Thursday, October 18, 2012

From a Sixteen to a Six

     Today marks a historical day for me. I finally hit the 50-lb mark! When I started this clean eating journey two years ago, I never ever thought I was #1, that heavy and #2 that I could lose this much weight! I'm now smaller than I was when I met my husband fifteen years ago. However incredible the weight-loss is, it doesn't compare to how AMAZING I feel these days.
     Earlier this week I was speaking to a group of moms. I shared with them my "before" photo and spoke about the mom in the picture. I didn't recognize myself. I had forgotten how crappy I used to feel and that I usually couldn't make it through the day without a nap! Gone are the headaches, the migraines, the allergies, the high cholesterol, the frequent colds, bronchitis and sinus infections. Gone are the days of having no energy and feeling like a fog surrounded me. Gone are the dreaded trips to the mall to try on clothes to hide bulges and muffin top!
     Now I am prescription-free, full of energy and loving my new sexy body! I had an amazing time shopping for new clothes the other day! I tried on 8's and they were too big, so I grabbed the 6's! WOW! I was a size 16 two years ago! And what's even more amazing is that I am slowly still losing weight and firming up my abs and arms. Don't worry, I'm not going to become super skinny, I love food too much! But I still have some trouble areas, (my thighs!!) and they are next to go!
     The first 40 pounds was easiest to lose. I followed my weight-loss plan (yes I have a plan). But then, I was stuck for several months, hovering around a 40-45 lb loss. So, I did some research and found that we can carry up to 5 pounds of toxins in our body! I did a full house detox...from my make-up to cleaners to soaps. Then, I did a 7-day detox for my body. I ate raw soups, salads, tonics, smoothies and off the weight came. I'm still doing the detox, so I may even lose a few more pounds.
     Does this sound like something you want for yourself as well? Have you ever imagined what it would feel like to lose weight and feel healthy every day? As most of you know, I am now a Health Coach, receiving my education from the world's largest nutrition school, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I have learned a tremendous amount of information about food, our bodies, optimal nutrition, fitness, how to lose weight, how to manage stress, and basically just how to feel so much better.
     Next month, I will be unveiling a Weight Loss Program that you can do where ever you live. I am also available for group speaking, corporate wellness and one-on-one health coaching. I do workshops on Detoxing, Kicking the Sugar Habit, Stress Management, Going Unprocessed and more! I also have a special on my Fall Detox right now.
     Visit my website, for more info or email me at When you sign up for my monthly newsletter, you will receive a copy of my FREE ebook, "The #1 thing you can do to improve your health today." I look forward to hearing from you.                                                                                                                                      

This is me, 181 lbs, on a low-fat diet of convenience foods!
This is me, 131 lbs, on a full-fat diet of whole foods!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Why do I care? Here's why!

A lot of family and friends have asked me, "Why are you doing this?" Doing what? I ask. Why am I blogging about the state of our food, why you should care about what you eat, or where it comes from? Well, mostly it's because I'm mad. I'm mad at what I have learned over the last two years. I thought I was feeding myself and my family a healthy diet and that we were doing all the right things we could to raise our children to be as healthy as they could be. Turns out, I was way off track and most of America is too. But, it's not your fault. (Well if you're feeding your kids McDonald's for dinner every night, then it is your fault!)
Why am I enrolled in Nutrition school and eager to help others overcome health concerns, weight problems, stress, anxiety, low energy and disease? Because I have found a way to fix all of that without drugs and without spending thousands of dollars on liposuction! Over the last year, I have lowered my high cholesterol, figured out that dairy foods were causing my allergies and post-nasal drip, lost 45 pounds, got rid of my daily headaches and migraines, turned around my low energy days and got myself off prescription medicines. I have abundant energy, sexy new clothes, increased libido, higher self-esteem, glowing skin, and feel just plain amazing! Crazy what whole foods can do for you!
I had lunch with my two girls at their school today. I know I shouldn't have been shocked, but I still was. The school lunch was abominable and the strawberry and chocolate milk was flowing. Worst off were those with packed lunches. I saw a plethora of Uncrustables (pj & j with high fructose corn syrup and transfats!), packages of Doritos (containing MSG), numerous juice boxes (again with HFCS), potato chips, cookies, Lunchables, Oreos, Cheetos, Cheezits and the like. Here's some shots:

School lunch: hot dog, beans, candied apples w/ whipped cream, strawberry milk (29 grams of sugar)
Cheetos, Goldfish, Capri Sun and a cookie
Uncrustable, fake cheese and crackers,  fruit snacks and a cookie
  Do you think the parents know that 90% of processed food is genetically modified? If you aren't aware of what a GMO is, please visit this link: GMOs, or "genetically modified organisms," are plants or animals created through the gene splicing techniques of biotechnology.  Virtually all commercial GMOs are engineered to withstand direct application of herbicide and/or to produce an insecticide. WHAT?!

GMO crops in commercial production now:
  • Alfalfa (first planting 2011)
  • Canola (approx. 90% of U.S. crop)
  • Corn (approx. 88% of U.S. crop in 2011)
  • Cotton (approx. 90% of U.S. crop in 2011)
  • Papaya (most of Hawaiian crop; approximately 988 acres)
  • Soy (approx. 94% of U.S. crop in 2011)
  • Sugar Beets (sugar) (approx. 95% of U.S. crop in 2010)
  • Zucchini and Yellow Summer Squash (approx. 25,000 acres)
  • ALSO high-risk: animal products (milk, meat, eggs, honey, etc.) because of contamination in feed. GMO sweet corn is genetically engineered to be herbicide resistant (Roundup Ready) and to produce its own insecticide (Bt Toxin). Like all GMOs, genetically modified sweet corn has not been thoroughly tested to ensure that it is safe for consumption.
    Those facts alone make me mad and ignite the activist in me. GMO products are NOT labeled and we don't know what we are consuming or feeding our children.

    I saw a theme at their lunch today - convenience. If a parent isn't even going to take the time to prepare a 1 minute PB & J from scratch, I feel my career may be over before I even begin. I can think of about 50 healthy convenience items I could toss in my child's lunch box and it won't take more than a minute!
    Lunch Box Ideas:
    Apple, banana, grapes, berries, orange slices, cheese cubes, homemade popcorn, grape tomatoes, pineapple chunks, carrots w/ hummus, mango, pear, peach, kiwi, plum, cherries, sliced bell peppers, unsweetened applesauce, whole-wheat pretzels, brown rice cakes, sunflower seeds, raisins, nuts (if no allergies) and hard-boiled eggs.

    Basically I am doing all of this because I care. Because there is a better way to live. It's not normal to feel like crap every day. It's not normal that doctors dispense prescriptions like candy. It's not normal for a 5-year old to have a rare cancer, it's not normal that 1out of 2 men and 1 out of 3 women will get cancer in their lifetime. It's not right that our food is filled with chemicals and pesticides, our water is contaminated with herbicides and pesticides, or that the products we put on our skin are filled with nasty chemicals that do more harm than good. It's not right that 60 million adults (or 30%) of the US population is obese.
    The general public is for the most part unaware of all of the dangers. The government has twisted our view on foods and frankly should be put out of the equation all-together. It's my job as a Health Coach to educate the average consumer and help guide you to better choices.
    I am very excited that as of next week, I will begin to see clients and have lined up my first one already. She's eager to get started and help her family down a healthier path! I'm here for you if you have questions or want help for your family.
    I invite you to do a Health History ( with me and see how using a Health Coach could possibly change your life! It changed mine!

    Friday, August 10, 2012

    Stocking the Back-to-School Pantry

    As summer winds down, it's time to start thinking about what you're going to be packing in those lunch boxes and snack bags and what you'll be feeding the kiddos when they come bounding off the bus. First and foremost is to feed them a nutritious, protein-packed breakfast to start their day. And, no, a Pop-Tart doesn't count. Those tasty pastries are essentially a giant candy bar filled with sugar, HFCS, trans fats, artificial colors and sodium. Don't get me wrong, I loved them growing up, but the over 50 ingredients inside can lead to a myriad of health problems down the road and sugar crashes before they even finish first period.
    A great start to the day could include a scrambled egg with whole grain toast, whole grain waffle with peanut butter, oatmeal with berries, or a protein smoothie (blend berries, whey protein powder, nut butter, spinach, yogurt, milk or milk alternative).

    There are many prepackaged options out there for lunches, but be careful of dangerous preservatives, trans fats, excessive amounts of sodium and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) that are often laden in those foods. The worst offenders are Lunchables, 100-calorie snacks, packages of chips, cheez-its and juice boxes. The winner for worst offender is the Uncrustable sandwich. It contains 38 ridiculous ingredients (5 of which are sugar and more than a dozen are chemicals) like HFCS, transfats, sorbates, sulfates, and phosphates. A simple PB & jelly takes 1 minute to make - please make them from scratch. I'm disgusted that my children's school offers these as alternatives to a hot lunch.

    So, here's my shopping list for the Back-to-School Pantry:
    • Lots of whole fruits - bananas, organic apples, organic peaches, pears, watermelon slices, organic grapes, organic berries or melon balls/cubes, orange slices, small boxes of organic raisins.  Make a fun fruit kebab! Whole fruits provide fiber, potassium, antioxidants and tons of vitamins that they need for fuel during the day. (I suggest the organic option of those fruits listed on the Dirty Dozen.) Remember to shop/eat seasonally - some of these fruits won't be available this fall and winter.
    • Trail mix - make your own with raw, unsalted nuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, raisins, dried cranberries, chopped pitted dates, small amount of chocolate chips & dried apricots. (NO M&M's!!)
    • Wraps - I like whole grain options to wrap up turkey slices, PB& jelly, cream cheese and veggies, chicken salad, tuna salad
    • Whole grain english muffins (make mini-pizzas or slather w/ PB & jelly)
    • Organic string cheese
    • Newman's Own High Protein Pretzels
    • Gluten-free? Buy large lettuce leafs and wrap over creamy chicken salad, tuna salad with lots of crunchy pickles, turkey slices (not deli meat)
    • Make extra for dinner. Leftovers make for a great school lunch. Pack hot items in stainless steel or a thermos to retain their heat. My kids' faves are homemade chicken strips, leftover quinoa spaghetti and ravioli.
    • Unsweetened organic apple sauce
    • Plain organic yogurt - place in a blender with berries, kale, nut or sunflower butter, process and freeze in a flexible popsicle mold
    • Organic ham and cheese roll ups
    • Veggies - sliced cucumbers with hummus, organic celery with nut butter and raisins, carrots with hummus or ranch dip, red & yellow pepper slices with hummus or dip, kale chips
    • Whole grain crackers, like Triscuits or Multi-Seed (Goldfish don't make the cut)
    • Brown rice cakes, real popcorn (not microwaved in a chemical-filled bag)
    • Hard-boiled eggs
    • Roasted chickpeas with honey & cinnamon
    • Whole grain waffles (great for after school snacks topped with PB
    • Reusable bottle of ice cold water - no sugary juice needed
    It's important that lunch contain a lean protein item, a whole grain carb option, fruit and lots of water. Kids don't need a sugary treat or cookie for lunch. Between all the treats and birthday parties at school, they get enough sugar! They need a highly nutritious meal that can carry them through the rest of the day for optimal learning.

    Some of my favorite containers for lunch

    Wednesday, June 27, 2012

    Easy Summer Berry Popsicles

    The one thing that annoys me about summer is the peculiar ice cream truck, driven by an old man wearing a white tank top, playing Christmas music in July. Paints a pretty picture doesn’t it? Gone are the innocent days of the 25 cent push-up and sharing a drumstick with your sister. Plus, those icy treats are laden with chemicals, artificial colors, dyes, high fructose corn syrup and who knows what else! Enter the homemade popsicle. I just received my new Tovolo Popsicle Molds and can’t wait to get started!

    I figured if my girls like the smoothies I make them, they will love these popsicles. Today I used organic strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries from the farmer’s market. But you can use any fresh or frozen fruit you have on hand. Then, I topped it off with a handful of organic baby spinach, about ¾ cup unsweetened coconut milk and 1 tbsp. raw honey. Yes, you read that right – SPINACH – in our popsicles! The tiny leaves get blasted in the blender and they never know it’s there! Talk about one super-powered popsicle! Take that plain ole pushup!
    Just blend and pour into the molds. It takes about 1-2 hours for them to freeze.


    Monday, June 11, 2012

    Celebrity Sighting!!

    I met a real live superstar this weekend! Ok, it wasn't Brad Pitt or Beyonce, but to me, he is just as big as any Hollywood star. I traveled to Baltimore to hear David Wolfe speak. Who, you ask? David is the rock star of the raw food, superfoods, health and nutrition world. He has written many books on the subject and has almost 20 years experience in the fields of nutrition, superherbs - bizarre ones that you'll never hear of unless you meet him - and chocolate! To hear him speak is sort of an evangelical experience. You got "hopped up" on his vibe and don't come down for hours. When I got home, I shared with my husband all of the info I learned and I think I rambled on for two hours. He was ready to get on the superfood bus with me by the time I was done.

    I learned some amazing things yesterday. I learned that eating raw chocolate can cut your heart disease risk in half and that it breaks down calcification in arteries and prevents plaque formation. It's the #1 longevity food. Who doesn't love chocolate??!! Of course, he's not talking about the Hershey bar in your kitchen. We're talking real, 69% or more dark organic chocolate. I sampled some and it was the smoothest, yummiest stuff I've ever eaten. He has his own brand called Sacred Chocolate and grows his own cacao trees.
    I also learned about seaweeds, durian, mangosteen, medicinal mushrooms, protocols that can help women get pregnant, protocols to help children with autism or ADHD, how to get things "going" in the bedroom, how to reduce EMF's around you and basically just about how to cure anything that ails you with proper, enhanced nutrition.

    And do I believe everything I heard? Abso-freaking-lutely! Why? Because I just went through this transformation myself. Since I have been eating clean, whole foods (which began in September 2010), I have lost 45 pounds, don't suffer from headaches, migraines, allergies, hip pain, high cholesterol, or any of the other crap that used to bog me down. I was a whopping size 16 and now my new size 8 clothes are falling off my hips! I used to take 4 prescriptions and now I take NONE! I had hypothyroidism and now I barely need to take any medicine. I feel AMAZING and have abundant energy. I wake up every day looking forward to my morning workout and can't wait to attack the weights and dance away my troubles. I look forward to this September when I can start working with clients and help them achieve the same success. I am enrolled at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition - the world's largest nutrition school - and it's really an amazing experience to learn the things that are being presented to me. I can't wait to be a Health Coach!

    If you ever get the opportunity to hear David Wolfe speak, I would definitely go with an open mind and a notebook - because you will want to write down what he says!

    Tuesday, May 29, 2012

    Losing the Holiday Weekend Weight

    If you're like the millions of Americans who gathered together with family and friends this weekend to celebrate Memorial Day, you most likely overate, indulged in high-calorie foods and fell out of your healthy eating routine. I know I did! It's not hard to get back into your routine and shake off the extra 2-3 pounds most people gain over a long weekend of indulgence.
    The key is to act quickly before those extra pounds become permanent and you add to them when the next holiday rolls around. Here's some simple tips to shed the extra weight:
    1. Start off your morning with a tall glass of water with the juice of 1/2 lemon. The lemon cleanses and detoxes, balances your Ph and helps move fructose out of your liver.
    2. Make exercise a priority in the morning. Just 30 min a day is all you need. Exercising in the morning gives you a metabolic boost for the entire day. Take a walk outside, head to the gym, pop in a video, dust off the Wii - anything to get you moving for 30 minutes. It doesn't have to be all-out sweatfest - just get moving!
    3. Up the water intake! Get most of your water intake in the morning and through lunchtime, then, taper off towards the end of the day. But always drink if you're thirsty. Listen to your body and monitor how you feel.
    4. Fill up on fiber-rich and protein-filled foods such as:
                  oatmeal with berries and nuts, small drizzle of honey
                  spinach salad with grilled chicken, sunflower seeds
                  apple slices with almond or peanut butter for snack
                  Omelette with spinach, zucchini, or peppers, topped with avocado
                  Hummus with veggies
                  Fish or chicken for dinner, with 2 veggies, and quinoa
    5. Sleep! Usually we either stay up late or sleep in over a long weekend. Try to get back into your regular sleep schedule as soon as possible. Getting 8-9 hours a night can actually help you lose weight! Try to go to bed and rise at the same time every day.
    6. Two habits that help to cleanse and detox: rebounding and dry skin brushing. I know it sounds strange, but these are my two new favorite habits. After my morning workout, I hop on my mini-trampoline or rebounder and bounce away for 5-10 minutes. Research has proven that doing so can detox the lymph glands, enhance digestion and the elimination process, and many more wonderful benefits. After my workouts, I do a quick dry skin body brushing with a natural bristle brush. Dry skin brushing increases circulation to skin, encouraging your body’s discharge of metabolic wastes, which greatly aids the lymphatic drainage of the entire body. When the body rids itself of toxins, it is able to run more efficiently in all areas. It also tightens the skin and helps to evenly distribute fat deposits.

    So try some or all of these methods and let me know how the post-holiday weight loss is going. Keep in mind it takes a couple of days for your stomach to shrink back to a normal size after over-eating. A small amount of food isn't going to fill you up today. Try eating 4-5 smaller meals throughout the day and ease back into your normal pattern of eating.

    Sunday, May 20, 2012

    Everything in Moderation?

    Recently a friend of mine posted a question to our Meetup message board. She wondered what natural products other moms used for their baby's hair. She only uses chemical-free products and needed something for detangling messy curls. The responses she received provoked me to do some digging around. A lot of moms recommended Johnson & Johnson products. One mom even suggested that even if the products contained chemicals, it was OK because it was occasional and only used in moderation. But what is moderation? We are bombarded by chemicals in our food, our water, our soil, our personal care products, and the air we breathe. Nothing is moderate.

    Today I decided to investigate personal care products. Johnson & Johnson products may be nostalgic , but they are also laden with chemicals.
    In the regular formula of Johnson's Baby Shampoo it lists water, cocamidopropyl betaine, PEG-80 sorbitan laurate and sodium trideceth sulfate. Citric acid, PEG-150 distearate, polyquaternium-10, fragrance and tetrasodium EDTA are also ingredients. The last three ingredients are quaternium-15, yellow 10 and orange 4.

    Johnson's Baby Shampoo with Lavender
    The newer formula of Johnson's Baby Shampoo adds chamomile and lavender to the mix for a soothing aromatic fragrance to lull a baby to sleep. It lists as its ingredients water, cocamidopropyl betaine and PEG-80 sorbitan laurate. Sodium trideceth sulfate, fragrance, PEG-150 distearate and polyquaternium-10 are also ingredients. The last four ingredients are tetrasodium EDTA, citric acid, violet 2 and quarternium-15.
    The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics came out with the news two years ago that Johnson & Johnson’s iconic baby shampoo contained the formaldehyde-releasing preservative quaternium-15, as well as the chemical byproduct 1,4-dioxane. Formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane are known carcinogens. The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission has reported that “the presence of 1,4-dioxane, even as a trace contaminant, is cause for concern,” and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services added formaldehyde to its list of known human carcinogens in June 2011.

    This is just one product that we slather on our newborns. Think of the myriad products we use on a daily basis and the compounding chemical onslaught our skin receives. We brush our teeth with sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and flouride (which is a heavy metal); we shampoo with SLS, rub lotions on our skin that contain parabens (which may increase the risk of breast cancer and cause endocrine disruption); we use makeup that contains various chemicals that cause cardiovascular, respiratory, kidney, liver and neurotoxicity; hairspray and nail polish that contain toulene, sunscreens with PABA, Padimate A & O which are suspected carcinogens and may increase breast cancer cell division and disrupt endocrine function. Then there's perfume, lipstick, hair dyes, bath wash, soaps, deodorant, shaving creams, insect repellent, self-tanners, and more all containing chemicals that are known to cause some sort of toxicity, skin irritations, allergic reactions, hormone disruption, and cancer.

    Some of these chemicals are even banned in other countries, but not in the U.S. Daily use of these products results in a progressive build up of chemicals in our system that results in a cumulative poisoning.

    So if you have begun your journey into clean eating and have removed processed food from your life, it's now time to remove the chemicals your skin ingests. Read the labels on your personal care and beauty products. The next time you go shopping, compare the labels and look for "natural" ingredients. Go to your favorite products' website and read the ingredients.  There are so many new options out there and more and more companies are producing products without harmful chemicals. It's up to us to make a conscious effort to purchase wisely.

    Tuesday, May 8, 2012

    12 Ways to Get More Veggies into Your Diet!

    We've all been told to "eat more veggies," but it can be a daunting task, especially for families with young children or picky eaters. Vegetables give us fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, they're low in fat and calories and some even protect us from certain cancers. So, here's twelve ways to increase your veggie count each and every day!
    1. Add some baby spinach, bell peppers, mushrooms and/or onions to your morning omelette. Top with fresh salsa and diced avocado.

    2. Tear some Romaine lettuce leaves into a large bowl, fill with sliced carrots, diced bell peppers, avocado, add a lean protein like tuna, grilled chicken breast, hard-boiled egg, or Organic turkey slices.

    3. Try one new veggie for dinner every week. Don't know how to cook a beet, or are you perplexed by artichokes? Ask your farmer at the market or ask your grocer how to prepare a particular vegetable. You could "Google" Brussel Sprouts and get 3 million results (my fave way to eat those is roasted!). Check out You Tube for videos on how to cut and prepare almost anything!

    4.  Shred them! Kids especially won't turn their nose up to Zucchini bread and fun veggie fritters. Play around with different veggies like shredded zucchini, squash, or potatoes and make little fritters.

    5.  Don't forget snacking! Veggies make great snacks too. Set out a variety of carrots, cucumbers, snap peas, sweet bell pepper strips, broccoli, and celery and let your kids try them all. Serve with hummus or ranch dip.

    6. Make a fun new chip - Kale Chips! Just tear the leaves onto a baking sheet, sprinkle with some EVOO, sea salt and pepper (or red pepper flakes for a kick) and bake on 350 degrees for 10-15 min.

    7. Try juicing! Play around with different veggies to juice like, cucumber, spinach, kale, beet greens, apple, and carrots. Create new combos every day and have some juice for a great afternoon pick-me-up.

    8.  Skip the fries at a restaurant and order an extra serving of veggies.

    9.  When planning your dinner, skip the rice or potatoes and add an extra veggie. A nice filet of fish or chicken is great with a serving of broccoli and a kale salad.

    10.  When making a sandwich, pile it high with lettuce, sliced cucumber, tomato, avocado, sprouts, and smaller portions of protein. The "crunch" is so satisfying!

    11.  Make it easy for you to access your veggies. When you get home from your weekly shopping trip, wash and cut your veggies for your meals that week. That way they are ready for nights when you are rushed and don't have a lot of time to prep.

    12.  Add them to soups, casseroles, lasagna, enchiladas, burritos and tacos.

    Tuesday, April 10, 2012

    Our Voices Are Being Heard!!

    Last month, several grocery store chains agreed to pull the now infamous "pink slime" from their shelves. McDonald's also agreed to stop making their "burgers" with the ammonia-laden product as well as other fast food chains. For those who don't know, Pink Slime is ground beef containing what the meat industry calls "lean, finely textured beef." The low-cost filler is made from fatty meat scraps that are heated to remove most of the fat, then treated with ammonium hydroxide gas to kill bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella. Yum! And hopefully they will never be able to add it back in considering the company manufacturing the stuff, Beef Products Inc., is closing three of its four factories.
    Campbell's Food also agreed to remove BPA (a hormone-disruptor) from the lining of their cans. I'm not sure what they are replacing it with, but it doesn't matter to me, I still won't buy their sodium-laden soups. I prefer the real thing!
    Now General Mills has reformulated its Yoplait Trix yogurt to remove artificial colors, artificial flavors and high fructose corn syrup. It's a step in the right direction, but the product is still loaded with sugar, which is the contributing factor to 1/3 of children in the US being overweight. I just saw an ad in a magazine for All-Natural CoffeeMate Creamer. I don't know what's in this newer version, but the regular stuff is basically poison in a bottle. More and more companies are hearing our voices and seeing our choices in the form of reduced sales!! We are hitting them where it hurts and this makes me very happy. It's something I have been fighting for the past two years, since beginning this food journey. If our food is healthier, then we don't have to become expert label readers and scientists just to understand what's in our food.
    Now, don't get me wrong, there's still a lot of work to be done. We still need to remove genetically-modified organisms, artificial colors and dyes (like the rest of Europe), MSG and chemical preservatives. We are working on removing trans-fats, but they still linger in the form of partially-hydrogenated oils.

    We need to remove pthalates' and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals’ ubiquity in kids’ products like plastic toys and snack food packaging. If pink slime teaches us anything, it’s that Big Ag and its industrial food cronies don’t stand a chance against consumers wielding their forks—and their wallets—for good. Vote with your wallet!

    Tuesday, March 13, 2012


    Several things have happened in the past few weeks that have led me to believe that our clean food journey is not only improving our lives, but it's the best decision I have made for our family.
    Revelation #1
    All of the immunity-boosting foods, supplements, probiotics and exercise that I have been doing, prevented me from getting a nasty virus that my husband and two girls got a couple of weeks ago. My husband was sick first and then my girls - fever, chills, headache, no appetite and lethargy. My husband was sick for over 10 days; the girls just 3 days. I, thankfully, never got sick. My hubby isn't really on the clean plan and eats whatever he wants at work (including daily food truck runs). He gets one clean meal every evening and on the weekends. I can get the girls to take their daily probiotic, vitamins and even my picky little one loves my green juices!!
    To me, this is proof that our immunity is stronger and helping us to get over illness faster. It's proof that processed foods and fast foods are compromising his immunity.

    Revelation #2
    Sugary foods with artificial colors make my kids sick. This past weekend was my daughter's 5th birthday. I planned for weeks and debated over what to serve. Last year at my oldest's birthday party, which was low-key and held at our private community pool, was met with rejection by the young party-goers. I served a veggie crudite platter and turkey roll-ups. I was ridiculed by a 6-year old who asked, "Where's the pizza?" I told her we like to eat healthier foods and she scoffed at me and grabbed her bag of Doritos.
    So this year, I didn't want to disappoint, but I also didn't want to compromise our new food values. I served organic peanut butter and jelly tea sandwiches, nitrate-free organic ham sandwiches, organic grapes, strawberries and pineapple. But then there was the desserts...I splurged on authentic Parisian pink macaroons, designer sugar cookies in the shape of teapots, indulgent cupcakes and a jar full of pink jelly beans holding handmade lolli-pops. All that pink food was obviously tinted with artificial dyes. There was a bit of sugar excess in that the girls kept grabbing fistfulls of jelly beans (which were actually meant to be more of a decoration).
    Later in the day, both girls complained of headaches and were sluggish and tired. It's unusual for them to get headaches, much less both of them several hours after the party. I had one too (I ate one too many macaroons). Then even went to bed early. Proof that excess sugar and artificial colors and dyes can have adverse effects on your body.

    Revelation #3
    I must be doing something right! In the last week, I have overhead many a friend complain of allergies right now. We live in Northern VA - home to abundant allergens and Cedar trees. For years, I have suffered from nasal allergy symptoms - but usually all year long! I have been on Claritan, Zyrtec, Singulair, Flonase, etc...for my post nasal drip, itchy eyes, sneezing and coughing. But now, after a year and a half of eating clean, unprocessed foods, I am drug free and symptom-free. I can't pinpoint the exact thing that I am doing that is making me an allergy-free person, but I truly believe that once you remove foods that cause inflammation, your body isn't constantly fighting itself anymore and those histamines aren't called in for an inflammatory response. Another thing to note is that in the past, I would have typically had at least one sinus infection, bronchitis and several colds at the end of the winter season. But this year - NONE!!!! I made it through the winter without multiple bouts on anti-biotics! This is perhaps the biggest news for me yet. I truly believe that eliminating dairy has helped with this. I have a friend who has suffered all winter and is still coughing and sneezing her way into Spring. I shared with her my success and suggested she try it for a couple of weeks to see if she got any relief. Her own doctor advised against it because she has osteopenia (a condition where bone mineral density is lower than it should be). He wanted her to keep up the dairy intake for the calcuim. There are DOZENS of better food sources of calcium and magnesium than dairy!! Again, I'm not a doctor, and I'm only a couple of days into Nutrition Counseling school, but REALLY???!!!  One does not NEED to consume dairy to achieve optimal levels of calcium in their body. I sent her a list of some foods to try. Hopefully she can find some relief.

    My progress report:
    35 pounds lost, down from a size 16 to a 10!!!
    No more drugs (except a small dose of Synthroid for Hypothyroidism)
    Very infrequent migraines
    Tons of energy
    Belly problems subsiding
    Overall, feeling GREAT!
    I have a few more pounds to lose to meet my original goal of 40 lbs, but my new goal is 135. So, 11 more to go!
    I CAN DO IT!!

    Friday, February 24, 2012

    A Wake Up Call for Food

    It seems everywhere you turn these days there's another article about the dangers of food dyes, the endocrine disruptors in canned food linings, the arsenic in chicken, the added phosphates in food that's causing diabetes and high blood pressure, the antibiotics in conventional beef, the blood, pus and more found in milk, the dangers of gluten, the pesticides in our produce, the genetically-modified organisms wreaking havoc in our bodies and the tainted soil in which we attempt to grow said foods.

    It's a miracle we're even alive. We're kind of like the walking dead though if you really think about it. Millions of us have auto-immune diseases, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, allergies, and every day maladies like headaches, pains, tummy troubles, low energy, depression and neurological disorders. Do you just give up, pop a pill and reside to believing that "everything's gonna kill us, so why bother getting rid of it?" I hope not!
    You really can make a difference in your health. There's SO much information out there, so much to read, much to decipher what it all means and where you should even start.

    I'll give you 3 simple steps to move toward the right direction for better health:
    1. Read ingredient labels. Put items back that contain chemicals, trans fats, lengthy lists of food dyes, colorings, additives and words you can't even pronounce.
    2. Move your body! No more excuses. 30 min a day is all you need.
    3. Make at least half of your meals (or more) from scratch. That means ditch the fast food, convenience foods, packaged meals and mixes.

    I finding this journey of educating myself about my own health to be eye-opening.  I find it truly amazing how our bodies react to food and how we overlook the truth that's staring us right in the eyes. It's not a pill we need to take  - it's better food we need to grow and eat.

    Wednesday, February 22, 2012

    Silently suffering...

    Warning: I get slightly personal here. I talk of bathroom issues. But if you've ever suffered from tummy troubles, read on!

    Since changing my lifestyle in Sept of 2010, to one of clean, whole foods, every part of my life has improved. I'm down 35 pounds and 3 dress sizes, daily headaches are gone, migraines are few and far between (used to get 2 a month), I have tons of energy, my hypothyroidism is going away (I'm down from .175 mcgs to .125 mcgs), and I just feel so much better. Everything was going perfectly - all bodily functions were normal.
    Then, on Oct. 1 of last year, something changed and I have been suffering in silence ever since. I started having daily tummy troubles and it continued for months. I saw my doctor. He ran tests. Tests came back normal. Hmmmm...I decided to start researching my symptoms. From what I could discern, it sounded like a gluten-intolerance. I tested negative for Celiac, but sometimes it's hard to pick up.
    So, I have been experimenting with my gut. I made attempts to go off gluten for a few weeks. Then, I would introduce it back with disastrous results. I would be in the bathroom for hours the next morning. Hmmm...I'm no doctor, I'm not even a certified Health Coach yet, but I would guess that I have developed an intolerance for gluten.

    There's a faction of health-minded folks that swear gluten is a poison. I'm starting to agree with them. I'm not at all happy about this. In fact, I'm kind of depressed about it. After all, some of my favorite foods involve wheat, flour, gluten, etc... I love a good New York-style pizza, a yummy homemade pasta dish, a moist cookie straight from the oven, or freshly made Ciabatta bread from the bakery. I don't eat them all the time, but occasionally, they fill a void. For the past year, I have made my food choices. I have decided to give up processed foods, fast food, convenience food. It has been MY decision. This decision was made for me and I'm not pleased with it. I've been suffering for five months and I've been in denial. Why is this happening now? Why NOW, after making the best decisions for my health? I've been eating grass-fed meats, organic veggies and fruits, raw nuts and seeds, I've shunned dairy (and by the way, I haven't had a sinus infection or bronchitis in over a year since giving up dairy!!), and I've limited my refined carbs.
    Was I already at my tipping point? Was it going to happen anyway? Before I started this journey, I was so tired all the time, overweight, sick a lot with bronchitis and sinus/allergy issues and starting to have pain in my legs (which my doctor thought was fibromyalgia). So, was Celiac just around the corner anyway?  Had I already done major damage to my immune system by years of eating a conventional American diet?
    It seems that auto-immune diseases come in pairs or multiples. Hashimoto's thyroiditis can be accompanied with Celiac disease, MS, Lupus, Type 1 Diabetes, Inflammatory Bowel Disease and many more. Sufferers of one, may also get another.
    I will see a gastroenterologist soon and an official diagnosis will come. Maybe it is something else. I'm hoping! But I know that I already feel better and can stay away from the bathroom when I abstain from gluten. So, I'm not that hopeful...

    I'm curious if this has happened to anyone else. Who else out there has Celiac disease or a gluten-intolerance? How do you cope? Did you give up your dream of eating pasta in Tuscany and pizza in Sicily? Why does food damage us so much? I can't wait to get started with my education at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition next month. I want answers and I want better food for our society. I think I have found my lifelong mission - to rid the world of processed, chemical-laden foods that are making us all sick. Watch out - here I come!

    Sunday, February 12, 2012

    Week of Feb. 12 - 18

    This week poses many challenges for me. I start teaching classes and my husband is going out of town for a couple of days and then I have to get ready for a weekend away with the girls. When my hubby travels, I always lose interest in cooking a full meal for just the kids and myself. So, I'm gonna keep it simple and super kid-friendly this week. But I still want to make a romantic dinner Tuesday night...hmmm...what to make?

    Monday  - Chicken with Sun-dried tomatoes and leeks

    Tuesday - Romaine Hearts Finger Salad with Balsamic dressing (recipe below), Seared Scallops, Green Beans, Parsnip Puree, Personal Molten Lava Chocolate Cakes (gluten-free)

    Wednesday - Almond-Crusted Chicken Fingers, Broccoli

    Thursday - Dinner out with the girls (Chipotle is a safe bet)

    Friday - Pork Tenderloin, Sauteed Zucchini, Quinoa

    Saturday - Hubby is on his own as I head out of town...(Woo-to-the-hoo!)

    Romaine Lettuce Hearts Finger Salad
    • 2 hearts of Romaine lettuce
    • 1 T pecans, toasted
    • 1 small red pepper
    • 1/4 C Italian cheese, shredded
    • 1 C Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing
    1. Separate the leaves of each heart and place them on 2 salad plates.
    2. Sprinkle the top of the lettuce with 1/2 T of the pecans per plate.
    3. Slice the red pepper in half and remove the seeds and core.
    4. Slice each half into half then cut with a heart shaped cookie cutter.
    5. Place the red pepper hearts on top of both salads.
    6. Top each salad with 1/8 C of the cheese.
    7. Divide the dressing into 2 small bowls.
    Serves 2
    By placing the dressing on the side you can use your fingers to dip the lettuce and pepper hearts.

    Sunday, February 5, 2012

    Meals for Feb. 5 - 11

    Last week was rough for me. I was busy with work, school projects for my daughter and I got a migraine headache out of nowhere. I hadn't had one in almost 6 months!! I only managed to hit the basement gym three times, but thankfully my weight held steady. It's been mentally defeating to be at a plateau for so long as well. So, I ramped up the repetitions and slowed down my workout with weights. I noticed I was kind of rushing through the process, so I slowed down and made every curl, kickback and squat count.
    I also skipped out on dinner two nights last night, so you will see a repeat this week because I have the proteins and veggies already prepped. Sometimes, you just gotta take a break and let someone else do the cooking. I'm pretty proud of how far I have come with planning and executing meals. I mean, five years ago, the only thing I was good at making was reservations!

    Meals for this week:
    Sunday (early dinner before Superbowl) - Roman-style Chicken (
    Monday - Shrimp Pad Thai
    Tuesday - Maple-Balsamic Glazed Pork Tenderloin (Clean Eating mag), sweet potato mash, sauteed zucchini
    Wednesday - Honey Dijon Salmon, Garlic & Ginger Broccoli, Whole Wheat couscous
    Thursday - Slow Cooker Short Ribs, Braised Kale/Collards
    Friday - Baked Tilapia packets with veggies inside
    Saturday - Date Night

    Sunday, January 29, 2012

    Meals for Jan. 30 - Feb. 4

    Another week is behind us and the menu planning seems to be helping with keeping us on track with our budget and with executing dinners nightly. Doing some of the prep work on the weekends is definitely cutting prep time during the week.
    I'll admit though, it takes time. There's the planning of my meals, shopping and then washing and cutting the veggies. But, when you work all day and come home to find your carrots neatly cut and ready to toss in your dish - that just makes me smile!

    Meals for Jan. 30 - Feb. 4:

    Mon - Fish Tacos with Honey-Cumin Cilantro Slaw and Chipotle Mayo (
    Tues – Mustard Maple Pork Tenderloin, quinoa, zucchini from
    Wed – Shrimp Pad Thai
    Thursday – Slow Cooker Honey Sesame Chicken Recipe, over brown rice, broccoli steamed with garlic & lemon from
    Friday – Lightened up Shepherd's Pie
    Sat - Braised Short Ribs in Crock Pot

    Saturday, January 28, 2012

    The Ultimate Food Table - Processed to Organic

    Today I have come up with a table of foods – Processed to Organic. Our family now eats foods from the “Even Better” column. But, it wasn’t that long ago that I blindly went to the grocery store, tossed in the cheapest bread I could find, filled my cart with frozen meals, chicken nuggets, juice for the kids, cartons of fruit-flavored low-fat yogurt, fat-free mayo, cheese slices, lunchmeat and skim milk. I thought I was eating healthy by choosing low-fat or fat-free, drinking skim milk and eating 90/10 ground beef. Well, that life led me to Hypothyroidism, being 40 lbs. overweight, frequent migraines, multiple medicines, feeling sluggish, allergies, hip pain, strange pain in my legs, frequent illnesses and overall yuckiness. Now, a year and a half later, I can tell you that all of the above are GONE! I have practically cured my hypothyroidism, no more headaches or weird pains and I have lost 34 pounds thus far! My kids are drinking water, raw milk, and eating whole foods without added sugar and breading. They gobble up fresh fish, pork tenderloin, kale, raw nuts, and veggies galore! It is possible for your kids to eat this way too! Don’t get me wrong, it took some trial and error to find their favorite veggies and meats, but once you do, you’re golden! So, take a peek at the list and see where you fall.

    Processed Food
    Swap For
    Even Better
    Real Butter
    Organic, or raw milk butter
    Skim Milk
    2% Organic Milk
    Raw Milk or Unsweetened Almond Milk
     Flavored fruit Yogurt
    Plain Yogurt w/ Honey or fruit
    Raw Milk or Org. Greek Yogurt
    Vegetable/Canola Oil
    Sunflower Oil or Cold-pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    Coconut Oil
    Roasted, Salted Nuts
    Unsalted Nuts
    Raw, unsalted nuts
    Frozen Fish Sticks
    Pan-fried Fish
    Grilled, baked, poached fish with herbs and spices
    Hamburger meat
    Hormone/antibiotic-free Beef
    Grass-fed beef
    Frozen Chicken (sodium solution)
    Chicken w/o added sodium
    Free-range, Organic Chicken
    Canned Vegetables
    Fresh or Frozen Veggies
    Organic, fresh veggies
    Flavored coffee creamer
    Half & Half
    Raw cream or milk
    Nitrate/nitrite-free meats
    Sliced turkey from the breast
    Fat Free Mayo
    Full fat Mayo
    Homemade or Organic Mayo
    Processed Cheese Slices
    Full Fat Real Cheese
    Organic, block of cheese
    White Flour
    Whole-wheat flour
    Oat, Spelt, Gluten-free flours
    White Rice
    Brown Rice
    Quinoa, Millet, Wild Rice
    Regular Pasta
    Whole Grain Pasta
    Brown Rice or Spelt Pasta
    Table Salt
    Celtic Sea Salt
    Himalayan & Celtic Sea Salts
    Sugar, Artificial Sugars
    Organic Cane Sugar
    Raw Honey, Stevia, Z Sweet, Maple Sugar
    Soybean Oil (in pkgd foods), added soy
    Just Omit
    Jar of Parmesan Cheese
    Fresh block Parmesan
    Organic, hard cheese
    Jelly w/ High Fructose Corn Syrup
    100% Fruit Jelly
    Homemade jam, preserves
    Soda, Diet Drinks, Juice
    Sparkling Water, flavored
    Plain Water w/  lemon
    Packaged Mac n Cheese
    Pasta w/ homemade cheese sauce
    Whole Wheat pasta, w/ tomato sauce, herbs
    Condensed Cream Soups
    Make your own soup base w/ flour, butter, milk and add your flavor (celery, chicken, etc)
    Use Organic ingredients, make homemade soup base & freeze
    Peanut Butter
    PB w/o hydrogenated oils
    Natural butters with nuts, oil, salt (almond, cashew are good)
    Frozen Chicken Nuggets
    Go straight to real…
    Homemade Nuggets w/ real chicken coated with Panko or ground almonds
    Cereal made w/ Whole Grain, no sugar
    Steel Cut Oats, Homemade Granola

    If your diet is largely based off the foods in the first column, try swapping them out with foods from the middle column. You can work your way towards the right. You might be scared when looking at some of the items calling for full-fat and oils that you may not be used to using. But don’t be. We need fat and it keeps us fuller longer and gives us energy. When you eat foods that have the fat removed, they often replace the fat with sugar and mostly in the form of high fructose corn syrup. To find Organic, grass-fed meats and raw milk sources, visit and
    To learn more and get weekly meal planning tips, “Like” Unprocessed Living on Facebook and come back often to my blog.
    Until next time, Eat Real Food…