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The Ultimate Guide to Vegan Protein Sources by Joey Bruno

When I returned from vacation I checked my email & there was one from a Joey Bruno. He introduced himself & told me about an article he had written regarding vegan protein. I get quite a few emails like this but Joey’s was different. His article is the most comprehensive, informative, scientifically based article about the vegan diet I have read. It is a treasure chest of information laid out so that you can easily understand the vegan diet, detailed information regarding protein sources & it also includes recipes! 

You should look at his article even if you have no interest in a vegan diet because the information is useful for everyone. 

Most Americans get way more protein than is beneficial each day. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that the average American male consumes 102 grams of protein per day, while the average female eats about 70 grams. That’s almost twice the daily recommended protein by the Food and Nutrition Board. Adults should eat 10% to 35% of their daily calories from protein foods. That is about 46 grams for women, and 56 grams of protein for men. The World Health Organization recommends 10-15% of your daily calories, or the minimum protein intake at about 1/3 of a gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. This is the minimum to maintain a healthy body. For 140# that would be 46 grams. 

When you are confronted with a disease such as cancer you should increase the amount of protein you consume to help maintain your weight. It is important to look at your unique situation. I would recommend you speak with an Oncology Certified Nutritionist to decide what is right for you. It depends on the individuals health picture.

Before I introduce the link to the article, I would also like to give you the link to his website. Thrive Cuisine His mission statement matches ours!  “The mission of Thrive Cuisine is to make plant-based eating easy and accessible for all people and clear up many of the misconceptions floating around online.”  Check out his Blog 

My favorite part of Joey’s website is: How To Go Vegan: The Ultimate Step by Step Guide Deciding to adopt a vegan lifestyle can be a daunting and seemingly challenging task. One may think they need to give up all the foods that they love, cut ties with all their non-vegan friends/family, and drive a Prius. This is simply not the case….” Listed are many reasons people choose a vegan diet. Under health he states: “While one of the more controversial subjects of veganism, the topic of health and veganism can lead many people astray. Despite conflicting opinions from bloggers and online news websites, scientific consensus is clear…..Click on the link to read on 🙂 

The Ultimate Guide to Vegan Protein Sources  January 17, 2017 / By Joey Bruno   Many people in the Western world have been brought up with the idea that you need to consume animal products (especially meat) to meet your daily needs for protein. Without doing so, you’re liable to end up frail, weak, and unhealthy. However, in 2017, there is more than enough peer reviewed scientific evidence to know this is not the case.

We’ve put together this article order to help educate people on the truth of vegan protein sources, as well as protein itself. By understanding plant protein can be just as adequate, if not better, than animal based protein for staying healthy and building muscle, one can make informed choices about the food they consume and it’s impact on the well-being of animals, the environment, and their own bodies.”

As you read through the article you will come to this section: Vegan Protein Sources, Benefits, & Recipes  To make sure you’re eating the right foods, especially in the beginning, it’s important to know what to look for. Here we’ve listed the most protein-heavy vegan foods that can be used in a variety of recipes and eaten as staple foods. Most of these are inexpensive, they are all easy to cook, and they can all lend themselves to different cuisines and styles of cooking. Check out the recipes linked, too – they’ll give you new ideas on how to jazz up old favorites.” 

Here is how he has laid out the protein sources: under Beans & Legumes for example: 

Navy Beans

  • 100g = 22g protein
  • The navy bean is so named because it was a staple food of the United States Navy in the early 1900s. Many battles were fought on this little bean, which has historically been used to make baked beans and provides a hearty dose of magnesium, folate, and potassium – all of which can improve your heart health.
  • Read more about Navy Beans….


  • 100g = 26g protein
  • Lentils are fiber powerhouses, and are also very high in iron. One of the greatest virtues of lentils is their versatility: there are so many different varieties, each of which lends itself best to a different style of dish. They’re quick-cooking, too, so there’s no excuse not to reach for them in the cupboard.
  • Read more about Lentils….

He has sections like this one for Grains; Nuts & Seeds; & Soy Beans & Soy Products. Recipes are at the end of each section. 

Using this information you can easily set up a vegan diet for yourself, add a vegan day to your diet plan or apply the information to wean yourself off of red meat. As I said in the beginning, this article is a treasure trove for everyone! This is a good article to bookmark for protein sources. I have! 

Thank you Joey! Until next week…Mary 🙂 

About the Author Joey Bruno…Also known as the “Hairy Vegan Animal”, cooking healthy, delicious, plant-based meals has been Joey’s true passion since he went vegan in 2015. He’s committed to making the internet a place of education and knowledge rather than misinformation and clickbait. He currently lives in Delaware with his wife,


Linking Foods to Boost Their Nutritional Clout



February’s newsletter from “Nutrition WOW”, Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, started me thinking about how you can pair foods to boost their nutritional value. Sometimes we do this automatically; tomatoes & olive oil for example. Let’s explore this idea beginning with “Nutrition WOW’s” list.


Food “Power Couples” from Nutrition WOW  “Hey lovers! Just as your sweetheart brings out the best in you, certain foods are healthier when paired with the right partner.” 

Meet my favorite Food “Power Couples”:

  • Tea + Lemon
    Why we’re a power couple: Citrus makes healthy tea antioxidants, called catechins, more absorbable.
  • Pasta + Balsamic Vinegar
    Why we’re a power couple: Vinegar slows carb digestion to lower post-meal blood sugar & increase fullness.
  • Yogurt + Almonds
    Why we’re a power couple: Almonds are a prebiotic that strengthen the good probiotic bugs in yogurt.
  • Spinach + Strawberries
    Why we’re a power couple: Vitamin C in berries helps the body absorb iron in spinach.
  • Tomatoes + Olive Oil
    Why we’re a power couple: Olive oil increases the absorption of heart-smart lycopene in tomatoes.
  • Turmeric + Black Pepper
    Why we’re a power couple: Black pepper increases the power of turmeric by over 2000%.
    *Try GOLDEN MILK: A mood-boosting, energy-enhancing, pain-reducing wonder drink. This is a wonderful drink to have in the late afternoon.
  • Rosemary + Grilled Meat
    Why we’re a power couple: Rosemary’s natural antioxidant content decreases carcinogens from forming during cooking.
  • Eggs + Salad
    Why we’re a power couple: Eggs increase the absorption of cancer-fighting carotenoids in raw vegetables. 

Now that you get the idea, let’s look at more “power couples”.

From EveryDayHealth: 7 Foods You Should Always Eat Together By Debbie Strong “Certain foods just belong together — and no, we’re not talking about peanut butter and jelly (although it’s definitely delicious!). There are foods that when combined, not only taste great, but help you absorb nutrients more effectively.” 

This slideshow adds even more foods to link together & why ~Check out the slide show for the complete list.

  • Yogurt & Bananas ~protein + potassium~ Turns out, your go-to portable breakfast may also make the perfect post-workout snack. Combining the potassium found in bananas with high protein foods like yogurt (especially Greek yogurt) helps build muscle and replenish amino acids that are depleted during exercise. A great snack for those long hours in treatment!
  • Carrots & Hummus ~healthy carbs + protein~ Looking for a way to beat the afternoon munchies? “Choosing snacks that combine protein and healthy carbs can help to curb hunger and give you an extra boost of energy,” says Sakimura. Another portable snack.
  • Avocado with Salsa ~healthy fats and carotenoids~ Good news if you love going out for Mexican: Salsa with avocado is a nutritional power duo. Bright and colorful veggies in salsa are rich in carotenoids, disease-fighting plant pigments that help protect you from cancer and heart disease. Adding healthy fats, like those found in avocados, can maximize protective benefits. Had this last night. Yum!
  • Raw Veggies and Eggs ~carotenoids and egg yolks~ Next time you’re at the salad bar, add a few hardboiled eggs to your bowl. Recent research out of Purdue University presented at the American Society for Nutrition’s Annual Meeting during Experimental Biology 2015 suggests that the protein-packed topping may help increase the nutritive properties of raw vegetables. Now that eggs “are back”.. 🙂

Even the Readers Digest got into this subject. 3 foods that are healthier eaten together 

  • Pair pasta with red wine vinegar ~ Red wine vinegar (like other types of vinegar) contains acetic acid, which research has shown reduces the spike in blood sugar that occurs after consuming starchy foods high in carbohydrates such as pasta, rice and bread.
  • Pair tempeh with leeks ~ In 2010, researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto showed that the joint consumption of inulin (a prebiotic substance found in leeks, onions, garlic, Jerusalem artichokes and chicory) with soy protein and soy isoflavones can reduce LDL ( “bad”) cholesterol while simultaneously raising HDL ( “good”) cholesterol. I roast the tempeh & leeks together. 
  • Pair chicken with grapefruit ~ Poultry, beef, pork and fish are all top dietary sources of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). This “power plant” of our body’s cells plays a vital role in the production of the energy we use for everything from digesting food to running on a treadmill. The coenzyme may also help control blood pressure in those with hypertension. A 2010 Japanese study discovered that eating grapefruit allows up to 50 percent higher cellular absorption of CoQ10 (grapefruit appears to inhibit a protein in the membrane of cells that limits CoQ10 uptake).

Click on the link above to see a recipe after each pairing. 

I found this pairing in an article from India; no argument with this one!  FOODS YOU SHOULD ALWAYS EAT TOGETHER  

  • Apples and Dark chocolate…Why: When nibbled together, dark chocolate and apples can boost heart health. Apple skin contains the flavonoid quercetin, which acts like an anti-inflammatory in the body. Meanwhile, the cocoa in dark chocolate is rich in catechins, an antioxidant that helps prevent the hardening of arteries.Try it: Dip apple slices into melted chocolate. You can use milk chocolate, but the darker variety contains up to six times more of the health-boosting catechins.

Remember, these “couples” are boosting the nutritional value. Pairs like bacon & eggs; ham & cheese; macaroni & cheese; & peanut butter & jelly, don’t count. 🙂

I am on vacation right now, enjoying the warmer weather & family. My next Blog Post will be on March 20th. Until then…Mary 🙂

Additional Resources

  • Food Synergy: Nutrients That Work Better Together  “Why eating a variety of whole foods is your best nutritional bet
  • Dynamic Dietary Duos  by Dr. Oz on These nutrients pack a much greater punch in tandem than solo.
  • The Science behind Foodpairing® Foodpairing is a scientific method to identify which foods & drinks go well together. To understand why ingredients match it’s important to know how humans perceive flavour. Not the food pairing we are discussing but interesting none the less.

February Nutrition Nuggets


In this months “Nutrition Nuggets” I will discuss recent studies for a longer, healthier life; brown apples; arsenic in your rice; France’s new law to fight obesity; another reason not to eat sugar; snacking & breakfast; & vitamin D3. Lots of good information! I am ending with a Nugget about healthy pasta that Alessandra sent me this morning.

This new study from England focused on the eating habits of 2 million people in various studies. Here are the results from pooling this information.  Fruit and veg: For a longer life eat 10-a-day Eating loads of fruit and vegetables – 10 portions a day – may give us longer lives, say researchers. The study, by Imperial College London, calculated such eating habits could prevent 7.8 million premature deaths each year. The team also identified specific fruit and veg that reduced the risk of cancer and heart disease.

The analysis showed even small amounts had a health boon, but more is even better. A portion counts as 80g (3oz) of fruit or veg – the equivalent of a small banana, a pear or three heaped tablespoons of spinach or peas. The conclusions were made by pooling data on 95 separate studies, involving two million people’s eating habits.

Lower risks of cancer were linked to eating: No surprise here 🙂

  • green veg (eg spinach)
  • yellow veg (eg peppers)
  • cruciferous vegetables (eg cauliflower).

Lower risks of heart disease and strokes were linked to eating: Or here.

  • apples
  • pears
  • citrus fruits
  • salads
  • green leafy vegetables (eg lettuce)
  • cruciferous veg

The article concludes that 5 portions a day, one portion being 3 ounces of fruit or veg, have health benefits, but more increases those benefits. The last thought is:Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, said: “The five-a-day target is the foundation of a healthy balanced diet and is an achievable way to help prevent a number of diseases. “Whilst consuming more than five portions of fruit and vegetables a day may be desirable… adding pressure to consume more fruit and vegetables creates an unrealistic expectation.”  We don’t need more stress over our diets 🙂 Very good article.

This next article sort of irritated me. Consumers have come to expect the perfect, blemish free, piece of fruit or vegetable in their grocery stores. Because of this expectation…GMO apples that never brown could hit stores soon  For a select few apple lovers in the US, a Golden Delicious slice will no longer turn brown as the first genetically modified apples are expected to go on sale early next month.

A small amount of Arctic brand sliced and packaged Golden Delicious apples, produced by Okanagan Specialty Fruits in British Columbia, Canada, will hit the shelves of 10 stores in the Midwest in February and March, Neal Carter, the company’s founder and president, told the agricultural news website Capital Press. Arctic’s website lists the apples as being available early this year in some test markets. 🙁 🙁

As the article states, apples turning brown does not mean they are rotten. It is just an oxygenated process that is natural. I wasn’t aware that stores or producers spray apples with chemicals to delay the apple from becoming brown. That is just wrong. This company thinks that a GMO apple would be welcomed because it wouldn’t be sprayed with toxic chemicals. Read the article for more information.

I will stick with my organically grown apples. When sliced, I will either eat them right away; squirt lemon or lime juice on them; or sprinkle them with cinnamon to prevent browning. Tastes wonderful. My grandsons loved their apple slices that way in their lunch boxes. Have we become that lazy & picky that we need GMO fruits & vegetables to keep them looking fresh?

Arsenic in rice is in the news once more. I addressed this issue in a post on February 13th 2016, take a look at the information. I discussed the use of American grown rice as opposed to rice from Asia. The reason it is back in the news, one year later, is because of the rise in arsenic poisoning in Bangladesh. This is from contaminated drinking water. The concern is that rice is grown in flooded fields; exposing it to arsenic in the soil & in the contaminated water. Should I worry about arsenic in my rice?   This article is from the BBC News. It is about the need for stricter regulations regarding the acceptable levels of arsenic in rice imported into the UK. Very informative. 

from the Huffington Post:  Yes, There Is Arsenic In Your Rice. Here’s What You Need To Know  Yes, there is arsenic in your rice. Yes, arsenic is toxic. And it has been associated with lung, skin and bladder cancer, among other health concerns. And yes, even though it contains arsenic, you can still eat rice…..Consumer Reports suggests mixing up your grain consumption with other grains that are naturally lower in arsenic. Amaranth, buckwheat, millet and polenta have almost no levels of arsenic. Bulgur, barley, and farro have very low levels. And quinoa has less than rice…..You can also cook rice in a way that will remove some of the arsenic. While the modern technique of cooking rice in a limited amount water helps retain the most nutrition from the grain, it also retains the arsenic. Boiling the rice in a 6:1 water-to-rice ratio (sort of how you’d cook pasta), draining the excess water once cooked, has been shown to remove up to 60 percent of arsenic levels in rice. Rinsing before you cook can also reduce arsenic levels. In other words, flush the rice with lots of water.

Don’t freak out about eating rice. Your supposed to be eating a varied diet including different types of grains anyway. So your intake of rice would be in moderation. You can also do what I do, buy American grown rice; arsenic levels are much lower. It looks like this is going to make the headlines yearly!

We have seen a lot of attempts to fight obesity through legislation in the USA. So far none of them have worked. People protested against them because they don’t want to be told what & how much to eat. Reading the following article has made me think that France may have found reasonable solutions.

France Is Banning Unlimited Soda Refills to Fight Obesity  TIME: Tara John, Jan 30, 2017

France has banned restaurants from offering unlimited refills of soda and sugary drinks, the latest bid to decrease the rise in the nation’s obesity rate. This is good & notice it didn’t limit the size of the drink you order.

The new order, implemented on Jan. 27, will mean that hotels, restaurants and school cafeterias will no longer have soda fountains. The move is part of a spate of health initiatives implemented by the country, which includes a “soda tax” imposed on sweetened drinks, a ban on vending machines in schools and a limit on the servings of french fries to once a week in schools, the New York Times reports. Personally, I like all of these rules for the schools, hotels & restaurants. Especially for the schools. Sugar makes you sleepy & irritable when the “high” leads to a crash. 

Even though France’s overall obesity rate is relatively low—41% of women and 57% of men between 30 to 60 were obese or overweight—the laws are in accordance with World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations. WHO presented statistics in 2016 on the good effects of imposing a sugar tax. If your interested in obesity rates in the USA, this link is very informative & up to date: Obesity Rates & Trends 

This is relatively new information from the University of Bath, UK, research study. Sugar’s “tipping point” link to Alzheimer’s disease revealed For the first time a “tipping point” molecular link between the blood sugar glucose and Alzheimer’s disease has been established by scientists, who have shown that excess glucose damages a vital enzyme involved with inflammation response to the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Abnormally high blood sugar levels, or hyperglycaemia, is well-known as a characteristic of diabetes and obesity, but its link to Alzheimer’s disease is less familiar.” This article is from the University of Bath & explains the study & it’s important findings. Another good reason to limit your added sugar intake.

What we eat is important. When and how often we eat is just as important. Here are 2 articles that explain what science has found.  What Science Says About Snacking and Breakfast  In a new Scientific Statement, experts from various committees of the American Heart Association say that paying attention to how often you eat, and at what time of the day you eat, can help to lower risk of heart attacks and stroke.

The panel reviewed all of the available studies on how often and when people eat. Based on what’s known so far, the panel, led by Marie-Pierre St-Onge, an associate professor of nutritional medicine at Columbia University, supports existing advice about the benefits of breakfast. That advice is based on studies that compare breakfast-eaters to non-eaters and their heart disease events. Breakfast-eaters tend to have lower rates of heart disease, and were also less likely to have high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. They also tended to have more normal blood sugar levels and sugar metabolism, meaning they were at lower risk of diabetes than those who didn’t eat breakfast. Still, the existing research isn’t strong enough yet to say that people who don’t normally eat breakfast should start—or that people who already do should expect to be heart-disease and diabetes-free for the rest of their lives. Eating breakfast does set the tone for the day. You begin with more energy that will last longer than if you had skipped the meal. 

Eating Breakfast — And Eating Mindfully — May Help The Heart  A new statement from the American Heart Association (AHA), looking back over past research, determines that the best advice is, in the end, probably to eat breakfast. But even larger than that, they suggest that we make sure to eat “mindfully,” rather than mindlessly. And this may be the first step in changing the bad eating habits that plague so many of us.

Included in this article is a list of what doctors should take into account. The AHA offers some more specific advice to doctors, which we can all take into account.

    • “Develop an intentional approach to eating,” the AHA suggests. Think about the timing and frequency of meals and snacks, and about how you define meals and snacks in the first place.
    • “Use planned meals and snacks,” spread out across the day. And, the authors add, “Link eating episodes to influence subsequent energy intake.” In other words, intentionally eat a healthy snack before a meal that could lead to an overeating episode, to reduce the odds that it does. Take a moment to think about this one. It is very good advice.
    • Try to distribute your calories over a certain portion of the day, for instance, between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. And the extension of this is to have consistent overnight fasting periods. Doing this counts as intermittent fasting.
    • Think about taking in a greater part of your total calories earlier in the day, which they say may reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
    • Think about including “intermittent fasting,” if you can, as a way to reduce calories and lose weight.
    • Use “added eating episodes to introduce a wider variety of healthful food options and to displace less healthful foods.” In other words, insert additional snacks or small meals—fruits and veggies and other healthy items—to leave less room for the other, unhealthier options we may be faced with. Portion control.

***If you have an interest…  Eight Must-Read Books on Mindful Eating  by Susan Albers Psy.D. My favorite is, Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life by Thich Nhat Hanh and Lilian Cheung

This news from NPR/89.3KPCC is very welcome. More benefits for taking a Vitamin D3 supplement.  A bit more vitamin D might help prevent colds and flu  “It’s long been known that vitamin D helps protect our bones, but the question of whether taking vitamin D supplements or helps guard immunity has been more controversial. An analysis published Wednesday suggests the sunshine vitamin can help reduce the risk of respiratory infections, including colds and flu — especially among people who don’t get enough of the vitamin from diet or exposure to sunlight.Certain groups of people are at higher risk of vitamin D deficiency,  including people with digestive disorders such as celiac disease and people who cover up most of their skin or get very little exposure to the sun. And pregnant and nursing women, as well as women with osteopenia or osteoporosis, often need more vitamin D to maintain bone health.

“People [at higher risk] should get tested,” Tello says. She says when a patient’s blood screening test shows levels of vitamin D, between 20 to 32 ng/ml, “I recommend that they take between 1,000 and 2,000 International Units of vitamin D daily, indefinitely.” The Institute of Medicine says that adults shouldn’t take more than 4,000 IU a day.” Cancer patients should be tested too. My recommendation has been that everyone should be taking vitamin D3, 2000 IU’s, daily. 

Our Dr. Zumba, Alessandra, sent me this post by Dr. Weil: Love Pasta? 5 Tips For Making It Healthier! Always good to end on a yummy, yet healthy note! “Quality carbohydrates are an essential part of a balanced, healthful diet. If pasta is your go-to carb, there are ways to take advantage of this low-cost food to make it even healthier:” Go to the link to see the entire list. My favorites are:

  • Cook pasta only until it is al dente (barely tender). When it is cooked this way, it achieves a lower glycemic index than fully cooked pasta because the pulverized grain comes apart slowly in the stomach. (Low-glycemic-load carbohydrates should be the bulk of your carbohydrate intake to help minimize rapid rises in blood glucose levels.)
  • Aim for two to three servings per week. One serving is equal to about 1/2 cup cooked pasta, which is far less than the amount Americans typically eat. Don’t you just love being told to eat pasta 🙂

Until next week….Mary 🙂

Cholesterol & Cholesterol Fighting Foods   CLICK ON PHOTO TO ENLARGE

Cholesterol is an interesting topic because it is so confusing! Or maybe I should say, complex. From all the research & studies done recently, we now know that the intake of cholesterol through diet minimally affects your cholesterol numbers. According to the research very little of it enters your circulating blood. That is why eggs & bacon are back, in moderation. 

Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is necessary in the human body for producing hormones, bile acids, & building cell walls. It is manufactured by your body, mainly by your liver, & circulates in your blood. Your body produces 75% of your cholesterol. This is the cholesterol that is measured in blood tests. 

First, lets look at what the cholesterol numbers on your test should look like. Then lets look at the foods that do affect your cholesterol numbers & last what foods will lower those numbers. 

According to Vishal Rao, M.D., M.P.H. and Erin Michos, M.D., M.H.S with John Hopkins University School of Medicine: “Ideally, total cholesterol should be less than 200 milligrams per deciliter. HDL cholesterol should be above 40 milligrams per deciliter for men and above 50 milligrams per deciliter for women. LDL cholesterol should be less than 100 milligrams per deciliter, and triglycerides ideally should be less than 150 milligrams per deciliter. Keep in mind that treatment goals can vary based on each individual. You should discuss your cholesterol levels with your physician.”

Here is an excerpt from the Dietary Guidelines 2015-2020: Do I still need to watch my cholesterol intake?  “While adequate evidence is not available for a quantitative limit for dietary cholesterol in the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines, cholesterol is still important to consider when building a healthy eating style. In fact, the Dietary Guidelines states that people should eat as little dietary cholesterol as possible.

In general, foods that are higher in dietary cholesterol, such as fatty meats and high-fat dairy products, are also higher in saturated fats (which should be limited to 10% of total calories per day). The primary healthy eating style described in the Dietary Guidelines is limited in saturated fats, and thus, dietary cholesterol (about 100-300 mg across the various calorie levels). It is the saturated fats & the trans-fats that raise your blood cholesterol. So, if you limit the saturated fats to 10% of your daily calories & eliminate the trans-fats you will lower your total cholesterol number.

Mayo Clinic 2016: The recommended daily limits on cholesterol in your food 

  • If you are healthy, consume no more than 300 mg of cholesterol a day.
  • If you have diabetes, high cholesterol or heart disease, limit the daily cholesterol intake to no more than 200 mg a day.

This is a very useful graph to help you understand where the cholesterol is in foods & the amount per serving.  From UCSF Medical Center: Cholesterol Content of Foods  If you have risk factors for heart disease, you should not consume more than 200 milligrams of cholesterol a day. If you do not have risk factors for heart disease, you should limit your cholesterol intake to no more than 300 milligrams a day. Note that this is the same recommendation from the Mayo Clinic.

Use the following tables to check the cholesterol and fat content of the foods you eat. This will help you keep track of your daily cholesterol intake.

Note: Cholesterol is only found in animal products. Fruits, vegetables, grains and all other plant foods do not have any cholesterol at all.

Dairy Products Portion Cholesterol (mg) Total Fat (g) Saturated Fat (g)
Milk (non-fat) 1 cup 4 0 0
Milk (low-fat) 1 cup 10 3 2
Milk (whole) 1 cup 33 8 5
Yogurt (non-fat) 1 cup 10 0 0
Yogurt (whole) 1 cup 29 7 5
Cheddar Cheese 1 oz 30 9 6
Cottage Cheese (low-fat) 1 cup 10 2 2


Fats Portion Cholesterol (mg) Total Fat (g) Saturated Fat (g)
Butter 1 tsp 11 4 3
Margarine 1 tsp 0 4 1
Vegetable Oils                   1 tsp 0 5 1 – 2


Meats & Protein Portion Cholesterol (mg) Total Fat (g) Saturated Fat (g)
Tofu 1/2 cup 0 11 2
Pinto beans 1/2 cup 0 1 0
Egg *** 1 212 5 2
Halibut 3 ½ oz 41 3 0
Salmon 3 ½ oz 63 12 2
Oysters 3 ½ oz 55 2 1
Crab 3 ½ oz 52 1 0
Lobster 3 ½ oz 71 1 0
Tuna (in water) 3 ½ oz 30 1 0
Shrimp 3 ½ oz 194 1 0
Squid 3 ½ oz 231 1 0
Beef (ground, lean)          3 ½ oz 78 18 7
Beef (short ribs) 3 ½ oz 94 42 18
Beef (sirloin) 3 ½ oz 89 12 5
Beef Liver 3 ½ oz 389 5 2
Veal (top round) 3 ½ oz 135 5 2
Lamb (foreshank) 3 ½ oz 106 14 6
Ham 3 ½ oz 53 6 2
Pork (tenderloin) 3 ½ oz 79 6 2
Pork (chop) 3 ½ oz 85 25 10
Chicken Liver 3 ½ oz 631 6 2
Chicken (no skin) 3 ½ oz 85 5 1

***Cholesterol is in the egg yolk. Egg white is just protein, no cholesterol. 

What foods lower blood cholesterol & why? Harvard Health Publications from its Medical School: 11 Foods That Lower Cholesterol Different foods lower cholesterol in various ways. Some deliver soluble fiber, which binds cholesterol and its precursors in the digestive system and drags them out of the body before they get into circulation. Some give you polyunsaturated fats, which directly lower LDL. And some contain plant sterols and stanols, which block the body from absorbing cholesterol.”

1. Oats. An easy first step to improving your cholesterol is having a bowl of oatmeal or cold oat-based cereal like Cheerios for breakfast. It gives you 1 to 2 grams of soluble fiber. Add a banana or some strawberries for another half-gram. Current nutrition guidelines recommend getting 20 to 35 grams of fiber a day, with at least 5 to 10 grams coming from soluble fiber. (The average American gets about half that amount.) Original Cheerios contain 3 grams of fiber & 1 gram of sugar per 1 cup serving. There are other high fiber, low sugar cereals on the market. Check the labels!

2. Barley and other whole grains. Like oats and oat bran, barley and other whole grains can help lower the risk of heart disease, mainly via the soluble fiber they deliver. Whole grains!

3. Beans. Beans are especially rich in soluble fiber. They also take awhile for the body to digest, meaning you feel full for longer after a meal. That’s one reason beans are a useful food for folks trying to lose weight. With so many choices — from navy and kidney beans to lentils, garbanzos, black-eyed peas, and beyond — and so many ways to prepare them, beans are a very versatile food. My favorite right now is the 13 Bean mixture. You get a bit of every bean.

4. Eggplant and okra. These two low-calorie vegetables are good sources of soluble fiber. Roasted eggplant last night. Can’t get enough. Okra is quite good if you prepare it correctly. Give it a try.

5. Nuts. A bushel of studies shows that eating almonds, walnuts, peanuts, and other nuts is good for the heart. Eating 2 ounces of nuts a day can slightly lower LDL, on the order of 5%. Nuts have additional nutrients that protect the heart in other ways. Hand full not a can full.

6. Vegetable oils. Using liquid vegetable oils such as canola, sunflower, safflower, and others in place of butter, lard, or shortening when cooking or at the table helps lower LDL. Olive oil is the best choice. Coconut oil has 12 grams of saturated fat. Use it in moderation.

7. Apples, grapes, strawberries, citrus fruits. These fruits are rich in pectin, a type of soluble fiber that lowers LDL.

8. Foods fortified with sterols and stanols. Sterols and stanols extracted from plants gum up the body’s ability to absorb cholesterol from food. Companies are adding them to foods ranging from margarine and granola bars to orange juice and chocolate. They’re also available as supplements. Getting 2 grams of plant sterols or stanols a day can lower LDL cholesterol by about 10%. I would check the label if you decide to eat margarine, granola bars, orange juice & chocolate. Look at the sugar, saturated fats & trans-fats on the nutrition facts. Also check the ingredient list!

9. Soy. Eating soybeans and foods made from them, like tofu and soy milk, was once touted as a powerful way to lower cholesterol. Analyses show that the effect is more modest — consuming 25 grams of soy protein a day (10 ounces of tofu or 2 1/2 cups of soy milk) can lower LDL by 5% to 6%.

10. Fatty fish. Eating fish two or three times a week can lower LDL in two ways: by replacing meat, which has LDL-boosting saturated fats, and by delivering LDL-lowering omega-3 fats. Omega-3s reduce triglycerides in the bloodstream and also protect the heart by helping prevent the onset of abnormal heart rhythms.

11. Fiber supplements. Supplements offer the least appealing way to get soluble fiber. Two teaspoons a day of psyllium, which is found in Metamucil and other bulk-forming laxatives, provide about 4 grams of soluble fiber. Rarely a good choice. Better to eat the foods high in fiber.

Eating Well’s article, 10 Foods That Lower Cholesterol  included the following in their list…

  • Cholesterol & Avocado: Who doesn’t love avocados? They not only taste amazing but also can help lower your cholesterol. Avocados are high in healthy monounsaturated fat, which helps lower “bad” LDL cholesterol. They also contain fiber, antioxidants and phytosterols, such as beta-sitosterol, which have also been shown to lower cholesterol. Don’t hog the entire bowl of guacamole, though! One serving is just a quarter of a Hass avocado, which delivers 57 calories. Spread a few slices of avocado on your sandwich instead of mayo, or dip some veggies into a bowl of fresh guacamole.
  • Cholesterol & Dark Chocolate: Chocolate fans rejoice! You might have heard that chocolate is good for you, and it’s true. Dark chocolate and cocoa powder contain powerful antioxidant compounds called flavonoids, which help lower cholesterol. Milk chocolate has less cocoa solids, and thus lower flavonoid levels, and white chocolate is even lower in the good stuff. Reach for small portions of dark chocolate, preferably with a high cocoa content. Or try a sprinkle of cocoa powder in your smoothie or on yogurt to reap chocolate’s cholesterol-lowering benefits. 70% or higher is recommended.
  • Cholesterol & Kimchi: Kimchi, a Korean fermented side dish commonly made from cabbage, radish or cucumber, is quickly gaining a following for its many health benefits. Kimchi is high in fiber and—because it’s fermented—is loaded with good bacteria that help keep your gut healthy. Kimchi contains bioactive compounds that lower cholesterol by blocking cholesterol from being absorbed into the bloodstream. The good bacteria produced during fermentation also help lower cholesterol. Kimchi and sauerkraut are usually pretty high in sodium, so watch your portions if you’re watching your salt intake.
  • Cholesterol & Garlic: Garlic packs a serious health punch. Some people love the flavor and others have been using it as a kitchen cure to boost immunity and promote heart health for years. Recent research has backed garlic’s health benefits, especially for your heart. Garlic, along with garlic extract, has been shown to lower cholesterol, possibly by preventing cholesterol from being made in the liver. Plus, eating garlic may also help lower blood pressure. Give your heart a boost and add garlic to your sauces, salad dressings and stir-fries.

WebMD has a good article: Your Heart-Healthy Grocery Shopping List It is a printable list of all the heart healthy & cholesterol lowering foods to stock in your pantry. Healthy eating starts with having the right heart-healthy foods in your kitchen. They help lower cholesterol and keep your blood pressure in check. If you aren’t sure which foods to buy, print this list to take to the supermarket.

This link is to Mayo Clinic’s, High Cholesterol: Self Management Well worth the read. It lists “lifestyle & home remedies”. 

I like the information in this article by Dr. Mercola: Cholesterol Myths You Need to Stop Believing I am not a Mercola fan, but he does write factual articles about health topics. When you read this article be sure to read the section, ‘How to Protect Your Heart Health’. It has very good tips.

If you are interested in statistics then this is the site for you. CDC, Center for Disease Control & Prevention: Cholesterol Fact Sheet. The other page on the CDC website you may enjoy is: CDC: High Cholesterol Facts   This page has more facts about the state of our cholesterol health in the USA.

I trust that this has cleared up the confusion surrounding cholesterol. The focus now should be on incorporating cholesterol lowering foods into your diet. If you are following a vegetarian, vegan, or the Mediterranean or DASH diets, you already do. 

Until next week…Mary 🙂


DIY Beauty Products



Last week our post was about making our own cleaning supplies. This week I want to look at beauty products. As with the cleaners, you can either make your own or you can buy organic or green products.  Why the concern?

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration, FDA, states on their website: The FD&C Act defines cosmetics by their intended use, as “articles intended to be rubbed, poured, sprinkled, or sprayed on, introduced into, or otherwise applied to the human body…for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance” (FD&C Act, sec. 201(i)). If the product is used therapeutically then it comes under the same regulations as supplements. 

FDA-regulated does not mean FDA-approved. FDA does not have the legal authority to approve cosmetics before they go on the market, although we do approve color additives used in them (except coal tar hair dyes). Most hair dyes now use petroleum. Prolonged use of coal tar, used in beauty products, has been linked to bladder cancer.

However, under the law, cosmetics must not be “adulterated” or “misbranded.” For example, they must be safe for consumers when used according to directions on the label, or in the customary or expected way, and they must be properly labeled. Companies and individuals who market cosmetics have a legal responsibility for the safety and labeling of their products. The FDA does not review these products, they rely on the integrity of the company. FDA can take action against a cosmetic on the market if we have reliable information showing that it is adulterated or misbranded. FDA takes action within our legal authority, based on public health priorities and available resources.” As with supplements, they will take action if consumers have complained to the FDA about a product. If there is an outbreak of side affects the Department of Public Health will take action & report it to the FDA.

It is left to the consumer to decide what is safe & what is not. Once again this shows how we need to be our own healthcare advocates.

The best website for information regarding your products is… Ta-da!!… Skin Deep  🙂 You can check the safety of your favorite beauty product by typing in the brand or name of the product in the search box. The site has 64,482 products in its data base. For example: Dr. Bronner’s 18-in-1 Hemp Pure-Castile Soap, Peppermint get’s a 1 on all but one ingredient, hemp oil, which gets a 2. The best score possible is a 1. I also use Dr. Bronner’s tooth paste. Dr. Bronner’s Anise All-One Toothpaste scores a solid 1 on all but 2 ingredients: citric acid & glycerin which score a 2. 

Another way to use this site is to look at the top banner & click on the type of product you are interested in: Sun, Makeup, Skin, Hair & then click on the product in the drop down menu. If you clicked on Makeup/Concealer, then a list will come up of all the products that are ‘EWG Verified’ & it’s score. If you decide you want to look at it in more detail then click on the one you are interested in to get a list of ingredients & their scores. Here is an example.

 Rejuva Minerals Concealer, Golden Sand is the first one on the list.  EWG scientists reviewed Rejuva Minerals Concealer, Golden Sand for safety according to the methodology outlined in our Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. We assess the ingredients listed on the labels of personal care products based on data in toxicity and regulatory databases, government and health agency assessments and the open scientific literature. EWG’s rating for Rejuva Minerals Concealer, Golden Sand is 1. It then rates it & lists the ingredients. On the left of this page you can choose additional information you may be interested in: 

Data last updated: January 2016

Use this page when you have concerns about a product or are just curious. My recommendation is to read the information about the product you want to use & then make a decision based on your needs & the information. Maybe a 3 or even a 4 score on your product would be adequate for you. Informed decisions are the best decisions.

EWG: Guide to Sun Screens has it’s own page. The new 2017 guide will be available in the Spring. The page not only has information about the best sunscreens, it also has tips to avoid using them at all. 

At the bottom of the page is a place to download the sunscreen app for your phone. They have both Android & Apple. 

I don’t use makeup but I do use a face cream, shampoo, hair rinse, toothpaste & a hair cream. Some I buy & some I make. You have probably noticed that my favorite brand for beauty products is Dr. Bronner’s. I started using this brand in the 60’s & continue to this day. 

We use Dr. Bronner’s castile soap in the liquid form & the bar as a body wash. My husband uses the bar for his shampoo. We also use Dr. Bronner’s toothpaste, and face cream. I make our hair rinse & a hair cream for my husband. Here are my recipes.

My Hair Rinse This rinse makes my long hair soft & easy to brush out. We haven’t noticed our grey hair getting darker though. 🙂 I sometimes add lemon balm &/or chamomile.

Bring 4 cups of water to boil: pour over the following fresh or dried herbs.

  • Rosemary…10-15 sprigs ~Rosemary stimulates hair growth & will darken grey hair. 
  • Garden Sage…10-12 leaves ~Sage is used for hair loss, makes your hair shiny & will darken grey hair. 
  • Thyme…10-12 sprigs ~Thyme is great for dandruff & hair loss.

All three provide nutrients for your hair. Steep for 30 minutes; strain & allow to cool. Pour onto hair, just enough to rub it into hair & scalp. Leave it on your hair, do not rinse out. Towel dry. 

Homemade Hair Cream Recipe: A little bit of this cream goes a long way, so start with a very small amount when first using it. Dip clean fingers into cream, rub a small amount into your hands, and apply to hair that is only slightly damp or completely dry. (I have not had good results when using it on wet or very damp hair.) Don’t let this recipe intimidate you. It is actually very simple to make. It lasts a long time too. Once you have the ingredients on hand, you can make it whenever needed. You only need about an 1/8th of a teaspoon to rub into your hair. If your hair feels greasy, you used too much.

Ingredients: makes about 2 ounces or ¼ cup of cream

  • 2 Tablespoons shea butter 
  • ½ Tablespoon coconut oil 
  • ½ Tablespoon olive oil
  • ¾ teaspoon jojoba oil 
  • ¾ teaspoon sweet almond oil Buy this oil in the grocery area & it will be less expensive. I also use it when making medicinal salves.
  • ½ Tablespoon pure aloe vera gel Read the label to get 100% pure aloe vera. I buy it in the bulk section of an herb store.
  • ⅛ teaspoon Vitamin E oil Squeeze it out of your capsules if you have them.
  • 15-20 drops of essential oils – Use 6 drops rosemary, 5 drops chamomile, 5 drops bergamot. I used pine essential oil instead of bergamot. You could also use Lavendar.  


  1. Combine shea butter and coconut oil in a glass measuring cup or half-pint mason jar. Melt in microwave for a few seconds, or use a makeshift double boiler (fill small saucepan with about 1-2 inches of water and set glass container inside, heating on low just until melted).
  2. Add remaining ingredients and stir well to mix. Transfer to a small, shallow tin with a lid. I use a 2 ounce glass container. Buy two so you can make more before you run out.
  3. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight until mixture is cooled and set up. Remove from refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature before using.
  4. Store at room temperature (for a nice, creamy consistency) and use within a month. Refrigerate any amount you can’t use within that time.

Homemade Hair Rinse from Mother Earth Living: This is like the rinse my mother used on our hair. This is a good one to use once a month to clean the shampoo & conditioner residue from your hair.

• 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves or 1 tablespoon dried
• 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
• 1 cup boiling water

1. Combine mint and vinegar in a medium bowl, then pour boiling water over the mixture. Allow it to cool completely; strain out leaves. 

2. To use: Pour entire mixture over your scalp after shampooing and massage well. Let sit a few minutes, then rinse with tepid water. Makes 12 ounces.

Hair Rinse Variations

■ Power Boost: Add 1 teaspoon baking soda to your mixture to remove residues left behind from styling products.

■ Go Blond: Replace mint leaves with 1/2 cup chamomile tea for subtle blond highlights.

■ Darker Tresses: For darker highlights, replace mint leaves with equal amounts fresh or dried sage leaves. Over time, this rinse can even darken gray hairs.

8 Herbal Hair Rinse Recipes from Mother Earth Living“Natural hair rinses are as simple to create as making your favorite cup of tea.  In fact, several of the ingredients, such as dried herbs and flowers, can be found in the tea aisle of your local grocery store. You can also use fresh or dried herbs from your garden for year-round healthy tresses. Here are some simple hair rinse recipes for you to create at home—enjoy! “

I am not including a homemade shampoo in this post because I haven’t found one that actually works. I do like the castile soap by Dr. Bronner’s, but it makes my long hair sticky. I prefer to buy my shampoo. If you make your own & love it, please let me know so we can share the recipe 🙂

This site is one of my favorites for homemade beauty products: Miss Wish: 60 Beauty Products You Should Make Yourself and Stop Buying  It even has a Coffee Mud Mask!

Coffee Mud Mask Recipe: 
4 tbsps. bentonite clay Click here for information re: Bentonite Clay 
2 tbsps. coffee grounds
2- 5 tbsps. apple cider vinegar (can be substituted for water)
Recipe Directions: In a small bowl add clay, coffee grounds and mix until incorporated, add 1-2 tbsps. apple cider vinegar to mixture and mix, if the mixture is too thick add more vinegar until it thins out. Smear over face in a circular motion and let it set for 5-10 minutes or until the mask hardens. Rinse mud from face and add a light layer of lotion to face, to prevent drying.

Here is another example from this site.

  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup grapeseed oil You find this with Olive, Avocado, & Almond oils in the grocery section. It is not an essential oil.
  • 2 chamomile tea bags
  • Add the cup of oats to a food processor. Grind until the oats are broken up into dust (or very small pieces).
  • Transfer oats to a bowl and add coconut oil, grapeseed oil, and the contents of the two tea bags. Stir well until mixed. (If your coconut oil is too solid to measure, run the jar under some hot water or heat up in the microwave to make it easier.) Put the coconut oil into a small heat proof bowl & set in a pan of hot water to soften it.
  • To use the scrub, apply at the very end of your shower. You’ll want to get out right after so that you don’t rinse away all of the moisturizing oils.
  • Stir your scrub before using. Scoop out a small handful and rub all over clean skin. Rinse with warm water, using a washcloth if you prefer. Careful in the tub- it will likely get slippery!
  • Apply a lotion or body oil once you’ve towel-dried for maximum moisture.

Live Simply is full of easy DIY beauty products. I especially like this page on her site: MY MUST-HAVE INGREDIENTS FOR NATURAL BODY-CARE If you’re familiar with Live Simply, then you’re probably aware of the fact that I keep my body-care ingredients fairly simple. I also try to reuse ingredients in multiple ways when possible. It’s oftentimes hard to see the full story when you’re just reading a recipe or two. It’s hard to see how a few basic ingredients overlap to create multiple products. That’s why I’ve compiled today’s ingredient list: to offer an all-in-one-place round-up of the ingredients that I use in multiple body-care recipes here on Live Simply

Mountain Rose Herbs is my favorite source to buy organic herbs. There are some that I can’t grow here & some that are obscure. This is a reliable company.

Look under Resources below for other sites that have DIY beauty products.

Here are but a few simple choices for skin care. 

  • Aloe Vera Gel: Make sure you check the label to get 100% Aloe Vera. This simple plant can be used for skin problems, sunburn, radiation burns, & it will make your complexion clear while reducing inflammation. Rub it on your face nightly.
  • Calendula cream/gel: This humble flower, the marigold, has healing properties for wounds, sunburns, radiation burns & insect bites. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties it will smooth & soften your skin. Calendula can be used safely on open wounds.
  • Avocado: Avocado has been a popular facial treatment for a long time. Evidence shows that eating it gives you a healthy, clear, complexion! Tastier way to use them.
  • Shea Butter: Shea butter is a natural moisturizer. It is a better choice than coco butter because it doesn’t clog the pores. This makes it a good choice for acne. Shea is also used to treat psoriasis & eczema.
  • Coconut Oil: Use a tiny amount for a lip balm, skin softener, as a moisturizer, and for those cracked feet during the summer. 

For those of you interested in dental products that you can make at home:

Learning Herbs: Holistic Dental Health and Homemade Mouthwash   This site has helpful hints on holistic preventative care for your teeth as well as a homemade mouthwash. 

Natural Dental Care for Healthy Teeth “Keep chemicals off our pearly whites with these natural dental care tips. Take a look at their tips for dental care. Here are some of their recipes.

Mint Toothpaste Recipe

2 tablespoons baking soda
1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon vegetable glycerin
20 drops peppermint essential oil

1. Mix all ingredients and store in an airtight container.
—Laurel Vukovic  

Natural Tooth Whitener

1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon 3% hydrogen peroxide

1. Mix ingredients together.
2. Dip toothbrush in mixture and brush for 3 minutes, then rinse thoroughly. Follow with toothpaste.
—Laurel Vukovic

Note: Some people’s gums may be sensitive to hydrogen peroxide. Attempt to keep solution off gums as much as possible.

Natural Mouthwash Recipe

3⁄4 cup water
1⁄4 cup vodka
2 droppersful calendula tincture
2 droppersful goldenseal tincture
1 dropperful myrrh tincture
1 to 2 drops peppermint essential oil

1. Combine all ingredients and shake well.
2. Dilute 3 tablespoons of the rinse in 1⁄2 ounce water, and use as a mouthwash.
—Rosemary Gladstar

I have had emails in the past concerned about endocrine disruptors in nail polish. The most comprehensive information that I have found is on the EWG website 🙂 Nailed It’s not surprising that many nail polishes contain potentially toxic chemicals. Now a study conducted by researchers at Duke University and EWG finds that at least one of those chemicals could be ending up in your body.

Triphenyl phosphate, or TPHP, a suspected endocrine-disrupting chemical, is commonly used to make plastics and as a fire retardant in foam furniture. And if you wear nail polish, it could be in your body too. This site lists the brands that have TPHP in their nail polish. Click here for EWG’s full report.

This is a good start in building up your homemade beauty products. Enjoy the process! Until next week…Mary 🙂


DIY Natural Cleaners



Spring cleaning is right around the corner. We are going to put nutrition aside this week to answer an email from our NUT, Beth. She asked me about making our own cleaning products, thus eliminating those toxic ingredients. I like this question because it is relatively easy to do with natural ingredients that you already have & are easy to find. 

If you prefer to buy your cleaning products but want them without all the toxic ingredients then EWG is the website for you.

The Environmental Working Group has always been my go-to for information regarding toxic ingredients in anything I use or consume. The labels on cleaning products are very confusing & difficult to decode. EWG has done that for us. Instead of looking through the ingredients list for anything “bad”, it is far better to understand what they are claiming. EWG’s Guide to Heallthy Cleaning: “Decoding the labels: Confused by the labels on cleaning products? EWG helps you sort facts from hype.”

For example:  “Active ingredients” in cleaning products are usually antimicrobial pesticides added to kill bacteria, viruses or molds. Avoid them – they’re hazardous chemicals, and you rarely need them to get your house clean.

Another example. We think of essential oils as being a natural, safe product. “Essential oils are plant extracts that emit distinct, often appealing scents. Some contain naturally occurring chemicals that can irritate skin, trigger allergic reactions or cause other toxic effects. Don’t assume that essential oils are safe simply because they come from plants. Approach them with the same safety questions you bring to other ingredients or products. When trying a new product containing an essential oil, always use a small amount at first to see if you have an allergic reaction. Never apply pure essential oils directly to your skin. Avoid using products that are old or that have been exposed to light, because some essential oils react with air and sunlight to produce new and sometimes more hazardous chemicals.”

On this same page is a search box for 2,500 products. You can type in a cleaning product & see how it is rated. Typing in Planet, a company that makes laundry detergent & dish soap you see that it gets a B. It goes on to tell you why it got a B. Dr. Bronner’s products get an A. Purex gets B’s & C’s. Try it out on some of the brands you use.

If you would like a list of products & their grades rather than looking them up one at a time go to this linkEWG’s Guide to Heallthy CleaningAt the top left is a Green Banner that says EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning. It is a drop down menu. Click on the cleaner you are interested in & you will get a list, with their grades, beginning with the highest rated products.

Most of my cleaning supplies I have made. Some, detergent & dish soap, I buy. When I make them myself, I like simple & fast. White Vinegar, Baking Soda, Borax & salt have been used for cleaning for generations. You can buy them in large containers at drug stores & markets. Here are some of my favorites recipes.

Oven/Pot/Pan cleaner: Make a paste with baking soda & water. Apply it to gunky area liberally. Sprinkle white vinegar onto the paste. It will foam. Allow it to sit for 30 minutes. Wipe & you have a clean oven or pan. You can add salt to the paste & skip the vinegar. Let it sit 30 minutes, then scrub. Works well.

All purpose cleaner: 2-3 tablespoons of white vinegar to 1 quart of water in a spray bottle. I use this to clean counters, floors, stove tops, cupboards, doors & walls. It can also be used on carpet, but test it first in case it bleaches out the color. Here in the Pacific Northwest, mold & mildew is a problem. We now have a dehumidifier which has limited the mold & mildew in the house. That combined with using this spray, I no longer have a problem.

Window cleaner: 2 tablespoons of white vinegar to 1 quart of water in a spray bottle. Bright & shiny windows.

Bathroom tiles: 2 tablespoons of white vinegar to 1 quart of water. Spray onto tiles & shower curtain to get rid of mildew. You can use this to clean the tiles as a preventative measure all year.

Keep your drains clog free: Place 1/4-1/2 cup of baking soda into your drain. Follow this with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of white vinegar. It will foam up. Let it sit for 15 minutes. Then clear the drain with 2-3 cups boiling water. If you do this once a month you won’t get that buildup around the pipes. Great preventative method. I have also used this to unclog drains. 

This is my favorite reference for ingredients & recipes. They also have a printable version at this link… A Green Clean: Homemade Cleaners to Detox Your Home from Mother Earth Living, by Kim Erickson
July/August 2009

Baking Soda: A truly multitasking cleaner, baking soda is a perfect substitute for cleaning powders that scour sinks and tubs without scratching. It’s also great for wiping down and deodorizing the fridge. Combined with an equal amount of vinegar, baking soda can freshen drains and prevent them from clogging. The overflow hole in our bathroom sink in Encinitas was emitting a horrible odor a few years ago. I used the Baking Soda & Vinegar in the hole then rinsed it. Odor was gone!

Borax: Combining equal amounts of white vinegar and borax will banish mold and mildew from hard surfaces. This natural mineral can also clean your toilet. Pour 1 cup of borax into the toilet bowl and let it sit for a few hours before scrubbing to eliminate stains and odor.

Distilled White Vinegar: This pantry staple cuts grease, eats away lime deposits and destroys odors. Because of its neutralizing properties, white vinegar is also good for washing windows, sanitizing kitchen counters and shining bathroom fixtures. Simply dilute 1 part vinegar in 4 parts water. A natural antibacterial because of its high acid content, vinegar is an effective alternative to caustic cleaners on toilets and floors.

Hydrogen Peroxide: Typically found in the medicine cabinet, this disinfectant can also be used as an effective bleach alternative in the laundry room. Because it’s also a powerful oxidizing agent, it works especially well on food, soil, plant, blood and other organic stains. Just make sure to spot test in a discreet area because, like bleach, hydrogen peroxide may lighten fabrics. For each average-size load of whites, add 8 ounces of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide after you have filled the washer with hot water.

Salt: Perfect for cleaning grungy ovens, this natural abrasive is also great for soaking up fresh carpet stains such as red wine, coffee or ink. Pour salt on the wet stain. Let dry, then vacuum. I always forget to use salt on carpet stains. I have a stain right now that I will try it on 🙂

Vegetable Oil (Castile) Soap: This natural soap is great for floors and all-purpose cleaning when combined with vinegar, borax or even warm water. For an all-purpose cleaner, add 1⁄2 teaspoon of soap to either 2 cups of water or to the “All-Purpose Cleaner and Disinfectant” recipe below. For floors, combine 2 teaspoons of soap with 3 gallons of water. Make sure to rinse well to remove any dulling residue. Dr. Bronners is a castile soap.

Washing Soda: This old-fashioned laundry booster cuts through tough grease on grills, broiler pans and ovens. Because washing soda is a strong alkaline, it’s perfect for tackling dirty linoleum floors. But because it’s caustic and strong enough to strip wax and peel paint, wear gloves when using—and use sparingly. Adding just 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 teaspoon of washing soda to 32 ounces of hot water will tackle the toughest grease. Washing soda is soda ash. It is not edible. EWG gives it an A. It is very caustic, wear gloves when using. It can be purchased at most grocery & big box stores. Look in the laundry detergent aisle. Arm & Hammer makes one & it gets an A from EWG.

Lemons: Lemon’s citric acid content cuts stubborn grease and makes your home smell fresh. Lemon juice is also a natural bleach, especially when combined with the sun. Freshen cutting boards by rubbing a cut lemon over the surface. This is especially effective for banishing fish odors. Undiluted lemon juice can also be used to dissolve soap scum and hard water deposits. It works on both plastic & wooden cutting boards. If you have been cutting up garlic, add salt to the lemon & scrub the board. You can also use salt & lemon to wash the garlic smell from your hands. As teenagers, my younger brother & I surfed, not very well, but we did try. He had light brown hair & wanted it blond. I poured grapefruit & lemon juice on his head & he laid out in the sun for hours. Presto! Blond sticky hair! 🙂

Homemade Cleaners: You can use your essential oils with these! They not only make them smell fresh, they are also anti-viral & anti-bacterial.

All-purpose cleaner and disinfectant:  Just as effective as popular antibacterial cleansers, this formula is perfect for kitchen and bathroom surfaces.
2 cups hot water
¼ cup white vinegar
½ teaspoon washing soda (similar to, but more caustic than, baking soda)
15 drops tea tree essential oil
15 drops lavender essential oil

Combine all ingredients in a reusable spray bottle and shake well. To use, spray on surfaces, especially cutting boards, countertops and toilets. Wipe with a dry cloth.

Lemongrass dust cloths: Whether you’re using microfiber cloths or old cloth diapers, these do-it-yourself dusters offer the convenience of disposable furniture wipes without the guilt of contributing to the landfill. Make several dustcloths at a time.
1 cup water
1 cup white vinegar
¼ teaspoon lemongrass essential oil
Dustcloths or rags
Freshly cut lemon peel

Combine water, vinegar and essential oil in large bowl. Soak dustcloths in the solution for 30 minutes. Squeeze out cloths, leaving them slightly damp. Lay cloths flat and place a couple pieces of lemon peel on each one. Fold each cloth in half or thirds and roll up. Place each cloth in a glass jar along with an extra piece of lemon peel. Cap tightly with a screw lid. To use, unfold cloth and discard peel. Dust as usual. Launder dustcloths when dirty and infuse again with essential oil and lemon peel.

Creamy nonabrasive cleaner:  Perfect for acrylic and fiberglass surfaces, this smooth cleanser won’t scratch tubs, stovetops or laminate countertops.
¼  cup borax 
Vegetable oil-based liquid soap (also known as castile soap)
½  teaspoon lemon essential oil

In a small bowl, combine borax with just enough liquid soap to create a thick paste. Add essential oil and blend well. To use, scoop a small amount of cleaner onto a damp sponge. Scrub surface and rinse wel

Pre-vacuum carpet freshener:  This fragrant odor eliminator will leave your home smelling fresh without posing a danger to pets or children.

1 cup dried lavender flowers
2 cups baking soda
10 drops lavender essential oil
10 drops rose geranium essential oil

Crush lavender flowers and mix with baking soda, breaking up any clumps. Add essential oils and blend well. To use, sprinkle on carpets. Wait 30 minutes, then vacuum as usual. Store leftovers in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Sometimes I just strew dried lavender onto the carpet & leave it there until the next time I vacuum. Smells lovely. I also hang a muslin bag full of dried lavender & dried lemon grass from the door knobs. Wonderful room freshener. 

If you enjoy working with essential oils or just like aromatherapy, here is an article about how to use them in natural cleaning. 

Natural Cleaning Recipes with Essential Oils  Use these easy natural cleaning recipes for a home that’s free of germs, grime and toxic chemicals.” Here is an example: 

Herbal Disinfectant:  A super disinfectant formula that’s incredibly easy to make

2 cups hot water
10 drops thyme essential oil: a natural disinfectant.
1/4 cup washing soda

Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle and shake well. Spray on surfaces and wipe clean with a damp cloth or sponge.

Now you are ready for spring cleaning without the worry of toxins. For even more information, explore the links below under Resources.

I would like to end with a recipe for Hand Sanitizer that I found on Live Simply: DIY  I keep a bottle in the car & a small spray bottle of it in my backpack. 

DIY Hand Sanitizer by Live Simply 


  • 3 TB aloe vera Get pure aloe vera. Check the labels!
  • 2 TB witch hazel or rubbing alcohol, if using alcohol reduce to 1 TB We only use witch hazel in our house. It is a great wound cleaner.
  • 1/2 tsp vitamin E oil You can get this in a small bottle or you can open capsules if you have them.
  • 16 drops tea tree essential oil
  • 8 drops lavender essential oil


  1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. To use the hand sanitizer store in a small jar or a squeeze tube. I also use these tubes for homemade toothpaste. Note: This recipe will make 2 fl oz (one tube.)

Beth also asked about making her own beauty products. That will be next weeks topic. Until then…Mary 🙂



We haven’t discussed cheese before. Probably because it is dairy & we have labeled all dairy as “evil”. Last year this changed with the new dietary guidelines for fat. Fat Updateour post from last June, addresses these guidelines. The bottom line is that fat is a necessary, healthy part of your diet. This, for most people, includes cheese.

Old ways Mediterranian pyramid



Take a look at the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid. Cheese is near the top. “Moderate portions daily or weekly”. A serving of cheese varies depending on the type of cheese. Generally it is 1 1/2 ounces of natural cheese. Hard cheese, like cheddar would be the size & shape of four die. 



I found the above chart from FoodandHealth.comunications  It gives you a snapshot of the nutritional values of common cheeses. I think having individually packed string cheese on hand for a protein snack, 8 grams, is a good idea. They are portable too 🙂

The Health Benefits of Cheese: Berkeley Wellness  : Bottom line: Cheese can be part of a healthy diet when eaten in moderation—an ounce or two a day is reasonable, but watch out for the calories. Like all dairy foods, cheese provides calcium and protein, along with some vitamin A, vitamin B12, riboflavin, zinc, and other nutrients. A downside is that most cheeses are high in sodium (100 to 300 milligrams or more per ounce). But compare nutrition labels, since products vary a lot in sodium, calories, and calcium, depending on the type and serving size. Low-sodium versions are available (though less tasty). Strong and savory cheeses have more flavor so you can use less. A cheese slicer will allow you to cut very fine slices to make a little go a longer way.” 

Cheese is like any other food item, you need to read the label! “Real”, or “natural cheese” is healthy. “Processed cheese” is not. Velveeta is an example of processed cheese. When I was growing up, my only contact with Velveeta cheese was when my grandfather bought it for fish bait; it was always in his tackle box. I had no idea, until I lived in Georgia, & Kentucky, that people ate it! 🙂  American cheese is another processed cheese. Go for “real” or “natural” cheese.

Another good article about Cheese is from Dr. Mercola’s site. Full-Fat Cheese Has Many Health Benefits, Including Weight Loss: Cheese has long been demonized for its saturated fat content, but as the saturated fat myth has come under increasing scrutiny, this food may soon experience a revival as well. Note that in this article he talks about sugar, & trans-fats being the culprit, not saturated fat.




Cheese is like fine wine, fine chocolates or gourmet coffee! You enjoy it in moderation. A pizza place near us serves macaroni & cheese as the topping for one of their pizzas. We tried it. Heart attack waiting to happen! Never again! is an awesome site. It lists 1,750 different kinds of cheese from 74 countries! You can look up cheese by name, type, country, milk, texture & color! My all-time favorite is Gorgonzola: “Gorgonzola is one of the world’s oldest blue-veined cheeses. The Cheese is mainly produced in the northern Italian regions of Piedmont and Lombardy, Gorgonzola. Unskimmed cow’s milk is used while preparing the cheese. Generally it takes three to four months to attain full ripeness.” I love it no matter how it is served! The strong flavor means I use only a small amount….hmmm 🙂

This site also has a list of Vegetarian Cheese. Cheese can be made with or without animal rennet. It is used to curdle the milk to form cheese. You can also find cheese that is made from plant based rennet. Read the labels! Some bacteria that is used for vegetarian cheese is GMO. Choosing organic vegetarian cheese will eliminate that problem. I thought the process to make soft cheese also made it a vegetarian choice. Not true. This site really helps.

What about Vegans?  One Green Planet has recipes for you to make your own cheese: These 25 Vegan Cheeses Will Make You Quit Dairy Forever as does 12 Vegan Cheese Recipes That Will Change Your Life . They both have wonderful recipes but they are time consuming. The Easy Garlic & Herb Vegan Cheese  takes 25 hours!

One Green Planet also has an article about vegan cheese brands: Vegan Cheese is Better Than Ever: Try These 11 Brands Vegan cheese has evolved into a much better product over the years. They melt well & they are good sliced on sandwiches. They are processed. Treeline Nut Cheese intrigues me. Great ingredients & not really processed like American Cheese 🙂 Here is an example: Classic Aged Nut Cheese: Tangy, slightly smoky, firm yet creamy. Slice it, grate it over pasta or stir it into risotto. Ingredients: Cashew nuts, filtered water, hickory smoked salt, vegan lactic acid, L. Acidophilus. I am looking forward to trying it. This line of cheese is available at Whole Foods & Ralph’s. You can find a store near you on the website. Let me know what you think of it.

Each person has a different relationship with food. I love cheese, so I don’t keep it in the house. We have it on special occasions; when we have guests or when we go out to a dinner. I will get joint pain from eating a lot of cheese during the week. I also notice that some cheese causes me to have puffy eyes & congestion. Mozzarella, Parmesan, & Swiss don’t affect me.  I also get a headache from yellow cheese. It is the coloring that causes it. When I buy cheddar, I only use white cheddar. Note your reaction to all foods, but especially to dairy products. Another reason to keep a food diary 🙂

Take away the “evil” label & enjoy a serving of cheese & fruit for lunch, a pick-me-up or for desert. Until next week…Mary 🙂


January Nutrition Nuggets




While researching for our weekly Blog posts, I always come across nuggets of information that I want to share with you. Usually they don’t fit into the topic at hand. I have decided to save them until I have several & share them in one post. This weeks nutrition nuggets are varied in subjects: salads, lentils, coffee & chemo-brain to much more & not in any particular order. Oh, and take a look at the recipe at the end of the post…YUM!

I liked this idea of Salad Dumpers: Nutrition WOW . I do this too but Dawn Jackson Blatner RD, has some ideas that I hadn’t thought of. So I buy salads kits all. the. time. I LOVE the ease of just dropping everything in a bowl & then being done.

The issues….
– expensive
– too many calories (yikes)
– often times CRAP ingredients This link is to a printable list she has of CRAP ingredients.

Let’s start making our own easy CRAP-free salad kits. Let me introduce you to…Salad Dumpers. A simple way to make a quick 100-calorie side salad for any meal like a sandwich, pizza, soup, etc. I like these ideas for a quick sandwich at lunch or even for dinner.

1) COMBINE your favorite salad toppings, 100 calories-ISH per salad.
2) STORE topping combos in clear containers in the fridge.
3) DUMP! When you want a salad, DUMP toppings on lots of pre-cleaned greens. I buy boxes of fresh organic spinach & mixed greens during the winter when our garden isn’t producing. Very convenient.

Try these topping combos for your Salad Dumpers:
Each combo below is about 200 calories, great for 2 salads

Roasted butternut squash cubes (1 cup)
Shaved Parmesan cheese (1 ounce)
Red wine vinegar (drizzle) Balsamic is good too, or flavored vinegar’s.

Pomegranate seeds (3/4 cup)
Crumbled blue cheese (1 ounce) Crumbled Feta is my favorite.
Orange wedge (squeeze on)

Honey-baked almonds (1 tsp honey/23 almonds)
Roasted broccoli (1 cup)
Lemon wedge (squeeze on)

– Salad Dumpers last 4-5 days in the fridge.
– Containers that are 1/5-2 cups & clear work best so you’ll see the ingredients instead of forgetting about them. I use small canning jars that hold 2 cups. You can buy plastic screw on lids for them. Makes it easier to get into them 🙂

“DUMPERS ROCK! xoxo” Go to her website link above to see all of her ideas. Here is the link to a printable graph of them. 

I would add the following:

  • Hard boiled egg chopped
  • Nuts & seeds: remember that pumpkin seeds are high in protein!
  • Sprouts: these can be purchased in the produce section.
  • Olives
  • Artichoke hearts: I buy them in jars, water packed.
  • Water chestnuts: I buy them in jars, water packed.

A legume that I use a lot of is lentils. I ordinarily cook them in an Indian dish or just plain to accompany a meal. I received this great list from OldWay’s of new ways to use them.

Lentils (click for a printable chart) are small but nutritional powerhouses of the legume family. A half-cup of cooked lentils has a whopping 9 grams of protein, more than nearly any other legume, and 8 grams of fiber. Plus, compared to other kinds of dried beans, lentils have the added advantage of being quick and easy to prepare. Although they should be rinsed and checked for dirt and debris before cooking, there is no need to presoak them. Three varieties of lentils are most widely available: green, brown, and red. The green have a nutty flavor and will stay firm when cooked. Brown lentils soften during cooking, and risk becoming mushy if overcooked. Red lentils are the quickest to cook, and will lose their shape, turning a yellow-orangey color when cooked. The different types make lentils a versatile addition to your diet!

1. Put cooked lentils in your salad! You can also “pop” your lentils by placing cooked lentils in a skillet with a small amount of oil until they plump, or pop open, and toast slightly. This gives them a crunchy texture that contrasts nicely over greens.

2. Construct creative lentil side dishes. Lentils work well with a variety of flavor profiles, so you can take a side dish in a multitude of directions. Dress with olive oil and lemon juice to pair with chicken, or take a French twist by adding cloves in a sauce of Dijon mustard and red wine vinegar to pair with salmon.

3. You can feature lentils as the main course. Replace meat with lentils for a vegetarian Sweet Potato Shepherds Pie.

4. Soups, stews and chili are ideal plates for lentils. You could make a spicy, Mexican infused chili with lime and cilantro, you could take a Moroccan twist on vegetarian stew with cumin and garam masala notes, or try a lighter Asian flavor soup with hints of lemongrass and ginger in coconut milk.

5. Add lentils to your stir-fry. You can use lentils as your protein for your favorite stir-fry combinations, or as a base instead of the usual accompaniment of rice.

6. Try lentils as a filling for Stuffed Peppers. Combine cooked quinoa, lentils, cashews and spices like thyme and basil to fill bell peppers for a unique vegetarian take on a classic.

7. Use lentils as a meat replacement in tacos. Simmer lentils in a combination of cayenne pepper, cumin and paprika to create a delicious spicy filling for your tacos, or with chipotle peppers and adobo for a more smoky flavor.

8. You can even have lentils for breakfast! Cooked lentils can be added to baked breakfast bars or muffins. Uncooked lentils can be ground up to create a protein-packed powder to add to breakfast smoothies.

9. Make your own South Indian bread with lentils. Urad Dal bread is made using urad dal lentils (which can be found online or from an Indian store) and is a dense, moist sandwich bread. Dosas are another type of South Indian food, which uses the urad dal lentils to form wide, thin crepes.

10. Sprout lentils! Sprouting lentils is a simple process that can be done with any variety as long as they are whole (not split or dal). Rinse your lentils, then soak them for about 8-12 hours. Drain your lentils, rinse again and place in a large jar filling about 1/3 of the space (remember they are going to grow!). Cover the opening of the jar with cheesecloth secured with a rubber band. Twice a day rinse the lentils and drain through the cloth, making sure there is no puddle in the jar. After about 4-5 days you’ll see the little green leaf emerge and they’ll be ready to harvest.

11. Use lentils as a meat substitute in your favorite pasta sauce. Whip up a veggie-packed lentil and mushroom ragu with bell peppers and onions, or take a twist on a classic Stroganoff.

12. Lentils are great additions to veggie burgers. Cooked lentils combined with cooked quinoa, rolled oats and spices make flavorful, protein-pack

I like to use the green lentils in place of split peas in soup. Have you noticed that they are also in 13 Bean Soup mixes?

Sorghum is the new Quinoa in 2017, according to several newsletters I have received. I cooked some for dinner this evening. It takes about 50 minutes to cook on the stove top so I decided to do it in the slow cooker instead: 1 cup rinsed sorghum in 3 cups of water on high for 4 hours, mine took 3 hours. We enjoyed the taste & texture. I used it in place of rice with roasted veggies. I will be adding this to my grains that I use. Very tasty.

I posted about Ancient Grains last August, 2016. Here is what we learned about Sorghum from that post…

Sorghum: Gluten free. 1 cup dry sorghum: Protein: 22 grams, & fiber: 12 grams. It is high in  niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, magnesium, iron, calcium, & potassium.

Oldways, Whole Grain Council: “Ask a hundred people if they’ve ever eaten sorghum and chances are, they’ll have no idea what you’re talking about. However, sorghum, a cereal grain, is the fifth most important cereal crop in the world, largely because of its natural drought tolerance and versatility as food, feed and fuel. In Africa and parts of Asia, sorghum is primarily a human food product, while in the United States it is used mainly for livestock feed and in a growing number of ethanol plants. However, the United States also has seen food usage on the rise, thanks to the gluten-free benefits of sorghum for those with celiac disease.”

I bought a bag of sorghum & tried popping it. It takes awhile to get it popping & you have to shake it frequently. Make sure you use a heavy bottomed stainless steel pan. It looked like tiny popped corn; smelled & tasted like it too. Not sure it was worth the effort other than it was a fun thing to try 🙂 Popped sorghum is a popular snack in India. 

Recipe Links:

Always welcome news...Caffeine may counter age-related inflammation This is a very good read. “A chronic inflammatory process that occurs in some, but not all, older people may trigger cardiovascular problems, a new Stanford study shows. Part of the solution might be found in a cup of coffee.”….“More than 90 percent of all noncommunicable diseases of aging are associated with chronic inflammation,” said the study’s lead author, David Furman, PhD, a consulting associate professor at the Stanford Institute for Immunity, Transplantation and Infection. More than 1,000 papers have provided evidence that chronic inflammation contributes to many cancers, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis and even depression, he said. It’s also well-known that caffeine intake is associated with longevity,” Furman said. “Many studies have shown this association. We’ve found a possible reason for why this may be so.” I am so loving this study! 

I started thinking about whether coffee is good for “chemo-brain”. I found this intriguing article by Kathy-Ellen Krups, RN: Coffee, breast cancer and chemo brain  After breast cancer treatment and because of the fatigue and inability to focus, I started having a cup of coffee daily in the afternoon to help “perk” me up. It worked! Coffee was the drug I needed to get me to the end of the day. I still don’t drink it in the morning, I have plenty of energy then, but by 11:00 a.m. and later, I start sniffing it out. Here’s the good news for all of us coffee drinkers: Coffee is a stimulant and it turns out that it is a good treatment option for chemo brain.” Read the rest of the article for more information. I didn’t find any definitive studies for coffee & chemo brain, but having a cup to help with focus sounds like a great idea. Moderation 🙂

Another headline that caught my eye was: Calorie Restriction Diet Found To Extend Monkey Life By Years: Will It Work On Humans Too? “The practice of restricting calories has often been wrapped in controversy — and now a new set of findings reveal that it helps monkeys live healthier, longer lives. A long-running monkey trial concluded that calorie restriction made them live around three years longer than usual, translating to about nine years in humans.

While a calorie-restricted diet may not be the right fit for everyone, better understanding the mechanisms behind its potential benefits may lead to anti-aging solutions in the future, according to Julie Mattison of the National Institute on Aging.” 

My favorite quote from this article was: Brian Delaney, who chairs the Calorie Restriction Society and practicing calorie restriction for over two decades now, said the dietary restriction already comes easy for him. For others, however, it could mean very precise planning of meals, and it may not necessarily be all that helpful.”

“I’m not at all certain that people who are a healthy body weight should restrict to some emaciation level. Life might seem longer, but it wouldn’t necessarily be longer,” explained aging expert Steve Austad from the University of Alabama.’ Cackle!

Being on a plant based diet lowers your calorie intake but fills you up! Another plug for the Mediterranean & vegetarian diet.

The last nugget I want to share is this wonderfully easy, nutritious, pancake! The recipe is from: Everyday Belle 

Greek Yogurt Pancakes

Prep Time: Cook Time: Serves: 1-2

  • 6 oz of your favorite Greek yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • scant ½ cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  1. Open the yogurt container and stir the yogurt until it’s smooth and creamy. Crack an egg over the yogurt and stir to combine leaving. The resulting mixture should be pale yellow in color and have a few lumps here and there.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour and baking soda.
  3. Pour yogurt/egg mixture into the bowl with the flour and baking soda. Stir to combine. The batter will be extremely thick.
  4. Spoon the batter onto a sprayed griddle or pan heated to medium-high. I usually make four big pancakes, but you could also make 8 smaller ones.
  5. Flip the pancakes when they start to bubble a bit on the surface. Cook until golden brown on both sides and serve with butter, syrup, fruit, Nutella….anything! Enjoy!

Notes: For lower-calorie Greek yogurt pancakes, use nonfat yogurt and an egg white instead of the whole egg. Equally delicious and easy to prepare.

 Have a great, healthy week!…Mary 🙂 

Toaster Oven Cuisine!

I have a terrible family reputation for killing toasters. Lets just say buttering the bread first was a bad idea as was spraying the toaster with bug spray when there was an ant in it. I was young. 🙂 So…I was banned from even having one in the house & was not allowed to use other peoples either. Enter the wonderfully versatile Toaster Oven. I haven’t killed one yet. 

What I didn’t realize is there are a lot of recipes out there for meals made in a toaster oven. You can even buy baking pans, muffin pans & cookie sheets in a small size to fit in them. Our NUT Elf, Suzi, sent me a great link to toaster oven cooking. This triggered my research mode & my sharing urge! Let’s look at cooking in that big thing on your counter.

There are many websites that compare using a microwave to using a toaster oven. Some favor the microwave & some favor the toaster oven. I have never liked using a microwave oven because to me the food tastes “funny”. I had one about 28 years ago & only used it to heat water. I replaced it after a few months with a toaster oven. I am not going to debate the research on the microwave oven. It is a personal choice. This post is just about the toaster ovens versatility.

You can pay as much as $600+ or as little as $30 for a toaster oven. Mine is a BLACK+DECKER TO1303SB 4-Slice Toaster Oven, Includes Bake Pan, Broil Rack & Toasting Rack, Stainless Steel/Black Toaster Oven.  I paid $35 for it 4 years ago. It is the perfect size for us & for our counter. I use it mostly for toasting bread, muffins or heating corn tortillas. My husband “toasts” slices of tofu or tempeh for his sandwich. He also makes nachos in it for a snack. 

Toaster Ovens come on sale frequently. Keep your eye out for a bargain. You can probably find a good one at a second hand store. The other reason I like them is because they are easy to clean. Takes me just a few minutes a week. Another positive is that you can use it instead of the oven when making a quick snack, saving on utility bills.

This is the link that started it all: KILLER TOASTER OVEN APPETIZERS THAT ARE SURPRISINGLY HEALTHY. As Suzi pointed out, these can be main meals when cooking for one or two people. 

  • SPICY CHICKPEA EDAMAME SALAD PITAS “These Spicy Chickpea Edamame Salad Pitas take less than 15 minutes to make with endless ways to customize them. Each pita is filled with a mashed chickpeas salad made with subtly sweet edamame, diced celery, green onions, sun-dried tomatoes, creamy yogurt and spicy Sriracha.” This recipe, as is, has 23 grams of protein per serving! What a great small meal or main meal this is. If you prefer not to use the edamame, then substitute peas or another legume. This is a recipe that you can customize easily…my favorite kind! It is served with pita bread warmed in the toaster oven.
  • Toaster Oven Veggie Nachos: Love this one! Black beans & cut up veggies, yum! Suzi told me that she added a little more cheese. She said, “they are surprisingly filling, easy to make & quick.” 
  • Balsamic Asparagus & Hummus Toast: I go crazy during Asparagus season. So much so, my husband has planted an asparagus garden just for me. Takes 3 years for the first one 🙂 Worth the wait.

Every single recipe is healthy & looks so tasty. Go to the site to see the others. Thank you Suzi!

Dinner Made Easy: 6 Dishes Cooked in a Toaster Oven to Try Tonight. This is the recipe that stood out for those of you who eat chicken.

Herb Roasted Chicken Tenders: “You’re never too old to enjoy chicken tenders for dinner! Celebrity chef Eric Ripert shares this quick and easy meal with Today. Herbes de Provence lend the dish its flavorful character. It’s savory and delicious — particularly when served alongside a sweet honey Dijon medley for dipping. This recipe takes 20 minutes to complete and yields 2 servings.”

7 ounces chicken tenders

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ teaspoon herbes de Provence

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon honey

Directions: Preheat toaster oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Drizzle half of the olive oil onto the toaster oven tray. Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and herbes de Provence.

Place the chicken in a single layer on the tray and drizzle the remaining olive oil over the chicken. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until cooked through. Stir together Dijon mustard and honey. Serve the chicken tenders with mustard on the side.

Another recipe that you can use to add to salads or serve as is. I think this would make a good “grab & go” source of protein when you need a snack or lunch on the fly.

10 Toaster Oven Meals Made in Minutes: This is a slide show plus recipes. The ones that begged to be shared are:  

  • Cinnamon Honey Bananas make a delicious breakfast as well as a great way to move those fast-ripening bananas. Kids will think it’s a dessert — it’s that tasty.” This is a good pick-me-up for the afternoon.
  • Tuna Melts are the ultimate comfort food — perfect on chilly winter afternoons or as a light dinner on a summer evening. Use the cheese of your choice and your melty meal will be ready in minutes.”
  • If you’re craving a Portabello Mushroom Burger but don’t feel like firing up the grill, you can make one indoors. This recipe includes a yummy pesto topping to make the most of your fresh basil. Yum! I make these when I can find Portabello mushrooms! 
  • For you salmon lovers: Heart-smart Pesto Salmon can be prepared in the toaster oven under the broiler in no time. Top it with pesto and your family will think they’re dining in a fancy restaurant. 

The more recipes I look at the more excited I get about trying them out. I love healthy, fast, meals. Gives me more time to relax, read a book or crochet!

60 Meals You Didn’t Know You Could Make in a Toaster Oven Yes, 60 meals! They are placed in categories: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks & Sides, & Desserts. This site is excellent for coming up with small meals. Some of the recipes like cookies & biscuits, make just 1 or 2 servings. Definitely worth exploring. Here are a few just to give you an example.

  • Single Peanut Butter Cookie You know that time after dinner, when you simply have to have something sweet? When you’d rather not bake up an entire batch, turn to this single-serve recipe flavored with maple syrup, apple sauce, peanut butter, and vanilla.” This recipe makes 1 or 2 cookies!
  • Almond Flour Biscuits These savory biscuits have more protein than their more average counterparts. The recipe makes just two biscuits—perfect for snacks or to accompany a dinner for two.” 
  •  Roasted Baby Potatoes While whole sweet potatoes may take close to an hour in the toaster oven, these little suckers only require about 25 minutes. All you need are potatoes, a little salt and pepper, some olive oil, and herbs of your liking (this recipe suggests rosemary and thyme).” You can cube tofu or tempeh & add it to the mix. They come out perfect & slightly crunchy. 
  •  Baked Sole and Asparagus This baked fish gets a healthy makeover by using fewer breadcrumbs, a little bit of Parmesan cheese, and reduced fat mayo. Asparagus (full of vitamin K!) can also bake in the toaster oven.”
  • Baked Tofu This is a super versatile lunch. Instead of battling a block of jiggly tofu in a skillet, toss it in the toaster. Press out some of the liquid first for firmer slices, and choose your favorite marinade. Cube the tofu and cook it a little longer for a bread-less crouton alternative for salads or serve it in a whole-wheat wrap with greens and julienned veggies.” I buy extra firm in a vacuum package. Cutting them up in cubes lends to many possible ways of using them.
  •  Hard “Boiled” Eggs Skip the boiling water and cracked shells and pop eggs directly onto the toaster oven (keep the shells on!) for hard baked eggs.  And go ahead, keep the yolk: Studies show whole eggs may not be as unhealthy as we once thought.” This sounds interesting! You can also break the egg into a ramekan, add veggies & cheese, and bake.

This is perfect for those of you who are experiencing a loss of appetite during & after treatment. Eating small meals, and grab & go snacks, frequently during the day will work better than the traditional 3 meals. By eating 6 to 8 snacks/meals a day you will take in more calories. The toaster oven is also wonderful for re-heating food: pizza, take outs, sandwiches, leftovers & more.

I enjoyed researching this post. Such fun & easy ways to make those small meals. Until next week….Mary 🙂


New Year, New Diet Resolutions!



Each new year I post the “Best Diet” list from U.S.News. “A panel of health experts, including nutritionists and specialists in diabetes, heart health, human behavior and weight loss, reviewed detailed assessments prepared by U.S. News of 38 diets. The experts rated each diet in seven categories, including short- and long-term weight loss, ease of compliance, safety and nutrition.” This year I want to look at the top three overall, the easiest & healthiest to follow & how some of the ”  fad  ~popular diets” fared. At the end of the post, under Resources, are additional articles for you to read.

The top three, Dash, Mediterranean & MIND, are consistently rated the healthiest way to eat. This year Mediterranean scored #2. Here is a reminder of what each diet is about. Click on the name of the diet to see their scores, get a very detailed overview, health & nutrition, recipes, do’s & don’ts, along with experts reviews. 

  1. DASH DietDASH was developed to fight high blood pressure, not as an all-purpose diet. But it certainly looked like an all-star to our panel of experts, who gave it high marks for its nutritional completeness, safety, ability to prevent or control diabetes and role in supporting heart health. Though obscure, it beat out a field full of better-known diets.” DASH is a very good diet to follow. 

  2. Mediterranean Diet: With its emphasis on fruits and vegetables, olive oil, fish and other healthy fare, the Mediterranean diet is eminently sensible. And experts’ assessments of it were resoundingly positive, giving this diet an edge over many competitors. I don’t think you need me to comment on this one 😉

  3. MIND DietThe MIND diet takes two proven diets ­­– DASH and Mediterranean – and zeroes in on the foods in each that specifically affect brain health. It made an impressive debut to the 2016 rankings, shooting up to second place overall, tying with the TLC diet. It’s a healthy, sensible plan with science behind it. The MIND diet, which stands for “Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay,” was developed by Martha Clare Morris, a nutritional epidemiologist at Rush University Medical Center, through a study funded by the National Institute on Aging and published online February 2015. Morris’ team followed the food intake of 923 Chicago-area seniors. Over 4.5 years, 144 participants developed Alzheimer’s disease. The longer people had followed the MIND diet patterns, the less risk they appeared to have. Even people who made “modest” changes to their diets – who wouldn’t have fit the criteria for DASH or Mediterranean – had less risk of developing Alzheimer’s. The study found the MIND diet lowered Alzheimer’s risk by about 35 percent for people who followed it moderately well and up to 53 percent for those who adhered to it rigorously.”  This diet is for those of you who are ok with doing it yourself. It has guidelines like the Mediterranean diet but not as regimented as the DASH. 

The easiest diets to follow; three tied for #1. Look familiar? 🙂

  •  #1 Mediterranean Diet (tie) 🙂
  •  #1 Weight Watchers Diet (tie) Even though they changed how their point system works this year, it is still the easiest, healthiest diet to follow for losing & maintaining your weight.
  •  #1 MIND Diet (tie)  “You may lower your risk of mental decline with this new hybrid of two balanced, heart-healthy diets – even without rigidly sticking to it – early research suggests. The main complaint with this diet is that your pretty much on your own for recipes & building a meal. 

What about some of the “fad~popular diets” from 2016, how did they rate? I am adding comments from a great article: What the science says about every popular diet — and whether they can work for you 

#31 in Best Diets Overall: Acid Alkaline Diet  “What the science says: Much of the diet’s advice — mainly cutting down on meat, sugar, alcohol, and processed foods — is sound, but it’s making these recommendations based on faulty information. The body regulates its own pH, regardless of what you eat. Proponents of the diet claim that acidic foods make your body work harder to digest them, but that isn’t backed up by science. Some also say that the alkaline diet could protect against bone loss, but researchers have dismissed that claim. Eating more fruits and vegetables is always a good idea, but cutting out several major food groups entirely could leave you lacking key nutrients. Scientists haven’t studied whether the alkaline diet could help you lose weight.”

#36 in Best Diets Overall: Paleo Diet “What the science says: We know cutting most processed foods and sugar out of your diet can be beneficial. A small observational study found participants did lose weight and might have reduced their heart disease risk on the paleo diet, but these effects didn’t appear to be more than other participants on similarly calorie-restricted diets. A review of four studies found similar results, but noted the researchers only studied the diet intervention short-term. Cutting out main food groups like dairy and grains could prevent you from getting the nutrients you need, though. “If you want to copy your paleolithic ancestors, you’re better off mimicking their activity levels, rather than their alleged diet,” the British Dietetic Association concludes.”

#38 in Best Diets Overall: Whole30 Diet  “What the science says: Restrictive diets can be much harder to follow, and Whole 30 is a very restrictive diet. It’s also a short-term plan, not the type of long-term lifestyle change that typically yields better results over time. Whole 30 is somewhat similar to the Paleo diet, which has only shown modest short-term effects in studies. Scientists haven’t studied Whole 30 specifically yet. But Dr. David L. Katz, the founding director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, told Business Insider last summer that he was skeptical of the benefits people rave about on Instagram. “The grouping [of banned foods] is both random, and rather bizarre from a nutrition perspective,” he said. “If the idea is good nutrition, cutting out whole grains and legumes is at odds with a boatload of evidence.”

The Gluten-Free diet was not on the USNews Best Diets list. I know a lot of people are going gluten free, so I wanted to add the comments about it from  What the science says about every popular diet — and whether they can work for you :

“What the science says: Record numbers of people are gluten-free now, despite the fact that a 2016 study found that the number of people with celiac disease has remained steady since 2009. Researchers suspect that many people feel better when they cut gluten out of their diets because this also means they eat fewer sugary, processed foods. People on gluten-free diets can be at risk of missing out on key nutrients found in grains, like iron, fiber, and riboflavin. There isn’t evidence to suggest that a gluten-free diet could help you lose weight, and some people even gain weight on the diet. But for the 1% of the US population who has celiac disease, going gluten-free can save them from the gastrointestinal distress that grains cause them.”

Take a look at that link. It discusses more diets that you may be interested in.

Oprah Winfrey is now the co-owner & spokesman for Weight Watchers. I read an interview that she did. I want to share what she said. I think this sums up how we should look at diets and our intentions:

“Intention is the most powerful principle that rules my world. It’s the principle by which I rule my company and every action in my life. I do nothing without first thinking about why I’m doing it,” she said. “When the weight started to come off, I needed to get clear on my intention. I could lose weight to fit a dress size, or attend an event, or to make other people like me. But I couldn’t keep it off for those reasons. I always put the weight back on. This time I changed the intention to, ‘I want to be the healthiest I can be — physically, emotionally, spiritually.’ So the process and purpose of losing shifted for me. It was easier, because my intention was clearer.”  from CollegeCandy 

‘I want to be the healthiest I can be — physically, emotionally, spiritually.’ This should be our focus, our goal, our intention, & our life long resolution.

Until next week….Mary 🙂


  • Best Diets “ U.S. News evaluated 38 of the most popular diets and identified the best. Find which top-rated diet is best for your health and fitness goals.”
  • Less shrinkage: This is your aging brain on the Mediterranean diet The aging brain is a shrinking brain, and a shrinking brain is, generally speaking, a brain whose performance and reaction time are declining: That is a harsh reality of growing older. But new research shows that brain shrinkage is less pronounced in older folks whose diets hew closely to the traditional diet of Mediterranean peoples — including lots of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and olive oil, little red meat and poultry, and regular, moderate consumption of fish and red wine.”
  • A diet high in fruits, vegetables and fish may help fight acne in adult women “Research found that women who consumed little to no fruits, vegetables and fish were more likely to experience breakouts as adults. Twenty to 40 percent of people over 18 still struggle with acne.”
  • DASH Diet Wins Top Spot Again “After the DASH diet, the Mediterranean diet came in second overall, and the MIND diet took third place. The Mediterranean diet focuses on eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains while drinking alcohol in moderation. The MIND diet, a new addition last year, combines elements of the Mediterranean and DASH diets. It aims to boost brain health.”
  • A Plant-Friendly Atkins Diet Gets High Marks On List Of 2017’s Best Diets “The Eco-Atkins diet makes the cut in the fastest weight-loss category. The diet was developed by a nutrition scientist at the University of Toronto. “It’s a plant-based spin on the Atkins diet. It calls for 31 percent of daily calories to come from plant proteins, 43 percent from plant fats and 26 percent from carbs,” explains Haupt.”
  • What the science says about every popular diet — and whether they can work for you There are so many diets out there, but figuring out which one will actually work for you can be tough. Luckily, scientists have found that most reasonable diets can help you lose weight, compared to not following a diet at all. Overall, studies have shown that diets rich in plants and low in processed foods are the best for weight loss.But many popular diets aren’t based on sound scientific principles.If you’re setting a New Year’s resolution to lose weight in 2017, here’s what the science says about 15 popular diets, so you can decide which one — if any — might be right for you.
  • Whole30 Is Actually the Worst Diet You Could Do 
  • Army warns of new threat: Energy drinks  These products generally are unregulated and can have negative side effects,” the report said. “Those who drank three or more drinks a day also were more likely to report sleep disruption related to stress and illness and were more likely to fall asleep during briefings or on guard duty.”
  • Diet debate: Are diet drinks a no-go? A lot of people assume they must be healthy choices because they are not sugared beverages, but the critical thing for people to understand is we don’t have the evidence,” said Prof Susan Swithers, from the US’s Purdue University. Studies looking at large groups of people have shown obese people tend to drink more fizzy diet drinks than those of a healthy weight.”