Tough (Plant) Love


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In January, I mentioned that I would be writing about some changes that I made in regard to my diet. If you are a follower of this blog, you may recall that I recently began to dabble in the elimination of nightshades.  I had some trepidation about leaning into this but was willing to give it a try.

Here’s a portion of what I wrote regarding nightshades in October 2017:
I have lived with chronic pain for several years; the source of which I am unsure. Perhaps it is a result of my Raynaud’s (an autoimmune condition) or from the arthritis that set in after my discectomy.  Regardless, I have learned to live with this adversity. I rarely discuss it, acknowledge it or try to change it.

When I first read about the effects of nightshades on the body I have to admit I was skeptical. There is little scientific evidence that these foods actually improve, reduce or eliminate these conditions.

During the winter months I will continue my research and spend copious amounts of time experimenting with nightshade free recipes in order to have a playbook ready for the next go round, I mean season. Stay tuned!

My time with nightshades never materialized   It was not an engagement in hibernation, but a divine intervention that altered my path. As it turned out, the hubby and I tuned into a Forks Over Knives webinar. That forum refreshed our plant-based knowledge and rerouted our path.  The message was simple. To thrive on a whole-foods, plant-based diet (WFPB) you need to eat fruits, vegetables, tubers, whole grains, and legumes.

Note: The vegan husband follows a flexitarian diet with about a 95% plant-based foundation.

It was time to face the music.
It occurred to us that we didn’t get it exactly right from the start. We were close but we were missing key information about the nutrients our bodies needed to thrive.  On a WFPB diet starch based foods and fruit are the stars of the show.  Foods like sweet potatoes, corn, peas, brown rice, quinoa, various beans and whole fruit form the basis of this diet. Starch based foods played second fiddle to our mostly vegetable laden lifestyle.

Further complicating matters, a little bit of processed food had, over the years, made its way back into our lives.  Store bought humus, once a special guest, began to occupy more real estate in our fridge. My recipes for oil-free, homemade humus began to fade from memory.  A veggie sandwich wrapped in a leafy green or a brown rice wrap was replaced with a highly processed wrap.  Veggie burgers had a Morning Star label. The huge daily salad morphed, more often than not, into twice to three times a week occurrences. Whole grains and legumes became less frequent patrons on the plate.  Hemp?   Its tattooed standing on the monthly grocery list had been lasered.

The consequences of our small, but impactful, dietary choices resulted in slow and subtle changes in my health.
As noted, I had Raynaud’s disease, an autoimmune condition.  No diet can guarantee perfect health, but it has been reported that a WFPB diet has shown to reverse autoimmune diseases.  Alas, since embarking on this diet, I had “developed” one.

In addition, my energy levels began to change.  It was a sloth-like, almost imperceptible change that spanned over about two years.   Over time I could sense a transformation, but I didn’t recognize it for what it was.

Immediately following the webinar, we instituted the WFPB playbook.

What were the results?

In less than two weeks, my Raynaud’s disappeared.   No longer did I suffer from the painful circulatory assault on my fingers and toes.  The ulcers that existed on two of my fingers and one toe faded away.

I have endured cold-weather induced asthma for twenty-five years.  Recently, I went for a run in 32° weather and didn’t experience any breathing issues – no shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing.  I have yet to experience the blast of Albuterol being peppered down my esophagus and into my lungs this winter. My asthma medication has taken a leave of absence for the season.   For safety’s sake, I’m guessing my asthma should be tested over time but now all I can think of is …TWENTY-FIVE YEARS OF ASTHMA…GONE?

And, the chronic pain that plagued my joints?   “Hwyl fawr”  (“Goodbye” in Welsh, for the kipper)!

From here on out you can expect to see recipes that are similar to the ones already posted but that better reflect the changes we have made.  We still consume vegetable heavy dishes but starches and fruit are their equal partner.

In conclusion, we are wiser, stronger, healthier and more annoying than ever!

Please leave a comment…



Superfoods 2018


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You wouldn’t think you could get direction on nutrition from a website called PopSugar.  But once you know it has articles on everything from travel (“16 Essentials For A Long Car Ride”) to news (“Trump Wants to Regulate Bump Stocks – But Will That Help Control Guns?”), it kind of makes sense.

I was drawn to an article entitled, “These Are The 15 Superfoods Your Kitchen Needs in 2018”.  The dictionary defines superfoods as nutrient rich and especially beneficial for health and well- being.  For those of you who are content with food that is merely average or good, and not into health, read no further.

I won’t delve into the whole list.  Some items (switchel, ashwagandha) would be right at home in a Harry Potter novel.  Don’t drink that switchel, Ron, it will turn you into a mongoose!  Others (cassava, baobab, camu camu) sound like they come from a surfing guide.  Peas and mushrooms, I think, made the list by accident.

In one of the worst flu seasons in recent memory, tea made from elderflower is a great treatment for sore throats, colds, and the flu.  It also works against coughs, arthritis, and nasal swelling.

The vegan spouse is a big fan of pineapples, but she has never had pink pineapples.  Genetically modified and over ten years in development, pink pineapples debuted in 2017.  Lycopene, the same thing that gives tomatoes and watermelon their color, accounts for their pinkness.

And, speaking of watermelon, how long have we been eating it in seedless form? It seems like forever.  We’ve been missing the effects of watermelon seeds. According to, dried and roasted watermelon seeds are high in protein, fats, minerals, and b vitamins.

Avocados have had a great run of popularity, but avocado oil is a versatile new addition to the superfood list.  You can cook with it, use it as a marinade, or pour it over cooked foods and salads.  It is even used in skin care products. According to, it benefits your eyes, gums, cholesterol, and joints.

Moringa, a plant whose leaves, fruit, bark, roots, flowers, and seeds are used in medicine, is one of the most talked about new superfoods.  It might be easier to list the things that moringa doesn’t help with, but here goes: anemia, arthritis, asthma, kidney stones, headache, high blood pressure, and diabetes. It works on diarrhea and constipation, but how does it know which problem you have?  And, did I mention snakebites?  This one is already on an upcoming grocery list.  I will report back in a future blog.

I wasn’t going to go all ashwagandha on you, but you’re probably dying to find out what it is.  Turning to once again, it is a medicinal herb native to India that has been used against depression and anxiety for 3,000 years.  Like most of the superfoods on this year’s list, it can be used to fight inflammation. How, as a society, did we become so inflamed?

You should probably take this year’s superfood list with a grain of, well, baobab. Everything on the list requires more research to determine its long term effects. Not every item will work for every person.  But keep an open mind.  I’m willing to try anything once.

But, seriously, peas?

Are there superfoods missing from this list?   Please leave a comment….

The Body’s Kinetic Chain – Open and Closed KC Exercises


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Kinetic = Force
Chain = A system that is linked together

I used to run with a woman who complained of pain radiating down the back of her leg.  She laid out the symptoms for me and was interested in my opinion. Immediately my mind went to disc or muscle related issues.  However, I replied that what she could have been experiencing was “referred” pain meaning that her discomfort could be felt in one area of the body but the source of that pain could stem from a completely different area.  To give her an example, I explained that I had been experiencing pain in my elbow which stemmed from a wrist issue. I then suggested her distress could be one of a number of possibilities. Perhaps it was disc related, a degenerative spine condition, sacroiliac joint dysfunction or arthritis. Maybe her piriformis muscle, which sits in the glutes and crosses paths with the sciatic nerve, was the source of pain.

A different personal trainer concluded she had tight hips and prescribed hip flexor stretches.  I encouraged her to get a diagnosis from a doctor so that a proper treatment protocol could be implemented.  After several months of pain, she finally visited the doctor. Through an MRI, a herniated disc was diagnosed. Her situation was a good example that when one part of the body does not work properly it has the ability to throw off other parts of the body.


The human body is a complex and interconnected system. It is an amazing structure of moving parts that employs the muscular (muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia), nervous (central and peripheral nerves) and articular (joints) systems.  The muscular, nervous and articular systems work together as a chain in order to create motion (force).  These three systems are referred to as the Kinetic chain.


Exercises are classified as either open or closed kinetic chain movements and performing one over the other may have advantages depending on the type of injury or your fitness goals.

An open kinetic chain (OKC) exercise or movement pattern is where the distal aspect (segment furthest away from the center of the body) of the extremity is not fixed to an object and terminates free in space.[1]  This is an exercise or movement pattern where your hands or feet are allowed to move freely. These exercises are typically isolated movements. Examples of these types of exercises are: bench press, lat pull down, bicep curl, seated leg extension, and seated hamstring curl.

A closed Kinetic chain (CKC) exercise or activity is where the distal aspect (segment furthest away from the center of the body) meets “considerable” external resistance and restrains free movement. [2]  This is an exercise where your hands or feet are fixed to a surface or resistance. These exercises are typically multiple joint movements.  Closed chain exercises are thought to be functional exercises that often resemble everyday activities.  Examples of these types of exercises are: squats, lunges, and push-ups.


Some of the benefits of OKC exercise include: they are advantageous for many sports that incorporate open chain upper body movements (ex: throwing a ball),  have the ability to improve strength deficits at isolated muscle or joints especially at the beginning of rehabilitation where CKC movements are not possible, and have a greater ability to improve range of motion (ROM) at a particular joint.

Some of the benefits of CKC exercise include: they mimic everyday activities making it easier to perform those activities, can reduce shear force due to the co-contraction of muscles, increases joint stability, and stimulates proprioceptors (sensory receptors in the muscles and tendons that send signals to the brain about changes in the muscle length and the speed at which changes are occurring).

I was taught that clients should move from open to closed kinetic exercises as fitness improves.  As time has passed, I have learned that, while closed chain exercises have shown to be slightly more beneficial for rehabilitation and fitness goals, integrating both types of exercises have benefits.

For more information and studies conducted on this subject, please read:

Kinetic Chain Rehabilitation: A Theoretical Framework

Open vs. Closed Chain Exercises

A Kinetic Chain Approach for Shoulder Rehabilitation

Evaluation of Open and Closed Kinetic Chain Exercises in Rehabilitation Following Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction

The impact of closed versus open kinetic chain exercises on osteoporotic femur neck and risk of fall in postmenopausal women

The Effect of Open and Closed Kinetic Chain Exercises on Dynamic Balance Ability of Normal Healthy Adults

The effects of open vs closed kinetic chain exercises among injured adolescent cricket players in KZN, South Africa

[1], [2]  Ellenbecker TS, Davies GJ. Closed kinetic chain exercise: a comprehensive guide to multiple joint exercise. Human Kinetics; 2001. Available here

Would you like more information on OKC and CKC exercises?  Please leave a message….

Do You Know Your Stuff? Take This Exercise and Nutrition Quiz



Whether you are a novice or a seasoned health and wellness junkie, it’s always beneficial to brush up on your sport and nutrition knowledge. Test your IQ with this fun review of articles posted in this blog. Clicking on the correct answer leads to the related post. Other answers prompt you to try again!

Part I: Exercise

1) According to many fitness organizations, which exercise is considered a high-risk or controversial move?

A.  Squat
B.  Overhead press
C.  Upright row

2) The rotational chop exercise works the abdominal muscles with an emphasis on which ones in particular?

A.  Rectus abdominis
B.  Obliques
C.  Transverse abdominis

3) For acute and chronic injuries, the following is recommended

A.  Heat
B.  Stretching
C.  R.I.C.E.

4) Tendon injuries are often the result of

A.  Lifting heavy weights
B.  Overuse syndrome
C.  Previous injuries

5) Which one of these is a classic sign of overtraining:

A.  Increase in physical performance
B.  Loss of muscle strength and coordination
C.  Increase in appetite

6) Knowing the opposing muscles is important for proper training. The opposing bicep muscles are

A.  Forearm muscles
B.  Pectoralis muscles
C.  Triceps muscles

7) One exercise that can counteract the negative side effects of sitting for too long is

A.  Kettle bell swing
B.  Chest Press
C.  Hammer curl

8) Neglecting this muscle can result in its weakness and that puts you at high risk for serious injuries like shoulder impingement

A.  Biceps
B.  Rear deltoid
C.  Serratus anterior

9) This lower body exercise naturally and instantaneously puts your body into proper form, is almost error-proof and is easy to master

A.  Lunges
B.  Goblet Squat
C.  Bridge

10) Arms are comprised of about

A.  1/3 biceps and 2/3 triceps
B.  2/3 biceps and 1/3 triceps
C.  1/2 biceps and 1/2 triceps

Part II: Nutrition

11) For vegans and vegetarians this vitamin can only be obtained through the consumption of fortified foods and or dietary supplements

A.  Vitamin B12
B.  Vitamin A
C.  Vitamin E

12) A good source of Vitamin B12 is

A.  Nutritional Yeast
B.  Brewer’s yeast
C.  Baker’s yeast

13) Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting and needed for the synthesis of bone protein.  A good source of this vitamin is

A.  Bananas
B.  Kale
C.  Asparagus

14) This mineral is needed for immune system health, helps make protein and DNA, heals wounds, helps with taste and smell and is essential for the proper growth of young children

A.  Potassium
B.  Zinc
C.  Iron

15) Pseudograins are seeds high in protein, fiber and trace minerals. An example of a pseudograin is

A.  Amaranth
B.  Wheat
C.  Farro

16) One of the most controversial posts in the blog was the Vegan Husband’s Got Controversy? In it, it states that a cow produces how any cups of milk a day?

A.  60
B.  90
C.  120

17) Hemp is

A.  Only legal in California
B.  A good source of vitamin C
C.  Rich in Omega -3 and -6 fatty acids

18) Miso is a good example of a

A.  Spice
B.  Fermented food
C.  An essential mineral

19) A good plant-based source of calcium is

A.  Milk
B.  Teff
C.  Spinach

20) We all eat differently in my household and strive to make healthy decisions. In my favorite article that he wrote, the vegan husband ate what off the deck floor on Memorial Day weekend?

A.  Hot dog
B.  Sausage
C.  Chicken wing

How did you do?  Please leave a comment…