How to Figure Out What Dairy to Buy

How to figure out what dairy to buy                    

It can be very overwhelming and confusing when you are trying to figure out what kind of dairy to buy at the grocery store.  There are a lot of different options! Some labels say natural, others say healthy. I have broken it down to 4 different options and I look for these key words on the label – no added hormones/antibiotics, organic, and grassfed. 

You can basically break it down into 4 different choices.

1.  conventional dairy

     - typically given antibiotics, hormones, and feed grown with pesticides

2.  non hormone/non antibiotic  dairy

     - the label might read “cows not treated with rBGH or rBST growth hormone”

     - animals were never given hormone treatments

3. organic

    - look for “100% organic” or “USDA organic” on label

    - no antibiotics, hormones are given to the animals

    - no exposure to artificial pesticides or GMO’s

    - animals are given organic feed

    -  animals must be allowed access outdoors.  

4.  grassfed

     - no antibiotics or added growth hormones are given to animals

     - animals are fed grass and forage

     - animals must have continuous access to pasture during the growing season

Raw dairy milk is actually one more option.  But it is not legal to buy raw milk in all states.  It is not legal in North Carolina where we live. 

What do I buy?

I used to be intolerant to dairy and could not eat if for about 2 years.  My body can handle dairy again. I actually have more energy with adding animal protein back into my diet.  But I am very careful about what dairy I put into my system.  I only purchase organic or grassfed dairy for two reasons.  The first reason is I want to stay away from the added growth hormones/antibiotics. . RBGH and rBST are genetically engineered growth hormones given to animals to increase milk production. My body does not do well with anything genetically modified. The added hormones cause breakouts, PMS, fatigue, and much more.  The second reason I buy organic or grassfed dairy is because of what the animals are given to eat. Conventional and just non hormone (not organic) dairy animals are fed genetically modified corn.  And again, my body does not do well with genetically modified foods in my system.  So it is important to me to buy organic and grassfed dairy.

What should you buy?

I would suggest staying away from conventional dairy – especially if you are a woman.  Who needs any extra hormones? Look for the hormone free or not treated with rBST labels.  And if it is important to you to avoid all GMO’s then look for organic and grassfed dairy options. 

Your food budget:

Organic and grassfed dairy are more expensive that conventional and non hormone.  Look for items on sale and then buy multiples and stock up.  You can also make homemade yogurt. It is super easy and does not have the extra additives that are in regular yogurt at the store. Your health is so important so it is worth it to budget a little more for quality dairy products.



Are GMO's bad?

What is a gmo?

GMO stands for genetically modified organism.  These are plants and animals that have had their DNA disrupted and altered. They are crossbred with other plants and animals viruses and bacteria. 

Why do some people/organizations say that gmo’s are good?

- Gmo crops are resistant to herbicides and pesticides and bugs.

- foods can be manipulated to add more nutrients

- increased production of food which can be given to people in 3rd world countries

Why are gmo’s bad?

- The FDA has not done testing on the safety of gmo’s. That means that they do not know what long term effects gmo’s could be having on our bodies.

- Gmo’s are not the same product.  Gmo corn is not the same makeup as non-gmo corn.  Your body likes real food and it knows that gmo’s are not something found in nature.   Therefore if you eat gmo’s, your body can look at gmo’s as toxins or an allergen, which leads to inflammation, which leads to sickness.  

- Gmo’s can lead to the creation of super weeds.  Which would then mean more pesticides.

What should we buy at the grocery story?

- Buy organic or foods with the “non-gmo project verified” label. 

- Stay away from processed foods, unless it it has 5 ingredients or less and you can pronounce all of the ingredients.  More than 80% of processed foods contain gmo’s.

- The 4 biggest gmo crops in the United States are corn, soy, canola, and cottonseed.  Try and avoid products with these ingredients, unless they have a label of organic or non-gmo.  If you are especially sensitive, keep in mind many items are made from corn such as vinegar.

- When buying fruits and veggies, read the code on the sticker.  Stay away from produce that has a 5 digit code beginning with #8. These are genetically modified.  A 5 digit code beginning with #9 has been organically grown. And a 4 digit code means the produce was conventionally grown and sprayed with pesticides. 

GMO’s in other countries

- Gmo’s have been determined unsafe and banned in more than 60 countries around the world.  Some of these countries include Australia, Japan, and those in the European Union. 

GMO labeling in the future

.  There are ongoing political battles concerning the future labeling of all foods that contain gmo’s Hopefully someday soon all food will have a label that is more transparent and lets us know exactly where that food originated.

Is Coffee Healthy?

Is coffee healthy? Some people say yes and some say no.

There are many benefits to drinking coffee. It provides antioxidants and nutrients. Americans get more antioxidants from coffee than anything else.  It can even lower the risks of some types of cancer and type II diabetes.  The caffeine gives you energy and ups your production and just makes you feel happy.

Coffee can also be bad for you.  Non quality coffee beans can be full of toxins and pesticides.  The caffeine messes with your metabolism and cause a rush in blood sugar and then a crash.  It is not good to add a large amount of sugar and creamer to your coffee.  You also have to be careful with coffee if you are celiac or gluten sensitive. There could be cross contamination with coffee beans and grains.  

So do I drink coffee?  Yes.  I was actually intolerant to caffeine and could not drink it for a few years.  Now that I can have it again, I really appreciate a good cup in the morning.  But I would not drink just any cup of coffee.  I find quality beans, preferably organic.  I add gelatin (from grassfed cows) for protein. This added protein helps keep my blood sugar more stable.  I also add coconut oil and butter.  I know this sounds gross!  But it is actually really smooth and creamy.  Here is the recipe to just try it!

1 cup of coffee

1 tbsp gelatin (from grassfed cows)

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 tsp organic grassfed butter

¼ tsp vanilla

Mix all ingredients in blender.

Let us know if you like it!


Eating Out with Food Allergies/Sensitivities

I used to love going out to eat- trying new foods, not having to cook, and socializing with friends.

Then I was diagnosed with food sensitivities. Going out to eat was no longer fun. It became very stressful and caused a lot of anxiety. I discovered I had food sensitivities before the gluten free menu was in so many restaurants.  But even when you follow a gluten free menu and ask lots of questions, there can still be cross contamination. I am so sensitive that if the waiter touches some bread and then hands me a fork, the gluten will transfer to my hand and get into my system. 

I have have had to change my mindset about going out to eat. I no longer go to a new restaurant to try new food. I am going to socialize and enjoy the atmosphere. Sometimes I even eat before I go out and just order a water. I am obliviously less tempted to order something when I am full. This used to be difficult but now I'm just used to it. I also bring snacks in my purse in case I do get hungry.

I do research before I go out to eat. I google different restaurants menus online.  There are many restaurants that have all of the ingredients typed out online and info about specific allergens. 

I order the simplest dishes. I do not order dressing and sauces or even gluten free pasta because I do not know all of the ingredients used. I order a lemon to squeeze over foods or plain oil and vinegar. 

I ask a lot of questions about the ingredients in a meal and how it is cooked. I also ask for replacements or substitutions. I am finding waiters and waitresses are becoming much more knowledgeable about food allergies/sensitivities. 

I really enjoy cooking. So most of the time I invite friends and family over to my house. Then I can control the ingredients and where the food comes from. But sometimes it is a nice treat to eat out. I just try and make sure I am prepared. 

Your Kids Are Watching

Just in case you didn't already know, let me tell you a little secret. Your kids are watching your every move. And you are their role model. And they're taking it all in!

I know this for certain because of some recent comments that my older daughter has made.

They went something like this:

"Ugh, why do you have to be a health coach? I just want to eat unhealthy snacks" and 

"I see you got a new 'Simply Healthy' tote bag. I bet you're gonna keep your essential oils and healthy snacks in it".

But, she said these things with a half smile and a glimmer in her eye and most of the time she requests things like apples and cashews for snacks in the afternoon. She also stays active doing things that she loves and she loves to cook and bake with me.

So, she's watching and taking in what I say but also what I do and my attitude about what I do. I think  my most important job is to keep making healthy choices for myself and for my family with a positive attitude because I know that my girls are watching and learning. There are a few areas around this that I focus on and I'm sharing them below. 

1. Present a new healthy food up to 7 times. Do this in a variety of ways to keep it interesting. Eat the food yourself and don't worry about or comment on whether or not your kids eat it.

2. Ask your children to help you make your grocery list and to help you find the items at the store. Talk to them on their level about why you choose what you choose.

3. Ask your kids to help prepare meals. Cooking, baking and serving. It's all good.

4. Stay active. Individually and as a family. 

5. Leave wiggle room. We follow the 80/20 rule. We eat as healthy as we can 80 percent of the time and leave 20 percent for "other".

I love that my children are watching me make these daily choices. I hope that I can influence them in a positive way toward a life of health and wellness.


*How about you? What are some things that you do to inspire wellness in your family?

Is Sugar Toxic?

Do you remember the low fat craze of the 1980’s?  Butter was replaced with I Can’t Believe Its Not Butter, there were no fat Pringles, no fat cream cheese, even no fat cookies.  Taking away unhealthy fats can be a good thing.  The problem with the low fat craze of the 80’s is that when the fat was taken out, the foods didn’t taste as good.  So that’s when companies started adding sugars to make things taste better. Now most processed foods have tons of sugar in them.  Sugar is in spaghetti sauce, ketchup, cereals, milk and sports drinks. It was after the low fat craze of the 80’s – when sugar became one of the top ingredients for all processed foods – that the rates of heart disease and obesity began to rise.   

Foods with sugar taste delicious.  But your body actually starts craving the sugar. Dopamine is a hormone in your brain that makes you feel happy.  It is released when you eat sugar. Therefore you feel happy when you eat sugar.  Our bodies like this feeling and begin to crave the sugar that makes us feel so good.  Sugar is as addictive as cocaine.  

Your body looks at all sugars the same way. It looks at high fructose corn syrup the same as cane sugar.  Your body metabolizes sugar differently than other foods, so sugar has a different effect on the body.  Most foods are metabolized by all cells in the body.  But sugar is metabolized mostly by the liver. With too much sugar intake, the liver becomes overloaded and turns the sugar directly into fat. This fat turns into cholesterol, increases your insulin, and increases your chances for disease.   

Genetically modified foods are not good for your body. Sugar beets are one of the top genetically modified crops.  So if you are eating products with “sugar” as an ingredient then it is most likely genetically modified.  “Cane sugar” is in ingredient to look for because it is not usually genetically modified. Any sugar labeled organic will not be genetically modified.   

So what do we do?  First of all take out all artificial sweeteners from your diet.  These are ingredients such as aspartame and saccharin and sucralose. Try to totally avoid artificial sweeteners. Second, chose less refined sugars like honey, maple syrup, and coconut sugar over more processed sugars.  But only eat these in moderation! The World Health Organization recommends eating less than 6 teaspoons of sugar a day.  Third, read the labels and don’t buy foods with unnecessary added sugar.   

We all need a sweet treat at times.  But it is good to be aware and try and make the best choice.

Can Youn Retrain Your Tastebuds Not to Love Sugar?

Long ago the cavemen were naturally attracted to sweets like fruits and berries. When something tasted sweet it meant that it was safe to eat. So humans actually have it in them to be naturally attracted to sugar. 

Unfortunately now a days food companies have used this natural attraction to sugar to their advantage.  Sugar is in almost all processed foods.  People are literally addicted to sugar and many go into withdrawal when they don’t have their usual daily sugar amount. 

It is possible to retrain your taste buds and not desire sugar so much. It is probably easiest to slowly fade out the amount of sugar that you are consuming. The amount of sugar that you put in your morning coffee is a good example. Let’s say that you have been putting 2 tsp sugar in your coffee.  Make a plan to fade out the amount of sugar that you are adding to your coffee.  On Monday use 2 tsp, Tuesday use 1.75 tsp, Wed use 1.5 tsp, etc. Each day just use less and less sugar.  Try replacing artificial sugars for natural sugar like honey or coconut sugar. Or experiment with different flavors like vanilla or peppermint.

Fading out sugar and retraining your taste buds takes time. Eventually your taste buds get used to the reduced amount of sugar and it actually will not taste good to eat something with processed sugar or even high amounts of natural sugar. It becomes too sweet. 

If you are craving something sweet you can try and curb the craving by eating a piece of fruit.  Carrots and beets are sweeter veggies that can also curb a sweet craving.  They are good as a natural sweetener in a smoothie.  You can also get your taste buds excited about new spices as a replacement for the sweet taste.  Ginger, cumin, peppermint, and different mixtures of curry powder can get your taste buds excited. 

It does take some time, but you can retrain your taste buds  to like other spices and foods even more than sugar.  You will also just feel better eating less sugar.

Should I Be Eating/Drinking Bone Broth?

What is bone broth? There are three different versions of stocks/broths. Bone broth simmers the longest, and allows the most nutrients to be transferred from the bones.

            Broth: simmered 45 minutes to 2 hours

            Stock: simmered 3-4 hours

            Bone broth:  simmered 24 hours

There are many benefits to eating bone broth.  The collagen in bone broth helps support healthy hair, skin, and nails. The gelatin and glutamine benefit your gut lining.  (When your gut lining is compromised, food allergies/sensitivities can develop.) The amino acids glycine, proline, and arginine help reduce inflammation. And glucosamine helps support joints. It is even said that the collagen helps cellulite!

Many people drink their bone broth plain.  But I prefer to use it in cooking. Bone broth can be used as a base for sauces and soups. You can also use it to cook veggies or rice or pasta. 

It is easy to buy bone broth in a box at the store now. Buying bone broth can be okay, but make sure you read the label. I have seen many store bought versions that have added sugars. It is also very easy to make your own bone broth at home. It costs less to make your own bone broth and then you control the ingredients and quality of meat. If you get it into your routine, it is actually super easy.  Most Sunday nights I roast a chicken and then immediately use the bones to make a broth. It simmers until Monday, and then I make a soup to eat for the week.


Recipe for chicken bone broth

bones from a whole roasted chicken (organic or hormone free)

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

filtered water

salt and pepper

optional: veggies of choice

Put all ingredients in crock pot. Add water and fill to the top.  Simmer for about 24 hours. Strain the broth. For long term storage: pour in silicone molds and freeze. Once frozen, pop out of mold and store in airtight container in freezer.

I cook a lot of soups with bone broth. I know that my body does well with animal products. Bone broth has helped heal my body from the damages from food allergies/sensitivities. But if your body does better with vegetarian foods or you are vegan, try making a veggie broth!



Whole Food Snack Ideas Using a Dehydrator

I find that making meals from scratch is not so difficult.  I mix up a meat and a few veggies, and sometimes a sauce. I try to keep it simple! It is making snacks that is way more difficult when you are trying to stay away from the pre-packaged foods. So my husband got me a dehydrator for my last birthday.  There are many simple recipes to make food in the dehydrator using real foods.  And dehydrated foods will keep fresh for long periods of time. 

My favorite snack from the dehydrator is kale chips.  I make about 2 batches each week because we eat them up so quickly.  The dehydrator is a great way to get in some extra veggies. I just cover in olive oil and season. I enjoy green beans, sweet potatoes, and broccoli.

I also make a lot of jerky using grass fed beef or turkey.  These are a great protein snack when you are on the go.

Every once in a while I make homemade fruit roll ups. You just puree fresh or frozen fruit and spread out on a fruit roll sheet. Dehydrated fruit is high in sugar, so these should be made sparingly. But if you have a child that is used to eating pre-packaged roll ups and/or fruit snacks this is a much healthier alternative. 

The only downfall for the dehydrator is that it does take a long time to “cook” foods. Foods usually take at least 8 hours and up to 14 hours.  I find it depends upon the humidity in the air.   So you do have to plan ahead.  But it is worth it to have delicious whole food snacks!

If you do not have a dehydrator, these snacks can be made in the oven at a very low temperature.  It is just a lot easier in the dehydrator!

How to Choose a Safe Deodorant

How to Choose a Safe Deodorant

Most of us appreciate when the people around us wear deodorant!  It is important to choose a deodorant with less toxic ingredients because products that you put on your skin are absorbed into your body.

Stay away from deodorant with:

Aluminum- linked to breast cancer and Alzheimer’s
Fragrances – can disrupt hormonal imbalance
Parabens – can disrupt hormonal balance
Petroleum based ingredients such as propylene glycol – can cause liver and heart damage
There are 3 choices when choosing a less toxic deodorant.

Choose a more natural ready-made deodorant
            - the Environmental Working Group’s skindeep website gives a rating on deodorants and other   beauty products – an 0-2 has the least amount of  toxins and would be a good product to purchase, and a 7-10 rating has lots          of toxins and should be avoided


Chose an even more natural ready-made deodorant with ingredients that are simple and familiar, such as coconut oil and baking soda
            - Primal Pit Paste is a good brand

            - there should be local vendors at the local farmers market (Atherton Mills

              has a good selection in Charlotte)

Make your own
- You can mix up your own deodorant using ingredient such as: cornstarch (non gmo), baking soda, coconut oil, arrowroot powder, essential oils

- You will need  to play with the mixture based on time of year and personal sensitivities – some people are more sensitive to baking soda

What do I do?

            I find it is super easy to make my own deodorant at home.  I mix about ¾ cup of coconut oil and ¼ cup baking soda.  Then I add a few drops of melaleuca (tea tree oil) and orange essential oils. I find this mixture works well for me even in the hot summer months in North Carolina


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