Fresh Chopped Parsley

Food is Medicine: Exploring the Anti-Inflammatory Diet

I’ve been exploring the concept of food as medicine as a way to help deal with the pain and inflammation of my knee. So many years of bearing excess weight, and running half marathons at 200+ pounds have caught up with me. I’ve got bone on bone in my left knee, along with damage to all of my ligaments. Since my gastric bypass, I am no longer able to take NSAIDs for inflammation and pain, so I have turned to more homeopathic approaches like arnica, CDB topical products, heat and ice, and food. Yes, food.

Since starting my health coaching program, I have learned quite a bit about the healing properties of a lot of different foods and spices and the benefits of a primarily plant-based diet to help heal a variety of ailments. I recently picked up the book “Healing Arthritis” by Susan Blum. The book connects arthritis to other immune and inflammatory disorders and focuses on restoring gut health, elimination of inflammatory foods, and reducing inflammation without adding medication. I heard Dr. Blum discuss the connection between gut health and arthritis in an interview with Dr. Mark Hyman on Twitter. I’m a skeptic at times, but the science makes sense to me.

Last week I received a few recipes from my own health coach and fellow student at Institute for Integrative Nutrition to address my goals of adding more plant-based foods and more anti-inflammatory, healing foods into my diet. One was this recipe for Easy Vegan Red Lentil Dal, which I ended up pairing with a modified version of a quinoa salad that features turmeric.  Seemed like a good pairing.

Both recipes together took me about an hour to prepare and clean up (for me, I need to know how much clean up there will be, and I am definitely getting more efficient about cleaning as I go). I’m definitely going to incorporate these recipes into my food prep tool box.  Considering the volume of food I can eat, I may consider cutting the recipe in half next time, or sharing with my food prep clients too. If you try them, let me know what you think!

Serves 6

Easy Vegan Red Lentil Dal

5 minPrep Time

15 minCook Time

20 minTotal Time

Recipe Image
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  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 cups dried red lentils
  • 1 (15oz) can of coconut milk (full-fat or light - I used light)
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt & pepper (or to taste)


  1. Wash lentils in a strainer and let them drain.
  2. Bring water to a boil.
  3. Add lentils and coconut milk.
  4. Return mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
  5. Cook (uncovered) for 10 minutes until the lentils have softened, then stir in spices and cook for another 5 minutes.
Recipe Type: Vegan


Serve with quinoa, cauliflower rice, or brown rice. The turmeric quinoa recipe pairs nicely, served on a bed of arugula.


Winding down 2017 — as a prepper!

Chopping Vegetables with caption: Meal Prep Mania

It’s not what you think. I am not preparing for the end of the world by stocking up my underground bunker in the middle of nowhere. I find myself at the end of the new year venturing into new territory!

For the last two weeks, I have been testing out a service: meal prep. I’m not just creating Pinterest boards full of bento box perfection (although I did create a Food Prep board). I’ve started preparing meals for a client at her insistence.This wasn’t what I had in mind when I started on this health coaching track, but hey — if I can help someone take control of their health and well-being, why not! She wants to eat healthy, but doesn’t want to take the time to do all of the prep.

I get it.  There’s sometimes when it’s easy to grab some pre-boiled eggs and some string cheese and call it a day. But to really eat healthy, to get in your greens and fiber, and all the goodness of whole food nutrition, it takes work and planning.

And meal prep for someone else keeps me on track too. I’m definitely getting more efficient the more I do this.

I thought I would share a few tips for you to try if you’re embarking on a food prep adventure in the new year.

  1. Planning starts with the menu. Pick a few recipes that you plan to make and that you can make in bulk.  I usually will make a few different entrees, a few vegetable side dishes, and sometimes a grain. Then I find a few breakfast recipes like steel cut oats, protein muffins, egg fritatta muffins, and green smoothies. Once I have the menu down, I make a grocery list. Many times I already have a lot of staples at home, but I’ll just need a few extra thing.  I also plan things like extra greens for smoothies and salads, fruit and veggies for snacks, and some basic protein options like eggs, cheese, cottage cheese and yogurt that can be used at any time for a snack or meal.
  2. Shopping – I try to do all my shopping at one place, and since I know the layout of our local store well, I try to put my lists in the order that food is laid out at the store.  Believe it or not this saves time. For produce, I tend to buy organic, or at least follow the Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen guidelines. I also go with frozen organic fruit for smoothies.  I consume such a small amount of food, it usually goes bad before I can eat it unless it’s frozen.
  3. Unpack and prep. Once home, I put away anything I’m not going to immediately use, but I will wash and chop all the veggies needed for recipes so they are good to go.
  4. Plan your order. If you are roasting vegetables, I try to get those washed, chopped, and prepped to throw in the oven at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or so, and I can switch out sheet pans as I go. I try to find all recipes that cook at roughly the same temperature to save some time too.
  5. Clean as you go. I am one of those people who tends to use every bowl, pot and pan in the house when I do food prep.  I like to clean up between each recipe to keep things organized and to save some time at the end when the last thing in the world I want to do is wash another dish.
  6. Package for mix and match. As I prep my food, I portion everything out for my portion sizes that are roughly the same caloric value or macro nutrients. That way, I can just grab a few things to mix and match during the day that can also be interchangeably breakfast or lunch or dinner. I tend to make “buddha bowl” type things where I can add  various proteins to greens, grains, roasted vegetables, and maybe add an interesting dressing or sauce, or just top with hummus or some other pureed bean recipe. I like to make it an adventure.
  7. Save what works! When you find a recipe that’s easy and tasty, make sure you pin it to a Pinterest board or add it to your folder of favorite recipes.  You’ll want to add that to the rotation.
  8. Have fun! Put on some good tunes and your Fitbit and dance around the kitchen.  Time on your feet is time you aren’t on the couch, and cooking really can be a lot of fun.

Now that I have a few weeks under my belt of actually doing this for someone else, I can see some benefits for myself. I’m challenging myself to try some new things — like baking.  It was never really my thing, but now I have made a number of different sugar free and low sugar treats, and really awesome protein muffins made from black beans!

Whether your goals for 2018 are to eat healthier or move more, there’s a way to build some simple steps into your life to get you on that track. I’d love to discuss your goals and intentions for the year. Are you ready for the big things ahead?  I know I sure am! Contact me for a free consultation if your are interested in learning more about health coaching and about how you can incorporate more home cooking into your diet and lifestyle.

Clean Eating: Bariatric Style

Adobe Spark-6

There’s so many resources about diet after bariatric surgery when you are post-surgery to about 6 months. Moving from liquid, to puree, to solid stages during weight loss comes with a lot of guidelines. What life looks like post-weight loss is not nearly as well-documented. I know when I was researching surgery, I followed so many blogs of people who were going through weight loss, and they all seem to get to a certain point and then stop documenting the journey. Even my own blogging has slowed down now that I have reached maintenance.

This week in my health coach training, one of our assignments is to create a resource for my clients about clean eating. Do you need to recreate the wheel for bariatric patients? I think not.

Here’s some guidance from our curriculum:

  1. Keep It Whole
  2. Experiment with Home Cooking
  3. Limit Refined Carbohydrates
  4. Maintain Consistent Eating Times and Try Not to Skip Meals
  5. Balance Your Plate

Let’s put the bariatric spin on this.

There are rules we have to follow as bariatric patients (and they may vary from surgeon to surgeon, so it’s important to follow YOUR program). First and foremost, we must take our vitamins and supplements. For me, this means a bariatric formulated multi-vitamin, calcium with vitamin D, vitamin B-12, and 60-80 grams of protein specifically from protein supplement. Since we’ve got through a major surgery to reroute our digestion, supplementation to ensure proper absorption of these nutrients is critical.

Emphasize Quality Over Quantity

This applies to your supplements as well as food. I have chosen bariatric formulated products to ensure maximum absorbtion. It is expensive? Not compared to feeling like crap and being 90 pounds overweight. It’s all relative. We have one body in this lifetime and we’ve already put it through a lot to get to where we are going, so invest in your health.

The same goes for the rest of the things we eat. We’re so limited on how much food we can intake. In the beginning, I was fine with 1/4 cup serving sizes for meals, but as I got more into my exercise program, I gradually increased to 1/2 cup per meal, and now that I am in maintenance, I can eat much more — depending on the food, but the quality of that food matters.  Since we can only eat so much, nutrient dense food is the way to go. So:

  1. Choose Whole Foods

When planning meals, think of choosing the most unprocessed food and keep it simple. I always include a protein source as my primary food and eat that first, followed by whole vegetables and fruits. I lean towards a plant based diet, so protein sources can include beans, lentils, tempeh, tofu, or hummus but I will also include vegetarian sources like eggs, cottage cheese, string cheese, greek yogurt, or other reduced fat cheese. Occasionally I will eat chicken or fish, but try to choose organic and sustainably raised animal products when I do choose them. I will typically pair these foods with organic fruit or vegetables, usually fresh, sometimes frozen. Simplicity is the key.  I will meal prep simple “lunchables” that are roughly the same quantities that I can mix and match over the course of the week and have prepped and ready to go to throw in my lunch bag.

Here’s a few examples:

  • Eggs with sliced tomatoes
  • Cottage cheese with sliced peaches
  • Tempeh with hummus in a lettuce wrap
  • Kale and red cabbage salad with beans or hummus
  • Roasted root vegetables with grilled chicken

You are only limited by your imagination.

2. Experiment with home cooking

Food prep keeps things fun and interesting. Typically I will find a recipe on Pinterest that I will make as an entree to have for lunch or dinner for the week, or I will find some kind of plant-based salad to make that can be paired with a protein source or just enjoyed as a snack between meals. My pinterest account has a collection of bariatric friendly and plant-based recipes that I will adapt based on my current nutritional needs.

I am still recovering from my kidney surgery, so I have had to adapt my portions and my food to a reduced intake due to reduced exercise quantity and intensity. Eating at home really helps me to control what I take in, reduce the amount of sugar, salt and carbs I eat, and the quality of food. And home cooking doesn’t have to mean elaborate meals. Choosing one or two recipes a week keeps things interesting, and helps keep things simple. Use herbs and spices and find homemade recipes for things like salad dressing to avoid any additional additives outside of “real” food. Once you find recipes that are easy, you can adapt them to fit your own nutritional needs and your creativity.

3. Limit refined carbohydrates.

Actually, really just leave these out. I’m not an “everything in moderation” advocate. For most bariatric patients, refined carbohydrates is what got us into this mess.  Sugar, flour, rice, pasta and the like. There are some people who can work these back into their diets, but I know how easy it can be to go back to old habits. My recommendation is to steer clear of processed foods and find whole food alternatives to your favorites. Bariatric Eating is a great resource for recipes to help keep those cravings at bay.

I have been experimenting with whole grains, like millet, quinoa, and freekah. I find that I can use them as a condiment. I will add a tablespoon or two to a salad to provide some density and add fiber and protein. It’s satisfying enough, but doesn’t trigger any cravings for me. I am intentionally avoiding food like edamame or chick pea pasta, because I know if will be a trigger for me. I am a realist, and I see how quickly I can gain weight if not following the bariatric diet recommendations. I don’t want to be that person who gained all their weight back and more after gastric bypass.  I’ve just worked too hard for that. Everyone needs to find their own tolerance level.

4. Maintain consistent eating times and try not to skip meals

One of the most important things for me was to create a schedule/routine for myself around my meals. On a typical workday, I do a protein shake before my workouts, eat a small mid morning meal when I get to work, walk at lunchtime and then have a small lunch at 1ish, eat dinner around 6 and then have a shake before bed, or have my shake as a mid afternoon snack. This has worked well for me once I met my goal weight. I’m currently a few pounds higher than my goal weight which I attribute to being a limited activity, so I am reducing the number of snacks I have and really focusing on nutrient dense and lower calorie meals.  It’s HARD, but sticking with the routine helps me from getting too far off the rails.

5. Balance your plate

I have always tried to have a good balance of protein, carbs and fat at each meal, but the fat typically comes from healthy sources like nuts and seeds, avocado, or olive oil. Carbs are never simple carbs – they are typically vegetables or fruit, and I stick with he lower glycemic fruit like melon and berries per bariatric recommendations. I do my food prep and thinking about variety and creating balanced meals. Very often food prep for me is just making sure everything is washed and chopped and ready to go for mix/match salads, stir fries, or snacking.

So there’s my bariatric take on the IIN clean eating recommendations. When working with clients, I stress that everyone has their individual needs and can typically figure out which foods work best for them, but I look forward with helping clients with those discoveries to encourage variety, simplicity, and health — whether they choose a plant-based approach or not.

Interested in setting up a free coaching session? Contact me and we’ll set something up. You will help me develop my coaching skills, and we can work to find some tips to help you achieve your health and fitness goals too.