Take Small Steps in Relying on Yourself

cropped-htc-10-10-12-050.jpgI’ve been recently inspired by someone to figure out quick ways to get a delicious and healthy meal on the table in a short time and with limited prep. Sometimes we need to get things done as easily and quickly as possible due to time constraints, physical health/ability and a number of other stumbling blocks. If you too are looking for easier meal prep, then you’re at the right place.

I like to cook. I enjoy hosting dinners that take longer prep than usual, but on a day-to-day basis, I like quick and easy meals that are healthy. I can typically get a meal on the table in 20-40 minutes from start to finish. Cutting vegetables, pulling out all the ingredients needed, including spices, and washing any vegetables used is included in the start to finish time. Cleaning, slicing and dicing takes a bit of time and adds to your need to stand up and stay focused. If you can only stand for a limited time for whatever reason, don’t quit, try a few of the following tips on ways to get stuff done the best way you can.

Before your week begins, make a list of meals you would like to have for the week. List the items you will need to make those meals and either shop for them yourself or ask someone close to shop for you; others will likely be happy to pick up your items while they shop for themselves.

Each day you can prepare the day’s meal or you can prep ahead of time if your time allows. Make things easiest for yourself by setting up a space for you to do the prep work. Set up a spot at your counter or if you need to sit and work, set up your space at the table. Keep cutting boards, knives, peelers, paper towels, a scrap bowl, and other bowls needed to hold the foods you prep close to the table in a bin or basket so they will always be at hand. Keep another basket or small bin in the kitchen, preferably by the refrigerator, to gather the items you will need to bring to your work space at the counter or table. Remember, less work to start with means a shorter time in the kitchen.

When you have your foods prepped as needed, either store them in the refrigerator until needed or right by the stove if you’re cooking immediately. Another helpful habit is to put your spices in a convenient spot and organized so that you can find them quickly. Keep them close to your cooking area if you can or at least keep a basket, handy little things that they are, of your most used spices close by.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I love one dish meals; I can’t say why I like them best, maybe for the simple reason that you can add so much goodness into one pan and stretch your goods to feed many? The biggest advantage of casseroles, one pot stews and soups is the healthy goodness that you can add too your heart’s desire; well, that and leftovers! Leftovers are great for your next day’s lunch, another dinner or to freeze and stock up for a later time when you don’t want to cook or just don’t have items on hand or time or energy to cook.

Additionally, if it makes life easier for you to buy produce that has been sliced, diced and chopped for your convenience, by all means buy it; something is better than nothing!

Remember, the key is to make cooking as simple for yourself as possible. Having a plan ahead of time is crucial to having it work out in your favor. Also, make more than you need for one meal so you can freeze some to enjoy for a later date. Less work makes more time for you!

Have comments or questions? Email me here


Deliciously Healthy Anti-Inflammatory Vegetable Chowder

This chowder gives you creative power over your meal. Use vegetables that are in season and try to focus on vegetables of all colors – eat the rainbow.

For my stew, I used items I picked up that day from the local farm stand. I made good use of the leafy green tops from beets, celery and turnip, and I used 2 ears of freshly shucked corn. I made it creamy using almond milk but you can use any milk of choice, just remember to limit dairy products if you’re concentrating on lowering inflammation.

I used:
  • 1 lg. onion
  • 1 lg clove elephant garlic (you can use 3-4 regular cloves)
  • 2 medium potatoes with skin
  • 1 large Turnip
  • 1 large Carrot
  • 3 stalks Celery
  • 1 Green or red pepper
  • 1 large Zucchini
  • 2 ears of Corn – husked and steamed for 5 minutes then cut off the cob
  • 1 can of Black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1″ Fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • Leafy greens added last, try kale, spinach, collards, cabbage, Swiss chard – I used celery leaves, beet greens and turnip greens – about 4 cups total
  • Cumin, gray sea salt, black pepper, paprika – roughly 1/2 – 1 teaspoon each
Cut all veggies into large dice.
Sauté the onion, garlic and celery in oil of choice. Add about 4-6 cups of water and add potatoes, turnip, carrots, bring up to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes. Add green peppers, zucchini and spices, simmer 15 minutes. Add leafy greens and almond milk – simmer 10-15 minutes longer. Enjoy!
When you make your vegetable chowder using different ingredients, just cook them in order of denser veggies first and lighter quicker cooking veggies last; the trick is to keep all nutrients in tact by cooking slow and low and for just the right amount of time depending on the item. As the fall squash becomes available, be sure to use those as they are full of fiber and dense nutrients.
No rules except fresh in season veggies!

My Matcha Tea Time

20160822_150220I’ve been hearing about Matcha tea for quite a while but until recently, I wasn’t interested in giving it a try. A week or so ago I did a bit of personal research to understand the hype and benefits. I admit, I like it and wish I gave it a try sooner. I’m the type of person who will eat or drink it because it is healthy; the taste will have to grow on me because I won’t abandon something good for me, would you?!

Preparing Matcha is somewhat of a short ritual. You choose the brand of Matcha that is good quality and tastes right to you personally. You purchase a bamboo Matcha whisk and find a favorite bowl that will be your Matcha bowl and a bamboo Matcha scoop, it’s small and holds just the right amount of Matcha powder for each serving.

Boil your water then let it sit for a few minutes to calm and cool down slightly. Measure 1-2 scoops of Matcha into your bowl, add a splash of hot water, whisk gently to mix then top it off with more water…my guess is between 1/2 and 1 cup; then whisk quickly but gently until it gets frothy. Pick up your bowl and sip away!

You can also froth up a small amount of Matcha and add it to a glass of cold almond milk and froth it up for a refreshing cold Matcha milk – I tried that too and love it!20160822_151538

Some of the benefits of Matcha Green tea are:

  • High in antioxidants which help fight the negative affects of the environment and junk foods
  • Very high in catechins. EGCG which are the most beneficial and potent of antioxidants
  • Boosts energy and endurance levels
  • Boosts memory and concentration
  • Boosts the immune system offering high levels of vitamins A & C, protein, iron, calcium, and potassium
  • Enhances calm
  • Detoxifies the body
  • Lowers bad cholesterol, raises good cholesterol
  • Burns calories

Give it a try sometime. Share your thoughts and experience with Matcha.

Slurp up!



Peach & Heirloom Tomato Salsa


3 peaches, peeled and chopped (if you leave them out of the refrigerator for a day or two, you will be able to easily section the peach into eighths and peel each section)

1-2 large heirloom tomatoes – for this recipe I used one large yellow heirloom that was about the size of a softball

1/4 cup red onion diced small

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

1/2 – 1 hot pepper, diced small – I used 1/2 poblano pepper

1 Tbs. lime juice

pinch of salt

Mix gently in a bowl, cover and refrigerate for a few hours to overnight. Serve with tortilla chips, pita chips or as a zesty side to your healthy whole grains, prepared eggs, chicken or fish.

Let me know how you liked it and any changes you made! Eat healthy, live happy!


Weekend Eats

The air around us here in New England is finally feeling a bit warmer. On this overcast and slightly humid Friday, I decided to prepare a few healthy foods to make weekend meals quick and easy.


I made my White Bean & Avocado Hummus, and put it in my beautiful new Polish Pottery bowl find the recipe here.

I made changes to it as I do many recipes depending on my preference that day and whatever is in season. The changes I made included switching out dill for cilantro and I added about 1/2 tsp. turmeric.

I also pulled together a Tangy Coleslaw with Greek Yogurt, Lime & Cilantro dressing; definitely something that will wake up your taste buds and cleanse your palette. The recipe is as follows…

Tangy Coleslaw with Greek Yogurt, Lime & Cilantro dressing

1.2 head of cabbage, shredded with a food processor or cut into thin slices 20160513_160835

2 medium carrots, peeled and grated

1/2 teaspoon celery seed

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 Tablespoons lime juice

4 Tablespoons chopped cilantro

1/4-1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

salt & pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients well, cover and chill overnight. The longer it chills the better it tastes.

And finally, I made the quickest dessert ever; Clementine Chia Pudding. I found the recipe online; you can find it here.



Why Material Things Don’t Matter

We all want something and it pretty much is an ongoing desire which we too often mistake as a need. I would guess that every one of us has at one time or another said, or thought to ourselves, “if I only had ____, I wouldn’t want anything else, or things would be so much better…etc”, only to find ourselves wanting more after we got that last thing. You know how it goes, on and on and on. I myself am guilty of the very same behavior (especially with Polish Pottery!).

If you step back and look at your big picture you might see things from a new angle. You might realize what is true and what is simply filling the empty spaces in your spirit. When was the last time you were truly in the moment, feeling what is now, seeing what is happening right now without thinking about yesterday or your next activity ahead? Being in the moment is health, deciding to change your eating habits right now, not tomorrow, not after this next outing and not for just a short period of time is health, health is what matters most. If you don’t have your health, material things don’t matter. Material things are temporary joys, material things hold no happiness if you cannot enjoy them in good health. Your health is worth every moment, dollar and joy that you spend wanting material items.

I know that I continually want for things and I have stepped back a few times to get a good look at how these material things are filling my life with pleasure, hope, inspiration and need; and the thing I always realize is, they’re not. Have you taken a step back to weighed the balance between your collection of things with the joy they bring? What have you learned about yourself when you do that? Have you ever cleaned out the items you no longer use? How did that make you feel? Have you taken the time, money or effort from something you wanted and used it toward helping someone else instead? Try it out.

Choose to be healthy before you choose items to satisfy your empty spot. Choose you instead of that great pair of shoes or that latest greatest electronic gadget. If you don’t choose you, who will? If you don’t have your health, nothing else quite matters.

Food & Physicals

I had my annual physical today which isn’t something that is at the top of many people’s list of things to do, but it is necessary.

My appointment went well as it usually does – routine Q’s & A’s and done!

I’m a health coach, I teach people how to eat healthy, I help them overcome cravings, poor habits, lose weight as well as helping reduce blood sugar, blood pressure, bloated feelings, and more.

Of all those things, weight is the #1 concern individually – everyone wants to lose a few pounds. Many of us could benefit to drop 5-25 pounds or more, but from my experience in coaching, your vital signs and blood work results need to be healthy first and foremost. You can be overweight with healthy blood sugar levels, blood pressure, blood oxygen, breathing, cholesterol levels, heart rate…etc. When you get your vitals and blood work under control, your weight loss will follow.

You’ll be amazed at how great you can feel after changing your diet to fit your needs even if you’re not at your ideal weight! You’ll also be at ease  and relaxed about going to the doctor when you know you’ve been eating better.

If you’re ready for a change, ready to take positive steps toward your health and you would like your own personal health coach, let’s talk! Having me on your side, guiding you along the way at your pace is fun, very easy to transition yourself, informative and very affordable.

Want to talk to see how your own coach can help? Contact me at Dawn@initiatewellness.com and let’s make a connection!

Your Health Coach,

Kale Chips & Other Green Things

Kale Chips & Other Green Things

20160127_123922It’s the end of January and my craving for fresh greens is kicking in strongly right about now. My fix? Kale is a winter green, citrus is in season, avocados, celery, apples & pears are all colder weather crops so I feed my desire on these things.

Last night while dinner was in the oven I made my go-to green smoothie that will last 2 days for a quick grab and go snack – see recipe below.

After roasting veggies and a turkey meatloaf in the oven, I cleaned, dried and seasoned kale and roasted it for about 40 minutes in a 225° oven, two batches to be exact. I found an easy way to season kale for chips: add kale to a bog bowl, drizzle with olive oil or another light oil, add garlic powder, lemon juice, and massage into the leaves then lay the leaves in a single layer on a parchment paper lined baking sheet – sprinkle with nutritional yeast for a nutty-cheesy flavor and bake.

These two items are terrific midday or after dinner snacks. Have you ever tried making your own kale chips or green smoothie? I know a lot of folks like fruit smoothies; those are fine on occasion, but they lend to a good amount of unnecessary sugar too. Mixing 1-2 fruits in a green smoothie sweetens it up enough to taste less earthy without a sugar load.

Try each of these recipes for yourself and share your experience & opinions with us.

Kale Chips: prepare as written above, nothing was measured, just drizzled & sprinkled.

Green Winter Smoothie

Clean all ingredient well before using! I soak them in vinegar & water or hydrogen peroxide & water for 10-15 minutes then rinse and drain well.

1″ piece of ginger

small handful of parsley

1 very large handful cleaned organic kale – organic ensures no pesticides were used

1 apple cored – peeling isn’t necessary

1 peat cored – not peeled

3 stalks celery, cut into large chunks

1 avocado

juice of 1/2 lemon or squeeze of lemon juice

juice of 1 orange

1-2 Tablespoons chia seeds

2 Tablespoons ground flax seeds good sprinkle of cinnamon (adds sweetness without sugar and is a blood-sugar stabilizer

Add all ingredients to blender carafe, add filtered water within 1″ of top of carafe, cover and blend on low first then on high…blend it for a good few minutes. I take this time to clean up and get my bottles ready. I use small glass bottles so one can be taken with a homemade lunch and I put the rest into a quart bottle for glasses of goodness at home. When it’s well blended, pour into prepared bottles and refrigerate until used. Should last up to 3 days…more is okay but using it at its freshest is best.

Releasing Anxious Thoughts & Feelings

sandpiper walkConnect with yourself. Give yourself credit for what you have dealt with or are dealing with. Accept where you are and appreciate it for being better than where you could be.

Get warm. Warmth eases tension, imparts calm – try a hot shower, warm bath, blankets, whatever helps you feel toasty and cozy.

Yoga breathing. There is a simple breathing exercise that you can do several times a day without really having to fit it into your schedule…you just have to remember to breathe. It goes like this: pay attention to the air as you breathe in fully, as you exhale fully; note the smell around you, the temperature of the air and repeat 5 times a few times a day. For a deeper breath practice try “748 breathing” inhale for a count of 7 – hold it for a count of 4 – exhale for a count of 8, repeat this 3-5 times several times a day.

Walk. Take a walk, preferably in the woods, along the shore, in a field – nature is healing. All you need is 20 minutes. Take 20 minutes to be with yourself and nature even if you live in the city you can use this practice to decompress. All you need to do is walk 10 minutes away and you’ll need 10 minutes to get back – your 20 minutes will go by quickly and you’ll feel refreshed. Want more time? Take a longer walk…just get out and walk.

Mindful meditation. Don’t know how to meditate? No sweat! Start with just 5-10 minutes of sitting comfortably quiet. Pay attention to the present moment, your breathing, let your thoughts come and go – don’t judge, don’t analyze it – just BE. Do this at least once a day, more if you feel the desire.
Exercise. Get regular daily or weekly exercise. This warms you, releases the ‘feel good’ hormone, energizes your body and helps keep your body fit.

Key Notches & Success

20160106_153349-1When you open a lock with a key you must put the key all the way into the keyway in order to successfully open the door, drawer or whatever it is you are attempting to open. In the same way, you must commit fully to a goal that you plan to reach.

When you map out and attempt to reach a goal you will only meet success if you are fully engaged in accomplishing it.

Write down your goals. Map out your path to reach success. Get help if you don’t know where to begin or to help keep you on track and accountable, take yourself seriously – while still having fun of course!

Find or buy yourself an interestingly different key and keep it with you as a reminder to go all the way in your commitment and endeavor.

The key to success is yourself!