Monthly Archives: August 2012

Certified Health Coach and Registered Dietetic Technician with over 25 years of experience in the health care field. I have a passion for teaching people how to cook, shop and eat nutritious but delicious food for energy and weight management. I was recently quoted in the blog post titled “Obesity epidemic in the US: What to do? ” written by Maureen Aylward and posted on Zintro.  There’s no better time than now to make positive changes in your health, let’s talk!

Blog Post: Obesity epidemic in the US: What to do?

One third of Americans are overweight and nearly a third of people under 20 are obese. We asked our Zintro experts to discuss the current leading ideas, approaches, or policies that are being developed to address the obesity epidemic in the US.
Sandra Ham, an expert in epidemiology and obesity, says that the obesity epidemic requires a systems approach because its causes and solutions are interrelated across multiple sectors of society including the food system, schools, the built environment, and healthcare system. “The environment in the US is obesogenic, meaning that it is easier to become obese than to maintain a healthy weight because unhealthy foods are cheaper than healthy foods and physical activity has been engineered out of everyday life, Ham says. “Current leading ideas and approaches target some key interactions between policy, the physical environment, social environment, healthcare system and individual behavior.”

Ham says that childhood obesity is the primary target for several reasons:

  • Overweight and obese kids are more likely to become obese adults than to become healthy weight adults.
  • Research is showing that some obesity-related diseases including type 2 diabetes are more severe and difficult to manage when they occur in youth versus adults.
  • Kids who adopt healthy habits for eating and physical activity are more likely to continue those habits throughout their lives.

“One strategy is to empower youth to make healthy choices that affect their environment. Farm-to-school programs purchase fresh fruits and vegetables from local farmers to serve for school breakfasts and lunches. Kids learn about sustainable and local agriculture while also learning how to choose to eat a healthy diet that includes locally-grown foods,” Ham says. “The potential long-term benefits go beyond healthy weight—youth may become more educated consumers with a taste for farm-fresh produce that supports the local and regional economy.”

Another strategy Ham suggests is to promote healthy eating at the policy level. “The USDA recently revised the minimum nutrition standards for school breakfasts and lunches and is working on standards for snack foods and beverages that are sold in schools outside mealtimes,” she says. “The aim of these policies is to make schools a safe haven from the obesogenic food environment where it is easier for kids to choose to consume healthy foods and beverages than junk foods and sugar-loaded beverages.”

David Koivuranta, an expert in corporate health and wellness, says that quite often the focus is on looking outside ourselves for a solution to weight problems; however, the cause or the source of the obesity epidemic is actually inside of us. “It relates to physical, chemical and emotional stress from our environments that are creating a chronic stress response in our bodies. Because of this, our nervous systems and endocrine systems are stuck in habits and patterns that suppress the immune systems, digestive systems, and reproductive organs. This sets the stage for weight gain that cannot be lost until these underlying problems are addressed,” he says.

Koivuranta explains that a return to lifestyle choices that promote optimum physical, chemical, and emotional well being on a maintenance level will foster an environment in the body that can not only decrease body fat and increase lean muscle, but also heal chronic illnesses and diseases. “There is hope and there is a step-by-step process to get it done. Society can benefit, but it will take a a paradigm shift from our crisis care model of health care to one of prevention and proactive choices that meet our expectations of health, happiness and prosperity in life.”

Karen Russell, a registered dietetic technician and health coach, thinks the obesity epidemic has gotten out of hand. “Diabetes is also on the rise in the US. I see overweight men and women along with their children. The only way to stop this epidemic is to make changes in how we shop, cook and eat,” she says. “Dieting is the old way of doing things and is a negative approach that is temporary most of the time. Dieting is restrictive and unbalanced.

Russell suggests a more positive approach, which is to incorporate small changes in the ingredients used in recipes. “People benefit from learning what to do step by step so changes can be made to live the right way without deprivation or starving. Also getting rid of inflammatory foods so that the digestive system can function at it’s best is best practice and can lead to losing weight,” she says.

What do you think?

 Refreshing Thai Iced Tea



  • ¼ cup peeled fresh ginger, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup diagonally-sliced lemongrass
  • 8 green tea bags
  • ¼ cup raw agave nectar
  • 1 quart boiling water
  • ½ cup organic coconut milk (unsweetened)


Add ginger, lemongrass, green tea and agave to boiling water and steep for 10 minutes. Strain into large beverage container and stir in coconut milk. Chill thoroughly. Serve over crushed ice with fresh mint or a pretty flower. Enjoy!

The Dangers of Undiagnosed Food Allergies:

By Dr. Ritamarie Loscalzo


Food is intended to replenish your cells, nourish your organs, and give you the energy you need to do all the things in your life that bring you joy. Yet sometimes this process backfires and meal times leave you bloated, exhausted, and unmotivated.

So what goes wrong?

One of the often overlooked causes of feeling “bad” after eating is food allergies and food intolerances.

When your immune system mistakes good food for a foreign invader, it sets up a cascade of inflammatory reactions to “kill it”, leading to pain, inflammation, and dysfunction in your body.

Most people don’t even realize anything’s wrong… at first.

Even If You’re Not Breaking Out, You May Still Be Breaking Down

Conventional medicine discounts the importance of food allergies in solving chronic health challenges and persistent body fat issues, save for those outwardly manifesting allergies that cause an immediate skin reaction or inability to breathe.
For those types of food allergies, the solution is clear from a medical perspective: avoid the food and if you accidentally get exposed, take an anti-histamine medication or a shot of epinephrine.

But what about the other kinds of food allergies – the insidious ones that contribute to chronic symptoms and health challenges? The problem with detecting these types of food intolerance’s is that the reaction is often not immediate, so it takes a lot of detective work to determine what foods are causing the problem.

Food allergies are tested for and managed by many alternative practitioners, yet there is a lot of confusion and misinformation about what they are, what causes food allergies, and whether these allergies can be overcome.

So, What’s Your Poison?

It’s possible that many “healthy” foods are not so good for you. It is said that “one man’s food is another man’s poison,” and this is so true when it comes to food allergy reactions. Even highly nutritious foods like broccoli or blueberries can induce an immune response that leaves you ill.

Your immune system is a double edged sword. The same reactions that can protect you from dangerous microbes can inflame and damage your essential body tissues and lead to chronic health issues.

What Happens When You Ignore Food Allergies and Intolerance’s?

Chronic over activity of your immune system can lead to problems like:

·    weight gain
·    depression
·    joint pain
·    fatigue
·    headaches
·    indigestion
·    asthma
·    eczema
·    fibromyalgia
·    autoimmune conditions
·    autism
·    attention deficit disorder
·    and many more
So what causes your immune system to get confused and attack good food?

The Causes of Food Allergies

There are many causes of food allergies and intolerance’s, but here is a list of the most common :
1.    Infancy Food Exposure: Exposure to foods other than breast milk during the first few months of life can contribute to food allergies. Your digestive tract was designed to be able to allow larger molecules through during early life so that your mom could nurse you, pass on the protective antibodies from her immune system, and protect you. Unfortunately, what also passes through her milk are her food antibodies too.

In addition, if you are fed anything other than breast milk in those early months, those openings in your digestive tract work against you and allow proteins from cow’s milk or soy, the most common foods in infant formula, to pass into your blood stream and create an immune reaction.
2. Immunizations: If you were immunized, the goal was to create a protective immune response to the injected substances. Unfortunately, carrier substances injected with the immunizations include things like egg albumin, which can cause you to become allergic to eggs.
3.    Antibiotics: Within the first year of life, intake of antibiotics has been associated with increased risk of food allergy.
4.    Antacids: The use of antacids impair stomach acid production and leads to the poor digestion of proteins. These undigested proteins irritate the delicate lining of your intestine, eventually eroding it enough so that the larger molecules enter your blood stream and mount an immune system attack.
5.    Gluten: Gluten-containing foods inflame and damage your intestinal mucous membrane and result in Leaky Gut Syndrome. As a result large, undigested protein molecules enter your blood stream and your immune system attacks them.
6.    Stress: Eating when stressed causes increased cortisol production, which shuts down your digestion and can lead to Leaky Gut Syndrome.
7.    Sugar: Eating sugar disrupts normal intestinal flora and disrupts digestion.

How to Tell if You Have a Potential Food Allergies or Intolerance

How do you know if food allergies may be contributing to your health concerns? Take this short self assessment quiz and find out for yourself:
1.    Do you feel tired after eating?
2.    Do you frequently clear your throat after meals?
3.    Do you feel like you need looser pants at the end of the day?
4.    Do you crave certain foods (like bread, cheese, and other snack foods) and feel the urge to eat more even if you feel full?
5.    Do you feel like your pulse and heart beat become rapid after eating certain foods?
6.    Do you have inflammation and pain for which you haven’t found a cause?
7.    Have you been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease?
8.    Do you experience belching, bloating, gas, or pain after eating?
9.    Do you have persistent extra weight in spite of a low calorie diet and exercise?
10.    Do you have asthma?
11.    Do you have difficulty focusing that comes and goes?
12.    Have you lost your motivation for things you used to enjoy?
13.    Do you need to urinate frequently?
14.    Do you have an irritable bowel?
15.    Do you have unexplained bouts of depression, anxiety, or irritability?
16.    Do you have frequent skin rashes, eczema, or psoriasis?

If you answered yes even to ONE of these, you might have an undiagnosed food allergy. If you answered yes to 3 or more you most certainly do.

The good news is that you can get to the bottom of food allergies or intolerance’s and feel so much better.
CONTACT ME if you would like to do some testing with saliva to get to the root cause of why you feel bad and lack energy!


  • 3/4 cup Lakanto Sweetener or other healthy sweetener
  • 1 Egg or Egg Replacer
  • 1/2 cup organic pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup organic coconut oil
  • 1/6 cup filtered water
  • 1/2 teaspoon Celtic Sea Salt
  • 1/2 cup Almond Meal Flour
  • 1/2 cup Brown Rice Flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon each of cinnamon, nutmeg & ground cloves
Beat egg and add other wet ingredients and mix well. Add dry ingredients. Bake in a 9 x 13 pan coated with a little oil at 350 degrees for about 30 min. until toothpick comes out clean. Bars will be slightly brown. They will be thin and moist. Cool and enjoy!
Sprinkle with a little powdered sugar if you want. 

Gluten-Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies


  • ½ cup extra virgin organic coconut oil
  • 6 oz. organic unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/3 cup organic coconut flour or almond meal flour
  • 1/3 cup organic sweet rice flour or brown rice flour
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 organic eggs
  • 1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup organic Valencia peanut butter or almond butter (softened – may need to heat up a little in a pan)
  • Spray Oil
  • Extra flour for dusting pan


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 8×8 pan with spray oil and dust with flour.

Set a large pot of water over heat and boil. Put a bowl over top of it and heat coconut oil and chocolate, stirring, until melted. Let cool.

Put coconut or almond flour, rice flour and xanthan gum together in a large bowl. Stir in baking powder and salt.

Whisk sweetener into chocolate. Whisk eggs and vanilla in and stir in dry ingredients.

Pour into pan. Dollop peanut butter onto top of batter. Swirl into batter with a spoon. Smooth it down.

Bake 25 min. or until knife comes out clean. Cool.

Makes about 16 squares. Enjoy!

 Protein Bars OR Glorified Candy Bars?

Protein Bars are popular for a lot of people that are busy and on the run. They can be hard to resist because they are easy, promoted to give you energy and say that they help with weight loss. Are they really good to have every day? You can get calories, protein and some vitamins and minerals from protein bars and even some fiber, but is there any advantage to eating a protein bar instead of a meal? If you substitute a bar for a meal, you won’t get the nutritional benefits of a meal that’s made up of whole foods.

Some of the pitfalls would be:

  • Too much Sugar – It’s usually one of the first ingredients and there may also be more than one form of sugar in a bar like brown rice syrup, barley malt, evaporated cane juice or high fructose corn syrup. Many of them contain more sugar than a candy bar!
  • Refined Grains – Grains like rice crisps are highly refined.
  • Protein Overload – Some bars contain way to much protein. You need protein for sure but some contain a huge amount, like 32 grams! The average person doesn’t need excessive protein. The protein in most of these bars comes from isolated sources, like whey or soy which aren’t always good for you.
  • Fake Ingredients – Some ingredients you don’t even recognize. Artificial Sweeteners can cause problems too.
  • Calories – These 200-300 calories add up.

Bottom Line: Ditch the bars and make your own snack with protein rich ingredients and eat a small portion. Use a healthy sweetener that won’t cause your blood sugar to crash.

You can find my cookbook here and Lakanto®, Zero Calorie, All-Natural Sweetener (my favorite healthy sugar alternative)

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Feeling Healthy

I met Karen through the Chamber of Commerce in Sedona. It was about a year later when I couldn’t lose weight, had coughing and sneezing fits after I ate, a bloated stomach and constant headaches that I decided to make an appointment with her. I should note that I lived on ibuprofen every day for

Eileen Sedacca July 10, 2016


Karen Russell

Certified Health Counselor

140 Schuerman Drive

Sedona, AZ 86336

(by appointment only)





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