Monthly Archives: June 2015

Healthy Oils/Fats

There have been quite a few conflicting articles this week regarding the 2015 FDA Dietary Guidelines that will be approved in a few months. These guidelines will also dictate school lunch guidelines as well as what is on the labels of processed foods. Rather than the benefits being discussed they are being politicized. It is difficult enough to decide what is healthy to eat. Now, we not only have pesticide lobbyists, beef industry lobbyists & climate change naysayers to name just a few; we also have politicians making unscientific claims about the guidelines. What do we do with all this misinformation? We ignore it! We trust what our bodies are telling us to eat.

I have put together definitions of types of oils/fats plus a list of the most common ones that we use to help you navigate through the misinformation. But first, here are a few of the headlines from this past week that I wanted to comment on.

Fat is back: New guidelines give vilified nutrient a reprieve “We wanted the emphasis to be on fat quality rather than total fat, because the evidence really emphasizes that saturated fat is the driver of risk rather than total fat intake,” said Barbara Millen, president of Millennium Prevention and chair of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.” Hmmm, that makes sense. So the headlines stating that bacon is back may be “a bit” misleading. Rather than worrying about how much fat we eat, we want quality. That leaves bacon in the eat once a month category 🙂

Since about the 1950’s there were many non-fat, fad diets introduced. Yet we remain an obese nation with heart disease, diabetes & cancer on the rise. We now know that blood cholesterol levels are not affected by diet choices ~except for those who are diabetic~ & that the body needs fat to be able to function.

High-Sugar Diet Can Impair Learning And Memory By Altering Gut Bacteria  “The typical American diet is loaded with fat and sugar, and it may be hurting not only our physical health, but also our ability to think clearly. New research from Oregon State University finds a high-sugar, high-fat diet causes changes in gut bacteria that seem to lead to significant losses in cognitive flexibility, a measurement of the brain’s ability to switch between thinking about one concept to another, and to adapt to changes in the environment.” The crux of this article is that the typical American diet is laden with FAT & SUGAR. This is true & the fat used when teamed up with the sugar is not quality fat! As I have said in a previous post; if you listen to your body you will notice a “foggy brain” after eating a couple of donuts, King Size Snickers or a large piece of cake. Where there is high sugar content in processed foods it is holding hands with an unhealthy fat.

Here is the headline that left me stunned! Texas Ag Commissioner: Bring Back Sodas and Deep Fat Fryers to School.  “Put simply, the state agency which, according to its own website, “striv[es] to put Texans on the path to wellness” is now being led by an individual who seems bizarrely determined to fatten up Texan children as quickly and efficiently as possible.  Or, to use Mr. Miller’s own words from yesterday’s press conference: “ “We’ve been raising big, strapping, healthy young kids here in Texas for nearly 200 years. We don’t need Washington, D.C., telling us how to do it.” This one is definitely a political move; or so I hope. This is a very good article & I suggest you read it. 

Last article: Experts Applaud Dietary Guidelines That Lift Dietary Fat Cap “The limit on total fat [in current recommendations] presents an obstacle to sensible change, promoting harmful low-fat foods, undermining attempts to limit intakes of refined starch and added sugar, and discouraging the restaurant and food industry from providing products higher in healthful fats,” wrote the authors.” Great article. 

Let’s look at fats/oils in our diet.

What are “healthy fats” & “unhealthy fats”. Whenever I read an article about diet I invariably see a reference to “healthy oils/fats”. It occurred to me that “healthy oils/fats” are rarely listed, other than Olive Oil, and rarely defined. I have made a list of oils that I see most often. I may have left off the one you love or want more information about. If that is the case, please email me & I will answer any questions you have.

All fats have 9 calories per gram, protein has 4 calories per gram & carbs have 4 calories per gram. Your body needs fat to absorb micro-nutrients. It is also an energy source when carbs and protein stores are low. 9 calories/gram is a very dense calorie to weight ratio. You want to make sure that those calories are from a quality source of fat.

Trans Fats:  Being banned by the FDA. See my post from last week. This is a type of fat that occurs naturally in some foods in small amounts. But most trans fats are made from highly processed oils; called partial hydrogenation. By partially hydrogenating oils, they become easier to cook with & are less likely to spoil than naturally occurring oils. Research has shown them to be unhealthy for consumption and that is why they are banned in European countries & are being banned here.

Saturated Fats: They are solid at room temperatures. Less than 7% should be in your diet.

Polyunsaturated Fats: They are always liquid even when refrigerated. Each type of polyunsaturated oil contains a different Omega 3  to Omega 6 ratio. Check the labels. Your body needs both but the Omega 3’s should be higher.

Monounsaturated Fat: Liquid at room temperature but becomes cloudy when refrigerated. Choose oils that are highest in monounsaturated fats. These are the “healthy oils”. These oils contain more Omega 3’s.

Avoid saturated fats & limit polyunsaturated fats. Saturated fats such as butter & coconut oil should be used in moderation but are good substitutes for margarine.

My list of oils/fats that you see most often. Choose quality & use in moderation. It really doesn’t take more than a teaspoon or two to get the desired effect. 

Butter: Certified Organic is best to avoid added antibiotics, growth hormones & GMO’s.

  • Monounsaturated: 29% | Polyunsaturated: 4% | Saturated: 62%
  • Flavor: Buttery!
  • Uses: Low heat. Flavor.
  • Problems: High in saturated fat.
  • Health benefits: There is an ever increasing use in butter as a natural, healthy food instead of the chemical laden margarine or spreads. It has vitamins A, D, E & K2. Healthiest is Certified Organic or Grass Fed.

Canola Oil: Rapeseed oil, can be labeled simply Vegetable Oil.

  • Monounsaturated: 62% | Polyunsaturated: 31% | Saturated: 7%
  • Flavor: Neutral to mild
  • Uses: For baking, frying & sauteing
  • Problems: 90%+ GMO unless Certified Organic, highly refined which is why it has a long shelf life. Rapeseed oil was originally used as a petroleum oil. After WW2 its use declined. Farmers decided to figure out a new use for it. It is highly refined to be able to be consumed.
  • Health benefits: Antioxidants; lower than in olive oil.

Coconut Oil:

  • Monounsaturated: 6% | Polyunsaturated: 2% | Saturated: 92%
  • Flavor: Light coconut flavor
  • Uses: High heat. Baking, stir fry, roasting & for popping popcorn!
  • Problems: None. This saturated fat is not a problem because it is a medium-chain triglycerides which in research is seen as heart healthy. 
  • Health benefits: There is not a lot of research that suggests it is a “super food”. It is a good choice when cooking but shouldn’t replace better choices such as Olive Oil. Here is a good article: What are the health benefits of coconut oil This is a fair assessment of coconut oils health benefits. 

Corn Oil: Maize Oil.

  • Monounsaturated: 25% | Polyunsaturated: 62% | Saturated: 13%
  • Flavor: Mild
  • Uses: High heat, all purpose oil.
  • Problems: High in Omega 6’s. Used as a bio-fuel & is heavily processed to produce food grade. Unless Certified Organic, corn oil is more than 90% GMO.
  • Health benefits: None documented by reliable research that I could find.

Grapeseed Oil: Oil from the grape seed.

  • Monounsaturated: 17% | Polyunsaturated: 73% | Saturated: 10%
  • Flavor: Mild to a grape flavor~when imported.
  • Uses: All purpose oil, can be used with high heat.
  • Problems: High in Omega 6.
  • Health benefits: Considered healthy. Further studies are needed to see if it actually lowers the risk of cancer.

Nut/Seed Oils: Walnut, Almond, Sunflower Seed

Olive Oil, Extra Virgin: Extra Virgin or Extra, Extra Virgin are best. This refers to how many times the olives have been pressed.

  • Monounsaturated: 78% | Polyunsaturated: 8% | Saturated: 14%
  • Flavor: Mild to bold depending on the pressing.
  • Uses: Heart healthy staple of the Mediterranean diet.
  • Problems: None.
  • Health benefits: High in antioxidants if extra virgin. Olive oil also contains beta carotene, and vitamins A, E, D and K.

Red Palm Oil: According to Dr. Weil, “Fresh palm fruit oil, sometimes called ‘red palm oil,’ is a nutritious and beneficial oil. However, it’s important not to confuse this raw oil with palm kernel oil, or the highly processed versions of crude palm oil that are commonly used as ingredients in the industrially produced packaged foods found in most Americans’ diets. These types of palm oil are unhealthy for the human body. And their irresponsible cultivation in tropical areas is unhealthy for the planet.” Palm oil is called “conflict oil” & rightly so. The destruction of the planets rain forests is extremely important to consider when buying products from there. Red Palm Oil is now replacing coconut oil  on the shelves of Trader Joe’s & other natural food stores. Red Palm Oil can come from Ecuador but Ecuador is seeing its rain forests replaced by Palms due to the increased demand for red palm oil. Don’t ride the “Super Food” train. Think about what you purchase and where it comes from. Recent article if you buy from Trader Joe’s: So What’s the Deal with Trader Joe’s Red Palm Oil?

  • Monounsaturated: 38% | Polyunsaturated: 10% | Saturated: 52%
  • Flavor: Red Palm Oil has a buttery flavor
  • Uses: In processed & packaged foods.
  • Problems: High in saturated fat. Not recommended.
  • Health benefits: High in Vitamin A & E.

Peanut Oil:

  • Monounsaturated: 48% | Polyunsaturated: 34% | Saturated: 18%
  • Flavor: light peanut flavor
  • Uses: High heat use. Stir fry, roasting, baking.
  • Problems: Short shelf life, buy in small amounts.
  • Health benefits: In my research of peanut oil I found studies showing that it is “heart healthy” but I also found recent studies that show it clogged the artery. Obviously more research needs to be done. Use it in moderation; drizzle it on foods for flavor.

Safflower Oil:

  • Monounsaturated: 13% | Polyunsaturated: 73% | Saturated: 14%
  • Flavor: Mild
  • Uses: All purpose. High heat oil.
  • Problems: High in Omega 6’s.
  • Health benefits: Rich in Vitamin E. Considered a very healthy oil.

Sesame Oil:

  • Monounsaturated: 41% | Polyunsaturated: 44% | Saturated: 15%
  • Flavor: Light sesame is nutty; dark sesame is a bold sesame flavor.
  • Uses: Flavoring after sauteing, dark sesame for dressings & sauces.
  • Problems: Short shelf life, buy in small amounts. Smokes easily. Better to toss the cooked food with a small amount for flavor.
  • Health benefits: Has antioxidants. Studies in India have shown that consistent use of sesame oil lowered blood pressure; possibly due to its diuretic affect.

Soybean Oil: When you buy standard vegetable oil it is usually soybean oil. 94% of non organic soybean oil is GMO.

  • Monounsaturated: 25% | Polyunsaturated: 60% | Saturated: 15%
  • Flavor: mild.
  • Uses: Processed foods & as an all purpose oil.
  • Problems: Half of the soybean used in the US has been hydrogenated, due to it being an unstable oil, to be used in processed foods.
  • Health benefits: None: High in Omega 6’s & as a partially-hydrogenated oil is a trans-fat.
  • This chart was found on Spend Smart Eat Smart website.


I sincerely hope this helps you decide which oils you want to use. The “take away” from this post is to concentrate on eating QUALITY oils/fats & not be so concerned with limiting the fat in your diet. That dreadful M word again 🙂 Use in MODERATION!

Until next week….Mary

***Charts & quote taken from google images. Origin of Oil Comparison Chart could not be found.

Chocolate & Nutrition in the News

Chocolate is in the news again! It is so nice to be validated 🙂 Trans-fats, a diet to mimic fasting, a great guide for transitioning to a plant based diet and more exciting news. Of course we will begin with chocolate.

A Little Chocolate A Day May Keep Cardiovascular Disease And Strokes At Bay “In the back-and-forth debate over whether chocolate is good for you or bad, a new study found people who regularly consume a reasonable amount of chocolate had a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and strokes compared to people who didn’t consume any.” I guess they had to say “a reasonable amount~same as that M word~moderation 🙂 The article does say that you should stick to dark chocolate. With all the reading I have done regarding health & chocolate, I recommend 80% & above. The darker it is the less sugar & dairy is involved. I still love the 90% Lindt makes. I eat one square in the evening for my chocolate fix.

The FDA is banning the use of trans-fats in processed foods over the next 3 years. The FDA takes step to remove artificial trans fats in processed foods, Based on a thorough review of the scientific evidence, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration today finalized its determination that partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), the primary dietary source of artificial trans fat in processed foods, are not “generally recognized as safe” or GRAS for use in human food. Food manufacturers will have three years to remove PHOs from products.” 3 years? It is not like this is new news. Studies on trans fats have been going on for years.

Remember when they were added to the nutrition label on processed foods? 2006! At that time the FDA said: Trans Fat Now Listed With Saturated Fat and Cholesterol “As of January 2006, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires food manufacturers to list trans fat (i.e.,trans fatty acids) on Nutrition Facts and some Supplement Facts panels. Scientific evidence shows that consumption of saturated fat, trans fat, and dietary cholesterol raises low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol levels that increase the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health, over 12.5 million Americans suffer from CHD, and more than 500,000 die each year. This makes CHD one of the leading causes of death in the United States today.” Wow, did they not read their own press release?

The World Health Organization, WHO, announced the following in 2014: Europe leads the world in eliminating trans fats “Consumption of trans fats is strongly associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, and has been linked to several types of cancer. A growing number of countries in the WHO European Region have recognized that taking action to eliminate trans fats may bring significant health gains, and new data indicate that such action is highly effective in reducing trans-fat consumption among the population.” Sometimes I wonder why the USA is so far behind when it comes to our health. The countries who banned trans fats did it within the year.

Here’s how a five-day diet that mimics fasting may ‘reboot’ the body and reduce cancer risk“Fasting has long been acclaimed as an effective way to lose weight, improve the immune system and boost brain function. But doctors have been loathe to recommend it because of the dangers associated with such extreme dieting. Now scientists say they’ve developed a five-day, once-a-month diet that mimics fasting — and is safe.” I think this is a great idea. A much safer & healthier way to get the benefits of fasting. You will notice when you read the article that you are to consume 9-10% protein. This is closer to what the WHO has recommended for a healthy diet. Americans tend to eat far more protein than is healthy for them. 

On the subject of protein; here is a link to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s (CDC) webpage about protein. Nutrition for Everyone; ProteinI think their recommendations are a bit high but much lower than they used to be. If you are in treatment, you would need more protein to help build healthy cells. Take their recommendation for your age and add 5-10% to that. 

How does one transition to a plant based diet? I have always recommended that you look at your plate & daily intake of food, then make one change each week or even monthly. This guarantees that you develop new eating habits slowly which will keep you on track. Major changes at one go never work. You are setting yourself up for failure when you do that. Take a look at this link.  9 Tips to Transition Successfully to Plant-Based “Changes we choose—like transitioning to a plant-based diet—can be super challenging. It’s tough leaving behind a lifetime of habits and giving up on some of your ‘favorite’ foods. To help you navigate towards a 100% plant based lifestyle, here are 9 tips to keep you focused and ‘on track’.”  This article is from UC Davis’s Integrative Medicine Program. Great article.

I never recommend that you give up your favorite foods. They should be put on your “special day” list. My husband & I go out to eat or have a “special” dish or desert on Wednesdays. When you know that you can have that pizza or cupcake if you want it, then it somehow gets demoted in your “I have to have that” mindset. It loses its power over you. Nice to be in control again 🙂

Stanford Hospital & Clinics Digestive Health Center: Nutrition Services, has a handout for people who suffer from IBS~ Irritable Bowel Syndrome. It is called: The Low FODMAP Diet (FODMAP=Fermentable Oligo-Di-Monosaccharides and Polyols). Dr. Low Dog mentioned it on her Facebook page for people with IBS. After looking at the diet I realized that it would be beneficial to those of you who have similar digestive problems. If you decide to try this while on chemo/radiation then please share the handout with your health team. They should know what you are up to 🙂 

The Low FODMAP Diet (FODMAP=Fermentable Oligo-Di-Monosaccharides and Polyols). “FODMAPs are osmotic (means they pull water into the intestinal tract), may not be digested or absorbed well and could be fermented upon by bacteria in the intestinal tract when eaten in excess Symptoms of diarrhea, constipation, gas, bloating and/or cramping may occur in those who could be sensitive to the effects of FODMAPs. A low FODMAP diet may help reduce symptoms, which will limit foods high in fructose, lactose, fructans, galactans and polyols.” Take a look at the chart that shows which foods can be consumed & which should be avoided. There is also a list of low FODMAP snacks at the end of the sheet. If you have any of these symptoms then I encourage you to print this out for a reference when you are in need!

I was emailing one of our NUT group friends this morning regarding what can be used to help you relax during your treatments. I want to take this opportunity to remind you to check out Traditional Medicinals Teas. These will not interact with any of your treatments if you keep it to 3 cups maximum per day. Nighty Night tea for insomnia & Cup of Calm tea for anxiety & fear. Take a look at their Relaxation Sampler too. Tea is a wonderfully easy way to take care of digestive problems related to treatment or to everyday stress. Yogi Tea & Traditional Medicinals Teas are fantastic, trustworthy brands. Go to the above links & look at their products. I use both.

Those of you who know me & have been to my former office in Encinitas will remember the bottle of Rescue Remedy I kept for anyone who needed it. I went through 1-2 bottles per week between the medical staff & patients. Rescue Remedy by Bach or 5 Flower Formula by FES are homeopathically made combinations of 5 flower essences. It is used for overwhelm, crisis or emergencies. It will not interact with medications or treatments. It comes in various forms such as liquid, spray & cream. I carry a small bottle of it in my backpack, purse & in the car. 4 drops under the tongue or 4 drops in a bottle of water, coffee or whatever you are drinking, as needed. It can also  be used in your bath; put in 4 drops. It is safe for children & pets. It is alcohol based but they do make one without alcohol.

I will see you here again next week. I am always available by email if you have any questions…..Mary


Smoothies have been a popular drink and/or meal replacement since the advent of the refrigerator & blender. I remember making them in the 1960’s. They actually date back to the 1930’s in the U.S.A. but have been a part of the Mediterranean cuisine for several hundred years.

I will show you my basic smoothie recipe which is not only packed with nutrients but is also tasty! This recipe can be easily customized according to your needs; higher protein or higher calories for example. I will discuss protein powder choices, spices, whole foods, liquids, & extras to add to your smoothie.

This recipe makes approximately 12 ounces depending upon what you have added to it.

Basic Smoothie by Mary Hollander RN

  • 1 cup of liquid: water, nut milks, coconut water, no soy
  • 1 cup of fruit (fresh &/or frozen): apple, banana, strawberries, lime, raspberry, mango, blueberries…mix & match
  • 1-2 handfuls of greens: kale dandelion, spinach, basil, mint, chard
  • 1/2 – 1 cup of veggies: CARROTS, AVOCADO, CUCUMBER, CELERY, BEET
  • Extras: fresh ginger, 1-tab chia &/or hemp seeds,protein powder, no soy, cinnamon, nutmeg, coconut, spirulina, cocoa or carob powder

Smoothie should be approximately 80% veggies & 20% fruit.

For a nutrient dense, high fiber, balanced smoothie, you should try for 20-25% fruit & 75-80% vegetables. Quit making faces! You can’t taste the vegetables unless you use a strong flavored one like kale or arugala. The fruit & spices will give you the flavor you want.

Liquids: 1 cup or more to adjust the thickness of the smoothie. This choice is dependent upon what tastes best to you. 

  • Water works as well as any other liquid.
  • Nut Milks are easy to make for the base of the smoothie. Add 1 cup of water into your blender & throw in about 1/4 cup of nuts & blend. Instant nut milk! No need to strain out the “bits” because they add to the flavor & won’t be noticed. My preference is raw cashew nuts. Roasted nuts give a nuttier flavor to the smoothie & adds calories due to the oil.
  • Coconut Water or Coconut Milk adds a coconut flavor for the base. I like it but it is expensive. Check the labels when buying either one. Pepsi owns O.N.E & Coca Cola owns ZICO. Food Babe has a great article: How to Buy the Healthiest Coconut Water & Avoid the Worst I recommend that you read this before you spend your $$$.
  • Soy Milk: I am not a fan of soy milk because it is so highly processed & I think nut milks are a healthier choice. Unless you buy organic soy milk it will be GMO soy. I have been watching the studies on soy & I am not convinced that American soy products are all that healthy.

Fruit: 20-25% of your smoothie. Use  1/2 to 1 cup of whole fruit; fresh or frozen. Don’t use fruit juices. Juices are too concentrated which makes them very high in natural sugars. The whole fruit will retain the fiber in the smoothie. Fiber helps to slow down how much natural sugars are released into the body over a period of time instead of quickly. Mix your fruit for a special taste.

  • Bananas are great in smoothies for flavor & for their creamy consistency. Frozen bananas thicken the smoothie and make it like a milk shake! Peel the bananas first, cut them up and freeze them in one serving quantities. They will retain their flavor and color. You can freeze them with the peel on, but then you have to let them defrost a bit before the peel will come off. They will begin to brown while defrosting & the taste is overripe. 
  • Berries, fresh or frozen are so tasty in a smoothie. Blueberries are my favorite when I want a refreshing drink. I don’t like raspberries or blackberries because of the “seeds”. That’s just me 🙂
  • Mango is such a treat! Blend with a frozen banana, pineapple & coconut for a tropical flavor. Mango & banana with the spice cardamom makes it taste like a Mango Lassi ~ an East Indian drink.
  • Peach, apple, pear, grapes or any fruit you like can also be used.

Vegetables: Add 2 to 3 cups. 75-80% of your smoothie. This can be leafy greens only or you can chop up vegetables to add in. I do both using 2 cups of leaves & the rest chopped vegetables.

  • Leafy greens add fiber, vitamins & minerals. Mix it up; Boston, Romaine, Butter, Red-leaf, Arugula, Spinach, Kale, Radicchio, & Chard to name just a few.
  • Vegetables; chopped into small pieces. My favorite are carrots. You can add any fresh or frozen vegetable you have on hand. Try carrots the first time along with leafy greens so you can get an idea of flavors.
  • Pumpkin or sweet potato puree are amazing! You can buy this organic & in a BPA free can. Check the label. I love pumpkin & banana smoothies with added spices.
  • Avocado: It should be under fruits but most people consider it a vegetable. Avocado makes your smoothie creamy, adds healthy oils, vitamins, minerals & calories. Great addition to a smoothie. The raw community has been adding the avocado pit/seed to smoothies for years. The pit/seed is high in antioxidants & potassium as is the avocado flesh. The seed has been studied for anti-tumor properties. It can also break a blender. You can cut it up in smaller pieces & use about 1/4 of it in a single smoothie. I don’t use them. They have a bitter taste and there are other fruits & veggies I can add for the same benefits; also I love my Vita Mix 🙂 NUT Elf, Sandee, emailed me this morning. She & her husband not only chopped up the seed but soaked it overnight to soften it for the smoothie. You may want to add the soaking water too. Here is the latest news about Avocados: Avocados May Help Beat Blood Cancer

Protein Powders: If your health team has told you to increase your daily intake of protein, this is an easy way to do it. Add a protein powder. You don’t want an athletic protein powder because of all the added ingredients. Many of them have been pulled from the shelves by the FDA because they were adulterated with heavy metals. Here is the ingredient list from a popular one called Muscle Milk: water, calcium sodium caseinate and/or milk protein isolate and/or milk protein concentrate, alkalized cocoa powder, soluble corn fiber, blend of vegetable oils (sunflower oil and canola oil), maltodextrin, natural and artificial flavors, potassium citrate, whey protein concentrate, cellulose gum and gel, soy lecithin, magnesium phosphate, monosodium phosphate, sodium hexametaphosphate, potassium chloride, acesulfame potassium, medium chain triglycerides, carrageenan, salt, tricalcium phosphate, ascorbic acid, ferric pyrophosphate, dicalcium phosphate, sucralose, vitamin e acetate, d-calcium pantothenate, niacinamide, zinc oxide, copper gluconate, vitamin a palmitate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, chromium chloride, folic acid, biotin, potassium iodide, cholecalciferol, cyanocobalamin. I think I have made my point. A protein powder for you should have only the protein itself on the ingredient list. Some have sunflower seed lecithin which is a healthy lecithin, unlike soy lecithin 🙁 Sunflower seed lecithin has many health benefits.

Here is a list of companies that are trustworthy. They sell single serving sizes. Buy them to see which you like before buying the large containers. Is this an expense you need? Ask yourself that question before buying any protein powders.

Extras: Be creative! 

  • Nut Butters: Add 1-2 tablespoons of a nut butter for a smoothie with more protein, calories & healthy oils/fats . Great combination with banana & also strawberry smoothies. Smooth or chunky 🙂
  • Oils: For added calories & healthy fat, put in a teaspoon or two of Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Coconut Oil.
  • Spices: I use them for their medicinal properties as well as for their flavors. If you are using apples in your smoothie then add cinnamon & nutmeg; apple pie flavor! Pumpkin puree; pumpkin pie spices. I already mentioned cardamom. Lovely flavor & smells so good! Ginger is another good spice to use.
  • Hemp Seeds: Do not need to be ground up. Omega 3. 1 tablespoon has 3.5 grams of protein & .3 grams of fiber .
  • Chia Seeds: Do not need to be ground up. Highest of the plant Omega 3’s. 1 tablespoon has 2.5 grams of protein & 5 grams of fiber. Will thicken your smoothie. I combine Chia & Hemp, 1 tablespoon of each, in a smoothie to get the Omega 3’s & to increase the protein & fiber.
  • Flax: Must be ground up or will not be digested. Flax oil becomes rancid quickly so buy in small amounts & keep in frig. Omega 3. 1 tablespoon has  2 grams of protein & 3 grams of fiber. I don’t use Flax.
  • Ginger: Fresh, raw ginger root. This is an acquired taste for some. I like ginger a lot so I add an 1″ of the root, peeled. You can grate the ginger too~easier if frozen first.
  • Dates~pitted!: Add a date to sweeten your smoothie. Doesn’t take much. I don’t need the added sweetness but my husband does & he uses organic Medjool dates. These beauties are pure sugar!
  • Coconut: Add grated or shaved coconut for flavor & texture.
  • Cocoa or Carob powder: Need a chocolate fix? Start with a banana, nut milk, & leafy greens. Add cocoa or carob powder to taste, sweeten with a date. Yum! My husband adds a handful of espresso beans before blending. Voila! Frappuccino!
  • Flavorings: List from Frontier, a very good brand. Vanilla is not the only one! I like to use Almond & Butterscotch.
  • Spirulina or Powdered Greens: These are concentrated forms of anti-oxidants & should not be used when being treated with chemotherapy & or radiation. If you are using fruits, seeds, fresh greens & veggies in your smoothie then you don’t need these.

Young & Raw do a 30 day Smoothie Challenge two or three times a year. I have taken part in two. When you sign up they send you a shopping list for each week of smoothies. I didn’t like all of them & I didn’t think they used enough vegetables to balance them. I did have fun trying them out though & learned a lot about combining flavors. I got permission from their nutritionist to share my first 30 day challenge with you. Click here, Young & Raw 30 Day Challenge, for a printout. Have fun with it.

Recipes: Also on our Recipe page under Smoothie

Have a great week! See you here next week…..Mary

Boost Your Immune System With Nutrition

We hear a lot about having a strong immune system to help our bodies ward off common illnesses & diseases in our environment. There is the “flu season”, “cold season”, childhood disease crises, etc. The best way to keep your immune system operating optimally is to give it a consistent supply of balanced nutrition. What is the immune system & how does it work?

The simplest definition I found was on immune system, which is made up of special cells, proteins, tissues, and organs, defends people against germs and microorganisms every day. In most cases, the immune system does a great job of keeping people healthy and preventing infections. But sometimes problems with the immune system can lead to illness and infection. The immune system is the body’s defense against infectious organisms and other invaders. Through a series of steps called the immune response, the immune system attacks organisms and substances that invade body systems and cause disease.”  The immune response includes the thymus, spleen & lymph system.

In the past 5 days there have been many articles concerning the discovery of a connection between the brain & the immune system. This is an amazing discovery. Landmark Study Finds Previously Unknown Link Between The Brain And Immune System  “Neuroscientists have uncovered a previously unknown direct connection between the brain and the immune system — a finding that could have significant implications for the treatment of brain disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis and autism.”  This adds another dimension to what is known about the immune response pathways.  

I read in an abstract, on PubMed.govthat the gut immune system has 70- 80% of the body’s immune cells. Therefore, gut health & what we eat is extremely important and affects our bodies response in fighting illnesses & diseases.

There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that a plant based, whole food diet is the healthiest way to eat for everyone on the planet. We can all agree that based on scientific evidence, eating an array of fresh, organic, vegetables, fruits, healthy oils & whole grains with no, or a very limited amount, of dairy, meats & processed foods is the way to keep our immune system strong. But are there specific foods & spices that boost the immune system? Yes, there are.

Dark, richly colorful vegetables & fruits are immune boosters; beets, carrots, spinach, & blueberries for example. Buying local, in season, & fresh as possible insures the most nutrient dense time of that whole foods life. The list I compiled shows the best seasonal picks for fruits & vegetables during the summer plus other year around immune boosters. From my research of many databases I picked out the “stars”; the foods packed with nutrients, antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, & minerals. I arranged the list in specific categories for easier access later.


  • Acai Berries: Okay, let’s get this one out of the way. If I left it off the list I would have gotten a slew of emails!  Here is an article from the Mayo Clinic on 3/25/15: What are acai berries, and what are their possible health benefits? “Acai berries contain antioxidants, fiber and heart-healthy fats. They may have more antioxidant content than other commonly eaten berries, such as cranberries, blueberries and strawberries. But, research on acai berries is limited, and claims about the health benefits of acai haven’t been proved.” If you read the article, take note that acai berries are not easily found outside of natural food stores, are expensive and are usually found in a processed food. It is also noted that large amounts of acai, supplements in particular, may interfere with MRI results. Acai berries are imported mainly from Brazil; so not local. Not a “star” as far as my research has shown!
  • Blueberries: These little berries are ranked the highest of any fruit for antioxidants. According to my research, one cup has 3.6 grams or 14% of the recommended daily dose of fiber and nearly a quarter of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C, 14.4 mg.
  • Strawberries:  Packed with vitamin C, 89.4 mg & 3 gm of fiber per cup this is another summer immune booster! This berry is a must to buy organic if you can. Out of all the berries, strawberries are heavily sprayed with pesticides. If bought in season the organic strawberry is only a few cents more than the commercial. This is an interesting chart comparing the two. I believe it is not up to date for California commercial strawberries. The farmers are using fewer pesticides due to cost & have removed the main carcinogenic pesticide. California, in 2012, supplied 80% of the U.S.’s commercially grown strawberries.


  • Carrots: Rich in carotenoids. 2 servings a day has shown a reduced risk for breast & ovarian cancer.
  • Tomatoes: Rich in lycopene, an antioxidant, which research shows reduces the risk of prostate, breast & kidney cancers.
  • Kale: Rich in Indoles which stimulate liver detoxification & helps to fight cancer.
  • Avocado:

Avocado DLD


  • Almonds: Rich in fiber and research has shown they are a good source of pre-biotics.  Pre-biotics aide in better digestion and increases the amount of our gut buddies.
  • Brazil nuts:  These selenium-rich nuts enhance your immune system by stimulating the white blood cells’ ability to fight viruses. They are so high in selenium~50 micro-grams per nut~that you shouldn’t eat more than 1-2 a day to stay withing the recommended daily amount of Selenium.

Fermented foods: Boost the immune system year around! Fermented foods provide a host of beneficial bacteria in the gut, helping to protect the body from harmful bacteria. Look for “naturally fermented” on the labels of fermented foods. Here are the “stars”.

  • Sauerkraut: Packed with the beneficial Lactobacilus bacteria. This bacteria aides in digestion and also boosting the immune system & the gut is a good combination to help prevent cancer. Choose the unpasteurized kind so the bacteria is not killed off during the process.
  • Kefir: Studies I looked at show that Kefir is an immune booster by stimulating the immune response in the gut. It is also a potent probiotic. When purchasing probiotics make sure that it contains live gut buddies! These little guys can be killed during pasteurization; they have to be added in after the process. Read the label!

Mushrooms: The benefits of medicinal mushrooms are best when they are a regular part of your diet. If you are interested in mushrooms: Paul Stamets is the leading authority. Click on his name to go to his books.

  • Maitake: This mushroom has anti-cancer, antiviral, and immune-enhancing properties. They may also reduce blood pressure and blood sugar.
  • Shiitake: Fresh & dried. This mushroom contains lentinan, which has shown antitumor activity in clinical trials.  They are also eaten to reduce cholesterol, lower blood pressure & have antiviral properties.

Spices: Add them to your foods during the day. Eating them consistently will give you the benefits described.

  • Rosemary: It is called the “remembrance herb”. Anti-inflammatory & antioxidant. It is being studied because it may help to increase circulation.
  • Ginger: Anti-inflammatory. Reduces inflammation in all areas of the body, including the intestine.
  • Turmeric: Anti-inflammatory. Turmeric is being studied for use with Alzheimer patients. Adding black pepper increases the absorption of turmeric.
  • Garlic: Raw or cooked. An immunity-boosting superstar. One clove contains 5 mg of calcium, 12 mg of potassium. Eating garlic regularly will boost your immune system by stimulating the production of white blood cells.


  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil: Great article about the results of a new study with extra-virgin olive oil.  Ingredient in Olive Oil Looks Promising in the Fight Against Cancer A Rutgers nutritional scientist and two cancer biologists at New York City’s Hunter College have found that an ingredient in extra-virgin olive oil kills a variety of human cancer cells without harming healthy cells.” Another reason to use this oil. 

Tea: Black & Green tea come from the same plant. They are picked at different times & processed differently. 

  • Black Tea: Like green tea, black tea can boost your immune system. Most studies have been done with 5 cups a day but agree that 1-2 cups will also be beneficial.
  • Green Tea:

Green Tea

Chicken Soup! Yes, it does work. Felt it needed to be included 🙂 

Articles I found interesting & wanted to share.

Here is an article that reinforces what we know about vegetarian diets: Students at First Vegetarian School Find Better Health and Academic Success “PS244Q, a public school in Flushing, Queens (New York), was the first public non-charter school in America to offer students an all-vegetarian menu. The all-vegetarian plan (which includes breakfast and lunch) was launched in 2013.” The future of school lunch programs? I certainly hope so. Think of the health benefits!

An article written by Dr. Shamini Jain, an SDCRI collaborator, about the discovery of the connection between the nervous system, brain & hormonal system & what that means to the future of medicine: Hacking Into Healing: The REAL Future of Medicine  “About 40 years ago, a group of microbiologists, behavioral scientists, and medical doctors in laboratories from UCLA to Russia proposed, based on their carefully conducted, independent studies, a completely heretical idea: that the brain, immune, and hormonal systems were connected — and that emotions had a major influence on the body.” 


Visit our resource page for more websites & books you may find interesting. If you would like to contribute topics, book titles, websites or recipes email me the information! See you here next week.

Mary ~

Nutrition in the News

The nutrition news this past week has reaffirmed what we already know about what to eat, but also held a few surprises. We will look at the articles & studies that I felt were newsworthy enough to share.

I have also included two new recipes from our NUT Elf, Suzi, & myself; links to websites with great recipes from our Ms. Helen & Eubie & one of my favorites. So much to cover!

Many Probiotics taken for Celiac Disease Contain Gluten  From the New York Times. Colombia University doctors, in 2014, noticed that people with celiac disease who use probiotics felt worse. What is Celiac Disease? Mayo Clinic: Celiac disease is an immune reaction to eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. If you have celiac disease, eating gluten triggers an immune response in your small intestine. This is a serious disease & patients have to avoid ALL gluten.

I chose this article because many of you take probiotics & also avoid gluten in your food. According to this article, half of the probiotic supplements they looked at contained gluten; even the ones labeled “gluten free”. From my research on this study the probiotics they looked at were supplements; pills. I didn’t see anything about natural dairy with probiotics such as yogurt or Kefir. The study emphasized that they didn’t understand why gluten would be in the supplements. The FDA stipulates that it must be on the label if it contains more than 20 parts/million. Some of the supplements had way more than that. Bottom line? If you are taking probiotic supplements & are affected by gluten; pay attention to how you feel. If you continue to be bloated, gassy, diarrhea etc. then stop the probiotic pills & see if you feel better. In this case, looking at the label is not going to help . 

​In study, skipping meals is linked to abdominal weight gain This article is from the news room of The Ohio State University. COLUMBUS, Ohio – A new study in animals suggests that skipping meals sets off a series of metabolic miscues that can result in abdominal weight gain. In the study, mice that ate all of their food as a single meal and fasted the rest of the day developed insulin resistance in their livers – which scientists consider a telltale sign of prediabetes. When the liver doesn’t respond to insulin signals telling it to stop producing glucose, that extra sugar in the blood is stored as fat.”

Nutritionists & Dietitians~ & me~ who recommend a balanced diet such as the Mediterranean or DASH, also recommend that you don’t skip a meal. The most often skipped meal is breakfast, which is the most important meal of the day. Break~Fast. You have fasted since the evening before & allowed your digestive system to rest. The fast should be broken by eating a meal that will sustain your energy and boost your immune system until lunch. I have also recommended to people having trouble with their appetite to eat at least 8 tiny meals or snacks a day beginning with a morning meal. 

Medicine Net: Insulin resistance: The diminished ability of cells to respond to the action of insulin in transporting glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream into muscle and other tissues. Insulin resistance typically develops with obesity and heralds the onset of type 2 diabetes.” Don’t skip meals & schedule in 3 healthy snacks between those meals. Your body needs to have a steady input of nutrients. When following this recommendation you will notice that the 3pm slump doesn’t occur.

Mediterranean Diet Decreases Vulnerability to Uterine Cancer, Claims Study.  “A study published in the May 27 issue of the British Journal of Cancer has established positive links between Mediterranean diet and reduced risks of uterine cancer.”  

I believe that this is an important study. It shows what adhering to a plant based, balanced diet, can do for your immune system & for decreasing your risk of cancer. By the way, when you see the term “plant based”, it doesn’t mean that you have to be a vegetarian. It simply means that meat, chicken & fish are side dishes and that whole grains, vegetables & fruits are the main courses. You adjust portion sizes. 

This article has a typical media sensational title but nonetheless is important. Average U.S. Diet May Kill Prostate Cancer Survivors  Again we see that the Standard American Diet, SAD, can increase the risk of cancer reoccurring. In this case, non-metastatic prostate cancer. At the end of this article Dr. Chavarro said: “Our findings with Western diet and prostate cancer-specific mortality, however, were surprising, in part because there are very little data regarding how diet after diagnosis may impact disease prognosis.” I feel that there is enough evidence to show that the SAD diet is contributing to the increased risk of all cancers, heart disease, diabetes, obesity & more. I also see that there is a growing database of evidence showing that a plant based, whole foods diet such as the Mediterranean or DASH can decrease the risk of cancer and the risk of re-occurrence. What do you have to lose by adjusting those portions & giving up most processed foods? Nothing; but you do gain a healthier immune system.

Here are the links & recipes I promised you.

Bob’s Red Mill’s recipe page I use Bob’s Red Mill products. I use their flour, corn meal & 13 Bean Soup mix. Their products are easy to find in just about any grocery store. I had forgotten about the website and recipe page until our NUT Elf, Ms. Helen, reminded me. Check it out for some very good meal ideas.

I subscribe to a newsletter from Old Way’s: Fresh Fridays. The latest one was called “Let’s Go Nuts!” It isn’t in the archive yet but their are others that I think you would be interested in. Each link in the archive also has recipes on topic. It is a very interesting website to explore if you are a “foodie”. Sign up for the newsletter while you are there.

NUT Elf, Suzi, sent me this amazing recipe for a salad. Detox Rainbow Salad. Simple to make. I followed the recipe exactly this time 🙂  & it was so delicious. My husband took a couple of bites then looked up and asked if I printed out & saved the recipe. It really is that good! Give it a try.

We love spaghetti squash. Don & I both felt like lasagne for dinner 2 nights ago but I didn’t want the heavy traditional recipe. I found this recipe on line. Take a look. My version is right after the link 🙂 Roasted Garlic Spaghetti Squash Lasagna Boats

My version. I used one medium size spaghetti squash.
I cut the squash & roasted it along with & a full garlic head as in the recipe. BTW…that is a great way to cook this squash.
When done, I scraped the inside with a fork & then removed about 1/3 from each side/boat.

I used an 8 oz jar of organic, low sugar, spaghetti sauce adding more sauteed onion & the mashed garlic from the whole head 🙂 I grated 1 & 1/2 cups organic Mozzarella & 1/2 cup organic Shredded Parmesan. You can use less cheese easily. Both of these are low fat.

I layered sauce on top of the scraped squash in the boat, then cheese & then the squash I removed~I pressed it down so the boat became wider~ then finished with the sauce & thinly sliced fresh organic tomatoes & then ended with cheese. Baked it for 35 minutes until brown & bubbly. I let it sit about 10 min. before serving.

It makes 4 large servings! I warmed the other side/boat for our dinner the next night. This satisfied our lasagna craving. Let me know if you try it. Mine looked just like in the picture!

We touched on GMO’s in foods two weeks ago:  GMO’s: Genetically modified foods. We know that they are banned in most countries overseas. We also know that there are no long term research studies regarding the safety for humans. Look Non-GMOfor the non-GMO label on packaging. There are hundreds of companies that are labeling their products on their own. Some major corporations have started doing this too. Click here for detailed information regarding non-GMO products, restaurants & participating companies: Non-GMO Project. 

MAMAVATION: Changing lives one MOM at a time. Another interesting, informational site you should take a look at. 


See you here next week! Email me at if you have any questions…Mary