Feeling S.A.D?

This time of year a lot of people tend to be more SAD. I’m talking Seasonal Affective Disorder, aka seasonal depression. I’m guilty of having this problem every year or two, and I find it gets to me the most in the early “spring” (probably because this is Utah and spring doesn’t happen until the end of May)!

Symptoms typically include excess sleepiness, lethargy, increased appetite, social withdrawal, and feelings of unhappiness. To learn more specifics check this out. For this little blurb, I would like to suggest NATURAL ways to help you during this dreary time of year. (By natural I mean your doctor probably won’t tell you these tips, he will be too busy trying to prescribe you the happy pill).

Step One:

Start by eating a diet of whole-rather than processed-foods that doesn’t include a lot of sugar or starches. Consider supplementing or incorporating foods rich in b vitamins. Food sources include: green leafy vegetables, brown rice and whole grains, lecithin, brewers yeast, meats and liver, oats, bananas, avocados, legumes, and brazil nuts – to name a few.

Get fishy. Increase your fish intake to at least two servings per week and consider supplementing with fish oil capsules. Fish oils are high in EPA/DHA which promote increased neurotransmitter production and brain development. Anything that supports a healthy brain is going to support a healthy mood.

Step Two:

If improving your diet doesn’t make much of a difference after a couple weeks consider adding this supplement to your routine:

  • 5-HTP: This is a good one. I am personally not a huge supplement person, but I did try taking this for a hot minute and it helped me during times when I had insomnia and anxiety. Some of you medical or biology geniuses out there might know that our body can convert the amino acid tryptophan to serotonin (serotonin is the neurotransmitter involved specifically with our moods). What’s tricky though, is that trpytophan is used for a lot of functions in our body so by increasing our meat and protein intake, we can’t always be sure that the individual tryptophan amino acids will be used to convert to serotonin. The good news is 5-HTP is a by product of tryptophan that is used specifically for the serotonin producing pathway. Start with 50 mg a day (I would say at night because it can cause sleepiness) and build up to 100 mg if needed. This supplement only needs to be taken temporarily and therefore is perfect for SAD.

Step Three:

Increase your physical activity. Even if it is just going outside for a 15-20 minute walk. I guess we have been lucky here in Utah that the winter has been so mild; I haven’t had to pull out my snow boots once! So grab a scarf and get outside! Remember how physical activity increases endorphins in our bodies? I mean who doesn’t love that feel good high you get after a good work out!? We like to move it move it!


Lentils Shmentils

I guess I haven’t quite finished the gluten-free segment but I am getting a little board of it for now. So instead, on this lovely Sunday morning, I wanted to talk about lentils. Because it’s snowing outside and I am thinking of making a stew. I mean look at these beautes…

I love em’. These little but mighty guys top the fiber-rich charts and also provide essentials like magnesium, folate, and lean protein. And did I mention low calories? To be more specific, 1/4 cup cooked lentils has 15 grams of fiber, 12 grams of protein, and 60 calories! (unfortunately lentils are missing one or more amino acids and are not a complete protein, so when you cook them combine them with grain or cereals).

Green and black lentils keep their shape better when cooked and yellow lentils cook faster and break down more. To cook, add to a pot with plenty of water (I love to throw in some chopped onions, garlic, carrots, and a bay leaf) , bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until tender but retaining a little bit of a bite (20-40 minutes). Drain and season.  Or if you want to get fancier try these renditions…

Salad: Toss together cooked lentils; canned or fresh salmon; diced red bell pepper and red onion; chopped parsley; and lemon-dill vinaigrette. It’s fun to serve this in butter-lettuce cups.

Meat loaf: Instead of bread crumbs, mix half a cup of cooked, partly mashed black, brown, or green lentils into your regular meat-loaf recipe.

Dal: I don’t think lentils without thinking Indian! Mix cooked yellow or red lentils with premade red curry sauce, chopped fresh tomatoes, silvered onions, and cayenne pepper to taste. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro and serve with basmati rice.

Also check out RECIPES above for a braised Le Puy lentils with Chard!

*recipes complimentary of deliciousliving magazine

Eating Gluten Free; Part 3

Finally. What to eat.

First off, charts of the ALLOWED and to AVOID grains. These lists will come in handy when reading all the processed foods with laundry lists of ingredients.

Allowed Grains and Plants

Amaranth Montina Salba
Arrowroot Nut flours Sorghum
Bean/Pea flours Oats (if gluten free) Soy
Corn* Potato Flour and Starch Sweet potato
Buckwheat Flax Xanthan Gum
Quinoa Tapioca Guar gum
Rice Tef Millet

*Corn in all its forms: cornstarch, corn flour, cornmeal, corn grits, corn bran, hominy, grits, has marina

Grains to Avoid

Barley Graham flour Semolina
Bulgur Kamut Spelt
Couscous Malt Sprouted wheat
Durum Matzo Sprouted Barley
Einkorn Oats(if  cross contaminated) Tabbouleh
Emmer Pasta Triticale
Farina Rye Udon
Farro Seitan Wheat**

**Wheat in all it’s forms: wheat flour, whole wheat flour, bread flour, white flour, cake flour, self-raising flour, pastry flour, enriched flour, wheat germ, wheat bran, cracked wheat, wheat starch

Overwhelming much? It is kind of. But if you are needing a gluten-free diet, it gets easy with time. I would recommend making little charts to keep in your wallet so when you shop you can compare ingredient lists to your list. This way you can feel confident whether or not a product actually is gluten-free even without the official logo. Or you can stick to eating a whole foods diet so you actually know what’s in your dinner.

Moving on. Here is where it get’s even more challenging. If you are Celiac and haven’t met with a dietitian or a doctor you might not know this. There are other not-so-obvious ingredients you will need to learn to look out for. They are as follows:

Brown rice syrup (often made from barley)
Carob-Soy Flour (usually contaminated)
Dextrin (usually made from corn but sometimes from wheat)
Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein Modified Food Starch (can be made from wheat)
 Malt (made from barley)
Modified Hop extract (made from barley)
 Natural or artificial flavors (usually only in when found in meats)
 Sacrament bread or communion wafers (guess you won't make it to Heaven)
Some Seasonings (read labels)
Soy Sauce and Teriyaki Sauce (try Tamari instead)
Starch (when an ingredient in medicines, NOT foods)
 Malt Vinegar Worcestershire sauce (because it contains soy sauce)
 **I was just kidding about the sacrament and not going to Heaven,
 but you will need to find a gluten-free bread to be blessed

It’s appropriate to add here that you will need to also read ingredient lists on makeup, toothpaste, vitamins, medications, and other cosmetics or supplements. It may seem impossible and unnecessary, but it is. A lot of newly diagnosed Celiacs, when first starting a gluten-free diet, feel loads better and the symptoms quickly disappear. But just because over time the symptoms subside, it doesn’t mean damage isn’t still being done by little ingredients in your fluoride. So please be aware of this and in no time you will be an expert ingredient reader!

Reading Labels: Always check ingredient lists. As we just learned, it’s easy to spot a wheat product, but is it obvious by the front graphic whether or not there is malt in the product? Side note- one time I did a three day gluten free challenge and made it to the last hour and failed because I ate Sour Patch Kids (there’s dextrin in the ingredient list). Bummer. So lesson learned, it’s very important to read labels. And of course, sometimes it still isn’t that easy. I learned from the my last job to really utilize the number the package will provide that says “Question or Comments” because I made several calls for customers to see if a product could be verified gluten-free.

Shopping: The good news is lots of grocery stores and markets are carrying a large variety of gluten -free products, especially the health food stores. You can now buy gluten-free bread mixes (thank goodness! cooking gluten-free bread from scratch can be a nightmare!), cereal, baking mixes, cookies, and crackers. Ya know all the healthy stuff. It seems easier to me to just eat whole foods, cut out the bread products, and add more vegetables instead of processed and boxed gluten-free grains. Less of a hassle, more health benefits. Win win. But that’s just my opinion.

Eating Out: Learn to speak up. Ask the waiter specifics about what is added during the cooking process. You may order a stir fry with veggies and rice but then find out the teriyaki sauce is not gluten-free. Be aware of cross contamination. Some french fries may be fried in the same oil as the breaded chicken nuggets. And with that being said, don’t choose breaded meats and fishes. Use oil and vinegar for salads and leave off the croutons. At this point I could go on and on about the things to avoid, but I would rather give tips that help you make choices. Unfortunately this post is too long. Check back for more dinning out specifics and my favorite recipes.

Eating Gluten Free; Part 2

Here we go, part two. First fact, 2 million people have Celiac Disease in The United States, that’s 1 in 133. Quite significant. How do you know if you have Celiac Disease??

The diagnosis of Celiac Disease is made by a combination of clinical, histological, and laboratory evaluations, but a small bowel biopsy is really the only true and final diagnostic confirmation. I am amazed how many people tell me they have Celiac Disease, but when I ask if they have had a biopsy? The answer is no. The only reason this concerns me, is that having to abide by a gluten-free diet is incredibly annoying for the lack of a better word. It’s even becoming a trendy diet in Hollywood, so people are real quick to jump on the bandwagon. I would recommend getting official testing done (aka the biopsy) before making such an extreme lifestyle change. Check out this article here for information on other types of gluten intolerances and testing. As I mentioned in part 1, Celiac Disease has symptoms similar to IBS or other intolerances (ahem, lactose) so I would say it’s important to really know what’s going on with you and how to best treat it.

With that being said, check out my all time favorite website the Mayo Clinic to learn more about the different diagnostic tests and everything you would really want to know about Celiac Disease.

Coming up next, how to actually eat gluten-free.

Eating Gluten Free; Part I

I’ve been asked to do some consults with people with Celiac Disease and Gluten intolerance coming up the next few weeks, so I thought I would prepare here on my little blog. It’s a lot to take in and my blogs tend to get long, so I am breaking it up into segments.

Part One.

So what is Celiac Disease or gluten-intolerance? Essentially it is a disorder of the intestines. Our digestive tract and intestines are protected by physical and chemical barriers so when we digest potential antigens from bacteria and foods we have enzymes and gastric juices that protect us. Our immune systems under normal conditions can recognize the foreign and harmful antigens and destroy them. But in the case of Celiac Disease (caused by genetic susceptibility and an unknown trigger) exposure to gluten causes an abnormal immune response; gluten for some strange reason is targeted as a bad guy.

Gluten refers to specific peptides in proteins found in wheat, rye, and barley. Oats are also considered a gluten product, because like I mentioned previously, they are almost always processed with other gluten products therefore exposing oats to the gluten protein. Gluten is responsible for the spring and stretchiness in breads.

Celiac Disease has become so “popular”  the past few years because previously the disease was mistaken for Irritable Bowl Syndrome because the symptoms are so similar; loose stools, constipation, fatigue, bloating, cramping, weight fluctuations, etc . These terribles happen because people with Celiac Disease have a marked reduction of villi in their intestines

Villi are these little finger-like projections that line your lumen or intestinal tract. This is one of those physical barriers that protects your insides from damage. The picture above shows some normal healthy villi, and the picture below shows what happens to those sensitive to gluten. Doesn’t look pretty, and you can bet it doesn’t feel pretty either. If the disease is untreated the villi becomes so damaged it can no longer secrete the enzymes that break down proteins, fats, and starches. AKA a person will no longer be able to absorb nutrients and will soon be faced with many other nutrition related problems. Anemia, weight loss, dermatitis, issues of the liver and gallbladder, even as old school as beri-beri perhaps.

Sounds fun right? And unfortunately the only treatment is a gluten-free diet alone. And I’m talking a life long diet, not one of those 3 month Jenny Craig’s.

This post seems like such a downer so please look forward to the next parts on diagnosing ,treating (aka diet), and meal plans!

Ditch the Crash Diet forever

Raise your hand if you have ever tried a fad diet? Don’t know what I mean? Try South Beach, Blood Type, Atkins, Total Body Makeover, Fat to Fab… ring a bell? I’m going to guess everyone has, even if it was for only 2 hours.

Well I will let you in on a pretty nice secret. They.Don’t.Work. Wanna know why? A little thing called:

Intuitive Eating

2 things I love most about this book. One, it is actually written by dietitians (is it just me or is it weird that hardly any nutrition books or diets are actually written by dietitians?), and two, it is a an eating plan (not a diet) that is totally intuitive.

The first time I read this book I thought it was written for me. It describes perfectly different complexes we all seem to have with food. Like why we really gain 15 pounds our freshman year, and why kids are the only ones who seem to be able to eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full. I won’t babble too much about this book but I will say it is for everyone. Whether you struggle with over-eating, under-eating, or chronic dieting.

Healthy eating is the ability to see a fresh batch of chocolate chip cookies and either eat a few because they are so delicious without feeling guilty, or eat only one and know they will still be there later.


I didn’t get that from the book, but it embodies a lot of the ideals of this book.  And isn’t true that that’s a lot harder than it should be? Anyway, I recommend this book to everyone I talk to. And the best news is, it’s only $10 on Amazon.


Blood Sugar Rollercoaster

Want to learn the trick to loosing weight and controlling your cravings??

Check out this link: Cravings, Weight Gain, and the Blood Sugar Rollercoaster

It’s a long seminar, about an hour and a half, but I would highly recommend listening to it if you ever have the time , maybe a Sunday afternoon? I think there is so much truth to this and something I enjoyed teaching at my previous job in Austin. And Heather Pratt is so awesome, I adore her.

Meal Planning

It seems everyone wants a meal plan. Whether you are looking to loose weight, support your blood sugars, or just feel healthy in general, I have come up with a quick one week plan. Even though I am a dietitian and this should be my natural forte, I get nervous because everyone eats differently and likes different things. So if you are interested in following this little plan, feel free to tweak it. I’ll include recipes too so it’s extra easy for you!

Remember this? This is essentially what each meal is based around. So when the week of my ideas is up, don’t give up, figure it out yourself. Also I would HIGHLY recommend visiting this site. There are awesome resources and tools.


  1. Whole wheat English muffin, with 2 poached eggs (or over easy if that’s too technical), spinach, tomato slice, and optional ham. Skip the hollandaise sauce and season with lecithin granules.
  2. Green smoothie. Check out this green smoothie girl, she knows what’s up. Or just try a cup of spinach, one banana, one orange, 5 strawberries, 1/2 cup almond milk, 1 tbsp of flax meal, with some ice cubes. Feel free to get creative, that’s just my favorite blend.
  3. Omelet with mozzarella and goat cheese, tomatoes, bell peppers, red onion, asparagus, and spinach. Again, go crazy with your favorite veggies, these are just mine.
  4. Plain or unsweetened greek yogurt (I recommend chobani, hello 14 grams of protein), with granola (remember my greatest) or millet, berries, and flax meal or chia seeds, and agave to sweeten.
  5. Large apple sliced in half, topped with peanut butter, banana, and raisins. Make it like a sandwich if you will.
  6. Left over dinner. Sounds crazy, but it would be a totally balanced meal and will get your day started right to have good protein and veggies rather than cereal loaded with sugars. Try having the zucchini skillet, chicken curry, or salmon (see dinner ideas).
  7. Protein bar or smoothie. This is sort of a cop out breakfast but it can be a good idea for busy mornings or after an early morning work out. Here are my favorite ones: Bluebonnet Whey Protein IsolateVega, Biochem Greens and Whey, Stinger Bars, Think Thin Bars, Balance Gold Bar. Another time I will elaborate on why I love these. Consider adding fruit with this breakfast.


  1. Deli meat sandwich with a twist. Choose your favorite meats, cheese, veggies, and condiments but wrap it in a large green lettuce leaf and pass on the bread. Compliment with some fruit and a cup of milk.
  2. Green salad with smoked salmon, turkey or chicken breast, dried cranberries, feta or goat cheese, almonds or walnuts, capers, and drizzle with lemon juice, olive oil, and agave.
  3. Soup. This is a good chance to practice budgeting and meal preparation. Consider cooking when you have some time, doubling the recipe and freezing so you can have some later for another lunch or dinner. Here are some of my favorite soup recipes. chickpea chicken noodle soup, thai coconut soup,two-bean kale soup, pumpkin, barely, and sage soup.
  4. Mix tuna with a little mayo, mustard, relish, cheddar cheese. Eat with veggies, on a leafy green salad, or as an open faced sandwich on wheat bread.
  5. Tilapia (saute with a little olive or coconut oil a vwa la!) with steamed veggies and brown rice. Or try this recipe: honey ginger tilapia.
  6. Halve a spaghetti squash, cook face down on a aluminum lined baking sheet at 400 for 40 minutes. Scrap out squash into a bowl so it looks like spaghetti noodles, top with your favorite marinara and veggies. Or try Loaded potatoes (or sweet potatoes). Bake a potato and cover with favorite low sodium chili, low-fat sour cream, chives, and season
  7. Tex mex rice and black beans

** This is a lot of options for lunch. I usually like to eat leftovers and salads. But this gives you a lot of choices.


  1. Zucchini Skillet. With this one I use quinoa instead of white rice. Did you know quinoa is the only grain source that is a complete protein and offers 6 grams per serving? Fancy. I also like to add some black beans to add some extra fiber and proteins. Also, I would recommend NOT adding the extra water.
  2. Thai Red Curry. I would recommend using shrimp or tempeh instead of tofu. I am not a huge tofu fan (I will need to go into that another time), so if you want to go meatless and soy try tempeh which is fermented tofu. Serve over brown jasmine rice.
  3. Three bean mole chili. Good one to do in the crock pot and so spicy delicious! Find the recipe under “recipes” above. Thank you to my mother-in-law for the recipe.
  4. BBQ Chicken Salad. Combine your favorite salad greens, black beans, corn kernels, red onion, green onion, avocado, mexican blend cheese, and bbq chicken (in the winter, stick some chicken breasts and BBQ sauce in the crock pot in the morning, shred, and throw in your salad), cover with BBQ sauce and low-fat ranch.
  5. sweet potato and kale pizza. This isn’t exactly the best choice if weight loss is the goal, but it is so so delicious. Use a whole wheat thin crust, make it margarita style with a small amount of fresh mozzarella, and try not to eat the whole thing.
  6. Fish Tacos. See “recipes” above. Ditch the tortillas and eat over lettuce if you want.
  7. Grill or bake a salmon with a little dollop of plain yogurt or low fat sour cream. Season with your favorite spices, wrap in foil, and cook. Serve with a spinach salad with nuts, fruit, and a raspberry vinaigrette. Steam some asparagus and brown rice if you want. This is my favorite meal of all time.


  1. Trail mix with seeds, nuts, dried fruit, and dark chocolate
  2. Cottage cheese and peaches
  3. celery sticks with peanut butter
  4. Apples with cheddar cheese or peanut butter
  5. Crackers with laughing cow cheese (mmm so good)
  6. Almonds and craisins
  7. Sliced raw veggies in a yogurt dip

*** All these snacks consist of a carb and a protein. This is a must for every snack. The carb will give you energy but the protein will feel you up so you don’t keep snacking and snacking. Notice how easy it is to eat a whole bag of potato chips, but would you do the same with a bag of almonds and dried fruit??

I know this is a very long post but I have a couple of comments. I don’t count calories so much, but I have tried to balance out the carbohydrate intake. If you are dying to know the grams per meal comment below and I will include them. Keeping carbohydrates balanced throughout the day and including protein in every meal is really the key to weight maintenance, balanced blood sugars, and satiation.

Notice I don’t recommend anything with red meat. This is kind of more a personal thing, but I really don’t think we need beef in our lives. If you love the stuff please don’t feel you have to deprive yourself. Look for lean cuts like “loins” and skim off the fat (see Nutrition for Dummies tips). Do however consider being moderate.You may have noticed I love fish. A good nutritionist will recommend having fish at least twice a week, so I took the at least part and ran with it.

Some of the recipes may seem overwhelming if you aren’t a cook. Don’t panic, just remember the plate method and try to make sure whatever you can cook covers all those areas. Now I didn’t include fruit and grains in all the meals because I think those things can be spread out throughout meals and snacks. Aim for at least 3 servings of fruits, So whether or not you want to get those all in during the morning meal is up to you.

And finally, if you are really serious about weight loss I would recommend cutting out all the grains in the meals I have suggested. Skip breakfasts and lunches with bread, forget rice as a side and add extra veggies. I don’t have suggestions for waffles, cereals, pastas, paninis, etc for a reason. Try it for one week and you will likely notice a difference that fast. And you might realize it’s not as hard as you think (this is coming from me a die hard cereal junkie)!

V-Day on it’s Way

The other morning I caught a little bit of Good Things Utah (I’ve officially turned into a middle-aged house wife). Janae was a guest highlighting her totally healthy totally delicious Valentines truffles. I loved this recipe and all the good insights she had on raw foods. Check out the segment here. She is teaching a class on March 10 and I want to go, who’s coming with me!

Valentines Truffles; Courtesy of Janae:


1½ cup almond butter
½ cup cacao powder
2 Tbsp. coconut oil or cacao butter, melted
2 tsp. vanilla, almond extract, or other flavor extract
1 tsp. salt

Cacao nibs, Chopped nuts
Shredded coconut, Cacao powder

Mix all truffle ingredients together in a bowl until well combined. Refrigerate several hours until mixture becomes solid. Scoop out 1 teaspoon full at a time and roll into a ball. Put topping of choice in a bowl. Roll truffle in topping and coat well. Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Can’t wait to make these bad boys for V-day.