Why Functional Nutrition? | February 15, 2023

During those long days of COVID lockdown that turned into weeks, then months, and eventually altered our normal routines for years, a friend introduced me to the perspective of functional nutrition. She did so from the view we had of what was going on around us. It was clear during those years that there was a discrepancy between who and who was not affected by COVID.  The large majority of those with the most severe symptoms had some type of underlying autoimmune or inflammatory disorder such as diabetes, asthma or obesity.  Would the outcome have been different had we better understood the correlation? 

My friend and I had eight high school and college age kids between us at the time, who were not to be tamed by the unsocial lifestyle we were supposed to adhere to.  Our families were constantly exposed to the virus, and we seemed to be immune to it. Those in our families who eventually contracted the virus didn’t experience the severe symptoms that so many others did.  Why was this? Also, could those who contracted the virus, yet appeared to be perfectly healthy, have underlying conditions? In many estimations, the answer is yes!  So many of us are walking around with autoimmune disorders, yet unaware we have them! I have already seen this in the infancy of my functional nutrition practice. 

Previously, I was just a hobby health enthusiast with a master’s degree in exercise science.  For the most part, I used that degree for my own training purposes, but I loved the science behind it. After reading the views of so many functional practitioners, my friend wanted me to look into Andrea Nakayama’s Full Body Systems Functional Nutrition certification course. I dove in, not knowing exactly what I was getting into.  At some point during the 10-month intensive training, I realized that if I am going to ask others to limit their diet, I was going to have to do it myself. Even though I felt that I already had a relatively clean diet, I cut out most gluten, dairy and refined sugars, which are the most noxious and inflammatory foods. The astonishing result, which I was not expecting, was the reduction of medications necessary to treat existing symptoms such as anxiety and reflux.  I was not expecting that result, but I was able to see firsthand how real the gut brain connection really is!  Even our brain is affected by what we are consuming and exposed to.  The studies are very clear on this.   

Looking at our health in a functional way requires looking at the root causes of the health conditions that we are experiencing and honoring our bio-individuality.  It is investigating how the environment and our nutrition is affecting our health. We are exposed to more toxins and experience more cell damage and nutritional depletion through farm practices and food processing than we ever have in the history of our country.  Electromagnetic field exposure can be figured in as well, and it is necessary to do things differently than we have in the past. Our medical professionals are the best, but they can’t continue to make strides to improve the health of our country if we don’t take responsibility in our own daily lives as well.

My goal is to have this conversation with physicians and clients to develop an overall approach to providing better health.  One that includes the expertise and knowledge of our medical community, combined with a functional nutrition approach.  The overall goal being to develop a proactive way to prevent negative health outcomes.  In turn, reducing the medications taken by patients, and lowering the overall health cost to these individuals.  These conversations are already taking place in other parts of our country, and I feel confident that we can do the same here.


Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies | February 8, 2023

I had someone ask me not long ago if she could be gluten free and still enjoy making cookies with her grandchildren. The answer was YES! I have tried many different chocolate chip cookie recipes and @paleorunningmamma has the best! Here is the recipe:


Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies by Michele Rosen

1/3 cup creamy almond butter or cashew butter

1/3 refined coconut oil melted and cooled

¾ cup pure maple sugar or coconut sugar (I use coconut!)

1 egg at room temperature

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

¾ cup blanched almond flour

½ cup tapioca flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

1 cup dark chocolate chips (Hu Kitchen and Evolve chocolate are dairy and soy free. I use Ghirardelli 72% cacao dark chocolate.)

Preheat oven to 350 and line baking sheet with parchment paper.  In large bowl, add nut butter, coconut oil, maple syrup, egg, and vanilla.  Use an electric mixer and beat until creamy. In the same bowl, add the almond and tapioca flours, baking soda and salt. Stir or blend with mixer until a dough forms. Then stir in chocolate chips. 

Scoop about 1 ½ tbsp of dough and arrange on parchment about 2 inches apart. Press down on them gently to flatten. Bake for 10 minutes.  Let cool for 5 minutes. Enjoy!

Autism and Free Glutamate (MSG) | January 25, 2023

Dr. Katherine Reid, PhD, and her work pinpointing the affect of free glutamate (MSG) and the affects that is has on autism is groundbreaking and can be life changing for those dealing with this disorder. If you are not aware of her work, visit for more info. She demonstrates how much diet has a profound affect on the brain. By reducing gluten, found in wheat, rye and barley, and casein, found in dairy, we reduce our free glutamate load. Organic, whole food smoothies can be powerful to get sufficient nutrients and can be a great gluten/casein free option. Try “Harley’s Favorite Smoothie” in Vani Hari’s Food Babe Kitchen @foodbabemama:

Harley’s Favorite Smoothie

3 cups kale, spinach, or romaine lettuce

1 frozen banana

I cup frozen pineapple

1 cup frozen mango

4 tbsp almond butter

2-inch piece fresh ginger root, chopped

8 oz. water

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Fats | January 13, 2023

Are all fats bad? Absolutely NOT! Dietary fat is an important macronutrient that is vital for human health. Yes, I said it! We all need dietary fat for good health. Consider this:

  • Fats are the building blocks for hormones.
  • They help with satiety which helps maintain balanced blood sugar.
  • Fats are carriers and contain necessary fat-soluble vitamins (A,D,E, & K).
  • Fats help feed good bacteria in our colon.
  • Medium chain fatty acids, such as coconut oil, are not stored as fat in the body, but create body heat and boost metabolism.
  • Essential fats, which come from chia, hemp, flax, and pumpkin seeds and fish, are critical for brain function.

Are all fats created equal? No, not even close! Choose fats from good sources and stay far away from hydrogenated and saturated fats. Here is one of my favorite ways to start my day with good saturated and essential fats.

Coconut Key Lime Chia Parfait

1 can full-fat coconut milk

1 tbsp + 1 tsp lime zest

1⁄4 cup chia seeds

1 tbsp pure maple syrup

1⁄2 tsp coconut sugar

1 tsp lime juice

In a small saucepan, bring coconut milk and 1 tablespoon lime zest to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Place chia seeds, maple syrup, coconut sugar, lime juice, and 1 tsp lime zest in a medium mason jar or other airtight container. Add the lime and coconut milk to the jar. Give it a good stir. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes and give it another stir. Cover, and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour. It is good in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

When ready to eat, stir and sprinkle with shredded unsweetened coconut, grain free granola, berries, or your favorite topping!

True Roots by Kristin Cavallari


Ginger Ale | October 30, 2022

A few weeks ago, I was having some gastrointestinal problems. Possibly it was because of the oysters that I had eaten the night before. As I was breaking out into a sweat, a friend asked if I wanted some ginger ale. My answer was no, maybe a little more affirmative than it should have been for, what was meant to be, a helpful gesture. Later, I was thinking about this and wondering why this was the soda commonly offered for an upset stomach, and then it occurred to me… GINGER! People! Ginger ale does not have ginger!

Canada Dry ginger ale consists of water, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, sodium benzoate, natural flavors, and caramel color! Nothing that helps an upset stomach! Ginger, on the other hand, has historically been used to soothe and relax the intestinal tract. Clinical studies have shown that ginger helps to prevent symptoms of motion sickness, even more than Dramamine. Ginger is also used to treat nausea and vomiting that is associated with pregnancy, and it helps with inflammation associated with arthritis. I have recently discovered Vani Hari’s recipe for Homemade Ginger Ale in Food Babe Kitchen, and I can’t get enough of it! If you are trying to incorporate ginger into your diet, this is a great way to do so, and it can also help you ditch the soda habit.

Homemade Ginger Ale

2-inch piece fresh ginger root, juiced

12-ounce sparkling water

1 squeeze fresh lemon

2 tablespoons raw honey or maple syrup

The Problem with Gluten | October 23, 2022

So many diet fads come and go. We have Keto, Paleo, Mediterranean, intermittent fasting, and the list goes on. The problem with diet plans, is they are not tailored to individual needs, and we are all so unique. However, do not categorize “gluten free” with just another fad. Here is the problem with gluten (wheat, barley and rye). Studies have shown that no human can digest wheat proteins into amino acids that we can easily absorb. The best we can do is break proteins down into the larger peptides which ultimately leads to inflammation.

The most common signs of gluten intolerance are diarrhea, bloating, fatigue, skin reactions, anxiety, depression, autoimmune disorders, joint pain and many others. Another reason to avoid wheat is because it was discovered in the 80’s by the NIH that wheat yields opioid peptides that stimulate appetite. Of course, big food and agribusiness caught onto this and the presence of wheat and grain in our foods drastically increased. If you would like to know more about the effects of gluten, The Autoimmune Fix by Dr. Tom O’Bryan is a great resource.

It may seem impossible to ditch the gluten, but there are so many gluten free resources on social media that can guide you. You can always toss veggies and a protein, such as chicken strips or shrimp, on a baking sheet and coat with avocado oil, sea salt, pepper, with Italian seasonings and roast it for 25-30 minutes, and have an incredible whole food, gluten free meal.

Real, whole foods are always better!

Blood Sugar Balance | September 27, 2022

According to Dr. Maggie Yu, Holistic and Functional Physician, blood sugar swings shut down liver detoxification, which leads to estrogen dominance, which leads to brain fog, anxiety, insomnia, etc. Blood sugar swings can also lead to leaky gut, porous bones, and exacerbates autoimmune. Obviously, blood sugar balancing is something we all need to be aware of. 

There are a few key steps to blood sugar balancing. The first is SLEEP!  Sleep is a time of healing and ridding the body of unused hormones.  EXERCISE!  Low intensity exercise with short bursts reduces blood sugar. STRESS also increases cortisol levels, which breaks down protein to use for energy.  That is a good thing if we are running from a bear. It is not good if we have everyday stresses, and our cortisol levels are continuously high.  And finally, EAT WHOLE FOODS!  Eating organic, whole foods reduces blood sugar.  Staying on the outer edges of the grocery store where the unpackaged foods are located are your very best options for keeping your blood sugar balanced.  Here is a great recipe from Mary Smith’s Quick Prep Paleo.

The Ultimate Thai Basil Curry

2 Tbsp coconut oil, divided

1 lb. fresh or frozen shrimp, deveined and tails removed

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 red bell pepper, sliced

2 cups broccoli florets

1 medium zucchini, cut into half-moon slices

½ tsp sea salt

1 tbsp red Thai curry paste

1 tsp curry powder

1 can full-fat coconut milk (stir before pouring)

1 tsp coconut aminos

¼ tsp fish sauce

¼ cup chopped basil

1 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice

cauliflower rice (optional)

1. Heat 1 tbsp of coconut oil over medium high heat. Add the shrimp and cook for 1 to 2 minutes on each side until they are no longer translucent. Transfer to a plate using a slotted spoon and set aside.

2. Heat the remaining coconut oil.  Add the garlic, red bell pepper, broccoli, zucchini, salt, Thai curry paste and curry powder. Stir for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the garlic and curry paste are fragrant. Add the coconut milk, coconut aminos and fish sauce. Stir and bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the veggies are tender but not mushy.  Add the cooked shrimp, basil, and lime juice. Serve with a squeeze of lime.  It is great over cauliflower rice!

Recipe from @maryswholelife

Smoothies | September 18, 2022

Our typical American diet is plagued with a lack of balance between Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.  Omega 6 fatty acids are more inflammatory, which we need sometimes, such as when we experience an injury.  The ratio between Omega 3 and Omega 6 should be close to 1:1 or even 2 ½:1, favoring the Omega 3s, but with the typical American diet it can be as high as 1:40 favoring the more inflammatory Omega 6!  

Smoothies are a great way to get in those Omega 3 fatty acids.  Anything, and I mean ANYTHING, can be hidden in a smoothie.  Avocados create a creamy texture. Flaxseed meal, spinach, kale, and chia seeds are also great options for added nutrients! Smoothies can be a great start to your day or an on-the-go lunch option.  I always enjoy a pumpkin smoothie this time of year.  If you aren’t a pumpkin fan, a baked sweet potato with the peel left on can be substituted. Get creative and enjoy!

Smoothie Recipe

1 banana (freeze if you have time)

½ cup pumpkin puree’

½ cup plain Greek yogurt

½ cup almond milk or non-dairy milk of choice

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla

1 tbsp Bob’s Red Mill Flaxseed Meal

1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I prefer Truvani)

A few ice cubes and 1/2 avocado if you want!

Blend and you are all set!

Apple Cinnamon Overnight Oats | September 6, 2022

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. Now that my 4 kids are older, I appreciate the quiet mornings and sitting down with a big breakfast and a cup of coffee. When I make a jar of overnight oats to put in the refrigerator for breakfast the next morning, I can’t wait to get to sleep so I can wake up to enjoy them. Oatmeal is a great way to add nutrients and start off your day with plenty of fiber.

This time of year, there is nothing better than the flavor of cinnamon and apples, so apple cinnamon overnight oats make the perfect breakfast. Also, they are great for increased gut integrity and have been shown to decrease C Reactive Protein levels, which is a marker for inflammation (Chun OK, Chung SJ, Claycombe KJ, Serum C Reactive Protein concentrations are inversely associated with dietary flavonoid intake in US adults. J Nutr. 2008 Apr:138). With fall quickly approaching, make a goal to add more apples into your diet!

Overnight Oats Recipe

1 small apple of choice chopped (leave some peel for extra fiber)

1 Tbsp maple syrup

Pinch of cinnamon

½ cup Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Organic Old Fashioned Rolled Oats

¾ cup unsweetened vanilla nut milk of choice

¼ cup plain Greek yogurt

1-2 Tbsp Maple Syrup

½ tsp vanilla

½ tsp cinnamon or apple pie spice

*Mix first 3 ingredients with a Tbsp of water and put it in the microwave for 1 minute. Set aside. Mix the rest of the ingredients in a large jar. Pour apple mixture in jar and shake. Put in the refrigerator to enjoy the next morning.

Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Meatballs | September 2, 2022

Football season is here!

When you walk into a grocery store this time of year, the typical tailgate food is front and center, piled with chips, rotel ingredients and all the high inflammatory foods that we expect to see at our tailgates down here in the SEC.  Finding a healthier alternative to the enticing southern traditional food is always a struggle. offers many great options, but the “Whole 30 Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Meatballs” served with’s “Whole 30 Ranch Dressing” is hard to beat. It is an easy grab and go tailgate alternative that is gluten and dairy free, Paleo and Keto! Balance it out with a side of celery sticks and carrots and you have a perfect addition to your tailgate.

Have a great weekend cheering for your favorite team!