All Posts tagged wellness

How to upgrade your brown bag lunch with healthier foods

How to upgrade your brown bag lunch with healthier foods

If you’re packing your lunch, chances are you’re striving to make healthy choices. Good for you! But keep this in mind – not all brown bag lunches are equal. Just because you packed it doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Here I offer some tips for creating a healthy lunch rich in WHOLE, FRESH and REAL foods, and free of unwanted ingredients like artificial flavors, artificial colors, preservatives, additives and sugar – all which I categorize as NON-food ingredients. (Check out my blog post “Packing your lunch? Find out what’s really in your brown bag” to learn what foods to avoid).

Here are some tips to help get you started:

  • Color: Where there is color, there is nutrition! Lunches full of color are lunches rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, which we could all use more of!
  • Package-free: More times than not, a food in a package has been processed and contains added ingredients. Therefore it’s a modified version of the original food. So…focus on foods that aren’t packaged – i.e., whole, fresh foods – and your diet will automatically be higher in nutrients your body needs. 
  • Minimal Ingredients: When picking out foods that are packaged, aim for options that contain only a few ingredients. The fewer the better because it will help ensure that there’s less stuff – i.e., preservatives, additives, artificial colors, artificial flavors, added sugar.  Also – make sure you can recognize the names of the ingredients. If you can’t pronounce something, it’s likely unnecessary for your diet.

Here are some of my favorite go-to lunch foods:

Apple
Fresh fruit: a great source of natural fiber, fresh fruit also contains natural sugars (instead of added sugar!) to   fuel our bodies with energy. Better to get your sugar here because it’s paired with the fiber which will ensure a slower absorption by your body, keeping you from experiencing quick spikes in blood sugar.

 

hardboiled egg

Slices of Pepper / Original horizontal border with water's drop and real reflection

Fresh vegetables: Fresh vegetables are loaded with nutrients and there are endless options out there to create variety and flavor for your lunch. Try carrots one day and greens the next. Dip grape tomatoes or sliced peppers into homemade hummus or guacamole.

 

 

eggs

 

Hardboiled egg: Skip the processed lunch meat and go for this delicious and easy-to-prepare source of protein. Make a batch of eggs at the beginning of the week so they’re on hand to grab and go.

 

 

chia seedsChia Pod: Cha-cha-cha-chia!! The Chia Pod is one of my favorite snacks! If you like pudding, you’re going to love this sweet treat! What’s even better – this version of pudding is free of added sugar and is gluten and dairy free! If you’re not familiar with the health benefits of chia seeds, check out this informative article by Dr. Oz – these little seeds are full of Omega 3’s, fiber, protein and more. Want to make chia seed pudding at home? It’s easy! Check out my homemade recipe. 

hardboiled egg

Plantain Chips: Need a little crunch but want to avoid the fried potato chips? Good idea! Look no further, plantain chips are the answer! Trader Joe’s plantain chips are roasted and contain just three ingredients – plantains, oil and sea salt. chips

 

Looking to incorporate healthy habits like these into your routine? Not sure how to get started? Contact me to schedule an introductory health coaching session and we’ll create your next steps!

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How to make your health kick stick in the New Year

How to make your health kick stick in the New Year

What are your New Year’s resolutions and are you sticking to them? The new year’s hype will soon be over, and if you’re like most people, you’ll struggle to keep up with changes. Here are some tips to help you make your health kick stick this new year.

  1. Put your health on your to-do list, every day. Your health is as important as your next client meeting, or that report you owe your boss, so make sure it’s front and center on your list of daily tasks.
  2. Dig a little deeper to find your motivation. Sure, it would be nice to get back into your favorite pair of jeans, but is that the real reason you want to make healthy choices this year? Think about why your health matters, and use that to drive your daily habits.
  3. Do something to support your health first thing in the morning. Review your list of resolutions and aim to incorporate a health supporting activity before you head out for the day. My top 2 morning habits: including leafy greens in my breakfast and drinking 20-30 oz of water.

Learn how I can support you in achieving better health in the new year.

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Three tips for mindful eating this Thanksgiving

Three tips for mindful eating this Thanksgiving

There’s no way to avoid food on Thanksgiving, but we can avoid overeating it! Try these tips to help you slow down and eat more mindfully on Turkey Day.

#1: Stay hydrated
Drink water throughout the day. You’ll feel less hungry when meal time comes, and you’ll automatically redirect some of your attention away from the food and onto a healthy behavior. Plus, even though you’ll still indulge in stuffing and pie, your body will benefit from this healthy decision all day long.

#2: Leave room for dessert
It’s unlikely you’ll skip dessert on Thanksgiving, so do your body a (healthy!) favor by leaving room for it in your belly! Eating when you’re too full does nothing positive for your health, so pace yourself at dinner so that you can enjoy every bite at dessert.

#3: Give Thanks!
This holiday is about giving thanks, so rather than taking the day for granted, take a pause and think about all you have to be thankful for, including your health. Something else to give thanks for? Your food! A moment of thanks before your first bite will help you slow you down during meal time and appreciate your meal.

New Year, Health You Special! Purchase any Joy to Wellness Health Coaching Service between now and December 31st, 2014 and receive 10% off! Then, schedule your service for the new year or start now. (It’s up to you!)

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Coconut Lentil Curry by Chef Susan Pachikara of Cardamom Kitchen

Coconut Lentil Curry by Chef Susan Pachikara of Cardamom Kitchen

This month I welcome Chef Susan Pachikara of Cardamom Kitchen who shares her recipe for Coconut Lentil Curry. Trust me when I say this recipe is AMAZING (and EASY to make!)

Serves 6

INGREDIENTS

1 cup masoor dhal (red lentils)
½ cup diced onions
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 cups water
1¼ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon ground cumin
10 to 15 fresh curry leaves (optional)
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
2 cups coconut milk
2 teaspoons canola oil
1/8 teaspoon brown or black mustard seeds
1 dried red chili, torn in half

INSTRUCTIONS

Place the dhal in a medium size saucepan. Rinse it several times and drain.

Add ¼ cup onions, garlic, water, salt, cayenne, cumin, curry leaves, and turmeric to the saucepan. Bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the dhal softens and expands, about 15 minutes. If foam forms on the surface, skim it off with a spoon.

Reduce heat to low and stir in coconut milk. Cook for 2 minutes.

Place the oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds. When they start to pop, immediately add the remaining ¼ cup onions and dried red chili and stir. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook until the onions begin to brown.

Swirl the seasoned onions into the dhal.

 Want to learn more from Susan about Indian cuisine? Sign up for her Culinary Tour of Devon Avenue! 

About Chef Susan:

Through cooking classes and culinary tours of Devon Avenue, Chef Susan offers home cooks and food lovers a portal to the authentic flavors of India. Her classes feature hands-on instruction for individuals or groups who want to bring the flavors of India home. Come discover the wonders of cardamom and curry leaves. Leave your passport behind. See www.cardamomkitchen.blogspot.com for a sample of Susan’s favorite family recipes.  To schedule a cooking class or culinary tour, contact Chef Susan at cardamomkitchen@gmail.com.

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Three tips to help you avoid post-holiday guilt

Three tips to help you avoid post-holiday guilt

Do you fall off the healthy wagon during the holidays? It’s easy to use the holidays as an excuse to make bad decisions, but this just leaves us feeling guilty when the new year arrives. This year get ahead of the holidays so that you can stay healthy and happy all the way through. Follow these three easy tips:

Tip #1: Find a Partner in Health
Two key ingredients for getting to a healthier place in life and staying there are ACCOUNTABILITY and SUPPORT. To help with these, find a friend, coworker or family member to do healthy activities with – walks during your lunch hour, yoga on the weekend or a healthy cooking class. Keep each other posted on progress via text or Facebook.

Tip #2: Start Menu Planning Now
We all have good intentions for making healthy meals, but without a plan it’s easy to just give up and return to our unhealthy staples like grilled cheese or pizza. Same goes for the holidays. If you want to make a healthier holiday feast this year, start planning NOW. Search for healthy recipes and test them out ahead of time rather than waiting until the week before which will likely leave you stressed for time and returning to your usual menu. Find healthy ideas on Whole Foods Recipe Page where you can search by categories like dietary type (ex “sugar conscious”) or type of dish.

Tip #3: Ditch the “next year I’ll do better” mentality
Your health cannot be put on hold based on what time of year it is.  It’s time to ditch the “I’ll start my workout routine after the holidays” or “I deserve this because it’s Christmas” mentality and commit to your health once and for all. This doesn’t mean you’ll never eat a cookie again or you won’t experience temporary set backs. What it does mean is A NEW VIEW ON YOU, which is a healthy, balanced and consistent you.

Ready to get healthy once and for all? Check out my 3-Month Wellness Program!

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Packing your lunch? Find out what’s really in your brown bag

Packing your lunch? Find out what’s really in your brown bag

Unhealthy Foods

Unhealthy Foods

We all want to do our bodies good, especially at lunchtime when we’re hungry for energy to get us through the rest of the day! Packing your lunch is a great way to avoid unhealthy fast food, or if you’re packing it for your kids, a sure way to help them bypass the not-so-healthy cafeteria food at school. But are the lunches you’re packing like most typical American brown bag lunches? If so, they’re probably  loaded with foods that come from packages and contain unwanted “mystery” ingredients like additives, preservatives, added sugar, artificial colors and flavors.

Here’s a list of foods we commonly pack in our brown bags or kids’ lunch boxes. Take a read to learn about the unhealthy ingredients they contain. Then, check out my blog post, “How to upgrade your brown bag lunch with healthier foods.”Unhealthy Foods

Unhealthy Foods

Unhealthy Foods

Multigrain Crackers

“Multigrain” foods: Don’t be fooled by promises of whole grains in crackers, breads and cereals. Most of these packaged foods are made from FLOUR and therefore are NOT whole. This can be confusing, but what it boils down to is this: once a grain is ground into a powdery flour substance IT NO LONGER EQUALS A WHOLE GRAIN, which means the nutritional benefits have diminished.

Read what Dr. Andrew Weil has to say about true whole grains and why it’s best to opt for these instead of       packaged and processed versions.

 

low calorie cookies Processed sweets: There’s nothing healthy about added sugar, and packaged desserts – cookies, cupcakes, candy – are loaded with it! Nabisco 100 calorie Chips Ahoy cookies, for example, contain multiple sweeteners on top of enriched flour and artificial flavors. If you’re looking for something sweet, ditch the packaged versions and make some homemade treats instead. Though still not the healthiest choice, at least you’ll know what’s in your own cookies and cakes, and  you’ll be keeping yourself from ingredients that aren’t really food in the first place (like artificial colors, highly processed flours, etc.)

lowfat yogurt

 

Sugary yogurts: Be advised – while yogurt naturally contains sugar from lactose, most flavored varieties contain added sugar, especially those labeled “light”.

 

P B & JSandwiches: Yes, sandwiches are tasty, but our favorites like PB & J or turkey and cheese are usually packed with added sugar, enriched flour and preservatives. Typical ingredients like peanut butter and jelly contain multiple added sweeteners like sugar, molasses and high fructose corn syrup. Sliced deli meats aren’t usually just meat – in fact, most contain added sugar, anti-caking agents and preservatives. And don’t be fooled by the health promises of bread! Just like other multigrain products (see above), bread is not a healthy source of whole grains despite what the message on the packaged might say.

Looking to rid your diet of unhealthy foods like these? Not sure how to get started? Contact me to schedule an introductory health coaching session and we’ll create your next steps!

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It’s National Junk Food Day, but let’s celebrate our health instead

It’s National Junk Food Day, but let’s celebrate our health instead

These days, there’s a holiday for everything, and today is no exception – it’s National Junk Food Day. Though, sadly enough, if we look at the standard American diet (“SAD”), we might assume that every day is National Junk Food Day in this country. In fact, according to Dr. Mark Hyman, the average American consumes approximately 150 pounds of sugar and high fructose corn syrup each year.

The other night as my husband and I wandered the aisles of our local grocery store, I noticed that the ice cream aisle is now longer than the frozen vegetable aisle! In fact, I could find every imaginable variety of ice cream  – from vanilla to chocolate swirl – and yet I couldn’t find one single bag of frozen organic broccoli for the black bean burgers I was planning to make for dinner. And as I looked for a can of white beans, I was left with only one option, which contained preservatives. (Have you heard the popular jingle, “I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream”?  Well, the scene at the grocery store definitely left me feeling like I wanted to SCREAM!)

Detoxing from junk food isn’t easy. It takes time, commitment and a personal realization of why your health really matters to you. Though I’m a health coach today, I was once an unhealthy vegetarian, and it took time for me to embrace the truth about food, which is: you really are what you eat. I didn’t eat terribly all the time, but I carried daily  junk food habits that continuosly let my body down – cereal for breakfast that contained refined grains and sugar, sugary lattes on the way to the office and caffeinated soft drinks as pick-me-ups in the afternoon, to name just a few. I went years being tired and suffering from join pain, irritable bowel syndrome and migraine headaches. And yet, it took years for me to make a connection between my habits and these health issues.

I know many of you reading this find yourself in a similar position with your health. Or if you’re one of the lucky ones who doesn’t constantly feel the effects of bad foods, the consequences could sneak up on you at any moment. So, I invite you to take a moment each day to check in with your body. Are you tired? Are you in pain? Do you have digestive issues?  If you answered yes to any of these, consider taking it a little further and reflecting on your food. Are you fueling your body with plant-based foods? Or are you loading it up with not-so-whole foods that come in packages and are loaded with sugar, fillers and preservatives?

Wherever you are with your health and food, opt to celebrate National Junk Food Day in an unconventional way…by celebrating YOUR HEALTH. To begin, start with this small step – acknowledge the food-body-health connection. Then, say this out loud (and let it be your daily reminder to re-fuel with whole foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and whole grains).

When I eat well, I feel well. And when I feel well, life is so much better!

Have a happy National Junk Food  Day!

Want to focus on your health? Take the first step and schedule an introductory health coaching session with me!

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