The Healthiest Herbs and Spices

The Healthiest Herbs and Spices

I am all about the herbs and spices! Most people don’t realize how many health benefits those simple little jars in our pantries contain inside. As I mentioned in the article I published a while back, we are eating nutritionally deficient foods, so we might as well boost our intake of vitamins and nutrients however we can. I say, start with the herbs and spices and give your foods more flavor and more nutrition at the same time!

Here’s a little breakdown of some of the health benefits some common herbs and spices have to offer.

Anise. Anise seeds taste like black licorice and they have lots of surprising health benefits. Anise seeds can increase milk flow in nursing moms, give your sex drive a little pick me up and even calm an upset stomach or stop a runny nose! Anise contains calcium and fiber as well as a high amount of iron. Use it in a homemade chai tea or tomato sauce!

Cinnamon. This familiar spice is a great source of fiber, can reduce cholesterol levels and lower blood sugar levels. Sprinkle cinnamon in your curries and stews. You might not think about savory dishes when you think of cinnamon, but it tastes fantastic in almost everything.

Cilantro. I’ve written about cilantro before. The plant of the coriander seed, cilantro can aid in blood clotting, increase bone strength and it is high in Vitamin K.

Cumin. Cumin has strong germ-fighting properties and can also keep blood sugar levels healthy. Cumin is rich in iron, calcium, and magnesium, and may also prevent stomach ulcers.

Basil. Basil aids in relieving respiratory infections and can reduce pain and swelling within the body.

Nutmeg. Containing a good amount of fiber, nutmeg is a very healthy addition to your diet. It is a helpful presence in the body, fighting off bad bacteria, and it has anti-inflammatory properties as well.

Mint. If you suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, add some peppermint oil to your diet for relief.

Fennel. With a flavor similar to anise, fennel aids in gas, bloating, and other digestive upset. It can help reduce heartburn, too.

Saffron. If you suffer from PMS symptoms, add some saffron to your soups and stews. This magical (and rather expensive) spice can help ease those symptoms, and it can also help with mild to moderate depression. Rumor has it saffron is also a (wink wink, nudge nudge) aphrodisiac.

Oregano. Synonymous with pasta, oregano is an antibacterial and antifungal herb that can help fight food-borne illness and can assist with antibiotic-resistant infections.

Rosemary. Full of antioxidants, rosemary is a great fighter of inflammation. It can also boost your memory, believe it or not.

Thyme. This tasty herb can prevent signs of aging. It can also help boost your overall health, prevent cell damage and it’s chock full of antioxidants.

Turmeric. What is curry without turmeric? Not much! But more than a color and flavor enhancer, turmeric is used to treat liver disease, depression, and even heartburn!

Wow! Who woulda thunk it?

Now, just because I love y’all so much, here are some general tips for making the most of your herbs and spices:

• Before adding dried herbs to your food, crush the leaves between your fingers to release the flavor
• Watch the expiration dates on the jars
• When it comes to swapping back and forth between dried and fresh herbs in your recipes, remember the ratio of 1:3. If your recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary, use 1 teaspoon dried.
• Long, slow cooking can destroy the nutritional value of herbs. Add your dry herbs to slow-cooked dishes towards the end of the cooking process.

What one herb or spice would you bring with you to a desert island? Let us know on our Facebook page!

Shopping Cart Envy

Shopping Cart Envy

What you’re about to read is based on a true story…

About 2004 or 2005, I was shopping at my neighborhood grocery store (the new Harris Teeter in Wesley Chapel, NC) for the week. List in hand (well duh–I’m the Dinner Diva!), I had conquered the store and my cart was filled with all I needed. 

I was standing at the checkout–not looking at my phone because no one did that back then (this is pre-Smart phone y’all!). 

The woman behind me looked at my cart and said, “What are you going to do with all of that?” She was referring to the plethora of green things in my cart. 

“Cook them!” I said with a smile. 

She looked at her grocery cart, then back to mine and sighed, “I’ve got shopping cart envy.” 

At that point, I told her what I did (how could I not?), showed her my shopping list that was generated from Dinner Answers (called Menu-Mailer at the time) and chit-chatted about dinner time, kids and how grateful we were for Harris Teeter finally opening in our area.

When I was loading the groceries into my cart, I thought about what she had said and determined that…

There are two types of grocery store shoppers in the world.

There are those who navigate the exterior of the market, list in hand based on their weekly menu, confidently reaching for fresh ripe produce, chicken, meats, and other healthy ingredients like eggs, butter, and herbs and spices. 

All the good stuff you need to prepare meals you’re proud to serve your family. 

Because Nutritious Meals Come From Ingredients, Not Packages

And when the healthy shopper is standing at the checkout, proud of what they’ve selected because they know what’s for dinner next week–they have peace of mind and confidence, knowing their meals are going to be delicious and healthy.

This confidence also gives them the strength to ignore the strategically placed candy bars next to the magazines. As a matter of fact, they don’t even think about that stuff anymore.

Years ago when my children were preteens, they’d open the fridge and bemoan the selection. “We don’t have any food in the house, just ingredients!”

There is also the “I don’t have time to cook” or “I don’t know how to cook” shopper…

You’ve seen those carts–maybe you’re the one filling them? 

These are shoppers who have coupons for everything and most of the stuff you can buy with coupons is food with very little nutrition: frozen pizzas, packaged rice mixes, canned soups for making casseroles, and lots of snack foods.

Convenience Over Nutrition

When you’re zealously watching your family’s budget, it can be a huge mistake to focus on convenience and price over nutrition. 

When your grocery cart is filled with packaged foods, “fat-free” this and “sugar-free” that . . . foods full of GMOs and empty calories and lists of unpronounceable ingredients on the sides of those packages, you’ve taken a wrong turn. 

The Myth That Healthy Food Is Too Expensive

There is an expensive cost to cheap food. Believe me, food manufacturers know this and prey on coupon shoppers and convenience shoppers. 

They’re hoping you don’t know how to cook and will want to buy their stuff–just add water, zap it in the microwave, heat it up in the oven. 

And they entice you with these price-cutting strategies. Huge food manufacturers want you to think you’re getting extreme value, especially when it comes to coupons or buy one/get one free promos. 

Eating healthy and on a budget might mean you don’t have the latest exotic microgreens in your grocery cart or organic eggs and grass-fed beef. 

But if you have a bag of potatoes, a whole chicken you got on sale, and a bunch of frozen veggies instead of all that couponed, manufactured faux food, you’re well on your way. 

These are all unglamorous foods maybe, but they require cooking. And they will cost less than your copay if you need to see a doctor on the regular for chronic disease and take medication for the rest of your life.

Food Shaming Happens

When convenience shoppers find themselves behind healthy shoppers at the checkout, they may have shopping cart envy like the woman in the store talking to me did. They might wish they knew what half of those healthy items are and what they would do with them if they had the courage to buy them.

They may also be aware that their own cart is being quietly judged by the healthy shopper in line behind them or visa versa, the convenience shopper could be judging the healthy shopper thinking she’s rich or a snob. 

Yes, there are generally two types of shoppers, though they may be at various extremes of this convenience vs. healthy spectrum. 

Fixing the Problem

If you find yourself suffering from shopping cart envy and are trying to get yourself closer to being that healthy shopper, first of all, hats off to you. You should be proud of yourself for wanting to buy healthier foods for you and your family because you recognize that the convenience foods are not contributing to your well being.

If you want to be the one making other shoppers envious of your cart, just go ahead and make the decision to cut out the packages and the frozen stuff with a bunch of ingredients on the labels you just can’t pronounce. 

When you commit to preparing your family’s meals from ingredients instead of chemicals, you naturally have to bulk up on fresh ingredients because you will no longer be able to rely on those processed foods to do the work for you.

And you’re going to have to cook. 

But fear not, cooking is easy. It’s certainly not brain surgery and with a few skills, you’ll be whipping up delicious meals with wonderful ingredients and creating a healthier life for you and your family. 

I see healthy in your future and a shopping cart filled to the brim with all the good stuff!

We make eating like this EASY with our Dinner Answers. Everyone in the store will be envying your shopping cart!

The Mindful Mug

The Mindful Mug

There’s mindlessness and there’s mindfulness.

They’re polar opposites of each other and when it comes to food, nutrition, and eating, mindlessness is basically autopilot, and being on autopilot is not where you want to be when it comes to nourishing your body.

Don’t get me wrong, autopilot is awesome for things like mundane tasks around the house or doing yard work or chilling with some Netflix.

I promise you, I’m not very “mindful” when I’m cleaning the toilet!

According to Bruce Lipton, MD, author of the book The Biology of Belief, most of us live 95% of our lives in this mindless/autopilot way. It’s actually our subconscious and it controls our nervous system–either you’re controlling your consciousness or it’s on autopilot.

In other words, we get up, go through the day, eat dinner, watch TV and go to bed.

Shampoo, rinse, repeat.

Until we have a moment…

Have you ever laid in bed thinking about your day and wondering where it all went?

Or have you ever eaten a meal and looked down at your plate and realized it was all gone without even tasting it?

For those of us who fight food addiction and/or eating too much and too fast, there’s a solution to not getting sucked into the mindlessness habit of overeating, or eating a bunch of crap that makes you feel bad and regret later…

It’s the Mindful Mug.

The Mindful Mug is a tool used as a touchpoint to help you to remember what you need to remember when you’re ready for a meal.

It’s a way to center yourself, breathe, think, and become aware and mindful of the meal you’re about to sit down to.

It gives you a moment of pause before sitting down to the table.

I recommend you fill it with some lovely warm bone broth and take a moment of gratitude for the meal you’re about to enjoy.

For me, it’s a moment to consider the plate itself–is there at least one thing green on my plate? How’s the portion size of the protein? Do I have everything I need to satisfy?

Then as we sit down to dinner, I’ll pace myself with my partner Mark who is a whole lot slower of an eater than I am. For whatever reason, I’ve always been a fast eater and I promise you, there’s nothing good about eating fast–it’s hard on your digestion, there’s very little enjoyment if you don’t linger over your plate and you’re more likely to keep eating past satisfied.

All of these micro-decisions are made at once with the adoption of the Mindful Mug before your meal –keeping you focused on the right things and keeping you safely away from the mindlessness that helps to put on the body clutter and feed the wrong hunger hormones!

Here’s a recipe for bone broth–get started on your Mindful Mug ritual today. Any mug will do, just make it a point to make it happen!

Print Recipe
Traditional Chicken Bone Broth
bone broth with vegetables
bone broth with vegetables
  1. In a large stock pot, place the chicken feet and backs, add water, turn the heat to high and bring to a boil.
  2. Add onions, celery, carrots, rosemary, oregano, thyme, salt and apple cider vinegar.
  3. Leave uncovered, and continue simmering for 3–4 hours, adding additional water, 1 cup at a time, if needed.
  4. Strain and cool the broth completely, uncovered, discarding all bones, vegetables and herbs.
Recipe Notes

Again, this whole thing can be done in a very large slow cooker and cooked up to 2 days on low.

*To roast, preheat oven to 350 degrees, drizzle olive oil over the chicken parts and liberally sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.


Want more recipes like this?  Try our Healthy Healing Bone Broth Recipes ebook!

Corona-no-no Virus for Me

Are you scared yet?

According to hysterical media reports, the coronavirus has been one of the biggest health threats in history, even though it has only been in the news for a few weeks.  The international markets are collapsing under the threat, governments around the globe are taking drastic measures to contain it, and the public is getting bounced around by conflicting stories coming from the professional medical community and the politicians in charge who seem more concerned with the election than public safety.

I call it as I see it.


So, are we at risk of catching this new coronavirus?  

Sure, just like the annual flu or a common cold, coronavirus 19 (the number lets you know the year it was discovered) is quite contagious.

Is it inevitable that this new virus will spread?

Sure, viruses spread, that’s just a fact of life.

Will we all be infected and die as a result?

Nope, not by a long shot.

We don’t know if that person in line at the store two weeks ago was coughing because of a cold, a virus or because of their smoking habit. Did someone sneeze on the elevator panel shortly before we pushed the button for our floor? Did we open a door that someone contaminated had touched?

These are daily possibilities we have always faced, and while most of the time it is a non-issue for us, the recent news makes us more aware of the possibility of viral threats and how to avoid them.

Since there is a fairly long gestation period for this particular virus (now known as COVID-19), taking weeks to show itself in its victims, the only people who are completely worry-free from  having the coronavirus (or the flu or any other virus really) already are those who have been in solitary confinement for the last month, completely isolated from all other humans and infected animals–the likely origin of this virus.

Still, the odds of anyone being infected today are quite small, and there are easy steps we can all take to protect ourselves, so let’s focus on what we do know and limit the fears from what we don’t.

While information about this new coronavirus is still coming in, we already know that it can be transmitted the same way other viruses are, by close human contact and airborne particles from coughing and sneezing.

Touching a contaminated surface and then touching our face, nose, eyes can transmit the virus, especially since we do such actions over 90 times a day on average.


  • Washing our hands regularly with hot, soapy water throughout the day will be a huge deterrent. Wash them for 20 seconds, sing the birthday song twice.
  • Limit your activities outside of your home.  Avoid public assemblies, public restrooms, airplanes, public transport, etc.  While some of these are unavoidable, limit them when you can.
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes to protect others around you in case you are infected, even if it is just a common cold.  If you use a tissue, dispose of it immediately. If you don’t have a tissue, use your elbow to cover your sneeze, not your hand.
  • Clean all of your “high-touch” surfaces in the home, including door knobs, keyboards, counter-tops, bathroom faucets, etc. with a rubbing alcohol. That’s the active ingredient in hand sanitizer by the way–hard to find these days (plus it has issues of it’s own and disrupts the microbiome with a carcinogenic ingredient, triclosan. Research says that regular soap and water is just as a effective, FYI)
  • If you have a fever, cough, or breathing problem, call your doctor immediately.
  • If you are feeling sick, for heaven’s sake, stay home!


The Best Defense is a Strong Immune System

Taking steps to protect yourself and to limit the spread of any virus is simple. And the best defense of course is to have a strong immune system.

The most at-risk victims of most viruses are those with compromised immune systems and with prior issues and chronic conditions.

BUT there is plenty you can do to give your immune system a boost:

  • Get Plenty of Sleep – We are a sleep deprived nation with too many distractions, screens, and pressures of work and life in general bombarding us daily.  6-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep goes a long way to keeping your body strong and healthy.
  • Don’t smoke – COVID-19 is a respiratory virus. Now is a good time to quit!
  • Eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables.  An apple a day and all that… also, blueberries, dark chocolate, turmeric, broccoli, ginger, sweet potatoes, garlic, green tea (our Wise Women’s Tea is fabulous), eggs, bell peppers, spinach, almonds, sunflower seeds, mushrooms and oily fish. Eat the best quality stuff you can–organic, pastured, grass fed, wild fish, etc.
  • If you drink alcohol, do it in moderation if at all. Take milk thistle (for your liver) if you drink.
  • Exercise – Regular exercise mobilizes the T cells, a type of white blood cell which guards the body against infection.
  • Get out in the sun!  10-15 minutes of walking in the sun will boost your Vitamin D levels and reduce the risk of respiratory problems.
  • Wash your hands regularly (see above) and cook your meats thoroughly to avoid pathogens.
  • Take vitamin supplements if your diet is lacking.  Vitamins A, B’s, C, D and E really boost your immune system and are readily available in many of the foods listed above.  Learn your ABC’s! (and D-E)
  • Herbs – AHCC, echinacea, elderberry, andrographis and astragalus can help reduce the duration and severity of illness and provide nutrients for a strong immune system.
  • Stay hydrated – an ounce of water for every 2 pounds you weigh is a good measure to help your body eliminate toxins and other bacteria that may cause illness. (Example, if you weigh 170 pounds, you should drink 85 ounces of water.)
  • Reduce Stress – Easier said than done for a lot of people, but try yoga, meditation, or just positive thoughts throughout the day.  Taking an afternoon break for a cup of hot Wise Women’s Tea is a great antioxidant and immune booster.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth if your hands are not clean.  Washing your hands regularly goes a long way in reducing the spread of all viruses.

When all is said and done, this new coronavirus will no doubt spread and infect a lot of people, but that doesn’t need to include you if you take proactive steps to protect yourself and your loved ones.


Oh, and here’s a recipe for homemade hand sanitizer:

Combine in a bowl:
⅔-cup rubbing alcohol (99% isopropyl alcohol)
⅓-cup aloe vera gel

Stir well with a wire whisk. Decant into a clean soap or pump bottle. You can buy little pump bottles on Amazon.

New Year’s Revolution

New Year’s Revolution

Dear Friends,

Every year, we make New Year’s resolutions with the hopes that THIS year will be different. We are zealots on a mission to become thinner, more organized and more financially successful, among other things.

But stop and think for a moment. Who makes these New Year’s resolutions, anyway? Yes indeed, it’s perfectionism is who writes our unachievable, over the top, New Year’s resolutions.

Here’s the kicker: when you’re FLYing, it’s a BabyStep Revolution, daily. All or nothing attitudes paint us into a corner. There is either great success (and believe me, it’s the RARE person who is able to pull that off) or there is more commonly, dismal defeat, guilt and a self-beating that follows.

FlyLady always says to jump in where you are—how can you not agree with that? That’s actually a LOCATION if you really think about it. How can you jump in, in any other way? “Where you are” is your only choice!

Why does it have to be January first or even a Monday before we are willing to start fresh? Fresh starts are something we’re capable of every day. And we don’t need a New Year to do it, either!

So where does food fit into all of this? Well, isn’t it obvious? What do you think the number one New Year’s resolution is? That’s right—lose weight. How many have you said, “And this year, I mean it!” Only to end up at the end of the year actually GAINING?

Why do you think that is? Those weight loss gimmicks you see on TV make their living off our perfectionism: that all or nothing attitude. The “Lose 50 pounds in just 6 weeks” scenarios have our names on them and we line up willingly with credit cards in hand to make 3 easy payments of just $19.95 each. Like lemmings, we’re willing to jump off of any weight loss cliff to get to our goal. Even if it means messing up the family budget to do it! The BabyStep approach isn’t enough for us. Even though we have seen what BabySteps can do to a house full of clutter, we don’t see the corresponding principle for our body clutter.

This has GOT to stop. Stop this insane behavior before you get sucked into another infomercial and plunk down another hunk of cash for a bunch of stuff that promises you the impossible. Let me rephrase that—what they promise you IS possible for some people; however, you need to radically change your entire life to accommodate their programs. Read the fine print, too. On the bottom of the screen when they are giving their testimonials on their dramatic weight losses, it ALWAYS says, “Results not typical.”

Let me tell you something: when it comes to weight loss: what is typical are the people they would never bring on screen in a million years. The ones who didn’t make it and didn’t get “Results not typical” in fine print under their before and after shots. These are the women whose “failure” financed the hype of this infomercial!

If you have never succeeded in losing your body clutter, you are not alone. I am going to bet that the reason is that all or nothing attitude. Losing it one BabyStep at a time, isn’t even on your radar screen.

Here’s the deal: we need a revolution, not another stupid resolution. Let’s start where we are: do you have some body clutter to lose? So do I! How can we do it? BabySteps: A little less food on the plate, a little more movement (exercise in whatever form) and a little more water to drink. That simple. Let’s begin by THINKING about what we are consuming instead of rationalizing it. Remember it ALL counts—whether you eat in the car, standing up over the sink or with the refrigerator door open.

Remember, that Awareness and Knowledge make for Wisdom. 2020, here we come!!!


Easing into a cleaner lifestyle

Easing into a cleaner lifestyle

During the holidays, it’s perfectly fine to savor one of your favorite desserts or to have an extra glass of egg nog or two, but you shouldn’t use the whole season as an excuse to overindulge.

Tens of thousands of Americans will resolve to lose weight and to get healthier in 2020.

I have weight loss on the brain today because I’m seeing everyone’s New Year Resolutions. I thought the timing was just right to talk a little bit about how to take baby steps to ease yourself into a healthier eating regime.

You may be hesitant to adopt a healthier lifestyle for fear that you’ll have to change too much all at once, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming!

Here are five tips that you can use to help ease into a cleaner diet:


Cut back on take out.

By shopping for fresh ingredients and making your own meals, you’ll be doing yourself a huge favor! Fast food is chock full of unhealthy fats, sodium, sugar and calories. There are also preservatives and other chemicals that our bodies could do without.


Learn to read labels.

Very little good comes out of boxes where food is concerned, but if you know how to read labels, you can start making better choices. If you have to spend more than a few seconds to decipher a food’s label, then your body won’t know what to do with those unpronounceable additives either! Skip anything with flavor enhancers, flavorings or fake colors.


Stop drinking calories.

Sugary coffee drinks, sodas, juices . . . they’re not good for us. They serve no nutritional purpose and they are nothing but empty calories. Reach for water to quench your thirst and you’ll be doing yourself a big favor.


Eat more vegetables.

Bulk up on veggies. Eat them with every meal and don’t be stingy. I’m not talking about iceberg lettuce, either! Reach for dark leafy greens (organic, please!) like spinach and kale. Snack on carrot sticks and broccoli. Eat a rainbow each day and you’ll be amazed with the results.


Stop buying crappy food.

You know which foods are not serving your health, so stop buying them. You don’t need those cookies and cakes. Those tubs of ice cream and bags of chips look good at the time, but if you bring them home, you’ll only eat them— so leave them on the store shelves!


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