Welcome to Cultivating Health! If you haven’t done so already, sign up for Juicy News, my monthly e-newsletter that gives you practical health and nutrition tips that will have a profound impact on your health and happiness if you’re ready for change. Juicy News topics include:
- menu planning
- digestive issues
- hormonal imbalances
- adrenal fatigue & stress
- cravings (especially sugar cravings)
- playful eating
- work-life balance
Of course, there is always a delicious, seasonal recipe in there, too!
In addition to juicy health tid bits, you will receive invitations to special events including nutrition playshops, cooking demos and classes and PLAY events.
As a token of my appreciation, you will receive a free 15 minute phone consult AND my Top Kitchen Tips & Tricks to save you time and aggravation and bring the fun back into meal prep.
Here’s to cultivating YOUR health!
For some, this beautiful time of year can be a nightmare. Trees, flowers and grasses are in full bloom, but so are the sinuses and even asthma for many folks. Most allergy sufferers reach for their favorite prescription medication, when in many cases allergy symptoms could be reduced significantly or altogether through a few dietary changes.
Let’s backup for just a minute. During the winter months, our bodies become depleted, congested and even inflamed. The adrenal glands become fatigued and can’t quell the inflammation. Healthy adrenals act as a natural steroid to reduce inflammation and allergic reactions in the body. Furthermore, the liver is so congested that it can’t process toxins efficiently and they build up in our body. As a result, our immune systems tend to react more to the environment than normal and produce excess histamines that the body can’t keep up with for long without experiencing symptoms. Spring allergies are a perfect example of this.
This is one of the reasons why detoxification is so important this time of year. I have had clients forget they even had spring allergies while detoxing. The moment they eat those trigger foods after the detox, allergy symptoms came back with a vengeance. For more information about detoxification, please check out this post.
If you have spring allergies, I recommend you stick to a whole foods diet full of fruits and vegetables. Cut processed foods out and avoid or significantly reduce the following:
- flour and products made with flour
- coffee and black tea
If you still don’t find relief, you may need to consider a low-histamine diet for a period of time during the height of the allergy season. You will need to avoid the following:
- Meat, especially processed, cured, smoked and fermented meats
- Fish (unless the fish is freshly caught, gutted and cooked within a 1/2 hour of eating)
- Eggs (a small quantity used as binder for a dish is okay)
- Fermented milk products such as cheese, yogurt, buttermilk, kefir
- Citrus fruits
- Fruits such as apricots, cherries, cranberries, currants, dates, grapes, pineapples, prunes, raisins, strawberries
- Tomatoes and tomato products such as ketchup
- Red Beans
- Soy and soy products
- Pickles, relishes and other vinegar containing foods
- Food additives
- Food preservatives such as benzoates and sulphites
- Spices such as anise, cinnamon, cloves, chili powder, curry powder and nutmeg
- Fermented foods (such as soy sauce, sauerkraut and miso)
Experiment with these suggestions and see if your symptoms improve this allergy season!
In addition, I have found the following supplements to be helpful for spring allergy suffers:
- nettles (a combination of capsule, tincture and tea can be very helpful)
- vitamin C
- B complex
- licorice root (be careful – if overused can increase blood pressure)
- local honey
I personally take Design for Health’s Quercetin & Nettles formula. If you’re interested in trying it, shoot me an email and I’ll send you my ordering code.
The trick with these supplements is that you need to start taking them about a month before allergy season kicks in so they have time to build up in your system. In addition to foods and supplements, it’s important to get the body moving daily to process those allergens and other toxins! Also, I recommend rinsing your nasal passages with a neti pot regularly.
Have you identified any foods that trigger your spring allergies? Are there any natural remedies that you have used to soothe your allergies that you would like to share? Please feel free to comment below.
Feeling bloated, heavy and fatigued? There are a variety of uncomfortable and annoying symptoms related to toxic buildup. Detoxing is your answer to feeling more energy, clarity and even to kick start weight loss!
In this teleclass series, you will get the tools needed to incorporate a gentle, yet effective cleansing program into your spring cleaning routine, and detox your mind and body with the help of an experienced Certified Health Coach and Nutritional Consultant.
During this four week program, you will spend one week easing into and planning for the detox, two weeks detoxing and exploring play and other forms of self-nourishment and one week re-introducing foods and preparing the body for a healthy new routine. This is a great way to renew and rejuvenate your body and spirit! Learn more about detoxification and it’s benefits in this recording.
This teleseries includes the Cultivating Health Cleanse Playbook which includes:
- Detox strategies
- Sample Menu Plans
- Detox Supply List (food and self care items)
- Supplement Recommendations
- Strategies to Enhance Your Body’s Detox Power
- Detox Resources
For an additional $100, sign up for a 1.5 hour nutrition consultation to personalize your detox experience and hone in on your unique health and nutrition needs. The consultation includes a Holistic Health Plan outlining food, supplement and lifestyle recommendations to empower you to improve your health and happiness!
Dates: Mondays, March 24 – April 14
Location: Your couch!
Investment: $90 or $190 with personalized nutrition consultation
Register by: March 21
Feel free to post your questions below. For a list of all of my upcoming events, please visit the playshop page.
Yesterday I attended a corporate health fair and whipped up this delicious seasonal smoothie inspired by a recipe from The Healthy Apple. You know I LOVE me some fruit smoothies with herbs. Mmmmmm! This zinger of a recipe included cilantro which I’ve never used in a fruit smoothie. I was intrigued to say the least! So I picked up some organic cilantro from Calvert Farm s and then headed on down to Shlagel Farms in Waldorf, MD to get the themed ingredient for the event – strawberries! In addition to the smoothie, I made a Balsamic Chicken Strawberry and Goat Cheese Salad.
So why was I so excited to find a recipe with cilantro? Oh let me count the ways! Cilantro has astringent and cooling properties which makes it a great detoxifier and an potent anti-inflammatory. It’s soothing to the digestive system and can help alleviate mental stres, headaches, arthritis and rheumatism. Loaded with phytonutrients, this natural chelator of heavy metals also has anti-microbial properties.
Bottom line – use cilantro with abandon!
In addition to adding it to smoothies, try it in cold soups, salads, egg dishes and even make pesto with it. Of course guacomole is one of my favorite ways to enjoy it.
Now without further ado, here is that tastebud tantalizing recipe:
Strawberry Cilantro Coconut Smoothie
Inspired by The Healthy Apple
- 1 cup fresh strawberries, stems removed
- ¼ cup cashew butter
- ½ cup oats, soaked
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1 TBSP maple syrup, raw honey or coconut crystals
- 1 TBSP coconut butter
- ¼ cup finely chopped cilantro
- handful of spinach (optional)
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ cup ice cubes
1. Combine all ingredients in a blender; blend until smooth. Transfer to serving glasses.
2. Serve chilled.
- You can substitute soaked cashews for cashew butter
- You can substitute coconut flakes for coconut butter
- You can substitute frozen strawberries for fresh and skip the ice cubes.
- You can substitute ¼ tsp stevia for other sweeteners.
- Party-up this healthy smoothie with the addition of rum (this will counterbalance the detoxifying effects, however) 🙂
What are your favorite ways to use cilantro? Please share them here!
Chelsea and I just started week two of the PLAYdetox at the Glenn Dale Community Center. We checked in with our awesome detoxers after week 1 which was all about getting mentally and physically prepared. To be honest, week 1 is no joke. And, if you ask the beautiful women we are working with this month, they will confirm! Each participant had a different way of approaching their prep week to get their bodies and minds in the right place for the adventure that was about to start.
So what does prep week look like?
Well, before you even decide to take the plunge, take a look at your schedule and see if this program is even feasible for you at this time. If you have a family vacation coming up or a business trip, it’s not that it can’t be done, it just makes life more difficult. Personally, I like to cleanse when I know I can cook in my own kitchen for the most part. Also, I find it challenging to eat slightly steamed veggies and legumes when my family is chowing down on crab cakes and sweet potato fries while enjoying a microbrew. Actually, I get downright cranky.
Also, detoxing is not for everyone. If someone is deficient and experiencing illness or burned out adrenals, their body needs to be built up before it can muster the energy to cleanse efficiently. Generally, it’s best to just put these folks on a whole foods diet that isn’t terribly restrictive. Pump ’em with organic veggies, legumes and high quality animal proteins and fats. Dump the sugar and flour.
The next important step is to start to prepare the mind and the body for day 1. Now some people go with the “let’s go crazy before we have to give up everything” approach, but unfortunately, for those addicted to caffeine and or sugar, it can make day 1 seem like a near death experience. Use this week to add more vegetables into the diet and reduce or even cut out poor foods such as sugar, refined carbs and coffee. It’s also a great time to try out detox recipes and channel Goldilocks to perfect your gluten-free breakfast porridge. During the experimentation phase, the porridge can look and taste like mushy gruel until you get it JUST RIGHT. Sometimes people find combinations that blow their minds. This is the goal of week 1. You gotta have something fun in the morning to get you going (literally and figuratively). And of course, you need to make time to shop for your food and supplements.
Now food is only one part of the detox experience. Our lymphatic system, which is basically the sewer system of the body, often gets bogged down by rancid fats, undigested proteins, dead blood cells, toxins, opportunistic bacteria and other pathogens. It’s an integral part of our immune system that needs to be cleaned and moved. Unlike our circulatory system which is always pumping due to our amazing hearts, the lymphatic system can only be stimulated by muscle movement. So what are you supposed to do? Figure out how you’re going to get your butt moving during the detox! Exercise, massage, foam rolling and dry brushing are great techniques for moving lymph.
Because PLAYdetox is a holistic approach to cleansing the body, we also have to consider the mind. Often we allow our thoughts to be hijacked by Negative Nancy. You know who I’m talkin’ ’bout! Nancy says things like, “I’m not smart enough, pretty enough, coordinated enough, strong enough, disciplined enough, creative enough, yadda, yadda, yadda. We doubt ourselves and never feel like we are good enough which is ridiculous. This kind of stress is more toxic to the body than a McFlurry.
So, just like you give your body tons of yummy, energizing veggies during a detox, you also need to pump that mind full of playful, sexy, super thoughts about you and your fabulous life. Chelsea and I enjoy creating affirmations and intention statements with our our participants, weekly. We also incorporate deep breathing and introduce a play menu in week 1 to relax the mind and soothe the soul. It’s a great time to internalize those powerful affirmations.
So let’s hear from you! If you were to detox, when would be a good time to start this spring, and what kind of intention statement would you create for yourself?
Although our bodies detoxify naturally on a daily basis, it’s not enough to clear out the stagnation we experience from junk food, overeating, pesticides on our food, pollution, stress, medications and other harmful chemicals in our environment.
Even if you’re a healthy eater, you would be surprised at the amount of toxins that work their way into our bodies.
For example, I have clients that are conscious eaters; however, the body care products they use are very toxic which is problematic considering the skin is one of the body’s largest organs. So think twice before you slather on that artificially, fragrant lotion because the skin is permeable and chemicals will penetrate this barrier and seep into your bloodstream. Cheese and crackers. I know – sometimes the seemingly most benign things are no good. You feel like you can’t win and wonder what the heck you’re going to have to give up next!
The good news is that regular detoxification can keep your body running optimally and get rid of toxins stored in your fat tissue that you consciously or inadvertently introduced to your sexy self.
So how do you know when it’s time to detox? Here are a list of common signs and symptoms of toxicity:
- angers easily
- autoimmune disorders
- bad breath
- body odor
- coated tongue
- dark circles under the eyes
- dark colored urine
- difficulty losing or gaining weight
- foggy thinking
- frequent colds
- gum disease
- hormonal imbalances (i.e. hot flashes, PMS, night sweats, fibroids)
- high blood fats and elevated cholesterol
- hypoglycemia and blood sugar imbalances
- IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
- immune system weakness
- indigestion and heartburn
- irritated eyes
- itchy nose
- loss of skin elasticity
- oily skin
- puffiness around the eyes
- joint pains
- kidney stones
- mood swings
- muscle aches
- premature aging
- runny nose
- sinus congestion
- skin rashes
- sore throat
- stuffy nose
- swollen lymph nodes
- tight or stiff neck
- tiredness after meals
- varicose veins
Do any of those sound familiar? Don’t be alarmed if many of them sound familiar. Most of us are in the same toxic boat. If these symptoms haven’t convinced you that it’s time to get busy cleansing, be sure to check out my Top 5 Reasons to Detox.
If this post grabbed your attention, consider a gentle detoxification program this Spring. What do you have to lose? You may have to give up a few things and will most likely feel crappy for a day or three.
But, by the end of week one you will have so much more energy, clearer thinking and your digestive system will be working like a well-oiled machine sans bloating, constipation and other windy disturbances.
Of course weight loss is a bonus! My favorite thing about detoxing is that it educates us on what foods work for our bodies and how to transition into a healthier way of living. Of course, you won’t stick to the program all the time, but at least when you stray from your healthy habits, you will know what you’re getting yourself into and have the knowledge to correct it.
One of my favorite tried and true detox programs that I use both personally and with my clients is the whole foods-based plan in Elson Haas’ New Detox Diet.
Check it out and if it’s something you’re interested in trying, contact me about one of my upcoming group detox programs. It’s a supportive, informative and we always have a good time learning about ourselves and each other. And believe it or not, once you get into the groove, you’ll feel like awesome sauce.
The liver is the largest organ and is the “king” of the detoxification organs. In addition to its detoxification function, the liver also helps us with the following:
- produces bile which emulsifies fats and prepares them for digestion
- produces cholesterol which is the basic molecule that forms our sex hormones
- processes a variety of nutrients and turns them into their active forms that are used by the body most efficiently
- stores a variety of vitamins and minerals
- metabolizes amino acids (protein) and fatty acids (fat)
- stores and releases glycogen (stored carbohydrate energy)
- regulates blood sugar levels
- produces blood clotting factors and other components of the blood
As you can see, it’s very important to take care of your liver so it can continue to do these powerful functions!
Unfortunately, certain lifestyle choices and conditions can cause the liver to become sluggish including:
- regular use of alcohol or recreational drugs
- chemical exposure
- high use of pharmaceutical drugs
- a junk food diet full of additives and devoid of nutrients and fiber – especially sugar and other refined carbohydrates
- excess fat and protein intake – in particular, poor fats such as heated vegetable oils and trans-fats
- toxic bowel and Candida albicans (yeast) overgrowth
Signs of a congested liver include:
- acne, rashes, psoriasis and other skin conditions
- elevated blood cholesterol
- dry skin
- very dark urine
- achy joints and muscles
- headaches and sinus problems
- foggy thinking
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s time for a detox! I’ll be writing more about detoxification in coming posts, but in the meantime, try these five simple steps:
- Increase fruit and veggie intake, especially dark and bitter leafy greens.
- Reduce congesting foods such as sugars, refined carbs and dairy.
- Drink more water! (You should be drinking half your weight in ounces every day. So if you weigh 150, you should be drinking 75 ounces of water each day.)
- Drink a liver flush formula as soon as you wake up! (See below for details.)
- Get to bed by 11pm because that’s when the liver begins its peak hours of functioning.
Liver Flush Tonic
Enjoy this cocktail first thing in the morning and follow with 8oz of plain water. You can repeat four or more times throughout the day. Alternating the tonic with apple cider vinegar and/or chlorophyll in water work well, too.
- 1 cup grapefruit or fresh apple juice
- 4-6 TBSP fresh lemon juice
- 2-3 TBSP EVOO
- 1-3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- plain water
I love gardening, but sometimes your best intentions can go awry. Last fall, I planted greens in my cold frame, but then I kind of…sort of…very much…completely forgot about them over the Holidays. Needless to say, the only drought survivors were a row of mache and a mess of chickweed. Knowing that chickweed (Stellaria media) is chock full of nutrients such as B6, B12, C, D, beta-carotene, iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese, sodium, copper, and silica, I knew that I had to do something with it. So I made a few nutrient recipes that I will share with you today!
Sauteed Chickweed & Cabbage
- 3 TBSP olive oil
- 1 TBSP balsamic vinegar
- tsp cayenne pepper
- 6 garlic cloves
- several handfuls of chickweed, chopped
- 2 cups cabbage, chopped
- dash of sea salt and pepper
- 1 tsp of cumin seeds
I sautéed the cabbage and chickweed in a little water for about 10 minutes or until tender and then added the rest of the ingredients and mixed. Joe prepared a side of venison to go along with our “wild” evening, and it was pretty darn tasty except that the chickweed was a little chewy. I should have removed the stems or used “younger” chickweed. Live and learn! The beauty of this dish is that you can use a variety of seasoning combinations. Think about how you like to prepare spinach and substitute chickweed. “Wildman” Steve Brill uses cumin, chiles, Brewer’s yeast and ground cloves in his “Chickweed Delight” recipe. I’ll have to try that next!
My next chickweed experiment this week was delicious! It was inspired by “Wildman” Steve Brill’s Chickweed Bean Spread.
- 2 cups soaked and cooked aduki beans
- 2 TBSP coconut vinegar
- 4 TBSP olive oil
- 2 tsp dried tarragon
- 2 tsp Lydia’s Organic Seasoning (a must have for your pantry!)
- 2 shallots
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 cup chickweed leaves
- small handful of chives
- ¼ cup of red miso
- juice of 1 lime
- sea salt and pepper to taste
I added the lime juice, miso, olive oil, shallot, garlic and seasonings to the food processor and pulsed for a bit. Then I added the aduki beans and processed for a minute or two. After the mixture became smooth, I added the chickweed and chives. Voila!
Unfortunately, according to my Facebook Friends, the picture of the pâté looks more like poop; however, I thought that was appropriate since chickweed is full of fiber which is helpful to elimination. 🙂
This morning, while writing this post, I sipped on fresh chickweed tea. While it tasted refreshing on its own, I added a lavender-lemon-mint tea for some extra kick. Just pour boiling water over a ¼ to ½ cup chickweed, cover and let steep for about 15 minutes. Because it’s so nutrient rich, this would be a wonderful concoction to accompany and detoxification program. In particular, it supports the kidneys. You could add other herbs and drink hot or pour over some ice for a truly refreshing beverage.
Baby got backed up?
With my upcoming PLAYdetox with Chelsea Calhoun of Groove Dance Fitness, I thought I’d use a few blog posts to highlight the process of detoxification and its importance to vibrant health. If you’re new to detoxing, you may wonder why you should consider it. Well, if you think about it, you cleanse many things including your home, car (unless you’re my husband…sorry, Cutie), garden and even the outside of your body (at least we hope so). Now, how often do you clean out your insides? Food poisoning, the flu and colonoscopies DO NOT count!
First, your organs need a break just like everything else, and the best way to rest your organs is to take pressure off of the digestive system. This can be accomplished by consuming 1)less food and 2)nutrient-dense foods that are easy to digest, nurture the body and support detoxification pathways. When you overuse the body, it starts to break down because it becomes overloaded and gunked up with toxins which create imbalances in the body’s organ systems. So think of detoxification as a way to reboot, renew and rejuvenate. We’ll talk more about supportive nutrient-dense foods in upcoming posts.
Secondly, we most likely need to detox because of either nutritional deficiencies or dietary excesses. We eat too many processed foods, yet we don’t consume enough nutrients. On top of it, the body has to steal nutrients from itself to deal with the “food-like” substances that we consume and other stressors such as pollution, pesticide exposure and a screaming boss or child. Finally, we over-consume food in general, particularly congesting foods such as sugar, refined flours, coffee, rancid fats and alcohol. These excessive foods cause inflammation, pain, sickness and excess acid in the body.
Thirdly, stress, negative thinking, food allergens, toxins, a sedentary lifestyle or too much exercise, dehydration and a poor diet contribute to excess acid in the body, thus disturbing its delicate pH balance. If you’ve been following the holistic health community, you probably have heard about the importance of alkalizing the body. This is because the body likes to keep the blood’s pH between 7.3 and 7.4. In particular, stress, negative thinking and refined foods cause the blood to become too acidic which depletes our cells of oxygen and damages cell membranes and tissues. Remember, we live and die at the cellular level so it’s important to take care of those cells! A sedentary lifestyle and dehydration further exacerbate the problem. This acidity and stagnation of wastes can cause a host of problems including weight gain, joint pain, arthritis, osteoporosis, headaches, migraines, brain fog, gout, acne, frequent colds and other illnesses, food allergies, cardiovascular disease, hormonal imbalances, infertility, yeast overgrowth, constipation and other bowel disorders, low energy, depression, kidney stones and diabetes.
Fourthly, we are inundated with environmental toxins. These chemicals can be found in our food, water supply, body care products, the air we breathe, carpets, furniture fabrics, mattresses, clothing, cars, household and gardening products, medications, plastics, paints, electronic devices and packaging. Here is a comprehensive list of the most common toxins found in our bodies. Not only do these toxins wreak havoc on the digestive system, but they often disrupt the endocrine (hormonal) and nervous systems and may eventually cause cancer. Symptoms of toxic exposure include fatigue, headache, allergies, illness, twitching eyelids, muscle aches, joint pain, vision loss, memory issues, brain fog, hair loss, swollen lymph nodes, sinusitis, loss of libido, impotence, sleep disturbances and skin eruptions. I bet you’re starting to see a pattern!
Fifthly, stress and negative thinking are the BIGGEST toxins out there. Some experts say that negative thoughts and emotions cause two to three more times acid build-up in the body then from the ingestion of acidic foods. Now, that is profound. So if you’re eating poorly and stressed out most of the time (hello, America), you’re setting yourself up for disaster. Regularly cleansing of the mind and the incorporation of affirmations, positive thoughts and/or prayers is imperative to maintaining good health and keeping serious illnesses at bay.
In a nutshell, stress, processed foods and toxic exposure causes our elimination systems to become overwhelmed and backed up. Think of your car filter or HEPA filter in your vacuum or house ventilation system. They get gunked up and don’t work as well after awhile and require cleaning or replacement. Well, it’s difficult to replace your liver, kidneys, skin, blood, bowels, lungs and lymphatic system so you’re only option is to find a lifestyle and cleansing program that supports your body’s natural detoxification processes.
Now detoxification isn’t as scary as you think. Stay tuned and consider cleansing the body, decluttering the mind and lifting your spirits with the PLAYdetox!