Food

Enjoy Holiday Feasting without Letting Yourself Go

Tonight you might be scarfing down swedish meatballs and several helpings of Auntie Mae’s special brownies, but come January 1st you’re getting a membership and losing 10 pounds. Afterall “Tomorrow is another day.”

So yes, at every party you’re going to help yourself to another glass of eggnog with an extra helping of sugar cookies. Already you’ve committed to a gym membership, a carb-free diet and a guaranteed horrible time working out to strip the extra holiday weight from your body. Isn’t that how every American starts their new year?

Maybe most of us succumb to gaining weight every Christmas more than we have to.  ‘Tis the season. But before facing the holidays feeling totally powerless to maintain some kind of restraint, or healthy mindset rather, when faced with a never-ending Christmas smorgasbord, here are a few suggestions to approaching Christmas and New Years celebrations without completely losing yourself.... (or gaining another self, rather.)

1.Eat when you’re hungry -

I know - groundbreaking. While it sounds like a obvious idea, those who actually eat 3 meals a day or more (snacks don’t hurt) are probably the minority. By eating before you’re famished you’re more likely to savor, choose wisely and actually enjoy your meals.

Some of us girls like to micro-manage the way we eat and for most guys it’s just convenient to skip a meal if you know there’s going to be free food in 3 hours. Overall there’s this idea that by skimping on breakfast or keeping lunch to a minimum of a bowl of salad, we’re somehow leaving room for a third helping of pecan pie later tonight. Trouble there is, you can’t really outsmart your gut. So try listening to it. Eat when you’re hungry, which is probably more often than not. Stop when you’re satisfied. Simple.

2. Don’t save the gym for Jan. 1st.

An effective workout doesn’t have to be a P90x sweat session with Tony Horton everyday (thank God!)You don’t need a trainer or gym membership to stay active through the next week. In 20 minutes you can get a decent workout at home on days when you’re crunched for time, though 30 - 60 is always ideal. Recently I’ve enjoyed short cardio circuit sessions by James Duigan. Wait til you get to the “burpee” on the link below and 20 minutes will be more than enough.

Here are some ideas for simple & quick workouts -

3. Forget about deprivation & diets

I can’t count the number of holidays I’ve faced thinking, “Ok, after vacation I’ll nix this and that and feel better.” I’ve done the whole no sugar, dairy, processed foods cleanse thing a handful of times and while there are endless benefits to this, the aftermath of supressing every urge for chocolate or cookies can get you in more of a mess than where you first began. You don’t have to be a certified nutritionist to grasp the idea of  healthy eating. Just keep it simple. Plenty of greens, lean proteins, fruits, whole grains, nuts and learn to moderate sweets and processed foods. Enjoy a variety. Don’t make it more complicated than it has to be.

Why is it that Americans revel in the extremes of holiday weight gain? The reason most of us continually fail or backtrack during these weeks is more connected with our train of thought than anything else. You can enjoy the holidays, those special brownies and a healthy lifestyle. Give yourself a Merry Christmas and don't give yourself up so easily this year.

Female Food Fixation

   

This one’s for the girls ( and no I have not been listening to Martina McBride), because for females, food can be so confusing. All women want to be able to actually enjoy half the delicious things we posted on Pinterest while being able to wear the outfits we equally drool over, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting this. But most of us girls can be preoccupied with how to have our cake and eat it too - which, in this case, is more attainable than we often make it.

If you're like me, you anticipate that by the time you hit adulthood, say late 20’s or early 30’s (if you can call that adulthood these days) you've learned how eat in order to reach a desired weight, and maintain a balanced diet without raiding the chocolate stash every night. But, being the women that we are, we complicate things.

Some seasons have been easier for me than others when it comes to my “food philosophy”; eating in a way that keeps me where I want to be, both mentally and physically. At times I’ve been very regiment about it. I’ve had my list of do’s and don’t and felt the need to abide by it rigorously and I’ve had my not-so-angelic seasons, staying up late, raiding that chocolate stash, often due to times of being too "angelic" throughout my day to begin with.

Things get confusing when food becomes a fixation. Some of us formulate, sometimes manipulate our diet, with foods we think will effect either our a) comfort or b) physique. By comfort, I’m referring to foods we believe will make us happy, viewing them as awards, while the latter are those we think are ideal, healthy foods. In layman’s terms, a) is “bad” and b) is “good.” Now, maybe I’m the only female who has spent her fair share of time in both modes, but I find many women’s eating habits are driven by a desire to look good or feel good.

Food is just food. While the word “food” is used so loosely, as to now define, what Michael Pollan calls, “edible food-like substances,” please take what I’m saying with a grain of salt. But - food is just food. Food is meant for nourishment, as it is meant for pleasure, kinship, creativity, tradition and some sense of consistency and stability in our lives. I’m not saying we should throw caution to the wind and eat whatever (if you read my blog, you’d know that is not my philosophy whatsoever) we could benefit ourselves to learn about our bodies, by being mindful and sensible, rather than obsessing about every morsel.

While there's always new diet trends or some life-changing celebrity cleanse, as promising as they may seem, none of them have the answer we want. Sometimes we try to transform our habits to a list of do's and don’t’s, in hopes of a dramatic physical transformation. Most women, nowadays, understand “eating healthy” to mean a gluten-free, dairy-free, non-processed virgin-like approach to life. Not that these aren’t good ways of eating, but perfecting it and not allowing some kind give in your diet is not only unattainable, it sucks the life out of food. It sucks the joy out of eating with others and sucks the possibility of reaching a state of health that you will ever feel confident in - because forcing food plans makes us forever fixated on what we should and shouldn’t have, making us rather imprisoned to these ideals. If you are constantly relying on Health newsfeeds or some calorie counting App to navigate how to eat, instead of learning how to understand what you need and crave, you will likely face endless cycles of frustration and obsession.

If there’s one thing I’ve found, the harder I work at it, the less I’m able to maintain it. In other words, the more I try to tame my taste buds or I force rigid plans, the more unlikely I am to be at a weight I’m happy with, or maintain a peace of mind for that matter. A constantly hungry girl is not a happy girl and a unhappy girl isn't always a pretty girl.

 

You Can Have It All... (In Due Time)

Food is a force of life, a source of energy that keeps us going. But being the human beings we are, we easily can confuse food to being our source instead of a source. Sometime we just don't know when to stop. It's why buffets will never go out of business here in Florida. We are ravenous creatures whose eyes are a great deal larger than our stomaches. But it's not abnormal to deal with this unsatiable appetite. We all deal with this at one point or another - at least if you're human.  Liz Lemon from 30 Rock, is that type of woman, that relatable human being (at least to me.) One whose blunt, unapologetic and unfilitered thought process and impulses can probably relate to most of us. (Sorry : I know 30 Rock may be a dated example, but I don’t watch much tv except for a recent fixation about a certain chemistry teacher turned meth producer, that may have the best health-related materials, at least for now.)

I think Liz Lemon relates to food the way most of us are afraid to admit we do on a weekly basis (particulary women - sorry girls, just being honest)...
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Brb_2-Y7FUA
“I CAN HAVE IT ALL!” Some of us eat like it’s our last meal, with no tomorrow in sight. I’ve done it, and particularly struggled with this when I’ve put too much food off limits (like major food groups.) If your trying to be too angelic everyday (ex. low-fat foods, substance-lacking salads, sugar-free fat-free froyo), your cravings will likely turn you into a 'lil devil. Certainly it explains some of our mood-swings. But this all or nothing mentality, in relation to our diets, seems to be a common eb and flow ( or a rather vicious cycle.)

Granted we deal with this “I want it all” idea, with nearly every aspect of life. How often are we completely content in the moment? Especially when we've got our eyes on something that we can't have or that's limited.   But just like you learn to budget your money, organize your time, and allot some relaxing or entertainment in your week, you must “budget” your eating patterns. Or you will forever find yourself in such situations...

So how do you control this ferocious voice inside you that says, “I can have it all!” and be satisfied?

1. Eat Breakfast - You all hear it all the time. But this will truly make a world of difference to your day.

2. Avoid Eating late - Unless you're wake up call isn't until 2pm everyday, avoid 2am Taco Bell runs. ( And one effects the other. of course if you eat too much at night you’re not going to feel like eating first thing in the morning.)

3. Cut Your Portions Way Down - Leave meals feeling satisfied rather than full.

4. Eat about 5 Small Meals Instead of 3 Big Onse -  But don’t think captain crunch, pizza, and big macs 5 times a day, but whole, clean foods.

                                                        Here’s an example of one day:

                                                       Breakfast - Oatmeal w berries, almonds w a dollop of greek yogurt

                                                       Snack - handful of sunflower seeds and an apple

                                                       Lunch - Grilled chicken, roasted broccoli & squash w olives

                                                       Snack - Carrots and hummus

                                                       Dinner - Sauteed Fish with green beans, quinoa & avacado

5. Cheat Meal/Day - Now I know I've said before I don't like the idea of "cheating" but really it's another way of "budgeting" or allowing indulgences while staying on track. So one meal (or one day) a week let yourself eat whatever you’re craving. This is all apart of the Clean and Lean philosophy, that I've been applying & sharing with you. It works!

Just a little patience and you can eventually have it all. Eventually....

 

 

 

 

 

Watermelon Whaahhtt?!?!

Wherever most of you are, those outside of Florida, it might not feel like summer just yet. But dang, it's hot here in muggy Florida.  I regulate Starbucks about as often as..., well let's just say I go often. In the summer, this escalates with the heat and humidity. Since I know coffee isn't the best thing to be drinking all day (if you can't tell by now, Better Vita has a strong vice) I've been trying out some amazing smoothie recipes in the morning to replace my cup of coffee (one of them at least.) So Refinery29 just made my day and shared an insane smoothie that has a ton of my favorite things all in one: Watermelon, sparkling water, mint and lime.

Rain or shine this weekend, I'm making this crazy concoction...

 

Click on the pic for the recipe

Click on the pic for the recipe)

For All You Salad-Haters

If you hate salads, chances are haven't had a good one. A bowl full of romaine drenched in fat-free ranch would sounds about as appetizing to me as munching on strafoam insulation as well. A few weeks ago I mentioned the "Clean and Lean" Cookbook I began using (now available in the states!), altering and cleaning up some eating habits, and the best reminder through it has been their simple but creative approach to salads and vegetable. Veggies should never be bland and boring, but delish! I know I sound ridiculous, but seriously these recipes are freak'n ridiculously good! Yes, I said freak'n (sorry Mom.) I'll still be trying out more new recipes from James Duigan's cookbook until I tire of them, so hopefully they'll appeal to all of you as much as they do to me! Thanks Bodyism for keeping eating clean and lean, scrumptious! Or as James Lipton would say "Scrumtrulescent."

Yummy. Eat your veggies...

 

Roast Squash with Feta, Pumpkin Seeds and Sprouting Broccoli

Serves 4 

Ingredients  1 large acorn or butternut squash  2 tablespoons olive oil  1 teaspoon chilli flakes  1 teaspoon cumin seeds ( you can also use about 1/2 of ground cumin - go light, cause this stuff is pungent! A little goes a long way)  sea salt and freshly ground black pepper  1 cup purple sprouting broccoli  (or cauliflower, asparagus, whatever sprouts are around) 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted (I used sunflower seed) extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling  feta cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F

2. Peel and cut the squash into wedges or large chunks, then toss in the olive oil, chilli flakes, cumin seeds and salt and pepper. 

3. Transfer to a roasting tin and roast in the preheated oven for approximately 35-45 minutes or until slightly golden and cooked. 

4. Meanwhile, blanch the broccoli in salted boiling water for approximately 4 minutes, or until al dente. Once cooked, toss with the squash and pumpkin seeds. 

5. Serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and the feta crumbled over the top. 

*Top Tips: This would go great with any grilled meat or oily fish. You can substitute the feta for goat’s cheese if you prefer.

Timely Eating

Calories in, calories out... that seems to be our fixation when we want to lose unwanted weight. It’s a common idea that cutting way back on calories will somehow cut back on weight. We think less food equals less fat. But, that’s not always the case. On top of that we have a tendency to cut out entire food groups or deprive ourselves. This is what I call dieting. And this is why I don’t diet - it doesn’t work.

What does work? Timely & mindful eating.

Timely Eating

What do I mean exactly? Well, look at this way : You wouldn’t take your car on a road trip and drive your car on empty, then not fuel up until you've reached your destination, would you? Of course not. A car can’t run on empty so why do we think we can? The time you decide to eat is just as important as what and how much you eat. You fuel your car to get you somewhere, so think of fueling your body just the same.

Timely eating provides proper energy for your body so your days will be productive. It’s great to plan to eat about 5 small meals a day. The plus is you’ll keep your metabolism humming along while you’re at it. Also consider when you start and finish eating each day, to give your digestive system a break. In The Clean Program, Dr. Alejandro Junger calls this “The Twelve Hour Window”; leave a twelve-hour window from your last meal in the evening to the next mornings breakfast (hence, “break - fast”.) “If you fill up your belly late at night, and eat early again the next day, your body isn’t given the opportunity to clean house.”

Mindful Eating

Being mindful of what you eat means being aware of what you’re eating. For example, if your famished and after scarfing a bowl of ice cream down in front of the tv  find you’re still hungry or craving something else, likely you aren’t being mindful of what you’re eating. Mindful eating takes the time to ask what your craving, to savor (or at least takes time to chew down) each bite and then realize when your satisfied. When you're unattached from these senses, you will likely overeat and not even enjoy your food, which is what typically leads to sugary and processed cravings, that never satisfy us like we think . So taking time to be aware of taste, quality and portion sizes will help you be more satisfied and keep you from over-indulging.

So mindful, along with timely eating should lead to a much more sound relationship with food and your body. We are in a lot more control of this and often give food or our schedules too much credit for controlling us. If you can be more mindful of what and when to eat, by the end of the day you'll feel satisfied and deal with less cravings to over-induldge.  We're often famished by supper time and can’t get enough food. That’s normally where the cakes, cookies and ice creams come in. Bringing a little more attention and awareness to when and how you eat can bring you to eating more sensibly.

Things to remember to eat more timely and mindfully...

  • Eat a satisfying breakfast about an hour after waking up
  • Eat what you enjoy
  • Chew thoroughly through eat bite (this will help you feel more satisfied, eat less & make food easier to digest)
  • Fuel & stock up on smart snacks (like fruits, nuts, veggies & hummus)
  • Keep snacks at a reasonable portion (fist-full not platter-full)
  • Avoid waiting over 4 hours between meals
  • Leave every meal feeling satisfied, rather than full
  • Make your last meal a few hours before you go to bed to get more shut-eye and feel more alive the next morning

Bon appetit!

Clean and Lean

Image from Womenshealthmag.com

Image from Womenshealthmag.com

So I’m not one to tweet every “tweetable” thought  or instagram every morsel of food that goes into my mouth. It can be a little overwhelming, for me and everyone else, when your life is exposed via social network, but I have enjoy writing (be it ever inconsistent and sparse as I it.) So here’s what’s going on with me currently health-wise. A few weeks ago Hillary, a friend (and former boss,) asked me to help her get healthier and wanted to go on some type of cleanse to kind of purge her system of sugar and processed foods. Prior to hearing from her I had been reading up on random health books and bought a new cookbook called  “Clean and Lean” by James Duigan, a well-know Australian trainer. His plan and approach, never mind the fact that he’s worked with the likes of Elle MacPherson and Hugh Grant, struck me as sensible and doable.

A few months ago my sister went on the plan for some wedding-prepping. She lost 7 lbs the first 2 weeks, and loved it so much she's kept up with the approach and lost 12lbs altogether, which helped her look crazy-hot for her wedding day. I suggested Hillary try the same plan and decided to join her, since I was feeling the need for a little tweaking myself. One too many movies nights of popcorn and chocolate can do that to me.

So Hillary and I have been kinda tackling this plan together.

Duigan's approach is so simple and satisfying, there's no reason anyone couldn't maintain this approach for life.

Here's the gist of it: For 14 days you...

CUT OUT  (what Duigan calls) CRAP : Caffeine, Refined sugar, Alcohol & Process foods, basically anything that comes out of a box. But Duigan says you can go ahead and have up to 2 coffee a day (sans the syrups & whipped creams.) So of course when I heard that, I was all over th plan.

EAT & EAT OFTEN - The approach for the first 14 days is just to get your body on track, eating less but more often.  The focus is a lot of greens, veggies, fruits, nuts, avocados, lean proteins like chicken, fish, yogurt and whole grains like oatmeal, quinoa & brown rice.

While I know the whole “Gluten-free diet” can be a whole other gimmick to get you to buy a lot of processed “gluten-free” nonsense, a whole foods approach cuts out processed food entirely. So technically this is a Gluten Free diet.

It may sound hard at first, but I honestly haven’t craved chocolate or junk in a week. Though I’ve done the whole yoga, pilates, health-foodie-blogging thing, it doesn't mean I’m not human and crave crap on occasion. I do look forward to my next splurge. But committing to a week or two of this helps you balance things out to make sure you're feeding yourself right, so that occasional treats are just that - occasional. Once you get through these 2 weeks you can allow a “cheat-meal” once a week. (Not gonna lie, mine may look more like a cheat-day,) but we'll see how things go.

CHEATING – I hate this term because it sounds like a free-for-all approach. But once you start eating whole, unprocessed foods all the time, really your body won’t be craving a day full of junk ( if you’re being honest with yourself.) Over time you may be able to understand when your body really is craving chocolate or can share a dessert with someone once or twice a week. The "Cheat meal" is a good approach to let yourself eat what you want and keeps things from getting boring or too restrictive. Essentially, following any kind of cleanse, you want to be able to maintain and live with more of a 80/20 approach.

This was just a taste of what a "cleanse" could look like. Let me know if you guys have any questions. More to come…

 

Are Sweets Making us Stupid?

 

It's probably the last thing  you want to hear, but the latest is that sugar is making us dumb. This latest study from UCLA  researchers found that excess sugar, especially high fructose corn syrup, may be decreasing your brain power, disrupting learning and causing memory loss. Apparently the study was done on rats and the increase of sugar overtime "stupified" the rats from  "performing easy tasks." Of course I'm not sure what tasks exactly that these rats perform outside of running & eating, but whatever the case, it seems the effects on us are similar.

While I know everyone tires of hearing how everything is bad for you these days the study says that increasing Omega-3-fatty acids can minimize the effects. All in all, stop eating corn flakes for breakfast and consider brushing your teeth with a toothpaste rather than twizzlers. Try consuming less sugar. Eat an apple.

Meatless "Mun"days

So it's been a weekend of pure insanity with my sister's wedding being in less than a week.  AHHHH! (think Macaulay-Culkin-jaw-dropping-AH!) It's all good insanity, but craziness none the less. This weekend we had a Bachelorette Party and had good food for Mother's Day, and so here we are on Monday, lacking sleep and sanity. If you're not familiar with Meatless Mondays (because they actually do exist) Goop can inform you further. It's a pretty practical idea, to have a meat-free day once a week, for anyone trying to be, feel or look healthier.

Vegetarian dishes can get really complex, but the other day a friend (vegetarian friend no less) was telling me about her favorite salad and it reminded me how creative I used to be with salads. So it sparked up the idea for this quick fix. I've had this for lunch twice since last week and plan on having it again soon.

Hope this inspires you to have creative Meatless Mondays!

All you need is some:

Spring mix, romaine or spinach

black beans

green beans  (or any other leftover steamed or roasted veggies)

green peppers

dates (this is where the magic is - so don't leave it out!)

red onion

slivered almonds

cilantro

balsamic vingegar (I used a pomegrate one) & olive oil

sea salt & cayenne pepper (if you can handle the heat)

squeeze of lime

Ok, so it's a bit more than a 5 ingredients kind of dish, but what can I say? Sometimes lettuce and olive oil just doesn't cut it.

Mix ingredient together and have a happy monday ;)!

 

 

Resourceful Eats

I'm an idealist. This can be a good thing and an absolute curse (totally inflicted upon me, by myself.) And they always say you learn more about yourself while teaching, it couldn't be more true. Most everyone in my classes will, at the end of my spiel, look at me and ask "How do you cut calories?", "What do you eat?" "What can & can't I eat?" Ok, it's not as hard as it looks and no I'm not going to direct you to Realage or Eatingwell to learn  healthy eating like it's a science. Eating good should be good. Good and simple. So the idealist in me sees the web as a massive gift from God, full of instantaneous creative and personable resources. And as far as food is concerned, eating well is finally a beautiful thing! So I want to share with you (those attending the class and those not) a few places that keep me coming back.

101Cookbooks

omeletterecipe

omeletterecipe

We all tend to assume that cooking healthy means bland and boring. Heidi Swanson proves that philosphy to be a farse. This site is incredible for learning to work with herbs,  spices, whole grains, what goes with what and her healthy baked goods are actually good! Mainly a vegetarian feast can be found here, but that doesn't mean you won't find an occasion stick of butter or a need for cheese .

Sprouted Kitchen

brekkie-bed-eggs-benedict

brekkie-bed-eggs-benedict

Talk about aestically appeasing, this couple (brilliant chef and photographer duo from Cali) have created one of the most beautiful sites for food, let alone creative and fresh. Healthy sweets, the best lentil dish  ever (aka meat to vegetarians - which I no longer am, in case you were wondering) and a great french press tutorial (and  if you haven't tried a french press you may want to check you're pulse to see if you are indeed living and breathing.)

http://vimeo.com/18524628

Have I ever mentioned coffee is good for you?

Sunday Suppers

sunday_supper[5]

sunday_supper[5]

Learning  how to cook well means together. This "art of cooking for yourself" is far from appealing to me. Family meals are memories I'm so indebted to my mom for and finally there seems to be a demand for it again. Incredibly tasty and and seemingly highly-involved cooking, this site is a great guide to cooking a meal. It's all about cooking & eating together. And I could eateverything on this site !

Bon Appetit

pasta-perfect-ipad-app-484

pasta-perfect-ipad-app-484

An indispensible resource for any weathered or aspiring cook. Apps are available on ipad (might just be one of the first I buy the day I have an ipad.) Or check out Epicurious, for it's slightly-less-aestetically-appeasing iphone app equal.

Great  Free Apps:

Fooducate - Scan and rate food before you buy it. Now I really think common sense and the ability to read should be enough for us to be smart about what we eat, but hey it's free. Watch them have this for rating  people some day...

fooducate

fooducate

tumblr_lmsol4bVmd1qhmrl1o1_500

tumblr_lmsol4bVmd1qhmrl1o1_500

Whole Foods Recipes - Simple, whole food. You can't go wrong.

whole-foods-recipes

whole-foods-recipes

whole-foods-recipe-app

whole-foods-recipe-app

Jamie Oliver recipe app - What a beauty, eh?

jamies_recipes_693315d

jamies_recipes_693315d

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5285340284_b4a6071e87

                                                                       Bon Appetit!

Food Rules

 

There are times I feel like there is nothing left to say on the topic of eating better, that hasn't already been said. I'm aware there is nothing new under the sun. Of course I realize most of you aren't health-foodie book worms like myself and probably don't spend your time at Books A Million browsing through the latest books on Gastronomy, that is if you choose to enter a book store at all. And likely most of you wouldn't be spending time online catching up at  New York Grubstreet or Mark Bittman's lastest "Opinion" on food.  At least I don't suspect so. While there is little left new under this ever-beating Florida September Sun, this may be news to some. So here you go...

About a year ago, while training at Strala in the lovely Lower East Side of NYC, I touched a little bit on the topic of Michael Pollan's philosophy on food. Michael Pollan is a brilliant journalist (0nce the editor of Harper's Magazine) who's interest in our Nation's culture of food has exposed hidden truths of the food industry through such books as "In the Defense of Food" and the documentary "Food Inc." His latest book,"Food Rules," is a collaboration of rules to eat by, for better health and a better environment.

So I want to introduce you all to some of his sensible "Food Rules".

 # 1 Eat Food :

For a quick wrap up on this, watch my video from last year.

# 2 Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as edible.

Now when I first read this I thought, "my grandmother might eat canned meat every now and then." I think many people my age would say they're grandparent's are quiet accostumed and comfortable with donuts holes, Happy Meals and Lean Cuisine Weight Watcher frozen dinner. But my Great-Grandmother? That's a different story.

When I think of the times I ate at my Great-Grandmother's, who we called "Mommie," meals were never light or necessarily healthy by any means. Not in South Carolina. But they certainly were memorable. I can't think of one thing she put on my plate that wasn't made from scratch or freshly baked: chicken and dumplings, collard greens with black-eyed peas and rice, pound cake, fried eggs and freshly baked bisquits. I can even recall  a rare occasion of Mommie cooking at my Grandma's, making chicken and dumplings. The two argued as Mommie searched for butter, flour and baking powder, even though my Grandma insisted Bisquick would be an easier route.

Mommie is with Jesus now, so it been sometime since our family fought over the last dumpling at a family dinner. Granted southern food isn't always "healthy" per say. She did make the best sweet iced tea, back when I would drink syrup in a cup. Typically she'd just pick up a 5lb bag of sugar and pour it into the freshly brewed tea. So not to say everything your great-grandma makes is heart healthy. But I think you get the idea.

What do you eat that your great grandma wouldn't recognize as food?

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ug75diEyiA0]

So this video doesn't entirely apply I just had to get it in here, cause I couldn't get it out of my head...

Jamie Oliver helps me explain why I'm a picky eater...

Recently a good friend from college e-mailed me that he's made some drastic changes in his diet, lost 30 lbs. and I couldn't be more proud of him! I'll be bugging him for more info on his new lifestyle to share with you all, but first I want to share with you the video that did it for him. I never thought the guy who would always clean off a slice of 9-layer chocolate cake at Cheesecake Factory every weekend we'd go out would admit being picky about his ice cream. Here's why:

For the full video check out  http://eater.com/archives/2011/06/06/watch-jamie-oliver-ruin-ice-cream-and-candy-forever.php

 

 

Thanks Aaron!

How to Order Healthy Sushi

  Shocker, I know. Not all sushi is healthy. But similar to my coffee, I manage to have a way of ordering sushi.

The weekend is getting closer and more than likely that means ... sushi! It's not every day I go out to eat (because A - it's expensive and B - I just like my food better.) So when I go out to eat it's typically Fish City or Gosh, here in good 'ol Lakeland. So yes, fish plays a major role in my diet. I don't know I how survived before without it.

Ordering unfamiliar items can be daunting enough, let alone trying to be healthy without seeming difficult or high-maintenance to your waiter. But hey, be difficult. It is your money and your sushi after all. (All those years as a Starbuck's employee taught me well: the customer is always right. Just ask any close friend or family member; I have no shame abiding to this rule of thumb when it's my turn to order.)

Here are some items you may be unfamiliar with and a little guide to ordering cleaner and healthier sushi:

Items you may not be familiar with...

Smelt roe - "poor man's" caviar.

Yellowtail - a very buttery tasting fish, not fishy tasting. Similar to tuna. ( My favorite - though it's not considered the most sustainable.)

Sashimi - raw fish, no rice.

Nigiri - raw fish over rice. A great option if you can stomach a lot of raw fish. Not so great when you go to a below Grade A sushi restaurant and they slap 5, 3oz pieces of raw tuna in front of you. Needless to say, it was a horrifying experience and a restaurant I've yet to return to.

Here are items to ask to be omitted for a healthier roll (if your dying to try to sauce, ask for it on the side and dip your chopsticks in it before picking up a piece)

Spicy sauce- typically a cream sauce that  is either drizzled overor mixed into the fish.

Cream Cheese - a given; best to avoid.

Tempura - either means the entire roll or the fish is fried, or sometimesfried panko bread crumbs are crumbled on top of the roll (which can be a tasty alternative to a completely fried roll.)

Eel sauce - This is not a "fish sauce", but usually a thick, syrup-y sauce that is likely loaded with calories. Best to avoid.

Japanese mayo - No, just because it's "Japanese" does not mean it's any healthier than American mayo (when served at an Americanized sushi restaurant, for sure.) Again, a given.

Coconut Shrimp - Means it's fried.

Seafood Dynamite Mix - A cream, spicy mix of imitation crab, shrimp and fish. Delicious, yes but definitely includes some spicy mayo.

Glaze - A guaranteed sugary sauce, you want to nix.

To make your sushi a little healthier (and  bring high maintenance to a whole new level), ask for ...

  • Half of the usual rice, or preferably brown if they have it ( but not all do, especially around here)
  • No dairy - ask for avacado in place of the cream cheese, so much better
  • Smaller slices
  • No rice (sometimes they can do this, other times they need to add just a bit for the seaweed to stick together)
  • Order a tempura roll, and ask for it not to be fried

Appetizers can also be an easy way to do yourself in before the rolls arrive so here are some healthy options to try...

  • Shrimp Dim Sum (soooo good - makes me wish I was back in NYC)
  • Steamed spring rolls (not fried)
  • Seaweed Salad
  • Edamame
  • Ahi Tuna (pronouced - Ahhhheee! )

Hopefully that will help you along next time you're ready to dive into your sushi rolls. Next time I'll dig a little deeper into the sustainable fish, for all you animal lovers out there.  But showing you a better way to order your sushi was priority.(As you will soon discover, to my mother's and last roomate's dismay, I'm not the most compassionate animal lover.)

 

 

 

 

Vita: Trends - Juice

Since working at Starbucks when I was just 16, I've been a coffee addict. My parent's always drank coffee and growing up in the land of Dunkin Donut's in the Boston-area,  Dunkin's French Vanilla iced "coffee" somewhat prepped me for working at Stuarbucks and what soon became a daily espresso and french-press coffee affair. But in light of the 2 sometimes 3 or 4 cups of quad lattes or  affogato mocha frappacinos with extra caramel drizzle, I've grown up a bit. My coffee addiction has settled into a reasonable consumption of 1 cup a day, maybe 3 shots.

 At times, to ween myself off of this daily addiction, I've had weeks where I'll just drink green tea. So when I reintroduce coffee, it doesn't feel so much a "do or die" scenario when I can't get my french press first thing in the morning. Infact, as of late I'd much prefer green tea, since it's a bit more rejuvenating compared to shocking my system with a rather acidic and strong brew of coffee first thing in the morning.

But I am in Florida and in the dead heat of the summer (at least here at 98 degrees already) a hot beverage won't always cut it. So opting for a cold beverage, I've finally given into to trying the "green monster" smoothies (that I said I would never substitute for a meal) and explored the whole juicing  craze. Green smoothie attempt 1 included: Kale, spinach, pear, mango, almond milk, agave and lime juice. This frothy green beverage was surprisingly satisfying in place of breakfast. I even managed to pour a glass for my dad who willing drank the whole glass and said "Hmmm good. Tastes healthy, but good." My mom and I were shocked he put down a beverage that contained vegetables and being that he is color blind, had no clue it was bright green. And I swore to her [my mom] that I wouldn't tell him there were vegetables in so she could attempt it again.

My sister has become quite the expert on juicing, trying options like Kale and Apple juice, Carrot and Pear and (her favorite, my absolutely least favorite) Carrot, Beet and Apple juice, which taste like pure dirt.  As someone who thoroughly enjoys real food, though others beg to differ, I was surprised at how satisfying these frothy green concoctions can be.

Dr. Oz, who has a balanced view on juicing - not encouraging juice fasts, but rather as an occasional meal substitution, has a great recipe for anti-aging monster juice. Even Guy Fieri  the ultimate "Guy Food Cook" - at least by my Dad's standards) starts his day out with fresh green juices:

What’s your morning food ritual?

GF: An Americano and a banana, if I’m home. If I’m on the road for Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, I have a new, amazing habit. I bought a juicer. One of my assistant's job is to buy organic vegetables every day, so that when I show up to set, I have a 16-ounce glass of delicious, healthy, freshly-made juice, usually with beets, carrots, strawberries, blueberries, celery, parsley, you name it.

He's such an advocate he even dedicated a page in his new book, Guy Fieri Food, all on juicing.

 

Chances are we aren't all getting in enough greens and rely too heavily upon coffee and sugar ( and sweet tea if you're from the south) to keep us going. But do we ever feel revitalized by these harmless stimulants? All in all the more greens you can get in the better. Maybe I can even sell my Dad on juicing when he hear the Guy Fieri juices. Unless of course he reads this first and discovers he's been hoaxed into drinking something good for him.

A Snack won't hurt

For a time, nutrition trends encouraged us to avoid snacking. We've been conditioned to stick to 3 square meals a day.  But snacking can be one of the best ways to whittle down in size and maintain a healthy weight. Granted, I'm not talking about grabbing a handfuls of tortilla chips every time you walk through the kitchen or taking advantage of cake whenever an office party calls for it (which seems to be everyday!)  Sure the "I can have it all" mentality sounds great, but the thrills of eating "whatever" you want only last so long. Especially when your thighs begin to swell (or you just keep telling yourself  you've dried your jeans for too long.) Snacking, when you're truly hungry, can help you avoid becoming ravenous. And when we're ravenous, we eat more than necessary, feel miserable and stuffed, and then swear we're not going to eat for the rest of the day. And then of course hours later, we find ourselves hungry again and the cycle continues. Now I know this isn't everyone. Many have the wisdom or intuitive eating discipline to know when they're hungry and when they're satisfied. Though not all of us are inclined to eat this way or our world would look much different . Over time I've learned when I'm hungry, when I'm satisfied and how a snack or two helps keep me in check.

What you snack on is equally as important as how much you eat. Snacks made of real, whole foods promote a healthy weight by keeping your appetite in check, truly nourishes your body,  and helps stabilize your blood sugar. This discourages over-eating, over-eating the wrong things, and lastly, allows you to enjoy a variety of foods.

Here are a few snacks ideas I may eat on a given day:

1/2 cup of o% Greek yogurt with some blueberries, cinnamon and slivered almonds

A handful of roasted cashews with a few dried figs

1 piece of toast and almonds butter with 1/2 a sliced pear, honey and cinnamon

A few pieces of leftover chicken , with 1/2 a sliced apple and mustard

Olives and pickles

1/2 a sliced avacado with a few slices of cucumber, a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper

Wasa crackers with goats cheese

Check out Whole Living for more healthy snack ideas:

Wholeliving.com

Life isn't fair... Or is it?

When you leave Starbucks, to find the $4 triple Americano you waited 15 minutes for only has two shots, life isn't fair. When a boyfriend, who you paid for more on gas and meals than you wish to recall, doesn't offer to help when your tire blows only 10 minutes from his house, life isn't fair. When a tornado wipes out your hometown, blows down your house and sucks up your belongings, life isn't fair. In such instances it is perfectly understandable that one would find life to be unfair.

However, when you skip lunch then consume 6 slices of pizza for dinner only to feel sick and bloated, life is fair. When you go to the fitting room and discover the 16-year-old-cheerleader's figure you thought you had is only a figment of your imagination (since you haven't done a jumping jack since high school,) life is fair. When you realize your nightly bowl of Hagen Daz is the contributing factor to your extra 10 lbs, while your kid brother scarfs down half a pan of brownies without gaining an ounce, guess what?  Life is fair.

That is how I've come to view it.

It's often the case that when we eat what we know we shouldn't and gain weight, somehow "life just isn't fair."  One acts as if they're cursed because they can't maintain their runner's waist line, as well as their bachelor habit of chips and dip for dinner. It's funny how we love certain foods but hate our bodies after eating such foods. Within moments we are trapped, thinking a chocolate cookie (or several) is necessary (because just one is never necessary.) And whether you'll admit it or not, you feel it's unfair how these "necessary" foods make you feel. So why do we tell ourselves we can still indulge without restraint? Why is life so unfair?

When I went to Burlington High, I remember sitting in the back of Mr. Costa's history class with a friend. Weekly we would gripe and moan about a gorgeous cheerleader in class who, without fail, would chow down on Cheez-its and Sour Patch Kids just after lunch.  "You know though, those cheerleaders practice for about 2 hours every day." She just had to remind me. Nonetheless it would bug me to no end that this tiny, big-eyed brunette would eat and  eat and remain effortlessly tiny. I would eat, with a workout consisting of no more than preparing for voice lessons or  monologues from "Sense and Sensibility" after school, (side note: Yes, I was that chunky music theater girl in high school) while remaining unsatisfied with how I felt and looked. The stack of fitness magazines in my room made no difference either, no matter how many times I flipped through them. Once the rubber met the road though and I began making healthy decisions, I've learned, in all fairness, your outcome is a clear reflection of your choices and priorities in life. The task of loosing extra weight or breaking seemingly harmless habits can be daunting. But you can spend time pitying yourself or change it. In all fairness, everyone has the choice to change.

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Berry Peach Crisp (recipe coming soon)

Iced Coffee

This year I've drastically cut down on coffee. After spending the better part of last year in New York City, nearly drowing in excellent coffee, my addiction had grown somewhat beyond something to be proud of. For a time there I was drinking 2 or 3 strong cups of coffee a day, which seemed necessary at the time, walking and running from place to place. Of course, I never mind the excuse for more coffee. For me there is nothing like an afternoon with no set plans, a good book and a great cup of coffee. You could say I relished it for all it's worth while I was in NYC.  Though there are surely dozens of excellent coffee shops in just the lower east side of the city, I found a few steady favorites.  One being Stumptown, which reminded me of Lakeland FL (where I currently reside) more than anywhere else in the city. That could be why it quickly lost it's appeal for me after the second visit. Any place that seems to be trying hard to look like they're not trying - is trying too hard.  Don't get me wrong, their coffee is superb (and I mean truly AH-MAAAZING) but the congested style of  the shop and it's customers was a bit too overpowering for my taste. Then there was Taralucci E Vino where I had my first cup of coffee in NYC. I stopped in Taralucci when I was suppose to be in my first yoga class, training.  Only I had locked myself out of the apartment that morning, luckily with  my wallet in hand. When I'd typically switch to panic mode I just "embraced it"  and found this little cafe and nearly fell in love.  Then later returned to my apartment building, to go upstairs to meet our neighbor Garby, on the floor above us, who resembled a sedated version of George Costanzia from Seinfeld, who apparently hadn't bathed in a week and who's apartment ( and the cats residing in it) appeared that of a true NYC freelancer. I ended up climbing out his window, to head down the fire escape, to find my way through a window that was luckily unlocked and managed to get back into cozy 5D. Regardless of my morning being memorably eventful, the fresh baguette and jam, alongside an americano, at the breezy and shaded Taralucci was just as unforgettable. Needless to say my first visit there was not my last. It's french, rustic, unpretentious setting felt like I was sitting in the first scene of "Inglorious Bastards."  The one in the wooden kitchen with the deafening pregnant pauses, that looked bare and hollow yet still completely enchanting? That was Taralucci.

Then there was La Colombe. Oh, La Colombe how I miss you.Believe it or not a yoga instructor, Mike from Strala, had first suggested it to me when he knew I liked strong coffee. He told me it was around the corner from Crosby street, on Lafayette, but warned me to be ready to wait in line from about  9-10:30 & 2-4. So I waiting in the line that stretched outside the door, to enter into a cafe with just a few wooden tables, absolutely no menu and latte glassware that looked like it came straight from Sicily. I ordered their iced-coffee, which is topped of with  espresso - on the house!  Without a doubt no coffee has ever come close. After that, few days went by that I didn't frequent La Colombe. Certainly it's one of the places I miss the  most. La Colombe is about coffee and nothing else. Trying to get my La Colombe fix at Starbucks here in Florida isn't always ideal, but it's doable. Since, I've learned that the less I have of coffee, the less I want. This doesn't mean I no longer want it. It's simply a matter of quality over quantity.

So here are some ideas on ordering coffee for the summer...  for a more waist and wallet friendly coffee buzz:

  • Try 2 or three shots over ice in a tall (small) cup

(2 shot for you Dunkin Donuts fan, 3 if you're a man - kidding ;) )

This is great especially in the Summer, or spring in Florida when the highs are already 98 degrees!

  • Order an iced red-eye (the closest thing to La Calombe), which is one shot of espresso in a cup of coffee

Even after the ice melts it's sure to keep you buzzing

  • Instead of ordering iced milky lattes, mochas or mochaccinos (which we never would've been allowed to make years ago, when Starbucks considered putting steamed foam over ice to be a health hazard) try a few shots over ice with just a pump or two of your flavor

( mocha, caramel, vanilla) and then add a splash of milk or cream

  • If you are going to order an iced latte make sure it's really good and the smallest size possible. Grab a small one at a authentic italian or french cafe or at Peet's coffee - if you're lucky enough to be near one.

Add a little cinnamon and nutmeg for flavor

  • Use a coffee "sleeve" to prevent your  coffee from sweating all over the place, which will also keep your drink cooler for a little longer.

 

  • Try my current favorite, an iced tall doppio espresso with 1/2 a pump of mocha and coconut (or one of each if you like it a little sweeter)

It's the perfect amount of pick me up for me and chocolate fix when I'm craving it.