Healthy Affirmations and Dr. Tom’s Ginger Lemonade!

Healthy Affirmations for the New Year
The New Year is an exciting time—an opportunity to start anew! What a great time to make a new affirmation for the year… I want my family to live a cleaner and healthier life. The holidays have ended and with it, a time of celebration through excess. Many feel bloated and lethargic. January is a perfect time to commit to a cleaner lifestyle through dietary and supplement intervention. Here are some suggestions for ‘cleaning up your body’ and feeling great!

Avoid Inflammatory Foods that can Make Us Feel Bad
Certain foods can be considered ‘pro-inflammatory’ which means that when we ingest them, we create more inflammation or swelling in the body. This inflammation can be the root cause of disease and illness. By changing our diet and avoiding these foods, we can begin to feel good again.

Eat Clean! Following the holidays, many of us can feel bloated, uncomfortable, general malaise, headaches and so on… The best way to feel better is to eat clean. Clean eating is not complicated—it’s probably the simplest diet. This diet can be performed for two to four weeks to ‘clean up the gut’. Here is how you get started. Limit your foods to the following: Fresh organic vegetables and fruit (can be raw and cooked) and natural proteins (no growth hormones, antibiotics, or additives such as preservatives in the meat). If you season your food, use natural sea salt and natural fresh herbs and spices with no synthetic additives. Avoid grain and dairy (milk, butter, cheese) during this period. Following this month, you will very likely feel much better.

At the end of this period, you may continue the suggestions above or maintain the following dietary recommendations to create a healthy gut and immune system:

1. Gluten Elimination: For many of us, gluten sensitivity or intolerance is an obvious. But equally, for others, they do not feel symptoms from eating foods that contain gluten. Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, rye, and barley. Often, oats are contaminated with gluten as well. Gluten is considered a ‘pro-inflammatory’ grain. This is partly because of the over-processing of glutinous grains over the last many decades. A great first step to feel better and having a healthier body is to avoid gluten in your diet. For more information on how to perform a gluten elimination diet, visit: http://www.instituteofimt.com/gluten-sensitivity.php.
2. Avoid Refined Sugars: Refined/processed sugar is toxic to our body. It creates illness and disease. This is evident in today’s rise of diabetes in adults and children. Limiting refined sugars in our diet helps to create a healthier environment in our body that is more conducive to learning. In times of stress, whether it be emotional or other, avoiding refined sugars is ideal. These types of sugar can promote more stress in the body and mind. Limiting sugar intake to natural sweeteners is ideal. Examples of natural sweeteners include: Raw honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, palm sugar, brown rice syrup, molasses, and stevia. For more information on how to avoid refined sugars, visit: http://www.instituteofimt.com/sugar-as-a-neurotoxin.php.
3. Avoid Processed Foods and Preservatives: Processed foods have an abundance of chemicals and synthetic additives. These chemicals are not easily broken down by the liver. The liver is responsible for detoxification which is the process of breaking down toxins in our body for excretion. The liver has a hard time even recognizing many of these additives and preservatives. Without a healthy liver, toxins collect in our body and this can lead to inflammation, illness, and disease. Ultimately, for us to feel good, we have to be healthy. A healthy liver is essential to healthy living.
4. Water, Water, Water! Water can be very helpful in flushing out toxins and reducing inflammation. Increasing the amount of water that we drink can help us feel better.
5. We are all unique and therefore, have unique dietary needs for health. In addition to the above suggestions, there may be additional foods that we don’t tolerate. If you suspect a particular food is creating symptoms, you can avoid that food completely for a period of 4-6 weeks and then reintroduce the food slowly. During this time, you can catalog how you feel and determine if you are sensitive to that food. Some examples of possible food sensitivities include: egg, dairy, corn, soy, nuts. Before performing this type of elimination diet, consider first making sure that the versions of these foods that you are eating is unprocessed. There is always the possibility that you are reacting to the processing of the food rather then the food itself. For example, upwards of 70% of all the soy in our country is genetically modified (GMO). It is optimal to avoid GMO foods in our diet to maintain a healthy gut and immune system.

Nutritional Supplement for a Healthy Digestive System
In addition to eating healthy and maintaining a clean diet, the following recommendations can be helpful to further clean the gut and support optimal digestion of food:

1. Daily Probiotics: There is a lot of press today about the benefits of daily probiotics. Essentially, probiotics are friendly bacteria for our gut. We need this ‘good bacteria’ to help create a defense in our digestive tract to fight off the ‘bad bacteria’ that we encounter every day through our daily intake of food and exposure to pollutants. In addition to promoting immune strength, daily probiotics can also help to reduce digestive symptoms such as diarrhea and constipation.
2. Daily Essential Fatty Acids: Essential fatty acids or omega 3’s are an important part of healthy living. For many persons, the membranes their gut lining are weak. This weakness can create reduced absorption of nutrients as well as increased toxicity in the body. This is called ‘leaky gut syndrome’. Taking daily omega 3’s can help to strengthen the lining of our gut and promote our immune system.
3. Green Tea: Green tea has been widely researched over the years. It has been shown to promote healthy liver function as well as prevent many forms of cancer. Drinking green tea daily is a great way to support the liver and promote a healthy body. (It is ideal to drink loose leaf green tea rather then bagged because often, there are synthetic chemicals that can leach into the water from the bags.) For more information on the benefits of green tea, visit: http://www.instituteofimt.com/green-tea.php.
4. Dr. Tom’s Ginger Lemonade! This ‘medicinal’ lemonade is a wonderful drink to have warmed or chilled. Ginger is a wonderful immune booster. It has also been shown to help significantly with aching muscles as well as reducing muscle cramping. Lemons are also wonderful for our immunity by way of being a strong anti-bacterial and anti-viral agent. Lemon juice aids in digestion as well. Ginger, honey, and lemon provide gentle liver support. See below for this wonderful recipe. Enjoying two to four cups per day of green tea and ginger lemonade can be very helpful in achieving our ultimate goal of a healthy body.

Dr. Tom’s Ginger Lemonade Recipe:
Benefits:
Immune booster, increases vitality, great tasting, fun for the whole family!

Ingredients:
½ lb raw ginger, washed and chopped (peeling is optional)
6 medium lemons, juiced
1 cup raw honey

Directions:
1. Place chopped ginger in 1 quart of water
2. Bring water to a boil
3. Lower heat to simmer and let simmer for 20 minutes
4. Strain ginger while liquid is still hot
5. Add raw honey into hot liquid
6. Add 3 more quarts of water
7. Add juice of 6 lemons
8. Chill liquid in fridge
9. Enjoy hot on cold winter day or chilled on hot summer day!

How to Have a Healthy Pregnancy

Up until now, I have spent most of my time ‘blogging’ about natural living and healthy diet. During my ‘day job’, I am a Physical Therapist and a Manual Therapist. I integrate healthy and natural living with a type of therapy called ‘Integrative Manual Therapy’ (IMT). Periodically, I write articles about IMT and healthy living for a local natural magazine called Natural Nutmeg. The following is an article that I wrote about how to have a healthy pregnancy. This article incorporates some great information regarding healthy natural living and diet as well as information about IMT for women that are pregnant. I hope you enjoy the content!

How to Have a Healthy Pregnancy:
Having a baby is a natural and beautiful process. It is a blessing. For many women, it can be a stressful time. Stress can contribute to a more difficult childbirth. As a woman prepares to bring a baby into the world, there are many factors that can play a role in creating the optimal birth. One of the first steps is to reduce stress.

How are we affected by stress? Is stress in our body largely due to stressful events in our lives? Or is this stress caused by body dysfunction? There are many natural strategies that can be implemented in a woman’s life to help reduce stress in their life as well as in the body. Here are some great ideas.

A healthy diet during pregnancy is very similar to a generally healthy diet. The best way to reduce stress in our body is to reduce inflammation. Through diet, we can be very effective in reducing inflammation. The typical US diet is very inflammatory which means that when we eat our typical foods, we increase swelling inside our body. Inflammation is an underlying factor to every disease and illness today. By reducing inflammation in our body through a healthy diet, we are able to prevent illness and promote healing from disease.

Maintaining a healthy diet during pregnancy can help to support optimal development of the baby as well as support the mother through pregnancy. So often, women feel depleted during pregnancy. This depletion can present as morning sickness, fatigue, and pain. The amount of food a pregnant woman eats is not the only important factor. The quality of food is vital as well. A healthy diet during pregnancy can support a strong healthy mother as well as a strong healthy baby.

What is an anti-inflammatory diet? Here are the basics: Gluten-free, avoid refined sugars and processed foods, eat a lot of vegetables and some fruit, and be sure to limit meat to natural meats that are free of growth hormones and antibiotics.

A gluten-free diet is becoming more and more common today. Gluten is a protein that is found in certain grains, including wheat, rye, barley, and some oats. When ingested, gluten can contribute to many different body issues such as pain, digestive problems, bloating, learning and behavioral challenges, and much more. By eliminating gluten from our diet, we can reduce many of these symptoms. For a woman that is pregnant, being gluten free is very beneficial to reducing some common pregnancy complaints such as back and leg pain, joint stiffness, urinary incontinence, constipation, heartburn and nausea. For more information on eliminating gluten from your diet, you can visit http://www.instituteofimt.com/gluten-sensitivity.php.

As the incidence of gestational diabetes continues to be on the rise, and we are seeing more and more obesity today in our country, avoiding refined sugars is a must for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy life. There are many natural sweeteners that can be substituted in moderation, including palm sugar, coconut sugar, pure honey in moderation, and pure maple syrup in moderation. For more information about cooking and baking with natural sweeteners, you can visit naturallivingfamily.com.

When a baby is growing inside the womb, to optimize the baby’s development, it is important to create a healthy environment in the woman’s body. This healthy environment is maximized by a diet free of synthetic foods and additives. Processed foods contain many chemicals, often which are very toxic to the body and a developing fetus. By eliminating processed foods during pregnancy and maintaining a diet of freshly prepared foods, we can create an environment that is most conducive to the healthy growth of a baby.

As we all know, protein is very important for growth. There are some women that feel better on a vegetarian diet, but it takes a lot of preparation to eat healthy on a vegetarian regimen. For a pregnant woman, eating animal protein is often the better choice. While eating meat can be a great source of protein, it is important to limit meat intake to natural sources such as grass-fed beef, natural and organic poultry, and wild seafood that is low in mercury. Today, natural meats are more available in all grocery chains.

In addition to a healthy diet, there are other strategies for reducing stress in the body and improving body health.

For most pregnant women, they experience considerable back and foot pain. In addition, they often have urinary and bowel issues such as bladder incontinence and constipation. Integrative Manual Therapy can be helpful in reducing these symptoms.

Integrative Manual Therapy (IMT) was developed by Dr. Sharon Giammatteo, PhD, IMT,C, over the last thirty-five years. IMT is a gentle, hands-on therapy that focuses on alleviating tension patterns in the body that affect the spine and soft tissues of the body. IMT specializes in identifying and treating underlying contributors to pain and dysfunction.

IMT incorporates the whole body. With a pregnant woman, assessment of the spine and possible underlying contributors to spinal dysfunction is integral to this comprehensive approach. The IMT therapist looks at the ability of the joints to move, for example, the lumbar spine and the sacroiliac joints. They also assess the alignment of the joints such as the individual spinal vertebrae and the pelvis. Gentle techniques are used to improve mobility and alignment of these joints. IMT Therapists assess the tension of the fascial tissues in the lumbar and pelvic region to determine areas of compression and possible ‘protection’. Assessment goes beyond the joints and includes soft tissues such as the pelvic organs, nerves, arteries and veins, lymphatic drainage vessels, and more. With a pregnant woman, there is often poor alignment of the spine and pelvis. By treating the alignment of the spine with IMT, there can be significant reductions in pain as well as increased mobility and ease of movement with position changes, walking, and more.

It is a common image to see a pregnant woman running to the bathroom. Urinating more frequently during pregnancy is appropriate to some degree because of the increased pressures on the bladder as the uterus grows. But for many women, there is inflammation and scar tissue in the pelvis from prior dysfunction that can contribute to increased pressures in the area. IMT can be helpful to reduce this pelvic inflammation and scar tissue and support healthy bladder function.

Constipation and bowel urgency can become a real challenge for some pregnant women. These issues can be caused by a variety of reasons, including dehydration and poor diet. Changing one’s diet is always beneficial and can create a healthier pregnancy and a healthier baby. But, often, there is structural dysfunction at the bowel region which can be improved with manual therapy. This bowel dysfunction can contribute to left hip pain and stiffness as well. Performing Integrative Manual Therapy for the bowel, focusing on improving circulation and drainage in the region as well as promoting mobility of the hip and pelvis, can create optimal changes in bowel and hip function.

Ultimately, having an optimal pregnancy and delivering a vital healthy baby can be promoted by eating an anti-inflammatory diet and maintaining a structurally healthy body. Using Integrative Manual Therapy while maintaining a healthy diet can help to reduce stress in the body which will lead to the healthiest pregnancy. As a pregnant woman, it can be very helpful to introduce stress relieving practices into the day such as yoga and meditation. By introducing these strategies into a daily routine, it can help to reduce the stress caused by life.

Live Interview! How to have a healthy pregnancy, and more on women’s health!

I recently was interviewed by Diane Hindman from Natural Nutmeg Magazine. The focus of the interview was on natural and healthy strategies for women’s health, including to create a healthy pregnancy. The link to the interview is below. I hope you enjoy it!

Romance Novels and Healthy Children’s Birthday Party Ideas!

I recently read this great romance novel. I know, it’s embarrassing to admit, I read romance novels—lots of them! They are my one vice and I love them. Anyway, back to the topic of what I read—it was a story about a mother of 5 girls. The mother was remarkably controlling—everything had to be perfect, homemade, organic and healthy, sugar free, along with other rules as well. No television, except for PBS on an irregular basis, and so on. Honestly, I saw myself in this character. Except it was like observing myself through a window.

I love my children. They are incredible and sweet and young. As young as they are, they have yet to hold strong opinions about what they eat and how they live. They are perfectly happy with the natural, organic, sugar free, gluten free, dairy free, GMO free concoctions that I make. Some would say that I am ‘over the top’. Certainly, my husband would agree to this statement. But I love it. I love being natural. I love having a natural home. I love raising my family, including supporting my wonderful husband, in a natural, organic, and healthy way. It fuels me as I’m sure it does for many of you. It is a way of life.

So, as I was reading this novel, and getting a good look at myself, albeit not quite as scary, it occurred to me: How can I maintain a fun atmosphere while still integrating these healthy natural principles into our lifestyle? In today’s era, being natural is an up and coming trend. Everywhere we look, we find references to gluten free living, as well as other natural strategies for healthy living. Incorporating healthy and natural strategies into daily living can be easy with regular planning. With special events like children’s birthday parties, it can take a little more effort to be creative. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Let’s start with the birthday cake. Sticking to gluten free is relatively easy today—there are a variety of gluten free cake mixes available. With many of these mixes, they require that you add in the sweetener. To make a healthier cake, you can substitute the regular sugar in the recipe with palm sugar or coconut sugar which are lower glycemic, or maple sugar which is rich in minerals. As for frosting, there are some fun recipes that combine cocoa powder, butter substitute such as earth balance, palm oil shortening, and natural sweetener such as honey or coconut sugar. Another great frosting recipe combines maple cream, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, a small amount of milk substitute such as rice milk, with a dash of sea salt. This recipe can be found on the blog: naturallivingfamily.com.

  1. Party Favors—Avoid Candy! Even without sweets, party favors are treasured by young ones. Consider offering children’s books as favors, or maybe some stickers and colored pencils. Some other ideas include creating your own party favors such as homemade chocolate lollipops that are naturally sweetened and dairy-free. A great chocolate recipe can be found on the blog: naturallivingfamily.com. It combines cocoa butter, cocoa powder, honey, vanilla extract and sea salt. Once the mixture is poured into candy molds with lollipops sticks and hardens, you can then remove the chocolate lollipop from the mold and wrap it in a fun way.
  2. Feeding Your Guests: Birthday parties often fall during mealtime where serving food is an essential requirement. Pizza is the most common food to serve at children’s parties and can easily be made gluten free. There are many different ready made gluten free pizza shells that can be purchased or your can make your own. In addition, more and more pizza restaurants are offering gluten free pizzas and often, they will deliver. In addition to pizza, you can offer a fruit salad or fruit ‘kebobs’. Some other ideas found on http://www.eatright.org include baked sweet potato strips, fruit smoothies in small cups, and peel-and-eat edamame.
  3. There are lots of natural and fun environmentally friendly ways of decorating for parties. Some creative ideas recommended on http://www.attachedtoparenting.com include hanging a clothesline and wooden clothespins and attaching paintings or drawings by the birthday child. In addition to artwork. You could also hang photos of the birthday child from various years of the child’s life. Of course balloons are always a welcome addition to any party. Another great place to find ideas for natural homemade birthday party decorating is on http://www.pinterest.com.

The key to offering a healthy natural environment for your child’s birthday party is planning time, and even more importantly, a little quiet time for brainstorming. There is a wealth of creative ideas out there, many of which can be accessed through simple internet searches on sites such as http://www.marthastewart.com. As a parent, particularly one that is so committed to raising a healthy natural child, it is important to loosen the reigns at times. As my husband often says, if only to reduce future rebellion. But equally important to consider is where the reigns need to be loosened. Giving refined sugar to our children at a birthday part is easily avoided while still maintaining a super fun atmosphere. The first step is not assuming that the childhood we experienced many years ago is the standard for today. Just because we may think that our child would be devastated if we don’t offer sugary lollipops as a party favor, doesn’t mean that they actually will. Try offering fun healthy suggestions first and take it from there!

Meal Planning- Keep it Simple!

We’re in the middle of the winter. There are months before the school year ends and its cold outside. Holiday time temptations in the form of sweet goods and excessive food have passed. It’s time to implement our New Year’s Resolutions. We want to be healthy. We want to feel good. Better yet, we wish to feel great! Where do we go from here?

Committing to eating healthy is easy. Accomplishing this goal takes organization through meal planning. We are all very busy, especially if we have family members in tow. How can we be successful at meal planning? The easiest way is to keep it simple!

Preparation—Simple Meal Planning

Find time on a weekly basis, even 5 minutes, to sit down with a pad of paper and a pen. Make a calendar for the week listing breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, and dinner. Consider the following criteria:

  1. 3 servings of protein daily
  2. 3-5 servings of vegetables daily
  3. 1-2 servings of fruit daily
  4. Limited grains.

Now, insert ideas. These ideas are not set in stone. Our mantra is ‘keep it simple’. The healthiest diet consists of fresh foods, not processed, and the above criteria. This list can be the basis for your week’s grocery list.

Breakfast—Energy from Protein Lasts Longer then Carbs!

For breakfast, consider these ideas: scrambled eggs with sautéed spinach; natural turkey sausage with a sliced avocado; a salad made of smoked salmon, cut avocadoes and tomatoes, mixed with some olive oil, lemon juice, and sea salt; fresh seasonal fruit with yogurt and some seeds; fruit smoothie with added greens and chia or flax seeds.

Snacks to Carry Us through the Day

Morning or afternoon snack could include a cut apple, or a handful of raw nuts with some dried fruit. You could also eat a yogurt with some fresh fruit, nuts and seeds mixed in; or dried kale chips for some crunch.

A Light Lunch

The easiest lunch is leftover dinner! In absence of this, you could make a salad with mixed greens, colorful vegetables, natural meat such as turkey or salmon and some raw sunflower seeds for crunch. You could create a simple homemade dressing such as olive oil with lemon juice and sea salt or honey mustard dressing that includes: Dijon mustard, lemon juice, honey, sea salt and olive oil. Another great option is a hearty soup made with chicken stock, a variety of vegetables, and some chicken or beef.

Dinner—Keep it Simple

The creativity of our dinner always depends on the time we have to prepare it. Keep it simple. Consider protein and vegetables, including starchy vegetables such as root vegetables. Here are some family dinner ideas: Roasted chicken stuffed with lemon wedges, cooked with cut carrots and celery and a side of roasted chopped sweet potatoes; split turkey breast with roasted broccoli and baked butternut squash; beef stew with potatoes, rutabagas, carrots, and parsnips and a side of sautéed greens. Remember to make extra for the following day’s lunch!

What about Dessert?!

We all have a sweet tooth. The question is not how to avoid sweets, but rather, how to choose wisely. We all know that excessive refined sugar can lead to diabetes which is becoming more common today in our population, including our children. Obesity is at the forefront of this pandemic. How can we satisfy our sweet tooth and maintain our health? There are many healthy sweet options that can fill this need. Here are some ideas: Fresh fruit (not always sweet enough but certainly varied) or dried fruit; make your own chocolate (see recipe in this bl0g); or make your own honey roasted nuts (see recipe in this blog).

Committing to eating healthy may feel like a huge task, but if we keep it simple, we can get into a routine and it can begin to feel easier. It may take a month or two, but eventually, we start to feel good and that makes it all worthwhile!

Fritata Muffin Recipe– Paleo Friendly!

What is Paleo? It is a relatively new trend in dieting– a great approach for reducing inflammation in the body! Generally, it involves being grain free, legume free, dairy free, refined sugar free, and eating a whole food diet that avoids any processed and genetically modified foods. Here is a great recipe that is delicious– Enjoy!

Fritata Muffin recipe:

 Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 4 egg whites, beaten
  • 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 box baby spinach
  • 1 tbs chopped parsley (can use dried)
  • 2 tbs whole chia seeds 

 Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Caramelize onion on stove in pan with 1 tbs olive oil
  3. Steam spinach in vegetable broth
  4. Grease muffin tin well
  5. Mix all ingredients together
  6. Pour into muffin tin (can use small ladel)
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes
  8. Check for doneness
  9. Enjoy!

 

Yummy and Healthy Chocolate– Imagine That!?

Paleo Chocolate—so yummy!

 [Link: http://wellnessmama.com/6764/chocolate-recipe/%5D

I recently found this recipe on a wonderful blog called ‘Wellness Mama.com’. This recipe makes chocolate without refined sugar. I have tried a lot of chocolate recipes and also forged ahead on my own without guidance—this is the first recipe I have found that generates a ‘creamy’ chocolate texture without the dairy. Super yummy! Once you make the chocolate, you can pour it onto parchment paper and break it apart into chunks after it solidifies. You can also pour it into candy molds and make fun shapes for your kiddos! Here’s the recipe—have fun!

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Raw Cocoa Butter
  • 1 cup Raw Cocoa Powder
  • ½ cup Honey
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract

 

Directions:

  1. Place parchment paper over baking sheet.
  2. Melt cocoa butter in double boiler or glass or metal bowl on top of small pan with inch of water over medium heat (bowl should not touch water)
  3. When cocoa butter is completely melted, remove from heat and add cocoa powder, honey, and vanilla. (If honey is raw, can melt with cocoa butter in double boiler.) Mix ingredients until smooth texture.
  4. Once texture is smooth, pour mixture onto baking sheet and place in fridge to solidify.
  5. Once chocolate is solidified, you can break it apart into chocolate chunks and leave in fridge or freezer for future use.
  6. Once mixture has cooled a little, you can also pour it into candy molds to make fun chocolate shapes and chocolate lollipops for your kiddos!
  7. Enjoy!!!