Category Archives: Food Sensitivities

Autoimmune Paleo Cuban Mojo Pork

Cuban Mojo Pork

This recipe is a simple derivation from the recipe used in the movie Chef, which was a hit amongst foodies in 2014. The original recipe can be found here.
This pork roast is an easy and highly flavorful dish that is most authentically served alongside fried plantains or sliced, tucked into a homemade plantain wrap and served with a salad. Simple and Merry makes my favorite plantain wraps recipe, which you can find here.

As I am testing out the AIP diet on myself I am eager to find easy dinners and meals that can be prepared with a wide variety of flavor. It’s very easy to get bored on AIP, so we gotta shake it up as much as we can!

Try this out and tell me know what you think!

AIP Cuban Mojo Pork

1 cup lightly packed cilantro, roughly chopped
1 Tbsp. finely grated orange zest
¾ cup fresh orange juice
½ cup fresh lime juice
¼ cup lightly packed mint leaves, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tbsp. minced oregano
Sea Salt
3½ lbs. boneless pork shoulder, in one piece
Butcher’s String to tie pork together


Place all ingredients aside from the salt and pork in a blender and food processor and pulse on low to finely chop the herbs and garlic. Add a tsp. of salt to the marinade and pulse again once to mix.

Set the pork in a large glass bowl or baking dish and cover with marinade. Cover and refrigerate overnight, rotating once to allow both sides to soak up the marinade.

Preheat the oven to 425° and set a rack over a shallow roasting pan. Transfer the pork to a cutting board and discard the marinade. Fold the pork under itself, into thirds if necessary, and tie with string to form a neat roll. Season all over with salt and place it upon the rack.

Roast the pork for 30 minutes at 425°, until lightly browned. Reduce the oven temperature to 375° and roast for 1 hour and 30 minutes longer or until a meat thermometer inserted in the center reads 150° – 160°
Remove the pork form the oven and to a carving board and let rest for 30 minutes. Remove the butcher’s string, slice across the grain and serve.

Make Ahead and Freeze:

Place all ingredients aside from the salt and pork in a blender and food processor and pulse on low to finely chop the herbs and garlic. Add a tsp. of salt to the marinade and pulse again once to mix. Place the pork and the marinade in an extra large ziploc bag or double layered plastic bag and use a rubber band AND butchers string to tie it together. Freeze for up to 3 months.

To cook, remove from freezer and thaw overnight. Preheat the oven to 425° and set a rack over a shallow roasting pan. Transfer the pork to a cutting board and discard the marinade. Fold the pork under itself, into thirds if necessary, and use the butcher’s string from the freezer bag to form a neat roll and tie it together. Season all over with salt and place it upon the rack.

Roast the pork for 30 minutes at 425°, until lightly browned. Reduce the oven temperature to 375° and roast for 1 hour and 30 minutes longer or until a meat thermometer inserted in the center reads 150° – 160°
Remove the pork form the oven and to a carving board and let rest for 30 minutes. Remove the butcher’s string, slice across the grain and serve.

What the F*** is FODMAPS?


VIBRANCE Dietitian Kate Watson weighs in on a low FODMAPS diet – one of the most effective ways to treat IBS through diet..


Hey, Kate – What is this FODMAPs diet all about?

You may have seen this acronym “FODMAPs” recently if you’ve read anything about sensitive stomachs or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Information about this diet has been popping up in the news lately, as more is understood about it and as more people look for relief from chronic digestive issues.

Researchers at the Monash University in Australia first identified FODMAPs, certain carbohydrates that may be a big contributor to symptoms of IBS. They have found that a diet low in FODMAPs can bring tremendous relief to IBS sufferers, with up to 75% of patients showing marked improvement in symptoms. Before this research, dietary guidelines for people with IBS were general and often anecdotal. This is the first time any scientifically proven diet has been found as a treatment for IBS. This is very exciting because if you or someone you know lives with IBS, you understand how frustrating and downright debilitating it can be.

So what does FODMAPs mean?

The FODMAPs are a group of carbohydrates which may be poorly absorbed in the small intestine. They are then fermented by bacteria in the gut to produce gas, leading to bloating, abdominal pain, and altered bowel habits after ingestion. The acronym stands for (pay attention, you will be quizzed on this later): Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. Here’s what each of those mean.

Fermentable means they produce gas. Oligosaccharides are Fructans and Galacto-oligosaccharides found in things like wheat, garlic, lentils, and onion. Disaccharides is lactose, found in many dairy products. Monosaccharides is fructose found in apples, pears, and honey. And Polyols are Sorbitol and Mannitol (or sugar alcohols) found in mushrooms, peaches, and artificially sweetened candies and gums.
These are just a few examples of FODMAPs but they are found in many common foods, as you can see!

Who is this diet for?

I don’t believe that a low FODMAPs diet is right for everyone with IBS or stomach sensitivities. If you have not tried any other dietary strategies to help manage your IBS before, it might not make sense to jump into a low FODMAPs diet first, since it is somewhat difficult to follow and is rather restrictive.

Sometimes making a simple change, such as increasing fiber, or identifying a food sensitivity can make all the difference. In addition, if you are under a great deal of stress and feel that adding dietary restrictions to your life will make you more stressed, it may not be the best time for you to try a low FODMAPs diet. On the other hand, if you feel you’ve tried everything already, and still haven’t been symptom free for any period of time, you might be a great candidate for this diet. Or if it feels like everything you eat makes you sick, this diet will help you identify your triggers. It is important to note that if you have not seen a doctor for your tummy issues, please do so, as changes in bowel habits or sudden development of GI problems can be a sign of something more serious than IBS.

So what exactly does following this diet entail?

What is important to know is that the low FODMAPs diet is meant to be temporary and to be followed strictly for a period of 6-8 weeks until symptoms have resolved. In general, the diet is wheat free and lactose free and certain fruits and vegetables are also restricted. It would be impossible to memorize all of the FODMAPs, so working with a dietitian, having food lists, and recipes on hand are essential. I installed an awesome FODMAPs app from Monash University on my Iphone, which I rely on a great deal. (Get the FODMAPs app Kate uses here: Low FODMAP Smartphone App)

You should know that a low-FODMAPs diet can be difficult to adhere to during food-centered social activities and eating at restaurants. However, with advance planning, you can find ways to integrate the diet into your social life. For example, checking a restaurant menu online before going there can give you a chance to plan what to order before you arrive.

After the 6-8 week time period, you can start a challenge phase, where FODMAPs are re-introduced one at a time over a period of days while symptoms are monitored and recorded. I highly recommend that you seek the guidance of a dietitian knowledgeable in FODMAPS to help support you throughout the diet and during the challenge phase. This is important to ensure that your diet is balanced and nutritious.

Though this diet may sound like a lot of work, often by the end of the first week, many people feel so much better than they have in months or years that they are highly motivated to stay on it! That was my experience—I felt it was worth the time and dedication to follow the diet because it allowed me to be symptom free for possibly the first time in my adult life!

If you would like to learn more about whether the low FODMAPs diet is right for you, or if you are ready to implement it now, please contact Vibrance for a consultation with me!

Chocolate Milk is Crap! (and other blasphemous thoughts on sports nutrition)

Yes – I think chocolate milk is crap. The recovery food hailed by the world as being the perfect post-workout replenishment falls far short of it in my book. Before I fully step upon my soap box – again! – let me explain why chocolate milk rose to fame:

The key nutrition components to a complete recovery can be summed up in two categories: 1) food and 2) hydration. Here’s why the Dairy Council and many coaches and sports nutritionists are pimping milk at the finish line:

  • Chocolate milk contains the ideal* ratio of carbohydrates to protein – the 1:3 – 1:4 ratio that not only replenishes glycogen but also provides protein for tissue repair and transport of the carbohydrates more effectively into the cell walls. *ideal if you are male. Women do better on a 1:2-1:3 ratio
  • Chocolate milk is liquid – therefore it contributes to rehydrating the body
  • Chocolate milk is tasty – I mean, really! Who the heck doesn’t like chocolate milk?!?!
  • Chocolate milk is cheap, convenient and accessible. You can find it anywhere – even along a highway in rural Kansas at a truck stop or gas station.

The above facts are exactly why you are thinking chocolate milk sounds good right about now! However, I take the viewpoint that the human body is a miraculous vessel. When you think about all it does for you and all it puts up with it’s easy to understand that it is an incredible machine – not unlike a Ferrari or a Tesla or a Lamborghini. Chocolate milk is like putting the cheapest unleaded fuel you can find into your half million dollar sports car. Here’s why:

  1. Chocolate milk is a dairy food – and dairy foods come with a host of potential problems. They are difficult for many to digest (an estimated 60-75% of the adult human population exhibits signs of dairy intolerance) and often laced with excessive hormones from the conditions in which cattle are raised. Excess estrogen is already of great concern in many individuals and is linked to hormone imbalances and possibly cancer in humans. Dairy only exacerbates that. (My former teacher Dr. Mark Hyman has a compelling piece on dairy and the Food Guide Pyramid here if you want more info).
  2. Chocolate milk’s carbohydrate source comes exclusively from lactose (potential allergen) and high fructose corn syrup or sugar. HFCS is strongly suspect as being a contributor to diabetes and non-alcohol related fatty liver due to how it is digested in the body. It also must be metabolized through the liver before getting into cells so it is not appropriate for optimal glycogen replenishment. Corn syrup and table sugar, are of course, the most nutritionally devoid form of carbohydrate on the market. Regardless of where any nutritionist or dietitian is on our highly political food spectrum,  we all agree that sugar and corn syrup are not ideal sources of carbohydrate. So my question to you is, are they the sources you want to be pumping into your cells to repair them after a hard workout? Do you want the construct of your muscle tissue to come from vitamin-devoid  sweeteners?
  3. Chocolate milk doesn’t have enough protein to repair muscle. Period. We need about 25-30 grams of protein post-workout (that includes at least 3 grams of leucine) to stimulate muscle building and repair. Chocolate milk does not provide this.

This stance alone has some of you wanting to squeeze the remainder of your milk carton in my face. I get it. I’m not taking a popular stance here! If milk judgement were my only offense, you might forgive me. But I have more blasphemy for you.

You Know You Want To.


Carb loading. Our mainstay and go-to: the absolute foundation of endurance sports nutrition lies in carb loading. I cannot tell you how many hundreds of pancake feeds, pasta feeds, thai food feasts and other meals I’ve had after long runs in the last decade. This was a myth I bought hook, line, and sinker. It made sense. It was widely backed by research. The entire sports nutrition community did it and backed it. And pancakes and pasta sound AWESOME after 2-3 hours on the road. Another easy sell!  I began to question this logic though when it became more and more challenging to maintain my weight. I struggled to prevent weight gain when my training was at its highest – 10 hours a week or more! At 5’2″ my stomach doesn’t hold enough food to make up for the calories I was losing, yet I was still challenged. Working with other endurance athletes – I saw the same struggles in them. It wasn’t until I understood the hormonal impact of carbohydrates in relation to fat burning and left the caloric model completely that I was able to lose the 7 pounds I gained for my last races in 2010 AND be able to help other runners and triathletes lose the spare tire that refused to go away. Looking around we all know that some people stay slender and others have to fight for it. The answer, however, isn’t in hours logged and miles run so much as it is in the food choices we make on an hour to hour basis. I, and other endurance athletes like myself, find better results in carbohydrate moderation rather than carbohydrate loading. I discovered that there was no need to carb-up or recover to the extent that I had been taught. Many runners will only lean out when they start moderating the quantity and timing of their carbohydrate intake. If you are burning loads of calories and still struggling with weight you’ll want to explore this possibility immediately.

My final blasphemy for the day is a hybrid of the above two. The pre-race spaghetti feed.  For races less than 2 hours long, it is unlikely you will need to consume extra carbohydrates than you typically do unless you are on a carbohydrate restricted diet. For many events, such a feed is simply unnecessary. Events lasting longer than two hours are best fueled with moderate carbohydrate consumption the day before and with amino acid and carbohydrate replenishment during the event. Your pre-race meal is to top off the tank, not fill it to overflowing.

Another consideration with the pre-race pasta meal again lies in food intolerances and digestive upset. Gluten intolerance is very common in my practice and increasingly common in the general population. Thus the pasta feed can lead to digestive upset during the race, increased inflammation and decreased recovery, poor moods, decreased alertness and motor skills (I kid you not!) and overall lowered performance. Many clients have had a significant shift in performance simply by shifting the pre-race meal to sushi, brown rice pasta with loads of vegetables, or including a baked yam or potato with dinner the night before. Give it a try before your next race and see if you feel a difference! If you already have a gluten-free pre-race meal, I’d love to know what it is so I can share with my gluten-free athletes!

It is not my intention to create enemies with this post – only to open up the possibility for alternatives if what you are currently accepting as appropriate is, in fact, not working for you.  Each person is unique and therefore requires a unique formula to achieve success on and off the trail.

What fueling strategies have you found to be successful for your long workouts?

Breaded Zucchini (or Paleo Friez!)


My memories of breaded zucchini date back to the late 80s and early 90’s, when I would enjoy the fried version with a batch of marinara sauce at Denny’s or some other large chain restaurant.
I’m a big fan of zucchini – roasted, sauteed, in soups and stews, but I haven’t thought about breaded zucchini in well over a decade. Once I snubbed my nose at fried foods it disappeared from my memory banks.

I’m excited to have the crunchy and the zucchini goodness back on my menu again with this recipe. Now that my tastes have expanded, I also see this pairing well with BBQ sauce, Honey mustard, as a french fry substitute sprinkled with quality vinegar. I love healthy versions of winter comfort food!
Breaded Zucchini or Paleo Zuke Fries

(recipe adapted from


  • 2 medium-sized zucchini
  • 1/2-3/4 C almond flour
  • 1/4 C water
  • 2 Tb ground flax seed (or 1 egg, beaten)
  • salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • (Optional: 2 tbsp.freshly grated Parmesan cheese)

1) Mix water with flax seed and set aside for about 5 minutes to gel. Alternatively, beat egg until thoroughly mixed.

2) For fries, slice zucchini into ~3″ long fry spears (i.e., about the length of normal fries, but about double the thickness). For breaded zucchini, just slice into long, flat strips. Follow directions the same unless noted.

3) In a deep plate, add about 1/4 C almond flour, and generously mix in salt.

4) Once flax has gelled some, dip or roll zucchini in the flax “egg”.

5) Roll each individual fry in almond flour breading mixture to coat. Set aside.

6) Add more flour/salt mix to plate and make more flax egg as needed until all zucchini is used.

7) Place on greased, flat baking sheet, and cook in oven at 400 degrees F, flipping carefully after the first side browns. (Keep a close eye on these — they can burn fairly quickly.) For breaded zucchini, simply fry them in some coconut oil on the stove, flipping once browned on one side.

“OMFG, Are-You-For-Real” Decadent Chocolate Pudding

I’m 25 days into an allergy elimination diet and I feel like I am going mad.

(She looks just like me, minus the Tammy Faye Baker mascara streaks and the bruise on my forehead from banging my head on my desk.)

This diet, offered by my friends at Metabolic Effect, is a more extreme version of my detox plan and it is designed for digestive healing – something I have wanted to undertake myself on a deeper level for several years, but until now it hasn’t been the right time and place in my life to do so.

So I jump in gung-ho last month and eliminated a laundry list of common foods that would make your wince, PLUS any food not on that list that I eat three or more times per week. (adios, chicken!) I quickly discovered that most of the spice blends I rely upon for flavor had forbidden elements to them. So I’ve been leaning on salt and pepper and am bored to tears tonight with any options I have available to me.

Some of this is poor planning on my part – I got too wrapped up in work to ensure my fridge was stocked full of fun foods on the okay list. I plowed through my exotic meats and haven’t made it back to the butcher to get more. (BONUS – I have tried kangaroo and elk this last month! I may go for the water buffalo next. Not sure what to do with python meat, but I want to try it…so much fun!) Thus the last few days have been piecing together pathetic excuses for a meal from the back of my cupboard, trying to make do with something satisfying if I am eating out (so far, this is impossible) and trying not to say “the hell with it!” and stuff brownies into my mouth while I am making macaroni and cheese and melting ice cream in the microwave so I don’t have to worry about brain freeze.


One of the things that has kept me sane is the recipe I am sharing below. It feels SO NAUGHTY that I don’t even want to get fresh strawberry pie or ice cream or a latte (okay, maybe I still want a latte) or any of the other treats I have whined about the last 3 1/2 weeks. I’m counting my lucky stars that this plan said nothing about eliminating cocoa powder, so I have been relishing this pudding spoonful by spoonful. It is thick, creamy, sweet enough to satisfy and so quickly made I feel like I am cheating somehow. Whether or not you are on a food restricted meal plan, you simply MUST make this decadent dessert and share it with your favorite people!

“OMFG, Are You For Real” Decadent Chocolate Pudding (gluten,soy,dairy,egg and sugar free)

1 cup coconut cream, 1 ripe avocado, 2 tbsp. cocoa and 6 dates.

Yeah. That’s it.

Throw everything but the dates into a blender, then add the dates one at a time until desired sweetness is achieved.


Not one to keep a recipe as is, I decided to adjust my second batch to bring in some protein and reduce the sugars from the dates. I added 1 scoop of Vega Sport Performance Protein powder – an excellent soy-free, vegan protein powder that is my favorite choice right now. The recipe turned out slightly different but just as good, and I was able to reduce the amount of dates to 2 due to the stevia in the Vega Sport.
That recipe is as follows:

1 scoop Vega Sport Performance Protein Powder

1 avocado

1 1/3 cup coconut cream (more liquid is needed to offset the dry powder)

2 tbsp. cocoa powder

1 tsp. vanilla (optional)

2 dates, pitted.

Repeat the process above.

For those following the Metabollic Effect Plan, or understand hormonal carbs, there are only 6 grams of hormonal carbohydrates per serving (a generous 1/4 of the recipe). This is rich enough that I am quite satisfied with a honking spoonful, so I end up with about 8 or so servings each time I make it.

Alas, I have no ripe avocados at the moment. But soon. Soon. This recipe will be the key to making it over the next few weeks.

Tonight, however, begins food prep night. Pounds of produce grilled, roasted, and baked. A couple of salmon fillets that will get the standard salt and peppering, and yummy yams for something sweet until the avocado ripens.



Cooling Inflammation: 6 Things You Can Do

The popularity of recent workshops on Inflammation indicate this problem has not cooled down!
While genetics often play a role in predisposing one to inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, diabetes or heart disease, diet and lifestyle is the critical key that unlocks the Pandora’s box of inflammatory disease.
The great news is that we have so much power to self-heal! The body, always seeking health and wellness, responds beautifully to returning to a natural diet rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. Below is a list of 6 things anyone can do to cool the fires of inflammation.

  1. Eliminate hydrogenated oils from your pantry and become a sleuth when consuming anything that isn’t homemade! This ubiquitous “fat” gums up the cell’s ability to communicate effectively, is directly linked to an increase in heart disease and is highly suspect in diabetes and certain types of cancers. Several countries have banned it outright. It has no place in a healthy food supply, period. Just a few grams a day radically increases one’s chance of dying from heart disease by increasing bad cholesterol (LDL) and lowering good cholesterol (HDL). You are safer using lard. No joke!
  2. Another product to eradicate: high fructose corn syrup! HFCS has been linked to an increase in triglyceride levels, obesity and insulin resistance. All of these states themselves are risk factors for inflammatory diseases.
  3. Use healthy oils such as olive oil, coconut oil, and sesame oils when cooking. These oils are health-promoting! According to Mary G. Enig, Ph.D, the study which indicted coconut oil as a heart disease promoter used hydrogenated coconut oil for research! Natural coconut oil has not been shown to have deleterious effects in epidemiological studies.
  4. Supplement with Omega-3 fatty acids: even if you are eating cold water fish twice a week, you are likely not consuming enough omega-3 fats. Taking a fish oil supplement will increase your stores of EPA and DHA, which have anti-inflammatory properties in the body. If you are a vegetarian, you may receive your omega-3s from flax oil or algae, however adequate absorption may be of concern. Speak with a nutrition professional to find appropriate doses for you.
  5. Consume high amounts of colorful fruits and veggies! Fruits and vegetables are rich in specific anti-oxidants and phytochemicals that have anti-inflammatory effects. When choosing them, look for bold, bright colors. This is an indicator of high amounts of protective factors. Choose organic whenever possible; organic produce is known to have greater amounts of antioxidants than conventionally grown produce.
  6. Consider food intolerances: Many people have an intolerance to dairy, wheat, soy, or other commonly consumed food. This can cause low levels of inflammation as the body initiates an immune response to fight off a “foreign” invader. Symptoms include mucus (runny nose, phlegmy cough after meals), joint pain, digestive upset (stomach cramping, loose or infrequent stools), mood swings, blood sugar disturbances, headaches, brain fog, and more. With such subtle symptoms, food is often not the suspected cause! Consider eliminating a suspect food for 7-10 days and see how you feel. Then introduce it back at one meal in pure form (a glass of milk, a cup of noodles) and see what happens. My clients are often shocked at what they find, and pleased to find real solutions to nagging problems.

Antioxidants in organic berries higher; Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Vol. 56, pages 5,788-5794 (2008), published online on July 1, 2008.

The negative effects of hydrogenated trans fats and what to do about them.
Kummerow FA. Atherosclerosis. 2009 Mar 19.

Detox Friendly Pesto

This vegan pesto was a great hit last night! The miso is a fine substitute for cheese; most could not even tell the difference!

1 cup pinenuts (use equal parts pumpkin and sunflower seeds for nut allergies)

1/2 cup high quality extra virgin olive oil

4-5 cloves garlic

3 tbsp. chickpea miso (or mild yellow miso if you are not detoxing or soy-sensitive)

2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice (1/2 – 1 lemon)

2 bunches fresh basil

Tear basil leaves from stem. Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Thin with additional lemon juice, if desired.

Toss with spaghetti squash, use to flavor soups, or add onto sandwiches and pastas.

VIBRANCE Recommends: Gluten/Soy/Dairy Free Shopping Guide

I just received a piece of bliss in my mailbox.
It looks like this:

This guide is a must-have for anyone with multiple food sensitivities. It takes the guesswork out of the initial search that must go into creating a new lifestyle. I wish I had it last year, but I am so grateful to have it now — it will be a great asset in maintaining an optimal eating structure.

Small enough to fit into your purse, this indispensible guide contains over 10,000 sources of GF/SF/DF items in grocery stores. Is ice cream on your list (or wish it was)? You have no less than 17 brands to choose from, including easily accessible sources like Coldstone Creamery, Dreyers/Edy’s and Safeway Select.

I am so excited to have this guide, and am looking forward to having it as a guide for some of my food-intolerant clientele!
For those of you with food intolerances, what other sources have you utilized to help you navigate the grocery store?

VIBRANCE Recommends: Food for Life Millet Bread

Searching for a tasty gluten-free bread used to be an expensive hit and miss. Up until a few years ago, there were very few options and most of them were so unpalatable it was best to just go without.

Food for Life has done an excellent job of creating a variety of breads that are satisfying, unique, and versatile. Among my favorites of the company’s options is their millet bread; it is the only one I can eat without toasting (although I still prefer it toasted).

Food for Life’s Millet bread is moist and slightly sweet with bits of crunchy whole grain millet embedded in the loaf. It is the perfect carrier to the cashew butter ginger jam breakfast sandwiches that are a mainstay in my home. I nearly always gravitate to this loaf, occasionally seeking variety in the Raisin Almond Loaf or the China Black Rice Loaf.

If you are working on a gluten-free diet, give Food for Life’s Millet Bread a whirl. If you have a personal favorite that you use, please share it here!