lindsey Freeman, Author at ig2go

Why Fermented Foods are Good for Your Gut

You’ve probably heard at least once that fermented foods are good for your digestive tract. But have you ever explored the reasons why? We’re diving into those details today to answer your questions, and to figure out how fermented foods occur, and what benefits they actually offer to our digestive system.

What is Fermentation?

Fermenting foods is not new, in fact, it’s been around for thousands of years and is one of the earliest methods of food preservation. Fermentation is the process that happens when Microorganisms like bacteria and yeast are introduced to help break down some of the food’s components. Most often those components are Sugar or Glucose, and they are broken down into alcohol or acids.

Fermentation is able to preserve food because the microorganisms responsible for the fermentation end up overtaking and destroying any bad bacteria in the food would lead to food-borne illnesses. Any microorganisms that are left, are considered GOOD bacteria and are safe for consumption by humans. It’s important to note that although fermentation is relatively simple, proper fermentation does require specific safety steps in order to limit the chance of something going awry.

Fermentation is responsible for such delights as Wine, Beer, Liquor, Cheese, Sourdough, Yogurt, Etc. Each of these fermentation by-products requires specific steps and even different microorganisms to come out as intended.

Human Bodies and Fermentation

Fermentation happens in two main ways within the human body. The first is in our muscle cells. When our cells run out of their primary energy source, ATP, they start producing extra ATP through Lactic Acid Fermentation for more energy. If you’ve ever sprinted and experienced a stitch in your side, that’s most likely the build-up of this lactic acid being created by your muscle cells.

The second form of fermentation that our bodies go through is a huge part of our digestive process. Our guts are home to hundreds of different bacteria species, working in harmony with our digestive and immune systems to break down complex carbohydrates and aid in nutrient absorption. Our bodies rely on this gut biome to function properly and to help fend off any bad bacteria that make their way into our digestive tract. Each person’s biome is slightly different, ad those differences are dependent on the person’s environment, diet, and unique body needs and requirements.

How Fermented foods benefit the body

  1. Fermented food with a living population of good bacteria or yeast, also called “Probiotics”, help your body’s own gut biome maintain its balance. When a gut biome is lacking diversity, or when they are weak due to poor nutritional intake, it can lead to a number of health problems that affect your whole body. Symptoms can include inflammation, IBS, and leaky gut syndrome.
  2. Probiotics help with food digestion of complex carbs and synthesizing certain vitamins like B12 and vitamin K.
  3. Anti-biotics are incredibly useful for many health conditions, but even though they are intended to attack the bad bacteria, they can still wreak havoc on our healthy gut biome. Probiotics can help restore that good bacteria and keep our digestive system working smoothly.
  4. On top of that, your overall gut health is thought to be linked to so many other systems, including bladder health, oral care, plaque build-up, pain sensitivity, blood pressure and blood sugar, and even brain health.

What fermented foods should you be eating?

It’s important to remember that not all fermented foods are going to provide the same benefits. Wine, cheese, and sourdough may all involve fermentation, but the final products no longer contain any live probiotic cultures. If you’re looking to add some probiotics to your diet, we would suggest the following:

  1. Kefir – a fermented dairy drink, thinner than yogurt, and excellent with fresh berries.
  2. Yogurt with live cultures – again, make sure the yogurt you choose says it contains live cultures, as not all yogurt will.
  3. Kombucha – a fermented tea drink, fizzy, somewhat tart, but very refreshing.
  4. Tempeh – fermented soybeans that have been compressed into a cake or patty. Commonly uses as a vegan meat substitute.
  5. Miso – also made by fermenting soybeans, but is ground down to a past that can be used in soup or sauces.
  6. Kimchi – Korean fermented vegetables, commonly used as a condiment or side dish in Asian cuisine
  7. Sauerkraut – fermented cabbage from eastern European cuisine. Also used commonly as a condiment on a number of popular dishes.

Are fermented foods safe for everyone?

Fermented foods are generally considered safe for most people. Anyone with a Histamine Intolerance should, or anyone who is immuno-compromised should consult their doctor for individual guidance. And it’s also important to know where your fermented foods are coming from. It’s not safe to play with bacteria if you’re not sure what you’re doing. Proper fermentation requires sterile equipment and proper temperature control. Most commercially available fermented foods should be safe, but we highly recommend you follow a vetted recipe if you are attempting to ferment at home.

How much should you be eating?

There’s not really a right answer to this question. If you’re new to fermented foods, eating too much at once may lead to some uncomfortable bloating. A good place to start is a single serving per day for the first few weeks, and working up from there. Listen to your body, and talk to your doctor if anything doesn’t feel right. Every individual is different, and every probiotic stain is a little different. It may take time to find out what cultures benefit your body the most, and how often your gut really benefits from that extra boost.

Building the Perfect Grazing Board

Grazing boards, Charcuterie boards, and cheese boards have all hit massive levels of popularity over the past few years. And honestly, we can absolutely see why they’re so popular. When done well, they are beautiful additions or centerpieces for any table setting, they are fun for guests to snack on and explore new flavors, and they can be fully customizable to any theme, group size, or dietary preference. The best part; It’s not rocket science, and there’s no WRONG way to put a board together. Today we’re going to go over some helpful tips on how to get started.

Charcuterie VS Grazing Board. What’s the difference?

Great question. The word “charcuterie” comes from the French language, and signifies “a delicatessen specializing in dressed meats and meat dishes”. Nowadays, the word has evolved a lot to encompass both fine deli meats and cheeses, and in most cases, you’ll even see fruits, nuts, bread, and olives included in charcuterie boards. the main factor here is that a charcuterie board does usually signify that there is meat included. On the other hand, a “grazing” board can be much more versatile. Grazing boards may be entirely vegetarian, with a unique selection of roasted vegetables, pickles, and jams, or they can be entirely dessert based, with chocolates, fruits, or other sweets. A “grazing” board is simply a display of snack-able foods that guests can “graze” on casually.

Getting started: Serving platter and utensils.

The platter doesn’t have to be massive or ornate, something that you only use for special occasions. Just about ANY flat surface will work. Some ideas you may already have laying around the house:

  • Cutting board (wood, or otherwise)
  • Baking tray (the sides can be helpful in some cases
  • Breadboard
  • Marble pastry board
  • Large flat-ish serving platters (For instance, maybe that big plate used for serving the thanksgiving turkey)
  • Countertop (yup, right on the counter surface. Great if you don’t have to worry about transportation. We recommend putting a layer of parchment paper down for easy cleanup.)

For utensils, we love to include small bowls or jars for items like jams, honey, Olives, or even smaller nuts like pistachios. Be sure to include small spoons to give guests a way to scoop these items.

In general, we prefer to pre-cut anything that will be on the platter into bite-size pieces, but if there’s anything that’s meant to be spread, or that will need to be cut, be sure to include the necessary cheese knives for each of those items.

Lastly, if you don’t want guests to use their fingers, make sure you’re providing either toothpicks and/or a few sets of tongs instead.

What to include:

Because this is such an open question, we are going to outline a few shopping lists based on different themes/styles. As we stated in the beginning, there’s no wrong way to build a grazing board, and you should absolutely customize your board based on what you and your guests enjoy. For quantities, we like to go with about 2oz of each item per person as a rule of thumb (as an appetizer), enough for each person to try a little bit of everything. These examples should serve as a starting point for you to build off. Feel free to make it your own, and tag us if you decide to share it on social!

The Classic Charcuterie:

  • 3-5 types of thinly sliced delicatessen meats
  • 3-5 varieties of cheese (some soft, some hard)
  • 1-2 types of olives or pickles
  • 1-2 types of nuts (roasted or raw)
  • 3-4 types of crackers/crusty bread
  • 1-2 types of Fruits (usually grapes, apples, or pears)
  • 1-2 types of dried fruit (figs or apricots are a great option)
  • 1-2 options for jam or honey

 

The Veggie Table

  • 3-5 varieties of cheese (some soft, some hard)
  • 1-2 types of olives or pickles
  • 2-3 types of nuts (roasted or raw)
  • 3-4 types of crackers/crusty bread
  • 3-4 options for spreads/dips (this can include hummus, jams, tapenade, mustards, etc.)
  • 2-3 raw veggies (thinly sliced radishes, cucumbers, etc.)
  • 2-3 Cooked veggies (Roasted rep pepper, Roasted tomatoes, Butternut squash, etc)
  • 2-3 Fresh OR Dried fruit (Berries, grapes, etc.)

 

The Sweat Heat

This board can be a variation of either the Classic Charcuterie or the Veggie Table, but the focus is on the types of items you decide to include. Try to incorporate a mix of spicy and sweet. Some examples may include:

  • Peppered Salame
  • Hot Capocollo
  • Chorizo Serrano
  • Chipotle Gouda
  • Habanero Cheddar
  • Peperoncino peppers
  • Hot stone-ground mustard
  • Hot pepper honey
  • Blueberry goat cheese
  • Caramelized onion jam
  • Rosemary honey walnuts
  • Candied dried fruits
  • Baked brie topped with jam

 

The Dessert Lover

This is a sweet treat, and the possibilities are endless. We’re listing a few of our favorite items here that are easy to serve, and that look great on a grazing board

  • Yogurt covered pretzels
  • Chocolate dipped strawberries
  • Dark chocolate almond stars
  • Brownie bites
  • 1-2 types of cookies/wafers/ sweet biscuits
  • Nutella and jams for dipping
  • Fruits (yes, fruits are sweet and can definitely be included on your dessert board!)
  • 2-3 varieties of nuts (can be sweet or salty)
  • Whole honeycomb (a beautiful addition to any board)
  • Creamy cheese and crackers (optional, but can be nice if you want some more savory options mixed in on this board).

 

Putting it all together:

Arranging your board partially depends on how big your platter is, and how many guests you’re serving. In general, the different types of items you’re including should be evenly spaced out. That way all the cheese isn’t in one corner, and all the fruits in another. Unless of course, you’re making a very small board and there’s only one of each thing. But in general, we would recommend starting with one group of items and spacing them out across the board. Then move to the next category of items, and so on, and so on. It’s also helpful to place items that go well together next to each other. For instance, if you have Brie and pears on your board, maybe place those next to each other. But again, there’s no wrong way to arrange a board. Just keep three things in mind:

  • Create visual interest
  • Make sure each category of items is accessible from multiple sides of the board (so your guests don’t crowd around one corner)
  • Things that go well together, should be next to each other.

And there you have it! Your guide to creating the grazing board of your dreams. Remember that making a board should be a fun exploration of flavors, and you should tailor it to your needs. And grazing boards are an excellent way for you and your guests to try something new!

Be sure to check out our selection of serving boards, unique deli meats and cheeses, and artisanal goods. We rotate our selection often, so come back often to see what’s new. And if you ever need more assistance to craft your next board, our team is happy to help make recommendations.

 

 

Sugar, sweets, and sugar substitutes

Just a spoonful of sugar helps the…muscles and body experience a boost of energy, and then likely crash shortly afterward. You know it, we know it, we’ve all experienced a sugar crash once in our lives. Today we’re diving into the sweet stuff to figure out if we really need to be so concerned with sugar, how much we should be including in our diets, and some great sources of natural sugar and natural sugar substitutes.

First off, what is sugar?

When you hear the word “sugar” you probably envision the refined white sugar crystals we all know and love. That would be correct, but more specifically that sugar is called sucrose, and it is also a type of carbohydrate. There are many different types of carbohydrates/sugars, Including Sucrose (refined table sugar), Lactose (found in milk and dairy), Fructose (found in fruit), and Glucose the simplest form of sugar. When you consume ANY carbohydrate, your body breaks it down into glucose, which then enters the bloodstream and provides energy to every cell in your body. Without glucose, your body’s primary functions can’t do their job, and this can quickly lead to life-threatening complications.

So needless to say, sugar is an important part of a functioning diet. That being said, not all forms of sugar are created equal.

As we mentioned, glucose is the simplest form of sugar your body can process. Your body doesn’t have to expend any extra energy to get it into the bloodstream. But the more complex the sugars and carbohydrates get, the more energy it takes to break them down into the basic building block of glucose. This is why you hear so many nutritionists vouch for “Complex Carbs”. These carbs are long complicated chains of molecules that take energy and time to break down. Complex carbs are found naturally in most whole plant foods we consume, such as beans, grains, vegetables, and fruits. So although we don’t usually think of grains, or vegetables as being “sugary” or “sweet”, they actually contain sugars, and you can meet your daily glucose requirements by eating these whole foods. the length of time it takes to break the foods down into glucose also helps mitigate the sugar crash. Rather than your body accessing a bunch of glucose (energy) all at once, that same amount of glucose is slowly released into the bloodstream over a longer stretch of time, providing a stable and consistent flow of energy to the body.

Why is sugar sweet?

So we’ve determined what sugar is, and how important sugar is to a healthy and happy body. And we can see that we don’t need refined simple sugar to meet our body’s needs. But our attachment to sugar goes beyond just our desire to fuel our bodies. There’s something about simple sugars specifically that our taste buds tend to get really attached to. So what makes refined sugar “sweet”?

The sweetness of refined sugar is the result of a chemical interaction between the sugar molecules and the taste receptor cells in our mouths. That specific chemical reaction creates a signal in our nervous system that tells our brain we are experiencing something “sweet”. Studies have shown that our brains are wired to release certain chemicals, such as Serotonin when we consume something sweet. Some theorize this is because it was a high-value food that was beneficial to seek out as humans were evolving before it became such a huge and easily accessible commodity. Either way, there are a number of reasons your body can crave sweet things, including:

  • Mineral deficiencies
  • Blood sugar imbalance
  • Nostalgia and triggered memories
  • Cultural norms and routines

Although we are huge supporters of listening to your body, giving into these cravings too often can be detrimental to your health. Sugar is necessary, but too much of anything is rarely a good idea. If you feel that you are craving sugar more often than normal, it would probably help to talk to a doctor or nutritionist about it, and dig a little deeper in case there is an underlying reason for it.

Sugar Substitutes

The good news is that there are some great sugar substitutes available that we can use in place of table sugar when we’re craving something sweet. Some of our favorites that we use in our recipes are:

  • Xylitol – A natural sugar alcohol found in many fruits and vegetables and contains about 1/2 or 1/4 fewer calories than table sugar. Although this is still technically refined sugar, it doesn’t raise blood sugar levels so it doesn’t count towards ‘Net Carbs’ from a nutrition standpoint. Xylitol also reduces levels of decay-causing bacteria in [saliva](http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/what-is-saliva), so it doesn’t cause the same tooth decay that table sugar does.
  • Monk fruit – Another natural sugar extracted from a small round fruit native to Southern China. The extract can be 150-200 times sweeter than table sugar, so less is needed when you are using this as a replacement in a recipe. Monk fruit sweeteners are made of compounds called mogrosides, which aren’t digested in the upper gastrointestinal tract, so it has no caloric value.
  • Agave – Agave is often sold as a thick syrup or nectar, and comes from the Agave plant native to Latin America. Agave is primarily fructose, and although it provides a wonderful sweet flavor, fructose doesn’t raise blood sugar levels. It is important to note that your liver can get overloaded if you consume too much fructose, so as with everything it’s still important to moderate how much agave you consume.
  • Honey – Likely the most well-known sweetener on this list, honey is produced naturally by bees and has many health benefits that make it a good substitute for table sugar. Although honey is primarily Sucrose, it also contains trace amounts of other minerals and antioxidants Honey also has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, while at the same promoting the health of good bacteria in the digestive tract.

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, you need some form of sugar to function, but it’s best to limit refined table sugar, and hidden simple sugars in heavily processed foods. We love each of our listed sugar substitutes for different reasons, and they all have a specific purpose in our recipes. It is important to pay attention to what you eat, but it’s also important to enjoy it. Life should be sweet! and we hope this deep dive into sugar has inspired to you appreciate what sugar and carbs provide for our bodies, and we hope we’ve inspired you to explore some sugar substitutes for your own sweet recipes.

Not all Gluten Intolerance is the Same

“Gluten intolerance”, “Gluten allergy”, “Celiac”, and “gluten sensitive”, you’ve probably heard all of these before but what do these terms mean, and what’s the difference?

Although the majority of people digest and process gluten with no problem, about 6% of the US population has some form of intolerance to gluten. And by intolerance, we mean that the body has an adverse immune response when gluten is ingested. But just like everything else, no body is the same, and everyone who lives with gluten intolerance experiences different levels of sensitivity.

We are going to demystify and de-stigmatize these different levels of gluten intolerance, and offer some tips to be more accommodating to gluten intolerant guests and people in your life.

 

One of the most severe forms of this immune response is Celiac disease. Effecting only about 1% of the population, symptoms of Celiac disease can be very difficult to manage without taking steps to minimize exposure to gluten. Most symptoms stem outwardly from an immune response that causes the body to attack the digestive tract when gluten has been ingested. This causes a cascading set of symptoms in other bodily symptoms such as:

  • Anemia
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Diarrhea and constipation

 

The second most severe form of Gluten sensitivity is Gluten Ataxia. Like Celiac disease, this is also an immune response that causes the body to attack your brain an neurological system when gluten is ingested. Although Gluten Ataxia is pretty rare, it is nonetheless very serious.

 

For some people, the immune response may not be as strong and aggressive. These people are considered to be “gluten intolerant”. Symptoms may not be as severe, and they may not be as sensitive to trace amounts of gluten as those with Celiac would be. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect their day-to-day lives, and that they shouldn’t still be careful. For people with gluten intolerance, symptoms might include:

  • Bloating or stomach pain
  • Diarrhea and constipation
  • Headaches or brain fog
  • Depression and anxiety

 

Last but not least, some people may not be sensitive to gluten specifically, but they could be allergic to wheat. This is more commonly seen in children under the age of 12, and only about 35% of children don’t grow out of the allergy as they get older. A wheat allergy causes symptoms similar to other allergic reactions, such as:

  • Skin rashes
  • digestive issues
  • Nasal congestion and Anaphylaxis

 

All that being said, gluten sensitivity is a serious condition that shouldn’t be taken lightly. It is important to understand that gluten-sensitive people do not have a choice in how their body decides to respond, and they have every reason to be cautious and proactive when it comes to what they eat when they are not cooking for themselves. Gluten is a sneaky food, that can often hide in unexpected places, such as soy sauce, deli meats, and even some flavored potato chips.

 

If you have a gluten-sensitive person in your life, you’re likely familiar with the steps you should take to prevent gluten contamination between foods. If you don’t, and accommodating a gluten intolerant guest is new to you, some of our top recommendations would be:

  • use separate, clean utensils when preparing or serving gluten-free foods
  • use separate serving dishes for gluten-free foods
  • substiture gluten-free ingredients to modify a recipe when needed. there are tons of amazing options available today.
  • Cook from scratch when possible
  • Read the ingredient labels thoroughly
  • Talk to the gluten-sensitive person to understand what their preferences are and learn from their experiences directly.

 

A Word From IG

At IG, we understand how important it is for our gluten-free customers to have options, and to trust the food that they buy is truly gluten-free if it’s labeled that way. We are strong supporters of our gluten-free community in Tampa, and we work diligently to provide a wide variety of Gluten free baked goods and dishes. Our recipes are the result of years of trial and error because we believe that just because a cupcake is gluten-free, that doesn’t mean it can’t still be delicious. Everyone deserves to eat what they love, and love what they eat.

Feeling creatively jammed in the kitchen? Give these Jam recipes a try!

If you’re like most people, jam may only show up for you on the occasional PB&J, or on a thick slice of breakfast toast or biscuit. But like many ingredients, jam offers a lot more versatility than it gets credit for.

One of our favorites by far is this bottom-of-the-jam jar vinaigrette. Not only does it make use of every last drop of jammy goodness, but it’s a great easy way to add new flavors to even the simplest of salads and greens.

 

Bottom of the Jar Vinaigrette

  • 1 rounded tablespoon of IG Jam – scrape the bottom of the jar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon or spicy mustard
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Use with:

  • 8 cups chopped greens and any vegetables
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. To the bottom of an almost-empty jam jar, add the other ingredients and shake to combine. Or, whisk together all the ingredients in a salad bowl, streaming in the EVOO.
2. Toss with lettuce and vegetables and season with salt and pepper.

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Need some more fun jam ideas? Give these a try:

 

  •  Add some to a pan sauce for meat – It not only helps thicken it, it adds sweetness and flavor. Try stone fruit jam like our plum jam with red wine as a pan sauce for steak or pork chops.

 

  • Whip up the ultimate grilled cheese – Jam + melted cheese + golden, toasted bread. (It’s the jam that makes it ultimate.) Staff favorite: our own IG strawberry onion bacon jam

 

  • Top your pancakes – Turn jam into syrup instantly by boiling it with a bit of water. (Sayonara, maple syrup!)

 

  • Serve it alongside cheese – Oh you thought your cheese plates were already fancy? You haven’t even seen fancy until you’ve put a cute jar of jam on the plate.

 

  • Make flavored chocolate – Stir a spoonful of jam into warm ganache and pour it over cakes. Or refrigerate until firm and use it as a filling for French macarons.

 

  • Make better biscuits – Instead of slathering your biscuits with jam, bake jam right into the biscuit.

 

  • Make your own fruit-flavored yogurt – Spoon some jam into a bowl. Top with plain yogurt. Call it fruit-on-the-bottom.

 

  • Bake up some Brie, and top it with your favorite jam – The best part is, you can use any jam for this, fruity and sweet, a savory caramelized onion jam, or if you’re into it, try a jam with a little kick to it. Any option goes well with the warm brie and some slices of fresh crusty bread.

 

  • Spruce up a nice cocktail -Jam is a wonderful addition to your bar. Similar to flavored syrups, but with more body. Try some raspberry jam, vodka, Club soda and a lemon slice for a super refreshing summer cocktail.

 

  • Top off some vanilla ice cream – need we say more?

 

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Tag us in your creations! We’d love to see what you come up with. Share you jam dishes with us by tagging @IntelligentGourmet on Instagram and Facebook.

Creating Wellness by Cultivating Your Space

If you’ve been with us for a while, you know our philosophy on wellness extends beyond just nutrition and good food. Whole-body wellness includes your mental well-being, moving your body, and feeling safe and nurtured in the spaces you spend the most time. Given the state of the news, we thought this week might be a good time to reflect on some ways you can focus on that last point. Here are some ways you can rest and heal your spirit through clearing your space so you can step into each day with a centered mind and powerful intentions.

The importance of your space.

Your space does not necessarily mean your home, your room, or your living area. Your space is an area that you claim as your sanctuary, where you have the room you need to breathe, relax, and express yourself fully. Maybe this is just your desk, maybe it’s your patio, a garden, or even a moment alone in your car on your morning commute.

Often times the rooms and spaces we spend the most time in are both reflections of our inner wellbeing, and hold influence over our inner dialogue and moods. By respecting these spaces, you are also respecting yourself.

Clutter and organization

A ‘perfect’ space looks different to everyone, but I think something we all share is that cleanliness and our preferred methods of organization matter a lot. And sure, it’s common sense that keeping your space clean is important for a number of good reasons. By keeping your space physically clean, you are allowing more freedom of movement and fewer visual distractions. This allows you to focus more on cultivating the things you care about.

You may not notice a little clutter, but when you stop paying attention, it starts to add up. Soon enough, you’re having trouble finding the things you need or things may be in the way when you’re trying to do the things you need to do. But this physical clutter leads to mental clutter as well. Subconsciously you’re spending mental energy to work around the clutter.

Get in the habit of taking that extra 5 seconds or 5 minutes to tidy up every day. Make your bed, pick up the clothes around the hamper, wipe the counters, clean out the trash from your car, and throw out or file any papers taking up room on your desk. These

Leaves to lift you up

Adding a little greenery to your spaces can do wonders for improving your mood, especially if you don’t have regular access to outdoor public green spaces such as parks or gardens. Not only have house plants been shown to reduce stress and improve focus, but they also literally help to purify the air around them. And it’s not just the leaves that are responsible for this, the microorganisms in the soil play an important role in removing airborne volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

If you do decide to purchase houseplants to freshen the air naturally, these are several of the species shownTrusted Source to be most effective:

  • Areca, lady, dwarf date, and bamboo palms
  • Boston fern
  • Rubber tree
  • Spider plant
  • Ficus tree

Energetic clearing

Maintaining your energetic peace is possibly the most important item on this list. Cleaning your space, and investing in some greenery can certainly make it easier to balance your energy, but sometimes you need to take it a step further.

Negative energy can settle in a room, or space, like a fog that clouds your vision, and your thoughts, and it can consume your mental focus to the point where you don’t even feel like yourself anymore.

One of the most common ways to clean your space energetically is to ‘smudge’, or burn medicinal herbs. This tradition stems from the Indigenous cultures of North America, but similar practices can be found in many places around the world. Dried white sage bundles, often called “Smudge sticks” are a common herb to use for this practice. But other herbs or flowers can be added such as lavender, Rose petals, or Rosemary for added benefits. Recent studies have found evidence that burning certain herbs can improve air quality. Beyond just clearing out bad energy, it actually purifies the air. Smudging with Palo Santo sticks and essential oil sprays are also common ways to clear out negative energy and help to purify a space.

We feel it’s important to note that WHERE you get your Smudge sticks and Palo Santo matters. The popularity of these practices has led to mass production and unethical harvesting of these plants. Be sure the items you buy are sourced sustainably, or purchase them directly from First Nation’s people who use sustainable practices.

How to smudge

  1. To burn a smudge stick just light the tip
  2. Blow it out and either wave in air or place in a glass or metal container (one that will not burn) with sand or salt placed therein to hold the smudge bundle upright.
  3. Then wave the smoke around whatever it is you’d like to purify. A feather or group of feathers is a traditional way to do this.
  4. As the smoke moves around and up to the sky, imagine releasing whatever is not in your best interests. Let it go on the smoke. The sacred smoke will take these energies back to the Source, where they will be transformed into positive energy again.
  5. To extinguish, invert smudge into the sand or salt to smother. Smudges put out a lot of soothing smoke.

If you’re interested in adding smudging to your wellness routine, we offer a selection of smudge sticks, herbs, and Palo Santo in our store. We encourage you to stop by and pick one that suits your needs best.


As a woman-owned business, our heart goes out to all of the women that are, and the generations of women that will be effected by the recent news. We urge you to take time to care for yourself this week and reflect on ways you can still take ownership of your wellbeing and your energy. When we take action from a centered mind, we allow ourselves to use all of our power and energy as a singular focus. We believe It’s important in these times to cultivate a community that supports one another, and connect with each other so we can work towards solutions for a brighter and more equitable future.

Should You Worry About Hormones In Your Food?

Hormones are chemicals that our bodies produce to regulate the activity of cells. Hormones are also found naturally in food and balancing our hormones is an important part of managing our mood, metabolism, and sleep patterns.

Some of the most important hormones are estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Estrogen is the hormone that regulates the menstrual cycle and helps to maintain a woman’s bone density. It also has some role in brain development, mood, and memory. Progesterone is necessary for maintaining pregnancy and for regulating the menstrual cycle. Testosterone is responsible for male sexual characteristics and muscle development.

Vegetables contain estrogen-like compounds called phytoestrogens, which are plant-based sources of estrogen that mimic its effects in the body. Soybeans are a major source of phytoestrogens in our diets; they contain compounds called isoflavones that bind to estrogen receptors on cells throughout our bodies.

However, not all hormones are created equal. Many are hesitant to eat food that has been artificially modified, or injected with hormones.

The use of hormones in cows has been a controversial topic for decades now, with the main reason being that they are used at low levels to increase milk production. It has been shown that these hormones are safe and effective in increasing milk production, which makes them a good option for farmers looking to maximize their profit margins. The use of hormones in cows has been banned in Europe since 1989. Despite that, the US is one of the few countries that still allows it.

However, it has been found that these hormones can increase the risk of cancer in humans.

A study was done on over 13,000 women who were breast cancer survivors and the results showed that those who consumed high amounts of hormone-treated milk had a higher risk of breast cancer recurrence.

As for Chicken and Pork, is it illegal to use growth hormones within the US. Therefore, the claim “no hormones added” cannot be used on the labels of pork or poultry unless it is followed by a statement that says “Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones.”

Soy, which is naturally high in estrogen, has also been the subject of much research and study, with the majority of studies indicating that soy consumption has a positive effect on health.

A study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that soy consumption is associated with a lower risk of heart disease. Another study found that soy consumption is associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer.

So what’s the verdict, are hormones in food good or bad?

Our answer is complicated. We certainly think naturally occurring hormones are unavoidable, as almost every food has some trace amount of hormones. But artificially injected hormones may not be the healthiest solution for our bodies, the animals, or our ecosystem as a whole. The best solution is still to stick to organic, hormone-free, and sustainably raised livestock.

We take all of this into consideration when we curate our recipes, or stock our grab-and-go coolers. At Intelligent Gourmet, we always use Free-range, Organic, Hormone-free, and Locally sourced ingredients whenever possible. From our prepared-to-order dishes to our standard provisions including organic eggs, butter, milk, and plant-based milk alternatives, we value the quality of the options we provide because we believe they taste better and are better for us.