Month: April 2016

Connect.Savor.Nourish: A Refreshing Approach to Eating

Quick Note: If you’re having trouble with old links working due to the recent¬†website transition, please use the search box on the right-hand side to find the post/recipe you’re looking for. Links will continue to be updated to minimize error messages ūüôā Thank you for your patience!

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Food has always been a special part of my life.

Going¬†grocery shopping and to farmer’s markets with my mom as a little girl.

Waiting for the horse-drawn “strawberry man” cart to come to our neighborhood with fresh “strawbetties”, as I called them.

Picking wild raspberries along the side of the road in upstate New York on a warm summer day.

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Photo Credit: Laura Toraldo Photography

Listening intently as my elderly neighbor and Julia Child admirer, Miss Muriel, taught me the art of making cheesecake, pasta, bread, and sugar cookies from scratch. 

Spending my summers in high school guiding customers how to pick out ripe watermelons and the perfect peach.

I’ve always been drawn to food.

After conducting several nutrition-based research studies with a professor in college, pursuing a graduate degree in health science, completing my health coach training, and running my company’s wellness program for the past decade, I knew I had to do something more than just read or talk about food.

I had to write about it.

I was encouraged by friends and coworkers to start a blog over two years ago, and that’s how Rachel’s Nourishing Kitchen first came to be. Since starting the blog, I haven’t¬†felt like it reflects my style or my brand, so I’ve been working to change that. Over a year ago, my designer created this beautiful logo for me, and I’ve wanted to showcase it on my site ever since then!

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It’s playful, fun, inviting and warm. I love the little pop of color and how I feel when I see it. I’ve gotten similar feedback from dozens of people when I hand them my business card.

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Photo Credit: Laura Toraldo Photography

Today I’m excited to celebrate¬†the roll-out of my redesigned website, complete with branding, professional pictures, and a cleaner, less cluttered look. This is the first phase of the redesign process, so you can look forward to even more improvements in user experience and functionality in the future.

In the process of coming up with the new design for the site, I spent some time thinking about what makes me different and what makes this site different. What’s the unique message that I want to put out into the world in a way that is meaningful to me and my readers?

After years of writing, teaching workshops, and interacting with people one-on-one and in groups, I’ve come to realize that what makes Rachel’s Nourishing Kitchen different is the refreshing, inviting, judgment-free, hopeful, and empowering approach I take. I stand in my truth and am honest about my victories and my struggles. I invite you along that journey with me, giving you permission to explore your own health, life, body and food choices.

We’re inundated with confusing, often negative, fear-driven information around food in the media and in our conversations. Most of us are looking for something beyond a diet, something that will stick, something that makes us feel good and gives us hope.

What if instead of feeling overwhelmed, you felt empowered about eating?

What if instead of obsessing over calories, you could connect with why you eat in the first place and what foods make you feel best and most alive?

What if instead of judging yourself for what you ate, you decided to get curious about it?CuriousG

I’ve updated my tagline to reflect what I feel is my unique message around food – Connect.Savor.Nourish. I want to invite you to connect with and savor your¬†food and nourish yourself in every sense of the word.

  • CONNECT with your food ‚Äď why you eat, how it makes you feel, where it comes from, and the impact it has beyond your plate ‚Äď and with a community of people that lifts you up and brings out the best in you.
  • SAVOR your food by slowing down and making eating an experience, so you can truly taste and enjoy your food instead of feeling guilty about it.
  • NOURISH your body with energizing, healing, life-giving foods, so you can look and feel like the best version of yourself and, in turn, be your best for others.rnk_logo200_new

People who don’t know me often ask me why I have the word “kitchen” in my blog, since I don’t operate a physical space called¬†Rachel’s Nourishing Kitchen.

Here’s the reason.

The kitchen is a special place. I’m going to guess that you have positive memories at some point in your life¬†that involve a¬†kitchen.

I remember baking Christmas cookies and muffins with my mom, sharing family dinners at the table, and sitting down after a long day at school to a snack with my brother. We set out cookies for Santa, dyed Easter eggs, and blew out birthday candles at that table. It was a place to gather, a place to share stories, a place to make memories and connect.

Food is about so much more than nutrition.

It’s about life. It’s about connection, celebration, enjoyment, and nourishment. I love what nutritionist, Marc David, has to say about the connection between food and life.

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Whether it’s your first time here or you’ve been here since the very beginning, welcome.

Welcome to my nourishing kitchen Рa place of connection, and community. A place to be yourself and try new things. A place to find delicious, nourishing recipes that nourish your body. A place where you are invited to explore why, how, and what you eat in a way that is energizing, inspiring, and makes you feel alive.

I’m grateful you’re here, and I hope you’ll come back soon to visit!

 

Come to My Upcoming Eating Empowerment Workshops!

If you’re ready to transform your relationship with food and your body, keep reading. For two nights in May, I’m going to equip and empower you to do just that!

In our earliest moments of life, food was nourishment, love, warmth, safety, pleasure, acceptance, and comfort.

Considering how positive and affirming our initial relationship with food was at one time, it should be surprising that we’ve moved so far away from that today.¬†For many of us, eating is more stressful, guilt-ridden, fear-driven and frustrating than we’d like it to be.

What “should” we eat? Is it possible to truly enjoy food…without guilt? Can we find joy and pleasure in eating?

Each of us is on our own journey with food and our body. Learning to listen to our body’s whispers and trust the journey can be challenging.¬†Whether you’ve struggled with shame, guilt, resentment, confusion, or deprivation around food, chances are you haven’t always had a joyful relationship with or attitude toward food.

But, what if you could? 

What if you could learn to eat in a way that connected you to your food, how it makes you feel, where it comes from, how it was raised, and its journey to your plate?

What if you could truly savor your food? Enjoy it? Find pleasure in it? Truly taste it? What if eating could be a joyful experience and not just a biological nuisance?

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What if instead of eating “mindfully” we chose to eat “soulfully”?

What if we could shift our mindset to see food as fueling, healing and nourishing?

What if we could learn to love the food that loves us back?

If you’re looking to transform your relationship and experience with food, join me for a two-part workshop series¬†about Eating Empowerment at the Institute for Integrative Health in Baltimore on May 11th and May 25th.

Keep reading for more details about the event and the link for how to register! I will be so excited to see you there!

Photo Credit: Laura Toraldo Photography

You’ll gain strategies for:

  • Developing a positive, guilt-free, judgment-free relationship with food
  • Increasing your resilience to stress through how and what you eat
  • Influencing your mood through food choices
  • Enhancing your satisfaction with meals and snacks, so you’re not tempted to overeat

You’ll experience:

  • Activating your five senses to create a pleasurable eating experience
  • Reconnecting with food, yourself, and the community around you
  • Samples of my¬†favorite mood-boosting foods

You’ll learn:

  • The role of digestive¬†health in our body‚Äôs response to stress
  • The link between stress and digestion
  • Which foods boost or stabilize moods
  • The benefits of mindful and community eating

In addition, nutrition researcher Chris D’Adamo, PhD will provide¬†scientific insight about the connection between food and mood. He and I will¬†be happy to take your questions.

**To register online, click here.¬†Sign up if you’re ready to transform your relationship with food and find freedom and joy in eating. Invite your friends!**

Healthier {& Tastier!} at Home: 12 Ideas to “Make It Yourself” & Save Money

I had the opportunity to teach a workshop today for the University of Maryland’s Center for Integrative Medicine Annual Health & Wellness Conference in Baltimore. It was held at the¬†Institute for Integrative Health in Harbor East, where I will be teaching a two-part Eating¬†Empowerment Workshops in May (if you want to have a judgment-free, joyful relationship with food and learn to connect with, savor and nourish yourself sign up here!).¬†

During the workshop, I focused on making common recipes that we buy at the store at home. Since Cinco de Mayo is coming up, I thought I would put a Mexican spin on my recipes and share how to make my Chipotle-style bean burrito bowl, dairy-free cashew sour cream, and no-bake Mexican brownies.

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In addition to the recipes I made in the class, I shared how much cheaper it is to buy bulk foods (beans, grains, nuts & seeds), whole foods (carrots, cabbage), and condiments (salsa, salad dressing, sour cream, hummus) instead of canned, bagged, frozen or pre-shredded versions.

Let’s take a look at some simple math that makes the case for why we might want to consider making some basic food ourselves rather than buying the premade versions in the store.

Two cups of dry brown basmati rice costs about¬†$2.30 and¬†triples in size once cooked, yielding SIX cups of cooked rice. Compare that to ONE frozen or precooked¬†bag of brown rice, which typically contains only two cups of cooked rice…for the same cost as six cups! I’m not a¬†mathematician, but I’d say it’s a much better deal to get¬†six cups of rice for $2.30 than it is to get two cups of rice for the same price.¬†The same ratios and similar savings hold true¬†for dry beans vs. canned beans.

Another food worth making yourself at home is shredded carrots. One 10-ounce bag of organic shredded carrots costs about $2.99. BUT you can get 32 ounces of whole carrots (2 pounds) for only $2.29 per pound and shred them yourself using a box grater or your food processor. Then, you can take your carrot scraps and add them to your frozen bag of other veggie scraps to Make Your Own Vegetable Broth. The savings definitely add up over time! ūüôā

I mentioned one of my favorite books about the basics behind how to cook everything, so if you want to check it out, visit your local bookstore or Amazon.

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In addition to using the great tips, tricks and recips¬†in Mark Bittman’s book, here are some other tips, how-tos and recipes to try that are easier (and cheaper) to make at home than to buy at the store:

How to Cook Brown Rice by The Kitchn. (The key is NOT to stir it or uncover it while it is cooking. It will make your rice gummy!)

How to Cook Beans on the Stove by The Kitchn. If convenience trumps cost for you, try precooked canned beans in BPA-free cans by Eden Organics (my #1 fave!) or Field Day Organics.

How to Make Your Own Vegetable Broth from Scraps by Rachel’s Nourishing Kitchenveggie broth banner

Easy Restaurant-Style Blender Salsa by Averie Cooks

Basic Hummus Recipe from Inspired Taste

Easy Tangy Apple Cider Vinaigrette¬†by Rachel’s Nourishing Kitchen

How to Make Salad Dressing from the Academy of Culinary Nutrition

How to Make Your Own Granola {Recipe & Video} from Rachel’s Nourishing Kitchen

Super Food Trail Mix by Rachel’s Nourishing Kitchentrail mix

What are your favorite storebought-inspired recipes to make at home?

Feel free to share below!

Mexican Brownie Bites {No-Bake, Paleo, Vegan}

One of my favorite things to create in my kitchen are recipes for energy bites and balls and no-bake cookies. They are one of the most popular and well-liked things I make.

I wanted to share my latest creation with you today. Because I love chocolate, I thought I’d take a stab at making a no-bake version of Mexican brownies inspired by this recipe.

The only difference between these and my typical fudge bites is the addition of some heat in the form of cayenne powder ūüôā You don’t notice it right away, but it will linger just a bit on the back of your tongue when you finish savoring these little chocolate bites of joy!

Ingredients

1/2 cup raw walnuts
1/2 cup raw almonds
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/3 cup raw cacao powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
1 1/3 cup Medjool dates, pitted and coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Put the nuts in the food processor and run until finely ground.
  2. Add the remaining dry ingredients and process until evenly combined.
  3. Add the dates and vanilla and run for about 60-90 seconds or until the mixture starts sticking together.
  4. Press dough into parchment paper and cover with another piece of parchment and roll out dough with a rolling pin. Use a pizza cutter or knife to cut dough into rows and then squares. Another option is to shape the dough into 1-inch balls. Store in the refrigerator or freezer.

What’s Your “Weightless Why”?

One of the commitments I‚Äôve made since Day 1¬†of writing¬†this blog¬†is to be transparent and authentic. One colleague recently affirmed this by saying to me,¬†“You stand in your truth.”¬†¬†I was humbled by her comment and took it to heart because I know how important it is for me to do that.

I aspire to be refreshing, energizing and inspiring in my words and in my tone. I’ve learned there is immense power in being honest about ourselves and our struggles and that it gives other people permission to be open and honest about theirs. I invite people to be curious rather than passing judgment. This makes them feel safe, and it builds trust.

As part of my journey, I‚Äôve had a constantly changing relationship with my self-image, confidence, health and weight. As I shared in my most vulnerable blog¬†post in late December, I’ve been on a healing journey with my body and have been working to restore my health and well-being.

I’ve gone from being clinically malnourished only two years ago to looking and feeling alive, vibrant, radiant and whole today.

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Throughout that process, I struggled emotionally, fighting fears of weight gain and what the public perception would be of ‚Äúthe wellness person‚ÄĚ gaining weight. But I did what I knew I had to do to¬†get my life back¬†and give my body what it needed to feel its best.

I stopped weighing myself and¬†now focus¬†on the¬†process¬†of being well. This is what has worked for me, so I simply offer¬†my story as an invitation to get curious about your own life and open up to a¬†different way¬†of thinking. Today, I care more about how my body¬†feels¬†and¬†functions¬†and less about a three-digit number that doesn’t tell the whole story.

I eat nourishing, whole, colorful food and cook most meals at home with my husband.

I make time to savor what I’m eating, so that I can truly taste it and enjoy it, whether it’s a piece of dark chocolate or a roasted sweet potato.¬†

I move my body regularly in ways that I enjoy and in ways that challenge me.

I surround myself with a loving, supportive, and fun community.

I’m involved in my church and make it a priority to give back.

I continue to pursue purpose-driven work that makes me feel alive.

Instead of using weight as my motivation for eating the way I do, I align how I eat with my life’s greater purpose, which is to bring hope, inspiration and empowerment to people through food and stories, so they can feel better and be the best version of themselves.

When I feel my best, I can be my best for others.

I eat the way I do to have lasting energy, a stable and lifted mood, a strong immune system that keeps me healthy, boosted physical performance, glowing skin, and thick hair. Food has given me my life back and the life in food has gievn me life.

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So, how about you?

Do you ever get hung up on the number on the scale? Have you ever allowed it to dictate your day? How you feel? How you see yourself? Whether you wear certain clothes or show up at an event? How much power and control do you give that number?

When¬†weight is our¬†only¬†metric of “success,” we might¬†not¬†notice improvements in our mood, sleep, energy, skin, and performance that come along the way.

When we focus too much on the outcome, we often miss out on what the process is teaching us.

Being aware of our weight is not bad or wrong in and of itself, but when we obsess about it and let it run our lives and dictate how we feel on a daily basis, it can do more harm than good. Even Weight Watchers, a company whose very focus is weight, recently launched a new program called ‚ÄúBeyond the Scale‚ÄĚ because they realize their customers are seeking something¬†more.

If they can invite people to do that, so can we.

The most enduring, highest quality form of motivation comes from¬†within¬†us, not from the outside. If we want our motivation to last and our habits to stick, it’s important that we¬†tap into something deeper and identify compelling¬†reasons why we‚Äôre living the way we’re living and eating the way we’re eating.

For that reason, I invite you to identify something that I call your ‚ÄúWeightless Why‚ÄĚ.¬†What are the reasons you¬†are motivated or inspired to nourish your body in a way that fuels you to be the best version of yourself that has nothing to do with the number on the scale?

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Here are just a few reasons I’ve come up with over the years that motivate me:

  • Feeling energized
  • More stable and elevated¬†mood
  • Better mental focus
  • Being medication-free!
  • No more seasonal allergies
  • No more acid reflux
  • Bronchitis and ear infections are a thing of the past
  • A strong immune system that keeps me well (even when everyone else is sick!)
  • Warm tone/color to my skin
  • Clear skin (best of my life!)
  • No more aches and pains
  • Enhanced athletic performance and recovery
  • Improved digestion
  • Better sleep
  • To support local, sustainable farming practices and farmers

Which of those reasons resonate with you? Are there any that I missed that you would add?

I’d love to hear from YOU about your “Weightless Why.”

Feel free to leave a comment below.

How to Have an Easy Weeknight Dinner Double Date {+ Kitchen Update!}

Are you looking for some ideas to make dinners a little more exciting? If you’re like us, you tend to wait until the weekend to get together with friends around mealtime. But why not change it up and build that into your week?

In today’s post, I’m going to share the steps for planning a no-fuss weeknight dinner date with your friends or family based on a cool experience Bill and I had last week. I¬†hope¬†you’ll be inspired and excited by this idea¬†and feel¬†encouraged to change things up during the week.

Before we dive into that, I have a kitchen update to share! ūüôā

We’re about two weeks into our kitchen renovation, and things are coming along nicely. The demo is finished, the floor tiles have been laid, the electric is wired, and the walls are painted.

We’re expecting the cabinets to arrive on Tuesday and the whole job to wrap up in about two weeks!

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Versatile Gray is the “Greige” paint color we chose for our kitchen (looks so good!). Aren’t these kitchen towels PERFECT?! And our floor tiles have been laid down and grouted (but not yet cleaned!)

We’ve essentially moved our kitchen to the basement, which happens to be completely finished AND has an extra fridge and sink (serious perk). While it’s not the most convenient set-up, we have just about everything we need to continue to make meals each week using¬†our blender, induction cooktop, and food processor.

At the beginning of the construction process, Bill and I thought it would be a neat idea to become dinner crashers while our renovation was being completed, so we weren’t making dinner in the basement every night.

Our friends and family offered to take us in for a meal or two, and it has been so much fun! It’s given us an opportunity to be more social during the week, something we had not prioritized before¬†now. Here’s the process we followed for having an awesome weeknight dinner date!

Step 1: Pick Your Peeps

Last week, we got together with our friends Kiersten and Zach for a dinner double date. They are¬†in the midst of their own transition, as they’re in the final weeks of preparation leading up to their April 30th wedding. They’re foodies like us and appreciate a wholesome, nourishing meal, so we thought we’d bring the ingredients to them and make the meal together for a weeknight dinner double date!

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With our lovely hosts (bride and goom-to-be!) after our delicious meal

Step 2: Choose Your Meal & Shop (from Home!)

I’ve had the opportunity to partner with Relay Foods, a healthy online grocery store that carries everything from organic, local produce to pantry staples, snacks, treats, and even personal care products like soaps, shampoo and lotions.

They have a cool Meal Planning feature on their website that lets you search for recipes by category – One Pot Meals, Gluten-Free, Vegan, Paleo, Dairy-Free, 30 Minutes or Less, etc.¬†You can just use it as its own recipe search and use your own ingredients, but if you want to streamline the whole process,¬†click “Add to Meal¬†Plan and Review”¬†when you find a recipe you like. Your cart will automatically update with the ingredients needed for the meal.

We chose to make this Black¬†Bean Soup with Kale Slaw.¬†The cost of all ingredients for a full dinner plus leftovers for four people was about $30. Depending on where we go out to eat, a single dinner and tip can cost that much…for one person! Also, cooking once and eating twice makes meal planning more doable and less intimidating because you’re saving money and time.

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Black Bean Soup with Kale Slaw recipe here

Step 3: Pick Up Your Grub (or Have Them Delivered!)

My husband, Bill, was on spring break last week, so he picked up our bags at a nearby pick-up site, but you have the option for Relay to deliver to your house an unlimited number of times each month for $19/month. 

Want to try out Relay Foods? Click here to save $20 on your first order of $60 or more.).

Step 4: Make the Meal & Enjoy!

The day of our pick-up, I got an email from Relay that contained the full recipe we were making that night, so once we arrived at Kiersten’s house, we gave everyone a task to do to make the meal come together. We chopped, diced, shredded, and sauteed the ingredients for this warm, grounding soup topped with a bright, refreshing, perfect-for-spring slaw.

This meal was rich in GBOMBS, which are some of the most nourishing, protective, and healing foods on the planet; food like kale, red and yellow onions, garlic, cabbage, and black beans. That is a recipe for whole body nourishment!

Here is the link to get the full recipe for the Black Bean Soup with Kale Slaw. Try putting a few slices of avocado on top for some creaminess!

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Bill tasting the soup and preparing the colorful kale slaw!

Even though I personally LOVE the idea of going to the grocery store, sometimes I’d rather order my groceries from home. If you’re one of those people who gets anxious at the thought of stepping foot in a crowded store, then I’d recommend giving Relay a try.

Also, because you’re auto-populating your grocery list based on ingredients in the¬†meals you select, you will only be buying what you need, which makes you less likely to waste food and more likely to save money!

I also ordered a small gift for the bride-to-be that she was excited to receive Рa bag of Hudson Henry Granola and  a box of Numi chamomile lemon organic tea.

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If you’re making a dinner for friends or family for a special occasion or just as an excuse to hang out, it’s nice to bring a small gift along, especially when it’s in the form of food.

If you want to host a weeknight dinner date and are curious about trying Relay Foods as an option, follow this link to get $20 off your first order of $60 or more.

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