If you buy a butternut squash every year thinking you’ll do something creative with it but don’t…. If that lowly butternut squash just sits on your counter promising to be nothing more than an object you might want to grab in self-defense during a home invasion… Then stay tuned for some great news!
Good. Better. Best. Never let it rest until good is better, and better is best!
Plain butternut squash soup is… good.
Add caramelized onions and garlic to get something… better.
Add anti-inflammatory spices, creamy good-fat from coconut milk, and bone building gelatin, and you’ll have the best steamy bowlful of butternut squash goodness you’ve ever had! It’s the BEST!
Let’s get right to the recipe. This is so easy to do and was a lot less of a mess to do using my immersion blender! Wow! First time using it for creamed soups – no more transfers to the blender and then to another soup pot.
The day before, I sliced a butternut squash lengthwise, scooped out the seeds, and put the cut sides down on to a rack in a baking dish with about ½ inch of water in the bottom. I baked the two halves at 350 degrees until tender enough to easily poke with a cooking fork into the thicker neck section of the squash – about 50 minutes. When cooled enough to handle, I scooped out the flesh and stored it in a container overnight.
Armed with plenty of cooked squash, putting this soup together the next day was a smooth process. Pun intended.
Simply follow the recipe below:
GOOD – BETTER – BEST BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP
Into a large soup pot on medium heat add:
1 yellow onion, chopped*
½ BULB of garlic (that’s about 5-6 cloves), peeled, smashed, and chopped*
Extra Virgin olive oil to cover the bottom of a soup pot
A dollop of grass fed butter for an extra yummy factor (about a Tablespoon or so)
Slowly sauté veggies until clear. Reduce heat and add a tablespoon or two of water to continue cooking to caramelize veggies. This may take 7-10 minutes.
(*) Make sure to let these prepared allium family vegetables rest at least ten minutes before cooking. See my book,Toolkit for Wellness, page 162, to learn why.
Add the following seasonings and ingredients:
2 teaspoons of curry
1 tablespoon of turmeric
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
½ can full fat coconut milk (if the cream is solid, scoop out about half to use and pour about half of the clear fluid into soup pot)
¼ cup of Great Lakes unflavored gelatin, evenly sprinkled over the top of the ingredients
1 – 8 ounce free range chicken broth with about ½ cup of water to rinse out container
Flesh of one baked butternut squash
This is where the fun started for me. Using my trusty immersion blender, I simply blitzed the cooked soup ingredients into creamy wonderfulness. No more using a dripping ladle to fill a blender in small hot batches to blitz, then pour into ANOTHER soup pot to finish. Yay! I can’t recommend my immersion blender enough!
Once the soup was piping hot there was nothing left to do but enjoy!
I’ve worked up my appetite for some healing soup and will be pulling out some of this Good – Better – Best Butternut Squash Soup from the freezer for dinner tonight!
Please let me know how you like this.
Editor’s note: Please CLICK HERE for a printer-friendly “Best Butternut Squash Soup” recipe!
Hello readers! As most of you may have realized, (and by the amount of email I’ve gotten, you have), I have been absent for a short while. This is an attempt to explain my absence. In the same way people can tell a train is headed their way by putting an ear to the rails of the tracks to listen for the vibrations created even miles away, I knew our family focus was moving in this direction. It was just a matter of time. Unfortunately, that time has come.
I felt compelled to publish and market my book, Toolkit for Wellness, over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season just because those rail “vibrations” were getting stronger. “Hurry up!” it said.
Not knowing what my life would look like, I still mapped out a creative pattern for future foodtalk4you postings; and to introduce the concept of a virtual Book Fair that I hoped would become a popular and regular thing. Those plans are still ongoing, just a little slower than expected.
In February and early March, I hesitated to book speaking or book signing dates because “the train” was getting closer. Fortunately, I was able to do a few of those things before everything changed.
On March 21st, I had to summon the Rescue Squad to transport my dear husband of 39 years to the emergency department of our local hospital because he couldn’t breathe – even while on oxygen. An 11-day hospitalization ensued, and we prepared for his return home to a bedroom now equipped with a hospital bed. Twelve days later he was put under hospice care where he remains today.
The “train” is definitely traveling through our lives right now. We don’t know how long this train is, we only know that we will be walking through each train car in succession until it passes completely by.
There are so many helping us through this journey. Your thoughts, prayers, visits, and hugs are evidence of God’s sustaining love. Hospice and home-help aides are making our struggles and burdens lighter.
We have learned not to fret about decisions anymore because each decision that troubled us in advance was answered by the gradual unfolding of events.
In so doing, we are seeing everything happening in its natural order. Unfortunate and sad, to be sure, but I am comforted by keeping the image of a beautiful flower as it gradually opens up, petal by petal, revealing a glorious creation in full bloom.
As the declines come, my beloved is being supported by the sunshine and fresh air of love, gentleness, and kind, compassionate care.
Strangely enough, I have been able to share the message of foodtalk4you and Toolkit for Wellness to many of the health care providers who have come our way. Even my tax accountant was glad to hear of a gluten free/anti-inflammatory diet that would help eliminate his psoriasis like it has done for another friend of mine.
Thank you, readers, for your patience and understanding. I am so grateful I have family and friends who are helping us through this difficult time of transition and grief. As you can see, all priorities have shifted, so things will remain quieter from my little corner of the world. Hopefully, we will continue to post new articles that you will find helpful and interesting. We are lining up a few guest writers who have some very good information for you. Our plan, at this point, is to carry on as well as we can. Thank you so much for your understanding.
As with any new post, if you are signed up as a subscriber, (Put your email address in the box on our front page-left side,) you will get an alert telling you we have a new post, just like before. As I’ve said in the past, we NEVER sell or even let anyone see your email address except Sheree or myself. So please don’t worry you’ll be spammed. You can also cancel at any time, whenever you wish. We can still be friends!
God bless all of you who seek out better standards for yourselves and a healthier lifestyle. We’re gonna get through this!
“To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.”
As a National Board Certified Teacher, I was well acquainted with flash cards. The students loved them. A flash card is the only way to learn facts, in my opinion. I have also used them to benefit my meditative time. Positive messages, or affirmations, are also a hot topic for: stress reduction, calming down before bed to get better sleep, mindfully starting the day, and putting your consciousness and faith in the right place.
These flash cards are near and dear to my heart. They came about as a result of reading Dr. Norman Vincent Peale’s book, The Power of Positive Thinking. His up-lifting Bible quotes and affirmations that he penned or quoted from others so moved me that I wrote them down on pretty square sheets of paper.
Around the time of my retirement in 2012, I felt a need to shore my spirit up with affirmations that would sustain me through a waiting period before some much needed major surgery. Contrary to what I thought, I was not going to just ‘have my usual care-free summer’ then have my surgery in late August. No. My physical activity ground to a near halt. My spirit wanted me to hustle around walking along the beach, straightening up the house in anticipation of a post-surgical healing period, and tucking away teaching mementos.
It seems that patience is a life lesson that I keep having to work on. It’s a recurring personal theme. Anyway, to get myself in the right frame of mind, going through these affirmations was pure gold. After using these precious squares of wisdom and calm on a daily basis, somehow they got shuffled off into a drawer.
Recently, a friend of mine was facing some major surgery herself, and was a bit tearful about the whole thing. This had been something she had vowed she did not want to do, but do she must. When trying to console her and give her my prayers for peace and a successful outcome, I remembered these gems. How I wished I could have handed them to her!
I had needed my surgery badly, too, and was happily anticipating the day of its arrival. After a recovery period of several months, I was going to be and feel so much better. When waking up from the anesthetic, the first thing I said was, “I’m so happy!” I was so happy for the waiting to be over and so happy to start my recovery, but still in need of my affirmations! Recovery can be maddeningly slow.
There is that lesson in patience, again. Without these little gems, I would have gone out of my mind before and/or after my surgery.
We do not need to be getting ready for surgery, though, to benefit from daily affirmations. They are a great way to start, finish, or revive during the day.
These affirmations would be best printed by you on some pretty paper. Choose your favorite color or find a great floral print or gentle pattern that would not take away from the message on them. So, print your set; there are 8 pages. Each page has lines for you to cut them out. I do keep mine in a certain order because the flow of thought works well for me. You’ll notice there are some blanks on page 8 and a full blank page for 9 so you can add your own.
How to use your affirmations:
The whole idea behind putting these on ‘cards’ and not just printing them out as a list is to give us an opportunity to mindfully read and reflect on each one; taking time to consider, ponder, and apply its truth.
Many of these are Bible quotes that may appear to repeat, but the message is from a different source. Sometime we need repetition. The one about the ‘rough being a state of mind’ is in reference to golfing. When the ball lands in the rough, it is our mindset that controls how “doomed” we feel. It’s not being Pollyanna, it’s being optimistic and embracing a can-do spirit. Mindset is everything.
CLICK BELOW FOR FREE AFFIRMATION FLASH CARDS!! (.pdf format). You can download and print them off!
Are the basic tenets of personal wellness slipping as the hustle and bustle of the holiday season reaches a fever pitch? Add the daily responsibilities of work, family, and household needs, and we have a recipe for feeling over-whelmed and out of control. Just the opposite of what we want to be about! Let’s rein in this downward spiral by taking just a few minutes to return to the basics.
What are the basics?
As discussed in my new book, Toolkit for Wellness – Master Your Health and Stress Response for Life, before leaping into drastic changes in order to be “more healthy,” a few mindful steps must occur.
B-R-E-A-T-H-E and connect with yourself and your creator…
Amidst the hustle of publishing my book and the increasing responsibilities as a care-giver, I was just as guilty of dropping my stress-reducing practices as anyone else might. Today, that stopped.
Coffee brewing time exercises continued as usual; but calming breathing time and connecting time had slipped by the wayside.
I mean, if I don’t take five minutes for this, what’s the point to living?
So, sit down by the window if it’s too cold or wet to be outside and do the following:
• Close your eyes
• Rest your hands palm side up on your knees to be open to the universe
• Take several mindful breaths – feel the air enter, circle around your lungs, and exit gently
• Think only on the movement of air within you – if thoughts creep in, gently release them
• Acknowledge there have been times when you strove to be in total control and the sole source of power – sort of like relying upon a paper match that only dimly lights and is soon consumed; when, in fact, you should have plugged in to the Power of the Universe instead
• Connect with your “Forever Power Source” to recharge, praise, and seek guidance
• Renew you commitment to working with your body as a team. We all want our bodies to work properly 100% of the time, but are we fueling it properly 100% of the time? Knowing our cars won’t work properly to get us to our destinations if they are not properly maintained and filled with the proper fuel, how can we expect our bodies to get us there if we ignore how we treat and fuel them? At what point today do you not care if your body is functioning properly?
• Remember Thanksgiving! We should count our blessings every day; be thankful you have been equipped to meet the needs of this moment and this day
These basic steps to starting the day take just a very few minutes and will help us all refocus and keep our inner selves on track, even while we do the many extra activities that come with the holidays. These basics may also help us redefine what is really important and what is worthy of our time!
To a calmer, more centered December!
Toolkit for Wellness is available as an eBook on Amazon for just $0.99 until December 24th! Just click on the tab under the banner to buy it.
Paperback version is going to be out very soon! I know many of you prefer holding an actual book! Not only will it be nice to have something to hold, but many of you have also said it will make a perfect gift to give this year! I’ll keep you posted about it.
This is a birth announcement! Toolkit for Wellness, Master Your Health and Stress Response for Life, is now on Amazon for FREE in its eBook version! Weighing in at 237 pages, it’s already at the top of 2-3 growth charts – depending on which ones Amazon displays! Loyal readers, please help me spread the word to others that improved health is just one easy breath, one anti-inflammatory meal, and one movement away. Help yourself and others know what tiny, daily steps can be taken, which are easily repeatable, and will pave the way to a healthier life.
How to help? Download your FREE copy today or tomorrow and share this opportunity with your friends. You do not even have to own a Kindle; there is a button to push that will enable you to download your copy of Toolkit for Wellness to ANY device!
If you miss the FREE days, don’t worry, Toolkit for Wellness eBook will be just $0.99 until Christmas!
To make sure you take advantage of this exclusive offer, CLICK HERE!
I know most of you want a paper copy as well. The soft cover version will be released VERY soon. There will be plenty of time to get your copies before Christmas. What could be a greater gift for someone than a ‘toolkit’ they can easily, naturally, and successfully use every day for their life-long health!
There will be a book signing in New Bern, North Carolina. Date, time, and location to be announced!
Thanks for everyone’s support in this huge project!
My absolute favorite morning routine sets me up for greeting the new day with renewed and centered energies. Whenever possible, this is what sets me on a great path. I call this a “Series of Good Things.” We started talking about this in the fall series of Designed for Health classes, and with my deeper understanding of habits and habit formation, it is all coming together for me with positive results.
Let me share:
Rise and shine at the same time each day! In doing so, I am waking naturally a few minutes before my gentle phone alarm announces itself. With more consistent bedtimes, waking up is not so problematic. Sleeping in has robbed me of too many retirement mornings, and I regret it when I do. No. Getting up at a consistent time is my first good thing.
Drinking that first full cup of cold water right after swishing out the “cob webs” from my mouth is good thing number two. Start the day with the best “hydrater” of all: water.
If my husband is up, I will make the bed on my way to the closet to dress. Good thing number three. The bedroom is neat and I am already on a roll!
Moving into the kitchen, I pass the refrigerator first, so I grab my cold Bragg’s apple cider vinegar from the door, pour a tablespoon-full into a glass, add about 6 ounces of water, and chug. This is a personal experiment; many in my spring Designed for Health class are doing it for cholesterol benefits. My research has netted a zero on scientifically proven health benefits except for well-documented benefit of improved blood sugars. I am doing it to add acid to my stomach in hopes to improve some reflux issues. While we refer to acid reflux, often it can be a result of not enough acid in the stomach. We will see. No harm for sure, and – hey- that’s more water! Good thing number four.
Then, I have to start my day feeding my menagerie of birds and squirrels! Watching their antics off the back porch is our major amusement and delight. That’s number five.
Taking a few deep, mindful, meditative breaths while pausing to sit on the porch swing helps me calmly set myself up for a new day. “Thank you, God, for this new day; thank you, Lord, in every way for your blessings great and small; make me a blessing to others this day. Amen.” Six.
Then, while the coffee or tea is brewing, number seven is my favorite to check off because, not only do I enjoy doing this, but getting to it can be hard for me. Plank time! Starting with a child’s pose to stretch my lower back, I move forward to do my two minutes of planks: full body plank followed by a “restful” half-plank from the knees.
The rest of coffee brewing time is dedicated to slow motion squats, kitchen-counter slow motion push-ups, palms up arm circles, ballet-bar style toe points to the front, side, and back: very good for balance. That is number eight!
Bing, bing, bing! Coffee’s ready! That’s number nine!
So – exercise minimums are met, bed is made, water is drunk, nature is fed; well… it’s a series of good things!
To keep that good vibe, I make sure half of my breakfast plate is veggies! Leftovers work great as a side to my two eggs or they can be scrambled together as a frittata. If all else fails, after frying the bacon and before cooking the eggs, I will grab a giant handful of greens to sauté with a bit of good oil (coconut, avocado, or olive). That’s number ten!
I hope that you, too, have a “series of good things” you are doing for yourself each day. Please share them with me!
To summarize some good things we have covered here and in class about improving our over-all wellness:
1. Mindful breathing
2. Gratitude each day
3. Drink some extra water
4. Taper-off and eliminate added sugars
5. Eat real food. Eat food without labels!
6. Half of your plate each meal should be (mostly green) veggies
7. Use good fats- butter and ghee from pastured cows, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado oil
8. Supplements should include Vitamin-D, omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics, and magnesium with your calcium
9. Toss the grains- they cause inflammation seen and unseen, and work against vitamin and mineral absorption
10. You may also want to toss the legumes: dried beans and peanuts- because they can have an adverse effect on digestion, can block absorption of vitamins and minerals, and can be inflammatory
11. Keep a regular bedtime and get enough sleep
12. Move and stretch your body every day. I have just started weekly Yin Yoga classes and am just loving it! More restful sleep; greater inner awareness and calm; and a more balanced feeling.
13. Set tiny, repeatable “tweaks” to move yourself toward better wellness.
14. Simplify, simplify, simplify!
15. Rather than getting more “stuff,” gather experiences in your life!
As I concentrate on finalizing my book, preparing single day seminars, and simplifying my own possessions by cleaning and tossing out, I will be taking a bit of a blogging sabbatical. There may be the occasional summer recipe or thought, but I am going to practice what I preach by simplifying and daily application of things that make our ultimate goals come true!
What do I mean? Isn’t fruit full of goodness all by itself? You bet! I am not even going to try to enumerate all of the nutrient rich benefits there are in different berries, apples, and such, lest I leave something out!
But what if we could stir something up that expanded on the nutrient-richness of fruit? How about a truckload of omega 3 fatty acids? How about some collagen joint care? How about protein? Well, I’ve done it! All without added sugar of any kind if you don’t want; and if you do, a small dab of honey.
This warm fruit compote will delight your senses, build strong bones, provide satisfying protein, and increase your omega 3 fatty acid intake. Wow! Let’s get to it!
Warm Fruit Compote
1-3 Tbs. coconut oil depending upon amount of fruit. I used 3 Tbs
. for this quantity pictured
1 gala apple, peeled, cored, and chopped into fairly small pieces
1 Bartlett pear, peeled, cored, and chopped into fairly small pieces
Assortment of frozen berries- today I used probably over 2 cups plus
a few slices of frozen peach
Pinch of salt
Cinnamon to taste- a “sweet spice” that can enhance fruit without the need for sugar. Cinnamon also helps control blood sugar levels
Powdered grass-fed gelatin
Ground flax seed
Optional- only if your fruit is sour- a spoonful of honey stirred in at the end
Melt the coconut oil in an enamel non-stick sauté pan and add all of the prepared fruit over medium heat. Generously sprinkle the cinnamon, gelatin, and ground flax seed over the top of the fruit. Add a pinch of salt.
As the mixture warms and begins to get juicy, gently stir.
Both the gelatin and the flax will thicken this mixture as the fruit releases its bounteous moisture. If your fruit compote is too runny, just sprinkle on more gelatin and/or more flax. Lower heat a bit to continue cooking without bubbling.
This refrigerates well and can be eaten warm, cold, or at room temperature. This is my go-to evening snack. So satisfying, filling, good for you and not sugary!
There are just some things we always need to keep around and canned salmon is very high on my list! Ever had one of those days when you just wanted to pull something together really quick with little fuss?
Well, this could be the answer for you!
But what to call them? Maybe they are just humble patties. You know, like a hamburger patty; plop them on a grill or throw them into a pan….few minutes on each side…dinner is served. Last year, I may have briefly described my creation without benefit of a recipe as a “fritter.” Sounded more colorful; a little regional, perhaps. Countrified. Then, this month’s Southern Living magazine had a recipe for “Salmon Croquettes” which really looked like MY patties… or…fritters!
Goggling the moniker dilemma just sort of muddied things up. Both croquettes and fritters, apparently, are deep fried. Nay! Nay! Even Southern Living did not deep fry its croquettes! They are both also dipped in egg and breaded before frying.
Please, so much messy work!
So, I am left with my humble patties. “Croquettes” just sounds like a restaurant raising their price on patties by calling them something elite. “Fritters” just sounds….I don’t know, maybe deep fried in a converted gas station come greasy spoon restaurant.
I did not have the Greek yogurt Southern Living mentioned to fix up as a dipping sauce which I have done in the past; fortunately, these patties remained quite moist and did not demand a sauce. I will give you some ideas for the sauce, though. Cool thing is, this recipe can be adapted to a variety of ingredients at hand and measuring is not a must at all.
Southern Living’s recipe called for 2 – 14.75 oz. cans of salmon; I used just one. They called for 4 eggs which I actually used between 2 to 4, but I compensated by adding ¼ cup of coconut flour!
Unfortunately, I did not take pictures of this actual process and all the evidence is eaten, but I did have a couple file photos of a similar recipe to share. So here it goes from my memory for the Best Ever Salmon Patties!
Best Ever Salmon Patties
1 (14.75 oz.) can salmon, drained
1 large celery stalk, finely chopped
3-4 green onions, chopped with green stalks
3 mini multi-colored bell peppers, finely chopped
½ small can water chestnuts, finely chopped
2 – 4 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. dill weed
Approx. ¼ cup coconut flour, as needed. to make the patties “stick” together
Beat eggs in a large bowl.
Add the remaining ingredients, except the coconut flour, and mix well to combine. I do this with my hands while wearing latex free gloves.
Add the coconut flour if the mixture is too moist and needs some ‘glue’ to stick together.
Using your gloved hands, form mixture into approximately 1/2 cup patties, pressing firmly to mold.
Pan fry the patties on medium heat using about 2 Tbs. good oil of choice: olive oil, avocado oil, or coconut oil. When the edges start looking a little crispy, flip patties over. Cooking time should be 2-3 minutes on each side.
Ingredient ideas for dipping sauces:
Using a base of plain Greek yogurt add:
Dijon mustard, dill weed, lemon zest, lemon juice, pinch of ground red pepper
Or in a blender or food processor combine the following with the yogurt:
English cucumber, dill, salt, pepper for a Greek flair
Ingredients are easily substituted and swiped out. When there is fresh parsley around, I always add it for added spunk and flakes of greenness. No water chestnuts? Leave them out! I just happened to have a few green onions that needed to be used up; any kind of onion could be used.
Just keep a few cans of salmon around to “save the day.”
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It is so economical of time and effort to engage in periodic cook-a-thons; they save on food prep and clean-up time. Such was yesterday afternoon when my kitchen was all about carrots—shredded carrots. No use dirtying up the food processor three separate times … just do it all in one day and create three nutritious recipes!
1 broccoli crown- stem removed and tiny florets created
2 celery stalks, sliced lengthwise and cut into small ¼ inch pieces
¼ red bell pepper, sliced lengthwise and cut into small thin slices
¼ cup red onion cut into thin semi-circular slices
1 cup shredded carrots
Handful of Craisins (cranberry raisins)
2 slices of bacon cooked and crumbled
Just enough mayonnaise to “glue” things together. I use Duke’s because it has the fewest number of ingredients and no high fructose corn syrup.
1 Tbs. coconut milk
Start with maybe a 1/3-1/2 cup mayonnaise, stir in the coconut milk to thin it, and season with salt and pepper.
Toss all ingredients into mayonnaise mixture, adjust seasonings, and enjoy!
Shredded carrots—quantity is up to you
Handful of golden raisins
Minimum quantity of mayonnaise
1 Tbs. of coconut milk to thin the mayonnaise
Thin the mayonnaise with coconut milk and season with salt. Add carrots and raisins. Combine well. Adjust seasoning.
Carrot Pear Nut Muffins
About 2 cups shredded carrots
1 pear, shredded
½ tsp. Anise seed
½ cup coconut flour
1 cup hazelnut flour
Hand-full of activated walnuts (remember: soaked and dehydrated)
½ tsp vanilla
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup sugar
2 Tbs. coconut oil, melted
Put carrots, pear, anise seeds, salt, both flours, nuts, and melted oil into a large bowl and combine well.
Whip eggs with a whisk, add brown sugar and vanilla and whisk to combine well. Pour wet ingredients into carrot mixture and mix well. If the batter is too wet, add a bit more coconut flour 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring well after each spoonful.
Put batter into a greased muffin pan or use baking cup liners. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven or 325 degree convection oven for 25-30 minutes until toothpick can come out clean once inserted into the middle of a muffin. Yield: one dozen.
All a part of a well-rounded dinner: raw broccoli salad, raw carrot salad, one muffin, sliced left-over steak with sautéed mushrooms, onion, and bell pepper. Even Mr. Virgil liked the muffins…They were sweet enough for him even though they are super low sugar! Yay!
Best wishes for successful cooking! Remember to breathe, walk in the sunshine and fresh air, do a few slow-motion squats and counter top push-ups. It’s been a few days since the last time I did those moves and after just five or six “slo-mo” squats and push-ups, I feel decidedly more invigorated and tighter around the tummy! So little work and so much benefit!
Remember “gradual and consistent,” the concept that success comes from consistent small efforts over time will yield greater results versus giant goal-setting?
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.
Just 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 your 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?
I 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.
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.
Prior 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.
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.
3. 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 avocado 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 rolls, 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.
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 of 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.
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?
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 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
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:
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.
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.