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The truth about how greek yogurt is made today, lacking vital nutrients and overloaded with unhealthy additives, compared to traditionally made greek yogurt that is truely fermented and sourced from grass-fed and pasture raised goat's and sheep's milk. Traditional greek yogurt is extremely nutritious and loaded with probiotic bacteria and healthy fats. Yogurt recipes included and recommended books for more info.

15 Ways To Get Your 5-A-Day

When it comes to eating fruits and vegetables, we’re reminded to eat at least “5 a day.” But for many of us, eating five or more servings each day can seem a bit daunting. Considering that we, on average, eat 3 meals a day, with 2-3 snacking occasions thrown into the mix, it turns out that there are plenty of opportunities to get our share of fruits and veggies. With the advantage of living in southern California, fresh options never go out of style. The following are suggestions that may help you enjoy your 5-a-day!

1. Buy in-season produce whenever possible (although we are in CA, our produce goes through seasonal phases as well)– at your local grocer or farmer’s market. In the summer months, it’s so delicious and refreshing to eat a variety of berries, stone fruits and melons, and hydrating veggies such as cucumbers, tomatoes and celery.

In cooler months, explore a variety of root vegetables, such as parsnips, sweet potatoes and onions. (To prolong their life, store them in a cool, dry place). And of course, fall brings a multitude of apple varieties to enjoy raw, baked or cooked.

2. Experiment with cooking methods. Fruits and vegetables take well to stir-frying, grilling, sautéing and roasting, and each technique brings out the flavors and textures in foods in delectably-different ways.

3. Round out your servings with frozen or canned varieties of your favorite fruits and vegetables. These options are economical and convenient, but be sure that you select packages that are low in sodium and sugar. Keep fruit on hand for baking, and vegetables for soups and stews, or add them to egg dishes (for breakfast, lunch or dinner). Frozen or canned vegetables can be cooked in minutes in the microwave, making a quick and easy side dish.

4. Don’t forget the herbs. Dried thyme, oregano, and red pepper flakes, for example, can add depth of flavor and texture to any savory dish. Fresh herbs like cilantro, basil or mint are perfect complements to both fruit and vegetable dishes.

Fruits in summer and fall:
5. Take it up a notch and try mixing fruit and veggies together. Salads – a summer and early fall favorite – are perfect to experiment with; for example, add sliced stone fruit, or apples to a bed of mixed greens or baby spinach. Dress lightly with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar; season with black pepper, and top with cubes of your favorite goat cheese or feta

6. Grill peaches, plums or other stone fruit. Select firm fruit, cut in half, remove pit, and baste each half with vegetable oil. Place on grill, and remove when grill marks appear and fruit becomes soft but not falling apart, approximately 4-5 minutes. Slice fruit into bite-size pieces and add to your favorite salad, or serve as a refreshing side to your favorite grilled meat or fish dish.

7. Enjoy fruit as dessert. Serve a mixture of berries, or grilled stone fruits (mentioned above), with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt. For a boost of flavor, stir vanilla or honey into the yogurt and serve with berries. Top with a few mint leaves for fragrance and embellishment.

Veggies in fall and winter:
8. Enjoy a medley of roasted vegetables. Carrots, parsnips, onions, and Brussels sprouts, are perfect for this type of cooking. Chop the veggies into similar-sized chunks (so they’ll cook evenly) and toss with enough olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and dried herbs, such as thyme or oregano so each piece is coated with the mixture. Spread out on a rimmed cookie sheet or roasting pan, trying not to overcrowd or overlap the vegetables. In a preheated, 425° oven, roast the vegetables for 15-30 minutes, being sure to check frequently to ensure your veggies are cooking evenly.  Vegetables are done when they’re tender, golden and carmelized.

9. Chop up a variety of veggies, such as peppers, onions, carrots, and mushrooms.
Heat up a sauté pan with a tablespoon of olive oil and sauté veggies one at a time, starting with the onion and then adding longer-cooking  veggies like carrots, followed by the others. Season with dried herbs and cracked pepper at each addition. When veggies are soft, carmelized and oozing with flavor, add them to whole grain rice or pasta. If needed, add a little extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with a fresh chopped herb such as parsley, and if desired, a grated hard cheese like Parmesan or Percorino Romano.

These sautéed vegetables can also be enjoyed as a side dish with your favorite fish or lean meat. Or add them to broth (let simmer in the broth for 20-30 minutes) for a quick and hearty vegetable soup. (Fresh, frozen or canned vegetables can be added to the broth, too).

11. Think mashed or pureed. Many root veggies take well to being mashed and pureed, especially parsnips, cauliflower, or sweet potatoes, as well as the perennial favorite, potatoes. Pureed veggies are delicious on their own, or they can be used to thicken soups, stews, and casseroles.

12. Keep ready-to-eat snacks on hand. Make a fruit salad and keep in a container in the fridge. Be sure to keep Greek yogurt on hand, too, for a creamy partner to the fruit salad.

13. Cut up vegetables such as carrots, celery, and peppers and place in small containers or bags; enjoy them at lunch or as a snack at your desk (or while you’re snacking in front of the TV).

14. Keep a bowl filled with apples, oranges, bananas, grapes in the fall/winter, and stone fruits in the warmer months, for a quick grab-&-go snack at home or on the run.

15. Roast kale, spinach or beet greens for a better-tasting-than-you-can-imagine snack.

Now that you’ve got all these helpful hints to get your 5-a-day, make it a daily challenge with the family and see who wins! It can be easy, quick and delicious!

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Ever wonder how they come up with gluten free and what determines if it’s really gluten free or just maybe gluten “limited?” Well, in August 2013, the Food and Drug Administration issued a final rule that defined what characteristics a food must have to bear a label that says “gluten-free.”  As of August 5, 2014, any food product bearing a gluten-free claim labeled on or after this date must meet the rule’s requirements.

For those of you eating gluten free, this should be somewhat of a relief.  To learn more about what determines gluten, gluten free foods and the labeling of such, check out this site from the FDA.

Awhile back, it was common for many of us to sit down and eat three balanced meals a day. Occasionally we may have a snack here and there to hold us over or as a special treat but now there is food EVERYWHERE! There is food in the break room, vending machines at the office and on the street, at concerts, the movies, the drug store. . .it is everywhere! One might think that grazing throughout the day may keep us satisfied and our metabolism boosted. But in all actuality, grazing may cause many of us to consume more calories throughout the day which can lead to weight gain in the long run. The bottom line is: skip the unhealthy snacks and when choosing to eat snacks try them in place of a meal rather than in addition to your three larger meals.

Ideas for Easy Grab & Go Snacks: 

Hard boiled eggs- great stick-to-the-ribs protein

Instant oatmeal- Buy a big package of instant or quick cooking oats and pre measure 1/4 cup into snack size bags. Add your own cinnamon, raisins, dried cranberries or nuts, mix with water, pop in the microwave and BAM! a hearty, healthy snack. Doing it this way not only saves you money but saves all the added sugars in prepackaged instant oatmeals.

Trail mix- combine your favorite nuts, dried fruits and cereal for a great combination snack. Be aware of portion size here due to the nature of nuts and fruits being nutrient dense foods

Crackers and tuna- purchase some whole grain crackers and portion them into individual snack bags, buy some pouches of tuna and combine for a nutritious and delicous snack

Nut butters and fruit- keep a jar of peanut or almond butter handy and bring different fruits into work each day. When feeling hungry, spread a tablespoon or two over the fruit and enjoy!

Veggies and hummus- When you buy your groceries, once you get home, clean up the produce and make your own veggie snack bags. Add a side of hummus or dip made with greek yogurt and consume.

Rice cakes and nut butter- spread your favorite nut butter on a rice cake or two, top with nuts, raisins or fruit

Cottage cheese and berries- have a scoop of low fat cottage cheese with sliced melon or fresh berries, sprinkle with salt or drizzle with honey and embrace the tastiness

Popcorn- enough said!

Fruit and cheese- a little bit of carbs and a little bit of protein and fat, makes a well balanced snack

The options are endless! But if you find your self craving something bad or you want to make baby steps towards modifying your favorite snacks, here are some tips to help you snack on this and not that.

  • If you used to eat potato chips try having some popcorn or sunflower seeds
  • You love cream cheese and sour cream dips in any way, shape or form. Try having some humus, salsa or black bean dip
  • Soda- save yourself the calories and sugar and try some seltzer water or herbal iced tea
  • Ice cream sundaes- try a fruit and yogurt parfait with a touch of granola for crunch
  • You used to eat a personal pan pizza but now you can try a homemade pita pizza. Get a 6 inch whole wheat pita, topic with some fresh tomatoes, peppers, onions, mushrooms, some diced ham or turkey and top with a light layer of cheese-whoa! Skinny pizza!!

I hope this snacking tips help. Just remember, anything outside of your regular meals is added calories and can lead to potential weight gain. If you prefer snacking rather than having three large meals, plan out 5-6 small meals and keep them lighter. Try these healthy ideas and remember, if there is any thing you need, we are hear for you!



We often hear about protein and how much to eat, where to get it from, and “oh hey try the latest and greatest powder or bar.” For many of us, if we are just aware of what we are eating we would come to find that we can make simply changes to our regular food habits and get the recommended dose each and every day.

Protein needs can vary from person to person. Those needs continue to change as we age, develop sicknesses or disease and with how active we are. But as a baseline standard, adult recommendations are 0.8-1.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight or about 15-20% of your daily nutritional needs. For example, if I weigh 135 pounds that is 61.4 kg (pounds divided by 2.2). Then I would multiply that by 0.8-1.0 g/kg. Therefore, I would want to aim for 48-61 grams of protein per day. I happen to be a very, very active person, so I would increase my needs to 1-1.2 g/kg to make sure that I am properly feeding my muscles.

If this has struck your curiosity, write down how much protein you take in at each of your meals and see where you end up at the end of the day. You may be surprised to find that you really don’t take in as much as you thought. But rather than supplements with pricey powders that hold unwanted calories or bars that aren’t that delicious, try getting your protein from whole foods. I’ve given you some options delicious options and tips to follow:

Get it from grains-They don’t just offer fiber & carbohydrates, we are now becoming more familiar with the protein content available from different grains. Here’s a list of grains in order of most protein to the least:  Wheat, wild rice, spelt, kamut, quinoa, buckwheat, oats, barley, bulgar wheat, sorghum, millet, rye and then brown rice.  The next time you need a side dish or you want to mix up a salad, try something new and change things up!

Seafood- Cooking seafood can be intimidating if your used to the deep-fried or casserole version. But many types of seafood such as lobster, shrimp and sea bass have a mild flavor and will take on whatever role you chose. Play with new recipes and make it zesty, pair it with fruit, add variety with veggies, try new herbs and spices or make it bold with a spicy kick!

Eggs- For about 17 cents an egg (or $2.00 a dozen) you can enjoy them countless ways. Eat them hard-boiled, scrambled, made into an omelette or even as a custard. Adding eggs into your diet isn’t only budget friendly but waist line friendly too!

Peanut Butter- Personally this one is my favorite. I could eat peanut butter on anything or literally by the spoonful. But for you other peanut butter lovers out there just remember, although it has good protein and good healthy fats, just 2 Tbls of this tasty treat has 180-200 calories.  Tired of peanut butter? Try other nut butters like cashew or almond.

Plain yogurt or cottage cheese- A great way to eat your dairy and get your protein in. Be aware of full fat varieties and flavors that add unwanted sugar. Use yogurt in place of mayo or sour cream, add fresh fruit, dried fruit, nuts or even some chocolate chips for a sweet treat! Cottage cheese is great on its own, paired with tomato and cucumbers with salt and pepper or with fruit. I love having cottage cheese with fresh berries and a drizzle of honey!

Don’t forget the beans– Inexpensive and seemingly endless varieties. Beans come in many shapes, flavors and forms. Add them to salad, have them be the salad, eat them as a side, add them to soup or even roast them and eat them as a snack.

For questions or comments about protein needs or more varietes, feel free to contact Donna Wolf at Healthy Directions Poway. Visit our website or give us a call. We’d love to hear from you.


Summer Weight Loss- There is still time!

It’s July and you wonder where the summer has gone! But not only is there time to fit in that camping trip or beach volleyball game but there is still time to meet you summer weight loss goals and be bikini ready.

Please ask me if summertime is the easiest time to lose weight? Personally for me, it’s a struggle! But we all have individual challenges and strengths that help us along the way.

The abundance of delicious fresh fruits and vegetables, plus the warm weather and smaller clothes, would motivate us to pay closer attention to what we put in our mouths. However, some of us find the summer months to be distinctly challenging. Why? They are just more social — more dinners with friends, more reasons to celebrate with a margarita, and most often, a vacation and/or a few extra days off from work. All this socializing, while fun and festive, can make it extremely hard to lose weight or even maintain.

Here are a few tips to tone up and slim down before summer time runs out.

1. Cut the sugar. Sugar is most often the biggest weight loss saboteur. Regardless of calories, sugar will stop weight loss in its tracks. Many foods that are marketed as “healthy and fat free” can be super high in sugar and can destroy your weight-loss efforts. It is best to keep added sugar at a minimum This does not include naturally occurring sugar, such as that found in whole fruit, veggies and dairy products.

2. Go without alcohol five nights per week. I am a big fan of cocktail hour, especially during the summer months. What could be better than sitting outside with an icy margarita or a frothy beer? The sad news is that alcohol and weight loss do not mix well. Not only are the calories from alcohol empty but they also interfere with fat metabolism and stimulate your appetite. If you know that you have a social weekend coming up, try to keep your weekday nights alcohol free. It is all about planning ahead for your cocktails. 

4. Graze your way through the day. You may have been taught that eating three square meals is the best way to achieve weight loss success, but more recent thinking supports grazing as a better way to keep your weight in check. Eating five to six small meals, throughout the day will not only boost your metabolism, but will also prevent extreme hunger pangs, which can result in over-eating or poor food choices.

5. Veg out. It is so clichéd, but remember to eat your veggies! Munch out on raw carrots, peppers, cucumbers and pea pods.  Go to the market and see whats in season, bring home the goods and prepare them for the week! Soak up the fresh fruits and veggies that market has to offer

6. Avoid artificial sweeteners. Studies suggest that the sweetness you taste from these non-caloric sweeteners will cause your body to crave more sweet stuff. When you taste sweet, you want more sweet.

7. Plan ahead. When looking at your summer fun, plan ahead for your healthy eating program. Planning ahead includes finding time to shop for healthy foods, finding time to exercise and loading up on the right stuff! 

8. find guidance and get motivation. Can’t seem to do these things on your own and don’t know where to start? Contact us and join our new weight loss program launching within the next month!

Feel great, look good and be healthy!




When we say “Oh man, that dessert is sooo addictive or I HAVE to have my chocolate every night before bed,” we may actually have a neurochemicals or physiological response that could mean serious health implications.

Although sugar isn’t considered a “harmful” substance, I feel that it is on an individual basis to decide what is harmful to our own bodies. Sugar may affect you very differently than it affects me and for many it works as an inflammatory agent that works to cause all sorts of bad bodily reactions. It is even worse for those of us who crave sugar day in and day out and can’t seem to get out of that rut. For years, scientific journals have debated over whether or not sugar can be classified as an addictive substance or if obesity can be classified as a form of food(substance) abuse.

Palatable food can stimulate some of the same regions of the brain as cocaine. Both trigger a flood of dopamine and feelings of well-being but in both cases euphoria is short-lived and then the brain craves more. When these pathways are triggered, the brain takes more of the substance to achieve the same sort of high. When a person continues to pursue this pleasure despite the potential consequences, they become abusers of a substance.

In a study with lab rats at Princeton University, rats preferred drinking sugar-water to that of plain water. Once the rats habituated themselves to drinking the sugar-water, they exhibited the same symptoms of withdrawal once it was taken away and they showed the same chemical dependencies. When the sugar-water was restored, they would binge. Some would argue that rates vary considerably than humans but in this case, the research seems to be dead on. Others would argue that it is not just sugar that causes the addiction but the combination of sugar, fat and salt. And as unpleasant as it may be to give up on our favorite foods, it may be worth considering to save ourselves the consequences later on.

Tops Sources of Added Sugar: Soda, fruit drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks, sugar sweetened coffees/teas, desserts, cookies and/cakes

Ways to Avoid Sugar and the Cravings: Eat high protein snacks, avoid drinking soda (yes, even diet), avoid processed foods, read labels, eat plain yogurt rather than flavored, drink plain coffee or tea, and bake at home! When baking at home you can substitute granulated sugars for fruit (pureed dates or applesauce). Although these are still sugars, they are not processed and come from natural sources. You can also control the amount of sugar you add to foods when you choose to cook and bake at home. Try honey or maple syrup instead of sugar and experience a world of different flavors! When a sugar craving strikes, try eating a fresh fruit rather than chocolate or processed goods. It will provide sweetness without as many calories and such addictive properties.

The way of old-age wisdom is changing when it comes to our beliefs of what sets apart the good fats from the bad fats.

Not long ago, diet trends were scaring us away from eating fat and the general recommendation was to avoid them. Eat low-fat yogurt and low-fat cheese and drink low-fat milk. Eat margarine and not butter. Use this, not that. Because we choose to fixate on what the calories are going to do to our waistline, we often forget about the impact that dietary fats can have on our health and by having a better understanding of fat quality and the different sources of fat, you may just be able to reap the benefits like you never have before.

While all fats have calories, we still follow the trend that unsaturated fatty acids are good, while trans fatty acids are bad. This leaves us with saturated fatty acids and where they stand in recent research. Well, the paradigm is shifting. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommended limiting saturated fats up to 10 percent of calories and replacing them with unsaturated fats BUT recent findings in 2013 from the American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology Lifestyle Management released guidelines that further decreased saturated fat calories to a slim 5-6% of daily calorie intake due to their “impact on CVD.” So, what does this mean?

Well, saturated fats are not the only culprit for increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Other risk factors include lifestyle factors such as being overweight or obese, increased waist circumference and other dietary lipids. Also, the current dietary guidelines to limit saturated fat do not account for the food source: plant vs. animal fats. While most of us have followed the guidelines to limit our fat intakes, we have replaced them with refined carbohydrates and sugars. Thus, impacting our waist line and therefore adding to the growing list of risk factors that can later on lead to CVD. See where I am going with this?

Grouping all saturated fats together isn’t a useful practice. What you choose to consume to replace these fats counts a whole lot more.

Other fats that are getting attention in the media today as Omega-3 fatty acids and trans fats. Omega-3’s have been shown to have significant positive cardiovascular effects. They are also anti-inflammatory and promote brain health. The American Psychiatric Association has even made a link between low omega-3 levels and depression. Then there is the trans fats. A stronger consensus from the American Heart Association recommends limiting trans fat from artificial sources to 1 percent because they can lower HDL and increase LDL and the Food and Drug Administration proposed eliminating artificial trans fats from being “generally safe.”

The bottom line is, concentrating on the kind of fats you are eating and how much of them is what matter. Eating certain fats is good for our waistline, our heart, our brain and basically just our overall health. Drink a small amount of real organic milk or eat some avocado and some salmon. These fats are the kinds we should be focusing on. The good natural ones!

Information gathered from Food & Nutrition magazine.

Here are some links below about dietary fats:

Ask Well: Triglycerides and Heart Disease
The Questionable Link Between Saturated Fat and Heart Disease

If you think it isn’t possible to get parasites in the US, think again. Alot of people suffer from on going symptoms because no one suspects that this could be their problem.

There are several symptoms that may lead you to think that you might need a parasite cleanse. Some of these symptoms include loose and foul-smelling stools, diarrhea, mucus in stools, abdominal cramps and gas, loss of appetite, coughing, fever, vomiting, ect.

As long as you are not deathly allergic to walnut, there is no harm in a parasite cleanse. Options include a bentonite clay or a complete herbal cleanse. If you first kill the parasites, you can then move on and discover the foods that are making you sick.

For more information and to inquire about a cleanse contact Donna at Healthy Directions of Poway so you can feel good again.

Information from Elizabeth Yarnell.

When most of us hear “eat foods high in antioxidants,” we think blueberries, kale and all other kinds of fruits and vegetable but what we don’t know, is that our spice drawer may also provide a variety of antioxidant rich flavor that we were unaware of. Turmeric, clove and oregano each have their own powerful punch of antioxidant rich characteristic’s in which a little bit goes a long ways. Just ½ teaspoon of cloves has the same antioxidant power, if not more, than ½ cup of blueberries and that teaspoon of oregano you find yourself adding to sauces and side dishes contains the same antioxidant power as an entire cup of sweet potatoes.

The use of herbs and spices is an easy way to accomplish the goal of getting antioxidants into our diets. Below we examine five herbs and spices that are each an excellent source of antioxidants and we’ll help you figure out how to use them and incorporate them into your healthy eating plan.

  1. Clove- native to Indonesia, cloves are derived from the dried flower buds of the evergreen clove tree. It has a distinctly strong flavor and aroma that lends itself to help create delicious zucchini bread and even aids in the flavoring power of Worcestershire sauce. Dried cloves contain polyphenolic compounds that contribute themselves to having antioxidant powers and have demonstrated an ability to inhibit oxidative processes. So how can you add this into your life? Simple, add it to applesauce, oatmeal, muffins, cookies or pancakes.
  2. Oregano– Coming from the dried leaves of a small perennial flowering shrub, oregano, also known as wild marjoram, is widely used in Mediterranean and Mexican cuisines.  Scientifically, it has shown to be rich in thymol and rosmarinic acid (phytochemicals) along with vitamin E. When compared to other herbs such as thyme, sage, rosemary or basil, oregano fell into first place with the highest total antioxidant capacity.  Other than your typical pizza or spaghetti sauce, it can be used to flavor up sandwiches, casseroles, salad dressings or even scrambled eggs.
  3. Ginger- Historically used to treat everything from the common cold to motion sickness and gastrointestinal ailments, ginger provides several health benefits. It may protect tissues and organs against oxidative damage and prevent cancer development and growth. To add a little spice to your life, try small amounts of ginger in smoothies, tea, cereals or yogurt. It can also add a flavorful kick to sautéed vegetables, salad dressings, sweet potatoes or marinades.
  4. Cinnamon– As one of the first known spices, cinnamon is simple. It comes from the inner bark of various evergreen trees and it stripped and placed in the sun to dry. The antioxidant component of cinnamon is cinnamaldehyde and it is found to have the most potent antioxidant effects of all the spices. As you may know, cinnamon is extremely versatile and widely used. Add it to oatmeal, yogurt, cereal, quinoa, barley salad or add a special kick to your apples and peanut butter or even your toast.
  5. Turmeric– Also often heard of as curcumin, turmeric is characteristic of many Indian dishes, especially curry.  It originates from the root of a plant and is noted for it’s bright yellow color and distinctive flavor. It is often used in prepared mustards, pickles, relish, chutneys and rice. For personal use, it can be added to any vegetable dish, particularly roasted cauliflower, or cous cous salad. Use caution when added because a little bit goes a long ways and it is best if added to dishes while cooking.  Turmeric is known for it’s polyphenol compounds and it’s potential ability to avert chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease and arthritis. Some research has even shown positive outcomes with Alzheimer’s disease. Curcumin is also been shown to inhibit the activity of the specific gene that leads to the development and the progression of breast cancer.

Hopefully, we have all gathered some useful information from this and will all start to see our spice collection as nature’s medicine.