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Happy New Year!

How are YOU treating you in 2011?
Are you ready to make make this your best year yet? Is there actually anything more important than your health and happiness?

Everybody needs a little support and guidance along the way - there is nothing like a coach to help you develop and maintain valuable and sustainable eating and lifestyle habits that will serve you, your family, friends and community for a healthier, happier. more successful lifetime.

Check out my winter specials and let's get started!

Kitchen Cleanse
$95: 75 Minutes in person*
$75: 75 minutes on phone/Skype with a list provided by you in advance
Together we'll take a look through your refrigerator, freezer and pantry to see what stocks your shelves and feeds your family. We'll discuss your choices and challenges, and I'll share some recommendations that fit your day-to-day lifestyle to support you in fueling yourself and your family with healthy options.
Contact me to coordinate a date and time. (*within 45-mile travel from Boston)

House Party: Healthy Start Seminar & JOOS tasting - FREE!
I'll come to you!* Gather a group of friends, family, colleagues and I'll join you for a one-hour group seminar sharing tips on kicking off the new year in good health to flourish in 2011! To fuel the conversation, we'll have a sampling of energy-packed, fresh, organic juice from JOOS.
Contact me to coordinate a date and time. (*within 45-mile travel from Boston)

3-month Health Coaching Package
Winter Special Pricing: $275 individual; $190pp for groups of 2-5
Kick-start your year and get focused and dedicated support and guidance to achieve your health and wellness goals. Let me help you feel better, reach your ideal weight, find the lost energy, reduce your stress, and find joy in every day. You can do this and I will show you how.

Package includes:
  • Two, one-hour sessions per month
  • E-mail support between sessions
  • Handouts and other materials in support of your goals
  • Food samples and self-care products
  • Access to a lending library of health and wellness books
Sessions can be via phone, or in person at a convenient location.
Contact me to discuss your goals and schedule your 3-month package.

As for me, I've become even more obsessed with scanning ingredient labels on packaged foods. As obsessions go, I'd say this is a pretty good one. I just want to know what we are all feeding ourselves. Particularly because it is actually becoming more clear to me that it is necessary to check the actual ingredients list in order to know what you are eating when it comes to packaged goods - the product name, packaging and claims on so many food items can be quite misleading. The topic I'm tackling this month is the ingredient "Natural Flavor." I've been perplexed as to why such an ingredient exists and appears in SO many items. Read on in "What The...?" to learn more.
Nourish also now has a Facebook page! Check it out here: Find us on Facebook

Live abundantly!
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Marissa Dana

In This Issue
Simply Inspired
Tempting Tidbits
What The...?
Simply Inspired

"You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection."


 I read this quote this morning on a guest blog post about self-confidence on the blog Guiltless.

You - yes YOU! - are an amazing and special person with so much to offer the people in your life and this world.

It starts with you. You need to be your biggest supporter and your biggest fan and to believe in your capacity to do what it takes to be the best you possible.

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Tempting Tidbits

tri-color latkesTri-Color Latkes

>2 medium beets, peeled

>3 medium carrots, peeled

>1 potato, peeled

>1 medium onion

>2 eggs

>salt & pepper

>sesame oil


Shred beets, carrots and potato and dice onion OR pulse all items in a food processor (do them separately so the colors don't all blend together). You're ultimately looking for about a cup each of the beet, carrot and potato and about 3/4 cup of onion. Combine in a bowl with 2 eggs to bind. Season with salt and pepper. Heat sesame oil in a skillet and drop heaping tablespoonfuls of the mixture into the heated oil, patting down into patties. Cook until edges start to crisp and flip cooking until golden brown. Remove to a plate. You can use other oils for cooking here, but I loved the flavor the sesame oil gave the latkes. I topped these with some tzatziki (garlic, cucumber yogurt dip) and served on a bed of baby spinach. Warm, crisp, hearty and healthy! Makes about 12-15 latkes. 

Some of my recipes tend to be less concrete in terms of measurements...I try to be as specific as I can, but cook a bit in the less rigid style of..."a little of this, a little of that..." If you have any questions about recipes - or modifications to share - I'd love to hear from you - so send me an email

What The...?

How Natural is "Natural Flavor"?

How often do you look at the nutritional labeling of the products you purchase? Do you read the ingredient list? This is a great practice to get into - it is actually more telling than the calorie and fat content information. In my constant scanning of ingredient labels of both products deemed healthy and, those, that, well, are not actual food when you get right down to it, I consistently see the ingredient "natural flavor". What the heck is that? Why is there a need for such an ingredient called "natural flavor"?

I started with the good old dictionary to get my facts straight on the term itself. Merriam-Webster defines flavor as "the quality of something that affects the sense of taste",  "the blend of taste and smell sensations evoked by a substance in the mouth." And the word "natural"? Amongst the definitions you'll find, "being in accordance with or determined by nature," "growing without human care; not cultivated," "existing in or produced by nature," "not artificial," and "relating to or being natural food."
OK, so this "natural flavor" must be connected to nature somehow! Right?!

According to the US Code of Federal Regulations "natural flavor" or "natural flavoring" is defined as follows:

"The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional."

This definition includes quite a bit. Unless you were to call a company to ask about the source ingredients and methods required to achieve the "natural flavor," there is no way for you to know exactly what you are consuming.
While natural flavor is, in fact, derived from a natural consumable product, it turns out that "natural flavor" is made in a lab and is highly processed to extract the flavor from the food and reproduce it in massive volume. All of those words in the Federal Regulation definition are talking about processes that decompose, extract, and take apart the original ingredient. There is a whole industry of flavor suppliers - it is a multi-billion dollar industry - developing natural and artificial flavors and fragrances. The difference between "natural" and "artificial" flavors is actually not as great as you might expect. The distinction is based more on how the flavor has been made than on what it actually contains. Natural and artificial flavors sometimes contain exactly the same chemicals, produced through different processes.
Back to Nature granola
This Back to Nature granola has lots of sugar in it, and natural flavor as the next to last ingredient. You'll often find natural flavor towards the end of the ingredient list because it is so concentrated it requires very small quantities.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn't require flavor companies to disclose ingredients, as long as all the chemicals are GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe). Not disclosing ingredients allows the companies to keep their formulas proprietary - and hides the fact that flavor compounds sometimes contain more ingredients than the foods themselves.

We've been led to believe that descriptions like "natural" implies something is good for you. The fact is that the ingredients "natural flavors" are highly processed, and by definition, have no nutritional value. They are flavor enhancers created to maintain the flavor of a product that in itself cannot maintain its truly natural pleasing and robust flavor due to processing and preservation to extend its shelf life.

What to do?

Though I will undoubtedly continue to consume products with "natural flavor" amongst the ingredient list,
it is good to know more about it, and to be mindful about what we are putting in our bodies. What are some things you can do to decrease your consumption of these flavorings?
  • mary's gone crackers
    Mary's Gone Crackers Original - a really tasty gluten-free, organic cracker with ingredients I recognize.
    Choose more organic whole foods: seasonal fruits and veggies, grass-fed meats, wild fish, etc.
  • Make your own sauces and dressings from scratch
  • Avoid "diet," low-fat and fat-free foods
  • Read ingredient labels: fewer ingredients are better, and make sure you know what all the ingredients are (a good rule of thumb is to avoid ingredients that are numbers and that are words you don't recognize and can't pronounce)
  • Eliminate soda 

Interesting Note: The flavor enhancer Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) must be labeled as such. Likewise, with salt, which is also a flavor enhancer. MSG is a major player in the flavoring industry and contains the amino acids glutamate. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. These particular amino acids are also known as excitotoxins. Studies show they have the ability to over-stimulate certain cells and in large amounts can cause cell death, particularly in the brain. The Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act say it's illegal to label a product "No MSG" if it contains any hydrolyzed (processed) protein. Highly processed proteins contain free glutamate; in other words, they contain MSG. (FYI the term "protein hydrolysate" from the Federal Regulation definition of "natural flavor" and "natural flavoring" is defined as: A sterile solution of amino acids and peptides prepared from a protein by acid or enzymatic hydrolysis.)

Want some help navigating the supermarket for real foods that suit your needs? Curious about what foods you may be sensitive to? Ready to reboot, renew, and rejuvenate? Give me a shout to set up your complimentary nutritional power session, or to schedule your Kitchen Cleanse, House Party, 3-month Health Coaching Package, or other customized health and wellness program!