Paleo Fruit and Nut Granola

I recently created this recipe out of breakfast boredom. It immediately became a favorite staple in my house and I hope it will be a favorite in yours too. You can increase the recipe and make up most of the ingredients (minus the apple and milk) ahead of time to use as needed; just keep it in an air-tight glass container. This delicious Paleo granola is packed full of nutrient-dense goodness with plenty of protein, fiber, and complex carbs to start your morning off right.

Serves 1-2

  • 1/2 apple, cored
  • 1/4 cup raw pecans
  • 1/4 cup dry roasted or raw cashews
  • 1/4 cup roasted hazelnuts
  • 1/4 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
  • 1/8 cup raisins
  • 1/8 cup dried cranberries (look for apple juice sweetened varieties to avoid processed sugar)
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk (optional, but highly recommended)

Chop the apple and nuts into small, bite-sized pieces and add to a bowl. Mix in the raisins, cranberries, and coconut. Eat as is, or serve with a bit of non-dairy milk. My current favorites are So Delicious Cashew Milk and the unsweetened variety of Milkadamia macadamia nut milk.

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Self-Care During the Holidays

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The holidays can be hectic and stressful for a lot of us, but don’t forget to carve out some time for yourself to rest, rebalance, and restore.

And if your mind draws a blank when it comes to ideas, here is a great article on Hygge (a Scandinavian word to describe coziness and moments of small comforts) to get you started. Why not challenge yourself to 30 days of hygge this winter?

Vegetarian Yellow Lentils with Ginger and Cumin (Dal)

Dal is an Indian lentil stew that is delicious for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Crisp Autumn days have me craving warm and hearty meals and this recipe is perfect! Dal also has amazing health benefits. The split peas are a heart healthy source of fiber and the spices (turmeric, ginger, cumin, coriander, and fennel) are anti-inflammatory and support healthy digestion.

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Serves 4-6

  • 1 cup yellow split peas
  • 5 cups water
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 2 small red potatoes, chopped
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbs organic unrefined coconut oil
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp whole cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp whole fennel seeds
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 3 handfuls of baby spinach
  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2 small tomatoes, diced
  • Juice of ½ lemon

Bring the water, split peas, and turmeric to a boil in a large stock pot. Once it’s come to a rolling boil, turn down the heat and cover. Allow the split peas to simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are soft but not falling apart.

In the mean time, heat the oil in a large pan on medium heat. Sauté the onion, cumin seed, fennel seed, and ginger for 5 minutes or until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the potato and carrot, salt and pepper, ground spices, and the onion/spice mixture to the pot of lentils and simmer 20 minutes more. Add the spinach and cook about 5 minutes until the spinach is wilted. Turn off the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Garnish each serving with chopped tomatoes and cilantro, and serve warm.

Paleo Cumin Spiced Cauliflower Fritters with Ginger Cilantro Chutney

paleo-gluten-free-caulifoler-frittersI love these Paleo cauliflower fritters for a nice change to my typical breakfast routine. When I’m busy it’s easy to get into recipe ruts, eating the same eggs and veggies every day for breakfast. These fritters are perfect to make ahead and then eat throughout the week when I’m craving something flavorful and filling. And they make a great afternoon snack paired with a cup of hot tea! The chutney is super easy to make and also goes well with other foods like grilled meats and roasted veggies.

Makes 6 fritters

Paleo Cumin Spiced Cauliflower Fritters

  • 1 medium head cauliflower
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds, whole
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds, whole
  • 1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds, whole
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper, ground
  • 2 Tbs coconut oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 Tbs coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup almond flour

Note: If you can’t find whole spices at your local grocery store you can find them online or substitute ground spices instead.

“Rice” the cauliflower using a food processor or box grater. Using a metal steamer basket in a large pot filled with 1 inch of water, steam the cauliflower for 5 minutes. Allow the cauliflower to cool.

Melt 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in a large heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the ginger, cumin, fennel, and mustard and cook for 5 more minutes.

Once cool, scoop the cauliflower rice into a large piece of cheese cloth and squeeze out all the excess water. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and combine with the onion and spice mixture and the rest of the ingredients.

Melt 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in a large heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat. Form the cauliflower mixture into 6 small patties. Cook the fritters, covered, for about 4 minutes on each side until they are golden brown. Serve hot with Fresh Ginger Cilantro Chutney.

Fresh Ginger Cilantro Chutney

  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1 jalapeno, stemmed and minced
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 Tbs lime juice
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 2 dates, pitted
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 Tbs coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup water

Soak the pitted dates in a small bowl with the water for about 5 minutes to soften. Add the dates and the soaking water to a blender or food processor. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until well combined. This chutney will keep in the refrigerator for about 5 days.

 

Loving Kindness: Shining Light on the Shadows

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I have heard from many people in the past few weeks who are struggling with significant fatigue and depression. Although these feelings are common any time of year, they seem particularly heightened lately. I suspect that this has to do with many factors afoot in the world right now.

In Autumn, as the days get shorter and the nights get longer, it is naturally a time of going inward. As we watch the seasons change and the abundance of spring and summer fades into the stillness of winter, we can be reminded of our own mortality and the fragility of life. And in the stillness when we reflect on our lives, we might not always like what we see. When our expectations for ourselves and others do not align with reality this can cause great stress.

We are also nearing the end of a bitter election season, where much ugliness and turmoil has been brought to the surface. As we wait to see what is in store for our country, there seems to be a great deal of fear and distrust on all sides.

Now, more than ever, it is a good time to work on understanding, accepting, and ultimately transforming shadows. Shadows are those parts of ourselves that we dislike, the parts that embarrass us, the parts that frighten us. These shadows are also seen in the larger world in the form of hatred and violence. One of my favorite ways to deal with shadows is with a practice called Meta, also known as Loving Kindness Meditation. This is a wonderful way to shine light on ourselves, our loved ones, and even those we may consider enemies.

Top 10 Herbs for Healthy Kids

Looking for alternatives to over the counter pain relievers, decongestants, and cough syrups? Herbal remedies have been safely used for thousands of years to treat common ailments from cold and flu to upset stomach. Herbs can be especially great for kids, but not all herbs are safe for children. Children are more sensitive to medications than adults and respond well to gentle and mild remedies. Here are a list of my 10 favorite herbs to have in your family’s medicine closet.

1. Chamomile

chamomile-flowersChamomile (Matricaria chamomilla, Matricaria recutita) is a star children’s herb and has historically been used for everything from colds, teething, colic, indigestion, restlessness, anxiety, and irritability. It is the perfect herb for cranky infants and toddlers who are in pain and can’t get to sleep. Chamomile has a mild sweet flavor with just a hint of bitterness. It is the bitter flavor that helps to relieve gas pain and digestive upset. Chamomile tea is readily available from many grocery and natural health stores. A small amount of honey can be added for children over 12 months to make the tea even tastier. Chamomile tea is generally considered safe, even in infants. However, because Chamomile is in the Asteraceae (i.e. daisy) family, it should not be given to anyone with an allergy to other species in this family.

2. Echinacea

Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea angustofolia) is a superb immune herb and can be used both internally and topically to treat and prevent infections. Echinacea is most useful for treating infections when used at the first sign of illness. For prevention, smaller doses of Echinacea can be given during the entire cold and flu season. Since it is a very common herb, you can find Echinacea in tea, tincture, glycerite, and chewable tablet form. You can also use Echinacea tea or tincture to clean cuts and scrapes, although if you think a wound is infected or if the wound was caused by a bite (human or animal) you should seek medical attention.

3. California Poppy137_1050

California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica) is a very gentle and safe herb to calm the nervous system. It is useful for restlessness, ADD/ADHD, pain, and sleeplessness. Although related to other types of poppies, California Poppy does NOT contain opium. California Poppy is best used in children over the age of 2 years.

4. Peppermint

Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) is a tasty medicinal and culinary herb. It aids digestion, relieves gas pain, and can slow diarrhea. It can also be used to soothe fever. Peppermint is best used in children over the age of 2 years.

5. Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm (Melissa Officinalis) has a refreshing lemon mint flavor and is calming to both the digestive and nervous systems. It can be useful for colic, stomach upset, restlessness, irritability, and fever. It combines well with Chamomile.

6. Elderberry

elderberriesElderberry (Sambucus nigra) is a powerful immune booster and natural anti-viral. Because it is also a food, it is gentle enough to take daily during cold and flu season to prevent illness. Studies have even shown Elderberry to be effective at fighting the H1N1 flu virus (aka “Swine Flu”). Elderberry has a sweet, pleasant, fruity flavor and is tolerated well by most children. Syrup of the cooked fruit is my favorite way to take this amazing medicine, although it is also found in other forms including tablets, tinctures, and powdered drinks.

7. Calendula

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Calendula (Calendula officinalis) is a perfect herb to have in your first aid kit. It is very soothing to the skin and also helps to reduce inflammation and kill germs. Calendula is often used for healing diaper rashes, minor burns, and cuts and scrapes. Calendula tincture can be applied topically to small wounds. For sensitive or very irritated skin, you can use a calendula cream or salve.

8. Mullein

Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) is a common plant found growing wild in many gardens and roadside areas. The oil of mullein leaves and flowers is amazing for relieving the pain of ear aches. Commercial preparations of mullein oil often have added garlic and/or St. John’s Wort to improve effectiveness. The oil should be warmed before putting a few drops into the ear canal and nothing should ever be put into the ear if the ear drum has ruptured. If in doubt, always see your doctor for any suspected ear infection.

9. Thyme

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is a lovely respiratory herb that is also anti-microbial (i.e. it kills germs). The fresh or dried herb can be made into a tea to relieve congestion or you can add a few drops of essential oil to a humidifier. Note: essential oils should be used with caution around children under 2 years of age or anyone with respiratory issues like asthma. They should never be given internally at any age without first consulting a licensed physician.

10. Nettle Leaf

stingingnettleThe leaves of the stinging nettle plant (Urtica dioca) are high in protein and minerals, nourishing many systems in the body. Freeze-dried nettles or strong nettle tea can also be effective for relieving seasonal allergy symptoms, since it acts as a mast-cell stabilizer, reducing the release of histamine in the body. If collecting your own nettles, make sure they are from a clean location because this plant can absorb heavy metals from the soil.

 

Although the herbs mentioned above are generally regarded as safe, every child is different and no medication, herbal or otherwise, is right for every body. Talk with a qualified naturopathic physician or holistic medical doctor about appropriate herbs and dosages for your child’s age and weight and health conditions.

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Herbal Definitions:

  • Tea: Herbs steeped in hot water to extract the taste and medicinal properties. For bulk herbs, use 1 heaping tablespoon in 8 oz of boiling water.
  • Tincture: A medicinal liquid herbal extract made from steeping plant material in alcohol and then straining.
  • Glycerite: A non-alcoholic liquid herbal extract made from vegetable glycerine. Many children’s formulas are glycerites rather than tinctures. Glycerites have a naturally sweet flavor.
  • Syrup: A concentrated extract made by boiling juice with added sugar or honey.
  • Salve: A thick ointment used to promote healing of the skin. Salves often contain oils, herbal extracts, and beeswax and are for topical use only.

Selected Resources for Further Reading:

 

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The Equinox and Striving for Balance

FallEquinox2016.pngToday is the Autumn Equinox and it has me thinking about balance.

The equinox is a single moment in time, which occurred today at 7:21am PST. The equinox happens twice a year and it is the moment when the Sun shines directly on the Equator and the length of daylight and nighttime darkness is equal.

Similarly, balance is not a quality that we can reside in, because it can never really exist for more than a moment. Whether we are talking about balancing lightness and darkness, happiness and sadness, health and sickness, or strength and weakness; we may strive for balance but it often seems just out of reach. Cultivating balance is a life-long practice and it requires patience, and ultimately compassion and forgiveness. We will never find a state of perfection and so we must keep moving forward toward an ever-changing target, always adapting to a new reality and letting go of our past expectations.

Easy Chicken Tacos with Swiss Chard and Mushrooms

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Want an easy go-to recipe for healthy weeknight dinners? These delicious and flavorful chicken tacos are bound to be a new family favorite. Swiss chard is packed with beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin K, and magnesium; and since it picks up the flavor of the salsa it’s cooked in, it’s a sneaky way to eat more veggies.

Makes 4-6 servings

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/3 cup crimini mushrooms, washed and sliced
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 bunch swiss chard
  • 4 tsp unrefined coconut oil
  • 1 14 oz container fresh mild salsa (usually found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store)
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese (optional)
  • 1 package corn tortillas

sauteed-chardSeparate the chard stems from the leaves. Chop the chard stems into small, 1/4 inch slices. Set the leaves aside. In a large skillet, heat 2 tsp of the oil over medium heat.  Add the chicken breasts and sear, approximately 5 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside onto a plate. Add the remaining oil to the skillet along with the chard stems, mushrooms, and onion and sauté for 5 minutes or until they begin to soften. Add the chicken back to the skillet. Pour in the salsa, making sure to cover the chicken. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure the salsa doesn’t burn. In the meantime, roughly chop the chard leaves into 1/2 inch pieces. Flip over the chicken breasts and allow to simmer, covered, for 8 minutes more. Add the chard leaves to the skillet and continue cooking for 2 more minutes. Turn off the heat and carefully shred the chicken using a knife and fork. Stir together the mixture and spoon over warmed tortillas. Sprinkle a small amount of feta on each taco before serving.

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Delicious Paleo Chocolate Truffles

 

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Got chocolate cravings? Try this recipe for amazingly decadent yet wonderfully healthy chocolate truffles. Best yet, they’re Paleo, dairy-free, and gluten-free. Once you make the basic recipe you can experiment with different flavors by substituting the vanilla extract with other flavored extracts like peppermint, almond, or orange. You can also try rolling the truffles in finely chopped almonds, pecans, or walnuts to garnish.

Makes about 30 truffles

Basic Truffle Recipe

  • 8 oz. unsweetened 100% chocolate pieces
  • 1/2 cup canned coconut milk
  • 4 Tbs raw honey
  • 1 Tbs pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt

For Chocolate Coconut Truffles

  • 1/3 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

For Spicy Cinnamon Chocolate Truffles

  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne powder

To make the basic truffle recipe use a hot water bath method to melt the chocolate. If you don’t have a double boiler you can nest a smaller pot inside of a large pot. Fill the large pot with about 2 inches of water and heat over low. Add the chocolate pieces, coconut milk, vanilla, and salt to the small pot and heat gently until completely melted, stirring often with a wooden spoon. Once melted, add in the honey and remove the pot from the heat. Transfer the chocolate mixture to a small bowl and let cool in the fridge until it is firm (about 60-90 minutes).

Once the chocolate has set, get your other ingredients ready. If you are making the coconut truffles place the shredded coconut on a small plate. If making the spicy cinnamon truffles then mix together those ingredients and spread on a small plate.

Using a spoon or melon baller, scoop out a small amount of chocolate mixture. Roll the mixture using clean hands to form a small ball. Roll the ball of chocolate in the coconut or spicy cinnamon so that all sides are covered and set aside. Continue until all of the chocolate has been used. The truffles can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week (but they likely won’t last that long!).

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Naturopathic Pediatrics: Holistic Health for Kids and Families

I am excited to announce that I am now a contributing writer for the wonderful website Naturopathic Pediatrics! Naturopathic Pediatrics is an online resource filled with natural health tips for the whole family, all written by licensed naturopathic doctors who are experts at treating children with natural medicine. If you haven’t checked it out yet, please do! You are bound to find lots of useful information from how to treat fevers without Tylenol to how you can safely use essential oils with your child. And while you’re there you can read my latest article, “MTHFR: The Link Between ADD/ADHD, Folate, and Genetics“. Find out why issues with folate metabolism may play a key role in managing ADD and ADHD in kids and adults.

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