Monthly Archives: January 2017


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.” 

“Coffee – the favorite drink of the civilized world.” – Thomas Jefferson



A California man was charged with a DUI, “driving under the influence”, last week. He was taken to jail & a blood test was done. It came back positive for only one substance, caffeine! “Given that Americans consume an average of 3.1 cups of coffee a day, it’s unlikely he’s the only driver on the road to have ever enjoyed such a seemingly innocent pick-me-up. So, how in the world could caffeine impair a driver’s capability behind the wheel? According to NBC medical contributor Dr. John Torres, it wouldn’t. ‘Studies have shown that caffeine actually helps ones driving abilities. The only way that it might have an effect is if a person overdoses on caffeine or uses it to cover fatigue and then it wears off,’ Torres said.” (#5)

Putting the legal issues of this gentleman aside; let’s talk about my favorite drink, coffee. You have read about the health benefits of coffee under our Coffee, Topic PageYou are also aware of some of it’s side effects: insomnia, nervousness, restlessness, stomach upset etc. ~Check the resources below for more information.~ But, do you know how to pick a roast, store it & finally make the perfect cup?

The History of Coffee: No one knows exactly how coffee was discovered. The following story/myth is my favorite. 

“Coffee grown worldwide can trace its heritage back centuries to the ancient coffee forests on the Ethiopian plateau. There, legend says the goat herder Kaldi first discovered the potential of these beloved beans. 

The story goes that that Kaldi discovered coffee after he noticed that after eating the berries from a certain tree, his goats became so energetic that they did not want to sleep at night. Sound familiar? 🙂

Kaldi reported his findings to the abbot of the local monastery, who made a drink with the berries and found that it kept him alert through the long hours of evening prayer. The abbot shared his discovery with the other monks at the monastery, and knowledge of the energizing berries began to spread.

As word moved east and coffee reached the Arabian peninsula, it began a journey which would bring these beans across the globe.” (#1)

This is a fun infographic by I LOVE COFFEE (#9). Wow! Those Irish get my vote 🙂



Coffee Beans: The world’s finest premium gourmet coffee beans come from Arabica coffee plants grown at high elevations in prime coffee-growing regions with an ideal climate and fertile, well-drained soils. (#2)

To get to your table the beans go through these steps: 10 Steps from Seed to Cup This is a very lengthy process starting with planting the coffee tree to the various harvesting, drying & processing techniques. If you are interested, go to the link. I found it fascinating. It is easy to buy the roasted beans & grind them yourself but learning about the actual process to get them to my store was a humbling experience.

This link, Coffee Around the World, has a wonderful article about where the beans come from. They are grown in more than 50 countries around the world. “Everything from the variety of the plant, the chemistry of the soil, the weather, the amount of rainfall and sunshine, and even the precise altitude at which the coffee grows can affect the taste of the final product.”  And you thought selecting a coffee bean was easy! It is as complicated as selecting a chocolate in the candy aisle. 🙂 To make it even more complicated let’s look at roast type.

Roast: I like dark roasted coffee. The darker roast has less acidity and less caffeine than the lighter roasts. To my palate it has a very rich, creamy flavor. My favorite dark roast is from Mexico.

Coffee Roast Guide:  “Roasting brings out the aroma and flavor that is locked inside the green coffee beans. Beans are stored green, a state in which they can be kept without loss of quality or taste.  A green bean has none of the characteristics of a roasted bean — it’s soft and spongy to the bite and smells grassy. 

Roasting causes chemical changes to take place as the beans are rapidly brought to very high temperatures. When they reach the peak of perfection, they are quickly cooled to stop the process. Roasted beans smell like coffee, and weigh less because the moisture has been roasted out. They are crunchy to the bite, ready to be ground and brewed.”

Grind: What grind you choose depends on how you are going to brew it. I use a French Press. Although I do love Turkish coffee, I never had any luck in brewing it at home. It is my treat when I go out.

How to Store Coffee: “To preserve your beans’ fresh roasted flavor as long as possible, store them in an opaque, air-tight container at room temperature. Coffee beans can be beautiful, but avoid clear canisters which will allow light to compromise the taste of your coffee. Keep your beans in a dark and cool location.” Oops! I store my beans in a clear jar in a dark cupboard. Time to get new canisters.

Recipes: Couldn’t pass up recipes with my favorite beverage!

  • Get Your Coffee Fix With 25 Unexpected Recipes: “Whether you’re ready for a caffeine IV-drip or just into the occasional after-dinner cappuccino, it’s hard to deny coffee is delicious (especially when mixed with sugar, spice, or all types of chocolate). In honor of National Coffee Day, we’ve rounded up 25 healthy recipes featuring the magical beans. The dark, complex brew lends deep flavor to just about any dish, from sweet to savory…..” 

  • Scones & a cup of coffee are a treat. Scones with espresso & chocolate as an ingredient are simply decadent! Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Espresso SconesYou can make some simple substitutes to make this healthier.

  • Leftover Coffee? Make These 7 Recipes So It Never Goes to Waste: “If you’re anything like us, you’re familiar with the last cup of coffee scenario: It’s not quite enough for another cup and you’re supposed to leave for work in three minutes. Do you chug it or dump it down the train? Neither! We’re sharing the best possible meals and treats (sweet and savory) for however much extra joe you’ve got; be it several ounces or just a few teaspoons. So before you tackle your day, pour whatever’s left into a jar with a lid. Pop it in the fridge—you’re going to need (and want) it later. Bean Chili with Walnuts & Chocolate. I must give this one a try. sounds like a chili mole!





I raise my favorite coffee cup in wishing you all a Healthy, Happy, & Peaceful 2017…….Mary 🙂






  1. How to Brew Coffee 
  2. Espresso & Coffee Buying Guide
  3. Coffee, Topic Page 
  4. Coffee, WebMD 
  5. 4 Things to Know About Caffeine, the Surprising Substance Behind a California Man’s DUI 
  6. Caffeine MedlinePlus 
  7. Benefits of drinking coffee outweigh risks, review suggests 
  8. Top 5 Surprisingly Good Effects Of Caffeine 
  9. I LOVE COFFEE Blog site Infographics are from this site.
  10. National Coffee Association, USA