Chocolate -A Girl’s Best Friend

 

When you think sweet tooth, what’s the yummiest treat you can think of? When that craving comes on, what’s the first thing you grab? For me….it’s almost always cookie dough.

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There are few things in this life that I love more than a big spoonful of batter. Whether it be brownie batter, cake batter, or cookie dough. I’m not too picky 😉 But all those things are entirely filled to the brim with sugar, raw egg, and dairy. Which is pretty much a no-go for me right now. So what’s a girl to do?

There are just some days that call for it more than others. Some days you wake up, your hormones are going crazy, you cry because your dog is just too cute or your slippers are too soft, or you’re watching This Is Us and can’t stop the water works.Well, good news, I got you! This tried, tested, and VERY much approved, cookie dough AND brownie batter is refined sugar free, dairy free, and egg free. So you can make up a whole bowl and eat it guilt-free 😉

 

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5 Surprising Benefits of Yoga

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My word for 2017 is Presence. I’ve made resolutions and set goals for years and every year I’ve failed at them, felt horrible about myself, and re-committed to the same goals year after year. So for the last couple of years, I’ve focused on a “theme” of sorts. A word. One simple priority to focus on the whole year. This year, that word is presence. Practicing staying present in all moments. Which has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done to be honest. It sounds so easy. Do enough yoga classes, read enough self-help books, eat enough healthy meals, and you should be good, right?

The practice of self-love and presence has been a hard journey of self-exploration. By staying present, I am saying to myself “I’m here. I see you. This moment may be messy. Or your mind may be scattered into a million different to-do lists. Or your heart may be overwhelmed. But trust me. Stay with me. We’ve got this and I promise, it’s going to be ok and it’s going be good.” And you know what? No matter how messy and complicated the situation may be, it is always ok. And it’s always good. It may not seem good always. But I learn, and I grow, and I strengthen through those moments.

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At the beginning of the year, I started going to yoga classes. My hubby and I joined our local community center and I walked into my first Yoga Flow class of the year a few weeks ago…not realizing that Yoga Flow is quite a bit different than the yoga I’m used to…..

We worked up a sweat in a tiny room completely filled with people wall-to-wall. Switching from downward dog to warrior and then back down to downward dog over and over again. My body hated my guts the next day. And I haven’t gone back since. To Yoga Flow that is….

I started the Gentle Yoga classes offered. They’re slower and easier paced. More focused on therapeutic yoga, continually honoring your body, and restoration. It was challenging for me to switch to Gentle Yoga. I felt defeated and like I was letting myself down somehow. I’m a pusher. I push my way through hard and have a “suck it up” mentality. Yoga is helping me re-learn and re-frame my mind. It’s teaching me to be present. To honor and actually love all the moments. To be still. To sit down and intentionally listen to my heart and hear what it needs. And not only hear, but help.

One reason I chose yoga is because it offers so many benefits ya’ll. I was surprised to find out some of them! After I was diagnosed with PCOS, I started researching more into ways to help alleviate the symptoms naturally. Yoga, being a hormone balancer (cool right?), was something that continually popped up!

So here I come 2017, in all of my gloriously messy present self.

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Essential Oil Safety

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Essential Oils have been the “go-to” for a bit now and making quite a debut! They are an incredible source of natural healing and relief from various symptoms. You can diffuse them, rub them on the bottoms of your feet, place them on a cloth and inhale, keep them on cotton balls throughout your home for lovely aromas, spray for spider protection (a real MUST-HAVE for all ya’ll who are afraid of spiders…such as myself). And SO much more! I keep an entire cabinet full of essential oils in our home and we use them almost daily.

Now, with all this new fame, essential oils also have been slightly misrepresented and left people misinformed about their safety. So, give me a couple minutes here to get on my preacher’s stool and share some truly essential safety necessities (see what I did there? 😉 )

First off, I don’t use one specific company. I love so many and so instead of choosing, I use them all. My TOP brands are Nature’s Sunshine (their Essential Shield and Inspiring blends are so wonderful), and Plant Therapy (I can’t get enough of their Calming The Child for anxiety and those extra doses of stressful that can happen. They also specify which oils are child-friendly! A huge win in my books!). Both those companies have undergone 3rd party testing and are completely dedicated to genuine and 100% pure product. No fillers or additives. They also are very affordable and keep their oils at minimal cost. I love this because not only am I able to get MORE oils for my money, but I also know that I’m getting HIGH-QUALITY and EFFECTIVE oils!

So let’s talk safety!

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Internal Use

You should never, under any circumstance, take an essential oil internally, without the recommendation of a professional and certified aromatherapist. I know, that is blasphemy for some, but think about it this way: essential oils are extremely concentrated forms of flowers, herbs, etc. If you ate as many of those herbs as are in a single drop of oil, it would be an incredibly large amount, and therefore possibly make you sick. There have been oils known to cause stomach ulcers or be fatal. If you see a company ever claim that all of their oils can be taken internally, I would highly recommend you question that. As a general rule, when any company I buy from claims they are the only company to do whatever it is they are claiming, I automatically question it. If you are interested in using essential oils internally, contact a local professional and certified aromatherapist. While some oils can be taken internally under supervision, some essential oils, when taken internally, may cause irreversible damage.


Littles

Not all essential oils are safe for children and it is usually recommend not using them at all for babies 6 months or younger. In fact, there is only a handful that ARE safe for children. Essential oils are extremely strong and concentrated. Children have sensitive skin, bodies and organs. If used improperly, it can cause a negative reaction on a child. Make sure to fully research which oils are safe for children before applying/diffusing them around children. One of my absolute favorite blends is by Plant Therapy and it is called Calm The Child. They offer various blends that are safe for children. You can find a link to those blends here.


Expecting Mamas

As with all essential oils, make sure to research and thoroughly study before applying or even diffusing it around you, especially if you are pregnant or nursing. Often, it is advised to not use essential oils at all while pregnant or nursing. They can effect your hormones and other important parts of your health and can be a huge risk when your body is at such a sensitive stage.


External Use

Avoid putting oils directly on your skin. Because of their high concentration, they can cause much damage to your skin and easily access your bloodstream which can cause a lot of damage. Always mix it with a carrier oil before applying it, and when applying an oil for the first time, use a very small amount to test how your skin will respond to it. There are many different oils you can use for carrier oils. I personally use coconut and almond oil.

Bottom line: Please be extremely careful when using essential oils. You would be amazed at their power while even just diffusing. I have a couple resources below if you would like to further study essential oils and the complexity/safety of each one.


Now, with ALL that said, oils are a truly FANTASTIC source of healing and relief and have an entire world of benefits! Don’t sway from using them, just be aware and oil-smart when you do 🙂

Happy Oiling!

 

Resources:

Nature’s Sunshine: How Safe Are Essential Oils

The Humbled Homemaker 

Aura Cacia 

Advanced Aromatherapy

Homemade bread – Comfort for the soul

Don’t ya’ll just love the inviting smell of homemade bread? It hits almost as soon as you stick a ready loaf in the oven and sweeps throughout your kitchen and home for the rest of the day. Homemade bread, slightly toasted and covered in butter is equally as comforting for me as curling up on the couch, wrapped up in a big yummy blanket, sipping a mug of something hot and steamy on a cold rainy night.

But it seems like with all the gluten-intolerance and ‘bread is bad’ talk, it’s so hard to know what is actually ok to eat and what is not. And that solely depends on your body and what works for you! So let me share what has worked well for me and you can find what works well for you.

Because I love bread, probably way too much, I have researched and tried to find the best grain I can. Really just to accommodate my love for the warm pillowy goodness 😉

Have you ever heard of Kamut (Kam-oot)? This nutrient-filled grain is an heirloom, trademarked, non-GMO, wheat. It was brought to the states from Egypt in 1949 and was planted in Montana. There, it still grows and thrives on all-organic farms and has never been hybridized with other modern wheats, according to Montana Flour, the company that sells it. So what’s so great about Kamut?

Here are some of the MANY benefits to Kamut, besides being yummy of course:

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I’ve been using Kamut for the past 2 years and I love it. It’s versatile, easy to bake and cook with, and tastes absolutely delicious!

Let me share my favorite bread recipe with you to help get you started!

This recipe is simple, with ingredients you probably already have! I just throw everything in a Kitchen Aid and let it go. Simple as that. It makes a great base dough as well for pizza crust, rolls, etc. If you REALLY want to get crazy with it, toss in some of your favorite herbs like I did here:

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Homemade Bread

Makes 2 loaves

Prep Time: 90 minutes

Bake Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 7-8 cups of Kamut flour
  • 3 cups warm water
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon of yeast (I use active dry)
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Begin by adding the warm water, oil, and honey, and salt to your mixer and attach the knead hook. Set it on a low speed.
  3. Add in 2-3 cups of flour as well as the yeast. Let everything mix thoroughly. (this is also the point where you can add any yummy herbs your heart desires. I love adding thyme, rosemary, and dried minced onion)
  4. Slowly add in the remainder of the flour. Do not over-flour. This will result in a dry loaf. You will know that you have added enough flour when the sides of the bowl are clean.
  5. Knead everything for 10 minutes on a medium/low speed. Then let sit for 5 minutes.
  6. During this time, prepare your loaf pans by making sure they are well oiled.
  7. Place the dough on an oiled or wet surface (do not flour this surface. The more flour you add the more dry the loaf will be become).
  8. Cut the dough in half. With the first half, roll out just slightly and then roll up and tuck the ends in to create a pan-sized “loaf”. Do the same with the second loaf.
  9. Add both to the loaf pans and cover with a dry cloth. Allow loaves to rise for 60 minutes, or until doubled in size.
  10. You can either stick the loaves straight in the oven at this time, or, I like to slightly cut the tops down the center to create a slit. I also oil and add more herbs to the top. 
  11. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden and beautiful.

And voila! You have yummy, easy-peasy, homemade bread.

10 Ways To Self-Care During The Holidays

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What’s one of the things that most of us have in common during the holiday season? Stress. Whether it be from finding the perfect gift, running from one family to the next, cleaning the house for loved ones, cooking for hungry mouths, or even just fighting grocery cart traffic in the store (yes, it’s a thing). Our hearts are quickly filled with overwhelm and high expectations of ourselves.

So what does self-care really even mean? Especially during hectic seasons? For me, self-care is finding rest in even the smallest of moments. Self-care means doing what grounds and loves your heart well. It’s the thing that says “Hi there heart. I see you. I hear you.”

But before I can even begin with a list of tangible ways to self-care, I have to start with the ‘firsts before the firsts’. These are crucial. Self-care isn’t just a list of things to do. It’s a mentality. A heart change. An intentional self-hug. So what’s first?

Permission.

Here’s your permission. Your “ok” to be still. To enjoy the  groundedness and rest in the beauty of the moment. To stand in the midst of frantic and find your peace. To sit for a few minutes and breath in the presence of the now.

Authenticity.

Stay true to you. Find ways to self-care that are truly authentic and soul-healing for you. This can look so different for everyone. You are unique and your needs are beautifully different than those around you. Be authentically honest with yourself on how that looks for you.

Grace. 

This may be the biggest and most important. You know that to-do list you are working so hard to finish and wearing yourself thin for? You know what I’m talking about. The list that comes before everything else during the holidays. Before real time with the littles. Before dates with the hubby. Before laughing with friends. Before your own peace and calm. Yeah….that one. If you find a task too overwhelming and too daunting, scratch it off. If it’s getting in the way of what really matters and those who you love the most, don’t do it. I promise sweet soul, you will be ok. In fact, I dare to say, you will be BETTER and so will your family and community. In those moments, where we discover that what we THINK is important isn’t truly the absolute MOST important, we find this incredible moment of  really breathing. You know, those deep, life-saving, self-validating, deep breaths.

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So now that we have the 3 “firsts before firsts” out of the way, what are some really tangible ways to calm that heart of yours? Here are some things that work for me (but remember to explore and find what works uniquely for you).

  1. Blankets – There is nothing that says safety and slow-down quite like a yummy, marshmallowy blanket. I immediately feel more restful when I get all wrapped up and snuggly.
  2. Scarves – This may seem like a weird one, but scarves to me are just the most perfect wearable hug. So when I’m feeling overwhelmed and chaotic, I hold onto my scarf (generally a blanket scarf….you seeing a trend here? 😉 ) and ground myself in the present.
  3. Journaling – This is a pretty typical one, but journaling has become my oldest and most consistent best friend. It helps me process and forces me to really understand and intentionally look for moments of joy and peace.
  4. Outside – It’s cold. It’s blustery. It may even be snowing if you’re unlike me and lucky enough to live somewhere where it does (can you sense my jealousy?). But there are few things that ground my heart more than being outside. Whether I’m walking barefoot on the grass or hammocking in the woods with a sleeping bag and good book. Find ways to get out there. Intentionally look for the beauty in even the simplest of moments.
  5. Music – I have a few bands who always bring me to a place of centeredness and stillness. This will look different for you more than likely, and that’s totally ok! My favorite go-to’s are Sleeping At Last, Lauren Daigle, and Balmorhea.
  6. People Watching – You’re questioning my mental health now, yeah? Gotta keep you on your toes! I love people watching. It forces me to appreciate and discover small joys. That smile someone gets when they first pick up their warm cup of coffee. The awkward laughter between two people on a first date. The sweet tears between close friends who love each other so well. It reminds me to love all moments. The ordinary as well as the extraordinary.
  7. Community – I have found so much value in truly genuine, healthy, and authentic community. In finding my ‘tribe’. My people. It can take time to really develop a strong and grounded community, but if you will take the time to really pour into those relationships that build you, challenge you, and grow you, you will not regret it.
  8. Health-full foods – Be intentional about what you put in your body. Explore new recipes that provide more healthy balance for your body and are cozy to eat.
  9. Deep Breathing – Take bold, deep breaths. Breath in so deeply that you feel it in your lungs. When you fill your lungs with much needed oxygen by deep breathing, you release endorphins, your muscles relax, and you release toxins.
  10. Candles – Sometimes things get really dark and dreary during the winter-time, so create your own sunshine! Light delicious smelling candles throughout your space, and when you glance for a moment to enjoy the shadow of the flame against the wall, say 1 thing you are grateful for that day. Fewer things truly heal our overwhelmed hearts like true gratefulness.

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What are some ways you self-care? How do you find your peace and stillness in the midst of frantic and stressful seasons?

Welcome!

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Hey there!
I am so glad that you decided to join us on this crazy life adventure of finding healing and balance! I’m Courtney, a Naturopathic Doctor, and a Certified Natural Health Practitioner. I’m so excited to come alongside you on this journey and empower you to find balance in your life using the natural resources around you.
So let me begin with the ever questioned ‘Why?’. About 8 years ago, I went to my very first appointment with a naturopath, extremely critical, leery, and walls up in every shape and form. I sat down and began filling out my intake form, but unlike most who generously check off symptom after symptom they are struggling with, I chuckled while cynically only checking off 2, maybe 3 symptoms that were minor (I don’t even remember what they were) just to test this woman and see if she really knew what she was doing. My name was called and I walked into a room to have pictures taken of my eye (my first introduction to Iridology). After that, I went into her office and she put this heavy apron on me with velcro attached to it. At this point, my 17 year old mind was going crazy with thoughts. Who was this strange women? Why the weird apron? And why, for the love of everything sane, did she need giant pictures of my eyes??
Allow me to pause for one brief paragraph and explain a bit of my upbringing. I have 1 younger sister, my dad owned (still does!) his own business, and my mom was a stay at home mom to home school my sister and I until we both graduated high school.  We ate like “normal” people when I was younger. Low-fat this, low calorie that. Fairly typical American diet. One day, my mom went through our kitchen and literally started dumping everything in the trash….except our syrup. We BEGGED for that syrup. Thus began a complete turn around in our eating habits. We started grinding our own flour and making our own bread, we made our own yogurt, kefir, kombucha, cottage cheese etc. At first the change was welcomed with grunts, tears, and withdrawals in all forms. But soon we got used to it and found that homemade things taste better than store bought.
So there I was, about 3-4 years after that first initial junk food toss, sitting in the office of a naturopath. Natural health was no longer foreign to me and in fact I had seen positive results in small day to day situations. But blown up eye pictures and velcro aprons? That was another level I wasn’t ready for…..
She began by looking at a picture of my eye that filled up about half of an 8×11 sheet of paper. There were two sheets of paper with one eye on each. I was THOROUGHLY weirded out you can say. She grabbed a pen and started circling key points in my eye and explaining what they meant. The hundreds (at least it looked like hundreds. Really it was just about 10-12 probably 😉 ) of lines under my pupil indicated stress….and lots of it. She continued to point out possible depression, thyroid dysfunction and a major lack of energy. She explained that my possible lack of energy, depression, stress and anxiety were uncommon at such a great level for my age. My parents were in the room during this time and I will openly admit, I was not overly joyed that they were finding all this out. I knew about most of it. I knew I struggled with depression and had been for over a year, I knew about the anxiety and the stress because I would often be up at night in my room having anxiety attacks. But I had been hiding and avoiding (I’m a master at sweeping things under the rug) so that no one else noticed. Now, there it was, all out in the open.
I will also openly admit, I did not stick with her recommendations. I took them here and there when I felt like it, but I was unmotivated. Soon after that, I began looking into college and what my next step would be educationally. My original plan was music education and to teach privately or in a high school. But, like most life plans, that changed. Growing up, before music was a possibility, my dream was nursing. I was obsessed with Florence Nightingale and Clara Barton. I loved the idea of being a nurse and would read historical fiction medical books and biographies just for the heck of it. I never really considered making health a career….but right before signing up for music education, everything completely turned around and the dream reignited itself in my heart. So long story short, after giving up the stubbornness and actually trying natural health, and finding that it WORKS, here I am, beginning my own business as a Natural Health practitioner.
This blog is meant to uplift, encourage, and educate. Join us on this new journey as we post tips, recipes, fun facts, and giveaways (yea you heard that right! 😉 ).
P.S. If you’re wondering about the velcro apron, it was used to help muscle test each herb and supplement to see what worked best with my body 🙂