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Over the past couple of months I have been doing food demonstrations educating people on how to increase the benefits of particular foods through cooking techniques. So far I have averaged about one demonstration a month. Each one I put together helps me to gain the supervised hours I need to get my license to practice as a nutrition specialist in the state of Maryland.

Back in July, my classmate Maureen and I led a fermentation workshop. We were able to share what we’ve learned regarding the benefits of eating fermented foods. Participants went home with fermented kefir, sauerkraut, ketchup, and fermented fruit and vegetable drinks known as kvasses.

In August I did a cooking demonstration at the Mt Rainier’s Farmer’s Market. There I tried to emphasize quick and easy recipes that involved many of the vegetables sold at the market. There was quite a bit of interest. I am sure that had nothing to do with the free food samples. To learn more about that day – please go to my YouTube page and see the slide show

September I hosted a canning party  where we canned applesauce and some spicy salsa. Canning is a great option if you have a garden and want to enjoy the fruits of your harvest later in the year.

Just last weekend I gave a workshop at a church in Baltimore on apples – how to serve them fresh and cook them in both savory and sweet dishes. For me, the best part of the workshop was when the 5-year old boy wanted to be the first to try the green smoothie made of kale, ginger, banana and apple, and then he immediately asked for seconds!

I have been lining up engagements throughout October and November. If you know of a group that’s eager to learn, perhaps we can arrange something!


If you live on the anywhere in the northern US you know that apple season is here! Many varieties of apples are ready for harvesting.Farmers Market-112

Nutritionally speaking, apples are rich in flavonoids, a class of phytochemicals that act as antioxidants and protect the body against cancer. They are also rich in vitamin C and other antioxidants (Wood, R., 2010).  Quercitin, a major component of apple peels, has been associated with a decreased risk in type II diabetes in a number of nutritional studies (Boyer & Liu, 2004).

Why eat foods rich in antioxidants?

If you cut open an apple and leave it on the counter for an hour, you’ll see that it “ages;” it discolors and softens and becomes less appealing to eat. This browning process is called oxidation; it is akin to what takes place in your body when “free radicals” are allowed to multiply and travel liberally.

Free radicals are oxygen and nitrogen based molecules with unpaired electrons; they are produced by a number of metabolic processes in the body. Left on their own free radicals attack healthy cells trying to find an electron to make them complete. Antioxidants help to keep the peace – they prevent free radicals from destroying other cells by giving them a positive electron and neutralizing them  before they can harm other cells.

Studies have shown that a diet rich in antioxidants can help prevent cancer and chronic diseases, like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and asthma. (Boyer & Liu, 2004 and Hyson, 2011).

Fresh apples with the peels on contain the most phytochemical value.  Be certain to wash the skin thoroughly. When baking, don’t throw away the peels, use them in your dish to add fiber and phytonutrients.


Boyer, J. and Liu R. H. (2004). Apple phytochemicals and their health benefits. Nutrition Journal 2004, 3:5. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-3-5

Hyson, D. A. (2011). A comprehensive review of apples and apple components and their relationship to human health. Advances in Nutrition 2(5): 408–420. doi: 10.3945/an.111.000513

Robinson, Jo (2013-06-04). Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health (p. 229). Little, Brown and Company. Kindle Edition.

Wood, R. (2010). The new whole foods encyclopedia. Penguin Group: New York., NY.

Hi all, I know you haven’t heard much from me lately… it’s just that I have been busy wrapping up my coursework and planning my next moves. I can tell you that I have graduated and now have my Master of Science from Maryland University of Integrative Health, formerly known as Tai Sophia Institute. While it feels good to leave the course work behind, I am working diligently on accumulating about 500 more supervised hours for my license.

In the coming weeks I will give you more details about how I am continuing to see clients – now in Hyattsville, MD, and by Skype.  But for now, I just wanted you to know I am still here and will be in touch soon!


In Mt Rainier, MD, where I have lived for the past 6 years many of my neighbors have gardens in their front yards. This morning while I was out walking I was impressed by the bumper crop of kale that many neighbors have flourishing in their yards. What a great  vegetable to have on hand; it’s packed with fiber and calcium and often ranks within the top ten of the most nutritious vegetables.

Photo Credit: Lisa Missenda

Photo Credit: Lisa Missenda

Kale is a member of the Brassica family (the same family as cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower). It is a rather hearty plant and can withstand frost and even snow. You can find it year round – but in the DC area, sometimes I find that the winter Kale taste best.

When I was a kid we never ate kale. I don’t know if I would have liked its strong taste. As an adult, I can’t get enough of it. Most of my neighbors are growing “dinosaur” kale, also known as lacinato kale. It’s a sweeter and milder version with narrow dark green leaves.

Kale is a fantastic source of vitamin C and B6 (pyridoxine, pyridoxal, or pyridoxamine, or pyridoxine hydrochloride). It also contains manganese, calcium and phosphorous. In just one cup of kale — look at the vitamins you’ll get:


Amounts Per Serving


%Daily Value

Vitamin A

17709 IU


Vitamin C



Vitamin D



Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol)



Vitamin K












Vitamin B6






Vitamin B12



Pantothenic Acid




.5 mg


.4 mg


































data from Self Nutrition Data website.

Here are a few ways of making Kale more appetizing for the inexperienced tongue…

So, while the labels placed on foods should be helping us to make better choices, sometimes they offer contradictory statements that are open to interpretation.

I live in the Washington DC area where we have a number of grocery stores that feature health foods. Yes Organic Market, My Organic Market, the Tacoma Park-Silver Spring Coop, and of course Whole Foods all carry a number of whole foods and supplements to support health – which is not to say that every single thing that is sold in these stores is healthy. And it’s often in these stores where label reading is somewhat more complicated.



As consumers we sometimes are fooled into thinking that foods that sport labels saying they are “natural,” and “organic” are automatically healthy.  But actually, under Food and Drug Association (FDA) policy, food manufacturers can use the label “natural” when the product has no synthetic and artificial ingredients. The organic label requires that the product meet the standards set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) National Organic Program. Nothing in the FDA guidelines or the USDA’s standards test for the health supporting qualities of the product in question.



Defined by regulation, the Label “healthy” means that the product must meet certain criteria, which limits amounts of fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium that the product can contain. Additionally, the food must contain minimum amounts of vitamins, minerals or other beneficial nutrients.

So the next time your mouth starts watering when you see some kind of frozen confection that is “organic” and “all natural,” don’t assume you’re making a healthy choice. Remember to read past those claims that suck you in! Read the label and especially take note of the sugars and fats you might be taking in (in the name of virtuous eating)!

Read more at: 

Related posts:



The body builds and breaks down bone in a dynamic process that acts to distribute calcium where blood and tissues most need it. As the body ages, more bone is broken down than is built, resulting in normal bone loss. Osteoporosis is characterized by losing too much bone and/or your body’s ability to make bone such that it becomes brittle and easily broken. Under a microscope healthy bone looks like a honeycomb; with osteoporosis, bone density and strength are lost as the hollow spaces of the honeycomb become much larger. 

It is true that one of the risk factors for osteoporosis is a diet low in calcium. Other risk factors include:

  • Age – after 50 risk increases
  • Being female (more women are affected than men)
  • Menopause
  • Family history
  • Low body weight or being small and thin
  • Broken bones
  • Loss of height
  • Not enough calcium and vitamin D
  • Not enough fruits & vegetables in the diet
  • Too much protein, sodium and caffeine
  • An inactive lifestyle in the diet
  • Smoking
  • Consuming too much alcohol
  • weight loss
  • Medications and diseases that cause an increased risk

Obviously, some of these risks are preventable and others are not. A diet rich in vegetables, fruits and sources of calcium are key to the prevention of osteoporosis. Exercise is also key. Here are some lifestyle tips that you should consider if you fear you might be at risk:

  • Movement and the influence of gravity play a key role in the body’s process of building bones. It’s important to get 30 minutes of weight-bearing exercise like walking, jumping, jogging or running most days of the week, and muscle strengthening exercise 2-3 days per week.
  • Balance exercise like yoga, tai chi and dancing can also help prevent falling.

Other lifestyle choices that lead to better bone health include:

  • Limiting caffeine intake to 3 cups or less per day because caffeine can promote calcium excretion; and carbonated caffeine drinks may interfere with phosphorus/calcium balance.
  • Limiting alcohol intake to less than 2-3 drinks per day is also important because excess alcohol can lead to bone loss, and excessive drinking can promote loss of balance and falling.

Additionally, – vitamin D and calcium supplementation may be needed. If you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis or osteopenia, diet plays a big role and there is plenty of nutritional therapies that can help.

Contact me to make an appointment:

Stay tuned for other posts on mineral and vitamin support for bone health.


Risk factors from the National Osteoporosis Foundation website: and from the National Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center 

The organic label may help you to choose one product over another – but there are at least 4 tiers involved in organic labeling.



Food manufacturers can use 100% Organic label if: the product contains 100% organically produced ingredients; any added water and salt are ingredients that cannot be identified as organic. If 100% organic, the label may include the USDA organic label, or an organic label from another certifying agent.

A food label may simply say “Organic.” To use this label, the product must contain a minimum of 95% organic ingredients (excluding added water and salt). Additionally, the product cannot contain sulfites; and may contain a maximum of 5% non-organically produced agricultural products. These products have to include an ingredient statement listing ingredients as organic and include the certifying agent, and can include the USDA organic seal, or a seal from the certifying agent.

Food manufacturers can claim that their products are “made with organic ingredients” if the product contains at least 70% organic ingredients. It cannot contain sulfites (except wine), and may contain up to 30% of nonorganic ingredients. These products cannot carry the USDA organic seal.

And finally, products can be labeled as containing “some organic ingredients” and identify the organic ingredients are “organic” in the ingredients statement. Again, water and salt cannot be included in organic materials and a producer may opt to label the percentage of organic ingredients which can be less than 70%. This product may also contain over 30% nonorganically produced agricultural ingredients.    

Information about Organic Standards is available from the U.S. Department of Agriculture at:

Related posts:

If you are a woman over 5o years old living in the United States, chances are high that you’ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis or 0steopenia, and have been told that you should be taking calcium.

The truth is that most U.S. women – are told at some point in their life to take calcium supplements. Obviously, calcium is important to bone health, so it’s important to assess how much you are getting from your diet as compared to the daily recommendations.

Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Calcium *

Age Male Female Pregnant Lactating
4–8 yrs 1,000 mg 1,000 mg
9–13 yrs 1,300 mg 1,300 mg
14–18 yrs 1,300 mg 1,300 mg 1,300 mg 1,300 mg
19–50 yrs 1,000 mg 1,000 mg 1,000 mg 1,000 mg
71+ yrs 1,200 mg 1,200 mg

There are plenty of sources for calcium in food — and if we had enough of each of these in our diet we might not need supplements – here are some examples:

  • Broccoli – 2 stalks – 250 mg
  • Sardines (with bones) – half a can (55 g) – 200 mg Tofu – 3 oz – 110 mg
  • Yogurt – 6 oz – 300 mg
  • Greens – 6 oz – 225 mg
  • Almonds – 3 oz – 210 mg
  • Sesame seeds – 2 oz – 75 mg
  • Beans – 1 cup – 125 mg
  • Salmon – 3 oz – 240 mg
  • Cheese – 2 oz – 500 mg
  • Milk – 6 oz – 225 mg

Just a note about leafy greens: Kale, okra, Chinese cabbage, broccoli; and turnip, collard, dandelion and mustard greens are all good sources of calcium. But Spinach and chard contain calcium and oxalic acid which combine to form calcium oxalate, a chemical salt that makes calcium less available for use in the body; serve these with nuts or seeds to make calcium more accessible.

Mix of vitamins


If your diet does not contain enough calcium, you may want to consider taking a supplement. Here are a few things you should know:

Balance calcium intake with that of other minerals. Since calcium is also an electrolyte, calcium intake must be balanced with other electrolytes like magnesium, sodium and phosphorous. Without balance several things can go wrong. For example, If calcium levels in the blood exceed phosphorus levels, kidney function declines and causes problems for blood circulation, and even more bone loss. 

Balancing calcium with vitamin D. Researcher Mark Bolland reviewed randomized studies to suggest that calcium supplements without co-administered vitamin D were associated with an increased incidence of heart attack in women over 50 (see reference below).

Check other medications that can negatively affect calcium absorption. Steroids can interfere with calcium absorption as can other medications. Always ask your doctor before beginning to take supplements on a regular basis.

Related posts:


to read more about the whole food approach to addressing bone health, see: Colbin, A. (2009). The whole-food guide to strong bones: A holistic approach. New Harbinger Publications, Inc: New York, NY.

Bolland, M. J., Avenell,  A., Baron, J. A., Grey, A., MacLennan, G.S., Gamble, G.D., Reid, I.R. (2010).  Effect of calcium supplements on risk of myocardial infarction and cardiovascular events: meta-analysis. British Medical Journal. 341:c6923.


See also the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Information Center:

Protein-rich Breakfast #11Part of the protein-rich breakfast dozen


  • 1/2 cup ice
  • 1/2 cup blueberries ($5.99/qt. depending on season)
  • 1/2 banana ($.60/ lb.)
  • 1/2 c whole milk yogurt has 13 g protein; $3.49/qt.
  • (optional) 1 tablespoon of peanut butter (2.5 grams protein; $4.99 8 oz jar);

How to: In a blender add all ingredients and blend until smooth.

total protein 15.5 with peanut butter and 13 g without; total cost $15.07 with peanut butter and $10.16 without.





Protein-rich Breakfast #9Part of the protein-rich breakfast dozen


  • 2 eggs (12 g protein; $3.49/dozen)
  • pinch of salt and black pepper to taste;
  • 1 ounce of grated cheddar cheese (4 g protein; $4.89/lb);
  • ½ c mushrooms (1 g protein; $5.00/lb)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

How to: Whisk together eggs with a pinch of salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl. Clean and slice mushrooms into thin strips. Grate cheddar cheese. Slice mushrooms into thin strips. Heat oil in a frying pan and when it is warm add the eggs to the pan. Watch as edges of the egg mixture solidify. When edges harden carefully flip the egg onto its uncooked side and add the sliced mushrooms and cheese. Reduce heat and cook for 3 minutes while cheese inside the omelette melts.

17 grams protein; total cost: $13.38.

Health & Nutrition Counseling

An integrative approach to health and nutrition which includes Earth consciousness.


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