Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Smart Substitutions

Heart Month is still going strong! What commitments have you made to decrease your risk of heart disease? If you have opted to make healthier choices when it comes to food, here are some smart substitutions recommended by the American Heart Association to help you on your journey to better heart health! Enjoy!

Nutrition - Smart Substitutions (Doughnut Bagel)
Smart Substitutions for Healthy Cooking
Fats - Oil Butter and ShorteningYou can make many of your favorite recipes healthier by using lower-fat or no-fat ingredients.  These healthy substitutions can help you cut down on saturated fats, trans fats and cholesterol, while noticing little, if any, difference in taste. 
When recipe calls for  . . .
Use this instead  …
Whole milk (1 cup)
1 cup fat-free or low-fat milk, plus one tablespoon of liquid vegetable oil
Heavy cream (1 cup)
1 cup evaporated skim milk or 1/2 cup low-fat yogurt and 1/2 cup plain low-fat unsalted cottage cheese
Sour cream
Low-fat unsalted cottage cheese plus low-fat or fat-free yogurt; or just use fat-free sour cream
Cream cheese
4 tablespoons soft margarine (low in saturated fat and 0 grams trans fat) blended with 1 cup dry, unsalted low-fat cottage cheese; add a small amount of fat-free milk if needed
Butter (1 tablespoon)
1 tablespoon soft margarine (low in saturated fat and 0 grams trans fat) or 3/4 tablespoon liquid vegetable oil
Egg (1)
2 egg whites; or choose a commercially made, cholesterol-free egg substitute (1/4 cup)
Unsweetened baking chocolate (1 ounce)
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder or carob powder plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or soft margarine; since carob is sweeter than cocoa, reduce the sugar in the recipe by 25%
Nutrition - SnackingYou can snack healthier by substituting snacks that are high in 
saturated fats and/or trans fats with these sensible snacks:              
Instead of  . . .
Enjoy …
Fried tortilla chips
Baked tortilla chips (reduced sodium version)
Regular potato or corn chips
Pretzels or low-fat potato chips (reduced sodium version)
High-fat cookies and crackers
Fat-free or low-fat cookies, crackers (such as graham crackers, rice cakes, fig and other fruit bars, ginger snaps and molasses cookies)
Regular baked goods
Baked goods, such as cookies, cakes and pies, and pie crusts made with unsaturated oil or soft margarines, egg whites or egg substitutes, and fat-free milk
Devil’s food cake
Angel food cake
Ice cream bars
Frozen fruit bars
Pudding made with whole milk
Pudding made with fat-free or low-fat milk
Ice cream
Sherbet, ice milk or frozen, fat-free or low-fat yogurt
Bagel or toast
Original article and more substitutions for restaurants and fast food items can be found here

Sunday, February 17, 2013

February Gluten-free Support Group Meeting

Please join me for the Anchorage Gluten-free Support Group this Thursday at the Natural Pantry Cafe from 6-8pm on Old Seward Highway.
I have A TON of samples to share from the GFAF Expo in San Francisco!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Be True to Your Heart, Dear Celiac

Guest post for Tender Foodie Blog

I want to give a heartfelt thank you (ok, maybe the pun was intended) to Elisabeth Veltman for allowing me the opportunity to post a guest blog on her great website about Living Heart Healthy with Celiac Disease. I am sincerely appreciate the chance to reach a broader audience with one of my favorite topics. I have an intense desire to educate my fellow Celiacs about their risk with Heart Disease and there is no better month than February which is National Heart Disease Awareness Month.

Be True To Your Heart, Dear Celiac

A "hearty" welcome to new guest blogger, Brandy Wendler.  Brandy is an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner at a local hospital in Anchorage, Alaska. Before obtaining her master's degree from Emory University, she worked in one of the top cardiovascular ICU's in the nation.  She was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2009, and has been promoting awareness for heart health & celiac disease as Mrs. Alaska 2012, and Mrs. Northwest International 2013.  Welcome Brandy!
For many people, February is the month of love and romance but as a former cardiovascular ICU nurse, February is a month to raise awareness about all things heart related. The American Heart Association (AHA) chose February as National Heart Month because we tend to focus a little too much on our emotional "heart" this time of year and forget about the real organ nestled in our chest and how it is affected by our lifestyle choices. Did you know that heart disease is the #1 killer of men and women? 1 in 30 women will die of breast cancer but 1 in 3 women (as well as men) will die of a heart-related illness.


So, why write about this on an allergy-related blog? Well, Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder that is triggered by the ingestion of gluten proteins (like gliadin and glutenins), found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye.  Gluten proteins actually have a strong connection with heart-related illnesses. Celiac Disease is a genetic disorder that in general carries an increased risk for other illnesses but, research suggests that Celiacs are 30% more likely than the general population to die of an illness associated with the heart and vascular system. The reason behind this is summed up in one word: Inflammation.

Celiac Disease is an inflammatory disorder that occurs in the gut when gluten is ingested but that inflammatory response doesn't just stay in the intestines, it is carried by your blood throughout your body. When inflammation occurs in the blood vessels, whether it is due to conditions such as high blood pressure, inflammation, or smoking, damage to the vessel wall occurs. In an attempt to repair the damage, the body will send out elastin, fibrin, fat and cholesterol to make a patch on the damaged area. This is what doctors typically refer to as plaque (see the picture below.) and is the basis of most heart disease.


The plaque, once formed, can be “sticky” and attract more cellular debris and fatty cholesterol (LDL or “bad” cholesterol) which may deposit on to it further narrowing the arteries and making blood flow difficult. Blood, as you may know, delivers oxygen and nutrients that are vital for your muscles and organs to function. When a blood clot goes through these narrowed vessels, blood flow can be cut off completely. When a clot occurs in the smaller vessels of the heart, a heart attack occurs, and when it happens in the brain, a stroke may occur.

The good news for those with Celiac Disease is that once you are stable on the gluten-free diet, your risk returns to that of the general population. However, as mentioned above, 1 in 3 people will die of a heart-related disease. 


So, how do you help your heart and decrease your chances of a heart-related illness? The first step is to know your risk factors. These are divided into two categories: modifiable and non-modifiable.
High Blood pressure
High Cholesterol
Physical Inactivity


Poor diet



Look at the table above and focus on the left column. These are the items that you have control over and are within your power to change. We never got a choice on whether we wanted food allergies or not but we do have a choice about decreasing our heart disease risk. Notice how almost all the risk factors on the list can be traced back to diet? The next step to decreasing your heart health risk would be a proper diet. Diet is about 80% of our health and a proper diet will decrease blood pressure, cholesterol, and weight as well as control diabetes and help you manage stress.  If you think about it though, the majority of food found at the grocery store that is labeled or marketed as “gluten-free” (or even “allergen-free”) is high in sugar, fat, salt, and calories in order to compensate for lack of taste and a different texture. All of these added ingredients are bad for our heart and health in general.

However, as a person with food intolerances or allergies we are already programmed to analyze the food we ingest. This is good news because we have already gained the skills necessary to help us on our road to health and wellness. Try starting small. If you are craving something crunchy, try eating unsalted nuts instead of potato chips. Want something sweet? Have some fruit instead of candy, chocolate, or cookies. Use herbs and spices in place of salt to give food flavor and use natural sweeteners such as liquid stevia (powdered has too many additives), agave, maple syrup or honey instead of refined sugars. Prepare snacks and meals ahead of time as well. That way, when hunger hits you will be prepared and make better choices. You don’t have to make sweeping changes all at once but small steps and little modifications over time add up! After all, you didn’t learn what foods to avoid for your allergies all in one day.

So this month, be good to your heart in more than one way and make choices that will keep your heart happy for the rest of your life, not just on one day!

For more information on a heart healthy lifestyle visit


Brandy Wendler, RN, MSN, ACNP-BC, Mrs. Alaska 2012, Mrs. NW International 2013Brandy Wendler, Mrs. Northwest International 2013, is an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner at a local hospital in Anchorage, Alaska. Before obtaining her master's degree from Emory University, she worked in one of the top cardiovascular ICU's in the nation. She is married to the love of her life, Capt. John Wendler, a pilot in the United States Air Force. 

Brandy was diagnosed with Celiac Disease four years ago and has been honored to represent her platform "Against the Grain: Raising Awareness for Celiac Disease" for the past three years. She created a website,, to support Alaskans on a gluten-free diet and organized the only support group in Alaska to encourage those living a gluten-free lifestyle. She also designs gluten-free menus for restaurants and has a personal blog, You may remember her as Mrs. Alaska International 2012, a title she proudly held will promoting Celiac Disease awareness through her platform.

Additionally, Brandy is an active volunteer with the Heart Association and enjoys raising money for the organization as well as administering heart health checks and educating community members about a heart healthy life-style.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

30 minute living room workout by Marzia Prince

I have had the honor of training with the fabulous Marzia Prince for my first two pageants. If you haven't heard of her, please, visit her website. She lives an amazingly healthy lifestyle one can only hope to emulate and she has always been very encouraging to me in the pursuit of an active lifestyle. I know I have often preferred to pursue the couch potato lifestyle but in honor of heart month and in the hopes of helping you begin your journey to a heart healthy lifestyle, here is a great workout she published in Viva Glam magazine.


Font size: Decrease font Enlarge font
Running short on time in your busy day and can't make it to the gym? No worries, just move the coffee table out of the way because I have the perfect living room workout for you.


Warm up by jogging in place for 2 minutes followed by 2 minutes of jumping jacks

15 jump squats
20 push ups
20 high knees
10 burpees
20 forward lunges
20 push ups
20 body squats
20 tricep dips (off a coffee table or the arm of the couch)
20 reverse lunges
1 minute mountain climbers
1 minute wall squat
1 minute plank

Repeat 3 times

And when you are done, the kitchen is only a few steps away to make a recovery smoothie. You can find some great smoothies in my Eat Right with Marzia section of VIVA GLAM Magazine.
Have a great workout!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

February Recipe of the month

In honor of National Heart Month, I wanted to post a recipe that is good for you and nurtures your heart. One of Alaska's greatest natural resources is our access to an amazing assortment of seafood. Of course, the salmon is the best so this recipe is a quick and fun MANGO salsa to put on top of cooked salmon. Original recipe can be found here.

  • 1 ripe mango, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno chile (include ribs and seeds for a hotter taste)
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 3 tbsp fresh cilantro leaves
  • 3 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • Pepper to taste
  • diced red bell pepper
  • jicama
Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and season to taste with pepper.

Adding some diced avocados can help take the edge off of any spiciness or ease it if it tastes too acidic. However, I think your taste buds will enjoy it over some salmon and I know your heart will enjoy the omegas!

Monday, February 4, 2013

NY Times Article on Celiac Disease and Gluten-Sensitivity

A New York times article was just released and featured Dr. Stefano Guadalini, medical director of the University of Chicago's Celiac Disease Center, and discuss a little bit about the difference between Celiac Disease and gluten-sensitivity, the prevalence of the two illnesses, the gluten-free diet and what we do know about gluten-sensitivity.

Here is a quote:

"There are also people who are allergic to wheat (not necessarily gluten), but until recently, most experts had thought that Celiac and wheat allergy were the only problems caused by eating the grain."

I'm glad that there is more press being garnered by both illnesses and their effects. Hopefully, it will help educate more people. Click the link for the rest of the article: