Why I Make Elderberry Syrup

By October 27, 2015 Uncategorized

This time of year I love anything with immune boosting properties. I hate to see my children suffer when feeling really sick and I too need that extra immunity. All of us do! There are many ways to boost our immune system but one of my favorites is making elderberry syrup. I love it because it’s incredibly simple to make, it costs way less when made at home and my kids love it. They remind me to give it to them each night! We typically take a teaspoon full at night after dinner but also drizzle it on foods such as fruit or yogurt.

Elderberry, known by its herbal names as Sambucus Nigra has been used as a folk remedy in many parts of the world such Asia, Europe, Africa and North America. The immune boosting properties of elderberries have been widely studied. These berries have bioflavinoids which act as antioxidants in the body and actually decrease the ability of cold and flu viruses to infect a cell. In one randomized double blind placebo study, Elderberry syrup was also shown to reduce the duration of the flu by 3-4 days.

I purchase the brand Frontier Natural Products Co-op – as they are organic and come in a 1lb bag. This is my third year using the berries from this bag, so they last quite a while.


1 cup of dried elderberries
2 cups of water
1 cinnamon stick (optional)
2 cups of honey

Combine the all the ingredients except the honey in a small saucepan, bring to a boil and then turn it down to a simmer uncovered for about 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. You’ll know it’s ready when the liquid is reduced by about half. Take it off the heat and let it cool to room temperature, then add honey and stir well. I place the syrup in a glass jar and put it in the fridge.

This amount will last my family of four all winter. You can double the recipe or cut it in half depending on your needs.

*Recipe adapted from a Mommypotamus recipe and a great video can be found at her site on how to make it. http://www.mommypotamus.com/elderberry-syrup-recipe/

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Nourishing the Busy Mama

By September 17, 2015 Uncategorized

We all know we feel better when we eat a nourishing diet. Perhaps we have more energy, a smoother digestive system, or maybe we sleep better or experience less anxiety. Sometimes we feel really in control of our nutrition and there are times where that seems out of reach. Maybe we’re busy at work, or transitioning back to work after maternity leave, or we’re home with small ones during the day and have a hard time prioritizing our own meals. We all experience periods of less than optimal nutrition. I know this from my own personal experience and from consulting with so many women about nutrition. It’s challenging to nourish ourselves consistently well.

In busy times I really focus on simple foods that add a whole bunch of vitamins and minerals to a busy Mom’s diet. These are all foods that most of us are familiar with but can be nice to focus on when we’re busy. These ideas can nourish a pregnancy, a breastfeeding Mom or a Mom with kids of any age.

Vitamin C Rich Foods

There is actually new research linking high levels of vitamin C intake with feeling less stress! Literally people with lots of vitamin C in their bodies experience a reduction in the mental and physical toll of stress. Typically when I am so busy that I’m not eating that well, then I also feel stress. So I always reach for vitamin C rich foods which very conveniently are pretty easy eat on the go: green and red bell peppers, citrus fruits, strawberries, raspberries, broccoli, sea vegetables and kale (think easy to grab kale chips).


I am in love with sprouts as they are SO easy to put on just about everything. Sprouts have an incredibly high amount of bioavailable vitamins and minerals since they contain everything a plant will need to grow. They are also rich in enzymes that aid in digestion. My personal favorites are broccoli, kale or sunflower sprouts. Also, look for sprouted nuts and seeds for a great on the go snack.

*It is common advice for women to avoid raw vegetable sprouts during pregnancy.

Pregnancy Tea

This tea is a wonderful tonic for pregnancy and beyond as it contains many herbs including oatstraw and red raspberry leaf and many others. Oatstraw is known as a nerve tonic to help reduce anxiety and support restful sleep. Red raspberry leaf is well known to support the female hormonal cycle. You can make a batch at night and drink it throughout the day. It’s not just for pregnancy!

Sea Vegetables

These come in so many different varieties from dulse flakes to hijiki or kombu and can be used in a multitude of ways. These foods are high in iodine, iron and vitamin C (see above) but also there is new research into the positive impact of sea vegetables in supporting female hormone regulation. I use these foods in many different ways but when I am busy, I put dulse flakes on my foods or rehydrate hijiki (poor boiling water over it and let it sit for 10-20 minutes) and put it over rice or just snack on them.


This is just an easy way to get the benefits of vegetables while also getting the benefits of fermented foods. Fermentation can help break down the nutrients in food to a more bio-available form so we get more nutrients while also getting great probiotics to support digestion and the immune system. These days we can make our own varieties or get wonderful locally made store bought ones.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is an incredibly nutrient dense food that provides healthy highly absorbable fats. These fats support a healthy metabolism, hormone regulation, the immune system and stress relief. It’s such a great food for busy times and it’s especially nourishing for pregnant and/or breastfeeding mothers too. You can easily put it in smoothies, just melt some in a hot beverage or lather it on your skin for a great moisturizer.

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Boosting Immunity Naturally

By March 4, 2015 Uncategorized

As a Nutritional Consultant that works with families, I often work with parents that are looking to strengthen their own immune system as well as those of their children. Cold and flu season can hit hard some years and then we move right into allergy season. I know in my family when my children are sick they don’t sleep and then I don’t sleep and it can be a downward spiral for us all! I’m sure many can relate to that. So we work hard to boost immunity to the benefit of the whole family.


Many potential pathogens can enter our bodies through our food, so it make sense that 70-80% of our immune system is located in the digestive tract. Making sure we have a diversified amount of healthy bacteria is the base of our body’s defense. This is especially important if you or your children have recently taken antibiotics or if they have taken several rounds already. A daily dose of high quality probiotics can make a huge improvement in immune function. I personally like Biocult Probiotics as I think they are received well by many. The capsules can be broken open and taken with food for smaller children.

Vitamins A and D

These vitamins are crucial components of our immune system and work on many different levels to fight infections. New research shows how they specifically support the immune system in our gut. A daily dose of cod liver oil will include both vitamins A and D and traditionally many mothers gave their children daily doses to ward off illness! Other ways to get these vitamins include:

Vitamin A can be found in liver from any animal, pastured butter, egg yolks (more if chickens were on pasture), cream from grass fed cows, and cod liver oil. There are many other sources of pro-vitamin A (squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, etc.) and these are wonderfully nutritious foods. However, it is difficult to convert even a small percentage of these foods into the active form of vitamin A so if our dietary preferences are such that we eat animal products, I highly suggest getting Vitamin A from the above sources.

Getting Vitamin D from sun exposure is wonderful but this time of year it can be challenging. Great food sources are: pastured eggs, grass fed milk or dairy products, liver, wild salmon, and sardines.

Vitamin C

Another incredible member of our defense team is Vitamin C. This vitamin gets depleted quickly when our body is fighting illness so it becomes extra important to get while we are sick. We can get it in all sorts of foods such as: cantaloupe, citrus fruits, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, kiwi, and mango (and also liver). I think taking a powdered form of vitamin C from acerola or camu can be a wonderful addition to the vitamin c we get through food. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin and any excess will be carried out of the body safely. Too much vitamin c can cause loose bowels so it should always be taken to “bowel tolerance” and this amount is different for everyone.

Elderberry Syrup (with local honey)

Elderberry syrup with honey can be a wonderful immune boosting tool for the toolbox. Elderberries are full of vitamin C and elderberry syrup has been shown to boost immunity. If you use local honey in the recipe then you are also getting the immune boosting properties of the honey too. Honey should not be given to babies under one year. Here is a great link to an elderberry syrup tutorial by Mommypotamus.


A spoonful of honey has also been shown to help us all sleep better which is why I give it to my kids before bed!

Decreasing Sugar

I know first hand how challenging it can be to keep sugar to a minimum! While we really don’t consume sugar in our home, it is difficult to avoid since it seems such an integral part of our society. Keeping vigilant about limiting sugar intake for my kids takes up SO MUCH of my time but I do it because the research is very clear that ingesting sugar impairs the body’s white blood cell’s ability to kill germs for several hours. There are many other reasons to avoid sugar but we’ll just stick to that one reason right now. We try to focus on treats sweetened with maple syrup or honey. My next post will expand more on this subject since it’s such a big one!

I hope you all stay healthy!

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Salt is Beneficial for Babies

By February 19, 2015 Uncategorized

Salt is always a big topic of conversation in my Introducing Solids to babies classes. There are some popular websites and books that recommend completely restricting salt from a baby’s diet. I disagree and believe that unrefined salt is a healthy component of a baby’s diet.

There is a reason that salt is one of the five flavors that we taste in food (along with sweet, bitter, sour and unami/savory) and why our food tastes better with salt. The two main components of salt are sodium and chloride. We need both of these elements for survival and since our bodies cannot make them, we must get them through our food.   In ancient cultures salt was considered a holy food and Plato described salt as “especially dear to the gods.” Throughout history salt has been traded by different cultures and used as a flavoring and preservative. It has only been in recent history that salt has been looked upon as an unhealthy food that should be severely restricted or avoided. These recommendations make no distinction between refined and unrefined salt and they don’t take into account the nutritional benefits of unrefined salt.

The white table salt that is so ubiquitous in our society has been highly refined. The refining of salt uses many processes and chemicals to strip salt of the trace minerals. All of the research highlighting the negative effects of salt on the body has been done using refined sea salt. I agree that we should limit or eliminate this type of salt in our diets.

Unrefined sea salt is very different from its refined counterpart. In its natural state salt contains eighty highly absorbable trace minerals such as iodine, magnesium, calcium, potassium and bromide. These minerals are naturally found together and in proportions that support many processes in the body. For example, salt supports metabolism, detoxification, hydration, moving nutrients through the body, hormone production and the immune system. Salt is also essential for the growth and development of the brain.

Small amounts of unrefined salt have always been a part of traditional diets for babies. Nina Planck, author of Real Food for Mom and Baby, writes about recipes from traditional baby food books that nourished many generations of babies all of which contain a “pinch of salt”. In the book Super Nutrition for Babies authors Katherine Erlich, M.D. and Kelly Genzlinger encourage the use of unrefined sea salt in a baby’s diet and state, “Particularly, unrefined salt is important for proper digestion and nutrient assimilation and thus serves to bolster the immune system.”

Salt is only white once it has been refined and bleached so unrefined salt will have a color like beige, grey or pink. I recommend Celtic sea salt or Himalayan salt and adding small amounts of unrefined salt to any food you make your baby.

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Thanks for visiting

By December 13, 2013 Uncategorized

…more coming soon.

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