Monthly Archives: November 2011

Elderberry Taste Test

I love Elderberry.  If you take some right at the moment that you feel a tickle in your nose or throat, it can usually head off an illness pretty quick!

This is what I had in my house today as far as Elderberry products go. (I TOLD you my stash of homeopathic remedies would make you jealous!)  

My standard go-to elderberry syrup, for me or my boys, is the Sambucus Sugar-Free (orange box). I buy that in bulk 🙂 But there are so many products out there, that I thought a taste test might be in order (and my Coconut Water Taste Test was so darn fun!).

The verdict?

The Natural Elderberry Concentrate by Natural Sources was DELICIOUS. You mix the concentrate with water and it isn’t syrupy or too sweet.  Tastes like a glass of juice you’d willingly drink in the morning.  BUT I didn’t like the packaging. I could pull the seal off with my bare hands, and there was no inner seal under the cap.

I was so suspicious, I actually sent it back thinking something was wrong with the bottle. Nope. The second bottle was exactly the same. I guess I’m just paranoid. This needs to be refrigerated after opening.

The Sambucus Sugar-Free Syrup (orange box) is my kids’ favorite. They ask, “Is this the good elderberry or the yucky one?”  This is the good one. There’s an adult dose and child does both for maintenance and intensive use. AND it comes with this on the label, “Safety sealed with printed outer shrinkwrap and printed inner seal. Do not use if either seal is broken or missing…” And it’s in bold font. Perhaps they could give some advice to the Natural Sources people…

The Original Sambucus Syrup (purple box) has fructose in it, a bit sweeter. I’ll stick with the Sugar-Free.

Both of the Sambucus products have 100mg standardized elderberry (extract from 6.4g of berries).

The Sambucol Original Formula was my least favorite. It tasted more like a cough syrup. This is the “yucky” one my kids referred to in the previous question. It has MORE sugar (3g more than Sambucus) and the elderberry extract is only 3.8g.

The zinc elderberry lozenges are amazing. They are free of artificial sweeteners , colors or flavors, and have no corn syrup, sucrose or cane sugar (they’re sweetened with brown rice syrup). Each lozenge has 3.8g of proprietary blend of elderberry and 5mg of zinc. I eat 1-2 of these every day during cold season.

The last elderberry product in my stash was the Sambucol Cold and Flu Relief.  It’s unopened, so I can’t tell you if it works or not. (Perhaps this is a good endorsement that my proactive approach of elderberry and zinc is working!)  They are quick dissolve tablets and should be taken an the onset of symptoms. It says fast relief of nasal and sinus congestion, runny nose, sore throat, coughing, sneezing and chills and fever. No know drug interactions, no known side effects, non-drowsy, non-habit forming. Can be given to children over age 4.  If I do get something this winter, I will definitely give these a try! But hopefully, like an umbrella, if I have this box with me, I won’t need it!

Here is a great explanation of why elderberry seems to work. Elderberry seems to be most effective against the flu–Influenza A and B

This is something I ALWAYS have around the house.  I truly believe it’s helped to improve my immune function the few times I’ve gotten run down 🙂

Do you have a favorite supplement that you turn to when you start to feel sick?


Gluten-Free Stuffing Recipes for Thanksgiving

This is going to be a quick post!

In preparation for Thanksgiving, I thought I’d pass along a New York Times Health article that came across my screen on gluten-free stuffing alternatives:

Stuffing is such a traditional part of Thanksgiving dinner (at least at our house!)…The smell of celery and onions cooking is rather intoxicating. I can’t imagine NOT having it!  These recipes take the same flavors and give them a new spin.

I haven’t tried any, so I can’t really recommend one over another, but if we didn’t have a nut allergy in the house, I’d try #2. I’m a sucker for butternut squash 🙂

Let us know if you end up trying one of the recipes! I’d love to hear how it turns out 🙂


What is Acrylamide?

It’s NOT a good thing!

Acrylamide is a toxic, colorless chemical compound that can form when certain foods are heated at high temperatures.  Reminds me of the post on grilling meat. Apparently cooking most foods at a high temperature is just plain bad for your health!

According to the FDA site, “Acrylamide is produced industrially for use in products such as plastics, grouts, water treatment products, and cosmetics. Acrylamide is also found in cigarette smoke.”  And it’s found in our food???

It was first discovered in food in 2002, but “they” suspect it has been always been present in foods that are roasted, baked or fried.

Like the HCAs that are produced when meat is cooked at high temps, acrylamide is formed when foods that come from plants (think potato, grains and coffee) are cooked at high temperatures.

What I found interesting on the FDA site was that there seem to be committees, research studies and action plans devoted to getting acrylamide out of our foods.  BUT, didn’t they explain that it isn’t caused by dangerous packaging or other industry protocols?  It’s user (read: cook) error.  (Or more accurately ignorance–have you ever heard of acrylamide?)  They can’t control how you prepare your food.  A better plan might be to devote their energy to educating the public on the dangers of consuming acrylamide and how to prevent (or at least reduce) exposure through different cooking techniques.  Just my two cents.

Dr. Mercola recently wrote an article on this very subject.  He mentioned one food that was “cancer in a can”.  He likes dramatic titles for his articles.  Anyway, if you have a few minutes to spare, it’s an interesting article.

So, show of hands…have you ever heard of this chemical before reading this post?  I hadn’t until I got the Mercola newsletter and did a little more investigating.  I’m guessing it isn’t common knowledge yet 🙂

One Extra Hour of Sleep

So did everyone enjoy that extra hour of shut-eye on Saturday night?

Considering my new career, I am interested in anything to do with sleep.  I don’t think I’ve mentioned it yet, but I’m now a Sleep Consultant for babies and young children!

In preparation for my 3-day training in Vancouver (when I got that crazy cold!), I read 1000s of pages on the topic of sleep.  I know more about Ferber, Weissbluth, Pantley, The Baby Whisperer and How to Become Baby Wise than I thought was humanly possible!  I can tell you why babies have a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep.  How parents can teach their children better sleep habits and finally start sleeping through the night. 

But I also learned about sleep in general and was particularly fascinated by our sleep debt.

What is sleep debt?  Imagine you are wearing a backpack.  Every hour that you either go to bed later or wake up earlier, you add a brick to your backpack.  If you are fairly consistent with the same wake-up and bed-times, you can usually “catch up” or get rid of your bricks by getting extra sleep over the weekend or going to bed a bit earlier during the week. But what if you are consistently depriving yourself of good, consolidated sleep?  Your backpack is going to get incredibly heavy and crush you!  Or you’ll walk around really slowly 🙂

One of the books I read for my pre-training was Sleep Thieves by Stanley Coren.  This book was a very interesting read! The main premise is that we, as a society, are operating on a fairly substantial sleep debt, and it affects everyone.  And most people don’t even know they have a sleep debt.  He has stories about truck drivers, pilot, teenagers, college students, to name a few. And the stories are eye-opening, and many make you think about sleep in a whole different way.

One story highlighted pulling all-nighters in college.  The student will stay up all night writing that 20-page paper or cramming for a final.  He is applauded by his parents and professor for his efforts, perseverance, and dedication and rewarded with a good grade.  But wasn’t the paper assigned a week ago (or longer)? And as for finals, those do tend to pop up at the end of every term pretty consistently!  He was basically praised for procrastinating?! When you look at it that way, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense…but that’s how our society operates. We are rewarded for output and results and if it compromises our health, so be it.

There were several ideas in the books like this…ones that made you think about a normal everyday situation in a different light.  He also had some pretty dramatic statistics.

One that stuck with me concerned Daylight Savings Time.  After the time change in the Fall (when we gain an hour of sleep), studies have shown a 7% decrease in traffic accidents?! And in the Spring, when we lose an hour, there is a 7% increase in traffic accidents!

I’m fascinated that one hour can have such a huge impact on our lives!  If one extra hour of sleep can have that profound of an effect on our society, it’s pretty scary to think about how sleep deprived we are as a nation!

Do you think you have a sleep debt? Do you wake up naturally at about the same time every day without an alarm clock? If so, you are probably getting enough sleep! But if you rely on that alarm clock 100% to get you up and out of the house on time, your backpack is probably overloaded with bricks.

What can you do to fix your sleep debt?  For at least a week, try going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, shooting for 8 hours of sleep each night.  If you’ve got a huge debt, you may actually need an hour or two beyond that.  Don’t bring your laptop and do work in your bed, or read that page-turner that you just can’t wait to finish. Watching tv in bed or talking to your best friend on the phone isn’t a great idea either.  When you get into bed, you should relax and not think about work or your to-do list!  Keep a pad and pen by your bed to write down anything that you don’t want to forget and then put it out of your mind for the rest of the night.

One final thought on the importance of sleep…Dr. William Dement, the leading sleep expert and author of The Promise of Sleep, explains: “Healthful sleep has been empirically proven to be the single most important factor in predicting longevity—more influential than diet, exercise, or heredity. And yet we are a sleep-sick society, ignorant of the facts of sleep and the price of sleep deprivation.”

I hope you’ll continue with your good sleeping habits, or change those bad habits ASAP! Sleep well everyone 🙂

I Guess I’m Human After All

It was inevitable.

8+ pounds of Halloween candy is currently sitting in cute plastic lack o’ lanterns on the dining table…and the candy is speaking to me.

Not screaming “Stay away!” or “I’m Not Good For You!”  Something more along the lines of a provocative whisper, “Oh, one little piece won’t kill you”.

I will be the first to admit that I have very little willpower.  If it’s in the house, I will probably eat it.  I was like this as a teenager (only worse) but at least now my head knows why I shouldn’t be eating it 🙂

I’m really not like this any other time of year.  Just Halloween.  But I suppose that’s because sweets aren’t in the house in such massive quantities any other time of the year. 

I should admit that over the last couple of weeks, I’ve fallen off the Phase 1 diet wagon.  (When you are following the diet more faithfully, the cravings are fairly non-existent.)  One more reason to hop back on…We’re having pork tenderloin with my new favorite sauce  tonight!

Anyway, that’s why I buy Halloween candy that I don’t like (read: non-chocolate).  No chance of breaking into the stash.  But when the kids start showing me the massive amounts of chocolate they’ve hauled in over the course of the night, my knees start to buckle.


Or sell the candy back to the dentist.

Which is exactly what we’re doing when the office opens tomorrow…

We did this last year and the kids each brought home crisp $10 bills–which to a 3 and 6 year old is like hitting the jackpot!

I’ll let them keep a few (preferably ones I don’t like 🙂 ) and we’ll get rid of the rest.  If you happen to be in the same predictment, here’s a site to find a local dentist who will relieve you of your stash:

The candy collected is sent to troops overseas.  Along with a new toothbrush 🙂

So what are you planning on doing with the abundance of candy at your house?  Planning on eating it over the next 6 months (or week!) or do you have another way to get rid of the sugary stuff without actually consuming it yourself?