Month: January 2016

GBOMBS Spaghetti Squash Saute + How-To Video {Gluten-Free, Paleo}

I’ve been on a squash kick lately! From roasted butternut squash to creamy kabocha squash soup and even squash “pasta,” winter squash is one of my favorite foods because it’s versatile, delicious and nourishing.

Today we’re going to take a look at a squash that many of us have heard of before but might have been too intimidated to try making ourselves – spaghetti squash!

As someone who loved twirling pasta on my fork as a kid, this is a food that is fun to eat and play with…and it has lots of body-boosting benefits, too!

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Winter squash is packed with antioxidants that support our body from the inside out – vitamin A for our skin and eyes, vitamin C for antioxidant protection, fiber for fullness, and folate, a B vitamin that supports our body’s production of mood-boosting neurotransmitters.

For more info about the awesomeness of spaghetti squash, click here.

Now, I’m not going to lie to you and say that it tastes just like spaghetti (because it doesn’t…it’s a bit crunchier and a tad sweeter), BUT it does give you a similar experience and is basic enough to be paired with a variety of sauces – from pesto and marinara to pad Thai.

Check out my video below for the step-by-step instructions for how to prepare spaghetti squash and then buy some for yourself, so you can make one of the recipes below! It’s easier than you think 🙂 If you’re more of a picture person, check out this post I wrote for step-by-step pictures and directions.

I’ve included a recipe below for a winter veggie saute full of GBOMBS like shallots, garlic, dino kale, beans, berries and pumpkin seeds. Here are a few additional spaghetti squash recipes for you to try:

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Ingredients

1 large spaghetti squash
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon ghee (clarified butter) or coconut oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 shallots, sliced
1 bunch dino kale (AKA lacinato or Tuscan kale), destemmed and chopped
1/4 cups water
1 15-oz can no-salt added cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted
1 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar
Freshly cracked black pepper and sea salt to taste

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Slice a line down the length of the spaghetti squash, about a half-inch deep or make several slits round the squash to allow steam to release. It’s usually too hard to cut in half at this point unless you have a really good knife.
3. Put the squash in a 9 x 13 baking dish in the oven for 25 minutes, so it can soften enough to easily cut it in half. Remove squash from the oven and let it cool enough to handle it. Cut it in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon.
5. Put the squash cut-side down in the baking dish and fill the bottom of the dish with 1/2 cup water. Return squash to oven for about 30 minutes or until the squash easily pulls away from the shell. Let the squash cool and then scrape out the inside into strands with a fork.
6. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, sauté shallots in ghee (or oil) until fragrant, about 4-6 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 30-60 seconds. Add spaghetti squash, dino kale and 1/4 cup water and toss until the kale is wilted but bright green. Add beans and toss until heated through then add cranberries and pumpkin seeds. Remove from heat and sprinkle with 1 1⁄2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar.

Embrace the Gifts of “Snowing” Down

I’ve always been fascinated by what happens where I live when a snowstorm threatens.

Milk, bread, toilet paper and bottled water are nowhere to be found. The frozen section in the grocery store has been wiped out. And liquor stores enjoy a pre-blizzard bump in business as fears of wine shortages consume our minds. We prepare to hunker down for an indefinite amount of time, not knowing when our cars will be unburied or when the roads will be safe to drive.

But something else happens in the midst of a blizzard.

When Mother Nature decides to dump nearly three feet of snow on us in 24 hours, our chronic busyness, neverending to do lists, and work pressures suddenly become less important.

The weather has a way of causing us to slow down, or, in this case, “snow” down. It gives us time to focus more on what we really want to do and less on what we feel like we have to do.

We take time to think, play, read, explore, unwind, cook, laugh, and spend time with those closest to us. We actually see and talk to our neighbors…and meet new ones.

Over the past 48 hours, I’ve taken time to enjoy the gifts of “snowing” down. I wanted to share them with you to inspire you to make time for the things that matter, even after the threat of snow has subsided and we return to life as it was before.

Play. On Friday night, as Bill and I were preparing to watch what would end up being the complete series of Making a Murderer on Netflix, he asked, “Do you want to pull the mattress out into the living room while we watch TV?” No sooner had he asked then we were dragging our spare mattress, pillows and blankets out onto the living room floor to set up camp for the weekend. A small Nerf gun (yes, they still make them) also made its way into our time together that afternoon. I felt like a kid again doing something so fun and out of the ordinary.

Explore. On Saturday night, once it had stopped snowing, we trekked out into the fluffy white mounds and snow banks, wandering around the streets of Lutherville for over an hour. We walked in the middle of the unplowed road. We made our way to the park near our house, where we trudged knee-deep through the snow to get to the jungle gym and swing set. We slid down the slide into a snow pile, face planted while jumping off the swings, and made snow angels.

I remember staring up at the calm, gray sky, watching the clouds dance over the moon. It was the first time I noticed the beauty of the barren tree branches above my head and the stillness of the night. I thought to myself,

“This is the kind of stuff we’re supposed to notice. These are the moments when we’re fully present and connected to life.”

Read. I love to read and have since I was a kid. Reading gives me the opportunity to grow, learn, think, reflect, and dream. I have a thing for words and am always open to being inspired by them. During the past 48 hours, I finished Ariana Huffington’s Thrive, read most of the The Food-Mood Solution, and breezed through The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I recommend checking out all of them!

As I was reading through Thrive, I was reminded of the importance of slowing down and being present to what my body needs. Often, it’s rest.

Unwind. When we’re caught up in the frenetic pace of our lives and the feeling that there isn’t enough time to get everything done in a day, we tend to lose sight of the importance of rest. I made time to relax this weekend. I slept in. Sipped a half dozen cups of herbal tea. Took a nap on the couch. Decompressed in a lavender-infused epsom salt bath. Journaled in the comfy chair in my office with essential oils diffusing beside me.

It is so necessary to do this. Taking time to rest and relax is refreshing and helps us reset our body and mind.

Connect. It’s funny how we can live near people (several hundred feet from them) and never talk to them. In today’s world, most of us are coming and going in such a hurried way, we often overlook something as simple as getting to know our neighbors. Despite the fact that we have lived in our house for almost three years, we saw and talked to some of our neighbors more in the past 12 hours as we were shoveling than we had in the past six months. I grew up in a close-knit neighborhood where everyone knew and looked out for each other. I realize now as an adult how rare something like that is today and how I want more of it in my life.

I also reconnected with my web designer, the person who designed my logo (below!) and who will be helping me with the redesign of my website this spring. It had been on my mind to follow up with her for months, but having time this weekend was what I needed to make that phone call happen.

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Disconnect. Aside from Jimmy Fallon, Top Chef and The Voice, I don’t spend much time watching TV. With everything else that inspires and energizes my life, there isn’t much time left for it, but sometimes I just need to zone out. My husband and I binge-watched Netflix – all 10 episodes of Making a Murderer…in less than 18 hours. Quite a feat. (And, yes, it’s as addictive and fascinating as everyone says it is.)

Cook. It goes without saying that I love food, given what I do for a living and why I write this blog, but being cooped up in my house surrounded by food inspired me to get busy in the kitchen.

We made this savory Sweet Potato and Veggie Casserole and this warm and cozy Love In a Bowl White Bean & Fennel Soup

For something sweet, we whipped up Simple Mills chocolate cake topped with this fudgy peanut butter chocolate frosting and some crunchy cacao nibs and these banana oatmeal cookies from Pinterest (I added 1/4 tsp fine grain sea salt and about 1/3 cup chopped walnuts).

banana cookies

Release. All of us have a tendency to accumulate stuff. I’m a pile-stacker and sentimental packrat, but there can be so much freedom in taking time to purge stuff we no longer use. When we are forced to slow down and reflect on the space around us, we often start to notice what we need and what we can release.

As I was reading the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and reflecting on my own living space, I was inspired to ask myself the book’s core question to guide the decision about which things to keep in my life and which to discard:

Does this spark joy?

What a simple but profound concept.

I had recently done quite a bit of decluttering, but reading this prompted me to take a few additional steps immediately. I now have several more bags filled with “stuff” that doesn’t spark joy to give away, trash, or recycle. The space I’ve cleared out is now open for something else to enter my life. I’m excited to see what that is.

While it may take a snowstorm to slow us down, let’s continue to give ourselves the gifts we experience and enjoy during times like these.

Whether we’re playing, exploring, reading, unwinding, connecting, zoning out, cooking, or releasing what no longer serves us, let’s reconnect with what sparks joy in our lives and commit to doing more of that.

Let’s continue to embrace the gifts of “snowing” down.

Awaken Possibility: The Power of the 5-Year Letter

I come from a place of possibilities and a world of dreamers.

As the daughter of two entrepreneurs, I had the opportunity to grow up in a home where dreaming was encouraged and anything was possible.

My imagination ran wild as a result of my dad’s storytelling and my love of reading and writing. My mind was transported to an imaginary place on a daily basis, where I could create my own reality of what was possible, rather than be confined by what the world told me “should” be.

Watching both of my parents intentionally pursue careers that used their skills, harnessed their passions, and made a difference in the world has fueled the way I approach my own career.

One of the many lessons my dad has taught me is the importance of having an effective life rather than a “successful” life. Over the years, both he and my mom have equipped me with tools that have helped me vision and dream about what that can mean for me. I’ve seen them “go for it” and dream big dreams.

My parents are more in love than they’ve ever been and are entering the prime of their careers in their 60s.

They’ll be celebrating 36 years of marriage in August and have been through their own journey of ups and downs to build a loving, lasting marriage. I admire their resilience and devotion to one another and their relationship.

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My dad, Michael Bryant, started his own business out of the fourth bedroom of my childhood home with a college degree in Secondary Education with a concentration in American History. He helps organizations and individuals connect and function more effectively. He invites them to dream about what is possible.

Since turning 65 last year, he’s often been asked the question, “When are you going to retire?”

His reply: “Retire from what, to what? I’m already doing what I love.”

My mom, Nancy, pursued a career in the male-dominated finance industry. She has had her own business for over a decade and had her best year ever in 2015. In the midst of that, she raised three children, contributed to her faith community, and earned her Master’s degree. She leads an effective life and approaches her work with integrity, honesty and poise and her family with love, encouragement, and selflessness.

Dreaming big extends beyond my parents’ relationship and careers. Many of us limit ourselves physically and use age as an excuse to stop actively engaging in our own lives.

They don’t.

My mom learned to swim in her late 50s and started competing in triathlons at an age when most of her peers are starting to slow down. She swims, bikes and runs for fun. She looks at least ten years younger than she is.

My dad is going to be 66 this year and is preparing to train for his 6th Ironman triathlon as my husband, Bill, prepares for his first. An Ironman is a 2.4-mile swim followed by a 112-mile bike ride and topped off with a 26.2 race – a marathon.

The race is set to take place in Lake Placid, New York in July. Seeing my dad pursue what’s possible and set aside the excuse of age as a limitation inspires me to think about what is possible in my own life.

My dad has always inspired the work I do, and one of the exercises he recommends to cast a vision for the future is the 5-year letter. He and my mom use it to dream about their future, and it’s amazing to see how much of what they’ve written in the past has come to be.

If you’re looking for inspiration to “go for it” and unlock what’s possible in your own life, check out this video that I posted on my blog Facebook page and YouTube channel and give it a try yourself.

In a nutshell, here’s how it works. Pretend you’re writing a letter to someone and write the date on the top five years into the future. Start the letter with this prompt:

“The past five years have been the happiest five years of my life…”

Let your mind wander.

Silence the “Who do you think you are?” and “That can’t be done” critics in your head. 

Tell your logical mind to take a hike. 

Write until you have nothing left to write.

And give yourself permission to dream.

 

Yay for Tempeh! Why We Love This Plant-Based Protein

I had never heard of tempeh until about two years ago when I was about to enroll in a Culinary Nutrition program.

One of the recipes my instructor, Meghan Telpner, had on her blog that I was curious to try was for Orange Maple Tempeh.

orange maple

I had never heard of tempeh (say TEM-pay).

I had no idea what it was.

And I wasn’t exactly jumping to try it because it sounded and looked, well…weird. I haven’t always been one to try “weird” foods, but I had gotten to a point in my food journey that I was more open than ever before.

What’s the worst that could happen? I wouldn’t like it? I was okay with that.

The rest of the ingredients in the recipe sounded so good that we decided to gave it a shot.

I’m so glad we did! It’s now one of our FAVORITE dishes…including my meat-eater husband, Bill. This is one of his go-to meals. If we had only five meals in our rotation for the rest of our lives, this would be one both of us would pick.

So, what exactly IS tempeh?

Tempeh is made from fermented soybeans (keep reading!) and is an excellent source of easily digestible, plant-based protein (15 grams per 3 ounce serving!) and fill-you-up fiber. Tempeh is a probiotic food, so it helps our digestive system (AKA our “gut”) produce healthy bacteria.

Having a healthy, well-fed gut is important for a strong immune system, so we want to make sure we’re including probiotic-rich foods in our diet. As I’ve shared before, 70-80% of our IMMUNE SYSTEM sits in and around our digestive system, so what we eat is critically important to our overall health, well-being and feeling good.

Tempeh has a “meatier” and denser texture than tofu and a mild, nutty taste, so it feels more like meat in a recipe than tofu does. If you’re a tofu hater (I’m not a huge fan of it), then give tempeh a shot. Tempeh can be baked, sauteed, grilled, and chopped up to be added to things like chili, salads, and stews. It can be a little tricky to figure out how to work with it the first time, but this post from onegreenplanet breaks it down into 5 easy tips:

5 Tips for Making Amazing Tempeh Dishes

Another perk is that tempeh is also a LOT cheaper than meat. One block of tempeh at my local market (MOMs) is $3.00. Not a bad deal for something that can serve as the main dish of a meal. We always make sure to buy organic tempeh, since the majority of soy crops these days are genetically modified. You’ll find tempeh in the refrigerated section of your grocery store next to the tofu.

Ready to give this lesser known protein a try? Here are our top two most favorite tempeh recipes (and great places to start for first-timers!). Click the picture to get the recipe.

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BalsMapleTempeh

And here are a few more tempeh recipes that we want to try.

Have you ever tried tempeh? Have you found any recipes you like that you want to share? Feel free to leave a comment or question below!

Apple Cinnamon Overnight Oats

When it comes to convenience, versatility and eating for energy, it doesn’t get much easier than overnight oats in a jar!

This is one of my go-to breakfast options and is perfect for busy mornings. Here are just a few more reasons I’m such a fan of overnight oats:

  • Change it up based on what you have on hand and what’s in season
  • Inexpensive ingredients that are pantry staples in our house
  • Eat them right out of the jar or heat them up on the stovetop, if you’d prefer something a little warmer
  • Make them a few days ahead of time for a ready-to-go breakfast
  • Involve your kids and let them get creative with toppings!

I’ve shared recipes for overnight oats before, including these Pumpkin Spice Overnight Oats and these “Berry” Quick Overnight Oats, but today’s recipe is for Apple Cinnamon Overnight Oats!

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I used some of my favorite seasonal ingredients, including crisp apples, warming cinnamon and crunchy walnuts. I used apples two ways – applesauce as the base and chopped apples as the topping. The chia seeds are filling and soak up some of the almond milk, helping everything come together…without cooking it!

I love the combination of apples and cinnamon, especially during the colder months, so that’s what inspired this particular combination.

Apple OatsOats aerialI had some fun making a video “how-to” in case you’re a more visual person and want to hear more about the benefits of each ingredient.

The full recipe is listed below, so check it out and give it a try!

Ingredients

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 teaspoons chia seeds
1/2-1 teaspoon cinnamon (I LOVE cinnamon, so I used 1 tsp but start with 1/2 and add more to taste!)
Pinch ginger
Pinch nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch sea salt
1/3 cup gluten free rolled oats
1/2 cup almond milk
1/4 apple, chopped
3-4 walnuts chopped
Optional toppings: 1 tablespoon nut butter, toasted coconut, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, 100% pure maple syrup, to taste

Directions

  1. Stir applesauce, chia seeds, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, vanilla, and sea salt in the bottom of a mason jar.
  2. Add the oats and almond milk and stir everything together to combine. Cover with a lid and store in your fridge for at least 30 minutes, ideally overnight.
  3. Remove from fridge and stir in toppings. Eat directly from the jar or warm on the stove. Enjoy!

Rich & Creamy Brassica Tea Rice Pudding {Gluten-Free}

In my last post, I shared insights about detoxing from award-winning celebrity dietitian, Ashley Koff. It turns out that our body naturally detoxifies itself on a regular basis and that we can bring specific foods into our diet to support that process.

One of those foods is broccoli. Most of us have heard that broccoli is one of the best vegetables we can eat to support our health, but few of us know why.

Tom Malterre, a highly regarded functional medicine-trained nutritionist, gave a TEDTalk a few years ago about the incredible benefits of broccoli, calling it “the DNA whisperer” because of its powerful protective properties.

Glucoraphanin (say glu-co-RAPH-an-in) is one of the key nutrients in broccoli that makes it known as a “superfood”. Our body converts glucoraphanin into a potent antioxidant and cellular protector called sulforaphane

According to Brassica.com, 40% of Americans wish they could get the benefits of broccoli without having to eat it. That’s where something like truebroc™ tea can help.

You can find truebroc™ tea locally at Whole Foods Harbor East, Baltimore Coffee & Tea, and at Wegmans, but you also order it online no matter where you live by clicking here.

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For more information about Brassica Tea and truebroc glucoraphanin, please visit truebroc.com or facebook.com/truebroc. Follow us on Twitter @truebroc.

I first mentioned truebroc™ tea in my last post and promised to share a recipe with you that incorporated it, so today I’m going to let you know how to make your own rich and creamy Brassica Tea Rice Pudding.

When I first saw the recipe, I realized I had all of the ingredients on hand except for the arborio rice, which is commonly used to make a creamy dish called risotto. I found it in the bulk section of MOMs Organic Market, a local natural food store, but you should be able to find it in the rice or gluten-free section of your grocery store.

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Recipe & photo credit: Amy Fischer, RD

I wasn’t sure how the dish would turn out as I was making it, but I ended up with a rich, creamy and almost caramel-ly (can we make that a word?) bowl of deliciousness! 

I have tried rice pudding at a few restaurants as a dessert, but this was the first time I’d made it and was the best-tasting one yet. I’ve made it twice and have had it as part of my breakfast and as dessert.

I made a few modifications. I backed off slightly from the recommended amount of water in the beginning. I cut it back by 1/4 cup, which resulted in a creamier texture the second time around. Also, I didn’t have vanilla bean powder on hand, so I used vanilla extract, and I used maple syrup instead of honey. I considered subbing in short grain brown rice, but, if you plan to do that, just simmer it a bit longer, as it will take more time to cook. It probably won’t be as creamy and might be a bit chewier but it’s worth trying!

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Recipe and photo credit: Amy Fischer, RD

Servings: 4-6

Ingredients

1 cup brewed Brassica Tea with 30mg of truebroc™ glucoraphanin from broccoli
1 cup filtered water (I used 3/4 cup)
1 (13.5 oz.) can coconut milk (I love the brand Native Forest)
½ cup arborio rice
2 egg yolks
¼ cup coconut sugar
2 Tbsp. raw honey (or maple syrup to make vegan)
1 tsp. vanilla bean powder
¼ tsp. cinnamon
Pinch of sea salt
Optional toppings: ginger, raisins, greek or coconut yogurt

Directions

  1. Brew 1 cup of tea using 2 Brassica Tea bags.
  2. Combine 1 cup tea, 1 cup water, 1/2 cup Arborio rice & a pinch of salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil then turn down to a simmer, stirring frequently, cover & cook for ~25 min.
  3. Uncover and continue simmering and stirring frequently. Stir in coconut milk & continue to simmer approximately 10 min or until the rice is tender.
  4. In separate bowl, beat egg yolks with honey, coconut sugar, cinnamon & vanilla. Slowly add some of the rice mixture to the egg yolks and with a whisk, combine.
  5. Add mixture back into the rice and stir until combined well and egg is mixed in. Remove from heat. The mixture will still be loose but will thicken as it stands or when chilled. Serve warm or chilled. Add toppings before serving. Enjoy!
Tea Rice Pudding 7

Recipe and photo credit: Amy Fischer, RD

For more information about Brassica Tea and truebroc glucoraphanin, please visit truebroc.com or facebook.com/truebroc. Follow us on Twitter @truebroc.

Disclosure: I received free tea in exchange for writing this review, but I had tried and liked the product and what it stood for before this opportunity arose! All opinions are my own, and maintaining the integrity of all content on this site is of utmost importance to me. I will never promote products I don’t love and use myself! 🙂

The Truth about Detoxing with Celebrity Dietitian Ashley Koff

For many of us, the start of the New Year comes with intentions and desires to do things differently than we have in the past.

In my previous post, I shared what I do instead of making New Year’s Resolutions. It inspires me to not only approach life the way that I do but to make decisions about what to eat and drink.

Since I want to feel RADIANT, ABUNDANT and FREE, I choose to consume foods that make me feel that way, which is why I do what Michael Pollan says and…

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Last fall, I attended the Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore for the second time and had the opportunity to learn about all of the cool new natural products hitting the market in the coming year.

I also had the privilege of hearing award-winning nutrition expert, Ashley Koff RD, creator of The Better Nutrition Simplified Program, speak.

Ashley has been featured on Doctor Oz, The Today Show, The Huffington Post, and Fox News. She also wrote the book Mom Energy.

What I appreciate so much about her is our shared food philosophy of being “qualitarians,” which I’ve written about previously here. We make it a priority to eat the highest quality foods we can as often as possible. As a result, we feel great and have energy throughout the day. We use food as fuel, to nourish, protect and sustain our bodies.

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Award-winning nutrition expert, Ashley Koff, RD

To clear up any confusion, I thought I’d get some answers from the expert herself. I had the opportunity to interview Ashley and am sharing below what I learned from her. I hope you find it refreshing, energizing and informative!

Rachel: There’s a lot of talk about “detoxing” these days, and the word seems to mean different things to different people. If you had to explain detoxification as you understand it and in a way that would be meaningful to a layperson, what would you say?

Ashley: We all have a detoxification system in our bodies so we should be “detoxing” every day of our lives. The detox system works in two parts. One part converts harmful toxins into less harmful. When it does this it produces “dirt” (free radicals) that the body also needs to clean up. The second part eliminates toxins by having certain nutrients bind to the toxins so they can be eliminated. Thus, the body needs specific nutrients to do all of this.

For part one, lots of vitamins and minerals like B-vitamins, magnesium, as well as plant nutrients like milk thistle and quercetin support these efforts. Antioxidants found in the colors of fruits and vegetables, as well as the plant nutrients in nuts and seeds and grains and beans help do the “clean up” work. And certain foods, broccoli as a leader as well as onions, leeks, and organic eggs, help enable the body to eliminate toxins – a significant part of detoxification.

Rachel: What are some of the common myths about detoxification you see in the media and hear from your patients?

Ashley: The biggest is that we should pick times or programs to “detox”…We have a detoxification system – that’s like saying there are certain days or programs that we should use our muscles or brains. It’s ongoing.

The others are more specific. Like “detox” assigned to a tea or shake that doesn’t deliver nutrients mentioned above or that also delivers toxins, irritants etc. For example, a non-organic juice or shake that contains items on the “dirty dozen” list, which is like washing your floor wearing dirty boots.

Download the Dirty Dozen app for your phone

Download the Dirty Dozen app for free on your phone. It’s updated annually!

Rachel: What are the top 3-5 reasons we should be concerned about detoxification?

Ashley: There are a lot of environmental toxins we can’t control our exposure to, but we can help the body manage them by identifying and eliminating them.

If our bodies don’t detox properly, we can’t accomplish our other health goals (weight loss, better energy, reduce risk of disease).

Many toxins are fat-soluble which means they are trapped or stored in our fat cells, which means as we work to lose extra fat, we need to make sure these toxins are removed from the body as well.

Rachel: What are some of the safest ways we can detoxify our body?

Ashley:

  1. Reduce our intake of irritants by improving the quality of what we put in and on our bodies.
  2. Choose to incorporate quality sources of the foods that support the bodies detoxification system – all the different phases.
  3. Avoid trendy detoxes, which may be stressful to your body.
  4. Consider your current health status and health goals to determine what your body needs and can handle. You may benefit from working with a healthcare practitioner to accomplish this best. (Here is a link to my – Rachel’s – recommended healthcare professionals who focus on optimizing health)

Rachel: Many of my readers are moms. What should parents know about the importance of detoxification? Is this something they should think about for their children?

Ashley: As described above, we all have detoxification systems so, yes, kids of every age should be eating to support their detoxification system just as adults. It’s why I love organic baby and toddler foods that include foods and their nutrients as well as does not include irritants.

Rachel: We hear a lot about broccoli being a “super food” and one of the healthiest and most detoxifying foods we can eat. What makes these little trees so special? Why would we want to eat more of them?

Ashley: Well the detox part is HUGE and that’s because of its glucoraphanin. The nutrients of the trees also help support healthy digestion and hormones, as well as antioxidants to be part of our body’s overall clean up team. But broccoli is also more than trees. The leaves provide calcium (as much as a glass of milk per serving in a few leaves) as well as your daily dose of vitamin C, and additional antioxidants.

broccoli

Rachel: What are the best ways to prepare broccoli to preserve the most nutrients?

Ashley: Let’s look at this differently. The best way is whichever way gets you to eat (or drink) broccoli more often. Frozen or ready to eat, raw or cooked, lightly “snowed” (with some cheese) or roasted with some olive oil or puréed into a broccoli pizza crust or added into a frittata – there are so many ways to enjoy broccoli. The only ways I don’t recommend broccoli are boiled or overcooked (longer than 5 minutes) IF you are eating it for the glucoraphanin benefits.

Now remember that all broccoli will have different amounts of its detox nutrient – glucoraphanin – so that’s where a supplement can be helpful if you want to have consistent levels to support optimal detoxification (I call it “true detox”). I personally prefer organic broccoli and when that’s not available I consume a glucoraphanin supplement (truebroc.com) in a tea form or in a capsule. Disclosure: I am a member of their advisory board and work with them to promote the benefits of glucoraphanin.brassica box

Rachel: I recently finished up a video series about GBOMBS on my Facebook page and YouTube channel and have written articles about these nutrient-dense foods before, with broccoli being one of them! I’ve shared with my readers and fans some of my favorite ways to prepare greens and cruciferous veggies like broccoli. What is your favorite way to eat broccoli?

Ashley: I eat broccoli almost every day and even my dog eats frozen organic broccoli (he likes it straight from the freezer!) so it’s impossible to pick a favorite. I have fun coming up with new ways to eat broccoli like my latest – as a “crust” – but my most frequent way is to sauté in vegetable broth and then drizzle olive oil and top with hemp seeds.

Rachel: What are your top 10 foods/herbs/spices that naturally support and enhance the body’s detoxification process?

Ashley: Instead of the top 10 foods/herbs/spices that help to support the body’s natural detoxification process, it’s better to organize them by which foods help to support the different phases.

Phase 1: convert harmful toxins to less harmful and mark them for elimination.

Foods that help: yogurt, spinach, all beans, broccoli, all greens, berries, oranges, papaya, kiwi, pineapple, tofu, sesame seeds, turmeric

Phase 2: conjugation where body adds nutrients to harmful toxins to help them be eliminated

Foods that help here: broccoli, amino acids (hemp), sesame seeds, eggs, shallots, garlic, leeks, and water(!)

The key is that if you are only eating for Phase 1 foods, then you aren’t optimizing your total detox potential. Of all the crucifers, broccoli has the most glucoraphanin.  To learn more about the powerful benefits of glucoraphanin, click here.

Rachel: Now, to wrap it up, let’s talk more “big picture.” What are three pieces of nutrition advice that you think would benefit everyone?

Ashley:

  1. Better nutrition IS simple.
  2. You need what you need, not what someone else does.
  3. There’s no perfect health, perfect nutrition plan, perfect food – but there’s always a better choice and better nutrition choices are the key to better health.

And there you have it! None of us has all of the answers when it comes to what to eat, but I respect and appreciate Ashley’s take on a popular topic that tends to generate lots of confusion. Thanks again, Ashley, for answering all of my questions so clearly and honestly! To learn more about Ashley and her work, visit her website.

If you want to benefit from the antioxidant power of broccoli, try drinking truebroc’s Brassica Tea. It’s sold locally at Baltimore Coffee & Tea in Timonium and at Wegmans stores. You can also find it online here.

Tea Cup

Stay tuned for my next post where I will be sharing a yummy recipe that uses these Brassica tea bags!

Don’t Make New Year’s Resolutions…Do THIS to Rock 2016!

As someone who works in the health and wellness field, I’m reminded by dozens of articles that it’s time to make New Year’s Resolutions.

Time to revisit our lofty to do lists from last year and take stock of what worked and what didn’t. Time to let the past year go and embrace what is to come.

Tempting as it may be, I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions.

To me, they feel more like an intimidating and overwhelming laundry list of “to dos” and less like an inspired vision for how I want my life to be. Making New Year’s Resolutions doesn’t work for me.

I wrote a blog post last year around this time about what triggered me to make the shift away from New Year’s Resolutions and toward something more meaningful and motivating.

In her books, The Desire Map and The Fire Starter Sessions, best-selling author and influencer Danielle LaPorte asks a seemingly simple question. Instead of focusing on what she wants to DO each year, she asks:

How do I want to feel?

Once we get clear on how we want to feel, we can spend our time and energy being intentional about how to generate those feelings, as we craft an inspired vision for how we want our lives to be.

It’s amazing how much clarity going through this process has brought me and the thousands of other people who have done the same.

After brainstorming words that capture how I want to feel, I narrowed them down to the top five words that energize me the most and came up with my core desired feelings for 2015:

I thought about what it meant to FEEL each of those feelings and what I could do to generate them as often as possible.

To be RADIANT is to be bright and bold; to send out light; to shine or glow brightly. I’m radiant when I’m speaking, teaching, presenting and writing. I’ve done more of all of those things in the past year than ever before. I’m gearing up to do the same in 2016 with my first national speaking gig in April in Orlando!

I’m also radiant when I eat nourishing foods that make my skin glow and my body feel energized. That’s my primary motivation for eating the way that I do.

To be CONNECTED is to be linked, banded together, joined, and united. When we feel connected, we feel close, safe, wanted, supported, and understood. We are hard-wired for connection, to be in community with others. I’ve felt more supported and connected this year than ever before. Networking with passionate people, spending more time with friends and family, serving my community, and sharing my story have helped me generate feelings of connection.

To be WORTHY is to be “good enough.”

Like many women, I’ve struggled to feel “good enough” for most of my life. It’s exhausting and draining to feel that way. I love what Brene Brown has to say about worthiness in her book, The Gift of Imperfection:

 “If we want to fully experience love and belonging, we must believe that we are worthy of love and belonging. Worthy now. Not if. Not when. We are worthy of love and belonging now. Right this minute. As is.”

When we feel worthy, we open up the possibility for amazing opportunities to enter our lives and instead of asking “Why me?” we can confidently respond, “Why NOT me?” and say “yes” to what is meant to happen in our lives instead of resisting it.

Starting 2015 by focusing on how I want to feel gave me a sense of clarity, purpose and direction for the year, and I had the best year ever in my career. 

I was bolder and more open than ever about what I wanted to bring into my life and about the impact I wanted to have.

I won national awards, met internationally recognized leaders in my field, felt more purposeful in my career, was asked to speak at the national level, grew financially, and connected with other like-minded, life-giving people who are also striving to become the best version of themselves.

By owning how I wanted to feel and getting clear on what action steps made me feel that way, I came alive. I felt inspired and had the opportunity to inspire others.

It was a great year!

I’m looking forward to all that 2016 will bring, and as a result of what I’ve experienced over the past twelve months, I’m tweaking my list and keeping what still resonates and modifying what doesn’t. For 2016, my core desired feelings are:

I felt incredibly ABUNDANT at the end of the year when our CEO gave each of our employees a gift so we could “Pay It Forward.” I wrote about it in this post. I was so inspired by what happened that my husband and I are going to continue setting aside money each month to give to specific people or families. We’ll be looking for opportunities to give back.

I’m eager to find out what abundance I attract into my life as a result of declaring that feeling. Energy flows where attention goes, so by focusing on giving more freely, I anticipate feeling more abundant than ever.

How about you?

Are you uninspired by New Year’s Resolutions?

Tired of looking at your incomplete checklist each December?

Done with being “motivated” by guilt at the start of each new year?

Give this exercise a try.

Ask yourself how you want to feel.

Decide what you’ll do to generate those feelings – what do you do or can you do to make yourself feel that way.

Then, be open for whatever happens next!

If you want to create one of the cool word picture images like the one you see above, download the free Word Swag app here.

Want this info in video format? Check out the video I posted on New Year’s Day on my Facebook page (“Like” it if you haven’t already!)

 

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