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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Live Above The Influence! ....of American Food Marketing

Here is my little vent for the evening....

I just discovered a TV show -Private Chefs of Beverly Hills (Food Network) As a private cook and student in culinary school, I was naturally excited to find something on television that I can relate to.  Just as I am empathizing Chef Sasha's anxiety, a commercial inevitably pops on...

What was the commercial, you ask? 
At first glance, I thought it was a spoof from SNL.  But as the commercial progressed, I realized the over-bronzed 'actress' was none other than my fellow NJ native, "Snookie," from The Jersey Shore. May I just say, yikes.  I understand marketing enough to realize why this company decided to hire a familiar face. That being said, I may not be buying Pistachios for a while, at least not until the commercial stops airing. An indecently dressed Snookie, cracking a pistachio open on a tanning bed does not seem to be a picture of health to me. I mean, call me crazy but- why intoxicate the picture of health commonly associated with a natural food?

To make matters worse....

 After the Seaside heights nut advertisement,( pun?)  I was subjected to a High Fructose Corn Syrup commercial. When will it end!!!??? I beg you... PLEASE do not give in to commercials that make wild claims. These companies are preying on vulnerability of you-the potential client. 

Exhibit A- High Fructose Corn Syrup- commercial paid for by the Corn Farmers of America. I am ALL about farms, especially when farms practice ethically and environmentally.  That being said, please be cautious. Corn is highly subsidized in the US and therefore is mass produced as a GMO 'franken food.' Be weary of your food.

 The combination of an interesting TV show shadowed briefly by these commercials is a shame. I will Tivo my new Chef-centric find and move on... But please, do yourself a favor and continue to choose foods that make you feel good. Advertisements for poor food choices are all around you. 
Above the Influence! 
 (haha I know I stole this from an anti-alcohol campaign, but hey, it is true!)

For more information on the future of HFCS:

Stay Well

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Power your Morning in ONLY 20 MINUTES!!

Power your morning in as little as 20 minutes! 

Try this quick routine that will keep your metabolism buzzing all day! Quick, enjoyable, and delightfully challenging. If you aren't into working out, You will not dread your morning workouts any longer! 

**2 minutes fast paced walk/ alternating lunges
**2 minutes running as fast as you can
**1 minute recovery walk. 

Repeat this 5 minute interval 3 more times for a Total of 20 minutes and not only will you feel great, but you will be toning muscle while boosting your metabolic rate as well! What could be better? 

(adapted from Jackie Warner, Personal Trainer and star of Bravo's Thintervention 


Sunday, September 26, 2010

"Life's Lemonade"

I have not posted in far too long. I can give you the reasons but I would bore you with my tales of moving and transitioning into a new job and school. But while I am on the subject of transitions, let me go ahead and talk about how we can better our health despite the hardships we will inevitably face...

It is inarguable that at one time (or 10 times) we will be faced with changes in our lives. How do you handle life's unexpected loops?

A move, a birth, a union, a divorce, a death, getting fired, starting a new job, foreclosures, new relationships,  new school, etc. Do any of these scenarios apply to you? At some point we all must face the reality that despite life's "lemons," we must persevere and continue to pick up the pieces and make "lemonade."

I know you are thinking, okay Mich..easier said than done. And yes, you are correct. I understand and empathize with people who are struggling to deal with the changes in their lives. I too have been to a dark place of uncertainty and did not know how to deal with what had happened at the time. I felt alone, depressed, and unmotivated. Are these familiar feelings to any of you? If not, perhaps you have found the secret recipe for what I am referring to as "life's lemonade" and I congratulate you. But in case you have felt similar feelings, I think it is important to know that may others experience it as well and along with those aforementioned feelings, comes stress.

 Stress is an ugly emotion that will not only cause you to feel anxious and tense, but it also affects sleep patterns, hormone levels (think insulin and cortisol), weight gain, and your overall well-being. During change and transition times in our lives we are CHALLENGED to change our routine.
    ** Maybe you used to get up and have a morning coffee with breakfast but your new job starts earlier and you only have time to shower and head out the door after packing the kids' lunch, making sure the dog is fed, and trying to look presentable for the new boss.. get to work on time (phew!) but now your hunger is consuming your morning and you find it difficult to work diligently. 

This is obviously only one example, but you get the point. Keeping yourself healthy is just as important, if not more important, as keeping your family life and career on point.

Are you having difficulty maintaining YOUR health during this time of economic difficulty and tightly packed schedules? Here are a few tips to keep your body in great shape both internally and externally.

Drink more water and herb teas, avoid caffeine!  Your morning Joe is just fine but those afternoon and late evening "pick me ups" are getting a bit ridiculous. Reduce your intake slightly each day and eventually you will see, you don't really need ALL that caffeine anyway. Caffeine is a dehydrator when consumed in excess so chances are if you are sleepy, water will do you better anyway.

BreakfastKeep quick morning meals in the refrigerator or freezer and grab them on your way out the door. ( GREAT CHOICES WOULD BE: Greek Yogurt with and Apple or Banana, Whole grain muffin with nut butter, Low fat Cheese and a fruit, or prepare a meal the night before and grab it before you leave) The protein and fiber in these choices will keep you focused through your busy morning.

Snacks: Try to have satisfying healthy snacks ready-prepared the night before so that you are not worrying about you and your family only having a processed snack option due to time constraints (think Carrot sticks, red pepper sticks, apple slices, grapes, cheese sticks, organic yogurt drinks, and when buying the processed snacks, always go for whole grain and minimally processed, all-natural boxed and bagged snacks. If possible I always recommend going organic when it comes to snacks because it guarantees safer ingredients (ie. no high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, artificial flavors, colors, dyes).

Lunch: AVOID THE DRIVE-THRU!   Even you salad-buyers be weary!  Many salads served at chain restaurants have more calories than a Big Mac! Salad dressings alone can pack up to 400 calories a serving especially if you ask for extra!  Try to brown bag your lunch by packing a smart option the night before. I know you are probably saying to yourself that you do not have time, etc. to do that. So you have a choice, you can make the time and know you are making a smart investment in yourself or  look for restaurants that take pride in their ingredients-Whole Grains (100% whole wheat), Healthy Oils (Olive), Lean Proteins (chicken breast). When going to the drive thru this seems near impossible, so the rule of thumb is to order as healthy as possible and really pay attention to when you are no longer hungry. It is so easy, especially when we are busy, to overeat mindlessly.

Dinner: Kids are home, spouse is home, dog is barking, TV is on.. aka Chaos is taking over the house and you still have to make dinner. What to do? Pop in a frozen processed meal of course! NOT....
try to find quick family meals that everyone will enjoy. Search engines online today are choc' full of information about quick, healthy recipes that will satisfy the whole family. Kids Picky Eaters? go to HEALTHBARN USA for some great ideas.

EXERCISE: If you find it difficult to find time for a proper workout, do little things to challenge your body throughout your day

  • Take the stairs: Up and down! Great for your booty and heart rate!
  • Park in a far spot in the parking lot
  • Plan a walk during your lunch break
  • Stretch frequently

Before I sign off, I want to leave you with this image.. 
Think about what flight attendants direct you to do in case of an emergency. If you need an oxygen mask, before assisting others, even your children, first place the mask on yourself.
 Think of health the SAME way!! If you do not help yourself, you can not properly keep anything else together. 

Stay Well

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Indigestion, acid reflux, heart burn, GERD...COOL the Heat in your chest!

You just ate a big meal....maybe you started with an appetizer of fried jalapeno poppers... next you ordered a Margarita...maybe a Burger for dinner and Ice Cream for dessert. You were satisfied after the third popper and Margarita but "the food looked sooooo good" and you "deserved a great meal after a long hard working day." After the meal, you are quite full, but it was "so worth it." You plop on the couch as your great big meal tries to work it's way down to your stomach. All is well for a short window of time and then you start to feel it ... a bubble, a burp, a BURN. "Ouch, yuck, ugh. Why does this always happen to me?!"  hmm....maybe now you realize..."it was soo NOT worth it."

Even if you are thinking my example is extreme and you are only an occasional sufferer of acid indigestion, I am sure it would help to know WHY it is happening and WHAT the long term affects of even a slight burn can have on your body...

We are all aware that when we eat, food has got to make it's way from point A (consumption) to point B (elimination).  To do that, our bodies work hard to make sure we utilize nutrients from our food efficiently and effectively.  As our food works down our bodies, it is being pushed through by a process called Peristalsis. As peristalsis aids our food through canals to our stomachs, it must pass through 5 sphincters before final emission through our anus.  * A sphincter is comparable to a kink in a garden hose. Think of the consistent flow of water through a hose. Now imagine you block off five sections of that hose through separate kinks.  In order for water to continue it's flow from the main water supply through the opening, it must be unkinked. By relaxing the kink, water can continue to flow. Similarly, our food will travel down our bodies, breaking down and metabolizing along the way, until it reaches a sphincter or "kink." Once there, our bodies naturally know to relax that "kink," sphincter, valve-whatever you want to call it- and food can continue to be processed and broken down for absorption.

sphincter /sphinc·ter/ (sfingk´ter) [L.] a ringlike muscle which closes a natural orifice or passage.

Our body has five sphincters...Specifically, after the first 'kink' (esophagus) relaxes to release food to the second area of digestion (stomach), the kink should re close automatically until it needs to release more food later on. HOWEVER- if you have an over surplus of food your body, or your sphincter is compromised due to other factors, you may may experience a BACK FLOW or "reflux."

 Observe above diagram ^^ and this brief clip>> GERD

If you frequently experience symptoms of acid reflux, do not panic and run off to the doctor. FIRST try to change a few dietary habits for a brief time and see if you notice any improvement. If you are continuing to suffer after a few months on your new alkalized diet, consult a physician.  But please LET surgery and medication be a last resort. They are both time consuming and costly in contrast to a slight dietary change.

Here are a few slight but significant changes to start with:

LIMIT these highly ACIDIC foods:

Black Pepper



Fatty food

Fried food



Orange juice


Soft drinks

Tomato sauce


Adopt these healthy habits and avoid pain!

Maintain a healthy weight. 
Extra weight is sure to add pressure on your abdomen, pushing up your stomach and causing acid to back up into your esophagus.

Avoid tight fitting clothing.
 Think tight jeans or tight undergarments pressing against your stomach so much that your stomach is pressing against your sphincter.

Avoid foods and drinks that trigger heartburn.
 Avoid the foods you know tend to trigger your heartburn.

Eat smaller meals.
 Too much food=too much acid= back flow...OUCH!

Delay lying down after a meal. 
Help gravity out! Stay upright for at least 2-3 hours. 

Stop smoking. 
Smoking disrupts normal function by over relaxing sphincters.  #1 cause of heart burn!

As ALWAYS... enjoy foods in moderation. 
You never have to completely eliminate any food or drink from you diet.
 It is usually never the poison, but the DOSE!

questions? comments? 
Send me an e-mail, FB message or Comment!

Stay Well

Friday, July 16, 2010


If you are wondering why nutrition and eating healthy is super confusing I can give you a hint.. it is because every body is different and therefore our dietary needs will differ as well. 

I am often approached about a variety of personal health issues and ailments. Diabetes, cholesterol, hypertension, weight loss, muscle gain, etc. When I discuss nutrition with clients, I must ask an abundance of questions related to medical and family history, dietary habits, and lifestyle to gain perspective on that individuals personal needs. The answers are always very different from client to client and therefore it is not possible to create one magic universal formula that will solve everyone's concerns.  Diabetes intervention differs greatly from cholesterol issues, and high blood pressure, and weight gain, and weight loss, etc. Of course it is confusing to most people. "Should I eat gluten free?" "Is sugar free a wise choice?" "Should I have margarine or real butter?" The answers to those questions are specific to the type of dietary issue each person is addressing. Therefore- Nutrition is Subjective....

If you are serious about getting healthy TODAY and truly want to be healthy forever you need to know two things:


Do not get frustrated if you have a friend who is very thin and seems to be able to eat whatever she wants and never gain a pound. Just because someone is thin does not mean that everything is working up to par inside her body.  You may be frustrated because you have weight to lose and you seem to be eating very healthy while your friends maintain their small frames and eat junk foods. Trust me, in the long run those who choose natural foods and eat with a healthy mind are WAY better off.  

That being said, as your journey into healthy living continues, be conscious of what nutrition topics may pertain to you.  Whether you are reading my blog,  a book, or an article in a magazine or medical journal- try to find the answers to specific questions that will help you progress and become successful on your path to feeling great.

Seek professional advice or start your own research about your own personal goal.We all need help at some point and WHERE THERE IS A WILL- THERE IS A WAY! You can become whatever you want to, you just have to believe in yourself. 

I promise to you- If you think you have reached your maximum potential, you may be surprised by what a little knowledge can do for you. 

I believe....

You can have a will but if you do not know everything you need to know, that "will" can only take you so far!

Continue to educate yourself by reading up on healthy lifestyle through credible resources. Stay AWAY from quick fixes and products that claim to solve your problem in one week, or "60 seconds!" Our bodies need time to adapt to change but if you can become consistent and patient in your healthy modifications, you will reap the ULTIMATE BENEFIT of feeling great forever. 

I was once told- if you often find yourself wishing you could do something, find someone who is great  at that thing and ask them how to do it. Makes perfect sense, yes? 

I encourage you to ask questions. There are never any stupid questions. AND if you ask me a question, I guarantee you that I will incorporate it into a blog post! We ALL benefit from answers to others' questions. 


Stay Well

Questions? Comments? LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW or find me on FACEBOOK 

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Does Milk do a Body GOOD?

Heavy Cream
Half & Half

Nutrition is an ever changing field, and the lends no exception to the constant evolution of our food supply.  With all of the options in our grocery stores, how do we decide which options are best for our bodies?  The integrity of our dairy products has been a hot topic abundantly in the last decade. I've done the proper research and I'm here to clear some things up as well as offer my professional opinion. Here we go..


I am going to start by talking about Cow's Milk... (as we can see from the above list, milk is readily available from many animal and plant sources). 

So your Doctor and Milk ads tell you to drink lots of milk because "Milk will build strong bones!" Well this is not completely accurate.. The truth is that calcium and Vitamin D build strong bones. Are they both found in dairy? Yes. However, Calcium and Vitamin D are more abundant in most foods such as vegetables!

There may be 30% of your Calcium requirement in a dairy product but that means ABSOLUTELY NOTHING if your body is not absorbing the calcium and utilizing it to "build strong bones."

What I mean is, that the calcium found in dairy has been proven to actually cause bone loss. This is because as we digest that dairy product, our body is requiring a series of reactions that turn excess protein from milk into urea in the liver. The Urea creates a diuretic action in the kidney, which causes our body to leach minerals from our stores including calcium through the urine!!

Numerous studies have been done proving that the common American, high protein diet and calcium store losses are directly related.  There is also NO scientific evidence proving that consuming milk will increase bone density. We are being fooled by media and advertisements backed by the people who make the product-dairy farmers.

(DO NOT get me wrong.. I am 100% for agriculture and farmers is the farms that are subsidized by the government and who choose not to follow natural food production that get me goin...)

****FUN FACT****
On Pitcairn Island, in the Pacific, they tried unsuccessfully to introduce the dairy cow. 
The attempt failed because of the Island’s rough terrain. 
These people had lived their lives without dairy products, so it was no great loss.

Babies require milk from their mothers to build necessary enzymes and digestive properties. But just like every other animal on our planet, we are not meant to drink milk after infancy. Mother's milk is full of wonderful antibodies and proteins and it is not able to be reproduced by man! BREAST IS BEST! FORMULA IS NO WHERE NEAR THE NUTRIENT EQUIVALENCE OF MOTHER'S MILK.

you want strong bones? Avoid Cow's Milk..You are better off getting it from these sources!

USDA nutrition references the calcium content in mg/ 8 oz (1 cup)

Specialty foods
Carrot juice, fresh- 57mg
Fish, canned salmon eaten with bones- 440mg
Fish, canned sardines or mackerel eaten with bones- 569mg
Molasses, black strap- 2820mg (176.2 per tablespoon) !!!!!!
Molasses, unsulphured- 672mg, 42 per tablespoon
Sesame butter (unhulled sesame seeds)- 1022, (63.9 per tablespoon)
Sesame butter/ tahini from hulled or decorticated seeds- 315.2mg (19.7 per tablespoon)
Soy beverage, unfortified-9.8mg
Soy beverage, calcium-fortified variable, check nutrition information; approx 200mg
Tofu, firm, prepared with calcium- 1721mg
Tofu, regular, prepared with nigari- 260mg 

Dark green leafy vegetables 
cooked turnip greens- 450mg
cooked bok choy- 330mg
cooked collards- 300mg
cooked spinach- 250mg
cooked kale- 200mg (absorbed more readily than most sources)!
parsley- 200mg
cooked mustard greens- 180mg
dandelion greens- 150mg
romaine lettuce- 40mg
head lettuce- 10mg

soy- 50mg
mung- 35mg
alfalfa- 25mg

Sea vegetables (seaweed)(dried powdered form)
nori- 1,200mg (good news for you sushi eaters)!
kombu- 2,100mg
wakame- 3,500mg
agar-agar 1,000mg (62.5 per tablespoon)

Beans and Peas (cooked, ready to eat)
navy beans- 140mg
soybeans- 130mg
pinto beans- 100mg
garbanzo beans- 95mg
lima, black beans- 60mg
lentils- 50mg
split peas- 20mg

tapioca (dried)- 300mg
brown rice, cooked- 20mg
quinoa, cooked- 80mg
corn meal, whole grain- 50mg
rye flour, dark- 40mg
oats- 40mg
tortillas, corn, calcium fortified (2)- 120mg
tortillas, flour or unfortified (2)- 23mg
whole wheat flour- 50mg

raw oysters- 240mg
shrimp- 300mg
salmon with bones- 490mg
mackerel with bones- 600mg
sardines with bones- 1,000mg

almonds- 750mg
hazelnuts (filbert)- 450mg
walnuts- 280mg
sesame seeds (whole, unhulled) 2,200mg!!!
sunflower seeds- 260mg

HERBS containing calcium
borage, lamb's quarter, wild lettuce, nettles, burdock, yellow dock

1. Heaney RP, Weaver CM. Calcium absorption . Am J Clin Nutr 1990; 51:656-657. 2.

Birth to 6 months210 mg210 mg
7-12 months270 mg270 mg
1-3 years500 mg500 mg
4-8 years800 mg800 mg
9-13 years1,300 mg1,300 mg
14-18 years1,300 mg1,300 mg1,300 mg1,300 mg
19-50 years1,000 mg1,000 mg1,000 mg1,000 mg
50+ years1,200 mg1,200 mg

*****FUN FACT: Sesame seeds contains 2,200 mg. of calcium 
compared w/  280 mg. of poorly absorbed calcium in 8 oz Milk.

As always, remember that if you LOVE dairy, enjoy it! Moderation is key so just monitor your intake of dairy products, and when possible buy organic low fat milks for optimal health.

Stay Well

Sunday, June 27, 2010



Sugar is a tricky, tricky thing.  As you may know from reading my past blog on Carbohydrates, all Carbs (good and bad) eventually are broken down into their simpler parts. These "parts" are actually different sugars. When we eat a whole grain, the fiber and other wonderful bits are digested slower into our blood streams. This is a major Thumb Up! When we eat simple carbohydrates (all the white stuff) we absorb the sugar so rapidly that it is dangerous to our hormone levels.. Thumbs wayyyy Down.  

This hormone reaction ( you may have heard of insulin spikes, or insulin resistance) can cause many ailments to our bodies including Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, and Cancer!
Now.. I have also talked about fruits being a source of Natural Sugar.  Fructose is the sugar found in fruits and it is actually digested and absorbed in our bodies similarly to other refined (bad) carbs. 

So what gives?? "Why is fruit considered healthy and my pastry so terrible?"
Lets have a closer look...

Fruit grows in nature. Anything that grows from the ground, or has a Mother is considered Natural. Pretty simple, yes? The wonderful thing about foods provided in nature is that they have been grown in a natural package. FOR EXAMPLE...

An apple has it's outer skin which is rich in fiber and enzymes that aid in digestion, etc.  The apple itself is rich in vitamins and minerals. When the apple is eaten in it's Whole, natural form, it is digested slowly and your body will retain all of its nutritional benefits. 

But take a slice of apple pie for instance...Same fruit, yes, however, the apple's skin has most likely been peeled. The apple is cut up and covered in spices and of course... refined sugar. (I wont even get into the detrimental effects of eating it's crust)..  The point is, now that it's skin is removed and it is cooked at a high temperature for a long period of time, the nutrients have been virtually removed and you are left with a load of refined sugars.

(of course there are exceptions to every rule but try to remember...)
*Food in its natural state-good
*Food taken from nature and altered-not good

WHAT'S MORE: When your body consumes refined sugars, it still requires the same enzymes and vitamins, that are normally found in fruits and vegetables, for digestion. So where does your body attain these enzymes? ... Your body will actually leech those essential nutrients from storage in your cells. This causes immune system malfunctions and cause people to get sick.

***FUN FACT***
I often hear people say to me "but sugar is natural." Sugar grows on a sugar cane. The initial product is a natural sweetened plant. But that sugar is taken to a factory and refined and you are left with a refined white powder. BEAR IN MIND...COCAINE IS ALSO GROWN ON A PLANT. When refined- cocaine and sugar have similar white consistencies. Just because something grows on a plant, does not ALWAYS mean that is healthy for our bodies. 

(click picture for more info on sugar cane) 

You may think that you are not consuming a lot of sugar in your day, but I urge you to take a better look at what you consume.

With all of the processed foods we eat, we are literally consuming more sugar than our bodies can handle and it is causing people to get very ill.  


Below is a list of sugars that are hiding in your foods:

  • barley malt
  • molasses
  • dehydrated cane juice
  • beet sugar
  • cane-juice crystals
  • cane sugar
  • caramel
  • carob syrup
  • corn syrup
  • corn syrup solids
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Raw sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Corn syrup
  • Demerara Sugar
  • Dextrose
  • Free Flowing Brown Sugars
  • Fructose
  • Galactose
  • Glucose
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Honey
  • Invert Sugar
  • Lactose
  • Malt
  • Maltodextrin
  • Maltose
  • Maple syrup
  • Muscovado or Barbados Sugar
  • Panocha
  • Powdered or confectioner's sugar
  • Rice Syrup
  • Sucrose
  • Sugar (granulated)
  • Treacle
  • Turbinado sugar
  • Diastatic malt
  • Diatase
  • Ethyl maltol
The Recommended Daily Allowance for sugar does not exist due to it's lack of nutrients. Added sugars are not meant to be consumed on a regular basis.  Remember that anything in moderation is okay, but it is hard to gauge how much sugar is a moderate amount due to it being hidden in our everyday foods. As usual, I urge you to read your ingredients! Check those sugar levels and try to moderate your intake.

Try these tips to help you with your continual road to success!!

  1. Nix the soda! (even diet sodas are filled with artificial chemical sweeteners that act as addictive drugs in our brain causing us to crave more sugary snacks throughout the day)
  2. Try Stevia instead of your pink, blue, and yellow packets! Stevia is the only 0 calorie sweetener that is 100% from a plant called the stevia plant. (My favorite brand- Stevia in the raw! Try 1 packet  in your next cup of coffee or sprinkled over some plain yogurt..mmm)
  3. Eat more fruit! Next time you crave something sweet grab some berries! The full package of enzymes and vitamins to build your health and immune system! 
  4. Dilute your Juice.  If you are a juice drinker, try to cut your juice to half water and half juice. This virgin cocktail can be a real treat! (try sparkling water, splash of cranberry and a squeeze of lime for great summer virgin cocktail without all of the sugar/ calories!!)
  5. Dark Chocolate!  If you just have to have candy, go dark (more than 70% dark) Dark chocolate is a great source of antioxidants for fueling your body and brain!
Stay Well

****FUN FACT****
One teaspoon of granulated white sugar is equal to about 4.2 grams! Imagine a bottle of soda with 40 grams of sugar. Now imagine eating roughly 10 teaspoons of sugar...