2020 Wellness Weekend Retreat

Making Whole Food Plant Based Cooking Simple

Abundant Health Wellness Center offers monthly hands-on cooking classes that are whole-food, plant-based.

Each Class is $49.95 per person

Class Dates: Sunday, May 6, 2018 at 3:30 pm

 Here are some of the tasty whole foods based recipes you will learn to prepare:

Tomato Bisque

Marinated Cabbage

Something Savory:

Meatless Swedish Meatballs over Noodles with Onion Gravy

Cherry Pineapple Cobbler

Coconut Whipped Topping


Want to start with a brand new you? Work with Dana today!

Exercise is Nature’s Prozac

Monday was a very hectic and stressful day. By the time I left work I was worn out and brain fried. When I arrived home, what do you think I did? Laid down on the couch and turned on the TV to loose myself in the life of someone else? Would that have helped me?

Instead, I changed my clothes, went to the barn, got my clippers and branch cutters, and started trimming our overgrown bushes. Did I feel like doing this when I was so tired? No. But I understood the power of motion, it empowers the body and brain!

So the more important question to ask is, how did I feel when I finished? I felt GREAT! Full of energy, the stress was gone and I was ready to once again to tackle the world… or at least the pile of laundry!

That is the magic in motion! It is one of the keys to health and happiness; living life to its fullest. You can walk your way to health and into happiness and abundant life by getting up and tapping into the magic of motion! A balanced and well-planned activity program is one of the wisest investments you can make. It pays dividends: better quality, longer life! Staying physically active may just keep you healthier and stronger 8-10+ years longer than a sedentary person.


We are a couch-potato, TV/computer driven, air-conditioned, sedentary society. And quite frankly, it is killing us. Inactivity is a curse by which disease is given entrance. “If we can’t find time for exercise we will have to find time to be sick” (“The inner and outer joys of exercise.” Your Life and Health.)

If those who are sick would exercise their muscles daily, in outdoor work, engaging the brain, the bones and muscles, weakness and languor would disappear. Health would take the place of disease (the state of no longer be at ease), and strength the place of feebleness.

Sixty to seventy-five minutes of activity offsets the risks of 8 hours of sitting, according to the prestigious health journal, (The Lancet, July 27, 2016, online). According to HealthDay News, online, May 17, 2016, “A higher level of heart-lung fitness may reduce your risk for prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. One hour of exercise lowers cancer risk according to the National Cancer Institute. And also published July 27, 2016, poor fitness level is second only to smoking as a risk factor for premature death according to the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.

Exercise is “Nature’s Prozac”! Exercise produces beta-endorphins, elevating the mood so you feel better, have less pain and less fatigue. We need to move to think!


Make Exercise FUN!

Exercise should not feel like a duty. Exercise should add to your life; do it because you love life! Sedentariness is a learned habit. We were made to MOVE! Just watch a baby. The frontal lobe of their brain does not tell them when it is or is not socially appropriate to move. We would all look pretty silly sitting in our board meetings wiggly like a baby. So God developed our frontal lobes to tell us when it is appropriate to move, and He expect us to use that ability! Just as the centurion, Hulda Crook, when asked if there were time she didn’t feel like exercising, said, “If the brain is on top, it should be in charge and tell the rest of the body what to do. And so that’s what I do, I exercise anyway” (Crooks H. conquering Life’s Mountains: A collection of writings. Redlands, CA: Quiet Hour). Ms. Crooks spent the first 60 years of her life in poor health. In her 60s she started exercising to treat her depression. Her story is amazing! The more she walked the better she felt. At 70 she stated, “I began exercising in earnest”. She climbed Mount Whitney in California 23 times, and set world athletic records for women over the age of 80. At 91 she climbed Mount Fuji in Japan and also the entire 212-mile John Muir Trial in the High Sierras. She died at 101.

What I find most impressive about Ms. Crooks is she turned her health around completely at the age of 60. And you can too! It is never to late to take charge of your health. Just like Ms. Crooks, you can climb more than mountains, you can climb your way out of poor health into the magic of motion, and a life of abundant health!

What is keeping you from starting a new you? Don’t let the Lazy Boy Couch rob you of your health and happiness.

Is Sleep Important To Our Health?

Before the 1900s Americans averaged nearly 9 hours/night and were mostly involved in daily physically labor. With the invention of the electric light, the industrial revolution and resulting urbanization, Americans became less active and averaged 8 hours of sleep/night. Today, Americans average less than 7 hours of sleep/night and get very little activity.

Sometime ago, for about a week my sleep was very restless and I had a hard time falling asleep. I had a lot on my mind and just couldn’t quit thinking to fall asleep. It started on a Thursday. That night I probably slept a total of 4 hours. Friday thru Sunday I did better averaging probably about 6 hours and then Monday night, I got home from work at 10:30 PM and went straight to bed, but I did not fall asleep until after four in the morning, when my husband crawled into bed.

He had not had much sleep since Saturday night. Sunday night he and his friend had driven all night to participant in a tractor pull. They attended the pull and finished their last pull around 11 PM Monday night, loaded up and headed home. I did not like him on the road without sufficient sleep. So between the things on my mind and my sleepy husband on the road, sleep evaded me.

Tuesday morning I forced myself out of bed after approximately 2-3 hours of fitful sleep and got ready for my first appointment at 8 AM.

How well do you think I functioned that day?

Do you have sleepless or restless nights?

How does sleep affected our health? Diabetes? Weight Control? Chronic disease?

Come Join us to learn the rest of the story and how we can improve our sleep and our health!


Do You Have “Happy” Cholesterol?

September is cholesterol awareness month. Do you know what your cholesterol level is?


What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy fat-like substance found in all cells of the human body. Cholesterol is made by the liver and is important in making hormones and vitamin D. It also aids in digestion, and protects the nerves and performs many other important functions in our body.

We all need cholesterol, but did you know the liver makes all the cholesterol the body needs? That’s right! WE do not need to eat cholesterol because we already have all the cholesterol we need. So what’s the big deal about cholesterol? First need to understand there are different kinds of cholesterol. We will discuss two kinds.

High-Density Lipoproteins

We will call High-Density Lipoproteins (HDL), “Happy” cholesterol. This kind of cholesterol keeps our organs and body happy by carrying the cholesterol from various parts of the body to the liver. The liver regulates what happens to cholesterol; It can be stored it for later use, remove or eliminate it from the body or it can be recycled and sent to areas in the body where it is needed. “Happy” cholesterol circulates in the blood and acts like a garbage truck would in a city. It goes around picking up all the trash and disposing of it in the proper place (in this case, the liver).

What should my lab value be for “Happy” cholesterol (HDL)?

We want lots of “Happy” cholesterol! Research is showing that the best levels of HDL, is greater than 50 mg/dl for women and greater than 40 mg/dl for men.

How can I raise my “Happy” cholesterol?

Increasing your activity levels and eating high fiber, whole foods such as Legumes (beans, peas, and lentils), fruits, vegetables, freshly ground flaxseeds, chia seeds, nuts (especially walnuts and almonds) will help improve your “Happy” cholesterol levels. Also staying hydrated, getting direct sunlight every day, and sleeping well, having pleasant thoughts and healthy relationships, all impact our cholesterol levels as well as our total wellbeing.

Low-Density Lipoproteins

We will call Low-Density Lipoproteins, “Lousy Cholesterol”. This type is lousy because it hangs around like bad company. When we eat cholesterol-rich foods, the excess cholesterol (in the form of plaque) builds up on the walls of our blood vessels (called atherosclerosis) and causes damage and possible blockage of blood flow, which can lead to a stroke or a heart attack, some pretty lousy stuff, wouldn’t you agree?

What should my lab value be for “Lousy” Cholesterol (LDL)?

Your LDL level should be less than 100 mg/dl.

Research from the Framingham Heart Study has shown that cardiac events (heart attack, atherosclerosis, etc,) have dropped to nearly zero when the total cholesterol level (combination of all types of cholesterol) is less than 150 mg/dl. But in order to get our cholesterol within that range, we must first understand what foods contain cholesterol.

Where is cholesterol found?

Cholesterol is found in anything that has a liver or comes from something that had a liver. Therefore all animal products contain cholesterol, including all meat, fish, poultry, eggs, milk and cheese products. Cholesterol is not found in any plant foods.

How can I reduce my “Lousy” cholesterol and increase my “Happy” cholesterol?

If our bodies make all the cholesterol we need and if cholesterol is found only in animal products, and if we want to lower your cholesterol, then it would be logical we would need to stop eating cholesterol, i.e. animal products and start eating more whole plant foods.

If we continue to eat the very thing that is causing the problem, how can the body heal? How can we expect to get better? But if we eliminate the cause, in this case, dietary cholesterol, we can reduce the cholesterol level naturally.

What would a meal of whole plants foods look like?

Here is a Southern Meal Favorite:

  • Vegetable Salad
  • Whole Grain Cornbread (made with oil instead of lard)
  • Beans (made without the ham hock)
  • Greens (made without the bacon)

Here’s a nice plant-based breakfast:

  • Oatmeal with raisins, cinnamon, and vanilla almond milk
  • Walnuts and freshly ground flaxseed
  • Blackberries
  • Apple

It may take some adjustment, but many have gone before you and have had great success at changing their eating habits and lowering their cholesterol and you can be too!


Can I get through the holidays without higher blood sugars and without gaining weight?

It’s the holidays! And getting into the holiday spirit requires eating, doesn’t eat?


As a child, we always celebrated the year-end holidays at my grandparents, who we affectionately called Nan and Hank. It was always an exciting time. Upon arrival, we were greeted with smiles, warm embraces and sweet kisses. My grandmother had stashes of candy in nearly every room of her house, so we kids began the treasure hunt to find all the candy dishes. Our parents visited with the other adults while cracking and eating nuts. They may have had a bowl full of candy too… (I don’t remember them eating candy, except for my dad, who, I think, was just as excited as the kids were, to search and sample each candy dish) but for the most part, the adults had no idea how much candy we ate! So, after our fill of candy, if our taste buds still craved more sweetness, … well, the freezer was stuffed full of all sorts of delicacies. You know them, that cool, sweet, smooth, creamy, delicacy that slides down so easily and feels so good while we indulge… I especially liked the ice cream sandwiches, or Bon-Bon’s! But there were healthier choices too, like weight watcher fudge bars! Cookies were in the cookie jar and well, let’s not forget the apple, pumpkin and pecan pies, brownies, and other baked goods!

Soon, it would be time for dinner. The tables were beautifully arranged, laden with so much food that we could have fed the entire neighborhood. And in fact, we would eat leftovers for nearly an entire week! We had turkey and dressing with cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes with gravy, lima beans, green bean casserole, corn pudding, sweet potato casserole, and stewed tomatoes. The mixed fruit gelatin salad was one of my favorites. It had strawberries and pineapple mixed in the gelatin and was topped with cool whip. There was always a large tray of colorful raw veggies and dip, rolls and bread with spread, and pecan nuts (sometimes candied), and other dishes I never touched like sauerkraut and stewed tomatoes. But to someone, these were quite delectable! Of course with the meal, drinks of various sorts were served, I usually had juice or a virgin strawberry daiquiri, yummy! Then as soon as you were stuffed to the gills, the pumpkin, apple and pecan pie were served. I always had warm pumpkin pie a’ la mode that melts and fills in all the possible cracks that could possibly remain in the stomach. It all tasted so good going down! Then all the adults would barely be able to get up and wobble over to the living room, sit down and complain about having eaten enough to feed a horse, or how they didn’t need to eat for a week, or how they blew their diet; while us kids would parade around and would have all the adults judge who’s belly was the fullest as we arched back to make it protrude the most! Then we were off to play, leaving the adults to their misery…


Does this sound familiar? And we are sure our scale is broken, for how can it possibly be right reading 10 pounds heavier? Or we need a new glucose monitor because our sugars are just reading so abnormally high, something must be wrong!

A picture is worth a thousand words! And Dr. Howard Shapiro, in his book Picture Perfect Weight-Loss helps us have a clear view of our choices as the season approaches.

He presents a typical modest Thanksgiving dinner:

  • A cocktail with peanuts.
  • A couple of pastry hors d’oeuvres.
  • A tiny bit of cheese and pate to start.

For the dinner:

  • A few slices of turkey with trimmings along with
  • A glass of wine and of course
  • A wedge of pie

Now would you agree that is a much better meal than what I had for our family tradition for Thanksgiving? Dr. Shapiro’s Dinner looks quite tasty and the portions are small but filling.


Do you think you would eat this amount for thanksgiving?

Now let’s consider the calories in Dr. Shapiro’s Thanksgiving Dinner:

  • 3 drinks = 530 calories
  • ½ cup mixed nuts = 440 calories
  • 3 oz pastry = 380 calories
  • 2 oz pate = 240 calories
  • 5 crackers = 80 calories
  • 6 oz turkey, light and dark meat with skin = 360 calories
  • 4 Tbsp. gravy = 120 calories
  • 1 cup stuffing = 400 calories
  • 2 small candied yams = 200 calories
  • ½ cup buttered green beans = 60 calories
  • Pecan pie wedge = 680 calories

When we add all that up it come to a whopping 3710 calories! And if that is 3710 calories, we don’t even want to imagine what my childhood Thanksgiving dinner was calorie-wise.

Are you still satisfied with Dr. Shapiro’s first Thanksgiving meal?

Would you like to see something better? Something better than 3710 calories? Can we do better and still be happy and merry? Can we shave off thousands of calories and still have a meal as tasty and filling as this one? Let’s find out!


Fortunately, Dr. Shapiro gives us another picture:

  • 2 cups low-calorie punch – 40 calories
  • 5 cherry tomatoes – 10 calories
  • 2 cups assorted vegetables – 30-50 calories
  • 3 Tbsp. onion/chive dip (low-fat) – 30 calories
  • 7 grilled shiitake mushrooms – 30 calories
  • 2 Tbsp. soy dipping sauce – 10 calories
  • 6-oz. baked yam – 150 calories
  • 1 cup green beans with herbs – 40 calories
  • ¾ cup ginger-fruit whole-grain stuffing (low-fat) – 80 calories
  • 2½ scallops – 80 calories
  • 4-oz. white-meat turkey or vegetarian substitute – 200 calories
  • 2 Tbsp. cranberry relish – 20 calories
  • 3 fl. oz. wine – 60 calories
  • 1 cup pumpkin custard – 150 calories

Now Dr. Shapiro’s Thanksgiving Meal 2 is still a very pleasing and beautiful Thanksgiving meal, and Meal 2 shaves off 2,790 calories from Meal 1, for a total of 930 calories remaining for Meal 2.

Now, that still is a lot of calories for one meal. So if you want to shave off more calories you can choose to eat your calories instead of drinking them.

  • You can drink water (which is the best liquid for your body, anyway!), add a squeeze of lemon or lime if you’d like.
  • Omit the scallops, reduce the turkey to 3 ounces, and eat only a half of the yam (3-oz),
  • reduce the stuffing and custard to ½ cup each.

Now you have shaved off an additional 320 calories and the total calories for the meal would be 610 calories.

Now that is something better, something more workable to keep blood sugar levels fairly constant, with a balanced carbohydrate to fat/protein/vegetable (non-carbohydrate) (6 carb choices and 6 non-carb choices, or 90 grams carbohydrates and 20 grams of fiber). You may also need to adjust more for your calorie needs at other meals in the day.

Your idea of appropriate selection of dishes might be different from mine or Dr. Shapiro’s, and that is okay as long as you get the concepts of how to enjoy the holiday without gaining weight and keep your blood sugar levels normal. Eating your lower calorie foods such as your vegetables first will help fill you up and you will have less room for the higher calorie foods.

Eating just at meal times and avoiding grazing will help blood sugar regulation and weight management.

One of the best things you can do after you eat is to go for a stroll; or what we call a digestive walk at Abundant Health Wellness Center. This will aid in digestion and help keep blood sugar levels under control.


Give your Stomach A Gift for the Holidays! Avoid overeating and go for a digestive walk after meals!

Sign up to receive a weekly recipe to help you get through the holiday season with great blood sugar levels and without gaining weight and still eating all the foods you love!

If you would like to talk specifics about your holiday meals, call to schedule an appointment. Together, we can include the foods you want to enjoy while still accomplishing your health goals.


Sleep is Just As Important As Exercise!

Sleep is just as important as exercise and diet when it comes to decreasing the risk of developing diabetes or treating diabetes and managing weight.


Individuals who sleep six hours or less are twice as likely to develop diabetes in their lifetime as those who snooze 7-8 1/2 hours. If you are not getting enough sleep, even if you are slim and trim, you are seriously compromising your health. Just 3 consecutive nights of inadequate sleep can elevate a person’s risk of type 2 diabetes to roughly the same equivalent as gaining 20-30 pounds, according to a 2007 study at the University of Chicago.

What can result from sleep deprivation?

  • Reduced metabolism rate
  • Altered sympathetic nervous system (stress control center) and hormone levels (insulin, growth hormones, appetite hormones, melatonin, etc.)
  • Fatigue further stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, decreasing the proper regulation of glucose in the blood.
  • Trouble staying awake when you sit down
  • Problems concentrating
  • Grouchy or mood swings
  • Headaches
  • Lowered immune system
  • Depression
  • Poor healing or recovery from illness or injury
  • Decreased motivation to exercise or engage in healthy behaviors (just surviving the day)
  • Insulin resistance
  • Increased risk of high blood pressure
  • Increased risk of diabetes
  • Increased risk of overweight or obesity
  • Increased risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Physical and psychological discomfort
  • Decreased quality of life

Type 2 Diabetes is the result of insulin resistance; insulin is no longer able to properly carry the blood glucose from the blood into the cells. When you do not get enough sleep your body requires more insulin to maintain normal glucose levels. And a vicious cycle of insulin resistance begins; More insulin is produced, and the cells increase their resistance to insulin, so even more insulin is produced in an attempt to lower glucose levels, but the cells become more insulin resistant until blood glucose levels rise high enough to alert the doctor…Insulin Resistance is the root cause of type 2 diabetes, in most cases.

One thing that greatly increases the likelihood of insulin resistance is being overweight. But a lack of sleep only further compounds the insulin resistance. When you are tired your body produces more of the hormone (ghrelin) that stimulates appetite and less of the hormone (leptin) that turns the appetite off. Your body compensates for your tiredness by stimulating you to eat to increase energy…but you are tired, you do not have energy to fix a healthful meal, you need easy access calories, a quick energy boost, which usually turns out to be high calorie, high carbohydrate foods. The less you sleep the more likely you are to overeat to compensate for the lack of energy, and the average intake is a whopping 45% additional calories per day.

Some individuals will increase their caffeine intake to compensate for the lack of sleep. Caffeine totally interferes with proper sleep even when that cup of coffee or energy drink was 18 hours before you go to bed, because caffeine interferes with the optimal functioning of melatonin (a hormone that helps you relax and fall asleep).

We are a busy, “get ‘er done” society. We do not have time to sleep. What is the solution? Just as we plan appointments throughout our day, we must plan our sleep. And do it religiously, setting aside 8 hours for sleeping; Blocking that time off your calendar and allowing nothing to interfere with it.

How much sleep we need will vary among individuals and our sleep needs change as we age. The National Sleep Foundation suggest that school-age children need 10-11 hours of sleep daily, teens 8.5-9.5 hours and for most adults a minimum of seven but less than nine hours sleep is optimal. Shorter or longer sleep durations were associated with higher HbA1c levels (the average blood glucose level over the past 2-3 months) and higher rate of depression and disease complications.

What about napping? To keep naps from interfering with night sleep, limit adult nap time to no more than 30-40 minutes and at least 6 hours before bedtime.

Check out my post Tips For A Good Night’s Sleep


My wish for you is to sleep well, eat healthfully, and to keep on exercising. You can Start A New YOU! And you can have Abundant Health!