Elderberries
Growing up on the farm, we had a huge elderberry bush in the front yard. My sisters and I would climb it in the late summer and pick giant purple bouquets of elderberries for my parents, who would somehow turn the tiny, bitter and unpalatable berries into quarts of delicious, dark purple sticky sweet syrup which was our favorite pancake topping year-round. 

This was long before elderberry syrup became one of the hottest natural health aids around. Touted for helping to prevent and fight off colds and influenza, reduce inflammation, and soothe coughs and respiratory illnesses, humble elderberry syrup has recently reached "superfood" status. 

Driving down the road the other day, I spied some big elderberry heads beginning to turn purple. It reminded me of the purple-handed late-summer task of my childhood, and it inspired me to share this recipe with you, so you can see just how easy it is to make your very own delicious and immune-boosting elderberry syrup - and you'll save a ton of money on those pricey commercial versions! 


 
 
Benefits of spirituality
We often talk about the other aspects of holistic living - good health, proper financial balance, happy and fulfilling relationships, etc., but although these are all important pillars, we can't forget that spirituality is an essential piece of the puzzle. Whatever spiritual practices you choose to follow, having this connection to something higher and outside of yourself is necessary if we want to be truly happy and fulfilled and have a complete and balanced life.

As this article mentions, "Happiness, is in part, a byproduct of achievement best gained when we’re working from something and for something larger than ourselves."

No matter how successful we are in the other areas of our lives, without a sense of a connection to this "something larger," it will be hard to find true meaning and purpose.

Here are 7 reasons why a daily spiritual practice will make your life happier and more complete:


 
 
The truth about coconut oil
You may have heard of the recent hullabaloo over coconut oil after the recent USA Today article stating that coconut oil is bad for you. This article was based on a report from the American Heart Association, and it caused a storm of controversy and alarm among natural health experts and enthusiasts who have wholeheartedly embraced coconut oil in recent years.

After reading a number of comments and articles in response to this "news," I decided it was time to jump into the fray and clear up some of this confusion!

I have written about coconut oil before, but it has been a while. However, none of the research has substantially changed since then, so why would there be a backlash against coconut oil now? That I can't answer, but I can address some of the concerns raised by the recent article.


 
 
Immune system
As we have discussed in the past, your immune system is by far the most important factor in good health. Unfortunately, our allopathic medical system focuses more on treating symptoms than on preventing disease in the first place, so the immune system is often ignored by most modern medical treatments.

However, there are numerous things that you can do on an individual level to help make sure your immune system is healthy and functioning properly. The first step is becoming aware of what behaviors and lifestyle habits may be causing problems for your immune system. Most people do these things without even realizing the harm they are causing to their health!

Here are 5 ways that you may be harming your immune system, and some positive changes you can make today to reduce your risk of disease, and improve your odds for living a long and healthy life.


 
 
Free Chocolate Bars
Ahh - July...it's hard to believe the year is half over already! We have been enjoying some warm and sunny weather, and the garden is going bananas (see last week's post for more about that craziness). We are looking forward to the annual 4th-of-July barbecue, fireworks, and outdoor concert with some dear friends on Tuesday. I wish you a safe, happy, and memorable holiday as well!

But now, on to the monthly giveaway!

This month, we're excited to share a tasty treat from our friends over at Thrive Market. If you're not familiar with Thrive yet, they are an online marketplace where you can find all sorts of healthy organic foods and other products at lower prices than at most other stores. They also have an awesome mission of helping lower-income families afford healthy food, and supporting sustainable farmers and food producers - a cause that as you may know is very near and dear to my heart!

Below are a few more details about Thrive Market, plus a link to grab your free box of delicious Primal Kitchen organic dark chocolate almond bars.  Wait a minute - candy that's good for you??  That's right!  :-)  Get yours below...