10 Holistic Tips for Allergy Season

Hello friends! Allergy season is well upon us and if you are anything like me (with a butt ton of allergies) then you will enjoy these holistic and natural tips I’ve found to really help me out through the blooming months. On the subject of allergies, let me give you a overview of the severity that I deal and have dealt with (they have gotten better and more manageable over the years.) I’ve have a skin prick test for upwards of like 100 or so different allergens in the state of Idaho. Big distinction there, depending on where you’re from will influence allergen contact. Anyway my results were severe in grass, pollen, trees, cats and sagebrush (save me! Idaho is like 80% sagebrush.) Essentially I’m allergic to anything in Idaho that blooms, or meows. Add that to my food allergies/sensitivities of gluten, dairy, eggs, cranberries, bell peppers, onions and corn….and that movie Bubble Boy with Jake Gyllenhaal starts looking like an unfortunate reality.

However, there is a light at the end of the bubble…uh…tunnel. Through some trial and error I’ve compiled the best tips to not only get me through my terrible allergies but to actually reduce them! I can only speak for myself so take this all with a grain of sand. Somethings that have worked for me, may not work for you. With that said, let’s get to it!DSCN1737

 

1. Let’s get the obviously not ‘natural’ one out of the way and that is conventional antihistamines. Although I’d love to be able to do away with pharmaceuticals the fact of the matter is science has made amazing leaps in medicine and they can be helpful, downright lifesaving if you wanted to use them in conjunction with alternative medicines. I used to have to take upwards of 10 little pills to get through the worst pollen-filled days. Even though, as my allergy specialist told me, they have a low risk profile in taking more than the recommended dose, I felt it was pretty excessive at  the level I was taking. Now I can take 2 or 3 only on days I know I’ll be outside in nature and all its pollen-y goodness. That with all the other tips have helped me get to a very low maintenance level with the allergies, which is FAR from being Bubble Girl.

2. Nettle Leaf. This one is best for actual symptoms, instead of prevention  but it helps nonetheless. My favorite way is to take nettle leaf is as tea but I also use supplement form because it is a little more convenient but also more expensive. Hot nettle tea or iced nettle tea with a little raw honey (more great health benefits there!) tastes a bit like green tea maybe more planty but very pleasant.

3. On that same thread, Raw Honey and Bee Pollen are great sources of local pollen sources in small doses that help build up your immunities to the area much like allergy shots. I always go for raw local bee products in my area to get my system attuned to the allergens around me. To get the most out of your bee pollen, consume it with fruit. A sprinkle on top of a smoothie or bowl of fruit with do you.

4. Turmeric. This root spice, among other amazing uses is great for reducing inflammation. With many allergies, my sinus’s tend to get inflamed and cause pressure headaches, stuffy noses or internal inflammation if gluten is involved. Turmeric has a very UNIQUE taste….well it tastes a bit like dirt. Fancy dirt. The earthy-ness is pretty strong but the benefits are worth it. My favorite ways to consume it is in curries, golden milk or supplement form for the active compound curcumin. For golden milk, I mix turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, cardamon, nutmeg, clove and black pepper with some coconut milk and heat it up to a little simmer then drink hot.

5. Coconut Oil. This one kinda goes without saying, if you’ve kept up with popular health trends and how amazing coconut oil is. True as it is coconut oil has anti; bacterial, fungal, inflammatory and viral properties plus it’s composition of medium chain fatty acids means it bypasses cholesterol in it’s metabolism going straight into the blood steam and off to where it’s needed. I like to add some to smoothies, cook with it, use as a facial/body/hair moisturizer and most helpful oil pulling with it. I take a heaping teaspoon of organic virgin coconut oil in my mouth, let it melt, then swish it around for 15-20 minutes (usually while showering/getting ready), spit out in the trash and brush my teeth. Helps draw toxins out as well as improving breath and whitening teeth. I find if I do it consistently, my brain feels clearer and my allergies are less severe.

6. Neti Pot. Another good way to reduce allergy symptoms is the neti pot. I add in a 1/4 tsp of neti salt to warm filtered water, let it dissolve then irrigate my nostrils to free up irritants and excess mucus, also great when you’re sick.

7. After watching holischabits on Youtube I was inspired to pick up a Himalayan Salt Inhaler off Amazon. Occasionally I get wheezy when my allergies hit and having an alternative to a conventional inhaler is nice. Whether or not the magic negative ions in the salt actually help purify my lungs, I don’t know but it’s nice to have in case I do get wheezy.

8. Sleep. This is one of the biggest helpers for overall health. Sleep is your re-charge button that allows your body to heal and re-set. Quality of sleep is also important. I like to eliminate as many light emitting electronics from my bedroom as possible, with exception of my cell phone which I turn face down on my dresser. I put up blackout curtains for complete darkness and use a Himalayan Salt Lamp for red/orange light to promote melatonin production. I generally try to read or do non-technological things before bed so my brain can wind down.

9. Eating a Clean Diet. Of all the tips I’ve shared this is the one that has had the most impact on me. My slow journey of food allergy elimination has finally paid off. Once I took all those irritants (for MY body) out as well as processed foods and refined sugars I started focusing on a whole food, plant based diet (I say based, not exclusive.) Now a few years later, my allergies are hardly noticeable as long as I keep taking proper care of myself, which happily includes my favorite past time, eating. Second breakfast anyone?

10. De-stress;  Another one for overall health. Maybe de-stressing hasn’t had a direct impact on my allergies but knowing when to let things go and having healthy (non alcoholic) ways to relax and unwind keep me from snowballing. Which tends to start with stress and end with illness. It never rains, it pours, am I right? This includes a healthy state of mind. Mental health is just as equal as physical health (you know….holistic and overall) so connect with whatever makes you feel grounded and allow time for that connection.

I hope these tips help you during allergy season and if you have any other tips leave them in the comment below!

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Raw Vegan & Grain Free: Key Lime ‘Cheese’ Cake

This tart/ ‘cheese’cake guys. O. M. G. This was so easy to make and is way higher in protein, less in fat and sugar than regular cheesecake (well, no shit?) This has a nut/date based crust with a soaked cashew/lime filling. Lots of nuts. Sorry to you out there allergic to tree nuts, I know the struggle (I grew out of a peanut allergy.) It’s certainly a food processor/ high powered blender recipe but that makes it super easy. I found this on Pinterest (no surprises there, I’m addicted and totally OK with it.)

For the full recipe from Neely Wang click right here.

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Doesn’t that just look divine? Yea, I know you said yes.

I made one addition to the original recipe, I added shredded coconut which is certainly complimentary to the limey goodness. Now you may be wondering why I would make such a delicious treat? The answer is; my Mom’s birthday. You go Eileen. She loves anything lime or lemon and recently has gone gluten free with me (I wonder where I got it from, eh?)

She also likes to update the world on holistic health and whole foods from our farm through her Facebook Page called Eileen’s Edibles which you can check out right here. Go say hi and peruse if you like.

Since I’m home I thought I’d treat her and make her not one but TWO birthday cakes. This lime ‘cheese’ cake is number one and the cashew/black bean one is in the oven as we speak.

For the recipe for how I make the cashew/black bean one from Lexie’s Kitchen click here.01051ee43060bdbec62b596f022e57f39ee8b8b1c5 I will say that, since I used a spring form tart pan it needed to be frozen because the filling is like a custard consistency. The original recipe’s tart had side crusts to keep the filling in. Never fear, however, it is still just as tasty frozen. It’s almost like ice cream cake, actually.

What I would do to make a firmer ‘cheese’ would be to skip with water and add some more soaked cashews. Having been well practiced now in the art of making tasty things out of cashews I think I know a thing or two. Something magical happens when soaked cashews meet an acid (be it vinegar for nut cheese or citrus juice) it become a firm soft cheese type texture, the more cashews you add the more frim the end product will be. So skip the water and add more cashews to get a more true to regular cheesecake type consistency. Then you won’t have to freeze it.
01c1c6839f1a1ad66d48e0634f6e0bd093a3f913a8Most of all don’t forget to ENOJY!

Happy August my sexy melted popsicles!

Best of luck to all you sorority girls and potential new pledges that are going to be going through recruitment, wear comfy shoes!

Strawberry Rose Bee Pollen Kombucha

So far, this has got to be my favorite flavor mix for Kombucha. It’s delicate with strawberry and rose hints but with the unique sweetness of bee pollen. I love using bee pollen as a superfood since it is a complete protein and helps with allergies (which anything I can get to help with mine will be in my mouth.)0172054c72fe160f1661ce7cf42417e9d35683a518This one is black tea based. I simply threw the flavors in with like another 1/3 cup sugar to re-feed the yeast. I left it out for 24 hours and viola! Kombucha. I will say glass is a superior bottling medium than plastic but I have these jugs and they fit so much more in there than the mason jars I have. I do release the gas occasionally mostly because I’m paranoid about it exploding ( it gets real pressurized, real quick.) 01ae83be39311ef2185494f2ff87ca2217e1a2afc9

Vegan Banana Butterscotch Fudgesicles

OMG these are SO GOOD! It’s getting hot, and nothing is better to cool off than something cold AND chocolaty.

I adapted these from Half Baked Harvest, for the full recipe click here for chocolaty goodness.

Essentially these are coconut milk and cashew based fudgesicles.

The only additions I made were:

  • 1 whole ripe banana
  • 1/4 tsp. gluten free butterscotch flavoring

 

I picked up my molds from Bed, Bath and Beyond for $4.99. Let it set up overnight and NomNomNomNomNom. Run under warm water to loosen.

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Popcorn Alternative: Roasted Garbanzo Beans

The other day I was stricken with a need for a crunchy snack. I unfortunately am Gluten, Dairy, Egg, Soy and Corn Free…so what’s a girl to do when she really really wants POPCORN? Roast some garbanzo beans. Or chickpeas. Whatever you prefer to call these little versatile bits of goodness.

I’ve never thought to roast garbanzo beans, although I used them regularly either in hummus or a vegan cake batter dip (girl needs her chocolate.) I was pleasantly surprised at the result and have future tasty plans to keep roasted garbanzo beans a regular snack in my household.

I prefer these over nuts, since they are smaller and less calorie packed. Although I love nuts, sometimes they are just too much. Plus with garbanzo beans you’re getting a bit of protein and way less carbs than you would with traditional popcorn. As I generally prefer a lower carb (grain carb at least) diet, these are awesome.
013c07b44ae8af8311e00c7d06f4d5384e7e8d6045 Here’s what I did:

  • Rinse and dry 2 cans of Garbanzo Beans (I used lower sodium ones)
  • Toss in your choice of oil (I used 1 tsp. melted coconut oil and 1 tsp. melted bacon fat)
  • Add flavors (I went for a hot wing flavor with 2 tbs. Franks Hot Sauce, Salt and chili powder but you can do whatever you want)

Once well coated, pour onto a baking sheet. Beans should be in a single layer with some space in between, to allow for optimum roasty toasting. Bake at 400 degrees for about an hour or until crispy (depending on your oven strength, mine is pretty wanny).

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The Finished Product! Mmm get in my mouth.


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Kombucha 101

I love kombucha.

WTF is kombucha may you ask?

It’s basically fermented tea. Only not as gross as it sounds. Much like other fermented foods like sauerkraut or kimchi the fermentation allows a mini ecosystem of good guys to grow that can aid in heath/digestion/pH balance/ overall well being. Being dairy free it’s nice to have a probiotic alternative that doesn’t cost $8 a pint (like some goat and coconut based yogurts.) I think kombucha is an amazing beverage with lots of good bacteria that can improve health. If you want to know more on the health aspects you can google it. There are quite a few benefits. I drink it mostly for the good bacteria and pH balancing. I’ve just started brewing so we will see if it has an impact on weight from frequent consumption and the balancing effect it can have on gut health (which we all know can be a huge factor in everyday life.)

This is the book I picked up to start. I decided to start making my own for the heath benefits, but also because $3 a bottle is too steep for more than an occasional indulgence or passing cold (which I always drink when under the weather.) This is pretty simple, but I supplemented info from the magical internets as well.

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The Quick and Dirty of Kombucha Brewing

From what I’ve gathered here are the basics of what you’ll need:

  • A SCOBY (symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast)
  • Liquid Kombucha starter (generally a cup from a previous batch or distilled vinegar, recipes vary)
  • Tea (black, green, white or oolong. Not sure yet about herbal)
  • Sugar
  • Water
  • Fermentation Vessel (Glass sounds like the best option)
  • Cloth to cover the top + Rubber band (Generally like a TShirt)
  • Bottles to store the finished product

After sanitizing EVERYTHING in hot soapy water (this prevents possible contamination) brew your tea of choice. You throw in around 8 or so tea bags. Steep. Add 1 cup of sugar and LET IT COOL. To prevent mold your tea must be below 90 degrees F before you add your liquid starter and SCOBY. You can either wait, or add more water to cool it down. You can make the tea in a separate vessel too before adding to the actual fermentation vessel. Once the tea is added into the clean fermentation vessel, add the liquid starter and your SCOBY. Place a cloth over the top and secure it with a rubber band. Now you place it somewhere with a consistent temperature (not in direct sunlight.) The book said the ideal temp is around 70-80 degrees F. Then you forget about it for a few days. Check to see if the SCOBY is making a baby SCOBY (Which it will) and if there is yeast growth. Pretty much the only undesirable thing you want to look for is fuzzy mold. Everything else, dark strains, cloudy bits,  goopy bits, stringy bits, troll bogie lookin bits are all OK. That’s just more colonies of SCOBY and yeast. There’s a lot of photos online you can check against if you’re worried. Then you taste it. It should not be sweet, since the yeast ate it and grew you a SCOBY.

There are 2 steps to kombucha.

1st Fermentation and 2nd Fermentation

Above is the 1st fermentation. You can totally drink it as is after the initial fermentation but it will lack the bubbles and fancy flavors that store bought kombucha has.

2nd Fermentation

Essentially 2nd fermentation is adding more sugar (food) for the yeast and waiting a little longer for bubbles to form. Once you’ve decided the kombucha has fermented enough, you choose your flavors (usually fruit) and transfer it to another container usually bottles with air tight lids. The fruit or flavorings introduce more sugar for the yeast and the air tight bottle allows for the bubble to form, trapped in the bottle. Ooo fizzy. The book recommends putting some in a plastic bottle to gauge the pressure and therefore ‘doneness’ of your kombucha without opening the glass bottles. Then you move them to the fridge where biologic activity slows way way down. Then they’re ready to drink.

You can also turn it into alcohol by waiting even longer….but that is a topic for more experienced kombucha brewers not a first time beginner, such as myself.

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What I Did:

I bought my SCOBY on Amazon, it was shipped to me fresh not dehydrated. For my first batch I tried a Nettle Tea/Ginger Tea Mix. I was too excited and received my SCOBY before the book and started it before I knew quite everything I needed. I was afraid my SCOBY was  going to die, because it was sitting in my hot mail box for a few hours before I retrieve it and I didn’t know what to do with it once I had it.

What you can do is pop it in the fridge. That slows things down and is where you should store your SCOBYs if they aren’t fermenting tea for you.

The tea I chose was herbal and it didn’t grow a strong baby SCOBY. I also didn’t have liquid starter. On the fourth day I realized I needed that and it was CRITICAL to the batch so I added some vinegar (Organic Apple Cider). Overall I’m guessing it worked. There is a really thin layer ontop of my giant glass barrel jar, which I’m assuming was/is the baby SCOBY. In the photo above you can see the original disc shaped SCOBY and the weird troll bogie looking thing. There was no mold, however. I had problems with temperature, the book says you ought to have a thermometer on the side to check. My apartment is really cold naturally and in Northern Idaho…in May. So it took about 2 weeks to get to where I wanted it. Now it’s getting warmer more consistently so future batches should go quicker. I found my container at ROSS for like $10.

I did stir it a few times, because I can’t keep my hands off and need to fuss with it. I did add a bit more sugar and vinegar because I was paranoid about mold.

Eventually, I transferred 2 pints into clean 1 pint mason jars with lids..ect. I added mango and pineapple to mine for 2nd fermentation, left it on the counter for 2 days and then put it in the fridge. So far I’ve almost drank a whole pint…yum. My containers weren’t completely air tight and gas was escaping…oh well. I’m too cheap to buy new things, instead of reusing mason jars that I already have. I was also a bit paranoid about the jars exploding. Which can happen from too much pressure buildup. Thus why they recommend a plastic tester bottle. So my first batch is really delicately flavored, gingery mango pineapple with just a skif of bubbles.

It said you can reuse your SCOBY and since my baby one isn’t big I just left like 4 cups of the last batch and the SCOBYs in there and added GREEN TEA this time. It’s only been a day, but I can already tell it’s more robust. Stay tuned…

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Like anything you can brew, it’s more like an art form. There is a lot of room for creativity and flavor combinations. We’ll see what I come up with and what seems to work best.

Wish me luck!

Chocolate Blackbean Cashew Cake: Gluten, Dairy and Egg Free!

Happy Birthday to me! I just turned 23 and what’s a girl with allergies to do when you want some cake? Make it yourself. Happily I got a food processor for my birthday, just in time to whip up this amazing decadent allergy friendly chocolate cake. I based the recipe off of Lexie’s Kitchen, for the full recipe click here.

Essentially I doubled her recipe with the addition of a few dates to add more stability. I’ve made her recipe before in cupcake form, which was really good but a bit crumbly. With the dates it’s more like a fudge brownie consistency. Like yum. Get in my mouth.

Have a bit of champagne too, to celebrate birthday’s, end of college semesters and 2 year anniversaries. Needless to say it’s been a good week, finals and all.

01719c14233617ba4e2967fd884ac761310617826e For the frosting I used the fat of a can of coconut milk, coconut oil, cocoa powder and powdered sugar.

It didn’t really work out…I’m still figuring out coconut milk frosting techniques, but I just popped it in the freezer for a bit to firm then piped it out. Since this cake is meant to be served chilled, the frosting works ok but otherwise it would be running err’where.

Lastly I topped it with some tasty blackberries, perfectly spaced for optimal serving sizes. This cake is so dense, chocolatey and rich. You don’t need much because its so rich. However, it’s not super sweet which I really like. Sweetness often makes me sick, but this is perfect since it’s sweetened with honey. I used local RAW honey. Mmmmm best thing ever.

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Raw Chocolate Blackberry Date Truffles

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  • 10 pitted organic dates
  • 1 cup abouts of soaked cashews
  • 2 tbs cocoa powder
  • 6-7 blackberries
  • 1 tsp raw local honey
  • 2 tbs coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup or more of shredded organic coconut
  • powdered sugar + shredded coconut to roll them in

All I did was combine all the ingredients and blend with my immersion blender. This would have been WAY easier if I had a food processor….hopefully one will be on its way too me for my birthday next week. Fingers crossed! I rubbed my hands with coconut oil so the mix wouldn’t stick as much to my hands and rolled them up into little balls. Then I rolled them in the powdered sugar and shredded coconut, popped into the freezer and enjoyed after dinner!

I’ve been recently watching a lot of raw foodies on YouTube and have been inspired to incorporate more raw foods into my diet. I’ve gotten to a point, as often happens, when I feel the need to tweak my diet. Lately I’ve just been feeling like poop. Blame it on springs allergies, or an imbalance from a accidental glutination from over a MONTH ago, but I’ve been suffering from headaches and general fatigue. So I decided to try a more raw/vegan diet. It’s certainly not realistic for me to go all out, nor do I think it’s all that healthful to limit myself EVEN more than I have to already. After packing my fridge with a ton of produce and juicing some I noticed that, although I’m not going full out raw/vegan there is little room in my tummy for any other foods. Which is great. The sheer amount of produce fills me up quickly and has been keeping me *ahem* regular. Tis nice. Feels good. Body is working clean and efficient only after a few days. Although my focus is incorporating raw/vegan the shift to mostly produce/plant based has so far alleviated my grossness and allergies, so here’s to health and trying new recipes!

Vegan “Goat Cheese”

Wow. Just wow. This is about the coolest thing ever and I just want to put it on everything…sort of. This magical spread is a dairy free, vegan, gluten free nut based “cheese.” Now usually I get away with goat or sheep cheese, being allergic/intolerant to the trifecta of gluten dairy and eggs. I think this is because there is a different strain of protein (I think it’s a protein anyway) in goat and sheep milk called A-2, whereas regular Holstein cow milk (most dairy in the US) is A-1. Which, as many of you lactose intolerant people have experienced, is not easily digestible and more often than not entirely irritating to the system.

However, lately I’ve been not having so much luck with any cheese. I blame it on my seasonal allergies making my body hyper alert and sensitive. Poo poo. This nut cheese is pretty bomb, though. I got the original recipe from Fork and Beans and you can check it out here.

This is the original recipe without the pesto/basil layer.

For Nut Cheese:

  • 1/2 c. raw cashews, soaked for 2-3 hours, drained
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/3 c. water
  • 1 Tb coconut oil
  • 1 tsp raw apple cider vinegar
  • pinch of salt

DIRECTIONS

  1. Take both small glass ramekins and line with plastic wrap. Don’t skip this step. Trust me. I learned the hard way.
  2. In a high-speed blender, blend all of the nut cheese ingredients until smooth. Place part of the mixture into lined ramekins.
  3. Refrigerate for several hours until set. You can also freeze it.

So, like I do, I loosely followed this recipe. I definitely used more than a 1/2 cup of cashews and forgot lemon juice. That may be a crucial step in the setting up of the ‘cheese’ but I like it still without, so next time. I substituted coconut oil for avocado oil and added nutritional yeast, dill, thyme and fresh basil. Then I blended it with my immersion blender and plopped it into a plastic wrap lined bowl and into the fridge it went!

Here is the finished product.01d42959dd15ee36a2b2a1bcabd63dc4e012dcc120 It’s definitely more like ricotta, I guess. It lacks stability like a chevere but it still is a nice tasty protein packed spread for my freshly made gluten free bread. 0158901bf6f4698bfb4758d36af9fe846e54c6fc83 01b4fb6fc83a7d0e556a489b52a9f52a7c5a9fc891Let me know if what your favorite cashew based treats are! Happy spring lil Cottontails!