Sunday, June 30, 2013

Inflamed about Inflammation?

Darn knife.  Cut me as I was trying to cut a tomato that slipped out from underneath me.

If you're anything like me you cut yourself often; sometimes without even know it.  Since I do not want to draw attention to myself, especially in public,  I tend to play it off as if nothing happened.  Next thing I know, my cut becomes red, warm, swollen, and painful.  These symptoms are associated with inflammation, the body's response to injury and infection.  Since I am healthy my body responds to inflammation well and my cut was healed within a few days.

However, have you ever had a cut or a bruise that lasted a lot longer than usual? If so, there could be a long list of reasons as to why the cut or bruise cant or wont heal.  One of those reasons could be due to something called Chronic Inflammation. 

What about the inflammation that we cant see?  How does our body respond and heal? 

When your body is in a constant state of inflammation its termed, Chronic Inflammation.  The cause of chronic inflammation varies from person to person, but includes:
    -Being overweight
    -Experiencing high levels of stress
    -Lack of exercise
    -Lack of sleep
    -Sedentary lifestyle

When the immune response is never "shut off" due to these causes, there is a constant production of immune cells that can lead to permanent damage such as:
    -Heart Disease

Don't fret, however! Just because we have days where we are stressed to the max, don't sleep, or have the energy to exercise does not mean we are going to develop a chronic disease.  Rather, we have the ability to help protect our bodies to help heal quicker from some such incidences.

The foods we choose to eat -- or not to eat -- is the key! 

Consuming a fair share of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and omega-3 fatty acids have been suggested to have anti-inflammatory properties.  The association between food and inflammation is still being studied but here is a list of foods to avoid to keep inflammation and illness at bay.

     1) Trans Fats
           -Can induce inflammation by damaging the cells in the lining of blood vessels.
     2) Sugar
           -Too much sugar can alter the body to send out extra immunity messengers, called cytokines.
     3) White Bread
           -White bread and pasta breaks down quickly into sugar, and it turn leads to inflammation.
           -Diets high in refined grains lead to a greater concentration of a certain inflammation marker in
             the blood.
    4) Red Meat
           - Animal fat has been linked to inflammation as saturated fat creates inflammation naturally
                through arachidonic acid.
    5) Alcohol
           - Alcohol naturally irritates our insides by allowing bacteria to pass easily through the intestinal
    6) Omega-6 Fatty Acids
           - Greater amount of omega-6's to omega-3's can lead to inflammation.
    7) Milk
           - Low-fat dairy can guard against inflammation, however whole milk is still high in saturated fat
               and thereby can trigger an inflammatory reaction.
    8) MSG: Monosodium Glutamate 
           -Is a preservative & flavor enhancer that is still being researched for its inflammatory properties.
    9) Gluten
           - People who are not diagnosed with Celiac Disease report feeling better after eliminating
               Gluten from their diet.  Possible reasons for this is due to Gluten's ability to cause bloating
               which is an inflammatory response.
   10) Cooking Oils
           - Safflower, soy, sunflower, corn, and cottonseed oils may promote inflammation as they may
               be made with cheaper ingredients.

     1) Wild Alaskan Salmon
            -Contains omega-3's.  Try to consume oily fish twice weekly.
     2) Kelp
            -High in fiber that helps control liver and lunge cancer.
     3) Extra Virgin Olive Oil
            - This oil provides a healthy dose of fat that fights inflammation.
     4) Cruciferous Vegetables
            -Broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale and cauliflower are loaded with antioxidants.
     5) Blueberries
            -Not only reduce inflammation, but they can protect the brain from again and prevent diseases.
     6) Tumeric
            -Is a powerful Asian spice that contains a natural anti-inflammatory compound, cur cumin.
     7) Ginger
           -Helps reduce inflammation and control blood sugar.
     8) Garlic
           -May help reduce inflammation, regulate glucose and help your body fight infection.
     9) Green Tea
           -Contains anti-inflammatory flavonoids that may reduce the risk of certain cancers.
   10) Sweet Potato
          -Great source of complex carbohydrates, fiber, beta-carotene, manganese, and vitamin B6 and C.

Thursday, June 27, 2013


Finding someone who is Vegan is no longer far and few between.  However, being vegan is more than just abstaining from the use of animal products by way of consumption and product use.  Some vegans also abstain from consuming eggs and dairy products as they come from animals.  Vegan diets tend to be high in dietary fiber, magnesium, folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin E, and plant based sources of iron.  The diet tends to also be low in saturated fat, cholesterol, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, calcium, zinc and B vitamins.  However, being vegan does not necessarily mean that your diet will be low in calories. 

Currently, one of my clients is a Raw Vegan. What that means is that the diet combines the concepts of being a vegan in addition to a raw foodism. By being a Raw Vegan, all foods and products of animal origin or foods that have been cooked at a temperature above 104 degrees fahrenheit are eliminated from the diet. Rather, foods are eaten fresh, dehydrated and with low heat or fermentation. The thought is that by heating foods it diminishes its nutrients, makes the food toxic and is therefore less digestible. 

Misconceptions about being Raw Vegan include:

1) Cooking Destroys Nutrients

Cooking food does not destroy nutrients but rather can help release nutrients that would otherwise be unavailable by being in the raw state.  For example, by cooking tomatoes it increases the absorption of the antioxidant lycopene by five-folds.  Similarly, when carrots are cooked the beta-carotene, Vitamin A, is more available for the body to absorb.  In addition, cooking vegetables can reduce certain chemicals in vegetables that inhibit the absorption of mineral such as zinc, iron, calcium and magnesium.  Admittedly, some nutrients are lost in cooking but this is minimal in comparison to how many nutrients are in fruits and vegetables.  

2) Cooking Destroys Enzymes

Yes, heat destroys enzymes.  However, humans make their own digestive enzymes to break food down into smaller and more digestible components.  Additionally, most plant enzymes in raw foods become destroyed due to the acid in the gut. Plants also have their own set of enzymes which causes enzymatic browning of fruit as shown below. 

3) Raw Foods are Detoxifying

Detoxing is an alternative medicine concept where the idea is that the liver and colon carry toxins.  In actuality, the colon is relatively low in toxins as is the liver.  One of the liver's jobs is to process chemicals where is breaks down toxins as they are passed through this organ. Therefore, a detox may not be doing what you think and/or want it to do. But instead, deplete nutrients in the body and enzymatic activity. 

4) Raw Veganisim is Healthy

From a clinical standpoint, the most dangerous part of being a raw vegan is having nutritional deficiencies, particularly vitamin B12, D, selenium, wind, iron and omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA. To be a raw vegan it is recommended that supplements of these nutrients, through a multivitamin and an additional B complex, be taken on a regular basis.   Another consideration when being a raw vegan is tooth decay.  When consuming an extremely high volume of fruit, teeth can erode due to the acids and the sugar in the fruit.  

To recap: Nutritional Deficiencies are of a concern when following a Raw Vegan diet.  The nutrient to be most aware of is vitamin B12 as raw vegans can become deficient, which can lead to anemia and neurodegenerative diseases.  Therefore, if you decide to become or already are a raw vegan, make sure you do your research and fortify your diet with protein powders, nuts, nut butters (as B12 is naturally occurring in protein sources such as shellfish), a multivitamin and a vitamin B12 complex.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Homemade Chef

Flour fights in the kitchen while the parents are away?
Eating batter by the spoonfuls out of the bowl? 
Taste testing every dish before it hits the table?

Sound familiar?  

It does to me as this is how I began my cooking and baking adventure back in elementary and middle school.  Easy Bake Oven step aside, I wanted the real thing...the stove/oven!

Cooking and baking goods for others to enjoy has long been a passion of mine.  It all started in the kitchen as a child as my mother would tell me stories of how her and her mother used to make certain dishes together such as Zwieback, a German Sweet Bread.  I would see my mothers face light up when she would recall the memories she had cooking and eating what her now departed mother used to make.  As a child, I sensed that there was some kind of connection my mother had with not only her mother but the food her mother made.  Since then,  I wanted to be like my mother when she was a child.  I wanted those found memories of creating and making great tasting recipes in the kitchen along side the one who knows it best, my mother. As a child I was lucky as the majority of our produce and meat came from my parents garden and my uncles cow's, pigs, chickens, etc.  I didn't know processed foods or the norm of eating out several times a week.  Rather, I knew what mother taught me, how to make and eat wholesome food from scratch.

After many belly aches and splatter burns, I believe I have a pretty decent handle on how to make healthier food taste delicious. Without further a duo, here are some of the dishes I have made clients as a Homemade Personal Chef.

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Turkey Quinoa and Red Pepper Aioli 

Turkey Fried Rice

Crab Salad with Tomatoes

Spicy Shrimp and Rice Soup

Baked French Toast with Cinnamon Streusel 

Recipes to come but first, I need to write them down myself!  Enjoy!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Hard Work = Big Rewards

3.1, 6.2, 13.1....17? 

If you are a runner you already know what I am talking about when you see: 3.1 (5K), 6.2 (10K), and 13.1 (half marathon).  But 17?  How does 17 fit into the picture?  Well, 17 is my current milage for the Chicago Marathon training this October.  As anyone who has ever ran or trained for a marathon would say, why are you running 17 miles when the marathon is months away? My answer would be, I am listening to my body and training for me while still being able to enjoy the summer.  A couple years ago I was training for a marathon and I was over training by running 5 days a week. In addition,  I tended to increased my milage by over 10% a week which is NOT recommended.  Not only did this regiment make training difficult (personally, socially, mentally, and physically) but it also landed me in physical therapy by the end of it all.  Now that I am back at the training game I have learned to not only listen to my body but to maintain a balance between my training schedule and my social life.  I now increase my milage every other week for my long runs.  This way I can not only have a day or two off during the week but a weekend off where the pressure of having a "long run" subsides.

Sunday mornings = long run and mine began at 5am.  I made myself a peanut butter sandwich, stretched, and gathered my essentials...Water and GU!

On this particular run I searched high and low for my "runners high" and could not find it.  It was a struggle.  I knew physically I could run the 17 miles but on this particular day it just didn't click.  Even though it was not my best run I am proud that I didn't stop and finished what I set out to do.

The best part about running the 17 miles, no matter how horrible it went, was the aftermath of a well deserved BRUNCH at LuLuBells Pancake House on Southport.

Brunch began with:

Biscuits N' Gravy

Followed by Corned Beef Hash

French Toast

Nutella Banana Crepe

Fruity Fit Crepe

And finally, the Farmer Omelet.

All this food was not just for me!  I had a partner in crime.  That partner in crime knew the owner of LuLuBells who then just kept brining us food "just to try".  To say the least, I did not leave there hungry and was able to take plenty of the food home!

Saturday, June 22, 2013


Due to the number of services I provide the price range varies.

1) Nutrition Evaluation
     -Initial Nutrition Consult: $100

2) Nutrition Planning and Advice:
     -Hour long Nutrition Consultation: $75
     -Half and Hour Nutrition Consult: $50
     -Package deals are available at a discount rate depending upon number of sessions requested.

3) Personal Chef:  Cost may vary depending upon cost of food
     -3 meals per day starts at:  $50+ per day
     -2 meals per day starts at:  $40+ per day
     -1 meal per day starts at:   $30+ per day

4) Personal Training Session:
    -$50 per session
    -Group rates available on request

5) Individual workout plans:
    -These are written out plans based on goals without actual training sessions

6) Running Coach:
    -Includes Heart Rate Zone analysis and range recommendations
    -5k personalized plan: $20
    -Half and Full Marathon plan: $30
    -Running and nutritional plan: prices vary depending on extent of planning

Email: for more information and inquires.

Friday, June 21, 2013


Who doesn't love chocolate? I know I do. And who wants a nutritionist that tells you all you can eat is carrots and kale? Not me! But finding the right balance can be tricky....and that's where I come in. I can help you find the right balance of foods for your lifestyle without sacrificing the things you love.

But food isnt't all I do. In addition to being a registered dietitian, I'm a personal trainer, too. Whether you're new to working out or a professional athelete, I can help you plan workouts and make sure you are doing the right things nutritionally to support your level of activitiy. 

I combine nutrion and fitness and throw in a healthy dose of fun to help you meet your wellnes goals. Come EVOLVE with me!


Some of the services I provide include: 

1) Nutritional Evaluation:
    Provide food intake analysis, body composition assessment, resting metabolic rate, and total energy  

2) Nutrition planning and advice:
     Construct individualized meal plans according to lifestyle and dietary needs to obtain nutritional goals. 

3) Personal Chef:
     Prepare fresh, pre-portioned meals according to diet restrictions and calorie needs for weight loss, weight maintenance, weight gain, and athletic performance.  

4) Personal training sessions:
     Create different and dynamic goal-specific programs that maximize client results. 

5) Individualized workout plans: 
     Design goal oriented programs that can be done with minimal equipment at home, in a park, or in a gym.

6) Running coach: 
     Develop a program for beginner and advanced runners that achieves clients goals, while minimizing the risk of overuse and over-training injuries.