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Connie's Favorites of 2023

This was our 8th annual Connie's Favorites class! Every year, I sit down and think about what stood out to me over the last year and pick my top 10 favorites! Here is the list for 2023:

1. Adaptive Cacao from Roots Apothecary

Mushroom & adaptogen powerhouse. Daily superfood drink. 

Adaptive Cacao is a lovely blend of superfoods that make the perfect drink for the winter season! We truly adore this brand and have thoroughly enjoyed their products. Stop out to the Shoppe to try it yourself!

A balanced and uniquely powerful blend of antioxidant-rich cacao, MCT, authentic mushroom extracts, adaptogens, prebiotic fiber, and trace minerals. Adaptive cacao blends have a wide range of holistic benefits with rich & powerful anti-oxidants, prebiotic fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Authentic chaga is one of the most powerful antioxidants in the world with an orac rating of 52,000 and is known for improving immune response and balancing inflammation. Ashwagandha & reishi are some of the most fundamentally beneficial remedies on the planet with powerful immune boosting and stress-balancing properties that strengthen your body’s ability to heal itself. Cordyceps and lion’s mane energize the mind and body for endurance and resilience to conquer life’s many challenges. Roots apothecary adaptive cacao is the ultimate holistic combination for overall mental and physical health.

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2. Adaptive Cacao Latte

This healthy latte is a show-stopper! Plus, no need to feel guilty for this yummy treat.

  • 1 can of pure coconut milk

  • 10 oz. freshly brewed coffee

  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 1 tablespoon adaptive cacao

  • 1 scoop of whole body collagen

  • 1 scoop of whole beauty collagen

Heat coconut milk in a pan over the stove until warm. Add all ingredients to the blender. Blend in blender until frothy. Serve immediately. Top with whipped cream if desired.

Why add collagen to the latte?

  • Whole Body Collagen contains a unique blend of three patented collagen peptides supported by clinical research showing their efficacy for supporting collagen production, bone strength, joint health and integrity, skin elasticity, and more.* Collagen is a special type of protein that accounts for as much as 30% of the body’s total protein. In particular, it’s a primary structural component of connective tissue. The amino acid composition of dietary collagens are very similar to those in human collagens, making dietary collagen peptides ideal for supporting normal body collagen turnover and renewal. Many individuals — the elderly, in particular — do not consume adequate protein. Even among those with a higher protein intake, the richest sources of collagen — animal skins, bone broth, and tendons — are not typically part of the modern Western diet. Whole Body Collagen can be incorporated into shakes, smoothies, and other foods and beverages, making it convenient to ensure the adequate intake of collagen’s unique amino acids.

  • Whole Beauty Collagen™ is a convenient, once-daily powder that uniquely combines key nutrients for radiant hair, skin, and nails.* It features hydrolyzed collagen peptides and Lustriva®, a patented, clinically researched blend of stabilized biotin and silica. Evidence suggests that Lustriva® may help promote hair fullness, optimal skin texture, and nail strength.* The magnesium biotinate found in Whole Beauty Collagen™ may have 40 times greater dissolvability and absorption than the biotin used in common beauty products.

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

3. Sted Foods -- Minnesota Made Chocolate

Sted Foods has the most wonderfully crafted chocolate and maple toffee! This is a must-buy at the Shoppe!

Sted Foods was founded in 2013 by husband-and-wife team Josh and Kristin Mohagen as Terroir Chocolate. Sted Foods focuses on where the ingredients are sourced from, where they make the chocolate, and where people can enjoy it. It’s all organic. Bean-to-bar chocolate makers are few and far between in Minnesota, and Sted Foods was among the first.

“Our chocolate is very taste-forward. It’s been great to see people experience a totally different type of chocolate...A bar like this is heavy on cacao, and the cacao itself has more flavor to begin with—it’s an interesting, lovely flavor, even without sugar.”

Minnesota flavors are also combined with cacao in the Caramel Crack bar, which features toffee made with Minnesota-produced maple syrup. Other bestselling bars include Mint Mocha, Almond Maple Brittle, and French Grey Sea Salt.

4. B Vitamins

B vitamins made the top favorite items because they do so much for the body! A few symptoms that show you may be low in B vitamins include fatigue, irritability, cracks in the corners of the mouth, scaly skin, muscle weakness, scaly rash, red tongue, anemia, paleness, weakness, shortness of breath, and more.

Here is our favorite B vitamin supplement:

B-Supreme is a powerful combination of B vitamins supplied mostly in their coenzymated forms, so that the body does not have to phosphorylate them to be used in biochemical reactions. This formula also includes the patented folate derivative Quatrefolic®, which is an innovative form of folate that has demonstrated high bioavailability, solubility, and long-lasting stability. Trimethylglycine (TMG) and choline are also included to support methylation.

5. Castor Oil from Pranarom

Castor oil was such a popular item this year and we just had to include it for the 2023 favorites! Pranrom offers top-quality products and we absolutely their castor oil!! Stop in the Shoppe and try it for yourself.

Ricinus communis 

Composition at a glance: High in ricinoleic acid. Vitamin E, omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids, and minerals including iron, zinc, and magnesium.

Color & texture: Clear, thick & sticky.

Smell: Subtly nut-like neutral aroma. 

About: Our certified organic, cold-pressed castor oil promotes healthy hair, strong nails and healthy skin. The oil also has a long history of use in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) for creating castor packs to support digestion, lymphatic drainage, liver function & more. Packaged in glass & hexane-free. 

For hair and scalp: Use as a pre-shampoo treatment, smoothing the castor oil over your hair from the roots to the ends. For fine hair, leave in for 20 minutes. For thicker, coarser textured hair, leave in overnight. Use fingers or a wooden brush to massage into the scalp.

For nails: Massage a drop of castor oil into each nail bed and allow to absorb overnight. 

Skincare: Warm several drops between your palms and smooth over your skin. If castor oil’s thick texture is too heavy for your skin, try blending with another cold-pressed plant oil. 

Possible uses of Castor Oil:

  • Deep facial cleanser, removes makeup, soothes sensitive skin, helpful for acne

  • Antibacterial & antimicrobial – doesn’t strip the good bacteria from the skin

  • Reduces wrinkles

  • Anti-inflammatory properties

  • Moisturizer, reduces stretch marks

  • Promotes hair growth, helps with dandruff

  • May help with arthritis, joints, and muscles topically

  • Antifungal

  • Promotes lymphatic drainage

  • Dilates the bile ducts and thins bile, gallbladder inflammation

6. Herb of the Year: Nettle

Every year we like to include a favorite herb, this year we chose nettle because it can benefit almost anyone! We love it as a tea, tincture, or wild edible.

Primary Uses: This amazing plant supports, strengthens, and alkalizes the whole body. Traditionally used as a spring tonic for damp and cold conditions. It acts as a general detoxifier, supports anemia, improves kidney function, and breaks up uric acid crystals causing gout. A well-known remedy for allergies, asthma, and hay fever especially if it has a “stinging sensation“ with a runny nose and teary eyes. Also, supports healthy teeth, bones, and hair.

Rich in protein, dietary fiber, vitamin A and C, many bio-available minerals including calcium, potassium, iron, boron, zinc, cobalt, copper, silicon.

Alterative | Antihistamine | Astringent | Diuretic | Expectorant | Galactagogue | Hemostatic | Hypotensive | Kidney/Adrenal Tropho-restorative | Nutritive | Tonic

7. Gnat and Bee -- Bath bomb

Bath bombs with good ingredients for the perfect self-care gift!! Stop in the Shoppe to grab some today!

  • Centering & sensual bath bombs that help reduce anxiety & focus your energy. A sweet and fruity blend with pink grapefruit & a hint of earthy patchouli. Perfect for a sexy, relaxing & meditative bath. Nourish, moisturize & center your body with these fizzies during your bath rituals.

    • Ingredients: Baking soda, citric acid, cornstarch, epsom salt, sunflower oil, witch hazel, pink clay, essential oils: pink grapefruit & patchouli. Botanicals: rose

  • Nourishing bath bombs with oatmeal, honey & vanilla for soft and hydrated skin. Nourish, moisturize & center your body with these fizzies during your bath rituals. 

    • Ingredients: Baking soda, citric acid, cornstarch, epsom salt, sunflower oil, oatmeal, granulated honey, vanilla essence

  • Respiratory & Allergy support. Eucalyptus & peppermint. Perfect for clearing congestion, comfort during sickness, or an anytime refresher. Nourish, moisturize & refresh your body with these refreshing fizzies during your bath rituals. 

    • Ingredients: Baking soda, citric acid, cornstarch, epsom salt, sunflower oil, spirulina, essential oils: Eucalyptus & peppermint. Botanicals: chamomile & peppermint

8. Lemon Balm Infused Vinegar

Lemon Balm is a superlative for anxiety or panic attacks to uplift and soothe the nerves and thus lift depression. Calms and soothes nervous stomach, colic, colitis, nausea, and vomiting. PMS symptom relief includes relaxing spasms that cause menstrual pain, irritability, and depression. Supports relaxation and strengthening of the uterus during childbirth. Relieves pain and spasms in the kidneys and urinary system.

Anti-depressive, Antiseptic, Antispasmodic, Antiviral, Antimicrobial, Carminative, Diaphoretic, Emmenagogue, Hepatic, Hypotensive, Nervine, Sedative, Stomatic

Possible benefits of Vinegar:

  • Reduces sinus infections and sore throats

  • Balance high cholesterol

  • Alleviate skin conditions such as acne

  • Protect against food poisoning

  • Fight allergies in both humans and animals

  • Prevent Muscle fatigue after exercise

  • Strengthens the immune system

  • Increase stamina

  • Increase metabolism which promotes weight loss

  • Improve digestion and constipation

  • Alleviate symptoms of arthritis and gout

  • Prevents bladder stones and urinary tract infections

9. Dandy Blend

This tasty healthy drink is perfect if you are cutting down on your caffeine intake, but want a similar beverage! We sell a lot of this at the Shoppe and everybody loves it!

Dandy Blend is made of only four ingredients: roasted barley extracts, roasted rye extracts, roasted dandelion root extracts, and roasted chicory root extracts. 

Caffeine-free herbal beverage and coffee alternative

Enjoy the rich, bold, and creamy flavor of real coffee without the jitters

Dandelion may help with:

  • Cleansing for the liver

  • Regulating blood sugar

  • Balancing kidney/bladder

  • High in calcium (bone health)

  • Works to breakdown cholesterol-based gallstones

10. The BEST honey caramels from Anellabees

Last, but certainly not least, every customer LOVES these caramels. They are a top FAVORITE for sure!!! Try some for yourself or add them to stockings or as a stand-alone gift.

Pure melt-in-your-mouth magic, all from fewer than eight ingredients. Our Anellabees honey caramels combine the perfect amount of honey, organic sugar, grass-fed butter, and heavy cream for a classic caramel taste, only better! Each small batch is made without preservatives, free of corn syrup and soy lecithin, and individually wrapped in wax paper. Perfect for holiday gifting!

Ingredients: Honey, Organic Sugar, rBST Free Heavy Cream, Butter, Himalayan Pink Salt, GMO-Free Sunflower Lecithin, Cream of Tartar. Made in the USA

Anellabees was inspired by a curious little beekeeper and her mother's passion to create a honey-based candy with quality ingredients. In 2017 Danielle and her daughter, Anella, began testing hard candy recipes in their kitchen using an old confectionary press from the 1880s and honey from their family's farm in the foothills of Colorado's Rocky Mountains. The goal was simple: create a honey-based candy that everyone in the family would love, free of the unnecessary ingredients found in most confections. Quality candy shouldn't be complicated, which is why Anellabees Honey Candies are made without any preservatives or artificial flavors. Our honey is sourced from beekeepers in the United States, and any extra ingredients, such as spices, butter, and dairy, are organic and rbGH free. Anellabees Honey Candies are gluten, soy, and corn-syrup free and sweetened the way mother nature intended!

Cocoa Spiced Honey Caramels - NEW for the season! A cozy twist on the classic caramel flavor you know and love, our cocoa-spiced caramels are quickly becoming a fan favorite. We blend delicate spice with decadent chocolate for a dreamy combination of flavors that feel indulgent and nostalgic all at the same time.

Bonus Favorites

The Essential Guide to Herbal Medicine

Sarah Smith, Clara Osley, and I have been working for many months on this online herbal medicine program and we are so excited about its launch that we are offering a special discount until December 10th!

Save $50 OFF the course for a limited time through December 10th. This special offer won't last long, so jump on it early! It will be $199 (regularly $249).

In this course, you will discover the traditional properties and uses of ten absolutely remarkable plants! This course is perfect for novice, beginner, and intermediate-level students as we will dive deep into the basics of both making and using plants for food and medicine. The plants selected for this program include Burdock, Calendula, Chamomile, Chickweed, Lemon Balm, Plantain, St. John’s Wort, Stinging Nettle, Wild Bergamot, and Yarrow. These ten safe, gentle, and effective plants are very simple to identify, can be found in most environments or easily grown. The herbals covered in this course are essentials for your home medicine chest.

The material will explore everything from basic principles of herbalism, gathering guidelines, sustainable harvesting, how to use herbs safely, insider tips, and even recipes along with step-by-step guides on how to make a variety of herbal preparations. Be sure to watch the videos in each module. You will be amazed at all the uses of these ten herbs you can start incorporating into your daily life!


- Connie Karstens, Clinical Herbalist, Health & Nutrition Educator

- Clara Osley, Master Herbalist, Certified Health Educator, Holistic Nutrition Consultant

- Sarah Smith, Home Herbalist, Homesteader, & Social Media Influencer

Iridology with Brooke from Naturally Living Me

Brooke Vasilko, from Naturally Living Me, will be at the Shoppe on Saturday, January 13th from 9 am to noon to provide in-person Iridology photos and mini consultations. Call 320-587-6094 to schedule an appointment. She is currently the only Certified Comprehensive Iridologist through IIPA in Minnesota.

What is Iridology?

Iridology is the study of the color, pigmentations, and structure of the iris as they relate genetically through reflex responses to the potential strengths and weaknesses of the body system. It is not diagnostic but rather a modality to look for potential health weaknesses and deficiencies that may be reflected from the body in the iris.

What Does a Mini Iridology Consult Include?

A few iris photos will be taken of each eye with a specific Iridology camera, and then a very brief analysis of irises and recommendations will be given. Iris photos will be emailed after the consultation.

Cost: $40 for a 15-minute session with iris photos

For more information, Brooke’s website is:


Thank you for all your support this year. We truly feel blessed to have such a wonderful supportive community.

When you shop small, you will find unique gifts, attention to detail, support for the local economy, great customer service, and you help make our dreams come true! Continue to shop small this holiday season!

For educational purposes only. Consult your healthcare provider before starting any new therapy. Not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure.

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