Tag Archives: lifestyle

Step-by-Step: Your Journey to Better Health & Weight Loss

Today marks the beginning of a new series: Step-by-Step: Your Journey to Better Health & Weight Loss.

Your Journey





Many of you don’t know my story, so I’ll recap it here. I decided to get healthy in 2009 when I lost my health insurance. I was 58 years old and hadn’t been without insurance EVER before! Instead of totally freaking out (well, I did that for a few days) I decided that I’d just get healthy. This was the beginning of my journey.

I knew that the basics of better health including moving more, eliminating red meat, eating more fruits and veggies would reduce weight and improve blood pressure and cholesterol. So, that’s what I did. I knew that I would burn out if I started all at once, so I began slow and steady.

It wasn’t too bad, but after a few months I decided to stop eating chicken since I was totally eating a ton of fried chicken instead of red meat (not the best alternative). Later on I thought that dairy might not be a great choice for me, so I decided to take it out of my diet as well.

The results? I lost 35 pounds, my blood pressure went to normal. I reduced my cholesterol and got off statins. But, some surprising things happened that I didn’t expect … I thought they were pretty miraculous: I lost my asthma and my allergies. Yep. Gone. I had been using an inhaler and was on an inhaled steroid for the asthma. I haven’t used any since 2010.

To control my itchy eyes and sneezing fits, I took Zyrtec™ every day from the time it was created (I’m guessing 10 years at least). Before that I took Allegra for several years. One day I didn’t take anything. Nothing happened. I didn’t take anything the next day. Nothing happened. I haven’t taken a Zyrtec™ since then (2010). I didn’t even know that was possible!

These miracles, at least to me they’re miracles, are what inspired me to become a Certified Holistic Health Coach by graduating from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York City. But, enough about my journey, let’s get you started on yours!

This series is about steps. It’s about habits. It’s about choosing to make several small changes over time with the goal of building a healthy and fit lifestyle.

This isn’t a daytrip or even a weekend excursion. This is a journey that will last your entire life. That doesn’t mean you will be devoting all of your time to studying healthy lifestyle choices, but it does mean that you will be adjusting your food, exercise and the things that provide for an enjoyable journey as life’s inevitable changes occur.

I’m assuming that you want to improve your health, gain energy, happiness, possibly lose weight, and that you want to spend far less time and money on doctors, hospitals and medications. That being said, lifestyle is the key and discovering how to change behaviors is an important factor in achieving your goal/s.

Each person is different. Each person will choose different steps. It is entirely up to you. I am giving you the tools you need to succeed at the changes you decide to make. You see, my goal is not to change you into something you’re not. I will encourage you to increase the amount of plant-based foods in your diet and reduce the amount of meat because that’s what the research shows is most effective at preventing, improving and/or curing disease. That is very different than trying to get you to become a vegan or vegetarian.

While I reserve the right to change course during this series, I see it unfolding in a manner that gives you support in making changes and further along moves into specific steps (or changes) that would be beneficial goals for most people.

Since attitude about change is the biggest factor in success, I encourage you to begin your journey by watching this fun, informative TED Talk by Shawn Achor. I actually encourage you to bookmark it and go back to it whenever you start thinking negative thoughts while struggling to maintain some of your choices.

So, I hope you will begin this journey … It’s not my journey, it’s yours and it could be the most important journey you’ve ever gone on.

Nancy Oglesby
The Practical Health Coach


Nancy’s Soon-to-Be Famous Accidental Chili

I’ve found a combination of ‘secret’ ingredients that make meatless soup, chili and spaghetti sauce taste, for lack of a better word, meaty. I’ve tested my recipes on diehard, meat-loving dudes and they are all shocked when they find out there’s no meat in them.

So, add this to your meal rotation and save the money for a grass-fed steak! (For more on reasons to add in meatless meals see Breakfast for Dinner.) The story explaining the name is in the recipe instructions below.

This recipe is high in protein, fiber and phytonutrients. Enjoy!

(Gluten Free)

1 Can (28oz)     Diced Organic Tomatoes
2 Cans (15oz)   Kidney Beans (I like Light Red)
1 Can (15oz)     Pinto/Black Beans
1 Can (15oz)     Pizza Sauce (I use Muir Glen Organic)
2 Med                 Onions (chopped how you like them)
2 Cloves            Garlic (crushed)
6-8 Small           Red Potatoes (quartered, unpeeled)
1 Cube               Edward & Sons Not Beef Bouillon (or a brand you prefer)
1 T                     Bragg Liquid Aminos (available either online or in the health section
of your grocery
1.5T                   Smoked Paprika  (or to taste)
3 T                     Chili Powder  (or to taste)
2 T                     Cumin  (or to taste)
1.5 T                  Coconut Oil (I use raw, organic, extra virgin)

Rinse & drain the beans, toss everything in a crockpot, cook. J I have to confess that I don’t always use a raw onion or garlic cloves. If I’m in a hurry and don’t have either, I add dried, minced onion and garlic powder. (There, I said it. Confession over.)

Okay, here’s how the accidental, fabulously delicious potato chili happened:

I was at the grocery store and googled ‘chili’ since I can never remember the ratio of tomatoes to tomato sauce or paste. I checked out three and all of them had only 1 large can of tomatoes so that’s what I bought. I got home and started adding ingredients and quickly realized that I needed another tomato product so I looked in my cabinet and the only thing I had was a can of Muir Glen Pizza Sauce. I read the ingredients and thought, “That should work. The Chili Powder and Cumin should do a good job of covering up most of the basil and oregano.”

I tossed everything in the Crockpot and cooked it several hours before dinner. I fixed myself a bowl, took a bite and realized that the bouillon cube added way too much salt … Hmmm, potatoes will absorb that, so tomorrow I’ll add some potatoes.

The next morning, I tossed it all back in the Crockpot and cubed 6-8 small red potatoes and added them. Several hours later I had the best chili I’d ever tasted … NancyO’s Accidental, Fabulously Delicious Potato Chili! But you don’t have to believe me. I demonstrate this in my cooking classes while the students eat some that’s already cooked. This is what I hear:

“OMG – the chili was AWESOME! … That is a recipe my meat-eating hubby would like too!”

“This chili is really amazing!”

“I can’t believe there’s no meat in this. It’s delicious!”

I hope you get a chance to try this because it is really good and the perfect answer to Meatless Meals!

Nancy Oglesby, The Practical Health Coach

Just a quick disclaimer: I make a small amount if you purchase from the links I provide. However, primarily I add links because it allows you to know exactly what product I’m talking about when I identify brands that I like and use.

Breakfast for Dinner?

Breakfast for Dinner?

Research overwhelmingly shows that a plant-based diet is the best choice in reducing and preventing chronic disease. In some cases, it can totally reverse existing disease. Being the Practical Health Coach, I understand that few of my clients, or their families, are willing to make the choice to eliminate meat from their diets, so my approach is to encourage and support them in reducing their reliance on meat-centered meals.

One popular suggestion is to have breakfast for dinner. Not only can breakfast be prepared quite easily and quickly, the ingredients are often inexpensive, and done properly can be quite healthy. Hearty cooked breakfasts bring back memories of relaxing weekend mornings or spending the night at Grandma’s … A nice way to ease some of the stress from a busy day!

My favorite is what I call a Scrambled Egg Omelet, fried potatoes

Photo by Jeremy Keith

Photo by Jeremy Keith

and fresh fruit. To make the omelet I caramelize onions, add in broccoli, snow peas, mushrooms and spinach (broccoli first as it takes a bit longer to cook). While they’re cooking, I whip up the eggs. After the veggies are cooked to the point that I like, I add the whipped eggs and stir until cooked. Season to taste and serve.

I cook thin sliced gold or red potatoes in a very small amount of coconut oil, over medium heat until browned on one side, then turn to brown on the other side.

Sometimes I cut and mix several fruits but if I’m in a hurry I slice and serve just one. If I’ve planned this out, I might have stopped at the salad bar or the veggies and fruit, then prep is simple! (See Get Yourself a Prep Cook)

If someone has to have bacon, or breakfast just doesn’t taste right without the smell of bacon cooking, crumble a half slice onto the top of their serving of either the omelet or the potatoes. (Buy nitrite/nitrate free bacon either from or Whole Foods or similar source near you.)

This is an inexpensive way to reduce your meal costs allowing you to use that money to buy a better, grass-fed, organic meat.

Next up: A meatless chili that leave no one asking, “Where’s the beef?”

Nancy Oglesby, The Practical Health Coach

Just a quick disclaimer: I make a small amount if you purchase from the links I provide. However, primarily I add links because it allows you to know exactly what product I’m talking about when I identify brands that I like and use.

7 Ways to Have Happy Dogs

In a word: Kongs. Kongs make dogs happy. They probably don’t care much what you fill them with as long as it’s tasty, but here are some of my favorite ways to add happiness to my pets’ day:

  1. www.healthworkskc.wordpress.com

    Mikey the Wonder Dog (left) and his new, baby sister Piper (10 months old).

    SWEET POTATOES Put scrubbed sweet potatoes in your crockpot. Add nothing else. Cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4 hours. Trust me. They are incredible. (My faves are the small ones at Trader Joe’s.)
    Refrigerate, take one out and smash it into the Kong. You can add bits of green beans, apple and/or carrots, or biscuits. You can also feed it right away or freeze it for a treat that takes them a long time to get through. (Great for a summer treat!)

  2. APPLESAUCE My dogs love, love, love applesauce! Make sure you buy unsweetened so that you’re not feeding your dogs a lot of sugar. I give it to them on a spoon while I’m making their Kongs in the morning, but I also add it to their Kong. It’s an especially nice frozen treat in the summer, but mine love it anytime. I suggest having a jar just for the dogs. That way you won’t have to use a new spoon every time you give them a taste.
  3. CHICKEN BROTH Plug the bottom hole of the Kong with peanut butter or freeze a small amount of applesauce or sweet potato in the bottom, then pour in cold chicken broth and freeze. This is the summer treat of choice at my house!
  4. CHICKEN & RICE This one is a bit of work, but well worth it in the end. Save the scraps from rotisserie chickens, or any chicken that you have for meals, in a bag in the freezer. When you have a sufficient quantity, throw it in the crockpot with several cups of water (you’ll also get a good amount of broth), cook on low for the day or overnight. Once cooked and
    Fast Friends!

    Fast Friends!

    cooled, take the meat off the bones, carefully, and the skin (great for your dog’s coat) and along with some cooked white rice, process in your food processor. Turn into a 9×13 pan and let it set up in the refrigerator. After it’s chilled, use an ice cream scoop and drop on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet and freeze. Once frozen, put into a freezer bag to store. I take out one ball each morning, thaw and fill.  (I never measure when I make this. If my blended product isn’t thick enough I add puffed rice cereal to the desired thickness.) This is a great way to have a great filling for free!

  5. OATMEAL Someone didn’t finish their oatmeal? Toss it into the Kong! This is an especially nice treat when some apple is included, and works well for dogs with sensitive stomachs.
  6. EGGS Another treat is eggs. They are a good source of protein and are typically well-tolerated. Don’t think you’re doing your dog’s waistline a favor by not using the yolk. Egg whites alone can cause vitamin deficiencies in dogs.
  7. WALK with your dog. I cannot stress how important this is. Try it for a couple of weeks and you will be surprised at the deepening of your relationship. And, they can eat tasty Kong treats because they’re working hard
  8. APPLESAUCE DROPS Talk about an overachiever! The eighth of the seven ways is another food treat. Little frozen applesauce drops. They’re kind of like Hershey’s kisses, but good for the dog!
  9. BABY FOOD I know … Nine? If you don’t want to go through the steps above, just buy baby food and use that. You can fill Kongs and make tasty frozen drops with good quality baby food.
  10. ALL OF THE ABOVE! What my dogs really love is when I mix up several of the above foods. I take a spoon of sweet potato, one of applesauce and one of chicken & rice.  I tuck pieces of green beans and carrots in and they are in heaven! I got started with the green beans when my garden had some pretty tough beans. Guess what? The dogs didn’t care. They liked them just fine.
Piper's first day home!

Piper’s first day home!

The bottom line here is that there are many human foods that dogs tolerate quite well. When you decide to make a change to your dog’s diet, check with your vet to make sure it’s safe for your particular pet.

It was my goal to feed my dogs healthy treats. It seems to be working. Most people see my almost 12-year-old Standard Schnauzer  and think he’s about 4 years old!

5 Freezer Hacks to Save Money

My freezer isn't always this organized. It's often totally out of control! Here we have some different gluten-free, vegan burgers, homemade broth, chili, pumpkin, green beans and a loaf of gf bread.

My freezer isn’t always this organized. It’s often totally out of control! Here we have some different gluten-free, vegan burgers, homemade broth, chili, pumpkin, green beans and a loaf of gf bread.

This is going to be short and sweet: Freeze Everything!

Okay, maybe not quite everything, but if you’re like me, there’s often a banana that’s about to go bad, oranges that you can’t possible eat in time or you can’t take advantage of the sale on grapes because there’s no way you can use them soon enough. Maybe you bought that bag of kale with good intentions, but the intentions didn’t follow you home from the store.

How many times do you end up throwing away produce? If you’re like I was, it’s a lot. What you buy will have a better chance of staying out of the the landfill when you begin to rely on your freezer. Here are five ways to get started:

  1. Buy a bag of already washed and chopped kale, and if you only use it in cooked dishes and/or smoothies, just toss it right in the freezer when you get home. This works for spinach as well. (It doesn’t work at all if you’re going to eat it in a salad or raw since when defrosted it gets pretty mushy.)
  2. Cookie sheet magic happens with most fruits and veggies that you want to use for smoothies or in cooked dishes. Are your bananas looking a bit beyond their deliciousness? Slice, lay out on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and slide in the freezer. When they’ve frozen, put them in a freezer bag. This works for apples (which don’t turn brown when cut up and frozen), peaches, cherries, orange sections, grapes, strawberries, mango, melon, celery, onion, garlic, ginger, peppers, snow peas, green beans … Well, just about anything! These won’t be good for eating thawed out, but they’re great for purees, smoothies, syrups, stir fries, soups and stews. You can even add frozen fruit to beverages for a pop of color.
  3. If you haven’t already tried it, eat grapes and cherries frozen. It takes you longer to eat them (reduced sugar intake) and they taste great!
  4. A treat with frozen bananas is to dip them in melted, dark chocolate (70% or higher) and refreeze … good for your health and fabulous for that chocolate craving! (Eat frozen)
  5. Can’t possibly go through a loaf of bread in time? Open the bag, fan out the slices, set in the freezer. Once frozen, put the loaf back together and seal the bag. You won’t have to jackhammer the pieces apart ever again!
Bags of kale and spinach, an ice cube tray of chicken broth, jars of soup, and fresh frozen basil ... handy!

Bags of kale and spinach, an ice cube tray of chicken broth, jars of soup, and fresh frozen basil … handy!

There you have it … Tips to help your budget, your health and the landfill!

If you’re in the Kansas City area, check out my upcoming events. They can be found on my website’s Events Page.

Nancy Oglesby, The Practical Health Coach

Pilaf … The Versatile Side Dish

One of the best things you can do to streamline your dinner prep is to always have a batch of already cooked rice on hand.(I cook mine in a big batch then freeze it in single serving sizes.) This will provide you with opportunities galore!

Pilaf … However you want it!
This is something you can make all your own. You don’t need a recipe! Using the salad bar as your prep cook, toss in whatever veggies and/or fruit appeals to you. Some of my favorites are a Mediterranean-flavored pilaf with spinach, garlic, onion, tomato and chickpeas tossed with olive oil, balsamic (lightly), oregano and basil. If you eat dairy, a touch of feta cheese would be lovely.

My favorite sweet pilaf has a drizzle of walnut oil, cinnamon pear balsamic vinegar, diced apples, carrots, celery and walnuts. If the cinnamon flavor isn’t enough for you, sprinkle on a bit of pumpkin pie seasoning.

You can add just about anything to rice to make it a delicious side dish: Onions, carrots, peas, peppers, radishes, edamame, beans, chickpeas, beets, mushrooms, bean sprouts, tomatoes, dried cranberries, nuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, peanuts …

You can dress it with whatever you like including, Asian style, Italian, Balsamic, Russian or French dressing. You can create your own dressing by combining oil and vinegar, soy sauce, spices … Bottled dressings often have a ton of additives or sugar so I usually make my own.pilaf nourish network

For pilafs, I just add what I think will work. I use either olive or walnut oil, then add spices to flavor it. For a Southwest feel, I’ll add chili powder, peppers, onions and cumin. If I feel like a trip to Italy I’ll add garlic, onion, parsley, basil, tomatoes, lemon, a touch of fresh parmesan and olive oil.

If you’re looking for specific recipes, just click on the pictures and you’ll be taken to the recipe on another website (not mine).

When creating sweet pilafs, I often blend fresh pineapple (usually from the salad bar) with yellow mustard and honey (in my NutriBullet) to create the dressing. It is DELICIOUS!! Just play with amounts. Start with the pineapple, give it a squirt of mustard and a teaspoon of honey. Blend, taste, adjust, blend, taste, adjust. Be adventurous!

pilaf epicuriousI hope you enjoy creating pilafs of your very own! Let us know the outcome and what flavors really worked for you in the comments below.

Are you wanting to taste an impromptu pilaf? Check out my Cooking … Fast, Easy, Healthy classes being held all over the KC Metro Area. You’ll find the list on my website at www.HealthWorksKC.com. Just click on the ‘Events’ tab at the top of the page.

Nancy Oglesby, The Practical Health Coach

Get Yourself a Prep Cook

Get Yourself a Prep Cook!

Get Yourself a Prep Cook!

The number one thing that stops me from preparing a healthy meal at home is the prep work. All that washing, peeling, slicing and dicing is not what I want to be doing when I get home from work.

One solution would be to hire a Prep Cook. Unfortunately, I’m not Oprah. My wallet currently does not support hiring a kitchen goddess. However, I’ve figured out the next best thing: Use the services of someone else’s Prep Cook. The salad bar at your favorite grocery store is the perfect place to find most of the ingredients you’ll need to create a delicious meal.

There are no signs up at the salad bar that say, ‘SALADS ONLY!’ Go ahead and load up on washed, peeled, sliced and diced onions, celery, carrots, beets, cabbage, mushrooms, snow peas, bean sprouts, spinach, kale … whatever you need. Going for a sweet dish instead of savory? They have cranberries, melon, strawberries and nuts as well. You can also get small amounts of cheeses and meats.

Kitchen Prep Made EasyThe per pound price might be higher, but I’ve saved a bundle by not buying the full-sized package or bundle of ingredients that I don’t need and often never use. After all, how many mung bean sprouts can a single person use in a few days? This choice also keeps a lot of food out of the landfill.

Want one more tip? While you’re there, pick up a salad for tomorrow’s lunch!

If you like these ideas, and are in the Kansas City Metro, check out my Class Schedule at HealthWorksKC. Just click on ‘events’ at the top of the page.

Next up? Make mine pilaf!
Nancy Oglesby, The Practical Health Coach