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Many of us have had the experience of suffering through a miserable cold only to be brought back to life by someone’s version of grandma’s chicken soup. Grandmothers all over the world make wonderful soups from scratch, and almost all of them start with bone broth, an often forgotten, not-so-secret-formula for supporting optimal health.

chicken bone broth, photo: Kathy McNeely

chicken bone broth, photo: Kathy McNeely

The bones used to make bone broth are the cartilage-containing joints from feet and necks, as well as the large bones (legs, shoulders, etc) that contain marrow. The cartilage we ingest in bone broth activates natural killer cells and macrophages, some of the first lines of defense in the human immune system. The marrow provides the fatty acids needed for to support brain function, growth and to boost immunity (Fallon Morell, 2014, p. 26). Adding spices to bone broth will also help trigger the release of fluid in the mouth, throat, and lungs, helping to thin respiratory mucus making it easier to expel.

Bone broths are packed with nutrition in the form of amino acids and minerals. One of bone broth’s abundant amino acids, glycine, supports the body’s detoxification processes, and is used to synthesize hemoglobin to build blood and bile salts, needed to digest fats. Another amino acid, proline, promotes good skin health, especially when the body’s vitamin C intake is high. While the marrow and cartilage cook, minerals like calcium, magnesium and phosphate and nutrients like glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are released into the broth. These nutrients help to maintain strong bones and to fight inflammation in the body.

Because bone broth is made with connective tissues laden with collagen, when it cools, it congeals into gelatin (McGee, 2007). While most cooked foods are a little harder to digest than raw foods, gelatin is a liquid-attracting colloid; it facilitates digestion by attracting digestive juices to food in the small intestine. Gelatin is also healing for the digestive tract because it contains glutamine, an amino acid that serves as the preferred fuel for the small intestine.


Gelatin from Chicken bone stock. Photo by Kathy McNeely

In her book, Nourishing Broth, Sally Fallon Morell details a long history of research on the healing properties of gelatin going back to the Napoleonic Wars. This research came to a screeching halt in the mid-1900’s when interest shifted toward individual vitamins and minerals. The shift also coincided with a time in history when commercially produced MSG became much more widespread in packaged bouillon cubes and canned soups.

If you are still not convinced of the value of bone broth, consider this, you can make a gallon of super-nutritious bone broth for as little as $5.00. Traditionally, grandma’s great soup recipe began with a bone broth made from bits and scraps because she never let anything go to waste. She would ask the butcher for feet, knuckles, necks and backs because she knew these extras were inexpensive. She saved chicken and turkey carcasses, from making that big Sunday spread and she spent the better part of a day whipping up a huge batch of bone broth to freeze and reuse as a base ingredient for future sauces, gravies and soups.

Read more about the benefits of bone broth:

Fallon Morell, S. (2014). Nourishing broth: An old-fashioned remedy for the modern world (p. 9). Grand Central Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Fallon Morell, S. (2000). Broth is beautiful. The Weston Price Foundation. Retrieved January 25, 2015:

McGee, H. (2007). On food and cooking: The science and lore of the kitchen. Scribner. Kindle Edition. (Kindle Locations 3635-3641).

Nourished Kitchen blog (2014). Traditional foods 101: Bone broth, broth & stocks. Retrieved January 25, 2015:

As some of my close friends could attest, up to a year after my return from living in rural Nicaragua, a trip to a supermarket was traumatic for me; I would become catatonic after a simple trip down the breakfast aisle at the local grocery store. There were just so many boxes, so much stuff to read and way too many choices. It took me several years and a lot of research to realize that in spite of all those apparent choices, with most any purchase of cereal, I was handing money over to one of four global food corporations.

According to Food and Water Watch, Kellogg Co., General Mills, PepsiCo and Post Foods control 79.9 percent of cereal sales, making shoppers hard pressed to find a box of cereal that is not owned by one of these big manufacturers. So, guess what? As long as our hard-earned dollars are primarily going to huge food companies, the real “choices” we are left with in the cereal aisle are more about how much sugar, artificial flavorings and pesticides we want to ingest first thing in the morning.

Nutritionally, most of the cereals that populate the breakfast aisles of grocery stores are loaded with highly refined carbohydrates that may satisfy you for a couple of hours, but lack enough grams of protein to get you past 11am. I am a big advocate for a good, high protein breakfasts. Moreover, most cereals are made with corn or wheat, two grains that dominate a nutritionist’s list of common allergens, and the farmers’ lists of crops needing the highest quantities of pesticides. To learn more about the cereals’ typical ingredients, see: Do I know what I’m eating?

I don’t watch a lot of broadcast television – so I have been isolated from most of the marketing that TV-watching-consumers see daily… but I have been taken in by more than one supermarket display…. The displays at the ends of the aisles (I call them end-caps) in supermarkets are highly valued supermarket real estate; these end-cap displays encourage impulse purchases.

Think about it – items offered on end-caps are not lined up with other options – so you as a consumer no longer have the handy capacity to compare prices with similar products. More than once my assumption has been that items displayed on end-caps are sale items and the best deal. According to Food and Water Watch, more than one-sixth of grocery purchases are tied to brand display advertisements, which are typically some of the most expensive items.

When it comes to breakfast don’t be taken in by marketing campaigns sponsored by one of 4 major food industries. Here are some basic rules:

  1. Eat breakfast.
  2. Make sure that protein is featured in your breakfast.
  3. Limit added sugars in your breakfast choices.
  4. Eat breakfast within an hour of waking.
  5. Drink coffee or other caffeinated beverages only after you have “broken your fast” (I always advice to ensure that there is at least some kind of food in your stomach before taking in caffeine).

To find out more about why I give this advice, subscribe to my blog.

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.

Since 1994 the nutrition facts label has become standard fare on all packaged foods. It was mandated for most foods sold in the U.S. under provisions from the 1990 Nutrition Labeling and Education Act, which obliged food companies to label the content of all packaged foods. Remember that book, The End of Overeating? This is the book that inspired Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move program? It’s author, Dr. David Kessler, was the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the early 90’s, and was responsible for developing the nutrition labels that we’ve come t know and expect on the foods we eat.



The label outlines several important facts, first and foremost – serving size. This is the most likely aspect of the label that will confuse people. Many tend to jump right past the serving size and look only at the calories, or the sodium or the sugar included. As a society people in the U.S. tend to supersize everything. Compared to our grandparents, we eat our food off of bigger plates, and out of bigger packages; and we drink our drinks out of larger glasses. So what we’ve come to expect as a “normal” serving size for even breakfast cereal might likely count as two or two-and-a-half servings.

Calories are listed next. As long as we have the serving size estimated correctly calories are just what they are. When the portion size is confused – the calories consumed can be much greater. It’s also worth mentioning that most of the labels include the percentage of a nutrient available in the food based on the “daily value.”  And this daily value is based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Most people in the U.S. have occupations that keep them sedentary for a good part of the day, so their caloric need might be well below 2,000 calories. Still, one can roughly gauge that if she gets 20% of her daily value of protein at breakfast – she’ll want to be looking for the remaining 80% of protein in other meal options.

The Nutrition Information Label will always list total fat, sodium, carbohydrates and protein. Other components such as calories, calories from fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium carbohydrates, fiber, sugars, protein, vitamin A vitamin C, calcium and iron are usually show, but may not show up on the label if they are not present.

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I have been a health and wellness coach part-time since 2009. I was originally drawn to study at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) in 2008 because I noticed trends of how food choices contributed to the state of a person’s health. Working in international policy – I became concerned that some of our worst eating habits in the U.S. were quickly being exported to other countries. From 1999-2005 I traveled quite a bit and I still remember the shock I felt when a Kenyan doctor in Nairobi told me that Kenyans really had no history of heart disease until the appearance of fast food restaurants in the capital. I knew that my advocacy work had to center around education so that people can make good food choices – both for themselves and for the people in their lives. I also believe that the more people know – the more public policy on the national and international levels can be impacted to reflect best practices.

In 2009 I graduated from IIN and began Hearty Nutrition, a part time practice – coaching people on changing their eating habits. I loved seeing people implement small changes that made a big difference in their lives. IIN really gave me a good survey of a lot of dietary theory out there – and gave me a bit of business training to get up and going. As time went on, I read more and found that there are a lot of confusing messages out there that people are trying to decipher. More and more, my clients were asking for detailed information about the chemical impact of food as well as vitamin and mineral deficiencies. I knew that I wanted to understand all these systems and that I simply had to learn more of the science of nutrition.

Most nutrition degrees follow the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) guidelines. I learned quite quickly through my international advocacy work that the USDA has a duel role – to educate on good nutrition and to promote U.S. agriculture (agribusiness) at home and abroad. The truth is that most of the time the USDA tends to do a much better job of promoting agribusiness than it does in educating the public on good nutrition. So – when I began looking for a way to learn the evidence base of my nutritional practice, I wanted to find a place that would give me a more integrated education that includes the USDA basics while exposing me to other ways of thinking. Tai Sophia Institute fit the bill, but at that time Tai only offered herbal medicine and acupuncture classes.

In 2010 I learned that the Tai Sophia Institute was about the launch a MS in Nutrition and Integrative Health program. Tai Sophia’s approach is anchored in a wellness-based philosophy, and at the same time it emphasizes the interrelated physiological, medicinal, psychosocial, cultural, and spiritual roles of food in our lives. I enrolled in the inaugural class in 2011 and once I graduate in August, 2013, I will pursue becoming a Certified Nutrition Specialists through the Certification Board for Nutrition Specialists (CNBS) and will be licensed to practice nutrition in Maryland.

My course work has been around the biochemical, and physiological processes in the body involved in food digestion and absorption. I have also studied nutritional therapies to address disease states and nutritional needs of each stage of the life cycle. At the same time I have had the opportunity to strengthen my counseling skills through peer practice and a supervised student clinic that began February 3, 2013.

I’ve been asked what led me into health coaching because it seems so different from other work I have done. For me it is all a matter of following my heart.  In the mid 80’s and early 90’s my heart inspired me to accompany suffering people in war-torn countries; now that same heart has called me to respond to the unnecessary suffering caused by confusing health and nutrition information in a land of plenty.

Kathy in Chichicastenango, Guatemala 1993

In Guatemala from 91-96 I lived in a rural area among people who had little material wealth and little access to western medicines. What they did have was a deep understanding of the natural world. The elders of the communities I visited could brew a tea from the bark of a specific tree and help a diabetic regulate his blood sugar. Others ground flowers from another bush to treat skin rashes and lesions.

In 1995, my last year of working in Guatemala, I became involved in a medicinal plant project which began by gathering the elders from various communities to share their knowledge with one another and with community health promoters. Knowledge is power – affordable traditional remedies combined with education about simple, everyday things that people could do to prevent disease went a long way to serve people who no doctor, hospital or regimen of western medicine would ever reach.

I found myself fascinated by all I was learning; I often went to bed at night reading my copy of Where There is No Doctor. I was witnessing a very powerful transformation – I watched people take charge of their own health by incorporating new habits and practices into their lives. Nutrition played a vital role, but what seemed even more potent was people recognizing that they themselves had the power to change a lot of variables that could create a positive outcome for themselves and their family members’ health and well-being.

When I returned to the U.S. I found that people often feel very disconnected from knowledge of the natural world and that same kind of control over their health. While fantastic health care is available to those who can afford it, the health care system offers precious little education on disease prevention and easy, affordable actions to support one’s own healing. In Guatemala, while helping resource-poor communities with little access to western health care to expand their tools to stay healthy, I had no idea I was on the cutting edge of health care. Imagine what a different state the health of U.S. citizens would be in if people and communities had the simple knowledge on how to prevent disease. People might not miss as much work; they might avoid expensive hospital stays and young people wouldn’t be sentenced to formerly “adult diseases” like type II diabetes, gout and heart disease.

Nutrition is one of the easiest things to modify to bring about remarkable health benefits. I began noticing in my own diet how certain foods made me feel better than others. When I sought to deepen my knowledge in this area, I learned that most academic dietitian programs are closely tied to the USDA’s (U.S. Department of Agriculture) nutrition standards. When these standards were updated in December 2010 – they told us to “eat less,” without giving a clear picture of what to eat and what to avoid. The USDA has a dual role – it is responsible for promoting U.S. agriculture and setting U.S. nutrition guidelines. Unfortunately for us consumers, the USDA does a much better job of the former, leaving the public with lots of nutritional questions and contradictions.

In trying to find an independent source on nutrition knowledge, I found the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where I completed a year-long program in 2009 and became a certified health coach recognized by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners.

I now work with individuals investigating how they are nourished – not only by food but by the circumstances of their lives. As I watch people incorporate new practices and healthier choices, I am seeing some remarkable changes including, weight loss, more energy, better sleep and a surge of creativity around making life choices. Mostly I encourage people to follow their hearts in everything they do and to create a life full of the sustenance that truly makes their heart sing!

If you are looking for support in feeling better, truly following your bliss, or if you just want to cut down on medical expenses through making better everyday choices, you may want to talk with me about scheduling a health history consultation. And if you are thinking of a career change – talk to me to learn more about the Institute for Integrative Nutrition training program.

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is doing awesome!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,400 times in 2010. That’s about 3 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 32 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 42 posts. There were 12 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 3mb. That’s about a picture per month.

The busiest day of the year was January 6th with 70 views. The most popular post that day was Gluten-free Pancakes and Chocolate Chip Cookies .

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were, WordPress Dashboard,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for corn on the cob, kale vegetable, corn cob, truth about caffeine blog, and nutrition blog.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

  1. Gluten-free Pancakes and Chocolate Chip Cookies January 2010
  2. Recipes November 2009 3 comments
  3. Thanksgiving Holiday Survival tips: November 2010
  4. Events December 2010 1 comment
  5. Resources December 2009

Health & Nutrition Counseling

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


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