Homemade Cough Syrup

Homemade cough syrup

By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch

The ups and downs in the temperature this fall can put a strain on the immune system – one day it’s in the 60’s and sunny, and the next, it’s raining and in the 30’s!  Or snowing, in Michigan!  Add to that any stress (or perceived stress)  you are experiencing with travel, family situations, new experiences, work-related issues, or any other uncertain environment, and your immune system is compromised even more.

And so Lindsey’s immune system has recently become compromised.  She just returned from Dallas (yes, we let her go to Dallas – no worries about ebola).  She was at Tony Robbins’ UPW (Unlimited Power Within) weekend, and from Thursday night, when they did the “fire walk,” until Sunday evening, when they covered some really great health information, Lindsey was going non-stop.  She and another 6,000 people were packed into the convention center for some pretty intense personal work and discovery.  If you ever get a chance to go to one of Tony Robbins’ events – take it!  They are amazing!  Check out this video to get a feel for what it’s like:

To make a long story short, Lindsey got a little run down and caught a bit of a cold.  So we’ve been strategizing to make sure she’s getting enough of the right foods and nutrients to allow her immune system to heal her body.  A couple of things we’re doing in addition to food is using essential oils.  I’ve been giving her capsules filled with frankincense, lemon, and lavender essential oils twice a day, and I put together a “cough syrup” with a honey base.  She doesn’t have much of a cough, but the honey is a great base to get the oils in so they can go to work on her congestion and start attacking whatever it is that is causing her to  feel less than 100%.

This cough syrup is something I’ve used for years and it really does help with coughing, sore throat, and overall recovery.  So, I thought I would share it with you in case you need some extra tools in your cold and flu first aid kit this season!

Cough Syrup Ingredients

1/4 cup raw honey

1 drop Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree essential oil)

1 drop clove essential oil

1 drop rosemary oil

2 drops cedarwood oil

3 drops peppermint oil

2 drops frankincense oil

Remember when using essential oils, use therapeutic grade essential oils; that way you can be confident they are made in such a way that preserves the oils’ therapeutic qualities rather than destroys them.

I mix all of the ingredients together and take 1 tsp. as needed.  If this is too strong for you (although I think it can’t possibly be worse than the cough syrup you get at the drug store!), you can dilute it with more honey.

I actually like the taste of it.  You can even add it to a cup of your favorite tea or with a cup of warm water and lemon juice.  If you’re up for an extra zing, try adding some grated ginger!

Remember, the best defense is a good offense (I’ve got college football on my mind – go Michigan State!), so make sure you take care of yourself in the first place.  Get plenty of good quality sleep, eat fresh organic foods, do some sort of movement and exercise, and take time to be good to yourself and have fun!

Oh, and have a Happy Halloween!

Fall Quinoa Salad (With Kale, Root Vegetables, and Maple Vinaigrette)

Fall Kale Salad

By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch

A couple of weeks ago I was on Facebook and saw that my favorite West Michigan deli, Farmhouse Deli in Douglas, was serving a tasty sounding fall salad with quinoa, butternut squash, and kale, with a maple vinaigrette.  I was planning on going there that day to try it, but the day got away from me and when I went to get some the next day, they were all out.

It was a cooler fall day and the sound of a warm salad with a little sweetness to it sounded perfect, so I thought I would try to make my own version of their salad.  I still had a ton of kale in my garden so I thought this would be a great way to use some of it.  And even though my family isn’t always big on quinoa, I thought by adding the slightly sweet maple vinaigrette, it might win them over and I’d be able to sneak lots of great veggies into them.

I had just been to the farmers market so I had some great-looking butternut squash and beets, and Frankie had harvested some of her potatoes from the garden that I though would be perfect as well.  I decided I would add some toasted pecans too – they would complement everything nicely.

Then I had to figure out how to make the maple vinaigrette.  I figured it would have an olive oil base with a bit of balsamic vinegar.  And of course, there would be some maple syrup.  I added a touch of cinnamon because that sounded like fall and then a bit of dijon mustard so it wasn’t too sweet or too vinegary.

I experimented a bit with everything until I got a taste I liked and then served it to Mike and the girls for dinner.  To their surprise, they loved it!  This will definitely be something I will make again and again.

Here’s what I did:



4 cups cooked quinoa (red makes the prettiest salad)

1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed

3 large potatoes, cubed

1 large beet, peeled and cubed

1/2 cup pecans toasted

1 bunch of kale, deveined, and chopped

olive oil


Heat oven to 375 F.  In a big bowl, mix the potatoes and butternut squash with 2-3 Tbsp. olive oil.  Season with sea salt and pepper, mix until evenly coated and spread onto a baking dish. Cook in the oven for about 30 minutes or until tender.

In a separate bowl drizzle about 1 Tbsp. olive oil, sea salt, and pepper, onto the cubed beets.  Mix and put in a separate baking dish in the oven to cook for about 30 minutes as well (or until desired tenderness).

Put the pecans in, yet, a separate small baking dish and put in the same oven, but only for 5-10 minutes – until just toasted and fragrant.

Heat 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil in a pan over medium heat and add the kale.  Saute for about 5 minutes.

In a large serving bowl mix together the cooked quinoa, butternut squash, potatoes, beets, kale, and pecans.  Drizzle with the maple vinaigrette (recipe below) – start out with a little and work up (you can always add, but you can’t take away!).  Toss and taste!

Season with more salt and pepper if needed, and serve.

Maple Vinaigrette Dressing

1/2 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil

2-3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 tsp. cinnamon

2 Tbsp. dijon mustard

3 Tbsp. water

1/4 tsp. sea salt

pepper to taste

Put all of the ingredients in a bowl and whisk.

Healing Mood Disorders With Food

Trudy Scott

By Shannon Keirnan, Contributing Foodie Bitch

During the Natural Cures Summit, one of the speakers that resonated with me was nutritionist Trudy Scott.

Her segment, entitled “Healing Mood Disorders With Food,” dealt with how changing the way we eat can help us combat issues like depression and overcoming food addictions.

As someone who has dealt with depression and eating disorders in the past, I found her information very useful.

What were the highlights?

One is that sugar is especially addictive, and with its prevalence in today’s market, becoming a serious issue. Sugar in the body depletes it of nutrients, and alters our blood sugar levels, which will immediately affect mood. It can also alter chemicals in the body like serotonin, or catecholamines, which, when unbalanced, lead to feelings of anxiety,  stress, apathy, rage, and depression.

Secondly, we all know that gut health is also a major link to our overall well-being, emotionally and physically. Yet today we are seeing major trends in food allergies and intolerances, medical problems like leaky gut or SIBO, Celiac’s, and other autoimmune disorders which mean our guts cannot properly absorb nutrients. Like many doctors and other nutritionists, Trudy recommends people with health or mood issues first try removing gluten from the diet. While not everyone is affected by gluten, 80-90% of the patients she removed from gluten thrived, and there are no ill effects to taking gluten from the diet. Often this is a beginning step toward healing the gut, even if you do not present any obvious symptoms, and putting the body back in balance.

So what other tips does Trudy suggest for improving and maintaining a positive outlook?

-Eating grass-fed red meats, which have a huge correlation to good mood. Vegans and vegetarians should make sure they are getting enough iron, zinc, B12, and omega-3’s, as deficiencies in the body can negatively affect mood, or consider adding in a little humanely raised animal protein now and then (if able and willing).

-Eating real, whole foods, of course, with healthy proteins and fats – especially at breakfast – and eating food before drinking coffee (a “drug of choice”). She places an emphasis on healthy fats – too low of cholesterol can lead to depression, as cholesterol is a raw material for creating proper hormones.

-Exercise, sunshine, and natural light throughout the day. Vitamin D is especially linked to mood, and most people are deficient.

-Minimizing stress, which can worsen symptoms of mood disorders.

-Getting proper sleep in a dark, quiet room. She recommends lavender or chamomile scents before bed, or tryptophan supplements if you have difficulty sleeping.

Some of this seems pretty straightforward – we know that not being stressed, and being well-rested, puts us in a good mood, right? But it’s always good to keep in mind that the body is one big system working together, and that if one aspect is off, it can throw everything out of whack. Give yourself priority!

So eat well, get some sleep, and relax this weekend! Happy Friday!

Chloe Coscarelli’s Vegan Meatballs!

Vegan meatballs

By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch 

Today is Tuesday, which means it’s Q&A Tuesday on Marie Forleo’s Marie TV.  Today, she interviewed Chloe Coscarelli, a vegan chef who, at the age of 22, won The Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, and was the first vegan to ever enter the competition.

I pretty much love all of the stuff Marie Forleo posts and writes about, and I always look forward to her videos – especially her interviews.  Today Marie and Chloe talked about how she got started in cooking

Her third cookbook, “Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen: 150 Pizzas, Pastas, Pestos, Risottos, & Lots of Creamy Italian Classics,” came about because, of course, she’s Italian.  Everyone said she couldn’t possibly eat Italian as a vegan, because of all of the cheese and meat.  So, she set out to “veganize” some of her family’s traditional Italian recipes.  And the results are Marie approved!

On today’s interview, they brought out these vegan meatball sliders and they looked like real meatballs.  So I clicked on the link for the recipe to check out the ingredients, because I couldn’t believe that they would actually come close to real meatballs.  And when I saw the ingredients, I thought these might actually work – brown rice, mushroom, and onion, were the base of the recipe.  So I got right to work on making Spaghetti with Meatless Meatballs.

First off, everyone loved the smell that cooking these created in our house.  So that was a good sign.  Then, as I prepared everything and shaped them into balls, they were really impressed how they actually looked like meatballs.

Then came the true test.  After cooking them in olive oil in the pan (rather than canola oil), Lindsey and Frankie (who are both vegetarians) tried them and they couldn’t believe how good they were!  A still bigger test was Mike, since he loves regular meatballs.  And they won him over too!  And of course, for me, they are one of my new favorite recipes.

Here’s the link to the recipe for vegan meatball sliders. Check out how easy they are to make!

Instead of pasta, I chose to “grill” a piece of gluten-free bread in the pan I used for the meatballs, which had some leftover olive oil.  It was amazing!

Now that I know her recipes work – meaning they are easy and they taste great – I am definitely going to order her book so I can play around with her other vegan recipes.  And, this will definitely be my go-to gift for my vegan and vegetarian friends.

Try it our for yourself, and let me know what you think.