DIY Elderberry Syrup Recipe – Yummy Immune Booster For Cold and Flu Season!

A few spoonfuls of this throughout the day and you wont need sugar to help the medicine go down – it tastes SO delicious! This blend of elderberries, clove, cinnamon, ginger, and honey has everything you need to combat the inevitable cold and flu season.

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This year is the first time I’ve been sick in nearly 7 years! You can read about how I avoided getting sick for that long here.  I definitely do not miss coughing so much I throw up a little and sniffling so much I have to breath through my mouth. I’m not entirely too sure where I caught this bug, or IF it really even is an infection. I don’t have any coloured mucous… but I have been on a 40 day kundalini yoga sadhana and I had extra mental and emotional stresses pressed against me this past week AND I’d been slacking on my healthy rhythm.

Thankfully, despite all of those wonderful details I just told you about, I have a new favourite ‘go-to’ remedy for this.. and I’m about to share the recipe with you along with how you can forage for elderberries yourself AND how you can store your syrup for long-lasting shelf life.

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Why Elderberries WORK!

Elderberries are jam-packed and loaded with nutrients that boost your immune system! These include Vitamins A & C, quercetin, and many other phytonutrients. Wellness Mama made a quote in her post on how to make elderberry syrup about a study conducted on elderberries, they were found to disarm the enzyme viruses use to penetrate healthy cells and multiply in the lining of the nose and throat. Taken before infection, it prevents infection. Taken after infection, it prevents spread of the virus through the respiratory tract. This is excellent news!! Because cold and flus are viruses (non-living little robot fuckers), antibiotics or antibacterials do not work on them. Dr.Axe has an awesome page on all of the other things that elderberries do for us – check that out here!

Zoë and I having fun foraging :)

Zoë and I having fun foraging 🙂

Homemade Elderberry Syrup

What You Need:

  • 2/3 cup dried
  • 3 1/2 cups of water
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh or dried ginger root
  • 1 teaspoon Ceylon cinnamon (the real stuff)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves or clove powder
  • 1 cup raw honey (local, if possible)

What You Do:

  1. Pour water into medium saucepan or pot and add elderberries, ginger, cinnamon and cloves (do not add honey yet – we add it in at the end in order to preserve  its many medicinal benefits)
  2. Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce to a simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour until the liquid has reduced by almost half.
  3. Using a metal mesh strainer, carefully strain your syrup into another large container and using a masher to squeeze the rest of the precious juices from the berries.
  4. Allow to cool down for 15 minutes, then add the honey and stir.
  5. You can keep it simply in a glass bottle or jar in the fridge and it will last anywhere from two weeks to several months. What I recommend is canning it so it lasts much longer! Keep reading to learn how.

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Preserving Your Elderberry Syrup.

What You Need:

  • 8oz canning jars with new snap lids: Enough to fit the amount of syrup you made. This recipe makes *about* 16oz..but since I usually double or triple the recipe this is just an estimate. You can use bigger or smaller jars, whatever you fancy.
  • A deep pot: Just deep enough to fit the jars completely submersed in water plus at least one inch.
  • A jar lifter: This makes it SO much easier. If you don’t have one and don’t plan to get one, when it comes time to remove the jars from the water you could carefully scoop or pour the boiling water out of the pot and remove the jars with oven mitts.

What You Do:

  1. Begin by steralizing the jars and their lids by boiling them in water for 10 minutes. Remove them from the water and fill them full leaving about 1cm of space from the top of the jar. *NOTE* I steralize my jars regardless, but some say you don’t need to as long as you’re going to boil them for longer than 10 minutes. Decide for yourself.
  2. Place their lids on tight.
  3. Aim to have the stock pot filled about half way with boiling water. Remove or add some if you need to. The whole idea is that the jars will be complete submersed with an inch of two of water above them.
  4. Use your canning lifter and place the jars into the boiling water (or temporarily remove from heat and lower the jars in carefully with your hands). Ensure you don’t cram them all together, allow space for them to move around a bit.
  5. Set a timer for 20-35 minutes, depending on your local altitude. To figure this out, google your cities altitude and see where you’re at on this chart.
  6. Remove the jars and place them onto a tea towel. Leave them there undisturbed. The jar seals might not snap right away but they will as they sit. If not, you can repeat the process or just store in the fridge and use up.

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Foraging For Elderberries

These little gems grow wild all over BC. Here in the Okanagan they are abundant around August and September and I’ve also seen them in the Kootenays this time of year. There are many types of elderberry species found all over the world.

There ARE elderberry look alikes out there – and some are poisonous and can and will kill you if you mistake them. This is just a warning – if you’re planning to forage you need to be in the know on this one. Remember you can always buy dried elderberries.

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Zoë and I found some! Most are super high up which is a good thing. It’s important not to pick everything from one area/plant/bush etc when foraging.

There are actually several poisonous elderberry look alikes. This website has a very thorough overview on everything so read it carefully before foraging for your own

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Above Photo Credits: Sunflower Press

 

The Secret To Why I Haven’t Been Sick In 6 Years

Screen Shot 2017-03-09 at 12.24.32 PMI have not been sick in SIX years!! Seriously though… this is a big deal, and I’ll tell you why. I’ve been around a plethora of sick humans over these past 6 years, and I’ve even shared straws with some of them, and I still haven’t caught whatever virus or bacteria is ailing them. This is a really big deal to me, because growing up I had an incredibly weak immune system due to a highly processed food diet… I’m sure you can relate… some of my favourite staples were:

  • Cheese and crackers
  • Cheese sauce on toast (cheese sauce on everything actually, broccoli, cauliflower, steak, chicken… etc)
  • Grilled cheese with orange cheddar, margarine, and ketchup
  • Stoned wheat crackers with margarine and orange cheddar
  • KD with ketchup
  • Basically anything with cheese…
  • Quaker oatmeal muffin mix mixed with water in a bowl
  • Oreos
  • An entire box of fruit roll-ups in one sitting
  • Kraft peanut butter on toast with extra margarine
  • Dried ichaban noodles straight out of the bag
  • Soda pop and more soda pop – especially grape crush
  • Powdered peach juice
  • Side-Kicks
  • Licorice! my god I loved licorice….
  • 5 cent candies
  • and the list goes on and on

To be clear, I don’t blame my Mother for buying these groceries, she raised me the best way she knew how. Back then a lot less people were conscious about what it takes to have a strong immune system. Now-a-days more of the younger generations are willing to spend more money for better quality food.. perhaps it’s because we are seeing a ridiculous amount of chronic disease and it doesn’t seem like the western medical system is helping much if at all….

How sick was I?

If I was around somebody that was sick, I was pretty much guaranteed to catch whatever it was they had. Besides catching a cold or flu several times a year resulting in being out of commission for a couple weeks at time… there was one time when I was about 15 years old I was deliriously sick with a fever. Bed ridden in this state for well over a week… I still remember it like yesterday. The strangest thing happened, my jaw locked up. I couldn’t open my mouth more than 1cm (strange right?) I ended up unlocking it myself (stupid right?) and to this day it still cracks when I open it all the way.

Fast forward to 19 years old, I started having severely sharp pains on the left side of my rib cage. I couldn’t breathe in more than a tiny sip of air, so off to the hospital I went. They checked my heart, and came to the conclusion that I had inflamed muscles on my ribcage. Inflamed muscles on my ribcage? How the F did that happen!?! They prescribed me some anti-inflammatory medication and sent me on my way. I changed nothing, and of course nothing changed (except my ribs didn’t hurt anymore – thanks Big Pharma!).

At age 20 I moved to Kelowna and kept living life the best way I knew how…. having fun and doing whatever I wanted when I felt well and energized, and taking time off work to do nothing but rest when I was sick. It was a viscous cycle. I’m sure everybody who has been sick knows how much it sucks. When my roommate decided to move back to her hometown, a regular customer at the coffee shop I worked at told me of a friend that was looking for a roommate. I believe in serendipity, and even though many of my coworkers told me this girl is ‘crazy’ I went to meet her anyways and agreed to move in. Turns out – she’s a nutritionist!!

When I moved in, I saw the difference between her cupboard, and my cupboard. She had vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, organic meats, and supplements… I had.. well you saw the list above. She began to open my eyes to the connection between how I was feeling and what I was eating. So I began to make small changes and ate more salads and stir fries with her. Even though I had starting eating a lot more vegetables and cut back on the processed and packaged “foods”, I STILL caught colds and flus!! It turns out there is more to the secret of having a strong immune system than I thought.8cGbAnzRi

Over the years I went through a lot of trial and error to figure out what works best for me, and I learned these important points about our food and our bodies:

  1. White sugar paralyzes your white blood cells for a few hours (as if it’s not bad enough already, forcing your body to extract minerals from your bones and all). If you’re around somebody who is sick, you best not be consuming any of that white powdered stuff anytime soon. Your white blood cells have to be – you know… not paralyzed if they’re going to fight foreign invaders.
  2. A whopping 70-80% of your immune system is inside your intestines! You have what’s called a microbiome, or a delicate complex ecosystem of bacteria also living inside of your intestines. In an ideally healthy human, most of these bacteria are friendly, and the minority is pathogenic. More often than not in today’s world, the pathogenic bacteria are the majority and the friendly bacteria are the minority. If there’s an overabundance of pathogenic bacteria, how strong do you think your immune system is going to be? How distracted and pre-occupied do you think your white blood cells are going to be?
  3. Most of the fruits and vegetables you’re eating have been picked before they are allowed to ripen. This is common knowledge… everybody knows that you can’t ship a yellow banana from Mexico to Canada – it will be brown and mushy well before it even arrives. The critical point to note here is that 70-90% of the nutrition from fruits and veggies is formed in the last 48 hours before ripening –  this does not happen once it’s been picked! Yes your banana turns from green to yellow and looks more ‘ripe’ but because it is not forming more nutrients, I see it as more of it rotting process than a ripening process.
  4. The nutrients from fruits and veggies that really keep us healthy are called phytonutrients. Yes, vitamins and minerals are vitally important, but what we really want from fruits and vegetables in phytonutrients (e.g. beta-carotene, lycopene). Did you know that phytonutrients outnumber vitamins and minerals 10,000 to 1 AND we’re still discovering new ones?! The fact that we are still discovering new ones bluntly tells us that we need to be consuming whole foods. This is why I do not promote or recommend multi-vitamins or any nutrient in it’s isolated form (besides the one exception you’ll see below). Nature is synergistic and so are we, therefore we need to be eating synergistic foods.Screen Shot 2017-03-09 at 3.35.58 PM
  5. Phytonutrients gives fruits and vegetables their taste, colour and smell. Thats why locally grown strawberries melt in your mouth and are red the whole way through, and California strawberries are white inside. More flavour + vibrant colour + delicious ripe smell = more disease fighting nutrition.

Here is what I do every single day to ensure my body has exactly what it needs to prevent illness:

  1. I start my day with good old H2O – that’s right – water! But not just any water… I’m talking two to three BIG mugs of my secret morning kick-start drink (lemon, ginger, cayenne, cinnamon, honey). You see, water is needed for basically every single bodily function, and without it, all them functions just don’t work properly. I also drink delicious lemon water throughout the day between meals to maintain hydration and aid in my body’s natural detoxification processes.
  2. I eat and drink fermented foods everyday. This adds beneficial and friendly bacteria to my gut/intestines aka my microbiome. My faves are sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, water kefir, and kombucha. Your microbiome is the foundation of your health – if you don’t know what it is I urge you to click on the link to find out.
  3. The majority of my plate at every meal is vegetables, a lot of these I grow myself! Aim for 80% of your plate to be good-quality vegetables at every meal.
  4. I use maple syrup, raw local honey, stevia, cane sugar, and erythritol to sweeten my foods. There ARE healthier version of the sweet flavour out there believe it or not.
  5. I supplement with Juice Plus+ and have been for the past 6 years (besides my nutritionist roommate, this is what made me realize the power of whole food and inspired me to become a nutritionist). Before you go all “pyramid talk” on me you have to realize that there are good and bad products out there regardless of where they come from. I judge a product by what the ingredients are, my own personal results, the results of my clients and friends, and the science.
  6. I supplement with Bio-Strath. A deactivated yeast rich in B vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. This nourishes my adrenal glands from the inevitable stresses of today’s world.
  7. In the winter, I supplement with liquid vitamin D3. Got winter blues? You probably need Vitamin D. Besides that, Vitamin D plays a huge role in the health of your immune system. I wont get all science-y on your ass, but if you wanna check out some the research click here.

Besides constantly focusing on maintaining the strength of my gut bacteria aka my microbiome, those are my secrets to keeping the colds and flus away every single year, year after year. You can do it too!

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Curried Roasted Pepper Soup

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What You Need

  • 8 bell peppers, cut in half & seeded (I used yellow and red)
  • 2 medium onions, cut in large chunks
  • 4 medium carrots, cut in large chunks
  • 1 quart jar home-canned tomatoes (or 3-4 fresh tomatoes)
  • 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp red curry paste
  • 2 cubes organic vegetable broth
  • 2-4 tbsp coconut oil
  • Unrefined salt & pepper to taste
  • Coconut milk for serving

What You Do

  1. Preheat oven to 350 & put a large pot of water on the stove to boil with the broth cubes.
  2. Melt coconut oil in a small dish. Toss peppers, carrots, & onions in the melted oil, season with salt and pepper, and place on a baking sheet in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until the peppers are soft.
  3. Once done, remove from oven and put everything into the pot to simmer for 20-40 minutes (until everything is soft enough to puree).
  4. Turn off the heat & purée using an immersion blender or equivalent.
  5. Serve with about 4 tbsp coconut milk (or whatever amount you prefer)

Double “Red Chocolate Velvet” Muffins (That Are Really More Like Cupcakes)

Everybody knows that we need to eat more vegetables. The problem is that a lot of people (myself included) still injoy things like chocolate and baked goods. Well my friends, look no further for the recipe which perfectly combines dessert with a sweet and delectable vegetable.

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What You Need

  • 2 flax or chia eggs¹
  • 1 cup roasted beet puree²
  • 1/8 cup maple syrup or raw honey
  • 1/8 cup almond butter
  • 1/3 cup organic cane sugar
  • 1/4 tsp unrefined sea salt or himalayan
  • 1 1/4 tsp aluminum-free baking soda
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk or water
  • 1/2 cup cacao or unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/3 cups spelt flour (I used sprouted spelt flour)
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips + a little extra for topping

muffsWhat You Do

  1. Preheat your oven to 375º. Scrub your beets with a brush to get any dirt off. Cut off the tops and tails. Coat them in coconut oil (I take a chunk when it’s solid and just rub it on with my fingers), and place in an oven dish to roast for 30-60 minutes. The length of roast time depends on how big your beet is. You might want to cut bigger ones into halves or quarters. Once you can easily stick a fork into the beet, remove from the oven and let cool down.
  2. Turn oven down to 350º
  3. Next prepare the flax/chia egg in a large bowl & line your muffin tin with liners.
  4. Once the egg is ready, put everything in the bowl except for the beets, flour, cocoa, and chocolate chips.
  5. By now the beets should be cool enough and the skin should peel off very easily. Peel them and place them into a food processor and puree until smooth. Then scrape the puree into the mixing bowl.
  6. Stir this mixture until well combined.
  7. Dump the flour and cocoa into the bowl and mix GENTLY! It is super important not to over mix muffins, if you do they will be hard instead of fluffy 🙂 Mix it just until the dry is fully combined with the wet. It should be a scoopable consistency, as opposed to pourable.
  8. Now stir in the chocolate chips.
  9. Scoop batter into the muffin cups. You should be able to make a dozen 🙂
  10. Press some extra chocolate chips into the tops before placing in the oven for 17-22 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

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Lava-style: to stuff the centre of the muffin with chocolate chips so the gooey deliciousness oozes out 

Foot Notes

¹ Combine 1 tbsp flax or chia seeds with 3 tbsp luke-warm water. You can tell it’s ready when the seeds swell up and absorb the water making a gelatinous consistency.

² To make one cup of beet puree, aim for 2 large beets or 5 small. Use your best judgement, it’s better to make a little extra to eat plain or add to dressings/salads.

Wild Salmon “Burger” Paddies on Zucchini Noodles With Homemade Pesto & Mayo

Wild Salmon “Burger” Paddies Recipe

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Utilizing my garden veggies in creative ways

What you need for the paddies

  • 1 large wild salmon filet (or 4 cans)
  • 4 egg whites (you’ll use the yolks later in the recipe, don’t worry)
  • 1 handful of diced red onion (chop up the whole onion & save the rest for soup – prep is the key to having healthy food all the time)
  • 1 handful of fresh dill, chopped finely
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Coconut oil for frying

How you make them

  1. Remove any bones from the salmon, if necessary
  2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl
  3. Mix together
  4. Form into little burger shaped paddies
  5. Fry in coconut oil until golden brown and slightly crispy on one side, then flip and repeat on the other side 🙂

Veggies

For this recipe I used a bed of mixed lettuce greens, spiralized zucchini noodles (if you don’t yet have a spiralizer, you need to get one!), shredded beets and carrots, and I garnished with thinly sliced radishes and green onions.

Sauces

The fun part…

I love sauces, I’m a saucey girl. Especially home made healthy and delicious sauces!

homemade mayo – what you need

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 500ml organic, cold-pressed olive oil (could be more or less)
  • 1/2-1 tsp mustard powder or dijon mustard
  • Juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • Dash of apple cider vinegar
  • Salt and pepper

How you make it

You can either whisk or use an immersion blender to make your mayo, for these instructions I’m going to explain how to make it using an immersion blender. If you don’t have an immersion blender, check out Jamie Oliver’s instructions on using a whisk.

  1. Place the egg yolks in a tall, wide-mouthed jar
  2. Blend them together
  3. SLOWLY pour the olive oil in while blender the entire time. Slowly is key here.. it won’t work properly if you don’t do it slowly.
  4. Once you have a consistency/amount that you like, add in the rest of the ingredients and blend until combined

Spinach & Pumpkin Seed Pesto

This is something I created because I have an abundance of spinach that needs to be eaten ASAP! Pesto is amazing but I never seem to have enough basil to enjoy it as much as I would like.. so low and behold a way to go around this while still enjoying pesto!

What you need

  • 2 cups fresh spinach leaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (preferably raw ones that have been soaked and dried at home)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Olive oil to drizzle
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How you make it

  1. Put everything into the blender/food processor except the olive oil
  2. Blend on high speed while drizzling the olive oil in through the pour hole
  3. Keep blending until it’s smooth and at a consistency that you like 🙂

Let’s Talk About Poop: 6 Common Causes of Shitty Bowel Movements – PLUS – You’re Pooping In The Wrong Position!

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What a fascinating subject. What’s even more fascinating to me is some human’s instant look of disgust and awkwardness when the subject gets brought up. I say get over it! I think we actually need to start talking about shit more often so that it becomes the norm and people stop freaking out. It’s important!!

Your poop can answer a lot of questions about your health and if your body agrees with what your putting into it or not. Everything from consistency, whether or not your logs leave streaks on the toilet, and even the colour can give you hints about what you need to change so you can have satisfying bowel movements (seriously, who doesn’t love a good poo?).

So.. if you don’t look at your poop after having a bowel movement, now is a good time to start.

A healthy poop will come out in a few seconds and oddly enough will resemble the tail of a dog. However, an unhealthy poop could feel like you’re dispensing gum balls from your ass, or it could look like a sausage with lumps, be complete liquid, or mushy just like pea soup.

Causes of these poo inconsistencies vary. Depending if it’s chronic or acute, it could be..

  1. Dehydration: especially if you are constipated, have lumpy sausage shaped poop, or if your butt is acting like a gum ball dispenser.
  2. Bacteria/viral associated: usually presents as complete liquid or pea soup consistency
  3. Food intolerances: again, complete liquid or pea soup consistency
  4. Insufficient fat digestion or consumption:  can be related to lumpy sausage & gum ball shaped poop OR it could result in my next point..
  5. Dampness: usually a result of a dairy intolerance, or sugar/gluten/alcohol consumption resulting in streaks left inside the bowl after flushing. It is likely that you will have to wipe a dozen times to get all the poop off of your hole in this situation.
  6. or you could just be stressed out and need to relax. Lots of diarrhea/constipation is a result of stress!

Did you know that sitting on the toilet is actually a terrible position to have a bowel movement? Stop and think for a moment how us humans used to take a shit before the porcelain goddess came into our lives. It’s very similar to having a lovely nature poo – my favourite! We SQUAT! When you sit down on the toilet you actually have a kink in your bowels. Much like a kink in your garden hose affects how much water comes out the end, the exact same thing happens in your butt. To help ease this, you can elevate your feet using your bathroom garbage can and lean forward at your hips, or you can squat on the toilet. Check out Raw Ross’s video on how to do this properly.

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If you’re keen to know more about how you can improve your digestion and start enjoying pooping – you’ll want to download my *free* gift or apply for a *complimentary* session with me to find out if I can help you improve the quality of your bowel movements.

Friends Don’t Let Friends Eat Margarine.

Screen Shot 2016-01-05 at 10.31.43 PMMargarine is THE WORST! There is this big misunderstanding that fat is bad for you. Fat is actually 100% necessary and extremely important to your health (being one of the macronutrients and all, it’s right up there with protein and carbohydrates). That is, good quality fats. Margarine.. not such good quality.

Good quality fats are vital to: brain development, a healthy nervous system, cell membrane integrity, and your hormones to name a few.
Some signs you might be low on good fats are: dry skin, dry hair, hair loss, dandruff, excessive thirst, eczema, psoriasis, and poor memory. It is also linked to hyperactivity in children (“ADHD”).

Margarine is a highly processed vegetable oil and often hydrogenated (I could go off on a huge tangent about how much I hate hydrogenated products, but I’ll save that for another post). Our bodies don’t do very well with processed vegetables oil, just like they don’t do well with processed carbohydrates like muffins and cookies.

Now, let’s put this into perspective. Your nerve cells have a protective coating called the myelin sheath. Nerve cells allow the body to communicate with itself by sending electrical signals. Both the speed and quality of these signals are influenced by the condition of the myelin sheath. If the sheath is damaged or not functioning properly, signals are slowed and your response time or movement is affected. This is why we need good quality fats to build a healthy myelin sheath. Which substance do you think a message will travel through faster: margarine or olive oil?

Use this as a rule of thumb: Use coconut oil or organic butter for cooking/heating and use olive oil for salad dressings. Those are the only oils you need in your house.