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.