Retreats seem to be popping up everywhere and becoming increasingly more common. Wellness retreats are quickly replacing the standard vacation as more people look to take charge of their own health. After leading a recent wellness retreat of my own and seeing the positive impacts on health that these getaways have, I was encouraged to write a post in hopes of inspiring others to attend more retreats. Here are my top reasons for why you should attend a wellness retreat:Read More
I talk a lot about meal prep, a key component of the 70/30 plan. I love the quote "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail" and I truly believe that without a little bit of planning in your diet, you are less likely to succeed in eating healthy. I have put together my essentials for meal planning to help you in your journey!
1. Glasslock Containers: It is super important to have containers handy that will help keep your meals fresh throughout the week! I love these containers because they are the only ones I have found that keep my blended soups from spilling when I take them with me for traveling. Plus, they're BPA free and oven, microwave, and dishwasher safe.
3. Kuhn Knives: I recommend any good knife because it will make your job in the kitchen much easier. I love my Khun knife for the price and how well it has traveled and held up, I definitely recommend! Plus, it comes in patterns..doesn't get much better than that!
4. Avocado Oil: I use this to make my homemade mayo which I use on everything! And is a fantastic base for salads like my Broccoli & Cauliflower Salad featured this month as well as my Carrot, Kale & Raisin Salad.
6. Cutting Board: I highly recommend a good cutting board as they will make your life in the kitchen much easier! Two of my favorites can be found here and here. Plus, how beautiful are these boards? They always add a nice touch sitting out in the kitchen ;)
7. Sea Salt: I always say, anything cooked in a good quality fat seasoned with a good sea salt will make anyone look like a culinary genius! Plus, sea salt is a great way to obtain your daily dose of minerals! Make sure it is real sea salt as iodized and other processed salts can be dangerous for your health.
8. Cooking Fats: Speaking of cooking in a good quality fat, fat is NOT bad for you, it's actually the preferred source of energy for your body! Your body desperately needs good quality fats to function properly. Check out my article for more info on fats. Meanwhile, Fatworks has an incredible line of animal-based cooking fats that will surely add flavor to any meal!
What are your favorite meal prep essentials? Comment below and let me know! xo
Maintaining optimal health is an interesting concept: it is either a fairly simple concept to grasp or an incredibly difficult task to manage. I am always curious about what differentiates the two for my clients. And what makes eating healthy so difficult?
What I have gathered in working with people to help restore their health is that there are three primary reasons why they struggle with maintaining optimal health: looking for the quick-fix, lack of commitment, and unsustainability.
By exploring these areas in more detail we can gain a better understanding of the setbacks many of us encounter. When we identify what is holding us back, we make better decisions towards improvement of diet and health.
Unfortunately, we live in a society that is all about the “quick fix” looking for the magic pill or smoothie that solves all of our problems. We want that one thing that cuts the pounds, cures diabetes, stabilizes blood sugar levels, boosts energy, balances cholesterol, and heals our gut all at the same time.
The thing is, this can generally all be accomplished by changing the way we eat. By supplementing your diet with nutrient dense and nourishing foods, you are providing your body the nutrients it needs to heal. Furthermore, nearly eighty percent of your immune system is located in the gut, which means by eating foods that help support gut health, you are boosting your immunity and increasing your body’s ability to absorb and assimilate nutrients. Diet and nutrition should be foundational in all of our health systems.
It may not be a magic pill, but if I offered simple steps to change your diet, what is standing in the way of making changes? Likely, it is commitment.
I joke with people that I want to have a disclaimer on my website before people enter that says something like: Are you willing to commit to doing the work needed in order to heal and fully restore your health? If you click no, you will be redirected. If you click yes, you can enter and inquire about working together. What once was a joke is now becoming more of a reality as I realize in working with more clients the first step to healing is commitment. I know many practitioners face this everyday and was glad to read Maria Atwood’s wise words: To get up in the morning and look forward to a pain-free, lively day requires the power of consistency. It takes some real commitment—and yes, planning.
Transitioning towards sustainable health starts with making a dedicated effort and adopting minimal changes in order to gain the maximum benefit. Changing your diet is like changing anything, it takes time, usually difficult in the beginning because it is new, but after a while it becomes routine and part of your everyday life.
Eating clean is sustainable, something that will carry over for the rest of your life and you don’t have to worry about dieting again. Weight loss supplements, smoothie diets and counting calories are not a lifestyle and while they may work in the short term, you have to ask yourself if this is truly healing your body and is this something you can maintain? Not to mention is this quick fix solving one issue but creating new ones?
Many diet supplements and shake replacements may cause you to lose weight quickly, but at the expense of what? I have worked with clients who have taken weight loss supplements which caused gall bladder attacks and gut issues because of their ingredients. Plus you have to ask yourself, how sustainable is this? For instance, what happens when you go off your smoothie diet or your weight loss pills? Or you stop counting your calories or meals? Does the weight come back or do you revert to old habits? Usually the answer is yes because those diets and drugs are not a sustainable way to regulate weight or health. And you haven’t committed to making the lifestyle change needed in order to eat healthier.
This is why I have created the 70/30 Plan, my plan for helping people transition into eating healthier while at the same time making it sustainable. The 70/30 Plan starts with a simple goal: eat one meal a day healthy and then work to transition to the other meals. This plan focuses on 70 percent of the time eating healthier while allowing some flexibility with the remaining 30 percent. The plan also emphasizes the importance of meal planning, committing an hour one day a week to preparing a couple proteins in advance and thinking of a few different meals to make with each protein. From there, you prep your“fix-ins” (ingredients) needed to make those meals. This way, when it comes time to make a meal, everything is readily available and all you have to do is assemble!
The only thing the 70/30 Plan requires is to begin a healthy lifestyle is a small commitment: dedicate one hour to meal prepping one day a week and commit to eating healthier, more nourishing foods that will heal your body rather than harm. Over time, the commitment pays off and it becomes sustainable, something you don’t have to worry about anymore, it just becomes a part of life. Doesn’t that sound refreshing? No more yo-yo dieting, digestive issues, swings in energy levels, just simply feeling great without the stress of diets. The only thing standing in your way is whether or not you’re committed and dedicated to changing.
What about you? Do you feel like you can resonate with any of these points or perhaps have had your own struggles? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below! xo
In my final post about 4 Ways to Love Your Guts, we are talking stress. You may wonder; what does stress have to do with the gut? Well the answer is absolutely everything. Stress affects virtually all aspects of your health and can especially weaken the immune system and damage the gut. Stress lowers our digestive enzymes which help break down our foods. If undigested foods seep into the gut, it can cause many health problems like autoimmune conditions, leaky gut, allergies, inflammation, and much more. Likewise, if roughly 80 percent of the immune system is located in the gut, and stress weakens the immune system, gut health and stress are directly correlated.
I wrote a post about stress and the countless health issues that arise; specifically the issues related to our blood sugar levels and elevated cortisol for prolonged periods of time. Often times our issues with food can even have little to do with food itself and more to do with stress and our emotions. I wrote an article that was featured in Mind Body Green surrounding eating during the holidays and how a decline in health may not necessarily be due to the food we are eating, but perhaps related to the increased amount of stress we are under.
It is true; stress has a direct relation on our health on so many levels. To combat this, we need to make sure we are taking time for ourselves and limiting our stress as much as possible. Yoga, massages, meditation, infrared saunas, walking, there are countless ways to help ease tension and reduce stress. In times of stress, it is equally as important to be compassionate and mindful to yourself, nourishing your body with healthy foods like bone broths as well as probiotics to keep the gut healthy.
Eating healthy fats is also incredibly important during times of stress as fat keeps our energy levels stable and since our cortisol levels are off the charts during periods of stress, good quality fats help maintain our energy levels and keep it from fluctuating. Check out my post on Fat is Your Friend for more information on the health benefits of quality fats. A fantastic, nourishing recipe to try would be Turmeric & Yogurt Braised Chicken as it incorporates all things healing for stress: bone broth to help support gut health, full fat dairy to incorporate healthy fats to maintain blood sugar levels, and turmeric to lower inflammation that may be caused during times of stress. Not only does this recipe contain all the nutrients to help counteract stress, it is incredibly comforting, even the color alone is so vibrant and can help ease your mind. Most importantly, make sure you are nourishing your body to help maintain a strong immune system during periods of stress.
When you think about healing the gut, there are really two main areas of focus: healing and sealing the gut lining and repopulating the gut with beneficial bacteria. One of the best ways to heal and seal the gut lining is with bone broth, which we discussed the last couple of weeks in my post about how to make broth as well as my post on various soups to make with broth. In order to repopulate the gut with beneficial bacteria, you want to think about probiotics. Probiotics are bacteria that line your gut and support your body’s ability to fight infections and absorb nutrients.
It seems like everything has probitoics in it these days, but too much of a good thing isn’t necessarily a good thing. You definitely want to be cautious when incorporating probitocs into your diet as an imbalance or too many probitoics can also upset your digestive system and not all probiotics are created equal. Additionally, most probiotic supplements are not designed to travel through your entire system and often times they burn up in the incredibly acidic environment in your stomach. The best way to get ferments into your diet is through food as it travels through the entire digestive system, making sure the beneficial bacteria gets to where it actually really needs to be…the GUT!
One of my two favorite ways of getting probiotics into the gut is through cultured dairy and ferments. Cultured dairy is essentially dairy that has been fermented with lactic acid bacteria. I wrote a blog post about the health benefits of incorporating cultured dairy into your diet where I also discuss the importance of making your own homemade yogurt or kefir. Homemade yogurt is full of probiotics, often times more probiotics than store-bought yogurt due to the fact that homemade yogurt ferments longer than most yogurts sold at your local grocery store. I also share one way to easily make your own homemade yogurt on my site.
In addition to cultured dairy, incorporating ferments like sauerkraut and kimchi, can also be helpful in repopulating the gut with beneficial bacteria and boosting the immune system. It is also helpful in stimulating gastric juices that aid in proper digestion. In fact, I mention kraut is a great alternative to digestive support in my Series to Better Health: Digestion. Often times people are sensitive to sauerkraut or do not like the taste, so I have created a Fennel Apple Sauerkraut Slaw recipe that tastes amazing on top of fish or even mixed in with a salad. You can even get creative here and use your favorite veggies like shredded beets or carrots to help offset the sauerkraut taste.
Remember, healing the gut is a two part process: healing and sealing the gut lining with bone broth and repopulating the gut with beneficial bacteria like ferments and cultured dairy. Have fun with creating your own yogurts or perhaps being adventurous and making your own ferments, let me know how it works for you!
Last week I explained the bone broth making process in 4 easy steps. This week, I am sharing my favorite nourishing soup recipes to make with your broth and breaking these soups down into 5 steps so that you can become the master creator of your own base soups.
What I love about making these base soups is that they are excellent for meal planning. I make a giant pot of soup early in the week and then pair it with different proteins each night (ground beef, pulled pork, whatever I have on hand). These soups are also a great way to make sure you are getting your daily dose of bone broth and they taste great hot or cold!
Step 1: Choose Your Broth
Recall back to last week where we talked about how to make different broths. Now that you have successfully mastered making your own broth, pick which broth you’re going to use as a base for your soup. Really, anything works here, and personally I think the knuckle bone broths works best because they are the most robust and flavorful.
Step 2: Pick Your Fix-Ins
Similar to the bone broth, here you will pick about 3 veggies to incorporate into your base soup. I recommend the following: onion, garlic, or leek and 2-3 veggies. I try to pick veggies that add depth and then a little sweetness. For instance, you may choose an onion, cauliflower, and sweet potato because the onion adds flavor, cauliflower adds depth, and sweet potato will give you a sweet and creamy flavor. Again, the possibilities are endless here as well!
Some of my favorite combinations are Beet Fennel Parsnip which has such a beautiful color, perfect for this time of year! I also love Butternut Squash Rutabaga soup which has a mild sweetness from the butternut squash and parsnips but also heartiness from the rutabaga. Lastly, my other favorite is Rutabaga Leek soup which is my take on the classic Potato Leek soup. If you are unfamiliar cooking with leeks, they are just like a green onion and I recommend incorporating them into your meals and interchange them with onions for some variety!
Step 3: Add Your Spices
Generally, I season with a good quality sea salt (Himalayan and Celtic Sea Salt are my favorites) and black pepper. However, you can use a variety of herbs and spices like basil, oregano, and even curry and turmeric. I love these soups because they are so versatile and you can easily alter the recipes with a few different ingredients and you have an entirely new meal!
Step 4: Simmer
Now that you are ready to begin preparing your soup, start by chopping up the veggies, seasoning them, and sautéing in grass-fed butter or ghee until the veggies begin to sweat and cook down. Once they begin to slightly cook down, add your broth until about 2-3 inches from top of pot and bring to a boil. Quickly reduce to a simmer and allow the soup to simmer for about 20 minutes, or until your veggies soften.
Step 5: Puree
Once the veggies are soft, allow the soup to cool slightly and blend with either an immersion blender (hand mixer) or blend in a Vitamix. You can serve garnished with chopped herbs, bacon, or a drizzle of oil. I like topping mine with a scoop of sauerkraut! I cannot wait to hear your combinations, let me know what you decided to make and how it turned out!
I truly believe bone broth is the most nourishing and healing resource for your body. Bone broth is rich in gut healing nutrients like L-glutamine and collagen, which is important since nearly 80% of the immune system is located in the gut. I have written a blog post about the 3 Reasons Why You Should Be Drinking Bone Broth for more details on the many health benefits.
Bone broth can be a bit intimidating to make, especially if it is your first time. Here, I will be breaking down the process to making a delicious broth in just four simple steps.
Step 1: Pick Your Bones
Let me just start by saying it is incredibly important to ensure you have sustainably sourced bones, meaning they come from a source that is free of hormones and antibiotics and have been raised in a humane environment natural to their habitat. Remember, with bone broth, you are extracting all the nutrients from the bones, so if your animal has been fed a highly processed diet and living in inhumane conditions, those health issues are directly reflected in the broth. Generally, bones that are not well sourced will yield a green, foamy broth while those that are humanely raised will typically not have any impurities and yield a nice golden yellow broth. To find sustainable bones, check your local butcher shop or natural foods store. You can also order online with 5280 Meat, a premier online retailer of sustainable meats, and use code fairygutmother10 at checkout for 10% off your order for the entire month of February! They already have the bones bundled in pacakages to make it easier for ordering, too.
If this is your first time making a broth, I suggest starting with a whole chicken. This is more of a meat stock than a bone broth so is often easier to tolerate and less potent than a regular bone broth. The great thing about making a chicken broth is that once the chicken is cooked (about 3 hours or so in a slow cooker) you can remove the chicken from the bone and toss the carcass back in the slow cooker. So really, you’re getting a broth and meat for an added bonus! Another option would be roasting the chicken first and then using that carcass in a broth. Either way, chicken broth is very neutral and easy to sip on or use in any recipe.
If you’re interested in transitioning between chicken broth and a bone broth, I suggest making a broth with oxtail. This is a great mixture between a meat stock and a bone broth and again, is still very mild in flavor. You can also use chuck roasts and pork shoulder roasts as a nice transition between a meat stock and a bone broth. If you are new to bone broth or have had a hard time with them in the past, using these larger roast cuts are great place to start. Cook them the same way you would cook the other broths (refer to image above for 4 steps) and when finished, reserve the liquid as your broth.
If you’re adventurous or ready to make the next step and interested in trying bone broth, I suggest using soup bones, knuckle bones, and/or marrow bones or even mixing one of these options with your oxtail. Any joint or connective tissues like knuckle bones or even chicken feet are going to be the most gelatinous, meaning it is full of the most gut healing nutrients like collagen and L.glutamine. These types of bones will also cause your broth to gel, which is completely normal. I typically recommend one large knuckle and either 1-2 soup bones, or 1 marrow bone. Additionally, you can do a large knuckle and an oxtail. Either way, these kinds of broths will be the most potent and are the best used in various recipes. Anytime you see the word water in a recipe you can likely replace it with broth. Broth is also great for making soups (we will talk more about that next week) as well as cooking your veggies in or even use in your
Those with leaky gut or other compromising conditions may not be able to initially tolerate bone broth due to the high amount of glutamic acid. Glutamic acid occurs in bone broth cooked for an extended period of time and can further complicate pre-existing health conditions. If you have adverse reactions to bone broth or suffer from severe nervous system disorders, it is best to start with a meat stock as I mentioned earlier like a chicken broth.
Step 2: Pick Your Fix-Ins
This is where I think people tend to get hung up. What in the world do I put in my broth?! Honestly, the answer is anything and everything. The “standard” broth fix-ins are a few stalks of celery, a couple carrots, onion, a few pinches of sea salt, 8-10 black peppercorns, and a couple bay leaves. However, you can add a variety of ingredients like fennel or even sweet potato for additional sweetness and flavor (I personally think sweet potato is excellent in knuckle broths). As for herbs, you can add in thyme, oregano, rosemary, basil…there are many possibilities. I recommend adding the veggies and spices that are to your liking.
A few tips: Save your veggie scraps for your broth! I am talking about your carrot tops, stalks to fennel bulbs, celery tops, whatever you have, you can create a freezer bag and simply toss in the scrap pieces and pull them out next time you make a broth! Likewise, if you have veggies that you likely will not eat or perhaps you are getting ready to travel and can’t eat up everything in the fridge, toss them in the freezer for your next broth. Making a broth can be the best garbage disposal.
Also, for a brilliant color and more flavor, keep your onion peels ON while making the broth. Yep, that’s right. Chop the onion into quarters and toss them in the broth with the peels on. You can check out my oxtail broth recipe for more images of what I mean.
Step 3: Add Everything Together
Here’s the easy part. Add all the ingredients to your slow cooker or dutch oven. You can sauté the veggies in some ghee or grass-fed butter first or even roast the bones in the oven beforehand to lock in some additional flavor. Either way, throw it all together in this step.
Step 4: Fill With Water
Fill the pot with filtered water until about 2-3 inches from top of pot. If you are using a slow cooker, set on low for 24 to 42 hours, stirring occasionally. If you are using a stove top, bring to a boil, then allow to simmer for about 24 hours, stirring occasionally. You can also add in a splash of apple cider vinegar to extract a more nutrients from the bones as well.
Finally, strain and serve or use in various recipes. Stay tuned for next week’s post on my favorite base soups to make with these broths. Don't forget to use #ybcfgm to share your recipes and comment below to let me know how your broth turns out!
There is no better feeling than harvesting your own meat and being able to feed yourself, your family, and your friends. We truly are so fortunate for the gifts that Mother Nature provides but frankly, I think we’ve become a bit detached from our roots. I think the more work that we put into sourcing our food by actually getting to know your farmer and rancher or better yet, planting your own garden, hunting, and harvesting your own animals, the more appreciative we become.
I organized the farmers market for my town last summer and I will never forget a story the produce vendor told me. He was buying asparagus at the grocery store and thought: Wow, someone actually had to plant, grow, and harvest every single one of these asparagus just for me! He knew the time and effort spent in producing a successful crop because that was his livelihood, too. He had a different appreciation for making a simple trip to the grocery store and having access to an abundance of fresh produce because he knew the hard work and dedication it took for everything to come together and arrive on the shelves.
My point is that we are so much more appreciative of our food if we actually have an active part in its production. This can even be true for just simply making your own food at home rather than going out to eat. We have become so detached from where our food comes from that we lack an appreciation for the true value of our food. We rely so heavily on our local grocery stores, but do we really stop to think and appreciate the journey of the fresh produce and the perfectly cut filets of meat at the butcher counter?
I remember living in Spain during college and seeing the butcher shops: every animal hung freshly harvested so that you could actually see the cuts of meat you were getting. For most of our markets in the States, you go to the meat department and everything is so nicely cut that you can hardly tell if you’re getting a chicken breast or filet of fish.
When did we become so detached from our foods? And why is it that we don’t want to see where our food comes from? Does it make us feel guilty? It shouldn’t; we are primitive beings and it is in our nature to hunt, gather and harvest. I believe harvesting your own food, whether that’s growing your own garden, raising your own livestock, or hunting, puts you back in touch with reality the way nature intended. We become more appreciative and thankful for what brings us health and nourishment but also become more grounded.
I used to not take as much time to care about where my food came from until I was diagnosed with Lyme disease. Changing my diet made the biggest impact in my healing process which forced me to slow down and start taking care of myself, starting with making all my own food. I began researching food and understanding the food system and the importance of knowing where your food comes from and the impact it has on your health. It was then that I gained a much greater appreciation for quality foods and their origin when I noticed the difference it made in my health.
Hunting also gets a bad rap. It is mainstream media stories like Cecil the Lion that create a distorted image of the true meaning of hunting. Hunting is highly regulated for population control and habitat enhancement in order to protect the animals and actually boost the population. In fact, in 1907, only 41,000 elk remained in North America but thanks to hunters’ strong effort to restore and conserve habitat, there are more than 1 million elk today. Hunters are also major advocates for the well being of all wildlife, they’ve added $440 million per year to groups like RMEF to support conservation efforts and pay roughly $1.6 billion a year for conservation programs. Without hunting, animal herds become overpopulated leading to starvation and death and even an outbreak in diseases. More often than not, hunters are avid believers in always giving back more than they take out.
Plus, there is something so beautiful about hunting. It’s the being out in nature, harvesting an animal straight from the source, and knowing that this is the food chain at work. Michael Pollan described it best in The Omnivore’s Dilemma when he reflected on the harvesting of a wild boar. He said, “And whatever of this Prey the man left behind the other animals here, the Scavengers, would in due course fold back into the earth, nourishing the oak so that it might in turn nourish another pig. Sun-soil-oak-pig-human: There it was, one of the food chains that have sustained life on earth for a million years made visible in a single frame, one uncluttered and most beautiful example of what is.”
This is everything.
I thought of this specific passage when I was skinning my elk and watching the dogs and chickens devour every little scrap that fell from the carcass. I thought of the animals that would be so grateful for whatever remnants were left behind. And I thought of how appreciative and beyond thankful I was for the life of this animal that will nourish my family, friends, and me.
I started off this post with the intention in mind to write about the health benefits of game meat and why it’s so sustainable; however, it quickly shifted gears as I began typing into to something a little more personal. But health benefits of wild game meat are always important to mention, so here are a few references if you’re interested in reading more about why game meat is better for your health.
Hopefully this post enforces people to reflect on their own relationship with food. I encourage everyone to slow down...prepare your food with gratitude and understand the origins of your dinner plate; perhaps it will make us all a little more aware and appreciative of what actually brings us health, nourishment and life.
We hear it all the time, protein is so important to our health and we need to eat more. But do we really understand why? And how much? And not all protein is created equal, either, some kinds are better for our bodies to digest than others. It can get confusing and often times we are not eating nearly enough protein as our bodies need.
Let’s start out but reviewing the health benefits of protein. Proteins are the foundation for our body: they help build muscle and give our body structure and integrity. Proteins are important in managing blood sugar as our body does not store protein like it does fat, so it is important to eat throughout the day in order to maintain stable energy levels.
Proteins are made up of 20 amino acids, think of them like the building blocks to protein. Out of the 20 amino acids, 10 are essential, (meaning your body does not make them and it is crucial to get from outside source) and 10 are non-essential (meaning your body can make on its own but still important to supplement from an outside source). The best sources of amino acids are from humanely raised, sustainable animals meaning grass-fed beef, pasture raised pork, free-range chicken all free of hormones and antibiotics.
How much protein should you actually be eating though? I found out the hard way when I decided to count my macro nutrients and suddenly realized I was not eating nearly enough protein for my body. The typical rule of thumb for macro nutrient intake is 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein, and 30% fats. Or conversely, you can multiply your body weight by .5 and that is the amount of protein in grams you should generally aim to consume each day.
It is important to make sure you’re getting a good variety in your protein sources to ensure all amino acids are being consumed. I found it extremely difficult when counting my macros to consistently hit my protein number just simply with meat; you almost always have to add in additional sources. One of my favorite sources for protein is from Rootz Nutrition. I absolutely love the Paleo Protein Superfood powder for so many reasons.
First, this powder is non-dairy based which is wonderful for those with any lactose intolerance. Instead, they use a combination of egg-white protein, sacha inchi powder, and hemp protein. This incredible combination is not only rich in protein, but also an excellent source of healthy fat and y’all know how much I love healthy fats. Sacha Inchi is arguably one of the most sustainable sources of protein on this planet. This wild harvested Amazonian super seed is also an excellent source of Omega 3, 6, 9 fatty acids, Vitamin E, Vitamin A, and fiber. It also helps support healthy cholesterol, brain health, heart health, bone and joint health, and healthy skin and hair.
To top it off, it has incredible flavor and when ground in its most natural state it tastes like peanut butter! What is better than that? So you can imagine how thrilled I was to see it as a primary ingredient in Rootz Nutrition Protein Powder. This powder is an excellent way to supplement your protein throughout the day as well as gain that variety needed to incorporate all the amino acids. I’ve created this delicious Protein Banana Bread as another option in incorporating protein throughout the day! Hope you enjoy!
One of my main goals in life is to change the way we think about fat. It is such a common misconception that fat is bad and due to this conflicting information; we’ve cut out all sources of healthy fats in our diet. This has unfortunately led to an increase in health issues since our bodies now not only have an impaired ability to digest fats but also has led to a deficiency in fat soluble vitamins. Yes, you need fat in order to digest fat and you also need fat in order to absorb nutrients.
But the importance of fat does not just stop there; fats are the preferred source of energy for our bodies. Think of it like a campfire: carbohydrates are like the grasses and tiny sticks you use to spark the fire but the logs (being the fats) are what actually keep the fire burning over a longer period of time. Without fats, we are consuming foods that constantly spike our blood sugar levels for energy without having the steady source that maintains constant over time. Unfortunately, when you remove fat from a source, more than likely it has been replaced with processed ingredients and sugars.
Not all fats are created equal, though. Trans fats have been known to cause the clogging of arteries, type 2 diabetes, and other critical health issues. Trans fats are the fats that are most abundant in processed foods, fast food, and fried foods; essentially diets that are unnatural and unfamiliar to our bodies. Most studies that relate fat and heart disease do not differentiate between saturated fat and trans fat.
Saturated fat, on the other hand, is an excellent source of fat and can be found in a variety of foods such as meat, dairy, and oils. Maple Hill Creamery has an incredible line of full-fat grass-fed dairy products that uses whole milk instead of reduced-fat so you can ensure there are no additives, thickeners, or sugars as a replacement. Full-fat dairy has been shown to help lower the risk of Type-2 diabetes. Additionally, research concluded that people who consume full-fat dairy have lower body weights (particularly belly fat or “central” obesity) and also have a lower risk of developing health issues like: diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease.
Animal fat is another great source of saturated fat. In fact, when cooking with animal fat, it actually slows down the absorption of food so that you feel more satiated meaning you feel fuller, longer. Fatworks has an amazing line of animal fats, all sourced from humanely raised animals plus they’re small batch and hand crafted to ensure premium quality. Cooking with animal fats also allows you to absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K and they are also needed for mineral absorption and healthy hormone production.
I’ve altered a traditional recipe of Turmeric & Yogurt Braised Chicken to incorporate these healthy fats. This recipe typically calls for olive oil but I have replaced that with Fatworks Chicken Fat as well as used Maple Hill Creamery Grass-fed, full-fat Greek Yogurt. Oh and yes, and I added a little bone broth, of course! This savory recipe is the ultimate marriage of healthy fats plus the addition of broth and turmeric to help boost your immune system and reduce inflammation.
Fats are incredibly important for optimal health. They are the building blocks for all cell membranes, essential for healthy hormone production, critical for the absorption of Vitamins A, D, E, and K, important in mineral absorption, promotes healthy cholesterol levels, help prevent cancer, essential for proper liver and gallbladder function, and they support and maintain energy levels over sustained periods of time. Fats are your friends, folks! It is time to start adding back these healthy fats into your diet now!
The bone broth craze: It’s trending in all the restaurants, hitting grocery store shelves, and abundantly appearing in various news articles. It seems so innovative yet it’s something that has been around for many years, now suddenly resurfacing as the new super food. However, unlike other health food crazes, this one you can trust. In fact, bone broth is here to stay (did it ever really leave?) and should be implemented in everyone’s daily routine starting…now! Here’s 3 reasons why:
ONE: Bone broth is incredibly healing and nourishing to the gut. Since nearly 80% of the immune system is located in the gut, it’s arguably one of the most significant areas that dictate our health. Gut health has been linked to countless illnesses as well as a number of food allergies and intolerances which is why it is extremely important to focus on healing the gut. Processed foods, sugar, medications, and stress have all been known to damage the gut making it difficult to digest foods properly causing an overgrowth of harmful bacteria further compromising gut health.
Bone broth yields a variety of gut healing nutrients like collagen and L.Glutamine and is a great source of protein and fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K. Consuming broth on a daily basis is an excellent way to nourish the body, heal the gut, and boost the immune system.
TWO: Do you have body aches and pains? Perhaps sore muscles or arthritis? Bone broth is just the healing mechanism you need to help ease inflammation. Broth contains valuable nutrients like collagen and gelatin that rebuild and strengthen tissues and bones by stimulating the growth of new cartilage in joints. In fact, studies show that doses of cartilage improved rheumatoid arthritis and other degenerative joint disorders. Broth is also full of vitamin C and calcium, two significant nutrients that support optimal bone structure.
THREE: Hydration is essential for optimal health. In fact, many nutritional deficiencies and health problems stem from dehydration. There are two main parts to hydration: water and minerals. Essentially, this means hydration and your body’s ability to maintain hydration. You can drink water all day long but if you’re not absorbing properly, hydration is not as effective. Bone broth is an excellent source of minerals essential to maintaining hydration. You see, minerals, or electrolytes, are what water depends on for proper absorption. Without these minerals, water is not properly assimilated into the body. Drinking broth throughout the day hydrates the body with essential vitamins, minerals, and amino acids and is a great way to ensure proper hydration.
I always joke that bone broth is the new Windex. For those of you that have seen the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, you’ll know that the dad puts Windex on absolutely everything, convinced it is the ultimate cure. Well, I feel as though bone broth is the new Windex and is truly the ultimate superfood. With its many nourishing properties and countless health benefits, bone broth is something everyone should start incorporating into their diet now.
Get ready for your mind to be blown.
I am going to tell you that cholesterol is actually GOOD for you, contrary to what you might believe. I know, you still don’t believe me, right? It’s ok, it was hard to me to understand at first, too. However, the more I researched, the more I learned, and the more I began implementing these dietary changes in my life, the better I felt. After all, it wasn’t until I truly started changing my diet that my Lyme disease symptoms started to improve. Although healing is a practice and I still have a ways to go, I am nowhere near as sick as I used to be and I attribute so much of this to the changes I’ve made in my life, specifically dietary changes.
So, if cholesterol is good for you, then why have we all been told to avoid it like the plague? Well, to make a long story short, essentially the proponents of the “cholesterol is bad” theory have been a bit selective about their information, only using studies that support their idea (known as the Diet-Heart Hypothesis) and disregard those that are opposing. Some of these studies they’re referring to are summaries of the papers that doctors and researchers are most likely to read. Unfortunately, you have to thoroughly read and study the entire paper to understand the contradictory results. Most people rely on the summaries for an accurate conclusion since few have the neither time nor expertise to review on their own. Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride (founder of GAPS Diet) does a great job explaining this mess in more detail in her book, Put Your Heart in Your Mouth.
Now that we know we’ve been fed a bunch of lies (no pun intended), let’s discuss 4 amazing health benefits of cholesterol and why it is vital for optimal health.
1. Cholesterol and Saturated Fats Give our Body Structure
Our cell walls are comprised of fats and cholesterol, and without them, our cells would be loose and soft without structure. As Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride (GAPS Diet founder) puts it, without cholesterol, “…we would look like giant worms or slugs.” Studies have shown that cholesterol and fats prevent wrinkles and cellulite, as they both are directly related to the elasticity and firm structure of our cells. Cholesterol also helps our cells communicate to transport nutrients in and out of the cell. Essentially, our bodies could not function without cholesterol.
2. The Brain Runs on Cholesterol
Did you know about 25% of the body’s cholesterol is used by the brain?! Our entire nervous system actually requires cholesterol to function. Cholesterol is also incredibly important for making myelin, a fatty substance that nourishes and protects every part of our brain and nervous system (think of it like insulation tubing to electrical wires). Studies show that multiple sclerosis can be caused from lack of myelin and that foods in high cholesterol and high animal fat content are essential for a person with multiple sclerosis. If you inhibit the body’s ability to produce cholesterol, the brain and the rest of the nervous system become at risk.
3. Cholesterol is Essential For Healthy Hormone Balance
After the brain, the endocrine system has the biggest appetite for cholesterol. The endocrine system is essentially a bunch of hormone producing glands that help regulate a variety of functions, such as: metabolism, energy production, mineral assimilation, bone and muscle formation, emotions, and reproduction. Unfortunately, our stressful lifestyles inhibit the proper production of these hormones, causing an imbalance and adverse side effects like adrenal fatigue or even infertility. In fact, a study by Dr. Jorge Chavarro published in Human Reproduction, showed that women who drink whole milk and eat high-fat dairy products are more fertile than those who eat low-fat products. He said women who wanted to conceive should study their diet and avoid low-fat.
4. Cholesterol is Healing Agent
When the body has an injury, it immediately produces cholesterol and sends it to the wound. In more detail, when our liver receives the message that there’s a wound, it immediately sends cholesterol to the damage site. When the wound heals, cholesterol is removed and travels back to the liver. In fact, scar tissue is primarily composed of cholesterol which is also why when cells are damaged, they require cholesterol and fats in order to repair. The body simply cannot clear infections, detoxify, or heal wounds without cholesterol and fats.
Now do I have you convinced cholesterol is not bad for you? I hope so! And hopefully now you’re thinking, ok I want to start eating healthy fats! But, where do I start? Well, first of all, YAY!! And thank you!!
Ok, here are a 3 ways to start incorporating healthy cholesterol into your diet:
3. Free Range Eggs
There are countless other health benefits of cholesterol, but hopefully these top points will encourage you to change your belief system on the way you think about cholesterol. For more information, especially regarding the Diet-Heart Hypothesis, I encourage you to read Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride’s book, Put Your Heart in Your Mouth.
I'd love to hear from you in the comments below, how do you incorporate healthy cholesterol and fats into your diet? Or perhaps you have a health story you'd like to share on how adding these types of foods back into your diet has helped you...share your comments below!
Welcome back to my series on Ways to Start Implementing the GAPS Diet now. In case you missed it, so far we’ve discussed Bone Broth and Ferments to incorporate into your daily routine to begin repairing the gut and healing the body. My third recommendation on ways to start implementing the GAPS Diet would be making your own yogurt or kefir.
The GAPS Diet is introduced in stages in order to ensure proper healing of the gut. Dairy can often be one of the biggest food sensitivities but as the digestive system heals, many people are able to digest milk proteins without sensitivity. The GAPS Diet recommends starting off slowly incorporating yogurt to test for sensitivity. If the gut is compromised, there may be sensitivity and therefore, going through the GAPS Introduction diet may be helpful. However, the fermentation process makes milk much easier on the gut to handle and can often be tolerated in those with sensitivities.
If your body can tolerate dairy, I think adding homemade yogurt and kefir is an excellent way to replenish the gut with beneficial bacteria. Homemade yogurt is full of probiotics, often times more probiotics than store-bought yogurt due to the fact that homemade yogurt ferments longer than most yogurts sold at your local grocery store. Kefir is similar to yogurt but also contains beneficial yeasts and can be very helpful for those suffering from yeast overgrowth. Dr. Natasha, founder of the GAPS Diet, stated that, “In order to get rid of the “bad” yeast, we need to replace it with the “good” yeast.” Fermenting dairy produces lactic acid which is incredibly healing to the gut and can help with those who are prone to diarrhea. Lactic acid in particular is very soothing to the gut lining and can also help slow down food transit through the intestines and bowel. Homemade yogurt is also high in B vitamins, biotin, Vitamin K2 and other active enzymes.
It is crucial to note that when making your own yogurt or kefir to use a good quality, well sourced dairy, either raw milk from a reputable, trustworthy supplier or organic milk preferably from grass-fed cows. You can also experiment in making yogurt with other milk sources like goat, which can also be easier to digest for those with dairy sensitivities.
Check out my Homemade Yogurt Recipe on my blog to get started, it is super easy and I promise you will absolutely love it! I use my homemade yogurt in various recipes like on top of this delicious Butternut Squash Soup. Or for a great meal prep idea, throw some frozen fruit at the bottom of a mason jar at night and top with yogurt. In the morning, you will have a quick and easy parfait ready to go! Just top with your favorite granola, honey, or coconut flakes for a great way to start the day!
Tell me, have you tried making your own yogurt? If so, comment below and let me know how it turned out!
For those that may have missed it, we’ve been discussing ways to incorporate parts of the GAPS Diet into your daily routine to begin repairing the gut and healing the body. Recall, last week we discussed my first recommendation, which is Bone Broth. You can check out the recent post here as well as read a little background on the GAPS Diet.
The second way that you can start implementing the GAPS Diet is by incorporating ferments into your diet.
What are fermented foods exactly? Well, Sandor Katz, author of The Art of Fermentation, describes fermentation as “The flavorful space between fresh and rotten.” I love this quote because fermentation is such a delicate balance between the two, creating this amazing space for wonderful bacteria that can be very healing to the body. That delicate balance between fresh and rotten is where the probiotics and live enzymes flourish, essentially good bacteria that is crucial for optimal gut health.
Due to factors like stress and diets high in processed foods, bacteria in our guts can become compromised, allowing an overgrowth of bad bacteria causing health issues like leaky gut, candida, and H.pylori to name a few. While probiotic supplements can be helpful in replenishing the good bacteria, often times supplements will not travel far enough down the intestinal tract where the bacteria is thriving. That is why consuming ferments can be especially important as they travel throughout the entire body, populating the gut with healthy bacteria.
Sauerkraut is an excellent source for probiotics. It is also helpful in stimulating gastric juices that aid in proper digestion. In fact, I mention kraut is a great alternative to digestive support in my Series to Better Health: Digestion. Kraut can also be extremely potent, especially if you make your own as it usually ferments for a longer period of time compared to store bought kraut, which is why I recommend starting with a very small amount (1 teaspoon full) and then gradually increasing as your body begins to tolerate it better. Often times kraut can cause a die off reaction in the form of digestive complications so be easy on your body and only incorporate small amounts to begin.
If you’re into making your own kraut, I suggest Sandor Katz recipe. If you’re interested in some recommendations for options to purchase, I absolutely love Bubbies for a crunchy, simple kraut. Oregon Brineworks has an amazing line of fermented products. Their Beet Apple Kraut is so delicious!! Plus, I love their Beet Kvass for a gentle liver support. Lastly, Farmhouse Culture is my go-to for incredible flavors. Their Garlic Dill Pickle kraut is a game changer!
I’ve also created this delicious Apple-Kraut Slaw that is great served with burgers or brats and even is delicious served with fish and steak.
Sauerkraut is such a tasty, easy way to incorporate ferments into your daily diet so that you can start repopulating the gut with healthy bacteria for optimal health! Tell me, how do you incorporate ferments into your diet? Would love to hear!! Especially if you have some awesome recipes!! ;)
I hear from a lot of people that they’re interested in implementing a healing diet such as the GAPS Diet but the stages are absolutely daunting and they simply do not have time to worry about the eliminations. Well there’s good news: you can start implementing parts of the diet now! Although you may not receive the full healing benefits of the stages of the GAPS Diet, incorporating these three important components of the diet are a great way to start. Over the next 3 weeks, I will be discussing 3 simple ways to start introducing some of the most healing benefits of the GAPS Diet.
Let’s start by briefly discussing: What is the GAPS Diet?
The GAPS Diet was founded by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride and is based off of the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) with the primary idea of healing the gut. Did you know that roughly 70% to 80% of the immune system lies in the gut? The GAPS Diet focuses on a healing protocol of various stages that are meant to increase nutrients specifically targeted to help heal the gut lining. The GAPS Diet also focuses on repopulating the gut with beneficial bacteria that has diminished over time, allowing harmful bacteria to flourish causing the potential spread of diseases and illnesses.
Ok now that we have a general understanding of the diet, let’s review the first way to start Implementing the GAPS Diet Now!
I think bone broth is by far the most important component of the GAPS Diet and the most healing food one can implement. I strongly encourage everyone to start making broth and incorporating it into your diet daily.
There are countless health benefits of bone broth, but to name a few, bone broth is great for gut healing as it contains nutrients like collagen and L-Glutamine that are incredibly nourishing and healing to the gut lining. Bone broth is also wonderful for hydration as it contains minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium that are essential for maintaining hydration. Bone broth is also fantastic for joint health as it is anti-inflammatory and contains several nutrients that that support the muscular and skeletal system like collagen and gelatin. Bone broth is also rich in protein and fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K.
The healing properties of bone broth are endless! I always joke with people that Bone Broth is the new Windex. For those of you that have seen the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, you’ll know that the dad puts Windex on absolutely everything, convinced it is the ultimate cure. Well, I feel the same way, but about bone broth!
- Always make sure your bones are well sourced! This means from a reliable producer that attests to the highest standards in raising their animals. Bone broth is the litmus test of quality of life for the animal. If you use bones from an animal that has been fed a diet unnatural to their habitat and has lived in inhumane conditions, your broth will contain impurities. Using well sourced bones also allows for a more nutrient dense broth since studies show humanely treated animals are more nutritious than animals fed an unnatural diet in poor living conditions.
- If this is your first broth, try starting out with this simple Lemon Chicken Bone Broth recipe. I think chicken is the most tolerable broths and is great for first timers. The flavor of this broth is so light and tasteful that it is wonderful to sip on throughout the day but also tastes great in recipes for other soups and stews.
- You may also want to try making a meat stock first and gradually easing into bone broth. You see, bone broth can be difficult for people to handle if their guts are not healed. Meat stock, however, can be much easier to digest and is a great way to gradually introduce your body to broths. To make, place a large cut of meat (roasts work well) in the slow cooker with your choice of veggies, herbs, and spices, fill with filtered water, and set on low until meat is cooked (usually a few hours). Not only is the meat delicious to eat, but the broth is an excellent source of nutrients that is a great first step into making bone broth. When your body can tolerate meat stock, you can begin making bone broth.
I cannot stress how important I believe bone broth is to optimal health. I always have some on hand in my refrigerator and usually one brewing on the side. I use broth in just about any recipe, subbing water for broth when available. I have come to notice how easy it is to make incredibly delicious meals in such a short amount of time just because of the amazing flavor from the broth.
Tell me below, have you made a bone broth before? And if so, have you noticed any changes to your health? I can't wait to hear!!
If you’ve ever struggled with anything in life, from illnesses to stress, I’m sure you’ve heard people say, “Just give it time, it’s a process.” While that is true, I have also come to the conclusion it is more fitting for healing to be a practice rather than a process.
You see, a process indicates there is some sort of structure involved when in reality, sometimes healing can seem like there is no structure at all. Some days you feel great, others you’re back at square one, and often times the fluctuations are for no apparent reason. A process also infers there is a general timeline of when you should feel better and when you should be healed. This is generally not the case. I also think it adds additional stress by labeling it this way.
What if we didn’t feel better in that timeframe? What if things got worse before they got better? I think for anyone that has struggled on the road to healing will agree that you’ve either: A. Missed these mile markers a time or two and B. Have become extremely frustrated when these expectations are not met.
So, to remedy this, why not call it a practice rather than a process? A practice does not set a timeline or expectations. Instead, it is something you work towards every day. It does not imply perfection, rather, is a guide for living in the moment and accepting each day for what it brings, for better or for worse. If you think about a yoga practice, it is similar in that every time you come to the mat, it is a different experience. Some days your peak posture is on point, while other days you can barely stand straight. But it is a practice and eventually, the days add up to weeks, the weeks add up to months, and months add up to years, and soon you look back and realize how much progress you’ve made in the practice.
For me, shifting my perspective to a practice helped me tremendously because I was no longer setting unrealistic expectations for myself as far as where I thought my body should be at a certain point. Instead, I worked on healing every day and realized that each day would be significantly different than the others. This allowed me to be more appreciative of my health and more compassionate towards my body.
Shifting the perspective and changing the idea of healing as a practice is applicable to many areas in life. Whether you’re fighting an illness, struggling with a relationship, or dealing with the stresses of everyday life; changing your mind frame from process to practice can be extremely helpful. You will no longer miss those unrealistic expectations; instead, the focus will shift on the day to day and accepting where you are at each day with peace in knowing that eventually you will get to where you want to be, as long as you keep practicing.
Lyme disease is a complicated illness that varies differently in each individual. Typically, Lyme disease is transferred to humans through tick bites. The most common symptoms of Lyme are flu-like symptoms, fatigue, fever, muscle aches and pains, etc. Since every case is so vastly different from the next, Lyme disease is commonly misdiagnosed and improperly treated, leaving the disease to manifest in the body longer, causing even more damage. You will commonly hear stories of people falling ill 1-2 years prior to actually discovering the real issue of Lyme disease, as was the case for me.
I started noticing a change in my health about a year before actually being diagnosed with Lyme disease. For me, Lyme really settled in my endocrine system affecting my hormones and female organs, which is somewhat uncommon. I ended up bleeding for about 4 months straight, jumping from doctor to doctor taking test after test trying to determine the cause. In the meantime, I was losing cognitive function. I had absolutely no control over my emotions, my memory was rapidly fading (I even forgot where I lived while driving home one day), and I could feel my body physically and emotionally shutting down. Every day I seemed to lose more control over my body as the pain and suffering amplified. I eventually developed an infection due to the prolonged bleeding and was prescribed a heavy dose of antibiotics. It was not until I starting having severe reactions to the antibiotics that I realized I may have Lyme disease. The antibiotic caused a “herx” reaction, or die off, and I became violently ill…fever, nausea, body aches, etc. The doctor said I had an allergic reaction to the medication, but a friend mentioned it sounded more like a herx reaction from Lyme disease. At that point, I was helpless and would take any test to figure out what was wrong with me. A few months later I finally was diagnosed with Lyme disease. Despite the fear and unsettling feeling of knowing I had Lyme disease, I also felt a tremendous amount of relief and peace in knowing and that I could finally begin the healing process.
I started out on antibiotics which instantly helped me in the first few months. However, I eventually reached a point where I felt like I was taking medications for my medications and that the antibiotics may be wreaking more havoc in my body than actually healing. I decided to stop all medications for Lyme disease and begin implementing the GAPS Diet by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride. The GAPS Diet is a healing protocol that is founded upon the idea that if we heal our guts, we can begin to heal our health issues. I started noticing improvement in my health almost instantaneously upon implementing the diet. It has been nearly a year now that I am completely off all Lyme-related meds (woohoo!) and finally feel like I have regained control of my health again.
Healing is a practice with a lot of ups and downs along the way. I decided to become a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and Certified GAPS Practitioner so that I could help others in their journey to wellness. So many times people feel helpless and alone in the healing process and this should not be the case. I created Fairy Gutmother so that whether you are fighting an illness or are simply interested in living a healthier lifestyle, there would be a place for you to turn for support. Thank you for taking the time to read my story, I hope my experience and site can be helpful for you!