Respect Your Elders

Stay healthy. Take care. Be well.⁣

These common refrains are easier said than done right now, and naturally, everyone’s looking for that magic bullet to protect themselves against illness. As with life, it’s about how the little things add up, rather than one big thing that will make all the difference. Elderberries offer an easy first step towards a stronger immune system, critical even when not facing a global pandemic. Studies have shown promising results in protection against bacterial and viral infections, reducing the symptoms and duration of a cold, easing symptoms of allergies, and that’s to say nothing of their impressive antioxidant and vitamin A load.⁣

Both the flowers and berries have a long tradition of culinary and folk medicinal uses going back thousands of years. In fact, Hippocrates (often called the father of medicine) referred to the elderberry as a “medicine chest,” thanks to the seemingly endless benefits and applications. The stem, bark, leaves, flowers, berries, and root extracts of the plant have all been instrumental in historical recipes, dating all the way back to Ancient Egypt.



There’s is a catch, of course. Raw, fresh, or dried, elderberries are not exactly a treat to eat. They’re rather tart at best, bitter and astringent at worst; not something you’d want to snack on out of hand, like blueberries. Of course, they have more than twice the natural antioxidant capacity of their blue brethren, but need a bit of help in the flavor department. Sambucol Black Elderberry Gummies take care of that shortcoming by concentrating that nutritional potency into soft, bite-sized chews, sweetened only with pure cane sugar. Pectin, rather than gelatin, gives them their plant-based bounce, to the delight of children and adults alike. Make no mistake, these aren’t candy, but potent supplements wrapped up in a highly appealing package.

Enticing right out of the bottle, gleaming like faceted purple gems, it’s not a struggle to get your daily dose. However, they also offer ample opportunities for some healthy experimentation.

Thumbprint cookies, typically crowned with a dollop of humble fruit preserves get a superfood upgrade thanks to Sambucol. Softening into a jammy nugget within the gentle slope of a hearty oat and almond butter base, you might forget that such tasty treats are actually powerful immunity boosters.

Comfort food and health food don’t need to be mutually exclusive when armed with naturally delicious nourishment. Consider these simple morsels your secret weapon against the midday slump, and well beyond.

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One in a Trillion

There’s no stopping culinary creativity, even during a pandemic. Innovative eateries are still opening up everyday, ranging from low-cost to high-brow, but the latest wave all have something in common: They share the same dining room. Your own home dinner table is now ready to host! Meal delivery services are the new restaurant experience, filling the gap for those who love food but may not be as wild about all the labor- or dishes- involved. Another uniting, but less palatable factor, is that none of these options take specific health needs into consideration.

WeTheTrillions takes an entirely different approach. So named for the trillions of cells, bacteria, and other living beings that make up our microbiomes, the goal isn’t just to feed, but to nourish and flourish.

Using plant-based foods as tools to address specific conditions and wellness goals, these bespoke meals offer powerful nutrition in genuinely delicious packages. A quick quiz helps determine which menu is best suited for your situation, but it’s not all anonymous algorithms guiding the way. A real, live person (!) reviews the results, following up with additional questions about your health history. The goal is to design a menu that you’re guaranteed to love, with real, tangible benefits. Some of the programs deal with tackling diabetes, menopause, IBS, PCOS, Endometriosis, fertility, anemia, and more, customized to your tastes.

Okay, but what about the fun stuff: The FOOD? If you’ve been around the Bay Area long enough, you may recognize some of the edible offerings from the now defunct leCupboard. Living up to that memory, if not exceeding it, these dishes are simply delicious, crafted for flavors without compromise. In fact, downtown workers have been eating it up before thinking about the nutritional implications. There’s a literal hole in the wall, down a small alley in the Financial District, where you can purchase grab-and-go meals a la carte.

Landing right at your doorstep on demand, delivery is clearly the way to go for the majority of those hungry for a change. Packages arrive absent of fanfare in plain cardboard boxes, focused on the inner contents rather than exterior appearances. Personalized touches distinguish every aspect of the service, setting it a world apart from other companies claiming to put their clients first. Handwritten tags label every glass jar, packed by people, rather than shrink-wrapping machines.

If you’re so fortunate as to pay a visit, appropriately socially distanced in person or virtually, at home, may I recommend The Madrid? Designed with the mushroom-lover in mind, slow roasted shiitake and cremini tumble together in a tangle of zucchini noodles, coated in impeccably fresh, slightly spicy walnut pesto. This was a favorite back in the day, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be reunited at last.

Exploring deeper into unknown territory, while The Tangiers Stew isn’t one I was familiar with from previous visits to the brick-and-mortar establishment, it would have easily made my hit list for repeat orders. In fact, it was so good, I willfully flaunted reheating instructions to eat it chilled, straight out of the container! Mercifully, for hot days ahead and blisteringly busy schedules, everything included is fully cooked and ready to eat. Sauced and spiced zucchini dazzles with the ginger-lemon sauce saturating every cell, perched atop a bed of toothsome black forbidden rice. Slivered, toasted almonds remain as crisp as can be, lending a resounding crunch to the harmonious ensemble.

Translucent kelp noodles from The Ha Long Bay glisten in the sunshine, glowing with the golden hue of simmered carrots and parsley pistou. Wok this way (or just sautée) for a Vietnamese-inspired twist on New American Cuisine, drawing inspiration from the tenets of the raw food movement. Kelp noodles, made without flour or starch, are a rare find on any menu. Their unique texture is an ideal blank canvas for such an innovative palate of spices and herbs. Tender mushrooms and zucchini are woven between strands, playing umami chords for a completely symphonic eating experience.

Struggling to get down enough greens is a constant challenge even in the best of times, let alone given difficulty accessing enough fresh produce en masse. Gulp down a few sips of Cancun Juice to win this battle with ease. Swampy green from spirulina, thick as a blended smoothie, the taste is pure pineapple refreshment despite the intimidating appearance.

Appeasing the sweet tooth, breakfasts and desserts seemed interchangeable to me, as it should be when only natural, nutrient-dense sweeteners are involved. The Barcelona, a berry and hemp parfait, stacks up layers of creamy custard and fresh strawberries, that actually retain their textural integrity. It’s a small but noteworthy element; you’ll never find that in a frozen meal solution. Meanwhile, The Nancy is aptly named only because I continuously transpose the letters to call it The Fancy. A coconut base bursting with roasted blueberries, pistachios, and flax seed crumble would be right at home in any high-end hipster enclave. A bit simpler but no less impressive is The Manchester, flawlessly smooth and creamy, a strawberry pot-de-creme made possible only with flawless fruit as the foundation. While the The Bordeaux Chocolate Mousse was most clearly intended for an after dinner treat, but the fact that it’s made up dates and yams suggests that it’s an equally suitable morning starter. Chocoholics, rejoice; you can indulge in all the cocoa goodness your heart desires, deep and rich and silky, without any regrets later in the day. These tiny but mighty little jars contain the fuel to start out strong and end up satisfied.

Of course, any decent diet must include snacks, and the midday morsels included here don’t disappoint. The Marrakesh Jewels take two juicy, soft Medjool dates and stuff them to the brim with pistachio praline and cashew lemon chia, respectively. If hunger begins to nag like a petulant child between meals, a little bit goes a long way with these potent bites.
Genuine cookie monsters can find a more conventional pastry replacement in The Istanbul Cookie, a tahini-rye chocolate chip cookie that boasts an impressive 80% of your iron requirements per day. You’d never know it based on flavor, which is evocative of pure childhood comfort, hold the butter and eggs.

WeTheTrillions invites you to embrace your cravings. Acknowledging that “clean eating” is a misguided fallacy, the ultimate goal is to satisfy the need for comfort food without sacrificing wellness, or sanity, for that matter. Flavor is the foundation of what makes a healthful meal.

This is one establishment you’ll never regret visiting. Give it a try, make it a routine, and throw away your other takeout menus. This one has genuine staying power.

Get 10% off your order with the code HANNAH10, today!

This review was made possible as a collaboration with WeTheTrillions. My opinions can not be bought and all content is original. This page may contain affiliate links; thank you for supporting my blog!

Fealing Better

It’s barely an exaggeration to say that the whole world has gone CBD crazy. The range of infused products is staggering, from shampoo to cough drops, cookie dough to sparkling water. I can personally vouch for the benefits of this natural nootropic. Sometimes the stresses of daily life can become overwhelming, and while it would be nice to run away on a yoga retreat to de-stress, having a little tincture of hemp oil on standby has been a real lifesaver for a quick fix.

I’ve tried many different brands over the years, so when I had the opportunity to try Feals, I was excited. What immediately stood out to me about Feals is their personalized approach. They have a testing flight for $20, which contains 3 samples of different strengths. This is perfect for the CBD newbie, as you can try all 3 (600MG, 1200MG, and 2400MG) before committing to a full sized bottle. Most people don’t know where to start when it comes to hemp-derived products, be it how much to take or when to take it. If you’re uncertain about how hemp might affect you, this trial flight is an easy introduction. Experience firsthand what a lesser or greater dosage feels like, without any risk, to figure out what works best for your unique brain chemistry.

My favorite thing about hemp is that it doesn’t cause a drastic, sudden change in mood. It’s much more subtle, slowly soothing and calming over the span of about 45 minutes. For those times when you’re stuck in a rut, in a sad downward spiral, it can be just the little push to get you out and get on with the day.

Improved mental health is the primary reason why I turn to Feals, but it can have many other beneficial uses, too. Products containing hemp oil have been shown to also help alleviate chronic headaches, muscle pain, inflammation, and other physical ailments.

Scientifically speaking, THC, the oil that is extracted from the hemp plant, is the ingredient that makes you feel calmer. The highest amount of THC you’ll find in any hemp product is under 0.3%. The trace amounts will not leave you feeling out of it, but just generally more at ease. I’m able to take a couple of drops during the day and still be fully functional, not the least bit groggy.

The great thing about hemp oil is that the effects are cumulative the more you take it. The only downside is the taste, which is every bit as appealing as cannabis smells. You can always mix a few drops into your morning coffee or smoothie to mask the intense grassy flavor.

Reaping the full rewards of hemp oil is all about finding the dosage that works for you. Feals is ideal for just that reason. When you find your optimal strength, their full sized tinctures last a long time because they’re so concentrated that you only need a couple of drops at once. Feals is a convenient, affordable way to start trying CBD without making blind leap of faith; the results will speak for themselves.

The folks at FEALS are extending a special offer to BitterSweet readers! Sign up for a membership and get 30% off your order, every time!

Social Butterfly

CBD has been all the buzz lately, which is rather ironic for a supplement that positively cannot get you buzzed. For anyone that needs a quick crash course in Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, it is a compound that interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system.  These series of receptors regulate pain, mood, the immune system, memory, appetite, stress, and other important functions. Unlike THC, CBD will not get you high or create any psychoactive effect.

Let’s be honest: While unadulterated, straight CBD oil is unarguably the ideal for assimilation, it tastes much like raw hemp, which is to say… Grassy, at best. That’s why I generally steer clear of drops and tinctures, in favor of flavorless capsules. Mary Poppins had the right idea that a “spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down,” but in the case of Social CBD, all it really takes is a bit of sweet flavor.

Far more palatable than your kid’s cough syrup, Social CBD Broad Spectrum Drops are stevia-sweetened and infused with the essences of Pomegranate Tea, Meyer Lemon, and Vanilla Mint. Unflavored, for you purists out there, is composed of only MCT Coconut Oil and CBD Hemp Extract.

Finally, a tincture so tasty that I actually WANT to take directly from the dropper! Vanilla Mint not only lifts my spirits, but immediately freshens my breath. Pomegranate Tea provides warmth and comfort, without the cup. Meyer Lemon is an invigorating, zesty wake up call, perfect for kicking off the day on a bright note.

While I’m happy to take this treatment without further adulteration, the beauty of these blends is how easily they lend themselves to further recipe experimentation, too. Inspired by the fresh, fruity flavor and antioxidant powerhouse of pomegranates, I took the Pomegranate Tea Broad Spectrum Drops and blended them into a spoonable smoothie bowl.

Pretty in pink, it’s both powerfully tasty and nutritious, using pomegranate juice and arils to pump up the flavor. While the CBD drops are certainly optional, I’ve found it incredibly helpful in stabilizing my mood throughout the day, which makes the full combination an ideal, complete breakfast. Alternatively, if you need a boost to beat the midday slump, reach for this bountiful bowl instead of that second (or third) cup of coffee. Energize, satisfy, and soothe yourself, all in great taste.

Use the promo code MOMSMEET25 to save 25% on all Social CBD products. Offer ends August 31, 2020.

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Sweet Dreams

Tossing, turning, mind churning, sleep doesn’t come easily for the majority of people these days. Everyone experiences the frustration at least intermittently, staring at the clock counting down the minutes until daybreak, unable to force a hard reboot. The importance of a good night’s sleep can’t be overstated, even more so than exercise or even healthy eating. Without a solid 6 – 8 hours of deep sleep under your belt, the simplest tasks become herculean endeavors.

I’m one of those people that’s tried everything. From aromatherapy to prescription meds, striking the right balance is more of an art than a science. Everyone, every body, is different, which makes the path to a proper night’s sleep winding, full of dead ends, and often isolating.

Melatonin has been my only relief, although I’ve built up a considerable tolerance to it over the years. Whereas 2mg is more than enough for most people, it takes 10mg, or more, to keep me peacefully tucked in, even if I’m already tired out. Just like the multitude of factors that join in concert to create ideal sleeping conditions, it takes more than one hormone to complete the cycle. CBD, already a noted daytime supplement in my medicine cabinet, is here to help.

There’s more to CBD than just oils and tinctures, of course. New to me is the concept of a CBD-infused bath bomb, combining the spa-like experience of a relaxing soak with the efficacy of a therapeutic treatment. Your skin is your largest organ, and thus a powerful tool for absorbing cannabinoids. Even if you don’t have a bathtub, a simple foot soak will yield equally satisfying results, instantly assimilating essential oils and CBD like a sponge. A bath bomb is a full-body topical application that allows for unparalleled all-over relief.

What makes the biggest difference in my sleep routine, however, is CBD oil blended with my good friend melatonin, plus other beneficial herbal extracts such as chamomile, valerian root extract, passionflower, cascade hops, and lemon balm. This is the harmonious fusion found in a bottle of CBD PM, which starts doing its magic about 30 minutes before bed.

A light mint flavor helps conceal the more grassy, vegetal notes of hemp, but all I could think about after the first dosage were pillow mints.

It’s no struggle to get this medicine down, but a spoonful of sugar still doesn’t hurt. Soft, sweet, melt-away morsels that actually help settle the restless mind, these pillow mints are classic treats with a tiny modern twist. Using CBD oil instead of mere peppermint oil adds flavor with function.

Smooth and rich like old-fashioned butter mints but even creamier, they won’t dry out like the dusty pellets usually left sitting in the candy dish. Easily double the recipe to make them en mass and have enough to share, or cut it in half if you’re not totally sold on the concept. Try one or two before bedtime, and I promise you’ll become a believer. These are the stuff that sweet dreams are made of.

For the key ingredient, CBD PM, use promo code MOMSMEET to save 15% on your order at cbdmd.com. Offer ends March 31, 2020. Free shipping on all orders.

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Hands-On Probiotics

Change is the only reliable constant when it comes to advice on health and wellness. Young or old, fit or inactive, immune support tends to be a hot topic, especially as colder months creep closer. The once popular antibacterial hand sanitizers that once proliferated in grocery stores, doctor’s offices, and public school alike have suddenly turned into the enemy. It seems that the detrimental effects may outweigh the benefits. By indiscriminately destroying all germs, both good and bad, you may end up with a more fragile immune system that’s less capable of coping with even a mild cold. It makes perfect sense, in hindsight, but turns previous health commonsense preventative care on its head. Without this protective line of self defense, what is one to do?

Probiotics are here to save the day, again, but not in the form you may think.

We’ve all heard of probiotics in our food and our supplements—but what about our hand sanitizer? Desert Essence has changed the probiotic game with their new Probiotic Hand Sanitizers, available in three botanical-infused formulas. While they kill 99.99% of most common harmful germs, they also deliver good bacteria from probiotic-packed vegan-certified kefir. Further differentiating themselves from harsh, old-fashioned options, a few drops actually helps moisturize skin, rather than drying it out.

Available in lightly scented blends of lavender, lemongrass, and simply tea tree oil, any aroma is short lived but refreshing and invigorating when you need it. Cooling upon contact, it’s like a topical palate cleanser, between activities. Best of all, the mini size is perfect for travel, because everyone knows the importance – and difficulty – of staying healthy while on the road or in the sky.

Are you on the probiotic bandwagon yet? Go ahead and rub it in; there are more ways to get your daily dose than yogurt and sauerkraut now!

Use the promo code DEprobioticpower to get 30% off Desert Essence Probiotic Hand Sanitizers by visiting desertessence.com.

This review was made possible as a collaboration with Moms Meet and Desert Essence. My opinions can not be bought and all content is original. This page may contain affiliate links; thank you for supporting my blog!