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“The Balanced Plate”
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“The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia”
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July 2016
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The Many Factors of Good Health

Guest Post by Marcela De Viv

When it comes to good health, the most talked about and readily identifiable categories are nutrition and exercise. “Eat right and stay active” is always the mantra, even from the First Lady herself. Methods, instructions and training for nutrition and exercise-related topics are practically everywhere, and for good reason. There’s a high demand for this type of information, and as long as that’s the case, blogs, websites and products that claim to have the answers will continue to show up.

To be sure, nutrition and exercise are incredibly important when it comes to your overall health, yet focusing solely on those two aspects of your health is an incomplete analysis and far from a comprehensive approach when it comes to improving your overall quality of life.


nutritious mealWhile nutrition and exercise are both important factors of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, both of these factors must work in conjunction with several other factors in order to have a profound effect on your entire body, both physically and mentally.

Below are some other factors that contribute to your health and advocate for a lifestyle that addresses all these areas, not just nutrition and exercise:

1. Stress and anxiety — If your life is such that you are constantly experiencing stress or anxiety, then all the exercise and low-fat salad dressing in the world won’t save your physical condition.

Chronic stress is incredibly detrimental for your overall health and lifestyle, and many people don’t even realize they’re experiencing it. Whether your stress comes from life’s challenges or chemical imbalances within your body, it has to be dealt with and minimized.

The type and source of anxiety you have will determine the best method for treating it, therefore, you’ll definitely want to address your concerns this with your doctor.

The good news is that anxiety disorders and chronic stress are highly treatable, so make sure that you don’t neglect this part of your health, especially if it can be easily corrected and kept at a healthy level.

2. Daily routine and balance — How you spend your time and what you do throughout the day can determine your stress levels and your ability to relax and enjoy yourself. That means if 80-90-percent of your time is devoted to a high-stress job, this will leave you with an unbalanced routine that can prevent you from living the quality of life you desire.

As a general rule, try and make time for all of the following (at least in part) on any given day:


  • Work
  • Play
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Reading
  • Relaxing

Depending on your stage in life, some of these activities will take up more time than others, but to be sure, they’re all important to incorporate into your daily routine. Getting too much or not enough of one can easily lead to an unhealthy lifestyle, so do your best to maintain a good balance each day.

3. Air quality — Often overlooked, air quality is a major part of a healthy home and lifestyle. Since this is a bit more of a concrete topic, the solutions are a bit more practical. Air purifiers, aromatherapy or vaporizers are all great ways to reduce the amount of air pollution in your home.

drinking water If you suffer from asthma or even if you suspect the air quality in your home is less than stellar, consider one of those options for the rooms in your house that you use the most.

4. Individual Pursuits — Personal goals, interests and ideas should always be part of your life. Pursuing these things is a desire that is built into the human mind and spirit, so no matter how busy your life gets, you should always make time to enjoy these things.

Maybe you’re passionate about writing, sewing, working with your hands, playing sports or enjoying the outdoors. Whatever it is, you shouldn’t give it up just because you have a demanding job or your family life is hectic.

Engaging in those activities can trigger excitement and freedom in all of us, which is one of the healthiest things we can do for ourselves.

Well-Rounded Lifestyle

A well-rounded lifestyle is the best way to sum up all of the factors that relate to our health. Living in this world can be quite the balancing act at times, often requiring us to walk a line between too much or too little of a wide variety of things. Yet if we can do it, our lives will be healthier overall, which is every bit as important (if not more so) than nutrition and exercise.

Marcela De Vivo is a health writer, mother of three and hard-working business owner. In addition to daily exercise and a balanced diet, she is also sure to make time for herself for the little things in life, such as traveling around the world with her family. Follow her on Twitter today!

How to Stick with Your Healthy Eating on Vacation

Vacation destinations are generally places with historical significance, nature all around, amusements and fun. They also generally don’t run to healthy eating alternatives. So how do you stay true to your healthy eating habits and healthy lifestyle? A little forethought and preparation is all that is necessary to stay on the healthy foods bandwagon. Additionally, most all restaurants, even fast food establishments, have healthy menus including gluten free menus, lactose-intolerant menus and with fresh fruits and vegetables on the menus. Here are a few ideas to help.

Photo of  Fruits and Veggies

Fresh fruit is available on the road and travels well

Departure:  There is excitement in packing, putting the dog in the kennel and remembering to pack the medications and phone chargers. It is easy to forget to pack a snack bag with healthy snacks for your trip. However, a snack bag will prevent the hunger for fast food during the novelty of the trip so it is extremely important to plan accordingly. Things like trail mixes, nuts, whole wheat crackers with peanut butter filling, energy bars and most important of all, water are good things to take the edge off hunger until you can get to a good restaurant.

That is a handy tip for driving to the vacation destination. If you’re flying, it’s not so easy. Alternatively, most airport concourses contain kiosks with fresh fruits and veggies in plastic cups, energy waters and healthy snacks. Some concourses have sandwich shops in which consumers may order to taste. Make sure to stay away from the greasy fatty foods that tempt your desires in the airport. Load up on these healthy choices while waiting for your flight so you don’t have to eat the on-board meals.

Arrival:  When booking a vacation, do some research into local area hotels and restaurants. Make sure that the hotel that you are staying in has the necessary amenities to cater to your healthy needs. Personally, I have found reading reviews of both hotels and restaurants alike to be extremely helpful. Other travelers provide the most unbiased and honest opinion of places. In a recent trip of mine I was able to find a list of reviews for a personal chef service that led to me finding one that caters to my healthy lifestyle.

If you aren’t as fortunate as I was in this scenario, stay with steakhouses. These tend to grill or bake foods, have healthy veggies and smaller portions. Stay away from restaurants whose foods are fried, creamy, country style, buttered, battered, smothered and stuffed. Not good. Eat veggies from the sides instead of appetizers. Partake of the salad bar, where fresh fruits and veggies abound. Share your meal with another person, which will decrease portion sizes plus calories. Walk to the restaurant instead of driving. That will burn calories.

If the hotel has a minibar, refuse the key at the desk. Instead, shop the local health food stores for vitamin waters, energy bars, soups and oatmeal. If possible, carry a small crock-pot or electric skillet on vacation in which you can prepare healthy meals you won’t get in a restaurant. If the hotel has a continental breakfast, don’t take the high sugar items but concentrate on whole wheat breads for toast, whole grain cereals, fruits or omelets made with veggies.

Stuffed Squash

Gluten Free Stuffed Squash

Make use of the hotel manager or concierge. They will be glad to locate a personal chef who will lend an ear to your healthy eating habits. Let them also communicate your needs to the good restaurants, where you will be impressed with the chef’s creative accommodations to your needs. This can be done when you’re booking the vacation so healthy meals will be ready upon your arrival. Also remember that brightly colored foods are healthier than beige foods

Get Soy in your Diet with Tempeh

Tempeh for Lung Cancer: Two Recipes to Help Inhibit Malignant Growth

(Guest post from Kelsey Servi)

Tempeh –it’s what’s for dinner. (If you’re trying to naturally prevent lung cancer growth, that is.)

In a recent 2013 article, researchers from the University of Arkansas found that soybeans with a high oleic acid content could inhibit the growth of several cancers by up to 70 percent. Among the malignancies:

  • Lung cancer (growth reduced by 68 percent)
  • Colon cancer (growth reduced  by 73 percent)
  • Liver cancer (growth reduced by 70 percent)

This was certainly not the first study to identify anti-cancer benefits in soy. Other studies exploring the correlation between soy and lung cancer date back to 1985, and one published this spring indicates high-soy diets may correlate with longer lung cancer survival. (That study found that women who ate more than 21 grams of soy protein per day were more likely to reach five-year survival after a lung cancer diagnosis.)

However, this study was the first to note these specific bioactive benefits in three individual soy protein isolates. The University of Arkansas was also the first organization to identify two of the three high-oleic acid soybean varieties, as part of an ongoing soybean breeding program.

Oleic acid – the main fat component in the much-acclaimed olive oil – is also associated with breast cancer inhibition.

Lab workers tested each of the soy isolates against cell lines from lung, colon and liver cancer samples. They found that growth for each type of cancer significantly slowed after exposure to the soy isolates, and that higher doses produced greater results.

Several other food-derived compounds offer lung cancer inhibitory benefits. These include reservatrol, an antioxidant in red wine, and curcumin, the main component of the Indian herb turmeric.

Tempeh, Two Ways

Tempeh is thought of as a boring, obscure “health store” food. But when prepared correctly, nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, it’s a fermented soy cake – but you can dress it up like any other animal meat. Crumbled tempeh makes a great stand-in for ground beef or ground turkey, and crispy, pan-fried tempeh strips are passable for bacon.

But just like you wouldn’t serve raw, unseasoned meat, you can’t serve raw, unseasoned tempeh. It needs a zesty marinade and some added fat to taste its best. Some tempeh products come pre-seasoned, and some come pre-cooked so all you need to do is heat it with some oil. (As with meat, soy should not be consumed raw.)

However, there are plenty of ways to get creative with the plain version! The following two tempeh recipes are full of plant-based protein (more than 15 grams per serving):

Tex-Mex Tempeh Tacos (serves one)


1/3 package organic tempeh

3 tablespoons mesquite BBQ sauce

½ avocado

Shredded lettuce

Greek yogurt (to sub for sour cream)

Pico de Gallo

2 whole-grain tortillas


–  Cut your tempeh into cubes, then brown in a skillet with 1 tbsp olive oil. Transfer to a bowl and toss with the BBQ sauce.

– Warm tortillas in oven (approximately 2-3 minutes).

– Layer taco ingredients as you would for any taco; add as much – or as little – as you’d like of each. If you’re not experiencing chemotherapy-induced nausea, try adding hot sauce or mango salsa.




Easy Tempeh Stir Fry (serves one)


1/3 package organic soy tempeh

1 floret fresh broccoli

½ cup sliced carrots

½ onion

1 can baby corn or water chestnuts

¼ cup organic soybean oil

Teriyaki sauce and soy sauce, to taste

1 serving brown rice or soba noodles


-Cook rice/noodles according to package.

– Add vegetables, oil, teriyaki sauce and soy sauce to a wok (or skillet). Sautee for 5 minutes; add tempeh cubes. Sautee another 4-6 minutes, flipping the cubes so each side gets lightly crispy and brown.

If desired, add another dash of teriyaki or soy sauce; serve over the rice or soba noodles.


You should note that it’s important to purchase tempeh that’s certified organic or made from non-genetically modified soybeans. (The health effects of genetically modified foods are not completely known, but what we do know suggests that they’re not ideal for health).

While the study uses soybeans that are specifically bred to have higher-than-average oleic acid concentrations, there are several natural ways to obtain non-modified, high-oleic acid soybeans. Ask your local grocer for help finding non-GMO soy products in their refrigeration.

Do you cook with soy? If so, what are your favorite tofu or tempeh recipes? If you try out either of these recipes, let us know your thoughts on our Facebook page.



Seaman, A. M. (26 March 2013). Soy tied to better lung cancer survival among women. Reuters. Retrieved from

Rayaprolu, S. J., Hettiarachchy, N. S., Chen, P., Kannan, A., & Mauromostakos A. (2013). Peptides derived from high oleic acid soybean meal inhibit colon, liver and lung cancer cell growth. Food Research International; 50 (1). Retrieved from

How do you like Them Apples?!?

Basket of fresh apples

Fresh picked apples at Harvest time

When apples are in season, there are a wide range of varieties to choose from. Red Delicious, Gala, and Fuji are crisp and juicy all by themselves. For baking, a nice balance of sweet and tart flavors can be made by combining Rome Beauties with Granny Smiths. For use in soups and sauces, the softer Johnathans, Cortlands, or McIntoshes all work well.

Apples are a great way to get fruit into your diet. From grab and go whole apples, to diced into a salad of baked whole for a yummy simple dessert, the possibilities are endless. We all know that apples are a great healthy snack. They are especially yummy with peanut butter on them. A slice of sharp cheddar cheese makes another tasty topping.

tray of baked apples

Golden Delicious apples bake up quickly

But did you know that apples are useful in the kitchen in other ways too?

Here are 4 tips to get the most out of an apple.

1) Green tomatoes will ripen faster when placed in a paper bag with an apple in it.

2) Try stuffing an apple inside a whole chicken the next time you roast one up to make it juicier.

3) Hardened brown sugar will soften easily when placed in a bag with an apple wedge.

4) Apples will absorb extra salt from homemade soups and stews. Just add few wedges to balance out too mush salt.

Got a handy use for apples? I’d love to hear about it.

Ever Ate An Heirloom?

Photo of prepared Rapini

Rapini is a perfect side dish for any Italian meal

Heirlooms are precious things. They are passed down through generations. In the vegetable world, an heirloom is one that has kept it’s traits through generations of open pollination versus through grafts and cuttings of other vegetables. Heirloom varieties such as tomatoes for example, were commonly grown in earlier periods of human history. Those varieties are not part of modern, large scale agrigulture which supplies the food generally found in grocery stores. Today’s tomatoes are bred for their productivity, and ability to stand up to processing or resist pesticides.


The popularity of gowing heirloom varieties in home gardens has spread across North America and Europe over the last decade. Another heirloom vegetable is Rapini.  Known as brocoli rabe, it is widely popular in Italian cuisine. Rapini has a pleasing bitter flavor Rapini growing in greenhouseoften lacking in our American diet. In our greenhouse plot over at Nancy’s Garden here in Frisco, CO, we grew rapini with good success for our first crop. The leaves were abundant and we harvested them often as we waited for the crowns to develop.

The simplest way to prepare Rapini is the steam or blanch it first, then sautee it in olive oil with garlic. A sprinkle of crushed red pepper gives the dish some spice. I like to finish it off at the table with a healthy topping of ramano cheese. Italians often serve Rapini by itself as a side dish, cooked with canelinni beans as an entrée, or stirred into rissoto.

Potoatoes are another heirloom crop growing over at Nancy’s Garden. Plot holders Janet and John simply took some fingerling potatoes that had begun to sprout and buried them in one of the outdoor plots. Janet & John have been plot holders since the garden started in 2010. John said one of the

Potatoes growing in garden

Potatoes growing in garden

challenges that popped up in the greenhouse this year are voles. The voles eat the roots of the plants as well as the tops and can kill plants. Filling in their tunnels is one way to deter voles. Using mice traps is another way John controls the vole population.

Since the planting season started early this year, we have sown a second round of rapinin over at our plot. As the seedlings begin to break ground, the must be thinned out so they have room to grow and fully develop. It is a fun experience to grow edible crops. The heirloom varieties are espicially rewarding because they are often not availble in grocery stores.

Learn more Mediterranean cooking and enjoy the benefits of this renowned cuisine here:

Mediterranean Diet Recipes
Kindle eBook  Mediterranean Diet Recipes Cover

Kindle eBook Mediterranean Diet Recipes Cover

Food Labels de-Mystified! Free Report…

Do you want to avoid food ingredients that can drain your energy, cause possible allergic reactions, or potentially lead to chronic illness? When you read a food label does the ingredient list look like something out of a science textbook?

You need to know how to decipher the code! You want to know what these claims really mean so you can make an educated choice about whether you will eat this foods. Once you know how not to be misled, you can move toward choices that will better support your health and well being.

Use this form to get your Free Copy of
Food Labelsde-Mystified!

Rice Noodle Salad

Rice Noodles are great because you just soak them in warm water while you assemble the rest of the ingredients you will be using. Some of the most interesting dishes come from rummaging around in the fridge and letting what you find spark an idea.

I call this ” Somethin’ Outta Nothin’ “…

Using little bits of left over items together reduces food waste and helps save on food costs.

Greenhouse Quinoa

Inside of GreenhouseBackyard vegetable gardens are gaining lots of attention lately. It’s no surprise, with all the talk about locally sourced foods, not to mention rising food prices. The rewards of growing your own vegetables are numerous. Chief among them is a readily available source of fresh, delicious produce.

Here at 9000 feet elevation, our crop choices are limited. The best success comes with cold tolerant crops such as  kale, lettuce, and spinach. Herbs like cilantro, mint, and parsley can be grown fairly easily too. Many gardeners experiment with peppers, tomatoes, and zucchini with varying degrees of success. These warmth loving crops can do OK in greenhouse environment. Often it depends on their specific location inside the greenhouse.

In our plot we have radishes, lettuce, mustard spinach, kale, collards, rapini, arugala, spinach, and cilantro.  It has been so amazing to witness the process from start to finish.

vegetables growing

Arugala and Rapini

Placing seeds in the dirt, seeing them sprout, harvesting the new growth, and finally tasting that incredible flavor of homegrown food. Mostly the kale and collards get cooked. The other varieties end up in salads or on sandwiches.

Recently, I have begun to use the tender greens I have been harvesting in a new way. I like my greens lightly cooked. Stirring them into a hot pot of freshly cooked grains does the job quite well. In this case, I cooked a pot of Quinoa flavored with curry powder and some shredded zucchini. As to pot came off the stove, I stirred in a variety of chopped greens. My recent harvest included arugala, mustard spinach, and rapini.

chopped greens and diced radish

All of these have a bright, peppery flavor that compliments the quinoa beautifully.

To finish the dish, I sprinkled on garam masala, a spice blend, and a bit of flax oil. A  topping of fresh cilantro and diced radish, also grown in the greenhouse, added an extra kick of greens and some crunch. This is quite a change of pace from a bowl of oatmeal. I find the savory combination of greens and seasonings gets me going much more than the typical sweet flavorings of oatmeal.

Greenhouse Quinoa

I highly recommend the experience of growing edible crops. Even if you are limited to a flower pot in  a window sill, the rewards are worth the effort.

More recipes are available in my new eBook for Kindle, Mediterranean Diet Recipes



Train Like an Athlete to Triumph over Cancer

Here is a Guest Post from Jillian McKee at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance:

After Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong recovered from testicular cancer, he created the Livestrong Foundation as a resource for those with cancer. He sometimes worked the phones himself and received many questions about his lifestyle and his diet. Cancer patients wanted to know exactly what he was eating that made him recover so strongly.

Lance is an elite athlete. His body might not be anything like yours, but a healthy diet cannot only reduce your chances of getting cancer, it can also help you recover faster. The National Cancer Institute gives an overview of nutrition in cancer care and says cancer can change the way the body uses food. Some types of stomach or intestinal tumors may prevent the body from absorbing the necessary nutrients from food.

Cancer treatments can also affect the senses and the appetite. One type of cancer that requires proper nutrition is Mesothelioma cancer, which typically affects the lungs and is caused from exposure to asbestos. Many people don’t know that this type of cancer can also affect organs vital for digestion such as the stomach and intestine.

Treatments for cancer will often make the patient weak and tired. Food is our main source of fuel. Eating the right foods during cancer treatment can help replenish nutrients in the body and give the patient additional strength and mental vitality needed to speed recovery.

Because the immune system is weakened by cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation, it is important to eat foods that naturally boost the immune system. Other symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, and vomiting can also be addressed with proper nutrition.

Lance Armstrong already followed a rigorous training schedule and diet plan. You probably are not used to monitoring every little thing you put into your body. If you could prevent getting sick with cancer, the extra effort would probably be worth it. If cancer has already invaded your body, you want to do everything in your power to fight it.

Even if you’re not an award-winning athlete, good nutrition is one of the most cost-effective and simplest things you can do to possibly extend your life. You never know, you might have the sudden urge to take up cycling to expel all that extra energy from eating good food.

About Jillian McKee:

Bringing a wealth of personal and professional experience to the organization, Jillian McKee has worked as the Complementary Medicine Advocate at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance since June of 2009. Jillian spends most her time on outreach efforts and spreading information about the integration of complementary and alternative medicine when used in conjunction with traditional cancer treatment.

Visit Jillian on her blog      Follow Jillian on Twitter    Find Jillian on FB



Storing Fresh Herbs – A Garden in Your Fridge

Nothing is worse than buying a fresh bunch of herbs and the only getting to a little amount one time before they go bad. Say goodbye to that black, soggy lump of cilantro that is only 3 days old.

Fresh Herbs add sparkle as a topping for many dishes or tossed into salads to liven them up.

To keep herbs such a such as Cilantro or Parsley fresh for up to 10 days:

1) Pick off any leaves around the base of the stem area

2) Trim the end of the stems so they are even and all are freshly cut

3) Place the herbs in a stable shaped coffee mug that won’t tip over

4) Fill the mug with one inch of water, making sure that no  leaves are in the water

5) Put a produce bag loosly over the whole thing and keep it in the refrigerator.

Fresh Herbs in a cup

Make a fresh cut across the base and pick off an leaves at the bottom

Remove Leaves from the bas area & make a clean cut across the bottom of the stems befor putting the bunch into a cup with a little water in it.

Step 2 - Put a bag loosely over the whoe thing

Put a produce bag loosley over the whole bunch

Place a plastic bag loosely over the whole thing and store in the fridge