It is time to stop the madness. Stop hating, stop starving, stop stuffing down the emotions, stop resenting. It is time to start seeing the good, the beautiful, the unique, and the positive.
Each of us is amazing. When it comes down to it, we all want the same things – to be loved, happy, safe and healthy. We want these basic things and we all deserve them. And we can have them. We just need to start by taking a few moments each day to take care of our needs. And that starts by focusing on what we can do.
We can choose to nourish our bodies with healthy food and healthful amounts of food. Choose water over diet soda. Choose fresh foods instead of packaged, processed foods. Choose a salad and soup over a burger and fries. Wait a bit before having second servings of food.
Choose to be mindful and aware of what you are eating. Enjoy your food and savor the flavors. It is healthy to eat good food and enjoy the food!
Choose to express yourself in a healthy way instead of punishing your body by starving, overeating, or over exercising.
We can choose to be more active in a healthy manner. Choose to use the stairs instead of the elevator. Choose to do an activity that we enjoy instead of one that feels like punishment.
Choose to tell someone when they are upsetting us instead of remaining silent.
Choose to say no when we are overwhelmed instead of taking on more that we can handle.
Choose to focus on the hear and now – what is going on in the moment – instead of dwealing on the past or fearing about the future.
Choose to know what we are enough, just as we are.
Choose to loosen up – and even let go of – the reigns on trying to control things that are out of our control.
Choose to love ourselves. Choose to recognize that punishing our bodies, through starving, bingeing, purging, extreme over exercise, cutting, and other dangerous behaviors only prevents us from achieving our ultimate goals and healthy life.
Eating disorders stop you from enjoying and truly living your best life. Take some time to pause and focus on what you can do. You are worth it!
For more information and resources visit these sites:
National Eating Disorder Association
Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Related Disorders
The new year is often a springboard for people to make adjustments to their lifestyle. Goals are set for weight loss, new exercise routines, quitting smoking, and engaging in healthier habits. Often the goals set are dramatic with lofty expectations. It’s the all-or-nothing syndrome with resolutions – the thinking of “I’m going to do everything I can, all 50 major changes at once, to achieve my goals or I won’t do anything at all!”
The problem that comes along with this mentality and the high expectations is that when the steps required to make the changes desired are more than one can realistically manage, the goals aren’t met. When goals aren’t met, feelings of failure set in. This creates a whole other set of issues that one must deal with.
It is important to see that you didn’t fail, your expectations were too high and unrealistic. Adjusting your expectations so you can meet your goals is an essential step in making changes for a healthier you!
For example, do you want to lower your cholesterol? Set a goal to eat a high fiber food each day. A week later set another goal to eat red meat only one time a week. The following week, set an additional goal. Do you want to have your family eat better? Set a goal to cook a family meal this week. The next week set another goal to have water or milk with meals instead of soda. And continue to build on the goals weekly. Do you want to improve your body image? Set a goal to stop reading women’s magazines. Then set another goal to practice an act of self love, such as saying a positive affirmation, each day. And so on.
So, instead of setting the bar so high, take a look at small adjustments you can make…little steps that will lead you along your journey. Forget all-or-nothing! This is your true path to success.
If you want your family to eat more veggies – and really, who doesn’t? – then you probably need to find more ways to make the veggies enticing. I know that this is challenging, especially with our busy lifestyles. However, this isn’t something that needs to be difficult and there are certain kitchen tools that can really help out.
One such tool that I love is the Saladacco spiral slicer and I think everyone should have one in their kitchen. It makes slicing veggies so incredibly simple and fast! We all need to make preparing and consuming nutritious meals a priority so I’m always looking for new ways to encourage my family to eat their veggies. I need to mix it up in my family as they get bored easily (I on the other had really could eat zucchini every day).
I have the Saladacco Spiral Slicer and use it all the time. It is my favorite tool for slicing zucchini as it makes these wonderful long thin strands that resemble spaghetti. It can also make very fine ribbons out of sweet potatoes, pears, apples, carrots, and more. It is pretty inexpensive and my saladacco has held up quite well.
My favorite way to use this tool is to make a zucchini salad (like I said, I can eat it every day!). I simply slice the zucchini and a carrot with the spiral slicer, toss with a bit of extra virgin olive oil, a bit of white balsamic vinegar, some sea salt and pepper and then add in some chick peas. This summer I would get the BEST Sungold tomatoes from my CSA and they were the perfect addition to this salad. In less than 3 minutes, a very healthy and delicious dish was prepared! You can’t beat that.
It also slices thin strands of pears and apples that are delicious in salads. The ribbons of sweet potatoes, pears and apples can be baked or dehydrated. I use it to quickly shread onion which is perfect in creamy soups.
I’m often asked about what products I recommend to help families cook at home and make more nutritious meals. This is one tool that I really like so if you are looking for a holiday gift this year, seriously consider giving a spiral slicer!
This time of year is no doubt stressful. Endless shopping, festive parties, out of control food and drink portions, simmering unresolved relationship conficts all are in excess during the holidays. On top of all this, the expectations are enormous and the desire to constantly out-do the previous year’s grandeur often causes tensions to run high and emotional eating to to surface.
To keep your sanity and health in check this season, try some of these suggestions:
- Each day take 10 minutes for yourself – quietly enjoy a cup of tea, go for a short power walk, stretch your body, meditate, focus on deep breathing, or write in a journal. These things help center and calm your body and mind.
- Make a to do list and prioritize it.
- Share your feelings, don’t keep things bottled up inside. Bottling up your emotions will lead to an explosion of emotions through stress, anxiety, negativity, and mindless overeating.
- Don’t skip meals. Eating small wholesome snacks and meals throughout the day will keep your energy levels up and ward off starvation-induced binges.
- Allow yourself to eat your favorite foods. Be sure to be aware of your eating, make it a conscious act – be mindful – and savor the flavors. If you deprive yourself of your favorite foods, in all likelihood you’ll end up overeating other foods and/or bingeing on your favorite food later.
- Eat slower and eat mindfully. Even though life is rushing around you right now, don’t rush your meals. This leads to overeating and stress eating.
- Say no – you don’t have to attend every function or volunteer for every cause. Doing so will only intensify your stress and emotional eating.
Most of all, make the time to reflect on the good things in your life. Positive thoughts are very powerful in influencing our emotional and physical wellbeing.
I love fish. Just about any type of fish is good with me. My family – not so much. For whatever reason, they don’t share my happiness for the aquatic meal. Hmm, maybe that is because they don’t eat enough fish and are thus lacking in the healthy omega 3’s – think that might be my angle next time I serve fish for dinner.
So it is a challenge finding a fish meal that everyone will eat and actually enjoy. I want them to eat fish as the benefits are many:
- Fish is low in fat and saturated fat.
- Fish is high in protein.
- Fish is high in B-vitamins, selenium, phosphorus, and potassium.
- Fish provides healthy fats that help improve heart health, help with proper functioning of the nervous system and help improve depressive disorders.
- While some fish are high in mercury, there are many that are safe to eat. Check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch site for many resources, lists, and aps that help you know what is in your fish and what choices are best.
Since I want my family to reap the benefits of fish, I have tried many recipes over the years. I have found that the simple is the best for my kids…just lightly breaded and baked and *voila* we have a meal they will eat and enjoy!
I use Mahi Mahi (otherwise known as dolphinfish, but is NOT dolphin). This fish is a bit meatier texture and has a mild flavor. It isn’t a great source of omega-3’s but it is very healthy and the key is that my kids will eat it!!! Plus, it works well in this dish and is quick and easy to create. It is so simple – you don’t even need a recipe!
Here is how I make our mahi mahi:
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Farenheit.
- On a plate, pour some flour – I use King Arthur’s White Whole Wheat Flour.
- On another plate, pour some Panko breadcrumbs (these are japanese breadcrumbs and create a lighter breading).
- Season the breadcrumbs with salt & pepper (sea salt and black peppercorns in a grinder is perfect for this – just give a couple of twists of the grinder to season it)
- In a bowl, beat one egg.
- Rinse and pat dry fresh mahi mahi (not frozen).
- Coat the mahi mahi with the flour then dip in the egg.
- Next coat the fish with the panko breadcrumbs and place on the a baking pan.
- Cook for about 12 minutes. The fish is cooked when it flakes easily with a fork.
This is so simple and many salsas compliment this dish. My children don’t like salsas, sauces, and chutneys so they enjoy the fish just as it is.
I serve this with baked sweet potato fries (just peel, slice, season, and bake for about 20 minutes) and zucchini wheels (just chop, season and bake for 5 minutes). Every thing is cooked in the same oven at 400 degrees so it is a really simple, quick, and healthy meal that is completely family friendly!
I created a Thanksgiving print that you are welcome to use for your own personal use! It is sized for a 5×7″ print, so feel free to print it and give to your clients and colleagues this Thanksgiving. It is also easy to use in an email for an nice eco-friendly holdiay greeting. Happy Thanksgiving!
Here is the link to the full size image. You can then save the image to your computer for your personal use: Happy Thanksgiving Card
This is for your personal use only and is not to be resold or for for-profit commercial use. If you use this on your website, a link back to this blog is appreciated. If you have any questions about this, please ask!
With the holidays fast approaching, it is time to clean out the pantry! If you are like me, your pantry fills up and becomes cluttered, especially after a busy Fall. So it is the perfect time for a pantry cleanse. Purge the old spices, baking supplies, and food that has been hanging around for much too long to make room for some heathly fresh supplies! With a restocked pantry, you’ll be set to cook some wholesome meals this holiday season!
Things to purge and restock include:
- Ground Spices: the shelf life is 1-2 years and the older the spice, the less fragrant it is.
Spices are a key ingredient in tasty wholesome food so make sure you have a good variety of fresh spices. Pass on the jumbo sized containers (Costco, anyone?). While the price seems great, you’ll end up tossing much more than you used (TRUST me on this one!).
- Whole seeds/spices have a longer shelf life of up to 5 years. But if the last time you bought your whole cloves was when Atkins was all the rage, then it is time to toss it!
- Dried herbs: these items have a shelf life of 2-3 years and follow the same rules as spices. Toss them if they have lost their aroma.
- Baking Powder and Baking Soda: the shelf like on these two ingredients is pretty short and it is recommended you toss them after 6 months. A quick check on whether your baking powder is still good is to put a bit of it into some warm water. If it fizzes, it is good. If it sinks it is bad. These items are what help baked goods rise, so be sure to use fresh and replace often!
- Flour: If it is whole wheat and it is in your pantry, toss it. Especially if it has been there for a few months. Whole wheat flour should be stored in the refrigerator so the fats don’t become rancid. Other flours should be stored in air tight containers and used within 6 months.
- Opened containers of crackers, chips, snack foods, etc. If they haven’t been consumed within the past month then it is time to toss them.
Stocking the pantry for the holidays:
It is important to have healthful ingredients on hand so that you can easily make a healthy meals when times are busy this holiday season. Some of the basics to have in your pantry include:
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil – excellent for tossing with vegetables, grains and in salad dressings
- White Balsamic Vinegar – great with beans and in salad dressings
- Apple Cider Vinegar – a favorite for salad dressings
- Chick Peas (Garbanzo Beans) – toss with olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, and some salt & pepper and you have the perfect kid-friendly side dish. They are also excellent additions to quinoa and couscous.
- White beans/kidney beans/navy beans – we love beans in our house! They are healthy, filling, and easy to add to many dishes. For convenience I use canned beans and rinse them before using.
- Whole Wheat CousCous – quick, easy, and child-friendly!
- Brown Rice – again, very easy and child-friendly! Rice can be doctored-up so many ways with nuts, dried fruits and herbs.
- Canned Tomatoes – I prefer organic and no salt added. They are a staple in my pantry and used for everything from chilis to homemade pasta sauces and soups.
- Canned Pumpkin – I am always making muffins for my kids as this is a great snack to pack in the lunch box and for after school. Mini muffin tins are are my go-to baking dish. Canned pumpkin is also a great ingredient in soups and pasta dishes.
- Chicken and Vegetable Stock – low sodium versions
- Garlic – fresh bulbs are used in just about every dish I make. Get a garlic press, it is so much more convenient!
- Coconut milk – the “lite” variety is indispensible and I always have some on hand for thai dishes and peanut sauces.
- Spices and herbs – oregano, bay leaf, curry powder, cumin, all spice, nutmeg, & cinnamon are my basics
- Traditional whole wheat flour and King Arthur’s white whole wheat flour
- Sea Salt and Whole Peppercorns
- Lemons and limes
These items are the foundation of my pantry and really help me make a healthful meal when times are stressed and rushed. Take some time to clean out your pantry and refill it with healthy choices and your meal times will be a bit easier this holiday season!
Think back on your childhood memories…many times the memories are of the family eating and mealtime. We remember what grandma’s special dish was, dad’s secret recipe, or times together eating Sunday dinner. Family meals can hold a lot of nostalgia for us and the value of family meals has been shown time and time again many studies. From better grades in school and higher self esteem to more healthful meals and less child obesity, the benefits of regular family meals are numerous.
However, times have changed and I hear so often from families that they just don’t have time to sit down together for a meal. I can understand how challenging this can be with the crazy schedules we all have but I truly believe this is something that all families need to work on.
In my own experience, I know that family meals aren’t without stress especially after a busy day of school and after school activities (and my kids are far from over scheduled – this is something I work hard to prevent). Dinner time is often the “witching hour” for my toddler and kindergartner and my other two children have a pile of homework to attend to (very begrudgedly I might add). So this time of the day is chaotic to say the least! But I feel so strongly that family meals are a cornerstone of a happy, healthy family that I work through it.
And I am thoroughly rewarded:
- We are together, sitting down, present in the moment. Not enough can be said about this!
- We talk about our day: what was learned, problems and successes at school, and sharing what is important to each of us.
- We listen to one another and show each person that what they have to say is important and meaningful.
- We work on our manners (and we work, and we work, and we work some more!). Dinner with a 2, 5, 8, and 10 year old is a lesson in patience to say the least!
- I see what my kids are eating, encourage them to try new foods (or try the same foods again), and work with them on stopping eating when they are full. Teaching them to listen to their body’s cues is essential in helping them develop healthy eating habits.
- My kids see their parents eating (yes it is important for kids – especially girls – to see that mom eats food!) and they see that we eat healthfully and even enjoy our healthful food. In other words, this is a great way to be a good role model!
- We strengthen our relationships with one another and solidify our family bond.
These are some things that help my children really know that they are important and our family meals keep us in touch with what is going on in our lives. We share laughs, work through concerns, problem solve, celebrate our successes and enjoy our time together. Our family meals - dinner every night – reward each of us in so many ways.
It really is that important! I’d love to hear what your challenges are to family meals and how you work through them!
Make the time to sit together and share. Forget about the day’s stresses. Turn off the tv, don’t allow books, video games, phones, homework or other distractions as the table. Simply focus on spending quality time talking with one another. Even 20 minutes together, giving each person a chance to share something about themselves, makes a difference.
I’ve been a fan of photojournalist Peter Menzel and his wife, journalist Faith D’Aluisio for quite some time. I love their book “Hungry Planet” and had the pleasure of listening to them speak at the American Dietetic Association’s Conference in Boston this month. As a photographer myself, I find their work so incredibly inspiring. I can’t recommend “Hungry Plant” or the more child friendly version “What the World Eats” enough.
In “What the World Eats” the authors explore what a family consumes in one week and some of the issues surrounding their food consumption. To see the vast differences in lifestyles and diets from the various families around the world is simply fascinating! For instance, a family of 13 in a small Himalayan village spends the equivalent of $5.03 US on one week’s worth of food. Their diet consists primarily of homegrown food and they consume meat or fish only once or twice a month. The authors then share with us a family of 4 in India who spend the equivalent of $39.72 US on their one week’s worth of food which, like many people in India, is a vegetarian diet. The authors also highlight a family in the USA and I’m sure you can only image the diet quality and expense spent on their one week’s worth of food! I’m sure you’ll enjoy this incredible collection of family profiles as much as I do – even my children have loved looking through it and it has enlightened them quite a bit. This book is really a great read.
NPR has an awesome profile of “Hungry Planet” and interviews with the authors. I highly recommend checking it out and listening to the interviews.
You can view some of their work in this Time Magazine article as well.
Menzel & D’Aluisio have a new book out, “What I Eat: Around the World in 80 Diets” that I cannot wait to read! It is already on the Christmas list…I think you should put it on your list too or give it to friends and family!
As we head into the season of giving thanks and appreciating all are blessed with, I think these books are wonderful at helping put things into perspective for us and hopefully helping us readjust our priorities.
* FYI, I have no affiliation with these books, authors or links. I just really like these books and want to share them with you.
Any parent knows that feeding children can have it’s ups and downs. We all want our kids to have the most healthy, nourishing food possible but kids don’t always see eye-to-eye with us on this. I know first hand how challenging this can be from my four kids. Wow, have they taught me some lessons over the years (sometimes it was so much easier counseling parents on how to feed kids when I didn’t have children of my own – my ignorance on the parenting dynamics was bliss!). So when I find a meal that they will all eat – and even say “YEA!!!” when I tell them what we’re having for dinner – I have to share it with other parents.
The cooler weather we are now having in New England is the perfect time to make this awesome chili. It is loaded with lots of tomatoes, beans, spices, and warms you up as the temperatures drop. My kids love this chili every time I make it!
Here is the yummy – and very easy, don’t let the long list of ingredients scare you – recipe for my hearty bean chili:
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
3 green peppers, chopped
4 cups dark red kidney beans, drained & rinsed (2 cans)
4 cups light red kidney beans , drained & rinsed (2 cans)
28 ounces diced tomatoes, canned with liquid, no salt added
8 ounces (1/2 bag) frozen corn kernels – the roasted corn kernels from Trader Joe’s are perfect)
16 ounces TVP (texturized vegetable/soy protein – often available in the natural food’s frozen section in the grocery store) or can also use 1 pound ground turkey – but go for the soy to make this a “meatless monday” dish!
28 ounces canned tomato sauce, no salt added
4 ounces tomato paste, no salt added
2 tablespoons vinegar (I’ve used both white and apple cider vinegars depending upon what I have on hand)
3 tablespoons chili powder (we like some spice in our family)
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon oregano
1 teaspoon chipotle powder
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt & pepper to taste (I add a lot of pepper)
In a dutch oven (large cooking pot), saute onions and garlic in olive oil over medium heat until just softened (about 5 minutes). Add TVP, beans, corn, tomato sauce, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, and seasonings. Simmer over low heat for at least 1 hour until flavors are blended. Add the green peppers 15 minutes before serving (my family likes a bit of crunch to their peppers). Serve with carrot sticks and snap peas – my kid’s favorites.
Tip: Seriously consider choosing the “No Sodium Added” canned tomato sauce and diced tomatoes to lower the sodium content. You can add salt on your own if needed, but I think it is better to start low and add more if needed.
* Remember to recycle all of those aluminum cans! Especially today – “America’s Recycle Day”.
** Trust me on the TVP – it gives a great meaty texture and you can’t tell the difference from ground turkey. IN FACT – this chili won first place at our local neighborhood chili competition one year. Impressive, I know!
As a dietitian I know I should have the nutrition facts for this recipe, but as a busy mom I don’t have time to figure all that out. So just know that this chili is great for you – high in fiber, protein, lycopene, A, C, iron, and potassium. And if you make it without the meat then it is cholesterol free.
*Ok, so this may not necessarily been a post about a true “adventure” in feeding my family BUT it is the start of many more Monday posts about our family meals, and I know there will be lots of adventures to share with you!