Healthy Mindset Challenge

Our mental perspective can make all the difference in how successful we are in life. We could all work harder and we could all use a little more self-love.

Here is the challenge: no scale, no mirror for 1 week. Identify other sources that contribute to your own perception of “image” and remove those from your life for one week. These things include Facebook, magazines, TV shows etc.

There are two elements that will replace what you are removing in your life: hard-work and self-love.

1. Hard work– give this week all you have. Use the time that you would usually use to say “I wish I was,” or “I am not” in a productive way. Listen to your body, listen to your heart and listen to your mind. Push hard in your workouts, go for a clean diet (use a food journal if need be) and make some time to set some goals. This is your week, don’t hold back!

2. Self-love– give yourself a compliment when you wake up, at lunch and after dinner. Give yourself a hug after a good workout. Post notes in your calendar or notebook to remind yourself about your strong qualities. Before you go to bed at night, think about 3 things that you are grateful for that day. Take time to give yourself love instead of being hard on yourself. This approach is way more enjoyable and productive.

At the end of the week, reflect to see what it felt like to work harder and to give yourself some love.  See what it does to your perception of other people.

Wishing you a week filled with love, health & happiness.

1 Comment

Filed under Lifestyle

Mama Mia Healthy Pizza

As a child my favorite foods where comprised of some type of pasta/ bread covered with sauce and cheese. These included anything that had to do with pizza, mac and cheese, grilled cheese etc.; which have most likely led me to my food sensitivities that I experience in full force at this point in my life. Just because I have food sensitivities, doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy comfort foods. It means that I have to be creative to find healthy alternatives that satisfy both my nutritional and emotional desires. This being said, healthy pizza is still a treat in my book that should be eaten in moderation. Simply put, I will not be eating pizza and or pasta substitutes for 90% of my diet. Rather these things fall into the 10% of my diet.

You can substitute just about every ingredient in this recipe to your personal desires & food sensitivities. Spelt flour is a good alternative for whole wheat flour for people with gluten sensitivities or intolerance, however it is not a flour you want to use if you have celiac disease.

In this pizza we used ingredients that are organic, local and seasonal. Arugula has a wonderful bitter bite to it which is balanced out by the creamy texture and saltiness from the goat-feta. The thin-crust has a delightful crunch, along with some sweetness from the honey, lending this pizza to a great flavor combination. You can choose to top the pizza with any veggies that are season. We chose orange peppers. Other veggies that are currently in season in Northern California include beets, radishes, carrots, fennel, and some peas. Get creative, stay local, organic, seasonal and unprocessed.

Without further a due:

Thin-Crust Pizza Dough Recipe

¾ cup  water, heated to 105-115 f

1 tsp      raw honey

1 package or 2 ¼ cups dry active yeast

2 cups   whole wheat flour or spelt flour (or 2 ¼ cups sprouted flour)

1 tsp       sea salt

1 Tbsp   olive oil

  1. Combine the water and the honey in a small bowl. Stir to combine. Sprinkle the yeast over the water mixture and allow to sit undisturbed for 5 minutes. If after 5 minutes, the yeast is foaming proceed with the following instructions. If the yeast is not foamy, wait 5 more minutes. If the yeast still does not foam, start over with new yeast.
  2. Combine the flour and salt in a medium bowl. Make a well in the middle and add the yeast-water mixture and oil. Stir clockwise with a wooden spoon until a dough is formed. Transfer the dough to a smooth and lightly floured surface. Knead for 3 minutes, or until the dough is slightly springy when pressed with a finger. (Do not knead for more than 5 minutes if using spelt flour as the gluten in spelt is weak.)
  3. Transfer the kneaded dough to a clean and lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 F.
  4. Divide the dough into 2 balls. On two pieces of parchment paper, roll out each ball into a 10-12 inch crust, no more than 1⁄4 inch thick. Transfer the parchment paper to a baking sheet.
  5. Top the pizza crusts with desired toppings. Transfer baking sheets to the preheated oven and bake pizzas for 20 minutes, or until the crust is browned and the cheese is melted.

Yield: 2 10″ crusts

Adapted from Bauman College

Arugula Walnut Pesto

A unique dairy-free pesto made of arugula and walnuts, Making pesto is a great way to add fresh herbs to any dish. Spices can also be added for extra flavor and nutritional benefits. Keep some for leftovers to put on chicken, eggs or salmon.

¼ cup walnuts

1 teaspoon minced garlic (1 medium clove)

4 cups arugula

½ teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons lemon juice

2 Tablespoons olive oil

  1. Toast walnuts in a small pan until golden, about 8 minutes
  2. Add garlic and walnuts to a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped.
  3. Add arugula and salt to the mixture. Pulse until a coarse paste forms. With the machine running, gradually add olive oil. Add lemon juice to desired taste.
  4. Remove pesto from food processor

Servings: 2-3 pizzas

Adapted from http://www.lopezislandkitchengardens.wordpress.com

Pizza is way more fun to make with other people. Invite family or friends to join you in the ingredient selection and cooking process.

Ciao!

Leave a comment

Filed under Cooking & Recipes

Another Year of Growth

This past year has been a year of exceptional growth in my life. For the first time, I have not been bound by the walls of a classroom or a school calendar. This time last year, it was time for me to get my feet wet in “the real life.” In the past year I have gotten to know myself better than ever before. I have fully immersed myself in many aspects of life that had only been a mere thought or desire up until now. The most important lesson that I have learned is that health and happiness are integral with one another and are interwoven with many other factors.

In the middle of May, I started my journey with Institute for Integrative Nutrition, a training course for Health Consultants. The main principle in this program is that we have primary foods in life which are different to ordinary foods. Primary foods are healthy relationships, regular physical activity, a fulfilling career, a spiritual practice. It is not only about the foods that we eat. If you are not happy then your health is going to take a toll. If you are too obsessed with nutrition or fitness, it is going to distract you from other aspects in your life that are also vital to your well-being. Each person is unique when it comes to health, we all require different balances. So too with nutrition, what works for one person very likely could be unhealthy for another person.

While we are all bio-diverse (each of us has our own needs) there are some truths that apply to each and every human. Drinking water is better for you than drinking soda for example. Getting exercise is better for you than sitting on the couch playing video games. Healthy relationship with your partner, family or friends is better than abusive relationships.

There are also some truths which I am particularly interested and focused on in relation to the culture of food. Food brings people together. It helps bind communities, build friendships and sustain lives. Whether people are growing food together, cooking or eating together, they are benefiting from their actions. Safe & quality food is going to provide for a better future.

It is my goal, in my 23rd year of life, to get a deeper understanding of my balance so that I can successfully inspire others to live more fulfilled, enjoyable, positive, balanced and happy lives. In turn, I know that each person that I am able to inspire will inspire at least one or two more people.

Let’s go back to some foundations in order to find deeper meaning in the lives that we live and the connections that we make–with other people and nature–along the way.

Leave a comment

Filed under Lifestyle

Wonder why you are not seeing results from your workout? Here are some insider tips!

When it comes to fitness and nutrition, what works for one person may not work for someone else. While one person may be able to run a half marathon another person- due to injury or body structure- may never be able to run a half marathon. I am not saying that you should sell yourself short or give up on your goals. What I am saying is that you should be able to find some type of workout that you enjoy and that works for your body type.

There is one rule that applies to absolutely everyone. If you are not seeing results, you are not doing the right workout or eating the right diet for you. Some people run, bike, go on the elliptical/ walk on the treadmill for an hour several days a week. It is very likely that they are bored of doing the same workout and that their bodies are also bored of doing the same workout day in and day out. What I would recommend to everyone is workout variety. Try some new things in the gym or outside and rotate them into your workout routine. Runners might need some yoga in their routine. Yogis probably need some strength training in their routine.

In addition to workout variety, you can add in some interval training. With this type of training you should start at your regular pace for a set amount of time and then increase the intensity for the same amount of time. I will use the treadmill as an example. You can start at your regular pace, lets say level 5, for 2 minutes. After the 2 minutes are up you will switch to level 7 for 2 minutes then return back to level 5 and repeat. Some variations to increasing intensity include changing your speed and/or incline. You can get creative with interval training by doing a “pyramid” time challenge. This is how it works:

1 minute baseline, 1 minute challenge

2 minutes baseline, 2 minutes challenge

Continue all the way up to 5 minutes then work back down the pyramid

4 minutes baseline, 4 minutes challenge

3 minutes baseline, 3 minutes challenge

Until you get to 1 minute

Recently, due to an irritated SI Joint in my lower back, I have not be able to run longer distances. I personally feel like a hamster doing 30-40 minutes on the treadmill or the elliptical plus I get really bored.  Another component that was missing is that I was not seeing results. So, what is the point in even working out if I am not enjoying it and not seeing results? Thus, I have turned to rapid cardio/strength circuit workouts. I love these because they have a lot of variety involved. I also love them because I am seeing awesome results and I feel really strong.

Rapid cardio/ strength circuits involve a type of cardio that is called anaerobic exercise. Whereas running running long distances or walking on the treadmill would be considered aerobic exercise. Both of these type of exercises serve their own purpose. I have been finding that short-duration and high intensity exercises, namely anaerobic exercises, are what my body is responding to best at this point in time. Here are some examples of exercises that you can include in your rapid cardio/ strength circuits:

– Rowing machine: 300 meter or 400 meter row

– 1-2 minutes jump roping

– 10-20 burpees

– 30-50 jumping jacks

– Jump- switch lunges

– 30-40 mountain climbers (downward dog position with arms and running motion with legs)

– 20-30 yd. sprints

Those are just a few examples of some anaerobic exercises. I usually choose 3 exercises and rotate through them 4 times. I do the 3 exercises, take a 30 second break then repeat the circuit. By the time you are done, you have done around 20 minutes of intense cardio. You should be sweating and almost out of breath.

I will be posting some specific workouts in the near future. Hang tight! For now, please leave comments if you have any questions!

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness

Confused about what to buy at the grocery store? Worry no more!

“The news abounds with stories such as countless tales of deadly bacteria-laden meats and vegetables; packaged-food poisonings; estrogen-laced meats; pesticide-enriched produce; more and more irradiated and genetically modified foods; antibiotics in animals leading to resistance in humans.Consumers of food, which is to say all of us, have become concerned that the food supply is no longer safe, may be creating or perpetuating chronic illness, or worse, may be capable of killing us.”

If you are confused about what to buy or should we say what not to buy at the grocery store, you are not alone! With all the fancy packaging, confusing words in the ingredient lists and with so many products to choose from, I don’t blame anyone for being confused or frustrated. There are some simple guidelines that you can follow to ensure that you are getting the optimal nutrients out of the foods you are putting into your body. These simple guidelines will also ensure that you are keeping chemicals and toxins-which eventually lead to disease- out of your body.  Let’s go back to the basics.

The term “organic” is scary and expensive for most people. We need to take a step back in order to realistically understand that the pesticides, antibiotics, and hormones that are added to conventional food is the scary part of the equation and that medical bills resulting from food-based disease  are the expensive part. Now that organic no longer means scary and expensive, let’s define what it really means.

In simple terms, organic means that there are no pesticides or chemicals involved in the growing and processing of fruits and vegetables. It also means that there are no antibiotics or hormones added to animal protein.

If there is one thing that you decide to buy organic, it should be your animal products. Without going into the very sad and disgusting details about how animal products are processed now-a-days, I will STRONGLY advise you to buy animal products that are organic. Here are some more detailed guidelines for buying safe food products.

Guide for buying fruits and vegetables

Better to buy organic:More likely to be handled with pesticides, antibiotics & hormones Okay To Buy Conventional:Less likely to be handled with pesticides, antibiotics & hormones
Peaches/ NectarinesStrawberries/ Blueberries/ GrapesApples/PearsCeleryBell PeppersCarrots/PotatoesLettuce/Leafy Greens/ SpinachKale/ Collard GreensBaby FoodMilk and Other Dairy ProductsMeat (Chicken, Beef,Pork)CoffeeNuts/ Nut Butters

Cooking Oils

OnionsCabbageEggplantAsparagusSweet PeasSweet PotatoesAvocadosPineapplesMangoesMushroomsCantaloupeWatermelonGrapefruit

Kiwi

** I keep a small print out of the table above in my wallet. No need to memorize!

What to look for on packaged food labels

First thing I look for is the ingredient list. My rules for ingredients are simple:

1. No more than 3 (maybe 5) ingredients

2. You should be able to pronounce and understand every ingredient

3. Sugar should not be in the first 3 ingredients (if it is even in the list at all is up to you)

This is tricky because there are many different terms to hide sugar. Just stick to rule #2 and you shouldn’t have a problem.

Now that you have checked the ingredients, it is time to refer to the some-what helpful nutrition facts. First look at how many servings there are and what the serving size is. Next look for anything that looks abnormally high. For example, are the carbohydrates, fats or proteins very high in comparison to one another. Another thing I always look at are the sodium and sugar contents in packaged food as they tend to be very high due to the way packaged food is  processed.

It is very hard to find a perfect packaged product because in reality a perfect food does not come in a package, it comes from nature. However, comparing food labels between different brands can help you choose products that are much healthier than other products that are offered to you as a consumer.

What to look for when buying eggs

Simple….Pastured, free-range, organic

What to look for when buying fish

In most cases you want to buy fish that were caught in the wild as opposed to farmed fish. There are a few exceptions so do your research first to make sure that you are buying from reputable sources. As you have probably heard in the news, there is concern with mercury levels in some fish based on which areas they are caught in. Be sure to check the following websites for updated information about responsible/sustainable fish consumption:

http://apps.edf.org/page.cfm?tagID=1521

http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/seafoodwatch.aspx

You can also buy sustainable seafood from from www.vitalchoice.com

What to look for when buying beef products

Step 1: Make sure your beef is organic

“When you see the green USDA organic label-you know the food is going to be free of pesticide residues-synthetic hormones- antibiotics-and genetically modified grain.”

Step 2: Make sure that the cattle was grass-fed as opposed to grain fed.

Since cattle are naturally meant to eat grain, they have a difficult time breaking down the grain in their bellies. This leads to lower immune systems which require farmers to add antibiotics to the grain feed. Grass fed cattle have proven to produce meat and dairy products that are higher in nutrients. There is also less chance of food-borne illness such as E. coli when consuming grass-fed beef. To find out more refer to www.eatwild.com

What to look for when buying chicken products

This is where things get a little bit tricky. However, if you know what to look for then you will not be fooled by the labeling tricks–aka purposefully misleading statements. For example, “cage free” does not mean that the birds are free-roaming. Birds that are raised in their natural environment AND feed off their natural diet are healthier than the way most chickens are raised now-a-days. Birds that are stuffed into small spaces with no light have high stress levels, leading to low immune systems, at which point farmers introduce antibiotics into their feed to keep them from spreading disease. Another trick in the big chicken-company book is that “anti-biotic free” does not mean that the FDA regulated that product. It must say “raised without antibiotics.” The last thing that you need to look for is “air-chilled.” If a chicken is not air-chilled then it has been dunked in cold water with chemicals to speed up the production process. Last but not least it should be organic. So why go through all of the trouble to identify which chicken to buy?

Industrial farming practices produce unhealthy animals that 500,000 packed together in tight spaces, treated in-humanly, and are fed GMO grains. Conventional poultry can expose you to antibiotics, high levels of arsenic, toxins from fertilizers and pesticides.

The best place to buy your chicken is the farmer’s market. There are also local reliable farms that  you can order from online. You can buy chicken that meets the above criteria at Whole-Foods. I spent 15 minutes today looking at the pre-packaged chicken. After a little chuckle of frustration, I walked over to the meat counter where I found the perfect bird;

  • air chilled
  • organic
  • raised without antibiotics
  • hormone free
  • free range

It absolutely absured that we should have to search for this criteria in order to find chicken that will not contribute to unhealthy reactions in our bodies. Better to spend $18 on a whole chicken than to spend over thousands of dollars in medical bills when you still need money to pay for retirement. OH MY!

It is really sad that we have to protect ourselves from food companies who find it more important to make money than to care about people’s health. You do not have to freak out or be terrified of all the information that I have provided above. The more educated we are about how our food is processed, the more chance we stand to protect ourselves from disease. Making small changes at a time is the most successful tactic. Remember that you have the power in the grocery store. Every time you swipe your card you are voting for what type of products you want the grocery store to offer. More specifically, if there is less demand for unhealthy products, the companies will have to reduce production because they will have excess product which costs them money. Conversely, if there is more demand for healthy products, responsible food companies will have to produce more of the good stuff to keep up with the high demand.

If you have any specific questions, please comment! I would love to help you make more educated decisions in the grocery store.

Sources:

Organic guide for fruit and vegetables: Adapted by Bauman College from the Environmental Working Group’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides.

www.eatwild.com

http://apps.edf.org/page.cfm?tagID=1521

http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/seafoodwatch.aspx

Notes from class lecture at Bauman College- Spring 2012 Berkeley, CA.

Leave a comment

Filed under Nutrition

Homemade Hummus (Raw)

I am very impressed with my first attempt at making hummus. This is a great dip or spread that pairs up with crunchy veggies as a tasty snack. You can also use this spread on homemade crackers or a great brand that can be found at any health food store is “Mary’s Gone Crackers.”

Hummus

Ingredients

1 16 oz can of chickpea, garbonzo beans (or white beans for those who have a hard time digesting beans)

1/4 cup liquid from can of beans

3-5 tablespoons of lemon juice*

1 1/2 Tablespoons of tahini**

1 clove of garlic, crushed (optional)

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

2 Tablespoons olive oil

Image

Procedure

1. Drain beans of choice- I used garbonzo beans for this one- set liquid aside

2. Add remainder of ingredients to a blender

3. Measure out 1/4 cup of liquid from beans and add to blender

4. Blend until smooth

If needed for texture, add 1 extra teaspoon of olive oil

* Lemons vary in size and bitterness. Start with 3 Tablespoons then add more if needed for taste

** Tahini is a creamy puree of roasted sesame seeds. You can use it for a creamy salad dressing.

Garnish: dried parsley & sesame seeds

Raw hummus should last for about a week. Enjoy on a sandwich or as one of the snacks recommended above. So easy, So delicious, So Nutritious!

Leave a comment

Filed under Cooking & Recipes

What’s In Season?

South Berkeley Farmer's Market

Visiting a local farmers market is the best way to find out what is in season. Second to growing your own food, buying local and seasonal is the most sustainable way to consume food. During the transition from winter to spring people often get sick because they have weaker immune systems. Interestingly enough, it is during this time that nature provides us with citrus fruits which support the immune system through their high levels of Vitamin C. Enough about the transition period, spring is here.. finally! I am not used to having distinct seasons considering that I have lived in Southern California for most of my life. Thus, transitioning from winter to spring has been a beautiful growing experience in Northern California.

Here are some fruits and veggies that I have been scoping out at the local farmers market the past couple of weeks:

What’s In Season?!                                 

Nutrient Content

Health Benefits

Asparagus

Vitamin A, B(s), C, K, folate, iron, fiber

Anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, digestive support

Avocados

Omega-3 fatty acids, protein, Vitamins C and E, selenium, zinc, phytosterols and carotenoids

Heart health, anti-inflammatory, eye health, immune support

Oranges

Vitamin A, B1, C, fiber, folate, calcium, potassium

Antioxidant, lower cholesterol, prevents colds

Snap Peas

Vitamin A,B1,C, K, manganese, fiber, folate

Antioxidant, anti-inflammatory

Strawberries

Vitamin C, K, fiber, manganese

50th best antioxidant source of all foods

Oranges

Oranges: Use as a snack, juice, in a salad or marinade

Remember that fruits (some more than others) have much higher sugar contents than vegetables. Push the veggies more while continuing to incorporate fruit in your daily diet.

Snap Peas

Snap Peas Great as a snack- alone or dip in hummus

Harvest of the Month is another great resource to find out what is in season.

http://www.harvestofthemonth.cdph.ca.gov/product-list.asp

Strawberries

Strawberries Use in a salad, as a breakfast topping or dessert topping. Delicious because it contains a high sugar content 😉

Sources:

www.naturalnews.com

World’s Healthiest Foods, www.whfoods.org

2 Comments

Filed under Nutrition