Reprinted with permission from Naturally Nourished Cookbook by Ali Miller, RD, LD, CDE.
Avocados and chocolate? Naturally, it doesn’t sound like the most pleasing combination, but don’t knock it till you try it!
This is one of my most favorite decadent treats! Not only does it fulfill my chocolate craving needs, but the healthy fats in avocados are incredible for protecting against various cancers and heart disease! Plus, there is more potassium in avocados than bananas and they are a great source of vitamins E, K and folate.
1/2 cup of dates (Madjool)
3-4 tablespoons of 100% raw organic cocao powder
1-2 tablespoons of vanilla
Pinch of sea salt
Blend all ingredients together in a food processor. Scrape the sides with a spatula and continue to blend until smooth. Top it off with sea salt and serve with fresh fruit.
Paired with strawberries, this Avocado Chocolate Mousse will satisfy any sweet tooth.
Find Ali's cookbook with many delicious and nutritious recipes here.
Photo credit: Young Living blog - http://www.dgaryyoung.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/FrankincenseTree11.jpg
Oh the wonders of Frankincense (Boswellia carterii)!
Once considered to be more valuable than GOLD, this oil has been cultivated over centuries for it’s emotional, spiritual and healing properties for centuries. It’s value came from the reputation as the oil “used to treat every conceivable ill known to man”. This plant oil is mentioned in the Bible and there are records of it’s use dating back to the 16th Century B.C.E.
That’s all wonderful, but how does this serve me in modern times?
For one, it’s smell is extremely grounding, so it is a fantastic way to calm down and focus when my monkey mind gets caught on overdrive. (the monkey mind is a term coined to describe how the mind tends to overthink when not disciplined by meditation and grounding practices.) The oil (and the resin from the oil) are known to increase spiritual awareness, promote meditation, improve attitudes and uplift spirits.
There are also many healing effects from this oil, thus it is treasured by many natural health enthusiasts. It is currently being studied for it’s many powerful health effects and may eventually lead to potent medications to combat illness. What exciting time for this plant and for human health in general!
HOW TO USE FRANKINCENSE OIL:
My favorite use for the oil other than meditation and grounding, is topically on the skin. I just add a drop to my daily moisturizer and enjoy the way it makes my skin feel rejuvenated and fresh! It is touted as an anti-aging oil; who doesn’t need that!?
The oil is extremely potent, so I do recommend diluting the oil in either vegetable or jojoba oil and using it as a night-time anti-aging serum and immune booster. (P.S. - use at nighttime may help you sleep more soundly due to it’s calming effects!)
To learn more about the benefits of Frankincense and other potent essential oils, join my Let’s Get Oily Facebook group here.
Something stirred in me after reading a quote in an online Integrative Medicine newsletter I occasionally peruse. The quote was made by an Integrative Medicine practitioner I have never met somewhere in a far off land, however, it completely resonated with me and I want to share why.
Here’s what Roger Jahnke, OMD said, "No matter whom your doctor, what your health challenge, what medicine you are taking — always lead with self-care. You are the primary health care provider on your case."
When I read this, I thought, “Yes! Yes! Yes! He gets it! This is what I’ve been trying to say!” I mean, how incredible is this teaching?
For so long, people have been under the illusion that doctors, medications, pharmacies and healthcare institutions will save or fix them. We have come to the conclusion that “they (the powers that be) must be right, and we (the lowly individual) must be wrong”. In doing this, the locus of our control has been completely externalized to these institutions and the individual self has mostly been led to believe that they are powerless when it comes to health and healing.
For so long, we have driven to a clinic, seen a healthcare professional of some sort, explained the symptoms we’ve been experiencing and then walked away with a pill or a procedure or something to “fix” the issue. We have externalized all of our power to authorities other than ourselves, even sometimes against our better judgment.
But yet, we’re still sick. In fact, Americans are sicker than they’ve ever been before, as measured by the birth of the first generation of children estimated to die earlier than their parents in the history of the U.S. We are literally being poisoned, if not by food, then by environmental toxins and toxic behaviors and thoughts.
But fortunately, there is an alternative way of living that is emerging. It starts with going inward and seeing our individual truth, beauty and love. It continues with trusting ourselves to do research into health and wellness and from there, we make conscious health decisions for ourselves and our family members. That empowerment then trickles down and ripples around to everyone we encounter and finally we are living on our own terms. Not those dictated to us by an outdated, paternalistic institution.
This does not mean that we don't need doctors, health experts, hospitals and researchers! WE DO! But, we each must take our lives and our health back in to our hands and stop accepting the status quo.
We must start growing our own food, creating vibrant communities that support us instead of deplete us and we must shower ourselves with self-love and self-care as frequently as possible. We must move our bodies more and live closer to nature in order to reap the health benefits of these health behaviors. And we must stop telling ourselves that we don’t deserve love and happiness. Because, we all do!
But let’s be realistic, we don’t live in a Utopian world (as much as I wish we did!). We live in a very stressful modern society and we need simple solutions to improve our lives and health.
So, here are some simple action steps you can take RIGHT NOW to take control of your health (or improve it if you are relatively healthy):
1) Turn off the TV, especially the nightly news!
The media has created a circus of entertainment for us to consume solely using ratings as a measure. They do NOT have your best interest at heart! Even worse, they profit off of your fears. So, if you’re a news or social media junkie, consider limiting your screen (TV and computer) time to 1 show per day (or 30 minutes) and see how much more free time you create in your life. Imagine what you could do with all that free time!
Also consider that a constant loop of scary news blasting through your head is not great for your overall mental health.
I’ve had numerous patients tell me they have chronic sleep issues and this is the first thing I tell them to do. Turn off the screens (the bright light shuts down melatonin production which causes irregular sleep habits), take a calming bath and get a good night’s rest (sans fear and worry).
2) Go outside!
Ok, now that the screens are off (or at least, they are no longer taking up as much of your time) I advise you GO OUTSIDE! See, as we have evolved in this country, we have built beautiful, sprawling cities as vast as you can imagine. And thanks to the internet, we have everything at our fingertips! But, what we unfortunately cannot replace is the nurturing and soul-nourishing time we need in nature. Yes, I said NEED!
Being in nature is actually not an optional thing for us. I try to encourage it as much as possible as there are actually scientific studies showing the benefits of being in nature. One study I recall measured cortisol levels (the hormone associated with the stress reaction of “fight or flight” induced when facing dangers) in people walking in a forest versus walking in a concrete jungle (the city). Link Nor surprisingly, the cortisol levels of those walking in nature were significantly lower than those walking in the city. Another study shows similar benefits in people engaged in forest “bathing” (defined as “taking in” the atmosphere of the forest) in Japan. Link
I mean, nature is healing in so many ways. Study after study shows that our more hygienic, less natural lives are causing a great deal of dis-ease or illness in society. This is likely related to our less diverse microbiomes (the bacteria that live inside and on top of us) that are no longer flourishing due to, among various factors, a lack of encounters with nature.
Thus, spending time in nature, IS ESSENTIAL!
I know what you Southerners are saying, “it’s too hot and there are
too many mosquitos”. These are definitely things to contend with
when stepping outside, but finding an early or late time of
day to go for a walk or swim during the long summer months can serve wonders for your health. And you can always make a homemade Bug Away spray with essential oils. (Find the recipe here) The benefits of being in nature FAR outweigh the risks of staying sedentary inside all day. Even a 20 minute walk does wonders for the nervous system!
3) Create LOVING community.
Of all of the actions I recommend to people for improving their overall health, this recommendation actually has the one with the most umph behind it. In fact, you can eat an impeccably healthy diet, exercise daily, never smoke, drink or take risks in your life and still be unhappy and unhealthy.
In fact, I’d say people who become vigilant about their health, actually tend to isolate themselves. This has implications in that, we as human beings, are social creatures. Therefore, we NEED interaction with others. Not only do we need interactions to thrive, we need LOVING interactions.
Interacting with negative, predatory people is NOT a healthful choice
for anyone. And it is particularly debilitating when events occur with these types of people during childhood. Much damage can be done by interacting with these people as children and, unfortunately, the body and soul may hold on to such trauma for a lifetime. Link (Hence my belief in seeking adequate mental and spiritual support throughout the lifetime).
The power of loving, supportive community is being increasingly
recognized in medical research. In fact, it is a key component of the Mediterranean Diet that has been found to be one of the most healthful diets in the world. In Greece and coastal islands in the Mediterranean, people live a slower pace of life. They live with older and younger family members (intergenerational homes) and spend a lot of leisure time together. They grow their own vegetables, walk a lot and live more simply. They may attend church together and many of them also fast intermittently according to the Greek Orthodox calendar. These are some of the secrets to the success of the Mediterranean Diet with community being at the center.
Other examples of community creating power include the Seventh-Day Adventist community of Loma Linda, California and the elder communities of Okinawa, Japan. They, along with other communities around the globe live close to each other, share value systems and even check up on each other on a regular basis. All of these behaviors affect the mental health and longevity of the people living there. You can read more about them on the Blue Zones website.
In a recently published study of over 250 male Harvard students spanning 75-years, a team of Harvard researchers found that those men reporting loving personal connections and/or purposeful work rated the highest on happiness scales. And we all know that happiness spills over to physical and mental health.
There are many other action steps you can take right now to turn the tide of disease and suffering. However, for the sake of brevity, I will stop there. (The average American now has a very short attention span!).
What I really want to reiterate to everyone is that YOU ARE POWERFUL BEYOND MEASURE! You, like everyone around you, has the ability to create a healthful body and mind. You don’t have to put up with toxic relationships, overwhelming work hours and toxic insults on your body in the form of food, drink and household products. You can create a new reality – one in which you feel energized and live with vitality!
So, how does Dr. Jahnke’s statement resonate with you?
P.S. – I do not mean to minimize the importance of seeking professional guidance from doctors, etc., for medical issues. Modern medicine is a gift to many and we are blessed to have it! However, it is my belief that our current healthcare system is not set up to manage chronic, underlying disease states and thus, we must be our own health advocates. The current medical system is useful and needed and many of the people involved in it are extremely altruistic and loving. They are my friends, teachers and colleagues. But, they too admit that we are in over our heads in terms of chronic disease management.
Thank you for reading!
1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19568835 - accessed May 21st, 2017.
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18336737 - accessed May 22nd, 2017.
3. https://bluezones.com/2016/11/power-9/ accessed May 21st, 2017.
4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27450581 - accessed May 22nd, 2017.
Lavender essential oil has long held the title of being the “Swiss Army knife” of essential oils as it has a multitude of beneficial effects on the body. It’s strong, yet gentle properties help with relaxation, inducing sleep and a calm state-of-being as well as with creating mental alertness and increasing concentration (Motomura, 2001, Diego, et al., 1998). The oil is also known to facilitate healing of cuts and wounds and to give skin a healthy glow.
According to Le Musee de la Lavande (the Lavender Museum), the word lavender come from the Latin root “lavare”, which means “to wash”, as it was used to scent baths in Roman times. It was also used to disinfect surfaces in homes and hospitals in Europe during times of viral outbreaks.
True lavender takes the scientific name Lavendula angustifolia. It’s plant cousin, Lavandin (Lavandula intermedia) is a hybrid plant used as a cheaper alternative to true lavender in many essential oil formulas, so, as with all essential oils, it is important to know your source and to try to obtain the highest quality oils available. This is why I recommend Young Living Essential Oils – insert link to my purchase page.
There are many ways to use lavender essential oil: 1) Aromatically - on a cotton ball, in a spray bottle mister or diffused through a cold water diffuser; 2) Internally - using empty vegetable capsules from the health food store and a carrier oil like almond oil or vegetable oil; or 3) Topically - diluted or neat.
I personally like to put some on my pillow at night for a good night’s rest. I also add it to my daily moisturizer routine (along with frankincense oil) to reduce formation of lines and wrinkles. Lavender essential oil is even gentle enough for kids and for pets. But, remember, a few drops of a therapeutic grade essential oil goes a long way.
How might you benefit from the use of therapeutic grade lavender oil in your life?
Are you interested in learning more about the benefits of therapeutic-grade essential oils? If so, comment below or contact me in the Contact section.
Green Kale Detox Soup
Recipe reprinted with permission from
Use this easy method of making soup using just about any ingredients! Just simmer some broth, add some vegetables and herbs, cook until tender, then puree. The key is a very flavorful bone broth.
4 to 5 cups homemade chicken or turkey bone broth*
1/2 pound fresh or frozen green beans, chopped
4 small zucchini, chopped (about 1 pound)
1/2 bunch green onions, chopped
2 teaspoons dried marjoram
1/2 bunch kale, chopped
1 large handful fresh parsley
sea salt, to taste
Place broth into a 3-quart pot and bring to a simmer. Add the green beans, zucchini, green onions, and marjoram. Cover and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until just barely tender. Add the kale and parsley and simmer 1 to 2 minutes more. Turn off heat and use a stainless steel immersion blender to puree the soup right in the pot. Taste and add sea salt to taste. Serve.
Store extra soup in glass mason jars in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat as needed.
*Note: This soup really tastes best with a flavorful homemade bone broth, but if you are vegan or vegetarian you can use a homemade vegetable stock or plain water (you may need to add some extra dried or fresh herbs for more flavor if using water).
Low-FODMAP Variation: Use only the green parts of the green onion. If you are extremely sensitive to FODMAPS or have severe IBS or SIBO, then consider making a low-FODMAP bone broth using only chicken bones (skin and ligaments removed), carrots, parsley, bay leaf, peppercorns, chives, and other fresh herbs. Some of the compounds in the animal cartilage can irritate the guts of these individuals until full healing takes place.
Happy Happy New Year to you all!!!
I hope you spent meaningful time with family, friends and even your own self these holidays and that you are feeling refreshed and ready to take on 2017!
I'm starting the year off with some really fun projects, including these videos with my amazing integrative PA friend, Erica Benedicto Pa-C!
We aim to educate the world about the benefits of Integrative Medicine and thought video can more accurately capture our passion. So here goes...!
What are feeling passionate about???
As we enter the end of summer, some of you may be worried about the sun damage you accumulated the last few months. Hopefully you stayed out of the sun during the hottest times of the day and/or used UV protective gear or non-toxic sunscreen to prevent sunburns (I LOVE Beauty Counter's sunscreen, just for the record!).
But, even if you did accumulate a few extra wrinkles this summer, you may be interested in a study I just learned about. A study that found a DECREASE in facial wrinkles and an INCREASE in skin elasticity (the "stretchiness" or ability of the skin to go back to its original form) in healthy women who consumed 320 mg of cocoa bean flavanols.
Flavanols are the compounds found in cocoa and other superfoods like green tea, berries and apples, that help protect our cells from damage. They are one of the health promoting components found in cocoa beans that give dark chocolate and raw cocoa such great reputations for health.
And man, do I LOVE delicious food that LOVES us back!
The particular study I just read was just published in the Journal of Nutrition. The researchers randomized 64 participants in to 2 groups: the cocoa group and the placebo group (man, I'd be mad if I was in the placebo group on this one!).
The cocoa group received 4 grams of cocoa powder that was processed for flavanol preservation (320 mg) while the placebo group consumed a cocoa-flavored beverage without flavanols but containing the same nutrient profile.
After 12 weeks of drinking their respective beverages, participants in the cocoa group were found to have significantly increased skin elasticity than the placebo group. And after 24 weeks, the average and maximum roughness of the cocoa group was lower than the placebo group, which correlates to fewer wrinkles according to the authors.
There was even a subset of participants that underwent UV radiation on a different part of their body. The ones who did this and were randomized to the cocoa group, showed overall improvement in protective effects to the UV light when compared to placebo.
Although the best prevention of UV skin damage is staying out of the sun during intense UV times of the day (10 am to 3 pm) and/or using protective gear when outside for more than 10 minutes at a time, cocoa flavanols taken daily may be a tasty way to prevent skin damage.
For the best benefit, I recommend raw cocoa or cocoa powder in a daily smoothie or hot beverage.
I know chocoholics will love this post!
To your health,
Want to learn more tips and tricks to improve your health? Contact West Holistic Medicine to schedule a consultation with Dr. Maltz today! 512-814-0148
I'm so EXCITED to blend the best of what I've learned over the last 15 years in order to transform your health!
Please watch the video below to hear what the program involves and let me know if you have any questions about it.
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To Your Health,
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common motility disorder of the gastrointestinal (GI) system, affecting up to about 15% of the U.S. population, according to epidemiologic studies. In fact, this disorder is very personal to me as I, like many college-aged women, dealt with a severe form of IBS in my late teenage years and early 20s.
The syndrome is characterized by abnormal stooling patterns consisting of chronic constipation, chronic diarrhea or alternating constipation and diarrhea. Frequent complaints associated with the syndrome include, but are not limited to, abdominal bloating, abdominal pain that is relieved by having a bowel movement and a sense of urgency in getting to the bathroom in order to have a bowel movement. IBS typically affects females more commonly than males and is associated with acute and chronic stress as well as anxiety, depression and other psychological disorders.
It is a commonly seen condition in primary care clinics and there are some medications that can help along with many effective natural treatments for the condition. The purpose of this article is to highlight some of the natural treatments available for IBS.
Because IBS is a diagnosis of exclusion (meaning there is no definitive test for the syndrome and the diagnosis is made by ruling out other conditions), diagnosis is not made by any blood work or other tests. Diagnosis is instead made by taking a thorough history from a patient.
Based on the symptoms experienced, IBS is then characterized in to one of three categories: Constipation-Predominant IBS (IBS-C), Diarrhea-Predominant IBS (IBS-D), or Mixed-type IBS (IBS-A). If a physician suspects a more serious illness is occurring in the GI tract, other tests such as a colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy and/or upper GI endoscopy can be performed. These are not generally done to diagnose IBS.
Natural Cures for IBS include but are not limited to the following suggestions:
Stress management – Acute or chronic stress plays a major role in the pathophysiology of IBS. This likely occurs due to changes in neurotransmitters (specifically serotonin and adrenaline) and nerve firing in the gut. When we are stressed, our adrenaline levels increase and digestion shuts down. This is due to blood being shunted towards the brain, heart and large muscle groups and away from the digestive tract in order to allow our bodies to flee if in danger. When this occurs, we are in what is called the “fight or flight” response.
To improve gut function, one needs to activate the “rest and digest” parasympathetic nervous system. When this response is activated, our adrenaline levels decline and we feel a sense of calm take over us. It is then that our digestion can occur effectively and most efficiently.
Acupuncture – Because acupuncture works by decreasing the fight or flight response of the body, it can be a very useful tool for IBS. The medical studies done on it to date, have shown mixed reviews, however, in my personal practice, I find it to be extremely effective.
Probiotics - Probiotics, and the foods that support probiotic growth, know as pre-biotics, are also research-proven to help with IBS symptoms. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2886445/
There are thousands of different types of bacteria in the gut and therefore it is difficult to know where to start with a probiotic. I recommend restoring the beneficial yeast, Sacchromyces Boulardii (aka S. boulardii) first and rotating with a different probiotic every few months.
Dietary Changes - Many patients find relief from IBS by removing dairy and gluten from their diets as proteins such as gluten and casein (found in cow’s milk) in these foods cause inflammation in the gut leading to IBS and inflammatory bowel disease.
Simply removing dairy and gluten from the diet can dramatically help many people with IBS.
When that doesn’t do the trick, the FODMAPs diet can be helpful.
FODMAPS Diet – This acronym for a diet is quite a mouthful when it is spelled out but can be very helpful for those with IBS.
The acronym FODMAPS stands for “Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Monosaccharides And Polyols”. These compounds are found in many fruits and vegetables and in all beans and legumes. They are thought to worsen gut function by an unknown mechanism in some individuals suffering from IBS. Therefore, a low FODMAPS diet can be beneficial for those with IBS. For more information, please see: https://stanfordhealthcare.org/content/dam/SHC/for-patients-component/programs-services/clinical-nutrition-services/docs/pdf-lowfodmapdiet.pdf
Movement - Physical activity and movement is one of the most important things one can do to prevent and treat medical problems. Physical activity is particularly important in the treatment of IBS and has been clinically proven to improve symptoms of the illness. Anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes of physical activity a day can greatly improve IBS symptoms. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/737389.
Meditation – Meditation engages the Relaxation Response that is crucial in decreasing the sympathetic tone of the gut. The gastrointestinal tract consists of 100 million nerve endings and is overseen by the brain. One part of the nervous system, the parasympathetic nervous system, is mostly in charge of digestion, thus proper engagement of the parasympathetic function is necessary for optimal digestion.
One way to learn to meditate is by doing deep belly breathing. This type of breathing is a learned skill that occurs when you focus on allowing an inward breath to inflate your lungs and your abdomen. The increased amount of oxygen in your body automatically normalizes the stress response and can lead to your heart rate and blood pressure lowering. It’s a practical, portable and FREE modality that can be learned at any age!
A wonderful technique I learned in my Integrative Medicine Fellowship is Dr. Weil’s 4-7-8 breath. http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/VDR00112/The-4-7-8-Breath-Benefits-and-Demonstration.html
If you have a hard time learning how to do deep belly breathing on your own, you can learn from most psychotherapists and/or yoga teachers.
For constipation-predominant IBS:
Water – Most Americans don’t drink enough water. This inhibits gut function as the colon and kidneys are responsible for reabsorbing the precise amount of water from the intestinal lumen (where the food goes) in order to keep the delicate balance of hydration going in the body. I recommend at least eight tall glasses of water per day and more for those who are constipated or who work outside or live at high altitudes. In this case, water is your friend!
Aloe vera – We all know and love this plant for it’s external healing effects on skin. But many people are unaware that they can reap the same benefits by drinking the juice that comes from the inner fillet of the plant. In fact, aloe vera juice is one of my most favorite recommendations for constipation-dominant IBS. It can also be useful in diarrhea-predominant IBS.
The way aloe vera works in the gut is still unknown, however, it basically coats and soothes the digestive tract allowing for better transit of fecal matter. But, be forewarned, the whole leaf of the plant is a STRONG cathartic laxative – meaning you will clear out your bowels in a very dramatic way if you ingest it! Therefore, I recommend 1-2 oz. of the juice from INNER FILET ONLY! And make sure you get an unflavored or flavored bottle if you are sensitive to tastes as aloe vera juice can be very bitter if left untouched.
For diarrhea-predominant IBS:
Enteric-coated peppermint oil – Peppermint has long been known for it’s useful digestive properties. Fortunately, the medical scientific literature has found similar results in that patients with IBS generally find significant improvement in their symptoms when taking peppermint oil. The key to the remedy here, though, is the delivery system.
Enteric-coated peppermint oil is created for digestion in the small intestine and thus works it’s magical effects there and not in the stomach. In this formulation, the herb works just as well as many anti-spasmotic medications for IBS. It is extremely safe to use with the main adverse reaction being heartburn due to the menthol in the peppermint plant itself. Thus, it is not to be taken if you have GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disorder) or are prone to developing heartburn. I recommend taking one capsule of the enteric-coated oil it 30 minutes before a meal for best results.
As you can see, there are many effective, natural ways to manage Irritable Bowel Syndrome. It is best to work with a knowledgeable healthcare practitioner to figure out which techniques may work best for you.
It's the question I get most frequently about my practice and one of the most important! Why do I not take health insurance as payment? Find out in this blog post.
I'd love to hear your thoughts! Happy Wednesday!
DISCLAIMER: The content of this website does not serve as medical advice nor does it substitute for a thorough medical
evaluation by a qualified health care practitioner. It also does not represent the opinions of any of the medical institiutions or practitioners mentioned.
Consult a physician or local health care provider before changing any medications, diet or exercise regimen.