Live Healthy With Laura

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Every week or so, I will try to update you on the latest health tips, recipes and articles that I find interesting and useful. Please keep reading and checking back for my updates!

 

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Gluten Free (Almond Flour Based) Banana & Walnut Muffins

Posted on May 21, 2017 at 10:35 AM Comments comments (0)


Good morning friends!


This morning I felt the urge to whip up something yummy, comforting and healthy for my busy week ahead. Playing and making up healthy recipes in the kitchen is one of my favorite things to do and one of my favorite ways to unwind!


Juggling two kids keeps me busy especially in the mornings! Planning ahead and meal prepping is what SAVES me and keeps me healthy and on track! I am a "grazer" meaning I eat several small meals throughout the day to keep my metabolism chugging along and my blood sugar stable. I usually eat eggs with sauteed veggies, a healthy fat of some sort, fruit and coffee for my FIRST breakfast but then I always eat again mid-morning!


These muffins are delicious and full of nutrients, healthy fats and protein (and are simple to make)! I make a batch of these or something similar on Sundays and store them in the fridge for me and my daughter too much on during the week ahead. I hope you try them and love them as much as we do!


Remember being healthy is NOT about depriving yourself, going to extremes or calorie counting! It is all about balance and eating real and whole foods! These muffins are delicious and they will give you energy all morning! ENJOY! 


*Ingredients: 

  • 2 ripe bananas (pureed)
  • 2 cups of almond flour
  • 5 packets of "Stevia in the Raw"
  • 1 tbsp of chia seeds 
  • 1 tsp of baking powder
  • 1 tbsp of cinnamon 
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tbsp of melted coconut oil 
  • 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts 

*Directions: 

Pre heat your oven to 375 degrees. Then in a medium bowl, simply and thoroughly mix all of the above ingredients. Evenly distribute the mixture into 10 individual paper muffin cups. Bake the muffins for 30 minutes and ENJOY!

Embracing Early Mornings and Becoming a Healthier You!

Posted on March 22, 2017 at 3:55 PM Comments comments (0)


Early mornings…they sound cringe worthy don’t they? That second that alarm rings and you have to roll out of your comfortable bed and start your day can be brutal can’t it? Well, in my experience it doesn’t have to be. In fact, it can become your most productive time of the day and a time to even look forward to!


A few years ago you could have easily caught me sleeping into 11:00 AM at any given opportunity. I thought it was amazing (at the time) but then I became more focused on my health and I realized that I had to MAKE more time to take care of myself else it just wouldn’t happen! 


Flash forward a few years to becoming a mother I had to face the cold, hard fact that my time was no longer just my own. As many of you already know, once the baby (or kids) are awake they require A LOT of attention. So, what is a momma to do who STILL wants to be healthy and have alone time? The answer is you guessed it: to wake up before your little ones do and sneak that time in before it can get away from you! That is the secret!


I’ll admit that when I started doing this, it was NOT easy in the beginning. However, as a few weeks went by my 5:45 AM alarm clock was not so bad. In fact, I saw a huge improvement in my mood, my health and my overall productivity throughout my day!


Now listen, you don’t have to be a “morning person” for this to be possible. In fact most people that are weren’t always like that. They had to acquire that lifestyle. Anyone can truly become a morning person with practice! I promise you it is worth the shift in your schedule and those tough, first few weeks!


Waking up early allows me and will allow you to take care of yourself in three, vital ways:


1. Physically: It allows me to fit in at least a good 45 minute workout ALONE and before anything comes up that keeps me from it later in the day (something always does and would).


2. Mentally: It allows me some peace and quiet “ME time” that is often so coveted and unheard of for many mothers. That early in the morning it is just me, myself and I and I must say… I love it! This time allows me to start my day with my daughter with a genuine, unfrazzled smile. Motherhood is beautiful but demanding and I need this time to think and just be still. Needless to say, it is unnegotiable!


3. Spiritually: Time with God in the mornings truly changes my whole day! It gives me peace and direction in my life. However, if it isn’t a “quiet” time and I attempt to read my devotion and pray with my two-year-old up running around, I really do not get as much out of it! So, before my feet hit the floor I start my day with scripture and a prayer. It is awesome!



Once again I will stress that I was NOT a “morning person” naturally in the past. It took time and practice but I will tell you that it has been so worth it!


I want to share with you a few ways you too can become an enthusiastic morning person!:


1. Go to bed earlier! You want to aim for 7-8 hours of sleep a night. No TV show is worth sacrificing your sleep (just record it and watch it another time)!

2. Put your alarm clock (most likely your phone) across the room so you have to wake up and walk over to get it. This may sound silly or extreme but it works!

3. Set out your workout clothes and tennis shoes by your bed.

4. Do some simple stretches upon waking up to help rejuvenate and wake your body and mind up.

5. Write down or type up what you would hope to accomplish each morning by waking up earlier. Then, see how much you can get done by breakfast! Make it a game!

6. Follow this mantra: “Don’t think about it…JUST. DO. IT.” You will always thank yourself in the end.



Give it a few weeks of waking up early friends and I can bet you will find that you are less stressed, more productive, healthier and feeling better about yourself and your day to day routine! Remember, the first 3 weeks of anything are the hardest but after that it will become easier. I can’t wait for you to discover the beauty of early mornings as I have. It truly is amazing what you can accomplish and how much better you will feel when you wake up before the sunrise!


*picture source: www.maxedmuscle.com

Cauliflower "Fried Rice"

Posted on March 9, 2017 at 3:40 PM Comments comments (0)

I have always been a fan of oriental food however hibachi style fried rice is on the top of my list of favorites. This week I came up with my own healthy version with a cauliflower base and it was amazing and full of veggies, protein and healthy fats! I hope you will give it a try!


*Ingredients: 

  • two cups of cauliflower rice (I like the "Green Giant" brand)
  • one cup of organic mixed veggies (thawed)
  • 1/2 cup of a diced, yellow onion
  • one egg (scrambled)
  • 2 tbsp of sesame oil
  • 2 tsp of garlic powder or minced garlic
  • 1 tsp of crushed bay leaves
  • 1 tsp of crushed basil
  • a few grinds of seasalt and black pepper 

*Directions: 

Steam the cauliflower rice for two minutes in the microwave. Then (while that steams), add the egg to the heated sesame oil in a frying pan scramble it. Then, toss in the cauliflower, mixed veggies and onion and sautee on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Lastly, add the garlic, bay leaves, basil and salt and pepper and sautee for another 5 minutes. Then, all that is left is to eat up and ENJOY your healthy creation! 

The Many Health Benefits of a Gluten Free "Diet"

Posted on January 12, 2017 at 5:00 PM Comments comments (1)

 

What is gluten? It is simply the protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Shockingly, this protein has now been linked to nearly 60 diseases and illnesses. That is crazy! However, don’t let that scare you. Even if you have eaten gluten your entire life it is never too late to make the switch and reap the many benefits of doing so!

 

 

How did I become so passionate about the effects of gluten? Well, a few years ago I woke up one morning and had that “ah-ha” moment. I decided I was sick and tired of finding myself so easily sick and tired and run down. I then made the decision and commitment to start taking care of myself as I never had before. I decided to start a workout routine and evaluate everything I ate. I also began researching my blood type and ingredients in my foods etc. It became a passion of mine that eventually led me to pursuing a career in nutritional consulting. When I started evaluating my diet and (at the time the lack thereof) physical activity I quickly made some experimental changes to see what I could change to feel better. I made lots of changes in the way I ate but the most predominant one was taking gluten out of my diet. The more I researched it the more it made sense (and the more it scared me). So, I gave it a go and I can’t even express to you what a difference it made!

 

 

After a few weeks of going gluten free, not only did I find myself with more energy but I was able to think clearer and drop some stubborn pounds that I had been holding on to! My digestion improved as did my sleep. After a few months of seeing these benefits I just KNEW that there really was something to this “gluten free thing”. Then I researched and researched on this topic even further (and I challenge you to the same) and I found study after study including testimonials about the amazing results of a gluten free diet. There are SO many reasons to make this (easy) swap that I will elaborate on in a moment, but the one main thing I kept coming back to was inflammation throughout the body.

 

 

Gluten can have SUCH an impact on the brain, nervous system, hormones, gut, mood and digestive patterns of ANY individual. It was once thought that only those diagnosed with “Celiac disease” were to avoid gluten for these reasons. Now, studies have shown that a much larger portion of the population are at some level “gluten sensitive” yet go undiagnosed. When I kept reading about this I decided that I wanted to know if and how gluten impacted me and so I eliminated it from my diet. Without a doubt, I found myself feeling completely different! Also, the changes I made were simple! With SO many gluten free products available I can promise you from experience that the food swaps and substitutions are nothing to stress about!

 

 

Whether or not you are eating gluten on a daily basis and feeling "fine", I urge you to give a gluten free diet a try!

 

 

Once again, the benefits of going gluten free are endless! Here is re-cap of the many health benefits reported:

 

 

 

• Weight loss

 

• More energy

 

• Improved digestion

 

• Improves cholesterol

 

• Less joint and muscle aches and pains

 

• More stable mood and better memory

 

• Improvement in severity and frequency of migraines

 

• Less inflammation throughout the body

 

• Clearer skin

 

• Promotes hormonal balance

 

• Better sleep quality

 

*Remember, SO many delicious foods are gluten free and so many restaurants now offer gluten free pastas and breads as well (just ask)!

 

 

A few of my favorite gluten free alternatives are:

 

• Oatmeal

 

• Quinoa

 

• Brown rice (plain, crackers or pasta)

 

• Red Lentil pasta

 

• Popcorn (lightly seasoned and NOT drenched in butter)

 

• Almond flour (great for baking)

 

• Coconut flour (great for baking)

 

 

Now of course, I don’t follow a gluten free diet perfectly. As I have blogged about many times before a healthy lifestyle is all about BALANCE and an 80/20 mentality. It really is so freeing! Yes, I do make as many gluten free substations when possible but there are those occasions that I do indulge in that amazing piece of bread at my favorite Italian joint or that brownie. However, the next day I am back on track! It is simple as that! So I urge you to NOT stress about making this change but to simply step back and evaluate your day to day meals and snacks and just make the necessary swaps. I really believe you will see and feel SUCH a difference in your overall health if you do! Now, isn't that sounding like a fantastic way to start off your New Year?

 

*picture source: http://womensrunning.competitor.com/2016/09/nutrition/whole-grains-runners-eating_65755#bz2lpimEYw0hpzJA.97

 

 

 

 

"Gluten Free Protein Packed Mug Brownie"

Posted on December 8, 2016 at 5:40 PM Comments comments (0)

The other day after coming in from a walk on a chilly afternoon with my daughter it was time for her nap and I was craving a sweet and chocolaty treat! As usual, I set out to be creative and grab a few things out of my pantry and make something indulgent but healthy at the same time. (Experimenting in the kitchen is actually one of my favorite ways to unwind these days! I find it very fun and relaxing!) Needless to say, after browsing through my various pantry items I pulled these ingredients and came up with the most delicious and simple microwave brownie recipe! I have been making it about once or twice a week ever since...it is really THAT good! Did I mention it is gluten free, low sugar, and full of protein and all real, wholesome ingredients? Please try it out and leave a comment below with how you liked it!

 

*Ingredients:

 

•1/4 cup of almond flour

•1/8 tsp. of baking powder

•1 packed tbsp. of unsweetened cocoa powder

•1 ounce of good quality dark chocolate (I use two Ghirardelli squares)

•3 tbsp of egg whites

•2 packets of Stevia in the Raw

•3 tbsp of coconut milk

•1 tbsp of natural peanut butter (softened for 30 seconds in the microwave)

 

*Directions:

In your favorite Christmas mug combine the above ingredients. Then, swirl in the softened peanut butter on top and cook it in the microwave for two minutes. Then...ENJOY!

Staying Healthy And Fit Throughout The Holiday Season

Posted on November 18, 2016 at 8:05 PM Comments comments (0)

 

Well, it's that time again! Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner! Can you believe it? It really is such a wonderful time of the year!  Unfortunately though, it can leave us feeling worn down and holding on to a few extra pounds (that is IF we are not careful to maintain our health). As I always say, a healthy lifestyle has to be a priority each and every day. There will always be a “reason” during a busy season to skip a work out or fill our body with less than wholesome garbage. This however, will only leave us feeling sluggish, blue and more susceptible to getting sick.

 

So how can we avoid this holiday slump? In my book, it all comes down to three things: discipline, planning and balance.

 

Let’s first talk about discipline for a moment shall we? The truth is, a healthy lifestyle does NOT just happen. We have to put effort into eating well and staying active! We have to make the time to plan for healthy meals around our holiday gatherings and splurges (aka “20” meals) and we have to make it a point to lace up our sneakers and move every day! Despite how crazy this time of year may be,  it is  MY responsibility to schedule in my workouts and to make sure that I am eating well each and every day. I may not always "feel" like waking up early to exercise or to make a wholesome breakfast but I know my health and well being will thank me if I do and suffer if I don’t. My health mantra is simple and short: “Don’t over think it and just do it!” You will always thank yourself in the end!

 

Now how do we go about planning to stay healthy throughout all of the hustle and bustle around the holidays? For me, the answer is to sit down with a pen and a note pad and map out the upcoming events and the obligations I have. Then, I look at my upcoming schedule and decipher which days I am most tied up and which days I am most available to grocery shop (and ensure my fridge stays stocked with healthy food) and which days I can meal prep to stay home to cook healthy dinners for my family. Then I look at my upcoming schedule and I write down for each day when exactly I plan to fit in a workout and/ or go for a walk with my daughter (I aim for at least 10,000 steps a day) . Yes, even on Thanksgiving and Christmas I make a point to stay active because I know how much my health depends on it. Also, keep in mind that a typical Thanksgiving or Christmas Day is going to bring on average 3,000 MORE calories than any other given day so staying active is vital to help counteract the extra indulgences and comfort foods!

 

 

Now last but not least let’s talk about how to balance these upcoming indulgences while maintaining a healthy lifestyle at the same time. Let me start off by saying that I’m a firm believer in indulging (in moderation) around the holidays and throughout the year! Part of a healthy lifestyle is about having a healthy relationship with food and giving yourself permission to indulge in your favorite foods! That being said, one of the biggest health mistakes I witness around the holidays is that moderation goes OUT the window. Instead of a Thanksgiving and Christmas splurge meal it turns into a splurge MONTH! One or two splurge meals a week is not a problem. A few splurges on holiday sweets every day with exercise on the back burner? Now, THAT is a deal breaker! We truly have to want to be healthy and feel our best each and every day. We cannot be okay with letting our health go at any one point in the year (no matter how crazy the time of year is)!

 

 

 

Over the years, I have found that there are certain things I MUST do to stay healthy and keep my immune system strong and my weight stable during the holiday season.

 

Here are my “Healthy, Holiday To-Do’s and Dont’s” :

1.) Schedule grocery shopping trips, meal planning and work outs as if they were non- negotiable work meetings or doctor appointments.

2.) Don’t over think your healthy plans and spend too much time stalling…simply, JUST DO IT. You will thank yourself later!

3.) Remember to ENJOY your all time favorite holiday indulgences but with moderation in mind. Practice portion control and try to stick to one plate or your favorite foods to avoid feeling “stuffed” like a turkey!

4.)  Make it a point to do something active daily (especially on a day where you will be indulging such as Thanksgiving and Christmas) to help balance out those extra carbs, fats and sweets.

5.)  Drink lemon water during your holiday dinners and parties. This is one of my favorite ways to beat the bloat when I am eating a rich meal. Lemon water actually works to increase your stomach acid and aid your stomach in digesting your meal. It also lowers the glycemic index of your meal and therefore will help keep your blood sugar more stable during and after the meal.

6.) Park as far away as possible at the grocery store, department stores and malls etc. It may sound a little silly but those couple hundred extra steps at every stop will really add up to quite a few calories burned (that wouldn’t have happened if you had parked in the closest spot available).

8.)  Aim for 8 hours of sleep a night. This will keep your immune system strong and your metabolism up and running as it should and it will keep the hunger hormone “leptin” stable. Studies have shown that when we skimp on sleep we crave junk and indulge much more than if we had been properly rested.

9.)  Remember that the holidays are about SO much more than food. Family and the celebration of our Lord are much more important. Enjoy the fellowship and remember the true meaning of each holiday and that in itself will help keep you from just “letting go”.

10.) Stop eating when your stomach has told you it is satisfied and has had enough. There will always be left overs the next day and there is no need to go around feeling sick, bloated and lethargic. Slowing down during the meal to engage in conversation and making sure to have a healthy snack an hour or two before the meal will definitely help you practice self control!

 

 

 

Friends, I hope this holiday season leaves you feeling healthy, strong and revitalized! Remember, life will always have its hectic seasons but it is OUR job to maintain our healthy lifestyles throughout those times. I want to encourage you to use this Thanksgiving and Christmas season as an opportunity to take care of yourself mentally, physically and spiritually. Please remember, there is never a season or a time of the year where it is okay to not nurture the body God gave us. With all of that said, I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving, a Merry Christmas and a Blessed and Happy New Year!

*picture source: www.kendavis.com

 

How To Get Your Picky Toddler To Eat Well!

Posted on October 16, 2016 at 9:00 PM Comments comments (1)

 

 

 

 

Toddlers…they are picky little things! When I became a mother I honestly didn’t plan or think ahead on this 2 year old “I’ll eat this not that” stage. We as mothers work SO hard to prepare healthy, balanced meals for our children and then (if your child is anything like my daughter) they end up eating the carbs and/or fruit and leave the protein and the greens behind! It can be hard to not become frustrated and concerned when we don’t feel that our little ones are eating a balanced diet. Well, I am writing this blog to encourage you that there IS hope and there ARE many ways to get even the pickiest of eaters to eat well!

 

It all comes down to learning to disguise foods with another of a stronger taste, smell and more vibrant color until you gradually add less and less of what I call the “camouflage” foods over time and eventually get them to eat the ACTUAL food. I promise you within a few weeks this tactic does work! My daughter for instance, used to absolute abhor spinach or green veggies of almost any sort but now she is requesting bites of my omelet (loaded with spinach) AFTER she has finished hers! She also used to never touch meat (especially beef) and now she will (the majority of the time).

 

So, I won’t hesitate any further! Let me introduce you to what I call the sneaky “5 Camouflage Foods” that have helped me help my daughter eat what she needs on a daily basis:

 

Bananas (to mask the taste of greens, the tang of Greek yogurt and the texture of seeds and grains especially in smoothies)

Cheddar Cheese (to mask the taste of greens, meat and the texture of whole grains)

Gluten Free, Seasoned Bread Crumbs (to help mask the texture and taste of meat)

Natural Ranch Dressing (to mask the taste of raw veggies)

Natural, HFCS free Ketchup (to mask the taste and texture of meat)

 

If your child is resisting greens, I suggest you make my toddler omelet recipe (posted on my website)! I add loads of spinach to this recipe and my daughter still gobbles it up all thanks to cheese! Always be looking for ways to sneak those greens into casseroles, smoothies, eggs, muffins etc. They will never know!

 

As I said, protein has been one of my biggest challenges with my little one. As you know, Greek yogurt is packed full of protein and calcium but my daughter hates the taste of it! So what do I do? I make her a smoothie and I sweeten it naturally with stevia, some pureed banana, avocado and chia seeds and she usually will slurp up whole thing! The taste of banana is over powering and totally takes the sour tang away!

 

 

Meat (also a great source of protein) was totally a no-no with my daughter for the longest time but what I have found is that it was all due to texture! That’s when I started coating the chicken, turkey and pork with whole grain, GF bread crumbs and then letting her dip it in ketchup. And to my surprise, she ate it!! With beef of any sort, it has a layer of cheese she will generally eat it too (especially when ketchup is offered alongside it). Once again, it was all about texture for her.

 

Raw carrots and broccoli? Ha! A few months ago I would have told you to forget even trying to put in front of my daughter. However now, I have found an amazing natural ranch dressing my Newman’s Own that she LOVES! I give her a little bowl of each the veggies and the dip and she now will sit and dip and munch for just about as long as I will let her!

 

Lastly, presentation of food with a toddler is HUGE! My daughter loves everything in colorful, individual little bowls with matching lids. This may sound silly but I promise you it works! Of course there are times we are in a rush and everything is served on the same plate, but as often as we can we serve her food in the most fun way possible. Pinterest is a great way to discover new, fun toddler meals for kids. “Ants on a Log” or celery topped with peanut butter and raisins is one of my favorite, fun toddler snacks!

 

Truly, feeding a toddler a healthy, balanced diet is all about experimenting, disguising, dressing up and compartmentalizing the foods in many different ways. The more you try these mechanisms the more you will discover what works for your child. I promise, it gets easier over time! Remember, toddlers typically aren’t going to eat three entire meals a day perfectly but just keep remembering to focus on quality of the food you are serving them and not the quantity. My little one has almost always been in the 10% on the growth chart (she was SO picky when it came to solids) but I am happy to say that now she has reached the 25% on the growth chart! The moral of the story is you are doing great mama! Keep trying, don’t let this stage get you down and remember it will get easier over time!

 

Healthy Pumpkin Bread

Posted on September 22, 2016 at 3:50 PM Comments comments (0)

I absolutely LOVE the Fall and everything that comes with it...especially anything to with pumpkin! This past weekend I was needing pumpkin bread in my life so I played around a bit and came up with this amazing, gluten, sugar and dairy free loaf! Did I mention that it is full of fiber and protein as well? I hope you will give this cozy recipe a try and love it as much as my family did!

 

*Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup of almond flour
  • 1 and 1/4 of pureed pumpkin (from the can in fine!)
  • 3 eggs
  • 8 packets or 1 1/2 tbsp. of Stevia
  • 1/2 tsp. of baking powder
  • 1 tbsp. of pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 cup of coconut oil (melted)

*Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a small mixing bowl combine the above ingredients thoroughly. Spray a Pyrex loaf pan and fill it with the mixture. Bake the bread for 30-40 minutes...and ENJOY!

Note: This is GREAT with a cup of coffee!

 

Gluten Free Chicken Parmesan Over Spaghetti Squash

Posted on August 23, 2016 at 5:15 PM Comments comments (0)


As always, Italian cuisine is calling my name! Since mine and my hubby's trip to Rome a couple years back I have developed even more of a taste and love for Italian food! That being said, it can be loaded with gluten, sodium and saturated fat. Challenging myself to come up with a healthy version of a yummy, indulgent dish is one of my favorite hobbies in the kitchen! Last night's chicken paremsan was out of this world delicious! If you are an Italina lover like I am I urge you to give it a try!

*Ingredients: 
  • 1 lb. of boneless, skinless chicken tenders (thawed)
  • 1/2 cup of coconut oil
  • 1 cup of gluten free bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup of shredded parmesan cheese
  • salt & pepper 
  • basil
  • a jar of your favorite marinara sauce (I love Newman's Own natural tomatoe & basil sauce)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 spahett squash 
*Directions: 
 
Pre heat your oven to 400 degrees. Cut your spaghetti squash in half and place face down in a pyrex dish coated with coconut oil. Cook the squash for 45 min or until soft.  Then, in a seperate frying pan heat your conconut oil on medium to low heat. In a small bown whisk two eggs together. In another seperate bown combine the bread crumbs, the parmesan cheese and the salt and pepper. Dip each, indivual piece of chicken in the egg batter and then in the bread crumb and cheese mixture and place it in the pan. Cook and brown the chicken thoroughly on each side for about 15 minutes. When the spaghetti squash is cooked, scrape out the seeds and throw them in the trash. Then scrape out the squash with a fork and place it on a dinner plate. Top the squash with the marinara and then the chicken. Lastly, add a few dashes of basil top and then voila! You're ready to eat! Enjoy!


Coconut Milk Chocolate & Cinnamon Ice Cream

Posted on August 23, 2016 at 4:55 PM Comments comments (0)


As always, I am in need of my weekly ice cream fix! This week I had fun playing in the kitchen and coming up with this super healthy treat! It totally took care of my cravings and did not impact my blood sugar...a double win! Please try it out! You won't regret it especially during these hot summer days!

*Ingredients:
  • one can of unsweetened coconut milk
  • 4 tbsp of unsweet cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp of stevia or 5 packets 
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon 
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
*Directions: 

In a small bowl, mix the above ingrients and then seperate the mixture into two small bowls. Freeze for 45 min. to one hour and enjoy! (makes 2 servings)



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