When you hear the word food, what do you think of?
- A slice of pie from your favorite pizza joint?
- Junior mints while watching the latest thriller in the theaters?
- Mom’s mac and cheese?
- Heartburn and indigestion?
- A succulent cherry tomato from your garden?
- Grilled fish that you just caught with your fishing buds earlier that day?
- Weight gain?
This past weekend I had the pleasure working with a new group of youth – WILL (Wilderness Leadership & Learning). WILL is a highly interactive 12-month, experiential-learning, youth-leadership, and life-skill-development program based out of Columbia Heights in Washington DC. On Saturday, we explored our relationship with food through journaling and discussion and it turned out to be an interesting and event enlightening activity for these teenagers.
I asked the students to journal about their relationship with food through words and illustrations. I asked them to consider the following:
Do particular foods come to mind? Events? People? Positive or negative feelings? Or maybe a little bit of both?
We had a variety of responses from Chipotle to Grandma’s oatmeal to chemicals to the food distribution system to hunger. You see, although there is overlap, all of us have a different experience with food. As I explained to the students, eating is the most intimate act we do with ourselves each and every day. It’s also one of the most important things we do each day, as our relationship with food will determine the future of both our mental and physical health.
Eating is not just an act of nourishment. It’s also an act of social justice and environmental stewardship. When we eat, we make a choice about what type of agriculture/land practices and farm worker conditions we support. We get to decide which if we want to support the family farms in our community or one in Chile.
Eating is social and spiritual. I spoke with the teenagers about the experience of eating and the people with whom we love to break bread. We also talked about fasting as a spiritual practice. Many of us have rituals that connect us to our food and ourselves.
For me, my relationship with food appears so simple and mind boggling, all at the same time. I’ve been exploring my relationship with food for a long time and have been involved in almost all sectors of the food system, from seed to plate. I’m amazed at how a simple thing like food can wreak so much havoc on the health of our environment and communities in one situation and then completely heal so many people, both physically and emotionally, in another context.
So I ask you, what is your relationship with food?
I apologize for the delay in getting out this recipe, Folks! Awhile back, I posted a pic on Instagram and Facebook and had a few requests for the recipe. This is one of those salad where I open up the fridge and take a peek in the garden to see what I have and then make something up. Sometimes I nail it. Other times, not so much. Just ask Joe. 🙂 Having said that, I really enjoyed this lentil salad! The lentils provide a great source of protein while the herbs and Gone Greens collard green chile paste add a little kick. You can serve this as is or on a bed of greens. Let me know if you try it or some variation.
What you put in your mouth can show up on your face and other epidermal areas of your body. Having said that, it’s important to load up on whole foods and water and skip the sugar and refined flours which can attach to collagen and elastin in your skin and accelerate aging. In addition, poor food choices often cause digestive issues which will manifest as skin conditions such as acne, dry skin, rosacea and eczema. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, clean protein, water and essential fatty acids can go a long way towards maintaining healthy, youthful skin.
Dark Leafy Greens. Kale, arugula, collard greens, spinach, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and other members of this family are good sources of minerals which help to carry water to the cells and are involved in many reactions in the body including maintaining collagen levels. They are rich in beta carotene and vitamin E which protect the skin from sun damage. Greens also contain folate which helps maintain and repair DNA and zinc which promotes collagen production.
Berries. Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries contain numerous antioxidants which protect the skin cells from sun damage and even cancer. A skin superfood, berries are also rich in vitamin C which is a natural wrinkle fighter, anti-aging compound and skin tightener.
Carrots and Sweet Potatoes. These orange wonders are a great source of beta-carotene, a vitamin A precursor that slows skin cancer development and the overproduction of cells which can clog pores and create blemishes. Carrots and sweet potatoes are also a good source of vitamin C which stimulates collagen production in addition to all of those other wonderful things previously mentioned!
Pumpkin Seeds. These tasty winter squash progeny are a good source of zinc and selenium which maintain collagen levels and skin elasticity. Zinc helps create proper protein structures including cell membranes and has been known to reduce acne. Selenium and zinc also protect the skin from UV rays. Along with other nuts and seeds (flax seeds and walnuts are highest omega-3 source), pumpkin seeds contain essential fatty acids which hydrate the skin, quell inflammation and maintain skin cell structure and integrity.
Coconut Oil. High in lauric acid and capric acid which are antimicrobials that boost the immune system, coconut oil is great for skin health whether used topically or internally. It’s rich in vitamin E which is a natural skin moisturizer, anti-inflammatory agent, UV protectant and free radical fighter. Plus coconut oil is a friendly fat that helps the body absorb skin healthy, fat soluble vitamins such as vitamins A and E.
What other foods do you consume to keep your skin looking young and radiant? Or, have you noticed any negative affects from certain foods (i.e. sugar, dairy, vegetable oils)? Please feel free to share your experience below.
Welcome to Cultivating Health! If you haven’t done so already, sign up for Juicy News, my monthly e-newsletter that gives you practical health and nutrition tips that will have a profound impact on your health and happiness if you’re ready for change. Juicy News topics include:
- menu planning
- digestive issues
- hormonal imbalances
- adrenal fatigue & stress
- cravings (especially sugar cravings)
- playful eating
- work-life balance
Of course, there is always a delicious, seasonal recipe in there, too!
In addition to juicy health tid bits, you will receive invitations to special events including nutrition playshops, cooking demos and classes and PLAY events.
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Here’s to cultivating YOUR health!
For some, this beautiful time of year can be a nightmare. Trees, flowers and grasses are in full bloom, but so are the sinuses and even asthma for many folks. Most allergy sufferers reach for their favorite prescription medication, when in many cases allergy symptoms could be reduced significantly or altogether through a few dietary changes.
Let’s backup for just a minute. During the winter months, our bodies become depleted, congested and even inflamed. The adrenal glands become fatigued and can’t quell the inflammation. Healthy adrenals act as a natural steroid to reduce inflammation and allergic reactions in the body. Furthermore, the liver is so congested that it can’t process toxins efficiently and they build up in our body. As a result, our immune systems tend to react more to the environment than normal and produce excess histamines that the body can’t keep up with for long without experiencing symptoms. Spring allergies are a perfect example of this.
This is one of the reasons why detoxification is so important this time of year. I have had clients forget they even had spring allergies while detoxing. The moment they eat those trigger foods after the detox, allergy symptoms came back with a vengeance. For more information about detoxification, please check out this post.
If you have spring allergies, I recommend you stick to a whole foods diet full of fruits and vegetables. Cut processed foods out and avoid or significantly reduce the following:
- flour and products made with flour
- coffee and black tea
If you still don’t find relief, you may need to consider a low-histamine diet for a period of time during the height of the allergy season. You will need to avoid the following:
- Meat, especially processed, cured, smoked and fermented meats
- Fish (unless the fish is freshly caught, gutted and cooked within a 1/2 hour of eating)
- Eggs (a small quantity used as binder for a dish is okay)
- Fermented milk products such as cheese, yogurt, buttermilk, kefir
- Citrus fruits
- Fruits such as apricots, cherries, cranberries, currants, dates, grapes, pineapples, prunes, raisins, strawberries
- Tomatoes and tomato products such as ketchup
- Red Beans
- Soy and soy products
- Pickles, relishes and other vinegar containing foods
- Food additives
- Food preservatives such as benzoates and sulphites
- Spices such as anise, cinnamon, cloves, chili powder, curry powder and nutmeg
- Fermented foods (such as soy sauce, sauerkraut and miso)
Experiment with these suggestions and see if your symptoms improve this allergy season!
In addition, I have found the following supplements to be helpful for spring allergy suffers:
- nettles (a combination of capsule, tincture and tea can be very helpful)
- vitamin C
- B complex
- licorice root (be careful – if overused can increase blood pressure)
- local honey
I personally take Design for Health’s Quercetin & Nettles formula. If you’re interested in trying it, shoot me an email and I’ll send you my ordering code.
The trick with these supplements is that you need to start taking them about a month before allergy season kicks in so they have time to build up in your system. In addition to foods and supplements, it’s important to get the body moving daily to process those allergens and other toxins! Also, I recommend rinsing your nasal passages with a neti pot regularly.
Have you identified any foods that trigger your spring allergies? Are there any natural remedies that you have used to soothe your allergies that you would like to share? Please feel free to comment below.
Feeling bloated, heavy and fatigued? There are a variety of uncomfortable and annoying symptoms related to toxic buildup. Detoxing is your answer to feeling more energy, clarity and even to kick start weight loss!
In this teleclass series, you will get the tools needed to incorporate a gentle, yet effective cleansing program into your spring cleaning routine, and detox your mind and body with the help of an experienced Certified Health Coach and Nutritional Consultant.
During this four week program, you will spend one week easing into and planning for the detox, two weeks detoxing and exploring play and other forms of self-nourishment and one week re-introducing foods and preparing the body for a healthy new routine. This is a great way to renew and rejuvenate your body and spirit! Learn more about detoxification and it’s benefits in this recording.
This teleseries includes the Cultivating Health Cleanse Playbook which includes:
- Detox strategies
- Sample Menu Plans
- Detox Supply List (food and self care items)
- Supplement Recommendations
- Strategies to Enhance Your Body’s Detox Power
- Detox Resources
For an additional $100, sign up for a 1.5 hour nutrition consultation to personalize your detox experience and hone in on your unique health and nutrition needs. The consultation includes a Holistic Health Plan outlining food, supplement and lifestyle recommendations to empower you to improve your health and happiness!
Dates: Mondays, March 24 – April 14
Location: Your couch!
Investment: $90 or $190 with personalized nutrition consultation
Register by: March 21
Feel free to post your questions below. For a list of all of my upcoming events, please visit the playshop page.
When I facilitate detox programs for my clients, I put them on a two to three week whole foods program with a week on either end for transitioning in and out of the detox. Frankly, the detox protocol I use is a lifestyle, and folks can remain on it as long as they would like. Some chose to stay on it well beyond the detox or take on a modified version because they feel so great on it and it facilitates quick, yet healthy weight loss! There is absolutely no reason why one can’t stay on a food plan that involves lots of steamed veggies, veggie juices, gluten-free whole grains, good fats like butter, ghee, olive oil and coconut oil and quality proteins (i.e. legumes and clean sources of animal foods) while avoiding the Sensitive Seven.
For those of you not familiar with the Sensitive Seven, they are common foods people have allergies or intolerances to including corn, dairy, gluten, eggs, peanuts, soy and sugar. Bottom line: this is a great way to figure out how and what to eat for one’s unique body type in a fashion that’s healthy and sustainable.
Having said that, one thing that gets a little old for some on this program after week one, is the steamed veggies. They are delicious drizzled with olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt and pepper, but sometimes you’re craving something with a little more punch. So I provide my detox clients with lots of recipes to “dress up” their veggies. I mean, the flavor of steamed veggies is awesome and there are some fabulous combinations, but why not experiment with some tasty, healthy ways to accentuate their awesomeness? My favorite sauces include bitter greens like arugula and detoxifying herbs such as cilantro. Not only are they delicious, but they enhance the detox power of steamed veggies.
I’m sharing my three favorite recipes to spice up any veggie dish. They can be accessed from my Pinterest page as well. If you don’t have time to make you’re own, there are lots of pre-made products like zaatar, harissa and pesto that are readily available at the health food store. Just be sure to check all of the ingredients to make sure they are detox friendly.
So without further ado…
Let me know what you think and please feel free to share your favorites here as well!
I get it. There are mornings when you need breakfast-to-go or afternoons when a sweet treat that isn’t full of sugar and flour would hit the spot. My yoga friend, Katy, found this awesome flour-less peanut butter banana muffin recipe from Detoxinista. They are delish and you would never know that there isn’t an ounce of flour in them.
I modified her recipe a bit, and oh was it yummy! Sometimes I find that banana is a little too sweet, so I substituted steamed and mashed sweet potatoes for the banana. Because the consistency is a little thick, I added a little almond milk to thin it out and lighten it up. I also added some freshly grated ginger, a dash of maple syrup and a few mini gluten and dairy-free chocolate chips. Pumpkin pie spice is also a wonderful addition. You can use peanut butter or almond butter in this recipe. One of the reasons why I love this recipe so much is because there are a variety of substitutions you can make to change up the flavor and texture.
They freeze well, so I make mini-muffin batches and then store them in several quart size Ziploc bags and thaw out as needed.
So without further ado…
Are there any flour-less, dairy-free, white sugar-free baked good recipes that you like? Please feel free to share a link to the recipe here.
Let’s face it. Most of us love a little sweet treat during the Holidays, but for those of us who are sensitive to flour and sugar, our options are limited. So I love to make these little balls of joy to satisfy that craving for something sweet and festive. Originally, I got the idea for this recipe in a book that my friend and colleague, Ellen Siegel, shared with me called Cosmic Cookery by Kathryn Hannaford. The beauty of these little bundles of yumminess is that the combinations are endless. They also make adorable Holiday gifts for your loved ones! Enjoy the recipe.
What are some of your favorite date truffle combinations? Feel free to post here!
Although it sounds cliché, breakfast really is the most important meal of the day and unfortunately, it’s one of the first things to slip off the radar during the busy Holiday season. Fortunately there are very simple things you can eat for breakfast that don’t require much work in the morning while you’re trying to get out of the door. These ready-to-go breakfast ideas are also great for entertaining guests over the Holidays so you can enjoy your company and not feel like you’re spending hours in the kitchen.
1. Porridge/Oatmeal: The important thing here is to soak your grains 7 to 8 hours before cooking. The soaking process neutralizes enzyme inhibitors and unlocks the nutrients in the grains so that your body can assimilate them. Consider trying a mixture of gluten-free whole grains like buckwheat, millet and amaranth. One of my favorite recipes is my Coconut Ginger Pumpkin Porridge. I used this recipe by Real Food Outlaws as a starting point and then added grated ginger and apples or raisins to the mix. I then top this warming dish with toasted pecans and coconut. Yum! You can make this the morning of or cook on low in the crockpot overnight. By the way, the pumpkin pie spice from Frontier is my go to spice this time of year for porridge and healthy baking.
2. Birchermuesli: I learned about this wonderful breakfast food in Switzerland. My husband’s family there makes this regularly. Basically, you soak oats/muesli overnight in an acidic mixture to help pre-digest the oats. In the morning you add your spices, yogurt and fresh fruit. I love this recipe because you can make it the night before and it’s about done in the morning with the exception of a few additions. Quick, easy and healthy.
3. Fritatta: My body requires substantial protein some mornings which is why I love fritattas. A fritatta is an excuse to load up on your favorite veggies. Some of my favorite ones include, arugula, mushrooms, red peppers, leeks and Swiss Chard. The combinations are endless. I encourage you to stuff your fritatta with as many dark leafy greens and veggies as possible to counteract all of the nutrient depleting foods consumed over the Holidays. Add your favorite fresh or dried herbs for a special punch. I love to include fresh dill or cilantro when I can. If you can tolerate dairy, add a little grated parmesan, cheddar, ricotta or goat cheese for extra body and flavor. Make your fritatta ahead of time and keep in the fridge so it’s ready to warm up for breakfast, lunch or dinner with a nice side salad.
4. Soup: Soup is one of my FAVORITE winter breakfasts. You can pack alot of nutrients in soup and it’s a great way to get in your bone broth. Homemade bone broths pack a lot of minerals that are missing in our diet. I don’t care what kind of soup you make, but if’s chock full of veggies and homemade stock, I’m happy as a clam. The beauty of soup is that you can make it in batches and freeze it. It’s also quite packable and portable. Just reheat and voilé! Breakfast is served anytime, anywhere.
5. Dinner: In this country, we get stuck on eating “breakfast foods” for breakfast and this is just lame. We think nothing of having an omelet or fritatta for dinner so why not wild salmon and a side of collard greens for breakfast? Leftovers for breakfast are a great way to get the day started. You may have to think outside the box a little.
The bottom line is to eat in the morning and keep your mind open about what constitutes breakfast. If you’re not a breakfast eater currently, start slow. You may try a piece of fruit with a little bit of almond butter at first until your body adjusts to having food in the morning. And if you don’t fee like breakfast when you get up because you’re up before the rooster, pack your breakfast and eat it once you get to work. Your body will thank you for it…and so will your co-workers when you’re less cranky due to proper nourishment.
I have some other breakfast ideas on Pinterest that you are welcome to check out. What are some of your favorite healthy breakfasts? Please feel free to share them here.