Archives of articles and recipes by Renee Shelton.

Skinny Liver: A Proven Program to Prevent and Reverse the New Silent Epidemic Fatty Liver Disease – Review


What is Fatty Liver Disease?

Fatty liver disease (FLD) is where large amounts of fat build up over time on the liver. NAFLD is non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, where the extra fat isn’t due to alcohol consumption. AFL is alcoholic fatty liver and is caused by alcohol. Even though both are reversible, both can lead to cirrhosis if left unchecked. NASH is nonalcoholic steatopepatitis, a damaged fatty liver with inflammation, which is the more severe of the fatty liver diseases.

Preventing and Reversing Fatty Liver Disease

Skinny Liver: A Proven Program to Prevent and Reverse the New Silent Epidemic Fatty Liver Disease, a new book by Kristin Kirkpatrick with Ibrahim Hanouneh delves into factors causing this disease and ways to prevent or reverse it.

The Liver Organ: Central Role in Metabolism

Why is taking care of your liver important? The authors note that besides metabolizing carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, the liver also performs these other important functions:

  • Helps to keep blood sugar steady.
  • Converts amino acids to energy.
  • Produces bile to help the body breakdown and absorb fats.
  • Stores fat-soluble vitamins and releases them as the body needs them.
  • Keeps the balance of sex hormones even in the body.

Skinny Liver Book Overview

It is everything you need to know about keeping your liver in top shape, including information about the organ you probably didn’t know before. Skinny Liver is divided into three sections to make all the information more digestible. Part 1 introduces you to the liver, what NAFLD and NASH are, and how everyday toxins can damage the liver. Part 2 shows you ways to protect the liver. Part 3 contains two diet plans: The Love-Your-Liver Eating Plan (4 weeks worth of menus), and the Skinny Liver Diet Plan (also 4 weeks worth of menus). This section includes over 70 tasty recipes from the two menus.

The stress-trigger tracking sheet and the healthy liver weekly journal from the appendix are very helpful, too.

Overall, this is an important read on a little talked about organ. The heart, kidneys, and the digestive system are all familiar to most people, and there are many great books that specialize in those organs. Skinny Liver focuses on just taking care of the liver.

With liver disease indeed being a silent epidemic, the more you know about preventing or reversing this disease the longer you’ll be around to enjoy life.

Book Info:

  • Skinny Liver by Kristin Kirkpatrick with Ibrahim Hanouneh.
  • DeCapo Press; 2017.
  • ISBN13: 978-0738219165
  • Hardcover, 304 pages.

Here is a great recipe from the book for Tuna Patties.

Tuna Patties

These burgers make a great lunch or dinner. Serve them up as a sandwich inside pita or between a sliced whole grain bun, or go without the bread and serve with steamed or roasted vegetables.


  • 4 (5-ounce) cans chunk light tuna in water, drained
  • 1 1/4 cups 100% whole wheat panko, or whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 1 large egg, plus 2 large egg whites beaten together
  • 1/2 small sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, green onion, or scallions
  • 1 stalk/rib celery, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. and place an ovenproof plate in the oven.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients, except the olive oil, and mix well. Use your hands to form the mixture into twelve 1/2 inch thick patties; place the patties on a second plate.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, place the patties in the skillet in a single layer. Cook until golden brown on both sides, about 6 minutes total, flipping once or twice. Transfer the cooked patties to the plate in the oven.
  4. Wipe out the skillet and repeat with the remaining oil and patties. Serve warm.


Excerpted from Skinny Liver: A Proven Program to Prevent and Reverse the New Silent Epidemic—Fatty Liver Disease by Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD with Ibrahim Hanouneh, MD. Copyright © 2017. Available in January 2017 from Da Capo Lifelong Books, an imprint of Perseus Books, LLC, a subsidiary of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher and any opinions are my own.

Genetics Testing for Breast Cancer and the BRCA2 Gene Mutation

If breast cancer happened at an early age, or if there is a history of breast cancer in the family when you got the news, then your oncologist may recommend genetics testing. My oncologist suggested a visit with a genetics counselor as I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in my early 40s. Turns out, I tested positive for BRCA2 gene mutation.


This post will go into things to consider for genetics testing, as well as info I learned about the BRCA2 gene mutation along the way. I had to take time in writing this, as it still gets to me. Like, a lot. It is one thing to be diagnosed with breast cancer; it is something all together different to know that each of your kids has a 50% chance of getting it and passing it on. It’s the emotional weight of the diagnosis that is the most painful. I can take all the measures for fighting for myself, but a parent never ever wants to be in the situation to pass on news like this to their kids. It’s awful. I’m waiting until my kids are older to tell them. And I need to get to the point of being okay with it to explain it all to them, so I’m glad they are young. 🙂

Genetics Testing for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 Gene Mutation

Every woman who has breast cancer shouldn’t worry if they carry the gene mutation as BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations make up actually only a small portion of breast cancers.

Both the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations are damaged genes that are passed on through the family lines which places the carrier at a higher risk for getting certain cancers in their lifetime. It could come from either side (your mom or your dad’s side), and dads can pass it on to their daughters so don’t think it is only a maternal gene.

Questions for At Risk Women and Who Should Consider Genetics Testing

The answers to these questions will help determine if genetics testing should be considered.

  • Was your cancer diagnosed at an early age? Was it triple negative breast cancer?
  • Was it bilateral breast cancer?
  • Do you have an Ashkenazi Jewish background?
  • Is there breast and/or ovarian cancer in your family background?
  • Is there triple negative breast cancer in the family diagnosed at age 60 or younger?
Benefits of Genetics Counselors

My personal recommendation is to see a genetics counselor first. The advantage of seeing an actual genetics counselor is that that person will literally spell out every detail regarding the genetics testing, and answer any questions you have. They are experts in the field of DNA and genetics and they can explain in detail what gene mutations are. The genetics counselor will actually help you decide if the testing is needed for your case, too, and will help you go back through your family history to see if there is a pattern if you are unsure whether BRCA1/BRCA2 exists in your family. In my case, my genetics counselor through Kaiser was amazing. She was very thorough in her quest to see if this was right for me, answered all my questions (and there lots especially when it came to my children), and was patient and kind in giving me, at the time, the pretty devastating news. I now consider the news a great benefit as I have tailored my breast cancer therapy around it. 

Other gene mutations can cause breast cancer, though, so screening for inherited mutations for genes other than BRCA1 and BRCA2 may be recommended.

Reading the Results

You can be positive, negative, or be a variant of uncertain significance. Positive means there is a shift in the gene code and will be reported as pathogenic. Negative means no variation was detected. Variant of uncertain significance means there is a mutation but isn’t enough to classify it as fully positive (don’t think of it as a positive). If you are negative, you are normal. If you are positive, you are considered a carrier.

Remember: just because you test positive doesn’t mean you will get cancer, and just because a family member tests positive, doesn’t mean that you will, too. Also, just because one person in the family tests positive, it doesn’t mean the entire family will test positive.

Benefits of Genetics Testing

The main benefit of testing and finding out you are negative is you can relax a little about the risk of future cancers and passing it on to your kids. The main benefit of testing and finding out you are positive is that you can be proactive in your cancer journey with drugs and prophylactic surgeries to prevent future cancers from forming. It also gives you a little relief in knowing there is a reason you got cancer in the first place rather than constantly wondering what you did, ate, or exposed yourself to that was the cause. Meaning – there is a genetic explanation of why you got the cancer. If you are positive but have no cancer yet, you can begin your screening for breast cancer at a much younger age than the general population. That is always good news to detecting and treating it early.

Emotional and Psychological Drawbacks of Genetics Testing

This is something personal and will affect different women in different ways. Testing positive will be overwhelming to say the least. And if you have kids, like in my case, this may be the most difficult thing to tackle and deal with, just knowing that you are the reason they may have an increased risk of developing cancer. But remember (as I have to remind myself) it isn’t your ‘fault’. It’s just genetics, baby.

And then you have the task of telling family members and having them react to the news – they will be in two camps: positive and proactive, or filled with anxiety. Remember, this news is private and only you need to deal with it at first. Deal with it first in your own way before you share the news with others.

BRCA2 Positive: What This Means

What is the BRCA2 Gene Mutation?

As I am BRCA2 positive, I will not go into BRCA1. It’s a whole other can of worms that, since I’m negative, I don’t need to open. Basically, we all have the BRCA gene, and the BRCA gene functions to keep cancer from forming in the breast. When a mutation forms it doesn’t work properly, thereby increasing your risk for developing breast cancer. BRCA1 and BRCA2 are two different mutations of the BRCA gene. The BRCA2 gene is located at chromosome 13. If you are BRCA2+, it means there is a mutation for that gene at that spot, and you are at an elevated risk of developing some cancers.

My genetics counselor told me if there was a choice of BRCA1 or BRCA2, then it would be better to be BRCA2 positive. It usually strikes later in life (except in my case lol), and it is easier to treat, or rather, responds better to therapy. I’ll take any good news I can get.

The Basics of BRCA2 Positive

The most commonly associated cancers with this genetic mutation are breast, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate, melanoma, and endometrial serous carcinoma – a rare form of endometrial cancer. The BRCA2 mutation is also called Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Syndrome.

What are the odds of someone testing positive and developing a cancer? This is from the company who did the genetics testing for me:

  • 41% to 84% risk for breast cancer in women, and 4% to 7% for breast cancer in men.
  • 11% to 27% risk for ovarian cancer.
  • 5% to 7% risk for pancreatic cancer.
  • 20% to 35% risk for prostate cancer.
  • Your chances of melanoma skin cancer is increased.

What are the chances of passing it on?

  • First degree relatives have up to a 50% chance of also having this mutation, which means your kids have a 50% chance of getting this mutation from you, male or female.
Managing Your Risks When BRCA2 Positive

There are a number of ways to use this information in a proactive way. They involve either increased screening or prophylactic surgery.

When you are in your twenties, it is recommended for women to have an MRI or mammogram every other year, then every year after 30. Clinical breast exams by a doctor should be done every 6 months to a year, beginning at age 25. Self exams should be done monthly beginning at age 18 – this is important so that you can notice changes to your own breast early. Full body scans for melanoma cancer should be done. Wear sunscreen and hats and protect yourself from the sun! (Of course, you are doing that already.)

Bilateral mastectomy before cancer develops will reduce the chance of developing breast cancer by at least 90%. I asked my surgeon why it doesn’t just move to 100% since the breasts are removed, and he said since breasts are made of mammary glands and not actual muscle, it is nearly impossible to remove all breast tissue. But 90% is a very good number. If you have had all your kids and you are between the ages of 35 and 40, removing the ovaries and fallopian tubes will reduce ovarian cancer and if done before natural menopause further reduces the risk of breast cancer by up to 50%. Tamoxifen, a hormone therapy, reduces the risk for estrogen responsive cancers.

The Bottom Line With a BRCA2 Positive Diagnosis

…is that it is not the end of the world. Rather, it is the beginning of taking a heightened look at what you are doing for screening and what you can do to prevent a cancer from happening in the first place. At first the news can be devastating, especially when kids are involved, but knowing all the facts makes knowing this news actually beneficial. And since the point is to be around for a long time to come, knowing whether you are positive or negative is something important to know.

Image of flowers courtesy Henry Lorenzatto via unsplash.

Tamoxifen: Reducing Your Chance of Getting Breast Cancer

What is tamoxifen?

Tamoxifen is a hormone therapy for breast cancer, and works as a preventative for people who are at high risk for developing breast cancer.

Sand and Succotash | Tamoxifen Structural Formula

SERMs – Agonist-Antagonist Properties

Tamoxifen acts as an agonist-antagonist where estrogen is concerned on different parts of the body.

Tamoxifen citrate is a ‘selective estrogen receptor modulator’, or SERM for short. SERMs act as estrogen antagonists binding to estrogen receptors, and preventing estrogen from binding in the breast. But SERMs conversely act at the same time (‘selectively’) as estrogen agonists on the uterus. Meaning while it significantly decreases the occurrence of breast cancer, it increases the chance of getting endometrial and uterine cancers.

Tamoxifen and Triple Negative Breast Cancers

Triple negative breast cancer is a type of cancer that tests negative for all three hormone receptors (estrogen receptor-negative, progesterone receptor-negative, and HER2-negative) therefore tamoxifen will not help with this cancer since triple negative cancer isn’t estrogen based.

My breast cancer is triple negative, but my oncologist prescribed me tamoxifen because I’m BRCA2 positive. She figured it wouldn’t hurt to have this level of protection to prevent an estrogen based breast cancer from occurring during the time between the end of chemo and the date of my double mastectomy.

Drug Interactions

Certain drugs may interfere with the potency and effectiveness of tamoxifen. Drugs that inhibit the enzyme CYP2D6 all do this. The enzyme CYP2D6 is needed to break down tamoxifen into molecules, or metabolites, which activates it. These drugs include SSRI antidepressants (selective serotonin reuptake inhibibors) such as Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft. Other common drugs that interfere with this enzyme are diphenydramine (Benedryl, an antihistamine), quinidine (Cardioquin, for abnormal heart rhythm), and cimetidine (Tagamet, reduces stomach upset). Also, people who have abnormal CYP2D6 enzyme function may not get the full benefit of tamoxifen, either.

Benefits of Tamoxifen

Tamoxifen has been proven to lower the chance of high-risk women getting breast cancer, and lowers the chance of the cancer metastasizing, or spreading, for women who currently have ductal carcinoma in situ – meaning breast cancer found only in the milk ducts. Tamoxifen reduces the risk of a new cancer developing in the other breast when cancer was only found in one breast. It can also help shrink large hormone-receptor cancers before surgery.

Risks of Tamoxifen

There are risks with using tamoxifen. The main ones are hot flashes, mood swings, loss of libido, and night sweats. Since this tamoxifen is an estrogen agonist in the uterus, there is an increased risk of developing endometrial and uterine cancers. This side effect increases with use, so the typical prescription for this drug is 5 years tops. Other side effects are blood clots and stroke.

Women who are pregnant or nursing should not take tamoxifen as the drug may damage developing embryos. Women of child bearing age should use non-hormone contraception (condoms, diaphrams with spermicide, and IUDs) for two months following tamoxifen use. Also, women who are breastfeeding should not take tamoxifen as it may pass through the milk to the baby.




Healing the Vegan Way by Mark Reinfeld

At the root of most diseases or chronic ailments such age-onset diabetes, high blood pressure, and atherosclerosis lies a major cause – poor eating habits and a diet filled with overly processed foods. Mark Reinfeld offers his solution and an alternative way to gain better health through his unique ‘food-as-medicine’ approach with Healing the Vegan Way.

Reinfeld holds a master’s degree in holistic nutrition and he uses his knowledge of plant based nutrition to create meal plans, recipes, and ways to set up your kitchen for natural food preparation success. In addition to this being a cookbook, Healing the Vegan Way introduces the reader to a more healthy way of life with Reinfeld’s “slices of the pie of our life.” Truly great advice for anyone.

  1. Healthy plant-based diet – moving from processed foods and animal products to plant-based foods.
  2. Moderate exercise – to strengthen you from the inside and increase energy levels.
  3. Positive attitude – negative attitudes often create unhealthy patterns.
  4. Adequate rest and meditation – not just getting enough sleep, but partake in ways to calm your stressful life.
  5. Periodic cleansing – to give your digestive system a rest.
  6. Engaging community and social life – to support healthy lifestyle practices.

Book Overview

The book is separated into two parts. Part One: The Healing touches on preventative health issues, nutritional theories, and different popular diets. Sprinkled throughout this section is The Experts Speak and Healing Stories with information and advice from people who are experts in their respective fields and stories of real people positively affected by plant-based diets. Many diets are explained here, and as the author points out, many are diametrically opposed to each other. This is where the author goes into what the base of every menu should grow on and the many benefits of eating raw whole foods. Vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, grains, herbs and spices, and superfoods are all talked about in detail.

Part two has all the recipes, and there are 200 different ones to try. Before dishing out the different recipes, Reinfeld shows how you can prepare your kitchen, use proper cooking techniques, and stock your pantry for cooking success. You’ll see ‘template recipes’ throughout the book. These are unique recipes that enable you to change the recipe with whatever you have on hand at the moment.

Sand and Succotash | Mushroom Cauliflower Tacos

Healing the Vegan Way Recipes

The recipes are all plant-based. You will find a little of everything from breakfast dishes, spice mixes, elixirs, main dishes, and sweet snacks. Basic recipes like Truffled Cashew Cheeze, Raw Brazil Nut Parmesan, Homemade Granola, and Simple Vegan Cream Sauce make Healing the Vegan Way a great go-to recipe guide for your daily menus. Great read. Enjoy the recipe from the book below.

Mushroom Cauliflower Tacos
Serves 6
For a grain-free version, serve the filling in lettuce or cabbage wraps.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
10 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
10 min
  1. 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  2. 1/2 cup diced yellow onion
  3. 3 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
  4. 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
  5. 1 cup diced mushrooms (try shiitake, cremini, or button)
  6. 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  7. 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  8. 2 cups diced cauliflower
  9. 1 teaspoon chili powder
  10. 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  11. Pinch of chipotle chile powder or cayenne pepper
  12. 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  13. 1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
  14. 6 vegan corn tortillas
  1. Place the coconut oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add the garlic, bell pepper, mushrooms, salt, and pepper and cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. Add the cauliflower, chili powder, cumin, and chipotle chile powder and cook until the cauliflower is just tender, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the lime juice and cilantro and mix well. Lower the heat to low to keep filling warm.
  3. Warm the tortillas briefly by placing them one at a time in a dry sauté pan over high heat, flipping with tongs until just warmed through.
  4. Place the mushroom cauliflower filling inside the tortillas, top with your condiments of choice, and enjoy!
  1. - Add 1/2 teaspoon of seeded and diced jalapeno pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of paprika.
  2. - Add 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts.
  3. - Replace 1 cup of the cauliflower with diced tempeh or tofu.
  4. - Replace the tortillas with hard taco shells.
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Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher and any opinions are my own. Any affiliate links help to support the site. 🙂

The Difference Between Groats, Steel Cut, Old-Fashioned, and Instant Oatmeal

Sand and Succotash | The Difference in Oats

A well stocked pantry includes basics to help create a last minute dinner or to enrich meals already in progress. Oats are a good thing to have in any pantry. There are four basic types of oats available to the healthy cook for meal planning and recipe creating, and they all relate to how processed they are – from the whole oat to the instant type. Oats can be used as is (a hot cereal), as a filler or binder (ground beef for meatballs), to add thickness (inside smoothies), or even a jolt of fiber (adding oat flour in place of some of the all-purpose flour when baking).

Oats are high in protein, and are great for good digestion. They are naturally whole grain. Oat themselves are gluten-free. Save any extra oatmeal prepared for breakfast, too. Any plain leftover prepared oats can be added to soups and chowders, or even stirred into quick breads.

Whole Oat Groats

These are the whole oats themselves, in their whole form. Groats in general are the actual hulled kernel of grains. Plain oat groats are cooked at a ratio of 1 part oat groats to 3 parts water with a pinch of salt. It takes about an hour to cook at a low simmer, but well worth it if you are looking for a chewy texture for a breakfast cereal. Whole groats can be cooked by themselves or added with other whole grains for a unique grain pilaf dish.

Steel Cut and Ground Oats

Often called ‘Irish’ or ‘Scottish’ oats, these oats are cut rather than rolled. Stone grinding produces pieces of oats of varying sizes. When looking at them, they resemble chopped up rice pieces rather than flattened oat grains. Scottish oats differs from Irish oats as these are ground rather than cut. Allow for longer cooking times when preparing both types, and when made for breakfast steel cut or ground oats will yield a heartier, richer, and more chewy texture than old-fashioned or instant oats.

Old-Fashioned Oats

These are sometimes just called rolled oats and look like flat ovals. This kind of oatmeal has the kernels steamed first, then rolled. These take longer to cook than instant or quick-cooking oatmeal but are much quicker than steel cut or ground. Since they are processed less than the quick-cooking types, and the texture is firmer than instant. These kind of oats can be added as a filler or binder to ground meat dishes and quick breads.

Quick Cooking Oatmeal

Also called instant, this type of oatmeal contains precooked oats that are dried and rolled, and cooking them is very easy, even with just very hot water. Quick-cooking oatmeal goes well into shakes and smoothies where a softer texture is needed or oats quickly softened is desired. It has the same nutrition as all the other oats, but the consistency and texture will be much softer and less chewy.

Nestle Narrowing Its Ingredient List to Those Consumers Are Familiar With

Great article via Food Business News – “Why Nestle changed its lasagna recipe.” Nestle is narrowing its ingredient list across the board, eventually changing all 140 dishes in its Stouffers line.

The new “kitchen Cupboard” commitment involves changing their recipes to include what consumers already have in their kitchen cupboards and pantries – notably they are ditching things like autolyzed yeast extract and carrageenan. They are beginning with their lasagna dishes.

Since many of the hard-to-pronounce ingredients produce an Unami flavor profile to the palette, they are testing with adding soy flavoring. Soy sauce is a soy flavoring inside most home pantries that gives an Unami flavor to dishes.

Great move by Stouffers.

Full article here.

Breast Biopsy Procedures

If a lump is discovered, then the next probable course will be to get a biopsy done to determine what it is. In most cases, lumps are benign (a cyst for example). If you need a biopsy, here is what you need to know.

Differences in Breast Biopsies

There are different biopsies that can be done to determine what the lump is, and if it is cancerous, whether or not the cancer has spread. I had two: a breast core biopsy (which determined that I, in fact, had breast cancer), and a sentinel lymph node biopsy (which determined that no cancer was found in my lymph nodes).

Breast Core Biopsy or a Core Needle Biopsy

This biopsy is done by a radiologist under local anesthesia with the guidance of an ultrasound. This differs from a simple needle biopsy as the needle is larger, and is hollow to allow for more tissue to be removed at one time. Since more tissue is removed the results are more accurate.

The ultrasound is used to help identify what the lump is and where it is located in the breast. When I had my mammogram, my radiologist didn’t like the look of one of my lumps so he strongly advised an immediate biopsy (he literally said to me, “I don’t like the look of this one”). So, I had an immediate core needle biopsy right there. I had three lumps in my breast, one of the lumps was the one I was concerned about, and two very small ones that I didn’t even know were there. The two small ones turned out to be benign cysts.

Breast Core Needle Biopsy Procedure 

First thing, the area of concern is identified on the ultrasound. Second, the area where the radiologist will remove the tissue will be numbed with local anesthesia – expect this to hurt a little. You won’t feel the actual needle removing the tissue but you will feel these smaller needles and they do pinch. The tissue samples will then be removed with a thicker needle that can accommodate larger tissue samples.

During the procedure you will hear a series of clicks – that is the needle removing the tissue at the site. After this procedure, you will be a little sore around that area. I had some bruising, and some bleeding at the cut sites (they tested more than one lump) but they healed up quickly.

Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy

The sentinel lymph node biopsy is done a little different, and it will be under general anesthesia, meaning you will be put under. A radioactive substance and a blue dye will be injected near the actual cancerous tumor site, and where ever it first travels to is where the sentinel lymph node is.

What is a Sentinel Lymph Node?

A sentinel lymph node is the first single lymph node, or grouping of lymph nodes, that could indicate that a cancer has spread as this is where the cancer first travels to if it has traveled at all. A lymph node’s job is to assist the body in the removal and filtration of toxins, bacteria, and cancer cells.

After the sentinel lymph node biopsy, you will be either node-negative or node-positive. Node-negative means that there was no cancer present in the first lymph nodes that the dyes have traveled to.

Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy. Image courtesy

Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy. Image courtesy

The Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy Procedure

You will be asleep during this procedure. In my case, I had one doctor inject the radioactive substance and the dye into me, and another surgeon doing the actual following of the path and removal of the lymph nodes. Both substances injected in you will help to identify the lymphatic path – the radiocolloid makes the path accurate and the blue dye helps to easily see it. The radiocolloids used in this procedure will stay in the sentinel lymph node, and any remaining radioactive substance lingering in your body will soon dissipate so you shouldn’t worry about yourself glowing at nighttime.

Once the single lymph node (could be a cluster of lymph nodes depending on your body’s path) is identified – the radiocolloid and blue dye will follow the same path to the first lymph node – then that lymph node is removed for further testing. If there is no cancer present, it is referred to as node-negative, and it means that no cancer was found in the first lymph node and has not spread to other lymph nodes. If there is cancer present in the sentinel lymph node, it is referred to as node-positive, and it means there is a chance the cancer has spread to other parts of the body via the lymphatic system.

Benefits and Side Effects of Removing Lymph Nodes During Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy

The major benefit of this biopsy is to identify if the cancer has spread. When the lymph nodes are identified with the radioactive dye, they are removed. If it is just the one, then only one lymph node is removed. If multiple lymph nodes look suspicious or are colored, then they will be removed at this time.

Side effects of this procedure will be swelling at the site, bruising, and soreness. You will have a definite scar from the surgery right under the arm at the breast. If many lymph nodes are removed you may end up with lymphedema, which is the build up of lymph fluids.

For more information on my breast cancer path and how it may help you if you are going through it, visit

Oysters for the Cure: Pink Ribbon Oysters

Need fresh oysters, and want to help in the fight against breast cancer? Pink Ribbon Oysters would be the way to go. Since I’m currently in the fight, I love this idea. Pink Ribbon Oysters come out of Long Island, and 25% net revenue of each oyster sold is donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.


Image courtesy Pink Ribbon Oysters.

Read about them over on Dana Point Fish Company, or donate directly to them at the Pink Ribbon Oyster fundraising page.

Eat It Up! by Sherri Brooks Vinton

What’s the best way to save on your monthly grocery bill? Use up everything you can and throw as little away as possible. If you need a little help in this area, Eat It Up! comes to the rescue with produce insights, pantry tips, upcycling scraps recipes, and how to use up every bit of that whole chicken you came home with.

Sand and Succotash | Eat It Up! Cookbook

It isn’t just a way to save money, though. Food waste is a growing problem everywhere, and is sometimes exemplified when there isn’t a market for the good, nutritious, and completely edible by-product food that gets discarded. For example, Vinton writes:

Cauliflower heads are plucked from the center of the plant, the abundant wreath of nutritious leaves that surround it – pounds of fresh, nutritious food – are left to rot on the ground. They’re readily available and taste great, but there’s no market for them, so they go uneaten.

Other reasons to fully utilize what you’ve got: saves time; tastes great; preserves natural resources; gives farmer’s kudos; maximizes farmland productivity. The author suggests ways to reduce food waste in the way you actually shop – by buying directly from the grower, and looking for ugly foods (seconds and misshapen produce) and ‘trash’ fish (by-catches).

Eat It Up! Overview

The book is presented in 5 different sections with each one a great source of info. What’s Up with Eating It Up chapter is the ‘why and how of reducing food waste in your home kitchen.’ Nose-to-Tail Produce is a great chapter, and in it there are lots of great tips and suggestions on how to fully use up all the produce scraps you might typically throw out. The Whole Beast helps with the concept of using up the whole animal. Rendering fat, purifying drippings, using up bones, and storing and freezing extra eggs are all covered. The Pantry section gives your last bit of jam or pickles one last use before recycling the jar. A Little Extra – Upcycling has a few recipes to use up leftovers in the refrigerator.

Using Up Every Bit From What You Already Have

While clean eating may be a great start to healthy eating, using up every bit of what we buy or harvest saves on food waste. Food waste is a chronic problem, and controlling what we toss at home is a major step in reversing that trend. Namely, eating eat up what we already have instead of throwing it out.

Watermelon rinds are a prime example in our household. We eat a ton of watermelon during the summer months (even our two boxers are watermelon lovers) and we discard all the edible rind every single time. It’s edible, but what can it be used for? Peel off the green outer skin and dice it up for chutney or pickles.

The recipe below transforms watermelon rinds into a refreshing pickle salad. Salty, sour, sweet – all these flavors blend for a great dish that goes perfect with steamed fish or grilled chicken. Delicious.

Thai Rind Salad
Yields 4
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  1. 2 cups watermelon rind, cut into matchsticks (just the white part)
  2. 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  3. 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  4. 1 teaspoon nam pla (Thai fish sauce)
  5. 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  6. Pinch of salt
  7. Pinch of granulated sugar
  8. 1/4 cup neutral oil, such as organic canola
  9. 1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into matchsticks
  10. 1 shallot, sliced thinly, rinsed, and drained
  11. Pinch of red pepper flakes
  12. 1/4 cup chopped peanuts
  13. 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  1. Blanch the watermelon matchsticks. Drop them into a small pot of boiling water and simmer for 60 seconds. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a colander. Rinse under cold water. Drain, blot dry, and set aside.
  2. In a medium-size bowl, whisk the lime juice, nam pla, soy sauce, salt, and sugar until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Gradually whisk in the oil. Add the blanched watermelon rind, cucumber, shallot, and red pepper flakes. Toss to combine. Garnish with the peanuts and cilantro. Serve immediately.
Adapted from Eat It Up! by Sherri Brooks Vinton
Adapted from Eat It Up! by Sherri Brooks Vinton
Sand & Succotash

Book Info:

  • Eat It Up! by Sherri Brooks Vinton.
  • Da Capo; 2016.
  • ISBN13: 9780738218182

Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher and any opinions are my own. Affiliate links help to support this site. 🙂

Excerpted from Eat It Up!: 150 Recipes to Use Every Bit and Enjoy Every Bite of the Food You Buy by Sherri Brooks Vinton. Copyright © 2016. Available from Da Capo Lifelong Books, an imprint of Perseus Books, LLC, a subsidiary of Hachette Book Group, Inc.