One of my favorite nutritionists is Dee McCaffrey. She is a local person, if you live in the Phoenix area. She often speaks at Sprouts stores, so if you have one near you, check out their calendar of events and chances are you’d have a chance to meet her. Anyway, she has two great books out with recipes in them that are healthy and yummy! This is one of my favorites. It is different but in a very pleasant way, and tastes wonderful. There are so many different flavors and they blend together so well. Try it sometime! It’s easy to make, too!

Southwestern Sweet Potato Wraps

Makes: 6 burritos


1/2 tablespoon unrefined coconut oil

1/2 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cans (15 ounce) red kidney beans (preferably organic), drained and rinsed

1 cup water

1  1/2 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons yellow mustard

1 pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste

1  1/2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce or reduced-sodium wheat-free tamari sauce

1  1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, baked and then peeled and mashed

6 (10-inch) whole-wheat tortillas or whole spelt tortillas, warmed

4 ounces cheddar cheese (preferably organic), shredded, about 1 cup


Preheat oven to 350F. Place whole sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until soft through the center. Remove from oven but leave the oven on for warming the burritos.

Allow sweet potatoes to cool, then cut open and scrape out all of the inside part of the potatoes and place them in a bowl. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher. They can still be slightly lumpy. Set aside.

Heat coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft. Stir in the beans, and mash them with a masher. Gradually stir in the water, and heat until warm. Remove from heat, and stir in the chili powder, cumin, mustard, cayenne pepper, and soy sauce or tamari sauce.

Warm tortillas by placing them in a dry skillet over medium heat. When the tortilla is warm to the touch, remove from the skillet and lay the tortilla on a flat surface, such as a cutting board or a plate. Add equal amounts of the bean mixture and the mashed sweet potatoes down the center of each tortilla. Top with cheese. Roll up the tortilla burrito style, and place burrito on a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining tortillas. Bake the burritos for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven, just enough to lightly brown the tops of the tortillas. Serve immediately.

Recipe reprinted with permission from  Plan-D: The Amazing Anti-Diet That Will Change Your Life Forever by Dee McCaffrey, CDC. © 2009 Center for Processed-Free Living,

A friend of mine was doing research for a legal matter-she is a lawyer. She needed information regarding a chemical used in packaging for cat food. During her research, she was gathering information about an additive called propylene glycol. I have been on a soapbox for a while against propylene glycol, since I heard that it is a main ingredient in antifreeze. Well, my lawyer friend found new information—propylene glycol is BANNED from cat food! It’s not from human food, though! Propylene glycol is a solvent and a stabilizer, so it is used in many foods to lengthen their shelf life. This helps increase the profit margin for food companies. Please make a difference and don’t buy products with this ingredient. I’m sorry that food products may spoil faster without propylene glycol, or not be as evenly consistent as far as texture or ingredients, but is that so bad? We should be doing better as far as buying more natural foods, which do spoil. It is so much healthier, and probably lowers our risk of cancers! Please read ingredient labels to see if propylene glycol is in the food items you buy, and put them back if it is listed as an ingredient. Thanks for helping make our food options healthier!

My boyfriend and I decided to try a new restaurant in Scottsdale this past Saturday night called Nourish. I have been so excited to try it–my friend Jay from Foodies Like Us said it has a lot of vegetarian options. Jay said that he normally isn’t excited about vegetarian dishes but this one has options even he was wanting to try. Alex (my boyfriend) and I got there around 6:30 or 7 pm, and we were seated right away, but the hostess seemed shocked that she had a table available without a reservation, so it’s probably better to have one on a Saturday night. We both decided to have a glass of wine (wine is healthy in my book, in moderation). I had the Kung Fu Girl riesling, and it was the best riesling I think I’ve ever had. We ordered appetizers and did the tapas plate, which is where you choose four options out of their appetizer menu. We loved all of them, but the surprise hit was the Bean and Quinoa salad. It didn’t sound that great, looked sort of unusual, but wow was it great! So many interesting flavors! Our very close second favorite was the avocado and sweet potato salad. Also very flavorful but light and perfect on a hot summer night. The “healthy mac and cheese” was our third favorite. It was healthier than I thought, since it definitely had lots of veggies in it. It was enjoyable as a “mac and cheese” and would satisfy a craving for it, in my opinion, but then, I don’t have cravings for mac and cheese. Our fourth ranking in order of favorites on the tapas appetizer plate was the hummus. It was good but not as exceptional as the other three, or really the first two. Alex and I were discussing how interesting it was that we ranked them all the same. I think the tapas plate was $10.

   For dinner, I had a “burger” that was made of sweet potatoes and almonds.. and a few other things that I admit I don’t remember what they were. I opted to switch the standard side dish (sweet potato fries that are made by air baking and not cooked in any oil) for the fruit salad, which the description had said something like fruit with a “remarkably” good mint dressing. The side dish options were really great options–the mac and cheese from the appetizers was another I could have chosen, and the sweet potato fries sounded healthy (and good) enough, but I wanted to try something different since my “burger” had sweet potato in it, as well as one of the appetizer dishes. My “burger” was really yummy! It was substantial without being heavy or greasy, and again had some interesting flavors that blended well together and was really enjoyable. The fruit salad was good, and I am usually not a fan of mint, except stuff like mint gum. Oh, I had asked the waitress if the vegetarian “burgers” are cooked on the same grill as the meat “burgers” or dishes and she said absolutely not, that they are very careful about cross-contamination with allergens or with vegetarian vs non-vegetarian items. That was nice to hear–I used to order veggie burgers at family-style restaurants that don’t have many options for vegetarians, but then I started thinking they are probably cooking my veggie burger in someone else’s meat burger fat (or “cooties” as I usually say kiddingly to Alex). Both of our meals I think were $10 each.

     Alex order a turkey meatloaf dish with a side of mashed sweet potatoes. He thought the meatloaf was fantastic, but the sweet potatoes were good but were flavored with ginger and he thought maybe there was just a bit too much ginger. We both took half of our meals home, so it was a lot of food after the tapas plate. And, I will confess that I was saving room to try some dessert. We had the strawberry nutella pie, which we also couldn’t come close to finishing. It was soooo yummy! I highly recommend that, though a bit more strawberry would make it even a little better in my opinion. It was a quinoa crust with nutella coating on it, then pieces of strawberry on top with a bit of shredded coconut sprinkled on it. So good! And, really, probably not even all that bad for you! Definitely would prefer my clients using this dessert to curb any cravings rather than Dairy Queen or Sonic or something god-awful like that. The berry pie was $6.

    So we definitely plan to go back! Even Alex said we are going back. We will plan ahead and try to make a reservation next time… although there is an outdoor patio which was not in use this past weekend–probably too hot for anyone. That will help them host more people. I highly recommend Nourish!  

   Oh, one more small point. Nourish is located on the bottom floor of the Optima condos on the west side of Scottsdale Road, north of Camelback, on the north side of Highland. We weren’t sure where to park. We just parked across the street at the Desert Stages Theatre and walked across Highland. I think maybe you are supposed to park right at the Optimas? I am not sure. We saw signs for valet parking but avoided those as we always do since we don’t want to pay extra for that. Maybe there is parking in a garage under the restaurant, but I’m not sure. You might want to investigate that before you go if walking across the street is an issue for anyone with you. If the theater had a show that night, there may not be any parking available, too. If you find out more info about the parking, post a comment!

Bladder Cancer Info

August 16, 2010

I have a friend who is a wonderful person. She was recently diagnosed with bladder cancer. She said she asked the doctor why he thought she got this disease, since she is so different from the “typical” patient. She is a healthy, active, thin framed person. The doctor, who was a specialist for bladder cancer, said that there are three things he has seen that increases people’s risk for developing this disease. The first was smoking, surprise surprise, but my friend isn’t a smoker. I have to confess I forgot what the second thing was. The third, the doctor said, is dry cleaning. People who wear dry-cleaned clothes seem to have an increased risk for developing bladder cancer. My friend said that is it! She wore freshly dry-cleaned clothes every day for at least ten years as a part of her job. I have been using an organic dry cleaner for about a year now, and now I am really glad that I do so! Of course, I wear fitness clothes almost every day year-round, so it is rare for me to have to dry clean my clothes anyway, but I will be sure to stick with the organic dry cleaners from now on. Does anyone know more about the organic dry cleaning process? Is it truly “organic” and “green” and “non-toxic”? Even without being 100% sure they are all they are promising, I will use the organic cleaners for dry cleaning. If it turns out that they are toxic too, then I will not wear or purchase clothes that need to by dry cleaned. Any comments?

I have two VIP tickets that are for $1 admission and free parking to the Home & Garden Show at the University of Phoenix Stadium on August 6-8th, 2010. They are free to the first person to ask for them! Send me your address so I can mail them to you from my website, I promise I will never use your address for any other purpose. Enjoy the expo!

New Website!

July 23, 2010

To those of you who know me and have visited my website (, please take a minute to visit my new website! The old one has crashed and I have had to let it go. I am taking it as a blessing in disguise, though, and it is turning out to be a good thing. I needed some updating anyway! Plus, I can make it even better now (I hope!). I am doing it myself so it is taking a little time but there are a couple of pages now, and I hope they reflect the new message I want to send. Also, on an even more exciting note, at least in my humble opinion, I have started a new website to market my wonderful teammates who help me cover the whole valley and help people valley-wide who want to feel great and look great! Please check that out, too, when you have a minute! It’s It also is just started and still needs lots of work, but there is a basic framework there right now. Thanks so much for visiting the site(s)! Please let me know if you have any comments or constructive criticism for me. Email me thru either website if you’d like, or here. Thanks again! First person to do so (whether I know you or not) will win a gift basket of home-spa products for a relaxing time in your home. Bath products, scented candles, etc, are included in this gift package donated by Henkel (formerly Dial).

I have been wanting to add more testimonials, before and after pictures, etc, to my marketing materials (like brochures and my website). So, I thought, what better way to get the word out about me but by offering FREE personal training! I do in-home (or in-office, or in your apartment or condo fitness center) personal training for all shapes, abilities, and goals. I am looking for some specific types of clients to give testimonials to show the wide variety of people that myself and my trainer-partners can work with (and deliver amazing results). I will offer a reduced rate on personal training in exchange for testimonials and before and after pictures. But, I am offering FREE personal training to any clients matching my “wish list” who not only gives testimonials and before and after pictures, but also pays it forward–meaning, you do something good for someone else, and I will completely eliminate fees for in-home training for a period of time. The time period will depend on how great their contribution to someone else is. For example, if  a potential client adopts a pet from a shelter, that pet is helped for the rest of its life. So, the payback in free training will be longer… perhaps three months time (depends on person’s location, etc). Keep in mind that my fees for in-home personal training are already incredibly low compared with gyms or other trainers—I charge only $45 per one-hour session for most locations in the Phoenix metro area. So, even if you are not wanting to pay it forward–even the reduced rate for testimonials or before and after pictures makes training in your home incredibly affordable!

      So what is my “wish list” of people I would like to extend this offer to?

1. A lady in her 80s or 90s

2. A young lady in her 20s or 30s who wants “butt-kicking” or “boot-camp” kinds of workouts

3. A person with orthopedic problems, any age, man or woman

4. A person, man or woman, any age, who wants to lose over 100lbs

Do you know anybody who fits any of these descriptions? If so, please let them know about my huge deal! Or, if you fit one of them, please contact me immediately–it’s a first-come, first-served deal! Contact me at

I like to say that because I have a bunch of experience and education in the Exercise Science field (sorry if that sounds like I’m bragging), that I don’t need to use drill-sargent like techniques to get people to get results. Instead, I just choose the most effective exercises and methods of training, and keep the workout atmosphere fun! That way, people are more likely to actually want to exercise! There is a new event coming to the Phoenix area that I think captures this same attitude. It is called the Women’s Half-Marathon, and it takes place on Sunday, November 7th in Scottsdale and Tempe. It sounds like it actually could be fun! They give you a unique medal at the end that has a charm as a separate piece, so you can wear the charm by itself. Plus there’s a cookie bar at the end! You deserve a darn cookie after you’ve walked a half-marathon! Yes, I will be eating a cookie, ok maybe even two, at the end! I will be walking this event, by the way, not running it.

I am putting together a walking program to help prepare whoever wants to join me for this event. I am hoping you will come join! You don’t have to commit to the half-marathon to join the walking group; anyone can come walk and enjoy meeting a few really nice ladies (I think I can count on three ladies joining me, and they are super nice!). I am still working on the details of this walking program. Since it is hot outside, I may try to get Scottsdale Community College to let us use their indoor walking track. Check back soon for details!

My boyfriend and I went out for dinner last Saturday evening. We wanted to be mostly good, meaning, staying within the boundaries of acceptably healthy without being strict. We had seen a sign for Vietnamese cuisine in a little strip mall maybe a week or two earlier, and thought we should try it out some day. Neither of us had tried Vietnamese food before, though, so weren’t really sure what it was. So, last Saturday night, we walked up to it and looked at the menu posted outside to see if it would have something for me to eat (since I’m veg that can be tricky occasionally but not often). The menu looked ok, so we went in.

Wow, were we impressed! The food was GREAT! It was inexpensive, too, which is something we are definitely looking for these days. I had a veggie curry dish, and it was so good! There was some fresh basil leaves sprinkled on top of my dish, which initially I pushed off to the side since basil belongs in Italian food, I thought. I do love basil, though, so at one point I pulled off a little corner of a leaf and put it on a forkful. Oh, my gosh, could my meal actually get better?! That made it excellent!

We also had the veggie dumplings to start as an appetizer, which the menu had said come fried, but I asked them if it was possible to make them not oily, and the waiter said he could bring them steamed. They were also very yummy.

So, overall, I think Vietnamese cuisine is sort of like a mix of Thai food and Chinese, so think Asian fusion. We will definitely go back to Noodles Ranch. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but definitely is a pleasant surprise inside! Look for it in the ACE Hardware/Albertson’s shopping center on the corner of Scottsdale Roads and Thomas.

I happen to be vegetarian, but don’t tell others that they need to be. I respect other people’s wishes as I hope they will respect mine. I am a lacto-ovo vegetarian (I eat dairy and eggs). I don’t eat anything made with chicken broth or cooked on the same grill as meats. Nor will I eat a salad after picking off the chicken –I’d just rather skip it and wait till I get home. I do in general think Americans eat too much meat (read “The Blue Zones” by Dan Buettner–great, fun read) but not enough fish (although I don’t eat fish myself). I had some great meals this past weekend at different restaurants around the Phoenix area, so I thought I’d let others know if they are looking for some great vegetarian options.

First, Friday night my boyfriend and I went out for our first time to a relatively new restaurant in Old Town Scottsdale. It’s called 5th and Wine. We live pretty close to Old Town, so that was convenient for us, and it was highly recommended by Jay and Susie of, both friends of mine (check out their great events! Not really designed for vegetarians, but they do great work!). We started with the bruschetta appetizer, and had two vegetarian options, the apple with brie and agave drizzle, and the roasted peppers with goat cheese. Both were great. The apple one was so sweet I was considering saving a piece for dessert! Not too icky sweet, though. Then, I had the caprese panini for my main course. It was absolutely to die for! Even my boyfriend who normally choses meat dishes said he will chose the caprese panini too next time, and that we have to go back sometime to have it again! It was fabulous. Great wine with our meals too. The only negative thing I could say is that it’s a little loud in the restaurant, so probably don’t bring someone hard of hearing. But fun atmosphere, good service, and lots of space both indoors and outdoors to sit. And decently low prices–my panini was $10.95.

Then, Saturday night, we had tickets to the ASU baseball game, so we stopped at a little restaurant in Tempe on the way for dinner. My boyfriend and his dad like this Middle Eastern restaurant called Haji Baba and have been many times. I have been a couple of times. I tried something new, and was glad I did. I had a Greek salad and an order of an appetizer that I can’t seem to remember the name. I know the first word was “foul” which seemed like an odd word to use for a food item in the US! I am sure that means something else in a different language. Anyway, I liked the foul appetizer. I would definitely order that again. It is basically fava beans in a sauce, and comes with pita bread to eat it with. Next time, I will probably order the same things, but ask for the dressing on the side for the salad–came with just a little too much for me–and then make pita wraps or something with the beans and the salad contents. Might look weird but I was thinking that would be great. Also very inexpensive; I think the fava beans were about $2.99 or something.

Then, on Sunday evening, we met friends out to eat before they all scatter for the summer. It is so unusual for my boyfriend and I to eat out three nights in a row! We went to Rockbottom at Desert Ridge. This is an example of eating vegetarian, and even healthy, can actually happen in an American-style restaurant! I had a new appetizer that they just added to their menu. It was a spicy hummus and came with lots of carrots, snow peas, and something they called Tuscan bread to dip. The plate was big, and I was happy that it was plenty for me for dinner even though it was off the appetizer menu. I like carrots and snow peas and they went well with the hummus. It wasn’t incredible, but definitely enjoyable and certainly healthy! I passed on the Tuscan bread. Not so yummy, sorry, Rockbottom!

So that was my fun weekend with the love of my life, family, and friends. I am such a lucky girl! I hope to help other vegetarians in Phoenix find some good places to eat. Enjoy!