3 Things to Look for When Buying Yogurt to Make Sure it is Healthy for You!

When you are looking for yogurt, do you know what to look for to make sure you are buying something that really supports your health?  

There are so many yogurt choices in the grocery store now, isn’t there! It can get quite overwhelming when all you want to do is grab a yogurt for lunch or breakfast.

And yogurt is great right, even the commercials on TV and magazines are now shouting about the gut benefits you’ll receive when eating their yogurt.

Here are 3 things to check to make sure you are getting good yogurt!

1. It has got to say in the ingredients that there are LIVE ACTIVE CULTURES. That is the whole beneficial part to yogurt is the little live bacteria in there that will make your tummy more happy. It is this bacteria or culture, that ferments or changes the milk into yogurt.

If you can believe it, after the milk has turned to yogurt, some companies actually kill these guys off so their product can stay on the shelf longer!  So that is why you must confirm that there are live guys in that yogurt, and you simply do that by looking at the ingredients. 

2. We are eating yogurt to keep our gut healthy, right. So one ingredient that does no good to our tummies is sugar. It is the sugar that feeds the yeast – the little guys who don’t belong in your gut and create havoc on your body. Eating yogurt with lots of sugar is simply counter productive!!  

To reduce sugar, only get plain or if you just have to, vanilla flavored yogurt. Ditch all the strawberry, lemon, Oreo cookie additions that are contained on the bottom of the cup or that you sprinkle on top. All that is is added sugar, and with many of the yogurt choices aimed at kids, being simply unhealthy! 

In a minute, I will give you pointers on how to spruce up your plain yogurt into a tasty mix that you and your picky eater kids will love!!

3. Skip the low fat, no fat yogurt and go for the FULL FAT!  Good fat is good for you, and fat from milk is GOOD! It will make you feel fuller for longer and gives you good fats. If you are getting low fat or no fat, then that is going to be some very runny yogurt. It is the fat in the milk that gives yogurt that creamy texture. If you are getting the low or no fat yogurt you know there needs to be something added to give it that texture you enjoy. So go crazy and get the full fat or even cream on top yogurt!! It will be sweeter too, so you’ll need less sweetener!!

Someone asked me if Greek Yogurt was better. It has more protein simply because it is more ‘concentrated” than regular yogurt. In making Greek yogurt, all the extra water is removed so it will be more thick. So either one is good – just keep to points 1-3 and you’ll be good!

4. is Extra Credit!!  If you can spring for organic or organic grass fed milk – do it!! Grass fed milk has more omegas than corn fed cow milk. And… unless it is organic, you know that those cows were fed GMO corn that was sprayed with roundup. So, this is one product that I am ok with spending extra $$ on for good quality.

Now the big question of how to make a serving of plain yogurt exciting to you and your picky eater!!

Add good stuff to it that YOU like and is not loaded with preservatives, colors and corn syrup.

We love to add honey or maple syrup for our sweet if it is plain yogurt and add some yummies.

If it is vanilla yogurt then we’ll skip the addition of sweet and just go for yummies.

Here are some yummy ideas that are easy to have on hand:
Any frozen berry. Blue berries are perfect size. You might want to chop up strawberries or Cherries to bite size pieces.
Bananas
Granola
Uncooked oatmeal
Chia seeds (we call them bugs!)
Hemp seeds
Chocolate or Vanilla protein powder
Cinnamon

And if you want some serious extra credit – you can even make your own yogurt! That way getting organic grass fed yogurt is a whole lot less expensive!!  I showed you how to make your own yogurt in this post.

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To Non-Gluten or Gluten

A friend and I were talking Health Related Stuff – the topic of Non-gluten foods came up. I have some pretty strong feelings on the topic, I’ll share them here with you 🙂

It is easy to jump on the non-gluten band wagon because you feel like you are doing something healthy and good for your family, right! I bought my hubby a gluten free baking cook book for Christmas a few years ago and he delved right in!

What we noticed was what he was making tasted good, but we were hungry very quickly after eating it.

It left me wondering if this was really a good idea. Now, no one in my family has celiac disease, so do we really need to go non-gluten?? It is supposed to be healthier – but is it??

I went online and went shopping at Walmart and compared some boxed goods that were gluten and then their gluten free counterpart. This is what I found…

Prices were MUCH higher for non-gluten
There was less in a box for non-gluten
Sugars were not way higher (that surprised me, I was expecting high sugar in gluten free)
Ingredients in non-gluten had high processed wheat substitutes.
Xanthan gum is from Corn Sugar = GMO corn!

After doing some more research I decided to skip the gluten free and instead there are 3 things I do when it comes to grains and wheat. I’m going to share 2 today.

Instead of spending extra money on non-gluten products I’ll spend my money on organic wheat or other organic grains. Here is why….

I don’t think it is the gluten we are having trouble with!

Wheat and grains have been around for a long time and they have offered us, the human race, much nutrition and fiber. Just look back in history and you’ll find tons of references to bread!

The bread of life…. Give us this day our daily bread…

Ancient Egyptians had barley and emmer wheat which was made into bread, cake and beer.

Colonial times for breakfast they had bread, milk, and left over meat and veggies from dinner.

Grains and breads have been a staple for humans for a long time.

What has changed?? Gluten intolerance is on the rise. I found a stat in a celiac post (https://glutenintoleranceschool.com/gluten-intolerance-statistics/) that 3 million people in the US suffer from celiac disease, which is approximately 1 in 133 people. However, more recent numbers suggest the number may be closer to 1 in 100.

Just personally I can’t believe how many people have reported that they gave up gluten and they “feel so much better!”. 

Can wheat be that bad after being “the bread of life” for thousand of years?? What has changed?

I feel it is the commercial wheat that has changed – not us!

Plants change with time because it is a natural thing that mother nature does. You may have two types of tomatoes, but one pollinates the other and that tomato seed that is produced can be a mix of the two. Kinda like your kid… right a mix between two parents.

People have been using this hybridization tool for a long time to foster the aspects of the plant that they like the best.

What we are doing now with wheat is changing the DNA – it is called GMO. Genetically modified Organism. 

There are many alarming things to GMOs, but there are 2 things that may be affecting how we are able to digest this wheat.

The book “Ancient Einkorn” explains that during gene splicing, they are adding genes together – not just taking out parts and replacing genes. So you end up with a wheat that has more chromosomes than what it originally did. 

The wheat that is generally used for bread is called tritium aestivum and it has 42 chromosomes. Wheat used for pasta and low rising bread, tritium turgid as 28 chromosomes. Now compare that to the ancient einkorn wheat, Triticum monococcum that has 14 chromosomes!

The additional chromosomes create new proteins that we had not digested before. This is totally new to our bodies. Boom, essentially overnight we are asking our bodies to digest food that has been modified by adding chromosomes – something, that if it was going to happen naturally would certainly take hundreds, even thousands of years!!

That is why I have decided to skip the “non-gluten” health craze and instead get grains that are non GMO and organic.

Einkorn, Kamut and Spelt are our favorite.

Now I know there are quite a few ancient non GMO grains that have not been “messed with” by us humans. If you have one you like – please let me know!!

Another reason why my family still consume grains is because I think we need some gluten.

A study in Spain tested 30 people and replaced their diet with non-gluten foods. What they found was that this change reduced healthy bacteria (bifidocbacterium, B. Long and Lactobacillus) while the unhealthy bacteria increased.

Lactobacillus is an important probiotic, I want to increase it in my belly, not reduce it. People take Lactobacillus for IBS, inflammation of colon, constipation, prevent common cold and flu, yeast infections, ear infections, UTI.

So this lead the scientists who did the study and me to the conclusion that the “composition of the gut microbes is susceptible to the influence of the diet, and especially to the quality and quantity of ingested carbohydrates.”

What I understand is our bodies NEED some gluten to have a healthy gut. Gluten is a pre-biotic – it just has to be the original gluten not modified by man. (A prebiotic is food for our probiotics. Give our good bacteria the right foods for them to grow on and they flourish!)

The other reason I feel we are having issues with our commercial grains is because of the amount of chemicals the wheat is exposed to when growing.

Even the EPA says that “laboratory studies show that pesticides can cause health problems, such as birth defects, nerve damage, cancer and other effects that might occur over a long period of time.”

Each year more than 2 billion pounds of pesticides are applied to our food supply. That is about 10 pounds per person. How scary is that???

The most commonly used pesticide that is used on wheat fields is Round-Up or glycophosate. The GMO wheat is even “round up ready”, which means that it is created to be resistant to Round-Up. It can be sprayed and sprayed and sprayed and not be affected!

And that is just what happens. The wheat fields are sprayed to control weeds and they are even sprayed before harvesting because it makes it easier to harvest, it helps dry them out!

Lab tests have linked Round-Up to cancer, reduced production of hormones, miscarriages, and genetic mutations. Sure… the argument is that we get such a small amount in our foods, but what about the cumulative effects!

Hmmm, no thanks!. I don’t want any Round-Up in my belly!

Other studies are connecting Round-Up to poor gut health because the Round-up is killing off our good microbes in our tummies. Poor gut health has been linked to hundreds of autoimmune diseases, autism and ADHD, and more!!

So, YES my family eats gluten but I make sure when we purchase a wheat product it is organic. So that means NO Round-Up or pesticides.

And I go out of my way to find grains that are not typical and not hybridized or GMO yet so we can have grain that has not been changed or affected by man! (Goodness, why must we go and mess up a good thing??)

In another FB live I’ll share the 3rd thing we look for and do at home to our grain to make it easier for us to digest and get all the nutrients from the grain!

I have found that when shopping for healthy grains like this, don’t go to Amazon. The price is SO much higher! You can buy bulk grains at https://www.bobsredmill.com/shop.html. I’m in love with the spelt from https://onedegreeorganics.com/. You can’t purchase from their website, but you can locate a store near you that sells their products.

Thanks so much! I would love to hear your thoughts and comments. Let me know if this gave you something to think about when you are in the kitchen or supermarket!!

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Solutions for Winter Dry Skin

A question from one of our Healthy Moms from HealthyStepsforMoms was what lotion should she use for her dry skin during the winter.

I have an simple idea that has helped me a lot, but it wasn’t my idea – I got it from my friend who has the most beautiful skin.

This is the story. I was at a gathering and I asked my friend who has such soft, clear skin what kind of lotion she uses. I knew she made a lot of her own lotions and beauty creams, and I wanted her recipes.

She took me aside, and seemed a little embarrassed and said quietly, “Christina,I don’t use soap anymore.”
“What do you mean?” I replied a bit puzzled.
“I don’t use soap in the shower anymore.”
“Ok, that is great…. All I want to know what kind of lotion you use to keep your skin moisturized. Mine gets dry in the winter – what is your lotion recipe, I know you have a good one.”
“I don’t use lotion – I don’t need lotion – because I don’t use soap in the shower anymore.”
“What?” Now I was really confused. “What do you mean?”

So she explain to me the secrets of fat, which I’ll share with you!

Every cell in our body has a membrane that is made of special fat cells. These fat cells are very important in lots of ways.

Now, the reason why soap cleans is because it breaks down fat. Think of your dishes and how the liquid soap breaks down that fat on the plate.

When you are taking a shower and scrubbing up – you are breaking down your fat molecules on the out layer of your skin, leading to dryness.

That is the opposite of what you want, right!

What I did before I knew the Secret of Fat was to try another soap or another type of skin or hand lotion.

We are going to go about this differently! And you’ll find it works great, saves you time and money.

You’ll save time because you are not going to have to “loob up” after your shower or at bedtime and you’ll save $$ because you will not have to spend $ on different body lotions and hand lotions anymore.

We are going to do what my friend shared with me – remember she doesn’t use soap anymore! Instead of cleaning with soap – we are going to clean with fat.

I’m not suggesting we grab the fat from our hamburgers – I’m talking about using some of the basic ingredients you find in your lotions – fatty oils such as coconut or olive or grape seed oil or avocado.

You’ll be surprised how easy it is!!

  1. Get wet
  2. Oil up
  3. Rinse off
  4. Dry off
  5. Get on with your day

Your recipe will be determined by you – how oily or how much scrubby exfoliation you want and what aroma you want.

If you think I’m kinda crazy and you are not ready for this yet – try it just for your hands first. Keep this mix by the sink, and use this to wash your hands with instead of soap. See how your hands feel after a week. Then you might be open to trying it in the shower 🙂

Points to make:

  • This is great for a daily hop in the shower to get ready for the day.
  • If I’m in the garden and muddy – soap is nice. (I love black liquid soap.)
  • Use a spoon to take some of the scrub out.  That way it doesn’t get all watery.
  • Take care of your hair first! You don’t want to put your oily hands in your hair.
  • Adding a good quality Omega vitamins is also helpful in keeping your skin moisturized.  (This is my all time favorite Omega)
  • This is for generally dry skin. If you are dealing with more than that, remember skin health is directly related to gut health.
  • This is not meant for your face as the face has such delicate and different skin then our bodies.

Here is the basic recipe to make a small batch.

You can double and triple as needed. Also you should play and adjust to amounts to find texture that feels good for you.

2 tablespoons of fat (mix or use 1, coconut, avocado, safflower, grape seed)
1-3 tablespoons of salt (epsom, Himalayan, sea)
1-2 drops of Essential Oils
Lavender, geranium to support skin
Eucalyptus to support respiratory system
Thieves to use with hand scrub – protects and supports immune system.

I hope these Healthy Tips help you on your wellness journey too!

If you use a tip, I’d love to hear how it supported you. If you have any questions – please ask away!

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Getting Out of the Carb Trap

A question from one of our Healthy Moms was how to eat less carbs, because once she starts – she can’t stop! I totally understand what she means.

I’m going to share a little of what I’ve learned on how to get out of the carb trap. But first, lets explore what a carb is! Then lets determine what makes a carb a “good” carb or a “bad” carb.

When most people here the word “carbs or carbohydrates” they picture bread and pasta. But carbohydrates are also contained in fruit, veggies, legumes and grains.

Simply put, carbs are large molecules made out of smaller glucose or sugar molecules. That is why on the Nutrition Facts on our packaged foods you’ll see Sugar content under Carbohydrates.

Some carbs break down into sugar fast, and other carbs take a while to break down into sugar. It depends on how big the molecule is.

Another part of the carb story is fiber. The amount of fiber in a food determines how fast a carb breaks down into its sugar molecules and how fast we absorb the sugar. The more fiber, the slower it will break down and the slower we absorb it.

The Good and the Bad Carbs

The carbs we want to reduce or eliminate in our diet is the bad carbs or refined carbs. These carbs are from refined white flour and high fructose corn syrup. You’ll find those in chips, soft white bread, muffins, doughnuts and pasta.

These refined carbs break down into sugar super fast. What this does, is shoots up our blood sugar, which sets us on a sugar high. We might feel more energy, but it is only temporary energy and then we are set up for the inevitable blood sugar crash, where we feel sleepy and sluggish. This also sets us up for craving more carbs, and a wacky blood sugar is going to negatively affect our hormones.

So – eating refined carbs is not helpful for our bodies at all!

The good Carbs are those that come in the form of fruit, veggies, legumes or grains. These carbs, even though they also break down in sugar don’t break down super fast because the sugar molecule is bigger and because of the extra fiber.

The fiber found in foods is fantastic for us because not only does it slow down the absorption of sugar, but the fiber helps us to feel more full, it adds fiber to our colon to make things move like they should

When you are eating fruits, veggies, legumes and grains you also are getting the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and all the other good stuff contained in the fruit or veggie.

So why is it SO hard sometimes to make those good choices and go for the healthy apple vs the bag of chips???

I’m not a doctor – but here are my thoughts and experiences on why it is hard to choose the good stuff…

I read that sugar is even more addictive than cocaine! So not only is the high carb food turning into sugar after we eat it, we also add sugar to recipe and then we may add sugar on top of it!! Yikes! We are turning into sugar addicts.

The high intake of sugar makes our blood sugar spike, which leads to that dip, which leads to more cravings. We unknowing put ourselves on a blood sugar roller coaster.

Chips have been created to make us want MORE! Who has not found themselves digging into a bag of chips for just a handful and then you find you can’t stop eating them. Companies that produce these chips have done a TON of study on us and chips and what we like to eat. They have researched how crispy a chip should be so that we get a great crunch without it being too crunchy or too soft. It is called “mouth feel”.

The other reason why we crave and over indulge with those refined carbs is because the yeast in our bodies thrive on it! And if we have yeast overgrowth in our bodies – which over 80% of the population does – then those cravings we are having are not us having those cravings – it is the yeast!!! And I can attest to that 100%! When you reduce the yeast – you reduce your cravings!!!

So between the chip companies being very successful at making chips that we can not eat just one…. the blood sugar roller coaster….. the sugar addiction and the cravings from yeast overgrowth – it creates a stituation where it is very hard to get out of the carb trap.

Now that you know what causes the carb trap – I hope it helps you understand how you can start to get out of it.

Here are some tips:

  • Don’t even go near a bag of chips or sweets when you are hungry. Instead grab an apple, pear, carrot or celery. You’ll get that crunch, it will help stop you from getting the blood sugar spike, and will fill you up until your real nutritious meal is ready for you.When you have chips or something sweet – always pair it with a good fat or lots of fiber.
  • Chips – only have them with salsa or hummus or guacamole
  • Sweets – have them only after a hearty meal with protein to slow down the absorption of sugar. It will be easier to have just one portion because you’ll be full.
  • Bread – pair them with good fats or protein to slow down the absorption of sugar. Think of the Italians, dipping bread in olive oil or put real butter on your bread or enjoy it with cheese.
    Also have WHOLE GRAIN bread, not soft white bread. Whole great takes more time to break down because of the extra fiber.
  • Pasta – be a good Italian and cook your pasta al dente, which is on the harder side. Your body has more work to do to break down that pasta then when it is cooked soft. Have it with protein and fat, meat balls and cheese!

My daughter loves goldfish crackers and cereal too. I follow the same rules with my daughter that I follow.

When it comes to your kids, look at what snacks you are giving them.  I’m always surprised when I see kids at school eating candy bars or fruit chews as their snack, those things are nothing but sugar!

Goldfish and crackers snacks are treats she enjoys, but she eats the carrots or fennel first and then she can have a handful of goldfish.

My girl loves cereal too, but she either needs to add a hearty protein to the cereal or have a protein first. If I make a protein smoothie for breakfast that is what she adds to her cereal instead of almond milk. She also might use plain yogurt instead of almond milk and then add some fruit and a little honey or maple syrup. Sometime she will choose to have a protein before a bowl of cereal.  So then she will have an egg or avocado first and then she can have her cereal (which of course is low sugar and dye free!).

I went over what carbs are, what makes a carb a good guy or a bad guy and how they affect our bodies. I also shared a few tips on how I control my carb intake for myself and my little one.

I hope these Healthy Tips help you on your wellness journey too!

If you use a tip, I’d love to hear how it supported you. If you have any questions – please ask away!

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Would you like to join our Tribe of Healthy Moms who are taking steps on their health and wellness journey?  We’d love for you to be a part of this fun and supportive private facebook group! 

Retirement is Not Just About Money!

We spend a good part of our lives working toward retirement. You don’t want to get there with the money to retire but not the your health. Now is the time to get your health in order. This video really drives this home. Following videos will provide additional information to improve your health and wellness.

 

 

Relax Tight Neck Muscles While Traveling

Welcome! I’m Brian Hagan with HealthySteps. Our vision is to provide you with the support, education, and techniques to support your steps on your unique health journey.

Lots of people are going to be hitting the road tomorrow, the start of Memorial Day Weekend!

Here are a few quick tips to help you relax those neck muscles while you are traveling.

It is always a good idea to do these stretches while at a red light or stuck in traffic 🙂

4 Tips for Summer Ready Skin

Summer is right around the corner!   We’ll be showing more of our skin than we did in the sweater weather winter months!

Here are 4 simple tips to get your skin summer ready!  Do these 4 tips for one month, and you’ll have smooth, baby soft skin ready for shorts and t-shirts!!

Links that I mentioned:

  1. The pictures of the lady who drank 3 liters of water a day for 28 day – what a transformation!!
  2. A video on how to Dry or Skin Brush and downloadable chart.

No More Yeast Infections!

Ladies, if you can believe it – we were not meant to have yeast infections!

Just because you are a female does not automatically mean that you need to be dealing with the uncomfortable itching, the creams, the doctor visit that go along with these infections.

Really!

Start here to do a bit of research to learn how your gut health is creating these annoying infections and what you can do to get rid of them!!

How to Make Yogurt at Home

Why would you want to make yogurt at home – you can easily pick some up at the grocery store!
I like to make it at home because it is SO easy, saves me money, reduces my family’s sugar intake and supports their gut health.  We get good fats by using grass fed milk and we eliminate stuff like stabilizers, thickeners, etc which is used to increase shelf life. 

We get to eat just pure, good for you yogurt!

So, making your own yogurt is an easy way to cook for your family and know you are giving them GOOD food to support their health.

If you want to make it sweeter, you can add honey or maple syrup and some fruit!  Oh so yummy… it only take 12 hours… 🙂

What do Your Sugar Cravings Mean?

Sugar cravings can be caused by wacky hormones and by candida overgrowth.  I was surprised to learn about how many indicators there are for candida overgrowth (besides digging in your kitchen cabinets for something sweet to eat four times in twenty minutes like I was…).

Not surprisingly, yeast infections was a sign that you may have candida overgrowth, but so was itchy ears, toe nail fungus and athletes foot.

Some other surprising indicators were severe seasonal allergies, eczema, rheumatoid arthritis and more!

In this 5 minute video, learn what other health issues may be related to candida overgrowth and what can cause candida overgrowth.

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