Nicole La Placa

Health Coach, Yoga Instructor, Personal Trainer


Processed foods like cereal and cookies contain high amounts of sugar.  Refined sugar (also known as white sugar or table sugar) enters the bloodstream quickly and wreaks havoc on blood sugar levels.  First it pushes blood sugar sky high which causes excitability and nervous tension.  Then the blood sugar levels drop extremely low causing fatigue, depression, and exhaustion. Some healthy snacks and side items that have higher levels of fructose, which is natural sugar, are: apples, bananas, mangos, sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, onions, and broccoli.  The fiber of the fruit and vegetable helps the sugar enter the bloodstream at a slow, even rate. Incorporating these types of foods into your diet will help alleviate the sugar cravings.

Children are consuming very large amounts of sugar on a daily basis.  Sugar (aka high fructose corn syrup) is found in a majority of packaged foods.  This type of sugar hits our blood stream quickly causing a surge in nervous tension and excitability.  The blood sugar then drops quickly creating fatigue, headache and depression.  I suggest keeping a food journal for a week or two and pay attention to what your child is eating.  Does there appear to be a connection between the food consumed and the behavior exhibited?  Start to increase fruits, vegetables, and whole grains while at the same time decreasing processed foods.   For neurological testing, please contact your physician.

What is in the 'healthy' drink?

Posted on October 2, 2013

I encourage everyone to look beyond the package of ‘healthy’ food and read the ingredients label.  A majority of the nutritional drinks sold in stores are full of preservatives and added sugars, some of which are dangerous artificial sweeteners.    If gaining weight or having a meal supplement is your goal of consuming nutritional drinks, I suggest making your own smoothies.  Protein smoothies are affordable and easy to make.  Here’s a recipe for you to try: 2 cups almond or coconut milk, 1 banana, ½ cup blueberries, 1 cup spinach, 2 tablespoons protein powder.  (Protein powder can be purchased at your local health food store.) Place all ingredients in a blender, blend on a high speed for a few minutes until ingredients turn into a liquid consistency.  You can also make extra smoothies and keep them in your refrigerator for a day or two.

Cooking Oils

Posted on February 13, 2013

The name ‘vegetable oil’ is misleading because this type of oil is actually made from soybeans.  Unfortunately, experts estimate that 90% of soybeans are actually GMO (genetically modified organisms).  Therefore, I suggest experimenting with different types of oils.  Extra virgin olive oil is a great alternative and has health benefits such as it contains anti-inflammatory Omega 3s.  Olive oil is great to use for stir fry and as a salad dressing with balsamic vinegar.  Other oils such as grapeseed and coconut are excellent as well. 

For example, grapeseed oil has a much lighter taste than olive oil and be used in almost every dish.  Like olive oil, grapeseed oil can withstand high temperatures and can be used in salad dressing.  One of the many health benefits to grapeseed oil is that it contains the antioxidant Vitamin E that protects body tissue from damage caused by free radicals.

Coconut oil is a great baking substitute for butter and works well when cooked on low heat.  However, coconut oil contains high levels of saturated fat but because it comes from a plant source (not from animal fat), research shows that it is metabolized by the body faster than other saturated fats.  Many experts agree that one of the numerous health benefits of coconut oil is that it helps various digestive problems including irritable bowel syndrome.

Health Benefits of Tea

Posted on January 26, 2013

Many people (especially the ones living in the South) associate ‘tea’ with sweet tea.  Sweet tea is actually brewed black tea with sugar added.  Black tea has the highest caffeine concentration of all teas and is comparable to the amount of caffeine contained in coffee.  However, not all tea contains caffeine.  There are numerous types of teas such as black tea, green tea, white tea, herbal tea, and tea made from roots such as ginger and turmeric.

Each tea carries its own health benefits.  Generally speaking, tea is good for you.  Tea contains antioxidants which fight against free radical damage caused by toxins in our environment and food.  For example, green tea is a healthy beverage that can be enjoyed hot or cold, is also available as decaffeinated or regular. In addition to antioxidants, green tea is also thought to help increase metabolism which contributes to maintaining a healthy weight.  Herbal tea, such as mint, is known to help digestion.  If you are feeling uncomfortable after a meal, drink a cup of warm mint tea to help relieve symptoms of indigestion.  Root tea such as ginger or turmeric will help reduce inflammation in your body.

Lemon Blueberry Bread

Posted on December 6, 2012

lemon bluberry bread.jpg

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

½ cup honey

2 eggs

3 tbsp lemon juice

1 ½ cup multigrain flour

1/2 cup Flax USA groud flax seed

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

½ cup Flax USA milk

2 tbsp grated lemon zest

½ cup chopped walnuts

1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl beat together applesauce, honey, juice and eggs.  In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.  Stir into egg mixture with milk.  Beat well.  Fold in zest, nuts, and blueberries.  Pour batter into greased 9x5 loaf pan.

Bake for 60-70 minutes or until toothpick inserted to make sure the bread is cooked through.  Cool bread pan on rack for 10 minutes.  Remove from pan and cool on wire rack for 20 minutes.

Protect Our Children from Obesity and Diabetes

Posted on November 27, 2012

According to the National Institute of Health, the rates of obesity in children over the age of 6 years old have more than tripled since 2008.  Childhood obesity is a national epidemic and has a direct correlation with Type 2 diabetes. Long term complications of obesity and diabetes include but are not limited to: heart and kidney disease, cancer, high blood pressure, and blindness.

Due to the many health complications of diabetes and obesity, medications are often prescribed.  In addition to the financial burden of paying for medications, there are also side effects to the medication which can cause other health problems.  This financial strain coupled with ill health severely diminishes the quality of life for those suffering from diabetes and obesity. 

The United States has the largest population of obese and diabetic people in the entire world.  Coincidentally, the United States also has the highest number of fast food restaurants.  The current generation of children in the United States is living a more sedentary lifestyle compared to previous generations.  They are also suffering from improper nutrition due to fast food that is loaded with ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup.  Even school lunches, baby food, and processed foods like cereals and snacks are loaded with added sugars and preservatives.   

Understanding Fiber

Posted on November 26, 2012

There are two types of fiber – soluble and insoluble.  The difference is that soluble fiber slows down digestion and gives you a sense of fullness.  This will help you to maintain a healthy weight and blood sugar level.  Soluble fiber can be found in food such as beans, oatmeal, nuts, flaxseed, and some vegetables like cucumbers and carrots. 

Insoluble fiber helps prevent constipation.  When this type of fiber passes through your gastrointestinal tract, it actually speeds up your digestion.  This sped up process helps your gut stay healthy because it eliminates waste faster.  Sources of insoluble fiber are found in whole grains, for example, quinoa, brown rice, or millet.  Insoluble fiber can also be found in dark leafy greens, cabbage, tomatoes, nuts, and seeds. 

Focus on eating more plant based, whole foods and less packaged foods.  When a food product comes in a box with a label that says ‘high fiber’ it is important to know what else is in there.  Look for things like added sugar, artificial sweeteners, and preservatives.  Chances are if you cannot pronounce the ingredient, it was made in a laboratory and not grown on a farm.

Insomniac? Try New Mood!

Posted on November 25, 2012

new mood.pngMillions of Americans (including myself) suffer from insomnia.  When suffering from insomnia, I toss and turn thinking about the stressors of yesterday and tomorrow.  This lack of sleep, worry, and anxiety just creates more stress which also brings my mood down.  After a long sleepless night, I wake up mentally and physically exhausted.  I just feel ‘blah’ and lack motivation.

My career is focused on coaching clients on how to follow a healthy lifestyle which means I need to be on top of my game 24-7.  Doing that while keeping up with the other demands in my life is a challenge when I am not feeling 100%.  This is why I rely on ‘New Mood’ by Onnit Labs to help me relax and sleep.   It is non-GMO, soy free, and gluten free.  I have taken other supplements in the past which worked but not for very long.  Usually after a couple of nights or so the initial calming and sleep benefits no longer existed.

Lessons from Black Friday

Posted on November 24, 2012

Black Friday is that one day of the year where shoppers come out in full force.  Mere hours after giving thanks for all the blessings in their life, consumers camp out in front of large corporations in hopes of saving money on goods produced in other countries.  It is also the time of year that retailers spend millions of dollars in advertising in hopes of making their first profit of the year.  Corporate and consumer greed finally become one.

Fortunately, there are retailers that provide space to volunteers who wish to opt out of the shopping madness.  In addition to providing space for volunteers, Belk at the Lakeshore Mall in Sebring, Florida also supplied volunteers with chairs, a variety of wrapping paper, scissors, tape, and lunch on Black Friday.   This space allowed volunteers to work four hour shifts to wrap presents in exchange for donations to their favorite charity.

I was there wrapping gifts and collecting donations for “Baking for Soldiers”.  This group was started in Honeoye, New York.  They are responsible for sending hundreds of boxes of baked goods and personal items to the U.S. troops overseas during the holidays.  In just a few short hours and many wrapped presents later I was able to raise $92.   I am grateful for the donations and the space that Belk provided.  Hopefully over the next few weekends we can raise even more money to send supplies to our soldiers. 

While volunteering yesterday I learned a few things:

Too busy to cook? Embrace one dish meals!!

Posted on November 16, 2012

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A 60 hour work week and back to back road trips = healthy balance of life and work.  It also means not much time to cook (or wash dishes).  That's why I love one or two dish meals!   Best of all - they're healthy and delicious!!

You will need:

Baked chicken

2 quart baking dish

¾ cup risotta

1 cup water

1 can low sodium broccoli soup

¼ tsp black pepper

¼ tsp paprika

1 ½ pound of skinless chicken breasts              

Pre heat oven to 425 degrees.

Mix risotto, water, soup, and spices in the baking dish.  Put chicken breasts on top of mixture.  Add a little pepper and paprika to chicken.  Cover with tin foil and bake for 45 minutes or until chicken is done.

Collard Greens

1 bag of collard greens

1 tbsp olive oil

1 can diced tomatoes

1 tbsp minced garlic

3 cups water

Place all ingredients into a large pot.  Bring to a boil.  Simmer for 20 minutes or until greens are tender.  Season with salt and pepper.

Hemp FORCE Protein Powder

Posted on November 12, 2012

hemp.jpgFor several years I have been an advocate of hemp and I am always looking to incorporate hemp into my diet, including baked goods.  Hemp is an excellent source of vegetarian, non-GMO protein.  Hemp seeds are a complete protein and contain the essential fatty acids Omega-3 and Omega-6.   These essential fatty acids are anti-inflammatory which can help prevent degenerative diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s.

In my search for quality hemp protein powders I have tried different brands that were tasteless or caused bloating and indigestion.  This was until I tried Hemp FORCE.  Hemp FORCE is an organic, non GMO, non-dairy, and non-soy protein powder and a part of my daily routine.  One serving contains 16 grams of protein, 11 grams of fiber, and only 1 gram of sugar! I like blending the Hemp FORCE with one tablespoon of almond butter, and 2 cups of hemp milk both of which provide an additional 21 grams of protein.  Drinking Hemp FORCE as a post work out smoothie helps my body recover faster.  This is also a great protein smoothie to use as a meal replacement when traveling.