Category Archives: Nutrition

Live Your Life, Love Your Food

There was a time in my life where I was obsessed with food, and like all obsessions, this one took some time to unravel.

When I was being good, I was following someone else’s plan about how and what I should eat. Certain foods were off-limits, though if I’m honest with myself, I wasn’t entirely sure why. I expended a lot of time and energy to follow this plan.

My life looked something like this:

I’d use my Sundays to pre-select, shop, and prep my meals and snacks for at least the next 3-5 days. In addition, I’d diligently enter all the recipes into MyFitnessPal so they’d be ready for me to track, and plan my exercise schedule for the week (because of course that affected my allotted calories). I actually grew to enjoy these Sundays, throwing on some music and cooking up a storm.

But I can’t say I really did much else those days.

Weekdays were challenging, especially as the days turned into evenings, and Mondays into Fridays.

I loved Monday, because every week was the opportunity for a new start. I’d feel all motivated and ready from my Sunday “food chore” day!

And breakfasts were always easy for me. I was home–maybe I’d done a yoga practice or some exercise in the morning; so I felt content and confident for the day. (If I’d slept well….)

By lunchtimes I’d likely have been in 2-3 meetings, few of which I was truly interested in, some of them high-stress or contentious for whatever reason. Lunch looked like sifting through emails that had been piling up OR running off to another meeting. (Noon was often the only time people on a project team were “free”, because of all the other meetings they were in!) Team members scampered through the cafeteria, dashed into the conference room, and then scarfed down their food to get on with it. Initially I did the same with the healthy food I brought.

By 3 or 4 pm, I’d likely have some free time in my office to eat my snack. So I’d pull one of those Fiber One bars out of the box in my desk drawer–you know, that healthy bar with all the chocolate pieces in it!–and devour it while trying to catch up on things that had happened while I’d been in more meetings. But I wasn’t satisfied, so I’d eat another. Pretty soon the box I’d brought for the week would be empty.

Sometimes this would happen early in the week. Other times I’d have a streak of good days, and the cycle wouldn’t start until later. But it was always the same once I’d gone on a binge…:

I’d realize and track what I’d done, to see how badly I’d gone over my calorie allotment for the day. “Well shit,” I’d think. “Today’s a bust. Screw it then.”

More tight deadlines, more difficult meetings, more challenging conversations, and then traffic on the way home.

Then I’d not necessarily eat what I’d prepared for dinner. And if I did, I’d eat something else too. And something else after that.

I needed to unwind from the day!

One of my favorites was BudiBars. At one point, I’d buy a case–as in, for the month–and store the box in my garage so that every time I ate one, I’d have to run up and down the stairs. Unfortunately, this didn’t prevent me from eating the whole box within a couple days. They ARE healthy, right?

Sunday I’d repeat the process. Monday I’d reset. Can you guess what happened? Yup. I kept gaining (rather than maintaining or losing) weight. I knew this, because I’d weigh myself every morning: buck naked, at the exact same time (just to be sure).

I was frustrated because I was putting in SO much effort. I was trying so hard not to eat certain things. Internally, I’d tell myself I was “fat and disgusting” over and over again, thinking it might finally sink in and I’d stop eating things I didn’t want to eat. On more positive days, I might tell myself I could overcome this, that I could be strong.

And it started to feel like there was some internal demon who made me eat way too much no matter how hard I resisted!

Can you feel this? It really sucked.

This cycle caused me to study Eating Psychology, and become a coach. And now I know there are SEVERAL reasons why all this didn’t work for me…and why it actually worked AGAINST me.

Boy do I wish I had known these reasons BEFORE!!  So much of my life could have been different. So much time saved, so much energy put to other uses. I don’t regret this phase of my life because it taught me a ton, but you know, it would have been nice to have been able to focus on other things: tending to relationships, contributing to the world, that sort of thing!

Among the pile of reasons this way of living wasn’t working was that I was not receiving any PLEASURE from my food. Apart from the prep-time, I was barely looking at it, and I certainly wasn’t tasting it.

Do you get pleasure from your food? Does it look amazing? Does it taste even more amazing? 

  • If not, you’re not taking full advantage of your calorie-burning and metabolic potential — and I’d love for you to get some inspiration!
  • If you are, I’d love for you to help me show others how healthy food can be mouth-wateringly pleasurable.

Read more about and sign up for my FREE Healthy Pleasures Photo Challenge (starts June 1)!


CCFT? No, CCF Tea!

When I first heard someone say I should make CCF tea, my corporate brain translated that into the four-letter acronym CCFT–which I suppose still works doesn’t it? 😊 Anyway, as it’s been cold (relatively speaking of course) and rainy in Austin these days, I thought I’d share this very healing drink with all of you.  Since I understand how little time one can have in a day, I’ve included instructions for when roasting seeds isn’t in the day’s plan! Note there are logs of variations on this recipe so feel free to experiment!

Recipe for CCFT

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds (can reduce to 1/2 if taste is undesirable)
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 4 cups water

Instructions

  • If you have more time (optional): dry roast the seeds in a shallow pan until fragrant, then grind using a coffee grinder.
  • Bring water to a boil and add the seeds (ground or not). Reduce heat and simmer for up to 5 minutes. Strain and enjoy!*

*If you find the taste too “unusual”, note that some folks like to add a little honey.

Tips

  • To try it out, first buy the seeds in the bulk aisle so you don’t have too much.
  • If you make it a lot, buy your seeds at a local Indian grocery and save!

Some Benefits

  • Reduce inflammation
  • Reduce bloating
  • Improve digestion
  • Balance blood sugar
  • Reduce bad cholesterol levels
  • Clear up skin
  • Calm and soothe agitation
  • Help with weight loss (drink as between-meal “snack”)
  • Improved respiratory function

Sources

  • https://thewholejourney.com/homemade-healing-spice-tea-huge-digestive-benefits/
  • https://wellnessmama.com/119233/cumin-coriander-fennel-tea/

Learning How to Poach

I feel slightly strange that my first post of the year is about something so…well, almost mundane. However, there are some really BIG things percolating inside and out, and as much as I am typically an “over-sharer”, I’m choosing to keep some things a little closer to the vest right now. Close friends know what I’m talking about, and I expect it all to unravel here at some point. Just not yet.

So, happy near year all.

The other day I got a “wild hair” (as my friend Pam used to say) to learn to poach an egg. I still can’t fathom why exactly, other than that eggs are something I eat for breakfast frequently, and I was getting rather bored of them.

Of course upon my decision to learn this, Danil googled and sent me this marvelous video. I have never seen Jacques Pépin and was impressed and amused. I couldn’t imagine why I’d need to put the eggs in an ice bath after cooking though, especially if I wanted to eat them immediately. I also couldn’t see trimming off the white edges to make them look more presentable: that’s valuable protein, and I’m not presenting them to guests or anything!

The next morning I decided to try this. It was a mild disaster. I didn’t use the spoon soon enough to stop the white part of the egg from sticking to the bottom of the shallow pan.  But I was happy to have a use for the white vinegar.

The morning after that, I’d learned from my mistake.

The first egg came out nearly perfect and I was terribly proud of myself. But I (think) because I had the water boiling too rapidly, the second one came out awful. Still I was happy with the consistency of the yolk. Contrary to many poached egg fans, I don’t prefer my yolks to be all that runny!

This morning I’m happy to report that after only 3 attempts at this process, I came out with 2 eggs that I found both presentable and delicious! Again the first was more presentable than the second; tomorrow I may try changing out the water–I’m using a small skillet–before cooking the second. This morning I also dropped them onto a paper towel, which did much to absorb the water but may have resulted on some loss of appearance when I went to remove them.

If you’re anything like me, a new year gives you a little “kick in the pants” to try new things. I think a lot of times we’re very focused on having those things be BIG. But as learning to poach has shown me, the small wins can be fun and satisfying, as well as encouraging. Especially when the BIG things will (naturally) take longer to manifest.

Happy poaching!


My 66-day Watering Challenge

A few months back I attended a business-related seminar called The ONE Thing (based on the book). Like many such trainings, the speakers stressed the importance forming good habits as a way to keep a business healthy and growing. Because I’m a coach, I’m always interested in new ideas related to releasing habits that don’t serve us and creating habits that do. As much as I care about creating a sustainable business, I know that starts with me being healthy (and continuously growing)!

What Did I Do & Why?

On August 25, I decided to apply the 66-day Challenge to a simple habit: that of drinking 8 glasses of water per day. Now I’m not the kind of coach that sticks to “rules” per se: there is research both for and against this amount of water (as there are for most foods and beverages). But what I do know about myself is that I run dry, and that when I drink coffee and wine (both of which I enjoy), I am even dryer. I can wake myself up at night feeling so dehydrated I’m coming out of my skin. I’ve always been this way. I’ve ingested more healthy fats than I can tell you, including ghee (which I love). Really the only climate I feel comfortable in are ones like Costa Rica & Hawaii. Just the right amount of heat and humidity. But I digress…and I live in Austin.

How I Did It & What I Learned

I stuck this sheet on my refrigerator door and kept a pen in the drawer nearby. Every glass of water was indicated with my favorite marking system. I gave myself a checkmark on days I completed. When I knew that I’d really squeaked by for that day, I wrote “close” or “pushing it” to motivate myself more for the next day. As you’ll see, I wasn’t perfect. There are two X’d days. But in the process I learned several things:

  1. I know now how to approximate how much is “8” without tracking. For example, filling this water bottle is 2, that glass is 1….
  2. I know how to pace myself on that water. When I’ve not had enough in the morning, how it affects me in the afternoon or evening, and vice versa. Also how close to bed to have that last glass!
  3. I can feel the difference on days when I have coffee AND wine, even with the same amount of water.
  4. I learned a few fabulous new ways to hydrate my system without feeling bored. (See below for more.)
  5. I learned how having a soda really robs me of hydration.
  6. I felt less desire for chocolate and alcohol (even giving it them entirely for a time!). My appetite also changed; I felt less hungry and fuller on less food.

How I Made It Interesting

I discovered the Lemon Olive-Oil Flush recipe. As someone who’s dabbled in Ayurveda for many years, I was used to drinking room-temperature water with lemon juice first thing in the morning. (In fact, my water is ALWAYS room-temperature if I can help it.) What I liked about this recipe was that it added healthy fat in the form of olive oil. I experimented with adding ginger a few times; with adding vanilla once (because I like the taste of it fine without!). It was like lemonade, but so so good for me. I generally cut the recipe in half to make a 16 oz drink.

My other great helper in this challenge was my Define Bottle. I experimented with all different kinds of fruits in the bottom including: mandarins, raspberries, blackberries, figs, and limes. The berries didn’t work as well as the citrus fruits. Writing this today reminds me to try the grapefruit and apple I have in the kitchen. 🙂

Are 8 glasses a day right for everyone? Nope. Is this challenge helpful for forming a new habit? I think so! I wonder what I’ll apply it to next….


Experiments with Tofu & Super-Secret Ingredients

img_2067A few weeks ago I made up the base of this dish. It’s still a work-in-progress but hopefully it will give you some interesting ideas for a healthy and tasty dish that will last for several meals!

ingredientsIngredients:

  • 2 packages gluten free udon noodles
  • 2 packages silken tofu (firm)
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 Tbsp ginger
  • 1 large broccoli crown
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1/2 15oz can baby corns
  • 1/2 cup shiitake mushrooms
  • Olive oil 1
  • White Miso soup paste 2
  • Salt and pepper

img_2061img_2064Instructions:

  • Start a pot of water boiling.
  • Chop tofu into bite-sized cubes and place on baking sheet (I covered the sheet with aluminum foil and sprayed it lightly with coconut spray). Place in the oven on Hi Broil (middle rack or lower!)
  • Chop noodles in half and add to boiling water.3 Cook only 2 minutes! Strain then mix with 1 Tbsp olive oil and 2 Tbsps miso soup paste. Set aside.
  • Heat a wok over medium-high heat. Add 1 Tbsp olive oil. Chop shallot and ginger and add when wok is hot.
  • When aromatic (5 mins or so) add chopped broccoli.
  • img_2065When broccoli is brighter green, add chopped red pepper, baby corns, and smooshed4 shiitake mushrooms.
  • In another 5 mins or so, add in noodles. Remove tofu from oven and add (it should be lightly crisped and brown around the edges). Then add in another Tbsp oil and miso.
  • Mix and cook until all is warm, another 3-5 mins. Serve immediately. Top with paprika if desired.

img_2059img_2063img_2060Serves 6-8. Takes ~30 mins.

Tips:

  • 1 I used garlic-flavored, but if you like garlic I could see adding some actual garlic at the same time as the ginger and shallots.
  • 2This is the super secret ingredient!
  • 3If you use the noodles I did, warning: don’t dump these right into the pot, otherwise others will be amused while you hastily try to fish out the “do not eat” sack before you poison yourself and your dinner guests
  • 4You could chop these I suppose, but I’m lazy, so I just literally smooshed them a bit between my fingers while washing them

Mirror mirror on the wall…I’m not broken!

As an Eating Psychology Coach I work with many women who are concerned about their weight and have issues with their body. (Some have real weight they could lose–others believe that losing a few pounds would make them “better” in some way.)

Either way, how often do we women look into a mirror and criticize our bodies? When something we try on doesn’t look right, our self-talk isn’t usually “oh, this outfit is awful.” Rather, we hone in on the parts of us we think are too big/small, too long/short, too thin/thick, too flat/lumpy. We have a habit of judging ourselves harshly, and that can move us quickly onto comparisons. We ruminate while standing there, finding all the ways that we are less than. We continue to look for outside validation (either in the mirror or from others in our lives) about our beauty and our worth. When we do this, we expend a tremendous amount of our power and life energy shaming ourselves; later we wonder why we don’t feel confident or sexy or happy, and believe it’s tied to our physical shape (which clearly we must change!).

Imagine trying on an outfit that doesn’t work and saying to yourself, “This blouse isn’t cut to flatter my shape.” Or, “My skin is fabulous, and these lights really don’t show it off that well.” Or, “These jeans don’t hug my curves the way another pair could.”

The problem does not often lie in our bodies. The problem is often how our minds perceive our bodies. We ignore or distort our true selves, our true beauty, in the world of mirrors and reflections that others have created and that we maintain.  Break that defective mirror. It’s what’s broken, not you!


Good food will heal what ails you

One of the ways I work with people as an Eating Psychology Coach is to get them back in touch with how pleasurable food can be. In the Chakras Tune-up workshop this past weekend, we talked about how second (sacral) chakra issues revolve around pleasure, and how the energy in this part of the body is frequently blocked by guilt.

Perfect example: say you eat an amount of chocolate that you don’t think you should have (or something else you find pleasurable but “forbidden”). What might you feel afterwards? Guilt! And sometimes then comes the punishment, like over-exercising, or restricting food (i.e. pleasure) even more. But there was a good reason for the chocolate, wasn’t there? Maybe you can’t point your finger on it initially, but if get quiet for a minute or more, I’ll bet you can find it.

We cannot live without being open to experiencing pleasure. (And this is coming from someone who has had her fair share of pain.) So today when I happened to be in a state of pain (more mental than physical, yet due to physical issues), I got myself to cooking.

It didn’t have to be much, or take a lot of time, but what it had to be was SPECIAL. So I took the extra time I gained today by having to cancel all my “stuff” to cook some oatmeal over the stove (i.e. the old-fashioned way, sans microwave). I combined it with some ghee and vanilla almond milk, and topped with with some shredded almonds and a few prunes. (I happen to really like prunes. 🙂 ) Instead of putting it in a bowl, I picked a nice tea cup, and ate it while nestled under a blanket, propped up on the biggest pile of pillows ever, on the sofa.

IMG_1684Then for lunch, I was reminded of a Facebook post I saw some time ago about cooking scallops in a bit of vermouth with butter. (I believe it was a Paleo recipe.)  My lovely partner was kind enough to get me my standard order of “6 large scallops” from the seafood counter at Central Market yesterday, and we happen to have vermouth and Kerrygold! I also threw in some garlic and ginger for good measure.

Now given what I’m dealing with, let me tell you that there are likely several people who would scoff at the use of the alcohol as well as the dairy. But you know what? I know my body, and I know that when something happens to slow me down, avoiding things I enjoy just means I deprive myself of even more pleasure and don’t heal any faster. So why not enjoy something, when I’m restricted in so many other ways? That’s my philosophy anyway!

When people come to me dealing with an issue about food, food generally isn’t the issue. It’s how they’re approaching life. I never “take away” someone’s treat.  The treat is there for a reason. Sometimes you don’t need it. Sometimes you do. The trick is that when you have the treat, you take the time to enjoy it.

What’s for dinner?


Apple Leek Juice

apple_wineIf you’ve been reading my posts about our trip to Prague lately, you might remember that we enjoyed a tasting menu where I did the wine pairing and my partner did a juice pairing. There were many fabulous juices, so I thought I’d try to recreate them. Here’s an interesting combination that’s pretty easy to make.

Ingredients:

  • 3 large organic apples
  • 1 leek

Instructions:

  • Wash all ingredients thoroughly.
  • Chop the apples just enough so that they work with your juicer.
  • Chop the end off the white side of the leek, and then continue chopping the leek into rounds until you get to the other end, which you can discard.
  • Juice the apples.
  • Juice 2-3 slices of leek, starting from the white end and moving up.
  • Stir your result and taste. Add more leek if desired, but be careful, as this is a strong flavor and it doesn’t take much!
  • Use the rest of the leek in your dish of choice, or make more juice!

Perfect Garlic Scallops

IMG_9901Ingredients:

  • 6 scallops (the Whole Foods seafood guy loves me for this! But it makes 1 serving. 🙂 )
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp of chopped garlic (more or less to taste)
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions:

  • Place the olive oil at the center of the pan and turn the heat on high.
  • Salt and pepper one side of your scallops.
  • Set the garlic in the center of the oil.
  • When everything starts to spit, you’re in the right place! Distribute the oil around the pan, then add the scallops salt-n-pepper face down, and press them down. Salt and pepper the exposed side.
  • IMPORTANT: Do not move the scallops for about 5-6 minutes. Go about your business. Empty the dishwasher, like I did. 🙂
  • After the time has passed, flip the scallops using tongs (easiest, although a spatula or fork could work too). Leave alone for another 4-6 minutes.
  • Transfer the scallops to a plate, and if you like scoop any remaining, toasty garlic/oil on top.
  • Enjoy with your favorite veggie side dish.

See how quick it really was! Watch the time-lapse video.


Spicy Veggie Stir Fry

I tossed this together the other day and it came put pretty good, so I thought I’d share. What’s funny is that just a few years ago, all I’d ever do is follow a recipe step by step; I’d never try and create my own. But over time I learned that it can be quite easy, especially to modify one like this to come up with a unique variation. For example, use a different kind of oil, use garlic instead of ginger (or both!), or try cauliflower instead of broccoli. And of course, leave out the hot sauce if you don’t have a palette that enjoys that sort of thing.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp fresh ginger slices
  • 1/2 shallot, chopped
  • 6 small multi-colored carrots, chopped
  • 1 crown broccoli, chopped
  • 1/4c cooked brown rice (I used leftover rice!)
  • 1 Tbsp Sriracha (more or less to taste)
  • Salt and pepper

image

Instructions:

  • Add oil, ginger, and shallot to a wok and cook on medium heat until fragrant and slightly soft.
  • Add carrots and cook, stirring a few minutes. Add broccoli and do the same. Add cooked rice, Sriracha, salt and pepper.
  • Stir frequently, adding water as necessary to keep wok un-sticky; cook until veggies are of desired tenderness.
  • Serve with a protein like chicken or tofu, or add the protein into the mix (chopped like the veggies). A hard boiled egg on top is also nice!

Serves 1-2 people.

Feel free to share the variations you come up with!