Salmon Salad

On Mondays, I meal prep. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see my #mealprepmonday stories where I share what I make for breakfast and lunch throughout the week.  This salmon salad is my go-to for lunches because it’s simple to prepare, inexpensive, healthy, filling and easy to package individually to grab each morning.

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Tuna salad was one of my favorite lunches my mom made for us growing up.  I know that not everyone finds it appetizing, but it’s a comfort food for me.  I make the same recipe now, but use canned salmon instead of tuna. Why? 1- I think it tastes better… it is not as dry as tuna and is less fishy. 2- it’s healthier. Tuna can have very high mercury content, so I try to avoid it now. Plus, salmon is truly one of the most nutritious things you can eat- it is full of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, magnesium, and calcium. It’s also full of protein, helping to keep me from craving snacks throughout the day.

This recipe should only take 15 minutes to prepare and makes enough for 3 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 2 6-oz cans of wild-caught salmon
  • 2 soy-free pastured organic eggs
  • 2 tablespoons mayo made with avocado oil (Primal Kitchen is my favorite brand)
  • 1 tablespoon organic sweet relish
  • dash of salt & pepper

Preparation:

  1. Hard boil the eggs.
  2. Drain the salmon and put in a bowl with mayo, relish and salt & pepper.
  3. Once eggs are boiled, peel and then use an egg slicer to dice.
  4. Add eggs to the bowl of other ingredients and mix.  Add more mayo/relish to taste, depending on dryness of salmon.

Serve on top of salad greens or on your favorite sandwich bread or crackers.

P.S. I’m able to buy most of these ingredients at Thrive Market – check out their selection of discounted healthy groceries here.  Read this blog post to see other items I purchase on their site to keep my all-organic grocery spending low.

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Emphasis on Hopeful

Apologies for the lack of new posts recently – life’s been a bit crazy lately, with little time left for blogging! Although I have a couple of posts I really want to write & share soon, I thought it was about time for an update on my health…

A few months ago, in reaction to an extremely stressful time at work, I got an ear infection.  Let me tell you, friends, ear infections are the worst.  The only pain was terrible and nothing seemed to help.  I tried home remedies – living clay, essential oils and loading up on all kinds of vitamins – without any luck.  I visited the doctor twice to no avail and, in my desperation, I opted to take antibiotics.  Unfortunately, as expected, they made me super sick, gave me a rash & didn’t help at all.  Finally, a visit to the ENT to insert a sponge helped get steroids directly into my ear and multiple visits to the chiropractor drained the fluid eventually.

Our trip to Europe provided some reprieve from the stress this summer; the break gave me a renewed mind and optimistic perspective.  But as the hours at work picked back up, all of my post-vacation resolutions – talking the dog for nightly walks, spending more time with friends and family, cooking meals, even shopping for groceries – got neglected quickly as there just weren’t enough hours in the day.  As my work-life balance suffered, the stress creeped back in and, therefore, back into having it’s effect on my immune system.

RelaxOne day in early August, I woke up with hives all over the back of my legs.  I thought it was odd and attempted to find what the cause could be; but, nothing in my routine, diet or hygiene/beauty products had changed.  Figuring the hives would go away soon and it had to be a fluke, I just dealt with the itching.  But they lasted, spreading and progressively getting worse and worse.  After a week, I made an appointment with my naturopath doctor.  Asking questions about every aspect of my life, sleeping habits and diet, she got the full picture of my health.  She suggested that while I could be experiencing an allergic reaction, she was pretty positive that stress was the cause.  Hoping to learn more about what was going on with my body, she prescribed a blood test and hormone panel. In the meantime, I would stay away from gluten and really focus on my nutrition to lessen the inflammatory response my body was having.  After four long weeks, my hives finally subsided; the stress was still there, but I think that a better focus on my diet and a supplement I got from my chiropractor finally helped my body stop overreacting.

The CDC states that emotional stress causes 80-85% of all illness. It makes sense – stress suppresses our immune function, so, long-term it gets even worse.  This month, I’ve been sick twice – a bad cold and then food poisoning for the third time this year… ugh!  But I returned to my doctor last week and the results were in: stress is the culprit.  Even after all my time at the pool this summer and daily Vitamin D supplements, I was still deficient and need to increase my intake.  I’m anemic, so will be taking a liquid iron supplement to give me more energy.  And although I drink lots of water and even add Himalyan pink sea salt, my electrolyte levels were still low – I foresee lots of coconut water (NOT sugary gatorade) in my future!

Most importantly, my DHEA levels were extremely low.  Although known for overuse by athletes, the presence of DHEA in our body is essential.  Most people in their twenties are producing more DHEA this decade of their lives than any other.  DHEA is a steroid hormone secreted by your adrenal glands; during times of stress, your adrenals are pumping so much cortisol that they produce very little DHEA. But that has massive effects as DHEA is the precursor to estrogen, progesterone & testosterone.  As a result, my hormones are totally out of whack.  So, instead of “doping” up on unnatural DHEA, I’ll be taking a custom supplement designed by my doctor to provide the building blocks to hormone development, bringing the levels back up. I’ll also be on a high-protein diet of 60-80 grams per day to balance my blood sugar – prolonged high-cortisol response causes problems there too.  So, if anyone has some good ideas for high-protein snacks (especially low-budget options), please share!

While the news was not good, I am thankfully at a point where I can step in to make these changes now and get my body back in balance before things get more serious.  It will take many months to recover, but I am committed to focus on my health – this body is the only one I get.  In the meantime, I would appreciate any & all stress-management recommendations!  I am rejecting the identity of illness that I’ve had my whole life; I am so hopeful that healing is near and I will choose joy & faith.

Meditating on this verse lately: “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by Him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” – Isaiah 53:4-5

In the Summertime when the weather is hot…

I love Summer.  The sunshine is life-giving to me!   I can’t imagine anything better than spending time at the pool and lake with the warm sun on my skin.  Plus, it’s mostly allergen-free, so unlike most of the year, I can spend lots of time outside without regretting it later.  Anyone else share this passion with me??

Unfortunately for a lot of people, the summertime has a bad rap.  The beautiful sunshine has been villainized; we are advised to minimize our sun exposure and when we must be outside, cover every inch of ourselves with sunscreen every hour so we don’t get the big, bad cancer.  Funny how effective the “c” word is into scaring us into submission.

Coincidentally, our nation is currently experiencing epidemic levels of vitamin D deficiency.  Vitamin D is a valuable nutrient that comes from the sun and helps our immune system protect our bodies from a multitude of diseases, including cancer.  Actually, some research studies have proven that sun exposure can decrease our chances of getting cancer.  Add to that the fact that there is no proof that sunscreen protects against cancer and that sunscreen itself contains dangerous chemicals and carcinogens, the case against the sun is quickly diminishing.

Okay, now of course, the sun can be dangerous; it is a burning ball of fire, after all. You can’t simply sit outside for hours in direct sunlight and not expect to be hating yourself the next day.  Sunburns do cause cell death and can damage your skin.  It’s important to develop a healthy relationship with the sun…

After a winter indoors, your skin will need to be acclimated to the sun.  The best way to do it is spend 15-30 minutes at a time out in the sun (without sunscreen), getting exposure little bits at a time.  Your skin will respond as it is supposed to, the melanin will become tanned and protect you more and more from the sun naturally.  People with fair skin get Vitamin D faster and reach the maximum level of exposure sooner, so then it’s time to find some shade.  But most people can work up to being able to spend hours in the sun without harm.

If you are going to be out in the sun for longer than your skin is ready for, or your children need protection, consider using natural sunscreen options instead of those loaded with chemicals.  Personally, I use straight up coconut oil whenever I am in the sun for longer than half an hour.  It has minimum SPF so it still allows me to get Vitamin D and my skin tans easier when I use it so that I can build up my natural tolerance to the sun faster.

Lastly, a healthy diet is the best way to avoid a sunburn.  A diet high in antioxidants will protect your body from sunshine’s free radicals that cause cell damage.   So feel free to snack away at those sun-ripened berries and dark chocolate!  Avoiding foods that cause inflammation are another way to protect yourself – grains and Omega-6 vegetable oils being the main offender.  People often blame the sun for their wrinkles, collagen breakdown/premature aging and sun spots, but it’s actually an inflammatory diet that causes these issues.  Eat a diet high in healthy Omega-3 fats (found in animal fats, fish, coconut oil and organic raw dairy), the building blocks of your skin.

Now, get out there and enjoy the summer sunshine without fear!

Read more from my sources here:

Scientists Blow the Lid Off Cancer & Sunscreen Myth

4 Ways You Are Screwing Up Your Sun Exposure

Avoid Sunburn, Tan Better

Benefits of Sunbathing to Pregnancy and Nursing