30 Things I learned on Whole 30 by Guest Blogger One Healthy Hamptons

I am SOOOO excited to have as a guest blogger, Kiley from onehealthyhamptons.com. She and I are both wellness warriors in the Hamptons, and it’s been such an honor to team up with her. We have a very similar take on the Whole 30 movement/diet and I wanted to share her list of things she learned while on Whole 30, because I feel the exact same way. 

Kiley DeMarco, MSW, NLC, is the founder of One Healthy Hamptons website, community, and e-magazine for all things healthy in the Hamptons, and co-founder of Hamptons Wellness WeekKiley is Nutritious Life Certified in Nutrition and has a Masters Degree in Clinical Social Work from Boston College Graduate School of Social Work. She lives in Sag Harbor with her husband and their Swiss Mountain Dog, Sammy.

I recently completed my first (and probably my last!) Whole30. 30 days of whole foods and not a speck of grains, dairy, soy, legumes, corn, baked goods, or added sugar of any kind. I know, I know, “what the heck did you eat?!” Lots and lots of plants, lean protein, nuts and seeds, that’s what! Oh, and not a drop of alcohol. Sounds fun, right?! If you’re wondering why I would do such a thing, (I don’t blame you!) The book It Starts With Food, by the founders of the Whole30 program, inspired me to dig deeper into my own diet and lifestyle, eliminating the foods/food groups above in order to re-evaluate how my body reacts to them after the 30 days. For more specifics about the Whole30 program, click here!
Whole 30 snacks

Although it was tough to adjust and even tougher to refrain from just one little teeny tiny drink, (hello, it is rosé season!) I learned a ton over the past 30 days. Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly:

1. Sugar is errrrywhere and we’re all pretty seriously addicted to it. You’ve probably heard this in some capacity, but what does that mean?

2. Consuming sugar, artificial sweeteners, and natural alternatives like honey, maple syrup, and even stevia, on a regular basis not only “feed the sugar dragon,” but also throw off our taste buds, cravings, and ability to reach satiety normally.

3. Personally, I do not enjoy black coffee; however, I discovered over these thirty days that I do enjoy unsweetened coffee. Over the past ten years or so, I’ve transitioned from a serious overload of artificial sweetener to cutting back, replacing it with more natural stevia, cutting back on stevia, and now I finally was able to rid my coffee of any sweetener. Whole30 forced me to learn to enjoy my coffee simply with Homemade CocoNut Milk and this is definitely a habit I’m happy to keep. Now I truly savor my coffee, no longer crave it sweet, and rarely do I need a second cup. Remember that baby steps are the way to change a habit for the better. Try cutting the sweetener in your coffee in half to start, if you’re soda drinker, replace one soda a day with seltzer, or satisfy your sweet tooth by having a piece of fruit for dessert. It really does get easier and easier, trust me on this!

4. That’s not to say that occasionally indulging in sweets you truly love is not absolutely necessary to living a balanced life. My love affair with dark chocolate has rekindled and our flame is going strong…although I do not neeeeeeeed it daily like I used to!

5. While many people argue that they don’t have time to eat healthy, healthy meals made from real, whole foods can be very convenient. The Whole30 program made me simplify my meals, at first, simply because of less options to choose from, but now, out of habit. Going forward, I’ll continue with this practice as I’ve noticed that less-complicated meals are easier to digest.

6. I re-discovered some great staples I had been overlooking, like good old scrambled eggs. Nothing fancy necessary. Why? Because…

7. REAL FOOD TASTES GOOD! Seasoning your meals with herbs and spices, tasting the sweetness of a piece of fruit, and savoring the true flavors of food is what it’s all about. Again, baby steps. Your palette will adjust and your body will learn to not only like real foods, but crave them. Trust me, trust me, trust me.

8. Fat does not make you fat. How do I know? Well, I did not gain (or lose) any weight on Whole30, even though I was eating a lot more (healthy) fat on a daily basis – more nuts, oil, avocado, etc.

9. More fat is not better. Some is best.

10. Whole30 or not, portions size is crucial to healthy eating, even when eating all healthy foods.

11. Avocado has my ❤ on a daily basis.

12. This may turn your world upside down: peanuts are not actually nuts. A peanut is a legume, like beans, which means that your body may react differently to peanuts or peanut butter than it does nuts and other nut butters. Just some food for thought. And, yes, I did cut out peanut butter for 30 days (if you know me at all, you know that peanut butter is my favorite food in the whole wide world.) Instead, I ate homemade almond and cashew butters as well as sunflower seed butter, that just may top peanut butter on my list of favorite foods. I’m happy to say that peanut butter does now make a regular appearance in my diet; however, it is not the only thing I think about morning, noon, and night, which is probably a good thing because there are other things in life, right?

13. Rules takes the guess work out. I’m not a big fan of long-term labels, strict diets, or restriction, but committing to a short-term plan can be motivating enough that there’s no need for willpower.

14. It’s really, REALLY scary what is in 95% of our “food” these days. For example, even something like store-bought “all natural” almond milk, which a lot of people think of as a healthy upgrade, has far more ingredients than just almonds. What the heck are locust bean gum or carrageenan and why are they in my almond milk?! I decided to break up with store-bought milk for the time being and stick to my new love, Homemade CocoNut Milk. Same with the aforementioned nut butters. Just make your own or buy the ones made with just nuts. There really is no need for ‘palm fruit oil’ in your jar of nut butter. Just like there’s no need for added sugar in your tomato sauce, soy isolate in your snacks, or high fructose corn syrup in…ANYTHING. That’s a no-no no matter what.

15. Which brings me to my next point that I just can’t say enough: READ YOUR LABELS.

16. And do what’s right for you. As I said…

17. Eating healthy doesn’t mean eating only the latest superfoods or trying the latest diet trend. It means knowing what foods make you feel healthy and good.

18. If a food/food group makes you feel energized and healthy, you should probably eat it.

19. If a food/food group makes you feel crappy, tired, or sick, you probably shouldn’t eat it.

20. Whole foods are super versatile, see below:

Zuchinni noodles

21. Another little fun fact I learned over the past 30 days is that any woman in her 20′s or 30′s that declares that she’s not drinking will, without a doubt, be labeled as pregnant, whether it’s by your waiter or your best friends.

22. Drinking seltzer water or kombucha out of a wine glass is not the same as drinking wine, but that’s alright.

23. Waking up on a Sunday morning without any hint of a hangover or headache is worth all of the above – sacrificing the wine and being labeled pregnant.

24. Smoothies are delicious and nutritious. Smoothies aren’t on Whole30 due to a lack of chewing, the act that kick-starts digestion and satiation. So, what’s a smoothie lover to do? Chew your smoothie! Seriously, do it. I missed my smoothiesgreen smoothies, and smoothie bowls and am happy to introduce them back into my routine, especially heading into the summer season!

25. It is possible to have too much meat, even lean, organic, grass-fed meat. I got sick of chicken after the first week on Whole30. Happy to say that I’ve since reintroduced tempeh and veggie burgers for some delicious meatless protein. Although I know that for me, everything in moderation works when it comes to protein, I totally respect the vegetarians, vegans, and paleos of the world too. Did I mention to do what’s right for you?! I think I did.

26. The benefit of minty fresh breath after a garlicky meal just may outweigh the drawbacks of chewing gum. Again, something I cut wayyyy back but am not willing to give up completely. Yet.

27. The dreams are real folks. The Whole30 book warns that people on Whole30 may experience weird dreams about eating off-plan foods (which means that you start over at day one.) I’m pretty sure that I had some sort of cheating-on-Whole30-food dream every single night for a month straight. Some worse than others: on the eve of day 30, I dreamed that I weighed myself and the scale read 498 pounds. Thankfully, I woke up.

28. There is something so refreshing about breaking up with the scale. You’re not allowed to weigh yourself during the Whole30 program at all. I’m not a big fan of weighing myself daily, or even weekly, because the number doesn’t often correspond with actual progress. “Non-scale victories” are often much better than a number – looser pants, higher energy, clearer skin, toned muscles, etc. Regarding the scale, if the number makes you feel stuck, negative, guilty, or ashamed, stop weighing yourself and rely on how you feel, inside and out, and how you fit into your clothes. If the scale makes you feel confident and accountable, go for it.

29. Being a proud member of the clean plate club is just plain overrated. Having a healthy diet means eating until your body is satisfied, whether it be fish and veggies or a rich, decadent brownie. It’s not about finishing every last bite, it’s about enjoying one bite at a time, regardless of what you’re eating, and putting the fork down when you’ve had enough (enough means you’re satiated, not loosening your belt in a food coma.) This is easier said than done, I know, so it’s worth the mental effort to work on improving this habit, one meal at a time.

30. Healthy eating is not a mindless activity. It takes awareness, consciousness, presence, and purpose. Some examples include being mindful of how certain foods/food groups make your body feel, inquiring about food preparation when eating out, not digging into the bread basket or snacking simply because the food is right in front of you, and savoring occasional indulgences sans guilt.

So what’s the conclusion here? Honestly, I think that Whole30 has a TON of positive aspects (primarily eating whole foods) and a few negatives (too extreme, too much meat, and not enough smoothies.) Though I’m not the biggest proponent of this exact plan, I’m really happy that I experienced it because I did learn a lot and got rid of some poor habits. What made me stick with it after finding these faults? The sheer fact that I had made a commitment to myself.

Whole30 has lots of great aspects to it and I know that it has changed lots of lives for the better. If this seems like a plan that may be right for you, I encourage you to commit fully as well. Although 30 days may not be realistic, I would suggest an elimination diet for anyone looking to getting to know your body better, especially if you believe you may have an unidentified food sensitivity. Give your body a break from a certain food or food group for about two weeks and then reintroduce it to evaluate your body’s response. That way, as long as other food choices remain consistent, you should be able to tell 24-48 hours after consuming that food/food group if your body is sensitive to it. How will you know? You’ll know. Either it will make you feel fine, good, the same, or it will make you feel not so good in some way. As mentioned above, if it makes you feel yucky, try to cut it out of your diet as much as possible. Lastly, I repeat: read your labels and just eat real food!

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One Healthy Breakdown: lessons learned, tools in toolkit, carry on.

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pH 101: Alkaline Eating for Overall Wellness

PH 101: alkaline eating for overall wllness

While learning about pH in high school chemistry class may not have seemed like anything worth knowing back then, it’s actually vital in understanding our body’s reaction to certain foods and what will promote ultimate health. This is an area of health that is grossly overlooked! So many of our modern health problems can be linked back to an overly acidic diet.  Let’s explore!

What is pH?

pH value determines how many hydrogen ions are in a given solution (in this case your blood). It is measured on a scale of 0-14. Everything below 6.9 is more acidic, and everything above 7.1 is more alkaline, with increasing value the higher or lower it is on the scale, and 7.0 being neutral.

How does it affect my health?

Different parts of our bodies require different levels of acidity or alkalinity. Your stomach needs to be more acidic to break down food, but your blood needs to be slightly more alkaline. Without the correct pH, your cells won’t do their job which is to keep your body alive. Kinda important! Because your body wants to stay alive, healthy and in balance it will do everything possible to maintain the proper pH if it ever gets out of balance.

When we eat large amounts of acidic foods it causes inflammation in our bodies which is a gateway to all sorts of health problems (overgrowth of bad bacteria like yeast and fungus, heart disease, arthritis, allergies, skin problems etc.). In addition to being anti-inflammatory, alkaline foods are easier to digest which impacts our immune system, as well as reducing yucky bloat.

If your blood is overly acidic due to the food you eat or environmental conditions such as chemicals and toxins, your body needs to find reserves of more alkaline minerals (magnesium, potassium and calcium) from your bones, tissues and organs to get back to its happy place of balance. Which can be a bad thing if it happens all the time, because your bones and organs need those minerals too. And it’s just taxing on your system to constantly be fighting to maintain homeostasis.

Think about it this way: The body needs to remain at 98.6 degrees. Any higher or lower and your body goes into certain processes to get back to that temperature or else bad stuff happens. On a hot day you sweat to cool off, on a very cold day your blood will leave the extremities and go to the most vital internal organs to keep them warm.

Your body does the same thing to keep itself at that perfect pH which is around 7.35-7.45. If you eat too much acid forming foods, your body will pull vitamins and minerals out of your own tissues and send them to the blood to get that pH back down.

Fun fact: Everyone knows that dairy products contain calcium. So a direct line of thinking would assume that if I drink more milk I will be putting more calcium in my body and therefore have stronger bones. Not exactly. Once in our bodies dairy becomes an acidic food, so your bones will actually lose some calcium in your body’s effort to balance the pH after eating something as acidic as dairy. Scary right? You’re better off getting calcium from a plant-based source so you can utilize that calcium without losing any from your bones.

So which foods are acidic and which are alkaline?

I’m not going to list the pH value of every food here (trusty ol’ google will help with that if you really want to know). But it’s important to know which foods to eat more of, and which to eat less of.

More acidic foods:

  • alcohol
  • meat
  • dairy
  • coffee
  • eggs
  • sugar
  • wheat
  • processed foods

More alkaline foods: 

  • fruits
  • veggies
  • nuts
  • beans
  • some grains are slightly alkaline like buckwheat, quinoa, brown rice, millet, oats, barley and spelt.

*However because balance is key, it is not recommended to eat a 100% alkaline diet. Our bodies are slightly more alkaline, therefore respond best to a slightly more alkaline diet. My favorite book on alkaline eating (Honestly Healthy for Life) recommends 70% alkaline to 30% acid foods. So you don’t have to give up all acidic foods forever.

3 easy ways to begin to eat a more alkaline diet: 

1. Make the veggie the main and the meat the side. You don’t have to change what you eat as much as the portion size. Instead of 8 oz of steak with a side of rice, carrots or broccoli, make a 3-4 oz portion of meat as your “side” then make a huge salad with lots of veggies in it as your main. No need to become a vegan if you don’t want to.

2. Warm Lemon Water. I know this is totally ubiquitous on the internet right now. I realize it’s beginning to sound like a broken record. Everywhere I turn there’s another site touting the benefits of drinking warm water with lemon in it first thing in the morning before eating or drinking anything else. But it’s only because it’s true! This is an easy habit to get into and you don’t have to deprive yourself of anything.

3. Ditch the sugar and processed shit. Pretty self-explanatory. Everyone knows sugar and processed foods are the devil. But let’s be real, I don’t expect myself to give it up for good, but that doesn’t mean I can’t make good choices and substitutions whenever possible.

My 2 cents: This is not an all or nothing strict diet. Just because a food is on the acidic list, doesn’t mean I  have to give it up completely. While meat is on the acidic list I don’t believe giving up meat entirely is healthy either. The amount and quality of the meat is most important. I try to get grass-fed beef whenever possible. It contains far more nutrients than conventional beef does. The best thing do is just be aware and if you tend to experience inflammatory symptoms it may be worth switching up your diet to include more alkaline foods.

Superfood Oatmeal Power Breakfast

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I love incorporating superfoods into my diet. I find the easiest way to do that is mixing them into smoothies, yogurt and oatmeal. I waver back and forth on the whole grain debate. Some say whole grains are healthy, others say that the modern grains are so genetically modified it’s best to stay away from them. But what I know for sure is that worrying about things like that is more harmful to my health than not.  So I adopt an everything in moderation approach. I probably have oatmeal once a week and I try to use organic Irish steel cut oats when I can. I like loading up my oatmeal with everything in my cabinets that would give me fuel for the day. The great thing about this breakfast is that you can add or take away any ingredients depending on your taste and what is available to you.

Here are my go-to power oatmeal ingredients (it looks like a lot but I just use what I already have, these foods are staples in my kitchen).

  • Irish steel cut oats
  • 1/2 tsp maca powder
  • a few generous shakes of cinnamon
  • 1/2 of a banana chopped
  • toasted walnuts chopped
  • slivered almonds
  • chia seeds
  • goji berries
  • a small splash of almond or coconut milk
  • 1 tsp maple syrup if you like it sweet

Mix everything together and enjoy!

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Food Freak-outs

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Everyone loves a plan to start off the new year right with energy and optimism. We tell ourselves that we are going to eat better and begin to make grand plans for a nutritional overhaul. There is so much to be learned about ourselves by exploring new territories, and taking on challenges, even when things don’t go as planned.

When we decide to change our diet habits in any way, whether it’s something small or very dramatic, we forget that beyond the physical act of preparing and eating new foods, there are unexpected psychological issues that come up as well. These are what I like to call “food freak-outs.” It’s not necessarily about the food, but it’s the mental challenge of changing our habits. Women especially have a very complicated interconnected relationship between food and our mental environment. We tend to use food as rewards, punishments, social lubricants, feeling suppressors and mind numbing agents.  Feelings of anxiety and conflict can arise when those voices start to say “It won’t kill me to have just one. What’s my quality of life if I say ‘no’ to everything?” versus “You made a commitment to stick to something so you must stick to it.” Balance is key and it’s best to decide what is going to work for you. I find that diet programs usually don’t work (for me at least) because it’s an external force, designed by somebody who is not you, influencing your internal system and thought process.

So how can we find harmony and success in this process of improving our health without hating ourselves like Louis C.K says?

Make up your own rules to follow, but still be smart. Decide where you can tiptoe across that line occasionally (a glass of wine with dinner or some dark chocolate), and where you will never step foot (multiple cocktails and a trip to the drive-through). You are more likely to stick to something that you have laid out for yourself than a preplanned rule based system made by a stranger. The difference is you have to want it, and you’re more likely to followthrough with something if you created it for yourself.

Allow yourself a momentary pass for certain situations. The hardest part about making the changes last is when you get that last minute call from a friend to go out to dinner, or when you forgot your lunch at home and have to find a fast replacement during your 15 minute lunch break. Then the guilt and hatred sets in when you “fall off the wagon.” It feels terrible to go to someone’s house and have to tell them that you don’t eat certain foods. That was something I decided I couldn’t do. So when I am in my home, doing my own cooking and food shopping I go as heathy as possible, that way I can relax a bit and not beat myself up during the times when I don’t have all the control. I found that when I’m in a situation I cannot control, the really unhealthy thing to do is work myself up into an anxious frenzy or a “food freakout.”

Be kind to yourself. Harsh words toward yourself are the opposite of health promoting. So if you find yourself on a diet where you are constantly depriving yourself or experiencing harsh thoughts toward yourself (“I can’t believe I just ate two chicken chalupas. I hate myself!”)  something is not working. That’s not to say allow yourself every indulgence and disguise it as self love. Taking good care of yourself is as much about food, as it is your thoughts.

Experiment. For short periods of time I have done every kind of nutritional plan including vegetarian, vegan, paleo, Whole-30, gluten free, and felt like a failure when I “cheated.” I found that the key wasn’t converting to one for the rest of my life because at some point I was bound to fail, or just change my mind. Try something out for as long as your willing to keep it up. It could be a month, a day, or just one meal. The benefit is you will learn to prepare new types of foods, and you can see what works best for your body. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Don’t ever set yourself up for a failure! Today I was a vegetarian, tomorrow I may be paleo. As long as what you are trying out is mostly whole unprocessed foods, play around!

For people who are natural worriers, adding another thing to life that you are going to worry about is a recipe for disaster. During the times that I experience conflicting thoughts and harsh feelings toward myself when it came to my food choices I ask myself what’s my bottom line? Is it keeping to a regimented program just for the sake of it and in the process beating my soul into submission with feelings of guilt and anxiety? Or is it being loving and kind toward myself and rolling with the flow of life as best I can, while making good choices? I’m sure you can figure out the answer to that one.

Sometimes life give you moments where it’s healthier to go with the flow and pick up again tomorrow. 

Snow Day Pancakes

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All snowed in, so what to do? Experiment in the kitchen of course! I wanted to get creative with only using the ingredients I had in the refrigerator because there’s no way I’m going to the store right now. Simple recipes always resonate most with me, because as much as I love to cook, I really just want to get to the eating part. The more ingredients there are the more mess there is to clean up, and the longer it takes to actually get to eating it! So I found some basic ingredients and whipped up some delicious and healthy pancakes. Perfect for a snow day!

Makes 1 serving (three small pancakes)

Ingredients:

1 banana mashed

1 egg

1 tbsp coconut flour (feel free to use another type if it’s what you already have)

Optional add-ins: blueberries, cinnamon, nutmeg, and  allspice

If you want them flatter and not quite as thick add some milk (any type will do).

Directions: Mix all 3 ingredients until they are well incorporated. Melt some coconut oil in a pan and make small pancakes with the batter. Cook for several minutes on medium heat and flip occasionally until they look done.

I added chopped walnuts, almonds and maple syrup to finish it off. It was heavenly.

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When is it important to buy organic?

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I ask myself this question all the time. There are some basic rules of thumb that I follow when it comes to fruits and vegetables. But it’s easy to feel insane, as I often do, when we don’t have so much control over our food. Eating at restaurants and friends houses can be a challenge for people, like me, who are always reading labels and ingredients lists, wondering if this is organic or GMO-free (I know, if it gets any worse I probably should see a shrink). I’ve done a little research to set some boundaries I can feel at ease with. Certain foods are a no-no if they aren’t organic, some are a “try your best to get organic” while for others it doesn’t matter all that much.

#1: Know the Dirty Dozen. If buying organic is hard, then just go for the holy grail. These guys typically contain the highest levels of pesticide residue: apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches/nectarines, spinach (including frozen and canned), peppers, cucumber, tomatoes, snap peas, potatoes and blueberries. So if you are going to buy only a few things organic, make it these ones.

#2: Clean 15. You can feel at ease knowing the clean 15, produce you don’t have to buy organic: avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, sweet peas (frozen), onions, asparagus, mangoes, papayas, kiwi, eggplant, grapefruit, cantaloupe (domestic), cauliflower, and sweet potatoes.

#3: Pick what you eat the most of and buy just those ones organic. These are the foods that are frequent fliers on your shopping list, and are consumed in your house on a weekly basis. So if you eat a lot of spinach, cucumbers, celery and apples, like I do, then always buy those organic, no exceptions. But if you hardly eat potatoes or snap peas, then once in a blue moon it’s ok to skip the organic if you have to.

#4: When dining at a restaurant try to let go of the anxiety of not knowing if your food is organic. It probably isn’t, unless they specially state it on the menu. This situation always gives me problems. There are essentially 3 choices here: 1) Don’t ever go out. Yea Right! 2) Go out but worry the whole time over what you cannot control. 3) Go out, chose healthy options when available, and allow yourself a day off from worrying. It’s not easy, I often find myself hovering around option number 2, but I’m trying to go with the third option more. Part of what I am trying to do about easing my (and your) anxiety, is being ok with moderation. I’m writing this post as much for me as for you.  It’s easy to get obsessed with reading alarmist articles  and websites that scare the pants off of you. If I know one thing

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it’s that worrying is like junk food in your body. Anxiety messes with us physically and can cause as much damage as a big mack with fries. If I eat a non-organic apple one day and worry about it, then I’m causing more harm to my body then If I just ate the apple and didn’t give a crap. Happy shopping!

Things I love: Against All Grain by Danielle Walker

I love healthy cookbooks. I have to restrain myself at the book store because I want them all. It’s important that the recipes in a cookbook are realistic. I won’t buy one if each dish has a long list of ingredients that I have never heard of and multiple complex steps, resulting in a multi-hour process. As much as I love learning about new ingredients and experimenting in the kitchen, I know I will rarely use it, and only collect dust on the shelf. And lonely books are just sad.

One that I use consistently is Against All Grain by Danielle Walker. I keep it on my kitchen window sill because I use it so much. I have endless praise for Danielle and her paleo pioneering. Although I am not  fully paleo I definitely lean in that direction, consuming far less wheat, grains, and processed foods than I used to. She creates easy to make recipes using ingredients I’ve heard of. Some of the recipes are more time consuming than others, but when you want to make your health a priority it’s a given you will spend some time in the kitchen.

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Being inspired by the season I decided to spend my Sunday in the kitchen (since outdoors is no longer an option for a while) prepping for the week with lots of seasonal ingredients and flavors.  Danielle’s recipe for spiced pumpkin muffins seemed easy, and I already had most of the ingredients in the pantry (I don’t really have a pantry, it’s a cabinet.  But I like the sound of pantry better.  I can pretend I have a huge kitchen).  Anyway, they turned out great. I ate three as soon as they came out of the oven.

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Another recipe of hers I made over the summer when I had zucchinis growing in my garden was this little gem:

Greek Gyro “Pasta” with Lamb Meatballs

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It perfectly combined the flavors of summer like mint, tomato and zucchini while satisfying the yearning for some comfort food in a fresh yet hearty meal. I cannot say enough about this one!

Overall, I highly recommend this book as it contains feasible paleo recipes for snacks, breakfast, soups, salads, main dishes, cakes, breads and kid friendly food. She also includes background on her own health struggles and how a paleo diet has transformed her health. Probably the most informative part of the book touches on practicle lifestyle tips for living paleo such as what pantry staples to always have on hand, how to buy consciously and what equipment to use in preparing grain free delisiousness. Bon a petit!

 

Pumpkin Granola

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So I had a little pumpkin puree left over after making pumpkin muffins and I did not want it to go to waste, so I concocted a pumpkin granola from the contents of my cabinets. Granola is one of my favorite improvised kitchen experiments. It’s very simple as long as you follow a basic formula: dry ingredients + wet ingredients. So simple! The dry ingredients can be any combination of nuts, seeds, grains, spices and dried fruit. The wet ingredients usually consist of an oil (I like coconut) and a sweetener (honey, maple syrup, agave).  I tend to use what I have lying around, unless I’m using a specific recipe.  I added some of the pumpkin puree to the wet ingredients for some nice fall flavor.

Here’s what I did, but feel free to add, remove, adjust the ingredients to your liking. The more you experiment without using a recipe, the better you will get.

Dry ingredients:

1 cup oats

1/2 cup chopped almonds

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp cinnamon

Wet ingredients: 

1 tbsp coconut oil melted

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup pumpkin puree

Directions: Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl, combine wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Slowly add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, stir so incorporate all the way through. Spoon the mixture into a baking dish or lined cookie sheet. Bake under a low heat for approximately 15-20 minutes, or until it is as toasted as you want it. Some granola is crunchier than others, depending on the wet ingredients and the baking time. I found that using pumpkin made the granola more soft than crunchy if that’s what you like.

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Sautéed Apples

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My favorite dish right now. The perfect fall breakfast, snack or dessert. Now, I did not reinvent the wheel with this one, so don’t expect anything groundbreaking. It’s simple, but that’s why I make it almost every day. If you can’t make this, then I don’t know what to tell you. You will not regret this one, I promise!

1. Peel and cut the apple into bite size pieces. (If you want to get creative you can shred it, or use the apple peeler on the entire thing to make very thin slivers, but I personally like it in chunks.)

2. Put the apple pieces in a pan over medium heat with a bit of coconut oil (about a teaspoon will do) and as much cinnamon as you like. Cover with a lid to keep the moisture in.

3. Wait about 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

The apple will release its juice and natural sugars, so no need to add sugar to this one. It tastes like apple pie without the crust. ENJOY!

Westville NYC

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Mindful eating is all well and good untill it’s time to join the rest of society and go out to eat at an actual restaurant (that is assuming you have a social life, which you should, it’s good). Reading menus at many restaurants can make you realize how uptight you have been about what you eat. At least that’s how I feel when there’s nothing that appeals to me and I can’t enjoy a nice meal out without having a moment like this: “Excuse me is that wild Alaskan salmon? Um, is there cream in that sauce? Do you have any grass-fed beef?” You do the same thing too? Ok then I’m not the only one. Great.

That brings me to a wonderful experience I just had to share with the rest of the health concious people out there. Westville is a restaurant in New York that has locations in Chelsea, East Village, West Village and a location in Hudson too. I had the fortunate experience of dining there with my dearest girlfriends who also appreciate a healthy lifestyle. Westville’s philosophy is simple, fresh and seasonal foods.The atmosphere itself is very cozy and unpretentious.

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It’s really all about the food. The menu consisted of chicken, fish and veggie entres as well as salads and market plates.OH MY GOD THE MARKET PLATES!!!! You pick four choices from an extensive list including artichokes, asparagus, mushrooms, beets, zucchini, and butternut squash.  If I could eat this food every day I could be a vegetarian and not miss out on anything. As far as entries go the crispy vegan quinoa & artichoke burger with avocado, chopped kale, alfalfa sprouts & sriracha coconut ranch dressing served w/ an arugula and marinated red onion salad was absolutely heavenly.

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With great food and even better friends, it was  my idea of the perfect dining experience. I’m definitely going back!