8 life changing health tips to improve thinning hair and overall health

 

woman wearing black coat
Photo by Radu Florin on Pexels.com

This is a tough one to write but I’m giving you some realness today. Of all the PCOS and hashimotos symptoms I have dealt with, the hair thinning has been the hardest for me.  It was also the canary in the coal mine, showing up in my early 20s as my very first indicator that something in my body was imbalanced.

I grew up hiding behind a thick wavy mane of shiny auburn locks. My hair became such an integral part of my identity that losing it felt like losing a dear friend. I grieved my hair. I denied it. I wore strange hairstyles and ugly bandanas. And no matter how good the rest of me felt, it was there in the background softly hissing in my ear that I was ugly, worthless and damaged.

I had naively thought that doctors would be able to quickly identify the cause and send me on my way with a simple solution. But my blind faith in doctors turned to despair after years of hopping from doc to doc that led to no conclusion and very little hair on my head.

It may sound so shallow to someone with good hair, but those with hair problems understand, hair loss can put you on a psychological roller coaster and make you rethink your entire life. Hair loss sparked my interest in nutrition, and it eventually led to both my PCOS and hashimotos diagnoses, albeit a decade later.

Perhaps the most frustrating part has been my unique situation as a working hairstylist. Seeing and touching beautiful, normal manes every day and knowing I’m still so far from that has sent me reeling into episodes of deep depression and crushing anxiety on multiple occasions. But being a hairstylist has also given me a unique advantage, as I’ve learned a handful of tips and tricks for rocking thinning hair that I use on myself and my clients daily. Most of my clients don’t believe me when I tell them I have experienced super excessive hair loss “your hair looks super full?” they always say with a puzzled look on their faces. And it’s true, I’ve found a combination of lifestyle adjustments and styling tricks to help me rock the hair I do have, stop shedding excessively and even wake up a few sleeping follicles.

So please, don’t lose hope. Thanks to a healthier lifestyle and a few hair tweaks I can actually say I am in a much better place hair wise and am ready to dish my tips in order to help anyone else who needs a boost in the follicular department.

As I write this, I am sitting at a pool with my hair down. Not slicked back into a teeny weeny ponytail that has come to be my default for years. Nope. My hair is down, and no one is giving me the side eye or staring awkwardly at my scalp during conversation. And while I’m not going to be cast in a Pantene commercial anytime soon, I can honestly say this is one of the few times in over a decade that my hair looks normal. I also have lots of fine frizzy regrowth, that most people would find irritating but is a very welcome addition to my particular head.

This is a two part blog post, but today I’ll be talking more about the diet/lifestyle side of things, because there is no sense trying to cover hair loss while still thinning excessively. It’s like shovelling your walks in a snowstorm and ain’t nobody got time for that.
As a student of holistic nutrition one of my favorite quotes is ‘what we eat can either be the safest most powerful medicine, or the slowest poison.’ This speaks volumes about the state of modern health and how important a healthy diet is to staving off disease and even reversing existing health issues.

Heathy eating should be a combination of adding the right things into our diets while simultaneously removing the wrong things. Finding a diet that works for you and your own health objectives can be a long process and I highly recommend working with a health professional such a holistic nutritionist, health coach, or naturopath on your journey. Foods that are harming your particular body may be perfectly healthy for other individuals so don’t just go crazy eliminating everything in the world, but also don’t assume that you can continue eating the way you always have because you don’t have any major symptoms.  Spoiler alert, hair loss is a symptom, especially when it manifests at a young age in a person with no genetic predisposition.

I have spent years of trial and error trying to fix my own hair probs and know how confusing all the conflicting information out there can be so I’ve complied my very best advice to start restoring your hair and your health today.

Take it slow, celebrate even the small victories and remember, we are all so much more than our hair.

1. Limit your intake of foods that cause inflammation

If you are dealing with unexplained hair loss, gluten dairy and grains should be the first things you think about removing from your diet. Sometimes even healthy foods can cause inflammation in people with intolerances so it is wise to be tested for allergies. You can do your own testing for free by completing an elimination diet, and carefully observing your reaction to foods during the reintroduction phase. I completed a whole 30 diet to identify some of my intolerances, I also ditched ALL GLUTEN and almost all DAIRY and GRAINS with the exception of grass fed butter and some occasional rice. I know giving up these three ingredients may seem super limiting, but trust me, it’s not. That’s why I’m here writing this blog. Cooking without these things has opened a whole new realm of food possibilities and my food horizons are expanding everyday.

2. Heal your gut

So much modern disease starts in the gut and healing your gut lining is a super important step when it comes to healing chronic inflammation. A healthy gut is better able to absorb nutrients form your food. You can eat all the kale and broccoli in the world but if your gut is compromised you are probably only absorbing a fraction of the nutrients. Heal and seal that gut lining! Make BONE BROTH, PROBIOTICS, and FERMENTED FOODS a part of your DAILY diet. I almost always have a slow cooker simmering away with some grass fed bones and fragrant veggies. I will literally ladle it into my mug and sip it throughout the day like tea. I also make my own kraut, kimchi, and kombucha. Take a good quality probiotic, no, it won’t be cheap but you should feel a difference within a few weeks.

3. Improve your bodies acid alkaline balance

Your blood maintains it’s own PH of between 7.35 and 7.45 but this doesn’t mean eating all the acid forming foods will have no effect on your body. An overly acidic body can leach vitamins and minerals from organs and bones as well as lead to all kinds of issues including unhealthy hair. One of the easiest ways to obtain PH balance is to squeeze lemon into hot water and drink it on an empty stomach first thing in the morning. It sounds strange because lemons are acidic, but they actually help increase your bodies PH. You also want to aim for about 50% of your diet to be alkaline (mineral rich fresh veggies and fruit) Invest in a water filter that puts important minerals back into your water and aim to drink at least 8 glasses daily but push yourself to get a full 3 litres.

4. Get all of your aminos acids

Aminos are the building blocks of protein and thus the building blocks of our hair, our hair is literally made of protein after all. To better assimilate protein, avoid eating foods that require different digestive juices at the same time. Focus on eating simply. This way your body can optimally digest each ingredient you are taking in. This may seem strange and go completely against the way you grew up eating but try to avoid eating protein and excess carbs at the same meal, try to eat only one animal protein at a time and don’t consume protein with excess fat. One easy way to get readily usable aminos into your body is by drinking COLLAGEN PEPTIDES daily. I rotate between marine collagen and organic grass fed bovine collagen. I mix it into my coffee or tea every morning and stir it into my bone broth throughout the day. It tastes a bit weird, but not terrible, and I definitely notice a difference in not just my hair but also nails and skin when I am consistent with it. It is super important to eat only organic, pastured proteins when consuming animal products including collagen peptides.

5. Take the proper supplements

In a perfect world we would obtain the majority of our nutrition from the foods we eat but people experiencing unexplained hair loss likely need a bit of help. Modern agriculture has depleted the nutrients in our foods while genetic modification, pesticides and herbicide use has wreaked havoc on our guts. Being overweight and simultaneously malnourished is becoming more and more common in developed nations and this can lead to a wide range of ailments, including hair loss. Some of the most important vitamins and minerals for women experiencing hair loss are Iron, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, B vitamins (in particular biotin) Iodine, Selenium and Zinc. It is wise to get tested for deficiencies prior to supplementation, but when in doubt adding a high quality, organic multivitamin is a great place to start.

In my particular case, I have been chronically deficient in Iron for years.  Apparently this is fairly common in young women with diffuse hairloss! With over a year of consistent daily supplement my shedding has slowed tremendously but my functional doctor recommends I aim for a ferratin of at least 70 for optimal regrowth ( I still have a ways to go). I also found it helpful to remove my copper IUD to lessen my monthly menstrual flow as Iron is lost with blood. Addressing deficiencies can take time so the sooner you identify them the better. Supplements are not regulated and you could be doing yourself no favors or even harm by choosing the lowest priced option. Make sure your supplements are of a high quality, choose organic whenever possible and pay attention any fillers and additives.

6. Give your digestive system a little boost

Bottom line, you can do all of the above but if your body is not able to properly break down and utilize the nutrition you give it, you will feel like you’re getting nowhere. Taking digestive enzymes, probiotics, sipping on water with apple cider vinegar, and drinking ginger tea are all useful ways to increase your stomach acid and better utilize your foods nutrition. This kind of ties back in to healing your gut lining but I feel it also deserves to be highlighted.  Something I never used to do and now am very conscious of, is slowing down to eat.  I used to be a gross eater, inhaling the next bite before even swallowing the last. Now I chew my food well, and always try to say a quick prayer of gratitude and blessing before each meal. Gobbling down food at lightning speed stresses our digestive system and slows down its ability to absorb vitamins and minerals. Don’t go too long between meals, practice gratitude and mindful eating.

7. Work up a sweat 

Not all exercise will be beneficial for all people. (It’s kind of like diet) But that is not a free pass to forgo consistent exercise. Try a few different things and listen to your bodies cues. If you feel like absolute rubbish after a HIIT class maybe give yoga a go. A good exercise routine should make you feel energised rather than depleted. It should also be something that you truly enjoy so that you keep up with it. I love soccer, Pilates and solo gym workouts so that’s what I stick with. And don’t forget to sweat. The process of sweating itself can be profoundly therapeutic and help your body shed toxins as it sheds fat. I love infrared saunas and also go in the steam room at my gym at least twice a week. Preface your sweat sessions with dry brushing and you are way ahead of the game.

8. Get your mind right 

Spend some time every day in meditation and visualise the hair you want. When you see a beautiful head of hair, don’t feel jealousy or resentment (been there) instead give them a mental, or verbal compliment and be grateful for the hair you do have. The things we focus on are the things we attract to us, as Mother Theresa said, people should be pro peace rather than anti- war. I know it’s hard but try to stop fixating on how thin your hair is. Learn to rock the hair you do have, have fun with it, try out extensions, wigs, and color. Allow yourself to learn from the hair loss and embrace the chance you’ve been given to transform yourself both internally and externally.

It has been over a year since I have implemented all of the above in my own life and I have seen obvious improvements. That being said, my hair is still not what it used to be in my teens (my hair started falling out at 20!) Hair grows in cycles and it can take a long time to see tangible changes so I am treating it as a journey rather than a destination and am enjoying all the many health benefits along the way. I’ll be back soon with some killer styling tips and more hair healthy grain free recipes.

6 major symptoms of Candida overgrowth and 6 effective steps to treat it

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(disclaimer: I am not a doctor, only a former sufferer of Candida who has researched this topic to death. I am happy to provide links to medically backed documentation if needed and while I am not authorized to give medical advice, I am happy to provide suggestions that have worked for me and others in the treatment of Candida overgrowth.)

Candida is an evil, tricky beast. It lives in everyone’s gut and is designed to work symbiotically with our microbiome, but it can quickly become a monster if given the oppurtunity. Some things that trigger candida overgrowth are; excessive carb, sugar and alcohol consumption, antibiotic and hormonal contraceptive use as well as a high stress lifestyle.

Being an opportunistic fungus, it can be notoriously hard to eradicate once it takes over. The best measure of defense against candida is to avoid an overgrowth in the first place. This can be done by opting for natural forms of birth control and avoiding antibiotics when not medically necessary. It is also important to eat a low sugar, grain free diet rich in pre, and probiotics and to manage stress with whatever means necessary.

Unfortunately, thanks to modern high carb, high stress lifestyles candida overgrowth is becoming a chronic problem for many people. Contrary to popular belief, it is not just a female problem, men are also susceptible, however, studies have shown that high estrogen levels can be a contributing factor.

It is common for candida sufferers to be labeled as hypochondriacs due to the long list of vague, seemingly unrelated symptoms, however, it is not to be taken lightly. In severe cases of long term, untreated candida, the fungus can spread into the blood stream leading to effects on the brain, heart, and lymphatic system. It overburdens the liver as your body struggles to filter out endotoxins. It increases intestinal permeability, leading to leaky gut and other associated disorders. It is shown to trigger autoimmune disorders and has even in some studies been linked to higher instances of cancer.

Scary stuff right? In my quest to heal my own autoimmune disorders I kept stumbling back upon the word ‘Candida’ and decided to learn all I could about it. Eventually, I reached the conclusion that treating this yucky fungus would be a necessary first step in my healing journey.

So how do you identify Candida overgrowth in your body and what do you do if you think you’ve got it?

There are some obvious symptoms of candida that shouldn’t be ignored, these include;
1. Fungal infections (yeast infections, jock itch, ringworm, toenail fungus, perioral dermatitis etc.)
2. Fatigue, brain fog and worse than normal forgetfulness
3. Autoimmune disorders and associated symptoms
4. Digestive issues (bloating, gas, gurgling stomach, stomach pain and nutrient deficiencies)
5. Mood swings and irritability
6. Intense carb and sugar cravings

If you recognise two or more of these symptoms in yourself, it is time to get serious about crushing this evil fungal monster, so  you can take back control of your overall health.

One thing I have learned from my own experience, is that Candida is not quick or easy to treat. It may be tempting to just toss back fistfuls of antifungals and go on living, but the process is not so simple. Massive Candida die offs will cause symptoms far worse than the actual Candida itself and is not advised (take it from someone who has learned this one the hard way!)

In order to let your body do a good job of detoxing, it is important that your method of attack is slow and strategic while special care is simultaneously taken to support your liver throughout the process.

There are many candida cleanse kits available online as well as in stores and they are not all created equal!  If you choose to go this route do your research and read reviews. There are also a few super effective antifungals available otc. Because I’m such a granola cruncher, I always opt to go the natural route first, however in in extreme cases of Candida it is recommended that you seek medical advice.

My six most important natural tools for fighting candida are;
1. A parasite cleanse. Parasites may seem unrelated to Candida but they can operate symbiotically. Parasites often reside in your liver and it is vital that the liver be strengthened first so it can do its very important job of removing all the endotoxins produced in the Candida die off. Many anti-parasitic ingredients are also antifungals so starting with a parasite cleanse is a great way to come out swinging and weaken that candida right out of the gate.

2. A well planed diet. When battling candida, a well planned diet is life. A grain free, reduced carb diet is what worked for me but in severe cases a full blown anti candida diet or keto may be necessary. Candida lives off carbs and sugar, it needs to be essentially starved for a long period of time to actually die down to healthy, long term levels. In addition to avoiding high glycemic foods adding fermented foods such as sour kraut and kimchi to your diet, can be helpful to replenish good gut bacteria.

3. Antifungals. One of the trickiest things about Candida is that it can build up a resistance to various antifungals, which leads to the argument that antifungals should be rotated. Still, other scientists would argue that this can lead to quicker strain mutations and make candida stronger in the long run.  I don’t know about you, but I find conflicting advice super confusing.   At the end of the day what worked for me was selecting one high quality herbal antifungal and simultaneously supplementing my diet with natural antifungal food sources such as raw garlic, kefir and pau d’arco tea. Start with the recommended dose and taper it up or down according to your die off reaction.

4. Liver support. Warm water with lemon, dandelion root tea, bitters, these should all become a part of any Candida fighting diet. Your liver will be working overtime for you throughout the duration and is going to need a little extra love to get the job done right.

5. Sauna and dry rubbing. This is a detox tool I personally used with positive results. I am sure people can do a fine candida cleanse without it, but I found it useful to speed up my toxin elimination and it seemed to reduce die off symptoms as well. Rub a bore bristle brush over your body starting at your extremities and moving towards your heart, step into a hot sauna (infrared is best) and get your sweat on. That’s it. Not only is a good form of detox, it has improved my cellulite and made my skin glow.

6. Probiotics. Good ones. They can and should be taken throughout the duration of the candida diet but especially when your course of antifungals is over. Because antifungals will inevitably kill off some good bacteria, it is extremely vital that the good stuff be replenished. I now try to maintain a steady stream of probiotic supplementation for maintenance. I know good probiotics can be pricey, but they are so worth it. I have had scary moments where I’ve noticed symptoms creeping back up when I don’t take them for prolonged periods.

So that’s it, I would say my candida symptoms have improved about 85% since the completion of my cleanse and have stayed steady at this level. I ended up staying on a fairly strict candida diet and antifungals for three full months and continue to supplement with pre and probiotics regularly. Whenever I notice symptoms creeping up I find relief in cutting back carbs and amping up my probiotics.  I plan to undertake another three-month candida cleanse some time in the next year and hope to knock this beast out completely. I’m also quite confident that eating a largely grain free, moderate carb diet has helped me to maintain the progress I have achieved.

On another note… I seriously can not wait to sell my house so I can start messing up my kitchen again! I have so many great grain free recipes just waiting to be dropped. Stay tuned. xx

Sometimes good things come in bad packages – my house selling fiasco

yellow concrete house
Photo by Thgusstavo Santana on Pexels.com

Life can have a weird way of working itself out. I’m reminded of this very lesson in my current life as I go through the tumultuous process of selling my house.

It would seem to the outside observer, everything that could go wrong so far, has.

Initially we listed without an agent, after three months with only five showings we threw in the towel and decided to ante up and re list with a realtor in the spring.

This ended up working in our favour as over the spring our dead market thawed a bit and we were pummelled with showings right out the gate.

We were quickly easing our way towards a sale (I could feel it) when one night as I was vacuuming my basement to prepare for a viewing, I stepped in something wet and smelly. It turns out we had a sewage back up. We had to cancel all upcoming showings and put our listing on hold. At the time I thought, this is the worst possible thing that could happen, but then I got the insurance cheque.

Let’s just say everything was well taken care of, including a fluffy new basement carpet and a good chunk leftover because we did a lot of the work ourselves. Disaster averted.

And then, a week later we got an offer.  After a few shenanigans (including some insulting low balls and writing a bunch of our personal possessions into the offer) we were able to agree on a price. It was less than I had hoped but something I could live with, and it was an offer!

I was sure things were looking up, until I awoke one morning shivering and could almost see my breath hanging in the air. Our furnace had died during an unusual cold patch.

I could hardly believe our luck.

Again, we got an insurance cheque and my husbands friend was able to install a high efficiency furnace that he had refurbished for a fraction of what it would normally cost. He told us our old furnace would have never passed inspection and I realised, this had all once again been a blessing in disguise.

As our closing day approached, we went house hunting and found an adorable place across from a park on a huge lot. I paid the deposit and spent a few glorious days visualising how it would look with our updates and furniture. I had a place worked out for my studio, and big plans for the backyard, and then we got the call. Our buyers financing had fallen through, and they had waited until the very last moment to tell us.

Now here we are again, showing our house almost daily and waiting for the silver lining in all this to reveal itself (as I’m sure it eventually will).

When things seem to be going awry, I’m reminded of a Chinese parable that was told to me as a little girl and has stuck with me throughout my life.

To paraphrase:  A poor famer diligently saves money to purchase a fine horse, but soon after the purchase, the horse runs away. A neighbour offers his condolences saying, ‘sorry to hear about your horse, that is some bad luck,’ to which the farmer replies, ‘bad luck good luck, who can say?’
The neighbour thinks the man is crazy, of course the loss of an expensive horse could be nothing but bad luck, but he is given pause when days later, the farmers horse returns and has brought another fine horse with it.
So, the farmer gives the second horse to his son, but his son is thrown from the horse and badly breaks his leg.
‘Sorry about your sons bad luck’ says the concerned neighbour again upon hearing of the accident, but the farmer calmly replies, ‘bad luck good luck, who can say?’
A week later the emperor comes to the village and takes every able-bodied young man to fight in a gruesome war, because of the broken leg, the farmers son is spared.

The parable goes on but I digress, sometimes things don’t work out, and for good reason. That failed relationship that left you feeling like your heart had been stomped by stilettos may have needed to end to open the door for your soulmate. That job you lost (and hated) finally freed you up to find the career of your dreams.

There are stories of people who have missed flights that have later crashed. I even remember hearing about a woman who worked at the world trade centre sleeping through her alarm for the first time ever on the morning of 9/11.

In my own life, learning of my first pregnancy as a broke, unmarried, 23 year old seemed like a full blown disaster. When those two lines appeared on a pregnancy test a second time, with a barely three month old baby, I basically considered my life to be over. Now at 33 with two amazing sons and a PCOS diagnosis I am so very thankful for both of those successful pregnancies and never does a day pass when I take them for granted.

My entire autoimmune diagnosis has actually ended up transforming my life in so many ways and I am actually healthier in my body and mind than I ever was pre-diagnosis.
Whatever you may be going through at the moment, give it time. It’s hard to see the whole picture when you’re standing in it, but at some point in the future it will all make sense.

Sometimes life hands us lemons, and have you guys seen the prices of lemons lately?

(Have you ever had a tumultuous house selling experience that worked out in the end? Tell me!)

I drank celery juice for 30 days and here’s what happened.

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Celery juice is all the hype these days. Perhaps you too have observed the recent trend of hot girls on Instagram touting it’s health benefits?

If anything can convince me to try out a bizarre health trend with absolutely no medical evidence to back it up, it is the dewy skinned, flowing haired selfies of (often surgically enhanced and photoshopped) babes telling me I too can have a #healthylife if I just power back 16 ounces of salty green sludge every morning.

I have a love hate relationship with juicing. I love drinking fresh pressed juice and can literally feel the plants enzymes flowing into my body and giving my cells life but I hate assembling/ cleaning out my juicer. The bags full of wasted pulp bother me a bit, and I still have not figured out a use for it other than to feed my compost (I’ll keep you posted on that one). I did manage a decent carrot muffin with carrot/ pineapple pulp at one point, but celery pulp, blech!

I don’t even really like celery at all to be honest.

Sure, it finds it’s way into many of my soup recipes and can cool off a plate of hot wings but that’s about it for me. The stringy texture and bitter salty flavor has just never appealed.

As per the medical medium, you are supposed to wake in the morning and down a 16 ounce glass of celery juice on an empty stomach waiting 30 minutes before consuming anything else.

Well, being lazy and adverse to cleaning out my juicer, I decided I would be smart about it and just blend that celery in my trusty vitamix. I thought I would save myself some time, and with a house on the market, the less cleaning I need to do the better.

Between the time I spent powering that green bad boy down (literally gagging over the sink) and then dramatically running to the bathroom for the rest of the day, no time was saved.

Guys, don’t just blend a full bunch of celery into a smoothie without fruity additives. Trust me on this one. Thick, frothy, celery smoothie is not the business.

After my false start I almost dropped the plan entirely. A hot almond latte just seemed so much more enticing in the morning, but for the blog, and those luscious IG models I persevered.  To save time (but for real) I pre-washed my celery the night before and had my juicer set up and ready to go on the counter the next day.

I have to say, drinking fresh pressed celery juice is not what I would consider a treat, but after my traumatic introduction to drinking celery, it was definitely do-able. I knocked that green boy back like a champ and noticed a burst of energy more powerful and longer lasting than any almond latte has ever provided.

The following morning, I dutifully continued with my celery experiment, but decided to add a half cucumber, one lemon and a granny smith apple to the juicer.
(Adding to the celery juice is not prohibited by the medical medium, but is discouraged. Regardless, I didn’t feel like torturing myself every morning for the next month and the extras improved the juice taste so dramatically my kids even knocked back shots of it.)

Even with my controversial add ins, the results of my experiment were pretty amaze.

Celery juice is said to improve skin tone and digestion. It is also great for increasing stomach acid which helps us better absorb nutrients from the foods and supplements we consume. It acts as a diuretic and is helpful in allowing the body to flush out fat and toxins.

Sometimes its easy to miss subtle changes that happen slowly over time so I took before and afters for my own reflection. Once I get over how much I hate how I look in photos, I will post the pics, but for now you will just have to take my word for it.

The whites of my eyes began to appear brighter at just a few days in and the redness in my skin decreased exponentially at around the half way point. I usually put on some bb cream or foundation in the mornings so people don’t ask me if I’m tired or sick, and by the end I honestly didn’t even really need it.

The dark circles under my eyes seemed to lighten, but that could also be due to getting more sleep or having my allergies ease up a bit towards the end. (Snow mold kills me every spring and I have finally found a natural solution that works for me that I can’t wait to talk about in a future post.)

Additionally, I have also noticed less hair shedding in the shower which is a huge win for me. Maybe I can attribute that to the improvement in circulation (celery juice increases it) and the extra iron I was getting. (There’s iron in celery juice, who knew?!)

Finally, I lost a half inch from my waist! Since switching to more of a paleo diet, I’ve actually noticed my body composition shift from very pear shaped to more of an hourglass, my breasts have grown nearly a cup size in the past 6 months without any increase in weight, and I’ve learned this is actually a common occurrence on the paleo diet. I’m not sure if I can attribute the 1/2 inch loss to the celery juice or just my improved diet in general, but I’ll take it.

All in all, I would have to say celery juice is a worthwhile health hack to add to your daily routine. If one month of c-juicing has produced these benefits I can’t wait to see what I will look like in a year (fingers crossed I will transform completely into an ethereal IG goddess… ha!) but in all seriousness, I’m gonna keep juicing those green things and hope to soon replace my coffee with juice entirely in the near future.  A girl can dream right?

Here is my every day version of ‘celery juice’ much improved with my healthy ad ins. (On a side note, has anyone else noticed the price of celery shoot right up since the start of this whole celery juice craze?  Price is yet one more reason to dilute your juice with some tasty, healthy add ins.)

Celery Juice (+ other goodness)

1 large organic bunch of celery – celery is a member of the dirty dozen and not something you can really peel so it should be purchased organic.

1 organic cucumber – These are another dirty dozen member, however sometimes the organic version is so pricey that I will opt for conventional and just be sure to wash it well and peel it before juicing.

1 organic granny smith apple – these have the lowest sugar content of all the apple varieties and add such a crisp, green sweetness to the juice. If you cant find organic, just be sure to peel it.

1 lemon peeled – Lemons are an absolute superfood for your liver. One of my best friends is a nutritionist and she always says one of the easiest things we can do to improve our help is to drink lemon juice on a daily basis.

Optional add ins – ginger, turmeric, cilantro, or parsley. Sometimes I’ll also add one of two of the optional add ins for a little boost of anti-inflammatory detoxing power.

If you can’t do normal celery juice, or want to stretch your juicing budget a little farther, try my version and let me know what improvements you notice in your health!

Happy juicing.

What are nightshades and why they could be effecting your gut health?

 

If you have never heard the term nightshade, you would not be alone, and even if you have, you might not fully understand the health effects they could be having on your body.

In fact, many night shades are widely considered to be health foods but could be having an unhealthy effect on your gut and autoimmunity.

If you are still sitting here wondering what nightshades are, they are from a family of foods called Solanaceae with over 2500 varieties, many of which are inedible, though some are used for medicinal purposes.

Some of the common night shades that you have probably eaten are; potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, tomatillos, chili peppers and gogi berries. The reason these foods can cause problems for some people comes down to their glycoalkaloids, in particular solanine.

Now if you are really wondering what the heck I’m taking, glycoalkaloids can easily be explained as a plants natural defense mechanism, it is most concentrated in the skin and is used to ward off insects and disease. This is why we are technically not supposed to eat green sprout-y potatoes and why people can get super sick from doing so. (Though c’mon, who among us hasn’t sliced off those little nobs and carried on with their potato cooking?)

In addition to Solanine, nightshades contain super high levels of Lectins (plant proteins) that can actually permeate cell walls, causing leaky gut and weird allergic reactions.
An ideal healthy gut can likely handle itself some glycoalkaloids. However, if your gut is already compromised (many of us with autoimmune disease have some level of leaky gut) or if your body displays an allergic reaction to nightshades, a wise choice would be to minimise your intake of them or cut them out entirely.

When I did my elimination diet, I was sure to also eliminate nightshades and discovered I get a severe reaction to eggplants. As a result, I have also cut back on eating peppers, potatoes and tomatoes just in case. My nutritionist informed me that cooked peeled Roma tomatoes are among the least gut offensive nightshades, provided I purchase them in a glass container (no BPA!) so thankfully tomato sauce is still on my menu and I still do enjoy me some peppers and potatoes in moderation.

Finally, it should be said that what is healthy for one person’s body can be incredibly toxic to another person and would never claim that everyone in the world should cut out nightshades entirely. I do highly recommend omitting them during an elimination diet and be very observant of how they affect you when you reintroduce them back into your diet.

For more information on how an elimination diet is an integral part of an overall health overhaul, I wrote a post about it here.

Delicious Herb Falafels

Delicious Herb Falafels

Falafels are one of those amazing foods that meat eaters enjoy as much as vegetarians.

In my vegan days falafels got me through some dark times, but now I am eating to heal my autoimmune diseases and have eliminated most grains and re-introduced pastured meats.

I have seriously never felt better, but that doesn’t mean I’m only into eating meat centric meals.  In fact I still have a well rounded arsenal of delicious grain free vegan recipes I love and would still consider my diet to be largely plant based.

While legumes can be tricky for some guts, I did an elimination diet that revealed garbanzos to be fairly benign for my sensitive belly.

And so, my love for falafel lives on.

The biggest problem with falafels is the price tag on the pre-made ones.  It’s crazy to me considering I know how to make these delicious little bad boys right at home, and I also know how ridiculously cheap it is to do so.  Two dozen falafels only cost a couple bucks to throw together.

They store in the fridge or freeze very well so you can make them ahead and always have them on hand. They are perfect to round out a salad, toss into a flatbread or just serve them up with some dips like coconut tzatziki, hummus, or my favorite cashew cheese!

The key to authentic tasting falafel that are crispy outside and fluffy inside is using dried garbanzo beans soaked for 24 hours.  Yes, I’m not joking, dried garbanzos!

Whenever I come across a food blog with falafel recipes that call for canned chick peas I am so outta there!  Not only are these recipes non authentic tasting, but they often call for a breading to get that crisp outer layer.

Real falafels are easy to make, take just a few ingredients and should always be 100% grain free and plant based.  These ones taste like they come from your local shawarma spot.  Try them out today and let me know what you think!

 

 

Delicious Herb Falafels

Ingredients:

1.5 – 2 cups dried garbanzos soaked for 24 hours (should look like roughly 3 cups after soaking)

1 shallot

3 large garlic cloves

1/4 cup cilantro

1/4 cup parsley

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp pepper

1.5 tsp salt

1 tbsp. garbanzo bean flour

0.5 tsp baking soda

1/4 cup refined coconut oil

 

Directions:

Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend into breadcrumb texture

Gently form small balls about the size of ping pong balls

Heat oil and fry until golden brown in two batches

Drain on a paper towel and serve with your favorite dips such as, cashew cheese, coconut tzatziki, or hummus.

 

 

 

 

Braised beef tacos – gluten free – grain free – dairy free – kid friendly

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It sounds a bit gruesome but I love to split a whole cow from a local farm with friends and family.  Other than hunting wild game (which, there is just no way) this is probably the most economical, humane and sustainable way to eat meat.  You know exactly ‘who’ you are eating and how they lived.  Its easier to meal plan when you have a couple months supply of beef in the freezer, there are less trips to the grocery store and less food waste overall.

Throwing out meat is something that just does not happen around my house.

For a long time I was vegan, and for an ever longer time I completely abstained from red meat, opting instead for poultry or fish.  In turn, for a long time, my blood tests have revealed super low ferritin levels (ferritin is just a fancy word for a body’s total iron stores.)

As it turns out, having low ferritin is often associated with hashimotos, and low ferritin can even end up being the true culprit behind many hashimotos symptoms (specifically, hair loss, cold sensitivity, fatigue and even heart palpitations!)

No amount of Spinach, molasses, lentils or supplementation could ever seem to do much for raising those stubborn ferritin levels.  For years, they consistently hovered between 4 and 17, but when I finally added red meat back into my diet (and cut out those grains) all of my symptoms slowly began to improve.

My ferritin levels finally crept above 20, and best of all, my hair shedding slowed dramatically.

I still love a good plant based meal, but I no longer believe that eating meat is ethically wrong.  I feel it is my first priority to be a good mom to my kids and being a suffering wreck riddled with autoimmune disease and anxiety was truly effecting my ability to parent and just exist in the world.

Anyone who has experienced either can attest, hashimotos (and PCOS) can be downright painful.

I now believe eating ethically is all about making better choices about the meat we do eat and eating less of it overall.  The most important thing we can do is listen to our bodies.  If something in our health is amiss, chances are high that something in our diet is amiss too.

I love Mexican flavors and find that this braised beef is a foolproof yet super flavorful way to cook almost any cut of beef. I have tried this with chuck, sirloin and tip roasts, it always turns out.  When in doubt, ask your butcher to recommend a roast that braises well.  The key to this beef is in the long game.  You have to make the time to cook it super low and slow, and if your cut of beef is particularly large and lean, cut it into smaller chunks before searing and braising.

My husband begs me to make this at least once a week and thinks I’m an absolute superstar every time I pull it from the oven.  My picky kids like it too.

I love this beef on grain free tortillas, but it is also a treat served over mashed potatoes or cauliflower rice.  Pair it with a side of guacamole, pico de gallo, and slaw and you’ve got dinner.

Tip * Feel free to sub the beef for chicken, just reduce the cooking time by half.

 

Ingredients:

3-4 pound beef roast

Spice rub ; 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp coriander, 1 tsp oregano, 1 tsp chili powder, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp onion powder

4 tbsp olive oil

2 cups beef stock

1 diced jalapeno

3-4 whole garlic cloves peeled

2 diced roma tomatoes

1 cup salsa verde ( I highly recommend the Herdez brand)

1 lime

1 bunch chopped cilantro (include the stems)

 

Directions :

Preheat oven to 300 degrees

Let the beef sit at room temperature for about a half hour prior to cooking

Prepare the spice rub

Cut the roast into smaller roughly 1 pound pieces

Drizzle the beef with 2 tbsp olive oil and roll in the spice rub to coat

In a dutch oven or heavy pot with a lid heat the remaining oil and sear the beef on all sides to a light brown color

Pour in the beef stock and scrape up the bits on the bottom of the pot into the liquid

Toss in the salsa verde, tomatoes, jalapenos, garlic cloves and a handful of chopped cilantro.

The liquid should come no more than 1/2 way up the beef

Bring up to a low simmer, cover with a lid and put into the preheated oven

Try to forget about it for 2.5 -3 hours

Tip * If you are using a super lean cut flip the beef halfway through cooking so both sides spend some time immersed in the cooking liquid.

Assemble your tortillas, slaw and guacamole

After three hours turn off the oven and let it sit in the oven another hour

Pull out the beef and shred with forks

Optionally you can use an immersion blender to turn the liquids in the pot into a smooth gravy.  If you are feeding kids you might want to pull out some, or all, of the jalapenos before pureeing.

Mix the shredded beef back into the sauce and enjoy!