Follow Your Bliss!

Mentally, physically, spiritually – love yourself

Being “Designed for Health” means more than learning how to return to eating nutrient-dense foods; it means creating and maintaining that healthy balance in all areas of our life: mentally, spiritually, and physically.

Stress-related insomnia

“Fixing” the food part to meet physical needs is just one part of that healthy triad. Many of us are spinning so many stress-filled plates, the mental and spiritual part of ourselves is going lacking…which then circles back to an unhappy body. Stress hormones play into poor sleep which plays into moreStress filled merry-go-roundstress hormones which play into hormones designed to push us to more starch and sugar which plays into…… well, it’s a mess!

Did you ever say “Stop this stress-go-round, I want to get off!”?

Are you experiencing a dark existential ennui?

Pretty young woman enjoying sunshine and fresh air in a flowering field.
Just breathe….

If there is a sunbeam shining right now, make sure to head for it! Take a 20 minute walk in the sunshine every day that you possibly can. Breathe in that fresh air. Look for things you have not noticed before. Something seen. Something heard. Something felt. Something smelled. Even this most basic exercise helps on all aspects of the health triad.

Pet a puppy. Who doesn't love a puppy?
Pet a puppy. Who doesn’t love a puppy?

Breathing helps, too! Not the everyday kind. The stop for a minute and take slow breaths kind. See, our over-active minds are hard to shut off even during a walk – hence the idea of noticing new things – so five methodical breaths are a great way to cleanse the mind, stop the stress-go-round, and lower the anxiety level.

You know the drill:

1. Stop everything

2. Close eyes

3. Drop shoulders

4. Inhale slowly for a count of five

5. Let the air circulate inside of you for a count of five

6. Slowly exhale through your mouth for a count of five

7. Repeat four more times


Concentrate ONLY on this procedure; if another thought drifts in then gently release it. Concentrate on the feel of the air coming into your body. Imagine it swirling around inside you. Feel the release while you exhale. Mindful breathing can be a beautiful, life-saving thing. Try it right now. Whew…I just did, and the release is just amazing!

Another way to shift our mental and spiritual focus away from the negative can be through being a part of what I have named a Tapestry Group. I am facilitating a food-talk-4-u-tapestry-of-lifeTapestry Group at our church. It is an easily replicated concept you may want to try yourself. The name of this group reflects the thought that each one of us is a part of the larger Tapestry of Life; that each one of us provides a meaningful thread to this tapestry; that the color of our thread may change over time; and that the threads of others are woven along with our own to create the rich and beautiful food-talk-4-u-rules-of-happinesstapestry we call Life.

Our purpose is the sharing of experiences, reflecting on matters or topics of the day, expanding or clarifying our view points, learning from others, and supporting others and ourselves through the exchange of ideas and thoughts.

At our last monthly meeting, I shared four talking points taken from a book by Karl Moore entitled, “The 18 Rules of Happiness: How to be Happy.” His first four “rules” provided a great resource for reflection and sharing. To paraphrase his book:

1. Stop the pity party; self-pity eats up everything around, except for itself. Elsewhere, I recently read that we have 60-70,000 thoughts each day; while some are not that significant, others may color our whole day. So, stop the negative thoughts and go to rule #2:


2. Be grateful. Well, sure, we’re thankful that semi-tractor trailer food-talk-4-u-grateful-heartmissed hitting us on the interstate, but on a daily level—moment-to-moment—we need to be grateful. I have heard of people keeping a gratitude journal whereby they make daily entries, morning or evening, for their items of gratitude. You’ve heard of that old hymn that goes, “count your blessings, name them one by one”? There’s a lot of truth in this process as counting our blessings— mindfully reviewing the positive in our lives—can create a mind-set shift, a general re-focusing on what is important, and a re-framing of how we view what’s on our personal plates.

keep-calm-and-just-say-yes3. Open yourself to selectively saying “Yes” more. I know, I know; aren’t we supposed to learn to say “No” more….I mean, we are being stretched too thin, right? Well, sure, but some of us have gotten too good at saying “no” and have shut too many doors, shut out light, shut out life. There are random twists in life and unexpected opportunities that come knocking that we need to seize. Sometimes it’s even easier to say “yes” because you participate in a positive flowing forward instead of saying “no” which goes against the flow of life. You be the judge; say “yes” to good things that may be unexpected and that can open up a positive flow in your life.

bliss24. Follow your bliss. This is an idea originally from Joseph Campbell. I remember an example of bliss in my students as they practiced what they learned in the classroom and became hands on caregivers to real patients. Their eyes lit up! They couldn’t start their clinical rotations soon enough! The joy poured out of their very beings and flowed around and caressed their patients! Time flew by! Bliss is something money can’t buy. What is your bliss? Probably everyone knows what needs to be done to be happy, but few are brave enough to take the steps to do it. Follow your bliss.

Get a room full of people to reflect and talk about the first four rules 4e6eb68f-63e2-45f6-a6f4-be2b8fc8a6ef-visionof happiness, and you will have a room full of refreshed folks who have a new perspective on life; who have shared and received inspiration; and who have said “Yes” to an opportunity to get outside of themselves, engage with others, and who shared their bliss!
Consider being a part of or forming a Tapestry Group. We were designed for health, and we were designed to be social beings.

There’s a reason for all of it!



2014 – The Whole Bloggin’ Year in Review

Since April of last year when this blog was officially “born,” many topics have been touched upon about moving to a more harmonious relationship with our bodies by eating foods that naturally promote health.

With the idea that we were designed for health and not disease, food-talk-4-u-child-cherriesthere must be a way to live, eat, move, and think that boosts health. The world-wide trend toward obesity, heart disease, and autoimmune diseases as western fast-food eating styles that are embraced can be reversed through eating what we were originally designed to eat.

These thumbprint summaries of last year’s material are hopefully a good way to see the bigger picture as we approach our health choices this year. Where we’ve been serves as a launch pad for where we are going, so to speak.

food-talk-4-u-brain-fog1. It starts in the mind. How we relate to our bodies, health, and the world around us all starts in our mind. The first class session of The Designed for Health series I teach in New Bern, North Carolina, always starts with a sort of “rededication” exercise whereby we reconnect with our body in appreciation for how we are so wonderfully made, and how we want to be in greater harmony with our body by actively listening to how it responds to what we feed it and how we treat it. We are accepting the responsibility for its care rather than just mentally going along for the ride.

2. Something “do-able”: a Keystone Habit. No matter how we want to improve our lives, whether we want to write the great American novel or we want to eat healthier, we have to concentrate on the steps, the repeatable steps, we must take each day to get there. Surely, we are not going to write that novel in one day, but writing for a short, set amount of time each and every day will eventually get food-talk-4-u-review-2us the first chapter. Similarly, we are not going to turn our health status around in one day, but making a single, seemingly ridiculously small and easy-to-repeat tweak to what we eat or drink each and every day will eventually lead to a collection of changes easily incorporated into a new eating and living style that will definitely impact our health. Hence our motto: gradual and consistent.

Food-talk-4-u-beach3. 80/20. Unless there are health dangers such as severe food allergies, becoming totally obsessed about “healthy eating” could ruin the day for you and those around you. Trying to squeeze out that last 20% of perfection each day can actually take some of the fun out of things. So while we gain an understanding what is good or bad for us, striving for perfection can, literally, spoil the party. Aim for the “good stuff” to keep up your promise to yourself, but once in a while a dab of this or that, in the absence of food allergies, can keep the fun in holidays, vacations, and life in general. Once you have converted to better choices, the standard temptations actually will hold less appeal and may not feel “right” when consumed, but- lighten up! 80/20 is good. Having said that, making exceptions back-to-back can be the start of a slippery downward slope!

4. Create an environment for success. Clean up what’s available to eat in the kitchen based on how you want to eat. No more chips and ice cream in the kitchen means you won’t be looking at chips and ice cream praying for the strength to turn away. Enlist the help and support of family and friends. Share what you are learning so you can be a part of a team. Reward your milestone successes frequently with appropriately healthy treats; maybe a walk around the waterfront instead of in the neighborhood.

5. Understand “macro-nutrients.” Understanding how our bodies naturally respond to Vegetablesproteins, fats, and carbohydrates really puts us in the driver’s seat for health! Want to stabilize blood sugar? Dedicate carbohydrate intake to veggies instead of grains and eat good protein and healthy fats which have higher satiety levels than starchy carbs and will not upset blood sugar levels.

Paleo Spices6. Enhance your flavor palate. Looking for a sense of sweetness without the added sugar? Try spices and flavorings that remind you of sweetness by using cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and extracts such as vanilla or almond. These “sweet spices” are a great way to enhance the flavor of smoothies without added sugar. Explore various herbs and oils to add endless variety to veggies and salads. Simple asparagus is different each time when lightly sautéed in a choice of olive oil, ghee, grass-fed butter, avocado oil, coconut oil, or toasted sesame oil. Whenever I get a little tired of any cooked veggie, I usually turn to a finishing drizzle of toasted sesame oil to liven things up. Pesto can easily combine with shrimp, gluten free pasta, quinoa, veggies, or scrambled eggs to make a brand new eating Keep this plate in mind. Strive for a plate balanced with these proportions.   Imagine your plate is half non-starchy veggies. The other half is two-thirds protein and one third good fats and/or fruit. That’s pretty much it!

8. Inflammation is a key and common evil. Food choices can actually ramp up the inflammatory process which is bad because inflammation is at the root of every disease process. Sugar anFood-talk-4-u-wheat-fieldd grains are the biggest culprits; read: wheat, barley, rye for the inflammatory gluten and corn for the phytates.

9. Strive for nutrient dense foods. Nutrient density relates to higher concentrations of vitamins, minerals, and the essential fatty acids and essential amino acids which we have to get from our diet because our bodies can’t make them. Currently on a fat- free diet? Forget it! You’d be missing out on vital fatty acids that your body demands for proper functioning and certain vitamins must have fat in the diet for their absorption. Proper fat ingestion is vital. The good fats contain a better fat profile than we get from the Standard American Diet. Good fats have more omega-3 fatty acids and can be found in avocados, avocado oil, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, nuts and seeds. Protein ingestion is vital. Strive for clean protein sources that are minimally processed, grass fed if possible, and fresh seafood. There are NO essential carbohydrates; none. So carbohydrate consumption will best serve your body if coming from non-starchy veggies that are packed with nutrients and will not disturb your blood sugar levels.


10. Less exercise can be more! One of my Keystone Habits is doing a bit of exercise during coffee brewing time, and I have learned from many sources that slow-motion exercises can yield a better effect than those done at regular speed, and that fewer repetitions are needed. Works for me! Counter top push-ups and squats are infinitely more effective when done in an 8-8-8 fashion. For a squat: 8 counts down to the squat, 8 counts holding the squat, 8 counts up. You’ll know when to stop, believe me. A few will do! If that becomes easy, just add a small weight which will increase the workload of the muscles; that’s the key: workload, not repetitions.

11. Other possible Keystone Habits. Consider slipping in a daily Food-talk-4-u-waterboost to hydration by drinking a glass or two of water before leaving the bathroom first thing each morning. Try converting other hydration fluids from juices, colas, or coffees to green tea. Green tea contains poly-phenols that help prevent a host of diseases and conditions and also work with the body to burn fat! Try a more concentrated green tea brew to ramp-up consumption of those helpful components. Some experts aim for 10 bags of green tea a day which would necessitate concentration, indeed!

12. Non-starchy green vegetables. I have dedicated a lot of “blog time” Food-talk-4-u-dinnernon-starchy green vegetables and colorful vegetables. Eating non-processed foods necessitates cooking, but I have tried to show that becoming a master chef is not required. Basically doing a light sauté or stir fry in a healthy fat is all that is needed for most vegetables, possibly followed by a light steaming on lower heat with minimal or no added water. Cooking veggies without added water is vital because a good portion of the nutrients leech out into the water, never to be consumed. I still read recipes from those who should know better that call for boiling asparagus, for example. No! No! Just roll those babies around on low to medium heat in some good oil until desired doneness… not mush, but still a little crisp…sort of Al dente! Certainly, sneaking baby spinach or kale into a smoothie is a super easy way to add nutrient-dense goodness in a snap!

2014 is over??

Well, that’s foodtalk4you from 2014 in a condensed form. Next, my editor, Sheree, and I will be working on a free e-booklet of last year’s recipes for easy access. Such a feat will require some diligent work on both our parts…just part of my New Year’s goal to be more useful to you, my dear readers!

Please share this site with a friend or two, so we can reach more people with the message that improved health is within reach without reaching for another pill!

We were Designed for Health!

Claim it and act upon it!


New Year’s Resolutions and Reboots!

Remember “gradual and consistent,” the concept that success comes from consistent small efforts over time will yield greater results versus giant goal-setting?resolutions

With the New Year upon us and with conversations whirling around us about resolutions, it would seem an excellent time to reconsider how we can apply this gradual and consistent concept to our daily health and life issues.

food-talk-4-u-creativeJust because the calendar page now says “2015” does not mean we have to reinvent ourselves. But in looking at the array of life issues we are handling, does it not make sense to make sure our minds and bodies are at their best so we can optimally approach our personal challenges? We cannot be creative, resourceful, cooperative, considerate or anything else we may strive to be if we feel awful physically or mentally.

Want to lose 50 pounds by June? Forget it! Just concentrate on how Food-Talk-4-u-scaleyour next meal looks. Then concentrate on how the next meal after that looks. Want to tone up to wear a smaller size by a particular date? Don’t spend a week shopping for the right exercise clothes; what kind of push-ups or planks are you doing right now?

food-talk-4-u-blood-sugarI think one of the biggest successes at health transformation is balanced blood sugar. This may be of particular importance now as we are coming off of holiday indulgences. Even gluten-free starches can add to the waistline. To paraphrase Dr. Mark Hyman’s article from December 26, 2014, here are three thing that we all can do to help end that need to roam around the kitchen looking for holiday delights.

Broccoli and eggs for breakfast!
Broccoli and eggs for breakfast!

1. Commit to booting unnecessary starch. Carbohydrates are an important macro-nutrient vital to body function, but we need to embrace plant carbohydrates and use nuts and seeds as healthy protein snacks. My immediate goal is to incorporate plant carbohydrates at every meal; half my plate is usually vegetables. Even at breakfast.

Food-Talk-4-u-nut-snackPrior to the holidays, I activated many bags of nuts to prepare for gift-giving and snacking. My recent reading about nuts have again reminded me that daily eating of walnuts is extremely beneficial as an omega-3 and anti-oxidant resource.

See article on activating nuts here.

Green tea permits many health benefits

2. Emphasize water and green tea consumption instead of calorie-laden drinks. Forget thinking artificial sweeteners are a caveat to this rule. There is a host of badness happening with those devils that I will share about in a coming post. At the very least, artificial sweeteners tell your body that glucose is on the way, and it’s not; many studies point to over-eating as a natural response to this conflicting communication with the body.

Food-Talk-4-u-Virgil-plate3. Make sure that every meal has high quality protein; especially the first meal of the day. Protein is a vital macro-nutrient that fills, satisfies, and energizes the body for the rest of the day. Do not start your day on an empty tank! From last night’s leftover meat to eggs, nut, seeds, nut butters, or a protein shake/smoothie, high quality protein will keep you going for hours and eliminate the need to roam to a snack machine. Also, use quality fat to cook that protein such as coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, or ghee. A quarter of an Food-Talk-4-u-Deidre-plateavocado will also augment your power resources as well.

So, how to gradually and consistently apply these guidelines?

Start now! Don’t wait until everything in your kitchen is perfectly aligned or the last slice of (gluten-free) bread has been consumed. Whatever you are going to eat or drink next is what counts. Reflect on the adage from Alcoholics Anonymous, “One day at a time.” How about one meal at a time? One snack at a time? Such next-moment goal setting is a proven winner!

In a restaurant? Wave off the bread food-talk-4-u-One-Day-at-a-Timerolls, peel off the hamburger roll as you eat the insides, double-up on the veggies instead of having a baked potato, choose broiled seafood or fish instead of breaded and fried. You get the picture.

Are you eating Frankenfood?
Are you eating Frankenfood?

In the market? Stick to the perimeter of the store as you choose protein and veggies. Skip the isles which generally carry starchy packages of highly- processed “Frankenfood.” Better yet, stop by the farmer’s market for locally grown veggies picked that morning!

Plan for ease of success. I have really become partial to marathon cooking events. Many families gather in the kitchen during the weekend to share in advanced prep-work and actual cooking for the week’s menu. For instance, someone can peel the meat off Beautiful family cooking togetherof a rotisserie chicken in preparation for lunch boxes. Chicken is easily thrown on a salad for a handy meal at home or at work or school.

Freeze the bones for creating a rich broth (See THE BONES HAVE IT).

Today, I prepared a crock pot full of Italian Meatballs—recipe follows. A family could incorporate these in any number of meals or snacks. I will simply freeze half of them for future use. Gluten-free spaghetti is off the menu for a while, so pairing these meatballs with at least half of a plate of veggies and some good fat will more than fill our tummies.

Tonight, our plates will sport leftover collards, raw broccoli salad, and avocado. Mmmmm. When’s dinner?

Italian Meatballs

Yummy! Italian Meatballs!

For the meatballs:

1(ish) pound of ground turkey

1 pound of sweet Italian ground sausage (I used Johnsonville brand because it’s gluten-free and has the fewest ingredients)

¼ of a red onion minced and divided into 2 portions- one portion for meatballs, one portion for sauce

3 cloves of garlic, minced and divided into 2 portions- one portion for meatballs, one portion for sauce

2 eggs

2 tsp. Italian Seasoning (or to taste)

One handful of fresh parsley, chopped

1/3 cup grated Parmesan and Romano cheese

Few shakes of sea salt to taste

1/3 cup gluten-free Panko, Italian Style (I used Ian’s brand)

For the sauce:

1 tbs. extra virgin olive oil

One portion of the minced onion

One portion of the minced garlic

1 can tomato paste (6 oz.)

2 tomato paste cans of water

1 tsp. gluten-free fish oil (for that “je ne sais pas” or umami effect)

Salt to taste

Pepper to taste

Italian seasoning to taste

1 cup chopped Crimini mushrooms a.k.a Baby Bella mushrooms


Scooping the meat into a ball
Scooping the meat into a ball
Ready for the oven!

Put all meatball ingredients in a large bowl and mix well using gloved hands. Using a 1 ½ inch scoop, push a scoopful of meatball mixture into the side of the bowl to help pack it into shape. Eject the meatball into your other hand to gently finish and place the meatball on an ungreased baking sheet.

The 1.3 lbs. of turkey and 1 lb. of sausage yielded me just shy of 50 meatballs on two cooking sheets. Place cooking sheets into a preheated 350 degree oven or 325 degree convection oven. Roast meatball for 15 minutes, remove pans from oven, turn meatballs over, and return pans to oven for another 15 minutes.

While meatballs are baking, prepare sauce as follows:

Stirring spices into tomato sauce

Gently sauté minced onion in a sauce pan on medium heat for a couple minutes, add minced garlic, and continue cooking for 30 more seconds.

Add tomato paste, 2 cans of water, fish oil, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning.

Adding in mushrooms
Adding in mushrooms

Stir to combine.

Add chopped mushrooms and let mixture simmer.

When meatballs are done roasting, put meatballs and sauce in crock pot, making sure all meatballs have been coated in sauce. Set crock pot on low for longer cooking or on medium or high heat if dinner is to be sooner.