5 Ways to Teach Your Kids the Art of Giving

I want!  I want!  I want!  I want!!!

Um, no.

While we all love to gift our children with incredible gifts, we can’t underestimate the gift we give them as we teach them the art of giving.  It truly is better to give than to receive.  Teaching our kids to see the needs of others, to reach out in compassion and the blessing of bringing joy to others will serve them far greater throughout their lifetimes than anything we could ever give them in a box.

1. Lead by Example

Even at an age where many kids and teens are trying to develop their own identities, and those often as far from being like mom and dad as possible, they are still ever-learning by the lives we live and the examples we set.

Before suggesting, “why don’t you try doing something for others…” be sure you set the pace by not just giving to them but by letting them see you giving to others outside your home as well.

2. Make It Joyous

Serving others need not be a miserable chore or sacrifice for the giver.  While our giving should be with the intent of bringing great benefit and happiness to those we’re serving, we can and should make it a joyous occasion for all.

Get kids together for packing parties for gifts going out to those in need, children or seniors.  Make it a tradition where the family gets together for (healthy) snacks or (healthy) cocoa for a time of games and crafts alongside gift-prepping or even just brainstorming on ways to get out and serve.

Make the time of giving fun and full of laughter where possible.  The joy will be contagious and just keep multiplying.

3. Do It Often

While the Christmas season tends to prompt us to remember the needs of those around us, our efforts should not be limited to November-December.  Giving is not just something we do to celebrate a holiday.  We live as givers and people willing to serve the needs of others because, well, that’s just what we do – even when others don’t.

Teaching kids to look for ways to bless and touch the lives of others helps them learn to SEE others, to look more deeply into the eyes and hearts of others in a world that otherwise leaves them desensitized to those around them.  We get so distracted with technology and the pursuit of stuff for self that it can be frighteningly easy to forget that this world is full of billions of people living so many differing lives around us – lives that can be impacted in HUGE ways by even the simple acts of kindness and thoughtfulness that help them see they’re not just another face or profile pic amongst the crowd.

People are incredibly valuable yet we often struggle to see the value in ourselves.  Yet, how much are we blessed by those that would come alongside us and even care to brighten our day, not just because it’s Christmas or Thanksgiving but because, to someone, we matter all year long.

4. Be Creative & Timely

Some gifts are always in-season (hot, home-cooked meals, toys for kids…).  However, there’s also something special about coming up with creative and timely gifts to meet other’s needs “in-season” in terms of annual seasons or the seasons of life others are in.

Brighten another’s spring with some flowers for their garden or their winter with a bird-feeder to bring birds right to their window.

Help someone going through a stressful time with chamomile teas or gifts for a massage.  Or, gift them with your time and effort by helping them take care of a task that would lift the weight from their shoulders.

There are many gift ideas for any number of occasions.  Get the whole family involved in brainstorming to think up the coolest, most creative ways they can bless the lives of others.  Not only will this teach them to enjoy giving all the more but will also deeply touch others as they see the thoughtfulness behind the gift.

5. Count Your Blessings

It can be easy to overlook the needs and lives of others as our blessings become such commonplace to us.  Making it a point to count our blessings exercises our gratitude and increases our enjoyment of the many extras we have.  In recognizing that those things are “extras” that many don’t have, we better see where we can bless others and are often spurred on to greater giving.

What are some of our favorite ways to give and encourage giving in your family?

Fats:  Foes or Friends?

If there’s one food category that’s taken on a bad rap, its Fats for sure!

Fats come lastly in our bodies’ line-up of preferred fuel sources because while they are the most calorically dense, they are also the most difficult to utilize.  Because they are so calorically dense, we often crave them when we are really hungry and they are what are body looks to utilize from reserves when food is scarce.

avocado close up colors cut

Our bodies need fats to function properly! Fats provide our bodies with essential fatty acids (EFA’s) which cannot be formed in the body and therefore must be obtained from food sources.  Fats provide cushioning, insulation and storage for extra nutrients to be used when food is lacking.  They are essential for hormonal balance, proper brain function and development, proper eyesight, blood clotting, and controlling inflammation.  Fat is necessary to maintain healthy skin and hair, and helps our bodies absorb and move fat-soluble vitamins such as Vitamins A, D, E & K through the bloodstream.

Yet, again, too much of a good thing is not good at all and not all fats are created equal.  Because of its greater caloric density, fat is often fingered as the villain in our country’s epidemic of obesity, though experts note, dietary fat and body fat are not necessarily or always directly linked, as we can also gain body fat from eating too many carbs or proteins.

Some body types require more or less fat than others.  Gender, overall diet, lifestyle, genetics and activity may all play a role in how much fat you should be consuming. The American Heart Association still recommends that the average person obtains 25-35% of their calories from fat.  Please note, these recommendations are based on calories, NOT volume.  In other words, a 2,000 cal./day diet may healthfully include anywhere from 500-700 calories from fat.  Remember: fat is denser in calories, watch that you don’t use this as a pass to go overboard.

Some recommend taking in as little as 10%, such as Dr. Ornish with The Reversal Diet, which aims to reverse ailments, such as heart disease.   However, others recommend more, especially for children where those fats are essential to proper brain development.  Some consume more (good) fats as an essential aid in efforts to alleviate and/or reverse disorders such as ADHD.

Some find that low-fat diets trigger depression while others swear that diets higher in fat cause disease.  To better understand how much fat your family, personally, should be consuming, be sure talk to your nutritionist, naturopath or other health professional.

Whether you lean more towards higher or lower fat intake, it is essential that the forms you consume are healthy!

Fats are generally broken down into these subcategories:

Unsaturated Fats

table decor

These are said to lower LDL (“bad cholesterol”) though this end may not be accomplished without simultaneously reducing consumption of bad fats.  Unsaturated fats subcategories consist of:

Monounsaturated: Avocado, nuts, and vegetable oils such as olive and peanut.

Polyunsaturated: Vegetable oils such as safflower, sunflower, sesame, soybean, and corn oils

Omega 3’s:  found in foods such as walnuts and flax

Omega 6’s:  found mostly in vegetable oil such as soybean oil, corn oil, and safflower oil.

Most Western diets have an omega-6:omega-3 ration of 16:1, which is associated with an increase in inflammation and other health woes.  Healthier ratios are said to be in the range of 4:1 – 1:4.  Many even recommend simplifying it and sticking to a 1:1 ratio.

Saturated Fats

yellow pastry on white powder on brown wooden table

These fats are solid at room temperature, hence it also being referred to as “solid fat.”  It is important to understand some distinguishment in this category as it is often overly generalized and consequently misunderstood.  Saturated fats include butter, lard, margarine, shortening and other animal fats but also extends to include coconut, palm and other tropical oils.

The problem with this overgeneralization is that recommendations and health articles lead consumers to conclude that all saturated fats are bad for you, at least to some degree.  A belief that is simply false.  There is seldom any stated differentiation between forms.

Butter, lard and the like are long-chain-fatty acids. This makes them more difficult for the body to break them down.  Coconut oil, however, is comprised of medium-chain fatty acids which the body metabolizes more quickly and readily in the liver.  While coconut oil is solid at room temperature, it liquefies quickly when it gets around 78°F.  Many incorporate coconut oil into their diets to lose weight and improve their overall health.

Diets high in long-chain fatty acids, such as butter, lard and margarine, are said to clog arteries and generate disease  (though these health effects are still seen primarily amongst those consuming a considerable amount of processed foods).  General recommendations for saturated fats is to limit them to 10% of your daily calories.


These are your “No-Go’s” when it comes to fats.  DO NOT EAT THESE! These are fats that have been altered to increase stability and shelf life.  They are found in processed/pre-packaged foods, such as chips, crackers, cookies, dressings and other products made with shortening or hydrogenated oils.  A “0g Trans Fat” label does not mean that it truthfully has no trans fats, only that the servings contain a low enough amount that regulations don’t require them to tell you about it.  Avoid Hydrogenated/partially hydrogenated anything!

Quality is Key

As with any other food, quality is key.  Look for cold pressed oils (heat processing damages the oils, potentially making them toxic) and note the grade.  “Extra virgin” is your best quality.  It comes from the first pressing.  It is the most expensive but also maintains the most nutritive properties and flavor.  “Virgin” oils come from your second pressing. They are somewhat more affordable, add less flavor to a dish (which may be good or bad depending on what you’re making with it) and maintain less of the nutritive properties of the source food.  “Pure” oils may be cheaper but are often processed with chemicals to extract what’s left from the source food.  They also be further refined/processed to remove smells or improve end-product marketability with little regard for health efficacy.

My favorites are Extra Virgin Olive Oil and either Virgin or Extra Virgin Coconut Oil. I substitute coconut oil in place of butter or any other solid fat in various recipes (such as in making Momma’s homemade whole wheat biscuits and pie crusts); use it in its liquid state in the kids’ birthday cakes; and use it to make the BEST homemade organic popcorn.

I use extra virgin olive oil in virtually everything else.  It is especially best used as a finishing oil applied after the food has been cooked and removed from the heat source. Others that you may like to keep on hand include grape seed oil and sesame oil for high heat cooking.

The best sources of fats remain whole food sources.  An ounce of nuts or seeds a day is said to be a great benefit to all, providing essential fats and many other nutrients to help your family grow and thrive!

Proteins That Pack a Punch

When I say protein, I know most immediately think “meat.”  I’m not just talking about meat!  Protein is found in far more than meat so, for the sake of this discussion, I hope you will not simply note the information provided here to be a recommendation to “eat more meat,” as it most certainly is not!  Eating too much meat can have many serious health consequences.

Many like to treat animal protein as far superior to plant protein because of it’s complete amino acid profile.  However, the body doesn’t just absorb whole proteins and add them to muscle mass.  It has to break them down into their amino acids to construct its own proteins.  While we won’t delve too deep here, know that proteins that don’t get broken down completely can birth inflammation and disease while too much animal protein can do also be harmful to the bones, teeth, kidneys and other vital organs.

Protein is not only essential for muscle mass, but also for spurring on a plethora of physiological processes (as enzymes that break down food and catalyze reactions; as antibodies that fight off foreign invaders). While carbohydrates are the body’s preferred fuel source (see our article on Carbohydrates:  Foods that Fuel), protein can also satisfy the body’s energy needs and will in fact do so over the body using it for protein synthesis.

Protein is calorically dense but because proteins are harder for the body to break down than starches, it is not quite as efficient as an energy source as carbohydrates.  This is why high-protein/low-carb diets are such a trend.  The body burns more energy attempting to convert protein to energy, thereby aiding in weight loss or so is the theory but it has to be understood that carbohydrates are necessary to support this energy conversion process.  The lack of adequate carbohydrates is why most find that they’re diet/weightloss efforts come to a screeching halt as the body lacks the resources needed to convert alternative energy sources from amino acids/proteins and fats.

It should be thoroughly noted: more protein does not necessarily equal more weight loss.  Animal proteins are often packaged with excessive fats and other health hazards.  Even too much of the leaner cuts can still lead to weight gain as an excess of calories is an excess of calories (energy which gets converted and stored as fat).  This may only be worsened as an excess of animal protein can cause acidity and constipation, which stalls weight loss and health efforts.

For many looking to consume more protein out of a desire to increase visible muscle mass, remember: a lack of muscle mass is more commonly due to lack of demand placed on those muscles than a lack of resources for them.  Simply consuming protein will not in itself, increase muscle mass. There must be a demand placed on those muscles for the body to determine it must make them larger to perform the tasks demanded of it.  The body is incredibly efficient.  If nothing is signaling to it that it needs more muscle, it won’t build it.  On that same line of thought, a lack of muscle mass is not always indicative of inadequate protein intake.

All this considered, proteins are an essential part of a healthy diet and should be gathered from a variety of sources.  Just as not all sugars are created equal, so is the same with protein.  There are healthful and unhealthful sources.  For example, a steak may be loaded with protein but may also be loaded with saturated fats.  Ham may be loaded with protein but also overloaded with fat and salt (not to mention the parasites…).  It’s important that you seek to get your proteins from the healthiest, cleanest sources possible to help your family maintain a healthy weight and an overall healthy body.

Proteins are found in every cell of the body, in bones, skin, hair, muscles and every other body part and tissue.  They give us the enzymes that power a multitude of chemical reactions throughout the body and the hemoglobin that transports oxygen in our blood.  It takes at least 10,000 different proteins to build and sustain you!  It’s certainly worthwhile to be sure you’re getting the best sources possible.


close up of salad in bowl

Proteins are comprised of amino acids.  These amino acids are found in every whole food, in varying amounts and proportions.  Fruits, vegetables, grains, greens, nuts, seeds, meat, poultry, fish and dairy all contain amino acids. In animal products, the proteins are generally considered “complete” only meaning that all of the amino acids needed for protein synthesis are present.  Essentially, the animal you are consuming has harvested all of the amino acids for you.

Plant-based proteins are often considered “incomplete” only because most individual plant sources do not contain all of the amino acids needed to make protein in that one single source (though there are some “complete” plant protein sources, such as hemp).  However, these amino acids can be easily acquired by eating a variety of healthful, plant-based foods.  THIS DOES NOT MAKE PLANT PROTEINS INFERIOR TO ANIMAL PROTEINS.  It only means that you should aim for diversity among sources which you should be doing with your diet anyways.

HERE’S THE FACT:  Protein deficiency in the United States and most of the world is incredibly rare!  Deficiencies are typically seen in parts of the world where starvation is a real issue.  Most people, especially in the United States would need NO ADDED PROTEINS in adopting most any exercise protocol.  Most people are already consuming more than enough protein to support the growth of muscle mass WITHOUT added supplements, protein shakes, and extra chicken with their chicken.

On a personal note, if I’m going to have a (plant-based) protein shake, it would be either pre-workout where I don’t want to heavy my stomach with a full meal, or post-workout when I’m on the go and won’t likely be eating for a while.  (Post-workout is actually a perfect time to grab a Complete Shake while the muscles are primed and ready to rebuild and replenish nutrient levels.)  Protein rich foods and beverages can be great for staving off hunger and promoting the rebuild – just be sure you don’t get caught up in the head game of “I exercised therefore I need more protein.”  What you do really need post-workout are carbohydrates.   Not a ton, but consuming some within an hour of working out is great for restoring glycogen levels in the muscles so they’re ready to rock again when you are.

It was once thought foods had to be properly combined in one meal for the body to utilize those amino acids in protein production (such as in combining beans and rice).   This has since been found to be false.  While they can be consumed this way, the body will acquire amino acids throughout the day and assemble them as needed.

Essential vs. Non-Essential Amino Acids

What’s also key to understand here is the difference between essential and non-essential amino acids.  An essential amino acid is one that we must get from food. The “non-essentials” are not un-needed, but are those that don’t have to be acquired from our diet as the body can convert other present amino acids into the ones it needs to comprise the proteins.  (Didn’t God just make you so awesome?!).

While many try to depict plant protein as being “inferior” to animal proteins, nature shows us this is simply not true.  The largest animals on the planet (elephants, giraffes, cattle, etc.) only eat plants. Even the omnivores we’re most closely biologically acquainted with, such as gorillas, only eat enough small animals, eggs and lizards to comprise about 1% of their diet.  The rest of the proteins that build up these powerful creatures all comes from plants.

Don’t Get Duped!

While I am not trying to tell you to not eat meat, I do want you to see that your family can get loads of clean protein from healthful plant sources.  Quite frankly, I’ve had enough of the marketing schemes and tactics employed by the meat and dairy industry duping family’s out of their health and into doctor’s offices and pharmacies.

There are many myths and misunderstandings surrounding digestibility and bio-availability, nutritional needs and more so be mindful when reading articles telling you why you should be eating more protein, as well as in recommendations as to which kind.  Our capitalist culture places the burden on the consumer to consider who is making the recommendations and why.  Too much of even a good thing can be bad for you.

These industries would have us believe that we really have to make an effort to get enough protein, (i.e., that we should buy their products to aid us in our deep need).  Protein deficiency, especially in America, is ridiculously rare. Even the CDC states that most Americans get more than enough protein and should be more focused on an overall healthy eating plan that consequently incorporates plenty of proteins along with many other essential nutrients.   Again, excessive amounts of animal protein have been linked to numerous diseases and health problems.  If you’re looking to boost overall proteins, look at ways you can broaden your nutritional horizons and get them from whole food plant sources that will simultaneously boost your intake of healthy fiber and other key nutrients/phytonutrients.

For now, look to acquire your protein from a wide variety of lean, nutritious sources but fret not over acquiring enough.  Be sure to incorporate plenty of beans, greens and other plant sources such as hemp hearts, pumpkin seeds, asparagus, cauliflower, peanuts, mung bean sprouts, almonds, spinach, broccoli and quinoa to get a broad array of amino acids and other amazing health benefits!

11 Ways to Better Immunity

Hippocrates, known as the “father of medicine,” is known for saying “Let thy food be thy medicine and let thy medicine be thy food.”

While some believe catching colds in cold season is just what you do, we love that you know there are some things you can do to fortify your family.   …cause an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.

*Please seek the advice of a health professional prior to self-treating any illness with medicinal herbs.

1. Raw Foods

Raw foods are chock full of enzymes and vitamins that can be damaged or destroyed completely by heat.  Many people today eat very little fruits and vegetables, and even less are eating these in their natural state.  Consuming more raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds gives the body more of a fighting edge as they help to optimize the overall health of the body while strengthening its resilience.  While some foods are made more palatable and/or digestible by cooking, most fruits and vegetables can be turned into gorgeous, colorful, delectable dishes with no heat in no time.

2. Probiotics & Prebiotics

Health experts estimate that anywhere from 60-80% of your immune work happens in the gut.  An unhealthy gut can put the body in overload mode and make it more susceptible to sickness.  Many parents have had great success in boosting their children’s immunity by including prebiotics and probiotics in their diets.  Probiotics are the “good bacteria” found in the intestines that kill the bad bacteria.  It is especially important to replenish probiotics in the digestive tract if you’ve used antibiotics, which kill the good bacteria with the bad.  Prebiotics are a special form of dietary fiber that nourishes the probiotics in the gut.  Supplements can be purchased that contain both, however, you can also give those tummies a regular boost through simple, everyday foods.

Probiotics:  Make sure the food/beverage you are purchasing for these contain LIVE CULTURES.  Probiotics can be destroyed by heat and time. So, the fresher, the better.  Its good to get an array of good gut flora (different strains will be listed with the ingredients).  Find these in kefir (milk, water or juice), yogurt, kombucha, fermented juices (no, I’m not telling you to pour jr. a glass of wine.  Many grocers now carry juices with live cultures for gut health); raw cheese, and other raw fermented foods, like sauerkraut, beet kvass and others.  Again, be sure the product was not pasteurized post-fermentation.  Many companies do this to yield a product with the right flavor and a longer shelf life.  Probiotics are living organisms that are useless to you dead.

Prebiotics: This is another area where raw foods are key.  Raw foods, such as bananas, garlic and asparagus are all excellent sources of the undigestible fibers that promote the growth of probiotics in the intestines.

3. Elderberry (Sambucus)

Known for being loaded powerful antioxidants and immune boosting properties, elderberry has long ranked high on the list of go-to remedies for health professionals and moms alike.  Elderberry has been used for centuries for coughs, colds, flus, bacterial and viral infections and tonsilitis.  Its bioflavanoids and other proteins are said to diminish/destroy the ability of cold and flu viruses to infect the body’s cells.  Israel’s Hasassah’s Oncology Lab has determined that elderberry stimulates the body’s immune system so efficiently that they’re using it to treat cancer and AIDS patients with it.

Elderberry is sold as a tasty syrup for kids and adults.  Our favorite is Nature’s Way Sambucus with Echinacea.  We keep this stuff on hand for a quick immune boost when around others who are sick or at the first sight of infection.  If you happen to be thinking about making your own, please note, the berries of certain cultivars of this plant can be toxic when eaten raw.  Elderberries should be cooked down for safety, digestibility and palatability.

4. Echinacea

A well known immune booster, echinacea can be purchased as a tea, tincture, supplement or syrup.  The University of Maryland reports that several studies suggest echinacea contains substances that boost immune function, relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and have hormonal, antiviral and antioxidant effects, making it potentially useful for urinary tract infections, yeast infections, ear infections, hay fever, sinusitis, athlete’s foot, and slow-healing wounds.

Caution: Those with allergies to ragweed, chrysanthemums or marigolds should exercise caution when considering echinacea as it may trigger an allergic reaction.  Caution should also be exercised by individual’s taking immunosuppressant medication.

5. Garlic

Garlic has been used for centuries for treating a host of ailments.  It was used to prevent gangrene in the soldiers of both World Wars.  It has been used as an antiseptic and applied to wounds to prevent infection.  It is rich in antioxidants to fight off free radicals and is commonly used to kill parasites and boost the immune system, amongst many other ailments.

Raw garlic, not cooked or dried, is most beneficial for health, since heat and water inactivate sulfur enzymes, which can diminish garlic’s antibiotic effects.

6. Vitamin D3

Crucial for bone health and immunity, the body produces this when exposed to sunlight.  15 minutes a day can do wonders for people with lighter skin.  Darker skin types may require more exposure to produce sufficient amounts of Vitamin D.  D3 levels can run low in the winter but may be adequately restored by stepping into the sun with the face and hands exposed.  Vitamin D3 can also be purchased as a supplement in capsule form or in a small dissolvable tablet.

Vitamin D can also be obtained through mushrooms, eggs, dairy products and many flesh foods.

7. Joy

One of the greatest gifts you can give your children is the gift of joy.  Chronic low-joy environments are associated with many things we will be talking about in the future but, for the sake of this article, let’s just talk about how it relates to our bodies’ ability to ward off disease.  Studies consistently show links between mental/emotional disposition and health.  Pessimism, depression, constant frustrations, a negative environment – all of these things way on the whole person and make the body more susceptible to disease.  Same goes for our kids.  Joy and laughter support a healthy mind and healthy body.  Don’t resist the opportunity to enjoy a good laugh and make memories you and your children will enjoy for a lifetime.

8. Water

With an estimated 90% of the population chronically dehydrated, this point certainly warrants the space.  Water is critical for good heath, especially when it comes to immunity.  Water oxygenates blood, flushes out toxins, supports lymph production (critical in immune response), keeps eyes and mouth clean, aids digestion and assimilation, prevents and aids many chronic ailments.  As much as possible, spring waters and home-filtered waters should chosen over municipal water thats often laden with a toxic excess of flouride, as well as chemical disinfecting agents and other chemicals that are less than supportive to the immune system.

9. Exercise 

Exercise works wonders for the body, including boosting immunity.  Our bodies have more lymph than blood but, unlike the blood flowing through the heart, the lymphatic system has no pump.  The lymphatic system is responsible for transporting white blood cells to fight infection.  The lymphatic system relies on your body movement.  Do your kids seem bounce everywhere like mine do?  While there’s a time and a place for all things, I try not to dissuade them when I can help it as bouncing is one of the best ways to get lymph moving through the body.  Even a steady, gentle bounce on a small rebounder can be of great benefit.

10. Rest 

While I know you’re busy and life has more demands coming at you than you can shake a stick at, hear me when I tell you – you’ve got to make time for rest.  It is crucial that you not only get your 7-8 hours sleep a night but that you also set aside a day to take it easy each week.  I’m a mom too.  I totally get it.  I’ve struggled with this more times than I can count and it doesn’t take long for it to catch up with me either. The body has to have time to cleanse and repair itself and it needs rest to do this.  This is especially true for children as they have the added demand of growing and learning so much.

11. Sweets 

I know, this is the tough one for so many and kids especially love their sweets but avoiding sugary foods is especially important for the immune system.  Studies have shown that sugar consumption can inhibit the immune system for upwards to 6 hours after eating it!  Boost the immune system with naturally sweet substitutes.  If “super-sweet” is a “must,” try dates (especially Medjools).  They are especially good with a touch of almond/nut butter smeared down the center and can totally satisfy a craving for a decadent dessert with only a few.  Stevia can also help to decrease sugar consumption without the threat of mutiny for suddenly removing sugar from the household.

12 Tips on How to Get That Butt Back in Gear

If there’s one challenge I think most moms face among the many other challenges of parenting, its how to stay motivated to keep fitness a consistent part of an already jam-packed life.  When we do find a few free moments, working out is often the last thing we want to do.

 One thing I’ve learned in parenting is that fitness is not just key in taking our bodies back, it is unbeatable when it comes to relieving the accumulated day-to-day stress.  Still sticking to it can be a real struggle.  Here are my tips on how to maintain motivation, even amidst the chaos.

1. Fix Your Inner Dialogue

adult attractive black and white face

The biggest part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle is fixing your inner dialogue (and that WILL require ongoing maintenance).  That means changing how you talk TO and ABOUT yourself.  Negative talk and a negative view will negate your efforts and make any health & fitness plan unsustainable. Any time you start thinking things like “I’m fat and out of shape” shut it down with “no.  I’m healthier than I’ve been in a long time and steadily getting stronger/faster/fitter/hotter.” In the strain of it, reject “I’m tired…it hurts…I can’t do this…”  Envision the results you WILL attain and remind yourself “I’ve got this!”

2.  Schedule it!

You and I both know that if you don’t make time, you won’t find time!  Schedule other meetings and appointments around it.  You’re already booked for that block of time.  Be dressed and ready on time!  Getting out of those comfy pants in the morning and into those sneakers can really help reset your mindset and get you geared for what you’ve commited to do.

3.  Commit to 10

Commit to at least 10 minutes, agreeing with yourself that even when you don’t want to do it at all, you’ll do at least 10 minutes.  Odds are high that you won’t just quit by that point, you’ll keep pushing and even if you don’t, you still brought the effort and reinforced making fitness a daily/weekly habit.  Trust me.  There are days when it’s the last thing I want to do but sometimes I just have to pop that disc in and have it staring me in the face for me to say ug!  Alright, alright already…I’ll do it!

4.  Find Your Soul Mate Workout

woman punching red heavy bag

If you hate it, you’ll dread it. I’ve done so many different kinds, yet I keep going back to that TurboFire because it’s fun to me. I love kickboxing and dancing so it’s right up my alley. When I’m wanting to take it slow but get a good sweat, I break out PiYo or Body Beast.  (Not trying to promote BeachBody.  I don’t sell it.  These are just my personal faves.) Some prefer running solo and using the time to escape while some prefer a class setting where others push them to work harder. You’ve got to find this for yourself and when you do, it won’t seem so much like work but something you feel proud to be good and getting better at.

5.  Mix It Up

Even when you really love one workout in particular, you still need to mix things up to keep it from getting boring and to maximize your results.  Many find that they “plateau” after a long period of doing the same workout.  Make sure you shake things up a bit and get a fair share of stretch, strength and cardio work.

Also, don’t miss opportunities to slip movement in throughout the day. It doesn’t have to be all at once. Tell your body it’s time to step up its game by placing more demands on it. It will do what it’s been made it to do.

6.  Watch Where You’re Going

Look more at your progress than the distance yet to be traveled.   Looking ahead should be with hope, excitement and determination, not with overwhelm. Looking at it in terms of how far you are from where you want to be makes it to easy to ditch the effort.  Thinking in terms of how much closer you are to where you want to be is a good motivator to stick to it.

When you say “no. I’ve already lost 10 lbs and I AM NOT going back,” it will help you stay on track and may just give you the boost you need to take each work out to a whole new level.

7.  Clear the Closet

shallow focus photography of clothes

Get rid of the clothes you’ve shrunk out of and buy at least one thing you love one size too small.  I’ve steadily done this from a 16/18 to a 4/6. Keeping the big clothes “just in case” is the same as giving yourself permission to go back and undo all you’ve worked so hard to achieve!  It’s another way of calling your ability to stick to it into question which ABSOLUTELY primes you for failure and self-loathing.

Getting rid of the old is a way of determining you’re not going back there so there’s no point in keeping “the big girl clothes” while buying the new will help with motivation and make you feel ecstatic and really good about yourself when you get to wear it for the first time.

8.  Fuel Up

If you want to crush a workout, you’ve got to fuel for it!  Under-fueling amidst a workout routine is a key factor in failure.  If you don’t have the energy to do it, you will feel like it is an impossible feat.  You’ll drag, ache and burnout quicker than a matchstick if you don’t give your body the fuel it needs to power through.  While a calorie-deficit will help you lose weight, inadequate caloric-intake prior to a workout may just break you.

Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred fuel source – especially simple ones!  Think fresh fruits and smoothies.  If you’re in for a long-haul, adding complex carbs (like oats or whole grains) can help you fuel up with sustainable energy.  Proteins are harder to break down, taxing more energy for digestion and, consequently, leaving less energy for you to step up and bring it.  Fatty foods (even healthy ones), pre-workout, slow the body down even more so than proteins.  Simple carbs will provide your body with that quick burst of energy it needs as you step onto the track, into the gym or up to the plate in your own home.

9.  Set the Pace

Think about a fitness plan in terms of what you’re establishing not just for yourself but in your kids’ lives as well. Think about the kind of life you want them to live and realize that one of the best things you can do for them is to lead by example.  You want them to be healthy.  You want them to be strong.  And, you sure don’t want them to be afraid to grab the bull by the horns to accomplish their greatest goals in life.  Show ’em how it’s done!

My daughter has become my favorite workout buddy and her younger brother has been getting in on the action too.  When we go for it, even on the days that its evident to all that we REALLY don’t want to, we teach our kids valuable lessons about what can be accomplished by pushing past the I-don’t-wanna’s and holding tightly to “I CAN AND I WILL!”

Exercise is not just about weight!  It will boost their immunity, intellectual capacities and their confidence!  Now tell me that in itself isn’t worth it!

10.  See the Line Between Self-Sacrifice & Self-Neglect

You’re a mom.  I get it.  You give and you give and you give.  You try to put your family’s needs before your own and because of that, it’s often hard to justify taking time away from their needs to focus on you.  Still, there’s a great deception at play here.  What we so often fail to realize is that in taking that little extra time and effort to care for ourselves protects our capacity to continue to serve our families at our best.  It also helps to relieve them of the future burden of caring for us as they would if we let ourselves go, especially when the consequences eventually render us incapable of taking care of ourselves.  That may seem like it’s a long way ahead but you can’t even count those who’ve watched time slip through their fingers only to find themselves later where they’d hoped they’d never be, saying “I wish I’d have taken better care of myself back then.”

11.  Know When to Press & When to Rest

When starting a new fitness plan, it can be so tempting to go all in day-in-day-out.  We get frustrated and say, “that’s it!  I’m nipping this in the bud right now!”  While determination is absolutely a good thing, be mindful of what your body can and can’t handle.  Here’s the thing – too many people have a tendency to set unrealistic goals only to find themselves soon swimming in regret, frustration and feeling like a failure.  There’s an old saying “Slow and steady wins the race.”  If you know you can crush it, go for it!  But, be careful that you don’t push yourself right into a rapid burnout by trying to climb too high too fast.

You won’t get results without a challenge, so, by all means, challenge yourself.  But, if you start feeling overly burdened to the point that you’re thinking about quitting, pull back a bit but keep moving forward.  Start with just a few days a week or give yourself some “easy” days where you commit to doing something while feeling like you’re catching a break.  As you move forward, you’ll get stronger and find that you have an easier time committing to more intense workouts.

Also, if you’re under the weather and feel like you’re fighting something other than laziness, don’t be afraid to lay back and let your body do what it needs to to get you back up to speed.  It’s better to miss one day and be refreshed the next than to overdo it one day and be down the next week.

12.  Remember That You’re Awesome & Be Kind to Yourself!

You’ve been through a lot and are in your upswing.  Stop beating yourself up every time you have an off day!  It’s so easy to miss a day and say “screw it” the rest of the week because you blew your “perfect record.”  Instead, let the off-day establish the certainty that you will be right back on your game the next.  Fitness isn’t about punishing yourself.  It’s about loving yourself and your family enough to take care of your body.

So many people throw in the towel and resign to the slippery slope of just letting the body fall apart as the years tick by.  Not you!  You’re crushing it!  You’re bringin’ it!  You’ve got the Healthiest Mom on the Block Award coming your way!

Carbohydrates:  Foods that Fuel

Learning basic keys to carbohydrates is a great way to learn how you can best help fuel the family through the day in a way that keeps energy and nutrition to a max!

Carbohydrates are plant-based energy – they break down quickly and easily into sugars to provide the body with the fuel it needs to keep up with life.  At least 50-60% of your diet should be comprised of good, healthy carbohydrates.  Many people have falsely come to the belief that “carbs are bad.”  Low-carb diets are a go-to for many looking to lose weight fast but does this leave the person any healthier or energetic in the long-run?

Your body needs carbohydrates but to understand which to enjoy and which to avoid, we simply need to understand a couple of simple distinguishments.

Natural vs. Refined Carbohydrates

Some may think “What’s the difference in the carbs I get from this sandwich and what you get from that soup, or the carbs I get from these fries in contrast to the ones you get from that salad?”  Not all carbs and sugars are created equal. The natural carbohydrates found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans produce a healthful, clean energy while also providing us with vital nutrients and fiber.  Those found in processed foods, white breads and other refined products are often lacking in nutrients and can be flat riddled with toxins. They are also often accompanied by excessive amounts of fat, salt and added sugars which makes them even more harsh on the body.

In other words, a 400 calorie plate of roasted vegetables and brown rice may be just what you need to put that pep back in your step while the same calories from a side of fries can leave you longing for the sofa.  Same goes for eating 400 calories of fruit in contrast to 400 calories worth of candy.  Refined carbohydrates include white breads, refined sugars and are found in the vast majority of processed foods.  Natural carbohydrates include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes/beans.

Excellent choices include whole grains such as farro, barley, buckwheat and steel cut oats in place of store bought breads and pastas.  Opt for fresh or frozen fruits over jammed, canned and packaged sources.

Simple vs. Complex Carbohydrates

Now that we’ve settled that you’re only going to eat the good kinds of carbohydrates, which ones are going to give you the most or best fuel?

Complex carbohydrates take longer for your body to break down, providing more sustained energy. This means, you have what it takes to get from breakfast to lunch, and from lunch to dinner without feeling drained.  Good complex carbohydrates to enjoy often are: brown/whole grain rice (not white or “quick” rices), steel cut or thick cut old-fashioned oats, quinoa, barley, farro, any kind of beans, peas and lentils.  If consuming store-bought breads, look for organic 100% whole grain bread (I personally like Ezekiel sprouted grain breads) or an alternative that aligns with your dietary needs and preferences.

Simple carbohydrates are the body’s most easily assimilated fuel source as the body is able to more rapidly metabolize them.  This group is comprised primarily of fruits and vegetables but may also include foods like honey and maple.  These are my go-to’s throughout the day to keep me fueled for a fast-paced day.  While complex carbohydrates take longer to break down, I can generally feel a noticeable difference in my energy level within 15-25 minutes of eating fruits.

To keep the family equipped with a steady, ample supply of energy, pair simple and complex carbohydrates, fats and healthful proteins throughout the day.  Understand the type of fuel you’re counting on and how much/often you need it.

Some may find that too many simple carbohydrates or ones with a higher glycemic index is a bit much to handle, particularly when heading into an office or to school where they’ll be sitting most of the day.  If you need to have a stable fuel source to carry across several hours, you will want to rely more on complex rather than simple carbohydrates.  If you really need this sustained energy to stick with you longer, you may also wish to pair your carbohydrates with a protein or fat, which slows the processes by which carbohydrates are broken down and released into glucose (sugar) in the body.

See?  Easy as pie!

Ways to Boost Joy in Your Household & Community

Article written byLaTricia Morris, CIWC  LaTricia Morris is an Integrative Wellness Counselor, Writer, Author, Illustrator & the Founder of See Kids Thrive. LaTricia is an avid-health enthusiast committed to helping families like yours maximize their life potential and realize their greatet dreams.

I think this is one of those topics where we could start off with every intention of keeping things simple and end up creating an entire website out of everything that could branch out.  Let’s explore a few simple ideas here and I would love if you would connect with us via facebook or e-mail to give us some ideas you might like to see added to this page!

See Eye-to-Eye.

Take the time to look children and others directly in the eyes as you encourage them, speaking words of affirmation and love.

Take hold of it. Sometimes it amazes me just how much can be said through a simple, authentic hug.  {I’ll be honest.  I don’t usually really like to be held, hugged or touched a lot but a brief but genuine hug can drastically shift my countenance when I’m stressd out.  Even for the little boy that acts like he doesn’t “want no stinkin’ hugs” walls just come down when Mom or Dad wrap their arms around him and hold him tight.  Scowls turn to silly smiles and eyes light up as he bee-bops off to play.}

Speak Words of Gratitude.  

Sharing words of gratitude is a great way to shift a conversation from joy-sucking to joy-giving.

affection appreciation decoration design

Speak Blessings.  

Speaking affirmation and goodness over others greatly increases joy and can work wonders in shifting views from despair to hope and joy.

Speak Life.  

There’s really no good reason for us to speak death over anybody, no matter how much of a jerk we may think they are.  What we speak directly affects our environment and those around us.  Even amidst the most challenging situations, we can look for positive words to say that uplift those around us.  This goes beyond compliments and also encompasses funny jokes, encouraging stories and sharing good news.

Look Forward to the Future.  

Dreading the days ahead is a real joy-killer.  Reshape your views of the future to ones of hope and help others do the same.

Actively Seek It.

Play games & do crafts (the quirkier the better), have a funny hairstyling party or kooky clothing party…  options are limitless here.

Embrace Zany, Weird, and Random.  This isn’t hard.  Again, kids love quirky (as do many adults).  Yes, I can be absolutely ridiculous at times but there’s nothing like seeing barriers of tension and anxiety come down.  Let your hair down and live a little.  Relax and enjoy the ride.


Unforgiveness breeds bitterness, anger and resentment.  Forgiveness frees us to walk in love and joyful living.

Get Less Busy.

I’m one who tends to prefer living at a faster pace and loves setting and accomplishing goals.  Still, even us A-types have to learn to unschedule enough of our time to make time for spontaneity and for those we love most.  Constantly being busy often accompanies high-stress levels, fatigue and low-joy.  Find ways to make yourself available for spontaneous, joyful memories that will last a lifetime.


Realize what and who really matters in life.  We often fail to see the price we pay when we focus our greatest energies on our own wants and desires.  We become blind toward others.  Learn to stop and appreciate people.  Love others and don’t be afraid to learn from them.  Even doing simple household or community tasks can become a breeding ground for joy when we look to see the good and value in others, and especially when we stop looking for what we can get and look rather to what we can give.

Got more ideas and suggestions on how to spread joy where you live?  Connect with us via Facebook and give us your input!


Don’t forget to SHARE this article with friends and family!  Working together to spread joy and life, we can surely make great waves in our generation and positively impact countless generations to come !


10 Ways to Save Money by Eating Better

Yes, eating healthier is likely to cost more than eating very poorly.  You wouldn’t expect to buy better gas for your car for less than the cruddy gas would cost; we can’t very well expect to fill our bodies up with “Premium” fuel for less than the bottom-of-the-barrel offerings.  With that said, there are ways to save money on eating healthier and here’s how you do it:

1.  Keep an Eye Out


Produce departments will often mark things for clearance that are actually PERFECT. Bananas are a big one here (So many people think the brown spots mean they’re bad when it actually means they’re ripe).  Bananas are fairly cheap anyhow but I have gotten them by the bag-fulls for just a couple bucks a bag.  I then get them home, peel them, drop them straight into a freezer bag and freeze them for later use in smoothies or to throw in the food processor for an easy alternative to ice cream.  Green beans, sliced carrots, peas, berries, stone fruits, avocados and countless others freeze very well with little effort. Many fruits can be bought nearly at a steal when in-season, from grocers, farmers’ markets or straight from the grower.

2.  Offset Your Expenses AND Boost Your Health With Our Favorite Budget Savers

  • Dried Beans & Lentils

Beans & lentils are loaded with energy, fiber, and many body boosting vitamins while providing an abundance of protein without the extra fat found in animal products.  Dried beans are super affordable (even buying them organic is cheaper by the pound that meat alternatives), are ridiculously easy to prepare (soak & boil.  Yep, that’s it!) and are extremely versatile.  Beans & lentils can be used to create everything from traditional soups, stews & sides to veggie burgers to cream sauces…even to desserts like brownies.

  • Whole Grains

With all the dietary trends making villains out of grains, we run the risk of missing out on a powerhouse source of energy and nutrient.  Grains have been staples of the human diet across thousands of years, and have even been the saving factor for entire nations that otherwise would have starved to death in times of famine.  Grains can be an inexpensive way to fuel body and brain.  Whole wheat (whole grain and flours), hulled barley, millet, buckwheat groats, brown rice, wild rice, specialty rice…the list just goes on and on.  Grains are versatile and can be added to just about any dish – soups, stews, one-pot wonders, you name it.

  • Spuds


Seriously, I really don’t know that I could ever wholeheartedly trust anybody who doesn’t like a good spud at least every now and then. I mean, come on!  Who doesn’t love potatoes?  All joking aside, potatoes are seriously awesome.  They tend to be inexpensive, easy to cook and go with just about anything and any meal of the day.  Roasted, baked or boiled, potatoes make a delicious dish loaded with nutrients (especially those much-needed minerals) and easy on the wallet.  We buy these organic because pesticides and herbicides are absorbed directly into the potato itself from the surrounding soil.  Still, even organic potatoes typically run only about $1.00/lb when buying in bags of 5+ lbs.  A 5lb. bag of potatoes is enough to make potatoes alongside or mixed into multiple meals.  Alternatively, a full bag can be prepared as mashed potatoes to serve fresh and save.  Freeze in quart-sized freezer bags for easy sides later.

  • Rolled Oats in Bulk

Repeat after me:  “No more Instant Oats!”  Instant oats often have very little remaining nutritional value, are much more expensive on the whole, and are typically chock full of added sugars and junk flavorings.  Rolled oats are every bit as quick and easy without these cons.  A pinch of cinnamon, a little almond milk and a splash of honey or maple and you’re in business, my friend.  Steel Cut Oats still boast maximum nutritional value, as far as oats go, but for those that simply do not have the time, rolled oats are a good runner up.  My favorite way to eat them is with cinnamon, maple and fresh sliced banana.  No cooking necessary.  I like the slightly chewy texture over the mushy, cooked consistency.  Either way you like them, oats are a great way to boost nutrition while saving time and money.

3.  Opt for frozen over fresh when watching that bottom dollar

supermarket refrigerators

…especially when shopping “out-of-season.”  “Freshest is bestest!”  Still, when fresh produce isn’t available or affordable, be sure to check out what’s in the freezer section.  This can also be a good way to get a better quality for your buck too.  You can often save money by buying things like organic frozen green beans instead of the conventionally grown alternatives found in the produce section.  Is it always an even swap culinarily speaking?  No, but most of the time the exchange can be made with little detection or compromise in your favorite dishes.

4.  Opt for quality over quantity

This is especially key with meat and dairy.  Too much meat and dairy is unhealthy.  Period.  No further elaboration needed there.  (We’ve really already talked on this in  our article on Proteins that Pack a Punch or Dairy if you need reasons why).  With that said, you may find that you’re able to afford organic or better quality choices by reducing the family’s overall consumption of animal products. Most people easily eat in a day, the most they would need for a week.  Other protein options, such as beans can cheaply replace meats with many meals.  Reducing the portion size is another way to save on the expense (giving you more money for better quality) while boosting your family’s overall health.  Higher quality foods of all sorts provide more nutrients.  This means you can eat less while gaining more in terms of nutrition.

5.  Shop Smart & Know your Dirty Dozen & Clean 15

Eating organic and watching a budget can be a real challenge.  Get acquainted and educated on which foods tend to be the most highly contaminated and which tend to be the cleanest.  This will help you get a better idea of which foods are worth the splurge and which you can more safely save a little moola on.  Be sure to print out your lists of the Dirty Dozen and The Clean 15 to take with you on your next shopping trip!

6.  Stock up & Save on Staples

Some items may be used so much that paying the high price of buying a little at a time makes no sense whatsoever.  When possible, by larger volumes of items, such as a good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil, which can be transferred into a smaller vessel, as needed, for ease of use.

7.  Compare Unit Prices

Bulk is often a good way to save money but there are times when the bulk runs more per pound or ounce than even the very same product & brand, in a ready-to-go package.

8.  Take inventory of your time & resources

Be sure you check your fridge and cupboard before venturing out to buy more. You may have forgotten those peppers you picked up last week or missed how perfectly they’d pair with a little tomato or cucumber the couscous you already have in the cupboard for a delightful, refreshing couscous salad.  Throw in a cup of those peas you happen to already have in the freezer and Bam!  That’s one less meal you have to plan to buy food for this week.  Sometimes you’re all set to rock your face off with what you already have on hand.  This helps to reduce food waste and frustration, save money, and maximize your grocery budget.

Also, be sure to be realistic about the time you have in the coming week. If your schedule is already booked, you may not want to buy all you need to make something that would demand hours of your time in the kitchen.  The last thing you want to do is spend a chunk of your budget on something you just don’t have time to prepare, only to watch it turn into one of those creepy science experiment looking things that not even the dog would eat.

9.  Plan Ahead

white blank notebook

Let me tell you what I personally find frustrating – Meandering through a grocer for over an hour, emerging $20 OVER-budget and getting only half-way through the week before I realize I have a house full of groceries and nothing to make for dinner.  {insert one big, fat frowny face right here}  It sucks.  And I must admit, I am not one to always sit down and plan ahead each meal.  I like the freedom of going with my gut on what I’m going to have for dinner.  What if I plan spaghetti for Thursday and decide I want tacos?  Here’s the thing, at the very least, making a list of things you must have to make some good, whole meals and other household staples is a good way to keep you on point and under-budget.  This will save you time and money while shopping.

10.  Don’t Shy Away from Replays or Retakes

Keep an eye out for foods that can do double time.  And I’m not just talking leftover-city.  For example, I may make one large pot of beans and divide them.  Some may go on salads, some seasoned and served as a side with dinner, and some pureed to make cream sauces or bases for other dishes.  This saves time and money while making the most of and reaping the most from the foods we buy.

We hope these tips have been a great help to you.  If so, please don’t forget to SHARE this article with other friends and family who stand to benefit from it as well!  Thank you!

One Key “Nutrient” No Child Should Do Without

Article written by LaTricia Morris, CIWC  LaTricia Morris is an Integrative Wellness Counselor, Writer, Author, Illustrator & the Founder of See Kids Thrive. LaTricia is an avid-health enthusiast committed to helping families like yours maximize their life potential and realize their greatet dreams.

When talking about health, nutrition and wellness, we can get so caught up in micromanaging each nutrient, afraid of the ramifications of not getting enough protein (which is so ridiculously rare in our country) or not getting enough magnesium or calcium.  However, there is one factor that probably couldn’t be more critical to a child’s development yet receives so little attention.

While we’ve all heard about the importance omega 3’s in brain development, maybe even about the connection between B vitamins and stress, we hear very little about one intangible factor that can directly hinder or boost our children’s capacity to grow, learn and thrive:  Joy.

When the brain is in a state of fear or in “fight or flight” mode, it is wired for survival and cannot retain information as readily as when it is in a relaxed, peaceful, joyful state.  Not only does negativity impair learning but it also weakens the immune system and primes the body for sickness and disease while positivity possesses the power to enhance resilience.  Joy isn’t just desirable, it’s medicinal.

Scientists and researchers have been dedicating much energy and effort in helping us understand how joy and positivity effect brain development and function.  While many have understood that what we think effects the way we feel, science is now proving that what and how we think directly alters the terrain of the brain.

That’s right – positivity & negativity directly affect how the proteins in the brain form and trigger the release of stress-related chemicals in the body.  Toxic thinking puts a lot of wear and tear on the brain.  Chronic low-joy environments not only reduce children’s capacity to enjoy life but they also impair their learning ability.  If that in itself isn’t incredible, it has also been found that how we think also affects activation of DNA and the resulting genetic expression.

Without getting too technical here, what we’ve learned is that health is not determined by heredity.  Heredity is not destiny but rather a genetic predisposition.  How we eat and how we think play the greatest roles in determining whether heredity becomes our reality.  When we indulge in toxic thinking, the signals being sent from our brains into our bodies that activates disease-promoting DNA.

The beauty of this is that as we learn to gear ourselves toward positivity, we simultaneously boost our immunity, growth and overall state of wellness.  Joy increases our children’s capacity to learn, to be creative and to function efficiently – all factors that support success in their education and careers.

Happiness vs. Joy

So often, we confuse happiness with joy and cater to the constant demand for more happiness.  Americans plow each other over in hopes of getting their hands on the latest and greatest gadgets just to see that smile on children’s faces when they take hold of it.  Yet, we also see many parents stressed to the max who are otherwise failing to make the genuine connections with their children that they so desperately need.

We see a smile when we let them do this or have that but often fail to see where those smiles are but a mask concealing deep hurt and hunger.  The things we say and do that seem so small to us often speak volumes to our children.  Some parents believe they’re giving their children “everything” because they buy them virtually everything they want but are completely blind to the many ways they tear the child down through words and actions – constant disappointment in the child, ignoring the child, name-calling…the list could go on.

So many families are foregoing family meals or struggling to engage in genuine conversation.  Go to any restaurant and you’re sure to easily see tables full of family where there’s little interaction as each is too distracted by cell phones and social media to truly appreciate the people they have sitting right next to and across from them.  How about enjoying “Family Movie Nights” where no one looks at or talks to each other but still call it “quality time.”  Don’t get me wrong, we love movies too but we also have to see the difference between family time and group entertainment.

People have spent so much time developing gadgets and gizmos to help us accomplish tasks more quickly in hopes of having more time for family.  Yet, live in a day where all that convenience so easily paves the way for more distraction from those that should matter the most.  We let comments and replies nickel and dime our time to the point of regularly losing hours of precious memories we’ll never have the opportunity to get back.

In this, we not only rob ourselves but our children as well as so many of them are now being primed for a lifetime of joy-less distraction.

Low-joy environments are not only linked to a decreased learning capacity but also to an increase in toxic behavior such as promiscuity and drug addiction.  A person deficient in joy is substantially more likely to seek to supplement with pseudo-joy, false-positives and other things that trigger temporary feelings of happiness.

Joy.  Love.  Sincerity. 

These are things I believe we really have to take back and impart upon our children if we wish to see prosperity accompany the generations to follow.

As parents, we have a great tendency to place a great emphasis on reshaping the conditions in which our children will grow up.  Having grown up considerably poor, I can absolutely relate to the desire to give my kids more than what we had as children.  However, when we get so caught up in giving them the advantage in terms of resources and material comforts, we often fail to miss where they may be moving forward with one of the greatest disadvantages of them all.

Where Joy Can Be Found

Learning all of this and more demanded that I put more thought into my own parenting while my children were still very small.  I had to start making conscious connections, seeing where I could be a real joy-killer when I hit that wall and just needed one stinkin’ moment of silence.  I see where I have to make a steady effort toward making genuine joyful connections with my children and to not steal their joy when I can’t seem to find my own.  The awesome thing is that in doing so, their natural tendencies toward joy, when nurtured, can promote joy in those around them.  Sometimes all it takes to hit that “reset” button on the day is slowing down for a moment to take them up into my arm and reaffirm my affections.

The greatest joy is imparted through acts and expressions of genuine love.  Giving a child a gift isn’t a bad thing.  Gifts are considered one of “the 5 love languages.”  By all means, gift away but realize and help children see that gifts are not a measure of love and affection but only a demonstration of it.

Generating joy need not be expensive or even strenuous.  It merely involves a little extra time and the expression of your genuine affections.  Joy feeds off of joy and children are already excellent joy-generators.  Enjoy jokes, crafts and tickle time.  Enjoy multi-generational interaction.  Break out board or card games like people actually used to do before everything went digital.  Don’t just eat dinner together, make dinner together and enjoy making memories in the process.  As parents sow the seeds of love, our children reap harvests of joy.

While I absolutely appreciate the critical role of sound nutrition in child development, I’ve become increasingly convinced that little can have such an impact on the “Success Story” of their lives as love and joy.  Joy is precious, invaluable and free.  It is something so many are desperately lacking which we can all so readily give.  Anybody can change another person’s life.  Be the kind of person that changes it for the better.

Be sure to SHARE this article with friends and family as we work together to reshape the future for our children and the many generations their lives will impact.

The Essential Learning Nutrients

Scroll down to learn more about each nutrient and where you can get it!

Article written byLaTricia Morris, CIWC  LaTricia Morris is an Integrative Wellness Counselor, Writer, Author, Illustrator & the Founder of See Kids Thrive.

In Eating for A’s, Schauss, et al, discuss what they call the 12 Essential Learning Nutrients.  In the text, they explain that by acquiring all of these nutrients through dietary diversification, children should consequently receive adequate amounts of all nutrients.  RDA’s are according to this text.  Please, note, daily recommendations may change over time or be recommended in different quantities by different health professionals.  Further, there are other nutrients, such as DHA that have been proven essential to brain function.  These featured nutrients, as acquired from a healthy diet, are said to greatly increase children’s capactiy to learn, laugh and live life to the fullest.

*Please note that RDA’s may vary depending upon resources.  All effort has been made to provide accurate recommendations.  Still, we recommend you  seek the personal counsel of a reliable health professional prior to supplementation or implementing any dietary advice you receive from ANY internet source.

Vitamin A

RDA: 4,000IU


Aids in manufacturing of protein and DNA and promotes tissue formation of the skin, eyes, nails, lungs, ears, and mouth

Deficiency Signs:

Depression and apathy; lowered friendly intestinal flora, which prohibits the conversion of carotene to vitamin A; retarded brain growth in infants


Amaranth Leaves, Acerola, Arugula, Apricots, Basil, Asparagus, Cantaloupe, Chili Powder, Beet Greens, Cherries, Laver (Seaweed), Beets, Grapefruit, Paprika, Broccoli, Loquats, Red Raspberry Leaf Teas, Cabbage, Mango, Soymilk, Carrots, Mangos, Spirulina, Collards, Orange Juice, Stevia, Cress, Papaya, Barley Grass, Dandelion Greens, Passion-Fruit, Endive, Peach, Grape Leaves, Persimmon (Japanese), Kale, Plantain, Oatmeal, Lambsquarters, Tomato, Lettuce, Mustard Greens, Onions, Pak Choi/Bok Choy, Peas, Pumpkin, Puslane, Red Bell Pepper, Spinach, Squash, Sweet Potato, Swiss Chard, Taro Leaves, Turnip Greens, Watercress, Zucchini

Vitamin B1 {Thiamin}

RDA: 3mg


Aids metabolism of fats, proteins and carbohydrates; helps brain process energy; aids transmission of nervous system signals; known as “morale” vitamin due to effects on mental attitude; supports learning & memory capacity

Deficiency Signs:

Fatigue; impaired memory, mental confusion, reduced alertness, impaired reflex actions, general apathy, and lack of interest, disorderly behavior, irritability, impulsiveness, poor sleep, and fatigue. linked to anorexia/loss of appetite, indigestion, constipation, weakening of heart muscles  which can result in cardiac failure causing swelling in the lower legs, then thighs,  difficulty breathing and can even eventually lead to death as the heart gets enlarged and other cardiac impairments occur


Leafy Greens, Avocado, Mushrooms, Squash, Carrot, Peppers, Orange/Tangerine/Pineapple Juice, Papaya, Plums, Raisins, Black Beans, Cowpeas, Lentils, Lima Beans, Mung Beans, Navy Beans, Kidney Beans, Peas, Pink Beans, Pinto Beans, Winged Beans, Yardlong Beans, Yellow Beans, Soybeans, Peanuts, Potatoes, Brown Rice, Buckwheat, Millet, Oats, Barley, Alfalfa, Triticale, Semolina, Wheat Germ, Whole Grains (Germ & Bran), Flaxseed, Brazil Nuts, Hazelnuts/Filberts, Hickory Nuts, Macademia Nuts, Pistachios, Pecans, Safflower Seeds, Sesame Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Nutritional Yeast, Kelp, Spirulina

Vitamin B2 {Riboflavin}

RDA: 1.7mg


Needed to process amino acids and fats, activate vitamin B6 and folic acid, and help convert carbohydrates into the fuel the body runs

Deficiency Signs:

Bloodshot eyes, abnormal sensitivity to light, itching and burning of the eyes, inflammation in the mouth, a sore and burning tongue, and cracks on the lips and in the corners of the mouth, bloodshot eyes, abnormal sensitivity to light, itching and burning of the eyes, inflammation in the mouth, a sore and burning tongue, and cracks on the lips and in the corners of the mouth.  May also lead to malfunctioning of the adrenal glands or contribute to anemia or cataract.


Almonds/Almond Butter, Beet Greens, Lambsquarters, Portobello Mushrooms, Shitake Mushrooms, Crimini Mushrooms, Tomatoes, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Durian, Prune Juice, Passion-Fruit Juice, Spinach, Buckwheat, Oatmeal, Pumpkin Seeds, Quinoa, Sesame Seeds, Soybeans, Tempeh, Whole Grains, Ancho Chilies, Barley Grass, Chili powder, Coriander, Nutritional Yeast, Paprika, Parsley, Parsley, Peppermint, Spearmint, Spirulina, Yeast Extract Spread (Marmite)

Vitamin B3 {Niacin}

RDA: 50mg


Assists the brain in producing chemicals and acids essential in the manufacturing of protein; necessary for healthy blood circulation and impedes cholesterol accumulation; also known as the “happy vitamin” for its influence on personality.

Deficiency Signs:

General weakness, muscular weakness, and lack of appetite. Skin infections and digestive problems may also be associated with niacin deficiency.


Asparagus, Barley, Beef, Broccoli, Brown Rice, Buckwheat, Calf Liver, Carrots, Chicken (esp. breast), Crimini Mushrooms, Gingko Nuts, Halibut, Lamb, Leafy Greens, Lentils, Mangos, Milk, Millet, Oysters, Passion-Fruit Juice, Peanut Butter, Peanuts, Portobello, Potatoes, Prune Juice, Rice Bran, Salmon, Shitake Mushrooms, Sunflower Seeds, Tomato, Tuna, Turkey, Venison, Wheat (soft & hard red winter), Wheat Bran, Wheat Durum, Wheat Germ, Wild Rice

Vitamin B6 {Pyrodoxine}

RDA: 5mg


Also helps the brain produce chemicals and acids essential in the manufacturing of protein; also influences hair color, growth and texture.

Deficiency Signs:

Dizziness, skin diseases, tremors, convulsions, fainting and motion sickness.


Acorns, Alfalfa Capsicum, Almonds, Avocados, Banana, Barley Malt Flour, Beechnuts, Beef Liver, Beets, Breadnut Tree Seeds, Brown Rice, Brussel Sprouts, Carrot Juice, Chick Peas, Chicken, Cod, Durian, Garbanzo Beans, Garlic, Halibut, Kelp, Palm Hearts, Papaya, Pineapple Juice, Pinto Beans, Plantain, Pork, Potatoes, Prune Juice, Red Clover, Rice Bran, Rice Flour, Safflower Seeds, Soybeans, Squash, Sunflower Seed Butter, Sunflower Seeds, Sweet Potatoes, Tomato Juice, Tuna, Turkey, Venison, Walnuts, Wheat Germ, Wild Rice


RDA: 400mcg

*Folate and folic acid are different forms of the same vitamin. Folate is the natural form of the vitamin found in foods, while folic acid is the synthetic form used in dietary supplements and in fortified foods.


Helps the body produce RNA & DNA, both important in the formation of nucleic acid and the storage of recent-memory events.

Deficiency Signs:

Apathy, impaired memory, irritability, withdrawal, slowing of all intellectual processes, anemia, fatigue, general weakness and parasites


Adzuki Beans, Agar, Alfalfa, Amaranth Leaves, Artichoke, Asparagus, Avocado, Beets, Black Beans, Boysenberries, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Calf Liver, Chicken Liver, Chickpeas, Collards, Cowpeas, Cranberry Beans, Durian, Eggs, Endive, Fava Beans, French Beans, Garbanzo Beans, Great Northern Beans, Green Beans, Kelp, Kidney Beans, Lentils, Lima Beans, Lima Beans, Lima Beans, Moth Beans, Mung Beans, Mustard Greens, Navy Beans, Navy Beans, Okra, Orange, Orange Juice, Peanuts, Peas, Pigeon Peas, Pineapple Juice, Pink Beans, Pinto Beans, Potatoes, Pumpkin Seeds, Red Clover, Safflower Seeds, Soybeans, Spinach, Sprouted Grains, Sunflower Seed Butter, Sunflower Seeds, Tomato, Turkey Liver, Turnip Greens, Watercress, Wheat Germ, Wild Rice, Yardlong Beans, Yellow Beans

Vitamin C

RDA: 250 mg


Aids in the utilization of protein; improves absorption of certain forms of iron needed by the brain; often referred to as the “master vitamin” for its necessity to overall bodily processes.

Deficiency Signs:

Fatigue, depression, hypersensitivity, colds; general run-down condition, bruising, bleeding gums, and shortness of breath


Acerola, Acerola Juice, Amaranth Leaves, Apple, Apple Juice, Apricot, Artichoke, Asparagus, Banana, Beet Greens, Black Currants, Blackberries, Blackberry Juice, Blueberries, Breadfruit, Breadnut Tree Seeds, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Cantaloupe, Carrot Juice, Casaba Melon, Cauliflower, Cherries, Chestnuts, Collards, Corn, Crabapples, Cranberries, Custard Apple, Dandelion Greens, Durian, Elderberries, Feijoa, Garden Cress, Gingko Nuts, Gooseberries, Grapefruit, Grapes, Guava, Honeydew Melon, Jujube, Kale, Kiwi, Kohlrabi, Kumquats, Lambsquarters, Lemon, Lentils, Lime, Litchis, Loganberries, Longans, Mulberries, Mustard Greens, Nectarine, Okra, Orange Juice, Palm Hearts, Papaya, Papaya Nectar, Parsnips, Passion-Fruit, Pea, Peach, Peach Nectar, Pear, Persimmon, Pineapple, Plantain, Plum, Pomegranate, Potatoes, Prune Juice, Pummel, Pumpkin, Purslane, Radishes, Raspberries, Red Currants, Rutabagas, Saurkraut, Soybeans, Spinach, Squash, Starfruit, Strawberries, Sundried Tomatoes, Sweet Peppers, Swiss Chard, Tangerine, Taro Leaves, Taro Shoots, Thyme, Tomatillos, Tomato Juice, Turnip Greens, Turnips, Wasabi, Watercress, Watermelon, White Currants, Yam, Yam Bean


RDA: 10 mg


Essential for building healthy muscles and maintaining healthy blood; aids in processing of nutrients required for neurological processing; helps process neurotransmitters and DNA

Deficiency Signs:

Anemia, listlessness, worry, dull hair, fatigue, inflamed mouth or tongue


Adzuki Beans, Amaranth, Asparagus, Barley Malt Flour, Barley, Pearled, Bulgur, Cashews, Cereals (Not The Sugar Laden Stuff), Chickpeas, Clams, Coconut, Cowpeas, Cranberry Beans, Dandelion Root, Great Northern Beans, Hemp Hearts, Hyacinth Beans, Kidney Beans, Lentils, Lima Beans, Miso, Moth Beans, Navy Beans, Oats, Organ Meats, Oysters, Palm Hearts, Passion-Fruit, Pink Beans, Pinto Beans, Potatoes, Prune Juice, Pumpkin Seeds, Quinoa, Rice Bran, Rye Flour, Sorghum, Soybeans, Spinach, Spirulina, Squash Seeds, Tahini, Thyme, Tofu, Wheat, Wheat Germ, White Beans, Winged Beans, Yardlong Beans, Yellow Bean


RDA: 30-360mg, depending on age of child


Helps the brain attain energy from nutrients; key for the activation of enzyme reactions (required for over 200 enzymatic functions); essential to have balance between calcium and magnesium as the heart muscles contract with calcium and relax with magnesium; and aids in balancing the blood’s pH levels.

Deficiency Signs:

Irritability, nervousness, lethargy, depression, confusion


Adzuki Beans, Agar, Almond Butter, Almonds, Amaranth, Artichoke, Barley, Barley Malt Flour, Barley, Pearled, Beet Greens, Black Beans, Black Walnut, Blackberry Juice, Brazil Nuts, Brown Rice, Buckwheat, Buckwheat Flour, Buckwheat Groats, Bulgur, Butternuts, Cashew Butter, Cashews, Chinook Salmon, Coconut Water, Corn, Cornmeal, Cowpeas, Cranberry Beans, Flaxseed, French Beans, French Beans, Great Northern Beans, Halibut, Hazelnuts, Hyacinth Beans, Lima Beans, Lotus Seeds, Macaroni, Millet, Mung Beans, Navy Beans, Oat Bran, Oats, Passion-Fruit Juice, Peanut Butter, Pigeon Peas, Pine Nuts, Pink Beans, Pinto Beans, Potatoes, Potatoes, Pumpkin Seeds, Purslane, Quinoa, Rice Bran, Rye, Rye Flour, Safflower Seeds, Scallops, Sesame Seeds, Soybeans, Soymilk (Calcium-Fortified), Spaghetti, Spinach, Squash, Squash Seeds, Sunflower Seed , Sunflower Seed Butter, Swiss Chard, Triticale, Triticale, Walnuts, Wasabi, Wheat, Wheat Bran, Wheat Durum, Wheat Germ, Wild Rice, Winged Beans, Yardlong Beans, Yellow Bean


RDA: 50 mg


Required for normal levels of brain neurotransmitters; known as “the alkalizer,” potassium works with sodium; potassium flushes waste from cells and balances body fluids

Deficiency Signs:

Weakness, loss of appetite; nausea, irrational thinking, confusion


2% Milk, Adzuki Beans, Amaranth Leaves, Apricot, Artichoke, Bamboo Shoots, Banana, Beet Greens, Blackbeans, Blackberry Juice, Breadfruit, Breadnut Tree Seeds, Brussel Sprouts, Cantaloupe, Carrot Juice, Cashews, Coconut Water, Cottage Cheese, Cranberry Beans, Dates, Durian, Grape Juice, Great Northern Beans, Kidney Beans, Lean Beef, Lentils, Lima Beans, Lotus Seeds, Navy Beans, Orange Juice, Oranges, Palm Hearts, Papaya, Passion-Fruit, Passion-Fruit Juice, Peach, Plantain, Pomegranate, Portobella, Potatoes, Prune Juice, Pumpkin Seeds, Quinoa, Raisins, Salmon, Sesame Seeds, Soybeans, Spelt, Spinach, Spinach, Squash, Sundried Tomatoes, Sunflower Seeds, Sweet Potato, Swiss Chard, Tangerine Juice, Tomato Juice, Turkey (Esp. Dark Meat), Wasabi, Water Chestnuts, Whole Grains, Yam, Yogurt


RDA: 10 mg


Required in virtually every enzyme reaction in the brain; aids in the manufacture of RNA, DNA, and protein; helps provide energy from glucose and protein

Deficiency Signs:

White spots on fingernails, lack of energy, visual problems, slow healing, blood sugar problems, poor appetite, anorexia, fatigue, confusion


Adzuki Beans, Amaranth, Baked Beans, Beef, Calf Liver, Cashew Butter, Cashews, Hominy, Hyacinth Beans, Lamb, Millet, Miso, Napa Cabbage, Oats, Pecans, Pine Nuts, Pumpkin Seeds, Rice Bran, Rye, Rye Flour, Safflower Seeds, Scallops, Sesame Seeds, Squash Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Triticale, Turkey, Venison, Watermelon Seeds, Wheat, Wheat Germ, Wild Rice, Yogurt


RDA: 100 mg


Essential for glucose metabolism (the human brain is almost totally dependent on glucose for its fuel); permits insulin to cross cell membranes; increases HDL, suppresses hunger symptoms; and helps prevent diabetes

Deficiency Signs:

Poor concentration, impaired short-term memory, mood fluctuation, general feelings of tiredness


Apples, Asparagus, Bananas, Beef, Black Pepper, Brewer’s Yeast, Broccoli, Cereals, Cheese, Grape Juice, Green Beans, Mushrooms, Nuts, Organ Meats, Potatoes, Prunes, Thyme, Turkey, Whole Grains

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3 Reasons You Should STOP Cooking So Much

In this day and age, with jam-packed schedules and seldom enough energy to go around, many people have been looking for an “out” on the whole cooking business.  No doubt, take-out is considered a “life-saver” for taking at least one thing off the proverbial “plate” of our daily lives, even as it has a way of generating more heartache and headache in the long run.

 Yeah, that’s not the “out” I’m giving you but I am giving you a perfect excuse to dial down the burners and STOP cooking so much.  The bonus?  Your family is going to reap MEGA bonuses in terms of their health!

Wielding nothing more than a knife and a cutting board, you too can whip up a number of delicious, no-cook dishes that can have your family rockin’ and rollin’ with good health!


Raw foods are nutritional powerhouses!  No – I’m not talking raw chicken, beef or eggs.  (I clarify because, yes, I’ve had people actually look at me with utter disgust when I say “eat more raw foods” and for whatever reason their minds race to raw meat.  Gross.  No.  If you’re going to eat meat, cook it.)

What I am talking about is piling that plate high with fresh, raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.  Raw foods not only support better digestion and assimilation of nutrients but also provide a wealth of other health benefits from supporting detox and reducing inflammation, to helping many overcome serious diseases and obstacles in their health.

No, you don’t have to go fully raw or full-on raw vegan.  BUT, we do all stand to benefit from increasing our consumption of fresh plant foods being as close to their natural state as possible.


Considered the “power of life,” enzymes are rich in raw foods but destroyed by processing and heating the food above 118°F.  “Eating an enzyme-rich diet is thought to increase vitality and slow the aging process. According to Dr. Gabriel Cousens, M.D., ‘Enzymes can even help repair our DNA and RNA.’”2

Science is steadily trying to catch up with enzymes and to fully understand their functions yet each marker toward that understanding only underscores their great importance.  (I absolutely loved reading over this article by Dr. Mercola.)

The short of it?  It is recommended that 75% of our diet come from raw food consumption to ensure we are getting plenty of enzymes to support vitality and our disease-fighting superpowers.


(Phyto – “plant”)

Plant foods contain a plethora of vitamins and minerals to build strong bones and give you great hair but that’s not all folks.  That’s not all!

Plant foods also contain thousands of phytonutrients that support more mechanisms than you can count.  We’re talking nutrients that fight cancer, balance blood sugar, support heart health and countless more that quite frankly rock my nerdy little nutritional world!  You just can’t get that anywhere else.

If you’re amongst those that’ve been taking comfort in some man-made multivitamin, thinking you’ve got the fam covered, I hate to be the one to break it to you but you’re not.  We need whole food nutrition.

The nutrients found in plant foods must not only be present but also consumed as part of a package deal.  The nutrients found throughout whole foods often work together synergistically to accomplish far more than they could ever accomplish on their own.  Some of these increase the functionality of the other.  Some are needed for better assimilation of other key nutrients.

Conclusion – Eat whole food plant food, dude!


This may not be one that gets a lot of thought but, yes, our food should also be helping us meet our needs for water.  Most American foods can be very dry, dehydrating the body as it has to use it’s own fluids to digest the foods, contributing to the constipation and other digestive woes that come with our traditional way of eating.

Raw fruits and vegetables contain an average of 82-89% water, helping to re-hydrate your body as it simultaneously supercharges it.  That may not seem like much but it certainly adds up throughout the day.  As a real plus, the water in organic fruits and vegetables can be much cleaner and purer than anything you’ll ever get out of a tap or a bottle; not to mention that it acts as a perfect carrier for all those water-soluble nutrients you’re getting from the food.

While you may not exactly be chomping at the bit to give up all your favorite, hearty cooked meals, I hope you’ll make it a point to finish with a raw apple or start with some raw greens.  Still, it’s really not all salads and apple slices.  Healthy, raw food recipes are in no short supply.  You don’t have to go fully raw to enjoy the benefits of simply eating more fresh fruits and vegetables.

Every little bit helps and even just a small effort to add a little more raw to each meal can pay off in dividends.

So, there you have it.  STOP cooking so much!  Back away from the burners and whip up a healthy blend of fresh chopped produce for dinner or lunch.  What do you say?


1 https://draxe.com/raw-food-diet/

2 http://kristensraw.com/why_raw_details_benefits.php

3 https://draxe.com/raw-food-diet/


Detox Your Home and Remove Harmful Toxins that Surround Your Child

Article provided byDr. Lisa Sulsenti  Dr. Sulsenti is a chiropractor, nutritionist, author, and crusader for families with the Autism Spectrum Disorders.  She is passionate about YOUR FAMILY and helping you build the healthy and happy balanced life with Autism Spectrum Disorders that you desire. Visit her at DrLisaSulsenti.com Be sure to check out her book: The Overtilted Child: Creating a Sensational Classroom for Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Sensory Processing Disorder, and ADD/ADHDavailable on amazon.  As originally featured in ASK DR LISA, FAMILY HEALTH

 ” Dr. Lisa, I loved your free Autism Awareness gift, Kid’s Healthy Shopping List, as I have begun the journey of removing harmful toxins and ingredients in my child’s food choices. It got me thinking – should I also be considering removing any harmful toxins in my home such as some that are in cleaners that I am using?  My daughter is such a big helper in doing her chores, so using safe products is something I would like to consider.” ~ Caroline , Texas

 If your life is anything similar to mine, balancing time to clean dirty toilets, bathrooms, showers, and kitchens is a juggling act. Top this magic trick with picking up dirty laundry, as well as, washing, sorting, folding and the dreaded putting clean clothes away, and you truly steal the show.  In fact, you are my superhero if you pull this all off in the midst of kids and work.

One of my favorite infrequent moments in my momma circus life, is when for some strange cosmic reason, my house is entirely clean. That is, all the rooms, laundry and floors. That very precious moment when I realize the mess and dirt is all gone. Clean. Healthy. Done.

 Well, maybe clean and done, but let’s question healthy.

You see, we typically equate a clean home to a healthy safe place for our children. And, the amount of work and magic that goes into making sure our homes are clean and safe for our children deserves superhero awards. However, if we use toxic chemicals to clean our homes, we actually are leaving behind unhealthy hazardous residues both on our home’s surfaces and in the indoor air that are extremely harmful to our family. Yikes.

Imagine. All that effort and craze to get our houses clean, yet we fail to keep our children healthy when we use the wrong cleaning products.

Insane, right?

It is super important to have your child involved in pitching in with the household cleaning and chores. Many kids as young as the age of three can help put toys away, keeping their play areas and bedrooms neat. As a child grows, one can start to use a non-toxic safe cleaner to wipe windows, tables and even counter tops. As your child matures, he/she can actually gain more responsibility in helping clean the home with chores such as loading and emptying a dishwasher and laundry machine, bringing down dirty laundry, folding and putting away clean laundry, cleaning a bathroom with safe cleaners and vacuuming.

In our home the rule is we all pitch in. We assign chores, but also will ask whatever child is home to help pitch in with a task that is age appropriate. I tell my boys that we are a tribe and we work together, pitching in so our family happily works. I do not pay them as being part of our tribe means doing their part without monetary reward. However, we gladly give our children some money to go out with their friends if they are doing their part. Groovy how we all reward our children differently and get them to pitch in!

If your child is using your household cleaners, let’s stop and dig deeper into why you must use healthy products only.

Through much of my research over the years, I have found that toxins in the home, food and environment are linked to creating health problems such as asthma, eczema, childhood and breast cancer and neurological problems such as behavior, learning and Autism Spectrum Disorders.

The Children’s Cancer Recovery Foundation’s (CCRF), Toxic-Free Kids program encourages parents to use safe cleaning alternatives to lessen their children’s exposure to hazardous and potentially cancer-causing products that contain carcinogens such as kerosene, hydrochloric acid, ammonia and chlorine bleach. According to the EPA, indoor air pollution within our homes is a serious health concern.

Children are at a higher risk to the harmful effects of toxic chemicals because their immune systems, organs, tissues and nervous systems are growing and developing rapidly each and every day. Also, children tend to crawl, play in dirty areas, and use their hands and mouth to explore and learn about their world. Even as children get older, their play, behavior and lack of awareness to hygiene continues to make them more vulnerable. Adding harmful toxins for them to breathe in or lather onto their skin and hair only increases risks of health problems.

Household products such as bleach, ammonia, window, wood, oven, bath and toilet cleaners, dish and laundry detergents, and air fresheners can be dangerous to a child’s health.

The Children’s Environmental Health Center (CEHC) has developed a list of ten chemicals found in consumer products that are suspected to have a link to autism and learning disabilities. The top ten chemicals are lead, methylmercury, PCBs, organophosphate pesticides, organochlorine pesticides, endocrine disruptors, automotive exhaust, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, brominated flame retardants, and perfluorinated compounds.

At this time, two papers were published by researchers from University of California – Davis suggesting the need for more studies. One stated a correlation that PCBs disrupt early brain development and another advised the exploration of the link between pesticide exposure and autism.

It is true; a CLEAN house can be a harmful to our children. Ugh.

What You Can Do to Create a Healthy Clean Home

Our goal is to build a family and home that is safe, healthy and clean for our children. In order to do so, you must be aware and avoid the following common household cleaning chemicals. They are reported to be toxic and create diseases such as breast and childhood cancer, asthma, eczema and neurological problems.

Common Toxic Cleaning Chemicals to Avoid

Alkylphenols are chemicals used in detergents and other cleaning products. They’re also found in personal care products, especially hair products. These chemicals interact with cellular estrogen receptors in the body, capable of creating estrogen displacement and havoc.

Triclosan is an antibacterial and antifungal chemical used in cleaning products and household items such as soaps, detergents, toothpastes, mouthwash and cleaning supplies. The pesticide chemical can affect the body’s hormone systems, such as thyroid hormones, and consequently, may disrupt normal breast development.

Aldehydes, such as glutaraldehyde, are chemicals that may cause when the are breathed in or come in contact with the skin. They can cause permanent damage to the eyes, ears, nose , throat and lungs. Formaldehyde is a lung and respiratory irritant and is also classified as a category 3 carcinogen. Formaldehyde is commonly used as a preservative in cleaning products.

Benzalkonium Chloride is a sensitizer especially dangerous for people with asthma or skin conditions such as eczema and chronic dermatitis. There is also a stated correlation between an increase in childhood asthma and the exposure to this chemical through household disinfectants, sanitizers, and personal care products.

Sodium Hypochlorite is a strong oxidizer that can burn skin and cause eye damage. Mixing bleach with other household products can be extremely dangerous. According to the American Association of Poison Control Center’s annual reports, sodium hypochlorite has been implicated in many household accidents and/or deaths.

Phthalates are endocrine-disrupting chemicals commonly used to render plastics soft and flexible. They are found in plastics, cosmetics, fragrances especially in cosmetics and household cleaners, baby care products, building material, modeling clay, cars and insecticides. They enter the body by skin, ingestion, inhalation and medical injection. They are found in the air and dust in homes.

Ammonia Hydroxide is a common sanitizer used in the home, and according to the World Health Organization and the United States Environmental Protection Agency, is considered carcinogenic. It also had been linked with creating health problems with skin, liver, kidneys, lungs and eyes. The Environmental Working Group has stated a correlation with asthma, respiratory and skin issues as well.

Dyes in Cleaning Products

Dyes in cleaning products are often unlabeled on the products’ ingredient lists, but are often comprised of several different chemicals, some of which are known carcinogens. Dyes in food and cleaning products have been linked to cancer and neurological problems, such as behavior, attention, learning problems.

Citrus Red 2, Red 3, Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 1, Blue 2, and Green 3 are derived from coal tar and petroleum, and according to the Center of Science in Public Interest (CSPI) have or have been contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals. The British Food Standards Agency in 2001 concluded after a study that 6 dyes/colorants and sodium benzoate were linked to increasing hyperactivity and ADD in children. As a result, the European Union Law required all beverages with these 6 dyes to have warning labels that consumption can lead to hyperactivity. We must be aware that our children are not ingesting dyes through foods or inhaling it the air as well.

How to Detox and Create a Toxic-Free Home

You are a supermom. Your hard work and love does not go unnoticed. Simply yield here and allow this as an opportunity to learn and grow.


Vinegar works great at removing grease, dirt and grime. It is acidic in nature and has a super antibacterial effect. I use it on the floors, counter tops in bathroom and kitchens, toilets, mirrors and windows. Mix 1 cup of vinegar with water in a bucket or spray bottle. Safe and fun for the kids.

Baking Powder

Baking powder is great as an abrasive and replaces products such as Comet or Soft Scrub by miles. It works great on the toilets, tubs, showers and places that need a tougher scrubbing such as the stove. If you need more power, simple add a little salt to it. Safe for the kids too!

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice has the power to kill mold and beat grease. It also leaves a great lemon fresh scent. Simply mix lemon juice with vinegar or olive oil to create a lovely safe and strong cleaning product.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen Peroxide has an amazing ability to remove stains and cut through tougher grease and dirt. Mixing it in a spray bottle with water is a great cleaner and also can be a safe spot remove when doing laundry.

Homemade Laundry and Dish Detergents

There are many recipes today on the internet and Pinterest on how to DIY your own laundry and dish detergents. Look at this great website that even has a DIY dryer sheets, keeping your house and cleaning products safe and healthy for your kids.

The Home Detox Online Course

My friend and environmental engineer Laura Trotta has a fantastic website and  an online program, the Home-Detox Boot Camp, where she shares her framework for a cleaner, greener, healthier home. It is where I learned all I need to know on how to clean my house naturally and safely.

Remember, harmful toxins in food, our homes and environments can create neurological problems in the body. Thus, having a harmful toxin-free home helps our children regulate their nervous systems and overcome challenges related to asthma, allergies, sensory processing, ADD/ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Clean. Safe. Healthy.

I now feel like a real Super Mom. You will too!

A Note from the Editor

If you’ve found this article helpful to you, please be sure to SHARE it with friends.  Also, be sure to hop on over to learn more about Dr. Sulsenti at DrLisaSulsenti.com and give her Facebook Page a LIKE to stay in the loop and receive all the many great resources she continues to offer!










Article originally published MAY 9, 2015

Companion Planting Guide

Companion planting is defined as the close planting of different plants that enhance each other’s growth or protect each other from pests.

While soil, sun & nutrients are all essential considerations in the garden, it may also serve you well to take a moment to consider what you are or aren’t planting alongside that prized garden crop.

Some plants, especially herbs, act as repellents, confusing insects with their strong odors that mask the scent of the intended host plants.  Some companions act as “trap plants,” luring insects to themselves. Nasturtiums, for example, are so favored by aphids that the devastating insects will flock to them instead of other plants.

Incompatible plants are sometimes referred to as combatants. For example:

  • While white garlic and onions repel an array of pests and make excellent neighbors for most garden plants, they stunt the growth of beans and peas alongside them.
  • Potatoes and beans grow poorly in the company of sunflowers, and although cabbage and cauliflower are closely related, they don’t like each other at all.

One of the keys to successful companion planting is observation. Keep a record of your plant combinations (even if you just dash through the garden snapping photos to remember what was planted well and to see how it’s faring) and the results from year to year.


Banner Companion Planting

Eden Life’s Companion Planting Guide

Even plants in woodlands can be companions.  Blueberries, mountain laurel, azaleas, and other ericaceous (heather family) plants thrive in the acidic soils created by pines and oaks.  Shade-loving plants tend to seek the shelter provided by a wooded grove.  The shade-lovers in return protect the forest floor from erosion with their thick tangle of shallow roots.

 Legumes and some trees, such as alders, have symbiotic relationships with bacteria in the soil that help them to capture nitrogen from the air and convert it to fertilizer, enriching the soil so plants can prosper in their presence.

Sometimes plants may be helpful to one another only at a certain stage of their growth. The quantity and ratio of different plants growing together is often a factor in their compatibility.  Some plants make good companions for no apparent reason whatsoever.

You might assume that keeping a garden weed-free would be a good thing, but even that’s not always the case. Certain weeds pull nutrients from lower layers of the soil and bring them close to the surface. When the weeds die and decompose, nutrients become available in the surface soil and are more easily accessed by shallow-rooted plants.  Still, you want to keep an eye out for tenacious weeds, such as nutsedge which an even emit a chemical underground that tells other local plants to straight “back off!”

Perhaps one of the most peculiar examples of strange garden friends is the relationship between the weed stinging nettle and several vegetable varieties. For no presently known reason, plants grown in the presence of stinging nettle are said to display exceptional vigor and resist spoiling.

Could we agree that God has made His creation undeniably incredible?  Not that you didn’t suppose so before but the more I learn about things like health and gardening and really most anything I endeavor to delve into, the more I am just flabbergasted at the intricate work of our Maker’s hands.  Don’t you just find it astounding that He has integrated so much depth, diversity and mystery into so many things, just waiting to lead us on a journey to learn more about Him through it all?

How I Got My Son to Choose “Healthy” Foods with Dr. Sina McCullough

After catching her recent article on Dr. Axe, where she wrote about her journey in overcoming autoimmune disease, I just had to reach out to Dr. Sina to see if she’d be willing to share some of her family’s story with all of us her at SKT.  I have to say, getting to connect with this woman has been such a gift.  I know you all are just going to love her!   Don’t forget to FOLLOW her on social and give her article some LIKES and SHARES!

How I Got My Son to Choose “Healthy” Foods

 Article by Dr. Sina McCullough   Dr. Sina holds a doctoral degree in Nutritional Science and a bachelor’s degree in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior from the University of California at Davis. She has taught Biochemistry and Bioenergetics at UC Davis and has served as Director of Research and Development in the supplement industry. She is now the homeschooling mother of  two on a mission to help restore the integrity of our food, protecting the long-term health and freedom of her family and families around the globe. Be sure to check out her book, Hands Off My Food!  You can also visit her online at HandsOffMyFood.com. While at the grocery store last week, I came across a new organic fruit called Cotton Candy grapes.  The name sounded fun, so I brought them home for my 7-year old son, Hunter.  However, when I offered him the Cotton Candy grapes, Hunter looked at me with a questioning eye and said, “Those grapes sound like they are GMO.”  He wouldn’t eat them until we verified that the grapes were, in fact, not genetically modified.

 This wasn’t an isolated incident.  Hunter has demonstrated similar behaviors on other occasions – even turning down free chocolate chip cookies in the classroom.  Hunter doesn’t blindly trust our food supply.  He questions the food he eats and makes choices based on his principles, which include: no GMOs, grains, additives, preservatives, or artificial/natural colorings or flavors.  In fact, his behavior has prompted fellow moms and even strangers to ask me:

“How did you get your son to choose ‘healthy’ food?”  Meet Hunter!  Hunter is on a mission:  to inspire other kids to enjoy amazing eats and incredible health.  This kid doesn’t just rock his take on some delectable cookies, he’s already written his first recipe book and launched his own brand!  His passion for healthy living is incredibly refreshing and inspiring to us all! Be sure to check out his cookbook, Rattlesnake Treats! 

That’s the crazy part; I didn’t.  He made the decision on his own, by utilizing my guidance and experience with food.  Hunter watched me battle an autoimmune disease that was caused by food.  He saw me at rock bottom when my body hurt so badly that Hunter had to hold a cup to my mouth so I could drink.  But, he also witnessed God reverse my disease through diet and lifestyle changes.  That experience helped shape his relationship with food – he saw that food can kill and food can heal.

While my illness helped guide Hunter, so did my childhood experiences.  For example, as a child, I never thought about the GMOs, pesticides, or synthetic additives that were in my food.  In fact, I used to sneak junk food all the time.  I wasn’t allowed to have sugar – not even the typical kid’s cereal.  We didn’t even have sugary foods in our house, except for table sugar.  Consequently, I became obsessed with finding and eating sugar.  I used to sneak downstairs in the middle of the night and lick sugar from the sugar jar.  At school, I routinely got in trouble for trading my sandwiches for my friends’ cookies.  And, when I was older, my sister and I would steal money from my Dad’s coin jar and walk to the local gas station to buy candy bars.  We’d hide in the tall weeds behind the store and eat the candy before anyone could catch us.

Because of my defiant behavior around food, I took a different approach with Hunter.  I never told him “you have to eat your veggies” or “no dessert until you eat your broccoli.”  I knew that if I forced Hunter to eat the foods I wanted him to eat, or restricted him from eating the foods he wanted to eat, one day he would rebel – just like I did.  Instead, I chose to educate him so he could make informed decisions, even when I’m not around.

I armed him with knowledge

and gave him the freedom to make his own choices.

I encouraged Hunter to walk beside me on our journey by creating an environment that promotes “healthy” living, but doesn’t demand it.  I modeled the behaviors I wanted him to follow and stood for the principles I hoped he would adopt.  By allowing him to opt-in to the lifestyle I was trying to create, Hunter felt empowered.  He could exercise his right to choose his own path:

He decided what constitutes “healthy” food.

       He chose to align himself with my dietary principles.

My approach is not perfect.  It takes effort, time, and won’t work for everyone.  But, so far, it’s working for us.  For example, I used to worry that Hunter would make “bad” choices when I’m not around or that he would cave into peer pressure.  But, then I saw him turn down a cookie in front of his entire class, and he didn’t know I was there.  Plus, Hunter is surrounded by “unhealthy” foods every day – at grocery stores, restaurants, church, class, and birthday parties – and he hasn’t caved into the temptation.  In fact, Hunter is challenged with tempting foods every day in our own home.

 Most of our kitchen pantry contains the foods Hunter and I eat – foods that are aligned with our principles.  But, roughly a third of our pantry looks like an organic version of the typical American diet, including: cookies, chips, pizza, toaster pastries, and cereals containing synthetic chemicals.  There are also candies containing dyes and artificial ingredients.  That food belongs to my husband, whose diet is almost the exact opposite of Hunter’s diet, and mine.  And, that’s okay.  That’s his choice.  In fact, my husband’s diet has provided an excellent learning opportunity for Hunter.

 We don’t have to agree on which foods are “healthy.”

We love Hunter’s determination to stand by his principles and safeguard his right to real, wholesome eats! Discover your principles and stand by them.

By encouraging Hunter to discover his principles and teaching him to stand by them, he developed great resolve.  Hunter can be surrounded by “unhealthy” foods in our own home and not cave into the temptation, even at the age of seven.  He knows what’s in those foods.  He has decided they are not aligned with his principles.  So, he doesn’t eat them.  In fact, when my 3-year old son wants to “eat the food that Daddy eats,” Hunter teaches him why he believes those foods aren’t good for his body.

 Hunter’s perspective on food and his desire to stay true to his principles didn’t happen over night.  It took work and patience.  We still occasionally have challenging moments.  That’s when I practice grace by changing my approach to meet Hunter where he’s at, and I remind myself of the goal: To create an environment that fosters “healthy” living while allowing Hunter the freedom to discover his own path.

 The journey looks different for every family.  Here are a few strategies that have worked for us:

I model the lifestyle I want him to follow.

I set an example by eating the way I want him to eat.  I still have issues with sugar, so I occasionally eat too many cookies and feel sick to my stomach.  When that happens, I acknowledge my mistake and demonstrate grace in front of Hunter.

I value relationships above food.

Food is no longer the center of our holidays.  Instead, we focus on the meaning of the day.  For example, on Thanksgiving, our family practices gratitude by participating in a service project.  Then, I cook a simple, traditional meal of fish that takes no longer to prepare than a non-holiday meal.  Since I’m not exhausted from spending hours in the kitchen, I’m able to spend quality time with my family.

During the school year, I host “Simple Gatherings” for Hunter’s friends, which are kid’s holiday parties without food.  We focus on games, crafts, and enjoying our time together.  His friends love the parties and have never complained that there is no food.

I tell him the truth.

I teach Hunter about what’s in our food, how it got there, how our bodies process that food, how food can lead to disease, and how food can heal our bodies from disease.  I explain the information at an adult level, but I use analogies that Hunter relates to.  For example, Hunter recently told me he didn’t want to eat a second cookie because sugar “helps the bad guys win.”  He’s referring to sugar feeding the “bad” bacteria in his gut, which can lead to gut dysbiosis and inflammation.

Importantly, I never speak to Hunter from a place of fear.  Even when I was battling an autoimmune disease, I told him that God would heal my body – and He did.  I tell Hunter the truth, as I see it, while focusing on hope and positivity.

I invite “experts” into our home.

I routinely listen to free on-line health summits in our home.  They keep me up-to-date in my field.  But, they also teach Hunter about health and wellness.  He doesn’t sit down and listen to the summits, but Hunter does absorb bits of information as the summits play in the background.  Having “experts” in our home also helps reinforce the concepts that I’m teaching him – even though I have a Ph.D. in Nutrition, to Hunter I’m “just Mom.”

I encourage him to play in the kitchen: In an effort to help him connect with our food, I encourage Hunter to cook with me.  I teach him how to follow recipes, but I also provide space for him to make his own creations.  Experimenting with food has expanded his creativity and motivated him to continue cooking.

Our cooking sessions are also when I share stories about our food, such as: where our food comes from, why I choose to eat certain foods and avoid others, and how to listen to your body to figure out your individual needs.

We play with our food.

I often make pictures with Hunter’s food.  Yesterday, I drew a happy face using blueberries for the eyes, hummus for the nose and carrot strips for the mouth.  It’s simple, only takes a few seconds, and it engages Hunter in the meal.

We hunt for food together

Hunter flips through cookbooks and picks recipes for us to try.  He also helps plan our meals for the week, and he selects our produce at the supermarket.  Currently, he is learning to pack his own snacks and lunches.

I don’t deprive him

When Hunter wants a cookie, he eats one.  He used to go over-board with sugar.  But, now that he’s grounded in his principles, he self regulates – usually stopping at one or two cookies.

I also keep homemade desserts in the freezer that are aligned with his principles.  So, when he’s invited to a birthday party, instead of feeling left out, he can celebrate with the other children while eating a treat that he feels good about.

I don’t use food as a reward

I don’t want Hunter to associate food with love, like I do, so we don’t use food as a reward (or a punishment).  Instead, I reward with affection and praise.

I expose him to “bad” foods

When trying to eat “healthy,” it’s commonly recommended to throw out the junk food in your home to avoid temptation.  As previously mentioned, we intentionally surround Hunter with junk food.  For example, even though nobody eats it, we keep last years Halloween candy in the pantry.  Hunter has never asked to eat it, and has never tried to sneak it.  In fact, he conducts experiments with the candy, which help him learn about the chemicals they contain.

I gave him ownership

When Hunter learned about the hidden chemicals in our food that can make us sick, he wanted to help other kids by providing “healthier” alternatives.  So, he created his own dessert line, Rattlesnake Treats: Take the Bite Out of Sweets.  Hunter’s goal was to give kids a choice: “We can eat treats that have hidden chemicals, or we can eat the foods God gave us.”

I guided Hunter as he developed his business, but the project was created and driven by him.  He decided to launch his product line at a Homeschool Entrepreneur’s Fair.  Then, he sold his treats at a local event featuring Sandy Rios and Congressman Dave Brat.  Afterwards, he decided to package his product line into an electronic cookbook, Rattlesnake Treats, and sell it online.  He included product comparisons that we developed together, which were a critical tool in his understanding of the chemicals that exist in common candies and desserts.  And, now he’s developing a cooking class for kids called Candy Chemistry.

 Giving Hunter ownership of his dietary principles, food choices, and business was scary.  What if it backfired?  What if he chose to eat junk food all day?  The doubts and fears seemed endless.  But, I’m glad I took the risk and kept the faith because it was one of the best decisions I have made.  Over the past couple of years, Hunter has flourished.  He used to be shy and insecure, but now he’s comfortable and confident being himself.  He’s happy.

And, I have peace of mind knowing I don’t need to worry that Hunter will make “bad” choices or that he’ll sneak down stairs and steal licks of sugar from the sugar jar.  I trust Hunter and he trusts me.  Both of us know that we’re not perfect.  We both will make mistakes.  And, when we do, we’ll practice grace by standing for one of our life principles:

 Love over fear.

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Summer Digestion Made Simple

Article provided byClaire Morris, ND  Dr. Claire Morris, ND is a Doctor of Naturopathy, Master Herbalist & Certified Natural Health Practitioner.  She is highly passionate about helping others regain health freedom, vitality and abundance using nutrition and gentle, non-invasive, natural remedies.

Perhaps you’ve noticed your digestion causing discomfort, especially in the summer.  There are a number of reasons for this and a few simple suggestions to alleviate the symptoms.

Articles concerning what and why summer heartburn happens are in abundance.  Some believe there are eight foods that trigger the acid response.  Others believe taking over-the-counter pharmaceuticals is a solution.  In case you were curious about the eight foods, they are: hotdogs, cheeseburgers, baked beans, lemonade, ice cream, corn on the cob, BBQ Ribs, and iced coffee.  While those may cause some stomach distress, because of the extra fat content and spices, I would like to offer another consideration.

In the winter months it is common to consume more of the “meat and potato” type diet, which is not a bad combination, when it comes to digestion in the stomach.  When summer arrives, we begin to eat more fresh and raw produce, along with the meat and potatoes.  This is when the trouble begins.

Food combining is a practiced form of chemistry, balancing acids and bases that can neutralize each other.  The food combining diet can be particularly useful for individuals that suffer from acid reflux or chronic indigestion.  Because stomach stress is relieved by this form of eating, often weight loss and health will follow.  Some people begin to notice a difference almost immediately.

Here are a few tips to put good food combining practices to use in your household this summer:

  • Melons should ALWAYS be eaten alone!  Melons are a summer fruit which break down quickly, in as little as twenty minutes.  So wait at least that amount of time before consuming any other food.
  • Liquids should be taken separately, as well.  This includes water.  There are some conflicting opinions on this point as it is believed that consuming too much water with a meal dilutes stomach acid, impeding digestion.  I suggest drinking only enough to wash the food down.
  • Fruit, in general, should be consumed on their own.  Some believe morning to be the best time to consume these as it is the time when the body is already cleansing and eliminating.
  • Proteins (beans, nuts, seeds, meat, fish, poultry) should be eaten separately from starches (at different meals) but vegetables may be combined with both proteins and starches.  Potatoes are considered a vegetable, not a starch, for combining purposes.  Stomach acid is required for digestion of proteins, and if starches are combined with the proteins, the digestive environment is neither acid nor alkaline enough for either food group to be absorbed well.
  • Starches are, usually, digested well when consumed alone or with vegetables.

Perhaps, you’ve noticed when you combine certain foods, it causes tummy trouble.  In our culture it’s not as common to think we have too much acid when we actually have too little.  When there is not enough digestive acid, the foods break down differently and cause gas which pushes into the esophagus, burning and resulting in belching and inflammation.  Sugars break down more quickly than proteins, so, save that dessert for a couple of hours later.

If this doesn’t’ appeal, (which I think it is at least worth trying), consider digestive enzymes before reaching for the acid blockers.  This also good if you’ve eaten too much and need relief.

Here’s to a well digested summer… Enjoy!

Article originally published 6/25/2013 & republished 7/11/2016

Say “Goodbye” to Summer Pests Naturally

Article provided byClaire Morris, ND  Dr. Claire Morris, ND is a Doctor of Naturopathy, Master Herbalist & Certified Natural Health Practitioner.  She is highly passionate about helping others regain health freedom, vitality and abundance using nutrition and gentle, non-invasive, natural remedies.

You know the ones…fleas and mosquitoes, makes me itch just thinking about them.

Theses tiny insects are great disease carriers.  The diseases include bubonic plague, murine typhus, tapeworms, flea allergy dermatitis, denque fever, yellow fever, viral hemorrhagic fevers, West Nile virus, helminthiasis (filariasis worm), viral encephalitis (brain inflammation).  …and you thought they were just terribly annoying.

Have you ever noticed how they are attracted to some more than others?  This attraction is caused by individual chemistry.  If they like yours, look out!

Commercial insect repellents may be effective but use some toxins that cause sensitivity.  If you are looking for natural alternatives there are a few you should be aware of.  Caring for yourself and your pets inside and out are important.

Internally it is important for humans and animals to consume plenty of B vitamins.  These are found in unprocessed whole grains, liver and brewer’s or nutritional yeast.  Specific B vitamins are found in a variety of foods, amazingly they are all found in the brewer’s yeast.  {On a personal note, my parents forced my sister and me to take brewer’s yeast as children and to this day mosquitoes and fleas do not like us.}  Keep in mind it may take up to six weeks for the effectiveness to reach its peak and some may need more than others.

Externally, the natural ingredients usually include citronella oil, lemon eucalyptus oil, cinnamon oil and castor oil.  These essential oils are mosquito deterrents.  They can be mixed with carrier oils or food grade alcohols.  To make, just mix the essential oil with the carrier base to dilute.  Essential oils are potent, so use the motto “less is more” to prevent irritation.

Citronella oil is good to use around your door way and on pets.  Mix 1oz. citronella oil with 1 cup of yellow colored lemon dish soap and 32 oz. of yellow mouthwash.  Mix in a spray bottle and use as needed.

Fleas are more complex as they have the advantage of burying and hiding.  Extreme cleanliness is important to eliminate infestation or re-infestation.  While we may get them on our clothing and bring them in, it’s usually our pets get them and become and unwilling host.  Garlic and brewer’s yeast are important to add to their diets.  The rule of thumb is a clove of fresh garlic a day.  This gets rid of the odor and flavor of the skin that attracts fleas.  (Note, too much garlic could become toxic to a pet, whether consumed in large quantities or even in smaller quantities over a longer period of time.  Talk to you veterinarian regarding the use of garlic on your pet and for help determining an acceptable amount based on your pet’s size.)

Citronella, rosemary and wormwood make good herbal rubs and sprays. Using a fresh lemon rinse is another way of repelling fleas.  This can be done daily until the skin heals.  An off the wall solution is diatomaceous earth.  This can be dusted on and rubbed into the animal’s hair for protection.  It will suffocate the flea eggs and larva.  With fleas it is important to stop the life cycle.  It can take up to three months to truly get things under control.

Have a natural pest free year!



Article originally published 5/25/2012 & republished 7/11/2016

Upgrade Your Plate

 By LaTricia Morris, Author, Illustrator, Personal Trainer, Boxing Coach, Integrative Wellness Counselor and Founder of See Kids Thrive & Eden Life Ministries

I, for one, believe you can hardly get enough plant-based goodness.  I’m all about getting crafty in the kitchen and finding all kinds of neat and nifty ways to upgrade any meal.

Sure, I can scour the web for hours on end to get a glimpse of another gal’s kitchen, peeking inside her pantry and thumbing through her recipes.  Still, I find a simple delight in crafting our own family favorites.  While the methods and the options are as endless as the stars or the steady stream of sound effects and interesting discoveries that come with the motherhood-package, there are a few springboards I like to leap from when Momma wants to be creative but really needs to just whip something up and make a meal happen.

Mash ‘em

Grab a fork or potato masher and make some magic with those beans or steam up some cauliflower or your favorite root crop veg and whip it up into a delectable mash with some aromatic herbs and spices.  Seriously, beans coarsely mashed and used in place of chicken and tuna salads will rock your ever-loving world!  Chickpea salads are a favorite go-to in our household and I have a sneaking suspicion they’ll soon be one in yours too!

Mince ‘em

Seriously – it is crazy how ridiculously easy and outlandlishly scrumptious mushrooms, onions, beans, and barley can be when finely chopped or pulsed in a food processor with a little ground flax and made into non-meat-balls and burgers.  You can mix-and-match those veggies ‘til the cows come home (happily, of course, ‘cause it won’t be on the table.  No ma’am – not this time.)  Really though, you’ve hardly lived until you’ve had the chance to savor a perfectly grilled veggie burger topped with avocado, roasted red pepper, red onion and a touch of EVOO.

Bake ‘em

Okay, so, yes, you can bake a potato but that’s not what I’m getting at here.  What I mean is for you to take those fruit, veggie and bean purees and use them in place of oils and liquids in recipes for anything from breads to cookies to snack bars.

Blend ‘em

Pasta sauce is a sneaky mom’s best friend.  It is a perfect vehicle for disguising vegetables.  Just remember your color wheel here, people.  Red and green make brown and a bust.  I mean, sure, it’ll taste good but too much broc in the pasta sauce and the jig is up, my friend!

Try cauliflower, cannellini beans or navy beans in white sauces such as alfredo or a primavera.  These work really well when making cream bases for pot pies and other creamy dishes.  Just puree your beans in your broth and viola!  They’ll never know and ever grow all the healthier for it.

Pumpkin and sweet peppers blend seamlessly into red sauces and if you happen to have a family that digs on pesto, you are in great luck with the perfect place to stash broccoli, spinach and peas!

Chop ’em

I’ve found that even when it looks like you’ve straight confettied the plate, most kids don’t mind the fruits and veggies so much where they’ve been finely chopped and added to their favorite dishes such as pizzas, pastas, sandwiches, burgers, wraps, tacos, or, of course, most anything dippable.  Chopped vegetables also make a great add-in if you like making your own homemade breads.  Just fold in some grated onion or finely chopped olives to add a unique taste and upgrade that loaf at the same time.

Wrap ‘em

Come on.  Everything is better in a wrap, right?  You’re not fooling anybody.  You get excited for a good wrap too, even if you’re subbing out those carbs for one scrumptious leaf’o’lettuce.  Bring a rainbow of color into your favorite wraps, topped with guac, hummus or your favorite dips and sauces.  Remember those bean/chickpea salads we mentioned earlier?  Yeah.  Throw that on your wrap with some slices of red pepper, fresh sprouts, chunks of roasted garlic or some savory olives for easy wraps fit for a queen.

Roast ‘em

I’ve hardly met a roasted veg I didn’t like and how easy can you get, right?  Oven – 425°.  Produce – sliced.  Sea salt + extra virgin olive or coconut oil + spices/herbs of choice.  25-35 minutes later the whole family is swarming the kitchen, poppin’ ‘em left and right.

Yeah, it’s all fun and games until the family sits down for dinner to realize they already ate it all from the stove top.  Well… what can we say?  Food happens and it’s a beautiful thing.

So, how about you?  What are your favorite ways with food?  What methods do you use as a jumping point to create your own culinary classics?

5 Ways to Turn Your Body into a Calorie Inferno

Article by LaTricia Morris, Author and Illustrator of The Good, The Bad & The Broccoli and It Came from the Cupboard, Founder of See Kids Thrive and Eden Life Ministries, Certified Integrative Wellness Counselor, Personal Trainer & Boxing Coach.

Ever wonder how some people seem to hop in the gym today only to be ripped weeks later?  (okay, so that might be a slight exaggeration but let’s face it, it’s just ridiculous how quick some people shed pounds that some of us have to topple mountains to get rid of.)

If you’re thinking it’s all in their genes, stop.  While genetics can play a great role in tendencies to retain or shed excess weight, there are ways you can biohack your own system to get that metabolism revved and ready to blast those pesky pounds and inches.

Biohack your health and wellness efforts by applying a little S.P.E.E.D.


In a 2007 research review, Knutson et al. found that chronic partial sleep loss could increase the risk of obesity and diabetes via dysregulation of glucose metabolism (i.e., insulin resistance) and altered neuroendocrine control of appetite resulting in excessive food intake and decreased energy expenditure.

The average adult needs between 7.5 and 8 hours of quality sleep each night. This can vary based on health status and additional needs for recovery, such as during periods of intense training or recovery from injuries.

PSYCHOLOGICAL STRESSstress-reduction-bang-head-here_u-L-F59O3O0

Stress adaptation requires a coordinated series of responses mediated through the hypothalamus-pituitary-axis (HPA) and sympathetic nervous system, which act to maintain homeostasis and protect against chronic diseases.

Chronic hyperactivation of the HPA axis (which can occur with things like low calorie dieting) has been linked to visceral fat deposition, insulin resistance, impaired glucose tolerance, altered lipid profiles, and coronary artery disease. Chronic stress can also lead to increased food intake, as well as relapses and overeating after weight loss has been achieved by dieting.


Image result for tower gardens
FINALLY! A low maintenance home garden without the time or work of a garden!

There are hundreds of synthetic chemicals currently used for agricultural and industrial applications that are leading to widespread environmental contamination. These include antimicrobials, pesticides/herbicides, plasticizers and flame retardants. These endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) can disrupt hormonal balance and result in developmental and reproductive abnormalities. In addition, some studies link EDC exposure to obesity, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes.  The Environmental Working Group has a list of the “dirty dozen” endocrine disruptors and an app that identifies these toxic ingredients in cosmetics and other personal-care items.

Limit exposure to EDCs by avoiding chemical laden products and choosing organic when it comes to produce and hygiene products (if you shouldn’t put it in your mouth, you shouldn’t put it on your skin) which are highly sprayed and animals that are fed conventional feed.


Take the path of most resistance to drive your metabolism through the roof!

Muscle burns a lot of energy.  The greater the muscle mass, the higher the caloric expenditure in every move you make.  Yes, EVERY move, from walking to the car, coming up the stairs, hitting the track or hitting your best friend – more muscle to move demands the body lend greater energy to produce the movement.

The most effective tool for increasing or maintaining lean body mass (LBM) is resistance training.  Maintaining or increasing LBM is essential for a healthy metabolism. It also reduces the tendency to regain weight and is important for maintaining adequate body function with aging.

Resistance exercise has the potential to improve metabolic disorders and reduce the need for medications associated with being overweight (e.g., diabetes and hypertension). It can also reduce abdominal adiposity and biomarkers for cardiovascular disease.


There are a number of ways to biohack your diet to increase your metabolism. While there are a plethora of diets and trends out there, the best approach, as has remained true for THOUSANDS of years, is to enjoy a diet founded on whole food principles.  Many trend diets only continue to prove very harmful to the body, no matter how much better people feel at their onset.  You really don’t need any one of them.  Many experts would simplify it by saying “eat a little bit of everything but not too much of anything.”

Eating a diet comprised of whole foods, eliminating anything processed or refined, helps to restore the body’s natural mechanisms to regulate energy, appetite, weight, hormonal balance and so much more!  As you work to get back to a sound and simple foundation of high quality foods, you can work to fine-tune your diet based on what works best for you (i.e., maybe less dairy or more nuts/seeds…)

Don’t Leave Your Health to Chance. Bridge the Gap between the fruits and vegetables you should be getting and the ones you actually are. CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE.

Some added dietary biohack tips include:

Don’t cut too many calories

When you eat less than you need for basic biological functions (roughly 1,200 calories for the average adult), your body adjusts by slowing your metabolism down. In addition, it can elevate cortisol levels, which leads to the breakdown of lean body mass to meet energy needs, and cravings for fat and sugary foods. Low calorie diets also run the risk of micronutrient deficiencies over time.  Limit caloric deficits to no more than 500 cal/day shy of your baseline for sustainable weightloss.  Diets consisting of less than 1200 cal/day should only be implemented under the close supervision of your healthcare provider.

Consuming enough calories is critical in keeping your metabolism up and giving you the energy needed to press through those awesome workouts (which happen to rev your calorie burn all the more).

Don’t forget the fiber

Plant-based diets that are inherently high in fiber can increase fat burning. Colorful vegetables and fruits also have numerous phytonutrients, which can reduce inflammation, resulting in better health and the prevention of many diseases.  The CDC states that only about 1 in 10 Americans are getting enough fruits and vegetables.  They further state, “Seven of the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States are from chronic diseases. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables daily can help reduce the risk of many leading causes of illness and death, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, and obesity.

Think you have no time for nutrition?   Make your day Complete with grab’n’go goodness! Non-GMO – Vegan – Low Fat – No Cholesterol – No Artificial Flavoring – No Coloring – No preservatives – No Wheat, Dairy or Eggs – No Added Caffeine or Herb

Current recommendations say we should be eating 7-13 servings of fruits and vegetables a day (16-18 for athletic types).  In other words: EAT YOUR PLANTS!

Hydrate or Die

A German study found that drinking 500 ml of water increased metabolic rate by 30%. The study concluded that drinking 2 liters of water per day would enhance energy expenditure and that the thermogenic effect of water should be considered in weight loss programs.  Adequate hydration is necessary for a number of functions, including supporting proper detoxification and elimination, and supporting higher energy levels.  You should be drinking AT LEAST half your body weight in ounces (ex: 150 lb person should drink a min. of 75 ounces).  Increase water intake with exertion, consumption of diuretics (coffee, tea, etc.), high sugar/carbohydrate/salty foods or prescription medications, all of which can dehydrate the body.

Eat more organic foods

Researchers report that dieters who consume foods with the most organochlorines (chemicals from pesticides which are stored in fat cells) experience a greater than normal dip in metabolism because the toxins interfere with the energy-burning process. Other research hints that pesticides disrupts the gut biome and can trigger weight gain. Choose organic in place of highly sprayed foods whenever possible.

Don’t Skip the Fats

Finally, a totally plant-based Omega Blend offering the perfect balance of omega 3, 5, 6, 7 and 9 fatty acids, containing DHA, EPA and ALA, derived from fruits, algae and seed oils.

Recommendations for “low-fat” are archaic at best.  Research has found that not only does a low-fat diet NOT result in weight loss or improved heart health, it runs the risk of doing far greater harm than good, including contributing to an increase in overall calorie consumption.

We need fat for hormone production, lubrication of the joints, neurological function, nutrient assimilation and more.  A healthy diet consists of 20-35% fats from quality sources.  Avoid margarine and other refined or hydrogenated oils, limit saturated fats (the long-chain fatty acids found in animal products NOT so much the medium-chain fatty acids as found in coconut).  Be sure to include foods such as flaxseeds, avocados, nuts and seeds which also come with fiber and protein, helping to increase satiety while supporting better overall health.

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Eat some bugs.

A diet high in fruits and vegetables helps to create a favorable gut biome which has been found to have a direct relation to weight and metabolic functions. Make sure to include prebiotics and probiotics into your daily diet. Supplementing with a probiotic is also a good strategy to support a healthy body.

Biohacking your metabolism isn’t rocket science, it just takes a little S P E E D.

How about you?  What are your favorite takeaways and where do you get your “competitive edge” over your health and fitness endeavors?

Healthfully Yours,






Center of Disease Control and Prevention, Only 1 in 10 Adults Get Enough Fruits or Vegetables, November 16, 2017

Borsheim, E., Barh, R. Effect of Exercise Intensity, Duration and Mode on Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption. Sports Med 2003;33 (14): 1037-1060.

Boschmann M, Steiniger J, Hille U, Tank J, Adams F, Sharma AM, Klaus S, Luft FC, Jordan J. Water-induced thermogenesis. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2003 Dec;88(12):6015-9.

Casals-Casas C, Desvergne B. Endocrine disruptors: from endocrine to metabolic disruption. Annu Rev Physiol. 2011;73:135-62.

Chen KY, Brychta RJ, Linderman JD, Smith S, Courville A, Dieckmann W, Herscovitch P, Millo CM, Remaley A, Lee P, Celi FS. Brown fat activation mediates cold-induced thermogenesis in adult humans in response to a mild decrease in ambient temperature. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2013 Jul;98(7).

Dulloo AG, Geissler CA, Horton T, Collins A, Miller DS. Normal caffeine consumption: influence on thermogenesis and daily energy expenditure in lean and postobese human volunteers. Am J Clin Nutr. 1989 Jan;49(1):44-50.

Gupta, C., Prakash, D. Phytonutrients as therapeutic agents. Journal of Complementary & Integrative Medicine Sep 2014, Vol. 11 Issue 3, p151.

Howarth NC, Saltzman E, Roberts SB. Dietary fiber and weight regulation. Nutr Rev. 2001 May;59(5):129-39.

Hursel, R.; Viechtbauer, W.; Westerterp-Plantenga, M. S. The effects of green tea on weight loss and weight maintenance: a meta-analysis. International Journal of Obesity. Sep2009, Vol. 33 Issue 9, p956-961.

Jabekk, P, Moe, I., Meen, H., Tomten, S., Hostmarl, A. Resistance training in overweight women on a ketogenic diet conserved lean body mass while reducing body fat. Nutrition & Metabolism 2010, 7:17.

Knutson, K., Spiegel, K, Penev, P., Van Cauter, E. The Metabolic Consequences of Sleep Deprivation. Sleep Med Rev. Jun 2007; 11(3): 163–178.

Paddon-Jones, E., Westman, E., Mattes, R., Wolfe, R., Astrup. A., Westerterp-Pantenga, M. Protein, weight management, and satiety. Am J Clin Nutr May 2008 vol. 87 no. 5 1558S-1561S.

Redman LM, Heilbronn LK, Martin CK, de Jonge L, Williamson DA, Delany JP, Ravussin E; Pennington CALERIE Team. Metabolic and behavioral compensations in response to caloric restriction: implications for the maintenance of weight loss. PLoS One. 2009;4(2):e4377.

Tomiyama AJ, Mann T, Vinas D, Hunger JM, Dejager J, Taylor SE. Low calorie dieting increases cortisol. Psychosom Med. 2010 May;72(4):357-64.

Vicennati V., Pasqui, F., Cavazza, C., Pagotto., U., Pasquali, R. Stress-Related Development of Obesity and Cortisol in Women. Obesity (Sept. 2009): Vol. 17, No. 9, pp. 1678–83.

Wein, Harrison, PhD. “Gut Bacteria May Influence Metabolic Syndrome – NIH Research Matters – National Institutes of Health (NIH).” U.S National Library of Medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 15 Mar. 2010. Web. 12 Dec. 2014. <http://www.nih.gov/researchmatters/march2010/03152010bacteria.htm&gt;.

Geoff Lecovin, How to Biohack Your Metabolism.  National Academy of Sports Medicine.  December 19, 2014

How Time-Strapped Goal-Diggers are Crushing Their Health & Fitness Goals

Article by LaTricia Morris, Author and Illustrator of The Good, The Bad & The Broccoli and It Came from the Cupboard, Founder of See Kids Thrive and Eden Life Ministries, Certified Integrative Wellness Counselor and Personal Trainer. 

Overwhelmed?  Overloaded?  Running nothing but a gauntlet?

You’re not alone!

This seems to be the anthem of the average American adult.  Between work, family, volunteer work, and all the other tidbits that pile on our calendars, having a shower and a cup of coffee in the same morning can ring with great triumph.  With so many things demanding of our time, how on earth could we possibly add fitness and food prep on top of it all?

The reality is, with all that’s weighing on you, and for all those counting on you, you can’t afford to not make nutrition and fitness a greater priority in your life!

Deep down, I think you know that and I’m quite certain that’s why the header on this article peaked your interest – because you know it’s critical and you’re daring enough to believe it also possible.

So, how do other time-strapped goal-diggers pull it off?  Glad you asked…

  1. They value opportunities presented throughout the day.

Research supports our need to get at least 30 minutes of exercise daily.  However, that doesn’t have to be all at one time and you should not underestimate the value of added movement throughout the day.  Skipping the elevator to take the stairs, parking at the back of the lot, or keeping a set of weights in the garage to remind you to crank out a set getting into or out of your car are all ways you can stack fitness efforts throughout the day.


  1. They know when to double-time it.
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Any goal-crusher LOVES a good opportunity to crush two birds with one stone (metaphorically speaking, of course.  No bird-pelting going on here.  …sweet little birdies…).

Yes, I totally planked my way through my kitchen as I hand wiped my floors instead of mopping just hours ago.  Which brings me to this point:  in fitness, remember, you don’t have to gym up for every fitness activity.  Look for fun ways to incorporate added movement into even simple tasks.  Waiting for the coffee to brew?  Knock out a set of squats.  Got some reading to do?  Get to walking while you read.  (Environment permitting, of course.  Please, don’t let it be my fault you were walking and reading only to step on a lego or walk off a cliff.)  Speed walk your errands or hot step it up the stairs, ditch the shopping cart in favor of carrying the basket, or make cleaning your house fun and challenging by layering in fitness moves – lunges in reaches, squats when cleaning the low stuff, and plank holds when working floor level.  Get creative and have fun with it!

When it comes to food, thinking just a little bit ahead can make a HUGE difference in a week’s worth of eats.  Even if you don’t do a full afternoon of meal prep, look for ways to double time it in your kitchen.  Example:  When making slower-to-cook grains like brown rice, I like to make 2-3 times what I’ll need so I can stash the rest in the fridge or freezer for quick meals through the week, like a healthful veggie fried rice, beans’n’rice with sautéed onion, or a quick and easy mixed veggie pilaf.

Time-Strapped Copy (2) copy

  1. They know a worthy time-saver when they see one.

“Fast foods” are a no-go for this group but every once in a while, it’s worth it to have someone help with all that peeling and chopping.  With the rapidly growing demand for fresh foods in the marketplace, more businesses are looking for ways to help patrons bridge the gaps between time, money and a need for incredibly scrumptious (but healthier) foods.  Stores like Whole Foods stock plenty of fresh pressed, raw juices and pre-cut produce to allow you to shave that added time off your meal prep.  While I am ABSOLUTELY all for watching the budget and knowing that “freshest is bestest,” I also see the need to regularly make some real assessments when weighing value.  If it’s affordable to do so, and it enables you to make healthy eating a reality in your household, it’s certainly better money spent than an money saved on cheaper but less healthful defaults.

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FINALLY! A low maintenance home garden without the time or work of a garden!
  1. They get in and get it done.

We were all excited to find out that we could actually reap incredible benefits of exercise in just 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week of exercise.  We were even more stoked to learn that even in those crazy, totally time-crunched weeks, we could reap many of those fitness benefits by cranking up our efforts and going full throttle for 75 minutes per week (25 minute sessions, 3 days a week at high intensity).

Even when the to-do list seems to be getting out of hand, that quick break to get that heart rate up and get that body moving may give you just the boost you need to power through everything else on your list.


  1. They don’t leave it to chance.

Health isn’t happenstance.  It’s not the sort of thing we just kindly “get around to” when everything else in our lives makes room for it.  Oh, if you could but get your hands on the calendar of a true goal-digger!  This crew doesn’t wait for it to become convenient.  Because they recognize the significance of it getting done, they plan to do it.  Schedule – Execute – Repeat.  Food and fitness efforts go on the calendar as non-negotiable as anything else.  This isn’t to add another rigid layer to life.  They recognize that having a dedicated time to focus on these areas frees them to be more productive in every other area as they can better focus  in the now and enjoy the time being invested today to make every day to follow incredibly better.livelife.jpg

Truth is, for the grand majority of Americans struggling in their health today, it’s simply a matter of priority (that goes for our time, finances and every other resource we have access to).  If we have time to regularly watch a TV show but “no time” to get in that half hour of exercise…  you fill in that gap.  Wishing and hoping don’t get results.  Successful goal-getters recognize the GREAT value in carving out time in their calendars to invest in health and wellness efforts, not because it’s convenient but because it’s important.

  1. They Close the Gap

As much as we all try so hard to get it right, the reality is, we just don’t nail it all the time.  There are days when they meant to have 13 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables and instead, they had a 12 inch sub, a bag of chips and a cookie instead (not that you would fall for such things).  It’s helpful to know we have ways to bridge those nutritional gaps.  Look for ways to add in extra fruits and vegetables throughout the day!  Grab a green vegetable, stash a Complete shake to have on hand and look for ways to upgrade your plate.  In a “bigger is always better” culture, it’s refreshing to know that all those small daily investments stack up and payback in dividends over time.

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They see the line between an investment and an expense.

In line with points 3 & 6, people really on a mission in their health tend to be better with making strong distinctions between an expense and an investment.  Here’s the reality:  Fast food and processed foods are an expense that will keep costing you well beyond the meal.  Healthful foods and quality supplements that help to meet your family’s nutritional needs is an incredible investment that pays off for a lifetime.  The investments you make now in your family’s fitness and nutrition efforts will continue to pay back in spades in terms of finances (you may spend more now but you save so much on medical bills not accrued in the future) and quality of life.  Whether it’s buying more organic, taking the leap and getting JuicePlus+ for your family, or going for that gym membership, these are all very worthy investments you’ll never regret making!

Finally, a totally plant-based Omega Blend offering the perfect balance of omega 3, 5, 6, 7 and 9 fatty acids, containing DHA, EPA and ALA, derived from fruits, algae and seed oils. 

In other words, investing more heavily into healthier foods and things that will support your efforts to eat better and move more ARE NOT A THREAT to your financial future, they are a fortress for it, protecting your finances in the future and your capacity to flourish in every other area of life.  Whether it’s buying more organic or going for that gym membership, these are all very worthy investments you’ll never regret making!

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So, what’s standing in your way?  The success of your health and wellness goals is in your hands.  All that’s left is to decide – to crush or not to crush?

Healthfully Yours,


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Post-Workout Recovery Fails and What to Do Instead

Article by LaTricia Morris, Author and Illustrator of The Good, The Bad & The Broccoli and It Came from the CupboardFounder of See Kids Thrive and Eden Life MinistriesCertified Integrative Wellness Counselor and NASM Personal Trainer

Some of the things we put ourselves through on our journey to get fit can be downright borderline insanity but, as we see those results (not just in slimming down but in overall improvements), we’re reminded why it was all worth it.  Yet, how frustrating is it to put in all that work and it still seem like we’re spinning our tires?

While progress (especially the real and lasting kind) does take some time, there are some things we can and should be mindful of so as to not sabotage our own efforts.  In accomplishing any goal, it is key to see not only the steps we need to take to make our way toward the end goal but to also see things that may be working in opposition to our health and wellness goals.  Below are some I see all too often and what you can do to be sure these hurdles don’t hinder you.

Not Eating at AllAdobe Spark

Especially where weight loss is an aim, it can be tempting to just skip eating altogether right after a workout to ride out that post-workout burn.  While that can seem like a good plan, it could actually do more to hinder your goals in the long term.  When working out, your body relies heavily on the glycogen it has stored in the liver and muscles tissues to supply the energy it needs to complete what’s being asked of it.  The longer you workout, the more glycogen stores get depleted.  Now, as these reserves run out, the body can and will work to convert fat to usable energy.  However, because of the work it must do to convert that fat to usable energy, performance tends to be compromised, triggering a cycle that ultimately leads to exhaustion and failure.

Image result for JuicePlus

 1.5 g carbohydrates/kg body weight within 30 minutes post-exercise is recommended for maximum glycogen replenishment(1).  Delaying carbohydrate intake by even 2 hours can decrease total muscle glycogen synthesis by 66% (2).  The post-workout environment may hasten glycogen repletion as a result of increased blood flow to the muscles and an increased sensitivity of the cells to the effects of insulin.(3)

Waiting to refuel until your starving is a good way to drive yourself to overeat (which we justify because, you know, we worked out).  Helping the body replenish its reserves immediately after exercise is a good way to avoid a ravenous binge, and prepare your body to bring it even better (burning even more calories and building even more muscle) the next time you step to the gym.

Craving carbohydrates post-workout is totally normal.  Having sensible amounts to meet these demands is a pro recovery move.

Reaching to “Reward” Rather Than to Restore

Adobe Spark

I can’t tell you how often I hear people at the gym, talking about how much they look forward to getting their hands in that cookie jar or having a face-full of cake straight after the gym as the “reward” for all their hard work.  My question is, why do that to yourself?

For starters, and studies back me up on this, we shouldn’t be looking to a “reward” system to keep us on track anyway.  Studies show that people are significantly less likely to engage in an activity for which they’d normally get a “reward” once the “reward” is taken away.  Example: children who were rewarded for art were significantly less likely do it simply for the sake of doing it whereas children who were offered no reward were more likely to continue to participate over the long haul, simply for the enjoyment of the activity.

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The thought pattern that this caters too is “working out sucks and I should be rewarded for doing it at all.”  Your workout and that great post-workout feeling should be the reward in itself.  Even where it can be painful, even downright gruesome at times, count it all joy.  It is a GIFT to be able to be active, to participate in such challenging activities and to know you’re getting stronger, fitter, and faster by the day.  

Instead of spending your workout pondering how much you hate it and on what you’ll “get to” have on the other side of it, try redirecting your focus to thoughts of gratitude and even excitement at the progress you know you’re going to make as you bring your best effort every time.  Pick a key scripture or positive affirmation to focus in on and let that saturate your mind as you work to be the healthiest version of yourself possible.

Another problem with this habit really is that not only does reaching for the sweet-eats post-exercise reinforce the negative associations with exercise and the need to follow it up with something to “make it all better” but it also primes the body for defeat.  When you step to that plate, that class, those weights, that track… you are placing a lot of demands on the body.  You’re not just expending energy.  The bones, the muscles, the joints, the lungs, and the heart are all working very hard to produce the work being demanded.

Post-workout recovery is not just a time to restore glycogen levels (to get that blood sugar back up) but also a time to provide the body with the raw materials it needs to restore the body and help it to rebuild itself with greater strength.  You cannot expect the body to be of superior construction with sub-par materials.  Consuming sugary/processed foods and neglecting to restore nutrient levels is a quick way to run the body ragged, leading to burnout.  Be sure you look for top nutritional value in anything you’re looking to incorporate into your post-workout plan.

Neglecting to Prepare the Body Pre-Workout

Adobe Spark

By now, most people understand that the foods they eat after their workout and throughout the day factor into the speed and quality of their recovery. The foods you eat before a workout can also play an important role in preparing for the tissue-rebuilding process once the workout is over.

Digestion is a lengthy process; proteins, fats and carbohydrates that you ingest prior to the workout will still be circulating in the body afterward. For this reason, choose your foods wisely. Make sure you get high-quality, lean protein along with some complex carbohydrates, especially if you plan on an intense workout. Meals should be consumed two-four hours prior to your workout to avoid digestive issues or cramps, or that lag you feel trying to workout while your body is also working to break down the food you just ate.

If you must have something before your workout and don’t have this window to wait, keep it small and opt for things that break down more quickly like bananas or other fruits.  Even better – puree them into a quick smoothie or grab a raw juice.  This will allow for more rapid gastric emptying and make the energy and nutrients available to you sooner.

Protein OverdoseAdobe Spark

We have been fed so much junk over protein, it’s just mind-boggling.

Yes, your body needs proteins as part of its daily needs, especially with post-exercise recovery.

HOWEVER, your body can only do so much so fast.  Excessive amounts of proteins will not help it accomplish this any faster.  This is of special concern with products containing whey protein, and other animal products, as too many animal proteins place a heavy burden on the kidneys, in particular, and the body as a whole, generating much stress and inflammation.

Be real with yourself on what you’re doing and what you need.  20 minutes of yoga does not justify 40 extra grams of protein for the day.  I’ve seen people knock back protein shakes like the shake itself is going to build muscle.  It won’t.  Your body will only build muscle in accordance with the demands being placed on it along with the presence of adequate energy and nutrients.  Consuming more than it needs only prompts the body to use it as fuel or convert it to fat to be used for fuel later.

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Fresh food at your fingertips without the time, space and work of tending a garden.  GO FRESH.  GROW VERTICAL.

Bear in mind, we get amino acids (the building blocks of protein) from everything we eat (at least if you’re eating those nutritious whole foods).  MOST people already consume plenty more than enough to meet their daily needs, even with the added workout.  That’s not to say we don’t need any or that you shouldn’t protein shakes at all.  Just be mindful of the sources, quality and how much you’re consuming.

All that being said, HEALTHY shakes and smoothies can be GREAT post-workout recovery options, especially because being in a liquid form makes it easier for the body to assimilate.  Just make sure the focus in on maximal nutrition, looking at the body’s needs as a whole, beyond simple protein intake.

My favorite here (shameless plug, yes, because it tastes fantastic and has so much to offer and happens to be my personal favorite) are JuicePlus+’s Complete Shakes.juice-plus--complete-variety.img  They blend down smooth, even in a shaker (SO unlike so many other brands), they’re so delicious my kids request them for dessert though they’re not loaded with sugar, they’re plant-based and they incorporate all sorts of superfood extras to further help you in your efforts to become the healthiest version of yourself possible.

Getting Too “Radical” for Your Own Good

Your awesome.  I get it.  You get it.  Everybody gets it.  While I love that you have no qualms with being so totally radical, you might want to watch how much free-radical action you’re generating during those killer workouts.  (I know.  Totally cheesy but you’ll thank me for being so ridiculous when you ponder this later.)

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The body produces many free radicals daily but generates even more of them during intense exercise.  Free-radical damage is a well-known offender when it comes to generating a lot of inflammation in the body (and many health experts have a saying – “inflammation is the root of all disease”).  In order to combat free radicals, we need to make sure we are taking in plenty of antioxidants, which we get from fresh fruits and vegetables.

Making it a point to include some raw fruits in our post-recovery grabs is a great way to take in plenty of extra antioxidants packaged with enzymes and nutrient rich water to hydrate and nourish the cells throughout the body.  You certainly get extra credit here for reaching for the raw greens, whether in a juice, smoothie or straight off the fork as they are chock full of phytonutrients to support restoration and vitality to every cell and tissue throughout the body.




(1) Ivy JL, Lee MC, Broznick JT Jr, Reed MJ. Muscle glycogen stor- age a er di erent amounts of carbohydrate ingestion. J Appl Physiol. 1988;65(5):2018-2023.

(2) Liljeberg HG, Akergerg AK, Björck IM. E ect of the glycemic index and content of indigestible carbohydrates of cereal-based breakfast meals on glucose tolerance at lunch in healthy sub- jects. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999;69(4):647-655.

(3) Berning JR, Steen SN. Nutrition for Sport and Exercise. Gaithers- burg, MD: Aspen Publishers; 1998.