Tru Foods E book Guide: 21 day Depression Free meal and supplement plan: sneak peek!

Sneak Peek at my E book: Tru Foods Nutrition 21 day Depression Free guide, meal and supplement plan. 

woman reading pic

I  have been working on a book on addressing root causes but it has been taking longer than expected and is ending up much longer than I ever imagined!

During this time my son lost another friend to suicide and I felt like I needed to do something-to get something out there to help others.  So while I am still working on the book I put this diet plan together for those that just want to do something to feel better instead of reading and understanding all the “whys”. 

The E book is almost completed but I am waiting for my web designer to be available so that I can put it up for sale on my website.  My weakness is my lack of computer skills!  I would much rather a professional set it up for sale on my site rather than me make a mess of it!  It will cost somewhere around $12.99 and has a lot of useful information and resources.  Here is a peak.  More sneak peaks to come so keep checking back to my blog!

Who this plan is for:

  • Anyone suffering with depression who is ready to make some dietary changes to feel better
  • For parents and families that are looking for die plan that can help their child/loved one. 
  • Anyone with depression related to known cause (i.e.: bullying, death of loved one, divorce, traumatic event, etc.….) you will learn how these types of known causes of your depression impact your body and what to do to support it nutritionally.  This does not mean to stop your therapy sessions that can help you address your exogenous causes of your depression. 
  • Anyone suffering from depression with no known cause (i.e.: life is good but you still feel depressed)
  • Anyone who also has ADD/ADHD, anxiety, racing mind, insomnia, fatigue or negative thought patterns
  • Anyone who also has some digestive and gut issues such as acid reflux, GERD, and asthma that is triggered by the acid reflux
  • Anyone who also has skin conditions such as eczema, rosacea, psoriasis or acne
  • Families looking to help their child/teenager living with them who has depression

What this plan is:

  • A healthy plan to get you feeling better with more energy, improved moods, less depression or none at all, anxiety reduction and overall positive sense of well-being.
  • A nutrient dense meal plan with supplement/herbal recommendations that are supportive for one with depression
  • Recipes provided that are nutrient dense and taste good too/even additional recipes so that you can make tweaks to the meal plan and adjust based on foods you like. 
  • Anti-inflammatory dietary plan
  • Blood sugar balancing dietary plan
  • Thyroid supportive
  • Anti-candida diet plan
  • Immune supportive
  • Microbiome supportive
  • low sugar, balanced macronutrients, micronutrient dense
  • Supports healthy cortisol levels
  • A dietary plan that eliminates the most common delayed food allergens and food sensitivity foods that can cause mental health issues. 
  • A 21 day plan that does not allow cheat days. (We will discuss when to add those in.  It is critical that you follow the plan for 21 days if you want to see improvements in your mental health. )

Who this plan may pose a challenge for:

  • This meal plan does contain red meats and poultry:  I will provide alternatives in this menu plan for those of you who do not eat meat.  If you are a vegetarian, you may want to try adding in humanely raised meat (or wild caught fish) at least a couple of times per week (see sources for humanely raised grass fed meats at the end).  If not, you will need to focus more on making sure your protein needs are met with legumes/beans and non- gluten grains.  If you eat eggs, add those in.  If your major protein source is from dairy you will need to avoid dairy for the 21 days for this plan to be effective with the exception of whey protein powder and heavy cream and grass fed butter.   A  B12 supplement will be necessary for you while on this 21 day depression free diet plan if avoiding meat/poultry.
  • Nut allergy: this meal plan does include nuts, nut flours, and recipes with nuts.  I do offer alternatives in some places but if you have an allergy to nuts (other than the legume peanut) this may be a challenging meal plan for you. If you have only a peanut allergy, then you are fine as there are neither peanuts nor peanut butter in this plan. 
  • Anyone who does not think they can stick to the plan for 21 days –if this sounds like you but you really want to start feeling better, please enlist someone that can help you to stick to this plan.  Is there someone that can motivate you to shop for ingredients, or to help you prep meals and so forth?  It is always good to have support.  Please ask- often times we don’t want to bother anyone with our problems but you will be surprised how people may jump to help you for the next 21 days.  
  • Families who are looking to change their child/teens diet for depression but not their own.  If you are looking to help your child who is suffering and you think that you only need to change his or her diet but not the one for the household then don’t do this diet plan. For this to work for a young family member the family must commit when in the house or out and about with your child or teen.  They will need all the support they can get.  You cannot expect her to follow this plan for 21 days while you sit next to her eating pizza and a diet coke. 
  • A whole foods, balanced meal plan to support neurotransmitter production. 

What this plan is not:

  • This is not a weight loss plan-although some may lose weight on it.  I do not include amounts of foods in most places in this plan. I cannot do so as I do not know your age, activity level and so forth.  Listen to your body and let it be the guide-it will tell you how much enough is. 
  • It is not meant as a replacement for your medical care. Rather share this information with your doctor and hopefully your medical provider will be supportive of the dietary changes that you are making to improve your health. 
  • This is not a cure: rather this is a way to bring back balance to your body. I am nutrition professional-as such I do not diagnose, cure or treat.   I cannot guarantee success since this plan does not address individual, biochemical individuality.  However, if you do follow this plan I do feel that since it addresses many underlying root causes of depression, positive results will be seen. 
  • Not an 80/20 plan. This is not a plan that you can go on for a day or two, then off for a few days and then back on or follow for breakfast and lunch but not for dinner and late night snacks.  If you choose to do so, you won’t get the desired results. Stick with it; you can do it-keep telling yourself it is only for 21 days!
  • It is not a cleanse or detox plan
  • It does not address Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), small intestinal bowel overgrowth (SIBO) or Inflammatory Bowel disease (IBD). This plan may help with your symptoms but often there are other supplements/herbs and other dietary needs for those with these conditions.  If you have depression and IBS, SIBO or IBD please contact me and we can create a tailored plan to meet both of your conditions. 
  • This is not a low carb plan. This is a moderate carb plan.  Going too low carb can deplete serotonin.
Keep checking back for more sneak peaks and alerts as to when the E book is available. 
Karen Brennan, MSW, NC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition (candidate) and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC believes in addressing root causes not symptom management with diet and supplement support. For more information, visit her website at
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Beet, Watercress and Walnut salad. Paleo and vegetarian friendly

Beet Salad with Walnuts and Watercress

Gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian, Paleo

Serves 4 to 6



  • 3 to 4 beets peeled and cut into small chunks
  • 1 bunch watercress chopped (can substitute kale or spinach)
  • 1 c. raw walnuts
  • 3 T. EVOO
  • 2 T. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T. local honey
  • 2 T. chopped basil
  • ¼ t. sea salt


  1. Place cubed beets into a steamer basket.  Steam for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender.  Place in bowl to cool.
  2. Place watercress into steamer basket and steam for about 5 minutes.  Place in bowl with beets
  3. Place walnuts into a small glass dish and roast in over at 350 for 10 minutes.  Don’t let them burn.  Place into same bowl.
  4. In small bowl whisk the EVOO through sea salt together.  Top w/ground pepper if desired. 


Karen Brennan of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC believes in addressing root causes through diet, lifestyle and supplements.  To learn more, visit her website at  







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I have a confession to make…


I have a confession to make……

As a nutrition professional you may not want to see me.  Here’s why.

I am not going to sugar coat, say only what you want to hear, and tippy toe around issues.  If you paid good money and have taken time out of your day to see me then I am not going to waste your time by beating around the bush.

 Some people may not like this. 

Do you want health results or do you only want to hear what you want to hear?  Do you cherry pick certain foods or supplements from a protocol tailored for you and then get frustrated because you didn’t get any results? 

If you can give me 90% to 100% commitment than you will get 110% commitment back from me.  This does not mean we dive right in to a complete change.  Rather we develop a plan for you that you can stick to and follow through with.  This means also communicating with me to let me know what’s not working so we can make adjustments and tweaks.  If you commit to getting your health back so you can live your life the way you want to, then I will support, guide and help you the entire way. 

What usually happens instead? 

Many people make the commitment to the first appointment.  We come up with a starting place, our initial plan, but many people do not follow through.  A starting place is just that, and so you won’t achieve desired results.  Desired health results are not going to be achieved overnight and they are not going to be achieved if you do not follow through.

This may sound harsh, I know.  I see too many people complaining about health issues and taking so many herbs and supplements and can’t figure out why they are not better.  Popping vitamins over pills is not the solution to your health woes.  Some may be warranted but taking your vitamin D with a low fat meal or taking some herbs with your big mac is not the answer.  Nor is the answer getting your health advice from coworkers or friends, unless they are health professionals. 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick and tired and are ready to make a change, to commit, then give me a call. I don’t bite, although after reading this you may think I do.  I want to help you get back to healthy living.  I cannot do this if I am not honest with you, but I promise you I will do whatever I can to assist you, educate you and get you to where you want to be. 

I’m 110% committed, how about you?

Set up your appointment so that you can finally get back to enjoying life. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, NC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition ® (candidate) is the owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC.  If you are ready to take back your health, give her a call. 303-522-0381


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16 herbs and supplements for allergy relief

Seasonal Allergies:

Find out what to do “off-season” and what to do right now for allergy symptom relief-the natural way!

person sneezing

It is that time of year when eyes start to itch; you have a runny nose or congestion, an itchy throat and are constantly sneezing. Do you rely on OTC anti-histamine products or just suffer through it? 

There are natural ways to relive your seasonal allergies. Read on for allergy relief!

Everyone is different so it may take a few tries before you find the right product that works for your body. After allergy season (and even during and before) it is best to start working on supporting your gut health and immune health so that you can reduce or eliminate your allergies come next season. 

Why you should avoid OTC allergy medication

A new study found that medications such as anticholinergics (of which Benadryl is classified) found an increase in brain atrophy, dysfunction, and cognitive decline in users, especially older adults. Don’t think that just because a medication is OTC that it is safe. 

An allergy medication that has been linked to increased suicide risk is Singular. This medication is also used to treat asthma attacks.  While this drug is by prescription only, many may take Sudafed as an OTC alternate for relief.  Sudafed has also been related to suicidal ideation in some.  If you do choose medication, please do your homework first or talk to a professional first about whether these meds are the safest option for you. 

Why has there been an increase in seasonal allergies?

  • Cleanliness, our lack of exposure to environmental microbes-do kids play in the dirt anymore? Look at all the anti-bacterial soap we buy and use. While having good hygiene is a plus, too much of a good thing can disrupt the normal immune development and will increase your risk for allergies.
  • Antibiotics
  • Birth by C-section
  • Not having pets in the home
  • formula feeding
  • Pollen counts continue to rise-blame it on air pollution. Many types of pollen such as ragweed are toxic. They contain enzymes that damage the lining of your nose and lungs when you breathe them in. This sets the stage for rising allergies.

All this sets the body up for lack of diversity in our microbes and contributes to allergies. When on antibiotics, especially repeated usage, this will disrupt the gut microbiome.  A birth by C-section means the baby did not get the healthy bacteria from its mother.  Studies show that those who have pets in the home or those who grow up on farms tend to have fewer incidences of allergies. Studies also show that if you have access to and drink raw milk your chance of seasonal allergies is also reduced. 

When is the best time to address allergy symptom relief?

Actually, it’s not when your symptoms appear every season, rather you should be addressing them by supporting your immune system year round.

As always, food first! If you take supplements and herbs but still eat like crap then you are wasting your efforts and money! 

What to add in year round to support your body

  • Address delayed food allergies/sensitivities:  Seasonal allergies may be related to delayed food allergies (see my blog post April 2016) or food sensitivities. Get tested or do food elimination diet.
  • Manage stress: stress can impact your immune system and your adrenal glands. Support the body with whole foods, mineral salts and adaptogens if adrenal fatigue is an issue for you. (for more on adrenal fatigue read Adrenal Fatigue by Dr. Wilson or go online and take the adrenal fatigue quiz)
  • Reduce/eliminate sugar: sugar lowers WBC count and reduces immune function. Opt for raw, local honey in small doses instead. (see note below on bee products and seasonal allergies)
  • Address gut health with Probiotics and Prebiotics: probiotics will help to populate the good bacteria in your gut. The prebiotics are essentially food for your good bacteria to help them thrive. Choose supplement form or add in raw garlic and onions, raw asparagus, kombucha, kefir, raw fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut, raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar and fermented soy
  • Vitamin C: while we get vitamin C from our whole foods such as fruits and vegetables the amount that we get from these foods has been greatly diminished over the past 80 years or so. Take vitamin C with bioflavonoids at 500-1,000 mg. daily. Children can take ¼-1/8 this amount depending on size.
  • Vitamin D: in studies with children with seasonal allergies, low vitamin D status was associated with higher risk of allergies, especially to birch, ragweed and oak. It is best to know your vitamin D levels before supplementing. Safe dose is 2,000 IU daily of D3. Avoid D2 as it is synthetic. If you choose products fortified with vitamin D, know that this too is vitamin D2, the synthetic form which is difficult for the body to absorb.
  • NAC: this stands for N-Acetyl-Cysteine. This is the precursor to glutathione, our master antioxidant which also helps to balance the immune system. Take NAC at 50-100 mg. 3 times daily.
  • Curcumin: this is a compound found in turmeric. This enhances the immune system and can be taken year round. It also reduces inflammation and thus may also be good for symptom relief. (I like a brand called Curamed by and it can also be found in many natural health stores.)


Symptom Relief

You do not need to try all of these-pick a few and see what works for you. Always check with your doctor, ND, nutritionist or herbalist before adding in herbs if you are on any medications, are pregnant or breastfeeding or have chronic health conditions.  Some herbs can interact with medications while others are safe to take short term but not long term. It is best to work with someone knowledgeable in herbs for these reasons. 

  • Butterbur: butterbur can relax smooth muscle spasms and inhibit inflammatory histamines. Take in standardized form for symptom relief. Studies show that those who take butterbur in standardized tablets or in extract form 3 times daily get the greatest relief of their symptoms.
  • Nettle: stinging nettle can provide dramatic relief from hay fever and stops a runny nose due to its anti-histamine properties. In capsules or tablets take 500 to 1,000 mg. 3 times per day. In some studies patients were given 600 mg. of freeze dried stinging nettle leaf at the onset of allergy season and then 300 mg. as needed with the average dose 3 times per day during the allergy season.


  • Serrapeptase: this is an enzyme that can help reduce swelling in the lungs and make breathing easier. It is helpful for congestion, runny nose and post nasal drip associated with allergies. It is marketed as a joint supplement due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Veganzyme is a trusted brand from This product contains Serrapeptase but other supportive enzymes as well such as bromelain which is also known to be effective for seasonal allergy symptoms. 


  • Quercetin: this can help prevent seasonal allergic reactions if started soon enough. Quercetin can also be found in onions and apples. Take in tablet form 125-250 mg. 3 times per day between meals for 6-8 weeks before the allergy season begins.

Some people prefer Source Naturals Activated Quercetin at 2 capsules 3 times per day.

Do not take quercetin if you are on the immune suppressing drug cyclosporine or the calcium channel blocker nifedipine.

  • Ginger: reduces allergic inflammation. Take capsules, 1,000 mg. 3-4 times daily between meals for 6-8 weeks before the allergy season begins. 
  • Horseradish: this will relieve sinus congestion and helps to deter future allergy attacks. If you can handle it, eat ½-1 teaspoon daily until symptoms subside. 


  • Rooibos: many know rooibos tea as very antioxidant rich herb with the green rooibos being higher in antioxidants than the red but either way both are still good sources of antioxidants. Rooibos also acts as an antihistamine and is also helpful if you have food allergies. Drink one cup of the tea 1-3 times per during allergy season but it is also good to drink all year round. This tea is caffeine free and can withstand long brewing times and does not get bitter with reuse.


  • Chamomile: this can reduce the intensity and duration of allergic reactions due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Drink one cup of tea 2-3 times per day. Chamomile is relaxing for the nervous system so you may want to save one cup for before bedtime.Chamomile is considered a very safe herb, however those who are allergic to ragweed may be allergic to chamomile-use with caution the very first time you try it. Teas are less potent than in tincture form. 


  • Scutellaria (skullcap): It is used for allergies, hay fever and other respiratory conditions. It contains chemicals that may prevent histamine from provoking hay fever attacks. One of the compounds interferes with a complex set of hormonal reactions that constrict the bronchial tubes during asthma attacks. This also relieves headaches that are associated with hay fever. Take in capsule form 1,000-2,000 mg. 3 times per day. Do not confuse this herb with American skullcap as the two herbs are not interchangeable. You want the Asian form and may have to get it via online. Do not purchase one that also contains germander, an herb that can cause liver damage. Do not use if you have chronic diarrhea. 


  • Bee pollen: this must be local! Please talk to your doctor first since you may react to the pollen if you have seasonal allergies. When starting out with local bee pollen take only one pellet at first to make sure you do not react. With each new batch of pollen you purchase, do this test first. If no reaction, then start with 1/8 of a teaspoon daily, gradually working your way up to 1 teaspoon per day. This should be started several months before the beginning of hay fever season. Bee pollen is rich in B vitamins and other nutrients and if no reaction you can eat this daily, year round. You can add it to cold dishes such as smoothies, yogurt or chia seed pudding or just eat your dose daily off the spoon! Bee pollen is like a natural allergy shot-giving you small doses of the pollens you are allergic too and building your immune system over time. Find local farms for your pollen.


  • Green Tea: the xanthines in green tea help relax bronchial spasms and can be effective for allergy symptom relief (and asthma too). Drink 1 cup in the morning (due to caffeine content) daily during allergy season.


  • Diamine Oxidase: This is an enzyme that is responsible for histamine breakdown. For some, the root cause of the allergy symptoms may be due to histamine intolerance. This can be from excess histamine or from a deficiency of the enzyme that breaks it down. Histamine can act as a neurotransmitter and also regulates the production of stomach acid. You need some histamine but you don’t want it too elevated (or too low for that matter). Restore gut balance to resolve the histamine issue but take this enzyme to assist with high histamine levels. Take in supplement form. This enzyme also requires vitamin B6 to function properly.You can also try a low histamine diet. This would include limiting or advoiding foods such as fermented foods, aged cheese, citrus, fish, shellfish, avocado, spinach, cocoa, and left- over meat to name a few. 


Balch, P. (2012) Prescription for Herbal Healing. 2nd Edition.  NY: Avery

Galland, L & Galland, J. The Allergy Solution: Unlock the Surprising Hidden Truth behind Why your Sick

   and How to Get Well.

Hoffmann, D. Medical Herbalism. (2003) The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Vermont:

   Healing  Arts Press.

Kresser, C. (4/28/16) Got Allergies? Your Microbes could be responsible.

Mars, B. (2007) The Desktop Guide To Herbal Medicine. CA: Basic Health Publications Inc.

Mercola, J. (5/12/16) Suicides are surging.

Skenderi, G. (2003) Herbal vade Mecum. NJ: Herbacy Press.

Tweed, V. ( April 2016) Seasonal Allergies? Get Natural Relief. Better Nutrition, Vol. 78.  No. 4.

Wood, R. (2010) The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia. Penguin Books

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition (candidate), author of the E book Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC believes in food first when addressing the root causes to your health conditions.  For more information, visit her website at




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Mid terms, finals and Exams: 6 Herbs that can help with Focus, Memory and Concentration

Mid Terms and Finals: 6 Herbs that can Support Memory, Learning, Focus and Concentration

person studying


While a healthy diet rich in a variety of whole foods and one that supplies plenty of quality fats, protein and carbs from whole foods is ideal for brain health, we all know that is not always the case with our teens and young adult children who are in high school and college.

Below is a list of herbs and other nutrients that can support brain health during exams.   Either way, opt for one or two and see what works for you or your child. 

If you are pregnant or breast feeding do not take any herbal remedies.  If you are on any medications, consult with your doctor, herbalist, nutritionist or ND prior to taking any herbs or supplements as some can interact with medications. Always dose low and work your way up to higher dosage if needed. 

Do not try all of these.  Pick one or two that you feel addresses your needs. 

Mid- term and Finals Brain Boost

Herbs to Take to Help with Studying and Test Taking


  • Huperzine A: This is not an herb per se but is a compound that is found naturally in some plant species.  The most common plant that it is extracted from is the Chines Club moss.  Take 50-200 mcg. one time daily.   Used for memory, learning enhancement, alertness. This is also used for cognitive decline/dementia in the elderly.  You can take it with or without food. 
  • Bacopa monnieri: This plant that is found in warm wetlands has been shown to nourish the nervous system, boost brain function, and enhance memory and learning.  This herb may be even more effective when combined with Brahmi (Gotu kola) It can be helpful for memory, focus, clarity, mood, attention, learning and concentration.   Research on Bacopa’s memory enhancing effects is still ongoing but current studies are promising.   Studies used 300-450 mg. extract per day for 12 weeks. 
  • Brahmi (Centella asiatica): This  plant is also known as Gotu Kola and is a plant that is grown in tropical climates or in higher, cooler elevations of China or India.  Brahmi has been shown to  decongest the brain lymphatic system and can drain 3 pounds of toxins from the brain each year! When used with Bacopa, these two herbs can work together to boost brain function, memory and learning.  For studying use Bacopa and Brahmi together for enhanced brain effectiveness. Take 500 mg. 3 times per day after each meal. 
  • Vinpocetine: You may want to start stocking up on this product now as it may not be available to the public in the future.       Vinpocetine is a synthesized compound derived from an alkaloid found in the leaves of the Vinca minor plant or from Voacanga seeds.  It is said to increase blood flow to the brain and is used as a memory enhancement.  There have been no reports of adverse effects of taking Vinpocetine so my personal thoughts are that the FDA wants to take this off of the natural health food store shelves because they want to use it in new drugs they are bringing to market.  Take 10-20 mg daily and up to 60 mg. but this high dose is most often used for age related decline. 
  • Rosemary: Rosemary is used for poor memory and has a long history of memory enhancement.  One study showed that those who had been exposed to rosemary via aromatherapy had reduced anxiety, increased alertness and exhibited better performance on memory testing.  Rosemary is available in enteric coated capsules and a daily dose would be 4 to 6 grams. However, even smaller quantities may be sufficient. 
  • Ginkgo biloba: this is the worlds oldest living species of tree.  The leaves are used in herbal remedies.  It is used for age related decline and early onset Alzheimer’s but also shows promise for memory and concentration.  Oral doses taken by healthy volunteers showed that ginkgo is capable of improving cognitive function, mental sharpness, concentration and memory.  Most trials have shown amounts of 120 and 240 mg. of Ginkgo biloba extract used. If purchased in tincture form, start with one dropper per day and work up to 3 droppers per day as needed.   I have found Ginkgo to be dose dependent, meaning more is not always better.  Start out slowly.  If you suffer from migraines avoid this herb. 

When Purchasing Herbs Know this!


Many products when tested contain little if any of the actual herb or do not contain the correct part of the herb or the correct constituents.  If you buy your herbal products from a discount store (many of them that I will not name personally) know that you are probably wasting your money. When purchasing herbs it is best to use reputable and trusted companies. Some that I like (I have no affiliation with any of these companies) include, Gaia herbs, and Herb Pharm.   You can find some of these brands locally but others you may have to order online. 

A Word of Caution!


Everyone thinks more is better. This is not always the case with herbs.  Many are dose dependent.  Follow the guidelines here and always start low and slow and work your way up to a dose that works for you.  Each body reacts differently to herbs based on your body’s needs.  Start using one to two herbs prior to exam time so that you have a plan in place already to help you. 

This information is provided for educational purposes only and is not meant to be used to treat, diagnose or cure.

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition (candidate) is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit her site at

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, then like here fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.




Other Sources

Balch, P. (2012) Prescription for Herbal Healing.  2nd Edition. NY: Avery

Gaby, A. (2006) The Natural Pharmacy. Revised and Updated 3rd Edition. NY: Three Rivers Press. 

Hoffman, D. (2003) Medical Herbalism.  VT: Healing Arts Press. 




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Depression and suicide: missing link

Depression and Suicide in our teens: What is at the root of the increase in suicides?

woman by ocean for depression blog post

Sadly, this past week my son lost his second friend in the past 5 years to suicide. What is happening to our kids?  At his age the only funerals I had attended were that of my own grandmother and my friend’s grandmother. My son has been to too many funerals.  What is going on in our society? 

As some of you may know I am very passionate about looking internally from a holistic nutritional perspective at what is contributing to depression. Even if the contributing factor is known, say stress and pressure of school or being bullied by peers, nutrition still plays a role.   Who eats right when they are under that kind of stress and pressure?  Stress affects our hormones, our adrenal glands, our gut health, digestion, nutrient absorption and more.  All this plays a contributing role in our mental health and depression and can make depressive symptoms worse.

While many seek out a therapist and antidepressant medications, many still have not looked outside the box to alternative therapies for depression such as nutrient, supplement and herbal therapy, neurofeedback, emotional freedom technique, hypnotherapy, infrared sauna or acupuncture. All these can be effective tools in addition to talk therapy. 

Our children, teens and young adults live life on the go, skipping meals, eating out for every meal, consuming highly refined foods and large quantities of sugar. Do your own research-look on the web at all the data to support that what we are consuming is affecting our mental health.  The evidence is out there, yet is seems that one would rather sit on the couch weekly and talk to a counselor, social worker or psychologist rather than give up their fast food and frozen meals.  This is easier than shopping and preparing meals, but is it as effective?

We are depriving our brains of needed nutrients. This can impact our memory, concentration and can contribute to anxiety and depression. We HAVE to start adding in nutrient dense whole foods!

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, please consider looking at dietary needs. Is it food allergies or sensitivities, imbalanced blood sugar, low vitamin D or low cholesterol?   All the concerns I just mentioned (and many more) not only can cause depression but can be fixed with diet.

There are many root causes to depression. I do not believe in a “chemical imbalance” nor do I believe an antidepressant can fix the “chemical imbalance”. There is no validated science out there to support a neurochemical explanation for depression. For some medications can be helpful (after the initial 6 weeks that it takes for them to be effective), for some they work temporarily and for others they end up with terrible side effects from these drugs including suicidal ideation.  But in the end are these drugs covering up underlying health concerns that continue to grow and manifest?

Let’s start looking deeper and internally and get back to healthy ways of eating and living. Try it for 21 days-a complete overhaul of your diet for just 21 days. That it, just 3 weeks out of your life. Then decide if it’s helping you or not. 


Call me if you want to know more about a personalized 21 day challenge diet for depression. Can’t afford nutrition therapy services?  Still call. We can work something out. I don’t turn away those with depression.  Read my “About me” page and you will understand.  I will have my E book on the 21 day depression free diet plan coming out some time in the summer of 2016. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, NC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition (candidate) and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC believes in addressing root causes (not symptom management) with dietary changes, herbs and supplements. She is currently also attending Herbal school and will receive her certification in Oct. 2016.  For more on her services visit her site at  

Karen Brennan is nutrition professional and as such does not treat, cure or diagnose but rather looks at your symptoms from a whole body perspective. The information above is not meant to replace seeking medical advice and treatment for your depression.  Rather, nutrition is meant to support and work along side the therapies and treatment that you are already seeking out. 


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Meals “To Go”: Super fast, easy, healthy lunches for work or school

Lunch in a Mason jar

This is my “To-GO” meal.  I use what I have at home at the time, throw it all into several mason jars and I have lunches on the go for the next few days. In the pictures below I have left over teriyaki chicken as the protein, ton of vegetables, fresh basil and parlsey, nutritional yeast and my oil and vinegar dressing to top it off.  Leave room at the top of the jar so that you can shake it up to get the dressing  mixed through. 

Easy to make, quick, use left overs and toss into jars for lunch for the week. Tailor it to your dietary needs. Paleo mason jar meals, vegetarian, gluten or dairy free-the options are endless!

Add a side of flax seed crackers and hummus or a piece of fruit and you are good to go!

mason jar meal ingred. mason jar meals


3 oz.   cooked meat proteins/4-5 oz. vegetarian proteins


Add in as much and as many of this list as you want


If grain free-omit this category.


Add in ¼ c. to ½ c. of cooked grains

Booster foods

Add in 1-2 T.


Can choose 2 T. of one or 1 T. each of 2 selections


Use 1-2 T. of topping.


Make a big batch of your own. Do not buy bottled/premade dressings

·         eggs, any style (2)

·         Wild caught salmon

·         canned sardines, canned crabmeat

·         Shrimp, scallops,

·         chicken, turkey

·         black beans

·         garbanzo beans

·         raw, grass fed cheese

·         peas (can add in frozen, no need to cook/defrost)

·         cucumber

·         tomato

·         red onion, sweet onion

·         shredded carrots

·         shredded cabbage

·         sprouts, any kind

·         pea pods, snap peas

·         peppers (all colors)

·         raw chopped asparagus

·         raw garlic minced

·         mushrooms


·         millet

·         amaranth

·         teff

·         quinoa

·         brown rice

·         wild rice

·         basmati white rice

·         red rice


·         nutritional yeast

·         flax seeds ground

·         sesame seeds

·         hemp seeds

·         sunflower seeds

·         poppy seeds

·         slivered almonds

·         chopped walnuts

·         raw fermented sauerkraut

·         olive oil and vinegar dressing blends

·         pesto sauce

·         tomato sauce

·         teriyaki sauce



Karen Brennan, MSW, NC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition (candidate) and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC believes in addressing root health issues (not symptom management) with food first.  For more recipes and information, visit her website at

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Zucchini “cheesy” pasta dish. Gluten, soy and dairy free. Vegetarian

Zucchini Pasta with Cheesy tomato sauce

Gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian

zucchini pasta tomato nutrtional yeast zucchini spiralizized into pasta

Tools needed: spiralizer. This is a cheap and easy tool to use to make veggie pasta


  • ½ c. EVOO
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ¾ cup almonds ( I used slivered)
  • 1/3 c. nutritional yeast
  • sea salt
  • 1 t. Italian Seasoning
  • ½ t. red pepper
  • 2 lg. zucchini spiralizer
  • 2-3 c. mushrooms sliced
  • 1 pound grape tomatoes
  • ½ c. chopped fresh basil


  1. In a food processor, add in the oil, garlic, nuts, yeast, salt, Italian seasoning, red pepper. When blended this should look like pesto.
  2. Transfer to a large pot. Add in the zucchini noodles, mushrooms and tomatoes.
  3. Cook on high and toss the ingredients to blend
  4. Cook 10-15 minutes. Garnish with fresh basil.
  5. Note: for a more traditional sauce texture you can add in canned or boxed tomatoes and some tomato sauce as desired.

Karen Brennan, MSW, NC, is Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition (candidate) and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. She believes in restoring body balance and addressing root causes of health issues( instead of symptom management) with food first.  Visit her website for more information and for her newsletter. 

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Food Allergies: How to know if a delayed food allergy response is causing your physical and mental health symptoms

Food Allergies: How do you know if you have one?

Why you may have a delayed food allergy response and don’t know it.

bread milk food allergies


Before we go into signs that you may have an allergy you first need to know a little bit about the allergic response.

An allergy is when a molecule (the antigen) recognized by the immune system induces an immune response. This antigen is usually a protein such as gluten, soy or dairy.  This antigen is recognized as “not self”. 

An allergy and sensitivity is not the same thing. An allergy is when the body produces an immune response to an antigen (the food that you are allergic to).  Food sensitivity is a metabolic response that does not produce an antibody response but can still cause symptoms. 

IgE: this antibody provides an immediate response such as with a peanut allergy.  Most people know when they have an IgE allergy.

IgA, IgG:

 These are also food allergy antibodies but the response is delayed.  The response to the antigen can happen 24-72 hours after ingesting the food. This is why it can be so difficult to narrow down these food allergies.

How to know if you have an IgA or IgG food allergy.

 The only way to know for sure is through testing.  But to save money an elimination diet, removing the suspected food for 21-30 days and then following a protocol to add it back in can be effective. However if you notice symptoms improve when removing this food from your diet, you still will not know if you have an allergy or a food sensitivity. For some it does not matter as long as their symptoms have improved.  For others ( especially teens who do not want to give up their favorite foods) seeing test results can be beneficial. 

The scratch test is good for IgE allergies, not for delayed allergies. The ELISA or ALCAT or the MRT are good choices for delayed allergy testing however these tests can be expensive and may not be covered by your insurance.  I also like Enterolab for IgA stool testing and it may be a more affordable option than some other tests.  If you cannot afford testing, then the elimination diet and keeping a log of your symptoms is the best alternative. 

Common delayed food allergens

Soy, dairy, gluten, corn and eggs

Note: Peanuts, shellfish and eggs tend to be more common IgE food allergies.

Signs that you may have a delayed food Allergy

(This is not an exhaustive list but these are many of the more common signs/symptoms of food allergies. However having these symptoms on this list does not mean you have a food allergy as there can be other root causes but it is worth looking into)

  • eczema, acne and other skin conditions
  • asthma
  • note: asthma and eczema are the most common conditions associated with delayed food allergies
  • anxiety, depression, ADHD, ADD
  • rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, other autoimmune conditions
  • fatigue, lethargy
  • brain fog
  • craving the foods you are allergic too
  • thyroid condition
  • headaches, migraines
  • digestive issues, GERD, heartburn, acid reflux
  • diarrhea/constipation
  • joint pain


Consequences of delayed food allergy not being addressed

  • This can lead to other health issues such as leaky gut, gut and bowel disorders and your body’s inability to absorb and digest needed nutrients. This can place stress on the body and can contribute to adrenal fatigue and possibly autoimmune disorders down the road


What to do if you suspect a food allergy

  • if you cannot afford testing then do an elimination test by taking out common food allergens such as processed soy (fermented okay), GMO processed corn (whole corn on cob okay), gluten and casein (whey is usually okay) for 21 days.
  • Follow the elimination diet protocol, adding back in only one food group at a time (if you eliminated more than one) to observe for symptoms for 72 hours before adding in another food group.
  • Or try the paleo diet for 21 days as this removes common allergens and also removes all grains which can be an issue for some but not necessarily a food allergy.


The bottom line is you are trying to find the best diet for your body and one that addresses your health issues.



Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014) Therapeutic Nutrition. Pengrove, CA: Bauman College.


Karen Brennan, MSW, NC, owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC, is a holistic nutrition professional that specializes in addressing root causes, not symptom management, with dietary changes and targeted supplement and herbal support. 

For available services, see her website at



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Dispelling Nutrition Myths. Get your nutrition questions answered. Coming Soon!

Dispelling Nutrition Myths and your Nutrition Questions Answered

Nutrition Presentation Coming Soon in Castle Rock, CO!

basket of veggies

Many of you have texted me or emailed me your nutrition questions over the past several months. Many of you have the same questions.

So here it goes! A 2 hour presentation and Q&A time to set the record straight on what confuses you about holistic nutrition. This presentation will guide you on the right path torwards healthy living. 

When: TBD   I am still working on the date and time but most likely early June 2016 on a Thursday 4:30-6:30 and/or a Saturday morning 11:00-1:00. 

Where: TBD.  This is what has been the issue. I am trying to find a location other than my home but due to the cost of renting out space for 2 hours it means I would have to increase the cost to you.

I am trying to keep the cost for each of you at $20. With rental space I will have to increase the price-hopefully no more than $25.

The other option is to have it in my home and limit the number of attendees…..

Cost: like I said hopefully $20 but this may change

What this workshop includes:

  • handout of my presentation
  • informational and recipe handouts based on what is discussed
  • I will provide a snack and filtered lemon water.
  • Q&A time at the end.
  • I will bring samples and examples of foods and products (I am not affiliated with any of the foods or products)

Some topics/questions that will be covered (these are based on questions that I have been asked)

If you have a question that is not on this list, email it to me and I will try to get it into the presentation!

  • What type of protein powder should I use and when should I be using it?
  • Should I be eating low fat, low carb, high protein, or high fat? I’m so confused!
  • Is it better to cleanse, detox or intermittent fast to lose weight and feel better? What is the difference between all of these terms?
  • Should I take probiotics when on antibiotics? How should I take them and what else should I take when on antibiotics?
  • I (or my kids or spouse) gets sick every winter. How can I prevent this from happening every year?
  • It’s Spring and I am suffering with seasonal allergies. What can I take instead of OTC medications for relief? Is there a way that I can reduce my allergy symptoms for next Spring?
  • Should I eat breakfast? Why or why not? Or should I intermittent fast?
  • What should my kids be eating for breakfast to support brain/cognitive health and focus for school?
  • What is the first thing you recommend I do in order to lose weight?
  • Should I use OTC kits for candida? Why or why not?
  • Are carbs bad for me?


  • Once date and time is set up you will need to register and pay through my website.
  • No refunds but if unable to attend at last minute you can use the amount towards any of my other services.
  • If registration is too low, event will be cancelled and money refunded.

Please pass this information on to anyone you know who may be interested. I will post again on FB and my main web page once date/time is set.

Who am I? Am I qualified to provide nutrition education for you?

I am a Nutrition Consultant (certified from Bauman College in Boulder, CO) with an MSW as well. In addition to that I have passed my board certification in Holistic Nutrition. I am required to submit detailed information of 500 contact hours to have the candidate portion removed from my name.  (I have less than 100 hours to submit).  In addition to this I am currently enrolled in The Sage Herbal School in Colorado Springs for my Herbal Certification and this will be completed in October 2016.  As a member of the National Association of Nutrition Professionals I am required to continue my nutrition education and submit my continuing education units.  I also must submit additional CEU’s for my Board Certification.  So as you can see my education in holistic nutrition continues to grow and expand!  In addition to that as a passionate learner and reader I continue to further my knowledge within the field of holistic nutrition.

My approach to health and wellness is a holistic one, meaning I look at root causes and how the body systems work together instead of symptom management. I believe in food first and targeted nutrients, supplement and herbal therapy on a case by case basis.

If you would like to know more about me and my services please visit my website

I hope to see you at the workshop!

Karen Brennan, MSW, NC

Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition (candidate)

Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC



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