Month: January 2014

10 Super Bowl Snack Attack Recipes

If the rumors are true, this year’s Super Bowl commercials will beat out last year’s (which shouldn’t be too hard), but it’ll be tough to beat the excitement of last year’s game!

IMG_1058

As one of the biggest food days of the year approaches, many of us are putting together our Super Bowl menus and deciding what our contribution will be to the ultimate game day potluck.

Why not try something new this year? Something delicious…and nourishing.

Check out these healthy, party-friendly recipes, and let me know if you try any out for yourself. Enjoy!

  1. Best Guacamole Ever (& a Video!) by Cooking Stoned
  2. Super Easy Kale Chips (Basic, Italian & Japanese versions!) by Elizabeth Rider
  3. Chipotle Roasted Chickpeas by Half Baked Harvest
  4. Better Than Store-bought Hummus by Inspired Taste
  5. Paleo Bang Bang Shrimp by Paleo Fondue
  6. Homemade Salsa by Lexi’s Clean Kitchen
  7. Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries by Nom Nom Paleo
  8. 4-Bean Chili by Crackers on the Couch
  9. Spicy Black Bean Hummus by FitSugar
  10. TexMex Dip by Gracious Pantry

Do you have any favorite healthy game day recipes to share?

Feel free to let everyone know in the comment section below!

Eat Your GBOMBS!…The Top 6 Immune & Health-Boosting Foods

As much as we have complicated what it means to eat healthy, some wonderful people have dedicated their lives to come up with ways to simplify it.

During one of my lectures in nutrition school, I learned a simple acronym from Dr. Joel Fuhrman (#1 New York Times bestselling author and board-certified family physician specializing in nutritional medicine) that has stuck with me ever since.

The acronym represents a group of the most nutrient-dense, disease-fighting, immune-boosting, health-promoting foods in the world, foods we should eat a lot of on a daily basis.

I’m going to get a little nerdy here for a second. I had never heard this information before, and it transformed the way I looked at these foods.

Angiogenesis is the formation of new blood vessels. Tumors (and fat cells) need blood vessels to grow, replicate and spread.

The foods I’m about to share with you contain compounds called angiogenesis inhibitors. These compounds are designed to prevent the formation of new blood vessels, thereby stopping or slowing the growth or spread of abnormal cells, like tumors, and protecting the body against fat storage.

Certain cancer drugs contain angiogenesis inhibitors, but these compounds also occur naturally in dozens of plants! 

The good news? You’re probably already familiar with these foods…but, chances are you aren’t eating enough of them and may not have known just how good for you they are.

Okay, you’ve waited long enough! Ready for the acronym?

G-BOMBS (Greens, Beans, Onions, Mushrooms, Berries, Seeds)

Check out my video series on YouTube about each one. This video sums up the gist of why GBOMBS are so good for us, but I also outline that info below 🙂

Let’s break it down.

G = Greens

IMG_2641Sources: spinach, broccoli, cabbage, kale, collard greens, arugula, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, romaine lettuce, Swiss chard, beet greens, red and green leaf lettuce, bok choy…and many others!

Nice to know: Chew them thoroughly (inhaling a salad won’t give you the full effect of the nutrients) to break down the cell walls of these plants in order to release their immune-boosting  and anti-cancer effects.

BONUS: Per calorie, leafy green veggies have more nutrients than any other food, and they can be consumed in virtually limitless quantities. If you remember only one thing, remember to eat more leafy greens!

B = Beans

Sources: lentils, kidney beans, black beans, adzuki (aduki) beans, pinto beans, chickpeas, black-eye peas, cannellini beans, navy beans, split peas

Nice to know: It’s super cheap to buy dried beans and cook them yourself. As a time-saving strategy, we usually buy cooked Eden brand beans because they come in BPA-free cans and are prepared with kombu, which is a seaweed that makes the beans easier to digest. Cooking beans with a thumb-size piece of kombu will reduce their not-so-pleasant gassy effects. “Beans! Beans! Good for your heart, the more you eat…” well, you know the rhyme!

O = Onions

Sources: red, yellow, and white onions, shallots, garlic, scallions, leeks

Nice to know: These give food a TON of flavor, so use them liberally (and bring a toothbrush!)! Just like with greens, the disease-fighting compounds are released when we chop, crush, or chew them, so remember to chew them well.

M = Mushrooms

IMG_2653

Sources: white, cremini, Portobello, oyster, shiitake, maitake, reishi, trumpet, chanterelle

Nice to know: Raw mushrooms should always be cooked to get rid of the mild toxins they contain. They taste great sauteed, roasted, and mixed into soups, stews and sauces.

B = Berries

IMG_2632IMG_2633

Sources: blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, pomegranates

Nice to know: Don’t wash them until you are ready to eat them. Store a piece of paper towel in the container with them to reduce moisture and prevent spoilage. We buy a big bag of organic frozen mixed berries at BJs Wholesale Club for under $10! Berries are one of the most contaminated fruits, so it is best to buy them organic.

S = Seeds (and nuts)

Sources: sunflower seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, macadamia nuts, pecans, Brazil nuts, walnuts, almonds

Nice to know: Buying raw nuts and seeds in bulk can save money. Store nuts and seeds in glass jars in your refrigerator or in a consistently cool, dark place. They contain delicate oils that can go bad (rancid) when left out in warm and/or variable temperatures.

The body is amazing. It’s smart. It was innately designed to resist disease and be immune to viruses and bacteria with proper nutrition.

Upgrade your nutrition by adding in one (or more!) GBOMBS at your next meal.

I’ll be posting some of my favorite GBOMBS recipes in another post later this week, so stay tuned!

Eat-to-Live-book-coverSuper Immunity_bookcoveFor more details and references to all of the studies that back up this information, check out this link on Dr. Fuhrman’s website. You could also read one of his books – Eat to Live and Super Immunity. I’ve read both and learned so much from him. These books (and the testimonials of the people in them) could literally transform your life!

Eat Your GBOMBS!…The Top 6 Immune & Health-Boosting Foods

As much as we have complicated what it means to eat healthy, some wonderful people have dedicated their lives to come up with ways to simplify it.

During one of my lectures in nutrition school, I learned a simple acronym from Dr. Joel Fuhrman (#1 New York Times bestselling author and board-certified family physician specializing in nutritional medicine) that has stuck with me ever since.

The acronym represents a group of the most nutrient-dense, disease-fighting, immune-boosting, health-promoting foods in the world, foods we should eat a lot of on a daily basis.

I’m going to get a little nerdy here for a second. I had never heard this information before, and it transformed the way I looked at these foods.

Angiogenesis is the formation of new blood vessels. Tumors (and fat cells) need blood vessels to grow, replicate and spread.

The foods I’m about to share with you contain compounds called angiogenesis inhibitors. These compounds are designed to prevent the formation of new blood vessels, thereby stopping or slowing the growth or spread of abnormal cells, like tumors, and protecting the body against fat storage.

Certain cancer drugs contain angiogenesis inhibitors, but these compounds also occur naturally in dozens of plants! 

The good news? You’re probably already familiar with these foods…but, chances are you aren’t eating enough of them and may not have known just how good for you they are.

Okay, you’ve waited long enough! Ready for the acronym?

G-BOMBS (Greens, Beans, Onions, Mushrooms, Berries, Seeds)

Check out my video series on YouTube about each one. This video sums up the gist of why GBOMBS are so good for us, but I also outline that info below 🙂

Let’s break it down.

G = Greens

IMG_2641Sources: spinach, broccoli, cabbage, kale, collard greens, arugula, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, romaine lettuce, Swiss chard, beet greens, red and green leaf lettuce, bok choy…and many others!

Nice to know: Chew them thoroughly (inhaling a salad won’t give you the full effect of the nutrients) to break down the cell walls of these plants in order to release their immune-boosting  and anti-cancer effects.

BONUS: Per calorie, leafy green veggies have more nutrients than any other food, and they can be consumed in virtually limitless quantities. If you remember only one thing, remember to eat more leafy greens!

B = Beans

Sources: lentils, kidney beans, black beans, adzuki (aduki) beans, pinto beans, chickpeas, black-eye peas, cannellini beans, navy beans, split peas

Nice to know: It’s super cheap to buy dried beans and cook them yourself. As a time-saving strategy, we usually buy cooked Eden brand beans because they come in BPA-free cans and are prepared with kombu, which is a seaweed that makes the beans easier to digest. Cooking beans with a thumb-size piece of kombu will reduce their not-so-pleasant gassy effects. “Beans! Beans! Good for your heart, the more you eat…” well, you know the rhyme!

O = Onions

Sources: red, yellow, and white onions, shallots, garlic, scallions, leeks

Nice to know: These give food a TON of flavor, so use them liberally (and bring a toothbrush!)! Just like with greens, the disease-fighting compounds are released when we chop, crush, or chew them, so remember to chew them well.

M = Mushrooms

IMG_2653

Sources: white, cremini, Portobello, oyster, shiitake, maitake, reishi, trumpet, chanterelle

Nice to know: Raw mushrooms should always be cooked to get rid of the mild toxins they contain. They taste great sauteed, roasted, and mixed into soups, stews and sauces.

B = Berries

IMG_2632IMG_2633

Sources: blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, pomegranates

Nice to know: Don’t wash them until you are ready to eat them. Store a piece of paper towel in the container with them to reduce moisture and prevent spoilage. We buy a big bag of organic frozen mixed berries at BJs Wholesale Club for under $10! Berries are one of the most contaminated fruits, so it is best to buy them organic.

S = Seeds (and nuts)

Sources: sunflower seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, macadamia nuts, pecans, Brazil nuts, walnuts, almonds

Nice to know: Buying raw nuts and seeds in bulk can save money. Store nuts and seeds in glass jars in your refrigerator or in a consistently cool, dark place. They contain delicate oils that can go bad (rancid) when left out in warm and/or variable temperatures.

The body is amazing. It’s smart. It was innately designed to resist disease and be immune to viruses and bacteria with proper nutrition.

Upgrade your nutrition by adding in one (or more!) GBOMBS at your next meal.

I’ll be posting some of my favorite GBOMBS recipes in another post later this week, so stay tuned!

Eat-to-Live-book-coverSuper Immunity_bookcoveFor more details and references to all of the studies that back up this information, check out this link on Dr. Fuhrman’s website. You could also read one of his books – Eat to Live and Super Immunity. I’ve read both and learned so much from him. These books (and the testimonials of the people in them) could literally transform your life!

This Is Community

Growing up, I preferred being alone more than being with other people.

It’s not because I didn’t like people; I was just super shy and introverted and felt safer and more comfortable in my own company than I did with others.

As I’ve mentioned before, studying abroad in Spain my junior year of college left an indelible mark on me, expanding my palate beyond what I ever thought possible.  It also transformed my social tendency to prefer being alone.

IMG_0705

The Hispanic culture is a very social one. I was surrounded by people all of the time and rarely had the opportunity to be by myself.  When I returned from my semester abroad, instead of spending all of my weekday evenings hunkered down in the library reading, studying or writing, I began to value and enjoy staying up until 2:00 a.m. playing cards, baking, listening to music, and hanging out with my friends.

For the first time in my life, I wanted to be around people more than I wanted to be alone.

Graduating from college and leaving the academic world for the first time two years later was frightening for meAll of my identity was wrapped up in how well I performed as a student and whether I got good grades.

I had just started my first dating relationship, moved out of my parents’ house and into an apartment with someone I didn’t know, and was working two jobs. In the midst of all of those transitions, I felt alone, lonely, and sad. I lacked community.

My then-boyfriend (now husband!) and I went through some challenging times as individuals and as a couple as we sought to establish new connections and find community.

Over the past seven years, we have been blessed by the generous, loving, supportive community of family, friends, church members, and co-workers that surrounds us.

We have experienced the significance of what it means to be in community.

When a couple in our church has a baby or is going through a challenging time, and dozens of people sign up to bring them dinners for two months…

This is community.

IMG_1279

When we sign up for a missions trip to Nicaragua as we are buying our first house and don’t know where the almost $3,000 we need for the trip will come from but end up being fully funded

This is community.

When a kitchen sink pipe starts leaking the day we move into our new house, and our next door neighbor (who happens to be a plumber) offers us his industrial air blower to dry out the floor and replaces the pipe for half of what it would have cost elsewhere…

This is community.

When our bus gets stuck in the mud in an impoverished village in Nicaragua as we are on our way to a feeding center, and the villagers stop what they are doing to find rope to pull us out, dig their heels into the mud to push from behind, and bring whatever precious water they can find to help us clean ourselves up afterwards…

This is community.

When my husband has hand surgery and can’t drive his manual transmission car for a month, and four friends eagerly offer to lend us theirs…

IMG_2997

This is community.

And days later, when a snowstorm comes through, and our next-door neighbors take it upon themselves to shovel out our walkway, sidewalk and driveway, as they tell us, “We know your husband can’t use his hand. We take care of you.”

This is community.

This is what happens when we are in community. We were meant to be in community. 

So, what does this have to do with food?

As I’ve written before, we believe good health begins in the kitchen. It’s a place of connection, community, and comfort.

Unique communities around the world identified as “Blue Zones” are home to the world’s longest lived people, people living active, fulfilling lives well into their 90s and even 100s. Belonging to some kind of faith-based community, being in a social circle that supports healthy behaviors, and eating a plant-centric diet are three of the nine lessons learned from people who live to be 100+.

The next time you have an opportunity to spend time with friends, family or even a coworker, create community in the kitchen. Make a healthy, nourishing meal together. You don’t have to have a fancy kitchen or be an experienced chef to do this – maybe a pot, a pan and a knife, or some of these inexpensive kitchen staples.

Pick out the menu, go grocery shopping, prepare the meal, and savor the food together. It will be more enjoyable than doing it by yourself. Do that enough times and maybe cooking will become something you get to do instead of something you have to do.

Looking for some healthy recipe inspirations? Check out my Pinterest board or some of the links below for ideas!

  • Kath Eats Real Food: Real food. Nothing processed here. Delicious and simple ingredients and recipes…check them out!
  • Girl Makes Food: Discover how delicious and easy healthy food can be!
  • Clean Food: Terry Walters cooks seasonally and prepares delicious, nourishing recipes. I have her cookbook, Clean Food, and we have made nearly a dozen delicious recipes from it!
  • Healthy Girl’s Kitchen: After struggling with diet obsessions for years, Wendy has lost and kept off over 40 pounds through a plant-based diet. Check out her awesome recipes!
  • The Gracious Pantry: Clean eating recipes for everyday living.
  • oh she glows: In addition to being meat and dairy-free, many of Angela’s recipes are free of gluten, soy, and processed foods…did I mention they are also delicious?

5 Must-Have Kitchen Gadgets for Under $20

As I’ve spent more time in the kitchen over the past few years, I’ve learned that one of the secrets to preparing healthy meals is having the right tools.

We can have the best of intentions in making healthy food, but if we don’t have the tools we need, food prep and cooking can become time-consuming and frustrating instead of quick and enjoyable.

Remember the show Inspector Gadget?  He had gadgets for just about everything! Fortunately, we don’t need to get super techy (or spend a ton of money) on lots of fancy gadgets to get the job done in the kitchen.

Here are 5 of our absolute favorite, must-have kitchen gadgets, some of which we use on a daily basis! Oh yeah, and did I mention they are all under $20?

Kitchen Gadgets

  1. AvoSaver: Tired of throwing away avocado halves that turn brown just hours after you’ve cut into them? If so, you’ll want to get one of these. The AvoSaver slows down the browning process, so your cut avocado half stays fresh longer! I bought mine at Harry & David, but you can get it on Amazon, too…for less than $10! I pop it in my lunchbox and have an avocado half ready to go as a salad topper at work.
  2. Rocker Garlic CrusherMy first attempt at using a garlic press was a bit of a fail and resulted in me spending about 10 minutes picking out the garlic pieces by hand. Frustrated, I went back to mincing with a knife but didn’t like how sticky the garlic would make my fingers. I stumbled upon this little gem in Sur la Table (=kitchen heaven). Just press the crusher onto a garlic clove, rock back and forth, and scoop out crushed garlic to use in your recipe! Invest in the stainless steel one ($15). We made the mistake of getting the plastic one the first time, and it snapped within a few months.
  3. OXO Good Grips Citrus Squeezer: We love lemons (and limes) and use lemon juice in recipes or mixed in with some warm water just about every day. Lemons have amazing health benefits, and this handy gadget quickly and easily gives us fresh lemon or lime juice without the hassle of picking out seeds. If you want another option, we bought this one for my dad for Christmas, and he has raved about it since!
  4. Rada Cutlery Chef’s Dicer: One of the misconceptions about cooking is that you have to spend lots of money on knives. Sure, if you have some extra cash to spend, it’s wise to invest in a good chef’s knife, but one of the greatest deals we’ve snagged in our kitchen is this dicing knife. We found out about it when we read The 4-Hour Chef by Tim Ferris (a highly recommended book!). We use it to chop everything from onions to sweet potatoes, and it does a fantastic job. For under $15, this is one knife you’ll want to add to your collection!
  5. OXO Good Grips Digital Instant Read Thermometer: I can’t tell you the number of people I’ve talked to who say, “I can’t cook chicken or fish. I always overcook it.” If you’re tired of cutting into that piece of chicken, steak or fish multiple times (thereby butchering it) to check for doneness, do yourself a favor and invest in a simple digital thermometer. We got one as a wedding gift and use it every time we cook meat or fish, and it works like a charm. No more overcooked salmon for us!

I’ll write about more of our favorite kitchen tools in future posts, but in the meantime, I’d love to hear from you! What are some of your favorite kitchen gadgets?

Happy cooking!

5 of My Favorite Sweet Treat Recipes!

One of my favorite books that really simplifies how to eat real food is Michael Pollan’s Food Rules. I love what he has to say about junk food.food-rules-cover-484

Rule #45: Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.

Let’s be honest. If every time we wanted fries, baked goods or ice cream we had to cook them ourselves, we would eat a lot less of those foods. It would truly be a treat when we ate them instead of something we can easily do every day thanks to modern food manufacturing.

In college, I was given the nickname “Betty Crocker” by a group of my husband’s fraternity brothers and roommates because of all of the baked goods I made for them, including my specialties of cookies and cream brownies and half-inch thick chocolate chip cookies.

Now that I’m focused on nourishing my body (and my friends and family) with wholesome, minimally processed or refined foods, I take a different approach to baking.

As I’ve learned more about how to cook and bake in a healthier way, I’ve discovered that a variety of foods found in nature are sweet, minimally (if at all) processed AND delicious, including fruit, dates, raw honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, applesauce, and blackstrap molasses, to name a few. They are great substitutes to use in recipes that call for highly refined white sugar.

IMG_2487

Like any sweet treat, these are meant to be enjoyed occasionally, not every day, because the more sugar we consume, the more our bodies will crave. In fact, many of us are literally addicted to it.  Two of the keys to curbing a sugar addiction are to minimize our sugar intake and make sure we are eating enough nutrient-rich whole food at regular intervals, so our bodies feel nutritionally satisfied.

Many of the sweet treat recipes I prepare will often include fiber, which helps the sugar in the food release more slowly into the bloodstream, giving your liver more time to metabolize the food.

I like to think of food choices on a continuum of “Good, Better, Best.” All of these options are better choices than grabbing a box or bag of sweets with long lists of ingredients we can’t pronounce. 

Here are links to 5 of my favorite tried and true sweet treat recipes!

IMG_2331IMG_2605IMG_0114IMG_2631

  1. Homemade Rolos (oh she glows) I LOVED Rolos growing up. I made these last night for dessert, and they were gone by the time we finished playing Catchphrase! I used Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips because they only have 3 ingredients and are gluten, dairy, and soy free (you find them at Target, Wegmans, Whole Foods, and MOMs). oh she glows is one of my absolute favorite blogs. Angela posts so many amazing and delicious recipes – from baked goods to side dishes and salads – and I’ve tried about a half dozen of them and will feature them in future posts.
  2. Chocolate Mint Truffles (Mind Body Green) – I made these for multiple holiday parties this year, and they were full of minty goodness. They’re vegan and don’t contain any processed sugar, but no one will know!
  3. Peanut Butter Granola Bars (The Family Vegan) – This recipe is from the Forks Over Knives Cookbook, which my hubby gave me as a gift for Christmas. We have already made 10 delicious recipes from the book this year, so I can’t recommend it enough!
  4. Almond Butter Dark Chocolate Cookies (Fast Paleo) – These are a great gluten and dairy-free alternative to chocolate chip cookies, and they are delicious! An alternative option is to use half raw honey and half maple syrup instead of using only honey. Sometimes I also do half peanut butter and half almond butter instead of only almond butter.  I use Enjoy Life chocolate chips in these as well, but you can skip the chips altogether, if you prefer, and add cranberries instead!
  5. Banana Bread Muffin Tops (oh she glows) – I just made these for the first time last week, and I really enjoyed them with walnuts and raisins!

Unfamiliar with some of the ingredients? Just do what we do, and buy them off of Amazon. They are usually cheaper there than anywhere else, and we get free 2-day shipping with our Amazon Prime Membership!

I would love to hear if you end up trying any of these recipes. Feel free to share them, and stay tuned for more!

Grocery Shopping? Get Fooducated!

In an ideal world, we would all eat organic, unrefined, unprocessed, pasture-raised, grass-fed, cage-free, real food all the time.

My husband, Bill, and I make it a priority to eat the highest quality of food we can afford as often as we can because when we do, we look and feel energized and healthy.

…but because we don’t live in an ideal world, we don’t always eat that way.

For many people, the idea of making that type of food transition is so overwhelming, they just give up.

Braxton

Change is hard. I’ve heard the only person who likes change is a baby in a wet diaper. I’m sure my 5-month old nephew can attest to that!

What if in the midst of feeling confused and frustrated about which bread, cereal or pasta to buy or how to know if a food contains harmful trans fats, artificial colors or genetically modified organisms (GMOs)

…there was a FREE mobile app that would tell us in seconds what was really in our food AND help us make the healthiest choice all by using a simple grading system that we learned in school?

We would find out pretty quickly that, despite what we’ve been led to believe by food marketers, Special K Honey Nut Cereal Bars (with a grade of C) probably aren’t the best choice, BUT we would also find out WHY and have the option to pull up a list of healthier alternatives.

The app? Fooducate.

The main version is FREE for iPhone and Droid and has lots of super cool features.

fooducate scrnshot

You can buy up to other versions within the basic free app if you have food allergies or sensitivities (gluten, milk, lactose, soy, peanuts, tree nuts eggs, fish and shellfish) and want the app to notify you if foods you scan contain those off-limits ingredients.

Several of my friends have recently been diagnosed with gluten sensitivities and intolerances, so I’m sure they would love to have a tool like this! By the way, stay tuned for future posts about food allergies, intolerances and sensitivities. They affect millions of people, and we often don’t even know it!

Sure, the app has its limitations, and buying foods that aren’t processed or refined is ideal, but overall, Fooducate is a helpful tool for making better food choices.

It might take you a little longer than usual to grocery shop the first few times you use it, but at least it’ll make it seem more like a game and less like a chore!

What’s Your Eggplant? Confessions of a Picky Eater

I haven’t always eaten this way.

Kale, millethemp seeds, quinoa, tahini, coconut oil, kombu, adzuki beans, cacao. 

What do all of those foods have in common? Well, I had no idea what they were for most of my life and would have refused to try any of them 10 years ago, but they have become staples in my diet.

I grew up enjoying the typical foods that many of us loved as kids – Kraft Mac & Cheese, Beefaroni, Spaghettios, Rice-a-Roni, Doritos (Cool Ranch, anyone?), Cheetos, Little Debbie cakes, Gushers, Fruit Roll-ups, Funyuns, Bugles, chicken fingers (BK > McDonald’s), hot dogs, yogurt, and, who can forget, pizza?

book it

Pizza Hut had it down – read lots of books, get free pizza. Well, I read a lot of books as a kid…so, I ate lots of pan pizza. Mmmm. The Book-It Program was my friend.

As a general rule, I avoided unfamiliar foods and was very picky.

To put it simply, I didn’t eat salads, soups, sandwiches (ok, except grilled cheese), seafood, sauces, or “weird” vegetables like eggplant, cabbage, or asparagus. Which left me with…well, the list above….and buttered egg noodles (with parmesan cheese, of course!). I did like certain cooked veggies, and I’ve always loved fruit…and plain chicken. Other than that, I didn’t exactly have a ton of variety in my diet.

I hit a turning point in 2004, my junior year of college, when I decided to study abroad in Granada, Spain.

What gave me the most anxiety about going abroad?

Not the travel, being away from home for 4 months, or fitting in with my host family…it was the food. I was terrified of trying new food.

IMG_0674

I read a book called Spain Is Different before leaving, and one of the things the author said was it was rude to reject food, even if you didn’t think you would like it. You HAD to at least try it and then say, “It’s not my favorite.”

Oh no. Bad news for the picky eater.

One night at dinner, my host mom, Matilde, put a dish in front of me. It looked kind of like thicker fried potato or squash slices, but I knew it wasn’t. I asked her what it was, and she told me, but speaking very little Spanish, I had no idea what she said. 

I hesitantly but bravely tried it…I had never tasted the flavors before, but I LIKED it. I was excited about my revelation but still curious about what I had just consumed.

After dinner, I went to my room and consulted my Spanish dictionary to find out what I had just eaten…I looked up “berenjena.” Shock overcame me as I read the definition…eggplant. Eggplant?! But I HATED eggplant…didn’t I?

That was a turning point in my picky eating tendency.

As I opened myself up to trying new foods, I realized I had written off so many that were actually delicious. While in Spain, I was introduced to lentils, fish, calamari, and other tasty food and am now a huge fan.

I’m really into lentils right now and just made this rich, hearty and yummy lentil chili last week (SO good!). Lentils are an awesome protein, fiber, vitamin and mineral source. They fill me up more than almost any other food…AND they are super cheap!

The transition to an unprocessed, unrefined whole food way of eating takes time and happens gradually.  But we have to be willing to at least TRY new things – to open ourselves up to the possibility that we might actually like them.

IMG_2659

If I had continued believing guacamole had mayonnaise in it (seriously, I believed this until about 3 years ago…until I saw someone actually make it), then I never would have grown to LOVE it (and avocados!) as much as I do today. I had to be willing to let go of my longstanding beliefs.

So, what’s your eggplant?

The next time you go to the grocery store, commit to picking out ONE healthy food (maybe a fruit, veggie, bean, nut, seed or grain?) that you have never tried before or have been hesitant to try.

A friend just messaged me the other day and said, “I bought some kale today. What do I do with it? Lol.” Well, my friend, you’ve come to the right place! 

Feel free to post below in the comment section and let me know if you try something new. I would love to hear from you!

What's Your Eggplant? Confessions of a Picky Eater

I haven’t always eaten this way.

Kale, millethemp seeds, quinoa, tahini, coconut oil, kombu, adzuki beans, cacao. 

What do all of those foods have in common? Well, I had no idea what they were for most of my life and would have refused to try any of them 10 years ago, but they have become staples in my diet.

I grew up enjoying the typical foods that many of us loved as kids – Kraft Mac & Cheese, Beefaroni, Spaghettios, Rice-a-Roni, Doritos (Cool Ranch, anyone?), Cheetos, Little Debbie cakes, Gushers, Fruit Roll-ups, Funyuns, Bugles, chicken fingers (BK > McDonald’s), hot dogs, yogurt, and, who can forget, pizza?

book it

Pizza Hut had it down – read lots of books, get free pizza. Well, I read a lot of books as a kid…so, I ate lots of pan pizza. Mmmm. The Book-It Program was my friend.

As a general rule, I avoided unfamiliar foods and was very picky.

To put it simply, I didn’t eat salads, soups, sandwiches (ok, except grilled cheese), seafood, sauces, or “weird” vegetables like eggplant, cabbage, or asparagus. Which left me with…well, the list above….and buttered egg noodles (with parmesan cheese, of course!). I did like certain cooked veggies, and I’ve always loved fruit…and plain chicken. Other than that, I didn’t exactly have a ton of variety in my diet.

I hit a turning point in 2004, my junior year of college, when I decided to study abroad in Granada, Spain.

What gave me the most anxiety about going abroad?

Not the travel, being away from home for 4 months, or fitting in with my host family…it was the food. I was terrified of trying new food.

IMG_0674

I read a book called Spain Is Different before leaving, and one of the things the author said was it was rude to reject food, even if you didn’t think you would like it. You HAD to at least try it and then say, “It’s not my favorite.”

Oh no. Bad news for the picky eater.

One night at dinner, my host mom, Matilde, put a dish in front of me. It looked kind of like thicker fried potato or squash slices, but I knew it wasn’t. I asked her what it was, and she told me, but speaking very little Spanish, I had no idea what she said. 

I hesitantly but bravely tried it…I had never tasted the flavors before, but I LIKED it. I was excited about my revelation but still curious about what I had just consumed.

After dinner, I went to my room and consulted my Spanish dictionary to find out what I had just eaten…I looked up “berenjena.” Shock overcame me as I read the definition…eggplant. Eggplant?! But I HATED eggplant…didn’t I?

That was a turning point in my picky eating tendency.

As I opened myself up to trying new foods, I realized I had written off so many that were actually delicious. While in Spain, I was introduced to lentils, fish, calamari, and other tasty food and am now a huge fan.

I’m really into lentils right now and just made this rich, hearty and yummy lentil chili last week (SO good!). Lentils are an awesome protein, fiber, vitamin and mineral source. They fill me up more than almost any other food…AND they are super cheap!

The transition to an unprocessed, unrefined whole food way of eating takes time and happens gradually.  But we have to be willing to at least TRY new things – to open ourselves up to the possibility that we might actually like them.

IMG_2659

If I had continued believing guacamole had mayonnaise in it (seriously, I believed this until about 3 years ago…until I saw someone actually make it), then I never would have grown to LOVE it (and avocados!) as much as I do today. I had to be willing to let go of my longstanding beliefs.

So, what’s your eggplant?

The next time you go to the grocery store, commit to picking out ONE healthy food (maybe a fruit, veggie, bean, nut, seed or grain?) that you have never tried before or have been hesitant to try.

A friend just messaged me the other day and said, “I bought some kale today. What do I do with it? Lol.” Well, my friend, you’ve come to the right place! 

Feel free to post below in the comment section and let me know if you try something new. I would love to hear from you!

Here goes nothing!

I’ve always been perfectionistic…waiting until everything was just right before taking a risk, gathering as much information as possible to make sure I was making an informed decision, and consulting more people than necessary to reduce the likelihood I would “mess up” or make a mistake. I have lived most of my life terrified of failing.

If I read just one more book or took another class or watched one more video, then maybe I would be ready…maybe then I would be enough.

What is enough anyway? That word has plagued me for as long as I can remember. Am I smart enough? Pretty enough? Happy enough? Healthy enough? Generous enough? Good enough? You get the point.

I’ve lived most of my life this way, taking calculated risks when I was just about certain I would benefit. People call people like me “control freaks”…my dad says I just have a “high need for certainty.” I’ll take the latter.

You’re never going to please everyone. I’m saying this to myself as much as I am to you. To some people, what you offer will be good enough, and to others, it won’t. The sooner you figure that out, the more content you’ll be.

So, in the spirit of “enough,” I’ve decided to take a risk…to feel the fear and do it anyway because I know what I am called to do with my life and I don’t want to wait another minute to have an impact.

Food, nutrition and health have fascinated me since childhood. Whether I was learning how to bake from my mom or my neighbor Miss Muriel, working at a produce stand in high school, or reading about trans fats in college (surely a popular topic of discussion among 18 year olds!), I loved learning whatever I could about food and nutrition.

Even though I considered myself healthy, back in 2010, I was carrying around over 20 pounds of extra weight, taking Prilosec on a daily basis for my acid reflux (since age 19!), and struggling with other digestive, sinus and respiratory issues I had had since I was a kid.

I saw a dozen doctors, was treated with countless rounds of antibiotics and had six ear and sinus surgeries by high school.  I even developed some adult acne in my early 20s.

No one talked about the possibility that food could be related to my symptoms. No one. They just gave me another pill, sent me to another specialist, performed another surgery.

I’ve spent the past year learning more than I ever thought possible about food and nutrition as I’ve become a health coach.  I’m still just scratching the surface, but I’m excited, and I’m ready.

So, here I am, at the start of my healing, deciding that what I can offer is enough. 

My hope is that you will benefit from what I’ve learned along my journey. Eating real food – food that our bodies were designed to eat – can be delicious, enjoyable, affordable, nourishing and healing. We can look and feel better, have more energy, and get sick less often.

It scares me to think of starting this blog without having everything in order or knowing how often I’m even going to post on here, but guess what? It’ll be good enough for some and not enough for others.

Here goes nothing!

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén

%d bloggers like this: