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Joy in Cooking

Recently, I have a new found joy for cooking. I used to spend hours of my day preoccupied by food, anxious around mealtime and at the grocery store, and collecting recipes that I never made. I often ate the same meals every single day for weeks to avoid discomfort! This may sound familiar to you, although our discomfort around food and cooking can vary significantly. Not only was I spending too much time thinking (negatively) about food, it also took away the enjoyment of food and cooking that I have recently discovered.        

              Cooking can be daunting, especially if you have never really cooked anything before. The reward of having a delicious tasting meal that you made is worth it. I recommend tackling the challenge by cooking one new meal per week. This is a gentle approach to cooking, and can limit unrealistic expectations. It can be an easy meal that you have never made before, or one with several ingredients and spices! Also, consider cooking for someone or with someone to make the process that much more enjoyable. Do whatever you think will be helpful for you to start your journey to dining well.

Through cooking, you can discover what dishes you enjoy making, what flavors you like, and what foods you dislike. For me, cooking is also a creative outlet! Trying new recipes, altering them to my taste, and putting dishes together are great ways for me to be creative. In my own experience, altering my thoughts and approach to cooking have opened several new doors that were closed before, like trying new cuisines or unusual dishes, or trying a challenging recipe. I have channeled my food, meal and grocery shopping anxiety into creativity and enjoyment. I promise this step is worth it.

 

 

Get Cooking:

        Check out journalist Michael Pollan and chef Jamie Oliver. They offer a wealth of knowledge in their field, as well as several yummy recipes for you to try.

        Create a less daunting week in terms of meal prep: create a shopping list to just go once per week, and have your dinners planned out ahead of time. If the recipe and time permits, think about preparing things ahead of time.

        Peruse our very own HartsSpace Pinterest page for inspiration on your cooking adventures and start your own board of recipes that you would like to try.

        Don’t overdo it. Start with one new meal per week and even repeat that recipe a couple of times. Create cooking habits that you are excited about keeping.

Are you confused about how to eat??

Our bodies are wonderful creations. There are hundreds of intricate processes to regulate our body: breathing in and out, beating heart, regulating temperature. Our culture, however, teaches us several ways to try and alter these amazing processes, especially with regards to our body shape. With each dollar and every advertisement, the diet industry tricks us into thinking our bodies are not good enough, thin enough. We filter these messages and take very little away: diet control and weight control. Kudos to the diet industry for creating such a convincing business! Our bodies, however, are much too smart to be fooled by diet. The battle that our minds try to fight against our bodies creates a vicious cycle and mentality. Our goal: ditch diet mentality by stopping body control, and tune into thought control.

          The first step to ditching diet mentality is understanding our bodies. One of automatic processes within our bodies is metabolism, or the transformation of food into energy, which our bodies are extremely efficient at. Any forceful change, such as starvation (dieting), will set our bodies into preservation mode; hormonal and metabolic balance in our bodies shift to minimize the effects of starvation. Over a long period of starvation (dieting), our metabolic rate decreases, meaning the rate at which we transform food into energy decreases, increasing the amount of stored energy (fat) and decreasing the energy spent (burned), (Intuitive Eating, 48). Our bodies have evolved this process to conserve energy in times of starvation. Dieting and restricting food intake will not get past our bodies natural defense!

            Similar to the process our bodies have in place for combating starvation, our bodies have a weight range in which it is happiest, called a set range, or set point (although this weight is not one number!), (Sandra Aamodt, PhD: Why dieting doesn’t usually work). Everyone has a different set range that is genetically determined and environmentally influenced in our early years. One of the dieting goals is to try to alter this already-determined range and we often spend years stressing over this task, one that is unreachable. Just like energy preservation, our bodies do an excellent job at staying within this range. Our second step to ditching diet mentality is to accept this range. If we listen to our hunger cues, overindulge at a party, or do not exercise for a couple of weeks, this will not push our body outside of its range. In fact, our bodies are most comfortable within this range, and when we honor our bodies’ needs, it is nearly impossible to push it outside these boundaries.

            With diet culture nearly everywhere, ditching this mentality can be very daunting and you may be thinking “I would lose control.” The beauty of understanding our bodies and honoring them, is that you are free from the control that dieting has on you! The fight against your body can end and it is worth it.

 

 

Here are a few ways to refocus your mentality from diet to freedom:

      Try to avoid health magazines, these tend to be filled with diet tips and tricks for “losing inches” or “lose 10 pounds this week”

      Redirect conversations, or excuse yourself from conversations, that may trigger diet mentality

      Tune into your hunger and what your body needs in the moment

      Be extra gentle with your mind and body throughout this process, it has taken me years to learn to eat intuitively and is not something that can be accomplished overnight

      Watch neuroscientist Sandra Aamodt’s TEDtalk about “Why dieting doesn’t usually work,” and hear her discuss how our unconscious brain manages our bodies

      Check out Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole, M.S. R.D. and Elyse Resch, M.S., R.D., F.A.D.A., C.E.D.R.D. to help you on your journey to freedom from diet culture

Mental Health and Nutrition for Children with ADHD

Children are notorious for presenting situations, challenges, and events spontaneously.  Have you ever opened your parenting tool box and found that you are missing some invaluable tools to work with the needs of your child?  It is common for children to be suspect of having attention and behavior problems in school and at home.  It is often suggested that children may have ADD and ADHD.  If this has come up in your child’s life, you may wonder what to do? As a practitioner in the mental health and nutrition fields, I am presented with situations like this often.  Parents and families are faced with the decision to put their children on medication to help with these challenges; parents often seek advice on what other options they have. It’s true that there are other options to try first.  Some of the following suggestions can help people in making key decisions for your child’s health and future. Food and lifestyle can make a significant difference in the behaviors of children; their minds can be impacted by some basic changes and simple food/nutrient choices.  The following tips have helped many parents expand their knowledge and best help their kids.

                          Lifestyle Planning for Kids 

Consistency and Routines are the first step in creating a well-balanced child.  This applies to daily routines, parenting consistency, and structure.  This is hard in times when change happens, where daily routines vary, parenting varies, and schedules change.  These inconsistencies affect a child’s ability to self-regulate emotionally and directly affect behaviors, focus, mental function, and contribute to the underlying concerns that present like ADD/ADHD.

Meal Planning for Kids

Blood sugar balance is directly connected to moods, behavior problems, and mostly to focus ability.  Most people understand this, see it in their children, and even in themselves.  A diet plan that prevents low blood sugar, which kids are particularly affected by (e.g. eliminate refined sugar, caffeine, combine carbohydrates with protein; eat 4 – 6 small meals throughout the day; eat plenty of dietary fiber, drink water.  This is a plan that can benefit the whole family too.

Specific Nutrients for Balanced Moods

  • ·       Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids for growth and repair of nervous tissue: nut, seed, cold water fish (salmon, halibut, mackerel) and vegetable oils (safflower, walnut, sunflower, flax seed)

 

  • ·       Foods rich in vitamin B6 – needed for normal brain function:  Brewer’s yeast, bok choy, spinach, banana, potato, whole grains

 

  • ·       Foods rich in tryptophan – precursor to neurotransmitter serotonin:  white turkey meat, milk, nuts, eggs, fish

 

  • ·       Liver cleansing foods – proper liver function helps to regulate blood sugar:  garlic, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts, beets, carrots, artichokes, lemons, parsnips, dandelion greens, watercress, burdock root

 

  • ·       Magnesium rich foods – important for nerve conduction:  seeds, legumes, dark green leafy vegetables, soy products, almonds, pecans, cashews, wheat bran,meats

 

  • ·       Vitamin D Foods- It is becoming increasingly studied and the trend is that that Vitamin D impacts childhood mood and behavior.  SUNLIGHT and Whole Grains are the main sources…….In the pacific northwest supplementation is common in deficiency.

The Solution

The best solution if you have been faced with concerns that your child may have ADD or ADHD is to make changes in lifestyle consistency and in the food your child eats.  Give your child a couple weeks to settle into these changes and keep a log of behaviors, moods, and attitudes.  Let your child’s caregivers, teachers, and others in their life know that you are making these changes; this allows them to be supportive with consistency and also to help you monitor the behaviors.  If the problems persist, it is always a good idea to consult with a mental health counselor that can work on behavior modification and help you to best assess your child.  They are a good sounding board for what is normal, and also to help work as a team to help your child. If you decide to try medication, your efforts will be useful in providing the best comprehensive data your doctor, and it is recommended to have your child’s therapist consult with the doctor too.  This will help decisions be in the best interest of your child, and will ease your mind that you are making the best decision.  It is well advised that the counselor continue to work with your child if they do begin a medication regime. In my experience, not all children require medication, and fully assessing the situation and trying all options to change lifestyle and food can have significant improvements for children’s behaviors, focus, and happiness. Happy healthy kids, make happy parents and families.

The hippest fat on the block… Coconut oil

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It’s all the rage right now, and there are many tasty recipes that it has become a key ingredient in. Everything from smoothies to desserts, to an oil for sauteing eggs and veggies in. Coconut oil is at the forefront of the health food world. You have probably heard the health claims all over facebook these days about this tropical oil. But are the health claims proven at this point? The answer is… not just yet.

Now don’t get me wrong! I love me some coconut oil. I use it at home myself. I will NEVER forget my first coconut oil cookie in whole foods cooking in grad school. They were our teacher’s lemon raspberry thumbprint cookies. Our lab group was instructed to make these cookies with coconut oil instead of butter. Holy DELICIOUSNESS! All of sudden you have this aromatic tropical flavor on your tongue which complimented the fruit and the sweetness of the cookie wonderfully! It was love at first bite. We also learned in that class how coconut oil is a very handy oil to have on hand to season your cast iron cook ware. Since it is solid at room temperature you can put your cast iron cook ware away with less oily residue then when you might have used a liquid at room temp oil. They have found some anti microbial and anti fungal compounds in coconut oil which is another reason I like using it to season my cast iron cookware. I began experimenting with coconut oil at home and I found that I especially LOVE it when I am cooking an asian style dish. The flavor it provides your stir fries for example always brings my memory to one of my favorite thai restaurants in the whole world…yummy.

The health claims regarding coconut oil are many. There are claims that it helps people loose weight, improves cholesterol and heart disease, and cures alzheimer’s. While some individual cases claim these results with coconut oil, the evidence from research in humans is lacking. One reason that kept people away from coconut oil for many years was that it is a VERY saturated fat. 92% saturated. Butter is 63% saturated, and olive oil is only 15% saturated. Remember please from Tuesday’s blog that saturated fat can turn into cholesterol.

What else makes coconut oil unique? Well unlike other oils it contains a high amount of medium chain fatty acids or MCFAs. More than half of coconut oil fatty acids are MCFAs.Why does this matter? Well MCFAs are actually metabolized differently. To make a long story short, instead of hanging out in the blood circulating all around the body before they go to get metabolized (like long chain fatty acids), they go straight to the liver (in most cases) and get broken down quickly. Long chain fatty acids (LCFAs) on the other hand are the ones that circulate around a bit before metabolism, which makes them more likely to be deposited into fat tissues. So that is the theory behind coconut oil helping people loose weight. However there are no studies YET at least that show this to be the truth. Not that I know of anyways.

There has been a little more evidence to support the use of Medium Chain Triglyceride oil  or  MCT oil. Please note that I said a LITTLE more evidence which is still not much.This is a specially formulated oil that often times extracts the MCTs out of coconut oil to produce a 100% MCFA oil.

So how do we now eat coconut oil in a healthy portioned manner? Until we have more evidence showing it to be safe for everyone all the time, I would recommend treating it like butter or any other saturated fat. Enjoy it! Have it in the house and cook with it on the occasion. Just not at every meal please. Try it in cookies sometime! I would recommend the “cold pressed” or “virgin” coconut oils since they are less processed. The highly processed conventional coconut oils are processed using high heat and chemicals to refine it. That likely will result in an oxidated oil product which will likely make your cell membranes angry! Please do not make your cell membranes angry! They want you to be healthy.

I hope this was helpful, and have a healthy Wednesday!!

 

QUICK FIND AN ATM!! Cat at the Farmer’s Market…

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My husband will tell you, I can go a little overboard at a Farmer’s Market. A little? OK, A LOT sometimes. Some women have a shoe problem. Some women have a clothing problem. I have a vegetable problem. I walk into the Farmer’s Market, cloth bags in hand… I can see the first produce display… my heart rate increases, my pupils dilate. And then, it happens. My ADD kicks in BIG TIME. Where do I even BEGIN?! Everywhere I look there are tables overflowing with the freshest most delicious looking produce. The prices are low, the nutrient levels are through the roof, and it can all be mine! Then my internal conversation begins, “Wait, no, hold on Cat, I have $40 in cash just forty… prioritize Cat! What do you need this week? Who are you cooking for? How much time do you have? OH God… I see honey crisp apples!” I dart over to the apple vendor, immediately start scanning the giant crate full of gorgeous apples. They look so delicious and freshly picked. Quick, GRAB A BAGGIE! I rip off a baggie from the dispenser and start stuffing it with ripe apples. After I realize the baggie is not nearly big enough (ugh!) I just give up and walk up to the apple vendor.

“Hi can I get a 20 lb box? I mean… after all, apples keep pretty well you know?” “Sure!” he says, thrilled that I am an impulse produce shopper. That’ll be $40 dollars maam”. GULP. “Ummmm… OK, there you go thanks!”

I hand over the money and head for my car to drop off my 20 pounds of honey crisp apples. As I walk over, I start scanning the market for the nearest ATM. I need money FAST. There is sweet corn and mushrooms calling my name. Not to mention my usual staples, kale, onions, garlic, carrots and potatoes. Oh God wait… heirloom TOMATOES are in season too right now! Forget taking out like $20 more dollars, I need at least $40 more dollars. I hope to heck I don’t have an encounter with fresh figs today because if I do, all bets are off. Fresh figs are my biggest weakness.

Within 30 minutes I typically have so much produce stuffed into my cloth bags that my biceps are aching as I relentlessly keep doing laps around my rather large local Farmer’s Market. If you are wondering if who you are looking at is me, look for the short chick not so gracefully schlepping around three over stuffed canvas bags of produce. I just keep scanning until I am absolutely sure that I have not missed anything. Not like I can’t and won’t come back tomorrow when I feel the itch!

My vegetable problem is compounded by the fact that where I live, the Farmer’s Market goes on four days a week in the Spring, Summer, and Fall, and that it remains open on Saturdays October-December. Only three months a year is the market closed where I live. Three months, I reign it in. But now I am only three weeks away from it’s reopening! Another issue I face in the summer is that there is a berry farm literally a mile from my house. What’s a nutrition nerd to do?!?

As much as I like to poke fun at myself, and my failed attempts to stay within a produce budget, I will point out that I think dedicating a slightly larger percent of your income on fresh healthy produce is actually a good idea. Yes, this will absolutely depend on your financial situation. There are all sorts of statistics you can google about the US and how in past decades, Americans spent a larger percent of their income on food, and a smaller percent of their income on their health care, versus today… where we spend typically a smaller amount (comparatively) on our food, and a larger amount (comparatively) on our healthcare. This does not prove anything of course and yes, healthcare has changed. However, it is telling of how our health problems have trended upwards as our food costs have trended downwards.

As a nutrition professional, I have learned a lot about how the human body has an amazing ability to heal itself within certain limits. I have also learned over and over again, how plant foods provide us with phytonutrients, that have an amazing ability to provide more disease preventing actions and aide the body’s own natural healing processes. There are obviously no guarantees in life, and no guarantees with any certain eating style. However, in the nutrition research world we tend to ask the question… Given the present day research, what makes the most sense? Supplying your body with an abundance of fiber and antioxidant containing produce seems to make the most sense. This (along with exercise) most likely will put your body in the best possible position to prevent disease and health issues from occurring. So if you’re able, feel free to splurge in the produce aisle or Farmer’s Market on the occasion! I plan on starting to garden this summer. I think that could help me be less of an impulse produce shopper at the market.

I Love FAT!! Healthy fat that is…

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Good morning everyone! This morning I’d like to talk about fats and oils and which are the best quality. First I’d like to clear something up. Contrary to everything we heard in the 90′s and even today sometimes, I am here to tell you… WE NEED FAT! It was villanized big time when I was growing up I can remember. Can you? Every product in the house was fat free this, fat free that or 98.8 % fat free. At the time it was just what we all ate and it all tasted normal to me. Now a days I sure eat differently. I slowly gave up the fat free processed products and now I almost spit them out when I taste them… YUCK! Not looking back. I like my fat.

So if during the 90′s we were not eating any fat …why did all of our nations statistics of overweight and obesity skyrocket in the 90s and 2000′s? You guessed it. SUGAR (soda mostly). Lack of exercise. Super sizing meals. More and more restaurants (fast food often) opening making it impossible to avoid food establishments almost anywhere you go. Those are some of the reasons that I suspect. I am sure there are more.

Now to be clear about my fat recommendation let’s use yogurt as an example. If you eat say a pint or more of yogurt a day, I am not suggesting you buy and eat a whole pint of full fat whole milk yogurt daily. That could be loaded with saturated fat. Perhaps more than you should have in a day. But here is the thing… with full fat or higher fat yogurt, you will likely feel fuller sooner and for longer. You might not need to eat that whole pint. Moderation. It tastes richer. It should provide you with more satiety. Want another suggestion? Definitely have some fruit with that yogurt that will help fill you up with healthy fiber as well. PS, yogurts that are flavored often times are LOADED with sugar. Consider buying plain yogurt and mixing in a small portion of sugar/ maple syrup/ jelly at home. The flavored yogurts at the store sometimes have as much sugar as soda! Additionally, consider your heart health. If you are having cholesterol issues then satuarted fat is not a great idea. But a snack that involves heart healthy olive oil will be a good choice!

I think the reasons that the nutrition world has always been so conservative with their fat recommendations is because oftentimes the portion control gets a little out of whack. I will never forget in my cooking class in grad school when our teacher said to our class “Don’t be afraid of butter!” Of course she explained the whole just don’t eat too much part. Great! I thought. I’m going to go buy some butter. I felt so LIBERATED! Now the idea is to not make the butter (or any saturated fat) a part of every meal. Make FAT part of every meal, yes. But there are healthier fats out there than butter that you can incorporate three times a day. Save the butter for the occasional meal. Olive oil, avocados, fish, nuts, seeds etc. Those oils are more anti inflammatory oils. They will fight off attempted cell damage by the inflammatory molecules floating around your body!

Again, WE NEED FAT. Our cell membranes are made up of several substances including a lot of fat molecules. If our cell membranes are starved of fat they will not function all that well. And they have a lot of work to do! They have a lot of messages to send to the inside of the cell, and hormones to interact with, and glucose to up take, and DNA to instruct… etc etc.The better the quality fat that you feed your cells, the better they will function, and the better they will fight off potential dangers to the cell. Fighting off danger is the anti inflammatory effect.

Do you know what else is made up of a lot of fat? Your brain. Do you want to starve your brain of the molecule that it needs to do everything that it does? Your brain certainly has a lot to do too. Feed it well please.

As always please take any health issues that you or your family has into account when deciding how to plan your meals. This is confusing to figure out I know. Would you like some help? That is why there are some professionals in town like us that are here to help you sort through all of your medical history and match an eating plan that is appropriate for you! Call us.

Have a healthy Friday!

Have an active Holiday Season…

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You’ve got Turkey’s to baste, presents to wrap, shopping to do, work to finish up and a house to clean before guests arrive. Does it sound like the holidays yet?? And perhaps you are surrounded by lovely christmas cookies that some sweet friends have made for you. And perhaps you are feeling guilty for eating a few more than you had said that you would. Well first of all DON’T FEEL GUILTY! Feeling guilty over something like eating has never made anybody any healthier. Nor has it ever brought anybody closer to their health goals. You know what helps people feel good about themselves, feel more alert, and brings them closer to their health goals? I’m sure you’ve guessed it… MOVEMENT! Exercise if you will although I shy away from that word since to some it is a negative word. It is one of the best things you can do for your health PERIOD. Perhaps THE best thing you can do for your health. But then we have the burning question that is especially relevant this week…. When will I realistically have time???!! 

Many people envision exercise as a minimum seventy minute time commitment involving getting gym stuff together, driving to the gym, do the work out/ class, showering, and changing. “SIGH!” You think to yourself on your commute home…”Forget it! Not today.” And we all have these days. But I have some good news for you… You don’t need to commit 70 minutes of your day to exercise. In fact, you don’t need to do much at all in one session. There has been much research done on the benefits of SHORT BOUT EXERCISE and the findings are wonderful. Research has found that individuals who participate in short walks, taking the stairs, doing quick ten minute work outs a couple or three times a day, or finding creative ways to get more steps in daily, are living longer with healthier blood pressure and lower risk of getting heart disease. Just google “short bout exercise” and you will see the pages upon pages of news articles and research on this topic. The general consensus seems to be making a goal of thirty minutes per day of “activity” five days a week which again can include walking at a brisk pace and using the stairs. You will also find LOADS of ideas as to HOW you can increase your activity for the day. The ideas include everything from doing a lap around your house before you go to the mail box, to marching in place while you brush your teeth. I’d also like to throw out a suggestion myself, in those weeks/ days when I know a “work out session” just won’t happen, I like to start my day with a seven minute work out I found on youtube that does not require any weights or equiptment.  Just roll out of bed and GO! And I’ll try to squeeze in another seven minute work out a couple times later in the day too.

My favorite quote from the Huffington Post article that I read this morning regarding short bout exercise was this “Brad Cardinal, professor of exercise and sport science at Oregon State University, said in a statement. ‘Making physical activity a way of life is more cost-effective than an expensive gym membership. You may be more likely to stick with it, and over the long term, you’ll be healthier, more mobile and just feel better all around.'” VERY TRUE! Although gyms are great for fitness they are not the only way to get fit.

Have an active Friday 🙂

Enjoy winter fruit!

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Good afternoon HartsSpace friends, today in my holiday themed blog I’d like to invite you to not only enjoy some holiday treats that we’ve already covered (cookies and flavored coffees), but to also enjoy some winter seasonal fruits! With all the decadent desserts that are so popular this time of year often times the stunning fruit that is currently in season gets over shadowed, and that is just SO sad. One fruit that has always intimidated me is the pomegranate. It all goes back to one morning six years ago where I thought I’d give the lonely pomegranate that I’d purchased that week a whirl. I cut the thing in half and tried to eat it (the tasty juice sacked seeds) with a spoon. Anyone who has ever eaten a pomegranate will understand my mistake. These jewels of juicy goodness are truly priceless in flavor but they don’t slide out of the skin/ membrane that easily. Just like say an orange section does not slide right out of orange skin unless you help it. So there I was six years ago poking at my pomegranate with my spoon. It may have taken me forty minutes to eat that pomegranate. And I made quite a mess. Which my husband will tell you is pretty typical. So after my forty minute wrestling match with my pomegranate I threw in the towel. I said That was too hard and I never want to do that againWHAT A QUITTER! I hate telling these stories about my misguided youth. The new Cat is NOT a quitter. NO! The new Cat takes at least a little initiative and you-tubes stuff she does not know how to do, like gardening and cutting pomegranates.  So I got a little wild the other day and picked up a pomegranate at the produce store. I asked the person who worked there how to pick out a good one and she stated… The darker the skin, the better. Done. I went home, watched three different youtube videos and now had some skills. I cut the skin along the membrane sections so that they would be ready to peel back and I pulled as many seeds off as I could. It did take a few minutes but not forty. Additionally, I learned that there are many ways to cut a pomegranate. Some methods use a bowl of water which supposedly cuts down on mess. I’ll save that method for when my husband is home. And boy did I learn my lesson. What a waste of perfectly good pomegranate eating time the past five winters of my life have been. All those winters I could have been enjoying the crown jewel of winter fruit! Pomegranates will make a huge comeback in my kitchen this winter and I’m SO happy about that. In case you try this food out this week FYI, you CAN eat the actual seed centers and I suggest that you do since they contain some additional fiber.

Not only are pomegranates amazing this time of year, but so are the oranges. And I’d like to encourage you to try all different kinds of oranges. Don’t let yourself get into an ORANGE RUT! For example, have you ever tried a Cara Cara Orange? You’d be surprised by how great they taste. They are the color of a pink grapefruit and they taste tart and sweet all at the same time. Or how about a blood orange? Those are a great source of phytonutrients that are often contained in berries… but at a cheaper citrus price tag. If there was one thing that I learned from my recent elimination diet (LEAP ImmunoCalm diet for food sensitivities) it was that I need to think outside my comfortable little box when grocery shopping. I need to try things that I have disliked in the past, and/ or try things that I disliked handling in the past (like pomegranates). Because guess what? Now we have youtube people. And we can learn how to cut ANYTHING correctly in a 60-120 second video. Here is one of my favorite pomegranate videos linked right here. Now go buy yourself a pomegranate and an off-the-grid orange. See my picture of my cara cara orange & pomegranate fruit salad that I made today on our facebook page.

Have a healthy Thursday 🙂

 

Bring these to a holiday Party?

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Good Afternoon HartsSpace! I’ve got another idea for you today. When you are deciding what to bring to the holiday party this season consider a creative item like the one above. And don’t call me a nutrition GRINCH please! There is cheesecake in these Santas so they are not terribly boring. Now if making christmas cookies is the one thing about the holiday season that you look forward to all year long… then by ALL means go right ahead. However, if you are looking for strategies to navigate the holidays while not loosing sight of your health goals then considering an item like the one pictured above could be a GREAT solution. This way you at least provide the party guests with one fresh fruit dessert option and you also ensure that you have ONE healthier item to snack on between cookies and cake bites. Try to be creative with your own fruit dessert… I’m imagining a grinch made out of kiwi fruit and pomegranate seeds! Are you dairy free like me? I’d like to suggest and link once again the magnificent “vegan lemon cashew sauce” recipe click right here. The recipe as stated does not taste very sweet however, if you double or triple the sweetener in the recipe as I have in the past the “sauce” tastes more like a sweet whipped cream. This could be used as a whipped cream substitute.

The idea is that holidays parties in my experience always have WAY too many cookies, resulting in leftovers going home with everyone which is fine except that after that party you really don’t need three more days of grazing on cookies if you are trying to eat healthier. So contributing a slightly healthier item at the party can help reduce cookie waste/ leftovers.

The recipe for the Strawberry Cheesecake Santas can be found here.

Have a Healthy Thursday 🙂

Beginning of Cat’s Holiday Rant…

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Good morning HartsSpace friends! I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving. I sure did. I enjoyed lots of good food, family, and reflection. Although I love to promote healthy eating I do also promote enjoying more calorie dense food on the occasion, and what better occasion than the holidays? I mean really… life is short. Even I know that and I don’t like to encourage people to feel guilt surrounding eating. Eating is NOT A MORAL ISSUE PEOPLE! Guilt often times goes hand and hand with the holidays since we all tend to over eat a bit. It’s kind of SAD that our holidays get clouded with guilt. However, we do live in a society that LOVES to celebrate the holidays with lots of comfort food and parties. Oh the parties. The invites start flying into my inbox around mid November for all sorts of holiday parties. For those of you out there with health goals, the holidays can be a difficult time. I’d like to offer some suggestions to help you all prepare for the holiday season. I will write a few blogs on this topic, but today I will focus on not going out to eat this month. This is a strategy to counteract those indulgent evenings and persistent mountains of sugar cookies that start erecting everywhere you look starting December first.

I know we all enjoy going out to eat but here is the thing…You have eleven other months of the year to go out to eat. And you will undoubtably go to a restaurant or two or three for a holiday party this month. So lets not compound those heavy eating nights with any more additional restaurant meals. I do understand that some restaurant meals can be on the healthier side. If you say order salad, or go to some extremely (and very rare) healthy restaurant then sure those meals might be as healthy or more healthy than something you would have made at home. But that is a very unlikely scenario. Restaurants draw customers in by serving delicious high calorie food. And there is nothing wrong with that, I love going out to eat on occasion! However, I feel pretty confident in saying that it is ALMOST ALWAYS going to be healthier to make a meal at home. And it will always be cheaper. Not to mention the whole temptation factor that restaurants present as well. So you have a pep talk with yourself before you leave for the restaurant… you say one hundred times in your head before you arrive at the restaurant that you will order that salad. Sweet. I’m ordering a salad and drinking water. This is going to be great. But then you walk in. And it hits you… the scent of sizzling steaks, home baked pizzas, mashed potatoes, fried chicken, hamburgers and you name it. And you think …WOW THAT SMELLS GOOD!! And then you sit down. You look over to your left and the person at that table is expressing utter enjoyment of their NY strip steak. They are sipping a glass of red wine with it and they just look SO happy with their wine choice. And then you look to your right, that person over there was just presented with their chocolate cake and ice cream for dessert. You open your menu. Forty five delicious high calorie meal options and a few salads. And then it hits you… you are hungry and you want WAY more than a salad with chicken. Now what do you do? Well if you are like most people you likely will not order a salad with chicken. And then you will feel guilty about not sticking to your salad plan. But here’s the thing… you did not set yourself up for success by going out to eat. There are barriers all over that restaurant to your healthy eating. If you had eaten at home you would not have had so many smells, visual cues, and opportunity to stray from your plan. You would have had what was in your fridge, freezer and pantry. Which leads me to one of my favorite nutrition quotes that I see on facebook all the time: IF YOU KEEP HEALTHY FOOD IN YOUR FRIDGE YOU WILL EAT HEALTHY FOOD. I don’t know who said it but it’s pretty much common sense anyways. This is a true statement. If you’d like proof I recommend reading a book by Brian Wansink PhD called “Mindless Eating”. Great read.

Now back to the guilt thing… if you did stray from your plan, please don’t feel guilty. The act of eating is not a moral issue. You did not hurt anybody by ordering fried chicken over a salad. You did skip out on paying your check, you did not offend anyone, you did nothing that necessitates a guilt trip. Sure you had a goal that you strayed from a bit, but it’s about progress. What other things did you do this week/ month that were progressive towards your health goal? The more you beat up on yourself the more you will hate eating healthy. We don’t want that! We want you to like eating healthy. So please replace the guilt trip with a brief quiet reflection that examines what happened, what could be done differently in the future, and what other things you have done RIGHT recently. Don’t solely focus on the negatives!

OK done ranting for today… but there will me more rants this week. Have a healthy Thursday 🙂