Lettuce Be Happy


May is National Salad Month – a great time to perfect your salad recipe before your first barbecue this summer! More importantly, it is also a good time to read up on the jam-packed nutrients found in your leafy greens. For me, the choice to become a vegetarian many years ago made salads a staple part of my diet. While you don’t need to stop eating meat in order to enjoy more salads, you should find a balance between the two—or better yet, combine the two! You will have a protein- and vitamin-rich meal that is not only healthy – it’s tasty!

So, to help you see why things are always greener on the other side, let’s chat and chew about the health benefits of eating salad.

Build your strength. Between spinach, radicchio and watercress (all types of leaves), there’s a lot of vitamin K to go around. A Tufts University study showed that low dietary intake of vitamin K, specifically in women, has been associated with low bone mineral density. So, don’t crack under pressure—salads aren’t that intimidating. Instead, toss around a few ideas until you find the perfect combination—your bones will thank you!

See things more clearly. Treat yourself to a salad with spinach, romaine, and red leaf lettuce, and you might literally see things more clearly. These leaves are full of carotenoids vitamin A, which helps eyes adapt from bright light to darkness, while Lutein and Zeaxanthin help filter out high-energy light that may damage your eyes due to free radicals. (1)

Hit the trifecta. Salads are a smart choice for anyone, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. Not only are salads VERY low in calories, eating them helps reduce cravings for other fatty foods. Even better – start with a small salad before a meal and you’ll reduce your chances of over-eating.  

You can still enjoy fast food. While I’m sure McDonald’s or Burger King is coming to mind, rest assured, that’s not my point. Salads are quick and easy to whip up before you leave for work in the morning, during your lunch break, or at night when you’re exhausted from a long day. Just because you’re busy, doesn’t mean your health has to suffer. Healthier choices not only lead to more greens on your plate, but more green in your wallet. 

Sleep more soundly. The sleep-inducing substance called ‘lactucarium’, which is found in lettuce, has been known to treat cases of insomnia. (2)  


Now that you know how beneficial salads are to your health, why not try some recipes on your own? Try mixing together one from the list below: 

As we gear up for summer and get-togethers with friends and family, try spreading the healthy habits wherever you go! Just because it’s not January, it doesn’t mean we can’t work toward new resolutions. Use this month to start eating salads every week—or day—and start enjoying the simple (and healthier) things in life!

Nuts about almonds!

ALMONDAlmonds are a quick and easy snack to grab on your way out the door, or you can use them as a topping on a meal or dessert. They are loaded with nutrition value, which isn’t surprising since they are among the healthiest of tree nuts. Grabbing a handful of almonds a day also has health benefits—they help promote heart health, prevent weight gain, and can even help fight diseases such as diabetes and Alzheimer’s.

So, in recognition of National Almond Day, let’s chat and chew about how the nutrient-rich snack can improve your health.

The Nutrients 

Although almonds are small in size, just 23 almonds a day can give you many key nutrients needed in your diet. Almonds are rich in vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. They are also a great source of protein and fiber, and naturally low in sugar. 

The Health Benefits of Almonds

  • Lower your cholesterol. Eating almonds boosts levels of vitamin E in your diet and bloodstream, which helps defend your cells against possible everyday damage and prevent “artery-clogging oxidation of cholesterol.” (more)
  • Reduce your risk of cancer. Researchers at the Department of Nutrition, University of California, Davis, conducted a study that suggested, “Almond consumption may reduce colon cancer risk…”
  • Reduce you risk of heart disease. The FDA reports, eating 1.5 ounces of most nuts, like almonds, each day, may reduce the risk of heart disease. The nutrients in almonds contribute toward heart health, like magnesium, which is vital for preventing heart attacks and hypertension. In addition, clinical studies have shown almonds to be effective in reducing bad cholesterol and conserving healthy cholesterol. (more)
  • They help you maintain a healthy weight. Almonds have fiber, protein, and fat content that make you feel full after consuming a small amount; you will be less likely to overeat. Also, magnesium in almonds helps regulate blood sugar, which is essential for reducing food cravings, according to Fitness Magazine. Although very healthy, almonds are high in calories—160 calories in 23 almonds—so it’s important to stick to the recommended serving size of 1 ounce, or 23 total.


Infographic © Waist Healthy / http://www.waisthealthy.com/are-you-nuts-about-almonds.html

Healthy Almond Recipes

If you’re looking for a twist on the basic raw almond snack, try some of these recipes:

The health benefits of almonds are extensive—they are even beneficial for maintaining healthy hair, skin, and dental care. For more, check out Organic Facts’ article. So, try grabbing a handful of almonds for an afternoon snack, or incorporate them into your breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Don’t delay—start enjoying a healthier life this month!

Fruits of February


When the weather is chilly, or you’re faced with having to shovel your way to the car, you’re likely not thinking about fruits and vegetables. Throughout the winter months, it’s harder to motivate yourself to stay healthy—trust me, I enjoy being surrounded by comfort foods too—but it’s important to choose your snow day treats wisely.

In preparation of six more weeks of winter, consider adding avocados and bananas to your grocery list this month. Both make great snack options, but more importantly, have a ton of nutritious value.

So, let’s chat and chew about the health benefits of avocados and bananas—recipes included.

Nutritional Breakdown


  • Bananas: Rather than go bananas this winter, eat one. Bananas are jam-packed with potassium, which protects your cardiovascular system; it also helps guard against high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, and stroke.
  • Avocados: Although bananas give this green, pear-shaped fruit a run for its money, it comes up short in the end. One avocado actually contains more than twice (975 mg) the amount of potassium in a banana.


  • Bananas: No one would ever deny better digestion—one thing you won’t find with high-fat and sugary foods. Bananas suppress acid in the digestive track, which helps alleviate heartburn and prevent ulcers.
  • Avocados: Both bananas and avocados contain soluble fiber, which can aid in weight loss, decrease blood sugar spikes, and is also linked to lower risk of various diseases. In addition, soluble fiber “is known to be able to feed the friendly gut bacteria in the intestine,” which are important for ideal body function.


  • Both bananas and avocados may help prevent cancer. Bananas are good sources of Vitamin C, which can help fight the formation of free radicals known to cause cancer. Research also states, “consuming bananas… in the first two years of life may reduce the risk of developing childhood leukemia.” (more)  Avocados on the other hand, are rich in phytochemicals. These chemical compounds have been shown to help prevent the development of certain cancers.

The list continues…

Both fruits have a laundry list of health benefits—many of which overlap one another. While the reasons above prove why bananas and avocados are valuable to any diet, there are other benefits worth noting.

  • Reduce the risk of diabetes, stroke, and coronary heart disease
  • Promote a healthy body weight
  • Help overcome depression and improve mood (bananas)
  • Protect our eyes and vision / Vitamin A (bananas)
  • Lower cholesterol (avocados)

Now knowing just how beneficial bananas and avocados are for your health, if you find yourself stuck inside on a cold day, try whipping up one of these recipes:

It’s amazing how something as simple as a banana or an avocado can make such a big impact. I encourage you to try them, or if you’re already a fan, get creative with a new recipe. If you missed our previous blog post featuring a yummy guacamole recipe, check it out here. As always, feel free to comment and share your secret to staying healthy!


Is gluten-free the way to be?


Within the last couple years, a gluten-free diet has made a name for itself, appearing in health and fitness magazines as the trendy new thing to try. On the flip side, Celiac disease has given people no choice in the matter—a gluten-free diet can be the difference between life and death.

So, let’s chat and chew about whether or not you should go gluten-free.

What is Gluten?

First and foremost, Gluten is a protein, which acts as the glue that holds food together, helping to keep its shape. Although gluten is found in many foods, the top three include wheat, barley, and rye. 

What is Celiac disease?

Google1 explains Celiac disease as “a condition that damages the lining of the small intestine.” Furthermore, gluten prevents the small intestine from absorbing parts of food that are essential to staying healthy. The National Digestive Diseases Clearinghouse estimates that more than 2 million people—or, 1 in every 133 people—are affected by Celiac disease in the United States2.

Why Gluten-free?

While a gluten-free diet is primarily used to treat someone with Celiac disease, there are advantages for people experiencing other health-related issues. Erica Kannall3, registered dietitian and certified health/fitness specialist, states that, “eliminating gluten may improve conditions ranging from digestion to thinking.” Rather than take another prescription or rely on caffeine, if you’re experience symptoms similar to these or the ones below, maybe a gluten-free diet will do the trick.

  • Digestion: The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) states that removing gluten from your diet reduces chances of stomachaches, abdominal cramping, gas, bloating, and more4.
  • Neurological: According to Kannall, eliminating gluten can lead to improved moods, better focus, and clearer thinking as well. NFCA also found that “people with gluten sensitivities report that eating gluten causes headaches, foggy thinking, ADHD-like symptoms, and even depression4.”
  • Inflammation: Inflammation in body tissues or itchy rashes can result from gluten sensitivity. The Mayo Clinic reports that people with a gluten intolerance may experience joint pain, muscle cramping, and numbness after consuming gluten5.
  • Energy: Gluten sensitivity prevents proper digestion and absorption of vitamins/minerals the body needs, which can lead to malnutrition and a drop in energy levels.

What’s on the menu?

As expected with any lifestyle change, individuals who choose to be gluten-free might feel deprived at first because of dietary restrictions. Surprisingly though, there are far more Gluten-free products—even bread and pasta—than one might think. Check out this list, provided by the Celiac Disease Foundation6, which discusses safe gluten-free options, as well as foods you must avoid.

New to gluten-free baking? Get started with this Guide to Gluten-Free Baking.

Or, jump right in with some of these gluten-free recipes:

Regardless of why somebody chooses to live a gluten-free lifestyle, it’s important to note that this diet is not as cut-and-dry as others. Always consult your doctor or a dietician before making changes to your lifestyle or diet. If you’re interested in trying a gluten-free diet, check out online forums for people’s feedback on their personal experiences.

Have something to add? Join the conversation – leave a comment below!


  1. Google Search; Celiac disease
  2. Prevention Magazine
  3. Healthy Eating / SFGATE
  4. National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA)
  5. The Mayo Clinic
  6. Celiac Disease Foundation