Poor Gut Health and How I’m Healing It

Crap… I mean, I am having a hard time doing that too on a consistent basis. And I had to use that for my stool sample to submit my gut health test.

Maybe it’s just in my head. Or I don’t really have an issue. There is one thing showing evidence of an issue: my skin.

Did you know your skin health is often directly correlated to your gut health? Yeah, I did not either until about 6 months ago. I typically eat a “clean” diet, sort of speak. Mostly whole foods, some protein shakes and protein bars, the occasional pasta or bread, typically whole wheat based, as well as coffee, preworkout supplements and some homemade desserts, not low in sugar. I noticed my skin started to get acne, as well as uneven pigmentation. You may have seen a few blog posts back when I talked about my greens that I drink each day as I am working to balance my gut. Well, that is not the only thing I’m doing and there are a few reasons for that.

  1. Gut healing takes more than just probiotics.
  2. Gut health is connected to the brain. If you are stressed, depressed, anxious, all of the above or more, that can affect your gut and bile production. You may hear the gut referred to as the “second brain”.
  3. It can take a minimum of 6 months before your gut will reach its homeostasis, balanced environment it was supposed to be in.

So, I decided to take matters into my hands and get a BIOHM Gut Report Kit. (Code CAROLINE gets you 10% off at checkout by the way). The process was simple, clearly written on the packaging to collect my stool sample and home and mail it in. In six weeks, I received my comprehensive results by email. Turns out, my gut health is rated a 2/10, meaning very poor.

Most of it was a lack of good bacteria in the gut. This can be caused from a few factors include any over the counter medications or antibiotics (which thankfully I don’t take any), lack of diversity in my diet and stress internally and externally on the body. All that I can do is listen to their recommendations and do my best to abide by a healthy lifestyle with my food, stress mitigation and happiness! Here are the methods I have been actively practicing with 100% follow through.

Constant daily practices

  • Drinking at least 1 gallon of water per day
  • Cut all caffeine (coffee, tea and preworkout supplements) for 3 weeks
  • Creating system for sleep and wake up routines, including reading, meditation and stretching
  • Increase fiber intake
  • Increase vegetable intake to about 6 cups per day
  • Eating clean protein sources, minimizing whey protein to 1-2 servings per day
Daily gut healing practices by Strong Sweet Caroline

New practices for the gut

  • Taking BIOHM prebiotic and probiotic daily
  • Drinking BIOHM greens daily
  • Apple cider vinegar with water before heavier carb meals for digestive help
  • HCL capsules 2x per day
  • Digestive enzymes with 2 largest meals of the day
  • Full day cleanse 2x per month
  • Supplementing DGL and Marshmallow Root
  • Making homemade bone broth and drinking 1x per day
Gut healing supplements by Strong Sweet Caroline

These are the current methods that I’m going to try the next 2-4 weeks. This is just the midpoint in my gut health journey! I am also getting ready for a bodybuilding competition prep to start and want to ensure my gut is as healthy as possible before I start limiting foods and increasing stress load on my body.

What’s something that has worked for you or you’ve been interested to try? I’m going to share this journey through here and some upcoming YouTube videos in my prep series. Go follow to make sure you don’t miss out!

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New Healthy Dessert Ebook!

Guess WHAT?!?! It’s been a few months coming and it is finally DONE.

 

I have published my first healthy dessert ebook! Over the past four years, I have been trying and practicing various baked good recipes. Some I figured out on my own with just one or two tries. Others it was… a process to say the least! Many did not make the cut. But, that just leaves room for continued improvement later on.

Strong Sweet Caroline 50 Healthy Dessert Recipes Ebook

I want you to check out these first 50 recipes I have shared. There is quite a variety from

…chocolate chia cookies

…brownie cookie dough cake

…whole wheat pie crust

…donuts

…protein puppy chow

…lemon bars

and so much more! Some are vegan, vegetarian, paleo, gluten free, nut free, dairy free, lower sugar and higher protein!

Valued at $29.99, the ebook will launch for a special discounted price of $14!

Click this button to order today. Let’s bake healthy together!
 

6 young adult realizations you need to know

Wow, where does time go? I’m 26 now? Nope, not old. Only getting more youthful. The only aging I want is wisdom and experience. I’ve gone from the past few years after college graduation and thinking I know EXACTLY what I need to do, when I need to do it and why I need to do it. Last year, I made some big changes. I chose to leave the agriculture industry, move from Ohio to Atlanta, and pursue something complete new.

This year alone, I have learned a ton. Life, love, business. Friendships have come and gone; so has my sanity at times. Sleep lost, gains made. Anxiety took hold and then I found peace of mind.

6 Young Adult Realizations You Need to Know

My birthday wish was simple: spend time simple time with my boyfriend and that he cook us dinner. I had a lifestyle photoshoot, ate some delicious burritos (pictured above), went grocery shopping, did some reading and writing, made a protein carrot cake dessert and enjoyed a patio dining experience with Greek lamb, rice and veggies.

It tasted just as good as it looked! I was feeling a little tired and decided instead of trying out a brand new carrot cake recipe, I’d use resources at hand. Thankfully I bought Bake to Be Fit Healthy Brownie Cookbook a while back and tried her recipe. Placed in the fridge and it tasted divine!

6 Young Adult Realizations You Need to Know by Strong Sweet Caroline

After a filling dinner and some wine, I completed my reflection. It’s been hard to fall asleep lately. Many thoughts run through my head as I wind down. This year, I had some large takeaways. These six realizations are important, no matter your age. But as a young adult, I think they are vital to understand and incorporate into your life.

 

Strong Sweet Caroline’s 6 young adult realizations you need to know

6 Young Adult Realizations You Need to Know by Strong Sweet Caroline
  • You can only control your response. The first reaction is what matters most for you and others involved. Control how you react. Keep emotions in check and then ACT. Too many times this year, I hesitated. I let the cause affect my outcome. It affected me severely with anxiety, depression and hopeless thoughts. Business was lost from it. Friendships were hurt. No more of that. Keep in mind, it is not all about you when you respond. It can affect so many others, whether you realize it at the time or not. This method of self control will help you personally and professionally. It comes with heightened maturity. And it will bring more peace of mind. Make a choice and stick to it.

    6 Young Adult Realizations You Need to Know by Strong Sweet Caroline

  • Be a woman and man up. David has taught me more than anyone to not be timid in my thoughts and actions. “MAN UP” as some might say. If you think about the business world, it is dog eat dog. And the more hungry the dog, the faster they are to fill their food bowl. At the end of the day, I am the only one responsible for my results. And if I do not stand up for myself, why would anyone else, even if they do love me? Whether man or woman, it is up to you to do your due diligence for yourself. Have courage and believe that every step and action you take is leading to your results.6 Young Adult Realizations You Need to Know by Strong Sweet Caroline
  • Even when you feel like you are working, work harder. The grind as an entrepreneur is severely underrated. I definitely have not worked as hard as I could be. Part of that is because my focus has not been there. I was not accountable to myself and my dreams. It’s not about the number of hours, but the amount of concentrated WORK put into whatever I’m trying to accomplish. It will not be easy. And life balance is hard to come by. But it can be created. Stay organized and diligent. Sometimes, you end up taking a step backward to take two forward. As long as those steps you are putting your greatest efforts in place, it will yield results.

    6 Young Adult Realizations You Need to Know by Strong Sweet Caroline

  • Priorities will shift. For me this past year, it went like this: first it was personal freedom – second was financial stability – third was business/career success – and most recently it’s been relationships. I’ve realized that in life, you have career, relationships and self care. At one time, you can pretty much only master two of those. This year, I had a big shift between career and relationships. I quit a career for a relationship. I then started up a career again to focus on the relationship. The cycle continues as I look to better balance. My health has stayed steady most of the year. The priorities change with seasons of life. Don’t get too caught up in one over another or they all could suffer.

6 Young Adult Realizations You Need to Know by Strong Sweet Caroline

  • Never stop learning. This has always been important for me and was reiterated this year. Not having a mentor after leaving Syngenta has been tough. I’m working through it each day. Podcasts, reading books, scanning online articles and exerting myself daily. I’m also trying to build new friendships. It’s a never-ending system. I realized I am not involved in the community yet. And I won’t be exposed to the amazing people in Atlanta until I step foot into it! I can learn on my own, but I love learning with and through others. As long as you never stop learning, you can stay young in heart and mind.6 Young Adult Realizations You Need to Know by Strong Sweet Caroline
  • Be grateful for everything. Every hard point, every positive experience, be humble and grateful. God has given me so much to love and be blessed. I should never take it for granted. Sure, it can always be better. But I will continue to be grateful for the simple, little things too.6 Young Adult Realizations You Need to Know by Strong Sweet Caroline
At the end of the day, if we can lay down our heads and know we are doing our best, that’s all that matters. And learn from the rest. Take these six and implement them. May they help you be strong and live a sweet life!

How to choose and live your theme

It’s a new year and I have been extremely busy. My priorities are focused on my goals. I’ve laid out daily action plans and tactics. And I get done what I can.

Last year, you might remember I chose my word/theme for the year as moxie. And I certainly lived it out! The decision was not taken lightly but just came to me.

This year, I took time to analyze myself as a person, what I’ve learned, what I strive to accomplish this year and how I can do that.

You may or may not have done this yourself. Here is the process for how I choose my theme for the year and live it out DAILY.

word of the year (1)

Step 1: Review last year

I take at least one full hour before year end to evaluate my year. Whether you have a paper or electronic calendar, go through each month and see what happened. It’s funny, sometimes we forget about the little things that happened unless we write them down! For example, I forgot I completed two new books the month of March and that was while traveling to Texas for a fitness camp!

While reviewing, take in some key mental (or written) notes of happy, exciting experiences, experiences that were difficult or sad, things you learned, things you maybe did not grow as much as you wanted and any additional indicators of success or weaknesses.

Last year, I had a lot of change because I followed through and lived my word of the year, moxie. I described it as having vigor, courage and determination. And that seems to be what I did. In difficult times and amazing, wonderful successes, I had moxie. I sat down in Miami Beach, FL and reviewed the year and what things happened as planned, what did and looked at the why behind everything.

Step 2: Identify your vision for the new year

After you have reviewed the previous year, you can step forward into the new one. Identify a vision for the year. What are your big goals? What do you want to learn? Where do you want to travel? How can all of these pieces fit together?

Sometimes, I get too many thoughts into my vision. Therefore, I break it down into distinct categories:

  • Spiritual
  • Physical
  • Emotional/Intellectual
  • Financial
  • Social/Family
  • Career

If I pick three to six vision points underneath each category, I can stay better focused throughout the year and not feel overwhelmed. Some are large goals and some are small. Nonetheless, I write down options and select only a handful for the one year. Save the others in your notebook for later down the road or to review and possibly add in next year.

Step 3:  Select your theme

When you know where you were last year and identify where you want to go for the new year, options for your theme will become more clear. Think about who you are.

What are some common characteristics of you? What words would your best friends use to describe you?

Now, take it one step further.

If you can live out who you are through thoughts and actions, how would you do it? What words might describe that? Maybe you are not quite to the level you want to be yet. That’s OK. This is the process to help you see yourself in the future.

Close your eyes and see yourself achieving this year’s goals. You see yourself successful, happy and amazing.

Open your eyes. Choose the word that if you wrote it down or saw it daily, it would take you back to that vision and motivate you to act towards your new goals.

This led me to choose my theme of vitality. To me (and the dictionary), this means

  • physical strength
  • mental vigor
  • continuation of meaningful, purposeful existence

This was a great over-arching theme for the goals I had in mind with my current meal prep company and new business ventures I’m planning for the new year. So now what?

Step 4: Live it

It’s easy to write down a word or theme. The real challenge is execution. What will you do daily to live it?

vitality

I have a daily mantra I read aloud to remind me of specific things I want to do or do not want to do that align with my theme. Then, I take time weekly and daily to review things each day, make top three items to complete in one day.

Only choose three!

We always have to-do lists. But what three items will progress you towards your bigger theme and yearly goals?

Set time in your day to work on those. Fill in the rest with errands, other action items, family time and more. This balance and accomplishing three main things will take stress off your back and help you stay focused on what you can truly do within 24 hours.

What is the theme you choose and how will you live it? Would love to hear how you are doing it in the comments or send me an email (strongsweetcaroline@gmail.com). Look forward to helping more people with my businesses this year.

 

Super Food Pumpkin Granola & Thanksgiving

This is the season for gratitude. Alright, every day and moment should have some gratitude! With Thanksgiving this week, it’s more important than ever to be grateful for the people, things and opportunities we have in life.

I think it’s easy for people to get caught in the whirlwind of our day to day. It’s the grind right? Different days of the week, as well as highs and lows each day, get us axel-wrapped. But all it comes down to is one life. One.

I think Thanksgiving is being heavily overlooked this year. Christmas decorations put up almost immediately after Halloween, Black Friday deals being blasted for weeks and numerous other distractions keeping us preoccupied with what matters most.

If you are like me, you might need a break from it all. Take a deep breath. Go for a walk in a nature park. Do some yoga. Drink a cup of hot tea. Read a new book. Just sit in quiet with your loved one(s) taking in the environment.

Then, come back and remember that love and appreciate you experienced in the little moments. Live each day finding things your are grateful for–make a list of three things at the end of each day or just think about them in your head.

It makes you feel better, right? As you may have read in my last post, the kitchen is one of my muses and I recently felt unattached. My boyfriend David helped me find reconnection and reminded me why he is one of the people I am most grateful for in life. He cherishes me more than anyone and helps me find my inner self and overcome any challenge, even when he travels and is states away.

My latest recipe got me excited to cook and work towards what I’m grateful to work towards — inspiring others to make health simple. David liked it too, even though he isn’t a big pumpkin fan. 🙂

Strong Sweet Caroline | super food pumpkin granola and gratitude

Here is a recipe perfect for Thanksgiving: pumpkin granola! Make ahead of time and put in separate bags for gift giving, sprinkle on top of some yogurt for a dessert or use at home as a breakfast like I did topping my egg whites.

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What are you most grateful for this week? Thanks for reading and look forward to more gratitude and positivity in the blog and each day in your own life.


Super Food Pumpkin Granola

Makes 10 1/2 cup servings

Macros: 158 calories, 4.7g proteins, 22g carbs, 5.8g fats

Ingredients

  • 2 cups rolled or quick oats
  • 1/4 c uncooked quinoa, rinsed well and patted dry with paper towel
  • 2 Tbsp agave
  • 2 Tbsp brown rice syrup
  • 1/3 c pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c chia seeds
  • 1/4 c raw pepitas
  • 1/4 c chopped nuts
  • 1/2 c dried berries

Process

  • Preheat oven 325 degrees.
  • Spread oats and quinoa on a parchment lined baking sheet. Toast for 10 minutes in oven.
  • While oats toast, in a small bowl combine agave, brown rice syrup, coconut oil, pumpkin puree, spices, salt and vanilla.
  • Pour the toasted oats into a medium bowl and add chia seeds, pepitas, nuts and fruit.
  • Pour the sweet pumpkin mixture and stir in until oats and seeds evenly coated.
  • Spread on baking sheet again and bake additional 20-30 minutes until golden.
  • Granola will crisp as it cools.

Building big dreams & cooking low calorie zucchini fritters

Do you ever have those times you need to stop, take a deep breath and reset? I do. Recently, I’ve been busting my butt to organize my thoughts, business plan, work two part-time jobs and just like many of you, trying to find a way to “balance” it all with a healthy relationship, friendships and family.

I have some information to share. I’m no longer striving for balance. I am building big dreams. I heard an interview with Kevin Roberts of Saatchi & Saatchi and a quote he shared I am taking hold for my own life.

work-life integration

 

As I build my dream, each day blends into one another. Therefore, I must be intentional with my time, gratitude and daily reflections. If not, I will succumb to my old self who was constantly chasing a balance instead of integrating the things I love into one life.

Well, folks, it’s happening. And I’m so blessed to share my story! My good friend Amanda Jae Spoo recently featured me in her blog. Visit it here and watch the YouTube video I compile to change up her format and push her outside her comfort zone a bit. 🙂

Additionally, this week has been killer with many things accomplished, new recipes attempted and most were successful! This one I shared on Instagram story and had many requests for the recipe. So here we go. Allow me to introduce: Zucchini Asparagus Fritters!

Strong Sweet Caroline zucchini asparagus fritter recipe

Per usual, I found a few different recipes via Pinterest, and modified to my liking. I knew I had to use a touch of oil for them to get slightly crispy on the edges. Well, when you are using eggs and egg whites as your base, it will be more difficult to keep that crisp. Fresh off the pan, they are fabulous! Full of flavor, not too overpowered by garlic or onion and just enough spice to keep it interesting. Can keep for a few days stored in the refrigerator. I recommend reheated after storing in the refrigerator or they might seem a bit soggy.

Strong Sweet Caroline Zucchini fritters

I chose to pair two fritters with a bed of romaine lettuce, homemade beef meatballs, one whole egg and sunflower seeds. This was my last meal of the day, which I typically have the mostly proteins and fats. It keeps me fuller longer so I do not get hungry in the middle of the night. No need for carbohydrates because let’s face it, it would be useless for sleeping.

Strong Sweet Caroline fritters with meal

I’ve been experimenting more with seeds and different nuts. I grew up eating sunflower seeds and got away from it until recently. Can be unsalted, salted, flavored and used in a variety of ways. They have SO MANY health benefits! The biggest one for me right now is increasing my Vitamin E daily intake. I’m working to strengthen my hair and skin and reel in some of those not so fun PMS symptoms.


Strong Sweet Caroline Zucchini Asparagus Fritters

Servings: 6 total fritters, 2 per serving

Macros per serving: 100 calories | 6g protein | 5g carbs | 6.5g fats

Ingredients

  • 1 cup finely chopped or grated zucchini squash
  • 6 cooked asparagus spears, cut
  • 1 Tbsp whole wheat flour (or flour of choice)
  • 3 Tbsp egg whites (equal to one whole egg white)
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1-2 Tbsp Hot sauce
  • 1/2 tsp each or other desired spices: paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, sea salt

Procedure

  • In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine zucchini, asparagus, egg, egg whites, hot sauce and spices.
  • In a frying pan, heat 1 Tbsp coconut oil.
  • Add the flour to the mixture. You may desire more flour for a firmer fritter. I did not just for trying it out with less ingredients.
  • Use a ladle or spoon to pour mixture into circles onto hot oil.
  • Cook for about 3 minutes on first side or until you can start to see the egg cooked through.
  • Flip and cook other side for approximately 3-5 minutes and remove.
  • Enjoy on their own or with a meal!