4 Roots of Optimum Wellness

There are four essential parts to being healthy: Diet, Exercise, Sleep & Attitude.

Vitae Elixxir Healing Herbs

A proprietary combination of ten disease-fighting herbs used for more than 40 years and helping thousands of people with serious health issues.

Books by Author & Health Coach Chris Pedersen

In a world of adventure and imagination, kids’ books in print and digital that encourage a healthy lifestyle.

6 Tips to Lose Weight

Don’t count calories—take a serious look at the food you want to eat, then ask, ”Is this something that will give my body good health?”

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Wishes for a Merry Christmas and Bright New Year

Merry Christmas Art
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and Bright New Year! As I reflect on 2014 and look ahead to next year, first let me say I appreciate each of you. If you learned something and perhaps incorporated a few new things into your lifestyle that made you healthier, I am thankful.

I will be signing off until next year, but it won't mean I'm not thinking about you. Work has begun to redesign and re-orgainze the website. Once completed, you should find it easier to access what you're looking for—whether it's older posts, recipes, a product I've talked about or you're new and want to achieve optimum wellness. You'll discover health tips, information and recipes for your healthy journey.

I'll also be telling you about my children's books and how they fit in to my message for a healthy lifestyle. What? You didn't know I'm an author of children's books? My bad... I've needed to bring together my two identities (health coach/blogger and children's writer) for some time. It will make my life simpler (and you know I like that).

As a parting message, I thought you'd like to see a list of the most popular posts for 2014:

Healthy Diet

Colon Cancer

Conquering Illness

African Bean Soup

Fight Cancer

Vitamin D is Essential to Health

Which post did you find most helpful in 2014?

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Blessings of Special Needs Kids

Give a warm welcome to special guest poster, my friend, Nancy Hill—a fellow traveler on the journey of eating clean, traditional foods. She has two of the sweetest boys, which she adopted as wee ones knowing they needed special care. Enjoy reading about her latest diet journey and a blessing. ~Chris

Well, lots of changes going on around here…dietarily speaking! After 6 years, we’re officially no longer vegetarian. We’re now eating Paleo-style (although I dislike the label “Paleo!"), Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) to be exact, recommended by our new functional-pediatrician doc to address Philip’s GI issues. It was not an easy decision, or transition, but based on weeks of research, we feel it’s the best move at this point to help heal Philip’s gut and resolve his dysbiosis/small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), as well as malabsorption and nutritional deficiencies.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Orange Zest Cranberry Sauce Recipe

I love whole cranberry sauce and found some ready-made I really like. Trader Joe's makes a whole cranberry sauce with orange zest, but it's a bit sweeter than I prefer for my no-sugar diet. This year I made my own cranberry sauce following a recipe from PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine).

PCRM promotes a personal responsibility approach to medicine starting with a plant-based diet. Although I don't agree with every detail of the PCRM recommended diet, I am behind their goal of dramatically changing the way doctors treat chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and cancer. PCRM puts prevention over pills and other medical interventions, encouraging doctors to empower their patients to take control of their own health.

With a few tweaks from the original PCRM recipe, I made this cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving and will likely repeat it for Christmas dinner. I squeezed juice from the orange I grated for the zest rather than use orange juice concentrate, which I find too processed. It turned out perfect.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

6 Tips to Achieve Christmas Bliss

Do you find yourself in a state of frenzy during the Christmas season, whether it's being bombarded by commercialization or feeling the stress of getting a gift for everyone on your list? Here are some tips for calming your heart and re-adjusting your attitude this season.

#1 Approach the Season With a Sense of Gratitude
Be grateful for what you have—friends and family who love you. They won't stop loving you if you don't get them a gift. The gift of you may be all that's needed.

#2 Give a Gift With Meaning
Make up a coupon to give something of yourself (babysitting for your girlfriend with small kids whose budget has no room for babysitting). The list is endless.

#3 Take Time to Serve the Less Fortunate
There are plenty who are homeless and hungry during the Christmas season. Take time to schedule several hours on a service project to help those in need. You'll never feel more blessed than when you serve others.

#4 Keep Your Expectations In Check
Don't assume anything. Inquire, plan and be ready to grant grace at every turn. Slow down and let the frantic pass you by. Be gracious when you get the gift you think is… you fill-in here.

#5 Remember What This Time of Year Is REALLY About
Christmas Nativity
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you—he is Christ the LORD.
Luke 2:11
I wish you all a blessed Christmas always remembering that our gracious and merciful heavenly Father sent His only Son Jesus to be born a baby and then perish on a cross to redeem me and you from the penalty of our sins. And for that we celebrate Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Raw Cacao Cookie Dough Balls

I finally got some cacao nibs so I could make something with this healthy superfood. I told you about cacao in a Wisdom Wednesday post. It's the healthy form of chocolate.

Raw chocolate (cacao) is "off the chart" the highest of any food in antioxidants. Rich in minerals magnesium, iron, manganese, chromium, vanadium, copper, zinc and phosphorus. Cacao's complex nature and chemical reaction in the body allows the arteries and intestines to absorb more nutrients. It increases dopamine and other mood altering chemicals in the brain creating a sense of euphoria or bliss. Yeah, Baby! You don't get that from chocolate you picked up at the check-out stand.

The superfood nutrients are in the raw version of chocolate. Most are cooked away (except the minerals) when you heat cacao over 118° to make cocoa.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Get a Vitamix Under Your Christmas Tree

When mentioning a wonderful smoothie I just blended using my Vitamix, I might hear a sigh from someone who doesn't have a Vitamix of their own. I've had one for about thirty years now. It's that good and well-built. I think everyone should have one. It's an investment in your health. The Vitamix makes it easy to mix up a fresh veggie and fruit smoothie chock full of nutrients (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, enzymes and more).

Now is a good time to get a Vitamix blender on your Christmas list. Wouldn't you like to wake up on Christmas Day, unwrap it then put it to work making a Pumpkin Pie Smoothie? Yum!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Word About HealthCare

Health Insurance
Tis the season. Well... not what you might be thinking. It's open enrollment season for health insurance sign-ups. Ads to that effect are filling up our email inbox and snail mailbox, and bombarding us while watching TV or listening to the radio.

Although I do have health insurance (the kind the ads are all about), I'm insured more securely by what goes on in my kitchen. Starting with what I add to my shopping cart and ending with what I put in my mouth.

And it costs me a small fraction of what the other insurance costs.

My friends at Food Matters echo what I've always said as we endure the groaning on and on over national healthcare. For great heath tips and related videos, including the film that started it all—Food Matters, check out foodmatters.tv.

While we're on the subject, can I just say... The term healthcare (used ad nauseam when referring to the Affordable Health Care Act) is complete misuse of the language. The more appropriate term should be Disease Management.

What are you doing to insure you are healthy?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014



Friday, November 21, 2014

Indian Dal Recipe

Indian Dal Recipe
My niece Melissa is a modified vegan like myself. In addition to being a very talented young woman (budget world traveler, photographer, graphic artist and more), she loves to cook up new recipes from exotic places she has been to. Both Melissa and her husband Jake like to cook. Recently she emailed her recipe for Indian Dal. I tried it... yum with a kick (adjustable to your liking).

Check out Melissa's website: http://rouxroamer.wordpress.com

Don't you love the cooking videos of the chef throwing the recipe together in a few minutes. She picks up containers with pre-measured and pre-cut ingredients and tosses them into the pot. So simple, right? Yeah! I want someone to measure and pre-cut all the ingredients for my recipe too. That's makin' it simple.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Giving: A Show of Gratitude

Operation Christmas Child
As Thanksgiving and Christmas approach, we tend to look beyond ourselves and think about giving. Webster's Dictionary defines give: to make a present of... However, give is just a word with no feeling behind it. We add the emotion from something in our heart. A genuine attitude for giving might best be offered with gratitude: a feeling of appreciation or thanks.

Attitude is one of my roots of health and one way to improve your attitude is to show gratitude. Volunteer your time to the less fortunate. Giving to others helps us forget ourselves and our troubles. It tends to reinforce a thankful feeling within.

At this time of year one favorite family tradition has been to fill a shoebox with goodies and items for a child living in a third-world country who lives in dire circumstances and a seemingly hopeless situation. We accomplish this through Operation Christmas Child, a project of Samaritan's Purse.

What is Operation Christmas Child?

Through a simple gift of a shoebox filled with everyday items, we can share the love of Jesus with a child on the other side of the world. Pack the box with toys, school supplies, toothbrush, soap, etc. Add a picture of your family and even a letter to the child. A tracking code may be added to let you know the destination country of your shoebox.

In 2007 I volunteered at an Operation Christmas Child processing center in Southern California and learned that boys ages 10 to 14 are under-represented in shoebox gifts. From that point on we always pack a box for a boy in that age range.
The Dollar Store offers lots of great items to include in a shoebox. For an older boy, I always include duct tape. Having been to a third-world country, I've seen what the children create out of empty liter bottles, aluminum cans and string or wire. Duct tape can be creative magic for them.

In addition to a t-shirt, here's what we put in our box:

Need a bit of instruction? Maybe this video will help... or at least give you a chuckle:

What kind of holiday family traditions do you have for showing gratitude?

Friday, November 7, 2014

Fish Chowder

Fish Chowder Recipe
I'm a modified vegan—I don't do dairy (except occasional goat cheese and organic eggs) and the only meat I eat is wild-caught fish. When I found this chowder recipe, I got excited. This soup is delicious. You're going to love it. 
Fish Chowder
Want something to warm your tummy this fall? Make up a double recipe so you have plenty to freeze for more than one meal.
Fish Chowder
Fish Chowder

from Whole Foods
yield 8 servings

category Soup
cuisine Pescatarian

3 celery stalks, diced (plus leaves for garnish)
1 red bell pepper, chopped small
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 C vegetable stock
1/4 C quinoa flour
6 C organic unsweetened plain soymilk
6 medium red potatoes (~1 1/4 lbs) cubed
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
12 oz wild-caught white fish (mahi mahi, monkfish, etc) cut into 1" pieces
1 C yellow corn (fresh or frozen)
1/4 C finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1. Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add vegetables and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown (6 - 8 minutes).
2. Add stock and cook, scraping up any browned bits until reduced by 2/3 (~2 minutes).
3. Add flour and cook, stirring often (1 minute). Then whisk in soymilk.
4. Stir in potatoes, thyme, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover and simmer until fragment, thickened and potatoes are almost tender (~7 minutes).
5. Stir in fish and corn then cook until fish is cooked through (6 - 8 minutes).
6. Stir in parsley and serve, garnishing with celelry leaves.

Give this recipe a try and let me know how you like it.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

6 Steps to Avoiding Holiday Temptation

Here you are at the edge of the holiday season—staring down piles of leftover halloween candy or worse, sneaking pieces of your son or daughter's stash, while telling yourself you're saving them from eating too much candy.

You’ve told yourself you’re making the switch to healthier eating, but you see food all around you—tempting holiday food that you know isn’t good for you. What can you do to deal with the temptation?

You need a plan.

Start with your home—that will be the hardest—especially if your house is full of hungry grouches (I say this endearingly) who don’t see eye-to-eye with you on eating healthy.

Here are things you can do to make things go smoother.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Have a Healthy Halloween

Healthy Halloween Treats
I love the dress-up part of Halloween. When our son was young, I enjoyed coming up with fun costumes. One year I made a tyrannosaurus rex costume and my husband and I dressed as cave man and woman. We won best group costume at our community Halloween Festival as the Prehistoric Family.
Halloween Costume
What I don't like is all the candy.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wisdom Wednesday

Health Tip
Health Tip:
More food for thought on the Death By Sugar post. Pass this on to anyone receiving conventional cancer treatments.

What do they use to "light up" cancer in the body during a CT Scan? That's right! Sugar! Glucose is used to carry the radioactive material to any sights with cancer. It's known that cancer feeds on sugar. So why would oncologists NOT tell their cancer patients they need to eliminate sugar in their diets to help starve the tumor? And why do they serve sugary treats to patients receiving their chemo infusions?

Did you know that most cancer patients don't die of cancer? They die of starvation. Doesn't it all make sense? If you feed the cancer with a diet of sugar (from breads & pastas, products with added sugar, desserts, sodas, etc.) you do so at the expense of healthy cells.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Death By Sugar—6 Ways Sugar Damages Your Body

Sugar Will Kill You

Sugar can be as addictive as cocaine. It activates the brain’s reward system causing pleasure-inducing chemicals (dopamine) to flood the body. The result is a craving for more… and more.

Sugar damages your health on several levels. For starters we now know that fructose/sugar elevates blood pressure and potentially damages your kidneys. It increases uric acid which leads to chronic, low-level inflammation—the foundation for most disease. For example, chronically inflamed blood vessels can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

Let's look at the what happens in the body when you consume a 20 oz soda:

Within 20 minutes— Your blood sugar spikes, and your liver responds to the resulting insulin burst by turning massive amounts of sugar (17 teaspoons full on average) into fat.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wisdom Wednesday

I hate to burst anyones' bubble, but I must set the record straight about chocolate. The news regularly reports that chocolate is healthy for you... BUT that is NOT the whole story. What is healthy for you is the raw form of chocolate called cacao, which is dried and unsweetened. Cacao nibs are cacao bean pieces that can be ground to make a powder for recipes.

Known as a super food, the health benefits of raw cacao include:
  • Powerful antioxidant—high in resveratrol, the potent antioxidant found in red wine.
  • Rich in minerals—magnesium, iron, potassium, calcium, zinc, copper and manganese.
  • Boosts your mood.
  • Reduces your risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease.
Cocoa, the basis of virtually all chocolate sold including the unsweetened powder you buy for baking, is the result of roasting cacao, which destroys the enzymes and reduces the nutritional value. No more super food. :(

Don't fall for the idea you can eat lots of chocolate because you read that its good for you. That chocolate you're eating is loaded with sugar, which negates even further the healthy goodness of what started as raw cacao.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Life is Fragile—Live It with No Regrets

Dying without regrets
Have you ever listened to Tim McGraw's song Live Like You Were Dyin' and wondered what it meant to you? McGraw's song speaks of skydiving, mechanical bull riding and dispensing forgiveness previously denied. Living a life of optimum wellness encompasses living a life with no regrets.

Bronnie Ware, a hospice nurse for many years, discovered that people faced with death experienced many emotions, but eventually came to an acceptance and peace. When asked if there were regrets or things they would do differently, she found five common themes.

Friday, October 3, 2014

October is National Vegetarian Month

National Vegetarian Month

Whatever it takes to eat more veggies, whether that's eating vegan (no dairy or processed foods), cutting out meat (vegetarian), adding another serving of veggies each day or like me (vegan, but eat wild fish, organic eggs and occasionally goat cheese), eat like your life depends on it. Because it does!

Your mind will clear, the scales will dip, your skin will look amazing, you'll sleep better and you can say good-bye to those pesky colds and flues.

Graphic Source: Fix.com

Friday, September 26, 2014

Yam, Chickpea & Spinach Curry Soup

Yam, Chickpea & Spinach Curry Soup
Here's a great soup to get your fall in gear. It's simple (if I make it, you can bet it's easy to prepare). I made this soup while visiting a friend who moved away.

Two other friends and I flew to Southern California to enjoy a few days with a girlfriend who moved closer to her grandkids—her son needed help and she rose to the challenge. I offered to cook all the meals during the visit because I've learned that I won't get decent food (or any food... hello, breakfast is the most important meal of the day) unless I step up. Thrilled about having me cook for them, they were eager to see what and how I cooked.

It's just easier for me to cook than give the cook instruction for my eating lifestyle. In this case, the cook was primarily my friend's husband and he wanted to learn more about eating healthier.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wisdom Wednesday

Studies continue to expose the ill-effects of artificial sweeteners. Besides research that claims these fake sugars add weight rather than help you lose weight, the latest study shows that artificial sweeteners (saccharin — in the pink packets of Sweet’N Low, sucralose—yellow packets of Splenda, and aspartame —blue packets of Equal) caused a change in gut bacteria that led to a glucose intolerance.

In plain talk that means you can be on your way to getting Type II diabetes. Not to mention that disrupting the gut bacteria (the essence of your immune system) is dangerous business.

Do you need any more evidence that diet drinks and using artificial sweetener instead of real sugar* is NOT okay? The issue should be settled. Stay away!

*We'll tackle real sugar in another post.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Remembering 9/11

We will never forget that Tuesday when an ordinary morning was attacked by evil and changed America forever. It punched a hole in the fabric of our security. Up to then, most felt America was invincible.

Many families have a story to tell about that day. For those who lost loved ones, the story may still hold a painful grip on hearts—even thirteen years later. We have vivid memories of exactly what we were doing when we heard the fateful news. What were you doing?

Bob and I were up early that morning preparing to go to the airport in San Francisco to pick up our son, Nur, and his half-brother, Daak, returning from three weeks in Japan.

Friday, September 5, 2014

What Does a Bully Look Like?

What does a bully look like? Pretty ugly when they blindside you, yelling unfounded accusations in your face. Really? Why does a 50-ish man find it necessary to scream at a women sitting in her camp chair visiting with a friend.

It happened to me last night while waiting for the band to start at an outdoor free concert. My husband was at the restroom at the time of the instigating incident. When Bob returned, he was puzzled to find our friend arguing with the bully (never argue with a bully—they don't listen and reason is not a trait they embrace).

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

8 Tips to Lose Your Gut

Rock Man at Tamarack Lake, CA
Rather than show you an ugly picture of belly fat or the flat stomach of a twenty-year-old... I bring you Rock Man. He spouts wisdom to help you lose that gut you're tired of feeling around your middle. Maybe you're not interested in getting a rock-hard stomach (although it's easy to attain... right, Rock Man?), but you'd like to get rid of that roll. Read on.

Building muscle, losing fat, and improving overall health is dependent on one very important hormone—insulin. Follow these tips to control your insulin and lose that fat!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Summer Squash & Spinach Salad with Feta Cheese

I tossed this together for my lunch the other day. It's the perfect example of what I do regularly. With plenty of green and yellow summer squash coming out of home gardens, you'll find this one a winner. It fits my simple and quick to prepare requirements.

From now on simple and quick shall be known as SAQ—yes, it's time to give those recipes an identity.

This recipe includes smoked paprika. If you haven's discovered this spice, you better go get some. Once you start adding it to recipes, you can become a revered chef like me (in my own head).

For dressing I used what I had pre-made, which is typically equal amounts of extra-virgin olive oil and apple cider vinegar. I might add a bit of balsamic vinegar, honey, lemon or lime, spices or even fruit concentrate. Mix a tiny amount of this and that and you've got yourself a delicious fresh dressing without all the #%*&% added that you find in store-bought dressing—even the organic ones. The additives are just as hard to decipher as #%*&%.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Wisdom Wednesday

To get probiotics into your daily meals there's Kimchi (great with eggs for breakfast), Kombucha tea, plain Yogurt, and Sauerkraut—each giving you different types of bacteria. Add to that Miso, which is commonly used to make miso soup, however the bacteria are likely destroyed in the cooking. Instead add a little miso paste to your salad dressing—it acts as an emulsifier.

Here's a quick dressing recipe from Summer Tomato:
1 Tbsp miso paste, splash of rice vinegar to 1/2 C olive oil, add salt & pepper, fresh chives and some grated ginger to make a nutritious and delicious dressing.