Going Dairy Free – Lactose Intolerance

CowLast week I talked about gluten free tips. This week, I want to chat a little about dairy free items.

Going dairy free is getting easier but you have to read food labels. Since dairy is one of the “top 8 allergens” you will find the work “milk” or “dairy” in bold black letters on the ingredient list.

Some items to avoid:
Cottage cheese
Condensed milk
Ice cream
Sour cream
Cream cheese

You can find many substitutes for dairy containing foods. Plant-based milks (almond milk, coconut milk, hemp milk, soymilk, rice milk, etc.) are available in most grocery stores and non-dairy ice cream (coconut ice cream is my favorite!). I don’t recommend non-dairy cheese. I haven’t found a good and healthy substitute. You may have to get used to cheese-less pizza. It’s actually very good!

Here’s a healthy non-dairy “ice cream” recipe! Super healthy and easy!

“Ice Cream” base:
3 frozen bananas
2 Tbsp. Peanut butter or almond butter (all-natural)
½ tsp. Vanilla

Chocolate drizzle:
Spoonful cocoa powder
Drizzle non-dairy plant milk (coconut, soy or almond milk)
Liquid sweetener, to taste (liquid Stevia, honey, maple syrup)

What to do:

• Freeze bananas for several hours (or overnight)
• Place bananas, peanut or almond butter and vanilla in food processor or blender (can add a little plant milk if sticking too much)
• Place in Tupperware, spread out and freeze for 30-60 mins
• Combine chocolate drizzle ingredients and drizzle over “ice cream” and add salted peanuts or chopped walnuts, if desired

Lactose Intolerance Syptoms

Gluten Free Video Below

Mari Hicks – Health Coach

Health and Wellness – Make your own fresh fruit smoothie

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Use water (or almond or coconut milk) as your base

Spinach (hefty handful)

Strawberries (1 cup)

Cherries (1/2 cup)

¼ avocado (for some good fat and extra creaminess)

1-2 tbsp of flaxseed or hemp seeds (Omega 3 fats!)

Add ice and blend!

Bonus – make ice cubes from vanilla almond (or coconut) milk



10 Tips for Eating Out


Eating out can be a challenge when you are trying to watch what you eat.  Looking at the menu at your favorite dishes and having to flip the page to the “healthy” section can be a sad moment in your dining experience.  However, don’t be afraid to turn the page back to your favorite pasta dish or burger.  Below are some great tips to help you to make wise choices at the table.

  1. Avoid the bread that comes out before your meal.  If you’re at a restaurant where it’s customary to have dinner rolls, kindly ask the waiter to take them back or not to bring them out.
  2. H2O is the way to GO!  Don’t drink your calories, eat them.  Stay away from the pop and alcoholic beverages.
  3. Ask for a Togo box when your food arrives.  Then place half of your meal in the box to help with portion control.  Plus you will have an awesome lunch for the next day.
  4. Choose an entrée that has veggies, lots of veggies.
  5. When ordering pasta, ask the waiter if they offer whole grain pasta noodles as a substitute.
  6. If your meal comes with a soup or salad, request dressing on the side and pass on the creamier soups.
  7. Be inquisitive.  Ask your waiter how items are prepared.  Are the vegetables sautéed in butter, drowning in cheeses or fried?
  8. Take your time.  Don’t rush your meal, eating shouldn’t be a race.  Enjoy your food; the flavors of the ingredients.  Share your day with your eating companion.  Your food isn’t going to run off your plate…hopefully!
  9. Try something new.  Go for the salmon dish you’ve had your eye on but was too scared to try.  Broaden your food palate and explore new dishes and restaurants.
  10. Dessert please!  If you must, choose a dessert with fruit or sorbet.

How to Make Healthy Banana Pancakes with Chef George

ts easy to underestimate the power of healthy breakfast. Join Chef George Rapitis for a quick “healthier” version of Banana Pancakes.

Chef George (http://eatrightbygeorge.com/) studied and taught culinary arts at Schoolcraft College in Livonia, Mich. He has a doctorate in holistic nutrition from Clayton College of Natural Health, and a bachelor’s degree in dietetics from Madonna University also in Livonia. He has been featured on television segments such as “Fox TV 2 Cooking School” in Detroit and currently has a cooking show on Bright House cable that airs every Tuesday.

It’s Food Allergy Awareness Month! Weekly Tips:


Maria Hicks
Health Solutions Coach

September is Food Allergy Awareness Month and we’re going to talk about a few of the top allergens. This week’s blog is dedicated to gluten.  I personally have gluten intolerance and have been following a gluten-free diet for over three years.

There are two classifications:  Celiac Disease & Gluten Intolerance.  Celiac is an extreme allergy to gluten and considered an autoimmune disorder.  Celiac damages the intestinal wall and can cause extreme gastrointestinal conditions.  People who have this disease need to steer clear of gluten and make sure all their food is prepared in a gluten free environment.  Gluten intolerance can have many symptoms from minor intestinal discomfort to “hidden symptoms” such as hormonal disruptions, skin rashes, etc.

If you think you have gluten sensitivity, here are some tips to try a gluten free diet!


  • Take gluten out of your diet for 14-21 days to see how you feel
  • Add gluten back into your diet for 3 straight days and pay attention to how you feel – if you felt better without gluten, then, consider going on a gluten free diet for 3-6 months and re-testing after that
  • Read all labels – look for “gluten free” products and look for gluten/wheat printed in BOLD on the ingredient list on labels
  • Need bread and pasta replacement?  Try brown rice breads, pastas, rice cakes and quinoa & millet breads and pastas
  • Oatmeal may or may not contain gluten.  Make sure to buy “gluten free” oats
  • Gluten is found in wheat, rye and barley – watch out for beer and items containing “barley malt” as well
  • Keep a food journal – how you feel after you eat certain foods
  • Be encouraged!  If you find out you are gluten intolerant or feel better without gluten, eating gluten free gets easier and easier!

The Healthy Bite – Cherry, Wild Rice and Quinoa Salad

Here is a light a fresh recipe to make at home or bring as a dish to pass!  Cherry, Wild Rice and Quinoa Salad

Cherry, Wild Rice and Quinoa Salad


  • ¾ cup    Wild rice
  • ½ cup    Quinoa
  • 1 tbsp    Extra-virgin oil
  • ¼ cup    Balsamic vinegar (or change flavor according to taste)
  • ¾ tsp     Salt
  • ¼ tsp     Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups   Sweet cherries (pitted and halved)
  • 2 stalks Celery (diced)
  • ¾ cup    Diced goat cheese (or other smoked cheese according to taste)
  • ½ cup    Toasted pecans (chopped)


To begin, bring a large saucepan of water to a boil with the heat turned on high. Add the wild rice and cook for 30 minutes. Next, add the quinoa and cook until both the rice and quinoa are tender (about 15 minutes).  After cooking is complete, drain and rinse the mixture with cold water.

During this process whisk the oil, vinegar, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl. Toss in the rice, quinoa, cherries, celery, cheese and pecans. Thoroughly mix the ingredients and serve at room temperature or cold.


Tess Zasuwa | Health Solution Intern

8 Light and Simple Summer Side Dishes

Spice up your next barbecue with fresh produce that is in season! Here are some healthy suggestions of simple side dishes to share at you next summer celebration.

  1. Fruit Salad – mix the fresh fruits of the season like strawberries, peaches, blueberries, watermelon, pineapple and cantaloupe to make a tasty colorful treat
  2. Coleslaw/Potato Salad – cut half the calories and fat by substituting the mayo with apple cider or balsamic vinaigrette
  3. Veggies/Fruit for the grill – try picking up fresh vegetables at your local market and throw them on the grill for some fresh flavors to add to your main course
  4. Dips – try a black bean and corn salsa, hummus or guacamole to lighten up the appetizer course
  5. Potatoes – substitute sweet potatoes in your next potato recipe
  6. Chilled soups – research has proven that if you eat a cold veggie based soup like gazpacho before your meal you will decrease you appetite through the rest of the meal
  7. Salads – gather fresh greens of your choice, rinse and toss with other summer vegetable likes peas, carrots, corn, peppers – it’s that easy. Combine bean or whole grains to the mix for a heartier side dish
  8. Fresh Herbs – every side dish is elevated with the use of summer’s fresh hers with no added calories

Now try incorporating at least one of these “fresh” ideas into your next summer party. Below is one of my favorite side dishes to pass!

Tropical Fruit Salsa


1                      ripe Mango (peeled, seeded and diced)

1                      ripe Avocado (peeled, seeded and diced)

½ cup            Pineapple (diced) add as much as you want depending on taste

½cup             Red Onion (minced)

½ cup            Red Pepper (minced)

3 TB                Cilantro (chopped)

2 tsp              Jalapeno Pepper (minced)

1 tsp              Garlic (minced)

Pinch             Kosher salt

1 TB                fresh Lime Juice


Combine all of the salsa ingredients listed above together in a bowl and fold well to combine. Allow to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes so that all of the flavors can combine. Any of the ingredients can be increased or decreased depending on personal taste.

Tess Zasuwa | Health Solution Intern

The Healthy Bite – Star Spangled 4th of July Tips

114242252With Independence Day just around the corner, here are some ideas and tips to keep your day healthy, festive and fun for this year’s summer celebration!

  • Jump-start your day of activities by eating breakfast – quick healthy options consist of scrambled eggs,  Greek yogurt, peanut butter banana toast or a fruit/veggie smoothie
  • Keep the water flowing – stay hydrated all day long, especially in the heat of the summer
  • Keep snacking at a minimum – try baked chips instead of fried and guacamole or hummus instead of old fashioned chip dip
  • Beef burgers aren’t your only option – other healthy alternatives could be turkey or veggie burgers
  • Look for the leaner cuts of meat – this they have much less fat but tend to be drier so add a little moisture and watch your cooking time
  • Stay light and fresh – watch for ingredients in side dishes that are heavy in fat such as mayo or sour cream by replacing them with apple cider vinegar, lemon juice or balsamic vinaigrette
  • Proper sun protection starts with three simple things – hats, sunglasses and sunscreen
  • Mosquito and tick protection – this is the time of the year to use your bug spray and check for bites after a day in grassy or wooded areas
  • Enjoy the sunshine and get outside – walk, run, bicycle, rollerblade, swim or kayak
  • Sit back and enjoy the show – leave the fireworks to the experts

Remember these tips during your 4th of July festivities to have a safe, fun and healthy holiday!


Tess Zasuwa | Health Solution Intern

The Healthy Bite – Corny Crab Dip

Corny Crab DipTry this light crab and corn dip made healthier with reduced-fat cream cheese, nonfat yogurt and fat free cottage cheese instead of full-fat cheese, mayonnaise and sour cream. It will save you a ton of calories and fat per serving compared to full fat versions. Serve with baked chips, pita or veggies.


  • 1 small shallot, peeled
  • 1 5-ounce can water chestnuts, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat cream cheese, (Neufchâtel)
  • 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • ¼ bag of frozen corn
  • ½ teaspoon of Braggs Liquid Aminos (soy)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 can of lump crab drained
  • ½ teaspoon Sriracha hot sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives



  1. Pulse shallot and water chestnuts in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Add cream cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, lemon juice, salt and pepper and pulse until just combined. Add chives and pulse until incorporated.
  2. Remove creamed mixture from processor add frozen corn, crab, hot sauce and Bragg’s.


Tips & Notes

  • Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 4-6 hours. Stir before serving.