Friday, February 27, 2009

Eat Well Guide

My friend Michelle just introduced me to a great website called the Eat Well Guide. I spent this morning looking it over well and decided that it was definitely worthy of a complete post. This is a great tool and I would love to see the word get out so that more vendors and consumers could find each other.

The site has many great features, but let me tell you about a few...

If you go to the home page, you are immediately given a search page. You can enter your zip, city & state, or keyword and do a search. I searched my zipcode for the default 20 miles and the site presented me with local wineries, caterers, farmer's markets, stores, butchers, farmers, restaurants, etc. that meet their criteria To meet their criteria the vendor must be sustainable and organic. Check out their FAQ page for more information on what meets their criteria. This is a great starting point for those just starting to look for organic food or for those trying to put a coop together. After you do your search, you can click on areas of interest and save them into your own notebook to reference later.

Another really cool feature is their Plan a Trip feature. I entered the city I live in and and another city about an hour away and the site listed every listing along the way. You can set it to search specifically for restaurants if you wanted to find a place to eat, for stores to drop into, or for farms to check out. How fun! There are also Local Guides for large metropolitan areas so for instance I can just print off the Phoenix guide next year if we travel out that way.

As I was looking through my local places, I noticed that an organic flour mill that I am familiar with wasn't listed. There is a Suggest Listing tab to suggest local places to add. This is a nice feature to help them round out their site and get local vendors more exposure.

The site also has a blog titled The Green Fork which has a variety of newsy posts about what is going on in the world of organic food. They also feature farms and vendors from across the country. I found it very interesting and look forward to reading more about what is going on around the country.

There are many more neat features and things to discover on this site and I highly recommend taking a few minutes and finding out the awesome resources right in your back yard.


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Eco-Friendly Beauty Habits

Over the past few days I have run across some natural, eco-friendly beauty tips to share. Most of these things are simple and can be incorporated into your beauty routine today.

1. Use a washcloth. Single-use synthetic cleaning pads or cloths may be handy but they also clog landfills. Consider removing makeup with a washcloth made from natural fibers such as bamboo. Plus, the textile taken from the pulp of bamboo grass is naturally resistant to bacteria - good for your face and your laundry pile.

2. Hold off on the H2O. Conserve water by exfoliating before you get under the spray. Some days, swap your favorite scrub for a natural-fiber-bristle brush, sweeping skin in short upward strokes.

3. Oil up. Post shower, pat damp skin with an organic oil such as almond or avocado to lock in moisture. Unlike lotion, oil penetrates skin almost instantly and you can be sure it doesn't contain an alphabet soup of chemicals like most commercial lotions.

4. Air dry. To save energy and cut down on the carbon dioxide created by your blow dryer, soak up excess water with a towel and let hair air dry almost completely before turning on the dryer. FYI, it would take two trees 10 years to absorb the carbon dioxide created from blow drying for 10 minutes a day for just one year.

5. Recycle. Check your bathroom waste basket before throwing out cardboard packaging, shampoo bottles, or glass perfume vials. We all make a habit of recycling in the kitchen so just make sure the bathroom recycling makes it to the bin, not the trash bag.

6. Rethink your razor. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, more than 2 billion disposable razors wind up in landfills every year. To minimize waste, choose a razor that allows you to change the blades instead of tossing a plastic, non-biodegradable razor in the trash. Better yet, invest in an electric razor.

7. Make it yourself. One of the easiest and most rewarding ways to go green is to create your own beauty products. And in many cases, you'll find all the ingredients you need right in your own refrigerator or cupboard. Karla and I look forward to experimenting with and passing along lots of great 'beauty recipes' in the near future.

And speaking of making it yourself, here is one natural beauty remedy I tried today. It not only saves money, but will also save on excessive packaging and waste. Instead of buying teeth whitening strips, try the following homemade tooth whitener. I have to say I thought I noticed a small difference in color after one treatment and my teeth had that smooth, straight from the dentist feeling which tells me that no matter what, it got my teeth really clean!

Homemade Tooth Whitener

2 teaspoons Baking soda
2 teaspoons Hydrogen peroxide

Mix until it forms a runny paste. Brush your teeth with this solution and let it sit on your teeth for 2 minutes. Rinse with warm water and then brush your teeth with regular toothpaste to rid your mouth of the peroxide solution.

You shouldn't brush with this treatment more than once per week.

Note: If you have open sores, cavities, gingivitis or other gum diseases, this may make your gums appear white for a short time. It may not be the right whitener for your teeth if they are very sensitive.

- Shannan

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

And The Winner is...

It's like presenting at the Oscars! :)

It's time to announce the winner of Living A Whole Life's first giveaway. All the names went into a hat and Karla's daughter L. picked a name. That winner is....


Whoo Hoo! Way to go Ellen

Ellen, send us your address and let us know what colors you would like your decorative straws. You can email us at

Thanks to everyone for your participation and for the great comments and ideas for future posts. We can't wait to get started writing about some of your areas of interest!

Karla and Shannan

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

How To Make An Herbal Tincture

I have to say that I was pretty excited when I saw that one of our readers was interested in more posts about tinctures and herbs. Thanks Kristen! As most of you who read regularly know, I love to talk about herbs, and I just completed my first tincture and found it to be amazingly simple.

What is a tincture (you may be asking)? A tincture is a preserved plant extract produced by soaking a given amount of plant material (usually in a dried or powdered form) in direct proportion to an extracting solution (usually alcohol) called the menstruum. Tinctures are also called dilute Fluid Extracts.

Your next question might be why would I make a tincture? Why not just make a tea or consume the herb whole? There are a couple of reasons. First, tinctures are very concentrated so a tablespoon of tincture can deliver more herb than several cups of tea. Another reason is that tinctures are usually good for up to 12 months while teas and decoctions lose their potency after about 6 hours. My husband recently had some trouble sleeping and he is not a tea drinker. Having him take a small amount of a tincture made more sense than trying to get him to drink several cups of tea. Additionally, some herbs just don't taste great and a small amount is better than drinking several cups. Lastly, some herbal compounds can only be extracted by creating a tincture.

For a standard tincture the ratio of plant material to menstruum (alcohol) is 1.5 ounces of plant material for 1 pint of menstruum. There are two techniques to making a tincture. I am going to teach you the maceration technique as I believe it will be easier for beginners. You can also use a percolation technique, but this involves a little more equipment.

For the maceration technique:
  1. Mix about 1.5 ounces of plant material to menstruum (alcohol). Make sure that the plant material is either powdered or dried and in small pieces. You can use a blender to grind the herbs into smaller pieces or into a fine powder. For the menstruum you can use vodka, rum, brandy, vegetable glycerin, or apple cider vinegar. Alcohol is the preferred method as it releases the widest variety of essential herbal elements. Do not use rubbing alcohol, ispropyl alcohol, or wood alcohol. Mix the herb and menstruum in a glass jar. I just used a Ball canning jar. You want to make sure that it has a good sealing top so that the alcohol doesn't evaporate.

  2. Shake the bottle twice a day.

  3. Let the material soak for approximately 2 weeks at a temperature of 59-68 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep away from direct sunlight.

  4. Decant and filter the extract by pouring the herb and alcohol mix through several layers of cheesecloth or an unbleached coffee filter. When all the liquid has drained through, express the last bit by squeezing the herb filled cheesecloth or filter.

  5. Cork or rubber stopper the bottle and label it. Be sure to seal the container tightly with an adequate sealing lid. Store in a safe place away from small children. I would recommend storing in an amber bottle away from sunlight as well.

  6. The usual dosage of any tincture is a teaspoon 2-5 times daily. The tincture can be mixed in water or juice if the flavor of the tincture isn't agreeable.
You can mix a variety of herbs to use in a tincture. For the tincture I prepared for my husband I used St. Johns Wort, Scullcap, and Mullein. So far he seems to be sleeping a little better. I'm excited to try more tinctures and will let you know as we discuss herbs which ones lend themselves to this technique.

I encourage you to try this technique. It's amazingly easy and very satisfying to make your own tinctures.


Monday, February 23, 2009

Don't Be a Junk Food Vegetarian

Not all vegetarians are created equal...I was hanging out with a new friend of mine a couple weeks ago and we started talking food and nutrition, which happens a lot when I am with people. She was explaining how hard it was to cook for her family because of her husbands eating habits - he is a vegetarian. I thought to myself, that's not so bad there are lots of great vegetarian dishes and you can always have a salad right? If she and the kids weren't vegetarians it is pretty easy to add meat on occassion. She went on to tell me all of the other things he wouldn't eat like vegetables!

This got me thinking. Whether someone has cut meat out of their diet for health reasons, to support animal rights or just because they don't like it, they still need to be aware of what they are eating. A person can live their whole life on mac and cheese, potatoe salad and pretzels, but that doesn't mean they are eating a healthy diet like most people assume when they hear vegetarian.

A healthy vegetarian diet is a well rounded diet full of fruits, veggies, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds. And depending on which kind of vegetarian you are, you may or may not consume fish, eggs, cheese and other dairy products. The key to a healthy vegetarian diet is the same as those who do eat meat - a good variety of whole foods.

In case you are interested, here are the most popular types of vegetarians:

1. Pescatarian (also spelled pescetarian) The word “pescatarian” is occasionally used to describe those who abstain from eating all meat and animal flesh with the exception of fish. Although the word is not commonly used, more and more people are adopting this kind of diet, usually for health reasons or as a stepping stone to a fully vegetarian diet.

2. Flexitarian/Semi-vegetarian You don’t have to be vegetarian to love vegetarian food! “Flexitarian” is a term recently coined to describe those who eat a mostly vegetarian diet, but occasionally eat meat.

3. Vegetarian (Lacto-ovo- vegetarian) When most people think of vegetarians, they think of lacto-ovo-vegetarians. People who do not eat beef, pork, poultry, fish, shellfish or animal flesh of any kind, but do eat eggs and dairy products are lacto-ovo vegetarians (“lacto” comes from the Latin for milk, and “ovo” for egg).
Lacto-vegetarian is used to describe a vegetarian who does not eat eggs, but does eat dairy products.
Ovo-vegetarian refers to people who do not eat meat or dairy products but do eat eggs.

4. Vegan Vegans do not eat meat of any kind and also do not eat eggs, dairy products, or processed foods containing these or other animal-derived ingredients such as gelatin. Many vegans also refrain from eating foods that are made using animal products that may not contain animal products in the finished process, such as sugar and some wines. There is some debate as to whether certain foods, such as honey, fit into a vegan diet.

5. Raw vegan/Raw food diet A raw vegan diet consists of unprocessed vegan foods that have not been heated above 118 degrees Fahrenheit. “Raw foodists” believe that foods cooked above this temperature have lost a significant amount of their nutritional value and are harmful to the body.

6. Macrobiotic The macrobiotic diet, revered by some for its healthy and healing qualities, includes unprocessed vegan foods, such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and allows the occasional consumption of fish. Sugar and refined oils are avoided. Perhaps the most unique qualifier of the macrobiotic diet is its emphasis on the consumption of Asian vegetables, such as daikon, and sea vegetables, such as seaweed.

A note about children and teens:

Many children are not huge meat fans and would choose to sustain themselves on pasta and crackers. If this is the case with your child, I say be persistant. You don't need to force them to eat meat, but it is important to encourage variety. Offer children fruits and vegetables at every meal and limit snack choices. If the choice is sliced apple or carrot sticks don't fold. It is important to be consistent and talk to them about healthy choices.

As far as teenagers go, many decide that meat is not for them as they explore their convictions. Once again, that is great, but the same thing goes. You may need to teach your teen that just dropping the meat doesn't make the meal healthy. Good vegetarians eat their veggies!

Go to for more information on kid-friendly vegetarian diets.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Great Gift Ideas

Hello all! I hope you are all having a great weekend! We are getting a little snow here in Michigan!

I wanted to point out a new category in our Posts by Subject column. (You can find these on the right column if you scroll down.) I added a category called "Great Gift Ideas." As we review new products we will add items to this that we think would make good gifts. This way when you are struggling for an idea for that difficult to buy for person, you will have all kinds of ideas right at your fingertips! So far, I added our posts on Klean Kanteens, Food Matters Video, Glass Straws, and the Eat Healthy, Feel Great book.

Happy Shopping!


Friday, February 20, 2009

Eat Healthy, Feel Great

I've made a lot of changes in my life in the last two years of studying naturopathy and I continue to make new changes as I read and understand more. One of the difficulties I encounter is translating what I'm learning to my three-year-old and five-year-old and getting them on board with eating nutritious whole foods instead of all the processed food and sugar they see all around them. I'm not a food Nazi, I do let them enjoy some things I would rather they didn't eat, but I try to teach them as we go that certain foods are good for our bodies and should be eaten often, while other foods taste great, but are actually harmful especially in large quantities. I try to make nutrition a positive thing, that mommy wants them to be very healthy so they can do whatever they want in life and not be hindered by weight, disease, lack of energy, etc. It's a lot for young kids to take in, but they are doing a great job. It seems almost daily they want to know as they eat something "is this good for my body?" It's cute, precious, and encouraging to hear them asking. Of course, it doesn't always stop them from eating the bad stuff, but at least they are asking.

Recently, two friends at different times recommended a great book to use with my kids to help as we talk about nutrition. It's called Eat Healthy, Feel Great by William Sear, M.D., Martha Sears, R.N., and Christie Watts Kelly. I love this book and am looking forward to reading it to the kids over and over. It talks about why we need to eat well and then breaks food down into three groups. There are Green Light foods, green means go and you can go ahead and eat all you want. Then there are Yellow Light foods which are okay to eat sometimes, but they won't keep you feeling great the way green light foods do. Then there are Red Light foods that don't do anything to help your body. Instead, they can hurt your body and make you feel too full to eat your green-light foods. These are foods that contain dye, hydrogenated oils, preservatives, white flour, and sugar.

The book goes on to describe nutrients, vitamins, a few minerals, fiber, and even water. They stress picking a variety of colors when eating fruits and vegetables. The book closes with a smoothie recipe that kids can help make and a cute idea to make a whole grain cereal and dried fruit necklace. It's really a great resource with fun pictures and language that is brought down to the child's level. From now on around our house, we are going to talk about food as red, yellow, or green light and I hope it will be easier for them to understand.

In the front of the book is a great list of tips for parents to follow when teaching kids about nutrition. I'll share a couple here and then I highly recommend getting this book from your local library or purchasing this book and adding it to your own library. Here are a few of their tips:

  • Model wise nutritional choices. Refuse to purchase junk food or to bring it home. If it's not there, in moments of craving, you and your children will choose a healthier alternative.

  • Shape young tastes. You have a golden opportunity to influence your child's lifelong eating habits, and the earlier you start, the easier it will be. If freshly prepared, unsalted, unsweetened foods are the norm in your household; your child will shun canned, artificial tastes.

  • Don't shy away from spending more money on nutritious foods for your family – whole-grain crackers and breads, no-sugar added 100 percent fruit juices, and organically grown produce. Your pocketbook will thank you the long run with lower doctor bills.

  • Use creative language when denying your child junk food. The words "not a grow food" or "not a green-light food" are easier for a child to swallow than "no."

I know some may wonder what the fuss is all about. I've heard people say they are just kids and it will be years before they need to watch what they eat. I disagree. If you build a house with substandard materials you end up with all kinds of trouble and trying to fix it when trouble begins. Isn't that what we are doing when we eat, building our bodies and the quality of what we eat influences how our bodies will respond over time. How much more important when we think about children who are doing the most growing and changing. Each new muscle, bone, nerve and brain cell needs the best nutrients for them to be the best they can be.

Happy reading...


Don't forget to enter our first ever giveaway before midnight on Monday! You will love the glass straws!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Shopping for Organic Food

Shopping for organic food items can be a challenge both financially, as they still cost more than conventionally grown items, and due to the fact that they are not as readily available in all areas or food stores. For the past several months I have been keeping an eye open in my own local grocery store and warehouse member club for healthy organic choices. I have to say, I have been pleasantly surprised to find more and more items on the store shelves.

Here are just a few of the stores/resources for tracking down organic food items. In addition to the list below, I am sure you have some great health food stores in your area. Check them out!

Local grocery store chains:

Safeway - They have their own line of organic foods, carry other organic brands, and offer a section for locally grown produce. Safeway is known as a leader among grocery store chains in the area of organic/healthy food offerings.

Kroger - They have their own line of organic foods, carry organic produce and seem to be expanding the organic brands they carry. If you buy organic products regularly and use your Kroger card, you will get coupons for their Private Selection Organic products and/or organic produce at checkout.

Obviously these are just two of the many grocery store chains, so if you have questions about whether or not your store is expanding their organic offerings make sure you ask. If they are carrying more organic they will let you know what and where to find it. If not, express interest in them doing so!

Specialty grocery store chains:

Whole Foods - They pride themselves on the fact that they search for the highest quality, least processed, most flavorful and natural foods possible because they believe that food in its purest state — unadulterated by artificial additives, sweeteners, colorings and preservatives — is the best tasting and most nutritious food there is. The produce section of Whole Foods is beyond compare but you will pay for it. If you are on a budget, keep in mind which fruits and veggies are most important to buy organic.

Trader Joes - Trader Joe's prides itself on providing healthy foods from around the world, all at surprisingly reasonable prices. The store's impressive and delicious store-brand foods contain no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives, and no MSG, trans fats or genetically modified ingredients.

Member warehouse clubs:

Costco - Just having been to Costco yesterday, I can personally attest to the fact that they carry some great organic produce and packaged products at reasonable prices if you have a family to feed. For instance, you can't beat the deal on organic spring mix or the little packages of organic baby carrots which are great for the kid's lunches. I also found organic free range chicken broth and organic pasta sauce. You have to look around, products change often.

On-line resources:

Until recently, I had never really considered shopping on-line for organic food items, but once I started searching around I realized that there are lots of items like nuts, dried fruit, raw chocolate, pasta, tea, beans, baking goods, etc. that lend themselves to this type of shopping. Take a look at the following sites. The possibilities are endless.

Sun Organic Farm - Find everything from baking goods, to grains, nuts, bee products and even dog food!

Sunfood - Sunfood owner David Wolfe is the Raw food guru. His store contains goji berries, raw cacao, olives, nuts, seeds, sweeteners and much more!

Fresh Roasted Almond Co. - This company carries dried fruits, nuts, granola and cereals in bulk.

Seasonal resources:

CSA - Community Supported Agriculture is the concept of dealing directly with a local farmer to buy a share of their produce for a season. If you are considering this option for 2009, most farms are taking deposits now. CSA's are a great way to not only get fresh organic produce, eggs, milk or even meat in addition to supporting local farms and environmentally friendly practices. Check Local Harvest for CSA opportunities in your area.

Farmer's Markets - If you are lucky enough to live in a warm climate you may have access to Farmer's Markets all year around, but for those of us experiencing a very chilly winter right now, we will have to wait for the big thaw. Farmer' markets are a great source of locally grown organic foods. Check Local Harvest for Farmer's Markets near you.

Coupon resource:

Mambo Sprouts - This is a site that provides free downloadable coupons for organic/healthy/natural products. In addition to the printable coupons you can sign up to receive their coupon booklet in certain metropolitan areas. Other reasons to check out this site; recipes, articles, contests/giveaways and kids activities.

Sources: CNN Health

Dont forget to enter our current giveaway. All entries due by midnight Monday, Feb. 23!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Glass Straw Giveaway

Today is a big day here for Living A Whole Life. Drum roll please... We are going to participate in our first giveaway! Remember our post about those beautiful glass straws?? Well, Daedra has graciously offered to make 4 of the decorative 6" smoothie straws for one of our lucky readers.

To enter for a chance to win, please leave a us a comment on what subjects you would like to hear more about on Living a Whole Life. The deadline for entry is Monday, February 23 at midnight EST. The winner will be drawn and announced Wednesday, February 25.

Good Luck!

Shannan and Karla

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What's in Your Medicine Cabinet??

I was reading through a variety of things on my desk this weekend (trying yet again to get organized) and thought I would share a few of the things I found. I don't know about you, but as holistic as the rest of my life is, when one of the kids get hurt or sick many times I'm tempted to reach back for the over the counter things I've used for years instead of trying holistic remedies that would be better for us. I thought it might be good to share some ideas of common home remedies and then start stocking our medicine cabinets with good things to prepare for those times when we need them.

  • Did you know that grapes are one of the most effective home remedies for treatment of a cough? Grapes tone up the lungs and act as an expectorant. How easy is that. A cup of raw (not pasteurized) grape juice mixed with a teaspoon of honey is a great natural cough syrup.

  • For burns (I have many kitchen accidents), run the affected area under cold water or ice for 15-30 minutes. then apply honey to the area. The honey will prevent infection and start the wound healing.

  • As I've started to eat more raw fruits and veggies, and started juicing, my body has been detoxing, and it started to show up on my skin as acne. It's always nice to go back to those teenage years! Something I've found affective is to use lemon juice as an astringent and for healing.

  • And how about this one...Carrot soup is an effective home remedy for diarrhea. Who knew? It supplies water to combat dehydration; replenishes sodium, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, sulphur, and magnesium; supplies pectin; and coats the intestine to allay inflammation. It also checks the growth of harmful intestinal bacteria and prevents vomiting. Wow!

So, on your next shopping trip you should include grapes, honey, lemons, and carrots and you will have the beginnings of a few fantastic remedies for those occasional times when we are not at our best! Amazing!

We will revisit this topic often, but in the meantime, what are your favorite home remedies?? Please share!


P.S. Make sure to check back tomorrow morning...Shannan and I have a great surprise for you!

Monday, February 16, 2009

What motivates you to exercise?

I started a group called Fit Group on a health activist community site that I am a member of called WEGO Heath. My goal with the group is to allow others interested in exercise to discuss what they are doing and to inspire each other to get out there and get moving.

To my surprise (sort of) I started getting responses from people not on what they were doing to stay fit, but on why they weren't doing much or how they only reluctantly exercised. Rather than feel negative or discouraged, I became inspired to personally motive the group members to get up and get going. One of the biggest complaints about exercising is boredom and I totally understand that. I have a very busy mind and overcoming that is more than half the battle.

One of the women actually wrote a short blog post about being a habitual gym quitter. It was great! She pointed out that 80% of your exercising success is actually showing up. Nothing could be more true. Whether you are jumping in your car to hit the gym or going for a walk around the 'hood, you are the only one that can make that happen.

Why do you exercise?

1. Weight Loss - We all know that a thinner you is a healthier you and exercising burns calories, builds muscle and revs metabolism.

2. Athletic Look - Once you become somewhat satisfied with the number on the scale working out to achieve a certain look kicks in. This has been my motivation for a long time - tone, slightly defined arms, legs/butt that don't jiggle too much, flat stomach, I could go on forever.

3. Mental Workout - A mental workout not only satisfies your physical goals, but lifts your mood and reduces your stress. If you can get to this point, exercise is a priority in your life. You are benefitting far beyond what you ever could have imagined in the beginning. The scale becomes less of an issue and the look comes more easily.

I am #3. I really crave my workout and although the physical look is still important to me, I thrive on knowing that I have done something great for my health and feel energized and ready to take on the world. This is why I get so excited about motivating others to exercise. Once you make it a life habit, the rewards are beyond expectation.

A few simple ways to stay motivated:

1. Find an activity you enjoy. Whether it is walking, swimming, biking, jogging, aerobics, weight training, dancing or yoga, you have to have a little love for what you are doing or you just won't stick too it.

2. Take it slow. Don't kill yourself right out of the shoot. Like the old tortoise says "slow and steady wins the race". It is most important in the beginning to create the habit of exercising for yourself rather than overdo it.

3. Find a workout buddy. Take it upon yourself to motivate someone else to exercise. Once again, no matter what the workout is, a walk around the block, weight training or whatever, if you are expected to be there for someone else, I know you will.

4. Take a class. Group fitness classes are a great way to get a good workout in. You get motivation from the instructor, make friends and hopefully enjoy sweating with the group.

5. Keep your mind busy. Boredom is a huge problem so load up the i pod with your favorite tunes or maybe get a new audio book from the library.

6. Create a schedule. If you belong to a gym and show up on the same days around the same time, faces become familiar and eventually you are likely to meet some new friends. They will wonder where you are if you haven't shown up in a few days.

7. Don't make it all about weight. Although losing weight is a hugely motivating factor, don't get too discouraged if the scale doesn't move. As long as you keep working out, change is on the way. You will be building muscle which increases metabolism, working your heart to maintain better cardiovascular health, as well as controlling your blood sugar. If you really need a number, get your body fat percentage measured. For me this is a much better indication of body composition and progress.

I would love to hear what motives you to exercise or how you manage to stick with it. Please leave me a comment then get out there and get moving!!

- Shannan

Friday, February 13, 2009

Jamba Juice

I took the kids and went out to Arizona for 2 weeks to spend some time with my husband who has been working out there quite a bit this winter. While there, I didn't have my blender for smoothies and I couldn't use my new juicer to make fresh raw juice. After a few days of this, I started to really miss my smoothies and fresh juice and felt a little like a junkie going through withdrawal. I started to venture out to see what I could find locally. I found this really cool place called Jamba Juice where the kids and I could get fresh, raw juice and delicious smoothies in many varieties.

Jamba Juice seemed to be quite popular in the Phoenix area and I thought it might just be a local thing, but I checked out their website and they are popping up in many states, mostly in bigger cities. What a fantastic idea. It's like fast-food for us health nuts. Finally! When traveling, busy, or on the run and hungry for some real nutrition you can pop in and get some fresh, raw juice; several types of quality smoothies; organic granola; and even steel-cut oatmeal with fruit topping.

Their menu includes several different types of smoothies including all fruit (no sugar, no dairy); smoothies with yogurt, soymilk, or even organge sherbert for a little treat. Some of their offered smoothies can even be blended with a "boost" and these boosts include soy or whey protein, vitamins, minerals, flaxseed, fiber, botanicals, all-natural plant extracts, and plant sterols. Wow! Two different daily shots are offered on the menu. One is a green tea powder (Matcha Energy) with orange juice or soymilk and the other is a 100% pure wheatgrass shot. Talk about a place to stop and fuel up.

Jamba offers catering, pickup, and delivery at most locations. What a great thing to bring to your next office function or conference.

I was also impressed to find out that they are very passionate about children and getting children physically fit. They offer charitable donations and sponsorship to organizations that share their passions and they get involved at the community level building running tracks and playgrounds, cleaning up beaches, and helping restore neighborhoods. They offer fundraising in two different ways. They can bring smoothies to you with 20% of the proceeds given back to your organization or you can bring a group to them and 20% of the purchase will go back to your group. Check out their fundraising and events page for more information.

Check out their location page and see if there is a Jamba Juice near you! I'm just sad that they haven't found their way to Michigan yet. Maybe soon...


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Top 100 Organic Living Blogs

Living a Whole Life is proud to be included in the Radiography Schools list of the Top 100 Organic Living Blogs. We are #16 on the list. The list is composed of the top 100 organic lifestyle blogs ranging from parenting to gardening and everything in between.

What is good nutrition?

Well with the thousands of different diets/food choices out there it is truly overwhelming sometimes to decipher what good nutrition really is. Considering everything from Raw Veganism to Atkins to the food pyramid to Got Milk? and McDonalds, the average person is bombarded with an overwhelming amount of information about what they should or shouldn't be eating. And to further add to the confusion, from what I am learning (take away all of the really bad stuff), different people require different things.

Holistic nutrition focuses on eating foods that provide your body with the highest levels of nutritional value. It is much more than just eating a balanced diet. It is all about finding out what works for you as an individual. Some people will thrive as a vegetarian while others function optimally with more meat in their diets. To understand what is right for you requires listening to your body by identifying potential food allergies, possible metabolic disorders like hypoglycemia or diabetes and what just plain makes you feel better both physically and mentally.

Because there is so much information to sift through and finding your optimal diet may take some time, I thought a good place to start may be to identify some basics of holistic nutrition that apply to all individuals who wish to follow a holistic nutrition plan.

They include the following:
  • Food should be organic as much as possible.

  • Avoid junk food and processed food. (This means most of your shopping will take place on the perimeter of the grocery store where the fresh foods are usually found.)

  • No foods with additives and preservatives.

  • No sugar or caffeine. ( I know, but you will feel so healthy and alive that you won't need it, right?)

  • Drink adequate amounts of pure water. (Preferably filtered and free of chlorine and other contaminants.)

  • Avoid microwaves. (Concerns include the leaching of chemicals from plastic containers and possible destruction of nutrients while cooking.)

  • No genetically engineered foods. (Soybeans and corn are often genetically modified.)

  • Identify hidden food allergies. (For instance, many migraine sufferers have food allergies.)

  • Address nutritional deficiencies. (You may need a blood test to identify vitamin/mineral deficiencies.)

  • Eat whole foods in their natural state as much as possible. (See why Raw food is optimal.)

So no matter where you are today in your journey to a more whole life, you can't go wrong with the principles of holistic nutrition. At its most basic level, it will lead you toward a feeling of well-being, a better quality of life and a higher level of functioning.

- Shannan


Tuesday, February 10, 2009


I've received inquiries from various sources recently wanting some natural remedies for migraines. When that happens, I know it's a burning question and it's time to post about it. If that many people in my circle of friends are questioning, then chances are it's an issue for our readers as well.

I don't want to focus as much on what a migraine is in this post. Those of you who suffer from these terrible headaches are well versed in what they are. I want to focus more on possible causes and holistic ways to treat them to hopefully avoid pharmaceuticals. I know the side effects of some of the prescribed pharmaceuticals are terrible. Just as a matter of definition though, migraine headaches are severe, throbbing headaches that may or may not be accompanied by nausea, visual disturbances, and other symptoms.

Possible Trigger for Migraines

  • Certain food or beverage allergies such as cheese, chocolate, hot dogs, bacon, processed meats that contain nitrites, food containing MSG, fermented foods such as beer, yogurt, sauerkraut, yeast, brewer's yeast, aspartame, or lack of caffeine.
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) between meals. Low blood sugar causes inadequate glucose (sugar) transfer to the brain. The brain needs an almost constant supply of glucose as the brain uses glucose for energy.
  • Hormonal disturbances

  • Constipation

  • Stress and emotional changes

  • Liver malfunction

  • Too much or too little sleep

  • Sun glare or flashing lights

  • Lack of exercise
  • Change in barometric pressure

Natural Healing Therapies

Carefully review the list of triggers and see if anything can be modified. Have you tried avoiding the common food allergy items? A big issue is hypoglycemia. Are you eating frequent, small meals to keep your blood sugar at a good level for brain function? Have you thought about doing a liver detox program?

Herbal and Nutritional Therapies

  • Sometimes as crazy as it sounds an external application of cabbage leaves can relieve a migraine headache.
  • Infusion or decocotion of chamomile, cayenne, fumitory, ginger, peppermint, rosemary, valerian, willow bark, black cohosh, or wormwood.

  • 2 teaspoons of honey (get more bang for your buck and have two teaspoons of honey in your tea! See the list above.)

  • Eating fish, consuming fish oils, or taking primrose oil: The omega or essential fatty acids are fantastic brain food.

  • Cordyceps is a Chinese Herb that may, through its ability to reduce anxiety and stress and promote sound sleep, help people who suffer from migraines.

  • Include almonds, almond milk, watercress, parsley, fennel, garlic, cherries, and fresh pineapple in your diet.

  • Women whose migraines occur as a result of their menstrual cycle may benefit from the use of a natural progesterone cream.

Bach Flower remedies for headaches: Bach flowers remedies focus on treating the mental and emotional factors that cause disease. I have found that they produce amazing results.

  • for tension: Agrimony

  • for problems with concentration: Clematis

  • for feelings of stress and overwork and fear of failure: Elm

  • for nervousness or impatience: Impatiens

  • for grimness and stress-related tension: Oak

  • for guilt feelings: Pine

  • for excessive activity: Vervain

  • when we are thinking too strenuously: White Chestnut

Homeopathics: although much more complex, these are basically natural, herbal remedies for everyday ailments. Once again, I have had awesome results using homeopathics. The key is to find the right one.

  • Aconitum Nappellus: Characterized by a sudden, violent hadache all around the head like a band, or in the forehead like a bursting pain. The person is restless, fearful, and thirsty. The symptoms are worse in the evening or night, in a warm room, and on getting up from bed, and better in the open air.

  • Belladonna: For the headache that comes on suddenly and violently, like the Aconite headache, but in addition is characterized by throbbing, pounding pain, restlessness, a hot head, and a red, flushed face.

  • Bryonia: One of the most commonly indicated remedies for acute headache. The pain is stitching or tearing and is most apt to be right-sided. The person feels worse from motion, even moving the eyes or raising the head. There may be a bursting sensation on stooping or on coughing. Constipation often accompanies this headache.

  • Gelsemium: May be needed by the person who has a vague but distressing headache beginning in the neck and extending up over the head, settling in a band around the head. It may develop into a bursting sensation in the eyes and forehead, and the scalp feels tender. It sometimes comes on after exposure to too much sun or from mental stress, bad news, or apprehension. It is worse from lying down. The Gelsemium person is languid, chilly, and without thirst and wishes most to be left alone.

  • Iris Versicolor: Often needed when a migraine-like headache begins with blurring of vision. The scalp may feel tight and there is profuse flow of saliva with burning of the tongue, throat, and stomach. The person may lose his or her appetite and there may be nausea and vomiting. Iris headaches are usually worse in the evening and at night, and better from continued motion.

  • Kali Bichromicum: Matches the symptoms often referred to as "sinus headache": pain is in the "mask" area, either over, under, or behind the eyes, or at the root of the nose in a small spot that can be pointed to with one finger. Motion aggravates the pain, as does stooping or bending forward. The person feels worse from warmth, better in the open air.

  • Nux Vomica: Has a well-deserved reputation as "the hangover headache" remedy. It is a splitting headache all over the head, with nausea and an out-of-sorts feeling. The person is irritable, oversensitive to everything.

  • Sanguinaria canadensis: Very often fits the typical "sick headache." It begins in the morning, increases during the day, and lasts until evening. Pain is bursting, beginning in the back of the head, spreading upward and settling over the right eye; it is accompanied by nausea and often by vomiting and dizziness.

Natural Therapies

  • Reflexology Treatment where the practitioner concentrates on the points for the head, solar plexus, spine, neck, sinuses, eyes, pituitary gland, thyroid gland, ovaries, digestive system and liver.

  • Acupressure and Acupuncture

  • Massage Therapy

Sources: Advanced Bach Flower Therapy, The Reflexology Manual, Acupressure Techniques, Homeopathic Medicine at Home, Putting It All Together: The New Orthomolecular Nutrition, and Prescription for Nutritional Healing.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Children's Vitamins

As much as we would all love it if our kids ate perfectly, it just doesn't happen so a children's vitamin is my way of making sure my girls get what they need. We recently ran out of vitamins so I started looking around for something new and different. I still remember our pediatrician recommending Flintstone vitamins when the girls were toddlers. I knew there had to be something better.

After reading all of the bottles at Whole Foods, I decided on the Rainbow Light Kid's One MultiStars. It has a wide range of vitamins and minerals as well as herbs to prevent stomach upset and Vegetable Juice - Kale, Spinach, Dandelion Greens and Beet, equivalent to 50 mg vegetable powder. (another example of 'Sneaky Nutrition') They also contain no lactose, gluten or allergenic yeast.

Rainbow Light has been around for 25 years and prides themselves on being the creator of the first ever food-based one-per-day multivitamin. They describe how they formulate as:

Rainbow Light supplements deliver maximum absorption & are customized to effectively meet a wide range of nutritional needs!

Science-based potencies & ratios
Bioavailable nutrient forms
Absorption-activating co-nutrients
Plant-source enzymes
Energizing whole foods
Clinically-proven botanicals

Now the real scoop. The Kid's One Multi-Stars are sort of grayish in color and shaped like stars with sungalsses. The girls think they taste fine. They don't rave about the taste, but they certainly don't fight me in regard to eating them.

I can't help but feel better knowing that they are getting all of their vitamins and minerals plus some greens from food-based sources without all of the sugar, artificial flavors and colors that many of the more mainstream children's vitamins contain.

- Shannan

Friday, February 6, 2009

Glass Drinking Straws with Purpose and Style

I just returned home from a trip out West and collected my coop items and received these awesome glass straws I had ordered. For awhile now I've been concerned about my kid's straw usage. I've purchased boxes of straws and felt very wrong about that as there is alot of waste. I've also used plastic re-usable straws which makes me feel better about waste, but I'm sure the plastic in these straws has BPA and who knows what else is leaching into our drinks. Then like a gift from above, I received an email from Daedra in my coop who is now making these fantastic glass straws.

My first question to her was of course "how breakable are they?" I have a three-year-old boy and things seem to just fall apart in his little hands. She reassured me that they are made of borosilicate glass tubing which is the strongest commercially available glass. This is the same glass that Pyrex is made from. The straws are also annealed which means they are slowly cooled to make them tougher, less brittle, and (yay) dishwasher safe.

These straws are non-toxic, handmade (in the USA!), and beautiful. Daedra offers cleaning brushes for them and if you order a set of 4 or 6 straws you can get a free brush. Daedra takes the extra time and creativity to make them decorative and in a variety of colors. She offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee and will give you a full refund if you don't love the straw. She also offers a lifetime guarantee against breakage. If you break one of your straws she will replace it. I'm not sure how you could lose by ordering a set of these straws!

The kids and I were very excited to use the new straws and we made some smoothies the next morning. The straws work fantastic and they feel so fancy to use. I ran them through the dishwasher with great success and even accidentally dropped one (I'm worse than my kids). There were no chips, cracks or damage. I love my straws and am thinking about purchasing a few more.

The straws come in two lengths either 6" or 8". They also come available in two widths either regular width 9.5mm or smoothie width 12.7mm. The prices for these straws are as follows:

Regular (9.5mm)

  • 8" Plain - $5.97 each; set of 4 $22.69; set of 6 $32.24

  • 6" Decorative - $6.97 each; set of 4 $26.49; set of 6 $37.64

  • 8" Decorative - $7.97 each; set of 4 $30.29; set of 6 $43.04
Smoothie (12.7mm)
  • 8" Plain - $6.97 each; set of 4 $26.49; set of 6 $37.64

  • 6" Decorative - $7.97; set of 4 $30.29; set of 6 $43.04

  • 8" Decorative - $8.97; set of 4 $34.09; set of 6 $48.44
To order, check out Daedra's Etsy page at or you can contact her at


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Veggie of the Month - Broccoli

As I mentioned in our very first post here on Living a Whole Life, one of the reasons I was inspired to start studying holistic nutrition was the fact that three friends of mine have undergone breast cancer treatment in the past year. When I started looking into what role diet plays in the development and treatment of cancer, I somehow ended up looking up the nutritional value of all kinds of different vegetables. I always knew veggies were good for me, but studying each of them individually gave me a new perspective on how important they really are to maintaining good health and fighting disease.

So, in order to further educate myself and our readers, I have decided to profile one vegetable every month. I hope you will enjoy this regular feature and gain a new appreciation for your produce!

Broccoli is a member of the cabbage family and is closely related to cauliflower. Broccoli is a highly nutritious vegetable that provides a wide range of tastes and textures. It contains significant amounts of vitamins C, K, A , Folate, and dietary fiber, among other vitamins and nutrients.

Broccoli contains the phytonutrients sulforaphane and the indoles, which have significant anti-cancer effects. A previous
post I wrote on eating Raw discusses phytonutrients and why it is important not to overcook your vegetables.

Broccoli is a crucifer vegetable like kale, cabbage and cauliflower. It has been shown that a diet high in these types of vegetables are associated with lower incidence of certain cancers, including lung, colon, breast and ovarian cancer. Bladder cancer can also now be added to this list. Studies have also shown that men consuming at least one serving of cruciferous vegetables a week reduced the risk of stage III and IV prostate cancer.

According to a study published in Cancer Research the cancer-fighting capabilities of broccoli are even more successful against prostate cancer when consumed along with tomatoes. "When tomatoes and broccoli are eaten together, we see an additive effect. We think it's because different bioactive compounds in each food work on different anti-cancer pathways," said John Erdman, Profesor of Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Illinois.

Broccoli is also known to support stomach health, provide help for sun-damaged skin, help to reduce heart disease, help to prevent cataracts, build stronger bones, boost your immune system, and fight birth defects.

Serving suggestions:

It is recommended that if cooking broccoli, you quickly steam or saute it as overcooking can dramatically impact the amount of nutrients you will get from your vegetables.

Try not to microwave broccoli as it will significantly decrease the levels of all its health promoting compounds.

Use Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Sunflower Oil to saute in order to preserve the vitamins and minerals.

If broccoli is not your favorite veggie to eat, try adding it to your green juice!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Acupressure Techniques

I just finished another great book in my naturopathy courses. The book is called Acupressure Techniques and it's written by Julian Kenyon, M.D. It's a great do-it-yourself book to treat common ailments at home. The book gives some scientific backing on how acupressure can help a wide number of conditions and it then explains the treatment of approximately 30 common pain problems and thirty other minor conditions. After reading it, I am by no means an expert at acupressure massage, but the book did help me relieve some very pesky neck pain my husband was experiencing so I do think there is some value in reading this book and trying out acupressure at home. After reading this book I would love to have a professional acupressure massage and am even a little more open to the idea of acupuncture. Acupuncture has always freaked me out a little what with all the needles.

Acupressure centers around deep finger pressure over the traditional acupuncture points. Acupuncture is a very ancient treatment in Chinese medicine. The ancient Chinese considered that energy circulated in the body along specific channels, which they called meridians. This energy had to be able to circulate freely around the meridians and if there was a break in its circulation anywhere then illness or pain would result. If the energy got "stuck" somewhere then a needle inserted at the piont of discomfort whould encourage the flow to reestablish itself. In acupressure, instead of needles, one uses massage of the "stagnant energy" to reestablish the flow. Many think this all sounds a little hoky and don't understand how this can work. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has researched acupuncture and found it effective for several conditions including pain from knee osteoarthritis, post-traumatic stress disorder, improved rates of pregnancy in women following IVF, and pain from fibromyalgia. Check out their site for more details.

Deep pressure with the thumb is the best way of stimulating the points. If the initial pressure is not uncomfortable then it's not being done correctly. Either the pressure needs to be increased or the correct point has not been located. Acupressure can be carried out on yourself, but if is much more effective if you can get a friend or significant other to do it for you. I've included a few diagrams below to get you started. Try them out. Massage in the direction of the arrow on the diagram.


Neck Pain


Headache (Migraine) Temporal

Headache (Migraine) Frontal

Monday, February 2, 2009

Do you feel well?

I am just finishing up my first course in holistic nutrition, Orthomolecular Nutrition. Orthomolecular nutrition/medicine is by definition "a form of complementary and alternative medicine which aims to prevent and treat disease with substances which are natural to the body. Prescriptions typically focus on providing nutrients, either through dietary supplements or modified diets which provide proper nutrition and eliminate deleterious substances such as allergens, refined foods, sugar and transfats." And although I find the concept of orthomolecular nutrition and medicine intriging, the book has been a little less than exciting to read.

Finally with only 50 pages or so to go, I ran across some information that I felt like sharing. The chapter is called "How to Find Out If Your Diet Is Normal". The title alone was enough to peak my interest. I always want to know if I am 'normal'. So in order to test your perception of your current health and well-being the author poses some simple questions:

1. Do you have enough energy to do what you want to do or are you suffering from fatigue? Are you tired too much of the time, especially when it is not appropriate to be tired? For instance, other books I have read on related subjects point out that a person should not feel tired around 3pm like many individuals do. I myself have suffered from a mid-afternoon slump in the past. This is often when people go looking for a quick pick-me-up like coffee, sugar, or soda.

2. Is your mood fairly stable, with swings into depression or cheerfulness appropriate to events around you? Would such swings be considered appropriate by other people in similar circumstances?

3. Do you feel well? Or do you have symptoms which indicate you are suffering from any disease? If this is the case you should consult your doctor to try to clear it up. If you do not have any known condition, you should then determine whether you are suffering from one of the many forms of malnutrition, from a defect arising from poor diet, or from a vitamin or mineral deficiency.

The book goes on to discuss what to do if you determine that you "are not well". Since the book is very specific regarding dosage and supplementation recommendations should not be taken out of the context, I will summarize the steps to wellness, but recommend that you consult an expert in this area or research the subject yourself to determine which and how much of a vitamin to add.

1. Eliminate all junk foods from your diet, especially all sugars and foods that you might be allergic to. In many cases an individual either has an idea that a certain food or food group makes them feel bad. One common place to start is dairy since many people are allergic. Try eliminating dairy from your diet and monitor your energy level and mood. If you feel better you may have found a solution, if not try another food like wheat, etc.

2. Add vitamin C to your diet.

3. Add a good B-complex tablet or one of the stress tablets to your diet.

4. For the rest of your life keep reviewing both your diet and the supplements you are taking because requirements change with age, sickness and degree of stress. Pay attention to how you feel and what makes you feel good or bad, energetic or sluggish. According to the book it is necessary to maintain a continual adjustment between your needs and the foods you eat.

5. If you are still not well, you probably have a more serious problem and should consult a specialist.

Having a better understanding of how diet plays such a critical role in not only weight and appearance, but mood and energy level offers even more motivation to stick to a healthy whole foods regimen. I think back to my early twenties when I lived on a sugar and caffeine roller coaster. I remember feeling exhausted in the afternoon and how I would scrounge for sugar only to suffer from a greater dip in enthusiasm when that had worn off. I truly did not feel well most days.

Today, I am much more aware of how I feel after too much sugar, caffeine or just too much food at one meal. This knowledge and awareness of my own body helps me stay on track a bit easier. And, although I know the major downfalls in diet for myself, I may be adding some vitamin C and B complex just to see if a higher level of energy is in my future.

The moral of the attention to how you feel and ask yourself if you are feeling well every once in a while.

- Shannan

This blog is for informational purposes only. Nothing in this blog is intended to replace the advice of a physician. We recommend consulting a physician before embarking on diet changes or a fitness routine. In addition, we recommend that you thoroughly research alternate points of view and make your own decisions as an informed consumer. You are ultimately responsible for your health.