Tips for the cold and flu season

Fighting A ColdIt’s definitely winter here is Oregon. It’s been wet and cold, and it’s certainly that time of year where I encourage you to protect yourself against colds and the flu. Having a cold puts your entire day under a blanket of misery. They’re a challenge to dodge but here are three points to remember:

  1. Wash your hands! It’s simple advice but key. And avoid putting your hands near your nose or mouth,
  2. Get enough sleep. Sleep plays an important role in our immune system. Getting good sleep, gives it a boost.
  3. Eat a nutrient-rich diet. It will provide your body with a spectrum of immunity-boosting phytochemicals

Sleeping zzzzzzz sIf you do get sick, and it happens to the best of us — me included ! —  remember the ideal thing is to stay home away from people and rest it out. I know this is hard for many of us – we either don’t have the sick time to use or we feel bad about using our sick time. Trust me, trying to return to a full schedule too soon will most likely set you back and prolong your symptoms. So, please get your rest.

Cup of Hot Water with lemon

Fluids are important in the healing process. If you lack fluids it can cause dehydration and discomfort. Drinking extra water and juices when you’re sick helps flush out the congestion in your system. Initially, this can sometimes cause you to feel worse because the mucus is increasing in volume; but then your body will start to rid itself and you will feel better.

Keep hydrated with water and soothing herbal teas. For a sore throat I like a simple cup of hot water with lemon, grated ginger, ½ tablespoon of honey with ⅛ teaspoon turmeric. Drink vitamin rich juices. Try carrot and papaya juice. Try mixing them together!

To be cost-effective and less processed, I like to make my own juices with my Vitamix. Just pick your favorite fruits and veggies, add some water and throw in some spinach or kale.


A few combinations I’ve tried and enjoyed:


  • ½ cup coconut water, ½ cup water, ¾  cup frozen blueberries, one clementine, and 5 frozen strawberries.
  • 1 cup coconut water with the juice of 1 lemon, ¼ cup pomegranate juice and 1 cup frozen strawberries.
  • 1 cup coconut water, one clementine, ½ apple, and 1 cup of mixed frozen pineapple, blueberries and strawberries.

So go ahead, drink up.


When it comes to your diet, continue eating a nutritious, colorful diet to activate and support and boost the body’s immune defenses.

IMG_1883I encourage eating delicious soups that contain mushrooms, onions, and garlic along with vegetables from the cruciferous family like kale, collards, broccoli, broccoli rabe, cabbage, and cauliflower. Try some miso soup which helps to boost the antibodies and help bacteria die. And hey, soups will be another great way to boost your fluid intake.


I already mentioned adding berries to your juices/smoothies. Frozen or fresh they are a powerhouse food packed with vitamins and antioxidants, called flavonoids that support the function of the body and help protect the body’s immune cells. Add them to your morning cereal. Mix them with other fruits, nuts and seeds and enjoy a bowl with some hot tea for breakfast. Add them to a serving of non-dairy yogurt.

Keys to remember: Rest, take in fluids, and eat nutritiously.

Take care of yourself this cold and flu season. It will be spring  before we know it!

Cheers, Karen

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Kick-Start Your Day With Some Crunchy Granola Cereal


If you’re looking for a yummy granola to kick-start your day — a granola without refined sugar and a lot of unhealthy fats or added ingredients that you can’t pronounce, then you’ll love the chewy texture and nutty flavor of this crunchy cereal that’s terrifically satisfying.

I love my morning oatmeal but it’s nice to switch it up once in a while and still walk away feeling satisfied.

In this recipe I’ve put together a tasty combination of flavors. I used: Buckwheat Groats which are the fruit seeds of the buckwheat plant that have a mild flavor, but when toasted or roasted, have a crunchy, delightfully intense flavor; Oat Groats which are the “whole oat” — the hulled grain, which still includes the germ, bran, and endosperm which are all excellent nutrition for you. And then some Rolled Oats which are actually oat groats that have been flattened out, lightly toasted and then removed from their outer shell. Along with the nuts and seeds the texture combination and nutritional benefits can’t be beat. I think this granola is exceptionally delicious! I’ve shared it with friends and family who say it tastes great, and I think you’ll enjoy it too.

Prep time:  10 minutes       Cook time:  40 minutes      Total time  50 min

Makes: 9 cups


  • oat groats, whole/uncooked/raw, rinsed and drained; 2 cups
  • buckwheat groats, uncooked/raw ; 1½  cup
  • old-fashioned – thick rolled oats; 1 cup
  • almonds, slivered; ½ cup
  • chia seeds; ¼ cup
  • hemp seeds; ¼ cup
  • sunflower seeds; ¼ cup
  • ground cinnamon; 3 teaspoons
  • fine grain sea salt, ¼ teaspoon or to taste
  • coconut oil, melted; 2 tablespoons
  • pure maple syrup; ¼ cup
  • pure vanilla extract; 2 teaspoons
  • almond butter, creamy, unsalted (or your favorite seed or nut butter); ¾ cup
  • raisins, chopped; 1 cup


Preheat oven to 300 degrees

In a large bowl, stir together the oat groats, buckwheat groats, rolled oats, almonds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, cinnamon, and salt. Melt the coconut oil. Add the maple syrup and vanilla to the oil and stir into the grain mixture and toss to evenly coat. Set the bowl aside to use later.


Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the grain mixture evenly across the pan. Bake for 40 minutes. Every 10 minutes use a spatula to stir the mixture and return to oven to continue baking. Watch for the granola to turn a golden brown. Also go by scent. You are looking for a warm, toasted smell. Don’t go by texture because the granola will not be crisp and crunchy until it has completely cooled. If you go by texture you’ll end up with burnt granola. Be careful.


At the end of toasting, add nut butter and raisins to the large bowl. Remove pan from oven, transfer the hot mixture of grains to the bowl and mix with nut butter and raisins. Let the mixture cool completely.

Store granola in an airtight glass container in the refrigerator or freezer to maintain its crunchiness. It can last for several weeks … but it’s so good, it won’t be long before you’re at the bottom of the jar!


Ways to serve your groat granola cereal (try to say that fast three times!):


  • Nice and simple:  serve 1/2 cup granola with some soy or almond milk.
  • Overnight soak: take ½ cup cereal, add ½ cup soy or almond milk and let sit overnight for at least 8 hours. Warm in the microwave then add a banana or one cup of berries, or a chopped apple.
  • Use as a crunchy topping: sprinkle a couple of tablespoons on your serving of regular or steel-cut oatmeal on a serving of non-dairy yogurt or on top of a thick smoothie.
  • On-the go: pack it for a breakfast on-the-go, an afternoon snack or simply enjoy a handful right out of the jar!

Please let me know how you like it and what variations you might try.

IMG_1873Cheers, Karen

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Get Active and Stop With The Exercise Excuses

Get Active.Stick Figure.Jan 2015 Post

Now that I’m getting the food right, with a whole-food plant-based nutritarian diet (I’ve kept my weight stable since 2012), in pursuit of a Happy Healthy 2015, my next goal is to stop with the exercise excuses.

I love to walk, but living in Oregon often times the weather is not conducive – it’s either raining or too cold which deters me from getting out. Or sometimes my walking partner isn’t able to meet; and because I don’t like walking alone, I find another day goes by without me being active.

After visiting my 90-year-old mother this past week, I decided to get honest with myself. If I’m going to get fit, I’ve got to stop with excuses! I’ve let my core-muscles get weak, my muscles, flexibility and my strength is, well, pathetic. I read that a person can have 100 percent strength gains within a few months, but by not doing strength training every week, you start to lose some muscle mass and strength by up to 50 percent in just three months!


I know that in order to be living a fully healthy lifestyle – I’ve got to have an activity plan. So no more: “I’ve got no time” or “it’s not convenient.”

This morning I dug out and dusted off my favorite workout DVD – a twenty-minute workout that moves from a beginning (that’s where I started today!) to intermediate to advanced level. It doesn’t require weights or equipment, each strength exercise is followed by a stretch to loosen up the same muscle group to get me limber — WOW do I need that! But I felt great when I was done.

One of my friends told me about a local yoga class she’s attended. I’m calling her today and see if I can start this week.

I also found this great “Wake Up and Make it Happen Workout Chart – 5 simple but effective exercises that I’ve printed out and posted on the refrigerator! Rain or shine I can do this!

Wake Up and Make It Happen.5 quick exercises - CHART

Like I said above, no more: “I’ve got no time” or “it’s not convenient.”

Cheers, Karen


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You can have a Healthy, Happy New Year!

Happy New Year - 2015

Today turns a new page in your journey toward a healthier you. It takes time, it takes commitment and it takes practice. But building a healthier you will happen by taking one step at a time. Just like when you learned to ride a bike, or sew an apron, or when you learn a new game or a new song for an audition! When you make the commitment, and practice every day, you will get stronger and you will see the results; and yes, it will get easier and more enjoyable.

I know you many of you made huge gains in 2014! I am so proud of you! So be sure to take the time to acknowledge all of your wonderful accomplishments.

Maybe you’ve started having a healthy breakfast like a green smoothie or a bowl of oatmeal with fruit instead of a cup of coffee and a piece of toast. So now start investigating new sources of protein for lunch or dinner like switching out the protein in meat, that contains saturated fat and cholesterol, with the protein in beans, that contains fiber and phytochemicals.

Maybe you’ve started having a large salad every day as a main meal. So now start investigating all the wonderful cooked, leafy greens out there you can add to your meals like kale, chard, bok choy and broccoli rabe. I love finding something new to try from the local farmer market.

Maybe you’ve been eating less processed foods. So now start replacing sugary foods in your diet with fresh fruits. There’s nothing like finding a fun, new fruit.

Maybe you’ve started walking 30 minutes three or four or days a week. So now start investigating a stretching or yoga class that will help with your flexibility, strength and posture. I’m joining a yoga class!

Maybe you’ve started reading up on nutrition. I’ve discovered that knowledge, not my willpower, helps me make the best food and lifestyle choices.

Of course, all of this doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time for things to become an automatic part of your daily routine. Soon you’ll prefer making more good choices. Walking to work instead of driving the car. When running errands, parking farther and farther away from the store. Reaching for foods that promote superior health instead of food that satisfies a toxic hunger. It will soon take less effort, and it will soon become automatic.

2015 is in our hands to be a great year for taking the next step toward a healthier you!

Cheers, Karen

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Happy Holidays


2014 Christmas Message. Happy HolidaysThank you for helping make 2014 such a special year at Karen’s Healthy Kitchen.

Wishing you and your family peace, joy, and extraordinary success as you continue your journey to a healthier more vibrant you 2015.

Cheers, Karen

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Sugarless Hot Cocoa

IMG_1809It’s almost Christmas, and I’ve taken some days off to get ready for the kids who will be here on Christmas Eve! Can’t wait to be together for this special holiday.

It’s not stopped raining here in Cottage Grove, Oregon for days! It’s the kind of weather where I like to curl up under a warm blanket with either a good book or a good movie and a steaming cup of cocoa. It doesn’t have to be fancy with a lot of whipped cream, but I like it frothy which I can accomplish with my high-powered Vitamix blender!

The recipe I like tastes indulgent, but it ranks pretty healthy because I use unsweetened organic cocoa powder and no sugar! I recently read an article that discussed whether natural sweeteners like “honey,” “agave,” and “pure maple syrup” are healthful alternatives to sugar. The article reminded me how our bodies react to added sugars that come in many forms other than table sugar or high fructose corn syrup!

For quite sometime, I’d already given up traditional processed table sugar, honey and even agave BUT more recently I’d started using more pure maple syrup in some of my recipes because it is convenient to use, and I honestly thought it was a healthy alternative.

However, pure maple syrup still adds extra calories, is low-nutrient; and as I discovered, it was affecting my arthritis inflammation! The past few months I couldn’t figure out why my joints were starting to feel achy again. I’ve been feeling joint inflammation pain in my low-back, hips and ankles. I’ve been experiencing a lot of stiffness. The nagging pain plus stiffness was leading me to feel tired, irritable, and depressed! The article explained that just like pure sugar, sweeteners like coconut sugar, honey, agave, and maple syrup — which are marketed as “natural” and “healthier alternatives” to processed sugar —  still elevate blood glucose (sucrose), that can lead to disease-causing effects in the body! Maple syrup contains about 90% sucrose, so it is very similar to regular white sugar! And here I thought I was making a healthier sweetener choice!

I’m so glad I listened to my body! I’m back on track and using true natural sweeteners: whole fruits (bananas, berries, applesauce, and dates) which contain fiber to regulate the entry of glucose into the bloodstream and fructose to the liver. If I use something else, it’s only a small amount to a large batch that contains a very high fiber ingredient. But through experimentation, I’ve come to realize I can switch it out with homemade date syrup and obtain the same end result.

So back to that cup of hot cocoa! It’s simple, vegan, sugarless, and wholesome (only about 200 calories depending on what type of milk you use) for a BIG frothy cup of joy!

IMG_1811Prep Time ~ 2 minutes

Cook Time ~ 2 to 3 minutes

Serves ~ 1


  • organic cocoa powder; 2 teaspoons
  • organic, non-gmo soy or almond milk of choice;  1¼  cup
  • organic Medjool dates; 2, pitted (softened in warm water)
  • organic pure vanilla extract; ½ teaspoon
  • cinnamon; sprinkle


Put all ingredients in a high-powered blender (like a Vitamix) and blend on high for 1 to 2 minutes. Pour into sauce pan. Place on stove, and while stirring, heat slowly on low for another minute or so.

IMG_1819Variations:  Add ¼ teaspoon mint for that “holiday peppermint” flavor. When serving to guests at a holiday party, a “small peppermint stick” or “cinnamon stick” adds a festive look (and does not have to be eaten). On occasion, for a bit of kick,  I’ve added a “very small pinch” of cayenne pepper to the basic recipe.

Cheers, Karen

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A Delicious Dozen – Only $10 – Pre-order Your Copy Today!‏

A few years ago, I began exploring a spectacular, long-lasting, healthy makeover! I began ridding my diet of sugar, processed junk foods, meat, dairy, eggs and fully embracing simple, delicious nutrient-rich plant-strong foods. It became a passion to learn about nutrition, how to cook, eat and live in a way that’s truly healthy. It was about getting strong, getting fit, and getting inspired.

Along this journey, many people asked me if I’d ever thought about creating a cookbook. But that kind of project seemed too overwhelming since I work full-time; 8 to 5 – five days per week, I enjoy another passion: acting on stage, and, of course, I love sharing nutrition information on my website and my FB page! But, yes, deep down for quite sometime I’ve thought about creating a recipe book.

So, I’m pretty excited to announce that I’ve put together “my delicious dozen.” Twelve of my favorite “go-to” recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert! This “table-top, flip-deck” style is the perfect size to sit on your kitchen counter. The easy recipes are tasty, easy, low-fat, low-sodium, and plant-strong. They call for healthy fats like avocados and are naturally sweetened with the taste of berries and other fresh fruit and seasoned with savory herbs and spices.

These recipes helped me lose weight and help me maintain my weight. They’re simple recipes that will introduce you to a plant-strong way of eating. I chose them to get you started and get you inspired!

A Delicious Dozen is only $10 a copy (plus shipping, if needed). You can pre-order your copy today by contacting me by email at:

Cheers,  Karen


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In only two words …

I sometimes wonder what I would be doing or where I would be today, if I only knew … when I was younger … what I know now. I wonder what I would tell myself.

So, as we reflect upon 2014, my challenge to you:

Write a note to yourself ...

Mine:  Love yourself.

Please share yours in a comment.

Cheers, Karen




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Be Prepared For Holiday Gatherings

Thanksgiving 2014

It was wonderful having the family home for the Thanksgiving holiday. We planned our meals for the entire weekend around some absolutely delicious plant-based recipes. And I can assure you that no one went hungry in this house!


Thanksgiving morning, we started off the day with a beautiful fruit pizza which was absolutely delicious, and almost too pretty to eat. Well, almost!


For our holiday meal, each family member prepared something to contribute to the feast which included: stuffed Delicata squash, mashed potatoes with cashew gravy, a lovely kale salad that overflowed with cucumbers, sweet red, yellow, orange and green peppers, cherry tomatoes, sweet onions, and shredded carrots. There were stuffed spinach and avocado portobello mushrooms, baked sweet potatoes, multi-grain rolls . . . thin slices of Tofurky loaf with homemade cranberry sauce! A relish dish with stuffed olives, bread and butter pickles, and three-bean salad. And the desserts! Pumpkin and Apple Pie, Fudge Brownies, Molasses and Ginger Cookies and even some creamy frozen banana Coconut Nice Cream.


When healthy food tastes as good as it did last week, I see why it’s so easy for the family to keep to a plant-based program. This is the third plant-strong Thanksgiving we’ve had, and I see why we have no problem staying focused. It’s easy to continue healthy eating and feeling our best when the food looks this good and tastes this great.

During this holiday season I say focus on the veggies and treat yourself to some healthy desserts.  When you attend parties at work, or with family or friends, bring something from home that you have prepared so there will always be something healthy for you to eat even when everything else might be junk food.

For instance, next week I’m attending a fun get together; and I offered to bring a broccoli and potato soup and cornbread muffins (I’ll also bring some Earth Balance buttery spread). Do you have a favorite vegetable seasonal dish that you could bring to your next holiday gathering? Please do share!!

Cheers, Karen

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TURKEY VEGGIE PLATTERThe countdown is coming. Only two more days!

Have fun with family and friends.

Cheers, Karen

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