There might be dangerous chemicals in your tap water — here’s how to stay safe

Remember the movie “Erin Brockovich”? Of course, you do.

But unless you’ve rewatched it recently, you may not remember that Brockovich—in real life, and in the movie—was fighting a company suspected of polluting a small California town’s drinking water with a cancer-causing contaminant called chromium-6 (aka, hexavalent chromium).

Fast-forward 20 years, and it may shock you to learn that chromium-6 is still a threat to 218 million Americans, including residents of every state. That’s just one of the many findings of a just-released Environmental Working Group (EWG) report on the state of our nation’s drinking water.

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“We’ve known about chromium-6 since Erin Brockovich, but it’s still a pervasive problem, and there’s no federal legal standard for it,” says Nneka Leiba, MPH, the director of Healthy Living Science at the EWG.

Unfortunately, chromium-6 isn’t the only dangerous chemical of concern. After examining data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and almost 50,000 public water systems across the nation, the EWG found 267 different contaminants in our nation’s water supply—more than half of which have no established legal limit.

How could this be, you ask? “The Environmental Protection Agency hasn’t put a new contaminant on its regulated list since 1996, which is when the Clean Water Act was passed. We’ve learned so much more about chemicals since then, but we still haven’t made any improvements in our policies,” Leiba explains.

Arsenic, lead, the agricultural herbicide Atrazine, perchlorate, and perfluorinated chemicals are just a handful of the hundreds of contaminants the EWG found to be widespread in public tap water systems. Many of these chemicals have been shown to be carcinogenic, impair thyroid function, and cause harm to fetal growth and development.

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When asked for a response, an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) spokesperson was quick to point out that “more than 90 percent of the country’s drinking water systems meet all of EPA’s health-based drinking water standards” and that the EPA has “set drinking water standards for more than 90 contaminants, including microorganisms, disinfectants, disinfection byproducts, inorganic and organic chemicals, and radionuclides.”

How you can protect yourself

Start by plugging your zip code into the EWG’s database to learn what contaminants are in your local tap water.

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  • Your bottled water has 24,500 chemicals

Next, check out the EWG water filter guide and buy one, stat. You can input contaminants of concern and find filters that are third-party certified by NSF International, a product testing, inspection, and certification organization.

“In most cases, activated carbon water filters will reduce many or all contaminants,” Leiba says, referring to the pitcher-style water filters many of us already use. “Having one is especially important if there’s a vulnerable population in your house—someone who is pregnant or sick, or a baby,” Leiba says. (One EWG-approved filter to try: Brita Chrome 8-Cup Water Filter Pitcher, $40, amazon.com)

Put your water filter to good use with this de-bloating sassy water recipe:

One thing you shouldn’t do: turn to bottled water.

“In many cases, bottled water is just filtered tap water, so it’s the same thing you’d get using a filter,” Leiba says. “But bottled water is much more expensive, and it can also expose you to contaminants leaching into your water from the plastic bottle itself.”

Protecting future generations

Leiba says we all need to “raise our voices” and let elected officials know we need greater source-water protections and infrastructure upgrades (contact information for local government officials can be found on USA.gov.) “Our water utilities are constantly dealing with the influx of contaminants, but the onus isn’t only on the utility,” she says. “They’re usually within federal safety limits, but being within federal limits does not mean our water is safe. In many cases, we’ve done the science and the testing, and we know that these contaminants are unsafe, but there’s been no action taken.”

7 Reasons Your Team Fails to Make a Breakthrough

Nowadays many people strive to become successful managers, create professional working team and reach success. They wholeheartedly believe that leadership, intelligence and good organizational skills are enough to reach this goal. It is not enough, because modern world is not as easy as it seems.

Your employees are human beings who are vulnerable to stress, anxiety, high pressure situations and burnouts. Good manager is not only a clever and emotionally tough leader, but a psychologist who can read the minds, take wise decisions, reduce stress, motivate and inspire the whole team. Check out what things, rules or decisions discourage and destabilize your team.

1. Multitasking is a culprit


Managers who think that multitasking can increase the productivity of their teams are mistaken. At first, it can give desirable results, but your busy bees will soon burn out and become non-productive.

People cannot be efficient and productive when focusing on many tasks at a time. Multitasking steals a lot of energy and doubles the amount of mistakes. If you want to get the ball rolling, you should encourage monotasking. As a manager, you should learn how to prioritize the tasks, because monotasking requires effective prioritization.

2. There is a negative atmosphere in the office
It is difficult to be creative and elicit your potential in a stressful office environment. Many managers state that workers’ stress levels are rising and they cannot stop this contagious problem.

As a manager or boss, you should realize that you are responsible for both financial and emotional well-being of your team and company. You should instill confidence in the minds of your employees and create the atmosphere of happiness in the office.

Favorable working environment will help the members of your team feel comfortable and uninhibited. If your business is based on creativity and extraordinary ideas, then the atmosphere of well-being will play into the hands of your company’s interests.

3. They are plunged into work even outside the office
Many perfectionist bosses adore those employees who find it difficult to unplug from work. These always-on team members often work extra-hours even during a day off. Bosses should understand that the employee is not a perpetual energy source, but a human being and a person.

People who live and breathe their work sooner or later become miserable, because they have no time and energy to build their lives and happiness. Everyone needs time for relaxation, entertainment and recreation. Just make it a rule not to email or call your employees after 8 p.m.

4. They have no idea how to cope with chaos
If you are a mindful, successful and emotionally strong person, you should teach your employees to deal with chaos, uncertainty and stress. It does not mean you should organize psychological seminars or mediation sessions.

Just share your experiences and give valuable pieces of advice on how to develop mindfulness. Today many people create useful mental habits and train brains by using modern apps. If you know some effective mindfulness apps that help people navigate stress, share them with your team.

5. They lack physical activity
Sedentary lifestyle is a silent killer. It can ruin people’s lives and turn them into depressive pessimists in the twinkling of an eye. If you want your company to be successful and prosperous, take care of your working team members’ health.

If flextime does not correspond to your business interests, then at least provide more physical activity opportunities for your employees. Let them take a break to do some physical exercises during the day.

6. You are too hard on them
No matter how emotionally strong your employees can be, if you are too hard on them, sooner or later, they will burn out and break down. It is hard for extremely demanding and ambitious managers to find the balance between exactness and empathy. If they are too mild and sympathetic, then employees can take too much advantage and even brass.

If they are too hard on everyone and keep them on their toes all the time, the team just breaks apart. Do not fear to be kind and empathetic with your team. These qualities will bring maximum benefit, because reasonable empathy is good for both people and business.

7. They never take vacations
If you want to become a successful manager or boss, you should get rid of the habit of squeezing cons to the very last drop from the employees. This negative habit can only disgrace your name and give birth to hatred in the hearts of your team members.

People who work in 24/7 environment without vacations often suffer from insomnia, absent-mindedness and other psychological disorders. If your team works without breaks, consider changing your attitude towards them, because greediness and irrational use of human resources can seriously destabilize your business or company.

Start making positive changes today, because the success and prosperity of your company depend on you. What other things can affect your team’s productivity?

5 Stupidest Things People Told Me When I Was Starting My Business

When it comes to the world of business, it seems that everyone is an expert. Or so they like to think. When I started my first little side business back in 2012, I received far more unqualified advice than support or encouragement.

Last year I started my first full-time business. This time I was braced for the same storm of negativity, but I was pleasantly surprised when it did not come. The difference was that I had expanded my social circle and was spending more of my time with like-minded people.

I had stopped spending my time with naysayers, and my friends today are positive and inspiring people. Many of them are entrepreneurs themselves or open-minded, kind-spirited people who want to see others do well.

If you are hearing any of the following dumb things regularly from your inner circle, then it may be time to network and find a more supportive crowd. Starting a business is tough, and having the right people to encourage you is helpful beyond measure.

1. It is too hard to start a business


This is often someone else projecting their own insecurities onto you. When someone tells you something is too hard, it is really too hard for them. They are not you and they do not know what you are made of. Have the self-confidence to thank them for their input, but not to take it to heart.

2. The market is flooded
If you are entering a niche that is already very competitive, that does not mean the game is over before you have begun. On one hand it is a good sign that there is a demand for what you are offering. And of course, today the micro-niche is where it is at. In any market, however popular, your unique skills and values will claim you a corner for yourself.

3. You can’t do it all yourself
I beg to differ. Some business owners need a team around them, so they grow a team. Some business owners, like myself, are lone wolves until the day they die. That does not mean total isolation; there are other ways to get help without needing to employ people.

There are many websites that make it incredibly easy to outsource anything from admin and customer service to website building. So if you are flying solo with your business, just know that there are affordable services out there if you need them.

4. You risk losing everything
Hmm, not if you are smart and careful. Many first-time business owners opt for the sensible, part-time launch. They perhaps reduce their working hours at their day job to part-time and make the most of what time they have left to get their business off the ground.

This is a particularly good move for service-based businesses such as coaching or consulting. Many first clients come from referrals, so business builds up slowly over time. Jumping ship from your day job straight into a full-time business is, of course, riskier.

If the business is brand new, then you have not proved your business model yet, so how do you know you can pay the bills? Entrepreneurs understand this and take calculated risks. And yes, sometimes it does not go our way and we lose money. But we always learn from it and come back with a reinforced business plan.

A failure is only the end of the world if you allow it to ruin you. If you have been smart, put emergency financial measures in place, and not burned your bridges at your old job, you can get through the tough times.

5. It is a jungle out there
Really? You don’t say! We knew that already and we would prefer to be encouraged and supported, not belittled. People starting their own business are doing a brave thing and stepping right out of their comfort zones, and that should always be celebrated. We know it is a jungle, and we were born tigers.

My top tip for aspiring business owners is to talk to more experienced entrepreneurs. You need to know the truth without it being sugarcoated, but also without superfluous negativity.

Finding a great mentor is an awesome business hack too. If you can take advice from the people who walked the path before you, and you have the desire to start your own business, then why should anything stop you?

7 Life Questions to Ask Yourself Today

In today’s modern world, many of us stick to the high tempo and miss many important for self-development things. But sometimes we thirst for the moment to stop and ask yourself several life questions. I’m sure there are certain questions which can help you improve yourself and know yourself better. When reflecting on your position, behavior and deeds, you can reach a new level of human development scale. Take a look at these questions and maybe they will change your life for the better.

1. What do you want to change in this world?
Almost everyone is able to change the world. Even small deeds and actions can contribute to making changes in this world. The main point is to have a frank desire. Nowadays we are free to change the world by volunteering or donating. Plus, you can create a music that’s proved to change people and their inner opinions. The best idea to change the world for the better is to start from yourself and your own world view. When we think of changing the world, it indicates that we’ve become stronger and more intelligent.

2. What are your life values?
Our values are the core element of the life. People who have no values are doomed to run around and chase unnecessary things. Families and life experiences endowed us with appropriate values and we have to find time to write them down and realize what is the most important for you. You have to set priorities whether to spend more time with family and friends or make a successful career. If your heart needs love, then try to become a good wife or a girlfriend to your man.

3. What do you like to do?
This question is really important because often we choose jobs that we don’t enjoy doing. We are often pressed by parents, colleagues and bosses to make a decision we don’t support. Even if you have a well-paid job, don’t be afraid to quit it. Do what you really love and you will feel much happier.

4. How do you imagine your life 5 years from now?
Find time and imagine your life 5 years from now. It can be easier to create a scheme including goals and mini-goals as a constituent part of your plan. If you want to reach them faster, then pay attention to concrete things and try not to build castles in the sky. Don’t be a lazybones and start accomplishing the list of goals and dreams you want to come true. If you follow this chain of actions, you will definitely succeed.

5. Is there a balance between want and should?
There are many important things we all should do in life, such as finishing the college degree, making money and starting a family. It often happens that our wants do not coincide with our shoulds and we end up feeling miserable. But it’s easy to turn your want into should. Your wants should come true and become an indispensable part of your everyday life. Try to draw the line between things you want and what you should do. You will certainly succeed and keep a healthy life balance.

6. What are your biggest fears?
Modern world often awards us with big or small fears. The key weapon to fight fears is to accept and face them. The most challenging thing is to win yourself. Nowadays it is normal to have fears and it doesn’t mean you are weak. Just be yourself and find a way to cope with your fears.

7. What if I die right now?
Don’t waste your energy and nerves mulling over small troubles and problems. If you were dying right now, what would be the most important to you? Your family and friends, or career and money? Stop worrying about money and other less important things, because life is too short. You may ask yourself if it’s a big problem that you’ve missed a bus or you’re late for work today.

I like asking life questions that always make me think and reflect. When you are having a cup of tea, try to ask yourself profound questions. This will help you to live a happier life. Do you find asking these questions necessary?

9 Powerful Ways to Help Your Children Reach Their Goals in the Future

When children grow up they usually begin to make plans for future and choose a profession they would like to get. But at this early age they are not experienced enough to make a good choice and all their dreams may turn out to be futile. Thus, it is important for all parents to respect their children’s decision and direct them onto the right career path. Remember that only your support and involvement will help your child to become successful and happy in their life. Consider the following tips to implement your child’s desires.

1. Plan child`s future in advance
You ought to think of your child’s future in advance in order to avoid unwanted problems later. It would be useful for them to attend special courses when they are at high school. As a result, your children will be able to acquire knowledge and skills that are necessary for a particular occupation. This way they can obtain a degree so that it will be easier to find a job afterwards.

2. Explore the job description
Once you’ve decided on your child’s career, try to examine thoroughly the description of the job. When you know all the requirements you can pick out the most appropriate degree program for your child. The right option will allow them to gain the basic skills that are essential for their profession.

3. Choose the right college
You have to be very careful while selecting the best college for your child as it is a responsible step on the way to their success. First of all this educational establishment should fit his or her abilities and interests. Don’t forget about the job requirements. That is the most crucial factor that influences your choice of the college. It would be reasonable for you to get acquainted with the academic program and subjects that your child will study. Plus, you may also survey the progress of those who graduated from this college.

4. Consider experience requirements
If your children have some experience at a certain field, it will be beneficial for them and they will get more chances to fulfill their career goals. That’s why you need to look for a related job that will enable your child to try his/her proficiency. Perhaps, it’s not the job of their dream, but this is a wonderful opportunity to pave their way to great achievements and succeed in the selected industry. Moreover, your child can study and acquire experience at the same time.

5. Advanced degree programs
Certainly, employers are more interested in those graduates who have a master’s degree. Even if you lack experience, they will accept you eagerly since your degree characterizes you as a highly educated and proficient person. Due to this I recommend you to encourage your child to get a higher degree after their bachelor program. Good education is the main thing they need for further advancements.

6. Check if there are any internships
Today there are lots of colleges that offer internships to their students. So, you should assist your children to apply for them, if possible. This is an excellent way to practice in their favorite sphere of activity. The only thing you may not like about internships is the fact that they don’t pay a salary. However, experience is the most valuable quality for your child.

7. Review salary maximums
Undoubtedly, salary is one of those things that determine our career choice. A perfect job is the one that brings us enjoyment and a high salary as well. Unfortunately, it’s rather difficult to find such job these days. Still you should be aware of the maximum salary your child can earn while being engaged in the selected career. Sure, when they just start to work for the company, you can’t expect huge sums of money. But if they get a promotion, their salary will be increased anyway.

8. Examine the job market
It is impossible to reach the desirable results in a definite industry in case you don’t know how to examine the job market. Parents must teach their children to spot the most profitable regions for their career. Having gained recognition at one place, they can easily switch to a new highly-paid job that will provide prosperity to them.

9. Stay positive
Bear in mind that your emotional state has a great impact on your child. Therefore, you should do your best to cheer them up whatever happens. When children see their parents in a good mood, they will be inspired to attain their aim. Your praise is a splendid way to motivate them to continue their journey. They should be ready for different obstacles on their career path. Failure is not the reason to give up, it’s just a chance to take a new step.

Your child’s happiness and success mostly depend on your encouragement and approval of their dreams. When it comes to their future, you shouldn’t stay aside. It is the responsibility of all parents to help their children find the right way in life and to be near whenever they need. Your support and understanding will make them feel confident and they will reach their goals effortlessly. What do you usually do to inspire your children to fulfill their dreams?

21 Point Health Check for Your Project

If you want to know how well your project is performing, then start by benchmarking it against projects that adhere to best practices. This article lists twenty-one different questions you can ask to establish whether or not your project is operating effectively.


1. Do you understand the customer’s requirements?
Make sure you listen to what the customer has to say, and that you fully understand what they are asking for. The requirements should be written down and agreed upon by all involved parties.

2. Do you have the capability to support the customer’s requirements?
Having the capability to deliver what a customer is asking for may mean technological capability, knowledge or specific skills within your team. Check for any shortfall in skills before the work begins.

3. Have you established a high level project strategy?
A high-level strategy outlines the main goals of the project and the approach that will be taken to achieve those goals. You must spend time thinking about your overall strategy before delving into the detail of the project.

4. Do you have a business case for the project?
A business case outlines the benefits of running a particular project. For the majority of projects, these benefits are financial. To proceed with a project you must first have a clear understanding of what you will gain from it.

5. Do you have a strategy for managing your suppliers?
Suppliers’ delivery dates can be critical for a project. You must actively manage any key suppliers on a project to ensure they deliver in a timely manner, and that their goods or services are up to the right standards.

6. Have you created a risk register?
Risk management is one of the most important features of any successful project. To control every risk on your project, it is important that you keep a list of them and update that list regularly. This is commonly referred to as the risk register.

7. Is the project cost full understood?
To have any chance of managing a project budget, you need to take the time to estimate all of your potential project cost. Make sure you get quotes from every supplier, including any hidden costs that may not be mentioned in the price, for example shipping costs.

8. Do you have a project plan?
Even a small project needs to have a written project plan. A project plan will help you keep control of what is going on, and it will enable you to check whether every task has the right amount of money, time and people.

9. Does the project plan cover resource management too?
Resource management is a plan outlining how you intend to distribute your resources to get your project done. It can help you check for any shortfall in personnel, and it can also help you manage the costs of a project.

10. Do you understand the scope of the project?
If a project has a clear scope, it is easier to keep the team focused. A project with a vague scope can be problematic because things can quickly get out of control if the customer requests numerous project changes once work has begun.

11. Do you have an organizational structure for the project?
A project is like any other workplace activity; it operates at its best when everyone in the team has clear roles and responsibilities. The easiest way to achieve this is to create an organizational chart for the project.

12. Have your internal management team evaluated the project?
All projects need the support of senior business management teams. Ensure you have their agreement by reviewing the project with them before it begins. Only once it has been fully evaluated by the management team you can be sure that the project has the proper authority to proceed.

13. Do you understand who your project stakeholders are?
Project stakeholders are interested parties. These may include suppliers, customers, and internal staff. Stakeholders can be supportive and helpful to a project, but they can also be disruptive. For this reason, it is important to carry out a thorough assessment of your project stakeholders at the start of the project.

14. How will the project be financed?
If financing is ambiguous, this could potentially leave a funding gap half way through a project. To avoid this, ensure all funds have been agreed at the start, including any contingency money that may be required for emergencies.

15. Does the proposed solution to meet the customer’s requirements?
Never start design work without first reading through the customer’s requirements. Doing so would put you at risk of making assumptions that damage the outcome of the project. Always make sure that what you are creating perfectly matches up with what the customer wants. If this isn’t possible, at least get an agreement with the customer about any aspect they need to compromise on.

16. Have all relevant parties agreed the budget?
Having a written budget is only part of the financial role within a project. Any budgetary requirements must be agreed with the person funding the project. This includes any changes to the budget once the project is in progress.

17. Do you have all the resources you need to carry out the project?
A project can suffer if it lacks the resources needed to fulfill all the tasks. Never assume fewer staff members can cover the extra work. Have a clear expectation at the start about how many resources are needed to get the project done in the time frame expected.

18. Have you identified Risk Owners?
If you have identified a risk on your project, then you need to make sure that someone has the responsibility for managing that risk. A Risk Owner is someone who is assigned to a risk. This information should always be kept in the risk register.

19. Do you have clear visibility of what is being spent on the project?
When managing the project budget, always ensure that you are keeping a daily track of what is being spent. It is very easy for a project to overspend, and if this isn’t spotted immediately then it can cause a serious funding problem later on in the project.

20. Are there review points throughout the project?
It is far too easy for a project to gradually fall into difficulty without anyone ever realizing. To avoid this, run reviews at major points during the project. Reviews are sometimes referred to as gates, and their purpose is for the management team responsible for overseeing the project to check how things are going. It is also a good opportunity to check if the project is still going to be a benefit to the organization and to the customer.

21. Is your project documentation up to date?
It is important that you keep a written record of all critical information throughout a project, and that you store this in a way that can be accessed the full project team.

No project is perfect, and when it comes to best practice, you may have a reasonable explanation for taking a few shortcuts. However, by following these twenty-one checks you can see at a glance if your project is being managed competently or whether a lack of any best practice is a cause to sound the alarm.

What If There Was No Valentine’s Day on February 14th?

Valentine’s Day is an interesting holiday. There are many thoughts on the origination of the holiday, but that is a whole other topic. Some people adore Valentine’s Day, and others simply despise it. It can be a hard holiday to endure for those who are alone or not recognized on that day. I wonder. What if there was no Valentine’s Day? Would the world come to an end as we know it? Without Valentine’s Day:

How would we show our love and adoration for others?

There are 365 days in the year. Pick a day, or how about showing your love and adoration for others every day? Is that possible? Maybe not, but we definitely could put forth a little more effort into showing how we care throughout the year regardless of whether there is Valentine’s Day or not.

When will anyone receive any roses?

I am one of those who never receives flowers, ever. Can you tell I am a little bitter? Anyway, it is always nice to surprise someone you care about with roses or other beautiful flowers, as long as it is not because you feel guilty for doing something wrong.

If you have children, you may have even experienced the dandelion bouquet that was thoughtfully picked by hand just for you. If so, you know that your heart was touched by that simple gesture. You did not need Valentine’s Day to receive dandelions. For those of you who have not experienced that yet, just wait. You will see what I mean when that time comes.

When would loved ones buy special gifts for each other?

Remember that 365 days comment earlier? Guess what? You can also pick a day out of the year to buy special gifts for your loved one anytime. You can find gifts throughout the year to show your love. They are just not as obvious as they are near Valentine’s Day.

You might have to spend some time actually shopping either online or in the store looking for that special something. It would be a unique and creative gift rather than an item of multiples on a shelf that everyone has access to. You would have to take the time to really put effort into your thought of gift giving for your love.

What else would we do on February 14th?

Good question. If it was not Valentine’s Day on the 14th, you would have to have a normal day like any other day. You would have to go about your regular business, eat dinner at home, save the chocolate for an after dinner dessert, etc. Would that be so hard?

Would that be so hard?

Yes, I believe it would be. It would not be the same if we did not have February 14th set aside for Valentine’s Day. However, I also feel we should not hesitate to show our love and do for others any day of the year whether we celebrate Valentine’s Day or not.

What do you think? Valentine’s Day or not?

The Best Avocado Recipes For All The Addicts Out There

There’s a lot of potential beneath the skin of the humble avocado. They can be mashed into guacamole. They can be fried into tacos. Or better yet, filled with eggs and baked into the best breakfast this side of the Atlantic.

Not only are avocados delicious, but they’re good for us too. They’re an excellent source of healthful fats and could help improve heart health.

Avocados are great. You know it, we know it. And these recipes right here know it. We have the best avocado recipes you could dream of, so get cooking because this right here is for all you avocado addicts out there:

1 Crispy Beer Battered Avocado Tacos

How Sweet It Is
Get the Crispy Beer Battered Avocado Tacos recipe from How Sweet It Is
2 Mediterranean Avocado Chicken Salad

Half Baked Harvest
Get the Mediterranean Avocado Chicken Salad recipe from Half Baked Harvest
3 Citrus Fennel And Avocado Salad

Foodie Crush
Get the Citrus Fennel and Avocado Salad recipe from Foodie Crush
4 Avocado Boats

Minimalist Baker
Get the Avocado Boats recipe from Minimalist Baker
5 Avocado Brownies

How Sweet It Is
Get the Avocado Brownies recipe from How Sweet It Is
6 Avocado Tabbouleh

Cookie And Kate
Get the Avocado Tabbouleh recipe from Cookie + Kate
7 Avocado And Banana Bread

Damn Delicious
Get the Avocado and Banana Bread recipe from Damn Delicious
8 BLT Lettuce Wraps With Avocado Ranch

How Sweet It Is
Get the BLT Lettuce Wraps with Avocado Ranch recipe from How Sweet It Is
9 Breakfast Enchiladas With Avocado Cream Sauce

Naturally Ella
Get the Breakfast Enchiladas with Avocado Cream Sauce recipe from Naturally Ella
10 Grilled Corn and Feta Egg In A Hole Avocado Toast

Half Baked Harvest
Get the Grilled Corn and Feta Egg in a Hole Avocado Toast recipe from Half Baked Harvest
11 Chocolate Peanut Butter Avocado Pudding

Minimalist Baker
Get the Chocolate Peanut Butter Avocado Pudding recipe from Minimalist Baker
12 Spicy Smashed Avocado And Asparagus With Dill Havarti Grilled Cheese

Foodie Crush
Get the Spicy Smashed Avocado and Asparagus with Dill Havarti Grilled Cheese recipe from Foodie Crush
13 Avocado Greek Yogurt Ranch Dressing

Cooking Classy
Get the Avocado Greek Yogurt Ranch Dressing recipe from Cooking Classy
14 Black Bean Tacos with California Avocado-Sweet Corn Salad

Naturally Ella
Get the Black Bean Tacos with California Avocado-Sweet Corn Salad recipe from Naturally Ella
15 Green Goddess Egg Salad With Avocado

Feasting at Home
Get the Green Goddess Egg Salad With Avocado recipe from Feasting at Home
16 Avocado Bruschetta With Balsamic Reduction

Damn Delicious
Get the Avocado Bruschetta with Balsamic Reduction recipe from Damn Delicious
17 Chilled Avocado Soup

Naturally Ella
Get the Chilled Avocado Soup recipe from Naturally Ella
18 Avocado Hummus

Cooking Classy
Get the Avocado Hummus recipe from Cooking Classy
19 Portobello Steaks With Avocado Chimichurri

Minimalist Baker
Get the Portobello Steaks With Avocado Chimichurri recipe from Minimalist Baker
20 Buffalo Chicken And Avocado BLT Wraps

Half Baked Harvest
Get the Buffalo Chicken and Avocado BLT Wraps recipe from Half Baked Harvest
21 Avocado Caprese Skillet Chicken

Cooking Classy
Get the Avocado Caprese Skillet Chicken recipe from Cooking Classy
22 Beet, Avocado and Fried Goat Cheese Salad

Foodie Crush
Get the Beet, Avocado and Fried Goat Cheese Salad recipe from Foodie Crush
23 Sweet Corn Cake Eggs Benedict With Avocado Hollandaise

How Sweet It Is
Get the Sweet Corn Cake Eggs Benedict with Avocado Hollandaise recipefrom How Sweet It Is
24 Avocado Pound Cake

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25 Cheesy Avocado Crab Stuffed Piquillo Pepper Ciabatta Pizzette’s

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26 Avocado Caprese

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27 Avocado Egg Rolls

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28 Grilled Corn, Tomato And Avocado Salad

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29 Chocolate Avocado Mousse

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Get the Chocolate Avocado Mousse recipe from Adventures in Cooking
30 Avocado Chickpea Salad

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31 Avocado, Egg And English Muffin Sandwich

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32 Roasted Summer Vegetable Mac And Cheese

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33 Southwestern Avocado Dressing

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34 Avocado Chocolate Mousse With Summer Fruit

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35 10-Minute Garden Herb Avocado Dip

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Are There Bugs In Your Belly?

You’ve probably heard horror stories of 3 foot tapeworms that cause serious problems for some people, but did you know that most parasites are very tiny and some can only be seen by microscope?

Did you know that there is actually a very good chance that you could have a yeast or parasite infestation?

The human body is literally crawling with hundreds of strains of yeasts and bacteria. The digestive track alone holds more than three pounds of bacteria. In the right balance, these bacteria are necessary for proper digestion and nutrient absorption. Probiotics, the beneficial bacteria in the gut, are a form of bacteria, though they have a tremendous positive impact on our health.

When these beneficial bacteria in the digestive track get out of balance, problems begin. A large number of factors can facilitate the disruption of this balance of bacteria, including diet, certain medications, stress, contact with infected sources, and others.

The body is also host to yeast, which is naturally occurring and not specifically dangerous in proper amounts. Yeast overgrowth, on the other hand, which is rampant in today’s world, can have a tremendous negative impact on overall health and fertility. Many people are (unfortunately) familiar with vaginal yeast infections, but these infections are often symptomatic of a much larger body-wide infection.

The most disturbing invaders to our bodies, in my opinion, are parasites, though sadly, most people carry these guys around too. Studies have found that most people, especially those with chronic diseases and cancer, are host to at least one kind or parasite.

Parasites can range from tiny organisms, visible only by microscope to long tapeworms (several feet long). They can enter the body through food, drink, contact with animals or infected person, or even just skin contact, and parasite infections can last for years.

How Do We Get Yeast and Parasites?

Yeast and parasites can enter the body a variety of ways, depending on the type. Candida Albicanis, the most common and difficult to remove type of yeast, occurs naturally in the body in small amounts.

When a person eats lots of glucose and fructose (remember the body turns all sugars, starches, grains, and even fruit into glucose for digestion), it feeds the normally occurring yeasts and parasites and allows them to multiply abundantly. Some pharmaceuticals, and especially hormonal birth control and antibiotics, can deplete the digestive track of the beneficial bacteria needed to keep yeast and parasites in check, and lead to an overgrowth or infestation.

Yeast especially, can multiply rapidly in the presence of any high carbon substances like sugar. Yeasts are also able to convert sugar into alcohol in the body, just as it does in the beer and wine fermentation process. This is one reason that people with severe yeast overgrowth experience symptoms like brain fog, lightheadedness, and nausea.

Treating yeasts, parasites, and other fungi in the body is a three step process. First, the invaders themselves must be killed, then they (and the toxins they created) must be flushed from the body, and finally, the body must be supported in healing and regenerating itself.

How to Tell If You Have Yeast or Parasites

There are many symptoms directly or indirectly associated with yeast and parasite overgrowth. If you have several of these symptoms, there is a really good chance that you have an infestation or overgrowth.

Symptoms of Yeast and Parasite Overgrowth:

Lowered immune system and constant illness
Rectal itching, especially at night
More than one vaginal yeast infection
Sores on the mouth or lips or white spots inside mouth
Constant tiredness
Difficulty sleeping and waking up
Toe fungus or athletes foot
Bloating and gas
Allergies
Sensitivity to food or chemicals
Sensitivity to the smell of strong perfumes or cigarette smoke
Rashes or itching around genitals in men or women
Recurrent bladder infections
Food cravings, especially for sweet or starchy foods
Intestinal cramps
Endometriosis
Psoriasis or eczema
History of antibiotic use
History of steroid use including inhalant or asthma medication
History of contraceptive use
Brain fog or mental fuzziness
Menstrual irregularities including irregular periods, heavy bleeding, cramps, PMS, or anovulation
Anxiety or depression
Floaters or spots in the eyes
Muscle or joint aches
Constipation or diarrhea
Previous or current cigarette smoking
Use of fluoride or consumption of fluoridated water
History of high sugar/carbohydrate consumption
If left untreated, Candida, yeast, and parasite overgrowth have been linked to a plethora of chronic conditions. Yeast and Parasites are often found in people with the following conditions:

Infertility or permanent fertility damage
Cancer
Multiple Sclerosis
Arthritis
Osteoporosis
Malnutrition
Vitamin Deficiencies
Chronic Fatigue
Leaky Gut Syndrome
Kidney Stones
Chron’s Disease
Skin conditions including eczema and psoriasis
Insomnia and sleep disturbances
Digestive problems of all kinds
Natural Remedies for Yeast and Parasite Infestation

The good news is that there are some natural treatments that are effective at helping the body kill and remove yeast and parasites. If you suspect that you have an overgrowth, you might consider some of the treatments below:

Dietary Adjustments– If you do have yeast or parasites, any sugars at all can feed an infestation and make removal very uncomfortable. If you are embarking on a natural treatment for Candida, fungi or parasites, remove all sources of natural sugar from you diet, including sources like honey and fruits. Some Stevia is ok once in a while, but avoid anything that gives the body a sugar source and feeds yeast or parasites. Consider also avoiding dairy for 1-2 weeks to give you body a boost.

Sweat– As your body kills off parasites and yeast, their by-products must be removed from the body, along with the toxins that they might have bound to. Some of these are best removed through the sweat glands, so let your body sweat by exercising, taking cayenne supplements and getting in hot tubs or saunas during the healing process.

Diatomaceous Earth– This is a naturally occurring substance that has amazing ability to kill parasites, yeast and parasite eggs. It is naturally high in silica, which is necessary for hair, nail and skin growth, and has other trace minerals as well. It can also help restore body tissue and improve digestion. If you decide to take this supplementally, start with 1 tsp per day in 8 ounces of water and work up to 1-2 TBSP a day until yeast symptoms disappear. Read info below on Herxheimers reaction! Also, make sure to use food grade Diatomaceous earth! More info here.

Apple Cider Vinegar- Another easy and effective remedy for Candida and parasites. Apple Cider Vinegar is high in B-vitamins and very nourishing to the body. It help the body’s pH neutralize and improves digestion. It is well known for killing yeast and improving skin condition. Some people are leery of vinegar, as a fermented product, when they have a yeast infection. While some fermented products like beer and wine can feed yeast, Apple Cider Vinegar undergoes a much different fermentation process and produces a completely different reaction in the body. It tastes awful, but after taking it for a while, you will become more tolerant of the taste, and your body will start to crave it. Start with 1 tsp up to 3 times a day about 30 minutes before each meal (some people can’t handle it before breakfast!). If you handle this well, this dosage can be increased to a tablespoon.

Probiotics– Probiotics restore the helpful gut bacteria that is wiped out by yeast or parasites (or antibiotic or oral contraceptive use). Probiotics are necessary to restore proper intestinal flora, even after yeast and parasites have been removed. A high quality probiotic supplement should be included, taken according to product instruction. Do not take probiotics within an hour of Apple Cider Vinegar or Diatomaceous Earth! You might also consider drinks like Kombucha and Water Kefir to help build up probiotic levels, or whole plain full-fat yogurt.

Cinnamon– Cinnamon is a natural remedy for parasites and fungus. Take ½ tsp of a high quality cinnamon powder in water up to three times a day.

Vitamin C– Besides being an excellent antioxidant and immune support, Vitamin C is helpful in yeast/parasite removal. If you have symptoms of yeast and parasites, take 5,000 mg (5 grams) per day spread out in 2-3 doses. Do not take vitamin C at the same time as calcium/magnesium as they will neutralize each other. High consumption of Vitamin C may cause loose bowel movements, especially when yeast and parasites are being removed. This is not necessarily worrisome, but if it bothers you, adjust the dose down until symptoms go away.

Coconut Oil– Coconut Oil is naturally anti fungal and very nourishing to the body. Hopefully, you are using it in your cooking by now, but consider taking several tablespoons a day additional as an antifungal support. This will also help support the hormones and reproductive system. To make it easier to take, dissolve a couple tablespoons in a hot tea of choice and drink. The first couple sips will be coconut oil, and then you will just taste the tea.

Garlic– To help remove yeast and parasites, finely mince 1-2 cloves and drink in a cup of water before meals.

Olive Oil– Also an antifungal that supports removal of parasite and yeast waste. Add 1-2 TBSP or more to salads or veggies, or take supplementally.

Other Herbs known to help with yeast and parasites: Oregano Oil, Thyme, Peppermint, Rosemary, Olive Leaf Extract and Grapefruit Seed Extract. If you have a severe case of yeast or parasites, consider using on of these potent herbs, but do your research first!

Herxheimer’s Reaction

I mentioned above that removal of yeast and parasites can be uncomfortable at times. This reaction, named after the German dermatologist who discovered it, is basically the discomfort caused by the die off of yeast and parasites and the body’s attempt to remove them. The faster you attempt to treat symptoms and the more potent remedies you take, the higher your chance of experiencing this reaction.

It is best to be on an anti yeast/parasite diet for several weeks before starting supplements to help minimize this reaction. Starting with small doses of Apple Cider Vinegar and Diatomaceous Earth and then working up will also help keep die off symptoms at bay.

You may even find that you “catch a cold” a week or so after starting to treat your yeast and parasite symptoms. This is actually a mild Herxheimer reaction, and backing down supplements and drinking more water should help it pass quickly.

Other Important Notes

Removing yeast and parasites is a difficult job for your body. During this process, it is highly important that you support your body as much as possible with regular exercise, good diet, adequate sleep, and limiting exposure to toxins.

Soaking in an Epsom salt bath (1/2 cup Epsom salts in hot bath water) will also help remove toxins through the skin. Drinking enough water will help flush die off toxins out faster, and adequate sleep will give the body enough time to regenerate.

During this time, it is also vitally important that you do not consume sugar or carbs, as this will make the process much slower and much more uncomfortable. Consuming enough raw vegetables during this time will also help keep your energy levels up and clean the body faster. If you can stomach it, this is a veggie smoothie I drink daily.

A grain-free and sugar-free diet is vital in removing yeast and parasites from the body. If you suspect that you have yeast or parasites, please consider joining my Wellness Challenge to get support, recipes and tips for living grain and sugar free.

Note: I am not a doctor and I don’t play one on TV. If you suspect that you have a serious problem with parasites or other health related issues, consult your doctor or specialist. Some of the supplements above should not be taken during pregnancy, and a detox regimen should not be started during pregnancy.
Have you had belly bugs before? Think you might have them now? Let me know below!

In Monterey, The Action’s On The Water — If You Can Get There

For days, the Humpback whales had been taunting us from the bay as if they knew what we wanted.

Every now and then they’d breach the surface or send a spout of water high into the mist, as if to say, “Catch us — if you can.” The rare sea otters teased us, too, playfully popping their heads above the surface near the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

“Here we are!” they’d chirp — if they could talk.

They all seemed to know that in Monterey, a quiet town on Northern California’s coastline, the action is on the water. You need to get down into the waves. And that’s where we wanted to be, too.

Except that we couldn’t. High winds had been kicking up whitecaps since the day we checked into the Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa, making a sea kayaking excursion impossible for this family of four. A more adventurous and experienced outdoorsman might brave the swells and currents, but this wasn’t for me and definitely not for my three kids, ages 10, 12 and 15. It was as if the undersea creatures were aware of our dilemma.

Fortunately, there’s plenty to do while you wait. The Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail, a rails-to-trail project that runs 18 miles from Castroville to Pacific Grove, begged to be explored. The path winds through Cannery Row, past the Aquarium and Point Cabrillo, to a stretch of rocky coastline overlooking Lovers Point State Marine Reserve. Yet every time the kids looked at the ocean, they saw the marine life and they wanted to be there.

“We’ll get there,” I assured them.

But I had no idea if we would. Weather is hard to predict, and even if we could get on the water, I wasn’t sure if we should. As a former scuba diving instructor, I know how dangerous and unpredictable the ocean is.

After several days of wandering up and down the trail and spending the rest of our time wistfully watching the waves from our room at the Monterey Plaza, we finally caught a break. The weather cleared, the winds calmed, and we walked over to Adventures By The Sea just across the street and rented kayaks.

Here’s the thing about a three-on-one — three kids, one adult — in the ocean. Each child wants to go in a different direction. My 15-year-old son, Aren, paddled his way to the aquarium to see the otters as if he were racing (he came in first by about ten minutes). My 12-year-old had other ideas and headed directly into the bay, despite repeated requests to follow me. We eventually found him, exhausted, on the way back in. Even their younger sister, who is only 10, had her own ideas, which involved splashing me in the back of our tandem kayak with her oar.

And yet, we made it, and our efforts to get into the water — however chaotic — were rewarded when a bevy of otters swam over to greet us as we returned to shore.

“They’re so cute!” exclaimed my daughter, who is the arbiter of cuteness in our family. Yes, they are.

But the short trip into the bay only whetted our appetite for sea life. Melissa, our project manager, had a lead on a guided kayaking trip in the Elkhorn Slough, so that’s where she ordered us to go. And I’m glad she did. Our guide from Monterey Bay Kayaks not only managed to persuade all three kids to paddle in the same direction, but kept their attention fixed on the water.

Elkhorn Slough is a playground for southern sea otters, with their cat-like faces and bubbly personalities. At last count, there were 125 of them in the estuary, along with hundreds of harbor seals and noisy California sea lions. Speaking of loud, the real noise comes from above, with a total of 340 species of bird in this small ecosystem.

The slough presented its own challenges: a current flowing in our outbound direction, which made everyone believe paddling in the inlet would be easy. Then we turned around and found out otherwise.

But the workout was worth it. The kids gained a deeper appreciation of the fragile marine life, something they might not have clearly grasped with just a visit to a museum or aquarium. That isn’t a knock on Monterey’s aquarium — it’s a first-rate attraction. But it’s no substitute for being in the ocean.

As for the whales, they had their way in the end. We didn’t see any the way we wanted to, but we’ll be coming back again. And this time we’re bringing the big camera. If we can’t get close, then we’ll at least get a close up.