The Best Meals Are the Ones We Create

2015-06-16 19.01.55

Mahi Mahi with Yogurt-Lemon-Dill sauce, baked potato (out of sweets) and asparagus

I have a deep love for a few things, most of those things belong in or around a kitchen and those things include cookbooks, proper pans and Polish pottery. Of all the kitchen gadgets and electrics, those three are on the top of my list of necessities that I would rather not live without. I remember way, way…okay one more way back when I was able to flip pages in a magazine sitting on the floor beside my grandmother’s magazine rack (I wonder where that went?) on Friday nights reading through recipes and food articles from Women’s Day, Family Circle and Better Homes and Gardens. If I had to skim my list down further, though I love cookbooks and have probably over one hundred of them, I can live without them. This is why…

I have discovered that the best meals I make come from pure love of fresh, whole food cooking. Throw me in a kitchen and let me use whatever is available and I can likely throw a good, healthy meal together – given that the chosen kitchen doesn’t stock processed foods; in that case I could prepare a pretty strong chemical $#!t storm as they say.

When you view food as fuel for your body and a meaningful centerpiece for social gatherings you can thoroughly enjoy just enough food and no overeating because good quality food is so very satisfying.

Stock your refrigerator, freezer and pantry with healthy choices and build your meal upon what you feel like tasting each day. Keep colorful vegetables, assorted lean meats & fish, true whole grains (quinoa, barley, farro, bulgur, oat, etc.), beans of all kinds, spices and herbs, root vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes and yams, carrots, ginger, onions and garlic stocked up.

Decide on your protein for the meal, add your veggie and your root veg or whole grain. It’s perfectly well to eat a meal of just vegetables, beans and whole grains a few days a week too.

Don’t stress over meals, keep it simple and healthy. You’ll find that cooking can be fast and easy as well as deliciously satisfying.

Veggie Enchiladas

June '15 Veggie Enchiladas1 cup quinoa, cooked

1 15-oz can black beans or black eyed peas, rinsed & drained

3-4 handfuls torn kale or baby spinach washed and dried

1 cup salsa – your choice of mild, medium or hot (I used my own home canned salsa)

1/2 cup or more extra salsa to top enchiladas before baking

1 small onion, chopped

1 small  bell pepper, diced

1/2 cup (plus more to top) shredded cheese, cheddar, Monterey jack, or other

8 flour or corn tortillas (can use gluten free)

Combine first 8 ingredients in a bowl. Fill each tortilla with about 1/3 cup of filling and roll up tucking sides in halfway and lay in a 9 x 13″ baking dish seam side down. Spoon extra salsa over top and sprinkle with extra cheese. Bake in over at 350° for 20-30 minutes. Enjoy!

“I want to eat a loaf of bread but I won’t”

2015-05-13 Mood FoodI want to eat a loaf of bread, it’s sweet and soft and comforting but it goes against everything I believe in and everything I teach my clients so I settle for a healthy snack of veggie sticks with freshly ground pepper and raw, unsalted nuts. I eat them slowly and chew them carefully; mindful snacking.

Your mood affects the food you eat, but the food also affects your mood so I choose the better of choices. I’m not in a bad mood, maybe a little bit sad or rather misplaced and defeated…but only for a moment. I deal with it by writing about it in my journal, I’ll get it off my chest for now and keep it off my “belly.button.thighs” for always.

Simple Chicken Bake

I kept seeing a picture of chicken with potatoes and a veggie all cooked in the same baking dish so I decided to give it a try. This meal was one of the simplest meals to put together and the taste was deliciously comforting. I didn’t follow a recipe if there is one along with the photos floating around social media, I just added what I thought would taste good to me.

Here’s what I did, how it looked and how it came out…

I used 3 organic boneless chicken breasts

1 small bag of tiny red potatoes-scrubbed

3-4 servings of my own garden grown string beans that I sealed with a food saver and froze-they were so tasty-fresh

half bag of grated carrots – it added a nice natural sweetness

A couple of Tablespoons of a spice mixture for chicken

Drizzle of olive oil

Line the chicken on one edge of a 9×13″ baking pan – line the potatoes beside the chicken and then line the string beans or whatever vegetable you chose. Drizzle the olive oil over all of the ingredients then sprinkle with your chosen spice mixture.

Bake at 350°2015-04-29 18.10.57

Mind & Spirit Health Break

2015-04-15 12.13.18A healthy mind and spirit is important and it’s a good habit to take a little time out of each day for just that.

Today, while there is still a touch of snow melting away after a record snowy winter here in New England, it felt nourishing to get outside into the sunshine for a short while. Off came my shoes as I plunged my feet onto the recently uncovered earth and dead grass – dead but soft and springy earth. It’s a healing kind of energy to feel the earth under your feet and/or on your hands.

My plan is to take 10-15 minutes each day to let go, breathe slowly and deeply and exhale negativity out and rejuvenation in. Why don’t you give it a try too?! Just a few minutes of sunshine, outdoor air and peacefulness can make a world of difference in your day.

Get outside, rain or shine and detox the negative energy out of your body, mind & spirit!

The earth is warm and toes need polish!

The earth is warm and toes need polish!

Yellowfin Tuna, Quinoa and Rainbow Chard

2015-03-24 18.37.38My desire to eat simply has persuaded me to spring clean the freezer by using the food that is stocked in it. While digging through it recently, I found some yellowfin tuna that I had bought a chunk of, cut into steaks and froze, so I took them out to defrost. I did a quick internet search for an easy recipe on seasoning the steaks and found a delicious one on which I will share with you.

I like fish, some types anyways, and knowing that fish is healthy for it’s omega 3 fatty acids which is healthy for our hearts and cholesterol levels, I try to eat it at least once a week. A positive thing that happens when I make fish is the fact that the whole meal ends up being very healthy and low fat; it must be a subliminal message – but I’ll take it!

This recent meal included the yellowfin with the recipe from, a quinoa with some mild herbs and *steam-boiled rainbow chard – (* boiling and draining the water from chard helps get rid of some of the oxalates which can cause kidney stones) I sprinkled a little lemon juice on the Swiss chard and on the quinoa since the yellowfin marinade had plenty of salt in it. The tuna was clearly the star of the plate.

Here’s the Grilled Yellowfin Tuna Recipe. Due to cold temperatures outdoors causing the grill to fluctuate in heat, I chose to cook the fish in a pan indoors and the results were still amazingly delicious.

Try this recipe out next time you plan to cook meaty fish steaks; I’m sure it would work nicely with swordfish, salmon and Ahi tuna as well as yellowfin.

Bon Appetit!

2015-03-24 18.32.00

Belly Fat, Why?

2015-03-20 16.28.32Everywhere you look on the internet and through magazines you’re sure to come across an article on how to lose belly fat. As you read through these articles you learn of ways to banish the fat through foods and exercise and exercise and more exercise! Sure some articles will touch on why we get belly fat but it often only scratches the surface; this led me to sharing what I’ve learned about belly fat through scouring the internet and my many books.

What does belly fat actually do to our belly? Well, belly fat doesn’t just sit behind your belt, it also surrounds your organs which leaves them less room to hang out in – sort of constricting them; belly fat also cogs some of the organs such as the liver, the kidneys and the bowls.

Of course one of the biggest culprits of belly fat is sugar. Sugar is one of the most over-consumed products as well as unhealthy fats such as vegetable shortening, fatty meats and wheat products, both bleached and unbleached alike. But these things don’t stand alone in credit for belly fat.

Other factors that lead to belly fat are as follows – the focus is on the why here more than the how to get rid of it. When you know why, you can easily figure out the how.

1 Age – as we get older out metabolism slows, you’ve probably heard this many times over, but it’s true even if you’re an active person; for women there’s the added bonus of menopause and peri-menopause. These slow down the production of estrogen and progesterone and testosterone levels also begin to drop.

2Processed foods – as mentioned before, sugars, bad fats and added to that, chemicals, there are many food chemicals in many processed foods; one great example is artificial sweeteners, they are all chemical and more harmful than table sugar. Opt for natural sweeteners and better yet, kick the habit, learn how to cut back.

3Bad fats – saturated fats as in meat, dairy and processed vegetable oils (shortening)

4Not enough good fats nuts, avocado, seeds, olives and olive oil, fish and fish oil. These help burn fat cells and metabolize food.

5Poor workout indoors or outdoors – having a low activity level on a regular basis decreases your fat burning efforts – try to get 1.5-2 hours of a high intensity workout weekly; that’s only about 30-minutes a day for 5-6 days a week. Choose something you enjoy doing and build your activities from there.

6 Stress – the hormone cortisol increases the amount of fat your body holds on to and it may enlarge your fat cells. Find ways to relieve stress, try exercise, meditation, therapy, time out for yourself.

7 Poor Sleep – If you get 5 hours or less, you’re likely to have more belly fat, try to get at least 7 hours per night. There are ways to help you sleep, ask me.

8 Genetics – Yup, it’s true, it does matter, it makes it harder to lose/keep belly fat off but it’s not impossible.

9 Illness – there may be an underlying cause for your difficulty in losing belly fat, seeing your doctor on a regular basis is important for you to be sure you’re at your optimal health.

10Motivation – you may simply be unmotivated, it’s common, but there are ways to get motivated; you can join a group with like-minded people, friends, & family online, in-person or you can join a gym or an outdoor adventure group, and you can gain motivation through working with a health coach. You’re welcome to reach out to me since this is work I do.

Belly fat is no fun, it’s easy to gain and hard to lose for most, but it’s not impossible. See where you can make changes and try to encourage yourself and incorporate small changes at a time so that you will be able to stick with it. Get support again through a health coach, a therapist, a trainer, friends and groups.

Never give up on yourself!

Sugar in Potatoes – Did you know?

2015-03-18 10.34.17For a good part of the winter I haven’t eaten or made many potatoes aside from the potato used to top Shepherd’s Pie and even at that, I’ve used the healthier “mashed cauliflower” many times in place of potatoes. For the past two weeks I’ve used potatoes in a few dishes since I’ve been sort of craving them; I assume the craving is due to low B-vitamins and potassium or other vitamins & minerals that my body needs. Using different varieties recently brought curiosity as to which potato has less starch and sugars so I decided to look it up. What I found urges me to share it with you so here we are!

There are to many varieties of potatoes to list here but I’ll highlight the most common potatoes. You probably know that some potatoes are great for baking and some are not and others are great for boiling or roasting while the baking potato is not. Well, it turns out that:

  • Russet – medium-large – baking, mashing, roasting, frying – have a medium sugar content = medium carbohydrate
  • White – small-medium usually – mashing, boiling, roasting, frying, salad – low sugar content = low carbohydrate
  • Red/aka “new potatoes” – small-medium also – mashing, boiling, roasting, grilling, salad – medium sugar content = medium carbohydrate content
  • Yellow/as in Yukon Gold – roasting, mashing, grilling, frying, salad – medium sugar content = medium carbohydrate
  • Blue/purple – small – roasting, boiling, baking, grilling, salad – low sugar content = low carbohydrate
  • Fingerlings – tiny-small – roasting, baking, boiling, grilling, salad – low-medium sugar content = low-medium carbohydrate
  • Petite – small, colorful – boiling, salads, roasting – low sugar content = low carbohydrate

Other useful information:

When potatoes are stored in warmer temperatures, above 45°f, the starches begin to turn to sugar.

They are a decent source of fiber, especially sweet potatoes which also have a higher sugar content.

You can reduce the starch by soaking cut potatoes in cold water and changing the water a few times. This will only work with cut chunks of potatoes as there is more surface area. Discard the water and dry the potatoes before roasting, grilling or frying.

Potatoes, in their natural state, are naturally low in sodium; to keep the sodium low, eliminate or use very sparingly added table salt.

I hope this has helped you in some way. If you’re watching your sugar intake, choose the potatoes with the lower sugar content and if you’re going to boil, roast or grill them use the pre-soak method to help reduce the starches. When shopping just think, thin skin, thin sugar…maybe that will help?!

It began with a single candle…

2015-03-17 13.26.54As I was getting ready to sit at my desk to do some work, I decided to light a sage scented candle to add to the scent of slightly warming air coming in through the open window. I lit the candle, carried it to the fireplace hearth to place it down but I decided to first clean out the wood stove insert, that led to ash dust flying and dropping in front of the hearth which led to dusting the furniture right into the dining room which is open to the living room..then onto the kitchen. I then pulled out the quick vacuum and gave the three rooms plus the office a quick sweep.

As I returned to the fireplace to wash the little window in the wood stove, I realized that my bigger accomplishment started with that single candle.

All accomplishments, big or small, begin with that first step, that first action. If your plan is to lose weight, eat healthier, exercise more, slow down, quit smoking, quit sugar, drink more water and less soda; whatever it is, it begins with that first action. One step forward brings you closer to big achievements even when you’re not sure what the first step should be.

Take that first action step, do it for you!

Eat Lean – Spring Clean!

?????????????????????I’m not sure if you feel the same way but for me, when we are smack-dab in the middle of winter, I find myself eating more bread & pasta, and thick creamy, saucy type meals. I feel that it warms me up and keeps me filled. I also feel that it makes me want to snuggle down with a warm throw and a dog or two – the the pups, well, they don’t mind a bit.

After a few months of switching from hearty and warming to clean and lean, I feel like I’ve been on a food roller coaster where I feel awkward and craving balance.

Enter Spring! We’re four days away from kissing winter goodbye for a while. Spring is a nice time to clean out the goop and reinvent yourself and your eating plan. Lately I’ve been craving leafy greens and other vegetables, eggs, chicken and berries. All of these items are part spring fare. I also crave bread, especially the crusty kind with big air bubbles baked into them but that’s a weakness of mine that I have to constantly keep in check! I give in to my healthy food cravings because I trust my body and what it needs.

It’s interesting that your body knows what it needs to keep it running like a well oiled machine – especially when you are in the habit of feeding it healthy foods. On the flip side, because your body will crave what you feed it most, it will crave junk foods, fast foods and sweet unhealthy drinks too. Make a change today, make a choice to treat your body with love, care and respect. Feed it well, exercise it well and it will treat you well for many happy years.

What foods do you find your body asking for and do you give in to it?