Here's What I Take: Prenatal Supplements & Food

I've had a few people ask me what I'm taking, eating, etc. while pregnant -- so, here goes it all: 



I began to take a prenatal vitamin 3 months before my husband and I conceived. I chose to take Pure Encapsulations - Nutrient 950 with Vitamin K. While many prenatals include iron, I chose not to supplement with iron. I eat red meat regularly. And, my iron levels were normal at 10 weeks, and were the same level at 30 weeks.

This prenatal also includes folate (not folic acid) which is easier for our body to assimilate, compared to folic acid. I also liked that Pure Encapsulations - Nutrient 950 with Vitamin K includes vitamin K2, which can help to promote healthy bone mineralization.


Vitamin D3

We all need some Vitamin D. And because I'm pregnant in the winter months, I supplemented with a liquid Vitamin D. I like this Vitamin D



Calcium is controversial. But because of my history with low bone density, and my on-and-off again relationship with dairy, I took a calcium supplement when I was not eating dairy. 


Fish Oil

Why? Because Omega-3s and baby's brain! If I wasn't eating fish, I would take an off-the-shelf fish oil supplement from Whole Foods. I like fish, and prefer to eat, rather than swallow my Omega-3s.


3rd Trimester

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea

Starting at the end of the 2nd trimester, I began drinking Red Raspberry Leaf Tea. There is a study that shows that red raspberry lead tea can help to shorten labor and regulate hormones. Bonus: I love a cup of tea in the winter, so this isn't too difficult to implement. I try to drink 2-3 cups of this tea throughout the day during the 3rd trimester. 



I'm on the fence about this one for me. A study showed that women who ate 4-6 dates in the last 4 weeks before labor "reduced the need for induction and augmentation of labor, and produced a more favorable, but non-significant, delivery outcome". The same study showed that women are more likely to have intact membranes upon admission to the hospital, go into labor spontaneously, avoid Pitocin and have a shorter first phase of labor. Mama Natural has a great blog post about eating dates and summing up the study. 

But...4-6 dates is a lot of sugar. I get headaches when I too much sugar. And when I do eat sugar, I crave it more. So, I'm on the fence about eating 4-6 dates for 4 weeks. We'll see.



I ate pretty normally in the latter half of my 1st trimester, and in my 2nd trimester and 3rd. During the first half of my first trimester (week 5-9), I had food aversions and felt nauseous when I let myself get too hungry -- like in the middle of the night. So, I would wake up, have a snack, then go back to bed. I woke up feeling much better. 

I tried my best (even during the holidays!) to eat meats, veggies, starchy veggies, some nuts and healthy fats. While I generally don't eat many grains, I did have gluten-free oatmeal for a portion of my pregnancy. I've had treats, but I try not to go crazy. I enjoy 1 cup of coffee in the mornings, and I savor every sip.  I drink kombucha once per week, and

Have questions about food, supplements and fertility? Check out this post about superfoods for fertility and feel free to contact me with questions!

My Story of Hypothalamic Amenorrhea: Finding Life in a Missing Period

I self-diagnosed myself with hypothalamic amenorrhea 6 years ago, and lacked a menstrual period for the better part of a decade. I was doctor-diagnosed with hypothalamic amenorrhea late last year. 

For the most part, over those 6 years, I ignored my missing period. The side effect wasn't bad after all -- no period!

Yet, as I got older, little niggling signs began to show something was amiss -- my joints ached, I craved salt like no one's business, I had post-menopausal female hormone levels, and well, maybe one day I would want to have kids and I would need to ovulate for that to happen.

And it all started with the freaking pill. 


Birth Control

I had an on-again off-again relationship with birth control. Just like any bad boyfriend, I can’t recall the number of times I’d broken up, then got back together with the little white pill.

It stole my heart at 17, and went something like this for the next decade:

  • 2004-2007 On Birth Control {because college + babies didn't seem like I good idea for me}
  • 2008-2010 Off Birth Control {I didn't have a period over these 2 years}
  • 2010-2011 On Birth Control {because the doctors didn't know why I wasn't having a period, but concluded going back birth control would at least create some semblance of menstruation}
  • 2012-2014 Off Birth Control {I had 1 or 2 periods per year}
  • 2015 On Birth Control {because I was diagnosed with osteopenia and hypothalamic amenorrhea, and my doctor thought it was important for my bone health -- and I agreed}
  • 2016 Off Birth Control {because I needed to get to the root of of things}


During all the off-birth control & no-period phases, I was super jazzed to not have a period.

Outside the obvious benefit of not needing to deal with a monthly visitor, I was:

  1. Saving money on birth control and tampons
  2. Not having PMS crazy-eyes
  3. Not having weird acne/headaches/cramping



But, all the super jazzed feelings came to a halt in 2015, when I was officially diagnosed with hypothalamic amenorrhea (HA).

In ordinary terms, HA is a result of the body sensing so much stress (mental stress or physical stress) that it produces cortisol (a fight-or-flight stress hormone) in lieu of sex hormones.

No sex hormones = no period

Imagine there's a lion chasing you every day.  Your body is rightfully stressed at the threat of a lion attack, and produces cortisol so you can run from said lion. 

Who has time to produce a baby when you’re running from a lion?

And that’s what I was doing: Running from a lion. Every. Day.


When it rains, it pours

I thought I was doing everything right. And by most definitions, I was a well-functioning adult.

I ate healthy, I had a demanding career in a big-girl job and I was checking off all my Type-A check boxes. 

Yet, in 2015, those little niggling signs turned into huge red flags:

  • My joints started to ache (later to be diagnosed as osteopenia)
  • I ATE salt -- I went through one salt grinder worth of salt every 1-2 weeks (sign of adrenal dysfunction)
  • I often felt light-headed, like I was going to pass out. My skin turned really dry and I had low blood pressure (signs of adrenal dysfunction)
  • My adrenal test came back at twice the normal range (adrenal overload)
  • My hormone levels were that of a post-menopausal woman (hypothalamic amenorrhea)

My day-to-day life was similar to that of so many other women -- I was exercising, working a stressful job, being Type-A (like literally organizing other people's email inboxes) -- but, why was I the only one dealing with this condition?


No two birds are alike

So, here’s the thing that makes me stomp my feet like a 3-year-old. 

You can have two women who eat the same thing, exercise the same amount, stress about the same things. One will lose her period. The other won’t.

I see women everyday who lead far more stressful lives than I do, exercise far harder and longer than I do, eat the same amount as I do – and they maintain their cycle.

Hmpphh.. I’m trying my hardest not to say, “but it’s not faiiiirrrr". 


No Bones About It

So while I was wallowing in the diagnosis of hypothalamic amenorrhea, I found myself in another precarious situation.

In nutrition school, I learned that a woman needs estrogen for bone development. 

My hormone panels from 2009-2014 showed that my estrogen levels were that of a post-menopausal woman – very low.

But, doctors kept saying, “let’s just wait it out”. 

Over the 6 years, I knew I had HA -- thank you Dr. Google. But, I was too stubborn to change. 

Finally, in 2015 I requested a DEXA scan. Turns out – I had osteopenia at the ripe age of 27.


Back On it

After a small freak out by my ob-gyn and primary care doctor, they told me to get back on a hormone replacement because I need estrogen for bone development. 

And since our rate for absorbing calcium into bones begins to decline after age 30, they didn’t want to wait around.


Masking the symptom

My doctors insisted I go back on the birth control pill. But, I didn’t want to go back on the pill. Stubborn, much?

I had 2 options to increase my estrogen:

1. Go back on a prescription of estradiol for (possibly) ever. 


2. Stop doing all the things (working out, eating “healthy”, stressing) and let my body regulate sex hormones again.



Denial, then acceptance

I chose Option #1. 

The 6 months after the diagnosis of hypothalamic amenorrhea and osteopenia, I went back on the birth control pill.

Each month I walked into Target to fill the prescription, I knew I wasn't doing the right thing.

But, I didn't want to change. 

I didn't want to change my life. I didn't want to change my habits. I wanted to do all the things that I had done forever because I hated the idea of change. I hated the idea of giving up control. I hated the idea of giving up the things that made me me. 

And then, almost overnight, I chose Option #2.  

I can't pinpoint what shifted exactly, but I changed.

I stopped taking birth control, stopped working out, started eating a ton and started not caring so much. 

After I went "all in", I felt like an adult. I felt brave. I felt calm. I felt at ease. 


The Root cause

For me (and after reading endless forum posts and online resources), I think my hypothalamic amenorrhea is brought on by a combination of two things:

1) I'm HIGHLY SENSITIVE + highly strung

I have very sensitive skin. When I got my first facial a few years ago, my face turned so red the facialist (who was 20 years in the biz) said she had never seen someone be so sensitive to her most mild products.

I have very sensitive digestion. 

I have sensitive emotions. I’m super sensitive to criticism, failure and unmet expectations.

With all these sensitivities, why would I think that my body is NOT sensitive to stress?  


2) Lifestyle factors

I did (apparently) stressful things: over-exercising, over-healthy eating and over-stressing.

But if I didn't do the exercising, healthy eating and stressing, then my highly-sensitive/highly-strung personality thought I was failing. 

Let the vicious cycle begin. 


Take a chill pill, won’t you?

The only real solution for my lifestyle-induced condition is to change my lifestyle.

So, to let my body know that I’m not running from a lion, here’s how I've changed my lifestyle:

  • Eating 2,500-2,800 calories per day with the goal of gaining 10-15 pounds
  • Eating 200+ grams of carbohydrate
  • Not working out
  • Sleeping a lot (but, I’ve always been an 8+ hour sleeper)
  • Walking 30 minutes per day
  • Working with a therapist
  • Being super chill, dude


Hormone Disruptors

In addition to these lifestyle changes, I've also taken a closer look at common household and body care products that are increasingly linked to hormone dysregulation and disruption. 

Below are posts describing how I'm changing our home and products. 

Finding support

While I hesitate to write and post this before I'm out of the woods, I know there are women struggling with hypothalamic amenorrhea and may feel isolated, like I did.

I found a few trusted friends who were dealing with this condition and it made a world of difference in my life. If you're dealing with this condition, feel free to reach out to me or if you prefer to stay anonymous, you can find support on forums like this one, Facebook Groups like this one and this one and by reading this book



(October 4th, 2017)

I've been meaning to write an update to this post.

I get a trickle of emails from ladies asking for updates on my HA journey, and I'm also a member of a few HA FB groups, so I get asked quite a bit about my recovery and I'm happy to share that I became pregnant roughly 6 weeks after going "all in" -- eating a ton of food, not working out, trying not to stress about things.

I did not get a period before becoming pregnant, which is not always the norm. 

I increased my BMI from 19.5 to 21.5 and gained about 13 pounds in 6 weeks. 

The biggest thing in my recovery was eating 2,500-3,000 calories per day and not working out. It was tough, and I thought I was going to balloon up, but my weight stabilized at 138 pounds (I was 125 pounds), then I got pregnant. It's crazy how fast it happened. 

I often get asked what I ate, so here was a sample day: breakfast was oatmeal, eggs and a sausage; lunch was leftovers; snacks were full-fat yogurt, nut butter and full-fat cheese; dinner was meat, sweet potatoes and veggies all covered in butter. Basically lots of carbs and fat! And no exercise. 

I don't necessarily eat this amount of food now, but that's what I ate to get pregnant. I started working out after my morning sickness passed (week 9), but I never break a sweat or breathe hard. :)

I hope my story brings hope to someone suffering with infertility or HA. It will happen, it takes patience and lots of full-fat yogurt. :)

Healthy Home Detox: 5 Steps To a "Clean" Kitchen

For more Healthy Home Detox ideas, see Healthy Home Detox: 7 Cleaning Swaps for detox-friendly cleaning products to keep your home squeaky clean from both dust and hormone disruptors. 

Our kitchens are the most nourishing space in the home -- but some of the most common materials (like plastic and Teflon) found in the kitchen are linked to negative health effects on our endocrinecardiovascular and respiratory systems


Let's make our kitchen the most nourishing room in our home! 



1. Switch to Glass

I’ve been slowly switching from plastic to glass and it didn’t happen overnight.

Don't get me wrong, I still buy and use plastic. I buy vegetables from Trader Joe’s wrapped in plastic. When I’m making my husband’s lunch, I put small items (nuts, sliced apples) in plastic baggies. My ice cube containers are made of plastic.

However, when it comes to food storage, I try to store food in glass containers like these and these.

Here are a few benefits of switching to glass:

  • Glass will not absorb stains and odors like plastic does. Have you placed tomato sauce in a plastic container and noticed it forever has a tint of red? Yep, plastic is porous and will retain food color and odor.
  • Food tastes better when stored in glass. I don’t have any scientific articles to reference, but from personal experience, food stored in glass just tastes better.
  • Glass does not leach chemicals. Plastic can release chemicals that act like the hormone estrogen. These chemicals can leach into the food they are storing, especially when heated.
  • Glass lasts longer. The initial investment of glass may be higher compared to plastic, but glass is durable and won’t hold stain or odor.
  • Glass is multi-functional. Freezer. Microwave. Oven. Glass does it all.


2. Drink Clean Water

The EWG states there could be over 300 chemicals swimming around in our water. What could possibly be in our water, other than H20?

  • Volatile Organic Chemicals like pesticides and herbicides
  • Heavy Metals like lead and mercury
  • Endocrine Disruptors that mimic or interfere with hormones in the body

The EWG collects data on contaminants found in local water supplies; enter your zip code into EWG’s water quality database to see how your local water system ranks.

I was shocked to find our local water contains more pollutants than the national average. Yikes!

The first step to clean water is to avoid using plastic water bottles. I like these glass water bottles; they have a silicon sleeve and have lots of pretty colors to choose from.

The next step is an investment, but consider filtering your water. I like the Berkey filter!


3. Detox Kitchenware

Replace those Teflon non-stick pans with a safer alternative, like ceramic, cast iron and stainless steel.


4. Do Away with BPA-lined Cans

Bisphenol A (BPA) is an organic synthetic compound that can leach into foods and disrupt hormones like estrogen. 

Companies are not required to disclose if the lining of a can includes BPA, so determining whether a can is BPA-free requires research.  

Some companies, like Native Forest, Wild Planet and some of Trader Joe’s products are reported to be BPA-free, so I try to purchase these brands when possible.


5. Clean Up the Cleaning Products

I wrote this post about swapping out common cleaning products for products achieving an A rating by the EWG. 

Here are a few kitchen products:

What are your favorite green cleaning products?Do you make your own? Tell me in the comments below!

My Beauty Routine

Sensitive butterfly

I've always had super-sensitive and dry skin.  

When I got my first facial a few years ago, my face turned so red the facialist (who was 20 years in the biz) said she had never seen someone be so sensitive to her most mild products.

When the ladies of Sephora have tested out different foundations and creams, I've left with a face so red it hurt. 

My dry skin soaks up lotion, cream, oils -- any liquid, really -- without hesitation. 


Natural way

About 3 years ago, after getting a grasp on the real-food eating thing, I started dabbling in natural skincare.

I wanted to use less chemical-ly, more safe products to help quench my thirsty, sensitive skin. And since our skin is our largest organ, and what is placed on our skin is largely absorbed into our bloodstream, I wanted to use more natural products (think: if I put it on my skin, I also want to be able to put it in my mouth). 

I began to wash my face with coconut oil. I tried the no-poo shampoo method for a hot minute, but decided it wasn't for me. 

After glowing recommendations from blogger friends, over the past year, I've incorporated skin care products from 2 companies that I love -- Primally Pure and Beautycounter

  1. Primally Pure uses oils to create beautiful, luxurious products. 
  2. Beautycounter uses safer ingredients to create skin products that actually work
"The European Union has spent the past two decades banning or restricting more than 1,300 ingredients, the US has only banned 11 to date. At Beautycounter, we've banned more than 1,500 ingredients setting a new health and safety standard." -Beautycounter Mission

As I started recommending these products to family and friends, I realized I wanted to help others create a safer, less toxic home and beauty routine. So, I've teamed up with Beautycounter to help bring these products to you!

Have a question about a Beautycounter product? Feel free to send me an email ( or send me a note through my contact page!


My Daily Beauty Routine

This post will serve as a running, updated list of products I've tried and loved, and also haven't loved. When I update this post, I will update you via social media and the newsletter!


AM Face Routine

I don't wash my face with a cleanser in the morning, I just rinse my face with water!

1) Nourishing Day Cream - After rinsing my face with water, I moisturize my face, décolleté and neck with this cream. It's so creamy and leaves my skin soft! I let this soak in for a few minutes. 

2) Lustro Face Oil 2 - If my face is feeling particularly dry, I will combine 1-2 drops of the Lustro Face Oil with the Nourishing Day Cream and rub into my face, décolleté and neck. I let this soak in for a few minutes. 

3) Vibrant Eye Perfector - While the cream is soaking in, I dab a little Vibrant Eye Perfector around my eyes. A little goes a long way to reduce those fine lines!

4) Protect All Over Sunscreen SPF 30 - I L.O.V.E this sunscreen. I wear it nearly everyday! 

5) Tint Skin Foundation - While I don't wear foundation everyday, I do like to look nice every now and then. This foundation does a great job of covering up uneven skin tones and blending with my skin tone. I wear the Linen color. 

6) Lengthening Mascara - This mascara lengthens my lashes and doesn't clump up! I had a problem with mascara rubbing off on my eyelids, but this one doesn't rub off or smear. I use coconut oil to remove the mascara from my eyelashes at night. 

  Nourishing Day Cream  - keep my skin soft for the day ahead

Nourishing Day Cream - keep my skin soft for the day ahead

  Lustro Face Oil 2  - mix a drop or two with the Nourishing Day Cream for extra moisture!

Lustro Face Oil 2 - mix a drop or two with the Nourishing Day Cream for extra moisture!

   Vibrant Eye Perfector  - fine line defense!

 Vibrant Eye Perfector - fine line defense!

  Beautycounter’s Protect All Over Sunscreen SPF 30  - my everyday go-to sun protection!

Beautycounter’s Protect All Over Sunscreen SPF 30 - my everyday go-to sun protection!

  Tint Skin Foundation  - perfect for evening out skin tones!

Tint Skin Foundation - perfect for evening out skin tones!

  Lengthening Mascara  - love this lash lengthener! 

Lengthening Mascara - love this lash lengthener! 



PM Face Routine

1) Charcoal Cleansing Bar - I cleanse with the Charcoal Cleansing Bar using a wash cloth. (I was using Primally Pure's Cleansing Oil and loved that, but right now I'm loving the Charcoal Cleansing Bar, too!

2) Primally Pure's Fancy Face Serum or Lustro Face Oil 2 - I place 3 drops on my face. I rub any leftover oil on my hand onto my décolleté and neck. 

3) Restorative Night Cream - After using the oil, I lather my face, décolleté and neck with the Restorative Night Cream. This cream is so light and creamy! 

4) Vibrant Eye Perfector - I dab a little around my eyes. A little goes a long way to reduce those fine lines!

  Charcoal Cleansing Bar  - squeaky clean & smooth face!

Charcoal Cleansing Bar - squeaky clean & smooth face!

  Lustro Face Oil 2  - So moisturizing!

Lustro Face Oil 2 - So moisturizing!

  Restorative Night Cream  - light & nourishing cream!

Restorative Night Cream - light & nourishing cream!

  Vibrant Eye Perfector  - fine lines be gone!

Vibrant Eye Perfector - fine lines be gone!



AM & PM Body Routine

1) Primally Pure's Orange + Ylang Ylang Oil - Each morning and evening, I use Primally Pure's Orange + Ylang Ylang Oil on my arms, hands and any other dry area. 

2) Beautycounter’s Protect Stick Sunscreen - I keep this handy sunscreen stick in my tiny purse and use it on my face, arms and décolleté when I've either forgotten to apply sunscreen, or I've been out in the sun for a while and need a sunscreen refresher. 


Safe skin products I didn't love

Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer - I found this didn't provide enough coverage for me. It's great as a moisturizer, but I wanted more coverage. Instead, I've opted for the Tint Skin Foundation on make-up wearing days, and Nourishing Day Cream + Lustro Face Oil 2 on make-up free days! 



As I started recommending these products to family and friends, I realized I wanted to help others create a safer, less toxic home and beauty routine. So, I've teamed up with Beautycounter to help bring these products to you!

Want to jump right in and explore more safe skin alternatives? See all of Beautycounter's products right here!

Have a question about a product not listed above or becoming involved with Beautycounter? Feel free to send me an email ( or send me a note through my contact page!

Also, if you purchase a product through a link on this page, I will be your beauty side-kick; I will answer your beauty questions, help you decide on the perfect product and occasionally send you update on new products! 

Happy Skin, Happy Life!

Healthy Skin Detox: Safe Sunscreen

If you want to skip the jibber-jab and shop my 2 favorite, non-toxic, skin-loving sunscreen products -- here you go:

Hello, summa'!

If you're like me, you may have mixed feelings about summer. 

The good: BBQs, beach chairs, fizzy drinks, friends.

The bad: Looming potential of getting scorched by the summer sun.


Previous sun sins

My childhood and teenage years were filled with numerous sunburns and over-exposure. 

I wince when I think back of hours spent in the pool without sun protection. There's not much I can do to change the past, but there's a TON I can do to protect myself today. 



Before launching into methods to protect ourselves from the sun, there are benefits of getting some exposure --  like Vitamin D!

Vitamin D performs a plethora of functions in the body:

  • Promotes calcium absorption from our food in the small intestine and increases calcium levels in the body
  •  Alongside Vitamin A, helps aids immune system, skin health and eyesight
  • Alongside Vitamin K2, deposits calcium into our bones
  • Alongside magnesium, maintains calcium balance and aids in muscle contraction and relaxation

There's a balance between too much sun and not enough sun. Once we get our 10-15 minutes, it's time to lather up!


Trash the Toxic 'screen

Hormone-disrupting chemicals are found in our skin care products, household cleaning products and kitchens

These chemicals are also found in common drugstore sunscreens. Sunscreens with the ingredient oxybenezone or “-benzone" are associated with biochemical and cellular level changes including endocrine disruption, allergy/immunotoxicity and organ system toxicity.

The active ingredients in a chemical sunscreen work by absorbing the rays rather than blocking or scattering them.


My favorite Non-toxic Sunscreen

Zinc-based, mineral sunscreens are an effective, non-toxic alternative to chemical sunscreens because the zinc sits on top of the skin and acts as a physical barrier to scatter and reflect the UVA and UVB rays.

Here are my favorites:

 This stick is small and fits in my tiny purse. I use it on my face, arms and décolleté when I've either forgotten to apply sunscreen, or I've been out in the sun for a while and need a sunscreen refresher. It's kid-friendly and great for kiddos who don't love to be lathered in lotion sunscreen. It contains organic coconut oil and acai fruit oil to help hydrate the skin. The best part -- it has an EWG rating of 1 (which is like the toughest teacher in school giving you an A on your final paper). 


 I wear this sunscreen nearly everyday under my foundation. It doesn't even feel like I'm wearing sunscreen -- no white residue, no telltale smell. It's like a hydrating lotion and I feel confident in wearing it everyday because I know I'm not placing hormone-disrupting chemicals on my skin! Just like the stick, it has an EWG rating of 1


Protect yourself

Sunscreen should be our last tool for sun protection. Here are some other ways to stay protected from the sun:

  • Wear clothes & a hat
  • Find shade
  • Plan activities around peak hours. Go outdoors in early morning or late afternoon. 
  • Wear sunglasses!

Interested in more non-toxic skincare products?

Click here to explore skin-care, makeup and body care products from Beautycounter! Have questions about specific products? Send me an email or send a message via the contact form!

Healthy Home Detox: 7 Cleaning Products Swaps

Over the past few years, I've devoted my time, effort and Google searches toward thinking, writing and counseling on healthy food -- particularly organic, sustainable and affordable. 

And while I avoid using the word detox, I am going to use it here: when we remove artificial sweeteners, unhealthy oils and inflammatory foods, we detoxify our body from potentially harmful food and additives. 

But what about detoxifying our body from chemicals in and on our air, skin and home? 


Lurking in the house

Recently, I've been thinking a lot about household products. 

Common household and body care products are increasingly linked to negative health effects on our endocrine, cardiovascular and respiratory systems.


Ready to Switch

Like I said, I've been thinking a lot about household products. It's a problem -- I tend to think about things a. lot. 

Granted, I've made small efforts. When I shop at Target, I try to buy more "natural" cleaners like Seventh Generation and Dr. Bronner's. But, I had not yet made a focused effort to switch our entire home to non-toxic cleaners. 

I've had a plethora of hormone issues as of late, and decided it couldn't hurt to remove possible hormone-disruptors from our home. 


Environmental Working Group

I began by scanning our current household cleaning products in to the Environmental Working Group's Healthy Cleaning database. This database scores the safety of all ingredients listed on the labels, websites and worker safety documents for over 2,500 cleaning products and gives each product an A thru F rating. 

The EWG rates cleaning products based on the likelihood of causing asthma, skin allergies, cancer, developmental toxicity and it's environmental impact.


Cleaning up the Cleaning PRoducts

I was surprised to find some of my “green” cleaning products have a C, D or even F rating! Sad face emoji. 

With $40 in hand, I made 7 squeaky clean products swaps! All products have an A rating by the EWG.

General Cleaner & Hand-washing Soap

The ultimate multi-purpose soap solution! Dr. Bronner's Pure-Castile Soap is a multi-use rock star. Here's a cheat sheet of dilution ratios and uses. 

Dr Bronners Pure Castile Soap Peppermint has an A rating by the EWG. I use as a hand-washing soap with a foaming pump. 



Surface Wipes

Babyganics All-Purpose Surface Wipes Fragrance-Free has an A rating by the EWG.

Right now, I'm using Whole Foods Market Green Surface Cleaning Wipes, Minty Fresh, which also has an A rating by the EWG. I will  try the Babyganics wipes next. 

Synthetic fragrances can be full of chemicals and hormone disruptors. My skin is highly sensitive to fragrance-containing soaps, detergents and body care products.


Surface Cleaner

Seventh Generation Disinfecting Multi-Surface Cleaner, Lemongrass Citrus has an A rating by the EWG

The smell of this cleaner is not as citrus-y and bright as I would like, but I'm adjusting to it. 

I'm a wipe-aholic. Every night I like to wipe down my entire kitchen and use this cleaner. I rest easy knowing I'm not eating chemicals. 

This product is available at Target. 


Dishwashing Soap

Earth Friendly Products Wave Auto Dishwasher Gel, Free & Clear has an A rating by the EWG.

Our dishwasher requires a liquid soap. Finding a high-rated liquid soap on the EWG soap requires a bit of digging, but this one is great. 

This product is available at Whole Foods.



Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Seventh Generation Natural Toilet Bowl Cleaner, Emerald Cypress & Fir has an A rating by the EWG

My least favorite chore! Luckily my husband doesn't mind cleaning the toilets. Currently, there are only 4 A-rated toilet cleaning products.

This product is available at Target.


Laundry Detergent

Planet 2x Ultra Laundry Detergent, Free & Clear has an A rating by the EWG

I was disappointed to find my old "natural" laundry detergent had a D rating. Hmmph.. I wish I would have checked EWG earlier. 

This product is available at Whole Foods. 



Shower Cleaner

Seventh Generation Natural Tub & Tile Cleaner, Emerald Cypress & Fir has an A rating by the EWG

Another Seventh Generation product that can be found at Target. Yippee! 




Clean Cleaning Tips

  • Keep the windows and doors open for fresh air.

  • Have green plants around -- plants naturally detoxify the air. Use fresh flowers or diffuse essential oils in lieu of fragrant sprays.

  • Remove your shoes at the front door -- car oil, pesticides, who knows what’s on the bottom of our shoes! I'm guilty of tracking through the house with my shoes on -- it's about baby steps, right?!

  • Dust! Keeping surfaces free of dust will prevent dust from circulating in the air, which can aggravate sensitivities to allergens and particles. 


I have a few more blog posts planned around creating a healthy and fresh home: 1) cleaning up our kitchens and 2) cleaning up our skincare. 

Do you use EWG's database? What's your favorite "green" cleaning product?

Leave a comment below!

15 Foods You'll Find in My Pantry & Fridge

In working with clients and corporate clients about nutrition, I'm often asked, "so, what do you eat?", or "what do you always keep in your fridge and your pantry?". 

I generally take a deep breath, jog my memory back to the fridge and start rattling off my must-haves. 

Since we are curious creatures, here's a peek inside my fridge and pantry -- these items will be found in my kitchen after a grocery shopping trip!


15 foods you'll find in my pantry & fridge


1. Ground Beef (preferably grass-fed) 

Ah, yes -- the unglamorous workhorse of the protein family -- ground beef! I keep a few packages of ground beef in the freezer and rotate them into the fridge every few days. 

If you follow me on Instagram, I often lament that on Thursdays the dinner struggle is real. On Thursdays, dinner is often a vegetable stir-fry with ground beef. Thanks for saving the day, GB! 

I try to buy grass-fed ground beef as often as possible, usually from Trader Joe's. 


2. Chicken breast/thighs (preferably pasture-raised)

Everyone's favorite -- chicken! 

I try to buy chicken thighs or breast from happy, healthy, foraging pasture-raised chickens. If I can't buy meat from these chickens, then I will buy the breasts of a conventionally-raised chicken because toxins are stored in the fat cells of animals. 

My few go-to chicken recipes : Southwest Chicken Chili, Chicken & Apple Patties and Fried Cauliflower Rice


3. Diestel Deli Turkey Slices

It's tricky to find deli meat from humanly-raised, bug-pecking turkeys. Recently, I've been purchasing Diestel Deli Turkey Slices. While Diestel's website says they give their turkeys plenty of sunshine and fresh air, the turkeys are fed corn and soy -- not perfect, but a lot better than conventionally-raised gobblers. 

I often wrap sun-dried tomatoes or roasted bell peppers in turkey slices and gobble up as a snack or small lunch.


4. Smoked Salmon (wild-caught)

Pricey, but so worth it! I love knowing my body is getting a big dose of Omega-3s and my skin feels more more hydrated when I eat seafood 2-4 times per week. 

I buy wild-caught seafood. I take a gulp at the cash register and pay the big-spender price tag. 


5. Shrimp (wild-caught)

Shrimp is my go-to-meal-in-a-rush. Garlic. Butter. Side veggie. DONE!

I try to buy wild-caught and all that good stuff!


6. Eggs (pasture-raised)

Last, but easily the most consumed protein in our household -- eggs!

Eggs are a true superfood, especially during pregnancy. Eggs include all 9 essential amino acids and fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, water-soluble B vitamins, iron, phosphorus, selenium and choline. 

I buy eggs from happy, healthy pasture-raised chickens. A dozen eggs is $6 per carton which can seem expensive. But, considering that I eat 2 eggs per day, my breakfast protein rounds out to just $1 per meal. 



7. White Rice (organic, gluten-free)

My husband is quite athletic, and I don't think he would mind me saying so. That said -- he needs and enjoys white rice as a carbohydrate source. 

Unfortunately, I experience some pretty sharp stomach pains when I consume white rice. I've done all the normal precautions -- soaking, buying organic, etc. -- but, I just can't tolerate rice. 

I purchase white rice over brown rice because brown rice contains anti-nutrients which can inhibit mineral absorption. And fortunately, my husband does not suffer from blood sugar issues, so white rice goes straight to his muscles after a hard workout. 

I buy organic white rice from Trader Joe's.  


8. Oatmeal (organic, gluten-free)

While my husband eats white rice, I enjoy oatmeal. I eat a bowl nearly every morning -- half before my morning workout and half after my morning workout. I like it and so does my tummy. 

I buy gluten-free and organic oatmeal


8. Sweet Potatoes

Oh my word -- I eat so many sweet potatoes. I will eat them roasted, toasted, nuked, whatever. 

I buy organic sweet potatoes. 


9. All the vegetables, seasonal fruit and dried fruit

I feel like it goes without saying, but our fridge drawers are bursting with veggies. 

I find seasonal, farmer's market shopping SO FUN! Seriously, guys -- I'm a cheap thrill. 

I love going to the farmer's market and seeing the new weekly produce -- all the colors, new dish ideas and samples have me giddy. 



10. Coconut Milk

Tried, true and trusty -- coconut milk. Whether's it's poured in coffee, whipped up as a dessert with fruit or used as a base for a sauce, we always have a few cans of coconut milk stashed in the pantry. 

I also enjoy coconut cream from Trader Joe's -- it's a bit thicker and just as delicious. 


11. Primal Kitchen Mayo

I can't write enough about this stuff. Buy it. It will change your life. 


12. Hummus

Because #snacks. I like Hope Food Hummus or Trader Joe's Eggplant Hummus dipped in sugar snap peas or carrots. 

Hummus can be full of canola or other junky oils -- so please, please look at the hummus labels!


13. Organic Broth

There was a time in my life when I was making my own bone broth, but that doesn't happen often these days. I buy Pacific Foods Organic Broths and add it to dishes or cook rice in it. 


14. Cooking Fats


15. Pantry extras: EVOO-packed sun-dried tomatoes, water-packed roasted bell peppers, canned tomatoes, tomato paste, dried fruit/dates

It's really hard to make this list only 15 items long, so I'm jamming in everything in this item. 

I keep jars and a variety of canned veggies on hand to toss in dishes, usually on a whim. 


What's in your fridge that's not on this list?

I love finding new products! Give 'em to me in the comments below! 



3 Healthy Salts

Salt Shake Down

Similar to cholesterol and saturated fat, salt has a bad reputation. 

We've all heard the fright:

Be careful -- too much salt will give you high blood pressure and a heart attack.

Don't worry -- it's low sodium.

To the contrary, salt does a body good.

Salt can help our body cope with stress, improve insulin sensitivity and keep us hydrated!

Similar to sugar, salt comes in many varieties and can go by many different names. And, like with real food, the most nutrient-rich is unprocessed and full of essential minerals.


But Salt is Going to Kill Me

Sounds familiar, right?

But fat is going to kill me.

But cholesterol is going to kill me.

Within the past few decades, salt was placed on the danger-zone list. (1) It was deemed unhealthy and associated with an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and heart attacks.

Yet recent studies tell a different story.

A recent 2011 meta-analysis study of more than 6,000 people, showed that reducing salt did not correlate with a reduction in heart attacks, strokes or death.(2)

Another 2011 study followed 3,681 middle-aged healthy Europeans for eight years. The participants were divided into three groups: low, moderate, and high salt consumption. The conclusion : the risk for heart disease was 56 percent higher for the low-salt group than for the group who ate the most salt! (3)


Side Effects of Low Salt

What are the ramifications of eating too little salt?

Too little salt in the diet is correlated with increased insulin resistance, increased triglycerides and LDL cholesterol and arterial plaque formation. (4,5,6)

Sodium is an essential mineral. It plays a crucial role in our body, including facilitating muscle contraction and nerve cell transmission, moving nutrients in and waste out of the cell and regulating hormones.

High blood pressure and its accomplices (high triglycerides, obesity) may be more tied to a high sugar, high vegetable oil, highly processed food diet.



Table salt is processed at high-heat temperatures, which eliminates trace elements.

It's often bleached, heated and contains additives like calcium silicate to prevent clumping. Yikes! 

Processed salt is found in processed and packaged foods. When you remove processed foods from your diet, you will naturally reduce your intake of processed sodium, along all that other junk that lingers in bags and boxes.


3 Natural Types of Salts

The best types of salt are unrefined, unprocessed and contain over 60 trace minerals.


1. Sea Salt

Unrefined sea salt is harvested from ancient sea beds or by evaporating sea water. Sea salt contains trace minerals and vary in color depending on the location of harvesting. Most are either pink, gray, black or white.

Worried about pollution from the ocean getting into your salt? If you purchase a darker colored sea salt, there will be a higher concentration of impurities like lead, yet also a higher concentration of essential trace nutrients. (7)

Selina Naturally Celtic Sea Salt is harvested from France.


2. Himalayan Salt

Sherpa Pink Gourmet Himalayan Salt is harvested from sea beds in Pakistan. Himalayan is rich in minerals, too.


3. Real Salt

Redmond's Real Salt is mined from an ancient sea bed in Redmond, Utah.  Real Salt is rich in minerals, too.


What kind of salt are you using? Look at packaged food items in your pantry.

Try to purchase food items without salt, then add your own high-quality salt.

Or, look for packaged items with a high-quality salt on the ingredient list.

Don't be afraid of salt! When you buy quality meat and vegetables, grind some on some natural salt for flavor and to maintain proper mineral and electrolyte balance.

Pick One Habit. Do It Everyday.

This year, I wanted to get better at taking photos.

So, I made a resolution to take at least one photo each day with my DSLR camera. 

I created a worksheet for myself as a way to visually track my do-it-everyday-photo-taking hobby. 

Each day that I take a photo, I fill in a bubble. 


I recently gave this worksheet to a client, as a way for her to track each day she went on a walk. 

Habit-setting ideas:

  • Do some type of exercise/movement each day
  • Eat breakfast at home each day
  • Eat to feel your best each day
  • Be in bed by 9:30 PM each day

Starting in May, I began using the Everyday Bubbles worksheet to bubble in each day that I hit a specific macronutrient goal. I've been tracking my macros since December, and love it!


Stay up-to-date: I am excited to be working on a project to combine the concept behind this worksheet, plus nutrition and wellness to create a year-long habit-forming product. Hint: Do you love your planner? :) Make sure you're signed up for the newsletter to stay up to date!



It's easy to become quickly overwhelmed by our ever-changing goals, habits and aspirations. 

I find the best results come from focusing on one specific, measurable habit at a time.

The timeline length you choose to focus on this everyday habit can be 1 week or 1 year -- but I suggest focusing on performing that one habit every day for at least 3 months

"excellence is not an act, but a habit"


No easy fixes

I don't do quick fixes.

If you ever hear me promoting a weight-loss shake, 2-week fast, juice cleanse or miracle powder, I must have been knocked on the head and I am in need of medical attention. 

But, I am a fan of habits. Mundane. Do-it-everyday. Habits.


We are what we do everyday.

In working with clients 1-on-1 and in corporate settings, I have learned a few things:

1) We know what to do. Or, in a few short weeks -- after learning there's 50 grams of sugar in that cold-pressed juice at Starbucks and that canola oil is, in fact, not heart healthy -- we know what to do.

2) Doing the thing everyday is hard. The meal prep. The healthy snacks. The packing lunch. The making of dinner after a long day. The not wandering into the kitchen after 9PM and eating a bucket of brownies because we deserve it. This is all hard. 

3) We must know our self. I'm a huge fan of Gretchen Rubin -- she talks about habits, happiness and how knowing how we respond to expectations can allow us to create habits that stick, which can lead to a greater sense of happiness.

Take the Four Tendencies Quiz




Are you an Obliger -- do you need outer accountability to reach your goals? You may need a nutritionist or someone to check in with daily to ensure you are staying on track. 

Or, are you an Upholder -- do you have strong inner accountability? When you set goals for yourself, you meet them and don't need outer accountability. 

I'm an upholder. Which I enjoy 95% of the time. But, I try to intentionally shake things up because it's easy for me to get caught in a rut of my own habits. 


Are you a Moderator? Do you need a little treat everyday -- a glass of wine, a nibble of chocolate -- to keep from feeling deprived?

Or, are you a Abstainer? Do you find it easier to give something up entirely, than indulge moderately? Are you better off never keeping ice cream in the house, otherwise you'll eat the whole thing?

I'm an abstainer. Please. No peanut butter chocolate cups in the house. I will crave them and want them. All. The. Time. 

Knowing how you respond best to expectations and goals will allow you to create habits that stick. 

Goal Chasers!

I get so excited talking about goals, habits and how to make it all happen. 

Once we have the tools to eat well, sleep lots and exercise, our success depends on the day-in and day-out grind to maintain our health.

Stay in touch for fun announcements and pick up the monthly Everyday Bubbles worksheet. A bunch of you already downloaded it -- so, thank you and may all of you bubble your way to success!

3 Steps To Ruin Your Salad With Bottled Dressings

When that burger is healthier than your salad

Imagine : you have an interview scheduled over lunch.

You order a salad – because salads are healthy. And you want to show your potential boss that you make good decisions, care about your health and that you're not a complete animal. 

The salad arrives and is lathered in a creamy salad dressing and covered in dried cranberries, sugar-glazed nuts, crispy chicken, croutons and a mound of cheese. 

Ayygh – that burger wrapped in a lettuce bun is looking like a complete health food right now.


Foiled by the Package

Just like snack bars and yogurt, salads -- in particular, salad dressings -- can transform a plate of nutrient-rich veggies and protein into a mound of bad-for-us oils with goodness-know-what additives and preservatives.


Dress Talk

Salad dressing -- even salad dressings promoted by health conscious companies can be full of junk. 

Let’s take a quick peak at 3 bottled salad dressings that are promoted as healthy:

1) Annie's Organic Oil & Vinegar


*Expeller pressed vegetable oil (*canola and/or *sunflower), water, *distilled white vinegar, *balsamic vinegar, sea salt, *garlic, *basil, *black pepper, *onion, *parsley, *celery seed, *chives, xanthan gum.  *organic ingredients.

  • Good: Look at all those organic ingredients. Smile-face-emoji!
  • Bad: Expeller-pressed vegetable oil (canola and/or sunflower oil) is the first and only oil ingredient. Expeller pressing presses and squeezes oil from a seed by producing a large force on the seed. Even though this is considered a cold-process, heat is produced by the force. Expeller pressing is a common practice of many organic brands, like Annie's. 

Unstable polyunsaturated fats -- like canola oil -- oxidize (read : become damaged, turn rancid, promote inflammation) easily. 

Moral of the story: Just because it says "Organic Oil & Vinegar" dressing, look at the oil used. Stick with olive oil or avocado oil. 


2) trader joe's organic red wine & olive oil vinaigrette


Water, organic extra virgin olive oil, organic vegetable oil (organic soy, and/or organic canola oil), organic red wine vinegar, salt, organic onion, organic spices, organic garlic, organic lemon juice concentrate, organic fruit and vegetable extract (for color), xanthan gum.


  • Good: The FIRST ingredient (after water) is organic extra virgin olive oil!
  • Bad: The SECOND ingredient is organic vegetable oil. Sad-face-emoji. 

Again, vegetable oils are fragile, and are prone to oxidation. When exposed to light, heat and air, these fragile fats can be damaged or become rancid. 

How would you know if your oil is rancid? Give it the sniff test. Does the oil smell musty or sour? You may have a rancid oil. Toss it!

Moral of the story: Just because the first ingredient is olive oil, keep reading! 


3) trader joe's Fat free balsamic vinaigrette


Vinegar (red wine, balsamic, cider, white distilled), water, sugar, granulated salt, soybean oil, garlic, xanthan gum, spices, caramel color. 






  • Good: Soybean (not ideal oil) is the fifth ingredient, not the first. 
  • Bad:
    • Caramel color. Consumer Reports released a report showing foods containing caramel color can increase our risk for cancer.
    • Where are the healthy fats? We need dietary fat to absorb fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) and minerals!


3 steps to ruin a salad with DRESSING

1) Add Bad-For-You Oils

Omega-6 fatty acids promote an inflammatory response.  It’s so easy to overdo Omega-6s, even if we’re eating a healthy diet -- nuts, chicken, turkey pork are all naturally quite high in Omega-6 fats. 

 Eating too many Omega-6 fatty acids can lead to cardiovascular issues, heart disease and overall inflammation. More on Omega-6 fats here.

Omega-6 rich, inflammatory oils to avoid:

  • Canola
  • Cottonseed    
  • Corn   
  • Safflower
  • Shortenings    
  • Sunflower    
  • Soybean
  • Trans fats/Partially Hydrogenated Oil/Shortening
  • Vegetable Oil

Use healthy cold-use fats like extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil!


2) use fat-free salad dressings

Fat-free salad dressings don't include oil. 

So, sugar, artificial sweeteners and natural flavorings will likely take it's place. Healthy fats like olive oil enhance the taste of salad, and are needed for fat-soluble vitamins to be absorbed. 

If you really don't want to use oil, squeeze lemon over the top of your salad. 


3) bottled with artificial ingredients 

Flip over a bottle of Hidden Valley Ranch and you'll be greeted with monosodium glutamate (MSG), artificial flavors and xanthan gum. 

Make you own!


Make your own dressing

 Here's my master salad dressing formula -- adjust to suit your salad! 

Don't-Be-Afraid-Of-Being-Basic Basic Vinaigrette

  • 3 parts olive oil
  • 1 part acid (vinegar or lemon/lime/citrus)
  • Pinch of Dijon mustard
  • Mix of your favorite herbs/spices/garlic/salt/pepper


Make your own dressing and you'll never need to buy bottled again!

Yogurt with More Sugar Than A Pop-Tart

You're on the health bandwagon. 

You're at your local, natural food grocer. 

You're doing The. Right. Thing.  

But here you are. Gazing at 36 types of yogurt.

All immersed in fruit. All whipped in vanilla. All touting only 100 calories. 

But, wait. Why are there 4 different strawberry-vanilla whipped yogurts? Why is one made of almond milk? And another is fat-free? And the other is full fat? And you know Gwyneth Paltrow is on the Greek yogurt bandwagon -- so you should be, too. Right?

Gosh darn it, just tell me what to buy! 


don't turn the cart around just yet

Just like health bars, yogurts can come loaded with sugars, emulsifiers and goodness-knows-what.

Yet, when selected carefully, yogurt can be a protein-packed, calcium-loaded, gut-bug-loving super food. 

So, please -- don't turn the cart around just yet!


Natural sugars

While yogurt can be packed with added sugar, there are naturally-occurring sugars in yogurt called lactose. These sugars are healthy -- no need to fret about these sugars. 

Most 6-ounce servings of yogurt have between 8-12 grams of naturally-occurring, lactose-based sugar. 


Pop-tart vs. Yogurt

If your yogurt has more than 16 grams of sugar, your yogurt has more grams of sugar than a pop-tart. Rage face emoji. 

If your sweet-as-heavens-chocolate-strawberry-vanilla whipped Greek yogurt has less than 12 grams of sugar, your yogurt has artificial sweeteners added. Sad face emoji. 


Let's take a look at 4 popular yogurts:




Fat free yogurt (cultured pasteurized grade a nonfat milk, kosher gelatin, lactic acid esters of mono and diglycerides, citric acid, malic acid, yogurt cultures [l.bulgaricus, s.thermophilus], acesulfame potassium, sucralose), fruit blend (fructose, strawberry puree, water, modified corn starch, vegetable juice and beta carotene [for color], potassium sorbate added to maintain freshness, vitamin a acetate, vitamin d3), Nitrogen.



Teaspoons of sugar: 12 grams of sugar or 3 teaspoons of sugar

Added sugars: Fructose

Artificial Sweeteners: Acesulfame potassium, sucralose

Organic?: No. 

What-The? Ingredients: 

Mono and diglycerides - Food additive used as an emulsifier; may contain trans fat, but aren't required to be labeled as trans fats on food packages

Malic acid - Naturally occurring substance found in many fruits and vegetables, used for the the sour taste. 

Citric acid - Occurs naturally in fruits and vegetables, serves as a natural preservative and flavoring in foods. 

Acesulfame Potassium - No-calorie sugar substitute; 180x-200x sweeter than table sugar. 

Sucralose - No-calorie sugar substitute known as Splenda.


  • Good: I can't. Just can't. 
  • Bad: The grams of sugar is low because of the addition of artificial sweeteners. And -- nitrogen? Who wants to eat/inhale nitrogen? To top it off, it's marketed as a 100-calorie pack -- of which I am not a fan. 

2. Trader Joe's French Vanilla Nonfat Yogurt


Cultured pasteurized nonfat milk, cane sugar, natural vanilla flavor, pectin.



Teaspoons of sugar: 25 grams of sugar or 6.25 teaspoons of sugar (more sugar than a pop-tart!)

Added sugars: Cane sugar

Artificial Sweeteners: Natural vanilla flavor

Organic?: No. 

What-The? Ingredients: 

Pectin – Found in berries, apples and other fruit; a gelling agent, adds creaminess to yogurts. 

Natural Vanilla Flavor - Added flavoring, both natural and artificial, could contain anywhere from 50 to 100 ingredients. Flavorings can compensate for flavor loss during processing or act as a substitute for the real ingredient -- like in this case for real vanilla. 


  • Good: Cows are not treated with the bovine growth hormone rBST, which is injected into dairy cattle to increase milk production. 
  • Bad: Cane sugar is the added sugar; fruit would be a better option. Also, not organic or grass-fed -- whomp, whomp...

3. chobani Greek yogurt with strawberry on the bottom


Nonfat yogurt, evaporated cane juice, strawberries, water, pectin, natural flavor, locust bean gum, fruit and vegetable juice concentrate (for color).



Teaspoons of sugar: 15 grams of sugar or 3.75 teaspoons of sugar

Added sugars: Evaporated cane sugar

Artificial Sweeteners: Natural flavor

Organic?: No. 

What-The? Ingredients: 

Locust bean gum - Thickening and gelling agent; derived from the seeds of the carob tree.


  • Good: The cows are not treated with rBST -- given to dairy cattle by injection to increase milk production. It is sweetened with strawberries. 
  • Bad: Evaporated cane sugar is the added sugar; just adding the strawberries would be a better option. Also, this is only 5.3 ounces, compared to the normal 6-ounce yogurt size -- which would be a reason why the sugar content is lower. Also, not organic or grass-fed -- whomp, whomp...

4. Maple Hill Creamery Creamline Yogurt Plain


Pasteurized whole milk, live yogurt cultures. 



Teaspoons of sugar: 8 grams of sugar or 2 teaspoons of sugar

Added sugars: None.

Artificial Sweeteners: None.

Organic?: Yes. And from grass-fed cows. 

  • Good: Yogurt from 100% grass-fed cows means the cows have grazed in pasture year-round. Meat and dairy from grass-fed cows equates to higher quantities of omega-3 fats and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) (CLA can help in losing body fat, improving the immune system and increasing lean body tissue). 
  • Bad: Nothin'. Eat up!

Better-For-You Yogurt



Yogurt, especially from grass-fed cows:

  • Is good source of omega-3 fats, which helps fight inflammation and improve cardiovascular health.  
  • Contains higher quantities of conjugated linoleic acid; CLA can aid in fat loss, improve the immune system and increase lean body tissue. 
  • Contains probiotics, which can improve gut health and strengthen our immune system.


Plain, unsweetened advice

Here are a few yogurts I recommend:

When my clients ask what they should look for when they buy yogurt, here's what I tell them:

  • Skip the fruit/honey added -- just add your own if you need to
  • Buy "plain" or "unsweetened"
  • Look for "from 100% grass-fed cows" on the label. If grass-fed is not available, look for "organic"



Your Turn!

I present this topic at corporate wellness events and workshops. 

Can't attend? Download the worksheet to rate the bars you have at home!

Is This Bar Healthy? 4 Bars: Raves, Rants & Ratings

We love 'em. We're desperate for 'em. 

They're stuffed in the bottom of our purse. They're tossed in our car glove compartment.

It's the first thing we grab when we're starving. It's the last thing we grab when we want real food. 


The Good, The Bad, The Inevitable

Bars are convenient. And, they're marketed to us as such, "you barely have time to brush your teeth in the morning, don't fret -- just grab a bar!"

But here's the thing -- most bars lack real nutrition, like protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, fresh ingredients -- you know, real food

We've taken a food product that could suffice in an OMG-I'm-starving emergency, and put it into an everyday rotation -- maybe even twice a day.

I'm not saying we should never eat another bar again, but I do think it's worthwhile to take a second look at what's in these bars.

Do they have any nutritional value? Or, are marketers doing a fantastic job convincing us that we need these bars? -- That a modern day gal or gent can't go a day without these health bars?


Let's take a look at 4 popular health bars: 

1. Kind Bar – Blueberry Pecan + Fiber


Almonds, pecans, honey, blueberry pieces (blueberries, sugar, apples, plums, apple juice, vegetable glycerin, citrus pectin, sunflower oil, natural blueberry flavor), cashews, non GMO glucose, raisins, chicory root fiber, crisp rice, soy lecithin.



Teaspoons of sugar: 9 grams of sugar or 2.25 teaspoons of sugar

Added sugars: Honey, sugar, apple juice, vegetable glycerin, natural blueberry flavor, non GMO glucose

Unhealthy Oils: Sunflower oil

Healthy Oils: None

Fullness Factor:  4 grams of protein (Sad face emoji)

What-The? Ingredients: 

Soy lecithin – A byproduct of soybean oil and is used as an emulsifier – it helps to bind and keep a food product together.

Citrus pectin – Found in the peel and pulp of citrus, it’s used in jams to gel sugar together.

Chicory root fiber – Added to increase fiber content – seen in foods marketed as “high fiber”.

Natural blueberry flavor – Flavorings can compensate for flavor loss during processing or act as a substitute for the real ingredient -- like in this case for blueberries. 



  • Good: Includes almonds, pecans and cashews, which are healthy sources of fat. 
  • Bad: There are SIX different added sugars, in addition to natural fruit -- blueberries, apples, raisins. If we're trying to limit sugars to less than 50 grams per day, we're using up nearly 10 grams on a little stinkin' bar!
  • Final Thought: I'd be hungry again in an hour. 

2. Nature Valley - Crunchy Oats 'N Honey Granola Bar


Whole grain oats, sugar, canola oil, yellow corn flour, honey, soy flour, brown sugar syrup, salt, soy lecithin, baking soda, natural flavor.



Teaspoons of sugar: 11 grams of sugar or 2.75 teaspoons of sugar

Added sugars: Sugar, honey, brown sugar syrup

Unhealthy Oils: Canola oil

Healthy Oils: None

Fullness Factor: 3 grams of protein (Sad face emoji)

What-The? Ingredients: 

Soy lecithin – A byproduct of soybean oil and is used as an emulsifier – it helps to bind and keep a food product together.



  • Good: Whole grain oats? I dunno -- there's not much here to be desired. 
  • Bad: My heart sinks a bit to see sugar and canola oil listed as the 2nd and 3rd ingredients. Sugar and a highly processed oil? Hmpph. Yellow corn flour, soy flour and brown sugar syrup add zilch in the way of nutrition.
  • Final Thought: I know you can buy these by the multi-dozen at Costco, but quantity does not equal quality. 

3. Clif bar - Chocolate chip


Organic brown rice syrup, organic rolled oats, soy protein isolate, organic cane syrup, organic roasted soybeans, rice flour, dried cane syrup, organic oat fiber, unsweetened chocolate‡, organic soy flour, organic sunflower oil, organic date paste, cocoa butter‡, molasses powder, organic soybean oil, barley malt extract, salt, vanilla extract, soy lecithin, natural flavors, cinnamon.



Teaspoons of sugar: 22 grams of sugar or 5.5 teaspoons of sugar

Added sugars: Organic brown rice syrup, organic cane syrup, dried cane syrup, organic date paste,  molasses powder, barley malt extract

Unhealthy Oils: Organic sunflower oil, organic soybean oil

Healthy Oils: None

Fullness Factor: 10 grams of protein (No-emotion face emoji)

What-The? Ingredients: 

Soy protein isolate – Soy protein isolate is a dry powder that has been separated from the other components of the soybean -- read : highly processed. While protein is great, it's important to keep in mind that this is not a natural source of protein. 

Soy lecithin – A byproduct of soybean oil and is used as an emulsifier – it helps to bind and keep a food product together.


RATE MY Clif Bar : 3/10

  • Good: Many of the ingredients listed in Clif bars are organic --  catering to the organic community -- kuddos. The protein content is fairly high at 10 grams. 
  • Bad: SIX added sugars. FIVE soy sources. TWO processed oils. ONE ho-hum protein source. 
  • Final Thought: You can do better. You can do worse. 

4. think thin - chunky peanut butter


Protein blend (soy protein isolate, calcium caseinate, whey protein isolate), glycerin, coating (maltitol, cocoa butter, chocolate, sodium caseinate, milk fat, soy lecithin, natural flavors, salt), maltitol, peanuts, soy crisps (soy protein isolate, tapioca starch), water, canola oil, peanut flour, natural flavors, soy lecithin, sea salt.



Teaspoons of sugar: 0 grams of sugar, 11 grams of sugar alcohol 

Added sugar (alcohols): Glycerin, maltitol, maltitol

Unhealthy Oils: Canola oil

Healthy Oils: None

Fullness Factor: 20 grams of protein (Happy face emoji)

What-The? Ingredients: 

Maltitol, maltitol - Sugar alcohols (ending in -ol) taste sweet, but don't affect blood sugar levels. They're known to cause bloating. 

Glycerin - Like sugar alcohols, glycerin tastes sweet, but does not have the same blood sugar impact as sugar. It tastes sweet, but has calories and is not a great source of nutrition. 


RATE MY Think Thin Bar : 4/10

  • Good: Decent protein content at 20 grams. 
  • Bad: Sugar alcohols are not a good source of nutrition. Our taste buds and body expect sugar, but doesn't receive the calories it expects, which can line us up for cravings later. Sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners are both known to cause bloating. This bar lacks overall nutrition. 
  • Final Thought: My stomach hurts just writing this. 

Better-For-You Bars

Here are a few bars I recommend:


Your Turn!

Take a second look at the bars you are consuming.

Are they a nutritional drain? 

I present this topic at corporate wellness events and workshops, and investigate "healthy" foods that aren't!

Can't attend? Download the worksheet to rate the bars you have at home!



3 Steps to Eating Healthy on a Budget

We’ve all heard it  – eating healthy is just so expensive.

We may have even muttered those words to ourself while strolling the aisles of Whole Foods.

And there’s a lot of truth to it – I mean, who has $400 to blow at Whole Foods every week?


Priorities & Choices

Eating healthy with a budget comes down to 2 things:

1) Setting priorities

2) Making choices


Setting Priorities

Def. of priority : a thing that is regarded as more important than another.


Let’s compare 2 statements:

Statement Number #1 : “I can’t afford to eat healthy”

Statement Number #2 : “Eating healthy (and my health) is not a priority for me right now. Paying for rent is my priority because I don’t want to sleep under a bridge on a piece of cardboard." 

A bit extreme, yes. But, saying out loud the why behind our choice is both freeing and informative.


Extra Dimes

Now we have some money.

We are able to pay for rent, gas and lights – but we’re still saying “I can’t afford to eat healthy”.

What’s gobbling up our cash?

Here are some rabbit holes that can suck down our cash:


  • Going Out to Eat

It’s easy to drop $100 on a nice dinner for two with a few drinks and a generous tip.

If you spend $200 per week on groceries, that 1 dinner equals 3.5 days of meals or roughly 20 meals for 2 people.


  • Drink – Lattes, Kombucha, Sparkling Water

Yes, it’s the classic $4 latte a day example. But, think about those other drinks – kombucha, sparkling water, smoothies, juices – they all add up!


  • Supplements

The pill box of cash! I consider supplements to be luxury items. The cost of high-quality vitamins, minerals and probiotics add up quickly. My advice : Priority #1 = eat quality food. Priority #2 = supplements.


  • Protein Powder

Oh my gosh with the protein powder. (DELETED 3 PARAGRAPH RANT) Quality protein powder is expensive. If you're strapped for cash – eat real food. It will be cheaper. And you won’t have to listen to my rant.


  • Lifestyle choices: clothes, cable bill, electronics

Hey, I'm not knocking anyone for spending money on things they enjoy. I LOVE me some Lulus. But we must prioritize spending. 

What’s your priority? What’s important to you? We have a finite amount of money and time in this life. And we choose how to spend both.  

Are clothes, lots of cable channels and new gadgets important to you? Great, spend money on that.

Are food, a gym membership and a hiking passing important to you? Fine, spend money on those things.

We cannot spend our time and money on everything. Live with intention.


Making Choices

Let’s get practical.

1) Set a budget

I love budgeting. After college, my husband and I followed Dave Ramsey’s program to learn how to budget. We now use Mint to track our expenses.  

If you’ve never created a budget, simply start by tracking how much you spend each month in various categories (groceries, utilities, gas). When you determine how much you can spend, set a grocery budget and buy accordingly.


2) Choose Your Price

Is your budget...? 

  •  Nothing But Caviar – Budget? What budget? Food is my world.
  • I’ve Got Wiggle Room – I’m budget conscious, but have a bit of moo-la to spend.
  • Budget Maven – I’m on a super tight budget! Pinching pennies and praying at the checkout!

Pick one and shop accordingly!


3) Take a trip down the aisle


A healthy animal provides a more nutrient-dense meat, egg and dairy product.

Toxins – antibiotics and hormones -- are stored in the fat cells of animals. If you choose to buy fattier cuts, try to buy grass-fed or pasture-raised. If you can’t afford grass-fed, choose leaner cuts.

Is your budget...?

  • Nothing But Caviar: Choose grass-fed beef and dairy, fresh wild-caught fish, pasture-raised pork, chicken and eggs. These protein sources will provide the richest nutrient profile.


  • I’ve Got Wiggle Room: Choose a mix of meats -- fattier cuts of grass-fed beef, canned wild-caught salmon and leaner cuts of conventionally-raised chicken, like chicken breast. If you can afford pasture-raised eggs, buy them! Sure, a dozen eggs may be $6 per carton, but consider that your breakfast protein source for 4-6 meals.  


  • Budget Maven: Buy the leanest cuts of conventionally-raised meat because toxins are stored in the fat cells of animals. Remove the skin from chicken. Avoid cuts of pork, as pork has a high amount of Omega-6 fat. Packaged turkey slices and sausages are convenient, but pricey. Buy larger cuts on sale, cut to portion, bag and freeze for later.


Fruits & Vegetables

Is your budget...?

  • Nothing But Caviar: Buy all organic fruits and vegetables! Join a CSA and enjoy new, seasonal fruits and vegetables year around!


Produce on the clean fifteen list are the least likely to hold pesticide residue (OK to buy conventional): avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, frozen sweet peas, onions, asparagus, mangoes, papayas, kiwis, eggplant, grapefruit, cantaloupe, cauliflower and sweet potatoes.

Produce on the dirty dozen list hold the most pesticide residue (best to buy organic):  apples, peaches, nectarines, strawberries, grapes, celery, spinach, sweet bell peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas and potatoes.


  • Budget Maven: Focus on loading your shopping cart with fruits and vegetables. Skip the celery, cucumber and otherwise nutrient-poor produce in favor of nutrient-dense veggies like kale, spinach and green leafy vegetables! Buy frozen, too!

Shop your local farmer’s market. Many smaller farmers find it too expensive to obtain the “organic” label, but may grow their produce without pesticides – just ask! Shop late for negotiating power and a chance to grab a discount or buy in bulk at a discount. Some farmers would rather sell at a discount, instead of hauling the produce back home.



Is your budget...?

Buy dry-roasted, organic nuts (avoid nuts roasted in vegetable, sunflower, safflower and canola oil) and nut butter.


  • I’ve Got Wiggle Room: Buy a few quality fats -- grass-fed butter, cold-pressed olive oil and unrefined coconut oil.

Buy organic coconut milk, nuts and nut butters, when possible. When your budget allows, pick up dish-enhancers like coconut aminos, fish sauce, shredded coconut, olives and other condiments.


  • Budget Maven: Invest in quality butter, olive oil and coconut oil. Check out Trader Joe’s, Sprouts and less expensive grocers for high-quality, yet inexpensive oils and fats. Skip the pricey avocado oil and nut oils.

Nuts and nut butters are delicious, but quality nuts can be quite expensive. Make sure you’ve stocked up on the essentials – meat, eggs, vegetables, fruit and oils before spending your cash on nuts.


Yes, eating healthy takes effort. And planning. And is more expensive than a burger and coke at McD’s.

But doctor appointments and blood pressure medication are expensive, too.

Here’s the best part – you have a choice and you have options – whether your budget is to the moon and back, or can barely make it out the driveway – you can choose to eat healthy.

5 Reasons Why Going Gluten-Free Kept Me Puffy

In 2012, I went gluten-free.

I tossed out every slice of bread, every crumb of cookie and even went so far as to throw out my healthy granola.

I grinned a mile-wide and waited for rays of health to beam down on me. 

And then I went to Whole Foods.

I stocked up on gluten-free bread, cookies and granola – replacing every single food item that I just tossed in the trash.

What goes missing must be replaced, right?


But here’s the thing. I didn’t feel better. The rays of health didn’t beam down on my head. I didn’t lose weight. My headaches were still there. My digestion was still a mess.

This gluten-free this is a crock!



Why Do People Go Gluten-Free?

Put simply, to do away with “junk” – cookies, breads, muffins, crackers, desserts – to lose weight, to reduce inflammation, to not have achy joints, to sleep better and to not be a slave to sugar.

We can all agree that highly processed foods, artificial sweeteners and rampant amounts of sugar are not helping our waistline or health.

And many gluten-filled foods check all 3 of those boxes – they’re highly processed, doused with artificial sweeteners and contain lots of sugar!


SAVVY Marketers

Food companies are geniuses – they’ve created a whole line of products just for us!

You don’t really have to throw out those cookies – here are some gluten-free ones, instead!



5 Reasons Why Going Gluten-Free Kept Me Puffy  


1) Filling up on nutrient-poor food

I was buying gluten-free foods in the health food aisle, thus I was eating healthy, therefore I was healthy. *go me!* Err, maybe not. 

Gluten-free products are typically made from a non-gluten grain base, such as rice, corn, potatoes, sorghum, tapioca or millet.

Let’s be clear -- these are not nutrient-dense foods. And neither is wheat, rye, oats or barley.

These grains provide carbohydrate, but not much in the way of nutrients compared to fruits, vegetables and quality meats and eggs.  


2) Back on the blood sugar roller coaster

I was back on the dreaded crave-then-binge-sugar-cycle. 

When we eliminate cookies, breads, muffins, crackers and desserts, we quickly regulate blood sugar and are able to step off the blood sugar roller coaster.  

But savvy companies and marketing teams make it easy to replace these treats with sugar-filled gluten-free varieties, and now we’re back on the coaster.  


3) Artificial Ingredients

The bane of our existence – artificial colors, sweeteners, unhealthy oils, gums -- oh my!

Flip over just about any boxed item and you’ll be bombarded with ingredients fit for a college-level science class. Not to mention that 80% of packaged items have added sugar!

This holds true for both gluten-free and gluten-containing packaged food items. Just because it’s sitting in the health food aisle and is labeled 'gluten-free', doesn’t mean it’s doing us any good!

But, let's not write off all companies -- Canyon Bakehouse, for example -- produces quality gluten-free breads. Their bread is made with extra virgin olive oil (not canola), organic agave syrup (not corn syrup) and is absent of artificial sweeteners. 


4) Justify more

*Me eating donut hole* "Don't worry, it's gluten-free, have 3!"

Calories do matter. If we’re filling up on gluten-free foods and are justifying eating more because “they’re gluten-free” – we have a math problem.

More gluten-free treats = more calories = more inflammation, less weight loss, more blood sugar issues.


5) Feel Restricted

Are you a moderator or an abstainer?  Gretchen Ruben is my favorite habit guru. She explains the difference between a moderator and an abstainer, and how knowing yourself can help you form better habits.

  • Moderators like to be able to have a little treat every now and then. They don’t like feeling deprived.
  • Abstainers are an all or nothing personality. They either want none of something, or all of something.

Box of cookies analogy : Moderators can have 1 cookie each day for 1 month. Abstainers eat the whole box on day 1.

If a moderator feels restricted on a gluten-free diet, they may have a tough time finding balance.

Oppositely, an abstainer may enjoy the freedom through restriction that comes from eliminating gluten and gluten-free processed foods.

Know thyself.


Finding Balance

 Download So You Wanna Go Gluten-Free!

Download So You Wanna Go Gluten-Free!

If you have Celiac disease or have a gluten intolerance, eliminating gluten is a must.

I feel better without gluten. I can tolerate some by accident or a meal out – my digestion may suffer, my face may break out, and I usually get a headache. Clearly not ideal, but not a life or death situation.

As a long term solution, I say let's “eat real food”.

And everyone’s definition of “eating real food” is different.


Finding Your “Real Food”

For some people, especially those with autoimmune conditions, consuming either gluten or non-gluten grains causes inflammation in the form of achy joints, headaches and digestive issues.

For some people, non-gluten grains like rice, oatmeal and quinoa are tolerated and don’t cause gluten-free binges.

Just about everyone can benefit from replacing gluten- or non-gluten sugar-laden treats with fruit.

Or, when a hankering for bread hits, incorporate starchy vegetables like a sweet potato or butternut squash. These vegetables contain more nutrients than a gluten-free pastry or bread.

If you’re eating your definition of “real food”, a cookie (GF or not) won’t break the bank.  But, don't fool yourself (like I did!) into thinking gluten-free substitutes are keeping you healthy!

Why Do Nuts Make My Stomach Hurt?

You started eating healthy.

Your breakfast is an egg and a kale smoothie.

Your lunch is a chicken salad with organic greens.

Your snack is a Greek yogurt and a handful of nuts.

But, wait – after eating that almond and cashew mix your stomach begins to rumble.

This healthy eating thing is supposed to make me feel good! That $200 I spent at Whole Foods shouldn’t make me hunch over in pain!

I can relate. I have skin breakouts and gut troubles when eating certain nuts, like walnuts. And this is not uncommon. Many people who partake in an elimination diet realize they feel better after eliminating certain foods, like nuts and seeds. I think the more common elimination ah-ha moments are grains and dairy. That said – nuts can be pesky, too!

So, what’s the deal? Why, for some of us, does our stomach rumble after eating nuts?


Science 101 – Phytic Acid

Buckle up for some science! Nuts have a compound called phytic acid. Also called phytates.

Phytic acid is like a magnet for minerals.

Let’s say we’ve eaten a mineral-rich salad with nuts on top. If the nuts are raw (raw nuts contain more phytic acid – more on that in a sec), the phytic acid in the nuts can grab on to some minerals present in the digestive tract – typically calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium and zinc - and not allow those minerals to be absorbed by the gut.

Phytic acid is sometimes referred to as an ‘antinutrient’ because it interferes with the absorption of nutrients – it’s against the nutrients.

On top of stealing minerals, phytic acid can limit the secretion of digestive enzymes, including trypsin which breaks down protein, and amylase which breaks down starches.


Reducing the Phytic Acid Load

As pointed out in this Weston A. Price article, traditional cultures soaked their nuts as part of the preparation process:

“It is instructive to look at Native American preparation techniques for the hickory nut, which they used for oils. To extract the oil they parched the nuts until they cracked to pieces and then pounded them until they were as fine as coffee grounds. They were then put into boiling water and boiled for an hour or longer, until they cooked down to a kind of soup from which the oil was strained out through a cloth. The rest was thrown away. The oil could be used at once or poured into a vessel where it would keep a long time.
By contrast, the Indians of California consumed acorn meal after a long period of soaking and rinsing, then pounding and cooking. Nuts and seeds in Central America were prepared by salt water soaking and dehydration in the sun, after which they were ground and cooked.”

By soaking, then dehydrating or roasting the nut, some of the phytic acid breaks down and reduces some of the mineral-stealing action.

Maybe these traditional cultures were on to something. And anecdotally, many people find after soaking and roasting nuts, they can digest nuts with ease!



We can't forget to mention that nuts are fairly high in Omega-6 fats – most especially walnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, pine nuts and pecans. 

Omega-6 fats are the pro-inflammatory fats. We do need some Omega-6 fatty acids. If we get banged up, or get a cut, we need to be able to mount an inflammatory response. But it’s so easy to overdo Omega-6s, even if we’re eating a healthy diet.


Getting to the nut of it

Many people experience digestive distress – stomach aches, bloating, digestive issues - when consuming nuts. If that’s you, here are some way to tackle your tummy nut troubles:

1) Reduce the amount of nuts you eat

With the abundance of nut butter, trail mixes, nut flours, nut-based cookies, desserts and treats, it’s easy to overdo it on nuts. Plus, nuts are very convenient!  

Almond, walnuts and hazelnuts have a large phytic acid load.

If you’re eating a lot of almonds – which many people eating a healthy diet do – think about reducing the number of almonds you eat on a daily basis.

Also, some health food stores carry raw, sprouted nut butters -- worth a shot!


2) Try soaking and roasting

Recall that by soaking, then dehydrating or roasting the nut, some of the phytic acid breaks down and reduces some of the mineral-stealing action.

  • Place nuts and 1 tablespoon of salt into a glass or ceramic bowl.
  • Soak nuts for 6-8 hours.
  • Drain water.
  • Spread nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  • Dehydrate in oven at 150-200 F for 12-24 hours, turning once or twice.
  • Let cool and store in an airtight container.


3) Looking at the rest of your plate

Grains, nuts, seeds and beans have phytic acid. If you’re eating a lot of nuts, along with a large quantity of, say -- brown rice, chickpeas and chia seeds – your gut lining could be irritated by the excessive phytates and contribute to leaky gut

If your stomach is constantly in knots, you may want to try an elimination diet. An elimination diet will shine a light on that pesky knot-inducing culprit by eliminating common gut irritants like artificial sweeteners, gluten-containing grains, dairy and legumes.  When you reintroduce the culprit, your stomach will churn, and you’ll have an elimination winner on your hands. 


Nuts can be a healthy source of fat and a rich-source of minerals. However, if you're experiencing digestive issues, try soaking and roasting your nuts for (hopefully) improved digestion!

4 Ways to Get Happy in 10 Minutes or Less

Happiness impacts our health. And our health impacts our happiness. It’s the chicken or the egg. Which comes first?


Happiness Formula

Lucky for us, a big chunk of the happiness pie is controlled by us.

Yep, roughly 40% of our happiness is controlled by our actions, thoughts and behaviors.

Our genes determine 50% of our happiness – depression, anxiety or having an optimistic-by-nature personality can be partially contributed to our genes.

Lastly, and personally surprising, only 10% of happiness formula is determined by circumstances. Whether we’re diagnosed with an illness or hit the genetic lottery, a rather small percentage of our happiness depends on the circumstances around us.

We adapt. We adjust to circumstances over time.

As cliché as it is, happiness is more about a state of mind, and less about a pile of cash and a creamy complexion.


1 + 1 = Happy

Happiness is how satisfied you are with your life.

Happiness is how good you feel on a day-to-day basis.


Happy is Healthy

Happy people are healthy people.

Happy people have lower heart rates, blood pressure and lower rates of cardiovascular disease.

Happy people are less likely to have long-term health conditions, like cancer and chronic pain.

Happy people have lower levels of cortisol and stress.

Happy people have less aches and pains and heal faster.


Happy is Less Stuffy

According to 30 studies, happy people are less likely to get sick.

Happy people recover faster when sick.

In a study of law students, happiest people produced more antibodies to battle a foreign invader. And as their optimism increased, immune function increased, too.


Happiness Myths

Happiness Myth #1

Happiness is NOT feeling good all the time.

Like a roller coaster, what comes up must come down. Research suggests that an even-keeled mood is healthier than highs and lows. What makes people happy is less about feeling good all the time, and more about meaning – whether that’s a relationship, career or a spiritual practice.


Happiness Myth #2

Happiness is NOT being rich or affording everything you want.

Making more money does make us happier, to an extent. A Princeton University study found that once your salary hits $75,000, making more money won't have much of an effect on your day-to-day happiness. When we get raises or make more money, in time, we adapt to the new increased budget and our happiness levels again.


 Happiness Myth #3

Happiness is NOT a final destination.

Getting a promotion, getting married – the excitement of milestones fade. Happiness is practiced day-to-day.


What is Happiness, anyway?

Happiness is Gratitude

Showing gratitude, whether it’s writing in a journal or telling someone you appreciate them, can increase happiness levels by 25%.

In this study, people who practiced gratitude by writing down 3 good things that happened to them each day for 1 week:

  • Felt happier and less depressed for up to 6 months

  • Reported better sleep quality

  • Were more likely to engage in healthy behaviors like exercise


Happiness is Relationships

Having regular contact with 10 or more friends significantly increases your happiness.

Also, when people spend 6-7 hours with friends or family, they’re 12x more likely to report being happy. Think about how happy we are on the weekend!

Spend money on experiences rather than things. A fancy new watch fades. But people are always changing. New coffee shops, new restaurants – experiences will always be different!


Happiness is Meaning

People of all ages report being happier when they have meaning in their life. Whether it’s a career, spiritual practice, raising children or centering yourself around core values, meaning can be defined in many ways.


Happiness is Positivity & Optimism

Whether it’s diabetes, cancer or pain, studies show that an optimistic outlook help people more effectively deal with illness and disease.

Having the belief that you can develop and grow into a different person can unlock your happiness potential. To the contrary, having a mindset that you are fixed – that your qualities and talents can never change – is binding and suffocating.


Imagine you are trying to work out and eating healthier.

You could say : “I slept in 3 days this week, I'm so lazy, I’m never going to get in shape.”

Or, you could say : “I got up early 2 days this week to exercise,  I’m doing a great job!”

You could say : “I didn’t pack my lunch 2 days this week. I can never do anything right.”

Or, you could say : “I packed a healthy lunch 3 days this week! Keep it up!”

See how much better you feel just reading the 2nd option!


Happiness Killers

  • Comparison: Comparison is the thief of joy. When we compare what we have to someone who we perceive has more, we feel bad. Guilty. Angry. Resentful.

  • Lack of close relationships: We’re social animals. We are meant to have close relationships where we can confide and feel supported.

  • Holding onto resentment: Let it go. Seriously. Holding onto past done-me-wrongs will only fester.


Happiness in 10 Minutes or Less

 Download Find Your Happy Worksheet!

Download Find Your Happy Worksheet!

  1. Practice Relationships : Brighten a friend’s day -- bring them flowers or a cup of coffee
  2. Practice Gratitude : Send an email or text -- thank someone or let them know you’re thinking about them
  3. Practice Meaning : Have a meaningful conversation with your sibling or spend 10 minutes truly focusing and playing with your child
  4. Practice Positivity & Optimism : Recall a delightful vacation and think about your next one planned



Happiness is controlled largely by us. And if we're serious about our health, we've got to get serious about our happy.

Now, go write that thank you note!



5 Steps to Better Bone Health

Bone density and bone health can leave a lot of us feeling worried and scared -- no one wants to think about breaking a hip or fracturing a bone when we're over the hill.

Many of us have low bone density which can lead to bone health issues down the road.

Studies suggest that 50% of women and 25% of men over the age 50 will break a bone due to low bone density!

Unfortunately, bone formation happens when we're young -- during the time when we're thinking less about bone health and thinking more about diet sodas, Twizzlers and Twinkies. For females, the skeleton matures by age 20, for males by 23. (Bauman, 2014)

So, you may be thinking -- there's nothing I can do, my bones and formed, and it's all downhill from here. But, there's plenty we can do after our twenties to maintain the bone we have!

It may come as a shocker, but calcium is not the magic bone-growth pill or slice of strong-bone cheese that we may think. Sure, calcium plays a role in the bone formation matrix, but specific vitamin and minerals, gut health and exercise play large roles in bone health, too!


How much calcium do we need?

The amount of calcium we need to thrive is a bit controversial. The government recommends 1,000 to 1,200 mg. daily for adults. However, some suggest we only need 600-800 mg. daily. Aiming for an intake between 700-900 mg. seems like a good place to start.


1. Calcium Food Sources

Many people (including myself) have an intolerance to dairy. And this can be frightening -- the idea that the only food that will maintain our bone strength is the one that causes my stomach to cramp and my face to break out in acne!

Fear not -- there are plenty of non-dairy calcium sources that provide a good dose of bone-strengthening calcium.

Non-dairy calcium food sources

  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds (351 mg.)
  • 3.75 oz. sardines with bones (351 mg.)
  • 1 cup collard greens (268 mg.)
  • 1 cup of spinach (245 mg.)
  • 3 oz. canned sockeye salmon with bones (188 mg.)
  • 2 oz. almonds (150 mg.)
  • 1 cup of kale (94 mg.)
  • 1 cup of cabbage (63 mg.)
  • 1 cup of broccoli (62 mg.)
  • 1 cup of Brussels sprouts (56 mg.)

An extensive list of the calcium content of foods is available online from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Dairy calcium food sources

  • 8 oz. yogurt, plain, low-fat (415 mg.)
  • 1 cup skim milk (306 mg.)
  • 1.5 oz. cheddar cheese (303 mg.)
  • 8 oz yogurt, plain, whole milk (275 mg.)


2. Absorption

"We are what we absorb".

If we eat the recommended allotment of calcium from foods, but have an unhealthy gut lining due to inflammation and exposure to gut irritants, we can lose the ability to absorb calcium.

If gut health is essential to absorb calcium, how do we improve gut health?

  • Remove inflammatory foods  - sugar (artificial and natural), processed foods, gluten, non-gluten grains (including corn, soy), dairy, alcohol, NSAIDS and  antibiotics
  • Replace for proper digestion - eat anti-inflammatory foods (meats, vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, fermented foods) and drink mineral-rich bone broth.

Have Celiac disease? One of the first symptoms of celiac disease is a decrease in bone density. The irritation to the gut lining from gluten can cause the small intestine gut lining to become compromised, leading to decreased absorption of nutrients like calcium.


3. Cofactors – Magnesium and Vitamin A, D and K2

Calcium must hold hands with other vitamins and minerals to absorb calcium into the bones.

Magnesium and calcium are synergistic minerals — the intake of magnesium is essential to absorb and store calcium in bones. If you choose to take a calcium supplement, you must choose one with magnesium! A chelated form of magnesium is most absorbed — magnesium glycinate (chelated with amino acid glycine), magnesium taurate (chelated with amino acid taurine). A good ratio is 1.5 Ca:1 Mg (600 mg Ca:400 mg Mg). Food sources of magnesium include nuts and green, leafy vegetables.

Vitamin A is essential for calcium absorption. The most potent food sources are liver, eggs and butter!

Vitamin D is best absorbed through sunshine. Not sure if you’re getting outside enough? The most popular assessment of Vitamin D is a serum test of calcidiol, or 25-hydroxyvitamin D. The Vitamin D council indicates a desirable range serum level to be 40 – 80 ng/mL.

Vitamin K2 is readily found in foods like butter, liver, egg yolk, cheeses and natto.

If you need to supplement, here’s a calcium supplement to consider.


4. Collagen

Collagen makes up to 90% of bone mass.

Consuming collagen internally can improve bone metabolism and bone formation. Collagen can also help with joint pain. I recommend Vital Proteins 100% grass-fed collagen peptide powder. 


5. Exercise

Get out and move under load. Lift weights, do squats, move your body under tension. If you don’t use it, you lose it — bone mass included!

3 Superfoods for Pregnancy & Fertility

Oh, babies! And pregnancy. What a great time to fuel our body to bring a new human into the world!

The best time to begin thinking about pregnancy nutrition is before you conceive. But really – any time is better than not thinking about it at all. 

So, let's talk about foods to include in your pre-pregnancy and pregnancy nutrition plan. Please talk with your doctor about any changes you plan to make to your nutrition and supplement protocol.  


3 fertility and pregnancy foods:

Egg yolks

Choline – Egg yolks contain choline. Choline helps protect against spinal cord and brain defects and assists in brain development.

Serving suggestion : 2-3 eggs per day

Choline can also be obtained from beef, seafood and cruciferous vegetables.


Cold-water, fatty fish (preferably wild-caught)

Omega-3 fats (DHA/EPA)DHA helps in brain development during pregnancy and the first two years of infancy.

Serving suggestion : fresh seafood (wild salmon, canned salmon, sardines, shellfish) 2-4 times per week

DHA/EPA can also be obtained from grass-fed beef.


Grass-fed dairy

Healthy fatsDairy is a healthy source of saturated fat and a rich source of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, K2 & E).

Healthy fats can also be obtained from butter, nuts, coconut oil and quality meats.

Probiotics – Fermented products – like yogurt and kefir are great sources of beneficial bacteria, which is important because a baby’s first exposure to bacteria is in the mother’s birth canal.

Serving suggestion : As tolerated, 1-3 servings per day

Probiotics can also be found in fermented vegetables like sauerkraut.


General nutrition


Adequate protein consumption is important for the growth of a baby and to maintain adequate energy levels for the mother. Some women report less morning sickness when they consume more protein.

As a starting point, aim to eat 30% of total calories from protein.

Protein sources include : beef, bone broth, chicken, cottage cheese, eggs, yogurt, salmon, turkey



Consuming fat from healthy sources is essential for a fetus’ organ and brain development.

Fat sources include : avocado oil, butter, coconut oil and milk, eggs, nuts and seeds, olives, olive oil



Carbohydrates help maintain energy for the mother and aid in a baby’s growth. Vegetables and fruits are full of vitamins, minerals and water – all essential for development.

Carb sources include : fruit, oatmeal, quinoa, rice, squash, sweet potatoes, vegetables



Hydration becomes important as blood volume increases during pregnancy. Aim to drink at least ½ of your body weight in ounces of water.


Supplements to consider:

Work with your doctor on specific supplementation!

Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays a role in lung development, and protects the newborn from tetany, convulsions and heart failure. Vitamin D needs vary, and getting your levels checked is a good method to determine if you need additional supplementation.



A baby is born with a sterile gut and depends on the gut bacteria of its mother. A high-quality probiotic can help produce a healthy gut flora, alongside fermented foods and beverages.



Known for prevention against spina bifida, folate is an important supplement. The current recommendation is 400 micrograms; however, some doctors recommend a higher dosage. Folate is water soluble, so excess will be excreted through urine.


Now, one of the most important things to do is to not stress over this. If you have morning sickness, food aversions or just don't feel like eating seafood, don't feel guilty about it. Do the best you can, be happy, eat food that feels best to you and enjoy this time!


Helpful Fertility Resources:

Chris Kresser’s  course, Wellness Mama, Weston A. Price, Chris Kresser

2 Natural Electrolytes Food Sources

Electrolytes - We Are What We Absorb

Like any other nutrient, our body only obtains what it absorbs. We could eat all the kale in the world, but if we're not absorbing nutrients in kale, we're just eating kale. 

Electrolytes help our body absorb water.


Drink Your Water

It's the first piece of nutrition advice we hear.

Drink enough water!

You may not be hungry, you may just be thirsty!


Does A Body Good

By weight, the human body is over 50% water (1):

  • Cartilage in our joints and tissues are 85% water
  • Cells are 90% water
  • Blood is 92% water
  • Brain and muscles are 75% water

Water is a workhorse -- from transporting nutrients to removing toxins to curbing hunger.

We know water is important. We buy big jugs of water and guzzle it down.

But, what if we're not absorbing this water?

What if we're just peeing it out?


What are Electrolytes?

Electrolytes help our body to actually absorb water.

Types of electrolytes include:

  • Sodium
  • Potassium
  • Chloride
  • Calcium
  • Phosphate

Electrolytes are mineral salts. Electrolytes ionize (non-science read : become a charged molecule) when dissolved in liquid.

The positive ions of the salt surround the negative ions of the water molecule. It creates a new structure with an electrical charge that is more absorbable for the body. (2)

Which basically means, electrolytes allow us to transmit nerve impulses, including the contraction or relaxation of muscles.

Each time your heart beats, an electrical impulse is allowing that action to occur.

Whew, good thing we have electrolytes!


When We Need Extra Electrolytes

When do we need a punch of extra electrolytes?

  • Sweating a lot

If you're intensely exercising, working outside or in a hot warehouse or living in a hot climate, you will be losing electrolytes.

  •  Flu or sickness

If you have the stomach flu, or are having trouble keeping food down, you body may become depleted of minerals, including electrolytes.

  • Low-carb diet

If you begin to follow a low-carb diet, you may experience a diuretic effect, which includes water loss and loss of electrolytes. (3)


Natural Electrolyte Sources

1. Salt

The most simple electrolyte is pure, unrefined salt.

Try Real Salt mined from an ancient sea bed in Redmond, Utah, or Himalayan pink salt mined from ancient sea beds in Pakistan, or Celtic Sea Salt harvested off the shores of France.

Remember all that sweat? Well, that sweat is made up of a lot of water, sodium and chloride. Unprocessed salt replenishes electrolytes lost through sweat.

In Redmond's Real Salt , the mineral content breaks down like this:

  • Chloride (60%)
  • Sodium (37.9%)
  • Calcium
  • Sulfur
  • Silicon
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium

Simple salt adds:

 Try avoiding table salt. It's heavily processed and void of those essential trace minerals.


 2. Fresh coconut water

Coconut water is a rich, natural source of electrolytes and can be used to recover from strenuous exercise or sickness. Often called Nature's Gatorade, coconut water can help boost electrolyte and water absorption. When purchasing coconut water, be cautious of added sugars and funky ingredients.

Whether you're a hard-charging athlete, or just looking to absorb more water per sip, look to obtain electrolytes from natural sources!

6 Different Labels for Eggs: Which One is the Best?

Eggs : All Cracked Up?

Just within the past few decades, eggs have been demonized as having too much cholesterol.

You know the story – you’re eating too much cholesterol, you’re going to clog your arteries. 

But, wait one second there. We know dietary cholesterol is not to blame!

In fact, studies have shown that eating 2-4 eggs per day have very little impact on blood cholesterol levels in most people. (1)

Yep, that’s right. Dietary cholesterol does not influence cholesterol levels in our blood. The body tightly regulates our cholesterol in the blood.

Our body knows when to put the brakes on production, and when to ramp up production in the liver.


Nutrition Bombs

So, now that we've been given a pass to fry up some eggs -- what makes eggs so great, anyway?

1 egg contains (2):

  • 200 milligrams of cholesterol – every cell in our body needs it!
  • All 9 essential amino acids
  • Fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K
  • Water-soluble B vitamins
  • Iron, phosphorus, selenium
  • Choline – essential for brain health by providing neurotransmitter production, and helps prevent cholesterol from sticking to our arteries. That’s right, eggs could improve heart health!


Living Conditions & Feed Affect Nutrition Value

Compared to eggs from conventionally-raised chickens, eggs from pasture-raised chickens contain (3,4,5):

  • 2/3 more Vitamin A, 7x more beta-carotene – immune and vision health
  • 3x more Vitamin E –cell and antioxidant health
  • 2x more Omega-3 – anti-inflammatory and heart health
  • 3-6x more Vitamin D – cell and metabolism health
  • More folate and B12 – energy and cell metabolism


Why the Nutritional Difference?

Conventionally-raised chickens generally live in cramped cages or henhouses. They are not given access to sun, fresh air, or peck-worthy insects. They’re fed grain, and are sometimes given antibiotics and hormones. Not a fun, happy, healthy life for a chicky.  

Pasture-raised chickens are free to roam outside in the sun, peck at bugs, insects, plants and are given some commercial feed. They have indoor protection to nest, but otherwise enjoy the outside life. Sounds great, right?!

It’s no wondering these healthy birds hatch healthy eggs. As with cows, happy, healthy chickens provide healthy eggs, so we can be healthy and happy, too!


Labels -- What's the difference?

Navigating the egg section of the grocery store can be tricky. Omega-3 enriched? Organic? Cage-Free? What does it all mean?


Conventional Eggs

Living Condition: Inside an overfilled henhouse or cage.

Feed: Grain-based feed. May be treated with antibiotics and hormones.'



Omega-3 Enriched/Vegetarian-Fed Eggs

Living Condition: Does not indicate living conditions. Chickens could be conventionally raised.

Feed: Grain-based, vegetarian feed. If labeled Omega-3 enriched, could be supplemented with flaxseed. But flaxseed is not a great source of Omega-3s, anyway.

Note: Chickens naturally eat insects, bugs and other critters, so this is not mimicking their natural state.


Organic Eggs

Living Condition: Limited access to the outdoors.

Feed: Not treated with antibiotics or hormones. Received organic feed.


Cage-Free Eggs

Living Condition: Could live in overcrowded henhouses without a cage.

Feed: Unknown, unless indicated on the label. Most likely conventionally fed, if not indicated on the label.



Living Condition: Access to the outdoors 51 percent of their lives. Whether they choose to go outside or not, is unknown.

Feed: Unknown, unless indicated on the label. Most likely conventionally fed, if not indicated on the label.


Pastured Eggs

Living Condition: Roam free outside, given inside protection to nest.

Feed: Forage for insects, plants and commercial feed.


The most nutrient-rich eggs will be eggs from local, pasture-raised chickens.

Find a local farmer to find pasture-raised eggs.  Can’t find pasture-raised eggs, or can’t afford the heftier price tag? Don’t sweat it. Do the best you can! Eggs of all variety are a great source of fat, protein, vitamins and minerals!

Healthy, happy chickens keep us healthy and happy, too!