Back on Track (May 2015) with Sharon McKenzie

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“Olive Oil Offers Unique Cardiovascular Protection” – LifeExtension Aricle Review


LifeExtension published an article in their April 2015 issue that we just had to share with you. Time and again studies have shown that olive oil is a healthy fat and here is more science to prove it…

“Olive oil has been pinpointed as a major source of the cardiovascular benefits long associated with a Mediterranean diet.1,2 A recent study of a healthy Mediterranean population showed that olive oil consumption accounted for as much as a 44% reduction in cardiovascular deaths compared to those who didn’t use olive oil…..The benefits of olive oil not only come from its rich profile of monounsaturated fatty acids, but most likely even more so from the natural compounds, including polyphenols, that olive oil maximally possesses when unrefined.

Studies have shown that polyphenols in olive oil, including hydroxytyrosol, can help reduce oxidation of LDL cholesterol, thus helping to protect against atherosclerosis. Olive oil polyphenols have also been found to increase HDL cholesterol levels and improve its ability to remove cholesterol from arteries for transport to the liver and eventual elimination through the bile.

Adding another layer of cardiovascular support, polyphenol-rich olive oil has been found to improve the function of the endothelium of arteries, increasing release of nitric oxide, which signals blood vessels to relax and helps lower blood pressure. Research also suggests regular intake of high-polyphenol olive oil may help reduce requirements for blood pressure medication.

Because olive oil is a natural product, its polyphenol content is dependent upon a number of factors such as the age of the olives used, growing conditions, processing conditions, soil, temperature etc. Since extra virgin olive oil is the first pressing and uses the finest olives, it is assumed that this type of oil contains the highest polyphenol content.”

(Source LifeExtension’s Article: Olive Oil Offers Unique Cardiovascuclar Protection”)

Read the whole article HERE.


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Tara Firma Farm Tour – sign up today!

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Cooking with Herbs

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Author: Healthy Steps’ Nutritionist Lindsay Pasdera (more on her blog HERE)

 Health Benefits of Cooking with Herbs

  • Herbs are amazingly concentrated sources of antioxidants (cancer-fighting and anti-aging compounds). Even a tablespoon of chopped herbs added to your meal adds a big dose of antioxidants to your day.
  • Like all plant foods, each herb contains a unique set of phytonutrients with a range of health benefits including anti-inflammatory properties and better blood glucose & blood pressure regulation, all of which lower risks of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
  • Herbs are essentially calorie free, yet add amazing flavor to food.
  • Cooking with herbs creates dishes with more complex and intense flavors. This stimulates the brain in a way that we get more mental satisfaction out of less bites of food. For example, I enjoy both plain scrambled eggs and scrambled eggs with herbs. Even though they’re both delicious to me, I naturally eat less bites of the herb version. The intensity and complexity means I’m satisfied with less. Try this out for yourself with your favorites–it works!

Cooking with Herbs

If you haven’t played around with herbs much, it can be intimidating to get started. What herbs go best with what dishes? Here’s some tips for those of you new to cooking with herbs:

  • Parsley- Chose flat-leaf Italian parsley. Rinse and chop finely. Add as the finishing touch to sauces and soups. Or tie whole stalks of parsley in a bundle with thyme and a bay leaf and drop in when you begin simmering soup or stew (remove the bundle, or “bouquet garni” before serving the soup).
  • Basil- Basil can be added early in the cooking process. Simmer chopped fresh basil (1/4 cup) & a bit of chopped fresh oregano (1 TBSP)  in your tomato sauce for authentic Italian flavor.  Other dishes are great with uncooked basil: add chopped basil to your green salad for a pleasant surprise, layer between sliced tomatoes and fresh mozzarella for a delicious Caprese Salad, or sprinkle over finished dishes before serving.
  • Thyme- Pairs fabulously with chicken or pork. Add a bit to your eggs or toss with your vegetables before roasting. Pull the thyme leaves off any tough stems by pulling the stem through two fingers. Chop the tender leaves and add at the beginning of cooking.
  • Rosemary- Has a strong flavor that always reminds me of fall and winter. Amazing with lamb, turkey, potatoes, or to make flavored oils or butters. Rosemary and garlic make a great team. I love rosemary garlic olive oil: add 6 cloves of garlic (cut in half lengthwise) and 1 TBSP chopped rosemary leaves to 3/4 cup olive oil in a heavy bottom sauté pan over medium-low heat. Stir often. As soon as the garlic becomes golden, remove the garlic and throw it away. You now have garlic & rosemary infused olive oil!
  • Dill-Use fresh to add interest to sauces for fish or chicken. Pairs well with dijon mustard and lemon. My mom makes a great “double dill” potato salad: chopped dill pickles and chopped fresh dill mixed with boiled new potatoes, chopped celery, crumbled hard boiled egg, mayonnaise and dijon.
  • Tarragon- The French use tarragon a lot. I love it’s subtle licorice flavor. Pairs beautifully with chicken, as in my favorite: shallots, grapes and chicken in a tarragon cream sauce. Ooh La La!
  • Oregano- Classic Mediterranean flavor. Oregano is potent, so add a small bit of chopped fresh oregano leaves early in the cooking process. Adds authentic flavor to your Italian tomato dishes or your Greek protein dishes. One of my favorites is marinating shrimp in lemon, olive oil, garlic and oregano for Grilled Greek Oregano Shrimp.
  • Chive- Chives offer a lovely delicate onion flavor, and should be added fresh at the end of preparation (the flavor of most delicate herbs is lost in cooking). I love chives in my eggs, but classic chive pairings include creamy tangy items like goat cheese or sour cream, added to herb butter, and mixed in chicken or potato salad.
  • Sage- A classic in Thanksgiving stuffing, Sage is a staple in my kitchen all autumn. It pairs beautifully with onions (sage & onion stuffing), apples (apples, onion and sage are great with pork), and I love it with autumn’s squash: butternut, acorn, pumpkin, etc. One of my fall favorites is homemade butternut squash soup over cubed fontina cheese and then topped with fried sage. Autumn in a bowl


For Lindsay’s “Lemon & Herb Pork Tenderloin – click HERE! Here is your first chance to cooking with more herbs!

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“Mediterranean Diet Cuts Risk of Heart Disease Nearly in Half” – CBS News

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A recent study out from CBS New states that closely following the Mediterranean diet can significantly lower your risk of heart disease, possibly by 47 percent. Heart health, management of diabetes and control of hypertension and inflammation have been proved to be direct benefits of those following the diet.

What the Mediterranean diet consists of: fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, fish and olive oil.

For more on this article, click HERE!

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8 ways to drink more water – Article from Honestly

Honestly recently wrote an article called “8 Ways to Drink More Water” regarding ways to spice up your plain old water into something tasty and refreshing with added health benefits.


The Honest Blog recommends the following mix-ins:

  1. Cucumber & Pomegranate: helps with managing stress and bloating
  2. Strawberry, Basil, & Lemon: helps boost immunity (and is super tasty)
  3. Blueberries & Orange: promotes healthier skin and helps clean free radicals out of your system
  4. Grapefruit & Rosemary: tastes like a fancy cocktail infusion, but has tons of vitamin C which helps your body turn fat into fuel
  5. Pear & Ginger: aids in digestion
  6. Blackberry & Sage: supports total relaxation
  7. Pineapple, Orange, & Mint: helps stabilize blood sugar and reduce inflammation
  8. Raspberry, Mango, & Lime: aids in disease prevention

*For more about this article and a video, click HERE.

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Walk with the Doc- SPRING 2015

An all new season of Walk with the Doc is about to start up!! Join Dr. Robert Woodbury and Nutritionist Ashley for a day in the park to walk and do some exercise or stretching.

Mark your calendars for the following dates:

[ March 26th,   April 23rd   &   May 28th ]

Time: 5:30 – 6:30 PM

Meeting Spot: Howarth Park trailhead, off of Summerfield Road, Santa Rosa; meet at the upper lot


Phone: 707-546-7900


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New Article: WSJ- “Weight Loss or Not, Exercise Yields Benefits”

Screen Shot 2015-02-16 at 9.49.22 AMThe Wall Street Journal recently wrote an article called “Weight Loss or Not, Exercise Yields Benefits“.

This article is a great reminder that no matter the scale you still need to exercise.

Avoiding junk food and establishing balanced meals will help with your physique but working out will help to keep your weight stable. Some exercise is better than nothing. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a brisk, 20-mininute walk daily can extend one’s life expectancy.

Secondly, a UCLA study as well as the Mayo Clinic found that the best way to lose weight and keep it off is to make realistic, long-term changes in your diet and exercise regularly.

For more goodies in this article from the Wall Street Journal, check out the full article here. 


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Love Doesn’t Have to Involved Food…

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Article Review: “8 Ways to Show Love that Don’t Involve Food”- Diane Sanfilippo

In Diane’s article, she reminds us that often we are programmed to love others with food, and Valentine’s Day seems to be no exception for that. You’ve heard the phrase, “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”. Well how about this Valentine’s day you start a new tradition? Why not show your loved one how much you care through avenues other than food?

Her are some great ideas for gift giving without the calories:

  1. Frame your favorite picture.
  2. Share a talent (sing, play music, dance, etc).
  3. Give hugs and kisses.
  4. Take on one’s burdens and do their chores.
  5. Create a collage and clip photos with your favorite memories.
  6. Listen and have a conversation with your loved one.
  7. Spend quality time with one another, this way many more memories can be made.
  8. Express yourself verbally by telling others you love them.

For more particulars regarding this article and words of wisdom, check out Diane Sanfilippo’s blog HERE.

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Article Review: “The Energizer Body”


Article Review from Real Simple Magazine: “The Energizer Body” written by Virginia Sole-Smith

“Your metabolism keeps your heart beating, your blood flowing, your brain thinking and your muscles moving. Is it any wonder it doesn’t want to be rushed? Here’s the skinny on the way this stubborn system works, and how you might be able to speed it up- in spite of itself.”

Your metabolism is like the gas you place in your car, you need the fuel to be converted to kinetic motion so that you can drive. Likewise, your body uses calories in food to perform various life-sustaining functions. But unlike your car ,which you turn off and the remaining gas sits in your tank until the next time you start up again, your body uses excess calories to create fat stores in your belly, thighs and eventually elsewhere.

Unfortunately there is no way of flushing excess calories from your fat stores and allow you to speed up your metabolism BUT by making lifestyle changes you can give it a bit of a boost.

  1. Get sleep at night. 4 hours is not going to cut it. Studies from International Journal of Endocrinology state that when study subjects slept just 4 hours per night for 6 nights in a row, the rate at which their bodies processed calories from glucose dropped by 40 percent. Getting sleep at night charges up your metabolism, so sleep!
  2. Short bursts of exercise throughout the day are what your body craves. To help increase your active metabolism without a spike in your appetite, break your exercise into smaller and more frequent periods of activity.
  3. If you go overboard when you are eating add a 45-minute exercise regime to help by 75% to keep your blood sugar levels stable (University of Bath, England).
  4. Snack and then snack. Don’t wait too long between meals to eat. Eat a little bit throughout your day.
  5. Quit the diet soda; go for sparkling water. New research on artificial sweeteners suggests that diet soda may blunt your body’s ability to process sugar and throw off you metabolism too.
  6. Consider protein at each meal. This is sustenance to your body and will keep you fuller longer.
  7. Lay off the fried foods and the sugary items. When you consistently consume too many high-sugar and high-fat foods your metabolism will get in the habit of storing the extra as fat.

For more about this article, read Real Simple Magazines Feb 2015 Issue article called “The Energizer Body”.


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