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How to be an ethical shopper: part one

How to be an ethical shopper: part one

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We’re increasingly hearing the words “sustainable”, “ethical” and “higher-welfare” being used to talk about the food we buy. We’re also hearing that it’s better to eat local, seasonal food, and that we should watch out for food miles.

But what does all of this actually mean, and how are we supposed to know what’s best to buy? Throw “value for money” into the mix too, and you can end up with a real headache…

What does “smart shopping” mean?

Essentially, it means buying the food that best meets your needs. It sounds obvious, yet smart shopping is a lot harder than many of us realise. This is because we, as humans, are tuned into buying what appeals to us, what is marketed at us and what we are told we need.

Everybody’s priorities are different. For some of us it’s about locality, for others it’s about environmental footprint; for some it’s about what tastes best, and for others it’s purely an issue of price.

The opposite of smart shopping is buying food without really considering any of these factors. Unfortunately, “un-smart shopping” – where consumers visit the same supermarket out of habit, without a list or meal plan and just buy things that look nice or are on offer – is very common.

Is it smarter to shop at an independent store over a supermarket?

Unsurprisingly, the answer to this question isn’t simple. There are pros and cons to each. Again, it’s a matter of your values, your priorities and the access you have.

Unless you live in a very rural area, you’ll most likely have a supermarket within a short drive or walk from your home. Supermarkets get bad press for being “too big”, but most of them offer incredible convenience and a great deal of choice. Yes, they sell a lot of food that can be bad for you in large quantities, such as fizzy drinks, cheap confectionery or mountains of fatty snacks. However, they also sell fresh vegetables, safe and quality proteins, and ingredients that can transform any meal from OK to incredible.

Independent stores can be brilliant, but there is never a guarantee that the food they are selling is “better” than that bought from a supermarket. It all depends on the ethos of the independent and how it’s managed. In most countries, a decent grocer, butcher, fishmonger or farm shop will offer a high-quality product with a local story to tell. These shops or stalls come with the benefit of a more personal service, a passion for what they do and hopefully a connection to where the food has actually come from.

Since the 1980s, around three quarters of all butcher shops in the UK have been forced to close. Those that remain are the ones that either have a loyal following of regular customers, or they offer a product and a service that the supermarkets can’t match. Whether it’s a quality butcher or an artisanal deli, they have the opportunity to really excel at what they do and become experts in their area – a service most supermarkets will fail at if they offer low salaries and little stimulation for their staff.

Do food miles matter?

Food miles generally refer to the distance a food product has travelled, from where it was produced, to the shelf in the shop. Whether or not they matter, depends on your priorities. If you like buying things produced locally to you, to support your local industries, then yes they matter. If it’s about the environment, then they may be totally irrelevant.

From an environmental point of view, it could be more environmentally friendly to ship fruit or veg from a hot country than to heat greenhouses in a cooler one closer to home. But what about products such as coffee beans or cocoa that only grow in hot and tropical countries? This doesn’t deter most people from enjoying coffee or chocolate.

Generally speaking, if your own country can produce great quality, affordable products of its own, it makes little sense to import those same products from abroad.

Understanding seasonality

Seasonality and food miles are linked. For example, the UK can produce amazing quality strawberries in the summer. Therefore, eating them in the summer means they are fresh, local, sustainable, delicious and you’re supporting local producers. If you live in the UK and want to eat strawberries in the winter, you’ll be forced to import them. They’ll most likely loose quality and flavour, and will have a higher environmental footprint.

Eating local food that’s in season is something we should all do where and when we can. It’s more ethical and can also taste so much better!

By taking these factors into consideration, we can all learn how to shop a bit smarter. Being mindful of what we’re consuming and why will help towards a more sustainable and environmentally friendly food industry that nurtures both small and large businesses and champions good quality, better tasting food.

In part two, I’ll be comparing the animal welfare practices of some of the bigger supermarkets and outlining some pointers to show you how to embrace a more ethical weekly shop.

Travel and Ethics Theory and Practice

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The Importance of Meal Planning + Whole Food Plant Based Paella (oil-free)

When we make decisions in advance, those decisions are usually well planned and they align with our goals. When we make split-second decisions because we didn’t plan ahead, those decisions tend to put out fires and lack big picture strategy.

This applies to most areas of life, but it is especially true for how you eat.

Following a plant based meal plan is a game-changer because it allows you to make decisions about your food in advance.

Let’s say your goal is to eat a healthy plant based diet because you want to feel energized all day, you want to sleep well at night, you want to fit comfortably in your clothes, and you want to feel really good and full of life. High fives, those are all excellent reasons to eat the plant-colored rainbow!

Let’s say you sit down Friday morning after breakfast, and you plan out your food for the week. You can plan with your goals in mind. You aren’t stressed out. You aren’t hungry. You are excited about your meals the following week. You are relaxed because you have a plan. You feel awesome because you are taking charge of your life and being intentional with your choices.

You make your list, you go grocery shopping, you spend a few hours in your kitchen batch cooking, and voila, a week’s worth of food is in your fridge, just waiting for you to get hungry and eat.

Now let’s say it’s later that week and you’re driving home from work. You’re damn hungry and tired and cranky and all you want to do is put delicious food in your mouth without having to think about it.

THIS is why we make decisions in advance.

Because instead of stopping for takeout or ordering pizza, you drive home, open your fridge, heat up some delicious plant based food that you made over the weekend, and you eat.

You don’t have to think about it. You don’t have to do much. You don’t have to make any stops. You don’t have to spend money. You don’t eat food that you later regret. You don’t have to compromise your goals in order to eat dinner.

You don’t have to make decisions because you already made them last week. This is a beautiful thing because it allows you to be in control of your food instead of food being in control of you.

Now let’s take this a step further.

Imagine having a new whole food plant based meal plan already created for you every single Friday. Imagine the recipes were the most delicious whole food plant based recipes in the world, so you KNOW they will be delicious.

Imagine you didn’t have to spend a few hours deciding what meals you were going to eat next week and what could be cooked ahead of time on your batching day. Imagine you didn’t have to spend another hour making a grocery list, and then hoping that the portions would all work out.

Imagine all of this work being done for you. Not only would your food decisions be made in advance (SO powerful), but you wouldn’t have to spend your time making those decisions.

Instead, you could do other things, like go for a walk, call a friend, read a book, play with your kid or grandkid, do some yoga, have sex, take a bath, write a letter, work on a project, write, paint, dance, get that nagging thing checked off your to-do list, so many things!

This is all about making decisions in advance and then working smarter, not harder.

When you’re ready to have someone else make the food decisions in advance for you, and do all of the meal planning, we’re here for you. This is what we do best. We’re really damn good at our job so that you have time to focus on other things.

Our weekly plant based Meal Plans will change your life. Sign up here and see for yourself.

Do you follow our weekly Meal Plans? I would love, love, love to hear from you in the comments below about how they have changed your life!

The Menu

To create a new automation in ActiveCampaign, click “Automations” in the top navigation menu to load the Automations Overview page. Then click the green New Automation button in the top right corner to open the “Automation Recipe” modal. This is where you’ll find categories of automations you can instantly import.

In our recipe menu, you can browse recipes by the following categories: Recommended, Increase Revenue, Increase Traffic, Automate Sales Team, Boost Contact Satisfaction, and Manage & Track Contacts.

Simply select the recipe you’d like to use from the menu, then click the green “Create” button at the bottom of the modal window, and the “Automation Setup Wizard” module will walk you through any modifications you need to successfully import the recipe into your account.

It may ask you which list you want to use, what sender information a campaign should use, and other details that will be unique to each account. We’ve included guidance at each step so you’ll know what selection to make.

You may need to leave the import process to create a new custom field or create a new list. When this, or any interruption, happens during the import process, don’t worry—the Import Wizard will save your place. The next time you edit the automation, the wizard will pick up where you left off.

Now that you know how to import an automation recipe, let’s go back to the menu categories to learn more about your options.

Remember that there’s more to the environment than carbon emissions.

There are many other aspects of the environment to observe and protect—and proper meat can help.

When you get locally packed meat that’s wrapped in butcher paper ten miles from your house, there’s less plastic and less airborne pollutants gumming up your lungs.

When you eat meat that improves the soil, you’re contributing to building the local ecology and preserving soil nutrition.

When you eat animal foods, you obtain the nutrients you need to generate energy and maintain metabolism. Most vegans I know are perpetually cold, always asking if you “can turn the heat up.”

The local environment “counts.”

Places to Look: Documents, etc.

Product descriptions

Giving product descriptions a good read-through is usually a great place to start any good description should give you a general idea of what an ingredient is and what it does in a formulation. They can be pretty jargony, so if you don’t understand something, google it.

Making Cosmetics’ product details for isopropyl myristate (IPM). Note all the different categories of data including description, INCI, application/use suggestions, and more. At the bottom of the page there are links to SDS, sample formulations, and more! Click the image to visit the full page for yourself.

Formulation guidelines & notes/warnings

Many suppliers will provide a list of guidelines and vital information for formulating with an ingredient. This typically includes information like usage ranges, solubility, heat tolerance, required pH range, and possibly notes/warnings/considerations that are pertinent to the ingredient (incompatibilities with other ingredients, the potential for pH drift, etc.).

Suggested products to use ingredients in

This is usually a fairly generalized list of ideas that can spark your imagination and help contextualize ingredients. These lists are rarely anywhere close to exhaustive.

SDS (Safety Data Sheets)

Safety Data Sheets are something you should have for every ingredient you own (save them into a folder on your computer or Google Drive for easy searching). They’ll often contain useful information about the ingredient like pH, solubility, combustion point, and any risks associated with working with the ingredient (need for a dust mask, combustion points, etc.). It’s worth keeping in mind that SDS documents describe an ingredient in its pure state, and we rarely use our ingredients in their pure states, so while the information is good to have, don’t dismiss an ingredient typically used at 1% as unsafe because the SDS emphatically tells you not to eat it, etc.

You’ll probably notice the “First Aid Measures” section in SDS is usually pretty boilerplate. For instance, this New Directions Aromatics SDS for cocoa butter recommends this first aid protocol in the event cocoa butter comes into contact with the skin: “Remove contaminated clothing. Wash area with soap and water. If irritation occurs, get medical attention.” If you’ve ever worked with cocoa butter you’ll know it’s lovely on the skin—pure, undiluted cocoa butter is a beautiful emollient, and unless you have an allergy to it, it’s perfectly safe to have on your skin—so the first aid measure there, for that particular ingredient, is a bit much. As always, use your common sense.

Lotion Crafter’s product page for Sweet Almond Oil (click the image to visit). You can see the tabs for “SDS & Tech Data” and “Formulation Guide”. Those tabs contain lots of great info!

Fact Sheets / Specification Sheets / Technical Data Sheets / Certificates of Analysis

What you’ll find in these documents varies from source to source. Individual suppliers will usually keep things consistent (Lotion Crafter, for instance, supplies both “Fact Sheets” & “Spec Sheets” and they contain different types of information, while the Spec Sheets from Making Cosmetics are more like the Fact Sheets from Lotion Crafter and their Certificates of Analysis are more like Lotion Crafter’s Spec Sheets [all links are for the company’s caprylic/capric triglyceride product]). These documents are usually an easy-to-refer-to collection of all the must-know information about your ingredient—descriptions, INCI, uses, usage rates, shelf life, etc. Carrier oils and butters will usually contain a fatty acid breakdown. I’d recommend downloading and reading everything that’s available.

Quality & Regulatory Information

This document is less commonly shared (New Directions Aromatics makes them readily available!). You’ll find information on how the ingredient was produced, claims about it, allergen information, and more.

New Directions Aromatics’ product page for Eucalyptus Essential Oil (Radiata). You can find lots of extra information in the “GCMS & Documents” tab! Click the image to be taken to the original page.

GCMS Analysis (Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry Analysis)

This is a very cool report you can get for your essential oils (depending on where you purchase them) detailing their chemical composition. New Directions Aromatics (sample) and Mystic Moments (sample) are both great about providing this data for the essential oils they sell. The availability of a GCMS is usually a good indicator that the essential oil is authentic—I’ve yet to see a dodgy Amazon seller supply one—but not all suppliers (especially smaller ones) will have/share them (though if they are re-selling essential oils from somewhere like New Directions Aromatics you’d just need to know that, and then you could look into getting the report straight from them). Chemical composition information for fragrance oils is usually found in the SDS in the “composition” section, though it is generally provided as ranges rather than precise percentages (Sample from New Directions Aromatics for their “Christmas Eve” fragrance oil).

Sample formulas

Manufacturers and suppliers create and readily share sample formulations using their ingredients to give you ideas on how to use them, and they are an incredible way to learn. There are nearly 10k (ten thousand!) freely available on UL Prospector (discussed in the next section), and hundreds (if not thousands) more on supplier websites and in industry publications. There are so many free sample formulas out there for you to look at and learn from! Here’s a random sampling of some of the ones on UL Prospector: “Milk Becoming Water Tonic” Make-up Remover from SEPPIC, “OptiMiracle” Foundation from Dow, “Play Do” Shapeable Body Moisturizer from BASF, “Soft & Full” Mascara from Dow, ‘Silky Gloves’ Bio-Collagene Hand Cream from The Innovation Company®… and literally thousands more. They are just starting points—you likely won’t have all the ingredients, you won’t be equipped to make all of them at home, some will be better than others, and some will be more useful/relevant than others, but you can still learn from ’em. Analyze, research, make things (small batches!), take notes, and learn up a storm!

A good sample formula is basically a jump-start for using a new ingredient and/or for making a new type of product. For ingredients—not only can you see how it’s used (pre-dispersed, melted, cold processed, etc.), but you can also see how it is used in the context of a full formula (rather than just being told “use at 5–10%”). If it’s an emulsifier, how does the percentage used in the formulation relate to the size of the overall oil and water phases? What is it paired with? For thickeners—what is the format of the final product (bar/cream/body wash/etc.), and how much is used? You can use that information to start to understand how to work with the ingredient and how to develop your own formulations using it. If you’re looking at formulations for a new sort of product—what’s in it? What job is each ingredient doing? Could you do that job with a different ingredient? Does that job need to be done at all? How does everything come together to create a functional product? Research, experiment, and learn!

Stocking Up, Part One

Yesterday, when we got home from the Range Roundup, our fridge looked like this. A few eggs, a few apples, a couple of pears, some cheese, a bunch of lemons, and some red cabbage. Makes you feel all warm inside, doesn&rsquot it?

Welcome to my home. Can I interest you in a sliced apple?

This was the door. Mayonnaise, mustard, that demonic substance Marlboro Man likes to spread on his sandwiches, cream cheese, sour cream, jelly, syrup, storebought salsa, and only enough butter to get me through the next five minutes.

I&rsquod purposely let things dwindle in my kitchen in preparation for this week, when I&rsquom going to be stocking up my pantry, freezer and fridge for the next&hellipwell, period of time, whatever that turns out to be. I&rsquoll also be cooking a lot of meals both to freeze and keep in the fridge since, between school, soccer practice for the girls and football practice for the boys (which Marlboro Man coaches), we&rsquove been getting home between 8:00 and 9:00 every night.

So yesterday, after we all got home from the Range Roundup, my older daughter and I took off for the first of our supermarket trips. This one was just about getting some basics.

The next trip will be about produce, both fresh and frozen, and some more perishables like yogurt, cheese, etc.

The one after that will be about non-perishables. My pantry is an abomination. I&rsquoll take before and after pics there.

Please hold us in your heart this week.

Here are the bags after I unpacked them. Thank goodness Bravo was playing several Real Housewives episodes in a row. They propelled me forward.

Here are just a few things I picked up.

(Update: I definitely do not shop like this every week. What I&rsquom doing this week&mdashnot just with this grocery trip but the other ones I&rsquoll do this week, as well as the cooking/freezing/prepping I&rsquoll be doing&mdashis something I do two or three times a year. Big cleanout/stockup session at first, then I just fill in the missing pieces on a weekly basis.)

I love these rainbow peppercorns, and I&rsquove been out for awhile. They&rsquore pretty. I&rsquoll crush them and rub them on beef, I&rsquoll grind them into salad dressing, I&rsquoll add them whole to my turkey brine recipe, and I&rsquoll tie them in cheesecloth when I make Italian Meatball Soup.

I still have a few cartons of chicken and beef broth in my pantry, but I like this stock, too. It&rsquos très yum.

I got a whole bunch of cube steak (we don&rsquot have much beef in our freezer right now) to make the meat mixture for Marlboro Man Sandwiches, which falls under the category of meals I can make ahead of time and keep in the fridge, then when Marlboro Man and the boys get home from football before the girls and I are home from soccer, they can heat up the meat mixture themselves and make their own sandwiches. I&rsquom also going to lightly bread some of it and fry it up, because fried cube steak sandwiches are the best things ever. Here are the recipes:

The Marlboro Man Sandwich (Forgive the vintage photographs.)

Gasp! 666! I&rsquoll never be able to serve this to my family.

I got these whole wheat deli rolls for the sandwiches, because by golly if I&rsquom going to cook three pounds of meat in fifteen pounds of butter, I&rsquom going to put it on a whole grain deli roll.

It&rsquos all about healthy choices.

Jumbo shells. I&rsquoll use them to make these cheesy, meaty stuffed shells, which are very easy for wayward stragglers (read: family members) to individually scoop out and microwave when they get home from various practices.

I found these great tortillas for wraps, quesadillas, soft tacos, and rollups. These are multrigrain&hellip

These are blue corn and flaxseed. Yum!

Whole wheat saltines. A healthy alternative.

The same can not be said for these. But Marlboro Man loves them.

Oats. A healthy alternative.

The same can not be said for these. But Charlie loves them.

I&rsquom out of strawberry jam we canned last fall, and the girls and I will make some later this week after I get a bunch of strawberries. But I always pick up this brand of blueberry preserves because I absolutely love the stuff. It&rsquos beautiful on toast, and it&rsquos really good in sauces for pork and chicken. Divine.

I did buy a few strawberries to tide us over till the big produce trip, because my baby eats them like candy. I also bought some demonic bananas, but only because I&rsquove heard they&rsquore healthy.

Lots of green leaf lettuce for sandwiches, for tortilla rollups, shredded up for tacos, and for low-carb burgers for me since I&rsquom stepping away from the bread these days.

I&rsquom really cranky about it, too.

Tons of Cilantro! Because everything in my garden is long gone, compliments of July 2012. I need pico de gallo. Badly.

And I&rsquom getting ready to make a ton of this salsa. Maybe two tons.

Boneless, skinless chicken thighs. I love them very passionately. I&rsquoll use them in most situations that would call for boneless, skinless chicken breasts and I&rsquoll do so unapologetically, because I am a dark meat girl.

Lots and lots and lots of dried pastas of many different shapes and sizes.

Lots of jars of good marinara sauce. For pasta. For chicken dishes. For dipping sauces for Calzone and Fried Mozzarella. When I have a row of marinara sauce in the pantry, I feel I can do anything.

Boursin. Stir into pasta sauses. Stir into scrambled eggs. Spread on tortillas before you add the other ingredients.

Surely that wouldn&rsquot be very fattening.

Does risotto have carbs in it?

These! I love them with pear slices.

Power of suggestion: I just got up and ate a pear after writing that last sentence.

Cukes! For sandwiches, salads, or just sliced, lightly salted, heavily peppered, and mixed with a little greek yogurt.

Brown paper lunch sacks. For soccer practice snacks. For football snacks. For coop day.

I&rsquod say this is about a third of the way done. Much better than yesterday, but there&rsquos still a ways to go. I&rsquom going to cook off a lot of the meat, but I&rsquom also going to individually vaccuum seal some of it for use later.

And I need a bunch more veggies: spinach, bell peppers, kale, broccoli, and sweet potatoes.

My door&rsquos looking a little better, but I need to stock up on some greek yogurt, both plain and vanilla.

I&rsquoll keep you posted as the stocking up continues, and I&rsquoll show you the things I cook along the way.

Here&rsquos the printable &ldquoStocking Up&rdquo list I posted early this year. Before I shop, I usually check my supplies of these items:

How to Have a French Holiday Meal at Home

Top: / craftbakerypensacola / Above: cedarandlimestone / Florian Olivo

The holidays are a chance to find joy in this most challenging year. While it’s still tricky to travel, you can keep wanderlust at bay with these tips and recipes to show you how to have a French holiday meal at home. Treat yourself – whether a celebration for one or many, on a modest budget or no expense spared. Celebrate the holidays this year with the joie de vivre we all deserve.

jackiekaiellis / le_salon_francais

Christmas and New Year’s

Le Réveillon de Noël, or Christmas Eve dinner, is the high point of French holiday festivities. The late-night feast usually takes place when families return from midnight mass. Presents are exchanged after dinner or the next morning, and the occasion usually centers around family. New Year’s Eve tends to be celebrated with friends. This being France, of course food is the highpoint for both occasions – lavish and luxurious.


Delicacies and decadence define this time of year. The French entertain in such a seemingly effortless way. One of the secrets is that they combine home-cooked foods with store-bought goods – whether from the traiteur, pâtisserie, or even (gasp!) Picard. The holidays are no exception.

fromagerie_biquette / blogdechataigne

Starters: Foie Gras, Smoked Salmon, Caviar, Oysters

For me, the pièce de resistance of French holiday meals is the starters. Foie gras on brioche and sauternes is synonymous with the holiday season in France. Pan-roasted is a show stopper, but why cook when the ready-to-eat variety is so exquisite? For those on a budget or not able to access foie gras, a simple yet elegant paté – purchased or homemade like this one from Jacques Pépin – would fit the occasion. Another common starter is smoked salmon and/or caviar with crème fraiche and blinis. While caviar is the ultimate in luxury, substitutes such as this trout roe don’t break the bank and would be just as festive. Dorie Greenspan’s recipe is our go-to for buckwheat blinis. If you can’t be bothered, Gwyneth Paltrow has the ultimate hack for caviar canapes. While not traditional, we may just give it a go this year. And of course, the holidays in France would not be the same without oysters. Served with shallot vinaigrette is the norm, but if you’re looking for different ways to present them, Mimi Thorisson has some great alternatives. If you want something lighter but no less festive, this Jerusalem Artichoke Soup fits the bill (and is easy on the wallet!)

tearoom_su / lecreusetfrance

Main and Sides

While sometimes the French will splurge on pricey seafood such as lobster, in many ways, the main course and sides share a lot in common with holiday meals in the US. Turkey with chestnut stuffing is typical, though other poultry like goose, capon, or guinea hens is eaten too. Clotilde Dusoulier has a bunch of fabulous French recipes for the holidays, including a spatchcocked and salt-crusted chicken, as well as a show stopping chicken in a bread crust. Sides could include green beans, brussels sprouts, roast or mashed potatoes, as well as something fresher like this endive and walnut salad.

refletsfleurs / thefrancophiles

Cheese Course and Dessert

Of course, it would not be a French meal without a cheese course, though if left to my own devices I might forgo it to leave room for desserts. The typical dessert is the bûche de Noël or Yule log. Most French people would buy this, but should you feel ambitious, you could try your hand at making one. In Provence, the dinner concludes with a selection of thirteen desserts, representing Jesus and the twelve Apostles. These confections include dried fruits and nuts, pain d’épices, bûche de Noël, and calissons d’Aix. Starting in late December and through the month of January, you’ll see the beloved galettes des rois everywhere in France, and I’ve always had them on New Year’s Eve. With a ready-made puff pastry and David Lebovitz’s simple recipe, you could easily make one yourself. Closeout this one-of-kind year and ring in the new one in true, effortless French style. / craftbakerypensacola

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, we may receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). Thanks for supporting the blog in this way so we can continue to provide you with fabulous content. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions.

mollyjwilk / mariabessieres

Related Links

  • If you still need to get some shopping done, don’t miss Part One and Part Two of our Holiday Gift Guide
  • Need some French-inspired holiday recipes? Check out this list of 10 classic French Christmas recipes
  • Looking for more French inspiration? Here’s a list of 10 Parisian Instagram accounts to follow now

Written by HiP Paris. Looking to travel? Check out Haven In for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, France or Italy. Looking to rent long-term or buy in France or Italy? Ask us! We can connect you to our trusted providers for amazing service and rates.

Digestive Health Part 1: The Power of a Healthy Gut

There is a brilliant 30-foot system inside of you called your digestive system, also known as the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The main job of your digestive system is to convert food into essential nutrients, which are then absorbed into your body. I’d say that’s pretty important! It’s also why you want to make sure your gut health is in tip-top shape!

What does it mean to have a “healthy” gut?

A healthy gut is one that contains friendly bacteria and immune cells to ward off infectious agents like bacteria and viruses. A healthy gut also supports well-being by communicating with your brain through nerves and hormones.

How your gut bacteria influences your health

One of the drivers of gut health change is a shift in your microbiome—which is the collection of microorganisms including bacteria and fungi that live in your digestive system. Keeping the good bacteria thriving and the bad bacteria at bay can positively affect many key areas of health, including your:

  • Overall sense of well-being
  • Immune system
  • Risk of developing certain diseases
  • Quality of sleep
  • Digestion
  • Proportion of body fat

The good news is you can actually manipulate your gut bacteria to assure the survival and growth of good bacteria. How? By paying attention to what you put in your mouth.

How Fx Pillar #6 can help support the health of your gut

Fx Pillar 6- Remember functional foods: fresh herbs and fermented foods

Functional foods are those foods offering positive health benefits above and beyond basic nutrition. At the top of this list is fermented foods.

These are foods and beverages that have gone through controlled microbial growth and fermentation. Fermentation is a process in which microorganisms like yeast and bacteria break down food components like sugars and starches into other products such as organic acids, gases or alcohol. The end result is a food or beverage containing live healthy bacteria!

Fermented foods include:

  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Fermented soybeans: natto, miso, and tempeh
  • Fermented vegetables: raw sauerkraut, kimchi, beets, pickles, carrots
  • Kefir: fermented milk
  • Kombucha: fermented tea
  • Fermented cheeses
  • Unflavored/unsweetened plant-based or cow’s milk yogurt

Food for thought …

When it comes to fermented foods, a little goes a long way. Two servings a day is a nice goal, however if you’re new to fermented foods I would start small and slow. For example, top off your lunch salad with a spoonful of Heinen’s raw sauerkraut and drizzle it with Bragg salad dressing. I like making my own salad dressing using Bragg apple cider vinegar, Heinen’s avocado oil and a handful of other ingredients. Here’s my favorite recipe: Simple Vinaigrette Dressing.

In part two of this series on digestive health, you will learn why dietary fiber is key to maintaining a healthy gut and how to best incorporate fiber in your diet to avoid unwanted side effects.


So glad you had such a great visit in my home state. I live in Beaufort which is around 75 miles south of Charleston. You would love our town and our beaches.

Ahhh, looks perfect. Happy Anniversary to your mom and dad!! Just for the record, we lovingly call that “blowing sand” Microdermabrasion. Gotta look at the bright side. Thanks for sharing!

Your description of how you feel about the beach was spot on for me. I love taking a beach blanket early in the morning or evening and enjoying the peace ,serenity and contemplation.

Beach walking and shell hunting are one of my favorite things to do in life. From as early as I can remember I have loved it … starting on Lake Michigan (Indiana/Michigan side). Can’t wait to read the rest of your posts!

So happy for you that you got to spend time with your family at the beach. That house looks great. Thinking about renting it maybe next year to invite our family. I have never been there but most in our family have so they know the place fairly well. I am with you on the beach trips. My family own a vacation cottage on an island in Maine so I have lots of beach stories.

Lucky family! Sounds like a marvelous time. Thank you for sharing it with us!

What a beautiful spot! I sometimes take for granted my beach cottage I live in on my little island but then I realize what a privilege to have such a spot. You made a wonderful memory with family!

A gorgeous house done a bit in your style. Your boys must have had such good time in the water and enjoyed a change of scenery and climate. Like you, I fear the sun but love the beach when no one is there, and looking for shells is a wonderful meditative moment, so absorbing a pass time and walking along in and off the water. Your stripped tee shirt is perfect for later sunny hours.

This has to be my favorite post ever! After 14 months of “solitary confinement”, I just love this post! Many thanks for the uplifting story.

What a wonderful anniversary celebration for your mom…family time in a lovely house. I look forward to your shelling search and the shells found, We don’t have great shell searches here in Southern California, but I love looking for shells.

How much did it cost to rent the house may I ask

Click on the link to check out the listing. The price varies pretty greatly depending on the time of year. Since it’s a larger house, it’s definitely a good one to split with other families/friends.

Looks amazing! I feel silly, but I don’t see the link to the house listing? I will be in Sullivans Island next week and would like to check it out this house for my family this fall. Thanks for sharing.

I can see my brothers house in the background of one of the pictures! My family started going to Isle of Palms 51 years ago and boy has the island changed over those years! My brother moved there 15 years ago and my mom and dad 12 years ago! We love it! We just bought my parents condo in Mt Pleasant between the island and Charleston! Very exciting…so glad you enjoyed it

My husband and I just took our post Covid vaccination trip to the Charleston area as well, staying at Folly Beach. We loved our beach walks each day, and exploring Charleston many of those days as well. What a great vacation destination!!

I love seeing your “sun suit”! I am also one who burns easily (and have never had a tan I just become less white). I have tried rash guard shirts but find the synthetic fibers so hot and clammy that I cannot stand them on for more than 10 minutes, which kind of defeats their purpose. Do you find this as well or are your rash guards of a different fabric? For the last decade I just stay inside from 10 am to 2 pm and have avoided the usual blistering sunburns. I’m always interested in how others handle not getting fried in the sun.

These are definitely made from synthetic fibers, but I found them to be very breathable and comfortable, especially that shirt which was a little roomier. Several readers shared that they wear those shirts for gardening, tennis, golf, etc. during the summer because they are breathable. I prefer natural fabrics, but these work well for the purpose of sun protection and drying quickly.

I stayed on Seabrook Island the month of March…loved it! I will be back!

Isle of Palms is truly a beautiful place and the house you stayed in was wonderful. I live in South Carolina in the Charleston area and spend Memorial Day at IOP and it was a wonderful time. I have lived here almost 5 years and originally from New England. I truly love spending time at the beach and so happy you and your family came here and had a wonderful time too.

Omg…i love the isle of palms.we were there in april and it was just grandsons were on spring break and the beach was their favorite spot to go to.mine was the co-op for frose’.the house we rented slept 16 people and had a private pool and a rooftop balcony looking at the beach.elevator and under house parking.each room with a balcony.i can’t wait to go back to the wild dunes.i will never forget the IOP.

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I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer. READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…