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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My most popular nutrition service is not even on my website yet! See what it is.

Personal Cooking Workshop Services

slicing pepper for cooking

This has become a popular service even before I offered it on my website!  

note: this service should be on my site by May 2016                                                        

Who it’s for:

  • local clients
  • teens, adults, parents and their children over age 6 (one child per parent unless child is over age 12)
  • friends looking to do something fun, educational and healthy all at the same time together (limited to 4 participants)
  • anyone who wants to change their diet
  • bonding time with your children (limited to 4 participants)
  • Anyone who is unfamiliar in the kitchen or has gotten so far removed from cooking due to the standard American diet.
  • Anyone learning to get the hang of cooking for new dietary restrictions/changes due to health condition

What it entails: 2 hours together to cook and prepare meals

  • green smoothie
  • energy snack bar
  • quinoa Tabouli with sauté chicken
  • oil and balsamic herb salad dressing
  • You will have left over greens and chicken to have a salad
  • You will be making your own food-I will show you certain key ingredients, techniques etc.…

Note: these foods can be modified/changed based on your dietary needs/likes and dislikes

When and Where: at my home kitchen in Castle Rock, CO.  This lasts roughly 2 to 2 ½ hours.

What to bring: 2 large mason jars with lids for smoothies, large glass dish with lid for Tabouli, small glass dish with lid for the extra chicken, a few large and small Ziploc bags, 1 small mason jar with lid for dressing, one large container with lid for energy bars (you can also use a Ziploc bag)

Cost: $140 for the 2 hour service plus cost of main ingredients / for one parent and one child $190/contact Karen for pricing for families

This price does not include cost of needed ingredients-see below for details

  • Option 1: I provide you with a list of needed ingredients and you bring your own
  • Option 2: I purchase needed ingredients and provide you with receipt at time of service (any purchased ingredients left over you take home with you)


I try to keep cost down by buying the small items you need in bulk at no cost to you such as flax seed, nutritional yeast, and other small ingredients. (The bulk of the food purchase is organic greens, organic chicken, raw nuts/seeds, fresh organic herbs)

Average cost: $30-$45.  This depends on if meals are revised, changed and price changes

Invite a friend:

  • Invite one friend and each will receive $10 off the rate of $140
  • Invite two friends and each will receive $15 off the rate of $140
  • Invite three friends and each will receive $20 off the rate of $140

Payment due at time of service

Call 303-522-0381 or send an email to to schedule service

Karen Brennan, MSW, NC is a holistic nutrition professional who specializes in addressing root health  causes with food and targeted supplement and herbal therapy.  To learn more visit her website at

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Frittata. A quick, easy and healthy recipe using what ingredients you have on hand



This is a tasty and easy breakfast to make. You can make this the night before and reheat in the morning.  Or take a slice and pack it for lunch!

Use what vegetables you have on hand.


  • 1 T. coconut oil
  • 2 T. chopped onion
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard (or spinach) finely chopped
  • 6 beaten eggs
  • A T. or 2 of dried herbs such as oregano, basil or parsley (or use fresh)
  • add ins: raw organic cheese, mushrooms, asparagus, peppers, cooked sausage


  1. Warm the oil in the skillet and sauté the onions until they begin to soften. Add in the Swiss chard or spinach and the mushrooms and/or other add ins that you have on hand except for cheese. Cook for about 5 minutes
  2. Add in the herbs. Pour in the eggs and turn the heat down to low. If you are adding in cheese, add it in at this time. Put a lid on pan and cook until eggs are set.
  3. Note: the size of your pan will determine how thick your frittata is.

Karen Brennan, MSW, NC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition (candidate) and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC provides cooking education services for those wanting to get away from processed foods and learning how to eat healthy.  See her website for more information. 

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Modern Wheat and its impact on your health Part II. How much wheat can you safely eat?

bread wheat

Should I give up grains, breads and pasta and all gluten containing products?

My professional recommendation is that the majority of people (70-80%) would benefit from giving up all grains even the sprouted versions even if you do not have celiac or gluten sensitivity. Since it contributes to obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and cancer, I think those are reasons enough. 

You will not miss out on any nutrients in wheat that you cannot get from other foods. You do not need breads and pastas are part of a wholesome healthy diet. If you are an athlete and are reading this thinking “I need my carbs for energy”, well, yes you do need more carbohydrates than the person who sits behind a desk all day but you can get plenty of carbs from fruit, vegetables, leafy greens, starchy vegetables, raw foods crackers and raw cereals such as from “Mary’s Gone Crackers” or” Two Moms in the Raw”.  You can eat quinoa, basmati white rice, beans and legumes.  Trust me, you will plenty of carbs!  You can eat bean pasta or quinoa pasta if you still need your pasta fix.  There are many options out there. 

What to do, what to expect, what to eat!

It is difficult to do and so for most people doing an 80/20 diet which means most of your diet is clean and whole foods and then 20% are the refined foods such as pizza and bread. So you do not have to go entirely off the wheat/gluten containing foods to benefit from it, but you do have to greatly reduce it.

For those having any kind of health issue however, I do advise taking all processed, refined grain products out of your diet for at least 21 days and note changes you may see.  If symptoms reappear when gluten is added back in then your best bet is to avoid gluten and wheat. 

Read labels. You are going to be surprised all the places gluten and wheat is that you did not realize!  It is in your canned soups, licorice, soy sauce, frozen meals and more.

If you have a difficult time giving up some favorite foods you can make some of your own using coconut flour, almond flour, cassava flour (plant), tiger nut flour (from root vegetable). It does take some getting used to, using alternative products but you will get there. 

The first couple of days you may experience headaches, fatigue , cravings and changes in bowels, but stick with it because once you get passed that you should feel like your mind is clearer, have more energy, improved bowel movements, clearer skin, less joint pain, fewer cravings and more.

The gluten/wheat products you are eating may be contributing to:





Brain fog



Sinus issues

Joint pain



Autoimmune conditions

Skin conditions

And more!


Swap out white and whole wheat pasta for bean pasta or quinoa pasta; eat your burger in a lettuce wrap (majority of eateries offer this now), make sandwiches in lettuce wraps or go online and order paleo wraps such as made from coconut or make your own. Make baked goods, cookies, bars, quick breads using coconut flour and almond flour.  You will not notice the difference.  Swap out soy sauce for coconut aminos, use non GMO cornstarch or arrow root to thicken sauces and other dishes instead of flour, and coat your meats with almond flour, tigernut or cassava flour.  Eat flax crackers instead of wheat crackers.  Once you get the hang of it, it will become habit. Invest in hiring a nutrition consultant who can guide you to make it easier and painless for you.  


Your body will thank you once you have it removed! I would love to hear about your experience of removing gluten and wheat products from your diet. If you have a story, please share!


Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014) Foundations in Nutrition. CA: Bauman College

Gunnars, K. (2/14) Why modern wheat is worse than older wheat. Retrieved from

Mercola, J. (1/16/10) The Critical Role of Wheat in Human Disease. Retrieved from

 Karen Brennan, MSW, is a Nutrition Consultant and is Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition (candidate).  As such, she does not treat, cure or diagnose.  The information provided is for educational purposes only. Seek out your healthcare professional when making any changes to your diet and supplement regimen.

 Karen is available for group presentations in the Colorado Front Range area for a variety of health topics; She offers a variety of other services.  Visit her website to learn more.


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Great Easter Treat Recipe: Almond Truffles (gluten, soy and dairy free)


almond truffle


Almond Butter Truffles

This makes a good Easter dessert recipe. You can make them much larger, in the shape of eggs, and drizzle with white chocolate.  I sprinkled some with coconut. Other options would include nuts, seeds, grated chocolate, and cacao powder.

To make this soy and dairy free, use Enjoy life dark chocolate baking chips. 


  • ¾ c. almond butter
  • ½ c. coconut flour
  • ¼ c. coconut palm sugar
  • ½ c. dark chocolate broken into chunks (I used one bar of dark chocolate and the excess I drizzled over the truffles)
  • 1 t. coconut oil


  1. Mix the almond butter, flour and sugar until well blended. (I did have to use my hands to get all the ingredients blended)
  2. roll into balls and freeze for 20 minutes
  3. melt the chocolate with the coconut oil
  4. dip the almond balls into chocolate and place on parchment or wax paper/ sprinkle on desired toppings
  5. Keep in freezer for at least 30 minutes. Store in fridge until ready to eat!


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Lemon Bread with glaze. Gluten free, made with coconut flour.

lemon bread sliced with glaze

Lemon bread with lemon glaze

(Made with coconut flour)


Makes one loaf

This is very moist bread. It is sweet enough on its own but the glaze is very good.  Use coconut flour only-at first it will seem too liquidly but coconut flour is very absorbable and the batter will thicken very quickly. 



For the loaf


  • 6 pasture raised eggs
  • ¼ c. coconut oil or ghee melted
  • zest from 2 lemons
  • Juice from 2 lemons plus enough milk of choice to make one cup-juice the 2 lemons, and pour the juice in a cup measuring cup and add in enough milk until you reach one cup. Can also use lemon juice in bottle not from concentrate and use purchased lemon zest to save time.
  • 1/3 c. local honey
  • 2/3 c. coconut flour-for this recipe do not substitute a different flour-will not come out right
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • dash sea salt

Directions for the loaf:

  1. preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well
  3. Pour into a greased (grease with coconut oil) loaf pan and bake for 35-45 minutes. Should be golden on top and cooked through. If the top gets too brown towards the end of cooking time, then put some parchment over the top
  4. let cool

Lemon glaze

(Glaze is optional but it’s really good!)


  • 2 T. melted ghee or coconut oil (or grass fed butter)
  • 2 T. local honey
  • 2 T. milk of choice
  • zest and juice from one lemon
  • ½ t. pure vanilla extract

Directions for the glaze

  1. While the loaf is cooking, mix all the glaze ingredients together in a small pot over low heat until it starts to simmer.
  2. remove from heat and let cool
  3. ones cooled, put in fridge to firm up
  4. once loaf is cooled and glaze is firmer, pour the glaze over the top of the loaf
  5. put in fridge for 30 minutes until the glaze and loaf firms up a bit

Note: Milk of choice I like: A2 dairy milk (this is not organic as far as I can tell but it is a good milk option for those who have a casein sensitivity) (but for the record, I do not normally recommend non organic or non- raw milk products); natural value org. coconut milk (can), or Aroy-d coconut milk (carton).  Coconut milk brands order on amazon; A2 milk you can find at some natural grocery stores.  Some coconut milks and nut milks have many added ingredients that I would not recommend, so while they may seem like a healthier alternative, this may not be the case.  It is quite simple to make your own cashew or almond milk too! 

Like this recipe and want more? Sign up at for more healthy receipes and nutrition information that you can use!  Karen Brennan, MSW, NC, board certified in holistic nutrition (candidate) is the owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services. She works with clients to help them get to the root causes of their health issues. 




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