It was a busy week with nutrition for me, and I loved every minute of it! Here's an overview...

Thank you again to everyone who expressed interest in my weight loss project. It was almost impossible to choose someone, and I wish I had time to work with all of you! I think I've e-mailed everyone back, but if you haven't heard from me send me a quick e-mail so I know. I am really excited about the person I chose and very optimistic about what we can accomplish together!

I've spent the past few days following a specific nutrition plan for my blood type, which happens to be A+ (or, as I like to say, a perfect score, even though I secretly wish I was Type O). It's an assignment for my Body Typing class. I'm sure some of you have read D'Adamo's Eat Right for Your Type book. He basically believes we all need to eat a diet that is specific to our blood type. It's just one theory, but I have enjoyed learning about it because many people try this. Anyway, since I've been sticking to his suggestions I've had to do a lot of creative cooking, using mostly veggies and grains with a little bit of fish. The food has been great, but I think I'll be ready for some beef or chicken this weekend...

Lots of new info on weight loss in my class tonight. It's SO interesting and I love learning this stuff. Did you guys know that when we lose weight, we aren't actually losing any fat cells? Instead, they are just becoming smaller. The number of fat cells we have increases most rapidly during childhood and puberty, when we are growing a lot. After that, we only create new fat cells if we are consuming excess food - more than we can burn. However, if we decide to lose that weight, we don't lose the fat cells we've created. They just shrink in size. This can be part of the reason why people who lose a lot of weight have a hard time keeping it off - because they have so may fat cells inside their bodies. Hmmm. Something to think about!

I got a phone call this afternoon from a friend who is desperate. She is a volunteer at the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, and her little sister is extremely overweight and has terrible eating habits. She's looking for some way to work with this girl on nutrition education. Of course I am willing and excited to help, but then I started to wonder how many more of these kids may need nutrition education. And I got this idea... I have to talk to the director of my school about it, so stay tuned! I hope I can pull it off.

Finally, the last thing I want to share is for the Denver parents out there. I work for a woman named Dr. Emily here in Denver. She is giving a talk next week called The 7 Principles of Raising a Happy, Healthy Child. It's at her office, 1705 S. Pearl Street, Suite 2, 80210, 6:00 - 7:30 pm on Thursday, May 13th. It's completely FREE, but please call or e-mail to reserve your spot. Her contact information can be found here. She's incredibly talented and I am sure this will be a very valuable lecture! I don't have kids, but I'll be there.

That's all - have a great weekend everyone!

Blood Sugar & Insulin Resistance

I am reading a book right now for my Body Typing class called The Nutrition Solution: A Guide to Your Metabolic Type, by Harold J. Kristal, D.D.S. & James M. Haig, N.C. According to this book, there are four different metabolic types, and people need to eat according to their metabolic type in order to maintain the proper acid/alkaline balance inside their bodies. The idea is that once this balance is achieved, all metabolic systems will be functioning optimally and one is more likely to avoid things like weight gain and disease.

I’m not sure I really buy into this metabolic typing theory, but many nutritionists do. Call me crazy, but it just seems unrealistic to me that we can put every person on the earth into 1 of 4 categories, and if they eat the diet for their category, they will stay healthy.

However, the book is still interesting to me and I really like their description of insulin resistance. Blood sugar is a major problem for many people, whether they know it or not. I didn’t even realize I had blood sugar issues until I started nutrition school. Basically, when we eat, our pancreas releases a hormone called insulin. This insulin acts as a “key” that unlocks our cell’s doors, so that energy (in the form of glucose) from our food can enter. Without glucose, our cells have no energy. Our brain cells ESPECIALLY need glucose and will stop functioning properly without it. SO, insulin is very important. I'll do my best to explain it in simple terms - stick with me, because understanding this stuff can be helpful if you or someone you know may have blood sugar issues.

So when we eat food, insulin lets it into our cells so we get energy. But when we eat foods that are really high in sugars, our pancreas needs to release LOTS of insulin to quickly get all of that sugar out of our blood. All of this insulin causes cell walls to become crowded. They begin to reject insulin because they are so overwhelmed. Without insulin, the sugar begins to build up in the blood. Sugar buildup in the blood interferes with proper metabolism and can eventually lead to disease.

We learned that people with blood sugar problems may suddenly NEED to eat and get cranky and cannot think about anything else until they get food. And I thought “that’s totally ME!” When I’m hungry, I have a really difficult time staying even-tempered and waiting patiently until I get food. I remember once I was a young kid and we were driving home from somewhere, and I just hit a wall. I got out of the car and just plopped down onto the driveway and began to cry. My mom and sister kept asking what was wrong, and all I could say was “I’m dysfunctional!” I didn’t really even know what that word meant at the time, and my sister totally made fun of me for using it, but my brain couldn’t think or react to anything because it needed fuel so badly!

I’ve worked hard to adjust my diet so I don’t experience such dramatic fluctuations in my blood sugar anymore (in a nutshell, more protein and fats!). However, according to this book I’m reading, I am a “fast oxidizer” meaning I tend to metabolize quickly. This means the sugars go into my cells fast and I am hungry again sooner than others may be. (But, keep in mind I’m not totally buying into this book… it also says that I am more likely to sleep well (totally not true); like to sleep in (again, not true), and have small to medium pupils (no idea if this is true or not!)).

When dramatic blood sugar fluctuations occur over extended periods of time, people can become insulin resistant, which can lead to things like diabetes and heart disease. Insulin resistance is typically accompanied by high triglyceride levels (this is a blood test your doctor can do); low HDL cholesterol; and elevated blood pressure. Those with insulin resistance tend to be at higher risk of cardiovascular disease than other people. This is because the accumulation of the hormone insulin on our cells can eat away at our blood vessels. And we all know that heart health depends on healthy blood vessel walls, so when they become corroded, our heart suffers.

Things that improve the cell’s ability to “fix” blood sugar issues include weight loss, exercise, and (of course) proper nutrition. According to this book, “proper nutrition” means eating according to your metabolic type. However, according to me, “proper nutrition” means avoiding processed and refined foods whenever possible and eating fresh, whole foods that give you energy and make you feel healthy and satisfied.

Blood sugar is a huge topic and I have only scratched the surface here. However, I think people should be aware of how it affects the body, particularly if it is allowed to occur for longer periods of time. It is possible to get it under control with some simple lifestyle changes, and I believe people will be more motivated to make these changes if they fully understand blood sugar and realize that if they don’t make changes, they are truly putting their body at risk for disease.


Farmers' Markets

It’s Farmers’ Market season again, and since I’m a below-average gardener, I am really looking forward to getting my fresh, local fruits and veggies! I have great memories of going to the famers’ market with my mom when I was little. We’d beg her to let us get an M&M cookie from the “bakery man”, but usually had to settle for a honey stick from the “honey man”. My brother Teddy loved the woodworker and would sit at his booth and watch him carve wood while the rest of us shopped! It’s a great thing to do with your kids because there is usually a lot going on and they can munch on something delicious while you pick out your food for the week.

I listed the Denver Farmers’ Market information below, as well as links to farmers’ markets in some of the states that PWN readers live in (according to my Google Analytics). My brother-in-law Ryan recommended printing out this info and putting it on your fridge – I think it’s a great idea and will help you remember where and when you can get your fresh food!

Denver Farmers’ Markets

Cherry Creek Fresh Market

Where: 1st Ave. & University Blvd., Denver

When: Saturdays, May 1st – Oct. 30th, 8:00 am – 1:00 pm; also Wednesdays, June 16th – Sept. 29th, 9:00 am – 1:00 pm (so excited about the Wednesdays! Way less crowded)

Consistently named by locals as their favorite farmers’ market!

City Park Esplanade Fresh Market

Where: East Colfax Ave. & Columbine St., Denver

When: Sundays, May 16th – Oct. 31st, 9:00 am – 1:00 pm

Usually a little less crowded than Cherry Creek farmers’ market.

Highland United Neighbors Farmers’ Market

Where: 1500 Boulder St., Denver

When: Saturdays, June – October; 9:00 am – 1:00 pm

Celebrating its 2nd year!

The Market at Belmar

Where: Alaska Dr. & Teller St., Lakewood

When: Sundays, June – September, 10:00 am – 2:00 pm


Old South Pearl Street Farmers’ Market

Where: On Pearl St. between Florida and Iowa, Denver

When: Sundays, June 6th – October 31st, 9:00 am – 1:00 pm

Lots of great food and activities for kids, plus other great stores to browse on Pearl St. while you’re there!

Tiri’s Garden Farmers’ Market

Where: Corner of 15th St. & California, Denver

When: June 2nd – Sept. 28th, 9:00 am – 2:00 pm

An organic vegetable garden in an old parking lot in downtown Denver! A portion of all proceeds goes to Denver Public Schools. If you work downtown, check this out over your lunch break!

Golden Farmers’ Market

Where: 10th St. & Illinois St., Golden

When: Saturdays, June 6th – Oct. 3rd, 8:00 am – 1:00 pm

Live music and free horse-drawn carriage rides!

Highlands Ranch Farmers’ Market

Where: 9288 Dorchester St., Highlands Ranch

When: Sundays, May – Oct., 10:00 am – 2:00 pm

I hear you can get some great baked goods here!

The other top cities that PWN readers live in are from the states below. Click on your state for local farmers’ market information:








New York




Safflower Oil

Last week I raved about coconut oil, and got an e-mail from a PWN reader asking, “what about safflower oil?”. Which is a great question, because safflower oil has been marketed as a weight-loss aid for many years now, and since it’s typically affordable and available at any grocery store, I’m sure many have tried it.

What is safflower oil?

Safflower oil is basically tasteless and odorless, and it comes from a safflower (pictured below for those who haven’t seen one – I hadn’t!). Safflowers are grown mainly for the extraction of oil from the seeds. It is used in things like cosmetics, salad dressings and margarine, and many people cook with it.

What is the nutritional makeup of safflower oil?

Unrefined safflower oil has about 120 calories per tablespoon and 14 grams of fat. However, it differs from coconut oil when it comes to the type of fat in contains. Almost all of the fat in coconut oil is saturated fat, whereas the fat in safflower oil is mainly either polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fat. Polyunsaturated fat is found in the high linoleic acid safflower oil, and monounsaturated fat is found in the high oleic acid safflower oil. The high oleic acid safflower oil is refined and processed, and was created for cooking because it is much less susceptible to heat damage.

Sidenote/Cool fact: Safflower seeds are often used in place of sunflower seeds in birdseed, because squirrels don’t like the taste of safflower seed.

Refined or Unrefined?

The safflower oil that you find in salad dressings, margarine and other processed foods is very refined. Often oils are refined because this gives them a higher smoke point, meaning they are more stable when used for cooking at high temperatures. The refined safflower oil is the high oleic acid safflower oil. However, it is the unrefined safflower oil (high linoleic acid) that I would recommend if someone were going to use it for weight loss purposes. Refined oils are usually chemically processed, and for optimal health I typically recommend using things in their most natural state.

Safflower oil for weight loss?

It is the linoleic acid in safflower oil that is associated with weight loss. Linoleic acid helps with the growth and maintenance of tissues, and aids in fat metabolism. It is an omega-6 fatty acid, which is vital to health. Safflower oil is not only linked to a reduction of fat in the stomach area, but it can also increase lean tissue and reduce cholesterol (only the unrefined type). If someone is using unrefined safflower oil for weight loss, I recommend putting it into smoothies or homemade salad dressings, and consuming 1-2 tablespoons per day.

Coconut oil or safflower oil?

However, I still think coconut oil is a better choice, whether you’re using it for cooking or weight loss or anything else. I talked about all the benefits of coconut oil here. Coconut oil can, like safflower oil, aid in weight loss, but it can also help create a healthy digestive tract, eliminate bad bacteria, and boost immunity. If you have to choose an oil, why not choose the one with more health benefits? One reason people may be more drawn to safflower oil is because it is less expensive than coconut oil. However, make sure you are purchasing the unrefined safflower oil, and if you can get an organic safflower oil, it is even better. Because unrefined safflower oil does not have a high smoke point, I still recommend coconut oil for cooking.


Recipe: Mint Macadamia Pesto

First of all, thank you so much to EVERYONE who has contacted me about my weight loss case study! I am amazed by the response I have gotten so far. For those of you that missed it, go here to read about what I’m looking for. I am hoping to choose someone by Wednesday of this week, so there are still a couple of days to plead your case! Regardless of who I choose, I will be in touch with each of you this week. I am so excited about this project!

And now onto the recipe…

I went to a party last week and brought this as an appetizer. I found it in Body + Soul magazine and (as usual) I adapted it to what I think is a healthier and tastier version of the recipe!


1 cup fresh mint leaves (mine came from the garden)

1/3 cup parsley

1/3 cup macadamia nuts

1 tsp minced red jalapeño chili

1 ½ tbsp lemon juice

½ tbsp lime juice

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt to taste

Purée mint, parsley, macadamia nuts, and jalapeño in food processor until smooth. Add lemon and lime juices and olive oil, and process until creamy. Garnish with mint and serve.

I served this on cucumber slices with a bit of red pepper on top for an ultra-healthy (but still colorful and tasty) appetizer. However, it would go well with all sorts of veggies, chips or crackers. Ed and I ate it for lunch yesterday with sliced carrots, radishes, and red pepper, as well as rice & adzuki bean chips and sesame crackers.

You look at it and think pesto, but then taste it and realize it’s something totally different. The mint and citrus flavors are strong and very refreshing. Fresh mint can be soothing to the stomach, acts as an antioxidant inside our bodies, and is a great source of manganese, vitamin A and vitamin C. Parsley is an amazing source of vitamin K, as well as vitamins C & A, folate and iron. It is also a source of antioxidants. Parsley protects the heart and is beneficial for people with arthritis.