My Top 15 Products from Paleo f(x) ’16

Paleo fx 2016 top products

I feel so lucky being able to visit Austin for THE Paleo conference, working alongside passionate foodies, and visionary leaders whom I admire.  

Paleo Magazine Radio Paleo fx 2016  I had an exciting moment when it was time to announce the Best New Blog of the Year because I was a nominee!  Even though I didn’t win, I was already feeling so accomplished after being voted into to the top 4 new blogs.  On the day leading up to the awards ceremony, I had the chance to speak with Tony Federico, the host of Paleo Magazine Radio, and do a short impromptu interview about my experience at PFX.  You can find my interview on the Paleo Magazine Radio podcast here.  (I’m the first interview which starts at 2 minutes in.)  

Okay, on to my favorite products!

I’m still going gaga over some products I purchased at paleo f(x), and I knew I had to share them with you!  I’m going to keep it as brief as possible, on some items more than others, because if I try to explain each item and all of the benefits, I’d be writing this post for 12 days straight.  So, if you have any questions about each item please comment below or just click the product photo to head over to the company’s site.  


Artisan Tropics – Cassava Strips

Vegan, Grain-free, Diary-free, Soy-free, Non-GMO Cassava Strips by Artisan Tropics  

These chips or strips are pretty awesome.  If you’ve given up on chips because you believe there’s no such thing as a healthy chip, then think again!  Continue reading

Saturated Fat is Back!

Welcome back, Fat!  I’m so happy to see you again…  

My days were incomplete without you.  Each morning now I look forward to drinking a bulletproof coffee with butter from grass-fed cows, or blending up my green tea with nourishing coconut oil.  I can confidently snack on some good ol’ fashioned potato chips because they are made by Jackson’s Honest— a company who slow-cooks their chips in coconut oil (the queen of saturated fats).  I stayed away from fats for so long and, now that I’m embracing them again, my mind and body are shouting “Thank you!”.  These saturated fats are giving me satiation, brain power, and fuel for my day.  What a relief it is to finally realize that much of what we thought about fat was WRONG!  

Coconut Oil Photo
Photo Cred Flickr: Meal Makeover Moms

 

Coconut oil is making a huge comeback now for this very reason.  It’s one of the most stable, nourishing, saturated fats on Earth!  Just 2 Tablespoons of coconut oil a day provides the short chain fats needed to protect our gut health, our liver, nerves, brain, and cardiovascular system .  

Brands like Jackson’s Honest (JH) are taking the reigns, bringing back these healthy fats, and preparing foods in ways that maximize their benefits.  Once I got my hands on these chips, I knew I’d found a treasure.  JH cares about every ingredient they use.  Not only do they care about sourcing the right ingredients, but they understand that ingredients must be treated in a way that maximizes their nutrients, AND in a way that minimizes any potential toxins.  Some companies use coconut oil, but they fry foods at temperatures way beyond the coconut oil smoke point (350 degrees F).  The issue here is that when fats are damaged by heat (or oxidation), they unleash dangerous free radicals in the body.  To avoid these cancer-causing free radicals, we must be mindful and use cooking methods that bring out the best in fats!  JH uses a low and slow cooking method, carefully sustaining a temperature that keeps coconut oil happy and chips crunchy.  That’s reason enough right there for me to dig on some JH chips.  But there’s more!

Sea Salt & Vinegar Chips by Jackson's Honest

 

Low temperature cooking actually cuts the glycemic index in HALF!  What’s glycemic index?  The glycemic index of a food is a number that tells us how quickly our body converts that food into sugar.  Potatoes are known for having a higher glycemic index, but when you boil or slow cook, instead of frying or roasting, the glycemic index of potatoes reduces drastically!  Another amazing fact is that fats, and acids like vinegar, reduce the glycemic index even more.  This is because fats and acids slow down the speed at which we digest the starchy foods.  I keep this in mind when I’m munching down on some Jackson’s Honest chips because all of the varieties are slow-cooked in coconut oil, and they even have a sea salt and vinegar version…win win all around!

Did you know that our bodies need fat to convert certain plant nutrients into vitamins?  Like the beta-carotene in sweet potatoes or red heirloom potatoes; We can only convert that beta-carotene if we have the food with fat!  Sweet Potatoes + Coconut Oil = Vitamin Central!

Jackson's Honest Sweet Potato Chips Purple Heirloom Chips


After reading this you may still be pondering how much fat is really safe. 

Are you wondering how we got so far off the fat track in the first place?  
Think about a time when you saw a black and white photo of your great, great grandparents, or photos of people from the early 1900’s…people were looking pretty thin, right?  They didn’t go to gyms, or count calories, or even think about calories Continue reading

Workshops at Mamby on the Beach

Music and wellness join forces for an unparalleled Chicago experience… Mamby Chicago Music Festival on the Beach

Have you heard? 

This year at Mamby on the Beach, I will be presenting some thought-provoking concepts on wellness and nutrition during these live wellness workshops on Saturday, July 2nd; and Sunday July 3rd(see schedule below). 

Times are changing, and music lovers are uniting to share more than music.  They are searching for inspiration, enlightenment, and connection.  My friends over at Mamby on the Beach, a lakeside music festival in Chicago, are broadening the possibilities for festival goers by introducing the wellness stage.  Here, attendees will find experiences ranging from Silent Yoga to my Primal Living & Nutrition Workshops.  I am honored to be a part of such a movement, and working hard to create content that inspires and brings meaning to those who attend.

Here’s my schedule for all 4 wellness workshops:

Mamby on the Beach

Are you interested in these topics?  With enough buzz I may try to make these workshops available for download in the future.  Comment below and let me know.


If you’re down for some live music on the beach, and a captivating Chicago weekend, get your Mamby tickets here, and come see me!  Take a look at the musical lineup… 


What else is going on at the wellness stage? 

Solarbeatz solar powered music van

I’m pumped to announce that our stage is connected to the SOLARBEATZ music truck!  

This mobile soundstage/performance venue is a unique, thought provoking, inspirational and educational catalyst used at festivals, community events, private parties and schools to promote environmental sustainability.  A modified delivery truck equipped with advanced solar, sound and lighting technology, this “mobile spectacle” stimulates audiences and demonstrates the possibilities of clean energy by fueling an array of electronics to create an outrageous audio visual experience all powered by the sun.

SOLARBEATZ immediately converts the Sun’s powerful rays into an Earth friendly party or stores the clean renewable energy in a battery bank for use after dark. 

Sound off silent disco experience mammy

Audio at the SOLARBEATZ and Wellness Workshops Stage will be delivered by “Sound Off”; a Bluetooth headphone experience.  These wireless headsets let each attendee control their own volume and tune in speakers and music synergistically. 

This comes in handy for Mamby because the music is pumping from stage to stage!  This “Sound Off” experience was a hit with yoga last year at Mamby, so yoga is back and here to stay!

Yoga Mamby on the Beach

At approximately 3:30 and 7:30 each day, festival goers can join in on Yoga sessions led by the female yogis, Yolie, Shab, and Alyssa. 

Who’s coming with us to Mamby!?  It’s so much more than music. 

My Favorite APPS for Wellness

This is the second installment of a 5-part series called:  

My Favorite Things  

Click here to see my first post called My Favorite Books, and hang tight for more lists like My Favorite Kitchen Stuff, Supplements & Herbs, and of course My Favorite FOODS…all things to help you thrive!  

 


My Favorite Apps

 

Who can deny that smart phones and apps are just a part of daily life now.  Whether we like it or not, smart phones are making our lives easier in many ways (I’m not even going to get into to the ways they affect us negatively), and podcasts & apps are a HUGE part of my wellness routine.  I cover quite a few categories here from fitness to brain function.  The information and guidance you seek is just a click away, and I’m so excited to show you the wellness apps I fell in love with…

 


 

Sleep / Meditation

sleep cycle app 2

SLEEP CYCLE – $0.99

Sleep is more important than most people like to admit, and this handy app will really show you the quality of your sleep.  I found out about this app from Dave Asprey, the Bulletproof Exec.  The things that really sold me are the fact that it wakes you during your lightest stage of sleep, and that it allows you to create a checklist of things you do that day in order to see how they affect your sleep!  For instance, I check a box that says “drank coffee after 4pm” or “melatonin” and I can see after a few nights if that is negatively or positively affecting my sleep!  Genius.  The other great thing is that it shows you on a graph how you go through the different stages of sleep (or don’t go through; like me) throughout the night.  Try the Power Nap app by them too.  A 20 minute power nap is one of the only ways I have found to reset my brain when I’m confronted with decision fatigue or straight up stress.    

Check out sleepcycle.com to learn more.  

isleep easy app - Copy

iSLEEP EASY – Free

Do you have busy thoughts while you’re trying to sleep?  Do you want to “meditate” but you don’t know how or when you’ll ever do it?  This free app is perfect for you.  I sleep way better when I do my sleep meditation app, and I always fall asleep before I’m halfway through the playlist.  My husband was teasing me about it one night, so I told him to just listen to it…before you know it he was passed out too!  It works I tell ya!  The teacher guides you through a sleep meditation by saying things like “Whatever was left to do today can be done tomorrow.  Enjoy the comfort of your bed.  Notice the feeling of the sheets on your skin.”  There’s something about being aware and focusing our attention on our physical body that makes meditation so magical. 

Check out meditationoasis.com to learn more.  

sleep mask

SLEEP MASK – $10-$20

Okay this isn’t an app, but it pairs perfectly with the isleep easy app (above).  I remember walking out in my living room to find my brother crashed on the air mattress wearing a sleep mask.  I laughed!  He said he thought it was weird at first too but now he loves it.  I decided to give it a try because my husband and I both had unusual schedules.  We were both hooked on the first try!  Even when it’s dark I wear them.  I am telling you you’ve gotta try it to believe it!  And the shapely ones like this are the best— if you ask me.

You can purchase this one on amazon.com


Yoga / Fitness

yoga studio app

YOGA STUDIO App by Gaiam – $3.99

I have only tried a few Yoga apps, but I am telling you this one is amazing!  It’s worth wayyyy more than $4 so don’t even hesitate.  There are endless combinations and flawless video demonstrations.  It took me a second to get used to the teacher’s voice, but it really is soothing and crystal clear.  This is perfect for anyone, beginner to novice, and sessions go from 10 minutes to 60!  Did I mention you can choose a class based on your needs?  Flexibility, strength, balance, combination.  Nice!  I should mention that it took me a long time to fit yoga into my routine because I just sucked at it.  And if you suck at something, you generally don’t like it.  I soon discovered that if you have zero flexibility, and suck at yoga, that just means that you NEED yoga more than anyone.  Stretching and challenging different muscles is imperative for longevity. 

You can learn more at yogastudioapp.com 

nike training club app - Copy

NIKE TRAINING CLUB – Free

This is hands down the best fitness app.  Do you get sick of doing the same workout?  Do you want to work out at home?  Do you wish you had more options like 15 min or 60 min?  This Nike app is free and expertly done.  I absolutely love everything about it.  Each workout is performed by a different Nike Trainer, and these women are fierce and beautiful!  Flexible times, innovative workouts, inspiring women…I’m not quite sure there’s anything left to be desired in a fitness app!

Find out more here at nike.com


Music / Reading

Spotify

SPOTIFY- Free or $10/month

Spotify is like the star-child of Pandora and iTunes.  You can download albums or playlists for free, you can stream, you can create radio stations like pandora, and choose playlists to suit your mood!  That last feature is why it’s on my Longevity list.  There are playlists to help you focus, help you be productive, lift you up, put you to sleep, make you laugh, and get you moving!  Did I mention it will play music according to the pace you’re working out at?  Love. 

Learn more at spotify.com

audible

AUDIBLE – Free to try – $15/month

I am so into Audible!  If you drive or commute a lot, or find it hard to concentrate when you read, then you should definitely get an audible membership.  Audible is an audiobook store by Amazon.  There are thousands of books available, free trials, free previews, and even returns.  You rack up credits for months that pass without downloading a new book, and you can cancel easily.  The most major benefit I just found with Audible is a section they include called “The Great Courses”.   The Great Courses is college-level audio courses taught on a wide-range of subjects by credited experts and professors.  We are talking about subjects like “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: Techniques For Retraining Your Brain”, “Raising Emotionally and Socially Healthy Kids”, and “Latin 101: Learning a Classical Language”.  These courses are averaging $60 and up on The Great Courses site, but many of them are part of your $15 audible membership.  Crazy Cool!

Try it for free now at audible.com


Brain Games

lumosity - Copy

LUMOSITY – Free & $3-$12 per month 

Have you heard of brain games yet?  Brain games are exactly as they sound but far more advantageous than a game.  We are talking about expertly designed, research-based, results-oriented games that are fun to play, and that exercise your brain.  Remember: If we don’t use it, we lose it…and there could be nothing more frightful than losing our mind.  Start using your free time to play a brain game instead of surfing social media or playing candy crush.  Lumosity is the first of 3 brain game apps I am recommending.  It is filled with more imaginative games, and perfect for first time brain gamers.  Picture colorful games full of shapes and patterns, exercising your brain in unfamiliar ways.  I like Lumosity best out of the 3 games when I’m tired or waiting in line somewhere.  If you get bored easily then this is a good brain game app for you.  This is also available on your desktop/laptop computers!  

Try the free membership and see how you like it!  www.lumosity.com

fitbrains - Copy

FITBRAINS, by the creators of Rosetta Stone – Free & $3-$10/month

 In case you didn’t read above, I’m repeating the same intro: Have you heard of brain games yet?  Brain games are exactly as they sound but far more advantageous than a game.  We are talking about expertly designed, research-based, results-oriented games that are fun to play, and that exercise your brain.  Remember: If we don’t use it, we lose it…and there could be nothing more frightful than losing our mind.  Start using your free time to play a brain game instead of surfing social media or playing candy crush. 

Fitbrains is the second of 3 brain games I’m recommending.  Fitbrains app focuses on what you’re weakest at, and recommends even more specialized apps to focus on your needs.  If you’re the type of person looking for results and likes a challenge, try this app.  Fitbrains is available on your desktop/laptop too!

Try the free membership at www.fitbrains.com

elevate - Copy

ELEVATE – free to start & $3-$8/month 

In case you didn’t read above, I’m repeating the same intro: Have you heard of brain games yet?  Brain games are exactly as they sound but far more advantageous than a game.  We are talking about expertly designed, research-based, results-oriented games that are fun to play, and that exercise your brain.  Remember: If we don’t use it, we lose it…and there could be nothing more frightful than losing our mind.  Start using your free time to play a brain game instead of surfing social media or playing candy crush. 

Elevate is the last of 3 brain games I’m recommending.  This game is very different than the other two.  I love it and I hate it at the same time, and I’ll tell you why.  Elevate is more focused on reading, writing, and exercises that work on memory, communicating your thoughts, listening, and vocabulary.  This is all very applicable in real life, and you immediately recognize your gains and weaknesses.  But honestly, it takes me back to school.  Some of the exercises remind me of state exams with a fun twist.  I find that this game is the most important to me.  I’m using it more and more each week, but if I don’t do it in the morning, I usually won’t ever get to it.  So I highly suggest this to anyone looking for immediate gratification, practical skills, and a caffeine alternative (play brain games in the morning and your brain will instantly snap into reality).   

Try it for free at elevateapp.com

How Trees Help Us Live Longer

Shaggy bark Closeup

Trees help us live longer. They actualize our lives.

Articles are everywhere now citing research that actually proves trees, and plants, make us substantially healthier. 

“It is becoming increasingly clear that trees help people live longer, healthier, happier lives—to the tune of $6.8 billion in averted health costs annually in the U.S., according to research published this week. And we’re only beginning to understand the nature and magnitude of their tree-benevolence… New research says the closer you can live to trees, the better off you are. ”

James Hamblin, The Atlantic (2014, July 29).  The Health Benefits of Trees

In Japan they even do something called…

‘”Shinrin-yoku“, which can be defined as “taking in the forest atmosphere or forest bathing”, has been receiving increasing attention in Japan in recent years for its capacity to provide relaxation and reduce stress.’

Environ Health Prev Med. 2010 Jan;15(1):27-37

“The results of [forest] walking experiments provided similar results…demonstrated that immune function was enhanced by forest therapy in middle-aged employees who volunteered to participate in these experiments. Natural killer cell activity, an indicator of immune function, was enhanced by 56% on the second day and returned to normal levels. A significant increase of 23% was maintained for 1 month even after returning to urban life, clearly illustrating the preventive benefits of forest therapy. 

Nihon Eiseigaku Zasshi. 2014;69(2):122-35

shirin-yoku hawaii

Now, research is showing that visiting a forest has real, quantifiable health benefits, both mental and physical. Even five minutes around trees or in green spaces may improve health. Think of it as a prescription with no negative side effects that’s also free…While we breathe in the fresh air, we breathe in phytoncides, airborne chemicals that plants give off to protect themselves from insects. Phytoncides have antibacterial and antifungal qualities which help plants fight disease. When people breathe in these chemicals, our bodies respond by increasing the number and activity of a type of white blood cell called natural killer cells or NK. These cells kill tumor- and virus-infected cells in our bodies. In one study, increased NK activity from a 3-day, 2-night forest bathing trip lasted for more than 30 days. Japanese researchers are currently exploring whether exposure to forests can help prevent certain kinds of cancer.”

Immerse Yourself in a Forest for Better Health.  New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

phytoncides

If you haven’t heard the story about how my family ended up in the Country, then it’s time I tell you…

My husband Eric and I loved the city (notice the past tense…okay, we still have a place for the city in our hearts, but it’s not the same kinda love). We loved living in all the action and right where the newest restaurants and bars were popping up on every corner. Living in a beautiful high-rise condo, on the 21st floor, we still had this feeling that something was missing. We thought maybe it was because we needed a dog.  So, of course, we adopted a 10-week old puppy named Koa. 

We spent much of our time training Koa to be a loving, well-behaved dog (still working on that; she’s sweet, but a little nuts).  I loved taking her for 1 or 2 hour walks in Chicago, in hopes of giving her the life she deserved.  I noticed quickly that there wasn’t a single place I could walk Koa on the grass.  She loved the grass!  But, get this: dogs aren’t allowed on the grass in the city!  Honestly, there’s not much grass at all, and there aren’t many trees either.  


This experience with our dog is what really planted the “country seed”.  It started to hit me and Eric at the same time!  Now, imagine being Eric; he grew up around lush plants and natural elements, in Hawaii, well into his 20’s.  As for myself, I can think back to the times I would relieve daily stress by rollerblading in the forest preserve where I grew up.

There’s something about nature that you can’t quite explain, but we NEED it.

Seeing my dog roll around in the grass, like a pig in the mud, was a HUGE wake-up call for me.

All across the generations passed, and the millions of years we’ve existed as a species, we have lived our lives as one with nature!  Amongst nature.  Surrounded by nature.  Guided by nature.  

Most of us are so far removed from nature now that we think it’s disgusting to step foot outside without our shoes on (Hi.  I’m raising my hand here too because this was me up until just about a year ago).

Koa In Grass

Welllll, fast-forward a couple of years, and we decided to make the leap.  We left the city.  We found an amazing home, tucked away in the woods, inside 10 acres of wild oak-wood forests; and we’re only 45 minutes from Chicago.  

Life is good.  

We have a new sense of purpose.  A new satisfaction in life.  An all-around good feeling.

It’s like we’ve been reborn…we have so much to learn, so much to be grateful for, and we’re surrounded by wonder.

This is what life is about.