Ricki Heller, Diet, Dessert And Dogs


Ricki Heller is an educator, writer, cookbook author, natural nutritionist and lover of all things canine. She’s is a college teacher who works as a part-time cooking class instructor/chef and a part-time freelance writer. She holds a PhD in Modern American Literature. Find out more about Ricki at her website, www.dietdessertndogs.com.


Caryn Hartglass:  Hey everybody!  I’m Caryn Hartglass and we’re back and it’s All About Food because it is all about food, you know it and I know it and I love talking about it!  Thanks for joining me.  I’m going to bring on my next guest, Ricki Heller she is an educator, writer, cookbook author, natural nutritionist, lover of all things canine. She’s a college teacher who works as a part-time cooking class instructor/chef and a part-time freelance writer, she holds a PhD in American Modern Literature and she has a website: www.dietdessertnddogs.com . Welcome to It’s All About Food, Ricki!

Ricki Heller:  Thank you so much.  What a wonderful introduction.

Caryn Hartglass:  {Laughing} Well…isn’t it true?

Ricki Heller:  Yeah, they’re all true {laughing}

Caryn Hartglass:  Yeah…

Ricki Heller:  When you put it all together, it sounds like a lot!

Caryn Hartglass:  It does…it sounds good…

Ricki Heller:  {Laughing}

Caryn Hartglass:  I like people that…sounds like you love life and it sounds like you like to do a lot of things!

Ricki Heller:  I do.  I always like to have a full plate—so to speak.

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah…and I get a very positive feeling when I’m on your website.

Ricki Heller:  Oh, great, because …that’s partly my intention, for sure.

Caryn Hartglass:  Yeah, it’s a happy place to be!

Ricki Heller:  It is…and it is for me too!  I love writing it…I love hearing from my readers…yeah, I do love blogging.

Caryn Hartglass:  Ok…so you have…one thing I like is to share people’s stories because we like to hear stories…I don’t know if it’s the voyeur in all of us or what it is, but we relate a lot more to individual stories and you have one, yourself, maybe you can give us a little brief synopsis…of the good…

Ricki Heller:  Sure…

Caryn Hartglass:  …of the highlights and low lights

Ricki Heller:  Ok {laghing}.  Well, basically, I mean the way I guess I got to be doing what I’m doing…I call myself a “Sugar Addict.”  I think that’s true, just like an alcoholic, you’re never not a Sugar Addict once you are one.

Caryn Hartglass: {Laughing}

Ricki Heller:  You know, I grew up in a home where is was just a standard, American diet.  I ate a lot of junk food, we loved sweets.  My mom was a terrific  baker, but unfortunately, what ended up happening was as a result of that, was I spent my life being overweight and on a diet and eating a lot of sweet things and doing a lot of baking myself.  So, when I was, I guess, in my late 20’s, I was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome…

Caryn Hartglass:  Hmm.

Ricki Heller:  …and basically, at the time what doctors tell  you to do for that was take some pills… {laughing}

Caryn Hartglass:  Hmm…yeah…

Ricki Heller:  …lots of pills

Caryn Hartglass:  …and some very dangerous toxic ones which very often lead to other problems…

Ricki Heller: …Oh…

Caryn Hartglass:  …like cancer.

Ricki Hller:  Exactly.

Caryn Hartglass:  Mmm…Hmm.

Ricki Heller:  And, what they tell you to do is, of course, not going to get rid of the problem and it’s not going to help you much.  So…but I did…I was on medication for 16 years…

Caryn Hartglass:  Wow !

Ricki Heller:  …what ended up happening was around 40 I ended up having 4 sinus infections in the space of 3 months and, at one point, was so ill.  I had a 104 temperature

Caryn Hartglass:  Mmmm….

Ricki Heller:   …and I ended up going from doctor to doctor and they were giving me antibiotics that didn’t seem to be working and I just…you know…I can vividly remember at the peak of that problem, we came home from one doctor’s appointment and my husband had to take me because I was too weak to go and I, literally, could not get upstairs to the bedroom.  I had to crawl up on my hands and knees…

Caryn Hartglass:  Mmmm….Mmmm.

Ricki Heller:  …I was so sick.  So, at that point, someone told me or, said to me, “ Why don’t you go see a Naturopath?”  Of course, I hadn’t thought of that before because I was pretty conventional and, you know, she…I did…I went to see someone and when she completely changed my diet and that’s sort of what got me started on this road toward holistic nutrition.  It did take me…ehhhh…about 10 years longer before I really, sort of, dove right in, but after that, I got a little bit better, I changed my diet and decided I wanted to study nutrition to find out for myself why some foods were good and why some foods weren’t good for me.  And, it wasn’t until about 10 years after that that I ended up having a really severe case of Candida.  Because I had been doing very well, I had been eating a whole foods diet and feeling great and I guess I felt so great…

Caryn Hartglass:  {Laughing}

Ricki Heller:   ….that I thought, “Oh you know…a little bit of the old stuff won’t hurt me.”  It was Christmas, Christmas 2008…I remember distinctly…and I just had one little piece of cake and then that turned into 2 and then 5 and then chocolate and everything else I had been eating before and I ended up with a really bad case of Candida.  So, I’ve been on a Candida free diet since March 2009 and …

Caryn Hartglass:  And, doing well!

Ricki Heller:  …I’m doing well…yeah…I’d say I’m about 95% back to where I was when I was healthy.  But, what’s great about being on a whole foods diet, I was able to get off my medication for irritable bowel, and when I first changed my diet, it took about 6 months before I was feeling so much better that I decided to try to wean myself off with my doctor and we also got me off medication for low thyroid at the time.

Caryn Hartglass:  Hmmm.

Ricki Heller:  So, I’m basically not on any medication right now which is terrific.  I’m just eating a whole foods diet and taking natural supplements and still being supervised by my Naturopath and hoping that I’m probably going to be able to maintain this for the rest of my life.

Caryn Hartglass:  For the rest of your long, high quality life

Ricki Heller:  Let us hope so, yes!  {Laughing!}

Caryn Hartglass:  {Laughing!}  Ok, so I’ve was taking notes while you were talking and I wanted to talk about number of things you had mentioned.  The first thing was being a Sugar Addict and we live, today, in a world where many people are addicted to food, especially, sugar, and there are a lot of reasons behind it.  Some of them are political; some of them are just the time that we live in.  There are a lot of laws that have been passed, things that have been deregulated; farmers are growing as many things as they possibly can without letting pieces of their land rest.  Our food system is overloaded with an abundance of food—more than we really need.  Food is cheap, it’s everywhere and it’s not necessarily the healthiest food that is all around us.   And then there’s marketing, that knows very well how to have those little voices in our heads tell us to eat their products.

Ricki Heller:  Mmm…Hmm.

Caryn Hartglass:  {Laughing!}  Then all of those things work against us and then there’s also a lot of science that shows that when we eat more sugary products, we do get addicted.

Ricki Heller:  Absolutely.   Yeah.  I mean, I think you’re right.  All of those things working together…it starts at the level of the individual…so, if you look at emotional, physiological factors (and in my case) because I’m a little be older than the young people, today, that are becoming addicted.  When I was a kid, there wasn’t really all that much processed food.  Certainly not in my house because my parents were very old fashioned, my dad was raised on a farm.   But still, we had the emotional factors, and we had the physiological factors of eating sweets every day.  My mom was a baker and my dad wanted baked goods in the house…

Caryn Hartglass:  Hmm…

Ricki Heller:  ….so, ya know…those things work together and as you were just saying, if you’ve read David Kessler’s book, The End of Overeating, he talks about how addictive sugar is and the sort of triad of sugar, fat and salt and how they work together to make food so appealing and how food producers actually use that information and base their recipes upon how much the food is going to be addictive to us.  So, it’s just insane.  I think that this is what we’re being offered and this is what we’re eating so regularly.   And, some of what the appeal and the draw of this food isn’t even voluntary to some extent.

Caryn Hartglass:  That’s right.  So the thing is, we shouldn’t belittle ourselves if things aren’t going our way because not all of it is our fault, but at the same time, I want to say it is our responsibility—our health is our responsibility and we have to take control if we want to feel good, look good, live a long time and have a high quality, energetic life.

Ricki Heller:  Yeah.  Absolutely.  And, I think, part of the problem, too, is that, you know, whole foods aren’t that sexy as packaged foods are made to look beautiful and they’re shaped a certain way and so on.  You know, we’re not used to eating real food in our society.

Caryn Hartglass:  Yeah.  It’s all perspective though, because I’ve see some very sexy cauliflower.

Ricki Heller:  Yeah…I suppose…yeah..ok…yeah…I’ll go with that.   {Laughing}  Even as your talking, I’m thinking, right now, my major sweetener in  my live is Stevia and it’s an herbal sweetener for people who aren’t familiar with it, but, yeah, I don’t know if your listeners are aware, but I’m in Canada, so, it’s slightly different the way Stevia is offered here and offered in the States.  Because, in Canada, the only Stevia I’ve seen is 100% pure extract from the herb so you can get a powdered extract or a liquid which is basically just the suspension of Stevia in some glycerin or alcohol depending on what they do because Stevia is up to 100% sweeter than sugar.  But, what’s so fascinating to me is that as soon as Stevia was approved in the U.S.,  I started seeing all kinds of products…

Caryn Hartglass:  Yeah.

Ricki Heller:  …like Truvia…I can’t remember…Purvia?  And, I believe, that’s partly because you can’t patent Stevia, but you can patent a combination of Stevia…

Caryn Hartglass:  Yeah.  Altered products.  Yeah.

Ricki Heller:  …so you can’t make a lot of money off of Stevia.  So I think that’s where food manufacturers play a role because they want things that they can make money off of.

Caryn Hartglass:  I wanted to just remind my listeners if you haven’t listened to it, several years ago, I did speak with Jim May who is the founder of Sweet Leaf, Stevia and he taught me…

Ricki Heller: Ohhh…

Caryn Hartglass:  …he told me that it’s pronounced, Stev-ia (short e) even though we all pronounce it Steevia (long e)  {Laughing}

Ricki Heller:  Is that so…I’ve heard it both ways…

Caryn Hartglass:  Jim says…yeah he says it’s Stev-ia (short e) and he’s the one who brought it to North America at least that’s what he said.

Ricki Heller:  Ohhh….amazing!

Caryn Hartglass:  He had a really hard time getting it approved and now…now there’s all these other companies that are taking market share away from him who did all of the ground work…

Ricki Heller:  Wow…

Caryn Hartglass:  ….but you can learn a lot about that product from that show and I would just go to www.responsibleeating.com, my website and put in Jim May or Stevia and that show will come up.

Ricki Heller:  Great.

Caryn Hartglass:  Stevia is a great product,  but the downside is that it still allows us to have a sweet tooth.

Ricki Heller:  Yes.

Caryn Hartglass:  Probably more than natural.

Ricki Heller:  Well…I mean, yeah…I think, naturally, we do have a sweet tooth.   One of the things I talk about sometimes when I do talks about sugar and cooking low glycemic and what not, you know if you think about the very first food that most of us had, at our mother’s breast, mother’s milk is very sweet…

Caryn Hartglass:  Mmmm…Hmmm…it’s sweet.

Ricki Heller: …so we’re sort of hard wired to like sweet.  I think the problem occurs when we have an abundance of it available—much more so than would be naturally available to us.  So, we tend to consume it way more than we ever could before in history.   But, yeah, you’re right…I think, of course,  Stevia…Stev-ia …allows you to enjoy sweet food.  But, I have to say, for me, it was a life saver because, if I haven’t had that as my sweetener which allowed me to still enjoy many familiar sweet treats, I probably wouldn’t have been able to stay on the Candida diet as well as I did and for as long as I did in order to start healing.

Caryn Hartglass:  Right.  There are a lot of different fruits out there and many of them have been hybridized to be sweeter.  I tend to stick toward berries which aren’t as sweet as others although I eat all kinds of fruits, but I don’t eat a lot of the sweeter fruits, they’re more treats for me.

Ricki Heller:  Mmm….Hmmm.

Caryn Hartglass:  But, fruits are a good food, I don’t want to scare anyone away from simple fruits.

Ricki Heller:  Yeah.

Caryn Hartglass:  So, the next thing I want to talk about is you went to a Naturopath and I want to congratulate you for thinking outside of the box.   So many people feel like there’s only one doctor in the world, the one they’re going to and they have to listen to whatever he or she says.    It’s so important to get different opinions and try to make sense of it all.  There is no one right answer and not…I’ve even heard a lot of different things from different Naturopaths…

Ricki Heller:  Yes.

Caryn Hartglass:  ….some of them have favorite diets…hunter-gatherer, or Paleolithic or…you know…one thing or another and I don’t agree with what all of them say, but it does enable you, it empowers you to consider all kinds of different things.

Ricki Heller:  I would agree.  I think it’s really important…well…I…and  certainly I came to that conclusion after having gone to, certainly, more than a dozen doctors—none of whom could help me rid myself of this Candida and it was the Naturopath who was able to help me.  So, I think …and the other thing I’ve come to realize after being on this diet so long and the other thing I hear from so many people…it seems to be something that’s increasing…

Caryn Hartglass:  Mmm…Hmm.

Ricki Heller:  …in numbers, but that no one diet works for every individual either.  So, even people…there are probably at least a dozen different Candida diets out there if you do a Google search on the Internet.   You’ll find many, many different versions for this diet.  Some allow fruit in the first stages, some don’t allow fruit in the first stages.

Caryn Hartglass:  Mmm…Hmm.

Ricki Heller:  Some allow certain nuts and some other nuts and so on.  So, what I found was you really also have to tailor the diet to you individually and what works for me, may not always work for someone else, even if we’re both following the Candida protocol.

Caryn Hartglass:  That’s very true.  The other thing I wanted to mention is you said you were on a vegan diet for a long time and then you weren’t well and you’re doctor was insisting that you eat meat and change your diet…

Ricki Heller:  Right.

Caryn Hartglass:  …what I want to mention is that not all vegan diets are healthy.  There are variations and, again, it depends on the individual.  I was a long term vegan on what I considered a healthy diet and a very healthy diet and still I came down with advanced ovarian cancer and I lived to talk about it.

Ricki Heller:  Wow.

Caryn Hartglass:   I believe that my diet saved my life…

Ricki Heller:  Mmm….Hmm.

Caryn Hartglass:  ….but you know, there were other factors that came into play and the thing is, we’re vulnerable as humans and things happen.  The thing is…the goal…I think is to enjoy our lives, live a long quality life and figure out how to do that.

Ricki Heller:  Yeah.  Not to…you know…be trite…but you have to find the balance.  When I was first in university and I…I didn’t even know I was a vegan when I was in university….and I was a vegan, but I was  junk food vegan.

Caryn Hartglass:  Mmm…Hmm.

Ricki Heller:  And, that’s when I got sick.  And, that’s when my doctor told me I had to go out and eat meat.   And then I realized after I had gone to  nutritional schools, that I finally, understood how horrible my diet had been and that’s when I decided with my new found knowledge, I was going to try again and see why did I have to eat meat.  I didn’t think…knowing what I knew at that point…that I didn’t think I’d have to eat meat anymore.  I was able to disagree with her.  So, and now I feel great.  I feel like I’m eating a well balanced diet, I’m getting all of the nutrients I need, I’m getting enough protein without…really without having a problem with that at all and, so, I think it’s all what you know and what kind of diet you’re , sure.

Caryn Hartglass:  Okay, let’s talk about my favorite subject, which is delicious food!

Ricki Heller:  Okay!  Mine, too!  {Laughing!}

Caryn Hartglass:  {Laughing!}  And, I’ve been to your website:  Diet, Desserts N Dogs, that’s the letter, N… Diet, Desserts, the letter N, Dogs.com , and, most recently, you have some really beautiful recipes up for Halloween.  I saw those beautiful little pumpkin cupcakes…

Ricki Heller:  Oh, thank you…the whoopee pies!  Well, one of the things that has been going around the Internet is a pumpkin shaped cake made of two bundt cakes…

Caryn Hartglass:  Mmm…Hmm.

Ricki Heller:  …set bottom to bottom and I thought, “Oh well, I don’t want to do a whole cake, but what if I could do individual servings and I bought a miniature Bundt pan and I made whoopee pies out of them.  But, the thing about those, I don’t know if you looked at the ingredients, that is a recipe from someone who is now following what I call Stage III of the Candida diet.  So, I do allow myself to have some coconut sugar on occasion which is a low glycemic sugar or coconut nectar.  And, so, this is a cake, a vegan cake, made with coconut sugar and Stevia as the sweetener and it’s a frosting that is made out of coconut butter, sweet potato and Stevia.

Caryn Hartglass:  Mmmmmmn!

Ricki Heller:  And, it is fluffy and light, it’s like frosting, so…my husband thought he was eating orange butter cream because I used orange flavored Stevia as a sweetener …

Caryn Hartglass:  Mmmmmmn!

Ricki Heller:  ….and to me, that’s both fun and delicious!  I just love being able to recreate recipes that people will be surprised to learn are vegan or are surprised to learn are healthy.

Caryn Hartglass:  Right.

Ricki Heller:  So, I don’t even want them to know these are healthy unless I tell them.

Caryn Hartglass:  {Laughing!}  Oh, sure, you want to give them the treat and then there like “Oh, it’s a treat, it’s good…”

Ricki Heller:  Exactly!  So, for me, that’s just fun and I think that as long as you can have those kinds of treats in your life…and I don’t…the first time I was on this diet, I remember feeling I was very deprived and always whining when my husband and I went out to dinner…

Caryn Hartglass:  {Laughing!}

Ricki Heller:  …I couldn’t eat what I want.  But, this time around, I think I have finally embraced this as something I’m going to do for the rest of my life because I’m just constantly amazed at how well you can eat without sugar and without refined flours and all the other bad stuff.

Caryn Hartglass:  I want to say something that I believe in.  If you’re in a severe health crisis, you’re either feeling absolutely horrible… or you’re facing what could be a terminal illness… I believe that you have to get really serious about your diet.

Ricki Heller:  Yeah.

Caryn Hartglass:  And, even still, that doesn’t mean that the food isn’t going to be enjoyable, but there’s food that you really shouldn’t be having if you really want to get well.  And, I did that for a year and a half, I didn’t eat any sugar, I ate very few fruits, just the berries and I stayed away from refined foods,  I was eating a lot of greens, limited whole grains, lots of greens…I underline the greens, raw and fresh…and I was on a lot of nutritional supplements.   But, then after that, I opened—I don’t want to say the flood gates—but I allow myself treats and, on my www.responsibleeatingandliving.com website you can see some of them.  I do a lot of gluten free baking.  I do use evaporated cane juice, it’s not good for everybody, but you can allow yourself some special foods and you have to know that they’re treats—that’s what makes them special!

Ricki Heller:  Yeah.

Caryn Hartglass:  When you don’t have them all the time.

Ricki Heller:  {Laughs} Exactly.  As we were saying earlier, I think that’s the problem with the average diet in North America today, is that we do have them all the time.   We have sugar for breakfast, sugar for lunch, sugar for dinner, sugar for snacks…all the time!  And, that’s the way I was certainly eating.   One of the things I…one of the stories I talk about on my blog….when I was an undergrad, my roommate and I used to go out and buy a layer cake on Friday afternoon from the local supermarket and that’s what we ate all weekend!

Caryn Hartglass:  Mmmm…Hmmm.  Oh, I remember when I was in college I lived on coffee and ice cream and you know…all those treats.

Ricki Heller:  Yeah.

Caryn Hartglass:  But, you know, one of the wonderful things about the human body is how forgiving it is if you catch it in time, you really can turn things around dramatically!  We just have a minute, I wanted to ask you, you have a cookbook you’re…that’s coming out soon.  What’s that about?

Ricki Heller:  Oh yes.  This is an updated, revised version of Sweet Freedom which is my first cookbook.  So, it’s going to be a book of gluten free, refined sugar free, refined everything free dessert and baked goods so from breakfast baking down to the fanciest desserts for when you have people over for dinner and it’s scheduled to come out in October of 2013.  So, a year from now!

Caryn Hartglass:  Okay!  We’ll look for it! Thank you Ricki Heller!

Ricki Heller:  Thank you so much!

Caryn Hartglass:  We’re at the end of the show thank you for joining me go to her website www.dietdessertsndogs.com and I’m Caryn Hartglass and you’ve been listening to It’s All About Food. Visit my website:  www.responsibleeatingandliving.com , make a donation if you can and have a very delicious week!   Goodbye!

Transcribed by Gail Schriver 3/10/2013



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