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3 Wellness Tips to Keep You Healthy This Fall

The weather is cooling down, and many of us are ready to dive into fall. And while the season is beautiful, all the holidays can cause some stress. From figuring out kids’ Halloween costumes and cleaning for Thanksgiving to buying Christmas gifts, you may be feeling your blood pressure going up.


Practicing fall wellness can be a great way to care for yourself and your family this holiday season. Read on to discover some of our top fall wellness tips so you can enjoy all the beauty of this amazing season.

1. Wash Your Hands

While fall is one of the most beautiful seasons of the year, it’s also the time when germs run rampant. Everything from the flu to the common cold to COVID-19 ramps up this time of year. One of the best way to keep your family well this fall season is to make sure to wash your hands thoroughly and often.

Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least twenty seconds. You can sing “Happy Birthday” twice in a row or the opening lines of “All-Star” by Smash Mouth to time this out. Don’t forget to scrub on the back of your hands and in between your fingers.

2. Get Fresh Air

There are few things more glorious than the weather during the fall. The air is crisp, the leaves are glorious, and every hour feels like golden hour. One of the best fun fall activities is to go spend some time in the glory that nature has to offer during this season.

Spending time in the sun can help to improve your vitamin D levels, alleviate depression, and boost your anxiety. And walking for half an hour five days a week can help you to lose weight if that’s your goal and help you stay healthy. Take advantage of the gorgeous weather this fall and go for a walk a few times a week.

3. Cook Nutritious Meals

Fall is also one of the best times of the year for fresh produce. During the early fall, you can still catch the ends of tomatoes, summer squash, and peppers. And once the weather starts cooling down, you get the winter squash, root vegetables, greens, and, of course, apples, pumpkins, and other fall fruits.

Take advantage of that gorgeous fresh produce to make nutritious meals for yourself and your family. Squash bisques, risottos, casseroles, and stews are fantastic options, and you can make excellent veggie side dishes for meaty mains. And, of course, baked apples and poached pears always make stunning additions to your fall diet plan.

Focus on Fall Wellness

Focusing on personal wellness can help you feel your best and give you the resources you need to have a great fall. Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly and often, and spend plenty of time enjoying the gorgeous weather. Take advantage of the wonderful produce this time of year to cook delicious meals for yourself and your family.

If you’d like to learn how to focus on fall wellness, check out the rest of our site at Windy City Organics. We even offer decadent treats like raw chocolate bars that will help you stay satisfied while sticking with a healthy lifestyle. We even have all the raw cacao ingredients that you need to create your own chocolate magic right at home, from cacao nibs, powder, butter, paste, and more. Shop our brands today and discover the organic goodness you need to make your fall better than ever.

Seasonal Allergies Got You Down? Why Gut Health is Key!

Spring Allergies and Gut Health
Photo by Jessica Lewis from Pexels
It’s that time of year when the seasons are changing and spring is in the air...literally! There are things like pollen, grass, trees, and weeds that all contribute to seasonal allergies. Seasonal allergies are a common struggle for many. I, too, can relate because I also used to experience the frustrating effects of pollen! But now, I no longer have seasonal allergies AT ALL! You may be wondering, “how is this possible?”
 
I’ll start by saying that the elimination of my allergy symptoms did not come from taking a pill or any sort of medication. In fact, when I had bad allergies, I used to take Zyrtec D daily, yet I would still experience allergy symptoms! It was when I stopped taking the pills and started making lifestyle changes, like my diet, that I noticed the change. As a holistic nutritionist, I believe in taking a holistic approach to health and getting to the root of the problem versus just focusing on symptoms. I believe that allergies are simply a symptom of the body being out of balance.
 
Our immune system plays a key role in fighting off these allergy symptoms. About 70% of our immune system is housed in the gut, so if our gut is out of balance, so is our immune system, thus causing these symptoms from seasonal allergies. A lack of diversity in the gut microbiome is also associated with allergies. Incorporating pre and probiotic foods in your diet, along with taking probiotics, can help with this.
 
If you suffer from seasonal allergies, I recommend eating a plant-focused diet. Plant foods will provide loads of nutrients to your body and will help tremendously with allergies. By eating more plants, you are helping support your immune function by creating a healthy environment that helps regulate your inflammatory response. This will help naturally fight off allergy symptoms. Below are some foods and supplements I suggest incorporating into your diet regularly to help boost your immune system. These will help reduce and can even eliminate those nasty seasonal allergy symptoms!
 
● Omega 3 rich foods: wild salmon, chia seeds, flax, hemp seeds, walnuts
● Antioxidant-rich foods: raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries (try to pick organic berries as conventional berries tend to contain an unhealthy dose of pesticides)
● Vitamin D: Getting outside in the sun is great, but since most of us typically don’t get enough Vitamin D, incorporating a D3 supplement is also beneficial.
● Nutritional yeast: It’s been shown to boost the immune system and contains numerous nutrients like fiber, B vitamins, protein, zinc and more. It typically comes in flakes, granules, or powder-like form and can be added to anything. Pasta is my favorite food to add it to, but I also add it to eggs, salads, etc., really anything I want a cheesy flavor on. You can find this at most health food stores or online/Amazon.

● Local Honey/Bee Pollen: Eating local honey or bee pollen can help prevent allergies, this is because you are ingesting the local pollen so it helps your body acclimate to the environment, and over time you become less sensitive to the pollen.
● Spirulina: It is a blue-green algae that naturally detoxifies the body, supports immune function, and acts as a histamine blocker. You can add spirulina to your smoothies and can buy it at most health food stores or online/Amazon.
● Probiotics: These help to balance the gut microbiome with good bacteria. Daily stressors, both environmental and internal, as well as the use and abuse of antibiotics, disrupt the balance of bacteria in the digestive system. Check out SunBiotics probiotic supplements and probiotic almonds here. I suggest the cheesy almonds because they contain nutritional yeast too!

Remember spring IS in the air, so don’t let those pesky allergies get in your way! Take charge of your health and get on with celebrating this season of warmer weather and new growth!

About the Author

Jenna Johnson

Jenna Johnson is a Certified Holistic Nutritionist and founder and creator of The Scrounge, a lifestyle brand that began with her love of food and ‘making more with less’ in her home kitchen. Through working with clients 1-on-1, social media content, virtual cooking classes, workshops, and events, Jenna is shifting people’s mindset of healthy cooking to an approachable style called “Scrounging” – using the food you already have at home to create a meal. Jenna is passionate about taking the complication out of cooking and eating healthy. She believes food is medicine and that nutrition and home cooking shouldn’t be stressful, but rather a fun and positive experience. Jenna’s “scrounging” style of cooking has expanded from kitchens of friends, family, and colleagues to hundreds of people around the world. She encourages everyone to get creative with what they have at home and not to be afraid of not having all of the ingredients listed in a recipe. Jenna’s passion for healthy cooking and helping others led her to pursue a career in nutrition. Now, as a Certified Holistic Nutritionist specializing in gut health, she focuses on helping women eliminate chronic stomach issues without medication. Jenna’s own experience with gut issues led her to help others with these same struggles. Jenna’s goal is to help others get their life back and live life to the fullest without the stress and anxiety of stomach pain.

Minimize Waste! The 7 Waste-Reducing Tips You Need to Try

7 Waste Reducing Tips You Need to Try

Photo by Benjamin Brunner on Unsplash

From reusable water bottles to bringing your own grocery bags, some zero waste tips are common practice. Those of you that have been making an effort to minimize waste for a while may be craving more creative solutions. In that case, these fresh waste-reducing tips are for you. New to minimizing waste? Don’t worry. These tips can work for everyone!

Plant Decor

The next time you are looking for décor to spruce up your home or for a low waste gift idea, go green with a plant. Plants reduce stress and purify the air, all while helping you minimize your waste output since they won’t go to the landfill like most decor eventually does. If you find you and your plant really aren’t vibing, they can be planted outside (climate zone dependent), regifted, sold, or composted as a last resort.

Say No

Sometimes saving the environment is as simple as saying “No, thank you.” And one easy way to do this is to skip the promotional items the next time they are offered to you. These items tend to get very little use, break easily, and inevitably end up in the landfill. If you already have a drawer overflowing with these types of items, see if you can find a place to donate them. Many community art programs are more than happy to receive extra pens, notepads, highlighters, erasers, etc.—even if they have some branding on them.

Homemade Snacks

When the mid-day munchies hit, you may find yourself reaching for a snack. However, many of these quick snacks come with more than an energy boost—they also have unnecessary wrapping. Luckily, you can easily avoid the wrappers by making your own snacks. As a bonus, homemade snacks like granola bars and cookies tend to be healthier than their store-bought counterparts. Try shopping for ingredients in bulk with your own refillable containers to reduce as much waste as possible. Buy things like nut butters in glass jars and reuse the jars for storing personal care items or office supplies. Have a snack recipe that calls for fruit? Check out the produce that is marked down because it is close to spoiling. You won’t have to wait for the fruit to ripen and you’ll save some money, all while helping to reduce food waste.

Food Scraps

Composting is an excellent way to reduce the waste you produce, but you may want to try reusing those food scraps before you reach for the compost bin. Reusing food scraps helps you get the most out of food before tossing it and can also be a great way to get kids interested in reducing waste. You may want to try orange peels dipped in dark chocolate. They pair great with apple tea brewed from boiling apple peels and cores. Want to do something with scraps beyond snacks? Use a banana peel to polish plant leaves or soak a few peels in water for a couple of days to make natural plant fertilizer.

Rentals

If you find yourself needing a tool for a project or that pregnancy has you outgrowing your clothes, it doesn’t necessarily mean you need a shopping trip. Instead, you may want to try renting these items. For example, many home hardware stores offer tool rentals by the day or hour, so you can skip the wasteful packaging and avoid buying something you will minimally use. Then there are several online clothing rental places that offer maternity clothes so you don’t have to buy a temporary wardrobe. Once the baby is born, you may want to continue the renting trend by subscribing to a toy lending library instead of buying new.

Speak Up

Sometimes you can minimize waste by making a simple request, so don’t be afraid to speak up. This may mean asking the cashier if a receipt needs to be printed, requesting a shipped order to have minimal packaging material, telling the waiter you don’t need a straw with your drink, etc. If you see that your favorite restaurant has a specific wasteful habit (ex. using plastic stir sticks), you may want to write an email offering a less wasteful solution (compostable wooden stir sticks). Just be sure to keep your tone friendly. Remember, the worst they can say is that they can’t make that change. On the other hand, your email may push them toward a less wasteful solution.

Party Supplies

An eco-friendly party can still be fun and memorable—perhaps even more so! The next time a birthday or wedding rolls around, skip any wasteful decor like balloons and streamers and take a less wasteful approach. This could look like making a centerpiece by decorating an existing plant you own with lights or foraging for greenery to put in a vase. Planning a meal? Skip the plastic cups and plates and go with real dishware. If you don’t have enough, see if you can borrow some from friends or rent some from a party supply store. Another option is to grab dishware and utensils at a secondhand store and re-donate them when the event is over.

Conclusion

Sometimes the best waste-reducing solutions are a bit offbeat, so don’t be afraid to think outside of the box when looking to minimalize your impact. Reducing waste is a slow process, and we need every little bit of creativity to push us toward a less wasteful future.

Author Bio

Shannon Bergstrom is a LEED Green Associate, TRUE waste advisor. She currently works at RTS, a tech-driven waste and recycling management company, as a sustainability operations manager. Shannon consults with clients across industries on sustainable waste practices and writes for Zero Waste.

7 Ways to Uplevel Your Smoothies (and Reduce the Sugar!)

 

7 Ways to Uplevel Your Smoothies (and Reduce the Sugar!)

Smoothies can be an easy and delicious way to pack in a serious amount of nutrition without having to give it too much thought. Not only that, but they're portable and easy to drink on the move, and also make nutritious meal replacements for days you may be particularly short on time. That being said, there is an art to making smoothies that are both pleasing to the taste buds and also have a balanced nutrition profile. For instance, a smoothie that contains just frozen fruit, bananas, and milk might have some vitamins, but it is high in sugar and low in healthy fats, protein, and trace minerals - it isn't very nourishing and may leave you hungry shortly afterward. On the other hand, a smoothie packed full of green superfoods, nut butter, and nutrient-rich, lower sugar alternatives will have a completely different effect on your overall energy levels and daily nutrient intake. 

Here are some top ways you can seriously level-up your smoothies!

Swap out the 'nanas

Bananas may be a smoothie shop staple, lending both creaminess and sweetness, but it turns out they're not required to make a smoothie thick and delicious. Both steamed sweet potato and avocado can be used as lower sugar alternatives - they'll thicken up the texture just like bananas and their relatively neutral flavor profile means they can be used in many different recipes. Try freezing them first, especially if your other smoothie ingredients are fresh (not frozen). Just make sure the sweet potato is steamed (or baked) and peeled first before freezing for the best and creamiest results.

Go nuts!

Nut butter shouldn't be confined to just sandwiches and toast - they're absolutely amazing in smoothies too. Not only do they make the texture and flavor more creamy and rich, but they're also chock full of healthy fats and protein, which means your blood sugar will be more stable after drinking your smoothie, even if you add higher sugar fruits like banana. Almond butter and coconut butter are always classic, fool-proof picks, or try pistachio butter or hemp seed butter for a more exotic pick. 

Check out all 17 Dastony stone-ground nut and seeds butters HERE

Superfood power

One of the easiest ways to amp up the nutritional value of your smoothies is to toss in some superfood powders. Try a high-quality green powder like Vitamineral Green or Pure Synergy - these options give you a huge bang for your buck because they contain many different superfoods in 1 product. They're also highly concentrated, so just a few tsp is enough to give you a serious nutritional boost. You could also blend in medicinal mushrooms, adaptogens, matcha powder, maca root, a superfood berry blend, or anything else of your choosing. The goal is to sneak in even more trace nutrients and antioxidants without having to fuss too much over it. 

Sneak in the greens 

While it may be challenging to sit down and get through a huge bowl of dark leafy greens, that same quantity of greens can be blended right into a smoothie and drank with ease. If you find yourself slacking in the greens department, this is one of the easiest ways to ensure you're getting plenty of green leafy goodness. The result is a flood of vitamins and trace minerals, extra fiber, and tons of antioxidants to fuel your day. Baby spinach is a great, mild-tasting green to start with, or try raw kale - just be sure it's de-stemmed first as the stems are very fibrous and will result in a funky texture.

Pump up the protein 

Long gone are the days when adding a vegan protein powder to your smoothie meant sacrificing both taste and texture (we're talking to you chalky-tasting and indigestible soy protein ...). Now there are plenty of amazing plant-based options that are organic, additive-free, easy to digest, and are also soy-free, and allergen friendly. If you're searching for a new protein option, Sprout Living makes a variety of plant proteins enhanced with functional superfoods - and they taste like real food, don't contain any added sugars, and the texture is silky-smooth. 

Just a pinch of salt 

Quite possibly the number one tip for making flavors pop - adding a pinch of salt. This step might not come intuitively if you're blending something sweet, but adding just a pinch of high-quality Himalayan salt will bring forward the flavors of your smoothie, as well as infuse your recipe with valuable trace minerals. Just don't go overboard - a small pinch will do. 

A touch of vanilla

Another flavor-enhancing tip, especially for those looking to cut down on sugar, is to use just a touch of vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste. This is a great hack to trick your taste buds into thinking they're getting something sweet and dessert-like even if the overall sugar content in your smoothie is quite low. For instance, if you're using frozen berries, some sugar-free almond milk, and sweet potato or frozen avocado instead of banana - adding a little vanilla will go a long way to make it more taste-bud-friendly!

7 Superfood Upgrades to Pack Your Meals with Flavor and Nutrition

7 Superfood Upgrades to Pack Your Meals with Flavor and Nutrition

When it comes to creating flavorful, delicious meals that are also bursting with nutrition, it’s all about making easy upgrades without any sacrifice. It turns out you can embrace simple, clean eating without having to settle for bland food that leaves you feeling unsatisfied. By incorporating these different ultra-healthy add-ons you can both enhance the flavor of your dishes while simultaneously upgrading their nutritional value and health benefits. These ingredients also happen to help support the body in a myriad of different ways - they can help boost alkalinity, decrease inflammation, increase energy levels, support healthy digestion, and aid in detoxification.

1. Fermented Foods

The gut is more than just the core of our body, it is also the core of our immune system. One of the main ways we can build up a strong immune system is by incorporating fermented and probiotic-rich foods into our daily diet. Things like cultured coconut yogurt, sauerkraut and kimchi, tempeh, natto, miso, and raw apple cider vinegar are all foods that can be incorporated right into your recipes and meals to add a boost of healthy flora. You can also try blending an organic probiotic powder like Sunbiotics into things like smoothies or protein shakes for extra beneficial bacteria for your gut. Your digestion and immune system will thank you.

2. Fresh Sprouts

An easy way to boost your overall vitamin, mineral, and phytonutrient intake is to eat sprouts on a regular basis. They are bursting with life energy! These can be alfalfa, broccoli, sunflower, lentil, or any other sprouts of your choice. You can find them at the health food store, or learn to grow them easily right at home. They’re a rich source of enzymes to help support more complete digestion, and they also contain plenty of potent plant nutrients and compounds that help protect our cells and ward off disease. They’re also a great source of easily digestible plant protein! Toss them on salads, soups, add them to sandwiches, or just munch on a handful as a snack.

3. Unrefined Coconut Oil

The human body needs healthy fats to thrive, and while fat is pretty easy to come by, the type of fat and overall quality is paramount. Unrefined coconut oil is a pantry must-have because it’s full of health benefits and is very stable cooking oil, which can’t be said for most vegetable oils. It is less likely to oxidize or go rancid when heated. It has a smoke point of around 280-365°, and can even be used to saute or roast vegetables. Coconut oil is also a great source of medium-chain triglycerides which have been shown to help boost metabolism, aid in energy production, and help keep blood sugar levels stable.

4. Himalayan Pink Salt

One of the easiest ways to add extra trace minerals to your diet is by swapping out common table salt for a pink Himalayan salt (or another high-quality sea salt like Celtic salt). While both table salt and Himalayan salt are comprised of mostly one element - sodium chloride - Himalayan salt contains up to 84 additional minerals and trace elements - making it a far superior choice. This can be very helpful in balancing electrolyte levels, especially in hot climates or after exercise.

5. Seaweeds

Speaking of mineral salts, seaweeds such as nori, pulse, kelp, dulse, arame, wakame, and kombu are all excellent sources of minerals, including iodine which can help protect the thyroid and may help stimulate weight loss. The mineral salts found in sea salt help build the blood and alkalinize the body. Sea veggies are also very cleansing and have been shown to help rid the body of heavy metals, toxins, and radiation. Try using nori as a wrap with brown rice or quinoa, roasted vegetables, and a yummy tahini sauce, or sprinkle some dulse flakes over your salad, soups, or avocado toast.

6. Fresh Herbs

There’s nothing quite like fresh herbs when it comes to adding flavor to food, yet it’s also easy to walk right past them on the produce rack, while you load up on more staple vegetables like broccoli, carrots, and zucchini. Don’t forget to include on your shopping list cilantro, parsley, chives, basil, and mint - add them to salads or find other creative ways to utilize them as garnishes to your existing meals. They contain plenty of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, chlorophyll, and plant compounds that help boost the immune system.

7. Fresh Spices

If you tend to rely on powdered spices to flavor your food, try subbing some of those for the fresh stuff. Instead of dried ginger or turmeric, try using the fresh roots. They can be finely minced and used in recipes, juiced, or steeped to make fresh tea. You will get even more of the plant’s health benefits because the nutrients haven’t been degraded by heat and oxidation. That’s not to say dried spices are bad. There’s plenty of benefits to using things like dried cayenne which helps boost digestion and has antibacterial properties, and cinnamon which has been shown to help balance blood sugar levels.