A Healing Healthcare Campaign

I’ve been envisioning a new paradigm in healthcare for what seems like forever. In college, I drew a traditionally styled home with a wrap around porch, a garden, huge windows, a big, open kitchen and lots of green all around in East Austin. When I bought my home, it was eerily familiar and looks a lot like my drawing. The dream I had for the artist rendition of my home was to make it a healing haven, a place outside of a clinic or hospital, where people could come together, take classes in nutrition, herbalism, reiki, meditation, baby yoga, among other community- oriented activities.

The dream still stands and it feels like it’s becoming more and more a reality. As placed-based health becomes more of a priority in our society, I believe one day they’ll be a ‘doc’ on every block. ‘Doc’ can be a promotora, a community health worker, a nurse or a doctor. The thing about chronic care and disease, is that it has become very algorithmic. If you have type 2 diabetes, we draw your blood, monitor your A1C, give you metformin, another oral drug or insulin if it’s really bad and tell you to check back in 3 months. Sometimes we recommend nutrition classes, but even those are failing our patients with their ‘counting carbs’ illusion and myplate push.

This algorithm does not work. There needs to be an education and empowerment component that allows the patient to recognize they have control of their health. Patients, not their doctor or their genes, decide what the most desirable plan of care should be for their health. The best, most effective way to do this is through community and education. The most successful programs involve group visits or church programs or school-based clinics. Why? Because they involve teaching, true hands-on learning and super awesome community, allowing you to feel less alone and more able to fight against chronic disease and WIN!

About 4 years ago, I interviewed the now Chief Clinical Director of an entire hospital system. We chatted about how in a decade or so, doctors will not be the ones running the chronic care show. It will be diabetes, hypertension, obesity educators who have the disease and have been trained and educated. They can relay the basics of chronic illness and then target with lifestyle changes. This could be helping them change their diet, teaching them some culturally sensitive recipes or breathing techniques to calm their nervous system and decrease the amount of glucose that is released. They could host supper clubs that bring people from the neighborhood together, as community is the strongest of medicines. I remember that conversation vividly. It was inspiring to hear a doctor leave his ego at the door and actually give the power back to the patient, to those he served.

This is how I believe the future of medicine looks. It looks more like a little villages within our urban lifestyles and rural communities. There is one central space where the community can come together to learn about whatever interests them and they will be able to pick and choose their path to healing. We, the providers, will become (and in many cases have become) their partners and guides in health and wellness.

In May of 2017, I will be attending the Eugen-Kolisko Academy to study Anthroposophic Medicine. I will be training at the Filderklinik, which is one of the first fully Integrative Medicine hospitals in the world. This is the first step, I need to see what a truly healing space looks like and feels like and then I plan to come back and implement it at home.

I need help though, I need my community to come together to make this happen. I’ve started a crowdfunding campaign that you’re welcome to contribute to. I will be infinitely grateful for your support either in funding or sharing. But I also need your help to shape the dream into a real thing. I have a vision in my minds eye and I’ve consulted with a few of the groups I lead, but I would like to create a full blueprint of what it looks like before I leave. The people I’ve talked to tell me they want a garden, a teaching kitchen, integrative modalities of healing from physical therapy to dream interpretation and lots of learning from each other. The final product will be a blend of the best of conventional medicine combined integrative medicine and all the traditional wisdom in between.

This is already my reality. I’ve created this over the years from thoughts and experiences and interactions. Wayne Dyer said “You’ll see it when you believe it” and I’ve been believing in this vision for a long, long time and now I can almost see it.

And the beautiful thing is that it’s not just mine, it’s a dream for so many. I’m willing to dedicate my life’s work to making it happen. I’m fully and totally committed to healing the healthcare system. Will you help me?




Shiny Healthy SXSW

Once again, my most favorite time of the year, SXSW 2017!! It has taken on a whole new life this year, since I’ve entered the soberista world and have elevated my food as medicine drug, but honestly it feels better than ever. I woke up after having a dream about my dad, who passed in 2015. I literally squealed with glee when I opened my eyes, as I haven’t seen him since the day of his passing. This moment of bliss sent me into a tailspin of happiness and readiness for SX and getting crazy creative infusions from all the people from all the world. On my trek downtown, I saw a dude walking and looking at his phone with a badge. I looped around and asked if he wanted a ride and he did. Of course we talked about the usual: thyroid disease, essential oils, doctors becoming clowns after being burned out from medicine, film making, favelas, baile funk and at the end, we introduced ourselves at drop off. I LOVE SX!!

But in order to keep this high, high, I have to follow certain rituals, eat crazy nutritious, delicious food and hang with folks who embody and live as part of the high vibe tribe. Here we go!! Some of these are hangovers (the good kind) from last year.

Juice It UP
This is an easy way to get a nice, robust boost to your whole body and mind in the morning or afternoon. If you live here and you have a blender or juicer, invest in a big ass bottle of unfiltered, unsweetened apple juice. Wheatsville, HEB, Whole Foods all have their own version of this. Then buy a ton of organic greens like spinach, kale, celery, cucumbers, parsley. Add carrots, beets, ginger, some coconut oil, chia seeds and blend it with ice. Boom. Healthy greens, first thing. Trust me your body will thank you. If you’re from out of town, go to Juiceland and get the Tigerlily or Applelily. You can have them add some good stuff too.

Shots! Shots! Shots! Of Water                                                                                                      Buy a cool glass or metal water bottle and carry it all around town. Or drink ‘shots’ of water after each alcoholic beverage. This is actually Bill Murray’s hangover prevention tool. He taught it to me. Seriously. Right after he served me a Tito’s press at Shangri-la followed by a shot of water. Okay, maybe not. A girl can dream, can’t she? Our bodies are 70-75% water, this means if you overwhelm your system with crap in the form of food, drinks or drugs, then it has a hard time balancing and operating optimally. Plus it makes your skin look fabulous. Ideally, what I tell my patients is to drink 1/2 their body weight in ounces of water daily. Deal? Trust me, your stamina will go through the roof if you follow this one. And stamina and SX go hand in hand.

Turmeric Tea
Turmeric is my go-to feel good herb. My momma gave this to my poppa early in his Alzheimer’s disease, as its an anti-inflammatory powerhouse. It’s been used for 4,000 plus years and comes from the ginger family. It comes in root form or powder and functions as well as 800 mg of ibuprofen. I often tell my athletic friends to drink a jar of this turmeric tea post-workout. That means instead of killing your kidneys by taking ibuprofen after your all-night drinking binge, you can make this and feel even better! So here it is: boil some filtered water, add 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder, squeeze a half lemon, a couple drops of honey and a dash of black pepper, to activate the turmeric. Put over ice or drink as a warm tea and feel the anti-inflammatory goodness fill you up. AND, if you can’t make this happen and go to Manana Cafe on South Congress, you can get your golden milk fix from Dulci’s and her Golden Child deliciousness. Trust me, get this drink at least once in your time here, you will NOT regret it.

Unplug                                                                                                                                         Please, please, please disconnect from the little boxes of stimuli that rule most of our lives. Our precious existence requires to connect with other humans, trees, water, our food and ourselves and we rarely do that. Sitting here in front of my box, I look around writing and see three or four people sitting around a table all looking at their phones. A digital detox is so necessary for sanity. The more we’re connected, the more our anxiety increases. It’s science. This SX, I decided I would only use my phone in the morning and at night. I’m working really, REALLY hard to stay off FB and just write in my journal’ and transfer later. Life happens and I do have guests to take care of and a dear friend in town who may or may not need me at any moment, but I’m being super mindful about disconnecting for the most part.

MEDITATE                                                                                                                                        To continue the sentiment of unplugging and stillness, I HIGHLY recommend having a time for meditation. This SX makes it a little easier with places like PeaceBox and ‘Walk With a Monastic’ events, so check them out and dive in. My morning ritual consists of yoga, meditation and mantra and ends with “What would you have me do? Who would you have me meet? What would you have me say?” It really energizes me and sets the tone for my whole day. If you could give yourself the gift of even two minutes of silence first thing in the morning, you’re doing better than most. Russell Simmons says “If you don’t have 20 minutes, you need 2 hours” and I say, ‘if you don’t have 2 minutes, you need 2 days’. Your mind, body and spirit will thank you and I guarantee your SX will be elevated to an infinite degree with just a little self-care in mediation.

Eat at:

Forthright:  My new favorite coffee shop happens to be right smack in the middle of the action. Forthright is a great new spot that sources from local farms and vendors and prepares some super beautiful food and beverages. I’m particularly in love with their Ancient Grains bowl and after eating it in my afternoon slump, I feel energized all over again. They also have delicious avocado toast and daily soup specials, which have all been delicious and amazing. Come here, STAT and get your grains, veggies and homemade cashew milk on!

Koriente: Another downtown hotspot that I’ve been frequenting for almost a decade has some of the tastiest simple Asian food done right. My go-to is the Garden Handroll that I’ve replicated at home a few times, but did not do it justice. The bowls are fantastic and the Bibimbap are insane. Lunch includes a free salad and soup and pickled cucumbers that I put on everything. Make a stop here and make your belly and brain super happy.

Bento Picnic and Rock Climbing: Two in one for this one. If you go to my rec from last year, Austin Bouldering Project. A day pass gets you access to the gym, yoga classes, and bouldering and will put you back a mere $16. Shoes are free to borrow on your first visit. I live down the block from the gym, so my day will likely start with some climbing, a sauna session and maybe some yoga, if I can get there early enough. They’re super nice folks and the community is rad. THEN, you can eat delicious, flavorful, Bento Picnic from the great Leanne Valenti and her brilliant culinary imagination. My favorite is the Salmon and Tofu Charashi Bowls and the guacamame (edamame guacamole) is out of this world. It’s a nice escape from all the downtown madness with just as much fun and creative energy.

Kebabalicious: Influenced by his Peruvian and Turkish background, delicious food homeboy, Chris Childre has this great spot in East Austin that has grown from a food truck. My favorites are not the healthiest, but still life-affirming for sure. The Turk Salad, Mezza Platter and K-Fries are probably my top picks, but everything there is on point. Plus it’s open until midnight on Friday and Saturday, score for late night yummies!!

I still highly recommend my old stand bys that I wrote about last year. You can check them out here.

Bath Time and Sleepy Tea 

Tiny Taiga is a sweet little ‘heal goods and soul treats’ store on E. 11th street that I recommend checking out. I was given some of their muscle relaxing, super-stressed mind tea as a gift for V-day and whoa, does it relax the hell out of you. Drinking their tea plus rubbing some lavender oil on the bottoms of your feet and into your pillow will allow you to get a goodnight’s rest so you can go all day and all night all over again. Or if you wanna get really crazy, try a lavender oil bath and soak your weary bones after a day of drinking, walking, talking, eating and dancing.

So that’s it. There are so many other ways to stay healthy and happy during this wonderful time of the year in Austin, including boosting your plant-based veggie intake as often as possible in between the deliciousness that is Austin BBQ and fried brussel sprouts. Our bodies and brains can work at their peak and still enjoy life to the fullest without feeling lethargic, bloated and yucky.

Basically, just chill out, eliminate FOMO and technology every chance you get. FOMO actually increases stress hormone, leading to immune system suppression and acne and no one needs that business during SX. Get your intention set for the day, release expectations and just have fun. Oh and laugh, laugh as much as possible. Go see a comedy show, a funny new film, or sit with people who help put those belly muscles to work.

Here is my intention: Leave the phone at home or off, no FB (except for tonight for my live BeautyCounter guest event), open my mind, heart and spirit even further, connect deeply to strangers who are into it, make lots of blends for my sweet supporters, meet 111 new brothers and sisters, eat delicious food, see incredible music and have a blast doing it all.

Happy SXSW, everyone!!


Thank you to I.Em.Strong and Melisa Santillano for helping me put this piece together. Team work makes the dream work!! <3 to you my familia!


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Dementia and A Call To Return To The Village

When my dad was at his worst, I was desperate for friends and family. I moved back to El Paso on two occasions to try to help him, but mostly provide respite for my mom who was his main caretaker for 13 years at that time. I was proud, too proud, a trait carried on from the women in my family, so asking for help or assistance was not in my operating system. My mom wasn’t asking for help either, we felt we could carry the burden forever.

Until we couldn’t. The second return back home showed me how badly my dad needed outside help. That is when I began to write, vigorously, in journals, on this site, on the socials. I realized my need for others was greater than my pride and suffering alone. The moment I reached out, my village found me. I was helped on all sides. If we had an issue with the VA, experts told me step by step what to do to solve my problem. If he ran away, I posted on FB and called out to my police officer cousin to send out the troops. When he became manic, my mom’s neighbor called me up and told me that it was time to give up care and find a safe place for him and my momma. The village ran to our rescue, time and time again and it brings me to tears in gratitude, knowing they saved us.

Dementia is an interesting monster. In someways, I feel the person with the disease intends to forget their demons. In the case of dementia or at least in my dad’s case, his illness was more for us. It was for me to learn how to let go of pride, to be vulnerable and allow others to render aid. For my momma, I know the lessons were vast, but she can tell her story when she’s ready.

What I also learned is that I need others. That it truly takes a village, for any and all circumstances. My friends, family, strangers in person and online allowed me to find peace in company and it provided a sense of community that I now work so hard to establish wherever I go. My dad was like that, he was the community builder of each and every connection. In Chicago, we would host parties and gatherings all the time. When we moved to El Paso, they were less frequent, but he still always loved a good time among people.

A month after he passed, the meeting I was hosting went on, though I couldn’t be there. I wrote a letter to the attendees, doctors, medical students, nurses, PAs, PTs, energy workers, healers all types who came together and ate, drank and shared stories. I heard it was great. Here is part of the letter that my co-host Melisa read:

“Community as medicine, that’s my passion these days, that’s why I told James Maskell I would start this meet-up in Austin. My dads sole purpose and proudest days were spent working as a medical social worker in Chicago coordinating care that included doctors, nurses, home health aides, dieticians, physical therapists and other modalities coming together for the benefit of the patient. This is what I hope to accomplish with our group, creating a cadre of like-minded professionals who connect, consult, share best practices, refer and build relationships for the benefit of our patients. Reach out to the stranger next to you, learn stories, exchange information and find out how you can help each other and your patients.”

I’ve always been fascinated with Redwood Trees. They are the tallest known species of tree in the world and can grow up to 350 feet, some historically even taller. Redwoods, born of resilience, have a strong line of defense against disease and fire. They stand strongly from a few hundred years up to 2,000 years. The most amazing part about them and perhaps the reason they resonate so loudly with me, is their roots. Their root system can extend outward up to 100 feet, creating connections with their brothers and sisters around the forest, making them stronger, more resilient and ready to take on the world sharing it’s magnificent and powerful glory along the way.

Let’s take a cue from nature on this one. And from the disease that will take over in less than a couple decades. I believe that my dad’s Alzheimer’s disease was a call to return to the village. If we had a community, if more than our two neighbors knew him, his disease, his inclinations and how to keep him safe, it would have saved us so much pain and heartache. I see it all around me, I see my friends, my patients, their suffering, they’re inability to understand this terrible disease and their need for community.

But above that, we need community, connection and compassion now more than ever. We need to get out of our comfort zone and turn off our pride and really get to know each other. Have peaceful and open conversations about the future, our fears and our vulnerabilities. Like I said in my letter to that man who sits in the president chair, “In fact the immigrants from all parts of the world that you speak of are actually the kindest, most compassionate, salt of the earth folks that I have had the pleasure of working with and treating. Actually, most patients, immigrants and American-born, have this disposition. They are all human beings and when you peel back their skin, they want the exact same that everyone else on this planet wants, love, validation and a chance to make a life for themselves and their family.”

I believe with my entire heart this can be done with acceptance, compassion, community and allowing our roots to reach out to those around us, carrying us through the flood, the fire and overwhelming fear into the love and the light.

Good Girl Gut

We know you well, good girl gut. It’s the gut that took us through our pre-teens full of belly aches galore. The one that had you under chronic care of a doctor who called it ‘functional abdominal pain’ and pumped you full of reflux drugs and maybe some pain medicine. It’s the reason I stayed home almost every Monday from school, for my otherwise symptomless belly pain.

For many of us it was abdominal pain. For others it was nail biting, hair picking, throat clearing, super acne, teeth grinding. Some manifested throat issues early on, thyroid, chronic tonsillitis, strep throat or cancers. And finally some of us came in strong in our power center with crazy painful cramps, endometriosis, chronic cystitis, dysplasia, HPV. But most lived through a combination of the above suspects, always coming and going, often dissipating for a moment leaving us wondering how we could capture calm again.

We grew up ready to please the world, not wanting to make too much noise, rock the boat, squeak the wheel. We were the quiet ones with good grades and an aim for perfection. A single disparaging word destroyed our world. The ultra-sensitives, the black sheep, the feel too much, we were. Our schedules were full of the activities we thought would make our parents most proud. We followed the path most traveled and dreamed of the well-known life.

We aspired to be doctors, lawyers, CEOs, and presidents. Or maybe the stay at home wife, life. Wanted the perfect husband, the 2.5 kids, the picket fence, the Dior purse, the Benz. We had our lives planned out before we hit puberty and our wedding dress picked out once we did.

Me, I wanted the Lakeshore Drive condo with floor to ceiling windows and a view of Lake Michigan. I wanted to wear the white coat, marry the Chicago Bear or Bull, drive the beamer, send my kids to an academy among princes and celebrities. I dreamed of dinners at fancy restaurants with four dollar signs and tiny plates.

I wanted to work with animals at age five, but knew by age nine that zoologists didn’t make enough money to buy my high rise life. So my sights were set on gold and I pursued it passionately until it became my obsession.

We worked our minds and bodies to the bone. We excelled in every aspect of life, made everyone proud. Got the nod from society that all was right and we showed them. Meanwhile, we slowly repressed our true desires and dreams. The wanderlust, the free spirit, the fickle, the wild, the passionate was quelled at every debut. Eventually we placed them into box, locked it up, stored it deep into a closet and said goodbye. We asked it to stay put until the day we died.

Until we reached our 20’s and everything we believed about life was challenged. All those milestones we aimed to meet from the day our bellies began to ache seemed impossibly far away. The stress of life came down hard, the expectations from inside of us, came in even harder. Perhaps drugs entered the equation or alcohol. Maybe boys and seduction. Probably a combination of all. We searched for fulfillment and success from others. We won more accolades, more degrees, more ‘acceptance’ from the world. We craved another life, a life that never existed, the life of perfection.

Or maybe we outsourced our wisdom. We started consulting with therapists, counselors, doctors, mentors, psychics, energy workers. We spent our days with chiropractors or acupuncturists, adopted mommas and poppas. We looked outside of ourselves for the details and the job description about the way to ride this wave called life. Sometimes as they talked to us or treated us, threads of the voice in our gut said, “oh yes, you know this, that’s what I’ve told you a few times, that sounds familiar”

Then it hit us, like a ton of bricks. That good girl gut couldn’t handle it anymore and it began to fire up. But now, with stress, life, work, school, debt, kids, marriage, mortgage we didn’t know what to do. Maybe we’ll suppress for another few decades? What if you kept quiet just a little bit longer? But deep down we knew the truth. We knew we could no longer keep that box in the closet.

For me, an autoimmune disease to remind me that I was not loving myself, so my body attacked itself in revolt. It called me to say, ‘you’re hiding your truth’. As long as I felt unworthy, my own antibodies would be there to confirm it. My power center screaming at me and I just ignored it, praying it would go away. I told it to shut up and continued on the path I had trained myself to believe I had to walk.

I changed my food to the cleanest I knew. I started exercising regularly, pushing myself like I did as a gymnast. I continued following the rules, coloring inside the lines of the life most traveled. I did all the things those outsiders tell you to do.  Still I suffered, still my gut told me ‘you’re deviating from your truth once again’

But I continued on. My good girl gut would not get the best of me, knowing deep down that eventually it would.

And then it did. I had to change or live a painful existence denying my truth. A little tiny voice from far inside of my gut whispered to go within. I remembered that all the answers were still there, in that box stored away long ago. It told me that no amount of outside love, attention, food, approval, awards, success, accomplishments, purses, cars, homes, or money would make me whole. Not a single thing would heal my good girl gut until I got right within.

So I listened. I abandoned ship. I surrendered. I let go.  I left that relationship and those friends. I left the life I worked so damn hard to build and set out to rediscover my truth. I slowly opened the box to reveal what it had inside and it was beautiful and terrifying. Until I realized that the only limits and the only judgements had come from me and the reality I decided to create for myself.

Good girl gut and I worked through the madness together. We pieced together the cosmic contract we had signed long ago. It was the hardest work I’ve ever done, but the most worthwhile. I explored, I dug, I cried, I failed, I walked to the brink and almost jumped, I reached the highest highs and the lowest lows, but we’re still here. And we continue to heal, always checking in with my GGG to make sure we’re on the path less traveled, the one that was meant for me.

Our truth, the most powerful of medicines. If you can get back to yours, you’ll never want to leave. It’s not easy (or it’s as easy as you will it to be). It takes time, due diligence, dedication and desire. But it’s there and waiting for you to open it and give it life once again.

The world is waiting for your boldness and your brilliance. The choice is up to you, it always has been, good girl.

Why Do We Continue To Medicate Instead of Educate?

I remember a time I looked down at my schedule for the day and it was a whopping 23 patients. You may say that’s not very many, particularly if you’re in deep with the assembly-line medicine world. 23 is cake. In fact, my Ob/Gyn friend he said he had 60 on his 8-hour Monday and there is a legendary NP in East El Paso who sees 80 patients in a 12-hour day. But for me 23 was a ton, especially in a rural internal medicine practice with highly complex and vulnerable patients. That meant that I had 18 minutes with each patient with an hour lunch.

18 minutes to:

  • review their chart, their meds, their labs, if they had been in the hospital, what they were there for
  • to get their history (after not seeing them for 3, 6, 9 or 12 months), document their acute and chronic concerns
  • examine them thoroughly based on their chief complaint or if they’re there for a physical
  • titrate, change, discontinue, add medications
  • order labs, imaging, home health, screening tests
  • sign disability papers, prior authorizations, work/school notes
  • educate them on a myriad of lifestyle changes, their medications and side effects or their newest chronic disease diagnosis
  • answer any questions they may have about their health and disease or their overall life and wellbeing
  • get to know them, understand them, listen to their worries, stressors, concerns
  • finish up chart, get them set for their next steps, say goodbye

Oh, that’s why we don’t educate instead of medicate. It makes perfect sense. There is no time in the big bad world of the business of assembly-line medicine.

Screw that. This has to change. It is changing. When we go into medicine, we’re in it to help others heal. Doctor comes from the word in latin for “to teach”. That’s what we’re supposed to do as clinicians, TEACH!

You ask me how to do it, you just do. I was the same as you not too long ago. I worked in Urgent Care in a rural clinic. During the flu season we would see anywhere from 40-60 patients between two PA’s. It was brutal. In my first year there, there was no lunch, no bathroom breaks, no time to breathe.

And now I work at a community urgent care with the same patient load, sometimes more with two advanced practice providers and a doctor. But instead of running around like a chicken without a head dealing drugs in a pill mill, I sit and educate. I have a five step program I follow and quickly assess where my patients are in the stages of change. If they just want a script, it’s theres. If they’re hungry for something more, I provide that too. If they’re somewhere in the middle, we work with them at that point. You have to meet your patients where they are. Change doesn’t come from your directions, authority, expertise, it originates from them.

So I can tell you with full confidence that it is possible to educate instead of medicate. I can also tell you that patients are now changing and craving this type of interaction. In my clinic, about 70% of my patients ask me about healthy food choices, apple cider vinegar, essential oils and breathing techniques. They talk about their sister or neighbors who use home remedies over medications. Things like cinnamon for blood sugar, chamomile tea bags for eye swelling, turmeric raw honey salve for abscesses. I encourage them to take control of their health by trying these tools, but if something goes awry then check in with us.

You also have to be an advocate for your patient. Take the time to be present with them and watch how time expands. That’s how I made my change, I just took it. I thought about my desired end result, happier, healthier patients and I began to just take the time to educate them and listen to their stories.

I understand I operate in a different realm. I’ve paid off my loans, I have some credit card debt and all I really have is my mortgage. I don’t live in constant fear of being fired. I’ve had enough jobs to know that clinics need PAs and I’ll always have opportunities as one. Once you start to work from this perspective, fear dissipates and you begin to do what’s best for you and your patient.

But until then, help your patient take those baby steps. The educational changes are small and simple, but significant. Adding vegetables into their diet 4-5 times a week vs. never, is one tiny step to success. Drinking more water, the forgotten nutrient, is another way to give their body and mind a little boost. Checking in with their breath, another favorite. Adding in 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a cup of water twice a day, yet another.

I wish you the best on your journey towards practicing real medicine again. It’s possible, you just have to set the intention and go for it.


There was a time I hated cilantro. Before I was re-introduced to my Mexican roots, I really disliked the herb. It tasted like soap to me, which makes sense as it is a great detoxifier. Now I won’t say I love it, but I am very apt to adding cilantro into my diet on a regular basis. I’ll add it to my pesto, my morning tea, smoothie or on top of a salad. It’s a really wonderful, easy way to boost your methylfolate (a biologically active form of folate), calcium, potassium, manganese and iron. It’s also high in antioxidants and is part of a common regimen for heavy metal detox. Cilantro extracts metals out of the bones and tissues to be removed by liver and bowels. It is especially helpful in pulling out Mercury which is found in dental fillings, vaccines and large fish. Early on in my dad’s Alzheimer’s journey, my momma tried everything fringe and conventional to get him well. She took him to a doctor that started my dad on cilantro, oregano and chlorella in the 1990’s.

You want to add in chlorella to your regimen as well, because once you start mobilizing the metals out of your bones and tissues, they need to get the heck out of the body. Chlorella binds the metals and facilitates them out.

There can also be side effects to detoxing with cilantro and chlorella, so if you start noticing some strange changes, check in with your healthcare professional before you continue.


4- Ingredient Cookies!

This recipe is modified from multiple ones online. Justin’s sister made some with 1 cup of peanut butter, 1 cup of sugar, 1 egg and sprinkle of salt. He came home raving about them so naturally, I took it as a challenge to healthy them up. I served them at my get- together last night and they were sooooooo yummy!

4- Ingredient Almond Butter Cookies

Set oven to 350.

Mix: 1 cup of almond butter

1 egg

3-4 tablespoons of honey or maple syrup (may need more depending on your sugar buds)

dash of sea salt

Bake at 350 for 10 minutes and wa-la!!

sugar-free chocolate chips or carob nibs

dried raisins or cranberries

crushed almonds or walnuts

shredded coconut



Bye Bye 2016!

A couple days ago, Justin and I ran worked through a 90-minute Vision Day experience with Andy Drish, a serial entrepreneur and founder of The Foundation. Though it wasn’t J’s style, he suffered through, we had some laughs and I believe we finished with a strong idea of how we will live our next 365 days. Through the prep process, I went through, month by month and jotted down highs and lows of 2016. It was powerful. I cried. I got angry. I laughed. I longed. I regretted. And I loved. A lot. I usually do this on FB, but as I am trying to divorce the land of the middleman, I am doing my year round-up here on Shiny Healthy People. I recommend you do this exercise and just stream of consciousness write all that comes to your brilliant brain. Then you can put a bow on it, give it a name, send it off and get ready for the next step.

If you follow numerology, you know that 2016 was a 9. Nines are for wrapping up loose ends, it means completion. It was a time for dark nights, rock bottoms and figuring out what isn’t working in our lives. 2017 is a one, which means freshness, new beginnings, ideas and projects. One also represents leadership. If you are called to lead, teach, bring light into the world, this is your year. We’ve read all the books, listened to the podcasts, taken the workshops, met in masterminds, signed up and almost finished online courses, we’re as intellectually prepared as our teachers. We get the principles, we’ve acquired certifications and have the tools. And NOW is the time to get in there. 2017 is the time to apply, to release, to get the hell out there and do your thing, chicken wing. Commit with a lot grit and a little grace and just do it. F confidence. We’re all lacking it, confidence comes with practice and repetition. Once you put yourself out there enough, it becomes your reality and from there confidence manifests. “Your good intentions are not good enough, your willingness is everything” – ACIM. Massive focused action is the motto for 2017. Decide to do it or not, the choice is always yours. And of course lead with love and only love. Love is the great accelerator.

Here We Go:

2016: Medical Journal check. Faculty. David Bowie. Adventure with Jun. MADONNA!! Escape Fire. Pesticide Exposure. MAGS. the enormous loss, too young. fuck the NRA. La Vida Rica Roving Supper Club begins!! Mexico trip, planned and cancelled. Stupid Zika, governments method to elicit fear. birthday supper club. sat next to Kimball Musk. The Kitchen, Lauren, best bartender in Boulder. Sean and Addie. corn tortillas. SXSW magic. Community. Phil’s Camino. Annie. Karin. Carol. Doug. Phil. Rebecca. Patrick. Zach. Ira. Birbiglia. Decided food was the great super connector. Healing the Healers. Shattered heart. No more trust. Dingus Day. Prince. Red Rocks adventure. $200 cab ride, bonding, love. Trust returns. Paul Simon and dad, thanks Paul! Willed Body Ceremony. Miggy. Ashley. SF trip with my sissy, midge and Z. hilarity erupts at theatre making stories up about their ritual. Layla. Huff Post on opiods. emailed clay Johnston. Pamela. Orlando. Midget GRADUATES. JAM born. Do No Harm. First father’s day without my dad. Justin’s birthday. Mom Cancer. Saldivar. Spears. Best Nurses. Christi! Tia. Liz. Justin comes to my rescue. Cancer removed. Mom alive and well. Greenbelt trip with dad on dog tag. Met J’s grandparents in the middle of America. Family LOVE. Maine trip. Kayaking, swimming, nature. Whale Watching. Family. NYC. Brooklyn. Marcy Projects. Pig and Khao. 1st Podcast interview. Road tripping. 5,000 miles. Mom and me. Yosemite. Elvis on the radio, dad all around. Visiting cousins. Mom terrible photographer. Carla. Side of the road thai food. Burney Falls. Mango Sticky Rice. Erich, Suzan, Kamila. Esther, Vince, Wyatt, Johnnie, DZ, John, Nancy. Port Townsend, summer home? The Beach. Walked Phil’s Camino. Fell in love with Phil and Rebecca. Hospital visit. Met the chemo family. COMMUNITY!! Rough road trip. Canyonlands. Arches. MOAB. Windy camping, thought we were going to get blown away. Rasa. 10,000 Waves. Homemade chocolate, delicious. Next career? ACL. Willie, me and bee. Radiohead, Mumford and Sons. More medical journal articles. House destroyed by Mexicans. Austin Film Fest. got bee necklace from Addie. Volunteered at ARCH. Photoshoot with Jerra. Shawn. 10-day cleanse. success! Partnered with medicine woman. Cubs WIN World Series!! Ginger goes to hang out with pops. First Healing the Healers dinner, so wonderfully wonderful. Gina’s Birthday, much fun. Thanksgiving. Shared trauma on animal abuse and sensitivity. Being home. Roxie and Jeni, brightest lights in all the world. Hilarious board game. Humming. Diaper change on dinner table. We are the luckiest people alive. Lauryn Hill. Predicted P-E DT before I went to sleep. Collective dark night of the soul for our world. Hope erupted when it should not have. LW warmth. Broke up with medicine woman. Standing Rock. Nikki. Best Functional Forum. PNS Peddler. Breathe. La Vida Rica beautiful Gratitude dinner! Saw Jenn shine brightly, so much pride for my sister. Christmas brunch at mels. Short selfie stick. J and I played golf in December. Day with my sissy, so much love. LVR H the H idea. Found puppy. Justin followed flow to find CJs home. Camille shining, getting into her groove. Dismantling of patriarchy, hierarchy, competition against others. Embracing the sisterhood. Rise from the fall. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. YOU CAN DO ANYHING!!

Whew!! My 2016 was all about people, connections, community and food. I also found my voice and an even deeper sense of my purpose. I’ve learned to love through all the discomfort, worry, unknown, pain, and anger. Besides the people in my life,who will always be my greatest teachers, my lessons learned came from stillness, meditation and breath. So as I do everyday of my life, I implore you to find a way to mindfulness, whatever that means for you. Going still and silent will be your strongest most powerful medicine that will lead you to be your best in 2017.

Yes, 2017 will still bring more suffering, struggle, pain and concern, but it just means we have to step up now, take control and do what is right and just. We’ve spent enough time thinking, planning, talking and calculating, it’s time to start doing. Deal?

See you next year, loves!



Real Food Revolution

Yesterday a big wig in the healthy living world came after me for using their name. A name and program that I’ve been freely advertising for four years, I was essentially a live sales funnel for them. I would send people to their website, their book, their videos, recipes and lists. I’ve studied and practiced so many different programs and after a few adaptations, I found that this particular one was the simplest for my patients to follow. When I worked in a more affluent community, I had no problem sending my folks to buy the book and enroll in their program. But most of my work in underserved communities prohibited this, as many do not have a phone or access to the internet.

So instead of referring to this particular program any longer, I’ve decided to create my own. Over the years, I’ve attended conferences, online CMEs and studied nutrition. I will use principles received from Dr. Andrew Weil, Dr. Neal Bernard, Dr. Sarah Halberg, Dr. Mark Hyman, John Bagnulo and blend them with my experience with patients as well as my own health. What I have developed is nothing new, it simply has my twist and my flavor to it. My recipes will have a lot of Latin and Asian influence, as those are my roots.

You can’t monopolize healthy living. You just can’t. Shame on you if you decide to do this. Nutrition education is a huge void in healthcare, even those delivering the care are deficient in this. My first step in the Real Food Revolution will start with La Vida Rica Clean & Clear Plan. I’ll start with a 10-day food and wellness program that begins on January 11th and ends on January 20th. I’ll send you recipes, meal plans and wellness tips and tools. And you’ll get to join our SHP facebook group if you wish and have direct access to me!!

If you want in, send me an email. It’s erica (dot) benedicto (at) gmail (dot) coom