In Praise of Spinach

Today is National Spinach Day, a day set aside to honor and consider all the delicious ways we can incorporate this nutritional powerhouse into our diets.

Here are 10 interesting facts about spinach:

1. During Catherine de Medici’s reign as queen of France, spinach was served at every meal. Many modern dishes made with spinach are known as “Florentine” in honor of Catherine’s birth in Florence.

2. The earliest written record of the spinach plant was found in Chinese, suggesting the spinach plant was introduced in China via Nepal.

3. Medieval artists extracted green pigment from spinach to use as an ink or paint.

4. China is the world’s largest spinach producer with 85% of global production.

5. California accounts for almost three quarters of national production. Other spinach-growing states include Arizona, New Jersey, Texas, Colorado, Maryland, and Arkansas.

6. In the 1930’s, U.S. spinach growers credited Popeye with a 33% increase in domestic spinach consumption.

7. Alma, Arkansas—the home of “Allen Canning Company” which cans and ships spinach—holds an annual spinach festival each April. Alma proclaims itself to be the “Spinach Capital of the World”…a title also claimed by Crystal City, Texas.

8. An excellent source of protein, calcium, folic acid, fiber, and vitamins A, C, and K, spinach is also loaded with cancer-fighting antioxidants.

9. A half cup of raw spinach counts as one vegetable serving.

10. Studies have found that eating cooked spinach and carrots – versus raw – results in much higher blood levels of beta-carotene, an antioxidant thought to guard against heart disease and lung cancer.

On a personal note…

I look forward to my breakfast smoothie. Here’s one of my favorite recipes:

I start with one scoop of Sun Warrior Vegan Protein Powder (vanilla flavor). Recommended by my nutritionist, this brand contains brown rice protein and works well for anyone who is sensitive to eggs, dairy, and soy. I add one-half cup of blueberries, one cup of baby spinach leaves, and one teaspoon of cinnamon. I then add six to eight ounces of water and blend.

Do you have a quick-and-easy spinach recipe to share?

Reframing for Success

It is easy to be negative at this time of year. The mornings are dark, the weather is unpredictable, and spring is weeks away. We can find an excuse for each day and, if we’re not careful, we’ll slip back into bad habits.

In their book, The Ultimate Stress-Relief Plan for Women, authors Stephanie McClellan and Beth Hamilton recommend reframing by replacing negative thoughts with positive self-talk.


Here are some examples:

I’m too exhausted even to think of moving.
I always have more energy after I exercise.

I’m just so slow.
When I started, I was out of breath very quickly. I may not be a speed demon, but I have really built up my endurance.

My whole body hurts from that last workout.
If I stretch well or take a hot bath, my muscles will be warmed up, and I’ll be feeling no pain once I start moving.

I had to skip three days because I had a virus. It’s impossible for me to stay with it. Something always gets in the way.
Each day is a new day, and I can pick up where I left off.

It’s miserable out, so I think I ‘ll just sleep in this morning.
It’s raining too hard for me to enjoy my walk. I’ll try that new yoga DVD.

This was the most stressful day at work in a long time. I think I’ll make myself a drink.
I bet a good workout will help me burn off this tension.

The Right Treats

comfortballoonsWe can all benefit by finding the right treat or combination of treats that serve as “comfort food” for our brains. It is important, however, not to fall into the trap of selecting pleasures that come at a cost. For example, an hour of retail therapy may lift our moods, but over-spending will strain our finances. Eating that ice-cream cone or extra piece of cheesecake may calm jittery nerves and add pounds.

Continue reading on Madelyn Hill’s blog.

Happy National Food Day!

The main objective of National Food Day is to help people “Eat Real” by “cutting back on sugar drinks, packaged foods, and factory-farmed meats in favor of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and sustainably raised protein.”


Here are 10 quotes to inspire positive changes in eating habits…

To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear. Buddha

You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces—just good food from fresh ingredients. Julia Child

Fill your plate with the colors of the rainbow. What pleases the eye pleases the body as a whole. Deepak Chopra

Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have. Winston Churchill

The first wealth is health. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. Hippocrates

Ignore the food police. Be a laughing Buddha with happiness in your belly. And indulge your appetite for the pleasures of food shared with good company or eaten alone, in peaceful contemplation of the fruits of the earth. Christiane Northrup

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. Michael Pollan

Our bodies are our gardens—our wills are our gardeners. William Shakespeare

Get people back into the kitchen and combat the trend toward processed food and fast food. Dr. Andrew Weil

At the Transformational Wellness Fair

This past Saturday, I attended the Transformational Wellness Fair at Dublin Street United Church in Guelph, Ontario. Over thirty holistic practitioners and vendors set up booths featuring a diverse array of products and services.

I also listened to the following guest speakers:

Jill Hewlett is an internationally recognized speaker, trainer, author, wellness TV personality, and brain fitness expert. In the hour-long session, she shared simple and effective ways to improve cognition.


Some of Jill’s insights and suggestions…

The brain is the most powerful, complex, and clever technology on the planet.

Make coffee something you enjoy, not a tool to sculpt your brain.

Do things differently and create your own results.

We first work on habits, and then our habits make us.

When you feed your body properly, you will fuel your brain.

Brain at its best: 80% water, 12% fatty lipids, 8% protein.

Be hydrated…If you’re thinking, you’re drinking.

As we move our bodies, we recreate our brains.

If you say “No” too often, you will remain in your comfort zone.

If you’re in your comfort zone, give yourself novelty. If you’re always on the go, give yourself more structure and rest.

Jill showed a trailer of The Croods. This prehistoric comedy adventure follows the world’s first family as they embark on a journey of a lifetime when the cave that has always shielded them from danger is destroyed.

In the next hour, Energy Worker Tina Wright facilitated an interactive session, where we danced, opened and closed sacred spaces, and constructed our own sand paintings. This shamanic practice enables us to remove energy blocks that may be holding us back in our life journeys.Contact Tina at for more information.

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roxanaIn her session, Naturotherapist Roxana Roshon helped bridge the gap between Western medicine and complementary therapies. After personally experiencing the healing power of alternative medicine, she obtained a Ph.D. in Toxicology and trained in
holistic energy healing (BOS, TBM, Therapeutic Touch, Craniosacral Therapy), with a focus on indigenous healing techniques (Mexica /Toltec). In addition to sharing her own journey, Roxana described breathing techniques and other tips for providing relief. She also guided us through a relaxing meditation.

The afternoon ended with a session on “The Fulfillment Factor” by Russell Scott. A former addictions counselor, Russell now provides one-on-one work and retreats for independent seekers aka mystic misfits. His primary purpose: “Help people awaken and live their best lives.”


Some of Russell’s insights and suggestions…

It’s not always about being happy–Our aim is to be authentic and real.

What fulfills us is the development of consciousness.

Learn from the insanity.

If you want to change your situation, you need to accept it as it is. Allow for the natural flow of life.

When you don’t accept the situation, resistance will block the natural flow.

If you are struggling with acceptance, start journaling. At the top of a journal page, write “The truth of this situation is…” After several days of journaling, reread your entries and circle anything that stands out.

The best book is the book of yourself.

Purpose of life: To be fully who you are.

My Mind, Body, Spirit Transformation

Today, we have Dr. Ellen Albertson sharing her inspiring journey to wellness.

Here’s Dr. Ellen!

drellenToday I love my body. I’ve stopped worrying about it and started enjoying it. My body is a marvelous temple, a vehicle that transports me through life and facilitates emotion and pleasure.

But it wasn’t always like this. At first, I believed the path to wellbeing was weight loss. I thought that obtaining the “perfect” body would solve all my problems. But focusing on weight WAS the problem—blocking joy, personal growth and connecting with my genius and passion.

I was a weight loss warrior/worrier focusing ridiculous amounts of time and energy on weight and helping my clients do the same thing. Counting calories, restricting food, following rigid meal plans, beating myself up for eating a cookie, exercising excessively and weighing and judging people, FOR WHAT?

Trying to control my body was destroying my life. I was addicted to exercise. If I didn’t work out I freaked out! I ran away from problems and uncomfortable emotions and punished my body for not being “perfect”. No one knew because I looked “great.” Besides, as a personal fitness trainer I worked in the insane fitness industry where grueling workouts are glorified.

My daughter, Aly hit puberty. Distraught by her changing body, she started mirroring my dysfunctional, body hating behavior. Going clothing shopping was worse than root canal. She’d emerge from the dressing room in tears because nothing fit. Her behavior was a powerful wake-up call that roused me from my self-centered, self-loathing trance. To help her, I had to make peace with my body and food.

I started therapy and learned to safely connect with feelings and emotions. I confronted fears and questioned many long held beliefs, including my ridiculous fear of fat and view that everyone could and should strive to have a perfect, thin body. When thoughts like, “I feel fat” crossed my mind I crossed examined them. For example, I was out on a winter walk when I started feeling heavy. I realized I felt fat not because of body weight, but because I was wearing a bulky coat to stay warm.

Gradually my body stopped being a dumping ground for all that was wrong with my life. Movement and eating became joyful again. When I looked in the mirror instead of flaws and imperfections I saw beauty and glimpsed my soul. I realized my body was not my masterpiece, my life was.

That’s when I discovered Self-compassion, learning to treat yourself the way you would a good friend. I was working on my doctoral dissertation and wanted to provide women with something more than flat abs and a sexy bum. My dissertation chair suggested I offer meditation. Initially, I was uncomfortable with the idea because I didn’t meditate. Years ago I had meditated and been passionate about spirituality, but life and my quest for the perfect body had crowded out space to expand my soul.

The minute I said yes to meditation doors started opening. Kristin Neff, a pioneer in the field of Mindful Self-compassion (MSC) agreed to be on my dissertation committee. I studied extensively with Kristin and eventually become a Mindful Self-compassion teacher. MSC changed my life. As I meditated and practiced self-compassion I started to fall in love with my Self. The drive for perfection was replaced by self-acceptance, and the nagging, critical voice that had haunted me disappeared.

When things were difficult in my life I used to automatically say, “I feel fat”, restrict my eating and go for a run. Now when things are difficult I give myself what I need to feel better. I’ve stopped struggling and started flowing. Each day is an opportunity to see what there is to see, feel what there is to feel and know what there is to know. And difficulties are just doorways to grow and glow.

Today, My life is filled with passion, purpose and meaning. Sometimes it’s a hot mess, but now I can accept and handle it. I love and care for myself deeply, and I’m able to use my gifts of healing, insight and intuition to help others heal and live happier, more fulfilling lives.

Here’s what I want to leave you with:

Let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are. When life feels heavy, harmonize the dance of your life with the song in your heart and flow with grace, beauty and ease.



Dr. Ellen is a Psychologist, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Certified Wellcoach® and Reiki Master. The Glow & Grow Coach, Dr. Ellen teaches women how to harmonize the dance of their lives with the song in their hearts and flow with grace, beauty and ease. She’s passionate about helping others let go of who they think they’re supposed to be & embrace who they are.

The former online Nutrition Expert for Women’s Health, Men’s Health and The Abs Diet, Dr. Ellen has helped thousands of women overcome negative body image and weight issues and enlighten body, mind, heart & spirit. After working for two decades in the diet industry and struggling with food and weight issues, she broke free from the body perfection trap. She discovered self-compassion, and transformed her life and coaching practice.

An expert on women’s wellbeing, Dr. Ellen has appeared on Extra, The Maury Povitch Show, the Food Network and NBC World News and has been quoted in Psychology Today, Family Circle, Eating Well and USA Today. Dr. Ellen’s articles on health and nutrition have appeared in Self, Better Homes & Gardens and Good Housekeeping. She is the author of 4 books including: Hawking God, Food as Foreplay: Recipes for Romance, Love & Lust and the soon to be released The Dietitian & The Diabetic: How to Help Your Husband Defeat Diabetes without Losing Your Mind or Your Marriage.

Where to find Dr. Ellen…

Facebook | Twitter

giftboxClick to get your free gift from Dr. Ellen ~ The Catapult Your Confidence Kit. It contains a workbook, guide and MP3 designed to help people shift their mood and build self-love and self-worth.

Joanne here!

Dr. Ellen, thanks for an inspirational post! Best of luck with your upcoming release, The Dietitian and the Diabetic.