If you like holiday spice – you will love these cookies – they are full of spice and flavor. They are free of grains, gluten, and much lower in sugar than traditional gingerbread cookies – the only sugar used in this recipe is the organic powdered sugar in the frosting – the cookies are sweetened with an organic stevia blend called Pyure. If they come out too spiced for you – you could cut the spices down a bit – I like a lot of spice in mine!
Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.
©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.
Note: these recipes contain alcohol and are for ages 21 and up. You can also make these “virgin” cocktails by omitting the alcohol.
Hot steamy Summer nights just seem to call for a summery cocktail. But did you know that a typical 8 oz. margarita has about 8 teaspoons (or more) of added sugars??? That’s more than a woman should have all day! Plus, a lot of drink mixes have preservatives, colorings, and other stuff that we (or our livers) don’t need.
That’s why I am sharing my 3 favorite Summer cocktails – these are all very simple, and “upgraded” versions of Margaritas, Mojitos, & Moscow Mules!
…hey, why do all the best Summer drinks seem to start with “M”?
My version of a Moscow Mule is actually technically a “Mexican Mule” – because instead of the traditional vodka, I like to use tequila. In fact, I am using tequila for all of these drinks, because tequila has some unusal benefits that other alcohols don’t have.
Read: 10 Surprising Benefits of Tequila You Never Knew to learn more about the unique health benefits of tequila (note: make sure you choose a good quality tequila, and moderation is also key!)
This drink is traditionally served in a copper mug – if you like, you can chill it in the freezer for 5-10 mins before making this to keep your drink nice and cold. Pour all into the cup, stir to combine, add ice. Serve! How easy is that?
If salting, prepare your glasses first. Rub a lime wedge around the rim of the glass, then pour some salt or Tahin on a plate, and roll or dip the glass into the salt or Tahin.
Mix all your ingredients, shake or stir, pour over ice into glasses. Serve!
Usually a mojito is made by muddling the mint and sugar, and then mixed together with rum and sparkling water. Again – I am swapping the traditional rum for tequila in this drink – because I just prefer tequila. You can use the traditional rum if you prefer. And I am hitting the “Easy Button” – by skipping over the muddling and using KeVita Mojito – a probiotic beverage that is dairy free, naturally sparkling, and delicious. Each bottle of KeVita has 4 billion CFUs, and 4 strains of probiotics- good for the gut, mood, and immunity. Many of their flavors make delicious and probiotic mixers – their Lemon Ginger is delish, and so is the Mango Coconut!
Mix into a glass, add the mint sprig and ice – and voila!
Out of citrus fruit? No problem – as long as you have citrus essential oils!
I love my doTERRA essential oils in the summer. I add a drop to sparkling water all the time – it is a refreshing treat. You can also make a really clean cocktail this way too.
Shake and pour over ice; or stir together ingredients into a glass, add ice & serve!
*essential oils are very powerful – all you need is a drop of two!
*Please remember if you do choose to drink alcoholic beverages, to do so in moderation & responsibly. The word “intoxification” means – we have literally ‘made ourselves toxic.’ Ethanol is metabolized into acetaldehyde, which is a toxin that is eventually broken down into acetic acid to be excreted from the body. If we consume more alcohol than can be broken down to acetic acid, the body will be experiencing the negative effects of the acetaldehyde in our blood and tissues. Excessive drinking overtime can raise our risk for developing cancer, nutrient deficiencies, digestion issues, and heart attack.
Interested in learning more about doTERRA essentail oils? Let me know!
Have you heard of “skinny starch”? It is also called “resistant starch” – because it resists digestion. What that means is that it moves slowly through the digestive tract – so it helps to keep your blood sugar more stable, it is a prebiotic – meaning that it serves as “food” for the good bacteria in our colon. It is called the “skinny starch” because it can improve digestion, blood sugar, energy, and gut bacteria – all of which could potentially mean flatter bellies and weight loss. But before you run out and eat a lot of skinny starch – realize that like any fiber – especially a prebiotic one – you want to begin to incorporate it slowly, or it could potentially cause digestive upset.
One of the best sources of resistant starch in my opinion comes from a small tuber called a tiger nut. You can eat the nuts whole, or I like to add tiger nut flour to my daily smoothie. Resistant starch can also help you sleep – so this Tiger Nut & Cashew Horchata drink is a nice thing to have before bedtime. I also like to add tiger nut flour to desserts – like this raspberry tart!
“Sugar Cookie” Crust:
Put all the ingredients into a food processor, process until still crumbly, but starting to come together.
lightly grease a tart pan, and press the crust into it (I like to use my fingers to spread it around, then a flat bottom measuring cup to get it even. Press it so it comes up about halfway up the sides of the tart pan.
Put into freezer for about 20-30 mins.
Put all of the above into the Vitamix, and blend until combined.
Take crust out of freezer, and pour filling onto the crust – spread with a spatula or spoon. Return to freezer to set – at least 2 hours, up to a day ahead. Remove from freezer before you want to serve, add the raspberries, and whipped cream if you like (see below).
Coconut Whipped Cream (optional)
Put the coconut milk in refrigerator the day before you want to make the cream. Open the bottom of the can, and pour off the coconut water (reserve for smoothies, or another recipe).
Scoop out the coconut cream and put it into a bowl with the other ingredients, using a electric mixer – whip it up. Taste and adjust. Spoon onto slices before serving.
Want to learn more about Resistant Starch and get more delicious recipes – including “skinny starch” chocolate nut butter cups and cookie dough balls? Take my Resistant Starch eCourse!
Enter code Fox5 to save 20% – expires February 28th!!
If you struggle with anxiety and stress, you are not alone. One of the most common complaints that I hear from clients – kids and adults alike – is feelings of anxiety.
We are all under so much pressure day in and day out, and running from one thing to the next – it is easy to feel like a hamster running on those hamster wheels all day long!! And with to do lists a mile long, presents to buy, travel and parties, bills piling up…the stress & anxiety levels can definitely go up during the holidays.
Excess stress can lead to elevated blood pressure, and overtime it can also cause elevated cholesterol levels, weight gain, hormone imbalances, digestion issues, mood imbalances, blood sugar issues, and can even be a trigger for diseases. A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, showed a 4.2 % increase in heart-related deaths between December 25th and January 7th, some of which could be attributed to elevated stress levels – read more.
But fortunately, there are several natural and healthy ways to deal with and reduce anxiety and stress all year long.
I love a good cup of Joe, but if you are trying to reduce your stress levels – that might not be the best way to start your day because it can amp you up too much and make you jittery and anxious. You might be thinking – “But, Sara! I need my caffeine to get going in the morning!” The perfect solution is the switch your morning cup of coffee for a cup of matcha tea. Matcha tea has just enough caffeine to give you a nice energy boost, without making you jittery. And the bonus – matcha tea also has a compound called L-Theanine – which is an amino acid that helps to promote a calm focused feeling. L-Theanine is such a powerful way to reduce anxiety and promote calm feelings, that it is sometimes called “Nature’s Xanax“. It does this by enhancing the brain’s alpha waves – which creates a deep feeling of relaxation without any sedation or drowsiness. L-theanine may also help to clear excess free glutamates from the brain, which may contribute to anxiety (free glutamates are found in processed foods, especially those which contain monosodium glutamate – so I always tell clients with anxious kids to skip the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and Doritos – and any other foods which contain MSG)! If you want the benefit of the L-theanine without the caffeine – you can take an L-theanine supplement too – which is nice to do in the evening to calm down before bedtime. L-Theanine does not contain caffeine, so you can take it any time of day. Although it won’t make you feel sleepy, the calm feeling L-theanine provides, can enhance sleep at night. A 2004 Australian study found L-Theanine to be more effective at inducing relaxation than Xanax!
I find that L-Theanine can even be an effective replacement a glass of wine for taking the ‘edge off’, it can also help to lower blood sugar, and ward off sugar cravings too.
Magnesium is a mineral, a very important mineral at that – it is responsible for over 350 biochemical processes in the body – from glucose regulation to ATP production, bone & heart health, hormones, and much more. Most people are already deficient in magnesium – and stress only makes us more depleted. Magnesium is often called “the calming mineral, or the “chill pill” – so if we are deficient, it is no wonder we could be feeling anxious. To increase your magnesium, you could eat more magnesium rich foods like nuts, seeds, leafy greens, and….chocolate!! But go for the dark chocolate, because it is raw cacao where the magnesium is found, and dark chocolate has less sugar than milk chocolate. You can also take a magnesium supplement – just know that not all types of magnesium are created equal – some are poorly absorbed, and some can have stool softening effects. So it is important to choose the right form of magnesium – I avoid the oxide form, which is poorly absorbed, and has a laxative effect. I prefer these forms of magnesium: malate, glycinate, orotate, and citrate (citrate is highly bioavailable, but it can also cause loose stools, so start with a low dose like 150 mg). Magensium can also be absorbed through the skin, so soaking in a bath with magnesium-rich epsom salts can boost your magnesium levels. Or you can spray a magnesium oil on your skin too. When I am under stress, I find that increasing my magnesium supplements can help me feel a lot calmer. This is the magnesium supplement that we take at our house: Designs for Health Magnesium Malate.
Believe it or not, essential oils can have a very powerful effect on our mood. I like to diffuse them, use them topically, and I even will put a couple drops of lavendar into my foot soak and onto my pillow for a calming effect at night. Interested in learning more about essential oils? Contact email@example.com
Whenever someone tells me they have anxiety – I ask how their digestion is, because believe it or not – many cases of anxiety begin in the gut. Our gut has actually been called our second brain! So addressing gut issues is a great tool for dealing with anxiety. One thing I like to recommend is trying to add a high quality probiotic. I usually recommend a specific strain – called Bacilius coagulans – because it is it is a soil based probiotic – which means it helps to “seed” your gut with good bacteria and crowd out the bad. It is also generally very well tolerated and doesn’t tend to cause bloating. So that is my favorite strain, and it is not the most common one either. You can also eat fermented foods and drinks too – that will help to tip the balance of good bacteria back in your favor too. I have heard that just doing this has helped people reduce their anxiety levels. This is the probiotic I take and recommend: Pure Prescriptions’ Digestive Defense.
Our gut is connected to our brain via something called the Vagus Nerve. The vagus nerve plays a critical role in our parasympathetic nervous system – the side of our nervous system that is responsible for relaxation, rest, and recovery. When the sympathetic nervous system is turned on all the time – we are stuck in a stress response – this can lead to anxiety, poorly controlled stress, and can cause our digestion and hormones to get out of balance. When there are problems with the vagus nerve, it can lead to all kinds of issues – ranging from anxiety to focus, and even digestion issues like slow motility. When we have out of control stress levels for long periods of time, our vagus nerve can get weak. In order to get it working again and doing its’ job to calm us down, we need to stimuate it. One way to stimulate the vagus nerve is by gargling – very vigorously several times a day. Singing loudly can also stimulate the vagus nerve, and so can the gag reflex- although some people may not wish to gag repeatedly every day. If those things don’t sound appealing to you – you might want to consider the Nervana device. I recently found and started using this amazing device called Nervana – it looks like a music player – but really what it is doing is stimulating the vagus nerve. Kind of like a workout for the vagus nerve!! I have been using it twice a day, and I have found that my digestion and mood have definitely benefitted.
My hubby and I are invited to a holiday party tonight and my friend asked me to bring a “healthy but yummy Sara” dessert. So I decided to come up with a new recipe! I used my ‘formula’ for flax muffins – and took it the chocolate peppermint route. They turned out delish!!
If you are interested in learning more about essential oils contact firstname.lastname@example.org
I was walking by the bakery section of the grocery store and got a whiff of fresh baked muffins. I knew I had to bake some muffins when I got home (those store muffins have about 8 teaspoons of added sugar – more than a woman should have all day long!).
I have a fool proof recipe for Flax Raisin muffins that I have made many times, but I decided to take that recipe and spruce it up with orange and dried cranberries! And since I have been really getting into essential oils lately – I thought – instead of grating orange peel, why not just use a few drops of orange essential oil instead? They turned out amazing!! I hope you enjoy them!
Optional – sprinkle a little cinnamon coconut sugar on the tops before baking them.
*Always make sure to use high quality certified therapeutic grade essentail oils if ingesting them.
Looking for a special gift for your friends and loved ones this year – why not give them a gift of health?
These gift ideas include items that can de-stress, keep your groceries cold, or beautify – I am sure there is something that will delight your friends and loved ones!
Now 25% off using code GlowOnceMore (end Dec. 13th)!!
Do you have someone special on your list who wants to have beautiful glowing skin, and also wants to avoid common chemicals included in many skincare lines? Then Annmarie Skin Care is the solution – you’ll be amazed to find that you don’t need all those nasty chemicals to make really good, spa quality skin care products. And with sample kits starting at just $10, there is something for everyone and for every price list from Annmarie Skin Care.
If you know someone that likes to start their day with a little boost of focus and energy, but doesn’t want to feel jittery? Then look no further than Matcha tea!! Matcha tea is the highest quality green tea and contains an amino acid that promotes a calm, focused feeling – called L-Theanine. You can brew it hot, or you can blend it into a matcha latte smoothie. Matcha boasts a lot of other health benefits, read: Why Everyone is Drinking Matcha Tea to learn more about this amazing superfood. Matcha Source is a great place to get your matcha tea gifts – with gift sets ranging in price from $45 to $138.00, Matcha Source has something for many different budgets. Unlike other green teas which are steeped, matcha tea is ground into a fine powder – so it is added to water, and then whisked in to blend it in – so it is good to get someone started with a gift that contains everything they need to make matcha tea:
Here in California, plastic bags have been given the heave ho – so if we don’t want to have to pay 10 cents each time we need a brown bag at the grocery – we’d better bring our own. If you are looking to invest in or gift some reuseable grocery bags – let me recommend Pack It cooler bags – they are not only reusable, they are like mini portable refrigerators! They are really strong, stylish, and they fold down flat so you can store them in your freezer. Take them to the store – and they will keep your items cold for hours!! These are great for soccer moms that like to do errands, but can’t get right back home. Also great for taking to the beach, pool, or parties too! They also make wine bottle cooler bags (perfect hostess gift), lunch bags (kids love them!), and many other items. I have used Pack It cooler bags for years, and I get compliments on my bags every time I use them! Pack It’s prices are great too – learn more or order at www.packit.com.
Have you heard of the Vagus Nerve? It connects our brain and our gut – and when it is not optimized, it can lead to a myriad of symptoms including anxiety, poor focus, slow gut motility (constipation) and more. This exciting new product called “Nervana” stimulates the vagus nerve while you listen to music – it can help to balance neurotransmitters, the nervous system, mood, boost gut motility, and much more!! This is a really unique and helpful gift for someone suffering from high stress levels, anxiety, sluggish digestion, focus issues, or just wanting to optimize or ‘biohack’ their overall health. I vew the Nervana device as kind of like a “workout” for my vagus nerve. Why would I want to work out my vagus nerve you might ask? According to Vagus Nerve Stimulation, a New Tool for Brain Research and Therapy, “clinical and animal studies indicate that VNS likely results in changes in serotonin (Ben-Menachem et al 1995), norepinephrine (Krahl et al 1998), GABA, and glutamate (Walker et al 1999)—neurotransmitters implicated in the pathogenesis of major depression.” So stimulating the vagus nerve could be a factor in resolving mood imbalances. And according to this study, while exercise is important for proper gut motility, “vagal nerve regulation is essential for the increase in gastric motility in response to mild exercise.” Learn more about Nervana here. See more articles and research on the vagus nerve at the bottom of this article.
Note: I have been testing out a Nervana device personally for a few days – and even though it has been less than a week – so far I have been impressed!! Stay tuned for a blog about my experiences with Nervana soon.
Nervana units start at $319.00 (they are on special now for $289.00). See below for some links to research on the vagus nerve.
Fermented foods boost healthy digestion, have been linked to improved mood, and also may support a healthy metabolism and weight. Do you know someone that loves to buy kombucha, kefir, saurkraut, and kimchi? They might want to make their own! Making your own fermented foods is kind of like having a science experiment in your house that tastes great, and makes you feel great when you eat it. I have made my own kombucha, kefir water, kimchi, and saurkraut – and I find the easiest one is kefir water. But I have always wanted to make my own sourdough bread. There is a lot of evidence that fermenting the wheat makes it easier to digest and even some people who have senstivities to regular wheat bread can tolerate sourdough fine (if you have celiac disease or a severe gluten intolerance, please go with the gluten free version). I would love to find a sourdough culture under the tree this year…hint, hint honey. Cultures for Health offers gifts in all price ranges – single cultures start at just under $10 – you can get a sourdough culture for $13.95. Or you can get a full Kit like the Ginger Water Kefir making kit for $39.95, or the Homemade Kimchi kit for $49.95. Learn more/order here: www.culturesforhealth.com.
I love these wearable mantra bracelets from My Intent. My Intent is not just a jewelry company – they are an “intentions project.” My Intent wants their jewelry to be a catalyst for “meaningful conversations and positive energy.” They believe there is “purpose inside each of us and we want our efforts to encourage people to share more truth and inspiration with each other.” Prices start at just $12 for a keychain, and $18 for a bracelet. You can even buy the stamper to make your own mantra jewelry! These bracelets are big with the Hollywood set – with Jay Z, Beyonce, and Kayne seen wearing them (even seen on the cover of Time magazine). Check out this story about My Intent bracelets on The Today Show. In my Break up with Sugar program, I encourage participants to pick a mantra to help guide them and stay focused on their purpose and truth – I love that we can wear our mantra and keep in the forefront of our mind. What would your word be?
Essential oils are a powerful natural way to support health – they have been shown to support mood, immunity, energy, focus, and much more. Essential oils can be diffused, used topically, they make wonderful cleaning products, candles, and soaps; and some can also be used internally – but it is important to make sure to use only the highest quality therapeutic-grade essential oils. Prices start at $10 for some single oils and go up from there! I like to add a drop of lemon essential oil to my water, diffuse oils for calm, focus, and energy – and also to clear stinky kitchen smells! You can add lavendar to your bath for calm, and even put some on your pillow for sleep. One of the most important thing that essential oils do – they can replace chemicals in your life – see articles and references below about chemicals to avoid.
Interested in learning about essential oils? Contact Sara Vance at email@example.com or visit https://www.mydoterra.com/saravance
Someone on your list interested in meditation, but don’t really know where to start? This Meditation Studio app offers a diverse selection of over 200 guided meditations featuring different teachers and styles. Focus on your intention or dive deep into a meditation topic with exclusive collections and courses. Meditation Studio is a great gift idea, and it is just $3.99. Featured by Apple as “10 Best Apps of the Year” 2016, one of TIME’s “50 Best Apps of the Year” 2016, and recommended by: Forbes, Inc., Refinery 29, Huffington Post, Well and Good, Greatist, Celebuzz, Yahoo! Beauty, and many more! Find out even more and try a meditation at www.meditationstudioapp.com
Do you have a loved one that likes to read, and is interested in improving their health? Books are a great gift – because they are budget friendly and provide hours of entertainment. Or maybe you have someone that loves to cook – cookbooks are also a great gift. Selecting a healthy book or cookbook could have a huge impact on someone’s life and health – and their families’ too. Stay tuned, my next blog will include my top recommendations this year – several of these will be featured in my FREE Book Club – learn more/sign up here.
Vagus Nerve Articles and Studies:
Essential oils articles:
Do you look forward to the holiday lattes at Starbucks all year long?
People take their holiday lattes seriously – even the holiday cups are highly anticipated each year – last year when Starbucks released a plain red cup – people went crazy! Now, in 2016 – they went with a green cup, which was meant to symbolize unity – but people are freaking out because there is no red cup (Starbucks says the red is coming).
So many people enjoy indulging during the holidays with the special holiday latte drinks. But just one grande (16 oz.) latte has more than double the added sugar than a woman should get all day (approx. 50 grams of sugar, or 12 teaspoons)! So indulging too often, can mean we are consuming way too much extra sugar…and likely getting a head start on the holiday weight gain.
So I have made over your favorite holiday drink with less sugar & less guilt, and more healthy ingredients. And for the many people who can’t tolerate or are choosing to avoid dairy – the good news is that these holiday creamers are dairy free too!!
serves approximately 8
Put into a blender or a jar and use a hand blender – combine well. Taste & adjust as needed. Add approximately 1/4 cup to your coffee, optionally sprinkle a little cinnamon sugar on top. Pour any extra into a glass jar and store in refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Put all ingredients into a blender (or a jar and use a hand blender) – blend to combine well. Taste & adjust as needed. Add approximately 1/4 cup to your coffee. Optionally, grate a little dark chocolate on top (using a microplaner like this). Pour any extra into a glass jar and store in refrigerator for up to 3 days.
*Interested in learning more about the benefits and uses of Essential Oils? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to make a fruit salad that will stand out from the crowd? This is it!
The fresh mint and lime dressing really takes it to a whole other level. Kind of out of this world.
Great for Mother’s Day Brunch or any other celebration – or maybe “just because!”
Get the kids involved – kids love making and eating this fruit salad too!
If you want to make the melon balls and kiwi shapes – you will need the following equipment:
You could add any other fruit you like to this – grapes, pineapple, etc.
Or if you want to make this into a beautiful fruit skewer centerpiece – watch this video (you don’t need the lime and mint syrup for this)
I love making these mini omelettes in muffin tins – because they are easy and you always have leftovers. These are easy enough to get the kids involved – so why not make a batch for Mom for Mother’s Day? Bonus – because this makes quite a bit, there should be leftovers so mom won’t have to make breakfast on Monday either!!
Optional for serving:
Other good veggies to include in these: onions (I sauté these first), chopped tomatoes, red peppers, or your favorite.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
© copyright 2018 Sara Vance