Crown Point, IN

September 28, 2023

Why You Can’t Stop Eating Junk Food

“Who ate all these chips?!” You look around and, alas, not even a dog to blame. Oops. It’s not your fault.  If you’ve had this experience—r

September 21, 2023

Harvesting the Balance of Autumn

September 23rd ushers in the autumn equinox, a time when day and night are in perfect balance. It also opens the official season of cozy sweaters, pum

September 14, 2023

More Brain-Boosting Foods

Last week I shared a list of brain-boosting foods with the promise of more to come. Here are some additional foods that you may choose to include in y

September 7, 2023

Ten Brain-Boosting Foods

Thank you for the many recommendations of farm stands with tasty corn on the cob. Mr. Non-Compliant happened to be in the vicinity of VanDerGriends Fa

August 31, 2023

Mr. Non-Compliant’s Unwavering Passion for…Corn

Mr. Non-Compliant LOVES corn on the cob. Since the corn season is rather brief, I do my best to oblige him with this indulgence. And as my dear cousin

August 24, 2023

Tips for a Sluggish Thyroid

Lately, I’ve been getting lots of questions about the little gland known as the thyroid. It seems to be underperforming for many of you. Hypothyroid

August 17, 2023

Healthy Anytime Toast

Since my encounter with bar food last week, I’ve been focused on eating more plants. I came across this idea to enjoy “toast” and get more veggi

August 10, 2023

Confessions from The Antler

What does one eat when in a bar? Bar food, of course. The bar options: The Brown Bear vs. The Antler: Horniest Bar Around (There were deer heads with

August 3, 2023

6 Ways to Enjoy a Staycation at Home

August. Already. Is summer slipping by too quickly? Feel as though you’ve not experienced enough lazy days? Can’t manage to get away for one reaso

July 26, 2023

The Wonder of Apricots

When I think about the abundant fruits of summer, apricots make the list. Although some of you may not be fans, I ask that you consider giving this da

Sumo, Coconut, and the Birth Month

If you’re an orange lover, I have some REALLY GOOD NEWS! The Sumo are here.

Sumo oranges, that is.

I wrote about them last year. If you missed that post and would like to know more, here’s the link.


I found some at Whole Foods. Good luck getting them now though. I told my pregnant friend that they’re in season and I think she may have cleaned them out. Just kidding! 🙂

Speaking of pregnant friends, she is now at week #31. Baby is the size of a coconut.

One of the oils I use on a regular basis is coconut oil. I coat my pan with it when I cook eggs and make grilled cheese. Sometimes I use it in baked goods when the recipe calls for some type of oil/butter.

The kind I use is virgin, unrefined, cold-pressed, organic. The unrefined coconut oil has a smoke point of 350 degrees F.

 Refined coconut oil has a higher smoke point of up to 400 degrees F. It also has less of a coconut taste and fewer nutrients due to the refinement process. Choose chemical-free methods if you go with this one.

Coconut oil is a healthy fat and may help reduce hunger. We need to include a variety of healthy fats in our diets to provide energy, support cell growth, protect organs, keep our bodies warm, and add flavor to food.

Oh, and another tidbit of REALLY GOOD NEWS!

February is my Birth Month! 

Let the celebrating begin…and continue. I highly recommend celebrating the “Birth Month” as a bonus to the traditional birthday.

By doing so, there’s no more “belated” for those who may miss the day.

And there are many more opportunities for fun with family and friends.

Cheers to celebrating life at every age.

Much love,

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”—Maya Angelou

5 Reasons Why Your Snack Bar May Not Be Your Friend

In a recent conversation, the topic of cereal/granola/protein bars came up. They appear to be a healthy snack, especially for a very busy person who is always on the go.

Spoiler alert. A high number of them are no better than your favorite candy bar.  

 5 Reasons Why Your Snack Bar May Not Be Your Friend

1. High sugar content. Check out ADDED sugars. Fruit has sugar because God made it sweet, so that’s not the number to be concerned with here. Added sugars are in your bar because of sugar, corn syrup, honey, etc. This number needs to be on the low side—no more than 10 grams. Keep this in mind: The AHA suggests an added-sugar limit of no more than 100 calories per day (about 6 teaspoons or 24 grams of sugar) for most women and no more than 150 calories per day (about 9 teaspoons or 36 grams of sugar) for most men.

2. Low protein. In order for that bar to help sustain you, look for protein content of 5 grams or more. A bar high in sugar and low in protein may set you up for a dip in energy later.

3. Low fiber. The greater the fiber content, the longer you’ll stay full so that you can be productive until your next meal. Look for 3 grams or more. Adults 50 and younger need 25 grams/day for women and 38 grams for men. Over age 50 need 21 grams and 30 grams respectively. (It’s about the same number as maximum added-sugar intake, so easy to remember.)

4. Unhealthy fats. Avoid bars with trans fat. It’s important to read the ingredients for this, because even if the number reads zero grams, it’s not always the case. If you read partially hydrogenated oil, margarine, or shortening, do not buy it or eat it.

5. Too many weird ingredients. Look for more whole foods and fewer ingredients that leave you wondering what they are. Nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and oats are good.

I’ve found that RX Bars are pretty clean. Although the sugar content is high, it’s from dates, not added sugars.

Oh, and by the way, the 5 reasons are a good standard for any food that comes with a label.


Baby at week #30 is the size of a large head of cabbage, which is about the size and shape of a person’s head. Very clever.

Cabbage belongs to the same group as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and kale, known as the Brassica family.  

It is inexpensive, easy to store, and is an excellent source of vitamins C and K, folate, and a great source of protective phytochemicals.

Cabbage is available in different varieties and colors: Savoy, Napa or Chinese; green, red, purple, and white.

It can be fermented (as in kimchi or sauerkraut) or cooked in a variety of ways, including steamed, sautéed, braised, or stuffed. Toss it into soups.

I remember my mom and grandma making delicious stuffed cabbage when I was young. (If you have an amazing recipe for this, please share it with me.)

To get the greatest nutritional benefits, eat raw or steamed (not microwaved).

Steaming cabbage is simple. Slice in whatever way you’d like, place in a steamer basket over boiling water, and allow to cook, covered, until tender. Add a bit of salt, pepper, and oil or butter, along with any herbs or flavorings you might like, and serve.

To enjoy it raw, here’s a recipe I found to share with you. Alter it as you wish.

Red Cabbage Slaw

1 head red cabbage, shaved
½ head broccoli, shaved
1 green onion, sliced
1 handful cherry tomatoes, cut in half
3 baby dill pickles, chopped
1 cup mixed herb leaves (parsley, cilantro, basil)
1 Tablespoon grainy mustard
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
½ lemon, juiced
½ teaspoon salt
Cracked pepper

Begin by shaving the cabbage and broccoli and cutting up the onion, tomatoes, and dill pickles.

Next, in a large bowl, combine the olive oil, mustard, lemon juice, and salt. Add the cabbage and toss until mixed. Finally, add the broccoli, onion, pickles, tomatoes, and herbs. Toss gently until combined. Sprinkle with cracked pepper. Makes 8 servings.

Sending love and snow angels,

“When it snows, you have two choices: shovel or make snow angels.”–Unknown

Getting Back on Track

Baby size at 29 weeks is a butternut squash.

And, like last week’s eggplant, butternut squash is technically a fruit. Since I wouldn’t care to eat it raw—although you can–I’m still going to think of it as a vegetable.

It’s a powerhouse of Vitamins A and C. The high antioxidant content may help decrease risk of health conditions, such as heart disease, lung cancer, and mental decline.

Butternut squash is low in calories and high in fiber, making it yet another good choice for anyone looking to eat foods that fill you up, taste great (recipe included), and help you look and feel amazing!

Substitute butternut squash in recipes calling for potatoes, pumpkin, or sweet potatoes.  

It adds a mildly sweet flavor when added to soups, stews, and vegetarian chili.

My favorite way to enjoy this winter squash is roasted as a side dish. I can often find peeled and cubed butternut squash in the produce section, which saves time and labor. It is a bit more costly and must be used within a few days.

Roasted Butternut Squash

Before you can roast the squash, you must first peel and dice it. You may soften it in the microwave (or oven, for a bit longer) for a few minutes to make it easier. Fork the squash all over. Microwave for about 3 ½ minutes. Let it cool, then remove the skin with the greatest of ease. I hope. It is also easier to remove the seeds and interior gunk, then cube.

Once cubed, toss the squash with a couple tablespoons of extra virgin olive or avocado oil, two cloves of minced garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Arrange coated squash in a single layer on a baking sheet or stoneware pan–my favorite for roasting all my veggies. Roast in a 400 degree F oven for about 25-30 minutes, until tender and lightly browned.

Roasted squash is an excellent topping for salad or alongside those morning eggs.


Word on the “health beat street” is that some folks are out of their healthy eating/fitness routines and can’t seem to find their way back.

You know what to do.

It just feels too hard.

The circumstances are diverse:

  • Recently retired couples who find it easier to pick up food and not cook
  • Sabotaging husbands or wives
  • Working parents with kids in after-school activities
  • Moms who don’t have a career and simply can’t find the motivation for self-care
  • Depression from social isolation

There’s more, but you get the idea. Life gets real and our intentions get lost in the day-to-day.

Begin with something simple. Find one step you can take that feels good and easy to do.


  • Eat some protein for breakfast most days of the week
  • Make sure you’re staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water    
  • Go to bed 15 minutes earlier and get more sleep
  • Take a 10-minute walk
  • Add a new vegetable to your life, like today’s delicious recipe

You’ll be amazed at how taking ONE step begins to set you back on your path. Master that one, then add one more. Activity in a positive direction will get your mind thinking of the next thing. Momentum builds, and voila! You are soon a force to be reckoned with.

If it’s still more than you can manage due to your specific circumstances, or you’ve finally had enough, it’s time to call me. We’ll work through the tough stuff together.

Much love,

“The mind, when housed within a healthful body, possesses a glorious sense of power.”
— Joseph Pilates

The Surprising Truth about Eggplant, and a Recipe

A large eggplant. That is the vegetable size of a baby at week #28.

Oh, but wait just a minute. An eggplant is actually a FRUIT because it grows from a flowering plant and contains seeds. I just learned this.

There are many eggplant varieties that range in size and color. The deep purple skinned variety is the most common.

Eggplants contain a good amount of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber, while being low in calories. It’s another good fruit to add to your repertoire. (I still keep thinking of it as a VEGETABLE.)

That being the case, they may help with weight loss. I’ve never had a client tell me that they gained a few pounds over the holidays because they ate too much eggplant.   

Watch, I’ll get a call later today on that one.

At any rate, if you’ve never tried eggplant, or think you don’t care for it, you may want to experiment with a recipe or two. Fine Italian restaurants typically make fantastic Eggplant Parmesan.

Here’s a recipe from Dr. Perlmutter’s The Grain Brain Cookbook. I’ll be making it tomorrow in a kitchen coaching session with one of my clients. We were looking for a vegetable lasagna recipe, and this fit the bill. We’ll see what happens!

Baked Eggplant, Zucchini, and Tomato

Serves 4

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing the pan

1 large eggplant, halved lengthwise and then cut crosswise into ¼-inch-thick slices

4 zucchini, cut lengthwise into ¼-inch-thick slices

Salt and pepper

½ cup tomato sauce

5 ripe tomatoes, peeled, cored, and cut crosswise into thin slices

¼ cup torn basil leaves

12 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Lightly coat the interior of an 8-inch square baking pan with olive oil and set aside.

Using a pastry brush, lightly coat both sides of the eggplant and zucchini with olive oil. Place the vegetables on the prepared baking sheets and season with salt and pepper to taste. Place in the preheated oven and bake until just barely cooked and lightly browned, about 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.   

Ladle the tomato sauce into the prepared baking dish. Using half of the eggplant slices, place a layer of eggplant over the sauce. Top the eggplant with half of the zucchini slices, laying them in the opposite direction from the eggplant. Cover the zucchini with half of the tomato slices. Sprinkle half of the basil over the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper to taste. Then sprinkle half of the mozzarella over the seasoned tomatoes, making an even layer. Repeat the layers, beginning with the remaining eggplant and ending with the remaining mozzarella. Sprinkle the top with the Parmesan and transfer to the preheated oven.

Bake until hot throughout and the cheese has melted and browned slightly, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before cutting into squares and serving. This is also tasty at room temperature, making a perfect lunch the next day.

To your health,

“The simple act of moving your body will do more for your brain than any riddle, math equation, mystery book, or even thinking itself.”― David Perlmutter, “Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar—Your Brain’s Silent Killers”