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The link between a healthy gut & happiness

Friday, January 16th, 2015

The Power of Pre-Biotics

You’ve probably heard that probiotics are good bacteria that are essential for your gut to be healthy and digest food optimally. You can take a probiotic supplement or eat foods like sauerkraut, yogurt, or miso that will increase the amount of these essential bacteria.

But have you heard about prebiotics?

Prebiotics are what feed the good bacteria and cause them to multiply, helping your digestion and your immune system function. You can get prebiotics from foods like raw dandelion greens, raw Jerusalem artichokes, and raw chicory roots.

But here’s a new twist: those prebiotics might make you happier too!
New research on humans suggests a connection between a healthy gut and lower anxiety, and that prebiotics lower cortisol levels, a stress hormone that has been linked to weight gain. Perhaps building and maintaining healthy gut bacteria is the next step in treating mental health, hormonal imbalances, and weight management.

For a recap of the study and conclusions read this Huffington Post article.

Episodes of gas, bloating, and lactose intolerance has decreased significantly, even when I eat foods I know are a problem for me. Small amounts no longer send me over the edge!

Nothing eclipses a healthy diet high in raw plant food, but careful supplementation can certainly help. I’ve been taking a pre/pro-biotic/digestive enzyme blend called Eaze since July. I reduced most of my digestive issues and food sensitivities through diet changes, but oh how I wish I’d been introduced to a pre/probiotic/enzyme combination earlier!

For a list of the different strains of pro/prebiotics in Eaze click HERE
To order click  HERE or contact me at

Eating to Manage Stress

Friday, February 7th, 2014

Although stress is a part of everyday life, left unmanaged it can overtax our systems and affect our emotional and physical health. According to a 2011 study by the American Psychological Association, 22% of Americans report experiencing  stress on a regular basis. Even though most people believe that stress contributes to a host of health problems, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and weight gain, very few people believe they are managing it very well. So how does stress impact our overall health and what steps can you take to reduce its effects? Scroll down for an explanation of what’s happening in your body and how to fight back!

Stress and the Immune System

Have you ever ended up very sick after a stressful event or a period of “burning the candle at both ends”.  The first line of defense against invading organisms is an immune globulin called IgA, Stress can cause a significant decrease in IgA.  One stressful episode of anger lasting five minutes can cause a decrease in secretory IgA that can last for up to five hours. It’s easy to see how regular periods of stress can leave you open to illness and infection.


White blood cells also play a vital role in a healthy immune system. A severe life stress can result in a 50% reduction in the effectiveness of white blood cells, decreasing the body’s ability to fight infections.


Additionally, our body releases Cortisol, a hormone excreted by the adrenal glands, during stressful situations. Our immune system is compromised when too much of this hormone is present in the body for an extended period of time.


Stress, Anxiety, and Mood

B vitamins play a key role in maintaining the health of your nervous system. When you’re under stress, your body uses up B vitamins to cope with the pressure, according to nutritionist/pharmacist James B. LaValle, author of “Cracking the Metabolic Code.” Anger and anxiety create adverse physiological conditions and can start a vicious cycle that feeds on itself. A stressed out mind creates a stressed out body, leading to an even more stressed mind.


What to Eat and What to Avoid


B vitamins are available in a wide variety of plant and animal food, however they are water soluble and our bodies do not store them. You must renew your supply every day with a healthy and varied diet. If you have high levels of stress in your life, you may need a B complex supplement as well.


Foods rich in minerals and B vitamins

Green leafy vegetables like romaine lettuce, kale, collard greens, and spinach
Whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and oats
Raw nuts and raw seeds such as almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds
Beans and lentils
Cruciferous vegetables like kale, cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage

Foods to Reduce or Eliminate

Coffee, tea, refined sugar and refined carbohydrates, gluten, and dairy can trigger an immune response in your digestive track, leading to an increase in stress hormones. Cutting these triggers out of your diet can lead to a healthier and more efficient digestive track.

The good news is we can eat to beat back stress, before it beats us! Try incorporating these simple suggestions into your daily habits, and help your body and mind stay ahead of the every day stressors of life!

New Year, New You: 3 ways to keep your 2014 Resolutions!

Friday, December 27th, 2013

A lot of us begin the New Year by making resolutions. We vow to lose weight, exercise more, or spend more time with our family. We start the year with great intentions, but then we quickly relapse into old habits. Why is it so hard to stick to those New Year’s resolutions? How can we make permanent changes, once and for all?

True life is lived when tiny changes occur.
-Leo TolstoyHere are 3 ways you can make your intentions a reality this year:

Write down your intentions and keep them in a visible place, like taped to your bedroom mirror or the dashboard of your car. Last year I made a “vision board” at our local yoga studio, Yoga Bliss, with pictures from magazines representing things I wanted to accomplish. One of those was a finish line, a runner, and the number 13.1. Seeing that board every day helped me run not one, but two half marathons in 2013!

Be clear about what your life would look like once you achieve your goal. If you resolve to go to the gym more, how will this benefit you? More energy long term? Stronger body? Get connected to the results of your action, and you will be more likely to stick with your plan.

Share your resolutions with friends and family. 
That’s right, tell people what your goal is! You won’t believe how powerful the motivation not to disappoint others or embarrass yourself truly is! Even better, get a buddy to join you at the gym, on a walk, or doing the F2L4 21 Day Cleanse, Balance, Thrive!

Looking for a program to jump start your healthy eating in 2014? If you need a kick in the pants, and someone to hold you accountable, The Food2Live4 21 Day Cleanse, Balance, Thrive! starts January 13th. Enroll by New Year’s Day and save $40!


Is Sulfur the secret?

Friday, November 29th, 2013

Is sulfur the secret to fighting fatigue, stress, cancer & even wrinkles?

Here’s why sulfur may be what’s missing from your diet.


Many of you may not know this, but sulfur plays an important role in the regeneration of our cells. Did you know sulfur is one of the most abundant minerals in the human body? At one time, sulfur content was high in our foods, but due to factory farming and the use of chemical based fertilizers, sulfur has all but been stripped from our food supply.

Since 1954, rates of disease have sky rocketed in our country.  1954 is also the year our government mandated the use of chemical fertilizers. Many scientists believe modern diseases are attributed to mineral deficiencies, and research shows that sulfur is one of the most important of the trace minerals.

Sulfur is involved in protein synthesis and helps with the production of collagen, which is the substance that forms connective tissues, cell structure and artery walls.  It’s also a part of keratin, which gives strength to hair, skin and nails and helps reduce signs of aging.

Sulfur reduces chronic pain, reduces muscle soreness and cramps, increases endurance, fights inflammation, increases muscle strength and energy, alleviates allergy symptoms and arthritis, helps regulate gastrointestinal distress, and improves cardiovascular function. It can help reduce symptoms of skin disorders such as acne, rosacea, psoriasis, and wrinkles and aging!

In Asia, sulfur is commonly used as an herbal medicine to treat inflammation and cancer. Sulfur and oxygen have similar electron configurations. What that means is that sulfur acts on body tissues by decreasing pressure inside the cell by removing fluids and toxins.  It eliminates heavy metals,and  regenerates and repairs cells in the body – even cancerous cells.

Where to you find high quality, organic sulfur?

Once I learned about the benefits of sulfur, I added to my daily routine and immediately noticed increased energy.  The best way to take it is in a small glass of 50/50 water and natural juice.  I take it with a superfruit  juice, GoYin from Genesis Pure.  It’s best to start with a small amount, like a ¼ teaspoon and work your way up to a tablespoon.  Go slowly, as you may find you have flu-like symptoms as your body detoxifies.  Genesis Pure has a wonderful organic sulfur product.  If you would like more information please email

Dinner Party Chocolate Torte

Monday, September 23rd, 2013


Oh yeah, this is a good one! Creamy texture, but not too dense, this torte sets up well overnight in the refrigerator and is easy to make. This is one to show your peeps that raw desserts are truly “Food2Live4”!


4 cups raw pecans
6 pitted dates, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a food processor until the nuts are well chopped and begins to stick together. Press into the bottom of a spring form cheese cake pan.


1 1/3 cups water
1 cup raw cacao powder or high quality cocoa powder
1 avocado
1 8 oz jar cashew butter, room temperature
3/4 cup coconut butter (NOT coconut oil)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup liquid sweetener (agave, coconut palm nectar,or maple syrup)

Combine the water, avocado, and cacao powder in a Vitamix or other high speed blender.*
Add remaining ingredients and blend until creamy, stopping occasionally to scrape down the container sides.

Pour filling into the springform pan and refrigerator overnight to set. When ready to serve, run a knife around the inside edge of the pan and pop off the outside rim. Top individual serving with raspberries or strawberries. You’ll get at least 12 servings.

*If you don’t have a Vitamix or BlendTec, combine the first 3 ingredients in a blender and then transfer to a mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix by hand until creamy and smooth.

Running for a Reason

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

Because Bad Things Happen to Good People

A health coaching client, and friend, was diagnosed with Cholangiocarcinoma, or bile duct cancer. Her name is Lisa Craine, and she has been bravely battling this disease for 3 years. She has followed the medical protocol for treatment, as well as taking steps to help her body fight the tumors and heal itself.  But bile duct cancer is relatively rare, and treatment protocols are not well established.

Some of you know I started running last year, just to see if I could finish a half marathon. Running seems to have taken root, and I’m hooked.  Some of you also know that I lost my mother in 2006 to cancer that metastasized throughout her body. Caring for her in my home until she passed was a turning point in my life. After the pain and grief subsided, I knew I needed to take much better care of myself. That realization led to many lifestyle changes, especially diet changes, and eventually to running.

How are Lisa’s battle and my running connected? When I crossed the Nashville half marathon finish line last April, I knew that race wouldn’t be my last. Now I’m running in the Akron Roadrunner half marathon on behalf of Lisa and to raise money for research into the causes and treatment for *Cholangiocarcinoma (see below).

Since my diagnosis in 2010, our family has been on a journey that has had many peaks and valleys. I have had over 20 hours of surgery, four different chemotherapy regiments and three rounds of radiation. My cancer has returned 5 times in 8 different tumors. 
I often tell people I should not be here since the survival rates are so poor, but God has blessed me with time. Our faith continues to grow as we experience the beautiful love from above. Cancer is not a blessing, but there are many blessings that come with cancer: The outpouring of love through friends, relatives and strangers. The appreciation of each and every day. The contentment of just being, and so many more blessings.” Lisa Craine

Can you support me along 13.1 miles on September 28, and donate to Craine’s Crew? Any amount is appreciated, and each dollar adds up.
To donate, please click

Thank you so much for your positive thoughts, prayers, and donations. It’s what keeps me pushing for the finish line, and keeps Lisa and her family feeling blessed.
Peace & Raw,

*Several factors have been linked to bile duct cancer, one of which is chemicals used in manufacturing rubber. Living most of my life in Northeast Ohio, and raising my family here, I am concerned about the link between environmental toxins and cancer. We need to research how to prevent and treat diseases that are related to the pollution of our nest, because it could happen to any of us, or to our children. For more information, visit

Vacation and Weight Gain: Simple Steps to Keep the Pounds Off!

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Seems like packing on a few pounds while vacationing is a forgone conclusion. I hear my friends and family bemoan the 5, 6, or even 10 pounds that came on fast but took its sweet time coming off. Cruises seem to be the biggest culprit, with food offered at all hours of the day, but any vacation has the potential to send your eating and exercise habits into a downward spiral!

Of course you want to enjoy yourself while traveling, but weight gain doesn’t have to be the end result. I returned yesterday from an extended-family vacation, 16 of us in all, at a resort in West Virginia. The resort is centered around golf, but offers other family oriented activities as well. After 4 days and nights, I was a little apprehensive to get on the scale. Imagine my delight when I weighed myself and I hadn’t gained! Not A Single Pound. How did I do it?


One of the main attractions at the resort (and just about any vacation!) is eating at the half dozen or so gourmet restaurants, and enjoying the extensive wine cellar. I usually pack my blender and bring my own green smoothie ingredients, but the hotel rooms we were in are not set up for preparing any of your own food. There isn’t even a coffee maker! If you want something, you go the dining rooms or call room service.

Since bringing some of my own food wasn’t an option, I was at the mercy of the kitchen. Make no mistake, this is steaks, chops, seafood type of resort that makes no apologies for the amount of butter, cream, salt and oil used! Fortunately, they also feature their own fresh garden vegetables grown on the premise. With a few tweaks and special requests, I could cobble together a healthy and satisfying meal every night, with some splurges thrown in so I didn’t feel deprived. See 8 Dining Room Tweaks & Tips for Saving Your Waistline, below. Also, I’m including my post-vacation, cellulite busting, Citrus Juice recipe. You’ll love it!


Even though I don’t golf, I made good use of the golf course and the nature path that loops around it. Two mornings, I got up at sunrise and ran 3.5 to 4 miles, just to make sure I had some good physical activity in before the day slipped away. I saw several others out walking or jogging too. Another day, my sisters-in-law joined me for an early six-mile, two-hour hike up the mountain ridge. We took the kids on a day long white water rafting trip, and that was an awesome adventure with plenty of upper body workout as well. The point is, don’t just lie by the pool. Get up, get out, and make physical activity part of every day. Skip the shuttle service or driving short distances. Walk or ride a bike. What’s your hurry? You’re on vacation!


That’s what you’re on vacation to do, right? Relax, enjoy your friends and family, and create lasting bonds and memories. Taking an afternoon nap at the pool, scheduling a service at the spa, and gathering for cocktails and games are my ways of having downtime. We even had a family croquet tournament! Find what recharges your batteries, whether it’s alone time or a group activity.

8 Dining Room Tweaks and Tips for Saving Your Waistline

  1. Read the whole menu, and look for vegetable side dishes that can be added to a salad or made larger into an entrée. At dinner one evening, the vegetable special of grilled zucchini, squash, and asparagus was my entrée. The Chef added a small amount of chevre and hummus and Voila’! Paired with a fresh green salad, a nice pinot noir, and a bite of my husband’s steak and dessert, it was perfect!
  2. I usually have a green smoothie or fresh juice for breakfast, but I know it’s hard to resist a large and elaborate breakfast buffet. DON’T EVEN LOOK AT WHAT IS ON THE BUFFET! Instead, order off the menu, keeping it simple with berries, muesli, a scrambled egg, or even just a banana. If you’re going to crash and burn, better to do it later in the day.
  3. I like to have a big salad at lunch, but with all the meat, cheese, and creamy dressings, a healthy salad can easily become a calorie bomb. Again, read the menu and ask for any veggies or fruit that you see on other salads to be added to yours. I don’t get an animal protein on my salad, so it’s usually no problem to add additional veggies. Also, avoid dressings with dairy and ask for vinaigrette, either on the side or lightly dressed. I usually skip the cheese altogether, or if it’s a goat or sheep cheese, I’ll ask for it on the side. That way, I can have just a nibble or two.
  4. DO NOT ORDER DESSERT! Let the rest of your table order dessert. What are the odds they don’t offer to share? Have a bite or two and pass it on.
  5. All the tootifruiti drinks are fun, but full of sugar that just turns to nonsense on your hips or tummy. I usually just have wine with dinner, but if a cocktail is in order, I’ll stick to something white, like vodka, with club soda and a lime.
  6. If you’ve been good and used the tips above, then on your last day of vacation, throw caution to the wind! I had an 8-inch mushroom white pizza for lunch, and halibut for dinner, and two giant bites of strawberry cake!
  7. On the day I travel back home, I like to have a light breakfast of fruit and muesli and then plenty of water and maybe some raw nuts while traveling. Don’t fall into the trap of fast food on the road or in the airport. You won’t starve. Remember, you had a splurge day of eating already, and it was what your REALLY wanted! For dinner, a simple salad and some cooked veggies and you are back on track. Start your first day post vacation with the juice below, and go ahead. Get on that scale!

Cellulite Busting Citrus Juice


2 medium grapefruit, peeled but with some of the white pith left
1 orange, peeled, with pith
1 lemon
1 lime
1 small chunk of fresh ginger

Run the grapefruit, ginger, and orange through the juicer. Cut the lemon and lime in half and squeeze the juice into your glass. Stir and enjoy!

You have to crawl before you can run!

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

It’s been a busy spring, and now I’m looking forward to enjoying some time in the sun and in the water! I promised to update you on my half marathon attempt, and I apologize for leaving you hanging.
Nashville Marathon: The day of the race dawned cold and rainy. Yep, it was 50 degrees in Nashville at the end of April, and drizzling steadily. My sister and I had diligently sprayed our running shoes with water protector, and donned our clear plastic rain ponchos. Stylish!

Have you ever run 13.1 miles in a trash bag?! I must say, things weren’t shaping up as I had envisioned them. The rain picked up into a steady downpour and I had to laugh at our attempts to “waterproof” our shoes. What kept me in good spirits was all of your well wishes, and the spectators lining the streets to cheer us on. Amazing and awesome people to come out on such a nasty day and root for us! American flags were in no short supply, and I even ran by the curb a couple of times so I could get “high fives” from the crowd.


I met my goal of running the entire 13.1 miles. I did have some pretty severe hip flexor pain the last three miles or so, but I was determined to finish that race running! Turns out, I finished it smiling, too.

I learned a few things about training and core strength, along with how a marathon works. I also discovered that the joy of accomplishing a goal I wasn’t sure I could reach, is a really great feeling! As it turns out, the phenomenon know as runner’s high is definitely addicting, and I registered for the Akron half marathon in September. So, honk if you see me out running this summer, and thank you all for your well wishes and support!

Peace & Raw,

Who Should Avoid Gluten?

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

Pizza, cookies, cakes and pasta all contain one common ingredient – gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye that helps to bind breads, pasta and desserts to create a denser product. Gluten is a common additive to processed foods, and has been linked to weight gain, allergies, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and is the cause of the serious condition, Celiac Disease.

Gluten-sensitivity can be difficult to diagnose. Elimination diets and food journaling can determine whether such a sensitivity exists. What is an elimination diet? Removing common allergens (wheat, eggs, dairy, soy, corn) from your diet for a period of time and reintroducing those foods one at a time to determine any reaction.

Celiac Disease
In the past few decades, more people have begun to notice that consuming bread products which contain gluten have been related to gastrointestinal issues, like nausea, stomach pains, diarrhea, and in severe cases – vomiting and weight loss. Sometimes this is due to an autoimmune condition known as celiac disease. Celiac disease is a progressive deterioration of the villi, or hair-like projections, within the small intestine, caused by a reaction to gluten. Villi absorb vitamins and nutrients our bodies need to sustain energy. When these villi begin to flatten as a result of gluten consumption, malabsorption can occur – causing anemia, irritability, weight loss, stomach pains and other gastrointestinal complications. Although there is no cure for celiac disease, a gluten-free diet can slowly reverse damage to the small intestine. A gluten-free diet eliminates all forms of barley, wheat and rye – even in the smallest amounts.

Have you ever considered an elimination diet to test whether you have food sensitivities? Learning the basics of raw foods can help you do it, deliciously! Click “here” for more information on the May 9th and May 13th classes.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
There are other digestive problems associated with gluten that are not Celiac Disease. In fact, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) has some of the same symptoms as Celiac disease, but gluten has not been directly linked as a cause. However, those suffering from IBS often find relief from their symptoms by following a gluten free diet.

Why I’m still going to run in the Nashville Marathon

Thursday, April 18th, 2013
Monday’s tragic events at the Boston marathon left me, and most Americans, stunned and horrified. Even after 911, Columbine, and Sandy Hook, senseless and random violence still affects me, leaving me shocked, wondering what is wrong with society and the human race?
But I had another reason for feeling fearful and anxious after learning about the bombs in Boston. I started training in early February to run in the Nashville Rock-n-Roll Marathon on April 27th.

I am not a runner. The most running I’d ever done was an occasional 5K or the Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot! But in celebration of my sister’s 50th birthday, Heidi and I decided to run a half marathon, 13.1 miles. We picked Nashville because it’s relatively flat and there is a live band every mile. I’ve been running 4 times a week, getting up at 5 a.m. and never missing a run. I started out running 3 miles, slogging through some runs when I really just wanted to sit down! Last Sunday I ran 9 miles, my longest run yet, and logged 22 miles for the week.

Sunday was the first time I really believed that I could run the entire 13 miles, and even finish with a respectable time, when the news about Boston took the wind right out of my sails. It frightened me, thinking about those innocent people, injured, dead, or emotionally scarred from witnessing such violence. Could it happen in Nashville? Should I cancel my plans, and let go of 10 weeks of early mornings and sore muscles? Should I alter my life in response to some twisted person’s version of right and wrong?

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

After sleeping on it, and talking with my husband, I decided not to cancel my plans. The point of terrorism is to terrify us into giving up what we cherish: our freedom, our liberty, and our pursuit of happiness. To me, these last few months have been about chasing the vision of running across the finish line, and accomplishing a goal that I wasn’t at all confident I could reach.

In response to this kind of senselessness, we can pray for the victims in Boston, for the police and the investigators, for the staff at the hospitals, and all those affected by violence. We can also live our lives in the light, take care of ourselves, our families and our community. And most importantly, never give up our freedom to dream.

Wish me luck in Nashville!

Peace & Raw,