Nutty for Nut Butters? Try This!

 I am a huge fan of nut butters but let’s face it, they can be expensive! Not only that,  but some nut butter brands have added salt, sugars and preservatives.  But if you buy your own raw nuts and spend a little time and love, you can make your own nut butters for your family! Believe it or not, nut butters are very easy to make. And in an era when more kids are restricted from taking peanut butter to school due to allergies, nut butters are a great option.

My favorite is almond butter. It contains a higher amount of essential fatty acids. Uh oh, does the word ‘fat’ freak you out a bit? Don’t worry, it’s unsaturated fat which is heart healthy. Almond butter also has the most fiber and 8 times the amount of calcium as peanut butter.

All you need is a little sense of adventure and a high powered blender. Here’s how I do it. [Read more...]

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3 Fall Recipes Every Busy Mom Should Have

clockYou know that moment you look at the clock and think ‘Where did the day go?’ Well, it happened to me again. In fact, it’s been happening a lot lately. I  don’t know why, but this time of year everything seems to speed up. Maybe it’s because the kids are busier at school or because my-to-do list gets longer the closer I get to the end of the year or because the stores are already decked out for Christmas and it’s not even Halloween! Deep breath. Release. I would love for time to slow down. It’s so easy to slack on the healthy eating when you are always on the go. Trust me, I know it can be tough to feed your family healthy when are trying to pack it all in. That’s why I want to share 3 Fall recipes every busy mom should have (along with a little advice on the side).  [Read more...]

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Healthy Tailgate Recipes Even The Pickiest Eaters Will Love!

     tailgate feature

     My husband and I just recently moved our family from the suburbs back to the city. In the past few years, we’ve thrown football parties at our home. But now, instead of the living room, we find ourselves gathering with hundreds of other football fans in a parking lot full of food, cornhole and music! Something about it reminds me of college! There aren’t many opportunities in the adult world to blow off a whole afternoon and just hang out with friends. This past weekend we tailgated family style, with friends and kids of all ages. I love the rare chance for a day off from housework and responsibilities.

     Let’s be honest, that’s what a tailgate is really about. That, and the food. Lots of food. But football season doesn’t have to be the off-season for your healthy diet. There are lots ways you can put a healthy spin on the traditional tailgate foods of chips and dips and yes, even chicken wings!

     I’ve created some go-to recipes that won’t leave you feeling bad after you indulge. You’ll still be able to chat and crunch and munch and fill up before the game but you’ll be filling your body with a healthier fuel that will last longer.

     First, a few tips to help you live healthy and love life at your next tailgate. [Read more...]

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How to Conquer Hydration

Staying hydrated is so important.  Dehydration occurs when you lose more fluid than you take in, and your body doesn’t have enough water and other fluids to carry out its normal functions. If you don’t replace lost fluids, you can get dehydrated.  It can effect anyone from an infant to the elderly. 

When I had cancer 10 years ago, I had to take a hard look at the alkalinity in my body.  Since cancer thrives in an acidic body, I had to make sure that I was keeping my body as alkaline as possible.  When I was diagnosed, my body was very acidic. Cancer and sickness thrives in an acidic body, so I started to quickly change my diet and drink choices to make sure they were helping my body’s pH to stay in balance and to help by body stay slightly more alkaline than acidic. 

Most of us know that vomiting, fever, sweating and excessive urination are major causes of dehydration.  But, what you may not be aware of is there are certain foods and drinks that can cause severe dehydration as well.  [Read more...]

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What Cancer Taught Me: 10 years Later, 8 Rules To Live By For Total Health

Brooke on couch with tea 4-23-2014 11-58-35 PM

It was one of the scariest moments of my life. I’m talking the kind of moment that drops you to your knees.

I was 26 years old and 4 weeks pregnant and I was told I had stage 3 Melanoma. Doctors feared it could be spreading hard and fast.  

I had two choices. I could start chemo and lose the baby or undergo surgery to cut the cancer out. But because I was pregnant, anesthetic wasn’t an option.  I’ll spare you the details of having surgery using only topical lidocaine for pain.  I ended up with 50 stitches and a scar that to this day changes the way I look at life. When I took a chance on surgery vs. chemo, I had no idea if I was picking the right path for my health, but I knew I was choosing the right path for my family. [Read more...]

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Curious About Alkaline Water?

Maintaining your body’s pH balance is extremely important to your health.  When your pH is balanced at a normal healthy level, your body is slightly more alkaline instead of acidic.  Our standard American diets are packed with acidic foods (fast, fried and fake).  Plus, we are more stressed and exposed to more environmental toxins than ever, and this can make balancing our pH levels difficult. 

Are you confused by what acidity means?  The difference between acidity and alkalinity may be a bit confusing, so here is a chart to help you see the differences.  

alkaline-acidity-food-chartIf you really start to pay attention, for the most part, the unhealthy foods are the most acidic to consume.  Did you know that soda is one of the most acidic substances you can put into your body?  This acidic condition creates an ideal environment for sickness to thrive.  When we are acidic, our bodies will borrow minerals from our bones, teeth and organs to try to neutralize the acidity.  High acid levels can cause multiple problems like diarrhea, osteoporosis, anxiety, rheumatoid arthritis, and compromised immune systems and cell health.  [Read more...]

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Why Supplement?

America: Undernourished and Overfed

The Standard American Diet (ironically called the S.A.D. DIET) is a major contributing factor to many of the health problems that Americans are facing today.  Shockingly, America ranks 37th in longevity behind countries such as Cuba, Chile, Costa Rica, and Greece although we spend more than twice the amount of money on medical technology and pharmaceutical innovations as compared to other developed nations.  Additionally, fast food sales have increased almost 2000% over the past 30 years, which is also an indicator of the lack of nutrients in the majority of the convenience foods that Americans eat on a daily basis.  Unfortunately, our super busy lifestyles are driving us to make poor food choices that are having a dramatic negative effect on our overall health.  We also are bombarded with products that are marketed as “healthy” foods that are actually filled with sugar, fat, dyes and artificial ingredients.  I love the famous quote by Hippocrates who said “let thy food be thy medicine.”  If he lived in America today, his quote would be laughable!

Our Food is Not Our Grandparent’s Food

Fruits and vegetables are increasingly lower in certain nutrients that make them beneficial to our health. An unfortunate drop in mineral content translates that the apples of today are nowhere near as good for us as the apples our grandparents ate 50 years ago.  Our bodies thrive off of the nutrients from our food.  Our bodies were also designed to heal themselves by using those same nutrients; however, the reality is that 90% of Americans do not get essential nutrients from their diet. While this deficiency is largely due to our fast food lifestyles, even those individuals that aim to fuel their bodies with the proper food choices are still falling short because the nutritional value of our food is not what it used to be. Over the past 50 years, the nutrient content of our food has shown a markedly steady decline. The chart below shows the results of a 2004 study of 43 crops between the years 1950 and 1999. As illustrated below, the nutrient content of the crops studied decreased as much as -37%!

[Read more...]

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Why is Diamond Creek Alkaline Water Superior?

Diamond Creek water bottleWhen I was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 26 and pregnant with my first child, my world completely shifted.  I knew I had to make some major changes in my nutrition to help build a healthier body and to help fight the cancer from returning in my body.  So, I created my Grateful 8 Rules For Wellness, a list of things that I knew would have a positive effect on my health.   One of the main goals of my Grateful 8 list was to bring my body back into balance so that I could thrive and be healthiest I could be.  I credit drinking alkaline water and eating foods high in alkalinity to helping maintain my body’s pH balance and making my body more alkaline and healthy.   

Drinking alkaline water is one of the most important rules on my Grateful 8 list.  By far, my favorite alkaline water is Diamond Creek or “Nature’s Energy Drink”.  The list of health benefits is long, but the taste is what really gets people hooked on this water!  This premium, high pH, alkaline ionized water is the best tasting water we’ve ever tried due to its high mineral content.  I used to think all water tasted the same.  However, after drinking Diamond Creek, my whole family now refers to it as “Velvet Water” because it tastes so smooth.  The fact that it’s purposeful, natural and so healthy makes me love it even more.  Balancing my body’s pH and making my body more alkaline instead of acidic is one of the most important ways that I have kept my body in balance.  I am happy to report that I have been cancer-free for 10 years!   

One of the biggest things that sets Diamond Creek apart is that it comes from a natural spring at 7.8 – 8.2 pH on average.  Diamond Creek All Natural Spring Water is ionized to create a high pH of 9+ without adding any buffers or chemicals to the water.  The water also goes through three other natural processes including microfiltration, UV and ozonation to ensure healthy water without any chemical processing which allows the true pH to stay in the water.  Plus, Diamond Creek water holds the pH of 9+ for two years because it is high in minerals and solids like calcium, zinc, magnesium, potassium sulfate and nitrogen.  This is a guarantee that I can get excited about! :)

[Read more...]

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Healthy Shopping 101

Do you feel overwhelmed at the grocery store?  Sometimes we go in completely armed and ready with our list to shop, and then suddenly, we feel completely confused because of the marketing and food labels.  Staring at the shelves and reading the claims that the boxes make can make anybody feel crazy!  Do you wonder what products you can really trust and what it means when they say:  “all natural”, “whole grains”, or “organic”?  

I think so many of us struggle with this especially today with the overwhelming amount of products to choose from.  One of my favorite things to do is to take friends, family and clients to the grocery store and help them realize all of the ways healthy shopping can be fun and rewarding.  Once you tackle the store a few times and you know what you need to look for, it becomes super easy to stay away from the products that are unhealthy. 

As part of my Healthy Lifestyle Series that I teach at corporations, I reward an employee with a Gift Card to my favorite local health food store where they can invite 5 co-workers. We basically go on a shopping experience and revamp their grocery list. Below is a video from last week when I took one of my winners from Belk to Healthy Home Market.  We had such a blast!!

AT BELK WITH BROOKE SHOPPING SPREE from 360yourlife on Vimeo.

One of my favorite things to share with friends is “Live foods bring Life to the body.” If there is a label on a food item, it has been processed to some extent. I’m not saying you should never buy a packaged item, that would be nearly impossible in our world. But be cautious and informed as you shop the aisles of the grocery store.  Knowledge brings power. Arm yourself with the truth!

Here is a start to understanding what manufactures say and what it ACTUALLY means. [Read more...]

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Top 3 Foods That Flunk Your Age

 

When it comes to aging, you really are what you eat!  It’s summertime and many of us are using sunscreen to protect ourselves from UVA and UVB rays that not only damage our skin, but can also age our skin.  But, did you know that there are foods that can age your body just as much as too much sun exposure?

 Take my 30 Day Anti-Aging Challenge below after you read about aging foods vs. anti-aging foods.

The Top 3 Foods that Flunk Your Age and get an F- grade are: Fast Foods, Fake Foods and Fried Foods.

Whopper hamburger1.  Fast foods: ex. Big Mac, Filet-O-Fish, Quarter Pounder, French Fries, Icy Coke, Thick Shakes, Sundaes, and Apple Pie.  Most all fast food contains excess t rans fats that make skin look stiff and inflexible, and ultimately, wrinkled.  Trans fats also age you on the inside.  They increase your risk of heart disease and stroke and are linked to higher risks of developing Type 2 diabetes.  The Institute of Medicine determined that there is NO safe consumption of trans fatty acids.

 

Hot Dogs in packages2.  Fake foods: ex. Hot Dogs and Deli Cold Cuts….”Don’t make it your way!” at Subway:  Sulfites that preserve processed and fake meats are pro-inflammatory and can cause rosacea and make skin look pasty and jaundiced colored.  Processed meats are usually high in saturated fats and have nitrates in them.  Both of those can lead to inflammation.  *Remember, we always want to nourish our bodies with ANTI-inflammatory foods, not pro-inflammatory foods.

MarshmallowsOther Fake foods that age our bodies:  Bottled lemonade and sugary beverages like soda, processed foods in boxes, cans and freezer bags, corn dogs, cotton candy, candy apples, cheese puffs, and marshmallows for smores.  Many of these items contain high amounts of sugar or sugar substitutes.  Sugar, which is linked to inflammation, aids in wrinkle production, but it also affects your overall health because it is tied to heart disease and diabetes.

Fried chicken3.  Fried foods: ex. Fried Chicken, Potato Chips and French Fries.  These foods contain trans fats that clog and stiffen the arteries and small blood vessels and make skin look old.  Anything that’s deep-fried in oil can add to inflammation throughout your body.  Trans fats raise LDL “bad” cholesterol and lower HDL “good” cholesterol.  When reading food labels, avoid products that include “partially hydrogenated oils” and “vegetable shortening.”

French Fries from McD'sThese foods do not “pass” when it comes to nourishing our bodies.  They “fail” our bodies and age us faster, and they are abundant during the summertime at cookouts, barbecues, camp outs, pool parties and at the beach.  This season, you’ll find lots of food trucks and food vendors serving many of these “F-“ foods, too.

The GOOD NEWS is that there are some incredible A+ Anti-Aging foods that are anti-inflammatory, that keep us looking younger and help to slow the aging process.

[Read more...]

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Dairy Sensitive?

Are you dairy sensitive, or do you suspect that you are?  Dairy sensitivities are on the rise, and it may not be lactose intolerance that is causing the problem.  Also, the price of milk is increasing up to $0.60 per gallon this month, so people are considering other non-dairy options.

According to the USDA, 87% of Americans drink at least one glass of milk per day to get calcium and Vitamin D. When it comes to dairy products and even dairy alternatives, it can be confusing when trying to make the right choice for you and your family. When choosing milk or other dairy products, along with dairy alternatives, it is always best to choose the least processed option available.  For dairy, choosing full-fat, pasteurized, non-homogenized products from grass-fed cattle are the best options because they are free of antibiotics, hormones, and artificial ingredients or sweeteners. [Read more...]

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A Deeper Look at Dairy

Let’s take a deeper look into cow’s dairy.

Regular commercial milk can be found in whole fat, low-fat and non-fat varieties, and they are either organically or conventionally made.  However, some of these milks are labeled “with no hormones” when they are actually just “reconstituted milk-flavored beverages.”  Sweeteners like sugar or artificial sweeteners like Aspartame are being used in commercial milk to flavor the milks to make them more palatable.  Plus a new concept is underway:  Bubble Gum flavored milk.  Seriously?  Did you know that one 8oz. glass of milk contains 13 grams of sugar?  That is 3 more grams than a Krispy Kreme donut!  If the RDA (recommended daily allowance) of milk is 3.5 cups per day, think of how much sugar and artificial ingredients you are consuming. [Read more...]

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Healthy Holiday Recipe Night

Brooke with Mothers at Healthy Holiday Recipe Night

Healthy Holiday Recipe Night

This week, I had the pleasure of hosting some wonderful moms at my home for a healthy holiday recipe night!  I made healthy versions of brownies, fudge, granola, cookies, icing and whip cream!

Four year ago, I started the Wellness Committee and Healthy Lunch Initiative at my kids’ school, and today this committee has grown leaps and bounds and is now called the FAN (Fitness And Nutrition) Committee!   I am so thankful for the people in this group who have pushed through and continue to have the same vision of a healthier generation and school!  I love what I get to do and the people I get to share it with!  Here are pictures of the holiday treats we made along with the links to the recipes. :)  Enjoy! [Read more...]

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The Thomas’ Top 3 Favorite Fall Comfort Foods

Brooke with Reagan and Riley at the Pumpkin Patch

At the pumpkin patch with my girls after hiking Grandfather Mountain

We all love Fall, right? Or is it just me? I love the changing of the weather and the leaves. I grew up in Florida where I really didn’t get to see Fall the way the beautiful colors and leaves change here in North Carolina. This is one of the reasons I love living here so much!  When the weather starts to change and become crisp or even on rainy days when the  leaves are so full of color, all I want to do is cook comfort foods and turn on the fire. I always want my comfort foods to warm the heart and soul, and of course be healthy! [Read more...]

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Wonderfully Raw Coco-Roons

Wonderfully Raw Coco-Roons CEO and Macaroon Maven, Sequoia Cheney and Brooke at the Natural Products Expo East

Wonderfully Raw Coco-Roons CEO and Macaroon Maven, Sequoia Cheney and Brooke at the Natural Products Expo East

I get so excited when I hear about companies that are founded by passionate people with a desire to create products that not only taste incredible, but are helping to build health in our bodies.  While at the Natural Products Expo East in September 2013, I had the pleasure of meeting Sequoia Cheney, CEO and Macaroon Maven, of Wonderfully Raw Coco-Roons.  This women is amazing!   She has given so much of herself to others through the arts and through holistic healing. Always passionate about food (and maybe not always the healthiest food), Sequoia found herself in a health crisis when she was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.  She knew she had to make some serious changes to heal herself. [Read more...]

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Healthy Grab-N-Go Snacks for my Girls

Brooke with Back to Nature's Anthony Raucci, SVP of Sales and Mike McVey, Director of Sales - East

Brooke with Back to Nature’s Anthony Raucci, SVP of Sales and Mike McVey, Director of Sales – East

I’ve been a fan of Back to Nature snacks for a while now.  My girls loves their whole grain cookies, crackers and trail mixes.  I like that I can pour Back to Nature snacks in a bowls, and my daughter’s friends never know that they are eating healthy snacks.

I was able to meet Anthony Raucci, SVP of Sales and Mike McVey, Director of Sales – East from Back to Nature, and we had a very thorough conversation about their products, packaging and upcoming product offerings.  I suggested they try to make more nut-free seed mixes for children with nut allergies. [Read more...]

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Gluten-Free Supergrain Quinoa Pasta

Brooke with Constance Roark, MS RDN and Manager of Brand Strategy and Nutritional Marketing at Ancient Harvest

Brooke with Constance Roark, MS RDN and Manager of Brand Strategy and Nutritional Marketing at Ancient Harvest

Ancient Harvest organic corn-quinoa pastas are a staple in my home!  We love how they taste, plus they are Non-GMO, organic, Kosher, and certified Gluten-Free!  I met Constance Roark, Manager of Brand Strategy and Nutritional Marketing for Ancient Harvest, at the Natural Products Expo East in September 2013.  Constance explained how Ancient Harvest has been sourcing their ingredients from the same trusted Bolivian farmer for 30 years, so I feel really good about having this product in my pantry. [Read more...]

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Happy Family Organic Superfoods

Happy Familys SE Regional Sales Manager, Sunny Hunt with Brooke at the Natural Products Expo East

Happy Family’s SE Regional Sales Manager, Sunny Hunt with Brooke at the Natural Products Expo East

Moms everywhere can get excited about Happy Family Organic Superfoods for children!  I met with Sunny Hunt, SE Regional Sales Manager at Happy Family Organic Superfoods when I went to the Natural Products Expo East in September 2013.  I asked Sunny detailed questions about their products, and I also found out their story. [Read more...]

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Gluten and Dairy Free Fruit and Nut Butters

Kolat and BrookeSeveral of my recipes on 360YourLife include almond butter, and I even love eating it plain.  I recently found an incredible company that makes the most delicious almond butter infusions!  Kolat Superfood Fusions makes almond butter with a kick.  They infuse flavors like cherry and vanilla, blueberry and cinnamon, dark chocolate and coconut, and espresso and hazelnut to make some of the most delicious nut butters I have ever tasted!  I was pleased to meet the Founder and CEO of Kolat, Jess Goldstein, at the Natural Products Expo East in September 2013. [Read more...]

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“Neat” Vegan Meat Replacement

Sometimes I think I’ve seen it all, and then a product like Neat comes along and I am blown away!  At the Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore, I met an insanely smart young couple, who out of a need to find other vegan food options for their family, experimented and came up with an all natural, gluten free vegetarian meat replacement made out of pecans, beans and organic cornmeal.  It is the first shelf-stable meat replacement on the market. [Read more...]

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Diet POP! Gourmet Flavored Popcorn

Brooke with Tony Little with Diet Pop! Popcorn

Wow!  I was fortunate enough to meet America’s Personal Trainer, Tony Little at the Natural Products Expo East in September 2013! Tony is such a nice person, and guys, he STILL HAS IT!!!

Tony is still very focused on healthy living, and he’s teamed up with David Israel, the founder of POP! Gourmet Popcorn, to create a new popcorn called Diet Pop! This popcorn is NON-GMO, Gluten Free, Kosher and air popped with zero trans fats or cholesterol.  It comes in two flavors:  White Truffle (Yum!) and Sunflower Oil and Sea Salt.  Perfect for a light, healthy snack. Oprah loves POP! Gourmet Popcorn, and she listed the White Truffle Bliss as her favorite in O, The Oprah Magazine in Feb. 2012. [Read more...]

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“Simple Squares” of Goodness

I love the simple, uncomplicated, grab-and-go, whole food snacks made by Simple Squares.  Nuts.  Honey. Vanilla.  Sea Salt.  Herbs.  Just 5 ingredients – that’s it!  Simple!

Brooke with Simple Squares founder Kimberly Crupi Dobbins

Brooke with Simple Squares founder Kimberly Crupi Dobbins

Kimberly Crupi Dobbins, founder and “chief square” of Simple Squares, created flavorful organic snack bars that are savory and sweet and infused with herbs and honey for a uniquely satisfying treat.  I was able to meet and talk with Kimberly at the Natural Products Expo East in September 2013, and she is not only adorable, but she is passionate about changing grab-and-go snacking from processed with preservatives to whole foods. [Read more...]

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Food for Life, my favorite breads and tortillas

Ezekiel Bread image Genesis Bread image I love Ezekiel 4:9 and Genesis 1:29 sprouted grain breads because the products are developed based on Bible verses that remind us that we were made to eat bread that was whole and pure, not processed.  I can trust the ingredients in these products because Food for Life, the baking company that makes Genesis and Ezekiel breads, won’t use any GMOs (genetically modified organisms), preservatives, shortenings or refined sugars. [Read more...]

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Grab-N-Go Quinoa Energy Bites

eat Keenwa Krunch pic

What an incredible idea to take quinoa and turn it into a healthy, satisfying energy bite! I got to meet the founders of eat Keenwa Krunch, Paul and Blake Niemann at the Natural Products Expo East in Sept. 2013.  These brothers were always very active in outdoor sports.  They loved how quinoa made them feel during their workouts and everyday activities, and they wanted to take their quinoa with them wherever they went.  So, they created a portable, easy-to-eat snack for people with busy lifestyles who also want to eat healthy.  Their products are designed to give you great energy and power your spirit without eating preservatives or “junk”.  The brothers also have their own social mission called The Keenwa Cause where they donate resources to fight against world hunger and to support the development of quinoa as a sustainable crop.  Love these guys! [Read more...]

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