Fight Flu Season Naturally

It’s that time of year again…when the dreaded sounds of sneezes, sniffles and coughs fill our homes and work spaces. Before you turn to chemical laden antibacterial hand gel and over-the-counter medications to protect yourself this flu season, take a look at my favorite ways to fight the flu naturally:

Bone broth: Bone broth is one of the most nutritious and healing foods there is.The minerals found in bone broth are in a form our bodies can easily absorb and have been proven to help improve immune function and fight off illness. Check out my blog on bone broth to learn how easy it is to make. You can add it to a recipe or drink it straight- either way it should be a flu season staple!

Thieves Essential Oil Blend: Thieves is a mixture of clove, lemon, rosemary, eucalyptus and cinnamon bark essential oils. This essential oil blend has powerful antiviral, antibiotic, anti-fungal and antiseptic properties making it incredibly effective against the flu virus and other infectious diseases. You can diffuse it to help control viruses and bacteria in the air or simply rub a couple drops on the bottoms of your feet before bed. For a sore throat, put a drop into an ounce of warm water and gargle it. Thieves can also be used as a natural hand sanitizer or rubbed on your chest and neck to protect from coughs and congestion. Thieves oil, as with most essential oils, is potent so use it sparingly and always dilute it in a carrier oil when applying it directly to your skin.FullSizeRender

Propolis: Propolis is the substance that bees make from tree and plant resins to seal their hives. It essentially acts as the hive’s immune system, defending it from parasites, viruses and bacteria. Just as it protects a bee’s hive, it also protects our bodies. Propolis possesses antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and antibiotic properties. Beekeeper’s Naturals sells a propolis spray that can help soothe a sore throat and support your immune system.

Diet: Your immune system requires certain nutrients to function properly. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables will provide your immune system with the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants it needs to thrive. Staying hydrated is equally important. Whether you are taking preventative measures or fighting off an existing illness, make sure to consume plenty of fluids. Take it one step further and drink hot tea for the added antioxidant benefits!

Apple Cider Vinegar: Most bacteria cannot survive in the acidic environment of Apple Cider Vinegar.  Adding 1-2 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar to warm water and drinking it can soothe a sore throat, clear a stuffy nose and treat bacteria-related diseases. When you feel a cold coming on, try this throat-soothing drink recipe:

2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar

2 shakes Cinnamon

1 Lemon wedge, squeezed

1/2-1 Tbsp honey to sweeten* (optional)

Simply stir these ingredients into 8-10 oz of hot (almost boiling) water and enjoy!

 

Take home message: Don’t fight fire with fire. Protect yourself naturally during flu season by giving your immune system the tools it needs to fend for itself!

 

Bone Broth: Not Just Another Food Fad

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Bone broth has recently risen to fame as a trendy health beverage, but what you may not know is that it dates back to prehistoric times. Back when it was unthinkable to throw away any part of an animal, hunter-gatherers mastered the art of making otherwise unusable animal parts like knuckles, hooves and bones into what we know today as bone broth. Bone broth has been a dietary staple for centuries, and has been recognized for it’s medicinal and healing properties across cultures.

What is bone broth?

Bone broth is exactly what it sounds like: broth made from bones. It differs from regular broth (what’s used in most soups) in that regular broth is typically made using mostly meat and cooked for 1-2 hours. Bone broth on the other hand is made using mostly bones and is cooked for 24 to 72 hours. This allows for all of the nutritious minerals, gelatin and other materials to be released from the bones, providing a whole slew of health benefits and healing properties.

Why should you drink it?

Bone broth is one of the most nutritious and healing foods there is.  The minerals found in bone broth are in a form our bodies can easily absorb. Calcium, phosphorus, silicon and sulfur name just a few minerals that come highly concentrated in bone broth.  These minerals have been proven to help improve immune function, fight infection, strengthen bones, and relieve symptoms of auto-immune disorders. Bone broth also contains broken down material from cartilage and tendons like glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate- both of which are known to help protect joints, reduce pain and fight inflammation. Gelatin is also extracted from the bones, which promotes healthy digestion and has been proven to help heal and protect against leaky gut syndrome, constipation and diarrhea. Bone broth is also loaded with amino acids, making it high in protein. This along with the gelatin and collagen promotes healthy skin, hair and nails. Basically speaking, bone broth is liquid magic.

How can you make it?

Although it may sound intimidating, making bone broth is incredibly simple (not to mention economical). Instead of throwing leftover bones and carcasses into the garbage, throw them into a crock pot instead. (It’s especially beneficial to include knuckles, necks or other cartilaginous parts.) Add whatever vegetables and herbs you have laying around and fill the crock pot with water. Cook on low for 24 to 72 hours and voila! You have bone broth. If you’re not someone who regularly buys bone-in meat, you can usually get bones from a local butcher. Bones can also be frozen until you collect enough for a batch of broth. The broth itself can be frozen, too, and thawed for later use.

Where can you buy it?

Making bone broth at home is the most cost-effective way to enjoy its health benefits, but if you aren’t up for making your own, there are several companies that sell it. Bare Bones Broth, for example, sells bone broth made using bones from pasture raised chickens and grass-fed cows online. You can also stop at your local Whole Foods and pick up a container of Pacific bone broth (pictured below).  You can cook with bone broth or sip it from a mug. Whichever way you choose to enjoy it, it’s definitely worth adding to your diet.FullSizeRender (1)

Take Away Message: Bone broth is one of the most nutritious and healing foods there is. Make it yourself or buy it from a store, add it to a recipe or sip it from a mug. Whatever you do, just eat it. Your body will thank you!

How I fought adult acne NATURALLY and won

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IMG_5147It wasn’t until I began suffering from acne at the age of 22 that I realized how many other adults (especially women) were suffering from it with me. For those of you who know first hand, acne can be a horrifying thing. Unfortunately, so can the over-the-counter cleansers, creams and prescription medications used to treat it.  For the sake of my health, I decided right off the bat that I wasn’t going to go down that road, simply because I know how harsh many of those treatment methods can be. Given my natural and holistic approach to health and healing, I decided there had to be a better way. So, I have spent the last 4 years researching and experimenting natural ways in which to cure my acne. There has been a lot of trial and error, several failed attempts and many tears of frustration shed, but in the end I can finally say for the first time in 4 years that I am happy with my skin. It’s not perfect by any means, but it has come a very long way. I decided to share my story in hopes that I can encourage even just one person who is suffering from acne to fight it naturally. Below I have shared some of my favorite all natural treatments and products that have helped me tremendously in my battle with adult acne. With that being said, it’s important to note that everyone’s skin (and therefore acne) is different. If I have learned one thing from this experience it’s that something that works for one person may not always work for another. Much of this process, as with any natural healing process is getting to know your own body, listening to it and responding appropriately. Here are the things that worked best for me:

Eat Natural, Minimally Processed, Whole Foods. 

You can’t expect a dietitian not to put this as number one!  But seriously, what we eat plays a HUGE role in our health and our skin is no exception. Every 2-3 weeks our skin replaces itself. Our bodies make these new skin cells from the food that we eat. In other words, what we eat LITERALLY becomes what we are. Skin issues, like acne, are often an implication that there is something going on with our diet or digestive system. To help fight and prevent acne, focus on eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables as they are loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are essential to our skins health and healing capabilities. There are also some foods you may need to avoid. Food intolerances often show up in the form of problematic skin conditions. Trigger foods for acne tend to be sugar, grains (especially refined grains) and dairy. I have gone months without eating any of the above…and yes, I mean ZERO. It took a lot of discipline, but I was determined to figure this out. After slowly phasing these food groups back in I was able to figure out what diet worked best for me and my skin. I am personally able to tolerate occasional dairy and whole or spouted grains without a problem. Refined grains and sugar seem to be my skin’s main issues. Of course I don’t skip sugar all together (because that would be CRAZY), but I am very intentional about where I get it from. For the most part I avoid anything that comes in a box or a package as the majority of processed food products have sugar added to them. I figure if I’m going to sacrifice my skin, it better be worth it so I mainly stick to my favorites: candy and dessert…on occasion of course. If I go overboard (which I’ve been known to do), I pay for it.

IMG_5145Drink Plenty of Water.  Dehydration is one of the most common underlying causes of acne. There are two main reasons why. 1- Water is essential for our bodies’ natural detoxification process. Our skin itself is our largest organ of elimination and drinking enough water ensures we are able to properly rid our bodies of toxins and impurities- many of which can cause acne. 2- Dry skin clogs pores. When skin is dry all of the gunk that is trying to escape get’s trapped underneath layers of dead skin cells causing acne. Water hydrates our skin and helps to prevent this from happening.

Use All Natural Skin Care Products. The skin is our bodies’ largest organ and just so happens to be permeable. Research shows that within just 24 seconds, most of what we smother onto our skin ends up in our blood stream. With that being said, we need to be reading the labels on our skin care and cosmetic products just as carefully as we read the labels on our food.  You would be surprised at how many chemicals, dyes, fragrances, parabens and other harmful ingredients are found in skin care products today. These ingredients can play a significant role in the development of allergies and even cancer, but they can also wreak havoc on our skin. Two of my favorite all natural skin care lines are Uncle Harry’s Natural Products and Acure Organics. Their products are extremely affordable, effective and most importantly safe to use. Citrine Natural Beauty Bar and 100 Percent Pure are excellent one-stop-shop websites that offer the best in all-natural beauty and personal care products.

Go Makeup Free. I know that the unsightly appearance of blemishes may leave you wanting to pile on mounds of foundation and concealer, but it’s important to give your skin a chance to breathe. Whenever you’re at home, wash off your makeup. Basically, go makeup free whenever possible. When choosing to wear makeup, switching to all natural brands makes a world of difference too.

IMG_5146Exfoliate. This is a MUST! Exfoliation helps to clear acne and reduce the occurrence of breakouts by removing dead skin cells and unclogging pores. It also helps reduce the appearance of scars and discoloration. My favorite ways to exfoliate are with Acure Organic’s Brightening Facial Scrub and by using my Clarisonic Mia facial cleansing brush. I usually use one of these methods in the morning and the other at night.

Microdermabrasian. This is basically just a really effective method of exfoliation. Microdermabrasian should be performed by a licensed esthetician. During a microderm facial, an esthetician is also able to perform extractions, which can remove even the deepest and most stubborn whiteheads and blackheads. The professional tools they use allow them to do so safely and in a way that prevents scarring.  Depending upon the state of your skin, it is usually beneficial to get a microdermabrasian facial every 1-2 weeks for the first 6 weeks and then switch to less frequent visits for routine maintenance. I was fortunate enough to find a phenomenal esthetician who uses all natural skin care products during her services. Her name is Diane and she works out of Pure Salon and Day Spa in Milwaukee.

Moisturize. As I mentioned before, keeping our skin hydrated is very important. Most over-the-counter creams or prescription medications used to treat acne dry out our skin. Although excess oil can be a contributing factor to acne, these treatment methods can actually make it worse by severely drying out our skin. Our skin often responds to this by producing MORE oil, because that is the way in which our skin naturally moisturizes itself. Although these cleansers and creams may work in the short term to dry up acne, acne almost always returns as soon as you stop using them -not to mention your skins oil production can get tremendously out of wack. Simply put, blemishes are a result of gunk that is trying to escape from our skin. When our skin is dry, the gunk gets trapped under layers of dead skin cells forming acne. When our skin is regularly exfoliated and moisturized, the gunk is free to escape.

Hot Towel Method. Heat and steam are two of the most effective ways to open up pores and clean them out. The easiest way I have found to apply these methods is by preparing hot towels. 3 days per week I wet 3 washcloths, roll them up and put them on a plate. I heat them in a microwave for 2 minutes. One at a time, I open a washcloth, shake it out and drape it across my entire face, gently pressing it into my skin. As soon as one washcloth cools, I move onto the next, applying all three in a row. Not only does this feel great, but it really helps draw impurities out of your skin. Heat and steam take a lot of natural moisture with them so make sure to moisturize afterwards!

FullSizeRender (32)Activated Charcoal. This is one of nature’s best kept skin care secrets. Activated Charcoal is extremely porous giving it the ability to attract gunk and toxins- pulling them out of your pores. Simply mix activated charcoal with a little bit of water to form a paste and use it as a full face mask or an on-the-spot treatment. I use and recommend 100% natural food grade coconut shell activated charcoal powder by Coal-Conut. WARNING: it’s messy! I would recommend wearing an old t-shirt (or nothing at all) and applying it before taking a shower. I do this about once every 1-2 weeks and leave it on for about 15 minutes.

Essential Oils. Essential oils have been proven very beneficial in the prevention and treatment of acne. Some have antibacterial and antiseptic properties while others are known to help heal and nourish skin cells, calm irritation and reduce inflammation caused by acne. Once again this treatment method may take some trial and error in order to discover which oils your skin responds to the best.FullSizeRender (33)

My absolute favorite oil blend to use is called fancy face serum by Primally Pure. It’s a vitamin and antioxidant rich blend of all organic oils designed specifically to prevent and heal problematic skin conditions, including acne.  I use 4 drops of it once a day after washing my face. I also use a blend of oils made by doTERRA called HD Clear as a quick on-the-spot treatment for blemishes.

Apple Cider Vinegar. The malic and lactic acids found in ACV help balance the pH of your skin. They also soften and exfoliate your skin, reducing the appearance of blemishes. This combined with it’s anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties gives ACV the ability to clear acne and other problematic skin conditions. Simply dilute ACV with water and use it as a toner after washing your face. Apply it to affected areas using a cotton ball. Drinking 1-2 ounces of ACV each day can also help address some of the underlying internal reasons for developing acne. I usually add 1-2 ounces of ACV into an 8 ounce glass of water and drink it daily. If you hate the taste, ACV can be added to another beverage instead.

Witch Hazel. Similar to ACV, witch hazel acts as a natural astringent to fight acne and blemishes, all while toning, cleansing and conditioning your skin. It’s more gentle than ACV, but is just as effective. My favorite kind of witch hazel is Thayers Rose Petal Witch Hazel. It smells wonderful. Simply use it as a toner after cleansing your face.

Supplement as Needed. Sometimes acne can occur as the result of a nutrient deficiency. I take what I have found in my research to be the highest quality nutrition supplements on the market. Ultra Vitality and Genesis are two products made by Symmetry Global that not only contain a whole slew of skin healing vitamins and minerals, but they are also made with proprietary blends of the most nutritive herbs, medicinal plants and antioxidant rich superfoods on the planet. I have been taking these supplements for almost 8 years now and I have yet to find anything better.

Patience and Consistency. These may be the two most important ingredients to success in any natural healing process. By nature we desire instant gratification so our society as a whole tends to seek out anything that promises a “quick fix.” I will tell you right now that there was nothing “quick” about this process. Healing can take a very long time and it can be very frustrating and discouraging at times as well, but I promise you, it will be worth it in the end. Just keep in mind that it usually takes anywhere from 2 weeks to 4 months to notice a change in your skin’s appearance after making a change in your routine. Patience and Consistency are key!

Please comment or contact me with any other questions regarding natural acne treatment or natural healing in general and I will be more than happy to help how I can.

Roasted Vegetable and Goat Cheese Pasta

I have always been a lover of veggies, but some times I’m just not in the mood to eat meat.  Meat contains a ton of essential nutrients so I do enjoy it on regular basis, but I choose to skip it entirely about one day a week (something my husband will never understand). Anyways, for you fellow veggie lovers out there- here is a SUPER simple 20 minute meatless dinner idea that still packs a powerful protein punch (17-20 grams per serving)!

Ingredients (serves 6):

3-4 whole vegetables of your choosing (I used 1 red bell pepper, 1 yellow bell pepper, 1 zucchini and 1/2 red onion)                                    *eggplant, broccoli and tomato would be excellent choices as well*

2 cups uncooked Barilla Protein Plus penne pasta

4 oz goat cheese

4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic

1 bunch fresh basil

*Optional: pine nuts for garnish

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Wash and slice vegetables into bite size pieces. Lay flat in single layer on lightly greased baking sheet & roast in over for about 15 minutes or until lightly browned and slightly soft (but not mushy).

3. While vegetables are roasting, prepare pasta according to directions on package.

4. Add olive oil, garlic and basil to food processor and blend until well combined.

5. Combine vegetables, pasta and sauce and mix well. Crumble goat cheese and stir in last.

6. Serve 1 cup of pasta topped with a sunny side up egg for 17 grams of protein per serving. *Optional: add even more protein by garnishing with pine nuts*

7. Enjoy!

Top 5 Ingredients to Avoid on Food Labels

As consumers we want to believe that food manufacturers have our best interest in mind, but it’s time to wake up and smell the artificial ingredients! The majority of companies are more concerned with their products’ taste, appearance and shelf life (as well as their bottom dollar) than they are concerned with our health. Our health is certainly not their priority, which is exactly why we need to make it ours.

There is a laundry list of chemicals, preservatives, and artificial additives lurking in our food supply today and I would have to write a novel to even put a dent in it. BUT if you can just dedicate yourself to avoiding the following 5 ingredients, you will be drastically decreasing your risk of developing a myriad of diseases and health problems. Also, chances are if you avoid these 5 ingredients you’ll be avoiding most of the other harmful additives too, because they tend to travel in groups.

1. Hidden Sugar

Earning it’s spot as number one on my list of ingredients to avoid, added sugar is the single worst ingredient in the modern diet. Sugar is unnecessarily ADDED to 80% of our food supply and contributes to almost every single disease known to man kind. Quite frankly, it’s killing us and it shows up in foods where you’d least expect to see it. Unfortunately avoiding added sugar isn’t as simple as locating the word “sugar” on an ingredient list. There are well over 50 words disguising sugar on food labels so I’ve dedicated an entire post, Identifying Hidden Sugar, to teaching you exactly how to avoid it.

2. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

High Fructose Corn Syrup is possibly the most dangerous form of added sugar in our food supply. It’s an inexpensive alternative to sugar and is therefore used to sweeten the majority of processed foods on the market today. HFCS is a highly processed form of sugar made from corn (which is usually genetically modified) and health risks include insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, obesity and type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

3. Hydrogenated OR Partially Hydrogenated Oils

Hydrogenated or Partially hydrogenated Oils (of any kind) are the primary source of trans fats in our diet. Trans fats do not exist naturally- they are industrially made and are incredibly difficult for our bodies to digest. The consumption of trans fats contributes to a whole slew of health problems including high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease and several cancers. Regardless of whether or not the nutrition panel says “0 grams Trans Fat,” if you see any of the following terms on your ingredient list, the food product contains trans fats:

Partially Hydrogenated Oils

Hydrogenated Oils (Fully-hydrogenated oils are trans-fat free)

Shortening

DATEM

Mono- and Di- glycerides

Check out my post Get the Facts on Trans Fats to learn more.

4. Artificial Flavors

When you see “artificial flavors” or “_____ flavor” on a food label, it can indicate a single unnatural additive or a blend of hundreds of chemicals. For example, the average “butter flavor” is made of 100 different man-made chemicals! The FDA does not require companies to disclose the ingredients that go into their “artificial flavor” so we really don’t know what chemicals each “flavor” comprises of, let alone all of the health risks they have. There is very little documented research published on the effects of artificial flavors, but the bottom line is they are not natural, they are man-made chemicals that our bodies are in no way designed to digest. Artificial flavors are known to cause allergic reactions, headaches, fatigue, DNA damage and brain damage, but I have a feeling the list of risks is much longer- there is just too little research to confirm it.

5. Artificial Dyes and Colors

Most artificial dyes are made from coal tar and petroleum extracts- does that sound like something you want to eat? They show up in all kinds of surprising places and are listed as Red #3 and #40, Yellow #5 and #6, Blue #1 and #2, and Green #3, etc on your food’s ingredient labels. Potential health risks include hyperactivity, attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), other behavior problems, chromosomal damage, tumor growth and cancer.

TAKE AWAY MESSAGE: Most of the “food” we eat today hardly resembles food at all. Become an avid label reader. Read every label on every single product and know what you are putting into your body. Look for foods with short, simple ingredient lists. If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it. And as always, the best way to avoid unwanted additives is to focus on eating whole, natural, minimally processed foods- and cook your own food from scratch as much as possible.

Crispy & Creamy Grain-free Breaded Eggplant

When shopping for produce this week, I chose eggplant as my “something purple”.  Eggplant is a beautiful vegetable known for it’s unique taste and texture. High in B-vitamins, fiber, bone-strengthening minerals and several potent antioxidants, eggplant has a lot more than remarkable beauty and flavor to offer. Eggplant supports heart, brain and bone health as well as aides in both cancer prevention and weight loss.

Eggplant is a vegetable that people are commonly intimidated by.  I personally love eggplant no matter what method is used to cook it, but I know several individuals who would disagree. Depending upon how it’s prepared, eggplant can often acquire a “slimy” or “mushy” texture that can be less than desirable. This recipe is a way in which I believe everyone can enjoy eggplant. This cooking technique gives eggplant the perfect texture. The seasoned breading in this recipe will brown in the oven giving each bite of eggplant a crispy quality with a gentle kick of spice. This is balanced perfectly when you bite into the smooth, creamy center. Here’s how to achieve melt-in-your-mouth perfection:

Ingredients:

1 Eggplant

2 eggs

1 1/2 cup raw almonds, whole

1/2 cup coconut flour

1/2 Tbsp coconut oil

1/2-1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (depending upon how spicy you want it)

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 415 degreees F. Lightly grease baking sheet with 1/2 Tbsp coconut oil.

2. Wash and cut eggplant into strips 1/4-1/2 inch thick.

3. Grind almonds in food processor until crumb-like consistency (should not be quite as fine as flour). Then, stir in coconut flour and spices until well combined.

4. Set up a three bowl “breading station”: Bowl 1: place about 1/3 of the almond & coconut flour mixture. Bowl 2: Add 2 eggs, whisked. Bowl (or plate) 3: Add the remaining 2/3 of the almond & coconut flour mixture. *(This is the same breading concept I use in my Coconut Crusted Tilapia recipe).

5. Take each piece of eggplant through the breading process: One strip at a time, you will want to cover both sides of the eggplant in flour, dip in egg wash and then press almond/coconut flour mixture onto both sides (until well coated). Place breaded eggplant onto greased baking sheet.

6. Bake 15-20 minutes or until crisp and lightly browned. (I will often broil for the last 2 minutes for additional browning)

7. Enjoy!

3 Ingredient Chocolate Almond Truffles

I’ve been watching nutrition bars grow in popularity with what seems like dozens of new versions hitting the shelves (or at least my instagram page) by the week!  I think it’s great that nutrition bars are beginning to cater to smaller niches of the population who are following gluten-free, paleo and whole30 diets.  Also, in this day and age you simply cannot beat the convenience of a healthy grab-n-go snack.  The downside? Most of these bars are selling for roughly $2 a pop! Using ingredients we always keep in the kitchen, my husband and I decided to make our own. They turned out so rich and decadent we decided to rename them “truffles”.

Below is the recipe of our go-to favorite.  From here, I encourage you to have fun experimenting with different ingredients. Raisins, dates and other dried fruits become sticky when blended and act as the glue that holds these bites together, but beyond that the possibilities are truly endless. We have tried making these with several different combinations of nuts and nut butters and it’s always fun adding ingredients like coconut flakes, seeds or cinnamon for a new and different spin!

Ingredients:

1 cup raw almonds

1 cup raisins

4 Tbsp cocoa powder

Directions:

Put almonds and raisins into food processor for about 2 minutes or until ground fine (see picture below). Then add cocoa powder and pulse until well combined. Dump mixture onto a plate. One handful at a time, press mixture together forming 1-2″ balls.  Refrigerate for 1 hour to “set”. Enjoy!

Perfect Potatoes

Boiled, Smashed & Baked potatoes

These have been one of my go-to sides for years because they are so simple to make and can be seasoned to accompany any meal. Cooking is my play time so I don’t really follow any rules in the kitchen. For the sake of my blog, though, I usually cook with a notebook next to me so I can write down and later relay to you everything I did. But I have made these potatoes so many times and they are practically impossible to screw up so here are my very elementary directions, provided by memory:

Ingredients:
Russet potatoes (however many you want)
Olive oil (however much you want)
Seasoning (whatever kind you want)
Salt to taste

Directions:
1. Boil potatoes until fork tender (about 15-20 minutes). Meanwhile preheat oven to 415 degrees F.
2. When done, carefully remove potatoes from water with slotted spoon or fork and place on flat surface (I usually use my cutting board)
3. Smash potatoes flat so that they look like this *tip: it should be easy to smash the potatoes if they were cooked long enough so try one potato first and if you’re having trouble, keep the others in for a few minutes, also cutting a small X in the center of the potatoes prior to smashing it helps too-and if you don’t have a “smasher” the back end of a spatula works just as well *
4. Drizzle olive oil on a cookie sheet and lay smashed potatoes in a single layer
5. Drizzle with more olive oil and season as desired. My favorites are pictured: garlic, dill & Rosemary
6. Bake at 415 F until tops of potatoes begin to brown (about 10 minutes) *I usually broil them for a few minutes at the end too*
7. Enjoy! (Or if you’re Greek like my husband douse them in more olive oil and THEN enjoy )

We enjoyed our potatoes with a cocoa powder, cayenne pepper and cinnamon rubbed Ribeye and an arugula salad tossed in olive oil and fresh lemon juice. Not sure if if speaks more to the deliciousness of this meal or the intensity of our workout beforehand, but I went back for seconds and cleaned my plate twice. What dishes are your favorite to serve potatoes with?

Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie

As much as I enjoy pairing different foods and flavors together and experimenting with different course combinations, some nights I’m just in the mood for a one-dish meal.  Tonight was one of those nights.  One of my favorite “casserole” style dishes is shepherd’s pie.  It’s a popular home style comfort food and is fairly simple to make. It’s also nutritionally balanced with protein, vegetables and starch and with just a few substitutions it can be easily made both paleo and whole30 compliant.

What you’ll need:

2 large sweet potatoes, chopped into large chunks

2 Tbsp coconut oil

4 Tbsp olive oil

1 1/2 lbs ground beef

1/2 red onion, chopped

1 stalk of celery, sliced

6-8 baby carrots, sliced

1 cup small broccoli florets

1 cup small cauliflower florets

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

3 shakes of ground cinnamon

2 Tbsp rosemary

Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 415 degrees F. Chop sweet potatoes into large chunks and spread out onto cookie sheet. Melt 2 Tbsp coconut oil (I usually just rub 1 Tbsp at a time in my hands until melted) and massage into sweet potato pieces. Sprinkle with Rosemary. Bake about 20 minutes. (You can also boil or microwave your potatoes, but they all take roughly the same amount of time and I have found that baking them produces the best flavor)

2. While your sweet potatoes are baking, brown ground beef in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add 3 shakes of cinnamon to beef as it is cooking. (Unless you despise cinnamon, don’t skip this step- it enhances the flavor of the beef and makes a huge difference in the taste of the finished product). Once beef is cooked, drain excess fat and set aside.

3. In large frying pan, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil. Add chopped onion and saute for about 3 minutes until they begin to soften.

4.  Then, add celery, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower and an additional 2 Tbsp olive oil. Stir and cover with a lid. Allow vegetables to steam about 5-7 minutes or until desired texture has been achieved.

5. While vegetables are steaming, remove sweet potatoes from oven and transfer into a bowl. (Leave oven on at 415 degrees).  Use immersion blender or hand mixer to puree potatoes and set aside.

6.  Remove lid and add garlic to steamed vegetables. Saute for 2 minutes.  Then add cooked beef to skillet and combine all ingredients together.

8. Once combined, scoop the beef mixture into a lightly greased baking pan so that it covers the entire bottom. Spoon sweet potato puree on top of mixture and spread evenly to edges of pan. Bake for 15 minutes. I usually broil the dish for a few minutes at the end to brown the potato topping.

Enjoy!

Welcome to My Foodie Noodie!

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My name is Kayla. I am a registered dietitian whose two greatest passions in life are food and travel. I am currently living in Germany working as a freelance RD and traveling every chance I get.  When exploring new cities I do my best to make acquaintances with local residents to learn everything I can about the culture, in particular the food culture. You will often find me perusing local markets buying fresh produce, spices, meats and seafood to, you guessed it: cook! I love trying new things whether it be an unusual delicacy or a new cooking style. These experiences reflect not only in my cooking, but in my evolving way of life.

My overall approach to health is a holistic one: sound body, mind, and soul. My practice is about more than just physical health, it is about promoting mental and social well-being too as it is all of these things together that are necessary for us to live our greatest lives.  Finding balance is key so in addition to sharing nutrient packed recipes and expert health tips I look forward to providing daily motivation for all around healthy and happy living.

My philosophy on food is simple: eat foods as close to their natural state as possible: minimally processed, whole, natural foods.  Eat a ton of fruits and vegetables, keep an open mind to trying new things and ENJOY eating! I encourage mindful eating and maintaining a healthy relationship with food, which means allowing yourself to indulge occasionally.  I think that what you do every day matters more than what you do every once in a while. I believe in adopting a well-balanced, healthy lifestyle and I am so excited to share my journey with you!