Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Fighting and preventing colds and flus naturally!

During the past three years, I have completely changed the way my family eats and I have done a lot of research about building immunity.  The healthier my little guy stays, the less asthma episodes we are fighting with inhalers and nebulized steroids.  With both my kids in a day care center environment, they are exposed to every virus under the sun.  On top of all of this, my son does not get flu shots due to egg allergies.  And, since I have done a lot of research of flu shots as a result, my family does not get flu shots anymore.  (Note: I am not anti-vaccine - we do follow a modified vaccine schedule for our daughter, and she will receive every other vaccine that is required.)  My research has shown that it is absolutely possible to fend off the flu naturally.

With all of this being said, I have a few tips to share with you that will give you insight into what we do in our home to fend off colds and flus.  (This is in addition to our daily multi vitamin that we take!)

Vitamin D

I cannot say enough about the impact vitamin D has had on myself and my family.  Leaving in the tundra (Minnesota), vitamin D is crucial especially during the fall, winter and even the spring.  I would recommend having your vitamin D levels checked in order to get a gauge as to how much you may need.  My son takes 3,000 iu per day (40 lbs), my daughter 1,000 iu (just under 25 lbs) and I take 5,000 iu per day.  This is in addition to fish oil, which has additional vitamin D in it.

Fish Oil

Ever since being introduced to Weston A. Price through our natural health practitioners, my son and I have been taking fermented cod liver oil every day.  I recommend Green Pasture.  My son takes 1/2 tsp. and I take 2 tsp. per day.  This stuff is a bit nasty but the Cinnamon Tingle flavor is tolerable.  My four year old takes it without a second thought, but he is one of very few that would do so (I did not force this on him, he asked to start taking it and we never looked back).  I give my daughter Barlean's Omega Swirl, which comes in a variety of flavors and is delicious!  I highly recommend this brand.  You can find it at Whole Foods or co-ops (it needs to be refrigerated so I would not recommend purchasing online).

Probiotics and Fermented Foods

In addition to probiotic supplements every day, our family eats a lot of fermented foods.  Check out this post for more insight into fermented foods that my family consumes.  I make my own sauerkraut (I use Pickl-It jars now) - it is SO easy.  It takes about as much time as making a batch of muffins from a preparation standpoint.  However, for really good, probiotic rich sauerkraut, it takes about 3 months of fermentation to get great results.  If you would rather purchase it, Bubbies is a great brand (for pickles, too)!  This is the recipe I follow for sauerkraut.

Elderberry Syrup

Elderberries have been shown to prevent the flu and shorten the length of the flu.  I find that it works extremely effectively to fight colds as well.  We do not take it every day, as I find it to be more effective to use it only when I know my kids have been exposed to a specific virus/flu bug or if I see signs of either in them.  My 4 year old takes 1 tsp. morning and night if exposed and if I see symptoms I will give him 1 tsp every few hours throughout the day.  During an illness, I give him 2-3 tsp. per day.  My one year old follows the same protocol except with 1/2 tsp.  My husband and I take 2 tsp. when we feel signs of a cold or flu coming on.  We have seen amazing results since adding this to our protocol!

Note:  I purchase this syrup from Whole Foods.  You can make your own, as well.  Please note that this kind has honey in it, so not appropriate for children under age one.

Other great flu and cold fighters...

I always have my freezer stocked with bone broth.  This is a wonderful post about the benefits of the nutrient-packed broth!  I make perpetual broth (link in the post referenced) when we have a cold or flu running through our house.  Otherwise I make a batch (24 hours in the crock pot) and freeze it in jars.

I also love this apple cider vinegar tea.  It makes me feel better almost instantly!  I cannot get my four year old to drink it (YET!) :) but my husband and I agree that it helps soothe a raw throat or cough and move through the cold more quickly.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Fast (NOT processed) snacks and more!

Happy New Year!  As we enter 2014, one question that I have received messages and comments about via my personal Facebook page and my new Elevate Wellness Facebook page is this:  I need new snack and meal ideas that are quick, easy and require little to no prep or clean up.  Many say they reach for processed foods to meet all of these requirements, but it doesn't have to be that way!!!  

Here is my family's top five snacks, that could also serve as meals on the go!

Apple Sandwiches
1.  Apple Sandwiches:  A green apple with sunflower seed butter (Sunbutter) is a go-to allergy-friendly snack in our house.  Amp it up by thinly slicing the apple, adding a thin spread of nut butter to one slice and then sprinkling some seeds or granola on top of the nut butter.  Add another slice of apple and repeat.  My four year old thinks this is a fun snack!  You could pack these up with some lunch meat roll ups for lunch on the go!  

2.  Granola and Muffins:  This does take a little prep, but if you take one hour on the weekend and double or triple a recipe and freeze the extras, this makes an awesome quick snack or compliment to a meal with little fuss on a busy weekday!  Check out these granola bars and these granola bites (that can be made grain free using coconut flour!) and this muffin recipe for a good start.

3.  Homemade "lunchables":  Slice up high quality summer sausage (try Thousand Hills or a brand local to you!), organic, hormone free cheese and clean crackers (try Flackers, Mary's Gone Crackers, or a homemade cracker recipe if you are up for some baking) and add some berries or grapes into a reusable bento box storage container and you have a fun snack or lunch with just a little bit of preparation.

4.  Trail mix:  We LOVE mixing our own trail mix.  This is a fantastic allergy-friendly snacks (add nuts if allergies are not a concern)!  This is where the bulk bins at Whole Foods, your local co op or just about any grocery store come in very handy.  We add coconut flakes, banana chips, dried cranberries, raisins, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, mini chocolate chips and other fun add ins to make a filling, nutritious snack.  Mix a large container that you can scoop into small bags when you are on the go!

5.  Fresh cut veggies with dip:  This does take a little prep, but spend 15 minutes on a Sunday afternoon cleaning and chopping broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, broccoli, etc and keep it in a bag in the fridge for quick snacks during the week.  Add yogurt, hummus, homemade ranch or guacamole to dip (which always makes it more fun)!

Beyond the top 5, smoothies are always an fun and healthy snack!  There are so many smoothie recipes to choose from.  We add greens and bananas to every smoothie we make in our house.  Milk, yogurt and water make up the liquid part of the smoothie and then our frozen organic fruit (peaches and berries - we buy our frozen fruit in large bags from Costco when we can) tops it off.

I'd love to hear about any of your go-to snacks and convenience foods!  Enjoy!