Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Don't miss a beat!

Happy Leap Day! As we bid good bye to February and Heart Health month, don't forget what the signs of a heart attack are for women. Think you already know what it is? Does it sound like this:
Of course you know what a heart attack looks like:
  • The victim stops what they're doing.
  • Their eyes open wide.
  • They clutch their chest, make some funny noises, and then they collapse to the floor. Right?

This is a prime example of a "Hollywood Heart Attack". Remember, don't believe everything you see on TV. In reality, heart attacks are often much tougher to spot from a distance...that's why it's important to know what the signs and symptoms look like—knowing how to spot them can be the difference between a loved one living and dying. Learn about what the real symptoms are for women. has some excellent information listed about the signs includinga fun interactive picture that looks like this:

I encourage you to check it out and click on the photos from 1-7. Its a great visual. Until then, read about the real symptoms below. The first step toward surviving a heart attack is learning to recognize the symptoms. The most common signs of heart attack in both women and men are:
  • Unusually heavy pressure on the chest, like there's a ton of weight on you

    Most heart attacks involve chest pain or discomfort in the center or left side of the chest. It usually lasts for more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain. It may even feel like heartburn or indigestion.
  • Sharp upper body pain in the neck, back, and jaw

    This symptom can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, shoulders, neck, jaw, or upper part of stomach (not below the belly button). Pain in the back, neck, or jaw is a more common heart attack symptom for women than it is for men.
  • Severe shortness of breath

    This symptom can come on suddenly. It may occur while you are at rest or with minimal physical activity. You may struggle to breathe or try taking deep breaths. Shortness of breath may start before or at the same time as chest pain or discomfort, and can even be your only symptom.
  • Cold sweats, and you know it's not menopause

    Unexplained or excessive sweating, or breaking out into a "cold sweat," can be a sign of heart attack.
  • Unusual or unexplained fatigue (tiredness)

    Sudden and unusual tiredness or lack of energy is one of the most common symptoms of heart attack in women, and one of the easiest to ignore. It can come on suddenly or be present for days. More than half of women having a heart attack experience muscle tiredness or weakness that is not related to exercise.
  • Unfamiliar dizziness or light-headedness

    Unlike in the movies, most heart attacks do not make you pass out right away. Instead, you may suddenly feel dizzy or light-headed.
  • Unexplained nausea (feeling sick to the stomach) or vomiting

    Women are twice as likely as men to experience nausea, vomiting, or indigestion during their heart attack. These feelings are often written off as having a less serious cause. Remember, nausea and vomiting may be signs that something is seriously wrong, especially if you have other symptoms.
If you have any one of these symptoms and it lasts for more than five minutes, call 9-1-1 for emergency medical care. Even if your symptoms go away in less than five minutes, call your doctor right away—it could be a sign that a heart attack is coming soon. Don't waste time trying home remedies or waiting for the feelings to pass on their own. Remember, quick treatment can save your life!

Yours in Health and Wellness,


Friday, February 24, 2012

Chick-fil-a has added a gluten-free option

Every month I receive Triumph Dining's newsletter and they always have a least one good story to share. The latest one they published will definitely make my little sister and mom happy because Chick-fil-a is one of their favorite places to eat on the go! For the original article, click the title!

Chick-fil-A Launches New Kids’ Meal With Grilled Chicken Nuggets

Chick-fil-A has a generally good reputation amongst the gluten-free community, and with their latest announcement I expect their reputation will only improve.
According to the press release on their website, Chick-fil-A is adding two new, healthy options for their Kids’ Meal: grilled chicken nuggets and Buddy Fruits® Pure Blended Fruit To Go. Combined with one of the beverage choices (skim milk, apple juice, lemonade or water), it’s about as healthy of a fast food meal as you’re likely to find anywhere.
Now, before I type up the rest of the press release, let’s jump over quickly to the disclaimer on Chick-fil-A’s gluten free info online:
…Some ingredients such as spices and natural flavors may be proprietary; therefore, we may not have the source listed for those items. We recommend you review this list with your physician before consuming any of the products listed below, or any other item on our menu. Although the ingredients in these menu items are gluten-free, we do not have gluten free prep areas and procedures for assembly of these menu items.

What does this mean for you? Before you go ahead an order anything, ask the location that you’re at whether or not the fryer is dedicated (anecdotal reports indicate that most locations do have dedicated fryers for their fries). If you’re concerned about cross-contamination, ask that the people preparing your food change gloves and use clean tongs. The web is full of stories of Chick-fil-A employees happily taking these precautions, and full of celiac diners happily eating — but without clearly explaining your needs and deciding whether or not you feel that the people behind the counter understand what you’re asking, there are no guarantees.
The press release clearly indicates that both the grilled nuggets and the blended fruit are gluten-free, describing them as:
  1. Introduction of Grilled Nuggets: These gluten-free Grilled Nuggets are made from a boneless, skinless breast of chicken tumbled in a salt and pepper spice blend and then grilled to perfection. The four count is only 80 calories and 1 gram of fat, while the six count contains 110 calories and 1.5 grams of fat.
  2. Addition of Buddy Fruits® Pure Blended Fruit To Go: Apple Cinnamon: Each squeezable fruit pouch is gluten free, all natural and contains 100 percent pure fruit. It is 60 calories, 0 grams of fat and equals one serving of fruit.
This is heartening not just because of the ingredients — which are indisputably better for everyone than deep-fried nuggets and fries — but because the company made a point of spelling out the relevancy for celiacs loud and clear.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

10 foods in RED

Eating foods in different colors helps to give you a variety of vitamins and minerals. Eating in a variety of colors helps reduce diabetes type II, high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease. Red foods are color by a natural plant pigment called "lycopene" or "anthocyanins".
You can find lycopenes in tomatoes, watermelon and pink grapefruit. Lycopene may help reduce the risk of several types of cancer, especially prostate cancer. When cooked, like tomato sauce in spaghetti, and absorbed with a small amount of fat, lycopene is absorbed better than when consuming raw tomatoes.
Anthocyanins, found in strawberries, raspberries, red grapes, and other fruits and vegetables, acts as powerful antioxidants that protect cells from damage. Antioxidants are important for heart health as well.

Here are some examples of red food:
  • red apples
  • watermelons
  • beets
  • tomatoes
  • red cabbage
  • cherries
  • strawberries
  • cranberries
  • raspberries
  • red grapes
  • red peppers
  • pink grapefruit
  • pomegrante
  • red potatoes
  • rhubarb
  • red onion
The American Heart Association has an article about 10 foods and red. You can find it here. The best part about all these red foods? They are gluten-free!

So, which red food are you going to eat today?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

E-mail from the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness

Hi Brandy,
I have an important announcement for you and your gluten-free fans. Any help you can provide by distributing this news is appreciated!
Last November, the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) announced that it would conduct a first-of-its-kind research study on gluten in medications, funded by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). NFCA, partnering with St. John's University College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Professions, is conducting this research in two parts. The first part of the study is happening now: a survey of the celiac and gluten sensitive populations.
NFCA urges all people who are following a gluten-free diet to participate. Participants will be asked about their experiences taking medicine. They will also be asked to share information if they think they might have had a gluten-related reaction to an over-the-counter or prescription medicine. Results from the survey will guide the second phase of the study: our team will test some of the medicines identified in the survey to see if they contain gluten.
This critically needed preliminary research aims to validate or nullify the anecdotal adverse experiences associated with gluten in medications that have been reported by people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. It is a first step to determine if more investigation is needed, which may lead to additional research, labeling, and safe use guideline initiatives. More information about the Safe Use Initiative can be found at
We are looking to generate as MANY responses as possible to strengthen our research. We need YOUR help in this effort. We ask that you circulate this message and invite all those who are gluten-free to complete this survey.

To participate in the this survey, please go to The survey takes between 4-15 minutes to complete. It closes on February 28, 2012.

Cheryl and the rest of the NFCA Team

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Want to know how to lower your risk of stroke by 50%?!

Did you know that fresh fruits and veggies can lower a woman’s risk for a stroke by 50%!? I knew they were good for you but I had no clue they could reduce it by half. I was excited when I read this article, originally published by the informative people over at Fruits and Veggies More Matters. The National Fruit & Vegetable Program is a public private partnership. It is a confederation of government, not-for-profit groups and industry groups working collaboratively and synergistically (isn't that a cool word?) to increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables for improved public health. Their goal is to promote health through increased consumption of fruits and vegetables. They also support initiatives to provide education and to improve access to fruits and vegetables.They have many great articles to read so, when you get a chance, stop by and click around. The original article displayed here can be viewed at:

The article starts out by says that "Among women who did have a history of cardiovascular disease, those whose diets included a high level of antioxidants had a 46-57% lower risk of stroke." That's awesome, right?! Keep reading:

More women than men suffer strokes. In 2006, women accounted for about 60 percent of stroke deaths. Of every 10 deaths from stroke, six (6) occur in women!

The most important risk factors for stroke are hypertension (high blood pressure), heart disease, diabetes and cigarette smoking. Other factors that increase the risk of having a stroke include heavy alcohol consumption, high cholesterol levels, migraines, illicit drug use and genetic or congenital conditions.

While fruits and vegetables have always been part of a heart-healthy diet, researchers have uncovered yet another reason for you to eat your veggies—a direct link between antioxidant-rich vegetables, fruits and grains can significantly lower stroke risk among women, according to a new study.

A Swedish study, which appears in the December 1, 2011 edition of the journal Stroke, involved more than 31,000 women without heart disease and almost 5,700 women with a history of heart disease. The study targeted women, ages 49-83. The heart disease-free group was followed for an average of 11.5 years and the heart disease group was followed for almost 10 years. A food-frequency questionnaire was completed by participants in the study each year.

Among women with no history of heart disease, those with the highest levels of diet-based antioxidants had a 17% lower risk of stroke than those with the lowest levels.

Benefits extended to women who’d already suffered heart disease. Among this group, women with higher levels of dietary antioxidant capacity had up to a 57% lower risk of hemorrhagic (bleeding) stroke compared to those with the lowest levels.

According to the study authors, fruits and vegetables contributed about 50% of antioxidant capacity.*

Just remember that fruits and vegetables are part of a heart-healthy lifestyle. Make sure you’re eating a variety of fruits and vegetables to give your body the best recipe of vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial compounds to promote a long life.

Consuming a diet that meets your recommended amount of fruits and vegetables each day – along with adequate exercise – is one of the best ways to build a strong defense against heart disease and other diseases in the future. While some diseases are not preventable, eating your fruits and vegetables helps remove free radicals that can cause mutations and cell damage throughout your body.

New experimental studies are emerging that demonstrate multiple effects of fruits and vegetables and their phytochemicals, suggesting that fruits and vegetables may have an even greater role to play in human health than the already positive results seen to date. So, enjoy your fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors and forms at each and every eating occasion!

For more information and educational articles like this visit

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

February Support Group Meeting

Please join me this Thursday, February 16th, from 6-8pm at Natural Pantry for our monthly Gluten-free Support Group. I can't wait to see you there!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Gluten-free Valentine's day candy

I know its National Heart Month and I am trying to emphasize healthy eating in my blog. However, since I know that Valentine's Day is typically celebrated with some sort of sweet treat to honor the people that are dear to you, I want to make sure you know which treats are safe! **Always be sure to check the labels though. Recipes have been known to change.

Gluten-free Valentine’s candy:
• Sweethearts candy hearts from Necco (New England Confectionery Company)
• Hershey’s Kisses, only in plain milk chocolate (not the flavored or striped ones)
• Jelly Belly jelly beans, all flavors
• Dove Heart Promises
• Smarties Valentine Hearts
• M&Ms Valentine Candies, all except for any pretzel-based varieties
• Tootsie Roll Valentine Candies
• Peeps Valentine marshmallow-based treats
• Ghiradelli chocolate squares including milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and caramel and raspberry
• Tootsie Pops Valentine’s lollipops
• Wonka Laffy Taffy, special Valentine’s Day edition
• Charms Valentine Pops
• Skittles
• Smarties Valentine love hearts
• Heart-shapes Junior mints
• Pez Valentine’s Day candies
• Valentine's Dots
• Butterfinger hearts
• Betty Crocker Valentine fruit-by-the-foot

Just remember, occasionally treating yourself to some candy is not a bad thing. The top two items that put you at risk for heart disease are inactivity and obesity. So, if you are going to satisfy your sweet tooth tomorrow, make sure to follow it up with a 30 minute walk or some other form of activity. Balance is the key!

Friday, February 10, 2012

February Product of the Month

Since the black bean and sweet potato burrito was my recipe of the month, I think I have to say that my product of the month is the brown rice tortilla that I use to wrap the ingredients. Not only is it great for the burritos but it can be used as a wrap for salads, as a quick pizza-like base, or even for nachos when your out of chips! (see picture below)
These unique Tortillas are the first available certified Kosher, all natural, Wheat & Gluten-Free tortillas and were specifically developed to fit the needs of individuals who are looking for Wheat & Gluten Free food options. Specifically developed to be moist, delicious, great tasting and nutritious.

INGREDIENTS: Whole Grain Brown Rice Flour, Filtered Water, Tapioca Flour, Safflower Oil, Rice Bran, Vegetable Gum (xanthan, cellulouse), Sea Salt.

Monday, February 6, 2012

February Recipe of the month

 Black Bean and Sweet Potato Burrito

In honor of heart month, I wanted to share a recipe that is not only good for your but tastes good too! Sometimes, you want something that gives you that warm, full tummy feeling but you don't want to feel guilty after eating it. This recipe hits the spot! It's also a great recipe if you ever participate in Meatless Monday or you're not a big meat eater. I feel like being allergic to dairy and soy on top of my Celiac disease limits my food choices too much so, I am not vegan or vegetarian. However, I will celebrate a meatless Monday every now and then because I feel like it helps me explore my food options and broaden my diet.


1 large sweet potato or 2 medium sweet potatoes
1 15 oz. can low sodium black beans (drained and rinsed)
3 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
3 dashes of cayenne powder
1 pinch of salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 whole medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced

tortillas ( I use a brown rice tortilla from Food for Life)
sour cream


1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. While the oven is preheating, line a small pan with aluminum foil (helps with clean-up later). Poke a few holes into the sweet potato with a fork to vent air. Place the sweet potato on the foil line pan and place in the oven. The size of the sweet potato will determine how long to cook it. If it is a large one, it may take an hour per side. When the sweet potato is soft to touch it is ready to be taken out. Let cool and the skin will be easy to peel off. For faster cooking, peel the sweet potato before cooking and cube it then boil it in hot water until tender.

2. In a bowl, mix the black beans with the lemon juice and seasonings. Place the oil in a skillet over medium heat (I typically do this while the sweet potato is cooling after I have finished baking it). Cook the onions and garlic in the skillet until tender, about 2-3 minutes.Add the bean mixture from the bowl and warm through.

3. If you are using a corn tortilla, you may want to cook some brown rice and add to this recipe. However, Food for Life has a brown rice tortilla that I love and increases the fiber content of the meal without increasing the calories too much. You may also want to add some low-fat cheese but I would recommend trying the mix first. Its very tasty on its own! The beans alone have great flavor!

Serves 4 people

The black beans are only about 70 calories per serving and my husband likes me to double the recipe so he can add meat and cheese and make nachos with them! 1/2 cup of sweet potato is 90 calories and is high in Vitamin A as well as a good source of Vitamin C. With a serving of brown rice or the brown rice tortilla, this is an excellent source of fiber. If you are out of tortillas though, you can eat the mix with tortilla chips or just eat it naked with brown rice! Either way, your gonna feel good and have a full belly too!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Go Red Day

How did you show your support for National Go Red Day? Did you wear something red in order to raise awareness? Here are some pictures from my day. I was surrounded by some amazing people who were more than happy to celebrate National Go Red Day! My throat was a little sore when I woke up that morning so I stopped at Walgreen's to pick up some cough drops but I kept with the them of the day!
I normally go for the mint flavored but today, I chose cherry!

Me with the fabulous Nurse Liasons at work

My team at work rocking the red!
Of course, our telemetry tech dressed up for Go Red
I was incredibly proud of my team for showing their support in raising awareness for Heart Disease. They work so hard everyday to provide their patients with the best care but they really made an effort to show their level of commitment. I was excited to end the day by spending some time with Vivian Deitz-Clark, a survivor of heart disease and one of the faces of the Anchorage Heart Association Go Red campaign. Together, we interviewed on the news to raise awareness for Heart Disease. Vivian told her amazing story and I was there to answer any medical questions the anchor may need answered. I was honored to be invited to spread the word. I will try to get the video clip as soon as possible and post it.

Just remember that February is National Heart Month so keep up the energy and spread he word!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Free NFCA Celiac Disease and Heart Health Webinar

In recognition of American Heart Month, NFCA will host a webinar about incorporating heart healthy foods and practices into your gluten-free diet. Join NFCA as Anne Roland Lee, MSEd, RD, LD, Director of Nutritional Services, Schar USA, serves as the guest speaker on this important topic.

Focusing on the positive aspects of living gluten-free while being heart healthy, Anne will:
  • Define what a heart healthy lifestyle is really all about.
  • Share recommendations for increasing the fiber and decreasing the fat without sacrificing any nutrients or flavor in the gluten-free diet.  
  • Explore ways to include healthy grains and still have time for exercise and activity.
  • Identify ingredients that you want on your nutrition label.
  • And more!
This webinar will include a Q&A session. Attendees can submit their questions on heart health and the gluten-free diet to Kristin Voorhees at Deadline for questions is Friday, January 20, 2012.
Dr. Schar USASponsored by Dr. Schar USA, this webinar is free of charge!
When: Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Time: 8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT
Where: Your computer
To register: Visit the registration page
Note: The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA) provides information on gluten-free events as a service to the community. Please note that NFCA cannot assure the event participant or restaurant patron of the gluten-free practices or knowledge of the restaurants cited if they have not completed NFCA’s GREAT Kitchens program, which provides accredited gluten-free training to restaurants and other foodservice providers. Please call the venue directly to learn more about their preparation processes.