Tuesday, November 1, 2011

After much thought and consideration, I have decided to move on from this blog.  I have thoroughly enjoyed providing information and recipes to over 46,000 people from all over the globe (some locations were a mystery to me!).  The stories you have sent me of success and of your life-changing/saving experiences have been awe-inspiring and I know every moment given to this blog has been worth it.

 The time has come, however, for me to move forward and devote the time I spend on this blog, to other projects involving Health and Nutrition and I am excited about the new experiences.

I wanted to say thank you, to all of you who have been with me through this incredible journey.  I have learned so much.

You are welcome to follow me on to a new blog.  Much of the information, however, will be past posts from this blog, so it will be repetitive for some, but new info and recipes will also be added.  This will not be an eat-paleo-or-die blog, since I believe there's more to health and good nutrition than simply following the "Paleo" label, but info and recipes will follow my same convictions regarding eating real food.  Feel free to leave comments or shoot me an email with any questions you may have regarding your health/nutrition.

Thank you!

Monday, October 31, 2011



Pick at least 1 and no more than 3 foods/beverage that is contributing to the decline of your health. These will be avoided for the first 21 days of November – completely. This will be a food/beverage that you know should be eliminated, but you justify/rationalize keeping.


Because health is much more than just the food we eat or don’t eat:  
Pick at least one and no more than 3 activities/habits that are contributing to the decline of your health. These could be things you need to eliminate OR ADD to your life. For example; not getting enough sleep due to lack of effort (ADD sleep to your weekly routine)…texting while driving (ELIMINATE during the Challenge!)….not showing up for running/rowing wods because you hate or are not good at running/rowing (ADD running/rowing at least 2x per week)…not spending enough time with family/eating dinner together due to work/TV/computer (do you really need this reminder??). These are just a few examples, they key in Part II is not only about eliminating the bad stuff, but also incorporating the good stuff – the kind of stuff that can enrich our life.


Nutrition – We all know this is the foundation of everything we do. Get your nutrition dialed-in and everything else will improve (well, most everything). Not eating enough nutrient dense foods or eating too many unhealthy foods is problematic and you KNOW it - stop making excuses.

Sleep- This one is more important than you think. You should make this a priority in your life or you will have chronic health problems f-o-r-e-v-e-r.

Recovery- Whether your recovery comes in the form of a quiet walk with your dog/child/spouse, yoga, foam rolling, massage or taking an extra day off; if it’s not a part of your routine, your quality of health will suffer eventually.

You will have the best success by teaming up with one or more people.  Get your local affiliate/gym involved so you have the support of a community.  Keep a check on eachother, write down your goals and exchange the list with teammate(s) so he/she/they can help you stay on task.  This is about encouraging one another, not competing against one another!

Remember the previous post?  You want to avoid becoming part of the Season of Sugar statistics during the holidays!  If you just stumbled across this blog, start anytime....just START. Now.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Season of Sugar

Halloween is upon us, which means Thanksgiving and Christmas are looming, which also means we begin the perilous journey through the season of sugar.  There are alarming statistics out there that the average American can put on 5-10 pounds during the holiday season!  I like to think of those of us following a diet of REAL FOOD ONLY, as non-average - you with me here??
Let's not be part of that statistic.

Realistically, some (or many) of us will be attending holiday gatherings, office parties, family functions where the main focus of the celebration will be food - unfortunately, that food will be the exact source of the 5-10 pound weight gain.

In order to avoid being part of that statistic, here are a few tips to help navigate through the peril:

Halloween:  We are doing something different at our house this year - serving hot apple cider and 100% beef hot dogs.  For those that refuse to stray from tradition; purchase your Halloween candy at the very last minute, so you do not have temptation sitting on your counters or cupboards.  Alternatively, if there is such a thing, purchase candy that you do NOT like - this way, the temptation will not be an issue.  Take any leftover candy to work so everyone else can eat it.

Thanksgiving Meal:  Load up on your protein source first with a healthy dose of green salad and veggies that are not loaded with sugars, processed creams, etc.  If you're hosting the meal, make every delicious dish only with real food and make some gluten-free rolls/dessert - you will NOT regret that.  If you will be eating the meal elsewhere, why not bring one or two dishes that you have prepared and load up on the turkey and your own dish, that way, when dessert is being served, you can have a small piece without having had sabotaged yourself completely.  Better yet, make a gluten-free dessert to bring (and there are PLENTY of delicious ones)!

Christmas Meal:  Same rules apply here.  Whether attending or hosting your Christmas dinner, make a commitment to prepare healthy alternatives to the traditional menu items.  You would be surprised how delicious those meals can be and everyone will be happy to know they are eating clean, real food!

Parties:  Eating a full meal before heading to the party will alleviate much of the temptation to overindulge in unfavorable foods.  If you drink alcohol, have a glass of water prior to the alcoholic beverage.  If you are going to eat, choose good foods like shrimp cocktail and raw veggies.  Or, it's easy to bring a plate of appetizers for everyone to share - that way, you control ingredients. 

If you make a commitment to yourself (challenge your spouse/friend to do this with you - it helps!) and adhere to eating real foods the majority of the time through the Season of Sugar, you will still be able to enjoy those cheats without having to dig yourself out of a deep nutritional grave.  Don't make choices that will put you in the weight-gaining statistics!

Next post:  Beginning November 1st "Poison of Choice 21 Day Challenge".  Join us in committing to choices that will contribute to a healthy lifestyle.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Bacon-Wrapped Apricots

Mediterranean dried apricots are plump, pitted, whole, dried apricots that are delicious. These make great appetizers or an easy snack for kiddos after school (yes, they'll eat them....it's bacon..duh!).

28 Mediterranean dried apricots (7oz. package)
1 package nitrate/nitrite free bacon
coarse pepper

Cut bacon slices into thirds and wrap each apricot with the bacon slices, securing with toothpick. Place on a baking sheet lined with foil, leaving a small amount of room between each piece. Place sheet in oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes per side. Flip halfway through and sprinkle them with pepper. They’re finished cooking when the bacon is thoroughly cooked and slightly dark in spots.

**I've also made these with water chestnuts, which add a different texture, but equally as delicious. Cut water chestnuts in half crosswise, fold apricot around chestnut, wrap bacon slice around apricot; secure with toothpick and bake as directed.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Insulin Resistance and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)

Autism and ASD are neurological disorders that have a strong but poorly understood genetic basis.  It surfaces in the first 3 years of life and affects the brain's normal development of social and communication skills.
Although a very active area of research, the precise cause is still unknown, but there seems to be a common suggestion that there are more than likely a combination of factors.

One area of interest has been diet - specifically the effects of gluten (wheat, rye and barley) and casein (milk, cheese and other dairy products).

A recent theory comes from Michael Stern, a Rice University biochemist, who believes the same processed foods that causes diabetes may also cause autism.  Stern also suggests that glucose tolerance in pregnant women may be a subject of more earnest interest in light of his findings.

Dr. Stern found a compelling connection between diabetes and autism's impaired glucose tolerance and hyperinsulinemia and states;  "It will be very easy for clinicians to test my hypothesis...they could do this by putting autistic children on low-carbohydrate diets that minimize insulin secretion and see if their symptoms improve." 
The same could be said for the gluten and casein theory.
Read more here.

This real-life testimonial is certainly remarkable as is this one.

Science Daily/ Rice University (2011, October 19).

Monday, October 17, 2011

Chicken & Roasted Bell Pepper Avocado Cups

Avocado cups have been a favorite of mine lately.  I can mix up any leftover meat and veggie that's in my fridge and dump it into an avocado cup for a quick and easy lunch.  This recipe, however, produced such a great flavor, it was worth spending the effort with the added ingredients.  Pair it with some fruit or roasted veggie and you leave the table satisfied.

4 skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds total)
4 bay leaves
1 quart organic low sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth 
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 cup unsalted, roasted nut of choice, finely chopped (I used hazelnuts)
1/2 large red onion, diced
1/2 a bunch asparagus, roasted and diced into small pieces**
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped
2 roasted bell peppers (red or yellow peppers), skin removed and diced (recipe below or you can purchase roasted peppers in a jar)*
salt and pepper to taste

Mustard Herb Dressing:
1/3 cup fresh parsley, tightly packed
1/3 cup fresh basil, tightly packed
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon gluten-free Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
fresh ground pepper to taste

To Roast Bell Peppers:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Cut the peppers in half and clean out the seeds and innards. Place them on a baking sheet skin side up. Bake peppers for 15 to 20 minutes. Once the skins are brownish-black, remove from the oven and immediately place the peppers in a large ziploc bag. Close and let sit for 20 minutes or so (or until the peppers have time to cool and "sweat").

  Once they have cooled you will be able to peel the skins right off. In my opinion, I prefer to do this method rather than purchasing the roasted peppers in a jar.  If you're trying to save time, however, it's an option.

**To roast asparagus, toss asparagus in a little olive oil and season with a little salt and pepper. Roast in the 450 degree oven for 5-10 minutes, depending on size of asparagus, while bell peppers roast. Remove and allow to cool before cutting into small pieces. I made extra asparagus to eat!

For Chicken Salad:
Put the bay leaves and the chicken broth in a large pot with a lid and bring stock to a simmer. Add the chicken breasts to the pot. Return the broth to a simmer. Cover the pot. Turn off the heat. Let the chicken steep in the stock for 30 minutes to an hour.
While the chicken is cooking, chop the other ingredients - garlic, almonds, onion, asparagus, basil, parsley, roasted bell peppers - and add to a large bowl. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.
When the chicken breasts are cooked, remove them from the broth and let them cool. When they are cool enough to handle, shred the chicken breasts into bite-size pieces by hand. Mix the chicken pieces in with the rest of the ingredients.

To Make Dressing:
In the bowl of a food processor combine parsley, basil, apple cider vinegar, mustard, garlic, and salt. While food processor is running slowly add olive oil in a small drizzle. You may have to stop the food processor to scrape the sides. You want the mixture to come to a liquid consistency. Add fresh ground pepper to taste.

Add dressing to chicken salad and toss to combine.

At this point you can either chill it or serve at room temperature.  Take an avocado, remove pit, and place chicken salad in the inside. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Soy - Good or Bad?

Soy has been touted as the miracle health food for decades and once found only at health food stores, can now be found even at convenience stores! Soy is a common topic of inquiry when discussing nutrition and many ask the same question; "Is soy good or bad?".
Originally used for plastics in the early 1900's, soy wasn't considered a food product until World War II shortages, when it became necessary to find a way to create cheap protein.
Since then, the soy industry invested a lot of time and money to advertise soy as a health food and the marketing was quite successful; leading to the following statistics:
  • 37% of Americans eat or drink soy products
  • 85% believe soy food is healthy
  • 70% believe soybean oil is good for them. 

Following, are some known, albeit not advertised facts about soy that might make one think twice about reaching for this health food:
  • Soy is the second-most genetically modified crop in the U.S. (corn being #1) - that's 91% of soy grown!
  • Soy is difficult for most people to digest due to the anti-nutrient properties (lectins, sapopins, protease inhibitors, phytates) that cannot be removed by soaking, sprouting, or slow cooking like other legumes.
  • Soy contains phytoestrogens; which are known to interrupt endocrine function and has been linked to fertility problems, breast and thyroid cancer.
  • Soy foods increase the body's requirement for vitamin D and B12.
  • Soy contains substances that interfere with thyroid function.
But wait....what about all the soy consumed in Asia??
Great question! We are talking UNfermented soy products and this is the type of soy that is so pervasive in this country.
In the Asian culture, fermented, non-GMO soy products (natto, tempeh) have been enjoyed for centuries and people have reaped the health benefits without wreaking havoc in their bodies, unlike the unfermented and processed soy products we consume in this country.
Processed and unfermented products like soy milk, soy cheese, soy burgers, soy ice cream have crept into our kitchens, making us believe that it's all health food.
The health claims that have been touted about soy, seem to have been based on half-truths and meager facts by lumping the fermented soy with unfermented soy; when in reality, we're talking two entirely different foods with entirely different outcomes.
Next time you are grocery shopping, take a look at the ingredient list of dressings, baked goods, imitation foods, diet beverages, fast foods, and meal replacements. Any place that uses industrial-developed foods like schools, senior citizen centers and larger corporate cafeterias, will undoubtedly contain soy products in their food. 
Do all soy products carry the negative health effects?
As mentioned earlier, soy CAN have great health benefits, as long as the soy is organic AND fermented. After a long fermentation process, the anti-nutrients that are predominant will be reduced, hence, the beneficial health properties become available to your digestion process.
Fermented soy includes:
Tempeh: fermented soybean cake that is firm and has a nutty, mushroom-like flavor.
Miso: fermented soybean paste that has a salty, buttery flavor (commonly used in Miso soup)
Natto: fermented soybean that has a strong, cheese-like flavor
(note: Tofu is not fermented)
Still believe soy is the miracle health food that has been marketed over the years?
Be kind to your health and the health of your family by educating yourself on what you eat - even if everyone around you believes it to be "good". Dig in and do some research.
You and your health are certainly worth it!

Dr. Mercola
Weston A. Price Foundation
Natural Health Strategies
Dr. Meade