Category Archives: Chic Vegan Column

ASK GRETTIE – Dealing With Cold Sores Naturally

Here is my latest Ask Grettie column for Chic Vegan…keep those questions coming!


I was recently contacted by a family member for advice about an ailment that I know many people suffer from.  In their e-mail to me they wrote, “I keep getting cold sores in my mouth and on my tongue. What do I need to do to get rid of them?  Help!”


First of all I want to reiterate that I am not a doctor.  I do however know that there are steps people can take to help heal their cold sores and to help prevent an outbreak in the first place.  One popular supplement to take in an effort to cure an outbreak is lysine.  Lysine is an essential amino acid.  When I say essential, I mean that our body does not produce this amino acid on its own, rather we need to obtain it through our diet.  Lysine has been shown to be effective against the spread of the Herpes virus, however it will not be effective if we have too much of another amino acid in our body, arginine.  It appears that these two amino acids fight against each other for space in our guts.  If the arginine outnumbers the lysine, the lysine will be ineffective.

According to’s Alternative Medicine section, the proper dosage of supplemental lysine during an active episode is 1000mg 3 times a day.  Once the cold sores have healed, the maintenance dose is 1250mg per day.  When looking for a lysine supplement it is important to buy a supplement that is pure and not synthetic.  Also try to buy a lysine supplement that includes zinc, vitamin C, and bioflavinoids since these seems to work synergistically (Source:

To aid the effectiveness of the lysine treatment, it is important to consume as many high lysine foods as possible and to avoid high arginine food sources.  I found conflicting information with regards to wheat germ and legumes.  Some sources list them as high in arginine and others list them as high in lysine.  Confusing.  Click here for a list of high lysine and high arginine foods.

It is also important to note that the following have shown promise in the fight against cold sores, bee propolis, resveratrol cream, peppermint oil, and lemon balm.

**Do you have a questions for Grettie? She is here to answer any of your health and nutrition related questions! Email her .**

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Filed under Chic Vegan Column, Cold Sores, Education, Research, Vegan, Vegetarian

ASK GRETTIE – Recommended Reading

My latest Chic Vegan ASK GRETTIE column

I was wondering if you have read The Beauty Detox Solution by Kimberly Snyder?  I would love to hear your thoughts on some of the main principles throughout the book – Such as Food Pairing, eating Light to Heavy, and some of the Ongoing Cleansing methods: Probiotic & Enzyme Salad (raw sauerkraut), Probiotic, Enzyme and Magnesium – Oxygen supplements.  I personally loved the book but I can see how it can be overwhelming for some. I have been vegetarian for 3 years and am starting to incorporate some of Kimberly’s diet principles (slowly) to improve my health further.


Hi Lauren!

I haven’t had a chance to read Kimberly’s book yet, but I am very familiar with her and have been following her via her blog for a long time.  I like what Kimberly has to say in general, so I am fairly sure that I will agree with her general message.  I know Kimberly has studied at the Ann Wigmore Institute in Puerto Rico multiple times and is very knowledgeable.  I am really excited for her that her book is enjoying such success and I am looking forward to reading it myself.

While we are on the subject of books, I would like to share with you some books that I highly recommend and that are permanent fixtures on my bookshelf. 

The China Study by T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell is so heavily supported by science.  Many times I have seen people read this book and make the switch to a vegan diet.  The science in this book makes people GET it and understand the physical damage that meat does to the human body.

Thrive by Brendan Brazier is such an inspirational book for vegan athletes.  Brendan is a world class vegan triathlete and the founder of Vega.  I am personally very into fitness and really like how this book walks the reader through the mechanics of using a vegan diet to fuel their fitness pursuits.  Brendan spells out what types of food to eat pre and post workout as well as throughout the day.  It is nice that we are able to benefit from Brendan’s years of trial and error and not have to go through that ourselves. 

Crazy Sexy Diet by Kris Carr is so reader and user friendly.  This book covers so many subjects from pH to juicing to bathroom issues!  Crazy Sexy Diet has guest appearances throughout the book from experts in the field who  are really good at explaining the subject matter in an easy to understand and concise manner.


Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Caldwell B Esselstyn is a must read for everyone, especially anyone with a history of heart disease in their family or experiencing it now.  During my training we had a guest lecture by Dr. Esselstyn that blew my mind.  I seriously did not want this lecture to end because it was so fascinating and eye-opening.  During the lecture I kept thinking, “Why doesn’t everyone know this?  Why don’t they teach this information to our children?”  Heart disease is so avoidable.  This book takes that lecture and expands on it.

These four books are staples for me.  As I said, these books are permanent fixtures in my home.  I own two copies of most of them because I am constantly loaning them out to people in an effort to spread their messages. I constantly refer back to these books and recommend them to others, each for their own special reasons.

Knowledge is power!

– Grettie

Images courtesy of


Filed under Books, Chic Vegan Column, Vegan, Vegetarian

ASK GRETTIE – All About Probiotics

This is my most recent Ask Grettie Column for Chic Vegan…

I have been hearing so much about probiotics lately.  I understand their value, but am wanting some more information.  How do I choose a good probiotic?  So many of them have soy in them and I generally try to avoid soy.  Your thoughts?

~ Sirica

Hi Sirica!

Probiotics are very beneficial.  I personally take them multiple times a day and give them to my family as well.  Our gut is a large part of our immune system and according to Brenda Watson, “[T]he gut is the root and core of our total general well being.  It’s the place where food is broken down into the building blocks of our cells.  It’s the first line of defense against invading pathogens and infectious diseases.” Our bodies are filled with bacteria…some good, some bad.  With probiotics we can tip the scales in our favor by introducing large amount of GOOD bacteria that will overrun the bad.

There are many different ways to ingest probiotics:

1.  Fermented foods

The existence of fermented foods predates recorded history.  So many cultures utilize fermented foods in their diets such as sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, and yogurt (I favor the coconut milk variety).  Eating fermented foods is a great way to obtain beneficial bacteria.

2.  Probiotic drinks

Good Belly and KeVitaare two companies that have burst onto the probiotic scene.  My one criticism of Good Belly is that they add sugar to their drinks.  KeVita on the other hand does not since it’s drinks are sweetened with organic stevia.

3.  Probiotic capsules or powders

I recently attended the Natural Products Expo West and was able to talk to many probiotic manufacturers.  I learned so much from them.  Many of the brands that have soy in their products actually were able to win me over by explaining that their probiotics are “grown” on fermented soy and do not use.  I am a person who tries to limit the soy in my diet, but I do see the benefits of including fermented soy in one’s diet and I do so about once a week.

Here is what New Chapter has to say about the soy issue:

Although true soy allergies are very rare, many people have difficulty digesting unfermented soy. Whole, unprocessed soy contains nutrient blocking factors, such as phytate, which interfere with its potential benefits. Fermented soy, on the other hand, agrees with almost everyone, even people with soy sensitivities. Probiosis of soy also changes isoflavones from inert forms into their activated aglycone genestein, dadzein, and glycitein forms.

Yes. New Chapter’s Probiotics deliver non-GMO organic soy in its fermented whole-food form, similar to miso, tempeh and natto. Unlike unfermented soy or isolated soy components, these traditional soy foods have been consumed for thousands of years and are associated with the health and longevity of traditional Asian cultures.  Many research studies suggest that regular consumption of fermented soy is associated with numerous health benefits, including the maintenance of normal cell growth in breast tissue.*

Yes. A recent peer-reviewed scientific review of fourteen clinical trials examining the effects of soy on the thyroid concluded that in the absence of an iodine deficiency, there is little evidence that soy foods or soy isoflavones adversely affect thyroid function and that “hypothyroid individuals need not avoid soy foods.” In fact, some studies suggest that soy may actually promote normal thyroid cell growth. To help ensure healthy thyroid function, our Probiotic Nutrients™ contain a whole-food form of iodine.

I have had a lot of exposure to probiotic capsules and powders and recommend the following (each of which I have tried):

Renew Life Ultimate Flora, New Chapter Probiotic All-Flora, Ortho Molecular Ortho Biotic, ThreeLac (great for candida issues), and probiotics by Klaire Labs.

Your body may go through an adjustment period when beginning probiotics which can range anywhere from a little gas to more frequent bowel movements.  If you have a lot of symptoms, scale back and take less until your body adjusts.  I recommend starting slowly and building-up from there.  For example, if a bottle states that the dose is 2 capsules, use 1 capsule for a few weeks and then add in the second capsule.

**Do you have a questions for Grettie? She is here to answer any of your health and nutrition related questions! Email her at .**


Filed under Chic Vegan Column, Education, Gut Health, Published Work, Vegan, Vegetarian

ASK GRETTIE – How Healthy Is Gardein?

This is my latest column for Chic Vegan

I was recently contacted with a question about Gardein meat substitutes.  The reader (who is currently a meat eater, but trying to eat less) was out at a restaurant called the Yard House and saw that they offered vegetarian meals prepared with Gardein.  This experience prompted her to ask me what my opinion was about Gardein and whether or not it was a better choice nutritionally than eating meat.

Overall I am not a big fan on meat substitutes.  Processed food is processed food whether it is animal based or vegan.  As with most processed foods, Gardein tends to be very high in sodium and can do a number on your blood pressure.

I do see the value of vegan meat substitutes in that I see them as stepping stones for those who can’t envision a life without meat (or as an occasional “treat” for those who are already vegans).  Transitioning to a vegan diet can be difficult for many people who are used to eating the texture of meat at nearly every meal.  In this instance I give the reader the green light to try the Gardein meal as a means to see that it is very possible to eat a vegetarian meal and not miss the meat!

According to the Gardein website, their meat substitutes are made from soy, wheat and pea proteins, vegetables and ancient grains (quinoa, amaranth, millet and kamut®).  For someone who wants to introduce vegetarian meals into their menu plan, some good points about Gardein are that the product is cholesterol free as well as trans and saturated fat free, which is something that meat can never claim to be.  Gardein also provides all of the essential amino acids.

I am glad to know that Gardein tries to use mostly non-gmo (genetically modified) foods.  There have been some studies that indicate gmo soybeans are potentially detrimental to our health.  When asked the question about gmo soybeans, Gardein states, “[W]e only use ‘identity-preserved’ soy protein (which basically means, it helps to ensure us that our soy protein is not genetically modified).”

I do want to re-emphasize that overall I am not a big fan of meat substitutes.  Personally I would love it if each and every one of you strove towards a “whole foods plant based diet.”  Your body will thank you!

**Do you have a questions for Grettie? She is here to answer any of your health and nutrition related questions! Email her at .**


Filed under Chic Vegan Column, Education, General Vegan, Protein, Vegan, Vegetarian

ASK GRETTIE: Sports Gel Alternatives

Here is my latest column over at Chic Vegan

I am training for my first marathon in July. I depend on Gu packets and Shot Block packages to get me through my runs. From what I’ve read on your blog it seems that they are processed, syrupy no-nos, and now by eating these I feel like I am undoing the steps I’ve taken before my run!

What do you recommend as fuel during hard workouts and long runs? What can I put in my pockets for my main event? 26.2 miles is a long way and I want to support all my hard work the best way I can.

Thank you so much for all you share!

~ Rhea

Congratulations on tackling a marathon!

When it comes to exercise nutrition questions I always pull out my very well used copy of “Thrive” by Brendan Brazier. Brendan is a Professional Ironman Triathlete and the Formulator of Vega. I highly recommend this book.

You are right to question the commercial sports gel products on the market. As you stated, many of them contain artificial colors and flavors, and are not always made with the highest quality ingredients. It is super easy and way less expensive to make your own gel. Brendan suggests blending dates and agave nectar as a healthy nutrient rich substitute to the sports gels currently available in stores.

The basic recipe calls for 4 dates and 1/4 cup of agave syrup and makes about 3/4 cup which will fill two 4-ounce gel flasks. You can flavor the gel with anything you’d like.

Let me know how the marathon goes.

Happy training!


Do you have a questions for Grettie? She is here to answer any of your health and nutrition related questions! Email her at .

Image of Brendan Brazier courtesy of GLiving


Filed under Althletics, Chic Vegan Column, Education, Gluten Free, Published Work, Vegan, Vegetarian

ASK GRETTIE – Falling Off the Wagon

Here is my latest Ask Grettie from Chic Vegan

I am VERY unhealthy, overweight, tired all the time and depressed about it. I really enjoyed the Kind Life Diet Book and have bought several others on veganism and on being a vegetarian. I have been trying for several months to convert and keep “falling off the wagon”. My cholesterol and trigs. are over the top. If you can offer any advice about staying true to this lifestyle change I would appreciate it. I WANT to change to be healthy and to life a long life. Thanks for your website I can’t wait to try out some new recipes.


You need to be kind to yourself and not beat yourself-up for “falling off the wagon.” Transitioning to a whole new way of eating IS hard and will require some time. I did not make the switch overnight; rather it was a more gradual shift.

That being said, if you are experiencing health problems, it is very important that you do make the switch to a vegan lifestyle and make your health top priority. If your cholesterol is through the roof it is due to the animal based foods you are consuming and moving away from those foods will be tremendously helpful to you.

Instead of focusing on what you can’t have, I’d like you to add something to your diet for the next week. Eat one pound of raw vegetables a day. It’s that simple. Take some time to weigh and then fill some containers with one pound of raw vegetables (any combination of veggies that you like). Keep that container near you and snack on those veggies when the hunger pangs strike. This is a trick I learned from Dr. Joel Fuhrman in his Eat For Health book series. Those veggies are going to help you stay full.

Contact me in a week and we will add in another trick to help you on your path to a plant based diet.

Here’s to health!


Do you have a questions for Grettie? She is here to answer any of your health and nutrition related questions! Email her at .

Image Courtesy of


Filed under Chic Vegan Column, Education, General Vegan, Vegan, Vegetarian


By Gretchen Tseng for Chic Vegan

Posted 3/04/2011

March is National Nutrition Month. Since we have an excuse to celebrate nutrition all month, let’s use this opportunity to kick it up a notch.  Here are some suggestions to help you on the road to better nutrition:

Eat a Rainbow of Color

When we eat a rainbow of color from fresh fruits and veggies we know that we are getting the nutrients our body needs to function at its most optimum level.  Plants get their vibrant colors from phytonutrients and it is those phytonutrients that provide us with the antioxidants our bodies use to slow the aging process and reduce our disease risk.

Fresh Juice

Fresh squeezed juice is a fantastic way to provide our bodies with concentrated doses of phytonutrients and antioxidants.  When you juice, use vegetables as the base of your juice and use fruit sparingly to sweeten the juice.


Smoothies are another fantastic way to consume a rainbow of color.  Unlike fresh squeezed juice, smoothies provide your body with fiber, which is essential for a healthy digestive tract.  Experiment with your smoothies this month.  Many people are surprised to discover that a handful of spinach or half of a cucumber will not change the taste of a fruit smoothie.

Cut out Processed Foods

Challenge yourself to forgo processed food this month.  Vegan or not, processed food is processed food.  Reacquaint yourself with fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.  I know that convenience is a huge factor, but you will be surprised by how easy it is to whip-up a tasty soup from scratch or a batch of beans and rice with steamed veggies on the side.

Try Some New Recipes

The internet is a smorgasbord of amazing recipes.  There are so many wonderful websites dedicated to vegan recipes that are sure to inspire you to try something new.  On the weekend take some time to search the web for recipes to make for the following week’s meals.  When you do a little prep work, making meals from scratch can be quick and cost effective (and the left-overs make awesome lunches the following day!).

Add Some Super Foods

Try a new super food this month.  It is easy to enhance your health by adding a teaspoon of maca (for hormone health), or spirulina and chlorella (both are natural chelators) to your smoothies.  Another great add to a smoothie is açaí pulp (super concentrated antioxidants).

Give Wheat Grass a Try

There are a lot of people intimidated by wheat grass.  The next time you are at a juice bar or health food store, give it a try (ask for a chaser of orange juice).  Wheat grass contains chlorophyll, amino acids, minerals, vitamins, and enzymes; many of which help to combat oxidative stress.  If you don’t have access to wheat grass juice, try the powdered form and mix it with water as I often do.

Live Active Cultures

Add yogurt and kefir to your diet.  Thankfully, So Delicious now offers coconut yogurt and kefir.  I personally add coconut kefir to my smoothies on a daily basis since the live active cultures are so beneficial for our gut.  According to Dr. Perricone, “[P]robiotic microbes help the body’s ongoing fight against infectious diseases by competing with the pathogens for food, nutrients and survival.”


While exercise is not something we consume, I consider it a valuable nutrition partner since it aids digestion.  Studies have also shown that exercise can help prevent gastro intestinal symptoms.  That being said, it is important not to eat a large meal before exercising since the digestion of that meal will compete for your energy.  A great pre-exercise snack is a banana and a few nuts.

Drink More Water

I know we all are aware of the importance of consuming enough water.  Really focus this month on upping your water intake and replacing other beverages (namely soft drinks) with water or herbal tea.  Since our bodies are on average 70% water, your body will thank you for properly hydrating it.

image via ericawondergirl

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