Archive for February, 2019

FOOD: STOP THE INSANITY

Yesterday morning, at 9 am, I got a text from a client. I haven’t seen her in several weeks because she was busy traveling for work. Traveling is very difficult—there might be a time change affecting sleep, there is usually a lot of eating out, and there might be lack of exercise. My client was clearly feeling frazzled. Her text said something like this: “I need to get my food back to together again. If you have time can you look at these two restaurants that I’ll be going to and tell me what to order.” I bet many of you can relate to this. She wanted me to pick something healthy for her so she didn’t have to think about it. While I understand her motivation, this made no sense to me.

Eating healthy isn’t only about calories, fat or carbs. It’s about satisfaction and woman-not-happy-dieting1enjoyment. If you leave these two elements out, you will get into trouble. You will eventually search for something that DOES satisfy you and after a healthy meal or even after a full day of healthy eating, you might seek the “forbidden” foods. I wanted my client to pick something that SHE was in the mood for and so I sent her the following text back:

“Ok……I looked at all the menus and there are PLENTY of great things that you can eat at both places. You certainly don’t need me to choose for you because I actually want you to eat food that YOU want!  I want you to enjoy it and feel satisfied and not feel ‘ICK…….I had the fish that I don’t even like because Rhonda told me to.’ You know what to avoid: fried food, dishes full of heavy sauces or giant portions. But if you’re in the mood for steak, I’d much rather you eat steak instead of chicken that you don’t even enjoy. Life is too short!”

She wrote back:  “You’re right!”

We have been so conditioned that certain foods are evil. So many of us not only classify foods as “good” or “bad” but we actually tell ourselves that we were “bad” when we ate a plate of pasta or a piece of bread. We spend so much time obsessing about healthy food, and worrying (and feeling guilty!) about eating the wrong food. In doing so, we are missing out on enjoyment and satisfaction. We don’t even think about what we feel like eating and have lost our ability to be intuitive about food.

I would love to see all of us stop this insanity. Let’s try to erase the notion that there are “forbidden” foods and incorporate them into our lives in moderation. This way, we can stop going on diets (that don’t work)  and can ditch the diet mentality, which is all about restriction.

I have been a trainer for over 15 years and a nutritionist for almost 8 years and I can say with certainty that I have never seen restriction yielding any positive results. We need the satisfaction and enjoyment to be truly healthy!

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CLASSIC STUFFED PEPPERS

This was my first time ever making stuffed peppers and I loved them!! I used half the cheese and lean, grass fed chopped meat. This is a wonderful winter dish!! Use red, yellow and orange peppers–you’ll love the colors!

ingredientsdelish-classic-stuffed-peppers-horizontal-1538065876

½ c. uncooked rice

2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1 medium onion, chopped

1 tbsp. tomato paste

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb. lean ground beef

1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes

1 tsp. dried oregano

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

6 colorful bell peppers, tops and cores removed

1 c. shredded Monterey jack

Freshly chopped parsley, for garnish

directions

Preheat oven to 400°. In a small saucepan, prepare rice according to package instructions. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Cook onion until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Add ground beef and cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 6 minutes.

Return beef mixture to skillet, then stir in cooked rice and diced tomatoes. Season with oregano, salt, and pepper. Let simmer until liquid has reduced slightly, about 5 minutes.

Place peppers cut side-up in a 9″-x-13″ baking dish and drizzle with oil. Spoon beef mixture into each pepper and top with Monterey jack, then cover baking dish with foil.

Bake until peppers are tender, about 35 minutes. Uncover and bake until cheese is bubbly, 10 minutes more.

Garnish with parsley before serving.

 (Adapted from a recipe found on delish.com)

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EXERCISE: A CELEBRATION ONLY

A client of mine sent me this photo and I just LOVE it.

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Exercise is the most glorious thing you can do for your body. Putting aside the long list of health benefits, moving your body simply puts you in a great mood. It is a natural antidepressant. So if you want more energy and to feel happier then move your body! Never use exercise as a punishment for food ESPECIALLY since……

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CHICKEN CHILI

This is the easiest recipe EVER because you throw everything into one pot and you’re done. I used chicken with bones for extra flavor. (4 skinless thighs and 1/2 skinless chicken breast).  JUST AMAZING! A wonderful hearty and healthy dish!

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2 pounds boneless skinless chicken parts, cut into 3 to 4 large chunks (50/50 mix of breasts and thighs)

1 small yellow onion, chopped small

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano

1-1 ½ teaspoons fine sea salt

1 to 2 jalapeños or other fresh hot pepper, minced, or a ground chili powder of your choice, to taste

1, 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes, fire-roasted

2 cups small dried beans, such as black beans or small red beans

5 cups water (can replace all or part with broth)

To serve: Lime wedges, sour cream or Mexican crema, finely chopped white onion or thinly sliced scallion, chopped cilantro, corn or flour tortilla chips, and hot sauce

directions

On the stove:  Place beans and water in a large stock pot or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil for 1 minute, remove from heat, cover and let stand 1 hour.

Add all the other ingredients to pot and simmer, on low, until the beans are tender, about 2 hours. Stir occasionally.

In a slow-cooker: On HIGH for 4 1/2 to 5 hours or on LOW for 8 to 10.

In an InstantPot or electric pressure-cooker: At high pressure for 30 minutes; manual release works fine. This is the cooking time for small beans (small red and regular black beans, which are small). If you’re using beans that are larger, you might need 35 minutes.

To finish: The chicken will likely have fallen apart, but you can help it along by reaching into the pot with two forks and shredding it to your desired texture. (For a pressure cooker, this is barely necessary; you can break up the chicken with the back of a spoon.) Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve with fixings of your choice.

(adapted from a recipe found on https://smittenkitchen.com)

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ARE YOU A NIGHTTIME SNACKER?

I know this scenario will resonate with many of you: You eat healthily all day long and then something happens after dinner. You lose your resolve, and the images.jpgsnacking starts. Why does this happen? Here are some questions to think about…..

Q: Are you eating food that you enjoy or are you eating food that you THINK you should be eating because it’s healthy? If you continue to do this, your brain will feel as if  you’re on a diet—that you are depriving yourself, which is why you can hold it together during the day but lose it at night. Recently, a client of mine made herself a broccoli and avocado omelet for breakfast. Did she love this? Not really. She wanted to add a slice a toast but chose not to, since she was avoiding bread. In doing so, she felt deprived, which lead to nighttime eating. An additional piece of whole-grain bread would have added a tremendous amount of satisfaction and not that many additional calories, compared to a nighttime binge. I am not suggesting that you eat pancakes and bacon for breakfast smothered in syrup. However, sprinkling cheese on an omelet, a salad or a sandwich, adding a slice a bread to a meal, or having a small serving of whole grains can actually be binge preventions. Make your meals healthy but satisfying.

Q: Are you eating enough during the day? I also see this issue over and over. We feel reluctant to eat too much because we want to “save” the calories for later. This strategy never works because it means that you might be approaching a meal (usually dinner), too hungry. Intense hunger always leads to over eating. I had a client who I felt was not eating enough during the day so I analyzed her diet. I noticed that she was getting about 30% of her calories from breakfast and lunch, another 10% from snacks,  and 60% in the evening.  Not good! She reluctantly took my advice and started eating more during the day, which to her amazement, stopped her nighttime cravings. Eat more during the day—don’t be afraid and don’t “save” those calories. If you don’t eat enough during the day, you are increasing your chances of an evening sabotage.

Q: Do you find yourself mindlessly eating when bored, stressed or upset? It could be that you have developed some bad habits that you have to slowly un-do. Figure out where you are going wrong and come up with a new plan.  If you get stuck, find a nutritionist, who will be able to come up with effective strategies for you. There also might be an underlying, deeper issue that you need to address. Most of the time, these issues are extremely difficult to resolve on your own and I encourage anyone, who is suffering, to seek professional help.

 

 

 

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BROKEN WONTON SOUP

This is a delicious and FUN soup recipe that you can make your own. I swapped the breakfast sausages for spicy chicken sausage and added more bok choy. I also used ramen noodles instead of the wonton wrappers. Next time I make this, I’m going to add scallion and mushrooms. Play around and enjoy!!!

ingredientsbroken-wonton-soup-1118-feefa3cc_horiz_0

1 teaspoon safflower oil

1 tablespoon thinly sliced garlic (from 2 cloves)

1 heaping tablespoon ginger matchsticks (thinly sliced from a 1-inch piece)

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro leaves, stems reserved

2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

12 ounces uncooked breakfast sausage, casings removed

12 ounces baby bok choy (2 medium or 3 small), roughly chopped

12 wonton wrappers, quartered diagonally

Chili-garlic sauce, (optional)

directions

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high; add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add broth, 2 cups water, cilantro stems, and 1 tablespoon soy sauce. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, 20 minutes. Remove and discard cilantro. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine chicken, remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and cilantro leaves. Roll mixture into 1-inch meatballs.

Return broth mixture to a simmer; stir in bok choy, then remove from heat. Gently add meatballs. Cover; let stand until meatballs are puffed and cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes. Drop wonton wrappers into soup, one at a time, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Divide soup among 4 bowls; serve with chili-garlic sauce.

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

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