Saturday, June 30, 2012

Never Buy a Rotten Avocado Again

We hear a lot about how good avocados are for you. They contains some unusual and beneficial fats that are anti-inflammatory and boost your digestions by helping your body to absorb vitamins and minerals (of which it is a rich source itself). I love adding it to salads - whether green or  grain-based. Or just sliced and spread on toast.

But let's face it, avocados are expensive. And so very bruisable and mushable. It's so frustrating to get a $2-3 piece of fruit home and slice it open to find it's brown and rotten inside. So when I found this trick for selecting only the best, ripe creamy avocados, I HAD to pass it along. Props to Erica at Northwest Edible Life for this tip. I owe this one to you, sista!

Basically, all you have to do is flick the little nub left from the stem off to get a sneak peak as to what's inside!

If it's brown, the inside will be icky. If it's bright green like this, it will be everything you want.

See Erica's full description, blog entry and more pictures here!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Ate too much again? How to forgive yourself.

I just listened to a really insightful interview facilitated by Trevor Justice of the Vegetarian Health Institute with Dr. Felicia Williams, a psychologist who specializes in helping people around emotional eating. In the interview, she explains how to overcome the guilt, blame and shame that so many of us feel around eating, especially when we eat or binge because we're feeling stressed or negative. Perfect timing! I'm in Italy right now, surrounded by and gorging on delicious way-too-decadent food right now. Her suggestion? Look at what you're eating, but to also look at what's eating you. Oh boy, that probably means my own self-judgment and guilt about it...

She said a few beautiful things about forgiving and accepting ourselves that I just had to share. Because when we can find it in ourselves to forgive and accept, we can really heal from the inside out. I share with you some of her wisdom and techniques:

1. Forgiveness is the path to acceptance, and acceptance is the doorway to freedom.

2. UNforgiving weighs you down like a ball and chain... and it's hard to fly when you're tied down.

3. Forgiving yourself or others is not the same thing as condoning, forgetting or agreeing with them or their behavior, it's really about choosing not to let the pain of what happened determine who you are or to let it run the rest of your life. Choose to let go of the hold it has on you. Look at the lesson you got from the experience, say thank you, and goodbye.

How can we go about forgiving ourselves? It's not always so simple in practice, I'll admit, but it IS so incredibly freeing. What do you want to unshackle from?

Dr. Williams offers this 3-step process:

1. Think about: Who do I need to forgive? Maybe it's yourself. Maybe it's a family member.

2. What do I need to forgive them for? Voice it, write it down.

3. Breathe deeply into the place that feels painful. Breathe out and say out loud, "I release. I let go." Continue to breathe and release. Declare "I am free." Say it as much as you need to. Forgive as much as you need to.

I need to forgive myself for judging myself about the foods I'm eating that aren't "healthy". C'mon, Alex, reality check: you're on vacation. And even when I'm not, it's OK not to be perfect. Not every single bite has to be green and clean. I love food.

Sometimes I find myself having the most miserable time when I'm preoccupied with obsessing about what foods I "should" and "shouldn't" eat. When I'm eating with family or friends, it can be best to forgive myself in advance for not eating "perfectly" (whatever that means), but for making the best choice I can given the situation, so that I can relax, enjoy the food I am eating fully, and focus on the beautiful people around me.

So: I forgive myself for not eating the most healthy food all of the time because it means I am released and free to ENJOY myself, my food and my company. Wow. That wasn't so bad. Next time might be tougher... but for now I'm going to have more fresh pasta!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Morning Cravings: Banana Berry Baked Oatmeal

When I'm working with people to tame their cravings and break free from compulsive eating, it is SO important that they eat foods that feed their cravings. I developed this recipe to satisfy my own cravings for warm, baked goods. That way, I don't go crazy looking at all the muffins in the cafe later when I'm out with my friends... I already had my fill!

Spiced Banana Berry Baked Oatmeal (yes, it's an amazing mouthful)

Preheat your oven to 375 F.

1 cup steel oats (or ½ cup oats, ½ cup amaranth, which reminds me of cream of wheat)
1/2 cup walnuts
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp each cardamom and ginger
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 Tbsp chia seeds (optional)

Combine dry ingredients right in the baking dish you will be baking in. Mix around.

1-2 ripe sliced bananas
1/2 cup blueberries, strawberries, raspberries or cherries (fresh or frozen)

Spread berries and sliced bananas over the top. (You'll see I made two versions, one with, one without berries... definitely add the berries!) You can use fresh or frozen bananas - frozen ones still slice easily on a cutting board.

3/4 cup milk
1 1/4 cup water
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp maple syrup

Add liquid ingredients right into baking dish, starting with the milk and water and then stir to combine. Everything will be floating and bobbing around and that's just great. Feel free to sprinkle with additional cinnamon before popping in the oven.

Bake for about an hour, until the mixture looks a bit sunken and the grains have absorbed most of the liquid. Stick a spoon in it to taste grains for done-ness. If the oats are chewy and delicious, done. If they're still crunchy, bake on. If you need to add a dash more liquid, do.

I added some coconut to the top during the last 15 minutes of baking. Feel free to play. Granola is another delightful topping.

This sized batch is enough for almost a week's worth of breakfasts. Simply scoop out what you want, reheat in a toaster oven and eat! Throw it in a thermos to take along. I love to serve it with a dollop of plain whole-milk yogurt or splash of milk. Mmm. A bowl of satisfaction.

I love to make this for Sunday brunch and have it all week!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

How Breathing = Weight Loss + More Energy

Ok, really? Yes really! This simple, quick trick can revolutionize your body.

Ever notice how fast we're moving these days? Fast-paced living and stress have become totally normal. Many of us live in a state of constant low-grade stress. What this means for our body is that we cortisol - "the stress hormone" - is constantly in our system. Studies show that chronic low-level stress and cortisol in our bloodstream leads to fat accumulation, especially around our bellies. If you struggle with losing those last few pounds around your middle, this might be your ticket.

When we're even a little stressed, this is what tends to happen: we eat faster, our digestion is compromised because we don't chew enough, our stomachs don't have time to register that we're full until we're stuffed, and our metabolism slows down. Our body stores fat more readily. The solution? Relax, my dearest, relax.

Right. So how do we relax? I'm going to teach you a super simple trick: When we slow down our breathing, even artificially, we signal to our body that the stress is no longer there.

Take 2 minutes (time yourself!) and try this exercise before you eat each of your next three meals and see what feels different.

I learned this as the 5-5-7 breath: Inhale through your nose for five seconds, hold for five seconds, and exhale through your mouth for seven. The exhale is a little bit longer than the inhale. That's it. For two minutes. And then you're free to eat.

What just happened? By slowing down your breathing, you reset your body into a normal state in which to receive and metabolize your food. That means more energy, better digestion, and weight loss for you! Notice that you probably eat more slowly once you've relaxed a little. Notice how the rest of your body feels. Notice your digestion throughout the day. Let me know how this goes for you!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Real Power Snacking: Almond Cacao Dates vs. Snickers

Date Boat
42 g
59 g
Snickers (2 oz. bar)
1 date,
1 tbsp raw almond butter (generally way more than you'd actually use),
12-15 cacao nibs
milk chocolate (sugar, cocao butter, chocolate, lactose, skim milk, milkfat, soy lecithin, artifical flavor), peanuts, corn syrup, sugar, skim milk, butter, milkfat, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, lactose, salt, egg whites, artificial flavor
Calories from Fat
Calories from Fat
Total Fat
11 g / 17%
14 g / 22%
Total Fat
Sat. Fat
1 g / 4%
5 g / 26%
Sat. Fat
0 mg
5 mg / 2%
2 mg / 0%
140 mg / 6%
Total Carb.
21 g / 7%
35 g / 12%
Total Carb.
16 g
30 g
Dietary Fiber
3 g / 11%
1 g / 4%
Dietary Fiber
2 g
4 g
Potassium 5%
Manesium 12%
Manganese 19%
Estimated Glycemic Load
Estimated Glycemic Load

Contains many other trace vitamins and minerals, as well as living enzymes because this is a raw food. Contains many manufactured chemicals, food derivatives and GMOs (soy, corn).

The estimated Glycemic Load refers to a food's effect on your blood sugar - how much it will increase your blood sugar content. Having a relatively stable blood sugar is what will keep you from having energy and mood swings and sugar cravings.

Note how much more fiber is in the date boat - that alone will help sustain you and your energy, and to "take a bite out of your hunger" better. What do you think?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

My Cat's Advice about Overwhelm

Puzzled? Make sense of what you can amidst the chaos. Make peace with and for yourself.

I can't think of any better metaphor. Our teachers are all around us.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

How to Ditch Diets for Good

Ever tried a diet? Who hasn't? About 50% of women are on a diet at any given time and more than 95% of dieters regain the weight that they've lost.

The good news is that we're starting to notice that something isn't right. The All Party Parliamentary Group just released a groundbreaking report on Body Image on May 29th. This was one of the first public reports to acknowledge that overeating is not a lifestyle choice, but can be the result of dieting.

So what is going on? Why don't diets work?
  1. Diets focus on what you CAN'T have or need to eliminate... often leaving you feeling trapped, limited and deprived.
  2. Diets don't take personal needs or tastes into consideration, but take a one-size-fits-all approach. Truth is, we all have very different bodies, ages, time, jobs, obligations, metabolisms, dietary needs and levels of physical activity. Not to mention interests.
  3. Diets generally only focus on food – not on lifestyle, emotions, social obligations and movement.
  4. Diets promise (and often deliver) short-term results but no long-term solutions. If the changes aren't enjoyable, sustainable, practical or adaptable... how can we be expected to stay on it??
If we don't stop this “yo-yo” on-again-off-again dieting and weight loss-weight gain pattern, we're going to wear our bodies – and our sense of power, worth and confidence out!  

How I teach people to NEVER have to diet again:
  1. Focus on what we can eat, what we want to eat, what foods make us feel strong, healthy, light, energized and taste deliciously satisfying. Think about it: what is a food that does this for you? (Watermelon and romaine chicken salads are two of mine!)
  2. Pay attention to what your own body is telling you. Are you still hungry or are you satisfied? When do you find yourself reaching for sweets or caffeine? What foods do you love? When do you get bellyaches or feel bloated? Study yourself. What can you learn? When I'm stressed, for example, I need hugs, and lots of them. Otherwise my sugar monster comes out.
  3. Fill and lighten yourself up with non-food sustenance. Remember when you were a kid and had to be called to come in to eat two or three times because you were caught up having so much fun? Get back to that place whenever you can. Fun, pleasure, creativity, connection with others and physical movement can really feed your body and soul. Is there an activity you do where you loose track of time? Follow your passion.
  4. Always make small, practical, and enjoyable changes. Meet yourself where you are. Give yourself time and compassion. Create rituals and support to make it feel as good as it can. You don't have to go vegetarian overnight (or at all!) - but maybe a spicy bean and rice taco night once a week would be a blast....
So what out of those strategies sounds most do-able and fun to you? Pick one, make a plan and start enjoying life more as you feel fuller and lighter at the same time.

Get a taste of my work and get started ditching diets with me this coming Monday June 11th when I talk about "The Sweet Life" and how to kick your sugar cravings with confidence! Space is running out so be sweet to yourself and save your spot here.

Sue Thompson We'llLook Back and Laugh That We Went On Diets to Try to Lose Weight