Rhett’s Story – How Treating the Root of Illness Changed Everything

Almost 3 years ago, my third child was born. It was my best pregnancy and easiest labor and delivery. The recovery was a walk in the park. I thought for sure that adding on a third kid would be no problem.

I was wrong. At 8 weeks old, Rhett was admitted to Children’s Hospital due to RSV. His little body fought to breathe. He was congested and had to be suctioned out frequently in order to get oxygen and when that didn’t work, he needed an oxygen mask. It was terrifying.

 

He developed an ear infection, so he received antibiotics.

He developed thrush and a yeast infection from the antibiotics.

He got better, then developed another ear infection.

More antibiotics.

Then breathing treatments. Albuterol.

More yeast.

More antibiotics.

Reflux and spit-up and projectile vomiting.

Ears.

Antibiotics.

Breathing treatments.

Ibuprofen. Tylenol.

ANTIBIOTICS.

Do you get the picture? Do you see the cycle? We were on a cycle of insanity. After the 8th round of antibiotics, he got ear tubes and that seemed to lessen the frequency of the ear infections… but it didn’t heal him. Continue reading “Rhett’s Story – How Treating the Root of Illness Changed Everything”

The Biggest Issues in Children’s Health Today – an Interview with Dr. Alina Olteanu

img_8840I recently sat down to interview Dr. Alina Olteanu, integrative pediatrician and owner of Whole Child Pediatrics of North Texas. Dr. Olteanu played a major role in helping my youngest heal from chronic ear infections and restrictive airway disease (which I share about here).

I was thrilled to pick her brain about children’s health in the 21st century, and let me tell you – she is a wealth of knowledge! You can find the full audio recording in Google drive format here, or a YouTube link here.

Below is a transcription of the interview. All that is missing from the recording are a few comments I made here and there, but I encourage you to listen to the audio or YouTube link to hear the emotion and passion in both of our voices as we discuss these fascinating topics. She definitely speaks my language on all things gut health and brain health. I hope you enjoy what she has to say and please share with a friend!

What brought you to integrative medicine? Continue reading “The Biggest Issues in Children’s Health Today – an Interview with Dr. Alina Olteanu”

What’s the Deal with Sugar Cravings?

I feel like I have ultimate credibility when it comes to sugar cravings. I battled them for most of my life. There are many factors at play there: gut dysbiosis, adrenal fatigue, low dopamine, and nutrient deficiencies, but one of the biggest hurdles is that I had a HORRIBLE relationship with food.

I was a chronic dieter. There were good foods, there were bad foods, and somewhere in that system of thinking I associated good food and bad food with Good Erin and Bad Erin. My food issues became intertwined with my value as a human.

While one of the best things I have ever done is address my gut health and nutrient deficiencies, I also have received so much healing from normalizing sugar.

If I want something sweet, I have it. When I allow myself the freedom to have whatever I want, nothing off limits, the appeal of the forbidden goes down. In fact, I’m better able to take a few bites of something and tell if it’s worth eating. Sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn’t.

img_8341 Continue reading “What’s the Deal with Sugar Cravings?”

Delicious Dessert Nachos

My newest discovery in foodie land is the amazing Japanese sweet potato. Maybe it appeals to me because it’s purple on the outside (my favorite color), maybe it’s just because it’s unique, but either way – it is an extremely versatile friend in my kitchen. This guy has the ability to go sweet OR savory – no easy feat.

Because I’ve always loved a good sweet treat, I decided to go in the sweet direction. It makes it fun for kids, too! My 2 year old had to fight me for the last few bites of these “nachos.”

As usual, I used my air fryer for this recipe, but it’s doable in the oven too – might just take a little more time to get nice and crispy.

You can use peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, sunflower butter, whatever your favorite is. Trader Joe’s has a fabulous mixed nut butter that would be good on this too! The chia seeds give it some crunch, and the coconut/honey combo complete the flavor explosion. If you really want to get crazy, sprinkle some cocoa powder on top! Oh, the options!

img_7391 Continue reading “Delicious Dessert Nachos”

Back to School Reset Program

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I teamed up with fellow holistic health coach Melissa McGaughey to offer a Back to School Reset for the whole family!

The online 2 week program starts August 26. It will feature meal planning tips, family-friendly recipes, grocery store survival, pantry hacks, and ways to improve your entire family’s brain health and immune system through whole food nutrition!

The two of us have seen big changes in our children’s health and behavior through nutrition. We can’t wait to share how to make family meal time simple, yummy, and nutritious!

Early bird pricing is $34.95 through August 21. Sign up here or contact me for more info.

Brainpower Bombs

Okay, I really don’t know what to call this creation. I was in the mood for something sweet, kind of like a Perfect bar, but those are pretty pricey. I figured I could come up with my own version.

They’re tasty, filled with fat and fiber, and my kids wouldn’t stop eating them. What’s not to love? Also, it’s a dump and blend recipe… which I’m always a fan of.

(Side note – I wish I could plate my food with decorative flowers and greenery and sprinkles of coconut and cacao… but photography isn’t my gift. Plus these things don’t sit long without being eaten.)

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Continue reading “Brainpower Bombs”

Simple Salad Dressing Tips

If you and I toured the grocery store together for a little education on label reading and what to avoid and what to include, one of our first stops would be the salad dressing aisles.

Why? Well, most salad dressings are LOADED with ingredients that will do much more damage to your health and well-being than good. ESPECIALLY those lovely labels that trick you with words like “light” and “reduced fat.”

Now, knowing that most veggies contain fat soluble vitamins, which means we NEED fat to absorb them, why in the world would we throw on a dressing that is reduced fat?

>>Pause here. If you are following ANY kind of eating plan that promotes light or reduced fat dressing, it’s time for a new plan!<<

Don’t get me started. One of reasons I hated salads for years is because they never filled me up for more than an hour (there are other reasons I go into here, but I won’t go there now).

When I load my salad up with the RIGHT kind of fat, I feel fuller longer. It’s better for my mental health and way tastier. Most bottled dressings contain canola oil, soybean oil, and/or a bunch of random artificial chemicals and sugar. For example, even the Newman’s Own Olive Oil Blend, which seems to be a pretty safe option, contains soybean and/or canola oil added to it!

My favorite brands for dressings with yummy brain fats are Primal Kitchen and Tessamae’s. I’ve heard Bragg vinaigrette is awesome, but I haven’t tried it yet.

It is much cheaper and nourishing to my body and brain to make my own dressing. I put the ingredients in a small mason jar, shake them up, and store it in the fridge. I don’t like soggy lettuce and a lot of dressing, so I may use less than some.

Keep your oil and vinegar to a 3:1 ratio, and get creative with spices! Here is my favorite combination.

Favorite Salad Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons olive or avocado oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (or apple cider, red wine, etc)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2-1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • Dash of salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, dried parsley, lemon juice, lime juice, get creative!

Combine in a mason jar and shake. Serve immediately or store in fridge for up to a week.

 

 

Fatty Coffee

Why in the world would I load my coffee up with fat? Does that sound weird and backwards to you?

Well, I’ve been doing it for almost two years now and it has changed my health in many ways. Here are some benefits I’ve noticed:

  • Less “hanger,” more blood sugar control
  • Decreased sugar cravings
  • More alert mentally
  • Able to practice intermittent fasting, which increases my BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor)
  • It gives my brain the right kind of healthy fat it NEEDS for optimal function

Also, it tastes really really good. Like my own homemade foamy latte.

When I start my day with a processed refined grain like cereal or a bagel or English muffin, which I did for many years, I would be hungry within a couple hours and my brain would be mush.

Starting my day with fat-fueled coffee (also known as “bulletproof coffee”) fills me up so I can prolong my brain-boosting fast, it provides butyrate and MCT oil for brain health, and it keeps my blood sugar from going crazy because I don’t need to sweeten it! I have energy throughout the day and I have a clear head to make more brain-nourishing nutritional choices.

Here’s the thing that throws people off – this IS intended to replace a meal. But listen to your body. If you are hungry right after, EAT! Fuel yourself with high quality animal protein, a healthy fat, and colorful fruits and veggies. Sometimes I prolong my fast by drinking my coffee this way, sometimes I’m ready to eat not long after. Every day is different, depending on the activity level.

This coffee is not intended to be a starvation/weight loss tool. It is just another option for those who are already drinking coffee and loading up on artificial flavors with creamers and sweeteners. Those will fail your blood sugar, every time.

This is an alternative that will make you feel good and provide health benefits. For so many, coffee provides the highest amount of polyphenols they will consume in a day. So let’s make it even better!

Here’s how I do mine: Continue reading “Fatty Coffee”

The Truth About FAT

Fat is getting a lot of attention these days. Which is pretty awesome, because does anyone remember Susan Powter and the days of “fat makes you fat?”

Those days are over.

In fact, we now know that our brains MUST have fat. Personally, I think it’s pretty interesting that we have experienced a rise in mental illness and other chronic illnesses following the “fear of fat” campaigns. Could there be a connection? Maybe.

But not all fats are created equally.

Processed, trans fats – the hydrogentated oils we find in all our Doritos and Twinkies and good old standard American packaged food – is extremely damaging to our mental health. These fats increase inflammation and modern day research on mental illness tells us that an increase of inflammatory cytokines in our bloodstream could very well be at the root of mental illness.

To keep inflammation levels in check, we MUST have a healthy balance of fat in our bodies. We NEED fat for vitamin absorption, brain health (our brains are made of fat), heart health, metabolic support, and to keep our hormones functioning as they’re supposed to.

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Olive oil contains oleocanthal, which has been proven to decrease inflammation similarly to ibuprofen!

Where to Find Healthy Fats

  • Avocados, olives, and coconuts are great sources of healthy fat, along with animal sources like ghee, grass fed butter, wild salmon, grass fed beef and omega-3 rich organic eggs (always, always eat the yolks).
  • Whole nuts and seeds, and their butters like almond butter or tahini
  • Look for the highest-quality organic oils when shopping. Stay away from genetically modified vegetable oils like corn, canola, safflower, and soybean.
  • Words to look for: organic, first-pressed, cold-pressed, extra-virgin, and unrefined. Avoid expeller-pressed, refined, and solvent extracted.

How to Use Healthy Fats:

  • For cooking at high temperatures (stir frying and baking), try butter, ghee (clarified butter), or coconut oil
  • When sautéing foods, try organic extra virgin olive oil.
  • Oils like flaxseed, sesame, toasted sesame, walnut, and pumpkin seed are best used unheated in sauces or dressings.

I try to get a healthy fat in at every meal. It keeps me full and my brain clear. I start my day with fatty coffee – French pressed coffee, MCT oil, coconut milk or grass fed butter and sometimes I add in some collagen protein. I blend it altogether and it’s like my own homemade latte. I try not to use bottled salad dressings, and instead make my own. And my pantry is ALWAYS stocked with various raw nuts to snack on or to add to meals.

For the Love of Aldi

Dear Aldi, how I love thee! Let me count the ways.

  • Affordable
  • Simple set up, easy to maneuver
  • Great selection of organic and gluten free items

We started shopping at Aldi during the seminary days, the years when we had waffles or hot dogs for dinner and Doritos casserole was a staple (insert a thousand cringe faces here… yes, it’s a casserole made with Doritos, chicken and sour cream). While it was hard to get used to the idea of inserting a quarter into the shopping cart and bringing our own bags, it eased the burden of a tight budget that was based on a single income teacher salary.

Fast forward to today. Aldi has evolved at about the same rate my own nutritional philosophy has. It’s kind of cute actually. As I grew to understand the importance of organic produce and products, so did Aldi. As I learned about my need (and my children’s need) to limit inflammatory gluten, Aldi offered assistance. As I began eliminating extra ingredients like processed vegetable oils, high fructose corn syrup and GMO corn and soy for my mental well-being, Aldi had me covered. It’s like we’re grocery soul mates, really.

So I figured I’d share some of our favorite staples, the things we get every week. And full disclosure – Richard is the one who does the grocery shopping most of the time. But because he has learned that he feels better eating things with cleaner ingredients, he has become a master shopper!

Continue reading “For the Love of Aldi”