Category Archives: wellness

20 Shades of Green


Whether you are trying to spice things up in the bedroom, “50 shades of grey style”,  or on your plate…variety is key. “Defining Powerhouse Fruits and Vegetables(PFV):A Nutrient Density Approach” published by the CDC,, classifies and attempts to define PFV’s based on 17 nutrients associated with health (potassium, fiber, protein, calcium, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, zinc, and vitamins  A, B6, B12, C, D, E, and K).

Fifty percent of  the 41 foods that attain “powerhouse” status were green. Even iceberg lettuce made the cut. They are listed here in order of highest nutrient density score based on CDC criteria:

1.    Watercress
2.    Chinese cabbage
3.    Chard
4.    Beet green
5.    Spinach
6.    Chicory
7.    Leaf lettuce
8.    Parsley
9.    Romaine lettuce
10. Collard green
11. Turnip green
12. Mustard green
13. Endive
14. Chive
15. Kale
16. Dandelion green
17. Arugula
18. Broccoli
19. Brussels sprout
20. Kohlrabi
21. Cabbage
22. Iceberg lettuce 

No need to eat the same boring green on a daily basis. Don’t get stuck in a salad rut.  Each shade of green vegetable has different, tastes, textures and nutrients that will add a little eroticism to a monotonous meal plan.

Feed your body 20 shades of green, taste the difference, nourish your body. Get the boring salad out of your meals; bring in satisfaction from taste and necessary nutrients from eating green goodness. Here’s a kick-start list to the top 5 “Powerhouse” greens to get you going.

1. Watercress

In the 19th century watercress was known as “poor man’s bread” because it was free and  ” bunches were often rolled into a cone and eaten as an on-the-go breakfast sandwich, “ Now  there’s a new breakfast idea!

Eating watercress supplies Vitamins A, C and K and beta-carotene. Phenylethyl isothiocyanate (PEITC) is another nutrient found in watercress linked to significant anticancer properties. PEITC may starve tumor growth by “turning off “a signal in the body effecting blood and oxygen supply.

Results from a randomized, crossover trial where 1½ cups of fresh watercress was consumed daily for eight weeks showed a 10% reduction in triglyceride levels, a significant blood increase in the antioxidants lutein and beta carotene resulting in a lowered incidence of cataracts and macular degeneration.

Shades of Green Recipe Pick:

Watercress-Buttermilk Soup


1 medium leek

2 tablespoons butter

1 garlic clove, minced

6 cups organic chicken or vegetable broth

1 (5-oz.) package fresh baby spinach

2 (4-oz.) packages watercress (about 16 loosely packed cups)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

Pinch of ground red pepper

2 cups whole buttermilk

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Garnishes: buttermilk, watercress sprigs, chopped fresh chives


  1. Remove and discard root end and dark green top of leek. Cut in half lengthwise, and rinse under cold running water to remove grit and sand. Thinly slice leek.
  2. Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat; add leek, and sauté 8 to 10 minutes or until tender. Add garlic, and sauté 1 minute.
  3. Add broth; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes or until potato is tender. Remove from heat, and add spinach and next 4 ingredients, stirring until spinach is wilted.
  4. Puree soup with a blender until smooth; pour into a large bowl. Whisk in buttermilk and lemon juice; add salt and pepper to taste. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

 2. Chinese “Nappa” cabbage or bok choy

Loaded with minerals like calcium (containing almost as much as in a glass of milk), iron and potassium, Chinese cabbage contains manganese an important co-factor helping to boost antioxidant activity (specifically for superoxide dismutase [SOD]) and other cancer fighting enzymes (myrosinase)  and nutrients like indoles. When it comes to cabbage steaming is the best cooking method because microwaving can damage the enzymes and reduce the health benefits. Half of this green’s carbs come from fiber and we know why fiber is important.

Shades of Green Recipe picks:

” 8 Things to do with Napa cabbage”

“Slow Cooker Low Carb Cabbage Roll Stew”

3. Chard

If they eat it in the Mediterranean, its’ got to be good!  Well it is a powerhouse when it comes to good health. It’s packed with vitamins/minerals. But, more importantly, phytonutrients (lutein and zeaxanthin)  in this green protect your eyes. Anthocyanins and pigments called betalain work to support liver detox via glutathione, prevent inflammation and help slow the aging process,  Studies show people with higher anthocyanin levels had better blood sugar control and less insulin resistance.

Shades of Green Recipe pick: “Eggs Nested in Sautéed Chard and Mushrooms”

4. Beet greens

Beet greens are the greens found atop of beets. They can be traced back to ancient Asia and North Africa as far back as 2000 B.C. They are similar in nutritional value to chard but the unique health contribution from beet greens are the B-complex vitamins contributing to metabolism and betaine helping to reduce plaque build-up in arteries and lower homocysteine levels. This shade of green also contains more iron than spinach!  Iron helps transport oxygen in the blood and involved with energy levels.

Shades of Green Recipe pick: “Wilted Beet Greens with Goat Cheese and Toasted Pine Nuts”

5. Spinach

Spinach may have originated in Persia and then made its way to China, Nepal, Spain, Italy and the rest of Europe. The U.S. is now one of the largest producers of spinach worldwide.

It seems spinach has long been touted for a heaping of health benefits with the comprehensive list of nutrients this green contains. Magnesium may play a part in its ability to help lower blood pressure but there are nutrients like thylakoids that may act as an appetite suppressant that can help with weight loss.

A recent study found women who drank a mixture containing thylakoids before breakfast lost 5.5 pounds more than the placebo group over the course of three months.

Other nutrients in spinach called “glycoglycerolipids” are fat-related molecules in membranes can help reduce inflammation in the digestive tract and carotenoids called epoxyxanthophylls (neoxanthin and violaxanthin) in spinach that specifically help protect against prostate cancer.

Shades of Green Recipe pick: “Easy Spinach Casserole”

On  a personal note, one of my favorite shades of green is Kale. I love kale chips, so I am sharing this “extra” shade of green recipe with you,

So you see not all shades of green are created equal. Certainly you can minimize the fizzle and quick start the sizzle by adding 20 shades of green to your diet.


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Don’t Get “Scrooged”, Get Happy For The Holidays!


Christmas at Rockefeller Center, located in New York City, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The holiday season is upon us, Christmas and New Years are here! Family gatherings and social events create more responsibilities and pressures. Holiday cheer this time of year? Absolutely!

But, the holidays also create stress and unrealistic expectations that can put a damper on things. There are many people who enjoy the season but there is a reality  of the extra task of buying gifts, hosting the traditional celebration, stressing about finances, job security, and other pressures from various sources.

Holiday occasions should be like a breath of fresh air. Do not let outside worries or circumstances interfere with one day or a few hours of joy. It is meant for you to stop and allow yourself to feel love, happiness, hope and goodness, no matter what.

If things are starting to get out of control, think about the big picture. Holidays are not forever. “What are your expectations during the holiday season?” “What are your expectations for family, friends or your job?” “Can you use this time to relax and enjoy the ones you love most?” These are loaded questions. Take time to really think about the answers and bring yourself to a good place.

Why are these questions important? Because expectations can mess with your mood and your happiness. Do not let negativity cloud your judgment. Keep your thoughts clear.  Focus on yourself: your health, your weight goals and most importantly your happiness.

If you think the holiday will be picture perfect, you know just like on T.V. , the food, the people, the gifts….think again. Don’t get blindsided by circumstance. There is often a person or event that will bring you down before you have a chance to take your next breath. Your expectations can be a huge factor for your sanity, wellness and even your weight.

An “expectation” is a belief about what might happen in the future. Keep in mind that while it is impossible to predict what will happen in the future, you can use past holidays  to gauge what is likely to happen based on previous years.  If there are things that have happened in the past, certain people or situations that have “scrooged”you out of everything including a happy holiday, just DO NOT let it get to you this year.

Know it is likely going to happen again and plan how you are going to avoid any aggravation that comes your way. Set realistic expectations knowing that the only person that can control your moods or happiness is you. Keep stress at bay. Think positive thoughts. It is about your health, happiness and the time you spend with those who you enjoy being with, not the gifts, the job or any distraction in your life.

Make this holiday season one of the best ever!

Be well, keep things in perspective, think positive thoughts, keep your spirits high, your outlook on life good and help to keep your healthy lifestyle (eating and exercising) consistent during the holidays.

If you need a little push let a song infiltrate your soul. These songs, Bob Marley, “Don´t Worry Be Happy”,,  or “Don’t Worry About A Thing, ‘Cause Every Little Thing Is Gonna Be Alright,”,  work for me. Find a tune that will help straighten you out, let it get stuck in your head and sing it like you mean it for as long as you need it!

No matter what’s going on, music can make you feel good inside so sing and spread the holiday spirit and most of all enjoy life!

Anyone have a song or a plan to avoid being “scrooged”? I would be “happy” to share.

Happy and healthy holidays to all!


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Beat The Battle of The Perfect “Sick” Storm (The Spleen Part 2)

What do you think of when you hear about the immune system? I visualize the immune system as an army fighting to protect the body from alien invaders. But understanding the intricacies of the system is a little more complex. The truth is the immune system is a whole system of organs that work together to keep you healthy, So if you are trying to dodge the getting sick “bullet” know that you must keep the whole system of organs in good condition.

What is important to know from a nutritional standpoint is:

  1. “One of the more damaging food components to our immune system is sugar. In one study, the ingestion of 100 gram (roughly 3-1/2 ounces) portions of carbohydrate as glucose, fructose, sucrose, honey, and pasteurized orange juice all significantly reduced the ability of white blood cells (neutrophils) to engulf and destroy bacteria. In contrast, the ingestion of 100 grams of starch had no effect. These effects started within less than 30 minutes after ingestion and lasted for over 5 hours. Typically, there was at least a 50% reduction in neutrophil activity two hours after ingestion. Since neutrophils constitute 60-to-70% of the total circulating white blood cells, impairment of their activity leads to depressed immunity”,
  2. Proteins are an intricate part of the immune system aiding in the creation of antibodies, helping to strengthen cell walls and manufacture interferons (protein produced by the immune system in response to an infection).Eat adequate protein to help support this function.

Last week’s blog, “Beat The Battle of The Perfect “Sick” Storm”,, started this series and discussed the role of the skin as part of the immune system. Internally, it is the lymph system (spleen, thymus, lymph nodes containing lymphocytes which are white blood cells, gut and bone marrow) that protects you from getting sick and these organs will be addressed next.

Starting with the spleen (an organ you do not hear much about even though it is very important to the body’s defense system);  it is small, about the size of your fist, located in your stomach under the rib cage and above the kidney. The spleen is part of the lymph system (a network of organs that make up the immune system). It filters germs such as viruses, bacteria abnormal cells from the blood. When an invader is detected your spleen and lymph nodes, jump into action creating lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are white blood cells that produce antibodies in order to fend off infections.

Support Spleen Function:

  1. Eat small frequent meals consisting of warm foods and beverages like tea, soup and stews.
  2. Use herbs, spices and supplements: ginger (contains the enzyme zingibain an enzyme that can help strengthen the immune system), maitake mushrooms (or supplement with maitake D-fraction), black and chili pepper, basil, turmeric, cilantro, parsley, cardamom and cinnamon.
  3. Traditional Chinese Medicine suggests consuming onions, leeks, fennel and garlic to “help increase the body’s digestive fire”.
  4. 4. Select protein that may help to cleanse the spleen like fatty fish (salmon, sardines, halibut), beef, chicken, turkey or lamb.
  5. Beta carotene rich foods can also help give your immune system a boost: tomatoes, carrots, squash, spinach, broccoli, romaine lettuce, cantaloupe, pumpkin and peppers.

Three down: the skin, the spleen and the lymph; next week completes the immune series with the thymus, bone marrow and gut.

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Posted by on November 18, 2014 in antibodies, health, immune system, wellness


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Beat The Battle of the Perfect “Sick” Storm (Skin Deep Part 1)

Why do you think most people get sick during the fall and winter months? More germs floating around than other times of the year? The cold temperature? Low immune system? The answer may not be so simple.

Getting sick stems from several factors that stir up the right storm and then wham you get ambushed with the flu, a cold or just plain feel awful as you try to fight off the bugs that invade you. Throughout this season,  lifestyle shifts into hyper mode with all the usual responsibilities and pressure of daily life plus the stress of the holidays.

There is little time to breathe forget about focus on yourself and being healthy. The build-up of holiday expectations, preparation and coordinating plans with family, adds to stress and contributes to less sleep and more nutrient-less eating and drinking. The “sick” storm is in gear.

Eating right, sleep and exercise all contribute to a healthy immune system. Stress, alcohol, and nutrient-less food takes a toll on an immune system that is being challenged with cold, flu and other respiratory bugs. The cold weather doesn’t help much either. During these health challenging months, beat the odds and keep your immune system strong and in fighting shape. The organs involved in supporting the immune system are: the skin, gut, spleen, thymus, bone marrow and lymph nodes.

Weighing in as the largest body organ (at about 8 pounds) and providing a physical barrier against germs is the skin.  As the body’s first line of protection it signals internal defenses, creates an environment that supports healthy bacteria while secreting anti-bacterial warriors that summon white blood cells to attack germ “invaders”.

During the winter months the skin can become dry and cracked weakening its protective ability. So keep skin moist with healthy lotions and skin “caring” foods, keeping in mind nutrients or toxic chemicals can be absorbed through both the skin and the gut.

Skin Deep Wellness

Use products that contain:

· Hyaluronic acid- found in the skins connective tissue, it is used to treat wrinkles.

· Retinol- a form of vitamin A  has proven to improve the skins hydration level and reduce fine lines and wrinkles.

· Ester C (PH neutral vitamin C)- stimulates collagen production which is important to anyone who is getting older because collagen decreases as you age. Vitamin C also helps to minimize fine lines and wrinkles.

·  Ceramides–  are fat molecules that help keep skin tight. They are found on the surface of the skin within the its’ cells and are active barriers to substances that try to infiltrate the skin while helping maintain skin hydration.

· Copper Peptide– increases the production of elastin and collagen helping to keep skin soft smooth and firm.

· Alpha Lipoic Acid- an antioxidant that helps prevent skin damage lessens wrinkles and boosts vitamin C levels.

Avoid skin and sunscreen products that contain toxic chemicals linked to cancer, hormone disruption, reproductive toxicity and many more health consequences:

·         Parabens

·         Phthalates

·         Triclosan

·         Toluene

·         Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)


There are more, check out this chart for details,

 Speak to a skin expert who can help you make the right choices for your particular skin needs.

Keeping skin, especially your hands and face,  hydrated and healthy during flu season will help you stay in a “sick free” zone but there is more. Next week learn how to feed your immune system and keep it strong from the inside out.


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WTE on a Healthy Balanced Diet?


Dr. Weil’s food pyramid,,


The United State’s Department of Agriculture’s, “MY Plate”,

bg_food-pyramid3 The Atkins Food pyramid, 

On the heels of “WTF am I eating”,, I thought it would be nice to also shed some light on WTE (what to eat) on a healthy balanced diet. There are so many different nutrition philosophies out there, so much confusion about what is healthy, and, not so healthy to eat and way too much controversy on what really is the “perfect” diet for you.

Take a look at the pictures above. Different food suggestions, different ideas of how to eat healthy. Yet, they have one big similarity.  There is no mention of chips, cookies or ice cream. Sure it is ok to dabble a little bit once in a while but junkie convenience foods have crept their way into daily eating and for some of us desserts are a staple after each meal.

These three diets (shown above) are examples of  the anti-inflammatory diet, the low carb diet and the calorie controlled diet; just a few of the hundreds of thousands of different ways to feed yourself. With so many diets out there, which is best? What food plans work and how are you supposed to know WTE?

A balanced diet, or food plan, is not the same for everyone. By definition, balanced eating  would apply solely to consuming a balanced ratio of nutrients from carbs, protein and fat (1:1:1) where calories are distributed evenly across the board at about 33% of total calories for each macronutrient.  You should understand that most “healthy” plans do not emphasize this balanced equation. Also, personal situations may dictate and override a general balanced diet formula.  A healthy diet will be different for everyone based on their own special circumstance. For example:

  • Being athletic can change the nutritional playing field. Athletes may benefit from eating a balanced ratio of nutrients but the formula may need a little tweaking to account for their goals to fuel,  recover and repair from the stress of long bouts of physical activity and the additional specialized needs for any particular sport.
  • Hippocrates, 460 BC– 377 BC,  is noted for his famous quote “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. This means that if you have a medical condition, such as diabetes, high triglycerides, high blood pressure, polycystic ovarian syndrome etc… a “balanced” diet may require tipping the scales more towards certain nutrients like healthy fats and away from others, like carbohydrates, to assist the body in equalizing the medical imbalance of that particular health condition.
  • If you are healthy, exercise and within your goal weight, eating an equal amount of calories from protein, fats and carbs should be the goal.

There is a lot of information out there on WTE. My best advice is to understand what your personal needs are and mold a healthy balanced nutrition plan that will work for you.  Nutrients can act in your favor or against you. It is your choice. If you need to use these general plans to jump start your healthy eating use them but long term, strive to “balance” and personalize your eating, tailored just for you.


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Ready, Set, Go! Make A Change

Changing behavior is one of the most difficult things to do in life and do not let anyone tell you otherwise. Although “change” is a simple word, the process of change is complicated, no matter what you are trying to change. If you have diabetes (or any medical condition that can improve with lifestyle changes), wish to lose weight or want a better relationship, your readiness to change will make the difference in your long term success.

Desperately wanting something does not get you to “ready”. Trying your best or even going through the motions will not change behavior. In order to get on the right track to reach your goals, you must get “ready” to change your behavior.

READY” is defined as, “completely prepared” or “in condition for immediate action”. Therefore one of the best ways to ensure you will achieve your health goals is to get ready.

Determine what your goals are and prepare for action. Make weekly appointments with yourself. Set a date and time, put it on the calendar or you may never get the time you need to take care of yourself. This is all about Y-O-U! So, you will be the best person to determine what your goals are. No one else can tell you how to prioritize your life. You do not have to do this alone you can enlist a friend, family member or healthcare expert to help. I think it’s best to get as many people who are willing to support you on board as possible. Be honest with yourself; make sure those who support you provide unconditional help.

Be prepared to deal with those who are not supportive in any way necessary.


List your goals.

List specific actions that must be made.

Describe how you will execute your plan.

List behaviors that will contribute to success.

Think about the barriers you will have to overcome and plan on how to change your behavior to achieve victory.

Learn from mistakes and plan for success the next time you experience a pitfall.

Accept the fact that changing behavior is not easy and you will experience setbacks.

Ask yourself:

How will I learn new behaviors and let go of poor behaviors?
How can I anticipate a behavior relapse?
How can I maintain motivation?
What are the benefits?
What are the drawbacks of my changes?


No one else can do this for you but you. Denial and avoidance will get you nowhere. Take the bull by the horns and GO for a healthy lifestyle, improve a diagnosis or relationship. It will likely be an opportunity for improved quality of life and good health not only for you but everyone around you.

There is no quick fix in life. Get ready, get set and go for it! No matter what it is, you can make a change for the better by taking these steps and exchanging poor behaviors for positive actions. It may take time but it will be well worth your efforts.




Posted by on March 3, 2014 in behavior, weight loss, wellness


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Renew or Re-Do Your “New Year’s” Vow

February 2013 Calendar (Oaxaca Trees)

February 2013 Calendar (Oaxaca Trees) (Photo credit: planeta)

If you made a vow to yourself on December 31 st or any other day. Keep it. Instead of a once a year pledge, make a real commitment. Set an alarm, mark your calendar for the end of each month and re-visit your  goal to determine if the goal is realistic. If you set a general goal, it is likely you will fall into the 25% of those people whose “diet” will fail. Whether diet or lifestyle or any goal, if you stick with it, you will succeed.

Do you want to lose weight or just be healthier this year? You want to succeed? The goal and strategies you set must be front and center on a daily basis.  What is your goal? How will you accomplish it?

For example, your goal might be: I will lose 2 pounds/week.

How are you going to achieve this goal? Specific behavior strategies that you choose to assist you with daily challenges.


1. Switch my low nutrient snacks for real foods that nourish (100 calorie snack pack out, celery with peanut butter in).

2. I will track my foods for accountability (use an app to track daily food).

3. I will not deprive myself when I’m hungry.

Allow yourself three and a half weeks to determine if the set goal is realistic or you need to change it so that it is attainable.

Renew your vow if your are successful, it’s working for you. Add a second goal with 3 new strategies for detailed actions in February. Do this each month.

If you have not achieved your goal in 3 weeks, re-do your vow so that  it is more attainable.

Example of  a resolution “re-do”:

I will lose one-two pounds each week


1. If I eat a 100 calorie snack pack at work, this will be my only desert of the day.

2. I will track my foods for accountability (use an app to track daily food).

3. I will identify real hunger vs. eating when bored.

Just because your initial attempt at weight loss or better health does not work, it does not mean that within six months you throw in the towel. There is more than one way to get things done. It may take a little time to find your comfort zone. But, you will be on track to accomplishing your goals.

At the end of each month, set a time when you check-in, evaluate your progress, or lack of progress. Learn to accommodate your lifestyle, your food preferences and any other hiccup that might interfere with your goal in order to identify what works for you. When you individualize your own plan, you will beat the odds and find a lifetime of success.

So ask yourself, how did my plan go in January? Which strategies worked? What changes will need to be made to next months plan?


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