Balance Hormones and Increase Fertility with These Natural Supplements

natural_fertility_supplements

When your hormones are off, you know it. Whether your period shows up unexpectedly early, or you find yourself inexplicably sobbing at a red light or screaming at your family for no good reason, hormones out of whack really mess with your mind and body. I’ve experienced every extreme of the spectrum myself, from adult acne worse than a teenager, to distressing hot flashes multiple times an hour during which I swear I could feel my ovaries dying. Some of the signs of hormonal imbalance are more subtle or surprising, though. Common symptoms of hormonal imbalance include:

  • Irritability, anxiety, anger, depression, mood swings
  • Low sex drive, vaginal dryness, painful intercourse
  • Brain fog, poor memory, attention problems
  • Hot flashes, acne breakouts, hair loss
  • Weight gain, fatigue, cyclical headaches
  • Insomnia, poor sleep, night sweats
  • Endometriosis, irregular periods, infertility, miscarriage
  • Pain, thickening, lumps, or cysts
  • Cramps, bloating, irregularity, diarrhea, nausea

When we think of hormones, most of us first think of estrogen, but our bodies are constantly working to balance a wide array of hormones, including not only estrogen but also thyroxine, testosterone, progesterone, aldosterone, melatonin, epinephrine, FSH, LH, and many others. An imbalance with any one of your hormones can throw off all the rest. Even an imbalance in, or complete lack of, certain nutritional precursors to hormones can affect hormonal balance, as your body needs particular vitamins and minerals to synthesize hormones. A variety of factors can affect hormonal balance, including:

  • Time of the month
  • Medications
  • Hormonal therapy
  • Birth control
  • Life stages such as pregnancy or menopause
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Adrenal fatigue
  • PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome)
  • Excess stress

There are several points in life where supplements to balance the hormones could be highly beneficial: when you are going through puberty, or later, perimenopause; if you are struggling with infertility; or if you have symptoms of hormonal imbalance that disrupt your life. If any of these situations describes yours, you may benefit from taking steps to improve hormonal balance.

How to balance hormones naturally

The simplest place to start is with diet and lifestyle changes. It’s important to exercise regularly, but not too intensely; over-exertion may exacerbate the hormonal problems. Make sure to avoid sugar, caffeine, alcohol, soy, omega-6 vegetable oils, and of course, smoking. Any of these may intensify the effects of a hormonal imbalance. For some, avoiding wheat and/or dairy may also help. Choose organic foods and minimize environmental toxins; xenoestrogens, found in pesticides and plastics, can wreak havoc on hormones. Get enough sleep, and eliminate artificial light during the night. Artificial light interferes with melatonin levels as well as ovulation, so use blackout curtains and cover any digital clocks or other light-up electronics. Decrease stress as much as possible — easier said than done, I know! And here’s a surprising tip to aid in hormone balance: eating a raw carrot a day may correct estrogen dominance.

Supplements to balance hormones

Fermented cod liver oil contains vitamins A and D, plus omega-3s. Omega-3s help regulate hormones and also reduce inflammation, which is a common issue in those with hormonal imbalances. Low vitamin D levels have been linked to endometriosis, PCOS, and endocrine disorders. One study found that rats deficient in vitamin D were 75% less fertile than their counterparts. Vitamin A combats acne and is needed for thyroid function. Some anecdotal evidence that FCLO really works: I was suffering from severe hot flashes several times an hour, all day long and through the night. It was really disrupting my life. Within days of starting to take Green Pasture Fermented Cod Liver Oil, my hot flashes had reduced to only 1-3 mild warm flashes a day!

Magnesium supports the production of progesterone and is also needed for egg production. Magnesium regulates levels of cortisol, blood sugar, and thyroid hormones, and it’s a precursor to the hormones estrogen and testosterone.

Gelatin and collagen support hormone production as they contain amino acids that balance out those found in muscle meat. This in turn balances out the thyroid, which is critical for keeping all other hormones in balance.

Coconut oil taken internally can aid in thyroid function and increase low basal body temperatures. Plus, you can use coconut oil externally for the dry skin and acne caused by hormonal imbalance.

Female Fuzion contains maca root and other hormone-balancing herbs and is specifically formulated to support female hormone production.

Adaptogenic herbs such as cordyceps, ashwagandha, and rhodiola rosea help the body to adapt to stress, improve mood, lower anxiety, and reduce the symptoms of menopause.

Additional hormone-balancing supplements to try include evening primrose oil, iodine, maca powder, and black cohosh.

Are there supplements to help with infertility?

The pain of infertility can be so paralyzing. It’s something close to my heart; it took us well over a year to conceive our first (and currently, only) child, and there was a long time during which I thought it might never happen. As soon as my son was born, we began trying for number two. Four years later, when a life-threatening illness forced us to stop trying altogether, I still hadn’t managed to get pregnant again. We are so blessed to have one wonderful child, but it’s also painfully hard to give up on our dream of giving him a sibling and having a large family. One reason I wanted to write this blog post was that, when and if we get the okay to resume trying to conceive, I wanted to be more prepared with an arsenal of supplements for healthy hormone balance. I also wanted to share this knowledge with others struggling with primary or secondary infertility, in the hopes that it might help someone somewhere achieve a much wanted pregnancy. In addition to the hormone-balancing supplements above and a good organic prenatal vitamin, here are some of the supplements I’ve discovered may be especially helpful for those trying to conceive:

I know I’ve already mentioned cod liver oil, but it bears repeating, as it also tops the list of fertility supplements. Studies have found that omega 3 fatty acid supplementation is associated with higher pregnancy rates, lower miscarriage rates, and lower risk of premature birth. Cod liver oil is also high in vitamin D, which research has noted is important for uterine development, healthy, mature egg production, and normal fetal growth and development. Try Green Pasture Fermented Cod Liver Oil or Rosita Extra-Virgin Cod Liver Oil.

B vitamins are also essential for anyone trying to get pregnant. Folate is essential for preventing neural tube defects. B6 may increase fertility in women; it lengthens the luteal phase and corrects progesterone imbalance. B12 is correlated with normal ovulation, egg development, and implantation. In men, B6 is needed for proper sperm development, and B12 may improve low sperm count.Try one of these High Quality B-Complex vitamin supplements.

Zinc is vitally important for women & men trying to conceive. It improves libido, keeps ovulation normal, and allows the body to effectively utilize hormones. Zinc is crucial for cell growth and repair as well as DNA production. Insufficient zinc levels in a pregnant mother may lead to chromosomal abnormalities, miscarriage, prematurity, or low birth weight. In men, low zinc levels lead to low sperm count.

Vitamin E is important for both male and female fertility. In men, vitamin E appears to better allow sperm to permeate an egg. It also boosts sperm count and quality. In women, inadequate vitamin E has been linked with infertility. A vitamin E supplement aids in ovulation and implantation, plus reduces the risk of miscarriage. For naturally occurring vitamin E as well as those important omega 3’s, try Walkabout Emu Oil.

Co-enzyme Q10 (ubiquinol) has been found to improve blood flow to the pelvis and particularly the uterus, while low CoQ10 levels have been linked to miscarriage. In one study, older mice given CoQ10 supplements had enhanced egg quality and increased conception rates. Pass some to your man, too; CoQ10 also increases sperm count and motility

Vitamin C balances female hormones such as estrogen and progesterone. If you have low progesterone levels, short luteal phase, or other luteal phase defects, vitamin C may be able to correct the issue and boost fertility. Vitamin C also appears to reduce the risk of PROM (premature rupture of membranes).  Don’t overdo it, though; vitamin C supplementation in excess of 2000 mg a day may create a hostile environment for sperm and for implantation, and may also increase the risk of premature delivery. Try Catie’s Whole Food Vitamin C  or Pure Synergy Pure Radiance C for a vitamin C supplement from real food. Vitamin C is another supplement that also improves male fertility; vitamin C improves sperm motility and also has the ability to protect sperm from DNA damage, which is important because DNA damage in sperm makes it harder to conceive and raises the risk of miscarriage if conception does occur.

Other fertility supplements to consider include red clover, maca, chasteberry (Vitex), royal jelly, and red raspberry leaf. When taking supplements for fertility, it is important to remember that it may take several full menstrual cycles for these supplements to make a difference, and there is no guarantee that you will get pregnant. Make sure to talk to your health care professional to ensure these supplements are right for you and won’t interfere with any other medications, fertility drugs, or preexisting health issues.

For a comprehensive look at hormones through all life stages for women, check out this blog, by Amchara.

By Ali Wetherbee

Natural Remedies for Colds & Flu

Beat colds & flu to get back to you!

Cold and flu season is in full swing and there have been lots of runny noses and coughing around these parts lately! Fortunately, we have some great natural remedies for all those yucky symptoms.

The elderberry syrup recipe featured below is one of the first supplements to turn to when you start feeling something coming on. Rich in vitamins A, B, and C, elderberry syrup is a natural alternative to flu shots that you can make at home for only a few dollars. Not only has elderberry syrup been found to prevent the flu, but it also shortens the duration of illness for those who’ve already succumbed to the flu. Plus, you can customize homemade elderberry syrup to suit your needs — for example, substituting manuka honey for extra antiviral and antibacterial benefits, adding a spoonful or two of cocoa powder to relieve coughs, or turning it into gummy candies to better appeal to kids.

Wedderspoon Organic Manuka Honey Drops – Lemon with Bee Propolis
All the antibacterial and anti-inflammatory benefits of manuka honey are packed into these convenient Organic Manuka Honey Drops – perfect for soothing sore throats and coughs.

We have also found vitamin C powder to stop colds in their tracks, and many studies indeed support vitamin C’s ability to lessen the severity and duration of a cold. Catie’s Vitamin C Plus is made from organic plant foods, not synthetic ascorbic acid. Mix a spoonful into a glass of water for a tasty fruit punch that’s actually good for you! Or try Pure Radiance C , a mix of wild-harvested camu camu berries and organic acerola cherries with antioxidant-rich organic fruits and berries combined to be a 100% natural form of vitamin C.

To alleviate the sinus pressure and congestion accompanying winter bugs, VAXA Sinus Formula combines traditional herbs with homeopathic ingredients to reduce sinus congestion and post-nasal drip, decrease sneezing, coughing, and swollen eyes, and eliminate that “stuck in a bell” feeling caused by blocked ears, dizziness, and vertigo. If you’re more prone to respiratory problems than sinus troubles, GHC AllerTrex eases swollen, inflamed bronchial passages and helps clear out mucous and supports the lungs.

Finally, for the congestion and all-over aches and pains that the flu may cause, Calm Balm is a natural alternative to vaporub, relieving congestion and soothing aches and pains with healing fermented cod liver oil, high vitamin butter oil, coconut oil, menthol camphor, and essential oils. And don’t forget the old standby of hot tea with lemon and honey — just a cup or two always makes me feel so much better!

While colds and flus don’t generally require antibiotics — in fact, antibiotics may be completely ineffective in these situations and contribute to the development of superbugs — some bacterial infections such as strep throat, certain sinus infections or ear infections, and some types of pneumonia may require additional treatment. Natural remedies for bacterial complications include colloidal silver, raw garlic, and manuka honey, all of which may be more effective than prescription antibiotics, without the dangerous side effects and the ability to breed superbugs.

If you do opt to take antibiotics, the best way to protect your immune system and digestive tract is to take probiotics daily during and after the course of antibiotics. Prescript-Assist restores the beneficial bacteria that are wiped out by antibiotics so that you can return to good health quickly and get back to the activities you love. Feel better soon!


Get 10% OFF these cold and flu supplements with coupon code: FluFighters


Feel the effects of elderberry & honey home remedies.

Homemade Elderberry Syrup

Wellness Mama makes this yummy elderberry syrup to prevent flu, as well as treat it. Use regular honey when making for a preventative, but use manuka honey when taking for treatment of an active illness, to give an added boost to the immune system. In addition to having powerful illness-fighting abilities, elderberry syrup is a delicious topping for pancakes, waffles, plain yogurt, or even a bowl of newly-fallen snow!

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup black elderberries
  • 3 1/2 cups filtered water
  • 2 Tbs ginger root
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 tsp cloves or clove powder
  • 1 cup raw honey (preventative) or manuka honey (acute illness)

Directions:

  1. Add all ingredients except honey to a saucepan. You do not want to heat the honey, as this will destroy many of the beneficial compounds, so we’ll add this at the end.
  2. Bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until liquid is reduced by about half. Wellness Mama said this will take 45 minutes to an hour, but it took me over 2 hours.
  4. Remove saucepan from heat and allow to cool a bit.
  5. Use a mesh strainer or cheesecloth to strain the liquid into a jar or bowl.
  6. The elderberries are no longer needed; you can compost them, but they are also great in pancakes or muffins!
  7. Allow the liquid to cool, then mix in the honey.
  8. Pour into smaller mason jars and refrigerate.

Recommended Dosage:

The preventative dose for kids is 1/2 – 1 tsp a day; for adults, take 1/2 – 1 Tbs a day. Many suggest skipping the weekend doses to further boost immunity.

During a cold or flu, take the usual dose, but increase the frequency to every 2-3 hours until symptoms subside.

Elderberry Gummies

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan, combine elderberry syrup and lemon juice.
  2. When it is hot, slowly add the gelatin. If it is added too fast it may clump and leave gross lumps in the gummies. Stir constantly until the  gelatin is completely dissolved. The mixture gets a glassy look when this has occurred.
  3. Remove from heat and let cool. You want it to be no warmer than 115° before you add the honey. The mixture should still be a warm enough to mix the honey easily, but not so hot it will destroy the beneficial compounds of the manuka.
  4. If you don’t have a silicon mold, then use coconut oil to grease the sides of a bread pan. Once the honey is completely combined into the mixture, pour into silicon mold or into the bread pan.
  5. Put into the freezer for 20 – 30 minutes.
  6. Remove from freezer and pop out of the mold. If you used the bread pan, then cut into bite size pieces for easier removal from the pan.

Manuka Honey & Lemon Cough Drops

If you or your child has a cough you want to treat, then these homemade gummy drops are an excellent choice. Even regular honey has been used medicinally for treating coughs, and has been shown in studies to be just as effective as over-the-counter cough suppressants. Manuka honey does this and more with its extra immune-boosting and healing  properties. Coconut oil is loaded with antioxidants and contains lauric acid, which gives it its ability to kill viruses and germs, so these little babies can help suppress the cough and help your body fight the cold at the same time.

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan, combine coconut oil and lemon juice.
  2. When it is hot, slowly add the gelatin. If it is added too fast it may clump and leave gross lumps in the gummies. Stir constantly until the  gelatin is completely dissolved. The mixture get a glassy look when this has occurred.
  3. Remove from heat and let cool. You want it to be no warmer than 115° before you add the honey, as higher temperatures will reduce the effectiveness of manuka honey.
  4. If you don’t have a silicon mold, then use coconut oil to grease the sides of a bread pan. Pour the mixture into a silicon mold or bread pan.
  5. Freeze for 20 – 30 minutes.
  6. Remove from freezer and pop out of the mold, or if you used a bread pan, use a knife to cut into bite size pieces.

All supplements mentioned above are 10% OFF! Enter coupon code “FluFighters” at checkout.

By Ali Wetherbee and Kerrie Bross

Beat the Winter Blues

Natural_mood_enhancerBy Ali Wetherbee

As the days get colder and darker, 25 million people across the country suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and up to 20% of Americans are dragged down by a milder form of seasonal depression. Depressed mood is not the only symptom of the winter blues; many may not notice any change in mood but instead will experience low energy, fatigue, trouble waking in the morning, insomnia, increased appetite, carbohydrate cravings, and weight gain. Other mood changes include irritability, anxiety, panic attacks, a lack of interest in usual activities, and withdrawal from family and friends. You may experience just a couple of these issues or many; make sure to see your doctor to be sure another medical condition is not causing your symptoms. If your doctor gives the OK for you to treat your winter blues naturally, here are some things you can try.

Omega-3s

Omega-3 supplementation, ideally from fish oil, is one of the most important things you can do to counteract seasonal depression, because these essential fatty acids increase production of serotonin. Studies on various populations throughout the world find that in countries where little or no fish is consumed, depression rates are up to 50 times greater than countries with high fish consumption. Multiple studies have found that low PUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acid) levels are associated with more severe depression. A Norwegian study with over 21,000 participants found that regular cod liver oil supplementation led to 30% fewer depressive symptoms, with longer periods of supplementation correlating with the lowest levels of depression. Green Pasture Fermented Cod Liver Oil is an excellent source of omega-3s/PUFAs and is one of the highest quality fish oil supplements on the market. It is available in several flavors and either liquid or capsule form. If you are already taking fish oil, now is the time to increase your daily dose. While fish and fish oil are generally considered the ideal sources of omega-3s, vegetarians and vegans may experience some of the omega-3 benefits from walnuts and flax seed oil.

Vitamin D

The other essential component in combatting SAD is ensuring that you are getting adequate vitamin D. Called “the sunlight vitamin” by many, vitamin D supplementation is particularly crucial for those who get little direct sunlight exposure. People with depression often have low vitamin D levels, which makes sense since this vitamin is necessary for serotonin and dopamine production. A review of research published in Nutrients found that in the studies without flaws, vitamin D supplementation of 800IU or more, when substantial enough to demonstrate a change in vitamin levels, was about as effective as antidepressant medication at managing depression. There is also some speculation that low vitamin D levels signal our bodies to go into winter metabolic mode, leading to weight gain over the coldest months. While the Recommended Daily Allowance of Vitamin D is only 400IU for adults, many experts are now recommending much larger doses, up to 4000 or 5000IU a day or more, for optimal health and wellbeing. Vitamin Code Raw D3 contains 5000IU of raw, whole food D3, along with probiotics and enzymes to optimize absorption.

Exercise

Since exercise boosts serotonin levels and levels of other feel-good hormones, working out daily can go a long way in easing the blues. If you don’t enjoy running and biking outside in the cold, you can join a gym, invest in a treadmill or elliptical, or find home workouts online or on your phone. Just half an hour a day, or an hour three times a week, has been shown to be just as effective as taking an antidepressant, alleviating depression in 60-70% of study participants. If it’s been a while since you’ve last exercised, or you’re having trouble getting going due to lack of motivation, start out with just 10 jumping jacks in the morning, and slowly work up to a full workout. Check out our Pinterest board for workout ideas and routines. Find something you love, because you’ll be more likely to stick to it if you enjoy doing it.

Reset Your Body Clock

Swap your light bulbs for full-spectrum lights, and get plenty of time outdoors or by a window. Sunlight on a bright sunny day can be 100 times brighter than even the brightest indoor lighting. Morning light is crucial to keeping your body clock on track, so try to get outside for a short walk when you start your day. Light therapy boxes are available too, if you aren’t able to spend time outdoors. Always get your daily light exposure during daytime hours, because at night it can interfere with melatonin production. Also, melatonin levels decline as we age, sometimes preventing the deep, restorative sleep that we need to feel our best. Some people with the winter blues find that a small dose of melatonin not only helps them sleep better and regulates the internal body clock, but also improves mood and other depressive symptoms. Try Melatonin Sleep Support Spray by Mercola, and consider experimenting with the timing of your dose, as some SAD studies have found benefit to afternoon, and even morning, melatonin supplementation.

Herbal Antidepressants

Several herbs and natural formulas can help with depression, whether seasonal or chronic. A supplement known as 5-HTP, or 5-hydroxytryptophan, can help raise serotonin levels as it is a precursor to serotonin synthesis. Use this supplement with caution, as it may interact with prescription antidepressants, and take it only for a short period of time. SAM-e, a chemical naturally found in the body, is also available as a supplement, and can reduce symptoms of depression. An herb called St. John’s Wort seems to work similarly to an SSRI by keeping serotonin circulating through the brain, and many studies have found it to be as effective as prescription antidepressants. None of these three supplements should be taken alongside a prescription antidepressant without a doctor’s supervision, as this could lead to life-threatening serotonin syndrome. Consult your doctor before trying these supplements if you suffer from bipolar disorder.

Diet & Vitamins

Despite the intense carb cravings you may be experiencing, it is best to avoid sugar, starches, and simple carbohydrates such as white bread or pasta, as they will cause highs and lows as well as lead to weight gain. Also avoid or limit caffeine, which can suppress serotonin levels. Instead, focus on bright, colorful fruits and veggies, whole grains, fish, nuts, and seeds.

Make sure you are getting enough vitamins and minerals. Calcium and magnesium are required not only for serotonin production, but also for absorption and utilization of vitamin D. Magnesium has a relaxing effect on nerves and muscles. Dr. Frank Lipman, who combines Eastern and Western medicine in his practice, says, “Insufficient levels of magnesium can compound SAD symptoms by inhibiting the conversion of tryptophan to 5-HTP, which can decrease the production of mood-stabilizing serotonin and melatonin. To boost magnesium levels in winter, I recommend taking 400-600mg at bedtime.” Try Catie’s Whole Food Magnesium along with Catie’s Raw Vegetable Calcium, or if you prefer an all-in-one supplement, opt for Garden of Life Raw Calcium, which contains 80% of the daily value of calcium as well as 100% of magnesium, along with other trace minerals, or Natural Vitality Balanced CalMag, which contains the ideal ratio of calcium to magnesium.

A B-Complex supplement is also helpful. Research is finding that high B vitamin intake is associated with less depression. B-12 supplementation often improves energy, and B-6, which is particularly supportive during periods of stress, aids in the production of serotonin, melatonin, and dopamine. Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw B-Complex provides these essential vitamins as well as inositol, a vitamin-like substance that has been shown to improve depression by augmenting serotonin activity in the brain. Catie’s Whole Food B-Complex is another great option.

What else can you do?

Go for a massage — studies have found it to increase serotonin. It doesn’t seem to matter if the massage is done by a professional, a partner, or a friend. Any physical contact with another human may be beneficial, so if you can’t get a massage, at least get (or give) more hugs, and spend more time cuddling with your partner or children. Another simple way to boost serotonin levels is to reminisce about happy moments. “Think happy thoughts,” such as remembering in vivid detail your wedding day, a fun outing with a relative, a party with a friend, or a ride on the carousel when you were a child. Remembering negative events has the opposite effect and decreases serotonin, so try to avoid listening to bad news stories or rehashing difficult life situations. Consider coming up with a happy memory list to use as a starting point for those moments when you find yourself reminiscing about sad events.

Get Help

If these supplements and lifestyle changes are not helping, or if you are experiencing more severe depression, suicidal thoughts, or other serious problems, consult a doctor or therapist immediately. Don’t attempt to fight it off on your own — help is available. Natural options are great as a first resort or for milder winter blues, but some people may require professional treatment. If you are in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 immediately.

Two Healthy Recipes for Superfood Chocolates

coconut_oil_recipeBy Ali Wetherbee

Healthy chocolates?! Yes! Today we have two yummy recipes made with nutritious ingredients and superfood powders for totally guilt-free, good-for-you chocolates.

Frozen Chocolate Superfood Bites

Did you know grapes are a type of berry? Like most berries, grapes are nutritional powerhouses and full of healthy antioxidants, especially resveratrol. Frozen grapes give these superfood bites a delicious cool juiciness, while a superfood chocolate blend further boosts their antioxidant content and adds essential vitamins and minerals. The coconut oil adds essential fatty acids, including healthy medium chain triglycerides and lauric acid, and gives theses a great coconut flavor!

Ingredients:

Method:

Wash, dry, and freeze grapes at least 30 minutes ahead of time. In a bowl, combine remaining ingredients and mix until smooth and glossy. Dip the frozen grapes in the chocolate mixture one at a time and spread out on a tray or baking sheet. We learned the hard way that just dumping all the frozen grapes into the chocolate at once will leave you with a big clumpy ugly mess! Once all the grapes are covered in chocolate, put the tray back in the freezer for 30 more minutes or until chocolate has hardened. Store in fridge or freezer.

Superfood Chocolates

These creamy, fudgy, dark chocolates are a tasty way to get your daily dose of fruits, veggies, and greens. Catie’s Organic Greens and Vaxa Harvest Fusion powders give these chocolates adaptogenic, probiotic, antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial benefits, and tons of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to fill any nutritional gaps in your diet.powdered_greens_recipes

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup finely chopped raw cocoa butter, melted (1/2 cup melted)
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup raw cacao powder
  • 2 T cashew butter or sunbutter
  • 1 T Vaxa Harvest Fusion Powder
  • 1 T Catie’s Organic Greens Powder
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • Pinch of sea salt

Method:

Melt the cocoa butter in a double boiler at a low temperature. Once the cocoa butter has melted, mix all ingredients together in the double boiler, and stir until mixture is smooth and free of lumps. Pour into mini cupcake papers. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before eating. Store in fridge, or at room temperature for a softer, fudge-like chocolate.

Variations:

  • Add nuts and/or dried fruits into cupcake papers while the chocolate is still soft. One of our favorites was a mix of pecans and cranberries. Cashews taste great too!
  • Use extracts for a flavor boost. Mint extract (1/8 teaspoon, stirred in before pouring into cupcake papers) is one option we tried, but experiment with what you have on hand and let us know if you come up with any great combinations!

Mandatory GMO Labeling Legislation Passed in Vermont!

By Ali Wetherbee

Don't you wish it was this easy to spot GMOs in our food?

For many of us, wandering around the grocery store trying to find healthy, minimally-processed, organic foods with acceptable ingredients is quite the challenge. How many times have you gotten halfway down a list of ingredients only to see “partially hydrogenated soybean oil” or “high fructose corn syrup” and put the item back on the shelf? It’s like walking through a minefield! We are also on the lookout for genetically modified ingredients, but since most foods are not labeled, we simply have to guess. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to turn over a package and clearly see “genetically engineered corn” in the ingredients list? In Vermont, this will soon be a reality!

First GMO Labeling Law Passed in Vermont

Last month, Vermont passed the first “no strings attached” GMO labeling law, H.112. By July 1, 2016, all genetically engineered products sold in Vermont must be labeled. In addition, foods labeled “natural” or “all natural” cannot have genetically modified ingredients. The passing of this law was the result of a grassroots campaign which garnered out of state support from companies including Mercola, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, and the Organic Consumers’ Fund. This is landmark legislation that may pave the way for the rest of the country to follow suit.

According to Paul Burns, executive director of Vermont Public Interest Research Group, “By passing this law with no strings attached, Vermont has sent a message out loud and clear: that no company – no matter how big, no matter how rich, no matter how powerful – can deny you the right to know what’s in your food.” However, those big companies will be fighting back. Since 2012, Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) have successfully attacked GMO labeling legislation in over 30 states. Now they are rallying against Vermont’s new law and suing the state in federal court. Vermont, however, is ready with a “food fight” legal defense fund, and is predicted to win.

Progress Across the Country

Vermont isn’t the only area making strides against GMOs. Two counties in Oregon’s Rogue Valley just passed bans against the growing of genetically modified crops. About a dozen counties across the country have already banned GMO crops, but the bans in Oregon are noteworthy because, unlike most of the other areas where bans have passed, these counties in Oregon actually had GMO crops growing before the ban. Those who grow genetically modified crops now have one year to either harvest or destroy them, or face penalties. Experts expect these bans to end up in court.

In national news, the Senate Appropriations Committee has passed an amendment to the FY 2015 Agriculture Appropriations bill which would require labeling of genetically engineered salmon. This bill will hit the Senate floor soon. Aqua Bounty has already bred AquAdvantage, a genetically engineered salmon, which is under its final stage of FDA review. Almost 2 million Americans have sent messages to the FDA voicing opposition against what will be the first genetically modified animal approved for human consumption.

More than 30 states are working on GMO labeling legislation. Connecticut and Maine have already passed labeling laws that will take effect if enough neighboring states enact similar legislation. Worldwide, 61 countries require labeling of genetically modified food, and 27 countries have already banned GMOs.

Top GMO Crops

GMO labeling could mean we wind up shelving more items than we’d ever imagined. Sixty to seventy percent of processed foods contain GMO ingredients. In the U.S., the top genetically-modified crops are corn, soy, and sugar beets. More than 88% of corn and 94% of soy grown in the U.S. are genetically modified. Squash, zucchini, papaya, and canola and cottonseed oils are also heavily genetically modified. Genetically modified bacteria has been synthesized into rBGH, a hormone used in cows to increase production of milk and dairy products. While no fish, eggs, and meat currently available for human consumption are genetically modified, most are raised on genetically modified feed.

Brands to Boycott

What can we do as consumers? One effective tactic is to boycott those fighting against GMO legislation. The companies involved even come cloaked in “natural” or “organic” disguises — the brands below are actually owned by Grocery Manufacturers Association members. These are some of the brands to boycott. You can download the Buycott App to scan & check products when you’re at the store.

Brands that are fighting against GMO labeling:

  • IZZE, Naked Juice, Simply Frito-Lay, and Starbucks Frappuccino are owned by PepsiCo.
  • Honest Tea and Odwalla are owned by Coca-Cola.
  • Gerber Organic and Sweet Leaf tea are owned by Nestle.
  • Simply Asia and Thai Kitchen are owned by McCormick.
  • Boca Burgers and Green and Black’s are owned by Kraft/Mondelez.
  • Cascadian Farm, Larabar, and Muir Glen are owned by General Mills.
  • Alexia and Pam organic cooking sprays are owned by ConAgra.
  • Bear Naked, Gardenburger, Kashi, and Morningstar Farms are owned by Kelloggs.
  • Plum Organics and Wolfgang Puck organic soups are owned by Campbells.
  • Dagoba is owned by Hersheys.
  • RW Knudsen, Santa Cruz Organic, and Smuckers Organic are owned by Smuckers.
  • Earthgrain bread is owned by Bimbo Bakeries.
  • Burts Bees is owned by Clorox.

GMO-Free Brands

There are safe food products and supplements available. Many companies have pledged to avoid GMOs and are actively supporting labeling laws. These include:

This is not an all-inclusive list, so be sure to verify companies you frequently purchase from. The Institute for Responsible Technology & The Non-GMO Project have compiled a shopping guide of many GMO-free companies, available online or and on the iPhone App Store. When in doubt, opt for organic, because certified organic foods by law cannot contain GMOs.

Dr. Oz 2 Week Diet: The New Year's Two Week Rapid Weight Loss Method Part 1

Dr. Oz 2 Week Diet:  Enjoy Your Two Week Rapid Weight Loss!

Two Week Rapid Weight Loss Diet

by Colleen Russell

Last week, Dr. Oz announced his new 2 week diet plan; the Dr. Oz Two Week Rapid Weight Loss Diet.  We love a diet plan that comes with positive testimonials, and this one already has hundreds of success stories.  In addition to the January 6, 2014 audience, a group whose two-week weight loss totals averaged 9 pounds, Dr. Oz said that his entire staff was using the 2 week diet with great success.  Weight loss is not the only benefit of this diet plan, though.  Following the strict regimen of daily breakfast smoothies, healthy eating, and detox drinks can reportedly drastic decrease in decrease problems related to diabetes, food sensitivities, and even chronic pain.

According to Dr. Oz, “if you stick to this for two weeks, it can change everything.”

 Can You Commit Two Weeks to Weight Loss?

After a holiday season ripe with overeating, you may be feeling sluggish, bloated, and gassy.  Now that we have started a fresh new year, are you ready to commit just two weeks to rapid weight loss?  Dr. Oz spent an entire year researching the “top diets with the latest science.” in order to bring us the Dr. Oz Two Week Rapid Weight Loss Diet.  Drawing inspiration from best-selling books Ultra Simple Diet, Wheat Belly, and The Grain Brain Oz came up with a 3-part plan for detoxing and cleansing the body.  I’m not going to tell you that it will be easy, but I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.

Dr. Oz says “I want everyone at home to jump on board.”

How Does the Dr. Oz 2 Week Rapid Weight Loss Diet Work?

  1. The first step of the Dr. Oz 2 week diet plan is to eliminate foods that are making you “sick and fat.”   This is, by all accounts, the hardest part.   Dr. Oz brought audience members on stage to recount their experiences, and the consensus was that the first two days are tough, but the cravings begin to dissipate on the third day.

    1. No Wheat

    2. No sweeteners

    3. No sugars (including alcohol!)

    4. No coffee or caffeine. (green tea ok)

    5. No dairy (except for greek yogurt)

  2. Eat an unlimited amount of low-glycemic index vegetables from the list below.  Drink an unlimited amount of Detox Broth from the recipe below.  (Or use greens powder for an easy-to-make equivalent!)

  3. Take a daily regimen of probiotics and and multivitamins to help propel weight loss.

How Can I Lose Weight Rapidly with a 2 Week Diet?

According to Dr. Oz, we are all guilty of eating foods that are making us sick and fat.  To make matters worse, these foods are so addictive that we crave them!   It turns out that it’s not our “lack of will-power” that is making us continue to eat the wrong things.  Removing items from our diet that are causing negative health effects detoxifies the gut and gives us the control to make the right choices.

  • Eliminating wheat, a food source that causes inflammation, helps to ease cravings.

  • Eliminating artificial sweeteners and sugars, components that stimulate the brain to want more, helps to make us feel satisfied without sugars.

  • Eliminating coffee, a beverage often consumed with sugar and cream, removes empty calories and fat.  It also stops the snack trigger and hormonal shift noticed by many coffee drinkers.

  • Eliminating dairy removes a common food allergen which is often the culprit of inflammation.

These changes help your body do the right thing, changing your habits, and removing your cravings.  The result is rapid weight loss in only 2 weeks!

Why should I try the Dr. Oz 2 Week Rapid Weight Loss Diet?

You should try the Dr. Oz 2 Week Diet if you want to lose weight fast!  It is an affordable diet and proven successful plan for changing dietary habits, eating well, and losing those extra holiday pounds!  A lot of people are looking for a way to make good on a New Years’ Resolution to lose weight in 2014, and the benefits that can be reaped from the Dr. Oz 2 Week Diet are pretty enticing.

So, how difficult will it be to implement the Dr. Oz 2 Week Rapid Weight Loss Diet?  The good news is that, by all accounts, it’s smooth sailing after the first two days, when cravings subside and the plan is in motion.  And if you are starting out your 2 weeks all stocked up on the essentials, you are committed and ready to be successful.  So, block two weeks off on your calendar, order your supplements, and head to the grocery store for your low-glycemic-index vegetables.

What will I need for the Dr. Oz 2 Week Rapid Weight Loss Diet?

Recommended All Natural Supplements:

*In Lieu of Dr. Oz Detox Broth, this nutrient equivalent is easy to scoop, shake, and serve!

Tune in for Part 2 of the Dr. Oz Weight Loss Diet for the Dr. Oz Breakfast Smoothie Recipe, Detox Broth Recipe, and details on the foods you can eat during your 2 Week Rapid Weight Loss Diet!

Dr. Oz 2 Week Diet: The New Year’s Two Week Rapid Weight Loss Method Part 1

Dr. Oz 2 Week Diet:  Enjoy Your Two Week Rapid Weight Loss!

Kickstart your Dr. Oz Two-Week Rapid Weight-Loss Diet here with these great supplements from Dr. Oz’s Shopping LIst.

 

by Colleen Russell

Last week, Dr. Oz announced his new 2 week diet plan; the Dr. Oz Two Week Rapid Weight Loss Diet.  We love a diet plan that comes with positive testimonials, and this one already has hundreds of success stories.  In addition to the January 6, 2014 audience, a group whose two-week weight loss totals averaged 9 pounds, Dr. Oz said that his entire staff was using the 2 week diet with great success.  Weight loss is not the only benefit of this diet plan, though.  Following the strict regimen of daily breakfast smoothies, healthy eating, and detox drinks can reportedly drastic decrease in decrease problems related to diabetes, food sensitivities, and even chronic pain.

According to Dr. Oz, “if you stick to this for two weeks, it can change everything.”

 Can You Commit Two Weeks to Weight Loss?

After a holiday season ripe with overeating, you may be feeling sluggish, bloated, and gassy.  Now that we have started a fresh new year, are you ready to commit just two weeks to rapid weight loss?  Dr. Oz spent an entire year researching the “top diets with the latest science.” in order to bring us the Dr. Oz Two Week Rapid Weight Loss Diet.  Drawing inspiration from best-selling books Ultra Simple Diet, Wheat Belly, and The Grain Brain Oz came up with a 3-part plan for detoxing and cleansing the body.  I’m not going to tell you that it will be easy, but I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.

Dr. Oz says “I want everyone at home to jump on board.”

How Does the Dr. Oz 2 Week Rapid Weight Loss Diet Work?

  1. The first step of the Dr. Oz 2 week diet plan is to eliminate foods that are making you “sick and fat.”   This is, by all accounts, the hardest part.   Dr. Oz brought audience members on stage to recount their experiences, and the consensus was that the first two days are tough, but the cravings begin to dissipate on the third day.

    1. No Wheat

    2. No sweeteners

    3. No sugars (including alcohol!)

    4. No coffee or caffeine. (green tea ok)

    5. No dairy (except for greek yogurt)

  2. Eat an unlimited amount of low-glycemic index vegetables from the list below.  Drink an unlimited amount of Detox Broth from the recipe below.  (Or use greens powder for an easy-to-make equivalent!)

  3. Take a daily regimen of probiotics and and multivitamins to help propel weight loss.

How Can I Lose Weight Rapidly with a 2 Week Diet?

According to Dr. Oz, we are all guilty of eating foods that are making us sick and fat.  To make matters worse, these foods are so addictive that we crave them!   It turns out that it’s not our “lack of will-power” that is making us continue to eat the wrong things.  Removing items from our diet that are causing negative health effects detoxifies the gut and gives us the control to make the right choices.

  • Eliminating wheat, a food source that causes inflammation, helps to ease cravings.

  • Eliminating artificial sweeteners and sugars, components that stimulate the brain to want more, helps to make us feel satisfied without sugars.

  • Eliminating coffee, a beverage often consumed with sugar and cream, removes empty calories and fat.  It also stops the snack trigger and hormonal shift noticed by many coffee drinkers.

  • Eliminating dairy removes a common food allergen which is often the culprit of inflammation.

These changes help your body do the right thing, changing your habits, and removing your cravings.  The result is rapid weight loss in only 2 weeks!

Why should I try the Dr. Oz 2 Week Rapid Weight Loss Diet?

You should try the Dr. Oz 2 Week Diet if you want to lose weight fast!  It is an affordable diet and proven successful plan for changing dietary habits, eating well, and losing those extra holiday pounds!  A lot of people are looking for a way to make good on a New Years’ Resolution to lose weight in 2014, and the benefits that can be reaped from the Dr. Oz 2 Week Diet are pretty enticing.

So, how difficult will it be to implement the Dr. Oz 2 Week Rapid Weight Loss Diet?  The good news is that, by all accounts, it’s smooth sailing after the first two days, when cravings subside and the plan is in motion.  And if you are starting out your 2 weeks all stocked up on the essentials, you are committed and ready to be successful.  So, block two weeks off on your calendar, order your supplements, and head to the grocery store for your low-glycemic-index vegetables.

What will I need for the Dr. Oz 2 Week Rapid Weight Loss Diet?

Recommended All Natural Supplements:

*In Lieu of Dr. Oz Detox Broth, this nutrient equivalent is easy to scoop, shake, and serve!

Tune in for Part 2 of the Dr. Oz Weight Loss Diet for the Dr. Oz Breakfast Smoothie Recipe, Detox Broth Recipe, and details on the foods you can eat during your 2 Week Rapid Weight Loss Diet!