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 AllRecipes.com 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 AllRecipes.com, 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!

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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?

Pumpkin-Avocado-Caramelized Onion Pizza

Food is seen as so many things depending on our mood or our social activity. If we’re depressed we eat foods that comfort us whether healthy or not, when we’re happy we often eat fatty food, when angry, crunchy simple carbs will do thank you…and so on.

After having a rather large lunch while out with family yesterday, I didn’t want a big or heavy dinner nor did I feel like cooking, but I did. I ruffled through the pantry and refrigerator and found a few items to create a thin crust, fairly healthy pizza. So off to work, very little work, I went and the result was extremely satisfying and delicious so I want to share it with you in hopes that it will inspire you to create with wild abandon.

Pumpkin-Avocado-Caramelized Onion Pizza                                           Avocado Pizza

I used a pre-made thin crust that I had in the freezer

Leftover pumpkin from roasting one last week

1 avocado, peeled, sliced, chunks

1 lg. onion, sliced and sauteed in 1/4 cup white wine

tomato paste

olive oil

mozzarella cheese – I used shredded

Spread tomato paste thinly over crust, spread pumpkin over that, later with caramelized onion, sprinkle avocado over top, lightly drizzle olive oil over all then top with a small amount of mozzarella cheese…don’t over-do it.

Bake at 450° for about 10 minutes and enjoy!

You could use flour tortillas for single serving pizzas, everyone can create their own.

Ditch the Excuses

Excuses, everyone makes them and we often make an excuse for something every day.Why do we do it and what doesn it truly mean? First let’s see what the word/action means:

Excuse:  verb 1. attempt to lessen the blame attaching to (a fault or offense); seek to defend or justify

2. a reason or explanation put forward to defend or justify a fault or offense.

We usually make excuses for our own actions more than we do for others’ actions. We most often make excuses for our personal behavior in relation to eating healthy or not exercising and sometimes for our actions or in-actions at work. We find ourselves overwhelmed and too busy to actually follow through with our intentions and goals. You know what I’m talking about, even the most disciplined of folks have moments of so-called weakness. This doesn’t mean we are weak or that we are bad people, it means we are over-loaded with responsibility, it means we aren’t completely happy at the moment, it means we’re hurting inside, and it means a whole lot of other emotional burn-out might be going on.

It’s important to find balance and peacefulness in your life even if you have to schedule it in. Yup, add yourself to your calendar at least once a week; that’s a good start! If you choose a full day or just fifteen minutes, make it yours. Maybe you find yourself eating healthy all day but snacking on unhealthy choices at night; if this is the case, use your time to prepare healthy snacks for that nighttime habit, i.e. make carrot and celery sticks for the whole week in just one day so they’ll be handy to grab. Maybe you’ve fallen out of your exercise/yoga routine; use that fifteen minute appointment with yourself to either get moving or meditate to bring yourself back to your center.

Just as you excuse yourself from being held accountable or reward yourself with unhealthy food choices, support yourself the way you support friends and family members on a daily basis.

Start changing your behaviors this weekend as we move the clocks ahead; use this time to move yourself ahead as well. Post reminders of your intentions and repeat your own personal mantra so that you can begin following through and ditch the excuses.

BBQ Tempeh, Grilled Cauliflower & Quinoa

Tonight, I pulled the wool over my BF’s eyes…well, not quite as he’s not easy to disappoint when it comes to food. I joke sometimes that I should open a can of puppy food and serve it as a spread as he wouldn’t know the difference; he gets nervous because he wouldn’t know the difference! But honestly, I would never do that.

I’ve been feeling heavy and over-stuffed lately so I’ve been eating light and pretty clean all week. I decided for dinner that I would use tempeh instead of meat. I searched a few ideas for tempeh and decided for now, I’d keep it simple. I chose an organic BBQ sauce that I have to make BBQ tempeh. The results were delicious, my BF loved it but couldn’t place the flavor nor texture; tempeh is firm, almost nutty and chewy; a satisfying mouth feel. For sides I cut cauliflower into slices and grilled them up with a pinch of pink salt and olive oil, and I made a simple side of quinoa.

You can substitute honey and butter or ghee – or maple syrup for the BBQ sauce with the tempeh.

Directions: Slice tempeh into 1/2 inch slices, mine made 16 pieces. Put them into a fry pan. Mix a little water and BBQ sauce until it’s kind of thin and pour over tempeh and let marinate for about 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, wash and cut up the cauliflower and get the quinoa simmering. When those are cooking, turn the tempeh pan heat to medium and let sizzle for about 8 minutes, flip them and simmer 8 more minutes.

Serve and enjoy!

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When Bread is Love

2015-03-04 17.13.30-1Bread. Soft and chewy, firm and crusty, savory, sweet, tangy, versatile, love. Bread is the love of my life on most days. Filling, bloated, energy-high, energy-crash, gut bacteria, slowed metabolism, still love.

We love bread and bready things. It’s comfort, it’s tasty, it’s harmful to many or to most. Maybe on average we eat too much bread in a day compared to 50 or 60 years ago and before. Food in general is much more available to us at any given minute in the day and we eat it even when we’re not hungry.

Bread is a staple, but maybe we should view it and use it as if it were a luxury instead. Why? Bread messes with your blood sugar, your intestinal flora, your brain, your metabolism, and you emotions. When we’re addicted to bread, we get anxious when we cannot have it. Bread leads to belly fat and other fat storage and eventually to weight gain and brain fog to mention just two; but the list goes on.

I’m addicted to bread. My grandfather used to be amused when I would have a piece of bread without butter or any other toppings; I still do that. Comfort for me is bread with a glass of milk; though, I’ve switched to almond milk 90% of the time.

Why am I writing to you about bread? Because, as a health coach many have told me that it’s good to know that I’m not perfect as they thought I was; they were happy to know that I too am human and real. I live a healthy life but it doesn’t mean that I am without fault. The key for me and for everyone is recognizing faults and working on fixing or at least improving them.

I like to think that there is a happy medium when it comes to bread; maybe there is, I will test it and post my findings, opinions and experiences. I love pasta, crackers and tortilla chips too, but for some reason I don’t feel as emotionally anxious when I limit and/or eliminate those items as I do with bread.

Upon doing research about bread addiction I have found the following points that I’m going to try to work on and share my experience with you. A few factors leading to bread or carbohydrate addiction are deficiency in certain minerals including serotonin and dopamine in the body – what to do? Add probiotics; another leading factor is lack of amino acids and zinc in the body – what to do? Add exactly that, amino acids and zinc. Supplements will help get you there but proper nutrition through food is even more important.

Foods that help keep your blood balanced are:

Lean proteins – fish, poultry, beef and cheese

Healthy fats – nuts, butter, olive oil, seeds

Fruit & Veggies – 2-3 pieces of fruit per day and lots of assorted vegetables 5-11 servings per day

Try to get into a habit of eating something every 2 hours, choose from the list above, and drink plenty of water each day too. Set yourself up for success by shopping and stocking up so that you have these healthy items available at any given moment every day. It you’re off at work and find it difficult to find healthy snacks, pack them up early in the week so you can grab and go. Use snack sized Ziploc or covered containers for perfect portions. Wash your fruit in advance and cut up snackin’ veggies and divide them up for each day of the week as well.

Healthy belly, healthy brain is what we want to achieve, let’s work on it together!