Anti-Inflammatory Meal Plan

Episode 9
Sustainability Book Chat

anti-inflammatory meal plan

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People don’t usually think of health when we talk about sustainable living, but if we don’t have our health, we are not sustainable. Keeping ourselves healthy is really at the root of a sustainable life.

In this episode, I’m talking to Shawna Coronado about her journey from an author of seven gardening books to being debilitated with arthritis to regaining her health by changing what she eats. Her last gardening book, The Wellness Garden, started to pivot towards healthier living. She has added two cookbooks to her resume — Stacked with Flavor: An Anti-Inflammatory Cookbook With Dairy-free, Grain-free & Low-Sugar Recipes and Stacked with Flavor: Healthy Snacks.

Shawna talks about her personal health journey, as well as how you can incorporate healthier eating in your everyday life.

Shawna Coronado’s other books:

No Waste Organic

101 Organic
Gardening Hacks

Illinois: Getting Started
Garden Guide

Grow a Living Wall

Grow a Living Wall book cover

The Wellness Garden

Indiana: Getting Started
Garden Guide

These are affiliate links. This means that if you purchase something after clicking on a link, Thrifty Homesteader will make a small percentage while you still pay exactly the same amount as you otherwise would.

Learn more about Shawna Coronado:

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Transcript – Anti Inflammatory Meal Plan

Deborah Niemann 0:04
Whoever you are, wherever you live, whatever size your living space, you can do more than you think to lead a greener lifestyle. In the “Sustainability Book Chat,” we are talking to authors and experts about all the different ways that achieving sustainability is within your reach.

Deborah Niemann 0:28
Hello, everyone, and welcome to today’s episode. This is going to be a lot of fun today, because I am joined by my dear friend Shawna Coronado, who lived in Illinois for forever, um, like, an hour and a half away from me. And then, crazy enough, we met in Oregon at a Mother Earth News Fair. And then we became great friends, and she moved away to Arizona. So, now we just get to talk to each other on Zoom and FaceTime.

Shawna Coronado 1:00
What was I thinking? But, it’s true. I lived in Illinois 30 years, and Midwest my whole life, and then here I am in Mesa, Arizona. Absolutely love it, though. And, you and I talk a lot about diet and health and wellness. And there’s a trick that you can do to lift your mood, and I’m living that trick, which is to give yourself more light. Now, you know, if you have a health condition that requires you wear sunglasses, you wear your sunglasses. But, no sunglasses, outdoors, lots of light, and what happens is your body turns on the endorphins and boom, your mood is lifted. So, if I’m having a rough day at work, I get up off my hind end and I go do a lap outside around the block. And this is in all kinds of weather; it doesn’t make a difference. And the boost that I get, shabam! I mean, it’s amazing. And we need that, I think, especially now with everybody working out of the home and being kind of down because we might be more isolated from other people.

Deborah Niemann 2:09
And this is exactly how we became such fast friends. Because, I have some health issues that are related to food; Shawna has some health issues related to food. So, when we met, we immediately became friends, because we were both looking for restaurants that had food that we could eat. You know, like, they had a gluten-free menu and things like that. So to me, it seems like health was really the number one reason that we decided to move out to the country and start growing our own food organically. And so, homesteading and a clean diet, to me, just totally went hand in hand.

Deborah Niemann 2:47
So, back to Shawna, though, and what we’re talking about today, and that is: Shawna started out as a garden writer—which was pretty similar, like, with us. We started out like, “We’re just going to grow our own food.” But then, after you had some health issues, your garden writing took a turn. Like, your first seven books were about gardening. And those last two books also started to bring in a really healthy dose of health-related material. And then your last two books have been cookbooks about anti-inflammatory diets. So, can you tell us a little bit about your whole transition, like, how you went from being a garden writer to a cookbook writer?

Shawna Coronado 3:24
Oh my god, it’s funny. You just gave me goosebumps, because I’m like, “Oh, my,” and my head just pfft. There’s so much that happened. Really, from the very beginning, I was talking about wellness and gardening together. So, even when I was in the gardening category, if you will, I want organic gardening. I want healthier mentalities about getting outdoors, feeling healthier, being better. This was all really, really critical to me as a part of my original message. And then, in 2015, I was diagnosed with severe degenerative osteoarthritis of the spine. And this diagnosis was this big deal, because I had front-lawn vegetable gardens. I’d kind of become online garden famous, you know; I had all of these odd—and I want to say very creative and unusual—gardens that I had built around my property. I had written a book called Grow a Living Wall, and it talked about growing up and doing things in a different fashion. And so, more and more people were watching that and tuning in.

Shawna Coronado 4:24
When I was diagnosed in 2015, I thought I’d injured myself, and I was walking hunched over, like baby steps. “Nobody touch me.” I hadn’t slept in almost 30 days, like, nothing consistent in 30 days. And I felt, truly, like my life was over. I actually called my publisher sobbing, saying, “It’s the end of the world. It’s the end of my life. I can’t write anymore. I can’t do anything more,” because I cannot heft a 50-pound bag over my shoulder. And this is key. You know, when you’re a gardener, you’re out there doing heavy-duty digging and heavy-duty things; I could no longer do the duty. And that’s a whole bunch of dooty, is what that is, because I was so upset, you know, that I couldn’t do all this. So first of all, my editor said, “You can still write. You’re gonna be fine.” But the doctor, when I went in for my diagnosis, he said, “Listen, the thing that is going to cure you is pain therapy.” And I’m like, “I thought pain therapy was just pain medication.” He’s like, “Yep, that’s it.” Like, no. That’s not a cure. I’m like, “I’m not satisfied with that.” He’s like, “Okay, well then I can’t really help you. You can take pain medication. You can go to get physical therapy and start doing regular exercising.” He’s like, “I want you to walk, if you can, an hour every day. No matter whether you’re bent over or whatever, you need to walk regularly. Outside of that, I’ve washed my hands. I can’t do anything else for you.”

Shawna Coronado 5:54
So I was walking on the track one day, and I remembered, years ago, I had taken my daughter to a nutritionist. And she’s a special nutritionist, because she was an integrated functional nutritionist. Integrative functional nutritionists look at your total lifestyle. It’s not a dietitian, who just hands you a recipe card for “Here’s what you take for your diabetes.” No, this is a very specific person who examines your total life and then tries to customize your life with the best food that will help your condition. And so, I remembered her while I was on the track—and I’m crying while I’m walking on the track. It was pitiful. You would have just hugged me; it was horrible. And I call her, and I tell her what’s going on. And I’m sobbing so hard that I’m hiccuping. And she said, “Okay, here’s what we’re doing. I’m canceling all my appointments for the rest of the day, and you’re coming in right now.” And I drove right over to her office. And she said, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life. And it starts with an elimination diet. I want you to go on it for 30 days.” And I’m like, “Well, that’s ridiculous. Diet has nothing to do with my pain. This is not going to help me,” and she’s like, “Listen. Just work with me. Thirty days. Give me 30 days.” And so, she put me on an anti-inflammatory food plan, and at the end of four days, I woke up. And that’s a miracle! Because, I hadn’t been sleeping at all. So I—every day of that week, I had emailed her and sent her a note saying, “I hate you. This is never gonna work. This is awful. Bleh. I don’t like this at all.” On day five, when I woke up, I called her and I’m like, “I love you. You’re my new best friend. Oh, my God, I woke up!” And she explained that that’s because it takes four days for the average human to work out food sensitivities. And that began the beginning of my education.

Shawna Coronado 8:06
I’m not a nutritionist. I’m not pretending to be a nutritionist. But, I am a person who’s gone through this process and understands what anti-inflammatory food can truly do for you. And because of that, I’ve become a person who is a reminder, who helps people stay on their food plans, and who then makes recipes and smart anti-inflammatory lifestyle recommendations that gives you a total package. So, the first thing that we started with was getting rid of dairy and getting rid of grains. So, this isn’t a gluten-free diet that she put me on. In an elimination diet, it’s really totally grain-free. No grain, no rice, no oats, no corn, no any of that. Grain-free, dairy-free, sugar-free. No booze. I know. If you like to drink wine, you’re out for a month. You know, try all these things for 30 days. And then at the end of the 30 days, once every four days, you can gradually reintroduce foods. And this style, after the first three days, I said, “I’m never doing this. I hate you. This is awful.” After I started feeling better, I got down 40% less pain, maybe after the four days.

Shawna Coronado 9:20
At the end of the 30 days, I had been on high blood pressure meds for 15 years. And I felt all dizzy, and I felt sick. I went into my doctor at the, like, 30-day mark, and he’s like, “What are you doing?” I’m like, “What do you mean?” He said, “You no longer have high blood pressure. It’s gone, and you’re taking meds for it you don’t need. This is why you’re dizzy. Get rid of the meds. You’re absolutely fine.” And I’m like, “Well, I’m exercising and eating right.” And he’s like, “I’ve been telling you about that for years.” And I’m like, “I know.” So, the exercising and eat right thing apparently is, like, good for you. And so, at the end of the 30 days, I was at maybe 75% less pain in my back. So, standing up straight then, feeling better; I started physical therapy. I’ve gone back periodically for physical therapy since 2015, not because I was in tremendous pain, but because in order to keep your core strong, you need to learn new exercises. You can’t just do the same thing for the rest of your life; you need to mix it up a little bit, have some variety in there, and so I’ve been working over all these years to strengthen my core. So, the bottom line is, I can lift a 50-pound bag over my shoulder now, but should you, is the question. No, I shouldn’t do that. And in fact, all my gardening and my food and my everything is now adjusted to understand that osteoarthritis is a permanent condition. And I need to understand that, and compensate for that, by not overdoing it and think more in moderation. So, the fact that I wrote the book Grow a Living Wall worked out really good for me, because growing up is a really smart idea. I grow my vegetable gardens here in Arizona in elevated beds. They’re still organic; they’re still all-natural. And I do everything up. And in doing that, my goal is that I can extend the life that I have as long as possible without surgery or other medical intervention. And it is working. Now, the diet now…. So remember, 2015, first four days, about 40% better. 30 days, about 75% better. I’d say that I’m hitting 85 to 90%, right now, at this point, but that’s with consistent exercise. And I never went off the diet. The diet is my food plan, and I’ve stayed on it all these years. And everyone’s like, “Oh, the sacrifice! Oh, the drama! Oh, no dairy!” You figure out what foods work.

Shawna Coronado 12:13
So, Stacked with Flavor was the secret. The original book, and then the snacks book, is really about how do people stay on their anti-inflammatory food plan? How do you do it for years, like I’ve done it? And the secret is flavor. Because if something tastes good, then you want to eat it. And the real secret—and you know the secret, girl, because you and I cook very similar foods. But when you have vegetables, roast them. Roast them with herbs and olive oil. And if you can’t do olive oil, do another oil. Whatever you can do, roast them. Sear your meats, your fish, just sear everything, because you’re searing in flavor. If I roast my vegetables, I roast them till they’re almost black, because it releases the sugars and it gives it this really flavorful thing that happens. And then, make seasoning mixes. I have to tell you that I did not believe the seasoning mixes at the grocery store tasted bad. What I did, I’m at Walmart, okay? And I turned all the seasoning mixes around, got my glasses on, and I’m real close, and I’m reading all the labels—every single one of them had artificial ingredients added to it. And so, I went to my nutritionist, actually. And I said, “Listen, I’m having issues with this. You know, if a small amount of something is causing a reaction for me, then seasoning is a small amount of something that I add. But, I’m confused. “And she’s like, “You need to make your own seasoning mixes.” She’s like, “That’s what I do, because I became frustrated just like you.” So I started making my own seasoning mixes. So, I have an entire chapter in the original Stacked with Flavor book that’s just seasoning mixes and how to make them, because it really comes down to: People think that it’s really hard to do. And it’s super, super simple.

Shawna Coronado 14:13
So, I have talked your ear off. You asked me one question! I have all these things to say.

Deborah Niemann 14:20
That’s okay. So, I do want to back up a little bit, because you were talking about going on the elimination diet and eliminating some foods. And I learned all about elimination diets and stuff, because I got diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which is an autoimmune disease. And, when I looked at what I could do to help myself with that, I learned that a lot of people who have that have a problem with food sensitivities. So, I went on an elimination diet and realized that I had a problem with, like, six different foods that I needed to stop eating. And I’m specifically not listing them, because that’s the point of the elimination diet, is to find out what you are having a problem with. And what you eliminate—like you said, all of the grains and then, like, dairy. Foods that have a really high rate of causing problems for people. And you eliminate those to get them completely out of your system, and then, after a month or so, like you said, you eat them again, and then you’re just like, “Oh my gosh. I have a problem with that food,” you know?

Deborah Niemann 15:27
And the thing that really surprised me was that I discovered that I actually had a lot of problems that were being caused by food sensitivities. I had been having migraines since I was 19 years old, which went away completely after I stopped eating gluten. Like, that was the first thing I eliminated was just gluten, because I had heard that was usually a problem. So, I never had a migraine now, in seven years, since I eliminated gluten.

Shawna Coronado 16:55

Deborah Niemann 15:56
And then, the other thing was—as I started eliminating other foods, too—was that I realized that that horrible pain in my hips… You know, like, if I would sit in a car for more than 30 minutes, and first thing in the morning, when I would get out of bed, I would be limping for five minutes, because there was this horrible pain in my hips. And, also seven years ago, I got diagnosed with arthritis in my knees. And it was so bad at that time that they were saying I’d probably have to have knee replacement fairly soon. And, it’s been seven years now. My knees are still there, like, and they’re better now than they were seven years ago. Like, it used to, I would walk up the stairs, and they’d be like, crrk, crrk, crrk. Like, you could hear my knees. And they don’t make noise like that anymore. And society’s like, “Oh, yeah, when you get old, you start to get aches and pains.” Which is true to some degree. Like, you are going to age. But, you know, I was 51 years old back then and having problems that I really shouldn’t have been having for, like, at least another 20 years.

Shawna Coronado 17:03
Yes. Yeah, no, this is exactly it. When I tell people that have spinal osteoarthritis, they’re like, “How old are you?” That’s the first question, you know, because that is considered an old person’s disease. And I’m not an old person yet. I’m coming up on it. But no, I totally agree with you. And, I think that the frightening thing about the elimination diet for me was thinking, you know, I already ate separate from my husband, because I have all these allergies and sensitivities and issues with food. I’m allergic to mold. So mold is beer, wine, cheese, bread, mushrooms. You know, so I already struggled with food allergies. And the biggest complaint I get from people is, you know, “Well, I can’t eat what my husband eats. And he doesn’t like that very much.” And I’m like, “Well, you know, you’re trying to get healthy and feel better every day. Do you really care what anyone else thinks?” You need to eat for your health. So, what I found is that I cook a meal for two—because it’s just me and my husband now at home. And, I cook this meal. If he chooses to eat it, he does. And if he chooses not to eat it, then he can fix his own food. So that’s how we’ve kind of overcome the specific elimination diet situation. “How do you, you know, how do you handle a long-term food plan issue?” And that’s it. And it works. It works for us. Now, do you and your husband eat the same foods?

Deborah Niemann 18:32
We mostly do. Yeah. And, really the only time that dinner is any different is pizza night, because I have a gluten-free crust and no cheese, whereas, you know, my husband has a regular wheat-flour crust and cheese on his. But otherwise, we really don’t. What happens is, if he wants bread with a meal, he makes bread. It’s kind of funny, because like, anybody that’s got my earlier books, like Homegrown and Handmade and EcoThrifty—they all have bread recipes in them. And years ago, I was the bread lady at the Mother Earth News Fairs. That was, like, the very first talk I ever did at a Mother Earth News Fair. It was about homemade bread. And I did that for years, until one day I could not eat bread anymore and decided like, “Okay, well. I’m not doing this talk anymore if I can’t eat bread.

Shawna Coronado 19:31
You can’t. No. And I make a homemade bread. I call it “The Grain-Free Bread Bite.” And it’s made from almond flour. And then, you can use olive oil, or another oil, and mix it with herbs. So, when I crave bread, this bread is microwave. It takes me two minutes to put it together, and put it in the oven, and make it. Literally.

Deborah Niemann 19:52
Oh, wow.

Shawna Coronado 19:53
I know! And so, it’s really nice being a little creative and making something that feels like bread, even though it’s not. But I don’t know about you, I don’t like… I found that any kind of substitutes are substitutes, and they don’t taste the same. So, the secret to this is you can’t expect that almond bread to taste like, you know, a loaf of bread. You have to appreciate it for what it is. Once in a while, I add a couple tablespoons of cocoa to it and mix it up, and you’d think it would taste like chocolate, but instead it almost tastes like black bread. You know, like a…

Deborah Niemann 20:31

Shawna Coronado 20:32
Yeah. Yeah! It tastes very much like a pumpernickel. It’s weird. And it’s also good. Like, I like that for a change once in a while, too. So the eating thing is about—the biggest complaints are—people say, “Oh, you know, I don’t like to substitute, so now I just have a horrible life and can’t eat cheese.” Like, herbs, roasting, all of these things that increase the flavors that you have, everything from raw vegetables, to your meats, means that your whole family will want to eat on your food plan, and it will taste better to everybody. So, that’s the secret. The secret is flavor. And getting more people interested in your family in eating.

Shawna Coronado 21:17
I’m glad that you guys share a lot of the same meals. It’s helpful, because you live and work on a farm where you know where your meat is coming from. You really know your ingredients. And that makes a huge difference.

Deborah Niemann 21:30
Yeah, and my husband still makes cheese. And in fact, he probably makes way too many cheesecakes. I think there’s almost always a cheesecake in the refrigerator.

Shawna Coronado 21:41

Deborah Niemann 21:42
Yeah. And I just, I just ignore it. Like, I don’t even think about eating it anymore. Which, if you would have told me that seven years ago, I would have been like, “Oh, you poor thing. I feel so sorry for you.” And this is the thing that people don’t realize. They’re like, “How can you not eat those foods? They’re so good.” And it’s like, “You know what? Once you see the connection, it would be like saying to me, ‘Would you like to stab yourself with this fork?'”

Shawna Coronado 22:07
I so agree! You know, at the end of that 30 days, I was blown away at the reactions. Like, if I eat cheese, my body, my sinuses, my gut—and a lot of the reaction that I would have would be gut-related. I was so shocked at the extreme reaction that I had when I tried to reintroduce food. And it’s because, before, I ate it all the time, and I didn’t have an extreme reaction. Well, that’s because I was eating all of the stuff all of the time; my body was completely overwhelmed. No wonder I developed so many health problems, you know? And this was my body trying to cope with an overabundance of a bunch of crappy food it didn’t need. So, when I selectively do one at a time, I’m always shocked at what the reaction is.

Shawna Coronado 23:00
Right now—in fact, we were just talking before we started this discussion publicly. You know, I’m working on an issue right now that I’m having; the doctors diagnosed me with a histamine problem. And that means that I need to change my diet again, refine it a bit. And, you know, years ago—that histamine diet is very restrictive—would have been shocking and horrible to me. And now it’s like, “Okay, I got this.” You know, we make a big deal of switching to a healthy food plan. But the reality is, is that you become used to your pattern. I’ve known I had a histamine issue for a long time, and I ignored it. And this is what we do. You know, we ignore whatever. We’re like, “Oh, no. No. It’s not that bad.” And then we end up at a physician… Well, my physician… A couple weeks ago, I had pneumonia. And I’m so healthy. Everything, and I have—because I moved to Arizona—I have lower humidity rates, you know, so my allergies are at the lowest they’ve ever been. What happened? And the doctor felt that I was having a histamine reaction with some drainage. That—it’s just a little. It’s a trickle. And it ended up in my lungs. And there you have it. Like, I wasn’t even aware that it was forming. And so, we have to pay attention to the foods that we eat, because food is the cure. Pain medication is not the cure.

Deborah Niemann 24:23
Yeah, well, all it does is cover up symptoms. And I actually—and at the time, I was furious at my body. Because, like, I started taking anti-inflammatories, and within two weeks, my stomach was a complete and utter mess. I was in so much pain, and they then proceeded to prescribe five different anti-inflammatories, each time with the promise, “Oh no, this one won’t bother your stomach. Really, this one won’t bother your stomach.” And they all did, and after five, I said, “This is ridiculous. I’m not doing this anymore. I’m not going to ruin my stomach.” Just, like, pick your pain. You know, do you want to have pain in your neck or your stomach? And I just said, “No, I’m not going to do that anymore.” So I had to find a different answer.

Shawna Coronado 25:13
And that’s it. We’re all individuals. So, at the beginning of my cookbooks, at the very beginning is the actual plan—the food plan—that will tell you how to eat an anti-inflammatory food plan. It’s legitimately, like, the whole plan is laid out. “Here’s what you eat. Here’s what you don’t eat. Here’s the 30-day elimination. Here’s how you do it.” And both of the books that I have out have that same plan at the beginning. And my goal is to teach people about the elimination plan. The thing I can’t do is telling people that they need to be on the Keto, or the Paleo, or the grapefruit juice diet, or the whatever diet. Unless you’re a medical doctor, I’m very frustrated with all of the stuff that you find out online, which really pushes people into an unhealthy space. And having a general anti-inflammatory food plan, and then going to your doctor or nutritionist and working on a specific health plan for your total body—like an integrative functional nutritionist would guide you with—that’s the goal, is to get yourself healthy. Your whole body. And it’s more than just the food plan that does that.

Shawna Coronado 26:25
Now, the anti-inflammatory plan that I promote is really a variation of the Mediterranean. And the Mediterranean diet has been recommended for almost 100 years for heart health specifically, but it is really great for almost everything—but I do a dairy-free, grain-free version. I occasionally have rice. Like, if I go to a restaurant, once in a while I’ll eat some rice. But you know, I keep it down. And so that plan, then, is a starting point for someone to jump off and find their health in more detail. You know, what’s the next step of their food plan? So, once you eliminate the foods that are triggering you, then you can take that list to the doc and say, “Hey, here’s what I’m having problems with. Where do we go from here? And do I have a specific health condition?” You know, just saying, “I’m going to be on the Keto, or the Paleo, or the, you know, grapefruit juice diet,” is not going to enable you to discover that.

Deborah Niemann 27:25
Yeah, and what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another person. One of the things that I did six years ago, after I realized how much diet helped me, was that I got certified as a health coach. And one of the instructors, she was always looking for the best diet. And so, she talked about how she and her husband both went on a Paleo diet. And they would go see the doctor together, and, you know, they have all their blood work and stuff. And they’re sitting there, and the doctor looks at her husband and goes, “Wow, this is amazing! Like, your cholesterol is down, and this looks better, and this looks better, and you know, you’re doing great. Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it.” And then he looks at her, and he says, “Okay, your numbers are just terrible. Like, your cholesterol went up.” And so, it was like, they were both eating exactly the same diet. But it helped him, and it made her—

Shawna Coronado 28:24
Didn’t help her.

Deborah Niemann 28:25
No! It made her worse, like, with all of the numbers that her doctor was looking at.

Shawna Coronado 28:30
This is why we need the doctor. Also, we need a health care professional, be it a nutritionist—if you don’t want a traditional doctor, I get that. But please, go to a professional as a part of this process, because it really helps you figure out what to eliminate and how to stay on the plan.

Deborah Niemann 28:48
And also, I love getting my blood work done. I’m lucky that my husband has a job where every September we get to have our blood work done. And so, that way I knew right away when I became vitamin D-deficient. Which, so many people living up here in the frozen Northland do become vitamin D-deficient after they hit 50. Like, a horrible combination of not enough sun, and now our hormones have gone against us, too.

Shawna Coronado 29:10
Yes, a double whammy, I found out that I have almost too much vitamin D now, so I’m pulling back on my vitamin D. Which is funny, because I suffered SAD when I lived in Chicagoland. I was really sad—the gray really got to me—but now I have, like, an overabundance of light and sunshine, and it’s been absolutely fantastic. And so, who knew? Like, I didn’t even think that you could have too much, but you can.

Deborah Niemann 29:40
So, I have a question about your last book, Stacked with Flavor: Healthy Snacks. Because, I think snacks are, like, the biggest challenge for a lot of people. They feel like, “Okay, yeah, so I can plan meals. But what happens at three or four o’clock in the afternoon if I’m hungry?” You know, if you’re in an office, you go to the vending machine. What are some of the really simple snack ideas that you can share with people?

Shawna Coronado 30:08
First of all, I have to give a tip on meal planning: snack planning. When you meal plan, you should also snack plan. So, if you’re one of these people that, you know, say on Sunday you spend all day cooking, and you cook out the rest of the week, you put it all in the fridge or freezer, you’re good to go—I want you to do the same thing for whatever your snacks might be. So for example, one of my favorite snacks, Auntie Lolo’s Raw Cauliflower Dip. And what this is, is a curry dip. But, what is also really good with raw cauliflower is horseradish mayo; you can make it yourself. You get a little mayo, you get a little horseradish, you just mix it together. So, you don’t need a fancy recipe for this. And what you get is… I, then, have maybe a cup—some days, if I’m really hungry, I’ll even put two cups of raw cauliflower in—and I break it up into a little popcorn-sized bits. And then, I do this little dip. I don’t even… Like, I don’t do a schmear; I do a dip, and then take a bite. And so, while I’m sitting at the computer, it feels like I am eating something that is like a chip or, you know, something crunchy. Now, I also do that theory of “the bite.” I sound like I’m a toddler here, because we used to do this with our toddlers with Cheerios, but I do it with blueberries, also. I’ll get an entire pint of blueberries, and I’ll just sit and just eat them, one at a time. And it sounds ridiculous. But it gives you that satisfaction of, you know, kind of a snacky feel that you wouldn’t get if you just, you know, threw it all in your mouth. And you’re also stretching it out over a period of time. So, I do that with the cauliflower. And, I also do that with blueberries and berries of all kinds. That kind of fruit.

Shawna Coronado 31:56
Now, another thing that I really like: I call them “Rainbow Snack Boats.” This is another thing that you don’t need a recipe for. This is romaine lettuce. And essentially—here’s the recipe—fill up your romaine lettuce boats with whatever you got, and drizzle a little olive oil over the top. That’s it. It’s so, so easy. And this is a real snack snack, because you could eat it off a paper plate or out of a little container. You can pre-prep it. And then, when you have this snack is you’re having something that you take and you bite and you chew, so it feels almost sandwich-like. Now, if you put avocado on top of that, then you have something that’s creamy as well. So, the secret to snacking and remaining on your snack plan is not that you have to eat raw carrots every day of your life. You know, I remember, like, in the 80s, my mom always had carrots and celery, and this was her only snack, and that is so unrewarding. You need a bit of fat. Back in the 80s, too, we talked a lot about how fat was bad for you. And yes, saturated fat is bad for you; certain oils with heavy saturated ingredients—not good for you. But the bottom line is that a little bit of fat is really good for your brain. It helps you think, it helps you remember, and it helps you be less fuzzy. So, I eat a significant amount of fat. So, those are two snacks that you don’t have to have a fancy recipe for.

Shawna Coronado 33:28
Here’s another one: Herb-Marinated Olives. You can actually get these, like, at the grocery store. We… Back in Illinois, it used to be Dominic’s. Remember, Dominic’s had this big olive bar? I think Whole Foods does now. But, the olive bars have gone away, and they now have them prepackaged. Now, I grew up with black olives only, and that’s all I would eat. They’re super mild, you know, so they don’t have a lot of flavor to them. And you slice up herbs, and drizzle a little olive oil, and you mix them up. This olive mix is actually a mix of Kalamata olives, Greek olives, and then the traditional green olive, so it’s all these mixed together. I don’t like seeds in my marinated olives, so I get the kind that have been seeded, so there’s no seeds or anything like that. And then, when you mix the herbs with them. And my favorite herbs, I like thyme—fresh thyme if I have it—or I’ll grab some basil at the same time that I grabbed the olive oils, and I’ll slice up the basil, mix olive oil with it. It’s delicious, and it has a really impactful flavor. So, if you are feeling flavorless, a few olives can make a big difference. And if you don’t like the Kalamata and that’s too strong, you can just go with black olives and, you know, get a can of olives and do it that way. Again, small bites that have a big impact.

Shawna Coronado 34:55
I’m trying to think of my other favorite thing to do… I love blackberries. And, when you’re talking about berry benefits, there’s a lot of benefits to berries. And so, I do blackberries and blueberries, primarily, Blackberry is big; it has a bit of different nutritional benefits than a blueberry does, and it has more fiber. And in the end, fiber is the secret. If you have diabetes, you have any kind of chronic health problem, fiber is better for you. Fiber in general is something that most people lack. And, when I went to get, like, a bottle of fiber—you know how you can go to the vitamin area and find things with fiber? The fiber in that pill that you take is so low. It’s nothing at all like eating chia seeds or something like that. And most of those things have a lot of extra ingredients in it besides fiber that you don’t need. I wouldn’t even bother with that. Instead, I’d rather use real fiber. You know, seeds and psyllium—anything that would be better to eat directly rather than, you know, eat it in pill form.

Deborah Niemann 36:14
Well, this has been so much fun. And, I think this information is gonna be really helpful to a lot of people. If somebody wants to connect with you, where can they find you online?

Shawna Coronado 36:23
They can find me at my website! Just go to You can find me there; I think I’m the only Shawna Coronado on the internet, so I don’t think it will be tough to find me. And when you’re out there, I have a list of all my books and things right on the screen; you can just click through if you’re interested in getting them. And my favorite thing that I’m doing right now is I have a membership group. If you feel lonely, and are struggling to stay on your food plan, and want somebody to help you stay accountable, I’m your gal. And we have a monthly membership. And if you join, you can come. I do things almost every day. About every other day, I post tips, ideas, recipes. We have guides that are for free, you know, as part of the membership, and we’re going to be expanding the membership soon. So, now’s a great time to get in. It’s still in the beta form. You can just go to my website, and click on, and join my membership. I would love to have you.

Deborah Niemann 37:21
Awesome! Thanks so much for joining us today!

Shawna Coronado 37:23
Okay, thanks for having me!

Deborah Niemann 37:26
And that’s it for today’s episode. You can find show notes at, as well as a transcript. If you haven’t already done so, be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss any future episodes. You can also find Thrifty Homesteader on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. See you next week on “Sustainability Book Chat.”

healthy snacks and anti-inflammatory cookbook

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