Exoskeletons look better on bugs

BugHello Darlings,

LaDiva here.

I recently had one of kids I work with give me that “You don’t know me” look.  And I thought, “You are probably right.  But, you don’t know me either.”

For those of you who have read much of this blog know that I work at a residential treatment facility for teens with anger management issues.  Most have been sent by the court because their families and caregivers can no longer handle them and the violence that surrounds their lives.  Most have been through many therapies or other facilities that feel this child needs more help and structure.  So, they are sent to us.  We house and feed them, have a small school so they can continue their education and offer individual and group therapy.  We work on creating better coping skills, reuniting with family whether foster, adoptive or biological and give them support to develop a better life.  These kids know the street and their amount of trust in people who look like part of the system, like me, is minimal.

Later, on my drive home, about 2 hours, I was thinking about this kid’s face.  He was so sure of my reaction, of how I would be intimidated and how hard he would look to me to show I am oblivious to his emotional state.  In his mind, if he looks tough enough I will back down out of fear.  But I saw it differently.

Most people will tell you I am very fun and have no problem being the center of attention.  But I used to be a small, fearful observer of life with a hard exterior – like a bug.  I wore my skeleton on the outside to protect all the terrified mush inside.

Now, I am still small and fearful, but with experience I know that having mush makes you human.  The ability to show some of my mush shows my strength.  That’s what I wanted to show my tough friend.  What I want to share with the world is more than feeding people healthy food.  I want to feed inspiration – being able to inspire people who were like me.  The idea that my inspiration stops at chocolate pudding is frustrating.

Sometimes I look at these kids and I think, Feed off my insecurities, my screw ups, my life lessons.  And I know that these kids and other people who are going through their own exoskeleton lives would feed on it because I am honest and open about what I have done and what was done to me and what I allowed to be done to me.

I know this because I used to feast off others who had the honesty and openness to tell their stories of screw ups and life lessons.  That let me see that I was not alone or stupid or any worse a person than anyone else. That allowed me to put my bones and nervous system back under my skin.  Skin that is more pliable, softer and took far less energy to move through life.  Feasting off others’ stories allowed me to do what I now want for this kid – The chance to re-write his own.

What are you?

2014-04-10 07.25.00Hello Darlings,

LaDiva here.

At a dinner for a civic group, of which I am on the board, I met someone new.  Instead of introducing myself, a colleague introduced me as a dietitian and plant-based.

Now the fun begins.

The new friend begins to tell me that they don’t eat that much meat.  I am now trying not to look bored and interested in their meal choices.

Here’s the scoop:

I am a vegan2013-07-30 13.43.39
I am a woman
I am a mother
I am a gardener
I am a business owner2013-02-02 14.18.55
I am a cook
I am a skier
I am a film professional
I am a car driver
I have traveled around the world
I am a liberal with a libertarian streak
I am an actress
I am a home owner


I am a wife
I am a guitarist
I am a teacher
I am a sister
I am low maintenance
I am an author
I am a backpacker
I am a companion pet to my cats

All of these things are a part of me.  They all define a part of myself.  None of is all of me.  When we meet, let’s not start with one that makes you feel uncomfortable.  When we meet, give me your list and I promise to discuss whichever one you want.


Cooking Demo Ultimate – Forget the food


The only photo from the demo featuring my better side.

Hello Darlings, LaDiva here.

Yesterday I had the ultimate cooking demo.  It was for a FAB fundraising group.  This was their regional conference and they hired me to be the comic relief.  Of course, I was NOT going to disappoint so I got two LaDiva dancers to come along and the Incredible Mr. Fitz.

Since it is nigh on Mother’s Day, I decided to make some dishes someone could use to avoid the restaurant scene.  Mom’s day is the WORST day of the year in a restaurant.

The demo has three recipes: Almost Fatless Flapjacks [brunch], Insta’ Party Bean Dip [cocktail appetizers] and Vital Vanilla Creme [dessert].  I would tell the group to fill in the dinner course with take out.

The dancers were new to the LaDiva gig, but they were smart and enthusiastic.  The day before I filled 75 goodie bags with a business card, LaDiva button, 1/4 page advertisement about my book with blurbs of the reviews by authors, Victoria Moran, Dr. Neal Barnard and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame guitarist, Lenny Kaye as well as 2 ginger snap cookies I had made that morning to give it a ‘homemade’ touch.  These were sealed with a LaDiva sticker thanking the receiver for coming to the demo.

All of the equipment was labeled with the recipe for which it was needed – spatulas, skillet, 2 food processors – down to the smallest detail.  All the ingredients were measured out into containers also labeled as to which recipe needed them – 2 types of flour, baking soda, flax meal, black beans, salsa, silken tofu, vanilla extract, sugar, 2 different containers for salt used in 2 different recipes, etc.  You name it, it was labeled and coordinated.  Everything that could be packed was packed the night before.  I showed the dancers the food and the equipment and explained the recipe codes when they gathered at my house. They would only have to put their recipe’s components on the demo table.  I had three crew people and three recipes.  Easy-peasy.

Earlier in the week, my music was sent to the fundraiser AV staff along with my photo for the screen which would be behind me.  I wrote when the music would be used for the program.

While at my house, the dancers learned the dance and how to throw leis at the crowd, got their costumes and we left.  We got to the venue at 1:38pm for a 2:30 show.  All we had to do was meet the AV guy and set up the demo table.  My makeup was on and I just needed 5 minutes to get ready.  My male dancer was already dressed and the female would take about 5 minutes.

We ran through the sequence of intro, music, dancers, my entrance and exit with the AV guy – Arnold.  Arnold showed me where he had my music cued and said that he was excited to see the cooking demo.  The introducer, Mr. Introducer, was charming.  I even had a separate room across the hall from the event in which to change.  I told the crew to start setting up and I left to set up the dressing table.

That’s when it hit me.  Where was the food?  That’s right.  In packing the car, we had taken everything from the kitchen, but by-passed the refrigerator on the back porch where the ingredients were twiddling their thumbs ready to go.

Panic set in for about 10 seconds.  “Mr. Fitz, what time is it?”

“Two o’clock.”

We had 30 minutes to get food.  Could I buy it?  Where was a store?  Okay, there were no samples going out so could I get food that LOOKED like our ingredients?

I told Mr. Fitz to set up the equipment table and I would think of something.  I went out to the hallway to see if anyone could tell me how close a grocery store was.  Then, I saw a hotel server and stopped her in her tracks.

“Hi, my name is LaDiva Dietitian.  I have a food demo in 25 minutes and I have no food.  Do you have any beans, like black beans on your menu?”

“Wow, no food?”

“No.  But maybe you have something in your kitchen.”

“Okay, come on in the kitchen.”  She wasn’t sure what to do with me, but whatever I needed was not in the hallway.

She introduced me to a manager, “This woman needs some help.”

“I’m an event manager, how can I help you.”

“I have a cooking demo and I forgot all the food.”

“Well, I’m sure we can help somehow.  I can set up a meeting with our chef and we can see if we can sort anything out.”  She was very nice and manager-y and I truly appreciated her intent, but was not the conversation I needed.

“Um, I have this cooking demo in 25 minutes, so I don’t really have time to set up meetings.”


Just then, Jared the Wonderful, passed by.  “Jared, could you help this person?  She has a cooking demo and need some things from the kitchen.”

Jared is a chef that should be from a surfer community.  He was very laid back and said,”Yeah.”  I began to tell him my plight.  He not only said yes to having legumes, he opened a #10 can – one of those big, industrial-sized suckers for me.  Then, he asked the prep cooks about leftover salsa.  Insta’ Party Bean Dip – Done!

Next we had to figure out the pancakes.  He had a pancake mix that we could put in bowls to look like flour, then some small ramekins with salt, salt to represent sugar, high protein gluten flour to represent flax meal, an actual small amount of vanilla extract, an empty bowl to be my “magic” bowl with all other ingredients that I needed, but was for the moment forgetting.  Now, silken tofu?  He was at a loss.

I said, “Do you have any vanilla pudding?”  Close enough for jazz.

I, quickly, amassed my goodies on to a full sheet tray and walked into the event ballroom.  Except, that I didn’t know how to get out of the kitchen.  Oh, and, the tray was astonishingly heavy.  I finally found a door to the hallway, but it had a door handle that had to be turned.  Balancing the tray on one knee, I steadied it with one hand and used the other to turn the handle.  I flung it open about 10 inches, turned my foot into the open space and slammed the door into my foot in to keep it open. I put my knee holding the tray down.  Turning my torso towards the door, I used my other foot to open it enough to get my leg through.  My rear end bumped it wide enough to get the tray through.

The Incredible Mr. Fitz had the table set up and figured out how I could use the extension cord for all three electric pieces of equipment.  Great!  This was going to move right along.

I grabbed the female dancer and told her to come with me to get dressed.  We whipped ourselves into shape and I sent her to get my mic and tell Mr. Fitz we were ready to ROCK!!

She returned with the mic pack and left to get ready for the music cue.  We bad!

That’s when we found that he speaker who was before the food demo decided to give the War and Peace version of his slide show about water.  Now, I like water as much as the next person, but at 2:30 I had risen above all challenges and was prepped for launch.  The dancers had the plastic leis on their arms, wigs on, but no where to go.

So, I stood in the hallway learning about – and I do appreciate what this guy does – water filtration in third world countries via watching through a crack between the double doors.  For 20 minutes.  Having no idea when he would run out of slides of various world leaders exonerating his program and the wonderful things it did for their nations.  Oh, but wait, there is another president.  And another prime minister.  And this is how much cash the group, for whom I was being paid, could raise for this very useful filtration project.

I should have been interested.  I should have thought, “How amazing that this project is doing so much good in the world.”  But I kept thinking, “Dude, I have one crew member who has to leave at 3pm for another gig, and two people who know nothing about breaking down a cooking demo and the skillet behind you is getting hotter by the second even though it is on medium HEAT.  I hope it doesn’t start smoking.”

Finally, Mr. Filtration realized what Tolstoy did, that even War and Peace had to end. Cue the applause.  It is now 3pm.

Mr. Introduction takes the stage.  I can’t really hear what he’s saying, but I know it is about me.  The dancers are by the doors ready to start as soon as Arnold hits music.  Mr. Introduction finishes, AND… nothing happens.  Finally, through some freak of nature, Arnold starts the music.  The dancers start throwing leis at the folks at the tables and encouraging them to get up and dance.  The crowd thinks this should be an after lunch polite chat.  Zumba was at 1pm.

Then, I come in with more energy than the Sun and get folks on their feet.  YAY!  We all swim and back stroke and then hold our noses and pretend to go underwater.

“That’s great everybody.  Let’s get started.”  All of us applaud ourselves to the music playing. The crowd begins to sit.  And the music keeps going.  I finally look at Arnold and give him the international-“Cut the music”-hand-slicing-across-the-throat-sign.  The music stops.

I decide to be honest with the folks about the lack of demonstration ingredients and they laugh.  This is a good sign.

“How many of you have worked in a restaurant?”  A few hands go up.  “What is the worst day to work at a restaurant?”  One woman pipes up, Mother’s day.  Another good sign.

So, I start into my spiel hoping I won’t forget anything really pertinent because I don’t have the recipes with me.  I use the ingredients to remind me what goes into what, but those ingredients are at home in the back porch refrigerator.  Snickering at me.

The pancake batter is going swimmingly.  People are giggling when I use the same white powder for flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  They are really listening when I am describing the need of fiber in the diet and how it works with diabetes.

Everyone smiles or laughs each time I sing out “I want to keep My Girl-ish Fig-ure!”

Then, poof, I have ready-made batter to pour in the skillet, [mixed up by Jared the Wonderful, I told you he was wonderful], from a little pitcher.  The skillet which I turn off because it starts to smoke.  Then, I realize I have no oil for the skillet and the batter I have just poured onto the skillet is going to stick like crazy.

I blather on about how you can decrease the sugar on pancakes by mashing fresh fruit with a little bit of maple syrup.  This compensates for the inevitable berries that are over-ripe or just not good tasting.  Everyone plays along with me when I ask them to put on their “pretend hats” and see the blackberries in this empty plastic bowl.  Then, I begin using a real potato masher to mash imaginary berries.  I get so caught up in pretend-land, that when I am done talking about the berries and mashing them, I tap the masher on the side of the bowl as if there were berries stuck to it.  No one noticed.  Yay team.

Then, I have to get the pancake off the skillet.  Comedy ensues, but I manage to wrestle it on to a plate.

Next is the bean dip, easy because I have bean and salsa.  Slide right through the information about legumes and blood sugar stability.  And on to Vanilla Creme.

This is really going well.  I finish the vanilla creme with miming smooshing a strawberry in the creme and eating it.

I give a shout out to the LaDiva Dancers.  I give a shout out to the Incredible Mr. Fitz.  I turn to Arnold.  “Hit it, Arnold.”

Arnold is nowhere to be seen.  In fact, there is NO ONE at the sound board.

Do this with me.  Let your jaw drop and leave your mouth open for 10 seconds.  While your mouth is attracting flies, think about the fact that you have no idea on how to get off this stage.  You don’t have a pithy tag line.  You don’t have anyone else to thank.  You can’t grab anything to eat or hand out as you leave.  You have just blown the momentum of the entire demo.

Close your mouth and move on.  “Wow, so thank you so much for coming to this.  Ta-ta, Darlings.”  Grab your boa and shake it around your shoulders viciously as you leave the stage and head for the door.

Oh, you forgot to tell everyone to get goodie bags as they leave.

Now it is time for a martini or a hot bath or 75 stabs from LaDiva buttons followed by 150 cookies.  Screw your girl-ish figure.





4 Tips on Spotting BAD Research

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 1.03.09 PM

When is a study NOT worth reading?


LaDiva here – Totally annoyed!

Here is an article about NEW Fascinating research important about kids with cow milk allergies having bone problems.  The original article is from Pediatrics magazine, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.  Please open it and read along.

  1. Scary Headlines – Here’s the articles headline: Cow’s Milk Allergy in Childhood May Lead to Weaker Bones: Study

    What you may miss is the subtitle:
    But one expert contends that difference in bone density wasn’t enough, on average, to worry about fractures

    So, what is the point to this article?  Or what does one person’s opinion mean?  What should I look for in this article?  You should look for the supporting evidence that clearly states that my kid, or kids I know, that have cow milk allergies will have weaker bones or may have weaker bones later in life.

    Scary titles are a red flag for me.  This usually means I will have to read between the lines to figure out what is really being said.  A prime example is “Butter – Great Again!”  This was completely flawed meta-analysis research.  Please contact me if you want the skinny on it.

  2. Be clear on what is actually being studied or compared.
    Here’s the first paragraph:
    Children who are allergic to cow’s milk may have weaker bones than kids with other food allergies, a small study suggests

    Ok, in the first paragraph the writer totally backpedals.  The kids may have a bone problem, but only when compared to kids with other food allergies, not most kids.  So, what does that mean to the kids I know?  I have no idea.
  3. How many people?
    Then, the article continues with “small study suggests”.  Again, this is a suggestion, not an actual truth for the average kid.  So, for how many kids?  This is a small study, but how small?  52 kids.  Yep, that’s it.  So, 56 kids studied have this problem.  Oops, I’m wrong.  Only 6% of 52 kids.  That’s 3-4 kids.  THREE or FOUR KIDS?  Why is this even making news?  This data would not even qualify you for a graduate term paper much less a published article in an internationally recognized journal.
    Alright, I’m just jealous.  Anyone know the submission protocols for Pediatrics magazine?  I need some cash and am going to publish my own study.  I work with kids in a residential treatment facility.  There are at least 10 out of a 100 kids where I work that are allergic to tomato sauce.  This is a bigger population than the milk study and would be classified as a more “Robust” study.  Tomato sauce contains lycopene.  Lycopene decreases risk for heart attack and different cancers. If I tested for inflammation [there is a biomarker we test for to show whether there is inflammation in the body] in these kids, I would probably find it increased.  Increased inflammation is one risk factor for heart disease.   If I published this as a study the headlines would be:
    Tomato Allergy in children may lead to increase heart disease: Study
    But, what about what else is going on in their diets and lives?
    Absurdity on wheels.  But I will cash the check and do the book tour.
  4. Does the methodology of the study make sense?
    How long did they study these kids?  For 5 years?  10 years?  Did this condition persist?  That would possibly mean something.  Nope. Testing was done once.  Now, the kids did have lower bone mineral density, but bones need 17 nutrients to be built.  This just talks about calcium intake.  What about the other 16?  The study mentions that Vitamin D levels were taken, but we have no idea what they were.  The article only states that the intake [which we don’t know if that was from 1 day or 4 weeks] was lower than recommendations.
    Here’s another statement from the article:
    Long-standing cow’s milk allergy in adults has been linked to reduced bone density.
    Um, many studies of Asian and African women, prior to urbanization, who have many children and have no cow milk source have great bones.  Where is evidence to support the article’s statement?
  5. Are the outcomes repeatable?  This means that you should be able to find other studies doing, basically, the same thing showing the same result.  Okay, “study suggests” is part of the original article language.  So, we are not to take this as established fact. On the other hand, what can we take away from 3-4 kids?  FYI, Kathy Doheny [writer of this], repeats the idea of low calcium intake is equated with negative bone health.  I have two thoughts on this:
    1. Where the most amount of calcium from cow milk is drunk or eaten is also where there are the highest incidents of hip fractures.  Part of my evidence is this little study from Harvard where they looked at milk consumption in the teen years for 96,000 people for 22 years.  In fact, an article from the British Medical Journal including many, many participants showed that the galactose [sugar found in cow milk (“gala” is Greek for “milk”)] led to increases of all causes of mortality in women and men, especially those drinking 3 glasses a day.
    2. The study researchers state that these 3-4 kids had low bone mineral density, however, they DID NOT have low bone density.  There is a profound difference.  The kids bones appeared just fine.  And there is a mountain of evidence, including my cited studies, that cow milk or calcium supplements do not support older bone health.  The World Health Organization recommends around 350 mg of calcium daily for kids, not the over 900 mg stated in the article.  Kids can absorb that amount of calcium from legumes, vegetables, nuts, seeds and fruits.

Not everything in this article is terrible.  Luckily, it’s short.  I’m glad Ms. Doheny cites someone saying this doesn’t amount to much.  It’s great that she gives some alternative sources for calcium. However, she doesn’t mention that tofu, collard greens and bok choy all have more absorbable calcium than cow milk without the galactose complications. She does mention that cow’s milk is fortified [has added in] with Vitamin D because cow milk does not come with Vitamin D.  Other milks are also fortified.  Any milk that has Vitamin D will equally supply the kids.

Now, Darlings, I know that Ms. Doheny is NOT a researcher, but if she is going to take on the role as science expert she should know how to report on what really counts.



The New Slave?

National Constitution Center

National Constitution Center edifice


Happy New Year!

The first weekend of the New Year found me at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, PA.  Perfect for a cold, damp, rainy day.

Truly a fantastic place filled with interesting facts about how and why the American Revolution happened.  For a fact wonk like me, heaven on earth.  In addition to the permanent exhibit detailing and exploring the full document, was an exhibit about Thomas Jefferson and his home/plantation, Monticello.

Monticello was Jefferson’s experiment in architecture and agriculture.  But one can also learn a great deal about the mentality of that era and how it is still reflected today.

On the grounds of Monticello were 200 enslaved people.  Within the exhibit is a large sign in naming most of the enslaved that were born or bought, worked and died on the premises.  Many names are repeated for various workers, including several John’s and three Sukey’s, plus more Sukey’s with variety of second names.  People with names no one remembers who had little to no hope of being in charge of their own destiny due, mainly, to circumstances beyond their control.

The signers of the Constitution were smart, caucasian, male, land and business owners.  Many believed that the entire economy, not to mention their own wealth, would collapse if slavery were abolished.  What would happen to their inferiors – women, the poor and non-whites?

At the time of the revolution, 1 in 5 citizens in the colonies was enslaved.   Currently,1 in 5 US citizens goes to bed hungry, 1 in 31 citizens of the United States is on parole, probation or incarcerated, 1 in 3 has a criminal record, 1 in 2 homeless are under the age of 18.

Signers of the Constitution

Signers of the Constitution

If you have read this blog you will know that I work in a small residential treatment facility for teens with “anger management challenges.”  That’s the politically correct or let’s-keep-positive-at-all-times term for problems.  They and their families are represented in the statistics listed above.  Many encompass all categories.  What are we doing, as a society, to give these folks hope for a better future?

I am a big believer in the idea that I am in control of my destiny, but I had help.  I was not born in poverty or had to live with multiple families because my parent, the one not incarcerated, couldn’t keep a decent roof over my head.  I never had to figure out how to get to school from a new homeless shelter.  I never had to go to bed hungry as a child or without a winter coat, albeit my coat was a hand-me-down.  I was never sexually abused as a child or beaten into submission.

What is the long term outlook of those who have grown up with these “challenges”?  When the kids I work with made posters of occupations they would like to have, the jobs were: bereavement counselors, hair and nail stylists, parole officers, therapists, lawyers and basketball players.  Where were the doctors, nurses, pilots, actors, writers, business owners, teachers, real estate agents, chefs, journalists, mechanics, welders, engineers, hospitality professionals, architects, scientists and designers?

These kids see themselves as a cog somewhere within one of the fastest growing businesses in the country – the prison system.

The United States has, by a wide margin, the largest amount of its own people in lock up.  Being at the Constitution Center, I read this incredible, historic document put together to govern a country, not by rule of a family or separate section of the populace, but by the people as a whole.  The difference of 1700’s slavery and 21st century poverty is apparent.  Yet, we share the same percentage of the citizenry who have little notion of liberty to pursue their happiness.  Now a paycheck deems where they live, what foods they can eat, life expectancy and future possibilities, or lack thereof.

Even though Wall Street is having a huge resurgence, the notion of increasing the minimum wage is shunned because it will “put businesses out of business.”  Again, the wealthy few breed fear of a collapse in the economy for the majority of minimum wage workers – women, the poor and non-white.

Is this the modern form of slavery?

You gotta LUV the Squirrel People


I have really mScreen Shot 2014-11-05 at 3.19.37 PMissed you.

There is a new business is town, Corporate Wellness and I’m gettin’ me some of the cash.  However, it comes with traps such as, let’s work a million hours and not keep up on blog.  It also leads to questions such as, are the pearls of wisdom coming out of my mouth making any difference?

For the last few months I have been a Health Educator for one of these companies.  The pay is okay, but the work can be grinding.  Some company pays our company to come in and do “health screenings” for their employees.  Sometimes there is a cash incentive for the employee to have the screening done and sometimes not.  Sometimes the cash is only for the salaried employees.  Sometimes the company just raffles off something to screening participants not cash oriented like a small backpack with a company logo.  This does not appear to generate the enthusiasm conceived by the corporate head honchos.

Screenings consists of height, weight, waist circumference, finger stick for cholesterol, HDL [happy cholesterol], LDL [lousy cholesterol], triglycerides and glucose levels.

Then, I, the illustrious Health Educator, reveal all the meanings of life or at least the meanings of your results in less than 5 minutes.  Move’em in, move’em out.  For some companies, the employees are fairly well educated and understand my Readers’ Digest version of how to turn a lousy result into wellness nirvana.  Then, there are the Squirrel People.

I’ve spent a lot of time in rural areas, and I really respect the people I’ve met, but I realized how sheltered I am not having cable TV, watching ads about food, drink and pharmaceuticals and sitting doctors offices reading back issues of People or Prevention magazines.

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Squirrel unimpeded by flashy food ads. Still fits on tree branch.

In contrast, many of the wage-earning folks of these companies located off Highway to Nowhere, America buy into everything on Dr. Oz and the Cartoon Network.  The amount of medication taken is astounding, especially from folks extremely cautious about owning a cell phone or having an email address.  Astounding because the drugs have so little effect and are peddled out with so little education of how they actually work and how you can take care of yourself.  This is where the squirrels come in.

I cannot remember the percentage of folks in the obese weight range who denied they were anything other than”Big Boned”.  Everyone told me, “I eat bad”, like I had put up a confessional when I set up the table and chairs, but resolved to continue with their current regime  and swallow the pills.  When asked about physical activity the answer was, “hunting”.  There was no understanding that sitting in a tree or blind for hours on end really didn’t consist of much activity and there was no cognitive connection with their “kill” and gout flaring up.  Here’s a sample discussion-

What do you eat or drink after you wake up?


Then what happens?

“I go to work.”

Do you eat anything there?


What kind?


What does that mean?



“You know Honey Nut Cheerios.”

What makes it healthy?

Blank stare.  “I don’t know.”

Anything to drink with that?


What’s the point to the gatorade?

“What do you mean?”

If you are doing heavy work in a hot environment you can lose some minerals and stuff from your body that is really important, but you can replace it fairly easily.  Are you working that hard?

“Gatorade is good for you. . . or that’s what everyone says.”


Then, what happens?


What’s for lunch today?

“Ham and cheese sandwich.”

Anything on it?


Anything else?

“Maybe an apple.”

Anything for a snack?

“Maybe a bag of chips.  Sometimes.”

Then what happens?

“I go home.”

Do you have dinner?

“Yes, pork chops.”

Anything else on the plate?

“Vegetables.  I don’t eat carbs.”

How many vegetables?  Is it like this? Make small bowl with hands. Or this?  Spread arms apart like a casserole dish.

“Like this.”  Hands scooped like 1/4 cup.

Any dessert?

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Same size as vegetables eaten for entire day.


Do you know that every vegetable is mainly carbs?


Did anyone explain to you the connect between gout and game meats?


Has anyone explained to you the use of fiber foods and whole grains to help with your high cholesterol?


How long have you been on Lipitor?  Crestor?

“Five years.”

Fiber can help with cholesterol and also constipation, if that is ever a problem.

“Oh, I take Metamucil every day.”

Did anyone tell you that by having more fruits during the day you may not need Metamucil?


Gatorade is high in sodium.  Not having enough water in your system can also make you constipated.  Do you think you could swap out half the gatorade for just water?

This person is WAY into the obese category.  Their cholesterol is fairly high, and according to them, they eat about 800 calories a day.  That’s when I ask if they drink alcohol.  Of course, 90% only have, maybe one or two drinks a week.  I am amazed at the hundreds of people defying biochemistry and gaining weight on 800 calories a day and being at least 5 feet 7 inches.  I’m around 5 feet 5 inches and can’t make it through the day on less than 1200.

Here’s another problem.

When is the first thing you eat or drink?

“That depends.  I do swing shift.”

Swing shift means you work all the shifts for about one week each.  So your schedule is constantly changing.   This week you start work at 7am, in 12 days you will start work at 5pm, then in another two weeks you may be back at 7am or onto nights and start at 11pm.  This wreaks havoc on sleep, gastrointestinal health and the cohesion of a family.  But these are the only jobs in town that have benefits.  No one is going anywhere.

Screen Shot 2014-11-05 at 3.23.18 PM

At least squirrel can see the trap.

There I am counseling a few hundred people at 5 minutes each on how to turn around these trends that are the heart of our national state of disease.  What am I really doing to help them and their families?

They need an onsite program that changes the entire community’s dynamic. We need to support time parents need with their kids, support long term health and educate on basic nutrition needs even if it includes squirrel stew.  It needs to be around for at least 5 years to make any long term impact.

Of course, there was one gentleman who was explaining how he dealt with his rotundity.  As he was sitting in the chair next to me, he explained.

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Couldn’t leave you with just the “kneading” image. Here is nice, healthy squirrel.

“I get into my bathtub in some nice hot water.  Then, I massage my fat.”  He began to demonstrate on his stomach.  “I massage the fat so it breaks down.”  He is slowly kneading fat through his fingers.

” That’s how I am getting rid of it.  But, I don’t know if it scientific or anything.”

Just thought you might want to know what I’ve been up to.

. . . and now about the rest of us

Folks at my local farmers market

Folks at my local farmers market

Hello Darlings,

LaDiva here.

Okay, do you live next to one of those “Every ingredient in the World” grocery stores?  Or the “Everything organic and overpriced” joints?  Well, I don’t.  In fact, a lot of people don’t.  I live an hour from anything remotely resembling this.  How about the “Whole Paycheck” market?  Or perhaps the local, “No one that buys here wears anything by organic cotton” store?  Not me.


Encore! Eggplant Cutlets with a local marinara

When you view, and I hope cook along with, one of my video recipes you will notice that I have boring basic ingredients you can find at most grocery stores in the US.  There are a couple of spices or items that are a little exotic, but 1] I point them out and 2] they are rare.  

I cannot stand the game many folks who want to be earth-friendly play that I call, “How Vegan are You?”  


Lean Bean Sandwich Machine

Have you ever been in a conversation with intelligent, nice people, and then someone says, “I had those new black bean burgers at a barbecue last week.”  Then someone else says, “That company is owned by ConAgra.”  Then some other brilliant conversationalist chimes in with, “Well, actually the original owners sold out to ConAgra to start an animal sanctuary in Tahiti when feral snakes are being rounded up for boots made by exploited child workers in Asia.”  And finally, this gal pipes up with a piece of info she has been trying to inject into a chatter of healthy, holistic, horse manure for a month, “Yes, but the owners are cutting down palm trees to make way for the animal sanctuary and displacing the local farmers creating an economic crisis for most of the surrounding island population.  Didn’t you get the email and sign the petition?”

Now the guy that mentioned the new burgers decided to try something other than the planet-killing, artery clogging death slabs or so called by his veggie-fascist sister-in-law who will only graze on his lawn for “real foods” at family get-togethers.  So, do you think he is ever going to mention or try anything remotely like that again?

Look kids, you may eat chia seeds for your health, but the carbon footprint on them is enormous if you live on the eastern seaboard.  Same goes for agave nectar.  Where I live maple syrup is made a couple of miles away.  That’s what I buy.  Okay, that is not all I buy, but it is the major sweetener in my foods.  The people who process the sap have never sang Kumbaya and do not dye their own t-shirts.  I shop at the local grocery store which has an organic section and some other organic products.  My priority is to tell them that my dollars will support local farmers and local produce.  Please bring me more so I can purchase more here in town.


Insta Party Bean Dip on Pepper with Olives

Most of the folks who live around me do not make 6-figure incomes.  And they are the ones using much of our healthcare dollars because they do not understand what foods are readily available, healthy, cheap and easy to make.  And they don’t have a personal chef to do it for them.  Until recently, insurance coverage did not include nutrition counseling.  Now it does, at least a few times a year with a registered dietitian.  These low 5-figure folks were my target audience when I started making my videos and teaching cooking classes.  There are lots of customers at the “Wholier than thou” shopping extravaganzas, but I am looking for volume to change our national health needs.  That’s who will tip the balance of power in the food processing and marketing sector.


Our local flower girl

So, I lift my cheap, non-snazzy can of seltzer to all the ShopRite, Aldi, Piggly Wiggly, Hy-Vee, Food Lion, Food Chopper, Kroger, Albertson, Fred Meyer, Meijer, Tom Thumb, Sav-a-Lot folks who just need to know bean burgers are a great first step.  Feel free to contact me when you’re ready for the next one.  I’ll be grazing on the free organic stuff in your lawn.

Click here to subscribe to LaDiva Dietitian’s monthly video recipes.

Two ears and one mouth

Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 6.24.46 PMDarlings, LaDiva here.

Just got back from the North American Vegetarian Society’s Summerfest.  This is a 5 day veg affair in Johnstown, Pennsylvania for everything vegan or raw.  It is where everyone in the plant-based food land launches their books, hangs out and gives presentations on nutrition, environment and activism.  I think even mosquitos are safe here.

I gave 3 presentations – You’re Not Dead, Yet; Why do I have Stubborn Belly fat when I do a Million Crunches a day?; Pregnant? Vegan? FAB! – and was part of a panel on raising vegan kids.

At this conference dietitians [RD-registered dietitian] are royalty.  Which is a good/bad thing.  Great that people respect you enough to ask questions, bad if you want to eat hot food or meet friends.  But I am with the creme of the dietetics world – Brenda Davis, RD; Jill Nussinow, MS, RD; Mark Rifkin, MS, RD; Juliana Hever, MS, RD; Dina Aronson, MS, RD and Myriam Parham, MS, RD and I know I am leaving other folks out.   Then there are the MDs.  Well, who really cares about MDs?  Their wives, and don’t get me started on male MDs telling us all how to eat and cook for families!

Anyway, there I was listening to everyone talk about their book deals and festivals.  And I had nothing to say.  Mainly because there was so much great information about publishers, book deals and other folderol that I have never dealt with.  One RD looked at me and said, “Are you okay?  You’re not saying anything.  You are so calm.”

Well, I was calm and also overwhelmed by the fact that all these people were doing thingsLaDiva outside cooking demo Sanctuary I want to do.  And I was fairly clueless as to how to get into their league.  I felt like a teenager allowed to sit at the adult table. They have “people” like publishers, book designers, literary agents.  I do goofy dancing on videos and LUV immersion blenders. So, I decided to be a sponge.  Also, to use my 2 ears and 1 mouth in that proportion.

Later that day, I ran into one of my esteemed colleagues.  I told them about my email to the publisher for my book because it had been months with no communication.  The publisher did respond to my “maybe we don’t have a fit” email.  They said that they are still interested, but they aren’t picking up anyone’s book at the moment.  My colleague said that they knew this publisher had a reputation of dragging their feet.  My colleague gave me some good advice – Publish it yourself.  I nodded, not totally in agreement.  I mean who wants to do ALL the work?

They said, “The publisher is going to take a large cut.  They are dragging their feet.  You could put together the book as a PDF, sell it, put up the cooking videos yourself and keep all the profit.  Why are you going to wait to make money and then give so much of it to someone else?”

It did make sense, but what about getting me out on a publicity tour?

They said, “Book yourself.  Sell some books.  Get some good response.  Then, go to someone, a publisher, when you have sales to show your worth and have them together the print version.”

For a split second I felt stupid, like I should have known that.  But, then I thought, how cool that these folks think of me as a peer.  There was no “please, god, don’t let that LaDiva person sit at our table.”  There was an expectance that my book would be worth reading and that my presentations would be interesting and well-researched.  One of them even said, “I want to be you!”  And I thought, no, you don’t.  That made me think, maybe I don’t want to be them, either.  But I don’t think I’ll mention it.

One mouth and two ears.  That’s what Abraham Lincoln was thinking when he said, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”


Why don’t journeys have escalators?


ImageOpened my season of cooking demonstrations June 7th with the next June 14th.  My mustard sauces were a big hit and the vendors told me they saw an increase in sales.  FAB!  I use ingredients from as many vendors as possible for my cooking demos.  The point is to have customers LUV a recipe and then be able to take all the yummy fixin’s home with them.  The bok choy gal sold out.

So, I’m feeling pretty good.  Then, I read a note from myself, posted in March, in my calendar.  Today is the day I have to write to a possible publisher for my book, You’re Not Dead, Yet and find out if they are going to #%& or get off the pot.  Now, this is not some schlump publisher.  We had many emails about my book and they were very positive.  They had lots of good questions about where I was going with the material.  I knew they had actually read the chapters and other recipe materials I had sent.

In speaking to a well-known book author, I was told that the publisher has had enough time to make a decision.  They need to make a deal or let me move to the next step.  I thought about it and agreed.  Time to jump without a parachute, again.

Most of my life and successes have been things I did by myself or I was the reluctant leader.  I was so hoping that some professional person would edit my material, hold my feet to the fire and show me how to get this done.  Doesn’t look promising.  Also, I need to have something to sell at cooking demos, conferences and other events.  The real cash is in product, not speaking fees.

I have a big conference coming up, The North American Vegetarian Society Summerfest.  This is where you go to learn all things plant-based.  I learned more there in 5 days than my whole year in grad school about biochemistry and nutrition.  The audience is WAY smart and will ask the most detailed questions.  They also buy product.  Thus, I thought my book would have a release date by now and I could get a pre-sales going.  Not going to happen.  I am putting together a one-day Summer Cooking Intensive at the LaDiva studio kitchen.  That is one thing to sell, but these people buy books.

It is true that I have not heard back from my email of “Maybe we don’t have a fit” to the publishers.   On the other hand, if history repeats itself, I will be self-publishing, creating an E-book, figuring out how to link videos, designing covers and whatever else it takes.  I’m almost finished with the first draft of the entire thing.

I do want to roll my eyes, exhale and say, Who really cares whether I do this or not?

What I was running to during the last 1/2 mile

What I was running to during the last 1/2 mile

Then that annoying voice says, You wrote it.  Publish it.  Who cares if no one buys it.  You can say, just like when you finished the marathon, I did it and I don’t ever have to do it again.  You are going to get older, anyway.  You are going to write other stuff, anyway.  Get it done anyway.

Gee, I can’t wait to get on another untraveled road to possibly nowhere.  But I won’t know if I don’t put on my walking shoes.

Here’s a sigh and a nod to Maya Angelou, Wouldn’t take nothing for my journey now.