Tag Archives: amino acids

Activism Healthy Living Healthy Meat Real Food

Real Food Money Saving Tips: Chicken Thighs and Drumsticks for Stock


Want to make chicken stock but don’t think you can afford good quality chicken? Buy chicken thighs (bone-in) and drumsticks. These pieces are quite inexpensive. Conventional health tells us to avoid dark and red meat. So over the last few decades, meat producers in the U.S. have put a premium on white meat – which is actually the least healthful. Dark meat is actually better for you to eat because it contains more of those all important nutrients found in poultry (see below). If you can get your hands on chicken organ meats, those are also cheap, and extremely nutrient-dense to use in soups, stews, casseroles, and any other dish which has a lot of ingredients in it (think hiding the organ meats in these meals).

Once you have let your bones soak for an hour or so in filtered water with a splash of apple cider vinegar, add in all your other ingredients: butter or ghee, onions, carrots, celery, salt, pepper, and any seasonings you like. I frequently use any combination of the following: parsley, thyme, sage, marjoram, oregano, or basil. Here’s a post about making bone broth.

If you are feeling adventurous, find a farmer who will give you or sell you some chicken feet. Yes, chicken feet. These are incredibly cheap and fantastically abundant in minerals, amino acids, gelatin, and collagen – which helps your whole body and especially your skin, eyes, and bones.  You can add these into any chicken stock after cleaning them and clipping off the nails. Some people don’t clip them off, but I do since toxins can collect in them (such as arsenic).

Is all chicken created equal?

Unfortunately, no. You will get the most nutrition from chickens (or any poultry) raised on pasture, without antibiotics or feeds which alter their nutritional composition such as corn, and grain (and are likely to be sourced from GMO – genetically modified organisms). You are also going to get 3-5 times the amount of nutrients like CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), Omega 3 essential fatty acids, and fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.  Read this informative article from Eat Wild to learn more about the benefits of grass-fed and pasture-raised.

Sources for chicken:

Ideal - pasture-raised direct from the farm – may also be organic (ask local farmers or go to your farmer’s market) see this post about deciphering egg and poultry labels
Better - Pasture-raised chickens from local grocery or health food store – may also be organic
Acceptable - commercial and grocery store organic, “cage-free”, or “free-range”, omega-3 chickens. Many of these are also raised on feedlot premises, but may be antibiotic-and chemical (pesticides) free.
Avoid – conventional poultry from the grocery store which likely is raised on a feedlot, usually administered antibiotics, usually exposed to pesticides/herbicides, and most often given corn, soy, and grain as main source of feed.

Deciphering egg and poultry labels
More money-saving tips:
Waste not, want not: tips for saving in the kitchen
3 tips for eating organic on a budget
Proof that real food doesn’t have to cost a bundle, is nourishing, and satisfies!
Food budgets- using creativity and prioritizing for healthy eating

This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday Blog Hop, hosted this week by Sustainable Eats

Activism Alternative Medicine Green Living Guest Posts Real Food

Low on Energy? Maybe You’re Low on Tyrosine! From The Nourished Life


To mark our 4-year anniversary and 200th post, I am featuring a guest post today from one of my favorite writers, Elizabeth Walling and her web site, The Nourished Life. Elizabeth has great information about natural living and nourishing our bodies through real food and nutrition.

She also offers great tips about reducing stress, exercise, keeping toxins out of your body, and much more. What you’ll consistently find on her site is a great offering of research & personal experience on useful topics that can help you take incremental steps to take toward getting your body back on track and becoming healthy again.

I’ve been reading both The Mood Cure and The Diet Cure by Julia Ross and it has a lot of great information in it about lifting your moods naturally using real food and real food supplementation. I’m still getting acquainted with the amino acid component of health; it’s such an important part of keeping your body feeling good and running optimally. Here is a good overview of the amino acid tyrosine and how it can profoundly affect your energy levels and health.


Did you ever wake up and wonder where all your energy has gone? If life has you hitting the snooze button every morning, you may have a biochemical deficiency that’s sapping your energy, destroying your concentration and smothering your vivacity. The good news is that this deficiency can be easily corrected with the right nutritional therapy.

The Catecholamine Connection

The body produces a group of catecholamines which help you feel focused and energized. These are dopamine, adrenaline and norepinephrine. When you’ve got plenty of catecholamines floating around, nothing feels out of your reach and it’s easy to be optimistic. The trouble happens a) when you’re not providing the body with the raw material to produce these catecholamines and b) when you’re using up these biochemicals faster than your body can produce them. Then suddenly you have to drag yourself out of bed and don’t feel alive until you’ve had your morning coffee. In general you just kind of feel… flat.

Typically people low on catecholamines turn to stimulants like caffeine, chocolate and nicotine to boost their energy. But this can backfire quickly by causing your body to use up more catecholamines than it can produce. Eventually this can lead to burnout, when no matter how many coffee cups you drink, you can’t bring back your former focus and energy. If you’re constantly exhausted and listless, it’s time to start addressing this at a nutritional level.

Where Tyrosine Comes In

Supplementing with the amino acid tyrosine can prove immensely helpful in conquering these symptoms. Tyrosine is used by the body to make catecholamines, as well as other important hormones produced by the adrenal glands and endorphin-like chemicals that provide us with a sense of well-being.

Tyrosine also plays another important role in energy regulation: it fuels the thyroid hormones. The thyroid gland uses tyrosine to make the hormones T3 and T4. It’s no surprise that low tyrosine levels are common in people with poor thyroid function. Supplementing with tyrosine is often effective for eliminating symptoms of low thyroid function.

Research has demonstrated the power of tyrosine. Studies have shown that tyrosine can:

  • Reverse the side effects of acute stress (such as in military subjects)
  • Improve concentration and focus
  • Treat symptoms associated with depression

In everyday terms, tyrosine can naturally help bring back the outgoing, energetic version of yourself.

My Own Experience With Tyrosine

I’ve used amino acid therapy in the past with great results, but tyrosine never did the trick for me. Recently I’ve felt a little off and I decided to take the Mood Cure questionnaire again. Surprise, surprise! I scored pretty bad on the “Blasting the Blahs” section. So, along with keeping my protein intake up, I tried taking tyrosine again. I started with two 500 mg capsules twice a day and have since moved up to three times per day (early morning, mid-morning and mid-afternoon).

Because I never noticed a big difference before, I wasn’t expecting much from this. But let me tell you: the change was obvious this time! It got me right out of this procrastination slump I’ve been in. I’ve been quicker to answer emails, return phone calls, do the dishes and do all of the other daily tasks that were beginning to seem insurmountable.

I noticed I’m more willing to take on projects around the house now. For example, after spending three hours in the city stocking up on real food the other day, I came home to realize my pantry was a wreck and needed to be revamped before I could store my new groceries. Normally this is an obstacle that would leave me exhausted just thinking about it. Instead, I hopped right to it and had my pantry organized and restocked within an hour. The whole time I was thinking, “Wow, I can’t believe I actually have the energy to do this!”

I’ve spent the last few weeks thinking I needed some more willpower. I thought it was a matter of buckling down and making myself get things done, but now I suddenly find I’m having no problem being motivated and enthusiastic about my responsibilities. I didn’t need willpower – I needed nutritional therapy!

Tips for Taking Tyrosine

  • No supplement can take the place of a healthy diet and lifestyle. Use tyrosine as a way to facilitate healing and give you the energy you need to make other positive changes in your life.
  • As with any amino acid, take tyrosine at least 15 minutes before a meal and at least 90 minutes after. Otherwise, the protein from your meal will compete with tyrosine and you may not get the same effect.
  • Always start with the smallest dose (one 500 mg capsule at a time) and work up to the dosage that gives you the desired benefits. Most people find two capsules at a time are plenty, though this dosage may need to be taken 2-3 times throughout the day. Since tyrosine can keep you awake, don’t take it before bed.
  • Taking too much tyrosine can make you feel jittery or agitated. It can also trigger headaches or migraines in sensitive individuals. Over time, as deficiencies are corrected, lower your dosage as needed to avoid taking to much.
  • Consult with a physician before taking tyrosine if you are taking an MAO inhibitor, have manic depression, have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, hyperthyroidism, melanoma or high blood sugar.

Best bets for tyrosine supplements: capsule or powder form (as opposed to tablets which are difficult to digest), use a 500 mg dosage since anything higher might be too much, and of course choose a supplement with as few additives as possible.

Julia Ross recommends NOW True Focus, a product which combines tyrosine with phenylalanine.

For more great information about health, nutrition, and feeding your body well, visit Elizabeth over at The Nourished Life.

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