Get in the Groove of Good Health
Jump start your health journey now, with my Healthy Quick Start Guide, which has Golden Rules, Superfoods, and The Not So Groovy steps you can start-with today.
- Eat a rainbow of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes that are in season. The best vegetables and juice is green as they are higher in nutrient content and naturally cleans your blood of toxins.
- Eat complex carbohydrates like sweet potato and gluten free whole grains such as amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, gluten free oats, millet, wild rice, sorghum, and corn. Limit simple carbohydrates like white rice, bread, pasta as well as sugar.
- Drink plenty of alkalized/ionized water — at least half you body weight in ounces. Drink more if you are exercising, detoxifying or taking medication.
- Portions — Fill half your plate with vegetables and fruits and split the remaining half with a high quality protein and complex carb.
- Eat healthy fats from healthy oils such as olive, coconut, hemp or flax. Include avocados, seeds, and nuts.
- Red meat and other animal products should be organic, which are lower in calories, contain more nutrients, and contain more conjugated linoleic acid which provides defense against disease.
- Avoid pork which can create toxins in your body and is hard to digest.
- Limit processed foods which is anything that is in a box, can or bag. This includes fast food.
- Limit dairy consumption — use non dairy alternatives such as rice, almond, oat, hemp, flax or coconut products (milk, butter, yogurt, ice cream).
- Avoid anything artificial — sweeteners, preservatives, (nitrates, nitrites, and sulfites), MSG, artificial colors, hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup.
- Limit caffeine and alcohol.
- Never use corn or vegetable oil for cooking as heating them creates toxins and inflammation.
- Avoid fried foods, which also create toxins in the body.
- Quit smoking.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Do not eat after 8 pm.
- Engage in physical activity for at least 30 minutes, 4 times per week.
- Engage in stress reducing activities such as stretching, yoga, meditations, relaxation.
Why to eat them: A heart healthy tree nut rich in protein and calcium. Just a handful may lower your LDL cholesterol.
How to eat them: Raw, almond butter on toast or an almond butter and jelly sandwich. In salads or baked goods and for those that don’t do dairy … buy Almond Milk, your kids will love it.
Why to eat it: The fiber moves LDL cholesterol out of your body. The skin has antioxidant phytochemicals. Portable, sweet and easy to eat!
How to eat it: raw, baked, dried, applesauce. Organic always since it’s the one of the top ‘Dirty Dozen’ and heavily sprayed with pesticides.
Why to eat it: Avocados have loads of potassium (prevents heart attacks, kidney failure and strokes), fiber (makes you feel fuller, longer which is great for weight loss), and antioxidants (great for eye health).
How to eat it: Simply cut around the avocados, remove the pit, then scoop out the flesh with a spoon. You can eat avocado alone or put it on virtually anything — salads, sandwiches, burgers.
Why to eat it: A day’s worth of potassium, one essential mineral that helps your heart beat and important for your muscular and digestive system. They are also packed with fiber. You can say they help everything FLOW better. 😀
How to eat it: I like mine with almond butter and honey to cure my afternoon sweet tooth. You can also put them in yogurts, cereals or just as an on the go quick snack that will fill you up!
Why to eat them: You don’t get a website named after you for nothing! You can’t beat beets for their naturally occurring nitrates that protect and cleanse your liver, ridding your body of toxins. Beets contain folate, an important nutrient for pregnant women to prevent birth defects. They promote the growth of red blood cells, fight cancer and lower heart disease risk. Personally, I love them because they give me energy and endurance, something that is increasingly important to me as I get older and my kids get more active!
How to eat them: This is one thing I like to buy prepared in the ready-to-eat area of the store. I find that if I have them ready to go, I will eat them as a side dish with balsamic and goat cheese or throw them on top of a salad. Can’t take the taste? Buy beet powder in your local health store and put it you know where … in your smoothie of course!
Why to eat it: Cheap and easy, they are high in protein and packed with fiber so you stay full and energized for a long time. Black beans are also high in anthocyanins which may inhibit the growth of cancer cells. They are anti-inflammatory and regulate blood sugar, a must for diabetes.
How to eat it: Great for Southwest dishes such as tacos and burritos. But I like them tossed in a salad, made into a burger or blended as a dip to eat with chips during a football watching party.
Why to eat them: These are little memory-boosting, heart-protecting, urinary tract-supporting and immune-boosting little boogers. Did I say that?
How to eat them: Raw, on cereal or yogurt or how about this: blend with frozen bananas and you have — BLUEBERRY ‘ICE CREAM’!
Why to eat it: OK, you knew this was coming. It’s a cruciferous veggie that we all know has anti-cancer benefits but did you know it also helps regulate blood pressure and reduce your heart disease risk which is essential for anyone trying to get their groove back.
How to eat it: I buy it organic and frozen then either throw it in my steamer for 15 minutes if I’m in a hurry or roast it with extra-virgin olive oil, garlic powder and onion flakes as an easy side dish that tastes good!
Why to eat it: Another cruciferous veggie that gives you similar benefits to broccoli but with something special, sulfur. Sulfur compounds called glucosinolates may lower the risks of breast, lung, stomach and prostate cancers.
How to eat it: Same as broccoli. Steamed or roasted are my favs.
Why to eat them: These little things pack a lot of plant-based omega 3 fatty acids to boost your brainpower and your mood. They are also an emulsifier, which expand in your belly to keep you full for a long time which means you are not hungry. A great thing if you are trying to lose weight.
How to eat them: Sprinkle on oatmeal, cereal, yogurt or salad. When I blend them in my morning smoothie, I’m not hungry for about 5 or 6 hours.
Why to eat it: They don’t call it the ‘Coconut Oil Miracle’ for nothing! This super powerhouse is a healthy medium chain saturated fat that is an anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. It also helps to improve LDL and HDL cholesterol. Don’t let the fat fool you … it’s the fat that makes you thin by increasing your energy expenditure and making you burn more calories.
How to eat it: I brush a little on my chicken before i bake it, add 2 tablespoons to my smoothie and spread coconut butter on my toast. Oh, it makes a great moisturizer and after sun soother too!
Why to eat it: Why not?? Seriously, can you ask for a better health food than chocolate? Did you know that cacao is the #1 antioxidant in the world? Make sure your dark chocolate bar is at least 70% cacao. Combined with berries and … drum roll please … the antioxidant value goes up THREE fold! Who said health food was boring? Just an ounce a day or you will defeat the purpose.
How to eat it: I break off a square from a dark chocolate bar every day for an after lunch desert … just enough to satisfy my sweet tooth. My kids like chocolate fondue with strawberries, pineapples and bananas for a once in a while fun time.
EXTRA-VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
Why to eat it: You may already know it’s high in the good-for-your heart monounsaturated fat but did you know that it also helps to lower cholesterol and inflammation? Inflammation leads to chronic diseases … get the picture?
How to eat it: Just a little in your sautéing dishes goes a long way.
Why to eat them: Like Chia, these little seeds are packed with protein and plant based omega 3 ALA, making them a heart healthy addition to your day.
How to eat them: I make sure to buy only ground flax since they are tough to chew whole. Then I sprinkle on salads, cereal and oatmeal or throw a tablespoon in the batter when making pancakes for the kids.
Why to eat it: Full of fiber and antioxidants this cruciferous veggie helps to fight cancer. It’s also high in vitamin K which aids in blood clotting and cell growth.
How to eat it: Kale chips actually taste pretty good, my kids have even nibbled on them from time-to-time. My husband likes it sautéed with olive oil, garlic and onion for an emerald green side dish to any meal. Add dried cranberries and it’s almost too pretty to eat!
Why to eat them: Lots of potassium and magnesium for blood pressure regulation. Their fiber helps to reduce LDL cholesterol as well. They are antioxidant rich and full of iron and protein.
How to eat them: Put them in chili, salads, and dips. See my Texas-Caviar recipe for a yummy way to get your beans.
Why to eat them: Full of iron, fiber and protein and they are easier than some other beans to make — no soaking required! No sulfur included in them which means NO GAS! YAY!
How to eat them: They come in an array of colors so get creative by adding them to soups, stews, veggie wraps or salads.
Why to eat them: This low calorie vegetable is packed with Vitamin A, fiber and beta carotene which protects your heart.
How to eat them: Pie of course! But make sure it’s clean with whole grain crust, low sugar and few ingredients. Check out my Fab Five Recipes for a pie to die for. More ideas include soups, mouses, dips, pancakes … and pasta dishes! It hides nicely in the pasta sauce for a little extra nutritional boost.
Why to eat it: Read carefully because this is rare — it’s not only a gluten free whole grain but it’s also a complex protein providing all of your amino acids. So it provides fiber, lowers heart disease and diabetes, while building muscles and increasing your metabolism. It’s the stud of grains.
How to eat it: Swap it for any rice.
Why to drink it: One or two glasses a day provides resveratrol that is linked to longevity by reducing diabetes and heart disease. And can I say, I think its stress-reducing benefits speak for themselves. Ahhhhh …
How to drink it: Is there a wrong way?
Why to eat it: Vitamin A, iron, calcium, folate and magnesium to name a few reasons. The dark green helps to detoxify your blood.
How to eat it: Personally, I have a hard time with raw spinach salads so I find that cooking it with a dash of olive oi, pepper, lemon juice and garlic makes it, oh, so good. My kids don’t know it but I hide it in their smoothie, chili, and pasta sauce. Shhhhhhh …
STEEL CUT OATMEAL
Why to eat it: Only lightly processed and additive free, the warm soothing dish is a great way to start the day! They have fiber, B vitamins, antioxidant and protein … yes, protein!
How to eat it: I like mine with dried fruit, walnuts, and a dash of raw brown sugar.
Why to eat it: They taste great and if that isn’t good enough they are also full of potassium which lowers blood pressure and reduce your risk of stroke. Buy organic and eat the skin for a healthier does of fiber.
How to eat it: I love them as potato skins. I eat the skin then use the pulp for mashed potatoes. Hubby likes to put spicy brown mustard on his for a little kick.
Why to eat them: Lots of nutrients including Vitamins A, C, and K and lycopene, which is good for your eyes and heart.
How to eat them: Anyway you want! Try soups, stews, on top of pasta, salads, in sandwiches or just sliced and sprinkled with a little pepper like my Dad used to eat them.
Why to eat them: They carry some of the highest antioxidant content than any other nut. The omega 3 makes it a heart healthy choice.
How to eat them: I just grab a small handful for a snack or put on top of my salad or oatmeal for a crunch.
Why to eat them: It’s green and it’s grass … need I say more? OK, I will … iron, calcium, magnesium, trace minerals, chlorophyll, Vitamin A, C, E. Some studies show that it could be used to treat cancer, anemia, diabetes., constipation, skin conditions and colon cleansing — among other health ailments.
How to eat them: I buy it at the health store in organic, frozen squares so that I can toss it in my morning smoothie and avoid the grassy taste.
WILD ALASKAN SALMON
Why to eat it: Especially high in omega 3s and Vitamin D.
How to eat it: Grill it or bake it with a little lemon and pepper. Simple.
HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP
This is my #1 on the gross-o-meter. If there was just one thing on my list, this would be it. For anyone trying to get healthy, lose weight or feel good — this is a MUST DITCH. Other places to find HFCS: ketchup, sauces, salad dressings, bread, baked beans, processed snacks, packaged fruits and vegetables.
The dangers of HFCS are real and documented and some are touting it as more dangerous than cigarettes to your health. It contributes to fat deposits in your liver and buildup of lipoproteins and it contributes in plaque buildup and narrowing of the arteries. Diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, tooth decay, heart disease, mood swings, LDL cholesterol and immune system damage are some of the effects of HFCS. ‘Some high-fructose corn syrup also contains mercury as a by-product of the manufacturing process. Many liquid calories, such as sodas, juices, and “sports” drinks contain this metabolic poison. It always signals low quality or processed food.’ (Dr. Mark Hyman — drhyman.com; 10 Rules to Eat Safely).
PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED OILS (TRANS FAT)
Trans fat is double trouble for your heart health. Trans fat raises your “bad” (LDL) cholesterol and lowers your “good” (HDL) cholesterol. When I was a teenager, I used to work in a movie theater which was an eye opening experience. As it turns out, the ‘butter’ that they put on the popcorn is not butter … it was hydrogenated soybean oil which came in a big round metal barrel that the theater hid in the back storage room. It was somebody’s job to go back and dip a big pitcher into the barrel and fill up the ‘butter’ dispenser in front so that they can pour more on your popcorn that is already ‘freshly’ popped in it. Did you wonder how the popcorn is that weird yellow color even if you don’t order it buttered? Interestingly, I also discovered that the leftover popped popcorn at the end of the day was sacked up and RE— USED the next day as it was mixed with fresh popcorn so as not to waste any. Bleh.
What is trans fat? Trans fat is made by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil through a process called hydrogenation, which makes the oil less likely to spoil. Using trans fats in the manufacturing of food helps foods stay fresh longer, have a longer shelf life and have a less greasy feel. Scientists aren’t sure exactly why, but the addition of hydrogen to oil increases your cholesterol more than do other types of fats. It’s thought that adding hydrogen to oil makes the oil more difficult to digest, and your body recognizes trans fats are saturated fats.
Commercial goods such as crackers, cookies, cakes, doughnuts and french fries may contain trans fats. Shortenings and some margarine can be high in trans fat. (Mayo Clinic; High Cholesterol).
Completely unnatural man-made fats created through the partial hydrogenation process cause dysfunction and chaos in your body on a cellular level, and studies have linked trans fats to health problems ranging from obesity and diabetes to reproductive problems and heart disease.(Dr. Mercola: Soybean Oil: One of the most harmful ingredients in processed food).
Food Coloring consists of chemicals used to add color to food. Food coloring (dye) is often added to processed foods, drinks, and condiments. They are used to maintain or improve the appearance of food.
Some food colorings are synthetically produced. Examples of these color additives include FD&C Blue Nos. 1 and 2 and FD&C Green No. 3. Other food colorings come from pigments of vegetables, minerals, or animals. Examples of these natural additives include beta-carotene, grape skin extract, caramel color, and saffron (WebMD Medical Reference).
Artificial coloring is a serious problem in fast food and fake food. A recent petition by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a consumer advocacy group, has called for a ban on the use of artificial dyes in food. The group has targeted its petition at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, seeking the phasing out of eight artificial food dyes linked to serious health risks.
Blue dye number 1 and 2 are linked with cancer in animal tests, while red dye number 3 causes thyroid tumors in rats. Green dye number 3 is linked to bladder cancer, and yellow dye number 6 is linked to tumors of the kidneys and adrenal glands. While these colors are readily used in most processed, prepared and packaged foods, what bothers me the most is that they are commonplace in the diets of children.
Most candy, cakes, cupcakes, baked goods, maraschino cherries, fruit cocktail, gelatin desserts, and soft drinks contain these harmful substances, which serve no other purpose than to make so-called food look “pretty”and attract children whose bodies are partially sensitive to them during the developmental years.
Synthetic food colors have been suspected of triggering behavioral problems in children since the 1970s, and a growing list of new studies show that synthetic dyes cause hyperactivity in sensitive and non-sensitive children.
A 2007 study commissioned by the British Food Standards Agency that linked a mix of food dyes, with increased levels of hyperactivity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and lower IQs in typical/ordinary children (Food, Matters, The Dark Side of Food Colors).
Artificial sweeteners are considered nonnutritive sweeteners because they provide no calories when consumed. There are many forms of artificial sweeteners, including Splenda (sucralose), Sweet’N Low (saccharin), Equal and NutraSweet (aspartame), acesulfame K and neotame.
A fact no one can dispute is that the controversial sweeteners are made from chemicals, some of which are known to be not only harmful, but truly toxic. Whether artificial sweeteners are dangerous for you may come down to how well-defended your own body is against the chemicals they contain. Here are some studies of side effects of artificial sweeteners:
Drinking one or more artificially sweetened carbonated diet drinks a day may be linked to an increased risk of premature birth, according to national study conducted by the Center for Fetal Programming in the Division of Epidemiology of Statens Serum Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark. The study examined the soft drink consumption of close to 60,000 Danish women. The study, published in the September 2010 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, concluded that those women who regularly drank artificial sweetened carbonated diet drinks were 78 percent more likely to have an early delivery than women who never drank the beverages. Women who consumed one or more of the diet drinks were 38 percent more likely to deliver early. Shelley McGuire, Ph.D., a National Spokeswoman for the American Society of Nutrition, says these findings “May be really important in term of preventing premature births.” (Livestrong.com; Premature Infant).
Rather than help with weight loss, artificially sweetened diet drinks may cause weight gain, according to a literature review by Qing Yang from the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at Yale University. The results, published in the June 2010 issue of the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, found that aspartame, acesulfame potassium and saccharin all heightened the motivation to eat more. Additionally, a sweet taste, from artificial or natural sweeteners, was found to enhance the human appetite. One theory is that artificial sweeteners, such as those in diet drinks, fail to activate the food reward pathways of the brain in the same satisfying way as natural sweeteners.
Daily drinkers of diet soda are 36 percent more likely to develop metabolic syndrome and had an elevated risk of 67 percent for type 2 diabetes in comparison to those who don’t drink it, according to a study authored by Jennifer A. Nettleton of the Division of Epidemiology at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center. Metabolic syndrome is a group of health conditions that put you at higher risk for diabetes, stroke and heart disease. Symptoms include a “spare tire” around the abdomen and a pro-inflammatory state. The results, reported in the April 2009 issue of the medical journal Diabetes Care, also found the daily consumption of diet soda significantly increased the risk of developing a large waist circumference. (Livestrong.com; Characteristics of Metabolic Syndrome).
Good job on taking the first steps on your health journey.