Holistic Squid http://holisticsquid.com Kick Ass at All the Things Fri, 21 Aug 2015 14:21:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 Mexican Street Corn Salad http://holisticsquid.com/mexican-street-corn-salad/ http://holisticsquid.com/mexican-street-corn-salad/#comments Tue, 18 Aug 2015 20:47:37 +0000 http://holisticsquid.com/?p=26621 Late summer is one of the best times of year for recipes laden with sun-ripened fruits and veggies. This Mexican street corn salad is one of my favorite ways to eat one of my favorite foods – summer corn. When I was a kid, school never started in August, and summer most certainly didn’t end then […]

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Mexican Street Corn SaladLate summer is one of the best times of year for recipes laden with sun-ripened fruits and veggies. This Mexican street corn salad is one of my favorite ways to eat one of my favorite foods – summer corn.

When I was a kid, school never started in August, and summer most certainly didn’t end then either. The last weeks of August, when summer was winding down, always held the most nostalgic feelings of the season for me. The food echoed this, and the peaches, tomatoes, and corn were the sweetest and ripest, tasting like sunshine bursting from every bite.

In the evenings after long days of playing at the community swimming pool, my parents would grill up burgers and serve them up with the finest the summer harvest had to offer. Just thinking about it fills my mind with the smells, tastes, and the very essence of summertime.

Now that I’m a grown up living in the endless summer of southern California, I have to pay a bit closer attention to sense the depth and richness of the seasons. But despite what naysayers believe, Californian seasons do exist.

Our farm box brims with corn, tomatoes, and stone fruits and the urge to lounge on the beach or play in a pool rings loud and clear. Ice cream and popsicles all around.

Which brings me to this recipe… Living in Los Angeles for over fifteen years, I’ve discovered more than a few wonderful ethnic food traditions. One of my favorite is Mexican street corn, where your cob is mounted on a stick from a little food cart and smeared with everything from mayonnaise and salty cheese to lime, chili pepper, and more. YUM.

This salad marries the joy of Mexican street corn into a potluck/lunch box/fancy dinner appropriate salad that is one of my absolutely favorite new recipes. And of course, when you make it at home, you’re in charge of the ingredients. (See my note about my mayonnaise discovery below!)

Many folks worry about the issues with GMOs and corn, and I agree, that this is a real problem. Though by definition, organic produce cannot be genetically modified, corn crops are highly susceptible to contamination due to the way they cross-pollinate. While it’s easy to want to avoid corn out of fear, I prefer to support the efforts of organic, non-GMO farming so that they can continue to fight the good fight. (And I can enjoy the wonders of summer corn).

 

Mexican Street Corn Salad Ingredients

  • 8 ears fresh corn
  • 1 bunch green onion
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, optional for heat
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil – I like this one
  • coarse sea salt, to taste – this is my favorite
  • 6 ounces queso fresco, or cojita cheese
  • 2 limes
  • 3 medium avocados, (semi-firm but ripe)
  • 6 tablespoons mayonnaise***
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder, plus more to taste

****

A quick note about mayo:
I always hated the stuff until I discovered homemade mayonnaise. You can learn how to make it in this post – it’s SO much easier and more delicious than I ever imagined. That said, I finally discovered a jarred mayo that isn’t made with canola or worse. Instead it’s made with nutrient dense avocado oil and organic eggs – YAY!

No time for homemade mayo?
Click here to buy avocado oil mayonnaise online here.

****

Mexican Street Corn Salad Method

  1. Husk the corn and cut the kernels from the cobs. Chop the green onions. Chop the cilantro. Stem, deseed and mince the jalapeno pepper. Mince the garlic.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet until shimmering. Add corn, season with salt to taste and toss, then let cook, tossing only occasionally (about every 2 minutes) until corn is well charred all over (about 6 – 10 minutes total). Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
  3. Crumble the cheese finely. Juice the lime. Peel, core and dice the avocado.
  4. Add corn to a medium bowl along with onions, cilantro, jalapeno, garlic, three quarters of the Cotija, mayonnaise, two thirds of the lime juice and chili powder and toss. Pour remaining lime juice over diced avocados then add to bowl with corn mixture and gently toss. Top with remaining Cotija and additional chili powder to taste.

Mexican Street Corn Salad - Holistic Squid

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Sourdough Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins http://holisticsquid.com/sourdough-lemon-poppy-seed-muffins/ http://holisticsquid.com/sourdough-lemon-poppy-seed-muffins/#comments Mon, 03 Aug 2015 21:39:03 +0000 http://holisticsquid.com/?p=26532 [Emily’s note: Naomi is at is again with her sourdough goodness! If you haven’t seen the other posts in this series (and especially if you feel the teesiest bit intimidated by sourdough – start here.] While we usually think of sourdough in terms of bread, sourdough fermentation can be applied to a number of different flour based […]

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Sourdough Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins - Holistic Squid[Emily’s note: Naomi is at is again with her sourdough goodness! If you haven’t seen the other posts in this series (and especially if you feel the teesiest bit intimidated by sourdough – start here.]

While we usually think of sourdough in terms of bread, sourdough fermentation can be applied to a number of different flour based goods, such as pancakes and muffins, like these sourdough lemon poppy seed muffins.

Using a slow fermentation always makes me feel like I am doing less work because the work is divided up. For example, you can mix up these muffins at night, add in a few more ingredients in the morning, and pop them in oven to bake as you get ready for the day. The result is a lemon poppy seed muffin that is both delicious and good for you, with all the benefits of sourdough.

The texture of a sourdough muffin is a little different from conventional muffins, mainly because it doesn’t have a sticky sugar laden soft outside. They are sweet enough to be a treat but not so sweet as to send you into a sugar coma.

The sourdough taste factor is controlled by how sour your starter is to begin with (more frequent feedings equals sweeter starter) and how long you leave the dough to ferment. To make the muffins still acceptable to non-sourdough eating tastebuds, I usually leave the batter about 8 hrs, although you can leave yours longer of course.

The easiest flour to use is (organic) all purpose wheat flour. I’ve made muffins with rye flour before, and while they taste good they are softer and don’t hold the classic muffin dome shape. Spelt flour is also possible, but you’ll want to cut the fermentation to about four hours, as spelt retains water differently than wheat and becomes gooey if fermented too long.

Warning: highly addictive. You may not be able to eat just one.

Sourdough lemon poppy seed muffins

  • 1/2 cup sourdough starter (here’s how to make one)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest, grated
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/3 cup melted butter, ghee, or coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 eggs, preferably from pasture-raised hens
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup water or milk

Sourdough lemon poppy seed muffin method

  1. The day or evening before, stir together sourdough starter, honey, melted butter, juice and rind of two lemons, and poppy seeds. Add flour and mix. Cover from the air (I find a large plate the sits within a large mixing bowl works well). Let sit 8-12 hrs.
  2. When ready to make the muffins, preheat oven to 350F/180C. Whisk eggs. Sprinkle salt and baking soda into the water or milk and whisk, then add to eggs.
  3. Pour egg mixture into flour mixture and stir until smooth.
  4. Spoon batter into a greased or lined muffin tin. I filled mine more than 3/4 full – pretty much to the top of silicone liners.
  5. Bake for half an hour or until golden brown. Take out of oven and allow to cool. Enjoy!

What sourdough goodie would you like to try next?
Let us know in the comments below!

Sourdough Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins - Holistic Squid

 

avatar-e1393106133385The closest Naomi has gotten to her dream farm is growing live bacteria in jars and wrangling her four children, including twins. A Canadian who now lives in Slovakia, Naomi writes about traditions, food, and life in Slovakia (as well as some pretty strange food) at Almost Bananas.

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What Would Emily Do (7/29) http://holisticsquid.com/what-would-emily-do-729/ http://holisticsquid.com/what-would-emily-do-729/#respond Wed, 29 Jul 2015 15:40:16 +0000 http://holisticsquid.com/?p=26327 The picture above is the view from my favorite local hike. After three and a half miles of hot and hilly fire roads, the reward is this stunning view. Ahhh. Anyway, let’s answer some of your questions… My inbox runneth over with questions from readers wondering – What would Emily do – about Real food and […]

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What Would Emily Do (7/1) - Holistic SquidThe picture above is the view from my favorite local hike. After three and a half miles of hot and hilly fire roads, the reward is this stunning view. Ahhh. Anyway, let’s answer some of your questions…

My inbox runneth over with questions from readers wondering – What would Emily do – about Real food and holistic health topics. I’ve created this Q&A to get your questions answered and for other folks to benefit from the answers too.

Who am I to know the answers to your questions?

I’m a holistic-minded mom, a sometimes beach bum, a real food foodie, a curious health researcher, and I’ve been practicing holistic and Chinese medicine for over a decade. That said, the answers here are only my opinion, and shouldn’t be construed as medical advice.

If you read something here and have your own wisdom or opinion to add, by all means, please leave a comment so we can all benefit from your experiences and perspective.

Okey dokey! Let’s dive in…

 

Question 1: What to do about high cholesterol diagnosis

Justin asks…
I was wondering if you can help me put my fears at ease. I was diagnosed with “high cholesterol” I had a total cholesterol of 241, triglycerides of 43, LDL of 128, and HDL of 104! I do not think that I have dysfunctional HDL or any other issues besides my anxiety/health anxiety and OCD. I eat 3 1/2 tablespoons NUTIVA coconut oil daily or more, raw milk, raw cheese, Kalona Supernatural butter, 10-18 ounces of grass fed beef or organic chicken daily. Along with at least 2-3 eggs pastured daily. The only things in my diet that are NOT organic are second best option, raw dairy, raw cheese, and beef from local farmer. What do you think?

Hi Justin, the important thing to remember is that lab diagnostic tests are only a snapshot of limited information and are not a great indicator of your overall health. There really is a lot more to consider when it comes to cholesterol’s role in your health.

For a comprehensive course in understanding and managing cholesterol wisely, check out Chris Kresser’s High Cholesterol Action Plan. This is a great investment for your health and will help to clear up any confusion.

 

Question 2: Treating cancer naturally?

Raquel needs advice for a friend…
I have a friend that has been diagnosed with early stages of lymphoma and wants to try and treat it naturally. I have read and watched about a million things on cancer and my mind is drawing a blank. I know the Gerson therapy center in Mexico but that’s about it. Do you happen to know any other centers or reputable programs out there? Foods or supplements that have been discovered to have an effect?

Hi Raquel, thanks for your question. For starters, I will say that I am not an expert in this field. While there are certainly alternative therapies out there that that I personally would research and take advantage of in your friend’s shoes, I don’t have specific recommendations around programs and supplements. That said, I’d still like to share my opinion on this topic.

Cancer is a tricky beast and the answer to whether this can be treated naturally – or at all – really does depend on so many variables. First it’s helpful to understand typical cancer prognosis factors – type, stage, and grade of the cancer, plus the patient’s age and constitution, etc. Statistically speaking, with early stage non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in relatively “healthy” patients under 60, the prognosis is usually positive.

Beyond that, I believe it’s important to remember that cancer is a “holistic” disease, meaning it’s not simply that cancer has waged a war against your body and is winning. Cancer happens because, over time, there is a enough of an imbalance in the body that it “allows” for the cancer to overtake. By looking at “why” a person has developed cancer – be it physical, mental, emotional, or a combo it will help to understand how to direct treatment for the best possible outcome – even if that is ultimately death (which I will just state – as a gentle reminder – is a normal part of life).

While I believe that drugs and surgery are grossly over-used in cancer treatment and in general, in some cases it may be best to take advantage of the tools of western medicine up to a point and then use holistic measures to heal your body afterwards.

In any case, a cancer diagnosis is an opportunity to STOP, and take a deep hard look at yourself and your life and decide whether and how it may be time to make some changes. This can happen at any stage, type, and prognosis.

Question 3: What to do about parasites

Katerina asks…
My son is 2.5 and has parasites! We tried to cure it with homeopathy but he still has them. Could you please help with a natural remedy? Is it possible my other kids have them too? They are 8 and 5!

Hi Katerina – My friend Katie at Wellness Mama has a fantastic post all about parasites. I couldn’t have said it better. Check it out here.

 

Question 4: Fine motor tics due to vitamin deficiency?

Kristina wants to know…
My 3 year old daughter has always moved her hands, fingers, and toes in her sleep especially as she is falling off to sleep and it does not wake her. I’m sure we do the same thing too. During the day I think I’ve noticed when she is sitting down watching TV quietly that I notice tiny tiny movements here and there that no one else would probably notice. I actually do the same thing during the day myself. Is there a vitamin deficiency here? Thanks a lot!

Hi Kristina, it’s could be nothing, but fine motor tics can also sometimes be the result of a magnesium deficiency. It would be easy super to test this by taking a supplement like this one for a week or two before bedtime to see if it helps.

It could also be a deficiency of certain B vitamins, so you could test this with a supplement like this. If the issue persists or worsens, you may want to consider doing a complete assessment with a qualified holistic health practitioner.

 

Question 5: Kombucha and candida

Jennifer wants to know…
Someone recently made a comment about kombucha not being a good choice for someone with candida overgrowth. There seems to be a lot of conflicting information online. Do you have any knowledge in this area?

Hi Jennifer, this is a question I hear often. Fermented food can sometimes be a problem for those with candida until a healthy balance of gut flora is restored, so proceed with caution. Also, aside from the fermentation cultures, depending on brew time, there can still be quite a bit of sugar left in kombucha. For those trying to heal candida I recommend the Body Ecology Diet for a short term healing protocol.

 

Question 6: Vaccination during pregnancy

Joyce writes…
I am 28 weeks pregnant and my doctor has recommended that I receive the TDap vaccination stating that if I don’t get it, and baby gets whooping cough within his first month after birth, it could cause serious problems and babies die from it. I don’t want to be vaccinated and especially not during pregnancy, but I also don’t want to risk my baby. What should I do? I feel like I won’t be able to sleep at night no matter which option I choose!

Hi Joyce. First, I’d like to say that making decisions about vaccines is a very personal choice and I can’t tell you what is right for you. That said, I completely understand that this decision can be mind boggling. Hope this helps…

Infants and the elderly are most at risk from hospitalization and fatalities related to whooping cough, that’s why doctors will recommend that those that are around infants get the vaccine.

Personally, I don’t like the risks of vaccinations during pregnancy, and would prefer to take great care in keeping the baby isolated from sick people during those early months, even if it means hurting some feelings of potential visitors.

If you’re going to skip the vaccine, be sure to keep your immune system strong and keep baby away from potential exposure. If you haven’t already, read and implement my free Immune Boosting Protocol ebook for yourself and anyone regularly around baby.

 

Got questions about real food or holistic health and wondering W.W.E.D.?

If you have a question for me, please first use the handy dandy search bar at the top righthand corner of this site. If that doesn’t give you the answers you need, email [questions at holisticsquid dot com].

I can’t guarantee that I will get to every single question, but I will do my best (with a priority for questions that will serve the most of the Holistic Squid community).

Also, keep in mind that I cannot and will not give you medical advice over the internet. It’s inappropriate and unethical. If you want my medical opinion about a health or nutritional issue for you or your child, I take virtual patient consultations on a limited basis via phone or Skype. You can find out more about my distance consultations here.

Got answers not included here?
Please leave them in the comments below!

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Gestational Diabetes Test Alternatives? http://holisticsquid.com/gestational-diabetes-test-alternatives/ http://holisticsquid.com/gestational-diabetes-test-alternatives/#comments Mon, 13 Jul 2015 19:28:05 +0000 http://holisticsquid.com/?p=26267 When I got pregnant with my first child, I began reading about all of the things I should avoid eating, drinking, or doing while pregnant. And I started wondering why those things were safe when I wasn’t pregnant (turns out most of them aren’t). I stopped drinking soda entirely, avoided food and drinks that had artificial […]

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Gestational Diabetes Test Alternatives - Holistic SquidWhen I got pregnant with my first child, I began reading about all of the things I should avoid eating, drinking, or doing while pregnant. And I started wondering why those things were safe when I wasn’t pregnant (turns out most of them aren’t). I stopped drinking soda entirely, avoided food and drinks that had artificial colors or preservatives, and stopped using commercial body products.

Then I started to read about what most pregnant women drink for the gestational diabetes test and I was confused. Glucola, the glucose drink used for the gestational diabetes test, is full of additives that have not been proven safe for consumption while pregnant. Why are pregnant women practically forced to drink this flat soda? Is there a healthier alternative?

What is gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is insulin resistance that happens during pregnancy.  Biologically it’s normal (and good) for women to have some degree of insulin resistance during pregnancy, because it protects the fetus from periods of food scarcity.

However, our bodies don’t know that food scarcity is rare in our modern society. If you combine this slight insulin resistance with the high sugar and carb diet many Americans eat, you are likely to find gestational diabetes in some women.

Though the slight insulin resistance during pregnancy is normal, gestational diabetes does carry risks. According to Dr. Aviva Romm:

Elevated blood sugar creates a condition in the body called “oxidative stress” and in pregnancy, which is already a state of somewhat increased oxidative stress, this can lead to high blood pressure, preeclampsia, and preterm birth. Also, babies born to overweight or diabetic moms have a much higher lifetime likelihood of developing chronic health problems associated with obesity and diabetes.

Why the gestational diabetes test is important

Since gestational diabetes can be dangerous, all women are subjected to routine gestational diabetes testing whether they are at risk or not. The risk factors for GD are being over 25 years of age, having a personal or family history of diabetes, having a BMI of 30 or higher, or being from a non-white race. (source)

As you can see, most women will have at least one of those risk factors and if you do, it’s a good idea to know what your blood sugar is up to. That doesn’t mean that you have to submit to a routine gestational diabetes test (the oral glucose challenge test) or that you have to drink the glucola. There are other options, which we’ll talk about later.

 

Problems with the gestational diabetes test

During the oral glucose challenge test (OGCT) you will be asked to drink a glucose drink, also known as glucola, which contains 50g of glucose. You will have to drink it within 5 minutes, and then have your blood drawn 1 and 2 hours afterwards to assess how your body handles sugar.

The glucose challenge test is not a diagnostic test, and if you “fail” it you don’t necessarily have GD. You’ll have to go through a second 3 hour long oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) for a diagnosis (and drink more glucola).

The ingredients in glucola are questionable

Brominated vegetable oil is in some glucola drinks. It’s used as an emulsifier for the flavoring of the drink. There have been cases of people becoming very sick from ingesting BVO on a regular basis and in large amounts.

BVO is not FDA approved. It was removed from the “generally considered safe” list in the 70’s, pending more research, but the research hasn’t been done. BVO is banned in India, Japan, and Europe, which is a sign that we should be looking more closely at this additive.

The food dyes in glucola drinks concern me too. There has been a lot of research showing the risks of ingesting petroleum-based food dyes. These risks include cancer, hyperactivity, and a number of allergic reactions. Food dyes are also regulated or banned in other countries.

Dextrose is another ingredient in glucola that has me asking questions. Dextrose is where the 50g of glucose come from, and it is almost always derived from corn (it will often say so on the label). Most corn products in the US are made from GMO corn, so dextrose is almost guaranteed to be GMO.

If glucola was the only way to diagnose gestational diabetes, then I would obviously take the risk of glucola over the risk of gestational diabetes–but it’s not. More on the alternatives later.

The glucose challenge test is not very accurate

It’s unclear how accurate the OGCT is. Only 76% of women who have GD will be diagnosed. On the other hand, about 25% of women who are diagnosed won’t actually have GD (and will be unnecessarily specified as high risk). (source)

Timing can also play a part in the accuracy of the test. According to this study, taking the test at 8am is more likely to get you a pass than any other time of day. Also, blood glucose levels rise as a pregnancy progresses: levels at week 28 will naturally be higher than those at 24 weeks, but the same test is used at both times. (source)

Many women are instructed by healthcare professionals to carb load for a few days before their test. There is evidence to suggest that the body adapts to the amount of carbs that it consumes. That means that by carb loading before the test, you’re getting your body used to the high levels of sugar that you’re about to consume for your test.

So, the tests accuracy is reliant on the amount and kind of food that pregnant women typically eat or on what they choose to eat for a few days before the test.

Instead of eating a lot of sugar to prepare my body to eat a lot of sugar for the test, I decided to eat my regular diet and tested my blood sugar based on my regular diet.

Alternatives to the standard gestational diabetes test

Improve diet and lifestyle (in advance)

Since gestational diabetes is a sign that you may be at risk for diabetes in the future, a preconception and prenatal healthy lifestyle is the best prevention. That means avoid a diet high in sugar and processed foods and eat a real food diet instead, and get plenty of exercise. (source)

Though treatment of gestational diabetes does result in better birth outcomes, testing for, or a diagnosis of, gestational diabetes does not (source).

Once a pregnant woman is diagnosed with gestational diabetes, she is told to follow a healthy diet and exercise regularly (and check blood sugar regularly). All pregnant women (and people in general) should be advised to do those things, so many women decide to skip the test and just follow those guidelines.

Even with a healthy lifestyle you may still want to test. If you do, there are alternatives to the OGCT and OGTT.

Consider your blood results

A fasting plasma glucose test at the first prenatal appointment (a blood draw after fasting for 8 hours) was shown to be as accurate as the OGCT (source). However, another study found it to have a high false positive rate. You may want to include this test in your screening, but not rely on it exclusively.

Check Hemoglobin A1c in the first trimester

If you’re in the first trimester of your pregnancy, you may want to ask your doctor or midwife for a the hemoglobin A1c test. The HbA1c test in the first or early second trimester was shown to effectively detect diabetes for all women who had it, and also a group of women who had high risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes. (source)

Monitor your blood sugar

You can also choose to monitor your blood sugar at home for a few days or a week at 24 weeks and around 32 weeks. If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, you will be asked to monitor your blood glucose at home anyway. So why not just skip the OGCT or OGTT and go right to monitoring? (hint: you can.) (source)

Consider natural alternatives to glucola

If you want to or have to take the OGCT, there are natural alternatives to drinking glucola. Ask your doctor for alternatives to the glucola drink. Many will have a list of effective alternatives but they won’t necessarily offer it without your asking first. If they don’t have a list, you can ask specifically about the following ideas.

  • Jelly beans are similarly effective for the OGCT as glucola, and you can choose the source. According to this source, 53 jelly beans will equal the 50g of glucose needed. Get organic, GMO-free jelly beans here.
  • Glucolift is a natural, non-GMO, artificial colors & flavors free glucose tablet. It’s made for people with type 1 diabetes who need to raise their blood sugar regularly throughout the day. Each tablet contains 4g of glucose, so you would have to take 12.5 tablets to equal 50g of glucose.
  • Some midwives or doctors will let you eat a (very specific) real food breakfast before your test. Often it includes eggs, toast, fruit, and juice. Because you can’t be sure exactly how much glucose is in real food (a ripe banana has more sugar than an unripe one) you may still want to monitor at home to be sure.

With both of my pregnancies I chose to do a random glucose screening. I ate my normal breakfast and then had my blood glucose tested about an hour after I ate. At the time I was happy with that solution, because I wasn’t spilling sugar in my urine and I wasn’t eating a high-carb diet.

If I were to do it again, I would choose to test at home for a few days to get a more comprehensive idea of my blood glucose levels. I could also check after a few different meals and get an idea of which foods raised my blood sugar more than others. That way, if there were certain foods that raised my blood glucose levels too much, I could avoid them and continue a healthy pregnancy.

What was your experience with the gestational diabetes test?

Gestational Diabetes Test Alternatives - Holistic Squid

 

Mindy Headshot 400x400After getting caught up in the go, go, go, and buy, buy, buy, of modern living, I found myself unhappy and exhausted. I soon embraced a slower life and now write about simple living at PurposefullySimple.com.

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Zucchini Spinach Salad with Chicken http://holisticsquid.com/zucchini-spinach-salad-with-chicken/ http://holisticsquid.com/zucchini-spinach-salad-with-chicken/#comments Fri, 10 Jul 2015 15:20:22 +0000 http://holisticsquid.com/?p=26243   I often hesitate to post about anything other than fantastic desserts, because it seems as though most readers prefer the fantasy of sweets over dinner ideas. But this simple yet flavorful zucchini spinach salad is too good not to share. I spent the last four months working on getting healthier and slimming down for summer. Along […]

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Zucchini Spinach Salad with Chicken - Holistic SquidI often hesitate to post about anything other than fantastic desserts, because it seems as though most readers prefer the fantasy of sweets over dinner ideas. But this simple yet flavorful zucchini spinach salad is too good not to share.

I spent the last four months working on getting healthier and slimming down for summer. Along the way, I found myself in search of satisfying recipes that didn’t pack on the pounds. Along with this perfect ceviche and this surprisingly wonderful roasted cabbage, this zucchini spinach salad is one of my favorites.

Simple ingredients often make the best dishes, and this salad is no exception. Zucchini, spinach, and chicken get a bit of zing from fresh mint, green onions, and a touch of parmesan cheese – all lightly dressed with good olive oil and lemon juice. I use leftover roasted chicken, but you could easily grill up some chicken breasts or thighs too.

To finish off this simple meal, serve this summer fruit salad for dessert. YUM without adding inches to my tum.

Zucchini Spinach Salad Ingredients

  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil – buy it online
  • coarse sea salt, to taste – this is my favorite sea salt
  • fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/4 pounds zucchinis
  • 1 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 4 green onions
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint
  • 1 pound cooked chicken, shredded
  • 8 ounces baby spinach

Zucchini Spinach Salad Method

  1. Juice the lemon. In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice and sea salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Thinly slice the zucchini, and cut tomatoes in half. Add the zucchini and tomato to the dressing and and toss to coat – allow to marinate while preparing the remaining ingredients.
  3. Mince the green onions, grate the parmesan, and dice the mint.
  4. Heat the shredded chicken just until warmed through.
  5. Toss the warm chicken with zucchini mixture. Add spinach, green onions, parmesan cheese, and mint. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Zucchini Spinach Salad with Chicken - Holistic Squid

Want more delicious simplicity in your life?

Even for the most organized families, getting healthy and delicious dinner on the table can be such a challenge.

That’s why my hubby and I created Real Plans – our new online meal planner that will revolutionize the way you get dinner on the table.

  • Stuck in a rut with the same old dinners? Our delicious, home-style recipes are kitchen-tested and family-approved.
  • Real Plans on Counter Got special dietary restrictions or tastes? We offer paleo, vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy-free plans in addition to traditional real food menus. Plus you can add and change recipes to your heart’s content.
  • Family of eight or party of one… We’ve got you covered with fully customizable portion sizes.
  • Dread grocery shopping? Our dynamic smart phone app makes shopping a breeze.

Plus handy bonuses like…

  • A weekly timeline to help you spend the least time possible slaving away in the kitchen.
  • Plan ahead options including a month’s recipes in advance, plus a double recipe each week to bank ‘fast food’ in the freezer.

Click here to subscribe to Real Plans now

Traditional, Paleo, Vegetarian, Gluten-free, and Dairy-free plans available
Our 30 day money back guarantee makes Real Plans RISK FREE!

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What Would Emily Do (7/8) http://holisticsquid.com/what-would-emily-do-0708/ http://holisticsquid.com/what-would-emily-do-0708/#comments Wed, 08 Jul 2015 20:08:46 +0000 http://holisticsquid.com/?p=26040 My inbox runneth over with questions from readers wondering – What would Emily do – about Real food and holistic health topics. I’ve created this Q&A to get your questions answered and for other folks to benefit from the answers too. But before we get started today… SB277 ALERT: If are concerned about the recent […]

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What Would Emily Do? Q&A with Holistic Squid

My inbox runneth over with questions from readers wondering – What would Emily do – about Real food and holistic health topics. I’ve created this Q&A to get your questions answered and for other folks to benefit from the answers too.

But before we get started today…

SB277 ALERT:

If are concerned about the recent bill passed in California that eliminates personal and religious belief exemptions for childhood vaccinations, you may have noticed that I’ve been a bit quiet on the subject.

Not speaking out has been a challenging decision that I made for the privacy of my family and my own need to not engage in conflict.

That said, the passing of SB277 represents a huge loss in personal freedom that I know has left many people disgusted, saddened, and confused about what to do next.

While I will mostly likely not be publicly writing on this subject, I will be addressing questions and concerns about the aftermath of SB277 in an upcoming email for newsletter subscribers only.

If you are not currently receiving my newsletters – click here to subscribe now.

Who am I to know the answers to your questions?

I’m a holistic-minded mom, a sometimes beach bum, a real food foodie, a curious health researcher, and I’ve been practicing holistic and Chinese medicine for over a decade. That said, the answers here are only my opinion, and shouldn’t be construed as medical advice.

If you read something here and have your own wisdom or opinion to add, by all means, please leave a comment so we can all benefit from your experiences and perspective.

Okey dokey! Let’s dive in…

Question 1: Homeopathy and vaccines

Kristine needs help…
I have two biological children ages 3 and 7 that have never been vaccinated. They are very healthy! The dilemma is that I’m a foster parent. In our state (Arizona) we cannot be licensed to take in kids under 5, because our children are not immunized. What really stinks is that there are nearly 8,000 kids in the foster system under the age of 5. Is there a homeopathic “immunization” that might qualify us?

Hi Kristine, thanks for your question. Homeopathic nosodes are not actually immunizations and there is no “system” that would recognize them as an alternative to standard vaccines so this puts you in a tough position as you’ll need to decide whether to vaccinate your kids in order to take on the foster child, or not.

Because they are healthy and a bit older, they may be able to handle the vaccines. If you do decide to get them, I would advise spreading them out as much as possible. There are also measures to take that can reduce the side effects and generally strengthen the body before and after vaccines.

The late Dr. Lauren Feder recommends the following protocol when you are exposed to vaccinations:

On a daily basis for 7 days before and after the shot, give your child the following:

  • Black Currant alternating days with Briar Rose (Gemmotherapy)
  • Vitamin C (less than 2 years of age: 100 mg two times daily – over 2 years old, 250 mg.two times a day)

On the day of the shot homeopathic remedies as follows,

Wishing you the best with this challenging decision.

 

 

Question 2: Gout and dietary changes

Amy needs advice…
My father has gout and is on blood thinners. My mother is so overwhelmed by all the dietary changes she must now make. Any suggestions on foods and remedies to help?

Hi Amy… Conventional diets will tell you to avoid saturated fats, eat plenty of veg and fruits, and avoid inflammatory foods. I would modify that to suggest that you not worry about saturated fats as long as they are coming from high quality sources (grassfed, pasture-raised animals).

Your dad should avoid polyunsaturated vegetable fats such as canola oil, sugar, in particular anything that has high fructose corn syrup, and eliminate alcohol – all of which will exacerbate inflammation. Many claim that a tart cherry juice can be an effective natural remedy.

Overall,  it is really all about getting healthy. It could be an issue of being overweight, or about being super stressed. Have him do some detective work to discover why his body is creating the imbalance, and then take measures to restore the balance.

 

Question 3: Treating thrush from the inside out

Terry wants to know…

What can I do for thrush? I was previously misdiagnosed and not treated properly. I have tried everything and it’s been 3 months. This has been accompanied by burning tongue syndrome and I am so tired….

Hi Terry, you can read about treatments for thrush here. Be sure to keep in mind that as with any chronic condition, it is important to treat your body from the inside out to bring complete and natural healing.

 

Question 4: Natural birth control options

Ariel writes…
I am currently on the pill. I absolutely hate my mood swings and believe that the hormones I am taking must be horrible for me and worry what it will do long term. I wish I could do natural family planning, but it is just too unreliable. I have been researching different methods that could be better. My doctor suggested the NuvaRing, but it is still putting hormones into my body. I love reading up on things, but I would love your opinion.

Hi Ariel, thanks for your question. In my opinion, unfortunately there is no perfect form of birth control.

Natural Family Planning (NFP) can be really reliable if you have regular menstrual cycles and/or you are very diligent about monitoring and paying attention to your body’s signs and symptoms. If done properly, NFP is also least likely to have unwanted side effects.

The copper IUD (no hormones) can unfortunately cause irregular bleeding and painful periods. If had to name the best hormone-based birth control option, based on the experiences of my patients and midwives, the NuvaRing gets the best reviews for minimal side effects, ease, and efficacy.

I wish I had a simpler answer for you! Click here to read the side effects of using hormone related birth control, and how you can try to mitigate its effects.

 

Question 5 – Heat rash or or skin sensitivity?

Erica wants to know…
I’ve been breaking out in what looks like heat rash, but I can’t recall ever having heat rash before. Each time I was in direct sunlight for a while, but I also wore sunblock, and the only areas that broke out were the ones covered in sunblock. I know heat rash isn’t serious, but it’s a little frustrating not knowing why it keeps happening and how I can prevent it. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Hi Erica, thank you for your question. It sounds like you may have a sensitivity to the sunblock and many conventional options are filled with toxic junk. Click here to get an easy recipe to make your own sunscreen. If you want to buy one, this brand uses safe, high quality ingredients.

I also recommend that you address the underlying imbalance which is allowing your body to have this sensitivity in the first place, looking first to digestive health and the state of your nervous system (over-stressed lately?). Take measures to de-stress, avoid any inflammatory foods (processed junk and fake foods), and consider probiotics to support healthy digestive function.

 

Question 6 – Postpartum receding hairline

Anonymous is concerned…
I have recently noticed that I am “balding” or have a “receding hairline” on both sides of my head in the same spot (right on each side from my middle part). I have very thick, wavy hair and this does not run in my family. We eat a traditional diet but not perfect, I have two children under the age of 2 and am breastfeeding the youngest. I don’t know if diet, hormones, or activity could potentially play a role. Please help me if you can. It makes me so self-conscious as I am sure it would most women.

Hey Anon, though not fun, postpartum hair loss is quite normal.

During pregnancy, women don’t always lose hair at the same rate as they do when not pregnant. After baby, receding hairline or bald spots are common. There isn’t really much you can do but ensure you have a nutrient dense diet to support postpartum recovery and healthy hormone balance. Well-sourced animal fats along with a traditional real food diet will all contribute to your recovery. Try to include as much bone broth as possible along with other gelatin rich food  – this book is a great resource.

Read this post to make sure you’re hitting all the essential of a real food diet.

 

Got questions about real food or holistic health and wondering W.W.E.D.?

If you have a question for me, please first use the handy dandy search bar at the top righthand corner of this site. If that doesn’t give you the answers you need, email [questions at holisticsquid dot com].

I can’t guarantee that I will get to every single question, but I will do my best (with a priority for questions that will serve the most of the Holistic Squid community).

Also, keep in mind that I cannot and will not give you medical advice over the internet. It’s inappropriate and unethical. If you want my medical opinion about a health or nutritional issue for you or your child, I take virtual patient consultations on a limited basis via phone or Skype. You can find out more about my distance consultations here.

Got answers not included here?
Please leave them in the comments below!

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Nourishing Sourdough Pancakes http://holisticsquid.com/nourishing-sourdough-pancakes/ http://holisticsquid.com/nourishing-sourdough-pancakes/#respond Tue, 07 Jul 2015 16:16:27 +0000 http://holisticsquid.com/?p=26168 [Emily’s note: You guys! I’m so excited to share Naomi’s recipe for sourdough pancakes – YUM! If you’ve been following along, this is the third post in our sourdough series. Click to read about the health benefits of sourdough and how to make a sourdough starter. Enjoy!] Pancakes are one of those quintessential comfort breakfast […]

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Nourishing Sourdough Pancakes - Holistic Squid[Emily’s note: You guys! I’m so excited to share Naomi’s recipe for sourdough pancakes – YUM! If you’ve been following along, this is the third post in our sourdough series. Click to read about the health benefits of sourdough and how to make a sourdough starter. Enjoy!]

Pancakes are one of those quintessential comfort breakfast foods. Sturdy breakfasts bring to mind sitting around a table full of people, brought together for some occasion. Happy chatter as dishes are passed round the table, silence as the food is tucked into.

For special holidays we often make sourdough pancakes, complete with whipped cream, butter, maple syrup (this one is Emily’s favorite), and berry sauce. How about some bacon or sausages, maybe some scrambled eggs and fresh fruit?

When I was a teen, my grandmother had a bed and breakfast. Morning after morning we cooked pancakes made with freshly ground soft wheat, piling up the soft fluffy rounds until everyone had their fill. Add to that real maple syrup, wild blueberry or huckleberry sauce and a mountain view, and it was a B&B well worth visiting.

As amazing as those pancakes were, I improved upon them when I learned about the benefits of sourdough. Not only does sourdough fermenting the pancakes batter increase the nutritional value, it also makes the pancakes more filling.

The only thing about these sourdough pancakes is that they don’t keep their fluffiness quite as well as conventional white pancakes. I find that they puff up well while cooking but tend to deflate rather quickly. But the superior taste more than makes up for that.

I use almost any flour when making sourdough pancakes, whole grain or white. I’ve used hard wheat, spelt, and rye. Rye will make a very soft but flat pancake; wheat will be the fluffiest. The pancakes pictured are spelt. I’d love to try einkorn flour, an heirloom variety of wheat, but I can’t get it in Slovakia – anyone want to try for me? You can buy einkorn flour here.

Sourdough pancakes ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (100g) sourdough starter (here’s how to make one)
  • 2 cups (250g) flour of choice
  • 1 cup (250 ml) water
  • 2 eggs, preferably from pasture-raised hens
  • 1 teaspoon real salt
  • 4 tablespoon melted butter, ghee, or coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey or other sweetener of choice (optional, but gives pancakes color)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • couple pinches nutmeg
  • Fat for skillet

Sourdough pancakes method

  1. The day or evening before, stir together sourdough starter, flour, and water. Cover and let sit anywhere from 8 – 18 hrs. The longer it sits, the more sour it will be. As this batter is high in water, the sourdough works faster compared to bread dough and does not need to ferment as long. I usually make this in a large bowl and cover with a plate; a lid or plastic wrap will work as well.
  2. When ready to make the pancakes, whisk together eggs, salt, melted butter, and sweetener.
  3. Heat a frying pan over medium-low heat. My favorite for sourdough pancakes is a cast iron skillet. Add just a little fat to thinly cover the bottom, lard or coconut oil is best.
  4. Sprinkle baking soda into egg mixture and whisk. Pour the egg mixture into the sourdough batter and stir with a wooden spoon. It will quickly puff up.
  5. Scoop batter onto pan (I usually use a small ladle) to the desired size. The batter will be somewhat ropey. Let cook until bubbles have come through, then flip. Sourdough pancakes are softer than conventional ones and may need an extra minute on one side before flipping. I find that if they sit too long on the first side they don’t rise as much.
  6. When the second side is browned, take off the pan. Serve with your favorite toppings and enjoy!

Nourishing Sourdough Pancakes - Holistic Squid

You’ll like the Sourdough Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins as well!

 

avatar-e1393106133385The closest Naomi has gotten to her dream farm is growing live bacteria in jars and wrangling her four children, including twins. A Canadian who now lives in Slovakia, Naomi writes about traditions, food, and life in Slovakia (as well as some pretty strange food) at Almost Bananas.

Have a favorite addition or topping for sourdough pancakes?

Tell us about it in the comments below!

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Grilled Peaches and Halloumi http://holisticsquid.com/grilled-peaches-and-halloumi/ http://holisticsquid.com/grilled-peaches-and-halloumi/#respond Fri, 03 Jul 2015 14:36:24 +0000 http://holisticsquid.com/?p=26117 Summertime is my favorite time of year by far, and nothing beats fresh, ripe summer fruit that tastes of the hot sunshine and earth that grew it. This recipe for grilled peaches with halloumi cheese combines some of the best things in life – summer bounty and grillable cheese. YUM. Growing up we grilled the standard […]

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Grilled Peaches and Halloumi - Holistic SquidSummertime is my favorite time of year by far, and nothing beats fresh, ripe summer fruit that tastes of the hot sunshine and earth that grew it. This recipe for grilled peaches with halloumi cheese combines some of the best things in life – summer bounty and grillable cheese. YUM.

Growing up we grilled the standard hot dogs and hamburgers and served them up with ripe summer corn, sliced garden tomatoes, and watermelon for dessert. These days I love the classics (grass fed beef, of course), but I also like to experiment with new things on the grill.

Have you tried my Greek Chicken Burgers with Tatziki yet? They’d grill up great with these skewers of peaches and halloumi.

I first discovered cookable cheese when I moved from Pennsylvania to Malibu and was working in a Greek restaurant that served a flaming cheese dish called Saganaki. MORE YUM.

Various traditional cultures have cheeses with a high melting point, and if you can’t find halloumi (which is readily available at our local Whole Foods) you can substitute Queso Para Frier (“frying cheese”) from a Latin American grocery store. In a bind, you could simply grill the peaches, and serve with fresh feta cheese too.

Topped with fresh mint from our garden, good olive oil, a drizzle of raw honey and a squeeze of lemon – the salty, sweet flavors of the fruit and cheese just pop.

Dukkah is an Egyptian condiment that blends spices with seeds and nuts (here I use sesame and pistachios) but you could use whatever you have on hand. To be honest, the grilled peaches and halloumi are stand out without the dukkah, but the nuts and spices take it up an extra notch – perfect for a special BBQ – maybe this weekend?

Grilled peaches and halloumi ingredients

Grilled peaches and halloumi method

  1. Wash and cut peaches into eighths, removing the pit, but keeping the skin on.
  2. Slice the halloumi into 2 inch cubes.
  3. Skewer alternative pieces of peach and halloumi.
  4. On a medium-hot grill, cook the skewers on one side until the peaches have charred just slightly and the cheese has browned in places, then flip the skewer and cook until the other side is done (about 2-3 minutes per side, depending on the heat of your grill).
  5. Remove the skewers from the grill and place on a serving platter. Drizzle the with olive oil, raw honey, mint, a squeeze of lemon, and a sprinkle of optional dukkah. Serve immediately.

Dukkah spice blend ingredients

  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachios, or nuts of your choice
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns – buy it online
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt – this is my favorite

Dukkah spice blend method

  1. In a dry skillet over medium heat, roast sesame seeds, coriander, and cumin seeds until fragrant, about 2 minutes, taking care not to burn. Set aside.
  2. Roast pistachios about 10 minutes over low heat, then transfer to a plate to cool.
  3. Place the sesame seeds, coriander, cumin, and peppercorns in a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground. Add the pistachios and sea salt and pulse until a sand-like consistency is reached. Don’t over blend or you will make a paste.
  4. Store in an airtight glass jar until ready to use.

This recipe was inspired by My New Roots.

 Grilled Peaches and Halloumi - Holistic Squid

Want more delicious simplicity in your life?

Even for the most organized families, getting healthy and delicious dinner on the table can be such a challenge.

That’s why my hubby and I created Real Plans – our new online meal planner that will revolutionize the way you get dinner on the table.

  • Stuck in a rut with the same old dinners? Our delicious, home-style recipes are kitchen-tested and family-approved.
  • Real Plans on Counter Got special dietary restrictions or tastes? We offer paleo, vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy-free plans in addition to traditional real food menus. Plus you can add and change recipes to your heart’s content.
  • Family of eight or party of one… We’ve got you covered with fully customizable portion sizes.
  • Dread grocery shopping? Our dynamic smart phone app makes shopping a breeze.

Plus handy bonuses like…

  • A weekly timeline to help you spend the least time possible slaving away in the kitchen.
  • Plan ahead options including a month’s recipes in advance, plus a double recipe each week to bank ‘fast food’ in the freezer.

Click here to subscribe to Real Plans now

Traditional, Paleo, Vegetarian, Gluten-free, and Dairy-free plans available
Our 30 day money back guarantee makes Real Plans RISK FREE!

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How to Fall Asleep Faster http://holisticsquid.com/how-to-fall-asleep-faster/ http://holisticsquid.com/how-to-fall-asleep-faster/#comments Wed, 01 Jul 2015 17:00:17 +0000 http://holisticsquid.com/?p=26140 [Emily’s note: While I am great at sticking with some healthy habits, like working out and eating real food, when it comes to getting a good night’s rest, I struggle because I stay up too late for no reason and then regret it the next morning. In this post, fellow acupuncturist Leslie Murphy shares her smart […]

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How to Fall Asleep Faster - Holistic Squid[Emily’s note: While I am great at sticking with some healthy habits, like working out and eating real food, when it comes to getting a good night’s rest, I struggle because I stay up too late for no reason and then regret it the next morning. In this post, fellow acupuncturist Leslie Murphy shares her smart secrets of how to fall asleep faster.]

Zombies may be fictitious, and yet I was convinced that I had become one. I wasn’t one of those blood thirsty, human eating zombies, but I’d definitely ventured into what felt like the land of the Walking Dead due to my insomnia.

More often than not I found that I would morph into an impatient, angry and frustrated zombie. Yet most of the time I was a walk around in a fog all day kind of zombie – forgetful, unmotivated and dead tired.

But at night when my head hit the pillow, I would simply lie awake. Wide awake in fact – watching the minutes and sometimes hours tick by. I was so exhausted and desperate for shut eye, but I could not fall asleep.

After I jokingly told a friend that I resembled a zombie, I realized that it truly wasn’t a joking matter. It was high time for me to take my insomnia seriously and make sleep a priority. In order to return to the land of the living (or at the very least, the highly functioning), I had to figure out how to fall asleep faster.

Getting to the root of my insomnia

In order to figure out how to fall asleep faster, first I had to identify what was sabotaging my efforts.

I chalked up my difficulty falling asleep to three main factors:

  1. Over-thinking – My biggest problem falling asleep was shutting my mind off.  As soon as my head hit the pillow I was either mentally clicking away at tomorrow’s to do list or obsessing over some worry or concern.
  2. Late night cramming –  Once my kids were asleep I would tackle the laundry, clean the kitchen, return emails or start a project for work. My mind was turning up to hyper-drive to get things done when it should have been winding down from the day.
  3. Screen watching – Most nights however I would simply veg on the couch exhausted, escaping into some TV show.  But watching late night TV, filled mostly with violence, left me feeling high strung and stressed out right before bed.

Though these are common contributing factors to insomnia, if you have trouble sleeping there may be other things keeping you awake at night such as anxiety, stress, pain or simply caffeine too late in the day. Before you try to tackle a solution, it will help to figure out your own problem areas first.

How to fall asleep faster:
6 strategies that work for me

Enough was enough.

Sleep medication wasn’t an option for me because I wasn’t interested in just masking the problem. Instead, I implemented the following six changes that now help me fall asleep faster.

1 – Create an effective sleep environment

To start, I made sure that I had set up the best sleep environment possible. For me, this meant:

  • Setting my bedroom thermostat to 70 degrees (not too hot but not too cold)
  • Decreasing the bedroom lights at least one hour before I went to bed
  • Eliminating work or TV in my bed
  • Setting a consistent bedtime
  • Purchasing a comfortable mattress and pillow

It’s been relatively easy keeping work or TV out of the bed. It’s been slightly more challenging sticking to a consistent bedtime, but I’m managing so that my body knows when it’s time to get ready for sleep.

2 – Conduct an end of the day mind dump

Since over-thinking was a major factor in my insomnia, I now plan tomorrow’s to do list after dinner. This seems to help me collect my thoughts at a reasonable hour so that I’m not rehashing the day and thinking about tomorrow at bedtime.

If late night brainstorms still occur, I have a notepad on my nightstand so that I can capture the idea and get back to sleep.

3 – Use guided visualization

Guided visualization has had the greatest impact on my ability to fall asleep. Guided visualization is a mind-body technique that has been shown to decrease stress, reduce pain, alleviate allergies, and yes, improve sleep (source).

I now use this guided visualization before bed if I don’t seem tired or if my brain won’t turn off. After just 15 minutes my body is less tense and I’m drowsy if I haven’t already fallen asleep.

I also never miss one of Oprah and Deepak Chopra’s free 21 day meditation series. Though they are not geared for sleep specifically I like to listen to them at bedtime. I find Deepak’s voice very soothing and the meditations help me to relax.

4 – Set realistic priorities

It finally registered that I could no longer morph into the Tasmanian Devil, working furiously to get “everything” done in the evening. I’ve had to set more realistic expectations and prioritize what I can and cannot do in the evenings so that I have sufficient time to let my body and mind wind down for sleep.

A must for me – having the kitchen table and counters clean by the end of the day. The toy room, living room and even the laundry room just have to wait if they are in complete disarray. Prioritizing has been invaluable as it saves me time and energy at night, plus it makes me happy come morning having at least a clean kitchen.

I’ve also set aside an hour and a half in the afternoon when the kids can keep themselves occupied and I can focus on “must do” work projects or house tasks rather than leaving them to late in the day. I implement this EVERY day during the week without fail as it has really helped me to feel productive and less stressed in the evenings.

5- Unplug and step away from the technology

Once I understood that staring at devices with blue light emissions have been shown to decrease levels of melatonin, the hormone secreted at night to induce sleepiness (source), I have made it a point to power down by 9:30pm (with the exceptions of one 9:00pm show that I watch with my husband and the occasional movie night).

I’ve always been an avid reader so I now rely on books to unwind at the end of the day—no e-reader for me.

Surprisingly, the easiest change to implement has been turning off the tube. I honestly don’t miss TV and I know that I am sleeping better without watching something late at night. Though now I have to watch the clock to make sure that I stop reading and get to bed no matter how invested I get in a story.

It’s been slightly more difficult some nights to turn off my laptop. Running my own business, there’s a never ending list of things to get done but it’s all about striking that work/life balance. Right now, getting a good night sleep is more important than that extra hour of work I could put in at night.

6 – Try magnesium

I still felt like I needed a bit more help relaxing at night to sufficiently fall asleep so I started taking this magnesium supplement before bed. Magnesium helps to relax muscle tension, stimulate melatonin synthesis and deactivate adrenaline, all of which I knew would help me to fall asleep faster (source).

I know that this is helping as I can tell a difference if I forget to take it two nights in a row.

My results

Even though these changes are relatively new, I am already seeing results. Most nights I’m able to fall asleep within 30 minutes. If I have a lot going on at work, I may still have an occasional night when it takes longer since my mind will still be going, but that’s when I pull out the guided visualization.

Because I’m getting more sleep, I find I’m also less impatient and have more motivation.

I do still have days when I’m overtired, but I’m a working mom of two so that goes with the territory–and that’s OK. So I’m happy to say that I’m back in the land of the living, no longer a member of the walking dead. I’ll leave the zombies to TV.

What has helped you fall asleep faster?
Share your tip in the comments!

How to Fall Asleep Faster - Holistic Squid

Leslie - HeadShotLeslie Murphy is a licensed acupuncturist who is passionate about helping others live healthier, stress less, sleep more and become free of pain. Follow her at Balanced Health Acupuncture.

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Homemade Healing Salve With Calendula http://holisticsquid.com/homemade-healing-salve-with-calendula/ http://holisticsquid.com/homemade-healing-salve-with-calendula/#respond Mon, 29 Jun 2015 17:27:40 +0000 http://holisticsquid.com/?p=25959 [Emily’s note: I love a natural healing salve for everything from diaper rash to sunburn to dry skin and chapped lips. Even when it comes to stubborn eczema, it can often help provide relief during the healing process. This recipe that Jamie is sharing with us today is both simple to make and works great…] I’ve never been […]

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Homemade Healing Salve With Calendula - Holistic Squid[Emily’s note: I love a natural healing salve for everything from diaper rash to sunburn to dry skin and chapped lips. Even when it comes to stubborn eczema, it can often help provide relief during the healing process. This recipe that Jamie is sharing with us today is both simple to make and works great…]

I’ve never been the type to sunburn easily, but during our childhood, my brother frequently resembled a lobster during the summer months. Unfortunately my mom didn’t know the wonders of a calendula healing salve. Calendula is my go to herb of choice for soothing and healing skin conditions, and for good reason…

Reasons to love calendula

Also known as pot marigold, this bright orange flower has been used for eczema and psoriasis, mild burns, dry skin, cuts, scrapes, stings and bites, and skin infections. It’s a powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-microbrial, anti-fungal and astringent, making it great for healing wounds. (source)

One of my favorite things about calendula though, is that it’s a very gentle herb. I had no reservations about using it on my son, even when he was a baby. Bye bye diaper rash.

I’ve also worked with dozens of children as a nanny, and unfortunately several of them have had mild to severe eczema. I’ve seen fast and effective results from using this salve on their eczema patches. To keep eczema from coming back though, you have to address the root cause through diet. For more on healing eczema from the inside out, check out Emily’s book The Eczema Cure.

Supercharge your healing salve

To make this healing salve even better, you can add essential oils. I always add lavender essential oil to mine. It’s gentle enough for children, but effective enough for an adult. Frankincense and tea tree are also good choices and generally safe for children.

Lavender is antimicrobrial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and regenerative. It’s been used for wounds, burns, cuts and itchy skin, among many other things. If I could only have one essential oil, it would be lavender.

Tea tree oil has been used for rashes, sunburns and general skin healing. It has antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties. Frankincense is my other favorite skin oil. Its anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and anti-infectious properties make it useful for scar prevention, infections, wrinkles and inflammation.

I personally didn’t have an issue with using certain diluted oils on my baby, but there are differing opinions on this. Shirley Price, a highly qualified aromatherapist, recommends using 8 drops per 1.7 ounces of carrier oil for young children, or 5 drops on infants (source).

My favorite method for making healing salve

There are several ways to make a salve, but the crockpot method is my favorite. While it takes a bit longer, it’s simple and very low maintenance to prepare. It also does a better job of preserving the healing properties of the herbs.

If you’re in a hurry you can also put the herbs on the stove. Although the stovetop method only takes a few hours, you have to keep a careful eye on the herbs, as they can easily burn.

When it comes to choosing an oil, my favorites are coconut, olive oil, or sweet almond. If you choose olive oil, you may find the salve is a fun green color as pictured here. When using coconut oil, you may want to opt for a quality, expeller pressed, refined oil. I’ve not noticed a problem with the unrefined coconut oil leaving a strong scent though, and that’s what I always use.

Homemade healing salve ingredients and supplies

  • Calendula flowers – get them here
  • Coconut oil – get it in bulk (or use olive or sweet almond)
  • Lavender essential oil (optional) – get it here
  • Frankincense essential oil (optional) – get it here
  • Tea tree essential oil (optional) – get it here
  • Beeswax (pellets are super easy to use) – get it here
  • Very clean mason jar and lid
  • A large crockpot – this is the one I have
  • A washcloth or other small cloth
  • Water
  • Small weight (like a rock)
  • Saucepan
  • Small, fine mesh strainer (cheesecloth will also work)
  • Heat safe containers – I like these tins

Homemade healing salve method

  1. Fill the jar half full of dried calendula flowers. (I like to do several different oil infusions at once so I’m not running a crockpot for just one jar.) Pour oil over the dried herbs until the herbs are covered completely, but leave about ½ inch of headspace. Screw the lid on tightly.
  2. Place the cloth on the bottom of the crockpot and then put the jars on top of that. This helps prevent the jars from breaking. Fill the crockpot with water to the tops of the jars. I put a small rock, or other weight on them so they don’t tip over. Turn the crockpot on to the “warm” setting and let the healing salve infuse for 3 days. Add water as it evaporates so that the water remains just below the tops of the jars.
  3. After 3 days, turn the crockpot off and carefully remove the jars. I like using this jar grabber to avoid burning any fingers.
  4. Let the jars cool down until they are cool enough to handle. If you use coconut oil then you’ll have to work with the oil while it’s still very warm, but not burning. Strain the oil through a strainer or cheesecloth and into a measuring cup, preferably glass. Take note of how many ounces there are before pouring the oil into your saucepan.
  5. Put the pan on very low heat and add some beeswax. For every 2 ounces of oil, I like to add 1 tablespoon of beeswax pellets, but it’s not an exact science. I’ll typically add more beeswax in summer since salves like to soften in warm temperatures. Gently stir the mixture with a metal spoon until the wax is completely melted. Be sure that you have the heat on as low as possible to prevent any burning. You can also use a double boiler to be safe, but I’ve found they take much longer.
  6. Test the firmness of your salve. Dip the metal spoon into the salve and place it in the freezer for 1-3 minutes, just long enough for it to firm up. Add more beeswax if the consistency is too soft for you.
  7. Once you’ve added all the beeswax you want, carefully pour the hot salve into your containers. If you’re using essential oils, add them now. I like using a 2% dilution for salves, which is about 10 drops per 1 ounce of oil. You can add 3 drops each of frankincense, tea tree and lavender, or any combination of 10 drops you like.For children, you can dilute it to 5 drops per ounce and 3 drops for infants. Use a toothpick to gently stir the essential oils into the salve. I like adding the essential oils directly to the tins because it makes it easier to measure. Immediately put the lids on the tins so that the volatile plant oils don’t evaporate in the heat. Allow to cool completely and use generously!

What’s your favorite way to use a homemade healing salve?

Homemade Healing Salve With Calendula - Holistic Squid

Jamie Larrison blogs at The Herbal Spoon. She has a passion for herbalism and aromatherapy and creates her own plant-based, safe for the whole family bodycare items for her etsy shop. Learn more about Jamie here.

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