Restaurant Meal Substitutions that will Make Dr. Oz Proud


You may be thinking, “Dr. Oz??? He doesn’t even know me.”

Yea but so.  Dr. Oz is a prominent doctor celebrity television persona that gives credibility to almost every “get-slim-quick” supplement product on the market.  Apparently these profit-seeking businesses know to use his name in order to sell their stuff and bring in the big bucks.

Forget the hype, we smart people know the truth.  

– We know that  Dr. Oz doesn’t even use 99.7% of the products that hoard his name on their label.

– We know that these companies are just saying whatever they need to say to get you to open your wallets and spend your hard earned dollars.

– We also know that Dr. Oz is an advocate of eating clean protein-rich meals and healthy fats along with nutrient-rich colorful fruits and vegetables. Based on what he says on his show, he believes powerfully in the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet and is slowly coming to embrace the ancestrally-inspired Paleo diet lifestyle (yaassss!).  So based on what Dr. Oz really truly recommends, in order to get his good praise, eating clean is the name of the game (if you watch his show, you know the doctor loves games).

That’s all it takes folks:  Eat clean foods, make Dr. Oz proud. Simple.

So now you may be asking: what about eating out? True, it is much harder to eat clean at a restaurant given that temptation is all around in the form of discounted menu specials, professional food photos of cake and pasta that tantalize your tastebuds, wildly behaving friends yelling out “shots…” and the sensational aroma coming from the kitchen.  Even when we are able to resist temptation and put forward our best effort, it is much harder to control the quality of restaurant meals because we do not prepare these meals ourselves.  Which is why I recommend you prepare and eat as many meals as possible at home.  Leave restaurant meals as a social experience enjoyed once in a while, not as a daily occurrence.

The next time you are on a social outing, consider making these smart restaurant meal substitutions that will not skimp on flavor, I promise.  But one last important thing:  All that crazy talk above about Dr. Oz being proud of you means NOTHING if you do not approve of yourself and your  own choices.  At the end of the day, YOU come first.  Treat yourself right and feed yourself well despite what others may be doing around you.  It’s the smart decision you can be proud of every time.

Restaurant Meal Substitutions that will make Dr. Oz YOU proud:


Breakfast or Brunch:

Restaurant menu says:  eggs, bacon, toast, and hashbrown

Instead you choose:  eggs, bacon, no toast, and substitute the hashbrown with a side mixed greens salad + avocado


Restaurant menu says:  cheeseburger on rye bread with mayo, cheddar, lettuce. Tomato and side of fries

Instead you choose:  Instead of the bread, put the burger on a bed of lettuce and hold the fries.  I like to call it, a burger salad.  You’ll need a knife and fork to put this meal down (extra effort I know) but it is so delicious and worth it.  I don’t know about you, but it makes me feel badass to eat a salad with a burger sitting on top.


Menu says:  Creamy fettuccine Alfredo with breaded fried chicken and garlic French bread.

Instead you choose:  something different!  This gluten bomb will leave your belly bloated and gassy while your brain will be operating on slow mode for days to come.  Steer clear and choose something else such as sirloin steak with roasted broccoli and yam mash.  This substitute meal is gourmet enough to make you feel like you are indulging but without the guilt or the isolate-yourself-please! gluten effects.


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Roasted Cauliflower

I’ve never had to wear 3 pairs of socks with my Uggs — until today.  Man it’s cold in Oakland, CA.  I’ve been living out here for almost 10 years now but my body is still, and probably will always be, adapted to hot Los Angeles weather — where I was born and raised. Yep I’m a #Lakerfan and I #bleedpurpleandgold.

Thank goodness for this hot cup of Peppermint tea keeping me warm.  Ladies and gentlemen, I think I’ll be alright.  On to the good stuff…

I didn’t know cauliflower was hated by so many people.  Personally, over the years I have come to enjoy this white flowery looking cruciferous vegetable.  In fact, it is one of my favorites because I get to make delicious recipes with it such as roasted cauliflower and mashed cauliflower aka “I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-mashed-potatoes.”  I am slowly winning over new fans of cauliflower when I share with them this roasted cauliflower dish.  If you are not a vegetable lover and are looking for a way to get more veggies into your daily meals, this roasted cauliflower recipe will soon become a favorite.

If you really want to increase your health food game, include at least 2-3 servings of cruciferous vegetables each week. Crucifers are often touted as “the superfoods” of vegetables.  They include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, collard greens, and bok choy.  A listing of cruciferous vegetables’ benefits include:

  • Lowers risk for cancer
  • Reduces oxidative stress
  • Detox support
  • Rich in antioxidants
  • Anti-imflammatory
  • Promotes fat loss
  • Reduces cardiovascular risk
  • Supports immune health



  • 5 cups cauliflower (one medium-sized crown)
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest OR 1/4 teaspoon dried lemon peel


Roasted Cauliflower Ingredients

Roasted Cauliflower Ingredients


1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2.  Cut cauliflower into 1.5 inch pieces keeping them as uniform as possible.

3.  Toss cauliflower, olive oil and salt and pepper together in a bowl.

Cauliflower raw - tossed

Cauliflower raw – tossed

4.  Place in one layer on lightly greased cookie sheet and bake for 12 minutes then take out and mix around each piece to ensure uniform roasting.

Raw Cauliflower on Baking Sheet

Raw Cauliflower on Baking Sheet

5.  Put back into oven for 12 minutes watching closely for light golden brown color.

6.  Place back into bowl and toss with chives and lemon zest.

Roasted Cauliflower - Done

Roasted Cauliflower – Done

roasted cauliflower - up close

Roasted Cauliflower – al dente

Serve as a side dish or eat cold as a snack. Either way, you can’t go wrong.

Makes 2-3 servings. 

If you are like me,  you drool over food pics. No shame tho right? K cool, follow me on Instagram

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How to Make Deviled Eggs (no Mayo)

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Forget retail therapy.  Grocery shopping is my therapy. Ask me what I want for my birthday and I’ll excitedly blurt out “a giftcard to Wholefoods or Trader Joe’s, please!”  Yep ask my mom, she’ll vouch.

True story, this is how a recent conversation went with a new guy I’m dating:

Him: what did you do today?

Me:   I went shopping! <extra exhilaration in my voice>

Him:  oh really, what did you get?

Me:  oh…ummmmm…kale…aaaannnnd… someotherstuff.  Yeah…I just went to the grocery store, no big deal. So what’s up with you?  <quickly changed that subject!>

I wasn’t ashamed or nothing. Just felt it was too early in our dating history to fully reveal my foodie-behavior-weirdness.  Baby steps.

But back to the meat of the conversation:  I can literally walk into the grocery store to pick up one item and walk out an hour later with a bag full of knock-your-socks-off goodies (I mean groceries).  It doesn’t help that the Whole Foods and the Trader Joes are both literally just a 15 minute walk from my home.  But honestly, I’m not complaining.  I’ll take the grocery store over the GAP allday, anyday, everyday.

So for those of you who love eggs like me and enjoy making meals using eggs as a main ingredient, then you’ll love my original recipe for deviled eggs.  It uses avocado in place of mayonnaise which cuts the inflammation-causing rancid* oil content to zero.

Avocados are full of heart healthy monounsaturated fats which helps keep your mind sharp and your waistline slim and trim. Sounds good to me.

*soybean oil will make you fat

No-Mayo Deviled Eggs



-Boiled Eggs (we used 12 but you can use as many as you like)

-1-2 Ripe Med-Large Avocados, seed removed (pre-mashed if you prefer a creamier deviled egg)

-1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil

-1 Tsp of Himalayan Sea Salt

-1/2 Tsp of Black Pepper

-1/2 Lime to squeeze into mix and enhance flavor

-1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

–  crumbled bacon pieces (optional)

–  chopped fresh cilantro or parsley or basil (optional)



1.  Boil the eggs and then let them cool in cold water (makes it easier to remove the shell).

2.  De-shell the eggs then cut each egg in half lengthwise.

3.  Get a bowl.  Scoop the yellow egg yolks into the bowl.  Remember to keep the egg whites.

4.  In the bowl, add the avocado (pre-mashed or not)

5.  Add all other ingredients and mix n mash everything until creamy.  A few small chunks of avocado is fine if you like it that way (like I do).

6.  Once mixed, scoop the filling into the egg whites.

7.  Top your deviled eggs with bacon and herb of choice.

8.  YUM – eat up.

avocado deviled eggs

BONUS:  COOKING VIDEO – watch me prepare avocado deviled eggs.  And you’ll see how I cannot pronounce cayenne.  Sounds more like Kanye.  (sorry Mr. West).

Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (Grain-free, Dairy-free)

Almond butter chocolate chip cookies (Free of dairy, grain, soy)

Love is in the air:  Valentine’s Day is right around the corner which means millions of people will spend countless dollars on chocolates, flowers, and cards to show that special person how much they are loved.  Personally, I’d rather my guy treat me to an experience in which we can share together and recall the memories for years to come;  material things pale in comparison.

One way to show your love and appreciation for your loved one is to prepare dinner for the two of you to enjoy together. Set the mood by dimming the lights.  Getting physical in the kitchen can ignite the slow burn later that night, if you know what I mean.  Consider serving your lover this easy salmon entree.  Or if red meat is more your speed, this rib-eye steak recipe will satisfy completely. After the main course, serve these cookies up warm, fresh out of the oven.  Then get on with the intimate festivities planned the rest of the night – satisfaction guaranteed!

These cookies are a dream come true for someone looking for a sweet, soft, chewy, decadent treat without dairy, grain, and soy.  If you have food intolerances or health reasons to avoid dairy, gluten and soy, make sure to choose a chocolate chip brand that does not contain these common allergens.  Enjoy Life chocolate chips are dairy-free, gluten-free and soy-free.  Score!

Bonus:  cooking video!! Because sometimes we prefer videos over words…

Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes 25 cookies.


.almond butter chocolate chip cookie ingredients


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease the baking sheet with a small pat of coconut oil.

2.  In a large bowl, stir together almond butter, coconut oil, and honey.  Beat in egg and vanilla.

wet ingredients w/ egg & vanilla

wet ingredients w/ egg & vanilla

3.  In a small bowl, combine almond meal and baking soda.  Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients and mix well.

dry ingredients mixed together

dry ingredients mixed together

mixing wet and dry together

mixing dry with wet ingredients

batter mixed

addictive cookie batter!

4.  Scoop the dough 1 tablespoon at a time and roll into balls.  Set the balls on the baking sheet and flatten them with a fork.  Bake for 10 minutes until the edges just start browning.  Becareful not to overbake or they will be dry.

rolled into balls, flatten with fork  on baking sheet

roll into balls, flatten with fork

cookies baked on cookie sheet

cookies baked on cookie sheet

cookies n coconut milk

cookies with ice-cold coconut milk (truly hits the spot!)

that's one large yummy bite

that’s one large yummy bite

What do you think? Comment below because I really want to hear from YOU about the foods I prepare & share, from my kitchen to yours.  


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If you are like me,  you drool over food pics. No shame tho right? K cool, follow me on Instagram

Slow Cooker Cream of Celery Soup

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I was just thinking about celery the other day (random, I know).  It hit me suddenly: celery doesn’t get the same recognition as most other vegetables.  Unlike kale, spinach, and beets, there’s really not many recipes where celery takes the lead role. Like a nerd in high school PE class, celery would almost never be the first, second or third option when vying for “main vegetable” role in a dish.  Instead, celery usually plays the extra — an ingredient in a recipe that you won’t feel too badly about omitting if you forget to pick it up from the store i.e tuna salad anyone?  With this recipe, celery finally gets the accolade it deserves.

Celery is fairly bland compared to most other pungent vegetables but it packs a powerful punch in terms of health benefits.  Celery supports the immune system, lowers blood pressure, regulates cholesterol, increases cancer prevention, vital detoxifier, anti-inflammatory, and perfect addition to any weight loss plan due to its low calories and high fiber content.  

I had the ingenious idea to incorporate celery as a main ingredient in a recipe because I went out and bought a large head of it.  Oddly, I only wanted to use it in a fruit/vegetable portrait to include in my food photo inventory — I had no intention of cooking it.  But as it sat in my refrigerator day after day patiently waiting for my nourishment, it gave me the clever idea of concocting a recipe for cream of celery soup. Afterall, any food with the word cream in it is worth trying.

Before today, I have never eaten cream of celery soup for similar macho reasons mentioned in the intro above.  After today, cream of celery soup will be included in the rotation of soups I love to eat.  Light, yet filling, with a slight touch of sweetness, the creamy delicate flavors come together perfectly for a comforting winter soup.  Celery has stolen the spotlight!

Slow Cooker Cream of Celery Soup

Serves 3-4.


  • 3 cups of chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cups bone broth or store-bought stock
  • 1 tablespoon ghee  (butter or coconut oil works too)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup canned coconut milk (full fat)



1.  Put all ingredients expect coconut milk in slow cooker.

2.  Cover and let cook on high for 3 hours (or on low for 5 hours).

3.  Let cool then add milk.

4.  Blend until smooth with hand blender, or in batches in a regular blender.

slow cooker cream of celery soup

P.S.  This was the first time I used the hand blender I got for Christmas.  If you don’t have a hand blender but love preparing pureed soups, you must get one asap.  Nothing fancy — a simple, reasonably priced hand blender will do the trick.

If you are like me,  you may be prone to drool over food pics. No shame tho right? K cool, follow me on Instagram

7 Healthy Easy Snack Ideas for On-The-Go

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Does hunger ever strike when you are away from home thus causing anxiety?  This may happen when you forget to pack a snack or two before heading out the door.  So here you are away from home, hungry, and without any healthy food in your possession.  Don’t let this happen to you.  Prepare each day by toting nutritious snacks on-the-go.  Below are 7 healthy easy snack ideas that will keep you sated while on-the-go without sabotaging your healthy eating resolve.

1.  Apples & Almond Butter

Apples pack a heavy punch with fiber, carbohydrates and phyto-nutrients (phyto- = plant sourced) necessary to regulate metabolism and keep hunger at bay.  Pair it with protein found in almond butter for a yummy mini-meal that will kill your hunger and energize your mind and body.

nuts n apples

2. Carrots, Cheese & Celery

Sometimes all you need is a low calorie crunchy snack to remove the grumbling in your stomach without filling you up.  Carrots, celery and cheese is the perfect snack in such instance.  The veggies provide filling fiber and crunch while the cheese is the perfect salty, calcium-rich, fatty side-kick.  Go for full-fat, organic when it comes to buying dairy for the most bang for your buck without the antibiotics and added chemicals detrimental to long-term health and wellness.

3. Canned Sardines & Olives

This is one of my favorites.  What better way to slash hunger while getting a natural source of omega-3 essential fatty acid found in sardines.  Omega-3 EFAs are vital for heart health, beautiful skin, fat loss, joint care, and a host of other things.  Make sure the sardines are packed in water or olive oil and stay clear away from damaged oils such as cottonseed, safflower and soybean.  Olives are packed with anti-inflammatory, heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.  Not to mention they are amazing for satisfying cravings for salty foods.  Sardines paired with olives are truly a fun, nutrient-packed snack.

4. Hard Boiled Egg

What can be easier than chomping on a boiled egg when hunger hits you at 3pm in the office?  Eggs are something like a super-food:  they are a source of protein and healthy saturated fat, and various micro-nutrients — all of which will keep you satisfied for hours on end.  Choose pastured varieties for higher levels of omega-3 fats, more nutrients and for better taste.  Can’t find pastured?  Then go for organic.

5. Berries & Greek Yogurt

Berries & yogurt offer a sweet and tangy option.  Berries are a good source of immune-boosting vitamin C and fiber.  Greek yogurt is tends to have double the protein content compared to non-Greek yogurt.  Go for darker colored berries such as blue- for higher phyto-nutrient content.  Plain greek yogurt, blueberries, sprinkle of cinnamon & nutmeg makes a sinfully delicious snack.  If you’re feeling a bit naughty, add a touch of raw honey.  Missing that crunch factor?  Then top with sliced almonds or pecans.

6.  Nuts & Seeds

Nuts & seeds offer a portable easy way to get your protein, healthy fats, and minerals.  In fact nuts & seeds contain a nearly complete array of vitamins and minerals. Almonds are chock-full of vitamin E; walnuts are touted for their omega-3 content; pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of zinc while macadamia nuts (my favorite) have a remarkable monounsaturated fat profile – the type of fat rich in Mediterranean Italy — studies show people from this region tend to live long, healthy lives due to the way they eat.

7.  Leftovers

And lastly, let’s not forget about leftovers! Make a few extra servings of dinner so that you can eat the leftovers as a snack then next day.  Anything goes: baked chicken, grilled steak, and roasted cauliflower can make tasty quick snacks when in need.  Leftovers can taste amazing even when cold, thus satisfying hunger in a delicious way.

I hope this curbs your need to  buying that bag of potato chips or candy bar in the vending machine because you were hungry and there was nothing healthy to eat; no more excuses. Stay prepared and you will be less likely to succumb to the madness I call “I’m-hungry- but-there-is-nothing-healthy-to-eat” blues. Be well my friends.

Got an easy healthy snack idea? Share it in the comments. 

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How to Order a Healthy and Delicious Restaurant Meal

restaurant dining

I remember years ago when I first started caring about the quality of my food and what I put into my mouth.  Back then I dreaded going to restaurants.  Eating out used to signify to me “get ready for peer pressure and judgment from friends and family when you choose to order that chicken breast salad.”  And so instead of going for the salad, I would choose the pool-sized plate of pasta topped with fried, battered, chicken with a cup of cream sauce drowning out the pasta just to fit in with everybody else.  Oh and then I’d indulge in whatever fruit-based dessert was on the menu.  Apple crisp a la mode?  Yep, I’ll take it.

After eating that meal, I’d literally feel horrible.  Stomach full beyond capacity, bloated and mind racing a million miles an hour with self-deprecating thoughts of how I was a fat-ass who had no willpower to eat the damn salad.    Then I’d have negative thoughts about my friends as if it were their faults that I chose the fat and sugar rich heart attack on a plate.

After about 24 hours after the calorie bomb meal, the depressing thoughts left my head and I’d vow to make the healthy choice next time.  This cycle went on before, during and a few years post-college until I finally made the choice to own up to my decisions because:

  • No one has the right to put food into my mouth.
  • Whatever I eat is my choice.
  • If the food I eat makes me feel crappy, then don’t eat it.

.Of course, these things are so much easier said than done.  It took me years to figure this out and put these ideas into action effortlessly. But, after the struggle I have now arrived!  These days when I go out to eat, there is no anxiety.  I eat what I want to eat which is usually some type of protein paired with vegetables.  If I am in the mood for dessert then I have it – usually split with friends.  No guilt.  After the meal, I am pleased and satisfied.  The next day, I go on about my business happy that I got to enjoy a social outing with friends.

Because I struggled with eating and weight for much of my childhood (I was born weighing a whopping 14 pounds) and through college, I have the personal experience to help my nutrition clients overcome their own unhealthy eating habits and self-defeating thoughts.  Sometimes they succeed.  Sometimes, the pressure is too much and they succumb.  I understand it all because it used to be me.  Now I am in a position to use my past to positively shape the present and future of people who desire to live a healthy lifestyle.  And my clients have seen success in the form of healthier eating habits, reduced prescription medication needs, fat loss, better sleep, more energy, and a positive outlook on life.   If you can identify with any of the above and have had enough with the failure and are ready to do better, eat better, and feel better then contact me today.  Let’s do it!

If you struggled with restaurant meals like I once did, the next time you are out eating with friends and family, the following tips can help you choose a healthy meal successfully in which satisfies your tastebuds.  These tips are what helped me to get to the happy, anxiety-free place where I can now enjoy restaurant outings without fear.

Know someone who can benefit from this article?  Please share using the social media icons below. Thank you in advance!

Tips on how to order a healthy and delicious restaurant meal that you’ll feel good about before, during and after your dining experience

1.       Find out what restaurant you will be dining at, then go to their website and look through the menu.  Choose 1 – 3 viable options so that you are confident on what to get when the waiter is staring at you to take your order.

2.      Make sure that meal is composed of a protein and green vegetable at the least.  Grilled, sautéed, baked, broiled, seared are all good choices to stick to when choosing your meal.  Stay away from fried, breaded, creamed options.

3.      Remove any guilt that you may be carrying with you from the last time you pigged out at a restaurant…even if it was just last week.  This is a new day, a new outing, a new chance for you to make the right decision.

4.      Focus on the conversation with your dining mates.  Do not allow the food to take the spotlight.  When I eat out with friends I am usually the slowest eater.  Not consciously but simply because I am chatting and enjoying the conversation more than the food on my plate.

5.      Say no to the free bread basket and keep on passing it on…away from you.  Save room for the main meal that you will (most likely) pay out of pocket for.  Notice how when at restaurants, cafes, office meetings, or Costco demo tables the free food is usually processed, sugar-filled carbohydrate-rich options you know you shouldn’t be having no way.  They do that on purpose: those foods are highly addictive and will leave you wanting more.  If it’s free and processed, just say no thank you.

6.      Drink water!  Add lemon to the water for a little flavor and to aid digestion.  Drink the water mostly before and after the meal.   Stay away from sugary drinks.  And if it’s an alcohol type of gathering, then stick to dry wines or vodka tonics or spirits on the rocks for minimal sugar intake. Limit your drinking to 1-2 servings.

7.      The next day, plan to workout at medium to high intensity to help sweat out the excess sodium restaurant meals have been known to contain. I love to sweat it out in yoga or bootcamp class.

8.      Be grateful.  Gratitude is everything.  Focus on the goodness of life and go forward empowered to be the best you today, tomorrow, and onward.

 Photo credit:  RF photos


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Fermented Foods Spotlight: Feel Good With Kefir + free kefir grains

The lack of fermented foods and probiotics in the diet can be a factor in a multitude of health ailments including digestive turmoil including bloating and gas, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, diarrhea, candida, vaginal infections, urinary tract infection, obesity and autoimmune disease.  The Standard American Diet (SAD) is very low in fermented “live” cultured foods.  Many Americans are suffering from preventable ailments and digestive upset, pain and inflammation that can all be helped by regularly eating fermented foods rich in probiotics — a good form of bacteria that has been known to aid with several health issues and provide benefits to the human body.  

dairy kefir grains

dairy kefir grains

Fermented foods include sauerkraut, Korean kimchi, yogurt, cottage cheese, whey, kefir, aged cheese, kombucha, pickled vegetables, natto, miso, tempeh, fermented yofu, and soy sauce. Fermented, “live” foods full of probiotics have been around since the beginning of humankind.  Our ancestors have traditionally reaped the benefits of fermented foods centuries upon centuries, unlike most people today whose diets lack in  good bacteria and are paying the price with poor digestive health.

kefir_jarMy client, “Tee” knows the importance of eating fermented foods and wanted to share with you this article about kefir — a fermented beverage made using milk and kefir grains.  Kefir is truly a superfood — rich in calcium and good bacteria which works to keep you regular and in tip-top digestive shape.

I personally enjoy making my own kefir using Organic Pastures Whole Raw Milk. If raw milk is not an option, use organic to avoid antibiotics, pesticides, and chemicals.  I generally enjoy kefir in my morning post-workout protein shakes — kefir is also tasty on its own — sour and tang similar to yogurt.

Take a read at Tee’s kefir article below for an educational dose of the topic including why homemade kefir is superior to store-bought.  If you are inspired to try your hand at making your own kefir, check out the attachment at the bottom of the article.  ANNNNDDDDD I have extra kefir grains to give to you free so that you can get you started (Bay Area residents only).  Just contact me if you are interested and are local.  


Feel Good with Kefir

Kefir is pronounced Ke-Feer’, means “feel good” in Turkish. It is a complete protein and is high in minerals and vitamins, especially the B vitamins. This rings true to my experience of drinking kefir. It makes me feel great!

Kefir is a cultured-milk beverage (think buttermilk with benefits) which originated in the Caucasus Mountains of Central Asia. The tribal folks of this region consume the nutritious beverage in large quantities and are known for living long, healthy lives.

Kefir has a creamy consistency, and a sour refreshing taste, with a subtle aroma of fresh yeast. Well cultured kefir also has the slightest hint of a naturally effervescent, zesty tang.

Homemade kefir contains up to 35 strains of good bacteria and yeast (as opposed to yogurt, which contains just a handful). Bottled kefir purchased at the store may contain up to 10 strains, but often includes unwanted additives such as sugar. Kefir, therefore, is best when it’s homemade.

Traditional, authentic kefir is prepared by culturing fresh milk with Kefir grains. Kefir grains are not cereal grains.  They are called grains because of their granular structure and appearance. Kefir grains are the natural-starter for a batch of kefir, just as yogurt starts fresh yogurt or sourdough starter is used to mix fresh sourdough.

kefir grainsA kefir grain is a mixture of protein, amino acids, fats and soluble-polysaccharides (complex carbohydrates). Kefiran, the viscous substance that encases the “grain” is a unique polysaccharide with many health-promoting virtues of its own.

Traditional kefir is easily prepared at home. Fresh, non-pasteurized or pasteurized full-cream, full fat, low fat or non-fat milk is put in a clean glass container with the addition of a smaller portion of kefir grains. The contents are left at room temperature for about 24 hours. The resulting cultured-milk is strained in order to separate the kefir grains from the liquid kefir. The grains are added to fresh milk to repeat the process for the next batch. This procedure can be performed on an indefinite basis. Live kefir grains last forever unlike the powdered kefir starter that can be purchased on-line or at health food stores and fails after several batches. If you tire of making kefir, the grains can be stored for months in the refrigerator in a container with fresh milk.

Kefir can be consumed fresh, refrigerated for later use, or further fermented at room temperature over a period of days. The fermenting process is helpful for individuals who want to reduce lactose in their kefir. Ripening also improves overall flavor, thickens the kefir and produces a zestier tangy beverage. I love it best when it’s cold and has been in the refrigerator for several days.  An added benefit to making kefir is the production of whey, a highly nutritious, protein-rich, muscle building food that has many uses.

Kefir grains increase in overall volume, numbers, and weight as the grains consume fresh milk. In order to prevent overcrowding of kefir grains and to maintain a good grain-to-milk ratio you need to remove a portion of kefir grains from the batch periodically. The extra grains are a welcome gift to family members, or friends who want to make their own delicious and nutritious kefir. 

Attachment:  How to make kefir (pdf)


Interested in making your own kefir?  Contact me to receive free kefir grains  (Due to the potential issues that may occur with mailing kefir grains, I am only able to extend this offer to local Bay Area residents.)  


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Superbowl Sunday Spinach Artichoke Dip

Superbowl Sunday is less than a week away. Although my team, the Raiders…my poor Raiders, aren’t representing this year I am juiced for the shenanigans that are likely to take place at the super bowl viewing party. You see, for the past five years or so I have watched the game at a friends gathering. There ends up being at last 15 ppl huddled around the big screen TV in the living room screaming, laughing and cursing at the screen as the two best football teams battle it out for the championship.

At these parties there is food and drinks galore. Chips. Dip. Pizza. Beer. Subs. Cookies. Soda. You name it, they have it.

There is no reason to miss out on the festivities even while eating clean. This spinach artichoke dip will be the highlight at your next superbowl party. Whip it up in record time and take it along with you to your superbowl viewing party.  Serve it up alongside raw carrots, celery, and plantain chips for a nice crunch effect.  And if the mood strikes you to drink (and it will), then make vodka soda with a squeeze of lime for prime indulgence for its ability to get you buzzed with just a minimal amount of calories and sugar.


Recipe credit: PaleOMG

Spinach Artichoke Dip

(serves 4-6)


    • 2 (14ounce) cans artichoke hearts, chopped (use 1/4 cup of liquid, discard the rest)
    • 16oz frozen spinach
    • 1 cup cashews,raw or dry roasted
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
    • 1 teaspoon onion powder
    • 1 teaspoon dried basil
    • 1 teaspoon sea salt
    • ½ teaspoon black pepper
    • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 2 ounces goat cheese


  1. Add frozen spinach and artichokes to large saucepan over medium heat and sprinkle with just a bit of salt.
  2. While your spinach thaws and artichokes warm up, pull out your handy dandy food processor.
  3. Place cashews in food processor and turn on. Grind until your cashews become a flour then begin to pour in your olive oil until you get a creamy consistency. Kind of like a super creamy cashew butter.
  4. Once your spinach is completely thawed and it’s all good and warm, drain the excess water from your saucepan and add spinach and artichoke to a large bowl.
  5. Add your creamy cashews, goat cheese and seasons to the bowl and mix thoroughly.
  6. Serve with , plantain chips, sweet potato chips and/or veggies!

spinach artichoke dip_3

Spinach Artichoke Dip with sweet potato chips

Spinach Artichoke Dip with sweet potato chips

13 More Convincing Reasons to Avoid Processed Foods

poptarts_processedfoodsarticleNot too long ago, I presented 16 Convincing Reasons to Avoid Processed Foods.  The response was well-received from readers.  Isn’t it shocking to learn the horrors of what goes on in processed food manufacturing?

So I decided to provide even more reasons to stop eating processed, chemical-laden foods.

Many packaged, processed foods contain more unpronounceable, bio-chemistry type ingredients rather than actual real foods.  Become an active participant in knowing what you are putting into your mouth simply by looking at the list of ingredients before you put the product into your shopping cart.

If the product contains chemicals and things unpronounceable, then don’t purchase it — do your health and the health of your loved ones a favor.  Also, if you see the words “high fructose corn syrup” or “hydrogenated oils” or “trans fats” or “soybean oil” or “corn oil”  then step far far away.  These ingredients are linked to heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and neuro-degenerative disease.

Below is a list of 13 more convincing reasons to avoid processed foods.  Replace processed foods with real, whole foods.  Quick tip: the lesser the number of ingredients in the product, the better.  Shop the perimeter when at the grocery store — or better yet, get to know your farmers by buying from the local Farmer’s Market.

1.  A University of Cincinnati study found that a diet high in fructose and trans fat doesn’t just lead to obesity — it also causes oxidative damage to the liver that decreases your body’s ability to eliminate toxins.

2. Only 1 percent of obesity is caused by genetics; the rest is caused by diet. 

3.  Cockroaches and flies that visit factory farms are becoming resistant to antibiotics, and researchers at North Carolina State University fear these bugs may spread this resistance into nearby towns.

4.  Today, more kids recognize McDonald’s Golden Arches than the Christian cross. 

5.  People who eat foods with artificial sweeteners often end up consuming more total calories per day.  It’s likely because these sweeteners are so much sweeter than sugar that they prime the brain’s desire for even more sweet foods.

6.  Residues of more than seventy pesticides have been found in individual boxes of cereal. 

7.  Like tobacco companies before them, processed-food manufacturers now offer “healthier” versions of products that are no better at preventing disease than the foods that preceded them.  In other words, low-tar cigarettes equal low-fat cookies. 

8.  Lay’s Light and Pringles Light potato chips contain olestra, a fat substitute that leaches fat-soluable nutrients like vitamin D from the body and causes diarrhea, bloating, and “anal leakage.”

9.  Soy protein, found abundantly in processed foods, has been linked to infertility in women. 

10.  One or more rodent hairs are allowed per hundred grams of peanut butter.

11.  Most processed foods contain at least one — if not several — soy-derived ingredient.  While considered to be healthy, consumption of soy products is associated with cognitive decline and brain atrophy.  

12.  Candy corn is actually made with corn — corn syrup.

13.  The hidden costs of the dollar menu at fast-food chains are steep.  The annual expense of medical care and missed work add up to $83 billion for depression, $183 billion for Alzheimer’s disease, $270 billion for obesity, and $174 billion for diabetes. 

Resource:  The Happiness Diet by Tyler Graham. 


Thanks for reading folks.  So what do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments.  

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Chika Obih is a certified holistic nutrition consultant; blogger; and founder of Chika Obih Wellness based in Oakland, CA and offers consulting services virtually, in-person or by phone. Chika is passionate about empowering people to take charge of their own health utilizing the power of wholesome, clean foods and fun holistic lifestyle solutions.  Contact Chika today to set up your free consultation.

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