San Diego Cancer Research Institute

Mary’s Reality Based Nutrition Archives 2016

This is an archive Mary’s Reality Based Nutrition Blog, from January to December of 2016. To jump to a specific month, feel free to click on one of the links

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December 2016

News Updates: Eggs, Sugar, Fukushima & Nutrition Trends for 2017
posted December 19th, 2016

I have chosen three topics to update from the health news. Eggs, because they are still being maligned. An update on the ongoing research by corporations to find the perfect sugar; low in calories & still addictive. I picked the Fukushima update as it is important to all of you who eat seafood & for those of you who are concerned about radiation exposure. While exploring the internet I also found an interesting website listing what to expect in the food world for 2017. Scads of good information.


Egg whites are high in protein, but did you know that the yolk contains choline? A recent study, Assessment of Total Choline Intakes in the United States, indicates that Americans do not get enough choline in their diet. Choline is an essential nutrient. Dr. Weil: “Choline is utilized by the body in a variety of ways including aiding nerve signaling, maintenance of cell membranes, transporting triglycerides from the liver, and as a constituent of nervous system tissues in early brain development.”

Dr. Low Dog: Time to Reconsider Eggs? Our Need for Choline.So where to get this relatively unknown yet vital micronutrient? Fortunately, choline is surprisingly easy to add to the diet. Specifically beef, wheat germ, scallops, salmon, chicken, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, peanuts and milk all contain choline, but the goldmine source is eggs, which contain a choline-rich yolk center.” Good article.

This study regarding eggs has made the headlines for the past few weeks. The article in PubMed has the original study & its conclusions. One item I found interesting was that the participants in the study were not asked about their overall diet or how the eggs were prepared. One would think that information would be pertinent to this study.

•PubMed: Eating one egg a day may lower risk of stroke: “An egg a day can cut chances of suffering a fatal stroke,” The Times reports. A new review of existing data covering around 300,000 people suggests eating up to one egg a day may lower stroke risk; but not the risk of heart disease. The health effects of eggs have been debated for years. Eggs, which contain cholesterol, were thought to increase risk of heart disease by raising cholesterol levels. But more recent studies show that cholesterol in food has little impact on the levels of cholesterol in your blood – most cholesterol in the blood is made by the liver.”

Bottom line: Eat the whole egg! How many? The current guidelines range from 1-3 eggs a day as being perfectly healthy for most people. The exceptions are diabetics & people with heart disease. Unless you are making an omelette, I would go with 1 egg a day max.

When making an omelette use 2 egg whites & 1 whole egg. That way, you get the choline & a protein boost. You can also rotate: one day egg white only & the next a whole egg. Eggs are part of a balanced Mediterranean diet. Moderation! …
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The Ecology of Estrogen in the Female Body…copyright Juliet Blankespoor
posted December 12th, 2016

We know that hormones influence many types of cancers in both women & men. The two most common are breast & prostate; hormone dependent cancers. They also play a lesser role in ovarian, testicular, endometrial, lung & liver for example. These would be considered hormone-sensitive cancers. Being diagnosed with hormone dependent or sensitive cancer leads to the question of phytoestrogens in our diet, & endocrine disruptors in our environment. I have addressed these concerns in our blog, Phytoestrogens & under the Topic page, Endocrine Disruptors.

But what are endogenous estrogens, phytoestrogens & xenoestrogens? What are their roles in the human body? We need to know how they effect our body in order to understand the treatment programs for hormone dependent/sensitive cancers. I read a very comprehensive article last week about this very subject at The Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine’s Blog This article is scientifically based yet “layman friendly”. I received permission from the author, Juliet Blankespoor, to share the entire article with you. I encourage you to read the entire article. Great information about flax & soy.

I highlighted the links to Juliet’s other articles regarding phytoestrogens & endocrine disruptors for those of you whom would like more information.

The Ecology of Estrogen in the Female Body

copyright Juliet Blankespoor

Red Clover (Trifolium pratense, Fabaceae): copyright Juliet Blankespoor

Women today live in a very different world than our foremothers. Our female predecessors began menstruating later in life, had more children, breastfed longer, underwent menopause earlier, ate whole foods, and lived in a cleaner environment. Women today have approximately ten times as many menstrual cycles as their great-great-grandmothers. Our bodies did not evolve with the hormonal inputs of perpetual ovulation and menstruation. As a result, more women than ever are experiencing reproductive disorders, such as endometriosis, uterine fibroids and ovarian cysts. Painful menstrual cramps, persistent acne and cyclic breast tenderness are so common that they are taken for granted as a normal aspect of female physiology. Many natural practitioners address these issues with herbal hormone balancers, such as chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus, Lamiaceae) and black cohosh (Actaea racemosa, Ranunculaceae). These herbs are often effective, and certainly have their place in treating female reproductive disorders. However, it is important to not overlook underlying dietary and lifestyle factors that contributed to the initial hormonal imbalance, as these harmful inputs are likely to create other issues down the road, if left unaddressed…
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Healthy Holiday Recipes for Cookies, Candies & Nuts!
posted December 5th, 2016

snomen2What better gift is there than homemade baked goods for the holidays. My mother would start baking on the first of December. She would then freeze what was made in preparation for the gift bags she put together for neighbors, friends & family. I also think she froze them to keep me, my brothers & father from eating them all

Most people are trying their best to make it through the season without indulging too much. It is difficult when the chemo room has trays of treats brought in for the health care staff & the patients. I have found some healthier versions of holiday cookies, nuts & candies that are vegan, gluten free & don’t use cane sugar. I will share my tried & true favorites & links to others.

Holiday Cookies don’t have to be laden with cane sugar. This is a recipe that I have used a great deal & everyone loves it.

MUESLI BREAKFAST COOKIES – Melissa King at My Whole Foods Life

Yields 24, 5 min Prep Time, 10 min Cook Time, 15 min Total Time

•2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Muesli or your favorite.
•2 mashed bananas (about medium sized)
•3/4 cup nut butter of choice (sunflower butter can also be used)
•1 tsp cinnamon

1.Preheat oven to 350.
2.In a large bowl, mix the mashed banana and nut butter.
3.Then add the cinnamon and muesli.
4.Mix well.
5.Using a cookie scoop, drop cookies onto a lined baking sheet.
6.The batter will be sticky. Use your palm to press each cookie down slightly.
7.Bake for 10-12 minutes.
8.Let cool completely before removing from the baking sheet and storing in an airtight container.

Notes: These should last at least 2 weeks in the fridge. They can also be frozen up to 6 months. Enjoy!

Here is another of my favorites. You may remember this slide from my nutrition talks. You can add any ingredient you want: nuts, chopped fruit, shredded coconut etc. Be creative! These can be frozen…
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November 2016

Muffin Tin Meals!
posted November 28th, 2016

Buy at Buy at

We have been invited to a potluck for a volunteer group my husband is a part of. While I was thinking about what to bring I remembered that in my research last week I found a great idea for stuffing; bake it in a muffin tin for individual servings. My thoughts then jumped to how wonderful an idea that would be for busy people & cancer patients in treatment. Individual, make ahead servings of meals made in a muffin tin/pan. Of course, as it turns out, I am not the only one who has thought of this. There are literally a thousand recipes on the internet.

This idea of using the muffin pan is perfect for a quick breakfast, lunch or a grab & go snack to bring along for a busy day. It would be ideal for those of you who have lost your appetite & need a calorie dense mini-meal. Let’s explore some of these ideas.

My go to for potlucks is a vegetarian, spinach & mushroom, quiche. I found several crust-less quiche recipes for a muffin pan. These would be easy to make & they could be frozen & warmed up when needed.

mini-quiche-1000x1500 A Big Mouthful Mini Quiche

Mushroom, Spinach & Mozzarella Mini Crustless Quiches
Makes 12 muffin-size quiches

Cooking spray or grease with coconut oil
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
5 ounces fresh baby spinach You could also use frozen spinach well drained
6 ounces crimini or button mushrooms, sliced
5 eggs
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup 2 % milk or a nut milk or coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Generously spray a standard-sized muffin tin with cooking spray, making sure to cover each cup completely. Set aside.

Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Add olive oil. When the oil begins to shimmer, add onions. Cook until softened, about 5-8 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, until they shrink in size and begin to brown, about 5 minutes.

Turn the heat to low and mound the spinach on top of the mushrooms and onions. It will look like a lot of spinach, but it will wilt down. Gently stir until spinach wilts, about 2 minutes.

Set aside to cool…
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Thanksgiving: New Recipes!
posted November 21st, 2016

novcalI was shocked to see that Thanksgiving was only a few days away on my calendar this morning. I am not ready. We usually have a Tofurkey as the centerpiece of the meal. I haven’t been able to find one & I am too late to order one. What to do? Research for recipes online, that’s what to do

In case you have forgotten about my post last year: Thanksgiving Recipes: “Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful & a time to spend with loved ones. It is also a time of feasting! I would like to add here that it is also a day to enjoy your food. A day of gratitude & loved ones is better for your immune system than any diet you are currently on! So, throw out the self-imposed eating rules, say a blessing of gratitude & enjoy.”

Rodale’s Organic Living has a wonderful post this month about 5 Ways Gratitude Starts at Your Table. “Gratitude is healing. And here is how you can tap into that healing power this Thanksgiving.” Take time to read the article. Here is the essence:

WebMD’s Newsletter this week is about foods that help fight depression. Here is #1.


The traditional Thanksgiving bird has the protein building-block tryptophan, which your body uses to make serotonin. That’s a brain chemical that plays a key role in depression, researchers say. In fact, some antidepressant drugs work by targeting the way your brain uses serotonin. You can get the same mood-boosting effect from chicken and soybeans.
•AllRecipes: Perfect Turkey
•Food Network: Worlds Simplest Thanksgiving Turkey

Are you unable to join family or friends for Thanksgiving? Here are a few good turkey recipes for two.
•Honey & Birch: Thanksgiving Dinner for Two.
•Oh, sweet basil: Herb Roasted Turkey Breast
•SheKnows: How to cook Thanksgiving dinner for just the two of you.
Good tips….
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Cold & Flu Season
posted November 14th, 2016

Tea-1-2-1024x709The cold & flu season is upon us once again. I am going to share 2 of my posts from September, 2015. I have updated them & added additional information. I recommend these remedies & teas for everyone, not just cancer patients in or out of treatment, but for family, caregivers & friends as well.

Oncologists differ in what they ask you to NOT take during your treatment. Please check with them before you start using any of these products.

What can you safely use for cold & flu symptoms before, during & after chemotherapy, radiation or surgery? There are literally thousands of over the counter remedies to choose from. Most of these have ingredents that will interact with medications & may have side effects. I will talk about remedies that are natural & easy to find. I will also note if there are any drug interactions that you should be aware of.

Lets begin with ways to help stimulate the immune system to fight off colds & flu. Here are the obvious ones.
•Eat a balanced, plant based, healthy diet. Think Mediterranean 🙂
•Eliminate added sugar & processed foods.
•Alleviate stress with mindfulness programs, meditation, art, massage & other non-drug, complementary therapies.
•Exercise: Walks, Yoga, Zumba etc.

My husband was a teacher & then a sub for elementary grades. He was exposed to a lot of germs from those little people. Starting at the end of August I recommended that he take the following. ***Even though we are not around children anymore, except when out shopping, or at events, we continue this as a preventative measure.
•Vitamin C: 1000 mgm each morning. This is an anti-oxidant & you should check with your health care team if you are taking chemotherapy or in radiation.
•Elderberry Syrup: 1 Tablespoon each morning during flu season. Black elderberries are anti-viral & will relieve flu symptoms. They are also protective if taken every morning during the flu season. Sambucus Syrup by Nature’s Way is a good, safe brand to use. Gaia Black Elderberry Syrup is another good, safe brand. This is also an anti-oxidant & you should check with your health care team if you are taking chemotherapy or in radiation.

Herbal Teas are wonderful to help with cold & flu symptoms. Taken in tea form, two or three times a day, they will not interact with medications. Here are 2 safe brands of herbal medicinal teas I use & recommend. I have also included a few that you should know about for other problems Explore the tea aisle of your store or go to the links I have provided to see what other seasonal, medicinal, teas there are…
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Healthy Snacks.
posted November 7th, 2016

cannySnacks are an important part of our daily food intake. They can simply be a piece of fruit while out and about or they can make up your diet for the entire day. What we choose to snack on is important. We want something that is healthy & nutritionally dense. Halloween candy doesn’t count

True story…I was at my local natural food store, Wild Rivers, when a man loudly asked the cashier: “Where the hell is the junk food aisle? This is the only junk food I could find (he held up an organic bar of chocolate).” Everyone laughed. It occurred to me that most grocery stores have several aisles of junk food. Natural food stores don’t. They do have chocolate bars, protein bars & chips, but in general, the ingredients are not that bad.

While you are out & about, it is easy to succumb to a muffin at Starbucks, a candy bar while getting gas for the car, or driving thru a fast food place. If you plan ahead you can have prepared snacks with you. Get a lunch box or bag for them along with a reusable bottle of water. Keep it with your purse or car keys to remind you to bring it along.

When you are feeling ill &/or in treatment, you have no appetite nor energy to fix a meal. In past discussions I have suggested that you eat at least 6-8 snacks a day instead of 3 meals. The reason I suggested this, is that you will take in more calories & nutrients eating small snacks all day instead of pushing the food around on your plate during a traditional meal. Check out my Topic: Nutrition Tips During Chemotherapy for additional information.

I have made it known in prior posts, how much I hate lunch. It is a meal that I just don’t understand. Nothing appeals to me & I end up eating nothing or I make a sandwich which I really don’t want. I like a healthy breakfast & a healthy dinner with snacks in between. The key to this is to have “snack stuff” on hand. As I researched snacks on line, lots of not so healthy ideas came up. But when I researched Mediterranean diet snacks, I found some wonderful ideas.

What do I mean by a healthy Mediterranean diet snack?

Snacks based on this diet would include whole grains, nuts, legumes, fruits, vegetables, some dairy, & healthy fats. Fish & lean meats could also be included. Stock your pantry with them. Mediterranean Organic is a line of Mediterranean products that can be found at Jimbo’s, Sprouts, Whole Foods & other markets. Go to the website & use the locator for a store near you…
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October 2016

Cancer Fighters: Cruciferous Vegetables
posted October 31st, 2016

broccoli Ocean Air Organic Farm

When I read the news this morning, the headline that caught my eye was “The Fountain of Youth May Well be Broccoli” I was intrigued since I had decided to write about cruciferous vegetables & their cancer fighting properties. Apparently a new study lists broccoli, cabbage, cucumbers & edamame as having anti-aging properties when given to mice. Next will be human clinical trials. Regardless of the outcome, we know from earlier research that 70% or more of the studies have shown that cruciferous vegetables protects us against cancer. So, start eating more broccoli

Here is a Facebook post from Dr. Low Dog that explains the benifits of these vegetables:

Tieraona Low Dog, MD

October 24, 2016
Breast cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer worldwide. According to the American Cancer Society, every year approximately 200,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and among those 40,000 will die. Breast cancer is often thought to be only an issue for older women. Surprisingly, of the women that are estimated to die from breast cancer approximately 6.2% of those women are under the age of 45. Clearly, breast health is an issue that women of all ages should address. The proper intake of vitamins and minerals is essential to overall health and therefore, important for breast health. Some of these vitamins and minerals are found in food that is commonly part of a healthy diet. For example, broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables (such as cauliflower, radishes, kale, collard greens, Brussels sprouts, etc) contain vitamins C, E and K and are rich in nutrients, including several carotenoids (beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin). These vegetables also contain folate, are a good source of fiber and contain chemicals called glucosinolates. During digestion glucosinolates are broken down into biologically active compounds that have been tested for their anticancer effects. Over a decade ago, a study described results suggesting that women who ate greater amounts of cruciferous vegetables had a lower risk of breast cancer. More recently, one of the compounds derived from glucosinolates of the cruciferous vegetables was found to inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells by blocking key signaling pathways known to be required for cancer progression. These results are promising and encourage researchers to continue to explore the anticancer affects of cruciferous vegetables, especially for breast cancer.

As you see, adding these vegetables into your diet will give you many nutritional benifits. Cruciferous vegetables are in the Brassicaceae family of plants. Here is a list from Gardening Know How I have added comments & links to recipes next to each vegetable…
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Cookware Safety
posted October 24th, 2016

This is the time of the year that we do more baking & cooking. The weather is milder & the holidays are coming closer. Time to think about Thanksgiving dinner & Christmas cookies. What kind of cookware do you use?

Cookware safety has been a popular topic since Teflon & aluminum were declared unsafe. Many newer, safer, forms of coated pots & pans have emerged since then. Rather than review each one, there are far too many, I will look at the cookware & bakeware that are considered the safest.

I have noticed that cast iron is making a comeback. It has become so popular that it is driving up the prices! People are searching thrift stores for the older cast iron cookware thinking that it was made better back in the day. Lodge Cast Iron Cookware is the oldest brand, since 1896, & is still available at reasonable prices. I have several of their cast iron skillets & love them. Cast iron bakeware is fantastic too. My next purchase will be a cast iron muffin pan.

Seasoning them is not complicated & gives you a natural non-stick surface. Once they are seasoned, the trick is to never use soap on them. I rinse mine with plain running water & use a soft brush to remove pieces of food. I then put it on the stove top at a medium heat for it to dry. While it is still warm I coat it with either olive or coconut oil. Once it is cool I put it away & it is ready for the next meal.

Cast iron can be pre-heated to high temperatures for use on the stove top & in the oven. I have used it on gas stoves & now on my electric stove. Works the same with both. When pre-heating at a medium heat, this allows it to heat evenly. Cast iron also retains the heat longer than other pans.

One concern I have heard about is what types of foods shouldn’t be used with cast iron. On the Lodge website it has a Q&A page. Here is the answer to that question: “Foods which are very acidic (i.e. beans, tomatoes, citrus juices, etc.) should not be cooked in Seasoned Cast Iron until the cookware is highly seasoned. The high acidity of these foods will strip the seasoning and result in discoloration and metallic tasting food. Wait until cast iron is better seasoned to cook these types of foods. Lodge Enameled Cast Iron is not affected by acidity and can be used with all foods.” I avoid this problem by cooking acidic foods in my stainless steel pans
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Soup Season!
posted October 17th, 2016

img_2496-editedHere, in the Pacific Northwest, we are in the midst of a series of cold storms. This is the beginning of our rainy season. The wind is howling, the rain is coming down in horizontal sheets, the surf is over 20 feet, & all I want is a bowl of nutritious hot soup! Hence the subject of this weeks post. 🙂

I am always interested in the origins of foods. It gives a history to the dishes I make. From Food Timeline: “Food historians tell us the history of soup is probably as old as the history of cooking. The act of combining various ingredients in a large pot to create a nutritious, filling, easily digested, simple to make/serve food was inevitable. This made it the perfect choice for both sedentary and travelling cultures, rich and poor, healthy people and invalids. Soup (and stews, pottages, porridges, gruels, etc.) evolved according to local ingredients and tastes. New England chowder, Spanish gazpacho, Russian borscht, Italian minestrone, French onion, Chinese won ton and Campbell’s tomato…are all variations on the same theme.

Soups were easily digested and were prescribed for invalids since ancient times. The modern restaurant industry is said to be based on soup. Restoratifs (wheron the word “restaurant” comes) were the first items served in public restaurants in 18th century Paris. Broth [Pot-au-feu], bouillion, and consomme entered here. Classic French cuisine generated many of the soups we know today.

Advancements in science enabled soups to take many forms…portable, canned, dehydrated, microwave-ready. “Pocket soup” was carried by colonial travellers, as it could easily be reconstituted with a little hot water. Canned and dehydrated soups were available in the 19th century. These supplied the military, covered wagon trains, cowboy chuck wagons, and the home pantry. Advances in science also permitted the adjustment of nutrients to fit specific dietary needs (low salt, high fiber, etc.).”

Before I talk about the recipes for homemade soup that I use, lets look at some canned soups that are available. When lunch rolls around, we are usually in too much of a hurry to spend an hour making soup.

There are healthy canned soups that are delicious! The criteria I used for these examples: the can is BPA free, has healthy ingredients & is easy to find…
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Updates: & a “Visual Wisdom Challenge”!
posted October 10th, 2016

About half of the emails I receive are about personal care products, water safety, & the “dirty dozen”. I always recommend the website, The Environmental Working Group for information. I like this website because they call out the manufacturers that continue to use ingredients that are unsafe & they applaud those who have taken steps to make their products safer for the consumer. Very balanced views.

Let’s take a closer look at this website & the information that they provide.

Environmental Working Group Environmental Working Group

Who are they? “The Environmental Working Group’s mission is to empower people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. With breakthrough research and education, we drive consumer choice and civic action. We are a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment.

We work for you. Do you know what’s in your tap water? What about your shampoo? What’s lurking in the cleaners underneath your sink? What pesticides are on your food? How about the farms, fracking wells and factories in your local area? Do you know what safeguards they use to protect your water, soil, air and your kids? Which large agribusinesses get your tax dollars and why? What are GMOs? What do they do to our land and water?”

If you have an interest in the latest news on the ongoing fight with Monsanto, toxins in our products etc. then check out these links on the website:

News: “EWG keeps you up to date with analysis of the latest news, interviews with experts and more.” The articles are up to the minute & relate to issues that concern most of us.
Key Issues: This section looks at key issues by categories: Food, Energy, Water & more. The information here is also up to the minute. Worth taking a look at.

Their Research tab has up to date information on toxins, food, water, consumer goods & more.

food_news-2016 EWG’s Shopper’s guide to Pesticides in Produce

The part of this website that I use & recommend the most is: Consumer Guides. Here are some of the guides & links to them.

EWG’s Food Scores: You can search for food products by manufacturer & EWG rates the product by nutrition, ingredient & process concerns. This way you can decide if you want to continue using the product. This is a very helpful guide.
EWG’s Skin Deep: Cosmetics Database: You can search for more than 62,000 products to see what ingredients they contain & if they are safe. This database includes sun products, makeup, fragrances, hair & nail products for men, women & children.
EWG’s Shopper’s guide to Pesticides in Produce: This is where you find the downloadable, free, guides for the “Dirty 12” & the “Clean 15”. These guides are kept up to date yearly. The 2016 guides are available there. Not everyone wants to be 100% organic but they do want to limit the amount of pesticides in their foods. These guides can help you make that decision.
Dirty Dozen Endocrine Disruptors: “12 Hormone-Altering Chemicals and How to Avoid Them” The list includes BPA, Dioxin, Lead, Arsnic & Mercury. Each listing has a paragraph explaining what it is & how it can be avoided.
EWG’s Updated Water Filter Buying Guide & 5 Reasons to Skip Bottled Water The water filter guide is extremely useful. It helped me to decide on a counter top filter. I think you already know why you should not use bottled water, but if not, EWG has a good article explaining why.
Consumers Guide to Seafood: “Which fish are richest in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, lowest in mercury contamination and sustainably produced? Get a downloadable guide here. There is a seafood calculator that is really helpful. You put in your weight, age, gender, heart disease (yes or no) & it calculates what fish you can safely eat & how often. Try it out!
EWG’s 10th Annual Guide to Sunscreens: A bit late for this year, unless you plan on a trip to sunnier climes during this winter Included is a list of tips on how to keep your skin healthy with or without the sunscreen. Keep this link handy for next year.
Good Food on a Tight Budget: “BETTER FOOD, LOWER COST: Stretching your dollars to get a month’s worth of healthy, filling food is a challenge. EWG assessed nearly 1,200 foods and hand-picked the best 100 or so that pack in nutrients at a good price, with the fewest pesticides, contaminants and artificial ingredients. Enjoy!” I am impressed with this link. It is a must read for everyone. Food can be expensive & this site will help you understand which foods are a good buy: fruits, veggies, grains, protein, dairy, cooking oil & staples. It also includes recipes!

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Autumn Vegetables to Try.
posted October 3rd, 2016


We all get stuck on a handful of vegetables that we alternate between. Usually it is broccoli, carrots, potatoes, lettuce etc. Autumn is a good time to change that by introducing new vegetables & fruits into your repertoire. Oldway’s, one of my favorite websites, sent out their newsletter declaring October as Vegtoberfest: Putting More Plants On Your Plate It fits right in with today’s post.

Vegtoberfest is a month-long campaign to get YOU to eat more plants, and to share your personal story behind going “veg” for the month. To participate in Vegtoberfest this October, you do not have to already be a vegetarian or vegan; in fact, you don’t even have to go completely vegetarian for the entire month if you don’t want to. You just have to put more plants on your plate! Click on the link to join the program

I am going to highlight a few vegetables & fruits that we tend to overlook this time of year & include links to recipes.

•Artichokes: If you have friends from out of state you already know that artichokes are a “California thing”. Your friend will invariably ask “How do I eat this?” We have 4 artichoke plants. The first season this year gave us 85 artichokes! Luckily we love them. We are now having a fall season which brings smaller artichokes. I like them best when they are small. You can eat close to 90% of the artichoke when they are about the size of a lemon. I still prefer them steamed but we did enjoy them roasted.

How to Cook & Eat an Artichoke from Simply Recipes: Great aticle with steps on how to cook it & how to eat it I add cloves of garlic under a few of the leaves. If you have smaller artichokes there is no need to cut the tips off.

Need a New Artichoke Recipe? We Found Some of the Best! from the Huffington Post This has 30 recipes! I can’t wait to try some of them.
•Brussels Sprouts: They look like tiny cabbages because they are thought to have been cultivated from the cabbage. You should look for fresh Brussels Sprouts that have tight leaves. You can buy them still on the stalk & they do last longer that way. I like them steamed but my favorite is roasted. Ours are not quite ready yet but I am seeing them in the market.

Brussels Sprouts Recipes That Will Change Your Life from PureWow: Wow! Never thought I would find so many recipes for these.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts from food network: This is how I do mine, but I add a dash or two of Tamari Sauce to the oil. You can sprinkle Parmesan cheese or Nutritional Yeast over them before serving.
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September 2016

Updates: Sugar, Mediterranean Diet & Pain Control Options.
posted September 19th, 2016

sugar-photoThe latest news about sugar is right up there with the lies told by the tobacco industry for so long. Apparently, starting back in the 1960’s, the Sugar Research Foundation, has been influencing research regarding the relationship between sugar & heart disease. It has shifted the blame onto fat in the American diet. Research at that time was done by Harvard scientists but funded by the Sugar Research Foundation.

This is important news to me because it uncovers the following problems. First, how powerful specific food lobbyists are & how research can be funded by the very people who don’t want negative information on their product to come to light. The funding group is not always named on the research study, giving you the impression that it is an independent study. This is a good article by NPR, explaining the 1967 situation with sugar vs fat. 50 Years Ago, Sugar Industry Quietly Paid Scientists To Point Blame At Fat: “In the article, published Monday, authors Glantz, Cristin Kearns and Laura Schmidt aren’t trying make the case for a link between sugar and coronary heart disease. Their interest is in the process. They say the documents reveal the sugar industry attempting to influence scientific inquiry and debate.” This original study caused scientists & the American public to jump on the non-fat diet craze. We now know that this was a bad idea & that our body needs fat to function.

I think this new information shows us how important it is to not listen to everything said about what foods are “good” & what foods are “bad”. It is another case to back up the idea of a balanced plant based diet, indulging in favorite foods occasionally & in moderation, while choosing a healthy lifestyle. Overall this is the best way to build up your immune system to fight off diseases.

Old-ways-Mediterranian-pyramidMy old favorite, the Mediterranean Diet has been in the news again. An article by CNN states that Mediterranean diet may be more helpful than statins. “The observational study was presented at the European Society of Cardiology conference this weekend. It showed that the people who have had a history of cardiovascular disease and stuck closest to the diet had a 37% lower risk of death compared with those who didn’t stick with it.” The study went on to say that “The diet seems to do even better than one of the most prescribed options for people with heart problems: cholesterol-lowering statins. On average, statins reduce risk of heart problems about 24%, according to earlier studies. That means the diet looks like a real winner to help with heart health.” We can add that to the long list of health benefits…
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Quick Breads
posted September 12th, 2016

Last week I talked about the different types of yeast & yeast breads. For those of us who decide to make a bread or muffin at the last minute, yeast breads are out of the question. We need something simple & quick.

At this time of year gardens are overflowing with zucchini. I have made & frozen 6 loaves so far. Today, I am going to try zucchini muffins. These types of quick breads are wonderful to give as gifts or to trade for pickled beets, like I did

Speaking of zucchini, here is an amazing website, sent to me by our NUT Elf Suzi. 63 Game-Changing Zucchini Recipes! Zucchini Lattice Lasagna looks good. No noodles!

Back to quick breads. Wikipedia defines quick breads as: “Quick bread is any bread leavened with leavening agents other than yeast or eggs. An advantage of quick breads is their ability to be prepared quickly and reliably, without requiring the time-consuming skilled labor and the climate control needed for traditional yeast breads.”

Quick breads can be made from dough or batter; biscuits to breads. They are made with quick acting leavening agents: baking soda, baking powder or both combined. Let’s look at these two and what they are.

eb86e486-fc3a-4d23-970a-bbd5a414703bEveryone recognizes this little box. Description: “Sure, you know our little orange box. But did you know that for more than 165 years, people have chosen pure, versatile, effective, safe, and affordable ARM & HAMMER™ Baking Soda for baking, household, and personal care uses. With countless uses for about $1, no other product does more throughout your home.”

Baking soda’s chemical name is sodium bicarbonate. It is used in cooking, cleaning & toothpaste. I use it a lot in cleaning. That is another good topic for another time. Baking soda is from a natural occurring mineral nahcolite which is mined, then processed. From About Education…“Baking Soda: Baking soda is pure sodium bicarbonate. When baking soda is combined with moisture and an acidic ingredient (e.g., yogurt, chocolate, buttermilk, honey), the resulting chemical reaction produces bubbles of carbon dioxide that expand under oven temperatures, causing baked goods to rise. The reaction begins immediately upon mixing the ingredients, so you need to bake recipes which call for baking soda immediately, or else they will fall flat!” I have had that experience!
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Yeast & Yeast Breads
posted September 5th, 2016

Bob’s Red Mill Bread recipes Bob’s Red Mill Bread recipes

Yeast breads are one of my favorite foods, along with french fries & coffee Have you ever wondered about yeast? What it is made from & the difference between bakers yeast & nutritional yeast? I will answer these questions & include instructions in making a basic yeast bread along with other recipes. I can smell that yeast bread already

There are three types of yeast that we hear about: nutritional yeast, brewers yeast & bakers yeast. They all come from different strains of the same organism called Saccharomyces Cerevisiae. Yeast is a member of the fungi family, like mushrooms.

y001As its name suggests, brewers yeast is used to brew homemade wines & beers. The Saccharomyces strains that are chosen to make brewers yeast, are those that produce alcohol. This yeast is live but will not make bread rise.

According to WebMD: Brewers yeast has also been used, anecdotally; which means that there is very little scientific data to back its use, for the following conditions.

•Premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
•Swelling of the colon (colitis) due to the bacteria Clostridium difficile.
•High cholesterol.
•Upper respiratory tract infection, including the common cold and flu (influenza).
•Loss of appetite.
•Other conditions.

More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of brewer’s yeast for these uses.

It is usually taken in the form of a supplement. If you decide to try this supplement, you want to discuss this with your health team first. It could interact with your medications & your labs.

Nutritional yeast, or “hippie dust” as it is affectionately called, is a “deactivated yeast” grown on molasses. It is washed, dried, heated & then flaked. Because it is not a live or active yeast, it will not make bread rise & will not help in making alcoholic beverages It is a good source of vitamin B12.

Nutritional yeast is used in food to enhance its flavor. It has a nutty, cheesy taste. Vegans & vegetarians have been using it for years, me included, to sprinkle onto their popcorn in place of butter or cheese. I keep it in a shaker to put on the table along with other spices. I also add it to pots of beans or other soups to give them a creamier taste. A little bit goes a long way.

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August 2016

Ancient Grains
posted August 29th, 2016

Ancient-Grain-1There has been an upsurge of interest in ancient grains. They are thought to be healthier for us & have found a place on various superfood lists. The grains that are considered to be ancient or heritage grains may surprise you. You may even be more surprised to see that one of our most common grains is not listed; wheat as it is grown today.

I will be looking at the ancient grains that Oldways, Whole Grains Council says are overlooked by the “Western Palate”. Teff, millet, amaranth, sorghum & quinoa. Recipes for each will be included These grains are each a powerhouse of protein, fiber, vitamins & minerals. But so are other grains & cereals. Incorporate them into your meals to make for a more interesting, healthy diet.

Oldways, Whole Grains Council: definition of ancient grains:There is no official definition of ‘ancient grains.’ All whole grains in the larger sense are “ancient” — they all can trace their roots back to the beginnings of time.

However, here at the Whole Grains Council, we generally define ancient grains loosely as grains that are largely unchanged over the last several hundred years.

This means that modern wheat (constantly bred and changed) is not an ancient grain, while einkorn, emmer/farro, Kamut®, and spelt would be considered ancient grains in the wheat family. Heirloom varieties of other common grains — such as black barley, red and black rice, blue corn — might also be considered ancient grains. Other grains largely ignored until recently by Western palates (such as sorghum, teff, millet, quinoa, amaranth) would also be widely considered to be ancient grains. Sometimes less common grains, like buckwheat, or wild rice, are also included.

Let’s have a look…

Teff: Gluten free. It is high in iron, magnesium, & calcium. 1 cup of dry Teff: Fiber: 15 grams/cup, protein: 26 grams/cup.

Oldways, Whole Grain Council: “This nutritious and easy-to-grow type of millet is largely unknown outside of Ethiopia, India and Australia. Today it is getting more attention for its sweet, molasses-like flavor and its versatility; it can be cooked as porridge, added to baked goods, or even made into “teff polenta.” Teff grows in three colors: red, brown and white.”

I have had teff in breads but I have not tried cooking with it. I like the sweet, molasses flavor. I bought a package of red teff to try.
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Medical Marijuana Update
posted August 22nd, 2016

kentucky032003_fig2_hrI thought that I would have good news this week for those who advocate & use Medical Cannabis. Unfortunately the new decision by the DEA isn’t quite what we all expected. I want to explore the reasons & implications of the new ruling.

What exactly did the Drug Enforcement Agency report? Here is a link to the official announcement. DEA official site…August 11, 2016, DEA Announces Actions Related to Marijuana and Industrial Hemp: “The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced several marijuana- related actions, including actions regarding scientific research and scheduling of marijuana, as well as principles on the cultivation of industrial hemp under the Agricultural Act of 2014.” The last section concerning industrial hemp leaves the legality of industrial hemp CBD oil products up in the air also.

Washington Post…8/11/16… U.S. affirms its prohibition on medical marijuana: “The government refused again Thursday to allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes, reaffirming its conclusion that the drug’s therapeutic value has not been proved scientifically and defying a growing clamor to legalize it for the treatment of a variety of conditions.

In an announcement in the Federal Register and a letter to petitioners, the Drug Enforcement Administration turned down requests to remove marijuana from “Schedule I,” which classifies it as a drug with “no currently accepted medical use” in the United States and precludes doctors from prescribing it.” This defies logic in my humble opinion. The DEA has, until now, effectively blocked any real research into the medical uses of cannabis by restricting the availability of “legal DEA grown crops” for research purposes. They have ignored the painstaking research that has been done & published because the source of the cannabis is questionable or the research has not been from the United States.

This ruling has been a major blow in California. The upcoming November ballot, in California, includes Proposition 64 to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. “A “yes” vote is a vote in favor of legalizing marijuana and hemp under state law and enacting certain sales and cultivation taxes.” An interesting development. Medical Cannabis is already legal in California.

Los Angeles Times…8/13/16… DEA ends its monopoly on marijuana growing for medical research: “The federal government is ending its decades-old monopoly on marijuana production for medical research as the Drug Enforcement Administration announced Thursday that it was bowing to changing times. The agency said it would begin allowing researchers and drug companies to use pot grown in places other than its well-secured facility at the University of Mississippi.” This is the good news. Now, other facilities will be allowed to grow the strain of cannabis that they want to research. The results should change the DEA’s “mind” in future. The “bad news” is that the DEA will have certain requirements for that research, which will include tight security measures. These measures will be costly & may even cause major research facilities in universities to opt out.
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Updates: Alcohol, Supplements, & Diet.
posted August 15th, 2016

I mentioned in last weeks post that ~maybe~ I would talk about the latest studies on alcohol & cancer, dietary supplements, & meat eaters vs. plant based diets. Several NUTs emailed me that they were very interested in being updated.

The most recent study from the University of Otago, in New Zealand, as reported by Medscape last week: No Confusion: Alcohol Causes Seven Cancers. “There is “strong evidence” that alcohol causes seven cancers, and other evidence indicates that it “probably” causes more, according to a new literature review published online July 21 in Addiction.

Epidemiologic evidence supports a causal association of alcohol consumption and cancers of the oropharynx, larynx, esophagus, liver, colon, rectum, and female breast, says Jennie Connor, MB, ChB, MPH, from the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago, in Dunegin, New Zealand. In short, alcohol causes cancer.”

This is a very good article & well worth the read. It explains how the use of certain words diminish the results of scientific research in the eyes of the public as well as other scientists: “The use of causal language in scientific and public discussions is “patchy,” she writes. For example, articles and newspaper stories often use expressions such as “alcohol-related cancer” and “alcohol-attributable cancer”; they refer to a “link” between alcohol and cancer and to the effect of alcohol on “the risk of cancer.”

These wordings “incorporate an implicit causal association, but are easily interpreted as something less than cancer being caused by drinking,” observes Dr Connor.” This is true with the results of most studies. The public then interprets the wording to coincide with what they want to hear. Even when we talk about a “direct link”, the word link can be thought of as a possibility. We use mind tricks to bend information to our liking. A very human thing to do.

In the article is the following quote which should be seen as an absolute, no question & no confusion: “One British expert had an opinion about alcohol’s carcinogenicity. In a statement about the new review, Prof Dorothy Bennett, director of the Molecular and Clinical Sciences Research Institute at St. George’s, University of London, said: “Alcohol enters cells very easily, and is then converted into acetaldehyde, which can damage DNA and is a known carcinogen.” I recommend that you read this article & decide for yourself. I don’t see the confusion behind all of the previous research done. In my mind, alcohol causes cancer just like smoking causes cancer. The tobacco & alcohol industry have an incentive to keep us confused about research that damages their products use. It is ultimately your decision.
supplement 1


New study sounds the alarm on dietary supplements CBS News: “A new investigation may have you rethinking some of your vitamins.

Consumer Reports finds certain ingredients in dietary supplements sold around the country can carry major health risks, including heart palpitations, allergic reactions and pain, reports CBS Sports’ Dana Jacobson.”

Other headlines asked; are your dietary supplements killing you? I am not a supplement fan unless your blood work by a reputable physician shows that you have a deficiency that diet alone will not help. Yet, I think these headlines are misleading & unfair. As the article I cited states: it is the “extra ingredients” in the supplements that are causing major problems. “A new study by Consumer Reports outlined health risks associated with dietary supplements — including vitamins, probiotics and weight-loss aids. Unlike drug products that must be proven safe and effective, dietary supplements do not have to go through FDA approval….“It could be adulterated, it could be counterfeit, it could be hiding prescription drugs,” Gill said.” I have discussed this before. This is a true statement. The supplement industry itself has been setting up safeguards to assure that, what the label says is in the product, is in fact, what is in the product!
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Depression Era/WWII Cooking
posted August 8th, 2016

Anyone-Can-BakeI was looking through my mother’s & grandmother’s recipes, for one my grandson asked me for, when it struck me how frugal they were with their ingredients & portion sizes. They both lived through the Great Depression & World War II, which explains a lot. Were you told to clean your plate? Did you also hear “waste not want not” (which actually goes back to the 1700’s & possibly earlier)? In our grandparents era these admonitions were meant to stop wasting food.

I thought it would be more fun to explore some cookbooks & recipes from this era rather than talk about the new study on why supplements are killing you, meat eaters die younger than plant eaters & the link between alcohol & 7 cancers. We can talk about that another time…maybe

The Great Depression (1929-39) began after the stock market crash of 1929. What interests me during this time frame is how people had to change the way they ate & cooked. The economy was at its lowest, no jobs & no money to buy food. By 1939 the U.S. was preparing for WWII. They needed to insure that enough food was available for our troops overseas. “On January 30, 1942, the Emergency Price Control Act granted the Office of Price Administration (OPA) the authority to set price limits and ration food and other commodities in order to discourage hoarding and ensure the equitable distribution of scarce resources. By the spring, Americans were unable to purchase sugar without government-issued food coupons. Vouchers for coffee were introduced in November, and by March of 1943, meat, cheese, fats, canned fish, canned milk and other processed foods were added to the list of rationed provisions.” After the war these restrictions were lifted, but sugar remained a rationed item until 1947.

In addition to rationing, people were encouraged to grow their own food. When you think of the advent of Victory Gardens, you automatically think of WWII. They actually started during WWI. The U.S. government encouraged every American to grow fruits & vegetables on any plot of land they could find: “sow the seeds of victory”. In 1917 there were 3 million new garden plots & by 1918, 5 million! The government offered pamphlets & classes on agriculture, canning & drying food. The gardens dropped off after the war but were reestablished at the beginning of WWII. With rationing came a big incentive to have a garden. For more information about this time period, see my resource list at the end of this post.

We now have community gardens, to encourage us to eat healthier, reconnect with our food & to enjoy the closeness of the community of gardeners. Check out a Community Garden near you:

Encinitas Community Garden
San Diego Community Garden Network This site has a map that shows all the community gardens including North County. They also show where there are gardening classes.
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Pantry staples & new recipes.
posted August 1st, 2016

August-veggiesOur garden is flourishing right now with many different vegetables. Some are old favorites like potatoes, carrots, peas & broccoli. Some I have never heard of; my husband loves to try new types of greens. So, I need some new, simple recipes to keep up! I enjoy going through magazines, websites & older cookbooks for recipes. There are so many out there!

I have found that cooking from scratch doesn’t have to be difficult. Time consuming, yes But if you make large batches, portions can be frozen. The key is to keep it simple, starting with your pantry.

I have been asked, by many of you, what I keep in my pantry & what type of food processor I use. The only “culinary machines” I have in my pantry are: a Bullet blender, an immersion blender, a slow cooker (crock-pot), toaster oven & my Vitamix. They are simple to use & all I have needed. The most important implements are my mismatched knives Chopping & dicing veggies can be a mindfulness event. A way of slowing down & connecting to your food.

Let’s look at what staples I have in my pantry & then go on to some recipes.

My pantry staples include the following ~ all are organic.

Various dried beans: pinto, chili, kidney, soldier, garbanzo, lentils &13 bean mix. I store them in quart, large mouth, canning jars.
Grains: quinoa & different types of rice. My favorite is black rice because of its nutty taste. I also keep brown rice for recipes that need a “plainer” rice. Also stored in quart, large mouth, canning jars.
Rolled & steel cut oats.
Pasta. Plain old semolina.
Raw nuts & seeds: walnuts, cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds & whatever I find on sale. Also stored in quart, large mouth, canning jars.
Canned organic diced & roasted tomatoes (BPA free can)
4 ounce cans of diced green chilies. Wonderful to throw into any stir-fry, bean pot etc.
Whole grain cereal.
Whole grain crackers.
Spices & dried herbs. The herbs are from my herbal garden.
Nutritional yeast: on popcorn & veggies gives buttery flavor.
My favorite broth: …
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July 2016

Artificial Sweeteners
posted July 25th, 2016

Artificial sweeteners are always in the news. The big question & debate has been if they are safe or not. This week that is not why they are newsworthy. The debate this time is whether or not a new study is correct in concluding that artificial sweeteners can cause an increase in appetite of 30% resulting in a weight gain. Along with this news, Pepsi had decided to drop the artificial sweetener aspartame from its Diet Pepsi sodas, but has changed its mind. I want to address all three issues: are they safe, do they cause weight gain & why did Pepsi drop aspartame in their diet sodas in the first place.

Sugar-Free-PhotoWe are on a constant quest to find the perfect substitute for sugar. I would wager that billions of dollars have been spent in laboratories to find this liquid gold. I would like to share this article with you because it shows the lengths we go to, to find that perfect calorie free sweetener. The authors search leads him to “the miracle berry”: In Search of the Perfect Sweetener. Here are a few quotes from the author, Michael Mosley. “I have had a love affair with sugar that has lasted all of my life. I adore the sweet stuff and in my youth knocked back gallons of sugary drinks and ate as many desserts as I could sink my teeth into.

Unfortunately it is a love affair that has brought me nothing but grief. The sugar I gleefully ate and drank rotted my teeth, so that almost every tooth in my face has had to be filled, drilled or replaced. All those sugary carbs also helped pile on the fat, which sent my blood sugar levels soaring.”

In the article he states: “For years now there has been a vigorous debate as to whether using artificial sugars will help you lose weight or not. A recent meta-analysis which looked at the results of more than 100 different human studies concluded that when artificial sweeteners replace sugar in the diet (rather than simply being added on top) then this can lead to weight loss.

The Harvard School of Public Health, however, points out that there are lots of conflicting studies, including those which suggest that drinking artificially sweetened drinks may increase your risk, not just of weight gain, but of type 2 diabetes. No-one really knows how artificial sugars could do this but a study done by a group in Israel suggests it might be via the impact of artificial sugar on your gut bacteria.

In this study, published last year in the science journal, Nature, the Israeli researchers asked a group of lean and healthy volunteers who didn’t normally use artificial sweeteners to consume the maximum acceptable dose for a week. At the end of the week half the volunteers were showing signs of glucose intolerance, an early step in the journey to type 2 diabetes. The researchers think this could be because the bacteria in their guts reacted to the artificial sugars by secreting substances that cause inflammation. This is certainly what they have seen in animals.” A healthy gut is extremely important. We have learned that there is a direct connection between brain & gut. What affects the gut, affects the brain.
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Hooray for Pasta!
posted July 18th, 2016

Who doesn’t love pasta! I was so excited to see this new study: Italian researchers say pasta isn’t fattening : “Researchers at Istituto Neurologico Mediterraneo Neuromed I.R.C.C.S. said their findings suggest pasta consumption is associated with a lower body mass index, or BMI. After reviewing the data from two significant epidemiological studies, researchers determined that pasta consumption was not linked to a higher rate of obesity. They found the opposite.” …..”Iacoviello says that followers of the Mediterranean diet can consume pasta as they would other components of the diet — in moderation.” Hmm, there is that word again, moderation

I read the research study & several articles about this revelation. What they are saying is that the pasta itself is not “fattening or bad”. It has been a staple in the Mediterranean diet dating back to the ancient Etruscan civilization. For more information about it’s history: International Pasta Organization. This is before obesity. Pasta probably got its “bad” reputation from the sauce. It has gone from a healthy vegetable topping to sauces with high amounts of salt, sugar & fat.

Pasta is a processed food, but one that has a simple ingredient list. Traditional pasta is made from semolina durum flour, salt, egg & water. Pasta is easy to make: Basic Pasta Recipe with Egg. Most pasta you buy in the U.S. is made from semolina durum flour, salt & water. You can also make this eggless pasta at home: Eggless Pasta

penneI prefer to buy my pasta to have on hand. Such a simple, healthy, & fast meal. The brand I use is Bionaturae/Durum Semolina. This brand also has gluten free pasta & whole wheat pasta. I love pasta & I like it cooked al dente. I can’t achieve this with rice pasta or even whole wheat. I just don’t like the texture. Bionaturae’s gluten free is made with rice flour & potato starch. It is the best texture I have found. Their whole wheat is very good as well. But I still prefer the simple durum semolina pasta. Look at their website product list. Their canned products are BPA free!

Pasta comes in lots of shapes & sizes. Pasta Shapes Dictionary: “There is a pasta shape to complement every pasta dish out there. Pairing the correct pasta shape can make a big difference in your overall satisfaction when cooking.
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Raw Food Warnings
posted July 11th, 2016

My-Plate-1-e1438021039148If you have had chemotherapy or radiation, you have probably been warned at some time during your treatment, to not eat any raw meats, fish, vegetables, fruits & dairy. Then you panicked. For how long! What do I eat for goodness sake! I just got on this great plant based diet! No need to panic. Usually this warning lasts for a few weeks until your immune system is stronger.

Sometimes during treatment your immune system is compromised, weakened. During this time you need to stay away from any organisms like bacteria that can make you sick. You know that if a friend or family member is ill that you should stay away from them or at least wear a mask. The same precautions need to be taken with cooked & raw foods.

You may have seen the headlines this week; “Don’t Eat Raw Cookie Dough!” A lot of people were traumatized when they saw this, including my husband We have already been told not to eat cookie dough if it contains raw eggs due to the possibility of salmonella. This time, however, it is because of the flour used in the recipe. The FDA is warning us not to eat any raw batters: cookie dough, bread dough, cake batter etc.

Wheat flour comes from the milling of wheat grain. The FDA states that it is possible that animal waste could contaminate the grains in the field. Sometimes there is E-coli in the waste. Since the milled flour isn’t heated, the bacteria can thrive. Okay, this is true, but it doesn’t happen very often. If you have a compromised immune system then to be safe, it is a good idea to stay away from raw dough of all kinds.

Vegetables & fruits also come from fields where there is bacteria in the soil. This includes Organic veggies & fruits as well. Washing them does not kill or wash away 100% of the bacteria. It doesn’t matter what kind of wash you use, some bacteria can survive. Chances of you becoming ill are low, but ~I think~ you should err on the side of caution.

What you can do during this time is steam or grill a variety of vegetables that you enjoy: zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, onions, garlic etc. Steam them until they are cooked but still have a crunchy texture. You have killed the bacteria. Now place them in the refrigerator to chill. You can serve them cold or hot with a salad dressing. You can be creative with the mix of veggies & add spices to the dressing. Grilled Vegetable Salad is wonderful! I marinate them first. Hot German Potato salad is a good option also. I would use olive oil instead of bacon grease, but if you choose to use the bacon grease, use it in moderation.
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Bone Broth
July 5th, 2016

For the week of July 4th, Mary is sharing the latest article from our Contributing Writer’s page. Check it out on Mary’s Reality-Based Nutrition Blog Page, or on the SDCRI Contributing Writer’s page.

June 2016

Fat Update
posted June 27th, 2016

It is difficult to wade through all the fad diets that appear on the Internet. Some promise weight-loss, getting rid of belly fat, weight-gain & more. We spend a lot of time worrying about what to eat. We look for “super foods” to add to our diet. We restrict nutrients by eating foods based on what diets celebrities are using at the time. We also believe what the government recommends each year. Just look at the non-fat diet craze of the 1980’s. When will we learn?

We have discussed fat in our diets several times. We learned that the non-fat diet fad did not help obesity or our health. Actually, it caused problems due to fact that our body needs fat to work properly. The Government’s yearly diet guidelines, 2015-2020, includes the following:

A Healthy Eating Pattern Includes:
•Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages
•A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), soy products, and nuts and seeds
•Oils, including those from plants: canola, corn, olive, peanut, safflower, soybean, and sunflower. Oils also are naturally present in nuts, seeds, seafood, olives, and avocados.

Then in 2016 the headlines screamed….”Eat Bacon, Butter & Eggs Every Day” This next article is very interesting. They quote my favorite author.

Whole milk is okay. Butter and eggs too. What’s next — bacon? Good article. “We asked him, (Michael Pollen), to elaborate on his famous instruction to “eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” He writes: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. All you need to know. Yes, we constantly divide the nutritional landscape into good and evil nutrients. There are several problems with this manichaen approach to food, but one is that, as soon as you demonize one nutrient — say, fat — you give a free pass to another, supposedly less-evil nutrient — carbs. What I call the Snackwell’s phenomenon, after that Nabisco line of no-fat junk food in the 1980s. Since these cookies, crackers and chips didn’t contain any of the evil nutrients, people felt they could binge on them. This is story of the low-fat campaign writ small: consumption of fat in absolute terms remained steady while consumption of supposedly innocent carbs skyrocketed. Nutritionism is a great way to sell food, since you can market the absence of evil nutrients or the presence of blessed ones, but its not a good way to eat. Which is why we got fat during the years of the low-fat campaign.” He is so right about labeling ingredients “evil” or “good”. This is exactly what happened to fat. It is also a brilliant way to sell food. Think about how many “super foods” have popped up in the last 5 years. How many did you buy based on the marketing? Acai berries, kale & quinoa are great examples of this.

I believe that the typical American feels that in all things, including medications, if one is good then 10 are better! More is just simply more. So if an “evil” food is bad then the “blessed” foods can be eaten all day! Moderation is the key.
So what is new with fat? Well,…
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A Healthy Lifestyle Reduces Cancer Risks.
posted June 13th, 2016

salt-photo-300x300According to the FDA, the average American consumes 3,400 mgm of sodium per day. This is equal to approximately 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt. 75% of this comes from added salt in processed food & food prepared in restaurants . The FDA is asking the food & restaurant industry to voluntarily cut the amount of salt in their products over the next 2 years. The target is to reduce the consumers average intake from 3,400 mgm to 2,300 mgm per day.

The reason behind this? FDA issues draft guidance to food industry for voluntarily reducing sodium in processed and commercially prepared food

“Americans consume almost 50 percent more sodium than what most experts recommend. One in three individuals has high blood pressure, which has been linked to diets high in sodium and is a major risk factor cause of heart disease and stroke. That number climbs to one in two African Americans and even includes one in 10 children aged 8-17. While a majority of Americans reports watching or trying to reduce added salt in their diets, the deck has been stacked against them. The majority of sodium intake comes from processed and prepared foods, not the salt shaker.”

Salt contains the electrolyte/mineral sodium as well as chloride. The body needs sodium to control the volume of blood by attracting & holding water. This maintains your blood pressure. Sodium controls the total amount of water in & outside of your cells, maintaining fluid balance. It is also important in how muscles & nerves function.

Too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure in some people. This in turn can lead to heart disease. Low sodium levels are uncommon & are usually caused by diarrhea, malnutrition & heart failure.

This article, FDA takes aim at sodium in packaged & prepared foods, on the Mayo Clinic website is especially informative. Take time to read the entire article. Here are two excerpts: “Efforts to reduce sodium intake over the past 40 years have been mainly educational and are not successful. Americans are still consuming too much sodium, approximately 1.5 times more than they should be. Approximately three-quarters of the sodium in Americans’ diets comes from sodium added to foods during manufacturing and at restaurants. Therefore, lowering most everyone’s intake of sodium must involve those preparing commercial foods. Why do packaged and restaurant foods have so much sodium? Sodium or salt in food limits bacterial growth, adds stability and enhances flavor.”

“There has been controversy over lowering sodium intake. A 2013 Institute of Medicine report confirmed a positive relationship between higher levels of sodium intake and the risk of heart disease. It also found both substantial evidence of population benefit and no evidence of harm associated with reductions in sodium intake down to 2,300 mg a day.”
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Becoming a Healthy Vegan.
posted June 6th, 2016

Becoming a vegan is simple; quit eating all animal products. Becoming a healthy vegan is a bit more complicated. As with any way of eating, we must take care in our nutritional choices.

A cupcake, candy bar, cookies, breads, pasta dishes, & more can be vegan. Not all vegan products are necessarily the healthiest of choices. In general you should follow the same dietary suggestions as anyone else. No alcohol, avoid processed foods, read the labels, avoid added sugars, eat a plant based diet, exercise etc.

In my opinion there are 2 types of vegans; those looking for a healthier way of eating & those who embrace the healthy, compassionate, vegan lifestyle. Both are wonderfully healthy ways to live. In the second type, embracing the vegan lifestyle also means compassion towards animals. Here are a few examples.

No honey: as it exploits the bees.
No leather goods: buying leather perpetuates the abuse of animals.
No ridding of horses, mules or any other animal: exploits the animal & can lead to abuse & injuries.
Racing of dogs, horses & other animals: also exploits the animal & can lead to abuse & injuries.

I am going to concentrate on the vegan diet, not the lifestyle. Among famous vegans are doctors, athletes, artists, actors & great thinkers. From their examples, we know that being a vegan can be a healthy choice. We just need to understand what a healthy vegan diet looks like so we get all the nutrients our body needs to function.

This is the vegan pyramid from: Ordinary Vegan
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May 2016

A Healthy Lifestyle Reduces Cancer Risks.
posted May 31st, 2016

Redwood-by-KimThe health news this past week has been about decreasing the risk of most cancers through a healthy lifestyle. Several studies have been done in this area. One study concerns reducing the risk for breast cancer among white women no matter what their genetic markers are showing. Another study was done to show lifestyle changes could drastically reduce the risk of most cancers.

The “healthy lifestyle” these studies are talking about is basically what we have been discussing on our site since the beginning. We are way ahead of them
•Moderate to no alcohol.
•No smoking. Never have or have quit.
•Maintain a healthy weight (BMI between 18.5 & 27.5) This is not a bad range when you look at the BMI chart.
•Have a weekly exercise program of at least 1 1/2 hours of moderate intensity. That would be 30 minutes a day/5 days a week.
•In addition; women who decreased their breast cancer risk in the study did not use hormone replacement therapy after menopause.

These studies were done with Caucasians only. The results are unknown for the ethnic population. I would think that no matter what ethnic group you belong to, the above list would cut the risk of most cancers. The researchers just don’t know by how much.

New method for predicting breast cancer risk suggests about 30% of cases could be prevented: May 31, 2016: “Ask almost any health-conscious woman who’s mustered under a giant pink ribbon, and she’ll tell you what an American woman’s chances are of getting breast cancer in her lifetime: one-in-eight.

But that’s a national average. And as the relative influence of genes, behavior and environmental factors on cancer risk come into clearer focus, women increasingly have begun to understand that they’re not all average.

New research is helping to refine those numbers, and to clarify what it would take for a woman to reduce her risk of developing breast cancer. It concludes that, at some point in her life span, a 30-year-old white woman in the United States has a probability of developing breast cancer that lies somewhere between 4.4% and 23.5%.

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New & improved food labels are coming!
posted May 23rd, 2016

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration has announced that they are making over the food labels for most packaged foods. The current food label, to the left below, was introduced 20 years ago. The label has been changed only a few times since then. For example, trans fats, was added in 2006. The new label will be out on packaged foods, those regulated by the FDA, by 2018.

Here are the old vs. the new label format from the FDA

Side-by-Side Comparison: Chart with a side-by-side comparison of the original nutrition facts label on the left and the new nutrition facts label on the right.

Let’s look at the key changes from the FDA press release: “FDA modernizes Nutrition Facts label for packaged foods

Key Updates

The new Nutrition Facts label will include the following.

An updated design to highlight “calories” and “servings,” two important elements in making informed food choices. This is an important part of the label. It tells you how many servings are in the package & how many calories there are per serving. Having it bold or highlighted is a very good idea.

Requirements for serving sizes that more closely reflect the amounts of food that people currently eat. What and how much people eat and drink has changed since the last serving size requirements were published in 1993. By law, the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act, requires that serving sizes be based on what people actually eat. I am in total disagreement with this change. Note the key words here: serving sizes are based on what people actually eat. It will not be based on ideal portions. Our plates are larger & our portions are larger than in 1993. The amounts people actually eat, does not necessarily reflect a “healthy choice”. Years ago I visited the Ben & Jerry’s original location in Vermont. On the tour, the guide pointed out that a 3.6 ounce carton of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream was considered a single serving in Japan & they were sold that way there. In the U.S. the smallest carton sold as a single serving was a pint (2 cups). The guide said that the 3.6 ounce didn’t sell here I see on line that the 3.6 ounce carton is now sold in a “party pack” of 12. I have never seen them in a grocery store. Says a lot about how we eat.
Serving size changes…
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In the News!
posted May 16th, 2016


Lots of interesting articles in the news this week. The FDA has decided to redefine “healthy” foods The UK is looking at yogurt & obesity, antibiotics in animal feed is back in the news, & a warning regarding kids & gluten free products. There is also a new study on foods that lower the risk of breast cancer. I have some fun stuff too! Here we go!

What does the term, “healthy food choices”, mean to you? Maybe a granola bar instead of a Snickers, or iced green tea instead of a coke. To the FDA, a “healthy” food label means low fat. Because of new research that shows that some fats, like nuts, are healthy, the FDA must now reconsider what products can use the term “healthy”.

Why The FDA Is Re-Evaluating The Nutty Definition Of ‘Healthy’ Food: “Currently, if a food company wants to put a “healthy” claim on its label, regulations stipulate that it must be very low in fat. The specific rules are complex, but, for instance, a snack food can contain no more than 3 grams of fat for a regular-size serving. This means that many snacks that include nuts don’t qualify as healthy.

The FDA says that in light of evolving nutrition research, it is now planning to solicit public and expert comment to come up with a new definition that will help consumers make informed choices.” The makers of Kind brand bars were the instigators in this change. You, as a consumer, do have a say in what the FDA regulates. Check out the article.

In another article: FDA to Re-examine What Makes a Food ‘Healthy’ “The nutritional landscape and knowledge of what constitutes a healthy diet has changed considerably since 1994, when the FDA first officially used the term “healthy.” Back then, health advocates were taking aim at fats — not sugar or gluten — which are among today’s targets. By those old standards, sugary cereals like raisin bran might be considered a healthier option than an avocado, which contains “good” monounsaturated fat.” Time to make these changes!


The next news article, from BBC Health News, intrigued me because of the title: What yoghurt tells us about the obesity fight Even though this article is from the UK, it is the same story in the USA. “It’s one of the most common items in our shopping basket. We spend more on it than we do on crisps and bacon. In its normal state – natural full-fat – it’s pretty good for you. It can boost your immune system, is good for your bones and is great at satisfying hunger…
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Cannabiodiol: CBD Oil
posted May 9th, 2016

With new laws in many states legalizing medical marijuana, people are confusing CBD oil from industrial hemp with CBD oil from marijuana. CBD oil from industrial hemp is legal to sell in most states including California. You do not need a physicians recommendation or a medical marijuana card to purchase it. I will explain the difference between the two, the research behind CBD oil, what it is used for, & what you need to know to purchase it safely.

From a previous article I wrote about Cannabis Sativa under Topics:

Here is a brief history of cannabis from WebMD: “ In 1937, the U.S. Treasury began taxing Cannabis under the Marijuana Tax Act at one dollar per ounce for medicinal use and one hundred dollars per ounce for recreational use. The American Medical Association (AMA) opposed this regulation of Cannabis and did not want studies of its potential medicinal benefits to be limited. In 1942, Cannabis was removed from the U.S. Pharmacopoeia because of continuing concerns about its safety. In 1951, Congress passed the Boggs Act, which included Cannabis with narcotic drugs for the first time. Under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, marijuana was classified as a Schedule I drug. Other Schedule I drugs include heroin, LSD, mescaline, methaqualone, and gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB).” The Boggs Act included industrial hemp, because it is also Cannabis Sativa, making it illegal to grow. In July of this year, the DEA may remove all Cannabis from Schedule 1. Not only will this decriminalize its use but it will open up research studies.

Definitions you should know:

THC: Tetrahydrocannabidinol: the active ingredient in cannabis, giving it its narcotic and psychoactive effects. Collins EnglishDictionary

CBD: Cannabidiol is a compound in cannabis that has medical effects but does not make people feel “stoned” and can actually counter the psychoactive effects of THC. Project CBD website

Medical Marijuana: Cannabis Sativa that has been hybridized into many new plants to increase the psychotropic effects. It has a THC content of between 5-20%. New strains can have as much as 25-30% THC.

Industrial hemp: Cannabis Sativa that historically was hybridized to maximize the fiber, seed and oil content. It has a THC content of between 0.05 & 1%. “CBD oil is extracted from the flowers, leaves, and stalks of hemp. Its properties are more beneficial for treatment and prevention of illnesses and ailments. All of these benefits come with no psychoactive response in the system.” from HoneyColony.

Industrial Hemp is illegal to grow in the United States because it is lumped in with Cannabis Sativa, on Schedule 1; even though it is low in THC. It is legal to import hemp products into the United States because it is low in THC More than 30 countries worldwide grow industrial hemp, including Canada. Marijuana is illegal in most of these countries because the two plants have been separated by their THC content as well as by the genetic differences between the plants.

Interesting to note: Excerpt from the Canna Law Blog… The Precarious Legal Status of CBD: “Though the DEA has no enforcement power over hemp products, it does control hemp cultivation. In order to grow hemp in the U.S., you have to have a permit from the DEA which the DEA typically never issues. Therefore, cultivating hemp without a permit to do so from the DEA remains a federal crime. The only exception is the 2014 federal Farm Bill which allows state departments of agriculture, universities, and colleges to cultivate hemp without a permit from the DEA for educational and research purposes. Because of the prohibition on hemp cultivation without a DEA permit, the hemp products we see in the U.S. typically come from hemp imported from overseas. This means that companies and individuals may freely sell CBD derived from processed hemp (not from marijuana), imported from outside the U.S….
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Mastering Healthy Eating on a Budget by Chef Jessica.
posted May 2nd, 2016

jessica-red-shirtThis weeks post is an article that my friend, Chef Jessica Leibovich, wrote. Jessica is this months Contributing Writer for our nonprofit, The San Diego Cancer Research Institute. If you haven’t discovered this page, then click on the link above & enjoy the many informative articles we have show cased.

Your Complete Guide to Mastering Healthy Eating on a Budget:

Many families spend up to half of the money they earn monthly on meals making it one of the largest expenses. It doesn’t have to be, though, there are ways to keep the food costs down and still eat healthy delicious meals. Healthy eating isn’t rocket science, but our stressful and busy lives make convenience items and restaurants seem more appealing than a healthy and budgeted home prepared meal. If you make healthy eating convenient and affordable at the same time, you’ll have no problem switching to better food. It will just become a regular habit.

Healthy doesn’t always mean expensive, but it always means real. Real food is healthy. Eating whole is eating healthy. If it is in a box or a bag, just because it does not have a lot of calories, does not mean it is healthy. Make your own food! Eat fresh, eat whole.

If you are not used to cooking your own food, there will be a bit of an initial investment in stocking the kitchen but you will quickly see it pay off as you eat from home more and more often.

I also strongly suggest you get a good kitchen knife. This will make cooking more enjoyable. You do not need to buy an expensive set. Having just one chef’s knife and a good paring knife, is really all you need.

Here are two great knives that will literally last a lifetime (if you treat them well).
•Chef’s Knife:
•Paring Knife:

Chef Jessica’s Top Ten Tips to Healthy Eating on a Budget:
1. Do your own grocery shopping and cooking for as many meals as you can…
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April 2016


Deciphering the FDA Food Pyramid.
posted April 25th, 2016

When I look at the FDA food pyramid & serving recommendations for each food group, I ask myself what a serving really is. Are all servings the same? If not, what is the difference?

It is important to understand what constitutes a serving of vegetables for example. Otherwise it can be overwhelming to think about eating 5 servings! Let’s look at each food group & what we would need to eat according to this pyramid. I am using the older version of the pyramid because it is easier to teach from & to compare to alternative versions.


Bread, Cereal, Rice & Pasta Group: 6-11 servings per day. Serving sizes:
•1 slice of bread.
•1/2 cup of cooked cereal such as Oatmeal.
•1/2 cup cooked pasta.
•1/2 cup cooked rice.
•1 cup of dry, prepared cereal such as Whole Grain Flakes.

Vegetable Group: 3-5 servings per day. Serving sizes:
•1/2 cup chopped raw or cooked vegetables.
•1 cup of leafy raw vegetables.
•1 small baked potato.
•1 medium tomato.
•1/2 cup spaghetti sauce (meatless).

Fruit Group: 2-4 servings per day. Serving sizes:
•1 piece of fruit or melon wedge…
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Processed food.
posted April 18th, 2016

When discussing healthy nutrition choices we talk about avoiding processed foods. Lets explore what the word processed means in terms of nutrition. What food items come under this category? Is there such a thing as a healthy processed food? Let’s take a look.

This post idea started when I read an article from Fooducate: Is All Processed Food Bad for Me? The term “processed food” conjures images of junk food constructed from unhealthy ingredients. The Fooducate community knows that we constantly promote the consumption of minimally processed fare. But what exactly is processed food? Is all processed food bad for you by default? Let’s define “food processing”: this is a set of methods and techniques used to transform raw food ingredients into consumable food. Food processing can be as simple as cutting up some vegetables to prepare a salad, or as complex as manufacturing a Twinkie in multiple manufacturing facilities.” This article is very interesting. The author delves into the history of processing foods. After reading it, I started thinking about forbidden “processed foods” and what they are. Where do we draw the line.

The act of processing, as stated in the article, can be as simple as chopping up vegetables for a meal. Obviously this type of processing isn’t what we are talking about.

The United States Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, Section 201, Chapter II defines processed food as “any food other than a raw agricultural commodity and includes any raw agricultural commodity that has been subject to processing, such as canning, cooking, freezing, dehydration, or milling.” These are all ways to preserve food. It enables us to have fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts etc., anytime we want them. Using these methods ourselves, gives us the opportunity to add only what we want to the process. Canning fruits & vegetables can be done without sugar & with very little salt. Freezing bananas is a wonderful way to have them on hand for smoothies & recipes. I use the oven to dehydrate an abundance of Kale, making the leaves into chips. I don’t mill grains anymore but enjoyed the fresh flour when I did.

Not many people have the time to can, dehydrate, mill, or even to cook anymore. The cancer patient’s routine certainly doesn’t leave extra time nor extra personal energy to tackle even the basic daily activities. The changes in lifestyles leading to a faster paced life led manufacturers to come up with processing foods to extend their shelf life for busy people. Because it is done on a large scale, processed foods are generally cheaper.

These are just a few ways of processing foods. Some are mechanical & some are chemical processes.
•Smoking: Meats, fish & even tofu.
•Irradiation: Contraversial! Used on fruits & vegetables, flour & spices. Controls insect manifestation, sprouting of vegetables, & it slows the ripening of fruits
•Freeze-drying: Fruits & vegetables.
•Pasteurizing: Dairy. The purpose is to destroy all pathogens, reduce the number of bacteria, inactivate enzymes and extend the shelf life of a food product.
•Pickling: Vegetables, eggs, & corned beef. They are preserved in an acidic medium/brine.
•Fermentation: Kefir, buttermilk, cabbage, turnips, eggplant, cucumbers, onions, squash, and carrots. Yeast or ferment is added to a liquid mixture of milk, water, & a food. The yeast is allowed to grow. It has the effect of converting the sugar to other compounds.
•Vacuum packs: Coffee, & nuts are good examples.
•Sugaring: Ginger & other fruits. Flowers are sugared for decorations on baked goods.

Foods that are processed but are healthy choices: read the ingredient list!…
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posted April 11th, 2016

photo-1-Copy-2-624x466“Nature in its glory at a rest stop!” Photo by MHollander
For some reason I have been receiving articles & reminders to simply breathe. I am not sure if I am sending out >>STRESS<< signals or what. But the reminder to just breathe is always welcome. After all it is TAX season! That alone is stressful. Adding in doctors appointments, tests, bills and more; we are heading for a crash caused by stress.

When I have discussed improving your health & your immune system I have listed stress relief as an important tool. I have mentioned a number of excellent complementary therapies to help you with your stress: exercise, mindfulness, art, yoga, meditation to name a few. I forgot to mention the simple act of mindful breathing.

Here is a post I received on my Facebook page…..
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Eating Out & other news.
posted April 4th, 2016

Crab-shackWe all need a trip to a Fast Food place or to a nice restaurant. I get tired of cooking every day. I look forward to that night without dishes 🙂 I live in a very small town. There are not a lot of choices.


PerlitasWe have a favorite Mexican food place here. It is family owned & They cook with fresh, basic ingredients. They will make anything vegetarian or vegan if you ask. I am in love with their potato tacos. I skip the sour cream but keep the homemade guacamole. A new place just opened that serves a homemade veggie burger that is very good. I like this place because you can add what you want to it. They also have fries that are amazing. Eating out doesn’t have to be stressful or unhealthy.

Here are some suggestions when eating out. Bottom line: don’t be afraid to ask for a healthier version of what you want.
•Find & study the menu on line before you go. You won’t be tempted to make unhealthy choices when feeling pressured to order.
•Order first. You may cave when you hear your dining companions order before the waitperson gets to you 🙂
•Appetizers: Skip them. They fill you up before your meal arrives & most of them are high in fat. If bread is brought to the table, ask that it be taken away. You can just order from the appetizer menu or from the “sides”. The servings are smaller.
•Avoid “all-you-can-eat” places. You will feel obligated to eat, eat & eat!
•Salad bar: Be careful of those yummy toppings. They can be full of salt, sugar & fat. Be selective & use them in moderation.
•Salad dressing can be very high in fat, sugar & salt. Ask for it on the side. You can then control the amount on your salad. Another old trick is to dip your fork into the side of dressing before each bite of salad.
•Entrees: Pasta, pizza, casserole or burrito: look at what is in it & what comes with it. Sour cream, cheese, oils, salt, & sugar can up those calories. Ask for a smaller portion, have half put in a take out box before it comes to the table, or share with your dining companion.
•Fish & meats: Ask how they are prepared. Go for the fish. If it is deep fried then ask if they can grill, bake or saute the fish or meat in a small amount of oil. Most restaurants will have a healthier version.
•Grains & potatoes: Ask for brown rice rather than white rice. Check the sides to see if they have any other options. If you order the potato then skip some of the toppings. Be choosy.
•Deserts: Sigh…the best part. My husband is great about sharing a desert. That is the only way to go short of not ordering one. It is said that the first bite & the last bite are the best anyway 🙂
•Skip the latte with whipped cream & order plain tea or coffee for after your meal.
•Starve yourself by skipping meals that day….BAD idea. If you eat a normal breakfast & lunch, you won’t be tempted to make unhealthy choices at dinner. This is true if you stay home or eat out.

One of our NUTs sent me this interesting link. 5 Things Nutritionists Order at McDonald’s. It would be funny if it wasn’t a real story. Lets look at some of their choices.
•Grilled Chicken Ranch Snack Wrap and a Side Salad: This is a good choice until the nutritionist says they order a “jug of milk for the calcium to build muscles & bone”. I am shocked that they don’t count the calcium in the salad, dressing & chicken (21 grams/8 ounces of chicken). Drink water, coffee or unsweetened ice tea.
• Premium Asian Salad with Grilled Chicken and Kids Fry I like this one. Instead of craving the fries, she orders the children’s size. Smart move.
• A Regular Hamburger and a Premium Asian Salad Again they top off the meal with a “jug of milk for protein, calcium & vitamin D”! The burger has 12 grams of protein & 10 grams of calcium. Enough for one meal.
• A Grilled Onion Cheddar Burger and a Premium Southwest Salad Good choices here. Plus, she ordered unsweetened iced tea. “This combination is the size of a meal I would make at home. It has 460 calories and around 1/3 of a day’s recommended amount of total fat, dietary fiber, and sodium.”
•Fruit and Maple Oatmeal This one bothers me. “Oatmeal is a great source of cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber, and this 1-cup serving has just 260 calories (less than a bagel!) and 18 grams of sugar — including the fruit (less than some yogurts) — plus 5 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber.” 18 grams of sugar!!! Wow, what kind of yogurt does she eat. Regular oatmeal has 1.1 grams of sugar per cup. This oatmeal has brown sugar (can be optional) & canned fruit. Thumbs down on this one.

Here is a link to the nutritional facts for everything that McDonald’s serves. It is printable: McDonald’s USA Nutrition Facts for Popular Menu Items

CBS News: 10 Healthiest Fast Food Restaurants This is an interesting article. “Our friends at surveyed the nation’s 100 largest fast food chains, as defined by the number of locations, and found that many are creating menus that look more and more like what we’d cook ourselves (if we had the time) – from nutritious soups and healthy salads to fresh whole grains and sensible desserts. Even better: They’re offering good-news Mexican, Asian, and Mediterranean fare.”

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March 2016


Nutrition Tips During Chemotherapy & Bucket Lists
posted March 28th, 2016

Ccard-meLast year I wrote an article about nutrition tips during chemotherapy for my friend Ali Gilmore’s 2nd book: The C Card and Me 2: How I Beat Stage 4 Cancer (again & again). I decided that it was time to update/add to the tips. I also wanted to add a few resources for you.

The first resource is Ali Gilmore’s page. You couldn’t ask for a better role model to follow. Her books are about the lessons she learned during her cancer journey. The books are full of useful information written with a wonderful sense of humor. She is not only an author, but a singer & song writer as well. But she didn’t stop there; her newest adventure is called 12 Adventures. Right now she is in Montana on her 2nd adventure, to learn to “mush”. Here is an article written about this: A bucket-list ride on a dog sled. I am following her on Facebook; the page is called 12 Adventures. What an amazing lady!

At the end of this post you will find a list of Blogs by other cancer survivors. You may find some of them a little “too close to home” & maybe even upsetting. I think you will also find them inspiring & easy to relate to. Regardless, they are honest about what they are going through & it helps to hear other peoples stories.

During chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy maintaining a healthy immune system should be your goal. Diet, exercise and stress management can help you attain this. My additions/edits will be in red.

Because you are an individual, not a statistic, your cancer experience will be different from anyone else’s. Keeping a food diary will be very important. I know I have said this many, many times before, but believe me this is really important. Write down the foods you eat each day. Add how you felt physically, emotionally and if you had any symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, or pain. When you experience the same side effect the next day or week go back and compare the foods you have eaten. This will help you build a list of foods that work for you and which to avoid. You will also see this changing during your treatment. What made you nauseous during chemo the first week will no longer do that by the next round of chemo. Important for you and your caregivers to know.

Apps to track your food:
•Food Diary and Calorie Tracker by MyNetDiary HD by MyNetDiary Inc.
•Nutrition Menu
•Fooducate Rates your food by healthiness. Apple/Android.

Here are a few tips to help you during treatment. Pick what works for you. You are an individual. What works for the person next to you in the chemo bay may not work for you.
•Changes in taste & smell. A metallic taste is the most common.

Avoid: Red meat & food with strong odors. Any foods that are unappealing to you at this time.

Eat: Add flavor to your food with spices. Broil or bake mild flavored meats: chicken, turkey, & fish. Try flavoring your water with lemon, cucumber and or mint.

Tips: Use plastic or wooden utensils; glass or ceramic cooking pots. Avoid metal utensils, canned foods, and metal pots & pans. Cold or room temperature foods don’t smell or taste as strong as hot food does…
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Tofu, Tempeh, Seitan, Oh My!
posted March 21st, 2016

If you have ever toyed with the idea of becoming a vegetarian or a vegan, you have probably heard about “meat substitutes”. Tofu, tempeh & seitan are the first to be recommended. What exactly are they and how do you prepare them?

Carob has been touted as a substitute for chocolate, chicory a substitute for coffee. In fact neither is true. Nothing can take the place of chocolate or coffee 🙂 Carob & chicory have their own unique taste, aroma & texture. The same with tofu, tempeh & seitan. You can make them tastes like meat but they are so much more than that.


Tofu is a bean curd. It is made by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the soft curds into white blocks. They can be soft to firm, and have very little flavor. The texture is smooth or cheese like. It has been used in Asia for thousands of years. What makes it so much fun to cook with is its ability to absorb whatever flavors you marinate or cook it in. I either fry it or bake it in a small amount of olive oil until browned. It tastes bland this way but it is a good topping on a mixed salad!

Nutritionally, in a 1/2 cup serving:
•94 Calories
•6 grams Fat: 0.9 are saturated fat
•0 Cholesterol
•9 grams Sodium
•150 mgm Potassium
•2.3 grams total Carbs
•0.4 grams fiber
•10 grams Protein


Silken tofu is soft & can be used in recipes in place of yogurt or cream. I use Silken tofu to make creamy salad dressings. My favorite is:

Creamy Poppy Seed Dressing ..I no longer know where the original recipe came from.
•1/2 cup Greek Yogurt..I use 1/2 cup Silken Tofu/soft
•1/4 cup Vegenaise
•3 tablespoons honey
•2 tablespoons Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar
•2 teaspoons poppy seeds
•dash of salt
•1 teaspoon Dijon or stone ground mustard

Whisk together. Makes about 1 cup. Refrigerate. Stir or shake before using.

For a firm block of tofu, I prefer sprouted tofu by Wildwood. I slice it or cube it depending on what I am using it for. For a stir-fry, I marinate the cubes in Shoyu or Tamari sauce for an hour before adding it to the recipe.

My husbands favorite is from the Tofu Cookery cookbook by Louise Hagler:

Barbequed Tofu Yield: 8 servings Preheat oven to 350º F.

Using frozen tofu lends a chewy texture. Try this on the grill covered with aluminum foil to save the sauce.

To Prepare the Tofu: 2 pounds firm or extra firm tofu: Freeze, thaw, squeeze dry, and cut into 1/2 inch thick strips. I use extra firm & I don’t freeze it first.

Spread a cookie sheet with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Arrange the tofu strips on the oiled cookie sheet. You can also use parchment paper for an easier cleanup 🙂

Mix together:
•1/4 cup water
•2 tablespoons peanut butter
•1 tablespoon soy sauce
•1 clove garlic, pressed or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
•1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Pour this mixture evenly over the tofu strips and press into the strips with a spatula or an open hand. Bake for about 15 minutes, then turn the pieces over and bake for about 10 minutes more.

Pour your favorite Barbeque Sauce over all and bake 10 minutes more. I bake it for about 20 minutes more. Serve with French bread and a green salad. This is delicious the next day on sprouted bread as a sandwich. You can also use tempeh instead of tofu for a different texture.

Tofu can replace eggs in a “scramble”. Easy & tasty. Saute onions, peppers, garlic & then add the crumbled tofu. Continue cooking as you would scrambled eggs. I add turmeric for it’s benefits plus it fooled my grandson’s into thinking this was an egg dish

Here are websites for tofu recipes:
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Healthy bones thru nutrition & exercise.
posted March 14th, 2016

retreathandsOur bones don’t stop growing until our late 20’s & are strongest at about age 30, then they begin to “thin” which means they lose density. This is the natural aging process. This process can be accelerated due to bad habits, medications & disease. But, there are ways to maintain & even increase bone density.

What can we do to slow down this process:

Stop smoking: Nicotine can block calcium absorption & it decreases Vitamin D levels.
Alcohol: There is a direct link to drinking alcohol, bone loss & an increase in fractures. The risk is greater the more alcohol consumed.
Salt: Your body needs sodium but too much salt leaches the calcium from your bones. The more processed a food is, the higher it is in salt. Canned foods usually have added salt. Read your labels! Fast food is heavily salted.
Caffeine: The first 3 cups of coffee have a minimal effect on calcium loss 🙂 but the more you drink the higher the risk.
Carbonation: This is a myth. Carbonated sodas do cause a loss of calcium, but not due to the carbonation. Research shows that the culprits are the high amounts of caffeine & phosphorus in the soda. You can now enjoy your Perrier.

GZumba-Vista-624x468Exercise: Check with your healthcare team before you begin an exercise program. North County Cancer Fitness is a wonderful place to safely begin. They will evaluate you before they recommend an individual exercise routine. This is just a partial list that will get you started.

Weight bearing exercises can help to build bone & stronger muscles. This means any exercise done while standing: tennis, walking, jogging.
Lifting weights will build bone & strengthen muscles. Make sure you get professional guidance.
Dancing is a great workout. It gets your pulse up & strengthens your heart, muscles, and bones. It is also good for the memory! Check out Alessandra Colfi’s Zumba classes for a gentle routine.
Gardening! My favorite pastime. All the bending, kneeling, pulling & even the watering strengthens you heart, muscles & bones. Connecting with Nature reduces stress & increases gratitude.
Yoga: Strengthens bones & muscles. It helps with balance & flexibility which decreases the risk of falling. Check our list of free Yoga classes for Cancer Patients.
Walking 30 minutes a day, 3 days a week is a good start…
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New Nutrition Resources!
posted March 7th, 2016

Frig-SuziThis week I would like to share some very good nutrition resources. They are informative, scientifically based & as a bonus have recipes. My research started with an article about the fourth annual “What’s Trending in Nutrition” Survey from Pollock Communications and Today’s Dietitian.

Annual Survey of Nutrition Experts Predicts What’s In and Out for 2016: “When it comes to forecasting nutrition trends, there are no better experts than registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs). They are at the forefront of everyday eating habits and purchasing decisions of people from all regional and economic environments. With almost two decades of working on behalf of dietitians, we know they have their finger on the pulse,” says Today’s Dietitian publisher Mara Honicker.

Here are the highlights of the survey.

1. Clean Shopping
According to the survey, RDNs agree that more consumers will base their purchasing decisions on “clean eating”, or shopping for foods that fit a plant-based diet, such as a Mediterranean-style diet. Gluten-free and Paleo diets will still be popular, but the nutrition pros’ results show that consumers will move towards “clean” vs caveman. This is fantastic news!

2. Seeds Bloom
Most registered dietitians say seeds (55%) have superfood star-power, followed by avocados (52%) and ancient grains (50%). Meanwhile, kale loses its luster. When it comes to popular beverages, green tea brews to the top. More good news. I am tired of kale 🙂

3. And the Influencer Award Goes To…
Celebrities! According to the survey, most registered dietitians believe that nutrition trends start with celebrities, with 33% citing them as the initiator of food and eating fads, while 26% name social media as having the most influence on consumer eating trends. Hmm, like celebrities are known for their great choices? When will we learn that fad diets, no matter who is singing their praises, do more harm than good to our health.

4. Protein Picks and Peaks
Shopping carts will have less beef, bacon, and other processed and red meats as more consumers look to seafood, nuts and seeds, eggs, poultry, and dairy to provide quality protein in their diets. That said, the number of individuals focusing their attention on high protein eating may have peaked—two-thirds of RDNs say that protein enthusiasm will be about the same in 2016. Good, Americans eat way too much protein as it is.

5. Shopping for Free
When it comes to the messages and claims that impact shopping decisions, 2016 will look for “free.” Claims like “GMO-free” and “antibiotic-free” will prompt purchases, as will “additive-free” and “locally sourced.” The question is whether these characteristics actually drive healthier purchases. Jenna Bell, PhD, RDN, senior vice president, director of food & wellness for Pollock Communications, says you can’t be so sure. “While consumers may look for GMO-free or other ‘free-from’ claims on the label, it doesn’t mean that it has always led to healthier, more nutritious options.” Dr. Bell warns that an unintended consequence of choosing “free” foods could be that consumers might not assess the overall healthfulness, consider food safety issues, understand truly sustainable practices, or might pay unnecessary costs. “Make decisions based on the quality of the whole food and the variety and quality of your overall diet,” Dr. Bell suggests. Good advice. Don’t believe what is on the front of the package. Read the ingredient list first. Then make an informed decision.

6. A Matter of Taste
When it comes to deciding what to eat, RDNs say that taste and convenience are consumers’ most important considerations. Some 97% and 93% responded that convenience and taste, respectively, are important or very important when it comes to deciding what to eat. While healthfulness is the not the deciding factor according to one-half of the respondents, Dr. Bell points out, “Even when you’re making healthy choices, RDNs know that taste and convenience are deal breakers if not satisfied.” In a fast paced society like ours this is very true. The healthy answer is to fill your frig & cupboards with healthy choices. Make dishes ahead of time & freeze them to be used when you are too tired to cook. Eating on the run can be healthy but it takes forethought. Stopping at a fast food place is okay as long as it is occasionally & not an every day habit.

7. Healthy Eating — There’s an App for That
Seventy-one percent of RDNs believe more consumers will use technology to help improve their diet in 2016, likely tracking their food intake or activity with smartphone apps or wearables like MyFitnessPal, LoseIt, and Fitbit, among others. These apps are very useful. It is like a food journal & can be kept on your phone, which makes it convenient.

8. Blogs, Social Media and TV Trumps…
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February 2016


Safe Seafood Choices
posted February 29th, 2016

BoatsSeafood safety is an important issue for those of you who eat fish & shellfish. Due to an increase in toxic pollution of the oceans, climate change, over fishing both salt & fresh water sources, concerns over farmed & GMO fish, it is difficult to know what to choose for your meal. I have put together a few sources that can help you make a choice based on safety & sustainability.

Nutritionally, seafood is a very healthy choice for your protein source. I found this overview to be very informative. You can download the information here: Seafood Nutrition Overview: “Seafood is a high-protein food that is low in calories, total fat, and saturated fat. High in vitamins and minerals, seafood has been shown to have numerous health benefits. For example, recent studies have shown that eating seafood can decrease the risk of heart attack, stroke, obesity, and hypertension. Seafood also provides essential nutrients for developing infants and children.

Calories and Protein: Seafood is generally considered to be a low-calorie protein source. Most low-fat species of fish, such as cod, flounder and sole, contain less than 100 calories per 3-ounce cooked portion, and even fattier fish like mackerel, herring, and salmon have about 200 calories per serving. Seafood is a complete protein source. It contains enough of the essential amino acids to assure healthy growth and optimal fetal development. A 3-ounce serving of most fish and shellfish provides about about 30-40% of the average daily recommended amount of protein. The protein in seafood is easier to digest because seafood has less connective tissue than red meats and poultry.

Fat and Cholesterol: Seafood is generally considered to be low in total fat and saturated fat. Most fish and shellfish contain less than 5 percent total fat, and even the fattiest fish, such as mackerel and king salmon, have no more than 15 percent fat. A large proportion of the fat in seafood is polyunsaturated, including omega-3 fatty acids, which have added health benefits.

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that are required for healthy human development. These organic compounds cannot be produced by the human body and therefore need to be obtained through food. Scientific evidence suggests that the marine-derived omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) can help reduce the risk of heart disease and contribute to brain and vision development in infants. Fish and shellfish are the main dietary sources of EPA and DHA. The plant-derived omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), is a precursor to EPA and DHA and is only converted at rates of about 0.1-9% in the human body. The American Heart Association recommends 1000 milligrams (mg) of EPA/DHA per day for patients with coronary heart disease, and two meals of oily fish per week for patients without heart disease. Fish with medium to high levels of omega-3 fatty acids include oily ocean fish, such as salmon, herring, mackerel and sardines (see Description of Omega-3’s and Their Role in Human Health).

Cholesterol is present at varying amounts in most animal foods. Current dietary recommendations suggest limiting cholesterol intake to 300 mg per day. Almost all fish and shellfish contain well under 100 mg of cholesterol per 3-ounce cooked serving, and many of the leaner types of fish have less than 60 mg.

Vitamins and Minerals: Fish is a natural source of B-complex vitamins, vitamin D and vitamin A (especially oily fish). B-complex vitamins have been associated with healthy development of the nervous system. Vitamin A is needed for healthy vision as well as for healthy skin, while vitamin D is essential in bone development.

Fish is also a good source of minerals such as selenium, zinc, iodine and iron. Selenium is a potent antioxidant that protects against cell damage and may help to counter the negative effects of mercury. Zinc is needed for cell growth and immune system health. Iodine helps maintain thyroid gland function, while iron is important in red blood cell production. Small fish eaten whole, such as sardines and anchovies, are an important source of calcium needed for bone development.”
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Are you counting sheep at night?
posted February 23th, 2016

MoonIf you are having trouble sleeping and lie there counting sheep, you are in good company. According to a study done by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, CDC, 1 in 3 Americans are getting less than 7 hours of sleep each night. This study was published this past week & it got me to thinking about insomnia as a side effect of cancer treatments. This is a serious problem not only during treatment but also when you are finished.

First let’s explore why Americans are having a problem sleeping. Then we will look at why cancer patients have trouble sleeping. Lastly, we will look at natural ways to help both groups. According to the CDC & my research, none of the sleep aids out there have been proven to be effective, even though 9 million Americans reported taking sleeping pills!

The definition of insomnia: MedicineNet: “The perception or complaint of inadequate or poor-quality sleep due to a number of factors, such as difficulty falling asleep, waking up frequently during the night with difficulty returning to sleep, waking up too early in the morning, or unrefreshing sleep.”

A Third of Americans Aren’t Getting Enough Sleep: “CDC experts looked at health surveys covering more than 400,000 Americans. They were asked how many hours of sleep they get each night, among other questions.

On average, only 65 percent said they get seven hours or more of sleep a night, the team reported. “Sleeping less than seven hours per night is associated with increased risk for obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, stroke, frequent mental distress, and all-cause mortality,” the team wrote in the CDC’s weekly report.”

The CDC also looked at specific groups & economic status: “…only about half of blacks report they get enough sleep, compared to two-thirds of whites and Hispanics. Sleep may also be tied to economic conditions.

People in the Southeast and Appalachian regions reported the least sleep, on average. “Previous studies have shown that these regions also have the highest prevalence of obesity and other chronic conditions,” the CDC team wrote.”

1 In 3 American Adults Are Not Sleeping Enough: “In total, an estimated 83.6 million adults in the U.S. are sleep-deprived, said the CDC, who released their findings based on surveys with 444,306 participants. The report looked at results involving all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, the first time a sleep-related study has canvased all states for its findings. Both of these articles talk about the demographics in the study. For example: “Those living in South Dakota are getting more required sleep than those living in Hawaii, where only around 56% of respondents said they were sleeping more than seven hours.

Some get even less sleep than others—around 11.8% reported a sleep duration of less than 5 hours. The biggest culprits of sleeping less are those between the ages of 35 and 44—around 38% of people in this age group shun more sleep.”

What are the causes of insomnia according to the CDC:
•Artificial lights from computers, mobile devices & TV screens.
•No bedtime routine.
•No routine time for getting up in the morning.
•Having computers, mobile devices & TV’s in the bedroom.
•Divorced, widowed or separated.
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Update on the BMI chart & arsenic in rice.
posted February 16th, 2016

In previous posts I have discussed the BMI chart, obesity & weight loss due to cancer treatments. In these posts I have stressed that everyone is an individual, unique in body type, metabolism & personality 🙂 Because of this, I have never understood why a BMI chart would be useful. According to a new study it isn’t.

I started out my August 15th, 2015, Blog post, Obesity & Cancer Risk with the following paragraph: “Obesity is a complex disorder involving an excessive amount of body fat. Obesity isn’t just a cosmetic concern. It increases your risk of diseases and health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. Being extremely obese means you are especially likely to have health problems related to your weight. The good news is that even modest weight loss can improve or prevent the health problems associated with obesity. Dietary changes, increased physical activity and behavior changes can help you lose weight.” Mayo Clinic.

In the same Blog post, I said that: The BMI chart doesn’t know the difference between body fat & muscle. Muscular athletes would be under the obese category. Children, pregnant women, & nursing mothers can’t use this chart either.

An article last week, on February 8th, was published by 14U News: BMI PROVEN INEFFECTIVE ACCORDING TO STUDY: “This is definitely some good news for people who have higher BMIs but don’t think that they are overweight, obese, or generally unhealthy. There has been a new study conducted by the University of California, Los Angeles, which found that over 50 million Americans who had been labelled as overweight or obese according to the BMI (body mass index) scale actually aren’t unhealthy.

Commenting on the BMI chart the article states: However, this doesn’t necessarily hold up because there are people who are in excellent physical shape that have been grouped into that obese or overweight group since the reading doesn’t take muscle tone into account. It also doesn’t show that people with “healthy” BMIs could also be unhealthy.” This article talks about the study & the folly of using the BMI chart to indicate “health”. It also notes that some health insurances penalize individuals based on the their BMI. In the case of a cancer patient this doesn’t take into account their treatments. For example, weight gain due to steroids & extreme weight loss due to treatment.

A healthy weight should be based on other more reliable markers such as waist measurement, height, blood pressure, age, lifestyle, diseases & treatments.

In other articles on the website World News Online, BMI reports, you will find the same conclusion…the study is a nail in the coffin of the BMI chart! Let’s hope so.

This next 2014 article, ConsumerReports, How much arsenic is in your rice? contains information regarding recommendations that were made concerning arsenic in rice consumed by children & adults. Very good read. Make sure you watch the short video. The article also has this chart showing which rice has the most arsenic in it:
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Inflammatory & Anti-Inflammatory Foods
posted February 9th, 2016

Swan-AppleWe talk about chronic inflammatory diseases such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes & cancer. What does that mean & what is the difference between acute & chronic inflammation? What specific inflammatory foods will contribute to increasing the risk & re-occurrence of cancer? What specific anti-inflammatory foods will contribute to decreasing the risk & re-occurrence of cancer?

The National Institute of Health: National Cancer Institute states the following: “Inflammation is a normal physiological response that causes injured tissue to heal. An inflammatory process starts when chemicals are released by the damaged tissue. In response, white blood cells make substances that cause cells to divide and grow to rebuild tissue to help repair the injury. Once the wound is healed, the inflammatory process ends.” Usually you see redness, swelling, pain, and the area feels warm or hot to the touch. This is a normal immune system response to cuts, abrasions, incisions, mouth sores, or even skinned knees.

“In chronic inflammation, the inflammatory process may begin even if there is no injury, and it does not end when it should. Why the inflammation continues is not always known. Chronic inflammation may be caused by infections that don’t go away, abnormal immune reactions to normal tissues, or conditions such as obesity. Over time, chronic inflammation can cause DNA damage and lead to cancer.” There are blood tests that will indicate an inflammatory process going on in the body. CRP (c-reactive protein) is one that is used in many cancer settings. In general the higher the CRP level the more aggressive the chronic inflammation is. There are other markers that are used as well.

How you live & behave also leads to chronic inflammation; stress, lack of exercise, smoking, alcohol, lack of sleep & diet choices. Environmental factors also affect us. Eating organic will cut down on inflammatory toxins in your food.

“Eat what ever you want” is standard advice from many oncologists. They are trying to get you to increase your caloric intake. Instead, this advice usually translates to an increase in calories from processed foods, fast foods, saturated fats, refined carbohydrates~including sugar~ & an increase in red meat consumption. All of which are high in calories, yet nutrient deficient. These foods also promote chronic inflammation.

Excerpts from the Huffington Post article: Inflammatory Foods: 9 of the Worst Picks for Inflammation. This is one of the best articles & lists I have seen regarding inflammatory foods to avoid. Make sure you read the entire article. “For now, anti-inflammatory diet guidelines are simply suggestions. More research is needed to truly understand the relationship between diet and inflammation and, in turn, disease, WebMD reported. Still, there are some general ideas about what foods to avoid to keep inflammation and illness at bay. “There are foods that exaggerate inflammation because they themselves are irritants,” says Daniluk. Here are some of the worst offenders you might want to avoid;
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The International Year of the Pulse: 2016
posted February 1st, 2016

nuttyYou are probably asking yourself, unless you are from Canada or the UK, what is a pulse? Pulses are part of the legume family. They are the dried seed. Pulses include lentils, chickpeas, dried beans and peas. They are high in fiber & protein and are low in fat.

I have been receiving newsletters from my favorite nutrition sites declaring 2016 the International Year of the Pulse. Of course this piqued my curiosity I found that the pulse is destined to be the new “Superfood” this year. Quinoa & acai berries will be a thing of the past.

Here is an excerpt from an article: Year of the pulse The reporter has attended a cocktail party in Toronto, Ontario: “The party, and much of the recent media coverage, has been the culmination of years of painstaking planning by the global pulse industry to rebrand their product – a massive global campaign that has taken industry members from the lentil fields of Saskatchewan to meetings with federal ministers and boardrooms in Dubai and around the world. One guest at the Toronto party, a food-industry veteran for over 30 years, said he’s never seen such a co-ordinated campaign to promote a product.

The staggering effort, which included successfully lobbying the United Nations to designate 2016 the International Year of the Pulses, highlights the increasingly dramatic lengths food companies are taking to capture the attention of consumers.”

This is actually good news to anyone who follows the Mediterranean, DASH, MIND, Vegetarian or Vegan ways of eating. These little gems are:
•High in both soluble & insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber helps control our blood sugar which makes them low on the glycemic scale. It also lowers cholesterol while insoluble fiber keeps us “regular”.
•High in protein: “Pulses typically contain about twice the amount of protein found in whole grain cereals like wheat, oats, barley and rice.” Pulses & Nutrition
•Nutrient dense: “Pulses provide substantial amounts of vitamins and minerals in a relatively low amount of calories. Some of the key minerals in pulses include iron, potassium, magnesium and zinc. Pulses are also particularly abundant in B vitamins including folate, thiamin and niacin.” Pulse Canada

Pulse Canada has a brochure that you can copy: How to cook pulses. “Dry beans, chickpeas, peas and lentils (known as pulses) can be found in most grocery stores, organic food stores and ethnic specialty food stores. When buying dry pulses, look for bright color seeds, uniform size and smooth skins without chips or shriveled seed coats. Although dry pulses will keep years if stored in tightly covered containers in a cool, dark, dry place, it is best to use them within one year of purchase. The longer a pulse is stored, the drier it becomes which increases its cooking time. Canned pulses are very convenient because they are pre-cooked and ready to use. Always drain and rinse canned beans before use.” Good resource for soaking & cooking times. Click here for their Recipe page.

Chickpea Hummus is one of my favorite ways to use chickpeas/garbanzo beans. This is a traditional recipe using cooked/canned chickpeas. Tahini paste looks expensive but you use small amounts in recipes & it lasts a long time when refrigerated. It can also be used in homemade dressings.

I make Raw Sprouted Humus from The Simple Veganista : Here is my version. Soak 1 cup of dried garbanzo beans overnight then rinse twice a day for 2 days or until they have sprouted about 1/4 inch. Put the sprouted beans, will be about 2 cups, into a food processor or a blender. Add the following.
•2 heaping tablespoons of Tahini paste
•2 heaping tablespoons of Extra Virgin Organic Olive Oil
•2 large cloves of garlic
•Juice of 1-2 lemons (I prefer 1)
•1/4 cup water, add more to thin if you want
•1 tablespoon of ground Cumin
•2 teaspoons of ground Coriander
•Dash or 2 of Cayenne is optional (I love the extra zing to the hummus)
•Himalayan salt at the end to taste

Blend until smooth in blender. You can add veggies to change the flavor or favorite spices as well.

Sometimes I will sprout 2 or 3 cups of dried garbanzo beans to roast! I toss them with a drizzle of Organic EV Olive Oil & spices that I like. My favorite is a dash of Himalayan salt, cumin, lemon pepper & cayenne. I spread the beans in one layer on a cookie sheet with sides (I use parchment paper instead of oiling the pan). Roast at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Stir every 15 minutes & remove when browned. They will crisp up when cooling. This is a great snack that is high in protein & fiber.

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January 2016


posted January 24th, 2016

Farm-Stand-3Phytoestrogens is a subject that all breast cancer patients worry about. Not only those in treatment but also those out of treatment. Some of you are taking medications to block estrogen, and some have finished your 5 years of hormone therapy. Understandably you would be worried about consuming estrogen in any form. This has lead to phytoestrogens being misunderstood & feared.

I want to start with an explanation of the different breast cancer diagnosis.

Types of breast cancers: WebMD article that is very informative regarding breast cancers. Here are some excerpts from the article.
•Endocrine receptor-positive (estrogen or progesterone receptors)
•HER2-positive: In about 20% of breast cancers, the cells make too much of a protein known as HER2. This cancer is not hormone driven & targeted treatment is used.
•Triple positive: positive for estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors, and HER2: This diagnosis has HER2 protein plus it is hormone positive for both estrogen & progesterone.
•Triple negative: not positive for estrogen receptors, progesterone receptors, and HER2: This diagnosis means: 10% – 20% — are known as “triple negative” because they don’t have estrogen and progesterone receptors and don’t over express the HER2 protein. Most breast cancers associated with the gene BRCA1 are triple negative.

Hormone Receptor-Positive Breast Cancer: About 80% of all breast cancers are “ER-positive.” That means the cancer cells grow in response to the hormone estrogen. About 65% of these are also “PR-positive.” They grow in response to another hormone, progesterone. If your breast cancer has a significant number of receptors for either estrogen or progesterone, it’s considered hormone-receptor positive.

Tumors that are ER/PR-positive are much more likely to respond to hormone therapy than tumors that are ER/PR-negative. You may have hormone therapy after surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation are finished. These treatments can help prevent a return of the disease by blocking the effects of estrogen. They do this in one of several ways.
•The medication tamoxifen (Nolvadex) helps stop cancer from coming back by blocking hormone receptors, preventing hormones from binding to them. It’s sometimes taken for up to 5 years after initial treatment for breast cancer.
•A class of medicines called aromatase inhibitors actually stops estrogen production. These include anastrozole (Arimidex),exemestane (Aromasin), and letrozole (Femara). They’re only used in women who’ve already gone through menopause.

Now let’s take a look at what phtyoestrogens are…
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U.S. News: “Best Diets: 2016″.
posted January 15th, 2016

U.S. News has once again evaluated and ranked the most popular diets of the year. They do this yearly with a panel of health experts. Their criteria does not include cancer prevention specifically, but it does address all the other inflammatory diseases. This means that the top diets will indeed be preventative. The article states that: “To be top-rated, a diet had to be relatively easy to follow, nutritious, safe and effective for weight loss and preventing diabetes and heart disease.” The DASH diet was #1 in 2015. This year there are a few surprises, for me at least

Here’s How Health Experts Ranked 38 Of The Most Popular Diets: Let’s take a look at some of the top ranking ones. If you are interested in seeing the entire list then click on the link to the article.

As you see DASH got #1 again.

#1 DASH Diet: DASH was developed to fight high blood pressure, not as an all-purpose diet. But it certainly looked like an all-star to our panel of experts, who gave it high marks for its nutritional completeness, safety, ability to prevent or control diabetes and role in supporting heart health. Though obscure, it beat out a field full of better-known diets. I wrote about the DASH diet last year. Check under Topics.

Overall rank: 1
Overall score: 4.1 out of 5

This next one surprised me because somehow I had never heard of it! I like the idea of the Mind Diet. I followed the link (MIND) & the first paragraph was impressive: “The emphasis is on eating from 10 brain-healthy food groups: green leafy vegetables in particular, all other vegetables, nuts, berries, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry, olive oil and wine. Meanwhile, MIND adherents avoid foods from the five unhealthy groups: red meats, butter and stick margarine, cheeses, pastries and sweets, and fried or fast food.” Yes! Sounds good to me.

#2 (tie) MIND Diet: The MIND diet takes two proven diets ­­– DASH and Mediterranean – and zeroes in on the foods in each that specifically affect brain health. It made an impressive debut to the 2016 rankings, shooting up to second place overall, tying with the TLC diet. It’s a healthy, sensible plan with science behind it. The MIND diet, which stands for “Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay,” was developed by Martha Clare Morris, a nutritional epidemiologist at Rush University Medical Center, through a study funded by the National Institute on Aging and published online February 2015. Morris’ team followed the food intake of 923 Chicago-area seniors. Over 4.5 years, 144 participants developed Alzheimer’s disease…
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How are dietary supplements regulated?
posted January 11th, 2016

We just assume or maybe hope that all those bottles of dietary supplements on the shelves of our local drug store, grocery store, natural food store or pharmacy are regulated & safe to use. Dietary supplements are not regulated the same way prescription drugs are. It is important to understand how they are regulated to be able to make an informed decision as to their use.

I was given this chart by Nature Made at a conference I attended. It explains what you should look for on a label. This is the best chart I have seen that explains each piece of information & why it all needs to be there. If it isn’t, then don’t buy the product. Click here to download the chart for your own use.How Dietary Supplements Are Regulated.
Dietary Supplements are regulated by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. This site has all the information you would need.

“FDA regulates both finished dietary supplement products and dietary ingredients. FDA regulates dietary supplements under a different set of regulations than those covering “conventional” foods and drug products. Under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA):
•Manufacturers and distributors of dietary supplements and dietary ingredients are prohibited from marketing products that are adulterated or misbranded. That means that these firms are responsible for evaluating the safety and labeling of their products before marketing to ensure that they meet all the requirements of DSHEA and FDA regulations. ***Notice that it says the manufacturers & distributors are responsible for the safety of their products, not the FDA.
•FDA is responsible for taking action against any adulterated or misbranded dietary supplement product after it reaches the market. ***Basically this means that the FDA will take action once it receives complaints from consumers or deaths from the product have been reported.

This is worth repeating……this is another site with information about how they are regulated…
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Dietary Supplements
posted January 2nd, 2016

medicinaDietary supplements have been the leading topic in my emails from you over the last few weeks. The questions are usually the same: what supplements should I be taking, are there supplements to help with stress, which brand should I buy & where should I buy them.

In a perfect dietary world, we would get what vitamins & minerals the body needs from our healthy, balanced, plant based diet. But as we have seen in the news & in my posts, “most people” don’t eat a healthy, balanced, plant based diet. The reasons for this are many. We will concentrate on the people who: have cancer & are in treatment, are finished with treatment, or are caregivers. There are some dietary supplements that are recommended to be taken daily.

Physicians only test for a vitamin or mineral deficiency if they have reason to believe you are deficient due to the medications you are taking, treatment you are undergoing or you are presenting specific symptoms. When they do find a deficiency or they are being preventative, your health team will recommended you take a specific dietary supplement. Take it, this is a good thing It is also important to tell your health team what over-the-counter medications & dietary supplements you already take. They may interact with your medical treatment & may have an impact on your blood tests. Give them a list!

Supplement-factsThe dietary supplements that are recommended for most people to take regularly are a Multi-Vitamin, Vitamin D, an Omega 3, Calcium & Vitamin C. If you decide on your own to take these supplements then make sure you read the back label before buying them. This is especially important with multi-vitamins. Check the serving size; on the label depicted it is 1 tablet. Now check that each vitamin & mineral per serving is within the RDA ~recommended daily allowance~ . Don’t go over 100%. Overdosing on vitamins is rare but there are side effects if you get a mega dose. Look at the ingredient list at the bottom of the back label to see what else they have added. I have noticed that some multi-vitamins have herbs, like ginseng, in them. You don’t need that added complication. Check the labels!

Remember to add up the amounts you are taking of each individual vitamin & mineral if you are taking a multivitamin & individual vitamins. For example…
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Previous years:
Reality Based Nutrition 2017
Reality Based Nutrition 2015