Banana Blackstrap Blood Building Smoothie

If you’re suffering from iron-deficiency anemia, this is just the recipe for you. It may not look the prettiest, but it is sweet & tasty.

Iron absorption is about more than just the iron. Nutrients like vitamin C, copper, manganese, vitamin a, and folate are essential for healthy ferritin and iron levels, and healthy red blood cell counts. Without the proper nutritional balance, you may find that your iron supplements alone just don’t cut it. This is why when trying to correct a nutritional deficiency, utilizing complimentary whole foods in addition to any supplements is instrumental.

This recipe contains some of the best blood-boosting ingredients in an easy to drink smoothie, supplying plant-based iron plus all of the essential nutrients mentioned above for proper assimilation.




  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 tablespoon black strap molasses
  • ¼ tsp raw cacao powder
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • Handful of spinach or kale
  • 2-4 drops pure vanilla extract

Blend, and enjoy once daily!


Megan Normansell, CHC, AADP, CFH

Certified Holistic Practitioner/Holistic Nutrition/Herbalist/Wild Edibles Guide

Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more recipes and healthy living ideas!

Interested in healing your body naturally?
Get the answers you’ve been searching for, and heal your body for good… naturally. We have successfully helped thousands of people across the country live a healthier life than they ever could have imagined, and specialize in dozens of different health concerns. Curious? Schedule your complimentary consultation with me today! Read the incredible reviews we’ve received over the years here. – – 920-327-2221


Copyright Megan Normansell 2018 All rights reserved. 

The Paleo Diet- It Isn’t What You Think It Is


The Paleolithic period, also known as a part of the Stone Age, lasted 2.6 million years ago to about 12,000 years ago and has inspired many an idea of what your plate should look like today. The modern dietary theory called the “Paleo Diet” or “Caveman Diet” professes that ancient hunters/gatherers shared a certain diet during that period, and that diet is still essential for reclaiming our health in contemporary times. While there is variability in the way it is interpreted, the diet typically includes specific vegetables, fruits, nuts, roots, and meat and excludes certain other vegetables, dairy, grains, legumes, certain oils, artificial ingredients, salt, & alcohol.

Now, my profession consists of telling people to eat vegetables. I’m not here to put down any diet that aims to do the same. I’ve been professionally trained in the modern Paleo diet, along with dozens of other dietary theories that I use with my clients. Any diet that says “just eat real food” is always going to point you in the direction of better health. But alas, I am an eternal “vegetable truther.” Where there is misinformation in the nutrition industry, I will seek to set the record straight. Do you follow the modern day “Paleo Diet?” Cool. Keep eating it. Just know it’s not actually Paleo. Many foods that are today being touted as being “paleo” did not even exist during the Paleolithic era. Many foods on the modern paleo diet “no” list were actually staples in a true, historically accurate Paleo diet. Don’t believe me? Keep reading. Are you interested in learning more about the real Paleo diet? Cool. Also keep reading.

Now the wonderful thing about any ancient, traditional diet is that there were no orthorexic rules that our society seems so obsessed with today- it was eat what nature provided, when nature provided it. A true paleo diet can best be described as “opportunistic omnivores.” I like that. Unfortunately today, that same term would translate to going to whatever McDonalds is closest to your house.


Using today’s terminology we could describe a true paleo diet as organic (all food was organic until the 1940’s), non-GMO (genetically modified crops were not manufactured and introduced into our food supply until the 1980’s), whole, local, seasonal, and wild. There were no isolated synthetic vitamins and minerals to fortify with, no preservatives, artificial colors and flavors, MSG and synthetic flavor enhancers, pesticides, herbicides, etc.

Paleo people were more well-nourished and had less famine than the Neolithic and more agrarian cultures that followed them. They had a wider variety of natural foods and they were foragers, with no dependence on a small number of crops and cultivated foods like we do in modern times. I can personally harvest over 30 species of wild plants in the park in my suburban village- imagine how much more food a person would have had within arm’s reach back in that period of time.


Although not quite old enough to be Paleolithic, Otzi the ice man gives us unique insight into what a diet looked like before most of our food was cultivated. As he lived near regions that we’ll be discussing and used most of the same methods to obtain his food, his diet likely would not vary much from a typical version of a true Paleolithic diet.

Otzi, the incredibly well-preserved iceman discovered in 1991, lived in the region that is now northern Italy, some 5,300 years ago. And his last meal consisted of… wild goat (Ibex) and Einkorn wheat.

Now wheat is an interesting one, as it’s been demonized by many different dietary theories today.

As a holistic nutrition practitioner with Celiac disease, I understand better than most how damaging gluten-containing grains can be. However, I also understand that everybody’s bodies are dramatically different, one man’s poison may be another man’s food and vice versa. Unless I work with a client and find them to have a genuine wheat or gluten allergy or intolerance, I will not immediately rush to tell them to eliminate it. When we get into cutting out whole foods without any solid reason other than “I read about it in this book” or “this guy says it’s bad for everyone” or “this person punched this into a machine and the printout says I can’t eat it” then meal planning and eating becomes this stressful, confusing, frustrating, messy, overly-restricted and eventually despised regimen. Common sense gets thrown out the window too many times. Keep it simple.

But I digress.

In some people the culprit may not even be the wheat itself, but what’s been done to it. The modern wheat you get in stores today is not even remotely close to distant cousins like Einkorn. For my wheat-eating clients I recommend ancient, organic varieties of it such as Einkorn or spelt, in the unrefined, unmilled form.

The term Einkorn wheat refers to two different types- the wild form, triticum boeoticum, or the domesticated form, triticum monococcum. As records of domestication of wheat go back to just 8,650 to 7,950 BC, this clearly was not a part of the true Paleolithic diet. However, archaological evidence in Syria found that humans may have started harvesting this wild wheat around 30,000 years ago. That makes this wheat a very paleo treat. Triticum boeoticum has been traced back to pre-neolithic sites in Turkey and areas throughout northern Europe. It is a low-yielding grain, thus was eaten in small quantities. Wheat was eaten in the same way we’d eat it in its whole food form today- boiled in water whole or eaten as porridge, similar to how we make oatmeal today.

Compared to modern wheat, Einkorn has more protein, healthy fats, magnesium, b6, beta carotene, and potassium.


wheat! it’s coming for you!

Anthropologists have found that proportions of foods consumed varied quite a bit. You tend to find that chillier areas are more meat-heavy out of necessity. The extra calories, fat, and warmth were needed to thrive in cold climates. When you were hungry, you hunted.

Certain areas have also been found to be far more plant-based, with very small amounts of meat. Other areas were higher in carbs, with tubers being a main staple. So a paleo diet did not necessarily mean lots of meat or low carb, either. It is estimated the average true Paleolithic diet consisted of 3.6-4.2 pounds of fruits and vegetables daily.

So lets compare. How does the modern “Paleo diet” stack up against the true historically accurate Paleo diet?

  • Dairy? The modern Paleo Diet says no. Is it truly Paleo? Yes! There is evidence that late paleo cultures most likely domesticated reindeer for their meat and dairy as early as 14,000 BC.
  • Against the grain? Now we know that the true paleo diet did indeed include grains. One variety of quinoa (chenopodium quinoa var. melanospermum) was believed to be in the ancient paleo diet. But since they were not cultivated they were not available in large quantities. Your plate reflected what you picked. Small servings.
  • Soy free? My research says yes, the paleo diet was devoid of soy.
  • Gluten free? Nope!
  • Sugar free? No! The true paleo diet embraced all fruits that were available to them.

wild grapes would have been eaten during paleolithic times

  • Refined sugar free? Yes! Just say no to refined white sugar.
  • Vegan? No! At least not by choice. Opportunistic omnivores. However if the opportunity was not there or if you were a terrible hunter, you may be a temporary (and hangry) vegan.
  • Alcohol free? Probably. One archaeologist believes fermented wild grape wine traces back to 8,500 BC, which is not quite long enough ago to be considered Paleo. Unless they kept their magic spirits secret…
  • BACON! Maybe. There is evidence of wild pigs being hunted as far back as 11,000 BC so it’s not outside the realm of possibility.
  • Legumes? Legumes have been found in Paleolithic archaeobotanical findings in Kebara Cave, Israel and there are varieties that would have been consumed during the Paleo era including Fabaceaes like peas, vetch, and clover. Archaeological finds have found peas to be a part of the Paleolithic diet in Switzerland. Lentils have been traced back to the Greek diet as far as 11,000 BC, which puts it in that Paleo grey area. But I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think that they could have been consumed around 12,000 BC, so we’ll label lentils as a “Paleo maybe-o.”
Vicia americana

vicia americana, American vetch

Foods you think are Paleo that really aren’t:

  • Bell peppers: these are a modern cultivar
  • Kale: came about around 300 BC
  • Broccoli: made from a kale predecessor in the 1500s
  • Cabbage (savoy): dates back to the 1500s
  • Kohlrabi: also from the 1500s
  • Brussels sprouts: first used in the 400’s, the modern cultivar you eat today came about in the 1200s
  • Cauliflower: bred in the 1300-1400s
  • Bananas: the bananas you eat today have been around for less than 200 years. If you lived in Papua New Guinea, you would have eaten banana cultivars beginning around 5000-8000 BC. But still not exactly paleo.
  • Apples: any that are not crabapples. This includes your honeycrisp, golden and red delicious, gala, braeburn, and so on.
  • Chicken: The chicken you’re eating today is a modernized hybrid of junglefowl and would not have been a component of a truly Paleo diet. The first records of the chicken you know and love today being eaten are from 600 BC.
  • Zucchini: this is a pretty new food- zucchini as you know it was developed in the second half of the 19th century in Italy. Summer squashes are native to Mexico and can be traced back to 7,000 to 5,500 BC, so would not have been part of the paleo diet in Europe.
  • Olive oil: Olives were not known to be picked until the Neolithic peoples, and archaeological evidence shows that they were first made into olive oil between 6000 BC and 4500 BC in Israel. Sorry, your olive oil isn’t Paleo.

So while of course there are large variances in the true Paleolithic diet based upon what was available at the time, here’s the rundown of what was really eaten during that time period:

  • Fish
  • Legumes
  • Seeds
  • Nuts
  • Grains
  • Children were weaned much later than they typically are today, so children had the advantage of breastmilk for many years
  • Animals such as wooly mammoths, deer, seals, elands, shellfish, carrion, & birds
  • Eggs
  • Tubers & roots
  • Fruits
  • Insects
  • Raw dairy
watercress nettles motherwort catmint

ancient wild foods harvested near my home

On top of that there are many of today’s wild foods that we know were around during Neolithic times. I have no reason to believe these were not available 12,000 years ago or longer:

  • Stinging nettles
  • Beech nut
  • Garlic mustard
  • Lambs quarters
  • Acorns
  • Hazelnuts
  • Burdock root
  • Wild grapes
  • Elder flowers and berry
  • Blackberries
  • Raspberries
  • Wild turnips
  • Crab apples
  • Bolete mushrooms: mushrooms are a difficult food to detect in ancient remains, but we do have evidence of bolete mushrooms being consumed in Spain 18,000-12,000 years ago

boletes like these that my husband harvested would have been eaten

Curious, intriguing, surprising, and inspiring isn’t it? While I’m not telling you to go make this your end-all diet, I do think our modern “diet culture” can take some lessons from the Paleolithic peoples. Eat real food, mostly plants, no whole natural food is inherently bad, and relax. Oh, and eat your nettles.


Megan Normansell, CHC, AADP, CFH

Certified Holistic Practitioner/Holistic Nutrition/Herbalist/Wild Edibles Guide

Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more recipes and healthy living ideas!

Interested in healing your body naturally?
Get the answers you’ve been searching for, and heal your body for good… naturally. We have successfully helped thousands of people across the country live a healthier life than they ever could have imagined, and specialize in dozens of different health concerns. Curious? Schedule your complimentary consultation with me today! Read the incredible reviews we’ve received over the years here. – – 920-327-2221


Copyright Megan Normansell 2018 All rights reserved. 

8 Incredible Reasons to Eat Star Anise

Star Anise is an aromatic, liquorice- flavored spice that is widely used in Indian, Malay, Chinese, and Indonesian cuisine. As with all herbs, it is not only a culinary delight but has some powerful medicinal properties. Find it in the spice aisle of your local grocery store, preferably organic.

1. Star Anise has antibacterial, anti-viral properties and helps to fight infection. Almost all of the world’s star anise crop is used for extraction of shikimic acid, the chemical used in the synthesis of Tamiflu. Can you imagine how much safer it must be to use the unadulterated, whole food form of the medicine? This herb is indicated specifically for the flu, sinus infections and bronchial infections. Take it at the first sign of illness and each day you are ill, preferably in the tea form. See my recipe below.

2. It has compounds such as creosol and alpha-pimene that clear mucus from air passages, soothe a sore throat, and make dry, irritating coughs more productive. The Greeks used to make teas with it to help asthma and other respiratory ailments.

3. Alleviates constipation.

4. It is carminitive (relieves gas) and is good for indigestion.

5. Is helpful for PMS and menopausal symptoms, and gently encourages childbirth.

6. Supplies calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, zinc, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A, and five B vitamins.

7. The seeds from this powerfully scented herb have been used as a tea for thousands of years to help treat bad breath.

8. Star Anise contains a compound called anethol, which has been reported to increase sex drive in women.

Here we used star anise to make a flavorful immune boosting tea with a handful of Wisconsin chaga mushroom chunks, 1 cinnamon bark stick, and 1/4 cup of elderberries in a stock pot.  If you want a no fuss, ready-to-go star anise option, check out my organic Star Anise tincture. 

Explore the many culinary applications to get the benefits of this wonderful medicine provided by nature!


Megan Normansell, CHC, AADP, CFH

Certified Holistic Practitioner/Holistic Nutrition/Herbalist/Wild Edibles Guide

Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more recipes and healthy living ideas!

Interested in healing your body naturally?
Get the answers you’ve been searching for, and heal your body for good… naturally.  We have successfully helped thousands of people across the country live a healthier life than they ever could have imagined, and specialize in dozens of different health concerns. Curious? 
Schedule your complimentary consultation with me today! Read the incredible reviews we’ve received over the years here.     –    –    920-327-2221

*please consult your herbalist or other health care practitioner before beginning a new herbal regimen like these.

Copyright Megan Normansell 2018 All rights reserved. 

Don’t Make These Common Mistakes When Trying to Boost your Immune System


Our immune system is comprised of many biological structures, and is quite a wondrous thing. Give it the tools it needs, and it detects and protects us from potentially fatal invaders including bacteria, parasites, and viruses. As with anything else if you don’t put the right fuel in it’s not going to be able to perform at its best, so here I’ll discuss how to do that in a way that isn’t counterproductive.

With flu season upon us, “immune boosters” are all the buzz. No one wants to get sick! Nature provides medicine for every ailment – if you have even a bit of influence over whether you get sick or not or how quickly you recover from illness, why wouldn’t you want to take advantage?

However, there is such a thing as doing it wrong.

Let’s look at it as three different categories- immune stimulators, immune modulators, and immune essentials.

Immune stimulators:

Many people refer to these as “immune boosters,” but I much prefer to use the term “stimulators.” These are the warriors you keep in your medicine cabinet to launch an attack when you get an invader. They rev up your immune system for war- they can be used prophylactically after exposure, used to kick out a pathogen at the first sign of illness, or used to reduce the duration of an illness. They are not required for immune function, but they can be extremely effective at helping and most have the research to back that. (See a sampling of available studies below- 111 of them!)

However, you don’t always want to stimulate, or “boost” your immune system. These should only be taken on an as-needed basis, not daily. Think of it as sending soldiers out to war- fighting off the enemy is a really tough job. Imagine if you were to send those soldiers off every day to fight, whether they were needed or not. They’d get tired and burnt out after awhile, wouldn’t they? Generally immune stimulators want to be used for 3-4 days, or as directed for your particular ailment by your naturopathic practitioner or herbalist. Immune stimulators are not ideal for those with autoimmune disease or those on immune – suppressing drugs. The following are some of my favorites.

Examples of immune stimulators:

  • Elderberry
  • Echinacea
  • Goldenseal
  • Boneset
  • Pokeweed
  • Tinder conk mushroom
  • Birch polypore mushroom
  • Oyster mushrooms
  • Star anise
  • Andrographis
  • Cats Claw
  • Astragalus

Wild echinacea purpurea near my house

Immune Modulators:

These are the immune regulators; it is their job to keep the immune system at a healthy baseline. Modulation means being strong enough for pathogens and foreign cells to be destroyed, but also not hyper-reacting to common foods, allergens, environmental organisms, or your own body cells. Take these daily as gentle therapeutics, use prophylactically after exposure, or to support your system in fighting off pathogens at the first sign of illness. Some modulators can also help to stimulate but due to regulating activities that are stronger than their stimulating activities, they are safe for autoimmune disorders. To determine whether a substance in question falls under the category of stimulator or modulator, I generally dissect the individual compounds and study their effect on the immune system. Even with a few modulating phytochemicals, if there is a strong presence of stimulators it will likely provoke the immune system. Alpha-amyrin and astragalin are examples of immune stimulants found in elderberry, for example, that contribute to its stimulating effects.

Examples of immune modulators:

When using medicinal mushrooms it’s very important to avoid the term ingredient “myceliated grain” or “myceliated rice,” as this means your product contains the root structure of the mushrooms grown on grain, instead of the actual mushrooms. It’s a cheaper and more easily mass-produced way of marketing mushrooms without having to go through the effort and expense of providing the actual fruiting bodies. They are not the same thing. If you’re ever in doubt with your mushroom product, buy from the hand that picks your mushrooms so that you know you’re getting the real thing.


Dried chaga chunks are used to make a delicious tea. Order my wild Wisconsin harvested chaga here and learn more about chaga at Eden Wild Food

Immune essentials:

Immune essentials are crucial nutrients that are required for functioning of the immune system. They are not optional. A balanced diet should provide most of what we need, however many times a supplement is helpful for filling nutritional gaps, especially if your diet is not ideal. In the presence of illness or as a prophylactic help, higher doses than the minimal amount to prevent deficiency can be helpful. For example, I like to take a gram of vitamin C every couple hours when I’m feeling under the weather. However, more is not always better for many vitamins and minerals- you want daily levels that allow the body and immune system to function at optimum levels, without overdosing. For example, overdosing on the vitamin D via supplementation can cause health issues such as a decrease in bone mass. Too much zinc (over 100 mg/day) can actually suppress your immune system. Consult your health practitioner for doses that are right for your body.

Examples of immune essentials:

  • Vitamin C
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin D
  • Selenium

Rose hips have 946% more vitamin C than oranges! Read more here.

So to sum up, these natural medicines can be a wonderful, effective way to stay healthy, but be sure to choose the methods that are right for you- rev up and/or regulate your immune system, and of course supply the vitamins and minerals that are the basic foundation of our bodily functions.


Megan Normansell (Kerkhoff), CHC, AADP, CFH

Certified Holistic Practitioner/Holistic Nutrition/Herbalist/Wild Edibles Guide

Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more recipes and healthy living ideas!

Interested in healing your body naturally?
Get the answers you’ve been searching for, and heal your body for good… naturally. We have successfully helped thousands of people across the country live a healthier life than they ever could have imagined, and specialize in dozens of different health concerns. Curious? Schedule your complimentary consultation with me today! Read the incredible reviews we’ve received over the years here. – – 920-327-2221

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  68. Mycelium Running by Paul Stamets
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Rakel: Integrative Medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012.

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107. Antimicrobial properties of star anise (Illicium verum Hook f).
108. Immune Modulation From Five Major Mushrooms: Application to Integrative Oncology Alena G. Guggenheim, ND; Kirsten M. Wright, BS; Heather L. Zwickey, PhD
109. Medicinal Mushrooms: A Clinical Guide by Martin Powell
110. Mushrooms for Health by Greg Marley
111. Mycelium Running by Paul Stamets

Copyright Megan Normansell 2018 All rights reserved.

Creamy Wild Mushroom & Brie Soup

It’s no secret the canned cream of mushroom soup is horrendous for your health. Is there even any real food in there?? Here we have a much more flavorful and healthy alternative- great eaten on its own with a salad, or used as a replacement for cream of mushroom soup in your favorite recipes.

mushroombrie soup


To add a wild twist to mine, I chose to use wild chanterelle mushrooms that I had frozen from last summer’s harvest. But you can use any mushroom you can get your hands on and it’ll still be wonderful! In place of the white wine I used my maple sap wine that we brewed with sap from the maples in our yard last winter. (wow that stuff is strong!)



  • 16-24 oz mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons of gluten-free flour
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 4 cups of vegetable broth
  • 6-10 ounces brie, rind cut off and cut into smaller squares
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • sea salt and pepper to taste


  1. Finely chop 3/4 of the mushrooms, and then slice the rest into thin pieces.
  2. Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat and add the mushrooms. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Add the onions, thyme, and garlic to the mushrooms and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are translucent.
  4. Add the flour and wine then cook for another 5 minutes.
  5. Add the milk and brie, and stir as until the brie fully melts.
  6. Separate the bigger slices of mushrooms, then puree the rest of it in a blender or food processor. Then add in the mushroom pieces for some texture, and enjoy!


Megan Normansell (Kerkhoff), CHC, AADP, CFH

Certified Holistic Practitioner/Holistic Nutrition/Herbalist/Wild Edibles Guide

Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more recipes and healthy living ideas!

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Folate vs Folic Acid: Are you being duped?

Folate, or vitamin b9, is a water-soluble nutrient that was first discovered when it was found that brewer’s yeast (a source of b vitamins) could prevent anemia. Folate is essential for brain health, energy production, formation of red blood cells, immune system, protein metabolism, and regulation of homocysteine levels. It’s a coenzyme in DNA and RNA synthesis, so it is important for healthy cell division and replication. Folate is especially important during pregnancy as a deficiency can result in neural tube defects and/or premature birth. Pre-conception nutrition is important, because low folate levels BEFORE conception increases the risk of birth defects as well.  For men, women, and children, low folate levels can cause anemia, digestive problems, fatigue, prematurely greying hair, memory problems, insomnia, paranoia, anxiety, weakness, growth impairment, and depression.

Just a “little bit” pregnant with my daughter, Eliana

Now the big debate: is there a difference between folate and folic acid? The short answer is yes. Folate is the version of b9 that occurs naturally in foods. Folic acid is a synthesized version of the vitamin that will never be found in nature. Vitamins are always best when obtained from real, whole food sources. For some, particularly for those with an MTHFR genetic defect (fairly common), folic acid can mean trouble as it can be difficult to convert the synthetic version over to the usable form of the vitamin.

Now here’s where food & supplement companies trick you:

  1. Even if folate is listed on the nutrition facts, it’s not always actually folate. Manufacturers know ‘folate’ is something consumers are looking for, so they may list it as “folate (as folic acid).” If the nutrition facts list the form as ‘folate’ but you see ‘folic acid’ on the ingredients list, it is indeed synthetic folic acid. If you do not see the word ‘folic acid’ anywhere in those two spots, it should be the natural form of the vitamin.


    “Early Promise Prenatal” Gentle Multiple

  2. A product labeled “all natural” or “organic” is not always 100% natural and not always using natural forms of the vitamins. Check your labels for ‘folic acid.’ Many “high quality” nutritional shakes, protein powders, and multivitamins tout themselves as being natural or whole food based, when the reality is they’re going the cheap route and using poor quality vitamins. Marketing, marketing, marketing.
  3. Whole foods don’t need vitamin fortification, because they are whole foods. The nutrients are already in there, in the perfect balance nature intended. When you see a food fortified with folic acid, it means it’s been highly processed and is most likely not healthy at all.


    (real food tastes better anyways!)

Where CAN I get folate from?

  1. Genuinely natural multivitamin or folate supplements. Check out my list of some of my favorite multivitamins that only use the food-derived folate instead of folic acid.
  2. REAL FOOD! Really, this is always the best way. While supplements can be helpful (especially during pregnancy) they can never replace the ample vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that unprocessed food provides. While toxicity risk is low, it’s still near impossible to overdose on folate from foods (who accidentally eats 14 cups of broccoli??), where it’s easy to overdose with a supplement by taking just a couple too many pills. You can’t absorb one vitamin properly without all of the appropriate co-nutrients in balance, and this is where whole food always delivers. For example, the best food source of folate is lentils. Let’s look at the breakdown of the nutrient content of lentils- it’s about way more than folate! 26637747_10101947671173863_641004983_n


    Data from USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28, via “Nutrition Data” app

The best food sources of folate per 1 cup, according to daily value (DV):

  • Lentils (90% DV)
  • Pinto beans (74% DV)
  • Garbanzo beans (71% DV)
  • Asparagus (65% DV)
  • Spinach (65% DV)
  • Black beans (64% DV)
  • Navy beans (64% DV)
  • Kidney beans (57% DV)
  • Collard greens (44% DV)
  • Beet root (34% DV)
  • Split peas (32% DV)
  • Papaya- 1 whole (29% DV)


    My “Fiesta Ranch” salad

If you want more in depth guidance to heal your body naturally, this is what I help people with every day! In my one-on-one personalized holistic health programs, we visit every area of your health in depth to ensure you accomplish all of your health goals permanently. My comprehensive programs give you the step-by-step nutritional changes, personal guidance, support, stress management, recipes, accountability, food sensitivity evaluations, and other tools necessary to make life-changing changes last a lifetime.

Contact me at 920-327-2221 or for your free consultation!


Megan Normansell, CHC, AADP, CFH

Certified Holistic Practitioner/Holistic Nutrition/Herbalist/Wild Edibles Guide

Follow me on Facebook and Instagram

for more recipes and healthy living ideas!     –    –    920-327-2221


Copyright Megan Normansell 2018 All rights reserved. 

Get your Sugar Detox on!

Sugar: the death of many a health goal. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, improve25593216_10101928426754833_1827350616_o digestion, keep your immune system strong, lower cholesterol, manage IBS, lower pain and inflammation, eliminate migraines, improve depression and anxiety, and so on… sugar makes it all so, so much harder. Studies have shown that white refined sugar is even more addictive than cocaine and heroin, so no wonder it’s so difficult to quit! Excessive sugar intake is now considered to be a public health crisis, for many reasons.

And “detox”… a word that some will scoff at. What do I mean when I say you can “detox” from sugar? Detoxification is defined as the process of removing toxic substances or qualities. Yes, white refined sugar is toxic, and yes we’re removing it. Yes, sugar addiction and cravings are toxic to your health, and yes we’re removing them. No, it won’t hurt, you won’t suffer, and you won’t hate me.

20 Reasons Why Sugar Ruins Your Health

  • Sugar can suppress the immune system.
  • Sugar interferes with absorption of calcium and magnesium.
  • Sugar can weaken eyesight.
  • Sugar can cause hypoglycemia.
  • Sugar can cause a rapid rise of adrenaline levels in children.
  • Sugar contributes to obesity.
  • Sugar can cause arthritis.
  • Sugar can cause heart disease and emphysema.
  • Sugar can contribute to osteoporosis.
  • Sugar can increase cholesterol.
  • Sugar can significantly increase risk of cancer.
  • Sugar can contribute to diabetes.
  • Sugar can cause cardiovascular disease.
  • Sugar can make our skin age by changing the structure of collagen.
  • Sugar can produce a significant rise in triglycerides.
  • Sugar can increase the body’s fluid retention.
  • Sugar can cause headaches, including migraines.
  • Sugar can cause depression.
  • Sugar can contribute to Alzheimer’s disease.
  • In intensive care units, limiting sugar saves lives.
(Adapted from 146 Reasons Why Sugar Is Ruining Your Health by Nancy Appleton, Ph.D.)



We will first want to identify all sources of white refined sugar in your diet. Read the ingredient listing on your labels. You’ll find sugar is lurking in everything from ketchup to yogurt, and there are countless trick names for white sugar. (evaporated cane juice or cane juice extract anyone?) Luckily there are many healthier alternatives. Is there sugar in your ketchup? Try buying an unsweetened version or crushing/pureeing fresh tomatoes instead. Sugar in your yogurt or almond milk? Buy an unsweetened version instead and sweeten with berries and/or a touch of honey.

You’ll find that choosing whole foods over processed foods (eg. oatmeal instead of boxed cereals) will make it much easier to avoid added sugar. Many of the “low calorie,” “low sugar,” or “sugar free” diet and snack foods on the market are chock full of junk that will not support your health or your goal of eliminating sugar. We also want to avoid chemical sweeteners as much as possible (such as aspartame & sucralose/Splenda), which may seem tempting when you are trying to avoid sugar. Not only are they all toxic to some degree, they will likely leave you craving more sugar later and this detox will be more difficult to accomplish. Studies have found that people who consume artificial sweeteners and “diet” foods tend to weigh more. And did you know that about 10% of people actually still get blood sugar fluctuations from synthetic sweeteners?

“Naturally-derived artificial sweeteners,” as I call them, are a no-go too. A sweet yet calorie and sugar free sweetener- sound too good to be true? Well, yes. There will always be a trade off. Highly processed “natural” sweeteners that have been made with chemical solvents, bleaching agents, etc are no longer natural. Stevia for example is wonderful, in its whole food form. The white, crystalline powder we commonly see today in stores is a very far cry from that wholesome green leaf it started as. Ask yourself- could you make this in your yard or kitchen? If the answer is no, question how far removed your stevia, xylitol, etc is from a real, whole food.

Now that you’ve identified the sugars, we need to identify the WHY. Why are you jonesing for it?

  1. White refined sugar is highly addictive. As you replace it with the gentle, whole food sweeteners we’re about to discuss, you’ll begin to escape its grip. When you consume sugar, do you tend to crave it again later in the day? Many do, and that’s the cycle we need to break. Once you’ve eliminated it entirely you can enjoy healthier versions of your favorite sweets, with complete control over your sugar intake, vs the sugar controlling you.
  2. Dehydration = Cravings. Sometimes sweet cravings are a sign of dehydration. Before you go for the sugar, have a glass of water and then wait a few minutes to see what happens.
  3. Eat sweet vegetables and fruit. They are sweet, healthy and delicious. Some examples of sweet vegetables include onions, sweet potatoes, rutabagas, parsnips, taro root, celeriac, yucca root, blue heirloom potatoes, and beets. The more you eat, the less you’ll crave sugar. These foods will give you a subtle sweetness, but are significantly lower in sugar. Your body says- hey, I got the right carbs & sugars I need… I guess I don’t want the unhealthy carbs & sugars as much! And because they are vegetables, they are incredibly nutrient-dense and have a healing effect on your body.
  4. 25589836_10101928431425473_1313811579_nExplore sweet spices & herbs. Fennel seed, star anise, allspice, coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, anise hyssop, sweet cicely, cloves and cardamom will naturally sweeten your foods without the sugars. (and they all have great health benefits, some even used as medicines!)
  5. Use whole food sweeteners. Make the switch to the sweets that nourish you. Gentle sweeteners like maple syrup, brown rice syrup, raw honey, or maple sugar give you the flavors you need, but also supply essential nutrients. Honey for example has potent antimicrobial benefits and can be used for treating allergies, and maple syrup is a good source of b vitamins, manganese, and zinc. With this depth of flavor and nutrition you’ll find you need less of them to attain the same level of sweetness white sugar gave you in recipes. There are lots of really nice gentle sweeteners, I just like to look at where it comes from. If it takes lots of processing, solvents, bleaching, and the use of other chemicals to make it, then that’s a telltale sign that it’s not good for you. If it’s something you could easily make in your kitchen (we make maple syrup from the trees in our yard every year, for example), go ahead and eat it. When your favorite recipe calls for 1 cup of white sugar, use ½ to ¾ cup of maple syrup or honey instead. This allows you to enjoy small portions in moderation, without finding yourself desperately digging around for more sugar a few hours later.
  6. Get moving. Regular exercise will help boost mood, increase energy, balance your blood sugar levels, and alleviate stress and tension without medicating yourself with sugar.
  7. Add non-food sweetness to your life. Cravings for sweets aren’t always about food. When you are tired or stressed, your body will crave energy and comfort… and sugar is the quickest, easiest instant gratification that many of us find. Sometimes we are simply craving sweetness from other areas of our lives like relationships or hobbies, or we crave foods out of boredom or stress.
  8. Old habits die hard. Is there a food you just grab without thinking, or that is a part of your daily routine? Maybe a not-so-healthy favorite childhood dessert? Identify, address, and get guidance and support in changing that bad habit to a good one.
  9. Protein intake. Too little or too much protein (yes, as with any other nutrient you can overdo it and it’s more common than you think!) can result in cravings for sweets. This is a problem I help a lot of clients sort out. Some people do great with animal proteins, some need vegan or vegetarian proteins. Too many animal proteins like meat or dairy can mean less fiber in your diet, so portions, balance, and moderation is important for omnivores. Respect your body’s individuality and experiment.

For your first 3 days, indulge in all of the aforementioned foods as much as you need, but zero white refined sugar. Unbearable sugar craving? Eat a spoonful of honey. Or 8. Whatever you need to get through it. (YUM!)

Once you’ve accomplished all of this, your next step is to pare down your total sugar intake. Watch your portions. Even healthy sweets contain sugars that easily add up, so your next goal will be to get your total intake down to 40 grams per day. For a couple days, track your total grams. I recommend the myfitnesspal app, or use this website: to get nutritional information. To navigate the website, you will search for your food (or ingredients used to make your food) in the top search bar, locate your specific food, then record the total grams of sugar for your serving.

Some examples of sugar content:

1 tbsp raw honey: about 16 grams

1 tbsp maple syrup: about 12 grams

1 medium apple: about 14 grams

1 medium carrot: about 3 grams

1 medium sweet potato: about 6 grams

Where are you finding the majority of your sugar intake is coming from? How can you replace or reduce that particular food?

Ideally, you should be getting a total of at least 7 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. By aiming for 4-5 servings of vegetables, that will help to crowd any excess fruits you are getting. Did you know that each daily portion of vegetables reduces your overall risk of premature death by 16%, but each serving of fruit reduces your overall risk of premature death by only 4%?

You now have some great tools for beating that nasty little sugar bug! Remember- focus on adding in and creating abundance & variety, rather than focusing on restriction & denial. Vibrant health is a journey, not a destination- celebrate each day that you continue to make progress!


If you feel you need more personalized and in depth guidance, this is what I help people with every day! Sugar intake is only one facet of health; in my one-on-one personalized holistic health programs, we visit every area of your life and health in depth, to ensure you accomplish all of your health goals permanently. Bad habits can be hard to overcome for good- but our comprehensive programs give you the personal guidance, support, recipes, accountability, and tools you need to make these and other positive changes last a lifetime.

Contact me at 920-327-2221 or for your free consultation!


Megan Normansell (Kerkhoff), CHC, AADP, CFH

Certified Holistic Practitioner/Holistic Nutrition/Herbalist/Wild Edibles Guide

Follow me on Facebook and Instagram

for more recipes and healthy living ideas!     –    –    920-327-2221


Copyright Megan Normansell 2018 All rights reserved. 



Mom Stress! Herbal Medicines for the Breastfeeding Mama

This is one I hear all the time- “I’m stressed… help!! But I’m nursing… what’s safe to take?”

Use of natural medicines can be tricky while breastfeeding and I’m always conservative in their use (even if some people disagree with me!). Better safe than sorry is my motto. In a field where clinical studies are not always available and everyone has a different opinion, we must sometimes rely on traditional wisdom and common sense.

The following is a compilation of some of my favorite go-to’s for calming the hearts & minds of the busy nursing mother, in the safest way that nature intended.  I tend to prefer tinctures and teas, as you will begin feeling the effects rather quickly. Each brand may vary in potency, so take as directed on the package.  ALWAYS use the whole herbs- they supply nature’s perfect balance of dozens of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that make the herb safe and effective…. essentially acting as a “checks & balance” system for the plant. Side effects can begin to occur when you isolate compounds of the plant. Do keep in mind if what you’re experiencing is above and beyond normal daily stress (such as severe anxiety, depression, or other mood disorders) or you have other medical conditions to consider, I recommend making an appointment for more in depth, customized nutritional & herbal counseling.

That being said… I hope you enjoy a nice warm cup of calming goodness today!


  1. Oat Straw: This one can be used as a quick and easy tincture, but also makes a lovely sweet-tasting tea. It calms anxiety, tension and stress, yet promotes energy and stamina. Good for exhaustion, and can increase libido. May also increase supply!
  2. Blue Vervain: One of my favorites. Not only does it help manage stress, tension headaches, migraine, insomnia, & depression, it also promotes lactation. One client who was taking it daily nearly doubled the amount she was able to pump. Win win! Not very tasty as a tea, I prefer the tincture form.
  3. Motherwort: Eases hormone-related mood fluctuations and PMS, muscle spasms, reduces blood pressure, and calms anxiety. Note- may cause photosensitivity. Not a fantastic tea- try the tincture.
  4. Hops: Another production-helper! Small quantities of hops have been found to help with let-down. Can help with restlessness, anxiety, insomnia, and is mildly sedating. If you feel comfortable with it, you could drink 1/4 to 1/2 of a beer to get the benefits of the hops. Teas have a slight bitterness.
  5. Valerian: A sedative that is good for insomnia, stress, anxiety, elevated blood pressure, & muscle spasms. This is my favorite for “racing mind” syndrome when you’re lying in bed trying to sleep. Some people get headaches with prolonged use, just use occasionally as needed. It tastes like dirty feet if you ask me… go the tincture route. (pictured)Valerian flowers
  6. Chaga: Studies have found this medicinal mushroom to help depression and mood balance. I’d recommend a tea form, used by boiling the dried chunks. With a bit of honey or maple syrup it has an enjoyable (non-mushroomy) flavor.
  7. Passionflower: Its gentle sedating effect calms unease, anxiety, and hyperactivity. This can be used as a tea or tincture.
  8. Chamomile: This delicious tea makes a great nerve tonic. Used for fretfulness, anxiety, and insomnia, and is a favorite of children. Avoid if you are allergic to ragweed.
  9. Linden flower: I prefer to drink this one- with a floral, delicate flavor when made into a tea, it’s a nervine that helps with mild stress, anxiety, and tension.


The “Maybe Milk Reducers”

The following herbs can be great for stress, but some mothers have reported a decrease in supply. If you try them, just be mindful and discontinue if you see an undesired decrease in milk production.


  1. Lavender (whole herb): Some sources say this is a galactagogue, some say it may decrease supply. As a member of the Lamiaceae (mint) family, I’d say just keep an eye on any changes. It helps to improve mood and calm stressful feelings. It’s best to use a small bunch of the dried or fresh plant in a tea.
  2. Lemon Balm : Called the “gladdening herb,” it is good for nervous agitation, stress, anxiety, hormone-related mood fluctuations, and insomnia. It’s mildly sedating and calms muscles. Another one of those controversial ones- some say it increases supply, some say it decreases… just be mindful. It can be used as a yummy citrusy tea or tincture.
  3. Catnip: An antispasmodic and nerve tonic to relieve stress and anxiety. Tea or tincture, and it grows wild in many areas.


Megan Normansell (Kerkhoff), CHC, AADP, CFH

Certified Holistic Practitioner/Holistic Nutrition/Herbalist/Wild Edibles Guide

Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more recipes and healthy living ideas!

Get Even Healthier!
Get the answers you’ve been searching for, and heal your body for good… naturally and holistically.  We have successfully helped thousands of people across the country live a healthier life than they ever could have imagined, and specialize in dozens of different health concerns. Curious? 
Schedule your complimentary consultation with me today! Read the incredible reviews we’ve received over the years here!     –    –    920-327-2221

(not intended as medical advice)

Copyright Megan Normansell 2018 All rights reserved. 

Super Immune Chaga Gummies

As we are entering “chaga season,” I thought I’d share one of my family’s favorite things to do with it- super immune chaga gummies!

For those unfamiliar, chaga is a potent medicinal mushroom that grows in the northwoods of Wisconsin. With hundreds of clinical studies behind it, it’s used for strengthening the immune system, balancing autoimmune disorders, fighting cancer and tumors, cholesterol, blood pressure, eczema, inflammation, and many more.

We first make the chaga tea from the dried chunks, then add maple syrup until nice & sweet. Then follow this recipe, simply substituting the elderberry syrup for chaga. Sometimes we will do half & half. They are delicious and help to keep away the colds & flu that are circulating this time of year!

My hand-harvested Wisconsin chaga to make this recipe is available here!


Megan Normansell (Kerkhoff), CHC, AADP, CFH

Certified Holistic Practitioner/Holistic Nutrition/Herbalist/Wild Edibles Guide

Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more recipes and healthy living ideas!

Get Even Healthier!
Get the answers you’ve been searching for, and heal your body for good… naturally and holistically. We have successfully helped thousands of people across the country live a healthier life than they ever could have imagined, and specialize in dozens of different health concerns. Curious? Schedule your complimentary consultation with me today! Read the incredible reviews we’ve received over the years here! – – 920-327-2221

Copyright Megan Normansell 2018 All rights reserved. 

Decadent Raw Chocolate Chia Pudding


Raw, unprocessed cacao is as healthy as it gets- and this is exactly what all chocolate starts out as. In its unprocessed form, it contains a plethora of nutrients that are lost during the processing into dark or milk chocolate. Not only are the candy bars you see today devoid of cacao’s nutrients, they have unhealthy additives like white sugar, artificial flavors, and trans fats added to them.

So why not get the benefits of the real stuff and make your own sweet treats? Raw cacao, usually sold as nibs or a ground into a powder, has some really powerful health benefits. According to studies published in “Journal of the American College of Cardiology” and the “Journal of Internal Medicine.”, it reduces your risk of stroke and heart attack. Cacao is rich in polyphenols, which serve as antioxidants and inhibit blood platelets from forming a clot. This superfood has been shown to lower your LDL (bad cholesterol) while raising your HDL (good cholesterol). It is rich in resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant, and phenethylamine, the “love” neurotransmitter, that boosts mood and libido. Cacao’s high chromium and coumarin content help to balance blood sugar, prevent diabetes, and promote weight loss. Do you ever get chocolate cravings? This could indicate a magnesium deficiency- add in some raw cacao to get your magnesium fix!

Decadent Raw Chocolate Chia Pudding


1 cup flax, macadamia or almond milk (or whatever you prefer!)

1/3 cup chia seeds (heaping)

1.5 tbsp maple syrup (grade B if possible)

1.5 tbsp raw cacao powder (I use this brand from Amazon)

¼ tsp real vanilla extract


In a small bowl, mix together the milk and chia seeds. Let sit for about 10-20 minutes, mixing occasionally, until it turns into a gel. Add in the maple syrup, cacao powder, and vanilla. Sprinkle with raw berries if desired. Serve cold and store leftovers in the refrigerator.

*Not a fan of chocolate? Hold the raw cacao and add a bit more vanilla and some fresh berries. (as pictured on right)


Megan Normansell, CHC, AADP, CFH

Certified Holistic Practitioner/Holistic Nutrition/Herbalist/Wild Edibles Guide

Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more recipes and healthy living ideas!

Get Even Healthier!
Get the answers you’ve been searching for, and heal your body for good… naturally and holistically.  We have successfully helped thousands of people across the country live a healthier life than they ever could have imagined, and specialize in dozens of different health concerns. Curious? 
Schedule your complimentary consultation with me today! Read the incredible reviews we’ve received over the years here!     –    –    920-327-2221

Copyright Megan Normansell 2018 All rights reserved.