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Archive for November, 2010

Bored of Water?

It’s soooo dark out! I’m very glad I got my run in the park done earlier this morning. It’s dark, it’s wet, it’s cold. Come to think of it, when have I ever regretted getting my run out of the way early in the day? Never? Hmm yes I think that’s right. Just a little hint.

So how much water are you drinking these days? I notice that when it gets colder, it’s less automatic for me. I have to think about it. And I do think about, and do it, it because it’s important. I know some people have trouble drinking enough H2O because they get bored of it. But there are so many ways to spice it up a little! I keep my fridge stocked with a good selection of healthy drinks.

OK so maybe there’s a little beer and champagne in the back too, but let’s focus. First of all, there’s plain ol’ flat water. I happen to love it (filtered by my Brita, of course) but many people find it boring. What about adding a little sparkle? How about iced tea? There is an endless variety of different flavors, how can that be boring? Just make sure you stick to herbal. Drinking caffeine just depletes your body of water, kind of the opposite of what we’re looking to do here. A couple of my favorites of the moment are  Choice Peppermint Herb and Tazo’s citrus-y Zen green tea as well as their Passion herbal blend. No need to add any sweetener, they are delicious as is. I keep containers of each in the fridge for easy access. You can drink pretty much any tea hot or cold, so you can change things up a little right there. And what about adding fruit to your water?

Slice up a tangerine and stick it in your glass. Or lime or lemon. Add berries. Works with both still and sparkling, of course. Sometimes a mug of hot water with a little lemon makes me feel fantastic. You can also buy drinks that are already flavored, but you have to be very careful. Not only is it a lot more expensive – and unnecessarily so, since you can just add your own flavors since you don’t want synthetic ones anyway – but most of them tend to be anything but natural. If you can find flavored waters that don’t have a list of ingredients you don’t recognize, they may be alright. But look at fruit juice for example, even when you find one with nothing but the fruit juice itself, it’s FULL of sugar. It’s best to stick to the basics. One drink that’s popping up everywhere that does make a good substitute is coconut water. Delicious!

So get your drink on! Do you have other ideas? What do you do to make sure you stay well-hydrated?

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Spring Cleaning

Ha. It’s not Spring. I wish. I wouldn’t be putting off my run because I don’t want to go out in the hideously cold weather if it was. OK, it’s not that bad, but I’m from California and always will be, my blood runs warmer, it is tooooo cold for me. I did do some Spring cleaning today, though.

I love my neighborhood. Love it! There are so many fantastic grocery stores near me – Whole Foods, Fairway, Citarella, Zabar’s, Trader Joe’s, Gourmet Garage… I could go on. A big, gorgeous farmer’s market every Sunday. Great restaurants, GREAT shopping for clothes and shoes, easy subway access. It’s the best. But what we get in location we make up for in kitchen size, unfortunately. Nonetheless, I try to keep our kitchen stocked with healthy items. If we head out to dinner at one of our local spots, it is because we really really want to, not because there was nothing to make a meal out of. Not having your cabinets well-stocked is a sure fire way to add a few pounds. But having all the ammunition is only half the battle, isn’t it. You have to actually be able to find everything.

In our Manhattan apartment this is not always the case. Every so often I have to go through and add a little order to the mayhem. Would you be able to make something out of this mess? Would this keep you from calling for delivery? Takeout anyone?

Why yes, I do think we have enough almonds, thank you for asking.

Oh yes the fridge counts too. What good are leafy greens to you if they are hiding?

This little place can turn out some healthy and delicious masterpieces. It just needs a little makeover. Well, a pretty severe makeover, but at least all the ingredients are there. With a little effort…

Ahhhh so much better. Now I know where everything is. I hope you keep the material handy to make healthy meals – a colorful spread of veggies, grains of all sorts, etc. (If you don’t know the makings of a healthy meal, let’s talk!) Make sure you keep it all organised so you can find everything. It is so disheartening to buy a rainbow of vegetables and then later find them rotten in the back of the fridge because you forgot they were there. Don’t grab the nutrient-less white pasta when you could make the same meal with soba or quinoa for example. There are so many substitutions for your store-bought ice cream and candy cravings, and they are easy and quick to make! Don’t let yourself reach for the former just because it’s easier. If you keep the good stuff handy, it becomes just as easy an option.

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Heck yeah! And it was good, too. Well, first I am so excited to tell you about the feast I made for my guests last night. Because it might have been my proudest moment in cooking to date, and yet I didn’t cook anything! Here’s a sneak preview:

Thank you Kath! Recipe: http://www.katheats.com.

The star of the show… raw lasagna!

Recipe from Pure Food and Wine

So. Good. My meat-eating guests were thrilled with this entirely uncooked, entirely vegan dish. It was filling too! No one was left hungry, yet everyone somehow found room for dessert. To add to the coconut-based ice cream I’d bought, I had made a mint-flavored chocolate syrup – reasonably un-horrible for you, just a little maple syrup in there. Which leads me to this morning…

When you have perfectly healthy pecan cookies that you made yourself and know full-well they are filled with nutritious goodness, it doesn’t matter how good they taste, it IS possible they are healthy. If you top them off with plain organic raw yogurt? Delicious! Now, if you happen to have leftover homemade mint chocolate syrup in the fridge that needs to be used up before you leave town for Thanksgiving… what are you to do? Of course, you have to eat it for breakfast. (It could be argued the leftover salad and lasagna needed to be used up but I was saving them for lunch.) Chocolate is good for you! It truly is. Provided you haven’t added a bunch of horrible things to it (which is why most store-bought chocolate items, and many homemade ones, are NOT healthy) it has a well-deserved place in a healthy diet.

That said, there is a down-side to this ridiculously good news. I finished my breakfast with a huge smile on my face, oh yes, but the rest of the day I have had an insatiable sweet tooth. What you eat for breakfast really does set you up for the rest of the day. This is why I’m all about adding vegetables whenever possible, lightening up on all the starchy breakfast goodness and varying what I eat each morning. Fortunately, there are perfectly good ways to escape a sweet tooth without overindulging. After lunch I fought the candy-holic monster inside me and pulled out some peppermint tea and that was that. In fact, the one I had on hand smelled like dessert, it was really satisfying actually! Try it out next time you crave a minty sweet.

One final note… Have a Happy Thanksgiving!! Don’t forget to take a moment to be thankful for everyone in your life that makes it fantastic and for your good health. And try not to go overboard on the feasting, but please, don’t be stressed out or fanatic about how many calories or how much sugar or fat cross your lips. The day is meant for relaxing and appreciating your family and friends. Stress does more harm than a little bit of pumpkin pie. xx

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Such a productive day! But, well, who wouldn’t be when hopped on enough caffeine to make a horse jittery? Particularly someone who doesn’t ever drink such evil things. I had time between appointments today and I was nowhere near home, so I sat at Starbuck’s and got a little work done in the mean time. (Thank you WiFi!) Not only did I order decaf, but I re-confirmed with the #@$! guy who made it when he handed it to me. “Yeah, it’s totally decaf. I know I didn’t say that when I called it out and that’s because I forgot to make it decaf but I’m going to tell you that it’s decaf anyway.” Seriously. You can get away with it the other way around. Maybe. But you can’t give someone (like me) caffeinated coffee and tell them it’s not and think they are not going to notice!

Today I met with a classmate I had never met before over lunch at Chopt. I had a fantastic salad full of veggies and nuts and, well, anything that would fit. On the downside, that place is so chaotic I think it might have risen my blood pressure enough to counteract the healthy benefits of said salad. I tried to capture this on film but… this does NOT come close.

Looks downright relaxing. Because you can’t see that people are stepping on each other to get to each station and you can’t see the people in the huge line just inside the door. Seriously, though… I think Chopt is a great, healthy option, provided you make wise decisions. A salad is not healthy just for the sake of being a salad. If you stick fried onions (yes, it’s on the menu) in there, that might not be keeping things light. Or heavy dressing. You get my drift.

The lunch was great. I met a fantastic new friend and potentially a new business partner if our plans come to fruition! Next on the list (after “the place that shall not be named“) was the Continuum  Center for Health and Healing. Look at the hip entrance:

Great experience! I am thinking of switching here from my mainstream primary care physician. She is great but this place is my kind of place. My mentors, people who have taught me at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, my inspirations if you will, whatever you want to call them – the likes of Andrew Weill, Mark Hyman – are the same mentors my doctor shares. It was great to be on the same page with the testing he wanted to do. No drugs were prescribed. We talked about herbal remedies, relaxation, nutrition AND more traditional treatment plans. They do it all and I love being in the hands of someone who wants to look at things holistically. I would (do!) recommend this place!

Time for bed. I’ve made my chia seeds for the morning. I haven’t had them for a while, but my new favorite cookbook inspired me.

Who knew something so UNdelicious-looking could be so tasty. I mean obviously, by the hideous looks of them, they’re healthy. (They really are.) But they are so good too. Try them! Mix them with some milk (I used almond), a TINY bit of agave and an even smaller amount of vanilla, add a little raw cacao – because who says you can’t have chocolate for breakfast!?

Make them tonight so they are ready in the morning… and then get to sleep!

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Insanity!

What has happened to my tolerance suddenly! Friday night I had less than a glass and a half of red wine and got home at a very reasonable hour. What happened when I crossed through my front door? Almost immediately fell asleep on the couch (sitting next to my much younger husband who also fell asleep, so I didn’t feel too bad… however if I drank only 1.5 glasses you can imagine he had to make up for the rest). Last night I think I had almost TWO whole glasses of wine, however several glasses of sparkling water among them. Home by 11 pm and guess what I did as soon as I got home AGAIN?! Yep. Repeat. Someone diagnose me! (Without depressing me, please.)

A quick note about last night… We went to an engagement party at a BBQ restaurant! They had rented out the downstairs room which was just the right size. An endless stream of sinful foods such as BBQ chicken, macaroni and cheese and pulled pork sliders were passed around all night. I ate a healthy snack before and after (healthy tip!) and drank lots of sparkling water with lime so I didn’t drink as much alcohol (another healthy tip!), I so was able to resist for the most part. The room had it’s own full bar and there was a live band. But not just any live band! This band was there as backup to the endless stream of karaoke-singing guests!! The happy couple included…

Today started on a thought-provoking note. I joined my friend for a performance at the 92nd Street Y. Now may I just take a moment to say that I need to go there more often! I always forget about it but they have the best, most interesting lectures. I snapped a photo of the poorly lit calendar of upcoming events to remind myself.

Billy Joe Armstrong from Green Day? Phillip Seymour Hoffman? Steve Martin?! Last time I visited I saw a presentation by Andrew Weill, one of my favorite geniuses of the Nutrition world.

This time we saw Dr. Richard Kogan, a concert pianist AND a psychiatrist. He was stunningly good – and it’s not even his day job! He lectured about the life of renowned composer and pianist Robert Schumann and played pieces of his music interspersed throughout the lecture. He talked about the fine line between madness and genius, as Schumann was bipolar. (You can hear it in the music he wrote!) It seems like such a large number of the most talented artists throughout history were technically insane, or at least very tortured. Does their mental anguish drive their talent? Would they be as talented if they were able to get the proper treatment? Do they at times welcome the insanity so they can use it to create the masterpieces that make them famous? Then I, of course, tried to relate this in some way to Nutrition as I (am I sick??) always do. Do people who are overweight sabotage their treatment because the extra weight serves them in some way? We know underweight people do. Fascinating.

I highly recommend checking this place out – after all, aren’t we always wanting to find things to do with friends that DON’T involve eating and drinking? OK well at least sometimes??

The next adventure of the day was hitting the gym and trying out the workout entitled “Spartacus” from one of my favorite books, Women’s Health Big Book of Exercises. Another thing I highly recommend! Whether you commit to one of their workouts in its entirety or simply take the book along with you to the gym and try out different moves, it is such a great tool to add some variety to your workout. (I know, I know, it seems like such a contradiction that I could drive you to boredom, talking constantly about variety, right? Every post!) We did the Spartacus workout. Painful. And fantastic. Tell me, honestly, does ANYONE love doing this?

Or this?

Well, try doing those and many other moves, many many times over. Really, do! And let me know how it goes…

Happy weekend!

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Well, not so much in that order. Since I bought Sarma’s Living Raw Food yesterday, it was burning a hole in my kitchen. It was getting late so I picked something easy to make, just to give it a try. Who knew you could make chocolate pudding with an avocado?! Well, OK maybe we all knew it was possible, but did you know it tastes GOOD? Better than good? Here, I’ll prove it… this is what happened to mine in about 10 seconds flat. (Which is just SLIGHTLY more than the amount of time it took to make this easy-as-pie creation.)

My question to you is… WHO needs BUTTER?! Don’t answer that. Let me live in my fantasy world.

This morning started E-A-R-L-Y. A friend of mine who is dead set on making workouts a regular, consistent habit asked me to join her at the gym. Now I am never one to turn down that offer! Turns out the only time she could fit it in to her day was 5:30 am. Lovely. And I live about a half hour away. What must be done must be done, right? Right. Being the motivation that gets someone to make a healthy choice is my game. That is what makes me warm and fuzzy inside. So I left in the darkness on my mission. I did not, however, have the wherewithall at that hour to take a photo of the gym to prove it. Upon leaving I had more brainpower:

See?? I went! (Can you hear the silent undertone: “So can you!”) What a gorgeous morning. As I headed to the subway they were starting to set up the most amazing farmer’s market in NYC that is the Union Square Farmer’s Market…

…in all its glory.

Now one more thing before I let you go. Of the many MANY benefits I got out of working out so incredibly early in the morning, one was quite unexpected. By the time we’d finished our workout and showered it was 7 or 7:30 am. It felt like I’d been up for ages already! It felt like lunchtime! So when we went to the juice bar to grab a little green juice (oh how I LOVE starting the day that way!!!) I couldn’t take my eyes off the salad bar. And thus was my breakfast. A giant mixture of greens and other assorted veggies and nuts. OK and a little feta. Long gone are the days of waking up and craving a starchy – sorry, the SAME starchy breakie every day.

Try it!

 

 

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Oh no you didn’t! Oooooohhh yes I DID! I bought it.

The ultimate raw vegan cookbook. I know, it’s one thing to eat the AMAZING “I can’t believe it’s not cooked and/or horrible for you” food at the restaurant Pure Food and Wine, and an ENTIRELY different thing altogether to try making it yourself. That’s why it’s a challenge! Who’s with me? How many raw vegan meals can you make a week?

I hope to be posting the results of my efforts as well as helpful information from the book and about the benefits of raw food in general. I’m not saying you need to eat all raw all vegan all the time, but adding it in to your diet is SO. GOOD. FOR. YOU.

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