Ten Food Swaps

As I read more, listen to my lectures, and talk to friends and clients, I have come to the belief that there are about 10 recommendations that I often suggest to people. These same 10 suggestions apply for most people and for most health concerns. If you were trying to make healthier choices in your diet, this is a basic list that can be your jumping off point. Here are my recommendations for 10 things to add to or replace in your diet. But not until Friday. 😉 After all, tomorrow is Thanksgiving and life is for living and enjoying. You have to live your life and holiday foods most definitely qualify.

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Eat This 🙂 Instead of That 😦
Grass-fed Butter

Butter is great to cook with because unlike most vegetable oils, it does not oxidize at low temperatures. It reduces inflammation and is rich in conjugated-linoleic acid and vitamins A, D & K2.


Margarine is made of crop oils that are partially hydrogenated, turning them from liquid into a solid. This turns the fats into trans fats, substances that our bodies have trouble recognizing and processing.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is a great source of medium chain triglycerides, which are antiviral and antibacterial. These medium chain fatty acids are easily absorbed by the body and protect against heart disease and promote weight loss. It is a great high heat cooking oil, as it doesn’t oxidize at low temperatures.

All other Vegetable Oils

Vegetable oils oxidize at lower temperatures, meaning they become damaged and inflammatory when used in cooking. They are also highly processed using high heat, so they are likely damaged even before used in cooking. When exposed to light (through the clear bottles the are packaged in) further oxidation occurs.

Honey, Maple Syrup, Date Sugar, or Coconut Sugar

Coconut sugar is a low-glycemic sweetener. Both coconut sugar and date sugar are not as heavily processed as other sugars. Raw honey and maple syrup are not processed either. These all make great sugar alternatives when used in moderation.

Sugar, Agave, Artificial Sweeteners

High blood sugar is a problem with many health concerns. Artificial sweeteners are linked to declines in kidney function, brain tumors, autoimmune conditions, and are potential neurotoxins. Agave, while a low-glycemic sweetener, is heavily processed, making it similar to high-fructose corn syrup.

Raw Nuts and Seeds

Seeds contain all the nutrients for that the plant needs to start life, making them nutrient dense. They are often rich in omega-3s, great sources of protein, fats, and vitamins and minerals. Nuts and seeds have a “season” like all other produce, and can go bad like all other produce, so they should be eaten raw.

Roasted Nuts and Seeds

Similarly to crop oils, nuts and seeds oxidize when exposed to high heats, therefore roasted nuts and seeds are likely to cause oxidative damage and inflammation in the body. Nuts and seeds are also often roasted to preserve them, but also to hide the rancidity of the nuts or seeds.

Sparkling Water

For a treat, sparkling water is a nice alternative to regular filtered water. Adding fruit, a squeeze of lime juice, or some grapefruit essential oil to the sparkling water can also help to break up the repetition.


Sugary drinks actually cause the taste buds to crave more sugar. To process sugars, vitamins and minerals must be taken from the tissues, therefore repeated exposure can lead to nutrient deficiencies.

Sea Salt

The best salt choices are not white – either grey, pink, or other colors. These salts contain trace minerals that we need and can be hard to find.

Iodized Salt

Iodized salt often has added sugar and aluminum. It is also processed to remove all other trace minerals.

Spaghetti Squash, Zoodles, or Kelp Noodles

These are nutrient dense substitutions for pasta and are low in calories. Zoodles are zucchini that have been spiralized into spaghetti-like noodles.


Pasta is a refined food that is rich in calories, but low in nutrients. While it may be tasty, it’s a modern convenience food that isn’t needed.


Herbals teas are a great alternative to coffee. Teas do not create the stress response that coffee does and are often filled with nutritional benefits.


Coffee stimulates the adrenal glands to produce more cortisol and adrenaline, keeping the adrenals on overload. It also raises blood sugar and depletes vitamins and minerals.

Full-fat Dairy

Dairy is a good source of protein, healthy fats, calcium and fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and K2.

Nonfat Dairy

When you remove the fat from dairy, you are left with a lot of dairy sugar, lactose. Nature would not package something “bad” with something good just for us to wait thousands of years for scientists to learn how to separate the fat out of dairy.

Pasture-raised Eggs

Eggs do contain cholesterol and fat, and the reality is that we need both. Both are in every cell of the human body. Cholesterol supports brain function, serotonin production, and it acts as an antioxidant. Your heart gets 60% of its energy from fat and you brain is mostly fat.

Egg Whites/ Egg Substitutes/ Non-Pasture-raised Eggs

Nature did not package something good for us with something bad for us just to wait thousands of years for humans to invent egg-beaters. You are what you eat, so if you’re eating poorly raised eggs, you are not getting the nutrients that you need.

Health & Hugs <3,




Axe, J. (2015). Step away from the diet coke. Retrieved from http://draxe.com/step-away-from-the-diet-coke/

Bauman, E. (2014) Foundations of Nutrition. Penngrove, CA: Bauman Press.

Bowden, J. & Sinatra, S. (2012). The Great Cholesterol Myth. Beverly, MA: Fair Winds Press.

Knoff, L (2014) Personal Communication.

Murray, M., Pizzorno, J., & Pizzorno, L. (2005). The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York, NY: Atria Books.

Wolfe, L. (2013). Eat the Yolks. Las Vegas, NV: Victory Belt Publishing.


DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a Registered Dietician or Medical Doctor. As such, I do NOT provide medical nutrition services, or diagnose and treat disease. Rather, I educate people on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle to improve their quality of life. I advise people with existing medical problems to consult with medical doctors. I shared evidence-based health information, whether to class participants, wellness counseling client sessions, or on this website.

Is Gluten Free For Me?

Gluten is one of the proteins found in several grains including wheat, barley, rye, bulgar, sometimes oats, and possibly spelt and kamut. There are several problems when it comes to digesting this protein. First, gluten is an inflammatory that damages internal organs and tissues. When a peglutendiagramrson’s body has a negative reaction to a food, the body sends out inflammatory molecules, cytokines, to identify the food as an enemy. The immune system continues to attack the enemy, which can cause damage in the digestive system. These cytokines also cause a great deal of damage in the brain (Perlmutter, 2013).

Furthermore, gluten is one of the few foods that can cross the blood-brain barrier. This barrier exists to protect your brain from things that are foreign. Because it can cross the blood-brain barrier, it can have a negative effect on brain function. Dr. William Davis (2009) examines studies that have shown ingesting wheat has been associated with worse symptoms with those diagnosed with ADHD, schizophrenia, and the autism spectrum.                                                                                                                                                           In addition, gluten also causes spikes in the blood sugar after it is consumed. The glycemic index is the extent of which a food raises a person’s blood sugar (and insulin) relative to glucose (glycemic index of 100). The glycemic index of whole wheat bread is 72, while the glycemic index of table sugar (sucrose) is 59, thus whole wheat bread raises blood sugar more than regular sugar (Davis, 2009; Pollan, 2013). Other physiological effects of gluten consumption include sleepiness after consumption and an increased appetite after consumption (Davis, 2009).                                                                                                                                                              Furthermore, the wheat that we consume today is not genetically or physiologically similar to the wheat of decades ago. The first cultivated wheat, einkorn, has only 14 chromosomes and produces a less stretchy and stickier dough that rises very little (Davis, 2011; Pollan, 2013). It also has a less appealing flavor than the current wheat strains. Current wheat strains, triticum, are genetically very different, having 42 chromosomes, and it produces a much higher yieldwavesofgrain in the field, and is elastic, pliable, and rises nicely, which is ideal for baking (Davis, 2011; Pollan, 2013).

Additionally, wheat causes an exorphin release (similar to endorphins, but originating from a source outside of your body) in your brain, making your body crave it the more you eat it. Digestion of wheat “…yields morphine-like compounds that bind to your brain’s opiate receptors. It induces a form of reward, a mild euphoria” (Davis, p. 50, 2009). This creates an ongoing cycle of eating wheat and craving wheat that can be hard to break.

Lastly, gluten is so prevalent in foods today that many people consume wheat without even realizing it. Besides the obvious breads, cereals, pastas, cookies, and cakes, gluten is also found in soy sauce, salad dressings, spice packets, cheeses, gravies, sauces, French fries, prescription medications, cosmetics and so much more (Perlmutter, 2013). It also has many aliases as well, including names like modified food starch, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, seitan, and textured vegetable protein, which are misleading and may be challenging to identify as wheat (Davis, 2009).

There is a wealth of evidence showing that gluten has many adverse effects on our health, you’ll have to decide for yourself, is gluten free for you?

DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a Registered Dietician or Medical Doctor. As such, I do NOT provide medical nutrition services, or diagnose and treat disease. Rather, I educate people on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle to improve their quality of life. I advise people with existing medical problems to consult with medical doctors. I shared evidence-based health information, whether to class participants, wellness counseling client sessions, or on this website.

Health & Hugs <3,



Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014). Foundations of Nutrition. Penngrove, CA: Bauman College.

Davis, W. (2011). Wheat Belly. New York, NY: Rodale Inc.

Perlmutter, D. (2013). Grain Brain. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.

Pollan, M. (2013). Cooked. New York, NY: Penguin Group.

Get off Gluten blog (2014, April) Flowchart of wheat retrieved from http://getoffgluten.blogspot.com/

Mitsides Group (2014, April) Image of wheat retrieved from


My Food Story

Welcome to my site! Here’s a little (well maybe a lot) about me.

I was born and raised in the south San Francisco Bay Area and I’ve lived here my whole life. I’m very much a California girl. I’m married to the coolest person – Jim Leadbetter. He pretty much rocks. We have two boxers, Jax, a boxer/cocker/lab mix, and Zoe, a fawn boxer. Dogs are pretty much the most amazing creatures on this planet and I couldn’t live without them. I’m currently a teacher. I’ve taught first grade for four years and fifth grade for four years. I recently accepted a position in my school district to be a TOSA (Teacher on Special Assignment). Basically I’ll be teaching teachers (TK-5) in my district and helping them to feel prepared and equipped to teach the new CCSS Math, while using our new math curriculum.

While I have a passion for teaching public education, in the past several years, I knew that I wanted something more. That’s when I decided to go back to school to become a Holistic Nutrition Consultant. I’m currently attending Bauman College. But let me back up just a little and explain how I became interested in nutrition in the first place.

In my junior year of high school, for my anatomy and physiology class, we went to the morgue. And while it was a cool experience, I left thinking, “those human muscles, look a whole lot like the meat I’m eating”. For the next eight years, I was a lacto-ovo-pesco vegetarian. Mind you, I was a carb-aholic vegetarian. This was not the healthiest time of my life. I’m not saying that there aren’t healthy vegetarians out there, but I wouldn’t place myself among them. I really didn’t miss meat much at all. I even worked at Outback Steakhouse for one year during my years as a vegetarian.

Around year seven of vegetarianism, I started craving of all things, pepperoni. In my head, I thought, “what?!?! is going on!! I didn’t really even like pepperoni pizza before becoming a vegetarian. It took me a full year before telling anyone that I was craving pepperoni (I was one of those sorta preachy vegetarians, you know, animal cruelty, CAFOs, etc.). My then boyfriend, Jim, and I were on a date at a swanky pizza place and he had pepperoni pizza. I told him, “I really want some pepperoni”. He was shocked and tried to convince me otherwise saying things like, “You won’t be able to wear you vegetarian t-shirts anymore”. But in the end I caved and had a half a slice of pepperoni. I can only describe the experience as the heavens above opening up and raining down delicious pork upon my tastebuds [insert inappropriate joke here]. I keep saying things like, “it’s so delicious and so spicy!”. There was no turning back for me. My friend Travis calls pepperoni my gateway meat. He is totally correct.

After that, it was slow going back into the meat world, but I embraced it fully and so did my friends and family. During my best friend Sarah’s, bachelorette party weekend in Napa, we went to Whole Foods to buy a wonderful assortment of beef jerky because that was the other meat I had been craving since reentering the meat eating world. Friends even called me their “meat-eating vegetarian friend”. HA!

While I was a vegetarian I read a lot of books on food production in this country. Some of my favorites include: The Omnivore’s Dilemma (I LOVE Michael Pollan and I often call him my Food Guru; AND this book was one of the other reasons I decided to eat meat again), Fast Food Nation, The Dirty Life, and Tomatoland. I started to realize that I really do have a passion and love for food.

Also shortly after I began eating meat, I took a weekend summer job working for a friend’s farm. Tomatero Organic Farm (based out of Watsonville, CA) needed part time help at the local farmers markets, so I thought I’d give it a try. When I first started working, I felt sort of useless. I didn’t know much about the stuff we sold: three types of kale, rainbow chard, fava beans, dandelion greens, beets, and three varieties of strawberries (who even knew there were three varieties of strawberries – not ME!). But after a few weeks, I got better at identifying the subtle differences between the berries and I began trying to sauté the greens or make kale chips or roast the beets. I LOVED talking about the nutritional benefits of certain foods and giving new recipe ideas out and also getting new recipes from customers.

Then my husband read The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferris. He started eating slow-carb, high protein, and veggie six days per week, with one “cheat day”. I was very resistant at first. I tried and failed at least twice before sticking with it. Once I stuck with it, I noticed weight loss, improved energy, and less sluggishness in the afternoons. But here was the big revelation: when I ate wheat on my cheat day (i.e. toast) I would get MAD heartburn and acid reflux. I had been experiencing acid reflux and heartburn since high school (notably when I ate muffins and pizza). I finally put all the pieces of the puzzle together: I had a gluten sensitivity. I went gluten free in July of 2012 and never turned back. I currently eat an 80/20 paleo diet (80% of the time “strict” paleo, ~20% cheat meals).

I started at Bauman in March of 2014. At the age of 31, in June 2014, I was diagnosed with Stage 2b Breast Cancer (DCIS – Ductal Carcinoma In Situ and IDC- Invasive Ductal Carcinoma). I underwent 6 rounds of chemo, bilateral mastectomy with immediate reconstruction, and 25 sessions of radiation. I also learned that I have the BRCA 1 mutation. I will have my expanders traded out for “real” implants this fall. Before age 35, I will have an oophorectomy (ovaries and fallopian tubes removed). Since my diagnosis, my nutritional focus has changed from eating well to look and feel well, to a focus on eating for survivorship, including eliminating toxins and preventing a recurrence. You can read more about my journey with breast cancer on my #teamklb blog.

Thanks for taking the time to learn about me, I would love to learn more about you. Let’s connect!

DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a Registered Dietician or Medical Doctor. As such, I do provide medical nutrition services, or diagnose and treat disease. Rather, I educate people on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle to improve their quality of life. I advise people with existing medical problems to consult with medical doctors. I shared evidence-based health information, whether to class participants, wellness counseling client sessions, or on this website.

Health & Hugs ❤