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Friday, March 9, 2012

March Newsletter

I have made it a rule to give every tooth of mine a chance, and when I eat, to chew every bite thirty-two times. To this rule I owe much of my success in life.
-William Gladstone

 

Chewing

When it comes to increased health, it’s not just what we eat but how we eat. Digestion actually begins in the mouth, where contact with our teeth and digestive enzymes in our saliva break down food. But these days most of us rush through the whole eating experience, barely acknowledging what we’re putting in our mouths. We eat while distracted—working, reading, talking and watching television—and swallow our food practically whole. On average we chew each bite only eight times. It’s no wonder that many people have digestive problems.

There are many great reasons to slow down and chew your food.
·       Saliva breaks down food into simple sugars, creating a sweet taste. The more we chew, the sweeter our food becomes, so we don’t crave those after-meal sweets.
·       Chewing reduces digestive distress and improves assimilation, allowing our bodies to absorb maximum nutrition from each bite of food.
·       More chewing produces more endorphins, the brain chemicals responsible for creating good feelings.
·       It’s also helpful for weight loss, because when we are chewing well, we are more apt to notice when we are full.
·       In fact, chewing can promote increased circulation, enhanced immunity, increased energy and endurance, as well as improve skin health and stabilize weight.
·       Taking time with a meal, beginning with chewing, allows for enjoyment of the whole experience of eating: the smells, flavors and textures. It helps us to give thanks, to show appreciation for the abundance in our lives and to develop patience and self-control.

The power of chewing is so great that there are stories of concentration camp survivors who, when others could not, made it through with very little food by chewing their meager rations up to 300 times per bite of food. For most of us 300 chews is a daunting and unrealistic goal. However, you can experience the benefits of chewing by increasing to 30 chews per bite. Try it and see how you feel.

Try eating without the TV, computer, Blackberry, newspaper or noisy company. Instead just pay attention to the food and to how you are breathing and chewing.

This kind of quiet can be disconcerting at first, since we are used to a steady stream of advertising, news, media, email and demands from others. But as you create a new habit, you will begin to appreciate eating without rushing. You have to eat every day—why not learn to savor and enjoy it?

Food Focus: Quinoa
Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), is a nutritional powerhouse with ancient origins. It was originally cultivated by the Incas more than 5,000 years ago; they referred to it as the “mother of all grains.” It contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a great source of protein for vegetarians. Quinoa is also high in magnesium, fiber, calcium, phosphorus, iron, copper, manganese, riboflavin and zinc.

While quinoa is widely considered a grain, it’s actually the seed of a plant called Chenopodium or Goosefoot, related to chard and spinach. Quinoa is a gluten-free grain and has a similar effect as other whole grains in helping to stabilize blood sugar.

It has a waxy protective coating called saponin which can leave a bitter taste. For best results, rinse quinoa before you cook it or even soak it for a few hours or overnight. When cooked, it has a fluffy, slightly crunchy texture. Try it in soups, salads, as a breakfast porridge or as its own side dish.

For quinoa, and whole grains in general, the majority of digestion occurs in the mouth through chewing and exposure to saliva. For optimal nutrition and assimilation, it is vital to chew your grains well and with awareness. A great meditation is to find a calm place, without distractions, to sit down for your meal. Make it a habit to chew each bite 20 times or more. See how this simple practice can help your digestion and overall focus for the rest of your day.

Recipe of the Month: Quinoa Pilaf
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cooking Time: 30-40 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa
2 1/4 cups water or stock
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup walnut pieces (or almonds)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
pinch of salt

Directions:
1.   Rinse quinoa in fine mesh strainer until water runs clear.
2.   Boil the water and add quinoa and salt, cover and reduce heat.
3.   After 15 minutes add cranberries and walnuts to top; do not stir.
4.   Cook 5 minutes more, until all the liquid is absorbed.
5.   Remove from heat, add parsley and fluff with fork, cover and let sit for 3-5 minutes and serve.

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Thursday, February 2, 2012

February Newsletter



Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love.
-Rumi

 

Soul Food

Think for a moment of a food from your past, one that makes you feel great after you eat it for no specific reason. Maybe it is macaroni and cheese, slow-simmered tomato sauce, ice cream cones or potato pancakes. Eating comfort foods (every now and then) can be incredibly healing, even though your rational brain might not consider it highly nutritious.

Food has the power to impact us on a level deeper than just our physical well-being. What we eat can reconnect us to precious memories, like childhood playtimes, first dates, holidays, our grandmother’s cooking or our country of ancestry. Our bodies remember foods from the past on an emotional and cellular level. Eating this food connects us to our roots and has youthening and nurturing effects that go far beyond the food’s biochemical make-up.

Acknowledging what different foods mean to us is an important part of cultivating a good relationship with food. This month when we celebrate lovers and relationships, it’s important to notice that we each have a relationship with food—and that this relationship is often far from loving. Many of us restrict food, attempting to control our weight. We often abuse food, substituting it for emotional well-being. Others ignore food, swallowing it whole before we’ve even tasted it.

What would your life be like if you treated food and your body as you would treat your beloved – with gentleness, playfulness, communication, honesty, respect and love? The next time you eat your soul food, do so with awareness and without guilt, and enjoy all the healing and nourishment it brings you.

Food Focus: Beans
Beans, or legumes, including peas and lentils, are an excellent source of plant-based protein. Beans are found in most traditional cultures as a staple food, offering grounding and strengthening properties that enhance endurance. They offer a highly usable, highly absorbable source of calcium for the body. A very inexpensive source of high nutrition, beans can be rich, delicious and satisfying,

Lack of sexual energy is often due to overtaxed adrenal glands and kidneys. Beans are known for strengthening these organs (ever noticed the shape of a bean?) and can help restore vital energy as well as sexual energy.

Beans have a reputation for causing digestive distress, but this is usually because they have been undercooked or improperly prepared. To help reduce gas-forming properties, soak beans overnight prior to cooking, increase cooking time, add spices like bay leaf, oregano or cumin, or add kombu (a sea vegetable) when cooking.

Recipe of the Month: Easy Crockpot Beans 
Prep time: 2 minutes
Cooking time: 5-6 hours
Yield: 4-5 cups

Step 1: Measure out 1 cup of dried beans (I do pinto or black beans)

Step 2: Add the beans to the crockpot and cover with about 2 inches of water. At this point you can add a couple of bay leaves or spices. I sometimes throw in a 1/4 of an onion for flavor. Do not add salt while they are cooking. If you want to salt them, wait until they are done cooking. 

Step 3: Cook on high for 5-6 hours. Drain in a strainer when done. 

Step 4: Enjoy right away or put one cup portions in containers or ziploc bags in the freezer. When you are ready to use the frozen beans, dump them into a strainer and run some warm water over them. They will start to fall apart quickly and then you can heat them in a pan over medium until warm. 





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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Chocolate Lava Cakes for my Birthday....

I found a recipe that I was so excited to try. What better excuse to make something so decadent than my birthday?! Well....it was a bust! Totally diappointing. My kids, of course, loved it. My father in law ate his, but the rest of us had a few bites before stopping. It wasn't very sweet and the "lava" was just gross. Oh well....we have a few birthdays coming up in our house to try out a new recipe! Ian had fun helping me make it. :)






Thursday, January 26, 2012

Baked Coconut Shrimp

Although we don't eat much meat around our house, we do like to have shrimp once in awhile. When the Oregon Ducks were playing in the Rose Bowl, we had my sister in law over to watch the game. Instead of making a traditional dinner, I decided to make a bunch of appetizers. I, of course, had to find healthy versions of some family favorites. I checked out some of my "go to" recipe blogs and picked a few. The one I share here is from http://www.skinnytaste.com/


Ingredients:
  • 1 lb (24) large shrimp, peeled and deviened (weight after peeled)
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp shredded sweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp panko crumbs
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour (you will only use 1 tbsp)
  • 1 large egg
  • pinch salt
  • non-stick spray (I used my misto)

For the Sweet and Spicy Dipping Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup apricot preserves (you can use sugar free if you wish)
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 3/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425°. Spray a non-stick baking sheet with cooking spray.

Combine coconut flakes, panko crumbs and salt in a bowl. Place the flour on a small dish. Whisk egg in another bowl.

Lightly season shrimp with salt. Dip the shrimp in the flour, shaking off excess, then into the egg, then in the coconut crumb mixture.




Lay shrimp on the cookie sheet then spray the top of the shrimp with more cooking spray; bake in the middle rack for about 10 minutes. Turn shrimp over then cook another 6-7 minutes or until cooked though. Remove from oven and serve with dipping sauce.

For the sauce, combine all the ingredients and place in a small bowl.




These were absolutely delicious and everyone loved them! They were nice and crunchy and the sauce was the perfect mix of sweet and spicy.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

January Newsletter

True life is lived when tiny changes occur.
-Leo Tolstoy

New Year, New You
A lot of people begin the New Year by making resolutions. We’ve all been there. We take a vow to lose weight, exercise more or spend more time with our family. We start the year with great intentions, but then we quickly relapse into old habits. Why is it so hard to stick to those New Year’s resolutions?
Here are some ways you can make your intentions a reality this year:
1.     Write down your intentions and keep them in a visible place, like taped to your bedroom mirror or the dashboard of your car.
2.     Get to the source of whatever is keeping you in a rut. Are you in a stressful relationship that causes you to eat a pint of Ben & Jerry’s every night? Are you stressed at your job and feel too tired to exercise after work?  If you don’t tackle the root of the behavior, it will be much harder to accomplish your goal.
3.     Be clear about what your life would look like once you achieve your goal. If you resolve to go to the gym more, how will this benefit you? Get connected to the result of your action, and you will be more likely to stick with your plan.
4.     Share your resolutions with friends and family. Hold each other accountable for achieving your goals. If you want to go to the gym more, have a friend call you two or three times a week to check on you or invite them to join you.
5.     Reward yourself with every little accomplishment. If your intention is to lose weight and you lose 1 pound a week, pamper yourself with a massage.
Big changes do not require big leaps. Permanent change is more likely to happen gradually than through one big restrictive plan. Allow yourself to climb the ladder one rung at a time.
Happy New Year!


Recipe of the Month: Pineapple Basil Quinoa

1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup diced pineapple
2T fresh basil leaves, chopped


Cook quinoa as directed in chicken broth. Add pineapple and basil. Presto! Now you have a quick, healthy and delicious side dish or a light meal.


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    Monday, December 12, 2011

    December Newsletter

    Don’t compromise yourself. You are all you’ve got.

    -Janis Joplin

    Beautiful Body Types

    Almost all of us have a distorted image of our body, often due to the importance our culture places on outward appearance and the onslaught of media images of airbrushed models and celebrities. On a daily basis, we talk to ourselves in ways we would never speak to another. Imagine speaking to a child the way you speak to yourself about your body. It would devastate and squelch a child. It affects you similarly, causing stress and emotional pain in your body, which can make improving your health or losing weight even more difficult.

    Think of all the intelligence, creativity and time you spend on improving, altering and judging your appearance. Who would you be and what could you accomplish if your valuable resources weren’t used this way? Constant emphasis on the external makes us discount the great presence and intelligence that is housed by the body. It makes us forget the magic of our internal rhythms and fail to acknowledge the beautiful bodies we have.

    The body you have right now is incredible! It never misses a heartbeat, it maintains homeostasis and it miraculously digests whatever you put in it. It is your instrument for expressing your creativity, intelligence and love. By focusing on the 1% you don’t like or wish were different, you may be ignoring the remaining 99% about your body that is beautiful, unique and delightful.

    What would your life be like if you were simply at peace with the body you have? You may wish to make your body healthier and stronger, but could you do that out of love and respect for your body instead of the opposite? Could you begin to treat yourself with kindness, to limit the negative self-talk and to reconnect with your inner wisdom? Take a minute to imagine what that would feel like. It would mean celebrating your body rather than punishing it. It would mean nourishing your body rather than depriving it. It would mean a chance to watch your body flourish when treated with care and respect.

    Food Focus: Sweet Potatoes

    Sweet potatoes are on everyone’s mind this season. They seem to go hand in hand with the holidays, and fortunately, eating these and other sweet vegetables needn’t be limited to this time of year. Cravings for sweets can be greatly reduced by adding sweet vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, yams, parsnips, beets, squash, turnips and rutabagas to your daily diet. Sweet potatoes elevate blood sugar gently rather than with the jolt delivered by simple refined carbohydrates, so there’s no energy crash after you eat them. Much higher in nutrients than white potatoes and especially rich in vitamin A, sweet potatoes offer a creamy consistency that is satisfying and soothing. They are healing to the stomach, spleen, pancreas and reproductive organs and help to remove toxins from the body. They can increase the quantity of milk in lactating women and can lessen cramps and premenstrual symptoms. If you don’t have any sweet potatoes in your kitchen, go out and buy some (organic and local if possible) and make the recipe below.





    Recipe of the Month: Sweet Potatoes with Lime and Cilantro
    This recipe is an eye-opener for those who find sweet potatoes cloyingly sweet or those who are tired of eating them smothered in marshmallows and brown sugar. Japanese sweet potatoes, with their pale flesh and delicate flavor, are a treat if you can find them.

    Prep time: 10 minutes
    Cooking time: 30-40 minutes
    Yield: 4 servings

    Ingredients:
    4 sweet potatoes
    1/2 bunch fresh cilantro
    2-3 limes
    butter or olive oil, salt (optional)

    Directions:
    1.   Wash the sweet potatoes and bake them whole, in their skins, at 375 degrees until tender, about 40 minutes.
    2.   Wash and chop cilantro leaves.
    3.   When sweet potatoes are done, slit open the skin and place on serving plate. Season with salt and dots of butter or a sprinkle of oil, if you like, then squeeze fresh lime juice all over, and shower with cilantro leaves.





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    Wednesday, November 23, 2011

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    So, tomorrow is the big day. As we prepare for the biggest meal of the year, I thought I would post some tips for keeping you from totally over indulging at your Thanksgiving dinner.

    • Remember the reason for Thanksgiving-remind yourself of all that you are grateful for and enjoy the company you are with.
    • Start your day off on the right foot with a bowl of whole grain oatmeal, a green smoothie (gotta get in those greens!), or some eggs scrambled with veggies.
    • Make sure there is a veggie platter where you are spending the holiday. If someone else isn't bringing it, volunteer to bring it yourself. What a better way to snack than on fresh, raw vegetables?
    • Cut back on the butter and sugar. Most recipes call for too much of both. Play with your recipes to see where you can skimp without losing flavor. You will be surprised! 
    • This is not the "last meal". You don't need to stuff yourself to the point of discomfort. Eat a small portion of each dish and take leftovers if you want more. It doesn't need to all be consumed in one sitting!
    • Get moving! Some families play flag football together while others go for a family walk. If your family doesn't have a tradition yet, now is the time to start one!



    Wherever you are spending Thanksgiving this year, I wish you all a safe, happy holiday enjoyed with those that mean the most to you!