Feeling Stuck?

Regulate blood sugar, truly understand carbohydrates,

and find your natural weight

Blood sugar regulation is one of the top areas of focus and interest in my practice because of the correlation to a variety of health issues.  Properly balancing blood sugar can prevent insulin resistance – one of the leading risk factors associated with diabetes, CVD, kidney disease, obesity, nerve disorders, polycystic ovary disease and many other serious diseases.


There are so many differing opinions surrounding the influence of this five letter word on our diet.  First there was the High Carb Craze… the 1980’s revealed a “new” and “improved” food pyramid in hopes of thwarting the rise in diabetes, CVD and obesity.  The verdict: increase carbs and reduce fat.  At the time, it seemed to make sense.  Americans stocked up on pasta and bagels and fat-free cookies and chips.  Yikes, what a disaster.  As we cut back on healthy fat, protein, whole grains, veggies and went straight to a diet made of mostly refined carbohydrates, health problems skyrocketed.

As CARBS became a dirty five letter word, we went to the opposite extreme and threw them all out the window (even poor little carrots).  The Atkins Diet was the “revolutionary” new plan for reaching health and vitality.  The theory is that restricting carbohydrates balances insulin release and glucose transport to muscles and fat cells.  In turn, the body burns fat.  The golden takeaway from the research is that Americans do eat too many refined carbohydrates. But rather than find a good balance, the low-carb diets can be too extreme.  When the body is deprived of glucose (from carbs), the body uses all its glycogen reserves (stored in the liver) and enters a state of metabolic emergency where fat and protein are converted to glucose.  In extreme cases, ketone bodies are produced and the blood becomes acidic if the lungs and kidneys can’t keep up with all that ketonic production.  Ketogenic diets (from extreme low carb)  actually increase the fat cell’s abilities to attract and store fat in the long run…. Another flaw in the extreme low carb craze is that carbs trigger the release of serotonin (our “happy” neurotransmitter). Serotonin makes us feel relaxed and calm and also tells our brain when we are full. It also helps us get a good night sleep.  This doesn’t give us a green pass to over-consume the healthy carbs, though – in order to balance blood sugar, have a normal insulin response, and find your natural weight, e-mail me at Catherine@cravehealth.com to set up your free health consultation with me and find your recipe for success.

Hint: High quality protein raises metabolism by nearly 25%! When the body is deficient in protein, fluid collect between cells, resulting in cellulite, water retention, bloating and water weight gain.  Eating protein stimulates the pancreas to release glucagon (the hormone that counteracts insulin and burns fat). Contact me to find the right high quality protein for your body type.


A few months ago, the editor of Natural Solutions magazine got in touch with me to discuss my interest in doing a Health Food Store Makeover for an upcoming article.  I was more than delighted to be involved because I got to talk about one of my favorite topics… finding energy and natural weight through identifying hidden food allergies. I had just the wonderful client in mind.

Conducting a Health Food Store Tour is one of my favorite parts of working with clients because we all love the real experience.  We can talk about kale all day but unless we go see it, examine it, and talk about it, it remains an intimidating vegetable that you are unlikely to buy.   In the Health Food Store Tour, we learn about Greens you usually pass by (swiss chard), Sweet Vegetables that satisfy your sweet tooth (beets), Grains that are hard to pronounce (quinoa – pronounced”keen-wah”), Fruits in season (melons), Herbs and Spices to awaken your palate (turmeric and sage), Protein for your body type (grass-fed beef or tofu?), Dairy and Dairy Alternatives (sheep yogurt, almond milk), Condiments to spread (hummus, nut butters), the joy of Healthy Fats (unrefined coconut oil), Sweeteners that are sweet bliss (agave nectar, stevia), Pasta that won’t make you bloated (100% buckwheat soba noodles), and Snacks to help you thrive (almonds, lara bars).

The September issue of Natural Solutions Magazine is available now on newsstands and in many Whole Foods Markets – pick up a copy or read my article below!

Special August Package Includes:

FREE 45 Minute Health History Session

$75 Health Food Store Tour with Referral Rewards

Contact me for more details!


What are the top 10 most common food items you pick up in the grocery store? E-mail me your list at Catherine@cravehealth.com and I will send you my top 10 healthy alternatives!

Natural Solutions 1-1Natural Solutions 2-1


Got Milk?

We have all seen the highly successful “Got Milk” campaign.  The ads depict famous celebrities with milk mustaches which serve as a reminder for us all to drink our milk in order to get our calcium for strong bones.  As we know, this campaign is an advertisement, so when we look at the motivations underlying the ads, we have to ask ourselves… what is or isn’t true about the ads’ claims?

I don’t know about you, but I grew up drinking milk at dinner, using milk in my cereal, and eating ice cream for dessert.  I also remember the awful day when my family switched from 2% milk to skim milk.  Ugh.  This was when fat was depicted as the bad guy and skim milk was the superstar.  I would venture to say that everyone in my family loves ice cream more than any other dessert.  So, all of those years that we were consuming the average consumer’s milk, were we really making our bones stronger?


Dr. Annemarie Colbin is a well respected source when it comes to holistic nutrition.  As a guest speaker at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, she spoke about food and our bones.  Dr. Colbin ascertains that while we have been given the mass media message to consume dairy to strengthen our bones, there are studies suggesting otherwise.  The famous Nurses Study at Harvard University, which followed 78,000 nurses over the course of 12 years, found that those nurses who drank two or more glasses of commercial milk per day had twice the risk of hip fracture than those who drank one glass per week or less.  Hmm…

Dr. Linda Bacon, renowned author of the book, Health at Every Size also cautions us in her book about consuming too much milk and discusses the misconception about drinking as much milk as is commonly recommended.

“But where will I get my calcium?!”

Vegetables, vegetables, vegetables is the answer. Did you know that calcium is present in vegetables, especially greens?  Did you also know that cows are meant to eat grass (that contains calcium) but according to the US Dairy Forage Research Center, only 10-12% of dairy cows in America are grazed? Factory farmed cows, who supply the majority of dairy in this country, are fed soy meal, cottonseed meal or other commercial feeds, bakery waste, chicken manure citrus peel cake, and are mostly full of pesticides. Their quality of life is next to nothing as they are kept in confinement most of their lives, and they are fed hormones and antibiotics to push dairy production forward for big $$$.

Acid Forming Foods that Cause Bone Breakdown

Here is a list of foods that can be partially responsible for bone breakdown:

White bread
White rice

Diet for Strong Bones

If you want strong bones but not all that milk, try eating these foods:

Leafy greens and other vegetables
Beans and quality animal food
Whole grains supply magnesium – magnesium puts calcium in the bones.
Nuts and seeds for trace minerals
Good quality fats – olive oil, organic butter, sesame oil
Edible bones – Bones of sardines, salmon, chicken wings and chicken bones, fish bones.
*Cook with fish stock

The Role of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for promoting calcium absorption and is scarcely found in foods (although there is some in shiitake mushrooms and parsley).  The natural source of Vitamin D is the sun.  There is an epidemic of Vitamin D deficiency in America – we are taught to be terrified of the sun, many of us do not have the required time to absorb the proper amount of Vitamin D, or many of us do not live in places that are sunny most of the year.  Vitamin D tests are easily administered by doctors and can tell you whether you need a Vitamin D supplement or not.  If you do opt to get more Vitamin D from the sun, just don’t get burnt.  Some people can only tolerate 10 minutes of sun before getting burned – know your limit.  The average person can take 40 minutes per day with 40% of their body exposed in order to get proper amounts of Vitamin D.

What about Calcium Pills?

Dr. Colbin goes on to explain that the most important way to keep bones from breaking is to build up the collagen.  Bones are made of approximately 65% calcium-phosphate, 46% calcium, and 35% collagen (a protein). Bones with too much calcium will become more brittle. The body can’t absorb calcium by itself, and pills taken alone will deposit anywhere in the body, including muscles, and may miss the bones altogether.

The Case for Real Milk

Protein, vitamins, and healthy bacteria are present in real milk and can be nutritious for those who can digest it.  Advocates for “real milk,” or raw milk, contend that pasteurization kills the milk’s enzymes, diminishes vitamin contents, modifies the proteins, kills vitamins C, B12 and B6, destroys beneficial bacteria, and promotes pathogens that are associated with a multitude of illnesses including allergies, tooth decay, colic in infants, growth problems in children, osteoporosis, arthritis, heart disease and cancer.

Pasteurization was made mandatory in the 1920s because “slop milk” or “swill milk” was being made from very unhealthy and dirty animals.  Pasteurization became the norm, and the law was never revisited despite the fact that conditions have changed drastically.  Clean, raw milk from certified healthy cows is available in several states and can be bought directly from the farm or, in California, it can be bought in stores like Whole Foods, among others.

As I mentioned earlier, many commercial cows are fed soy meal, cottonseed meal or other commercial feeds, bakery waste, chicken manure citrus peel cake, and all are full of pesticides. These cows never see grass, are kept in confinement, and become sick. The sick cows are then injected with antibiotics to combat the sickness – which we then ingest.  To view photos of factory farming please click here – the photos are upsetting, but are the realities of the factory farming business.

What to Do

If you choose to consume dairy for its health benefits, choose raw dairy products first. If raw diary is not available, choose organic and free of rBST hormones but be wary of the source. Do the cows graze on pasture?  Are they kept in confinement?  Are they happy and healthy cows? If you choose not to consume dairy, opt for alternatives like coconut milk and almond milk that can be used in cereals or made into “ice cream.”

Ice Cream and Ice Dream

Raw Milk Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe
1 cup raw milk
2 cups raw cream
3/4 cup grade B maple syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Add to ice cream maker and follow manufacturer’s instructions.

Ice Dream Vanilla Recipe (from The Ice Dream Cookbook by Chef Rachel Albert-Matesz)
1/3 cup cool water
2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin or 3/4 teaspoon agar agar power (note: I have done this recipe without the thickener and it works just fine – it just won’t freeze as well for future use)
1/4 cup grade B maple syrup; additional 1 to 2 tablespoons as needed
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon stevia powder or 1/2 to 1 tsp. clear stevia extract
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
3 1/2 cups (two 14 ounce cans) coconut milk (or 1 1/2 cups coconut meat and 1 1/2 cups coconut water)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Instructions: Add 1/3 cup water to small saucepan. Sprinkle in agar agar. Let stand for 2 minutes. Warm over medium low without stirring until powder has dissolved.  Scrape mixture into blender and process until smooth.  Add maple syrup, stevia and sea salt.  Blend. Add coconut milk and vanilla and blend until smooth.  Add additional sweetener if needed.  Blend, taste, repeat.  *At this point you can refrigerate until use (preferred) or just use right away. Pour into ice cream maker and follow the machine’s instructions.


Not Just a Halloween Treat

Roasting pumpkin seeds is a popular thing to do around Halloween, but just because one holiday “takes the pumpkin”, that doesn’t mean their seeds aren’t a healthy treat year-round.  Phosphorus, magnesium, iron, manganese, zinc, and copper are among the most prevalent minerals in pumpkin seeds. These seeds are also a good source of vitamin A, B vitamins, protein, and healthy fats.  Their essential fatty acids and zinc support prostate health.

Toss Them in Salads

The other night I got home later than usual and couldn’t decide what to do for dinner. I looked in my fridge and decided to throw together the remaining veggies that accumulated over the week.  A friend of mine recently introduced me to the “mandolin vegetables slicer” (retail approximately $25), and I was thrilled with the texture of the vegetables.  You can vary the thickness of how you want your vegetables sliced, and this fun device adds a whole new dimension to salads. Don’t have a mandolin?  Try slicing veggies thinly with a sharp knife.

Pumpkin Seed Salad

Handful of Asparagus
Handful of Radishes
Handful of Mixed Greens
1/2 Avocado
Handful of Raw Pumpkin Seeds
Lemon or Lime
Sea Salt

Shave asparagus and radishes using a mandolin or thinly cut vegetables with a sharp knife.  Add to bowl of mixed greens.  Dice 1/2 avocado and add to vegetables.  Turn pan on medium and dry roast pumpkin seeds.  If desired, add a tiny bit of coconut oil and sea salt before adding to vegetables.  Squeeze lemon or lime on top and mixed salad.  Mix well so that the avocado and citrus coat the leaves and become a dressing.  The pumpkin seeds add a heartiness and nutty flavor that is a great addition to any salad.

Roast, Sauté, Crush

* To roast pumpkin seeds in the oven, lay on a cookie sheet and drizzle with oil and spices. Roast at 300 degrees for 30 minutes.
* Sauté with vegetables like broccoli, onions and carrots and serve over brown rice.
* For salad dressing, blend pumpkin seeds with garlic and mix with olive oil and lemon juice.
* Add to a grass fed burger for an extra crunch.
* Sauté in coconut oil and sea salt and eat plain as a snack.

Note for Some: While allergies to pumpkin seeds are rare, be cognizant how your body reacts to nuts, seeds, and other foods.

Murray, N.D., Michael.  The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York: Atria, 2005.

iStock_000006612446SmallOne of the things I listen for when speaking with a new client is a statement like, “Well I can’t live without my _______ (fill in the blank with a food he or she is consuming all of the time)”.  This sends up a red flag for me to investigate potential hidden food allergies.  “Hidden?” you say.  I know when I used to think of allergies I would think of the severe Anaphylactic reactions some people have to peanuts or shellfish – there is nothing hidden about those types of reactions.   While the Anaphylactic reactions are severe and very dangerous, hidden food allergies are more prevalent and less immediately offensive, but slowly wear down the body over time.  According to Dr. Mark Hyman, M.D., more than 50% of us are walking around with hidden food allergies every day that prohibit vibrant health. Wheat, and the gluten protein found in wheat and other grains, is one of top sources of hidden food allergies.

From a few hours up to days after consumption of the suspected food, people can experience:  coughing, asthma, fluid retention, fatigue, weight gain, brain fog, moodiness, headaches, sinus & congestion problems, joint pain, acne, eczema, and more.  In today’s world we are consuming inadequate levels of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, more sugar than we need, too little fiber, and the wrong fats. Compound these facts with an environment of high stress, toxins and a history of antibiotics which damage the gut, our system becomes out of balance.  These factors damage the outside of our intestinal lining, causing “leaky gut”. Leaky gut is when food particles from allergenic foods (wheat, etc.) leak into our circulation. 60% of our immune system is located in the gut and it attacks the food, creating inflammation, and making us sick, toxic and inflamed. Often we will crave the foods we have hidden food allergies to. Why? The body secretes endorphins when in danger and we become addicted to these endorphins.  When this food is eliminated, the body goes through a short period withdrawal before adapting to being without it.

For many years, I suffered from sinus infections, acne, and bloating and could not figure out why. I went on a myriad of antibiotics in hopes of curing my ailments which temporarily covered up the problem but did not heal the real source.  I ate whole-wheat products almost all of the time. I could not even imagine what life would be like without my whole-wheat bread or my whole-wheat cereal. Wheat was like water in my world.  Wheat contains a protein called gluten. According to Laura Knoff, Certified Nutrition Consultant and Professor at Bauman College, the amount of gluten in wheat bread has increased from approximately 3% to 14% in the last 100 years.  Gluten is a food marketer’s dream because gluten makes bread fluffier.  Gluten is certainly not a problem food for everyone and that is why it is important to assess individuality.  Since some foods overlap with potential allergens (bread has gluten and yeast) it is helpful to work with a certified health counselor to discover individual needs. Food allergies can pop up at any point in your life and can change over time.

Most people will have a hunch about what might be a culprit food for them.  Ask yourself if there is a food you just “can’t live without” and try to live without it for 14 days.  This can seem daunting and it is always best to enlist the support of a certified holistic health counselor or other professional accustomed to working with hidden food allergies.   After two weeks of eliminating the food from your system, try adding it back in, in steps. On Day 1, include the suspected food at one meal.  Wait three days.  If there was no reaction, include the suspected food at two meals. Wait three days. If there was no reaction, include the suspected food at every meal. If there was no reaction, you most likely do not have a food sensitivity to this food.  If you notice some of the same symptoms creeping back, you may have solved the mystery. It is really helpful to note in a food journal any symptoms that arise.

Anyone can be allergic to anything. Below is a list of the most common overly consumed foods in the US and therefore, the most food sources of hidden food allergies…
gluten*, eggs, milk, corn, yeast, soy, sugar
*gluten is present in wheat, barley, rye, spelt, couscous, beer, and oats by contamination.  Some may be sensitive to wheat but not others in the category.  It is possible to find gluten free oats.

Other foods causing reactivity for some…
alcohol, potatoes, beef, coffee, peanuts, chocolate, fish, pork, nuts, shrimp, tomato, citrus

What do you Eat!?
I have seen the horrified reactions when I tell people I don’t eat certain foods because of food sensitivities. They seem concerned that I simply will not be able to survive. Quite the opposite. It takes a lot of time and consistency to heal your digestive system and the best way is to eliminate culprit foods and nurture your body with alternatives that are even more nutritious and delicious. One of my favorite parts of being a health counselor is taking clients through the grocery store and pointing out new foods and alternatives that can relieve a number of symptoms and that taste really good.

Even if you do not suspect a hidden food allergy, it is helpful to rotate foods in your diet to prevent any overexposure of any one food.  Eat locally, seasonally and vary your diet regularly.

Hyman, M.D., Mark.  The UltraSimple Diet. New York: Pocket Books, 2007.
Knoff, N.C., Laura.  Bauman College. Allergies and Immunity Lecture, 2009.


The first Savory Supper was a great success – we were even able to conference in my parents on Skype to wish my mom a happy Mothers’ day!  Enjoy the recipe and menu suggestions.With the exception of the dessert, all food preparation instructions are intended to be loosely followed.  Nutritional tidbits are included. In case you find yourself wondering about the various fats I used (coconut oil, raw butter, olive oil), stay tuned for an upcoming blog on Busting Fat Myths.

The Menu

spring onions with green garlic, carrots, asparagus
grass fed slow braised beef cheeks, mirepoix
sweet cherries in a pecan crusted tart with cinnamon and lemon


capay organic, capay valley
marin sun farms, point reyes
blossom bluff, parlier

spring onions

spring onions and green garlic. clean, cut off roots, and discard tops. halve or quarter lengthwise. heat dollop of coconut oil on medium-high heat. add onions and garlic.  saute for 5 minutes while stirring until lightly browned on both sides. put in stove at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. cover to keep warm until ready to eat. sea salt to taste.     

nature’s pharmacy: garlic and onions were historically used as natural antibiotics and antivirals. great for boosting the immune system. if you can stand it, eat some raw garlic next time you feel a cold coming. allicin, a substance in garlic, has even been shown to not only protect against colon cancer but to stop the growth of cancer cells once developed. People with compromised immune systems, elevated cholesterol levels, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, candida infection, asthma, and infections can definitely benefit from these foods.

carrotscarrots. cut off tops, leaving a small piece of the green top.  wash and place in foil. add sea salt, pepper and organic or raw butter. bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees. cover to keep warm until ready.

night vision: most of us already know that the beta-carotene in carrots promotes good night vision. it also can protect against macular degeneration and the development of cataracts as we age.  the antioxidants in carrots support cardiovascular and cancer prevention.

asparagusasparagus. marinade in a bowl with meyers lemon, olive oil, sea salt and pepper for 10 minutes. heat cast iron griddle pan on medium high. when hot, put the asparagus on the griddle pan and rotate until grilled on all sides. cover to keep warm until ready to eat.

anti-inflammatory: most varieties of asparagus are green or greenish purple while the variety grown underground is white because it has inhibited the development of chlorophyll.  each has a unique taste and can be used in many delicious ways.  historically used for the treatment of arthritis and rheumatism, asparagus is a great source of antioxidants, and they inhibit inflammation (which leads to disease).

beef cheeksgrass fed beef cheeks. trim fat. sea salt and pepper on all sides. in a cast iron casserole dish, add half olive oil, half raw butter. sear beef on all sides (approx 10 minutes total). remove beef and place aside in a bowl. add to the casserole dish, one diced onion, four celery stalks chopped, and four carrots chopped. stir and saute for ten minutes. when vegetables have softened, add one bottle of organic red wine to the pan. bring to a boil and simmer for ten minutes. add three cups of organic chicken stock and one 28 oz. can of organic tomatoes. bring to a boil, add beef back into pan. cover and put in oven at 275 degrees for three hours.

grass fed meat: like any food, eating meat is a personal preference and may not benefit every body type.  if you do enjoy red meat, like me, try to choose grass fed whenever possible.  cows are meant to eat grass but the majority of cows in this country are raised in commercialized factory farms where they are fed corn and other grains in order to fatten them up.  the cows then become sick because they can’t process the grains, so they are fed antibiotics and hormones to thwart sickness.  grass fed cows have a life outside on the pasture, just as they should. in addition to making a humane decision, choosing grass fed meat has significant health benefits.  grass fed cows have two to four times the amount of heart healthy omega fats since their diet is made of grass. a lean meat and delicious, try grass fed burgers, rib eye, or any other type of cut. check this resource for grass fed meat in your area.

dinner plate


Organic Wine Pairings

Rafael Palacios Godello 2007 – $20 retail

Castano Solanera 2005 – $16 retail


Cherry Tart

(adapted from Veggiewoman’s Guide to Health by Laura Knoff)

Serves 6

1 1/2 cups pecans
2 tablespoons melted organic ghee or butter
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. stevia green leaf powder
Chop pecans in a food processor. Melt the butter for the crust and add the cinnamon and stevia to the melted butter.  Mix the nuts and melted butter in a bowl and press into individual tea cups until slightly crumbly but smooth.  Refrigerate to chill.

2 cups cherries
1/2 cups water
2/3 packet unflavored gelatin or 1 tablespoon agar agar powder
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp. cardamom, 1 tsp. coriander, 1 tsp. ginger, 1/2 tsp. allspice
Instructions: In a saucepan, combine water and gelatin or agar agar flakes.  Let sit for 5 minutes then bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Lower the heat until all agar agar or gelatin is dissolved.  Add the cherries and mix well with the spices. Pour the mixture into the tart crusts and chill for 3 hours or until set.

natural ibuprofen: in the cherry epicenter of this country, a study at Michigan State University found that the flavonoids in cherries act similarly to NSAIDs like ibuprofen when it come to quelling inflammation.  while some NSAIDs have side effects such as upset stomach, indigestion, heartburn, and skin rashes, the flavonoids like those found in cherries do not have these side effects.  cherries were even found to work as well as ibuprofen by blocking the same inflammatory enzymes.  even offering anti-cancer protection, cherries have been found to slow the growth of colon cancer and reduce the incidence of other types of cancer.  in addition, cherries are useful in alleviating painful symptoms associated with Gout (a type of arthritis).

Sources: Murray, N.D. Michael.  The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods.  New York: Atria, 2005.

Dear friends,

I don’t know about you, but recently I have felt like technology has been barging right in my front door. With Facebook, Twitter, websites, blogs, and e-mails, I have been feeling like I need to hire someone to simply manage my online updates : ) Don’t get me wrong, I love the online exchange of information and am all for the environmental reasons for moving away from paper (I even received a wedding invitation via e-mail just the other day). It is great to be able to e-mail my parents and my sister who live across the country and “see” them on Skype. It is also wonderful to share my passion for nutrition, writing, and my growing business with all of you ~ technology makes that so much easier!

There is also something to be said about good, old fashioned, in-person gatherings. With social networking moving towards cyberspace, it is nice to balance it out with real, live people.

Growing up, we had a tradition in our family to have a slightly more involved meal on Sunday nights where we would invite my aunt and uncle over for dinner and the 8 of us would sit around and eat and talk for a few hours. It was a really nice way to end one week and start another. Luckily, both of my brothers live within blocks from me here in San Francisco so it is possible to get together frequently, rather than text, call, or e-mail.

Rather than sending out my monthly newsletters as I have been doing for quite awhile now, I am going to be blogging (back to technology!) on this site with nutrition tidbits and updates as well as documenting our Savory Suppers. Included will be seasonal menus, recipes, organic wine parings, photos, and in the future, videos of these dinners. The guests and themes will vary each dinner. I would love for you to be involved and comment on our selections and offer suggestions for other dinner themes. Please click here to subscribe to this blog!

Next Savory Supper: Sunday, May 10th – Mother’s Day – 6pm
Subscribe for menu, recipes, wine pairings, and photos!