Saturday, February 28, 2009

Nutrition Consultants: Have you seen this video??

I am not sure how real this is... my DH's cousin Laurie sent me a link to this video, which hopefully I can embed in my website so you can see it without leaving the page:

Is this for real?? I have heard rumors about the ADA trying to pass a law to prohibit anyone without an RD from having a nutritional practice. My personal journey has taught me that I should leave my health to no one except me. I am my best healer.. but it is nice to have help from someone who knows what they are doing and can help me look at alternatives I have not considered before. I am very grateful for the help I have received from several chiropractors, naturopaths, trainers, massage therapists -- all of whom are helping me live a healthy, balanced life (at least as much as possible). I am alarmed that this does not leave us with many options.

Any thoughts?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Taking Nutrition Step by Step

Overwhelmed. That's how I feel. Now. I'm taking a moment to sit and ponder. And, I realize, I'm overwhelmed. Duh. It is my fault, of course. I'm trying to finish the Phase 1 of my masters degree by year's end. I'm scheduling time to coordinate a new bellydance choreography for my friend Winnie's birthday party in April. I'm taking a speech-enhancement meeting every other week. I'm signing up for dinners, meetings, drum circles, and other events every week. I'm not getting enough rest during the week and the weekends. And, I am only now wondering why my food plan isn't working out?

I realize now: I need to slow it down. If I eat well and take care of my body, I will have enough energy for everything else! If I were working with clients seeking nutritional advice, I would say, "let's take it one step at a time." Step by step. Progress, not perfection is the name of the game when it comes to healthy eating. Here is my general plan to maintaining wellness:

** Before I get started, I cannot stress the importance of meal planning! It makes the week go by easier and you won't have that "what will we have for dinner?" question every night! It will save you money by not eating out all the time and not wasting food. I do my meal planning Friday nights and buy organic foods from the local farmer's market Saturday morning.

1) I fill up on fruits and (mostly) veggies with every meal. I try to eat a small salad with lunch and dinner, or at least one side salad with my main meal (dinner) of the day. I mix it up and try to have some raw and some cooked veggies every day. I find fermented veggies (see #7 below) easier to digest than some raw veggies. I drink water and very diluted tea as my main source of hydration (but not during meals!).

2) I eat very few to no grains. If I were to eat grains (which my health won't really allow much of) I would try to eat sprouted, soaked grains so they are more easily assimilated into the body. Nourishing Traditions is a fabulous cookbook that covers sprouting grains.

3) I would slowly cut out processed, refined foods, even from "natural food" stores. Donate what you can, use up what you have leftover. No need to waste... just don't buy more!

4) I would slowly switch from "bad" oils to "good" oils. I avoid all vegetable oils except maybe olive and coconut oil. A high quality organic butter made from grassfed cowmilk is doable. I wouldn't eat any other oils, except from raw or soaked/dried nuts and grassfed animal fats.

5) I would switch to organic fruits, vegetables, and meats as often as I can. Here's a good reference website for the best foods to buy organic. I snack on good, healthy nuts - soaking and drying them first makes them easier to digest. I also eat dried sea veggies, like nori, for snack for a good source of sodium and iodine.

6) I am transitioning into eating more organic grassfed or pastured animal products. These animals are not injected with hormones, corn, grains, soy, or antibiotics to fatten them up. They have better nutritional value and are worth the expense! Here is a directory of local farmers that sell grassfed products. I don't know how well I tolerate raw milk, but I would consider raw dairy from grassfed cows and pastured eggs. I cannot stress the importance of grassfed protein, especially for people like me who have food intolerances to grains and soy (not to mention skipping out on all the other junk!).

7) I eat probiotic foods -- they are meant to be easily digested because of the healthy cultures they have that will support the friendly bacteria in your digestive tract. I suggest you try these out from the grocery store first before attempting to make them, just to make sure you like them first! Kombucha is a refreshing, fizzy, low-sugar, low-caffeine drink. Kimchi is a Korean version of sauerkraut. Raw cheeses have friendly cultures (stuff that eats up the lactose). There are alot of different probiotic foods. Find ones you like!

I try to incorporate all these steps into my weekly food plan, but some weeks are better than others. This week stunk. I ended up eating corn (remember Corn Nuts? Those overly-salty, crunchy fried corn bits?) a couple of days ago and am still paying for it. My body is not happy, but it really appreciated the sauteed spinach with garlic last night. I also ended up eating out twice this week unexpectedly. Another wrench in a perfectly meal-planned week. Next week will be better. Remember, progress, not perfection. Wishing you a progressive weekend!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My Real Food Testimonial

Thanks to the wonderful Real Food Media Blog Network for inspiring me to write this blog entry for Real Food Wednesday!

I really have to thank all the wonderful food I've been eating! In January of 2006, my wonderful naturopath told me I needed to cut soy, wheat, dairy, and corn out of my diet. Needless to say, I had to redefine what food was for me, and I learned the beginnings of cooking and eating healthier. Within three weeks, I was able to stop taking medication for high blood pressure and diabetes -- something that I did not think was possible, given that I have been taking medication since I graduated high school (too many years to count! LOL). Eating real foods gave me hope.

This hope led me to studying holistic nutrition, which then led me to Nourishing Traditions and the Weston A. Price Foundation, all within the past 6 months. I am amazed at all the various things I've learned about bad, bad soy (I ate soy before I was born!), enzymes and enzyme inhibitors, pasteurization, pesticides, food additives, etc. It is scary to think about what we as a society have learned is acceptable as food.

Real foods have helped DH and me eliminate leaky gut syndrome and upset GI tract symptoms. They have also helped me to reduce the effects of candida (with probiotics and cutting sugar out completely). Real food tastes better, plus there is a huge LOVE factor that goes into real food that you won't find in mechanically processed foods. I feel this is an extremely important intangible factor that we are missing if we aren't eating real food.

Today, I still struggle to get my blood sugars to a "normal" range, but I am learning to trust myself. I realize now that I am my best healer. I do not want to get back onto medication! Working with my OMD, I am taking herbs and botanicals and eating fermented, probiotic, and homecooked foods to nourish and strengthen all my body systems. I am still in the process of eliminating foods that don't work for me. And I still make mistakes in eating "bad" food every once in a while (especially when forced to eat out). It's a slow but good learning process. And I'm not willing to turn back on all that I've learned!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Skin & Hair Nutrition: Are your beauty products toxic?

There are alot of blogs talking about nutrition this way or that way, but how many blogs talk about skin and hair nutrition? Or, let me ask this, how many nutrition blogs talk about skin and hair nutrition?? How about mine!

Your skin is the largest organ of your body -- did you know that? Your skin is "eating" things every time you wash your scalp, put on lotion, deodorant, perfume.. basically everything that touches your skin. That covers makeup, shampoos, conditioners, body lotions, body wash lotions, makeup removers, cleansers, sunscreens, soaps, etc. The list is long! So, what are YOU feeding your skin?

As one of my homework assignments from my herbal class, I had to compare a natural beauty product against a commercial product. This research led me to a website at the Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database. It is run by the researchers at the Environmental Working Group, a group that felt that the public needs to know what is in health products that are not regulated or tested. There are more than 41,000 products available in the database, with a breakdown of over 8000 ingredients.

Just because your products says it's "natural" or "organic" does not make it safe for you to use! For example, I use JASON Lavender Natural Shampoo. I thought that because it had lavender in it as well as organic and natural ingredients, it would rate a 1 out of 10 (10 being the worst possible stuff on the planet). Nope, it rated **6** out of 10 and is considered a "moderate hazard." 83% of shampoos tested actually performed better than this one.

My sunscreen moisturizer, Avalon Organics Vitamin C Suncreen Moisture Plus Lotion SPF 15, scored a piddly **7** out of 10 and is considered a "not recommended" option. Ingredients contained have been linked to: cancer, developmental/reproductive toxicity, allergies, organ toxicity, skin/eye irritations, neurotoxicity, etc. Ugh! The key ingredients in most sunscreens do seem to be particularly bad. My guess is, if you can be in the sun for less than 30 hour and do not have fair skin, it's probably safe to not use sunscreen. Our skin needs some amount of time in the sun (15 or so minutes every day if possible) to create our body's vitamin D, but beyond that, cover up with clothing and being in the shade.

I am not telling you to throw away bad stuff you own, unless you can afford to do so (and want to do so!). The other side of the coin is that you shouldn't waste things either. If it's something you can donate or reuse in another way, do so. I am hoping to switch out my highly unsafe stuff for safer products as I run out of things because I don't want to just throw things away. That would lead to an even bigger problem with our Mother Earth! But that's my MO. Yours is up to you...

I am hoping you find this informational and possibly even eye-opening. I am not claiming that all their data is absolutely correct and irrefutable, but it is worth taking a look to see if what you are feeding your skin matches what you eat.. for the better!

If you have any suggestions for natural skin care (that doesn't show up above a 1 or 2 out of 10 on that scale), please comment and I'll post! Thanks!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Primal Chicken Gumbo

Hi folks! Had to post this recipe on here for a few of my dedicated (!) readers. Cheeseslave at is requesting bone broth recipes, so here's my contribution.

As the oldest of four kids (and a budding chef!), I would pick a turkey dinner clean to the bone after Thanksgiving. To the bone! And then, my mom would take the carcass and stick it in a pot of water to cook for a while. Best soup I ever had! After reading Nourishing Traditions (and reading Cheeseslave's website LOL), I realized how important it is to keep this tradition going - for all the lovely nutrients that we drink in the broth. When you let the broth simmer so long, it starts looking creamy - that's when you have the good stuff!

I'm not sure where the original non-primal recipe came from.. I've had it for so long, the paper is a little warped! So, in order to make it fit better with my primal/traditional lifestyle, I took out the rice and the roux (flour/oil thickener). The color is not quite like the original with the roux, but it does thicken if you use okra. It does take a while to put everything together, but once you get it going, definitely a keeper!

I plan on making this sometime over the weekend (with the upcoming rain and all), so hopefully will have a photo soon.

6 quarts chicken/turkey homemade stock
2-3 C leftover chicken/turkey
1 pound natural andouille sausage (I use nitrate-/nitrite-free sausage)
2 pounds shrimp
2 pounds okra (I use the frozen chopped kind bc it's easier to find & cheaper)
2 onions, chopped
1 bunch green onions with tops, chopped
2-3 bell peppers, chopped
5 ribs celery, chopped
5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
3 bay leaves
1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
Creole seasoning to taste OR black, white, & cayenne peppers to taste
A few dashes of Tabasco or hot sauce to taste
Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Slice the andouille sausage up and brown, pour off the fat.

Pour stock into large stockpot. Add sausage, onions, green onions, bell peppers, and celery. (I'm lazy so I just stick them all in at once!). Add bay leaves, creole seasonings or pepper mixture to stockpot. Bring to boil. Reduce to simmer for 30 minutes. Add salt & pepper to taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Add okra and cook for another 30 minutes or so. Add leftover cooked chicken/turkey meat and parsley. Simmer for another 15-30 minutes. Adjust seasonings, salt, pepper, Tabasco/hot sauce as needed. If it looks too thin, simmer for a while longer.

5 minutes before you're ready to eat, throw in shrimp. Do NOT overcook shrimp. A few minutes at most (otherwise they will get rubbery in texture).

You can eat it straight in a bowl, or if you miss rice, pour gumbo over mashed cauliflower. Works like a charm!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Unbelievably Good Brussell Sprouts - Who Knew??

I had to share this recipe. Tried it tonight as a spur-of-the-moment-don't-know-what-else-to-do-with-them afterthought. I had this lovely bunch of organic brussell sprouts on sale I bought on my last gaga trip to Whole Foods. I forgot how gi-normous that store is in the Tustin District area. I came across the original recipe at but used my intuition to add the ingredients. this is quick and easy to make, if you like using the oven!

OK, some of you, at this point, may be gagging, rolling your eyes, or saying "EW!" I was once like you (maybe worse) since the only kind of brussell sprouts I could eat earlier was the frozen boxed kind that came with that butter sauce (I don't even want to look at what's in that butter sauce now!). The last time I made brussell sprouts from scratch, I took one bite and threw the rest away. Even if you've never liked them before, I DOUBLEDARE you to try this simple recipe out. If you like them, thank me! If not, at least I can give you a virtual round of applause for your being plucky enough to try them (and add to your health). What can I say??

Brussell sprouts are amazingly healthy for you. According to Bowden's book The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, they contain a phytonutrient presuades precancerous cells to commit suicide. The sulforaphane helps reduce damage from free radicals and fight carcinogens. It also is what gives all members of the cabbage family their distinct smell! Brussell sprouts are a good source of folic acid, potassium, vitamin K, and beta-carotene.

A bunch of brussell sprouts (quartered if big, halved if small for bite-sized pieces)
Drizzle olive oil to coat - use light and save the extra virgin for raw foods
Sea salt (Realsalt is my fave)
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Basically, add enough of the olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper to coat the edges of the brussell sprouts. Bake for up to 30-45 minutes, turning the bunch every 7 minutes or so. Bake them until they are dark brown on the edges.

I think cooking them to the dark brown stage is what makes them sweet. Sorry raw foodies... I really enjoyed this!

PS - All the recipes I post here have been tested and tasted by me and usually a bunch of other people, including B. I won't post a recipe that I haven't enjoyed myself first!

Photo courtesy of SillySally on flickr

Calling All Gardeners and Yards!

If you are someone with a green thumb and have no yard to grow some yummy tomatoes? Or, maybe you are someone wants a blooming productive yard but have no time to tend a garden? You all can come together at and find others in your local area with either the yard or the green thumb. There are resources there to help you understand the concept of yardsharing with others.

I am posting this information because I think participating in yardsharing is a GOOD THING. You have opportunities to get to know your neighbors and make new friends. You participate in the wonders of Nature. You get your hands dirty (Hey city folks, have you ever tried to walk on grass barefoot??? Get grounded in Mother Earth!) and let the earth refresh you. You get exercise AND a healthy dose of Vitamin D from the sun! You will help create food that does not need to be driven thousands of miles from its growing site. And, as icing on the cake, you will have some wonderful organic produce that you can share with your family.

Nothing beats fresh, organic food that has been loved and cared for. In turn, that food will nourish you and yours.

Check out Hyperlocavore... Liz is the creator of Hyperlocavore. You can find her at @hyperlocavore on Twitter. You can also find me on her site in the Orange County group. I have a yard I'm willing to share (or at least make some room to share!), but I need some people to share it! I unfortunately have a mostly brown thumb, so I really would like to learn how to grow some good herbs for fresh, tasty cooking.

Photo courtsey of sa_ku_ra on flickr

Monday, February 2, 2009

Giveaway for a Case of Probiotic Salsa & Relish

My friend @cheeseslave on is having a giveaway for a case of Zukay's probiotic salsa and relish! If you are interested in winning this giveaway, please go to her website. Probiotic foods are fantastic - full of digestive enzymes that help your body absorb food. Raw foods with a good twist! Probiotic foods are good to eat with every meal. Some good ones to try (aside from Zukay's salsa and relish!) are kimchi (see previous blog entry), sauerkraut, kombucha (my kind of "beer"), takuan, pickled carrots, etc. The list goes long!

I'm interested in winning, thus the new blog entry!

@realfood2health on

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Crispy Nuts or Sweet Almonds

Nuts are a great snack to eat. Eating nuts with foods higher in carbohydrates (fruits, veggies) helps keep blood sugar levels more even. They also help you stay fuller longer. However, nuts also have naturally occuring enzyme inhibitors that may cause digestive problems (like wheat and other grains). According to Sally Fallon's book Nourishing Traditions, we should imitate the Aztecs in soaking them first in brine then drying them out in the sun before using the nuts. The salt helps activate the enzymes that break down the enzyme inhibitors in raw nuts. Giving the enzymes enough time to do their job, we can dehydrate the nuts to make them crispy.

This recipe below is adapted from Nourishing Traditions, my all-time-favorite cookbook. You can use just about any nut; you may have to adjust the time spent dehydrating and soaking though. See notes below for exceptions.

4 C raw nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts, cashews*, macadamia nuts, pine nuts, sunflower seeds)
1 Tbsp sea salt
good filtered water

Soak nuts in filtered water and sea salt for at least 7 hours or overnight. Place in oven or dehydrator no higher than 150 degrees. Leave in heat from 12 to 24 hours. Smaller nuts will take less time than bigger nuts.

Cashews: soak for no longer than 6 hours. Place in 200 to 250 degree oven for 12 to 24 hours.

What about the Sweet Almonds? Well, I discovered this one day when I was experimenting with stevia. My favorite brand of Stevia is called SweetLeaf. They have LOTS of different flavors of stevia. I soak my almonds for a day (or two, I always change the water daily). Just a small amount of nuts, enough for snacking. I keep them wet and cold in the fridge. When I am ready to eat them, I put a few drops of cinnamon-flavored stevia (this stuff is pretty powerful and bitter if too strong) and mix the almonds around. I find them easier to eat this way, raw and wet, although I may try one day to sweeten them and then dehydrate them to see how the taste is affected. They taste like those crunchy coated nuts at the carnivals and fairs without the sugar, flour, corn syrup, and anything else they add that is unhealthy for us.

Photo from flickr by gaetanlee