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?
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.
As a token of my appreciation, you will receive a free 15 minute phone consult AND my Top Kitchen Tips & Tricks to save you time and aggravation and bring the fun back into meal prep.
Here’s to cultivating YOUR health!
The Holidays are upon us and so are the sugar and refined flour laden goodies. It’s important not to deny yourself, but instead, be realistic about what you put in your mouth. Foods with sugar, flour and dairy in them are often too congesting for the mind and body. Eat too many of them and you find yourself congested or stuffy, battling a head cold, sluggish, not being able to think clearly and just plain sick. These foods are taxing to the immune system and can overload the liver, bowel and lymphatic system when ingested in excess.
If that’s not bad enough, these foods can cause the pounds to creep up on you which is never fun when you’re trying to get yourself into your favorite pair of skinny jeans.
1. Indulge on occasion. If you don’t, you just might find yourself binging on a half gallon of egg nog ice cream later which is much more taxing on the body than if you just had a bite or two of that decadent pumpkin cheesecake here and there. Balance your indulgences by making sure the rest of your meals are healthy and full of vegetables. And whatever you do, NEVER skip breakfast.
2. Dive into the healthy foods first. Let’s face it, when you’re at a party there are so many divine treats. Often we come hungry and fill up on heavy, calorie rich foods rather than kicking the party off with some crudités or lighter salads. Go for the lighter, nutrient rich foods first (provided they are available) so you want eat as much of the junky stuff.
3. Leaving grazing for the cows. Sometimes we think if we don’t grab a plate we’ll eat less. This couldn’t be further from the truth. A plate helps you gauge how much you have eaten. If you can handle it, skip the dinner plate and grab a smaller dessert plate. Start with one small plate and see how you feel. Eat slowly. Savor each decadent bite. You can always grab another if you’re still hungry, but chances are you’ll be just fine and you’ve just tricked yourself into thinking you ate a full plate of food. Ha!
4. Make a green drink before you head out the door. Green drinks are chock full of nutrients which eliminates cravings. Make a green smoothie or juice. Drinking a cup of homemade stock is another good choice. Not only are you getting some good nutrients into your system, you’re hydrating yourself as well. Try this tip before heading out to a party or shopping. You don’t want to stroll by Cinnabon on an empty stomach. It always seems like a good idea at the time… but this is a great segway into #5.
5. Slide into those skinny jeans at least once a week. I’m not a fan of the scale because it’s a number that may or may not be reflective of what’s healthy and causes us to become neurotic about our fluctuating weight. Putting on your slimmest pants a few times during the Holiday season will help you decide whether or not you’re packing on a few extra pounds. Yoga pants and leggings are comfy, but that waist band will grow right along with you!
6. Come with your own healthy dish. Bring something healthy that you love and enjoy it. If you fill up on that, you won’t reach for other temptations. Chances are other party-goers will appreciate it as well.
7. Get at least 7 hours of sleep every night. Studies have shown that people who don’t get enough rest tend to have increased appetites and eat more. Yikes. So make sure you get your butt to bed at a reasonable time and take a little cat nap before you go out if need be.
8. Watch your beverages. This is my downfall right here. Wine, oh how I love thee! I find that if I pour a half a glass, I drink less, but other folks find that if they just pour one large glass and nurse it all night they do much better. You can even try counting 1-2-3 when pouring to get about a 5 oz. serving. Bring mineral water and lime to a party…you can pour yourself a spritzer in-between glasses of wine to hydrate and slow you down. The bubbles help with setting a slower pace. I know some people that even add sparkling water to wine and enjoy it very much. Hell, some nights you may just want to skip the wine and have the non-alcoholic spritzer
9. Find a food-free space in which to mingle. If you’re standing next to the food table all night, chances are pretty high that you’re going to be tempted to try most of it if not all of it. Search out a food-free space so you’re not tempted to graze continually. If you’re hosting a party, be sure to set-up an entertaining space where there is no food. Your guests’ waistlines will appreciate it!
10. Make time to play and get your butt moving! Let’s be realistic. You’re going to eat homemade Christmas cookies and indulge in your Aunt Maud’s fabulous spinach and artichoke dip. Give those sedentary indulgences a little balance with some movement. Physical activity will help the body burn up a few extra calories this Holiday season AND it will give you the energy you need to attend to your Holiday “to do” list. Get a few extra walks in every week, take the stairs, sneak a few squats in during your walk and add a set of crunches or push-ups in-between batches of cookies.
Whatever you do, be playful about the Holidays. Enjoy them. It’s a special time to visit with family and friends so don’t restrict yourself from enjoying your favorite holiday foods with them. Feelings of deprivation are never fun and only breed a negative relationship with food.
The more mindful and playful you are with your food during the Holidays, the better off your mind and body will be. A healthy mind and body is the BEST gift you can give to yourself and others this Holiday season.
Here are a few other healthy holiday tips from past posts. Now I would like to hear from you. How do you keep the weight from creeping up during the Holidays? Share you tips below.
Those of you who know me, know that I LOVE me some sandwiches. Unfortunately, since I’ve cut waaaaaay back on my gluten intake, I rarely eat them anymore. So what’s a girl to do?
Well, on occasion if I’m really in a sandwich mood, I’ll use a gluten-free bread or brown rice wrap, but some days it doesn’t cut the mustard. So I was noodling around on the internet and discovered some amazing recipes for collard green wraps. Now, I have made lettuce wraps before, but they don’t always hold up well if you’re transporting them. So this notion of wrapping my sandwich deliciousness in a dark leafy green rocked my world. I was kicking myself for not having thought of it earlier!
Collard green wraps are a healthy way to jazz up your traditional sandwich or wrap regardless of whether or not you’re gluten-free. You can stuff them with something more conventional like a tuna, chicken or egg salad or you could fill them with your favorite veggie toppings such as red pepper, sweet potato, avocado, fresh herbs and some type of protein such as hummus, quinoa or legumes.
Here is the recipe I made with families at the Washington Youth Garden a few weeks ago:
Collard Green Wraps
Source: Inspired by Sprouted Kitchen
Servings: 4 wraps
- 4 large collard green leaves*
- 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced
- 1 cup of tender greens or micro-greens
- 2 cups of raw or roasted julienned or grated beets, peeled
- small handful of scallions, chopped
- 1 cup of radishes, sliced or julienned
- 1 cup of potatoes, boiled or roasted (red, white, sweet)*
- ½ cup of basil, marjoram or lemon thyme, chopped
- ½ cup goat cheese (optional)
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup lemon juice
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 2 TBSP tahini or cashew butter
1. Prepare the collard leaves by cutting off the stems at the base of each leaf, then, using a paring knife, carefully cut the thick bump of stem off the back of the leaf so it becomes flush to the leaf. This will make the collard flatter and easier to roll.
2. Blanch greens, by placing them in a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds. Drain and place in a bowl of ice cold water to cool. Note, you can also use the leaves raw if you don’t mind the texture.
3. Prepare the vegetables as indicated above.
4. In a small bowl, combine dressing ingredients and whisk together. Adjust ingredients to taste. Drizzle over prepared veggies and herbs.
5. Layer veggie mixture at the base of the collard green leaf. Fold the collard sides over and roll tightly like a burrito. You can serve it immediately or store in the fridge, wrapped, for about 2 days.
*Notes: For a larger wrap, use 2 leaves at a time, overlap them halfway to create a bigger wrapping surface.
Feel free to add any combination of veggies and herbs, depending on the season. In lieu of potatoes, you could also add 2 cups quinoa, millet or buckwheat, soaked for 7 hours and cooked or beans, soaked for 12 hours and cooked. If you’re in a hurry, stuff with store bought hummus and/or guacamole!
I have pinned a few other collard green wrap ideas on Pinterest. Feel free to check it out. Post your collard green wrap recipe ideas below!
Let’s face it. No one enjoys feeling bloated, but it seems to be even more uncomfortable when parading around in a swim suit. Do you sometimes feel like your stomach is a beach ball, ready to pop? Perhaps you happen to check out your profile in the mirror and wonder if others think you’re pregnant. You are not alone, Dahling! Often what we eat, how we eat and how we cope with stress has a lot to do with the size of our mid-sections.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help trim the belly bulge for the beach this summer.
Believe it or not, many people are sensitive to dairy and don’t even know it. Commercial, ultra-pasteurized dairy is not a real food, Folks. In fact, it can be too congesting for most bodies, wreak digestive distress, cause or exacerbate allergies and make people plain sick. Also, as we age, we don’t produce as much of the enzyme lactase which is responsible for digesting the milk sugar, lactose. Try eliminating dairy from your diet for 2 to 3 weeks and then reintroduce it and see what happens. Bloating is a very common symptom. If you must have dairy, look for raw dairy products.
Sadly, gluten in wheat and other grains can also cause the belly to bulge. Because our wheat has been hybridized to contain more gluten (the protein in wheat that gives bread it’s elasticity) it can be difficult for most of us to digest. Gluten can create inflammation in the gut which can damage your villi and microvilli which compromises their ability to digest food. Food in the gut that isn’t digested ferments, creating gas and bloating. In the end, this inflammation makes your intestinal lining more porous and allows undigested food particles to slip into the blood stream, creating an immune response that’s often unpleasant. This is called Leaky Gut Syndrome. Try eliminating gluten from your diet for 2 to 3 weeks and then reintroduce it. See how you feel and look. You might be surprised.
Increase Fiber and Fluid
Sometimes bloating is simply due to constipation. Food fermenting longer than normal in the colon can cause gas and bloating. The solution is to drink your darn water and plenty of it. Why? Water lubricates the intestinal lining and moves nutrients into the cells and waste out, an essential part of the digestion proces. It also dilutes extra acid around the cells that can create inflammation. So how much water should you drink? Most holistic practitioners agree that you should drink half your weight in ounces. Fiber, of course, also helps scrub the colon and keep it moving. So eat your veggies and fruits with abandon! If you can tolerate grains, toss in some gluten-free grains such as quinoa, amaranth, millet and buckwheat for an extra scrub.
Sadly our society is all about multi-tasking and getting things done. Unfortunately, that doesn’t not work well for the digestive system. When you’re eating, focus on nothing but eating. Eat at a dining table – your coffee table or desk doesn’t cut the mustard! Take one bite and savor it for as long as possible. This may sound a little weird, but let you tongue play with it! Chew that bite until it’s liquid. This allows the enzymes in your food (if it’s raw or slightly steamed) and in your salivary glands to begin the digestion process. This means less burden to your pancreas (which secretes digestive enzymes) later! Eating should be playful and sensual. Enjoy.
Stress contributes to poor digestion and constipation. When you’re stressed, your whole body tightens up. Your colon gets tense just like your neck and shoulders and that just isn’t working well for digestive system health. When elimination slows, stagnation grows and so does your belly. So what’s a powerful antidote to stress and bloating? Play of course! Play is a way to connect to ourselves, be present and experience joy. So what sounds more fun – joy or bloating? I thought so… 😉
So try one or all of these tips and see how they work for you. Feel free to comment here and let us know which tip works best for your body. And maybe you have some additional tips or experiences to share with our Eat. Play. Love. readers!
I know, I know. Why the heck would anyone want to mess with a traditional favorite such as guacamole? I was skeptical as well until I tried it. My friend and co-worker at the Greenbelt Co-op Supermarket and Pharmacy found this delicious recipe at Taste of Home. If you’re looking for a low-calorie dip for tortilla chips and assorted veggies, this is the one to try. So yummy and so colorful! You can use your favorite guac recipe and substitute asparagus for a good portion of the avocado. The original recipe calls for low-fat mayo, but ya’ll know I don’t do low-fat products so I substituted one avocado and olive oil.
So what are the benefits of asparagus besides the fact that it’s a tasty low-cal snack?
Well according to Rebecca Wood, it is the primary Ayurvedic root for strengthening the female reproductive system. It enhances hormones and fertility, promotes lactation and relieves menstrual pain. Yeehaaw!
Asparagus contains asparagine (think of the lovely smell when you pee), a diuretic which can cleanse the kidney. It’s also one of the foods with highest glutathione content, a nutrient with anti-carcinogenic properties. A good source of vitamins A, B-complex, C, E and K, in addition to potassium and zinc, it reduces mucus and eases constipation. Perhaps this is because it’s a good source of inulin which feeds the good bacteria in your gut. Sounds like a great detox food to me!
So without further ado, here is the recipe of asparagus awesomeness.
Serves: 6-ish, yields 2 cups
- 1 pound fresh asparagus trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/3 cup chopped red onion
- 1 garlic clove
- 1/3 cup chopped seeded tomato
- ½ to a whole avocado with a splash of olive oil – original recipe called for 2 TBSP of reduced-fat mayo
- 1 TBSP lime or lemon juice
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ¾ tsp minced fresh cilantro
- ¼ tsp chili powder
- ¼ tsp chipotle pepper powder
- 6 drops hot pepper sauce
- Assorted raw vegetables and tortilla chips
- 1.Place 1/2 in. of water and asparagus in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 3-5 minutes or until tender. Drain.
- 2.Place asparagus in a blender. Add onion, avocado, and garlic; cover and process until smooth.
- 3.In a small bowl, combine the tomato, olive oil, lemon/lime juice, salt, cilantro, chili powder, chipotle powder and hot pepper sauce. Stir in the asparagus mixture until blended. Serve with vegetables and chips. Refrigerate leftovers; stir before serving.
Give this recipe a try and let me know what you think. Or, post your favorite guac recipe for us all to try. 🙂
Chelsea and I just started week two of the PLAYdetox at the Glenn Dale Community Center. We checked in with our awesome detoxers after week 1 which was all about getting mentally and physically prepared. To be honest, week 1 is no joke. And, if you ask the beautiful women we are working with this month, they will confirm! Each participant had a different way of approaching their prep week to get their bodies and minds in the right place for the adventure that was about to start.
So what does prep week look like?
Well, before you even decide to take the plunge, take a look at your schedule and see if this program is even feasible for you at this time. If you have a family vacation coming up or a business trip, it’s not that it can’t be done, it just makes life more difficult. Personally, I like to cleanse when I know I can cook in my own kitchen for the most part. Also, I find it challenging to eat slightly steamed veggies and legumes when my family is chowing down on crab cakes and sweet potato fries while enjoying a microbrew. Actually, I get downright cranky.
Also, detoxing is not for everyone. If someone is deficient and experiencing illness or burned out adrenals, their body needs to be built up before it can muster the energy to cleanse efficiently. Generally, it’s best to just put these folks on a whole foods diet that isn’t terribly restrictive. Pump ’em with organic veggies, legumes and high quality animal proteins and fats. Dump the sugar and flour.
The next important step is to start to prepare the mind and the body for day 1. Now some people go with the “let’s go crazy before we have to give up everything” approach, but unfortunately, for those addicted to caffeine and or sugar, it can make day 1 seem like a near death experience. Use this week to add more vegetables into the diet and reduce or even cut out poor foods such as sugar, refined carbs and coffee. It’s also a great time to try out detox recipes and channel Goldilocks to perfect your gluten-free breakfast porridge. During the experimentation phase, the porridge can look and taste like mushy gruel until you get it JUST RIGHT. Sometimes people find combinations that blow their minds. This is the goal of week 1. You gotta have something fun in the morning to get you going (literally and figuratively). And of course, you need to make time to shop for your food and supplements.
Now food is only one part of the detox experience. Our lymphatic system, which is basically the sewer system of the body, often gets bogged down by rancid fats, undigested proteins, dead blood cells, toxins, opportunistic bacteria and other pathogens. It’s an integral part of our immune system that needs to be cleaned and moved. Unlike our circulatory system which is always pumping due to our amazing hearts, the lymphatic system can only be stimulated by muscle movement. So what are you supposed to do? Figure out how you’re going to get your butt moving during the detox! Exercise, massage, foam rolling and dry brushing are great techniques for moving lymph.
Because PLAYdetox is a holistic approach to cleansing the body, we also have to consider the mind. Often we allow our thoughts to be hijacked by Negative Nancy. You know who I’m talkin’ ’bout! Nancy says things like, “I’m not smart enough, pretty enough, coordinated enough, strong enough, disciplined enough, creative enough, yadda, yadda, yadda. We doubt ourselves and never feel like we are good enough which is ridiculous. This kind of stress is more toxic to the body than a McFlurry.
So, just like you give your body tons of yummy, energizing veggies during a detox, you also need to pump that mind full of playful, sexy, super thoughts about you and your fabulous life. Chelsea and I enjoy creating affirmations and intention statements with our our participants, weekly. We also incorporate deep breathing and introduce a play menu in week 1 to relax the mind and soothe the soul. It’s a great time to internalize those powerful affirmations.
So let’s hear from you! If you were to detox, when would be a good time to start this spring, and what kind of intention statement would you create for yourself?
A couple of weeks ago, I did a cooking demo for BioReliance’s employee health fair. I made a few interesting dishes including a kale, white bean and potato soup, a lentil, sausage and swiss chard skillet and a pan roasted butternut squash and goat cheese salad with toasted shallots, sage and pecans. Although people liked all three dishes, the roasted butternut squash salad seemed to be the favorite. I really like this dish because I love salads, but they tend to be too cooling for me during the winter. If I add some roasted veggies and warming spices and herbs, it’s a great combination for my damp constitution!
To create your own, warm winter salad, roast your favorite root vegetable(s) and then mix them with your favorite toasted nuts, herbs and even cheese. Make a tasty homemade salad dressing and toss with fresh greens such as spinach, watercress, arugula, endive and/or radicchio. In just a few moments, you have a scrumptious starter salad for a Holiday menu or even a satisfying mid-week entree salad.
Here are a few ideas for warm winter salad combinations followed by the recipe for Roasted Butternut Squash, Goat Cheese and Arugula Salad. Any of these roasted vegetable options would work well with the basic dijon vinaigrette mentioned in this recipe. Have fun experimenting!
winter squash (i.e. butternut, acorn, kabocha, delicata)
shaved Pecorino Romano
Roasted Butternut Squash, Goat Cheese & Arugula Salad
Serves: 4 to 6
- ¼ cup lightly toasted pecan halves
- 2 bunches arugula leaves (about 4 cups)
- 1 ½ cups shredded radicchio
- 1 butternut squash, halved & seeded
- 1 cup of blue cheese or goat cheese, crumbled
- coconut oil, extra virgin unrefined
- 2 TBSP thyme
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 TBSP finely diced shallot or red onion
- 1/8 tsp sea salt
- 2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
- 1 TBSP dijon mustard
- ½ TBSP maple syrup
- 2 garlic cloves, minced or chopped
- Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Halve the butternut squash and scoop out the seeds. Peel and cube (~1-inch cubes). Place in a roasting pan greased with extra virgin coconut oil. Bake approximately 30 to 45 minutes.
- In a medium hot skillet (un-oiled), toast pecan pieces, turning every few minutes.
- Wash arugula well and trim stems if necessary. Use whole leaves or tear into bite-size pieces if leaves are too large. Place in a medium-size bowl.
- Add shredded radicchio, crumbled goat cheese and toasted pecans to arugula and toss gently. Set aside while you prepare the dressing.
- In a small skillet, heat 1 TBSP of the coconut oil. Add shallot and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add thyme and sea salt. Add butternut squash and brown. Once browned, drizzle with olive oil.
- Whisk together dressing ingredients. Pour over salad, toss very gently, and add cubes of squash to top. Serve immediately on individual salad plates.
The big day is tomorrow and then the Holiday Season officially begins. When it comes to taking care of ourselves, this time of year can be a struggle. Often we are shuffling from one engagement to the next without thinking twice about the toll it’s taking on our bodies and spirits. So what can you do stay vigilant about your physical and emotional health this Holiday Season?
Here are five simple tips you can incorporate NOW to help you stay healthy during the Holiday bustle.
Tip#1: Eat breakfast every morning.
Yes. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It gives you energy for the rest of the day and stabilizes your blood sugar levels. If you currently don’t consider yourself a breakfast person, start out with something simple like a hardboiled egg, oatmeal or a piece of fruit or sprouted, whole grain toast with your favorite nut butter. Just make sure your breakfast contains protein or complex carbs and fat. Avoid simple, refined carbs like cold cereal.
Tip#2: Have at least one alkaline drink every day.
During the Holidays, it’s easy to get caught up eating foods and drinking beverages that have an acidifying effect on the body. When your cells become acidic, they can’t hold oxygen and essentially suffocate. Tissues in the body become inflamed and begin to degenerate. Many experts say that cancer cells can’t survive in an alkaline environment. In addition to incorporating a lot of veggies into your daily menu plans, mix any of the following in 8 oz of water and drink at least once a day to help balance the pH of your blood and cells:
- juice of half a lemon
- 2 TBSP of raw apple cider vinegar
- 2 TBSP of chlorophyll
- 1-2 TBSP of greens powder
Consider making a green smoothie and if you have a juicer, juice some of your favorite veggie combinations. One of my favorite recipes contains apple, carrot and ginger. Yum!
Tip #3: Keep a gratitude journal and write in it daily.
Counting your blessings can keep you focused on the reason for the season. Our problems seem less dramatic when we focus on what’s going right in our lives. Then when things do go wrong, it’s not as big of a deal, allowing us to keep our stress levels in check.
Tip#4: Set a timer on the hour for breaks.
When the timer goes off, take five minutes to stretch, do breathing exercises, sit-ups, squats or close your eyes and meditate. Mix it up! In fact, decorate a box or other container and write about ten different activities on separate slips of paper. Keep this box near your timer or hourglass in your office, and pull out one slip of paper on the hour and do that activity. When you’re on the go, set several alarms listing different activities on your smartphone. You may not be in a place where you can plop on the ground and do sit-ups, but you could balance on one foot, close your eyes for a few minutes and take three deep breaths or do a gratitude check.
Tip#5: Take several deep slow breaths through the nose and smile between events.
Be intentional and playful about your schedule. If you have one (or ten plus) of those days that’s booked solid, be sure to take a few moments to acknowledge the present moment in between activities. Smiling lets your body and brain know that life is good and you can relax and enjoy the ride! Also, feel empowered, not guilty, about canceling if you do overbook and need to retreat.
Be sure to review my Healthy Holidays tips from last year to give you a few more ideas on how to live the next month more mindfully and playfully. In addition, Chelsea Calhoun of Groove Dance Fitness and I are hosting a Healthy Holidays Open House at the Glenn Dale Community Center on December 1st. Visit PLAY for more information. In the meantime, I look forward to hearing how these tips work for you and other playful ways that you create healthy habits during the Holiday Season!
If you missed our debut PLAY Ladies Night Out! event, not to worry. I am posting a couple of the seasonal cocktail and mocktail recipes in this post for your enjoyment! We had a grand time with 18 lively women ready to PLAY! Chelsea kicked-off the fun with the thought-provoking, yet amusing game, “If I Were Queen of the World…” While sipping a glass of fresh, seasonal vanilla infused peach sangria, participants shared their wishes for the world which included everything from a world where everyone was kind to men relinquishing ownership of the remote control.
Other games included a fast-moving game of “PLAY charades” with a variety of food and movement related subjects and “Pass the Cucumber” which was a great thigh workout and team building exercise. I considered posting photos of the cucumber game, but decided to spare the participants from embarrassment. As one of our pregnant participants said, “It’s a good thing I’m not further along as I would have had the baby from laughing so hard!”
In addition to Chelsea’s delish peach sangria, we served a fabulous Fizzy Basil Watermelon Caipirinha and a Cucumber Lemonade Chiller with fresh rosemary from my garden. We used local fruits, veggies and herbs when possible and it made for outstanding drinks! The mocktail versions were served with extra sparkling water instead of booze. I also made a thirst-quenching herb water that included sliced limes, lemons, cucumbers, ginger and mint. This concoction can be served in still or sparking water and is a great alternative to plain water – tasty, refreshing and alkalizing!
Here is the recipe for the favorite drink, the Fizzy Basil Watermelon Caipirinha.
Inspired by Marc of norecipes.com
- 1.5 cups Cachaça (liquor optional)
- 1/4 cup coconut crystals (make into a simple syrup, can also used whole cane sugar)
- ½ cup basil leaves finely chopped
- 1 lime juiced
- 1 sweet lime juiced (optional)
- 1 small seedless watermelon peeled and cubed (from a 3-4 pound melon)
- 2 cups ice
- mineral water
- Muddle together Cachaca, coconut crystals, basil, and lime juice.
- Peel and chop watermelon; transfer to a food processor/blender and puree.
- Pour the puree through a fine-mesh strainer set over a medium bowl or large measuring cup. Press on the solids to extract all the juice. (Repeat if necessary.)
- Add watermelon juice and Cachaca mixture into a blender, add 2 cups of ice and blend.
- Divide among 4 glasses. Add a splash or two of mineral water to taste.
Equally, delicious and refreshing, here is the Cucumber-Lemonade Chiller recipe inspired by Delish.com:
- 3 large cucumbers
- 1 TBSP of chopped fresh rosemary
- ¾ cup gin optional
- ½ cup fresh lemon juice
- 3 TBSP of agave syrup (you could also use raw honey or coconut crystal syrup
- Cut 12 thin slices of cucumber for garnish (optional).
- Peel and chop the rest of the cucumber; transfer to a food processor, add water and rosemary, and puree.
- Pour the puree through a fine-mesh strainer set over a medium bowl or large measuring cup. Press on the solids to extract all the juice. (Repeat if necessary.)
- Add gin, lemon juice, and agave syrup to the cucumber juice; stir or blend until the agave is dissolved.
- Divide among 4 ice-filled glasses. Garnish with cucumber slices and rosemary sprigs.
Finally, the evenings menu included a Summer Quinoa Salad, Tarragon Chicken Salad, green salad, crudite, hummus and cheese and crackers.
If you’re interested in joining us for our next PLAY Ladies Night Out! event, follow us on Facebook or sign up for Juicy News and be sure to select PLAY. Learn more about the PLAY Program at www.letsPLAYhealthy.com.