Category Archives: Health

Easy Guilt-Free Appetizers

I’ve come to face the fact that my talent does not lie in the kitchen. I can put together an outfit in 30 seconds but cooking does not come intuitively to me. Getting creative with food and spices in the fridge leaves me overwhelmed and stumped. Anyone else with me here? The good news is,  ANYONE can follow a recipe and that’s why I’ve enlisted the help of my friend, Jackie, from Main Line Yummies, to guide us through a few easy to make guilt-free recipes that will take us through the holidays and beyond.  Crabmeat stuffed mushrooms, Polenta Rounds with Pesto Chicken and Roasted Red Peppers, and Smoked Salmon Canapes …. they look fancy but are easy to make (thank you, Jackie!) and more importantly, they taste DELISH!

Smoked Salmon CanapesPolenta rounds with pesto chicken and roasted red peppers

Click THIS LINK to be directed to Jackie’s blog where she shares all the recipes from this shoot … she breaks it down and makes preparing a breeze because AHEM, she had ME to deal with. Let us know if there are other guilt-free recipes you’re curious about. Jackie is a master in the kitchen and can whip up another recipe for us. You can also find other amazing recipes on her blog from pastries to hearty winter meals!

Stuffing the mushrooms with crabmeat and spices …. see how Jackie made me look like a pro?

*After our bellies and our hearts were full! Thank you, Jackie, for creating these recipes for us and for hosting a fun shoot! Until next time …

To get the recipes on Jackie’s blog click HERE


Ask The Expert: Karen Vonderhaar, RD

Everyone can agree eating healthy is good for you; it can reduce your risk of certain disease, prevent vitamin and mineral deficiencies, promote growth and healing, and just make a person feel balanced. Based on my personal and professional experience – it is hard. I know if it was easy I would need to find a new line of work.

Karen VonderhaarHi, my name is Karen Vonderhaar, Registered Dietitian, Certified Nutrition Support Clinician, and self-proclaimed food therapist. That is what I do 100% of the time; at work with my clients, home with my family, and always front and center for myself. My passion for healthy food and its impact on our bodies has been in the forefront of my life for more than twenty years. I have been blessed with the opportunity to work with an awe-inspiring client base as a civilian Clinical Dietitian for our U.S. military and their families for most of my career. My days are filled with a variety of counseling challenges ranging from service members needing to meet their weight requirement, heart-healthy nutrition education to prevent worsening heart disease, or participating in a multidisciplinary team helping our inpatient population. My diverse client base goes from preterm infants to the elderly and everything in between. My strengths are found in the emotional side of eating. Why do we create unhealthy habits and how I can help someone find a new relationship with food?

My dear lifelong friend Alison asked if I was interested in sharing my knowledge, experience, and everything I have learned from raising a family with her blog friends. Our girl Alison is always inquiring about current nutrition developments and how to do best by her health while I pester her for fashion advice. We stick to the old fashion barter system.

All or nothing has never been my motto, but rather making gradual and sustainable adjustments to eating habits, lifestyle, and physical activity. I am an advocate for using research and evidence to build interventions which will help my clients become successful while understanding we are human, with human errors. Diving into the concepts of mindful and intuitive eating during a counseling session are the most useful in developing permanent change. These will make for great topics to address in the future.

yogaNutrition is the backbone of my success with fitness. It has allowed me to train and complete two marathons, countless half marathons, Ragnars (200ish mile relay race), and an ultra marathon. My doctor and I are pleased with my cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and healthy body mass index (BMI). I do have challenges – these come in the form of my children. They are not exactly perfect eaters and require daily encouragement to select an apple or yogurt instead of chips.

Like any 10-year-old boy or 12-year-old girl, they are exposed to the good, bad, and the ugly when it comes to food. My goal is to teach them how to build a foundation of healthy food and fitness habits and learn moderation with the not-so-healthy habits.

Please reach out with any topics of interest you would like to see tackled here. I’m here to answer questions you may have about health, eating, exercise, and everything in between. Do you wonder if counting macros is the way to go? Or if the Keto diet is really good for you? Are you curious about how to train for a marathon or  how you will get enough protein if you go vegan? I’m here for you…so ask away!

Cheers to 2018, a year filled with healthy food, good fitness, and plenty of belly laughs!

In good health,

Lets Talk Sunscreen

Sunscreen.  It becomes our second skin in the summer months.  Aside from it being the most important product you will put on your skin to protect it from aging, it is the single most critical step in preventing skin cancer.  This is not news to most of us.  What you may not be aware of is the astounding amount of chemicals found in most sunscreens today.  It is alarming and, quite frankly, irresponsible for many popular brands (yes, even those brands which tout an “all natural” ingredient list) to put these so-called chemicals into the very product we’re applying on our entire bodies. *The EWG recommends that we avoid sunscreens which have oxybenzone yet many of our sunscreens contain this chemical. The EWG also states that “several common chemical filters appear to be endocrine disruptors”. Great.  Just what we need. It’s MADDENING!

The solution? (Cue the chorus of angels) A NON-TOXIC, non-irritating, physical blocking sunscreen from Beauty Counter.  It contains non-nano zinc oxide and titanium oxide, which sit on the surface of the skin and physically bounce or reflect sun’s rays away from the skin, hence the term “physical blocker” (ie: it does not get absorbed into the skin). It is broad spectrum, which blocks both UVA and UVB rays. It is the ONLY mineral sunscreen we’ve tried that actually rubs into our skin and leaves no white residue.  After wasting a lot of money on other mineral sunscreens which made my entire family look as though we had just smeared Desitin all over our bodies (talk about annoyed young boys), I nearly gave up. Then, my friend recommended Beauty Counter. I have to admit I was skeptical based on my experience with so many other “natural mineral sunscreens” but I decided to give it a try anyway. And I’m glad I did.  I have never purchased another sunscreen since (aside from a tinted sunscreen from Skinceuticals, which I will highlight in a future post). These three Beauty Counter products will be mainstays in our beach/pool bag, my car, and even my husband’s golf bag … I have them stocked everywhere! See links below for easy ordering.  I have all 3 of the products on hand at all times but if you’re looking for a place to start, I would order the tube and face stick.

Sunscreen Mist

Sunscreen Mist Travel Size

Sunscreen Lotion

Free Product with every $125 purchase

Protect Lotion

Body Sunscreen Stick

Face and Travel Stick

Below is a list of additional Beauty Counter products that I can not live without (unrelated to sunscreen). It’s important to note that Beauty Counter is a non-toxic company, who is committed to a health and safety standard that goes well beyond what is legally required in the US. Their “Never List” is made up of more than 1,500 questionable or harmful chemicals that they will NEVER use in their products.

Charcoal face wash bar

Makeup remover wipes

Rosewater Facial Mist

Peppermint Lip Balm

*Link to the EWG article 

**I am not a physician and I am not offering medical advice.  It is important to check with your doctor before using a recommended product.

**Please follow instructions on sunscreen label.  Sunscreen should be reapplied every 2 hours and after swimming for extended periods of time and/or toweling off. Always follow the detailed instructions first and try to stay out of the sun between the hours of 10:00 am-2:00 pm.

Detox and De-Bloat After The Holidays

“The Holidays”.  I’m fairly certain we all have good intentions when these two words roll off our tongues at the beginning of the season. “I’m going to do better this year,” “I’m not going to eat as many cookies or drink as much wine,” “I’m going to work out (yeah,ok) through the holiday season”. Yes. I will. Until your Mothers delicious, soft, nutty cookies (we call them Kolachki’s in our family) are staring at you from the cookie tray and you hear a little voice in your head that says, “it’s only once a year I see these bad boys in a cookie arrangement”. And off we go. On a wonderful, terrible, glorious, glutinous, supremely enjoyable, get on our stretchy pants joyride. And it feels so good…until it doesn’t.

How can we go from laughing and giggling our way to the cookie jar, wine bar, prosciutto bar, or whatever bar to feeling defeated and, quite frankly, jiggly, after seeing our mid-sections, backsides, and love handles blow up like balloons in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Well, don’t panic. Not yet anyway. We’ve all been there, we can all relate and I, dear friends, am here to tell you that it’s not as bad as you think. I have a few quick and easy remedies that have helped me debloat and detoxify my body many times before.  You can try all of these or a combination of a few.  Two of the most important factors for me while de-bloating is cutting down on salt and dairy (dairy has an adverse reaction in my body).  The absolute most important thing, in my opinion, is DO NOT drink alcohol while detoxing your body.  Makes sense, right?

1. Upon rising every morning, drink one cup warm water with fresh squeezed lemon juice. Drink a full 8 ounces before eating or drinking anything else. Lemons aid in digestion, have anti-inflammatory effects, combat free radical damage, boost your immune system AND (my favorite benefit) decrease wrinkles and acne.  I drink this every morning, 365 days a year, whether I am detoxing or not.


2.  Lyfe Tea. This stuff is amazing.  It’s a 14 day tea detox made with all natural ingredients.  It’s main ingredient is “miracle tree” Moringa Oleifera.  One cup in the morning plus one cup in the evening will set you on the right track to a healthier you (in addition to heathy meals).  Health benefits of Moringa include, but are not limited to, anti-inflammatory effects, aids in digestion, heightens mental clarity, anti-aging benefits, and boosts immune system.  Click here to order.


3. Detoxifying baths 1-2 times/week while cleansing. A detox bath is one of the easiest and most natural ways to help facilitate flushing toxins out of our system.  Pour 1 cup baking soda, 2 cups Epsom salt and a few drops of organic essential oil (my favorites are lavender and rose) in a hot tub. Play music, light candles and RELAX. Epsom salt & baking soda have many healing properties such as reduce inflammation, ease muscle tension, improve absorption of nutrients, and flush toxins and heavy metals from the cells.  I even give our young boys this same bath due to its positive effects on the body. There are several brands of Epsom Salt in stores, however, I use this one.  Similarly, there are many brands of organic essential oils on the market.  I use this one or this one. **If you’re pregnant or have diabetes STOP HERE.  Ask a healthcare professional before taking the plunge.


4. Dry brushing. This sounds weird but it works! Before showering or before a bath at night, use a natural, DRY bristle brush all over your body.  In long strokes, use a sweeping motion starting at the bottom of your feet and move up toward your heart (when you get to your chest and back, brush down, keeping in mind you should move in the direction of your heart).  I recommend using a brush with a long handle so you can reach the middle of your back without straining.  The benefits are, but are not limited to, reducing cellulite (can I get a hallelujah?), aids in lymphatic drainage (decreases toxins), increases blood flow, tightens skin, reduces clogged pores, and aids in digestion.  Please remember both your body and the brush should be completely dry. You can find them at any grocery or drug store but click here for an inexpensive one.

5. ItWorks body wraps. Omg!! These things are A-MAZING! The body wraps, made with natural ingredients, reduce cellulite, firm and tone skin, improve skin texture and tightness, among other awesome benefits. And yes, this is the truth. It does all of that.  I do a series of four wraps twice a year, however, if you want to do multiple body parts, you may find yourself doing them more frequently. I may be doing an extra one this year as the benefits I’ve seen are astounding! Click here to order.


6. Work out or, at the very least, get moving! During a detox, I keep exercise to a minimum with lower impact, relaxing, and soul-filling exercises such as yoga, pilates, walking, etc. I believe these types of exercises help to clear our minds and regain positive thinking mostly because we’ll be eliminating, not only toxins from our bodies, but toxins from our minds.  In my opinion,  this is a good way to refocus our energy and de-clutter our minds. You’ll be on the right path to a better you faster than you thought possible.


7. Common sense eating! Eat loads of organic berries, salads with fresh squeezed lemon juice and lime juice (no dressing or very little dressing), vegetables, lean meats and other healthy food choices.

In my opinion,  for first timers, you should stay on the detox course for 1 week. Touch up cleanses/detoxes after that can be 2-3 days.

This post is solely for informational purposes only. It is NOT intended nor implied to be a substitute for health advice.  Before undertaking any new program (ie: detox, cleanse, diet, exercise, etc.) you should seek advice from your physician or other healthcare provider FIRST.

**Disclaimer 1: I am not a Physician, Nurse Practitioner, RN or Nutritionist. These statements have not been reviewed or approved by a physician or the FDA.  I am simply sharing what works for me, personally. You should check with your doctor before starting any diet, cleanse, detox or workout routine and always listen to your body. If it hurts or doesn’t feel right, don’t do it!

**Disclaimer 2:  Any weight loss you see will likely be water weight, however, it is a really good way to kick start the new year and kick start our “get healthy” routines.  Also, it’s a great way to fit back into those skinny jeans 😉