Dinner Time

Family Dinners:it’s the first thing that comes to mind when I think of my childhood (may explain my deep love for food).  It was a rule at our house to be home in time for dinner, no excuses.  As a child I HATED having to leave the neighborhood tree house to go home for

“Is this corn hand-shucked?”

dinner.  As a teenager, I HATED having to leave my friends to go home.   But as soon as college hit, I could not WAIT to get home to a fresh cooked meal.  And as I’ve become more and more removed from my angst filled adolescent/teenage years, I find myself longing for those family dinners again, where we’d sit down to a homemade meal.

I think my mom is the biggest advocate out there for family dinners, and for good reason.  They helped keep us together as a family, and they helped keep us healthy.  There are many reasons to install family dinners in the home to be sure….But it’s hard!  As I try to start the tradition in my own home, I find how hard it is to keep on top of meal ideas,  to keep the pantry stocked of necessary ingredients, to find the time to cook, to find the SPACE to cook (think of the smallest countertop you’ve ever seen.  Half that.  And you’ll have an idea of how big my counter is….city living does have its cost) and perhaps the hardest of all, to make dishes, which bridge the gap between healthy but still tasty.  I admire of you out there who have learned how to do this. 

I’m a novice when it comes to family meal planning but I have found a few tricks that help make planning a bit easier:

  • Make a dinner calendar–   Whether paper or electronic, write it down.  (Paper template can be found here)  It’ll be one less thing your brain has to remember and figure out at the end of the day. A SMART PHONE WILL BE YOUR BEST FRIEND TO ACHIEVE THIS.  Create a calendar entitled “Dinner”.  Calendar in the meals you want to eat on the days you want to eat them.  In the “notes” section write ingredients you’ll need to buy.  Copy and paste recipes into the notes as well.  This also allows you to be flexible with your planning. If you run out of time for a meal one day, simply reschedule the dinner for another day.
  • Buy ingredients ahead of time–       Find a day that works well for you to go to the store and go, shopping list in hand which includes all the ingredients you’ll need for the week.  It’s easier to stay in line with your plan if you know you have ready ingredients at home. 
  • Don’t try to be a Julia Child–    Don’t overwhelm yourself with too complex a project.  Stick to the basics. Find recipes that work for you.  And then if you want, incorporate new dishes into your cooking repertoire.
  • Set an Attainable Goal–    Whether individual or a family goal, set a goal to eat together “x” amount of times a week.  Re-evaluate after a month of dinners.
  • Meatless Monday–      Don’t forget to eat meatless on Mondays! 
  • Blog/Write About it–     I love reading my friends’/family blogs about their experiences!  Love seeing their pictures, and reading their recipes. They are inspiring to me. You can be that inspiring as well.  Cooking a delicious, beautiful meal is fun. And it’s even more fun if you document it! 

Once the habits are formed and a routine is set, I hear it’s a lot easier to stay on track.  But these are a few steps I’ve found helpful in my efforts.  Good luck to us all!

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Meatless Mondays!

The topic of meat consumption has become as sensitive a topic as religion.  People don’t want to be told how much, how little, or what kind they should be eating.   And to each their own I suppose.  Man vs. Food constantly reminds me that this is America, the place where you can eat a 120oz steak if you want to. 

All I’m saying, is LESS IS MORE when it comes to meat.  If you, like me, are trying to wean your family off of daily regimen of meat consumption, it may be time to incorporate Meatless Monday into your menu.  Sounds exciting doesn’t it?!  Meatless Monday is just as it sounds, no explanation needed.  I’ve decided to institute Meatless Monday into my weekly menus after a series of events that lead me down a straight and narrow path right to this decision.

 

On Friday, I made my favorite soup for my husband (featured here) before jetting off to a girls weekend in Park City.  My husband suggested (borderline pleaded)  I add chicken to this meat-free recipe.  I considered it, but quickly snapped out of my meat infused coma and realized that we don’t have to eat meat for every. single. meal!!  So the soup kept it’s vegetarian integrity.  A few days later, I was at my sister-in-law’s house flipping through cookbooks.   I found a cookbook that introduced me to the idea of Meatless Monday, and even devoted an entire section to the idea!!  “What a great concept”, I thought to myself; one day a week, where I get to cook a hearty meal, without meat!

 

The last event on my Meatless Monday Path occurred today.  My conversion was complete as I read an articlein Time magazine about how the whiny, snot-nosed beef industry threw a good old fashioned tantrum over a USDA internal newsletter suggesting USDA employees try Meatless Monday during their cafeteria ventures.  To me the meat industry and their power grabs are more annoying, whiny, and slimy than a 1960’s politician.  Their whine fired up my stubbornness and left me more devout than ever to incorporate

Vegetarian Lasagna

Meatless Monday into my home.

Meatless Chili

It’s becoming a nationwide craze.  Thousands of  cafeterias, schools, and businesses are promoting one meatless day a week.  There are many different motives in promoting Meatless Monday. Whether you’re a health nut and believe it’s good to give the digestive system a break from breaking down proteins for a day; whether you’re environmentally aware and believe it decreases our carbon footprint to eat less meat; whether you’re stubborn and are just sick of the meat industry; or whether you’re a combination of all or none of these things, try Meatless Mondays.

Meatless Enchiladas

Upon further recollection, I realized, I don’t love being on a set schedule.  And in all seriousness if I feel like honey glazed salmon on Monday, I’m going to eat it, knowing that there will be another day in the week I will not eat meat.  The overarching idea behind Meatless Monday, is to moderate your meat consumption.  Simple as that.

 

***Disclaimer: Stop reading now, unless you are prepared to hear my continued meat industry rantings. ****

 

The beef industry doesn’t take lightly to the discouragement of meat consumption.  Midwest state senators do not take lightly to the discouragement of meat consumption.  Meat lobbyists do not take lightly to the discouragement of meat consumption.   This creates a powerful trifecta, which creates a meat economy that is no more organic than the meat it produces!  Meat consumption has gone down 12% since 2007.  Rather than letting the economy do its thing and adjust naturally, Daddy Government is now set up to issue subsididies for livestock feed, buy up unsold meat only to throw it away, and close one eye toward the sanitation of animal living conditions and processing plants which process America’s grocery store beef.

Senator Grassley, a Senator from Iowa, responded to the USDA newletter outcry with the following Twit…Tweet…whatever it’s called:

I will eat more meat on Monday to compensate for stupid USDA recommendation abt a meatless Monday

Another reason why I will eat LESS meat on meatless Monday.

The Cost of Being an Obese Nation

A new study came out this week which is both frightening and encouraging at the same time.  Trust for America’s Health & the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation published a report projecting America’s waistlines to continue to bulge at an alarming rate.   It is projected that by 2030, 42% of adults will be obese.  Not just overweight, but OBESE!!  Mississippi is already at 34.9%. 

And naturally, healthcare costs will rise along with obesity.  The American Journal of Preventative Medicine concluded $550 billion will be spent in healthcare costs between now and 2030 as a result of rising obesity rates.  That’s a lot of money, a lot of tax dollars.  Currently it is estimated the yearly medical cost to treat adult obesity is somewhere between $147 billion and $210 billion.  That is just to treat adult obesity, not child or teen obesity.  Statistics like that are a good reminder that although lettuce and fresh produce may be more expensive than lean cuisines or spaghetti-os, in the long run, they really are cheaper in the long run. (I have to remind myself of that often when I shop because veggies can be so pricy!!)

It’s hard to know how to be healthy.  We live in a society that constantly feeds us clashing messages.  Down the I-15 corridor there are back to back billboards that advertise trading the game controller for outdoor physical activities, and purchasing Mike and Ike’s candy.   Our brains must be overloaded with all the new health studies, diet tricks, products to avoid, super human foods, and ideas at how best to exercise our body type. 

Being healthy has gone from a no brainer (baby boomer generation), to a confusing pool of contradicting information (generation y).   Doctors and health care professionals further promulgate this problem by offering pills and quick fixes instead of solid, well grounded advice.    It is dog eat dog industry out there, and we Americans are in the middle of it, anxiously waiting for someone to tell us how to really be healthy.

Well I don’t think the industry will ever relent; I don’t think doctors will ever agree on a correct way to be healthy.  But people and organizations are really starting to jump on the health train.  Michelle Obama for example, has had a great impact in bringing awareness to proper nutrition and physical exercise.  Food Network star Jamie Oliver has brought a lot of attention to the unhealthiness of school lunches. 

As a result of this increased attention on nutrition/health, things are beginning to improve.  Schools offer healthier choices while eliminating less healthy choices.  Sugary drinks and vending machines have been taken out of certain school districts in California.  Insurance companies offer incentives for healthy lifestyle choices.  Philadelphia public schools have increased physical activity levels in school, offer healthier meals, including breakfast to its students. As a result, its obesity rate has started to decline.  Philadelphia also allows food stamps to be used at local farmers markets, giving more healthy choices to lower income individuals.  There are

Philadelphia lunch lady shows off some of their healthy lunch options.

so many creative, and easy ways to promote health. It is to exciting to see what people come up with!

So perhaps being healthy is a matter of health as well as fiscal responsibility.   I HOPE we’re right around the corner from government issued incentives to healthy Americans.   If I got a tax break for exercising, I can tell you one thing, I’d take it!!!!!  Or even better: if I got to use the HOV lane for eating all my veggies, or got to use a fast track lane at the DMV for not drinking soda… Ahhhhhh I’m starting to day dream.

The Time To Cleanse is Upon Us!

Yawn, stretch, yawn.  Hibernation is over.  The budding trees outside remind me spring has indeed sprung.  And like earth is doing right now, so should we be doing: CLEANSING!  Cleansing is a dirty, intimidating word to a lot of people that makes them be like:

But I assure you, if you do a cleanse that works with your body, you will discover the absolute necessity of cleansing throughout the year, (ideally quarterly).

First thing to note when considering a cleanse: THERE IS NO RIGHT CLEANSE FOR EVERYONE.   The age old cayenne pepper and lemon juice cleanse may be great for some constitutions, while it may kill other constitutions.  So I would choose a cleanse that is suitable to:

  • A) your will-power.  Do not choose a cleanse you know you cannot follow.  This is just setting yourself up for failure. 
  • B) Your lifestyle.  Think realistically about what you can do without completely disrupting your day to day life.  A cleanse will require you to sacrifice a bit of your time and perhaps social events (as most social events revolve around food)  but it’s only for a few weeks of your life.  It’s worth it and you owe it to yourself. 
  • C) Your Current Level of Health.  If you are a health nut already and eat a lot of raw foods, you may want to look at doing a deep colon cleanse using the aide of herbs.  If fruits and veggies are foreign to your diet, a more basic cleanse may be a good way to start. 

Regardless of your current eating patterns your body NEEDS to cleanse.  There are so many benefits to cleansing.  To further convince you to do a cleanse, I will highlight the more catchy reasons:

WEIGHTLOSS   If you follow your cleanse, you will notice pounds dripping off, for two reasons: 1) you won’t be eating junky foods    2)You will be giving your body a break from the hard work of digesting foods like dairy, carbs, processed foods, excess proteins, so it can focus on cleansing and eliminating the built up gunk in your system.  That gunk really packs a punch and can EASILY add an extra 5-15 pounds on the scale.  Once you begin to cleanse, that gunk caked to the sides of your intestinal tract will be released which will aid to weight and inches lost, primarily around the abdominal area.  Have I convinced you that a cleanse is a good idea yet?

ENERGY INCREASE   Just as I demonstrated in the first three words of this entry, people tend to feel sluggish as they come out of their winter hibernation, but are eager to shed their winter “coats”.  A cleanse is a great way to aide this process.  Cleansing will actually give you energy because you will be eating HIGH QUALITY FOODS, and the built up gunk (I suppose I’ll stick with the same, non-technical verbiage) will not be around to weigh you down.   REMEMBER:  it is possible to have long lasting energy without eating breads and animal products, both of which should be avoided while on any decent cleanse. 

DISEASE PREVENTION  Cancer, Candida, Hypo/hyperthyroidism, specific organ diseases, diverticulitis, allergies, Celiac, IBS are all diseases/conditions caused by poor digestion, caused by the standard American diet.   Just like teeth, our bodies produce plaque/mucus when we eat, as a defense mechanism to protect itself from chemicals, unnatural ingredients in our food.  There are over  12 organs involved in the digestion process, all with an estimated surface area to be the size of a football field!   That’s a lot of organs exposed to the foods we eat, both good and bad.   Cleansing allows your body to catch up on digestion, and clean the mucussey-hard to reach places inside the digestive tract where diseases like the ones listed above thrive.  Plaque/mucus build up is the perfect breeding ground for disease.  Similar to our teeth, we should schedule cleanings every 3-6 months for our bodies.  It only makes sense.

If you are unsure which cleanse you want to try, or don’t want to take the time to look around, might I offer a suggestion? 

For two weeks eat a diet composed only of fruits and veggies. This is not meant to be a two week period of starvation.  You should feel full at the end of every meal.  Your day should go something like this:

  • Eat as many fruits as you need to feel full throughout the morning.
  • Enjoy a huge DEEP LEAFY GREEN salad for lunch with as many veggies, nuts/seeds as you want
  • If you get the munchies throughout the afternoon, snack on raw almonds, or carrots
  • Eat a huge DEEP LEAFY GREEN salad for dinner with as many veggies, nuts/seeds as you want.
  • If you are craving sweets, figs will be your best friend. They are loaded with natural sugars and fiber.
  • If you’re absolutely dying from cravings and you feel your only options are to fall off your cleanse or eat chocolate, BUY CACAO NIBS

The deep leafy greens such as chard, kale, or spinach will act as a scrub brush throughout your digestive tract and are the best thing to help you rock your cleanse. The more you can eat the better.  DRINK TONS OF WATER  (tons meaning at LEAST 8 cups)

  

THINGS TO AVOID

  • Any beverage except water
  • Breads in any form
  • Pasta
  • Processed food
  • Baked goods
  • Animal Products
  • Dairy
  • Sweets

If you are looking for a deep cleanse, which I would HIGHLY recommend, I would trust no one else besides Vicki Talmage.  She is a life-saver, literally.  She will change your life and help you to view health in a way that you never have before. 

These are the organs associated with the digestive tract

I’m telling you, cleanses are great.  They will improve your health drastically.  Not gonna lie, you’re going to be crabby the first few days because you’ll realize how much you rely on food for entertainment, happiness, or comfort.  But cleansing will let you test your strength.  After the first week, you’ll be feeling pretty good about your health and it may be easy to justify stopping.  Don’t.  Tell yourself good job and keep cleansing.  If you think there’s nothing left to cleanse, keep cleansing.  The longer you can cleanse the better.  You owe it to yourself to at least give it a try.

 

 

PS I apologize for the annoying “text enhance” popups throughout this post.  Thank you WordPress.  Anyone know how to get them to stop?!?!

Want a Reason to Not-Diet? Here Ya Go.

America spends around $2 billion on weight loss products every year. But still, our wastelines continue to grow instead of shrink.  Dieting may play a role in that and here’s why: “Dieting has been identified as a risk factor in the development of eating disorders, in particular, binge eating” (www.nedic.ca) .  In short, dieting can actually lead to OVER eating. Can anyone else relate to that statement? Anyone?

A study done by the University of Minnesota has proven what many dieters already know from personal experience: dieting does not work.    People who put themselves on a restriction diet a.k.a. starvation diet, soon start to exhibit the same psychological and physiological effects starvation has on the body.  And this eventually leads to over eating in a moment of weakness or frustration.  Ever had one of those days, amongst the shiniest of dieting days, where you make it past the afternoon munchies, and even the post-dinner cravings, only to be greeted with an annoying phone call, or a spout of bad news, that practically forces you to reach for the chocolate chips?  Restriction dieting only exacerbates such an emotion-based response.  Even unhealthily restricting your calories for only a few days can trigger overeating. 

Being a former dieter, I can tragically laugh about the following “fun facts” of diets:

  •  Dieters do what it takes to maintain a clean social image of being a “good dieter” such as lying about what and how much they eat
  • Dieters socially eat like birds while secretly feast like ravenous animals,
  • Dieters do not lose more weight than non-dieters, despite putting themselves through the ringer day in and day out (talk about depressing!)
  • Dieters often stockpile their limited amount of daily calories to  cash in for one big meal a day, often later in the evening, which actually causes weight gain
  • 45 million people go on a diet every year (Gallup poll)
  • 1/2  of teenage girls, and 1/3 of teenage boys use methods like laxatives, fasting and meal skipping to lose weight (according to the National Eating Disorder Association)
  • 41% of dieters actually gain back more weight than they initially lose whilst dieting

Dieting is hard.  It is emotional, and for majority of people, depressing.  I choose to make light of the Dieting Conundrum, because the alternative of taking it too serious, is even more depressing than the nature of dieting itself.    We are conditioned to put pressure on ourselves to be something we are not.  And failed diet after failed diet can make us doubt ourselves, rather than the advice we’re being told to follow.

So is this simply a Catch-22 for people trying to lose weight?  Most definitely NOT.  Diets fail because they do not change behavior.  Diets simply put a Band-Aid on something that is much more than skin-deep.  Dieters can, for a transitory period of time, adhere to dietary rules.  But soon self-restraint is lifted by a diet-breaking trigger like stress or fatigue, and dieting results slowly fade away. So the key is to fix the behavior.  What causes you to stress out?  Why do you eat when you’re emotional or for celebration?  I’ve mentioned this in past blog posts so forgive me for repeating, but finding and keeping balance in life will help take and keep the weight off.  One of the perks of being a health coach, is seeing first hand, how well this approach works.  People who forget about dieting, and focus on balancing out the different areas of their life, find weight loss to be a natural side effect. 

I love to hear about peoples’ dieting stories, tricks, tips, success stories, un-success stories. If you have any experience with dieting, I’d love to hear about it.   Email me privately or post on this blog if you prefer.  But I’d love to hear your stories!