Please Watch Jamie Oliver

There’s a new television show starting one week from today: “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.” I think you guys should watch.

Jamie Oliver is a chef from England who has written many cookbooks. He spends a lot of his time and efforts campaigning for better meals in schools and educating both Europeans and Americans on nutrition and the importance of learning how to cook your own food.

“Food Revolution” will take place in Huntington, West Virginia. Huntington was recently named the unhealthiest city in the country. This is the first generation of children not expected to live as long as their parents, purely because their diets will lead them to diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and other serious health problems. Jamie’s goal is to get Huntington off that list by transforming the way its inhabitants eat in the home, schools and workplace, and then to inspire other cities in America to alter the way they think about food and nutrition as well.

Here is a preview of the show:

This show is important for so many reasons. We can all learn something from Jamie, and he will increase awareness as to exactly what America’s poor diet decisions are doing to our health. If the show is a success, maybe other schools and families ad cities will be inspired to change the way they eat as well. So please watch, because the issue concerns all of us! There is also a petition you can sign. Jamie is trying to get as many signatures as possible on a petition for more nutritious meals in schools and funding to keep cooking skills alive. After the show airs, he will take the petition to the White House to show the President and First Lady how strongly the Americans feel about this issue.

So, set your DVR or Ti-Vo and plan on watching Jamie work his magic in the unhealthiest city in America!


Irish Meal

Every year on St. Patrick’s Day, my mom makes corned beef and cabbage for dinner. It is a tradition I have grown to really appreciate, because it only comes once a year and the meal is so delicious! Plus, Ed loves it. I make quite a few vegetarian or fish dinners, which he likes, but anytime I do a big meat and potatoes meal he’s extra happy. Anyway, our dinner turned out pretty delicious so I thought I’d share some of the recipes with you! I apologize for the bad photos... still using my iphone until I find the time to research which new camera I should buy since our old one finally broke (any suggestions are welcomed...).

Corned Beef & Cabbage

I got my corned beef at Oliver’s Meat Market on 6th & Williams St. in Denver. It’s a few blocks from our house and I love the guys that work there! It is family owned and run and they are always so friendly and helpful. I picked up some red potatoes and cabbage at Vitamin Cottage and a Colorado-grown onion at In Season Local Market (if you live in Denver and haven’t been to this place, I highly recommend it – they only sell things that are grown locally and organically! And, they're going to start FREE delivery!). The guy at Oliver’s told me exactly how to cook the corned beef and vegetables. The past three years I’ve used the crock pot, but this year I upgraded to my new Le Creuset dutch oven (awesome wedding gift, by the way). I know it’s not difficult to cook corned beef and cabbage, but keep in mind that a) I’m not a chef and don’t know much about cooking at all and b) I’ve only used my dutch oven once before!

I rinsed the corned beef and put it into the dutch oven, covered it with water, and added bay leaves, peppercorns and cloves. I brought it to a boil on the stovetop, then transferred it to the oven. Oven was set at 275 degrees.

After about 3 ½ hours, I added the red potatoes (halved) and the sliced onion. Another half hour later I added the chopped cabbage, and after about 4 ½ hours total, it was ready! I checked it every hour or so to make sure there was enough water, turn the meat, etc. This was so much better than my typical crock pot recipe because I could add the veggies at the end so the potatoes weren’t mushy and the cabbage was still crispy.

Irish Soda Bread

I used a recipe from The Healthy Irishman (follow him on Twitter here). After lots of research, I chose his soda bread recipe because it was not only the most basic, but also the most authentic. I found out that traditionally, Irish soda bread didn’t include butter, sugar, or any other “extras” that people now add. It was flour, baking soda, salt and buttermilk. I used these ingredients, substituting whole wheat flour for regular flour, and also added some caraway seeds and currants to give it a little flavor. I made my own buttermilk using lemon juice and raw milk. This was absolutely the easiest bread I’ve ever made. Bread can be intimidating, but this was not. I highly recommend it! Mine turned out a little dry, but Irish soda bread is usually dry, and it was still really tasty. Recipe is here. We ate this for breakfast today, toasted, and it was still really good.

Ed in his Irish attire - he loved the dinner!


I couldn’t find an Irish dessert that looked appetizing enough to make. All of the traditional Irish desserts were too labor-intensive, and the other ones I found were things like green cupcakes or shamrock cookies. Maybe if we were having a party I’d take the time to make those, but not for just Ed and me. So, instead I made a fig and banana parfait recipe I got from Alison Anton of Anton Health & Nutrition. Not exactly Irish, but healthy and delicious so it worked.

The recipe is here. I used a banana instead of the 2 plums, and I used macadamia nuts, not cashews, for the nut cream. For some reason my nut cream didn’t turn out light and fluffy and pretty like hers did… not sure what I did wrong, but it still tasted amazing and even Ed liked the healthy dessert!

So, that was our St. Paddy’s Day meal… I’m guessing corned beef went on sale today, so if you missed out on a traditional Irish meal, there’s still time to make it!



Zinc is an important nutrient. It helps regulate genetic activity and is important for maintaining balanced blood sugar. Zinc is involved in carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism. There are no specific storage sites for zinc inside our bodies, so we need to continuously include it in our diet. Zinc also is vital for healthy skin because it helps repair and renew skin cells. In women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, zinc is especially important for the proper development and growth of the baby. Anyone who suffers from inflammation (allergies, chronic pain, and arthritis are just a few of the health problems associated with inflammation) requires adequate amounts of zinc to help balance their body.

Zinc deficiencies can lead to weakened immunity, lack of appetite, hair loss, difficulty with taste and smell, depression, and mental and physical growth issues in infants and children. Many people do not even realize they are zinc-deficient until a doctor or nutritionist notices they have symptoms. Some symptoms include anemia, dandruff, arthritis, eczema, acne, dry skin rashes, diarrhea, hair loss, irregular menstrual periods, preeclampsia in pregnancy and reduced fertility.

As usual, I recommend getting your zinc from whole food sources. Great sources of zinc include liver, lamb, spinach, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, shrimp, crimini mushrooms, beans, lentils, sea vegetables, basil, thyme, squash, asparagus, chard, mustard greens, collard greens and broccoli.

Cooking and processing foods causes some zinc to be destroyed, depending on the food. For example, the processing of flour kills off about 75% of all zinc. This is the same flour used in most typical breads, pastas and baked goods. Again, look for whole food (not processed food) sources of zinc!

Some people may be getting enough zinc from their diet, but still have a deficiency. This happens for a few different reasons. A damaged digestive tract and issues with abnormal bowels can lead to a zinc deficiency. People who exercise intensely (such as athletes) lose a lot of zinc through sweating. There are also certain medications that interfere with zinc absorption, including blood pressure medications, antacids such as Zantac, birth control pills, and some antibiotics used to treat things like acne or urinary tract infections. If you fall into one of the above categories, you may need to supplement your diet with zinc in some way.

How to Know if You’re Deficient

Zinc deficiency is especially common in the elderly, athletes, or people who have certain diseases or digestive issues. If you have any of the symptoms listed above, I recommend doing further research to see if you need to increase zinc in your diet. There is an at-home test you can perform at home to see if you’re deficient. Purchase Zinc Tally or any other zinc solution designed for testing zinc inside your body (I think you can order this from Amazon). Do not eat or drink for one hour, and then drink a big sip of it and swish inside your mouth for 10 seconds. Then spit it out or swallow it. If you taste nothing, that indicates you have a zinc deficiency. If you taste something, you have good zinc levels. If you taste a strong, terrible flavor right away (such that you want to spit it out), that indicates you have a great zinc levels. This is a good thing to do with your kids too – even if they don’t have clear signs of zinc deficiency, kids tend to have limited diets and you don’t really want to mess around with being zinc-deficient.


Guest Blogging at Flee Fly Flown!

Hi Guys!

I am honored to be guest blogging over at the amazing travel blog Flee Fly Flown today!

So, fly on over there and check out my suggestions for healthy travels!

Flee Fly Flown Guest Blog Post


Eating Before Bed & Your Digestion

Some of you are nurses and work long days, get home late, and are starving. Others are night students and after a full day of work and class, you need to eat something before bed. Maybe you just tend to work straight through dinner and eat something when you get home late at night. We’ve all found ourselves in this situation at one time or another. So what should you do? Eat then sleep? Will it affect your digestion? Will it affect your sleep? Which foods are best?

When you sleep, your entire body is resting. If you try to sleep on a full stomach, your body becomes confused. What should it do? Digest, or sleep? It’s tough to do both at once, and going to bed immediately after eating will likely cause interruptions in both digestion and sleep. Remember when I talked about the fight or flight response? Well, it applies here. Your entire body focuses on one thing at once, sometimes at the expense of others. If your body is focusing on digestion, your sleep will be less than perfect, and vice versa.

I know from personal experience that if I eat a big dinner right before bed, I always wake up a few hours later. Sometimes I wake up thirsty and have to chug two glasses of water – a sign that my dinner was too high in sodium (this happens mostly when I have eaten out rather than at home). Other times I just feel like I have a big lump sitting in my stomach. It helps if I get up and walk around a bit to get the digestion moving again, but I hate to do this at the expense of my sleep.

One key component of digestion is excretion of anything that is not absorbed and utilized by the body. Therefore, expect to be woken up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom if you eat right before bed. If you don’t get up to go to the bathroom, you may still feel full or bloated in the morning. Breakfast may not be the most appealing idea, and skipping breakfast can lead to nutrient imbalances throughout the entire day. This is a pattern we should all try to avoid, because it creates a body out of balance and weakens immunity.

If you must eat something before bed, try to avoid sugars and other carbohydrates, including grains, ice cream, processed foods and alcohol. These will spike your blood sugar, which makes it difficult to relax, unwind and fall asleep. This can then lead to dramatic drops in blood sugar, and you may even wake up a few hours later feeling hungry or out of balance again. Alcohol in particular inhibits your body from entering the deepest stages of sleep.

Instead, eat something that is easily digested and won’t mess with your blood sugar, such as veggies dipped in hummus, a small bowl of soup, or some nuts and seeds. Sliced apples dipped in a nut butter would be a good snack, as would a few pieces of cheese or some brown rice with cooked vegetables. Avoid foods that tend to make you feel bloated or gassy (common ones could be anything containing dairy or gluten). Also, chew slowly and thoroughly, because the enzymes in our mouth are the first step in proper digestion. When food enters the stomach not fully chewed, our stomach must work harder to break it down and indigestion can occur.

I recommend bringing a snack to work or school with you. This will help you avoid the situation of coming home and being both exhausted and starving. Even if you just keep some snacks in your car, eating on your drive home is better than eating right before you get into bed. I do not recommend stopping at a drive through or a gas station to get food on your drive home… but things like dried fruit, nuts or snack bars are easy to keep in your car (all-natural snack bars with minimal ingredients are best, as some of the more processed bars contain unhealthy sugars and oils). Just keep a soft cooler in the back seat and reload it each week. Be sure to keep some waters in your car too.

If you are able to eat several hours before bed, be sure to include some protein in that snack or meal. The tryptophan in protein breaks down into serotonin, which makes us feel calm, relaxed and in control. When we don’t get enough tryptophan in our diet, serotonin levels drop and this leads to depression, anxiety, insecurity, hyperactivity, insomnia and pain. Naturals sources of tryptophan include bananas, leafy greens, meat, pineapple, avocado, eggs, sesame and pumpkin seeds and lentils. Tryptophan is also a precursor to melatonin, which is stimulated by darkness and regulates our sleep cycles by causing drowsiness. Some people even take natural melatonin supplements to help them sleep at night.

The bottom line: If at all possible, bring some healthy snacks to work or school and try to eat a few hours before bedtime. If this isn’t possible, eat a small, healthy snack that is low in sugar and carbohydrates right before bed. Plan on having a large, healthy breakfast first thing in the morning to help replenish your body with nutrients and energize you for the day. Good luck!