Butternut Squash-Fruit Casserole

As Thanksgiving Day approaches, you most likely have your list of sides already planned out.  If you are looking for one additional idea, check this powerhouse recipe out.  Best news, no oven time needed!

Finally, Happy Thanksgiving!  I am so grateful for the opportunity to help each and every one of you.  My wish for you, is time to tell those you love how much you appreciate them this week.

Butternut Squash-Fruit Casserole

by Gabe Mirkin

1 butternut squash, about 2 pounds
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
4 cups bouillon
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch cayenne, or to taste
2 tart apples, cored and cut in 1/2″ chunks
1/2 cup dried cranberries (unsweetened, or low sugar)
1 cup cooked barley or other whole grain of your choice
ground cinnamon for garnish

Pierce the squash with a knife in 2 or 3 places. Set in a microwave dish and microwave on high for 3 minutes. When cool enough to handle, cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Cut the squash into bite-size pieces.

Meanwhile, combine the onion, garlic, bouillon, tomato paste, curry powder, nutmeg and cayenne in a large pot. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer 5-10 minutes. When the squash is ready, add it to the pot and cook until the squash is barely tender, about 10 minutes. Add the apples, cranberries and the barley and cook 10-15 minutes more, until the apples are tender. Dust each serving with a pinch of ground cinnamon if desired.

Happy Turkey Day!!!

Protein packed, “Latte” Taste!

I have been enjoying this protein shake all week and I just had to share it.  If you are craving a latte, you MUST try this.  Not only will it fit the bill, but it will keep you fuller longer and out of the grasp of a sugar crash later.

Vanilla Latte Energizer Shake

Why cottage cheese you ask?  It is full of B Vitamins for energy:1/2 cup packs 12% of your daily dose.
1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
1/2 cup brewed strong coffee
1/2 cup low fat (low salt) cottage cheese
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
ice cubes
Blend all ingredients until smooth. Enjoy.
Optional “upgrades” to change it up:
– Omit coffee for more cinnamon flavor
– Substitute cottage cheese for 1/2 cup (4oz) cashew milk – if consistency is a concern                                       – add 1/4 cup raw oatmeal for an added carbohydrate boost after a hard workout
Try it, and let me know what you think via comments.

Upgraded Fried Rice

In the hunt for Thanksgiving recipes, I uncovered this great way to upgrade fried rice to include more veggies.  I had to share it because sometimes a recipe just needs a little creativity to make it healthier.  We will not be eating it with chopsticks at my house, lol, but you get the idea.  Simple upgrades can make a huge the difference in the eating clean world. Let me know how it goes.

Cauliflower Fried Rice:


1 small head of cauliflower (this will produce 2½ cups riced cauliflower)
2 Tbs sesame oil (bit healthier is 1 Tbs grapeseed oil, 1 Tbs sesame oil)
1 small white onion, chopped (about 1 cup chopped onions)
1 cup frozen peas and carrots
2-3 Tablespoons soy sauce (more or less to taste)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp chopped green onions (optional)

see video above

That Sugar Film: Changing Perceptions of “Healthy” Food

In honor of National Candy Day, I am posting a review of a documentary called “That Sugar Film.”  It includes several points I emphasize about hidden sugars.  What is labeled as “healthy” may not be healthy at all.  It is amazing what 60 days of eating only hidden sources of sugar can do to our bodies.  I’ve added a few comments in blue.

“I am an advocate for a healthier life, for greener living, and for putting consumer dollars behind authentic, responsible brands. Me too!  As they say, freedom of choice and informed decisions comes from freedom of information…” Being informed allows us to make decisions about where we want sugar in our lives and where we don’t.

That Sugar Film by Damon Gameau

Damon had not eaten sugar for three years. Under the guidance of a team of professionals, he eats a high sugar diet of 40 teaspoons of sugar a day for 60 days. (By the way, 40 teaspoons is just above the daily teenage average.) He does this without consuming any soda, chocolate, ice cream, or candy. Rather, he only eats foods marketed as “healthy” that actually contain hidden sugars, such as low fat yogurt, granola bars, fruit juices, and cereals.

Let’s just say that he hits the daily 40-teaspoon mark with ease.  Sadly, so do most of us.  You really have to be a savvy consumer to avoid hidden sugars, especially now!  Why?  Because they are even more hidden in labels than ever before.  Did you know there are over 300 names for sugars? 


At the experiment’s conclusion, the team looks at changes in Damon’s blood sugar, heart, liver, and the liver’s production of fat. The results make it clear that too much sugar is quite clearly detrimental to our health, to our weight, and to our well being. When they say that we are what we eat, they really aren’t kidding.

Interestingly, his calorie intake is almost exactly the same as it was before the experiment. The take home message is that a calorie is not a calorie!  We will be seeing more about this in the news for sure.  Sugar does not have a lot of calories, though calories from sugar apparently behave very differently than calories derived from other sources. In fact, a recent article in the British Medical Journal stated that sugar, not physical inactivity, is creating the obesity epidemic.

Did you know that if you remove all of the packaged goods containing added sugar from supermarket shelves, just 20% of items would remain? It turns out that Damon spent the same amount ($$$) at the supermarket both before and during the experiment. It is not more of a financial hardship, as some might assume, to purchase truly healthy fare than it is to purchase sugar-filled products that are simply marketed as healthy.

Through his lighthearted and informative journey, Damon highlights the inner workings of the sugar industry, the harm that sugar can do to the body, and where sugar lurks on supermarket shelves. He looks into the manipulation of food companies in placing sugar into their products and ways that companies seek to keep the dangers of sugar from the public. Considering that sugar intake can be linked to Alzheimer’s, diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, cancer, brain dysfunction, and higher death rates, it is not surprising that many food companies want to keep that information away from us.

This past March, in fact, the University of California at Can Francisco broke news about the finding of documents revealing that the sugar industry worked closely with the National Institutes of Health in the 1960s and ‘70s to develop a federal research program focused on approaches other than sugar reduction to prevent tooth decay in American children.  Part of being a savvy consumer is knowing who is funding the research and headlines you are reading.  

You might think that a documentary about sugar would hold your attention for very long. Yet That Sugar Film will forever change the way you think about so called “healthy” food. It is entertaining, well done, and an informative look at a serious health concern.


That Sugar Film does not insist that people should quit sugar. It investigates how sugar has infiltrated our diet and culture, how it can affect our bodies. So if you have a body, if you have children with bodies, or if you have a significant other with a body, then I highly recommend that you watch this film.  Thanks to Damon Gameau for sharing his film and his discoveries about sugar in a way that does not force his views on anyone else. After all, freedom of choice can only come with freedom of information.”

If you haven’t seen the film yet, it is now available to rent and view online.  Google “That Sugar Film!”  I am here to help you make sense of the senselessness of hidden sugars.  Grab your friends, and let’s do a small group session, online or in person, to help you gain direction and perspective with your eating habits.  

eatlivefit.net or eatlivefit@hotmail.com

7,000 Calories!

What? Yes, this is the average amount of calories in candy a single child will collect on Halloween.
It will take 44 hours of walking for a 100lb child to use up that calorie load. Just sayin’!

Before your child dives into the stash, ask them when they are going to fit in 44 hours of walking this week.

What to do?  Everything in moderation is the good way to approach the holidays. Pick out his/her favorite treat, one per day, and have it along with a small healthy snack.  That way they get a bit of the goodies, but also have other foods in their system to counterbalance the sugar rush in their blood stream.

Change is starting, but don’t be fooled by Vitaminwater.

If you have taken my “What’s the Scoop on Sugar” Seminar, then you are familiar with how much sugar is in this labeled “healthy” drink.  Finally going forward, it’s label will be a little less misleading (see article below).  Eight tsps of sugar in one drink is over the recommended limit for a day.  All of it in only one drink.

Best way to avoid these pitfalls is be a savvy consumer and read labels!

“Vitaminwater Agrees to Avoid Certain Health Claims and Add ‘With Sweeteners’ to Label

Coca-Cola Brand Resolves Lawsuit Over Healthy-Sounding Buzzwords

By E.J. Schultz. Published on September 30, 2015.
Coca-Cola-owned Vitaminwater has agreed to make certain labeling changes as part of a legal settlement with a health group that has criticized the brand’s marketing practices.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest, or CSPI, filed a lawsuit against the company in 2009, alleging that Vitaminwater made deceptive claims by using healthy-sounding buzzwords such as “focus” and “endurance.” The settlement agreement, which has been filed in a federal court in New York, lays out ten statements that Vitaminwater cannot use in its marketing or labeling.

The banned statements include “vitamins + water = what’s in your hand,” “this combination of zinc and fortifying vitamins can . . . keep you healthy as a horse” and “specially formulated to support optimal metabolic function with antioxidants that may reduce the risk of chronic diseases and vitamins necessary for the generation and utilization of energy from food.”
A CSPI spokesman said Coca-Cola began removing many of the statements at issue after the group filed its lawsuit, but that the deal ensures those changes will be permanent.
A Coca-Cola spokeswoman said the company was pleased to reach a resolution. “Although we remain confident in our legal position, it simply made no sense to continue this costly legal battle,” she said.
The settlement also forces the brand to add the words “with sweeteners” on two parts of the label near the brand’s name. According to CSPI, Vitaminwater has 32 grams of sugar, equaling about eight teaspoons.
Of late, Vitaminwater has used the tagline “Hydrate the Hustle.” A TV spot running nationally last year featured comedian Kevin Hart, who touted the brand as providing “hard-working hydration.” The brand’s website, meanwhile, includes playful messages describing the brand’s multiple flavor varieties. For instance, the red-colored “power-c dragonfruit” flavor carries the message “doesn’t ‘power-c’ sound way cooler than ‘vitamin c’? we thought so, too.” The “xxx acai-blueberry-pomegranate” variety is described as “the kind of xxx you can consume in front of your mother.”

Are you ready?

Real Food is ingredients

Only a few spots left for October’s BTY Nutrition Coaching – all online.

Lasting nutrition tools and focus.  Come join me on this journey.

 Time to bring the focus Back To You

 BTY: Small Group Coaching from eatlivefit.net

As a Certified Nutrition Coach, I will be providing online support through weekly conference calls, videos, a private social media group, and motivational texts.  Topics include:

  • Eating real food, limiting additives

  • How to balance the right fats, protein and carbohydrates

  • Keys to avoiding sugar and cravings

  • Helpful hints to make every meal simple and nutrient dense

  • and much more…

Cost: $85 per person for 4 weeks of coaching

Introductory price $69 per person


Contact me at eatlivefit@hotmail.com

or at (707) 408-3359

Sessions begin October 1, 2015

Which has the most sugar?

This weekend at an event, I posed this question:

Which of these has the most sugar?


The contenders were:

  • 1 medium apple

  • 3/4 cup blueberries (approx)

  • 1 serving of Candy Corn (measly 12 corns)

What’s your guess?  Before you read on, give us your guess in the comments section.
Did you add your response?  What are you waiting for?  Join the debate.




Okay, you are clear to read on….The most common response was the candy corn.  Some began to question their answer and after some thought, changed it to the Apple.  Then there were the ones that felt it was a trick question and went for the blueberries, just because it didn’t seem like the obvious answer.
Now you really want to weigh in, right?  The comment section is open for your vote.




Ironically, all three have about the same sugar content, 28-30 grams.  Here are several things to consider.
  1. Which has the largest quantity in the serving size?  The apple is the choice for quantity of food.  It has the largest serving size for the sugar content.
  2. Which is the most nutrient dense option?  There are two here, the apple and the blueberries.  Both have fiber still intact (peel) and are full of quality nutrients and vitamins that will satisfy cravings, keep you fuller longer and give your body the “most bang for your buck.”  A side benefit is the fact that these added nutrients will reduce the impact on your blood sugar.  When you mix these all together, your blood sugar does not SPIKE as high, thus no downsliding in energy later.
  3. What type of sugar is in each?  NONE of the three contain white, processed, sugar.  Yes it is true, the candy corn are made with honey. The fruits are primarily natural fructose.  So less processed versions of the dreaded “sugar.”  Your body will breakdown all three to glucose for cell energy, however, the candy corn will cause the largest spike in blood sugar since it doesn’t contain any other valuable nutrients to slow down the sugar absorption.  Hint, energy low the quickest, fastest burnoff also which means you will be hungry much sooner.
This is just the “tip of the iceberg” in Titanic terms for nutrition.
If you would like to find out more about sugar and how to manage it, especially the hidden sources, I am here to help.


Don’t be fooled…

..into spending less to get more that you don’t need. A trend in our retail industry has gotten on my last nerve, and I just have to vent. Let me explain….

Last week I took my family to the movies and I had a “moment” at the concession stand.  No it wasn’t the lack of healthy options to choose from, let’s face it, we all budget for popcorn at the movie theater (yes even me occasionally), it was the way the items were priced.  It was considerably cheaper to get the largest size of everything than get the smallest of anything!  This is not a new trend, but it always floors me when I really stop to think about it.

Movie snacks

So I ask you, have you really stopped to look at the prices?  As consumers we drive these prices into play.  Our demand is the determining factor. Take into consideration that the cheapest option most often has the most empty calories.  This marketing strategy is similar to the $1  vs.  $.99 ploy.  It is a simple way to make it look like we are getting the best value for our money.  It seems to make so much sense, but in reality it is not always a better option.  So,  you reason with yourself, okay I will pay the cheapest and then not eat it all, right? RIGHT?!!! How often does that happen when you are sitting within close reach of it in a dark movie theater. Honesty folks, not with me, but with yourself.

Same rings true with a most fast food restaurants. The price difference shrinks smaller the larger the size you order.  No, I won’t go the “a cup of coffee used to cost ___ cents” route, but it is astounding how our dollars are voting these days.  Don’t be fooled into spending less to get more..as far as calories go in these treats, more is not better!!!


Here is my final gripe, not only do we spend less to get much MUCH more than we need, but it is not quality more. Not to mention that now we either consume more of it, or we throw it out.  Now a whole different ball game comes into play, the waste of food. Do we really need to spend the resources to make the extra products just to pay less for them?  Think with me here…farmers to grow the corn, and the manufacturers to make the ingredients, shipping costs, stores to house the products, people to serve them, and on and on… just add it to our trash bins?

Bottom line: As long as we buy it, retailers will price their supply this way, so be aware and don’t be fooled into a bargain for your wallet but not for your body.  Awareness is power.

Cauliflower “Steaks”

I have to be honest here, I am not a huge fan of cauliflower.  I grew up eating it raw on the veggie tray smothered in ranch dressing or cooked and covered in gooey cheese sauce.  Sound familiar?

Because I know the value of adding a variety of vegetables to your palate, I am always looking for ways to cook cauliflower that my family will enjoy without the calorie dense sauces.  Here is a recipe that accomplishes just that!  It even has a fancy name to impress your friends.  Give it a go.

Grilled Cauliflower Steaks with Lemon-lime Feta Gremolata

recipe by The Food Network modified by eatlivefit.net

prep/cook time: 30 minutes         serves 6


2 small heads of cauliflower

1 clove garlic

1 lime

2 lemons

1 cup fresh cilantro leaves

2 Tbs feta cheese crumbled

Pinch of sea salt and pepper

1 Tbs Olive Oil (or grapeseed oil)



Heat the grill to medium high heat.

Trim off and discard the cauliflower leaves.  Flip each head over so the stem side is facing up.  Trim about 1/4 inch from the bottom of the stem, then cut each head into 3 thick slabs.  Reserve side florets that fall away when trimmed for later use.

In a medium bowl, grate the garlic clove.  Grate the zest of the lime and 1 lemon, the juice the lime and 1/2 the lemon into the same bowl.  Finely chop the cilantro and reserved cauliflower bits.  Add the feta cheese to the bowl and stir to mix.  Season with pinch of salt and pepper.

In separate small bowl, whisk together remaining juice from other 1/2 of lemon and oil.  Brush one side of each cauliflower slice with this mixture, then place on preheated grill, oiled side down.  Cook for 4 minutes, brush with oil/lemon mixture on the top and flip to cook for an additional 4-5 minutes on the other side.  Continue to cook until slightly charred and tender (approx. 3 minutes depending on thickness of slices).

Slice remaining lemon into wedges.  Spoon the cooked slices of cauliflower, “steaks”, with a Tbs of garlic, feta, cilantro mix and serve with lemon wedge on side.