Archive for the ‘Healthy Eating’ Category


Friday, October 9th, 2015

I really wanted to like this product.











“Wild Ophelia”, an offshoot of the Chicago-based, woman-owned company Vosges Haut-Chocolat and the brand behind this particular chocolate bar is described as “the spirited younger sister of Vosges Haut-Chocolate”.  I mean, consider the things we have in common; Chicago is my adopted hometown, there’s a “sisterhood” of women biz owners, I’ve eaten Vosges products before and LOVED them, and dark chocolate holds ever-steadily at the top of my list of food must-haves. . .I really, really wanted to like this product.

And in support of my October breast cancer action to highlight food and nutrition to elevate health and optimize healing, good quality chocolate is a topic that fits right in – it’s flavorful, satisfying, and a source of antioxidants

Earlier this week I attended a conference where piles of this chocolate bar were available, serving both as a complementary snack and a clever marketing initiative to ~ 2,000 women.

Never mind that I was drawn to it as a treat for my husband.

I like my dark chocolate either straight up, or smeared with homemade peanut butter; he fancies the kick of chili pepper.

Perfect. I snagged a couple.

But as I examined the label more closely it struck me (and not for the first time), how consumers trying to make conscious choices for health – particularly my audience of women eating to elevate health and optimize healing in the fight against breast cancer – can easily be duped.

Notice the words “ALL NATURAL” stamped predominantly on the front. But flip the package over, scan the ingredient list, and you find “soy lecithin.”











Spoiler alert. The only thing natural about soy lecithin is that it originates (very early on in processing) as a soybean.

Hopefully, yet potentially not, a non-GMO soybean.

Here are two links to info on what soy lecithin is and how it’s actually derived from the soybean plant – the first, a quick read, the second, a deeper dive; 1., 2.

Essentially, soy lecithin is added to foods as an emulsifier to help prevent oil from separating from other ingredients while allowing the ingredients to bind or blend nicely together.

My concern with “natural” splashed across the front of so many food labels – you simply need to buy food to see hundreds of examples – is that it misleads people to believe that the food they’re eating is somehow “better or healthier” for them, when in fact that doesn’t always hold true. Here’s an article that speaks more to this issue:

Let me be clear. I’m not saying “DON’T EAT” this product. It’s strictly a personal choice to determine which ingredients (and how much of them) you’re ok with. Will occasionally eating one of these chocolate bars trigger illness or death (as some would lead you to believe)? Of course not. My goal is simply to educate my readers so that they can make confident decisions on their own.

Katrina Markoff’s initiative and mission behind “Wild Ophelia” is incredibly laudable,, and if my previous experiences with her product hold true, the chocolate bar is AMAZING (full disclosure – I haven’t tasted it). It’s simply my hope that small, “do-good” food companies such as hers will lead the effort in using food labeling terms responsibly and authentically so people can feel confident making food decisions for health.

I strongly encourage breast cancer patients and survivors to consider everything they put into (and on!) their body by asking themselves; does this support health, optimize healing, and support an internal environment inhospitable to cancer? Those questions can be game-changers; for both the woman, and food manufacturers.









Friday, October 2nd, 2015

It’s true I’m on a tirade against Pink Ribbons, but since I don’t envision them abating anytime soon, I’ve had a flash of insight as to where I feel they’d be most effective.

Wrapped around an enormous box of produce.

And that box of produce would be delivered to the front door of every person on the planet.

Indeed, fruits and vegetables are that powerful. For both protection against and as an aid in reducing the risk of recurrence of breast cancer, research continues to show the benefit of adding more phytochemicals to our diet. Where to find them? Produce!

According to Food, Nutrition and the Prevention of Cancer: a global perspective, a report produced by the World Cancer Research Fund together with the American Institute for Cancer Research; “evidence shows that most diets that are protective against cancer are mainly made up from foods of plant origin.”

That doesn’t mean you need to adopt a completely vegan or vegetarian diet, it simply means PUT MORE PLANTS ON YOUR PLATE.

Here’s how: fill 2/3 of your plate with non-starchy fruits and veggies, the remainder with lean protein (plant or animal-based) and complex carbohydrates (brown rice, quinoa, farro, etc.).

One way to get a jump on your daily intake is with the ubiquitous smoothie. While there are literally thousands of recipes on line, certainly enough to stress you out deciding which is “the best (read, healthiest) one”, trust me, the absolute best one you can choose to make is the one that you enjoy!

Six days per week I use my trusty Vitamix to whip up a smoothie. I like to include two fruits (I use dates (for sweetness) plus frozen blueberries or banana – and sometimes all three – crazy!), a large organic carrot, and a couple of handfuls of frozen kale (I buy Trader Joe’s pre-washed fresh and throw it in the freezer). This morning my supply of blueberries had dried up, presenting the perfect opportunity to add cocoa (3 tablespoons) and peanut butter (well, not exactly peanut butter, but certainly the flavor) to that lonely banana. It was soooo good.

SmoothieIngredients1SmoothieIngredients2Aim for AT LEAST 5 servings (1/2 – 1 cup = 1 serving) per day of a combo of fruit and veggies – but don’t be afraid to go OVER that number. Seriously.

Creating an environment INSIDE your body that is less hospitable to cancer is easy to do, completely free of side effects, and delicious.

Let’s wrap a pink ribbon around THAT.

I welcome your comments, and if you found this post helpful, please share!

P.S. Follow me on my new twitter account: @cathylemanrd


“Everybody Into the (Amino Acid) Pool!”

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

I recently had a conversation with a gentleman who shared that his son eats a 100% vegan diet. That’s 100% to the tune of avoiding even honey.

Dad commented that his son has been eating this way for four years, and as far as dad can tell, “He looks alright, like he’s getting enough protein. I think he has to combine, right?”

I’m not sure what dad is expecting to see as an indicator of “not getting enough protein” (the old nutrition dogma that simply refuses to die); sunken cheeks, off-color pallor, muscle atrophy?

Yet I also understand his concern. How one could possibly get enough protein when eating nothing but plants has been the subject of debate, the butt of jokes, and a myth that refuses to be busted FOR YEARS, largely due to a lack of understanding about how the body uses protein from non-animal-based sources.

And who could expect the average person to understand? In our western culture and dietary practices, meat still reigns supreme – irrespective of the fact that plant-based eating is gaining a mainstream foothold.

So, given that plant-based diets are becoming more common (you may even live with or know a plants-only-eater), and having migrated to a (mostly) vegan diet myself just under 2 years ago, I’m writing this post in support of putting more plants on your plate, and putting your mind at ease.

Here’s vegan/vegetarian protein guidance distilled down to two main points. Even if you know nothing else about avoiding meat, but you want to give it a try – these will help clear things up.

  1. What’s the difference between vegan and vegetarian?

Vegetarian – Diet may include dairy and/or eggs. Vegetarian diets that include these animal-based choices provide adequate protein and all essential amino acids.

  • Lacto-vegetarians exclude meat, fish, poultry and eggs, yet include dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt, butter).
  • Ovo-vegetarians exclude meat, fish, poultry and dairy, yet include eggs.
  • Lacto-ovo vegetarians exclude meat, fish and poultry, yet include dairy and eggs.

Vegan – Diet contains no animal products (i.e. dairy, meat, fish, pork, poultry, or eggs). Vegan diets require attention to balance, variety and portions (to insure adequate protein intake).

  1. How do I get adequate protein intake?

Proteins in food and the human body are composed of 20 amino acids. Humans can “build” eleven of these as long as we get sufficient nitrogen from our diets (nitrogen is a component of every amino acid).

The other nine (the “essential” amino acids – EAA) have to come from our food, because we can’t make them. Our need for protein is actually a need for these nine essential amino acids, PLUS enough nitrogen to build the other eleven.

All plant proteins contain all nine of the essential amino acids – they aren’t missing any – yet they are always a little low in one or two. This results in a less precise match to human protein needs, which is how the practice of “protein combining” or eating “complementary proteins” at the same meal came about, ala Frances Moore Lappe’s 1971 vegetarian classic, “Diet for a Small Planet”. (FYI, the photo is my own copy of “Diet for a Small Planet” purchased for $5.72 in 1995 at Crown Books – remember that bookstore?!)


For example, grains and beans have complementary strengths and weaknesses in their EAA patterns; eating them together produces a complete amino acid pattern that mimics patterns found in human body proteins. I’m pretty sure you’ve eaten beans and rice, hummus and pita, or bean soup and bread; common, delicious dishes that all happen to be vegan, as well as being exceptional examples of effortless protein combining.

Even without eating these foods at the same meal, your body essentially does its own “complementing”, thanks to the fact that it maintains a reserve pool of amino acids to draw from when necessary. It’s this ability to use proteins consumed at different meals and snacks throughout the day that renders protein combining an outdated idea.

The best way to get ENOUGH plant-based protein? Eat a varied and balanced diet, adequate in volume for your specific needs, while avoiding the vegan/vegetarian “junk food diet” of veggie pizza, vegan cookies, and French fries!

Need more help? Contact the NutriFit office and schedule a nutrition consultation; we’re happy to clear things up!

“Salad Jar Daze”

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

You know it’s important to eat your veggies – a 3rd grader could tell you that.

Yet when most people think about adding more veggies to their day, bags of plain (boring) baby carrots and plates of (over) steamed broccoli often come to mind, squashing even the best of intentions. Even a devoted veggie lover like me can’t get excited about that.

If one of your goals is to “put more plants on your plate”, packing a salad (along with the dressing) in glass canning jars is a fun, creative, efficient way to make that happen.

Canning jars come in a variety of sizes, but the wide-mouth pint or quart sizes work well for this purpose. A pint jar holds two cups, perfect for a lunch or side salad, while a quart jar holds four cups – good for crowd or dinner size salads.

Simply pour salad dressing (1-4 tablespoons) into the bottom of the jar, then layer the veggies, starting with heavy, non-absorbent varieties like carrots, onions, cauliflower and cabbage, and ending with the lighter ingredients like spinach, lettuce, arugula, etc. on top.

Press down the veggies, screw on the lid, and that’s it! “Salad jars” keep will in the refrigerator for up to 5 days (yes!), making it super easy to have a ready-to-eat salad available at any time. When you’re ready to eat, just shake the jar to distribute the dressing, or simply pour the contents into a bowl and toss a bit with your fork.


Have fun mixing and matching ingredients and dressings, and congratulations on accomplishing your goal!

“A Lunchtime Tale of Love, Hate, and Obsession”

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

It happens every, single, workday, Monday through Friday. LUNCH.

I LOVE lunch, especially the lunches I make for myself (nutritious, delicious, and FREE!). I’m definitely not a lunch skipper; I’ve got to be on top of my mental game for afternoon clients, meetings or speaking events. Low energy and blood sugar, and foggy, sluggish thinking don’t allow me to do my best work, and that’s a disservice to anyone who entrusts their health and wellbeing to me.

What I’m definitely NOT a fan of, however, is actually making my nutritious, delicious, free lunch every, single, day. Truth be told, I hate it. When I get home from my office, I only want to decompress, eat dinner, and spend a little time with my husband before heading off to my crazy-early bedtime. See? No space for lunch making.

With no private chef or housekeeper to make my noon meal, I had to get creative to solve my love/hate relationship with lunch. Here’s what I came up with; prep once, eat 5 times.

The solution is pure genius, and involves three of my obsessions. I’ve outlined my approach below – I’m certain it will work for you, too.

Obsession #1 – I’ve become obsessed with Snapware®, the GLASS version. I use two large rectangular containers,


and on Sunday I pack them FULL of salad fixings. I haven’t measured the volume (the volume indicated on the bottom is in milliliters, which doesn’t translate well to cups of veggies), but I would say they easily hold 4-5 cups of chopped veggies. These two containers provide five generous salads, which means I only have to do all of that chopping ONCE!

Obsession #2 – A wide variety of fresh, “heavy-hitter” vegetables. I don’t want a salad that’s wimpy on quality nutrition, nor one that’s “just lettuce” – I’d be STARVING within 20 minutes of polishing it off!  Here’s a sample of what I typically include:

  • Carrots
  • Red or green onion
  • Fresh kale or spinach
  • Red pepper
  • Cauliflower
  • Broccoli
  • Red cabbage



I top each salad with a sprinkle of raw, unsalted sunflower seeds and raisins. Heaven!

Obsession #3 – Homemade salad dressing, which is ALWAYS tastier (and better for you), than store-bought. I have a few I rotate through, but here’s my current fav; (I use white miso). I make enough for the entire week – if there’s any left over, I take it home and use it up over the weekend.

What rounds out the meal is a good protein source, so I’ll add a week’s worth of hummus or bean-based soup. I also bring five pieces of fruit (typically oranges and apples), which serves as a sweet finish to my feast.

I also keep crackers and raw almonds stashed at the office; the crackers serve as a crunchy accompaniment to my salad, and the almonds are a satisfying side to my fruit.

Bring it ALL in on Monday, and essentially, you’re set for the week. So there you have it! My secret weapon in managing my love/hate lunch relationship. Pure genius.

“Travelling Without Unravelling Healthy Eating Habits”

Saturday, September 6th, 2014

Out of all the reasons why I adore my clients, the fact that they are an adventurous bunch tops the list.

Whether for business or pleasure, they frequently hit the road chasing adventure and collecting new experiences. The downside? They’re inevitably thrown off their “healthy eating” game.

In my experience, there are three reasons for this:

  1. Limited access to healthier options.
  2. Out of their typical routine.
  3. Adopting an “I’m on vacation” or “What the he#%” mindset.

Being fresh off an end of summer get-away myself, I’ve shared a few of my away-from-home dining experiences, as well as tips for countering the issues listed above. Pack these ideas the next time you’re travelling – and wrap up your trip feeling as great as when you headed out.

Mine was absolutely a pleasure trip; destination, Breckenridge, CO. I was delighted to learn that locating restaurants with healthy options wasn’t nearly as challenging as I thought it might be, although my travelling companion and I had to be menu sleuths and actively seek them out. The operative word being “seek”, which leads me to my first tip.


Tip #1 – For options that fit your idea of healthy, you must do your homework. Read menus on-line, printed copies posted outside the actual restaurant, and peruse local restaurant guides for specific offerings. If you don’t see options that work with the way you want to eat, rather than compromise – keep looking!









Our first night in town, oxygen-deprived, peckish, and en route to an Asian restaurant, we stumbled upon “Relish”, a local spot featuring Colorado inspired cuisine. The posted menu listed options too intriguing to pass up, so we scrapped the Asian plan. We will be forever grateful for that split-second decision.

Quinoa, marinated and grilled Portobello mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, and yellow squash “pasta” atop an ample portion of garlicky chimichurri  – an Argentinian sauce – was not only an original blending of textures and flavor, but gorgeous to look at (we eat with our eyes first!).


As for the starter, a salad of pea shoot leaves and tomatoes topped with fava bean puree, I couldn’t think of a better choice.

Paired with a spectacular glass of red wine, this was a very fine meal indeed with which to kick off our week – and it fit all of my specs for a healthy, “real-food” meal.


Tip #2 – You’re already out of your typical routine, so if a “must-try” restaurant offers options that meet your food specs, but not your dining “clock-time” preferences, move them around! Confused? Read example below:

Warming Hut








“The Warming Hut” completely warmed my heart (and palate). While we weren’t interested in the dinner menu options (reference Tip #2), the lunch menu, with its house-made Edamame and Quinoa Burger – sorry, forgot to snap a pic – got my attention. We visited this darling place at lunchtime on our last day, where upon our arrival we were met with such a packed restaurant, we decided to eat at the bar – always fun.

Not only was the burger delicious, the sweet potato fries accompanying it (of which I’m normally not a fan – not because they’re fried, rather, I prefer my fries “unsweet”) were impossible not to love – nor to stop eating until not a single one was left.

The best ending to this meal wasn’t even dessert, but the opportunity to meet and chat with the restaurant’s owner, Stacey – she warmed my heart, too.


Tip #3 – Yes, you’re on vacation (or an expense account), but I’m pretty sure that it’s not as if you NEVER eat out. Eating out, whether for breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks is no longer an occasional indulgence, so treat vacation restaurant dining – and choices – like you would at home (except at home no one hands you a menu, I know). Be selective, make choices based on hunger level vs. your eyeballs, and save splurges (see “sweet potato fries” above) for a couple of occasions during your trip rather than daily – or more.









Airports may be the last place where hungry, health-minded travelers can expect to get a decent meal, but Denver International, and “RootDown DIA” particular, is hell-bent on changing that.

I swear this restaurant was created with me in mind;At Root Down we pride ourselves on striving to solve the ‘Omnivore’s Dilemma.’ We have created a dining spot where all dietary needs will be accommodated, including vegetarian, vegan, raw and gluten free. . .”

See what I mean? If you know me, you totally get it.

Spied by my trusty travelling companion on the return leg of our trip (hint: Concourse C), this island of culinary treasures was a jewel in a sea of the same old chain restaurants. We were promptly and oh-so-courteously seated by superbly-trained staff, just after returning our rental car. . .at 8:50 a.m.

Like my predilection for “un-sweet” fries, I’m not always in the mood for a sweet breakfast, so the edamame hummus platter simply screamed “Order ME!”  If this choice strikes you as odd, I can assure you, hummus for breakfast is absolutely delicious – smeared atop a whole wheat English muffin, it happens to be one of my standard at-home favs.


Paired with Medjool dates, real, not canned olives, nan bread, arugula salad that I swiped from my travelling companion, and a killer cup of coffee (with soy milk, no less) this meal made me happy, happy, happy.


So there you have it – a handful of ideas to help prevent you from throwing in the healthy towel crying, “What the he#%, give me the _________________________” (fill in with your favorite less-healthy menu choice).


If you stay focused on your goal – to arrive home feeling as good as you did when you left (if not better!), it truly can happen. . .deliciously.


Wishing you happy, safe, delectable travels.


“Unbreak Your Heart”

Friday, August 22nd, 2014







On any given day of the week diet and nutrition are HOT topics, but you know something really controversial, life-changing or ground-breaking is afoot when one or the other makes the front page of the Sunday Chicago Tribune.

A recent issue featured the perfect example; an article advocating for the heart healthy benefits of a vegan diet.

Right in that front page space – albeit below the fold – the article highlighted enthusiastic support, as well as references to research data on vegan and vegetarian diets from Dr. Kim Williams, a Chicago cardiologist. Dr. Williams not only recommends plant-based diets to his patients, he actually eats a vegan diet, an eating plan long considered somewhat fringe, even a bit extreme.

It made my heart jump for joy.

Dr. Williams made the switch to a plant-based diet after a nuclear scan on a patient with severe heart disease showed startling improvement after the patient followed a vegan diet for 6 months. While surprised, the doctor was also intrigued, and after reviewing a number of published studies documenting similar outcomes decided to try it himself. Turns out that despite his deliberate effort to eat a “heart healthy” diet, his own LDL cholesterol (the “bad” one) had been creeping up.

A number of things from this article stood out for me, the least of which was the fact that an actual MEDICAL DOCTOR stood as such a strong advocate for a plant-based diet. Not just any medical doctor/cardiologist mind you, Dr. Williams is a nuclear cardiologist, chief of cardiology at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, and the incoming president of the American College of Cardiology.

Having someone in Dr. Williams’ position support the heart healthy benefits of eating more plants and less meat – the opposite of what reams of research suggest contributes to heart disease – is like the president of ComEd suggesting we all work to get off the grid.

There are many healthy reasons to eat a diet based on plants, with vegetarian and vegan diets alike conferring benefits for those interested in using dietary changes to improve obesity, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol.

And for those who continue to hold the belief that “meatless” diets can’t possibly provide adequate protein (that age-old and frankly, tired argument), consider The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics position paper on vegetarian diets which states that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.

The key is “appropriately planned”; eschewing meat without adding solid plant-based protein sources, nor including plenty of fruits and veggies is never a healthy, balanced approach. See the example below illustrating this concept.

I encourage you to give plant-based eating a try – even adding a “Meatless Monday” to your week helps. If it’s good enough for a top cardiologist, perhaps you can make room on your plate for more plants!

Low-Nutrition Meatless Meal

Breakfast: Bagel with Nutella | Apple juice

Lunch: Slice of cheese pizza | Diet soda

Dinner: Bean burrito | Iced tea

High-Nutrition Meatless Meal

Breakfast: Whole-wheat bagel with nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew, etc.) | Fresh apple

Lunch: Slice of vegetable pizza (vegan option, no cheese) | Side salad with garbanzo beans | Water – OR – small fruit smoothie

Dinner: Bean and vegetable burrito | Guacamole | Unsweetened iced black or green tea – OR – water.




“Tricked Out” Veggies For Your 4th of July Table”

Monday, June 30th, 2014

For many, the 4th is a favorite holiday, what with no obligatory gift giving or main event meal requiring days of advance preparation. But every holiday has its celebratory foods – and why should the 4th be any different?

Holiday foods ARE fun, but they tend to include choices you may not make on a regular basis. With a typical 4th food lineup boasting pounds of barbecued meat, gallons of alcoholic beverages, and loads of frozen desserts, “balanced nutrition” can be pushed ever so slightly out of balance.

It’s important to remember that one meal, heck, even one day of eating “out of balance” doesn’t make or break a healthy diet; it’s the choices you make day in and day out that matter over the long haul.

Even still, it never hurts to offer healthy choices, for yourself and your guests; they’ll appreciate it, and you’ll feel good about it.

Since there’s often a dearth of vegetables on the 4th table – so sad considering this is the time of year when they’re plentiful and at their peak – here are a couple to consider, tricked out to taste delicious and deliver an explosion of flavor.

Roasted Carrots and Garlic w/Honey Drizzle and Sea Salt: Stop by your farmer’s market for fresh carrots, garlic, and local honey. Clean, peel and chop carrots into 2 inch pieces. Peel several large cloves of garlic. Drizzle the carrots and garlic with olive oil and roast at 450 degrees for ~ 30 minutes. When they’re fresh out of the oven, toss with honey and sprinkle with sea salt.










Sauteed Cabbage Ribbons: While you’re at the market, pick out a heavy, green cabbage. Use a food processor attachment or sharp chef’s knife to make thin “ribbons”. Saute the “ribbons” in olive oil with a sprinkle of sugar and kiss of sea salt until buttery soft and translucent in color. Delicious as a side dish, or piled high on a veggie burger. Cabbage dscn07301






“Putting Out The Fire of Inflammation”

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

I recently did a lecture on the topic of inflammation, and thought I’d share a few of the highlights here.

Although there are a number of nutrition books based on the anti-inflammatory idea, there is a lot that we don’t yet know for certain. That being said, the following are things that we DO know:

  • Guidelines reporting specifics are premature (individual foods, dose, frequency).
  • For many diseases of aging (i.e. cancer, heart disease), inappropriate inflammation is the common root.
  • Growing evidence links eating patterns with lower levels of inflammatory biomarkers.

Inflammation Facts

  • Body’s defense mechanism.
  • Body’s healthy response to injury and infection.
  • Increased blood flow sends immune cells and nutrients to injured area.

Chronic Inflammation

  • Constant, out of control production of immune cells.
  • Leads to irreversible tissue damage.
  • Triggers chronic diseases over the years.

Are you familiar with the following causes of inflammation? Luckily, there is much you can do to eliminate these culprits, such as eating a healthy diet, increasing activity, and quitting smoking. These are all lifestyle behaviors that you have the ability to change!

  • Obesity
  • Stress
  • Inactivity
  • Lack of sleep
  • Smoking
  • SAD Diet (Standard American Diet)

Not sure where to start? Below is a list of delicious foods that just so happen to also help reduce inflammation.

Fight Inflammation with Food








Baby Spinach

Baby Spinach


  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Good fats
  • Walnuts, and other nuts and seeds.
  • Fatty fish
  • Plant-based protein
  • Whole grains versus refined
  • Herbs and spices
  • Minimize saturated animal fats and trans-fats
  • Limit full-fat dairy
  • Soy
  • Tea

Divorcing Old Man Winter

Friday, February 7th, 2014

Dear Mother Nature,

Please divorce Old Man Winter.

I’m personally not a fan of divorce – believe me, I’ve witnessed the damage left in its wake.

Yet there is no question that some relationships become so toxic, anyone remotely connected to the couple can be damaged by the poison that escapes the immediate boundaries of their “love”.

I’m afraid it’s happening.

Those in your path have been suffering through weeks of relentlessly frosty days followed by dangerously chilly nights; enough to suck the life out of even the happy-go-luckiest person. Your relationship casts a gray gloom that leaves folks snappish, lethargic, and depleted, draining energy and triggering cravings for chocolate by the truckload; none of which supports good health, balance, or the ability to utter “Have a great day” without feeling like a fraud.

What started out as a harmonious pairing has turned frigid, icy and bitter to the core. I don’t fault your choice of partners – on the contrary, you’re certainly not the first woman to fall for a man with a bracingly strong personality. But the relentless intensity of your stormy relationship has pretty much lost its appeal. The first melt-down was tolerable, even expected, but now? We’re crying uncle.

Send him packing, yet don’t be cruel. Take the high road and give him this recipe for a soup guaranteed to thaw even the coldest of hearts – after all, a man’s gotta eat.

Crockpot White Bean Soup

2 Tablespoons olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

5 large carrots, chopped

1 pound dry navy beans

2 whole bay leaves

1 teaspoon turmeric

½ teaspoon dried rosemary

½ teaspoon dried thyme

½ teaspoon paprika

Freshly ground black papper

2 Tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

6 cups water 

  1.  Add the olive oil, garlic, onion, and carrots to the crockpot.
  2.  Sort through the beans and remove debris or stones, rinse them under cold water then add to the crockpot.
  3.  Add six cups of water and stir to combine the ingredients. Cook on LOW for 8 hours.
  4.  After 8 hours, stir soup and mash the beans slightly. Add ½ teaspoon Kosher salt at a time, until the flavor is to your liking.

Adapted from

Small But Mighty – Almond Quinoa Muffins

Saturday, November 16th, 2013

I may have mentioned this before, but for me, cooking, and especially baking – is like therapy. I’ve given this a lot of thought, trying to figure out why it’s so relaxing and satisfying to create something delicious. My musings have made me realize that one of the most therapeutic things about cooking and baking is that there’s a definite beginning and a definite end; you get a final result every, single time. Absolute completion.

Much of my work week revolves around things that are open-ended; they simply never get finished. When you own a business that comes with the territory, but honestly, sometimes I just like to start and finish something.

So there’s that, and then there’s the fact that I’m actually spending time in my kitchen – which always grounds and centers me. I work a lot, and miss spending time puttering in my “small but mighty” creative workspace.

That’s where muffins come in – sort of “small but mighty” in their own right. They don’t take a lot of time, you typically have the basic ingredients on hand, it’s easy to start up a recipe, ending with a delicious product, you can load them up with nutritious powerhouse ingredients, and last but not least, muffins are multi-purpose, serving as breakfast, a snack or dessert.

What could be better? I know. An easy way to clean muffin tins.

Those Hard-To-Clean (but orderly) Tins

Those Hard-To-Clean (but orderly) Tins

Muffin Batter

Adapted from Veganomicon cookbook. My changes/additions/substitutions are in italics.

1 cup vanilla soy milk (or use plain, and increase vanilla extract to 1 1/2 teaspoons)

1 tbsp ground flaxseeds

1/4 cup canola oil

1/4 cup agave nectar or pure maple syrup (used maple syrup)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups all-purpose or whole wheat pastry flour

1/4 cup almond meal almond flour (or omit and use 1/4 cup more quinoa – haven’t done this, but for those with nut allergies it’s worth a try)

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon (increased to 1 teaspoon)

1/2 tsp cardamom (used 1/2 teaspoon cloves and 1/4 teaspoon allspice)

1 1/4 cups cooked quinoa

1/2 cup finely chopped dried apricots or currants (used golden raisins, no chopping required!)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease a non-stick 12-cup muffin tin. In a medium size bowl, whisk together the soy milk and ground flaxseed.  Allow to sit for 1 minute, then whisk in oil, agave nectar and vanilla. In a separate large bowl, stir together flour, almond meal, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry, mixing until just incorporated.  Gently fold in the cooked quinoa and the dried fruit and mix until only the large lumps are gone. Pour into the prepared muffin tin and bake for 20 to 22 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Photo: It's the second week of "Feed Me Friday!". I promised recipe for Almond Quinoa Muffins. It's coming via my blog in time to whip up over the weekend; just a little behind this week. Thx for your patience. . .trust me, they're worth the wait!

Finished! “Small But Mighty”

Feed Me Friday!

Friday, November 8th, 2013

I am a huge fan of cooking on the weekend for the week ahead. It saves time, money, energy and YOUR SANITY!

That said, I know how easy it can be to get into a cooking rut, making the same dish over and over and over; many of my clients struggle with this. Because my mission is to provide nutrition solutions to my client’s nutrition dilemmas, I thought a “Feed Me Friday” theme, featuring a new plant-based recipe each week could help.

I don’t have an actual pic of my dish, simply didn’t get it done, so I’m using “other” photos. I’ll be better in future – promise!

The photo below is one I took while dining at a Persian restaurant in San Diego. My dish is similar in appearance, so this gives you an idea of the finished product.

Here’s my inaugural post, I hope you enjoy the delicious results.

Curry-Kissed Lentil Millet Soup








1 medium onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons turmeric

1 teaspoon garam masala

1 tablespoon curry powder

3 tablespoons black mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 can pumpkin (not pie filling)

1 can tomato paste

8 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

3/4 cup green lentils

1/3 cup millet

1. In a large stock pot, saute onion and garlic in 2 tablespoons water until soft (add more water as needed to prevent sticking).

2. Add turmeric, curry powder, black mustard seeds and kosher salt, mix well with the onion and garlic. Cover the pot; the mustard seeds will begin to pop and jump and you don’t want them to escape. When the popping stops, remove the cover and stir the spices again, adding a bit of water as needed to prevent sticking. Cook the spices and vegetables ~ 5 minutes.

3. Stir pumpkin and tomato paste into the spice/veggie mixture, blend well and cook for 5 minutes.

4. Add broth, lentils and millet, stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down so the soup simmers gently. Partially cover the  pot and let cook for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally until lentils are soft.


* Add more water if you like “soupier” soup.

* Find millet in grocery stores sporting a bulk section that includes a variety of grains, dried beans, etc. Whole Foods, of course, but also check co-ops and other nutrition-forward locations. If you can’t find (or don’t want to search for) millet, don’t let it stop you from making this soup; it’s delicious even without it. However, this small yellow grain is a good source of fiber and protein, vitamins and minerals. It also contains the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, beneficial in promoting eye health. Learn about millet.


Raw Millet








* This particular collection of spices is common in Indian cooking. As a whole, this combination adds a rich, satisfying layer of flavor; individually these spices contribute important vitamins, minerals and strong antioxidant properties.  About this link: I haven’t used this particular company to purchase spices, but the founder is a fellow Chicagoan (solidarity!). I ran across her work one day and was smitten, partially because I love Indian food, but also because I found her story fascinating! Indian Spice Selection.

Indian Spice Collection

Indian Spice Collection








Eating Well While Eating Out. . .A Chicago Loop “Gem”

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

I love Chicago. Although I moved here years ago, rarely do I pass up an opportunity to spend time simply reveling in the energy and urban vibe of the city. My passion for the city is one of the reasons I established a Chicago office; it’s a perfectly fine justification for escaping the ‘burbs and heading back to my beloved city streets.

Also, need I mention, the dining options in the city are (duh) just so darn more plentiful, varied and inventive! With one of my professional mantras being “Eat In”, you can probably imagine that I’m a bit particular when I choose to “Eat Out”.

This past weekend brought family in from out of town. Another fine excuse, er, justification for ambling the city streets; SOMEONE has to play tour guide. As I hurried to the weekend visitor hotel headquarters, I inadvertently found myself in front of Native Foods Café, a dining establishment mentioned to me months ago by one of my clients (you know who you are, and I sincerely thank you), yet mysteriously missing from my memory. Somehow, I’d completely forgotten her recommendation.

20130822_155206[1]I tugged my husband toward the menu posted in the window, excitedly explaining how I’d learned of this place. Scanning the menu, our taste buds began whispering “when, for the love of God, is lunch?” Fortunately, we’d arrived at the right time (the fam, wholly uninterested in “weird food” was lunching around the corner at a ubiquitous chain, which shall remain anonymous). Unfortunately (for us), Native Foods was hopping, and we were on a be-there-in-time-for-the-first-pitch Cubs/Cards time schedule. Sadly, we had to skip it. Vehemently, we vowed to return.

Native Foods Café is a vegan restaurant, and the loop location I’d stumbled upon is one of three in Chicago. 20130818_153409[1]What makes this especially astonishing to me is that years ago, when I began eating a vegetarian diet, finding a restaurant like this in the meat and potatoes Midwest was similar to moving heaven and earth – essentially impossible. I am giddy about the many vegan/vegetarian/plant-based restaurants popping up in and around Chicago. It makes “Eating Well While Eating Out” so much easier.

As it turns out, I returned to Native Foods Café at the close of the whirlwind weekend, albeit sans husband (long story). But I took plenty of food pics, shared my (very positive) experience with him, and promised we’d go back to try other options, together. On a closing note, I must mention that not everything on the menu is uber-healthy. Native Foods serves fries, battered “chicken” (a combo of soy, wheat and pea protein), island jack fritters (code for FRIED), and plenty of desserts. Remember, vegan or not, calories are still calories!

"Saigon Roll"

“Saigon Roll”

"Bangkok Curry Bowl"

“Bangkok Curry Bowl”

Chickpeas Are Missing From Your Diet? Learn How To Add Them, Deliciously.

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

I am crazy about chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans). Especially BAKED chickpeas. And also especially, blended into hummus. Oh, and especially in a curry dish. I think you can get a sense of my especially strong devotion.

My adoration for this scrumptious and completely nutritious food is so strong that this blog post practically wrote itself. So here we go, ideas and a recipe to inspire you to add these cute little guys to your pantry – and your diet.

Chickpeas Dry vs Soaked

Raw, dry on left. Soaked overnight on right.

I like to cook my own chickpeas. They taste better, they’re less expensive, and because they’re not canned, there’s no worry about BPA Are Plastic Bottles and Containers Safe (overview of BPA). It’s simple to cook your own, you just need a couple of tricks to streamline the process.

I buy dried chickpeas from a local Mediterranean market. They’re prepackaged in large sizes and are extremely inexpensive. I typically purchase a 5# bag, which after cooking yields 21 quart freezer bags (holding 2 cups each) of cooked chickpeas! There’s no need to cook the entire bag at once, I just need to be efficient with my time, so cooking all 5#’s worked for me.

Chickpeas must be soaked about 8 hours before they’re cooked. An easy way to do that is to soak them overnight, say, on a Saturday – leaving you a leisurely Sunday to actually cook them. Dump the dried beans into a large stock pot, cover them by about 2 inches with cold water, and head off to bed. The work happens while you sleep! As you can see in the photo above, there’s a dramatic difference in size between dried and soaked beans. Next morning, drain and rinse the soaked beans, and pick out any that are discolored. If you can’t cook the beans right away, cover and store in the refrigerator – I’ve left them for up to 3 days.

Place the beans back into the stock pot and again, cover with about 2 inches of cold water. Add a 3″ piece of kombu (optional). Kombu is a type of seaweed that imparts minerals, nutrients and flavor, and helps soften the beans. It also aids in making the beans easier to digest.



Bring the beans to a boil, then turn down the heat and place the lid on top, slightly ajar. Take a peek periodically to be sure the water hasn’t reduced too much (add more if needed). After ~ 1 hour, check the beans; they should be soft and practically creamy inside. Once they’ve reached that point, drain them, and pour onto a jelly roll pan to cool (the 1 inch sides prevent the beans from escaping).

Cooling chickpeas.

Once they’ve cooled completely, it’s time to prepare them for storage. Scoop two cups into a 1 quart freezer bag, label, and store in the freezer. That’s it!

Bagged chickpeas (and black beans!)

Bagged chickpeas (and black beans!)

When it comes to using them in cooking, there’s no need to thaw the beans for dishes like soups or casseroles – just add them in. However, if you need to QUICKLY thaw for a salad, run the bag under warm water until it pulls away cleanly from the beans, use scissors to cut the bag open, and place the frozen chickpeas in a glass bowl (NEVER microwave in a plastic bag or container). Put them in the microwave for a short time using the “defrost” option, and check to see when they’ve thawed and are ready to use (all microwaves cook and defrost at different speeds).

Now that you’ve learned a couple of secrets for cooking chickpeas, here’s a fabulous recipe for enjoying them!


2 cups chickpeas

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Place the chickpeas in a large bowl. Toss with the olive oil, cumin and salt. Transfer the seasoned chickpeas to a baking sheet in a single layer. Place the baking sheet in the center of the oven and bake until golden, about 35 minutes, tossing from time to time to keep from burning.

3. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow the chickpeas to cool. Store in a sealed glass container for up to one week (if they last that long!).

** Feel free to vary the seasoning according to individual preference; curry powder, garam masala, garlic powder, etc.


Remember When Soda Pop Was A Treat?

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

Yesterday, I had a conversation with a client that flashed back a memory of my childhood. He shared how each Friday his mom would make popcorn for him and his three siblings. When they had popcorn, and only when they had popcorn, they got to drink SODA. Root beer, to be exact.

When I was little, my mom would let us have Pepsi (the REAL thing mind you – diet Pepsi didn’t exist, gasp!), only when we had pizza (homemade, of course – not takeout – that wasn’t available where I lived, either) or movie night popcorn. Oh, and this was a t.v. movie – no dvd’s, no video, no dvr. Lord. How did we survive?

Anyway, it’s not that I’m oblivious to or surprised by the fact that now, many people consume soda pop – diet or otherwise – practically nonstop throughout the day. Heck, my brother is one of them! It’s that the memory made me think about how at the time, neither my client nor myself considered drinking pop only for a treat as unusual – it was simply the norm at the time.

It made me think just how far “the norm” has shifted.

Friday Morning Quarterbacking Thanksgiving

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

Already regretting your overindulgence in the biggest feast of the year? Why waste the energy?

In my experience, even with the best laid plans for watching portions, not going for seconds (who does that on Thanksgiving??), and being hyper-selective, most people leave the Thanksgiving table feeling over-fed.

I’ll be honest. The Thanksgiving meal isn’t my favorite. In fact, I really don’t get that excited about it; left to my own devices, I’d plan a completely different menu to celebrate the day. But that’s not the point. The point is, most people get REALLY excited about the traditional dishes, abundance of food, and the opportunity to spend the day feasting.

The flip side of that is spending the next day feeling like you’re on a speeding bullet train to weeks of overindulgence. After all, once you’ve “BLOWN IT”, you may as well keep eating, right? Regretting how much, and what you ate yesterday isn’t helpful, and careening into the next few weeks eating everything in sight won’t help you feel better, either.

Try putting yesterday into perspective. It was ONE DAY. Not enough to add pounds, and certainly not enough to derail your intention to make it through the holidays without having to drag yourself back to a place where you feel healthy and fit. Seriously. Overeating at one meal doesn’t mean take the brakes off and careen into 2013 inhaling everything in sight.

Use today to regroup, rather than regret. Go for a walk or do YOUR favorite activity that gets you moving, and enjoy those turkey day leftovers with lots of fruits and veggies. You’ll feel better in no time.

“Friending” Food

Thursday, October 13th, 2011


Like it or not, Facebook and all of its colloquialisms has woven its way into our vernacular. “Friending” is an especially ubiquitous FB term. Suddenly we’re “friending” and “unfriending” people left and right. Some friends we know, some we don’t, and some are friends we thought we knew – until we read their FB posts. That’s when the “unfriending” option is particularly handy.

That got me thinking about other things people may friend or unfriend. Like food.

It’s not uncommon for people to be wary of friending food. It’s almost as if they’re afraid to get too close, that the food will somehow take advantage of them, like a friend that always takes and never gives (NOT a true friend, btw).

Perhaps they feel that friending food will lead to a loss of self control. Keeping food at arms length offers protection from eating the wrong thing, eating too much of the wrong thing, feeling uncomfortably full, gaining weight.

You know that old saying, the “wrong side of the tracks”? Remember when parents used to warn their kids about getting involved with THOSE kinds of people, because it could only lead to no good? I regularly see people in my private practice who follow that same line of thinking, only it’s about food.


Friending foods from the right side of the tracks, you know, the “good” foods, assures us that our diets will be virtuous, our bellies flat, and our jeans skinny.

Friending foods from the wrong side of the tracks, foods that are “bad” for you, but oh-so-much-fun, can only lead to no good; weight gain, pudgy bellies, goodbye skinny jeans.

Surrounding yourself with friends (virtual or not) who support you and make you feel good is a smart move. You are the company that you keep. Same with food.

But think through your list of friends. I’m certain you have many who are reliable, predictable, and “good” for you, yet I’m also pretty sure you can think of one or two who are crazy, adventurous, and get you to do things waaayyy outside of your comfort zone. And it’s fun. And it doesn’t make them “bad” for you.

You may only be able to take those crazy friends in small doses – too much of a good thing, and all that. Friends, like food, are best when balanced. You see them occasionally, and enjoy the heck out of your time together – no regrets, no bad feelings.

Try applying that logic to food. It’s the same principle as occasionally eating cookies, a slice of pie, or French fries. Once-in-awhile will not make you gain weight, your diet “unhealthy”, or your skinny jeans too tight.

So consider “friending” all food; enjoying it with no regrets, and no bad feelings.

MyPlate Keeps It Simple

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

I clearly remember, way back in 1992, when the original food guide pyramid made its debut. I had just gone back to college to earn my nutrition degree and RD. I went to school at night, worked in corporate America by day.

The building cafeteria placed pyramid table tents all around, and my co-workers asked what I thought of the new symbol. Taking only pre-requisite classes at that time, I, of course, had no training whatsoever in nutrition – but I did have an opinion.

I thought that it was an interesting way to bring the topic of nutrition to the public, but I wasn’t certain how helpful it would be – it seemed a little complicated. And that proved to be the case. Americans just couldn’t seem to translate the pyramid info into real-life servings and balanced meals – even after it underwent a revision. In fact, once I became an RD and began to teach the FGP, I found it challenging for people to apply.

Fast forward almost 20 years (yikes!) and we’re giving it another go, this time with a simpler approach. Since the introduction of that original pyramid, Americans have gotten heavier, more out of shape, nutrition related diseases are on the rise, and most people would welcome a useful tool to help them adopt healthier eating habits. Is MyPlate that tool? Time will tell.

But I love that it’s simple. Nutrition doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does have to be realistic. A plate is realistic and familiar, a pyramid is a destination, and for many, an unattainable one at that; not helpful in changing unhealthy habits!

So we may be onto something; stay tuned. Here’s an overview of the plate and the actionable guidelines that go along with it:

Balancing Calories
Enjoy your food, but eat less.
Avoid oversized portions.
Foods to Increase
Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
Make at least half your grains whole grains.
Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
Foods to Reduce
Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals and choose the foods with lower numbers.
Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

Meal, Ready-to-eat (MRE)

Saturday, October 2nd, 2010

I have 5 amazing nephews, one of whom happens to be a Marine. I was fortunate to spend time with him over the Labor Day holiday when he made an unexpected trip home, brimming with stories of weeks in “the field”, grueling training sessions, and of course, the food.

When he first arrived in California (a mere 12 months ago), I found it particularly endearing when he recounted his meals during our phone calls. He excitedly described meals loaded with fruits, veggies, and protein – no junk. This from a kid who was practically raised on junk.

As much as I don’t like to think about it, he’s being trained to fight – and that training regimen requires calories. Lots of ’em. He’s young, he’s more physically active in one afternoon than most people are in one week, he carries 100+ pound packs for miles, and on occasion totes guns and other weapons that he’s told me weigh as much as I do.

He trains in conditions ranging from blistering desert heat to relentless rain and numbing cold. He has to be mentally and physically tough, and he has to be well-fed, getting plenty of nutrients that support both.



When out in the field, he carries his own food; Meals, Ready to eat, or MRE for short. He brought one home with him and demonstrated the preparation method. We all tasted “veggie burger in barbecue sauce” – it was fascinating, and I found the language on the box especially interesting.

“You are more active during field training, deployment and combat than in garrison. You need to eat more and drink more water or other fluids in these situations. When you don’t eat enough to meet your body’s energy needs, you lose weight. This can lead to a loss of body fluids and degrades your performance. In the field you NEED three meals per day. Restriction of food and nutrients leads to rapid weight loss which leads to: loss of strength, decreased endurance, loss of motivation, decreased mental alertness.”

And there you have it. Food = fuel = energy = improved performance and alertness; something even us civilians can benefit from.



How To Feed A Triathlete

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

Before my husband and I were even married, there was one characteristic (of many, of course) that particularly attracted me to my then boyfriend. He was physically fit, cared about what he ate, although not in an obsessive, crazy sort of way, and had long been a proponent of both. I loved to run, bike, and do aerobics, and although I wasn’t a dietitian then, I did value the importance of a healthy diet. Sort of a match made in heaven, right?

Fast forward through what in October 2010 will be 20 years of married life, and he maintains the status quo. Although I would say he’s taken it up a notch. Before we were married, and during the early years of our married life he ran, biked, and worked out at the health club – like lots of people. But this Saturday he will compete in his 8th triathalon, the Evergreen Lake Triathlon in Normal, IL – which is not like lots of people!

Although I’m a personal trainer and run my own private personal training and fitness studio, I don’t train my husband; but I am in charge of feeding him – my other professional specialty! How do I keep him fueled, healthy, and ready to compete? Two words; real food. And plenty of it.

With the exception of the GU and electrolyte drink he uses on the bike, I don’t feed him special supplemental foods, protein drinks, or gimmicky sport specific items. I cook and we eat foods that most everyone has in their pantry. The exception that I take with our food is that I go for “nutrient-density” for the calorie buck. In other words, empty calorie foods don’t really make either one of us feel very good (and who needs that?), but it’s not to say we’re living on sprouts and water, for heaven’s sake.

I prepare whole wheat pasta, a variety of rices, from brown to jasmine to basmati to wild, high fiber, low sugar cereals – with a strong leaning toward oatmeal (not flavored and not in a packet), high fiber, whole wheat breads, English muffins and pita, heart healthy spreads and oils, organic non-fat milk, yogurt, and kefir, dried beans of all sorts, from black to garbanzo to butter, and lentils of red and brown, salmon, shrimp, and scallops, tofu, tempeh, and eggs, a wide variety of nuts, and a steady intake of 70% dark chocolate. Not to mention that there is near panic when our enormous fresh fruit bowl is close to empty and the veggie bins in the fridge are looking lonely – there’s fruit and/or a vegetable at every meal.

I love to bake, and my repertoire consists of whole grain fruit and nut cookies and fruit-based desserts like crumbles, crisps and cobblers. See, that doesn’t sound like punishment does it?

One final note; no one eats a perfect diet, not even in the home of a dietitian! But making healthy, nutritious food a priority, eating to fuel your life and your sport, and home-cooked vs. restaurant food helps balance out those occasional trips for a summer after-dinner ice cream. . .DQ anyone?