Warm weather has arrived in Southern California and although I often reserve this-my most FAVORITE potato salad recipe-for summer months, it's going to be my contribution to family dinner this Easter Sunday. This is one of my favorite recipes period, actually. I should probably be charging you for it, but I can't put a price on Grandma's recipe! My Grandma always put dill in her potato salad, which is what made it so special. To me, her cooking meant playful weekends, stick-to-your-ribs, 1950's style lovin'. I enjoy making my own pickles for this salad once cucumbers are growing in the garden, but this weekend will used good 'ole jarred pickles. My point: the recipe is simple! I hope your family will enjoy it as much as mine does.
Gramma’s Potato Salad
Serves 10-12 (I like to make a big portion for parties/family gatherings, but it’s real simple to divide for less servings)
12 medium organic potatoes (any variety will work, but I like yukon gold or red for a smoother texture), peeled and boiled
6 cage free hard boiled eggs, peeled
1 c homemade or store-bought, diced dill pickles
¾-1 c organic mayonnaise
½-1 t salt
½ t cracked black pepper
¼ c chopped, fresh dill
Start with chilled potatoes and eggs. Chop potatoes into bite-sized pieces (small enough for mayo to evenly coat) and eggs into smaller pieces. In large bowl, combine potatoes, eggs, and mayo. Stir to combine, allowing mayo to pull egg yolks into a creamy dressing. Fold in the remaining ingredients. Start with just ¾ c of the mayo and ½ t of the salt, adding to taste, as necessary. Serve cold and keep leftovers refrigerated.
Even when living the healthiest life possible, aches and pains can be an annoying and sometimes deeply frustrating part of life. When you feel like you're already doing everything in your power to keep whatever pain you deal with under control, but it keeps coming up again and again...that can be, well, painful. Painful emotionally, as well as physically. I wanted to write up a comprehensive list of natural ways to manage pain so that if you're in a painful place, be it dealing with chronic headaches, backaches, arthritis pain, or muscle soreness from an autoimmune disorder, you can be spurred on to see if you really have done everything in your power to manage it yourself. Following are my main tips:
Low Sugar Diet
Sugar is such a highly inflammatory food and, as I shared in the Sugar Detox post a few weeks ago, the body sees more than just white, table sugar as harmful. Eliminating as much sugar in your diet as possible for a time can help to reduce the inflammation so often associated with chronic pain.
Magnesium, Potassium, and Calcium
These are the nutrients our muscles need, as I was so generously reminded by my chiropractor last month when I inquired about a particular spot in my back that wouldn't seem to loosen up no matter what I did. Potassium is pretty easy to work into your diet (yay, bananas!), but it can be tricky to consume enough calcium and magnesium. Those dark, leafy greens will be your friends here, but you can also try soaking in some epsom salts wherever you're hurting so that your skin can directly absorb the magnesium sulfate. Additionally, I've been taking a calcium, magnesium, and zinc supplement to support both muscle and immune health.
This one seems like a no-brainer, but the fact of the matter is: the human body just wasn't designed to be sitting in a chair and it will hurt if this is what it does all day! If you're a self-professed exercise hater like me, give yourself credit for all the lifestyle movement you do and seek to incorporate even more! What does this look like? Sit on the floor and stretch out when relaxing, instead of always on the couch. Make phone calls while walking around the neighborhood. Read standing up! And of course, make time for those more intentional times of movement throughout the week (fine, we can call it a work out if we have to).
These are worth a try if you've never used them for pain management. Today, in fact, I'm using a blend of peppermint oil (diluted in coconut oil), plus lots of hydration, to manage a headache and lo-and-behold...I think it's gone! I rubbed the diluted peppermint oil on my temples and eyebrows and started feeling relief within an hour (again, with the help of lots of water). I also use a blend for womens' monthly cycle on a regular basis that is very helpful for managing cramps.
Ice and Heat
I learned this trick from another chiropractor: if you are battling a serious headache and have 30-40 minutes to devote to a nap, grab an ice pack and a warm compress of some sort. Begin your first 15-20 minutes of napping with the ice on your forehead and the heat on the back of your neck. Set a soft timer that will wake you up just enough to swap the ice and heat for your last 15-20 minutes. This trick gets the blood flowing and I've found it really effective as a last-ditch effort if I really want to try to avoid medication.
I could really go on all day...you probably picked up on my winks and nods toward a few other helps: chiropractic adjustment, rest, hydration, massage...learning to take all the steps that are within your reach for managing pain is both empowering and educational. By doing this, you will become more in tune with your body and be able to act upon the idea of "listening" to it.
One more thing I must mention on the subject is my sympathy to those of you for which each of these tricks just isn't enough. While natural remedies are my favorite ways to treat illness and pain, I also recognize the distinct need we have as a society for medication and as a doctor once told me--it can teach your body how it's supposed to be acting until you're healthy enough to do it on your own. Peace and healing to you, friends!
How were your bowel movements this week? Sorry. Too personal? Well, staying regular is a super important factor when thinking about wholistic health. While some body types stay most regular on simply a high fruits and vegetables diet (which we all should be consuming anyway), some require a little extra fiber. Enter Fruitmeal. I love eating "Fruitmeal" for breakfast especially when I need to get things "moving", if you know what I mean, and early Spring is the perfect season for this particular fruit blend-we're at the tail end of apple season and the early end of berry season. Enjoy this breakfast that is packed full of fiber, pairing it with a fried egg, topping it with a dollop of organic yogurt, or serving it next to a small side of breakfast meat (i.e. organic bacon!) to get in your protein, too.
Serves 4 (easily quartered and cooked in the microwave for a single-sized portion)
1 c old fashioned rolled oats
2 c water
¼ c organic raisins
¼ c ground flax seed
1 organic apple, cored and diced into bite-sized pieces
½ c organic blueberries
1 t vanilla
¼ c organic milk or non-dairy substitute
Measure out oats, water, raisins, and flax seed in small pot. Bring to a boil and reduce heat, cooking for 3-5 minutes, until oatmeal forms a soft-thick texture. Turn off heat and add apple pieces, blueberries, vanilla, and milk. Stir to combine with hot oatmeal mixture and serve warm, storing any leftovers in the refrigerator.
There are a whole slew of detoxes out there, but I wouldn't survive for 6 hours on any detox that doesn't let me chew my food. This isn't to say I'm 100% against detoxes, though! Sometimes when we've had limited control over our food choices (for instance, after saying as a guest at someone's house or traveling extensively), our bodies begin to crave those unhealthy carbs that we know are slowly making us feel inflamed, irritable, and heavy. Here's why I developed my one week sugar detox:
-This plan allows you to eat real (tasty) food.
-Taking on a week-long project like this will kickstart regaining control over sugar cravings.
-You can do anything for a week!
How do you know if a sugar detox is a good idea for you? Well, if you're experiencing one of the symptoms I just mentioned above, that might be a good indicator. If you are in a place where you can't get through the day without dessert, that's another indicator. Sugar is very addictive and very harmful to your health...I won't even bother linking you to evidence. All you have to do it Google it. Sorry to be harsh.
Now, the idea is to eventually take on a diet low in added sugar, meaning that once you get through this detox, you'll be able to add back in fruit, honey, maple syrup, and other unrefined forms for sugar. But for one whole week, my recommendation is to stay very low carb (as carbohydrates turn to glucose--sugar). You'll feel for a time like you're giving up more that just sugar, but after the week is through, everything BUT the refined sugar can be added back in (slowly is best)! Honestly, after your sugar detox, a piece of fruit will taste insanely like candy and you'll be in a much stronger place to resist refined sugar for good. Often, it feels more hopeful to focus on the foods you can eat during a project like this one, but to simplify the guidelines, I'll lay out the "no"s first. Stay away from:
-Sugar, in obvious forms (dessert)
-All grains and starchy vegetables
So...what can I eat? Plenty! Remember: you can do anything for a week. When I sugar detoxed, I made a point of splurging on fancy nuts, cured meats, and delicious teas so that when I was really craving chocolate or cheese, I'd have something new to distract me. That reminds me of an important point--the sugar detox week requires careful preparation (meal planning and grocery shopping) and cooking from home. Don't take this project on during a week when you can't prepare your own food; you'll feel miserable. Here's a sample menu for a day on sugar detox:
One egg and sugar free (read those labels) breakfast sausages with a side of sliced cucumber and tomato
Coffee with coconut cream (in moderation)
Cashew bread (look for a recipe that's mainly cashews and eggs), topped with vanilla-infused coconut oil
Paleo Cobb salad (romaine, organic cherry tomatoes, organic bacon pieces, a cage free hard boiled egg, scallions, and a dressing of pureed avocado, olive oil, lime juice, and salt)--pictured above
Organic celery sticks with all natural peanut butter
Sugar free almond meal biscuit (lots of recipes out there!)
See? Plenty of options! You'll want to watch out for a couple of things. For one, know how many eggs you can handle in a week. I personally can't eat them every day for digestive issues, so if you have high cholesterol or an egg sensitivity, you might want to eat stir fried veggies and a white meat sausage for breakfast instead. Also, the point of a detox is to rid your system of toxins...so you need to be drinking a ton of fluids during your sugar detox if you want to effectively cleanse your system of it. Lastly, listen to your body. If your stomach reacts negatively to all the fatty foods, stick to the basics: lean protein and vegetables. Lots of vegetables.
What do you think? Are you game to try this? I know my sugar cravings were much more manageable after I took this project on and...true confession, I only did it for 5 days. 7 days would be best, but even if you challenge yourself to a few sugar free days, your body will tell you one way or the other if it's working. Feel free to reach out if you're interested in this project or have questions about it! You CAN do it.