All posts in Wellness

Watermelon & Feta Salad

Watermelon & Feta Salad

This salad is a great recipe for summer’s end! Serve it at a barbeque or as a fresh side dish at any dinner gathering!


  • 1/4 watermelon, cut into bite sized cubes
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 15-20 small black olives, pitted and sliced
  • 3-4 oz feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Combine all ingredients in a medium salad bowl. Gently stir until until all ingredients are lightly coated with balsamic vinegar.


How to make progress toward a healthier you

How to make progress toward a healthier you

If you’re like most people, getting healthier is at the top of your mind. But thinking about it and actually making it happen are two different things. Today I offer some steps to get you started down a path of making progress toward a healthier you. These are steps I take each of my clients through to help them build a solid foundation for a healthier lifestyle. Coaching tip: It’s not enough to simply be motivated! Change is more likely to happen when you approach it deliberately.

  1. Identify what would be possible with good health. In other words, what do you want your health for? When you find the answer to this question, you’ll have found your TRUE reason for working toward a healthier lifestyle.
  2. Create a clear goal that feels challenging but not impossible. It’s important to stretch yourself, but it’s not worth your time to set goals you know you won’t have desire, energy or capacity for. Create a goal that will push you beyond your comfort zone but isn’t too much for you to handle. Confidence is important! Check out this article on goal setting from BeWell@Stanford.
  3. Remember that accountability is key. In other areas of our life – like at work – accountability is a given. We check in with our bosses to make sure we’re on track with projects, and we use systems like checklists and project plans to track our progress. An accountability system is important for our health and wellness too! As you work to change, ask yourself, “who can I check in with?” or “how can I keep track of my accomplishments?”

Want to learn more about my health coaching process and how it can help you improve your health? Contact me to schedule an introductory call (there’s no charge!).


Add Avocado to your plate!

Add Avocado to your plate!

Looking to add something delicious AND healthy to your diet? How about avocado?

Avocados are a source of healthy fat, fiber and other beneficial nutrients. Read this informative article about avocado by Dr. Andrew Weil to learn more about this incredible fruit!

Here are some simple recipes that will help you add avocado to your plate.

  • @ Breakfast: Whole grain toast topped with 1 sunny side up egg + sliced avocado
  • @ Lunch: Plate of mixed greens with diced chicken breast, sliced avocado, fresh strawberries, olive oil and vinegar
  • @Dinner: Brown rice bowl with black beans, diced tomato & onion, and sliced avocado


Want to get back on track with healthier behaviors? Learn more about how I can help.


How to upgrade your brown bag lunch with healthier foods

How to upgrade your brown bag lunch with healthier foods

If you’re packing your lunch, chances are you’re striving to make healthy choices. Good for you! But keep this in mind – not all brown bag lunches are equal. Just because you packed it doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Here I offer some tips for creating a healthy lunch rich in WHOLE, FRESH and REAL foods, and free of unwanted ingredients like artificial flavors, artificial colors, preservatives, additives and sugar – all which I categorize as NON-food ingredients. (Check out my blog post “Packing your lunch? Find out what’s really in your brown bag” to learn what foods to avoid).

Here are some tips to help get you started:

  • Color: Where there is color, there is nutrition! Lunches full of color are lunches rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, which we could all use more of!
  • Package-free: More times than not, a food in a package has been processed and contains added ingredients. Therefore it’s a modified version of the original food. So…focus on foods that aren’t packaged – i.e., whole, fresh foods – and your diet will automatically be higher in nutrients your body needs. 
  • Minimal Ingredients: When picking out foods that are packaged, aim for options that contain only a few ingredients. The fewer the better because it will help ensure that there’s less stuff – i.e., preservatives, additives, artificial colors, artificial flavors, added sugar.  Also – make sure you can recognize the names of the ingredients. If you can’t pronounce something, it’s likely unnecessary for your diet.

Here are some of my favorite go-to lunch foods:

Fresh fruit: a great source of natural fiber, fresh fruit also contains natural sugars (instead of added sugar!) to   fuel our bodies with energy. Better to get your sugar here because it’s paired with the fiber which will ensure a slower absorption by your body, keeping you from experiencing quick spikes in blood sugar.


hardboiled egg

Slices of Pepper / Original horizontal border with water's drop and real reflection

Fresh vegetables: Fresh vegetables are loaded with nutrients and there are endless options out there to create variety and flavor for your lunch. Try carrots one day and greens the next. Dip grape tomatoes or sliced peppers into homemade hummus or guacamole.





Hardboiled egg: Skip the processed lunch meat and go for this delicious and easy-to-prepare source of protein. Make a batch of eggs at the beginning of the week so they’re on hand to grab and go.



chia seedsChia Pod: Cha-cha-cha-chia!! The Chia Pod is one of my favorite snacks! If you like pudding, you’re going to love this sweet treat! What’s even better – this version of pudding is free of added sugar and is gluten and dairy free! If you’re not familiar with the health benefits of chia seeds, check out this informative article by Dr. Oz – these little seeds are full of Omega 3’s, fiber, protein and more. Want to make chia seed pudding at home? It’s easy! Check out my homemade recipe. 

hardboiled egg

Plantain Chips: Need a little crunch but want to avoid the fried potato chips? Good idea! Look no further, plantain chips are the answer! Trader Joe’s plantain chips are roasted and contain just three ingredients – plantains, oil and sea salt. chips


Looking to incorporate healthy habits like these into your routine? Not sure how to get started? Contact me to schedule an introductory health coaching session and we’ll create your next steps!


How to make your health kick stick in the New Year

How to make your health kick stick in the New Year

What are your New Year’s resolutions and are you sticking to them? The new year’s hype will soon be over, and if you’re like most people, you’ll struggle to keep up with changes. Here are some tips to help you make your health kick stick this new year.

  1. Put your health on your to-do list, every day. Your health is as important as your next client meeting, or that report you owe your boss, so make sure it’s front and center on your list of daily tasks.
  2. Dig a little deeper to find your motivation. Sure, it would be nice to get back into your favorite pair of jeans, but is that the real reason you want to make healthy choices this year? Think about why your health matters, and use that to drive your daily habits.
  3. Do something to support your health first thing in the morning. Review your list of resolutions and aim to incorporate a health supporting activity before you head out for the day. My top 2 morning habits: including leafy greens in my breakfast and drinking 20-30 oz of water.

Learn how I can support you in achieving better health in the new year.


Self-care during the Holidays

Self-care during the Holidays

Here are a few suggestions for managing stress during the holidays from Jennifer Gibson, PysD LLC

Although the holidays are a time for celebration and connection with the ones we love, they can also be a time of increased stress.  It is important to be mindful of our stress levels and the potential for adding to existing stress, so that we can make sure to truly enjoy connecting with our loved ones and celebrate the holidays.  Our loved ones will enjoy us more too, if we are enjoying ourselves.  Here are a few suggestions for managing stress during the holidays.

1. Keep to your routines as much as possible.
As much as you can maintain your sleep, regular diet, and exercise, the better you will feel during and after the holidays.  Don’t forget about any other stress-reducing strategies you use regularly, as they can come in handy.

2. It’s okay to say “no.” 
You may be invited to several gatherings between your children’s connections and your own.  Be mindful of the commitments you have made and the ones you are planning to make, and to say “no” to anything unneccesary.  You may feel bad saying “no,” but you will feel worse if you over-commit, depriving yourself of energy or enthusiasm for more cherished activities.

3. Stay within your budget. 
With the holidays can come increased expenses.  Be mindful of your budget and prioritize the things you want to purchase, and let go of the things you are tempted to spend money on that are not necessarily important.  You will feel much better after the holidays if you have left yourself in a good place financially when they are over.

4. Strained relationships. 
The holidays are known for bringing people together, which can be difficult when you are experiencing strained relationships with those you might see.  Take some time to yourself prior to these encounters, rehearse how you might handle these situations, and ground yourself in who you are.  Remember that you are never obligated to stay anywhere that you do not feel comfortable.

5. Loss. 
As much as we are excited to see the loved ones in our lives during the holidays, we can also be aware of the loved ones that are no longer with us.  If this happens to you, recognize when you are having feelings, accept them and allow yourself to experience them, and take care of yourself.  Go for a walk, call a close friend, or take a break from what you are doing and relax for a moment.  If you are aware of situations or circumstances that might elicit these feelings, prepare for them and have compassion for yourself.  There is a strong focus on family during the holidays, and although this may be difficult, it is an opportunity to work on feelings that may have been put aside for one reason or another.


Three tips for mindful eating this Thanksgiving

Three tips for mindful eating this Thanksgiving

There’s no way to avoid food on Thanksgiving, but we can avoid overeating it! Try these tips to help you slow down and eat more mindfully on Turkey Day.

#1: Stay hydrated
Drink water throughout the day. You’ll feel less hungry when meal time comes, and you’ll automatically redirect some of your attention away from the food and onto a healthy behavior. Plus, even though you’ll still indulge in stuffing and pie, your body will benefit from this healthy decision all day long.

#2: Leave room for dessert
It’s unlikely you’ll skip dessert on Thanksgiving, so do your body a (healthy!) favor by leaving room for it in your belly! Eating when you’re too full does nothing positive for your health, so pace yourself at dinner so that you can enjoy every bite at dessert.

#3: Give Thanks!
This holiday is about giving thanks, so rather than taking the day for granted, take a pause and think about all you have to be thankful for, including your health. Something else to give thanks for? Your food! A moment of thanks before your first bite will help you slow you down during meal time and appreciate your meal.

New Year, Health You Special! Purchase any Joy to Wellness Health Coaching Service between now and December 31st, 2014 and receive 10% off! Then, schedule your service for the new year or start now. (It’s up to you!)


Coconut Lentil Curry by Chef Susan Pachikara of Cardamom Kitchen

Coconut Lentil Curry by Chef Susan Pachikara of Cardamom Kitchen

This month I welcome Chef Susan Pachikara of Cardamom Kitchen who shares her recipe for Coconut Lentil Curry. Trust me when I say this recipe is AMAZING (and EASY to make!)

Serves 6


1 cup masoor dhal (red lentils)
½ cup diced onions
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 cups water
1¼ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon ground cumin
10 to 15 fresh curry leaves (optional)
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
2 cups coconut milk
2 teaspoons canola oil
1/8 teaspoon brown or black mustard seeds
1 dried red chili, torn in half


Place the dhal in a medium size saucepan. Rinse it several times and drain.

Add ¼ cup onions, garlic, water, salt, cayenne, cumin, curry leaves, and turmeric to the saucepan. Bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the dhal softens and expands, about 15 minutes. If foam forms on the surface, skim it off with a spoon.

Reduce heat to low and stir in coconut milk. Cook for 2 minutes.

Place the oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds. When they start to pop, immediately add the remaining ¼ cup onions and dried red chili and stir. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook until the onions begin to brown.

Swirl the seasoned onions into the dhal.

 Want to learn more from Susan about Indian cuisine? Sign up for her Culinary Tour of Devon Avenue! 

About Chef Susan:

Through cooking classes and culinary tours of Devon Avenue, Chef Susan offers home cooks and food lovers a portal to the authentic flavors of India. Her classes feature hands-on instruction for individuals or groups who want to bring the flavors of India home. Come discover the wonders of cardamom and curry leaves. Leave your passport behind. See for a sample of Susan’s favorite family recipes.  To schedule a cooking class or culinary tour, contact Chef Susan at


Three tips to help you avoid post-holiday guilt

Three tips to help you avoid post-holiday guilt

Do you fall off the healthy wagon during the holidays? It’s easy to use the holidays as an excuse to make bad decisions, but this just leaves us feeling guilty when the new year arrives. This year get ahead of the holidays so that you can stay healthy and happy all the way through. Follow these three easy tips:

Tip #1: Find a Partner in Health
Two key ingredients for getting to a healthier place in life and staying there are ACCOUNTABILITY and SUPPORT. To help with these, find a friend, coworker or family member to do healthy activities with – walks during your lunch hour, yoga on the weekend or a healthy cooking class. Keep each other posted on progress via text or Facebook.

Tip #2: Start Menu Planning Now
We all have good intentions for making healthy meals, but without a plan it’s easy to just give up and return to our unhealthy staples like grilled cheese or pizza. Same goes for the holidays. If you want to make a healthier holiday feast this year, start planning NOW. Search for healthy recipes and test them out ahead of time rather than waiting until the week before which will likely leave you stressed for time and returning to your usual menu. Find healthy ideas on Whole Foods Recipe Page where you can search by categories like dietary type (ex “sugar conscious”) or type of dish.

Tip #3: Ditch the “next year I’ll do better” mentality
Your health cannot be put on hold based on what time of year it is.  It’s time to ditch the “I’ll start my workout routine after the holidays” or “I deserve this because it’s Christmas” mentality and commit to your health once and for all. This doesn’t mean you’ll never eat a cookie again or you won’t experience temporary set backs. What it does mean is A NEW VIEW ON YOU, which is a healthy, balanced and consistent you.

Ready to get healthy once and for all? Check out my 3-Month Wellness Program!


Moms’ Wellness Event Provides Advice, Relaxation and Earth-Lovin’

September 25, 2014, by k.o. kidz Corp.

The premier wellness event of the season kicked off on Thursday, September 18th with ‘Back to School, Back to YOU!’ at Chicago’s acclaimed non-toxic day spa, Noktivo, in support of the National Farm to School Network.

Health and Wellness

k.o. kidz Corp. Founder and CEO, Karen Orlich joined Joy Duginske, Owner of Joy to Wellness Health Coaching, Candice Wu, MA-Holistic Therapist and Bianka Hardin, Psy.D. and Owner of Centered Therapy Chicago to provide healthy eating (and eco-friendly) advice for school lunches and stress relieving tips and techniques for moms.

This team really “walked the talk” in wellness by offering raw, organic juices provided by Earth’s Healing Café, organic wines, healthy fruit/veggie trays, superfood chia shots from The Chia Co., and complimentary spa sessions with Simple Beauty Naturals and massages from Tennille Jones, MELT Massage. Additionally, this green themed event had zero disposable waste by utilizing reusable, dry-erase nametags from Florida Badges, cloth napkins, garden herb “flower” arrangements, and ‘magbag’goodie bags (magazines repurposed to gift bags) provided by k.o. friendly

Joy Duginske, Certified Health Coach, began the evening’s presentation with some nutrition information from our public schools’ cafeterias. “Fries are considered a vegetable according to published nutrition standards,” stated Joy. “And, the chicken fingers have more than 30 ingredients.”

She highlighted an ‘unhealthy’ lunch that many of us feed our kids – peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole wheat bread,organic fruit yogurt squeeze pouch, multi-grain crackers, and pre-packaged trail mix (all packaged in plastic, disposable bags).These supposedly healthy sounding foods can be deceiving with sugar, salt, and preservatives in the top five ingredients.She emphasized the importance of eating whole foods (i.e. unprocessed food that is free from additives or other artificial substances) and reading food labels BEFORE you buy.

Karen Orlich, k.o. kidz, then shared her recommendations on eco-friendly back to school gear must haves for a truly healthy, ‘green’ lunch.

“20 million sandwich bags are thrown away every day in the U.S. It’s disgusting!” k.o. kidz researched and tested several reusable snack/sandwich bags and lunch boxes and found three U.S. based, mom owned and operated businesses that are committed to the environment. SnackTAXI, Bento-ware, and Dabbawalla were all highlighted for their exceptional, durable, and creatively designed products and were part of a give-away at the end of the night.

Aviary-Photo_130560723296248033-300x300Karen also added, “Over 2.5 billion disposable food and drink pouches are consumed every year in the United States.” The high cost and lack of recyclability of these pouches motivated Karen to design and develop a reusable, eco-friendly pouch for on-the-go use which she debuted at the event.

Bianka Hardin, Centered Therapy Chicago, continued the presentation with 7 tips to maintain a sense of calm in your family. Bianka began with ‘focus on yourself’ stating, “In order for us to be good parents and make good decisions,we need to take care of ourselves first. So, self-care is not selfish, it is the best thing parents can do for themselves and their families.” She emphasized that self-care is important for the whole family as well.

Bianka HardinAdditional tips included: ‘good enough is good enough’, ‘make regular and open communication a family habit’, ‘start small changes to make improvements’, and ‘get involved in community’. She concluded with ‘get support’ stating, “Anything that can help you feel
supported or better cope with stress will have a positive impact on your quality or life.”

Candice Wu, Holistic Therapist and Certified Yoga Instructor, closed the event with relaxation techniques and a meditation. “Mothers can be such a central and powerful force in the family, your self-care is essential” stated Candice. “Whenever we use the senses, energy goes outward, so when we bring the senses inward, we create renewed energy and bring healing to our bodies and minds.” She recommended several meditative and mindfulness exercises and/or a restorative yoga class to better cope with the stress of back to school.

Ohm to that!

For inquiries about this event, please contact Joy Duginske ( or Karen Orlich ( ).