Wednesday, July 17, 2013

top 5 tips for healthy eating while traveling- guest post

It's summer time! Summer can be such a fun time, for many people it is filled with trips, camping, and outings to the beach or zoo. While I am all for enjoying myself and indulging when the time is right, it is helpful to keep some things in mind when traveling in order to make some healthier choices. So, today I have a guest post from Cole, blogger over at Cole's Mill, who is an avid traveler and foodie. He has picked up some things on his many travels and wanted to share his top 5 tips for healthy eating while traveling.

Top 5 Tips for Healthy Eating While Traveling
Traveling to new cities and familiar destinations allows the opportunity to explore new tastes and experience the finest cuisine. It's a time for travelers to enjoy the city and forget about cooking for the week. Although wining and dining has its benefits, it can be a stumbling block for many people who are trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. By acquiring a few habits on vacation, it can be easy to try new foods and still shed a few pounds.

1. Choose the Right Options at the Airport
Eating unhealthy in a crowded airport or on a long flight can often increase the symptoms of jet lag, making it even more difficult to recover once arriving. Resist the temptation of poor food options at the airport by consuming light chicken salads, fruit cups, and yogurt parfaits. Pack healthy snacks beforehand for the flight to avoid the temptation of getting served a microwaved dinner meal that is loaded in preservatives and calories.
2. Picking The Right Hotel
Be sure to book a hotel that is health-conscious and serves clean meals. By booking a hotel in a healthy location, it will make it easier to have more options and not get tempted. Ensure that the hotel provides a fridge in the room, which will allow you to store healthy snacks and meals. Determining the amenities your hotel has is important. Researching reviews before hand is the most unbiased and informative way to figure out which hotel is right. I found a great site on my last trip to Sin City that listed reviews for Las Vegas hotels regarding their amenities, restaurants in the area, and things to do. This made it easier than ever for me to plan out a healthy trip and you can too!
Although most continental breakfasts come with sugary cereals and heavy donuts, you can still skip the fat and load up on fresh fruits, toast with peanut butter, and eggs. Opt for pairing the meal with plenty of water, as the juice often contains processed sugar.
3. Visit a Grocery Store
When first arriving at the destination, find a local grocery store that is in close proximity to the hotel you've booked. Stock up on healthy snacks that will keep you full throughout the day and provide plenty of energy. Consume moderate portions of nuts, dried fruit, protein bars, yogurt, and granola that is easy to pack when on the go. It will also make it less tempting to grab an unhealthy snack in between meals.
4. Scope Out Healthy Restaurants
Eating clean while traveling doesn't mean ordering a plate of lettuce at a nearby restaurant you stumble upon. Do a bit of research beforehand and locate nearby establishments that are known for their healthy cuisine. The hotel concierge will also be able to provide the best restaurants in the area that are known for having a healthy menu. Picking a restaurant with a menu that has a wide variety will increase your likelihood of finding a healthy menu option without sacrificing flavor. Also, don’t be afraid to order something particularly the way that you want it even if it is not on the menu. Restaurants will often to cater to your needs and chances are your way of ordering will probably be simpler and involve less ingredients anyways!
5. Treat Yourself
Deprivation is never the key to choosing healthy options while traveling. By avoiding your favorite foods altogether, it can easily lead to resenting healthier options and going overboard. Don't be afraid to order a bite of dessert after dinner that is easy to share and will satisfy your taste buds. Treat your hard work and enjoy yourself with proper portion control. If you're craving a burger, opt for ordering a turkey burger on a whole wheat bun with sweet potato fries. If pizza is on the menu for the night, choose a vegetarian option with a side salad.

Following these simple and easily maintained tips can ensure that you come back from your vacation feeling as great as the day that you left!

Friday, May 31, 2013

healthy strawberry chocolate "milk shake" recipe

A few weeks ago Josselyn experienced her first ice cream cone...and since then the requests have kept a comin'. She takes after me I guess, we love our ice cream. And chocolate. So I wanted to give her some healthy alternatives that she might accept as an ice cream-like substance (and me too). Today we threw together this healthy strawberry chocolate "milk shake" smoothie. I even managed to sneak in some superfoods that have healthy fat and protein.

Healthy Strawberry Chocolate "Milk Shake"

1 frozen banana
4 big strawberries (frozen or fresh)
2 dates (would still be good without, just a little less sweet)
small handful of raw almonds*
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cacao or cocoa powder (could use a tablespoon if not using superfood powder)
1 tablespoon hemp, cacao & maca superfood powder mix (optional) (this is the mix that I have)
1/2 teaspoon probiotic powder (optional)
1- 1 1/2 cups water
several ice cubes

Combine all ingredients except ice cubes in blender and blend until nice and smooth. Add ice cubes and blend smooth again.

*Note about the almonds: if you don't have any or you don't have a high speed blender that will blend them up good, I would just use almond, coconut, rice milk etc. instead of the almonds and water.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

gallbladder and healing naturally: an update about me

Last week I posted about my wonderful client, Jamie, on how she had been doing at halfway through her 6 month program. So I thought this week I would give you all a little insight (as well as some exciting news) on how things have been going for me. When I first started this blog and website, I wrote this post on a little bit about my health and what had lead me to where I was at that time. You can also read some more about my story in the About Me section of the website. I want this to be a place where I not only share health tips and recipes but also the experiences that shape who I am as a health coach. Health is an ever evolving process and even (or especially, ha) those of us who have the knowledge and desire to work in the field of nutrition and wellness have issues to work on.

So in that first post about me I shared how I struggle with gallbladder and liver problems and about my intention to heal naturally without surgery. Since then I have done a few more gallbladder flushes and released more stones. I have also continued to find which foods work best for me and also incorporated an herbal blend for the liver/gallbladder into my supplement routine for some time. Overall I had been feeling better, though I did have a few gallbladder attacks in the last year. However, in the last few weeks I have been having some pain and discomfort in that area pretty often. No full blown attacks but since I am pregnant (due in October) I thought I should mention it to the doctor. Pregnancy hormones can make gallbladder problems worse because they cause muscular tissues throughout the body to relax. In turn, the gallbladder doesn’t get the bile out as effectively.

Let’s backtrack for a second to last year when I had the ultrasound and CAT scan. They had said I had a hepatic hemangioma on my liver. A hemangioma is a benign tumor that is a cluster of blood vessels. Through my own research I had read that pregnancy is a risk factor for a hepatic hemangioma to burst (which would be bad and potentially life threatening). So, I definitely made sure to mention it to the doctor when I went last week.

She sent me for an ultrasound of the area. Yesterday I heard back from her, and though I still have stones in my gallbladder, the tumor is gone! This made me so happy and just further solidified my belief/knowledge that healing naturally is possible and worth it. I will manage the gallbladder pain through avoiding foods that trigger it. Managing stress is also a big part of this and one of my personal health goals. Then, sometime after the baby is born I will be able to do some more flushes and get rid of stones. I have read that it takes several (sometimes 10-12) times to get all of the stones out.

So I just want to emphasize again that our bodies are meant to heal themselves given the right conditions. When you get a cut on your skin, you expect it to heal on its own, right? Unless it’s covered in dirt and scum or constantly ripped open again. This goes for other ailments and diseases as well. With all of the food like substances so many of us feed ourselves rather than real, whole foods along with chronic stress (mental, physical and chemical) our healing processes can be stunted or even stopped. Then we get “treated” with drugs or surgeries that don’t really fix the problem, just covers up or handles the symptoms for a while. This usually just makes things worse in the long run. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful that we have so much great medical technology in case of an emergency situation. But for the day to day ailments and chronic diseases, it’s just too much. 

If you are dealing with an issue, and most of us are (let’s face it we all have baggage of at least one sort or another), whether it is headaches, anxiety, or diabetes, delve deeper and figure out what is really going on and where the problem is stemming from (do make sure it is not an emergency situation though). Then you can take steps to fix it. There are so many modalities to healing and being healthy and often times it takes a mix of a few (or a lot) to get the job done right. It is amazing how a few simple shifts can make significant changes and lead you down a path of discovery. It will seem hard at times but healing is possible. And you are worth it. You deserve to live the life that you want to live and you are capable of making it happen. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

meet Jamie: health and weight loss transformation

I am so happy and honored to share this story. Jamie is one of my clients who has so graciously agreed to let us tag along on her journey to optimal health and well-being. Jamie started the program in December and already made great strides (after 3 months) towards meeting her health goals and feeling good doing so.

Before starting the program Jamie just knew that things could be better. She had no energy when waking up in the morning (and she actually reported feeling nauseous most days) and during the day. She would end up wanting to sleep all day and night. She also had some excess weight that was waiting to be released but she wasn’t sure where to start. So we talked and she decided to start the 6-month program. Right away Jamie started to notice changes in how she felt when she woke up in the morning as well changes in swelling she had in her legs and ankles since pregnancy.

Let’s check in with Jamie and see how it went after completing half of her 6-month program.

Her top three goals when starting the program were: weight loss, mood stability and increasing her energy.

Weight Loss

before starting the program (and finding full body shots wasn't easy)

As of halfway through the program Jamie has lost 15-17 pounds. This has been accomplished without going on a “diet” or restricting calories. She is learning what foods work best for her and has added in the good stuff. Jamie has reported that her “go to” foods have drastically changed. Before she may have turned to fast food or frozen foods when in a hurry or when too tired to cook, she now reports that cooking comes more naturally. She realizes that it is not hard and does not have to take a long time. Whole, nutrient dense, foods such as quinoa and kale are now staples in her diet. In fact, when I ask her how she is doing with cravings she says she is always craving a raw kale salad. Now that is what I like to hear!

When asked what the most significant overall change she has noticed since starting the program Jamie responded, “My ability to actually make something a habit, a lifestyle. Not just a temporary thing”.
halfway through the program, weight loss of 15-17 pounds
and now confident enough not only to have a full body shot taken but to take it herself!

Mood Stability

When Jamie and I first talked about her health goals, a main theme seemed to be how she was handling stress. She felt that there had to be a more optimal way to cope with everyday stressors. Jamie is a single mother, full time student, part time photographer and part time gymnastics teacher so we can all see that there has got to be a decent (to say the least) amount of daily stress she is under. So part of her program has been focused on ways to move about her busy days more healthfully and happily while making it a priority to also take time for herself.

Jamie says: “I am so happy with the way I am feeling lately! I feel like I am consistently making better choices for me and as a result for my child. Things are still stressful, life is still life, but I feel as if I have the tools to handle it with more grace now. I can’t wait to see what other changes I can make in the next couple months.”

Increasing Energy

Jamie has had a noticeable increase in energy in the first 3 months of the program. When she wakes up in the morning she feels ready to start her day and no longer feels she needs to sleep all day and night. She has also drastically reduced her use of substances she used before to help her have the energy to get everything done.  

What else does Jamie say about her program so far?

“[Danielle] provided me with a number of tools to incorporate better choices into my life. I was surprised that it wasn't just nutrition that she was teaching me about. She gave attention to every aspect of my life. Things as simple as chewing my food better were incorporated. She sent me recipes that helped me to stay on track with the nutritional stuff and has helped to keep things interesting. She has helped to guide me to move through my world in a different way.”

“I think the main thing that stands out in my mind is how incredibly insightful and intuitive Danielle has been. She has helped me to start to listen to my body just like she listens to her clients.”

To Jamie: thank you for taking us on this journey with you. I am incredibly grateful to be a part of your path to living the life of your dreams and I am looking forward to seeing where the rest of the program takes you.

Everyone else, stay tuned because we will catch up with Jamie again in the next couple weeks and see how her goals have progressed further, upon completing the 6-month program.   

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

spring superfoods to eat now

If you get my monthly email newsletter then by now you know I love spring. My favorite day of the year is the first day that it hits 70-75 and is beautiful and sunny. Another big reason that I love spring is it brings the return of local and homegrown produce for those of us who get a cold winter. 

Eating local and seasonal produce is so good for us. Energetically, it helps us to live with the natural order of things and be more connected to nature and where we live. There are many other benefits nutritionally, environmentally and economically. I actually wrote a post on this topic last year that you can check out here for more info.

So, here are my top spring superfoods to eat more of this time of year.


Asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables, my family and I wait in giddy anticipation each year for its arrival. I am lucky in that my Dad grows it but it is also one of the first things at the farmer’s market in the spring. And I guess I love asparagus for a reason, I found this list of the benefits and there are a lot of them! Just a few of which include balancing insulin levels (powerfully preventing diabetes), lowers cholesterol, fights depression and puts you in a good mood, stimulates milk production in nursing mothers, antifungal and antiviral, lowers blood pressure naturally, I can’t stop listing these, seriously check out this article.   

Leafy Greens

Greens, greens, greens! Spring is associated with the color green, and eating leafy green vegetables is especially important this time of year. Spinach and lettuce are usually the first to arrive where I am. Spring is a time of cleansing and renewing and greens do just that for us. They are loaded with calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, zinc and vitamins A, C, E and K. Tons of fiber, folic acid and chlorophyll. They aid in blood purification, cleared congestion, especially in the lungs, improved liver, gallbladder and kidney function, cancer prevention and they strengthen the immune system.


I am in love with spinach and strawberry salad right now! I’ve eaten it four times this week.  See, nature gives us things that are perfect together. Strawberries are so good and they contain tons of vitamin C, fiber and particularly high levels of the antioxidants called polyphenols.


Cliantro is a tasty herb (I really love the way it smells too) with great health benefits. It helps to detox heavy metals such as mercury and lead from your brain and body. It is also a strong anti-inflammatory medicinal herb and has been found to lower anxiety and it is antibacterial and anti-fungal, among other things. It is great with Thai food or Mexican food. A good pico de gallo recipe to make next time you have tacos is chopped tomato, avocado, onion, and cilantro with a sprinkling of garlic salt and some lime juice. You can also add cilantro to a smoothie, juice or make a tea from it. 

No time is better than now to start getting out to your local farmers market or sign up for a CSA in your area and stock up on nutritious, fresh, local superfoods. 

For those of you in the Manteno, Illinois area check out Riverfront Berry Farm. They just started a CSA with a drop-off weekly in Manteno. They grow a huge variety of fruits and vegetables and their CSA is priced super reasonably. This is a convenient way to add more nutritious food to your diet as well as support the local economy.  

Thursday, April 18, 2013

blueberry muffin oatmeal

So I know one of my more recent posts is an oatmeal recipe, but me and my now 2 year old, Josselyn, usually have oatmeal at least 3-4 times a week for breakfast, so it's a big part of our life. And you know, sometimes you want more of a treat for breakfast, like a muffin. Perhaps a blueberry muffin...but they are a tad more of a pain to prepare on any 'ole weekday than our usual bowls of oatmeal. Plus oatmeal is a whole grain and is probably gonna have less sugar than most muffin recipes. So I present to you...blueberry muffin oatmeal! Quick to make, healthy and wholesome, yet a little more decadent than your average oatmeal.

Blueberry Muffin Oatmeal
Makes enough for a pregnant woman (oh, did I forget to mention that?) and a 2 year old that loves oatmeal.

1 cup quick oats or rolled oats
1 and 3/4 cup water
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk or milk of choice
Splash of pure vanilla extract
Sprinkle of salt
3/4 cup blueberries (I've been using frozen since they aren't in season yet)
Little zest of a lemon
1-2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
Butter and brown sugar (optional for topping)

Put oats, water and unsweetened almond milk into pot and heat on medium/high until it starts to simmer. Stir and turn heat down a bit (if you are using rolled oats you will probably need to cook them longer, around 5-10 minutes until desired consistency).

Next add the vanilla extract and sprinkle of salt. Then stir in the blueberries and let heat through if using frozen. After that, stir in the maple syrup and lemon zest.

All done! Dish out into bowls and top with a little bit of butter and brown sugar to make it extra special.

Those are thumbs up for the oatmeal.
Not the other thing it looks like it could be.
Too good to eat with a spoon. Must pour into mouth.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

GMO foods: a quick guide

One of my tips in video 2 of my virtual workshop, Get Fresh! Creating Natural Energy That Lasts, was to avoid GMO foods. I wanted to follow up on that and give you some more information and a quick guide on how to go about ridding GMO foods from your life.

GMO stands for genetically modified organism and…
By being able to take the genetic material from one organism and insert it into the permanent genetic code of another, biotechnologists have engineered numerous novel creations, such as potatoes with bacteria genes,  “super” pigs with human growth genes, fish with cattle growth genes, tomatoes with flounder genes, and thousands of other plants, animals and insects. (Source)
To me, this is pretty scary. Not only is this technology being done but it is being released to consumers without proper testing or labeling. Do our bodies know what to do with this “food”? Will it (or has it already) cause any long term health problems? There are sources that say yes, GMO foods will cause health problems. For example, tumors, organ disruption and infertility. You can read more about this here and here.

So not only is our health at risk directly but the rest of our organic and non-GMO crops are also at risk of contamination. Most of us can’t really control the wind from spreading the seeds of GMO crops. This is a threat to the biodiversity of “traditional” and heirloom varieties of vegetables, fruits, legumes etc (and this is the food we need the most of!).

The good news is, every time we go to the grocery store and purchase something we are voting. The more of a demand for non-GMO products and/or labeling, the more likely it is that companies will change. In fact, this has already been happening in countries outside of the US.

So how can you do this? Here are 3 simple tips to keep you and your family healthy.

Stay away from processed foods. The less you eat foods that are unlike the original plant or animal that they came from, the less you will be exposed to GMO foods. Make more from scratch. Things like granola bars, muffins, breakfast porridges, roasted vegetables, rice pilaf etc. are easy to make and not only will you know what’s in your food but you will likely save money also.

Buy organic. Will most of us go completely without any processed foods? Probably  not. So, for things like bread, almond milk, flours, sugars or sweeteners etc. what you can do is buy organic. Organic foods cannot contain GMO’s. This goes for whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, dairy, eggs and meat also. Yet another reason money spent on organic food is worth it.

Download a shopper’s guide that lists brand names that do or don’t contain GMO ingredients. You can find a good one at True Food Now. They have a PDF you can download and also a Free app for iphone, ipad, ipod touch and android called “True Food”.