Broccoli with creamy guacamole dressing, cumin-dusted chickpeas, dried cranberries, walnuts & vegan chorizo bits

Mexicali Broc and Guac

I wanted a healthy low-carb Mexican dish with guacamole, and this vegetable, bean & nut salad exceeded my expectations. The creamy guacamole coats the broccoli so nicely that each spear is delicious! The roasted chickpeas add texture and protein. The dried cranberries have a wonderful sweet and sour punch. The walnuts add a nice crunch, and additional healthy fat. The vegan chorizo bits are optional, but I like them because they add additional crunch, more protein and lots of heat! If you don’t like spicy food, just omit the chorizo. I’ve nicknamed this recipe: Mex Broc and Guac

 Vegan Broc, Guac and Spice


  • 1 can of chick peas, rinsed and drained
  • cumin
  • Salt
  • chorizo (optional. I used Tofurky Chorizo Style)
  • 2 large bunches of broccoli
  • ¼ red onion, diced
  • Prepared guacamole
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place the chickpeas on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. With a potato-masher, press down half the chickpeas to smash them. Sprinkle salt and cumin to lightly dust each one. Heat in oven for 30 minutes so that some of them are crispy-crunchy.

Place the crumbled chorizo onto a heated fry pan (no oil is needed), and cook until some pieces are crisp. The amount to cook depends on how much each person would want. One tablespoon is enough for me, but my husbands likes about four tablespoons. Think of it as crumbled bacon bits on top of a salad to determine how much to cook for each person.

Next, fill a large saucepan with water and bring to a boil. While the water is heating up, slice the broccoli into long, thin, bite size pieces, keeping a lot of the stems attached to the broccoli flower head. After the water boils, add a few shakes of salt, and add the broccoli. Turn on the timer for 5 minutes. Check the broccoli (taste a piece) to see if it’s done enough for your liking. Some people like broccoli fairly raw, but I like broccoli that’s firm, but soft enough so that my teeth still sink into the stalks fairly easily. You probably won’t need to cook the broccoli more than 9-10 minutes. After the broccoli is cooked, drain the water through a colander. Then, add the drained broccoli to a salad spinner to remove any excess water; this makes it easy to get the guacamole to stay on, and won’t thin out the dressing.

In a large glass bowl, add the broccoli, diced red onion, and dried cranberries. Add one cup of guacamole (this is the dressing) to the bowl, and toss with your hands so that all of the broccoli is coated with the guacamole. Plate ¾ to 1 cup of broccoli on a large plate. Remove the cooked chick peas from the oven and place on a hot pat. Add three or more tablespoons of chickpeas on top of the plated broccoli. Then sprinkle one tablespoon of chopped walnuts on top. Lastly, add the cooked chorizo bits on and around the plate. Serve cold or cooled down.

Serves 4.

The vitamin no one takes, but should

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Vitamin K2 works with vitamins A, D, and calcium to strengthen bones and keep our bodies healthy and running efficiently. Without vitamin K2, calcium could end up in joints and arteries. Lack of this essential vitamin is linked to osteoporosis, atherosclerosis, bone fractures, plaque in coronary arteries, vitamin D toxicity, insulin resistance, MS, excess body fat, and even cancer. “Vitamin K2 completely blocks free radical accumulation” (pg 112). “Vitamin K deficiency is also linked to Alzheimer’s’” (pg. 113) and “…increases our risk of diabetes” (pg 112). How does Vitamin K do this? It has many roles, one being that Vitamin K improves insulin absorption. If you think vitamins are not important, a reminder is that doctors insist on pregnant women to take prenatal vitamins to prevent disease and deformity in their unborn children.

Never heard of K2? Most people haven’t. When people think of Vitamin K, that’s K1 from green leafy green vegetables, which doesn’t readily convert to K2. It’s rare that people are deficient in Vitamin K1. K2 sources used to be abundant, but because of practices to increase profits, instead of increasing nutrients in the foods we eat, most people are deficient in K2.

K2 comes from fat, butter, and liver from animals that roam freely in the sun and eat grass (now they are fed blood, organs, and grain, and are sheltered in small confined spaces), and from bright orange egg yokes from chickens who are out in the open air, getting natural vitamin D from sunshine. K2 also comes from natto, which is spoiled, slimy soybeans that is found in some Japanese diets. You can get your K2 from kimchi, a fermented cabbage dish with vegetables (I tried it and my stomach hurt for hours), and from emu oil (which you can buy and use to moisturize your skin).

Joint pain could be caused from eating sugar, a lack of exercise, or from a deficiency of K2; Calcium can settle in joints instead of building bones. K2 pushes calcium where it needs to go and ushers it away from where it shouldn’t. K2 deficiency could also be an indication of frozen shoulder where the shoulder becomes calcified, resulting in pain and limited range of motion.

When searching for a K2 vitamin, look for K2 with MK-7. You don’t want Vitamin K2 with MK-4, that’s synthetic, and potentially harmful. If you’re vegan, you don’t want MK-4 because that’s from animal products. Even if you’re not vegan, MK-4 isn’t the most beneficial form of K2. You want the natural non-animal form of K2, which is MK-7. Look for one that is non-GMO and has the GMP designation, which stands for good manufacturing practices.

Dr. Kate Rheamume-Bleue, author of “Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox,” recommends taking vitamins A, D3, K2, magnesium and calcium together with some fat. You can omit the Vitamin A as long as you take these vitamins with food containing protein. If you’re taking blood thinners, she recommends no more than 50 mcg of K2 MK-7 per day (see 2nd link below). If you cannot find this small amount of MK-7 by itself, you can, instead search for a multi-vitamin which will typically have less MK-7. She recommends 120 mg of MK-7 for most people, but she ups the dosage for her type 2 diabetic and overweight patients to 240 mg of MK-7.

This is one I ordered:

K2 MK-7 90 mcg $11.86 60 soft gels

For those on blood thinners:

Low dose 45 mcg MK-7:


1.       Source: Rheaume-Bleue, Dr. Kate. Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox. How a Little-Known Vitamin Could Save Your Life. Wiley. 2012. Print.

Photo: Me

Nutrient Deficiencies: Are nuts, grains & beans the culprit?

gluten-free vegan berry millet breakfast bowl

I was baffled that my blood tests show that I am deficient in many nutrients, like zinc, magnesium, and iron, even though I eat a well-rounded, whole-foods diet. I stay away from wheat, gluten, fried foods, fast food, and limit packaged foods and sugar. I make all my meals from scratch. I’m a healthy weight and exercise regularly. So, what the heck is the issue? At first I thought my nutrients were low because I don’t consume a lot of calories, but my iron levels have been low for years. I have added probiotics, which helps with digestion, but I am still nutrient deficient. My various trainers over the years have told me time-and-time again to stop eating nuts, but I love nuts. They are my favorite go-to snack, and they’re good for you.

I have cut back on nuts, and added more grains to my diet, but I realized that my body will only tolerate so much quinoa, rice or oats in one day. That maximum limit my sensitive stomach seems to be okay with is a total of 1 ½ cups of total grains a day, which isn’t a lot. The same problem goes with beans; some is good, more is no-so-great, even with the addition of probiotics chock-full of enzymes. Do those on Paleo diets that omit these foods know something I don’t. Is phytic acid from grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes really something I need to be concerned about, or it is just another diet-scare tactic?

After quite a bit of research over the years, having digestive issues, and odd blood work, I do believe that the phytic acid is doing me harm*. Phytic acid protects nuts, seeds, grains, and beans, and unless the phytic acid is removed, it won’t unlock the nutrients from these foods for us to digest. What’s even worse is that phytic acid can reduce our absorption of vitamins and minerals (1,2,5,6), but I don’t want to give up these foods and I don’t want to spend more time in the kitchen soaking and sprouting food. The good news is that sprouted quinoa, sprouted rice, sprouted oats, sprouted nut butters, sprouted vegan protein powder, and sprouted nuts are available in specialty stores or on-line. I haven’t seen any reputable information on whether canned beans have less phytic acid, but I choose to buy Eden brand beans because they include kombu which helps with digestion.

Unfortunately, there are other foods that I eat often that also contain phytic acid: chocolate and coconut. I’ve switched to carob powder instead of chocolate, and I like it because it’s sweeter, and not bitter like cocoa powder. Coconut is another food I eat every day. I do like coconut flakes sprinkled on top of a smoothie or in a dessert, but you can buy freeze-dried sprouted coconut (I haven’t tried it yet, but definitely want to). I could probably put the chunks of freeze-dried coconut in my food processor to shred it.

I use coconut milk in my smoothies, but since the fiber is removed, the amount of phytic acid is quite low (3). Since the specific type of phytic acid in coconut is different than what is found in nuts, seeds and wheat, it won’t deplete minerals so we don’t have to worry about giving up coconut (4). While we cannot remove all phytic acid by eating sprouted versions of these foods, it is reduced greatly by soaking and sprouting, it’s impossible to remove one-hundred percent of phytic acid completely from our diets and some is good because it fights against cancer.

What I plan to do is purchase spouted grains, spouted nuts, sprouted nut butters, and sprouted oats when my current supply runs out. When I want a chocolate snack, I’ll use  carob powder instead of cocoa. I plan to eat chocolate only on occasion, and limit grains overall, and add more vegetables like yams, sweet potatoes, and various squashes so I get my healthy carbs to fuel my muscles and give me energy. I’m also going to buy a big bag of oranges and eat one a day to boost iron stores. I’ll probably look for a probiotic supplement that contains phytase, which is an enzyme that enhances nutrient absorption. Staying healthy is so much harder because of the way food is produced today.

*If you have high iron stores, you don’t need to be concerned about phytic acid.

P.S. For more information about nutrition, check out my book at

  1. Blum Ms, RD, CDN, CNS; Esther. Cave Women Don’t Get Fat. Gallery Books. 2013. Print. Pg. 21-22.
  2. Rheaume-Bleue, Dr. Kate. Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox. How a Little-Known Vitamin Could Save Your Life. Wiley. 2012. Print. Pg. 230-233.

Tone It Up vegan protein powder review

Tone it Up vegan protein powder samples

Target Stores sell Tone It Up Vegan protein powder in tubs, and they sell samples for $2.49 each. The sample flavors they had available for sale were Chocolate and Vanilla so I bought one of each. I wanted to try the Peanut Butter flavor, and my husband wanted to try the Coconut and the Café Late protein powder flavors, but we didn’t want to buy the tubs for $22.99 in case we didn’t like it.

First, I tried the Chocolate pea protein powder. I added one frozen banana and one cup of So Delicious plain coconut milk. The end result was a really sweet, thick, slightly chalky smoothie, with not much of a chocolate flavor. I recommend, instead of adding milk, using one cup of cold filtered water to thin it out, and adding a few teaspoons of cocoa powder for a richer, stronger chocolate flavor, which should balance out the sweetness. For a chocolate pea protein powder, this is the best tasting one I have tried to date.

The following day I tried the vanilla protein powder with 1 ½ frozen bananas, with one cup of cold filtered water. It tasted like vanilla pudding. It had the perfect thickness, just the right amount of sweetness, but also a slight chalkiness from the pea protein. The vanilla flavor is a bit strong for my liking; it tastes more like French Vanilla. I prefer subtler, more natural flavors, but this is the best vegan protein powder I have tried, and what’s impressive it that it has no sugar, just 3 net grams of carbs, and is only 90 calories per serving. It is a tad lower in protein at 15 grams (20 grams is more common and preferred). The other downside is that a tub only lasts two weeks if you have a smoothie every day like I do, but $46 for a months’ supply of protein powder isn’t too bad.

The bottom line is that these two protein powders taste good, have healthy ingredients, and aren’t too expensive. They don’t have sugar, rice, dairy, stevia, or sugar alcohols. The sweetness comes from zero calorie, zero carb, Monk fruit extract. Since the smoothies are thick, you can save money and calories by omitting milk.

The cheapest store to buy Tone It Up protein powder is at Target for $22.99. Amazon sells the same ones for $35! Even though I am raving about these two flavors, I still prefer my plain collagen protein powder by Great Lakes because there isn’t that chalky texture, it’s not sweet so I can adjust the sweetness by adding more fruit, and it has more protein at about 20 grams for 80 calories.

If you are looking for a sweet, flavorful, vegan pea protein powder, definitely give the Tone It Up Chocolate and Vanilla flavors a try.

P.S. If you are looking for carb-controlled, whole-food, vegan smoothies, check out my cookbooks: Slimming Dairy-Free Smoothies & Desserts, and The High-Five Diet at

Sets & reps depend on your goals. Quick guide

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Since someone else’s fitness goals may be different than yours, it might not be in your best interest to copy someone else’s program. Here’s a simple guide to follow based on whether you want to slim down, increase strength, bulk up like Arnold, or increase power. Make sure to change your workouts every four weeks. To correct and/or prevent imbalances, and to get the maximal benefits of a strong healthy body, incorporate cardio, balance exercises, weights, core training, plyometrics, and flexibility (stretching/foam rolling/Yoga) into your routine.


Goal: lose weight, gain strength, and tone up

  • Reps: 12-20
  • Sets: 1-3
  • Tempo: 4-21 seconds
  • Rest between sets: 0-90 seconds
  • How often to train: twice a week (minimum)


Goal: lose weight and add muscle

  • Reps: 6-12
  • Sets: 3-5
  • Tempo: 2 seconds up, 2 seconds down
  • Rest between sets: 0-60 seconds
  • How often to train: 3-5 times a week


Goal: max muscle gains

  • Reps: 1-5
  • Sets: 4-6
  • Tempo: fast/explosive
  • Rest between sets: 3-5 minutes
  • How often to train: 3-5 times a week


Goal: speed (great for athletes, those in sports)

  • Reps: 1-10
  • Sets: 3-6
  • Tempos: fast/explosive
  • Rest between sets: 3-5 minutes
  • How often: 4 times a week



Rep:  repetition. How many times you perform an exercise at one time. Example: 12 reps = 12 bicep curls

Sets: Three sets of 12 reps = 36 repetitions. Each set represents a break. Take a break, or do a different exercise between each set.

Tempo: the time it takes to complete the movement


P.S. To see the results of your hard work, make sure you are eating the proper nutrients and aren’t overeating. Need recipes, tips, and the best methods to lose bodyfat? Order my book at

Photo: me

Source: Clark, M., Sutten, B., and Lucett, S., NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training. MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning. 2014. Print. 360-362.

Vegan Buttery-Roasted Cauliflower

mustard lemon cauliflower

I bought a large bag of frozen cauliflower at Costco which had all these different colors and varieties (purple is my favorite). Whatever type of cauliflower you have on hand will do. Serve this recipe as a side dish, or as a nutritious snack. I ate the whole thing at once because it’s so tasty.  

frozen cauliflower

frozen cauliflower


  • 1 small cauliflower, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 tablespoon low-calorie vegan buttery spread (I used Earth Balance)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • Grated lemon peel from one lemon
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt…to taste (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place parchment paper on baking sheet. You may need to cut it so it lays inside flat. Place cauliflower pieces on parchment paper so that they are separated. Bake at 400 for 15 minutes. While cauliflower is cooking, melt buttery spread in a small bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds, until melted. Add the rest of the ingredients, except for the salt, and stir until incorporated.

roasted cauliflowerAfter the cauliflower has cooked for 15 minutes, baste the cauliflower with the lemon-butter-spice, and cook 10 more minutes. Remove from oven and place on hot-pad. Let cool a few minutes before eating. Taste a few pieces to see if you like it as is, or you can sprinkle some salt on it. I prefer it with a touch of salt.


P.S. If you want lots of easily-accessable, healthy, dairy-free recipes, check out my cookbooks at

The weight-training sweet-spot


Never train more than 60-90 minutes (this doesn’t include a warm-up, or a cool-down) at a time. Excessing training negatively affects hormones and increases the risk of getting sick. Listen to your body. If you feel too tired to go on after a three minute break, after 30-45 minutes of exercise, cool-down and call it a day. You will work up to longer training periods, over time, if consistent, when your body has adapted. If you’re in the gym for two hours or more at a time and are not seeing results, this is why.


Photo: me

P.S. I have a detailed guide to exercise and weight-training, and provide my one-week workout plan in my book The High-Five Diet. To read a few chapters of the book and order your copy, click here:

Want more information, go to


Source: Clark, M., Sutten, B., and Lucett, S., NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training. MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning. 2014. Print. 362-365.

Should I avoid salt completely?


Salt is an essential nutrient and should NOT be omitted from your diet. The minimum recommended daily allowance of salt, aka sodium, is 4 grams per day. The American Heart Association recommends 1500 mg of salt, which is less than ¾ tsp. Yes, it is recommended that people eat salt every single day for good health.

Many people are under the incorrect assumption that salt is bad. Your doctor may even have told you that you cannot have salt, which is untrue and unhelpful. The reason doctors tell patients this lie is that they want to stress how important it is to limit salt. The real issue is that people eat too many processed foods, and/or dine out, and those meals have way too much salt added.

We’re not all the same, so some people need more salt than others. Cyclists and marathon runners take salt tabs or capsules to minimize cramps, fatigue, and dehydration. Hyponatremia can result in death; this occurs when individuals, like marathon runners, drink a lot of water, but not enough salt. You’ve probably seen lots of ads pushing certain drinks (Gatorade) to replace electrolytes after exercise. Salt is an electrolyte. Salt and water work together as an equilibrium.

On a hot day, when I go to the gym, if I don’t grab that pinch of Celtic Sea salt on my way out the door, towards the end of my workout, I have trouble concentrating, I feel woozy, and I can’t stay hydrated even after drinking lots of water. Luckily my gym has salt at the front desk so I ask for it when needed, and add it to my water. Just by adding those granules of salt, I always feel better within a few minutes. Whenever I get home from the gym, I eat a brined olive to get extra salt to replace the salt I lost from sweating, even though I don’t perspire much compared to other people.

Even though I drink a fruit smoothie with 18 grams of protein powder with a banana (the banana contains natural potassium and magnesium which are electrolyets) before I go to the gym or do cardio, the reason I have to eat salt prior to exercise on a hot day, is because my protein powder has contains only 55 mg of sodium. I add the salty olive post-workout in addition to eating a post-workout meal with a little salt, because my overall diet is low in salt. I make most of my meals from scratch, and I dine out only on occasion.

Don’t ban salt from your diet completely, but do cut back on packaged and processed foods, and restaurant meals. The real demon is sugar.

Photo: Me at World Gym


I can finally eat beans. Here’s how.

digestive enzymes

Even after taking numerous probiotics with different strains and brands, I couldn’t eat beans or cabbage without having an upset stomach. I didn’t eat beans for several years, which meant I couldn’t eat a lot of wonderful recipes. After watching the film “What the Health,” I wanted to go 100% vegan, and decided to resume my search for probiotics that let me eat beans again.

I found Crystal Clear’s Digestive Enzymes on Amazon, and am happy to report that this brand works, and works really well. No more bloating or upset stomach. Now I can eat beans, but also, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage and all those foods that are hard to digest. My husband takes one of these pills before he eats ice cream since he doesn’t digest lactose too well.

 If you have trouble digesting certain foods, give this brand a try. It’s dairy-free and has the GMP (good manufacturing practices) seal on it too.


The 1 carb rule to lose weight & balance blood sugar


For anyone who has high blood sugar and/or wants to lose weight, the one carb rule per meal is very effective. The amount of carbohydrates people eat at one time are typically way too high, which cause insulin spikes and weight gain. By only plating one carb, not exceeding 30 grams, and pairing it with a moderate amount of protein and a little bit of fat, blood sugar shouldn’t skyrocket. For example, a half of cup of cooked oatmeal, a banana, two eggs and a strawberry Yoplait yogurt, would be considered 2 ½ carbs, or 2 ½ times the amount of carbs you should eat at one time.

The oatmeal (30 grams) + banana (30 grams) + yogurt (18 grams) = 78 grams of carbs. To put it in perspective, a Hershey Chocolate Bar has 20 grams of carbs (1). So have the oatmeal and the eggs (I suggest egg whites over whole eggs to reduce fat and cholesterol consumption) and add some sliverered almonds for the fat component; or the banana, egg whites and almonds; or the yogurt with almonds and egg whites, but not all three carbohydrate foods at one sitting.

You’re not going to starve by limiting one carb per meal, because, by adding protein, a little bit of healthy fat, like some nuts, a sprinkle of seeds, or a little bit of chopped avocado, and/or some greens, it will fill you up, but not for long. That’s why you want to eat every two-to-three hours, but don’t exceed six mini meals a day, because then, you’ll be eating too many calories and carbohyrates overall. Breaking up the carbs, instead of having a large carb-loaded meal, will help manange the blood sugar highs and lows.

Here’s some examples of one carb mini meals:

  • Fruit smoothie with one banana, low-carb protein powder (not exceeding 5 grams of carbs), one tablespoon almond butter
  • Tilapia salad with orange slices, red bell pepper, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, olives, and a drizzle of dressing
  • Steak with ½ cup of roasted potatoes with broccoli
  • Tuna with two ounces of pasta (check box to confirm amount of carbs)
  • Tofu with asparagus and a large apple
  • Beans (1/2 cup) with zucchini noodles (1 zucchini) with garlic & spinach

Other steps to take to keep blood sugar stable is to make sure the proteins you choose are low in fat and no more than 20 grams of protein per meal. Eating too much protein leads to weight gain, which will make mananging blood sugar that much harder. You can use an online app like MyFitnessPal to calculate the carbs, calories and protein.

Lastly, exercise. Eating well-proportioned meals is important to staying healthy, but if you’re not engaging in 30 minutes of some sort of challening cardovascular or strength activity, those blood sugars may not drop enough.

All it takes is a little planning, and some optimism. The weight will come off and blood sugar will come down. If you’re taking pills or insulin, don’t stop taking your medication, but keep testing your blood sugar with your test meter, and stay in contact with your doctor to determine if the medication needs to be increased or lowered.

P.S. For healthy, yummy, whole-food, diabetic-friendly, dairy-free & gluten-free, carb-controlled desserts, check out my newest dessert cookbook at

Photo: When out to a Japanese restaurant, limit your sushi roll to just one. These average 30-40 grams of carbs from rice for each one.


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