Archive for the ‘Nutrition’ Category

“Closing Out Pink Awareness With A Nod To Red (Meat)”

Saturday, October 31st, 2015

As “pinktober” comes to a close, I find it ironic that the cancer focus has shifted to red. As in meat.

In the event you missed it, earlier this week the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the cancer agency of the World Health Organization, issued a press release highlighting its evaluation of the carcinogenicity of the consumption of red meat and processed meat.

Suddenly, headlines stating that red meat, hot dogs, sausage and bacon cause cancer were EVERYWHERE, and  comments and conversations ranging from “doesn’t everything cause cancer” to “who cares, we’re all gonna die of something” were being slung around the world wide web.

Here’s a link to the actual press release: World Health Organization Consumption of Red Meat and Processed Meat.

Essentially, the WHO reported a classification of the consumption of red meat as probably carcinogenic to humans, mainly for colorectal cancer (with associations also seen for pancreatic and prostate cancer), and the classification of processed meat as carcinogenic to humans, again with regard to colorectal cancer.

FYI, red meat refers to beef, veal, pork, lamb, mutton, horse and goat, and processed meat refers to meat transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, and smoking.

Here’s my take on this announcement. It’s not new information. The directive to eat a plant-based diet in support of cancer prevention has been recommended for years. And while the overall pattern of one’s diet vs. only single foods is a balanced way to view the impact of food choices, I see nothing wrong with calling out foods that potentially fuel cancer; information that is of particular importance for those who’ve been through a cancer experience.

People who make dietary choices in support of remaining cancer-free deserve to know about food and health associations in order to decide what they’re comfortable including or excluding from their diet. Good health is about healthy choices, and the more information to help cancer thrivers eat to prevent secondary cancers or recurrence, the better.


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.









Monday, October 5th, 2015

Happy Monday!

For me, blogging consistently throughout the month of October accomplishes two goals:

#1 Helping women who HAVEN’T been diagnosed with breast cancer use nutrition, food and fitness to elevate their health – from whatever level of health they’re currently at.

#2 Helping women who HAVE been diagnosed with breast cancer use nutrition, food and fitness to optimize healing. That means during treatment, “assisting” radiation and/or chemo without further compromising health, and after treatment, to regain strength and vitality, and reduce risk of recurrence.

Today, I’m writing a healthy tip for travel.

If you’re working to optimize your nutrition and fitness routine, but get thrown off track when wanderlust kicks in, this tip that may help you stay steady.

First of all, realize that NO ONE eats a perfect diet, 100% of the time – even for someone focused on optimal health. It’s impossible. Boring. Limited. And yes, cancer treatment and travel do happen at the same time – so think about taking care of yourself wherever you are.

We all know that travel is about new EXPERIENCES, and trying regional, local foods is one of them.

When I’m on the road, starting the day with foods that nourish and sustain me sets the tone for making healthier choices (yes, new food experiences and healthy can co-exist) for the remainder of the day. And it FUELS me for whatever comes my way before lunch.

So when packing my luggage, I also pack my breakfast. Wait, don’t freak, stay with me here for a moment.

I know you’re probably thinking, “This woman is crazy. I barely can get my bags packed, let alone think about schlepping food.” But let’s make a deal. Just try it once, and let me know how it goes.

Here’s what I do:

  • To a Ziplock baggie, add 1/3 cup quick cooking oats, 1 scoop protein powder, 1.5 Tablespoons ground flax, 1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon, 2 Tablespoons raisins.
  • Make one for each day you travel. Toss them all in a gallon Ziplock bag, along with a piece of fruit (apples and oranges travel best) for each day. In the photo below you also see Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter; I had an extra package and tossed it in – because it’s HEAVEN stirred into oatmeal.
  • In the morning, simply dump the contents of your packet into a coffee cup, add hot water from the coffee maker and voila. . .you’ve got a healthy, delicious, nourishing, energizing start to your day.

You probably don’t want to hear this, but I also sometimes pack a sturdy, large mug. . .what can I say? Many hotel rooms only provide styrofoam cups, but I encourage you never to use them – once hot water hits the styrofoam, nasty chemicals are released – and trust me, there are enough cancer-promoting toxins floating around our environment; there’s no need to ingest them intentionally.

So there you have it. My “on-the-road”, keeping it healthy tip. If you try it, PLEASE let me know how it worked out for you. Call me crazy, but I think you’ll thank me.

If you liked this post, please share on FB, Twitter, etc., and follow me on Twitter and Instagram at @cathylemanrd.

Have a happy, healthy day!



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


“3 Reasons to Elevate Your Health”

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015








I’ve recently fallen in love with the word “elevate”.

Definition: “To lift up, to increase the level of, to make higher”.

It’s not that I just learned the word so it holds new-word novelty making me want to say it over and over and over; that word would be onomatopoeia, which I learned at a recent Toastmaster’s meeting and truly can’t stop saying.

It’s simply that I’ve realized how perfectly “elevate” fits with the work that I do – and it has me a little giddy.

I help people elevate their health.

Which isn’t as easy as it may sound. You see, people must be READY to want their health actually elevated. And that’s not always the case.

Some people need to be convinced that it’s a good idea to take care of themselves.

Those aren’t the clients I work with.

I’m known for saying, “I don’t want to convince you to look after your health – but I do want to help you once you’ve decided that you value your health AND that your health (and you) is worth valuing”.

That’s where the magic happens. When people come to the realization that their health IS PRECIOUS and they’re ready to do whatever it takes get and stay healthy – look. out.

So if you’re on the fence – not really sure if taking better care of yourself is worth it or not – here are 3 strongly compelling reasons why you may just want to say yes.

  1. You’ll stay out of health debt. We all know we must stay out of debt in order to stay financially fit. You know, money in the bank, zero balance on the credit cards, contribute to the retirement fund, spend less than we earn. All sound advice. And easily applicable to health. When you sock away health riches, you simply have a bigger reserve to draw from when (and believe me, we ALL have a when) you need it, thus keeping yourself out of health debt. Your energy, vitality, stamina, strength, reserve, and your ability to recover and withstand medical treatments all hinge on how nutritionally and physically healthy you are.
  • Tweak your diet to be sure you’re fueling versus filling.
  • Exercise weekly for at least the recommended 150 minutes.
  1. You’ll stop bouncing in and out of exercise and weight loss programs. When you do something drastic, such as an extreme (or even not-so-extreme) diet and fitness program, you will not be able to maintain that level of deprivation and restriction long-term. So you stop and then you start. Again. Over and over and over. If you’re not following a nutrition and fitness program that SUPPORTS vs. RULES your lifestyle, you’ll continue to yo-yo. And that means you won’t make progress, and you won’t keep yourself out of health debt.
  • Focus on what you can shave or swap from your current diet versus focusing on what you need to completely eliminate or avoid.
  • Find an exercise that you LOVE (yes, walking counts) and do THAT. Not a runner? Don’t run. Hate swimming? Don’t swim. Seriously.
  1. Your body will respond in kind. You know how when you forget to water your summer flower pots they seem to wilt before your eyes? The vibrancy of the petals is dulled, the leaves begin to crinkle, the stems lose their perk. What happens when you finally give them a big, healthy drink of water? They perk back up right before your eyes, gifting you with the joy of color, vibrancy and vitality. Same thing happens with your body. Give it what it needs on a regular basis and you will be rewarded with vibrancy and vitality – which makes you want to keep giving yourself what you actually need, which helps you stop bouncing in and out of extreme exercise and weight loss programs, which in turn feeds your health bank account and prevents health debt. See? Magic.
  • Remember to eat every 3-4 hours.
  • Move your body in physical activity every, single day.

“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.


Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

You know how sometimes your perception of what you see isn’t exactly what was INTENDED for you to see (or think. or believe.)? I find this to be particularly true in food marketing, where labelling language in the form of subtle wording slights, omissions or assumptions often purports an item to be “a healthier choice”, when in reality, it simply isn’t . Either that, or the actual food item is a far cry from what was insinuated on the packaging.

Case in point.

My nutrition clients are busy. They’re travelling, on the go, and don’t have much extra time, so we often brainstorm ideas for nutritious, delicious, energy-sustaining, pack-along snacks.

Recently, a client recounted a variety of snack choices consumed during a weekend of travelling, and one particular choice repeatedly popped up; “SkinnyPop”. SkinnyPop

I’ve had a number of clients rave about this popcorn treat, how it’s “healthy”, and a “better-choice snack”. They find the term “skinny” particularly appealing, and more than a few have mentioned that it’s “addictive, like crack”.

I had to learn exactly what about this treat was so darn “skinny”, and why it seemed to have such a hold on my clients.

After reading the “SkinnyPop”website, I literally sat shaking my head in wonder. The “skinny” in “SkinnyPop”? NOTHING to do with calories or fat, and EVERYTHING to do with ingredients.

From the website:

What makes SkinnyPop “skinny”? Do you remember old-fashioned, buttered popcorn? Like the popcorn you can still get at movie theatres? We do. In fact, we used to make it. It was heavy on buttery topping and other artificial flavors. Our fans asked us for something with less topping, but with that same great taste, and we came up with SkinnyPop – skinny on ingredients!

That’s it?? Fewer ingredients?

If I conducted a random poll on what comes to mind if I said “SkinnyPop”, I think LESS CALORIES | LESS FAT | NON-FATTENING | EAT WITH RECKLESS ABANDON is what most people would think, not “fewer ingredients”.

And the skinny ingredients in “SkinnyPop”? Popcorn, sunflower oil, salt.

Nothing special. Nothing surprising. Nothing you don’t have in your own kitchen.

Nutritional breakdown?

  • 1 cup “SkinnyPop” Original Flavor – 40 calories | 2.6 g fat | .8 g fiber
  • 1 cup popcorn popped in oil – 55 calories | 3 g fat | 1.1 g fiber

In terms of calories and fat, there is essentially no difference. “SkinnyPop” comes in 4 flavors; original, black pepper, white cheddar and naturally sweet. Serving size for original and black pepper is 3.75 cups, but 3.5 cups for white cheddar and naturally sweet. A smaller serving size yields a lower calorie and fat amount closer to the original/plain version – even with the addition of ingredients that bump up calories and fat.


Personally, I’m a HUGE fan of popcorn. I like to pop my own on the stove top, in a combination of olive and coconut oils or plain canola oil, then sprinkle with sea salt, and if I’ve a taste for it, nutritional yeast.

Popcorn is a whole grain, naturally low in calories and fat, and high in fiber. There is one piece of literature that received quite a bit of press a number of years ago, suggesting that popcorn is high in polyphenols (a type of antioxidant), yet a literature search in reliable, credible PubMed turned up no other such research.

Regardless, popcorn does have an overall healthy profile, and I definitely recommend it as a filling, nutritious snack; just remember to pay attention to the amount of butter, cheese, or caramel you douse it in – completely changes the landscape, if you know what I mean. And if you have diabetes, 3 cups of popcorn equals 1 carbohydrate serving (whether it’s “SkinnyPop” or not!).

If you choose to skip the oil, this looks like an interesting way to air-pop popcorn I advise you avoid microwave popcorn completely – neither the ingredients nor the packaging are good for your health.

The take-away? When it comes to food manufacturing and marketing, it pays to dig a little deeper to learn the true meaning behind the hype. And as for “addictive, like crack”? I’ve never tasted it, so I welcome your comments and experiences!



“Francene In The Kitchen!”

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

If you follow my NutriFit blogs and Facebook postings regularly, the declaration below will come as no surprise, as I unfailing lend my voice to the cause for cooking. For those of you new to my work, please join me in this most important cause!

“I believe everyone can benefit from preparing more home cooked meals and snacks.”

There, I said it.

And I said it knowing full well that:

  1. not everyone likes to cook
  2. not everyone knows HOW to cook
  3. not everyone is interested in learning to like or how to cook

Before you list all the reasons why more cooking will never happen in YOUR kitchen, let me clarify.

I’m not suggesting you spend ALL your time preparing home cooked meals, nor preparing every dish from scratch. I’m simply advocating for devoting MORE time to a practice that gives you more control over the nutritional content and overall healthfulness of the food you eat – two benefits that support efforts to eat better – and who doesn’t want THAT?

And while some of the latest “fad” recommendations for achieving a healthy lifestyle call for herculean efforts (often discouraging a person from even starting), a gentle nudge to spend a little more time in the kitchen feels attainable to the most rudimentary cooks.

To further encourage you, I’d like to share what one of my clients is discovering in her quest to cook at home more often.

First, a little background.

As a rule, Francene (permission granted to use her real name) and her husband eat their main meal at a restaurant – pretty much every, single day. Francene is a beginner cook, intimidated by meal preparation, and lacks confidence in her culinary skills – not the best skill set for retreating to the kitchen and whipping up a quick meal.

Through nutrition sessions based on education, encouragement and guidance to start small, Francene became determined to give cooking a try. As it turns out, she did more than merely try.

When we met following the Thanksgiving holiday, Francene shared the lineup of dishes she’d prepared over the long weekend, and completely blew me away. She prepared not one experimental dish – but five – and brought photos of her masterpieces to share (spaghetti photo missing, as is the cauliflower and sweet potato sides that accompanied the roasted chicken before it became soup).


“Perky Salads!”


“Pork Roast”


“Roasted Veggies”


“Chicken Noodle Soup”




















Francene googled “beginner cook” recipes, and after finding several that looked appealing and called for familiar ingredients, she set to work simply following the directions – drawing on inspiration and encouragement provided during our nutrition sessions. How amazing is THAT?

At our meeting this week, Francene reported that she and her husband have eaten out only once in two weeks; which made me curious to learn what benefits she’s recognized from “eating in”.

  1. More time. It takes them ~2 hours to drive to a restaurant, order, wait for their food, eat, and drive home. That is NOT an unreasonable estimate, either.
  2. More energy. Says Francene, “It’s “tiring” to put the energy into going out; getting dressed and presentable,” vs. simply sitting down to the kitchen table.”

I hope Francene’s story has inspired you. Hopefully you see that home cooking doesn’t have to be elaborate, just simple, homey and nourishing – the best cooking there is.

So what are you waiting for? Get in that kitchen, and cook for a cause – your health. There’s none better!


Plant Protein and Snacking – FNCE Trends.

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

As I trolled the FNCE expo floor at the recent Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics annual conference, I couldn’t help but notice a couple of consistent themes.

One major disappointment, my camera wasn’t working, so I was unable to capture photos of the food items I discuss. Regardless, keep your eyes open for these categories at your local grocery store – they’re popping up everywhere!


From beans (legumes) to soy to nuts to hemp, plant-based protein was HUGE!

Plant-based protein simply refers to “non-meat” protein options. When we look at foods that fill that category, beans, soy and nuts/seeds take center stage.

Legumes were ground into flour and used as the base for everything from chips to burgers. Legumes were left whole and combined with other ingredients to create delicious veggie burgers and meatballs. Legumes were folded into brownies, and baked to create a crunchy, delicious snack.

I tasted a brand of chips called “Beanitos”, tortilla chips made from beans. I’m a tortilla chip fan, so having a more nutritious option is a trend I can get on board with.


People LOVE to snack. That’s a trend I have difficulty relating to, mainly because I’m not a snacker. But for those of you who are – snacks that taste great and are relatively nutritious is something that I spotted in every aisle.

Interesting dried fruit and nut combinations, baked crackers made with bean flours, and snack/meal replacement bars that were more than glorified candy bars were showcased.

My Take

Many of the food companies behind the truly healthier options were small and independent. To me, it seemed as if most of the large food manufacturers were simply trying to “healthy up” existing products, many of which weren’t that nutritious in the first place. I suppose I can give them credit for trying. In the end, consumers vote with their wallet – so I encourage you to support those small, independent companies doing amazing things with truly healthy ingredients!

“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.




“True or False? 3,500 Calories = 1 Pound”.

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

Vienna ScaleUp until very recently, I would have said absolutely, unequivocally, emphatically true.

Except now, it absolutely, unequivocally, emphatically isn’t. At least for the time being.

Darn that pesky science. It changes.

Since becoming a dietitian, I have counseled hundreds of clients on weight loss, and consistently used the “3,500 calories equals one pound” that I learned when pursuing my nutrition degree. It’s one of many tools that I use, and a good, reliable one; with thousands of citations in the scientific literature and lay press to back it up, how could it not be?

Yet even with tailoring the nutrition education and approach to match individual needs, outcomes have varied – as have the genetic profiles, habits and histories of those clients. For clients who apply the education and information in an effort to change habits, weight loss occurs, though rarely consistently, and almost never in any sort of predictable pattern. There are times when the 3,500 calorie guideline doesn’t appear to match results, either upward or downward on the scale.

For clients who struggle to reach their goals by applying the education and information, more often than not the psychological workings of food and fitness tend to figure prominently, and when mixed with the physiologic complexity, the sheer amount of sustained effort required to reach a lower weight goal is huge. Not impossible. Just huge.

The mechanism of LONG-TERM, SUSTAINED weight loss (and body composition redistribution) is physiologically complex. Rarely is it as simple as calories in/calories out; although at the end of the day, that’s a pretty hard and fast guideline to start with. Many people have experienced the “eat less, move more” phenomenon, where upon reducing the amount of food eaten on a daily basis and increasing the amount of exercise, weight is lost, clothes fit better, and energy increases. It works.

Then, of course, there are any number of “canned” approaches to weight loss, complete with radical before and after photos, one-size-fits-all-do-eat/don’t-eat food lists and meal plans, rigorous powdered drink and supplement regimens to be followed, and meal timing guidelines and grueling workouts that most people are simply unable to maintain for the long haul. That works, too.

So given that seemingly most everything we do works on SOME level, why kick the poor, now erroneous “3,500 calories equals one pound of body weight guideline” to the curb?

A tiny bit of background. . . .

The September 1958 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition included a report by Max Wishnofsky, MD titled, “Caloric Equivalents of Gained or Lost Weight”. After analyzing the existing literature, Dr. Wishnofsky stated, “The conclusion can be drawn that 3,500 is the caloric value of one pound of body weight lost”. (1)

Dr. Wishnofsky came to his conclusion based on the limited body of weight loss and metabolic literature available in 1958, which didn’t come close to what we know now. Yet although we still know surprisingly little, it’s not the CONCEPT that’s inaccurate, it’s the exact NUMBER that’s problematic. Fairly accurate methods of determining predicted weight loss do exist (here are some simplified formulas; and, yet these methods involve thermodynamics, mathematics, physics and chemistry (2) – complexity that dissuades us from hanging exact weight loss outcomes as we have for years, on simply one little number. Looking at it another way, 3,500 is no longer a reliable objective measure.

As for explaining some of that physiologic complexity? Here are a few examples. When you consider that weight loss over time is difficult to measure in a well-controlled metabolic ward (where subjects’ diets are monitored carefully, and blood, urine, and fecal samples are collected – the ONLY way to accurately measure energy balance), or that carbs, protein and fat caloric equivalents don’t accurately reflect the calories produced by INDIVIDUALS from these macronutrients (gut flora, for instance, is an influencing factor on caloric burn), and that exercise can produce wide variations in body weight response among individuals (yes, some people actually GAIN weight with exercise), it’s easy to see how there is more to predicting weight loss than initially thought. (3)

Stay tuned, as the quest for the ultimate answer to our nation’s obesity epidemic continues. In the meantime, I’m no longer using the 3,500 guideline, rather I’ll continue to work individually to apply sustainable practices to nutrition and fitness habits, lifestyles, work and travel schedules, and to educate on the foundations of nutritional and psychological knowledge that I know are solid.

Like these: Eat REAL food. Listen to your body’s hunger/fullness signals. Take a walk.



  1. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
  2. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
  3. Today’s Dietitian.



“Irony Screaming in a Forest of Sugar-Sprinkled Trees”

Monday, July 28th, 2014


Recently I attended an event where I chatted with a woman who (once she learned I was a dietitian) began lamenting the fact that she eats too much sugar, and sugar, as in “really, I should work on cutting it out of my diet”, became her sole conversational focus.

I could tell she was just getting warmed up when a distraction came along that abruptly ended her continuing to share how awful it (actually eating too much sugar) was for her, and I went on to mingle about elsewhere.

I’ve come to accept (and 100% expect) that once people learn what I do for a living – trust me, I’ve considered lying – the question inquiring which is the best diet, true confessions about junk food consumption, and general comments trending toward “I bet you never eat _____________ (fill in with your favorite demonized food)” are simply as common as conversations about the weather.

Now, I don’t doubt this woman truly believed she needed to pay more attention to her diet, surely she’s her own best monitoring system. And yet, I was absolutely incredulous when later I watched her LIGHT A CIGARETTE as she left the event.

Yep, you read that right. Not slurp from a 32 oz. “big gulp” soda or gnaw a chunk off a super-sized candy bar – but actually light up a cancer stick, I mean, cigarette.

When it comes to lifestyle behaviors, there’s not much that surprises me. I mean, I work with clients who have extremely unhealthy relationships with food and exercise. But the irony of this sight left me scratching my head.

I thought about it again this weekend, as I biked along the Illinois Prarie Path toward my favorite lake spot – cycling past streams and forests and trees. And while drinking in the view of those streams and forests and trees, here’s the conclusion I came to.

Without a doubt, this was your classic forest and trees experience.

Clearly this woman couldn’t see the forest for all of the sugary trees. And I desperately wished it had been appropriate to run after her and ask, ever so gently, “Um, the sugar you were telling me about? Do you think it would be possible to work on that later, after you’ve worked (really, really insanely, desperately, mind-crushingly hard) to stop smoking?”

But of course that wouldn’t have been appropriate. She wanted to know how to stop eating sugar – not stop smoking.


“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

“Kissin’ Wears Out. Cookin’ Don’t.”

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Kissin Wears Out Cookin DontTo me, one of the most interesting finds in boxes of dusty old books are those small, plastic-spined cookbooks, compiled through contributions made from members of churches, groups and associations. Recently, while digging through a pile of those little cookbooks, this title, “Cook and Tell”. . .“Kissin’ Wears Out, Cookin’ Don’t” had me in stiches – once I got past the grammar, LOL!

What these compilations frequently lack in the way of “healthy” recipes, they more than make up for in their message and inspiration. Specifically, COOK.

Much to my consternation, but not surprise, way too many people (particularly those who are young), appear to have no idea how to feed themselves, outside of calling into service the microwave, drive through, or carry out.

I consider myself one of the lucky ones. At a young age I learned from my mom and grandma not only how to cook, but bake (tricky!). That base education was furthered through four years of home economics classes, and while I took an extended hiatus from cooking when I moved out on my own, over the years I’ve brought it back with a vengeance.

The ability to feed yourself is the one reliable self-care effort you can always draw on. Like the cookbook title implies, certain things in life may lose their appeal – or breed contempt. But cooking is always new, interesting and fascinating – even on a small “grilled peanut butter sandwich” kind of scale. Now there. Doesn’t that just make you feel more self-sufficient?!

Or maybe look at it this way. If everything else falls apart, you can always make yourself a nice, big pot of soup. And some days, depending on your particular situation, soup may just win out over kissin’.



Drop Gluten, Drop Weight?

Saturday, May 17th, 2014

Is going gluten-free all it’s cracked up to be?

If you suffer from celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, the short answer is yes.

And that still holds true for those with a definitive diagnosis of celiac. But just last week, new research out of Monash University in Australia called into question whether non-celiac gluten sensitivity even exists (Gluten Sensitivity and Study Replication).

In 2011, an experiment at Monash was instrumental in coining the term “non-celiac gluten sensitivity” as a way to describe the gastrointestinal distress experienced after eating gluten-containing foods in people without celiac disease.

This recent study cycled self-identified gluten-sensitive participants through high, low and no-gluten diets. In the end, ALL of the diets triggered some level of discomfort, regardless of whether the diet contained gluten or not, leaving the researchers to postulate that gluten may not be the culprit in the participant’s GI discomfort.

Interesting, you say, but what does this have to do with weight loss?

First, let’s be clear. True celiac disease is an auto-immune disorder. It must be managed for life with a gluten-free diet consisting mostly of naturally gluten-free whole foods including fruits, vegetables, dried beans, nuts, seeds, dairy, fish, and lean meats; the same healthy diet recommendations made for those without celiac.

The gluten-free “craze” however, leads consumers to believe that eliminating gluten-containing foods or eating (expensive) “gluten-free” products results in weight loss (read any popular celebrity magazine/blog. . .you’ll see what I mean).

For example, according to independent research firm Mintel, 27% of Americans specifically choose gluten-free foods as a way to help them lose weight.

For those struggling with eating disorders, citing a gluten allergy or intolerance is viewed as a valid way to skip meals (where non-gluten items aren’t available), or eliminate certain foods from the diet altogether – behaviors that fuel the eating disorder.

I’m all about helping people nutritionally manage medical conditions; it’s what I love to do. But at the end of the day, here’s the honest truth.

There is no magic food, pill or potion that will help you lose weight and keep it off.




You’ve gotta make the commitment.

Now, what will it take to make that combo non-negotiable for you?

Not sure? NutriFit can help.

Call 630.469.6548 today to schedule a  consultation. You’ll learn just how easy “non-negotiable” can be.



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