Wednesday, December 9

It's the Holidays, Here Comes the Sweet Stuff!

Cravings for sweets aren't always a bad thing. It's true that often when we are craving sweets it is because of some other need that is going unfulfilled; many needs both emotional and physical will present themselves as a craving for sugar when really it is that we are lonely, or restless, or bored, or tired, or over-caffeinated, or dehydrated, or have eaten too much protein or fat and are trying to balance it out. All of these needs can be perceived as a strong desire for sweets. Unfortunately, many people respond to such cravings by going for processed, refined sugars and sweet foods, which act like a drug in the body by making the body want more while also straining the body's resources even further and resulting in more cravings, thus becoming a viscous cycle. This is why it seems impossible to avoid the candy bowl or the cookie plate once you've caved in and had a nibble.

However, it is natural for our bodies and palates to seek out sweetness in foods, so it's good to satisfy that desire- but it is important to do so with natural, wholesome, unrefined foods. Wholesome sweet foods benefit the liver as well as the spleen-pancreas, while also giving us a sense of satisfaction and well being: the "sweetness of life". They key is to pay attention to quality and amount. Some often overlooked healthy sources of sweetness are sweet vegetables such as sweet potatoes, sweet squashes like kabocha (green pumpkin), acorn, butternut and pumpkin, carrots, rutabaga, parsnips and beets, as well as a plethora of fruits. At this time of year, avoid tropical fruits that can be too sugary and cooling for our winter systems- instead opt for fruits such as pears, peaches, apples, berries, cherries, and melons, which are lower on the glycemic index (meaning they cause less of a surge in your blood sugar) and can be grown in locales most similar to where we live.

Aside from fruits and veggies, experiment with making life sweet using all natural, wholesome sweeteners such as pure maple syrup, brown rice syrup (a little-known but wonderful and healthful condiment), barley malt syrup, honey or agave nectar. Try drizzling one of these sweeteners over toasted nuts mixed with raisins, or heat up some leftover brown rice or other grain and add a sprinkling of nuts, a shake of cinnamon, and a drizzle of one of these delicious sweeteners for a warming, substantial sweet snack.

Also, rather than thinking of desire for sweets as something only satiated by snacks and desserts, bring sweetness into your main course meals. "Sweet" is one of the tastes our bodies are programmed to want naturally, so when we include the sweet taste IN our meal, we are less inclined to go for dessert or sweet snacks later. For example, tonight I will be making aduki beans (small, red beans that lend themselves well to sweet flavor) cooked together with chunks of sweet, tender acorn squash and sweetened with a little bit of pure maple syrup, served over a bed of quinoa with sauteed garlic green beans on the side. After a meal as sweet as that, who needs dessert?

Interested in finding out more about what foods are right for your own body and why? Looking for personalized information and support to help you change your eating and lifestyle choices in order to achieve your own specific goals for health and wellness? Contact me to set up a consultation:

Tuesday, December 1

Surviving the Holidays

Greetings Everyone!

With Thanksgiving now behind us and Christmas looming ahead, take a moment to check in with how you are treating your body this year. You've all seen the articles, recipes, tips and to-do lists that are aimed at helping you to stay healthier and avoid temptation during the holidays, but the first step is to just become aware of how you are living in your body. Do you feel that you are inside your body at all? Are you noticing it's patterns and rhythms, what makes it feel good and what makes it feel bad, and what makes it feel really awful? Are you paying attention to the emotional effects of neglecting your body and it's needs?

When I was at home for Thanksgiving vacation, my father said something in jest that struck a chord in me. In reference to all of the typical holiday overindulging, he said "Our poor tummies. We put them through so much." He was joking, but there is a profound truth in what he said: our bodies are working around the clock to keep us moving, breathing, digesting, processing, and living. Our digestive system plays a huge role in that, because food is the fuel for all of our bodily needs, and the digestive system is responsible for taking that food and converting it into energy, as well as satisfaction and a sense of comfort. Yet often, especially at this time of year, we treat eating as a sensory free-for-all and throw any concern about what we are feeding our bodies out the window. Our "tummies" are left to contend with more sugar, fat, processed/refined foods, and way more calories than they can process healthfully. The result is sluggishness, weight gain, decreased energy, heightened stress, and seemingly inevitable feelings of despair and failure.

However, we can decide to make a change. There are many things we can do in our day to day lives to create a healthier holiday time for ourselves, and I will be posting about them in the coming weeks. But for the time being, make that most important step: Slow down and take a moment to check in with yourself, and with your body. Appreciate it for all that it does for you to keep you going in your life, and be aware of how your choices affect it's processes- not only physically, but emotionally. Actually BE in your body. It sounds obvious, but it isn't- most people are going throughout their day living completely up in their heads. Instead, get to know what it feels like to be inside your body by moving your awareness there, and see how it feels- simply take a moment, and practice sending your awareness there- once you become used to it, it will come much more easily. When we are in our bodies, we can be aware of our emotional and physical states and what we need to do to satisfy our needs, rather than constantly being distracted by the noise and chatter in our heads that promotes the quick fix and the sensory indulgence. This is the first and most crucial step to making health and food choices that will support you physically and emotionally, and fulfill your body's needs. The more in your body you are, the easier it becomes to intuitively make choices that will sustain and support you, not deplete and defeat you.

So, notice where last week's indulgences have perhaps caused some negative side effects, either physically or emotionally; or, conversely, notice how that run outside or meditation session or yoga class or new healthy vegetable recipe or restraint around the pie over the holiday helped you to feel more balanced, centered, healthy, and just plain good in your body. At this time of year above all, we must remember that everything we do it a choice, and we have no one but ourselves to hold responsible for the outcome of those choices. Let that idea empower rather than intimidate you: your health, fitness, weight, and well being; it is all in your hands, even at this challenging time of year. And the first step is awareness.

Check back in often over the next few weeks for tips and tidbits to help you soldier through the holiday season healthfully and happily!

Interested in finding out more about what foods are right for your own body and why? Looking for personalized information and support to help you change your eating and lifestyle choices in order to achieve your own specific goals for health and wellness? Contact me to set up a consultation:

Tuesday, April 14

Green Leaves- It's A Wrap!

Bored of the same old sandwiches and looking for a way to cut some carb calories and add some easy veggies into your diet? Consider a new take on your classic sandwich or wrap- cut the bread. I am not an advocate of no-carb or even most low-carb diets, but as I have said before, it is a question of WHICH carbs you are eating. Most bread and sandwich wraps are mainly refined carbs made from processed flour, which means that much of the fiber and nutrients have been removed and often sugar and preservatives have been added. The calories? Yep, they're still there. And don't fall into the assumption that a wrap has less calories or is more nutritious than bread for your sandwich: it simply is a case of the bread in a wrap being more dense and flat due to not having been risen with yeast. Most wraps pack a serious carb and calorie wallop before they're even filled, unbeknownst to those chomping down on them. So consider saving the majority of your carb consumption for whole grains in their original form such as brown rice, barley, oats (as in oatmeal), quinoa, millet and buckwheat. When it comes time for lunch, you can still have a quick, easy, eat-with-your-hands meal by using the broad, flat leaves of leafy green veggies as the vehicle for your fillings.

My personal favorite for this purpose is collard green leaves. Most people have only had collard greens cooked in the traditional Southern manner (boiled for ages and then seasoned with lard and/or bacon and tons of salt), or they've never had them at all. Collard greens are packed full of fiber, vitamins, and nutrients, as well as chlorophyll that is essential for healthy GI tract functioning and liver and kidney function. Collard green leaves can be purchased at your fruit and vegetable market or in the produce section of your grocery store; they come as a bunch of large, flat, dark green leaves with a rib down the middle. All you need to do is remove the bottom two inches or so of the rib that sticks off of the leaf, wash and pat dry, and your ready to make your "wrap".

Take one leaf, spread with a small amount of your dressing of choice if desired, then make a long, thin, horizontal pile of your fillings towards one end of the leaf, and roll up. Pretty simple! My suggestion is to use several leaves and parcel out your sandwich fillings amongst them- that way you are getting several large leaves at one sitting and increasing your vegetable-to-protein intake; more fiber and nutrients to benefit from, and better for your digestion, too. Divide up tuna salad or hummus or marinated tofu sticks and add toppings such as avocado, olives, shredded carrots, or alfalfa sprouts, and then roll up. Another great option is to throw in your leftovers, like cooked rice and/or beans and a mix of cooked and raw vegetables. If you want to make a meat sandwich, consider using one slice of cold cut per roll along with lots of other veggies and your dressing of choice. This will also help you to fill up on veggies and cut out excess meat protein from your meal- you only need a small amount of meat to get the benefit of the protein, and most deli sandwiches as you may have noticed really lay on the meat, to the detriment of our health and our waistlines.

If you don't have collard greens handy or can't find them at your store, you can also use this idea with romaine lettuce, boston lettuce, or butter lettuce; anything green that has a flat and sturdy enough leaf to pile fillings into and roll up. But remember, while lettuce is good, darker and more fibrous greens such as collards give you more bang for your buck in the nutrition department. Happy Eating!

Interested in finding out more about what foods are right for your own body and why? Looking for personalized information and support to help you change your eating and lifestyle choices in order to achieve your own specific goals for health and wellness? Contact me to set up a consultation:

Tuesday, March 31

Wanna Cool Down With A Sweet or Frosty Treat?

With temperatures rising and the sun shining, many people are finding themselves craving cool, sweet treats. Instead of reaching for the ice cream or calorie-laden iced coffee drinks, here are some ideas for super easy cool treats and desserts that won't run down your body or sabotage your waistline. (Note: the following treats are cooling to the body, so it is not best to indulge when nursing a seasonal Spring cold or flu....wait until you feel better, and then enjoy!)

Apple Frosty:

Pour 4 ounces (half a cup) of 100% natural apple cider or no sugar added apple juice into a freezer safe glass or cup. Freeze for long enough that it becomes thoroughly slushy, but not completely frozen. Remove and eat as is with a spoon or add a splash of filtered water, mix, and enjoy as a sweet frozen drink. Apple juice is more easily processed by the body than citrus juices, which are acidic and can tax the liver and kidneys.

Iced Chai Latte:

Steep one bag of chai tea (use the brand of your choice, Tazo works well) in 8 ounces boiling water for 5-10 minutes, until dark. Add three ounces of organic rice milk or soy milk and 2 teaspoons of agave nectar, maple syrup, or honey, and stir well. Pour over a tall glass of ice and enjoy as is, or blend with ice in a blender for a frosty iced drink.

(note on the two above: iced drinks and beverages are very cooling in nature and can weaken the kidneys if overused, so use these in moderation, and consider drinking your other beverages throughout the day either at room temperature or at least without ice)

Tofu Mousse (makes 2 servings):

Cut a block of store-bought tofu in half, blend in a blender with 1 tbsp maple syrup and a shake of cinnamon to taste (or mash thoroughly with a fork if you don't have a blender) . Divide into two small bowls, top each with 1 tbsp chopped nuts of your choice if desired. This tasty dessert contains lots of fiber and protein and is a great substitute for dairy desserts, which often pack saturated fats and extra calories while also requiring more effort by the body to process due to the more complicated nature of animal foods. Tofu is a cooling food by nature, so if you run hot by nature or are feeling overheated, this is a great choice!

Banana "Ice Cream":

Peel and freeze a banana until frozen but not rock solid (if the bananas are frozen solid, leave them out of the freezer long enough to just soften). Mash with a fork until you achieve a smooth, frozen consistency. In a small saucepan, warm 2 tbsp of raisins mixed with 1 tbsp maple syrup, honey, or agave nectar, and drizzle over banana "ice cream". A sprinkling of chopped nuts or cinnamon can be added if desired. Bananas are rich in potassium and fiber, and when frozen provide a low calorie but still sweet and filling alternative to ice cream.

Frozen Avocado-Lime Mousse (makes 2 servings):

Puree one avocado, the juice of one lime, and 1 tsp agave nectar either in a blender or thoroughly mash with a fork. Divide into 2 small freezer safe bowls, and freeze until firm. Remove and eat immediately, or leave out for awhile before eating for a softer mousse. Avocados are packed with fiber, protein, and healthy Omega-3 fats, while small amounts of lime juice are strengthening and cleansing for the liver. Happy Eating!

Interested in finding out more about what foods are right for your own body and why? Looking for personalized information and support to help you change your eating and lifestyle choices in order to achieve your own specific goals for health and wellness? Contact me to set up a consultation:

Tuesday, February 24

Seminar: The Healing Power of Vegetables!

I will be giving a talk on the Healing Power of Vegetables on Tuesday, March 10th, from 7:00-8:30 pm at OMALA on Atlantic Avenue in Downtown Brooklyn. OMALA is a yoga store and center specializing in eco-friendly yoga wear and also offering classes and workshops centered around health and well being. For directions and subways, visit . Please see the announcement below, and make sure to contact OMALA to RSVP for this event! It is going to be fun and very informative, and I hope to see you there!

"The Healing Power of Vegetables"
with Erica Duryea
400 Atlantic Avenue (at Bond St)
Tuesday March 10th, 7:00 – 8:30 pm

Come down to OMALA Tuesday evening, March 10th, for an enlightening evening with Certified Nutrition Counselor Erica Duryea that will guarantee you’ll never see vegetables the same way again! With Spring approaching, it is the body’s natural time to cleanse, detoxify, and renew. What better way to do that than with vegetables, the nutrition powerhouses of our planet?

Erica will be discussing different kinds of vegetables and what each offers to us in terms of cleansing, nurturing, and stabilizing our systems. You will learn how the different vegetables correspond to the different functions in your body and how each can be used to benefit and balance your health, along with a show and tell to help you become more familiar with the lesser-known healing helpers.

Most Americans don’t get nearly enough vegetables in their diets, and it takes more than just salads! Don’t deprive yourself any longer. Come down and join us for an evening of fun, facts, questions and answers, and take home some expertise that will surely put the Spring in your step!

Cost: $10 per person
Please contact OMALA at 718-694-9642 to RSVP

Interested in finding out more about what foods are right for your own body and why? Looking for personalized information and support to help you change your eating and lifestyle choices in order to achieve your own specific goals for health and wellness? Contact me to set up a consultation:

Wednesday, February 18

Taking Time vs. Making Time

My high school guidance counselor, who was also my Physics teacher, once addressed our class and said "People, there is one thing in this world that you will never have enough of, no matter what. That is Time."

At the time, I thought it was very profound and absolutely 100% true, I myself being a person who has perpetually struggled with the art of time management since I arrived into this world. However, now that I have some more age and experience under my belt, I can see that while on the surface this appears to be true, it is also the generally held idea of "not having enough time" that keeps us stuck in habits of time wasting and stressing about time, all the while holding us back from truly enjoying and using to our highest benefit the time that we do have. Let's be honest: we have days, weeks, months, and years. We do have all the time that we need; it is a matter of learning a balance between prioritizing how we spend that time and also going with the flow, and that I think is what was at the root of what my teacher was trying to impart to us. He was trying to tell us that we needed to learn to live our desired lives while accomplishing what we needed to get done in the time that we DO have, rather than to focus on an idea of endless time that does not exist.

It is easy and very human to get stuck in a broken record message of "not having enough time" to cook dinner, bring lunch to work, go to the gym, take a walk, play with your kids, have a heart-to-heart talk with your partner, look for a new job, or clean your apartment. In reality, we spend minutes, hours, days and weeks telling ourself how little time we have while we tune out in front of the internet, the TV, or at work, numbing ourselves to needs that we want and deserve to fill "if we only had the time". Everyone can relate to this...when was the last time you got so worked up about how little time you had that in the end you got nothing on your list done, not even the "important" things? We need to tune out that mental noise and still the anxiety inside of us about not having enough time, and instead repeat the message to ourselves that we have all the time that we need, and WE decide how we are going to use it. Because, no matter what, it is important for us to realize the truth in that statement. Everything that we do, everything that we say, everything that we make, use, or eat, is a choice.

So what matters to you? I hear so often "I don't have time to do that". So often, it is an excuse that a person is using to keep themselves in the same safe, numb routine of not having to push themselves, not having to face the fear of bettering themselves or taking on new goals. It is a message that's been repeating in the person's mind for so long that they don't even see the damage that it's causing by depriving them of the satisfaction that they are capable and deserving of. At the root of it, it's a way of cheating oneself, and keeping oneself down, because it's familiar and easy that way. We do it all the time, and we don't have to!

Let's take exercise: people say that they don't have time to go to the gym or exercise. Generally speaking, 45 minutes to 1 hour of the day, 5 days a week should be spent doing some kind of physical activity or exercise, but 30 minutes a day is a great start. So let's say you have a heavy work schedule and feel that you can't give one hour of the day 5 days a week to the gym. You say to yourself "Well forget it, if I can't do that, then why bother with anything". But wait. If you live in a city, you can walk to work. 9 out of 10 days, the weather is just fine for walking to work, even in winter. We all have coats and scarves and gloves; bundle up! 20-30 minutes each way walking to and from work gives you between 40 minutes - 1 hour of exercise 5 days of the week; it's completely free, and actually saves you money on your transportation costs. Not to mention, most people's subway commute with walking on either end winds up taking about 30 minutes anyway, so that gets rid of the "not having time" excuse. Not into walking outside? Weather just too awful? Buy yourself a few inexpensive workout DVDs online. They usually run about $12-$15 and many of them on the market are designed to give you a full toning workout in 20-30 minutes. Pop one of these into the DVD player when you get up in the morning before your shower, or at night after work and before dinner, and there you go: that 30 minutes you would have spent reading email with your coffee has now been spent giving you a healthy, energized body. If you really get into it, do one in the morning and a different one at night. You will hardly notice each 30 minutes you've spent in the comfort of your own home, but at the end of the day you've exercised for an hour without really having sacrificed much.

The same goes for cooking and preparing food. So often people tell themselves they don't have time to make a healthy lunch and bring it to work. In reality, it takes less time to whip something up at home and toss it into a bag than it takes to leave the office, walk or drive over to the deli or take-out place, stand in line, and return to the office with your food. And when you add in the money you save from bringing your own lunch, the health benefits are the biggest benefit but by no means the only one! Generally what I see when I begin working with people is that lunch is their unhealthiest meal; they are either skipping lunch entirely because they "don't have enough time", or they are scarfing down a nutritionally-deficient meal laden with calories, fat, and sodium because it was whatever they could grab at the nearest food joint. Instead, try stocking the kitchen with the following easy lunch staples: nuts of various kinds, fresh fruits, hummus, beans (either home-cooked or in a can), chopped raw vegetables, cooked vegetables (dinner leftovers are great for this), cooked rice (can be made ahead of time and kept for days), carrot and celery sticks, dried fruit, whole grain bread or wraps, zip lock bags and small plastic containers. Here is a lunch idea: fill one ziploc bag with a small handful of nuts mixed with a little bit of dried fruit, another one with a bunch of carrots and celery sticks, a small plastic container of hummus, and a small container of beans tossed with brown rice and a little olive oil and vinegar. If you have some raw or cooked vegetables (dinner leftovers are great for this), toss them in with the beans and rice.

Another lunch idea: grab a piece of fresh fruit or a little bag of fresh berries, a little bag of olives, a whole grain wrap spreaded with hummus and filled with raw or cooked veggies, and a small container of fresh salad on the side. You can mix and match the parts and use your imagination; it doesn't have to be fancy, it has to be functional. For some great, easy veggie ideas and to make sure you are covering your bases, read the Varying your Veggies post further down on this page.

Most importantly, when it comes to time and having enough of it, as paradoxical as it may seem, you need to SLOW DOWN. We do so much rushing around these days, it's no wonder we are in a fit over having enough time. This is such an important thing to remember in our day to day life, because the days will pass whether we are noticing them or not, and our valuable moments can pass us by if we are not careful to appreciate them. Take this lesson into the most basic aspects of your day. Remember to breathe, and be calm. You cannot and will not accomplish everything in one day; you aren't supposed to. Start to rethink the messages you repeat to yourself about not having enough time, and then be honest with yourself about it. Where can you carve out some more time from tasks that are not important to you and give that precious time over to the things you have been promising to do for yourself?

Stay tuned for more Tips on Time in following entries, including information about the importance of eating slowly and chewing, and how to save time and bucks by preparing easy, wallet friendly meals at home!

Interested in finding out more about what foods are right for your own body and why? Looking for personalized information and support to help you change your eating and lifestyle choices in order to achieve your own specific goals for health and wellness? Contact me to set up a consultation:

Wednesday, January 21

A Time for Change

As we enter into a new and exciting time for our nation, a time of hope and the promise of renewal, now is the perfect time to reflect on new beginnings; on the promise of hope and the possibility of change. How many times a day do you catch yourself thinking about something you want to change about your life...something you want to be, want to do, or not do, and how many times is that thought followed by "I can't" ? Why are we so quick to dismiss ourselves? Why do we remain stuck in the idea that we cannot possibly achieve what we want for ourselves, even while we see amazing and wonderful things happening around us in our world?

Very often, this is the case with issues pertaining to our health and wellness. Take, for example, the currently timely New Year's Resolutions that many people have committed to once again. Many of the more common ones are health and wellness related: "I will lose weight this year. I will get a gym membership, and use it. I will drink less alcohol. I will quit smoking. I will take up cooking and preparing my own food/ I won't eat out as much." We put these wishes out there, we set these goals for ourselves, and then we defeat ourselves every step of the way. Why are we so thrilled to see change and the triumph of hope over fear on the national scale but so afraid to exercise that same hope and will to change when it comes to the decisions that shape our very own bodies, spirits, and lives? More importantly, what would happen if we took charge and decided that Yes, We Can do something about our own state of health and wellness? You CAN lose weight, you CAN exercise, you CAN eat more conscientiously, you CAN commit to nurturing yourselves and the environment by choosing healthful, safe foods that do not harm your bodies and our planet, you CAN inform and educate yourselves on what foods and lifestyle practices are going to help you along on your journey to wellness and incorporate them into your lives, and you CAN seek out and implement the tools that are going to create this change in yourselves. All of these decisions are your own to make, no one else's. And there is nothing standing in your way of making them except for fear and self-doubt. What if you told yourself today that you can do these things for yourself, if you empowered yourself to go forth and claim what you want and deserve with no excuses or reservations?

Imagine the power of telling yourself, and really believing, that You Can. Imagine the doors that would open up to you. Imagine that nothing could hold you back. Because, in truth, nothing can but yourself.

Greet the new era and the New Year with motivation, intention, and a promise that you will go out and create the life that you want for yourself!

Interested in finding out more about what foods are right for your own body and why? Looking for personalized information and support to help you change your eating and lifestyle choices in order to achieve your own specific goals for health and wellness? Contact me to set up a consultation:

Thursday, January 15

Vary Your Veggies: Going Beyond Salads

Now, nothing against salad. Salad just means a bunch of ingredients tossed together; generally containing vegetables, and often but not always eaten cold. However, many people make the mistake of assuming their vegetable requirements are being met as long as they have some salad each day. This depends on the salads in question, and is usually not the case. For many working professionals, the "Toss-a-Salad" counter at the local deli is their go-to spot for lunch. This would be a good thing...if that salad were not a small pile of lettuce which is then generously topped with meats, cheeses, buttery croutons, and a heavy cream dressing. Take a look around the next time you are at the Toss-a-Salad counter; most of the salads being handed back over that partition to the customers' waiting hands are packing a serious caloric punch, and not much of a nutritional one. And then people wonder why they can't lose weight when they eat salad for lunch every day.....

The fact of the matter is that largely due to our culture's food habits, which have increasingly focused on protein and animal foods and not on vegetables and fiber rich foods, many of us are out of touch with how many vegetables we need and what we should be looking for in our vegetables. I was at a restaurant this weekend where the entree salad on the menu offered mixed greens topped with cheese and three types of meat. Not a choice of three meats; three meats together. No other vegetables were mentioned in the description of the salad. However, many people would see that item and think "Good choice; I haven't had my vegetables yet for the day".

So what do we want from our vegetables? What fits the bill if not your basic restaurant salad? Your best bet is to go with variety. Go beyond lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Go for texture, deep color, fibrousness. Choose vegetables of all colors, shapes, sizes, textures, tastes and types. When you go to the store, make a point of trying some different vegetables each week along with your staples. The deeper the color, the more nutritious. Vegetables are packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and nutrients....they keep your digestive tract working smoothly, they cleanse and detoxify your system, they strengthen your heart and other organs, they support your respiratory system, and they regulate the balance of bacteria in your body. The best way to make sure you are fulfilling your requirements is to get a good variety of veggies so that you are covering all your bases.

Some tips to get you there:

If you want to have salad for lunch, simply take a different approach at the Toss-a-Salad counter or at home; for your greens, choose arugula or mixed greens to get more nutrients than basic romaine lettuce. Then, skip the heavy meats, cheeses, buttered croutons and creamy dressing and instead top your greens with protein packed edamame, garbanzo, or kidney beans (or a mixture), raw broccoli, shredded carrots, artichoke hearts, red cabbage, healthy-fat olives,and a dash of olive oil and vinegar for dressing. Make sure that if the beans are your main protein, that you have the server add enough to keep you full rather than just a sprinkling. If you are going to opt for meat on your salad instead of beans, then make sure to skip cheese, or egg, or creamy dressing; too many animal foods in one meal make digestion sluggish and assimilation difficult. An excess of animal protein also puts stress on the liver and kidneys. Instead, focus on one ingredient as the "protein" ingredient, and have the rest be nutrition-packed vegetables. Make sure to include some olive oil and/or a small amount of nuts or seeds for the healthy fat that will keep you full and allow your body to absorb the nutrients of the veggies.

What about when the meal isn't salad? How many veggies do you eat then? When you think of your plate, imagine that the area you are going to fill is a clock. Half of the clock should be vegetables; 12- 6 o'clock. Out of the remaining 6 hours, half should be complex carbs and half should be protein. Example: 12 - 6 o'clock is broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots; 6 - 9 o'clock is beans; 9 - 12 o'clock is brown rice. Once you have your proportions down, you can rotate in whatever foods you are having at a given meal. 12 - 6 o'clock is kale, beets, and brussels sprouts, 6 - 9 o'clock is broiled fish, 9 - 12 o'clock is quinoa. Once you get in the habit, you will see how satisfied you feel when you are consuming vegetables in these proportions. You will also notice the benefits in your waistline; think of how many less calories you are eating if half of your entire plate is vegetables. Most importantly, eating that quantity and variety of vegetables will help you to meet your nutrient requirements and give you the fiber that your body needs to keep it running efficiently.

Here are some new veggies to add in as you broaden your vegetable horizons.

If You Like --> Then Try:

Sauteed Spinach --> Sauteed Kale, Collard Greens, or Arugula
Roasted Carrots --> Roasted Parsnips
Baked Sweet Potatoes --> Baked Butternut or Kabocha Squash (looks like a green pumpkin)
Raw Cucumbers, Celery --> Raw Daikon (japanese white radish)
Steamed Broccoli --> Steamed Brussel Sprouts

Remember, variety and quantity is key when it comes to vegetables. There is a whole world outside of salad; veggies can be eaten raw, baked, stewed, steamed, sauteed, roasted, or grilled. Sometimes falling in love with a vegetable is simply a matter of trying it prepared differently. Broccoli and cauliflower, which are generally steamed, are also wonderful when roasted with olive oil and garlic. Squash, which is often baked, is also wonderful cooked into a bean stew. For that matter, cooked vegetables make a wonderful "salad" when tossed together with raw vegetables and some beans or lean meat for protein. Use your imagination, Happy Eating!

Interested in finding out more about what foods are right for your own body and why? Looking for personalized information and support to help you change your eating and lifestyle choices in order to achieve your own specific goals for health and wellness? Contact me to set up a consultation:

Monday, January 12

Going with the Grain

You've all heard how important it is to eat breakfast. And yet, many people make a practice of skipping breakfast frequently or settling for a cup of coffee as they rush out the door. If this is you, consider the fact that you are depriving yourself of more than just a satisfied stomach. Skipping breakfast leads to crashing energy levels during the day, overeating at lunch and/or dinner, caffeine dependency, sugar cravings, and difficulty losing weight. It is proven that people who eat breakfast are more successful at losing and maintaining their weight than those that don't. If you find yourself tempted to snooze on your desk by mid-day or grabbing at snacks all day long, it's time to revamp your breakfast routine.

So what's for breakfast? We're all familiar with the usual culprits. I don't need to tell you that donuts, giant bagels, and sugary pastries are not going to serve you well in terms of your health or your waistline. So what serves us best first thing in the morning? The ideal choice is a breakfast that incorporates healthy complex carbohydrates and protein with a little bit of fat. One great way to cover your bases is to eat whole grains for breakfast in the form of a porridge or hot cereal. Cold cereals are tricky because most are made from mainly refined carbs and contain loads of sugar (and forms of sugar under various disguises of different names) and not much protein or fiber, never mind that they pack a lot of empty calories. Same goes for breads and bread products. But hot cereals and porridges, such as plain steel cut oatmeal or Bob's Red Mill brand whole grain hot cereals, are packed with fiber and protein and they are made from grains in their whole, original form, not refined grains that have been stripped of their integrity and nutritional value. Whole grains are proven to sustain energy levels for much longer than refined grains, thus keeping you full longer and curbing energy crashes that lead to cravings for snacks, sugar and caffeine. They also contain more vitamins, minerals, and fiber to keep your body healthy, strong, and functioning properly. To complete the picture of your whole grain breakfast, sprinkle on some chopped up nuts, ground flaxseed, or toasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds for the ealthy fat that will keep you satisfied throughout the morning and into your day.

Like it sweet? Opt for a small amount of honey, maple syrup or other natural sweetener like brown rice syrup or agave nectar, but keep it to one tablespoon or less. Another option for added sweetness is to sprinkle on a small amount of dried fruit. Like it salty? You can use a light sprinkle of pure sea salt and any other savory spices you enjoy, or try sprinkling on some dried seaweed for an extra mineral boost. If that sounds crazy to you, don't worry, seaweed at breakfast is not for everyone....but you might want to try it sometime, it's delicious and incredibly nutritious. Believe it or not, seaweed is 20% protein by weight and is one of the most mineral-rich foods on the planet.

If you're ready to go further than oatmeal or high fiber hot cereal and get the amazing health benefits of a variety of whole grains in their original state, try making your own porridge with any combination of whole grains or just one grain solo. Some options are: brown rice, quinoa, millet, amaranth, kasha (buckwheat), and barley. Simply purchase the grains in their original form (health food stores will have the ones that are less familiar to you), soak them for a few hours overnight or wash them well in warm water and drain, add 3 parts fresh water to 1 part grain in a pot, bring to a boil and then simmer covered for 20-30 minutes (depending on the grain). This can also be done the night before and then just heated up for breakfast; and you can make enough for several days at a time and just reheat some each morning in a pot on the stove. These grains are going to give you the biggest nutritional bang for your buck at breakfast, and while they take a little more time, they are well worth it. Season as described above and add a small amount of nuts or seeds for althy fat resulting in a delicious, nutritious, and balanced start to your day. You'll find yourself with more energy, fewer snacking urges, and less need for sugar and caffeine to keep you going. You will also likely notice that your weight loss efforts will get a big boost. What you eat at breakfast and how you feel as a result sets the tone for the rest of your day, so go with the grain and get off on the right foot!

Interested in finding out more about what foods are right for your own body and why? Looking for personalized information and support to help you change your eating and lifestyle choices in order to achieve your own specific goals for health and wellness? Contact me to set up a consultation:


Hello and Welcome to Wellness Realized!

Here I will be sharing health and nutrition tips, healthy recipes, articles, and guidelines on how to maximize your health and wellness even when schedules are full and budgets are tight. There will be tips for weight loss, reducing stress, increasing energy, sleeping better, introductions to new and healthy foods along with instructions on how to prepare them, and tools for how to eat well and keep it simple. Simplicity and feasibility are the keys to success, so check in often to learn lots of little ways to make big changes!

I am a Certified Nutrition and Wellness Counselor with a private practice in one on one counseling, and I am available to deliver group seminars and presentations on various topics pertaining to nutrition and wellness as well as to offer freelance consulting for projects and research. Visit my website at if you'd like to learn more about my practice and how nutrition and wellness counseling can help you to achieve your health and wellness goals.