The Nourishing Health » Whole, nourishing, plant-based health and nutrition

Being healthy in a hurry has never been on my mind as much as this past year.  I thought owning my own small business was busy enough but now enter my energetic one year old daughter.  Life is full of joy, but short on time.

While I have a great system for meal planning and grocery shopping in place, snacks often leave me feeling a little perplexed.

“Do I grab the fresh fruit?  Hmmm…that probably won’t keep me full for long.”

“Oh!  How about some avocado toast with juicy summer tomato?!  Yes, that’s it!…Darn, the avocados aren’t ripe…”

“Okay, yea, the fruit with almond butter…perfect!  But I’m heading out the door with a million things and only two hands….never mind.”

So, I forget about a snack then find myself hungry and lacking in energy hours later.

GoMacro contacted me right when I was in need of the perfect grab-n-go snack and sent me their gorgeous Sampler Pack.  GoMacro is an inspiring family-owned company focusing on whole food, real ingredients after the owner was diagnosed with breast cancer and knew changing her diet could have a significant impact on her future health.  Their bars are lower in sugar, high in protein, and made from real ingredients – all being gluten-free, vegan, soy-free, USDA organic, non-GMO, and kosher.  One of their five principles is “if nature didn’t make it, we don’t use it” which can happily stand behind!

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My dad was visiting when the Sampler Pack arrived and he was more than willing to aid me in the taste testing.  :) The bars are chewy and dense and come in 11 fun flavor combinations.  I anticipated the bars containing chocolate to be sweet, but they were actually rather mild and not necessarily sweet at all, which is a huge plus for me.  Sugar-laden snacks cause a spike in blood sugar and a crash in energy, which I’m confident none of us need. 😉

I was drawn to the bars containing dried fruit, like Morning Harvest and Sunny Uplift, while my dad gravitated toward the more mild flavors such as Protein Paradise, Protein Pleasure, and Balanced Goodness.  The bars were definitely satisfying and kept me full.  My dad leads a busy and physically demanding life that requires high energy output so he has been happy to find an easy and healthful source of fuel to keep him going throughout his days as well.

Ready to get your hands on one of these plant-based power bars?  Go ahead, find them in a store near you!

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I received GoMacro bars for free to review and this was my honest evaluation.

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You did it!  You just carried and nourished a precious little life for 9 months and were victorious in delivery.  Your body has truly done something marvelous!  Your heart may be full of joy, but in reality your body may not feel so marvelous, however with good nutrition and as much self-care as you’re able, you can help your body heal in the days, weeks, and months to come.

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Photography Credit: Paige Rankin, Fifth of June

The Importance of Nutrition 

“There are so many things to focus on as a mama!  Nutrition is last on my list!”

Here’s why you should strive to make it a priority:

  • Healing your body – You have truly accomplished a marvelous task and due to the extensive demands on your body there is definitely time needed to heal.  This includes as much rest as you’re able and flooding your body with foods highest in nutrients is going to give your body all the fuel it needs to recover properly.
  • Nutrient depletion – Nine months of fueling the development of a human being, the physical demands of labor and delivery, and sleepless nights early on can contribute to depletion of key nutrients your body needs to restore and recover.  Not focusing on replenishing these key nutrients during and after pregnancy can lead to various health complications, including adrenal fatigue, common among many mamas.  Adrenal glands that function below necessary levels affect every organ and system in your body.  Providing your body with proper nutrition will allow it to heal and replenish these key nutrients enabling you to function better overall.
  • Breastfeeding – The demand on your body doesn’t end after delivery.  As with pregnancy, your baby gets his or her nutrients from what you eat.  The foundation of a baby’s gut health is established in the womb and while breastfeeding.  In this post I discuss the benefits of breastfeeding on your baby’s microbiome.
  • Milk supply – If you’re breastfeeding excellent nutrition can not only provide the best nutrition for your baby but also help ensure your milk supply remains adequate.

Whole Foods for Optimal Healing

The postpartum period can be quite uncomfortable as you gaze upon a body quite different than ever before.  While many new mamas want to lose weight quickly, I would strongly recommend shifting your focus to nourishment and healing rather than weight loss.  Your body will thank you in the long run if you take the time to heal properly now rather than giving undue attention to a number on the scale.  By focusing on nourishing your body with whole foods you’ll not only promote optimal healing but also enable natural weight loss at an appropriate and healthful pace.  Adopting a diet focused on whole foods now (or better yet, during pregnancy!) will allow for it to become natural and enable you to promote healthful eating in your family as well.

By focusing on the majority of your diet on vegetables, fruits, beans, healthy fats, and gluten-free whole grains, you will receive the nutrients necessary for your body to function at its prime while being able to lose weight naturally.  These foods contain the most nutrients per calorie and provide your body with immense amounts of micronutrients needed for healing.

Special Nutritional Needs

Whole food nutrition is optimal for everyone, but mamas need to pay special attention to a few extra items.

  • Folate – As during pregnancy, folate is essential for normal growth of cells including blood and nerve tissues.  Your levels may be lower after the demands of pregnancy and delivery so it is important to replenish yourself and have an adequate amount for the transfer in your breast milk to your infant.  Green plant foods are among some of the richest forms of folate.  Excellent sources include: asparagus, broccoli, spinach, turnip greens, romaine lettuce, bok choy and parsley.  Additional sources of folate include beans and legumes, Brussels sprouts, green peas, papaya, and eggs to name a few.
  • Iron – Depending on the amount of blood lost during delivery you may have lower iron levels, which is also a challenge for many during pregnancy since they’re sharing with their little buddy inside.  Replenishing iron levels is important to regain strength and energy in these demanding days.  Some particularly nutrient-dense iron rich foods are spirulina (blue-green algae that can easily be blended into smoothies), beans (especially kidney beans), blackstrap molasses (drizzle some on pumpkin oatmeal), dark leafy greens, dried fruit (such as raisins and apricots), whole grains (such as brown rice and rolled oats), nuts and seeds (especially pistachios), grass-fed beef, and dark chocolate (yes! It’s true!).  You can enhance your absorption by eating Vitamin C rich foods at the same time (strawberries and spinach blended into your smoothie).  If an iron supplement is necessary Floradix is an excellent, non-constipating option.
  • Vitamin B12 – Helps maintain nerve and brain health and is responsible for the creation of red blood cells.  Additionally, the health of your digestive tract is vital for maintaining proper B12 levels because your digestive tract is able to produce small amounts of  this vitamin on it’s own.  Consuming probiotic rich foods and taking a high-quality probiotic aids in maintaining proper levels.  Animal sources are most abundant in Vitamin B12.  This includes eggs, salmon, and tuna.  Vitamin B12 is made by microorganisms and also found in the soil.  In the past it would have been possible to be obtained from plants, however because our produce is washed and often transported long distances before we eat it most individuals are unable to obtain it from plant sources alone, therefore those following a vegetarian or vegan diet should certainly consider supplementing.
  • Collagen  – Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body and the main structural protein found in skin and connective tissue.  A special emphasis needs to be given to collagen and elastin recovery to aid in the healing of the pelvic floor and abdominal muscles.  Bone broth and collagen peptides are excellent ways to obtain this nutrient in a highly bioavailable and digestible manner.  Adding Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides to a smoothie or glass of water is one great option.
  • Copper, Magnesium, and Zinc – These three minerals in particular aid in collagen being utilized efficiently and effectively in the body and further promote healing of tissue.  Additionally, magnesium is an excellent natural means for keeping your bowels regular.  Foods that contain superior levels of these three minerals are dark leafy greens, sesame seeds, cashews, mushrooms, beans, and bananas.
  • Vitamin C and Vitamin D – Important for tissue healing.  Vitamin C is abundant in vegetables and fruits and good sources of Vitamin D include mushrooms, eggs, and certain types of fish (mackerel, salmon, whitefish, sardines).

While a list of must-needed nutrients can feel overwhelming you can see that there is much overlap in foods.  So many of these foods can be blended into smoothies or quickly tossed in a salad bowl to give your body loads of nourishment for healing, strength and energy!  I’m passionate about working with individuals to fuel themselves well for long-term health easily and efficiently so they can focus on others areas of life.  If you’re pre- or postnatal and looking to nourish yourself well it would be my joy to work alongside you!

**As always, the recommendations made in this post, whether dietary or regarding supplements, are provided for informational purposes only.  They should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.  Consult your professional healthcare providers before beginning any new treatment. 

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Happy 2017!  It’s hard to believe another year has come and gone.  Each passing year makes me want to slow down and appreciate every day knowing how quickly they pass.  After relying heavily on freezer meals post-delivery I’m back in action with a monthly review of our favorite nourishing recipes and only share what I’m sure you’ll enjoy!  So let’s get to it!:)

Breakfast

7 Ingredient Vegan Gluten-free Waffles have been a fun way to start the morning, but let’s be serious, I’m not making them fresh each morning!  :) We had some kitchen fun when snowed in recently and made a triple batch of these beauties.  Let them cool, layer with parchment paper, slip in a freezer bag and there you have it – quick, easy, and healthy toaster waffles!  Step aside Eggo! 😉  I love topping a beautifully toasted waffle with almond butter, bananas, and a drizzle of honey.  You can use a third or half of the coconut oil and substitute with equal amounts of applesauce if desired.

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Main Dishes

We’ve been loving roasted vegetables!  Isn’t that one of the best parts of winter?!  Some of our favorite dishes have included Roasted Vegetable and Quinoa Harvest BowlRoasted Rainbow Winter Bowl, and White Bean and Brussels Sprout Stuffed Delicata Squash with Tahini Lemon Sauce.

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Spring is great for fresh, crisp salads but I definitely munch my way through salads all year along.  This Warm + Roasted Winter Salad Bowl (pictured above) is super cozy and hearty.

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Roasted Broccoli Sweet Potato Chickpea Salad (pictured above) comes together quickly and, as with all these dishes, makes for perfect in-a-hurry lunches throughout the week.

Desserts

One Bowl Jumbo Chocolate Chunk Cookies have been whipped up many times this month for an easy chilly day treat or a fun way to end a night with friends.  To be honest, I haven’t actually made these since my hubby has claimed them as his speciality.:)

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Have you cooked or created a great recipe recently that you’d like me to share?  I love trying new recipes, so please send your favorite plant-powered to Stacy@thenourishinghealth.com for a chance to be featured in the months to come!

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There are many reasons to switch to natural beauty and personal care products.  Growing research reveals the harm chemical-laden products have on our microbiome.  Our skin is our bodies largest organ and much of what we put on our skin enters our bloodstream.  According to the Environmental Working Group there are more than 80,000 chemicals on the market today, many of which don’t have any safety data, especially those in the skin care and beauty industry.  The FDA regulates the cosmetic industry and allows companies to use chemicals known to be extremely harmful in products we use on our bodies everyday.

Not only do I desire products that are chemical-free but ones using ingredients that nourish & heal while being environmentally friendly, cruelty-free, and at a reasonable cost.  Is that even possible?!  :)

Sunny Sabramanian, an expert vegan beauty blogger, says “yes!” and and paves the way in her newly released book, The Compassionate Chick’s Guide to DIY Beauty.  Fun and informative, it provides over 100 full color step-by-step photos, charts, diagrams, plus a DIY gift section so you can create nourishing products for you and share the love with others!

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Creating your own beauty products may seem overwhelming but you can start small, selecting the products you use most often, and build from there.  Items like deodorant are made infrequently, allowing you to even select one item per week to create while your dinner is cooking.  So simple!  Sunny has provided a few of her favorite recipes to begin to transform your cabinet into a beautiful and oh-so-fun haven (for all the new mommas, like myself, it really can feel like a mini-retreat!:))

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Refreshing Footloose Soak, page 129

It’s amazing how a little warm, mineral-laced water can work miracles on tired, achy feet. Soften and hydrate your hardworking tootsies with this simple soak while you catch up on some trashy celeb gossip magazines (guilty pleasure!) or binge-watch your fave Netflix show.

Best for: All skin types

Top Tips: Rosemary essential oil has anti-fungal superpowers. It has also been shown to fight bacteria, so it keeps feet smelling sweet.

If you like, add a pinch of dried rosemary and a sprig of fresh mint to your soak. It smells extra heavenly.

Superstar ingredients: Epsom salt chills out tired, aching feet, while baking soda helps eliminate and prevent foot odor. Peppermint and rosemary essential oils awaken the senses while they banish bad-smelling bacteria.

  • Glass jar with lid
  • Basin or bucket large enough to accommodate 
 feet comfortably

1 cup         fine Epsom salt                                            250 mL

1⁄2 cup      baking soda                                                   125 mL

15              drops peppermint essential oil                      15

15              drops rosemary essential oil                           15

Hot water

  1. In a medium bowl, stir together Epsom salt, baking soda, peppermint essential oil and rosemary essential oil until well combined. Spoon into jar.
  2. Fill basin with hot water. Add 1⁄4 cup (60 mL) of the Epsom salt mixture and stir until dissolved. Let cool slightly.
  3. Test the temperature of the water with your toe to make sure it’s very warm but not scalding. Immerse your feet in the water and soak for 15 to 30 minutes (longer is OK, if you like).
  4. Pat feet dry with a towel. Follow with your favorite moisturizing cream or straight-up coconut or jojoba oil.
  5. Store jar at room temperature 
for up to 6 months.

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Keep-It-Dry Deodorant Paste, page 232

Tired of searching for a pure, chemical-free deodorant that doesn’t cost a fortune? Yeah, me, too. Here’s a mega-simple DIY deodorant that focuses on safe, effective ingredients. No muss, no fuss, no stink!

Best for: Normal, Combination, Oily/acne-prone,
 Dry and Mature skin

Top Tip: Tea tree, lavender and lemongrass essential oils are all powerful odor fighters. Add a few drops and you’ll be smelling sweet!

Superstar ingredient: Coconut oil is a terrific emollient. It was also popular for cooking in the United States and Canada until the 1970s, when corn and soy oil companies ramped up their propaganda against it. They claimed that its high saturated fat content made it dangerous to consume, but today, we know that coconut oil is more complex than that. The saturated fat in coconut oil consists primarily of medium-chain fatty acids, which aren’t as easily stored as fat by the body.

  • Small glass jar with lid

3 tbsp         arrowroot powder or cornstarch            45 mL

1 tbsp         baking soda or kaolin clay                        15 mL

2 tbsp         coconut oil                                                   30 mL

5                    drops essential oil(s) of your choice        5

  1. In a small bowl, whisk arrowroot powder with baking soda until well combined. Set aside.
  2. Place coconut oil in a small heatproof glass bowl. Microwave on High, stirring every 5 seconds, until melted and completely smooth. (The total time will depend on the strength of your microwave.)
  3. Whisk coconut oil into arrowroot mixture along with essential oil(s) until a paste forms. Pour into jar.
  4. Using fingers, rub a small amount of paste over underarm skin until absorbed.
  5. Store at room temperature for up to 1 year.

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GIVEAWAY TIME!!  Begin creating your own products at home with a 15mL bottle of Young Living Lavender essential oil.  To enter leave a comment sharing what personal care or beauty product you’d replace first.  Be sure to grab a copy of Sunny’s book for more recipes for a toxic-free cabinet.

Winner will be chosen at random.  Giveaway ends on November 23.  Valid for U.S. residents only. 

Update –> Congratulations to Teran for winning this giveaway!  :)

Many thanks to the publisher, Robert Rose, for the opportunity to review this resource. 

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  • Kristine Lucius - I love natural DIY, non-toxic products! Yes, our skin is our largest organ! I never want to go back to polluting myself with all those nasty chemicals. Thanks for the great info and the recipes!ReplyCancel

    • Stacy Lingle - So true! I’m glad you’ve made such a switch!ReplyCancel

  • Connie Bish - I would love to give the Deodorant recipe a try! And I love that they are recipes with few items, simple and quick to make. Thank you for sharing!ReplyCancel

    • Stacy Lingle - You’re welcome, Connie! I agree – I get overwhelmed when recipes have so many ingredients that it just makes it feel time consuming and unreasonable. Thse are so easy and its nice that they last a long time!ReplyCancel

  • Josephine - Deodorant! I’ve wanted to make my own, but I’m slightly scared-this one sounds less scary and ready for me to try it soon!!!ReplyCancel

    • Stacy Lingle - I agree, Josephine! I was always scared to make my own too, but this one is certainly easy!ReplyCancel

  • Dawn G - DIY deodorant is my priority.ReplyCancel

    • Stacy Lingle - Awesome Dawn! I’d love to hear how you like the deodorant if you make it!ReplyCancel

  • Teran - Thanks for sharing this! I think my switch would be deodorant and then possibly lotion. I’ve tried using coconut oil like you suggested and I like it, but it can be a little oily sometimes. I would like to make something for myself and my little ones!ReplyCancel

    • Stacy Lingle - You’re very welcome! I definitely agree on deodorant and lotion – those things we run all over our bodies everyday were my first priority too!ReplyCancel