Elaine Javier

Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Access Bars Practitioner, and Catholic Homeschooling Mom and Blogger

Creating a healthier and happier world using the very best food, herbs, and holistic modalities. Let’s start healing with ease and joy physically, emotionally, and spiritually!

What Is The Role Of Health Coaches In Healthcare?

I’m Abby, a holistic health coach who graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and I’m continuing my education at Functional Nutrition. I am the founder and owner of curechoices.com.  I help people with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, hypothyroidism, type 2 diabetes, and weight loss. My friendship with Elaine started in 2016 when we became accountability coaches for each other as part of the IIN curriculum. I would like to thank her for giving me the opportunity to write in her blog.

Everyone has a reason why they want to choose their career.  It was my own health problems that motivated me to choose a career in holistic nutrition and wellness. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis in 2009, 10 months after giving birth to my second baby. When I was diagnosed, I was not happy with the idea of getting on a prescription medication for the rest of my life. I was looking into the possibilities of curing the disease. I discovered that I had to follow a disciplined protocol where I needed to make some dietary changes, along with the supplements and exercise to address the root cause of the problem. I was mentally prepared to do whatever it took to accomplish that.  Within few months I started to feel better.  I started to see the numbers of the anti-thyroid antibodies coming down and then gradually it came down to normal range.  I was able to put my Hashimoto’s in remission. In this journey of healing my disease, it dawned on me that the most important aspect of healing any disease is taking care of yourself by getting the proper nutrition, making the appropriate lifestyle changes, getting enough physical activities, and last but not least believing in yourself.

Over the last few decades there has been a significant rise in chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune diseases, food allergies, and obesity. When you visit a doctor for these kinds of illnesses, doctors work primarily to identify the symptoms and treat for the symptoms. They really don’t have enough time to dig deep to find the root cause of the problem or to find what is really going on with the patient.

This is where the role of health coaches comes in.  They can step in and provide support. The main role of a holistic health coach is to guide the clients toward a healthy lifestyle.  They help them not only with food but in all areas of their life – their relationships, spirituality, exercise, and career.  They can help their clients balance these because the imbalance of one can adversely affect the other areas.

Each person is unique with their individual requirements. One person’s physiology, cell structure, metabolism, and body structure are different from another person's. Each person has unique needs according to their age, gender, size, lifestyle, blood type, and ancestry. A holistic health coach can work according to the specific needs of their clients.  They can give you recipes and diet guidelines, exercise and lifestyle changes which can help their clients to achieve optimal health goals. Health coaches educate and support their clients throughout the process of healing.

A health coach is a mentor, friend, cheerleader, and guide.  He or she can help by recommending lifestyle and behavioral changes and by challenging the client to listen to their inner wisdom, identify their inner strengths, and transform their dreams into action!

I hope you enjoyed this article and feel free to leave comments!

Website: www.curechoices.com

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CureChoices/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/curechoices/

A health coach is a mentor, friend, cheerleader, and guide.

Choice Meets Courage

Ever wish for life to slow down? Speed up? Change, but then don't. The “why is this happening right now?” feeling?  In a perfect world everyday would be filled with kindness and success right? There would never be children without food, or homeless. Families would always be thriving and happy. Our rivers and lakes would be teeming with life. The air would be clean and all races would respect and love one another. Only a few examples of course, yet when I think about this “perfect world” and even if those things, and more were the case all over the world -we would still naturally react from emotions; our human aspects exist. Somebody would still feel lonely, shed a tear from falling down, accidentally forget and burn the dinner, (you get the point), and pain and suffering would show up eventually. Somehow, the ability to appreciate all the light, all the goodness that is present, often comes hand in hand, from experiencing darkness.

Could feeling good be found in choice, and if so, what are we choosing?

Today we live in a place where we can get a lot of instant results. Push the button, search the web. Anything you do repeatedly will become habit. Even convenience. So, while knowing that goals take hard work, we hardly give them the daily effort they truly require. We convince ourselves there’s an easier way. A shortcut. Maybe an inspired moment will come and then we’ll be able to get the project done. And then a month goes by, and where are we? Same place, except not. We’ve changed, still. But in a way that’s made it more comfortable to accept the belief that we haven’t changed. That we aren’t built for the goals, or have enough resources to achieve them. This is just a perspective. I believe we are always in a process, it’s just a matter of what direction we are headed, and how we are feeling about it.

So, perhaps the world, as it is, with the good and the bad is more perfect than we ever thought it could be. And maybe the challenges throughout our day, truly do make us stronger, wiser, and more kind to the next person we meet. With this understanding I can attempt to move through my tribulations with more attitude of gratitude. And I can step forward into my troubles knowing that they are not permanent. Because like seasons, we are always shifting, changing, and given full opportunity to become more than we are at this moment.

As a Health Coach I’ve come to know that even when it looks like nothing happens in a day, and sometimes in a week, when there can be little obvious change, this is not the ultimate truth. Something is happening. Those small, maybe invisible, first steps are just as significant as the middle of the road. I am building awareness for what is changing and not only what lies at the end result. We often see the winter as cold, and long. Both true, but with every passing day, the sunlight is getting a little warmer, and the time until spring is actually becoming closer than ever before. So, perhaps a lack of success (right now) is related to becoming stuck feeling defeated, in thinking and mindset, and not fully embracing the process of evolving.

Today’s Effort is a platform where each person can take responsibility for their power, and use it to become the individual you want to be. To make the conscious effort in a direction that is ever flowing, ever changing, and be okay with that. To recognize that perfection is never stagnant, but always evolving. With each day we are given the power of choice and courage. To know this and to use these gifts are not one in the same. With my Health Coaching I strive to bring awareness and understanding to that simple difference. To feel the courage to make the choices that align with you as a whole being, then, I believe true healing takes place.

I am an advocate for health and wellness. I believe in health of the spirit as much as the body, and I know that every little effort that we make on a daily basis, will bring us closer to the life, and wellbeing which we all deserve and possess.

I encourage using a plan of daily action, which I call Today’s Effort, to achieve our intentions in life. Incorporation of daily action directed towards a purpose, can be a powerful way to embrace change. With this consistent effort I am brought a little closer to my goals, yes, but I am also a little more empowered by my strength and determination each day. I want to then follow up the next day with another small action step. This builds on itself and naturally I am drawn into my daily choices because they make me feel good. We don’t always have to experience the pain to appreciate the love. It’s there to show us the contrast, but not to last. We just have to remember to use our courage, and make the choices, in order to see and feel the change.

Today’s Effort : do something, a small action, that brings even the slightest feeling of lift to your shoulders. It can be anything that brings a smile. Maybe it's music, reading, or hobby work. Maybe it's finishing your school, or assignment on time. Choose something that you want to do because it ignites a feeling of joy. It’s in those moments, that the shift is happening.

In Joy,



To learn more about Today’s Effort and the support a Health Coach can be for you, please visit todayseffort.com or connect with our vibe on social media @todayseffort

And I can step forward into my troubles knowing that they are not permanent. Because like seasons, we are always shifting, changing, and given full opportunity to become more than we are in this moment.

My Journey Into Health Coaching And What Makes Me Passionate About Helping People

The First Shift

My first major shift in my life occurred shortly after my divorce. I would have to say, I was in the best shape of my life... so I thought. I was exercising constantly to try to help myself with all the things I was going through. I had just endured a few years of very intense constant stress. I was taking care of three children by myself. Trying to work at a very stressful 100% commission sales job. I lived in an area where I had limited support and no family. I had thought I had made it through and was maybe headed into an upswing.

On a May morning I got up from bed to let my dogs out. I was walking and all of a sudden I fell. I got up and fell again. I repeated this a few times and then I realized something was very wrong. I won't go through all the gory details I will just say I had a stroke at 40.

Once at the hospital, the doctors told me this was caused by a tear in an artery in my neck most likely caused by a severe trauma or injury.  I did not have any severe trauma or injury. Unless you count the couple of years of severe stress. Yup, that was it!

I was very lucky to be alive and with no major damage. I was told by the doctors "Take it easy". "Don't run anymore". And my personal favorite "You are a delicate flower". However, I couldn't live with any of that. I did a lot of research and it was bleak. Until I found an article about a football player who had a similar experience and went on to continue to play football. That was it! Right at that moment I stopped and decided I would go with that one positive story. I decided I loved running and continued to do so . It was very challenging in the beginning but I worked through it and ran my first 5k in December that same year!

I have run 1 Marathon, 5 Half Marathons, and 4 Ragnars ( 200 mile relay race), among many other fun races. So far I'm still kicking and still running today! The lesson I took away from this was don't take anything for granted and enjoy your life now. Not at some endpoint you're going to reach. I get caught up in life just like everyone else but I always bring myself back to a balanced place and I continue to learn more about being successful living on purpose!

The Second Shift

My second major shift was in 2013-2014 when my mom became ill. In a matter of two months she went from being a vivacious lively woman to being gone. She had passed away from cancer. Apparently it was so metastasized that there was not really anything they could do. While my family had some time to prepare it was unbearable to watch this happen. I felt very frustrated and helpless.

My Call To Action

These events created a call to action in my life. I was watching family members and friends struggle with auto immune diseases, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and weight gain. I myself struggled with stress, acne, and added weight around my midsection. Many of these issues are shared with the majority of the population including children. I decided I needed to figure out a plan to improve my odds, stay healthy, and help others do the same! My lesson from all these events in my life led me to the Institute of Integrative Nutrition to get certified as a Health and Wellness Coach. This is where I learned the concept of primary food and secondary food. Primary Food is your physical activity, health, education, career, finances, creativity, spirituality, joy, social life, relationships, home environment, and home cooking. Secondary food is your nutrition. You need to create balance between all these things in order to live a healthy life. This is where I come in. During my health coaching sessions I will help you achieve this step by step!

How I Work With People

I like to follow a plant based (vegan) whole food diet. I stress whole food meaning real food because in this day and age a large part of the population does not eat real food. People ask me all the time, "Do I have to be vegan to work with you?" The answer is no, absolutely not. We are all different and our bodies need different things. It's best to learn what works for you personally. Do I push veggies on people? Definitely! :)

Because of my background I plan on specializing in working with busy women helping them de-stress, unplug, focus on self-care, get rid of those extra pounds, and create health and balance for themselves and their families. I can't stress how important it is to take care of yourself so that you can take of the people you love and enjoy your life.  Are you ready to take back your health and freedom to live a balanced full life? Are you ready to live on purpose?

I continue to love to share everything that has worked for me and strive to find the best things for everyone on their path to a Healthy Balanced Life! 

Take care of you,


Tina Stinson

Healthy Balanced Living


The lesson I took away from this was don’t take anything for granted and enjoy your life now. Not at some endpoint you’re going to reach. I get caught up in life just like everyone else but I always bring myself back to a balanced place and I continue to learn more about being successful living on purpose!

Spreading Joy And Love Through Painting And Health Coaching

Hello from my small country of Lebanon!  I am Lulu, painter and wellness advocate, following my passion for painting to wellness synchronizing my education, knowledge, and experience, trying to spread joy and love.

Throughout my life I have suffered several health issues which mainly were related to digestive irregularities.  I knew there was a misdiagnosis in my case.  I began searching and researching following my curiosity to know the root cause.  Never by any chance did it occur to me that I would someday study holistic health coaching.  It was as if all the pieces just fell into their places and the big white canvas became a complete painted artwork.  The Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) not only gave me the knowledge but expanded my perspective.  Becoming a wellness advocate and counselor was tantamount to being a creative artist (my original specialty).

Lebanon went through a very destructive civil war during the mid-seventies till 1990.  It was devastating.  It ruined and wounded Lebanese.  I studied fine arts under bombardment and explosions.  There was no water and no electricity but life went on.  I even earned a scholarship to pursue my masters in Italy.  Working, living, and surviving every day was always a challenge.  Even after the war ended there was always the realization that civil war could break out again. 

My education was enhanced by the introduction of essential oils and energy healing.  My exploration of integrating all-natural foods and herbs helped to restore my body, mind, and spirit, resulting in more of a state of peace and gratitude.  Art and painting were my antidotes to the poisonous, negative thoughts of war and hatred.  Through my art, I colored my life to be the grateful person I am now. 

Artwork By Lulu Baassiri

Black Magic Woman 100x100 oil on canvas 1993.  Exhibited in Washington, DC in 2012.

Sunflower 60x80 pastel on velour 2011.

102x82cm pastel on velour paper 2011.

Mosaic With Mixed Media.  110x110 real Venetian mosaic 2000 - 2001.

Red Rose 70x62 pastel on velour paper 2011.

Never by any chance did it occur to me that I would someday study holistic health coaching. It was as if all the pieces just fell into their places and the big white canvas became a complete painted artwork.

Do You Want To Live Or Do You Want To Thrive?

Do you want to live or do you want to thrive?  This was the question I asked myself so many times! 

Hi!  My name is Jurgita Caballero and I am an IIN Certified Holistic Health Coach and a student at The School of Applied Functional Medicine and The Institute for Functional Health Coaching

My interest in a healthy lifestyle started about 16 years ago.  But it really took a turn about four years ago when I lost my beautiful mother, my best friend, to cancer.  I wanted to know why people are getting sick so much more than ever?  What is causing it?  What are we missing? What are we not doing right?

I had many health issues growing up.  I was on a prescription antibiotic for seven years since my birth.  At one point in my life, I was more than 40 pounds overweight.  It took me years of trial and error, but thankfully it has been more than 15 years that I am at my healthy weight. 

I know what it feels to be hopeless.  When you are not feeling well and no one can give you any answers, and you can’t enjoy your life to the fullest, it stinks! 

People often ask me what do I eat, what do I do to keep my weight in balance and stay healthy.

I say, it doesn’t really matter, because in reality what had worked for me, might not work for another person. That’s BIOINDIVIDUALITY. The secret is to discover what works for that unique body.

Becoming educated in the field of functional medicine gave me an opportunity to really dive deep in understanding how all our body parts, glands, organs, hormones work together.  There are no islands.  Everything is interconnected.  No one way of eating or lifestyle works for everyone. 

My passion is helping people to find what works for them, identify the triggers that are in their way for maximum wellness, and help them to change it at the pace that feels comfortable for them. 

We are so used to popping a pill to numb our pain, without realizing that the body is sending us signals that it needs our attention.  By ignoring those symptoms, we are only promoting the diagnoses of some sort of ailment or disease in the long run. 

It doesn’t have to be that way.  I coach people to learn to listen to their bodies and address these symptoms by getting to the true root cause of the problem.

How do we do that?

Maximize what their unique body needs (food, sleep, raw materials your body needs to function optimally, oxygen, water).

Minimize what their unique body struggles with (toxins, infections, allergens, stress, trauma, limiting beliefs, fear, negative expectations).

Prioritize and create an environment for healing for this unique person (sleep, rest, laughter, stress reduction, exercise, stretching, breathing, meaningful relationships).

My goal is to Educate, Inspire, and Empower people to own their wellness!  True health starts with us when we decide to be well!  

Do you want to know how a healthy body feels like?  Then let me help you!

Thank you,




Facebook https://www.facebook.com/LivinganAbundantLife365/

Do you want to live or do you want to thrive?

Clean Cookies

I sure hope everyone is having a fantastic new year so far!  

For every new year's eve party when I was growing up my mom had the family wear polka dots and as many round accessories as possible.  At the turn of the clock of each new year we had to gobble down twelve grapes for good luck.  

I don't have the grapes anymore.  I just don't agree with stuffing myself with food at such a late hour and I think this new year's was the first in which my family and I were sound asleep before midnight!  However, I do my best to find round patterns to wear if we go out to eat.  Oh, traditions!  You have to love them.

Here's another round object that I think is wonderful to have for new year's and really anytime of the year.  Healthy, delicious cookies.  I love cookies!  If I could eat them every single day I would!  

You're in luck because I have two clean cookie recipes just for you created by my friend.  These cookies are perfect for diabetics and those who don't like dessert too sweet.  Even those who have a sweet tooth will love both of these recipes.  Coconut sugar is low glycemic and can always be adjusted to taste.  But always remember sugar is sugar.      

My friend is nine years old and he has a passion for food.  Since my friend can't have almonds these cookies are made with hazelnut flour and peanut butter powder.  You could easily use organic peanut butter if you can't find peanut butter powder.  For those who can't have peanut butter, I recommend using almond flour and raw almond butter.  

These cookies are so easy to make that they are a wonderful way to get everybody in the family to help out!  But they are addicting so remember to count how many you eat or else you may end up eating the whole batch.  Have fun baking!


Clean Chocolate Chip Cookies


*Makes 14 cookies

1 cup hazelnut flour 

1/4 cup organic peanut butter powder

1/4 cup organic virgin coconut oil, melted

1/4 cup organic coconut sugar

2 large pasture raised eggs

1/2 cup organic chocolate chips

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp Himalayan pink sea salt

1 tsp vanilla extract




1.  Preheat oven to 350F.  Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2.  Place the Hazelnut Flour, coconut sugar, sea salt and baking soda in the food processor.  Pulse a few times to combine and transfer to a large mixing bowl.

3.  Lightly beat the eggs with the vanilla in a small bowl.

4.  Melt the coconut oil on the stovetop on low.  

5.  Add the eggs, melted coconut oil to the large mixing bowl. Mix to combine. 

6.  Add the chocolate chips in last.  

7.  Drop 1 tbsp sized cookies into the cookie sheets, allowing room for expansion.  Flatten with a fork.

8.  Bake for 10 - 15 minutes on middle rack.  


Hemp Seed Cookies


*Makes 14 cookies


1 cup hazelnut flour 

1/4 cup organic peanut butter powder

1/4 cup organic virgin coconut oil, melted

1/4 cup organic coconut sugar

2 large pasture raised eggs

1/4 cup raw shelled hemp seeds

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp Himalayan pink sea salt

1 tsp vanilla extract




1.  Preheat oven to 350F.  Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2.  Place the Hazelnut Flour, coconut sugar, sea salt and baking soda in the food processor.  Pulse a few times to combine and transfer to a large mixing bowl.

3.  Lightly beat the eggs with the vanilla in a small bowl.

4.  Melt the coconut oil on the stovetop on low.  

5.  Add the eggs, melted coconut oil to the large mixing bowl. Mix to combine. 

6.  Add the hemp seeds in last.  

7.  Drop 1 tbsp sized cookies into the cookie sheets, allowing room for expansion.  Flatten with a fork.

8.  Bake for 10 - 15 minutes on middle rack.  

Healthy, delicious cookies.  I love cookies!  If I could eat them every single day I would! 

Set The World On Fire

In fall of 1994 I was among the students of the incoming freshmen class at The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.  The freshmen class was gathered at William and Mary Hall for the convocation.  One of the speakers told us to look at the person on our left and then on our right.  The speaker went on to say that our class was among the brightest incoming classes ever.  I forget the percentage but it was something like 90 percent of my class were either salutatorians or valedictorians of their graduating high school class.  More importantly, the speaker passed on some very smart advice to us young men and women that every college student should take to heart.  He said, "Take classes that interest you.  If you've never taken a kinesiology class or a philosophy class take it.  Major in what you want to major in.  Not what your parents or your brother or sister want.  Major in what you want."

I did graduate from The College of William and Mary in four years and I'm very proud of that.  But I did not major in what my parents had planned for me.  They had hoped that I would choose a career path just like my late paternal grandfather, Pastor Fabunan, who was an accountant.  The truth was that the economics and business courses were not meant for me.  Yeah, they definitely were NOT meant for me!  I struggled and I humbly withdrew from or failed a couple of those classes.  Instead I majored in Spanish.  Why?  In my junior year I took a hard look at my grades and immediately noticed that my best grades were from my modern language classes.  At the time I loved immersing myself in the romance languages and I excelled in them especially Spanish.  There was also pressure from my mom to complete my studies in four years so a BA in Spanish it was! 

And this is true for much of life.  By pretending to be something that we are not we can never be happy or be true to ourselves.  Life will always be an upward struggle.  I love this quotation by Saint Catherine of Siena:  "Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire."  Life is so short.  Why pretend or delve into misery, right?  

For about 12 years of my young professional life I was a banker for large and small banks and I did pretty well for myself.  The problem was that I pushed myself at work and I never really loved it.  I pushed myself to the limit working extremely late hours and even on the weekends.  I liked certain aspects of bank management like leading, coaching, and encouraging my team members but deep down inside I was never completely happy or satisfied.   

What changed for me?  I got married to a wonderful man and we had a beautiful baby boy.  But then my health spiraled downward and I hit rock bottom to the point of being bedridden.

Eventually I found the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) and in a year I became a certified integrative nutrition health coach.  I utilized the knowledge that I learned from IIN and thankfully I started to heal my condition.  I was so intrigued with the use of food as medicine that I continued my education taking an alternative healing course.  I then used that education to help myself completely heal and my own family heal their conditions ranging from eczema, food sensitivities, high blood pressure, and heart burn.  I continue to take holistic health courses because of my passion in helping others heal their own conditions.  And, yes, since I've found my calling I want to set the world on fire!

I believe that any disease or ailment can be reversed.  Anyone can heal with the right foods, mindset, and proper rest.  That's the beauty of working with a health coach especially an integrative nutrition health coach.  We health coaches are trained to really listen to our clients and help them heal on a deep physical, emotional, and spiritual level.  

I love the flexibility that I am allowed.  I am able to be the kind of wife, homeschooling mom, blogger, and integrative nutrition health coach that I want to be.  Thanks be to God, my faith and family will always come first but I have found a wondrous joy in health coaching and there is nothing else I'd rather be doing.  Find your truth, your voice, and your purpose, and you will set the world on fire.  And after that there is no going back!

“Take classes that interest you.  If you’ve never taken a kinesiology class or a philosophy class take it.  Major in what you want to major in.  Not what your parents or your brother or sister want.  Major in what you want.”
I love this quotation by Saint Catherine of Siena:  ’Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.’

MamaSuds: Truly Safe For Your Family

Hi! My name is Michelle Smith and I am guest hosting from Goodrich, Michigan. I am the founder and owner of MamaSuds. We handcraft truly safe soaps and non-toxic household cleaners for the ingredient-savvy, label-reading mom. I met Elaine when she became a customer of MamaSuds and contacted me with a few questions. Yes, I personally answer all of my customer service messages whether it is through email, phone calls, text messages or on the website chat box! I really love interacting with my customers! 

I am a wife, mom of three girls (help me!) and a recovering former middle school teacher. Our family has a dog named Stella and four chickens. We love to hike in Northern Michigan and go to the beach on Lake Michigan. We spend three quarters of the seasons doing those two things as a family. We love being outdoors!

I started MamaSuds because I wanted to wash my family and clean my home with real soap. I wanted to use products on my family that weren’t going to harm their health today or in the future. And as I researched, I thought (as I am sure you have too) not all synthetic ingredients can be harmful.... right? What I found was that no, all ingredients are not harmful to ME but what about the process to make them? That's an even deeper rabbit hole (in case you've never gone down that one!) that led me to into many late nights and many more questions. How can all of these synthetic ingredients be good for the environment? 

It isn't.

So I set out to create products that were safe, non-toxic, and that worked. Because, let’s be honest- there are a ton of products out there that claim to do all three things but fall short in one category… or all three! 

The main MamaSuds product is castile soap. Many companies claim to make castile soap, but almost all of them make a bastille soap. What’s the difference? Bastille soap is a soap made with lye and some kind of plant or animal fat, more often a combination of many different fats. A real castile soap is just lye and olive oil. Castile soap is the base for a majority of our products.

MamaSuds Castile Soap is just olive oil, lye and water because I wanted my recipe to be as simple as possible. Olive oil is not difficult to get, it isn’t drying to the skin, and I have yet to meet anyone that has an olive allergy (that’s not to say they don’t exist!). Skin allergies are no joke: according to the CDC, 8.8 million children were reported as having a skin allergy in the last 12 months. That’s an incredible statistic. Most soaps are made with coconut, shea butter or jojoba in them. All three are excellent ingredients to make soap with, however, they create skin sensitivities or reactions for millions of people. I like to keep my product ingredients lists small and I practice this in my everyday life as well. 

If you are just starting out on your label reading journey, start small. If you try to change all the products in your life right away you are very likely to overwhelm yourself or your spouse and give up. Give yourself time, grace, and patience. I like to tell people to pick one product at a time. Cleaning products are a great first step. If you are the DIY type, buy a bottle of castile soap and make your own cleaning products. If you are not- I suggest MamaSuds All-Purpose Cleaner spray. You can clean virtually everything with it and it cleans so well (just check out our reviews!). Once you’ve switched one product, move onto something else (laundry, body wash, toilet cleaners). 

How do you become a savvy label reader? Don’t rely on a website to tell you a product is safe or not. All of those types of websites are fantastic resources, but they aren’t perfect. I like to look up specific ingredients, rather than the products themselves. When I read a label, I immediately set a product down if it has the word “fragrance” or any ingredient with a number (i.e. Laureth-7, PEG-80, Cetereath-20). Fragrances are almost always synthetic and can contain phthalates and ingredients with numbers are also synthetic and can contain 1,4 dioxin (a possible human carcinogen and is harmful to our environment). 

Once you are accustomed to recognizing and eliminating products with these ingredients, you will become more accustom to other ingredients to be on the look-out for. But again, remember it’s a process. Take small steps and don’t overwhelm yourself. I think you’ll realize how many products in your home contain the two red-flags I described! 

You can reach me anytime at: 

Email: michelle@mamasuds.com

Website: www.mamasuds.com 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/mamasuds or my Facebook group: www.facebook.com/groups/greenlivingtribe

Instagram: @mamasudsllc 

Special Offer

A special offer for Elaine’s friends! If you sign up for our newsletter you’ll get a free bottle of MamaSuds Foaming Hand Soap! http://eepurl.com/463ur

I started MamaSuds because I wanted to wash my family and clean my home with real soap. I wanted to use products on my family that weren’t going to harm their health today or in the future.

Why I Decided To Do Personal Selling With India Hicks

What on earth compelled me to join the ranks of independent direct sellers? It started rather innocuously one Saturday morning last year while searching for something to jazz up my Fall accessories wardrobe. I somehow stumbled upon India Hicks and was immediately intrigued. I loved the look and style; it also happens to be a more affordable luxury than the brands I used to buy when I had a corporate salary. You probably know the ones I mean. So that leads me to the first reason I decided to get on this rollercoaster.

1) I love the brand. The aesthetic is wonderful, the quality is excellent, and India is one cool chick. I sincerely don't want you to buy something from me because I sold you on the idea. I would much prefer that you want (love!) something that I happen to be selling.

2) I needed to shake up my look. Working for myself, from home made it far too easy to get into the rut of wearing the same yoga or cargo pants day in and day out. You might call my sartorial choice: "lazy pants" or something like that. Being an India Hicks Ambassador is a good excuse to dress up a little every now and then. Not that I've given up my yoga pants completely!

3) It's exciting to discover a new gem of a brand. I've worked on ginormous brands (um former Global Brand Manager for Vaseline, hello!) that totally know how to meet consumer needs, yet I delight in the challenger brands who need to hustle and be more insightful than the established ones. 

4) I'm actually an introvert and I don't excel at "putting myself out there." I dread cocktail parties because I'm convinced that I have nothing interesting to talk about, but I really do love hearing what others have to say. Being in direct sales requires me to step out of my comfort zone and hopefully grow in the process.

5) Last, and by no means least, making a little extra money is appealing. Consumer understanding and brand strategy are still my core professional passion - please visit me on Hat Trick 3C, too - but sometimes the consulting business can be really slow, with nobody having budgets or time for the strategic services at which I excel.

That's my story. I'd love to hear yours. On my Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/IndiaHicksNoVA/), there is obviously an emphasis on our products, but I also showcase: my favorite local/challenger brands, great Northern VA places to eat or visit, quirky style ideas, and my random musings. It would be great for you to post those things there too. Should you now be intrigued and want to see our beautiful wares, please visit my ambassador site at http://bit.ly/GLGIndiaHicks.

Gail Legaspi-Gaull

Independent Ambassador, India Hicks

Shop anytime at http://bit.ly/GLGIndiaHicks

Follow me at https://www.facebook.com/IndiaHicksNoVA/

I love the brand. The aesthetic is wonderful, the quality is excellent, and India is one cool chick.

Beautycounter: Simple, Clean, And Natural

Hello!  My name is Elisabeth Klos and I am guest posting from San Diego, California.  Elaine and I met this summer, (get ready) ONLINE!  We connected across the country to share healthy ideas and tips.  Elaine's genuine care and concern for others, which rings true in her writing, caught my attention and I wanted to soak up her wisdom.  I became Elaine's client, (which I highly recommend) and she reminded me in the kindest way possible to stick to my guns with my kids' health and eating habits.  Healthy habits have been important for me for many years now.  Choosing to fuel and pamper my body with the best of what is available has always interested me, as an athlete, and now a mom and a woman wanting to feel good.  While food in general has always been more of a struggle for me, there is one healthy habit that came easily for me in my quest for the best health.  This positive habit is using skin care and beauty products known to be safer for human health.  

Prior to 2011, it never occurred to me that what I put ON my body was just as important as what I put in my body.  Then, about 6 years ago, I couldn't get pregnant with my first child.  I always thought I was very healthy; I was a marathon runner, in great shape, I rarely drank alcohol, and I got great sleep, (of course since I had no kids!)  I didn't realize the importance of certain ingredients which go into total body well-being.      

With a looming infertility scare, I tried Western medicine approaches.  I went on drugs to help my body ovulate and I took many tests to figure out if something was wrong.  On a whim I decided to do something out of my comfort zone, I went to an acupuncturist.  After meeting with her she determined that I needed to 1.  gain weight  2.  eat WHOLE foods - (non processed food)  3.  ditch extreme exercise and 4.  look into what I put on my body by way of products like shampoo, face wash, makeup, lotions, etc.      

Those changes seemed daunting and uncomfortable, and yet I knew deep down that I needed to slow down and gain some body fat.  What surprised me most were the unhealthy aspects of many personal care products I was using.  For example, the following are found in many products:  

  • Hormone mimicking parabens which are associated with an increased risk of breast cancer (see sources at bottom)
  • Phthalates, especially in products with *fragrance, which are associated with an increased risk of breast cancer
  • Synthetic colors, which are suspected to be a human carcinogen
  • Formaldehyde, a known carcinogen
  • And many more

All of these ingredients are included in extremely tiny amounts, but I had to wonder, why did I have to put any amount of these toxic ingredients on my body?  

I dove into researching personal care products with the app ewg.org.  I looked on Amazon.com to find products that ranked VERY low on EWG's safety scale.  What I found were a lot of products that did not work as well as my old stuff.  At the time, I dealt with face soaps that didn't feel clean, and shampoos that made my hair feel more dirty because I wanted the safest and the best.

Fast forward 4 years of eating healthier, slowing down my exercise, and choosing safer products and I had not only one, but two babies.  Around the time of my second child's birth, my good friend and health advocate introduced me to Beautycounter.  She said, "This brand is like a blend of the department store stuff you love and the random, crunchy stuff you've been trying!"

I also learned that Beautycounter utilizes my favorite healthy product research site, ewg.org to make sure their products all rank a 3 or lower, with most being 1s and 2s (the safest).  I found out that Beautycounter bans over 1500 ingredients including all the ingredients that are banned by the EU.  (The US only bans 30 ingredients currently!)  This information was eye opening and relieving.  I didn't want to have to go back to researching every product.  I wanted to save time by trusting in a company to deliver safe and high performing products all at once.

So I turned to Beautycounter for my lotions, cleansers, shampoo, makeup and even my kids' soaps.  I liked that I could buy on their website through my friend whenever I wanted (I didn't have to sign up for any monthly program or as a member)...it felt so easy and different.  My favorite thing about Beautycounter is their transparency.  They list every single ingredient in every product.  No “fragrances” or “natural flavors”.  It makes it easy for my friends with allergies to figure out what to use.  And it makes me trust the company even more.    

Now, as a busy mom of two, I am a Beautycounter Consultant.  I became one because I was always intrigued by having my own business and I knew that I had finally found a company I could stand behind.  I love the flexibility it gives me as a mom.  I would do anything to be able to spend the most time with them while they are little and I feel lucky that I found something meaningful and helpful to others.  

So the moral of my story and this guest post is threefold:  1.  When it comes to your health, seek out second opinions and TRY alternative/natural healing...no matter what, you will learn a lot about yourself and the way your body works.  2.  Remember that your skin is your body's largest organ and what you put on your body matters as much as what you put in it.   3.  Listen to your heart when it comes to doing meaningful work.  TRY new things.  It's never too late or too hard to start doing something worthwhile and impactful. 

Thank you, Elaine, for allowing me to share my story.  Readers, if are open to trying safer beauty products and would like to connect or ask questions, here is how to reach me:

Email:  ebklos@gmail.com

Instagram:  ebuffy

Website:  www.beautycounter.com/elisabethklos

A Special Offer Just For You

**A special for Elaine's friends through the month of December:  I will reimburse all ground shipping fees on any order.   Beautycounter products are 60-day, free returns so enjoy trying something new, safe & effective!  

My favorite thing about Beautycounter is their transparency.

I Too Believe In Syracuse

Something great is happening in Central New York.  Most recently a native who had moved back to the area started a new farm to table foodie place called The Stoop Kitchen in Armory Square.  I loved what he wrote in his blog page.  (If you get a chance you should read it as it is quite inspiring.)  Syracuse is being resurrected with already established farm to table restaurants and new up and coming ones.  Believe me.  The heat is on in Syracuse.

Syracuse is full of pleasant surprises.  Just a week and a half ago I meandered through East Syracuse with my friend and my son and discovered a wonderful gem of a place. 

Upon entering Kosta's Pizza House, I saw right away the heart and soul of Syracuse in this small 30 year old establishment.  There was nothing fancy here.   It wasn't pretentious or particularly attractive, but its appeal goes beyond its physical appearance.  What I saw was a good man making people happy by making delicious food and interacting with customers warmly and genuinely.  Everyone is treated like family.  

I love that Kosta is known as the Doctor of Hunger.  People are not only hungry physically but they are hungry emotionally and spiritually.  That's what makes Kosta's Pizza House so special.  Kosta feeds the Syracuse community physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  

That is what I felt when I met Kosta for the first time.  He not only fed me the best Greek pizza I have ever tasted in my life but I also experienced community and generosity.  I easily understood why people keep coming back here.    

As I introduced myself as Elaine and my son Constantine, he instantly connected with me.  He enthusiastically said with a smile, "Oh, St. Eleni and St. Konstantinos!  You must remember May 21.  It's a big feast day!"  He said he always celebrates on May 21.  So guess where I'll be this coming May 21!  Kosta's, of course!

A college friend asked me not too long ago, "Why Syracuse?!"  And I now say, "Why not?"  While we have lived in the Syracuse area for only a short time, we have met good people, made dear friends, and had so many positive experiences.  There is goodness, kindness and warmth in this community that we now call home.  Like the owner of The Stoop Kitchen who believes in the future of this city, the number and variety of good restaurants has exceeded my expectations.  If this is an indication of Syracuse's culinary future, then I too believe in Syracuse.

Upon entering Kosta’s Pizza house, I saw right away the heart and soul of Syracuse in this small 30 year old establishment.
A college friend asked me not too long ago, “Why Syracuse?!”  And I now say, “Why not?”

The Story Of Starvation

September 1.  I always remember giving my very good friend a call on that day because it's her twins' birthday.  I remember how tiny they were when they were born two months premature.  They had to stay in the NICU until they were strong enough to come home.  Today, they are thirteen years old and they are almost as tall as their mother.

Though we don't talk as often as we used to, it's such a joy to catch up with her talking about our kids, our husbands, our careers, and life in general.  This time around was no different but she said something that puzzled me.  

My friend reminds me of a professional model; she's tall, slim, poised, and beautiful, and has an aura of mystery like the famous model Iman, the wife of the late David Bowie.  She confided in me, "Elaine, I just don't understand my body.  I've gained 12 pounds."  I started to ponder what could be happening to my sweet, dear friend.  I remarked, "You've always been so slim!  What's going on?"  She just couldn't figure it out.  I finally asked, "Well, are you eating?  Are you eating three meals a day?"  She said, "No.  I never eat breakfast.  I don't eat much for lunch."  

The gears started turning in my head.  I said, "That's the reason.  You're starving your poor body!  Your body thinks that you're trying to kill it so it's just trying to survive."

Years ago, my dad explained to me this simple concept of survival.  My dad was an agriculture student at the University of the Philippines before he decided to join the US Navy in the early 1960's.  He shared with me that when a certain plant, the chaoyote plant or chaoyote squash which is a Filipino vine, is not bearing fruit, there is a way to make it fruitful.  You would take a BBQ stick or toothpick and poke the plant through the vine, essentially stabbing it.  In this case, the plant feels like someone or something is trying to kill it.  In order for the plant to preserve its variety it's forced to bear flowers and then fruit. It's in its nature to protect itself.  The same thing happens to the human body when it feels like the body is being starved.  Every bit of what is consumed is turned into fat.  

When I was growing up, we had a neighbor who sat outside all day long in her front yard sun tanning and drinking coffee.  She never ate breakfast or lunch but she did eat dinner every day.  So the food from her dinner was conserved and turned into fat each time.  

My friend was enlightened that afternoon.  I told her exactly what she needed to do to start getting back to her normal weight.  But foremost she needed to stop starving her body and start eating three healthy meals a day.   She contacted me the other day to let me know that she is doing well and has changed the way she eats.  So far she has lost six pounds!

The body is so smart.  When we're hungry, the stomach tells us by making sounds.  But most of the time, we ignore these signs.  The fact of the matter is that our body tells us everything.  We just need to learn how to listen and take care of it.

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I said, ‘That’s the reason. You’re starving your poor body! Your body thinks that you’re trying to kill it so it’s just trying to survive.’

Local Spaghetti

Since becoming a New Yorker I've been embracing New York products and services because I believe in supporting our local economy.  I think it's natural to be proud of where one lives and what the area offers.  

Not too long ago I was messaging my cousin recommending my favorite gluten free pasta brands on Thrive Market.  As she was browsing the site she excitedly informed me that Thrive Market carries Rao's marinara sauce.  Rao's is one of the best Italian restaurants in New York and has been bottling their special sauce for years because it's that popular. 

So I decided to order some bottles of Rao's marinara sauce and give it a try in making spaghetti sauce.  I think the results were spectacular so every time I make spaghetti sauce I use Rao's.  I love the product and I love that it's from New York! Now I just need to make it into New York City and reserve a seat at one of Rao's restaurants.  

I like meat in my spaghetti sauce so I use either local, pasture raised sweet Italian sausage or local, grass fed ground beef from my CSA Greyrock Farm in Cazenovia.  They sell quality meats and it really makes a difference in taste.

I also add anchovies.  Anchovies are one of those important foods that is so overlooked.  People immediately think, "Yuck, I will never eat anchovies.  It's smelly and gross."  They have it all wrong -- anchovies are true brain food.  And if your children don't like anchovies, just don't tell them that you put it in their spaghetti sauce.  They will never know!

I recommend using as much local, organic produce as possible.  I am fortunate because my CSA carries a lot of the ingredients I use for my spaghetti sauce.  I also don't mind traveling to other local, organic farms for my vegetables.  

This spaghetti sauce is so flavorful and delicious, and like most sauces, its taste improves if aged a day or two.  If I can get the pickiest eaters that I know to eat it I think it's a winner!

Special Spaghetti Sauce



1 bottle of Rao's marinara sauce 

2 to 3 garlic cloves minced

1/4 to 1/2 onion chopped well

3 to 4 anchovies

1 tbsp of freshly chopped  rosemary, sage, thyme

1/3 pound of sweat Italian sausage or ground beef (my meat is grass fed or pasture raised and local from Greyrock Farm), optional

1 to 2 cups filtered water

Himalayan pink sea salt

Flat parsley as garnish



In a large stainless steel pot, brown the sausage.  Add the onion and a dash or two of Himalayan pink sea salt to break up the cellulose fiber and saute for 2 minutes. Add the garlic. Saute for a minute.  Mash in the anchovies and mix in with the other ingredients.  Add the marinara sauce, the herbs, and the water.  Simmer for at least 30 minutes.  Stir occasionally.

Try this with a good organic pasta preferably made in Italy.  If you want to try gluten free pasta, try Jovial or Ancient Harvest brands.  

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Since becoming a New Yorker I’ve been embracing New York products and services because I believe in supporting our local economy.

Local Pizza

I've been meaning to continue my thoughts on local food in Central New York but I just haven't been able to pen anything due to my little boy's very busy schedule.  Summer flew by just as it always does and my son is growing up way too fast!  Can I just get a little breather?!

In Syracuse there are a ton of Italian establishments but I like to look for restaurants that use wholesome, local, and organic ingredients.  Food not only should taste delicious but it really should be sourced locally from organic farmers in your area.  This just makes sense environmentally and economically.  

Take for instance kale that was grown in Half Moon Bay, California versus kale that was grown in Skaneateles, New York.  Since I live in Central New York doesn't it make sense to choose the one from Skaneateles?  But every day consumers are thinking of convenience first instead of how much gasoline was used to ship those greens from California, the innumerable benefits of local organic farming to the local community, and the vitamins and nutrients that have already been depleted from those greens grown in California because of travel time.

One of my favorite local restaurants in Syracuse takes these simple ideas to heart and incorporates them into their outstanding menu and business plan.  That's why I love patronizing Apizza Regionale located right across the famous Dinosaur Bar-B-Que.  They source their flour, meats, cheeses, and vegetables from purveyors of organic and local goods.

I've tried their pizzas, salads and pastas at Apizza Regionale.  What I appreciate about the organic flour is that it is fermented for 72 hours to create a very light and delicious tasting crust.  It doesn't make me feel bloated or overly full after eating a couple of slices.  You know that feeling of "oh my gosh I ate too much!"  Beforehand I usually have the Cavoletti which is comprised of some nice Brussels sprouts and pancetta and the Cavolo Nero which is a nice kale salad.  I just adore the Salsiccia pizza because it has a wonderful bite to it and because I always love sausage (theirs is homemade) on my pizza.  The Ruccolo is another delightful gourmet pizza topped with arugula and smoked prosciutto.  

One rule that I have to follow when going to Apizza Regionale is to never miss out on dessert.  They unfortunately do not make larger sizes of their Olive Oil Cake.  I wish they did because I would seriously buy a large size and serve it for special parties and get togethers.  They also offer the Chocolate Hazelnut Budino which is on the sweet side but if you're a chocolate and hazelnut lover, why not, indulge a little!  

My family and I prefer going for lunch and sitting outside on nice days.  It's more quiet and less crowded.  It is a very popular place after all.  Also, the staff is very accommodating.  When I asked for the Cavolleti with Brussels sprouts they kindly informed me that the appetizer is normally served during dinner but they served it for me and my family when we went for lunch one afternoon.  

Apizza Regionale offers the best pizza in the Syracuse area.  Central New York friends, you are missing out if you haven't been.  No one in town can beat their fresh, organic, local ingredients and their fabulous crust.  Pizza never tasted so good!

Food not only should taste delicious but it really should be sourced locally from organic farmers in your area. This just makes sense environmentally and economically.

Mushroom And Beef Stroganoff

One of the neat things that my family and I did this summer was participate in the Open Farm Day event in Madison County in Central New York.  We spent a whole Saturday visiting three local farms in our area.  

My main interest for this event was to see the mushroom farm Fruit of the Fungi.  Since it's hard to find local, organic mushrooms the idea of touring this mushroom farm was such a unique opportunity I couldn't pass it up.  

If you've been following me for a while you know about my fascination with mushrooms.  Why mushrooms?  Mushrooms are medicinal.  There are certain ones that will help control blood sugar and even help ward off cancer.  Mushrooms are certainly one of Mother Nature's gifts to us.  

Fruit of the Fungi has been growing a number of certified organic mushrooms like shiitake, reishi, lion's mane, and king trumpet for ten years.  They also sell a wonderful variety of mushroom powders and dried mushrooms.  I love the versatility of the mushroom powders. I have been adding it in a lot of my dishes.  I've even used the powder as a gluten free breading for tuna cakes.

One of the perks that I got from visiting Fruit of the Fungi besides seeing how they grow their mushrooms was picking up some of their delicious mushroom recipes.  One of the recipes that I had to try right away was their stroganoff recipe.

This recipe is a winner!  You can make adjustments when needed or to one's preference.  This recipe can be prepared dairy free and gluten free.  Mushrooms really make this meal packing it with so much flavor.  I like using shiitake and cremini mushrooms.  I've tried other combinations but that's my personal preference.  The original recipe called for venison but I used grass fed sirloin steak instead.  I've also used grass fed tenderloin and that works great, too.  

I like to use local organic wheat pasta with this recipe.  For those in Central York New my favorite pasta at the moment is Flour City Pasta.  I like fettuccine for this recipe but any one will work really well.  If you would like to avoid wheat, you could use gluten free pasta, organic rice or mash potatoes.  For a gluten free pasta option I've also tried organic quinoa pasta shells by Ancient Harvest.  It's pretty good.  

Since coming across this recipe I've made it several times adding my own spin to it.  I think this is a recipe that really can't go wrong.  Even my four year old can't get enough of it.  Like I've mentioned I love the mushroom powder.  I believe that it helps thicken the sauce a bit.  If you don't use mushroom powder you could add a few tablespoons of pasta water until you like the consistency of the sauce.  Give this recipe a try and let me know what you think.  I love this recipe and I hope you and your loved ones do too!

Mushroom and Beef Stroganoff


3 tbsp grass fed butter or ghee

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 onion, chopped very small

Freshly ground pepper

Himalayan pink sea salt

1/8 to 1/4 cup red wine or brandy

4 cups shiitake and cremini mushrooms (and/or mix with king trumpets and oysters)

1 lb grass fed sirloin steak, grass fed tenderloin, or venison, cut into thin strips

2 tsp garlic powder

1 tbsp mushroom powder

1 cup homemade beef or mushroom stock

1 cup organic crème fraiche or 3/4 cup organic sour cream (dairy free sour cream is available at health food stores if you're on a dairy free diet)

1 tsp brown mustard

3 or 4 sprigs flat parsley, chopped


Heat oil and butter in a cast iron pan and saute onions for about 5 minutes.  Add mushrooms and continue to cook until mushrooms are just tender.  Remove and set aside.  Add cut steak to the same pan and quickly fry for 3 to 5 minutes.  Add salt, pepper, garlic powder, and mushroom powder.  Add wine and continue cooking until alcohol burns off.  Scrape the bottom of the pan with a spatula to release all the brown bits, they will add flavor to the sauce.  Add the stock.  Put onions and mushrooms back into the pan and cook for about 3 minutes until everything is heated through and slightly bubbling.  Stir in crème fraiche and mustard well.  Add the parsley.  Serve with pasta, mash potatoes or rice.  Enjoy!

Central New York Favorites

Fruit of the Fungi  You can order their mushroom powders and dried mushrooms on their website.  I highly recommend.  They can also be purchased through Greyrock Farm's CSA program as well as the CNY Regional Market.

Flour City Pasta  I love the texture of this pasta and that it's local and handmade the old traditional Italian style.  I get mine at Greyrock Farm.  

MacDonald Farms Mom's Mustard  I never liked mustard before until I tried this brand.  It's so delicious.  It can also be found at Greyrock Farm.

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Mushrooms are medicinal. There are certain ones that will help control blood sugar and even help ward off cancer. Mushrooms are certainly one of Mother Nature’s gifts to us.

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Best Burgers

I got the best compliment not too long ago.  It was really sweet and it warmed my heart.  We had our very good friends over for dinner.  I decided to serve something delicious and kid-friendly because I knew that our friends' youngest is a picky eater.  

After dinner our friends' youngest came up to me and softly whispered, "That was my favorite dinner."  I was so surprised but very touched.

Just a couple of weeks ago my husband and I packed lunch for my parents who were returning back to Virginia.  They spent almost two wonderful weeks with us visiting and exploring our area in Central New York. 

Midway through their trip I got a call from my mom.  She said that they were about to board again and that my dad asked her, "Why do Elaine's burgers taste better than mine?"

So good old fashioned burgers it was but with a healthy twist!

What makes these burgers are the local, organic ingredients that I put in them.  Fresh and local is really best!    

It's important to find top quality, premium ground beef.  I get my ground beef from our CSA in Cazenovia, New York.  Greyrock Farm sells grass fed meats sourced from local farmers.  I've tasted grass fed meats from the grocery store and sincerely they cannot compare to the grass fed and pasture raised meats I buy from Greyrock Farm.

 Another important ingredient in making the best homemade burgers is to use pasture raised eggs.  Pasture raised eggs are not the same as organic eggs, cage free eggs, or vegetarian fed eggs.  Pasture raised eggs have incredibly deep orange colored yolks and have more vitamins than all the other eggs out there.  So look for pasture raised eggs at the grocery.  Better yet find a CSA or local farmer who raises chickens out in the open pastures.  Happy chickens will lay the healthiest, most nutrient dense eggs.

Herbs give this burger recipe nice flavor and added health benefits.  Many people overlook culinary herbs but they can actually help with certain ailments.  I love using a variety of herbs for this recipe.  You can get organic herbs in the grocery store but I especially like growing my own in my vintage herb planter.

So here you go!  Try my favorite healthy burger recipe.  It's perfect for summer cookouts or just whenever you're craving a delicious homemade burger.    


Best Burgers


1/8 to 1/4 cup organic onion, minced

1 pasture raised egg

1 lb local grass fed ground beef

1 tsp Himalayan pink sea salt or to taste

About 3 tbsp organic herbs like parsley, sage, thyme, rosemary, etc., chopped finely

Condiments like organic ketchup, local mustard, avocado oil mayo, organic lettuce, organic tomato, organic bun (wheat or gluten free)



Place all the ingredients except the condiments in a large mixing bowl and mix well.  Shape your burgers into 4 equally sized burgers.  Grill or pan fry your burgers.  Place on toasted hamburger buns and add condiments. Enjoy!

Central New York Local Favorite

MacDonald Farms Mom's Zesty Brown Mustard.  I've never really been a mustard fan until I tasted this brand.  If you live in Central New York you need to pick up this mustard.  It is so good in burgers and any kind of sandwich or recipe that calls for mustard.  Look for raw local mustard in your area!

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What makes these burgers are the local, organic ingredients that I put in them.  Fresh and local is really best!

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Local, Local, Local

When I was still in a fast-paced corporate life, I often heard the mantra location, location, location.  Fast forward ten years later and the world as I know it has changed.  Now my favorite phrase is local, local, local.

I have gladly changed gears and careers.  I got out of the corporate rat race and competing with the Joneses mentality for a kinder, slower paced and relaxed lifestyle much better suited to who and where I am today.   I'm so glad I did because at the rate I was going I was headed towards a heart attack.  Plus I like myself a hundred times better now.

So why have I adopted local, local, local?  Why do I live by it as much as possible and I promote it to everyone I know and meet?  It's simple.  Follow a seasonal, local diet and you will notice a difference in your physical and emotional state and your health will improve greatly.

I used to think that as long as I ate organic I would be getting the very best in nutrition.  Well, that's not necessarily true.  Many people do not consider that grocery stores source food from all over.  You will find produce from different regions of the US and even other countries.  By the time that produce hits the stores there's practically nothing left in nutrients and vitamins.  

And this was one of the reasons that got me sick in the first place.  Even though I was eating organic at the time, I was severely nutrient deficient because my body was unable to absorb nutrients. 

While I'm a proponent of eating organic I am very much in support of patronizing local produce and local farmers who grow without unnecessary chemicals, pesticides and herbicides.  God bless them because who knows how hard they are working to produce good, honest, organic local food!   

Fresh local, organic food is medicine.  I'm willing to spend on high quality, freshly picked, local and organic produce in order to avoid antibiotics and maintenance meds now and in the future.  I am thankful every day that my family and I have been able to steer clear of antibiotics, pharmaceutical drugs, and prescription medicine.  I believe that eating clean, local, and organic food has boosted our immunity.  My four year old son has never been on antibiotics and I'd like to keep it that way for as long as possible.

You might be wondering how to find locally grown organic produce.  One solution would be to have your own organic garden.  Research biodynamic farming and learn how to do organic gardening the right way.  Imagine the convenience of walking out into your backyard to harvest your favorite vegetables and herbs!

If growing your own produce isn't your thing, farmers markets is an alternative.  They are an outstanding place to find local produce and products.  There's a large one in Syracuse called the CNY Regional Market (which is on my list of places to visit).  Cazenovia and Skaneateles have farmers markets as well.     

Finally, consider joining a CSA (community supported agriculture).  Start with  www.localharvest.org to find a local CSA.  CSAs are the solution to the concern that organic is too pricey.  CSAs are great value for what you are getting.  There just is no better deal in town.  Not sure which CSA to join?  Talk to local farmers (especially farmers who grow organic) near you and visit their farms.  They are more than happy to answer questions and many times they will give you a tour of their farm.

Know your farmer.  Eat local and seasonally.  Listen to your body.  To your health and happiness!

Favorites in Central New York

Visit www.localharvest.org to learn about local CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture).

Go see my friend Emily at Greyrock Farm in Cazenovia.  She gives the best customer service and the best ideas for how to prepare the delicious organic food the farm offers.  Greyrock sells grass-fed meats and bones, raw grass-fed milk and many other local dry goods.

Black Brook Organic Farm in Skaneateles has been a certified organic farm for 20 years.  Kendra and Paul grow the best looking organic produce I've ever seen.  Every time we buy the food is super fresh and delectable.  They are also the owners of our favorite farm to food truck in CNY called Potatoes & Molasses.  

Looking to grow your very own herb garden?  Go to Lee's Feed Store in Syracuse.  They sell organic potting soil called Vermont Ag Moo Grow and Moo Doo (cow manure).  Kendra at Black Brook Organic has been using these for years.

The Yard in Manlius is a fun, unique outdoor market open on Sundays.  You can find Black Brook Organic Farm there as well as other local talented vendors.  They have live music, local beer, Ironwood pizza, and more!  


Interested in working with a health coach who can help navigate you in this confusing world of nutrition and wellness? Click on Learn More below.

Know your farmer. Eat local and seasonally. Listen to your body.


Summer Shakes

Woohoo!  Summer is finally here!  I can hardly contain my excitement.  Being new to the Syracuse area I keep hearing about countless fun family filled activities in beautiful Central New York.  

Summer means summer break, family vacations and trips, picnics and summer sports, and enjoying the good old outdoors.  It also means ice cream and other cold concoctions!  

Since my son and I have healed from our food sensitivities and other health issues and can tolerate refined sugar we partake in a little ice cream from time to time.  Eating in moderation has become a rule of thumb for us.  

We are label readers so we look for ice cream made with grass fed milk and as much pure ingredients as possible without the chemicals and preservatives.  This type of ice cream is hard to find but it is out there.

I haven't been a proponent for cold, icy shakes despite the health industry promoting shakes and smoothies.  In my opinion it's overkill.  If you feel cold most of the time or have kidney issues, having cold foods will make your symptoms worse.  This is really important.  If your body is already in a cold state, why would you put cold on top of cold?

There is a time to eat certain foods.  So eating a little ice cream during the hot summer months is alright to do.  But like I've mentioned before eating in moderation is key for us.  

I find ice cream to taste very sweet these days.  There are a few good alternatives to ice cream like blending up shakes, buying an ice cream machine to make homemade ice cream and freezing fruit popsicles.  These are super easy and fun to make for the family. 

When my son was in daycare his classmates got ice cream from the ice cream truck each afternoon.  At the time Constantine could not have refined sugar so I had to prepare something similar at home and bring it to him at his school.  This way I could control the ingredients that went into his daily snacks.

He always enjoyed these homemade treats.  He was happy and mama and daddy were delighted as well.  

Below you'll find four refreshing summer shakes to try.  Last summer I started doing what my mom does in her kitchen.  She likes to look inside her pantry and pull out things that she can utilize in her cooking, baking or what have you.  So these shake recipes are the result of that experiment.  My family and I thoroughly enjoyed these shakes last summer.  I highly recommend them on a hot summer day preferably during the middle of the day.

If your goal is to decrease your sugar intake these shakes can be a big help to you.  You will not only cut down on sugar but will still enjoy something cold, nutritious, and delicious.

There may be a few ingredients that are new to you. 

The first shake recipe uses lucuma.  Lucuma can be found in most health food stores as well as at online stores.  Lucuma fruit is also known as "The Gold of the Incas."  It is high in antioxidants, beta-carotene, and is an anti-inflammatory.  It has a natural, mild sweetness thus it's perfect to use in desserts and shakes.

For the second shake recipe I wanted to create a shake using quinoa flakes.  Quinoa contains the highest protein of all the grains so this is a really good one if you're looking for an added boost to your day.

Last summer we spent some time in Visalia, California and discovered a lovely stand that sold these addicting açai bowls and shakes.  We loved going every morning.  I asked the folks at Farm Fresh Bowls if they could make a shake specially for my son who at the time was dairy sensitive.  They were so kind to create a personalized shake for my boy.  

When we got back to the east coast I decided to make a similar shake which I am calling the Visalia shake after our trip to Visalia, California.  This recipe uses a dandelion leaf or two.  If you are unfamiliar with dandelion it can be found in your local grocery store or at the farmers' market.  Though dandelion is very bitter this shake is as sweet and delicious as can be.  Dandelion is in season so definitely add this to your diet as much as possible.  When you eat in season and locally, you get the most rich, nutrient dense produce available.  Nothing beats it!

The fourth shake recipe is a simple blend of raspberry, watermelon, Medjool date, and coconut products.  There's been some controversy about coconut lately in the media.  I occasionally use coconut oil in cooking.  Also, I will use coconut oil in baking desserts which is maybe once or twice a month.  Again the key is moderation.  My take on this subject is if you are allergic or sensitivity to coconut, don't consume it.  My ancestors had coconut in their diet from the beginning of their existence so in my book coconut is fine to eat especially for me and my family.  Know and listen to your body.  I look for non-GMO and organic coconut products.  

I really can't say which of the four is my favorite.  I like them all for the  summer months but I don't recommend them during the cold months.  Give them a try and let me know what you think, will you?   Remember to get organic and local produce as much as possible and have an awesome summer, everyone!

Lucuma Shake


1/2 cup filtered water

Splash of pineapple juice

Half frozen apple, half frozen peach with frozen cherries, blueberries, raspberries to total 1 1/2 cups of frozen fruit

Half plum

1 tsp lucuma powder

1 tsp coconut oil

Handful of spinach

Dash cinnamon


Place all ingredients into a blender and blend.

Quinoa Fruit Shake


1/4 cup canned coconut milk

Small handful of blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries

Quarter peach

Half tbsp Coconut manna

Half tbsp Coconut oil

Half tbsp Quinoa flakes


Place all ingredients into a blender and blend.

Visalia Shake


Juice of half of an orange

1/4 rice milk, nondairy milk, or organic grass fed/raw milk

Dandelion leaf or two

3 handfuls frozen blueberries

3 to 5 pineapple chunks


Place all ingredients into a blender and blend.

Raspberry Watermelon Shake


1/2 cup coconut water

1 Medjool date

1/4 cup frozen raspberries

1 cup frozen watermelon

Half tbsp coconut oil

Half tbsp coconut manna


Place all ingredients into a blender and blend.

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There is a time to eat certain foods. So eating a little ice cream during the hot summer months is alright to do. But like I’ve mentioned before eating in moderation is key for us.

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Crazy For Caz

Caz is short for Cazenovia which has become one of my favorite places to spend with family in Central New York.  I love this place!  Whether we're in the middle of winter trekking through piles of snow or taking in the serenity of springtime, Cazenovia is really a charming place to be.

My husband brought me and our son Constantine to The Brewster Inn, a very warm and comfy country inn in Cazenovia for my birthday this past March.  He had dined there for a work event and was very pleased with his meal so we were very excited about celebrating there.  

I was surprised to see how busy the inn was for a Tuesday night.  There were patrons at the bar as well as small parties dining for dinner.  I chose the crab cake appetizer with arugula, beets, and goat cheese salad.  I also had a delectable Brewster's style shrimp scampi.  For dessert, we shared a passionfruit custard and coconut ice cream.  Overall, it was a lovely evening and the whole experience was wonderful.  I will definitely go back to bring family and friends to enjoy the excellent food and ambience at The Brewster Inn.    

The second time we visited Cazenovia, there was a lot of snow, with 28 inches having fallen a few days before.  Despite the snow, we easily made it over to discover Cazenovia.  I'm so glad that we did.

Our first stop was at a local CSA farm store called Greyrock Farm.  I was interested in this CSA for a few reasons.  Lately, I've been intrigued about raw milk from grass-fed cows.  In the state of New York the only place where you can buy raw milk is from the source so that means you would need to buy at the farm.  

Since I can remember I have never liked the taste of milk so naturally I avoided it if possible.  But just last year I tasted raw milk for the first time in Virginia Beach.  I was at Whole Foods and saw raw milk for sell.  I had recently read the benefits about raw milk from a book I was reading called Real Food For Mother and Baby by Nina Planck.  (By the way, this is an excellent book for those trying to conceive, who are pregnant, and who are figuring what foods are best for your infant.)  

So the verdict was a two thumbs up for raw milk that day I tasted it.  And I decided to add grass-fed raw milk to our family's diet and I probably will stick to this for the long haul.  The benefits of grass-fed raw milk outweigh pasteurized organic milk.  I want the very best for my family and that means patronizing local farms and companies to get the most nutritious food available to us.  We like to get at least two half gallon bottles, one to consume right away and the other to freeze.  Raw milk contains no preservatives so it needs to be consumed fairly quickly within 7 to 10 days.   

Now Greyrock Farm is not your regular CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).  I had been accustomed to participating in CSAs in which you go to your weekly pick-up location to get your shared box.  That meant that the produce was handpicked for the CSA member and whatever produce the farmer had on hand was our share for the week.  When I was on an elimination diet, many times I would give away produce that was not part of my diet to friends or neighbors.  This is one small drawback but I still highly recommend joining a CSA for getting the most bank for your buck as well as the most nutrient dense food locally available for yourself and your family.  But I have noticed that more and more CSAs are offering you your choice of produce.

Greyrock Farm is unique in that you visit the farm store and browse through different offerings like produce, grass-fed meats, pasture raised eggs, local cheeses, local butter, local organic bread and pasta, local fungi, local condiments and other products.  I appreciate that you can talk face to face with the farmer, Matt Volz, and that the farm team is very accessible, friendly, and knowledgeable.   

Greyrock Farm has certainly made their CSA a step level more competitive than most CSAs.  For anyone who lives in the Syracuse area sign up at Greyrock Farm is very simple.  Just visit the farm store and sign up at the register.  The minimum amount to open an account is $500 but that amount goes a long way and you receive a discount of 5 percent.  The more you put down the higher the discount.  We were quite surprised that for our first purchase we must have picked up twice the amount that we normally get at the grocery store yet paid so much less.

A day in Cazenovia would not be complete without visiting Empire Farm Brewery.  Empire Farm Brewery has become one of my favorite farm to table restaurants in the Syracuse area.  We were amazed during our first visit.  As I've mentioned we had just gotten about 28 inches of snowfall yet this place was jam packed!  People were out and about enjoying the day despite the snow.

Being inside the brewery we took in the expansive view of pure white snow falling.  And we had the most delicious grass-fed burgers, the Meadows Farm wagyu burger, that we have had in the Syracuse area.  Nothing beats the taste of clean, farm to table food.  We also ordered their awesome mac n' cheese made with creamy Welsh style cheese and their own bacon.  The service was excellent and of course you can't leave without tasting their local beer!

Recently, I learned about the only vineyard in Cazenovia called Owera Vineyards and I had the delightful experience of tasting their Owaghena Red at my neighbor's home.  I was quite impressed with this red wine.  So needless to say we will be visiting Owera quite soon to sample their award winning wines and taste their highly rated farm to table food.  

So you can understand why I am crazy for Caz and all things organic and local!  Here's to more beautiful explorations in Cazenovia and surrounding areas in Syracuse, New York.

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Whether we’re in the middle of winter plowing through piles and piles of snow or taking in the serenity of springtime, Cazenovia is really a charming place to be.


Here's sort of a funny story.  When we were still living in Central PA, my husband was standing in line at the local Wegman's to checkout.  The woman just ahead of him  noticed that he had also picked up a bunch of dandelion leaves.  She said, "I feed my pet rabbit dandelion.  What do you do with yours?" He smiled and replied, "My wife cooks it."  She was quite surprised with that answer!

Spring is the season for dandelions.  I think everyone is familiar with the invasive dandelion that grows in people's yards.  Normally people can't stand them so they pull out the weed killer.  But dandelion leaves and roots are medicinal and are among the healthiest herbs to eat. So when you start seeing dandelions popping up in early spring it's Mother Nature's way of saying that it's time to add it to our diet.  

Dandelion is a wonderful food to eat for everyone because it supports all of your organ systems.  Anyone who has heart conditions, liver issues, as well as digestive, kidney, or lung problems will benefit from adding dandelion to their diet.  I highly recommend it to all of my health coaching clients.  

In the old days, dandelion was known as a cure all for so many diseases because of its bitter flavor.  Even today in Greece, dandelion is cooked with olive oil and a bit of lemon.  Consider adding dandelion to your diet.  Now is the time to eat this healthy and nourishing herb!

This sardines and dandelion recipe is a synch to put together and it always tastes delicious.  The sweetness from the onions with the bitterness from the dandelion, though polar opposites, is like a match made in heaven.  When you add the meaty sardines with the olive oil and garlic, this meal really comes together and becomes a complete meal.  If you don't like to eat it with rice, have it with some nice organic bread.

Another important point to make is that this is serious brain food!  For those who feel like you have brain fog or are getting more forgetful, oily and fatty fish is your answer.  So this dish is for you.  

Please note that I only use Wild Planet sardines in extra virgin olive oil.  Wild Planet has the very best sardines.  It's meaty and it's sustainably caught.  Quality makes all the difference.  

Take it from a four year old little boy.  My son loves this!  Make this for your youngsters, children in school, loved ones, and yourself.  If you've never had sardines or dandelion before, now is the time.  Like I've said this food is so good for the brain as well as all organ systems in the body.

Just like the bunny rabbit that eats dandelion, soon enough you'll have the same type of energy.  Enjoy!


Sardines and Dandelion



Half a bunch of dandelion leaves chopped into small pieces (I get mine from Wegman's)

2 garlic cloves minced

1 onion roughly chopped

2 cans Wild Planet sardines in extra virgin olive oil (Wild Planet brand is the best sardines; if you're still getting Ligo sardines you are missing out!)

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Pinch of Himalayan pink sea salt



Heat the oil in a cast iron pan.  Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant.  Stir in the onions, a pinch of sea salt, and sauté until translucent.  Add in the oil from the cans of sardines.  I like to gently place the sardines in one corner of the pan to avoid mashing them up.  Next, add the dandelion and sauté until the leaves are wilted.  Serve with hot white organic rice or organic bread.  Enjoy!


Dandelion is a wonderful food to eat for everyone because it supports all of your organ systems.