Monthly Archives: February 2014

Friday Night Dinner

It has not rained in Southern California for months, but it is suppose to rain all weekend. I am really looking forward to a weekend at home. I will not feel guilty for being inside, like I do most days it is gorgeous outside.  It will give me time to relax, catch up on house work, read, blog and, of course, cook.

Tonight, my husband and I made dinner at home. He made his favorite pizza (not gluten/wheat/dairy free) and I made Spiced Mexican Tuna Steak with red pepper and avocado and a side of roasted broccoli. Recipe link for the tuna is below.  The broccoli was tossed with 2 tablespoons of melted coconut oil and sea salt and roasted on 350°F for about 30 minutes.  This was perfect because my husband doesn’t like fish and I can’t eat his pizza. We were both happy. I am trying to add more fatty, cold water fish into my diet. My naturopath recommends eating it 2-3 times a week because it is an excellent source of Omega 3 fatty acids and lean protein. This meal tonight was delicious and very satisfying. Plus, it had all my requirements for a healthy meal, protein (tuna), healthy fat (avocado & olive oil) and carbs (red pepper and broccoli).  This pairs well with my version of a “skinny margarita,” which is 1 oz blanco tequilla, juice from one lime and topped with soda water. It’s a perfect low sugar cocktail. Now, it’s time to curl up on the couch with my hubby to watch the movie Gravity.  Have a wonderful evening!



Roasted Almonds Tossed With Rosemary


Almonds can be hard to digest for some, but are easier to digest after soaking them for 24 hours and removing the skin. Look at how milky the water becomes after soaking overnight. The almonds skin is easily removed by “pinching” the almond on both sides and the nut slides out of the shell. It’s simple, easy and even kind of fun.

I love almonds for a quick snack so tonight I made the Roasted Rosemary Almonds from Nom Nom Paloe with almonds I had previously removed the skin from. They are delicious! Check out the recipe below.

Weekly Dinners

I plan our weekly dinner menu and grocery shop every Sunday. Typically, I only plan dinners for Sunday through Thursday because I never know what we will be doing on the weekends. I still might cook on the weekends, but that is planned at the last minute. I thought it would be great to start sharing with others our weekly menu and grocery list. Feel free to download the document and use it too. Weekly Dinner Menu for Monday February 24 You can see how many servings each recipe makes in the list below. This is helpful for me because I always take leftovers for my lunch during the week. This allows me to know how many lunches I will have or if I need to cut the recipe in half.

This week I am cooking from a new cookbook, Primal Cravings: Your Favorite Foods Made Paleo by Megan McCullough Keatley and Brandon Keatley. All the recipes in this book look amazing and I like that there is a picture of each one.


Here is what we are cooking for dinner this week:
Sun: Tikka Masala Chicken Wings w/ bacon & guacamole pepper poppers (6)
Mon: Thai Chili Chicken Meatballs w/ roasted broccoli (6)
Tues: Italian Fajitas & Bruschetta Salsa (lettuce wrapped) (4)
Wed: Antipasto Salad w/ olive oil for dressing (no giardiniera, add peperoncinis) (2-3)
Thurs: Cuban burger w/asparagus (6) (instead of plantains for bun, lettuce wrapped)

We made the tikka masala chicken wings with bacon & guacamole pepper poppers lastnight and they were delicious. Here is how they turned out.


All About Gluten

001The media and medical community have given gluten increased attention in over the past few years. It has been linked to several health conditions, such as osteoporosis, irritable bowel disease, anemia, fatigue, and rheumatoid arthritis just to name a few. I don’t necessarily believe gluten is the only cause of any of these conditions, but I do believe it plays a critical role in the development of the dis-eases. For example, this is how gluten may contribute to the development of osteoporosis. A person ingests gluten and it attacks the villi in their small intestine. This interferes with the intestine’s ability to absorb nutrients, such as calcium.  Therefore, even though a person might consume adequate amounts of calcium, their body is unable to absorb the nutrients resulting in a calcium deficiency.

I don’t think everyone needs to be gluten free, but probably more than not. If you suspect gluten might be causing you dis-ease then I suggest trying a “gluten-free challenge.” Remove gluten from your diet for a minimum of 30 days and keep track of how you feel. After 30 days, add it back into your diet eating at least one piece of bread everyday for two weeks. If your symptoms come back, then it is probably best to avoid gluten and follow up with a healthcare professional.

You know you need to avoid gluten, but what does that mean?
Unfortunately it is a lot more complicated than just avoiding bread. Gluten is in a lot of different foods and likes to hide in the Standard American Diet. According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, gluten is commonly found in pasta, noodles, breads, pastries, crackers, bake goods (cookies, cakes, pies etc.), sauces, beer, and tortillas. Gluten is also in wheat, rye, barley, malt (malt syrup or flavoring, malt vinegar, malted milkshakes) and brewer’s yeast ( If you have to refrain from wheat too, remember is that just because something is labeled “gluten free” does not mean it is “wheat free” too. This underscores the importance of reading food labels thoroughly and carefully to make sure you know exactly what you are consuming.

What about oats?
Another question I am often asked is if oats are gluten-free.  The answer is yes and no. Oats are by naturally gluten free, but the problem is most oats are manufactured in a facility that also contains gluten; therefore, they become cross-contaminated. If you still desire oatmeal, then opt for oats labeled “gluten free” and manufactured in a facility without gluten. Bob’s Redmill is a brand I recommend, but be aware that even though they are gluten free there is a high probability you still might have a hard time with digesting the oats. It has been my experience that most people who have irritable bowel syndrome or gluten intolerances do not tolerate oats very well, including me.

Is gluten-free healthier?
One last important piece of information regarding gluten, just because something is gluten-free does not make it a health food. Processed food with an abundance of chemicals you cannot pronounce­­–without gluten­­­­–is still junk. I rarely buy things labeled gluten-free and opt for whole foods instead. All fresh fruit, vegetables and meat are gluten free. If I want something like bread, pancakes or cookies, then I make them. This is a great way to save money and know exactly what ingredients I am eating. Follow me on Pinterest to discover some great allergy-free recipes. Also, soon I will start posting our weekly dinners with information on where you can find the recipes. Check back soon! But, for now, check out a few of my favorite resources on gluten-free living.


Celiac Disease Foundation. (n.d). Sources of Gluten. Retrieved from

Elimination Diet

In a previous post, I briefly mentioned the Elimination Diet. If you suspect you might have a food intolerance, but don’t want to spend the money on testing, then consider trying an Elimination Diet for 30 days. This is one of the most reliable tests and least invasive ways to determine common food allergies or intolerances. Also, it’s free so there is nothing to lose, only health to gain.

Remove the seven most common food allergies (gluten, wheat, dairy, eggs, soy, nuts and fish) from the diet for a minimum of 7 days, but preferably 30 days. Also, eliminate sugar and sugar substitutes. Don’t worry, you will be able to add some of these foods back into your diet, assuming they aren’t causing any illness. Focus on eating whole, unprocessed foods, like meat, vegetables, and fruit. Keep a daily diary of all your food intake, what time you ate it, and how you felt immediately afterwards, as well as a couple of hours later. Some things you will want to take note of are bloating, swelling anywhere in the body, abdominal pain, mental fog, acid reflux, fatigue, depression.  This will start to give you clues as to what is causing your discomfort. Tracking your symptoms can also give you clues to other health issues, like low blood sugar, adrenal fatigue, hormone imbalances etc.

After the 30 day period, is when the fun begins because you get to start the reintroduction phase by adding back in one food group at a time. It doesn’t matter what order you start, just pick one and have a small amount in the morning. Still track your symptoms immediately after you eat it and a couple of hours later. If you experience any discomfort or symptoms you had prior to the elimination diet, then don’t eat anymore. There is a good chance you have an intolerance to the food and it might need to be removed for awhile. If you eat it in the morning though and don’t experience any discomfort, then have a larger portion at lunch and again in the evening. Don’t eat the food for the next couple of days, but continue to track your symptoms. Sometimes an intolerance doesn’t show up right away in the way you feel, but might a day or two later. If you do not experience any symptoms after two days, then it is safe to say that food is probably okay for your body. Wait until you have tested all other common food allergies before you add it back in permanently. After the two day waiting period from the introduction of the first food, try another food group. Repeat the steps until you have gone through all the allergens.

At the end, you will have a road map as to what foods are good for your body and what ones might be causing you illness. This is not a perfect test, but it can be a great starting point. As always, before starting a new diet consult with your healthcare provider first. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via e-mail at

Sample Food Diary




Breakfast  Time: 6:00 2 egg omelet with spinach, ½ c. blueberries Immediately afterwards felt energized
Mid-morning Started feeling tired and hungry around 10:00
Lunch  Time: 11:30 Chicken curry with broccoli Fingers felt swollen and stomach a little bloated.
Mid-afternoon: 4:30 24 almonds Feeling tired and lightheaded prior to eating almonds
Dinner Time: 6:30 Hamburger, asparagus, ½ sweet potato with 1 tbsp ghee Was “starving” before dinner, but satisfied after eating. No longer feel lightheaded.
Evening: 10:00 Feeling tired from the day, but wired. Having a hard time relaxing tonight.

Failure Is Part of Success

IMG_2308_R1Back in October, I took my NCLEX-RN examination and failed. I was devastated, ashamed and embarrassed. I cried and cried and cried that night. It didn’t matter what my supportive husband said to me to try and make me feel better, I couldn’t hear it. I did not want anyone to know I had failed. I thought others would think less of me. In hindsight, I know this is crazy, but I was feeling stupid and lacked self-confidence. I didn’t want others to see me this way too. Eventually, I told my immediate family and the “Golden Girls” (my three besties). After I told them, I decided I would allow myself one night to sulk and feel sorry for myself. That night I drank a lot of wine, sat on the couch, and cried some more. The next day I woke up early and figured out a plan to pass the test. I started researching NCLEX-RN test prep courses.  I found one that I had never heard of, the Hurst Review, and it received excellent reviews. I paid the 300 dollars and enrolled in the course.

I completed the Hurst Review It was a review of all nursing content, which was exactly what I needed since it had been nearly 10 years since I had some of the content because I did a LPN to BSN transition program. My program gave you a pass for some classes like pediatrics and labor and delivery. If you don’t use it, you lose it and I had lost some of that knowledge over the past 10 years.  I studied every single day for a minimum of two hours. I would wake up at 5 am and study before work and then study at night and on the weekends. I was determined to pass this test. I did exactly that, on January 25th I passed my California NCLEX-RN examination. Next to marrying my best friend, it was the second best day of my life. All self-doubt, feelings of less than, and stress were immediately lifted. Well, not immediately, I checked the website six times to make sure. I was in shock that it was over, but it was truly over. My world has completely changed forever, but in a good way.

Some might wonder how this story relates to health. First, during this period of high stress, I made sure to eat in a way that would support my brain health. I ate whole, real foods with protein, fat and carbohydrates. Second, as easy as it would have been for me to cut out my workouts and yoga due to lack of time, I made the time. Some days, my workouts were short, but I still got them in and it helped to reduce my stress and kept me focused. Every time I did yoga, I set an intention of “I am creating a mindset to pass my RN-NCLEX.” During my sun salutations, every time my hands came back to heart center, I repeated to myself “I believe in me.” Saying these words every time were extremely powerful and after awhile I started believing them. Also, I chose this photo of me in Warrior II because when I am in this pose, I allow my back hand to represent my past and front hand my future. I look past my fingers and see my future. It is one of my favorite poses for this reason. Third, I meditated several times a week in the morning. This helped to clear my mind, bring stillness to all my thoughts and reduce my anxiety.  Somedays, I only meditated for five minutes, but it would set the tone for the rest of my day.  On the day of the exam, I got up early to allow time for a guided meditation. I listened to “Exam Nerves Hypnosis Script that Helps to Alleviate Anxiety and Stress” that I had read and recorded on my iPhone. You can find the script here, . I find relief from anxiety through meditation and the use of affirmations. I use affirmations on a daily basis because I believe your thoughts create your reality. If you believe you can do something and put in the work, then you can do it. However, if you believe you can’t, then you can’t. During the exam, my affirmation was “I am confident I can pass this test, as I have studied and am prepared. I believe in me.”  I took a deep breaths and said this affirmation several time during the exam. I felt relief, confident and calm every time. It is amazing how stress can affect the body and how important it is to take care of oneself during periods of prolonged or high stress. It is not selfish, but a necessity. By taking care of myself like I did, I was able to stay healthy, mentally and physically.

Sharing this story made me very vulnerable. No one likes to share their failure with others, including me. For example, on Facebook people usually only post pictures that make their lives look wonderful, but what we don’t see are the tears, feelings and struggles behind some of those photos.  I think it is important to see the other side too. We all have struggles and challenges in our lives. It is what makes life interesting, but what makes us resilient is how we handle the challenges.  It is easy to give up, but it is more rewarding to pick ourselves back up and try again.  I am thankful for my failure because it allowed me the time to go back and review all the material I needed to make me the best nurse I can be.  Failure is just a part of success, as long as we never give up.