Ideas for Cooking Ahead for the Week

Do you get too busy during the week to eat healthy? Try cooking ahead for the week so that you always have healthy food ready to eat when you are hungry.

One of the biggest excuses people who say they want to eat healthy offer for not doing so, is that they don’t have time. But a little bit of time prepping some basic items will set you up for an entire week of healthy eating and diet success.

Rather than making one thing that you will then have to eat everyday until you are sick of it, make items that you can mix and match into different meals. You can make one easy thing fresh every night and incorporate a couple of things you just need to reheat.

Remember, your health, your weight loss success, your follow through, all depend on being able to eat food that is nourishing, delicious, and in keeping with your health goals.

Set yourself up for success and try making 3 items at the beginning of every week that you can incorporate throughout the week.

Watch the video for some ideas for great winter meals to cook ahead for the week.

Vegetable soup recipe:

  • 2 lbs carrots
  • 2 lbs celery
  • 1 lb onion
  • 2 cups split peas
  • water to cover plus 2 inches above
  • 1 ham hock (optional)
  • Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes (to taste)

Chop vegetables and sweat over a medium heat until tender. Add peas, water, spices, and ham hock. Simmer gently for 2-3 hours. Add water as needed. Store in air tight container. (May want to freeze half or make a smaller batch if your are just 1 person)

Sweet potatoes:

For this I love Trader Joe’s bags of little sweet potatoes. They come in 2, 3, and 5 lb bags. Start with a 2 lb bag and see how far into the week it will get you. It sounds like a lot, but its not once they are done.

Give the sweet potatoes a good scrubbing with a vegetable brush. Do NOT peel them! (the peel is full of nutrients and lowers the glycemic index.) Remove any blemishes with a knife.

Place a sheet of aluminum foil on the bottom of the oven before preheating it to 375 degrees. Place the cleaned potatoes directly on the middle rack of the oven (crosswise so they don’t fall through the rack). Bake for 45 minutes or until tender. Leave them in the oven to cool. Once cool stack them on a plate. They can be stored uncovered in the refrigerator all week. (and they are delicious as a cold snack!)

Spaghetti squash:

Cut spaghetti squash into quarters. Scoop out seeds and pulp. Steam chunks in a pot with a wire rack in the bottom to keep the squash out of the water, for 20 min or until strands pull away easily. Once cooked and cooled scoop out flesh of the squash and store in an air-tight container. This is a great with chili and cheese, scrambled with eggs, or just about any way you would use pasta, polenta, rice, or other starchy dish.

 

Bon Appétit!

 

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What Are Your Thought Habits

What are your thought habits?

We all have negative thoughts from time to time. Sometimes we have the same negative thoughts–a lot–daily, weekly, or even hourly!

The trick is to catch ourselves and notice what we are thinking. That way we won’t let the negativity run the show in our mind.

The other day, I had a client who is going through chemo. She was understandably struggling with some negative thought habits–ideas, fears, worst case scenario type stuff. It’s completely understandable, but not helpful! It was really bringing her down.

We worked on those negative thoughts and created some equally true and positive thoughts, just as believable, and within 10 or 15 minutes, we got her turned around, so she completely believed she could totally knock the cancer out of the park.

So start noticing your habitual thoughts. They are the keys to your life!

Reprogram your mind to turn dis-empowering thoughts into empowering thoughts.

Once the negative habits are replaced with positive ones you will experience more joy, more ease, more success, and more happiness. Your life is the product of your habitual thoughts–so have good empowering thoughts!

Want some support managing your thought habits?

Check my calendar of classes for current talks, workshops and cooking classes.

The Lie Of “Eat Less, Move more” For Weight Loss

We’ve all heard it, thought it, said it, and even believed it. At some level it is the undeniable truth, because after all, energy cannot be created or destroyed, so therefore we are what we consume, less what we burn.

BUT, we are not bomb calorimeters (devices used for precisely determining the amount of energy in organic matter). We are living, breathing, dynamic organisms with thousands of interdependent biological processes going all the time. As human beings we are similar but different, with different genetics, stresses, nutritional statuses, base health challenges, and lives. Calories in vs. calories out as a formula for body weight, becomes an incredibly complex algorithm complicated by other factors such as inflammation, fluid retention, and unexcreted waste.

When you really stop to think about it, it becomes obvious how ridiculous the one-size-fits-all advice of “eat less move more” is. Sometimes that IS exactly what is required as a first rung approach—I’m not saying that that it’s necessarily bad advice, but what about when it doesn’t work? For many who attempt it, it feels like personal failure is the problem. –That they are weak, undisciplined, broken, genetically or karmically destined to be overweight… And then they feel worse, adding an unceasing source of stress and unhappiness to an already stressed system.

And we’ve all heard it; sometimes with best of intentions, other times with disgust, condescension, or incomprehension. Unless you have lived it, it is hard to fathom that what works for you will not necessarily work for the next guy (or gal). But it is always hurtful and damaging to assert your judgments onto others because the meaning is that if only you would wake up and do what needs to be done (stop being a lazy pig) that your life would be better.

Allow me to assure you that calories-in v. calories-out, is just not a workable solution for everyone, and here’s why:

To start with, let’s note that some people get more or less energy out of the food they eat based on a number of factors including the makeup of the gut biome, genetics, and ability to digest, synthesize, and assimilate certain things. So calories-in is already an objectively suspect part of what’s supposed to be a predictable formula. Next, exercising burns calories, but it’s calories burned over a 7/24 timeline that matters more than how much is burned in an hour or so per 24 or 48-hour period. Muscle burns calories, fat does not. So it is base metabolic rate and amount of lean muscle mass that matters more than “exercise.”

Next let’s look at stress because everything comes back to stress anyway.

Stress, form a biological standpoint, is your body’s non-thinking way of monitoring safety and survivability. Metabolic output gets adjusted accordingly through chemical and hormonal messaging happening 24/7 to assure your survival in the worst circumstances. It is your body’s way of making sure precious resources don’t get used up too quickly—which was very handy in times of war, famine, and scarcity. It’s not so handy in the stressful land of plenty we live in because the stress triggers tell us we want to acquire and preserve all of the resources we possibly can just in case… So metabolic function slows, yet desire to eat (accumulate more resources) does not diminish, and if anything it increases in a properly functioning organism.

Hormones, our chemical messengers, are an interconnected system that includes cortisol, blood sugar regulation, thyroid function, sex hormones, cholesterol, etc. When one system is stressed or disrupted the others are affected too. Chronic stress can exhaust your adrenal glands to the point they no longer function properly, which means all of your hormonal systems are chronically stressed.

Stress comes in all sorts of forms beyond the typical demanding job, challenging relationships, traffic, financial worries, etc. that everyone would agree is “STRESS”. Stress can be physical, environmental, mental, and emotional. It can be sudden traumas, illness, frequent blood sugar ups and downs, chemical exposures, extremes of heat and cold, grief, or a broken heart… Some of the more subtle forms of stress include things like feeling out of integrity with yourself, not feeling like you’re living your life-purpose, or feeling like you have lost yourself in your own life. Stress can be as a result of not eating enough, or skipping meals, which your body interprets that as scarcity, which equals stress. You might take up running, or join a gym—but biologically you may as well be running from a tiger because exercise, can in fact, be interpreted as stress in an already stressed body.

We are lucky here in America to have such “first world problems,” but regardless, stress is stress and it can undermine all of your best efforts.

Nutritional deficiencies add to the challenges of energy production. Making energy is kind of like baking a cake—when you run out of the right ingredients (nutrients)—no cake—or no energy as the case may be, and trying to get through life with no energy is even more stressful! It is surprising how commonly nutritional factors play in to weight loss resistance. For those who have spent years trying to “eat less” and grit through the stress, nutritional repletion tends to be low, which basically means the energy making cupboard is bare.

Better advice than “eat less, move more” would be:

  1. Eat 3 nutritious meals per day at regular intervals
  2. Drink plenty of plain water throughout the day
  3. Sleep well, and for at least 7 hours per night–8 is better!
  4. Move your body regularly in ways you enjoy
  5. Seek out and eliminate sources of stress in your life to what ever degree possible. (Your life is yours, make it a good one!)
  6. Seek professional help to help you where you feel stuck
  7. Don’t beat yourself up over anything–it is just not helpful!

In short, be kind to yourself. If eating less and moving more doesn’t work for you—or it feels like an uphill struggle, slow down, consider what else may be going on. Maybe lack of will and determination is not the problem. Maybe there are other factors at play that you have not considered—ones that could be addressed effectively with out any pain or suffering. If it doesn’t work for you it doesn’t mean you’re weak, or broken, or hopeless; it just means that is not the path for you, or maybe at least, not for right now.

 

 

Sweet Potato “Cookies” With Cranberries And Walnut Chips

Do you need a sweet chewy holiday treat that fits in with your healthy lifestyle? If so, then try this naturally sweet and ultra nutritious option. It can be part of dinner, a not so sinful snack, or desert. It is satisfying and a good outlet for the fun of baking with out any fuss or mess.

Ingredients:

  • 2 -3 Garnet or Jewel sweet potato/yam
  • 1-2 cups fresh, firm cranberries (dried can be used instead and ½ cup should be enough)
  • ½ cup walnut pieces
  • Olive oil (or ghee or coconut oil)

Directions:

  • Peel and slice yams into ½ – ¾ inch thick rounds (Thinner rounds make for chewier cookies)
  • Grease cookie sheet somewhat generously and spread the rounds out to form a single layer. Lightly grease the top of the rounds with some additional oil with your fingers or a brush
  • Bake for 45 min in a 350 degree oven
  • While they are baking toast the walnut pieces in a dry pan on the stove top over a medium high heat. Stir constantly. It will take a few minutes and they can go from raw to burnt in just a mater of minutes so don’t walk away.
  • Flip rounds and press fresh cranberries into the top of each one and bake until the cranberries burst. About 15 min. (If using dried just bake for another 15-20 min.)
  • Once they come out of the oven press the walnut pieces into the tops of each cookie

Let cool in a single layer and then store open in the refrigerator.

10 Juice Recipes For Health & Cleansing That Look And Taste Great

A few weeks ago I got into a little bit of a debate on Facebook about juicing. Someone shared a link to an opinion piece on how juicing is bad for you. Although my friend is extremely knowledgeable about health I don’t think he really understood what juicing can be. Done wrong it is a sugar-fest that could do more harm than good. But done right, with good juice recipes, it is the core of health recovery and effective cleansing. Plus it is delicious, extremely energizing, life-affirming, and nourishing at a level that eating or blending can never reproduce.

One of the core principles of healing is to detoxify and re-nutrify your body. Juicing is the key; it is both concentrated nutrition and aids in the detoxification process.

The purpose of juicing is to give your body tremendous amounts of readily available nutrients that you don’t have to work for. By “work” I mean the work of digestion. Digestion takes a lot of energy, and when we are sick, depleted, exhausted, or not digesting properly, it’s just another drain on a limited resource. Have you ever noticed that you have more energy when you don’t eat than when you do? That you feel more sluggish after eating than after skipping a meal? This is because your body is not having to divert energy to digestion. This is one reason people feel so energized from juice. Another is that you are getting more vitamins, minerals, phyto-nutrients, and enzymes than normal, which makes your body HAPPY!

One of the reservations people have about juicing is that you loose much of that wonderful fiber plus some phyto-nutrients when you juice as opposed to eat or blend. This is true, but there are trade-offs. Let’s put trade-offs into perspective: You lose nutrients when you cook, peel, freeze/can, or store your food, but that doesn’t stop most people from doing it. Even if you eat everything fresh and raw you might not be getting all of the available nutrients since raw plant matter can be difficult to digest (and is contraindicated for people with weak digestion, or are sick, to eat a lot of it). And who really wants to eat raw meat anyway?

Blending does help break down the cell walls of fruits and veggies, which makes the nutrients more available for absorption and assimilation (as does juicing), but it would be extremely difficult to consume enough blended produce to give you the same amount of nutrition available in one cup of juice. That said, blending has it’s place: you want to UP the nutritional content of your smoothie, great! Add a handful or two of greens, but don’t kid yourself, this is not in the same league as juicing, nutritionally. Even if you are blending nothing but vegetables, you are still only consuming what you can fit in the blender plus the blending liquid, which dilutes your nutrients.

The big benefit of juicing over blending or just eating is that when you juice you take large amounts of produce and concentrate the nutrients into a form that your body can easily assimilate with very little digestion required. You flood your body with nutrition while allowing it to rest, which creates an environment for deep healing and rejuvenation.

Another reservation people have about juicing is that it contains too much sugar, but that all depends on what’s in the juice. Juice is not all one thing. Which what this article is really about: making great, health restorative juice that looks and tastes fantastic!

The right juice recipes are important. You want it to look good, taste good, and have the right balance of sweet, sour, bitter, and saltiness, without having too high of a sugar content. I’ll share some of my juice recipes, but be sure to invent some of you own as your palate and tastes develop.

A few notes here before I get to the juice recipes:

  1. All produce should be organic if possible. This is a resource to help you decide what has to be organic and what can be conventional if need be.
  2. Quantities given will yield approximately one quart + of juice but since the size of produce varies, as do the extraction abilities of various juicers, this is rough.
  3. Store juice in airtight containers to preserve freshness and nutritional integrity. I like these containers, but mason jars are okay in a pinch.
  4. Plan to consume your juice within 24 hours, but within 48-72 hours at the very most. The fresher the better since quality goes down quickly over time.
  5. If you are new to juicing you might need to up the fruit by a little bit in the beginning. As you become accustomed to the flavors, reduce the fruit. Juice should be just sweet enough to be palatable–and no more. The less sugar the better.
  6. Adjust ratios to suit your taste.
  7. All produce should be well washed before juicing.
  8. As you become familiar with juicing make up your own recipes. Experiment. But if you want to avoid drinking brown juice (unappetizing if you ask me), don’t mix reds, greens, and orange too much. Better to make 2 kinds of pretty juice than one ugly one.

Juice recipe #1: Green Apple (my personal favorite!)

  • 3 green apples (use tart apples such as granny smith or pippin rather than the sweeter varieties)
  • 3 cucumbers — equal amount to the apple (peel on unless it is waxy or bitter)
  • 1 jicama, peeled
  • 1 -2 large bunch parsley
  • 1  lemon

Juice recipe #2: Ruby Watermelon

  • 1 personal sized watermelon, peel included, or equivalent amount (be sure to use peel to keep sugar content in check)
  • 2 red beets
  • 1-2 bunch spinach
  • 1 lemon

Juice recipe #3 Pineapple Detox

  • 1 pineapple
  • 2 bunch cilantro
  • 4 cucumbers
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 lemon

Juice recipe #4 Totally Ginger

  • 6 carrots
  • 1 -2 large orange-fleshed yam, peeled
  • 4 cucumbers, peeled
  • the light green inner stalks and leaves of celery (equivalent to 3 large stalks)
  • 1″ -2″ knob of ginger, peeled

Juice recipe #5 Keto Green

  • 2 jicama, peeled
  • 2 heads celery
  • 4 cucumbers
  • 4 leaves of kale or 1 large head of Romain lettuce

Juice recipe #6 Mellow Yellow

  • 1/2 pineapple
  • 4 peeled cucumbers
  • 1 jicama
  • 1″ knob turmeric root

Juice recipe #7 Green Sunrise

  • 1 pineapple
  • 3 bunches celery
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 lemon

Juice recipe #8 Emerald Apple

  • 6 apples
  • 2 jicama (0r 3 cucumber)
  • 2 bunches kale
  • 1-2 lemons

Juice recipe #9 Watermelon Stout

  • 1 personal sized watermelon, peel included, or equivalent amount (be sure to use peel to keep sugar content in check)
  • 2 red beets
  • 2 bunches celery
  • 1 jicama

Juice recipe #10 Simple Carrot

  • 8 carrots
  • 4 cucumbers, peeled
  • 3 stalks celery

Enjoy!