Monday, February 18, 2019

to your good health!

Those of you who follow me on Instagram have probably figured out from all my food photos that I'm not just into cooking and food, but healthy eating as well. I've talked a little bit here on my blog over the past few years about healthy eating and living, but I've gotten requests for sharing my knowledge of these subjects in regular blog posts. Healthy foods and eating are such broad subjects, that I'm hoping to do posts on individual subjects at least a few times a month. For right now, I'm just going to dive into some basics and give you a few healthy, simple recipes. These are things anyone can make. No cooking talent required!

Disclaimer: I am not a physician or any other kind of certified health professional. I am simply a lay person that reads and researches many aspects of natural health and clean eating; puts these things into practice in my own life as much as possible; and wants to share what I have learned and am still learning in order to help people lead healthier lives. The content provided in this blog and any linked sites are not intended to be medical advice. If you have any medical concerns, consult with your physician. I am not liable for any health advice that I write on this blog. 

I can tell you this much for sure: whatever you put in your mouth has almost everything to do with your health. You eat garbage, you're going to feel like garbage and your health is going suffer. "At least 80% of how you look and feel comes from your diet" (Dr Samantha Durland). You truly are what you eat. Thus said, I am far from perfect. Healthy eating is something I work on and strive for every single day. Some days I don't do as well as others. I try not to beat myself up over that. Instead, I start anew the next day.

I found a new family care physician through a friend whom I went to last week. He does some holistic care and is very much into working with the patient on a healthy lifestyle. He spent 45 minutes with me, actually talking to me and giving me healthy suggestions, and making me feel good about myself, my health and my future by the time I left. The only prescribed medication I was on was a miniscule dosage of Lisinopril for high blood pressure. I had been on it since I was 38 years old: 19 years!! I originally started out on 10 mg, but I was much heavier when I was younger. Over the years as I adopted a healthier lifestyle and lost weight, I was able to decrease my dosage of medication. I had asked my former PCP the past few years if I could go off the Lisinopril and she always said no - even though my blood pressure was always normal. This new doctor took me off the medication! My blood pressure in two different readings was low and then average. He said, "You don't need this medication." He said that if I continue to eat even healthier (i.e., more plant-based meals, less cheese) and exercise more, that everything will naturally fall into place...lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol (mine's pretty good, but could use some improvement), lower blood sugar levels (again, mine's good but wouldn't hurt to be lower). He also explained to me that if for example, I had've come to him when I was 38 years old with high blood pressure, he would not have automatically put me on hypertension medication. He would've worked with me on lifestyle change instead. I can't tell you how refreshing it is to have found a doctor like this! And I can now announce that I am medication free. That feels so good!

I know some of you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, and while I think that is fantastic, it is not for me. (I have a hard time digesting beans/legumes and I don't eat soy or soy products.) I am also not here to discuss the ethics of meat eaters versus plant eaters. I am only focusing on clean, healthy eating. 

Thus said, I am incorporating more vegetables and fruits into my diet and eating less meat. This doctor wanted me to eat beets for my blood pressure, but I told him I loathe beets. Beets and mushrooms are the only two vegetables I just cannot stand. So he told me I could buy beet root powder (I didn't even know there was such a thing!) and use it in my smoothies. I found this organic beet root powder on Amazon. I use a teaspoon in my morning smoothie and can barely taste it. In fact, I love the taste of my smoothie even more than I did before! And it makes the color very pretty. I make my smoothies by using 8 oz. unsweetened almond milk, a banana, some frozen organic fruit (I used blueberries in the smoothie shown below), 1 tsp. of the organic beet root powder, about 1 T. of hemp hearts/seeds, a sprinkle of turmeric (great for inflammation!), a spoon of organic, natural peanut butter (make sure the peanut butter you use doesn't have any added sugar and doesn't have any hydrogenated oils in want to eat a peanut butter that is just that - peanut butter - and nothing else...except salt, if you want the salted kind), and a big handful of organic baby spinach.

Another healthy, simple meal idea is to top toast (please don't use processed white bread; use a bread where the first ingredients are whole grains...Ezekiel Bread or Dave's Killer Bread are excellent choices) with mashed avocado (I added fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper to mine) and top with a cooked egg. This will fill you up for hours. If you're vegan or don't like eggs, avocado toast on its own is delicious. You can sprinkle the avocado with nuts, sunflower seeds or pepitas, or even some pomegranate seeds.

I'll throw in one more quick, healthy meal idea that anyone can make...when you're craving pizza, it's much healthier to make your own at home. This is something I struggle with. Pizza is one of my favorite foods! And I live in the Chicago area, so we have THE best pizza.

Make your own pizza crust, or use a prepared one. Just make sure it has minimal ingredients and no hydrogenated oils (such as soybean) or preservatives in it. The one pitfall of this type of bread is that it is high in sodium. So even pizza at home should be a special treat. Most people don't realize that bread contains a lot of sodium!

Brush your pizza crust with extra-virgin olive oil or tomato sauce seasoned with herbs. Then load on the vegetables. I sauteed my vegetables just a couple of minutes before putting them on the pizza so that they wouldn't be TOO crunchy. I used red peppers, broccoli and red onion. You could also use fresh tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach and/or jalapenos. To do as the good doc said about cutting down on the cheese, I used fresh mozzarella sparingly. Bake at 400 degrees until done. My pizza took about 10 minutes.

I hope this post was informative and helpful and I look forward to sharing a lot more about healthy eating, nutrition and natural health in future posts. Please feel free to share any of your own stories or ideas about healthy, clean eating. We're all here to help each other.


  1. Avocado toast on seeded bread with an egg is my all time favorite breakfast - but a few drops of sriracha sauce over the top it takes it to a whole new level!

  2. Love your ideas and will try your smoothie recipe. Thanks!

  3. I'm allergic to both avocados and bananas, which stinks. Good thing I'm not allergic to pizza though, ha ha!!

  4. These are great tips Melanie. As you know I am trying new things and trying to cut foods out of my diet that might be causing some of my issues. I love your smoothie and will give that a try. I did not know that about beets. I normally do not eat them so I will try the powder too. The avocado toast sounds pretty delish too.

  5. This is a great post, Melanie. I'm really looking forward to learning more from you. I just finished up a year-long health class. I lowered my AC1 from borderline diabetic to barely prediabetic -- so I still have a little ways to go, but I'm thrilled that I did it through diet and exercise. I would love some new recipe ideas to keep the motivation going. That toast looks awesome.

  6. We love avocado toast. Bradley routinely asks for it for an after-school snack. The kids eat theirs plain, but I'm going to try the fresh lemon. For myself, I do a couple of pinches of red pepper flakes and a teensy drizzle of olive oil, like they serve it at Magnolia Table. If I have it with egg, it's plain, but I love to add sliced tomatoes, too.

  7. Lots of great ideas, Melanie! I like the beet powder tip! I am limiting sodium, and I bake my own bread so I can watch it. Sodium is hidden everywhere.

  8. Such an excellent post Melanie, so well written and full of interesting/helpful nutrition facts and ideas. You are most fortunate to have found a doctor who sounds close to perfect!
    I love your smoothie recipe and will try it sans peanut butter which I don't like. I must find some of that beet root powder as I do love beets but they are too messy to work with often! I add turmeric to just about everything these days as I'm hoping it will help with my inflamed shoulder!

    Thanks for all this great stuff - and please keep sharing such great info. Even though I'm a non-meat eater I know there will be a lot of interest to me - but I can't quit the cheese, sorry!
    Mary x

  9. I discovered Dave's Killer Bread several years ago by accident and we love it. I also love that the company gives former prisoners a chance to start a new life.

  10. Your new doctor sounds like a dream come true. I had never heard of beet root powder either. How interesting and now I am going to get some and try out your smoothie recipe. I am begrudgingly taking a daily pill for blood pressure which is something I thought I would never have. I would love to get off of it as I think sometimes it causes a bit of dizziness. We have been drinking green smoothies for a few months now. I have been told that beet greens are a very healthy addition to them.
    I love Ezekiel bread and often enjoy the avocado and egg addition. Love it.
    Great post, Melanie. Keep 'em coming.

  11. Melanie, this is terrific! I always click on healthy food posts on FB but would so much rather hear this advice from a friend I know has tried it. Please do make these regular posts although I've always paid attention whenever you post about your meals. I've been trying hard to focus on healthy foods but no myself better than to think that I will ever stick to an extreme plan. And even though I've stopped eating desserts in the past for as long as six months at a time, I do not want to do it again. I love to bake so instead have resolved not to eat any sweets bought out. Actually, am trying to keep to that rule about any processed food even though I think that I will always buy some canned goods now as I am past the years of canning and pickling anymore.

    Your avocado toast with an egg is one of my favorites!

  12. I need to work on my own healthy eating plan. I eat terribly and it does affect my health, there's no doubt about it. That's wonderful that you're medication free. Congratulations! I have to say that I've been lucky enough to frequent doctors who recommend yoga over prescriptions for certain ailments. It really does make a difference, doesn't it? That pizza has me drooling...yum!

  13. Very exciting news about your medication and your wonderful healthy lifestyle. Your food looks delicious!

  14. This is a wonderful post, we do need to be aware of what we put into our bodies.
    Here's to your health!
    Thank you so much for your prayers. We are truly blessed having prayers going up in our behalf, it brings a feeling of peace to our souls.
    God bless you and your family.
    Connie :)


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