When I was a kid, we used to have DEAR time ( Drop Everything And Read). I’m really trying to figure out how to pronounce DEAW, because that’s what I want to tell you to do – Drop Everything And Walk! 😂
Sure, we know that walking is a good form of exercise, but do you know WHY?!
For starters, walking can:
Strengthen your heart and lower your blood pressure, reducing risks of cardiovascular disease
Strengthen your muscular and skeletal systems
Improve your circulation and digestion
Boost your mental health by releasing endorphins that fight stress
Help you maintain a healthy weight
Whoa! That’s enough to make me want to sneak an extra few minutes in a day…
I like to take a short walk in the morning, before I dive into anything too strenuous. (My pup appreciates this, too!) A short lunch time or afternoon walk can help boost your mood and energy, pushing you through the rest of the day. An evening walk can help you unwind before bed, and makes for great quality time with the family.
Having trouble getting away from your to-do list long enough to enjoy such a walk? Try finding a task you can do while walking:
Brainstorm for an upcoming project
Make your grocery list
Draft an email
Take a phone call
Eat a snack or drink a smoothie
I challenge you to take an extra walk this weekend and see how it makes you feel! Maybe, just maybe, it’ll become a habit you want to keep.
Show me how you fit those extra steps in! Take a picture & tag me on Instagram @_foodfitnessfaith_, or post in my Facebook group! We love to cheer people on.
Holistic Nutritionist & Herbal Tea Specialist at Julia’s Wellness Apothecary
Herbal remedies are the most safe and least expensive form of healing, with a multitude of benefits coming from each individual plant. Though they have yet to be totally backed by the mainstream medical community, they remain the number one form of medicine world wide. Most people know of common herbs such as:
Lavender, Peppermint, Chamomile and Eucalyptus, popularly used in essential oil form.
But, there is a whole encyclopedia worth of herbal remedies that are easy to locate, grow, or make into your own salve, tea, or tincture. Think of it as a “mix and match, self care, medicinal potion” you’re creating, with zero side effects!
The most common question I’ve come across is how to manage anxiety, nervousness and depression. My favorite go-to herbs for this are: Ashwagandha, Holy Basil, Kava, Ginseng, and St. John’s Wort. Kava, or as I like to call it, “herbal xanax,” works like a charm on acute anxiety, panic attacks, and hysteria. It binds to GABA receptors (relaxing, mood-boosting neurotransmitters) and promotes happiness and relaxation. Best of all, it begins working in minutes. Since the taste is quite bitter, I recommend adding the liquid extract into a smoothie or juice!
Herbs for a better night’s sleep or issues with insomnia include Valerian, Scullcap, Lavender, Chamomile, and Motherwort. In my opinion, these are best enjoyed in tea form.
Gas, pain and bloating is best helped by Fennel, Peppermint, Lemon Balm, and Cardamom seeds (but if you’re needing help moving things along, your best bet is Senna).
Anti-inflammatory issues often stem from chronic diseases such as fibromyalgia and arthritis. If this is affecting your well-being and everyday life, make Turmeric your best friend! Curcumin, it’s most active compound, works by blocking NF-kB, a molecule that turns on genes related to inflammation in the nuclei.
Finally, we know immune support herbs are of the utmost importance, especially recently. Look for Ginger, Peppermint, Elderberry, and Echinacea. Turn to Cherry bark for that stubborn cough!
Most of these herbs, in dried plant or root form, are available for easy order online, with most extracts and supplements in the herbal section of your local grocery store (usually near the pharmacy)! For teas, the longer you keep your mug covered and steeping, the stronger the taste and the benefits will be. I recommend at least 15 minutes, then enjoy!
If you like to support small businesses, my herbal loose leaf teas, Julia’s Wellness Apothecary, are available! I offer Immune Support, Oat Chai, Calm Spirit, Lavender Anti-Anxiety, Rose Beauty, Gut Health, and Anti-Inflammatory blends. If there’s a more specific issue you have in mind, I’d happily make you a custom blend.
This summer salad has quickly become a fan favorite! With simple, whole ingredients and a light, refreshing dressing, it’s the perfect accompaniment to your grilled or barbecued dishes. I love to grab tomatoes, cucumbers, and fresh herbs from my local farmers market to really get that taste of summer!
I always have garbanzo beans on hand because they are such a versatile source of plant protein. Using avocado as the healthy fat in the dressing also keeps this salad oil-free (no unnecessary calories here!) It is vegan, gluten-free, and a delicious addition to any whole food, plant-based diet.
Hope your family enjoys it as much as mine does!
Two cans of garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
Two medium tomatoes
Three to four green onions
One large lemon or two small, juiced
One lime, juiced
One ripe avocado
Herbs, fresh or dry, to taste – I like to use parsley and cilantro
Salt and pepper, to taste
Rinse and drain garbanzo beans. Dice tomato and green onions, and peel and dice cucumber. Toss everything together.
Cut your avocado in half. Finally dice 1/2 and gently toss with your beans and vegetables.
In a measuring cup or bowl, mash the other half of the avocado. Whip it together with the lemon and lime juices and spices.
Add the dressing to your beans and vegetables until lightly coated with creaminess!
Serve as a side, over salad greens, or even on your favorite roll as a meatless entree option.
Whether it’s a summer holiday, camping trip, weekend gathering, or just some fun-in-the-sun, you can still enjoy delicious food!
Here are some of my favorite ways to stick to what I know is a little healthier, while sharing in festivities with family and friends.
Sides & Salads
There are a couple simple tricks to making your classic side dishes healthier: lighten the dressings, and increase the veggies! Lessening or eliminating that half a jar of mayo cuts SO many calories right off the bat. It also allows you to taste the full flavors of herbs and seasonings. I’m excited to share with you some of my family’s favorites.
Potato Salad & Cole Slaw: You don’t have to throw out your family recipe! Instead, change up the dressing by cutting out the mayo or miracle whip (or cutting it down to a tablespoon or two) and replacing it with some of these:
apple cider vinegar
Dijon mustard (or your favorite kind)
extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper
onion, garlic, and fresh herbs (parsley and chives in either, dill or rosemary on potatoes)
Pasta Salad: Choose a whole grain or bean pasta over white flour and you’ve already improved! Then:
Load up your pasta with cooked broccoli, fresh tomatoes, artichoke hearts, peppers, onion and garlic, and any other seasonal vegetables you love.
For a protein boost, add chickpeas!
Throw in your favorite fresh herbs
Lightly dress with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, and salt & pepper
Chickpea Salad: This is a super light, low-carb alternative to the typical starchy sides. Fiber and protein fill you up and crisp veggies refresh you!
Dice cucumber, tomatoes, and red onion.
Drain and rinse chickpeas and toss them in with your vegetables.
Add any fresh herbs.
Lightly dress with (you guessed it!) extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, and salt & pepper
Who doesn’t love a good cookout? Sometimes you just want to grab something easy from the fridge or freezer and throw it on the grill. For those occasions, I like to make a big batch of bean or veggies burgers and freeze them. Add a whole grain roll and your favorite toppings, or skip the roll and enjoy a burger on a salad or with sides. A few of my favorite recipes are below (and the first two are gluten-free).
A few years ago, if you had said the phrase “carrot dog,” I would have laughed in your face! There was no WAY you could make a carrot resemble anything CLOSE to a hotdog… Well, I was proven wrong, and now I challenge you to try it yourself! They are so easy – steam, marinade, grill! Here’s how:
Ready for some guilt-free snacking? Munching your way through a day in the sun can be delicious and nutritious for the whole family with a coupe of these go-tos:
Easy Homemade Hummus: Don’t overthink this. Dump all the ingredients in a food processor or blender cup, process until smooth, and enjoy! I love hummus with raw veggies or triangles of whole wheat pita bread.
15 oz can of drained chickpeas (reserve the liquid)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup of chickpea liquid (called aquafaba)
salt to taste
optional: garlic, tahini, other seasonings
Step Up Your Salsa by adding black beans and cooked corn. Bam.
Buffalo “Chicken” Jackfruit Dip: Be ready for a crowd-pleaser! This dip gets DEVOURED at every party it goes to.
Don’t you feel good when you know what is in your food? Simple, whole ingredients simply make me happy!
My breakfasts have LEVELED UP since I started keeping this homemade granola on hand. You can add varieties of nuts, seeds, and dried fruits to the simple base to suit your taste. It’s great for snacking, too!
Beyond just being a tasty option, there’s a lot that makes this breakfast a healthy choice:
Oats are gluten-free, heart-healthy whole grains that also work to control blood sugar. The omega-3 fatty acids in walnuts and flaxseed support heart health, brain health, and joints. Flaxseed is also an excellent source of fiber to aid digestion! Raw honey is FULL of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and enzymes that have antibacterial properties. (If you choose not to eat honey, this recipe can also be enjoyed using maple syrup.)
Ready to give it a try?! Prep time: 10 mins, Bake time: 27 mins… You can do it!
3 cups rolled oats
6 tbsp ground flaxseed
1 cup crushed walnuts or almonds
1/2 cup craisins or raisins (if you want)
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 cup apple sauce
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp raw honey OR maple syrup
1.) Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.
2.) In a small bowl or a pan, warm the coconut oil and honey or maple syrup until they can combine. Mix in applesauce.
3.) Toss the wet mixture into the dry until it is lightly coated. It should clump together a little.
4.) Spread on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for about 27 minutes, stirring every 10, until crunchy and golden.
5.) Cool and store in an airtight container for up to a week. Makes about 6 servings.
6.) Enjoy with your favorite plant-based milk & fruit! You can also pack it as a dry snack, or prepare it in small containers with yogurt for a portable breakfast.