butter nut squash

Healthy Butternut Squash Soup for a Healing and Immunity

As wintery storms continue to blow through the Sierra Nevada, warm, comforting foods are becoming more and more appealing. In the winter months it can be tempting to reach for rich or heavy foods. However, these may not always be the healthiest options.

For cold days, here’s one of my favorite recipes taken from  The Heal Your Gut Cookbook, which is a great cookbook for people managing illnesses that stem from the gut.

This recipe includes many healthy ingredients like Bone Broth which has collagen and amino acids which helps healing and immunity. Butternut squash has great healthy clean yummy carbs and the leeks are good for natural anti-viral and anti-bacterial support.

Healthy Butternut Squash Soup for Healing and Immunity

Butter Nut Squash Soup

2 quarts chicken stock
2 tablespoons animal fat, coconut oil, or ghee
3 leeks, sliced in half, and sliced again into half-moons (or 2 onions, chopped)
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks
1 boquet gardni
Sea salt to taste

Optional Garnishes:
Homemade Yogurt or organic cultured cream
Chopped fresh herbs
Soaked and sprouted pumpkin seeds

Cooking Instructions:
First, add the stock and fat to a pot. Next, add the vegetables and bring the entire pot to a boil. Once you reduce the heat to a simmer, add the bouquet garni and cook covered for 30 mins. Let it cook until the vegetables become soft and the squash is palatable. Once cooked, take out the bouquet garni and remove the soup from the stove. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth. Add salt and garnishes to taste. Serve and enjoy!

I hope you enjoy this soup on a cold winter day. For busier schedules, batch cooking is one of my favorite things to do. Making a big pot of soup for dinner can also make great leftovers for lunch the next day.

Happy Cooking!

Family Photo

The Myth of it Being Easy and Having It All

17 extraordinarily simple tips for families on the go, that you have never heard of, your kids will love and make your family healthier than ever before!

Read all the way to the end to get my gift!!!

A unicorn that will also scrub your toilets.

The Myth of it Being Easy and Having It All: by Danielle Litoff, a MOM

Battle Born Health Family Photo

At the beginning of the year my business partner, our social media expert advisor, and I were planning our upcoming blogs for the next few months.

You know – starting the year healthy, new year’s resolution…blah blah blah. My non-mom partners (no offense meant, they are amazing!!!) said, “Danielle how about a blog listing simple tricks on how to be healthy for your family on the go. I said, in my people pleasing way, “Of course I can do that!”

I then proceeded to sit on that for a few weeks. I wrote down ways I try to keep my crazy busy family healthy, active and eating well, despite school, homework, sports, choir, social events and both parents working full time. Sure, this is a piece of cake – everyone can do this… I call BS!! I just couldn’t write the piece as we had discussed because it isn’t easy, and those “simple tips” aren’t so simple.

A few days later I was lamenting to my Mom friends who are all successful, amazing, health care professionals. I told them my dilemma and they all laughed and said, “You mean the “myth of doing it all, dressed to the 9’s with a F’in sexy smile???”

Family Photo

With that preface, here is what I do to tip the scales towards keeping my family healthy on the go in this insane world of 2017.

Set YOUR priorities… are they to work out? Are they to eat home cooked paleo meals? Are they to have your dishes done before bed? Be realistic- no one can do it all. My priorities revolve around food and exercise… my bed is not made and my dishes are done when they get done.

  1. Plan ahead… there is no way around this one. In a pinch, you will have to make due and that often ends up being fast food. You can do better than that.
    1. Take 4 hours of a day and prep for the week. Or two different days – one to shop and one to prep. Buy the veggies, fruit, healthy meats.
    2. Have an idea of your week’s schedule… i.e. soccer from 5:30-7 pm on Tues and Thursday, piano on Wed from 3-4:30.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. “Can I come home and cook or do I need to stay during the practice?”
  2. Is the practice near the store that could be my designated shopping time?
  3. Should I cook on Sunday so I can just reheat on those days?
  4. Can I carpool, that way I can skip one direction and take that time to cook or prep?
  1. USE A CROCK POT!!!! After late night practices, you will have hot food ready at home instead of going to McDonalds or QDoba?
    Weeknight Pot Roast Recipe 
  2. Find some simple recipes that your family likes. Memorize them so you can easily throw them together as you do something else. I will frequently on Sunday (Sundays just seem to be my freest day – you find yours) cook 3-4 staples so we have it all week.
    Rosemary and Roasted Chicken 
    Crock Pot Chili Recipe 
    Stacys Soups 
  3. Pack a picnic everywhere you go. Have a great lunch box cooler, put snacks in there before you go (avocado, thermos of soup, epic bars) have a knife, fork and spoon in the box.
    Thermos Stainless Folding Spoon
    Aluminum Insulated  Lunch Box 

I pack my own oil with me so I don’t have to use the yucky pre-made salad dressings at the store.

  1. Easy store grabs: box of lettuce, avocado, lemon, wild caught cooked shrimp meat (from the fish section), olive oil and or coconut aminos. All into the box of the lettuce and voilà – shrimp salad in the car. (Remember your knife fork and spoon are already in your new cool lunchbox in your car.) Instead of shrimp, you could use Applegate turkey or ham.
  2. Find a good natural grocery store in town or a Whole Foods with a food bar for the days you don’t have it together (because it is impossible to have it all together all the time). Persuade your amazing little monkeys to get some roasted chicken and veggies vs the pizza or mac-n-cheese.
  3. Buy a roasted chicken from Whole Foods. YES, it’s pricier, but it is so much better for you, that it’s worth the extra. And for a family of 4 its cheaper than a meal at Chilies or Mexican or Chinese takeout.

Volleyball Photo

Think nutrient density- not just calories… pasta, potatoes, rice chips, pb&j. That is substance, not nutrients. You want all your calories to count towards improving your heath. A calorie is just a unit of energy. We are fortunate in that we don’t need calories but you and your kids need nutrition. You want not the calorie but the nutritional value of what you are eating. Don’t just get the kids or yourself something -get something that will do good for your body (veggies, clean meats, fruits, good fats see blog on nutritional density).

Let me reiterate… this is not simple and this will not save you time, but this will save your family’s health. I hope some of this can help you or at least make you stop and think of ways you can make changes very intentionally, not simply, that will benefit the health of your family.

Lake Tahoe Ski

5 Ways to Recover from Ski Injuries this Season

How to know if it’s a tweak or something more serious:

The Reno-Tahoe area is buzzing with excitement over the recent record snowfall in January that has coated the Sierra Nevada in pure white powder.  I’m hoping everyone has had a chance to get out and enjoy the beautiful winter in their own way. Whether you’re a snowshoer or a downhill shredder, the snow and terrain challenges our bodies in ways we don’t normally encounter most days. Occasionally, this leads to falls, tweaks, twists and discomfort that leaves you wondering if the injury is serious or will just work its way out with time.

Our knees and spine are particularly vulnerable to injury during outdoor adventures, especially in deep snow, which can be unpredictable.  Aside from pain, be on the lookout for swelling, redness, warmth and decreased range of motion in the affected area. Obviously, these suggestions apply to injuries that aren’t immediately thought to be serious (i.e. broken bones, head injury) but if you twisted your knee funny on a turn, or have aching in your back after a fall, then these 5 tips can help you recover as quickly as possible, and get back to enjoying the snow:

Tahoe Ski Photo

1. Know the warning signs and when to consult a professional 

Some symptoms are considered more significant than others and should lead you to a professional immediately. These include: suspected head injury, dizziness, loss of consciousness, bleeding, suspected dislocation of a joint, pronounced numbness or tingling in a limb or changes in bowel or bladder control. These signs indicate a more severe type of injury and are worthy of immediate medical attention. If you made it off the mountain and back home and haven’t exhibited any of the above symptoms, then try the following tips. Keep in mind that every situation is different and when in doubt, contact a physician or urgent care.

2. Rest a full 24 hours 

This one seems like a no-brainer but sometimes it’s tough to know when to stay off an injury or keep it moving. Give yourself a full 24 hours of rest including keeping the part elevated above the level of the heart, icing it for 20 minutes at a time every hour and avoiding activities that increase pain. Also, protect the area using a gently wrapped compression bandage

3. Move in non-painful ways

Muscles will begin atrophy (decline in strength) in only a matter of days when they go unused, so to prevent atrophy and additional loss of motion, find exercises or activities that don’t increase pain. This could include taking an easy walk, pedaling a stationary bike with light resistance, rising up on your toes while holding on to a counter for safety. Also, maintaining the range of motion in the other joints surrounding the injury (i.e. if the knee is hurt, make sure you continue to move the hip and ankle) helps minimize the impact of the injury on the rest of the body. These are just a few ideas and other options will depend on your personal situation, however the key is to only do movements that do not increase the pain or create new symptoms.

4. Get a good night’s sleep

Sleep is crucial for healing so find a position where the injury is supported and can rest. Try sleeping on your side with a large body pillow or king pillow between the knees and hug a pillow to your chest. This position helps maintain the proper alignment of the spine decreasing strain. The second position is on your back with a large pillow under your knees and thighs, this position takes the strain off the lower back and hamstrings. When the body can rest with support often times the inflammatory process is mitigated and you can heal quicker.

5. Know who to consult

If you have a physical therapist that you trust, contact them to discuss the symptoms and determine the next step. If you don’t already have one, read our article on finding the right Physical Therapist. A Physical Therapist can help guide you on the path of efficient recovery and can help address other issues that may have arisen because of the injury such as changes in the way you walk or move.

If you have made it through a week of recovery time, and are feeling stronger and less sore, then continue moving in non-painful ways and gradually add more challenging activities. Check out the Battle Born Health YouTube channel for exercise basics and progressions to get you feeling stronger and moving again.

Here are a few recommended videos that focus on the core, hips and legs which will keep you safe in the snow: 

How to do a proper lunge:

How to do a proper squat: 

The basics of core stabilization: 

About the author: Jessica DeVore holds a Doctorate of Physical Therapy from UT Southwestern Medical Center. She lives in the Tahoe area, where she enjoys rock-climbing, backpacking, skiing, and mountain biking. As a Physical Therapist at Battle Born Health, she loves helping people restore their bodies in order to live a full and active life.