Is Sleep Deprivation Effecting Your Ability to Thrive?

For most people today, life is very fast paced and overloaded. We have packed schedules, pressures to perform at work, pressures to perform at home, relationships to care for, and an overwhelming amount of information to process. How do we keep our heads from spinning off?

Society is moving at an unnatural rate, and to help manage this, we over consume in every possible way. We over consume food, drinks, alcohol, caffeine, artificial light, information, and life experiences. This may work in the short term, but if we constantly rely on outer sources to keep up going, we will eventually crash.

Lack of sleep has the potential to lead to weight gain, loss of mental clarity, depression, and an overall decline of general health. Many people are effected by sleep deprivation and aren’t even aware of it. Often times this is because what we interpret as “rest” really is not rest at all. Leisure activities, recreation, drinking, smoking, and watching television are not forms of true rest. We are in such a constant state of hyperarousal that our bodies and brains have forgotten how to do nothing. This hyperarousal has led to a dramatic incline in the use of sleep drugs, and millions of people suffering from insomnia, sleep apnea, and depression.

The best way to get better sleep is to be mindful of the choices you make throughout the day. You can limit your caffeine and sugar intake, eat a well balanced diet, exercise regularly, and avoid late night snacking. It’s also been shown that creating a peaceful environment does wonders to promote restful sleep. Some ideas are to paint your bedroom a calm color, diffuse soothing essential oils, replace your mattress, clean out clutter, remove electronics, reduce light with black out curtains or an eye mask. and reduce sound with a barrier under your door, such as a towel or white noise machine.

Another key factor in getting efficient rest is to decide on a regular bed time and stick to it. Having a bed time will reduce time spent doing things that can hinder sleep like binge watching tv, eating, or doing busy work, such as checking email and keeping active around the house. As bedtime approaches, try calm activities instead, like yoga, meditation, deep breathing, and, for some, reading works well too. These will all help relax your mind. Although there are people who claim they can function on 4-5 hours per night, 7-9 hours are highly recommended for optimal health and wellbeing. Knowing this, decide your bed time based on the time you have to wake up in the morning.

As you experiment with different methods of sleep and relaxation, I suggest you keep a journal of your results. Record the evening practices performed, the number of hours slept, the quality of sleep, your energy levels the next day, your overall mood, and any other information that may be relevant. Once you learn what works best for your body, you can align your habits to better suit your needs.

Getting on track to better sleep will take time and practice, but the positive effects will ripple across all areas of your life and you will love the results. Never underestimate the power of a good night sleep.

 

pexels-photo-416160.jpeg

 

Wishing you Health & Happiness!

Brittany

 

 

 

Clean Eating 101

pexels-photo-533360.jpeg

Clean eating is one of the simplest ways you can improve your health. But what is “clean eating” exactly? With so many theories on health these days, that is a very good question.

To eat clean is to consume foods that are closest their natural state. This may look different for each individual, but the goal for everyone should be to load up on fresh, whole, unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and limit sugar, highly processed/refined foods, alcohol, and sodium. Some people may choose to include animal products, but overall it is suggested to cut back on meat and dairy.

Here is an example of a clean eating shopping list:

  • apples
  • bananas
  • blueberries
  • strawberries
  • raspberries
  • pears
  • spinach
  • broccoli
  • tomatoes
  • avocado
  • romaine lettuce
  • arugula
  • kale
  • celery
  • cucumbers
  • peppers: red, yellow, orange, green
  • sweet potatoes
  • butternut squash
  • onions
  • cauliflower
  • quinoa
  • rice: brown, wild, jasmine, basmati
  • oats (steel cut or old fashioned)
  • Plant-based milk: almond, coconut, flax, etc.
  • nuts/nut butters: almonds, walnuts, cashews, brazil nuts, pine nuts, etc.
  • seeds/seed butters: pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, chia, flax, etc.
  • oil: olive, coconut, avocado, sesame, flax
  • pasture raised egg
  • pasture raised chicken
  • grass fed beef

I encourage you to buy organic when possible, but definitely focus on the “dirty dozen”. This includes:

  1. strawberries
  2. spinach
  3. nectarines
  4. apples
  5. grapes
  6. peaches
  7. cherries
  8. pears
  9. tomatoes
  10. celery
  11. potatoes
  12. sweet/hot peppers

 

pexels-photo-811101.jpeg

I recommend mainly shopping the perimeter of the grocery store. There is where you will find mostly everything you need, except maybe your oils, grains, nuts, and seeds. The isles can be dangerous because that is where much of the processed, packaged, sugar laden junk foods hang out.

If you are used to eating the Standard American Diet (SAD), this way of shopping may be an adjustment. Once you’ve taken your clean foods home, you may think to yourself, “what do I do with all of this?” Well, I am here to help.

Here are some meal ideas to inspire you on your clean and healthful journey:

Breakfast:

  • steel cut oats with nuts and blueberries
  • green smoothie with almond milk, spinach, cucumber, pear, apple, and banana
  • sprouted whole grain toast with almond butter and sliced banana
  • pasture raised eggs with sautéed spinach and tomatoes

 

pexels-photo-196668.jpeg

Lunch:

  • arugula salad with apple, walnuts, red onion, and avocado
  • quinoa with sliced almonds, shaved carrots, chopped kale, and olive oil
  • rice bowl with roasted butternut squash, brussel sprouts, and dried cranberries

 

food-salad-healthy-lunch.jpg

Dinner:

  • grass fed steak with sautéed peppers and onions
  • baked sweet potato, roasted broccoli, and baked chicken thighs
  • grilled tofu, brown rice, and sautéed spinach

 

pexels-photo-769289.jpeg

Cooking at home will definitely help promote a cleaner way of living. Knowing how your food is prepared in what is in it is crucial for staying on track with your health goals. You may even find you enjoy your food even more when you prepare it yourself! Take your time, enjoy the process, and don’t forget to infuse everything with the most important nutrient – vitamin L, love.

pexels-photo-302081.jpeg

With love and gratitude,

Brittany

 

Carob Apricot Cookies

I am the type of person that often looks forward to something sweet after a meal. I like to enjoy everything in moderation, and I believe that life is all about finding balance.

Enjoying a delicious homemade dessert brings me happiness, and I think allowing myself to enjoy these things guilt free is necessary for my wellbeing.

It is also crucial that I help foster positive feelings around all food groups for my girls while they are young. Girls, especially, are susceptible to having anxious or negative feelings around eating, and I want to do everything in my power to help prevent that.

We bake every week, and I make my girls a part of the process. We talk about the ingredients, where they come from, and what they do for the recipe, and I allow them them to scoop, measure, mix, and get their hands dirty. I have taught them to sweeten their foods with nature’s candies, including whole foods such as bananas, apples, dates, and sweet potatoes, as well as honey, maple syrup, and agave.

Baking at our house is a bonding experience and a time for learning. The girls love eating what they have helped create, and I love that they feel like they’re being treated to something special, but also getting nourished at the same time. It’s a win win!

This recipe was made up after my daughter asked about buying doughnuts at Whole Foods, and I suggested an at home recipe would be better. We winged it, as usual, and the result was so tasty. Hope you enjoy too!

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 1/2 cups oat flour

1 1/4 cups almond flour

1/3 tsp baking soda

1/4 cup carob powder

1/2 cup apple sauce

2 bananas mashed

1/4 agave nectar

1/4 cup almond butter (or other nut butter, softened)

2 flax eggs (2 tbsp flax, 5 tbsp water)

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup apricots

1 cup carob chips

Method:

Preheat oven to 350°.

Add applesauce, mashed bananas, and agave to standing mixer. Now add almond butter, flax eggs, and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, mix all dry ingredients together, then add to wet ingredients and mix well.

Lastly, fold in apricots and carob chips.

Place dollops of batter onto a greased cookie sheet.

Bake for 10-15 minutes.

Wholesome Sweet Potato Muffins

Hello there, welcome back!

Today I created another muffin recipe. They are gluten-free and filled with nourishing ingredients. Unlike conventional muffins, they are packed with fruits, veggies, complex carbohydrates, calcium, protein, iron, vitamins and minerals. They are dee-licious and perfect for the whole family to enjoy!

Here’s what you will need:

2 medium sweet potatoes, baked and cooled

1/2 ripe banana

2 generous handfuls spinach

1/2 cup applesauce

2 flax eggs (2 tbsp flax meal + 5 tbsp water – let sit for 5 minutes)

6-9 medjool dates (soaked in water for about 10 minutes for softer texture)

1 1/2 cups oats (gluten-free in necessary)

1/2 cup teff flour ( you could substitute another GF flour, or use more oats)

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp vanilla extract

pexels-photo-89247.png

For the sweet potatoes:

Preheat oven to 350°.

Clean potatoes and pat dry, then, with a knife, carefully poke holes or make small cuts all around the surface. Place on a sheet pan or directly onto wire rack and bake for 50-60 minutes.

For the muffins:

Preheat oven to 375°.

In a high-speed blender, or food processor:

Combine sweet potato, banana, and spinach.

Add applesauce, flax egg, and dates.

Now add oats, teff, salt, baking soda, baking powder, apple cider vinegar, and vanilla.

Once all blended, add spoonfuls into a 12 cup muffin tin (greased or lined) until equally distributed.

Optional: Top with dark chocolate, berries, chopped nuts, shredded coconut, or cinnamon. (Change up your toppings each time you make them, or top each one with something different to have a wide variety in just one batch!)

Bake for 18-20 minutes, then let cool for 10-15.

Enjoy often 🙂

With love,

Brittany

Nut Free Apricot Granola Bars

If you’re pressed for time in the morning, or frequently find yourself needing a snack to keep you satiated between meals, granola bars are great option.

While there are some store brands that I will have in a pinch, my belief is that homemade is always better because they are fresh and don’t require any preservatives. I often make bulk batches and keep them in my freezer. This saves time and energy and is super convenient.

These bars are loaded with healthy fats and fiber, keeping you fuller longer, and will hopefully deter you from reaching for any not so healthy temptations.

Just a tip before you get started.

You may want to soak your seeds for a few hours prior. Soaking nuts and seeds before consumption will increase digestibility, maximize absorption of nutrients by the body, promote greater enzyme activity, and initiate the sprouting process, which increases nutritional benefits.

Here you go!

Nut Free Apricot Granola Bars:

Preheat oven to 350°

In a large bowl, combine:

1 cup GF old fashioned oats (not quick oats)

1 cup raw sunflower seeds

1 cup raw pumpkin seeds

1/2 tsp salt (optional)

1/4 cup applesauce

1/2 cup agave (honey would also work)

1 cup apricots

Mix well.

Press mixture down into a 9×7 in pan

Bake for 20-25 minutes.

*Let cool for about 30 minutes before cutting to prevent crumbling.

Enjoy!!!

Xo, Brittany

The Mind Body Connection

pexels-photo-325520.jpeg

Self-worth, as defined in the English dictionary, is the sense of one’s own value, or worth as a person; self-esteem; self respect.

Recently, I have come to realize that I have relied on other people to determine my self-worth throughout my entire life. In order to feel confident, happy, and content, I have needed family, friends, and even strangers to affirm all of my accomplishments, big or small, and justify all of the things that do not go as planned. It has been my security blanket and protection from any form of discomfort.

I also have a history of people pleasing. I put the preferences of others ahead of my own and disregard my feelings entirely to avoid upsetting anyone else. Since my self-worth depends on everyone thinking highly of me, I avoid confrontation like the plague.

I never fully felt the effects of this until I became a mom. Suddenly, the attention shifted away from me and onto my children, and it also became harder and harder to please everyone since I was no longer the only person in the equation. I often felt alone, isolated, and that I had lost my identity. I slowly felt my anxiety increasing as time went on, and then I was introduced to the true meaning of depression.

This experience led me to discover that health is not only about the foods that we eat and whether or not we exercise. I eat a very nourishing diet and move my body every day, but while I was feeling mentally defeated, stressed out, and just sub par, it took a toll on my physical health as well.

As a person who suffers from food sensitivities, I noticed that when I was feeling my worst, my symptoms also worsened and new ones developed. My feelings on the inside were directly reflected on the outside. I was having break outs, digestive problems, facial flushing, fatigue, joint pain, weakness, and much more.

Depression effects many people and it can display itself in a variety of ways. Aside from extreme sadness and withdrawal, a person may also experience chronic pain, weight gain, a short temper, skin issues, a loss of focus, feelings of apathy, and may be more inclined to rely on drugs and alcohol.

If you are starting on a path to live a happy and healthier life, I encourage you to take a look at all factors that contribute to your well-being. This may include your job, your relationships, your sleep habits, and physical activity just to name a few. We need to treat our mind, body, and soul as one if we truly want to live abundantly healthful lives.

 

Diet Changes Everything.

It seems that at one point or another, everyone has tried some sort of diet out there. There are so many to choose from – Paleo, Atkins, South Beach, Vegan, Vegetarian, Keto, Gluten Free, The Blood Type Diet, Weight Watchers…the list goes on and on.

The problem with traditional “dieting” is that we are all uniquely different. This concept is referred to as bio-individuality. While one person may thrive on a particular diet, another person may feel sick, have low energy, and experience a host of other issues directly correlated to the foods they are consuming.

We all want to look and feel our best, but it can be challenging and very confusing to determine what dietary lifestyle to follow when so many of the popular diets out there contradict each other.

The best diet for you will depend on many factors. Your age, gender, ancestry, activity level, food sensitivities or allergies, and your specific DNA make up all play a role in determining what should be on your plate.

First, determine why you want to change your diet. Do you want to lose weight? Do you suspect food sensitivities? Are you often tired or run down? Are you experiencing break outs and/or other skin issues? These questions will help determine a starting point. For instance, I find that eliminating dairy dramatically improved my skin, and the elimination of gluten put a stop to my bloat and stomach discomfort.

To figure out what lifestyle will best suit your individual needs, experiment with different ways of eating. In the beginning, it may be helpful to simply eat more vegetables and fruits, less meat, dairy, and sugar, and limit your consumption of alcohol and caffeine.

Remember, these things take time. Be patient with your body, and listen closely to what it is telling you. No one knows you like you do. You are your own best advocate for feeling well and living your best life.

Superfood Chocolate Elixir

You know when midday hits and caffeine and/or a snack is calling your name? Well, for me, this delicious concoction satisfies both.

It’s warm, indulgent, filling, and gives an all natural boost. And it doesn’t come from a packet that you shake into a mug. This is the real deal. The secret to it’s benefits lies in the ingredients: the superfoods. Cacao and maca.

Cacao is one of the most powerful antioxidants on the planet. The list of wonderful things it can do for your health goes on and on, but here are just some of the reasons to add it to your regular diet:

  • Increases mood
  • Reduces hunger
  • Creates energy
  • Prevents heart disease

I don’t need reasons to eat chocolate, but this information definitely encourages me even more.

Keep in mind, to get these benefits it must be in its raw, naturally fermented state, not chocolate with sugar, milk, and other ingredients added. When milk is added, the dairy actually blocks the absorption of the antioxidants.

Maca powder is an ingredient that I love to add to my smoothies and baked goods, especially ones containing chocolate because I love the combination.

Like cacao, the benefits for consuming maca is extensive, but here is the short list:

  • Increases libido
  • Improves mental and physical energy
  • Helps skin health
  • Balances mood and hormones

This food is highly nutritious, but consume it in small amounts. Starting at just 1/2 teaspoon and working your way up to about a tablespoon per day is recommended.

Now for the recipe!

Serves 2.

In a small pot:

  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 2 tbsp cacao powder
  • About 1 tbsp cacao butter
  • 1 tsp maca powder
  • Sweetener of your choice (I used stevia, but honey would also be a great natural option.)

Continue to stir over medium heat with a whisk until all ingredients are incorporated together. Pour into mugs and enjoy!

Xo. Brittany

Double Chocolate Nutter Butter Muffins

I love chocolate. Especially dark chocolate. It’s the one treat that I crave practically everyday. And with so many health benefits, I am happy to give my body what it wants.

These muffins are filled with nutritious ingredients that’ll leave your belly full and your face smiling. Chocolate, peanut butter, bananas…I’m already drooling.

 

Ingredients you’ll need:

2 ripe bananas

1 cup old fashioned oats

3/4 cup almond flour

1/4 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup brown sugar or coconut sugar .

1/2 cup cacao

2 flax eggs (2 tbsp flax, 5 tbsp water, let sit for 5 min)

3/4 cup almond yogurt (I used @kitehillfoods plain)

1/4 cup avocado oil

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

2 tbsp maca powder

1/2 cup cacao chips

Method:

Preheat oven to 375°.

Blend all ingredients in high-speed blender, except for chocolate chips.

Add chips to blender and stir with a spoon.

Spoon batter into a 12 cup muffin tin (lined or greased).

Bake for 20 minutes.

Eat, enjoy, repeat 🙂

img_1274

*I crumbled mine on some banana ice cream for an extra special snack. (ripe bananas in an ice cream/sorbet maker for 20 minutes)

Vegan Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

My kids love sweets – especially anything with chocolate – so I am constantly trying to make recipes that get them excited to eat, while not sabotaging their health. By taking a plant based approach to baking, swapping conventional flours for more easily digestible whole grains, and adding in power packed superfoods, commonly unhealthy options can transform in to nutrient rich meals!

As a mom, I also have limited time and energy. I want quick and simple recipes that do not require a ton of clean up. This recipe requires one appliance – a high powered blender. Once you’re done, simply add a little soap and water and blend your blender clean. It’s that easy!

These muffins are a crowd pleaser at my house – we eat them for breakfast and also enjoy them as snacks. Batches are gone within a few days, so I find myself making them over and over again! They are also great for play dates 🙂

Here’s what you need:

  • A blender
  • 2 bananas
  • 1/2 cup coconut yogurt (dairy yogurt could also be substituted)
  • 2 cups old fashioned oatmeal, or steel cut oats for heartier muffins (gluten free if necessary)
  • 2 vegan “eggs” (I currently use Namaste foods egg replacer, but you could also use flax eggs – 1 tbsp flax to 2.5 tbsp water per egg – let sit 5 mins)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 4 tsp Maca Powder (the secret superfood ingredient – optional, but gives a unique nutty flavor, while also packing a nutritious punch)
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 6-8 medjool dates
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (for highest nutritional benefit be sure chocolate doesnot contain milk, as milk interferes with the absorption of the great antioxidants found in cocoa)

Place all ingredients in blender, exceptthechocolate chips. Add those last and incorporate into batter with spoon.

Fill a 12 cup muffin tin and bake at 375° for 18 minutes.

These are so delicious as is, but sometimes I like to mix it up.

Some things I’ve tried:

  • top them with a nut butter you love
  • break them apart and throw in a smoothie or yogurt bowl
  • Cut in 1/2 and top with bananas or another favorite fruit

I hope that you enjoy!!

xo Brittany