Growing Vital Health

Leslie Elia





     As a health coach, part of my job is to stay current with the nutritional trends. The two trendy buzz words that are floating around the nutrition world lately are “allergies” and “sensitivities”.  Many people want to know what the difference is, and even more people are telling me that their doctor has told them that their blood work shows no food allergies. Still, they have symptoms like bloated belly, headaches, brain fog, rosacea, adult acne, aching joints, unexplained loss of sleep and more.


    I am here to profess to you that these are not normal signs of aging. Our bodies were made to work and made to work well. Many of the symptoms mentioned are indicative of a food allergy or sensitivity.  A true food allergy is when the person eats an allergic reactive food and suffers immediate symptoms like hives, swollen airway and even anaphylaxis.  This constitutes a severe reaction to the immune system.


     An intolerance or sensitivity is less severe and not usually life threatening. Many doctors will even tell you that there is no such thing as an intolerance or sensitivity.  You know your own body better than that.  If you consistently feel bloated after eating gluten products or have constipation and lower cramps after eating cheese and other dairy products, then you cannot tell me that food has nothing to do with it.


    The top foods to watch out for are dairy (milk, cheese, butter, whey), gluten (wheat products as well as bulgur, barley, couscous, kamut, rye berries and spelt), eggs (which can also be called albumin, globulin, ovomucoid, vitellin, and ovalbumin on ingredient lists), peanuts (in lots of oils we use), corn (used in most oils and is often made into high fructose corn syrup and added to most processed foods), soy ( found in oils, Asian foods, many processed foods and alternative milk products), and artificial sweeteners like aspartame and Splenda.


    The sad testimony to our standard American diet is that the top allergy/sensitivity foods are from the crops we use the most. Do you find it interesting that those top crops of corn, soy and wheat are also the most genetically modified crops to date?  Why do we put corn syrup in otherwise healthy foods like salsa, canned soups and crackers?  My grandmother's recipes never called for high fructose corn syrup. Why do we put soy in so many processed dry goods? Many of us in the health industry are ashamed that we took otherwise healthy foods like corn and peanuts, and overloaded our systems with too much of a good thing.  Our bodies are in a state of rebellion with the overload, and often do not know what to do with the foods we consider to now be toxins.  Toxins our body cannot eliminate are stored in our fat cells and fat is often stored in our mid section where it causes inflammation and disease. 


    By now are you asking what is left to eat?  I am just at the tail end of 21 days of removing all allergens from my diet, and will slowly reintroduce them back in and see where my own personal sensitivities are. I can assure you that I did not go hungry and I did not have to spend my entire day in the kitchen making everything from scratch.  I enjoyed a gluten free pie made with a rice flour crust, a stir fry made with kelp noodles, dishes like cabbage and potatoes, lentil soups, flax cracker sandwiches with humus and avocado and much more.


     I will admit that I had to be creative when family time came around. While the family watched a movie, the kids were munching on pop corn with butter and pretzels.  I tore open my tin of flax crackers and dipped them in humus.  While my husband was enjoying his beer (wheat) I enjoyed my raw juice of apples, beets, carrot and ginger.  When my vegetarian kids were eating soy burgers, I slapped together a burger made from black beans, lentils and onions. I used two large lettuce leaves as the “bread” and made sure my ketchup did not contain High Fructose Corn Syrup as most of them do. When my husband cracked two or three eggs for a breakfast scramble, I enjoyed a hot bowl of amaranth cereal with raw almond milk. No sacrifice is too small when I can wake up without pain,  irritability, and belly bloat!


     If you would like to try a detox diet to remove sensitive foods, you must know that you will suffer some detox symptoms such as headaches, irritability, even rashes or body odor as the fat cells release

the toxins into your bloodstream to be eliminated through sweat, urine and bowel movements. To do any type of detox, you should get a doctors permission, and see a good Certified Health Coach who

can help you find new recipes, and navigate through reading the ingredients of the overly processed foods we eat.  At Growing Vital Health, you can receive a 1 hour FREE health consultation to see what foods may be causing health issues in your life. Today is the day that you can take charge of your brain fog, aching joints, lack of sleep, excess belly fat, skin problems and constipation.  Don't wait. Please call 440-729-3627 or visit today.

Have a healthy and allergy free day,

Your Health Coach, Leslie



Khmer Tofu and Aubergine Curry

Khmer Tofu and Aubergine Curry

(Serves 4-5)

While many non-native foods reached Cambodia from other lands, a wealth of sugar palms, coconut trees, papayas, mangoes, and bananas are indigenous and thrive happily in the warm region. Vegetables are colorful, plentiful, and often grow wild. Bright displays of lufa gourd, eggplant, water spinach, yard-long beans, mushrooms, cabbage, bamboo shoots, Chinese broccoli, carrots, garlic, and snow peas are readily available at open-air farmers' markets.

I've adapted this typically spicy Cambodian curry to be far milder than its original fiery version but every bit as delicious. In addition to their frequent use of chilies and black pepper, Southeast Asian cooks turn to fresh herbs, which they use liberally to infuse their foods with enticing flavors`. Because fresh herbs love Cambodia's hot, humid climate, they grow with enthusiasm. Serve this tasty curry over brown rice or rice noodles.

Using Kaffir Lime Leaves

Endowed with a uniquely delicious flavor, these aromatic leaves add a desirable touch to Southeast Asian soups, curries, and sauces. Look for fresh or frozen kaffir lime leaves in Asian markets. If the leaves are fresh and pliable, use them whole or slice them into 1/8 -inch slivers and add to stirfries or soups as directed. If the leaves are dried, use them whole in recipes with plenty of liquid, such as soups or saucy dishes. Discard before serving.

Where to Kuy

Caramelized Pineapple and Coconut Rice Pudding

Caramelized Pineapple and Coconut Rice Pudding

(Serves 6)

Cambodians include rice at dessert time, too. The rich contribution of the coconut milk and the unique topping of ginger-infused, caramelized pineapple turn this simple rice pudding into a real treat. If you make this dessert ahead, chill the caramelized pineapple separately and warm it just before serving - you'll be glad you did!

2/ cups lite coconut milk

VA cups unsweetened soymilk

2A cup vegan sugar*(page 17), divided

A cup sweet rice, also called sticky rice

2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

VA teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 Tablespoons toasted, dried unsweetened coconut

1 large ripe pineapple

2 Tablespoons sesame oil

2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated

2-3 Tablespoons toasted sesame seeds or toasted shredded coconut for garnish

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and lightly oil an 8 x 8-inch baking dish.

In a medium bowl, combine the coconut milk, soymilk, 1/3 cup of the sugar, rice, lemon juice, vanilla extract, and lemon zest. Mix well and pour into prepared baking dish. Mix again to distribute the rice evenly.

Bake the mixture for 30 minutes. Remove and stir in the toasted coconut and bake for another IV2 hours.

"Scallops" and Butternut Curry

(Serves 6)

The lure of Cambodia is its gentle caress on the hearts and memories of those who come to visit. With its lush tropical jungles, bright sunshine, and gleaming Buddhist temples whose spires reach for the sky, this Southeast Asian locale is also the land of warm-hearted people, sprawling rice paddies, and an unhurried pace of rural life along the meandering Mekong River and Tonle Sap Lake. These forested lands and essential waterways are the indispensable lifelines contributing to a rich culture of food traditions that revolve around abundant rice, exotic fruits and vegetables, and everything coconut.

In this aromatic curry I use king oyster mushrooms to stand in for the scallops because they provide that perfect hearty base and offer a satisfying similar chewiness to that of scallops. This dish provides plenty of sauce to spoon over steamed brown rice or noodles. If you can locate galangal, experiment with it in place of the ginger and you'll discover a delightful new richness of flavor. When cooked, galangal also becomes pleasantly soft and can be eaten like a vegetable.

1 medium onion, thinly sliced into half moons

¼ cup water

2 red chilies, seeded and slivered

1-inch piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

1 Tablespoon canola oil

2 teaspoons dried curry leaves

3 teaspoon ground turmeric

2 ¼ cups lite coconut milk

1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces

7 Things You Didn’t Know About...Pasta

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For a food as ubiquitous as pasta, I bet there is a lot you don’t know about it or its history. 

It’s one of America’s favorite foods—we eat more of it per capita than any other country—and although we consider it to be an Italian food, its original beginnings were in China. 

While no one would dispute its role as a comfort food, there is a divide over whether or not it should be included in a healthy diet. Those on low carb or gluten-free diets shun it, while marathon runners often load up on it before a big race. 

So what’s the real deal on pasta? Check out these 7 interesting facts about pasta: 

Founding (pasta) Father: You can thank Thomas Jefferson for introducing pasta to the United States. While serving as the US Ambassador overseas, he sampled a macaroni dish in Naples and liked it so much, he promptly sent crates of macaroni and a pasta-making machine back to the States.

Brooklyn beginnings: In 1848, the first American pasta factory was opened in Brooklyn, New York, by a Frenchman named Antoine Zerega. He managed the entire operation with just one horse in his basement to power the machinery. To dry his spaghetti, he placed strands of the pasta on the roof to dry in the sunshine.

Why You Should Add These 10 Superfoods to Your Diet

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Superfoods are one of the trendiest topics in the health and nutrition world. It’s almost impossible to read any book or article about nutrition without the mention of them! But what exactly is a superfood and why are they so good for you?

The term “superfood” is a classification for foods that have the highest concentration of nutrients and vitamins. While you might immediately think of things like chia seeds or maca, which are added recipes to boost their nutrients, superfoods aren’t just additives! Many superfoods are actually vegetables, like kale or mushrooms, which can be eaten on their own!

For the most accurate information on superfoods, I went straight to the expert: David Wolfe. David is a health, eco, nutrition, and natural beauty expert as well as an advocate for the power of a plant-based diet. The first time I heard him speak was while I was a student at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where he talked about the benefits of raw food. I was instantly hooked!

Beginner’s Guide to Urban Gardening

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Who says you need wide open spaces and top-notch soil to have the garden of your dreams?

If you’re an apartment dweller like me, all you really need is some repurposed containers, dirt and seeds, and a windowsill or small outdoor space.

And voila! You’re on your way to growing some amazing plants and produce (think about the money you’ll save on groceries!).

Here are the easy-to-follow directions to help you get the ball rolling on your very own urban garden.

1. Choose your planters. Go ahead and mix it up by planting in containers you already have at home. Coffee cans, paint buckets, and even milk jugs work as long as they’re big enough to allow for healthy root growth. This means using planters that are around 10 inches deep by 10 inches wide for small herbs and leafy greens and between 5 and 7 gallons for larger vegetables like tomatoes and carrots.

Natural Skin Treatments for Summer Weather Woes

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Summer’s gorgeous sunshine, soft breezes, and blooming flowers can make you want to linger outside for hours, but all the time outdoors can also make summer a bummer for your skin. Remedies for bug bites, sunburn, heat rashes, and other common summertime ailments are a dime at dozen at the pharmacy, but most are laced with chemicals and preservatives. Remember, your skin is your largest organ and it absorbs whatever you put on it. Most holistic experts agree – don’t rub into your skin what you wouldn’t be willing to eat! The good news is there are plenty of holistic ingredients that can effectively treat common summer skin ailments. 

Aloe Vera Gel

What it treats: Sunburn

The gel of an aloe vera plant is soothing and cool, making it a natural burn remedy. To treat a sunburn, simply slit a leaf of the plant the long way and gently apply the leaf’s juice directly to your burned skin. Repeat the application several times a day until your sunburn is less painful and stops peeling. 

Crushed Basil

What it treats: Bug bites

How to Find You’re Ideal Career

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When I think about where my career has taken me since I first declared my major in my sophomore year of college, I’m amazed that it’s gone in such a different direction that I originally intended. I’ve grown and learned so much about myself since I was 18, it seems like choosing a career path in college was about as accurate as trying to magically predicting the future!

The reason that my career continued to change since then is because of the amount of effort I put into finding my true self—and subsequently figuring out what job would make me happiest—during my twenties. Does this sound like you? If it does, then you’ve probably already discovered the many personality tests and quizzes that promise to help you instantly reach an answer! 

One of the most widely trusted and credible tests, and the one that I found most helpful, is the Myers-Briggs test. In fact, this test is used by many companies (including the majority of the Fortune 100) as part of the application process for new employees to see if they will be a good fit for the job.