Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Gluten Free Carrot Muffins

This post is dedicated to my dear friend, Nanci, who has known me almost as long as my own sister. I have great memories of sleeping over at Nanci's house as a kid. We started a little tradition of baking a carrot cake every time I came over. Her mom always had a Betty Crocker cake mix stocked in her pantry. We'd get the mix all ready and then stir in a can of chopped pineapple. I remember it being moist and delicious-especially the whipped cream frosting!

When I realized I was hyperglycemic, I gave up flour, refined sugars, and starchy foods. I had pretty much given up on the idea of baking...until I stumbled upon Elana's Pantry, a wonderful gluten-free cooking blog. I don't have a gluten alergy, but the recipes on Elana's blog are a great match for me. She uses coconut flour and almond flour, which are high-fiber flours that are low in digestible carbs. AND her sweeteners of choice are low-glycemic as well.

Last night I had a carrot cake craving, so I made carrot muffins, one of my favorite recipes from Elana's blog. I have made a few changes to her recipe to make it a bit more like the carrot cake I grew up loving. What I love most about this recipe is that it is healthy. First of all, I recommend everything coconut-coconut water, coconut oil, coconut flour...more on this later. Coconut flour is high fiber, high protein, and gluten free (click here to find out what makes this flour so special). The carrots are a great source of the antioxidant betacarotene, which helps reduce the risk of cancer, heart attacks and cataracts. And the nuts add even more protein, fiber, and other nutrients.

Coconut flour is a bit tricky to bake with and I don't have much time to experiment. Lucky for me, Elana has already done all the work. Here is my adaptation of her muffin recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Gluten Free Carrot Muffins

1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon, ground
1 teaspoon nutmeg, ground
6 eggs
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1/2 cup agave nectar (can also be substituted with yacon syrup)
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 cups carrots, grated
1/3 cup finely chopped nuts (I like to mix macadamias and pecans)
1/3 cup "macaroon" coconut (very finely shredded)
3/4 cup canned or fresh crushed pineapple

1. In a medium bowl, combine coconut flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg
2. In a large bowl, blend together eggs, oil, agave and vanilla
3. Blend dry ingredients into wet, then fold in carrots, nuts, coconut, and pineapple
4. Grease a muffin tin with grapeseed oil and then dust with coconut flour
5. Pour batter into each greased muffin cup about 3/4 full
6. Bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes
7. Cool and serve

(makes about 16 muffins)

*You may notice that I have doubled the ingredients in Elana's recipe and I am not calling these "mini muffins". With all of the added ingredients in my version, I recommend using a regular size muffin tin-and if you use a silicon muffin mold, you can skip the greasing part. I have one and I love it. Just let the muffins cool, and they pop right out!

I have mostly given up dairy, but I just cannot resist topping these delicious muffins off with Elana's recipe for Cream Cheese Frosting!
Cream Cheese Frosting

¾ cup heavy cream
1 cup cream cheese
¼ cup agave nectar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1. Whip heavy cream until stiff
2. In a separate larger bowl, whip cream cheese until smooth, then blend in agave and vanilla
3. With a rubber spatula, gently blend whip cream into cream cheese mixture

*My vegan readers may enjoy Elana's vegan Coconut Cream Frosting. It is very yummy, but a bit of a challenge to make in warmer climates.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Facts on SLS

There has been a lot of talk about dangerous chemicals in our every day products. I have made note of several here on this blog. One of these ingredients is Sodium Laureth Sulfate (also Sodium Lauryl Sulfate). I put it on my list of ingredients to avoid, but I have to say that I wondered about this one. A lot of the natural products I used in the past contained this ingredient and listed the source as "Coconut Derived".

So what is the deal with SLS anyway? Well, it seems that there has been a lot of widespread misinformation out there about this particular ingredient. As a result, many companies who have been using small percentages of coconut-derived SLS have reformulated their products. Have they done this because it is SO dangerous? Not so much. All the hype about SLS has proven to be a distraction, thus hindering sales for some very wonderful, natural companies.

Read what Dr. Andy Weil has to say about it
here. I am officially taking naturally-derived, coconut-based SLS off my list of things to avoid at all cost. Of course, if I don't know the source, I absolutely avoid it. There are some very dangerous chemicals in products to be concerned about, like Triclosan and benzalkonium chloride to name only a couple. Remember to reference the Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database if there is an ingredient you want more information about. Get the facts. Know what's in your products. Here's to your health!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Is Your Cell Phone Protected?

When I consider the techie age we live in, this may be my most important and most relevant post so far. I will be publishing several posts about every day toxins and this first one is all around us. If you haven't heard the term "Electropollution", don't be surprised. It is not widely talked about, but it is a major threat that can have a devastating effect on our health and wellness and may increase our risk for illness and disease over time.

Electropollution is the Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR) and Frequencies (EMF) emitted from a number of sources. With every new wireless gadget on our "must have" list-cell phones, cordless phones, iPods, PDAs, Bluetooth, etc-our amount of exposure to this Electropollution increases. It's unavoidable. I know very few people who don't own a cell phone, and well, if you are reading this post, you use a computer.

Many medical experts have called Electropollution the "greatest health risk of the 21st Century". So what can we do to protect ourselves? I have been using products by a company called BioPro Technology for some time now. I was noticing that I didn't feel well when on the computer or cell phone for more than 45 minutes or so. My chiropractor recommended BioPro products as a solution. I noticed the difference right away. I no longer get headaches, major neck pain and fatigue when on the computer or the phone.

Here are a few important facts I pulled from a BioPro brochure:
  • Talking 500 minutes per month on a cell phone increases the probability of brain cancer by 140%. Source: Wireless Technology
  • Spanish scientists have discovered that a cell phone call lasting two minutes can alter the natural electrical activity of a child's brain for up to one hour afterwards. Source: Spanish Neuro Diagnostic Research Institute
  • EMF is classified as a Group 2B carcinogen under standards established by the World Health Organization's Agency for Cancer Research. The chemicals DDT and lead are also Group 2B carcinogens. Source: National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences
  • People can suffer nausea, headaches and muscle pain when exposed to EMF waves from mobile phones, electricity pylons and computer screens. Source: Health Protection Agency, Britain

  • One of the newest, most pervasive stressors is now Electropollution. Medical researchers estimate that 90% of all illness and disease is stress-related. Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
I see kids frequently using cell phones at younger and younger ages. Childrens brains are still developing, leaving them at even greater risk than we are. Cell phones haven't been around long enough for long term studies to be conducted, but I can only imagine what future studies may reveal when scientists look at the next generation of adults who have been using cell phones and other wireless devices since a young age. I am at ease with letting my little one chat with her Grammy on my cell phone, knowing that it is protected.

With this threat so pervasive, none of us should be unprotected! I truly believe the technology BioPro offers is highly effective and absolutely essential for the techie age we live in. I have seen the images of a brain scan taken with and without this protection and I was blown away. (These images are copyright protected, therefore could not be posted here). These products are effective, easy to use, and very affordable.

Okay, here's the cool thing. I am doing my very first GIVEAWAY!!! One lucky reader will win a FREE cell phone chip by BioPro, more than $40 value! Entering is easy.

Mandatory ENTRY: Go to the BioPro website and click on the "learn more" links on the home page. Come back here and post a comment.

EXTRA ENTRIES: (Leave a comment for each)
**Become a follower of To Your Health (2 extra entries)
**Become a fan on Facebook (1 extra entry)
**Follow me on Twitter (1 extra entry)
***Tell three nonblogger friends about this giveaway (2 extra entries)
***Blog about this giveaway (3 extra entries)

This giveaway is open to residents in the US and Canada. Contest ends October 25th at midnight, Hawaii time. Winner will be chosen at random by third party on October 26th. Winner must respond within 72 hours of reveal.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Give Yourself a Boost

When you have little ones, it seems like every season is cold and flu season. Kids touch all kinds of stuff and stick their fingers in their noses, rub their eyes, or worse, put their hands in their mouths. We cannot always be there to insist they wash their hands or remind them to "STOP IT" with the nose picking and such. That is why I have an arsenal of immune boosters and defense in my cupboard. Here are a few items I keep on hand year round.

Vitamin C Powder-Many vitamins contain vitamin C in the form of ascorbic acid. This is a synthetic Vitamin C that can actually deplete the body and possibly cause DNA/RNA damage. Research shows that people with chronic degenerative diseases have low levels of Vitamin C in their blood throughout the day. It also shows strong levels of C in individuals with little signs of degeneration. Health Force Nutritionals Truly Natural Vitamin C is a whole-food C made from Acerola Cherries. It is pure, high potency, giving your body the full benefits of Vitamin C to ward off illness. I used to get cold sores from time to time during times of stress or when I travelled. Since starting a daily dose of this powerful Vitamin C powder, the cold sores have disappeared and my immune system is strong.

Immunity Take Care by
NewChapter-these highly concentrated elderberry lozenges are like no other elderberry source I've found. Elderberry is naturally anti-viral. This special formulation of the full-spectrum of the elderberry herb have been proven in the lab, to keep viruses from proliferating and mutating in the body. I always keep these in stock. We take them regularly during flu season and any time one of us has symptoms of coming down with a bug. If I get even a hint of a sore throat, I immediately begin taking these twice daily. I cannot tell you how many times I have felt something coming on, and had symptoms disappear after a couple days of taking these lozenges. They really work! And they are yummy too!!

Mushroom extracts-We use a liquid supplement called Myco-Immune by Thorne Research. We started using this years ago when our chiropractor recommended it. Who would have thought to use fungi to kill viruses! Actually, there has been extensive research lately that shows just how powerful these mushroom extracts are. Now, I am not going to lie and say that this tastes great. My husband has deemed it "shot of nastiness". It has a bit of a strong flavor. But we are more than willing to endure the yucky taste for a few seconds, given the amazing results. When symptoms of an illness arise, this is another one we immediately reach for. Just a few drops a couple times a day is all it takes!

So there you have it-my top three picks for cold and flu season. I never travel without them! Obviously, it is important to eat well, exercise, and get good rest to help keep your immune system going strong. With our busy lives and the millions of germs out there waiting, we can all use a little boost. Keep these three ready to go and you'll be prepared. Always consult your doctor before giving new supplements to little ones. Our daughter takes all of these in smaller doses. Stay tuned for more immunity tips. Here's to your health!
*Find all of these supplements and more in my Amazon store!

A Happy Place

On Wednesday morning, I dropped my little one off at her adopted auntie's house and was off to ballet class. A friend of mine takes her once a week for a few hours so I can do something for myself, or go on a daytime date with my hubby. After picking up the kiddo and heading back home, her daddy suggested he take her on a few errands with him so I could have a little "alone" time.

You bet I jumped on that idea right away! It is a rare thing for me to have so much time in one day to do whatever I please. What a gift! Now, I could have cleaned up around the house (although the kitchen was already sparkling clean thanks to my DH). And I could have jumped on my computer to answer emails or get started on my next blog post. I thought for a couple seconds about what I wanted to do. Then I jumped on our little golf cart, and here is where I went:

It is so therapeutic to come here and bask in the sun, to wade in the water and let it gently rock me to and fro, allowing me to be weightless, free from any responsibilities or burdens-if only for a little while.

In preparation for the birth of our little one, we had private sessions with a birth preparation coach. She encouraged me to create a "happy place" in my mind, where I could go mentally to cope with contractions, etc. I did not live in Hawaii at the time and ironically, my happy place was Ko Olina, where I now call home. And though I ended up not having the natural birth I anticipated, my happy place came in handy while suddenly being prepped for Cesarean.

If you haven't guessed, Ko Olina beach is still my happy place. We are very blessed to live here. You may not have the beaches of Hawaii easily accessible, but you can find a special place to go for solitude. It is so important for us to have balance in our lives. Just this week, we have had two loved ones face very difficult health challenges and it has really put things into perspective. We have had some financial struggles lately, as many of you have as well. Financial security has kind of gone out the window with the recent twists and turns of our economy. Life has it's challenges, but when I take that old advice, "count your blessings" to heart, I can take a look around and be thankful. I can close my eyes, take a deep breath, and embrace life as it is.

So where's your Happy Place?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

More Vaccine Info

As a follow up to my last post, here are the links to a couple more You Tube videos on vaccines. They are a little long, but worth watching. Regardless of your faith or where you stand on the issue of abortion, you deserve to know where vaccines come from. This first link, for a video entitled The Truth About Vaccines is very informative. The second link is of an interview with Robert Kennedy in 2007, where he talks about the cover up regarding vaccines and Autism.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Investigation: Vaccination

This is a flim that is sure to raise questions, stir up controversy, and hopefully, get people thinking! The controversy over vaccinations has been an ongoing one, and the debate has gotten heated and ugly at times. There are studies that show links to Autism and studies that are inconclusive. Regardless of what you think you already know, or what you have read or heard before, it never hurts to keep investigating.

We chose not to vaccinate our little one for a number of reasons and the decision was made thoughtfully and prayerfully, with much consideration. I am thankful to have a pediatrician who supports our decision. I think the most important factor here, is listening to your heart and going with your own convictions, while getting as much education about the subject as possible. Check out the trailer for Vaccine Nation.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Go Ahead-Go Bare!

Here in Hawaii, we spend the majority of our time barefoot. Sure we wear sandals quite a bit, but no one wears shoes in the house. It is customary to take off one's shoes before entering a person's home. Walk up to any front door and you will see a pile of shoes waiting to be retrieved. Of course, we do wear shoes sometimes. When we're not at the pool or the beach, our favorite pair of flip-flops walk several miles. With the moisture level here, our skin rarely gets dry, but all that time sans shoes can leave the heels of our feet dry and cracked. What is a girl to do?

The pastor's wife at our church recently gave a useful tip at a women's potluck. She learned it from a friend and passed it along to us. That's just how we ladies do it! We like to chat, so when we get a great tip, we gladly share it. That is afterall, what this blog is all about. So here's a quick beauty tip for the day:

Silky Smooth Feet Recipe

1. Take a pumice stone and gently exfoliate the bottoms of feet in the shower or tub.

2. Apply pure Vitamin E oil to the bottoms of feet. Be especially liberal with the heels.

3. Put on a pair of your favorite socks and leave them on overnight.

That's it! Your done. Do this often and watch as your dry, cracked heels become soft and smooth again! You can pick up Vitamin E oil at a drug store or your favorite health food store. Here's to happy feet!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

If You Don't Snooze, You Lose!

Sorry I have been gone for a few days. I was "fasting" my computer for a bit. You see, I have found myself, one too many nights, up late posting on one of my two blogs or just hangin' out in the blogsphere somewhere...looking at your blog, or hers, or his. The wheels in my head are always spinning with our family schedule, to-do lists, etc. Sometimes you just need to take a break. I had to prioritize a little this week. I was walking around a little sluggish, and a quite a bit grumpy at times. I had to be honest with myself and admit that I was breaking one of the cardinal rules of healthy living-GET SOME SLEEP!

We all know that sleep is important, but with our busier-than-ever lives, is it a priority? Are we giving up sleep to squeeze in just one more email, another television show, or typing away on Facebook? We think we've been at it for ten minutes and then suddenly hours have passed and our eyes are stinging and they feel like they might just pop out of our's no longer night. It's morning!

It is so easy for me to "pass the point of no return", as I call it. I was tired and now I'm not. I try to sleep, yet I am restless, staring at the ceiling, my mind just won't turn off. I am a firm believer that sleep begets more sleep. When we are getting enough sleep, we are able to get more of it. We have an internal clock, yet if we ignore it long enough, it doesn't quite function properly. We mommies know this all too well.

During my first year of new mommyhood, I was so severely sleep deprived that I eventually had to take supplements to help support my adrenals. The more sleep deprived I got, the harder it was to sleep when I actually had the opportunity. It was a vicious cycle that affected me on many levels. Now that my little one sleeps well (most nights), I appreciate a good-night's sleep more than ever! So why do I let myself get off track? Well, I think you all can relate to having "too much to do" and "not enough time in the day". It seems to be par for the course in our busy society. Seriously though, this is a major problem. According to Dr. James B. Maas, in The Power of Sleep, about 50% of the population in the U.S. is sleep deprived and about the same percentage has trouble sleeping.

So this night owl is making a commitment, a sleep contract with myself. Studies show that having a consistent bedtime and getting at least 6-8 hours of sleep each night promotes more restful sleep and overall health. Here are a few little tips to help you get into a good sleep habit:
  • Set a "have-to-be-in-bed-by" time and stick to it! The more consistent your clock is, the better.

  • Turn off the computer and television half an hour before bedtime, and dim the lights. The bright light and flashing images stimulate our brains, making it more difficult for our bodies to shift into sleep mode. If you have a hard time being disciplined with this one, set an alarm.

  • If your mind is going a mile a minute, try journaling. Jot down a quick list of the ideas keeping you awake. You can rest assured that the list will be waiting for you in the morning!

  • Take a hot bath. Soaking in the tub relaxes your muscles and tells your body it is time to drift away.

  • Grab a book-light reading will make you sleepy for sure. Just don't grab that super intense thriller you have been meaning to dive might not want to put it down.

  • Enjoy a cup of tea-herbal teas like Chamomile and other blends are great natural sleep aids.

  • Listen to soothing music. I have a CD called Music to Promote Sleep. It was specially created to promote sleep by using "entrainment"-the natural phenomenon that results in the synchronization of the rhythms or motions of separate entities. Recent scientific research has shown that music can help synchronize body rhythms such as heart rate, breath rate and brainwave vibrations (Clynes, M., and Walker, J. 1982). I keep this CD playing on "repeat" mode through the night. Visit to view their catalogue.

  • Pray! When I pray and meditate on God's word, I am reminded that all of my little worries are just that-little. It puts everything into perspective and I can rest, knowing that I am not in charge around here.

Well, it is officially a few minutes till my bedtime and I had better try to stick to this plan. This momma just doesn't function without some good S-L-E-E-P! Sweet dreams!!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Chomp, Chomp Away!

A while back, our daughter became a little obsessed with chewing gum. Well, at first she was imitating a behavior she’d seen. One night at dinner she took a bite of her food and…CHOMP, CHOMP, CHOMP. Her face was so adorable. Daddy and I glanced at one another, not quite sure what was going on. Our neighbor down the street babysits for us once in a while, and now that I was thinking of it, I couldn't recall a time I had ever seen her sans chewing gum. Ding! That must be where she got it.

“Mommy, look! I’m chewing gum.” Yep. She’s three going on twelve alright. For awhile my husband and I just ignored it. But when it escalated from food to obsessive paper chewing (toilet paper, drawing paper, a torn corner in the book I was reading!), we gave in and offered the real deal.

Thankfully I had some Spry gum on hand in the cupboard. This gum is made with xylitol, and is one of many Spry Dental Defense Products. Since it is sugar-free, has no artificial ingredients, and is actually recommended by dentists, my only concern was now a question of where I might be finding abandoned lumps of chewing gum around my house! To my surprise, our little one is quite responsible with her chewing gum habit. Now I can feel great about allowing her to have fun with this special treat, while fighting cavities at the same time.

I recently read an article in Healthy Living by Dr. Lon Jones, the physician who pioneered xylitol's use in a nasal spray for allergies, asthma and sinus problems, as well as middle-ear infections. Wow! I knew it had a reputation for helping fight cavities, but this is great news. Studies have confirmed that xylitol fights off pathogens in the nasal passages, promoting sinus and respiratory health. I also learned that xylitol not only reduces cavities in children and adults, but also actually starves the bacteria that cause cavities.

So what xylitol products are in my cupboard? In addition to the gum, my little one likes the mints and Sparx candies, I occassionally use granulated xylitol as a lower glycemic sweetener, and now we are using the Xlear nasal spray. For more details on the many benefits of xylitol, visit or call 877-599-5327.

Here's to sweet and natural health defense!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Big Bottle Swap!

Uuurgh! I just hate to find out that a product I LOVE is not as dreamy as I thought. I recently found that my beautiful Sigg bottles could be leaching PBA. Darn! I could ignore the information, but since I have gone to great lengths to have a chemical-free home, I am looking for alternatives. I have a friend who carries around a glass bottle everywhere she goes. Looks like I will be joining her. BUT I am also looking into swapping out my bottles for non-leaching stainless steel with The Big Bottle Swap. Click here to check it out!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Be Kind To Tender Tushies!

Our daughter has been potty-trained for over a year now...phew! I don't miss the frequent diaper changes, but they are not far from my memory. Let's face it. Poopey diapers are quite a mess. When I became a mommy, I did my research on baby products, wanting only the best for our little one. When I read the ingredients in the most popular brands of baby wipes, I was disappointed to find so many added chemicals.

I have tried several natural brands of wipes over the past few years, but my favorite are Whole Food's brand 365. They are natural, very emollient, and the least expensive I've found. They are hypo-allergenic, unscented, and whitened without chlorine bleach. While others seem to dry out a while after opening, 365 wipes are "sudsy". They really get the job done. We still use baby wipes for cleaning a little tushie in the morning after being in a night-time diaper. We also have them handy in the car. You never know when you might need one for a quick sticky-finger clean up!

For little ones who have graduated to the potty (and for anyone else with a sensitive tush), I recommend Tender Care flushable wipes. They are soft and gentle, and unlike other flushable wipes, they do not contain harsh chemicals. Alcohol-Free, hypoallergenic, with Vitamin E & Aloe, they are the only natural, flushable wipes I have found. Having these handy made my little one's transition out of diapers a little eaier on both of us! My only complaint would be that they are a bit small. These might be a good thing to bring on camping trips or other outdoor excursions. I have yet to find these here in Hawaii, so I stock up when on the mainland, at either Whole Foods or Mother's Market-a wonderful chain of natural stores in sunny Orange County, California.
Here's to cute little happy heinies!