Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Wondering What I "Should" Be Doing Right Now ...

Ok, so my lack of blogs and information sharing is starting to get to me lately.   Why can’t I sit myself down and just get all those easy recipes out there or maybe some new tool I found to make your life easier?

Simple I guess ... seasonal summer brain.
I love lazy and carefree days.

And I am seriously off schedule.  As much as I try to get up and follow the routine that is in my head, I just love to wander off and explore other stuff.  Like what flowers are blooming today in my garden, or what flower wants to be photographed, or maybe if the hummingbird found that feeder yet?  I am probably attention deficit as I'm getting older.  So hard for me to finish the task put in front of me. 

I wonder if it’s my aging brain (trying to keep it active with those memory games on my ipad), my lack of set schedule, the weather,  or maybe the kids being home.  I mean I write about the importance of keeping a set menu and shopping with a list!  How is it that my refrigerator is empty and we are ordering out *gasp* more than ever?  I am actually hungry as I write this at my daughter’s speed school! 

I never want to wish for Fall because that means Summer will be over. 

But I am hurting for some semblance of a schedule. 

I guess I don’t hate schedules like I thought I did. 

Deep breath ... two teenage girls in the house ... money being spent like crazy ... not much time for my husband and I to do date nights ... vet bills, dental bills, soccer teams, and the list goes on.  But you know what?  It’s all going to be ok ... I am grateful for the craziness.  Maybe not at this moment, but I am very thankful to have a family who makes me happy and proud most of the time.  I am in love with my furry best friend who is showing signs of aging lately, I am grateful we have two cars to shuttle around our busy kids, and I am grateful we get to spend a lot of time in our cars catching up with each other as we go to the events.   That’s what I’ll remember when they’re gone.  Not my lack of cooking meals this summer or keeping the house presentable.

I know so many people going through the never-ending challenges of raising a family and are strapped financially, emotionally (did I mention I am the mother of two teenage girls?) and just plain tapped out.

My only thoughts right now are be grateful for what you have right now, at this moment.  Look around you.  Where are you right now?  What makes you happy right now? 

 There are always things we would like to be better.  It’s how you deal with them that give you the strength to pull ahead and not fall behind and feel lost.  Gratitude journals make it simple to ground yourself and put it out there that you’re happy, even if this day is not the easiest.

Ok, thank you for listening.  I will go home and make a shopping list and get some food back in the house.  Sometimes a good meal does wonders for everyone.  And maybe a glass of wine ;)

At least that’s what I am expecting.

Be Well,

**Keep an eye out for my newly designed website in the near future.  I do have my program for 30 days of meal planning and shopping lists available at your convenience!  I did the planning for you - you just have to test them out with your family!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Balsamic Watermelon Feta Salad

Balsamic Watermelon Feta Salad

Easiest salad on earth for a sweet boost of energy!

My family loves watermelon.  This simple summer fruit has so many benefits besides tasting good!

For the athletes in your house, the easy to digest watermelon is the greatest recovery snack after workouts.  Rich in amino acids these chunks of sweetness help with sore muscles and recovery time.  L-citruline is rich in nitric oxide oxide, a gas that widens blood vessels which help in removing lactic acid build up. 

Balsamic Watermelon Feta Salad                    

fresh watermelon cut into chunks
balsamic glaze (or similar dressing) *
fresh mint finely chopped
crumbled feta cheese

Combine the watermelon, mint and feta cheese.
Sprinkle a few drops of the balsamic glaze over the top.
Toss gently.

A huge thank you goes out to the CVS Physicians Assistant who told me about this salad!  We were exchanging foodie ideas and she brought this up.  I went home and threw it together.  Just a nice side to make when you have so much watermelon you don’t know what to do with it! 

*I use the balsamic glaze available at Trader Joe’s.  A few drops are full of flavor!



Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Nutrition in the News!

World Cup Brings Nutrition into the News


Refueling Athletes Getting Attention!

I am always THRILLED when the basics of how athletes should eat gets some attention!

If athletes (and their parents) invest so much, just to play the game - the equipment, the training, the traveling, the sacrificing of many other things - why not consider what is being put in the "fuel tank?"

US Head Coach Jurgen Klinsmann talked about "The 10 Nutrition Rules to Follow" in an article in January 2012 on US Soccer.  Basic common sense rules, but sometimes when the rules come from someone other than the parent, kids will heed the advice!

As our kids play their summer tournaments, keep in mind these rules and remember it's not just game day that matters.  Keep eating the rainbow in your house, keep well hydrated, rested, eating lean protein, healthy fats, eat smaller meals more frequently, post and pre-workout meals matter, breakfast everyday, limit processed foods, and if needed, supplement wisely.

If the U.S. head coach gets his team to eat well, maybe we can convince our kids that burgers and fries before games are just not going to do it for them!

Here are his rules for you to share with your kids ...

The 10 Nutrition Rules To Live By

1. COME BACK TO EARTH: Choose the least processed forms of food such as fruits, veggies, whole grains and high fiber carbohydrates.

2. EAT A RAINBOW OFTEN: Eat fruits or vegetables with each meal. Choose a wide variety of colors for the biggest benefit.

3. THE LESS LEGS THE BETTER: Include a LEAN protein source with each meal.

4. EAT HEALTHY FATS: Include healthy fats in your diet like olive oil, nuts, natural nut butters, seeds, avocado, fish, flaxseed and flaxseed oil.

5. EAT BREAKFAST EVERY DAY: When you eat within 30 minutes of waking up, you jump start your metabolism. This gives you more energy to get your day going.

6. THREE FOR THREE: Eat smaller portions more often, spread evenly across the day. No excuses – you should be eating 4-6 meals/day! Aim for all three macronutrients (carbs, protein, and fat) every three hours for optimal fueling.

7. STAY HYDRATED: Dehydration = Decreased Performance. Drink at least three liters of non-caloric beverages (water/green tea) every day.

8. DON’T WASTE YOUR WORKOUT: Have a post-workout recovery meal or shake that combines both carbs and protein immediately after your training.

9. SUPPLEMENT WISELY: Fuel first and supplement second. If you are not getting what you need through food, add a multivitamin supplement into your daily routine. Create a smart supplementation program that improves your performance without compromising your health or draining your wallet. Before you take any type of supplement, make sure to check in with your doctor or registered dietitian.

10. SLEEP: Aim for eight hours of sleep. If you can’t get eight hours daily, consider power naps when you can. The body recovers and repairs best when it is sleeping.

And to finish off …

The 80/20 Rule: Each meal and snack is an opportunity to fuel your body optimally. Choose the foods that are best for you 80% of the time and incorporate some of those foods that may not be the best, but are your favorites, 20% of the time!

Have a fantastic night!  Happy Watching!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Spinach Strawberry Salad!

Spinach Strawberry Salad

To make this salad in a jar,  put each ingredient into jar in this order:


Strawberry-Lime Vinaigrette (see below)
Cooked Quinoa
Sliced Strawberries
Unsalted Sunflower Seeds
Crumbled Feta Cheese
Baby Spinach

2 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tsp strawberry preserves
1 T freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tsp mustard
1 T white wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste


  • Layer the above ingredients into a mason jar using the amount that would fit your needs. 
  • Keep chilled until ready to eat.
  • Give the jar a shake before emptying onto a plate.

This salad is packed with fiber, protein, phytonutrients, omega-3 fatty acids, iron, and flavonoids which protect from free radicals.  These act as anti-oxidants which makes it heart healthy. 



Steak with Raspberries, Dates and Blue Cheese

This was a big hit in our family!  An early Father's Day dinner gave me a good opportunity to test it out!  Give it a try this weekend and I'm sure you will be the rockstar of your family!

I suggest finding the best cuts of natural meat you can ... try to find as close to organic, grass-fed beef.  Besides being much healthier for you, the difference in taste is substantial.  Totally worth the money.


Steak with Raspberries, Dates, and Blue Cheese

Serves 8


1 cup red raspberries
3 tablespoons of sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
8 dried dates, chopped
2 ounces ham, chopped
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
3/4 teaspoon garam masala
freshly ground black pepper
8 boneless beef tenderloin or rib-eye steaks (about 2 1/2 pounds total)
6 ounces blue cheese, crumbled


  1. Preheat your grill on high or preheat your broiler.  Lightly oil the rack or pan.
  2. Combine raspberries, sugar, and vinegar in a small saucepan.  Simmer for 10 minutes or until reduced by half.  Set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook until soft.  Add the dates, ham, rosemary, garam masala, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.  Cook for 5 minutes, or until the dates are very soft.  Set aside and keep warm.
  4. Generously season the steaks with salt and pepper.
  5. Grill or broil the steaks for about 12 minutes, turning once or until a thermometer reaches 145 degrees if you would like your steak medium rare.
  6. Place each steak on a plate.  Top with equal amounts of cheese and cover with some of the date mixture.  Drizzle a few tablespoons of the raspberry sauce over everything.  Serve remaining fig mixture as a side.

Happy Father's Day to all of you amazing dads!  Have a fantastic day!

My Daddy and Me!


Friday, May 30, 2014

Brain Tumor Awareness Month

 Yes, it's brain tumor awareness month.

As much as I'd like to forget that life event, I feel like there are so many people struggling with the fears of that diagnosis that it's worth mentioning here on my blog.

Meningiomas are a poorly understudied and under researched brain tumor.  Click here to read about the research that is happening and some projects that are underway to help understand some more about why certain individuals may develop them.

If you'd like to read more about my journey, this is my post from last May.  Click here to read it (fyi there are some scary photos)  I don't like to draw attention to myself,  but most of you have no idea the number of people who are diagnosed with this.  Please, please, please if you know anyone who is going through this, let them know I am here to vent to, support or lend a hand to anyone in need.  Most people think that this kind of brain tumor is easy to deal with as most of them are benign.  However, many patients have other things to heal from after diagnosis.  Many have lost senses such as smell, sight (mom calls me eagle eye),  are paralyzed with nerve damage, deafness, paralysis, cognitive changes, severe mood changes, depression, seizures and more.  Too many lives have been claimed.  It needs to be studied!  Personally, I just don't know what to tell my kids or their doctors.  Could it be radiation from dental x-rays?  Is it hormonal?  Don't talk on your cell phones!  We just don't know.

If you'd like to contribute to the ongoing research, the ever expanding support group of "Meningioma Mommas" has a fund set up to donate to research. 

Click here for the link that you can donate to ... it is tax deductible and is appreciated greatly!

I've also posted some possible risks factors at the bottom of this page ... clearly we don't know enough about why we get them.  I just wish we could stop these tumors!

This is a photo I found on Meningioma Mommas facebook page ... Thank you to the inspiring photographer ... whoever you are!   Many hands needed in conquering this disease!

In Grace,

Meningioma Risk Factors

Physicians at a PanelMeningiomas are most common in people between the ages of 40 and 70. They are more common in women than in men (74% meningioma patients are female). Among middle-aged patients, there is a marked female bias, with a female to male ratio of almost 3:1 in the brain and 6:1 in the spinal cord. Meningiomas are very rare in children, with pediatric cases accounting for only 2.5% of the total cases.
A presentation in progress.Currently, the two predisposing factors associated with meningiomas for which the strongest evidence exists are exposure to ionizing radiation and hormones. However, these factors remain largely unexplored and a large-scale examination on a population-based data set is needed to help clarify the roles of these risk factors in the development of meningioma tumors.

Ionizing radiation is the radiation used in medicine that creates ions by knocking electrons out of atoms. Ions penetrate and interfere with living tissue, causing tumor cells to die as they attempt to reproduce. Exposure to ionizing radiation has been found to be associated with a higher incidence of intracranial tumors and particularly meningiomas. Data from atomic bomb survivors exposed to high doses show a greatly increased risk for meningioma. There is also evidence indicating an association with meningioma from lower dose levels. A well-known example of ionizing radiation and meningioma comes from children in Israel who were given radiation for scale ringworm between 1948 and 1960. These children were observed to have a relative risk for meningioma of almost 10. The dose given to these children was approximately the amount used in dental radiographs prior to 1948. Within the Unites States, this is the most common form of exposure to ionizing radiation. A number of studies have linked the number of full mouth dental radiographs to risk of meningioma.
Radiation therapy for intracranial tumors has also been linked to meningioma risk, and animal studies support the notion that ionizing radiation can induce intracranial tumors, including meningiomas, by damaging DNA. No recent large-scale studies of meningioma risk relative to ionizing radiation have been conducted since the time that new radiographic procedures for delivering radiation have been developed. These methods use focus beams to help limit unnecessary exposure to areas outside of the target. A population-based study with a large sample size will help to provide a better estimate of the current association. Patients who have undergone broad radiation treatments in the past should take care to watch for symptoms (see Symptoms section) and monitor themselves for meningiomas. Evidence for meningiomas caused by radiation exposure may be multiple and are generally more aggressive.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

One Grande Caramel Frappucino = 6 Krispy Kreme Donuts

Cool Drinks ...

Got your attention?

Ok, I love, love, love iced coffee right around this time of year!  Apparently it is the trend of the season with all ages, especially highschoolers (is that a word?)  who carry around their Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts cups as an accessory lately!

I remember that age well.  You didn't have to worry about too much as far as what you were eating until you realized you were starting to stay poofy ... not a skinny little kid like you used to be.  Right?  Fast forward to the nineties and everything went to fat free.  Remember Snack Well cookies?  OMG.  Loved them.  Thought I could eat them and not get fat because, you know, they're fat free right?  Lol!  Anyway, I digress.  I do have a point to this post ... hang on.

So these blended drinks are big sellers now.   Just wanted to share a secret they're not telling you unless you look up the nutritional info (which is available if you look).  If you buy a Grande Caramel Frappucino (that's only 16 oz) topped with whipped cream and caramel sauce you would be taking in the equivalent of 6 Krispy Kreme donuts!  Six donuts in one 16 oz drink!

That is actually 64 grams of sugar!  Click here for details!

That is equivalent to 16 teaspoons of sugar!

Dunkin' Donuts also has info available on all their drinks.  Click here for  the 16 oz Vanilla Bean Coolatta.  Unfortunately it has 87 grams of sugar! 

Which is over the daily recommended amount of sugar we should be taking in by 40 - 50 grams!
 Again, don't hate me.  I say have your treat every once in awhile.  Just remember you could easily cut the sugar by going plain jane ... get a plain iced coffee and add your own sugar.  One teaspoon is equal to 4 grams.  The syrups they are using to flavor these blended drinks are filled with ingredients you cannot even pronounce.  My rule is:  if you cannot pronounce it, don't eat it.  
*See list at bottom

If you had one of those fancy drinks every day for a week, you would be consuming 448 grams of sugar over 7 days.  That is 112 teaspoons of sugar in a week or 1792 calories just in sugar alone!

If you're trying to stay healthy, trying to keep yourself from being a slave to sugar, do your body a favor and make your own.  It's easy, much more affordable.  I'm not getting into the "light" versions available but you can check out the list below.  That scares me.  Eat and drink real food that you can pronounce.  Simple. 

Light Coffee Frappuccino Syrup (US version): Water, sugar, Erythritol (E968), Natural Flavors, Salt, Carageenan (E407), Xanthan Gum (E415), Maltodextrin, Preservative: Potassium Sorbate (E202), Citric Acid (E330), Reb A, Color: Caramel (E150d, E150b) Contains Milk & Gluten!

We all know how we are eating too much sugar ... and how type 2 diabetes is growing at about 8% partially due to obesity.  Let's do ourselves a favor and get the added sugar out of our diets now before it ends up costing more than that $4.00 a cup. 

Off to take advantage of the sunlight and get some of the vitamin D out there!
Have a beautiful day!

Welcome to my Blog!

Thanks for visiting my blog ... I decided to write it as there were many concerned friends and family that needed to learn about this phase of my life - leading up to surgery on February 8th. I have now had the surgery and am recovering here at home. I love all your comments! They make me smile and I am so truly inspired by them! I can not believe how much support there is out there...it matters so much to us! Thank you from the bottom of my heart!