Tag: anti-inflammatory

How to Eat Without Guilt and Enjoy Your Food

Every day, we make choices.

And so many of us struggle with our choices around eating.

It’s a challenge to consistently eat a nourishing diet…or to even keep track of what that means amidst the newest diet or health food fads that flood the media.

It’s hard to know exactly what and how we “should” eat.

People often ask me for advice related to these key questions. Here’s what I’ve learned and found to be most helpful and transformative along my journey of health and healing.

It isn’t about eating ¬†“good” foods or “bad” foods.

Nor is it about “cheat” days or “cheat” meals.

And no, we’re not talking about “being on a diet.”

We glorify some foods and villainize others for the sake of “being good” or to have an excuse for those times when we want to “cheat.”

What if we started thinking and talking about food differently?

What if, instead of thinking of food in terms of good/bad, healthy/unhealthy, following the rules/cheating, we began to think of it as real/fake? Living/dead? Nutrient-rich/nutrient-depleting? Anti-inflammatory/inflammatory? Detoxifying/toxic? Healing/harmful?

At this point in my journey, this perspective shift means a commitment to being a “qualitarian” – fueling my body¬†with the freshest, most¬†nourishing, nutrient-rich, delicious food¬†available to me, so that I have the energy and health to do the things I want to do and am called to do with my life. Having this kind of vitality also means being able to spend lots of quality time with my friends and family.

When I eat, I don’t think of the food as “good” or “bad” or ask myself if I’m “cheating.”¬†Those words stir up feelings of guilt and shame, which don’t make us feel particularly good and aren’t the best motivators for lasting changes.

Our body actually processes food differently when we eat it in a state of guilt and shame vs. one of calmness and acceptance.¬†If we’re going to eat it, we might as well enjoy it.

I know that¬†Krause’s dark chocolate caramels¬†aren’t exactly loaded with health-promoting nutrients, but they taste delicious, and sometimes I want one. When I do, I eat it and enjoy it.¬†If I eat it, I own it. I wasn’t “bad.” I didn’t “cheat.”

I simply made a choice.

Eating without guilt is very freeing. It actually means we can enjoy food more.

And food was meant to be enjoyed.

Chocolate-covered strawberry in the middle!

Bill and I enjoying our delicious chocolate-covered strawberry!

Instead of “being bad” or “cheating,” what if we started asking ourselves questions like these before making food choices?

  1. Is it real?¬†(Hint: If it has 35 ingredients and a third-grader couldn’t pronounce most of them, then it’s not a real, whole food. Michael Pollan has written¬†an awesome book¬†that distinguishes between “real” food vs. what he calls “edible food-like substances.” Following¬†the guidelines in his book¬†provides a helpful starting point for determining what’s real and what’s not.)
  2. Is/was it living?¬†(Hint: The life in food¬†gives¬†us¬†life. If we’re constantly eating highly processed foods created in factories and industrial plants and not including adequate amounts of naturally growing, living, plant-based foods in our diet, then we’re very likely to be missing out on how alive we can feel when we are well nourished.)
  3. Is it nutrient-rich? (Hint: High quality, fresh, organic (if possible) foods are full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals that help our bodies function at their best, resist and fight disease, heal and stay energized and vibrant. Not only are highly processed and refined foods nutrient-deficient, but they also pull nutrients from our bodies as we process them; they deal a double blow.)
  4. Is it anti-inflammatory?¬†(Hint: Inflammation is¬†one of the main reasons¬†we are getting and staying sick and carrying excess weight that won’t seem to budge. Inflamed tissues hold on to weight and are the breeding ground for disease and sickness. When we eat¬†anti-inflammatory foods, we can reduce inflammation and impact weight and disease risk).
  5. Is it detoxifying? (Hint: Most of the food and drinks in our modern diet are literally toxic to our bodies, causing us to get sick, stay sick, and hold on to weight. Low quality, highly processed, refined, and sugary foods loaded with chemicals like pesticides, hormones, preservatives and antibiotics keep our bodies in a toxic state. Eating foods that naturally detoxify the body helps to keep us well.)
  6. Is it healing?¬†(Hint: If the answer to the previous 5 questions is “no,” then there’s a good chance that ¬†what we’re eating/drinking may be harmful to our body and our health. This can vary from person to person. For many people, myself included,¬†dairy products are harmful¬†– their consumption is tied to weight gain, inflammation, ear/nose/throat infections and illnesses, bronchitis, congestion, allergies, skin issues, etc. For others,¬†gluten¬†(the sticky protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and a few other grains) is inflammatory and makes them very ill or keeps them from feeling their best. Curious if you might have a food allergy (we’re not just talking peanuts!)? Check out¬†this post.)

If we start to shift the ways we think and talk about food, perhaps we can start making some lasting changes around what we’re eating without “dieting” and without guilt.¬†

When foods are no longer “bad” foods or “cheat” foods, it diminishes their allure, and we don’t want to eat them as much.¬†We’re no longer rebelling against ourselves but are supporting ourselves to be well.

Imagine the health, energy, and physical well-being we could have if we focused on eating real, living, nutrient-rich, anti-inflammatory, detoxifying, healing foods!

The next time you eat, regardless of what it is, remind yourself,¬†“it’s a choice, not a cheat“…and enjoy it!

Super Simple Curry Roasted Potatoes

For most of my life, I ate a pretty bland diet.

Sauces, spices, and condiments? No, thank you. I will have it “plain.”

“Plain” was safe, familiar, predictable.

My seasonings of choice were, “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” spray, parmesan cheese, and black pepper…and maybe a pinch of oregano or basil every now and then. That was it.

As I’ve gotten more comfortable exploring new foods, I’ve been exposed to dozens of flavors and tastes that I never knew existed. Food used to be boring, but now it’s exciting and filled with variety!

One of the cuisines that I resisted eating until very recently was Indian food.

I did what I had done many times before and made up my mind that I didn’t like Indian food, even though I had never tried it. I made the assumption that all Indian food was spicy and the funky colors and strange-looking dishes were not appealing to me as a picky eater.

I had no idea what I was missing!

Though it likely started as a combination of ginger, turmeric and garlic, the origin of a signature Indian spice blend, curry, has been traced back thousands of years to the Indus Valley Civilization in modern-day India. Most likely rooted in the South Indian term for sauce (kari), British traders adopted the more familiar word curry to categorize these spice blends. It has evolved and been adopted by other cultures since then.

curry

Curry spice blends vary widely, depending on which region they’re from and based on people’s personal tastes, but some of the most common ingredients include¬†turmeric, ginger,¬†fenugreek, coriander, and cinnamon. Other varieties include cayenne pepper, cumin, mustard seed, and cardamom.

Many of these spices are highly anti-inflammatory, and many health experts agree that¬†inflammation is at the core of a lot of disease and our struggles to lose weight. In addition, curry is full of warming spices, so it’s perfect for this cold weather we’ve been having.

After learning which spices were actually in curry (and realizing that I liked all of them),¬†I’ve been on a huge curry kick, adding it to recipes to completely change the way they taste. You can find curry powder in the spice aisle at your grocery store. Bill and I are absolutely loving it!

We used the red potatoes and onions we got from our weekly delivery of produce and made curry roasted potatoes and onions. This recipe is so simple and delicious, it will become a staple at our house.

Curry Roasted Potatoes & Onions

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Ingredients

  • 2 pounds red potatoes, diced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400¬į F.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl; toss to coat. Let stand, tossing occasionally, for 15 minutes so flavors can be absorbed.
  3. Arrange vegetables in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet (I used parchment paper, so they wouldn’t stick).
  4. Toss every 15 minutes for even browning and to prevent burning.
  5. Bake potatoes and onions until golden brown, 30‚Äď35 minutes.

Want to change it up? Try subbing in sweet potatoes or cauliflower florets instead of red potatoes!

Why Broccoli Is Awesome…and The BEST Roasted Broccoli Recipe

When I was a kid, I put parmesan cheese on EVERYTHING.

One of the fun things I used to do at dinner was pretend it was “snowing” on the “trees” and coated my steamed broccoli with a generous helping of Kraft parmesan cheese. I wouldn’t eat broccoli without it!

Since then, I’ve discovered that cheese and other dairy products were the key triggers for my ear and upper respiratory infections as a child and young adult and¬†can wreak havoc on the body…so no more snowy trees for me. The good news is that¬†I’m feeling so much better now¬†and¬†have gotten¬†rid of those issues completely. I’ll be writing more about my personal experience with the¬†downsides of dairy in future posts (If you’re interested, start watching the video on the link at around minute 5:00).

Fortunately, I’ve learned how to enjoy broccoli without cheese.¬†One of my favorite ways to prepare broccoli is roasting it. If you grew up eating overcooked, canned, or steamed-to-death vegetables, give them at least one more chance and roast them. You will be amazed by how delicious and flavorful they are!

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Broccoli is an incredibly healthy food and is also one of the GBOMBS. Here are just a few reasons why broccoli is awesome and we should eat more of it!

  • It’s anti-inflammatory and detoxifying. Inflammation and toxicity are the two main reasons we are so sick and holding on to extra weight, so we want to do as much as we can to reduce them!
  • It’s rich in fiber. Fiber keeps us full, so we eat less, and it keeps things moving in our digestive system.
  • It contains lutein, which helps to fight heart disease by preventing the thickening of arteries.
  • It’s rich in calcium. Calcium strengthens and promotes bone growth and health, which helps prevent osteoporosis.

Broccoli retains the most nutrients when eaten raw or lightly steamed or cooked, but most of us aren’t eating enough vegetables anyway, so it’s better to eat them roasted than not eat them at all, so roast away!

Now that we’ve established how great broccoli is, let’s talk about what to do with it.

This week in our Hometown Harvest bag, we got a hefty bunch of broccoli, and when I got home from a four-day business trip, I was ready to play in the kitchen and try a new recipe. 

This¬†garlicky broccoli recipe¬†is going to become a staple in our house. It’s SUPER simple and tasty. You are going to LOVE it.

It’s more fitting to call it what it really is…Crack Broccoli.

Seriously, it’s that good…you¬†may have to stop yourself from eating the whole darn tray. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Garlicky Roasted (AKA Crack) Broccoli

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I made a few modifications to the original ingredient list and point them out below.

Ingredients

1 pound broccoli
1/4 cup olive oil (or coconut oil!)
1 tablespoon rice vinegar (we substituted raw apple cider vinegar because we didn’t have rice vinegar)
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon salt
Red pepper flakes
Lemon wedges, to garnish

Here is the full recipe from one of my favorite recipe bloggers, The Kitchn! (and, nope, that’s not a spelling error ūüôā just a cool name for a website!)

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