Category Archives: Uncategorized

An Apple a Day CAN Keep the Doctor Away

Cameo. Honeycrisp. Pink Lady. No, these aren’t the names of fancy roses but of fresh, delicious apples. When you think of all the different fruits that contain antioxidants, with most varieties of berries topping the list, apples tend to get overlooked. Antioxidants are nutrients in our food that can prevent or slow down the oxidative damage to our body. When our cells use oxygen, they produce by-products (free radicals) that can cause damage. Antioxidants act as free radical scavengers to repair the damage. Another reason apples pack a punch is the pectin, a soluble fiber that helps with total cholesterol and triglycerides. At 80 calories with 5 grams of fiber, apples fill you up with fewer calories. Although apples go out of season by early winter, they are often stored so they can be sold year round. Apples retain virtually all of their flavonoid content for up to two months in your refrigerator.

One of my favorite snacks is a crisp, semi-tart Pink Lady apple with some fresh ground almond butter. Simple and delicious. Toss them in green and fruit salads with some cinnamon spiced nuts or roast some with vegetables such as sweet potatoes or carrots, add some browned chicken sausage and viola, a feast for your taste buds. However you enjoy your daily apple, just eat it in its whole fruit form. Applesauce, apple juice and other processed apple foods are NOT the same. Apples are number one on the Environmental Working Group’s list of the most pesticide laden fruit so make sure to purchase organic apples if possible. To see their complete list, visit their website at EWG.org.

Grandma may have been right after all, an apple a day CAN keep the doctor away!

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Be Vibrant!
Tonya

Knowledge is Power!!

Happy New Year gracious readers! As 2013 begins, I invite you to join me on a year long journey down the road of knowledge. I will cover everything from antioxidants to zinc in a fun and informative way and will include some of my favorite recipes! Together, let’s make this our healthiest year yet!

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Be Vibrant!
Tonya

No Comfort In Food Today

What’s one of the first things you do when someone you know dies? You mourn. You take food to the family. Or people bring food to you. As the parents, siblings, spouses and friends of the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy how do you ever eat again?

Now, more than ever is a time to gather your loved ones around you and treasure every minute. If you’re miles apart, pick up the phone and tell them you how you feel. Time is short. Don’t waste precious energy on petty family squabbles or your hard earned-money on giving and gathering stuff. Hug everyone. Especially the children in your life.

No amount of food; comfort, organic or otherwise will dull the devastation right now.

Rest in peace Charlotte, Daniel, Olivia, Josephine, Ana, Dylan, Madeleine, Catherine, Chase, Jesse, James, Grace, Emilie, Jack, Noah, Caroline, Jessica, Avielle, Benjamin, Allison, Mary, Victoria, Anne, Lauren, Dawn, and Rachel.

You’re all angels now.

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Love and Peace,
Tonya

Dr. Oz is NOT your Shepherd!

I’ve been holding off on writing about my love/hate relationship with Dr. Oz but now I have to vent! First, why I love him. He encourages the masses to improve their health. Period. Now, why I hate him. He encourages the masses to improve their health using a variety of conventional and not-so-conventional foods, herbs and supplements. I hate this because I work for a rather large health food store. The day after an episode of Dr. Oz people come in with their list of the latest and greatest pills and potions proven to help with _______, you fill in the blank. Stress, insomnia, weight loss, blood pressure, you name it, Dr. Oz has a solution for it and people want it. Now. Don’t get me wrong, he’s great for business. Raspberry ketones. Garcinia cambogia. Lemon balm. Konjac root fiber. Some are normal. Most are not. What bugs me the more is most people take what he says at face value without doing any further research for themselves. Streams of sheep flow in looking for the quick fix for health issues that took months and years to manifest due primarily to diet and lifestyle. When Dr. Oz recently talked about green coffee bean extract and losing weight WITHOUT changing your diet or exercising, we couldn’t keep it on the shelf! This magic pill continues to sell at a phenomenal rate. When I can, I educate my customers about improving the quality of their food choices and also suggest some form of physical activity. I recently had a client whose list included four very different weight loss supplements recommended by Dr. Oz. She insisted on purchasing all four although I tried to persuade her to try one at a time so that she knew which one really worked. Nope. She wanted all four and when I started to mention diet and exercise she stopped me mid-sentence and directly informed me that she had NO intention of changing anything. She hated exercising and loved food way too much, evident by her more than jolly size. Wow. I gave her my card in case she changed her mind. Freewill, certainly. My frustration lies in that if everything he suggests or recommends really works, why are people still fat and sick. Why? Because no one wants to give up the crappy foods that are making them fat and sick to begin with. Like this woman, they want their cake and the magic pill that will prevent that cake from going straight to their already fat butt.

What set me off about Dr. Oz this morning was his appearance on the Today Show and the 99% diet, meant for 99% of the people. Organic frozen veggies. Canned salmon. Ok. But microwave popcorn? Good ‘ol supermarket meat? Skippy peanut butter? Wheat wraps? Really Dr. Oz? When Matt asked you about Skippy, you said sure. You did mention looking out for added salt, (or maybe it was sugar, I was already seething by then). Skippy not only has both added salt and sugar but artery hardening, hydrogenated oils as well. As for hormone-riddled, grain-fed, antibiotic-filled conventional meat? That sentence says enough. Wheat wraps? Have you missed the current science on the health issues involving wheat consumption? And could something as innocuous as microwave popcorn be more toxic?

Sorry Dr. Oz. You missed the mark on this one.

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Be Vibrant!
Tonya

Yes, I’m Human!

This past Thanksgiving my family and friends were surprised to find that I too, on occasion, eat foods that have more to do with comforting my soul than nourishing my body. Thursday’s list included all the traditional favorites: delicious homemade stuffing, classic green bean casserole, (a healthy version of course!), fluffy mashed potatoes, oh-so-sweet, sweet potato pie, Pammie’s creamy, side-dish-of-goodness made of all things corn, honey-glazed ham for the turkey haters, and of course, the bird with its golden, crispy crust and moist, tender meat.(Thanks to brining!) Being as I rarely indulge in grains and sweets, this meal was a treat! Since I was in charge of all things cooking, I could’ve made cauli-tatoes, baked my own grain-free bread to make the stuffing, skipped the corn casserole, etc…but…I didn’t. And it was soooo goood!

You see, I don’t have the issues that keep some people from being able to eat from the more common food groups. I mostly, (that’s right, mostly) avoid grains, beans and dairy because I believe there are better food choices that encourage and promote health. It doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy an occasional burger WITH the bun or, and I know this is crazy, a scoop of rocky road ice cream complete with cone! This is shocking to those I work with who’ve come to know me as the “food police” and to the students who fill my classes with their eagerness to learn how food can impact them in a positive way. I encourage them to live by the 80/20 rule. If 80% of the time you’re doing what you know you should: eating “right”, moving your body, drinking plenty of clean water, than the effects of the “other” 20% won’t be as bad.

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE FOOD!. I’m all about fresh, organic-as-much-as-possible, sustainable food. But I live more by the 95/5 rule which makes me a freak. I practice what I preach. I walk the talk. But yes, Virginia, I AM human.

Be Vibrant!

Tonya

Death of the Twinkie

Millions are mourning the potential loss of their sweet, cream-filled, golden spongy goodness. Hostess, the makers of the beloved Twinkie, are closing it’s doors. People are lining up at bakery outlets everywhere, snatching up what they can. Twinkies are being sold on the internet at inflated prices. 18,000 people left jobless and you’re worried about what you’re going to do without Twinkies? What a bunch of ding dongs.

Since 1980, obesity in children has tripled. More than a third of adults in the U.S. are overweight. Obesity related conditions, including heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancer are on the rise. I think one less company producing sugary, fatty, chemically enhanced food would be a cause for celebration. Instead, other companies are looking into buying and sustaining this iconic “food”. I put food in quotes because it is anything but. There are more than 30 ingredients in a Twinkie including five different types of sugar, beef fat and hydrogenated oils. Twinkies also contain red dye #40, which certainly makes food pretty to look at, but if sprayed on plants will work as a pesticide. What about polysorbate 60, a cancer connected chemical used to keep the oil from separating in the “cream” filling. M-m-m-m good. NOT!

There are plenty of Frankenfood alternatives to the Twinkie but isn’t your money better spent on fresh, nourishing food and snacks? Why not send your Twinkie money to those who lost everything in the wake of Hurricane Sandy? Or better yet, to the families of the 18,000 folks who are now jobless. That would be a real zinger.

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Be Vibrant!
Tonya

Celebrate Your Life!

Have you ever noticed that most of your ordinary days, your triumphs and your defeats, even life and death, revolve around food and drink? What do you do to help the new mom next door with a new baby, two other kids under four and a husband who works a 60 hour week?? Bring food. What do you do after the funeral of your great Uncle Martin? Eat and reminisce. What about holidays spent with family you see once a year? Eat and reminisce. Your husband’s promotion at work? Out to dinner of course! Meeting up with a girlfriend or two? Will it be coffee or cocktails? I’m sure you feel me by now.

Sometimes uncomfortable news is easier to give over a beer at your favorite bar because you know your soon-to-be-ex-husband refuses to cry in public. Or at the table of your local mexican restaurant because you know your mother won’t make a scene.  I know because I’ve been at both tables. The first one years ago and bless you Donnie for not making it more difficult than it already was. The other table, however, was a few short days ago. The mother of my husband’s children, I hate calling them my “stepkids” because they mean more to me than that, came to visit from California with her husband. What’s the first thing we did? We all met for dinner. Along with the young man Courtney has been spending time with.  And the “uncomfortable” news? I’m sure, smart readers, you’ve guessed it.  C ( we call her “C” sometimes), had to tell her mom she’s pregnant. At 19. Seven months after moving out on her own. Oops. Reactions ranged from tears to rage all in the span of few moments. Tears because although we are excited to have another grandchild, (we have precious Owen, who is three and half, back home in California with my oldest son Billy), we know the road she is travelling won’t be easy. Doable, of course. Just not easy. The young man took the verbal licking from all the adults at the table for the rest of the meal, while we encouraged and consoled and considered the new momma and the future of this instant little addition to the family. Over food. And drinks. Lots of them. Just kidding.

 

“Food” for Thought

GMO. BPA. MSG. Foreign, toxic, highly allergenic ingredients most of you eat or are exposed to daily. You know about pollutants in the air you breath and the chemicals in the water you drink. Conventional produce. Vaccines. Amalgams. All deadly to your wellbeing. But you are further poisoning yourself by what you expose your thought life to. The movies you watch. The music you listen to. The news you read. The job you do. The people you choose to spend time with. Was that movie inspiring?  Is the music uplifting?  Does your job give you purpose? How about the people you hang out with, do they motivate you to be your best self?

Now, I don’t know about y’all, but I do know one thing. I don’t roll out of bed in the morning and head straight for the television. And for some reason, the last few weeks, my husband is obsessed with the Today Show. No offense, Matt, Savannah, Natalie, Al, but I really prefer the early morning quiet with my cup of hot tea while I’m making breakfast for the boy, instead of the sound of my über sensitive husband crying on the couch because of yet another tragedy. The disappearance and consequent murder of little Jessica. The soon-to-be-extinct red orangutans. The unfairness of Natalie at the news desk instead of as co-host. He insists he NEEDS to keep up with current events. Fine. I get that. But he has USA Today on his phone. And all the news updates he could ever want on the new computer in his office. On the giant, up-close-and-personal, 32″ monitor no less. Why, oh, why does he have to expose me to it? There’s no escaping. The living/kitchen area is connected and the T.V. is right there in my face. I am well aware of the murder and mayhem, crime and corruption, worries and war that are happening in the world and in my neighborhood. I just don’t want to hear about it on a daily basis. Especially first thing in the morning. Please, honey.

And what about the silent movie that plays over and over again in your own mind? The constant drone of not being good enough. Or pretty enough. Or thin or happy or rich enough. Well, dear readers, guess what?  Your health is as affected by the thoughts you think as by the foods you eat. Garbage in. garbage out. Forget about your weaknesses and focus on your strengths. Reassess what is relevant and valuable to your life and ditch the rest. Surround yourself with positive people. Know your purpose. Every day is a new chance to remake, recreate and redirect your thoughts and energy. The ability to transform your life starts NOW!

Be Vibrant!

Tonya

Bringing Back the Family Dinner

For the first time in a long while, we sat down as a family and ate dinner. We invited our now-grown and-on-her-own daughter and her roommate, and made our active 15-year-old son cut short his social activities. Of course, he brought Tommy with him. We love Tommy. We think of him as a son. In fact, today is his 17th birthday. His home life is a challenge and yet you will not meet a nicer, more respectful, hardworking young man. Always ready with his quick wit and charming smile. A testimony to not letting the struggles in life get you down. And one of the reasons we’ve decided to make Sunday night dinner a priority. Along with, of course, spending time with our own children. Something we don’t take advantage of often enough. It makes me think of the three kids I gave birth to.  Grown and finding their own way into adulthood, more than a thousand miles away, without the benefit of eating around their mother’s table. It reminds me of how much I miss their physical presence in our life.

My husband and I eat dinner together most nights but Trent (the 15-year-old) usually comes in later having already eaten or looking for a quick snack before bed. We do “Taco Tuesday Nights”, which is a family favorite but not often enough. Last night was great. We chatted and laughed and enjoyed each others company without the television blaring or phones ringing. Considering there were four teenagers at the table that says a lot. Dinner was actually short and sweet.The boys left to go meet up with a pro-bike team that was in town and Courtney and Caleb left to finish up their errands and chores before starting another work week, Much like what responsible, adults-in-the-making do. Good for them.  The only thing left to do was to enjoy the homemade vanilla ice cream I had made for dessert! Creamy goodness with sliced almonds toasted in a bit of coconut oil! Boy, did they miss out!

I called Courtney a short while later and asked her what she thought about setting Sunday nights aside for dinner. She was all for it. Especially since Caleb’s mom and dad just moved across the state line, more than five hours away. No weekly family dinners for him. Until now. So Caleb, this is for you too. Another place to call home.

How about you, dear readers? Does your family eat a traditional, sit-down-every-night-together meal? Or are you more of a hit-and-miss mess? How about those of you that live alone? Wouldn’t it be nice to serve a home cooked meal to others that might enjoy some human companionship and conversation?  Food brings people together. Invite your neighbor, or your co-worker or that family member that lives right around the corner and you never see. Food brings people together. Sometimes family is more than sharing blood. It’s sharing your heart and your table. And for this girl, nothing brings me more joy than feeding fresh, wholesome food to anyone who graces my table. Especially Tommy. Happy birthday son!

Be Vibrant!

Tonya