I love experimenting with new produce. We recently signed up for Farm Fresh to You, which is a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) that delivers farm fresh produce to your house on a regular schedule. We receive a box every other week, and I always get excited when something shows up that I've never had before.
CSAs are a great way to support local agriculture and try new, fresh produce you might not regularly buy. Depending on where you live, you may find (like we did) that buying your produce this way is cheaper than a weekly grocery store trip.
Last week there was a bunch of Swiss chard in my box. If you're like me and have never had Swish chard, it's the dark leafy vegetable with the colorful stem in the grocery store. The stems can be any number of colors, red, yellow, white, orange (and of course each color means different phytonutrients). It typically has a bitter taste when raw, but that goes away when it's cooked.
Once I pulled the bunch of chard out I searched for a recipe to use it in. I settled on this one from Chowhound, but altered it a little based on what I had available (like the current tragic lack of feta cheese in my kitchen). Lentils take a little while to cook, but the rest of the recipe comes together pretty quickly.
1 cup lentils
2 cups water
1 bunch Swish chard, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Pour water and lentils into a sauce pot and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and let simmer until water is evaporated.
Chop leaves and stems of Swish chard, then sauté with garlic until the leaves are wilted and the stems are tender. Remove from heat and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. When lentils are done mix Swish chard with lentils and serve.
There's so much talk about healthy eating in our society that it may be hard to believe that you can be "too healthy." However, a growing number of nutrition and health experts (me included), have seen a concerning trend emerging. There are some people who are so concerned about eating "healthy" or the "right" things that the focus on their diet begins to affect other aspects of their lives.
The term "orthorexia" was coined in the 1990s by a doctor trying to describe an obsession with healthy eating that he was seeing with some of his clients. Orthorexia is not an eating disorder, and it is not a clinical term or a medical diagnosis, but it is a type of disordered eating.
We all want to improve our health by eating well, but people struggling with orthorexia take it to the extreme. They often have a long list of "bad" foods and/or ingredients that they won't allow themselves to have. They may avoid social situations where it would be difficult for them to eat "healthy." Much of their time may be spent planning or thinking about food and their meals. Orthorexia tends to be very individualized, there's no one diet people suffering from it follow.
Unfortunately our society's love of fad diets and weight loss "secrets" creates a dangerous environment where disordered and restrictive eating patterns flourish. When diets are restrictive the risk for nutrient deficiency is much higher. When you only eat a handful of foods, it's very difficult to get all the nutrients your body needs to thrive.
I often talk about healthy eating as an art form, because I believe it looks different for everyone. However, one thing all healthy diets have in common is variety and balance. Eating should be a joyful experience, it should never cause you anxiety or feelings of guilt. We eat to fuel our bodies in order to live the lives we want. We shouldn't be spending hours thinking and worrying about the food we consume.
In the media I see so many "studies" and fad diets that seem to push us toward a very restrictive diet. Even with myself I occasionally notice thoughts that, if focused on, could eventually lead me down the path of disordered eating. As a society, I think it's important for us to start focusing on healing our relationship with food. If you ever have a question or concern about what foods are "good" or "bad" try to ignore the noise of fad diets and go right to an expert (a Registered Dietitian).
If you, or someone you know, are suffering from an eating disorder help is available. Reach out to the National Eating Disorder Association at 1-800-831-2237.
If you've been following this blog for any length of time, you might have noticed that I love breakfast. Some might call it an unhealthy obsession, but is there really such thing when it comes to breakfast foods?
They're just so versatile and delicious!
But despite my strong feelings for breakfast and the foods it showcases, there are some mornings that I don't have time for much more than grabbing my coffee and a granola bar as I rush out the door.
That's why I'm a huge fan of make ahead breakfast ideas.
Last weekend I was feeling the desire to make something new for breakfast. I'd recently been given a large number of apples (we're talking at least 8-10 apples in my fruit drawer) that needed to be consumed in the next week, and what goes better with apples than oatmeal and cinnamon?
So the Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Bake was born!
This was relatively quick to throw together, but I don't peel apples before I cook them. Partly out of laziness, but also because there are nutrients in the skin that aren't in the flesh of the apple.
The bake makes about 12 servings, with each serving providing about 300 calories, 6 g of fiber, 8 g of protein, and 14 g of fat (almost all unsaturated). Meaning a serving will keep you full for a while! It was delicious straight out of the oven, but it also kept well. Throughout the week I would put a serving in a mason jar the night before and then microwave it (sans lid) for about 2 minutes before leaving for work in the morning.
Note: I used pecans and walnuts because I didn't have enough pecans. You can use both, only one, or the nut of your choice.
Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Bake
3 medium apples, chopped into about 1/2" cubes
1/2 cup dried cranberries
4 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
5 cups low fat milk
2 Tbsp canola oil
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
2 Tbsp dark brown sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9" x 13" casserole dish with non-stick spray. Mix apples, cranberries, oats, milk, oil, and cinnamon together until well mixed. Pour into casserole dish. Bake for 40 minutes, until liquid is absorbed.
Once it starts baking mix the chopped nuts with the brown sugar. Sprinkle the topping over the oatmeal bake at about the 30 minute mark.
Life can get pretty crazy sometimes. It seems one of the first things to be sacrificed when life gets busy is taking care of ourselves. We tell ourselves all kinds of excuses - "I don't have time;" "It's too much work;" "I'm too tired;" "I'm too busy." One thing we all have in common as humans is that we're all great at rationalizing our choices.
When I find myself starting that kind of excuse cycle I like to sit down and do a time audit. (Yep, it happens to me too! It might surprise you to know that wellness experts are often fighting battles similar to your own.)
I take a piece of paper and I write down what activities I'm doing in a typical work day and how much time I'm spending on them. Generally there are some places I "find" the time I didn't have.
I use a typical work day, and for things that I don't necessarily do every day, or for the same length of time every day, (for example - exercise) I add up the total time spent on it in a week and divide by 5. (We're only counting workdays/weekdays here, people. Your weekend should be yours to do what you want with).
Be honest with your numbers; if you fudge something because you feel embarrassed or guilty about it the exercise won't be effective (and you're only hurting yourself in the end).
Hint: Your total should be 24. ;-)
Between TV and browsing on my phone/computer (screen time) that's 3 hours I could be using for other things.
Now, there's absolutely nothing wrong with relaxing by watching a TV show or movie, or browsing Facebook. But doing so 3 hours every day is probably unnecessary.
I also think it's helpful to think about what TV shows/movies you're watching, are they ones that interest you? Or did you just turn the TV on and space out? (I'm definitely guilty of that second one.)
I was introduced to this method by creative career coach Dallas Travers, who was inspired by Robert Palignari's book "The Other 8 Hours." One of my favorite things about this is Dallas refers to it as "time mastery." She explains it as there's nothing to "manage" we're all gifted with the same 24 hours each day. It's about mastering that time and using it effectively.
I'd love to hear from you once you've done your time audit! How much time did you "find"? What do you plan to use it for?
If you plan to use it for some healthy meal prep, here's a recipe that will only take you 30 minutes! The key is to be prepping multiple things at once.
For example: I started the oven preheating and quinoa boiling while I prepped the Brussels sprouts. Once the oven was ready, the sprouts went in and I started prepping the kale. Once the kale was prepped it went into the skillet and the fish went into the oven. While the fish and kale were cooking I mixed together the honey mustard sauce. Once the kale was done I mixed it in with the cooked quinoa. By that time both the fish and Brussels sprouts were ready. I pulled both from the oven and plated everything, topping the fish with the sauce. Viola!
1 cup Brussels sprouts, halved
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place Brussels sprouts in a casserole dish and drizzle canola oil over them. Add garlic and mix to make sure all the sprouts are coated with oil. Cook for about 20 minutes, until sprouts are tender. Once they're done, pull the dish out and drizzle the sprouts with balsamic vinegar before serving.
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
5 kale leaves, chopped
In a saucepan, bring quinoa and water to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Simmer until water is evaporated (about 10-15 minutes). In a separate skillet sauté the kale until wilted. Once quinoa is finished, mix kale in.
2 3-4 oz salmon filets
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
Cook fish in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes (depending on your oven and whether you're cooking from fresh or frozen). While the fish is cooking, whisk together the mustard and honey. Spoon the sauce over the fish when you serve.
The beginning of April means we're officially 1/3 of the way through the year! So it's time to check in with yourself on your goals. Are you where you thought you would be on your journey to living a more healthy life?
Maybe you're farther along than you thought you would be. Or not quite where you were hoping.
Wherever you are, you're in exactly the place you're supposed to be.
No matter where you find yourself in this journey, the question now is: how do you move forward from here?
Which is the whole point of this post!
This Sunday April 3rd I will be offering free one-on-one 15 minute phone consultations from 2pm (PT) - 5pm (PT).
So if you or someone you know has a burning question, or maybe could just use a little guidance, email me now to grab your spot!
Taryn is a Los Angeles based Registered Dietitian who's passionate about helping you be your healthiest you.