THE POWER IN THE PAUSE

STRESS. We all have it, we all feel it, and and we all have felt it more intensely during this pandemic. So often, we want that edge taken off the stress and turn to “comfort foods” or a “comfort cocktail” (or 2, or 3). A client of mine, let’s call him George, has always tuned to food for comfort. Because of this, he has some health issues. Recently, he made a stunning observation. He emphatically stated that he no longer wants comfort—instead, he wants inner peace.

Comfort eating or drinking has a big catch: that soothing feeling is extremely short-lived. Too much alcohol leaves you feeling slightly hung over, lethargic and far from feeling like eating well or exercising. Comfort eating has the same effect. Plus it leaves you feeling bloated and craving even more processed carbohydrates. Putting the physiology aside, this can be mentally crippling. There is so much self-loathing that goes along with these behaviors, which fuels the stress and the need to want that “comfort” even more.

Inner peace, instead, is feeling good about yourself. It’s all about self-nurturing, which is challenging for many people. Putting yourself first seems selfish. Ironically, it’s not. When you are good to you, you wind up being better to everyone in your life. And that will lead to a greater sense of gratitude and self-appreciation. And of this is all linked to the feeling of inner peace.

George found a tool that is working for him: HE PAUSES. The pause allows him to stop, and ask himself, prior to eating, “Does this bring me inner peace?”. It’s becoming his mantra to keep him focused and on track. This got me thinking about other behaviors. Wouldn’t it be great if you could pause when you’re upset with your boss? When your children are driving you crazy? When you are all set to write that angry e-mail? Boy, there is some power in the pause!

If you’re finding yourself doing too much mindless eating or drinking, or if you are more stressed and uptight, dig deep to isolate the problem. Find a mantra or any phrase that works for you. Then, try your best to PAUSE and use it. Being aware, is the first step. Using tools that help is next.

I’m rooting for you, George!

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WARM CRUNCHY BRUSSELS SPROUTS AND QUINOA SALAD

I can’t WAIT to make this recipe, which I will proudly serve when I have guests! (My husband is not a fan of either Brussels sprouts or quinoa 🙄). A client of mine made it and said it was just delicious!! It looks like it takes both Brussels sprouts and quinoa to an entirely different level! ENJOY!

ingredients

1 cup cooked quinoa

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

½ cup seasoned panko breadcrumbs

1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed & sliced thin

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

kosher salt and pepper

¼ cup slivered almonds

¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (for garnish)

lemon vinaigrette ingredients

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp sherry wine or champagne vinegar

1 tbsp honey

1 large garlic clove, shaved on a mandolin (it makes a paste and dissolves) 

sea salt & pepper

¼ cup olive oil

directions

Make the dressing by whisking ingredients with a fork.  Set aside. Cook the quinoa and set aside. (Can be done in advance.)

Slice Brussels thinly with a chef’s knife (mandolin will make them too thin). Sauté them in a frying pan with olive oil and the 3 minced garlic cloves until browning, about 6 minutes. Season with kosher salt & pepper.

In a smaller pan, cook the breadcrumbs with 1 tablespoon of butter until golden. Set aside. Toast slivered almonds in a dry pan or the toaster oven, 1-2 minutes.

Pour the Brussels into a large bowl with the cooked quinoa and pour some of the dressing over the salad.

Just before serving, top with the warm salad with the crunchy toasted breadcrumbs and toasted nuts. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

 (Adapted from a recipe found on http://www.staceysnacksonline.com/)

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CRISPY FRICO CHICKEN BREASTS WITH MUSHROOMS AND THYME

Parmesan cheese makes everything just delicious! I REALLY ENJOYED THIS!!!

ingredients

2 ounces freshly grated Parmesan (about ½ cup), plus more as neededmerlin_169350210_3efee382-e7e6-43d9-978a-a5d7e07ec50d-articleLarge

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (1 ½ to 2 pounds)

Kosher salt and black pepper

4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed

1-pound mixed mushrooms, such as cremini, shiitake, oyster or maitake, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 red onion, halved and cut into 1/2-inch wedges

4 fresh thyme or oregano sprigs

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

directions

Heat oven to 425 degrees F. and place the Parmesan on a plate. Lightly season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. Dip chicken in Parmesan and turn to coat, patting to help it stick.

In a large (12-inch) skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high. Add the chicken and cook, turning once, until golden brown, about 5 minutes per side, adding more oil to the pan as needed. Transfer chicken to a plate.

Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the skillet. Add the mushrooms, onion and herbs, and season with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook, tossing occasionally and scraping up any cheese that may be stuck to the pan, until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Place chicken on top of vegetables and transfer the skillet to the oven. Roast until chicken is cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a plate. Add the vinegar to the vegetables and toss to combine; serve with chicken.

(Recipe found on https://cooking.nytimes.com/)

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ROASTED TURKEY LEGS

If you love roasted turkey, you don’t only have to only eat it on special occasions! Pick up some turkey legs! This recipe will make them taste amazing! AND, if you like the seasonings, you can try this with chicken too.

roasted-turkey-legs-1

ingredients

avocado oil spray

4 bone-in skin-on medium turkey drumsticks (about 10 oz each)

¼ cup butter, melted

Seasoning mix:

1 teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon paprika

directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Fit a rimmed roasting pan with a roasting rack and spray the rack with avocado oil spray.

Pat the turkey legs dry with paper towels. Brush them all over with melted butter and rub with the seasoning mix. Place on the roasting rack and lightly spray with avocado oil.

Roast uncovered for 20 minutes, until the skin is browned. Loosely cover with foil, to avoid scorching the top, and continue roasting until juices run clear when pierced with a fork and an instant-read thermometer registers 165 degrees F (make sure it isn’t touching the bone), about 30 more minutes.

Remove the roasted turkey legs from the oven and allow to rest, still covered in foil, for 10 minutes before serving. Do not skip this step – it allows the internal temperature to climb a bit more, and the juices to redistribute and settle.

(recipe found on https://healthyrecipesblogs.com/)

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CORONAVIRUS: IS BMI A RISK FACTOR?

I want to talk to you about BMI, which stands for Body Mass Index. BMI is an anthropometric index of weight and height and is used as a screening tool. Recently, an elevated BMI has considered to be a pre-existing condition when it comes to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Is this a good screening tool?

Well, what I like about the BMI is, um, NOTHING MUCH.  This is because your Body Mass Index does not tell you much about your health. The calculation involves only 2 pieces of information: your height and weight. It doesn’t consider, gender, age, activity level, body composition, or resting heart rate. Therefore, the BMI can’t tell you anything about your fitness level, how strong you are, how much muscle mass you have or what your cardiovascular function is. So, while it is a screening tool, it is only screening for your height and weight relationship and is therefore, extremely limited.  Here is the chart for BMI.

Using this chart, let’s examine two examples.  Look at this wrestler on the right. Let’s assume that he is 5’3”, is an excellent condition, has 8% body fat, which is extremely lean, and weighs 175 lbs. We can see all of his muscles!  If we calculate his BMI, it would be 31. He would be considered OBESE.

Let’s look at this guy, on the left, who we will call Dude. We can see that he doesn’t have a lot of muscle mass. Let’s assume that he doesn’t exercise at all, is 5’11, weighs 175 lbs., and has 22% body fat, which is average for a man.  If we calculate his BMI, it would be 24.4. He would be considered NORMAL. 

While our Dude has a normal BMI, he could be extremely unfit. On the other hand, our wrestler, who has an obese BMI is lean, muscular and extremely fit. Since the BMI only considers height and weight, a thin, unfit woman with absolutely no muscle mass (“skinny fat”) could have an “enviable” BMI.

Bottom line: Your BMI could be a risk factor, but it also might NOT be. Don’t take it too seriously. As stated above, the real factors of good health involve having a strong, muscular body, and being cardiovascularly sound. Good health also involves eating well, drinking enough water, getting the right amount of sleep, controlling stress, finding inner peace, and connecting with others!

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