WHAT MEDITATION HAS TO DO WITH GUT HEALTH

WHAT MEDITATION HAS TO DO WITH GUT HEALTH

When you think of meditation you probably don’t associate it with better digestion and gut health. I know I didn’t until I learned just how much stress influences our gut health and just how powerful meditation is for decreasing stress.

What Evolution Has to do With Healthy Digestion

Issues like leaky gut often come from living a high-stress lifestyle. Most of us are under a lot of stress in today’s world. When you’re feeling anxious or rushed, your body goes into fight or flight. This is a survival mechanism that’s been with us since long before our frontal lobes developed. Back when we had to struggle just to survive, fight or flight was useful, but nowadays we don’t have to fight off predators and run for our lives (at least not often). This response to external stress kicks in anytime something triggers our stress response.

When your body is in fight or flight it isn’t able to direct much energy towards proper digestion. The food we take in when we’re in a hurry, working, or worried just sits in our guts until we’ve calmed down enough to initiate digestion. But a person’s still gotta eat and that’s where things get tricky. If you want healthy digestion, more energy, clear skin and a calm nervous system, meditation is one the answers.

How Meditation Helps Our Digestion

Learning and practicing meditation over time helps to decrease stress and turn off the fight or flight response that many people are all too familiar with. The nervous system and the gut are inextricably linked. Humans were never designed to be stressed out all the time, and when we learn to calm our nervous systems our health improves dramatically.

When you get used to tuning into your breath and releasing stressful negative thought patterns your digestion will improve, you’ll have more energy for fun activities and life will seem a whole lot less overwhelming.

Easy Ways to Incorporate Meditation in your Life
  • Simply taking even 5-10 minutes a day to sit down in a quiet comfortable place and focus on the breath is enough to make a difference.
  • Set aside time each day to do nothing but breathe. Allow any thoughts that arise to drift away without attachment.
  • HeadSpace happens to be one of my favorite apps that you can use to help you easily make meditation a part of your life.

Mediation and deep breathing are just one part of the puzzle.  If you’re seriously interested in getting healthy, restoring your digestion and boosting your energy then check out my comprehensive Restore your Gut & Thrive Program! In the program you get  group and personalized coaching, a ton of delicious satisfying recipes as well as strategies that will help rebuild your intestinal flora. Check it out today!

 

strawberry rhubarb – chocolate tart (paleo, gluten free & dairy free)

We had a pile of fresh rhubarb and fresh strawberries in front of us and we knew we wanted a dessert, but a crisp didn’t sound good.  I looked at my husband and told him to figure out a compote style layer with the fruit and I would figure out the other layers.  I right away grabbed my spring form pan, lined it with parchment paper and whipped up a almond flour (which was on sale this week at EarthFare) and coconut flour crust (it’s a common recipe that floats around in the paleo baking world).  While that was baking, I started tossing chocolate and coconut milk in a pan to cook to make a chocolate cream layer.  I tossed in Grassfed gelatin into the chocolate layer and into the compote layer to help it thicken up.  We use grassfed gelatin for it’s gut healing properties, but any type gelatin would work (our favorite is Vital Proteins, but I also like Great Lakes Brand).

Our first time making this, I just threw some gelatin into the cooking fruit.  I know better, but I did it anyway, resulting in clumps of gelatin.  So we threw the whole mixture into our blender to fix that. What I envisioned as a “compote” layer of cooked fruit, became more of a smooth gelatin like layer, which ended up working perfectly.  Our last minute, randomly thrown together dessert, ended up being a wonderful combination of flavors and has been made more than once this summer and was even made for Fathers Day to share with my family.
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strawberry rhubarb - chocolate tart (paleo, gluten free & dairy free)
 
Ingredients
  • For the Crust:
  • 1.5 cups of almond flour
  • ¾ cup of shredded coconut
  • 2 Tbsp. of melted coconut oil
  • 2 Tbsp. of maple syrup or honey
  • pinch of sea salt
  • For the Chocolate Cream Layer:
  • 1 can of full fat coconut milk
  • 8 oz dark chocolate chips (for dairy free, make sure you check them)
  • 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp. grassfed gelatin
  • For the Strawberry Rhubarb Gelatin Layer:
  • 4 cups strawberries, chopped
  • 2 cups rhubarb, chopped
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp. grassfed gelatin
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. combine almond flour, coconut, coconut oil, maple syrup and sea salt in a food processor and pulse together until it begins to clump.
  3. press dough into a spring form pan that has the bottom lined with a piece of parchment paper.
  4. Bake for 12 -15 minutes until the crust is slightly browned.
  5. Remove from oven and let cool.
  6. move on to making the chocolate layer, by warming the coconut milk up in a pan on medium heat.
  7. When the milk is warm, whisk in the cocoa powder, maple syrup and the chocolate chips.
  8. Remove from heat and sprinkle the surface with your gelatin, add it slowly and let it absorb in off the surface and whisk it in before adding more. *you do not want to just dump it in, or you will end up with clumps* **if you do get clumps, just run the chocolate mixer through your blender.**
  9. Once the gelatin is incorporated, pour the chocolate layer into the crust and place in the fridge.
  10. Then move on to the strawberry rhubarb layer.
  11. On medium- low heat, start cooking down the strawberries, rhubarb, water and maple syrup.
  12. I let it cook down for about 20 minutes, until the fruit was starting to break down.
  13. slowly add in the gelatin and then pour entire mix into your blender and gently blend until mixture is smooth. I let cool for a about 15 minutes in the blender.
  14. Pour fruit mixture on top of chocolate layer and place back into the fridge to set up. I let mine sit for at least 2 hours.
  15. When it is chilled, release the spring form pan and cut into slices.

 

Cabbage Hash (My Easy Version of Polish Golumpki) – Gluten Free

Finishing up some more of our favorite winter recipes, I thought I would share my cabbage hash.  This is actually what we had for dinner tonight because I had a half a head of green and half a head of red cabbage left over from this weekend in which we had fish tacos and a pulled pork/cumin cole slaw tacos (I will share both of those recipes later).  This dish is inspired by traditional Polish Golumpki…which are a stuffed cabbage roll…  I have made them once, and then just realized that the effort to make cabbage rolls is more time than I typically want to spend on dinner, so I created a “one pot” hash version.  We eat a lot of cabbage over the winter months, so finding different ways to prepare it helps with variety in our weekly meals.

It’s a pretty basic dish, with ground beef, cabbage, tomatoes (I add tomatoes with green chilies because we like the extra spice) onion, and rice.  I typically use Earth Fare’s grassfed ground beef for this dish when they have it on sale, but many times I will split half beef/half ground pork, since their grassfed beef is so lean.

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Cabbage Hash (My Easy Version of Polish Golumpki) - Gluten Free
author: 
 
Ingredients
  • ½ head of green cabbage
  • ½ head of red cabbage
  • ½ a small yellow onion
  • 2 lbs of ground beef (or half beef/half pork)
  • 1 can of tomatoes with green chilies
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1½ cups of white basmati rice
  • 3-4 cups of water
Instructions
  1. Finely dice the yellow onion and brown the onion and ground beef in a large dutch oven
  2. Drain off any excess grease
  3. Roughly chop the cabbage
  4. Add cabbage, cans of tomatoes, basmati rice and 3 of the cups of water to the pot and simmer on medium heat (with the lid on for about an hour)
  5. Stir every 10-15 minutes and add the additional cup of water if it is starting to dry out
  6. Dish is done when the rice is tender (approximately an hour)
  7. Add salt and pepper to taste

 

Pork Lettuce Wraps – a Gluten Free, Quick Dinner

2015 for me, is all about simplifying.  So far in January, I have already downsized every closet in our upstairs, organized my pantry and am starting to work on clearing every unused item out of our basement.  I have also, consolidated nutritional supplements and am working hard to actually do a meal plan each week, just to make my life simpler, grocery shopping easier and to waste less.  Meals are also becoming more one pot style and I am loving the reduced cleanup.

This recipe is one that we have made regularly for the past few years.  It is quick, simple and can feed a lot of people and we will often make this when we vacation with friends.  I am not actually sure where the origin of the recipe began at.  I learned it from my sister, but it’s one of those recipes, that you can be fairly flexible with and add and omit items easily.

Here is our favorite version of Pork Lettuce Wraps.  You can easily substitute, gound beef, turkey or chicken, but ground pork was on sale the other day at our local Earth Fare and we like these best with pork.

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Pork Lettuce Wraps - a Gluten Free, Quick Dinner
author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs of ground pork
  • 2 bags of broccoli slaw (or 4- 6 cups of shredded broccoli, carrots and red cabbage)
  • 16 oz portabella mushrooms
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 2-3 Tbsp. Gluten free soy sauce (we use San-Jay Organic Tamari)
  • Pepper to taste
  • 2 cups white basmati rice + water or bone broth
  • Head of Romaine Lettuce
Instructions
  1. Make 2 cups of dried rice in a rice cooker with bone broth or water (can be made on the stove).
  2. Wash and tear off romaine lettuce leaves and set aside.
  3. Brown ground pork with fresh garlic cloves in large skillet.
  4. Add in sliced portabella mushrooms and reduce down for 3-4 minutes over medium heat.
  5. Add in broccoli slaw and cook for an additional 5 minutes, until vegetables are starting to wilt, but remain slightly crunchy.
  6. Stir soy sauce in and cook down for a few more minutes. I always start with about 2 Tablespoons and slowly add more to taste (this really is determined by how salty you want the dish).
  7. Serve meat mixture on top romaine lettuce and white rice.

 

Holiday Smoothie – Cranberry Vanilla Orange Chia

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I have never really been someone who runs out and buys cranberries for Thanksgiving.  I don’t mind them, but I don’t have many recipes that I typically use them in.  The last few weeks, every time I have walked into our local Earth Fare, I am greeted by a big tub of “scoop your own” cranberries.  They are bright, fresh and just look cheerful, so I bought a bag (which ended up being a lot), because my almost 4-year old helped scoop them.

I was then left trying to find creative uses for fresh cranberries, so I decided to test out a smoothie.  The only sweetener in it, is from the bananas and the orange juice, so it makes a crisp tart tasting smoothie that became a family hit and is perfect for the Thanksgiving holiday.  Seriously, my 17 month old, downed his smoothie faster than any smoothie I have ever made for him.

I used full fat coconut milk (Native Forest is our favorite) and added chia seeds to give it a boost of fats and make it super filling. I love the addition of vanilla to this smoothie, as it give the cranberries and orange an extra pop.  Definitely will become a regular in our favorite smoothie recipes!

Holiday Smoothie - Cranberry Vanilla Orange Chia
author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 heaping cup of fresh cranberries (frozen work also)
  • 1 cup of full fat coconut milk
  • 2 bananas
  • ¾ cup orange juice
  • 1-2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 T. chia seeds
  • 1 cup of ice
Instructions
  1. Throw all your ingredients in your high-powered blender and blend until smooth.
  2. If smoothie is to tart, you can always adjust by adding a little honey.
  3. Enjoy!

 

gluten free pecan oat apple crisp

It’s that time of year, where apples are abundant everywhere.  They are the feature sale item at most grocery stores (our local Earth Fare has had multiple varieties on sale for $0.88/lb).  I currently have a batch of apple butter cooking in the crock pot,  am planning on canning apple sauce this weekend and spent a morning earlier this week at one of our favorite local apple orchards (tuttles orchard) for my middle sons field trip. My favorite apples to cook with are golden delicious.

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One of my favorite desserts to make is apple crisp.  Actually, I make all sorts of crisps…they are a quick and easy gluten free dessert and many times people will have no idea they are gluten free.  I rarely make them the same (and typically just throw unmeasured ingredients together), but this version, happens to be one of our favorite combinations.  It is a very simple combination of gluten free rolled oats (I use Bob Red Mills), ground pecans, tapioca starch, chia seeds, coconut oil,  sugar, cinnamon and vanilla.  For people who are intimidated by baking a gluten free dessert, I always suggest trying a crisp first, because many combinations of ingredients will work.  I use my nifty little apple corer/peeler only a few times a year (I just usually forget I have it), but my kids love helping slices the apples with it.

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gluten free pecan oat apple crisp
author: 
recipe type: dessert
 
Ingredients
  • 8-10 medium golden delicious apples (enough to make a thick layer in 13 x 9 pan)
  • 2 cups gluten free rolled oats
  • 1 cup pecan pieces
  • ½ cup tapioca starch
  • ½ cup coconut oil (melted) or butter
  • ¼ cup chia seeds
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 T. cinnamon (divided)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup cane sugar (divided)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ¼ tsp celtic sea salt
Instructions
  1. Peel, core and chop your apples.
  2. Layer in bottom of a 13 x 9 pan.
  3. Sprinkle ¼ cup of cane sugar and 1 T. of cinnamon on top of the apples and then pour the 1 cup of water and 1 tsp vanilla in.
  4. In another bowl mix together the oats, pecans, tapioca starch, chia seeds, remaining cinnamon, sea salt, brown sugar and remaining ¼ cup of cane sugar.
  5. Mix together well and then pour ½ cup of melted coconut oil over the top.
  6. Work together with you hands and little crumbles will start to form.
  7. Spread crumbles across the top of the apples.
  8. Bake at 400 for 15 minutes, then reduce to 300 and bake for 45-60 minutes, until topping is lightly brown and apples are tender.
  9. *Hint - we like our topping ground a bit finer, so I run my oats and pecans through my vita-mix grain bin. (a food processor works well also).