The Many Benefits of Ashwaganda

Thursday, September 10, 2015


As a certified wellness coach I am constantly researching and experimenting with foods and supplements that will keep me at my healthiest. I’m a firm believer in taking herbal supplements to provide your body with added nutrients that you may not be absorbing through your food. Given that every person has a different genetic makeup and varying differences in lifestyles, there is no one supplement that fits everyone. However, ashwaganda is one supplement that will benefit most everyone in a positive way.


What Is Ashwaganda?

Ashwaganda is in the same plant family as the tomato with oval leaves, yellow flowers and small red fruit about the size of a raisin. The root and berries are made into the extract (gel, pill or dried form for tonics) that are ingested daily. Ashwaganda is commonly called ‘Indian ginseng’ and is known for its restorative benefits particularly to the immune system. It has been used in eastern medicine for over 2,500 years. It is a powerful adaptogen herb which essentially means that it helps restore, balance and protect your body.



There are hundreds of studies on the many benefts of ashwaganda which include balancing hormones, reducing stress and anxiety, stabilizing blood sugar, reduce brain cell degeneration, improve immune response and prevent and treat cancer. (See Below for specific studies)

  • - Research from the Asha Hospital in Hyderbad found, in a study of 64 people with chronic stress, that Ashwagandha supplementation for two months decreased stress by 44% and decreased depression and/or anxiety by 72%.
    - Tokyo University of Technology researchers found that Ashwagandha slows the process of melanocyte stem cell phosphorylation, giving it the potential of blocking skin cancers.
    - Jamia Hamdard University researchers found that Ashwagandha reduces oxidative damage related to brain cell damage – making it useful for reducing dementia and Alzheimer’s risk.
    - Eight weeks of Ashwagandha supplementation increased endurance, respiration capacity and metabolic efficiency among cycling athletes, according to research from Guru Nanak Dev University.
    - Research from Texas’ Baylor University found that Ashwagandha reduced inflammation related to type I diabetes.
    - Research from the College of Pharmacy at University of Hawaii performed assays that found that Ashwagandha inhibited cancer-related cytokines.
    - Researchers from Jamia Hamdard University’s Pharmacy Faculty found that Ashwagandha reduces oxidative stress related to type 2 diabetes.
    - Researchers from Malaysia’s University Sains found that Ashwagandha reduced fatigue and increased general well-being among patients who were undergoing chemotherapy.
    - Researchers from Pakistan’s Quaid-i-Azam University found that Ashwagandha inhibited cancer cells from growing.


Many people (women in particular) often have hormone imbalances leaving them feeling tired, stressed, irritable and fighting to lose stubborn pounds. Since ashwaganda is an adaptogen it helps to balance thyroid levels so it can either stimulate a sluggish thyroid or slow down T3/T4 production depending on the body’s specific need.


Ashwaganda also contains powerful antioxidants that help fight free radicals that cause aging. This can be particularly helpful for the aging population to help prevent neurological diseases such as Alzheimers and dementia.


One of the more recent studies compared ashwaganda use to certain anti-depressant and anti-anxiety pharmaceutical drugs and found that it had comparable results. Plus, ashwaganda does not have the adverse side effects as those pharmaceutical drugs.


If you do suffer from chronic stress, mood swings, hormonal imbalances and low energy I strongly recommend you to try ashwaganda. Of course, consult your doctor if you are taking any pharmaceutical drugs specifically prescribed to treat any of the above issues as there could be some adverse side effects.


Here is the ashwaganda extract that I take daily: Ashwaganda root

Move More at Work

Monday, August 10, 2015


Do you have a job that requires you to sit at a desk for most of the day? Global studies show that we sit an average of 7.7 hours per day. Our society has become so sedentary, in fact, that many studies have proven the negative effects that prolonged sitting can have on our overall health. If you are one of the millions of Americans who has a desk job here are some tips to adding more movement to your day:


  • -Set an alert on your phone or desk to stand up every hour.
  • -Place your water bottle near your desk and drink. Every few hours you will either need to walk to the bathroom or refill your water bottle or both.
  • -Schedule a walking meeting. This is ideal if the meeting group is small.
  • -Take a walking lunch break with coworkers. Multiple benefits include absorbing vitamin D through the sun; stimulating blood flow throughout the body by walking; taking a mental break from work with conversation.
  • -Walk to communicate with a coworker instead of using email or phone.
  • -Stand up while on a conference call or walk around your office.
  • -Hold standing meetings. This is also a great way to ensure meetings stay on schedule as people become more cognizant of time while standing.


Regardless of your job, the key is to make time to move regularly throughout your day. 

A Little Spice Makes Everything Nice

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Let’s talk about health benefits of a few of my favorite spices: cardamom, cinnamon and ginger. Cardamom originated in India and is available in most grocery stores (ground) and specialty health food stores (pod and plant). It is rich in Vitamins A & C as well as potassium, copper, zinc, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus. It is well-known for having anti-carcinogenic properties as well as being good for cardiovascular health. It is also an anti-depressant and is often one of the essential oils used in aromatherapy.


Cardamom Tea

4 cardamom pods

4 black peppercorns

4 clove

1 cinnamon stick

4 slices fresh ginger (quartered)

*Heat all ingredients in 2.5 cups of water for 2 hours. Strain and serve with a teaspoon of honey and a splash of milk (sub almond or coconut milk for dairy free)


Have Nausea…Take Ginger! Ginger is the cure-all for all types of nausea including morning sickness, alcohol hangovers and motion sickness. It can also be used to aid in digestion. It originated in Southeast Asia more than 5000 years ago but spread quickly to other regions as its healing properties became more widely known. Traditional Ayurvedic (meaning life knowledge in Sanskrit) hailed ginger as a gift from God. It also has anti-microbial properties so it can be helpful when fighting a cold or other immune-suppressing illness.



Ginger Salmon

1 Filet wild caught Salmon

1 stem fresh chopped ginger

1 garlic clove chopped

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

S&P to taste

*Heat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly rub evoo on salmon then add garlic and ginger plus salt and pepper to taste. Bake for 15-20 minutes until salmon flakes off easily. Serve with a side of baked asparagus or other green vegetable and/or brown rice.


The use of cinnamon goes back to around 2000BC when Egyptians used it as a perfuming agent in the embalming process. Cinnamon is made by cutting the stems of the cinnamomum tree. Those stems are dried and during the drying process they roll up into sticks. The sticks can be used alone or they can then be ground up to form the powder we most commonly use in various recipes. Cinnamon contains large amounts of polyphenol antioxidant making it a huge superfood. It also has anti-inflammatory properties to help the body fight infection and repair tissue damage. Cinnamon has also been linked to reduce heart disease, lower blood sugar and blood pressure as well as cholesterol. Try a teaspoon in your coffee in the morning!


Basil Cinnamon Peaches

1 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup raw sugar (Or use 3 tablespoons of honey or agave nectar)

3 strips lemon zest (1-by-2-inch strips)

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 3-inch piece cinnamon stick

3 ripe but firm medium peaches, halved lengthwise and pitted

1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

*Combine water, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and cinnamon stick in a large nonreactive saucepan (see Note); bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the sugar dissolves. Add peach halves. Return to a brisk simmer, cover the pan and simmer, turning the peaches occasionally, until they are tender when pierced with a skewer or paring knife and the skins are loosened, 20 to 25 minutes (depending on the ripeness of the peaches). Transfer the peaches to a plate with a slotted spoon.

Return the liquid to a boil and cook until reduced to about 3/4 cup, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in basil and let cool to room temperature, about 40 minutes.

Slip off and discard the peach skins. Place the peaches in a storage container and strain the cooled syrup over them. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours.

Cool As A Cucumber

Monday, June 08, 2015

Yes, you too, can be as cool as a cucumber. What’s the trick? Just eat plenty of cucumbers!


Why the cucumber?

Cucumbers are naturally low in carbohydrates, sodium, fat and calories. (~15 calories/cup) They also contain a high amount of phytonutrients which provide antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer benefits. If that’s not enough for you they are also packed with water so eating a cup of ‘cukes’ is like drinking a glass of water. Cucumbers contain silica which helps keep your skin smooth and can aid in alleviating the puffiness around your eyes. Because they also contain potassium (4% of your daily value) they are essential for keeping your blood pressure from rising. So the next time you start to feel a little ‘hot under the collar’ try some cucumber water to help keep you cool.


Cucumber Recipes

Cool Cucumber Water

Peel 1 cucumber, slice in ¼” wide slices and Add slices to large pitcher of water and refrigerate. Enjoy a glass every hour. Or add 4-5 cukes to a large travel container and enjoy on the road.




Cucumber Salad

Peel 1 cucumber. Slice in half lengthwise and use spoon to scoop out seeds. Then slice in ¼” slices. Dice 2 tomatoes. Slice 1/4 red onion into thin strips. Add 1 tablespoon of freshly chopped basil. Mince 1 clove fresh garlic. Drizzle 1 tbsp (~2-3 seconds pour) of EVOO. Drizzle ½ tbsp. of balsamic vinegar. Add pinch of s/p. Mix together and let marinate for ~30minutes. Enjoy as a side to your main dish or as a tasty snack.


Asian Stir Fry Recipe

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

If you like Asian flavors I highly recommend the House of Tsang® stir fry sauces. For this dish I used the Classic Sauce which has mostly soy, sherry wine, garlic and ginger that makes it super tasty when added with a protein (chicken in this dish) and a variety of vegetables. You can really add just about anything from the fridge so this doesn’t have to be a ‘special trip to the market’ kind of dish.


The key to making this meal in under 35 minutes is to start the rice first. When I walk in the door I immediately put the brown rice into my rice cooker and then I start the prep of cutting the vegetables and sautéing everything together. If you don’t have a rice cooker, no problem, simply start the rice when you get home; change your clothes, pet the dog (or kids) and then get started with the dinner prep. Another shortcut is to use boneless chicken tenders instead of the breast so you do not have to prep the chicken by cutting it into strips. Plus, if you’re one of those people that doesn’t like to handle raw meat, this definitely limits your interaction!



2 cups cooked brown Jasmine rice (Follow cooking instructions on bag or use rice cooker)

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 package of boneless chicken tenders

Pinch of salt & pepper

1 each red, orange, yellow bell peppers sliced into strips

½ yellow onion sliced into strips

½ cup sliced mushrooms (any kind but I like the shitake)

1 garlic clove minced (~1tsp minced garlic)

1 bottle House of Tsang Classic Stir Fry Sauce

1 cup snow peas rinsed

¼ cup chopped green onion



As the rice is cooking, add the sesame oil and garlic to a large sauté pan. Heat for a few minutes and add the chicken tender pieces. Add the salt & pepper to the chicken. Cook until the chicken is no longer pink. Add the onions and peppers and sauté for 3-5 minutes until onions are slightly opaque. Add the stir fry sauce to the pan and stir until the chicken and vegetables are thoroughly coated. Let cook on medium heat for another 3-5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, snow peas and green onion and stir until coated. Cook another 3-5 minutes. Spoon a cup of rice into a bowl and add a scoop of the stir fry on top. And now moan your way through another wonderful meal! (PS This tastes even better the next day for lunch or dinner.)


Spring Is in the Air & On My Plate

Monday, April 27, 2015


Spring is in the air and I love being able to throw together a quick salad using whatever fresh fruits and veggies are on hand. You can mix up just about any combination of fruits to go on a salad. I typically stick with a balsamic vinegar and olive oil drizzle as a dressing since the creamy ones tend to be loaded with saturated fat and excess sugar and/or salt. Plus the light vinegar and olive oil allow you to really taste the mix of the fruits and veggies which should be the stars of the dish anyways.


Pear & Blueberry Salad

1 cup spinach or kale (or mix of both)

1 Bartlett pear chopped

½ cup blueberries

1 roma tomato sliced

Sprinkle of feta cheese (or omit if dairy free)

Sprinkle of sunflower seeds (~2 tbsp)

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1tbsp aged balsamic vinegar

*(You can mix the vinegar and oil together to blend them before drizzling over salad if you prefer)


Layer the ingredients in that order in a salad bowl and enjoy!

Are You a Mindful Eater?

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Mindful Eating


Most people are constantly on the go and multi-tasking throughout the day. One of the ways we think we are being smarter is multi-tasking our way through meals. Does this sound like you…grab a granola bar and eat it on the way to work; pick up lunch or take your own and eat it at your desk while checking and responding to emails; pick up dinner or microwave a meal and sit in front of the TV to ‘relax’ and eat. That was basically how I ate all of my meals when I worked as a corporate executive for many years. In my haste to be all things to all people, I felt the constant need to combine any form of eating with another activity and never gave it any thought. One day when I was traveling to Seoul, South Korea for work, I decided to walk down the street from my hotel and grab a bite to eat for dinner. I had forgotten to bring my cell phone and I was left with nothing to do as I ate my meal. How wrong I was!! After picking a corner table near the window and ordering my food, I began to people watch and take in all of the sounds and visuals around me. I could smell the aromas from various dishes as they were served to nearby tables. There were tables full of laughter and then also tables full of silence as people madly studied their cell phones or typed messages. Then I noticed all of the people passing by on the street and for the first time I realized how relaxed I felt while simply observing my surroundings. It was as if I was in the eye of a storm and I felt a real sense of peace. And then my food arrived. It was a traditional meal known as Bimimbap (BEE-beem-bap) and consists of steamed rice and on top sits a variety of steamed vegetables such as baby corn, mushrooms, spinach, bean sprouts and egg. It is seasoned with a soy, ginger, sesame oil marinade and is absolutely delicious. When this bowl of food was presented to me, I first smelled the dish and could feel my inner self starting to purr with excitement. (Yes, I said purr!) Then I took my first bite and simply held the bite in my mouth to take in all of the flavors. Then I began chewing and continued to notice the slight change in flavors as my saliva began to break down the food. It was a meal like no other and I enjoyed it thoroughly even though I probably only consumed about half of the bowl. All of my senses were on high alert and it was one of the most memorable meals I’ve ever had. Now you may wonder why I am going into so much detail about this particular meal. This is one great example of mindful eating. I was completely aware of the entire dining experience and all of my senses were engaged making it a most enjoyable experience.


Fast forward several years later and I am now a wellness coach guiding women on how to eat, move & breathe healthier. Given how busy we all are and the many responsibilities we have to our careers, family and community, it’s no wonder we tend to run ourselves into the ground. One of my recommendations to clients is to reserve one meal a day for ourselves. This goes back to my philosophy of taking care of YOU first so why not enjoy one meal and completely indulge in the act of eating. In Don Gerrard’s book, One Bowl, he describes how he picks out his favorite bowl and eats all of his meals out of this bowl. He has a quiet place in his house that is reserved for his meals and this becomes an almost meditative experience because he experiences every bite and how his body communicates with him by telling him when he is full. In my house, we use small plates. It has become a common practice that I eat my meals at home in silence either sitting at the dining room table or even sitting outside on our back deck enjoying this beautiful fall weather. Not only do I pay attention to what I’m eating but I also observe how I eat: the way I sometimes blend foods together or when I choose to save a certain side for last because it’s my favorite; even the pauses that I take to have a drink of water and assess whether I feel the need to clean my plate. It’s amazing how many times my body will quietly say ‘I’m full’ and I will simply take my plate to the kitchen to be cleaned. (Or soaked if you’re like my husband!) If this sounds way too intimidating (or weird) for you then here are a few suggestions you can try to begin mindfully eating and enjoying your food.

Turn Off All Technology

If you’re at the office, simply take your meal outside or to the office kitchen. Outside lunches are a great way to soak up some Vitamin D which helps maintain heart action and nervous system function. Plus, it’s a nice diversion from the fluorescent glow of office lights. Having no computers, phones or TVs around ensures that you are paying complete attention to your food.

No More Car Eating

If you’re eating 2 or meals in your car each day, subtract one meal. If you’re a morning person, consider waking up 5-10 minutes earlier so that you can eat your breakfast in a quiet place before the hustle of the day begins and/or the rest of your house is awake. This is a great opportunity for you to be able to enjoy a few relaxing minutes and set a mindful start to your entire day. I’ve had quite a few people tell me this is their favorite meal of the day because it sets the tone for their whole day.

Find One Relaxing Spot for Your Meal

My husband travels for work so many of my meals are solo and that means I can eat pretty much anywhere I choose. That’s why I like to go outside when I can because there is something so relaxing about eating outdoors. When we eat together as a family, I will set the table and this becomes a meal where we are able to connect with each other and enjoy the food and the whole experience. We leave work and other stressful topics at the door so that we can at least enjoy this time with each other. You can do this with your kids as well and even choose a topic for dinner which can lead to some very creative and entertaining discussions.

Dine Out Solo

I did this a lot when I traveled for work and as I described earlier, it became one of my most cherished events. This may be hard for some people especially if you are constantly surrounded by people and technology but trust me, it is well worth the uncomfortable feeling when you completely immerse yourself in the overall dining experience.


Mindful eating is really simply being present during your meals so that you can truly savor each bite and the complete meal. This goes back to making YOU the number one priority and what better way to do that than to set a date with yourself every day for at least one meal. You’ll be so happy you did!!

Time to Veg Out

Monday, March 16, 2015

Farm Fresh Veggies


I woke up this morning craving fresh tomatoes. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting a homegrown tomato freshly picked off the vine with a dash of salt and pepper then you know exactly why I’m craving tomatoes! It is a little piece of heaven and totally moan-worthy in my book. J That being said it’s time to start working on my garden so I can have tomatoes ready for the summer. And for those of you who don’t have the time or the desire to plant a garden those tomatoes are just a click away. One easy way to get fresh veggies is to sign up for a local community supported agriculture (CSA) program. You can easily Google a program in your area and there’s a good chance that there’s a local farm nearby that has a program or offers onsite pick up of fresh farm veggies. And did I mention farm fresh eggs?!


For those of you that are in the Charleston area here are a few programs you can check out.

  • -Ambrose Family Farms: This is my personal favorite and I try to do either the winter or summer share program depending on my schedule. I would recommend the medium share for a 4-person family. Plus you can always head to the Stono Market on Main Road if you want more veggies.
  • -Legare Farms
  • -Gruber Farms


For my Columbia, SC peeps….try these


There are a few other large retail companies that are now partnering with local farms to provide customers with access to fresh produce. Check out and search for ‘produce’ and add your zip code to see if there is a program near you. There is also a Costco-like retailer,, which also sells fresh veggies and a wide range of other products that you can have delivered to your door. There are free shipping options with both of these retailers to make it a little more cost efficient.

Everyone should have access to fresh produce regardless of where you live. And buying fresh farm veggies is usually very inexpensive and you’re supporting local business so it’s a win for your wallet and for your local community.

Cook Once, Eat Twice

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

People are always asking me the best way to eat healthy on a budget and on-the-go. The answer is there is no magic wand to wave over your kitchen to make a meal magically appear that is healthy and doesn’t break the bank. What I usually tell me people is that you have to plan ahead. Just like you plan your work day and even make plans for keeping your house in order and taking care of the kids.


So how do you do it? For some people who are master planners you can pick a day on the weekend to do your grocery shopping and do some food prep like cutting up veggies and/or baking a protein so that you can easily whip up a meal later in the week. For others who don’t want to spend that much time in the kitchen it’s all about keeping healthy foods on hand that are easy to prep.


This recipe is for those people who do plan ahead and have a cooked protein and grain already on hand. My motto is ‘cook once and eat twice’ so I will prepare a meal on Sunday night and be able to incorporate part of it into mini-meals later in the week. It saves a ton of time during the week when you can simply reheat a food and mix it in to make something else.


Sunday Meal #1 Chicken Fajita Rice Bowl (~25 minutes total prep/cook time)

Serves 2 (With left overs for lunch and the chicken and rice can be used in another meal)

2 Chicken Breasts (sliced)

1 onion (sliced)

2 green bell peppers (sliced)

1 garlic clove (diced)

2 tsp EVOO

½ tsp ground cumin

1 tbsp salsa

2 pinches of shredded cheese

4 cups cooked brown rice

½ avocado sliced


To Make:

Sauté chicken breasts in pan with EVOO & garlic until mostly cooked throughout

Remove half of chicken and place in container to be used in another meal

Add sliced onions, peppers and cumin to the remaining chicken mixture and cook for 3-5 minutes

Add ½ cup rice to bowl and top with chicken & peppers

Add salsa and cheese

**If you want to heat up some black beans to add in some additional protein feel free to add those as well

You can add leftovers to a salad for lunch the next day as well. Or you can wrap up in a whole wheat tortilla to make a chicken fajita burrito.



Monday Meal #2 Chicken Stir Fry (~ 15 minutes total prep/cook time)

Serves 2

Leftover chicken breast (~1 chicken breast)

Leftover brown rice (~ 2 cups)

2 pounds green beans (Can chop off the ends if you have time but otherwise these can go straight into sauté pan)

1 Bunch of Green onion (chopped)

1 garlic clove (diced)

2 tsp sesame oil (can also use EVOO)

¼ cup teriyaki marinade (Wan Ja Shan Organic or Kikkoman; you can also make your own with soy sauce, honey, garlic & ginger if you have the time)

½ tsp red pepper flakes (optional for extra heat)


To Make:

Sauté green beans and garlic in sesame oil for 3-5 minutes on medium/high heat

Add chicken and teriyaki marinade and stir together for another 3-5 minutes

Add rice and continue stirring until marinade is mixed well with the rice

Top with green onion and stir again

Serve in a bowl and top with red pepper flakes for added heat


It's National Pancake Day

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Is there a better reason to wake up and have pancakes for breakfast?!! Instead of reaching for a mix which is loaded with processed ingredients and trans fat try one these easy, made-from-scratch recipes for a healthier start to your day. Now you can have your cake and eat it too…and no guilt!!

Wheat-Free Pancakes

3 cups almond meal
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 large eggs
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk, light coconut milk, or milk
2 tablespoons extra-light olive oil, walnut oil, coconut oil, or butter, melted


To Make:

  • In a medium bowl, combine the almond meal, flaxseed, salt, and baking soda.
  • In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, then add the milk and oil or butter and whisk thoroughly.
  • Gradually whisk the flour mixture into the egg mixture. Add more milk as necessary, one tablespoon at a time, to reach pancake-batter consistency.
  • Lightly oil a skillet and heat over medium heat. Pour batter onto skillet to make large or small pancakes. Cook for three minutes, or until bubbles form and edges are cooked. Flip and cook for three minutes or until underside is lightly browned. Repeat with remaining batter.
  • Top with Greek yogurt and berries or your maple syrup if you want a sweeter treat. I like mine with dark chocolate chips or cocoa nibs!

Ever wonder what to do with that leftover quinoa? Or if you've never tried quinoa this is a great way to enjoy it. The quinoa gives your pancakes a fluffier texture and you can sweeten them up with syrup or fruit.

Quinoa Pancakes

1 cup cooked quinoa
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon course salt
1 large egg, plus 1 large egg white
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted, plus more for skillet
1/4 cup low-fat milk
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup, plus more for serving
Fresh fruit or fruit preserves (optional) for serving

  • To Make:
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together quinoa, flour, baking powder, and salt. In another medium bowl, whisk together egg, egg white, butter, milk, and syrup until smooth. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and whisk to combine.
  • Lightly coat a large nonstick skillet or griddle with butter and heat over medium-high. Drop batter by heaping tablespoonfuls into skillet. Cook until bubbles appear on top, 2 minutes.
  • Flip cakes and cook until golden brown on underside, 2 minutes. Wipe skillet clean and repeat with more melted butter and remaining batter (reduce heat to medium if overbrowning). Serve with maple syrup and fresh fruit or preserves if desired.

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