My Detox Routine: Part 2 (Castor Oil Packs, Oil Pulling, Herbal Teas, Toxin Binders)

As a caveat to what lies ahead in this post: I am NOT a doctor, and the information presented here should not be taken as medical advice. Please consult with your doctor or naturopath before embarking on an intense detox regimen like the one presented below. Also, the products I recommend are products that I have used or am currently using with success, I am not being paid to recommend them (although, I wouldn’t object!).

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Welcome to the second portion of ‘My Detox Routine’; to read the first part, click here. Today I’ll be writing about some of my favorite detox therapies- herbal teas, castor oil packs, oil pulling, and toxin binders. Each of these therapies are fairly inexpensive and easy to implement, and I do hope you’ll try a few of them! Let’s jump in.

Herbal Teas

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There are lots of different teas on the market today that can aid in detoxing your organs. I am a big fan of sipping on tea throughout the day, whether it be cold or hot, but it’s important to be picky about which types of tea you choose to enjoy. Many brands of tea on the market today (even the fancy, super expensive loose-leaf teas) have been sprayed with chemicals, have added GMOs and/or food coloring, and even contain mold. To read more about the safety of the tea you choose, check out this article.

A few simple rules to live by when selecting your tea are: always choose organic, check the ingredient list, and don’t assume that it’s safe just because it’s expensive. I also recommend staying away from caffeine as much as possible, as caffeine can wear out your adrenals more quickly than just about anything else, including processed sugar.

All of this knowledge in hand, some of my favorite types of teas are:

Organic, Decaf Green Tea: enjoy hot or cold with fresh squeezed lemon and a drop or two of raw honey or stevia in the raw. My favorite brand is Allegro, found at Whole Foods.

Asparagus Extract Tea: it doesn’t taste as bad as it sounds and is packed with folic acid, making it an incredibly nutrient-dense option. I buy mine here on Amazon.

Fresh Cilantro, Parsley, or Basil Tea: as shown above, steep about one half bundle of herbs in hot water for about ten minutes. Strain and enjoy a wonderfully detoxifying and fresh tea. Warning: Cilantro is a powerful heavy metal chelator, and doctor/naturopath supervision is recommended.

Castor Oil Packs

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Castor oil is derived from the castor seed and has been used as a health remedy for various ailments for centuries. Although the safety of the internal use of castor oil is much debated, there are many positive effects of using castor oil topically. The castor oil pack is the most common, and arguably most beneficial, of all castor oil therapies.

There are many benefits of incorporating castor oil packs into your healing protocol, but perhaps the greatest is the effect on the immune system. When castor oil packs are used on the abdomen, they have been proven to increase your number of lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are the body’s disease-fighting cells and are mostly created and stored in the lymph tissues. As I mentioned in the first post of this series, your overall health is largely contingent on the health of your lymphatics, as this is the system that collects toxins and debris from all of the tissues in your body. The escalation of lymphocytes that castor oil produces allows your lymphatic system to be quite efficient at clearing toxins, which contributes to your overall ability to fight illness.

Castor oil packs have also been shown to have a positive effect on detoxifying the liver, an organ that is in near constant need of support in the toxin-riddled world we live in. Additionally, in my experience, castor oil packs have been helpful in calming rumbly intestines and stomach aches.

One word of caution is that castor oil should probably be tested on a small patch of skin prior to administering a large dose. It has been known to cause skin reactions in some individuals. Do not take castor oil internally unless instructed by your health care practitioner.

Now, let’s look at how to make and administer a castor oil pack.

Supplies:

– three sheets of organic cotton, cut into squares large enough to cover your abdomen (from the tip of your sternum to about 3 inches below your belly button)

– 1-2 Tbsp Castor Oil

– 1 piece of syran wrap large enough to cover the cotton

– heating pad

Method:

To create a castor oil pack, simply stack up your three pieces of cotton and drizzle castor oil as evenly as possible across the top layer of cotton. Place on your tummy, cover top layer with saran wrap, and place the heating pad directly on top. The heat will allow the oil to work through all three sheets of cotton and into your skin. Leave on your tummy for 10-30 minutes. Remove, throw away cotton sheets, wash your tummy, and you’re done!

Oil Pulling

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Oil pulling is useful for cutting through plaque, whitening teeth, and removing toxins not only from the mouth but also from the rest of the body. Although oil pulling has gained popularity in the past year or so, it is thought to have originated thousands of years ago in India. While oil pulling is an exceptional (and cheap) way to maintain oral health, it can also aid in detoxing the entire body by stimulating the lymphatics. Some oil pullers have seen improvements in liver conditions, skin conditions, arthritis, and headaches.

Supplies:

– 1-2 tsp of coconut oil or another healthy oil, such as: cold pressed sesame, olive, or avocado oil

Method:

Simply gather the oil in your mouth and swish for around 20 minutes. As you’re swishing, try pulling the oil in and out of your teeth, and really work those muscles. The swishing movement works to stimulate the lymphatics, allowing you to gather up more toxins into the oil.

When you’re finished swishing, simply spit out the oil into a paper cup or trash can, rinse your mouth with warm water to remove any excess bacteria, and give your teeth a good brushing with your choice of natural toothpaste.

Toxin Binders

If you are in poor health and plan on doing a lot of detoxing, as I have been, then it may be helpful to take some toxin binders to help bind the mobilized toxins so they can be excreted. In my opinion, this is one of the most important aspects of any detox routine, and in my experience, taking binders makes the process much more tolerable.

Some of my favorite binders are: Pecta Sol, Medi Clay, and Zeolite. Keep in mind that binders should be taken an hour before and after any other medications or supplements.

Stay tuned for the next installment of this series where I’ll cover infrared sauna use and Biomat sessions.

Xx, K

Lemon & Lavender Salt Scrub

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For as long as I can remember I’ve had deep lines on my forehead. What can I say, I’m an animated personality. I was never worried about or bothered by them, but when I entered into my late twenties I started taking inventory of every grey hair (yes, I have a few, okay, more than a few) and wrinkle. To remedy my wrinkles I tried numerous fancy moisturizers and face washes, but never noticed much of a difference. When I decided to transition my personal care items to clean, toxin-free products, the fancy (read: expensive) skin care products were some of the first to go.

I’ve been using one version or another of this salt scrub recipe for about 8 months, and I can promise you that my skin is healthier than ever. Those deep forehead lines? Well they are quickly fading away. Perhaps what I love most about this salt scrub is that it cleanses, exfoliates, and moisturized the skin in one simple step. It can also be used all over the body to do the same- this would have been great to use during the long, cold winters that I spent in NYC.

One last thing- keep in mind that this recipe can be adjusted to fit your needs, and feel free to try different types of salts, oils, and scents to see which suits your skin best.

Lemon & Lavender Salt Scrub Recipe

1 1/2 Cups Sea Salt
3-4 Tbsp Coconut Oil
10-15 Drops Lemon Essential Oil (I use Young Living)
7-10 Drops Lavender Essential Oil
1 Tbsp Fresh Rosemary, chopped and ground with pestle and mortar

If you try a salt scrub recreation, I would love to hear about it, as I am always looking for exciting variations. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter (@KaylaMarieDenny), or simply leave a comment below.

Xx, K

My Detox Routine: Part 1 (Juicing, Detox Baths, Homeopathic Detox Drops, Dry Brushing)

As a caveat to what lies ahead in this post: I am NOT a doctor, and the information presented here should not be taken as medical advice. Please consult with your doctor or naturopath before embarking on an intense detox regimen like the one presented below. Also, the products I recommend are products that I have used or am currently using with success, I am not being paid to recommend them (although, I wouldn’t object!).

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There seems to be a lot of curiosity surrounding the topic of detoxing, and whether it’s something you object to or agree with, it’s become a trend that doesn’t seem to be going away. Prior to 2008, the concept of a ‘juice cleanse’ was all but nonexistent among the general public. Nowadays, there are juice bars, organic food, and complicated detox diets a’ plenty. What’s changed in the past few years?

Toxins, toxins everywhere. They’re in our air, water, food, cleaning supplies, beauty products, and even our laundry detergent. The human body has an incredible, innate ability to heal itself, but it simply doesn’t recognize or have the capacity to deal with the bombardment of toxins that it’s faced with everyday. When the body doesn’t recognize a particular substance, or if the liver is already stressed, the body’s response is to store the substance away in our cells, lungs, liver, kidneys, gallbladder, and deep tissue. Unfortunately, as toxins accumulate, they have the ability to lead to illnesses, such as autoimmune disease and cancer. For more information regarding the link between certain toxic substances and cancer, check out this article.

Our bodies simply were not built to detoxify themselves at the rate at which we are now exposed to toxins, and this is why it’s so important to lead a healthy lifestyle. For some individuals whose detox pathways may be inhibited by genetic factors (such as the MTHFR mutation), this may involve detoxing regularly.

Detoxing is particularly important in the life of a Lyme patient because as the Lyme bacteria live and reproduce in our bodies, they also emit neurotoxins. These neurotoxins are the main culprit in Lyme symptoms and cause quite a bit of inflammation and acidity on the cellular level. This cellular inflammation is what causes most of our symptoms and pain. Furthermore, the Lyme toxins combined with the everyday toxins that we’re exposed to in the modern world can easily combine to create a painful and sickly body.

For the past four months, I’ve been waist deep in detox sludge, employing a multitude of different therapies to release the stored toxins in my body. Some of the therapies that I’ve implemented include: juicing, detox baths, dry brushing, homeopathic detox drops, coffee enemas, biomat sessions, sauna sessions, oil pulling, castor oil packs, and drinking lots of herbal teas.

I do most all of these things every single day. It’s a full-time job that takes all of my will power and all of my energy on most days. The rest of this post is dedicated to expanding on the use of juicing, detox baths, dry brushing, and homeopathic detox drops. In future posts I will follow up to discuss the other therapies mentioned.

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(This is a super scientific diagram showing the direction in which to dry brush)

Dry brushing:

Dry brushing is used primarily to stimulate the lymphatics. The lymph system is part of the circulatory system and is known as the body’s ‘drainage system’. Made up of an extensive network of lymph nodes and vessels, the lymph system serves to clean cells and clear debris from all over the body. Keeping the lymph system in good working order is an important part of health and should be considered an essential component of any intensive detox protocol. For a comprehensive overview of the lymph system, check out this article.

It is important to know that the lymphatics do not flow on their own, instead they need to be stimulated in some way to produce motion. Dry brushing, as well as other therapies such as sauna, detox baths, deep breathing, and exercise all help to stimulate movement of the lymphatics. A few added benefits of dry brushing are: increased circulation, dead skin removal, skin tightening, cellulite reduction, and super soft skin (even your baby will be jealous).

For best results, do your dry brushing twice per day or before taking a shower or bath. With a soft bristle brush, start at your feet, and in short strokes brush upwards towards your heart. Work your way up your body until you have brushed your legs, tummy, arms, and chest. Just remember that you want to brush in the direction that your lymphs flow (they’re a one way street), and you always want to brush towards your heart. Brushing can be done from 2-20 minutes, I usually spend about 10 minutes brushing while I run my bath.

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(This is exactly what I look like while taking a detox bath)

Detox baths:

Detox baths are one of the best ways to clear toxins quickly through the skin (the second largest organ, after the intestines). Another great aspect of these baths is their ability to reduce muscle aches and pains. In addition, as your body temperature rises in the hot bath, your body is able to kill off unwanted bacteria and viruses (for Lyme patients, this means that Lyme and co-infections are being killed in the process, which is great news!).

A number of different products can be used to create a healing detox bath. Some of my favorites are: Epsom salt, sea salt, bentonite clay, mustard seed bath, hydrogen peroxide, essential oils, apple cider vinegar, and baking soda. The key to a super detoxifying bath is using water as hot as you can stand and several cups of product (I use around 6 cups in each bath).

Warning: If you’re very ill, you will most likely feel drained after taking a bath. I cannot stress this enough- GO SLOW. If you aren’t used to taking baths like these, make sure to start at a cooler water temperature, don’t use as much product, and don’t stay in for as long. When I first started these baths, I used 2 cups Epsom salt, medium hot water, and soaked for about 20 minutes.

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Homeopathic Drops:

These magic drops help to naturally stimulate detoxification in the liver, gallbladder, kidneys, and lymphatic system. Both the Pekana Trio and Heel Detox Kit are great options. If you’re super sensitive or super sick, I recommend starting with the Pekana Trio, as it’s a bit more gentle on the system.

The normal dose for a healthy individual is 30 drops per day. When I started on these drops, I was so toxic that I had a hard time taking one drop per day. Therefore, I started at one drop per day and then gradually increased my dose as I could tolerate. I would advise starting slowly and gradually increasing once you know your comfort level.

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Juicing:

Most people are probably aware of the benefits of juicing, but for good measure, I’ll list a few anyway. Juice delivers highly concentrated vitamins, minerals and enzymes rapidly into the bloodstream, where the nutrients are quickly absorbed. It also allows you to consume a higher quantity and a wider variety of vegetables each day, as opposed to eating them whole. When juiced, many vegetables and some fruits such as leafy greens, beets, and green apples have the wonderful effect of cleansing the liver, kidneys, and blood, which aids tremendously in detoxification.

It’s best to consume juice quickly, or at least on the same day that it was juiced, because that’s when it’s nutrient value is the highest. However, if you store your juice in an air tight container, it can still be consumed for a few days after it was made. Juice fasts have become incredibly popular these days, but I believe that incorporating juice into your daily life is more beneficial than fasting a few times a year, especially if you’re sick and require more protein, like I do.

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If you suffer from a chronic illness, detoxing to this extent may seem like a daunting task, and believe me, I completely understand! The detox process can be an intense one and can leave you with some undesirable side effects, such as: dizziness, nausea, fatigue, headache, skin rashes, and intestinal disruptions. It is for this reason that I strongly suggest being under a trained practitioner’s care while embarking on such a protocol. If you are in need of someone to help you oversee the detox process, please email me, and I can give you the name of my doctor as well as a few others who offer guidance via phone consultations.

Remember that the journey to attaining wellness is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Go slow, and set reasonable goals. Be gentle with yourself. Pray often, love much, and keep your head up because wellness is coming for you.

Any questions? Feel free to shoot me an email at kayla.denny@gmail.com.

Xx, K

Lyme Disease Awareness Month: Giveaway!

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As Lyme Awareness Month draws to a close, I can’t help but feel somewhat relieved. Sometime last week I realized just how emerged in Lyme facts and education I had become, and it was eating up way too much of my precious brain space. As passionate as I am about spending time bringing awareness to the Lyme epidemic, it’s equally important for me to focus my mind on happy, positive, and enriching thoughts. So it’s officially time to move on to lighter topics. And that means…

GIVEAWAY!

To close out the month of May, I’ve decided to host a little giveaway. Below is a list of all of the items that are up for grabs. To enter, just head on over to my Instagram page (@kaylamariedenny) and repost the below photo with the hashtags #lymeawareness and #joyrises. Side note: this giveaway is open to all, and you do NOT have to have Lyme to enter!

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Nail Supplies

I don’t think it’s any secret how much I love painting my nails and creating (super fab) nail designs. As cheesy as it may seem to some, it’s been a hobby that has brought me a lot of joy and has also been a wonderful creative outlet during a time when my physical activity level is extremely limited. Whether you’re sick, healthy, a nail art lover, or a more basic manicure type of gal, there’s something here for you.

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* Julep nail polish in Tatum
* Sephora by OPI nail polish in Domestic Goddess
* Essie nail polish in A List
* Mini nail files
* Pink hologram nail art flowers
* One surprise BONUS item!

Personal Care

A sweet friend came by to visit me a few weeks ago and brought along a boat load of goodies that I’ve really enjoyed using. One of the things she brought that I absolutely love is a bath bomb + body butter combo from Lush that smells heavenly. I love it so much that I bought the same combo for this giveaway! I also included my favorite flavor of Eos lip balm, because well, you can never have too much lip balm.

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* Eos lip balm in Sweet Mint
* Lush Bright Side Bubble Bar (citrus scented)
* Lush Charity Pot hand and body lotion

Detox & Health

Whether you have a chronic illness or not, detox is a crucial part of maintaining health in this day and age. It’s impossible to avoid all of the chemicals and toxins in the environment today, but there are some things we can do to keep our bodies from becoming overburdened with toxins. Tea and essential oils are easily some of my favorite therapeutic remedies to support my body into a healthier statement, so naturally I’ve included some of each in this giveaway.

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* Loose leaf Liver and Gallbladder Renewal detox tea from Herb Farm Austin
* Tea ball
* 5ml bottle of Wintergreen essential oil by Young Living

I’ll be randomly selecting the winner of this loot sometime next week, so be on the lookout for that announcement. Good luck!

Sending lots of love and light to all! Xx.
K

How To Have a Less Toxic Nail Polish Addiction

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If you know me well or follow me on Instagram, then you know that I have a not-so-mild obsession with nail polish and nail art. What you may or may not know though, is that nail polish is essentially a small bottle of chemicals that have easy access to your bloodstream once applied to the nail. Not to mention the brain cells it kills with toxic fumes! So now your next question is- Isn't this a conflict of interest for your chemical-free, natural, clean lifestyle?

Yes, I concede that it is, however, it is one that I will allow for two reasons: 1.) For a very long time, painting my nails was literally the only creative outlet that I could take pleasure in, and it helped to keep me sane and escape my world of pain and sickness for a short time, and 2.) It makes me happy, and anything that makes me happy is worth doing (within reason, of course), I figure that whatever damage the nail polish toxins are doing are being counteracted by the happiness I feel when I look down at my nails and see something prettily painted upon them. Judge if you want, but everyone deserves to have a guilty pleasure or two, and painting my nails is mine.

Even though most popular brands of nail polish are in and of themselves quite toxic, the polish world has made much positive progress in creating less toxic polish formulas over the past few years. New brands of polish are popping up everyday, and indie nail polishes are on the rise. Nowadays there are more options than ever, and you can even buy vegan or water-based nail polish with all natural ingredients, which are virtually void of toxins and are even safe for the minis in your life.

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Before we get into my recommendations for leading a clean nail polish life, let’s cover a few basics…

What does 3 Free, 4 Free, and 5 Free mean?

For many years, most nail polish companies included three very scary ingredients in their formulas: formaldehyde, toluene, and dibutyl phthalate. The combined effects of these three ingredients have been known to cause reproductive issues, disturbances in the endocrine system, nervous system impairments such as dizziness, fatigue, and headaches, and have even caused cancer in lab rats. You can learn more about these chemicals here, but suffice it to say that you don’t want these toxins to be absorbed into your blood stream (heads up: toxins can enter straight into your bloodstream through your nail bed). Luckily, most big nail polish brands like OPI, Essie, Butter London, China Glaze, and SOPI have removed these three toxins, and therefore, such polishes are referred to as ‘3 Free’, meaning they are free of the three big nasties.

But even if a polish doesn’t contain these three dangerous toxins, you can bet that most contain all kinds of other harmful chemicals, and some brands have taken it a step further by removing formaldehyde residue (4-Free) and camphor (5-Free). This article in Slate describes some of the hurdles that still exist, even in these less toxic brands of nail polish.

So now that I’ve taken all of the fun out of painting your nails, let’s get into a few very basic rules that I try to live by when it comes to my polish habits.

1.) Only use nail polish brands that are 3-Free or higher

I’ve made it a personal rule that, moving forward, I will only allow myself to purchase polish brands that are 4 Free or (preferably) 5 Free, but since I have a boat load of 3 Free polishes (hello, Essie), I do still allow myself to use them. You can bet that I threw out all of the polishes that weren't at least 3 Free though, because, well… formaldehyde. Personally, my favorite brands right now are Julep (4-Free), Zoya, and Deborah Lippmann (both 5-Free). If I'm feeling really dedicated then I go with an organic line like Mineral Fusion or Karma Organics that can be found at your local Whole Foods.

Psst… This site is a great resource for checking out the level chemical contaminants in different nail polish brands.

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2.) Replace your traditional alcohol or acetone-based nail polish remover with a naturally based one

I’m sure that by now most women know that acetone is not only terrible for your nail health, but can also be harmful to your general health. But even most non-acetone polish removers are loaded with their own toxic chemicals. Luckily, there are lots of other options out there today for the health conscious consumer. My nail polish remover of choice is by Karma Naturals, it may be more expensive than your typical alcohol- based nail polish remover, but it lasts about 10 times longer, plus, instead of stripping your nails of the moisture they need, it actually replenishes moisture as it gently removes polish. I will warn you that it requires a tad more elbow grease than what you may be used to, especially for those who use acetone, but there’s no doubt that with a bit of effort you’ll have a much healthier nail as a result of ditching your old remover. I bought this bottle on Amazon almost a year ago, and it’s still about 1/2 full.

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3.) Proper ventilation

This is probably a no-brainer for anyone who’s ever walked into a nail salon, but proper ventilation makes an enormous difference. Turn on a fan, open the window, make sure to paint to your nails in an open space instead of a smaller closed off bathroom. And for goodness sakes, ladies, try not to get too close to that open bottle while applying your polish, the smell alone could knock you out.

4.) Try not to let the polish touch your skin, and/or clean up quickly upon application

Just as nail polish toxins can seep into your body through your nail bed, they can certainly be absorbed by the skin, so make sure to use your toxin-free remover or a hot bath to remove any excess polish that has gotten onto your skin or cuticle area.

With these four easy rules, I hope that you feel a bit more comfortable, or at least less guilty, about partaking in a potentially toxic habit. Good luck ladies, now let’s see those manis!

XX, K

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Staving off Candida & Hearty Oat Bran Muffin Recipe

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About a month ago I found out that I have a moderate case of systemic candida. I had suspected this might be the case for quite a while because I’ve had body wide itching for over a year now but have never been able to attribute it to a specific allergen or anything else. I had taken a candida test early last fall that came back negative, but the test I took in December came back positive, so here I am, treating yet another chronic infection in addition to the Lyme. I’m hoping that knocking the candida will knock the itching and will also speed up my Lyme treatment, which seems to be moving at a glacial pace, but I guess that only time will tell.

For those who don’t know, candida is a fungal infection that occurs when the flora in the gut becomes out of balance and bad bacteria begins to overwhelm the good bacteria. It has been said that all health starts in the gut, and gut flora is so complex that doctors and scientists still know very little about the multitude of microorganisms that reside there.

What we do know is that a healthy gut contains an 80:20 ratio of good bacteria vs. bad bacteria and is also indicative of proper immune function. However, toxins like pesticides, GMO’s, and antibiotics are all known to severely alter and disrupt proper gut flora, making it immensely difficult to maintain intestinal integrity. Since it’s almost impossible to avoid all damaging contaminants, one really must remain diligent in maintaining proper intestinal health.

Since digestive and intestinal issues have been a problem of mine for the past ten years, I knew that regaining my health in this area was of vital importance to my overall healing journey. Some of you who have been reading this blog for a while probably remember my post about a healing dietary plan called the GAPS diet, which I spoke about here, and I am happy to report that I have gained some weight and am more properly digesting and absorbing my food now. However, with the new candida diagnosis, I decided to refine my diet yet again.

While treating candida, it’s crucial to eliminate ALL sugar, grains, dairy, and starchy vegetables, because sugar is essentially what allows the candida to flourish (starchy foods metabolize into sugar). Even though I eliminated conventional sugar, dairy, and gluten long ago, I decided to follow a bit of advice from the official Candida Diet which requires the elimination of honey, maple syrup, agave, and fruits (with the exception of green apples and grapefruit), rice, and root vegetables (goodbye sweet potato fries).

Luckily for me, oat bran and coconut flour are still permitted on the candida diet, and when I stumbled across this oat bran muffin recipe by Whole New Mom, I knew I had to try them. I modified the recipe a bit, and the results are delicious, just trust me on this. If you’re not watching your sugar intake, feel free to top your muffin with a natural fruit preserve, honey, or nut butter for an added pop.

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Ingredients:
2 1/2 C uncooked oat bran
2 t baking powder
1-2 t salt
2 t cinnamon
2 eggs
1 C water
2 t vanilla extract
2T coconut oil
2 T ghee
2 sm green apples, peeled and cut into chunks

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Mix dry ingredients together. Mix wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Cook apples in saucepan on medium-high heat until soft. Purée and add to wet ingredients. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Butter or grease muffin tin (ghee, grassfed butter, or coconut oil), and spoon batter into tins. Bake 10-20 minutes, or until the muffins set up nicely. Top with butter, raw honey, jam, your favorite nut butter, or enjoy them all by themselves!

*Makes about 14 regular sized muffins.

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

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Thanksgiving may be a few months behind us, but I’m enjoying pumpkin smoothies more than ever. This recipe is dairy-free and very low in sugar, it makes for a wonderful breakfast or snack.

Ingredients:
1/3 Can of canned organic pumpkin (15 oz), or homemade purée
1 Tbsp raw honey
1 Tbsp cinnamon
2 tsp dried ginger
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 Cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 medium sized pear
2-3 handfuls of ice

Directions:
Place all ingredients in a high powered blender (I’m obsessed with my Vitamix, but any decent blender will do the trick), and blend until all ingredients are blended well and desired consistency is reached. Top with cinnamon and chia seed and enjoy!

I’ll be posting another story in The Lyme Diaries tomorrow, so you’ll be hearing from me again very soon!

XX, K

Hope: Courage for a New Year

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[I can’t think of anything more trite to write about than the beginning of a new year, but I’m going to do it anyway]

I think we’ve all heard the phrase, ‘new year, new you’, one too many times and undoubtedly have set new year resolutions that have fallen flat a few measly weeks later, which only makes us feel guilty about not accomplishing what we had set out to do. I don’t believe that goal setting and healthy changes in lifestyle should wait for a new year to roll around, but I agree that it seems like a good time to implement new habits.

Personally, I’m excited for the new year, the last few years have been some of the most painful and disappointing that I have ever experienced, and I’m glad to put 2013 behind me. I have high hopes that 2014 will be a better year for me. My list of goals for 2014 is pretty short, basically the only item on my list is to get well, and I know that it will take all of my energy and a lot of effort and perseverance to get there. I’m hoping that all of the improvements that I haven’t seen in the past two years will start to happen in 2014, and most of all, I want to be well enough to visit my boyfriend in a city that is forever near and dear to me, NYC.

I frequently have dreams that I have finally become well enough to visit the city, and in these dreams I usually wander through busy streets delighting in the fact that I am walking without pain and reminiscing about all of my favorite spots and good times had. In one of my dreams I dreamt that I had been out with friends and was hailing a cab to go home when I suddenly realized that my apartment was being occupied by someone else, and I didn’t have anywhere to sleep. I believe in the power of a good dream, and this one happened to be dead on because, to me, Lyme feels like an unwanted houseguest (or in my case subletter). It’s stolen my apartment and I can’t get any rest until I’ve kicked it out. In 2014 I hope to get my apartment back.

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I don’t know why I haven’t seen dramatic healing yet, despite all of my efforts to try and figure it out. What I do know is that God is true to His Word and that He is waiting to answer prayers and to bless us, so long as these answered prayers and blessings are in line with His will for us. God’s word says that, ‘you have not because you ask not’, which basically means that we need to dream BIG and stand confident that God will deliver.

One of my all time favorite quotes is this by C.S. Lewis:

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

These words make me question what ‘mud pies’ I’ve become satisfied with, and most of all it makes me wonder how much I believe that quick and complete healing will happen for me. At times it feels that I’ve been sick for such a long time that it’s tough to imagine being well, I’ve been playing with mud pies for so long that I can barely recall how sand between my toes and waves splashing onto my face feels. Every morning I wake up and subconsciously scan my body for symptoms- how sore am I today, am I nauseous, is the headache gone, did I overdo it yesterday, did I get enough sleep? I can hardly remember what it’s like to wake up refreshed, without pain, and with a day of wonderfully unknown possibilities ahead of me. Have I forgotten what it’s like to truly live a beautiful, healthy life in which my hopes and dreams are unfettered by my body’s limitations? Sometimes I think I have, in reality I’m just trying to survive.

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I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that there have been times in the quiet of the night or in the loneliness of my illness that I have felt like I might be sick forever. Usually it’s the times when my pain is immense and fatigue overwhelms every fiber of my being that I begin to feel stuck, frustrated, and sad or angry. I’m blessed to have people in my life who uplift and encourage me during these low points, they help me to cope and tell me that everything will be okay, and I am truly beyond thankful for them.

However, in 2014, I want to have fewer moments of doubt, fewer emotional breakdowns when things don’t go my way, and a mental fortitude that allows me to press on with a new degree of determination and joy that I have yet to experience. In 2014, I want to believe God more than I ever have before, I’m going to have courage enough to ask for and have wholehearted faith that I’ll receive full healing, and soon. This year is about getting rid of that little sliver of doubt that hangs around and pesters me when I’m at my lowest points. It’s about newness, restoration, and peace, and I’m excited to see just how it will all happen. Until then, I’ll be here, standing and believing.

Here is to 2014- May we all have insurmountable hope, mad dreams, and happy endings.

X, K

Thanksgiving: What’s on the Menu

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Worried about selecting just the right [Paleo, gluten free, clean] diet friendly delectables worthy of your Thanksgiving table? Don’t be. A simple google or Pinterest search will render all kinds of delicious options, and luckily for you, I’ve already prepared and taste tested a few recipes. Best of all, each of these recipes are Paleo friendly, gluten free, and full of nutrients. Below are some details about the recipes that are on the menu at our house- just click on the link to view the original recipe + pictures.

On the menu:

Grain-free stuffing– Who says you need bread to make stuffing? There are lots of gluten free stuffings to choose from these days, like stuffings made with rice or gluten free bread crumbs, but this year I chose a grain- free version, and it just might be my favorite yet. It’s light but still hearty enough to fill the role of standard American stuffing. The fresh herbs are really the key to delivering the fall flavors that you’d expect in a stuffing.

Mashed Cauliflower – If white potatoes aren’t on your diet, or if you’re just looking for some variety, then try some mashed cauliflower instead. The texture is naturally a bit different but it’s sure to satisfy, and most importantly, tastes great with gravy.

Cranberry Sauce– This spiced cranberry sauce is simply divine. I think it would be just as satisfying a la mode as it is with the Thanksgiving turkey. Plus, it’s so simple to prepare that there’s no reason to ever go back to the canned stuff.

Green Bean Casserole– Personally I’ve never been a fan of green bean casserole, but when I came across this recipe I knew I had to give it another chance. We modified the recipe and didn’t use the nutritional yeast called for because I’m allergic to yeast, but it still turned out deliciously. I can only imagine how scrumptious it would be if you followed the recipe completely.

Rolls– Let me first say that it’s tough to create a good gluten free roll or biscuit. I’ve tried many different recipes and most successful executions have been achieved with rice flower. Since I want to keep rice out of my diet for a few months though, I was excited to stumble across this recipe. The outside of the roll comes out crispy and wonderful, which can be tough to achieve when working with gluten free flours. The inside is a bit spongy, almost as if it’s not quite cooked all the way, which is definitely because of the tapioca flour. These rolls may not be for everyone, but I really quite like them and will definitely keep this recipe handy for future use.

Gravy– I have to be honest and say that I was underwhelmed by this recipe, and it took some tweaking to create something that would add the pizzazz that’s necessary on Thanksgiving. Adding some extra salt and thyme definitely helped but I can’t say that this is the best gravy I’ve ever had.

Flourless Pumpkin Bars– Ditch the crust and dig into these delicious pumpkin bars. I can’t say enough good things about these bars, they turned out beyond expectations. We subbed sunflower seed butter for almond butter and created our own glaze by mixing coconut oil, honey, vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt. Even my gluten-loving boyfriend loves them.

What are you T H A N K F U L for? My wish for you is that you take the time to meditate on and give thanks for all if the wonderful blessings in your life, no matter how big or small.

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I am T H A N K F U L for access to clean and delicious foods, and I am especially thankful for the hands that prepare them. I’m T H A N K F U L for supportive friends and family and the memories that we have made over the years. I am T H A N K F U L for my health, even as it is being restored to me. I’m T H A N K F U L for a cozy house and warm clothes on my back. The list goes on as I sit and reflect on past experiences, challenges, and victories, and relish in the simple joys of life, like painting my nails and sipping on tea out of my favorite mug.

Wishing you lots of love this Thanksgiving!

XX, K

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Pumpkin Muffins & Ginger Root Tea

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Pumpkin Muffins

Since today is the first day in November, it only seems appropriate to kick it off with a recipe for some scrumptious pumpkin treats! This recipe for pumpkin muffins is light, fluffy, and seriously delicious. Like every recipe you’ll find on this blog, its clean and gluten free. If you never bake another recipe again, make this your last. I promise that you’ll be in a pumpkin lover’s paradise. So grab that decorative pumpkin from your mantel, and let’s get started.

Dry Ingredients
1 1/2 C coconut flour
1 1/4 C tapioca flour, sifted
2 tsp baking powder
6 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp sea salt
3/4 C nuts or seeds for muffin toppings, optional (we used flax seeds, sunflower seeds, and chia seeds)

Wet ingredients
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 C coconut oil, melted
1 C olive oil
1 C organic agave nectar
1/2 C honey
3 C cooked pumpkin, chopped into medium sized chunks
8 eggs, at room temp

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Directions:
Prepare pumpkin by using a spoon to scoop out the guts and a knife to peel off the skin. Cut into large chunks and boil until nice and soft. Like a potato, the pumpkin should slide off of your fork when ready.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Use an electric mixer to beat eggs, agave, and honey until the eggs become foamy. Add all wet ingredients one by one as you continue to blend the mixture with your electric mixer.

Once all of the wet ingredients are well combined, start adding the dry ingredients one at a time, making sure that each ingredient is well combined into the mixture before adding the next. Mix continuously until lump free.

Lightly grease tin muffin cups with olive oil or butter, fill cups about 2/3 full with batter, and sprinkle your desired but or seed on top of each muffin. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool for 10-15 minutes on wire rack. Makes 2 dozen light and fluffy muffins. Enjoy with your favorite cup of hot tea, I love a wonderful ginger root tea and have included a simple recipe below.

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Hot Ginger Root Tea

Personally, I love to snack on these treats with a cup of hot ginger tea, which is super simple to make.

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All you’ll need is an organic ginger root and some filtered water. You’ll just need 3 or 4, half inch cubes of ginger to make a spicy cup of tea. First, you’ll need to boil a few cups of water in a small pot on the stove. While the water is heating up, peel the piece of ginger that you’ll be using. Next, cut a few chunks of ginger. Once your water has come to a boil, drop the ginger into the hot water and let seep for about 15 minutes, then pour into your favorite tea cup.

Now, you have a few options- If you prefer a spicier cup of tea, transport the chunks of ginger to your tea cup as well. For those of you who are a little more fancy, you can add a few squeezes of lemon, or some peppermint essential oil. I prefer peppermint essential oil by Young Living. It’s important to note that you can’t go about ingesting just any oil- the brand must be 100% pure, which is why I recommend YL.

I hope you enjoy these simple fall treats, and have a super lovely Friday!

XX, K