Tag Archives: nutrition

Living A Healthy Lifestyle Is Not Extreme, But The Consequences Of An Unhealthy Lifestyle Are.

One of the most common deterrents people have with switching to a clean and healthy lifestyle is that they think they’ll have to give up all the fun things in life. They think taking all the junk out of their diets is “too extreme”.

Losing all your hair and feeling nauseous everyday due to chemotherapy is extreme.

Having your chest cut open to unblock your arteries is extreme.

Being put in a care home at age 65 because you get lost going for a walk around the block and can’t recognize your own kids is extreme.

Eating real, whole foods while making time for exercise and meditation every day is NOT extreme.

Avoiding junk and any foods you may be allergic to is NOT extreme.

And it definitely doesn’t take the fun out of life. If consuming crap is the only thing you do for fun then you need to re-evaluate your life. I get that there is a social aspect to food but there are plenty of restaurants that offer healthier options now, and eating unhealthy food once in awhile at a social event isn’t going to give you cancer or heart disease or Alzheimer’s; it’s your daily habits that count.


Quinoa Salad with Feta, Cucumbers, Red Peppers, and Raisins

I recreated this quinoa salad about a year ago after eating it at a restaurant. I played around with the ingredients and used my go-to olive oil and apple cider vinegar dressing. It is quick and easy to prepare, healthy and delicious! This salad has now become a staple at my house. It is filling enough to be eaten as a main meal but also makes a great side dish. I sometimes add in other leafy greens or nuts but the basic recipe is as follows:

Ingredients: (serves 5)

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 cucumber
  • I head of romaine lettuce
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin cold-pressed olive oil
  • 2 TBSP Apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt (or to taste)


  1. Cook the quinoa according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, dice the cucumber and red pepper and add to a large bowl. Wash, dry, and chop the lettuce, then add to the bowl.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients including the cooked quinoa to the bowl. Stir well to combine.

*you can add more or less of the ingredients based on your personal preferences. Feel free to add in other leafy greens as well.

My Kid Does Not Need Your Pity: Avoiding Junk Food Is Not A Deprivation, It’s A Gift

If I had a nickel for every time someone expressed pity for my child because she’s never been to McDonald’s I’d be a billionaire.

While I let my child eat treats at parties and school events to avoid having her feel left out, I do not keep them at home nor do I take her through drive-thrus. I buy and make healthy treats at home and we either order takeout or go to a restaurant as a family once a week, but fast food restaurants are off limits, and the other 6 days of the week we eat a healthy home-cooked meal. She does not feel deprived because our way of eating is normal to her.

She is only 5 so she is not even aware yet of the difference between her diet and most kids’ diets. When she is old enough to notice and asks to try some of those other foods she will also be old enough to notice a difference in the way her body feels when she eats them. I am confident that that difference, coupled with the education I will give her about nutrition will make her want to continue eating healthy. And I have no doubt that 20 years from now, when the knowledge of the harmful effects of processed junk food on kids and the impact it has on their lifelong health is more mainstream, she will thank me. She will not have to struggle in her 20’s or 30’s or any age to figure out why she feels so crappy and “unwell” all the time.

If you follow similar food rules in your family, don’t feel bad about not giving your kids junk food. Feel good about giving them lifelong good health. Because what they eat now will affect their disease risk in adulthood. Everything you feed your kids is either nourishing them or harming them, so choose real food, not processed artificial junk.

The long-term benefits of eating healthy far outweigh any short-term happiness that comes with eating chicken nuggets and doughnuts.

Invest In Your Health: Eat Real Food

One of the reasons why people choose processed food over real food is the cost.  Real food costs more, and if you’re comparing organic food the price difference is even greater.  I understand that it’s hard for a lot of families to afford fresh, wholesome food.  But it needs to be at the top of everyone’s priority list.  Your health and your family’s health should come first.  That may mean cutting costs in other departments (housing, clothing, entertainment, etc), but nothing is more important than your health.  The old saying goes “you are what you eat”, NOT “you are what you wear”, or “you are what you live in”, or “you are what you drive”…..

Good quality food made with real ingredients and nothing artificial is worth the investment; your return on that investment will be good health.  That, in my opinion, trumps everything else.  

Nutrient Pairing: How To Get The Most Nutrition Out Of Your Food

 Edit Edit    A few months ago I found out that my daughter had an iron deficiency. I was shocked considering how many leafy greens she consumes in a day, not to mention how meticulous I am about making sure that she gets adequate amounts of all the food groups.

Her pediatrician suggested that she could be consuming too much dairy. A light bulb went off right away as I already knew that calcium blocks iron absorption, but I had failed to factor that in when planning her meals. I had not only been giving her too much dairy (she loves cheese and yogurt), but I had been adding it to almost every meal ever since I stopped breastfeeding her several months ago. She wouldn’t drink milk alone and I misguidedly thought that she needed it to replace the breastmilk that she wasn’t getting anymore. 

 Sooo I started her on an iron supplement and reduced her dairy intake. The doctor asked that I have her iron and hemoglobin levels checked again in about ten days to make sure her body was absorbing the iron. Her hemoglobin levels increased so quickly that her pediatrician said he would have expected to see those results after a month of taking supplements, not after a mere ten days. Clearly the reduced dairy made a huge difference as that was the only change I had made to her diet.

Sometimes nutrient deficiencies are not caused by an inadequate amount of that nutrient in your diet but rather by too much of an anti-nutrient, as in my daughter’s case. Bioavailability refers to how well a nutrient can be absorbed and used by your body. Just because a food contains a high amount of a certain nutrient doesn’t necessarily mean that your body will absorb it, and some nutrients need others in order to be absorbed. 

 Also bear in mind that the food that we eat today is not as nutrient dense as it was a few decades ago. By breeding and selecting for varieties that give better yield, longer shelf life, disease resistance and more durability during transport, we have lost the nutrient density that the original varieties contained1 in addition to the loss of nutrients from soil depletion. This is why it is important to be mindful of which nutrients work well together and which don’t when planning your meals in order to get the most nutrition possible from your food.

Tips on getting more nutrition out of your food:

1. Iron. Pair your iron-rich foods (red meat, beans, lentils, pork, poultry, seafood, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fortified cereals, bread and pasta) with some fruit or red peppers to make sure that you get enough Vitamin C to help your body absorb all that iron. Zinc also aids iron absorption. Foods high in zinc include oysters, meat and poultry, beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, fortified cereals, and seafood.

2. Calcium. Most dairy is fortified with vitamin D to make sure that your body can absorb the calcium, but if you’re vegan or lactose-intolerant, then you should pair your non-dairy calcium-rich foods with some vitamin D to ensure that you are absorbing it. Mushrooms are the only vegan food sources of vitamin D aside from fortified beverages, so a supplement might be a good idea if you don’t get a lot of sun exposure. Inulin is also required for calcium absorption; it can be found in bananas, garlic, leeks, asparagus, onions, and certain herbs.

3. Phytates. Phytate binds to minerals and makes them less bioavailable2. Sprouting grains, beans, nuts and seeds before you eat them will reduce their phytate content, allowing your body to absorb more of the zinc, iron, calcium, and magnesium in those foods2.

4. Vitamins A, D, E, and K. These are the fat soluble vitamins, meaning that they need fat to be absorbed by your body. Pair them with healthy fats like vegetable oils, avocados, and nuts. If you follow a low-fat diet you could be hindering your body’s ability to absorb these vitamins. Healthy fats are an important part of a balanced diet.     

5. Avoid caffeine with meals. Caffeine blocks the absorption of many vitamins and minerals, so if you choose to drink coffee or tea, do so in moderation as excessive caffeine intake can lead to nutrient deficiencies.

7. Eat a variety of healthy foods in moderation.  You can eat the healthiest foods in the world but too much of anything is never a good thing.

For an example of a recipe that uses the above food pairing rules try my Mango Kiwi Banana Smoothie With Greens and Avocado


1. M.J. Stephey. Eating your veggies: not as good for you? TIME, 2009. http://content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1880145,00.html

2. Sandberg, Ann-Sofie; Andlid, Thomas. Phytogenic and microbial phytases in human nutrition. International Journal of Food Science & Technology. Oct2002, Vol. 37 Issue 7, p823-833. 11p. DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-2621.2002.00641.x.

3. World’s Healthiest Foods. http://www.whfoods.com/

My Top 5 Green Juice Recipes.

My toddler and I drink green juice every day. I just don’t feel the same if I don’t drink my green juice, sort of how people who are accustomed to drinking coffee every morning can’t survive without it. My daughter has also become accustomed to starting every day with green juice, and I’m hoping that it will remain a life-long habit. I only give her about 4-5 ounces for now since she’s just a tot.

I wish I could make fresh juice every morning, but since it’s so time consuming I make 2 days worth every other morning and store the next day’s juice in the fridge. I’m hoping that when my daughter is older and more independent I will be able to juice every day, but for now I simply just don’t have the time.

Although fresh pressed juice is the most nutritious, a cold-press juicer allows most of the nutrients and enzymes to be retained for a few days. Also, storing the juice in a glass mason jar filled close to the brim prevents oxygen from degrading the enzymes.

I alternate between 5 different recipes, so that I’m never making the same juice more than once a week (although I do drink the same juice for 2 days at a time). This ensures that we get a variety of nutrients and also because too much of a good thing can lead to trouble. No matter how good Kale is for you, overdosing on it can still cause harm. Certain leafy greens like Swiss chard, spinach and kale have a high oxalic acid content which can cause kidney stones if you have too much. But don’t worry, you would have to eat or drink a large amount of them every day for a long period of time in order for that to happen. Just make sure that you juice a variety of greens and you should be fine. Additionally, the good bacteria in your gut help to break down oxalate acid (one more reason to eat probiotic food).

Each of the following recipes yields approximately 3 glasses of juice – you may get more or less depending on the size and ripeness of the produce that you use.

1. Refreshing cucumber juice.
2 large cucumbers (or 3 small)
2 bunches of kale leaves.
1 bunch of mint
2 lemons
1 apple
2-inch piece of ginger (optional)
This juice is the most refreshing due to the cooling effect of the cucumber and mint.

2. Carrot-beet juice
7 large carrots
3 small beets
3 small apples
1 lemon
1 bunch parsley
2-3 inch piece of ginger (optional)
This red juice is my toddler’s favorite because of the sweetness.

3. Celery-Chard Juice
1 stalk of celery
1-2 bunches of Swiss chard
1 bunch of parsley
2 lemons
2 apples
2-3 inch piece of ginger (optional)
I find this juice to be the most bitter tasting, which is why I include 2 apples to add a little extra sweetness. If you are new to juicing, I do not recommend this recipe as both the celery and chard have a strong taste.  This one is for the regular juicers.  The picture shows a reddish juice because I used red chard.

IMG_4712.JPG4. Carrot-Apple-ginger juice.
10 carrots
3 apples
2-3 inch piece of ginger
You can add some greens to this if you like. This is a great starter juice to those who are new to juicing.


5. Broccoli-carrot-apple juice

2 large stalks of broccoli
4 large carrots
1 bunch of leafy greens (any kind)
2 apples
2 lemons
2-3 inch piece of ginger (optional) 

If you have any leftover veggies in your fridge that didn’t get used during the week, throw them into your juicer before they go bad.  You can add spinach to any of these juices as well.  Personally, I do not juice spinach because I already add it to my smoothie almost every day and I don’t want to turn into Popeye The Sailor Man. I try to keep a balance between the veggies that I juice and eat in the same day so that I don’t overdo any one particular vegetable. Variety is key.  

Give your kids a good start: feed them healthy food now and it will pay off later

I am a textbook parent. I read all the parenting books I can get my hands on and follow all of the rules. I made homemade baby food from scratch and refused to give my child ANYTHING with added sugar or salt during her first year of life (not even a small lick of icing or ice cream). I refused to let any processed food touch her lips until she was well over a year old, and even now at 2 years old it is still a rare occurrence. To some, this may sound extreme. But to me, it just makes sense.

Prenatal and early childhood nutrition can have long-term effects that do not manifest until later in life. Exposure to toxic chemicals early in life can cause epigenetic changes in developing babies and children which may lead to diseases in adulthood5. Food additives as well as chemicals in food packaging that leach into the food may be toxic and so they should be avoided, especially by children3. This is probably why some adults who eat healthy and exercise still end up with some sort of non-inherited disease despite their best efforts. They may be healthy eaters now, but who knows what their parents fed them as children.

I practically lived off of Pizza Pockets and Pepsi during my teenage years. I hope I have good genes 😳.

It is not just the infancy and early childhood years that are crucial for long term health. The teenage years are also an important period of growth and maturation. A diet high in animal protein and low in vegetable protein and isoflavones is correlated with early puberty, which has been linked to metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease and breast cancer as well as other hormone-related cancers1. This is just another reason why feeding your kids McDonald’s regularly is bad for them. Today’s “fast food” diet is high in meat and low in vegetables which is a recipe for disease.

If you give your kids “junk” calories that means there is less room for nutritious calories. That unhealthy cookie you let your kid have as a snack every day (and most kids don’t stop at just one) could be replaced by a serving of fresh fruit. Children who consume more antioxidant-rich foods and whose mothers had an antioxidant-rich diet during pregnancy are less likely to have allergies later in life6. Since babies and children are growing, their brains, bodies and immune systems are still developing which is why they need all the nutrition they can get.

Children’s food preferences are determined by both genetics and familiarity2. So even though kids already have predetermined preferences for certain tastes and textures, they can also learn to prefer healthy foods simply by trying them frequently and watching the people around them eat the same foods as well7. These learned preferences carry on into adulthood; if you teach your kids to eat healthy at a young age they are more likely to continue eating healthy later on in life7.

I see other parents give their babies and young children junk food on a regular basis and it makes me cringe. Some of those kids have chronic rashes, allergies, and/or constant stomach upsets, probably due to their diets.
Unfortunately, those are just minor symptoms compared to the long-term damage that a bad diet early in life can lead to.

Some parents are simply unaware or uneducated about the implications of junk food on their kids. Some are perfectly aware but feel bad when their kids ask for the same food that they are eating and give in (which is exactly why parents should model healthy eating themselves). When kids ask to eat the same “junk food” as their peers it makes it that much harder to say no. Others simply don’t want to put in the extra effort required to prepare healthy food for their children as it is much easier to just open a wrapper or box when their kids are hungry.

Feeding kids healthy food is not easy. It takes more time and effort to prepare, not to mention the extra time actually feeding it to them if they are fussy eaters. But no one said being a parent was easy. And the reward of seeing your kids grow up to be happy and healthy adults is worth it.



1. Cheng, Guo; Buyken, Anette E; Shi, Lijie; Karaolis-Danckert, Nadina; Kroke, Anja; Wudy, Stefan A; Degen, Gisela H; Remer, Thomas. Beyond overweight: nutrition as an important lifestyle factor influencing timing of puberty. Nutrition Reviews. Mar2012, Vol. 70 Issue 3, p133-152. 21p. 1 Diagram, 3 Charts, 3 Graphs. DOI: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2011.00461

2. COOKE, L. The importance of exposure for healthy eating in childhood: a review. Journal of Human Nutrition & Dietetics. 20, 4, 294-301, Aug. 2007. ISSN: 09523871.

3. El-Wahab, Hanan Mohamed Fathy Abd; Moram, Gehan Salah El-Deen. Toxic effects of some synthetic food colorants and/or flavor additives on male rats. Toxicology & Industrial Health. Mar2013, Vol. 29 Issue 2, p224-232. 9p. 6 Charts. DOI: 10.1177/0748233711433935.

4. Hörnell, Agneta; Lagström, Hanna; Lande, Britt; Thorsdottir, Inga. Breastfeeding, introduction of other foods and effects on health: a systematic literature review for the 5th Nordic Nutrition Recommendations. Food & Nutrition Research. 2013, Vol. 57, p1-27. 27p. DOI: 10.3402/fnr.v57i0.20823

5. Lahiri, D. K.; Maloney, B.; Zawia, N. H. The LEARn model: an epigenetic explanation for idiopathic neurobiological diseases. Molecular Psychiatry. Nov2009, Vol. 14 Issue 11, p992-1003. 12p. 3 Diagrams, 1 Chart, 2 Graphs. DOI: 10.1038/mp.2009.82.

6. Patelarou, Evridiki; Giourgouli, Gianna; Lykeridou, Aikaterini; Vrioni, Evagelia; Fotos, Nikolaos; Siamaga, Eleni; Vivilaki, Victoria; Brokalaki, Hero. Association between biomarker-quantified antioxidant status during pregnancy and infancy and allergic disease during early childhood: A systematic review. Nutrition Reviews. Nov2011, Vol. 69 Issue 11, p627-641. 15p. 2 Diagrams, 3 Charts. DOI: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2011.00445.

7. Venter, C.; Harris, G. The development of childhood dietary preferences and their implications for later adult health. Nutrition Bulletin. Dec2009, Vol. 34 Issue 4, p391-394. 4p. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-3010.2009.01784