Silver Fern

I have so much to say about this company and this topic, so I'm going to jump right in. 

Let’s start here. In your gut, you have 100 trillion bacteria that line your intestinal tract. Although you can have bad bacteria in there, you have a whole lot of good bacteria as well. The good bacteria aggressively protects your body from the bad, and we need more of it!! The more good bacteria we have, the better off we’ll be!

So how do we get more good bacteria?

We get more of the “good guys” through a number of ways. Some of these ways include cutting out sugar and processed foods, eating more plant and dietary fiber (the good stuff), limiting antibiotics and antacids, finding ways to lower our stress levels, getting consistent sleep of 7-9 hours a night, and taking a probiotic, to name a few.

What is a probiotic and why do I take one every day?

Probiotics are also the “good guys”: the good live bacteria and yeasts that help you and your digestive system. They help to keep your gut (and other things!) healthy.

I have become more and more interested in gut health, because I’m realizing most diseases we acquire start right there. Around 80% of our immune system is linked to the gut. I’ve also been astonished at how many people I’ve talked to lately, deal with gut issues. As a nurse, every week I work with kids who are experiencing chronic gut diseases and having to deal with the symptoms and side effects that come with that. Many of these gut issues, including gluten intolerance, can be healed and alleviated by managing what we put into our bodies and resetting our gut environment.

Changing your gut bacteria and taking a probiotic, will not only help to reprogram your metabolism, but it will help you to lose weight faster, reduce your sugar cravings, keep your brain healthy and happy, reduce the bad gut bacteria, keep you away from disease, and turn you into a fat-burning machine.

Also, did you realize the connection our brains have to our gut? It’s incredible. Depression, anxiety, ADHD, addition… all of these things can be helped tremendously by having a healthy gut. Scientists have discovered there is a direct pathway from the gut to the brain, known as the gut-brain axis. This pathway gives gut bacteria power to communicate directly with your brain. The more good bacteria we have in there, the less sugary cravings we’ll get, and the better our brains will function.

Fiber, along with a probiotic, is also essential to this plan because it acts as a prebiotic. In short, a prebiotic is fiber that nourishes the good bacteria already in the large intestine. While probiotics give us more of the good bacteria for our gut, prebiotics help nourish what’s already there. Those two together have a powerful force for good! This combination also creates something called short chain fatty acids (SCFAs). SCFAs are what drive the metabolism change in our bodies and help us burn more fat.

Why I choose Silver Fern:

If you're looking to use a probiotic supplement, this is one I'd recommend. Let me tell you why I choose Silver Fern.

There are many probiotics on the market, and going to look for the right one can be overwhelming. The sad truth is, many of the probiotics you find on the shelves at the store don’t work. Only certain strains have been clinically proven to survive the stomach acids and make it all the way to the large intestine where they can colonize (because that’s where we want them to go!). You want to be looking for the Bacillius strains, or strains that will make it all the way to where you need them. The strains with the most powerful benefits include Bacillus Subtilis, Bacillus coagulans, and Bacillus clausii. Silver Fern’s pass this survivability test.

Not only is Silver Fern’s probiotic survivability verified, but it has 8 billion CFU (an adequate, quality daily consumption), it’s DNA verified (which means they’ve listed exactly what you’re taking on the bottle- without this, you have no idea what could be in there), and pharmaceutical grade... all things you want to look for in a good probiotic.

How to benefit most from taking a probiotic:

Silver Fern has their “Elevated 7-Step Plan” that really guides you through this process, but I’ll make it simple: If you are going to take a probiotic and want to reap the benefits, this is what I’d recommend:

1.     Set achievable goals when it comes to diet. I’d have to agree with this short saying … “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” –Michael Pollan. Keep eating your whole, real foods, and set realistic expectations for yourself. Reduce your added sugar and refined carbs (white breads, pasta, etc.)…Eating too much sugar and not enough fiber will only encourage bad bacteria to grow and this road leadings to obesity and other health problems. As we know, bad bacteria thrives on sugar and cutting down on these foods will help!

2.     Eat more fiber. Once you’ve begun to take a probiotic, as you also increase your fiber intake, you start to reprogram your metabolism for lasting weight loss. The minimum daily requirement of fiber for men is 30 grams and 25 grams for women. Foods that have a lot of fiber include:  raspberries, bananas, mangos, pears, apples, bran muffins/bran flakes, black beans, almonds, peanuts, peas, broccoli, artichokes, corn, or Silver Fern’s Plant-Based Protein Formula / Wai Probiotic Drink Mixes.

3.     Eliminate artificial sweeteners: things like Sucralose (Splenda), Aspartame, Saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low), Neotame, etc. They also encourage growth of bad bacteria and other studies have shown these sweeteners can actually make you MORE hungry! Stay away from them.

4.     Drink water! Try to aim for 100 oz. of water a day, but start with half your body weight, in ounces of water, and go from there.

Silver Fern claims that after 4 weeks of following their Elevated plan, and taking their probiotics, your cravings for sweets and treats will be reduced. They say after just 9 weeks, your metabolism will start to improve drastically. That’s pretty amazing!

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s to protect your gut!! It’s going to be your best defense, and Silver Fern has things right.

Some of their other products if you’re interested:

Wai drink mixes: These are my other favorite product from Silver Fern, next to the probiotic. I don’t mind the taste one bit- in fact, I like it! My husband and my daughter love it too! A great way to get some prebiotics and probiotics in for you and your kids.

Baking mixes: low in sugar and refined carbs and high in fiber and protein. Also, gluten free!

Whey Protein Powder: (I love their chocolate whey protein powder and use it in my chocolate PB almond protein balls (which I'll post soon). Give it a try! 

Jim Valvano's 1993 ESPY Speech

Watch this and try not to cry. I dare you. For anyone who wants some inspiration today, Jim Valvano, legendary North Carolina State basketball coach and ESPN commentator, will give it to you. One of my favorite speeches of all time.

Three important things that Jim talks about that we should strive to do every day.




"Because... if you laugh, you think, and you cry... that's a full day. That's a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you're gonna have something special... 

I urge all of you, all of you, to enjoy your life; the precious moments you have. Spend each day with some laughter, some thought, and to get your emotions going; to be enthusiastic; to keep your dreams alive, despite what problems you have; to be able to work hard for your dreams to become a reality."

What are you going to do today to bring some laughter into your life, some thought, and some inspiration? What a difference it can make to focus on these three simple things!

Another thing I love from this speech:

"What's important in life is where you started, where you are, and where you're going to be. Those are the three things I try to do every day."

This is something I've been thinking a lot about lately. Whatever your goals or your dreams may be, JUST START. Sometimes that's the hardest part: starting. It doesn't matter where you are now. Write down your goals, write down your dreams, and just start today. Don't worry about your pace of achieving these goals... just focus on the baby steps and the small improvements. As long as we're moving, we're progressing. Only you and God fully understand what you can become, so keep pushing forward.

Another favorite from his speech:

"Cancer can take all my physical abilities. But it CANNOT touch my mind, it CANNOT touch my heart, and it CANNOT touch my soul. And those three things are going to carry on forever."

What powerful words. We truly are not defined by our trials... we are defined by the way we get through them.

And lastly, his famous line:


Wherever you are in life, in whatever stage or situation you find yourself in... NEVER GIVE UP. You are worth fighting for, and your trials and weaknesses DO NOT define you. Keep moving forward, and know that you are loved and worth loving.

Happy FRI-YAY.

What's Your Excuse?

What's your excuse today for not eating well?

If you find yourself saying, "I know I need to eat better but _____" (fill in the blank), this post is for YOU. Yes, eating healthy takes practice. And yes, it requires some effort. But it's absolutely possible, even with a busy lifestyle. Trust me on this! I loooooove my chocolate, sweets, and baked goods, but I've learned to balance them as I stick to a few important things. I'll say it once, and I'll say it again: YOU CANNOT OUTWORK A BAD DIET.

Here are the top five excuses

why people don't eat well:


1. "I don't have time to cook!" 

I get it, you're busy. But everyone is busy. This is when meal prep comes in handy. If you find you have some spare time when your kids go down to sleep, in the morning hours before work, or even an afternoon where things have slowed down, take the time to meal prep!! Trust me on this: meal prep saves me week after week. A lot of my recipes I've posted can be frozen and used for later times. I feel like mornings can be a busy time for me, and I always want to be sure my family gets breakfast. So, we will keep frozen muffins in the freezer for a grab-and-go item, put Kodiak pancake mix in our pancake pen so it's ready to use for a few days, or have bags filled with fruit and spinach for quick smoothies when we want those. Also, your grocery store has many items that reduce your time in the kitchen: bags of frozen fruit or veggies already cut up, prepared meats to throw in a salad, and pre-made salads/wraps that can be enjoyed on the go. 

2. "It's not a priority for me."

If health is not a priority for you, what are your reasons? Sometimes it's good to evaluate what things in our life are keeping us from living a healthier lifestyle, and then make some modifications. Priorities change dramatically when illness takes place. As a nurse, I see this quite often. It's easy to take our health for granted, but we must do what we can now so that we can build up our body's defense system so it can better fight whatever comes our way. Work to make it a priority in your life. YOU ARE WORTH IT.

3. "I crave fast food and treats too much."

Intake of certain foods that contain high amounts of saturated fats, cholesterol, added sugars, and salt should be limited. However, it doesn't mean you can't ever indulge in treats. MODERATION is the key. Occasional fast-food meals and sweets in moderation are acceptable in a nutritious diet. Yes, I love homemade chocolate chip cookies! Yes, I love chocolate! Yes, I love Oreos and could eat them by the sleeve! Yes, I love Chick-Fil-A's waffle fries.  Some of these things are a serious weakness of mine, and so I've learned to do a few things when those cravings hit... First, I try to keep them out of my house entirely. Keeping these "trigger foods" out of my house really seems to help...  The phrase "out of sight, out of mind" really starts to play in. :) Second, when I decide to have them, I ENJOY them. As long as you are eating these things in moderation, you'll be okay. It's important to enjoy the things we love, and keep that positive relationship with food. There's too much "food-shaming" in the world or "food-guilt." Moderation, moderation, moderation. Third, if I have made other plans, and have written out my menu for the week, the thought of fast-food doesn't even cross my mind. Get out a notebook and write out your menu!

4. "I don't have enough money to afford healthy food."

Eating well costs no more than eating poorly. Chips, soda, fast food, and ice cream cost as much or more PER SERVING as nutritious foods. What helps me to not overspend, is writing out a grocery list and sticking to it! I always carry a list with me at the grocery store, and when I'm planning meals, rather than picking up "this" or "that," I stick to my list and stay within my budget. If possible, try to coordinate your meals so that if any ingredients are leftover, they can be used as rollover ingredients in the next meal. 

(For an evidence-based discussion on this topic, click here.)

5. "I'll just take vitamins or supplements instead."

I'll say this once, and I'll say it again-- vitamin pills CANNOT make up for consistently poor food choices. They can help add to your healthy lifestyle, but don't use them in REPLACEMENT of healthy, whole foods. Real food, or whole food, is going to be where you'll find the vitamins and nutrients your body needs to function optimally; food coming from nature. Real foods don't have added ingredients or ingredients taken away. They are one-ingredient foods like "apple," "carrots," "spinach," etc. Stock your fridge with fresh, seasonal veggies and fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, healthy fats, and good-quality meats and animal products, and you will see changes coming your way!!

The Backyard Burger

Worrying about your backyard BBQ tonight!? I've got you covered!! This is hands down our very favorite way to make burgers, and it is sure to impress your guests. For all you Paleo-eaters out there, this is right up your alley! Drooling taste buds, meet The Backyard Burger. Have a safe fourth of July!


Serves 6


2 lb. grass-fed ground beef

1/2 onion, minced or grated

4-5 green onions, sliced thin

3-4 garlic cloves, crushed

3 tbsp. coconut aminos, or lite soy sauce

1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp. pepper

1/4 tsp. ground mustard

1/4 tsp. thyme


1. Mix all ingredients until just evenly combined. Don’t over mix! 

2. Shape into six patties. Meanwhile, preheat grill or grill pan to high.

3. Brush patties with olive oil, and grill for 5 minutes. Flip, and grill for another 5-7 minutes, depending on cooking preference.

4. Eat wrapped in lettuce or on a whole wheat bun with your choice of veggies and condiments.

Recipe modified from Shannon at @cleaneats_cleantreats, and Rachel at @rachel_rebuilt, (two women who I greatly admire!)

The table's set!