Thursday, December 3, 2009

Learning to Pamper

I just recently headed off to Miami Beach for a conference with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Of course I learned a lot of good information but the best thing about it was the much needed vacation. I stayed on for an extra day just to give myself time to relax and recuperate from my hectic life at home.

That extra day was so fantastic. It was great just being able to do whatever I wanted. I headed off to Lincoln Road where I had a great time window shopping, found a fabulous little restaurant and had the most delicious meal, and when it started to rain I ducked into a movie theater.

I went to this beautiful and luxurious hotel for breakfast and ordered a pot of citrus chamomile tea. When the waitress brought it out I got as excited as a school girl on a trip to American Girl. It was in this cute pot and served on a tray with a little individual pot of honey and a lemon wedge on its own little dish. So cute!

I sat there outside, next to the pool with my cup of tea, soaked in the sun, and thought about how lucky I was to be there. I couldn't help but wish I could have a little more of this pampering. Of course my lifestyle doesn't really give me a lot of free time for extravagant vacations, sitting by the beach, sipping tea.

Then I thought, how can I bring a little slice of this to my life on a smaller scale? Seriously, why can't I buy myself a nice teapot with some cute cups and those adorable little spoons? I could get a little tray and sit out in my screen room overlooking the pond and sip my tea.

So that is my plan. A little pampering ritual that I am bringing back from Miami Beach. I went shopping yesterday but couldn't find one I was in love with so I will keep looking. I will be sure to post a picture when I find it.

I am on a path of learning how to treat myself special. I've spent most of my life focusing on my kids and I don't really even know how to pamper myself. Sad but true. I suspect there are a lot of women out there who can relate.

So, tell me your story. How do you pamper yourself and treat yourself special? If you don't spend a lot of time doing special things for yourself tell me one thing big or small that you would love to do for yourself. Maybe you can give me some great ideas!

Ornaments of Love

I love Christmas! It is my favorite holiday of the year. Every year after Thanksgiving, we pull out our Christmas tree and we go about the task of decorating it and I couldn't be more excited. Once we get past the initial struggle with the lights, the fun begins. I gather all the kids around and we open up the boxes of ornaments and I begin passing them out.

Each year I give my children a new ornament. It usually has to do with something they did in the year or a strong interest they have. There have been ornaments of just about every sport given out as well as musical instruments and favorite characters. I really love handing my 12 year old a Telletubby ornament. He cringes every time but we all laugh and I remember when he couldn't get enough of that show (thank God that is over!!!).

In 2000 my mother in law passed away in July. During that first Christmas season we received an envelope from the funeral home that handled the arrangements for us. Inside was a paper dove ornament with gold trim and her name written on it. It made us pretty sad that year but it reminded us how much she loved Christmas and it gave us an opportunity to talk about her as we put the ornament up onto the tree.

Nine years later, we still put that ornament up onto our tree in a special spot up high where it is safe and honored. It has become a special time where we can remember her and honor all that she gave us while she was a part of her life.

I am so grateful that we were given this simple gift that year when we weren't even sure we were ready to deal with it. It has given us years of joy and I suspect it will continue to for many years to come.

Is there someone you would like to honor this holiday season? Perhaps you can create a special ornament or decoration that will spark a memory, begin a conversation, or bring about a sense of gratitude for having had the privilege of knowing them. Or maybe there is someone you know who could use a simple gift or remembrance this year.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Seaweed for Dessert?

Thanksgiving Kanten

Seaweed for dessert? Heck Yes! This dessert uses the Japanese ...

See Thanksgiving Kanten on Key Ingredient.

I know it sounds CRAZY but I am telling you, this is good stuff. It's like jello without the connective tissue (if you didn't know that's what they make jello out of...sorry). Honest engine, every single person in my family loved this and the best part is that is good for you!

So what is it you ask? It's called Kanten in Japan where it originated or agar agar here in the US. It is basically a flake or powdered seaweed. It is tasteless, has zero calories, zero carbs, zero fat and over 80% fiber. Because if its high fiber content and its ability to absorb water it keeps our tummies feeling fuller for longer. In fact, it is being touted as the weight loss secret of the Japanese.

You can buy it your local natural health food store. I got mine at Whole Foods. It is also available online at if you like to click and buy. Be sure to ask for it by its American name agar agar. You will find it in the Asian aisle by the seaweed.

This recipe is adapted from one I got from Andrea Beaman. You can change out the fruit and the juice but this combination seems especially good for Thanksgiving. Don't be scared! I promise it doesn't taste like fish or even seaweed for that matter. It just tastes like fruit jello. Yum!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Fish For the Whole Family

White Fish with Tomato and Olive Salsa

A delicious and healthy meal that is easy to prepare ...

See White Fish with Tomato and Olive Salsa on Key Ingredient.

Not everyone in my house likes fish. Big surprise there right... it seems that there is always someone who doesn't like something but fish is actually one of the things that quite a few people don't like.

I make it every week anyway. I never tell the little ones it's fish. We call salmon pink chicken and I usually call white fish chicken. It's funny because my 7 year old always asks me if he has to be careful for bones in this kind of chicken. I plan on letting him know very soon that he eats fish. I just wanted him to get used to the food before he found out what it actually is.

Last night I made a new fish recipe that everyone really liked. My husband thought it was great which is a miracle and thrilled me to no end. None of the kids even complained. Well, OK, I cannot tell a lie. A few of them were not too thrilled with the collard greens but the fish they liked.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Frantic Holiday Eating

The countdown to holiday eating has begun. We are only days away from eating out big Thanksgiving feasts which leads right into holiday baking, holiday parties and an endless supply of food.

What's a girl to do? You want to be healthy. You don't want to gain weight but you wait all year for those special cookies and your grandma's famous dessert. What would the holidays be without all those special foods you ask yourself.

Trust me, I've been there more times than I would like to admit. I've gone through the holidays gorging on every bit of food on the table until I was so full I felt sick. I've also gone through the holidays on a strict diet, refusing to eat anything that might make me gain weight. Neither of these plans has worked for me and I'm guessing that I am not alone.

As much as we would like to think of food as pure fuel for our bodies there is no denying that food holds a special place in our hearts. Just the smell of something baking in the oven can bring us back to a happier place let alone that first delicious bite. Do we really want to deprive ourselves of that warm fuzzy feeling? Well there must be a way to have our cake and eat it too.

Here are my top tips for getting through the holidays without depriving yourself or gorging yourself.

1. Don't be perfect- Look, I know we all want to be perfect but trust me, there is no such thing so I am giving you permission to let perfectionism go this holiday. Aim for 90-10, 80-20, or even 75-25. Make the majority of your meals healthy so when you are at your holiday party you can enjoy your favorite dessert without the guilt.

2. Hydrate yourself- When the weather turns cold and we stoke up our furnaces the air becomes dry and we naturally become a bit dehydrated. The irony is that when it is cold we don't really feel like drinking big glasses of cold water. Often we confuse hunger for thirst so by making sure you are getting enough fluids you will automatically cut down on the amount of food you eat.

Try drinking your water room temperature. It is better for you anyway and won't give you that chill. Try warm water with some lemon or a new herbal tea. Add lemon, lime, orange or cucumber to your water for an interesting twist. Just remember to stay away from soft drinks and caffeinated beverages. These don't hydrate and in fact can deplete the body of hydration.

3. Do a Swap- I used to make this sweet potato side dish that was to die for! I mean...yum. Well, it was loaded with sugar and fat and I just don't want to go there anymore. I would rather save my splurge for a decadent dessert so now I make a lighter dish with agave for a sweetener and a bit of olive oil. It tastes delicious and I can feel good about eating it. Look at your menu and see where you can make small changes to make it a bit healthier.

4. Plan, Plan, Plan- We've all heard the saying, "fail to plan, plan to fail." Take a moment to look at your calendar and figure out some easy meals you can make that will nourish you without stressing you out. Don't be caught staring into the refrigerator wondering what to eat, only to grab something junky that won't even give you any satisfaction.

5. Slow Down and Enjoy Your Food- So many of us tend to wolf down our food barely even tasting it. If you are going to wait all year for your favorite food, don't you think you should take the time to truly savor it? By slowing down and experiencing all of the flavors the dish has to offer you will not only bring yourself some much needed joy but chances are you will be satisfied with a lot less of it too.

5. Take Care of Yourself- Last but certainly not least, in fact, this is probably the most important thing you can do. One of the most powerful things I have learned since becoming a holistic coach is that when we take impeccable care of ourselves we are less interested in filling up with food. When we are constantly on the go, stretched thin, stressed and tired, we turn to food to make us feel better, to calm us, to give us a little bit of joy. But when we learn to fill our lives with gratitude, joy, passion and excitement, we realize that there isn't a food out there that can measure up to that.

I know the holidays can be stressful. This year I invite you to carve out little bits of "me time." Go for a walk in nature and collect pine cones to put in a bowl on your table. Put on your favorite holiday music and take a candle-lit bath, sneak off to the movies all by yourself and enjoy every minute of it. Find something that makes you smile and makes you happy and just do it! You will be surprised how much more you will enjoy this holiday season and how much less you will be inclined to eat.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. What's one thing you will do differently this year to make your holiday season even better?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Now What?

I know you are wondering what the heck you are supposed to do with all that chili I gave you the recipe for. That recipe makes a big pot of chili and even I can't get my whole family to eat it all. So, we make chili-mac. Just boil up some noodles and mix it in and you have dinner number 2. That's how I do it. Nice and easy.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Family Favorite Chili

Growing up in the restaurant business, one thing I learned really early on is that people like different things. What one person raves about another will be repulsed by. One of my dad's favorite sayings was, "You can't please all of the people all of the time." Oh how true that statement is. I have brought that saying along with me in my family kitchen.

It is not often that all seven people in my family actually all like something I make. It is inevitable that someone will complain about something. They don't like the onions, they don't like peanut butter, they don't like broccoli. I am sure you all know what I am talking about.

Well guess what? This chili recipe is loved by all! Little kids, big kids, the dad that acts like a kid. They all love this chili. Me too. And better still, it is made in the crockpot which makes it so easy! I hope you enjoy one of our favorites...but if you don't, my feelings won't be hurt. :o)

Family Favorite Chili
3 lbs organic ground beef
4 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 large onions chopped
2 large red peppers chopped
3 cans black beans (or assorted beans)
3 cans chili style tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
2 chipolte peppers from a can, chopped (for light spice. Add more if you like it spicy)
2 teaspoons sugar
Salt and pepper

1. Brown the ground beef in a skillet. Drain. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Add to the bottom of a 5 quart crock pot. Sprinkle the chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, and smoked paprika over the beef.

3. Add the chopped onions and peppers.

4. Put the beans in a colander, rinse well and drain. Add them to the pot. Add the tomatoes with their juice, the tomato paste, and the chipolte peppers. Sprinkle the sugar over the tomatoes.

5. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.

Serve with a fresh salad and some cornbread for a delicious meal.

A Happy Life

A happy life is just a string of happy moments. But most people don't allow the happy moment, because they're so busy trying to get a happy life.
--- Abraham

I used to have this idea that someday I would be happy. Someday when my life was perfect I would finally have this ideal life and I would be happy. I would be the perfect size, my kids would be the perfect age, my house would look like a model home in a magazine, I would be travelling to exotic places, I would have free time to spend just as I wished and then...I would FINALLY be happy.

I tried to make it happen. I started taking all kinds of workshops and educational programs looking for the key to find my happiness. Each of them brought me something special and for a short time I would feel like I found my answer. Inevitably, something would go wrong in my life and I would be thrown for a loop. All my hard work was for nothing, I would never truly be happy!

This year I turned 40. Yep, the big 4-0. And guess what. Something changed in me. I have been having these moments of clarity I guess you can call them. They are like little flashes of reality and it seems my eyes have opened up to see what I couldn't see before. I have realized that there really is no final happy destination. It is what you make of everyday that determines how happy you are. I can determine how happy I am whether the weather is warm or cold, the house is clean or messy, the work is done or not. It is truly up to me.

So what have I been doing to make that process a bit easier? I've been bringing moments of joy into my day as much as possible. Nothing drastic. Nothing that can't be easily added into my day. It doesn't take a lot to make the changes. Here are my top 5 happiness helpers.

1. Creating the Soundtrack of My Life- I have been really using music to create my mood lately. I have been listening to calming and uplifting music in the mornings while I am getting the kids off to school. It really helps me start the day off feeling grounded and peaceful and I have noticed a difference in the kids' behavior as well. Some favorites are So Much Magnificence by Miten and Deva Premal, Have I told You Lately by Rod Stewart and Into the Mystic by Van Morrison.

I have also been taking mid-day dance breaks. I go to You Tube and search a favorite song, crank up the computer and start boogieing. It takes just minutes and really lifts my spirits and gives me a second wind.

Dinner has been amped up with the addition of music too. I get the kids dancing around the kitchen with me while I prepare the food and we have lots of fun. One warning, don't get too wrapped up in the dancing, you might burn your me, I speak from experience. :o)

2. Gratitude, Gratitude, Gratitude- I can't say enough about taking the time to stop and think about what you have instead of what you don't have. It changes your entire perspective and gives you a warm fuzzy feeling inside. In the beginning I had the hardest time with this, I was so negative that I often couldn't find anything to be that grateful for. I had to come up with basic things like, "I am breathing. I can walk. I can see. The sun is shining." It didn't take long for me to get with the groove and now I find gratitude in just about everything these days.

3. Picking Media Wisely- I haven't watched the news in years. I decided a long time ago that I wasn't being served by the negative messages and fear inducing hype that goes on in most newscasts. It is amazing but I have managed to survive and know enough about what is going on to carry on intelligent conversations. I just recently learned of a magazine called The Week from a fellow IIN student. It is a weekly news magazine that reports with a positive spin. I am going to get my free 4 issues and check it out.

4. It's Tea Time- My grandmother is from Australia and in Australia you drink tea. You drink tea all day it seems. When I headed down under as a teenager I couldn't appreciate the ritual of taking time off for a cup of tea but now that I am, ahem, "older", I get it.

In this instance it really isn't about the tea. It's more about ritual of taking the little break in my day. I spend about 10 to 15 minutes just relaxing and enjoying my tea. If you're not into tea then find something else that can give you that warm happy feeling and feeds your body. That is good stuff.

5. Stay Connected- In this day and age it seems we are all so busy that it can be easy to go through life without really connecting to the people we love. We give a quick kiss goodbye as we head out the door and say our "I love you's" when we hang up the phone but without really making an effort to connect on a regular basis we can easily lose touch.

Our family likes to play dinner games while we eat. It's a fun way to spend our time together and we all have a little laugh at the same time. I also make an effort to spend time with the kids when they get home from school to see how their day went.

My husband and I usually go out twice a month on a date. Sometimes we go to dinner, to the movies, or even to the bookstore. Occasionally we will listen to some live music. The nights where we end up sitting around and talking are the best dates. We end up feeling like we did when we first met and we really feel connected.

What kinds of things do you do to make your days a little happier?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Meatless Monday!

Have you heard about this Meatless Monday movement that is going on? I think it is pretty cool. Basically they are saying that by removing meat from our menu for one day a week we will be cutting our consumption by 15%. By doing this we can improve our health and the health of our planet. You can find out more about it at their website or check out the video below.

I like this idea and decided to commit to doing it. My first attempt at feeding my children a meatless meal went over great. I took a recipe that I have for pasta fagoli and omitted the meat (which I don't usually even put in there) and switched out the chicken broth for some vegetable broth. It was a success. The kids didn't even realize they weren't eating meat. In fact, I am going to do this a few more times before I announce it to them.

Why wouldn't I just tell them you ask. Well, the little guys probably would think it was a great idea. I could show them the video and we could have some fun with it...which is exactly what we will do in a few weeks. The problem is the teenager. Yes, he is a meat eater and will complain incessantly about the lack of meat. I figure if I do it without him realizing it I will have some history to fall back on him when he complains. You know, "I've been doing it for a month now and you haven't complained once." Sneaky I know.

Now, if any of Cody's friends are reading this blog post (you know who you are), you better not let him in on the secret. I will know you did it :o)

Vegan Pasta Fagoli

2 TBL olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 large carrot, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 14 1/2 oz can diced tomatoes
1 quart vegetable broth
2 cans cannellini beans
1/2 cup small pasta (tubettini or ditalini)
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
salt & pepper
red pepper

Heat the oil in a large heavy pot. Cook the onion, carrot and celery until soft. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Pour in the broth, beans and chopped tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Remove a few scoops of the bean mixture and puree or mash. Return to the pot. * Add the pasta, parsley, and seasonings. Cook until the pasta is al dente. Serve in bowls topped with a drizzle of olive oil, some shaved Parmesan cheese and a sprinkling of chopped parsley.

*I use my immersion blender to thicken up the soup instead of taking the beans out and mashing them. It is quick and easy.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Is Time Passing You By?

Sitting in my office this afternoon I looked out my window at the tree in my front yard. My pumpkin colored wall framed the brilliant orange and red leaves. In the moment that I looked up, my breath was taken away. There was such beauty there with the deep orange and crimson colored leaves. Right here in the middle of the suburbs with the mini vans whizzing by.

The funny thing is that I am sure that tree has been that color for days now and in my rush to get everything done and to be everywhere I need to be, I never “saw” it. It got me thinking about all of the beauty that I’ve been missing as the days speed by in the life of the ever hectic mom.

How many days have gone by where I’ve missed the sparkle of the sun shining through my window for that brief moment in the middle of the day? When was the last time I really listened to the buzzing of the bees as they go about their busy work in my garden? I can’t remember the last time I took time out of my life to just go for a walk in the woods and breathe in the fresh air and admire the beauty of nature.

Then it really hit me. What else had I been missing? The greatest beauty of any mom’s day…the beauty of a child’s smile or their light hearted giggle? Have I truly taken time to savor all of those moments that occur spontaneously throughout the day? Do I give my children single pointed focus when they are speaking to me? Do I genuinely look at them; see them for who they are? How often do I savor my sweet boys, engulf myself in their scent and just be with them in the moment?

I have a 17 year old son who is graduating high school in January. As it seems every wise and “mature” parent will tell you, the time flies by. I can’t believe that he is a young man and no longer wants to cuddle and snuggle with me. I know I have had many beautiful moments with him and all of my boys and I want more. I don’t want to miss them.

As a mom of five boys I am acutely aware of how busy life can be and how much there is to get done in one day. I am deciding today to schedule in cuddle time, snuggle time and lovin’ time with my boys just as I do dentist appointments and grocery shopping. I am committing to practice giving my children my undivided attention. No more reading my email while they are talking to me or doing something else while they are trying to tell me a story.

I invite you to join me in this experiment to see how differently your days play out. I am willing to bet that not only will it bring you joy and happiness but it will affect your children in a powerful way. They will not only feel the love that you have for them but they will be learning how to be in the moment themselves.

As I sat here typing, my youngest son Aidan just came up to me and climbed into my lap. I immediately stopped what I was doing, wrapped my arms around him and began the automatic mommy rock. In that moment, I was overcome with the love that is always available for me but that I don’t always take the time to feel. It brought a tear to my eye. In about 60 seconds it was over. He jumped off and ran off to finish his homework. I looked up at that autumn tree and sent it a wave of gratitude for allowing me to see its beauty and the beauty that is all around me.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Green Monkey

"Is this green?" asks the 7 year old.
"It kinda looks yellow." replies the 9 year old.
"Nope, it's green. Look at it. It's green." insists the 7 year old.
"Yes it's The Green Monkey!" announces the oh so smart Mama!
"The Green what? I'm gonna try it." says the 7 year old... "This is AMAZING Liam! You HAVE to try it!"
A triumphant smile comes over the Mama's face. What a great way to start the day!

The Green Monkey arrived one morning when I was making the usual peanut butter and banana smoothie that my kids enjoy. I decided to add a bit of spinach to it and sneak some vitamins and minerals in. I started with just a need to freak 'em out too much. Once they were on board with the green color I added more and more and now it is a nice, rich green color.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

The Green Monkey
1 banana
1 Tbl natural peanut butter
1 Tbl ground flax seed
milk of choice (I use rice milk or almond milk)

Add everything into the blender and blend away. Add as much or as little milk to get the desired consistency. You can double it or triple it to feed more little ones (or big ones).

Friday, October 9, 2009

Breakfast When You're Not a Morning Person

I confess! I am not a morning person. I don't jump out of bed with a smile on my face and head off on my merry way. My mom is like always drove me crazy when I was a kid. Of course now that I am a mom, I am sure I seem that way to my children because I make a special point to be as happy and loving as I can as they awake. I want their day to start off great.

But the truth is, it takes me about 30 minutes and sometimes even an hour to get myself moving. Now this is not the best scenario for a mom of hungry boys! They want food! What's a mom to do?

Here are some things I do to make it a bit easier for me to give my kids healthy breakfasts while I am sleep walking:

1. Hard boiled eggs are my friend- Each Monday as I am unpacking my groceries I boil up a big pot of eggs. This way all I have to do is peel them and hand them out. Add a piece of fruit and they are good to go.

2. I cook more than I need- When I make oatmeal I make a double or even triple batch. I add my chopped fruit, dried fruit, nuts, and cinnamon while I am cooking it. It keeps in the refrigerator so all I have to do is heat it up, add some ground flax seed and viola, a warm and hearty breakfast. I do this with other warm cereals like brown rice cereal or quinoa flake cereal too.

3. I keep bananas in my freezer- I slice them up, throw them in a ziploc and freeze them. This makes it so easy to make smoothies in the morning. I don't have cut anything and I don't have to add ice. I just throw the stuff in the blender, flip the switch and breakfast is served.

4. I buy it ready to go- I used to only buy whole flax seeds and grind them to order everytime I used them. That got old so when I saw a bag of ground flax seed I decided to try it out. Now I know that it may lose some of its potency because it is pre-ground but I also know that it is better than no flax seed so I compromise.

5. I made granola in the crockpot- It was so easy to do and I have a big bag of it ready to go. It can be sprinkled over yogurt (I buy the coconut milk yogurt. It's dairy free), or sliced bananas. You can find the recipe for it here.

So there you go. Breakfast for the morning brain dead. What kinds of things do you eat for breakfast? If they're fast and easy, hook me up!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Ginger, Glorious Ginger!

The first time I tasted ginger I have to admit, it was a bit of an assault on my palate. It was too strong and I was not a fan. When a recipe asked for ginger I would add half the amount and it was always perfect for me. Over the years I have become less sensitive to it and now I enjoy it in many dishes.

Having a history of digestive issues, I have heard so many times that ginger is great to ease stomach discomfort but I could never bring myself to actually drink ginger tea. I even went so far as buying the tea but never actually made a cup. Until last night!

I was having a severe bout of heartburn. I was lying on the couch, propped up to try and ease the pain. It wasn't working. I decided that I was desperate so I headed into the kitchen and found my little ginger tea bag from Yogi Tea and brewed up a cup.

Oh the gloriousness of it! I felt my pain melt away as I took the first sip. I almost couldn't believe it! I continued to drink it and I felt amazing in no time. What an incredible find! Never mind that I've known about it for years and never tried it! OK, some of us are slower than others. Don't make the same mistake as I did. Don't be afraid! It wont hurt you and it may even help you.

So what's up with ginger you ask? Well let me tell you a little about it. Ginger is actually a rhizome that grows under the ground. The typical ginger found in the grocery store has a yellow flesh with a brown skin. It is used in Asian dishes and many fruit and veggie dishes.

As mentioned, it is well known for its ability to soothe the gastrointestinal tract. It promotes the elimination of gas and relaxes and soothes the intestinal tract. Scientific studies have proven ginger to be more effective than pharmaceuticals for motion sickness and the nausea and vomitting associated with morning sickness.

Ginger is high in antioxidants which help prevent cancer. It also contains substances that are anti-inflamatory which explains the relief people with arthritis get when they consume ginger regularly. It is also known for other amazing feats like protecting against colorectal cancer, inducing cell death in ovarian cancer cells, and boosting immunity. Wow, it's really a superfood!

It really is best to buy fresh ginger because it has the highest levels of all those good things like antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances. You can find it in the produce section of the grocery store year round. Look for ginger that is firm, smooth and free of mold. Young ginger has a thin skin that doesn't need to be peeled but is not as commonly found. Mature ginger has a thicker skin that needs to be peeled. Both can be stored in the refrigerator unpeeled for three weeks or up to six months in the freezer.

Ginger can be added to so many foods for a different little zip. Try making a ginger lemonade, or adding a bit to pureed sweet potatoes or squash. Making your own terriyaki sauce with fresh ginger is delicious and of course you can make some tea and soothe your tummy too! You might even want to try this recipe for ginger drink. It is a pretty strong drink so experiment with it. Add some fruit juice or some club soda for a delightful spritzer. You can even add a little to your favorite tea for an exciting drink that will warm you up.

So have fun with trying out some ginger in your kitchen. Let me know how it goes.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Gluten Free Zucchini Bread

Pamela's Tried & Tested Zucchini Bread
Yield: one 8 x4 loaf

The kids LOVED it!

2 cups Pamela's Ultimate Baking & Pancake Mix
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 cups grated zucchini, blossom end removed
2 tsp grated lemon zest (optional)
1/4 cup oil
2 eggs
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped (optional)

Whisk together Pamela's Ultimate Baking & Pancake Mix, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg.

In a separate bowl, beat together eggs, oil, and sugar for one minute on medium. Stir in vanilla.

Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients to form a batter. Fold in grated zucchini (along with optional lemon zest and chopped nuts)

NOTE: Baked zucchini loaf will be moist. You can lessen moisture by squeezing grated zucchini in paper towels to absorb some of the water before mixing into the batter.

Turn into greased loaf pan (8x4) and bake in a preheated 350° oven for 55 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let loaf cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing to cool on a wire rack.

Variation: For muffins, fill greased or paper-lined muffin tins 2/3 full and bake in 350° oven for 30 to 35 minutes.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Back to School- Recipe

Waking up this morning felt a little different. It was back to the hustle and bustle of school time. Everybody up and Adam...starting with Cody at 6am, then Devin at 6:30 and finally Liam and Aidan at 7:00. Getting dressed, backpacks, breakfast,'s back to the routine. There is always a bit of excitement and a bit of sadness to see them go.

There is something a little different about this year's back to school routine. This year my son Liam will be bringing dairy free and gluten free lunches to school with him. He has been having some problems with his immunity and because food sensitivities can really wreak havoc on the immune system I, along with my doctor, have decided that this is a good idea.

He has already been off of dairy for the summer so we've gotten used to life without ice cream and cheese. Now adding in the gluten has been a bit more of a challenge so we've had some starts and stops along the way but it is a learning process for the entire household.

Today I sent the kids off to school with leftover Asian noodles (Gluten free) with chicken, veggies, and a gluten free peanut sauce. I added some raw veggies, a piece of fruit, some toasted chipotle sesame seeds and gluten free zucchini bread I made at midnight last night. This is my second time making it and the kids love it!

I got the recipe off the website Pamela's Products. I picked up their gluten free baking mix at Whole Foods and this seemed like a good recipe to try. I am not lying when I tell you that you can not tell that there is no gluten in it. It is delicious! I think next time I will try making muffins to make it easier to send in the lunch.

Pamela's Tried & Tested Zucchini Bread
Yield: one 8 x4 loaf

2 cups Pamela's Ultimate Baking & Pancake Mix
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 cups grated zucchini, blossom end removed
2 tsp grated lemon zest (optional)
1/4 cup oil
2 eggs
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped (optional)

Whisk together Pamela's Ultimate Baking & Pancake Mix, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg.
In a separate bowl, beat together eggs, oil, and sugar for one minute on medium. Stir in vanilla.
Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients to form a batter. Fold in grated zucchini (along with optional lemon zest and chopped nuts)

NOTE: Baked zucchini loaf will be moist. You can lessen moisture by squeezing grated zucchini in paper towels to absorb some of the water before mixing into the batter.

Turn into greased loaf pan (8x4) and bake in a preheated 350° oven for 55 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let loaf cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing to cool on a wire rack.

Variation: For muffins, fill greased or paper-lined muffin tins 2/3 full and bake in 350° oven for 30 to 35 minutes.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Itsy Bitsy Yummy Pockets

I made these for the kids for breakfast today. I think it would be a great addition to the lunchbox as well or as an after school snack. I made some different variations and I personally loved the peanut butter and banana. Get creative and try them out and let me know what you think.

Mochi is a traditional Japanese food made from sweet rice. It is steamed and then pounded. When it bakes it puffs up. It is non-dairy and wheat-free. I purchased an organic brown rice product I found at Whole Foods. It came in a flat square and I cut it into 1" squares before baking.

Itsy Bitsy Blueberry Pocket
Blueberries & Honey
Natural Peanut Butter & Banana
Kiwi & Pineapple
Anything you like

Cut the mochi into 1" squares, place on a cookie sheet and bake at 450 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool for 1 minute.

Cut a slit into the mochi square and stuff with with your choice of ingredients. You can drizzle it with honey to finish it off.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Don't Like Broccoli? Try this!

I made this for dinner tonight and my husband, who literally gags on broccoli, ate it and said, "wow, that's not bad." I can't ask for anything more than that!

I got the recipe from Cat Cora's book Cooking from the Hip. I made the vegetarian version with the olive oil dressing option. I used agave instead of sugar. I was a little worried about the curry thinking it might be overwhelming but honestly it didn't even have a curry flavor so you might want to taste it and add a bit more if you like that sort of thing. Here is the recipe:

Curried Broccoli Salad
2 Tbl kosher salt (I used Celtic)
2 lbs broccoli florets (from about 3 bunches broccoli)
1 cup chopped, toasted pecans
1 cup raisins (you're supposed to use currants but I didn't have any)
1/2 cup hulled sunflower seeds
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
Fill a large pot of water and put it over high heat to boil. Fill a large bowl or your sink with ice and cold water.

When the water boils, add the salt and the broccoli. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the broccoli is bright green and still somewhat firm, barely tender enough to pierce with a knife. Use a long-handled strainer or tongs to transfer the broccoli to the ice-water bath. After 2 to 3 minutes, remove the broccoli from the ice water and place in a colander to drain. Line a bowl with paper towels, transfer the broccoli to the bowl, and set aside to drain.

Chop the broccoli coarsely. Place in a large serving bowl with the pecans, raisins, sunflower seeds, and red onion.

1/4 cup plus 2 Tbl rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 Tbl sugar (I used 1 Tbl agave)
2 tsp Madras curry powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

In a large bowl, mix the vinegar and the agave together until the sugar is dissolved. Whisk in the curry powder, the salt, and pepper to taste. Continue whisking and very slowly drizzle the olive oil into the vinegar mixture until all the oil is incorporated. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if desired, ten set the dressing aside and prepare the broccoli.

Pour the dressing evenly over the salad, tossing lightly to mix thoroughly. Chill for 1 to 2 hours before serving.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Nature's Sports Drink

I've always disliked the idea of giving my kids sports drinks with their artificial colors, flavors and God knows what else is in there. Sometimes when they are out playing baseball and football in the blazing sun, I feel like they need a bit more then water though.

I have known about coconut water for a while. When I was eating raw, I used to buy the young coconuts at my local market, chop the top off and add the water to my smoothies or drink it. The kids liked it too. The problem is that it isn't too practical to bring a coconut and big knife to the games so my kids could drink it.

Well, that problem is solved. They have started selling coconut water in single serving containers, like a juice box. There are several different brands and they even have some flavors like pineapple, acai, peach mango and more. I bought mine at Whole Foods and the kids really liked it. So do I.

So what is so great about coconut water? Well, first of all it is natural, it comes straight from the coconut. No high fructose corn syrup, no sugar, no colorings, flavorings, or chemicals. That alone is something you don't hear much about when it comes to sweet drinks.

Secondly, coconut water is amazing stuff. It is similar to plasma and in WWII it was given to soldiers intravenously when supplies of plasma were low. It has more electrolytes then the sports drinks that are out on the market and has 15 times more potassium. In fact it has more potassium than two bananas. Potassium is essential for the body's growth and heart function. It helps kidneys function normally and helps keep a normal water balance between the cells and body fluids among other things. It is high in vitamin C, low in sodium and even has a bit of fat to slow down the metabolism of sugar. It also contains lauric acid which is used to heal the digestive tract.

So instead of reaching for those neon colored, artificially flavored sports drinks, try a little box of nature's sports drink. Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Crabby Patties

The kids love Sponge Bob. They don't all love eating fish though. My 8 year old Liam loves fish and has been asking for it so I thought I would give these Salmon Patties a try. OK I know they aren't crabby patties but the kids got a kick out of the name so I figure it's close enough. My 7 year old Aidan said, "Are these really crabby patties?!" :o)

I got the recipe from Whole Foods but I instead of using salmon fillets I used canned wild salmon. Here is the recipe

Salmon Patties
3 Tbl olive oil
3 cans wild salmon (about 16 oz)
Salt & ground black pepper to taste
2 zucchini (about 1 pound), finely grated and squeezed firmly to remove excess water
1 tbl Organic Dijon Mustard
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup Plain Bread Crumbs
Lemon wedges

Break the salmon into small flakes in a bowl. Add zucchini, mustard, egg and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and toss gently to combine. Form salmon mixture into 16 (3-inch) patties, coating each lightly in breadcrumbs. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Cook half the patties, flipping once, until deep golden brown and cooked through, 6 to 7 minutes total. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and season with salt; repeat process with remaining patties. Serve salmon cakes hot, with lemon wedges on the side.

P.S. Out of 4 kids 1 loved, 1 liked, 1 thought it was OK, and 1 didn't like it at all. That's pretty normal around here!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Is it Wierd to Eat Soup in the Summer?

Normally I would say yes. It just doesn't seem right to dig into a steaming hot bowl of soup in the middle of summer. I like to save that for fall nights when I am bundled up in my sleeping bag watching my kids play soccer or football.

Wait, I know it is summer but I was sitting outside bundled up in my sleeping bag on TUESDAY watching my kids play baseball. It was freezing. I wasn't the only one out there with blankets in case you are wondering. It really was cold out.

So yesterday I had a hankering for some soup. I went to my favorite old stand by, Pasta Fagoli. I decided to change it up a bit by adding some escarole. It was delicious.

So if it is chilly where you live right now, give this soup a try. If not, save it for fall. Here is the recipe:

Pasta E Fagoli
2 TBL olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 large carrots, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 can chopped tomatoes
2 quarts chicken broth
2 cans cannellini beans
1/2 cup small pasta like tubettini or ditalini
1/2 bunch escarole
salt and pepper
parmesan cheese

  • Heat the oil in a large pot. Cook the onion, carrot and celery until soft. Add the garlic and cook another minute.
  • Pour in the broth, beans and chopped tomatoes and cook for five minutes.
  • Use an immersion blender to mash up some of the beans to thicken the soup. If you don't have an immersion blender you can remove a few scoops of the bean mixture and puree or mash.
  • Add the pasta and cook until al dente.
  • Add the escarole and salt and pepper. Turn off the heat. The escarole will wilt quickly.
  • Serve with parmesan cheese

Monday, July 6, 2009

Eating on the Run

So far my summer has been flying by quickly because of all the things we have going on. Keeping my family fed on the run has been a real challenge. Here are some quick tips that might help you out during your busy times.

Cook Once, Eat Twice

When we get our grill going we cook up loads of food. We double or sometimes even triple our chicken, fish, or other meat. We use the extras to throw in salads and wraps. We also make quesadillas, tacos, or fajitas with it. I also cook up a large pot of pasta or rice as a base for easy side dishes or light main dishes.

Cut Once, Eat Twice

Same goes for chopping. When I start cutting up veggies for dinner, I keep on cutting so I have extras to add into pasta dishes, salads, or those yummy fajitas. When it is easily accessible, it is more likely we will eat it.

Take Advantage of Mother Nature

There are so many quick and easy snacks that we can just grab and go. I make sure to stock up on a variety of fruits and veggies that don't need too much preparation. A quick wash and maybe a rough chop and we are out the door.

Be Ready For a Snack Attack

Having portion sized snacks read to go makes it easy to pack and run. I like to make up a trail mix and divide it up into serving sizes. I love adding Goji Berries and Inca Berries for a Superfood boost. I also bring along small containers of hummus to dip our veggies in. I love the garlic flavored hummus I get at Costco. Yum!

Got any fast and easy tips you would like to share?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Tea Mixology

Warm weather has finally hit the Chicagoland area and I am just thrilled. As the temperature goes up so does my thirst. For the most part I drink water, and lots of it. I do like to add some tea to my life for a little added interest and in the winter I like it warm but in the summer I like it iced.

The problem for me is that iced tea has caffeine and I am pretty sensitive to caffeine so I try to steer clear of it or limit myself to one glass otherwise I am bouncing off the walls. I was never a fan of herbal teas but I have been experimenting with different flavors and different brands trying to find ones I like.

For the warmer weather I enjoy the fruity tasting teas. They have a nice light flavor and a mild sweetness that makes me happy. I have recently been mixing flavors to add another dimension and it is so fun! I mixed the Raspberry Zinger with the Acai Mango Zinger for a wonderful tasting tea. I also made a batch with a couple of black tea bags to add another layer. Fun!

There are so many great brands and great flavors to explore. I love the Yogi brand teas. I find mine at my local Whole Foods. Another great brand of tea is Harney & Sons. Their teas have a rich, full bodied taste and there are lots of flavors to explore. I've only found their tea in a local restaurant and Midway Airport of all places but you can buy it online from their website.

So get out and enjoy the warm weather and be sure to bring along plenty of fresh water and some yummy iced herbal tea. Have fun with it and mix away. Go crazy, you never know what you will come up with. Be sure to let me know if you invent something delicious.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

You Can Have It!

Event: You Can Have it! Teleseminar
Location: On the phone in the comfort of your home
Date: Wednesday, June 10th
Start Time: 7:00pm CST
Press: Chicago Examiner Article

Are you walking through life unconsciously, feeling as if you aren't living the life of your dreams?

Do you feel like you don't know how to go about making changes because you don't even know what it is you truly want?

What would it feel like to get in touch with what it is you truly desire and then to see that vision realized?

Join me for this guided introspection that will help you uncover your deepest vision for your life and give you the momentum you need to see it through. This work is offered twice a year, once in January and once in June. Don't wait 6 months for another opportunity.

This free workshop is being offered as a teleseminar. Call in from a quiet location where you will not be disturbed. Have a paper and pen ready.

Phone Number 218.338.2626
Access Code: 239594

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

5 Minute Lunch

I was looking for a fast and easy salad I could make for lunch and I came up with this recipe. It was really delicious and I enjoyed every mouthful!

Spinach Raspberry Salad
Spinach Leaves
Canned Wild Salmon
Pecans, Chopped
Red Onions, sliced
Feta Cheese Crumbles

Dressing- I combined a pomegranate vinegar with olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh minced garlic. You could use a raspberry vinegar too.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Kiwi Love

Kiwi is a fantastic fruit to enjoy during the fresh days of spring. The vibrant green flesh practically screams spring. Kiwi is originally from China where it was known as the Chinese Gooseberry. It was introduced to New Zealand around 1906 where it picked up its current name. Today, California actually provides 95% of the US supply of kiwi.

What's So Good About a Kiwi?

They are loaded with Vitamin C and also offer folate, potassium, fiber, carotenoids, polyphenols, chlorophyll, glutathione, and pectin. They even contain Vitamin E which is usually found in nuts and oils. Another great thing about the kiwi is that it is low on the glycemic index.

How to Find the Perfect Kiwi

There are several different types of kiwi including gold kiwis, and baby kiwis. The most common variety is the Hayward which has the classic brown fuzzy skin covering the green flesh. When shopping for kiwis look for plump fruits that yield slightly to the touch. Avoid fruits that are shriveled, moldy or have soft spots.

If your kiwifruits aren't quite ripe yet, you can leave them at room temperature for a few days before eating. If you simply can't wait that long you can put them in a paper bag with an apple or a banana and that will speed up the ripening process.

Kiwi in the Kitchen

Believe it or not, you can eat the skin of a kiwi. Simply rub off the fuzz and dig it. Like most fruits and vegetables there are a lot of nutrients to be found in the skin. You can of course peel the kiwi as well. When I first started getting kiwis I used to dread having to peel them. It seemed to take so long and with 5 boys I had a lot of kiwis to peel. And the I found the secret to peeling a kiwi. It is so simple and it changed my life.
  1. Cut off both ends of the fruit
  2. Take a spoon and insert into the fruit along the edge of the skin with the curve following the natural curve of the spoon. The back of the spoon with be facing the outside of the fruit.
  3. Glide the spoon along the edge of the skin all the way around the fruit until the flesh is free from the skin.
  4. Pop out the flesh and enjoy.

How to Add Kiwis to Your Diet
  • Add some chopped kiwi to your salad
  • Throw into your smoothie.
  • Mix into a fruit salad
  • Use in a tuna or chicken salad in place of grapes
  • Add to salsa

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Grocery Shopping Just Got Easier!

Have you ever stood in the aisle looking at all the products, trying to decipher the ingredient lists and the nutritional information only to throw up your hands and grab the item with the prettiest package?

I know how you feel. Just recently I was at a new store looking for some whole grain bread. I had about four different loaves all lined up trying to figure out which one to buy. They all had different pluses and minuses and I found myself getting pretty frustrated. AND I'M A HEALTH COACH!

Luckily for us David Katz, a nationally recognized authority on nutrition has come to our rescue. He got together with a team of nutrition and medical experts from leading universities and health organizations to create an algorithm that scores food based on its nutritional value.

The scores will be found on the price tag that is posted on the shelf in the grocery store. It will be easy to use because items will have a score of 1 thru 100. The higher the number, the better choice it is.

The thing that makes this scoring system different is that it is independent. It has been funded by Griffin Hospital without any funding from manufacturers or anyone interested in promoting their product. It also takes 30 different nutrients and nutritional factors into account so it is giving a very accurate representation. Here is a list of some of them:

Vitamin A
Vitamin C
Vitamin D
Vitamin E
Vitamin B12
Vitamin B6
Omega-3 fatty acids
Total bioflavanoids
Total carotenoids
Saturated fat
Trans fat

Right now the scoring system can be found in Price Chopper stores on the east coast and Hy-vee stores in the Midwest. I heard that it was going to be in Mejier stores on Monday, April 27. I actually went into my local Meijer store to inquire about it and I was excited to find out that it is true, it will be available. I made sure to tell them how thrilled I was and that I would be sharing the information with everyone I knew.

I can't wait to go in and check out all the numbers and see where the different brands score. If you have a store that has the NuVal scoring system, I invite you to check it out. If not, you can make it known that you would love to see something like this in your local store. You can also go to the website and sign up to receive updates when new stores are available.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Spring Entertaining

I was recently invited to a wonderful evening with a group of fellow IIN students. We all got together at my friend Holly's house. She lives on the 58th floor overlooking Lake Michigan. Wow! It was breathtaking.

I wanted to bring a dish to share with everyone and I wanted to keep it healthy. So often the recipes for entertaining can be heavy on the fat, sodium, calories and processed foods. I am not opposed to that kind of thing occasionally but it seems like I am hosting or attending some kind of function every week so I have made it a priority to find things that will taste good without all the junk.

I found this recipe while watching Everyday Italian on the Food Network. I was a bit nervous about it because to be perfectly honest, I don't even like peas and that is the base of the recipe. I decided it was worth a shot so I made it. I am so glad to did. It was really good! It's quick, easy and healthy.

Sun-dried Tomato and Peas on Endive Spears
Prep Time: 10 min Level: Easy Yield: 4 to 6 servings

1 pound frozen peas, thawed
8 ounces sun-dried tomatoes, drained (about 3/4 cup)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 heads endive, ends trimmed and leaves separated

Combine the peas, sun-dried tomatoes, and garlic in a food processor. Pulse the machine until the peas and tomatoes are finely chopped. Add the olive oil and pulse until the olive oil is incorporated and the mixture is minced but not yet pureed. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the salt and pepper. Serve as a dip with the endive spears alongside

Michelle's Note:
I scooped the dip into the endive spears and assembled them onto a platter to serve them. It looked really nice.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Spring Has Sprung!

In my area of the country it is beginning to feel like spring. The weather has warmed up, the sun is out, the birds are chirping and people have begun to emerge from there hibernation in their modern day caves.

The amazing thing about spring is how almost instantly our desires for food change. After a long winter of heavy foods, more meat, and less activity we begin to want to clean out our system and lighten up with salads, fruits and vegetables.

While we have access to a plethora of produce from all over the world, people have begun to get back to their roots and buy local. That means we eat what is in season. The best way to do that is to hit your local farmers market. If you are looking for one in your area check out the Local Harvest website.

It may be a bit early in the season just yet but let's take a look at some of the fruits and vegetables that we are lucky enough to enjoy in the spring season.

Baby Lettuce Mixes
Broccoli Raab
Celeriac Root
Dandelion Greens
Fava Beans
Fiddlehead Ferns
Garden Peas
Green Onions
Mustard Greens
New Potatoes
Snow Peas
Sugar Snap Peas

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Kiss Your Diet Goodbye!

I was walking around the store today browsing in the book aisle. I couldn't help noticing the plethora of diet books that lined the shelves. I myself own some of them. I have tried several diets in my life. Not as many as some people I know but still enough to know that diets don't work.

Think back to your last "diet." I imagine it went something like this...

1. You realize that you put on a few pounds. Your clothes are getting tight or bathing suit season is quickly approaching and you are scared stiff!

2. You hear about the newest diet craze. Low fat, low carbs, cabbage soup, lemonade, whatever catches your eye. You decide that the time has come...BUT you will wait until Monday to start.

3. You research the diet du jour, plan your menu, make your shopping list, and when Monday comes you start with the plan. You are motivated. You are excited. You are going to look good in no time.

4. A few days go by, you have dropped a few pounds and you are loving it! OK, so the diet is a bit difficult. You're hungry or feeling deprived but who cares, you are losing weight! It is totally worth it.

5. After about a week, 2 weeks, or a month your enthusiasm is starting to wane. You get invited to a party and you are faced with a table full of delicious looking food that you have been avoiding like the plague. One little bite won't hurt. You deserve it after all. You've been so good. You've lost some weight so why not reward yourself with a little "treat."

6. You can't help but wonder what the heck happened. It's been about a week since your little reward and you've been eating out of control. Your diet plan has been trashed and you don't even care about it anymore. Life is too short. Food is enjoyable and why shouldn't you live life to the fullest and eat whatever you want right?

This scenario or ones similar are played out every day in this country. We have been brainwashed to believe that the next diet will be "the one" that will save us from ourselves. These authors know more about this then we do after all. And didn't our best friend Suzie have amazing results on diet xyz? It has to work for us.

I say ENOUGH! Enough of the deprivation! Enough with the crazy plans that inevitably throw our bodies out of balance! Enough with feeling like a failure because we can't live without bread! It's not working! Our obesity rates are at an all time high. It was Albert Einstein who said, "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results" and this couldn't be more true when it comes to the world of dieting.

Join me in kissing our diet days goodbye. Embrace food and enjoy it in its whole and natural form. Eat what feeds your body and also feeds your soul. You will be amazed at the difference this simple change can make.

Can't imagine how to do this? It's best to start where you are and make a change. Decide on one healthy food you can add to your repertoire and head off to the store to pick it up. Experiment with different ways to cook it and when you are feeling comfortable, try something new.

If the whole thing seems overwhelming, contact me today for a free health consultation. Spend an hour doing something good for yourself. You will have the opportunity to zero in on the changes that make sense for you and you will get really clear about your health and wellness goals. How often do you actually get an entire hour to focus on your health?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Roasting up Some Sweetness in Kitchen

This is a nice way to prepare veggies in the colder months. The slow roasting gives a rich, deep flavor and brings out the natural sweetness in the vegetables. It's a feel good food. It's so easy to do and while there is a long cooking time, you just pop it in the oven, set the timer and walk away. Now that is my kind of cooking.
I made a variation of this the other night for a side dish and it was really good. The kids liked it enough to actually eat it and my husband who HATES sweet potatoes actually ate them! I even chopped up a rutabaga and threw it in and no one was the wiser.
Veggie Bake

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 40 minutes
Yield: 4-8 servings

any leftover veggies that need to be used
1 large can chopped tomatoes
1 can chickpeas
3 or 4 large yams, thinly sliced
extra virgin olive oil

1. Chop veggies (except yams) and stir-fry in a bit of oil until soft.
2. Add can of tomatoes and drained can of chickpeas.
3. In a casserole or lasagna dish, layer yams then veggie mix (same as if you were making lasagna but use
potatoes as lasagna sheets and veggie mix instead of meat).
4. Finish with a layer of yams, lightly drizzle olive oil on top.
5. Bake for 1/2 hour at 300 degrees. Then take off cover, turn up temperature to 400 degrees for 10
minutes to crisp up the top layer.

Add your favorite herbs or spices, like basil, oregano, fennel, cumin, chili pepper, sea salt, etc., when adding tomatoes and peas for an extra kick. For a bit of added texture, add roasted sunflower seeds when adding tomatoes. Veggie Bake keeps great in the refrigerator for a few days.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Move Your Body

One of the things I am learning to love is exercise. I have not always had the greatest relationship with the many forms of exercise that are out there. Now that I am focusing on not only eating right but also in complete body care, I am searching for ways to get my exercise without feeling like I am torturing myself.

This weekend during class at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition I got a huge lesson on what it takes to get a good workout. We had a trainer come in and work with us for 15 minutes. We were standing up in front of our chairs and let me tell you there wasn't much room. We started jumping around, raising our knees, doing some punching, and getting our butts kicked with some squats.

Let me tell you, at the end of those 15 minutes everyone was sweating. It was so simple. There were only about 5-8 different moves and we just repeated them until the time was up. It doesn't get much easier then that does it?

Later, I was on the plane heading home and I ran across a reader's tip in the Body and Soul magazine. She had a history of struggling with establishing a workout routine. She never felt like she could fit it in. She decided to change her mindset and commit to doing just one minute of sit ups a day. Now on days that she struggles she only does the one minute but on other days she ends up doing 10, 15, or 30 minutes of exercise. Very interesting.

In one day I got my lesson twice. I don't need to go to the gym. I don't need to have the perfect workout DVD. I don't need to complicate my life. I only need to move my body. What a great lesson for all of us. Start small, commit to something, and get moving.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Not Just for the Birds

Since I have joined the Institute for Integrative Nutrition I have been experimenting with my diet. We are learning about over 100 different dietary theories and most importantly we are learning about bio-individuality. In a nutshell, bio-individuality means that there is no one perfect diet for everyone. One man's food is another man's poison.

The reality of it is that no one can tell me which foods are right for my body. I can read all kinds of things and learn different theories but in the end I need to learn to listen to my body and feed it what it needs.

Over the last week or so I have taken gluten out of my diet. I am staying away from wheat, oats, rye, and barley. I have actually not had much in the way of grains at all except a bit of brown rice here and there.
I am heading out to NY tomorrow and I started wondering what the heck I am going to eat for breakfast while I am there. I have been having a problem with eggs for a while now, can't have gluten grains, just eating fruit isn't enough to keep me going until lunch. Hmmmm, quite the quandary.

I bought a package of millet from the health food store and did a little research. I knew millet was a gluten free grain and that it was in the bird food I used to give my cockatoo but that was about it. What I found out is wonderful!

Millet is actually a seed that has been around for ages and has been used in countries all over the world such as China, India, Greece, Egypt and Africa. It is even mentioned in the Bible. Millet is easily digested and alkaline in the body. It provides serotonin to calm and soothe your moods and helps to hydrate your colon to keep you regular. It is full of nutrients that our bodies need such as magnesium, calcium, maganese, tryptophan, phosphorus, fiber, B vitamins, and antioxidants.

Sounds great right? But what do you do with it?

Millet is as easy to prepare as a pot of rice. It is a good idea to soak the grains over night to release phytic acid that can make it difficult to digest. Simply rinse the millet in a strainer and put into a bowl of water. Let it sit 8-24 hours. I put it out overnight.

Millet absorbs a lot of water so you will typically need 3 cups of water for 1 cup of millet. After soaking you may be able to reduce it to 2 or 2 1/2 cups of water. To cook it, boil the water, add the grains, cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes until all the water is absorbed and it has reached the desired texture. That's it!

Millet can be used in savory dishes like stuffing, soups, and pilafs or it can be sweet like a breakfast porridge or snack bars. I chose to make some millet fruit balls for that I can bring with me to NY. I followed a recipe that I got off the package of millet I purchased but I ended up changing it up quite a bit. They are very versatile so I wrote up a recipe that allows you the freedom to use whatever you like or whatever happens to be in your pantry.

Millet Fruit Balls

2 cups prepared millet
1 cup your choice of chopped nuts. (I used 1/2 cup walnuts and 1/2 cup pecans)
1 cup chopped dried fruit ( I used 1/4 cup apricots, 1/4 cup raisins, and 1/2 cup cranberries)
Grated orange rind from one orange
Agave to taste
Additional finely chopped nuts

Just put everything in a bowl except the additional finely chopped nuts. Stir it all up and then form it into bite sized balls. Roll the balls in the nuts and enjoy. You could use your food processor to mix it up too.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Oh the pain, the sinus pain!

My husband Ed picked up a little friend this week. It was an ugly little virus that hopped a ride home with him from the office. Throughout the week it worked its evil magic and has given him some annoying gifts. He has had chills, fatigue, congestion, cloudy thinking, sniffles and more.

Now Ed is what I call a sinus guy. I have a UR (upper respiratory)guy, and a stomach guy, but Ed is the sinus guy. Whenever he gets sick it ends up turning into sinusitis.

When I first met him he had the worst sinus problems. He was ALWAYS suffering with his yucky sinusitis! Over the years I have helped him by changing his diet. He was a hard core milk man. He loved his milk and drank a lot of it. He couldn't believe how much better he felt when he drastically cut back on the dairy. He was having less and less infections. Adding more fruits and veggies helped to boost him immune system too. Now he will usually only get sick once or twice in a year as opposed to once or twice each month. I am not kidding, he was sick all the time.

This week his suffering was lingering on a bit so I made a quick stop at the health food store and picked up some eucalyptus essential oil. I heated up a pot of water, added about 5 drops of the oil and had him put a towel over his head like a tent. He sat for 5 minutes breathing in the warm water with the oil. We refreshed the oil a few times by adding more. At the end of it he was covered in sweat but he felt so much better. He only did it once and he was amazed at the relief it brought him.

If you are a sinus sufferer or you have loved ones that may be in need of some help give that a try. Here are a few other things you can do to find relief:
  1. Drink a lot of water and hot herbal teas to thin the mucus and promote drainage.
  2. Eat chicken soup or vegetable soup. Yes, your grandma was right. There are actually studies that show that hot chicken soup promotes sinus drainage.
  3. Eliminate all milk and dairy.
  4. Make a drink of hot lemonade: Combine the juice of 2 freshly squeezed lemons with an equal amount of hot water. Sweeten with maple syrup or agave. You can also add 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper if you can tolerate it. Drink this three times a day.
  5. Look for foods that may be triggering chronic sinus problems: Dairy and wheat are the two most common offenders.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Taking a Breather

Tonight I headed of to my local Whole Foods for a talk on Balancing Hormones Naturally. He got up and introduced himself and immediately the women began asking questions. He answered a few of them and then smiled and said, "Before we get too far into our minds, let's all take a moment to close our eyes and take a deep breath." So, there we were in Whole Foods with our eyes closed, taking a moment for gratitude and slowing down the chatter in our mind.

So often we speed through life, scheduled to the limit. We have doctors appointments, dentist appointments, shopping, errands, cleaning, cooking, homework, chauffeuring our children to one event after the other, and on and on. Have you ever noticed how easy it is to load up our calendar with every to-do that there is to-do? And have you ever caught yourself in the midst of these high paced days taking a deep breath?

This is our natural response to stress. The body knows it needs to slow down. The body knows that it can't keep up this pace forever. The body know that the best way to release the stress it to slow down the breathing.

When we are in the midst of stressful situations our sympathetic nervous system is stimulated, causing a physical response. Our heart rate goes up, our muscles tense up and our breathing becomes fast and shallow. If we continue to go on in this way, over time we can find ourselves out of balance and physical symptoms can begin to show up.

Breathing is the only bodily function that we do both voluntarily and involuntarily. By choosing to slow down our breath we can stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system which creates relaxation and reverses the effects of the stimulated sympathetic nervous system.

Now look, there are certain ways you "should" breathe to create relaxation for the body and I will dive into that further in a future post but let's be real here. If your body instinctively takes a deep breath when needed, we don't have to worry about getting it right. For now, just try to take some time everyday to take a few breaths. Don't wait for your body to cry out to you. When you're driving in the car, breathe deep and let it out. When you're standing in line at the store, breathe deep and let it out. When your home making dinner, helping the kids with homework, answering the phone, planning who needs to go where and when, and...

just breathe deep and let it out.
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