Super Starts Here.

MySuperSnack for Super (Special) Kids, Volunteering for Tomorrows Children’s Fund

photo-3Normally, I’m a perky, strong, and willful young lady with an answer for everything…and I really like that about myself.

Recently, I found myself observing quietly, keeping mentally strong, and stumbling to put a sentence together. This doesn’t happen too often, so I made a conscious choice to give this sort-of-new emotion a fair judgement. Katie and I went to the Hackensack University Medical Center as volunteers for their “Go 4 The Goal, Kart 4 Kids–which is run through  Tomorrows Children’s Fund.  This program supplies a snack cart for their in-patent pediatrics unit.

So, what we did is just as amazing as it sounds: we walked around with a rolling cart that had everything from M&M’s, Gobstoppers, and KitKats to Funky Fingers Nail Polish, Legos, and playing cards—there were activity books, Mad Libs, and eye masks, too. If the child/young adult was up to having visitors, we were able to go in and meet them. Sometimes, their parents came out and choose for them…and other patients politely declined. I met two people who I will never forget— and,  I’m not sure I learned their names.

The first, a young Spanish kid who was sitting in his room alone. He was a little bit older than the other patients I saw… with tattoos going up his arm, Beats by Dre on his ears, and a forced bright smile every once in a while. He couldn’t eat much because he had sores in his mouth from some of his treatments. He looked for something fun, but passed on the playing cards, shoe laces, and legos. He set his eye on this tiny stuffed animal dog, and smiled a beautiful smile when we told him that he didn’t have to pay for it. He didn’t speak much English, so I was able to say “hasta luego!” as I left… letting him know that I would see him again.

The second was a young girl with beautiful big eyes. She, too, was playing on an iPad and had Beats by Dre headphones. Her brother and sister were in the room with her, along with two family members. It made me smile to know that she had company… people there to occupy her time and support her through this. Her nails were painted with three different colors, and if anyone knows me.. that’s right tup my ally. She chose a really cool neon coloring pad that lets you sketch out pictures… I would have chosen that too. She said thank you and smiled. I expected her to choose the nail polish, and I even tried to push it… but she wasn’t into it. A girl who likes variety, and stands her ground. I like her, a lot.

What surprised me most was that I, Elizabeth Rodriguez, who can talk my way out of speeding tickets and have hour long conversations with strangers…was at a complete loss for words that day. The parents were smiling and strong for their kids, some kids were alone and they smiled too. The doctors made sure to save certain toys and candies for their patients…who they knew would decline the visit today. Nurses, one six months pregnant with her 4th child, laughing with each other, but concerned about the patients who  weren’t eating. They had conversations about how to motivate other patients too. A true community of genuinely thoughtful professionals— who loved candy, potato chips, and SuperSnacks.

That day I learned a lot about myself, and the community which grows within a hospital. The staff makes all the difference to those kids–they communicate with families and comfort the patients. The smiles, the supportive words, and the way they interact with family is admirable to say the least. I am grateful to have been part of this experience today, and I look forward to volunteering each month. Although I will represent MySuperFoods Company, I will without a doubt bring other presents to add to the cart. They love iTunes, plush toys, and small crafts that they can play with on their bed tray.

Normally, I’m a perky, strong, and willful young lady with an answer for everything. Today, I met a different side of myself and I really like her too.

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Another Trade Show, Another Product Launch. We’re Excited!

expo west prep 2014Can it be?  That we are old enough, established enough, experienced enough to shout out, “here comes another product launch!  Stand back, Expo West.  Get ready!”

Can it be?  That 18 months after we launched MySuperSnack Granola Bites we are launching MySuper(…Secret)!?


We are prepping, packing, setting up meetings and printing new brochures.  There is news, folks.  We can’t wait to share it.

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Top Sneaky and Odd Places Toxins Can Be Hiding In Your Home

toxic houseMegan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Nutrition and Health Coach.
With so much emphasis being placed on eating healthy, watching dangerous and questionable ingredients in our foods and products, and maintaining wellness habits, sometimes we are completely oblivious to dangerous and health-hazardous situations right under our own noses. Here is a run-down of some places in and around your home that you may or may not be aware of that toxins can be lurking and what you can do to avoid them.
Cash register receipts and thermal paper – Were you aware that each time you grab a cash register or ATM receipt, you are swiping BPA all over your hands? Think about where these receipts go many times as well – right into your grocery bag full of food. This hormone disrupting chemical that normally appears in plastics and linings of cans seems to be more and more prevalent, exposing us to levels on a daily basis. In the thermal receipts now routinely given out by stores, BPA is often used as a color developer for the printing dye. These receipts have a thermal-sensitive layer that produces color when heated. You can also find high levels of BPA in the thermal paper used to make baggage destination tags, cigarette filters, and bus, train and lottery tickets. Pay extra attention to your children wanting to grab or play with these receipts as well, for you want to limit their exposure even more since their developing bodies are more sensitive to this chemical. Sadly enough, about 30 percent of the thermal paper enters the paper recycling stream, which can introduce BPA into products like toilet paper, napkins and food packaging. HOW TO BEST AVOID EXPOSURE: First and foremost, if you don’t need a receipt, leave it — and ask the cashier not to print it if possible. For many small purchases and unless you’re purchasing something you may want to take back, a receipt is unnecessary. If you need the receipt, ask the cashier to place it in the bag. When you get home, remove receipts from all bags, place them in a drawer or space on your desk just for the receipts, and avoid further unnecessary contact. Be sure to wash your hands well after handling receipts. Do not place receipts in bags with food items, especially items you eat raw.
Household Dust- Believe it or not, household dust can contain an insane amount of toxins, as so many chemicals are used throughout products in and out of our home and then accumulate in dust that settles on floors and furniture. According to the EPA, Americans spend 90% of their time indoors between home and offices; the air we’re breathing tends to be five times more polluted with organic pollutants than the air we breathe outside. Additionally, think about how many chemicals and germs are tracked into our homes from the soles of our shoes? The amount of pesticides alone that can be picked up on the bottoms of our shoes from crossing over lawns and grassy areas is enough to raise concern. Many of us do not realize this upon entering a home or establishment, and if you have carpets in your home, this compounds the problem even further, as these particles get trapped in the carpet piling. Dust mites, microscopic pathogens and chemical fragments accumulate in household dust and then settle on everything from furniture to bedding to nooks and crannies on shelves and floors. Think about where kids spend most of their time in the home – rubbing against things and playing on the floor, where they are exposed to inhaling higher doses of this dust than one may realize. HOW TO BEST AVOID EXPOSURE: Simply removing your shoes upon entering the house and requiring guests to do the same will cut back on an enormous amount of these toxins and dirt are traipsed into your home, not to mention it will cut down on how often you will need to clean up messes (which in turn, cuts down on cleaning products, etc.). Better yet, keep shoes someone outside of the immediate living area – either outdoors, in a mudroom, or garage. Vacuum or sweep often and steam clean your hard-surface floors to disinfect without needing products. Shake rugs out often and air out outside. Dust at least once a week without the use of chemical cleaners (natural oils work great or vinegar and water on a rag). Vacuum furniture, reduce clutter, and wash bedding at least once a week. Place comforters, pillows, and other fabrics in the dryer on high heat if possible, or a low temperature setting to remove dust as best as possible. Change air unit filters every 3-4 months to cut back on how much dust and particles are flowing through your ventilation system.

Clothes that have been dry-cleaned (including the “green”/”organic” versions!) – While maintaining gentle-care clothing has limited options, please be aware that the common method of dry-cleaning is so dangerous to our health. 90% of dry cleaners use highly toxic chemicals, and these chemicals remain in your clothes, which then rub off onto your skin all day long that you wear this clothing (or get hung-up in your closet where they emit these gases and then rub off onto other clothes). Additionally, these chemicals contaminate the air and water. Some of these chemicals are known carcinogens and can cause many other health problems, which is why some dry cleaners have tried to use creative marketing by stating that their products are “green” or “organic,” which you still need to be aware of because on many occasions, these labels mean absolutely nothing. For example, Hydrocarbons are chemicals are found in petroleum-based solvents, they are “organic” solvents, but are nonetheless human carcinogens. Some of the most common chemicals used are: PERC – About 90% of dry cleaners use perchloroethylene and this chemical is toxic to humans & the environment. People exposed to high levels of perc, even for brief periods, may experience serious symptoms such as dizziness, fatigue, headaches, confusion, nausea, and skin, lung, eye and mucous membrane irritation. Repeated exposure to high levels can also irritate the skin, eyes, nose and mouth, and can cause liver damage and respiratory failure. HOW TO BEST AVOID EXPOSURE: See if any of your clothing can forgo the dry-cleaning route, and if not, then try and locate a genuine eco-friendly dry cleaner in your area that uses steam or non-toxic products – but you have to ask what is used and make sure that false claims are not being used to appear eco-friendly. If you do not have the option to go to an eco-friendly dry cleaner and absolutely need to have something conventionally dry-cleaned, be sure to remove the article of clothing out of the plastic bag and let it air out and hang outdoors for as long as possible to prevent the off-gassing of the chemicals in your immediate indoor environment. Try and avoid getting children’s clothes dry-cleaned as much as possible.

Cell phones, wireless routers, computers, home electronics, and wireless devices – Have you ever heard of EMF? (…and no, I’m not talking about the 90s band…) This is a topic that would require its own article for me to go into greater detail, but the long and short of it is with the increased use of electronic and tech-savvy products and devices in our homes and offices, we are increasingly exposing ourselves to higher and higher levels of EMFs – electromagnetic fields and RFs – radio frequency emissions. Things such as cell-phones, wireless routers, computers, lamps, alarm clocks, baby monitors, vacuum cleaners, electric blankets, etc. all produce some sort of frequency. Mobile phones expose us to intense levels of RF radiation that are significantly higher than those found naturally in the environment. These frequencies easily penetrate your central nervous system, the tissues of the brain, and other organs. Other wireless communication devices such as iPads, SmartPhone devices, WiFi, laptops, etc. are similar and create the same signals. Why should we be concerned about this, especially with how frequently our kids are now using portable devices and tablets to watch shows and play games on the internet? Scientific research states that the human body responds to these energy fields as invading pathogens, setting off a cascade of biochemical reactions that cause the release of damaging free radicals, alter the blood-brain barrier, creates an onset of inflammatory responses, and disrupt cellular communications throughout the body. HOW TO BEST AVOID EXPOSURE: While it’s nearly impossible to avoid such exposure as these devices are used EVERYWHERE, you can take precautions to limit your exposure. If you speak on a cell phone often, you should use a hands-free device that is wire-based (not Bluetooth, as this still uses wireless technology) and not hold or store the cell phone anywhere near your body (think 3 feet). Limit how much children touch devices that transmit Wi-Fi signals (or turn the Wi-Fi option off if children use devices with downloaded games, etc.). If you have Wi-Fi in your home, keep the unit far away from bedrooms or areas of the house where people are exposed to it frequently, as these waves will transmit more frequently. It seems crazy to think of limiting exposure to these devices that have made our lives so easy, but taking precautionary measures is advised.

Take-out containers and Styrofoam egg containers – Let’s face it: many of us do not make meals at home 100% of the time and occasionally (or more than occasionally) eat out or buy prepared foods to take home. Many times, these foods are placed in containers that we have no idea what they are made or lined with. Even “more natural” containers made from cardboard can be lined with harmful chemicals such as BPA, phthalates, and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) – and all of these substances are directly touching your food. The worst offender is Styrofoam, and it surprises me how much this material is still used in food containers. Styrene (the building-block for polystyrene, which Styrofoam is made from) is categorized by the EPA as a suspected carcinogen and a suspected toxin to the gastrointestinal, kidney, and respiratory systems. Foods and beverages that touch this material receive immediate exposure, as leaching rates are high – the leaching of styrene may not even require heat. Fatty foods fare even worse, as fats eat away at the chemical and creates greater exposure. Does your family eat eggs? A study conducted by Louisiana State University showed that eggs still in their shells stored in Styrofoam containers expressed seven time more ethylbenzene and styrene than eggs not stored in Styrofoam containers. Scary to know that these chemicals are strong enough to even permeate the shells of eggs! HOW TO BEST AVOID EXPOSURE: Before taking home a doggy bag of left-overs or buying a take-out meal, ask what the containers are made out of. Also, try buying your eggs in a container other than Styrofoam. If the restaurant or store uses Styrofoam, as if there is anything else the food can be placed in, or better yet, as crazy as it sounds, bring or provide your own container. There is a restaurant that I really like, but they use Styrofoam for their soup, so I bring my own and ask for them to use that instead when I order take-out and it’s no problem at all.

Megan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Holistic Nutrition and Health Coach and Owner/Founder of Empower Nutrition & Health Coaching, LLC. Megan educates and empowers women, men, and children of all ages to learn the true ins-and-outs of “feeding the brain with knowledge about the best foods, products, and habits for one’s body” in order to reach optimal health and wellness potentials. Visit her website today to learn more: or feel free to send her an e-mail at: Follow Megan on Twitter and like her on Facebook

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Why Some Fevers Can Actually Be Helpful to Your Health

feverMegan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Nutrition and Health Coach.

This time of year often brings an onslaught of colds, coughs, fevers, the flu, and carious other illnesses that we wish would just never exist. For those who catch these illnesses, especially our kids, it can mean long days and nights of feeling like garbage, parents wondering what to give their kids to make them feel better ASAP, and days missed from school and work. Let’s face it – being sick stinks and nobody should have to face this issue more than they have to (which is why I am a huge proponent of preventative health care). For parents, it is the worst to see our kids not feeling well, sick, and going through something we wish they didn’t have to, but when illness strikes, especially a fever, here are some things you may want to take into consideration before rushing to the medicine cabinet to pop some meds that will bring that temperature down (notably in children).
Growing up, I didn’t get sick often at all, but I recall the five thousand times my mom would check my forehead to make sure I didn’t have a fever, as this must have been the tell-all symptom of getting or being sick. Like most parents, if a child (or adult) has a fever, it can raise concern, as you don’t want a fever to “get too high” – which is true. If I ever did have a fever, I can still recall the taste of the children’s acetaminophen I was given to nip that temperature in the bud. As I grew up, I thought that fevers were kind of evil and should be lowered as soon as anyone had one. However, what many people fail to realize is that a fever can actually be very helpful to the body, as long as it does not reach above 103 degrees for a prolonged period of time. DISCLAIMER: I’m not a doctor, nor am I trying to give medical advice here, so please do not take my sharing of this information as a written-in-stone approach to treat or approach fevers. If ever in doubt, ALWAYS consult a medical professional, especially when dealing with children.

Fevers, as you know, are an elevation in body temperature and most fevers range around 100-102 degrees Fahrenheit. A normal body temperature ranges from 97 to 99 degrees F and can vary from person to person, as well as different times of the day, usually highest in the afternoon when activity and environment temperatures are at their highest. Children can spike a fever when teething; adults and children alike get fevers when falling ill with common illnesses. A fever is a defense mechanism of the body that acts to destroy harmful microbes (invaders) to the body. It’s considered necessary to eliminate a disease agent that has entered and/or attacked the body because it’s the body’s way of addressing and localizing inflammation, often coupled with mucous production, to flush out and rid the body of this pathogen. Runny noses, coughs, rashes, and fevers are all evidence of a normal and general immune system response in most cases. Many times however, such body symptoms have been treated with immediate suppression through medication and does not give the body a chance to initially fight off what it can of the illness. While these symptoms are not fun to deal with for more than a short while (which is why many modern practices have led to the immediate treatment of suppression), it can actually lead to a quicker rebounding from the illness and prolonged protection.

I’ll try and break the cycle down here as easy as possible to understand why and how a fever is important for the body in many cases during a time of illness:
– We are constantly exposed to germs, which can enter the body through a break in the skin, contact with our respiratory tissue (inhaled or breathed in), or the gastrointestinal tract (ingesting through the mouth).
– Our white blood cells located all along the lining of our respiratory and gastrointestinal linings normally do a great job fighting off any of these germs before they become a problem, but sometimes an overgrowth of the “invader” cells can lead to illness.
– If an “invasion” is suspected, the white blood cells go into overdrive and a chill in the body can develop (why some people get the “chills” before or during a fever…it’s all part of the process). This chill actually signals the body to increase its temperature.
– After the chill, a fever usually erupts in the body either gradually over several days or immediately with a high fever (that is usually scary to deal with!).
– This fever development time is when antibody production is initiated to destroy the pathogen or virus. These temperatures actually encourage the body to make more immune cells that will destroy the illness.
– Fevers affiliated with viruses tend to create moderate fevers (around 99-101 degrees F).
– Fevers affiliated with bacterial infections tend to produce higher fevers to destroy the illness (around 100-103+ degrees F).
– Normally after a fever breaks, the body will respond with sweating, which indicates that the body has successfully completed its immune response to the illness.
So what’s the big deal about breaking a fever with medication? First, NEVER give aspirin to a child with a fever. This can cause Reye’s Syndrome. If a fever is naturally fighting off an illness in the body within normal measures (see below for when it’s NOT healthy to let a fever go), interrupting this process can actually cause the illness to prolong or not be resolved. Medicines like Tylenol, Advil, Ibuprophen, etc., suppress fevers and never allow the body to move through the stages of effective immune system function. Additionally, these drugs are processed through the liver or kidneys, and there has been much debate recently over how toxic acetaminophen can be to developing livers, in addition to disturbing the production of glutathione (which is a major immune contributor in the body).
Rather, here are some things you can do instead to support the body going through a manageable fever:
• Stay away from others, as to not spread the illness and to help give the immune system a break from being exposed to other possible germs.
• Drink plenty of fluids to help prevent dehydration and allow the body to flush the toxins out easier.
• Believe it or not, laying off of solid foods until the fever breaks can help greatly, as it allows the body to focus on fighting off the illness. Digesting food takes a huge amount of effort and energy by the body, especially in a time of illness.
• Lay off sugar and dairy as much as possible. Sugar feeds bacterial and viral cells, thus creating more work for the body to fight them off and dairy creates larger mucous production, which can take away from the body creating the proper amount to regulate the removal of the pathogen. Plus, it can add to an already large amount of mucous that is probably being produced by the body, which means feeling more miserable!
• Place cool towels on the feet and hands to draw the heat out of the top of the head.
• Do not use cold baths to bring down a fever, as this can shock the system. Rather, use cooler or “tepid” (lukewarm) water to create a gentle way to coax heat from the inner core and soothe the rest of the body.
• Rest as much as possible.
• Reduce stimulation like light, noise, and activities – this can take away from the body’s natural ability to cope with concentrating efforts to the immune system response.
• Massage gently up and down the spine to stimulate the immune system.
• Taking probiotics like acidophilus will help support the immune system in general, but especially at a time when the body is fighting off illness.
• Garlic is a natural immune booster and very effective in helping the body combat illness.
• Some herbal teas that are great for fevers:
o Lemon balm (helps the body perspire, which helps “sweat out” the toxins); be sure to hydrate with water in addition to replace fluids lost by perspiration.
o Chamomile tea helps to calm and relax the system.
o Peppermint tea is known to naturally cool a fever (but not suppress it in an unhealthy way).
• Take plenty of Vitamin C to help promote better immune response (preferably from citrus fruits and foods). Processed orange juice is NOT a good source, as it contains tons of sugar and has killed off all of the beneficial enzymes from the fruit.
• Get plenty of Vitamin D (here is where I think a supplement of D3 can be helpful).
• Avoid taking any supplements that have iron (or foods high in iron) during a time of fever, as the body tries to “hide” iron in the body tissues in an attempt to keep the infecting organism from using it for nourishment. This can cause undue strain on the body that is already working hard to fight off illness.

• Please note that some fevers, if left too long (for more than 3 days) or if they get too high (over 103-104 degrees in children) can cause serious complications like dehydration (the most common complication). — –
o Convulsions can indicate a brain issue from fevers that get too high and fevers associated with strep bacteria are known to cause permanent damage to the kidneys or heart.
• Fevers accompanied by restlessness, pain, agitation, listlessness, rapid respiration, or low pulse should also be immediately addressed by medical professionals.
• A baby 3 months or younger who has a temperature of 103 degrees F or higher needs to see a doctor immediately.
• A feverish child at any age with a stiff neck, throat swelling, or acting in a disoriented manner needs immediate medical attention, as this can indicate meningitis.
• Please also note that heat stroke and head injuries can also cause a high fever in addition to over-exposure to a cold wind. Emotional responses such as shock or trauma can result in fevers as well.

Megan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Holistic Nutrition and Health Coach and Owner/Founder of Empower Nutrition & Health Coaching, LLC. Megan educates and empowers women, men, and children of all ages to learn the true ins-and-outs of “feeding the brain with knowledge about the best foods, products, and habits for one’s body” in order to reach optimal health and wellness potentials. Visit her website today to learn more: or feel free to send her an e-mail at: Follow Megan on Twitter and like her on Facebook

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Megan’s Top Heart-Healthy Food Choices for Heart Health Month!

heart healthyMegan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Nutrition and Health Coach.

With February well underway and Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I am sure everyone has been seeing lots of “hearts” around.  In case you were not aware, February is also Heart Health Month, where the focus is on the most important hearts in the world – OURS!  While keeping an active lifestyle with lots of aerobic movement and not smoking are among the top ways we can keep our hearts in tip-top shape, here are my top food suggestions to maintain heart health….all year long (as it should be!).  Every one of all ages should try to be getting as many of these types of food into their diets (with the exception of food allergies, of course) to keep the most important muscle in our body ticking strong.

My personal recommendations of types of nutrients to really focus on are:

ANTIOXIDANTS – these are vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients (like super foods) that protect against and repair cells from damage caused by free radicals in the body (usually caused by toxins, aging, and disease).  Some examples of common antioxidants are:

  • beta-carotene (which gets converted to Vitamin A)
  • vitamin C
  • vitamin E
    • orange-colored fruits and vegetables: carrots, sweet potatoes, orange citrus fruits, apricots, squash, cantaloupe, mangoes, etc.
    • citrus fruits, dark leafy greens, strawberries, kiwi fruit, pomegranate
    • apples
    • tomatoes

B – VITAMINS – folate (vitamin B9), vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 all play a huge role in heart health (in addition to boosting energy levels!).

  • dark, leafy greens
  • lentils
  • legumes

FIBER – plays an important role in heart health by maintaining blood sugar levels, moving waste and toxins out of the body (in addition to absorbing toxins), and helping to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides, which are linked to hardening of the arteries and heart disease.

  • Oatmeal
  • chia seeds
  • ground flaxseeds
  • apples
  • beans
  • lentils

OMEGA-3s and HEALTHY FATS – as many of us now know, there are “healthy” fats (i.e. Omega-3s) and “unhealthy fats” (i.e. trans-fats).  Omega-3s are especially important because they are considered essential to the human body, meaning that we cannot produce them on our own – we need to obtain them from food.  Omega-3s are linked to better immunity, decreasing inflammation in the body, improving mood and hormone balance, and reducing LDL (bad) cholesterol.

  • An easy rule-of-thumb to follow is usually plant-based fats are regarded as healthier choices than animal fats (due to the type of saturated fat content).  Examples are:
    • olive oil, grapeseed oil, purified fish oil, flaxseed oil
    • nuts like almonds, walnuts, and Brazil nuts
    • seeds like chia seeds, flaxseeds, and hemp seeds
    • avocados and coconuts
    • While fish like salmon are normally considered healthy due to their high Omega-3 content, it’s the concern over heavy metals, farming practices, and pollutants now present in many fish species that has people concerned over how safe it is to eat often.


Here’s an easy list of other heart-healthy foods to try and get as much of as possible and why:

– BERRIES: Beta-carotene, vitamin C; folate; calcium, magnesium; potassium; fiber.

– Spinach: B-complex vitamins; folate; magnesium; potassium; calcium; fiber.

Bananas: potassium for healthy blood pressure regulation.

– Broccoli: Beta-carotene; Vitamins C and E; potassium; folate; calcium; fiber.

– Red bell peppers: Beta-carotene; B-complex vitamins; folate; potassium; fiber.

– Asparagus: Beta-carotene; B-complex vitamins; folate; fiber.

– Papaya: Beta-carotene; Vitamins C and E; folate; calcium; magnesium; potassium.

– Black or Kidney Beans:  B-complex vitamins; niacin; folate; magnesium; omega-3 fatty acids; calcium; soluble fiber.

– Almonds:  Plant omega-3 fatty acids; vitamin E; magnesium; fiber

 Walnuts:  Plant omega-3 fatty acids; vitamin E; magnesium; folate; fiber.

chia seeds: packed with Omega-3s, fiber, protein, and minerals.

spirulina and chlorella: these are supplements of green-algae superfoods that you can take to add super anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, protein, and blood-cleansing goodness to your life.  Some people like adding spirulina powder to smoothies, shakes, or raw cookie/dessert recipes.  If the taste is too drastic for you, Hawaiian Pacifica brand for a super easy tablet to swallow with your vitamins to get this added benefit.  Kids can take it, too!

turmeric: this is a spice native to India that has been used for centuries for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.  It’s considered a superfood that millions revere and add to their cooking daily.  You can add this spice as cumin, but I personally take a daily liquid form of curcumin/turmeric concentrate to help keep inflammation down.

OMEGA-3 supplements: even if you eat fish, I find taking a daily purified fish oil supplement (i.e. Nordic Naturals) is extremely beneficial, including for children.

Vitamin D3: be sure to take a supplement to help keep your heart healthy.  Most Americans are deficient in Vitamin D, and although sunlight exposure is the best way to obtain Vitamin D3, it’s hard for many people who live in colder climates or work indoors.  15 minutes a day of sun exposure sans-sunscreen will give you 10,000IU of the vitamin.  Not only will it help boost heart health, but it cuts back on inflammation and it boost immunity and bone health.  Although the FDA says 400 IUs a day is the recommended dose, researchers and doctors are now realizing that doses upwards around 5000 IU a day is optimal…and safe.  Be sure to take with fat, as it is a fat-soluble vitamin.

Megan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Holistic Nutrition and Health Coach and Owner/Founder of Empower Nutrition & Health Coaching, LLC. Megan educates and empowers women, men, and children of all ages to learn the true ins-and-outs of “feeding the brain with knowledge about the best foods, products, and habits for one’s body” in order to reach optimal health and wellness potentials. Visit her website today to learn more: or feel free to send her an e-mail at:  Follow Megan on Twitter and like her on Facebook



MEGAN MONDAY: Healthy, Fun Valentine’s Day Treat Ideas

Megan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Nutrition and Health Coach.

With the Super Bowl just ending (and hopefully not leaving you feeling too full or stuffed), it’s time to start thinking about and planning for the next fun-holiday that kids (and adults) love to be part of – Valentine’s Day.  However, Valentine’s Day is known best for its boxes of rich chocolates, candies, and decadent foods – all things that we are probably trying to steer away from, especially for the kids.  Let’s show our bodies we love them with these fun, healthy, creative, and kid-friendly ideas to get everyone in the family involved to celebrate what’s usually a more “unhealthy” holiday.

Some Easy Suggestions to Start With:

  • Get a heart-shaped cutter (or set of cutters) to cut fruit, breads, vegetables, frozen whipped cream, etc. into fun heart shapes to make some of the ideas shown below:

heart pancake heart potatoes






  • Get a heart-shaped mold to make the homemade healthy fruit snacks or healthier red velvet cupcakes shown below.  You can find different sizes in stores like Michaels, JoAnn Crafts, Target, and online (click on the links for candy mold product example): or
  • Use heart-shaped construction paper cut-outs or other Valentine arts-and-craft pieces to decorate straws for healthy smoothies, and containers for cupcakes, snacks, etc.
  • Here’s a really neat and easy way to make a heart-shaped cake without having to buy a separate heart-shaped pan!
  • I really recommend avoiding using conventional red food dye in any recipes, for it is made with the controversial ingredients that are linked to neurotoxicity, hyperactivity and ADHD to name a few.  Instead, use natural alternatives.  Here’s a recipe to make your own, or here are easy, pre-made natural alternatives.  Either can be used in recipes like the healthier red velvet cake or homemade conversation heart candy recipes shown below.
  • In addition to the red food dye, I also recommend staying away from the heart-shaped red hot candies, candy lollipops, boxes of conventional chocolates (like Russell Stover, etc.) and “Conversation Hearts” that are so popular on Valentine’s Day.  I am not mentioning this to be a pleasure-depriving jerk, but these “treat” choices tend to be full of artificial flavorings, color, additives, preservatives, trans-fats, and ingredients that are very unfavorable to human health.  While I don’t condone eating tons of sugary treats, here’s a recipe for homemade Conversation Heart Candies that may be sugary, but not full of artificial garbage.  Here are some other Valentine’s Day candy choices that are more natural or a list of some high-quality Valentine’s Day chocolate choices (mostly organic, to uphold sustainability, sourcing, and quality).

Top Healthy Valentine Treat Ideas:

red velvet Food-Dye-Free Healthy Version Red Velvet CupcakesWho doesn’t love a deliciously moist cupcake?  Check out the recipe for a neat history lesson on why these chocolate wonders were even colored red in the first place – and how to make them healthier.





There’s even a healthier version that trumps the “healthy meter” and can double as dye-free Red Velvet Pancakes!   Don’t forget to shape the pancakes in the shape of a heart as well!

heart pancake batter







If you make heart-shaped pancakes, don’t forget the heart-shaped bacon to go with it!  (Try to use all-natural, nitrate-free versions like Applegate, etc.)

Heart-Shaped Fruit and Veggie Kabobs – Use a heart-shaped cutter to cut out pieces of fruit and vegetables to make awesome heart fruit or veggie kabobs!  Kids will love helping out with this recipe activity – and eating them is just as fun.  Here’s a neat way to easily make heart-shaped strawberries.

watermelon heart kabob






(Picture courtesy of

Homemade Tomato Soup with Heart-Shaped Grilled Cheese – with cold weather slamming most of us, what better way to feel warm and loved on Valentine’s Day than to indulge in a delicious bowl of red, hearty, healthy tomato soup and sinful grilled cheese?  I like this recipe, but please feel free to sub out the soymilk for dairy milk or another nut milk.  Simply use a heart-shaped cutter to create the heart-shaped sandwich pattern with these healthier grilled cheese recipes ideas, or easier yet, use a knife to trim the shape out yourself!

Make a Pink or Red Berry Blast Creamy Smoothie (and drink it out of a fancy straw adorned with heart/Valentine decorations!) or add fresh or frozen berries to plain, organic yogurt and stir to create a beautifully pink treat.

pink smoothie

Easy Pink Berry Smoothie Recipe:

1 cup frozen (organic preferred) mixed berries, preferably raspberries and/or strawberries

1 frozen ripe banana

½ cup low-fat vanilla or plain yogurt (organic and plain preferred, as to cut down on the sugar)

1 whole orange, peeled

10 ounces (or more, depending on your smoothie thickness preference) of cold, filtered water

You can add several ice cubes for increased “icy-ness”

Blend all ingredients together until smooth

Homemade Healthy Heart Pizza – Click on the link to find some healthy pizza recipes that will make for a super fun way to get the kids involved.  Just be sure to shape your dough in a heart shape (and maybe even use a heart shape cutter to cut out veggie hearts, etc.)

heart pizza







Delicious Nut Butter, Coconut and Date Heart Bites – You’ll flip over these super easy, healthy, and delicious creations that you can make anytime and take with you anywhere.  I love the versatility of them – you can switch out which nut butters to use, etc.  For this Valentine-inspired version of the recipe, simply shape the balls into hearts or roll out and use a heart-shaped cutter and then roll in coconut flakes.

coconut heart






Fabulous Frozen Whipped Cream Hearts can adorn any dessert or warm beverage…. And they are easy enough for the kids to help make (if they don’t eat all of them first!)

Check out this awesome idea to make adorable heart-shaped cherry tomato treats!  So simple, fun, and a great way to get some nutrition into the whole family!

heart tomato









Speaking of tomatoes, here’s a great idea for a delicious heart-shaped tomato and mozzarella salad (I would actually cut the tomatoes out in heart shapes, too!):

heart tomato 2









Last but not least, try this awesome recipe for homemade healthy fruit snacks and use the small heart-shaped mold to make them fit the Valentine’s Day bill.  In fact, you’ll probably love these treats so much, you will make them year-round to bring with you as a portable snack.  Even better, they serve as a perfect way to even incorporate vitamins to make your own home-made chewable gummy vitamins (check with your pediatrician first for correct dosing and be sure to use powdered-form vitamins in capsules that are pre-measured; all you need to do is open each capsule per serving and gently mix in each gummy vitamin).

Megan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Holistic Nutrition and Health Coach and Owner/Founder of Empower Nutrition & Health Coaching, LLC. Megan educates and empowers women, men, and children of all ages to learn the true ins-and-outs of “feeding the brain with knowledge about the best foods, products, and habits for one’s body” in order to reach optimal health and wellness potentials. Visit her website today to learn more: or feel free to send her an e-mail at:  Follow Megan on Twitter and like her on Facebook!V

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