Wednesday, May 2, 2012

FDA Issues warning on supplements containing DMAA

Please see the link below for the article and full list of supplement companies that received a warning from the FDA.

Please be sure to double check all of your supplements, especially if you have heart problems!

Stay healthy everyone!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Heart Healthy Diet

It has been quite some time since I last posted.  Since then I have started a new job that has taken up a lot of my time, along with some other things in this journey called life!  Recently, I was faced with some heartbreaking news.  My younger brother who is only 19 years old, was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. After the emotions had settled, my family and I realized the road ahead of us won't be easy and will require a major lifestyle change for a teenager.

The doctors immediately started him on heart medications, diuretics, blood pressure, and blood thinners.  In addition to the medications he was told he would have to change his lifestyle including his diet, and to limit any physical activity or stress.  For the change in diet he was simply given a brochure about the importance of following a low-sodium diet and spoke with a nutritionist prior to being released from the hospital.  The day after he got home from the hospital he started looking through the refrigerator and kitchen pantry for things he could eat.  After shuffling through in frustration he said "I need to go grocery shopping, there is nothing here I can eat", and he was right.  This is about the time when I got a call from my mother asking for my suggestions on what they should get at the grocery store and if I had any "heart safe" recipes or menu ideas.

So I began my research into the world of congestive heart failure. I learned about all the nutrients that should be included and excluded from the diet of a person living with heart failure. I also started putting together meal plans and recipes to specifically meet the needs of a person with heart failure.  After sending the meal plans and recipes to my mother it dawned on me that there are plenty of other people living with this condition.  Suddenly, I began to ask "what if they don't know what to eat? What if they don't know where to start?"

So I have decided to post some of the meal plans and recipes that I created for my brother for everyone else who is living with heart disease. In addition, I will be posting diabetes friendly recipes for my mother and all others who have diabetes and are trying to live a healthier lifestyle. Stay tuned for the first post...

For everyone out there who still has their health, do not take it for granted. Eat healthy, exercise, relax, and take care of yourself.  Don't work yourself to death and don't stress over the little things.  If you don't have your health you don't have anything.

                                                              My Brother and I

*The posts on this site are merely suggestions, please check with your doctor before starting any new diet or exercise program.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Quick & Easy Healthy Vegetarian Hoisin Stir-Fry

This dish is perfect for a weeknight dinner.  It's simple, quick, and loaded with flavor and nutrition. The hoisin sauce really makes this a savory dish.  However, you won't feel lethargic and stuffed after, instead you will feel light and simply satisfied.

 3 Carrots, peeled & sliced length wise
1 Zucchini, sliced into strips
1 Red Bell Pepper, sliced into strips
1 Head of Broccoli, chopped florets 
1/2 a pack of Firm Organic Tofu (I like Nasoya, Trader Joes, or 365 Whole Foods)
2 Garlic cloves, minced
2 oz. Rice Stick Noodles (I used Yatta Maifun rice sticks)
3 Tbsp. Low Sodium Soy Sauce
5-6 Tbsp. of Hoisin Sauce (Low Sodium if you can fid it.  I like the Whole Foods brand 365 organic hoisin sauce)
3 Tbsp. Olive oil (or Vegetable Oil)
1/3 cup water

1. Drain & press the water from the tofu
2. Add 1 Tbsp. of Oil to a large pan or wok and turn to high heat
3. Slice tofu into 1 inch cubes
4. Add tofu and cook until it starts to turn golden on both sides.
5. Remove Tofu and set aside on a separate plate
6. Add 2 Tbsp of oil & minced garlic to the large pan and set to med. heat.  Cook for 2 minutes
7. Add carrots, broccoli, zucchini, and red bell pepper strips, stir to cover with oil and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes.
8. Add 1/3 cup water and cover vegetables with lid, cook for 5 minutes.
9. While veggies are cooking, boil water and add rice noodles. Cook for 4 minutes or until soft.  Drain and remove from heat.  Set aside
10. In a separate bowl mix soy sauce and hoisin sauce.
11.  In the large pan with the veggies add the tofu, rice noodles, and sauce. Stir until everything is fully covered.
12. Remove from heat and serve immediately


Other Options:
Try mixing other vegetables into this recipe like mushrooms or snap peas.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Devilish Chocolate Truffle Pie

This is the second part to the special occasion menu.  This pie is absolutely to die for... Have one slice then take it to work the next day to get it out of your house!  You should serve this dessert with your favorite red wine.  I typically find zinfandel's to go great with dark chocolate, but you may use whatever is your favorite.  Also, please take note that this pie will need to be refrigerated overnight so plan accordingly.  If you are unable to prepare this the night before, you can make it the same way but put it in the freezer for at least 2 hours before serving.  Wait to make the third part (whipped cream) until you are ready to serve.

Servings: 8

Truffle Filling
2⁄3 cup heavy cream
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips

1 9-inch prepared graham cracker crust
Whipped Chocolate Filling
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
1  1⁄2 cups heavy cream
1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla

Whipped Cream Topping
1 cup heavy cream
1⁄4 cup confectioners’ (powdered) sugar


1⁄2 ounces semisweet or dark chocolate, or you can mix dark, milk, & white shavings

Directions:3 parts (truffle filling, whipped chocolate filling, & whipped cream topping)
1. For the truffle filling, in a saucepan, bring 2⁄3 cup cream to a simmer.
2. Place the 6 ounces chocolate chips in a bowl and pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Let stand for 1 minute, then gently whisk until smooth.
3. Spread truffle filling over the bottom of the prepared piecrust.
4. Place in Freezer for 20 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, for the whipped chocolate filling, in a microwave set on low power, heat the 6 ounces chocolate chips with 1⁄2 cup of the cream until the chocolate is just melted, stirring often. Let cool to room temperature.
6. In a chilled bowl, beat the remaining 1 cup cream until thick.
7. Add the chocolate mixture and the vanilla and beat until soft peaks form (tips curl). Spread the whipped chocolate mixture over the truffle filling in the crust.
8. Refrigerate overnight.
9. Just before serving, for the topping, beat 1 cup cream on medium speed of an electric mixer until it begins to thicken.
10. Add confectioners’ sugar and whip until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight).
11. Spread the whipped cream over the top of the pie.
12. Using a grater or vegetable peeler, make pieces or shavings of milk chocolate, white chocolate, and semisweet or dark chocolate. Garnish pie with chocolate pieces.
13. Serve immediately.

Salmon with Mushroom & Smoked Gouda Risotto & Steamed Broccoli

I was asked by a very special friend of mine to post a dinner recipe that she could make for her man on a special occasion.  Here is a dinner recipe that will work great for an anniversary, valentine's day, date night, or any other special celebration.  Also, since this is for a special occasion... I will be following up this post with a dessert recipe for a deadly chocolate truffle pie.  I will be the first to admit that the pie is definitely not the healthiest but any health nut knows, every once in a while it is ok to indulge.

Menu: Salmon with Mushroom & Smoked Gouda (or Parmesan) Risotto, & Fresh Broccoli

Salmon Ingredients:
2 - 6oz. Fresh Wild Alaskan Salmon Filets
1 Lemon
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
2. Add olive oil to a large pan and heat to med-high
2. Add salmon to pan
3. Sear the salmon approx. 2 min on each side
4. Remove salmon from pan and place into a baking dish.
5. Sprinkle salmon with salt & pepper and sprinkle half the lemon on top of the filets.
6. Slice the remaining lemon and lay on top of the salmon
7. Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake for approx 12-15 min

Risotto w/mushroom & parmesan or smoked goudaServings: 6 (cut down if you don't want left overs)
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup dry white wine, divided
1 T. olive oil
10 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup Smoked Gouda cheese, shredded (Or other cheese like Parmesan)
2 T. flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Spray a large baking dish with nonstick spray. (I used a 12x12 glass dish)
3. In the baking dish, stir together the rice, chicken broth, and 1/2 cup of the white wine.
4. Cover the dish with foil or a lid. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the rice is cooked and the liquid is mostly absorbed.

5. While the rice is baking, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté until they release their liquid and the liquid evaporates, about 8 minutes.
6. Add the onions and continue cooking until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes.
7. Add the garlic, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste.
8. Cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute, then stir in the remaining 1/4 cup of wine and cook until the wine evaporates, about 3 minutes.

9. When the rice is fully cooked, stir it well, and then stir in the cheese.

10.When the cheese has melted, add the mushrooms, and stir to combine. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if necessary.

11. Stir in parsley and garnish with a parsley sprig and serve immediately.

Steamed Broccoli
2 Heads of broccoli

1. Bring water to boil and add broccoli to steamer.
2. Steam until you can stick a fork through the stem (approx. 5 minutes)

Serve the salmon, risotto, and broccoli on your nicest dinnerware set.

While you are busy in the kitchen have a nice fruit and cheese plate out on the table for your man to nibble on while you cook.  If you are new to the cheese and wine scene, your local Whole Foods has a very nice cheese section that will actually put together a small tasting tray for you if you ask them to.  You can make it more fun by asking them to add the cheese labels to the lid.  This way when you get home you can use toothpicks and little flags to label the different cheeses. 
I would suggest starting with a white to have with your cheese and main course.  I love St. Supery's Virtu, which is a blended white.  Some of my other favorite whites include:
Conundrum (blended white)
Four Vines Naked Chardonay
Leonnesse Viognier
Cakebread Reserve Chardonnay
If you prefer reds or would like to switch back and forth I recommend:
BV Maestro #2 Cabernet
Justin Reserve Cabernet
Seghesio Zinfandel
Cakebread Syrah (goes great with the smoked gouda)
Light some candles and turn on some nice music that you both will enjoy. If you want to make the occasion even more special you can create a menu and print it out.

Be sure to look for my next post which will feature the devilish chocolate truffle pie to compliment your special evening.  However, keep in mind this is only for special occasions and should not be eaten all the time.

Now that I have given my disclaimer.... enjoy!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

BBQ Baked Chicken, Balsamic Braised Greens, & Garlic Cauliflower Mash

A southern comfort dish with a healthy twist! 
I made this for dinner last night and it was amazing! It also took under an hour to make the entire meal.  The BBQ chicken was moist and flavorful, the greens were succulent and tangy, and the garlic cauliflower mash was low-carb heaven.

Serves 2 
BBQ Chicken
2 Organic Chicken Breasts
BBQ Sauce (I used D.L. Jardine’s Chik’n Lik’n- BBQ Grill & Oven Sauce)

Balsamic Braised Beet Greens
2 Bunches of Organic Beet Greens (or you may also use Kale or Collard Greens instead)
1/3 Yellow Onion
1-2 Garlic Cloves
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
4 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar (more if you like)
1/3 Cup Low Sodium Organic Chicken or Vegetable Broth
Sea Salt & Pepper

Cauliflower Mash
1 Large head of Organic Cauliflower
2-3 Cloves of Garlic (depending on how much of a garlic lover you are)
1/3 Cup Un-Sweetened Soymilk
4-6 oz. white Monterey Jack Cheese
1 Cup Low-Fat Plain Greek Yogurt (you may also use low or no fat sour cream instead)
Optional - 2 Tablespoons Organic Butter
sea salt & pepper to taste
Fresh Chives

BBQ Chicken
1.) Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
2.) Place chicken breasts in an oven dish and cover chicken completely in the BBQ Sauce (if using a thicker sauce you may want to add some chicken broth to keep the chicken moist.)
3.) Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes

Balsamic Braised Beet Greens
1.)Add olive oil to deep dish pan and heat over Medium
2.)Add garlic and onions, saute until translucent
3.)Add washed greens (cut off stems), saute until tender and beginning to wilt
4.) Add chicken broth, stir, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes
5.) Add Balsamic Vinegar, salt & pepper to taste, stir
6.) When most liquid is absorbed remove from heat (do not overcook)

Cauliflower Mash
1.) Wash and chop cauliflower
2.) Add cauliflower to steamer and steam until soft (until you can put a fork through it)
3.) Mince the fresh garlic
4.) Add cooked cauliflower, garlic, soymilk, yogurt, cheese, butter, salt & pepper to a Vitamix blender or food processor.  Turn blender or food processor on LOW (do not turn it higher)
5.) Use the blending stick to mash up ingredients if using the blender
6.) When all ingredients are blended evenly throughout the mash is done
7.) Add mash to the serving dish and sprinkle with fresh chopped chives

Vitamins A, Bs, B6, C, K
Trace Mineral Boron
Folic Acid
Pantothenic acid

Cauliflower contains compounds that may help prevent cancer.  These compounds appear to stop enzymes from activating cancer-causing agents in the body. Beet Greens stimulates the detoxification process of the liver.  The greens are also recognized for their anticancer properties. Garlic has been known to decrease LDL cholesterol while increasing the “good” HDL cholesterol levels.  In addition, garlic also decreases blood pressure, protects against colon cancer, and has antibacterial properties that acts as an infection fighter.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

My Diet Experiment

My Journey from Carnivore to Raw Vegan and Learning to Listen to my Body Along the Way...

So what made me want to start this journey in the first place? I started paying attention to how I felt after I ate certain meals and then I would write it down in a journal.  I began to notice a trend that every time I ate red meat I would feel tired, sluggish, and over filled.  So I decided to do a “self-test” and exclude red meat from my diet for one month.  What I found was that I had more energy, clearer skin, improved digestive function, and unintentional weight loss.  After this month it was clear that I was no longer going to eat red meat.

After my experiment with excluding red meat, curiosity got the best of me and I decided I would try going without any processed meats including hot dogs, pre-packaged sandwich meats, bacon, ect.  I would only eat poultry (chicken, turkey) or seafood.  After another 30 days I felt even better than before. My mind was clear, I had an abundant amount of energy, my stomach was flat and I began to loose that bloated feeling I had while eating processed meats.

After these two months I was feeling pretty good.  But! I’m sure you guessed it! I decided to go even further.  The third month I cut out all meat and seafood, and ate a vegetarian diet.  Since I was knowledgeable in health and fitness I felt that I would know how to supplement my diet so that I would still be getting a sufficient amount of the necessary essential amino acids and other nutrients.   During this month I continued to feel more energetic and unintentionally loosing more weight.  At this point the majority of my protein came from eggs or protein powders. 

I continued on this vegetarian diet for about two months, then decided to go to the extreme and try out the raw vegan diet.  I did this for six months! If you know anything about this diet it does not include any alcohol, caffeine, meat, dairy, or eggs, and everything is eaten unheated.  I was very inspired by this diet as it felt like it was the path to optimal health.  At the end of these six months I had lost an additional 12 pounds and had clear glowing skin.  I was never trying to loose weight intentionally but it happened as a side effect, and some of the weight loss came from muscle loss.  At this point it was becoming very difficult socially to go out with friends since you really couldn’t eat anything in a normal restaurant, except a garden salad (no croutons!), with lemons as your dressing. I will admit that I felt pretty good while on the diet despite the muscle loss, however, it was not a sustainable lifestyle for me.

I want to share what I have learned through this experience and how you can take bits and pieces from each segment to create a perfect healthy diet and lifestyle that is right for you.  Now I eat a highly vegetarian diet with moderate amounts of chicken or turkey and unlimited amounts of healthy seafood, especially wild Alaskan salmon. No red meat and no processed meat period. I eat lots of fruits and veggies, egg whites, and other healthy non-processed foods. I also learned a lot of food preparation techniques from the raw food diet that I still use today.

The lesson I learned was that you need to listen to your body and do what is right for you.  If you always feel tired and run down then start writing everything down that you put into your mouth and how you feel after you eat it.  I guarantee you will start to notice some trends.  Then do your own "self-test" by eliminating certain foods you feel may be causing your issues.  During this time write down how you are feeling and if there is any improvement in your symptoms (headaches, fatigue, weight loss, clearer skin, ect.), if there is then woola!