A happy home for recipes, natural healing, fitness and lifestyle tips

Have a Better Back to School… August 11, 2011

Whether you’re taking Life Lessons 1101, shooing your kids onto the bus or just adjusting your work schedule for increased traffic, Back to School is the perfect time to re-evaluate and re-motivate. Here are a few food pointers to have a better back to school season.


  • Keep it simple. Breakfast is important but don’t try to overdo it. If you stress yourself out making a five course meal, the breakfast habit probably won’t last more than a week. Keep things that are small and nourishing in stock.
  • Whatever you choose, make sure it includes complex carbohydrates, a bit of protein and healthy fats. My personal breakfast on the run is a fruit & nut bar.  Yogurt with granola always works and never forget oatmeal.
  • Eggs, eggs, eggs. If you have a smidgen more time, don’t underestimate the ease and nutrient value of an egg with whole grain toast. Eggs are great for the brain!
  • A special treat for the kids: The day before, dip bananas in their favorite flavored yogurt or flax oil, roll it in nuts and freeze. They’ll think they have the coolest parents ever! And they’ll enjoy making them too!


Lunch comes quickly, you’re hungry and you don’t have a lot of time. Do I even have to tell you to pack ahead? You know you won’t pick salad once you’re in the cafeteria line or fast food drive-thru. Be prepared.

  • Make sure you pack water for yourself and your children. Office and school air systems are very dehydrating. Many buses are not air-conditioned and kids play hard. Give them a one up in class and avoid afternoon grumpies by keeping them hydrated. Skip juices with artificial flavors and colors. The additives are proven to cause behavioral problems and cognitive dysfunction. And I don’t care what the USDA school lunch program says. It’s not a fruit.
  • Don’t over eat. You don’t want to be in a carbohydrate coma when you should be using your genius mind.
  • Consider buying nitrate free meats and trading the cheese on your sandwich for greens and hummus. The money you save on cheese will make up for the extra cost of nitrate free meats.
  • Men especially, try a salad with tuna and pumpkin seeds. Tuna and pumpkin seeds are great for prostate health.
  • Bring your cut veggies and diced fruit. Whatever kind you like. Just get working on your minimum fruit & veggie requirement. If you aren’t inspired to eat them by lunch time, you’ll eat them when you hit that 2:00 blood sugar/boredom slump. Trust me. And if your kids skipped them at lunch, they will be hungry enough to eat them mid afternoon or on the bus ride home.
  • Skip the chips and crackers all together; we consume plenty of processed carbs.
  • Let go of the notion that you need to pack cheese and yogurt. Often times these products reach unsafe temperatures and very few Americans are really lacking necessary amounts of dairy in their diets. Dairy creates mucous. If you don’t want to clear your throat excessively during your presentation, skip the dairy.

I always look at the new school year as my New Years. A great opportunity when the world around me is bustling with the energy of new beginnings and forcing me to change my patterns.  Pick a couple or all of these tips and set a resolution.  I wish you a happier & healthier Back to School.


The Cherries Are Here! July 8, 2011

The cherries I bought today. Eating them as I blog. Yum!

One of my most favorite fruits for healthfulness and definitely part of my fruit binge this season: CHERRIES!

Cherries pack a very high anti-oxidant value and contain a specific antioxidant known as anthocyanins which are not found in popular antiox fruits like blueberries. Cherries are very high in beta-carotene which is a characteristic more commonly found in veggies. Cherries also contain C, E, potassium, magnesium, iron, folate , fiber, quercetin and more.

So what does that really mean for you?

  • Arthritis & Gout – Cherries lower uric acid levels, nitric oxide and c-reactive proteins thus inhibiting inflammation. Cherries are a terrific way to treat symptoms and prevent osteo and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as, gout.
  • Heart Disease & Stroke – C-reactive  proteins are a better indicator of heart disease and stroke than blood pressure or cholesterol levels. Cherries are proven to lower those c-reactive proteins.
  • Cancer – Anthocyanins, the antioxidant most found in cherries, are proven to inhibit the growth of cancer cells and in some cases even kill cancer cells while protecting healthy cells! That is amazing. Think about that before you destroy healthy cells with conventional treatments.
  • Diabetes –  Cherries may help prevent and reverse type II diabetes. The anthocyanins DO help repair organ and small blood vessel damage caused by all pancreatic diseases including type I diabetes.
Cherries have also been known to help with weight management and brain neuron health. And the research on cherries is irrefutable, backed by the USDA, Michigan State University, Tufts, the Mayo Clinic and many other prestigious health research facilities. So, today is the day to get your Cherry on. July is the season and Whole Foods is running a terrific one day sale on ORGANIC CHERRIES for $2.99/lb. (Thank you to Britt N.E. for informing of this awesome regional sale!)

Visit,, for more detailed information on the benefits of cherries.


Alive Expo Review – Atlanta 2011 May 24, 2011

Saturday was hot so I started the day with a $1.00 rapture beer at Jack’s Pizza & Wings. Then I took shelter in the air conditioning at the Alive EXPO.  My friend, Britt N.E. and I had a great day. We had a massage, sipped some wine and got a makeover. Here are some of my favorite highlights:

  • Conceived By Nature was a pleasant surprise. They are a line of natural shampoos and conditioners made by trusty old Mane & Tail. They gave out samples of their Lavender & Rosemary products. I can’t wait to try them. I loved mane and tail when I was a kid.
  •  Squattie Pottie. The idea is that women can go anywhere anytime with a pocket-sized potty. I’m not sure if I really need one but I was definitely amused and interested. (I have  two little boys; the word potty is very funny to me.)  I didn’t buy one but the price was right.
  • Jennifer of Red Hair Girl Designs, introduced me to keynote speaker Kat James. She was a lovely person and has done a terrific job helping my friend achieve her goals.
  • Aubrey Organics  is a classic in the natural health world. I had a great time getting my make-up retouched and picked up a few samples to review on here. Bonus: I scored some Gaia Adrenal Health samples from Tina after the show. Yeah!
  • Ron from Earthshine sales and marketing was showing seasonally appropriate Greenerways Organic Bug Spray. They have a USDA organic label on this product and I can’t wait to try it out. I’m always looking for safer ways to protect my kiddos.

I enjoyed failing the bean bag toss at the Organic Valley booth. I need to brush up on my lawn games this summer. But they gave me yo-yos for my boys and some awesome coupons despite my lack of skill. Of course, a natural products show must have yummy food and beverage samples. I scored samples of Larabars, Cascadian Farm Granola, Natalie’s Orange Juice & Naked Grape Wine to name just a few.

  • Top 3. I loved Relax Wraps! Relax wraps are flax filled hot & cold therapy pillows. These were very relaxing but a little pricey for my taste. I know what flax seeds cost so I couldn’t justify the pricing. But they felt terrific. These wraps are the perfect safe alternative to heating pads and electric blankets for loosening tight muscles. And the weight of the flax applies pressure in all the perfect places. I definitely wanted to visit this booth again after receiving a harsh massage from a masseuse who was upset with her man. Lol.
  • In my top 2, Rooibee Red Tea was a new name in the tea market to me and they had some terrific flavors. I particularly loved the cranberry pomegranate flavor and they are all organic. This flavor got a thumbs up from my friend Britt N. E. too. Organic and tea almost always get a thumbs up from me!
  • My favorite booth goes to Esther’s Beauty Secrets. If this line can keep up with demand, I think they will go far. They were very clean. It didn’t irritate my extremely sensitive skin. And they work for all ethnic skin types. Plus the price was definitely right! I loved the scrubs and body oil. And I really want to give the natural deodorant a try. If I was a buyer, this is a product line I would definitely pick up. I plan to buy some soon.
At the end of the day, I felt great.  I had a wonderful time with my friend and found a few new things along the way. Hooray!

Decoding the Label: Sweeteners April 20, 2011

Cancer diagnosis, behavior disorders, obesity and type 2 diabetes are on the rise nationwide. It is widely accepted that processed foods are partially if not mostly to blame. Many people are trying to be smarter grocery shoppers. You’re reading labels and avoiding corn syrup. But sometimes you just don’t know what all of the ingredients on the label mean. Here is a little pocket guide of some of the most common sweeteners and alternate names found on the market. Items in red are on my don’t buy list. I suggest you highlight it, hit Control P and print selected area. Take it with you for a few grocery trips.


  • Acesulfame is an artificial sweetener sold under the brand name of SunSweet.
  • It is also known as acesulfame K or acesulfame potassium.
  • Although FDA approved, long-term health effects have not been adequately researched.


  • Agave syrup is a natural sweetener made by extracting and heating the juice of the agave plant.
  • Regardless of color, agave syrup is mostly comprised of fructose sugar.
  • Fructose has a lower glycemic index than sucrose (table sugar). Although agave is safer than sucrose, it is still a sugar and should only be consumed in moderation.


  • Aspartame is an artificial sweetener sold under the brand names of Canderel, Equal, NutraSweet.
  • The FDA rejected any scientific attempts at proving long-term negative health effects in the 20th century as false with a little urging from Monsanto’s lawyers. I would tell you how I feel about Monsanto but they might sue me.

Barley Malt

  • Barley malt is a natural sweetener typically used for fermentation. It is used as a nutritive supplement in the U.K.
  • It is also known as maltose or maltose syrup. Maltose is a unique type of sugar.
  • Maltose has a lower glycemic index than sucrose. Maltose is a still a form of sugar and should only be consumed in moderation.

Corn Syrup & High Fructose Corn Syrup

  • Corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup are natural sweeteners typically derived from extreme processing of genetically modified corn.
  • Corn syrups will soon be called corn sugars. Regular corn syrup is mostly a glucose sugar. High fructose corn syrup is more processed and is appropriately named fructose.
  • The effects on the body are similar to sucrose. While corn syrup itself isn’t that bad. The overuse of it is killing us. Many thanks to Monsanto for providing the world with useless genetically modified seeds.


  • Honey is perhaps one of the oldest and most natural foods available!
  • Honey is pure glucose.
  • Honey is very chemically stable and the body knows exactly what to do with it. Honey is my preferred sugar substitute. Moderation is very important if you are diabetic.


  • Saccharin is the oldest artificial sweetener on the market.
  • Saccharin was once banned by the FDA as unsafe for human consumption and on the EPA’s toxic chemicals list. It has since been removed and deemed safe for consumption. Questionable, very questionable.


  • Sucralose is an artificial sweetener processed with chlorides.
  • Sucralose is sold by the brand names Splenda and Nevella.
  • Sucralose may kill beneficial bacteria in the gut and have a laxative effect. No long-term health effects have been proven yet.


  • Sugar is a natural sweetener and is the control that all other sweeteners are compared to. It is typically manufactured from cane sugar or beets.
  • Sugar is also known as sucrose. Sucanat is a less processed form of sugar cane.
  • Unless you are diabetic, I recommend using sucanat in moderation when making sweets. Excessive sugar consumption can cause issues with insulin production and weight gain.

Sugar Alcohols or “itols”

  • Most sugar alcohols are food based but heavily processed and often labeled as natural. Most are derived from corn. Some are derived from birch or fruit. Sugar alcohols are relatively new on the market and many are only approved as supplements or have just received food status from the FDA.
  • Almost any ingredient ending in itol is a sugar alcohol. Mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol, etc. all fall under this category.
  • Sugar alcohols are typically marketed towards diabetics as safer than sugar and more natural than artificial sweeteners. They are also used in oral hygiene products and chewing gums. Be cautious with sugar alcohols. They can cause headaches or have diuretic and laxative effects. I don’t consider them a danger yet but I try not to buy them very often because they are so new. The long-term effects have yet to be seen.


  • Stevia is a natural sweetener derived from a category of plant leaves related to sunflowers. The level of processing depends on the brand. It is currently sold as a supplement, not food, in the U.S.
  • Stevia is also known as SweetLeaf or SugarLeaf
  • Stevia is a form of fiber and may have a mild laxative effect. Stevia is safe for diabetics and may even improve glucose tolerance! Due to “industry complaints” stevia has been the subject of controversy remaining unapproved by the FDA. In more recent studies, the World Health Organization has found no validity to the complaints. Stevia sweeteners are top sellers in supplement stores. Coca-cola has jumped on the centuries long trend and I expect that it will be fully approved by the FDA very soon.

%d bloggers like this: