Am I teaching my kids to be emotional eaters?


So who doesn’t like a treat? I mean I LOVE ice cream so much that for our wedding the grooms cake was an ice cream cake and really meant for me! But back to the topic at hand. I am not above bribery for my kids! Hannah had to get cavities filled and that can be scary so I told her if she did well she could have a chocolate shake. If we are at church they get hot chocolate. If they sing in choir at another church there are donuts. They get treats at homeschool events. We are doing a day camp at church this week and there will be treats every day. Now of course I have no issues with my kids having a treat but it seems like they are around every corner. Please let me know if you don’t feel the same way. I love to hear the other side.

So we were down in Peoria last fall to watch my husband’s nephew’s football game and we had a nice time. On the way home we decided to stop at an apple orchard. We went through the store and got cider, honey, donuts, caramel apples, apples, etc. and spent a pretty penny on all of it. When it came to walking around outside I noticed they had an area to play but they wanted $8 per person no matter the age. So for 5 of us that would be $45 which seemed to me like a lot of money.

Fast forward to a week or so ago and all of a sudden it hits me. As I’m looking at budgets and thinking about food and money I’m realizing my thinking is all wrong! I was willing to drop a bunch of money on food and “tangible” items but I wasn’t willing to pay $45 to create a memory. I always want to walk away with something or get something from what I put my money toward but that means we buy a lot of treats and food. We get tired of all the little trinkets around the house so we tend not to buy souvenirs but isn’t creating a memory and an experience just as important?

As I examined my heart I found that I was focused on all the wrong things. I had been taught to reward, comfort, etc with food but why not change my thinking and reward with spending time together or experiencing something together. Why not spend money on an experience or a memory instead of food or “stuff.”

Alternative to food rewards: go for a walk, play at the park, play a game together, go hiking, date with a parent, reading a book together.

Alternatives to eating out/food: trampoline park, splash pad, swimming, biking, softball, tennis.

What are some of your ideas in this area?


Sunday Dinner

I’m always looking for new things to cook. My husband tells me just to cook the same thing every week but honestly I think then we would eat out a LOT! I get sick of the same stuff over and over so I’m always trying something new. I try to look for healthy recipes and here are some of my criteria:

  1. Protein– I always strive to have a dish with a lean protein. I vary between chicken, turkey, pork and beef and in that order. We eat a LOT of chicken and turkey. Fish is also great! I love salmon but I haven’t made a lot of fish lately.
  2. Vegetable- Each recipe has to include a vegetable preferably green or I make one to accompany it.
  3. Little to no carbs-  Not to say carbs are bad but I get enough carbs throughout the day without trying so we try not to have pasta, bread, potatoes, etc.
  4. No casseroles or heavy creams- I also try to look for things that typically aren’t casseroles. Even though things can be made from scratch that doesn’t mean they are healthy. Cookies, cakes, casseroles, etc I can make at home but they aren’t good for me. Typically casseroles have carbs and lots of processed sauces which are high in sodium

BOTTOM LINE: I try to eat protein and veggies (heavy on the veggies) and very little else especially for dinner.

That being said I have been using the site Skinnytaste to look for new recipes. We tried Zucchini Tots and Naked Greek Feta-Zucchini Burgers. Zucchini is one of those foods that is hard for me. You can find bread and goodies to make out of it but I have tried different ways to prepare it and don’t love it! If you have ideas please send them. My elderly neighbors in Michigan gave me a zucchini boat recipe and I always forget about it.

My pictures aren’t great and for the zucchini tots I didn’t have cheddar cheese so I used Italian blend. Oh I also try to avoid dairy in my food. Not that it’s all bad or anything I just find I feel better when I don’t include it!

So, What are some of your healthy zucchini recipes that you can share? How do you make your choices for what to cook for dinner? I’m excited to hear about you and learn more!


7 Baby Steps to a Healthier You!

So I love helping others and one of the ways I do that is by helping people optimize their health, time, and finances to help them live more intentionally in the moments of life and I do that through a company called Shaklee. Through Shaklee, I coach people on various aspects of their lives. One of the biggest things I come across is people wanting to get healthy but becoming overwhelmed by all the information out there. So either they start and give up or they don’t even bother because they don’t know where to start.

I totally understand where people are coming from. I felt the same way too but I found I can do the best I can and forget the rest. So what are some things people can do to get on the right track? First of all, you have to know why you want to make changes you do. That way when the going gets tough you are reminded of your why and don’t get discouraged or give up. I also advocate to make sustainable changes. If you do something for 30 days or even 5 day and then you go back to what you were doing, you are always going to get the results you always got. Make a change for life! Most of my advice here is going to focus on lifestyle changes related to “diet.” Why? Because that is the most popular issue I find with people. I use the term “diet” loosely because we all have a “diet” good or bad!


  1. Drink half your weight in ounces daily and eliminate all other drinks.

We consume so many of our calories in our drinks and they are EMPTY calories. They have little if any nutritional benefit. They just taste good. Also many of us our chronically dehydrated and don’t even know it. We don’t drink nearly enough water. There are apps to track your water intake or I like to calculate how much I need and then figure out how many of a certain bottle I need to drink. So pre pregnancy I weight 120 pounds. That means I need a minimum of 60 ounces of water. I have a 20oz water bottle so I drink one between breakfast and lunch, one between lunch and dinner, and one before bedtime. This make it much more manageable! Pregnant or say I’ve been very active I would need to drink more and make adjustments.


egg-1510449_1920.jpg2. Eat protein for breakfast.

I used to eat eggs for breakfast. I would have 1 whole egg and two whites with some cheese and veggies (usually left over steamed ones from the previous night) but I found that it didn’t keep me full and that’s when I went with a shake. Protein in the morning is really key. Some people have oatmeal or bagels or another carb but I have found benefit in having protein for breakfast. It keeps you fuller longer then other options.

vegetables-2135733_19203. Add more veggies and if you think you eat enough… ADD MORE

I thought I ate a lot of veggies until I read the book “The Wahls Protocol.” She developed a diet for people with autoimmune diseases and advocates for 9 cups of veggies a day! That is a TON of veggies but yet so important. I started searching for the various “diets” people use with great success and wanted to see what they all had in common. As you know some say high fat, others low fat, or no carb, or no meat, etc. Then I found this comparison chart. I noticed that all the diets had veggies in them and many emphasized them. I think sometimes veggies are under rated. As Michael Pollen says in “In Defense of Food.” Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

smoothie-drink-1966284_1920.jpg4. Eat Veggies for breakfast!

This goes along with the last one but many of us don’t eat veggies at lunch or dinner let along breakfast. To try to get in more veggie, I recommend a steamed veggie at dinner and have a few servings at least. You can always eat as many veggies as you want in a day. I don’t put limits on this but stress variety. I usually eat a large salad for lunch or have cut up raw veggies. There are so many great salads out there and you can make your own dressing which tastes so much better! Now how do you add veggies to breakfast? You can blend them into your morning shake/smoothie. You can also add the previous nights veggies to eggs as a scramble.


berries-1546125_1920.jpg5. Eat fruit for dessert!

I don’t know if you are like me but I like to have something sweet. So instead of convincing myself to not eat something sweet I have a bowl of berries or eat an apple. Sometimes I even do yogurt but am conscious of the brand because many are loaded with sugar. I have also made Chia Seed Pudding which is a nice treat. Not to say you can’t indulge but “real” treats should be at MAX once a week and preferably once a month. Trust me, I understand the struggle and I continue to work on this!

milk-1887234_19206. Cut Dairy

Many people might say  “but dairy is good for you and provides calcium”, but that all comes at a price and there are studies out there that don’t link dairy and bone health. Dairy often contains a decent amount of sugar and salt. Yogurt is a HUGE sugar culprit! It’s also the way that dairy is processed that makes it an issue. Dairy can cause a variety of issues for people from gas/bloating to joint issues and inflammation. I have chosen to drink almond milk instead and there are a lot of alternatives if you have to have ice cream or yogurt. Remember though when you make a change you shouldn’t be looking to replace it with “healthy” treats instead. Ice cream is ice cream and not particularly healthy whether its made with almond milk, coconut milk, or cow’s milk!

health-1810879_1920.jpg7. Limit or eliminate breads, grains, etc.

Some people choose to eliminate all grains, beans, bread, gluten etc. For me I try and limit it to one serving a day. I try to shy away from bread and go with brown/wild rice, beans, or potatoes. I have found that this just helps me feel good. We all can tend to overeat carbs and so when I reduce or eliminate them I feel so much better. I wish I could give you a solid answer on why but I can only guess it may have something to do with how it’s processed or what is sprayed on the grains before they are harvested.

Now you may disagree with my suggestions. Some of this I have learned from trial and error and some of it is from lots of reading/research I’ve done on various diets. Not everything is going to work for everyone. But one thing I can guarantee is that if you stick with a change you will see some sort of result! You can choose to go gluten free and another person dairy free. You have to find what works best for you and these are just guidelines. First, think of what your health goals are because that can dictate your diet as well! If you need help, I would LOVE to help you find a solution that works best for you and your lifestyle. So feel free to contact me!

Also check out: this coming week I’m going to be posting a lot about “diets” and myths regarding health.



Mediterranean Chicken Bowls

So recently my husband and I had the privilege of going on an all expenses paid trip to the San Francisco Bay area for Shaklee. They served the most WONDERFUL food and we didn’t feel full and yucky because of what we ate! It was all HEALTHY and they served mostly fruit for dessert. Below is a picture of one of our lunches. As we assembled it, I thought, I can make this at home and so I did!


First off, I have to say that this HUGE bowl is so important. I thought we had big bowls at home but this one is so much larger. I love it for salads and such and wish I could say where you could get one but Shaklee gifted these to us!

We started with the base. There were three options I made. Some of you may be thinking this is so much food and so overwhelming. We had friends coming over and really it was like making all the fixings for tacos. You could just make one of these as a base instead of all three.


From Left to right: Red Quinoa, Cauliflower Rice, Cilantro Lime Brown Rice.

RED QUINOA- I had eaten quinoa before but never Red Quinoa. I cooked it according to the directions. Usually I soak it in water first and rinse it really well. You could cook it in vegetable broth or chicken broth as well to give it more flavor. Then I added dried cherries that I had chopped to it once it cooled. At the event, they added dried cranberries but I happened to be out so used dried cherries.

CAULIFLOWER RICE- I took a whole head of cauliflower and roughly chopped it and put it in the food processor and pulsed until it resembled rice. I then melted some infused olive oil with a little butter in a pan and sautéed it. I also add some minced garlic. Once it was cool I added chopped parsley.

CILANTRO LIME BROWN RICE- I cooked the brown rice per the directions and then added the juice of a couple small limes and chopped cilantro! This is one of my favorite flavor combinations!

Once you have your grain in the bottom of the bowl I then add some spring mix. I get a HUGE thing of organic spring mix at Aldi for about $3.50. That way if I don’t have time to chop lettuce and such that week I still can grab a healthy meal.


You could put your protein either on top of the lettuce or at the very end. I chose to put my protein under my toppings. I marinated chicken in some Garlic Balsamic Vinaigrette and then grilled it. At the Shaklee event they had Salmon as an option too. I suppose you could do what you would like there. We chopped our chicken into small pieces to make it easier for us and the kids to eat.


Once we have the chicken in place then we can go nuts with toppings! Be sure to let me know what other toppings you would include. All of these are fairly self explanatory except the red pepper puree. I got that part from another recipe I tried before this bowl. I would also add to the list of toppings avocado, but I was out. Now looking at my first picture they also had hard boiled eggs too!


Row 1 left to right: Black Beans, grape tomatoes halved, cucumber Row 2 left to right: red onion, chickpeas, feta Row 3 left to right: hummus, roasted red pepper puree, kalamata olives.

We absolutely LOVE infused vinegar and oils. They taste amazing and are so healthy for you. We first learned about them in Traverse City, Michigan at a place called Fustini’s which will ship to you if you don’t have a local place. Here in the Quad Cities we are fortunate that we have a place that sells them. It is the same distributor of these oils just a different label. Green Thumbers which is a local green house carries the oils and vinegar and it looks like you can buy it online as well. What I like about Green Thumbers is you can get a small sample bottle like I did of any flavor. If you go to either of these shops you can also taste them!


Options include: traditional balsamic, raspberry balsamic, garlic infused olive oil, tuscan herb olive oil, Sicilian lemon white balsamic and fresh lemons and limes.

I did not take a picture of my completed bowl but it was a HUGE hit! We love these and I even thought if I made a huge batch with all the toppings we could then assemble them throughout the week for a healthy lunch each day.

I hope you enjoy them!


How do I know if I’m getting quality?

So I have laid out all the issues with the supplement industry but how do I know that what I want to buy is quality? There are some things you can ask and research to check.

There are some resources that you can use when doing your own research:

  1.– they do independent testing. There is a small fee to gain access to information.
  2. The Office for Dietary Supplements– has fact sheets about the various supplements and what they are used for.
  3. Memorial Sloan Kettering– has an app for herbs and information about herbs and other botanical products.
  4. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health– There is an herb resource here as well as some other information. There is also a kindle/ebook.

What to ask or look for in a supplement?

Time Magazine did a cover story about How Not to Get Sick.

Please do your research or find a company that is trust worthy. There are people with a wealth of knowledge out there. Don’t be afraid to ask a TON of questions. The company you are looking at should be able to answer all your questions to your satisfaction. You are the one putting this into you body so you should be comfortable with it!

Things to consider

  1. Do they have tests performed on their products by third parties?
  2. Do they have studies published in peer reviewed journals on their products? or do they just say there are studies about what their products claim to help but none of how their products actually help?
  3. Do their products have lot numbers and expiration dates?
  4. How and why was the company started? For some this may not matter but for me the why and the heart of the company matters.
  5. What kind of guarantee do they offer if any? Is it unconditional, 30, 60 days or none?
  6. What percent purity do they use in their products?
  7. How long has the company been in business?

Happy Supplement Shopping!


98% just ain’t good enough!

So 98% sounds awesome! I would be very happy with a 98% on my test score or say a 98% success rate in just about anything. I mean heck it’s amazing as a batting average! But when it comes to supplements it just ain’t good enough. I have laid out previously the concerns with supplements, how they are made, and the testing that some companies may or may not choose to do, but let’s dive in a little deeper to the purity and the cost involved with ingredients.

We are going to use Magnesium Chloride MgCl2 as an example and the costs associated with purity. Now QUALITY and PURTIY are two different things. You can have a quality ingredient but that doesn’t ensure that it is pure. So here is the breakdown for cost:

  • 98% purity costs $0.52/gram
  • 99% purity costs $0.68/gram
  • 99.9% purity costs $7.19/gram
  • 99.99% purity costs $10.20/gram

Which one do you want in the product that you are doing to be taking? This is a 20 fold increase in cost! You may think 2% isn’t a big deal but that 2% is huge especially if you are trying to take a product to help an issue you have going on. In the 2% is where a lot of contaminants and fillers come into play.

So what are some of the organizations out there that do testing for natural products? The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, NCCIH, which is part of the NIH has a budget of $124 million per year to do testing on supplements. The NIH budget is $30 billion overall to give you an idea of what they spend. They are responsible for finding that St. John’s Wort has clinically significant interactions with 30 different medications. They are also responsible for finding that fish oil helps prevent cardiovascular disease.

The Office of Dietary Supplements which is also part of the NIH has a budget of about $27 million. They look at the top selling dietary supplements and do research specifically on those products. Now this is all research done by the government on supplements but there is also research done by supplement companies sometimes.

The research by companies can be on clinical and basic research. There can be trials done on humans and they are VERY expensive. You need a lot of people involved to make these happen. A company can choose to do studies on animals as well. They can also study bioavailability, medication interactions, and mechanism of action. They can do research on the products as well on things like the formulation, quality assurance, bioavailability, and quality control. Manufacturers are NOT required to provide any scientific evidence of efficacy or safety!

Bottom line: Any one can put a product on the market and not do testing, or show that it will do anything that it claims.

The prescription drug sales is a $326 billion market, over the counter drug sales in at $30 billion. What do you think the market for dietary supplement industry in the US is at? It’s at $32.5 billion. So unlike the pharmaceutical industry which is not really growing the supplement industry is growing and will continue to grow. As these companies come out with products be aware of all that goes into supplements and buyer beware for creative marketing tactics!



Do your supplements pass the test?

A while back I laid out a few things about the safety, or lack there of, in supplements. Many companies don’t do any testing or if they do, their testing is not thorough. Some even do testing and acknowledge that their products contain lead but they are okay with it because its within FDA guidelines. I find that unacceptable!

I then went on to talk about how a supplement is produced. From gathering the raw materials in the fields, to putting it on a shelf, is a complicated process with lots of room for error. Many companies don’t have the budget to produce high quality supplements. Sure, they may use “high quality” ingredients but what is to say that those are not contaminated. These days it’s hard to find things that aren’t contaminated and if they are, they need to remove the contaminants. So now we will get into a little about how companies analyze supplements, if they do at all.

There are several expensive pieces of equipment needed in order to do quality testing on products. These machines start at 50K and that’s the economy model at an educational discount. None of this is required at all by government agencies! To analyze quality you need to make a substantial investment for just the basic equipment and since it’s not required not many companies do. Here is a list of some of the equipment they use:

  1. IRInfrared Spectroscopy– used to identify and study chemicals
  2. GCGas Chromatography– typically tests the purity of a particular substance
  3. MSMass Spectrometry– 250K to over a million- gives a picture of the mass based chemical composition of the sample
  4.  HPLCHigh Pressure Liquid Chromatography-Very common instruments and can be 100-250K- used to separate, identify, and quantify each component of a mixture
  5. Mixtures of these like GC/MS or LC/MS

GC-MSYou also need to have high quality individuals analyzing the data from this equipment and running the tests. This should be done by scientists and ones that are trained in this area. Manufacturers can choose to analyze raw materials, ingredients, formulations, all of the above or nothing at all. Be very careful when you investigate quality!!! The companies have clever language. I read one that said they test their formulation. That is great but what about all the ingredients and batches of the formulation? Ask for specifics when a company says they do “testing.” What exactly do they test for and what do they test (ingredients, formulations, etc.)?

So what should we be concerned about? Supplements are commonly contaminated with heavy metals (lead), pesticides (foreign and domestic), other herbs and natural products, and microbes/fungus. Sure some of these things are “naturally” occurring in the environment but that doesn’t mean I want to ingest them on a daily basis! Some companies have their own fields and they don’t use any pesticides on the raw ingredient. Even though they don’t use pesticides doesn’t mean there isn’t an industrial plant nearby that is contaminating the area and they won’t know unless they test. Also if an ingredient comes from a foreign source they may only test for pesticides used in the US but many of the nasty chemicals are outlawed here but not elsewhere! So they need to test for US and foreign pesticides on raw materials. The National Center for Natural Products Research has done tests and can actually tell where an ingredient is from just based on what it’s contaminated with.

So maybe now you are thinking, well what’s the big deal? We have toxins all around us and so what if a few are in our supplements? Well, those contaminants can cause issues with allergies in anyone but especially for people that already have allergy issues, food allergies,  or are taking medicine for allergies. Contamination can cause breathing issues as well as GI issues. Quality doesn’t come cheap and so we need to pay for quality.

Even if you do all this testing there is an issue of standardization. Mixtures are complex and difficult to compare. It’s also difficult to identify active ingredients versus inactive ingredients. There is also variation in nomenclature, which is a system of naming these ingredients. So what? Well there are regular names and latin names and names vary by country too! You have to know what you are talking about and there are variations in names of an ingredient. If you are getting something from another country you want to make sure you are getting what you think you are getting. Another issues is say ginseng for instance, there are several types of ginseng: Chinese ginseng, Asian Ginseng, Korean Ginseng, all very high quality and expensive and then there is Siberian Ginseng, which is a weed and looks like ginseng but is not real. Companies will substitute it because its cheap.

As you can see there is a lot that goes into making a supplement and it scares me greatly that so many people just buy a product because it’s inexpensive or they’ve heard great things about it. I care about YOU and I want you to be healthy but sometimes you’re better off taking NOTHING than to take something that isn’t of quality! As I continue with these posts I will give you more things to look for.