Graham Crackers

A healthy twist on a classic snack. Strong enough to hold up to dips (like almond butter + coconut milk yogurt dip…yum!) and sweet & flavorful enough to satisfy your sweet tooth. Great to decorate for the holidays, or use for s’mores!

They couldn’t be any easier to make! Well worth it to make sure we (and our kids!) get nutritious snacks.

3/4 cup brown rice flour

3/4 cup oat flour (you can purchase oat flour or grind your own oats to make a course flour)

1/2 tsp Himalayan sea salt

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp aluminum-free baking soda

3 tbsp pumpkin puree

1 tbsp aquafaba (the liquid from a can of chickpeas) or 1 chia egg

6 tbsp dairy-free milk

3 tbsp maple syrup

2 tbsp blackstrap molasses

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together all of the dry ingredients.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the wet ingredients.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well. It is easier to use your hands, so dig in!
  5. To roll it out, I find it is much easier to use my hands. It isn’t a sticky dough, but it is too sticky for a roller. Just grab about a softball sized amount and press it out to 1/4 inch thick using your hands. Don’t flour your surface, it won’t incorporate into the cracker and you’ll be left with powdery crackers. It won’t stick to the countertop. If the dough sticks to your hands, just lightly dampen your fingers (not too wet, or you’ll make the dough too wet!) and keep pressing it out. Using a knife or a cookie cutter, cut out your shapes. Using a small spatula, carefully slide it underneath each cracker and place the cracker on the prepared baking sheet about 1 inch apart.
  6. You can poke holes using a fork so the crackers have air holes – and look like store-bought crackers 😉
  7. Bake for 15-18 minutes, keeping an eye on them so they do not burn.
  8. Allow the crackers to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer them to a cooling rack. They’ll firm up in the cooling process.

Cold and Flu Season

With cold and flu season upon us, there are some very easy and practical ways we can boost our immune system and the immune system of our children.

  1. Plants: An apple a day keeps the doctor away, right? It is imperative to eat lots of colorful fruits and vegetables. Those colors are more than just appealing to the eye. Each color provides a different antioxidant power. Those antioxidants destroy the free radicals that weaken our immune system and are responsible for making us feel sick when we catch a bug.
  2. Soap and water: Washing hands regularly with soap and water is the best way to keep from introducing germs to the inside of our body. But be sure to use plain soap, not fragranced soap or anti-bacterial soap. Though they sound like a good idea, fragranced soaps contain many synthetic chemicals that actually destroy the good bacteria on our skin and also weaken our immune system.
  3. Fermented food: Fermented foods contain probiotics, which are the good bacteria your body needs to survive. Without a healthy gut flora, your immune system is compromised and the viral and bacterial infections have a better chance of dominating throughout your body.
  4. AVOID sugar: Lab tests have shown that your immune system is weakened by more than 50% just a mere 30 minutes after eating simple/processed sugars. This weakened state is still present 5 hours later! That means your immune system is still in a compromised state from one meal or snack as you imbibe on another meal or snack containing more non-whole foods. It stays perpetually suppressed, and unable to fight infection when eating a SAD (Standard American Diet). This brings us back to point #1. Eat plants.
  5. Exercise: Exercise boosts the production of microphages, the kind of white blood cells that “eat” bacteria and viruses. Better yet, head outside for exercise and gain the benefit of fresh air and Vitamin D!
  6. Sleep: Sleep increases the number of white blood cells boosting your immune power. Conversely, lack of sleep increases inflammation in the body and reduces immune function.
  7. Reduce Stress: Easier said than done, right? But it is important to find ways to reduce stress because excessive unresolved stress weakens our immune system, and increases inflammation which increases our chances of getting sick. Find a way to relax and be still & calm, and meditate daily.

In addition to those recommendations above, there are some nutritional supplements that can further boost the immune system. It is always best to consume your nutrients from food, but in the toxic world we live in now, that isn’t always possible, even with a whole-food plant-based diet, because in many cases the soil in which our food is grown has been depleted of vital nutrients our bodies require for optimal health. Here are some of my favorites to supplement with:

  1. Probiotics: as mentioned above, without proper colonization of good bacteria we are at reduced capacity to fight the bad bacteria, leaving us susceptible to getting sick.
  2. Vitamin C: Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that is a catalyst for many enzymatic and neurological reactions in our body. Without adequate vitamin C we are in a compromised position to fight germs.
  3. Vitamin D3: Studies show that people who supplemented with Vitamin D3 during the cold and flu season had significantly lower rates of infection. That is because Vitamin D3 increases our body’s production of cathelicidin, which is an antimicrobial compound that helps fight viral and bacterial infections. Vitamin D is vital in facilitating normal immune system function. Since it isn’t always possible to get enough Vitamin D from sun (especially in northern climates where the temps get so low that even when we are outside, we are covered head to toe to keep warm and sunshine never reaches our skin).
  4. Zinc: Zinc is required for normal functioning of white blood cells, improving the immune system’s ability to fight off infection.

Also, give essential oils a try! Supporting your immune system with essential oils is another easy way to ensure your body stays strong enough to fight the invaders. Applying and diffusing are two easy and efficient ways to use essential oils safely.

Why Do I Need A Health Coach

You want total mental, physical, and spiritual wellness.

A health coach can help you navigate through the muddy waters and help you sync all areas of your life so you have a foundation of overall health and wellness. Once you feel balanced, it is easier to let go of unhealthy patterns and stick with healthful habits.

You feel something is off with your health and you don’t know what it is.

A health coach can dig deep into the root of your imbalance and help you find ways to feel your best.

You don’t understand why you have gained the weight or can’t lose weight.

If over the years the extra few pounds have stayed on you, or no matter what you do, you can’t lose weight, guidance is critical. Perhaps there are many dietary changes that you need, but you don’t know where or how to start. A health coach will help you identify the easiest changes to make today that will make the biggest impact on your health.

You have cravings that you don’t know how to handle. 

You figure that you don’t have any control over the cravings so you just give in, every time, year after year. A health coach will help you identify the cause of the cravings and empower you to stop the pattern.

The people around you are overweight or unhealthy. 

A health coach can help you decipher the truth about what is healthy and what is not. And guide you through making healthy changes amidst people in your inner circle who may not be on the path to wellness.

You want to lose weight fast, so you are considering which diet to try. 

Strict diets usually don’t work and are potentially more damaging to your health and well-being. A health coach will cut through the noise and teach you how to make healthy decisions, one choice at a time.

You don’t have enough time for yourself. 

You feel there are not enough hours in a day and you simply don’t have any time to devote to yourself for self-care, exercise, and cooking. A health coach will help you figure out what you can do to finally take care of yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically. Because they are all interconnected.

You are stressed out with family and work responsibilities. 

If you suffer from stress or anxiety, a health coach will teach you about the relationship between stress and chronic disease and help get to the bottom of what is causing the stress and anxiety in the first place.

Your family needs to eat better but you aren’t sure how to accomplish that with limited time. 

There are countless messages bombarding us about health and resources from cookbooks, diet books, commercials, restaurants, and products labeled “healthy.” There are conflicting messages on media and social media and you don’t know what is false or real but you do know that you need to improve your and your family’s diet. Maybe you aren’t sure your spouse or kids will be “all-in” with these healthy changes. A health coach can guide your whole family to make the process easier and understandable. And FUN!

You are confused about whether meat, protein, carbs, dairy, produce, or GMO foods are healthy.

Every existing diet seems to profess the complete opposite of every other diet. How do you know what is healthy for you? A health coach will help you determine what foods are healthy for YOU and what will work for YOU.

Nothing has worked before so you continue to have chronic health issues. 

If you suffer from black and white thinking, and you have given up because nothing you have tried before worked. If you are suffering from chronic health issues from blood sugar imbalance, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, inflammation or arthritis, or any other health issues, you may be able to improve your health quickly through food and nutrition. A health coach can help you wade through the heaps of nutrition research to figure out what is at the root cause of your health issues and how to get well.

You DO know what you need to do, but having trouble staying on track. 

Life happens. Stressful events, parties, holiday’s, a busy schedule. A health coach can help with accountability and advice when you know it is tough for you to handle all life has to throw at you when you are trying hard to create healthy habits and drop the old unhealthy habits.

You want to be a more positive influence on those around you.

Your number 1 priority should be to establish healthy habits for YOU. Through that process, you will inevitably become a positive role model for the people around you. A health coach can help you define what health & wellness is for you and provide you with ways to inspire others along your journey, whether it’s your family, friends, your community, or coworkers.

 

If you are ready to get started on your path to holistic wellness, contact me at naturalhealthyfamily427@gmail.com. I coach in person or over skype. I am excited to work alongside you.

Animal Protein is Damaging Your Health

Protein is found in both animals and plants. Our body can make some of the protein it needs, but not all. Therefore, certain amino acids are deemed essential because we must consume them in the foods we eat. It is true that animal proteins contain higher proportions of these essential amino acids, but it is important to note that having a higher proportion of protein is actually quite damaging, not advantageous, to your health.

Animal Protein Lacks Fiber

Plant protein comes packaged with fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. Animal protein comes with exactly none of these. That means that meat, fish, eggs, poultry, and dairy have no fiber whatsoever.

A high fiber diet is associated with decreased cancer risk, specifically colon and breast cancer, as well as other conditions such as Crohn’s Disease, ulcerative colitis, constipation, diverticulitis, and can even decrease the risk of stroke, high cholesterol, and heart disease. No animal food can do that. In fact, animal foods promote those very diseases.

Animal Protein Promotes Production of IGF-1

When we eat proteins that have a higher proportion of the essential amino acids, as animal proteins do, it results in higher levels of the hormone insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1). IGF-1 encourages, stimulates, and amplifies cell division and growth in both healthy cells and cancer cells. Consuming animal proteins is like pouring lighter fluid on a flame. It encourages rapid growth of cancer cells which is exactly why high circulating levels of IGF-1 is consistently associated with an increased cancer risk. It is literally speeding up cancer growth.

TMAO

TMAO is a substance that injures the lining of our vessels, causes inflammation, and promotes the formation of cholesterol plaques in our blood vessels which make them less heathy and can lead to heart attack, stroke, and death.

When we eat animal protein, its carnitine interacts with our gut bacteria to form something called trimethylamine which then gets metabolized by the liver into trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO). Consuming animal proteins result in higher levels of circulating TMAO.

Studies have shown that those who eat an exclusively plant-based diet appear to form little to no TMAO.

Choline is another source of TMAO. Here is where it gets tricky. We do not have any dietary need for carnitine, but we do require dietary choline. So how can we get the choline we need while staying protected from TMAO? The protection received from eating a plant-based diet. It seems the plants protect our guts like a coat of armor, so consuming choline will not lead to the formation of TMAO. Even though we eat choline in plants, the protection is in place, relieving the concern of TMAO in plant-based diets.

Phosphorus

Animal protein contains high levels of phosphorus. When we consume too much phosphorus, our body tries to normalize the levels with a hormone called fibroblast growth factor 23 (FGF23). FGF23 is harmful to our blood vessels, can lead to abnormal enlargement of our cardiac muscle, is associated with heart attacks and even death. So, too much phosphorus results in increased levels of FGF23 which is highly problematic to our cardiovascular health.

Iron

Another big question that plant-based eaters get, besides “Where do you get your protein?” is “Where do you get your iron?” There are 2 forms of iron. Heme iron (animal based) and non-heme iron (plants). The iron in animal foods is highly absorbable. But that may not be such a good thing. Excess iron is a huge problem, more of a problem that anemia (too little iron).

One of the problems with heme iron is that it can produce free radicals. Free radicals damage cell structures such as proteins, membranes, and DNA. Heme iron can also cause the formation of N-nitroso compounds within our body, which are potent carcinogens. So, it isn’t surprising that high intake of heme iron is associated with many kinds of cancers as well as many other diseases.

While we definitely need iron, the absorption rate from a plant based diet is more than adequate and we can avoid the problems associated with heme iron.

High Sulfur

Animal proteins have a higher concentration of sulfur-containing amino acids and this will induce a subtle state of acidosis. To compensate for this highly acidic state within the body, the body will draw calcium from the bones, which has a damaging effect on bone health. Eating cheese and drinking milk, which we have been told will build strong bones, has quite the opposite effect. It damages bone health leading to osteoporosis. Milk, does not do a body good.

Cholesterol

Though the egg industry will tell you that the egg is the perfect protein, that can’t be farther from the truth. Of course the egg industry will fund studies showing that eggs are in fact a healthy part of a balanced diet. It is in their best interest that we keep buying and consuming eggs.  However, eggs are a huge source of dietary cholesterol. We do not need to consume any cholesterol at all. Our body makes and regulates exactly what it needs. Most animal foods, including “lean” meats, contain copious amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol. Currently the number 1 cause of death for both men and women in the United States is heart disease, and diets high in saturated fats and dietary cholesterol directly promotes heart disease.

All the nutrition you need, all of the macro and micro nutrients the body requires without damaging and deadly effects can be found in plant foods. Plant foods are life-promoting. The only 2 things you cannot get from plants are Vitamin D which comes from safe sun exposure and Vitamin B12 which comes from healthy soil. Since you aren’t likely to eat a spoonful of organic dirt, it is wise to look into a safe B12 supplement and get plenty of sunshine daily.

Cornbread Muffins

I love a good cornbread, and these couldn’t be easier to make. They’re sweet and delicious and a perfect accompaniment to a hearty soup or stew.

1 cup non-GMO cornmeal

1 cup oat flour (brown rice flour works well, too)

1 tbsp aluminum free baking soda

2 tbsp coconut palm sugar

1 cup non-dairy milk

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/4 cup maple syrup

  1. Heat oven to 400.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until combined.
  4. Pour batter into prepared muffin pan and bake for 20 minutes.

Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Pancakes

Another tasty pancake option!

1 chia egg **

1/2 cup plain coconut milk yogurt

1/2 cup non-dairy milk (I used Oat Milk)

1 1/4 cup gluten free baking flour

1/2 tsp aluminum free baking powder

1/4 tsp Himalayan sea salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1 large honey crisp apple, peeled, cored and minced (I used my food processor for this. Alternatively, you could also grate it using a grater. I don’t recommend applesauce, it’s too runny)

  1. Heat a griddle to medium high.
  2. To a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients together.
  3. Add the wet ingredients and mix well, until there are no lumps.
  4. Fold in the minced/grated apple.
  5. Ladle onto the hot griddle and cook each side for about 5 minutes each side, until golden brown. I have found that letting the batter sit for about 5 minutes before ladling into the griddle helps the batter “settle” and it doesn’t spread so thin.

**To make a chia egg use 1 tbsp of chia seeds and 3 tbsp of water. Mix together and let sit for a moment, it will turn gelatinous.