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It’s Time for Eat REAL, America

March 27, 2018, Vol.16, Issue 2

What a difference a decade makes — well, make that two decades. It’s been twenty years since Zonya Foco, RD, CSP, debuted her first cookbook, Lickety-Split Meals for Health Conscious People on the Go. My copy is certainly stained and well worn with favorite recipes I’ve made over and over again. And from what I’ve seen so far, I’m expecting the same from the EAT REAL Cookbook, Zonya’s newest book debuting in May.

Zonya listens to her clients. When she created Lickety-Split Meals, she was encouraging her clients to get back in the kitchen and start cooking. They wanted quick ways to make the healthy foods she was recommending, so that book was organized by time increments from “One Minute Meals” to my favorite, “Oven, Exercise, Eat.”

While EAT REAL doesn’t leave time out of the equation, it shifts the emphasis to eating REAL food (more about that below), since it evolved from her DIET FREE program — a step-by-step system that introduces Eight Habits that lead to eating less and less processed food. By the time participants got to the Sixth Habit, “Replace processed foods with wholesome foods,” they were asking for more recipes to do just that and posed the question of the hour, “When’s your next book coming out?”

“These recipes often involve more time prepping and chopping,” Zonya told me, “but the flavors and wholesome goodness are so worth it. Plus, it’s a way to get the whole family involved in the kitchen.”

But I’m getting ahead of myself here. There’s more to the story. As fate would have it, when the idea of doing a new cookbook was only a concept, Zonya’s speaking schedule took her to Wichita, Kansas . . .

From the Heartland . . .


In February 2015, Zonya’s speaking schedule took her to Wichita, and there she crossed paths with fellow presenter, and “REAL Food Mom,” Krista Sanderson.

They hit it off immediately, exchanging recipe ideas in rapid-fire fashion. People around them were electrified, and jokingly said, “You two should write a book.”

Sad to part from her new friend, but inspired by their connection, Zonya returned to Michigan and started cooking recipes from Krista’s site, As a member, she had access to over 1,000 searchable recipes, and was emailed REAL meal recipes weekly. “My husband and I dove in and made recipe after recipe, with success after success. Better yet, I felt like Krista was talking to me from next door.”

But the clincher was in the eggplant.

“As we laughed off the idea of doing a book together, Krista had told me about her Mediterranean Roasted Eggplant Pasta,” Zonya said.

“I have a member whose 14-year-old daughter says it’s her favorite recipe from my website,” Krista said.

“I thought to myself, roasted eggplant? 14 years old? Favorite dish?

“And then we made it! We sat down to eat . . . and lost our minds! I marched to my computer and typed a proposal to Krista to co-author this book. The rest is history!”

So, how did Krista become a REAL Food Mom? You can read the whole story in the cookbook introduction, but I’ll give you the Cliff Notes here. Basically it started when she and her husband realized how dependent they (and their kids) were on unhealthy processed food. They were a busy family who had succumbed to convenience — both eating out and at home.

“If we prepared meals at home, they involved boxes of Hamburger Helper, frozen burritos, and, if we put in a little extra effort . . . meatloaf, spaghetti, or tater tot casserole,” Krista said. “We had no idea what to do with fresh vegetables. If we added a vegetable to our meal, it typically involved opening a can of green beans or corn. We dreaded cooking and never savored our mealtime experiences.

“We ate the same things over and over because they were in our comfort zone. Our kids were picky and they didn’t like vegetables, so we’d adapted to what they would eat. We were stuck in a processed food rut, and we never made a connection between food and our health.”

“One night we hit a breaking point. Our dinner table had become a battlefield, and we realized how incredibly picky our children had become. We decided right then and there that something had to change. But how? We knew so little about nutrition and cooking.”

They started by paying attention — reading labels and Michael Pollan’s books. It became apparent fairly quickly that eating healthy was not about choosing diet food (with health claims on the front), but was instead about buying, cooking and preparing REAL foods that have no label at all.

So, what exactly do Zonya and Krista define as REAL food?

Common words for REAL food are “natural” or “clean’ or “whole” food. Zonya and Krista prefer to call it a REAL food, if it:

Grows from the ground, or in a tree, swims in the ocean, or grazes on a prairie,


Is minimally processed to maintain its natural integrity,


Includes plants of all kinds: vegetables and fruits, whole grains, legumes and nuts, herbs and spices,


Makes room for modest amounts of fish, poultry, meat, dairy and oils, plus a bit of natural sugars,


Includes canned and jarred foods with REAL ingredients. So no worries, REAL food eating is convenient too.



Krista’s venture into cooking and feeding her family was not an overnight success, but as things started changing, she and her husband started losing weight as well as feeling other benefits like more energy and better sleep. It did take time and patience to get the kids on board, but they implemented some innovative strategies that made a big difference. We don’t have space to go into all of them here, but you’ll find her great ideas in the book!

Before I share a recipe that’s already become a favorite, I need to note, that just like Lickety-Split Meals, this is far more than a cookbook (and once again it’s in countertop easel format). It is full of Zonya’s signature enthusiasm right alongside solid nutritional information and cooking tips. There are shopping lists, and an entire 28-day plan of great-tasting dinner entrees with side dishes. The pairings are strategically matched so the entree and side together are perfectly satiating, and they’re supercharged with the balance of food recommended for ideal health.

Who better to share all this, than Zonya herself. Check out this short video, where Zonya unveils the book cover.

And, you can even get a preview and take a look inside here —  30 pages including sample recipes!

Orders before April 30, get $4 off plus a 3 month FREE membership to Purchase at

And of course, this sparks a new speaking topic. We’ll tell you more about that in our next issue. Now it’s time to get cooking!

It’s REAL! Quick, Easy, Delicious Salmon Recipe

I have made this over and over again since Zonya served it at the lake when I visited her in Michigan last summer. If you want to barbecue, just put the salmon on a sheet of greased foil, and fold it up in a packet. Also, if making for two people, simply halve everything. It works just fine.


Panko Crusted Mustard Salmon (or Trout)

Serves 4

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a baking sheet.

In a small bowl, combine ingredients, adding olive oil last

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs (gluten-free if desired)

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

2 Tbsp. shredded Parmesan cheese

1/4 tsp. salt, OPTIONAL

1/4 tsp. black pepper

2 Tbsp. olive oil


1 lb. salmon fillet (or trout)

2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

Place the salmon on the greased baking sheet. Spread mustard over the top of the fillet. Top with the breadcrumb mixture. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through. Divide into 4 portions and enjoy!


Until next time, take care of yourself — get back in the kitchen and cook with REAL food for your well being and those you love.

Yours truly,

For Your Well Being is published with the intention of bringing you insider speaker reports, exclusive stories about special events around the country, meeting planner tips, and fun stuff from the worlds of health and well being. Be well and be in the know!

The Speak Well Being Group is a specialized speakers bureau, focusing on speakers for hospital-sponsored community events, healthcare organizations, nurses, conferences and women’s groups. Our speakers are hand-selected. They are not only experts in their fields, they connect with their audiences while bringing them life-changing information, smiles of recognition and ultimately a sense of well being and hope.

Finding the perfect keynote speaker for your special event or conference is my personal passion, not just once, but year after year. It brings me great joy to know that your audience was delighted and moved by the speaker we selected together. I’m committed to making the process easy, pleasant and fun.

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