Are You Getting The Most Out Of Your Vitamin

If you are already a patient of mine, then you know that I am super snobby about vitamins and supplements. But if you are not (or haven’t figured that out…?) then I want to make sure that you know why I am so snobby about them…

You see.. there is a difference.

natural solutions for a cold

Let me explain.. 
First there are various “tiers” of quality when it comes to supplements.

1. Tier One: This is your lowest quality of vitamins and minerals. This type is inconsistent in strength and is always of questionable sourcing. It is filled with fillers, “inactive ingredients” and made without thought as to what shouldn’t go in the body. You pay the least for these when it comes to financial cost but they may cause an upset stomach, side affects or they may not work at all. They also may be filled with allergens, pesticides and sugar. This level of supplement is the types of things you find at your drug store next to the prescription pharmacy and your toilet paper.

2. Tier two: This is a step up and has some variance in this level. This type you find at a health food store and includes some “discount brands” next to some more expensive versions.  While this tier is good for some things​​ and includes some very good brands (I love garden of life, for example) and may even be next to some brands that are included in Tier Three, they are generally part of a sea of confusion.  The risk in this group is that there is no standard of strength. For example, there is no guarantee that each bottle will contain the same strength of active ingredients- especially herbs. While some vitamins will be sourced from excellent sources, some will not. And unless you know a lot about the varying types of brands and the reputation of the companies, you are subject to the information from the person responsible for making sure they sell: the person that works there.
Even if the brand is “ok” there is a question of strength. For example, I bought an herb from one of these “ok” brands. Even though the bottle said it had the same number of milligrams as my Tier three​​ version of the same herb, I had to take 4 times as much to get the same results! This can be dangerous, because on many of these, there is a max dose of these herbs. And if one bottle has less of the active ingredient and the next has more, but they both say the same amount– then you could take enough that would harm you.. or not enough and think it doesn’t work. Some of this is quality control and some of this is ignorance. Did you know that the leaf and stem of the plant contain different “strengths”? But they may both weigh the same 20 mg.. or whatever weight is on the bottle. Bottom line: you are not getting consistent quality and may be wasting your money.

3.Tier three. This is the group of supplements sold by doctor’s offices. While you can find them in other places like Amazon, websites and sometimes in health stores (My health store sells 3), these supplements are the highest quality.  The strength is always the same and allergen information is clearly marked and strictly controlled.  In the industry, these are referred to as Nutriceuticals.  They are the quality used by functional medicine doctors to treat disease.  One benefit is that when you use one of these brands is that you do not have to use as much to get the same result, which actually ensures your safety and also that you get your money’s worth. 

In addition to the three tiers of quality there is the question of synthetic versus whole foods.

For vitamins, this comes into question of which is best and the answer is… it depends. You see, generally speaking, whole food forms are best. When synthetic vitamins were introduced into our society, cancer rates actually rose! This is the opposite of what we expected. But think of it in these terms: Vitamin C is not just Ascorbic Acid- but a complex of various components that make up Vitamin C. The various components work together for the body to boost the immune system and help it do all it needs to do.​​​​​
​When you isolate one part of a “team” of vitamins, you are left with only part of the equation.

Let me use another example. The coca leaf is what is used to make cocaine.  For centuries, the people of south american countries have been consuming the coca leaf with no real problems. That is because it contains more than just cocaine. It contains other components that balance the part that is isolated to make cocaine. When we take the isolated part away from the other parts of the “team”, we create imbalance.  Another word for imbalance in the body is… disease. In theory, this imbalance in the body’s input, can lead to imbalance in the body’s output. An orange will not cause cancer to rise because it is balanced with the rest of the fruit, but isolated it may cause imbalance.

However, there are some caveats.

It may be better to use a synthetic sometimes.  For example if you cannot get a high enough dose in a whole food form, then a synthetic may be a better option.  This would be necessary if you are looking for a therapeutic dose of either a specific nutrient or an isolated amino acid. This usually is used when you are trying to get a specific result from the vitamin, mineral or supplement.  An example of this would be when you are using something like 5HTP, a type of tryptophan to manipulate the body into making more serotonin.  Magnesium is another example of this as it is sometimes needed in high, therapeutic doses not able to be reached with whole food formulas.  It may also be because you need a specific type of magnesium (or other type of vitamin or mineral) to increase absorption.

Also, some types of formulas are better absorbed.  For example, liquids are more absorbable than capsules which are more absorbable than caplets or tablets, generally speaking.  You also have things like “liposomal” which are usually liquids or gelcaps and are metabolized by the liver instead of the stomach.  These are used when digestion may be compromised and affects the absorbability.

So as you see, there are a lot of factors that go into picking the right supplement for the right person and their situation.   If you are trying to fill your medicine cabinet, then go over and check out my online store to see some of my favorites.  You can also check out this article for some basics that you can keep in your cabinet and kitchen to help you and your family on a more regular basis.  Of course, talk to your doctor before taking anything to make sure it is right for your body and your health.

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Back to School Lunch Ideas- Tips and A Resource Round-UP (paleo)

School is back and so are school lunches. We had a break and that was nice but one of two things (or both) may be happening.. and even if it isn’t happening to our little darlings.. it is probably happening to our own lunches also: You are either stuck in a rut from summer or don’t want to repeat the rut from last year’s lunches.

So I wanted to make sure you had some fun options and ways to make lunch easy, but more interesting.  For your convenience, I have included some affiliate links.  For my full disclosure policy please click here.

First let’s start with the container. Presentation goes a long way but if you are like me, you are not going to get up early to cut their fruit into little starts and arrange their berries into a flag. If you are, then you are definitely getting an A+– but with this container you can still get an “A” without all the extra time and creativity put into a morning craft project at 6 a.m. For examples of what a simple lunch can look like in the container, check out this instragram page full of examples of why this container is not your average lunchbox. While not all of these examples are free of processed foods, they can give you an idea of how simple foods, with little preparation can be presented in a manner that makes them fun! To know more about these lunchboxes and why you should make an investment in this one instead of “that” one.. click here. It goes into how it is safer, for you and the environment.

Now let’s move onto the content: We have lots of options for no or low processed and grain free wraps to choose from for our little ones. But incase you are unfamiliar with your options- here are a few of my favorites:

  1. For “sandwiches”, I suggest either using a large lettuce, chard, collard leaf or nori sheet.  You can also consider sweet potato toast- which is super good and can be topped with nutbutter and fruit, or with avocado and turkey.  If none of these sound like a good option, then try this coconut wrap. You can fill it with lunchmeat and pickles or even with leftover tacos or a grassfed hotdog. I use these regularly at the office and they go great with ham and pickles or with fajitas, or even with sausage and kale:)
  2. Salads. A serious standby where lunch and health collide- but let’s not give ourselves or others we love the same salad day in and day out. For a way to shake things up while still making it delicous- try my Build-A-Salad formula: Something crunchy, Something fatty, Something savory and something sweet and dont forget a protein.   Althernatively, the best dishes in the world contain 5 flavors: salty, sweet, pungent, sour and nutty. An example of the first would be some cabbage or nuts for crunchy, some avocado or olive oil for fatty. You would then add some fresh herbs or cauliflower rice for savory and some berries or sweet potato for sweet and some chicken for protein (which could also be savory).  To follow the second method, you may try sea salt, berries, balsamic vinaigrette, and avocado. (I counted the vinaigrette as sour and pungent). By having a formula but changing the ingredients, you can consistenly produce delicous and exciting salads that change with what is available to you at a given time.
  3. leftovers.  Let’s not forget leftovers. Some people do not like to eat the same thing 2 days in a row and you dont have to! you can simply freeze them after eating them the first time and wait until the idea seems new again. freeze them in individual portions and let them thaw between the school bus and lunchtime. If need be, they can be taken out the night before to make sure that they are thawed out.
  4. Have a rotation of eating. Not buying the same ingredients every week ensures that you do not use the same ingredients every week.  Sounds logical, right? Be sure to rotate them not just week to week but also from season to season. You should be eating differently in the fall than the winter or summer: What you eat prepares your body for the weather it takes to grow that food: This means that if you want to feel cooler, then eat tropical food. If you want to feel lighter, eat summer foods. Always cold? try some root vegetables and warming soups.
  5. Resources. I wanted to put together some resources for some truly creative lunch ideas. So I put them together here. All together there are over 75 ideas all collected for you (and more!). So seriously, no excuses ya’ll!

I hope you have enjoyed the round up. if you enjoyed the post and would like to make sure you do not miss more content like this, then sign up below for my newsletter. Aside from not missing new content, you will also recieve recipes, health tips and exclusive offers and events just for my newsletter subscribers. Sign up today and don’t miss a thing!

Summer Bounty- Recipes for Summer (No Cook, Low Cook Seasonal)

Summer is here and the fruits are starting to pour in! It is berry season and for those of us who love fresh, organic produce, this means we have some extra choices in our produce selection. Extra choices are not limited to berries, as your local farmers market will start pouring in various delicious treats from all over your region such as peaches, yellow squash, microgreens and much more! Summer is a feast of delicious colors on our plate and on our grill (yum!). With it being a “fruit season”, I wanted to offer some great summer treat ideas that can be thrown together.  Now don’t live on fruit, (although it is tempting!) and be sure to get plenty of vegetables too.. but here are some easy ideas to use some of these seasonal favorites in compliant ways.  I have included low sugar fruits (apples, berries and citrus) and also included some higher sugar fruits.  Remember that the higher sugar fruits should be used “wisely” and in moderation.  If you do not do well with more carbohydrates/fructose (fructose is usually limited on an AIP diet but not specified for the Wahl’s diet) then limit yours.  For those who do well with a little more carbs in their diet, this is a great way to incorporate some of the nutrition that this season has to offer.  To balance the sugar from the higher sugar fruits, make sure you combine them with sources of potassium (like coconut water), mineral salts (like greens or celery), some protein (like on the side of a main dish), and some healthy fats (like avocado) for best metabolism.   You can also incorporate things like cinnamon and enzymes to aide in sugar metabolism (1, 2)  For more information on how to balance macronutrients to control blood sugar, be sure to check out the sources at the bottom of the page.  The links provided for your convenience may be affiliate links, for my full disclosure policy please click here.  These are varying theories/sources on ways to impact sugar metabolism and may be helpful in your journey.

But in the meantime, let’s get “cookin”. Seeing as how most of these recipes are “no cook” that is purely a form of speech.

Moroccan Side Salad.

This salad was introduced to me by a Norwegian family.  I found the unique flavors such an interesting mix of flavors.  There were no measurements given but the mother of the family usually just made a small (meaning large cereal bowl) portion and we all took a scoop.  She simply sliced the carrots, chopped the parsley into larger bite sized pieces and segmented the orange and served.  I like to squeeze a bit of the juice over the parsley and I suppose you could massage the leaves to let the acid break down the greens but she never did and I never complained.  It is really a quick delicious side dish and may be a great way to get kids to eat some veges (if you can get them to try something new!).

Berry Compote with Coconut Cream.

I love that this has  such a fancy name but is so simple.   This simply needs to

easy paleo desserts quick simple
Wild blueberry compote (frozen berries that have been heated with either coconut oil or water) Add some coconrut cream for a creamy version!

be heated but could also be served fresh.  Let me explain:  If you heat berries they call it a compote. If you leave them fresh it is still delicious. I once had a restaurant serve me a glass of fresh mixed berries in a large wine glass with homemade whipped cream on top.  I loved it.  So If you want to get fancy with a wine glass or even a martini glass, go for it! I serve this cold when its hot outside and warm when it is cold outside. I simply top it with Coconut Cream (look for no added ingredients) and if needed, add a bit of stevia extract or a teaspoon of honey to the cream. When in season, the berries should be sweet enough to not need a sweetener, in my humble opinion.

Banana “splits”.

I make my own coconut yogurt. I simply blend a can of full fat coconut milk in the blender.  I can add collagen protein to it to thicken or you could even add some arrowroot or tapioca starch to thicken if that is all you have.  I then put it in the fridge and most brands will stay blended and have a yogurt-like consistency.  I then take it out (usually the next morning or end of the night) and top it with things like sliced banana, fresh berrries, raisins, nuts (aip reintro), cacao nibs (aip reintro), carob chips, or anything else that may sound good. I treat it like icecream and make it into a “sundae”… its a great summer treat for kids.. or just the kid in you! You can add a little honey or stevia extract when you blend or when you top it out.. you can also add a probiotic for added good bacteria.  There are several recipes on the web for how to ferment it if you choose to put more time and effort into it.. but I usually stop at adding a probiotic and some collagen. I like to Keep It Simple, Silly:)

Apple “Cookies”

This one was not my idea but i truly think it is brilliant.  For the original idea from paleoeatsandtreats ciick here.  But for the AIP version, you will simply slice apples and top with coconut butter or alternate puree (such as applesauce, pumpkin butter, tigernut butter, or even smashed bananas or date-caramel sauce).  Then sprinkle with any dried fruit, carob chips, maybe some seasoning like cinnamon or vanilla, coconut flakes or anything you have around.  In the summer, I would dry some berries or even tropical fruit in the summer and in the winter, i would use things like raisins.  You could also switch out the coconut butter for some sweetened pumpkin puree for an Autumn Treat:) (yum!).

Pineapple Salsa 

This nightshade free “salsa” doesn’t really need a recipe as you can’t really mess it up. You could also make this with mango if you wish.  Simply chop up fresh pineapple and mix with red onion, lime juice, sea salt and some minced

Pineapple salsa over cod fillets with Jamaican-jerk cauliflower rice. Hello Summer Bounty!

radishes (optional- added spice!).  I would also add some chopped cilantro and pulse in the food processor until it is able to be dipped with some plantain chips.  This can be a fabulous snack alongside some AIP guacamole or topped on a taco salad or cauliflower-rice based taco bowl.  If you really want to feel indulgent, try topping some AIP tacos using this wrap as your burrito.

Fruit Salad

This is always a good stand-by and you can never go wrong with fruit salad.  You already know how to make this (chop a bunch of things and put them together in a bowl, remember?) but I wanted to include it because we tend to forget about the simple things we used to make that were healthy even though they were a part of an unhealthy leg of our life journey.  Although in the past we may have added sugar or some other sweetener, I assure you that was unneccessary and it will taste wonderful with nothing added.

These recipes should keep you busy for at “least” a week.. I hope they help you celebrate the summer bounty in a healthy and fun way.  If you like this post, feel free to sign up for my newsletter at the top of the page  Please Share this recipe to any group or person you think may enjoy it.  Sharing is Caring.

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Resources mentioned above.

  1. Medical Medium
  2. Enter the Zone

Top 10 Healing Summer Bucket List (Do This Now!)

top 10 healing summer bucket listSummer is usually a time where people take time off and get outside more. There is less on TV and longer days and much more to do. However, when you are suffering from a Chronic Illness such as an Autoimmune Disease, it can be tempting to stay indoors and avoid the heat and humidity.  But this season is an important opportunity for our health. You may have seen that meme on Facebook or Instagram that says “Winter Microbiomes are Made in the Summer”.  I gotta be honest, this one made me think. But it is true! Below I have made a top ten list of healing activities you can and should do before Summer is over to take advantage of the healing opportunities that this season has to offer you and your healing journey. Each section has a why, but there are more reasons than I was able to list- so make sure you look up more that seem approachable for you and find out more reasons that it may benefit you.

  1. Eat dinner outside. This one is fun, especially on nights that are not blistering hot. Eating outside reduces stress, and exposes us to increased oxygen levels from surrounding plants.  It also removes us from the daily toxin and fumes released by the furniture and building supplies surrounding us inside our homes and offices. Taking a break and breathing in some clean air instead of the formaldehyde, paint fumes and healing summer activitiesrecycled air we breath every other moment of our days. Increased oxygen makes our brain and bodies healthier.  It not only helps us detoxify, but feeds and supports healthy cells and helps defend against unhealthy cells. The de-stressing of sitting outside can also help your adrenals and immune system work better by placing your body in a parasympathetic (healing) state and turn off the sympathetic (fight or flight) state in which we often reside at the end of a work day.
  2. Watch the sunset (as often as possible). Doing this regularly can reset the circadian rhythm, making it easier to go to sleep at night and also allow us to rest more deeply so that we wake up refreshed.  Watching the sunset releases hormones in your brain, telling your body what time of day it is and preparing it for bedtime.  Avoiding blue lights such as LED lamps, phones, computers and televisions will help this also.
  3. Put your feet in the grass. Placing your bare feet in the grass, or Earthing as some call it is very healing to the body. The earth releases negative charges that help regulate our electrical systems in the body. This can help heal the body of a wide range of maladies, especially useful in neurological and cardiovascular disease due to the electrical quality of these systems.
  4. Eat watermelon.. and other fruits. The abundance of both sunshine and fruits during this season is an opportunity to load up on nutrients and their benefits to our body. Potassium, Vitamin C and many others are in high supply during this time while they are in low supply during winter months. By loading up now, you can give your body an advantage during the months that these nutrients are not as available. These days, many fear fruit, even during the summer months. But we are designed to be able to handle more carbohydrates in the summer months than we are able to handle during winter months, when less carbohydrates are available. So having one to 3 servings a day should be fine and beneficial (check with your doctor for your individual recommendations). A rule of thumb is that you can have up to 1 fruit for every 2 servings of vegetables. By using this rule of thumb, you should have no problem enjoy the bounty while keeping things in a healthy range.
  5. Go to the Beach (Or mountains). Let’s face it- these environments are healing. But the summer, best known for beach trips, is a great time to take advantage of the healing properties of the ocean. The salt, the sand and the sun all offer something to a healing journey. Many feel rejuvenated at the ocean and this is for good reasons. For more information on the healing benefits of the ocean click here and at the end of this article is 2 more articles on how the ocean heals you. Do you think this means we can write off our beach trips as a medical deduction? (just kidding.. sigh)
  6. Get some Sunshine. Did you know that your body stores Vitamin D (and other fat soluable vitamins) to be used for a later time? This means that by storing up the sunshine we get in the summer, we can protect our immune system during the dark winter months. If that isn’t motivation, I don’t know what is! While sun cancer is a scare, a moderate amount of 20 minutes, unprotected exposure a day is recommended for most, regardless of the season. This amount is great for most Caucasion skin tones, while those with darker skin tones will actually need more and very pale skin tones will need less.
  7. Swim in a lake. If you have ever been in a “swimming hole” then you know that these are not the places to wear a bathing suit with white on it! That is because swimming in lakes and such is dirty. But a lot of fun! Not only do these places provide good fun but also expose us to the environment that builds a good microbiome and a strong immune system. Being exposed to dirt, mud and lake water increases our microbiome diversity and helps us body, mind and soul.
  8. Eat fresh Seafood or Fish. I’m talking straight out of the water food. Whether you or your family fish or if you buy it straight off the pier from a local fisherman, this is a great time to get some wild-caught and delicious seafood or fish. While eating seafood, you have an opportunity to catch up on natural iodine and selenium (don’t worry, the selenium balances the iodine!) and lean protein.  The fresh caught fish provides good lean protein and a lighter, easily digested meal.
  9. Eat straight out of the garden. You may have seen the suggestions to “eat dirt” or have seen bottles with “soil based probiotics” listed on the ingredients. Fact is, that eating straight out of the garden exposes our GI winter microbiomes are made in the summertract to beneficial bacteria that help our bodies work better. This can help stomach issues, brain issues and the immune system all work better. While we don’t always know what else is in someone else’s garden and may want to be wary of things like chemicals, pesticides and improper fertilizers used elsewhere, growing something in a pot on our own porch or even in our own raised-bed garden is a great way to enjoy food “straight from the garden” and where we can feel comfortable eating a food that has not been washed.  After all, we wouldn’t put anything on our greens, or onions or tomatoes that we wouldn’t eat- would you? If you are new to gardening, I can say that micro-greens, herbs, leafy greens, and spring onions are very easy to grow for first time gardeners. Try growing these and eating a sample as you pick them, before washing them. Your body will thank you.
  10. Camping. Ok, this may be something you city gals and guys have to build up to doing. But let me assure you that there are places with showers, blow dryers and working real toilets.  There are tents (and campers..if you must) with screened in porches.  There are electrical plugs at campsites and you can bring a grill. But let me point out that if you do this activity, you can combine all of the first 9 on this list into one weekend.  My family goes camping near the beach where we eat fresh seafood from a local fisherman and spend one of our days at the beach. By the time a long, 4 day weekend is over, we have reset our circadian rhythms, have more energy, are better rested, and have an energy boost that lasts all month. It is truly healing. While we do not go in the heat of summer, we do go at Easter and again at labor day weekend. In the heat of the summer, we would like to go into the mountains to escape the heat but still enjoy the fruits of summer (where it is about 20 degrees cooler).

So there it is: Your summer bucket list. There is still time to book your weekend for labor day and get it all done. Remember-life is for living. Summer included.

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