giveaway/#comments Fri, 20 Feb 2015 02:01:14 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=8617 I’m the kind of girl who gets excited about essential oils and herbs, not heels and purses. With that said, there is still a part of me that jumps for joy when I discover the perfect pair of shoes. And since discovering Juil shoes a few months ago, I’m convinced that I’ve found the perfect […]

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grounding shoes giveaway

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

What makes Juil grounding shoes special?

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

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

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

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

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

Components of Juil shoes include:

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

Juil Grounding Shoes Giveaway

Want to try Juil grounding shoes? You can enter for a chance to win your choice of Juil shoes – up to a $160 value! This giveaway has three winners.

View the entire selection of Juil shoes here.

To enter, click here to view and enter the giveaway page hosted by Juil. You’ll receive extra entry points for the optional social media entries.

Once again, HERE CLICK HERE FOR THE GIVEAWAY ENTRY PAGE.

The giveaway ends February 25th, so enter as soon as possible. Good luck!

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

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blogging resources

Blogging Questions and Blogging Resources

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

Why is your blog popular?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How much time do you spend blogging?

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

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

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

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

Do you make money blogging?

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

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

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

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

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

What does blogging entail?

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

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

What’s a typical day for you?

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

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

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

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

What blogging resources do you recommend?

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

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

WordPress Plug-Ins I recommend

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

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

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

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

Increase hair growth from the root cause!

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

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

1. Hair growth depends on adequate stomach acid

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

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

Here’s how the process influences hair growth:

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

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

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

2. Consume collagen or gelatin to increase hair growth naturally

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

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

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

Read more about the benefits of collagen and gelatin here.

3. Support balanced hormones for healthy hair growth

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

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

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

4. Support a healthy, balanced scalp

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

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

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

Morrocco Method coupon info:

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

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

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

5. Support thyroid health to increase hair growth naturally

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

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

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

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

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Paleo Raspberry Carob Truffles http://empoweredsustenance.com/carob-truffles/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/carob-truffles/#comments Wed, 04 Feb 2015 14:00:37 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=8585 From Lauren: Today’s recipe is from Samantha at Sweet Potatoes and Social Change. I asked her to share a recipe with you immediately after I found her site and fell in love with her other autoimmune-friendly recipes, particularly her AIP Chicken and Dumplings.  Raspberry Carob Truffles My very first job, outside of babysitting and pet sitting, […]

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carob truffles (dairy/grain/nut free)

From Lauren: Today’s recipe is from Samantha at Sweet Potatoes and Social Change. I asked her to share a recipe with you immediately after I found her site and fell in love with her other autoimmune-friendly recipes, particularly her AIP Chicken and Dumplings

Raspberry Carob Truffles

My very first job, outside of babysitting and pet sitting, was in a chocolate store. That seems a little funny to me now since I haven’t had more than a few bites of chocolate in over a year, but I was a sophomore in high school and I couldn’t think of a job more fun. It was a little local chocolate shop with all sorts of handmade confections.  The shelves were lined with everything from eggnog truffles in the winter to chocolate covered fruit in the summer. My job was to handle the customers, decorate the store and decorate the chocolate. In return, I got paid a little over five dollars an hour and was allowed to have a piece of chocolate or two per shift. Not a bad deal for a 16 year old in a small town. 

carob truffles (dairy/grain/nut free)While I’ve never had an overwhelmingly strong sweet tooth I absolutely love the intricacy of baking and making desserts. Don’t get me wrong, I love cooking every day meals too, but there is just something so artistic and beautiful about creating that perfect treat. That treat that makes you feel like you are spoiling yourself; experiencing something luxurious. 

However, if you are on any sort of a restricted diet for an extended period of time it can be easy to lose that sense of fun and excitement that comes with enjoying a special treat.  I have been following the autoimmune protocol for over a year now and while I have seen amazing improvements in my ulcerative colitis symptoms it can sometimes feel like I am only eating to heal rather than to enjoy the experience of food.  This feeling can become especially pronounced around holidays, when everyone else is indulging in sweets, eating out at restaurants, or drinking fancy cocktails.

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, I wanted to create a recipe that was both luxurious and safe for those of us seeking to enjoy the holiday without sacrificing any of our hard work. The result was even more fabulous than I could have imagined!

When I thought up the idea for this recipe I was somewhat skeptical of my ability to make it work, it has been a long time since those days in the chocolate shop, but I wanted to try. How could a truffle, free of chocolate, dairy, refined sugar, and nuts turn into something truly luxurious and indulgent? I set to work with excitement and reserve only to have these little beauties turn out perfectly on the first try! I took a bite of the first one and audibly squealed with delight! I gave one to my husband later and the next words out of his mouth were “are there more of these?!” 

If you are in the process of healing through diet and lifestyle changes, you have made a really difficult but rewarding commitment. True healing is not found in constantly “paleo-izing” treats or solely eliminating certain foods. Elimination must be paired with the addition of nourishing, nutrient dense foods like bone broth, leafy greens and grass-fed meat. However, I strongly believe that long term healing is also found in feeling satisfied as well as nourished. So, this Valentine’s Day don’t eye those cheesy heart shaped boxes of chocolates with looks of longing and depravation, whip up a batch of these lovely truffles and indulge in the fact that healing never tasted so good!

Paleo Raspberry Carob Truffles

Yield: 17 - 20 truffles

Paleo Raspberry Carob Truffles

This truffles feature carob powder, which tastes similar to cocoa powder. Many people describe it as slightly sweeter and more earthy than cocoa. The creamy raspberry filling is enrobed in a carob shell. This recipe is Autoimmune Paleo friendly.

Ingredients

    Filling
  • ¼ cup of coconut oil
  • ¼ cup of honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ cup of coconut butter, available here
  • 2 ½ cups of frozen raspberries
  • 4 TBS of tapioca starch, available here
  • ¼ cup of carob powder, available here
  • ¼ cup of coconut flour, available here
  • Shell
  • Shell:
  • 1 cup of coconut oil
  • ½ cup of carob powder, available here
  • 6 TBS honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
  • pinch of sea salt

Instructions

  1. In a medium to large saucepan, over medium heat, combine all of your filling ingredients except for the tapioca and coconut flour. Stir occasionally until everything is warm and well combined.
  2. Pour the mixture into your food processor, add in the tapioca and coconut flour and blend until smooth. Place this mixture into the fridge and allow it to cool completely (about one hour). Once it has cooled make your shell.
  3. To make the shell, make sure your coconut oil is liquefied but not hot. If you need to heat it up to melt it and then allow it to cool for a minute or two, do so. Place all of your shell ingredients into a medium sized bowl and mix with a spoon until all of the ingredients are incorporated and the mixture is smooth. This can take a few minutes, but you want to make sure there aren’t any clumps.
  4. Using a cookie scoop or a spoon roll the raspberry filling into small balls and dip them into the shell mixture. Place each ball onto a parchment paper lined plate or cookie sheet and allow the shell to harden (this will happen quickly). Once the shell has hardened, dip the balls into the shell mixture a second time and cover completely.
  5. Place the plate or cookie sheet in the fridge or freezer for another 10-15 minutes and then enjoy. Store the truffles in the fridge or freezer.
http://empoweredsustenance.com/carob-truffles/

 Sweetpotatoes and Social Change 4About Samantha at Sweet Potatoes and Social Change

Samantha is the author of the blog Sweet Potatoes and Social Change. She writes about simple living and healing her autoimmune condition through diet and lifestyle. Outside of writing she is also a wife and a childbirth doula. You can follow her blog on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter

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Non-Toxic Bakeware Solutions http://empoweredsustenance.com/non-toxic-bakeware/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/non-toxic-bakeware/#comments Tue, 03 Feb 2015 13:12:17 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=8591 My Non-Toxic Bakeware Picks Non-toxic bakeware is a key component of reducing the chemical burden on your body. Perhaps you’ve reduced your intake of processed foods and switched to non-toxic body care products, but have you considered the toxins in your bakeware? When it comes to non-toxic bakeware,  my philosophy is: Better safe than sorry […]

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non-toxic bakeware solutions

My Non-Toxic Bakeware Picks

Non-toxic bakeware is a key component of reducing the chemical burden on your body. Perhaps you’ve reduced your intake of processed foods and switched to non-toxic body care products, but have you considered the toxins in your bakeware?

When it comes to non-toxic bakeware,  my philosophy is:

  1. Better safe than sorry when it comes to questionable materials.
  2. Buy fewer and higher quality pieces that will last.

Here are my tips for economically stocking your kitchen with non-toxic bakeware!

Aluminum foil

I didn’t realize how frequently I used aluminum foil until I decided to eliminate it from my pantry a few years ago. I would line baking sheets with it and store food wrapped in it.

Aluminum is a heavy metal controversially linked to neurological disease, including Alzheimer’s. In one study, a variety of meats were cooked in aluminum foil. Researchers found that aluminum leached into all the meats cooked. They concluded, “there are no evident risks to the health of the consumer from using aluminum foil to cook meats. However, eating meals prepared in aluminum foil may carry a risk to the health by adding to other aluminum sources.”

Instead of using foil to line baking sheets, now I reach for this unbleached parchment paper (bonus: you can toss the used paper into the compost bin and you save on scrubbing your baking dishes).

Baking sheets

non-toxic bakeware solutionsWhen I was detoxing my kitchen a few years ago, I went to Sur La Table searching for safe baking sheets and, even at this well-stocked culinary store, only found coated aluminum and non-coated aluminum options. Why aren’t these safe options?

As I just discussed, I don’t want my food touching aluminum, since that is where the issue of leaching arises. But non-stick and coated aluminum bakeware is an even worse option, since they offgass toxic fumes when heated. Non-stick coating contains PFCs (perfluorinated compounds), a group of toxic chemicals. Two of the most common types of perfluorinated compounds include  PFOA (perfluorooctonoic acid) and PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate), both of which are considered by the EPA to be a likely human carcinogen. PFC exposure is also linked to low sperm counts, thyroid disease, liver and kidney damage, and reproductive problems. 

There are three options for safe baking sheets:

1. Stainless steel baking sheets – difficult to find in stores, so I found mine here at Amazon

2. Cover non-coated aluminum baking sheets with unbleached parchment paper, so you food isn’t touching the aluminum. The parchment paper can be used in ovens up to 425 degrees.

3. Stoneware baking sheets – Personally, I’ve not used stoneware bakeware. However, a reader suggested it on my Facebook post discussing non-toxic bakings. The key, evidently, is sourcing lead-free and American-made stoneware. This article from Weston Price is helpful.

Cake pans and baking dishes

Once again, the primary culprits here are aluminum and non-stick coating. Here is what I use for non-toxic bakeware:

Waffle iron

The most common question I received on the Grain Free Apple Waffles I shared was, “What is a safe waffle iron?”  To avoid at the non-stick coating on regular waffle irons, you can use this cast-iron waffle pan.

Is silicone bakeware safe?

I appreciated my friend Katie’s (Wellness Mama’s) post on baking with silicone. She believes the safety testing on heating silicone at high temperatures is not adequate. Because I’m on the fence about baking with silicon, I don’t bake in it. I do use silicon molds for unheated preparations, such as ice cubes, chocolates, and homemade gummies.

Do you use these non-toxic bakeware options? Any other suggestions? 

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Tigernut Milk: A Dairy/Nut/Seed Free Milk Alternative http://empoweredsustenance.com/tigernut-milk/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/tigernut-milk/#comments Wed, 28 Jan 2015 22:53:12 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=8319 I’m feeling like a trailblazer in the blogging world right now by highlighting tigernuts. A few weeks ago, I shared grain free tigernut pancakes, and this week I’m sharing tigernut milk (okay, stop laughing at the name…) There are pros and cons to paving the way with tigernut recipes. Pros: I have the thrill of applauding the […]

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tigernut milk - a dairy/nut/seed free milk alternative

I’m feeling like a trailblazer in the blogging world right now by highlighting tigernuts. A few weeks ago, I shared grain free tigernut pancakes, and this week I’m sharing tigernut milk (okay, stop laughing at the name…) There are pros and cons to paving the way with tigernut recipes.

Pros: I have the thrill of applauding the benefits of this ingredient before everyone else jumps on the bandwagon. Cons: I may get sick of tigernuts soon, after all the recipe experimentation over the past week.

Recap of tigernut benefits

  •  Tigernuts are non-allergenic, with no reported allergies in two million years… that’s a pretty good track record!
  • When it comes to paleo-friendly foods, tigernuts take the (grain free and dairy free) cake. Research from Oxford showed that tigernuts fueled up to 80% of paleolithic man’s diet.
  • Tigernuts are the highest source of resistant starch, an elusive type of fiber that is feeds for the good bacteria in the digestive tract.
  • Tigernuts are concentrated nuggets of nutrition and include a balance of protein, fats and carbs. Interestingly, the fat profile is very similar to olive oil, which has been heavily studied for its heart-health benefits. (Read more about these benefits in this post)

Tired of almond milk? Try Tigernut Milk!

While I believe raw milk boasts unique health benefits, dairy isn’t tolerated by everyone. Many people reach for nut or seed milks as an alternative to dairy milk.

I do not recommend the nut/seed milks available in cartons at the store. These contain a slew of problematic ingredients including:

Instead, I recommend making homemade nut or seed milks, so you can control the ingredients.

Tigernut milk is a creamy beverage with the sweet, toasty flavor of tigernuts. It’s delicious chilled, but you can also use it in your tea or coffee. I also recommend using it in smoothies to enjoy the flavor.

Tigernut Milk

Yield: Makes about 3 1/2 cups of milk

Tigernut Milk

Want an alternative to dairy milk, nut milk or coconut milk? This creamy beverage features an ancient and nutrient-dense tuber called tigernuts. Enjoy sipping this milk chilled, or use it in your favorite smoothie recipe to highlight the naturally sweet, toasty flavor of the tigernuts.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup tigernuts, available here
  • 4 cups filtered water (this is the water filter I use to remove chlorine and fluoride)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract, optional
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 Tbs. maple syrup, raw honey or other preferred sweetener, optional
  • Pinch of unrefined salt
  • Materials required
  • A nut milk bag, available here
  • A high powered blender (I use a Ninja blender)

Instructions

  1. Place the tigernuts and the water in a bowl, cover with a cloth, and place at room temperature for 24 - 48 hours. The tigernuts will soften and become more crunchy.
  2. Pour the soaking water (which will lend a bit more flavor to the finished beverage) and the soaked tigernuts in a blender. Blend on high speed for about a minute, until the mixture looks creamy with small bits of tigernut pulp.Add the vanilla, cinnamon, salt and sweetener if using.
  3. Strain the milk through the nutmilk bag into a container. Squeeze as much liquid as possible from the tigernut pulp.
  4. Don't toss the nutrient-rich tigernut pulp! It it full of the beneficial resistant starch. Reserve the pulp for the suggestions below.
  5. Chill the tigernut milk before serving. It lasts a few days in the fridge.
http://empoweredsustenance.com/tigernut-milk/

tigernut milk - a dairy/nut/seed free milk alternative

Save the tigernut milk pulp!

tigernut milk - a dairy/nut/seed free milk alternativeIf you’ve made nut or seed milk before, you know you get two components from the process: the milk and the pulp. The cardinal rule of making your own nut milk? Don’t toss the nutrient-dense pulp!

You’ll find that the tigernut pulp taste a bit bland and dry, since much of the flavor has been squeezed out of it. But it’s still a rich source of resistant starch. Store the leftover pulp in an airtight container in the fridge.

Here are some ways you can repurpose the pulp:

  • Make a topping for yogurt, custard or porridge by blending the pulp with a bit of cinnamon and shredded coconut.
  • I haven’t tried it, but you could probably use the tigernut pulp in recipes calling for almond pulp. I’m thinking about these raw almond pulp cookies!
  • Add a big spoonful of the pulp to your smoothie for a nutrient boost.
  • Make energy balls by blending the pulp with some dates or other dried fruit and nuts/seeds of choice. Roll into truffle-sized balls and store in the fridge.

Have you tried tigernuts yet? Do you make homemade nut milk? 

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5 Unique Benefits of Collagen Protein Powder http://empoweredsustenance.com/benefits-of-collagen-protein/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/benefits-of-collagen-protein/#comments Thu, 22 Jan 2015 14:00:11 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=8486 I debated using the term  “protein powder” in the title of this post, because I feel that doesn’t do justice to collagen. Collagen is so much more bang for your buck without the questionable processing steps or additives of popular protein powders. But looking at collagen from the perspective of protein, it is a highly adaptable way to increase […]

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5 benefits of collagen protein powder

I debated using the term  “protein powder” in the title of this post, because I feel that doesn’t do justice to collagen. Collagen is so much more bang for your buck without the questionable processing steps or additives of popular protein powders. But looking at collagen from the perspective of protein, it is a highly adaptable way to increase your intake of highly digestible, nutrient-dense protein.

This post is kindly sponsored by Vital Proteins. As you know, I only work with companies when I’ve had an extremely positive experience with their product, when I’ve personally spoken with the founder(s), and when I admire the integrity of the company.

What is Vital Proteins Collagen?

5 benefits of collagen protein powder

Vital Proteins offers two forms of collagen – one that gels (gelatin) and one that dissolves instantly and can be used as a protein powder.

Before getting into the benefits of their collagen, it’s important to understand the difference between Vital Protein’s Collagen Peptides and Vital Protein’s Collagen Protein (gelatin).

Collagen Peptides –  (Blue lid) These peptides are derived from gelatin, and contain the same amino acids as gelatin. The main difference is use – the peptides dissolve instantly in hot or cold liquids without gelling for an easy nutrition boost.

Collagen Protein – (Green lid)  Think gelatin. Remember, it has the same nutritional benefits of collagen peptides because it is the same amino acids. However, collagen protein can be used to make homemade jello or gummies because it gels.

How does Vital Proteins compare to other grassfed collagen?

First, I want to address the primary question that popped into my head when I was introduced to Vital Proteins: “Why Vital Proteins over that other brand of grassfed gelatin I’ve been using and recommending?”

If you are familiar with many of the recipes I’ve shared, such as my Tulsi Gelee and Coconut Flour Pancakes with Gelatin, you’ll likely have seen my recommendation for Great Lakes grassfed gelatin.

After discussing this question with Vital Proteins, I was impressed with their graciousness and honesty. Here’s how Vital Proteins sets themselves apart: 

  • Single-sourced pasture-raised bovine hide from Brazil. Unlike gelatin and collagen sourced from Argentina, where cattle are typically grain finished, Vital Proteins is sourced from cattle grazing on perennial tropical grass pasture systems. Vital Proteins also ensures the pasture size for each animal is at least 2.67 acres, the standard of the Global Animal Partnership’s 5-step Animal Welfare Rating Standards.
  • Non-BPA, air-tight canisters prevent moisture. They hermetically induction seal their canisters to prevent any moisture from entering. Collagen is very hygroscopic and without this protection, the collagen will start to degrade due to bacteria. Cardboard canisters are more susceptible to moisture and contamination from odors and chemicals. 
  • Excellent customer service, no back orders, and free shipping on all orders. 

I’m a loyal convert to Vital Proteins. Now, here are some of the unique benefits of collagen!

collagen protein powder nutrition

1. Collagen supports skin health

Vital Proteins has collected significant research showing that ingestion of collagen supports skin health and rejuvenation. According to Vital Protein’s discussion on collagen and skin health,

When collagen is digested, the peptides are attracted to cells that synthesize collagen in the human body, fibroblasts, and are the most common cells of connective tissues in the skin. Collagen peptides may bring about the production and reorganization of new collagen fibers by stimulating the fibroblasts cells. Furthermore, some studies show that collagen peptides increase the density and diameter of collagen fibrils in the dermis and may improve the strength of skin. (Sources)

I was excited but not surprised to learn that clinical studies show that daily consumption of collagen significantly improves skin elasticity and moisture. I emphasize my collagen intake during the winter, when I feel like my skin needs extra support from the dry air.

2. Collagen supports balanced hormones

The interesting research on gelatin proteins and hormones comes from controversial health researcher Dr. Ray Peat. I think Dr. Peat has many excellent points, although I also keep in mind bioindividuality when reading his more controversial work.

In one of his articles, Dr. Peat writes,

Gelatin is a protein which contains no tryptophan, and only small amounts of cysteine, methionine, and histidine. Using gelatin as a major dietary protein is an easy way to restrict the amino acids that are associated with many of the problems of aging.[…]

When only the muscle meats are eaten, the amino acid balance entering our blood stream is the same as that produced by extreme stress, when cortisol excess causes our muscles to be broken down to provide energy and material for repair. The formation of serotonin is increased by the excess tryptophan in muscle, and serotonin stimulates the formation of more cortisol, while the tryptophan itself, along with the excess muscle-derived cysteine, suppresses the thyroid function.

[…]If a person eats a large serving of meat, it’s probably helpful to have 5 or 10 grams of gelatin at approximately the same time, so that the amino acids enter the blood stream in balance. (Read more)

By helping to balance the tryptophan, collagen can supports healthy thyroid function and reduces the metabolic stress of increased cortisol. Thyroid and metabolism go hand-in-hand, so gelatin may actually increase metabolism by improving thyroid function.

3. Collagen supports bone and joint health

Collagen makes up to 90% of bone mass, and several studies indicate that taking collagen internally can improve bone metabolism.  When it comes to building bone density, conventional medicine often looks solely at calcium. This is a tremendous mistake, because cofactors in bone metabolism such as vitamin K2, vitamin D and magnesium are as important – if not more so – than calcium intake for bone health. I recently discussed this topic in my post, 3 Reasons Why I Avoid Calcium Supplements.

Collagen supplementation is likely another key factor in improving bone health along with other vitamin and mineral cofactors. The research Vital Proteins has collected on collagen and bone shows that the presence of collagen peptides stimulate osteoblasts, the cells responsible for bone formation.

Studies also suggest that collagen supplementation can improve joint pain. In these studies, those with the most severe joint damage benefited the most (sources).

4. Collagen supports digestion and satiety

5 benefits of collagen protein powderI’m not a fan of protein powders, because they are often highly processed and not well-absorbed forms of protein. Collagen peptides, on the other hand, are one of my favorite ways to boost my protein intake and create nutrient-dense protein shakes. Collagen peptides are essentially pure protein: two scoops of Vital Proteins collagen provides 18 grams of protein!

Interestingly, studies show that collagen peptides consumed at breakfast are 40% more satiating than other proteins (such as whey or soy) and correlate to a 20% reduction of food intake at lunch. (Sources).

Additionally, the amino acids in collagen provide unique soothing and reparative properties for the digestive tract. The high concentration of the amino acid glycine stimulates stomach acid production and thereby improves digestion and nutrient assimilation. Low stomach acid is a chronic problem that leads to a cascade of symptoms in the entire body, so increasing stomach acid often alleviates a host of issues. (Source.)

If I feel ill and not able to digest heavy foods, I’ll often fortify my tea with coconut oil and collagen for highly-digestible nourishment.

5. Collagen is an extremely versatile addition

Unlike Vital Protein’s grassfed gelatin, their collagen peptides do not gel when added to cold liquid. It dissolves completely, and is tasteless and odorless. The only time I detect a hint of flavor is when I take it in plain water (which works in a pinch, but I wouldn’t recommend it). Instead, suggest mixing it into your beverages.

Here are some of the various ways that I incorporate Vital Proteins collagen into my day:

  • Blended into fruit smoothies
  • Stirred into anti-inflammatory Golden Milk, made with coconut milk and turmeric
  • Mixed into homemade bone broth, to boost the collagen already in the bone broth
  • In coffee and tea
  • In homemade ice cream (stir in a spoonful or two before processing in the ice cream maker)

Vital Proteins Coupon

I now you’ve been waiting for this, and here it is… the coupon information!

Vital Proteins is generously offering 20% off any order, plus the FREE shipping which they always offer.

Use coupon code: EMPOWERED-2015-2A8C It expires February 16th. I know you’ll enjoy Vital Proteins as much as I do!

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Banana Autoimmune Paleo Muffins http://empoweredsustenance.com/autoimmune-paleo-muffins/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/autoimmune-paleo-muffins/#comments Wed, 21 Jan 2015 21:22:12 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=8551 From Lauren: This post for Autoimmune Paleo Muffins comes from Martine Partridge at The Paleo Partridge. I asked Martine to share a recipe with you after I fell in love with the beautiful and delicious autoimmune-friendly recipes on her site. Banana Autoimmune Paleo Muffins Pumpkin, banana, cranberry, cinnamon, you name it: muffins are mainstream. We see […]

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Banana + blueberry autoimmune paleo muffins

From Lauren: This post for Autoimmune Paleo Muffins comes from Martine Partridge at The Paleo Partridge. I asked Martine to share a recipe with you after I fell in love with the beautiful and delicious autoimmune-friendly recipes on her site.

Banana Autoimmune Paleo Muffins

Pumpkin, banana, cranberry, cinnamon, you name it: muffins are mainstream. We see them packaged up at convenience stores and coffee shops. We find many a muffin mix at the supermarket. We are likely offered muffins along with the usual cup o’ joe at those tedious early-morning work meetings.

Banana + blueberry autoimmune paleo muffinsAnd yet, in spite of their popularity, I haven’t nommed on a muffin in quite some time. Since starting paleo and then especially since committing to AIP, muffins have been nonexistent in my repertoire of things to eat.

And while I certainly don’t miss the icky, inflammatory ingredients of processed muffins, I do at times miss their snackability. So I got to thinking, why not an AIP-friendly muffin?

After many test kitchen trial runs, I’m pleased to share this wonderful recipe for banana muffins here on Empowered Sustenance!

Baking without eggs presents a challenge, to say the least, so I’m especially excited by the consistency of these muffins. They aren’t crumbly, which make them perfect for portable snacks. They freeze well, which I do since the consumption of too much coconut flour can be troublesome for even the most stalwart stomachs. And they are, simply put, delicious! Even the non-paleo peeps enjoy snacking on these muffins.

Banana Autoimmune Paleo Muffins

Yield: Makes 10-12 muffins

Banana Autoimmune Paleo Muffins

Muffins without grains, dairy, nuts/seeds and eggs? Yes, it's possible! These nourishing Banana Muffins feature coconut flour and use gelatin as an egg substitute. I recommend using a high-quality grassfed gelatin for the recipe, this is the brand I love.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 c coconut flour, available here
  • ¼ c arrowroot flour, available here
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 bananas, mashed (Make sure they are yellow but slightly green; very ripe bananas do not work well)
  • 1/3 c coconut or palm oil, melted
  • ¼ c applesauce (pure, unsweetened)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ c water, plus 1 tbsp gelatin (a.k.a. gelatin “egg”) (recommended gelatin available here)
  • Optional variations
  • Gently fold in 2-3 tbsp of fresh blueberries after mixing in the gelatin egg
  • Or if you are not following AIP, you could add in the same amount of mini chocolate chips.

Instructions

  1. Line muffin tin with parchment paper liners. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix the coconut flour, arrowroot flour, sea salt, cinnamon, and baking soda together in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. In another bowl using an electric mixer, combine the mashed bananas, melted oil, applesauce, and vanilla. Mix well.
  4. In a small saucepan, add the ¼ c water and sprinkle the gelatin over the water. Allow this to sit for about two minutes.
  5. While the gelatin is “blooming,” add the dry ingredients to the banana mixture and beat until combined.
  6. Turning your attention back to the saucepan, turn the heat to medium-low to melt the gelatin. This takes about one minute. Then whisk until very frothy. Work quickly. Add this to the batter, and stir.
  7. Using heaping tablespoon measures to drop the batter into your prepared muffin tin.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes until lightly golden on top.
  9. This recipe makes 10-12 muffins. They are delicious served hot from the oven – no need to cool down as they hold together so well.
http://empoweredsustenance.com/autoimmune-paleo-muffins/

About Martine Partridge

martineMartine Partridge is an eater of paleo and AIP food. She is also a combatter of Crohn’s Disease. When Martine isn’t ogling food photos or creating scrumptious paleo and AIP dishes to share with friends and family, she is practicing yoga, reading a novel, hanging with her darling husband and sweet pup. She is forever grateful to her parents for their unconditional love and incredible support, especially through the darkest days of dealing with Crohn’s Disease. Martine also admires and applauds the strength and inspiration of her fellow AI warriors who refuse to let disease define them and who continue to fight against autoimmunity. For more food and AIP-lifestyle ideas, follow Martine’s blog, thepaleopartridge.com, and check her out on Instagram, @the_paleo_partridge, Twitter, @PaleoPartridge, as well as on her Facebook Page, The Paleo Partridge.

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