Archives for April 2013

Top 12 Foods to Buy Organic


I try to eat as much organic food as possible, but I don’t buy everything organic. Each year I wait for the Environmental Working Group (EWG) to release the “dirty dozen” – the top 12 foods to buy organic. The list for this year is here so I want to share it with everyone! Hopefully this will help you make some changes when you’re at the grocery store, and you won’t feel at all overwhelmed when it comes to whether or not you should go organic.

Dirty Dozen:

1. Apples

Apples are often #1 on the dirty dozen list, so there is no surprise here. Go organic!

2. Strawberries

I would say that all berries should be bought organic; they’re sweet, get sprayed with several pesticides, and do not have a protective layer of skin on them. Te be on the safe side, go for organic berries, even when they’re frozen.

3. Grapes

I love grapes! I wait for them to be in season so that an organic option is more likely to be available.

4. Celery

This is a staple in my house since I add celery to salads and smoothies and I always go for the organic option – you should too!

5. Peaches

Peaches are so sweet and so delicious, it’s tempting to buy them whether they’re organic or not. But, they’re #5 on this year’s list of most contaminated food, so skip the commercial ones and pick up organic peaches.

6. Spinach

Be on the safe side and make sure that your spinach, kale, and lettuce are all organic.

7. Sweet Bell Pepper

Organic sweet bell peppers are usually easy to find, so get those whenever you can.

8. Nectarines (imported)

Every single sample of imported nectarines that was tested by the EWG tested positive for pesticides. Go organic!

9. Cucumbers

Almost everyone I know adds cucumbers to salads and sandwiches, so remember to buy organic to avoid exposure to pesticides. Also, people are tempted to peel the skin off of cucumbers, but I’d advise against this since this is where most of the nutritional value is, including fiber and minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and silica.

10. Potatoes

Ever since I have been following the EWG’s list of top 12 dirty foods, potatoes are always on this list. I know that people love potatoes (I do too!), but we have to remember to buy organic potatoes whenever possible – commercial ones are filled with many pesticides.

11. Cherry Tomatoes

These little tomatoes are sweet and delicious! I buy organic ones from Trader Joe’s; they’re fairly priced and readily available.

12. Hot Peppers

I haven’t seen this one on the list yet, but apparently we should buy organic hot peppers!

Other things to keep in mind…

I’m not much of a coffee drinker myself, but if I were, I’d be sure to seek out organic, fair-trade coffee – and the same goes for chocolate (which I do love!). Whenever I want some dark chocolate, I get organic, fair-trade dark chocolate from Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. I also keep a bag of organic raw cacao powder handy.

I hope this list helps. If you still feel overwhelmed, rest easy! I will post a list of the top 15 clean foods – foods that you don’t have to buy organic.

Are you trying to lead a healthier lifestyle but aren’t sure where to start? Is a trip to the grocery store confusing? Do you need someone who can help you reach your goals? Work with a Health Coach! Schedule a free initial consultation with me and I will create a program that is right for you!

Pledge to Go Veg 2013!


This coming Monday is Earth Day, and fittingly enough, this will be the start of US VegWeek2013! Politicians such as California State Senator Ted Lieu and Assemblymember Das Williams have both pledged to adopt a meatless diet for at least seven days. This is the fifth year for the amazing US VegWeek and it’s a great opportunity to learn more about a meatless diet; by going vegetarian, even for a short while, you’ll be doing yourself, animals, and the environment a huge favor. In fact, according to the Environmental Defense Fund, “if every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetarian foods instead, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads” – wow!

Give yourself a break from heavy, meat-based foods and instead switch to plant-based diet! Celebrities such as Alicia Silverstone, Natalie Portman, Ellen DeGeneres, Portia de Rossi, Tobey Maguire, and more have been praising a meat-free diet for years. Join politicians such as Bill Clinton (who famously lost weight and improved his health by adopting a vegan diet) and discover a range of health benefits for yourself.

Not sure where to start? There are many helpful resources that are available to us; visit or Alicia Silverstone’s to learn more about a vegetarian diet. If you need recipes, be sure to browse the recipe section on my site, as well as on,, and To learn more about the benefits of a meatless diet, including how you can lose weight, get clear skin, prevent or reverse chronic disease, visit the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine at and Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s site at If you haven’t already read The China Study, I highly recommend checking it out!

If you have any questions or want guidance from a professional as you transition into a plant-based diet, or if you want to learn how to make small, lasting changes in a healthy way – without diets or starving yourself, be sure to schedule your free initial consultation with me and I’ll take the time to create a program that is designed just for you and your needs!

Should We Thank Healthy School Lunches for Better Behavior?


When I was younger, I used to wonder how my mom could wake up early every morning to make my entire family breakfast, pack us all homemade lunches, and work a full-time job. I always thought, “I could never do this. I’d rather sleep.” Now that I am older, I thank my mom for taking care of us and I know that I will do the same thing – I just can’t risk my family eating artificial, processed foods several times a day (there’s the health coach in me!).

I remember the number of kids who didn’t have breakfast when I was in school; I wondered how they functioned. I was hungry a little while after I grudgingly woke up for school – weren’t they? The difference between the food that my mom made for me and the food offered at my elementary, junior high, and high schools was vast. My lunches weren’t perfect, but at least I had fresh fruits and vegetables every day; I remember having sandwiches, salads, and fruits for lunch while many other kids had pizza, burgers, fries, soda, and other fat-laden, sugary, processed foods. In high school my teachers always dreaded teaching class right after lunch – everyone was half asleep!

When I talked to my parents about school lunches, they told me that even though my mom made me breakfast and packed a lunch for me, I once requested that I be allowed to eat the school lunch. I saw the other kids chowing down on junk food and I wanted to be allowed to eat the same thing as my classmates (gasp!). My parents agreed and I tried out the school lunch. I was about 8 years old. Apparently I came home on the first night that I ate this school lunch and told my mom that I never wanted to eat it again because the meat was grey and gross! Sadly, I also got sick and my parents do think it’s because of the bad meat that I ate. My mom continued to make my lunch and my parents didnt mind that they had already paid for an entire quarter’s worth of food. I am eternally thankful for this particular thing that they did for me and I want to make sure that children and young adults who are eating school lunches have healthy options.

1. We Think Better When We Eat Healthy Food

It’s true that if we eat fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains we will be able to focus better. Why? These foods are blood sugar stabilizers and we will not have sugar highs and then come crashing down, which is what happens when we eat refined sugars, flours, and artificial, processed junk food. No wonder my classmates were falling asleep after lunch – they had just had a feast fit for Superbowl Sunday – how could they focus? It’s best to load up on fresh, healthy food and skip fatty burgers, fries, and shakes. This is especially true when you want to focus and think better – and who doesn’t want these things?

2. Violence and Misconduct Decreases When People Are Fed Better

Barbara Stitt is the Co-owner of Natural Ovens Bakery; she was a probation officer for over 20 years in Ohio and she says that, “correcting the food corrected the behavior” of people she worked with from the courts. She took this knowledge and worked with Appleton Central High School, which is located an hour from her bakery in Wisconsin. With her help, the high school eliminated trans fats, refined sugars, refined flours, and foods with artificial colors and flavors. She replaced the fast food that students were having for lunch on a regular basis and she got rid of vending machines. Instead, students are now enjoying a salad bar, real juice with concentrated omega-3 fatty acids, fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. What’s shocking is that Appleton High hadn’t had a kitchen in 7 years! Thankfully, this has changed and students continue to enjoy the benefits of a healthier diet. Tom Almendarez, a former student says, “For me, it makes me feel like I have a better attention span. I don’t feel like I’m tired all day.” In the first two years of these amazing changes, Appleton High was able to cut $5 million out of its operational budget because there was significantly less vandalism, litter, and violence. Barbara explains that the food they brought in to the school was the food that was mandated by the U.S. government in 1946; this consists largely of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and Barbara Stitt made sure to also include legumes, nuts, seeds, and water.

In the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine’s 2004 national school lunch report card it states, “Schools such as Central High…have noticed tremendous, health, behavioral, and learning benefits.” Indeed, Appleton’s drop out rate went from 10% to less than 1% after they switched to this healthier menu.

3. The Benefits of Healthier School Lunches Gives Hopes to Other Schools

Other schools have followed Appleton’s lead; in Olympia, Washington, schools have real juice, organic salad bars, and students enjoy local produce. In Des Moines, Iowa, schools now have fresh fruits and vegetables and students have access to an unlimited supply of these foods – most of which are gone before the end of the day. In Los Angeles, Monroe High School has shifted to healthier school lunches and saw a 74% decrease in violence within the 1st year of its program. Students asked for a salad bar and their wish was granted!

If you are packing a lunch for your kids, that’s wonderful; be sure to include water, fresh fruits, vegetables, and some whole grains. If your children are eating school lunches, check to make sure that they are offered a healthy selection of food. If not, get involved and see how you can make a change. Need encouragement? Check out these resources:

Want to learn how you can transform your diet and lifestyle so you can focus more, weigh less, and look your best? Do you want to make sure your kids are on the right track to staying healthy and fit? Join me for a free initial consultation so we can get started on your wellness journey!