Time for a New You – Spring’s Here




Spring is here.  We’ve cleaned the house, washed   the windows and are checking our bicycle tires and planning our gardens.  Now, let’s remember the most important item on the “cleaning” list – our own bodies!

Did you know that most people don’t even think about their bodies and how they function until something malfunctions or we get sick?

Since prevention is highest on my list of health care, let’s look at a basic diet- which means anything that passes through your lips-  ideas that can cleanse your body and bring about not only healthy short-term results, but encourage long term lifestyle changes which may prevent the onset of nasty colds, some allergies and chronic dis-ease.

Whole foods are a vital part of this process!  Whole food can be defined as food that is consumed closest to its natural state, closer to its raw, uncooked form and therefore at its highest quality.  In this condition, all the enzymes are found intact.  The amino acids are in their finest form.  The minerals, trace elements, carbohydrates and “life force” are present.  This life force in food is capable of reproducing healthy tissue and replacing body parts damaged by an empty nutrient diet.

Remarkable things begin to happen in your body as well as your mind when you improve the quality of food you consume.  There is an amazing intelligence present in every cell of our bodies.  When the food coming in to our bodies is of higher quality than the tissues which the body is made of, the body begins to discard this “old material” to make room for the superior material which it uses to make new and healthier tissue.  In simple terms, “out with the old and in with the new” high-test fuel for the body. You are worth it!

It’s a simple Law of Nature that our bodies try to produce healthy cells unless we interfere by putting excess “empty nutrition” into our bodies.  Some examples of “empty nutrition” are processed and packaged foods, additives and unpronounceable substitutes, diet drinks and carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta, alcohol, coffee, candy etc.

As we cleanse our bodies of these toxins,  some cleansing symptoms may (sometimes referred to as a healing crisis)  occur,  such as headaches, especially when kicking caffeine, nausea and skin breakouts, which may last anywhere from 3 days to several weeks.  You might say, “I didn’t have these conditions when I was into my old way of eating”.  Please realize that your body needs time to clean out an accumulation of those bad substances.  Is your life worth giving your body the chance to experience renewed energy both physically and mentally?

Foods that help the body detoxify naturally are fresh dark green leafy vegetables, kale, chard, Crucifers; cabbages and Brussels sprouts, asparagus, beet roots & greens, raw seeds and nuts and partly unsaturated oils like olive, walnut, coconut and grapeseed.  Some fruits and whole grains, mainly millet and brown rice, also help clean out our systems.

Adding these foods to your regular diet – a little at a time, like one or two per week – may help kick-start the cleansing and change your mind and your bodys’ desire for junk foods.  Also try eliminating or at least cutting back on some of the junk at the same time- replacing it with the good stuff.

It’s a good idea to check with your health professional before beginning any cleanse.  As a health coach, I suggest a regimen of certain foods and filtered water that can be eaten to help cleanse and replenish the body’s energy, vital organs, systems and functions.

Our deep love and enjoyment of our beautiful surroundings should begin with loving ourselves enough to take care of our bodies and minds with food – first!

Happy Spring!


One Pan Meals – Easy

Timing is the key, and make the best of your imagination


 The idea for One Pan Meals came to me when I realized I was preparing fast snacks and whole balanced meals in one pan, literally, and it was easy and efficient for clean up too.

 The KEY is timing.

It takes some thought as to what seasonings, herbs – flavorings you’ll use; will they taste good on a piece of fish, chicken or meat, and on the vegetables, rice, pasta too? 

 Here’s where your nose, memory and imagination come into play… to create meals that smell and taste great.  If you have a fussy eater who likes his or her food kept separate on the plate, then you may have some adjusting to do before serving.  If you use a large skillet, foods may be cooked “separately”, but in the same space. 

 Timing:  With fish and veggies, I usually put the veggies in the pan first, followed by the fish unless it’s a thick piece.  With chicken or meat, you may want to start that cooking first, then add the veggies.   It’s also a great way to clean up those little baggies and bowls of odds & ends or leftovers .

 Prepare a large pot of cooked rice, quinoa, barley, or other favorite grain and keep it handy.  They will usually stay fresh in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.  This was how I began.  Any grain can be added to a pan of veggies and protein in about the last 3-5 minutes of cooking. 

 Other good staples to keep in the refrigerator are chicken, beef and vegetable broths for nourishing liquids to poach in and to add moisture to the pan for cooking.  A bit of white or red wine may be added for liquefying, but keep it to a “bit” unless you’re poaching and really want the flavor from the wine.  Of course olive, walnut and coconut oils are great for sautéing and stir-frys.

 Stir-frys are a simple and tasty way of preparing in one pan.  Slow cooking them on lower heat than traditional “frying” keeps the enzymes and vitamins and minerals from being heated out.

Again timing, cooking your chicken or meats first; (slicing thinly and dicing meats does help them cook faster) and then add your veggies.   Sauces and spices go in with the first ingredients to be absorbed. 

Tasting and adding, adjusting the spices can be done after adding your protein source if needed.

 Adjusting the cooking temperature may be done when the protein is added.  I turn up the heat initially to brown or sear meats and chicken to lock in their juices, then reduce heat to finish the meal. 

 Serve immediately and enjoy.



It’s preventive medicine through munching the right food – what I call “eating your way to good health”.   It’s interesting that in nutrition schools, magazines, newspapers and many publications, prevention is emphasized through eating right and exercising.  Heck, buying clean food and preparing it at home is cheaper than eating out 4 – 5 time a week and getting sick – especially eating the fast food that’s currently being offered in this country. Get Creative:

Making your own snacks from fresh & dried fruits and veggies, leftover meats, cheeses and nuts can be fun and it’s more economical than buying the packaged junk, and – it helps clean up the kitchen and refrigerator so you can bring in more good stuff.  Even a 3 year old can put nuts and raisins, a handful of berries or apples slices & sesame sticks in a bowl or baggie to go – fast!

Fast & cool: Cut cold meats & chicken pieces, carrots  &  jicama sticks for one baggie or plastic container, and spoon a dip into another (get the tiny plastic baggies or tiny jars) and you have a great healthful “fast” snack to pack. 

Always good: Fruits-fresh & dried (the dried ones have more concentrated sugar) – sprinkle a little lemon, lime or orange juice on cut apples and pears to add a tangy taste  keep them from oxidizing (browning) toss in a handful of almonds or walnuts or sunflower seeds & a napkin…

Pick your veggies; Any vegetable that “crunches” – snap peas, broccoli (the stems cut into small slices make great crunchy snacking) celery, carrots, jicama, and baked and gluten free crackers or sesame sticks with or w/out salt, are great alone or combined with dried fruit.  The chewing also keeps you satisfied more easily than just swallowing a smoothie (that’s another blog).

Reflecting a trend all across this country, business owners in New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts and Colorado are saying there is a growing demand for natural foods.  From articles in the Boston Globe, comes confirmation about the healthy growth of Natural Food Markets – YEA!

Menus include foods such as hormone-free, antibiotic-free meats, organic slow roasted beef, all-natural chicken, wild bison and wild Alaskan salmon sandwiches served on warm organic flatbread, as well as a variety of vegetarian options, including stir-fried Asian noodles and individually tossed salads. There are no fries on the menu at O’Naturals. Instead, heirloom potatoes are roasted in olive oil with herbs, and served as a healthier alternative. Yumm.

The Nutrition Business Journal says the 2004 US market was estimated at $62 Billion for natural and organic foods, supplements, and natural personal care products. From 1997 to 2004 sales of organic food almost tripled and it continues to grow.  The Maine based O’Naturals restaurant group, which bills itself as “fast food, naturally”, was named as one of six recipients of the Hot Concepts award of the Nation’s Restaurant News.

Ok, so where do we in the Roaring Fork Valley of Colorado go from here? How about “Mchealthy’s SOUP’s ON!” * for hearty Organic soups and sauces~email me For more information and to order please

Wouldn’t you love to see a place that sells the fresh organic ingredients, prepares and serves the foods, hosts classes and educational seminars and prepares lunches and dinners-to-go for working people and families who now have very limited choices.    If I’m dreaming, please don’t wake me.

It is a viable concept whose time has arrived.  Gary Hirshberg, president and CEO of Stonyfield Farms and one of O’Naturals cofounders, was cited as saying that natural and gourmet are coming together and that “The quality of the ingredients really shines through and that’s most important.”

From the Galichia Center on Aging at Kansas State University, Valentina Remig, an assistant professor in human nutrition said, “Good nutrition – a varied diet with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, enough protein and less fat and sugar – has an important role to play in keeping people alert and healthy…. The more healthy the body is, the stronger the immune system…and the less rapid is the development of illness” such as depression, anxiety, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and other chronic physiological ailments that begin as early as the teen years.  In other words, eating right keeps your brain, as well as your body, in good shape. My philosophy exactly.

Since living healthy promotes mental and emotional vigor and potentially extends the quality and length of life, one would think that has great appeal for most of us who eat on a regular basis.  Noting the huge percentage of obese adults and children in this land of plenty, I often wonder who actually reads these articles?   Comments welcome.

Back to where I began, create your own healthy “fast food”: Buy healthful ingredients and prepared food that’s fresh, organic and “clean” – (no GMO or chemical additives, substitutes or preservatives – please read labels!)   The quality of ingredients affects the quality of meals, taste and better health.  For more tips on creating your own “healthy fast foods”, please contact me or go to foodnews.org for more information.

Healing Foods and You


Everyday foods and herbs and spices add flavor to your cooking and lives and  promote healthy bodies.  Here’s how:

The use of many date back 5 centuries to Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine.  Herbs are usually leaves of plants or trees – basil, bay leaf, celery leaves, chives, cilantro, dill marjoram, mint, and more.

Spices come from the rest of the plant, such as the bark (cinnamon), root (garlic, ginger, horseradish and onion), buds/flowers cloves, saffron), seeds caraway, cardamom, coriander, cumin, mustard, sesame) berry (black, cayenne, chili pepper) or fruit (allspice, anise, mace, nutmeg and paprika). Spices are usually dried.

Coming from the same plants, sometimes herbs and spices “crossover” as both herb and spice. Coriander, is known as Chinese parsley, and in the US and Mexico as Cilantro. You can buy it in fresh form and in bottles as seeds and powder. And, different parts of the plant can taste different, so their uses in foods vary.

Some more than others truly help heal. For example:

  • Mushrooms control blood pressure, lower cholesterol, kill bacteria and strengthen bones- some protect against cancers
  • Oranges support the immune system (vit C) combat cancer, protect your heart, straighten respiration
  • Tomatoes protect the prostate, combat cancer, lower cholesterol, protect your heart
  • Cinnamon is good for circulation, cold and flu dissipation

Along with spices and herbs which help make foods taste great, they feed your body and brain with nutrients that help children grow and learn and adults maintain their cognitive and digestive powers.

Herbs and spices have been used traditionally for more than 5000 years. Traditional Chinese Medicine was on of the first cultures to integrate food, nutrition and health. In specially prepared soups, dishes and beverages for medicinal benefits and sustenance ginseng is used to improve stamina, ginkgo biloba to improve cognitive abilities and memory, nutmeg for diarrhea and cinnamon for colds and flu.

Ayurveda, 5000 year old traditional medicine of India, focuses on disease prevention and health with its emphasis on diet. Using turmeric for jaundice and inflammation, basil for the heart, mace for stomach infections, cinnamon to stimulate circulation, and ginger for nausea and indigestion. Each of these herbs and spices are used for flavor and help provide the 6 tastes*, in Indian cooking.

These are just a few of the herbs and spices you can add to your foods for new flavors and health.  They are also available in health food & grocery stores and through alternative practitioners in supplemental forms.  A wonderful liquid nutritional that makes use of Ayurvedic principles and ingredients is Zrii*. It’s tasty and effective in fighting many of today’s common digestive and inflammatory ailments.

Herbs and spices contain a variety of antioxidants, and boost your immune system – some have antimicrobial effects. The oil of Oregano is anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal. Combined with saline solution it can help you prevent and soothe sinus infections and is great used in crowded places such as buses and airplanes to prevent infection.

*6 Tastes of Ayurveda:  sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, atringent.  for foods that exemplify these tastes see my next blog post

To your good health,

Ricki McKenna, C.N., a.k.a. Mchealthy