Monday, June 30, 2014

Vegan Coconut Chia Seed Pudding

                                              Happy 4th of July week

Friday, June 27, 2014

All Natural Sunburn Relief

Happy Friday Everyone

This week we did our fav natural supplements. While there have been so many that I have come to find and love, it has been hard to choose just a few to feature this week. I knew right away I would talk about my epsom salt baths, but I could not decide what to share with you lovely readers today. Since next week is the 4th of July, and I know we will all be out in the sun (maybe for the first time this summer?) I wanted to share my all natural sunburn relief. You probably even have the ingredients in your pantry now, which is always nice and a money-saver. Of course aloe vera works wonders if you have an aloe plant in your backyard like my sweet grandmother does. However, if you don't, do not waste your money on commercial brand aloe vera gel from there store. Here's why:

A few weeks ago we took an amazing trip to Seaside, FL with my family. It was my cousin's graduation from high school and we ate up every minute of that amazing trip. My husband and I stayed in this adorable "carriage house" (pictured above) that was in the back of a house my Uncle and Aunt had rented. We ate amazing food the entire week, rode on bikes (we even rode to the Saturday Farmer's Market on our bikes and stopped at the Organic Raw Juice truck on the way-- heaven!!), played cards with my cousin and her friend at night, talked, and had so much fun.  It could not have been more perfect of a weekend. One of the days however my family had to do some graduation prep, and I was left to have a morning by myself. And as my Gram always says, "Sometimes it's alright to be alone." And it was more than alright. I just laid on the beach, no reading, no writing, just laid there soaking up the beautiful sun and enjoying it's perfect heat and rays as I heard the ocean crashing at my feet. I also even thought about all of that natural Vitamin D I was getting. What's not to love?! Except, I was in such paradise that I did not realize I had failed to apply sunscreen and I ended up just laying there for 4 hours! How I did that, I have absolutely  no idea! But I ended up having a pretty bad sunburn-- the worst I've ever had in my life. My husband drove in from work that night and we went to the store to find some sunburn relief. I found the aloe veras and do you know that they did not even contain aloe vera in the ingredients!! How crazy!! It was worthless. Since I use coconut oil for just about everything these days (best shaving cream + best eye makeup remover, ever!) I decided to buy a jar of that at the store instead, knowing that it surely wouldn't go to waste if anything. So that night I added some lavender oil to the coconut oil and applied it all over. It hurt a lot just rubbing it, but by the next morning my sunburn was so much better! By the time I got home, my sunburn was mostly gone (as you can see in the picture at the top of this post) and I just had started developing a tiny tan which was pretty much a miracle for me. I'm naturally a ghost. I've used this little relief remedy since and shared it with others and it's pretty much an all around favorite now. If you don't have lavender oil, that's okay. You can just apply the coconut oil, but it does work best with some lavender oil. I can't stress enough make sure you are buying good brands of essential oils. You can ask me if you have any questions as I have done my research.

All Natural Sunburn Relief Recipe: 
 Coconut Oil 
Lavender Essential Oil (optional)

Take some oil out of the jar. Don't just put your fingers in your coconut oil jar, I mean you can, but that can get gross. So take some coconut oil out and put it in a little mason jar, such as the one above. Add a few drops of lavender oil to the jar. I would start out adding 15 drops and go from there. Mix. Apply and then cover the jar and use as needed. I suggest applying this mixture at least twice a day for a week when you have a bad sunburn.

Tip: Knowing I was doing this post today, I texted Dr. Shumway asking him if he had any other suggestions to add to my coconut oil and lavender oil recipe. He said Myrrh for skin regeneration. Perfect! Many times Myrrh is not a common essential oil that one would have on hand, but if you have it it's wonderful for anything skin related and I would definitely add that as well! We happen to have some Myrrh, so I am glad we can use that next time as well. I would add 10 drops of Myrrh.

Happy Summer Travels and Adventures!! 


P.S. You can see the rest of this week's posts here: Monday's Laura's Sleep Solve, Tuesday's Danielle's Epsom Salt Bath Recipes, Wednesday's Real People Interview Monica Bravo, and Thursday's Danielle's Natural Supplement Routine

Thursday, June 26, 2014

My Natural Supplement Routine

Hi Readers!

Wasn't Monica from yesterday's interview amazing? I love how she is young, yet really going after her dreams and goals while also making it a priority to be healthy. It is so important to take care of our bodies as that really does contribute to the quality of our lives and how well we are able to work towards those dreams of ours. That brings me to today's topic, which is my natural supplement routine. I used to be under the assumption that I only needed to eat healthy foods in order to be healthy. I am all about the food, and so is Laura! That is one of the main things that led us to starting this blog, and even starting it together. Being that I am so interested in food, I used to think that as long as I ate healthy that I would in turn be healthy. However, I have come to realize (through much experience!) that just isn't the case. Back when the world began and it was perfect I'm sure that would have been the case. However, now food has been changed and modified in so many ways and our bodies have been victims of harmful chemicals and toxic environments. I love that food is medicine, but our bodies really and truly need help in using that good food we eat to help us. I've learned from my own experience that I can eat all of the good, organic food I want and still be unable to digest it. Our bodies still do need added nutrition and added supplements to help us stay as healthy as can be and use every ounce of nutrition for our benefit without getting wasted. I have NEVER been one to like taking medicine at all, not even advil. I think that's contributed to why I did not want to take natural supplements or vitamins for a while. I also had this assumption that every natural supplement must be some kind of gimmick. I held off on taking any supplements for a long while and stuck to healthy foods and epsom salt baths primarily. However, that has changed and thankfully I am much better off and much more healthy since I have started taking supplements that my body actually needs. (Don't worry, I'm not selling anything on this post, so all of this is just my personal experience, not some miracle product I'm trying to get anyone to buy ;) ) I began with one supplement to start off with and my body responded so well I was sort of shocked. I had symptoms all of my life that I just thought I had to live with, and after taking needed supplements (along with eating healthy and drinking my water) my body changed drastically to the point that it's hard for me to even remember how sick I used to feel.

Although I am not paid to advertise any of these products and get nothing in return for featuring them here today, I wanted to share my natural supplement routine for any of ya'll that may be confused or wondering where to start with supplements. I just wanted to share my experience, and which ones are essential to me. It is definitely extremely important to be educated on what products you are putting into your body and where they come from. Many times vitamins sold at big stores or even small stores are absolutely filled with chemicals and are not at all what they claim to be at first glance. If you get anything from this post, I can't suggest enough to RESEARCH and do your homework with what you are putting into your bodies. Don't waste your money or your health. Be educated. Own your own health-- it's a luxury we have to do so!

Of course, I am not a medical doctor. I cannot diagnose anyone or anything like that. If you have specific medical problems, talk to your doctor. I am just sharing my own experience and how that has changed my own life.

Danielle's Natural Supplement Routine: 

I do not take all of these on a daily basis, but I will outline which ones I do and when. 

1. Probiotics: These are super important. If you have taken antibiotics at any point in your life or been alive for a portion of time it is likely that your gut and organs in some cases have been compromised. Probiotics are one of the main things that ward off infection and boost your immune system. They have been known to regulate women's health and also regulate weight. They're also known to be essential for the urinary track and digestive system. Remember your mom trying to get you to eat yogurt when you were little? That is because yogurt is full of probiotics. Know your brands with yogurt too, and stay away from the additives and sugary yogurt. Anyway, although I do eat fermented food laden with natural probiotics, I also take probiotics daily-- with every big meal that I eat. Probiotics in my opinion are one of the single best things I can do for my body. I make sure to have a high-quality brand on hand pretty much at all times. I get my probiotics from Healthy Alternatives, which is also where I get my Digestive Enzymes which I will talk about below.

It is important to me to know extensively about how these products are made, what environment they're made in, if anything is added, and if the company is reputable. Thankfully, Dr. Shumway was a part of the testing for the formulas for this company and saw first-hand the quality of their products. (And, no he does not get any profit from this company now, so he has no gain by recommending it.) I do not buy products that I have not extensively researched or know someone who has, and this brand I fully trust and recommend. I have since talked with the owner and maker of this brand many, many times and she has answered any and all of my seemingly endless questions. Both my husband and myself do extensive homework before deciding to purchase any brands or products. 

2. Digestive Enzymes: When I first got into natural health counseling all I heard about was digestive enzymes it seemed. However, it took me a while to start taking them myself. I often thought, "do I really need these?" And wow, I did. Digestive Enzymes have made a huge, huge impact in my health in so many ways. Since it is so important to me to buy healthy food and eat whole foods, I never want to waste all of that by not being able to digest it which is sadly too often the case. Digestive Enzymes ensure that all of the nutrients from those foods are properly digested and can be used to help support all of my organs and the overall health of my entire body. I had a conversation with my dad tonight about some shoulder pain he had been having. I am a firm believer in a chiropractor (and also massage therapists!) but I have found personally when I am taking my digestive enzymes my back pain is little to none. I had some severe jaw pain and as soon as I started taking protease, it was gone completely. These are huge and I take them daily! As I said above, I also get my digestive enzymes from Healthy Reflections.

3. Vitamin & Mineral: I used to be one of those people that thought all vitamins are a gimmick. I'm still not too far from that mindset, however I have found a set of vitamins and minerals that I absolutely adore and take daily. These are not a gimmick at all. (As I said above, I feel it's practically worthless for me to take any vitamins from big stores. They're filled with chemicals and sugars- no thanks!). I use these vitamins and I've seen great results from it. I get a whole host of minerals such as zinc that I would have to take individual pills for otherwise.

4. Vitamin B: Vitamin B is a big one. Do you get headaches? No energy? About 90% of Americans are said to be diffident in vitamin B-- some more so than others. I used to be one of those people that was tired all of the time. I sometimes would get what I call "hungry headaches." I felt lethargic. I felt tired and maybe even slightly depressed? I mean I was never in the throes of depression, but I was so tired which led me to feel melancholy of sorts. I would get dizzy so often-- dizziness was a daily occurrence for me. I just felt off, and even as I am typing this it's so weird for me to think back to how sick I felt so often. I felt sick most of the time, that I was almost used to it. I just thought I was a naturally sick person and that as we all have quirks in our personality, those were my "quirks" in my health. Wrong! We weren't created to feel that way. Our bodies were created absolutely beautifully and amazingly! Our bodies have this insane and innate ability to work and to work well. I say all of this to say, I was Vitamin B deficient and that affected me in many ways along with the ways I described above. I now am thankfully no longer that person and it is a rarity that I ever get headaches or dizziness. I honestly don't even remember the last time I was dizzy and that is a miracle! Vitamin B is one of my heroes. :) (I am sorry for the less than scientific rendition of these supplements and vitamins. I have researched the scientific side and my husband has even more than I have. However, I get bored writing about those aspects, and I want to write what I wish others would have shared with me.) This is the brand of Vitamin B that I absolutely love. This is especially important for those that exercise often and those who are pregnant or going to conceive within a few months. If you have specific questions, you can email us at PRTLIVING@GMAIL.COM.

Other Seldom Supplments: 

The above supplements are ones that I take on a daily basis. There are a few others such as Cell Food and Vitamin D (I take this one pretty frequently too though) that I take as needed. When I was tested it showed that I actually was very chronically dehydrated. This is not surprising since it wasn't until this year that I actually started hydrating. It takes a while to re-hydrate your body from all the years you dehydrated. Cell Food helps my body stay hydrated. I add a few drops to my water and it's similar to digestive enzymes in the sense that cell food helps the bonuses of water go to the places in the body that need it and do it's job. Along with those, I also take specific glandulars designed for specific organs that are low-functioning in my body. So, for example my thyroid has shown signs of weakness. Others' may have urinary track weakness or kidney weakness. Since my thyroid has shown signs of weakness, I am about to start taking a thyroid and adrenal glandular. I also take Vitamin C every hour when I am sick until I feel better. Now, I used to be severely constipated. If I knew what I know now I would have taken a Colon Health Support (I have an amazing brand I would use for that now). Thankfully, though I no longer have that problem nor do I take any supplement for that.

Aside from those things, I have a wide variety of essential oils on hand. I make sure to stock up on those and we honestly use them frequently! I also definitely take my epsom salt baths and see those as a form of de-stressing and also as a "supplement" to my body. In fact, I'm going to take one now!

Happy natural living!


Disclaimer: PRTLIVING (and all of those feature and interviewed) is limited to providing self-help education in natural health matters and advocating of a healthy lifestyle for the sole purpose of sharing personal experiences and historical information about the traditional use of God-given herbs and natural remedies. This information is not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure any specific disease. No medical claims are made. If you have a medical problem, please seek the advice of your medical doctor.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Real People Wednesday: Meet Monica Bravo!

Hello Readers! Before we get to the good stuff, it's Real People Wednesday and it is also Laura's birthday!! So thankful for her! She has become such a good friend and I absolutely would not still be writing this blog if not for her. She is super fun and always has really fun stories to tell me. Her boyfriend surprised her in the middle of the night incognito with a grill for grilling (expect a week on summer grilling!!) and one of her co-workers brought her cardamom donuts for her birthday today... could you not just die?! Who gets homemade cardamom donuts just brought to you on your birthday morning? With both her life stories (believe me, she is constantly having some good ones!) and cooking adventures Laura always keeps me entertained, that's for sure! Happy Birthday, Laura! So glad life brought us to meet! 

Meet Monica!
Now for our Real People Wednesday Interview today. Meet Monica! My mom actually met Monica a little while back, and had a fun time getting to know each other. Monica's passion for food and for life reminded my mom of me. Monica is a pre-med student at LSU, studying with the goal of becoming a doctor who can help people with their health. She already has had a successful career in the food world and also has quite the successful blog. Anyone who is in pre-med and who also can carry on a blog is practically my hero. She made some pretty intense lifestyle changes later on in her life, and I love the practical tips and wisdom she shares about that. Her blog is a wealth of information! I must admit that I am a little jealous of how gorgeous and inspiring her instagram pictures are! I'm so excited to introduce you to her readers, as I think you will adore her and glean from her as much as I have. I especially loved her answer to question number 3! 

Meet Monica Bravo! 
  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself: Where you live, what you do, your favorite foods, etc. 
Snapshot of Monica's Gorgeous Instagram Pictures

Hello readers of PRT Living! My name is Monica Bravo and I am from Covington, Louisiana. I am currently a pre-med student at LSU Honors College with a business minor. In my free time, I really enjoy all different forms of exercise, spending time with friends and family, being outdoors, cooking, and blogging about the Paleo Diet. I actually came in contact with Danielle because I met her mother at a Paleo restaurant in Houston! We came to talking about blogging and healthy eating, and she pointed me to Danielle’s blog. 
My favorite foods include almost every vegetable and fruit, and quality meats and seafood. The fresher my food is, the more I like it! I enjoy my Saturday farmer’s market stops, and take a few too many trips to Whole Foods. I love posting my meals on Instagram, so if you need some inspiration head on over there. 

2. Can you tell us a little bit about your journey of health. How did you begin on these lifestyle changes and why it is so important to your life and who you are? 

My journey of health began after the most important man in my life was diagnosed with heart disease. Since he was a former trialthlete and seemed to be the picture of health, we began digging deeper to find the real cause for inflammation and disease. By looking for the healthiest diet for him, we came across the Paleo Diet. Some call it a diet, but we call it a lifestyle. We like to say we “just eat real food”, and keep it simple. Our definition of real food includes meats, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and healthy oils/fats. We can all agree that processed foods and sugars are terrible, but we take it a step further and eliminate grains as well. Some find it controversial, but it has improved our health tremendously and we have seen it improve many others lives too!
This cause is important to me because I want people, especially my generation, to be educated on their health. I completely believe knowledge is power. In the next few months, I will be working on an eBook for college students to help them make a transition to healthier eating. It all starts with learning a bit about grocery shopping, meal planning, and cooking. The ultimate goal is for me to become a doctor that can help others improve their health through a “real food” diet, but along my own journey I enjoy blogging to help motivate and inspire others. 

3. For people who are just starting out wanting to make some lifestyle changes, what are some tricks of the trade you would share with them or suggest? 

I always say motivation gets you started, and habits keep you moving. Find a passion and sense of motivation deep inside. There is a drive in you that wants to become a better, healthier person. Use that motivation to get you started. Build habits of clean eating, cooking, grocery shopping, and exercising. These habits should be like brushing your teeth and showering; they’re essential to your health! Once the habits are in place, the cravings go away, and things get a lot easier. 
It always helps to have a good support system. Find a buddy to begin this journey with, or you can join in on the blogging community. By exploring blogs you can read others experiences and connect with people going through the same struggles as you. 

4.You have a beautiful gorgeous blog. What made you start writing it? What has been one of your favorite posts you’ve written so far? 

I started writing when I was working for a wonderful lady named Laura Fuentes. She owns an online company and blog called MOMables, where she helps moms pack healthier lunches. While working for her last summer, she became like a mentor to me. I like to say she gave me the “Blogging for Dummies” course in only a couple of months. I dreamed about writing a health related blog for a few years, and had even been on Tumblr for a while. I signed up for wordpress, bought a few photography props, and it’s been great fun ever since! 
Picture taken by Monica
Thanks for the wonderful compliments! I am actually currently “under construction” for a new site. I’m looking for a simpler, natural feel, and hopefully that will be up by the fall. For myself, my posts are more about my pictures. I like writing my Motivational Monday posts, but the photography is where I get to show my artsy side (which is very hard for me to find!) I would say my favorite post is my Brussel Sprout Salad. I’m a huge fan of brussel sprouts, and this recipe is great for any occasion. It looks pretty for a fancy dinner, but it is super simple to cook. 

5. How has eating healthy, living well, and being well changed how you have felt and benefited your life so far? What are you most looking forward to about this year in your life of happy cooking and living well? 

Eating healthy makes me a happier, more energized person. It makes so much sense to me that the food we eat affects all aspects of our health and our lives. Our food nourishes us and creates our new cells. You ARE what you eat. Thus far, I’ve found it so rewarding to connect with others, like you, through blogging who share the same passion as me. We are all just trying to make the world a better place, by sharing personal experiences. 

I am most looking forward to my eBook release in the fall. I will surely send you a copy when it is finished. For the readers of PRT living, head over to my site and sign up for my email list to find out more about the eBook release. Thanks for having me Danielle and Laura! Keep up the good work. 

Thank you so much Monica for your lovely interview! Can't wait to read more and chat with you in the future! Readers be sure to follow her on instagram, as she posts frequently. 



Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Epsom Salt Bath: How To

Being that this week is our natural living "favorite things" week, I thought it would only be fitting that my first post would be about probably my number one favorite thing in the world of natural living: epsom salt baths. I mentioned this in my initial Wednesday interview. This may just be my single favorite natural "supplement" of all time, and if I had to pick just one natural supplement to have for the rest of my life it may just be this one. It was a while ago now that I started doing epsom salt baths. I'm not even sure how I started or when. You see, epsom salts are so amazing because they provide the body with magnesium which is one of the hardest things for our body to retain. Magnesium is best absorbed through the skin actually-- more so than being ingested through the mouth. So doing baths really is one of the best ways to get this rare and much needed mineral into your system. (I also take magnesium internally as well, but I love the bath method the best!) These epsom salt baths have become one of my go-to's for all sorts of ailments, including headaches, anxiety, colds, any kind of infection and/or virus, acne, back pain, trying to loose weight, ridding of toxins, helping sore muscles, fatigue, wound healing, stress, stomach issues, and much more. This has become one of my key favorites in how I take care of my body. I try not to go a week without an epsom salt bath and when I'm fighting off something I will take one of these baths once a day for however long until I feel all the way better. Doing these baths have become one of the highlights of my week. I usually light a candle, put on some music, and take that time to pray and take care of my body. It's delightful and I have seen so many amazing health benefits since doing this simple thing that feels wonderful as well.

Where to find/buy Epsom Salts From: 

I buy mine from Whole Foods, online, and from a co-op. You can find some for very little money (I think it's $3 for a bag) at CVS. I wouldn't hesitate to use those in a pinch, but I prefer other brands when I have that luxury. I buy this brand at whole foods and it's usually $6 for the carton. I also buy these Dead Sea salts that I love as well. What I would not recommend is to buy ones that are scented or perfumed. Many times those have chemicals added, and I stay far away from those. Get the pure, scent-free, unadulterated good stuff and you can add scents and oils to your liking afterward.


What you need:
2 cups of Epsom Salts
A Bath Tub (You could use a basin for a foot bath)
A few drops of Essential Oils (This is completely optional. Use only when you have. It's not necessary)

I drink a full cup of water before I begin. Then I draw a bath of hot water. I want it to be hot, because it's best to actually sweat. I then add in two cups of epsom salts and let the salts dissolve. This will also give the water time to cool a bit. When the water feels good to my preference and won't burn my skin while getting in, I add in essential oils (see below). These are not necessary. I have done the bath without essential oils and it is still amazing. After I add the essential oils, I get right in. I soak in the bath for at least 20 minutes. I've heard it said that the first ten minutes are used to get rid of harmful toxins and the second ten minutes are used to restore minerals back into your body. I always make sure to have a glass of water next to the tub if I begin to feel thirsty or need some. I sometimes forget I've been in there and have gone up to 30 minutes before. When you are done rinse off with cooler water and pat or air dry.

*Drink a full cup of water before you start. It's important as you are doing this (just as when you get a massage) to stay hydrated. Get your mason jars out to make absolutely sure that you are drinking an adequate amount of water that day. You never want to cleanse or eliminate toxins if you are not hydrated because your body will not have a way to eliminate those toxins that have been released.* 

Essential Oils & Other Add-In's:

I do not always add anything to my epsom salt baths. As I said, just doing the epsom salts alone works wonders. However, sometimes there will be something specific I am trying to target, so I will add something in. Below are a few options for add in's.

Essential Oils: 

I have come to love essential oils. It took me a while to research every brand out there and I was very thorough in my research. It was very important for me to use a reputable brand and one I could fully trust, use on my body, and recommend to others. I used to by mine at the store without thinking too much about the brand. I highly suggest you doing your research, or ask someone that has. It took me a while to extensively research until I was completely confident in the brand I chose. The last thing you want to do is waste your money on a less than great brand. It's not worth it, trust me. Now that I've found one I love, I especially love adding these to my bath time routine. You can email me if you have any particular questions about essential oils. A good one to start with is always lavender of course. Lavender is of course amazing for stress and any form of anxiety, but also really for any ailment I come across. You can add anywhere from 3-15 drops in your bath. There are all sorts of others that are great for specific issues, so you can email us at PRTLIVING@GMAIL.COM with any specific questions or formulas. A few of my favorite combinations are below: 

Any combination of below oils work well

Common Cold Bath: 
10 drops of lavender
5 drops of peppermint 
2 drops of thyme 
(oregano oil is also great for colds)

13 drops of lavender
4 drops of peppermint
5 drops of lemon

8 drops of lavender
5 drops of lemon 
8 drops of tea tree

Sensual Bath: 
(you know you want to try this! why not?!)
5 drops of Cyrpress
5 drops of Sandalwood 
3 drops of Geranium 
(Geranium is also great for fertility)

I mainly do the combinations listed above. However, if I have had a week of sickness or my immune system is really low then I will sometimes add in aluminum-free baking soda, fresh raw ginger, and / or apple cider vinegar to my baths. One time I was out of epsom salts (sad!!) and I just used hot water, baking soda, and essential oils. I would say I used about 3 tbsp. of baking soda (the aluminum free baking soda! It's best to buy that in bulk- much cheaper!). When I have gotten a very bad flu-like cold (which is rare) I will add chopped up fresh ginger to my bath. I use one knob of fresh ginger minced. Every now and then I will also add a tbsp. of apple cider vinegar to my baths just to help my body's PH levels. 

I hope these suggestions are helpful to you! The main point is to RELAX. Even if you buy a $3 bag of Epsom Salt baths from CVS, spend twenty minutes giving to your body, praying, relaxing, and restoring peace within. It will do wonders for your body and heart. We have to take care of ourselves and our bodies and it's definitely a luxury that we are able to do so-- but a luxury we should take full advantage of! 


Freshly Minced Ginger For a Ginger Bath

Disclaimer: PRTLIVING (and all of those feature and interviewed) is limited to providing self-help education in natural health matters and advocating of a healthy lifestyle for the sole purpose of sharing personal experiences and historical information about the traditional use of God-given herbs and natural remedies. This information is not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure any specific disease. No medical claims are made. If you have a medical problem, please seek the advice of your medical doctor.

Monday, June 23, 2014

"These are a Few of Our Favorite things" Week: Sleep Solve 24/7

Good Afternoon Readers!


It's been a really great weekend! I ended up spending a lot of time relaxing which in my world is usually unheard of especially on my days off. That being said this is going to be a CRAZY week! It is not only my birthday but I am going to be packing for my trip to Chicago, trying to close things up at work because we will be closed for the week of the forth of July and I will be helping watch my parents dog while they are out of town.

It's good that I got the time to rest this weekend because a week like this tends to send my stress level through the roof and makes sleeping almost impossible. I have always had some troubles sleeping especially as a child and teenager. I used to spend countless nights in front of the TV trying to force myself to get tired. I had this irrational fear that I was the only person in the world still awake (the crazy things we dream up as children) and it would just intensify my anxiety and keep me from falling asleep. My mom and step mom have always been into a lot of natural remedies and I used to try almost anything to induce sleep. The one I remember the most was the liquid Valerian root. It was a horrible tasting liquid I would have to hold under my tongue- can you imagine a little kid agreeing to such a "torturous" ritual. I was just very desperate. There is really nothing worse than watching the clock tick closer and closer to that dreaded time you need to be awake. 

Well this week Danielle and I want to focus on some of our favorite things that we find exciting, helpful, healthy and fun. I have been using a natural sleep aid for a few years now and I absolutely adore it.  It is called Sleep Solve 24/7. My mom has always had troubles sleeping as well and she is always trying to find a natural sleep aid that actually works. When she first started selling the product in her office she brought it home for me as sort of an experiment to see if it helped. I immediately loved the product. It has always worked to relieve my sleep issues. I can usually fall asleep easily but I tend to wake up in the middle of the night and struggle to fall back to sleep. I like this supplement a lot because it does not leave you groggy like a lot of other products out their might. It also only lasts for one sleep cycle and makes taking it in the middle of the night easier because it doesn't stay in your system long. We go through a series of sleep cycles during a full nights rest and as a warning to those who have trouble falling asleep you may need to take more than one if you are trying to sleep through the whole night. My sleep issues now that I am adult are a lot more acute so on average I only take one. 

The Sleep Solve 24/7 is an all natural product that only uses magnesium and supplemental forms of the sleep hormones used when falling asleep. A lot of the over counter sleeping pills and supplements are chock-full of unhealthy chemicals that tend to put you in a trance rather than really just speeding your sleeping process. I really hate that sleeping pill "hangover" that comes with most of these products. If I am taking something for sleep in the morning I want to feel like I actually slept the previous night.

I was recently introduced to a really cool App on my iPhone called "Sleep Cycle Alarm"- it is a program that turns on your microphone to record your movement and breathing during the night.There is an average amount of movement that is correlated to different levels of sleep. You turn the App on and simply place your phone under your pillow. I wanted to do a little experiment to show a night with my sleep aid and a night without my sleep aid. Obviously this is not a scientific experiment and there are a lot of outlying variables that could be affecting my sleep but I thought this was a fun idea. 

Without Sleep Solve 24/7
With Sleep Solve 24/7

 As you can clearly see I had a much better sleep the night that I used the Sleep Solve. The first night I was only sleeping at 44% and I woke up at 4 am and had a horrible time falling back to sleep. The second night when I chose to use the sleep solve I was sleeping at 89% and I slept soundly only waking at the end of my sleep cycle which is healthy. I did start my sleep cycle alarm a bit later than the night I had better sleep but you can see on average I was sleeping a lot more comfortably the night I used my supplement.

I know that every supplement works differently for each individual but I really do like this product. I have suggested it to a couple friends with the burden of bad sleeping habits. You can find this product a lot of different places online, they even sell it through Amazon so if you are interested I would start there. 

This week is going to be fun and interesting so I hope you keep coming back to read about more of our favorites. Don't forget to check out my interview last Friday with the guys behind the scenes at Timing and Chemistry Inc.

Thank you all!!!

Friday, June 20, 2014

A Glimpse Inside a Kitchen / "Real People Wednesday"

Happy "Real People Wednesday" Friday!

We have been spending a lot of time this week focusing on the recipes that have become staples in our kitchens. Danielle shared a her lovely herb vinaigrette and a great lentil recipe both are very nice for summer dining. I also wanted to focus on some lighter more warm weather friendly recipes with my watermelon avocado salad and Vietnamese spring rolls

Since we have focused on home cooking the entirety of the blog Danielle thought it might be fun if I did a piece on what it is like to work in a professional kitchen. I have been working with Timing and Chemistry Inc for over three years now and have met some really wonderful and talented cooks. Our kitchen is filled with people from all walks of life- some have been trained from the bottom up others have been working in the industry for over 20 years. We have a certain standard we hold our staff to here because we take pride in producing a great and consistent product. Being in fine dining our guests expect a level of perfection and we strive to meet that in our kitchen. We have some really smart really creative guys that make up our kitchen staff and I am really grateful I get to work with such great people everyday. 

I decided to mix things up for this interview. Because the restaurant world can be pretty time consuming, especially for those in the kitchen and management, I didn't want any one person to have to take on the burden of answering a whole series of questions. I instead thought it might be more interesting and fun to ask a few questions to all of our kitchen management. I thought this would provide and more broad and clear picture into the life of a kitchen professional. Russell Klein is the chef owner at both Meritage and the new project Brasserie Zentral. He has carefully selected a wonderful team of managers to help execute his vision in the kitchen and they were kind enough to agree to participate in my post today. I have known most of these guys for over three years and they have become very close to me. I use to work in a kitchen so I am aware that it is a very stressful environment to conduct work in and sometimes it can physically wear you down. I thought it might be fun to ask some really interesting questions... things that you might not usually get to know about the people who are creating and cooking your food.  I also stepped into the kitchen and took some pictures and videos that I hope you will enjoy as well. Now that my long introduction is complete I would like you to meet Jon Beyreuther (Chef de cuisine at Meritage), Josh Chevallier (Head Sous chef at Meritage, Geoff Stout (Sous Chef at Meritage), and Tim Helgeson (Head Sous Chef at Brasserie Zentral).

 Since I interviewed four different individuals I am going to structure this a bit differently-I will put the the questions first than the corresponding answer with the person responding name.

1. Why did you chose to pursue a culinary career?

Jon: After Attending college for a short time, I realized a desk job would not work for me. I had always cooked as a summer job during high school, and decided to pursue it as an option. I've always loved the atmosphere of being in a kitchen. There is a daily adrenaline rush that most professions do not provide. 

2. What is your favorite food memory?

Tim: My favorite food memory pertains to my grandmothers garden. When I was a child, she grew all varieties of vegetables, and used every bit of it all. Each day, something new was ready to be unearthed- some days large bounties. We would snack on raw kohlrabi and carrots, then prepare some for dinner. But the real beauty in it all was preparing for the desolate months.
As a farm girl in rural Wisconsin in the 1930's, it wasn't a chic decision to can and pickle all varieties of food, it was a mode of survival. The conveniences of modern society, and its processed, easily accessible foods, were years and miles away from the Luckwaldt farm. You simply managed your resources.
She had a magical room in her house- the root cellar. It had a dirt floor, wooden shelves, no window, and it was always cooler than anywhere else. The shelves were lined with hundred of mason jars. Jams, pickles of all varieties, canned tomatoes, fruits. It contained everything that could not be consumed while still fresh- everything. 
Despite, now easy accessibility of food, she maintained this tradition until day that she died. She chose to maintain tradition. To respect the integrity of farming, of good cooking, and that sense of poverty that produces a certain soul that cannot be faked. It was my grandmother's respect and diligence towards food, I think, that I hold most dear. 

3. What is your favorite part of working in a kitchen?

Jon: The sense of teamwork and camaraderie. The common goal of serving something great and being able to receive an immediate appreciation from happy diners. 

4. What are your favorite foods to prepare?

Josh: My favorite thing to prepare is definitely the ballotine.
I Love grinding my meat and stuffing little birds! Just kidding...
But seriously, the ballotine requires a level of technique the home cook can execute, but may find difficult. It's always more fun for me to prepare and serve something to a guest that they cannot make at home themselves. 


5.  What are the hardest ingredients to work with in the kitchen?
Geoff: Sometimes the most simple ingredients are the most challenging. When you buy tomatoes, fresh fruit or citrus that just aren't exactly where you want them to be. You have this idea in your head of what it should taste like, whether raw or cooked, and sometimes they don't live up to that expectation. So getting these simple, fresh ingredients to taste how you want them to be can be the most difficult.

6.  What are the food that inspire you in the kitchen?
Tim: I am a huge fan of foraging. The forest holds a certain sense of magic for me. You may be collecting fiddle-heads to pass the time, but it is the morel that you truly desire. You search for hours and see no trace of the mystical mushroom, so you give up. Then, just as in love, when you are ready to throw in the towel forever, everything that you had sought for, is right at your feet. Nature has decided, in your humility, that these gifts belong to you. You know that if you don't treat these items with the greatest care, you may never be given another shot, so you actually love these mushrooms. There is nothing better than cooking with kind of connection to your food.

7. What are some foods you cook at home or eat out and why?

Geoff: I tend to eat a lot of Asian food at home. I like the depth of flavor and spice that exists in their cuisine. Also, lime and cilantro are just amazing. A burger from The Nook or everything at Bar LaGrassa are my go to places when I want to eat out though.


8. What is something you don't think outsiders know about what goes on in the kitchen?

 Josh: I have three answers for you!
The hours: I am pretty sure most outsiders are unaware of how many hours these professionals work to make the ship run.
The Lingo: In most professional kitchens, we have a way of talking with one another that is different type of communication. Its like we are speaking a foreign language with each other... with a lot of innuendos...
The hands: How many hands touch your food? Kind of gross when you add it all up but we do a wonderful job with sanitation and the more hands the more care that goes into that dish. 

 I am so grateful for those who participated and I hope all of you readers had a great time getting to know some of the great people behind the food at the Timing and Chemistry restaurants. Don't forget to check out the recipes we posted earlier this week!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

A Recipe For Lentils & Warning of Pine Nut Food Poisoning

lentil tacos
Lentil Tacos

Okay, you guys. This week is about what's cooking in our kitchen. Laura posted a wonderful recipe for Spring Rolls yesterday. It's just a week that we can share recipes we have been making and love. It sounded ideal since I had gorgeous heads of fresh garlic (that had never been dried like the kind you get in the store) from the farmer's market and I had three bushels full of kale to cook for the end of the kale season. I was excited to write down some of those recipes for ya'll. However, something very interesting has happened to me this week. I lost my taste and the only taste I can taste is bitter. This has been going on for a week now. I've also had a bad headache, and I honestly cannot remember the last time I've even had a headache. The first day or so I was a little worried, but mostly just sad. The next few days I honestly started to panic a little. I did every single thing I could think to cure this. Vitamin B, Vitamin D, Cell Food, Enzymes, Essential Oils, ACV, Probiotics. Everything. You see, eating is very important to me, obviously! I also have to be able to taste so that I can check the measurements in the recipes I write down for you guys. The main reason I was upset was mostly just because I love food. Food is a huge part of my life and who I am. It always has been ever since I can remember. I love enjoying delicious food. I love the memories that come with it. I love making food. I love sharing it with others. I remember even when I was a little girl trying to "feed people." Not being able to taste food has been alarming, to say the least. So, I have literally been scrambling. I have done everything natural that I know of and/or could think of. I even called a regular doctor and got some medicine for thrush. Ya'll, I was desperate! 

It wasn't until this morning that I mentioned all of this to Laura. She immediately asked me if I had eaten pine nuts in the last week. I have. In fact, I've eaten them a few times. She told me to look up pine nut toxicity. I did and I started finding tons of other people who experienced the same symptoms as I have been and they all linked it back to eating pine nuts. The reason behind this is that there are some pine nuts that come from China that are essentially poisonous. The condition is called "dysgeusia" or "metallogeusia." It's not an allergy but more of a poisoning.  From what I've gathered, a lot of pine nuts are shipped from China because it's "cheaper" and they're more plentiful there. The only problem is that those specific types of pine nuts have been deemed as unfit for human consumption because it's basically food poisoning to your system, yet there are no regulations fit to keep those from our kitchens-- except to buy them from the USA and a completely trusted source. The funny thing in all of this is that I am extremely cautious as to where I buy things from and where my food comes from. One of my naturopathic professors once said she does not allow anything in her home or pantry that comes from another country beside the US. I thought that was a bit overboard, but honestly I follow the same strict standards with my food. These days you have to or you are opening yourself up to a whole host of unknowns. I did not buy the pine nuts I put all over a salad I made recently for the herb vinaigrette I posted. My dad did. He was in town for Father's Day. Being that I don't want to be a jerk of a daughter or person, when someone cooks for us or buys food for us, I gladly accept and partake. I just close my eyes and tell myself I'm not going to be a crazy woman and demand to know where it's from or not eat it because it's either A) not organic or B) from outside of the US. So being the good daughter that I am, I ate a lot of those pine nuts. The next day I woke up and everything I ate or drank, including water tasted extremely bitter. I could barely keep anything down without gagging at how horrible everything tasted. Fast forward to today, after I did my research I looked at the bag of pine nuts my dad bought from Winn Dixie. Where are they from? Yep, China. This my dear readers is why I eat local and mostly organic. My mouth still tastes bitter and it's been a week since I could taste anything I've eaten without grimacing at the bitter taste in my mouth. Check where your pine nuts come from so this does not happen to your sweet tastes buds or your family's. I want to be able to trust the people that grow the food that I put into my body. I want to know what's in it and know that it's safe for me and my family. This is also why I so love going to farmer's markets and developing those relationship with the farmers. Morningside Farmer's Market in Atlanta adheres to strict standards for how the food at their market is grown and what is (not) put into it. Being able to meet the people that grow the food that colors our table and that we ingest is an amazing blessing that we are privileged to have that I do not take for granted. So, here's to the farmers that I've come to know and love and here is to being able to taste sometime soon, hopefully!! In the meantime, you can enjoy this family favorite recipe of lentils~ 


Anyone who knows my family knows that we LOVE lentils. My family has cooked lentils since I was born practically.  My dad loves to stand over a pot of these and tell the Bible story narrative of when Esau sold his birthright to his brother Jacob just for a bowl of these lentils.  Although I can't say I would sell my birthright for these, they are that good.  They're extremely easy to make, and they're also completely full of nutrition. This is a perfect one pot meal to take over to a friend's house for dinner when you're dinner sharing. It's also great to make for company. You can eat them over a bowl of rice, a bowl of pasta, by themselves, or even  in tacos as in the picture above. It's a great dish to make this summer for Meatless Mondays, as a wonderful meat-less option for tacos. Everyone loves them. 

Here's the recipe! They're addicting.

1/3 cup of olive oil (Could use coconut oil as well)
1 big onion (or 2 medium) diced
3 carrots peeled & chopped
3 stalks of celery chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic chopped
1 pound of light red lentils lentils 
(any color of lentils will do really-- cooking times do vary with each color)
2 bay leaves
5 cups of chicken stock  
(you could use water if you don't have stock-- or a mix of water and stock)
1 1/2 cup of water
1 1/2 TBSP. of tomato paste
1/2 tsp. of red pepper flakes
salt + pepper

*It is important to note that I do soak my lentils. I do this because beans contain phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors. I soak them (along with all other beans) in a bowl of filtered water overnight with 2 TBSP of acidic medium (Apple Cider Vinegar or Fresh Lemon Juice). I soak them overnight and then rinse them well before I cook them.*


Begin by warming your olive oil and then add in the carrots, celery, and onions. Salt + Pepper. Let these cook until translucent. Once these are cooked add in the garlic. I don't add the garlic in at first, because it usually burns and turns bitter.


After the garlic is stirred in and cooked for a minute, add in the broth, water, bay leaves, lentils,  and tomato paste. Again add in salt and pepper. (You want to add in at least 2 teaspoons of salt)


This picture was before I added the stock and water.

After everything is added and stirred, bring to a boil. When it comes to a boil, put the lid over the pot keeping it slightly ajar and bring it down to a simmer (low). Keep it simmering for 30 minutes. At this point check the lentils to see if they have enough liquid and are cooked. If not then keep simmering them. Taste for seasoning.
Serve with tacos as seen in the picture above, rice, or pasta!


Disclaimer: PRTLIVING (and all of those feature and interviewed) is limited to providing self-help education in natural health matters and advocating of a healthy lifestyle for the sole purpose of sharing personal experiences and historical information about the traditional use of God-given herbs and natural remedies. This information is not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure any specific disease. No medical claims are made. If you have a medical problem, please seek the advice of your medical doctor.
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