Friday, July 27, 2012

Turning Mealy Watermelons into Delight

Devastated. I cut open the adorable little watermelon and it was soft and mealy inside. And not even very sweet. It might seem like an over-reaction, but I LOVE my summer watermelons.

So I got creative and a little messy. And now I'll be excited when my watermelons are mealy.

Old, soft watermelon = Watermelon Juice!
Seedless: Blend. (Strain if desired.)
Seeded: Smash it through a strainer into a bowl.
This was ALL the pulp and seeds left from a small soccer-ball sized watermelon.
Drink what you want now and freeze the rest in an ice cube tray. Or make ice pops.
It won't last very long fresh, but will be great in smoothies or in a glass of mint water on a hot day!
I could not believe the color! Watermelons are great sources of vitamin C, beta carotene/vitamin A, and the powerful antioxidant lycopene (which we usually associate with tomatoes!).
If you watermelon was room temp, pop the juice in the freezer for a few minutes to chill it.
Yummy, hydrating and good for you!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Waking Up Fresh

What if you could get started on the right foot every day?

I start (almost) every day with a 15-minute morning practice. What's that?
Here's what I do:
  • 5 min. of writing: 3 things I'm grateful for and a brain dump (what's swimming around up there that needs to be let out)
  • 5 min. of meditating: feeling my breathing, clearing my mind, focusing my energy
  • 5 min. of movement and stretching: waking up and getting into my body... usually means I roll around on the floor on my yoga mat and
I start my day grounded, centered, clear, awake.

What would your 15 minutes look like?

I dare you: commit to making your morning sweeter for one week. Yes, it might mean setting your alarm 15 minutes earlier. But, really, I dare you to give that 15 minutes to yourself.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Try telling a pear her bottom's too wide...

You are beautiful. You are perfect.
Just the way you are right now.

No one else can decide that for you.
Shine on.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Snacks - What's sitting on my counter?

A bowl of yellow cherry tomatoes (and a watermelon, you might notice)!
Let's face it, we're creatures who like ease and instant gratification.
Who doesn't? Since we've got to work with what we've got:

Make your snacks easy and gratifying.

Make it good. Make it the best. I picked up these yellow cherry tomatoes at my local farmers market because they were juicy and sweet and I just wanted to pop them in my mouth. Always a good sign. Yes, they were pricier than what I'd find at the grocery store. But how good do those tomatoes actually taste? This is where a little extra money goes a long way towards your health and everyday pleasures. Quality of life stuff.

I eat one of these tomatoes, and it tastes like the sunshine and sweetness of deep summer.

So think about: What foods make you feel good about eating them? Keep them out in a bowl or cleaned/peeled/chopped in a clear container in the very front of your fridge so it's the first thing you see when you open the door. (My next step is to cut up Mr. Watermelon there.)

Also: Put the chips and crackers and cookies away. All the temptation foods, if you still buy them. Way away and out of reach. If it's not what you want to turn to for a fast snack, then use a step-stool to stow it where you can't readily reach it. Trust me, it does wonders.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Week of Eating with My First CSA Box

I picked up my first beautiful CSA box on Wednesday - and I've been delighting in it ever since.

A lot of people have asked me what I eat and how I eat. This is a great opportunity for me to give you a little peak into what I eat and how to easily incorporate more fruits and veggies into your life. Keep it simple. I love summer because raw fruits and veggies taste so good and keep me feeling light. Plus, no cooking = more time for relaxing and savoring.

The Goodness:
Onions, green beans, zucchini, heirloom tomatoes, a bunch of basil,
watermelon, cute yellow melon, plums, carrots, corn on the cob!

I've been waking my taste buds up in the morning with some of these plums - their juices are so sweet and their skin is so sour! Whew. Good morning to you.

Yesterday, my mid-afternoon snack involved half of the yellow melon, a spoon and my sunny roof. If that's not summer, I don't know what is.

Last night, we tossed the zucchini, sliced into rounds, and some onions in olive oil and roasted them as a side to our free-range turkey burgers and brown rice! I have some leftovers that I'm planning to stuff into an omelet for brunch this weekend.

For lunch today, I munched on some of the raw green beans as I mixed up one of my favorite salads to make when I have fresh basil and corn on hand: Quinoa-Corn Basil Salad.

I didn't have all of the ingredients, so I had to get a little creative: I combined a cup of leftover quinoa from a meal earlier in the week, plus the leftover brown rice from last night to make the base. Added the corn, plenty of basil, some finely chopped white onion, fresh chopped heirloom tomatoes (in place of the roasted red peppers - I've also used sun-dried tomatoes in place for stellar results), and tossed it all together with olive oil, ume plum vinegar (didn't have a lemon either...), and pepper. YUM. Ate it wrapped in some romaine leaves.

I'm going to an all-day workshop tomorrow, so I'm going to bring a container of this salad, some sliced tomatoes, a few carrots and a couple of plums for lunch.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Beat the Bloat

Ok, I'll admit it... my friends and I name our "food babies." You know, that big ballooned feeling after you eat too much, that feels a little bit like you're 3 months pregnant?

As much as I wanted to feel good while I was in Italy, I gave myself permission to go a little crazy with the pasta and cheese, two things I don't ordinarily eat very much of. And all the bloating I used to be familiar with on a daily basis came right back to me. In that way, I was relieved to be home again. I'd venture to guess you don't love feeling uncomfortable, gassy and fat either.

"The bloat" used to feel like a big, dark inevitable cloud over my quality of life. Instead of staying out and having fun with my friends, or making love with my partner, or having the energy to go for an evening stroll - I just wanted to go home, lie down and veg out. Blah. Sometimes when I'm feeling bloated, I can't even enjoy what's next because I'm so preoccupied with feeling puffy and uncomfortable. Double blah. I'd much rather feel alive, energized, sexy and adventurous!

You too? So what's going on?
Inside your body, a bloated belly is a symptom of digestive distress! (No kidding, right?) As easy as it can be to beat ourselves up over eating too much this or that, take a step back to get curious and ask what's going on. Most likely, the bloating is a sign that 1.) your body isn't able to fully break down the food it's been given, and the tiny microbes in your gut are making gas, sometimes even causing your belly to cramp, or 2.) your body is not agreeing with or is having a reaction to the food you ate.

If we don't listen to these messages, excess undigested materials can build up and clog up our digestive tract and can actual disrupt digestion even further. We can end up with "Irritable Bowel Syndrome," nutrient deficiencies, or we can miss the signals that we have some kind of food allergy or intolerance. Or just always bloated and unhappy.

Beating the Bloat is Very Possible!
Luckily, there are some really easy ways to minimize bloating so you can feel energized, light and ready for action after every meal.

1. Slow down, enjoy, savor and CHEW your food thoroughly. I don't mean count to 50 chews before you swallow, but chewing (and the release of saliva) is where digestion starts. Do your stomach and digestive tract a favor and break up your food into manageable chunks before you swallow it. As a bonus, you'll feel more satisfied while eating less because chewing is a huge part of what signals to your brain to recognize when you're full - and you'll be taking it slow. Smaller meals = a lighter load for your GI tract = happy belly.

2. Watch out for sugar, dairy, caffeine and carbonated beverages. Yep, the big four for bloat. Experiment with cutting back one or all of these and see what happens. I tell my clients to play around and listen to what their own bodies have to say. They usually say a lot - and pretty quickly (try a week and be amazed). When you do decide to have one of these foods, opt for smaller amounts of higher-quality. Our bellies know better what to do with these than foods that have been messed with. Plus, you'll enjoy it more and feel more satisfied. Indulge without indulging!

3. Start celebrating and eating probiotic foods liberally, including yogurt (check the label for "live culture" ... otherwise they're all dead from a second pasteurization), raw sauerkraut, kombucha, tempeh, kefir, miso, kimchi and other raw, fermented foods. These foods are all the rage right now, and for good reason. They come with a healthy dose of "good guy" bacteria strains that already exist in your gut, but that can always use some help. Our world right now is full of toxins that kill these little guys off, so make sure to eat foods that help to replenish a healthy gut flora. If you don't love these foods, find a high-quality, few billion multi-strain probiotic supplement to take. I keep some in my fridge and take them a few times a week.

4. Drink your water. It's the lubrication for the whole system. A hydrated body will digest, flow, detox and shine brighter all around. Seems like a small step, but it's a big one.

As with all of my suggestions, find ways to love the process: Savor your foods fully, enjoy high-quality treats without guilt, get excited about trying new things. Because you will love the outcome.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Ever considered a CSA? Follow me as I sign up!

A typical CSA box - I'll post pictures of mine when we get it!
This weekend I did something I've been wanting to do for a long time. Evan and I had our friend Liz over for dinner Friday night and got talking about food (imagine that). Liz shared with us that she's been getting a CSA (= "Community Supported Agriculture") box from a small local farm called Terra Firma Farm for over a month now. And she's loving it. So Saturday morning we signed up!

Here's how she convinced me to sign up in 5 minutes flat:

1. Getting to farmers' markets during the week is a rushed hassle, at best, or just takes a lot of time. Evan and I like to go to one on Sundays, but it does wind up being an all-morning affair. With a CSA, you get a spread of fruits and veggies to pick up at a nearby location during a 4-5 hour time frame one day a week. So much faster.

2. The quality of the produce is amazing: super fresh, just-picked, never bruised, all-organic, lots of heirloom varieties. Plus everything is at the prime of its season (aka most delicious). When we eat with the seasons, our bodies have an easier time adjusting and thriving. Everything is in better sync.

3. Great deal for your money. Ever find yourself despairing over how much good tomatoes cost at the farmers' market? $6 or $7 a pound sometimes! Liz said she got 6 huge grapefruit-sized heirlooms in her "small" box last week. When there is abundance, you reap the overflow. You're the farmer's community support, after all. It pays to be on the farmer's top priority list.

4. Variety! I'll stop eating the same vegetables every week and get to try eating and cooking with some new veggies. What a gift that I never seem to give to myself... can't wait!

CSA or "Community Supported Agriculture" is a truly fruitful relationship for both farmer and eater: the farmer gets in-advance payment (which works like a whole bunch of mini-loans) from you - and in return, supplies you with the best-picked, fresh, seasonal produce. Win-win.

Here's one of the guys I'm supporting at Terra Firma Farm:

Our first pick-up is 5 minutes down the street on Wednesday evening - stay tuned! (Because I'm excited.)

Friday, July 6, 2012

No More Moldy Berries

As much as I don't like wasting money on rotten avocados, I REALLY can't stand when I splurge on fresh berries that grow mold in two days. Berries are one of the best choices for fruit, since they have relatively low sugar (and are low-glycemic), and are full of antioxidants and fiber. And when you can get them local, fresh and in-season, nothing really compares.

When you get your berries home:

Prepare a mixture of one part vinegar (white or apple cider work best) and ten parts water (for every cup of water, I add an overflowing tablespoon of vinegar).
Dump the berries into the mixture and swirl around. Drain, rinse if you want (though the mixture is pretty diluted and I find you can't really taste the vinegar - test one to see what you think). I like to roll mine over paper towels too, to get rid of excess water.

Why it works: The vinegar kills any mold spores and other bacteria that might be on the surface of the fruit. Raspberries will last a week or more, and strawberries will go almost two weeks without getting moldy and soft.

The best way to store tender berries is covered, in a single layer. Tupperwear works great. Sometimes I lay a paper towel down inside of a square baking dish that will fit the berries and then cover it with plastic wrap.

What to do with berries that are past their prime:
Freeze them! Wash and pat dry your berries. Place in a flat layer in a rimmed baking sheet or pan and put into the freezer. This prevents them from freezing into a giant berry block. After a few hours, transfer into a plastic freezer bag and seal well. Use for smoothies or leave out for a few hours to defrost and add to baking recipes, pancakes, or sauces.

Cut them up (this works with almost any fruit like peaches, which spoil quickly too), removing any moldy or badly bruised parts and mix it in a bowl with a few teaspoons of sugar and ta-da! Your fruit is preserved for another few days to a week! And two teaspoons of sugar (I like to use rapadura or another natural variety) per pound* of fruit is pretty negligible, calorie-wise.Totally worth it. *Two green baskets or one large brick-sized container of strawberries is about a pound.