Getting Over It and Pumpkin Spice Creamer! (Month Four at Integrative Nutrition)

juggling it all

Have you ever felt like you were not enough? Everybody wanting something from you and you couldn’t possibly meet everyone’s expectations?

Was it the Women’s Revolution that brought about this situation? Women used to have their ‘place’ in the home. Now, anyone who know’s me knows that I don’t agree with that one bit…but there was a focus, and women could keep the home as they deemed fit and that was their expertise. When women truly entered the workforce, did their jobs in the home end? No, they were expected to manage both! Today, men of our era certainly do much more in the home than men did 50 years ago, but most women still feel it is their job to maintain the home and provide food, clean laundry, etc.

I have been talking with women all over the world the past few months during my work as a student at Integrative Nutrition, and that theme is present everywhere. I have always wanted to be the best mom, wife, sister, daughter, employee…and the list goes on and on! When I feel overwhelmed, it is very easy for me to feel I can’t do it and to seek comfort in food, alcohol or exercise….yes, exercise! Even that has become a place that I can land and I am always applauded for making a “healthy” choice in dealing with my stress. The problem is, if I am still experiencing a great deal of stress and have no idea how to effectively deal with it in the moment, is that really “dealing with it”?

How do we as women solve this daily problem? I believe the answer is to let it go (enter the theme song from Disney’s Frozen movie…) 🙂 Seriously, life is a journey, not a destination! Is there ever going to be a day when we say to ourselves “Well, I made it! I am now the perfect wife, mother, etc.!” No!!! We may have our moments when we feel that we are managing it all well, but something is sure to change that. Today, I might feel that I am excelling at work, but then I’ll come home to find that I forgot to buy eggs… Life happens! Get over it! Accept that at any given moment, you are doing the best you can and don’t worry so much. You can always run out and get the eggs after you fold the laundry 🙂

Pumpkin Spice Creamer

Since it’s Fall and everywhere you look, you see people holding a Starbucks cup, I thought I’d pass on my Pumpkin Spice Creamer recipe. You can add to coffee or drink by itself as a warm, comforting cup of Fall!

Pumpkin creamer ingredients


3/4 c. pumpkin puree (not pie filling)

3 c. coconut milk (or other milk of choice)

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. each of: pumpkin pie spice, turmeric, cinnamon

*Add all ingredients to a quart glass jar. Put on lid and shake to mix. Store in refrigerator.

pumpkin creamer jar


What is a Health Coach? (Month Two at Integrative Nutrition)

Credit: "Yoga" by artzsamui from

Find Balance with a Health Coach …….. Credit: “Yoga” by artzsamui from

Have you ever been super excited about something and just wanted to scream it from the rooftops? Maybe you lost the last five pounds you had been working on or improved the speed of your 5K? This is how I feel about being a student at Integrative Nutrition right now. This past month alone, we have studied raw, vegan, macrobiotic and whole foods ways of eating. We have also learned about superfoods, eastern vs. western approaches to medicine, listening to your intuition, and entrepreneurship. At times, I feel as though I can’t possibly take in enough information and other times my brain is too full for anything else! But explaining to others exactly what my ‘job’ will entail is a bit tricky…

It might actually be easier to tell you what a health coach is NOT:

1. A Health Coach is not a doctor, yet might be able to help you find a ‘cure’ for the issues you might be having. Headaches, digestion issues, joint pain? Often these issues are tied to a reaction you are having to certain foods. A health coach is there to help you discover the connection between the two and could help alleviate some of your health concerns.

2. A Health Coach is not a dietitian, but I will be able to help you find the foods that work best for your body and lifestyle. Maybe you would like to eat more veggies, but have no idea where to start. I will be able to help you with discovering new foods and recipes. I can even head to the grocery store or farmers’ market with you to give you support!

3. A Health Coach is not a personal trainer, though I will be able to help you add physical activity to fit your schedule and needs. I can help you find which activities really work for your body type and personality. Like to workout with someone or alone? In the morning or at night when the kids are asleep? We can get there.

4. A Health Coach is not a magician, but I will be able to help simplify healthy living and assist you in creating more balance in your life. Are you over-booked and over-tired? Do you meet everyone else’s needs but forget to care for yourself? I’ve been there and you can move beyond that.

From the Integrative Nutrition website:

What is a Health Coach?

A Health Coach is a wellness authority and supportive mentor who motivates individuals to cultivate positive health choices. Health Coaches educate and support clients to achieve their health goals through lifestyle and behavior adjustments. Proper health coach training programs and health coach certification ensure that Health Coaches know how to work with diverse groups of people and equips them with the tools necessary to best fit the needs of their clients.

“Chronic diseases such as obesity, hypertension, and diabetes wreck our quality of life and cost a fortune. In recent years, a new and intriguing concept has emerged in the prevention and treatment of chronic illness: the health coach.” –CBS News, October 2009


“The primary objectives of health coaching are to educate the patient regarding self health management and to encourage patients in taking a more proactive role in staying healthy.”-Medical Economics, Nov 2010

So, yes. I am excited to work with others to develop healthier lifestyles and families. I am completely motivated to work on my own health issues so that I will be more knowledgeable about how to help others with theirs. But am I ready right now? Not yet. I have sooooo much more knowledge to fit in my brain and still more balance to seek 🙂

Like a guinea pig…. or a lab rat?

My permanent position during camping trip...Summer 2011

My permanent position during camping trip…Summer 2011

I was pondering this question today, as I lie on the couch with my sick, feverish little girl… do I feel more like a guinea pig (always trying something new) or like a lab rat (being poked and prodded and then waiting to see what happens next)? I think…the lab rat.

As most of you know, I have not only discovered my gluten intolerance in the past year, but have been dealing with knee/leg swelling for more than a year and a half. You could read more about it in Welcome to My Life, but a quick recap otherwise:

It was Summer 2011 and I’m a teacher. Had been hiking and exercising, felt like my knees were swelling underneath my kneecaps. Went to have x-rays, knees blew up like a balloon and stayed that way for year. Figured out kneecaps were out of place (both of them) and have been trying to strengthen them and keep them in place this year, even though swelling is still an issue.

Back to the lab rat part… I have spent 5 months in physical therapy (walked on a treadmill in the water), a year with the chiropractor and massage therapist (alleviated my constant lower back pain and continued to realign my kneecaps, as needed), and countless hours monitoring which foods, medicines, exercise techniques, etc. had any effect on the swelling that would not go away! Now, since my kneecaps have been ‘popped back into place’, the swelling has seemed to be less noticeable. But anytime I wear thick socks or anything tight on my legs (leggings), my legs swell. Anytime I sit for a three-hour meeting or stand for hours prepping food for the week…swelling. Oh, and did I mention that I decided to do a 5K in April?

So, my latest venture has been to seek out yet another alternative for my situation, which led me to acupuncture. Now, if I were reading this two years ago, I am pretty sure that I wouldn’t believe that I had gone down this road. Not that I have had anything against ‘alternative remedies’, but I never had the time to investigate them and therefore, they seemed a bit ‘out there.’ Nevertheless, I have grown (and have run out of medical options). I asked my chiropractor and he recommended an acupuncturist that he sees.

The first time I went, he talked to me for awhile, looked at my legs and told me he didn’t think that acupuncture would help. He did think that his Chinese Medicine might help and promised to look up some remedies and get them to me the next week. I went back and got these tiny tea pills and promised to take 8 of them, three times a day for two weeks. During that time, I took them religiously and tried to keep up with my exercising, as it seemed to me that I was dealing with a circulation issue and that movement would help more.

I went back last Friday and talked with him about my minimal results. I noticed slight improvement and had been able to run more, but I attributed that to increased movement and strength in my knees. He wondered if the increased movement would have caused more inflammation, though, so maybe I wouldn’t have noticed the improvement from the tea pills. I agreed to continue for 2 more weeks. He then said that it might not hurt to try a few inflammation points in my legs, if I wanted to. “Of course. Why not?” So, I laid down on the table, had several teeny, tiny pins inserted into my legs (which I couldn’t even feel) and tried to relax (cause this is completely natural and relaxing) for the 20 minutes until he came back to take them out. He said to watch for the next few days to see how my legs respond.

After 3 days, I can officially say that I am noticing a difference. I didn’t workout this weekend, in case that was actually causing more inflammation, and my legs felt great. This morning, after waking bright and early to write sub plans and track down  a substitute so I could stay home with my sick girl, I worked out on the elliptical and no new swelling happened. I haven’t had a full day of workout, teaching and cooking yet, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens then. But for now, I am cautiously optimistic that we may be on to something. And after all the medical hell that I have been through with this injury, I am happy to continue the lab rat mentality for a bit longer.

Juicer or blender?

Here is an article posted by Erin at Lifesource Natural Foods, one of my favorite places to shop!

Newsletter Article: Juicing 101

Juice by jamjar

In this busy world it can sometimes be a struggle to eat the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. Juicing offers a highly efficient way to consume large amounts of produce and will leave you feeling incredible. While “juice fasts” do have their pros and cons, there is no arguing that incorporating a freshly made glass of organic juice into your daily routine is beneficial for everyone.

Juice GlassesSo, what makes juicing so great? Juicers break down the cell walls in vegetables and fruits releasing their nutrients, which the body can then absorb directly into the bloodstream. This gives you an almost instant energy boost since you don’t have to wait for digestion. “Green juices” made up of green produce such as celery, cucumbers, and leafy greens supply chlorophyll which helps digestion, neutralizes toxins, and supports liver health. Fresh juice helps promote a healthy alkaline pH in the body and an alkaline body may be less likely to suffer from chronic disease. Most importantly, veggies are full of micronutrients that our bodies need for healthy cell function and antioxidants that clean up toxic by-products and prevent cell damage.

There are two main types of juicers: centrifugal and masticating. Centrifugal juicers shred veggies and fruit with a blade to create a pulp, which is then expelled through a chute in the back. They easily handle whole fruits and veggies, but aren’t great with leafy greens and are unable to juice wheat grass. Centrifugal juicers generally cost less than masticating, but they do come with drawbacks. The highspeed blade heats up juice destroying some of the enzymes and nutrients. They also produce a wet pulp, which means not all of the juice is being extracted.

PulpThere are two types of masticating juicers: single auger and twin auger. The single gear chews up the vegetables and fruit breaking down the fibers and cell walls. The twin auger crushes the produce between two interlocking gears at a slower speed. While masticating juicers are pricier, they are excellent for juicing leafy greens and wheat grass and they produce a much drier pulp. Masticating juicers can also be used for creating nut butters, sorbet and pasta. Both of the juicers we carry at LifeSource are of the masticating variety. The Champion Juicer is a single gear and the Omega 8005 is a twin gear.

Never is it more important to use organics than when juicing. Since the whole fruit and vegetable is being used, any pesticides or chemicals lurking on the skin will go into the juice and be transported straight to your blood stream. Especially watch out for the “dirty dozen,” a list compiled by Environmental Working Group of the 12 most contaminated foods: apples, celery, leafy greens (such as spinach, kale, and collard greens), peaches, strawberries, domestic blueberries, nectarines, sweet bell peppers, cherries, potatoes, imported grapes, and lettuce.

BlenderIntrigued, but not sure you’re ready to invest in a juicer? With a little added effort you can effectively make juice with your blender. You’ll want to pre-chop your veggies before adding them, and of course make sure you peel citrus and remove any seeds or stones from fruit. Add about a cup of water to your concoction and blend. Next, place a tea towel or cheese cloth over a deep bowl and pour your mixture. Once the majority of the liquid has drained twist the towel and squeeze out the remaining juice.

Now that you’re ready to try juicing here are a few tips to help you along your journey. Make only what you can drink since fresh squeezed juice can develop harmful bacteria when stored for long periods of time and the enzymes start to break down surprisingly quickly. Save time by prepping fruits and veggies and storing them in your fridge until you’re ready to use them.

It’s tempting to mix in a wide variety of fruits and vegetables when you first start juicing. This can lead to some pretty interesting tasting juices! Three seems to be the magic number. You can throw in some herbs such as cilantro or parsley for variety or a little bit of peeled ginger for a kick. Stick to one type of fruit for sweetness. Too many fruits quickly add up to higher calories and sugar content.

Don’t throw away all that precious pulp either! Recipes using juicer pulp abound on the internet. You can store pulp in the refrigerator for up to 12 hours or freeze it until you’re ready to use it. Add pulp to baked goods such as muffins or pancakes. Mix it into veggie dips, sauces or soup, or puree it to make fruit leather. One clever idea I ran across was mixing the pulp with honey or another type of binder, rolling into balls and dehydrating for a healthy hiking snack. I’ve included a recipe for pulp crackers.

Juicing is a great way to get a quick boost of nutrients, but if you don’t have the time or equipment to try it at home, smoothies can be a great alternative. Not only do smoothies provide the same micronutrients as green juices, but the added fiber can help you stay full longer and slows the absorption of sugar into the blood stream, keeping your blood sugars more level. You can also easily add other healthy supplements into smoothies such as protein powders, spirulina, maca powder, Omega-3 oil and chia seeds. Don’t forget to add the greens! I like spinach because it blends really well and is surprisingly sweet, chard and kale are good options too. Cucumbers add a light, refreshing twist to a smoothie and puree well. Even unconventional vegetables such as beets, broccoli and lettuce are great additions.

Recipes from this article:

Green Juice:

  • 2 green apple
  • 1 inch knob ginger
  • 6 large stalks celery
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 bunch of parsley
  • 1 bunch of kale
  • 1/2 lemon (with peel, if organic)

SmoothieErin’s Superfood Smoothie

  • 1 or 2 generous handfuls of spinach
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 2 scoops of protein powder
  • 2 or 3 Tbsp. coconut butter
  • 2 Tbsp. chia seeds
  • 2 Tbsp. cacao nibs
  • 1 Tbsp. cacao powder
  • 1 Tbsp. maca powder
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk

Books, eating and healing…The China Study


I love books. I love to read. I guess that’s a good thing, since I teach 6-year-olds to read for a living. 🙂 But seriously, when I was little I loved that I could dive into a book and live in another time or place. I loved the adventures that came in books and couldn’t wait to read what happened next.

While I can still get lost in a good work of fiction, my love of books these days has helped me change my life. Eckhart Tolle helped me see life in an entirely different way in A New Earth, thank you Oprah! Dr. Greene’s Collaborative Problem Solving approach in The Explosive Child helped me see children’s minds in a different light and taught me how to help children work through the toughest problems. Dr. Furman’s book, Eat to Live, reminded me of the purpose of food and brought me to a better understanding of what a relationship with food should be like.

Recently, I began reading The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell, and I know that it is going to be my next ‘game changer’. Dr. Furman had cited and discussed much of Campbell’s research in Eat to Live. It was also the focus of the documentary Forks Over Knives, so it wasn’t entirely new to me (click here to see an interview with Dr. Campbell on The Dr. Oz Show). But the depth of the research, conducted over three decades in many parts of rural China, is astounding.

The following is from

Americans spend far more, per capita, on health care than any other society in the world and yet two-thirds of Americans are overweight. As trendy diets and weight-loss frenzy sweep the nation, more than 15 million Americans have diabetes and our children are increasingly falling prey to a form of diabetes that used to be seen only in adults. If we’re obsessed with being thin more so than ever before, why are Americans stricken with chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, as much as we were 30 years ago?

It all comes down to three things: breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

In The China Study, Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Professor Emeritus at Cornell University, details the connection between nutrition and heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Recognized as the most comprehensive nutritional study ever conducted on the relationship between diet and the risk of developing disease, The China Study cuts through the haze of misinformation and examines the source of nutritional confusion produced by government entities, lobbies, and opportunistic scientists.

The China Study, a national bestseller co-authored by Dr. Campbell and his son, Thomas M. Campbell, MD, has sold more than 750,000 copies since it was first published in 2005. It is the foundation upon which a nationwide plant-based diet movement is based. The China Study presents a clear and concise message of hope as it dispels a multitude of health myths and misinformation.

The science is clear. If you want to be healthy, change your diet.

The book is long…and full of medical facts and study statistics. It is not light bedtime reading. If you want the 10 most important facts learned from the book, click here.

Besides all of the great information about what we should eat, what made me react most strongly was the realization that this research has been available to the medical community for years. The research regarding turning cancer on and off with changes to diet were made public in the early 80’s (if I am remembering right), yet others scoffed at the idea. There was, and still is, fear that if the medical community supports such notions, the ‘health industry’ might collapse. It seems to me that a ‘health industry’ (and I use that term lightly) that is built upon pharmaceuticals and not on scientific research, is a sad one to put our trust into and might need to be rebuilt. If my knee and leg issues of the past year have taught me anything, it is that doctors do not heal you. You must take your health into your own hands and heal yourself. (I’m now getting off the soapbox….)

Basically, food matters…a lot. For whatever reason, my son and I both have food allergies, so we have been forced to confront this reality. But for those of you without that push, you have to find another reason to commit to eating for your health. Try a few of the recipes on the recipe page to see what healthy eating can be like (I would personally recommend the almond joy bars, almond butter chews or veggie tacos as a start). I promise that I have real children that would love to run to McDonalds, just like any others. But we don’t, and they are starting to crave healthier options and complain when things are “too sweet”. Would I have thought that would ever happen a year ago? No. Good luck to you, and if I can support you in any way, let me know!

Have you read the China Study or watched Forks Over Knives? What were your takeaways? Did you change anything about your diet as a result? Let me know in the comments below.