If you have any sense of humor, you will want to head over to the Thug Kitchen blog right now… then probably stop reading my blog and bookmark theirs instead! Well, I hope not, but reading Thug Kitchen makes me crack up and think of the MANY people… mostly men… who would actually read a health & wellness blog if it were filled with expletives, sarcasm, wise-cracks, and a serious dose of wit. Thug Kitchen is hardcore nutrition - vegan, vegetarian, animal-friendly, eat-your-greens nutrition - meets just plain hardcore. Treat yourself to a laugh!
How to indulge in something luxuriously sweet and tasty and remain true to your health? This is the perfect solution — Avocado Chocolate Mousse. It’s easy to whip up for a special occasion dessert, tastes like a dream, and fits my healthy lifestyle like a glove.
I usually use a mashup of Renee Loux’s recipe for this mousse - more or less of her ingredients depending on what I have in the kitchen. It tends to all taste good with the right amount of tweaking at the end, if necessary. I LOVE how she blends sweet, salty, and umami flavors in this dessert, which is different from most avocado based desserts I’ve seen. This is Valentine’s worthy, I promise - so give it a try!
Avocado Chocolate Mousse:
2 C ripe avocado
1/2 C grade B maple syrup
2 flat spoonfuls coconut oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp shoyu or tamari
3/4 C plain/pure cocoa powder (no sugar added; although I have used a mixture of plain and sweetened cocoa before when I was running out… and it was great if you have the sweet tooth!)
Mix all ingredients until very well blended, smooth, and creamy in a food processor. Chill for at least one hour in a sealed container before eating. Stores up to 4 days in the fridge. Serve in ramekins with raspberries and mint, as Renee does, or with fresh strawberries, coarse sea salt, and a dash of cayenne pepper like me!
It can be hard to determine the necessity of going gluten-free. The article above, for me, illustrates a big point in the argument of gluten free vs. grain free. For most people who feel they are “gluten sensitive”, but do NOT have celiac disease, I believe they feel better when they not only cut out gluten, but when they make a concerted effort to cut back on eating grains in general - transitioning their habits into eating more vegetables, fruit, and nuts instead of snacking on crackers, bread, chips, or cookies. This introduces more nutrients and less refined carbohydrates in general into the diet, and will benefit mostly anyone who tries it out. Various people use “gluten free” in various ways… some substituting their wheat crackers for rice crackers, their bread for gluten-free bread, and cookies for gluten-free versions 1 for 1… while others use it as a catalyst to eat less grain in general. The latter group is where I notice the most marked improvements in overall health. How do you feel??
A few weeks ago, in December just before the holidays, things caught up with me and my immune system crashed and burned a bit. I caught a cold and cough, then I overdid it physically during Christmas and had horrible back pain, then I didn’t sleep for a week, became exhausted, lost my appetite, and had some major digestive issues flare up. It was like a domino effect that I couldn’t stop! Things kept happening one after the other, despite what I thought were some pretty good efforts on my part - taking herbs, canceling one day of work, taking OTC stuff, steam inhalations, flu prevention, chiropractic etc. I started to worry pretty badly about the turn my health had taken, especially in regards to being pregnant and only 9 weeks away from this birth! Mentally I was draining myself.
I realized that I have been over-doing it, physically AND mentally. I needed to rest. Luckily, I had 3 days between Christmas and New Years to do just that, and boy how it did wonders for my health. I stayed in bed almost a whole day. I delegated household chores to my husband. I walked barefoot in the grass outside. I sat in the sun and meditated with my animals wandering around me. I took time each of those days to nourish my mind, heart, and body. I encourage you not to lose track of the importance of nourishing yourself, especially if you are one who takes care of people for a living. Moms, nurses, teachers, mediators, Dads, nannies, doctors, caregivers — don’t forget yourself and the space you need to recharge your batteries. I love the image above to remind us all how to “take a break” before we take someone’s head off… or just can’t keep up anymore. ♥
It is STILL flu season, what are you doing about it? In my house, we have a box devoted to herbs and supplements to use in acute situations or for prevention. Here is what I recommend for natural flu prevention for your family. Use one or two - but a few of these products in combination give the best results. Happy Healing.
Elderberry and/or Andrographis Extract: These are two great anti-viral herbs that boost your immune health and help fight pathogens. Use these especially if you are teacher, traveler, or health-care practitioner who finds yourself around lots of people this season. Other anti-virals you can buy over the counter are grapefruit seed extract or echinacea angustifolia. Note: Most of these herbs work best when used BEFORE you have full blown symptoms, so taking preventatively is the safest bet.
Cayenne capsules or Garlic oil: Cayenne and Garlic are both cooking herbs that have enormous health benefits. Using cayenne pepper as a supplement in capsules can prevent flu, colds, headaches, and arthritis. Making a simple garlic oil is a great use of time. It helps in any case of lung ailment, cough, cold, flu and flu prevention, & infections both bacterial and viral. Note: Make garlic oil by mincing or crushing about 6-8 oz fresh garlic cloves into a mason jar. Add just enough olive oil to cover the garlic and let sit in a warm place with a tight lid on for about 3 days, shaking daily. Strain the mixture and store. You can take 1 tsp of this oil internally up to every hour for colds, flu, fever, and infections. It also makes a great ear-drop oil for ear infections!
Oscillococcinum Homeopathic Remedy: I think it’s best to take these over the counter vials for prevention, rather than waiting until you have active symptoms.
Multivitamin: If there is ever a time to take your vitamins - it’s now! Taking a well-rounded whole foods multivitamin is a safe way to ensure you are getting all the nutrients you need and replenishing your daily stores. I like Catalyn from Standard Process or Rainbow Light Organic Multivitamins.
Five Mushroom Formula: Ask your Chinese medicine practitioner about Wu Gu Fang (“5 Mushroom Formula” by Golden Flower). Because it is both tonifying and can kill pathogens, it is safe and effective to take throughout the season as a preventative and can also be used in the initial exposure phase of influenza. It contains 5 species of mushroom that have the power to kill viruses and stimulate your immune system. Good stuff!
Don’t Eat Sugar or Junk Food: Numerous studies show that eating refined sugar is immediately followed by a decrease in immune function - happening within minutes of consumption. Don’t allow your body to get bogged down by sugar and junk food during this season… it’s not worth it to yourself or your family. Instead, strengthen your defenses with warm meals like hearty soups, cooked veggies and rice, meat broths, and plenty of water or herbal teas.
This year is officially over! How are you celebrating? Below are some of my favorite Medicine Kitchen moments from 2012 - my first year writing this little blog and first year of my new home practice. Thanks to all the clients who have made my life thrive and grow this year!
- Still love to make variations of these bowls for a healthy dinner or lunch to go.
- A good reminder for me to take a breath and recognize the natural beauty around me.
- For some reason, I often forget about these amazing nori wrap snacks!
- Love the simplicity of this effective home remedy.
- Still find this inspiring and necessary for all to read.
- Kinda craving this noodle dish right now, actually.
- Utilizing this healing broth not only for fertility but for chronic illness, gut problems, and weak immunity.
Things have gotten a little hectic the past couple months, but it is my goal to keep writing and experimenting with what can only be a year full of new learning adventures in our home. Here’s to a great launch of 2013. ♥
Just in time for the holidays, the MK Herbal Med Kit has arrived! This is a kit of the Top 10 most commonly used herbal remedies and first aid products available - complete with a how-to-use insert. It really is a total package. Herbs and natural medicines need to be used promptly when symptoms arise, so having these things on hand will give you maximum success in treating your family’s health naturally. This is also a great way to start building your home herbal medicine cabinet - it’s all the essentials you need to get started and turn your home into a true, all natural Medicine Kitchen - just like mine. Pretty soon you’ll be saying “Who needs Tums?!” Here’s a breakdown of what’s inside:
-Ching Wan Hun (topical ointment): The best burn cream in the universe. Also for scrapes, scratches, mild and severe burns.
-Arnica Cream (topical ointment): For deep bruising, swelling, sprains and strains.
-Zheng gu Shui (liquid topical rub): For trauma, pain, joint problems, sprains, and tendonitis. Combine this rub with Arnica cream for best results.
-Yin Chiao San (tablets): Sore throat remedy. The best.
-Ban Lan Gen (packets): Anti-viral, anti-microbial herb tea packets that help combat flu, sore throat, tonsillitis, and colds. Use with Yin Chiao tablets for best results.
-Bi Yan Pian (teapills): Sinus congestion, Sinus pressure/pain, Sinus infection remedy.
-Suan Zao Ren Wan (teapills): Trouble sleeping? Try this before your Melatonin or ZZZquil.
-Curin Wan (vials): Best indigestion, reflux, and over-eating remedy. No need to feel miserable!
-Shuangliao Houfeng San (powder): The best mouth ulcer, cold sore, sore throat, boil, abscess, or ear infection powder spray. Make a poultice for sores or spray directly down throat or into ear for infections.
-SteviaClear Liquid (herbal sweetener): Trial size of nature’s sweetest herb. Use this liquid as a food and beverage sweetener that has no impact on your blood sugar levels.
The MK Herbal Med Kit makes a great holiday gift and a great beginning for anyone looking to transition their home to a natural environment. Call to order/ship or purchase one at your next appointment ($75).
Growing up, I recall peeling off artichoke leaves and picking out juicy pomegranate seeds as two of my favorite ways to enjoy a snack. I realize now, of course, that not every kid is so inclined. My husband, for example, claimed to not have ever seen or tasted a real, fresh stemmed cherry until we met and HE WAS ALMOST 30! We obviously had very different experiences with food as children. As I prepare to have my first child, I’ve been thinking… Why is this? Why are some kids picky eaters and others aren’t? What does it take to get kids interested and excited in eating fresh foods? I know we all innately have our likes and dislikes, but (I have to admit) I believe it also comes from home and the guidance given by parents to their kids at a young age— mainly how familiar you make these foods to the family at large. What’s in the house on a daily basis? What do your children see YOU eating? How much importance is given to fresh and healthy foods vs. frozen, boxed, and convenient? I’ve also learned a few key things from working with clients with resistant children:
1. Kids like to be FAMILIAR with things: Kids can scare easily from new things they haven’t seen or touched or tasted. Too new, too different = Not comforting and not going to go there. So make things familiar, put the veggies out, have them hold and feel them before you even request a bite. Eat them yourself. Set the picture up so that the child is immersed by the good stuff. Research shows they may need to try new things up to 10x to be okay with it.
2. Kids like to Know WHY?: Why should they bother eating this vs. that? Take time to explain, in a calm and positive manner, why it is important and why you eat healthy on your own. One of my cousin’s kids was so upset when she discovered that a piece of beef jerky had a lot of additives and HFCS in it one day, because her parents had told her what damage it can do to your body, in detail. Kids respond much more to specifics if they are told a bit more than the standard “It’s just good for you, so eat it!”
3. Kids won’t eat well if they are NOT HUNGRY: Make sure that snacking all day long is not an option for your picky eaters. If they aren’t that hungry at meal time, they are much more likely to display their pickiness on what they prefer to eat and when.
4. Kids like things that LOOK FUN: My husband says that there is definitely a difference in eating a freshly cooked, vibrant green bean vs. a mushy, soggy one from a can. I think kids pick up on this - they still register flavor and have eyes to see whether something is visually pleasing to them. Play on this and make your food colorful, beautiful, and enticing for those little hands. Go to the source of your food and explore a farmer’s market with fun kids’ activities going on.
5. Kids will follow their parents’ lead through OBSERVATION (to a certain age): Set an example in your kitchen. Over time, as your children see what you eat and why you made these changes, they will first ask questions and then most likely not want to be left out anymore. Kids are in their prime of growing and evolving, and learn new habits much more quickly than adults.
For more info on how to approach kids - browse this great article: “Taking the Icky out of Picky Eaters”.
Want to create a vibrant, healthy, gorgeous Thanksgiving meal? There is so much more creativity beyond the turkey and dressing. I love a colorful, visually stimulating plate and that’s one of the reasons why I LOVE Thanksgiving so much — there is such beauty in the food you are about to eat. My mom and I are especially motivated to create the perfect plate on Thanksgiving day. When a better time to celebrate food, wholeness, and the abundance of nature’s gifts to us all? Inspire this love of colorful, vibrant, nutrient-rich food in your family this year by cooking some bold, healthy side dishes to accompany your bird. Click on the images below for recipes. ♥
Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Gratin with Sage:
Raw Kale Salad with Lemon (gotta have your greens):
Raw Cranberry-Orange-Ginger Relish (a personal MUST!):
Roasted Carrots with Cumin:
Golden Crusted Brussels Sprouts (my husband’s fave):
Roasted Acorn Squash with Chili-Lime Vinaigrette (it’s DELISH):
Happy Cooking and Happy Eating! xo
Some of my clients say “Well, yes I do drink some soda. But only about one a day.” This may not seem like a lot to you, especially when compared with your co-workers or relatives who sip on Big Gulps all day long… but research shows even ONE soda per day is too hazardous for your health. Read about it above!