Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Answering surveys mean being a good consumer and citizen...

In my past, rarely did I answer a phone number I don't know. It felt invasive.

However, now that I get client and customer direct phone calls from varying area codes for both of my businesses, I tend to answer them more. (If I hear either word "mortgage" or "interest" in the first sentence, I hang up!)

Today, I'm glad I answered today's "random" call, because it was the Colorado Department of Health on behalf of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention calling with a health survey, which I was happy to fill out - not only because health is my new career and in hopes to somehow impact the health and statistics on American health, but also for selfish pride that I live in one of the healthiest states in the country and I wanted my healthy body and mind included in the results. 

Today I wasn't asked about my nutrition, and so at the end of the survey, I asked why. She knew I worked in the industry of health and nutrition because one of the questions was about my employment. She said because of this, I may be interested in the results, and more about the program. Indeed.

The survey was the The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) and is the nation's premier system of health-related telephone surveys that collect state data about U.S. residents regarding their health-related risk behaviors, chronic health conditions, and use of preventive services. Established in 1984 with 15 states, BRFSS now collects data in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia and three U.S. territories. BRFSS completes more than 400,000 adult interviews each year, making it the largest continuously conducted health survey system in the world.

And while I wasn't asked about nutrition this year, I learned that a portion of the states do include that segment of questions (so it will be asked in other states this year), and last year it was asked in Colorado. Those results were a good read, because one of the opening paragraphs rung true for me: 
Eating fruits and vegetables contributes important under-consumed nutrients to the diet, reduce the risk of many chronic diseases, and may help individuals achieve and maintain a healthy weight when consumed instead of higher calorie foods. However, very few Americans consume recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables. 
[Surveillance of Fruit and Vegetable Intake Using the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System]
These results are included with their Track A results as part of the Healthy People 2020 objectives, which also include survey results Health Care, Physical Activity, Sugar-Sweetened Beverages, Cancer Screening, and Cognitive Impairment, in addition to Fruit and Vegetable Intake.  

Coloradoans - there is also information about our local survey here:

So in summary, my plug is this (if I may be so bold), if you also get a call from your state on behalf of the CDC, please take the time to answer this, so that the center can better study and care for our public health. 

Friday, March 11, 2016

Raw, vegan lifestyle isn't just for crazies anymore

60 days off sugar and counting. . .

Being off refined sugar (dairy, gluten, meat, and booze) has forced me to explore the web horizon for recipes and new ways to satisfy old tastes. Like any addict, I'm sure my sugar addition will always be with me, but my taste buds have certainly opened up to nature's options and I'm loving it.

I attended a birthday party last Saturday and was excited to try to improve upon a pie dish a friend brought over for Valentines Day (thank you for the inspiration Elissa!). The first one I tried was good, but not stellar (although the crust really was amazing), and for a once-addict, when it comes to pie, I'm pretty picky.

So I sought out an expert. And I found Emily Von Euw's This Rawsome Vegan Life blog/book/website, and tried the Blueberry Tart "ice cream" - although it's shaped like pie.

It was DELICIOUS. And I feel reborn. It's amazing to me that we have gotten so far removed from nature that we've forgotten we can use simple ingredients like this to make something delicious.

See Emily's site for the full recipe, but here are my pictures from the process. It got not only rave approvals from the ladies at the birthday, but also from my husband, who is still eating Kit Kats and Girl Scout Cookies nightly mind you... 

... and his favorite is Tirimisu so I feel aptly challenged to make a raw version from Emily's vast recipe resource next time it's time to celebrate him... 

There are a lot of other experts out there - - and it's awesome there are. It shows that living raw isn't difficult, and even if you just try it out for a week or two - you may get hooked.  It may even save your life. 

I was already eating very clean prior to removing sugar - sans dairy, gluten, meat, processed foods... so if you are the same, and fooling yourself as I was that you're a "healthy" eater, try cutting out sugar for a month. Or two.

It's revolutionary.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

How does eating sugar or refined foods result in higher triglyceride levels?

This was too good not to share!

From Dr.Popper's Wellness Forum update

Triglycerides are fats in the blood stream. Both dietary fat and carbohydrates can contribute to high triglyceride levels. Carbohydrate can be converted into fat in the liver through a process called de novo lipogensis. This takes place under certain circumstances, such as when people eat a diet that contains a lot of refined foods, juices, and soft drinks; and/or when people overeat. Both are common practices in Westernized countries. The reason why the body converts excess carbohydrate into lipids is because fat is more energy-dense and a more efficient storage form of excess calories.

Unfortunately, the relationship between carbohydrate intake and triglyceride levels has been misrepresented by some health professionals, who tell people that the cause of high triglycerides is a high-carbohydrate diet. They conveniently omit the fact that the relationship is between refined carbohydrates, juices, soft drinks, and overeating, not between a high-carbohydrate diet and triglyceride levels. Studies have shown that eating a diet high in carbohydrate from whole plant foods does not raise triglyceride levels. One study showed that when people eat starchy foods instead of simple carbohydrates, their triglyceride levels are reduced.[i] Another study showed that adoption of a whole-food plant-based diet, combined with exercise, reduced triglyceride levels significantly in only 3 weeks.[ii]

Individuals who want to lower their triglyceride levels should keep dietary fat low (15% or less of daily calories), eliminate juices and sugary beverages from the daily diet, restrict intake of refined foods to only special occasions and holidays, and avoid overeating. A small percentage of people develop high triglycerides as a result of eating large amounts of fruit.[iii] Restricting fruit intake to 2 servings per day or less and avoiding dried fruit can be helpful in lowering triglyceride levels for these individuals.

[i] Hudgins CH. “Human fatty acid synthesis is reduced after the substitution of dietary starch for sugar.” Am J Clin Nutr. 1998 Apr;67(4):631-9.

[ii] Barnard RJ. “Role of diet and exercise in the management of hyperinsulinemia and associated atherosclerotic risk factors.”Am J Cardiol. 1992 Feb 15;69(5):440-4.

[iii] Truswell AS. “Food carbohydrates and plasma lipids--an update.” Am J Clin Nutr. 1994 Mar;59(3 Suppl):710S-718S.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

30 days of "no" sugar - successes and challenges, and moving forward

DAY 30 is here!

When I tell people I'm doing 30 days without sugar, their response is usually "I could never do that." And I'll admit it's had its challenges. But looking back on 30 days, I can say with ease that there are harder things to let go of, you just have to have the right mindset and be up for the challenge. And read a LOT of labels.

First, I must include my disclaimer. Because I'm a loyal customer, distributor, and advocate for the products of the Juice Plus Company for many health reasons, I have trace amounts of organic cane sugar in my morning (and occasional lunch) smoothies (11g), my protein bars (8g), and the occasional pack of veggie chews (2g). I am mostly vegan, and I wasn't about to give up the protein that's in these products, an all-too easy addition to my diet and a staple part of my routine. Moving on.

Other than that, I have put a teaspoon of honey in my tea (6g)(about 3-4 times per week I think), and I weaned myself off night time sweets with Living Raw's cacao truffles (5g)(agave) and dates (16g). (I had the habit of downing half a chocolate bar, or any other chocolate, after dinner - a bad habit if you want to sleep well.)

I tried very hard to cut out all else. All baked goods (hidden sugars!), processed foods (think chips with flavoring - also hidden sugars!) and the typical sweets, treats, etc. My one weakness has been 1 pump of hazelnut syrup in the occasional decaf soy latte (1-2 per week)(the typical latte has 4 pumps at Starbucks). I do not count naturally occurring sugars from fruits - a cup of tart cherry juice (extremely anti inflammatory) is 24g of sugar. And I've gotten sugar-surprised a few times without realizing... the organic cranberries for instance. So I switched back to raisins for my oatmeal.

Worth note, the average American intake of sugar is 80g per day (about 20 teaspoons). The recommended consumption is 25g for women and 37 for men (assuming they burn more calories).  I would say in this past month, I've probably exceeded that amount most days even though I've greatly cut back on my sugar intake.

So because this self study was intended to eliminate the small patches of psoriasis on my elbows (drastically reduced by adding Juice Plus, but not eliminated), I intend to continue this self study for another month, and in this month, I will shoot for less than 25g of sugar per day.

I have noticed I no longer crave sugar. I go many nights without the Raw truffle or date, and often skip the honey in my tea. Perhaps it's worth saying that I've been alcohol free since August 1st, 2011, because I believe that helps my cause greatly.

In this second month, my goals are:
  • Cut out the latte (especially after hearing about what they do to make coffee decaffeinated, ugh), and to stick to my Teeccino (chickory "coffee") and tea 
  • Stick below the 25g of sugar per day and quantify that amount daily
  • Read ALL labels and stay away from anything in a box 
As you can see, I'm pretty pleased with the way my elbows feel. So all in all, WELL worth the work of being diligent with my cause. My hands have been mostly pain free from the psoriatic arthritis as well!



Thursday, January 28, 2016

30 days of sugar free: Kicking the Addiction

I'm halfway through my 30 days without sugar, and feeling the benefits. My psoriasis is clearing up, the inflammation in my palms is noticeably reduced, and the cravings are next to nothing. I had one breakdown and it was on the day trip to Denver last weekend. Something about being in a car for 6 hours makes an old reflex kick in. I will confess. I ate a doughnut. I'm putting it behind me.

I have always had an addiction to sugar, and I'm not alone. During the past 100 years, the average American's intake of sugar and other natural sweeteners doubled- from 80 pounds a year to over 130 pounds a year. In a lifetime, that equals enough to fill a dumpster. And knowing what sugar does to us, it's no wonder why our health has decreased over that time as well. We have the technology and the knowledge to be healthy, but we're not.

Sugar suppresses the immune system, leads to chronic inflammation (next blog post), and if you're craving sugar, you're probably deficient in chromium, carbon, phosphorous, sulfur, and tryptophan (see image). Many of those foods rich in those nutrients are very helpful to curb my cravings when I'm weaning back off sugar, especially nuts, raisins, cranberries, and blueberries. I wish I'd had them in the car during my Denver trip!

Do yourself a favor, try a week without sugar and see how you feel. You'll see that sugar's in everything - you must be vigilant about reading labels. Even if you're good about not eating any processed foods (which your body would appreciate), you still have to be mindful of the sugars hidden in recipes like soups, casseroles, homemade granolas and protein bars.

I get asked: Am I doing honey? Occasionally, yes. Agave? A tiny bit in the raw cacao balls I have after dinner (not nightly). There's a little stevia in my Juice Plus Complete protein powder, so I cut that back as well. I repeat. IT'S IN EVERYTHING. It's no wonder our bodies are struggling.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

30 days sugar free: alkalizing the body and prepping for good choices

We are living in a very acidic world; it seems like nearly everything we do lowers our pH, and in a low pH internal environment, inflammation occurs, bad gut flora thrives, our bodies oxidize faster, and disease sets roots. Therefore eating an alkalized diet is a must to return the body to it's natural state of self-healing.

When I look at these two food charts it's easy for me to see why the new "food pyramid" and FDA recommendation is for 70-80% vegetables and fruits at every meal. That's no easy task, but the 30 days of sugar-free and Transform 30 program I embarked on this past Monday helps me alkalize my body.

I know that when I eat that way, my body feels better, I have more energy, I sleep better and wake up refreshed, I heal faster and generally don't get sick. When I am acidic, my joints hurt, I'm sluggish and unmotivated, and I've even gotten gout (as a vegetarian, that's pretty hard).

But even though I know better, eating right is no easy task, and stocking the refrigerator and cabinets with the right choices set me up for success.

At the beginning of the week I make sure I have prepared an arsenal of healthy snacks and I've decided on 4-5 healthy recipes and have the ingredients stocked.

Here are some of my existing favorite recipes, websites, and boards... and I'm excited to spend this month adding to the list!
New favorite - Vegan Enchiladas
Rainbow Pad Thai
Vegan Alfredo Zoodles
Kitchari - a staple for detoxing
SCD Processed-Free cooking
Vegan and GF Breakfasts
Food-Wise Choices board
Vegan eating board
Smoothies board

Monday, January 11, 2016

30 days Sugar Free: Switching date sugar

I've embarked on my 30 days without sugar and want to first report on the date crystals from a date farm in Arizona.  While I wean myself off the sweet addiction, dates are going to be my sweet treat anyway, but I was excited to start finding recipes with the date sugar substitute. Eventually I hope to steer clear of grains all together, but the date sugar intrigued me, and I'm a baker by DNA, so fully grain-free is a stretch.

In a 2013 Virginia Tech biochemistry study ranking the health of the 12 most popular sweeteners by antioxidant content, date sugar ranked the healthiest.

Flourless banana bread from Chocolate Covered Katie
The first two recipes I went for were banana and zucchini breads - both gluten free, one vegan, one with eggs.

After looking at several top rank options based on ingredients, the banana bread recipe I went with was from Chocolate Covered Katie.  The foundation for this recipe is GF Oat Flour, calls for honey, not date sugar, and is entirely vegan (no eggs, no milk).

This is a great recipe, it's great tasting, has great texture (if you cook gluten free you know that breads can be gummy), and a mild banana flavor. I actually used 1/4 cup apple sauce because my 3 defrosted bananas didn't quite yield 1 3/4 cups.

The second recipe I tested was a zucchini bread recipe from A Little Insanity. I'm not cutting out eggs this month (although I plan to ease back into a vegan diet), so I wanted to try this recipe before I did. This was a great option for the date sugar, although the sugar content in general is very low. Worth note- at the top it calls for 20 min cook time (which refers to the muffins) - read thru to the end, and bake a loaf for 50.

I love this recipe! The other one I've been using for years has TWO cups of sugar in it and makes me cringe to make it. This one is slightly savory, and very light on the sugar with 1/2 cup of date crystals (ground).

I did not add chocolate chips to either, so I could appreciate the full flavor of the bread, and if you're going for sugar free, they don't need it. I added walnuts to the zucchini bread and it's a great addition. 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Committing to 30 days without sugar - YOU will hold me to it

Every year at this time we commit to something new; changes for the better that we hope will stick. I've found that publicly committing to something and having a buddy in doing so is exponentially more successful than just writing some wishes in my journal, especially when the new plan is a big one.

Last year I spent a month of summer sugar-free. It wasn't my first attempt, I've spent the last 7 years on one elimination diet or another in attempts to take better control of my health and the auto-immune and inflammation symptoms my body's been displaying. I've been gluten-free for those 7 years, dairy-free off and on for 30+ years, and even meat free for a portion of my life as well.

So I know that cutting out foods is never easy, and for each of us, there's always one vice that's the hardest. Dairy, wheat, starches, sugar, alcohol, salt, it doesn't matter; if it's our crutch, eliminating it feels like we're depriving ourselves of the pleasures of life. And if we're truly addicted to it, we can even get a little mental when we cut it out.

For me, that strongest vice is sugar. So I've spent the last week preparing for the next 30 days so I can have the highest success possible. I've been collecting recipes and motivating infographics, reading about the harm sugar causes (right), and psyching myself up for the detox. Yes, I'm excited for the detox. Because after the last month of cookies, maple-chocolate granola, Frango mints, bagels and cream cheese... I feel like shit. I'm tired, inflamed, uninspired, achy, lazy, and a little depressed. And I'm ready to let all of that go. I'm guessing the holidays have had a similar influence on you.

I invite you to join me. Our Juice Plus family is launching a Transform 30 group tomorrow - where we embark on the One Simple Change plan to guide our bodies back to optimum health with whole food nutrition, good habits, and support each other to do so. Email me to learn more about "T30" and get started.

Whether you want to wean yourself from sugar, gluten, dairy, meat, snacking or something else, or whether you want to create better habits - exercise more, drink more water, sleep longer, or start meditating, this group is a great resource and we have a private Facebook page for it where our team of coaches will be posting.

Follow this blog (sign up for it to the left) to get updates on my journey. Thank you for holding me accountable to this #OneSimpleChange! 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Manifesting with Synchronicity course starts January 31

This will be the fourth year I've taught this wonderful course and I'm super excited to share it again with my fellow Steamboaters. A few seats remain, take a look at what this course offers!

Based on James Redfield's Celestine Prophesy's first 9 insights, this course is an in-depth look at:

  • What Jung's definition of synchronicity means and how to use it for creating the life we want to live
  • Where we've come from in the last 100 years and where we may go from here
  • How the Earth's energy moves around us and what it means to connect to us
  • The four human psychological dramas and how to navigate them with peace and groundedness
  • Why we've chosen the parents we were born to and how to learn from their lessons and forgive the past
  • How the many religions of the world are connecte
    d and tapping into that One energy
  • We learn the quantum tools for manifesting: mantras and affirmations, meditation, intention
  • And so much more!

This course has become a foundation of the way I live my life, and I feel blessed to facilitate it.

Email me at to sign up before it's too late. We only run it once a year!