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By Daniel Plan Signature Chef, Sally Cameron

These Asian lettuce wraps (or lettuce cups) feature ground turkey with ginger and garlic for appetizing game-day eats or an easy weeknight dinner that is serve-yourself. Chopped snow peas and carrots add vegetables, crunch and color. Spoon filling into crisp Romaine leaves and enjoy with a spoonful of sauce drizzled over the top. Note – do not add salt to this dish as tamari, even low sodium, is salty enough.

Serving 4 as a main course




  • 1/3 cup low-sodium tamari (wheat-free soy sauce)
  • 1-2 teaspoons ginger puree (from a jar, or fresh finely grated or chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons Mirin
  • 1 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 tablespoon mild honey
  • pinch of red pepper flakes 

Turkey Filling

  • 4 ounces snow peas (1 huge handful)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped or grated carrot
  •  1 1/2 tablespoons organic ginger puree (from a jar, or fresh finely grated or chopped)
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 1/4 pounds lean ground turkey (10%-15% fat)
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium tamari (wheat-free soy sauce)
  • 1/4 teaspoon found black pepper
  • 1-2 pinches crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onion
  • 1 package Romaine hearts (usually 3 heads), trimmed to about 6?-7?
  • Black and white sesame seeds for garnish (optional)


  • Whisk together sauce ingredients and reserve for serving.
  • Remove strings from snow peas by grasping the top and pulling string down the side. Leave snow
  • peas whole. Thinly slice crosswise.

Heat coconut oil in a large fry or sauté pan over medium heat. Add onion, snow peas and carrots the pan and cook, stirring, until vegetables are soft. Add the ginger and garlic and cook 1 minute.

  • Add ground turkey to the pan and cook until no longer pink, breaking it up with a wooden spatula or spoon.

Add tamari, black and red pepper, and green onion. Stir together and serve in trimmed Romaine leaves. Drizzle with a  little of the sauce and sprinkle with sesame seeds (optional).


For more healthy & delicious recipes, check out Sally's blog A Food Centric Life

Sally Cameron is a professional chef, author, recipe developer, educator, certified health coach and one of the contributors to The Daniel Plan Cookbook. Sally’s passion is to inspire people to create great tasting meals at home using healthy ingredients and easy techniques. Sally is the publisher of the popular food blog, A Food Centric Life. Sally works with clients, including professional athletes and public figures, to help them achieve their individual health goals through optimum food choices and culinary and nutritional coaching. She holds a culinary degree from The Art Institute and health coaching certification from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition.

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By Mark Hyman, MD

How much you eat matters, but the quality of the food we put into our bodies matters more because it drives our gene function, metabolism, and health.


Rather than subscribing to the antiquated calories in/calories out model for weight loss and good health, focus on powerful, gene-altering, whole, real, fresh food that you cook yourself can rapidly change your biology. You will lose weight by getting your systems in balance, not by starving yourself. 


Studies Show Quality Matters More


Let me share a remarkable study1 that shows how quickly and powerfully the quality of the food you eat affects your genes, independent of calories, carbs, protein, fat, or fiber.


This study divided people with pre-diabetes into two groups. Each group consumed the same amount of calories, with equivalent amounts of protein, fat, carbohydrates, and fiber, for 12 weeks.


The only difference was one group ate whole-kernel rye bread and rye pasta; whereas, the other group ate oats, wheat, and potatoes as its carbohydrate source.


After 12 weeks, the researchers performed a subcutaneous fat biopsy, looked at gene expression, and gave participants a glucose challenge to assess how their blood sugar and insulin were affected by these dietary changes.


Remarkably, people in the group that ate rye had smarter, smaller fat cells and were more insulin-sensitive. Information contained in the rye – a phytonutrient called lignans – switched on diabesity-reversing genes. These genes were switched on regardless of calories or grams of carbs eaten.


Equally amazing, dozens of genes that had made participants fat and diabetic were turned off, and dozens of genes that would help them become healthy and thin were turned on.


On the other hand, 62 genes that promote diabesity were turned on in the group that ate oats, wheat, and potatoes. That led to increased stress molecules, increased inflammation, and increased oxidative stress or free radicals.


Put another way, it didn’t matter how many calories or grams of carbs these groups ate; it was the kind of carbs that was important.


This study, among many similar ones, proves food is not just calories. Food is information. If you want to turn off the genes that lead to diabesity and turn on the genes that lead to health, focus on the quality and type of food you eat, not necessarily the number of calories you consume or the ratio of protein to fat to carbohydrate in your diet. 


Broccoli vs. Soda


To provide a practical illustration that disproves the calorie-is-a-calorie myth, let’s look at the hormone effects of 750 calories of soda versus 750 calories of broccoli.


We all intuitively know that equal caloric amounts of soda and broccoli can’t be the same nutritionally. In fact, the food interacts with your biology, a complex adaptive system that instantly transforms every bite.


First, let’s look at soda. A 7-Eleven’s Double Gulp has 750 calories, which is 100 percent sugar with 186 grams, or 46 teaspoons, of sugar.


Your gut quickly absorbs the fiber-free sugars in the soda as fructose and glucose. The glucose spikes your blood sugar, starting a domino effect of high insulin and a cascade of hormonal responses that kicks bad biochemistry into gear.


The high insulin increases storage of belly fat, increases inflammation, raises triglycerides and lowers HDL, and raises blood pressure.


In men, high insulin lowers testosterone. In women, high insulin and lack of fiber causes an oversupply of estrogens—often called estrogen dominance, which refers to abnormal recycling of estrogens in the body—and contributes to infertility and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).Now we have high insulin and sex hormone imbalances.


Insulin’s effect on your brain chemistry increases your appetite. Insulin blocks leptin, your appetite-control hormone. You become more leptin resistant, so the brain never gets the “I’m full” signal. Instead, it thinks you are starving. Your pleasure-based reward center is triggered, driving you to consume more sugar and fueling your addiction.


Fructose makes things worse. It goes right to your liver, where it starts manufacturing fat, which triggers more insulin resistance and causes chronically elevated blood insulin levels, driving your body to store everything you eat as dangerous belly fat. You also get a fatty liver, which generates more inflammation. Chronic inflammation causes more weight gain and diabesity.


Stress worsens insulin’s vicious cycle. When you perceive a lot of stress in your life, you produce excess cortisol, which then makes you crave more sugar. Excess cortisol can slow down thyroid hormone function.


Additionally, soda contains no fiber, vitamins, minerals, or phytonutrients to help you process the calories you are consuming. These are “empty” calories devoid of any nutritional value.  Your body doesn’t register soda as food, so you eat more all day long. Plus, your taste buds get hijacked, so anything that is not super-sweet doesn’t taste very good to you.


Now let’s look at the 750 calories of broccoli. As with soda, these calories are made up primarily (although not entirely) of carbs. Let’s clarify just what that means, because the varying characteristics of carbs will factor significantly into the contrast I’m about to illustrate.


Carbs are plant-based compounds comprised of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. They come in many varieties, but they are all technically sugars or starches, which convert to sugar in the body.


The important difference is in how they affect your blood sugar. High-fiber, low-sugar carbs such as broccoli are slowly digested and don’t lead to blood sugar and insulin spikes, while table sugar and bread are quickly digested carbs that spike your blood sugar.

Therein lies the difference. Slow carbs like broccoli heal rather than harm.


Those 750 calories of broccoli make up 21 cups and contain 67 grams of fiber. The average American consumes only 10 to 15 grams of fiber a day. Remember that fiber helps you get rid of bad estrogens. Broccoli is 23 percent protein, 9 percent fat, and 68 percent carbs (or 510 calories from carbs). The “sugar” in 21 cups of broccoli is the equivalent of only 1.5 teaspoons; the rest of the carbs are the low-glycemic type found in all non-starchy vegetables, which are very slowly absorbed.


However, you wouldn’t be able to eat 21 cups of broccoli, because it wouldn’t fit in your stomach. Assuming you could, what would happen? A serving that large would contain so much fiber that very few of the calories would actually get absorbed. Those that did would get absorbed very slowly.


There’d be no blood sugar or insulin spike, no fatty liver, and no hormonal chaos. Your stomach would distend (which it doesn’t with soda; bloat from carbonation doesn’t count!), sending signals to your brain that you were full. There would be no triggering of the addiction reward center in the brain.


You’d also get many extra benefits that optimize metabolism, lower cholesterol, reduce inflammation, and boost detoxification. The phytonutrients in broccoli (glucosinolates) boost your liver’s ability to detoxify environmental chemicals, and the flavonoid kaempferol is a powerful anti-inflammatory.


Broccoli also contains high levels of vitamin C and folate, which protect against cancer and heart disease. The glucosinolates and sulphorophanes in broccoli change the expression of your genes to help balance your sex hormones, reducing breast and other cancers.


My point is, all calories are NOT created equal. The same number of calories from different types of food can have very different biological effects. 


10 Strategies to Focus on Quality, not Quantity:


The most important thing you can do to heal your body is focus on food quality. Americans spend less than 10 percent of their income on food, while Europeans spend about 20 percent.

Quality matters. It is more important than quantity when it comes to calories. If you focus on quality, not quantity, you will feel satisfied while naturally avoiding cravings and attraction to food that won’t nourish you. Here are 10 ways to do that:


  1. Avoid highly processed, factory-manufactured Frankenfoods. Choose fresh vegetables, fruit, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, and lean animal protein such as fish, chicken, and eggs.
  2. Clean up your diet. Look for animal products that are pasture-raised, grass-fed, and antibiotic-, hormone-, and pesticide-free. Go on a low-mercury diet by sticking with small, wild, or sustainably farmed fish.
  3. Go organic. Pesticides and chemical fertilizers poison your metabolism, your thyroid, your sex hormones, and our planet. Buy as much organic food as your budget allows. Refer to the Dirty Dozen list for top offenders and the Clean 15 at ewg.org.
  4. Stay local. Seasonal, local foods you find at farmers’ markets or community-supported agriculture projects (CSAs) are healthier, taste better, are typically sustainably grown, and help you recognize the intimate relationship between the ecosystem of your body and the broader ecosystem in which we all live.
  5. Eat a low-glycemic load. Focus on more protein and fats, including nuts (not peanuts), seeds (flax, chia, hemp, sesame, pumpkin), coconut, avocados, sardines, and olive oil.
  6. Eat the right fats. Steer clear of vegetable oils, including soybean oil, which now comprises about 10 percent of our calories. Focus instead on omega 3 fats, nuts, coconut, avocados, and yes, even saturated fat from grass-fed or sustainably raised animals.
  7. Eat mostly plants. Plants should form 75 percent of your diet and your plate. I usually make two to three vegetable dishes per meal.
  8. Avoid dairy. Dairy is great for growing calves into cows, but not for humans. Try organic goat or sheep products, but only as a treat.
  9. Avoid gluten. Most is from Franken Wheat, so look for heirloom wheat (Einkorn). If you are not gluten sensitive, then consider it an occasional treat.
  10. Moderate alcohol and caffeine. Switch from coffee to green tea, and keep your alcohol intake to three glasses a week if you drink. 

Mark Hyman, MD believes that we all deserve a life of vitality—and that we have the potential to create it for ourselves. That’s why he is dedicated to tackling the root causes of chronic disease by harnessing the power of Functional Medicine to transform healthcare. He is a practicing family physician, an eight-time #1 New York Times bestselling author, and an internationally recognized leader, speaker, educator, and advocate in his field. He is the Director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine. He is also the founder and medical director of The UltraWellness Center, chairman of the board of the Institute for Functional Medicine and a medical editor of The Huffington Post.

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Posted by Jerelyn

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By Shiela Mulrooney Eldred – Experience Life


Trying to weather the storm of nutrition advice? Seek out a rainbow of colorful produce, and you’ll find a big pot of phytonutrient gold.


Many of us dutifully eat our veggies, yet few of us fully understand why they’re so good for us. A lot of it comes down to phytonutrients, the powerful, plant-based chemicals found in veggies as well as fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts, herbs, and spices.


Unlike macronutrients (such as proteins, carbohydrates, and fats) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), phytonutrients are not considered critical to our short-term survival. But, experts say, they are absolutely essential to warding off chronic diseases, including cancer, type 2 diabetes, and brain disorders.


Most of us are familiar with the beta-carotene found in carrots or the rich stores of lycopene in tomatoes. We may even use resveratrol as an excuse to pour ourselves a glass of red wine. But what about the other 25,000 phytonutrients? Yes, there are that many.


The good news is, you don’t need to take a zillion supplements to get them all. Since many phytonutrients are responsible for the hues of the plants they’re found in, simply eating a wide spectrum of colorful, plant-based foods will ensure that you’re getting the diversity you need.




Epidemiological studies have shown strong links between plant-based diets and health, but researchers are still trying to discern exactly how phytonutrients are involved. Because dozens of families of phytonutrients (including polyphenols, carotenoids, and saponoids) work in concert at both the cellular and genetic level, their biochemical functions can’t be easily teased out. (For a list of the major phytonutrients and their vital powers, see “Phyto Power“.)


What is known, according to nutritionist Deanna Minich, PhD, FACN, CNS, founder of the Food & Spirit nutrition program and a faculty member of the Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM), is that phytonutrients play three key roles:

  • They are protective antioxidants.
  • They can trigger positive gene expression (switching good genes “on” and bad ones “off”).
  • They support specific body structures and functions (lutein, for example, which is found in green veggies such as kale, spinach, and parsley, collects in the back of the eye and enhances visual health).

Overall, phytonutrients appear to have a protective, immune-supporting and anti-inflammatory effect throughout the body.


Recent studies show that people who developed stomach, lung, breast, and uterine cancer had lower phytosterol levels than those without cancer. (Phytosterols are a type of phytonutrient common in foods such as flaxseeds, almonds, pistachios, and broccoli.) Other research shows that high ingestion of phytosterols appears to reduce the growth of breast and prostate cancer in animals.


David E. Williams, PhD, environmental and molecular toxicology professor at the Linus Pauling Institute, studies the effects of phytonutrients in utero. He believes exposure to phytonutrients, starting even before birth, decreases our susceptibility to many chronic diseases, including cancer.




For maximum health impact, experts suggest eating phytonutrients in combination. Some individual phytonutrients do localize in certain parts of the body; blueberry compounds, for example, find their way to the parts of the brain serving memory and learning. But it’s clear that gorging on one or two phytonutrients is unlikely to boost your health.


“You can’t just take one nutrient for one effect,” Minich says. “It’s best to focus on smaller amounts of many phytonutrients.”


As Kristi Hughes, ND, a Minnesota-based functional-medicine naturopathic physician and the IFM’s associate director of medical education, explains it, different ailments might call for different combinations of phytonutrients. For example, Hughes says she may combine curcumin with other phytonutrients to fight inflammation in a patient’s gastrointestinal tract.


For a person simply looking to enhance overall health, the best bet when it comes to phytonutrients, says Hughes, is to remember the two Ds — density and diversity.


To make sure you are getting a diversity of phytonutrients, focus on the rainbow. Start with a simple plate of raw veggies: red pepper, green peapods, yellow cherry tomatoes, orange carrots, and purple cauliflower.


Then, the next time you shop, go for even more diversity within one of the color groups, suggests Minich. Different foods within the same color family offer different phytonutrient benefits, so instead of blueberries, pick up marionberries, and instead of watermelon, buy tomatoes.


Start swapping out starchy white staples for more vibrant ones: Make purple mashed potatoes or cook up a pot of black and red rice. And, remember, healthy foods that are white, tan, and brown are included in the rainbow, too, such as cauliflower, fennel, garlic, ginger, tahini, unsweetened cocoa, and lentils.


For the most part, vegetables have a greater healthy impact than fruits, says Williams. The crucifer family — broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, and others — is especially phyto-rich. While all the colors count, he says, you get the biggest bang for your nutritional buck by emphasizing green.




There’s no single best way to prepare foods to reap their phytonutrients. Some are better for you raw (such as many fruits) and some are more nutritious when cooked (such as carrots, spinach, and mushrooms).


“Certain plant compounds can be destroyed during cooking and other heat processing,” explains Susanne Mertens-Talcott, PhD, a Texas A&M University researcher.


“For example, when cooking strawberries, some of the bioactive compounds may get destroyed, so it’s better to consume these raw and chew well. But it is difficult for your body to fully extract and absorb the beta-carotene and other compounds in raw carrots. And cooking them with oil improves absorption.”


A general rule of thumb, says Minich, is to apply the rainbow rule to food preparation: Cook food until it’s at its brightest. “When broccoli turns that brilliant jewel tone of green during sautéing, that’s the time to eat it,” she says.


Some research has shown that organic produce tends to be richer in phytonutrients — perhaps because plants develop their bioactive compounds to defend themselves against pests and other stressors. Overly protected, pesticide-laden conventional produce may not be called upon to develop its full phytonutrient potential.


For example, Mertens-Talcott explains, “Resveratrol is only created if a plant is stressed by heat or pathogens, so grapes from a shade- or herbicide-protected vineyard may have less resveratrol.”

If you are not able to reliably eat a diet rich in plants, Minich says you may be able to resort to supplements for some of what you’re missing. Pills will never provide everything in a whole food, she notes, but they can play a supportive role.


“When I’m undergoing more stress, or when I’m traveling and I know I’m not going to have access to good food, that’s when I’ll bring my bag of supplements,” she says.


If you do opt for phyto-supplements, she suggests, aim to follow nature’s example: “You don’t want a high amount of a single agent, but, rather, small amounts of many.”


Just remember, Minich advises, no capsule can do for you what real produce will: “A whole food carries much more complexity than the limited constituents of a pill.”




Consider these tips from the Institute for Functional Medicine:


1. Load Up On Produce - Aim for nine to 13 servings of vegetables and fruits daily. One serving equals a half-cup of cooked veggies, 1 cup of raw leafy veggies, or a medium-size piece of fruit. Think of it as three to four servings per meal. In addition to veggies and fruits, phytonutrients abound in whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and even herbs and spices.


2. Eat Color - Unless they have added colors, most processed foods come in tan, yellow, and white. Make it your goal to get the full spectrum — red, yellow, orange, green, blue/purple, white/tan — every day with a variety of  naturally colorful foods. (Sorry, Froot Loops and M&Ms don’t count.)


3. Be Adventurous - Try a new food every week, and you’ll get the colors of the rainbow from new and different sources.


4. Maximize Combinations - Try eating plant foods in combination for an enhanced benefit. For example, pairing turmeric with black pepper and olive oil (on cauliflower, for example) has a synergistic health effect.


5. Use Creative Substitutions - Ramp up your old standbys with more phytonutrient-dense versions. Make orange or purple cauliflower instead of white cauliflower. Try purple mashed potatoes — or even sweet potatoes — instead of the traditional white spuds. And swap out white rice for purple, black, or brown.



Experience Life is an award-winning, whole-life health and fitness magazine that aims to empower people to live their best, most authentic lives, and challenges the conventions of hype, gimmicks, and superficiality in favor of a discerning, whole-person perspective. Visit
ExperienceLife.com to learn more.
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“‘Test us for ten days,’ he said. ‘Give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare us with the young men who are eating the food of the royal court, and base your decision on how we look.’ [The guard] agreed to let them try it for ten days. When the time was up, they looked healthier and stronger than all those who had been eating the royal food.”

(Daniel 1:12-15 TEV)


When Daniel refused to become unclean by eating the food of King Nebuchadnezzar’s court, he made a deal with the guard: “‘Test us for ten days,’ he said. ‘Give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare us with the young men who are eating the food of the royal court, and base your decision on how we look.’ [The guard] agreed to let them try it for ten days. When the time was up, they looked healthier and stronger than all those who had been eating the royal food” (Daniel 1:12-15 TEV).


Daniel didn’t just eat haphazardly, accepting whatever was placed in front of him. He was intentional about what he ate.


When you think clearly about what you eat, God empowers you to continue to make good choices. Clear thinking leads to self-control.


By thinking ahead of time, you can prepare so that you won’t have a “food emergency.” This enables you to eat healthful snacks that you packed ahead of time, and you won’t crash in the afternoon because you ate a greasy fast-food lunch.


Instead, you’ll be on top of your game, ready to do whatever it is that God calls you to do. Being mindful and conscious, thinking clearly, and exercising self-control, you can become Daniel Strong.


Talk It Over

  1. Share three things you can do to think clearly and prepare in order to avoid a food emergency.
  2. What time of day are you most likely to have a “food emergency”?
  3. How can you prepare for these times when you are vulnerable?
  4. What changes do you notice in yourself when you practice mindful and intentional eating?


Pastor Rick Warren's radio teaching and daily devotional, Daily Hope, is offered across America and designed for your daily quiet time.  Love, learn, and LIVE the Word everyday with Daily Hope!  Subscribe to the free Daily Hope Devotional or listen to today’s radio broadcast!

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Julius’ life dramatically changed after he received “The Daniel Plan” book as a gift.  By learning to incorporate the five Essentials: Faith, Food, Fitness, Focus, and Friends into his life, he experienced life-changing transformation. His story is an inspiration to all who feel stuck, controlled by old habits and an unhealthy lifestyle.


A Precious Gift

In January 2014, two friends who attend Saddleback Church gave me “The Daniel Plan” book. At the beginning of my journey, I weighed 240 pounds and was not concerned with eating a healthy diet or working out. I started reading the book and learning about the five Essentials of the program, which are Faith, Food, Fitness, Focus and Friends. I also visited Saddleback Church and listened to the “Transformed” message series Pastor Rick Warren was teaching. This series was based on Romans 12:2, which made a strong impression on my faith and me in God, was strengthened.


“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”


I realized deep inside that I was abusing the sacred body that God had given me. It was time to make a change.


First Steps

In the spring, I joined an athletic club and started taking classes such as cycling and a cardio/weight training class. I was greatly encouraged and motivated by my trainers, who checked on my progress and gave me tips and advice. It was so important for me to surround myself with friends who held me accountable during my health journey. I also changed my diet. This was difficult in the beginning because of my cravings for junk food, rice and soda. However, this is where the Faith essential really helped me. When I prayed for strength or for temptations to be removed, my prayers were answered. I was also blessed to receive tremendous support in living a healthy lifestyle from my Aunt Ruth and Uncle Jonas.


New Lifestyle Embraced

Through God’s grace The Daniel Plan has positively impacted my life. The Daniel Plan has rekindled my faith in God. I am now strong and confident in the Lord and determined as a child of God to strive for excellence in all that I do.


I have an unwavering desire to live a healthy lifestyle, by eating healthy foods and staying active. I know this is a continuous journey, but I firmly believe that with God and the people God has placed in my life, I will be able to overcome any obstacles that may arise.

I have lost over 50 pounds so far!

As a 10-year cancer survivor, I am grateful for the second chance God has given me. I believe that God led me to read The Daniel Plan so that I would begin taking care of his health. I am grateful for the transformation that has occurred in my life. I plan to continue relying on the 5 Essentials of The Daniel Plan to help me balance my life and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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By Mareya Ibrahim

You get to work.  No time to leave for lunch.  Stomach starts to rumble.  Get distracted.  Feel incredibly lethargic all of a sudden.  Start to yawn.  Chug a bunch of coffee or energy drinks.  Rub your eyes.  Desperation hits.  Grab a bag of chips from the vending machine. Reach into your desk drawer and fish out a bag of year-old Halloween candy you pillaged from your kids and proceed to go into a caffeinated sugar and salt coma in the middle of your manager’s meeting, then fall face first into your co-worker’s lunch.  Or maybe, just bite his head off and chew slowly. 

The hunger beast emerges.

How does the vicious cycle begin?  The idea of three ‘square meals’ a day was engrained in us from day one.  Snacks were something that would sabotage your diet and consisted of a lot of fried, sugary stuff.  The real scenario plays out like this…you skip a meal, like, say breakfast or lunch, the snacking goes awry and your hunger dominoes like a pack of rabid wolves that will do anything for survival, including picking off of carcasses, donuts, fries and any other office meeting remnants or infinite shelf life, processed items that might present themselves from behind a vending window with lots of buttons. Willpower is not your wingman that shoulders you on to good health when a sugar-and-fried-food-fest feels a lot more like a party.

The body loves routine in what it eats and when.  It wants to know it will receive energy on a regular basis to operate, just like a car.  If you let the tank run dry and keep trying to drive, you’ll probably have to hitch a ride home no matter where you are.  It just won’t go anymore.  Plus, it takes a lot more energy to get it running in tip top shape again and don’t even think about giving it the cheap gas, unless you want to gunk up the engine.

White flour, refined sweeteners, chemical additives and processed foods are perfectly designed to gunk up your engine.  

So, here’s my secret. The key to staving off hunger and managing blood sugar is to eat better, more often.  Food affects our mood, energy level, how we handle stress, our ability to sleep, how we deal with relationships, and ultimately, governs our decisions.  Have you ever seen the shirt that says ‘I’m sorry for what I said when I was hungry?’ 

Eating regularly seems like such an easy concept but one that’s not always given priority in our go, go, go lives.  As a health coach, I hear it all the time.  “I forgot to eat.” “I don’t always have time to go grocery shopping.”  “I’m on a diet, so I’m skipping lunch.”  The fact is, your body needs you to eat right, regularly.   Not eating right will come back to bite you in the derriere. You won’t just gain fat, you’ll also drag down your system, and just like that car, you will break down. 

You’re not only encouraged to eat often, choosing a combination of protein with slow burning carbohydrates and essential fatty acids can actually stoke your metabolic fire and help you burn more calories, even in your sleep.  Clean foods + smaller portions at regular intervals = higher metabolism.  If that doesn’t sound like a license to eat, I don’t know what more a fit foodie could ask for!

Quick meal ideas can help keep the hunger beast from rearing its ugly head.  Eat a few each day:

  • Nitrate-free turkey breast, arugula and tomato rolled in a whole grain tortilla
  • Oatmeal made with old fashioned oats, flax meal, fresh fruit and unsweetened nut milk
  • Sushi hand rolls made with toasted seaweed, vinegar-seasoned brown rice, avocado, seared tuna and cucumber

Smart snacks can also help you avoid a food emergency.  Eat a couple each day:

  • Protein shake made with high quality protein powder, spinach, coconut water and berries
  • Sprouted toast topped with almond butter and sliced apples
  • Homemade trail mix with unsalted cashews, dried cranberries and dark chocolate chips
  • Bell pepper, Jicama and cucumber sticks with avocado hummus
  • Crunchy chickpeas, baked with cumin (see recipe below)

A little bit of planning goes a long way.  Make sure you’ve got some meals prepped and snacks packed before heading into the week.  I like to keep a bag in my car that travels with me, full of transportable snacks like raw cashews, packs of wild-caught albacore tuna, coconut water, low sugar bars and apples with individual packets of nut butter so that I’m never seduced by the blinking lights of the fast food drive through.  I figure as long as I’m armed, I’ll never have to succumb to a food 911.

Try out this great, high protein snack that satiates your need to crunch.

Crunchy Cumin and Chili Chickpeas


4 cups   garbanzo beans, canned, rinsed

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground Chili powder

1/2-teaspoon cayenne pepper


1. Pre-heat the oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle.

2. Place the chickpeas in a large bowl and toss with the remaining ingredients until evenly coated.

3. Spread the chickpeas in an even layer onto a rimmed baking sheet and bake until crisp, about 30 to 40 minutes.

4.  Package in individual portion sizes in paper bags to keep crunchy.


Mareya Ibrahim is one of The Daniel Plan Signature Chefs and is best know as The Fit Foodie.  She is an award-winning entrepreneur, television chef, author and inventor.  She is also the CEO and founder of Grow Green Industries, Inc. and co-creator of eatCleaner, the premier lifestyle destination for fit food information.  Her book “The Clean Eating Handbook” is touted as the ‘go-to’ guide for anyone looking to eat cleaner and get leaner.  She is a featured chef on ABC’s Emmy-nominated cooking show Recipe Rehab, eHow.com, Livestrong and the food expert for San Diego’s Channel 6 News.   She is also the creator of the Cleaner Plate Club – the only clean, balanced nutrition meal prep program that follows her proven formula for fat and weight loss.

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By Dr. Mark Hyman

First, you have to prioritize sleep! I used to think that “MD” stood for “medical deity” and meant I didn’t have to follow the same sleep rules as every other human being. I stayed up late working long shifts in the emergency room, ignoring the demands of my body to rest. It wasn’t until I learned that shift work (like I did in when I worked in the emergency room) leads to a shortened life expectancy that I quit.


Unfortunately, our lives are infiltrated with stimuli – and we keep stimulated until the moment we get into bed. This is not the way to get restful sleep. Frankly, it’s no wonder we can’t sleep well when we eat late dinners, answer emails, surf the Internet, or do work, and then get right into bed and watch the evening news about all the disaster, pain, and suffering in the world.


Instead we must take a little “holiday” in the two hours before bed. Creating a sleep ritual – a special set of little things you do before bed to help ready your system physically and psychologically for sleep – can guide your body into a deep, healing sleep.


We all live with a little bit of post-traumatic stress syndrome (or, I should say, traumatic stress syndrome, because for many of us there is nothing “post” about it). Much research has been done on the effects of stress and traumatic experiences and images on sleep. If you follow my guidelines for restoring normal sleep below, your post-traumatic stress may become a thing of the past.


Here’s how restore your natural sleep rhythm. It may take weeks or months, but using these tools in a coordinated way will eventually reset your biological rhythms:


1. Practice the regular rhythms of sleep – go to bed and wake up at the same time each day


2. Use your bed for sleep and romance only – not reading or television


3. Create an aesthetic environment that encourages sleep – use serene and restful colors and eliminate clutter and distraction


4. Create total darkness and quiet – consider using eyeshades and earplugs


5. Avoid caffeine – it may seem to help you stay awake but actually makes your sleep worse


6. Avoid alcohol – it helps you get to sleep but causes interruptions in sleep and poor-quality sleep

7. Get regular exposure to daylight for at least 20 minutes daily – the light from the sun enters your eyes and triggers your brain to release specific chemicals and hormones like melatonin that are vital to healthy sleep, mood, and aging


8. Eat no later than three hours before bed – eating a heavy meal prior to bed will lead to a bad night’s sleep


9. Don’t exercise vigorously after dinner – it excites the body and makes it more difficult to get to sleep


10. Write your worries down – one hour before bed, write down the things that are causing you anxiety and make plans for what you might have to do the next day to reduce your worry. It will free up your mind and energy to move into deep and restful sleep


11. Take a hot salt/soda aromatherapy bath – raising your body temperature before bed helps to induce sleep. A hot bath also relaxes your muscles and reduces tension physically and psychically


12. By adding one-and-a-half to one cup of Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) and one-and-a-half to one cup of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) to your bath, you will gain the benefits of magnesium absorbed through your skin and the alkaline-balancing effects of the baking soda, both of which help with sleep


13. Get a massage or stretch before bed – this helps relax the body making it easier to fall asleep


14. Warm your middle – this raises your core temperature and helps trigger the proper chemistry

for sleep. Either a hot water bottle, heating pad, or warm body can do the trick


15. Avoid medications that interfere with sleep – these include sedatives (these are used to treat insomnia, but ultimately lead to dependence and disruption of normal sleep rhythms and architecture), antihistamines, stimulants, cold medication, steroids, and headache medication that contains caffeine (such as Fioricet)


16. Use herbal therapies – try passionflower, or 320 mg to 480 mg of valerian (valeriana officinalis) root extract standardized to 0.2 percent valerenic acid one hour before bed


17. Take 200 to 400 mg of magnesium citrate or glycinate before bed – this relaxes the nervous system and muscles.


18. Other supplements and herbs can be helpful in getting some shuteye – try calcium, theanine (an amino acid from green tea), GABA, 5-HTP, melatonin, and magnolia.


19. Try one to three mg of melatonin at night – melatonin helps stabilize your sleep rhythms.


20. Get a relaxation, meditation or guided imagery CD – any of these may help you get to sleep.


If you are still having trouble sleeping, you should be evaluated by your doctor for other problems that can interfere with sleep, including food sensitivities, thyroid problems, menopause, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, heavy metal toxicity, and, of course, stress and depression. Also, consider getting tested for a sleep disorder.

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“Take your everyday, ordinary life — your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life — and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.” (Romans 12:1 MSG)


The Daniel Plan integrates that which we tend to separate: food, friends, fitness, focus, and faith. Tackling the five essentials together actually makes them easier.


The Bible says to “take your everyday, ordinary life — your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life — and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him” (Romans 12:1 MSG).


In prayerful movements, our faith and fitness connect and strengthen one another, reminding us that in God, “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28 NIV). He is the giver of life and breath.


When you take a walk, think of what it means to walk with God. When you get up to take a break from sitting, make a mental list of your blessings, or pray for the people in your home or workplace. These prayerful movements will help you focus your everyday activities on God and what he has done for you through the Daniel Plan.


Talk It Over

  1. What are three prayerful movements that you will engage in today? There’s no wrong way to do this — any movement is the right one!
  2. What do you understand more fully or notice for the first time about yourself as you engage in prayerful movement?
  3. What do you understand more fully or notice for the first time about God as you engage in prayerful movement?


Pastor Rick Warren's radio teaching and daily devotional, Daily Hope, is offered across America and designed for your daily quiet time.  Love, learn, and LIVE the Word everyday with Daily Hope!  Subscribe to the free Daily Hope Devotional or listen to today’s radio broadcast!

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Posted by Jerelyn

Skip the fast food taco joints and make tastier, healthier tacos at home. Tacos are the perfect use for leftover shredded roast chicken. You could also use thinly sliced steak, small grilled shrimp, even seasoned and cooked ground beef or turkey. Tacos are so versatile!   

GF - 8 tacos

8 small organic corn tortillas

2 cups finely shredded green or red cabbage (or dark lettuce leaves)

2 large roma tomatoes, diced or slice thin

2 avocados, sliced into thin wedges

2 cups shredded roast chicken breast

2 ounces shredded jalapeno-jack cheese (optional)

Fresh cilantro (optional)

1-2 large limes cut into quarters

½ cup Creamy Chipotle-Lime Sauce (page xx)

1. Warm tortillas for about 30 seconds in the microwave wrapped in wax paper or in an oven-safe tortilla warmer, until they are soft and pliable.

2. Spread each tortilla with 1 tablespoon of sauce. Top with cabbage, tomato, avocado, chicken, cheese, and cilantro. Squeeze lime over the top.

Creamy Chipotle-Lime Sauce

Make your tacos sing with this fresh spicy sauce. It works well with any taco meat or toppings.

Makes ½ cup

¼ cup plain Greek yogurt

¼ cup organic or vegan mayonnaise

1 tablespoon lime juice

2 pinches Kosher or sea salt

1 pinch black pepper

1 garlic clove, minced

1/8 teaspoon ground chipotle powder (or cayenne)

1. Whisk yogurt through chipotle powder in a small bowl until smooth.

Based on The Daniel Plan book, The Daniel Plan Cookbook: 40 Days to a Healthier Life is a beautiful four-color cookbook filled with more than 100 delicious, Daniel Plan-approved recipes that offer an abundance of options to bring nutritious cooking into your kitchen to help transform your health in the best way imaginable—from the inside out.

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Posted by Jerelyn

(From The Daniel Plan – 40 Days to a Healthier Life)

If God’s responsibility is to provide life-changing truth, Holy Spirit power, and custom-made experiences to help you change and grow, then what is your responsibility for personal change? You must develop three spiritual habits that will deepen your faith and develop your spiritual strength.

Choose to Fill Your Mind with God’s Word Every Day

Change is a matter of choice. We can’t just passively sit around doing nothing and expect our lives to get better. We must make healthy choices to use the resources God gives us, and the first healthy choice is to carefully choose what we think about.

It is often said, “You’re not what you think you are, but what you think about, you are!” Did you get that? If you are going to change your life, you must first change the way you think—your perceptions about God, about yourself, about life, about food, about health, and about everything else. Change always begins with new thinking. We must change the patterns of our mind. (We will look at this more in chapter 6 on Focus.)

The biblical word for personal change is repentance. Most people completely misunderstand the term. The popular conception of repentance is “Stop sinning! Quit doing bad things!” But the word actually means to change your mind. It comes from the Greek word metanoia, which means to change your perspective, think in a different way, make a mental U-turn. Of course, if you change your mind, your behavior will follow, but repentance starts in the mind, not in actions.

Choosing to change your perspective and what you think about is your first responsibility in getting healthy. The Bible teaches that the way you think determines the way you feel, and the way you feel determines the way you act. If you want to change any behavior, you must start by challenging your unhealthy perspective on that subject. For example, if you have difficulty controlling your anger, don’t start with your actions; instead, begin with identifying and changing the thoughts that prompt you to anger. Romans 12:2 says that we are transformed by the renewing of our mind. We are not transformed by an act of our will, but by repentance—seeing everything from God’s perspective.

Imagine that you have a speedboat with an autopilot that is set to head east across a lake, and you suddenly decide that you want to go west, in the exact opposite direction. What would you do?

You would have two options: The hardest way would be to grab the steering wheel and physically force the boat to go in the opposite direction than it was programmed to go. By sheer willpower you could force the boat to make a 180-degree turn. As long as you held onto the steering wheel, the boat would head in the new direction. But the entire time, you would feel the tension in your arms and body because you were forcing the autopilot to go against its programmed nature. You would feel stressed and uptight, and eventually you would get tired and let go of the steering wheel. At that point, the boat’s autopilot would immediately return to heading east.

The simpler and easier way to change the direction of the boat is to change the autopilot. Then it will naturally head in the direction you want it to go.

For a similar reason, this is why diets, quit-smoking plans, and other self-help efforts based on willpower eventually fail. The entire time you are forcing yourself to change, you are under tension because your old thought patterns are unconsciously telling you to keep doing what you’ve always done. We get tired of doing what feels “unnatural” and soon quit exercising, or start smoking again, or return to our bad habits and destructive ways of relating to others. We are victims of our own autopilots that we have programmed by repetition.

The good news is that God can change your mental autopilot far faster than you can. He specializes in giving you a new mind-set. That new mind-set will change the way you feel, which will change the way you act. I pointed out earlier that Jesus said the truth sets you free. When you begin to renew your mind with God’s Word, and you replace old lies, false ideas, and misconceptions with the truth, it will set you free from the habits and hang-ups that limit your life. Your actions will naturally begin to align with your new attitudes.

Choose to Depend on God’s Spirit Every Moment

Everyone who trusts Christ to save them receives his Holy Spirit in their lives, but few people experience the power of the Holy Spirit because they still depend on their own power instead. Learning to depend on God’s Spirit to guide you, strengthen you, empower you, and use you is the second habit you must develop for spiritual strength.

Jesus gives a beautiful illustration of this in John 15. He compares our spiritual life to a grapevine and its branches. Jesus said, “I am the vine, and you are the branches. If you stay joined to me, and I stay joined to you, then you will produce lots of fruit. But you cannot do anything without me” (John 15:5 CEV).

No grape branch can produce fruit without staying connected to the main vine, and you cannot produce spiritual fruit while disconnected from God’s Spirit. The fruitfulness of your life will depend on how dependent you are on the Holy Spirit. Attempting to bear fruit (and making positive changes) on your own power is as foolish as tying apples on the branches of a dead apple tree. From a distance, it might look as if the tree is alive and fruitful, but on closer inspection, people would realize the fruitfulness is fake.

So how do you develop a vibrant, life-giving relationship to God? The same way you develop any other relationship! It takes time, it takes talking, and it takes trust. To develop a friendship with God, you have to be in continual conversation with him, listening to him through his Word and talking with him in prayer. If you are not talking to God throughout your day, you certainly aren’t depending on him. Prayer is far more than a once-a-day quiet time or a memorized blessing before each meal. God wants to have a running conversation with you!

Choose to Trust God in Every Circumstance

You cannot control everything that happens to you. In fact, most of what happens around you is completely out of your control. But you do have control over two important factors: You control your response, and you control how much you choose to trust God, regardless of your circumstances.

Viktor Frankl, a Jew, was sent to one of the Nazi death camps of World War II. In his powerful classic, Man’s Search for Meaning, Frankl wrote that while he was a prisoner at Dachau, the guards stripped him of everything he had. They took his identity. They took his wife and family. They took his clothes. They even took his wedding ring. But, he said, there was one thing that no one could take from him: his freedom to choose his response and attitude. He wrote, “They offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human the freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” No guards could take that away from Viktor Frankl. It was his choice.

None of us knows what will happen in the future, but we can control how we react and respond. We choose whether something will make us bitter or better. God gave us that freedom, and he is watching how we respond to events that don’t go our way. What matters in life is not so much what happens to us, but what happens in us.

Circumstances are the third tool God uses to change us, grow us, and make us more like Christ. Knowing this keeps us from becoming resentful or bitter. Romans 5:3–4 says, “We also have joy with our troubles, because we know that these troubles produce patience. And patience produces character, and character produces hope” (NCV).

We want you to remember a very important truth: God is not waiting for you to get physically healthy or spiritually mature before he starts loving you or enjoying you. He loves you right now, and he will be cheering you on at every stage of your growth and development. He is not waiting for you to cross the finish line first. He is smiling at you as you run the race.

For more, check out The Daniel Plan – 40 Days to a Healthier LifeThe Daniel Plan is an innovative approach to achieving a healthy lifestyle where people get better together by optimizing their health in the key areas of faith, food, fitness, focus and friends. Here’s the secret sauce: The Daniel Plan is designed to be done in a supportive community relying on God’s instruction for living. Our research has revealed that people getting healthy together lose twice as much weight as those who do it alone. The Daniel Plan shows you how the powerful combination of faith, fitness, food, focus, and friends will change your health forever from the inside out.

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