Posts Tagged ‘variety’

WOW it is cold out there. Makes you want to put on sweats, curl up under a blanket and eat something like mac ‘n cheese! Veggies are certainly not everyone’s priority this time of year. And even if they are still at the top of your list of favorite foods, they may not be for your husband or children. (At any time of year!) That’s why it can be helpful to disguise them as something else. Now, if you’ve ever been to a raw restaurant, you know that veggies can be transformed in to an endless variety of foods and you can’t even tell they are what they are. It’s amazing! For the purpose of this post, we will keep it SIMPLE.

The benefits of hiding vegetables is two-fold. Of course, you are adding the nutrients of vegetables to a dish, enough said. But also, the displacement of whatever you are substituting the vegetable for is a huge benefit too. Faking out your kids with a bowl of “chips” or “onion rings”? The real deal is so unhealthy, and you are eliminating trans fats, sodium, preservatives and a whole list of things you can’t pronounce. For instance, last night instead of empty calorie-filled white pasta, we had zucchini “noodles”. You can transform boring this…

…into delectable this! When all the tomato sauce goodness soaks in to the zucc, it is just not the same vegetable. Or any vegetable at all.

So let’s see how we can transform healthy produce in to all sorts of palate-pleasing dishes!

Juices and Smoothies: This is an easy one! Throw an apple in the juicer with a bunch of greens and it’s suddenly a sweet treat! With bananas and blueberries in a smoothie, your taste buds won’t even notice the kale.

Breakfast: Try adding pumpkin to oats or yogurt with a little cinnamon and nuts, it’s more like dessert. How about an egg scramble with a bunch of chopped up veggies? Add a little hot sauce? Mmm! Or how about a healthy zucchini muffin? No one thinks they are anything but delicious – until they hear there is zucchini inside!

Starches: There are SO many ways to substitute white flour with vegetables. Cauliflower is one of the most versatile. Depending on how finely you grind it up and when and how much you cook it, it can stand in for mashed potatoes, potato salad, rice or risotto, or breadcrumbs. Did you know you can make a delicious stuffing with cauli instead of bread? As we’ve already seen, you can make “pasta” noodles out of zucchini – most squashes and root vegetables for that matter. Spaghetti squash is a great stand-in. You can also use these same veggies, and bell peppers too, as noodles for Asian-themed dishes – add a peanut or sesame sauce. To take the pasta theme one step further, if you thinly shave root veggies they can make a fantastic ravioli too. For the last of the starches, how about using cabbage instead of a tortilla? Or even a hamburger bun – though that is less “hidden”, it at least still allows you to pick up the burger with your hands so that has to count for something!

Fried foods – I can’t tell you how easy it is to cut sweet potatoes in to the shape of french fries, toss them with a little olive and salt and pepper, throw them in the oven for a little while and suddenly you have awesome-tasting “fries”. Thinly slice any root vegetable, toss them with the same ingredients and bake them in to crispy chips! Your kids or husband may cringe at the mention of kale – mine certainly does – but when you add oil, salt and a little cheese and bake them into chips they are a whole different animal. You can even make onion rings or zucchini fritters that taste freakin delicious baked in the oven.

Dips: Who doesn’t love guacamole and salsa? And what’s more, you can use veggie chips to dip! Pesto can be made with added vegetables and it is delicious – try adding bell peppers or mushrooms next time! I had a roasted red pepper dip at a restaurant the other night and it was fantastic. Ever made raita? Add some garlic and cucumber to plain yogurt, it’s to easy.

Dessert: Yes, even dessert. I guarantee you no one will notice if your chocolate pudding is made with an avocado base. Guarantee it! They may ask how you made it because it is so smooth and delicious, but not because it taste anything like avo!

Well, that’s a pretty good start. So go eat your veggies – no excuses!!

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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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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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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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Sounds deep. Trust me, that’s not where this is going. I’m just referring to the annoying phenomenon that threatens to keep me from working out. I almost always pull through and make the effort to sweat, but it’s often a fight. What I’m referring to is the journey TO the workout. If I run in the park, then it’s the walk to the park. If it’s a gym day, it’s the walk to the Equinox. It’s FIVE blocks always. Small blocks. Forget that, the park is even closer.  It’s not uphill. It’s not in the snow (yet), I’m not walking barefoot. It really shouldn’t be that bad. Let’s take a walk…

The smell of this cute  little bakery doesn’t do me any favors but… running is so much better for me than eating cake, right?! (Right.)

Alas, it’s not the distance, it’s the monotony. There I go again! Tying it all in with the variety theme. (Really need to reconsider the title of this blog.) In any case, I just can’t bear doing the SAME thing over and over too many times. There are only so many routes I can take to the same place. And yes I do purposely go to different Equinox locations just for the sake of a change of scenery. Do you ever find that doing the same boring walk is more of a roadblock to your fitness routine than the workout itself?

Behold, my reward…

Gorgeous scenery. Another reason I love my run is the oldies but goodies that pop up on my iPod. Today I heard everything from Neil Young to Lenny Kravitz to TLC to a few hippity hop pop artisits I do not care to mention. And I mentioned TLC, so… But I don’t listen to this stuff unless I’m on a run, so it’s allowed. I need a wide assortment of different types of songs, fast, slow, bubbly, brooding… a little bit of everything. Plus it’s a bit of a treat that adds a little extra joy to my workouts.

How’s this for dedication? I saw one woman running around the big loop of the park with a stroller… filled with TWINS! I could not snap a shot as I was running up an incline unfortunately. I have a very strict no stopping while running UPhill policy, only down. My husband knows. He loves it. Ha no he doesn’t. I’m surprised he runs with me. And pretends to enjoy it. Anyway… sweat out the hills, push through. If you NEED a break, at least do it on a flat or, even better, a downhill. Do you have any silly rules? (Not that mine is silly!) Try it!

I also saw a man running (again, around the BIG loop) kicking a soccer ball. That is dedication to sport! I couldn’t snap that either as I was not quite at the crest of another hill. Hmm.. I didn’t think to look back but I am now wondering how he would have been able to keep control of the ball while running downhill…

Happy working out! Go! Get it done! If I can do it so can you. x

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Good God it feels good to be back!! My elimination diet made me feel FANTASTIC, but exercise was an unfortunate casualty for the last week and a half. I won’t get in to why…

So I decided to go for a run in Central Park this evening. I didn’t bring any music because I figured I would brainstorm for my next blog post. I wrote the entire thing, my brain was on fire! Well, “wrote” in my head, of course. Oh the witty comments! And the brilliant content, wow! Where did it go now that I’m sitting at the computer??

Anyway… It’s not entirely well-lit, so I stuck with the small (more populated) loop and just did an extra lap. That reminds me, there are a couple of drawbacks to night running. The pros absolutely outweigh them, though. For one thing, there was a good couple minutes where I actually had no idea where in the park I was! I suppose that may have just been because I was on auto-pilot while “writing” this blog, who knows. But the other unfortunate thing that was definitely due to poor lighting was the several minutes I spent wondering why the smell of horse poop seemed to follow me, no matter where I went. Hmph. Well I’ve probably put more than enough miles on these shoes anyway…

Note: in the interest of making this blog more visually appealing I wanted to try to add more photos, but I can barely take a decent photo while standing still (actually, not really) so there was certainly no hope for me taking my own photo while on the run! Alas, I must give credit where credit is due.

I am so glad I did it!! I highly encourage running at night – provided you can do it safely. It is such an easy way to add variety to your workouts! You can do the same run you usually do and yet it feels different. Varying the direction and even location of your workouts is a great idea too. In fact, given how much I go on and on about variety and its benefits I almost want to make that the theme of this entire blog. Really, when is variety not a good thing? With nutrition, it helps you get all the nutrients you need from all sorts of different (healthy) foods. When it comes to exercise, you will most definitely see better results if you change up your routine! Swim one day, bike the next, run the next, try a new class the next… you get the idea. You want to challenge your body and work different muscles, right? With travel… who wants to go to the same place all the time? No, you want to explore the world! And on goes the list. OK I guess I can think of one area where my husband might discourage variety, but… if you really think about it, you want to try all sorts of different people out before you settle in to something permanent! See?? It still applies!

So that’s my message for you today. And now on to my healthy, easy and hopefully delicious dinner idea. Asian-inspired chicken and veggies over soba. Only without the soba, ha! Quinoa was a tasty stand-in luckily, as that’s what we had in the cupboard. A side plate of roasted Japanese sweet potatoes made for a DE-LISH addition.

How easy is this? 1. I chopped up some cucumber, red bell pepper, green onion, poached chicken and cashews. 2. Mixed up a pinch of this and a pinch of that with no measuring equipment at all whatsoever. Sesame oil, tamari, chili garlic sauce, fresh ginger and… nothing, that’s it! 3. Finally I mixed it all up and threw it over the quinoa.

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As someone with a whole lot of digestive trouble, it’s a good thing I went in to Nutrition. Who knows if I would ever have figured out (and solved) the issue! And thankfully this has come in handy with clients, as digestion seems to be a very popular enemy these days. Go figure, with all the crummy processed food out there. Not to mention the things sold as food that really, by my definition, don’t qualify! There are soooo many things that can cause an imbalance in your system and the cause is generally a puzzle. People are plagued with these problems for years or even decades because they can’t get to the source of them. (Come see me!)

In any case, one of the most interesting things I noticed with my own experience was not something I was expecting. I’ve tended to be a creature of habit – actually not really, but I definitely have been where food is concerned! I would go through phases where I would eat the SAME EXACT thing for breakfast. EVERY day. Sometimes I would even crave it again for dinner! This can be (though is certainly not always!) a sign of a food allergy. For one reason or another your body can become addicted to something and by the time you wake up in the morning, after hopefully several hours of sleep, you are practically suffering from withdrawals! I had a pancake phase, a toast with nut butter phase… there have been a few iterations. No matter how much I told myself the night before that some healthy kale would be a welcome change, I would wake up the next morning with no power over the usual starchy craving.

In the course of my return to health, one of the things I did was temporarily give up a lot of the foods that I craved and the foods I believed were causing me problems – wouldn’t you know there was a lot of overlap! It was tough at first, but it quickly got a lot easier. And by the time my gut started to heal and things began to work properly, I realized something. I craved variety for the first time I can remember. If I had something for breakfast one morning, I would not want it again for a few days. This forced me to come up with a variety of different things to eat which, of course, provides a variety of nutrients for a healthy body. One day it would be egg whites and veggies, another veggies and nuts with yogurt and another day oats with all sorts of fun stuff thrown in. And on and on.

To bring a long story to an overdue conclusion… this is the way it’s supposed to be! You need to eat a VARIETY of foods at every meal. Try not to eat the same thing twice within a 4-5 period. Whatever makes you include veggies, go for it, I am not going to complain – but if you can, try to eat different ones each day and throughout each day. And if you are craving the same thing day in and day out, well… you might want to think about why!

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