Start Your Gardens

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This is going to be the year!  I am determined to grow more of my own vegetables.  Every year we give growing plants a good try and we get a few things.  But to be perfectly honest, we wind up with mostly a garden full of rotting diseased tomatoes and bug-infested collard greens.   The problem is that I haven’t made the time or effort to properly care for my plants.  That is going to change and I am off to a good start so far…

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Forest Bathing

0407151646~2Do you spend enough time in nature?

I find it ironic that I can go for an hour walk in the woods and not come across a human soul, but I can drive by a Dunkin Donuts and see a line of cars wrapped around the building.

Sometimes on a gorgeous weekend day we will drive south and stop at random parks and beaches to walk and be outside.  Usually we don’t see too many other like-minded explorers.  But head to a mall or most any store and voilà– masses of humans.

It never ceases to blow my mind.   It’s pretty nice to have these nature walks to myself but it’s also kind of sad.

 

It seems that almost everyone I meet is overwhelmed with work/home/family responsibilities to the point where feeling stressed-out dominates feelings of peace and happiness.

Instinctively I think we all know it isn’t healthy to live that way.

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Making Beef Stew + A Saturated Fat Ramble

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It’s almost my 1 year anniversary as an ex-vegan.  My first bite of meat was homemade beef stew and it was amazing.  I could feel the nourishment immediately and my conclusion still stands that I feel better eating meat.  Over the past year we’ve made this beef stew a few times, especially in the cold months.  It’s become one of my favorite meals.  There was a time when I would have cringed at the thought of eating *gasp* “red” meat with all its “artery-clogging saturated fat.”  :)  I’ve since changed my perspective on this.

“Artery-clogging saturated fat”– funny how saturated fat always seems to be found in that phrase.  That is just one more tidbit unfortunately ingrained into newly forming dietitian brains in school that turned out to be highly questionable.  Sure, animal products are a source of saturated fat, however it’s not usually mentioned that the majority of the fat found in beef and pork is actually mostly monounsaturated (even in chicken skin!)  That’s right; the same “heart-healthy monounsaturated fat” famously found in olive oil.   Another thing many people don’t understand is that fats found in food are made up of a blend of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and saturated fat– but are typically labeled simply as one or the other based on the dominant type.  So, there is actually saturated fat in your precious olive oil just as there is monounsaturated fat in your “unhealthy” butter.  It’s just one more thing that nutrition science has oversimplified but which ended up confusing people even more.

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Greenpeace Ranks 14 Brands of Tuna

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Do you ever think about how your tuna was caught when you purchase cans of tuna fish  in the grocery store?  We’ve all heard about the dolphin by-catch issue and now many tuna companies boast “dolphin-safe”– and while that is a good thing, is there more to the tuna catching story?  I used to buy whatever was cheapest, having no clue about the horrifying impact the tuna fishing industry has on our oceans.  If you care… (and how can you not care?) read on because which tuna you choose to buy really does matter.

Recently Greenpeace ranked 14 brands of tuna fish according to how sustainable, ethical and fair their tuna products are for our oceans.  Dolphin safe is now on most cans of tuna, however that does NOT mean ocean safe.  By-catch like turtles, seabirds, sharks and other marine life are often killed and discarded by irresponsible tuna fishing companies.

 

Top Ranked Tuna:

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I was so happy to see that the brand I’ve been buying was ranked #1 : Wild Planet– I’ve seen this both at Whole Foods and BJ’s.   Wild Planet utilizes fishing practices that minimally impact other marine life.  They do not source tuna from proposed high seas ocean sanctuaries of the Western and Central Pacific.  These havens are meant to be free from fishing to replenish marine ecosystems.

Following Wild Planet were American Tuna, Ocean Naturals and Whole Foods.

At the bottom of the ranking you will find the more popular brands:  Walmart, Chicken of the Sea, Bumble Bee, Kroger and finally Starkist.  According to Greenpeace, Starkist sources from destructive fisheries that kill tons of marine life as by-catch.  Many of the lower ranked companies don’t disclose where they catch their tuna, their catching method or type of tuna.  This is basic information that should be available if there were nothing to hide.  Take a look at how your brand of tuna made out and consider switching to a more sustainable choice.  Vote for what you believe in with your food dollars.  Visit the Greenpeace webpage on Tuna Shopping and click on each brand of tuna to learn more specific details.

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3 Winter Activities to Move Your Body and Soul

0222151450How is this winter going for you?  If you are anything like me, February is the toughest month to get though.  Instead of making a warm weather get away this year we decided to get the bathroom redone.  Looking out my window at the grayness and piles of snow while cringing from the shrill screeches of power tools down the hall I can’t help but wish we had done both.  And preferably at the exact same time.  But I am not here to complain about anything.  I am here to say that I have found a few outlets that have made my winter blues somewhat more bearable and you just may want to try them too.

I’ve been moving a lot less this winter, as are most of you from what you tell me.  It drags me down when I slack off too much like this.  We all know we feel better when we move! We can blame the weather and lack of motivation all we want for not staying active but those are only excuses.

I am a huge believer in the magical powers of exercising the body and hopefully you are in agreement.  And by exercise I don’t mean  in the sense that most people think of it– a way to torture yourself for the purpose of weight loss.  If that is how you see exercise then you are most certainly doing it wrong.  I am referring to exercise as in moving your body in a way that makes you feel good– both physically and emotionally.

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Exercise nourishes our bodies and souls in much the same ways that good food does.

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Listening to Your Body (Intuitive Eating)

cathyHave you ever forced yourself to eat something because it was part of your “meal plan” or because you thought it was healthy or low in calories or fat?

What happens?  You don’t feel satisfied and you sense something is missing.  You don’t feel nourished.

 

That isn’t how food is supposed to make you feel.  When you rely on external information (only 20 calories per serving!  cholesterol free!) rather than internal cues, you aren’t living in harmony with food.  What if you listened to what your body really wants …and actually honored those needs?  Your life would change.  You would free up a lot of wasted energy and be at peace with food.  You CAN get back in balance…

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I LOVE a Healthier Pizza

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Aside from the occasional frozen vegan pizza (not recommended) I haven’t had pizza in longer than I can remember.  All that wheat in the crust, even if I found the whole wheat dough or made my own from whole wheat flour, just didn’t feel good for my body so I stopped eating pizza years ago.  Then the cauliflower pizza crust craze came along shortly after cauliflower’s fame for lower-carb mashed potatoes (is there anything cauliflower can’t do?).  But I was dairy and egg free and those pizza crust recipes called for cheese and egg.

The idea to make this pizza came about because I have been working with a client who is trying to get her blood sugars down and lose some weight but she is really struggling with giving up her homemade pizza.  She left our last meeting armed with a cauliflower crust recipe and my promise to make it for myself as well.  After all, if I am going to be suggesting healthier versions of recipes I really ought to test them out firsthand.

Looking online, you’ll see many versions of cauliflower pizza crust recipes.  I went with one from The Detoxinista because I liked the ingredients she used and I have had really good luck with several of her recipes.

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Bored with your Food? Try Skate Wings

On long-ago Sunday mornings, the best part of the paper was the grocery coupon insert where anything and everything new to the stores could be found.  These food-like products sounded so good and I would get so excited by a new flavor of cereal, cookie, chip or ice cream, all of which were nothing but basically reformulations of refined sugars, oils and grains.  My groceries unfortunately consisted mainly of those types of things rather than fresh, whole foods.  It’s crystal clear now why I didn’t feel well most of the time.   Now I just get furious when I see those awful coupons or walk past all that junk food in the store.  I now know what good foods are out there, what makes me feel best and that’s what I buy.  Skipping the processed foods and keeping it real makes life easier, happier and healthier.

However, once in a while I come across new foods that revive that old excitement.  And I’m not talking about that display of bags of rancid oil, artificial flavorings and salt coated spuds which– and I’m not kidding– was Lay’s Cappuccino flavored potato chips.  Although there was a time when I would have felt very tempted to try them (particularly if there was a coupon involved).

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Flourless Brownies with Cocoa Icing

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Forget running out for bread and milk.  If you are going to be snowed in for a day or two, make sure you have the essentials like cocoa powder and coconut oil around.  Stay home, keep yourself warm and cozy and make these thick, fudgy, chocolatey-rich brownie squares.  Be sure to make the thin maple-sweetened chocolatey top layer– I found this to be the secret between a so-so brownie and a delectable brownie.  And life is far too short for so-so brownies.

These delicious brownies are free of many things I know you are trying to avoid:  No refined sugars, no refined grains (actually, no grains at all), no highly processed vegetable oils and almost equally as important…. no fuss.  These are super easy to make.

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Make Yourself Earn That TV Show

Are you stuck in a middle-of-winter slump?  Enough is enough.  Forget about all your excuses for not exercising.  It is time to get your booty in gear… read on!

I have noticed a common theme among my nutrition clients the past few weeks.  The holiday season is over.  What I’m hearing is that  you are feeling bad that you got off-track by eating too much, didn’t have time for your daily walks and possibly put on a few pounds.  You are trying to get back to establishing healthy habits– but it is hard.  The cookies and parties are gone which makes things a little easier, however what really tends to be a struggle in winter is physical activity.

January is a tough month for many people, myself included.  I’ll tie February in there too.  The weather being the key reason…  It’s dark.  It’s cold.  Some days it has been brutally frigid.  Nobody wants to go outside when it’s like this and the couch and TV are so much more inviting.  With TV usually comes snacking.  Now what you’ve got is the dreadful combination of taking in extra unnecessary calories paired with expending very little energy.  We all know what this means– usually weight gain and feeling generally crappy about yourself.  It’s the winter blahs and the best way to beat it is to boost your activity!

Now I am generally not a big fan of television.  But I will confess that I have found myself watching it far more often lately with these dark, cold evenings.   Just the right amount of the right shows and it can be good for relaxing and unwinding.   And  when you learn something or laugh, even better.  Watch too much and the wrong things, which by the way, is what is mostly on, and you wind up feeling like a fat slug.  But you know what makes some good TV okay and what will make you feel like less of a slug?  Answer= Accomplishing some sort of physical activity before you sink down on that couch.

What I am proposing is something that works for me– Make yourself EARN that TV time tonight.   You’ve got lots of options.  Here we go:    Bundle up and briskly walk around your neighborhood for a half hour after dinner.  Drive out to the gym to swim, use weights, whatever it is you like to do if you’re a gym-lover.  Go to a rock climbing gym.  Take a yoga class or do a yoga video at home.  Play indoor tennis or racquetball.  Go roller skating. (FYI– I did this for the first time in a very long time the other night and it was insanely fun.)  Use your body to do something physical for at least 30 minutes.  Or 20.  Or 15.  Or even 10.  The point is to take action.  You can work on building up the time later.  The toughest part is  getting started; adding minutes is a piece of cake.  Just do something.  Your reward is relaxing in front of your cozy TV for your favorite show or a movie.  You earned it!  You’re guilt-free and won’t feel like a slug.  :)

Not only will you feel great for accomplishing something healthy, you are less likely to ruin that feeling by delving into ice cream or ripping open a bag of potato chips.  Tip:  Don’t keep that stuff in the house!  Instead,  fix yourself a mug of hot herbal tea or if it’s been a few hours since dinner and you truly are hungry, choose something to eat that will actually contribute to good health and not take it away.  Hint:  Fresh fruit or a handful of raw nuts is always good.  Sometimes I have a hard-boiled egg with dijon mustard.  An apple with almond butter is another favorite.  Be mindful of your TV snacking.  Remember, you are going to sleep soon and you only need something small to take the edge off any uncomfortable feelings of hunger so you can fall asleep.

The reality is, this weather isn’t exactly beckoning most of us to go out– so you’ve got to make it a priority.  You have to make it a conscious decision.  Even I struggle with this.  What helps is reminding myself that once I am out there moving, I know I will quickly warm up and I will feel GOOD.  And I always feel even better when I am done.  You know you get that feeling too– you just need to remind yourself of it and get out there and do it.

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“If you went running when you first started thinking about it, you’d be back by now.” -Nike

 

 

Ahh, so true, so true.  Starting today, get out and earn your television watching tonight.

 

 

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