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Tips & Info

Quick, Easy and Tasty Totes That Nourish the Body

by Melonie Sharno

GreenSmoothieIf you’re in treatment for cancer, you may experience side effects that prevent you from getting adequate nutrition. It’s okay! This could help.

Remember, there aren’t any hard and fast nutrition rules when you’re miserable. Just keep going. One of the things you can try are liquid meal supplements…they not only increase your caloric intake, they taste great as well!


Start you day with a breakfast smoothie…the oatmeal helps fight anxiety’s negative effects, and flush estrogen, bananas are a great source of natural energy and strawberries have antioxidants and fiber in abundance. This is enough for two portions.

Ingredients…1 cup of soy or almond milk, 1/2 cup of rolled oats, 1 banana broken into chunks, 14 frozen strawberries, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla (optional).

In a blender, combine soy/almond milk, oats, banana and strawberries. Add vanilla, if desired. Blend until smooth. Pour into glasses and serve.


Yes, it’s delicious…yes, it’s green…yes, Popeye would love it too! Spinach not only offers twice as much fiber as other greens, is an excellent source of beta-carotene and iron. This serves two…one for you and one for a friend.

Ingredients…1 banana broken into chunks, 1/2 apple, cored and chopped, 1 cup of grapes, 1 and a 1/2 cups of spinach, 6 oz of plain or vanilla yogurt.

Place banana, apple, grapes, spinach and yogurt into a blender. Blend until smooth, stopping frequently to push down anything stuck to the sides. Pour into glasses and serve.


Though this drink requires a juicer to make, it’s very much worth it…it’s super healthy and loaded with powerful nutrients! Kale is being called “the new beef”, “the queen of greens” and “a nutritional powerhouse.” One cup of kale is filled with 10% of the RDA of omega-3 fatty acids, which help, fight against arthritis, autoimmune disorders and cancer. This recipe is enough for two 8 oz. portions.

Ingredients…1 head of romaine lettuce, 4 leaves of kale, 2 apples cut in quarters, 1 lemon, 1/2″ piece of ginger.

Process romaine, kale, ginger, apples and lemon through the juicer. Stir before drinking.

Now, you can enjoy a nutrition-packed smoothie at any time of day. We’d also love to get your favorite recipes.

Blissful Health With Essential Oils

by Christine Taylor, Certified Holistic Health Counselor and YCT! Volunteer

Essential oils are aromatic liquids extracted from the leaves, flowers, seeds and roots of plants and trees.  They have been used since ancient times to enhance human health. Nature’s great multi-taskers, essential oils have been studied extensively for their many uses such as promoting emotional balance, relaxation and mental clarity, as well as supporting digestive, respiratory and immune health.  Other uses include household cleaning, disinfecting, deodorizing, insect repellant, cooking and as dietary supplements.  The most popular use of essential oils is for aromatherapy.  Once inhaled through the nose, the fragrances hit the olfactory bulb, affecting the emotional center in the brain, causing positive mood changes.  Practitioners use essential oils as part of massage, acupuncture reflexology, Reiki and other modalities.

There are many ways to administer essential oils. They can be inhaled by putting a couple of drops onto a tissue or in the palm of your hand, and placing it near your nose. You can diffuse oils through the air too. Try using specially designed diffusers that do not use heat, as heating oil can alter its chemical structure.  You can apply essential oils directly onto the skin in some cases, though take caution some oils are too strong for direct application and could need to be diluted with a carrier oil. Also, please note that only therapeutic-grade oils that specifically state they are suitable for for ingestion can be taken internally. It is important to read the package instructions before using any essential oil, only oils labeled as a nutritional supplements are safe for internal use. Essential oils are highly concentrated and only require one or two drops to be effective. Many essential oils are (GRAS) or ‘generally regarded as safe’ and many are used as food flavorings and additives, though check the label.

Did you know that the American government does not require health studies or pre-market testing of the chemicals in personal care products, even though just about everyone is exposed to them? Many everyday products contain alarming amounts and combinations of these dangerously under regulated chemicals. Knowing this, I have replaced the many products that used to clutter my cabinets with just a few natural, non-toxic items. I have even started making my own beauty products and cleaners.  Part of this transition has been swapping chemically derived fragrances and cleaning agents for essential oils.

The methods by which oils are processed affects their potency and ability to deliver on their indications. Although Europe tightly controls the standards on essential oils and who may administer them, the United States’ regulatory agencies have yet to put protocols in place to regulate these substances. Of greatest concern is the fact that some oils are adulterated, engineered or “extended” with the use of synthetic chemicals.  This is why it is important to use oils that have been extensively tested for purity and are therapeutic grade, such as Young Living Essential Oils.  Always look for organic, steam-distilled or peel-pressure extraction, being aware that the solvent-extraction method usually involves unwanted chemicals.

If you would like to learn more about the uses and research on essential oils, I recommend the book, Essential Oils Desk Reference, compiled by Essential Science Publishing.

To find out more about the chemicals in your personal care products, please visit Environmental Working Group’s Cosmetic Safety Database

Rock The Harvest!

by Christine Taylor, Certified Holistic Health Counselor and YCT! Volunteer


Take advantage of what’s in season by gobbling up carrots, squash, sweet potatoes and other gorgeous orange and yellow Autumn produce!  Did you know that the substances that create color in plants are actually phytochemicals that nourish your body, build your immunity and fight disease?

Orange, yellow and red veggies and fruits are rich in a whole bunch of nutrients–the frontrunner being beta-carotene, a chemical that your body converts to Vitamin A.  These foods are nutritional powerhouses that protect your cells from damage, strengthen your immune system and support your liver, eyes and bones.  Remember, supplements can be OK under a doctor’s supervision, but nutrients are best when they come from FOOD.  This is because nutrients in their natural state are always in proper amounts and in a form that your body knows how to use.

These delicious, deeply-hued Autumn veggies and fruits are in season NOW.  So, why should you care about seasonal eating anyway?

Eating in natural rythm with the Earth is a principle of Ayruveda. It helps to keep your mind and body grounded and balanced, thus keeping you strong and healthy. Eating seasonally provides you with the most low-cost, nutrient dense, freshest and most delicious produce there is.  Right now, you can go to a farmers’ market and get the best locally grown carrots, sweet potatoes, parsnips and squash you’ve ever tasted.  That’s great for you and great for the environment.

Here’s a seasonal eating guide for your information.  Enjoy!

Seasonal Food Chart for New York State


The Heroes and Villains of Dietary Fats

By Jessica Breen, Certified Holistic Health Counselor and YCT! volunteer

As a whip-smart survivor, you know that blindly “avoiding fat for good health” is so 1980’s. Good fats are an essential part of our diet, aiding detoxification, promoting circulation and nurturing the immune system. But with the public health renaissance of the last five years or so making nutrition information more popular and accessible than ever, it’s understandable if you’re a bit confused as to what the bottom line is when it comes to incorporating fat into a healthy diet.

Here’s the deal: all fats are composed of hydrogen, oxygen and carbon. It is how these molecules are arranged that determines the fat’s properties and health effects.  How “saturated” a fat is depends upon how many of its carbon atoms have a hydrogen atom attached. Fats in which even one carbon atoms is without a hydrogen friend are considered “unsaturated.” Check it out:

GREEN LIGHT: Monounsaturated Fats (Omega-3) and Uncooked Polyunsaturated Fats (Omega-6)

The science: Mono fats contain one double bond — this means that one of its carbon atoms is without a hydrogen friend.  Poly fats contain more than one double bond.

Found in:  Omega-3 mono fats are found in avocados, olives/olive oil, spirulina, flax seed, hemp seeds, salmon, tuna, mackerel and more.  Omega-6 poly fats are found in vegetable oils such as almond, hazelnut, walnut, soybean, sunflower, sesame, olive, canola, borage, flax, mustard, pumpkin and evening primrose. **When buying oil, make sure the bottle is opaque — oils are photosensitive and create free radicals when exposed to light.

The benefits:Mono fats are loaded with Omega-3 essential fatty acids (called “essential” because our body can’t produce these nutrients on its own, so make sure you eat up!).  Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve heard about the crazy powers of Omega-3. Most of its benefits can be attributed to its ability to reduce inflammation (the underlying condition of all chronic disease), which reduces disease risk and boosts the immune system, mental ability, mood, skin and hair health, and so much more. **Note that the jury is still out on whether cooking mono fats creates free radicals, as it does with poly fats. One thing’s for sure — cooking anything at high heat destroys its micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants) so opt for simmering when you can.

Uncooked poly fats are loaded with Omega-6 essential fatty acids. Omega-6 provides many of the same benefits as its show-off cousin Omega-3 (and is equally essential), but its effects are often overshadowed by its ability to harm the body once cooked at high heat (see “yellow light” below).

YELLOW LIGHT: Saturated Fats and Cooked Polyunsaturated Fats

The science: Saturated fats are those in which all of the carbon atoms have hydrogen friends (meaning no double bonds). Cooked poly fats, on other hand, are formerly friendly poly fats that has become rancid due to the oxidative stress produced by high heat.

Found in: Saturated fats are found mainly in animal foods such as meat, dairy and eggs (make sure you choose high-quality, minimally processed animal foods, preferably organic — buy the best you can afford, and eat sparingly). The best source of saturated fat is coconut oil, which is excellent for cooking and can easily replace butter.

Cooked polyunsaturated fats are found in any item that’s been cooked using vegetable oil (think fried foods, chips, etc).

The bottom line: The body needs a certain amount of saturated fat so enjoy in moderation, but I don’t have to tell you to avoid consuming high amounts of cholesterol-laden, artery-clogging animal foods, right?

**As for cooked poly fat, the key here is all about maintaining a balanced ratio of Omega-3 to cooked Omega-6.  American diets typically contains a ratio of 6:1, meaning 6x more cooked poly fats than mono fats — not good, as there is not enough soothing Omega-3 to combat the inflammation created by the cooked Omega-6. In other words, a bit of cooked polys is okay as long as your diet includes lots of omega-3 rich mono fats. Make sense?

RED LIGHT: Trans/Hydrogenated Fats

The science: Trans fat are those that have double bonds on both sides of the carbon chain — the process of hydrogenation basically forces those carbon atoms without a hydrogen friend to take one on, creating a synthetic, fully-saturated fat. While there is a tiny amount of trans fat occurring naturally in animal foods, this is not the kind nutritionists are worried about. The trans fat we’re talking about is industrially-manufactured “fake fat” that the body can barely recognize as food.

The DANGERS: Trans/hydrogenated fats are extremely toxic to the body. One of the roles fat plays in our body is to facilitate the transport and absorption of nutrients into cellular walls — what trans fat does instead is harden those cell walls over time. This keeps nutrients out and toxins in, creating a body that’s ripe for disease.

Found in: Processed junk foods, prepared meals, some restaurant meals, etc — look out for yourself and always read labels. **The USDA permits manufacturers to market products with .5 grams or less of trans fat as being “trans-fat free.” This is why you’ll sometimes see “trans fat free” products that still contain hydrogenated oils.  Trust the ingredient list, not the marketing!


Rice bran oil, extracted from the germ of rice, has the perfect ratio of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. It is extremely stable and thus excellent for cooking — even when heated at frying temperatures, its strong antioxidant properties are not lost! The health benefits of rice bran oil are widely documented, ranging from lowering cholesterol, combating menopause symptoms, easing indigestion and aiding weight loss. Use rice bran oil in your next veggie stir fry for a delicious antioxidant boost!

InnerThrive! Alert: Breast Cancer and Animal Protein: Understanding the Risks

You may have heard that breast cancer survivors should avoid meat and dairy but asked yourself, Why?  And, to what extent? Explore some of the major health risks associated with animal protein below, based on T. Colin Campbell’s widely read and highly regarded The China Study. Then, have fun experimenting with plant-based sources of protein, calcium and iron, and get thriving!

The Estrogen Effect: Animal Protein Increases Exposure to Female Hormones
We know that increased amounts of estrogen and progesterone raise breast cancer risk. What you may not have known is that studies show women who consume a diet full of animal foods and lacking in whole plant foods reach puberty earlier and menopause later, increasing their lifetime exposure to female reproductive hormones [1]. Throughout a woman’s life, in fact, dietary factors play a large role in female hormone levels. According to the China Study (the most comprehensive study on nutrition ever conducted), lifetime exposure to estrogen is at least 2.5-3.0 times higher among Western women than rural Chinese women and this is highly correlated with typical Western diets that are high in fat and animal protein and low in fiber [2]. What does “2.5-3.0 times higher” actually mean? Comparing an additional two studies on the topic gives this finding some context: One study found a 17% decrease in estrogen levels could make a huge difference in breast cancer rates [3]. while another found that several female hormones were lowered by a whopping 20-30% (even 50% for progesterone!) simply by having 8-to-10-year-old girls consume a diet low in fat and animal foods [4]. In other words, levels of dietary animal protein can have a significant impact on female hormone levels, and thus, breast cancer risk.

The PAH Effect: Animal Protein Gives Fuel to Environmental Toxins
There’s a lot of buzz these days over Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons, or PAHs. These chemicals, found in environmental pollutants such as factory smoke stacks, auto exhaust, petroleum tar products and tobacco smoke, are commonly thought to be significant causes of breast [5] and other cancers, and in one study were shown to adversely affect the BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 genes of lab-grown breast cancer cells [6]. When PAHs are metabolized, they produce intermediate products that react with DNA to form adducts — the first step in causing cancer. Just like with other carcinogens, the rate at which PAHs are metabolized into adducts is very much impacted by our nutrition, with a diet heavy in animal foods accelerating the process [7].

Choosing Foods that Help us Thrive
In addition to these factors, a diet full of animal foods frequently means a body full of saturated fat and cholesterol and lacking in fiber — not a good combination for those who want to thrive. Crowd out the bad stuff by gradually incorporating legumes, whole grains and nuts for protein, and leafy green veggies for calcium and iron. Check out these easy tips:

  • Go green: Use spinach or kale (also great cooked!) in your salads. Both leafy greens are packed with a form of calcium that’s more easily absorbed by the body than that found in cow’s milk, not to mention iron and a host of phytonutrients. Other calcium-rich plant foods include broccoli, bok choy, okra, sesame seeds, tofu (make sure it’s non-GMO!), almonds and more. Check out this website from the Vegetarian Resource Group for a complete list of plant-based calcium sources: http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/calcium.htm#table1
  • Get a little nutty: Munch on nuts throughout the day to stay energized — they’re full of protein, good fats and antioxidants. Also try tossing your favorite nuts into cereal or salads, or spreading almond butter on whole-grain crackers.
  • Make sure those grains are whole: Whole grains, renowned for their fiber, are often overlooked as easy sources of protein. Quinoa steals the show as it contains all the essential amino acids, while whole-grain pasta, bread and cereals are also fiber-rich, low-fat protein sources.
  • Beans, beans they’re good for…a whole lot! Beans are nutritional superstars, chock full of protein, fiber and antioxidants and low in fat. Add beans to your next spinach or kale salad, or enjoy classic combinations like brown rice with black, pinto or kidney beans, or quinoa or couscous with chickpeas, and then mix it up — the possibilities are endless. Add flavor with olive oil and your favorite antioxidant-rich spices, and don’t forgot to toss some veggies in.
  • Check the internet: There are tons of easy, free plant-based recipes that’ll keep you thriving.

By Jessica Breen, Certified Holistic Health Counselor and YCT! volunteer

[1] Campbell, Colin T. The China Study. BenBella Books, Dallas: 2006, p. 160.
[2] Campbell, p.160-161
[3] Prentice R, et al. “Dietary Fat reduction and plasma estradiol concentration in healthy postmenopausal women.” J. Natl. Cancer Inst. 82 (1990): 129-134 as qtd in Campbell 161.
[4] Dorgan JF, et al. “Diet and sex hormones in girls: findings from a randomized controlled clinical trial.” J. Nat. Cancer Inst. 95 (2003): 132-141 as qtd. in Campbell 164.
[5] Ronai Z, et al. “Contrasting incidence of rat mutations in rat mammary and mouse skin tumors induced by anti-benzophenanthrene-3,4-idol-1,2-epoxide.” Carcinogenesis 15 (1994): 2113-2116 as qtd in Campbell 165.
[6] Jeffy BD, et al. “Inhibition of BRCA-1 expression by benzopyrene and diol expoxide.” Mol. Carcinogenesis 26 (1999): 100-118 as qtd. in Campbell 165.
[7] Campbell 166, and see generally 43-69.


2 Responses

  1. Amazing. Thank you for this! My mother’s, oncologist just told her to quot animal proteins so this is a great resource for her. I’ll past it on!

  2. What a helpful distillation of Campbell’s study. It makes it easier to take steps toward eating better and living more healthfully. Thank you! I’m sending copies to my friends.

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