Category Archives: Blog

Our Bono Cards

It took three months to get our appointment but we did it! After living in Valencia for at least six months you can apply for the “gold card” that allows you “free” rides on all buses for one year. Cost – about €18.

Bono Oro Regulations

This is a bus pass for the over 65’s, pensioners and disabled people who meet specific conditions and are registered in Valencia as well as being legal residents of Spain. It allows unlimited use of all EMT bus routes without exception from the moment the bus pass is paid for, until the end of the year. Requests are processed at the local municipal administrative offices.

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New Country Representative to Spain for the International Affiliate of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (IAAND)

As of June 1, 2021, I’m the new Country Representative to Spain for the International Affiliate of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (IAAND).

Based in Chicago, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) is the world’s largest food and nutrition professionals organization, with over 100,000 credentialed practitioners, including students, retired professionals, and international supporters.

Formerly called the American Dietetic Association, The Academy was founded in 1917, with a commitment to improving the nation’s health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education, and advocacy.

I graduated from Queens College with a degree in Family and Exercise Sciences, completed my 900-hr internship through Queens College, and earned a Master in Nutrition Education from Queens College as well. I was certified as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and earned a certification in Diabetes Education as well.

I’ve served in several volunteer positions for the Academy, beginning with an elected position to the Weight Management Dietetic Practice Group (WM DPG). A DPG is a professional-interest group of Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics members who wish to connect with other members within their interest and/or practice areas. The Weight Management Dietetic Practice Group supports the highest level of professional practice in preventing and treating overweight and obesity throughout the lifecycle.

As a founding member of this DPG (2001), I was elected as Secretary for two years starting in 2005, followed by seven years as Sponsorship Relations Chair, an appointed position.

As Sponsorship Relations Chair I worked with sponsors and members to produce an annual Symposium. In 2013 we were in Indianapolis, at the Hyatt Regency.

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April 1, 2014, on Capitol Hill, Washington, DC representing the WM DPG at the PPW 2014 (Public Policy Workshop) – now known as the Nutrition and Dietetics Advocacy Summit

After moving to Cuenca, Ecuador with my husband Ken in 2014, I served as the new (and first) Country Representative to Ecuador.

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Cuenca is Ecuador’s third-largest city, located high in the Andes, with beautiful lakes and hiking trails.
It has a world-class Symphony Orchestra, typically free for all to attend.
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The view from our window February 13, 2018 – we lived for two years at the lovely Boutique Hotel Floré on Mariscal Sucre, and enjoyed every minute of it.

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Taken two years later on February 13, 2020 – Catedral de la Inmaculada Concepción – The New Cathedral, Mariscal Sucre, Cuenca, Ecuador

Now that we have relocated to Valencia, Spain I have assumed a new volunteer position with IAAND – Country Representative to Spain.

July 2020 – Arrived in Valencia, enjoying the views – Plaza de la Reina

Formerly known as the American Overseas Dietetic Association –

About the IAAND:

As the International Affiliate of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics,  IAAND has over 1000 members and supporters, including student members and supporters, living in more than 78 countries. Members are internationally-minded Active, Student, International, and Retired Academy members, living inside and outside the United States, who practice in a wide variety of settings, including:

IAAND appoints Country Representatives (CRs), who serve as first points of contact for IAAND and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics within their country.

What does a country representative do?
Serves as a local resource to integrate new IAAND members into practice in the country.
Serves as an information base for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics/IAAND regarding country-specific food and nutrition issues.
Serves as a resource base to Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics/IAAND, helping field inquiries regarding practice & educational opportunities abroad.
Establishes relationships with key nutrition and dietetics associations and other relevant professional organizations.
Serves as a resource for referrals in collaboration with local dietetics professionals.

I’m working on a draft of the Country Information Sheet – Spain. This is member benefit.
There are two ways to enjoy the benefits of IAAND membership.

Country Information Sheets are created by Country Representatives to describe dietetics and the environment in their country. This information is useful to those who are seeking employment or interested in pursuing projects in the country.

Registered Dietitian Denine Stracker is Spain’s previous CR, now living in the U.S. IAAND member Aitor Sánchez is a Spanish dietitian-nutritionist, who lives in Madrid and has offices in Valencia. Click here for more information about the Aleris Centro de Nutrición Valencia, a center that offers services from professional dietitians-nutritionists, psychologists and exercise experts for weight and health management. Aitor is an entrepreneur, and has many successful endeavours, including the Aleris clinic, the Aleris academy, regular podcasts and blog posts. He is an excellent communicator – an author and media expert with two books in print and more to come. He’s an excellent professional and I thank him very much for all of his help.

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Aitor Sánchez – Mi Dieta Cojea

At present Spain does not have a national certification for dietitians-nutritionists. Spain has 17 Autonomous Regions and each has a regional dietetic association, and a written consensus that guides universities in the competencies and basic content for training. Click here to learn more about CODiNuCoVa The College of Dietitians and Nutritionists of the Valencian Community, officially constituted on December 19, 2009.

To work in Spain: EU nationals are free to work and live in Spain without restrictions but non-EU residents must have the correct visas to work in the country. Requirements for this include a job contract with a Spanish employer as well as other necessary documents

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Enjoying Valencia! Parque Turia – masks permitted to be off outdoors beginning June 26, 2021

LIA Restaurant in Valéncia

When we landed in Valéncia July 8, 2020, I’d noticed this restaurant near the Mercat Centrál – and we finally tried it for the first time May 8, we were so pleased! An interesting menu and delicious food and service. We returned again with Andrea & Phil on May 28, and they were equally impressed. LIA Restaurante Valéncia

Valéncia 2020-2021

Background Note:

November 11, 2019: We were flying back from an eight-week stay in Spain to our home since September 2014 in Cuenca, Ecuador. This was our third visit to Spain, and as we departed from San Sebastian/Donostia, I said, “let’s more to Spain!” Ken agreed, and we decided that our next adventure would be… relocating to Spain! We wanted to live in Europe. We’d done dozens of Home Exchanges since 2009, and the last one, in San Sebastian/Donostia, just sealed the deal. Cuenca is a great city, and we made many close friends, but Spain just ticked off all of the boxes. Great infrastructure – roads, rail, air, biking lanes in cities and bike-share programs, pedestrian safety; good health care, interesting culture, and we were thinking, Valencia weather.

We returned to Cuenca and engaged the trustworthy and very able facilitator Monica Gonzaga who shepherded us through the visa application process. We submitted our paperwork successfully on February 5, at the Spanish Consulate in Guayaquil.

Then we took off for a two week wine and hiking tour in Argentina with Esteban Coobija Arévalo, our esteemed guide and great friend, who is based in Cuenca and with whom Ken had enjoyed many, many great hikes in the Cajas. We joined a bunch of other expats and had a blast! If you would like to see the itinerary for our wonderful tour that included great hotels, dinners, wine tastings, hikes, biking, and visits to museums and Cathedrals, just contact me for the link.

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We had many opportunities to enjoy the wines in Salta, Cafayate, Cachi, and Mendoza.

On Wednesday March 11, we flew from Buenos Aires back to Guayaquil, and on Thursday March 12, as planned we visited the Spanish Consulate to have our new Spanish residency visas inserted into our passports. All went smoothly but by that time, covid-19 had been pronounced a pandemic. I just was reviewing our Facebook posts from that date and see that someone in the USA asked “how is Ecuador handling the covid-19 outbreak.” And Ken had answered that just the schools were closed, but otherwise no changes.

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Exito! Spanish Consulate, Visas in our Passports – with Monica Gonzaga

With our new visas in hand, we had planned to visit Valencia for two months, April 1-June 1, but on Monday, March 16, 2020, our world as we knew it, changed. For everyone. Our airline flight to Valencia was canceled.

But, luckily for us, we were rescheduled for July 7, 2020.

And in the nick of time! For we only had until July 12 to register our visas in Spain! And to do that they require at least a six-month lease. And health insurance, of course. A year-long policy. So. The decision was made. We were moving to Valencia. We hustled and sold most of our stuff, stored some stuff, and packed our suitcases.

July 6, 2020. Thank you Orlando Sigüenza for a comfortable and safe drive with our eight suitcases and two backpacks from Cuenca to Quito, with our overnight in the airport Wyndham Hotel.

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At the Wyndham Quito Airport the night before our flight to Valencia via Madrid July 7 2020

We landed in Valencia on July 8, 2020, and on July 9 we found our new apartment and moved in on July 15… thank you, Carmen Freund! Our apartment is a spacious two-bedroom/two-bath on Plaza de la Reina, with a great terrace. Our building is about fifty years old, and we’re on the top floor.
However, as comfortable as we’ve been, since April we have lived in a construction zone. Now almost a year later, we’re moving to El Cabañyal.

It was pretty hot landing in July in Valencia
Plaza de la Reina – the newly renovated plaza – half the plaza taken over by the entrance and exit for the parking garage
The original Plaza in 1953 with a fountain – pre-underground parking

From written by Miodrag Pepic
Reconstruction Of The Plaza De La Reina: A Facelift For The Queen Of Valencia

The long-awaited reconstruction of the Plaza de la Reina starts today, Monday 26 April, just three days after the works around the Mercado Central area began, opening the Ayuntamiento to sniping about timing since it will render the central area and Ciutat Vella effectively a building site…

After a wait of around two years for the start of these two renovation projects in Valencia’s centre, the Plaza de la Reina and the Mercado Central area, they are both starting at the same time – the latter on Thursday last week, and the former today. Because they will cause complete chaos in the Old Town, critics are claiming that it reveals the fact that the City Council has already written off the upcoming tourist season.

The City Council justified the fact that both sets of works begin at the same time by stating that the works are projects by two different departments, leading to one wag on social media saying, “There are obviously no phone lines in the Ayuntamiento building”.

Reconstruction of the Plaza de la Reina was due to be completed by the start of Fallas 2022, and the works around Mercado Central by June 2022. So everything will be ready by the summer of 2022, when tourists are expected to be able to return. When they do, they will find a completely redesigned Plaza de la Reina.

The square is to be completely pedestrianised, and a 115-tree urban forest planted. A new area will also include benches, kiosks, a children’s play area, public restrooms, drinking water fountains, a Valenbisi station, underground garbage containers and newly designed loading zones. The most significant change will be the installation of massive awnings that will protect people from the harsh Valencian sun and make this area the most appealing location for a restaurant. When completed, the total space will be nearly 12,000 square metres, possibly making it the premier selfie hotspot in Valencia.

plaza de la reina valencia

Around 1,700 businesses in 70 streets will be affected, estimates say, but large companies with annual invoices of more than €1m will receive a 95 per cent discount on the Economic Activities Tax. Aside from major hotels, however, few businesses will benefit from this, so it remains to be seen what provisions the government and the Association of Merchants of the Historic Center and the Ensanche will be able to provide.

The renovation of Plaza de la Reina will begin with closure of parking spaces, so if you plan to drive to the city centre as of today, it will be tremendously difficult to find a parking space anywhere. This might have the welcome effect of forcing Valencian drivers out of their cars, finally, given the excellent infrastructure with regard to public transport, not to mention the dedicated bicycle lanes that criss-cross the city.

A nice reporter from Levante noticed my video posts in the Facebook group Valencia Expats and asked if he could edit some for an article – click here to view.

A reporter from Levante noticed my posted videos on the Facebook Valencia expats page and asked if he could share them. Por supuesto!

“Detox” Naturally – Eat Your Way To Better Health

Your body is a natural detoxifier – In ScienceBasedMedicine, we learn that, “The liver performs a series of chemical reactions to convert toxic substances into ones that can be eliminated in bile, or the kidneys. The liver is self-cleansing – toxins don’t accumulate in it, and unless you have documented liver disease, it generally functions without any problem. The kidney excretes waste products into the urine – otherwise the substance stays in the blood. To argue that either organ need a “cleanse” is to demonstrate a profound ignorance of human physiology, metabolism, and toxicology.”

But no doubt, we eat foods that aren’t the best for us – we may drink too much alcohol and not enough water.  Getting the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables daily may take some planning, but I guarantee that if you follow this eating plan for at least a week, you’ll get fabulous nutrition without being hungry or resorting to a “detox” diet plan.

Prepare to succeed!  Go shopping, stock up on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and dairy (if you choose) –

If you are hungry, feel free to add more vegetables – they are unlimited – this guide is the minimum servings you need daily.

A great website with a FREE database of foods is the USDA’s SuperTracker.

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First, create your profile.  Then, choose your goals – weight loss, maintenance, or weight gain – you can even get recommendations for pregnancy – pre-pregnancy, or first, second, or third trimester.  Put in your vitals – height, weight, age, sex – and goal – and see the recommendations for nutrition, portions, and even click on each food to find out more.  It’s our USA Tax Dollars at work!

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Calories Equal Food: What to Eat: How Many Servings Do You Need?


Make Your Menus: click here for information about serving sizes of fruits and vegetables

                                                             Second Nature EatingEating smaller meals more frequently works ideally for me: I translate this eating pattern into portions: for example,
1300-1400 calories 1500-1600 calories
Breakfast ~250 ~300
Lunch ~400 ~500
Dinner ~400-500 ~500
Snack ~100 ~100-150
Snack ~100 ~100-150


What To Eat?  1300-1400 1500-1600
Starches: grains, breads, legumes, starchy vegetables 4 5
Meats and meat substitutes: Non-meat eaters, estimate ¼ cup cooked dry beans, 1 egg, 1 tablespoon of peanut butter, or ½ ounce of nuts or seeds can be considered as 1 ounce of meat – 3 oz of tofu has 8 g of protein – see more substitutes ideas here.
4-5 6-7
Dairy and Dairy Substitutes: per cup – can choose unsweetened soy milk or soy yogurt. 2 2
Crunchy Vegetables: 1 cup raw or 2 cups leafy greens or 1/2 cup cooked At least 4- more is fine At least 4-more is fine
Fruits: 1 small-med piece or 1 cup chopped or 2 tbs dried – I don’t recommend juice 2+ 2+
Added fats and oils – -light spreads (avoid all partially hydrogenated fats, margarine), avocado is great! oils like olive or canola oil-based salad dressing are best – buy organic if possible 1-2 3+ added
Other treats, such as wine or chocolate, depending on your activities!



Sample Menu 1300-1400
Breakfast:~250 calories

1 milk

1 fruit

1 starch

1 cup nonfat milk: 1 milk—80 calories1 cup berries: 1 fruit—60 calories

about 3/4 cup cooked oatmeal: 1 starch—approximately 100 calories

Total: ~240 calories


Snack:~100 calories

1 milk


1 6-ounce cup unsweetened yogurt: 1 milk—100 calories 
Lunch: ~400 calories2 meat

2 starches


2 slices whole grain bread or cup of quinoa: 2 starch—200 calories2 ounces turkey or tuna or salmon: 2 protein/meat—200 calories


Carrots and cucumbers—free



Snack: ~100 calories1 fat 1 small handful almonds (24): 1 fat—approximately 100 calories
Dinner: ~4003 meat

1 starches

2 veggies

2 fat

3 ounces broiled fish: 3 lean protein—210 calories1 small baked potato with salsa: 1 starch—100 calories

Broccoli and tomatoes, sautéed in nonstick pan with ½ tsp olive oil and herbs: free veggies plus 1 fat—50 calories

Tossed salad with vinegar, lemon, and ½ tsp olive oil—50 calories

Snack ~1001 fruit

1 milk

Sugar-free hot chocolate—60 calories½ Granny smith apple, sliced thin—40 calories



Sample Menu 1500-1600
Breakfast:~300 calories

1 milk

1 fruit

1-2 starch

1 cup of nonfat milk: 1 milk—80 calories1 whole cup berries: 1 fruit—60 calories

1- cup cooked oatmeal cereal: 1-2 starch—approximately 150 calories


Snack:~150 calories

1 milk

1 fruit

1 6-ounce cup unsweetened yogurt: 1 milk—100 calories1 whole orange: 1 fruit—60 calories
Lunch:~500 calories

3 meat

2 starch

1-2 fat



Large tossed salad: free vegetables3 ounces canned salmon or broiled fish: 3 meat

Whole wheat pita bread: 2 starch

1 tablespoon nonfat salad dressing: 1 fat



Snack: ~100 calories1 milk

½ starch

1 nonfat unsweetened yogurt or Greek yogurt: 1 milk2 tablespoons nugget cereal or wheat germ: ½ starch
Dinner: ~500-6003 meat

1-2 starch

1 fat

Shrimp with broccoli4 ounces medium-sized shrimp sautéed with 1 teaspoon olive oil; garlic, tomatoes, red peppers, and snow peas:

3-4 lean protein, 1 fat—approximately 300 calories

Big tossed salad with vinegar, lemon, and ½ tsp olive oil—50 calories

½- 1 cup brown rice: 1-2 starch—100-200 calories

Snack ~1001 milk

1 fruit

Sugar-free hot chocolate—60 calories½ Granny smith apple, sliced thin—40 calories
Total: about 1500-1600 calories Opt for a glass of red wine or a square of dark chocolate—approximately 100 calories