Health Illuminated

Holistic Health Coach and Family Chef

Oh, What Fun It Is To Host

You learn to cook so that you don’t have to be a slave to recipes. You get what’s in season and you know what to do with it.” Julia Child

This Christmas, our coveted California family gathering gets a complete makeover.  I have invited everyone to the east coast for our yearly gathering in my 840 square foot apartment in Astoria, NY!   11 of us will be in attendance.  

Ever since I can remember, family has flown in from all parts of the US to convene in my childhood home in Orange County, CA.  We siblings all bunk up in the "back room": sisters, husbands, fiancées, and family friends alike. Even as our family continues to expand with in-laws, siblings-in-law and pets-in-law in abundance; even as most of us are musicians or performers all with our various gigs, concerts and commitments – we somehow are all able to gather to spend a few days saturated in our family, quirks and all!  A very welcomed and treasured experience.

Our holidays are filled with in-house family talent shows, re-runs of favorite clips of "The Voice", mimicking said favorite clips of "The Voice", and of course, feasts, food fests, and plenty of foodie festivities.  (Oh yes... and celebrating Jesus' birthday.)  (Complete with a cake.) 

A lot of our family food traditions started with my Nana who has always been big on Christmas Lamb Roasts, tons of roasted veggies and piles of mashed and sweet potato dishes.  She taught me how to make pockets in the lamb for pieces of garlic and rosemary to nest in while it roasted.  We also benefited from her nutritional knowledge: helping us to understand how food can be the medicine and the fuel we need to grow strong and tall.  I'm 5'11" so that pretty much means she was right all along.    

Some of my favorite memories of my dad includes him providing the Christmas entertainment and shenanigans.  Morning wake up calls accompanied by a soundtrack of Beyonce, French Horn solos of christmas carols, cantatas, and the USC football fighting song... the latter being the most popular, and finally his contributions of being an eager participant in the consuming of any and all food his daughters make.  I blame my foodie-ness on him.  And thank him for it. 

The delicious sounds and smells of Christmas' past linger in my mind as we look forward to this different kind of Christmas.  11 people in attendance should be 12 but my dad will be with us only in spirit, quite literally.  He passed away this spring.  While we all knew it was coming, we were never quite ready to experience the loss.  And all at once those yearly memories become so treasured and so nostalgic.

So to help us transition into this new dynamic we decided to bring everyone here to NYC.  I am so excited to be hosting our Christmas Eve and Christmas morn.  I've spent the past 5+ years as a nutritional family chef, creating beautiful feasts, treats and meals for my clients and as much as I have been able, I have always tried to bring home my favorite recipes for my family to experience.  Well, for me, this year will be just an added bonus that my family will be in my home and get to experience some of what I experience everyday.  What a thing to treasure!

In the spirit of giving to loved ones and sharing in community, I thought it would be fun to invite curious onlookers into my world during this Christmas and Holiday season.  I'll be posting meals that I prep, favorite go-to websites for recipes and resources and some extra nuggets of wisdom I learn along the way.  Join me in some of the finest kitchen's in NYC, my client's kitchens of course, and get a sneak peak of prep in my own home!


Final Loofbourrow Christmas Card 11.3.15-1.jpg

Our 2015 family photo. Dad included. Art by my baby sister, Jenae. (the one in the red)

Archive: "Health Coach on a Diet"

In 2011 I put myself on a diet in preparation for a big fancy Las Vegas trip I was taking with my then boyfriend (now hubby).  Read about that experience below!



APRIL 24, 2011

You know, even Health Professionals need a little self-care and self maintenance every once in a while. I have been coaching clients privately for exactly a year now.  I love my new business and I LOVE my clients.  I have realized though that all my attentions have been on my clients and my work, and I have lost a healthy balance of supporting myself in conducting a supreme holistic lifestyle!  Ok, it will never be perfect and I realize that there is an ebb and flow to how we prioritize but let me just speak the truth.  I am feeling the extra flab.  5-10 lbs makes a huge difference and I am about to hang out in a bikini for a weekend. This is not acceptable. As of now I will be hanging out OF the bikini! Come on, I am allowed to say that.

So I have a month. Well, less than.  I am not going to live in a state of depravity, but I am going to lay some ground rules for myself.  That is how I would handle anyone of my clients.  My job as a health coach is to support them in their goals and what they desire for themselves.  So, here are mine:

I want to...

1. Lose 10 lbs by May 20th.

1a. Feel ok if it's just 5

2. Quit indulging in my cheating whims and let it be ok to tell myself no.

2a. Catch myself when I say "oh it's only a little bit" because it ends up being "a little bit" multiple times a day

3. Exercise everyday

4. Eat what I know is healthy and satisfying to me and my body

5. Gain a clearer understanding of my cravings and why I am indulging in them

Do I think 10lbs is doable?  I might question that goal if someone were to approach me asking for help with just that singular goal.  I would know there were deeper issues.  And yes, there are deeper issues here that I need to submit to.  The need to overeat, indulging in my cravings, munching all the time, anxiety eating, maintaining a healthy immune system and dealing with my compromised digestive track.  There are reasons for my behaviors and actions and I need to pay attention to them, address them, and make some changes.  That's when the weight will come off.  Meanwhile, I will eat what I know is right for me.

My health is ever-changing.  It started with my own health coach 3 years ago who helped me lose 15 lbs, get off medications, and find confidence and self-worth.  Since that transformation I continue to discover new layers of health.  It's fun and exciting as well as challenging, but I don't think there is any better reward than overcoming the challenges, gaining more knowledge of how to listen to my body, and understanding what it needs.

I hope you are intrigued and inspired by my blog.  My hope is that it will inspire you to seek nutrition and how it relates to your body.  ...and I also truly hope that I will indeed lose the weight.  If I do, I will post a pic to prove it!



APRIL 26TH, 2011 - "Crunchy Munchies"

Why is it that some days I slug around and can't seem to get anything done (or even have the will to do it) and then others I zip through my day with the drive to do it all!!  Yesterday was a zippy day.  I would like to have them more often.  Maybe it was that I was really inspired after a wonderful get-a-way weekend of relaxing and Eastering.  It brought me back into the city so refreshed, and for a whole day I had no distractions and nothing getting in the way of my goals and aspirations.  Distractions happen a lot... and I think I invite them... like a self-sabatoge thing.  I have a worn out tape player of negative voices in my head telling me all the reasons why I shouldn't follow through with plans that I know will only propel me to the next step.  In fact as I am sitting here writing about it, I feel like I am trying to sneak a few lucid thoughts in while those voices are still dormant. 

When I talk about overcoming mountains with my own health coach 3 years ago, a lot of those mountains have to do with this very subject.  And boy did I do some climbing.  Sometimes struggles fall by the wayside and sometimes they will always be there to wrestle with you. It's your job to tame and calm them.  What I have learned through my journey and struggles however is those negative voices aren't really negative at all.  They are trying to be protective.  Holding me down and keeping me back because it's a scary world out there and if I am going to venture out and do something risky, I just might get hurt.

This has got to be the crux of my overeating issues. It's a million times better now since I know how to tame and manage my cravings but life happens, stress happens, and I just gotta munch and crunch on those things that are forbidden!

So.  My goal for today is to follow my healthy impulses because ultimately I know what I need to be doing.  Anytime a negative voice pops up, I am going to thank it for coming and for the protection it's lending, but I am going to ask it to take a seat in the corner and then focus on the thing that is going to get me to the next step.  Then I am going to eat a lot of veggies! Ha!

By the way, last night as I was writing the initial blog I ate a whole bag of popcorn.  Did I need it?  Yes. BUT! That spurred inspiration for my second snacky foods. I can't maintain a healthy balance so for this dieting month they are out! I am going to stick with whole food meals, and if I happen to be hungry between meals, I will make an interesting side salad, or a mini meal of sauteed veggies and a whole grain.  There is nothing less attractive than shoving handfuls of crunchy fluff in your mouth, covering you with crumbs and salt.  Organic crumbs and salt... but none the less...

A question for you.  What is your favorite snack food? 

Going jogging.  Putting on my gear, getting out the door and walk/run at intervals for 30min.  For anyone reading this...even if it's just my sister... go put on those running shoes and join me!




I had a great client session today.  We went through all her cupboards and fridge and replaced processed high sugar, high salt items with healthy high-nutrient foods.  It was interesting to see a sadness in her demeanor as she was doing the thing she knew she had to be doing but didn't want to. (her choice, by the way)  We threw out was mostly candy, chocolate, sugary peanut butter, and highly processed protein bars.  Throwing away sugary treats means throwing away a certain comfort and emotional attachment.  She knows it's time to fill that hole with other things.

So you know what I did?  After having this enlightening experience with her, I went downstairs to Argo Tea and got this sugary boba tea.  Is that what it's called?  Or bubble tea. I didn't realize how MUCH sugar they put in it until I tasted it! It was almost disgusting but I kept on drinking it!! ?? Point is I indulged in the very thing that I know is so bad for me! Sugar! And I never do anything like that!  Maybe it was because I was in mourning for my client, but most likely I am coming down off my sugar high from Easter weekend (chocolate covered almonds and something called butter krack) and I indulged in my craving.  I live a life free of refined sugar and mostly all sugars except for special occasions.  I do this because of how addictive it is.  I can't live a life of reason when sugar is in my diet.  Some people are more sensitive than others. I am one of those people.  That drink put me out for the rest of the day and after my sugar high... I took a nap.  Lesson learned.  And if I want to lose weight... no more funny business.



I prepared a lovely little lunch for myself today. Cut up pepper, zucchini, celery, and cucumber to dip in hummus, followed by my favorite gluten free tortilla with a veggie basil filling. All made to-go, as I am always on the run. Before the subway came I got a chance to grab a bench and catch a second to take in the beautiful thunder clouds.  Suddenly, I smelled alluring deliciousness wafting from either side of me. New York bagel and cream cheese accompanied by a steaming cup of coffee- on either side of me!! Two against one. So I did the only sensible thing this healthy girl knows how. I started crunching on my celery...and dreamed of asking one of my bench buddies for a bite! Kidding. There was a time, however, when I would just get so angry at my gluten allergy and would give in to the indulgence of a bagel or croissant. I regretted it EVERY TIME. I became fatigued, irritable, and bloated. I mean so bloated that I looked 6 mo. prego! I would look down at my wheat baby in regret and long for the pre-bagel anger feeling instead of this new bodily transformation. Those days are thankfully over and I can gratefully accept my more healthier habits. I know how it makes me feel and the nutrients it provides for my body-  far superior to a bagel and cream cheese. So, ha, I win! 

By the way I am doing great on my diet. Almost no snacking, and eating only whole food meals. The occasional Gluten free tortilla included. It's made fresh from millet, brown rice and other magical ingredients that make it so tasty! It's gluten free in disguise!! I have been eating lots of salads, veggie juices, fish, chicken, quinoa, and sautéd leafy greens with new potatoes. I have lovingly slapped my hand every time I reach for a munchy food when I'm not hungry.  I just love to eat when I'm anxious or worried. I'm still not perfect, but I'm better. ;)



I was sitting with a group of friends the other night for a late dinner wondering what the heck I was going to eat.  I had already eaten a light meal of sauteed bok choy and brown rice and I wasn't necessarily hungry. I knew that if I ordered a drink, I would be cheating on my diet.  Everyone else was getting a full meal and if I opted out of eating, I would be odd ball out.  This is a problem with me.  Fear of not fitting in.  Go figure, a 5'11' woman wishing she wouldn't stick out.  It's in my very nature and yet sometimes I want so badly to conform!

When I am my most authentic self, I am not caring what other people are thinking and my fear of judgement is diminished by how I use my integrity and the good choices I make.  Some people don't understand what it is like to struggle with insecurity (and I doff my hat to you) but I know first hand what it feels like to be frozen in place not knowing if the next word that comes out of my mouth is going to be the dumbest thing I have ever said.  I know the realities and practicalities of self-doubt and self consciousness but does that stop me?... In my teens, I read and reread The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom. It helped me through some of my worst moments and I still remind myself of it's wisdom.

As I become healthier, my soul and being is built up and through my pursuit to be a stronger person, I am able to overcome a lot of my battles.  The trick is to go through it.  In my experience, trying to find a short cut or attempting to move around the problem instead of wrestle with it head on only prolongs it's existence.  I believe certain things are given to you to work through so you can come out the other end a better person. If you put it aside, and repress what it's front of you there will be a continual build up and those same issues will revolve around and around you.  The hope is that once you actively start weeding through the issues and circumstances facing them head on, most will take care of themselves and fall away over time.

So when I ask, "what weight are you carrying" I don't want to know how many pounds too many you are.  I want to know what those things are in your life that you feel you can't battle.  More specifically, what relationships are not feeding you positively?, do you despise your job and feel creatively stuck?, What hurt do you carry around that you would like to unload, but can't see how to do it? That's the weight that I am talking about. 

So, here is my coaching session with myself, my amazing health coach, who is helping me lose my weight.

Myself: I care so much what people think about me that I carry their opinions around with me and give up my voice.  In my most extreme moments I will let other dictate my actions as not to upset the energy around me.

Health Coach: So what weight are you holding on to?

Myself: Those people in my life who don't let me live authentically.  Mostly it's myself and my fear.  Others are just my mirror to my insecurities.  I hold back as a preventative measure.  But I am only coddling my fear.

Health Coach:  So what are you going to do about it?

Myself: I am going to follow my intuition and do things because they are authentically right for me.  I will set aside my fear of judgment and focus on loving myself and building myself up in order to be the giving, compassionate, fun, and intelligent person that I am.

Health Coach:  Do you believe you are all those things?

Myself: Yes and more!!!

Health Coach: Find the freedom of fitting out!

Myself: Ah, you are so wise...

By the way, at that dinner I was talking about, I chose to sip a club soda with a splash of cran and extra lime.  I got a few searing looks from the waiter, but other than that my friends thought nothing of it, and I had a lovely time. ;)



It has been almost two weeks since I have placed myself on this diet. Eliminating snacks for this time period was a fabulous idea (practically speaking; otherwise it sucks), and since then I've cut down even more on the less nutritive foods and focused on highly quality nutrition. It has been thoroughly cleansing.  This pairing down, is in fact, happening naturally.  The more I integrate clean eating, the more my body craves it, so then I can surf the healthy spiral up and begin to let my BODY dictate what I should eat and not my emotions... and that includes my brain as it is directly connected with sugar cravings and emotional eating. 

Nutrition feeds information to cells and those cells, being hard little workers, distribute all of the food's nutrients to your blood, bones, organs, tissues, brain, ending with your emotions.  If you constantly feed your body a variety of whole foods with a high amount of nutrients, your body will process that information with vigor, and health is recycled over and over again. Same works in the converse.  Feed your body even a little refined sugar, artificial sweetener, processed foodstuffs, high sodium, and dare I say it... caffeine... and you make your body work extra hard to distribute the appropriate digestive enzymes, minerals and hormones to complete it's cycle in the body... sometimes taking years to finally exit... if at all!

To be completely frank with you I struggle with certain extreme digestive complexities...ok, I am not going to be so frank about the deets, but the long and the short of it, in a beating-around-the-bush-fashion is that I am highly sugar sensitive and when I eat poorly (usually sugar, alcohol, my allergic foods, and too little veggies) bad bacteria takes over and I am left with some pretty frustrating side affects... including weight gain.  I have a poor genetic constitution, and while I fully believe that we have the power to change our genes, I think it takes a lifetime to do so.  The progression and it's benefits are immediate and rewarding and if it's consistent through your lifetime the benefits are priceless.  Less doctor visits, less disease, less allergies and colds, a lifetime-al happy demeanor ;), memory retention, higher energy, lower stress, and most important to me is renewing the next generation.  

I'm not going to detail all that I have taken out of my diet because I would become overwhelmed. But. Here is my basic meal plan:



  • Mixed greens
  • various chopped veggies
  • avocado
  • kim chi i (those who inquire about this gets extra points)

Blended Veggie Soup:

  • zucchini, green and yellow

  • onion, garlic
  • cabbage
  • brussels sprouts
  • collards
  • celery
  • fennel
  • cayenne

Kale sauteed in coconut oil with red pepper flakes topped with fresh herbs and steamed anything.

I am having a small amount of good protein daily like wild canned tuna or organic chicken and sometimes I will have a serving of a gluten free whole grain.  But the main focus here is getting in as many veggies as a can.  That's where the optimal nutrition is.  I can just picture bright, happy, shiny working cells circulating in my body.  That makes me feel good. :)


May 14, 2011  "LUNCH HOUR"

I spent the most glorious day in the sun eating my lunch on the stoop.  Not only was I getting nutrients from my most amazing salad that I made, but I was getting nutrients from the sun as well!  I have been reading a lot about the benefits of vitamin D and how it boosts your mood, reduces risk of disease and inflammation, and builds strong bones.  Take advantage of the suns FREE benefits!! Get outside 10-30 min. a day with no sunscreen between the hours of 10-2.  Be aware of how sensitive your skin is.  You don't want to burn!!


MAY 23, 2011  "VEGAS

I am here in Sunshine-y Vegas and loving life! From bathing suits to sassy evening wear I have felt so confident in my body and have been really proud of my progress.  Let's break down my initial goals.

1. TO LOSE 10 LBS:

I never reached my goal of losing 10 lbs, but I did exceed my modified goal of 5 lbs. I lost 6.5 pounds.  Good enough, and I would venture to say perfect.  As I was dieting, I also lifted weights, ran, did pilates and rock climbed so I added some muscle to my body.


While I wasn't perfect, I did really well with supporting my cravings.  I took out snacking and made sure each meal was complete. I also added a 4th meal to my regimen so I didn't have to struggle with feeling hungry. By doing this, I learned how to regulate my blood sugar so when I did become hungry I didn't feel shaky or deprived.  I also learned that strictly telling myself "no" does NOT work.  I had to make goals with finesse and look at the bigger picture, rather than my present cravings.


By no means did I meet this goal, but I did get creative with how I got my body moving.  I tried new things like rock climbing (great workout) and I made sure to get in at least 20min. of running around my neighborhood when I needed to release steam or felt the need to snack.


I met this goal with flying colors.  I always had a variety of veggies for me to snack on and had my blended vegetable soup everyday. I made organic beef burgers with collard greens when I needed protein, and got creative with the type of salads that I made for myself.  My body got used to this way of eating, that I began to crave these things daily and did not struggle with being tempted with an alternative.  I also had an end date to my specific regimen, so that kept me motivated.  I stayed focused when I was out to dinner with friends and modified dishes to fit my desires.


I believe that I will always struggle with anxiety eating.  However, I learned about relentless perseverance and constant tending to when I felt myself begin to test my boundaries. There are always reasons for my cravings, and usually they tend to be emotional.  These emotions need to be addressed and not stuffed.

This blog was created to support my goals and help me lose the unneeded weight that was on my body so I could feel totally confident, radiant, and healthy, therefore being my wonderful authentic self without using the excuse of hiding behind my circumstances and ineptitudes.  It's so easy to get caught up in the busyness of life and forget to create a personal foundation of health to use as your spring board.

I have a client's permission to disclose part of a conversation that we had.  She was absolutely livid that I should be 'whining' about losing a few lbs. when her end goal is to lose... a little bit more than that.  It put her in an impossible situation and she became pissed off that I should be so vain.  While I absolutely see her point of view, I have to say that we all go through different periods in our lives... all of us hit hardships. Like I have said in my past blogs, shedding weight permanently DOES NOT mean only pounds.  It's emotional and spiritual as well, and if a holistic POV is not taken there will be an imbalance.  So to put it lightly, I am "healing" from my imbalance. We came to the conclusion that every body is different as is our story. While I can superficially say "I gotta fit in a bikini", it goes with all things.  

No matter how much weight you would like to lose, start with 5-10 lbs.  Reach that goal, re-asses, and then set a new goal.  Healthy actions recycle themselves- first in your body, and then to experiences around you and their affects on how you process them.  

I promised you a picture if I lost the weight... stay tuned ;)

Here are the pictures I promised!  It's been two weeks now since that the eventful weekend and I can confidently say I will always remember it as one of the best weekends of my life!  Good friends, good food, and wonderful going's-on!  I pretty much kept up my diet when I was there with exception of 2 glasses of wine at a special dinner and some wonderful bites of dessert for two meals (including creme brule at brunch!!!)  The rest of the time I stayed away from the chicken fingers, nachos, and yes, ladies and gentlemen...the free and endless alcohol.  No judgment on those who enjoyed these delicious beverages all weekend of course, but I knew that with my new lifestyle, the new understanding of my body, and how GREAT I was feeling, that it would immediately diminish had I participated.  I have uncovered many layers of health and gained such great insight over the past months, that I just wanted to continue feeling radiant.  I didn't want to deal with any maintenance work the week after such a wonderful trip.  I wanted to sail right through it.  So I honored my body and carefully picked out my treats.


I was the one who had chicken salads with no cheese, dressing on the side, requesting more chopped veggies with lemon and avocado. I opted for the green tea lattes and mini espresso's, always having a filled water bottle by my side.  I chose double portions of sauteed spinach and had fresh tartare and salmon salads.  This plate of goodness you see above was for a large group, but I enjoyed an equally large potion, passing on the mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, and the delicious stuffing in the lobster, but feasting on the green beans and.... the garnishes, yes I was that person.  I sneakily grabbed the kale-parsly bouquet, cut it up, and enjoyed it with my meat! I didn't care.  I knew I just needed the green stuff or I would go crazy!  If anyone said anything I just chalked it up to being a hungry rabbit and changed the subject.


Finally, the bikini pic I promised... ahhh, this will go in the photo books, and I am proud! :) 


So that's all folks!  I feel like I completed my diet with flying colors!  And I am keeping it up for the most part while adding in little things here and there.  What I am staying away from is all refined sugar, all dairy, and all gluten.  I will maintain this for quite sometime because my body is performing at it's best!

As I complete my health sessions with myself as my health coach I come away feeling more confident and secure in what my body needs. I have gotten to know myself in a very authentic way and have courted a more lasting relationship with myself.  

I have inspired some people to sign up for my program.  One of them has lost 15 lbs in 4 weeks.  These lbs. are lasting and not by any means have they come of because of any depravation diet. I encourage long lasting habits and if my clients take action in what I recommend the results are inevitable.

Who's next?  If you are intrigued even in the least bit, sign up for a free breakthrough consultation with me to see if we would work well together.  I would love to create a better health in YOU!!


                        Much love dear readers,

Jessica Burrows CHHC