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Nutrition and wellness is tasteful

  • Exercise

    Exercise is a benefit to every part of the body--mind included.

    Exercise makes you look better, lose weight, and lowers your risk of many chronic diseases, and slows down aging.

  • Healthy children, healthy life

    "You don't have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces--just good food from fresh ingredients."
    --Julia Child

    "If we're not willing to settle for 'junk living,' we shouldn't settle for junk food."
    --Sally Edwards

  • Food is medicine

    "Let medicine be thy food, and food be thy medicine."

    "Don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food."
    --Michael Pollen

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Breathe Deep, Be Present and Get Healthy in a "Doable" Way

It is so easy to get overwhelmed with every diet out there, right? Just like your friend who lost a ton of weight on Jenny Craig or your neighbor who swears by her newly acquired deep-breathing exercises, right? Instead of claiming those activities as your own, engage in simple, doable actions that will get results!

Start out with a few unmistakably great habits to get into that will set you on a good path to wellness. At least see how well you feel after a week of doing the following things mentioned below. Who knows -- one week of eating well can turn into two, three and more weeks of eating well.

(1) DO Drink Water. Yes, water is overlooked by many simply because we may forget to drink water or we may not believe that it will make a big difference in our health. But, no mistaking it, water is essential for good cell health, it helps to balance our body fluids, it energizes us and keeps us full longer.

(2) DON'T Go on a Juice Cleanse. I've never gotten this one. Is a juice cleanse realistic? Is that how you will continue eating from here on out? At least check with your doctor before you do something like this. We are meant to eat real whole foods, portion-controlled and just eating reasonably.

(3) DON'T Start Banning Foods. Why not cut back on sugar and gluten rather than eliminating it forever? What happens if you eliminate these foods all together -- will you replace those foods with something else that may not be that good for you? Food for thought.

(4) DO eat plenty of fiber. No doubt, fiber is important for our bodies. Not only does fiber make you feel fuller longer, but it also reduces heart disease risk, it slows sugar absorption, improves digestive health and it keeps us at our optimal weight. As Michael Pollan so eloquently stated: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." Pretty sound advice.

(5) DON'T rely on powders and pills. Again, how realistic is it to live on powders and pills? When you are replacing a Real Food like Broccoli or an Apple with a powder or pill, it just doesn't add up and important vitamins and minerals are missed for essential body function.

(6) DO be mindful of portion sizes. This is a big one for sure! If we somehow can give ourselves time to enjoy the foods that we are eating -- and waiting a bit to digest -- we can eliminate overeating and feeling 'icky'!

(7) DON'T focus exclusively on calories. How about instead of eliminating avocados -- typically high in good fats -- eliminate another lower calorie food that may be full of sugars or preservatives.

(8) DO Think Positive. There is no doubt that this is good for just about anything. Thinking positively sets you up for success and the hope of better 'eating' days ahead.

(9) DON'T Expect Miracles. Instead of being so driven to lose the last 5 to 10 pounds in a week or even a month -- be realistic about it. The healthiest way to lose weight is recommended at 1-2 pounds a week. The best thing that could happen is setting yourself up for building on a good habit that can last a lifetime, not just for a week or a month. Losing weight is not easy, but keeping it off is something to shoot for one day at a time....

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Want a healthy heart and good vision? How about the following 15-lutein rich foods?

Lutein, a yellow to orange pigment related to vitamin A, is extremely important for not only maintaining vision, but keeping a healthy heart as well. Perhaps you may easily take your eyesight and beating heart for granted, especially if you currently have good vision and a strong, beating heart. But, what if you don't? What if you wish you could improve your eyesight and even your improve your blood pressure? The following 15 foods can help give your eyes and heart a healthy boost for sure....

1) Kale: This veggie has a ton of nutrients besides lutein. It has a good amount of vitamin C, calcium, beta carotene, vitamin A, vitamin K and even fiber. Super low in calories too.

2) Winter Squash: When was the last time you roasted a squash in the oven? It is so good and full of great vitamins and minerals...yes, including Lutein and vitamin A too.

3) Collards: These leafy greens are not surprisingly chock full of vitamins and minerals, fiber and so much more! For those of us attempting to lower our LDL (lousy) cholesterol, this is a great addition to the diet. Additionally, these greens are related to kale and cabbage and are quite delicious in a salad, as a side dish or as an added bonus, a smoothie too.

4) Yellow Sweet Corn: What could be a better accompaniment to a summer B-B-Q than corn? Whether it is steamed or grilled, it is delicious and high in lutein, potassium and B vitamins. Even as a snack, popcorn is a great addition too -- although being sure to skip out on the extra butter and salt!

5) Spinach: This leafy green is rich in lutein, calcium, potassium, vitamins A, C and K and is extremely high on the ORAC scale. This scale which was developed by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and a part of the National Institutes of Health -- provides a score that is associated with minimizing oxidative damage to our cells. This reduction in damage in turn, slows the aging process. 

(6) Swiss chard: This low-calorie, highly-rich-in-vitamins and minerals leafy green is a great healthy addition to a weeknight dinner by simply sauteeing it in a bit of extra virgin olive oil and a splash of balsamic vinegar. If you are feeling you want to add a little more, a finely chopped bacon strip or carmelized onions adds depth to the dish.

(7) Green peas: Green peas are high in lutein, magnesium, iron, zinc, B-vitamins, vitamin A and potassium. Another simple and delicious side dish to a weeknight meal.

(8) Arugula (rocket) has a good amount of lutein in it as well as a load of vitamins and minerals. It is wonderful in salads, a brief wilting with olive oil and garlic or even on top of a small and filling quesadilla.

(9) Brussels sprouts: While these may or may not be a favorite for some, it is a great weight loss food and they are easy to prepare. Even branching out a bit and roasting them with a little chile oil or simple olive oil and vinegar are good!

(10) Broccoli rabe, also high in lutein and vitamins and minerals and fiber, is delicious oven-roasted with a bit of parmesan cheese or chile flakes for a twist. 

(11) Pumpkin: Pumpkin has a large amount of lutein in it as well as fiber and potassium. Again, another good addition to change up the dinner menu and add some zest!

(12) Egg yolks: While clearly not plant-based, this animal-based food has lutein and protein and when eaten in moderation, can be a nice addition to an already healthy diet. 

(13) Sweet Potatoes: Sweet potatoes are well-liked by many, especially with a small amount of a healthy fat like olive oil, salt and pepper. Once again, this food is rich in lutein, vitamin A, potassium, fiber and more.

(14) Carrots are delicious raw or cooked. They are full of lutein, multiple vitamins and minerals and low in calories too.

(15) Asparagus: Last but not least, Asparagus has a good amount of lutein and other nutrients to make it delicious and nutritious.

Monday, July 24, 2017

8 Small, Smart Summer Swaps With Large Health Benefits!

I absolutely love the idea of making small, but significant food swaps and hope you do too. Similar to SMART goals that are S (specific), M (measurable), A (attainable), R (realistic) and T (Time-bound), be smarter about making lasting and simple healthful changes instead of changes that will make you 'slip up' on your new way of 'cleaner eating'. 
For instance, unless you have Celiac Disease or are allergic to wheat, there is no reason to give up gluten. Gluten in and of itself is not 'evil'. Just limit the quantity of bread you eat and watch that it is a quality choice too. Be deliberate in choosing your food battles! 
After all, who doesn't love a toasty brioche or slice of warm, crusty sourdough bread on a limited basis? Have a sugar craving? How about making attempts at minimizing your sugar intake by not adding any to your morning coffee or having plain nonfat yogurt with fresh or frozen berries and a sprinkling of cinnamon instead?
It so restrictive to say you will NEVER eat this or that again, right? It's actually great discipline to see how well you can follow a cleaner diet that will definitely add more quality to your life! Really! Check out the following 8 swaps...

(1) Replace Refined Carbs With Whole Grain Versions.
  • Whole grains are just so good for you and there is so much scientific evidence to prove its worth over and over again. Whole grains contain important key nutrients such as fiber, protein, B vitamins, antioxidants and even important trace minerals such as magnesium, iron and zinc.
  • Another benefit to whole grains is that it does improve bowel movements and the promotion of healthy bacteria in the colon.
  • Additionally, there are many marketing 'tricks' to make you believe that you are getting whole grains, but watch out for those tricks and look out for key words such as: whole-grain corn, whole-grain barley, popcorn, millet, quinoa, and brown rice as examples.
(2) Add a serving of fruits and veggies to your menu.
  • It is always a good to know you are contributing to your heart health by reducing the risk of heart disease as well as providing the body with essential nutrients that also promote healthier skin!
  • It is so easy to swap out pita chips for cucumber slices or vegetable slices to your hummus craving. Even adding fresh fruit or a few almonds or nuts to your nonfat yogurt adds flavor and vitamins!
  • Making scrambled eggs in the morning? Just add in some fresh spinach, mushrooms and onions to make it tasty and more nutritious too.
(3) Go Meatless One Day Per Week (or more if possible).
  • Especially for those out there that may find it difficult to give up meat all together, giving it up one day a week really is not a sacrifice! Reasons to go meatless for one or more days per week can help to reduce heart disease and stroke, limit cancer risk and even diminish the chances of getting diabetes! 
  • Make meat a treat instead of a main meal! By making fruits and veggies the main addition to your diet instead of making meat the main meal you are improving your longevity, your overall health and simply diminishing the opportunity for chronic disease.
  • Make a positive impact on the environment by helping to minimize water usage, reduce greenhouse gases and even reduce fuel dependence. "The meat industry uses so much energy to produce grain for livestock that if instead we used the grain to feed people following a vegetarian diet, it would be enough to feed about 840 million people". (As found in: Pimentel D. Pimental M. Food, Energy and Society, Third Edition. CRC Press 2007, pgs. 67-75).
(4) Replace Sweetened Yogurt with an Unsweetened Variety.
  • We all know and read about how good yogurt is for your health, but be wary that not all yogurts are the same! There are so many yogurts out there with a deceivingly large quantity of added sugars and additives that it defeats the whole purpose of eating healthy in the first place!
  • Instead of the regular Yoplait you would buy at the grocery store, swap it out for a nonfat greek yogurt or even low-fat greek yogurt. Add your own fresh or frozen berries, a small handful of nuts or even a tbsp. of plain rolled oats with a tsp or two of honey or maple syrup to 'liven up' the flavor.
  • If you are having a real craving for a baked potato, swap out the sour cream for nonfat yogurt instead! With a small amount of added herbs and/or a 'wee-bit' of salt, it is hard to tell the difference!
(5) Replace butter with olive oil. 
  • Butter is saturated fat. Definitely not recommended as saturated fat is not good for you. Olive oil, a monounsaturated fat, on the other hand, is 'touted' for its health benefits and positive health contributions. The one premise is to not cook with olive oil, at least not at high temperatures because of its lower 'smoke point'.
  • What is a smoke point? Learn about what a smoke point is here and why it's important to know about it. 
  • Olive oil is deliciously rich tasting and can easily be swapped out for butter. Try it out on avocado toast, season fish or chicken with homemade pesto (watching quantities of the ingredients of course) and make a simple salad dressing with a squeeze of lemon, olive oil and salt and pepper. 
(6) A Serving of Nuts Instead of Pretzels or Chips.
  • In going back to refined carbs -- like pretzels and chips -- its best to go to eating as naturally as one can by eating real nuts.  (*just watch out for the salt content). 
  • Nuts contain so many benefits such as anti-inflammatory qualities, lowering prostate cancer risk for men, and lowering risk of colorectal cancer in women in addition to more benefits found here
  • Nuts most certainly lower the risk of death from many chronic conditions. 
(7) Replace Red or Processed Meat with Plant-Based Protein.
  • There is more and more note-worthy, impactful information available to us now linking red and processed meat with a risk of cancer. A good reason to minimize if not stop eating it all together.
  • There are plenty of hearty and delicious substitutes for red meat that include 'umami' tasting grain bowls, veggie burgers and even rich and delicious hummus dips.
  • The American Institute for Cancer Research advises eating no more than 18 ounces of red meat a week, in addition to limiting bacon and other processed meats.
(8) Have a serving of seafood instead of chicken or beef.
  • Seafood is a major source of omega-3 fatty acids which are crucial for our health by lowering triglyceride levels, improving blood pressure and lowering the risk of atherosclerosis (too much plaque formation in arteries). 
  • Seafood cooks up fast and hence is on the dinner table quickly. This can be a big advantage for weeknight dinners when time is limited, yet a nutritious meal is important for getting 'things done' during the week!
  • Lastly, seafood or fish doesn't need to smell "fishy". In fact, the fresher the fish makes the smell nonexistent! As in everything, watch for a good sale price or shop around. It is worth it to make seafood a regular part of your healthy diet. 
Eating healthfully doesn't mean you've got to sacrifice taste! It's about making simple, doable changes that make you feel like you are not 'missing out' on good foods and at the same time you are giving yourself the benefit of leading a healthier lifestyle. A win-win best case health scenario is always good.

'Swap out the 'pharmaceuticals' with real food every day'.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Quiz: What are the best & worst foods for belly fat?

Isn't it frustrating to know that you can be so diligent with your workouts -- then, you realize that you can 'undo' all your hard work by eating some not so good food choices. Remember though that it is not only the food choices that are chosen, but the quantities by which they are eaten. Portion-control is so important too! Just visualize your good hard work benefitting you when you step on the scale, sleep better at night and just have more energy throughout your day! It's worth it!

Those 'not so good food choices' along with not paying attention to better portion control contribute to belly fat which is the worst kind of fat in our body. This kind of fat is linked to type 2 diabetes, stroke and heart disease. Even if you have genes that contribute to it, you still can do quite a bit of prevention by eating right and exercising.

Now that you know how dangerous belly fat is for the body, see a list of fat burning workouts geared for women that target this area. The article is called: Fat Burning Workouts for Women -- The Best Way To Lose Belly Fat and can be found at the following link:

The focus on achieving and maintaining one's health is critical to leading a healthy and vivacious lifestyle after all. Wouldn't you agree? 

Friday, July 14, 2017

What part does food play in our wellbeing?

As we explore the world of health and wellbeing, we must not overlook the whole picture of what health provides for us. What is the whole picture? Good question to ask, but there truly is no one good answer. 

Wellbeing encompasses so many moving parts starting with our surrounding environment, how we nourish (or don't nourish) ourselves, how we challenge ourselves through a healthy mental eagerness to learn, how satisfied we are in our social circles and let's not forget personal accomplishment and fulfillment. 

We tend to focus on food, right? Why not, food is something that we need not only to survive, but to nourish us as well. But think of all of the delicious and nutritious foods that we have available to us. For those of us fortunate enough to live in well-populated areas with good working infra-structures, we even have more choices in the foods we eat. How about variety? Variety in fruits, vegetables, proteins and grains is essential, so then why focus merely on what the media tells us? The media talks about 'superfoods', but you simply don't hear to much about the importance of nutritional variety, do you? 

It is good to reflect on the foods we eat on a daily basis, not just to eat when we are hungry (or not), but how will that food that we are about to eat benefit our wellbeing? We come full circle to variety again, why not switch up our diets to add a variety of fruits and vegetables, grains and proteins, but let's remember portion size too. 

Why not have a glass of red wine with dinner or a small piece of dark chocolate for dessert? Why should that be off limits to us -- unless of course your doctor restricts that from your diet for some health reason. Have you known of a healthy and nutritious food that you haven't had in your diet for awhile? Is it because there is so much hype about the health benefits of chia seeds or avocados or cauliflower? 

While those foods are excellent, why not add a food you haven't had in your diet for awhile -- like maybe radishes, or watermelon, or watercress or mustard greens? All of those foods just mentioned have loads of vitamins and minerals that lead to better health. Below is a list of some foods that you don't hear too much about in the media, but are vitally important to providing us with essential nutrients. It is after all healthy variety that optimizes our wellbeing. Isn't that what we want?
Just as those foods mentioned above may or may not have been in your diet lately, why not start making healthy variety part of the way we look at life? Yes, routines are important, but it is also healthy to liven up our lives a bit and challenge ourselves to do different things. Take up a new hobby, drive to work on a different route, get up 10 minutes earlier than usual to simply sit quietly, bike ride to the grocery store or take kayaking classes at your local YMCA. It is all about optimizing our wellbeing and that is what we should want for ourselves and our loved ones, don't you think? 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

What are 'stripped' carbs anyway?

Carbohydrates -- we love them -- we hate them -- can't decide whether or not to forget about them all together or simply not care and eat every carb imaginable, right? Why do we hear that carbs are bad and therefore we need to go on a 'low-carb diet' or we need to 'carbo-load' before a race? There is a difference between good carbs and bad carbs and I believe most people know this, but regardless a decision for 'all or nothing' seems to be heard by many. 

Roxanne B. Sukol, a preventive medicine specialist and medical director of the Cleveland Clinic's Wellness Enterprise believes that people should refer to the refined carbs as 'stripped carbs'. That is, stripped carbs have no nutritional value. 

Interestingly enough, refined carbs start out like whole-grain carbs, but once 'processed' by food makers, they lose their fiber-rich properties. Once this process happens, good healthy choices go out the window. So, as the article points out, clients shouldn't be wary of cutting carbs out of their diet all together, but should just swap out the refined carbs for the whole grain carbs.

Carbohydrates, a macronutrient, serve the body in by providing energy and regulating blood glucose. Ideally, carbs should be used up first as an energy source. That allows for protein to do its job in making hormones and muscles along with other essential tasks. Carbs can only be stored in our bodies on a limited basis as well, hence another reason to have this very important macronutrient in the right amount. So generally speaking, if physically active or wanting to maintain weight, a range of 100-150 grams of carbohydrates a day is good. This all depends on one's health though and certainly it is best to check with a physician before starting any kind of diet.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Exercise: The Secret To Aging S-L-O-W-L-Y

I may not be able to convince you that exercising everyday is beneficial for you, but will you pay attention when scientific study after study says it really does make a difference? In fact, there are 19 good reasons to exercise! Unfortunately, there will always be someone who will be so averse to exercise that there is nothing one can do to convince them of the benefits otherwise, right? But, how much does one truly value the quality of their life?

This is where the "why" comes in. Why should we want to be better people, more productive at work, more loving with our families, have more of a positive outlook on life? The 'whys' in the previous statement are merely what draws us out to be better human beings, but think of the health benefits that exercise provides us.

Let's break it down even further and evaluate what draws our attention to the importance of exercise, starting with the some of the following points:

(1) Slows biological aging: I always think of little kids, especially when it comes to celebrating their birthdays. How many times have we heard an 8-year-old or a 12-year-old say something like: 'I just turned 12 today'! with all the exuberance that they can muster. How many times do we hear a 43-year-old person shout out, 'I'm 43-years-old today!' with the same exuberance as that child? Probably not many! 

Simply stated, it has been found that people who regularly exercise age more gracefully. The study conducted by Brigham Young University discusses this very thing and can be found by going to this link. The more active we are, the better the biological aging process unfolds for us. 

(2) Lengthen Your Lifespan: Imagine adding years -- quality years -- to your life? Really, who doesn't want to have more time to enjoy their lives, their families, travel, work and vacations? It has been found that people who actually followed through with completing a regimen of moderate exercise levels for at least 150 minutes a week added 3.4 years on to their lifespans! Breaking that down even further, exercising a mere 30 minutes a day makes a world of difference! If 30 minutes is too much, how about breaking that down even further to 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes at lunchtime and 10 minutes in the evening? You've got to start somewhere, right? Our lifespans and energy levels typically increase even more when exercise levels increase too. 

(3) Other health benefits from regular exercise include:
  • lowering of blood pressure;
  • a healthier approach to dealing with stress;
  • strengthening of the heart and keeping the arteries in a healthy state to deliver blood to our other organs;
  • sleeping better;
  • lowering type 2 diabetes risk;
  • maintaining proper immune function;
  • breathing better;
  • and, a general healthier and more positive outlook on life.
In conclusion, I may or may not have convinced you that exercise is beneficial for you, but why wouldn't you want to give yourself the best gift ever -- good health that enables you to follow your 'heart's desires' to live life to the fullest?

If you have interest in better health, go to another highly recommended website called, 'Positive Health Wellness', that covers other immensely important topics of interest that include diet & nutrition, exercise, recipes, beauty and aging and even pain relief!

Monday, June 12, 2017

What is the Mediterranean Diet and should we follow it?

Can we even count how many diets exist today? How well do they work? When it comes to the word 'diet', it just sends such a negative message to people! It sounds so restrictive and frankly, a restrictive diet may be necessary for some that are in medical need of it, but what about those people that are relatively healthy, and just merely want to lose a few pounds? Generally speaking, the Mediterranean diet is one of the most sensible-sounding diets out there right now, and its recommended for people in order to minimize their chances of getting heart disease, cancer, depression and even dementia.

On another note, have you heard of the Blue Zones? The Blue Zones are based on 5 geographical regions in the world where people generally live to 100+ years...healthfully. The Blue Zones follow a sensible diet -- such as the Mediterranean diet -- along with other common denominators that consist of moving naturally, having a purpose in life, minimizing stress, following an 80% rule by eating deliberately and slowing down as to not overeat, eating mostly plant-based foods, drinking alcohol moderately, participating in a faith-based community, putting family first and keeping a strong social supportive group as one's 'tribe' of people. 

Now, going back to the Mediterranean diet and how the Blue Zones sets the tone for leading a healthy life, why not eat a variety of foods that include a multitude of fruits and vegetables. Think of the spectrum of the colors of the rainbow and apply those colors to the endless amounts of fruits and vegetables that include those foods. 

Imagine matching the order of 'rainbow colors' to those of a variety of fruits and vegetables. Here is an idea of what I mean:
  • The first color of the rainbow, Red, best represents nutritious and natural antioxidants that occur in our foods such as red wine and red grapes for Resveratrol; chile peppers for Capsaicin; and tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit and bellpeppers for Lycopene
  • The second color, Orange, best represents the natural antioxidants in the following foods such as Curcumin found in curry; papaya and tangerines that contain Beta-Cryptoxanthin which are important for our vision, bone and cell growth; sweet potatoes, carrots, winter squash and cantaloupe that contain Alpha-Carotene and lastly, citrus which contains the antioxidants Hesperidin and Naringenin.
  • Our third color, Yellow, best represents Bromelain which is found in pineapple; Limonoids found in citrus and lastly, Lutein and Zeaxanthin found in foods like corn, leafy greens, and mango. 
  • The color Green which follows next in the rainbow spectrum of colors best represents Chlorophyll found in foods like watercress, leeks, arugula and parsely; Apigenin and Luteolin, two natural and healthful compounds found in foods like celery and parsley; Catechins found in green tea and lastly, Isothiocyanates found in Kale, brussels sprouts and broccoli. 
  • The fifth (Blue), sixth (Indigo) and seventh (Violet) colors would fall into the category of the Purples contain Indoles, Ellagic Acid and Anthocyanins which are best represented by such foods as purple cauliflower, purple cabbage, a variety of berries, red cabbage, eggplant and grapes. 
Other food categories that fall under the Mediterranean diet include:
  • Eating a majority of plant-based foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes'
  • Exchanging butter with healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil;
  • Flavoring foods with herbs and spices rather than salt; 
  • Restraining from eating red meat to a few times a month;
  • Eating fish and poultry a minimum of two times a week;
  • Enjoying meals with family and friends where foods are eaten more deliberately instead of in a rushed state;
  • Drinking a moderate amount of red wine and lastly, getting plenty of exercise.
There is no doubt that there are many overlapping similarities when it comes to following the Mediterranean diet and attaining the many of the health-benefits that can be found in the Blue Zones. 
So why not try it out, the worse thing that can happen is living a healthier life -- isn't that incentive enough?