Digestive Bitters • Urban Moonshine (and a giveaway!)

 
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Years ago, at the recommendation of my TCM (Traditional Chinese medicine) practitioner, I began using digestive bitters as a means to ease the digestive discomfort experienced during periods of prolonged travel. Bitters were especially paramount to my well-being during a summer-long trip to Southest Asia, and another spent backpacking through Costa Rica. Still to this day, I won't even leave the house without them. And recently, after a nudge from my very knowledgable herbalist friends at Urban Moonshine, I've now begun implementing bitters into my day-to-day regime. With wild success. My skin is clearer, my energy elevated, and I very, very rarely experience any stomach discomfort.

WHAT ARE BITTERS?

Bitters are the plant extracts of aromatic herbs, barks, roots, and fruit that, upon ingestion, stimulate the digestive system and the release of critical digestive enzymes and stomach acids. They are, as the name implies, bitter to the taste. 

WHY TAKE BITTERS?

For much of human history, our diets were heavy in bitter foods - bitter greens, herbs, roots, and barks. Yet today, we've almost entirely stripped our diets of bitter-tasting foods in exchange for more pleasantly-flavored fare: the sweet, salty, and processed. This makes supplementing with digestive bitters all the more important, as this shift away from bitter foods has created a massive rise in digestive issues. 

Bitters excite, engage, and awaken the digestive system, preparing it for the hard work of breaking down a meal. The vast majority of us suffer from sluggish, imbalanced digestion and experience bloating, gas, nausea, heartburn, indigestion, constipation, fatigue, etc. after a meal more often that we probably even realize. It's become such a commonplace symptom in our culture. Digestive bitters, taken before and after a meal, stimulate the digestive system so as to minimize (and in my experience, completely eliminate) any discomfort. Food is more easily broken down, and nutrients are better assimilated.

I have long been in the habit of taking bitters while traveling, when out to eat, or if experiencing any digestive upset. (I swear by them for anything stomach related - hangovers, food poisoning, the flu, whatever.) But as of late, I've been adding a splash of bitters to my usual warmed water with lemon each morning, and then taking a dose before each meal. In this way, I'm continuing to strengthen my digestive system, increase my natural digestive enzyme production, and elevate my overall health.

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BENEFITS

Aside from the obvious digestive benefits, bitters are incredibly nourishing for the body as a whole.

  • Support liver function and detoxification
  • Enhance the clarity, glow, and health of skin
  • Balance blood sugar levels
  • Ease morning sickness
  • Curb cravings and balance appetite
  • Support balanced cholesterol levels
  • Elevate immunity 

HOW TO USE

Bitters are best taken before meals, and can be used up to six times per day. About ¼ teaspoon is all you need. I usually add this to a bit of water to dilute because, you know, they taste kind of bitter, but feel free to simple drop them on your tongue.

MY FAVORITES

Though the most bitter tasting, Urban Moonshine's Original Bitters are my favorite for every day use, as they are the most potent. I turn to the Chamomile Bitters when I feel nauseous, as these are specifically designed for those moments, along with morning sickness. The Liver Bitters are best when I feel I need a little extra detoxification support, especially in way of my skin. The travel spray doesn't leave my purse. And for those just easing into bitters, I love the Citrus Bitters and Maple Bitters for their sweeter, more mild taste (also more child appropriate!).


GIVEAWAY (!)

Needless to say, I am so thrilled to be able to gift one of you a medley of my favorite Urban Moonshine bitters! To enter the giveaway, simply head to my Instagram and, after you make sure you're following me, 'like' my post, and tag a wellness-loving friend or three . The winner will be announced this Friday, 9/22. 

Also! Would love to hear from you - do any of you use digestive bitters as well? Let me know by leaving a comment below. xx

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Connect with Urban Moonshine on their Instagram, and shop their collection of herbals goods here.

 

Overnight Oats: 3 Ways

 
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I devour the opportunity to get fancy and creative in the kitchen, and love nothing more than to host gatherings and spoil my loved ones with over-the-top food. But, make no mistake, my day-to-day meals are not always picture perfect. They are, however, always nourishing and satisfying. 

And while I so enjoy dreaming up novel flavor combinations and pushing the limits of what works together in a dish, it's important to me to stay true to my roots here of sharing simple, good, and good-for-you food. To stay connected to what has always been my intention with this space: sharing what is sustaining me (food and otherwise) in the hopes that it will inspire you to live and eat more consciously, as well. 

So today, I'm sharing the simple, real-life, no-fuss recipe I lean on most mornings: overnight oats. To me, nothing is better than the relief of knowing breakfast is ready and waiting for me in the fridge. One less thing to stress about at 7 am. I make a large batch of oats on a Sunday night, divide them into airtight single-serving jars (these are my absolute favorite), and pop everything in the refrigerator. It's as simple as that. 

Many times I do opt to keep it fancy-free with just the oats, chia seeds, plant milk, and maybe some fresh fruit thrown on top. But, when time is on my side, there are a few variations I gravitate towards for an additional boost in nutrients and flavor. I've shared those recipes below, as well. I've dubbed these renditions lazy-fancy, because they are just that. Impressive, but still simple. Just like food should be. 


NO-FUSS OVERNIGHT OATS

½ cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon chia seeds
¾ cup unsweetened plant milk

PREPARATION | Add all ingredients to a jar, stirring until well combined. Seal, place in the refrigerator, and allow to set overnight. If kept refrigerated, your oats will stay fresh for about five days.

CHOCOLATE COCONUT + ALMOND BUTTER OATS

½ cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon chia seeds
¾ cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 tbsp raw cacao powder
½ tablespoon raw honey
1 tablespoon almond butter
pinch of himalayan salt
optional: cacao nibs, coconut flakes

PREPARATION | Add all ingredients to a jar, stirring until well combined. Seal, place in the refrigerator, and allow to set overnight. Option to garnish with cacao nibs, coconut flakes, and an additional drizzle of almond butter.

LAVENDER ROSE OATS

½ cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon chia seeds
¾ cup unsweetened plant milk
Sage + Stone's herbal mind tea
1 teaspoon raw honey
optional: dried rose petals, lavender buds

PREPARATION | In a small saucepan, bring your milk to an almost-boil. Add in a tea bag, turn off heat, cover and allow to infuse for at least 20 minutes. 

Add all other ingredients to a jar, top with infused milk, and stir together until well combined. Seal, place in the refrigerator, and allow to set overnight. Option to garnish with dried roses, lavender buds, and an additional drizzle of honey. 

VANILLA BERRY COMPOTE OATS 

½ cup rolled oats
1 tablespoon chia seeds
¾ cup unsweetened plant milk
1 cup berries, fresh or frozen
1 tablespoon raw honey
dash of vanilla extract

PREPARATION | In a small saucepan, add berries, 2 teaspoons honey, and a splash of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and 2 teaspoons of chia seeds, and allow to sit for at least 20 minutes. This compote can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge. 

Add all other ingredients to a jar and stir together until well combined. Mix in a few spoonfuls of compote. Seal, place in the refrigerator, and allow to set overnight. 


I love seeing what you create and getting your feedback on recipes! Leave any questions + comments below, and be sure to follow along on Instagram and tag your photos with #SOLFULhealth so I can see. xx

 

Anxiety Tool Box: A Holistic Guide

 
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If you've been reading this journal for a bit, you know I struggle with anxiety. As do most of the people I know and meet. You probably do as well. It's a pervasive - dare I say, unavoidable? - condition in our fast-paced, stimulus-overload society. Especially for us highly sensitive empaths. After a debilitating series of panic attacks a few years ago, I began exploring the holistic measures, adjustments, and products that I could incorporate into my life for greater emotional support and resiliency. There's a fair bit of trial and error involved, as with anything, to discover what works for your individual needs, but it's with so much joy that I share these explorations and tools that have helped me restore balance to my mind + body, and live a really full, happy life.

In a very large way, this ongoing exploration is how Solful Health came to be. I feel very strongly about illuminating and normalizing the conversation around mental health, and even the work I do with nutrition and yoga clients is geared towards elevating + supporting this realm of wellbeing. As you peruse this handful of my favorite, tried-and-true holistic tools for overcoming anxiety and bolstering mental health, it's my hope that some of these discoveries resonate with you as well. None of them are quick-fixes, and each requires a bit of work and commitment on your part, but I have found every last one to be incredibly effective, fast-acting, and with long-lasting effects. Even if you aren't navigating anxiety, these tips and tools will benefit your health and moods immensely. 


EARTHING | 'Earthing' or 'grounding' involves placing the soles of one's bare feet on the earth as a way to offset stress, reduce free-radical accumulation, and cancel-out a surplus of inflammation- and anxiety-causing positive ions within the body. The simple act of physically connecting with nature is on it's own incredibly grounding, on an emotional and energetic level, helping to soften and dissolve the frenetic, neurotic energy we feel during bouts of stress and anxiety. But beyond that, when our feet (the most absorbent parts of the body) make prolonged contact with the Earth, the strong negative charge of the Earth quite literally grounds the positive ions of the body. Research research has found 'earthing' to regulate the endocrine and nervous systems, reduce mood and emotional imbalance, reduce body-wide inflammation, relieve chronic pain, promote more restful sleep, protect against the effects of stress, normalize cortisol levels, improve memory, and promote cardiovascular health. I do my best to ground my feet in the grass or sand for 20 minutes daily, and always feel the difference when I do. 

BODY CONNECTION | I say this often to my yoga students: the emotional and psychological suffering we regularly experience is usually nothing more than the result of a disconnection from the body. We live almost entirely in our heads, lacking a mindfulness of what's going on within our physical and energetic bodies, and as a result have little connection to or awareness of our body and it's messages and signals. Take my situation for example: my body must have been signaling to me for years that things were imbalanced, but it wasn't until I had my first full-on panic attack that I finally listened. Yet, had I cultivated a bit of awareness beforehand, I would have realized that something was very wrong, and avoided a very miserable, debilitating few months. I now make space several times each day to stop what I'm doing and consciously move my awareness from the mind back into the body. I just get quiet, and listen. Our bodies possess a wisdom far beyond that of the conscious mind, but it's communication system is far more subtle. Meditation and simple, grounding breathwork are always a sure way to tap into this state. Usually with one hand on my heart, the other on my belly. Yoga and more rigorous exercise, if practiced mindfully, are also powerful tools here as well. The process as a whole is incredibly simple, free, and easy to implement, but is without a doubt one of the most profound practices for creating both short- and long-term emotional shifts.

REDUCE ANXIETY-PRODUCING FOODS | Sugar, caffeine, alcohol, refined carbohydrates, and processed foods are powerful anxiety-producers. When I feel myself slipping into anxiety, I cut these foods out entirely. In way of caffeine, I substitute my usual green or black tea with a blend of energizing adaptogenic herbs and mushrooms (cordyceps, maca, rhodiola, schisandra) and brain-boosting fats (coconut butter, coconut MCT oil, homemade nut/seed milk) for an elevating but mood-supporting tonic. And in regard to the rest of my diet, I get back to basics: lots of greens, high-fiber fruits and veg, pastured animal protein, and high-quality fat sources. Blood sugar stabilization plays an incredibly large role in how we feel on an emotional level, so ensuring you eat regularly, limit your sugar intake, and increase your consumption of fiber, fat, and protein is a must for balance in this realm. 

BREATH | This past year, I've shared a bit about my exploration of breathwork and how transformative I've found it to be. I have a fabulous breathwork guide based in LA, who regularly hosts online workshops (which come highly recommended) and virtual sessions, and I'm constantly referring friends and clients to her work. My experience has been so profound that I have actually begun weaving large amounts of breathwork into the yoga classes, workshops, and sessions that I offer. In way of using this tool to reduce anxiety, it goes back to creating that grounded connection with your body. Breathwork immediately gets you out of your head and back into your body, while working on a physiological level to activate the calm-inducing parasympathetic nervous system. My go-to breathwork techniques for emotional support (that are each impossibly easy, quick, and effective) include: alternate nostril breathing, humming bee breath, and one minute breath. I simply set a timer on my phone (anywhere from two to ten minutes) and get at it.

HERBAL INTAKE | I rely heavily on herbs for optimal mental and physical health. In regards to emotional support and anxiety-reduction, there are a number of standouts that work incredibly effectively by nourishing the nervous and endocrine systems, thereby regulating our physiological reaction to life stressors and stimuli. An overstimulated, undernourished nervous system results in greater emotional sensitivity and reactivity, so by strengthening this system we increase our threshold for stress- and anxiety-provoking stimuli. The endocrine system controls the release of our hormones, which of course play a dramatic role in how we feel on virtually every level. A few of my favorite adaptogenic herbs and supplements, specific to anxiety, include: ashwagandha, wild milky oats, reishi mushroom, he shou wu, mucuna pruriensCBD oil (which I elaborate upon here), and this divine anxiety-reducing concoction. I also drink infusions of nettle leaf, tulsi, and red raspberry leaf throughout the day. 

FLOWER REMEDIES | I recently began implementing flower remedies into my daily routine after being introduced to Alexis Smart and her line of Dr. Bach-inspired flower remedies via my breathwork guide Lauren. Flower remedies, or flower essences, are herbal infusions made from the flowering part of wild plants, and are used to address the emotional and mental realms of one's health. With a number of remedies designed to target anxiety and panic, these botanical medicines, taken under the instruction of Alexis, have become a beloved part of my emotional support regime. More on this to come soon, but I've been enjoying these too much not to include here. 

SLEEP | I truly believe there is nothing that a few solid nights of sleep can't fix. This is our body and brain's time to process through the day's happenings, heal and support areas of concern, and bring balance back to our systems. It's imperative that we make a serious commitment to rest. I personally aim to get nine hours of sleep each night, because that's what helps me to feel my best. For those of you who struggle with achieving restful sleep, this is my very favorite all-natural sleep aid, taken alongside a spoonful of coconut butter

 

Golden Energy Bites • GOLDE Turmeric

 
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A naturally sweet, satisfying, and nourishing go-to snack that I've up-leveled with a hit of GOLDE's highly-coveted turmeric wellness blend. Which, aside from being deeply nutritious + mineralizing, is the most delicious turmeric blend I've ever tried thanks to the unexpected (but much appreciated) addition of coconut milk powder. Swoon. For a long time, I was simply using pure turmeric and a pinch of black pepper (for improved nutrient absorption) in most of my golden concoctions - milks, lattes, smoothies, oatmeal, etc.

But as of late, I can't get enough of this particular blend, which lends not only improved convenience, but also elevated health benefits, housing a medley of five different medicinal spices + herbs. It pairs to perfection with these coconut-y paleo energy bites, that have long been a staple on-the-go snack option in my home. 

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A recap of turmeric's most notable heath benefits, for those that need a refresher.

IMMUNITY BOOSTING | Turmeric contains a powerful anti-inflammatory compound, in addition to anti-viral, anti-fungal, and antioxidant qualities. This allows for an incredibly nourished and supported immune system. It's believed that inflammation is the root cause of all illness and disease (both physical and mental), so by addressing and reducing inflammation, you lessen and eliminate the prevalence of imbalance within the body and mind. 

MOOD SUPPORT | Turmeric is a potent mood-booster that I regularly turn to for emotional and mental health support. Numerous studies have proven curcumin (the main active compound of the turmeric root) to be just as effective - and infinitely less harmful - as pharmaceutical antidepressants in treating depression and similar mood disorders. There's a known link between inflammation of the brain and depression, which can be treated and reversed through an anti-inflammatory diet that includes foods such as turmeric. Low levels of the hormone Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) have also been linked to a variety of brain, cognitive, and mood disorders, including depression. BDNF is responsible for the multiplication and growth of brain neurons, which is a key process for maintaining and improving brain function, and curcumin has been found to increase levels of this hormone.

NATURAL GLOW | Turmeric works to decrease inflammation and redness on the skin's surface, while also speeding up the healing process and improving blood flow to areas of concern. The consumption of anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial foods like turmeric is key to maintaining a calm, clear, and glowy complexion. 

ADAPTOGEN | Lesser known among turmeric's benefits are it's adaptogenic properties. To be considered adaptogenic, an herb must have a normalizing and homeostasis-evoking effect on the body in the face of stress - physical and psychological. Turmeric has been found to regulate cortisol-release and stabilize blood glucose levels, which help to maintain the health of body + mind during times of increased stress. 

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GOLDEN TURMERIC ENERGY BITES

2-3 tablespoons GOLDE turmeric blend
½ cup raw cashews
½ cup raw almonds
2 tablespoons chia or hemp seeds
5 large pitted medjool dates
¼ cup unrefined coconut oil
¼ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of himalayan salt
 

PREPARATION | Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until well-combined. Mixture should form a "dough".

Remove mixture from blender and, using your hands, roll segments of the dough into small balls, placing on a flat surface. 

Allow the energy bites to chill covered in the refrigerator for at least two hours. If kept refrigerated, these will keep for up to three or four weeks. 

Makes 12 bites.


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GOLDE TURMERIC

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Thank you for supporting the conscious brands, like GOLDE, that support the work of Solful Health.


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I love seeing what you create and getting your feedback on recipes! Leave any questions + comments below, and be sure to follow along on Instagram and tag your photos with #SOLFULhealth so I can see. xx