Do I Need a Calcium Supplement?

The short answer here is that you may not need one. Most of us get enough calcium in our diets but lack the needed cofactors to use and assimilate the calcium. 

Foods that are rich in calcium

  • Sardines

  • Sesame Seeds

  • Collard Greens

  • Spinach

  • Turnip Greens

  • Mustard Greens

  • Beet Greens

  • Natto (fermented soy)

  • Egg Yolks

  • Dark Meat Chicken.

You do not have to consume dairy products to get enough calcium but if you do, the best sources of dairy calcium are raw milk, yogurt and cheese (Jarlsberg in particular). 

Calcium makes up about 2% of your body weight contributing to bone structure as well as playing a role in controlling muscle and nerve function.  We definitely need calcium but you may not need to supplement with it as long as you are eating a well balanced diet. Too much calcium in the diet can deposit itself in places like blood vessels and as kidney stones in the kidneys. 

While calcium is essential for muscle contraction, magnesium serves as a calcium blocker. It is the calcium in too high amounts that creates a muscle cramp and magnesium that creates the relaxation. So it is important for these two to be in balance especially when it comes to your heart. 

It is not enough to try to replace these minerals that may be lacking in the diet. They need to be in balance and we need to be asking ourselves why there is an imbalance in the first place. 

Some things to look at to see whether or not your body is able to use the calcium in your diet are: 

How are your hormones functioning? Your parathyroid plays a very big role in maintaining blood calcium levels, thyroid hormone decreases blood calcium levels, adrenal hormones control sodium and potassium which have a relationship with calcium and sex hormones play a role in bone structure. Vitamin D works like a hormone in the body. We need it to increase the absorption through the digestive system. More on that later. 

Are you drinking enough water? Good hydration ensures that blood is fluid or thin and free flowing enough to efficiently transport calcium throughout the body. Having balanced electrolytes will help make sure calcium is transferred in and out of the cells. 

Are you getting enough other minerals in your diet? You should not only be looking at the amount of minerals you are getting in your diet (from food) but are they in balance with the amount of calcium you are getting. 

Are you digesting your fats or taking in quality fats?  Fatty acids are needed to transport calcium in to the cells and help increase calcium levels in the tissues. 

Is your digestion working properly? Calcium is only absorbed in an acidic environment and so it needs adequate stomach acid for the body to be able to use it. 

 There are two other factors that come in to play in regards to calcium and our ability to use it properly in the body. 

Vitamin K and Vitamin D. 

First let’s look at Vitamin K which has two forms. K1 and K2. This is a very simplified explanation of K1 and K2 as there are more forms of Vitamin K that play very specific roles in the body but for the purposes of this post I am keeping it simple for you all. If you want to learn about these vitamins in greater detail google Chris Masterjohn. He has made a career out of studying fat soluble vitamins. 

Vitamin K2 Health Benefits

It prevents calcium from going in to all the wrong places, as discussed above, like keeping it out of your kidneys where stones can form and the blood vessels where it can contribute or cause heart disease. It also helps get it in to your bones and teeth where your bones will get strong and your teeth will be able to fight off decay.

It helps you make insulin and helps to prevent insulin resistance. Remember this is when your cells turn the insulin carrying glucose away because they have had too much. In this way it helps to keep your blood sugar stable. It also helps you use energy properly making exercise a little easier and protects you from cancer.   

Vitamin K comes in different forms with K1 being the most well known for helping with blood clotting so you want to avoid supplementing with Vitamin K if you are on an anticoagulant. K1 is found mostly in plants and especially in leafy greens and K2 is found most often in animal products. This is a fat soluble vitamin so you might notice that the animal products it is found in are naturally higher in fat so you can use it. This is why I tell my clients and students to eat their veggies with a little bit of fat so they can actually use the vitamins in the plant. 

Vitamin D Health Benefits

This fat soluble vitamin plays a big role in your overall health by impacting around 3000 of your genes. It turns on or off the genes that prevent or make worse diseases such as cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, MS, gum disease, IBS, colds and flu and many more. 

Much of the population is deficient in Vitamin D, especially those with darker skin and those living in the north. Most of us need about ten times what the Recommended Daily Allowance is (600 IU per day for RDA) and the very best way to get it is by getting sunlight daily or taking a high quality supplement. Be aware though that if you supplement you need to have your levels checked regularly by a doctor because you can take too much. 

Vitamin D helps you absorb calcium and vitamin K2 sends the calcium to your bones, again, keeping it from depositing in the wrong places.  A build up of plaque in the arteries results from a damaged blood vessel having calcium deposited there so that you can remain alive. This is how heart disease begins. A build up of this kind of plaque can result in an eventual heart attack. Remember that sugar and processed foods are what cause the damage to the blood vessels in the first place.  Vitamin K and D work together to protect your blood vessels from this plaque formation. 

If you are taking calcium and vitamin D supplements but are deficient in K, you could be doing more harm than good than if you didn’t take a calcium supplement at all because that calcium is just one part of your overall bone and heart health. 

Bottom line:

  • You may not need a calcium supplement, you are probably getting enough from your diet.

  • You need good digestion.

  • You need to be well hydrated.

  • You need to do some weight bearing exercise like walking or lifting weights.

  • You need those good quality fats in your diet and you need to digest them.

  • You need to optimize your vitamin D intake (and get some sun) and check your blood levels regularly.

  • Get K2 from leafy greens, fermented veggies, or raw milk cheeses

  • Eat a wide and varied diet of real whole foods.

 

Tell me in the comments. Do you take a calcium supplement or a vitamin D supplement? Do you spend time outside getting some sunshine?

 

Does Being on The Autoimmune Protocol Suck?

Autoimmune disease comes in all different forms. I have been on the autoimmune protocol for about 11 months.  I spent a whole year before going on it contemplating whether or not I should do it.

It is daunting. Overwhelming. A. Lot. Of. Work. All that cooking. I got used to it. 

I had questions. What will I be able to eat? Will I be able to go out to eat? Will I be able to have any fun? What will a social situation look like? I adapted. 

I have had such a love for food my whole life. It was my friend when there was no one else. It was love. It was comfort. It was my everything. It was the way I showed love or that I cared about someone. I cooked for them. I baked. I loved to bake. Bread, cake, cookies, brownies, muffins, more bread, more cake. What my kids didn’t eat I did. I love sweet things. I love chocolate. I loved sugar. None of this is allowed on the autoimmune protocol. So, you bet, I took a long damn time to decide to do this knowing what I would have to further cut from my diet. We can be positive and say, “Look at all the good stuff you CAN have.” Well. You can have a lot of stuff. Lots of vegetables. Veggies up the wazoo. You can have beef heart! And Liver! Yum! Do you hear the sarcasm? When 39 years of your life is consuming the Standard American Diet (SAD), this feels like kind of a big deal. Especially if you have emotional ties to food. 

I know I am supposed to be eating those nutrient dense offal things. I am not because I can’t get past the idea of what it is. The texture even. Gah! No thanks. 

When I did this. I was all in with what needed to be restricted. But I was not adding in any offal. So I didn’t and you know what? I still felt really good. My thyroid numbers got better. Then, as I started to feel better I added some foods back in. Not in the “proper” way but in a way that worked for me which was like this: You put pepper on that meat? Okay. Let’s see if I have a reaction to it…. No reaction. Okay. Pepper seems to work.  

One day in August I made plantain brownies with carob. The recipe called for 2 eggs. I ate half the pan in about 12 hours and had a major reaction but it wasn’t how I expected. Not even 12 hours in to eating those brownies did I become so irritable that I could not even stand myself. I couldn’t believe it. I was raging. My poor kids. So, no eggs for me. I reinforced that idea when I mistakenly ate some gluten free crackers that had egg yolks (no wonder they were so good) as a snack before bed and the next day became increasingly irritable. That really bums me out. I liked eggs. I know that I dot’ want to live life in a state of constant rage though so I am willing to cut them out. I am not happy about it. Don’t get me wrong. I am actually a little pissed. I have a pity party every so often and do the whole “why me?” thing but then I let it go. The more I do that the worse it gets. 

Now it is 11 months in and I have let some things slip. I have a vegan gluten free bread every so often and some Mary’s Gone Crackers crackers on occasion. They don’t seem to wreck my digestion and if I don’t eat them every day it seems to be fine. 

I have decided that if I am so restrictive with my diet, I am unhappy. I do my very best most of the time and on occasion I do enjoy something off the protocol and I don’t feel bad for it. I still always eat gluten free but occasionally have some dairy. Dairy and I don’t get along so if I have it, it is usually just a tiny bit. Like a lick of ice cream or a dab of butter. I definitely feel better when I stick closer to the protocol. I have not reintroduced peppers or eggplant but have done well with some of the nightshade spices like chili powder. I am not so sure on tomatoes though. I have to do a "real" reintro to know for sure. That would mean just eating tomato instead of adding tomato in to a recipe and wondering if that is what has caused the issue. I'm not very diligent about doing a proper reintro of a food. I let life get in the way. 

The real killer for me is sugar. I am addicted and I have intense cravings which are related to a yeast overgrowth which I am working on killing off. Too much sugar has resulted in me having to deal with psoriasis and this last go round with it gave me two new patches to deal with. Needless to say I got really mad when these popped up. I first got mad at myself for eating stuff I know is bad for me and then I got mad that I just can’t be normal. That is the most frustrating part for me. I just want to be like every one else sometimes and I can’t. When I look back on my life though it seems like I never have been able to be like every one else. When I try to be I find Idon’t feel like myself. So I have come to realize that my path is to take the road less traveled and see what I find. For me that is this new life of stress management, sleeping when I need to and eating so that I don’t continue to stay sick. Being well means different things for different people and my mission is to help you figure out what well means for you. 

What do you do that makes you feel good?

What I ate for a week on the Autoimmune Protocol

I remember knowing in my gut that taking on AIP was inevitable if I really wanted to feel good. It took me quite a while to come to terms with giving up more foods and not feeling angst over the decision. When you love food, when you were an emotional eater, this can be a real struggle. So in light of that, I thought I would just share what my meals looked like for the past week starting with last Wednesday. 

Wednesday- 

Breakfast: celery root soup and a pork patty with sweet potato hash browns mixed in. 

Lunch: a big salad with turkey (I buy half a turkey breast and roast it and eat it all week long or my kids take some for their lunches), roasted sweet potatoes, olives, plain broccoli slaw (bought at the store, pre shredded), olive oil and balsamic vinegar. 

Dinner: baked pork chops with salt, garlic powder, onion powder and italian seasoning with roasted brussels sprouts, and fennel with bacon and garlic. 

Thursday- 

Breakfast: A protein smoothie (Designs For Health Pure Paleo Protein- technically not AIP), frozen banana and a handful of frozen cherries with coconut milk and Vital Proteins gelatin or collagen

Lunch: Salad with chicken, sweet potatoes, olives, broccoli slaw, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. 

Dinner: Hamburgers, roasted sweet potatoes, sauerkraut, roasted broccoli and bacon

Friday- 

Breakfast: protein smoothie just like the day before. Celery root soup. Pork patty mixed with shredded sweet potatoes. 

Lunch: A great big salad with turkey, olives, leftover veggies from last nights dinner, broccoli slaw, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. 

Dinner: Beef soup. I have an Instant Pot and so I cut up a beef roast like a bread and butter roast or an arm roast in to bite sized chunks. I turned the Instant Pot to sauté, added some coconut oil and sautéed the meat in batches until it was browned. I added chopped carrots, celery and onions and sautéed them a bit as well then added garlic, salt and a bay leaf and chicken broth (water would work too). 

Saturday- 

We were working on getting our house ready for sale so it was a busy day but I planned for it and had some good food ready to eat. 

Breakfast: Bacon and a pork sausage patty with shredded sweet potatoes and a protein smoothie. (I knew I would need the fuel for all the painting we were doing). 

Lunch: Hamburger salad. This is where I make my big salad with the olives, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and the other stuff but I put a burger on top and add sauerkraut to it. 

Dinner: Venison steak bites and Applegate organic 100% grass fed beef hot dogs. I didn’t take enough steak out of the freezer and everyone was starving because of all the work we did so we had steak and an entire package of hot dogs. The best part about this was my girls made dinner (mostly my ten year old who loves to cook). Steak bites are just venison steaks cut in to bite sized chunks and cooked in a cast iron skillet over a medium high heat until they are about medium rare.  The other best part about this dinner was that my daughter said the food tastes so much better when you cook it yourself. LOVE that! 

Sunday-

More work on the house. 

Breakfast: pork patties with shredded sweet potatoes and a smoothie with protein powder and Vital Proteins gelatin. 

Lunch: Another big salad with chicken, olives, broccoli slaw and roasted sweet potatoes. I should mention that the potatoes are usually the white or purple ones, not the orange ones. They roast up nicer and have a less sweet taste in my opinion. 

Dinner: Beef soup and a salad for me. My non AIP family fended for themselves. 

Monday- 

Breakfast: Beef soup

Lunch: I bet you can guess. A big salad. Basic same formula as every other lunch. 

Dinner: My teenage daughter and I had burgers cooked in bacon grease with a side salad and I had sauerkraut on mine. The other two kids go chicken wild rice soup from the co op because I didn’t feel like cooking. 

Tuesday- 

Breakfast: A protein smoothie and two pork patties with shredded sweet potatoes. These meat patties are my new favorite thanks to a friend bringing some over and sharing with me. She got the recipe out of a cookbook that called for chicken but I have a whole pig in my freezer so I have been using a pound of ground pork with one white sweet potato about the same weight and combining the two with salt, garlic and I had some lemon thyme I harvested and dehydrated from my garden so I added that. They are fried in a cast iron skillet and are freaking delicious. I reheat them in a skillet so they crisp up again each day. So good. 

Lunch: Big salad. Aren’t you bored of that? This time though I made beet salad and added that to it with some micro greens (little sprouts of kale and pea shoots). The beet salad is equal parts shredded beets and carrots with sliced dandelion greens. The dressing is olive oil and apple cider vinegar or lemon juice and a sprinkle of salt. 

Dinner: Beef sirloin steak seasoned with salt, cooked carrots and roasted sweet potatoes. 

All delicious and so good for healing. It is not always fun to have to cook everything I eat from scratch but for as good as I feel now, it has been worth it. I feel better and better every day and miss all those foods I didn’t want to give up less and less. 

As you can see from my weeks worth of food that there is not a lot of gourmet dishes being cooked up at my house. I eat a lot of the same things and that is okay. I don’t like fish but that would be an excellent thing for you to add in to your diet. I also have not ventured in to the offal or organ meats that everyone says is so important to getting well. I don’t envision a time when I will be sitting down to beef heart or kidney for dinner. Maybe liver some day with the key word being some day. 

When you are first starting out with this you just have to cook what you have the energy for and go from there. 

Have a question about this weeks worth of food or about how to begin on AIP? Leave it here and I will help you out. 

In Health, 

Stephanie

How isolated do you feel on the autoimmune protocol?

How lonely and isolated do you feel?

I have said it before and I will say it again. The autoimmune protocol is a challenge. I hate that it makes me feel so much better than a regular paleo diet. Believe me, that was way easier to manage than AIP. I have definitely decided though that it is worth the sacrifices I am making so that I can feel good again. I am struggling a bit with sleep this week and I’m sure some of that is residual effects from the “cheat” I had with the gluten free bun and the barbecue sauce on my burger a week and a half ago. We went out for dinner again this past Sunday for my son’s birthday. We went to a chain restaurant where chicken wings are the big offering. My son’s choice. I wasn’t going to make him choose something just so I could have some decent choices on the menu so the chicken wing joint was where the party was at. 

One thing that is super helpful when you are planning an outing such as this is to go online and look at the menu before you get there so you don’t have to worry. My standby at most restaurants is a burger with out a bun but reading the allergen list for this restaurant online showed soy in the burgers. I mostly avoid soy for the principle of it and not because it is something I should avoid. Most soy in the US is genetically modified and I try really hard not to support that industry. You do what you want. That is just my “thing”.  So a burger was out. The other option was the pulled pork with no sauce and no bun. So I brought my travel size olive oil bottle with and ordered the pulled pork and a side salad with no cheese and no croutons. I took the tomatoes off the salad and put olive oil on the lettuce. Then I topped it with the pulled pork. I probably had a spice or two that would not yet be allowed on AIP but I was willing to risk that. My meal was so so. The wings looked way better and while I am not a supporter of factory farming (your shopping dollars say quite a lot when you are purchasing your food) I would have rather had the wings. 

Everyone enjoyed the night out but if I were to be completely honest, I am not over feeling like I am stuck in this rabbit hole of not being able to enjoy food like I used to. Food was my life. I used it to comfort myself. I baked because it was therapeutic and I ate because it temporarily made me feel good. To me, baking and cooking for my family was a way to show I loved them. I enjoyed going out for dinner with friends. Food in some way or another is the foundation for so many social gatherings and I can no longer participate. We are invited to a birthday party in a couple of weeks and there will be nothing for me to eat. I will have to eat ahead of time or I will have to bring my own food. I don’t have a problem with that for the most part. I guess I feel a little envious that I can’t just be normal. If I am having a little pity party for myself I would even go so far as to say it just isn’t fair that I can’t live my life like everyone else. 

I made this choice to begin the autoimmune protocol. I knew in my gut it was the next step in my healing but there is still something missing. I just now have to decide if I want to spend thousands of dollars to figure out what is going on. My gut, again, will tell me that it is heavy metal toxicity. I grew up with a mouth full of mercury fillings and only recently had them removed and replaced with white BPA free fillings. I have been slowly and gently detoxing the mercury over the last year with a clean diet, high doses of vitamin C, regular infrared sauna and clay baths. 

Now, I guess I just have to be patient and wait. 

What if you are doing “all the right things” and still not getting or feeling better. What do you do then?  We have to take a look at the rest of our life and see what is going on. Our cells act the way we think. I often think negatively and my cells react to that. Have you ever forced a good mood on yourself by smiling even when you don’t feel like it? Try it once. You will feel uplifted. Your cells will also respond. Our minds are powerful things and we do have some control over how we feel. Fake it til you make it. 

What about your relationships? This is a big problem for me. I am alone a lot. I have kids to care for by myself a lot. My closest and dearest friend lives 4000 miles away. Needless to say, we don’t get to spend a lot of time together. It is difficult to call her up and meet for coffee. Being alone doesn’t have to mean being lonely but I often am both of these things and that has affected my health big time. When I am with people, I have more energy and I feel better. When I am teaching my nutrition classes like RESTART®, I usually come home with a little pep in my step. This is a big clue to me that I need to have more contact with the outside world. 

How about you? What has been your biggest struggle in your health journey, autoimmune protocol or not? Do you feel isolated having to restrict so many foods? What keeps you going?

I would love to hear from you. Leave your answers in the comments or shoot me an email. 

I am about nine weeks in. 

All the best to you, 

Stephanie

Healthy Eating 101

Last Tuesday was National Night Out (I think it is called something else now) and our neighborhood makes hamburgers and hot dogs for the event and everyone else brings a dish to share. We were discussing hamburgers and a seasoning someone brought that made the burgers tasty. I didn’t have any because I wasn’t sure it was gluten free but I was telling them about making burgers that were half chopped bacon so basically 50% burger and 50% bacon. They are really the most delicious hamburger. Someone said that was funny that someone so “healthy” would suggest eating a burger like that. Just goes to show that people are still soooo mislead by the media about what is healthy. I don’t eat burgers like that every week or even every month but they are a fun treat to have and all that saturated fat is sure good for the body. This has been discussed a couple of times on my website already.  

So what exactly is healthy eating?

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One survey conducted by the National Cancer Institute showed only about 9% of the people surveyed eat three or more servings of vegetables or two or more servings of fruit in a day. This was a recall study of foods eaten the previous day. Do you recall how many fruits and vegetables you ate yesterday?  Yesterday was a good day for me. I ate lots of veggies but that is not typical for me and I am a Nutritional Therapist so I KNOW what I should be eating. 

In the U.S. 46% of our food dollars are spent on foods (meals or snacks) eaten outside of our homes.  For my family I would say that percentage is more like 15%-20% at most so someone else has to make up for my share of not eating out. The number of convenience stores has more than doubled in the last ten years!  Americans drink a heck of a lot of soft drinks consuming their body weight in sweeteners! Yikes.  Americans also drink more soft drinks than water although I would guess this may be changing as we seem to be really getting wise to how terrible soft drinks are for us.

 Where in the world do you start to eat healthy?

You can get rid of chronic health issues, prevent further disease and make the quality of your life much better by making some pretty basic changes. Change is hard. People are resistant to it especially when it means giving up some of those comfort foods we have so grown to love.  The thing you cannot forget is that a diet of proper nutrients gives your body all the materials it needs to detoxify and heal or to maintain good health. If your body is broken down with chronic health problems it is because you are not giving your body the fuel it needs to run properly and it is broken. Sometimes the damage can be reversed, sometimes it can be slowed down and sometimes you can stop it in its tracks. It really just depends on how much damage is done. 

In any case, I guarantee you will feel better by making the following basic changes to your diet. 

 

Start drinking more water. 

Many people or other health professionals will tell you to drink eight 8oz glasses of water per day. The standard I follow is half your body weight in ounces per day. 

What if you don’t like water? 

You can read all about why water is so needed by your body here.  I have always loved water so I don’t have a good answer for you on how to make yourself like it.  You can try to start out with a sparkling mineral water like Perrier or San Pellegrino. LaCroix is a start too but it is not the same as the other two. Mineral waters have all the minerals your body needs including magnesium which most of us are deficient in. Your tap water can be a source of chemicals like fluorine, chlorine and other things like lead or plastics (depends on what kind of pipes you have). 

Eat lots of vegetables every day. Eat 1-2 servings of fruit.  

More than half your plate should be covered in veggies at every meal.  One of the best ways to lose weight is to eat a lot of vegetables. The fiber can help you feel full longer and will help get things moving. It can even help keep your cholesterol and blood pressure in check.  

Leafy greens are an excellent source of folate which is important for the methylation cycle in your detoxification system and also plays a role in producing the feel good hormone serotonin. 

You get lots of minerals from veggies too but they are best absorbed when you eat your veggies with some fat (butter on broccoli, asparagus roasted with olive oil, a simple salad with a homemade dressing of olive oil, mustard and salt and pepper). 

They help keep cancer at bay, increase your energy and help keep the toxins moving out of your body. 

Avoid the deep fried foods, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils (Trans Fats). 

  • High levels of trans fats in your cells increases your chances of developing cancer, especially breast cancer. 
  • High levels of trans fats are associated with heart disease. 
  • Consuming trans fats increases pain and inflammation. They keep your body from creating its own natural anti-inflammatory substances. If you have chronic pain this is one thing you will want to avoid for sure. 
  • Trans fats get in your cells making it easier for a virus or bacteria to invade and keep your immune system struggling. 
  • It is thought they are linked to ADD, depression and fatigue. 

Stay away from refined sugar.

This is a tough one for a lot of us, myself included. Americans eat a lot of sugar every year. There are many different statistics on this but one study concluded that Americans consume around 170 pounds per year. That number was seven pounds per year in 1750 England. This stuff really wreaks havoc on your body. 

  • Eating it causes a loss of minerals, especially magnesium
  • Eating sugar makes your body’s need for vitamin C and the B vitamins that much greater. 
  • Makes emotional stress even worse. 
  • Feeds yeasts in your body causing an imbalance and makes cravings worse (those yeasts in your body will actually make you crave sugar- it is their fuel)
  • Have you ever been on the blood sugar roller coaster? Have the need for a pick me up in the afternoon? 
  • Sugar increases pain and inflammation

Limit or just don’t eat refined carbohydrates

Most of us get at least 50% of our calories from refined carbohydrates. These are all the grains that have been processed to nothing and made in to bread, cake, cookies, pasta etc. All you have left is the starch because all of the nutrients are gone. Have you ever eaten something you thought you were craving only to feel so unsatisfied afterwards and still looking for “that something” to fill you up. Well, if it isn’t an emotional need you are looking to feed it is your body looking for the minerals and vitamins that it is not getting.  These foods will fill you up but they will not nourish you and that is really what you need to function properly- nourishment. 

If you have Autoimmune disease of any kind you may be best served by avoiding all grains most especially wheat. If you must eat any grains it is best to consume them properly prepared which means soaked and sprouted. If you are going to take the time to do that you could benefit from their nutrients but you can get all the nutrients you need from other foods.

Keep the chemicals out of your diet and your life in general

There are around 80,000 chemicals approved by the FDA for use in anything from food to make-up and so on. We are inundated with toxins on a daily basis from our environment too. There is definitely no getting around that.  You do have control over what you eat and what you put on your body though so you can control a bit of how toxic your life is or has become. 

Your average American eats around ten pounds of chemicals in the form of food additives every year! 

Did you know that additives are tested in their singular form and not together. So no one really knows what a combo of these things in a food product does to your body.  Toxins and food additives are a huge burden on the liver. If you are consuming large amounts of sugar your liver is probably too busy to do anything about the chemicals in your body so they get deposited places (like the fat on your body) until your body can deal with them later. 

Mono and diglycerides are listed by the FDA as the kind of additives that cause cancer, birth defects and fertility issues. Granted you probably have to consume a huge amount for these types of problems to occur but many people eat a whole lot of processed foods every single day. If you are one of those people you are getting way more additives than you should. 

Brominated vegetable oil (an ingredient in some sodas like that yellow one depicting the droplets of water on the mountains) that keeps things mixed together. It causes kidney damage and is poisonous. It can make its home in your fat and nerve tissues. 

Red# 40 is thought to be carcinogenic. Many food colors added to foods have been implicated in other things like ADD or ADHD making them worse. Avoid all colors that are followed by a number. 

Aspartame and other artificial sweeteners. These are bad news for your brain and are thought to cause headaches, depression and anxiety. 

TBHQ was not easily approved but somehow it was. Five grams of this stuff can kill you yet it is used as a preservative in many foods so it can sit on the shelf for a really long time without spoiling. 

One could go on and on about a whole host of these types of food additives but you get the idea. Read the ingredients on what you buy or just stay away from processed food as much as possible. 

Eat your food slowly and chew it thoroughly

In American culture is seems to be the norm to wolf down your food as fast as possible so you can move on the next thing. Or maybe you are running from work to a kids activity and eating in the car. Whatever the reason, it will serve you best to take some time out of your day to sit down and eat your meal. Relax. Enjoy. Be grateful for the food and the nourishment it will provide you. Take a bite, put down your fork and chew it well. Really chew it, 20-30 times before swallowing. You will find you eat less and you will feel more satisfied. 

Don’t skip any meals either. Pack some snacks if you need to when you are out so you are not stuck with crappy food choices where you may end up. I usually plan for myself but sometimes my kids don’t want to eat what I have packed. We were on a road trip recently and stopped at a gas station (for gas but the kids were hungry because our dinner was small) and the guy ringing us up said he was really impressed with the choices my kids made. Okay, so it was gas station food but choosing a sandwich over a bag of chips was a good choice. The kids picked sandwiches, yogurt and cheese and Clif Bars. You will find in a pinch many stores are carrying something a little better than a overly processed snack cake or donuts that are stale. 

Changing your diet can be overwhelming. I would suggest you don’t go on a diet. Those things NEVER work. Eat real food. Even if you cannot afford organic food it is cheaper to eat real food. Not only is it cheaper but it is better for your body. Your body knows what to do with chicken but it may question what to do with all the ingredients in a chicken nugget. Be kind to yourself when making these changes. You have to start somewhere and baby steps are always good. Even if you slip up. Be forgiving of your slip and move on. You will be happier and healthier for it!

In health,

Stephanie

 

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO's)

With the bill that passed in the House of Representatives to keep states from being able to mandate labeling of GMO’s I thought I would give you some information about what GMO’s are and why you might want to be aware of them in your diet.  

There is a great lobby for GMO’s and much community activisim against GMO’s. Those fighting for our right to know what is in our food are doing so with a tiny budget and a lot of science to back them up. The GMO lobbyists and the pro GMO movement have billions of dollars backing them. Not a fair fight but one worth fighting in my opinion.   Many lobbyists spend all their time online defending GMO’s and attacking critics of GMO’s. 

There is a group of scientists who have published online, for free, a document said to be in terms the average person could understand but I have to be honest, there is still a lot of science that is quite complicated, at least for me.  The 300 plus page document is called GMO Myths and Truths and had over 120,000 downloads a few weeks after it was published. Much of what you will read in this post comes from that document. It is fully referenced with real, peer reviewed science. Some of what is in there comes from other documents that are not peer reviewed science. Just because some info is not in peer reviewed journals doesn’t make it false information.  For example, studies on pesticides within that industry are not for public viewing. There is no way for you to know that pesticides used today are safe for you. You have to rely on the regulating body who decides that they are or are not safe.  

For those believing that the no to GMO information is one sided because it doesn’t show the other side I would caution you to take a deeper look in to the studies being done. According to GMO Myths and Truths, “The world of GMO studies is not what it seems at first glance. For example, a list of several hundred studies that were claimed to show GMO safety turned out to show nothing of the sort on closer examination. It is padded with articles irrelevant to GMO safety and contains many papers that provide evidence for harm.”

What exactly is a GMO or Genetically Modified Organism?

As defined by the World Health Organization, “organisms in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally”. What that means is the genes or genetic material of an organism are altered in a lab where new DNA is inserted or some of the existing DNA is changed. This, in turn, re programs the cells so they make a new protein or change the way the existing protein works. This makes new traits in the genes that would not naturally be there. Some of the changes made are transferring genes from related or unrelated organisms, changing the information in a gene, moving, deleting or multiplying genes, combining parts of existing genes or making new ones. Genetically modified genes change the characteristics of an organism. 

Every living thing has DNA in every one of its cells. It is what our genes are made of. They are the instructions that keep all living things working properly. DNA stores all kinds of information that gives you the type of nose you have, makes you how tall you are and decides what color eyes you have and many more things. Each gene is laid out a certain way like code on a computer. Some genes produce RNA (ribonucleic acid) copies of themselves rather than put a code on a protein. RNA is needed for many cellular processes and can control how much of a protein is made from a certain kind of gene. The science behind how DNA works and why it works the way it does is not fully understood. The way the genes are set up in your DNA are set up that way for a reason. Your body has an amazing innate intelligence and just does so many things on a biological and physiological level and they all happen for a reason. Messing around with the way those genes are organized can disturb many gene systems and how they function having consequences further down the line that we don’t even know about yet. Also, because we are all bio individuals, there is no way to predict how manipulation of genes will affect you vs. how it will affect me. 

The process of genetically engineering an organism is not an exact science. All genes interact with one another and their environment. It can change a whole genome or the way the genes function in ways they didn’t expect. This can result in toxins or allergens or a changed nutritional value and there can be changes in how the environment responds (super weeds anyone?). 

GMO’s are not an extension of natural plant breeding. In one breath the GMO industry is claiming that their processes are completely different from natural plant breeding so they can get a patent on their seeds. It is telling us, the public that there is not much difference from natural breeding which makes them safe for consumption.

Here is the problem with this.

Natural breeding can only take place between organisms that are closely related (humans and humans, cats and cats, dogs and dogs, corn with corn but not corn with fish). Genetic modification is made to make a transfer of genes between unrelated organisms. They have even created synthetic DNA and inserted it into a living organisms DNA.  The first generation of Roundup Ready GMO’s contain two species of soil bacteria, a flower and a plant virus. This would not happen in nature.  The fact is that they can transfer genes between species but also between kingdoms. This means they can take genetic material from animals or humans and put them into plants. 

The GM genes are either shot into the DNA of an organism with what is called a gene gun. If they are lucky the DNA in the gene gun gets to the DNA of the organism they are shooting it in to. The process is so random and out of the control of the scientists. They can also be inserted as an infection of cultured cells. There is no way to control where the GM genes will be inserted though. The process in inefficient and costly. 

What does this mean for you?

Maybe you don’t care, maybe you do. I venture to guess that you have some inclination to care about this subject if you have continued reading. 

This is an example of selective breeding in corn. The far left photo is what corn looked like when it was first discovered and what we know as corn today on the far right. 

This is an example of selective breeding in corn. The far left photo is what corn looked like when it was first discovered and what we know as corn today on the far right. 

Know there is a difference between selective breeding and genetically modifying something. Selective breeding is often done in animals to get the more desirable qualities to show up in the next generation. Corn, wheat and rice have been bred over hundreds of years to be bigger and better.  Genetically modifying something changes the DNA as described above. It wasn't or isn't always the best idea to use selective breeding but the difference is that when something doesn't work out during selective breeding, the breeder is made aware right away. You cannot selectively breed traits of a cat in to a dog. Mother nature will not allow it. 

In 1998 Michael Pollan did a piece for New York Times Magazine where Philip Angell, Monsanto’s director of corporate communications stated that “Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA’s job.”

Are GMO’s tested for safety?

They were first introduced on the list of foods Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS). According to the authors of GMO Myths and Truths, no GMO’s have even met the criteria that can define a food as GRAS. To be considered GRAS there must be an overwhelming expert agreement that it is safe and the agreement needs to be based on scientific evidence created through scientific procedure. GMO’s don’t meet these requirements yet they are on the list of GRAS foods. 

In the U.S. GMO’s are regulated by the industry that created them. Safety testing is done by the companies who profit from their sale. The lobbyists have gone from stating GMO’s are strictly regulated to saying they are safe so they don’t need to be regulated. There is no long term experimentation or study that has ever been done. The experiment is done on you, the public. This experiment started in the early 1990’s when they were first introduced commercially despite many FDA scientists claiming they should be tested and proven safe before being introduced. The administration in the FDA at the time admitted they were following an agenda to encourage the growth of the biotech industry. They ignored the scientists working for them and put GMO's out in to the market with no testing or labeling. The regulation of GMO’s is relied upon by information provided by the developers. Their data is not published in journals or peer reviewed. Basically we are just taking their word for it that GMO’s are safe. 

There is also quite a conflict of interest when it comes to the FDA. There is a man named Michael Taylor who was appointed to the FDA as deputy commissioner of policy. Prior to that he was an attorney for a law firm that represented Monsanto. In 1998 he was given the job of Monsanto’s vice president for public policy and in 2010 he was deputy commissioner for foods at the FDA. He is often given as the example of the kinds of conflict of interest that run rampant through government agencies and big business. I wonder if he is able to keep a non biased opinion about GMO's. 

There is no process within the FDA to determine the safety of GMO’s. None of the GM crops have been determined safe except by the companies developing them. 

GM crops have shown to be of a different composition to a non GM crop even when grown with the same conditions, at the same time and in the same location. GM soy had 27% higher levels of an allergen called trypsin inhibitor (an enzyme that helps your body break down proteins) than the non-GM soy. Canola engineered to have vitamin A as part of its makeup had a reduced level of vitamin E compared to non GMO canola. GM rice had a different structure and texture along with a huge change in nutritional value compared to non GMO rice. A specific GM corn grown was altered so much so that researchers concluded it could cause toxicity to humans and animals. In a study on rats it was found to cause toxicity to the organs. 

Independent research on the safety of GM foods is a process that renders scientists persecuted, losing careers and/or funding for their work. True independent studies would be done by non industry funded scientists. It is difficult for those scientists to get the seeds needed to perform their study and when they have, they have found problems with the GM foods. The seeds are patented which makes it difficult for a truly independent researcher to do a study. If permission is given to do the research the GM company involved usually has to be given the right to block the study from being published. They are being studied at some universities, but not for food safety and there are private agreements between the companies and the universities that only they have access to. So you don’t know what was agreed to be studied and approval of the universities doing the studying is done by the companies granting them permission. The results of their research are given right back to the GM developer.   Many of these university researchers stated it would not be good for their career to show any research that negatively reflects the GM crops. 

The Senate is set to vote on whether or not you have the right to know what is in your food. Go ahead and contact your senator if you feel so inclined. 

Some of the best ways to keep most GMO’s out of your diet is to eat real whole foods and preferable organic. Support local growers and farmers when you can. Even if they take away our right to know you can keep much of it out of your diet this way.  The problem with GMO’s is we don’t know for sure how they will affect us as a population in the long term.

How do you feel about GMO's? Please tell me in the comments below. 

 

Five Benefits of Eating Locally for Your Body and the Earth

Eating locally is not a new concept but has gained popularity in the last five years or so. We used to eat locally- it is just how we used to do things. We ate at home, around the table, with our family. We ate what we grew in our garden and on our land. 

Today eating local and sustainable is becoming a movement of sorts.

  1. Eating from locally grown food sources often means food has more flavor and is more nutrient dense. Along with nutrients, flavor peaks at harvest. When food is ripened in the field it has more flavor and better texture. It also doesn’t have to be treated with preservatives to keep it from spoiling. Nutrient loss begins the moment food is harvested. Broccoli begins to lose its cancer fighting properties within 24 hours of being picked. Much of foods medicinal properties were lost when we stopped eating locally. When your produce is picked at peak ripeness vs. being picked early and shipped across the country, you benefit from getting your food sooner. 
  2. Eating locally means eating seasonally too. Doing this adds variety to your diet because you eat what is available.  Processed foods make up 70% of the average Americans Diet. The world has over 50,000 edible plants and 3 of those (corn, rice and wheat) make up 60% of the worlds consumption. Building a meal around foods just harvested connects us to the calendar and to each other We are reminded of simple things like fresh watermelon at the end of summer or slicing a fresh juicy tomato. 
  3. When you buy from local farmers you are supporting the local economy. Large scale farms only receive $.20 for every $1.00 you spend. Local farmers receive 100% of the value of their product which they can reinvest in the local economy.  It is often cheaper for you to purchase from your local farmer especially when you consider you are getting a more nutrient dense product. 
  4. You support a cleaner environment. By keeping farms in your community you support green space in the community. Commercial or factory farms use harsh chemicals that damage the microbiome of the soil and depletes nutrients that would otherwise go into your food.  For example, almost everyone is deficient in magnesium because most of the soil is deficient in it as well. Local farms often practice sustainability and care for the land they use so it remains healthy.  They often use little to no chemicals on their crops, they compost, have a smaller carbon footprint and use little to no packaging.  Scientific studies have proven the nutrient density of produce to be higher when grown on land using sustainable practices. Industrial or factory farming pollutes the air, our surface groundwater and the communities in which they reside. Factory farms also degrade the quality of the soil. Today, because of the way we farm the topsoil is only about 8 inches deep when it used to be around 18 inches deep. For every bushel of corn harvested we lose two bushels of topsoil.  Confined farm animals generate more than 450 million tons of waste per year which is 3 times the amount that humans generate. The anti-biotics given to factory farmed animals (factory farms are the number one consumer of anti biotics) enter the environment through the ground water and through the meat of the animals as well. The manure from the factory farms causes high levels of phosphorus and nitrogen to go in to the water supply, hurting aquatic life. 
  5. You promote a safer food supply. The average commute for produce in the grocery store is 1500 miles before it reaches your plate. Buying fresh from the store often means it is harvested before it is at its nutritional peak (meaning before it is ready). The more steps between you and your food source, the greater chance of some kind of contamination happening.  Buying from a local farmer means you get to know who is growing your food. You can ask them questions about their practices as well. Usually they are happy to talk with you. 

Local does not always equal sustainability. There is no regulation in using the term local. Dont’ be afraid to ask about the farms production practices. Most family farmers will gladly tell you what they do. Check out this website or this website for more information on eating locally.  We ate at a restaurant tonight that sources all of their food locally when possible. I had a strawberry salad with greens grown in the restaurants back yard and locally grown strawberries. What a treat! Tell me in the comments below what are your favorite locally grown foods?

In Health, 

Stephanie

 

What do GERD or Reflux Have to do With Not Making Enough Stomach Acid?

In my last post I talked about how people with thyroid problems have trouble extracting nutrients from their food.  Do you ever feel full when you wake up in the morning? Do you have GERD or reflux?  

Often times GERD and reflux are blamed for your body making too much stomach acid. The truth is that it is probably happening because you aren’t making enough. Same goes if you still feel full in the morning. It may be because you have not fully digested your dinner from the night before. 

There is no denying that stomach acid is the culprit in GERD and reflux (even heartburn) because even the smallest amount of stomach acid in the wrong place will cause damage.  You may even find relief from products that neutralize or stop production of stomach acid altogether. The problem probably isn’t stomach acid but the valve at the opening of the stomach (and at the end of the esophagus). The job of this valve is to allow food to enter the stomach and to open when you need to burp or vomit. That is it.  Often the problem with GERD and reflux can be that this valve is not working properly. 

If you are taking a drug to suppress or neutralize your stomach acid, you are then creating a cascade effect of issues all through your digestive system. Acid reducers are really just a band aid to the problem and don’t get at the root cause. Acid is in the stomach because it is supposed to be there. Your stomach is set up to be a great acid making machine. 

There are many reasons for your body to not make enough stomach acid. It is quite common in people with thyroid problems especially hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s.  When you are deficient in stomach acid (Hydrochloric Acid or HCl) you simply don’t have the proper chemicals to break down your proteins in to amino acids or to break down your vitamins and minerals so they can be used throughout the body. 

If you don't have enough stomach acid to digest a meal you have eaten then your next meal will force that partially digested meal in to the upper part of your small intestines where the acidity of it is supposed to trigger pancreatic enzymes to be released to further the digestive process. This doesn’t happen because you didn’t have enough stomach acid which means you have undigested particles of food going through your intestines with the possibility of those particles being released in to the blood stream where your immune system will produce antibodies and launch an attack. This is when autoimmunity occurs. 

When you don’t have enough stomach acid, not only are you not extracting the nutrients from your food which include amino acids from proteins, minerals and vitamins like B12 and folate but you are causing inflammation in the gut. B12 is important for nerve activity and how well your brain functions.  

Having the right amount of stomach acid is one of the first lines of defense your body has against pathogens, bacteria and fungus. If those things, along with your food are not digested or broken down properly you can end up with and overgrowth of bacteria which causes inflammation. Those undigested proteins also cause inflammation in the gut increasing your body’s stress response. 

Not having enough stomach acid to digest what goes in can lead to a whole host of problems including but not limited to allergies, depression, skin issues, gallstones, certain autoimmune diseases, osteoporosis and aging more quickly.  It is possible if you have reflux that it is due to a food intolerance such as non celiac gluten sensitivity or even dairy- it is bio individual. You will have to do some experimenting to figure out what foods could be causing it. 

How do you know if you are making enough stomach acid?

If you have any of the conditions mentioned you most probably don’t make enough. One way to know is to take some Betaine HCl with a meal containing protein. You take a few bites of your meal, chew really well and then take a Betaine HCl. Take another bite or two of food and then take another Betaine HCl. You continue to do that until you feel a burning sensation. Once you feel the burning you know you have taken one too many so your dose would be less one. For example. If you feel the burn at 4 Betaine HCl then your dose for a meal would be three. 

If you need more than six Betaine I would take caution. You may want to keep your dose to no more than three or four and work on the following: 

  1. Sit down to eat your meal. 
  2. Take time to be grateful for your meal and anything else you wish.
  3. Chew each bite thoroughly (20-30 times). 
  4. Put your fork down between bites
  5. Drink water with lemon or a pinch of salt with your meal and don’t drink more than 4 ounces with your meal.
  6. Take digestive bitters about 15-20 minutes before your meal. Urban Moonshine is a good brand. 

Most of all, enjoy your food. It is there to provide you nourishment!

In Health, 

Stephanie

 

 

Five things you need to know when you have Hypothyroidism

Having hypothryoidism can lead to nutrient deficiencies.  When you are hypothyroid, your metabolism is slowed down. Your digestion is slowed down and so is nutrient extraction and absorption. This means your body can't get what it needs from the food you are eating. Having a hypothryroid can be frustrating but it doesn't have to take over your life. Below are some very important things to know about living with a hypothyroid and what you can do to live optimally, whatever that is for you. 

1. That cold weather (or even a breeze) that makes you feel really cold is due to less thyroid hormone getting where it needs to. This also means hormones can’t be processed properly and other things are affected, like how well a cut heals.

2. You probably don’t make enough stomach acid to digest your food properly which means you are not getting the nutrients needed to thrive. Don’t have much energy? Maybe you are not digesting your meals. This leads to a whole host of issues including intestinal permeability or leaky gut. Lack of stomach acid (HCl) also means proteins are not being digested along with iron, zinc and B12. One symptom of low stomach acid is HEARTBURN. Don’t feel like eating when you get up in the morning? Could be you have not digested your evening meal yet. 

3. You probably have stressed Adrenals. Adrenal fatigue is when your adrenals, located just above your kidneys, work overtime most of the time and end up leaving you dizzy when you stand up quickly, with lower than normal blood pressure or require the use of sunglasses when you go outside. They are just plain worn out. 

4. Your liver might not be working properly. If your liver can't do all the things it is supposed to, you may not be making enough bile or adequate bile to digest fats. Fats like the essential fatty acids in fish oils are important for managing inflammation in the body. 

5. You are more likely to have Celiac Disease than the average person and most assuredly, if not Celiac Disease, you are probably gluten intolerant. You are more likely to be unable to tolerate dairy products, eggs and soy as well. 

Here is what you can do about it.

1. Make sure you have found a doctor or naturopath who will test you for not only TSH but Free T4, Free T3, Reverse T3, TPO Antibodies and Thryoglobulin Antibodies. It is not only important that they test you for those but that they know how to interpret the results. 

2. Get food intolerance testing or use and elimination diet to figure out what foods are negatively affecting you. The best way to find out what foods are not working for you (causing inflammation) is to do an elimination diet.  If you have signed up for my newsletter you will be set with 4 weeks of meals and recipes to get you off to a good start in lowering inflammation and figuring out which foods are your kryptonite. 

3. Have your Vitamin D levels checked and monitored. 

4. Support your adrenals with things like a pinch of sea salt in your water, adrenal adaptogens (you really should be in the care of practitioner before taking any supplementation), and managing your blood sugar (like cutting out sugar completely for a time period to give your body systems a break). Another great way to support your adrenals is to manage your stress. 

5. Be checked for infections with a stool test or be tested to see if you have developed antibodies to any virus or parasite. 

6. Do a simple test with Hydrochloric Acid to see how much stomach acid you need to take with each meal. OR you can take digestive bitters, apple cider vinegar or lemon juice before meals (although you might need more than that to get you started). 

7. You could be lacking in certain nutrients that are needed for your thyroid to function properly. According to Izabella Wentz, The thyroid pharmacist, it is very common for people to be deficient in Selenium, iron, vitamins A & E, B vitamins and a few others. You may require supplementation but again I would work with a practitioner before supplementing yourself. 

8. Have your Ferritin levels checked. You need ferritin to transport T3 to the cells. If you are losing your hair even with stable thyroid levels, it could be that you are low in ferritin. 

9. Take a high quality probiotic and eat fermented foods every day. If you have ever been on antibiotics you probably have an imbalance of bacteria in your gut and taking probiotics can help. Eating fermented foods is a much cheaper and fun way to get your probiotics in. Things like sauerkraut and homemade yogurt are great sources of fermented foods. 

It is very important, as I stated before that you don’t put yourself on a supplementation program but that you consult a health practitioner first. When you take the Nutritional Assessment Questionnaire through me we will be able to determine just where your body needs the most support.  The information provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. I do not diagnose or treat disease but help you find balance so your body can find balance too. Sometimes it is about meeting you where you are at. Baby steps.

Feel free to contact me with any questions. Also, be sure to sign up for my newsletter. I just sent another Breakfast Hash recipe only for my subscribers. 

In Health, 

Stephanie

 

Breakfast Hash Recipe

This whole cooking from scratch thing gets to be really old, really fast when you have to cook three meals a day for seven days a week in order to maintain your health (especially if you have an autoimmune disease).  I also have restrictions to my diet. No gluten. No dairy. No eggs. No grains. I will never be able to have gluten again and I should probably never eat dairy again as well. Dairy can be cross reactive with gluten meaning your body can’t tell the difference between the protein in dairy and gluten proteins. When you have thyroid problems, that can be a big deal. 

In an effort to ensure I eat enough and stay full until lunch, I make hash a lot. It is super easy when you have leftover veggies. It is easy even if you don’t. Hash can be made from anything. Any vegetables and any starch and any meats you have in the fridge. 

Today mine was made of purple sweet potatoes, fennel, onion, broccoli and parsley with a little bit of ham leftover from a dinner a few nights ago. I made a skillet full so I could have it for a snack later if there was any left over. Truthfully, I could have eaten the whole thing and probably should have but I had a meeting to go to so I didn’t have time. 

Fennel, Ham, Parsley, Broccoli, Onion, Purple Sweet Potato

Fennel, Ham, Parsley, Broccoli, Onion, Purple Sweet Potato

 

So here is the recipe for this specific hash. If you have not signed up for my newsletter yet you can get a good hash recipe in my 4 week gut healing program for free when you sign up. 

 

1 small onion, chopped

1 small stalk broccoli, chopped

1/2 a med bulb of fennel, chopped

1-1 1/2 purple sweet potato, cut in to half moons (also called Japanese purple sweet potato)

small handful of parsley, chopped

1 T lard, coconut oil or butter

 

 

Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add fat of choice. Let melt in pan and then add sweet potato and fennel.

After the fat is hot in the skillet add the potatoes and fennel. 

After the fat is hot in the skillet add the potatoes and fennel. 

Season with salt and pepper if desired. Stir and cover. Reduce heat to med low. Let cook covered for about 10 minutes. This will soften the potatoes and fennel quicker. 

Cover the potatoes so they can soften quicker or cook through quicker. 

Cover the potatoes so they can soften quicker or cook through quicker. 


Remove lid and add broccoli and onions and increase heat to medium. Stir frequently and add more fat if you need to. 

 Once the onions and broccoli are almost done add the leftover ham and parsley and stir until heated through. 

I added the parsley after I took this photo. 

I added the parsley after I took this photo. 

Like I said earlier this is enough for one hungry person. 

When making hash you can think outside the box and use anything you have. I try to make extra veggies for dinner so I have lots left over to use in my hash. It helps to have them already cooked because it speeds up the process. You can use cauliflower, brussels sprouts, asparagus- anything. 

If you like eggs you can add an egg at the end so it just cooks in the hash and makes almost like a sauce for the whole thing. 

What do you like to eat for breakfast?

In Health, 

Stephanie