Your Best Defense is my little corner of the big blog world to help you create health through delicious plant-based food.  As a well-trained health professional with a personal quest to prevent cancer and stay healthy (see my story below), my goal is guide you in that same venture.  Here you'll find delicious recipes, interpretation of nutrition advice and fads, tips to making healthy choices at the grocery store and when eating out, as well as a variety of other lifestyle choices that impact health.    That said, life is short, so food has to be good and life has to be fun.  Eat well and have a happy heart!

Why me?

Diet plays a vital part in promoting good health and well-being. The first crucial step is to make the connection between good food choices and good health, and poor food choices and bad health
— Dr. Gillian McKeith

I'm Catherine Craig, MPH, RN, HHC, AADP….lots of letters to tell you I'm a registered nurse with a Masters in Public Health, also trained in health coaching.  I received my Bachelors of Science in Nursing from the University of Virginia in 1986, and have worked for 25+ years in the world of all things cancer…..in the hospital, in outpatient clinics, with children and adults, in clinical trials, in cancer prevention, in last effort treatments, in business development.  I got a Masters in Public Health from the University of Texas School of Public in 1999 where I studied interesting things like patients' rights, ethics in health care, and clinical trials plus some not so fun things like biostatistics!  Since I have witnessed up close and personal the impact of illness, I am passionate about living a healthy life and eating well.  To learn more,  I spent a year training with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition,  a school with a cutting-edge Health Coach Training Program (2011), completed my 200 hour yoga teaching training at Yoga Ananda/Yoga Shala (2012), and in March 2015  completed culinary school at the Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts, a plant based chef program in Austin, Texas. 

My personal story

My family, circa 1967

My family, circa 1967

I was raised an Army brat in a small nuclear family of 4, just me, my mom and dad, and sister. We moved often but always had a close family.  We had dinner together every night.   We always ate well -  home cooked, fresh food and had adventurous palates since we lived abroad twice. We all led active lives, had normal weights and were generally healthy.  Our immediate and extended family health history is fairly unremarkable with some lifestyle related illnesses (heart disease) and some bad luck (dementia).  No one had cancer and no one died young.  The world changed when I was 42 and it all started downhill.  First my sister had cancer and a few years later, my mom.  Both got through treatment, put cancer behind them, and are surviving cancer free!  And then my dad was diagnosed.  Despite valiant effort on his part, the treatments weren't good enough.   He died just about a year from his diagnosis.  So here we are, despite no family history of cancer, with 3 of 4 of my immediate family having some form of the disease.  It makes me wonder "What about me?' I think my best defense is to control what I can:  eat a plant based diet, stay active, sleep enough, find joy in life, connect with others, manage stress, have a purpose.   I am sure that even this "clean life"  can be full of delicious food, and doesn't have to be so darn hard!  I believe that part of my purpose is to share what I learn and practice with others. Through this blog, through health coaching, through cooking classes and cooking for others,  through simple, healthful recipes. I am inspired to share with you, help and guide you as together we do our best to stay healthy and disease free!