Don’t be average. Avoid the holiday weight gain!

Some friends and I plan to do the following 7-day cleanse next week (first week of December). This is an effort to feel good after Thanksgiving and get rid of all sugar cravings before Christmas. Though I will surely partake in some alcoholic beverages over the holidays and my hand will probably get caught in the cookie jar once or twice – my hope is that this will prevent a downward spiral of over-eating that seems to gain speed exponentially. We all know that it is easy to gain weight during the holidays. The average American gains one pound over the holidays and never loses it. This is how we slowly go from being fit to being fat. So don’t be average!

Our health is largely determined by the choices we make. “If it is to be, it’s up to me!” The Fresh Start™  Cleansing Program was developed by the one and only, Nedra Sahr, MS, CNS (licensed clinical nutritionist). Nedra introduced my parents to Shaklee and helped them lose their excess weight about 11 years ago. The Shaklee Cinch program was the first weight loss program that enabled my parents to maintain fitness. They both were yo-yo dieters for 30 years.

Fresh Start™ is not for sale, it is meant to be shared freely. Please try the program and pass it on. We encourage you to share this program with your friends, family and clients. If each of us would pass this forward to three people, just think of the health benefits that would begin to change people’s lives.

The Fresh Start™  Cleansing Protocol
Our bodies are exposed to a large number of foreign chemicals everyday. The majority are man made chemicals that wind up in our food, air, and water, or are taken in the form of drugs. Whether it’s pesticides and insecticides lingering on our produce, preservatives in our meats and deli products, anti-biotics and estrogens given to our cows and chickens to promote more rapid weight gain; each brings a level of chemical load on our liver, kidneys, skin and colon that is becoming increasingly difficult to process. Our body’s ability to rid itself of toxic substances is largely dependent upon the liver. Think of your liver as your body’s sewage waste treatment system. The liver filters and neutralizes every substance that passes through it. When the liver becomes overburdened, the liver enzymes fail to break down the toxins, they then become stored in the liver and fatty tissues throughout the body. The more fat on the body, the greater the toxic load. Overexposure to environmental toxins in the air, cleaning products used in our homes, work places or schools, along with chemical additives in our foods can put great strain on the liver’s detoxification systems and rob us of our health. This toxic build up can produce a wide variety of symptoms such as allergies, acne, arthritis, constipation, boating and gas, depression, low energy, outright fatigue, brain fog or mental confusion, eczema, headaches, sleeplessness, inflammation, muscle aches, joint paint, or cravings for sugar, alcohol and tobacco. The more toxic our bodies become, the more difficulty we will have losing weight.

Although cleansing is important for healthy people it is essential for those who are overweight or who do not feel as healthy as they’d like. People have always been exposed to toxins but today’s exposure to contaminants is not only greater than ever before but the risk is increasing. There are over 7 million recognized chemicals; of that number over 100,000 are commonly used with 1000-2000 new chemicals being produced each year. Safety tests are minimal to non-existent. There is a clear link between rising levels of obesity and chemical exposure.

What can you expect from the cleansing program?
– It jump starts a sensible weight loss plan by cleansing the liver
– Helps to overcome cravings and addictions to sugar, caffeine, fats, etc.
– Heightens sense of smell, sight, touch, sound, taste
– Balances and regulates hormones
– Re-aligns true appetite and satiety levels
– Boosts metabolism and enhances digestion
– Brings radiance to the eyes and skin
– Increases focus, clarity, and energy

A good cleansing program must meet specific criteria:  It needs to work with your life and your values, it must be effective and it must act as the foundation for better health. Fresh Start™ is  structured yet simple, it can be followed anywhere, and  it begins to produce observable benefits within three days. Seven days is the recommended length of the program but if that is too challenging, do it for as long as possible.

Your program will consist of eating fresh raw fruits and fresh raw vegetables in unlimited quantities. By eating fresh raw fruits and vegetables and drinking pure fresh water and herb teas, you’ll find that you will break the cycle of over eating. You’ll smash addictions to fatty foods, refined carbohydrates, (sugary treats, and white bread products) caffeinated and carbonated drinks. Science shows that when a person eats more than 52% of raw foods in his/her diet, cravings drop for sugar, tobacco and alcohol. The toxic load on your liver and kidneys will be substantially reduced giving them time to repair and rejuvenate. Your colon will be cleansed and repopulated with beneficial microflora.

Those with Diabetes or Hypoglycemia, (low blood sugar) will need to have a protein source at each meal. Breakfast:  Add 2 poached or boiled eggs to the fruit servings.  No additional fruit during the day. Snack on unlimited amounts of fresh raw vegetables throughout the day. This is important. Lunch:  4 ounces of grilled chicken without coating, added to a large green salad. Choose a low-fat salad dressing Snack on fresh raw vegetables. Choose a minimum of  2 cups between lunch and dinner. Dinner:  Have a generous serving of grilled, baked or poached fish or shellfish without coatings. Add a green salad, and a bowl of gazpacho. Absolutely Nothing made with flour or sugar. Follow suggestions for vegetables and the breakfast fruit servings as outlined.

Choose Organic Raw Fruit and Vegetables as often as possible. 
Fruit and vegetables with thick inedible skins protect the produce against pesticides. Some fruits and vegetables simply do not require pesticides as pests are not a problem. See the list of the dirty dozen to learn what should be bought organic, and the clean 15, what you can safely purchase.

avocado limit 1/day
banana limit 1/day
Avoid white potatoes

Go outside your normal eating and buying patterns to try eating raw those vegetables you would normally cook. Cut them into sticks or rounds & dip them in salsa or mustard, if desired.

Avoid all cooked food.

Eat huge quantities of raw fruit and vegetables and eat often. Do not go hungry!

Ask your family to support you by not bringing junk foods or ‘trigger foods’ into the home. Encourage them to have their indulgences when you are not with them. Before beginning your Fresh Start™ program, prepare and freeze meals for the family that they can fix themselves. You’ll want to avoid the kitchen as much as possible.

Shop ahead for 3-4 days of fruit and vegetables and clean them as follows:
Wash all produce in a pan or sink of water to which you add a few drops of Shaklee Basic-H2.  Let the produce soak for 6-8 minutes. Many preservatives and insecticides need some soaking time to help remove them. Soaking longer than ten minutes can cause vitamin and mineral loss. Rinse and dry. Store each variety in its own glass container or Evert Fresh bag/ Debbie’s bags that you purchase from a supermarket, health food store or from The bags keep produce fresher longer and have no out-gassing effects. They are completely safe.

When you leave the house, take a huge amount of cut up fruit or vegetables with you so that you can continue to graze all day long. The refrigerated lunch bags work well for this purpose.

Morning suggestion: Make a LARGE fruit smoothie by blending various fruits in the blender, keeping the pulp. We like to start with fresh or frozen organic berries, watermelon, apple or peach, pear and any fruits you can find – orange is a good addition. Pulse until you have a drink that has some chunks of fruit – half chewing & half swallowing is a satisfying way to curb the appetite. If you are still hungry after your smoothie and your cup of tea or water, have a piece of fruit or some cut up vegetables. You do not need to be hungry on this program. You will be substituting volume for calories. No need to count calories.

Grazing all day is essential to the success of this program. Keep a bowl or bag of fruit or vegetables within reach, at all times. Graze all day long. If that’s not possible, try eating a large amount of fruit and vegetables every two hours. AND drink 3 quarts of pure filtered water each day. Choose still water not sparkling water. Sparkling water acidifies the body, whereas, it is the intention of the program to create a more alkaline system.  Much of your water intake can come from herb teas, non-caffeinated.

Lunch or dinner: We recommend making gazpacho (recipe included) and having that for lunch or dinner, along with lots of cut vegetables and cut up fruit.

You can make an excellent salad for your evening meal of 3-4 types of lettuce and 5-7 assorted vegetables. Consider adding raw corn cut from the cob, raw peas shucked from the pods for additional variety. Raw asparagus is delicious in this salad and we find that adding an avocado is very satisfying- for most people a half an avocado is sufficient but you may have a whole avocado if you so desire.
Have the largest bowl of salad that you can eat. The idea is to eat a lot of volume to replace the foods you are not eating this week.

Choose ANY olive oil/ vinegar based dressing to add to your salad but dress it lightly- not more than 1 ½ Tbsp dressing. Squeezing a lemon or lime over your salad greens first gives a fresh taste to your salad. Make a vinagrette type dressing of lemon juice and any type of vinegar, added to extra virgin olive oil. .  Blend a tomato and add spices for a tasty dressing. Choose, garlic, basil, chervil, coriander, dill, fennel, marjoram, sage, oregano, parsley, thyme or rosemary.

Avoid Ranch dressing if possible as it is loaded with chemical preservatives. If you love Bleu Cheese dressing go ahead, but cut it with a bit of vinaigrette.

For a treat after dinner, have a cup of herb tea, hot or iced. The Wild Berry Zingers, Blueberry, Raspberry, Good Earth Original
spice teas all have a sweet taste that satisfies like a dessert. (Smile and think positive.)

The No’s:
Following these suggestions of No’s will have you saying YES! in seven days.

No cooked food
No artificial sweeteners
No juices
No coffee
No protein shakes
No nuts
No Sushi
No meats, fish or poultry
No Alcohol
No soft Drinks
By avoiding these acidic foods, the liver, kidneys and colon are given a rest.

The caffeine Coffee or Soda issue:  If you are drinking more than one cup of caffeine coffee or two cans of diet soda daily, you may wish to reduce your intake gradually so you do not experience withdrawal symptoms. Reduce your consumption by one every other day until you are drinking plain water and herb teas. Why? Caffeine is a dehydrating agent and increases the body’s need for water.

Artificial sweeteners:  None recommended. Ever. If you need to sweeten your tea, choose Stevia, powdered or liquid. It’s available in
the natural foods section of your supermarket.

Eating Out:  This is a very simple program to follow when eating out. For breakfast ask if the chef would prepare a fruit smoothie of lots of different fresh fruit. Or  just ask for a bowl of cut up fruit, a half grapefruit, or sliced banana. Tell the wait staff to leave the yogurt and granola in the kitchen. Lunch can be a bowl of gazpacho if it’s on the menu or a huge salad, dressing on the side. Repeat for dinner.  Name the  raw vegetables you’d like to eat. Volunteer to pay extra if it’s an inconvenience to the staff. For a day trip or two, pack several refrigerated lunch bags with cut up fruit and cut up vegetables. Many program participants have taken a small cooler of fruit and vegetables on the airplane when they were traveling to areas they thought would be difficult to find good produce. Over-the-road truck drivers  have successfully followed the program through the truck stops of America by adopting the above practices.

Shaklee Supplements:
5  Alfalfa tabs in the morning and five at night- preferably before eating
2  Herb Lax at night with dinner or before bed
1  Liver DTX Complex in the morning and 2 at night
1 Optiflora ProBiotic pearl

Note: Four people can get together and cut the cost of the supplements. eg: You will only need 7 opti flora for the program. 30 come in one bottle. So find three friends to do the program with you. You can share the cost and support each other.

The raw foods, clean pure water, and supplements all work together to help the body release toxins from the fat cells so the liver can process them for removal from the body. The supplements recommended all contribute to the detoxification/cleansing process.

What can you expect during the first week? Each person’s experience will be unique to them. The more environmental toxins you have built up in your body, the greater the cleansing process. Consider getting eight hours of sleep each night during the week to help the cleansing process be more efficient. Be very intentional about getting the full 3 quarts of water each day.

A few people experience fatigue, irritability, headaches, weakness, bad breath, or flu-like symptoms for the first few days. Usually it’s because they are not eating frequently enough, not drinking enough water or are in withdrawal from caffeine, sugar and alcohol. By the third day you should experience more energy, a feeling of being internally clean, and most likely you’ll find that you are thinking more clearly. If you experience growling stomach hunger, eat more food and eat more often.

By the third day, you will be amazed at how much better you are feeling. You’ll be delighted to realize that you are not craving sweets, breads, or fried foods. Our participants find that their skin is clearer, digestion is improved, and they regain their mental focus. In addition, most report that they drop 4 pounds (women)-11 pounds (men) in 7 days. A periodic detox is one of the easiest ways to see a dramatic improvement in how you feel.

Nedra Sahr, M.S., C.N.S.
Licensed clinical nutritionist

Bill’s Gazpacho

About twelve egg sized tomatoes- plum work well
1 red pepper
I English cucumber partially peeled
1 apple
1 tablespoon of crushed organic garlic
salt and pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
a dash of hot sauce
Juice of 1/2 lime

Put all in cuisinart and pulse to consistency you like (I like mine chunky)
Serve cold or gently warmed- do not boil.

Thanks to Bill McBurney, Ottawa, Canada for sharing this recipe!


Note from Mrs. D.

This blog is meant to help my Shaklee customers get to know me better. I am an educated mom that researches health issues and takes control of my health and the health of my family. Our lifestyle choices include consuming organic and local foods supplemented with Shaklee vitamins. My family is very active with skiing, snow boarding, bicycle riding and yoga. (Okay, I used to practice yoga regularly and now I fantasize about working it back into my schedule. It will happen.) We visit our chiropractor regularly and on occasion we see an acupuncturist and massage therapist. I use all of the Shaklee Get Clean products and would love to introduce you to them as well.

I believe strongly that we all have to be our own health advocates. Don’t believe what I say, think critically and find your way.

Please feel free to contact me at to learn more about Shaklee’s healthy line of products.

Vitamin D: Decreasing Respiratory Infections this Winter

Have fun this winter! Don’t get sick!

Okay – I am assuming that you have heard some talk about vitamin D in the past few years. Something that seems so obvious managed to escape our health radar for a long time. Humans need vitamin D all year long! We get energy from the sun. So simple, so clear. Our modern lifestyle combined with a fear of getting too much sun (which is a valid fear) has sent us into vitamin D depravation. Ahhhh! Are we fighting a loosing battle?!?! Where is the humanity?!?!? (spoiler: there is hope)

In his recent book, “The Vitamin D Solution“, Dr Michael Holick, nationally recognized expert on vitamin D, states, “Our bodies evolved during a time when we spent most of our days outside, making in our skin an amount of vitamin D equivalent to ingesting 10-20,000 IU/day. Today with our indoor living we get maybe a measly few hundred IU from diet sources – that amount cannot even make a dent in filling our empty tanks…every tissue and cell in the body has a vitamin D receptor. That tells us the importance vitamin D plays in our health”.

Family winter fun

Healthy family winter fun

Stated by Dr Stephen Chaney, “It has been postulated for years that a low blood level of vitamin D in the winter months is an important contributor to the increased risk of colds and flu during the winter. And, a number of recent studies have shown that people with higher blood levels of vitamin D are less likely to succumb to colds and flu during the winter months.” Dr. Cheney goes on to explain,  “These studies are clearly consistent with the hypothesis that optimal vitamin D status plays an important role in preventing respiratory infections such as colds and flu. However, all of these studies are associative and do not prove cause and effect.”

Enter Dr. Carlos Carmargo and associates from Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital (Pediatrics, dpi: 10.1542/peds.2011-3029). Dr. Carmargo set out to test this hypothesis with a double-blind, placebo-controlled intervention study – the gold standard for clinical studies.

They conducted this study with 250 Mongolian school children during the winter months. Half of the children received 300 IU of vitamin D each day, while the other half received none. Over the course of the winter vitamin D supplementation decreased the risk of respiratory infection in those children by 50%, and that difference ws highly significant.

Mongolia was chosen for the study since they do not supplement their diet and during the winter months their sun exposure is minimal. All of the children were vitamin D deficient at the beginning of the study. Their blood levels were 7 ng/mL, and anything below 10 ng/mL is considered clearly deficient. For those who received the vitamin D supplementation, their blood levels increased to 19 ng/mL – a level considered adequate but not optimal.

Dr Cheney surmised, “This study clearly confirms that adequate vitamin D levels reduce the risk of respiratory infections and that supplementation with vitamin D can help prevent those respiratory infections if one’s vitamin D status is not optimal.”

If you want to know what your level is, ask your physician to check blood levels off 25-hydroxyvitamin D (the most accurate measure of vitamin D status) for both you and your children and consider supplementing with extra vitamin D during the winter months if warranted. If you are breastfeeding, it is important that you get enough vitamin D to pass some on to your infant. Nobody wants a sick infant!

In the spring and summer, go outdoors for 15-20 minutes 3-5 days a week without sunscreen (it blocks 98% of the body’s ability to make vitamin D). Uncover at least 25% of your body – arms and legs – to produce vitamin D. Most everyone is deficient in vitamin D by February.

In the winter order your vitamin D supplements from Mrs D! I took two each day last winter (2,000 IU), along with my Vitalizer for Women and I managed to stay healthy and strong throughout the winter. I used my mortar and pestle to crush half of a vitamin (500 IU) that I mixed with Adelle’s morning yogurt. A bad flu went through her whole day care class and she never slowed down.


Note from Mrs. D.

This blog is meant to help my Shaklee customers get to know me better. I am an educated mom that researches health issues and takes control of my health and the health of my family. Our lifestyle choices include consuming organic and local foods supplemented with Shaklee vitamins. My family is very active with skiing, snow boarding, bicycle riding and yoga. (Okay, I used to practice yoga regularly and now I fantasize about working it back into my schedule. It will happen.) We visit our chiropractor regularly and on occasion we see an acupuncturist and massage therapist. I use all of the Shaklee Get Clean products and would love to introduce you to them as well.

I believe strongly that we all have to be our own health advocates. Don’t believe what I say, think critically and find your way.

Please feel free to contact me at to learn more about Shaklee’s healthy line of products.

Live like Lucy

Live like Lucy; 1996 – 2012

Lucy love licks during a hike in Hariman Park

Almost ten years ago my life changed for the better. In September 2002 I started dating my husband and his dog, Lucy. It was clear from the beginning that Ted and Lucy came as a package deal. Lucy was about 6 years old at the time and she was full of life. I had heard of other female dogs getting possessive of their male owners and not taking kindly to a new girlfriend. Lucky for me, that was not the case. Ted, Lucy and myself quickly became a great team. We went mountain biking together, took long walks in the city, hiked up many mountains and of course, we had our fair share of tailgating parties. Those of you that were blessed to know Lucy knew that she was a party dog. She loved being around people and she really loved a good BBQ.

In the first few months of being together Lucy shifted from following Ted around to following me around. It was a bit humorous and I definitely felt honored. Ted figured that she could tell I was not quite as street smart, so I would need a little more attention. But I knew it was sisterly love. Strong females can connect with other females. They don’t feel threatened or insecure. For sure, Lucy was secure in her beautiful dogness. We became running partners and great friends.

There is a special place in hell for woman that don’t help other women.

– Madeleine Albright

In the 9-plus years that I spent with Lucy, I learned a lot about how I wanted to live my life. Not only as a person, but as a female. And since her passing this past July, I think it would be a great honor to pass on some Lucy knowledge.

Live Like Lucy:

1. Tolerant and Loving

Lucy was a very tolerant and loving individual. She remained calm while our baby crawled on top of her and grabbed at her hair. Lucy knew that the baby meant no harm and she loved seeing her grow and develop. She knew to be calm when we were visiting grandparents and she could make anyone smile with her loving eyes. I guess one of the great things about dogs in general is that they don’t judge you, they love you unconditionally.

 Intense love does not measure, it just gives.

– Mother Teresa

2. Listen to your gut

Granted, Lucy was a dog and therefore her senses were more keen than us poor humans. But I loved seeing her follow her gut and felt inspired by it each time. Lucy could tell if a person or dog was no good. She knew it immediately and would do her best to avoid the person/dog. She did not waste time trying to be nice to a person or dog that did not align with her pure kindness.

Once we were at a BBQ with our baby who was just walking. Another dog entered the scene and Lucy sensed that there might be a problem. She strategically placed herself between our baby and the other dog. Her body language told me that she was alert and not happy with the situation. We picked up our baby and put her in a safe spot to ease Lucy’s mind (and ours).

It’s your right to listen to your gut. It ain’t nobody’s right to say no after you earn the right to be what you want to be and do what you wanna do.

– Rocky Balboa


3. Take no B.S.

Right behind tolerance and following her gut, but definitely just as important was her ability to know when to stand up for herself. This might be the trait that I admired most in Lucy. There were a few occasions when Lucy had to flex her muscles and let another dog know that she was not to be messed with. Each time Lucy was able to get her point across with loud barking and body language. I think I witnessed this about 3 or 4 times in our relationship. It made me think back to the times in my life when I let another person take advantage of me or manipulate me. I was not able to flex my muscles and tell the person that I would not take this abuse. So Lucy inspired me to stick up for myself more and not let the bad guys get me down. I have to say that since she entered my life, I have been living on my terms.

I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands;
you need to be able to throw something back.

– Maya Angelou

4. Enjoy each day

Lucy indeed lived for the moment. She reveled in every aspect of life; running, sleeping, eating and just being together with loved ones. She never turned down a new experience. Her will to live and love was strong and I will always remember her as the spunky beautiful dog that would wake me up in the morning with licks to my face.

Do one thing every day that scares you.

– Eleanor Roosevelt

Lucy in Pine Hill

Lucy last fall on a Pine Hill hike.

Each day with Lucy was a blessing and it seems proper to honor her by not taking life for granted. This fall we plan to have a memorial mountain bike ride in honor of Lucy. Friends and family are welcome to join us, just let me know if you are interested. I also plan to make a donation in honor of Lucy to two non profits that Lucy would love: 1. Girls Leap and 2. Pine Hill Park.

I had the opportunity to meet the founder of Girls Leap and some of the girls that went through the program when I was busy with my design business in Boston. What draws me to this program is that they understand that learning physical self defense is just a small part of what girls need. They focus on building self esteem, which alone makes one less vulnerable. This is a program worth funding and it seems appropriate to do so in honor of our amazing dog.

Pine Hill Park was one of Lucy’s favorite places. She ran with us while we mountain biked the trails and she walked them with me in her later years. All of the trails are maintained by volunteers and they need monetary support for tools and materials.


 A Note from Mrs D

This blog is meant to help my Shaklee customers get to know me better. My lifestyle choices include consuming organic and local foods supplemented withShaklee vitamins. My family is very active with skiing, snow boarding, bicycle riding and yoga. (Okay, I used to practice yoga regularly and now I fantasize about working it back into my schedule. It will happen.) We visit our chiropractor regularly and on occasion we see an acupuncturist and massage therapist. I use all of the Shaklee Get Clean products and would love to introduce you to them as well.

Please feel free to contact me at to learn more about Shaklee’s healthy line of products.

Bedtime Blessings

Painting more happy faces

Getting back to our childhood and painting more happy faces.

When I was a kid, I used to say my blessings each night before I went to sleep. I’m not sure when this ritual started, when it ended or how I was influenced to begin in the first place. But I can remember kneeling by my bed and thinking to myself “God Bless Mom, Dad, my brothers, my cousins, my aunts and uncles, etc.” I would think of each person individually and bless them by name. It was sort of a mind exercise for me as I tried carefully to make sure I did not forget anyone.

My family attended the local Unitarian Church regularly, but I don’t think that experience lead me to prayer or blessings. The UU Church influenced me more as a community of like minded people enjoying time together. It was valuable and for sure helped shape who I am today – a tolerant, educated and loving person.

That said, I’m just like everyone else. For the most part I am surrounded by people that I love and admire. I have learned not to expend energy on people that bring me down (that’s part of what your 20’s are for). However, there are certain people in my life that get under my skin and that feeling can lead me to think, say or do things that I normally would not consider. Please tell me you know what I’m talking about.

So, the point of this whole post is that through my daughter I have rediscovered my nightly ritual of blessings. One night this past year, while my daughter and I were going through our normal bedtime routine of bath, books and bed I decided to add saying our blessings. My intent was to have a moment each day when we could reflect on the people in our life. We live a few hours from any immediate family, so I was trying to find ways to keep all of Adelle’s aunts, uncles and cousins fresh in her mind. What happened to me in this process was surprising and refreshing. While I was going down the list of relatives and close family friends to bless with Adelle I realized how much I love each of these people. At that moment, any resentment I was carrying about any petty issue faded. I was genuinely happy to have all of these people in my life.

A girl with her dog

Mutual affection.

So even though this began as an exercise for my daughter, it has become a powerful healing tool for me. Each night before bed we talk about the people in our lives that help make us whole. After a tough day with any negative thoughts, this simple act can help you refocus on what really matters in life. How cool is that? And to boot, this is a great way to understand who has made an impression on my daughter. I am happy to say that she always includes our dog Lucy.


Note from Mrs. D.

This blog is meant to help my Shaklee customers get to know me better. My lifestyle choices include consuming organic and local foods supplemented with Shaklee vitamins. My family is very active with skiing, snow boarding, bicycle riding and yoga. (Okay, I used to practice yoga regularly and now I fantasize about working it back into my schedule. It will happen.) We visit our chiropractor regularly and on occasion we see an acupuncturist and massage therapist. I use all of the Shaklee Get Clean products and would love to introduce you to them as well.

Please feel free to contact me at to learn more about Shaklee’s healthy line of products.

Packing a home made lunch

Bento lunch

Bento lunch. Top shelf: ww tortilla with hummus, cheese and chopped black olives. Annies bunny crackers. One lemon zinger cookie. Bottom shelf: red grapes and apple slices.

Since my daughter was born I have been learning how to cook. Since she entered a day care this past October I have been learning how to pack healthy lunches. This is a whole new area of food issues. I have to find healthy options that will sit in her lunch box for four hours and not only taste good but also look appealing. Unfortunately I am not only competing with other kids’ packed lunches. There is a hot lunch served each day with which she can compare her fare. On days that they serve scrambled eggs, I don’t even bother packing a lunch. She loves eggs. When they are serving hot dogs and beans I pack my own organic, casein-free hot dogs. I think every kid exposed to hot dogs will love them, so I can’t really send her to school with a PB&J on hot dog day. But on most days I pack her lunch as I like to know that she is getting the best ingredients; whole grains, minimal if any processed foods, fresh fruit and veggies, organic milk, etc.

One of the best Christmas gifts that Adelle received was from her cousins in NH. (She loves and adores her cousins, so that helps too.) Will and Ollie sent her a Panda Bento Box. Having her lunch in this box really does make a difference. It helps me with the portion control and Adelle just loves eating out of it. It is a two tiered box so one tier is for her sandwich or wrap and any cracker treats I give her. The bottom tier is devoted to fruit and veggies. I am still working on perfecting the whole rice ball idea. Hopefully I will have a blog entry devoted to delicious rice balls.

PBJ lunch

PBJ on Babalouis bread with two lemon zinger cookies. Carrots, pineapple and cucumbers.


tortilla lunch

Note from Mrs. D.

This blog is meant to help my Shaklee customers get to know me better. My lifestyle choices include consuming organic and local foods supplemented with Shaklee vitamins. My family is very active with skiing, snow boarding, bicycle riding and yoga. We visit our chiropractor regularly and on occasion we see an acupuncturist and massage therapist. I use all of the Shaklee Get Clean products and would love to introduce you to them as well.

Please feel free to contact me at to learn more about Shaklee’s healthy line of products.

A mother/daughter collaboration

Hand made cards by Adelle and Lorelei

Now that Adelle (my two-year-old) has an easel and paint and markers, we are using a lot of paper in our house. She loves to make art and I love watching her attack the paper with total confidence and absolutely no plan. Kids really do live in the moment and I envy that.

So after Adelle finished her first pad of paper I started to leaf through the artwork to see what pieces would be saved. I’m trying not to save everything, so there was a lot left over. But rather than throwing it away I decided to use the artwork to make cards. We always need a Thank you card or a Birthday card. And these will be personalized, home made cards. A nice mother/daughter collaboration.

Now, the easiest way to do this is to merely cut up the artwork so that a folded piece will fit into whatever size envelope you have. I did this for a few cards earlier this year. Then I saw a box sitting on my desk collecting dust. It was a box of stationary that my parents gave me as a souvenir from their trip to Italy a few years ago. It is simply cream white paper with matching envelopes. (Amatruda – La Carta di Amalfi). Talk about taking the craft project up a notch!

A soft colored thread helps it blend. This way the imperfect stitching is less noticable.

I used a piece of the stationery to measure the artwork and cut out the pieces. I was not trying to be exact. I figured that some imperfections will add to the charm of the piece, and I really do not have much time these days. So I just held the piece of stationery over Adelle’s artwork and cut, without cutting any of the stationery paper. Then I folded each piece separately. Once they were folded, I put the nice stationery inside the folded artwork. Then I took a needle and thread and sewed them together. Again, this was not perfect. I am contemplating trying to improve my needle work, but it is not necessary. The artwork on the outside is so beautiful that the needle work does not draw attention. That said, nice needlework would take it up even another notch…

Card for Uncle Bill


Healthy Pigs-in-a-Blanket?

Okay, so this is the story. My daughter’s day care was having a holiday party and each parent had to bring in a dish. The day care chose the menu and posted it on the wall. I had to choose what I would make. My jaw dropped when I saw Pigs-in-a-blanket on the list.

Now, I know that I am off the mainstream, but I thought it was common knowledge that hot dogs are one of the worst things you can feed your kid. Check this out, or this, or this for more info on that.

After I composed myself and was able to lift my jaw off the floor I decided that if someone was going to bring Pigs-in-a-Blanket it should be me. (I don’t care if that sounds pompous. We are talking about my kid’s health.) There must be a way to make this a healthy dish. But could I make it healthy and yummy?!?!?!

Pine Woods Farm

Pine Woods Farm: All natural 100% grass fed beef, no-nitrite hot dogs

The first thing I did was check out to see if Catherine had made this dish. But since her site is devoted to healthy food for kids, I came up short. Go figure. Out of desperation I e-mailed Catherine. She too was floored that a day care was requesting pigs-in-a-blanket. So I was on my own. I considered making a stink at the center, but I have already done that in regards to their lunch menu and the fact that they don’t serve organic milk. The result of that discussion was that I should pack my daughter’s lunch and bring a thermos of organic milk for her. It was clear that I did not have the power to change things.

So here I am, trying to figure out if I should attempt a healthy version of pigs-in-a-blanket or bring in something completely different. I decided to try and play nice. I would revise this recipe of Americana and see if I could create a new American treat.

The first problem to solve was with the hot dogs. I know that some farms are now making nitrite-free and even organic hot dogs. So I figured I would buy the normal sized hot dogs and cut them down to bite size. During a regular visit to my local winter farmer’s market I found Pine Woods Farm and they make nitrite-free hot dogs. Whoa-hoooo!!!

Next I found a basic recipe on the food network website and figured I could make some healthy changes. Below is my revised recipe and my notes after the whole experience. But for those that have no desire to make this dish – I will end by saying that blankets were meant for broccoli and cheese, or sweet potato and spices, or even organic beef, but not pigs (aka: hot dogs). The end result of this ridiculously long and painful process was anti-climatic. The cancer causing Pigs-in-a-Blanket that you can buy in your frozen food section seem to pack a nice punch, which is probably why they became a part of our American heritage. Mini nitrite laden hot dogs and white malnourished flour seem to make a perfect pair. But now that we know how damaging they are I suggest that we embrace our southern neighbors and find ways to make healthy empanadas! Does this mean I’m not a patriot or does it make me cosmopolitan? Either way, I am glad that I tried this recipe since it has given me the courage to attempt other baked goodies like empanadas or calzones. But in the end, I’m afraid, I will never try to make healthy pigs-in-a-blanket again. The results were just not worth the effort. I will, however, use this blanket recipe again and experiment with other stuffings.

—— local business plug ——-

Now, speaking of empanadas… if you have not yet tried Ana’s Empanadas from Rutland VT, you are in for a treat. I could only find a FB page for her – but you can get them at 54 Strongs Ave. in Rutland, VT, or at the Rutland Farmer’s Market each Saturday, or at the base of Needle’s Eye trail on Killington Mountain or at the Diamond Run Mall in Rutland. Ana is the best! I strive to bake like her.

———- back to the piggies ———–

If you are cornered by your school or day care and must make these, you can follow the recipe below for a healthier version. If you have the time and the gumption, I recommend doing some upfront research to find the right substance to tuck into the blanket. There are many options out there and I did not have the time to test them all. Talk to your local butcher if you prefer meat stuffing – or experiment with some flavorful veggies. These really did seem like little empanadas that could be stuffed with anything, so the world is your oyster.

the Pigs-in-a-Blanket, if you must, RECIPE:

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cups plus 5 tablespoons all purpose four
3 tablespoons baking soda
1 heaping teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons grated cheddar
1 cup whole organic milk
1 organic egg
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
12 hot dogs (Cut in half and then sliced half lengthwise. Four parts to each dog.)

For glazing:
1 egg, mixed with a splash of organic milk and .5 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F, if you are an experienced pastry chef. If you are new to this dough thing, you can wait until you are done making the dough to turn the oven on. It takes plenty of time to roll out the dough and roll up these little piggies, so the oven can pre-heat while you figure out the details. No need to waste energy.

Cooking pigs-in-a-blanket

Experiment in the works

Measure 1 cup of all purpose flour and 1 cup of whole wheat flour into a bowl, add the baking soda, salt and grated cheese and mix lightly with a fork. Pour the milk into a measuring cup to come up to the 1 cup mark and then crack in the egg and add the oil. Beat to combine, then pour into the dry ingredients, forking o mix as you go. You may, at the end, feel the dough’s either too dry or too damp: add either more milk or m ore flour and fork together again until you’ve got a soft dough that’s not too sticky to be rolled out.

Break the dough into 2 pieces and roll 1 piece on a lightly floured surface. Just roll as clumsily and heavy handedly as you like: no harm will come to it. You want a thin, rectangle – but don’t stress. I found the dough to be easy to work with and my shapes were not spot-on.

nitrite free hot dogs

These locally made hot dogs look different and taste a bit different, so they are not an easy sell to picky toddlers or picky husbands.

The recipe said to cut the dough into approximately 1 3/4 inch strips, and then cut each strip at approximately 2.5 inch intervals so that you end up with a collection of small, raggedy oblongs. I was not able to do this. It was easier for me to cut out one rectangle at a time and I had to experiment with a few before I found the right size for my pieces of hot dog. I also found that the thinner you can roll the dough out, the better. My first few were a bit too thick and the result was way too much bread around the meat.

Take one of your cut pieces of hot dog and put it at one end of an oblong, at a slight diagonal and then roll up, pressing on the infinitely compliant dough to squeeze it shut, and then place on a nonstick baking sheet, or one lined with parchment. Carry on until you’ve finished all your strips and then get to work with the remaining dough. Three baking sheets should do it.

Now, dip a pastry brush into the beaten egg mixture and paint on the pastry for a golden glaze. Put in the oven and cook for 12 – 15 minutes, by which time they should be puffy and burnished. Remove from the oven and let cool a little before eating.

Ready to bake

28 little piggies ready to bake! The orange brush is my favorite kitchen tool and the little wooden knife on the plate is my daughter's toy knife.

Mrs. D’s Notes:

1. After making this dish the biggest benefit for me was realizing that if I can do this, I might be able to make empanadas. Wow. That was encouraging. So it is a bit of an ego booster.

2. The dough turned out good using 1 cup of whole wheat flour. I used King Arthur’s unbleached whole wheat flour and they boast that since they use the “highest protein wheat, you still get exceptional baking results with this flour.” I can’t argue with that.

3. I was able to use my favorite kitchen tool, an orange brush (see photo).

4. I was also able to use Adelle’s toy wooden knife. It cut the rolled dough nicely and did not cut into my counter.

5. Since I do not own a rolling pin it was fun to improvise and use a wine bottle to roll out the dough. I don’t drink much these days and it made me feel like I was a young ex-pat again. Not sure why, but I’ll take it.

6. I only used half of the dough for my daughter’s party so I saved the other half and used some organic chicken-spinach-feta sausages in place of the piggy. My husband, daughter and I ate them as a fun appetizer over the holidays. These were better received than the hot dog version.


1. If you are trying to make every meal and snack as healthy as possible, this probably is not a great choice. Even with the non-nitrite hot dogs it does not get too high on the healthy list.

2. It is time consuming.

General thoughts:
I considered marinating some chicken tenders in soy sauce and rolling them up. The problem was that I needed to cook the chicken first to ensure that it would be cooked after only 12-15 minutes in the oven. I was feeling a bit insecure about this since chicken makes me nervous. I did not want to under cook it or over cook it.

My next thought was about veggies. What kind of veggies can I wrap up? I’m planning to investigate some empanada recipes to compare and go from there. If any experienced cooks out there stumble upon this post, please offer up some advice.

Let the experiments begin!

Farmers Market Gift Basket

Farmers Market Gift Basket

I realized after giving the basket that I did not photograph it. So here you can see it already being divided up by the staff.

‘Tis the season to shop local!

What better way to say “Thank You” to the administrative staff at your child’s daycare than to assemble a clementine crate of goodies from your local farmer’s market? The presentation was a bit rough around the edges, I’ll admit, but I think everyone was happy to receive such nice local treats.

Earlier in the month I did flip through a few gift basket catalogs. I was lured in by the fancy photos of abundant chocolate, nuts and wine. But after a regular visit to our Farmer’s Market I decided to spend the same amount of money and sacrifice the WOW reaction that a big fancy wrapped basket will receive for a more warm and fuzzy reaction.

The basket included the following: 5 bars of hand made soap, 3 wooden coasters (Essential Suds), 2 bags of coffee (Vermont Coffee Company), 2 bottles of sparkling cider (Putney Winery), 1 jar of goat’s milk caramel sauce and 4 little jars of home made fruit jam.

Merry Christmas!

Customer Service at it’s finest!

warm fuzzy feelings

After processing a return with Shaklee I feel all warm and tingly inside. Similar to the feeling I get when looking at old photos of my baby.

After an exceptional customer service experience I have to share.

Just recently a Shaklee customer of mine asked to return a product. Since this was the first return I have ever had to conduct, I will admit I was a bit nervous. Would she have to pack the product and schlep it down to the post office and pay for postage? She is a mom with a toddler at home, so a trip to the post office is not so easy. And since my customer does not live in the same state, I could not just drop by to pick it up and take care of that for her.
So I called 1-800-SHAKLEE and spoke with a rep. I get tingles down my spine each time I think of how easy this was. I gave the order information and they processed the return of funds to her credit card. That was it. Now that is what I call 100% guaranteed!

I’m glad that I don’t have to return products often, but it is refreshing to experience such great customer service.


Karma, tomato sauce and American Pie

It it not often that we feel Karma at work. These days it seems easy to feel like the universe is out of whack and good people get the short end of the stick. Well, in the aftermath of Irene I was able to witness two karmatic episodes. Or should I say, twice I felt karma at work. (note: These are two specific personal experiences. We are still in the midst of a great community effort all around. Vermont really is strong!)

In the aftermath of Irene we did what we could to help our neighbors. I was uploading photos to FB daily so that our ski buddies down in MA, CT, NY and NJ could be informed about what was needed for donations. These posts ended up inspiring a friend to turn her annual fall party into a fundraiser for VT and we raised $800! Not bad for a bunch of drunk skiers dancing the night away. (Big thanks to Gretchen and Doug for hosting such a fun event.) And of course, we donated goods during the crucial time when the roads were still closed and people could not get to the stores.

Karmatic episode 1:


Before: what the elves left in our shed.

On the Saturday after the storm, Adelle and I made our normal trip to the Farmers Market in Rutland. Later that afternoon Ted asked me why I was storing tomatoes in our shed. Tomatoes in our shed? I walked over to the shed and saw a big box full of ripe red tomatoes. My only conclusion was that one of the farmers from the market that morning brought it to the relief drop-off center next door. (I remembered seeing these tomatoes at the market.) The volunteers did not know what to do with fresh tomatoes, as they would get crushed in the delivery trucks. So one of the volunteers must have decided to be a little elf and deliver the tomatoes to our family. It was a nice gesture, but I was not sure what the heck our little three person family was going to do with so many ripe tomatoes.



After: Mrs D's tomato sauce

Tomato sauce from scratch!

What a thought. Instead of buying canned tomatoes or jarred tomato sauce, I could boil these down and make some sauce completely from scratch. The challenge was on!

I have to admit that I did not follow a recipe. This seems to be a trend. I will glance at a recipe to get an idea of how to do something and then wing it. Sometimes the results are okay, like with this sauce. Other times the final result is not-so-good, like Wednesday’s attempt at a veggie curry dish. For this tomato sauce I boiled the tomatoes and then dropped them into a bowl with ice. At the time, we were trying to conserve water in Rutland, so I used up all the ice I had in the freezer and we went without ice until the water supply was restored. Anyway, this method makes it easy to pull the skin off of the tomatoes. After you do that, you have to squeeze the seeds out. I found this difficult and I don’t think I really succeeded. Luckily  tomato seeds are full of antioxidants, as many found their way into my sauce. We used some of the sauce that week and I froze the rest for the winter months ahead. It will be nice to get a taste of fresh tomatoes in the middle of the winter.

Karmatic episode 2:

Two weeks ago on a trip back to Rutland from Connecticut I stopped in Ludlow for a slice of pizza from the American Pie pizzeria. Those of you that travel from CT to VT probably go through this little town. It was closing time but the owner, Craig, let me in and we had a nice chat. Apparently he had been closed down for six weeks because of the storm. If you are small business owner, you know that loosing six weeks of business can be devastating. But I was heartened to hear that he had applied for a grant from the VT Irene Flood Relief Fund and they sent him $1,000 to help with his repairs and to get back in business. He said the application process was easy and the money came fast. WOW! No bureaucracy? No red tape? No delay? I was delighted since Gretchen and I chose to donate to that very fund. I started to think that $800 of the $1,000 Craig received came from us and I was destined to be one of his first customers after re-opening. If it makes you feel good to think it, why not?

Here is an interview with Craig if you are interested in learning more about American Pie. Oh, and I highly recommend stopping in to have a slice or two. The pizza is brick oven baked and delicious, the decor is super fun and the staff aint so bad either.

american pie

Quick shot with my phone. This VW bus serves as Craig's counter. A must see!


For those of you that attended Gretchen and Doug’s fund raising party in September, you should have received a thank you letter from the VT Irene Flood Relief Fund by now. Our grand total from checks and cash was $800.58. (Yes, change was thrown into the pot.)  Not bad considering a lot of people did not come out in fear of rain. (For those that donated cash – Gretchen sent in a check to cover it, so below is the letter intended to thank you.)

Excerpt of letter from VT Irene Flood Relief Fund

Hurricanes and tropical storms are not unheard of in northern New England, yet the damage left behind by Irene ranks this weather event as one of Vermont’s top natural disasters. Entire communities were cut off from their neighbors and from essential emergency services. Many mountain towns in Irene’s path became accessible only by ATV, helicopter, and even by horseback. It will be weeks, months, and perhaps years before many of these communities recuperate in full.

In a state known for its pristine environment and strong agricultural heritage, Vermonters suddenly found their communities, homes and businesses deluged by water and silt. Our farmers found their croplands tainted by contaminated floodwaters posing hazards to both heard and human health. Our business owners found their work places damaged and inventories ruined beyond repair.

These are difficult times that are testing the spirit and soul of Vermont but all around the state neighbors are helping neighbors  restore their communities. Strangers, families and friends alike are volunteering to muck out homes, feed those without food, do laundry, house the newly homeless, and to resurrect as many personnel mementos as possible. …. Thank you again for reaching out to Vermonters with your kind support. You are responsible for helping rebuild many lives and the local economies essential to our recovery.