Friday, September 29, 2017

Can Being NEAT Improve Your Health?

NEAT freaks rejoice! Recent studies show that NEATness is more important than exercise to weight management and overall health. But before you trade your personal trainer for a professional organizer in the name of health, let me explain…


NEAT stands for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. That is the “science-y” way to say that we produce energy (thus burn calories) with activity outside of structured exercise sessions. Working, playing, running errands, doing laundry, etc.; all the “stuff” that requires movement during the day.


Weight/Body Fat Loss

Traditional “weight management” teaches energy balance; i.e., to control weight, our energy IN and energy OUT should balance equally most of the time. While this post will not get into how energy is calculated and the myriad of factors that make this seemingly simple formula anything but, energy balance requires consideration for weight regulation. This post focuses on the “Energy Out” side of the equation. Typically when we think of energy out, we think exercise. But there is more to the story:

ENERGY OUT = RMR + TEF + NEAT + Exercise

: Resting Metabolic Rate. The amount of calories (energy) your body requires to sustain life at rest. This is based on factors such as age, height, gender, and body composition.

: Thermic Effect of Food. The amount of calories (energy) your body requires to process and use food.

: Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. The calories (energy) expended for everything you do that is not resting, eating, or structured exercise.

: Any activity requiring physical effort and exertion with the purpose of improving or sustaining health and fitness.

As you can see from the formula above, activity makes up around 30% of total Energy Out, with NEAT activity comprising the majority! And as an added benefit for weight/body fat loss goals, this low-intensity daily movement prefers using body fat for fuel. This is why research suggests that people who move throughout the day are more likely to reach or maintain weight loss goals than those people who complete one vigorous exercise session per day but are sedentary throughout the rest of the day.

Energy – Physical and Mental

The law of inertia tells us that an object in motion stays in motion. We don’t need a physics lesson to prove this…we all have personal examples of renewed energy after simply getting up and moving around. Not only does NEAT activity use energy (burn calories and body fat) but this activity also promotes continued energy! In other words, the “NEAT-er” you are, the “NEAT-er” you want to be!

NEAT activities are also associated with enhanced mental clarity and energy. Take students for example. Published studies from several universities as well as the CDC show improved academic performance among students who regularly move throughout their school day. And cubical-caged corporate workers and freelancing creatives alike will tell you that simply stretching and “clearing your head” can renew focus!

Overall Health and Well-Being

Consistent daily movement also contributes to: lowered risk of diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic disease; improved sleep quality; healthier joints; mood regulation, just to name a few benefits. Bottom line, our bodies were created to move and NEAT activities help us function as designed.


In addition to being a Health Coach, I’m a Personal Trainer, so of course my answer is a resounding YES…but not necessarily for weight loss. Structured exercise has benefits far beyond what our bodies look like or weigh: improved mood, lowered risk of common lifestyle-related diseases, increased bone density, improved balance, improved cardiovascular and muscular fitness, improved immunity, and on and on. We can all benefit from smart exercise sessions targeted to our health goals. Just don’t rely on exercise alone for weight loss. And please don’t assume that your early morning session with your trainer gives you permission to be sedentary the rest of the day!


As always, I end with simple “Now What” Action Steps to use this post information to create health change in your life. This coming month:
  1. Become more aware of how much you sit during your average day…in the car, at work, on the couch, at a sporting event, at the PTA meeting, etc. If needed, journal this information to note patterns.
  2. Choose one specific area of your life to incorporate more NEAT activity. Don’t make it complicated…think simple! Office ideas: prop computer up and stand at desk, walk to colleague’s desk instead of email, pace during business meetings. Personal: park far from store entrance, take the stairs, pace in doctor’s waiting room, only check social media/answer texts/take calls while standing. Get creative and have fun with this!
Bottom line, being NEAT is great for your health! Remember this next time you fret about your errands, or your spouse complains about that “honey-do” list, or your kids whine about their chores. And if you feel self-conscious being the only one pacing during a business meeting, think of this: you may start a trend and be the catalyst for a NEATer world around you! 

Thanks for reading…now get up and move!

Coach Lisa

Wednesday, July 26, 2017


First things first. I know what you are thinking…that I don’t know how to spell. The ‘but’ I’m referring to in this post is not the butt that you sit on though; rather the small word ‘but’ that we often find in the middle of sentences to indicate opposing thoughts (e.g., I want to fly to the moon, but I don’t have a spaceship). This seemingly insignificant word is anything but (pun intended)! BUT’ is a goal-crushing, hope-squelching, confidence-zapping word that stops you in your tracks and inhibits further action. When it comes to health goals specifically, this is what it might sound like:

I want to exercise more often, but I don’t have time.
I planned on walking this morning, but it’s raining.
I want to eat healthier, but I love sweet treats.
I’d like to cook for my family, but I’m tired after work.
I need to get more sleep, but my kids keep me up late.

Read those sentences again. Out loud. Go ahead…I’ll wait. Did you notice your inflection at the end of each sentence? I’ll bet your voice went down and implied that there was nothing left to talk about. End of discussion. Hopeless. Maybe both of the statements in each sentence are true (you really want to eat healthier AND you love sweets), however the ‘but’ gives all the strength to the last statement and weakens the first. Just the opposite of what we want!

So…in order to give the power back to our original goal, we need to KICK our ‘BUT’ out of that sentence and replace it with a simple little ‘and’. Read this sentence out loud:

I’d like to cook for my family, and I’m tired after work

Hear the difference? First, the word ‘and’ doesn’t give either statement more strength than the other; you are just listing a few facts. Second, replacing ‘but’ with ‘and’ makes the sentence seem like an incomplete thought. You should have had an urge to finish the sentence by adding the tiny word ‘SO’ followed up with a SOLUTION, like this:

I’d like to cook for my family, and I’m tired after work, SO I will prep some meals on the weekend that will be ready to go during the week.

Kicking the ‘but’ and replacing with ‘and’ leads to ‘so’. Most importantly, ‘SO’ leads to problem solving; a solution; specific action. These easy edits give power back to your goal, and to YOU, which renews your hope, and strengthens your confidence! 

Now what?
As you may know, I end all blog posts with “Now What” action-steps because reading my blog with no implementation serves neither of us. Here’s your simple 2-step action plan for this month:
  1. Keep your ears keenly sensitive to the word but in all conversations; and in your own head!
  2. Practice kicking your own but, your spouse’s but, your constantly negative co-worker's but! Replace with ‘and’, then watch the ‘SO’-lutions appear.

Wishing you a “KICK-BUT” August!

Be More,

Coach Lisa

Wednesday, June 28, 2017


Who doesn’t love a good motivational quote? Whether it comes from Twitter or Grandma, there is no shortage of this concise wisdom designed to inspire and encourage. These quotes often put a smile on our face and warmth in our hearts. I post a quote of the week in my fitness studio, use an app that gives me a quote of the day, and often tweet and retweet my favorites. I don’t have a problem with most of these quotes; however…

There are a few popular quotes that I emphatically disagree with, especially as it relates to my clients who are doing their very best to create healthier lifestyles. Can you guess what gets me a bit perturbed about the following quotes?
1) Knowledge is Power!
2) When you know better, you do better!
3) Where there’s a WILL, there’s a WAY!

Did you catch it? These quotes suggest that what is in your heart or head will bring about your goals! As it relates to my business, these quotes suggest that health and fitness information and strong willpower will lead to success. Many of my clients come to me with low self-confidence saying, “I have zero willpower” or “I know what I’m supposed to do, I just don’t do it.” They feel incapable and incompetent at creating change in their lives. But it’s not their fault! What’s missing is the ACTION PLAN.

So let’s look at each of these quotes closer and create an upgraded version:

Um, no it’s not. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge advocate of education for sure! I wish I could be a full-time student or at the least, have a year to just read, because I really do have a love of learning. But there is zero power in knowing something. The power comes from putting that knowledge into action.

Upgrade: “Knowledge put into ACTION is power!”

Nowhere is this myth more evident than in the obesity rates and sedentary lifestyle of Americans. Despite the fact that there are more resources available to educate on and support a healthy lifestyle than ever before, the CDC reports that over 67% of Americans are overweight or obese and only 45% of adults engage in the minimum recommend levels of exercise. We do “better” when we outline specific action steps to put this information into practice.

Upgrade: “When you know better, you are responsible to ACT better!”

This quote suggest that if you have enough willpower, you can move mountains to create your dreams. In reality, willpower is a limited, fluctuating resource that is an unreliable source of “fuel”. Research shows that our willpower is highest in the morning and then diminishes as the day goes on due to all the tasks and choices we encounter (which is why late night snacking is so common). Instead, creating a clear objective and implementing specific action steps (the WAY) often leads to an increase in confidence and motivation (the WILL).

Upgrade: “Where there’s a WAY, there’s an increase in WILL!”

Now What…
If you’ve been following my blog you know that I now end all posts with “Now What” action steps because, as this post explains, reading the blog doesn’t do you any good if you don’t ACT on it. So, here’s your “Call to Action” this month:

Find a motivational quote that hits you in the heart…one that you feel was written just for you in this moment. Now move that quote from your heart to your head; fueled by the feeling the quote creates, decide on one specific ACTION STEP you can take this week to start to bring those words to life. For example, one of my favorites is “It’s in the giving that you receive.” I need to define exactly what specific “giving” I can do this week, to whom, and when. And then….do it!

So, keep reading and re-tweeting those motivational quotes as the world desperately needs encouragement and positivity. But then challenge yourself to “walk the talk”…


Coach Lisa

Wednesday, May 31, 2017


Wow, this is a busy time of year; for me and my clients. School just let out and even my most disciplined clients are struggling to balance their health and fitness goals with their summer routine. For me, family events (let’s just have a graduation and wedding all in one month, why don’t we…) and travel (…let’s throw in a mission trip too!) have me squeezing each precious minute out of each day. (One example is this month’s blog post coming out at 8:00 pm on the last day of the month!)

Typically, when we feel the “threads of life” unraveling due to these extra demands, we have the temptation to ditch our health and fitness plan, especially if it’s new and not a life habit yet. Why? Because our minds (and bodies) desire to protect us from stress and want to revert to anything comfortable and familiar. And if our health plan is not yet a habit, it’s still a bit uncomfortable to implement consistently. Let’s be honest, even if it IS a habit, it’s still hard to implement in the midst of chaos (speaking from experience)!

Any of this sounding familiar? If so, I have a quick lesson in SEWing to keep those threads from completely unraveling. During this busy period, focus ONLY on the health items below to help you stay on track in a manageable way, beat the odds of burn-out and weight gain, and feel your best until you can get back to the other elements of your health plan.

Adequate sleep is non-negotiable. Sleep will affect everything from food cravings to stress levels to productivity. I know…you are so busy you can barely shower, let alone get to bed on time. Just trust me…prioritize and PROTECT your sleep and you will be amazed at how much more effective and efficient you are with “all the things”. And, a lot more cheerful too! Again, sleep is non-negotiable!

Taking just a few minutes to nurture your spirit will also pay huge dividends. This will look different for everyone; meditate, pray, read, or practice any other behavior that provides a sense of peace and fulfillment. This can happen anytime; but to set your mindset for the day, it’s most effective in the morning.

The worst scenario during stressful times is to find yourself hungry. When the stress hormone cortisol is running high and we are physically and mentally exhausted, our body (in its desire to protect us) will crave quick energy like processed carbs. This sets us up for a cycle of quick energy followed by a crash followed by cravings, etc.

To counteract this biological response to stress, eat nutrient-dense REAL FOOD spaced evenly throughout the day to maintain blood sugar, energy levels, and keep cravings at bay. And keep food choices simple! A busy time of life is not when to try a new “meal-plan” requiring a list of ingredients, shopping trips, and recipes. Bottom line, choose a few favorite foods that you can pluck, pick, shoot, or catch (well, maybe not you, but someone) and minimize foods that come in a box, bag, can, or carton with a long ingredient list. Simple!

You may not be able to carve out an hour at the gym, so aim to walk whenever/wherever possible – 10 minute increments is all you need as the aerobic benefits are cumulative. Think movement, more than exercise. When life settles down, you can get back to your full training plan.

Let me state the obvious…water is essential to life! Our cells, organs, tissues all need water to carry out their functions. Water is a major component of blood and transports nutrients and oxygen throughout our bodies. Symptoms of dehydration include fatigue, headaches, dizziness, cramps, even cravings! Not ideal ever, but especially when dealing with added life demands. Make it a habit to have water with you at all times to keep your body running as efficiently as possible.

As promised, I’m ending all posts with “Now What” action steps because as much as I love that you read this blog, it doesn’t do you any good if you don’t ACT on it. So, here’s your 3-part “Call to Action” this month:
  1. Do one thing TODAY to improve either your sleep quantity or quality – turn in earlier, cut out caffeine in the afternoon, get rid of any light omitting device in your bedroom, etc.
  2. Pick 3 favorite real food items to always have on hand (and go buy them).
  3. Put walking shoes/socks and a reusable water bottle in your car so you are ready for a walk and water whenever/wherever.

I could do a separate blog post on each of the SEW items above (and maybe soon I will) but the point of this post was to provide SIMPLICITY in times of chaos. So, next time you feel like life is coming apart at the seams, you now know how to SEW in order to keep things together, prioritize your health, and ensure you feel strong mentally and physically to tackle whatever comes your way.


Coach Lisa

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The 5 Essential Kitchen Gadgets That Can Improve Your Health…all under $10! (AND the shocking confession of a health and fitness coach…)

At the risk of losing all credibility with my audience, I’m starting this blog with a confession. I have a Twinkies Maker in my kitchen. Now, to my defense, I bought it long ago as a novelty gift for my kids and I think the one and only time we used it was that day. Here’s the point…the market is flooded with kitchen gadgets, many of which lack nutritional benefits. So, I offer my recommendations for the 5 Essential Kitchen Gadgets that can actually improve your health…all simple to use and inexpensive.

Numerous studies indicate that most people grossly underestimate their daily food intake. Thanks in part to ever-growing restaurant portion sizes, we have a hard time recognizing a proper “serving”. A food scale will set you straight. I’m not encouraging obsession with weighing all food forever, but this is an essential tool at the start of a health journey to increase awareness of portions. And awareness is the first step to change. (Of course other measurement tools like spoons and cups are important too!)

You’re on your new health kick and you come home from the local farmer’s market with a bounty of colorful vegetables. And then a bit of panic sets in…now what? How should you cook them? Sound familiar? To maximize nutrients in vegetables, it’s important to minimize cooking time, temperature, and liquid, and a steamer basket fits this bill! Bonus: it’s super quick, easy, and mess-free! (Side note: I also use my steamer basket to steam eggs…they peel perfectly every single time! Here’s the link: ).

You must wash produce…this includes organic, homegrown, and even items with inedible skins (like melons). No matter how they are grown, bacteria and other contaminants can find their way onto the surface of that produce (have you seen people man-handling the produce at the store?). Tap water and a good produce brush is all you need. Skip the costly produce washes…studies suggest tap water can do just a good of job removing bacteria. A few tips: 1) Leave skin on produce like zucchini, cucumbers, apples, etc. to maximize nutrients and fiber. If you choose to peel, wash the produce first (this goes for inedible skins too) so as not to contaminate the inside when you cut into the skin. 2) Wash produce right before use…washing and storing ahead of time can cause items to spoil faster.

Cooking sprays are very convenient and make clean-up a breeze. But have you ever looked at the ingredients list? There’s more in that aerosol can than oil… soy, propellant, silicone, and a few other hard-to-pronounce ingredients, all of which are linked to negative health effects. Just as detrimental to health is the oil itself. Oils used in sprays include canola, soybean, corn, sunflower, safflower…many of which are genetically modified and highly refined. GMOs have been linked to too many health issues to list here. Better yet, create your own spray using an Oil Mister and pure oil. My favorites are Olive (organic, extra-virgin, cold-pressed), Avocado, and Macadamia Nut.

I’ll cut to the chase: Excess carbohydrates equals excess insulin levels equals excess body fat equals health issues like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease just to name a few. And one carbohydrate that is very easy to eat in excess is pasta! Did you know that one proper serving of pasta is about the size of your closed fist? Restaurant portions can be 4 times that amount! Not only that, but pasta contains gluten which is known to negatively impact gut and immune health. Spiralizer to the rescue! A spiralizer can turn vegetables into “pasta”! Although many vegetables contain carbs, they come with other nutrients and fiber, having less impact on insulin levels. Can’t give up pasta cold turkey? Try half and half to start – add some spiralized zucchini to a small portion of pasta.

HONORABLE MENTIONS (more than $10):
BPA-Free portable storage containers – In our fast-paced lives, we often need to eat on the go. Take control of your food quality, portions, and cost by packing your own meals and snacks. Having some portable storage containers on the ready will help you do so!

Slow cooker – A slow-cooker is the answer to the age-old question, “What’s for Dinner?” This item is essential for folks who are away from home all day and too exhausted (physically and mentally) to cook a nutritious dinner when they get home. Take a few minutes on a Sunday to look at your calendar for the week and decide on your “slow-cooker” days and (low-sugar) recipes. Added tip: always cook extra for leftovers!

If you’ve made it this far, you’ve read the entire post…thanks! I sure appreciate you reading but it doesn’t do you any good unless it promotes change. So most of my posts from this point forward will include "NOW WHAT" action steps. Here's your 2-part “Call to Action” this month...
1. Purchase at least one of the gadgets above and try it out in your kitchen!
2. Look at the gadgets you already have and get rid of at least one that you never use and/or has a negative impact on your health (goodbye Twinkies Maker!).

Healthy eating doesn’t take cooking classes, a degree in nutrition, or fancy tools. The simple tools and tweaks suggested above can have a cumulative positive impact on your health. Feel free to comment on your experience. And if you have a favorite gadget that is not mentioned, let me know!


Coach Lisa

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

What Does a Health Coach Read?

I love to read…sometimes to a fault; staying up too late (ironic…see book #1) or letting other things slide for the sake of “just one more chapter”! Reading can be educational, inspiring, entertaining, thought-provoking, or just relaxing. As a Health and Fitness Coach, I tend to gravitate to books in that genre and I find myself reading them primarily through the eyes of my clients; how would the tips, techniques, strategies, messages, etc. in the book resonate and provide value to them as they seek to create a healthier lifestyle?

To that end, I have compiled my TOP 10 MUST-READS for anyone seeking to improve their healthThe list includes books addressing key fundamentals affecting health such as sleep, stress, nutrition, exercise, spirit, and relationships. I suggest you scan the list and notice the one or two that jump off the page to you…that is probably an area that needs attention. Just be careful not to sacrifice sleep for reading….which brings me to #1:

  1. SLEEP SMARTER; Shawn Stevenson
    This book tops the list because quality sleep impacts all other aspects of health – mind, body, and spirit. Poor sleep quality has significant hormonal, metabolic, emotional, and physical consequences that will undermine even the best of health programs. The author has compiled extensive research to support and explain these claims and provides practical ways to improve your sleep starting tonight!     
  2. BETTER THAN BEFORE; Gretchen Rubin
    I refer to habits as “the magic pills” that everyone is looking for when trying to create a healthier life, and this book explains the core principles of habit formation. Both solid research and proven strategies on this topic are presented in an easy-to-read, entertaining format. You will find yourself resonating with every chapter.
  3. GOOD CALORIES, BAD CALORIES (or The Case Against Sugar or Why We Get Fat); Gary Taubes
    We’ve heard many diet theories over the years…eat low fat, eat whole grain, eat more fruit, eat only egg whites, just eat less, and on and on! This book sets the record straight on nutrition for optimal health based on SCIENCE, not popular opinion. This author challenges traditional diet recommendations and provides a convincing argument with solid evidence. The reason I’ve given a few alternatives is because ‘Good Calories, Bad Calories’ is an extremely comprehensive “text-book” on the matter; great for those in the field or who want a very detailed study. The author makes many of the same points in a more “user-friendly” format in the other two suggestions. Bottom line, these books affected the way I eat forever. That may sound over-dramatic, but it’s true. And I am healthier now than ever before.
  4. PRIMAL ENDURANCE; Mark Sisson
    This book may not resonate with everyone as the primary audience is endurance athletes, but I include it here because it challenges a conventional workout and nutrition approach used by both athletes and recreational exercisers alike; that of carbohydrate-dependent chronic cardio. The author, an elite endurance athlete himself, offers an alternative that has proven benefits, both for athletic performance and overall health. He proposes several strategies to conquer athletic goals while also preserving both short and long-term health.
  5. THE 5 LOVE LANGUAGES; Gary Chapman
    Why is there a book about LOVE on my list? Because having meaningful and supportive relationships is a critical aspect of health. We all are familiar with either “healthy” or “unhealthy” relationships and have felt the effects of either one on our overall well-being. Feeling loved is a basic human need and this author is an authority on the subject. He proposes that we each have a language from which we give and receive love. Understanding and speaking these unique languages can result in positive improvements in any relationship and, as a result, your health.
  6. POWER OF LESS; Leo Babauta
    When trying to change health behavior, simplicity is a key factor in our ability to adhere to new habits. Too many choices, goals, distractions, etc., can drain our time, our willpower, our physical and mental strength, and leave us overwhelmed and exhausted. This book offers common sense tactics for streamlining your life so you can focus on the essential, such as accomplishing those health goals once and for all! (Search Power Of Less in Amazon Books.)
  7. SIMPLE ABUNDANCE; Sarah Ban Breathnach
    Sorry guys, this one is strictly for the gals. Meant to be read over the course of a year, this book features 366 short essays from women’s perspectives all with the goal of helping us appreciate the joy, beauty, and simple pleasures in our messy, imperfect, and demanding lives. I first read this book over 20 years ago at a time when I was juggling work, marriage, and a new baby and chronically exhausted, both emotionally and physically. It was so impactful that the original copy still holds a coveted spot on my nightstand, as I refer to it often.
  8. JOURNAL; you are the author!
    Journaling is an instrumental part of my health coaching practice for many reasons. Writing things down provides awareness and clarity, boosts self-confidence and self-discipline, can help control emotions and stress, and increases probability of reaching goals, among other benefits. As part of a health program, a journal can be used for practical purposes such as keeping a food log and tracking health habits, or for more emotional benefit, like recording gratitude and spiritual insights. You can buy them blank or with some structured journal prompts built in. This is one of my favorites: And if you aren’t currently a fan of journaling, here’s a book suggestion that might just change your mind:
    I recommend getting engrossed in a fictional book series for a few reasons. First, there is a therapeutic benefit to unplugging from our everyday lives and “entering” a world far from our own reality. Second, reading fiction is good for brain health, sparking imagination and creativity. Finally, on a practical front, if you are reading (I recommend at night, in bed), you are not succumbing to late-night snack cravings or watching mindless TV (which often include snacks and can impact sleep…see book #1 above). I recommend a series because it will help you build a habit of reading. Choose a series from your favorite genre, just make sure it has little in common with your life (e.g. if you are a lawyer, don’t read a fictional law series…the idea is to unplug from your reality).
    This is obviously a very personal topic. It’s my opinion, and that of a growing body of evidence, that spiritual practices are associated with better health and well-being through the physiological effects of positive emotions. Regular spiritual practices in various forms (prayer, devotion, meditation, faith services, etc.) can quiet the mind, increase gratitude, elicit hope, relieve stress, promote joy, and on and on. No matter your beliefs, these benefits can provide a strong foundation on which to build your healthy lifestyle.

And there you have it! My top 10 MUST-READS for anyone trying to improve their health. If you have a favorite that you think I should know about, please comment!

Be Well!

Coach Lisa

Sunday, January 15, 2017


As a follow up to my December blog, A Health Coach's Guide to Unique Gift Giving, I'd like to share my TOP 10 PANTRY STAPLES, all of which I get from Thrive Market ( A Thrive Market Membership earned a spot on my gift list because this online, membership-based market provides top-quality products for your home, body, and kitchen at a fraction of the cost you’d pay at higher-priced natural markets, making healthy living affordable!

Combine these pantry items with some grass-fed protein, omega-3 rich fish, cage-free eggs, avocados, mostly green veggies, and coffee (for me at least), and life is both nutritious and delicious! I’ve included some helpful links so you can do your own research as you consider adding these items to your kitchen.

STEVIA – While not a “health food” per se, I’m putting this one first because sugar is highly addictive and, at the risk of sounding overly dramatic, deadly. In a future blog, I’ll discuss my favorite books, a few of which take a deep dive into the addictive response and health hazards of sugar, but for now I’ll say this: If you want to improve your health substantially in 2017, reduce your sugar intake. And stevia can help you meet that challenge because let’s be honest, we need some sweetness in our life! Stevia is my sweetener of choice because it is a natural herb that is 30 times sweeter than sugar with a low glycemic index, having minimal impact on blood sugar. You can find it in powdered or liquid form.

GHEE – Ghee is clarified butter, which simply means that the milk solids and water of butter have been removed, leaving only butter fat. This may not sound healthy, but there are many benefits to ghee. Dr. Axe has a great graphic to explain: In short, ghee gives you the taste, creaminess, and richness of butter but without the lactose or casein, making it a great option for those intolerant of dairy. It’s also rich in fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K: all great for bone, brain, and immunity health.

100% CACAO (either powder or baking bars) – Full disclosure…this girl needs her chocolate! The great news is that raw cacao is considered a superfood, full of nutrients that boost your mood, immune system, and brain power. With raw cacao in your pantry, you can create your own chocolatey treats and control the other ingredients, using stevia, coconut, nuts, nut butter, dried fruit, etc., instead of the sugar and milk added to most processed chocolate. There are endless recipes online; here’s one of my favorites: 

BONE BROTH – In my opinion, bone broth is an underpublicized, unknown superfood. Low in calories and high in nutrients, bone broth provides health benefits for every part of your body: your muscles, joints, ligaments, digestive system, brain, and more. To get these benefits though, plain broth products will not do. Most are lab-produced and are not made with the health containing bones. More info on the benefits of bone broth can be found here:

COCONUT MILK – The benefits of coconuts and coconut milk include improving heart health, preventing disease, lowering bad cholesterol, fighting infection, improving brain function, hydrating, and more. The most notable advantage of coconut milk is its high concentration of MCTs (Medium-Chain Triglycerides), a healthy fat which provides energy, reduces joint inflammation, and helps to manage blood sugar. Coconut milk is a highly nutritious, dairy free alternative to use in your favorite recipes. (You’ll also find coconut oil and coconut flakes in my panty; coconut in some form is in my daily diet.)

HOT SAUCE – Life needs a little kick! Hot sauce contains capsaicin, a compound that is linked to many health benefits from naturally suppressing your appetite to preventing prostate cancer. My favorite hot sauce brand is Cholula, and I use it on everything from eggs to burgers.

AVOCADO OIL – The benefits of olive oil have been well publicized, but if you’d like to change things up a bit in the kitchen, try Avocado Oil. Avocados contain those “healthy” omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients which have numerous health benefits such as lowering bad cholesterol, lowering blood pressure, easing arthritis symptoms, improving bone density, and providing antioxidants. Avocado oil is so versatile…you can use it to bake, sauté, or on salads. Read more here:

CHIA SEEDS – We can all sing the jingle from the infomercial promoting the Chia Pet. Who knew that the subject of this novelty gift is a superfood? This tiny seed packs a powerful nutrition punch with omega-3’s that support hearth health and fiber for digestive health. Use them to bake, in salads, or my favorite way…to make pudding. Here’s just one example:

ALMOND OR COCONUT FLOUR – One of the kitchen staples of an American pantry is flour. Yet traditional flour contains gluten which has been shown to cause a wide range of negative symptoms from digestive discomfort on one end of the spectrum to auto-immune reactions (celiac disease) on the other. Whether you have been diagnosed with gluten sensitivity or not, minimizing gluten in your diet is wise. More info can be found here:  So, if you’d like to embrace a gluten-free way of eating but still want to bake your favorite recipes, Almond and Coconut flours are the answer! High in fiber and other nutrients, you can feel good about using them in all your favorite baked goods like breads, cakes, and cookies.

TURMERIC – This unassuming spice is possibly the most powerful herb on earth with thousands of studies showing its effectiveness at preventing, treating, and even reversing disease. Turmeric’s main active compound is curcumin, a proven antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. The powder form not only adds a unique spice to anything from eggs to soup, it can also help tame heartburn and calm an upset stomach.

So there’s a peak into my pantry and a few reasons why these products earn a spot on my shelf. This year, aim to replace one less-healthy pantry item with one of these suggestions each month. I’ve given you enough for 10 months…you can add two of your own. And if you use Thrive Market, you won’t need to break your grocery budget to do so!

Be Well!

Coach Lisa