The Monster Diet

America should call it's diet The Monster Diet. Through our 200 some years of existing as a Nation we've established some very interesting habits towards food, that have set certain trends that are very much, let's say, "American". While some countries daily diets include tea-time, lingering lunches or savory breakfasts at cafes most Americans average diet probably looks quite different. Breakfast is coffee and a granola bar if you're lucky, lunch is a salad and if you haven't raided the candy aisle before dinner, you last meal of the day (if you're being honest) is probably bigger that all the rest of the day combined. For some reason we've taken on this novel notion that being ferociously hungry through most of our day is how we are suppose to function. That or we are so driven in work, school or chasing kids all day as a Mom that we just "forget" to eat. But really how do you "forget" to eat? It's like forgetting you need to use the bathroom. Unless you work for Channel Five News or work under some crazy dealines like for UPS, I don't think many of us can forget that our stomachs are growling at us. But staying on a steady Monster diet - subsisting on a cycle of hunger and large meals, then more hunger and large meals - does more than just wreak havoc on your waistline.

Going through most days hungry or always eating past the point of comfort makes us on edge, and unpleasant. You can tell that many American's eat this way just by how startling it is when you meet a pleasant smile in public. Not only does not eating make us grouches, but we tend to not always make the best decisions when we're pushing past the point of hunger. We're hasty, we're pushy, we're scatter-brained and a bit of a mess.

What you eat can have the same effect. We all know at this point how we're suppose to and why. But did it ever cross you're mind that what you ate could be making you cranky? Particularly women. Hate to single us out here but if you're anything like me and you eat too much, or allow you diet to be healthy doses of Frappaccino's and chocolate, well you just not going to feel to hot - no pun intended. To top it off women tend to crave sugar, while guys crave protein. (So this idea that women have a harder time then men losing weight is just a fib we like to feed ourselves.)

Anytime my family would go to Sam's Club when I was a kid, we always knew we could forget about lunch. My parent's had this great idea that we could "fill up" on samples mid-day, call it lunch and save the extra bucks. (I don't quite think it to be abuse since my parents were blessed with feeding 6 hungry mouths at every meal - My poor folks). By 3 o'clock I would always ask for lunch, in which my Dad would reply  "But you just ate."  This often left me as the whiny "high-maintenance" individual in the family (which I still am teased for being from time to time.) Through the years I've tried so many different approaches to lose my extra weight. Believe it or not went into high school about 3, pushing 4 sizes bigger than I am now. But I found what worked for me was - drum roll please - eating when I was hungry. What a novel idea! Which in all honesty is more often then not. This means a few small healthy meals throughout my day.

None of us want to be ruled by food, but when we just ignore that our body's need substance we're not really doing the body good. There's got to come a point where you take responsibility and take time to understand how your body functions best. How could our country be so obsessed with food, be such infrequent eaters and still manage to top as the Nation with the highest rate of obesity? We often don't eat when we should and what we should. Moderation in all things is key. But I think most monsters are foreign to moderation.

A Slice of Better Vita

So I realize that I hadn’t shared on either blogs that I have another place where I write (though Better Vita has been quite neglected since the birth of The Radish.) On Better Vita, a Health and Fitness blog, I began while I was getting into yoga and healthy eats. Check it out. I’m kinda killing to birds with one stone on this post. More slices of Better “Life” to come…

Why Admins Can Easily Get Depressed (& The Purple Radish)

 

So I have come to the conclusion that sitting for too long makes me depressed. This may seem like a random place to pick back up but I’m in the midst of learning and growing (I'm  forever learning and growing,) the very reason why I should probably be writing here more often. But when I feel like I have a lot more to learn, or am in the process of growing, I kinda feel like I’m feeding you all a load of crap (or fill in the blank ...) if I’m not feeling all hunkey dorey and healthy. But I would gather that not even all my favorite writers embody the ideals they convey 100% of the time. So I write...

For those of you whom I’ve kept ill-informed, I have been giving much of my attention to another blog - The Purple Radish.  It’s a blog I’ve had for almost a year now, where I write or meander about life, love and culture. Post to post, it may come across as random, but that’s me. In a nut shell it’s where I write about what I’m passionate about. I hope to soon join Better Vita and The Purple Radish.

You don’t always hold jobs that are necessarily positions you’ve dreamed to be in. For me, that is any job where I’m serving coffee or sitting for an ungodly period of time. Currently I hold an administrative position, where e-mailing, documenting, mail-merging and meetings are just part of the job. Granted I’m working with several teams at a large church, so events and church services with 200 plus volunteers do get me off my feet a few days a week - obviously. But for anyone who works in a church, you understand that the prep time heavily outweighs the service and interaction time, though I wish this were reverseed. (When I was working on a College Campus I was always getting up to meet with students, be at services, classes, events... let’s just say there was a bit more movement required of me.) Since my hours are somewhat long and I live a bit away from work, I’m up earlier and try to get some movement for 30 minutes before I leave. Just some kind of activity to wake up before arriving to a desk.

Those of us who carry administrative jobs can often times feel like we’re the only one’s sitting at a desk while life and exciting things are  happening to everyone else outside these pasty walls. Or am I the only one who’s been struck with this thought from time to time? But I'm finding many of my biggest frustrations in life can be remedied with very practical solutions.

Frustration: "I feel lowsy and miserable after sitting behind a desk all day long!" (8 hours, if we’re counting)

Remedy: Get up!

It’s that simple, get up and start moving around. Who ever said I have to e-mail or submit room requests for a meeting while sitting down? When your sitting for long hours your body eventually adapts to a sedentary state. NBC.com news covered a Men's Health article, "Why Sitting Down All Day is Slowly Killing You" examining the health risks of desk jobs. "If you spend too much time in a chair, your glute muscles will actually 'forget' how to fire," says Hartman, a Men's Health Advisor. If you've ever had a desk job you know how this feels. There's a reason why so many people feel dead by the end of a work day, and often it's not from too much activity. Whether you exercise or not, if you're at a salary paying-desk job, though you may be making a significant amount more than a Starbucks Barista or grocer, you aren't expending as many calories as you would with a job where you stand. Basically, if your not moving as much, your not active as much and the inactivity eventually gets to your head.

It’s too easy to let life and our situations define us. Defining how we want our lives to look takes a bit more work than just rolling with the punches. Our bodies weren't even created for inactivity and how we feel after sitting for lengthy periods (when you’re legs are screaming at you to move) is a perfectly legitimate reason why we should not sit for so long at all (unless of course you're catching up with Breaking Bad or plan on attending "The Master" premiere). So if you’re working at a desk today, or for this period of your life, don’t succumb to feeling like crap. Get up and move! You will find your mind is sharper, your body will feel lighter and mood will be much sweeter (for you and everyone else you work with.)

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 ;)!

 

 

Keeping it Simple for Spring

 

The K.I.S.S. approach, Keeping It Super Simple (or Simple Stupid - depending on the day,) helps me keep peace of mind in my most stressful seasons.  In college I knew, in order to feel functional the next morning, I needed at least 7 and a half hours of sleep a night. Nowadays I seem to have to remind myself this. Both to keep it simple and to sleep. Sometimes we complicate losing weight or how to "be healthier" means, when really it's suppose to be simple. A simple tweek like more sleep may be what you need.

Consider this...

Most of us, when wanting to lose weight or feel healthy turn to diets and detoxes that guarentee speedy results. Of course these results are achieved quickly, but rarely last long. And to top things off, when you gain weight and are working extra hard to keep up with rigorous diet and excersice,  you tend to gain more stress. This only adds to your cortisol level, a stress-induced hormone ( which tends to add bloating and more weight. All that fun stuff.)

As one ages, we often want to blame age on things like  stress and weight-loss, when really it may just be lack of sleep, lack of a healthy diet and lack of planning ahead. First on my list to tackle (before I let age, my job or an insane schedule become a reason for any increase of  this stress-induced, weight-gaining hormone called cortisol) is to get more sleep.

Do yourself a favor,  keep things simple and sleep more.  I don't know about you, but I'm ready to fall asleep right now...

Sweet dreams.

KISS your way to a Better Life (aka Better Vita)

Hello to all the Better Vita readers that I've been out of touch with for too long! For those just reading, about 2 years ago I was living in NYC and this blog was in the front of my mind most days. Simply put, since my short-lived stay in NYC and returning to FL, I've spent some time analyzing (probably over-analyzing) who I am and what I value; meaning everything from God, relationships, passions, even food. My time on Better Vita became inconsistent and, for a  lengthly period, altogether removed. I needed some time. Or better put, "time heals what reason cannot."

Life is not meant to be so complex. Yet as human beings we tend to create more stress, more anxiety and more issues when it's not necessary. Life is much more simple than we make it. Better Vita was becoming a little too serious, which if you know me, isn't always my state of mind. My Dad, a master as keeping things simple (yet by no mean a "simple man"), has always taught his kids the KISS rule: Keep. Things. Simple. Stupid. I'm sure this is no revolutionary idea to you, but sometime in order to grow it seems we have to re-learn things we were taught when we were 6.

This summer I have some people who've asked me to teach them an approach to "Better Vita," learning how to eat better, work out bette, and live better. It seemed the appropriate time to return...

Better Vita has been resuscitated.

Stuff the turkey - not yourself!

Believe it our not there is a way to enjoy the holidays without overdoing it this year. You may be in turkey-coma still as you read this. You may still be snacking on leftover pumpkin pie that still lingers in the kitchen and the guilt hasn't sunk in yet 'til sometime after monday. It's the typical holiday routine. Probably something your used to and even comfortable with at this point, but there is actually a way to enjoy your turkey and not become one.

A few things to keep in mind it:

1. Eat to fuel, not to stuff yourself. It's really common to think you need to starve all day because you're heading to a dinner or party that night, but that is the worst thing you can do. You will like be ferociously hungry, eat too much and not even be able to enjoy it. So make sure before parties or family meals during the holidays to eat and eat healthy the day of.

2. Eat only what you like. If you don't like it, don't eat it. Unless of course your boyfriends mom is asking if you've tried her pumpkin pie yet or Aunt Sue slaved all day over her

3. Leave your plate 80% full. You don't have to feel the need to take off your belt to know your satisfied. Leaving that extra room will make everything easier to digest and your eating throughout the day so it's not like you'll never eat again.

4. Focus on filling half of your plate with greens and veggies. I'm talking spring mix green, broccoli or green beans not so much the potatoes and starchy stuff. Keep that to about 25% of your plate. All in moderation...

5. Fill about 25% with carbs and 25% of protein, give or take. Granted you just have to get used to listening to what your body is craving and remembering how foods make you feel. Make sure to get about 3 oz of lean protein. Fish, turkey & chicken breast, eggs or even wild game such as venison.

6. Taste your dessert, don't devour it. If you know there is going to be dessert that you will want to eat you may want to leave a little more room. A calorie is a calorie. And you don't always have to eat a whole pie of pie or chocolate cake to get your satisfy your sweet tooth.

7. Drink lots of water. All drinks have calories or dehydrate most of the time, so you are much better off sticking to water. If you do choose eggnog, punch or coffee stick to one cup.

8. Don't throw in the towel. We all have slip ups. We all eat too much pie or have had our fill of stuffing, but it doesn't mean all your work is at a loss over one meal. And it doesn't mean you have to encounter these "slip ups" every holiday. So if your feeling crappy over too much food go play a game of football or go on a long walk (on the beach if you're in Florida ;) ) and tomorrow you can start with a clean slate.

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

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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!

Music & Moods

Because there is so much more to living than food and fitness, I like to make this a place about all things that shape life. Music being one of them... I can't tell you how the sound of Diana Krall singing "The Look of Love" surrounds my head with autumn leaves and begs me to throw on a big burly sweater. I can't explain why hearing John Mayer singing "3x5" brings me to my naive and  unassuming state as a college freshman, or even why the chords of  "Lord, I Lift Your Name on High" faintly depresses me (due to countless Sunday nights I would let myself become quite upset about spending the last night of my weekend at church, knowing the school week was only hours away. Odd, I know.)

Music has a way of transporting us almost supernaturally. It's a universal language that has the power to awaken the soul. A song can bring instant ease or immediate irritation. A song can make me high or make me miserable. My family has always had a deep connection to music. Awfully opinionated, but deep. Maybe it was being raised with a Dad who would come home from work just to immediately blast anything from Billy Joel to Steven Curtis Chapman, and get all  us kids wired before dinner, that marked the moods of music for me. That or it was the headphones that were on my Mom's tummy all those 9 months. Still, ever since I was young (and to this day) my mom could tell what kind of  music I was currently listening to ( or more so, what I wasn't listening to) just by being around me. Music is powerful and moods are the makeup of our personalities and character.

Moods are more easily altered, thoughts more quickly formed and hearts more swiftly swayed by a song than we dare say.

So here are a taste of songs that sway me.

For just making me happy to be alive...

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4IH9gGywLk4]

For chilling out...

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

For setting me at ease...

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

For bringing me down to the dumps. ( Don't get me wrong. I think his music is beautiful. It just depresses me. Don't know why...)

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ThuXEDvCZk]

For battling stressful situations. Don't ask...

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kE0pwJ5PMDg]

For the love of God that leaves me at a loss for words...

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

 

What songs move your moods?

 

Dinner For One

Writing about "Cooking for One" has never been something I've been dying to do. The whole "Meal for one" craze never bit  because, well let's be honest here, cooking for one is not nearly as fun as cooking for more than one. Whether it be 2, 4 , 6 or really any number over one (except for when you hit 30 +. Like this summer when I had my cooking class and was preparing to feed 30 mouths. Not so much fun. Quality in any catering seems afterthought for the sake of quantity. Not my kind of cooking.)  But I do this to help you guys and "cooking healthy for one" is an area some of you have asked about.

Like I said, it's a rare occasion when cooking alone, I get the urge to pull out all the pots and pans to cook and fork out some $30 on one solid meal that I plan to partake of in solitude. No thanks. I'd rather spend $30 on a night that consists of  sushi, a movie and coffee with the company of friends. When I do have a spare night to cook, I make something simple like roasted fish or herbed chicken stir fry along with a simple salad or roasted vegetables. And normally enough for leftovers. Cause I'm weird and I love leftovers.

 So how do you eat healthy and under $10? Simple, make the dish satisfying and sustaining. 

This meal I had last night and sat down realizing, gosh this is probably the kind of stuff people want to learn about.

A few random leftovers I had in the fridge:

 Baby Romaine Salad with carrots, celery & cucumber

&

Lime Balsamic Vinegarette : a squeeze of lime, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar & extra virgin olive oil

Cilantro Chicken Stir-fry

Avocado wedge with sea salt, pepper and a squeeze of lime

Whole grain toast

 To the side was a little bubbly (aka sparkling WATER, always drinking water - diet drinks are a joke and sugary sodas are like sucking on a lollipop during your meal.)

 

When eating on your own it's easy to eat too much or too much of one type of food. So here are some things to keep in mind when concocting your solo meal.

1. Make 50% of your meal greens or veggies

2. Include lean protein lik fish, chicken, turkey, venison or tuna

3. Add fresh herbs (like cilantro, basil, oregano, italian parsely, mint), spices ( ginger, red pepper, paprika) and fresh citrus ( like a squeez or lime or lemon) to add flavor and depth to your meal.

4. Don't snack while your cooking or just before, because it's too easy to loose your appetite due to handfuls or pretzels or m&ms.

5. Try something new. We tend to be creatures of habit & habits are great, but try a new fish or a new recipe. New doesn't always have to be difficult and time-consuming.

6. Pay attention to what you're in the mood for (granted this doesn't mean whip up kraft mac & cheese every night) but maybe one night your feeling pasta with fresh basil, lemon and some grated parmesan with a salad and another your craving roasted chicken or maybe even breakfast for dinner. Don't be dogmatic about being healthy. Healthy should taste good.

7. Get creative with leftovers. Leftovers are sometimes my favorite, because you just open the fridge and voila, there's dinner.

 Some ideas:

Toss last night's roasted veggies in some greens (like baby romaine or arugula) with balsamic vinegar & extra virgin olive oil. My favorite Italian restaurant in NYC serves this as there house salad (soooooo gooood.)

Use leftover chicken meat in fajitas or leftover fish  in tacos.

Make dinner more like a meal of tapas with several small portions of leftovers: cut up  leftover frittata, chicken, some cheese and crackers, cold brown rice made into a salad. leftover grilled broccoli & garlic with lemon juice, then maybe some olives and pickles.

Though I'm not married to this "cooking for one" concept, I'll send more meal ideas as they come...

 

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...

What's in a nugget?

Someone please tell me why we eat things we know we shouldn't? And I'm not badgering here cause I've been there. I can easily go back there. I guess it's the memory of that first bite. That initial taste that we find so satisfying and continue to eat assuming it will satisfy every craving thats lingered. And so we indulge in something maybe we shouldn't be indulging in. Anyone that knows me knows I like good food. Real (as in actual, not artificial) good food. And I don't mean just plant-based food, though we all could be eating more of that. I mean cheese, chocolate, bread, chicken... real food. And I'm sure most would agree. But still our culture turns time and time again to foods we just know aren't good for us. If you saw last week's video I have up it should make more sense why out bodies reject, or aren't always pleased with things like ice cream and candy. Often it just makes us all the more hungry for something real.

You hear someone say, as they're polishing off a seven layer chocolate cake (from a well-known restaurant that will remain nameless,) "This is so good, I don't even want to know what's in it." Of course they don't want to know what's in it. Who wants to know they're paying top dollar to consume a cake drenched in sugar-laden mayonnaise? Then it won't be so good. So we say "I don't want to know" though we know we should. And typically we leave feeling stuffed, exhausted and lethargic. At some point we will discover the alarming truth. Better sooner than later.

Sometime last year I posted a video on food after reading Michael Pollan's book when I was in NYC. His book "In the Defense of Food" exposes the horrific truths of what we accept as "food" and promotes a more plant-based diet for America. Jamie Oliver has certainly done his part leading this "Food Revolution" as well. (Though it's sad we need a food revolution, when our world first needs a revolution in Christ's love.) Jamie Oliver, as a "celebrity" has a large audience already and is exposing America and many parts of Europe to truths that we decide to keep hidden.

In two weeks I'll be teaching a class on healthy eating at Victory Church here in Lakeland FL. As I've been brainstorming on how and what to teach I'm realizing people don't know or necessarily want to know what is in food. So that is where we will start.

 Last week when I posted the ice cream video someone thanked me for ruining ice cream (commercial ice cream, that is - go eat your Breyers or Hagen Daaz 5) for them forever. Next, the chicken nugget...

                                                                                                         [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9B7im8aQjo]