Posts Tagged ‘routine’

Want to reframe? Make a small change!

November 25th, 2016 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I have written many times that it’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad Mad world. Last season it was BREXIT, this season the Gong Show to the south….. Somehow it feels like it’s the end of the world, good grief. Quite serendipitously, I was hanging out in the Algarve, Portugal where centuries ago it was believed that the world was flat. I stood near that very edge, hmmmm.

Alas, I decided to crawl out from under the bed and face the world again. Sometimes when you feel there is little you can control, taking charge even in a small way can be uplifting. We’re staring down yet another Christmas season, followed by New Years resolution time. I say get back to that 100 Meal Journey started this past March and make a little change for the better. Are you with me?

Truth be told, I was so enthusiastic about the whole 100 Meal Journey concept that as March meandered to April, May, June with a fast forward to today the cumulative changes made have me feeling better, more energized and in better shape. Consider these ideas:

Be Adventurous
Who doesn’t love an adventure let alone someone who is adventurous? Gear up to trying something new.  Try a new recipe, such as Tangine cooking or this savoury tomato soup served with gourmet grilled cheese. How about some yummy satisfying salads to enjoy for lunch instead of fast food. Check out even more ideas.

Seal it with a KISS – better Hunger Management
Keep it simple, sweetie! Start by managing your hunger better. NO you are not going to start a diet – coconut water, eating raw or a cleanse are NOT what’s on tap now or ever. Avert your thoughts from dieting for good!
1) More Protein & Fibre at Meals – Instead of taking away food which will make you hungry, add in satisfying choices that help manage hunger optimally and make you feel fuller longer. Work in more dairy products at meals or snacks. Add nuts and/or seeds to salads. Use dinner leftovers of meat, fish or chicken in lunches in wraps or sandwiches. Include eggs as a powerhouse of protein. Up the ante on using more pulses like chick peas or lentils and choose whole grains more often.

2) Slow Down Your Eating Pace – Doing the “whoa horsey” by slowing down, tasting and enjoying food is essential. Experiencing the feeling of fullness and stopping when you begin to feel satisfied, instead of eating like a buzz saw will help you eat less almost effortlessly.

3) Strategic Snacking – If you find you’re usually ravenous at mealtime, work in a small snack or two each day in-between meal to help take the edge off. Managing your hunger more strategically will help you slow down your pace too. Forget the vending machine and choose a fresh fruit, some cut up veggies or have a handful of unsalted nuts as your perfect go-to snack.

Awareness is Bliss
Time for a reality check! Get back to facing the scale and weighing yourself regularly. Then make a routine of checking the number a few times each week. Awareness (not ignorance) is bliss!

Remember folks, one month meanders into another, then seasons come and go. We’re staring down another new year. Take it easy on yourself and embrace a small change for the next 100 meals to a healthier you. Today is a perfect day to press the re-start button!

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Unchain the Nutrition Facts, Chain Restaurants!

April 15th, 2016 No Comments Tags: , , , , , ,

I woke up this morning reading about “….why health advocates want calorie counts on your menu and in your face” on the CBC website. Ahhh yes, my favourite subject “menu labelling” on a sunny Friday. Who needs an espresso to wake up with when there’s a headline like that – thank you world!

Fact: Ontario chain restaurants must post calorie counts on menus by 2017. In my opinion this move is ‘good from far, but FAR from good’. Hear me out will you??

Food Package Labelling – Canadians and Americans have been exposed to and are used to having the accessible array of nutritional information on food package labels for over a decade. Industry’s argument that giving more information than only calories will cause confusion is a foot dragging tactic that makes no sense whatsoever. This information is NOT new. As a consumer and health expert, I’m left scratching my head wondering why the food package sector needs to disclose all of this information and the fast food sector does not. There are people who want this information, need it and use it.

Why is the Fast Food Sector exempt? Because of this lack of convenient disclosure of nutritional information, the fast food sector is like the wild west. If you have read any of my posts on this topic one thing will jump out at you in spades: the numbers are absurdly astronomical. Check these posts out: Mulling Over Menus; Blizzard to Cool You; Summertime ScoopAwareness is Bliss. When this array of information is eventually disclosed in an open and user-friendly fashion, this sector will be motivated to reformulate their offerings. So mandating disclosure of this information is good for consumers who seek it and good for everyone else because in time I’d wager many of the offerings’ nutritional info will improve and be easier to swallow…. on many levels.

Multiple Health Epidemics – You have been living under a rock if you didn’t know our world is facing multiple health epidemics. Knowing how many calories is in your food is a start, but we need full disclosure of chain restaurant offerings, the same as what’s on the food labels – why should we expect any less as consumers? The industry will argue about how difficult it is to make this info available. Please! Yes it’s true a menu cannot post nutrition facts tables with their menu board. Given human ingenuity however, I’d wager we can come up with a solution that is doable.

Consumers’ Changing Habits – Convenience and Fast Food – We know that consumers’ habits have changed dramatically being time starved and seeking convenience. We also know that people are eating out more and more where it has become routine and not just a treat. Because of this people really need to know what’s in their food if they want it. As I have often said – awareness is bliss. Anyone who has driven by a fast food restaurant at dawn or dusk has seen the drive thru line snake out of the parking lot. I don’t think the cars are empty, do you?

So folks, we need to keep banging the gong on this one. We deserve to know what’s in our food, the same information that is available on food package labels. Don’t settle for anything less.

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Say You Want an Evolution…. Not a Revolution!

April 1st, 2016 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , ,

Did you take part in a 100 meal journey in March by making a small nourishing change? You probably heard that we eat about 100 meals in a month, so making one small lasting change that you stick with is a bigger deal than you think. It is certainly a fabulous start to a healthier you! It wasn’t painful whatsoever choosing one small change to stick with, was it? I chose trying a new recipe each week, how about you?

If you sailed through your 100 meal journey, consider making another new small change for April. Get inspired by another idea from my past 5 blog posts. Spring has sprung! Many of us wake up post winter hibernation and feel the need to start a diet revolution to right all of the couch-potato wrongs from last season. Nay nay I say, look forward, don’t look back!

Instead of starting a revolution, continue your 100 meal journey which is a lifestyle evolution. Make a small change and work on making it stick each month. If you continue this non-painstaking journey for an entire year you will have made 12 changes that contribute to your health and wellbeing. That’s pretty significant stuff when you stack them all up! If you want to take on a bit more than 1 change a month consider trying my 3 x 3 and you will take it a manageable notch up to keep the momentum going. Making any more changes at the same time than that can be overwhelming and difficult to stick with over time.

Don’t be like Che Guavera and start a revolution! Make it an evolution! Send in the reinforcements and read Skinny on Slim.

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Week 5: Make Small Changes Stick this #NutritionMonth!

March 25th, 2016 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Lack of time, eating out, holidays, stress? We all have challenges that can sidetrack our healthy eating plans. Here are some strategies to help your small changes stick.

Planning how you’ll manage healthy-eating roadblocks before they happen is key to success.
Setbacks on a journey to healthier habits are a normal part of making changes. Knowing what some of your challenges are can help you be ready to deal with them. Get ready with a plan to manage detours:
• Think about what might get in your way of healthy eating.
• Brainstorm solutions to get around roadblocks.
• Put supportive strategies in place. Recruit family and friends to help on your path to a healthy you.
A slip in healthy eating habits is a learning opportunity. When it happens, review your plan, adjust as needed and get back on track.
For help staying motivated, get eaTracker at: www.eatracker.ca

Short on time? Be prepared with nourishing grab ‘n’ go foods, like yogurt, nuts and fruit.
Eating well doesn’t need to take a lot of time. A little planning helps you eat healthy, even on the run:
• Stock your kitchen with good-for-you snacks, like veggies, fruit, yogurt, cheese, hard-boiled eggs, seeds and whole grain crackers.
• Cook big batches of soup, stew or chili on weekends, then take a welcome cooking break on busy weekdays.
• Cook once. Eat twice. Make more food than you need for one meal and reinvent it for another.
• Shop for healthier convenience foods, such as frozen or pre-cut vegetables, plain frozen fish fillets, shredded cheese and canned lentils.

Stressed? Bored? Sad? Eating for reasons other than hunger can lead to mindless munching.
Do you ever find yourself eating, even when you’re not hungry? Do you eat when you are bored or distracted, like when watching TV? Do you eat to deal with stress or emotions? If so, you may be eating more than you think.
If you’re a mindless muncher, try putting these savvy strategies in place:
• Reduce boredom, sadness or stress by taking a brisk walk instead of nibbling.
• Eat mindfully. Don’t eat distracted. Make mealtimes screen-free, eat away from your desk and don’t snack while watching TV.

Menu minefield! Check restaurant nutrition info online to make better choices.
Eating out healthy can be challenging when faced with big portions, too few vegetables, indulgent desserts and too much fat, sugar and salt. Make better choices with these tips:
• Choose small or half-portions or save part of a big entrée for another meal.
• Ask for extra veggies on your wrap, pizza or burger. Replace white rice or pasta side dishes with steamed veggies.
• Ask for dressings and sauces on the side and add just enough for flavour.
• Love dessert? Go mini or get one dessert and several forks so you can share the great taste.

A dietitian can help you to get back on healthy-eating track! To find a dietitian in your area, visit www.dietitian.ca/find.

Adapted from The Dietitians of Canada’s Nutrition Month Campaign Materials. Find more information about Nutrition Month at: www.nutritionmonth2016.ca

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Week 2: Power Up Your Plate this #NutritionMonth!

March 4th, 2016 No Comments Tags: , , , , ,

When it comes to food choices, quality counts. Nourishing foods promote health and can help you feel your best. Take small steps to bump up the quality of your meals and snacks: get clever with cooking, swap in nutrient-rich choices and enjoy deliciously healthy foods. Here are some tips to get you started.

Jump-start your day! Power through your morning by eating a good breakfast.
A nourishing breakfast gives you a fuel boost plus protein and fibre to help you stay alert and avoid mid-morning munchies.
In a hurry?
• Blend frozen berries, yogurt and milk for a super smoothie. Make it even better with baby spinach and ground flax.
• Wrap peanut butter, a banana and trail mix in a whole-grain tortilla for a portable, crunchy breakfast.
Got time?
• Make a burrito with scrambled egg, lentils or soft tofu, sautéed red pepper, avocado and salsa wrapped in a warm tortilla.
• Top French toast with yogurt, sunflower seeds and warm sautéed apple slices.

Forget the food court! Pack good food fast with “planned extra” leftovers for lunch.
Packing lunch is a healthy, budget-friendly habit. Keep it simple: reinvent “planned extra” leftovers for a lunch that’s way better than the food court. Try these tasty ideas:
• Cook extra chicken for dinner. For lunch, wrap chicken in soft tacos, with crunchy cabbage and shredded carrots, a sprinkle of feta and big squeeze of juicy lime.
• Roast extra root veggies. Layer them on crusty whole grain bread with hummus and baby spinach for a scrumptious sandwich.
• Toss extra cooked whole-wheat pasta, couscous or barley with pesto, cherry tomatoes, lentils and small cheese chunks for a protein-packed salad.

Swap your sip! Sugary and creamy drinks pack a calorie punch.
Your best choice for quenching thirst? Water! Add zing with mint, berries or citrus wedges. Carry a water bottle and keep it fresh all day. Swap your sip with these tips:
• Choose fizzy water with a tangy citrus twist instead of sugary pop.
• Like a latte? Filled with nutrient-rich, hydrating milk, lattes can be a good choice. Go plain, without sugary syrups or whipped cream. Try decaf to cut caffeine.
• Tea lover? Try hot or iced black, green or herbal teas without added white sugar or honey. Enjoy the taste of the tea itself.

Trade your treat! Pack nutrient-rich snacks so you can steer clear of the vending machine.
Nourishing snacks satisfy hunger between meals. To stay energized and satisfied, snack smart with small, portions of nutrient-rich foods. Treat your tastebuds with these good-for-you snacks:
• Fresh veggies + garlicky black bean dip
• A crisp apple + a couple pieces of tangy old cheddar cheese
• Crunchy roasted chickpeas + a sprinkle of dark chocolate chips
• A couple of naturally sweet dates filled with almond butter

Clever cooking! Flavour food with tangy citrus, fresh herbs and fragrant spices.
There are lots of simple ways to cook healthy without sacrificing taste. Try these tips to add flavour to meals:
• Add pizzazz to plain grains and pulses by cooking barley, brown rice or lentils in low-sodium broth.
• Stir ½ to 1 cup of canned pumpkin or mashed sweet potato into muffin batter for a veggie boost.
• Make a luscious mashed potato with roasted garlic, a little olive oil and warm milk.
• Purée vegetable soups, such as potato, sweet potato or broccoli, with low-sodium broth for deliciously creamy texture and taste.

For delicious recipes with a healthy twist, visit: www.cookspiration.com. How’s your 100 meal journey going?

Adapted from The Dietitians of Canada’s Nutrition Month Campaign Materials. Find more information about Nutrition Month at: www.nutritionmonth2016.ca

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Week 1: Start a 100 Meal Journey this #NutritionMonth!

February 26th, 2016 No Comments Tags: , , , , ,

Eating well can boost your health and help you feel your best. Want to eat better? Instead of trying to change everything at once, take a 100 Meal Journey. We eat about 100 meals in a month, so focus on making a small, lasting change and stick with it… one meal at a time. March is Nutrition Month, so now is a perfect time to join in!

Committing to make a healthy change is a great first step. Take a week to get prepared. Try some tips for choosing change, setting goals and putting strategies in place to support your 100 Meal Journey.

Pledge to make a small, nourishing change and stick with it, one meal at a time.
Too many changes at once can be overwhelming and hard to keep up. It’s better to make one nourishing change that sticks.

First, choose your change. Think about your eating habits. Where can you make a positive, easy change? Here are some ideas that can make a big difference:
• Fill more of your plate with vegetables.
• Choose whole grain instead of white bread.
• Serve smaller portions, start by using a smaller plate.
• Enjoy fruit for snacks instead of sweet or salty treats.
• Drink water in place of sugary beverages, like pop.
Then, set small goals, get ready for action and join other Canadians on a 100 Meal Journey.
Pledge here: www.NutritionMonth2016.ca

Pantry raid! Take stock of your cupboards, fridge and freezer. Add foods to nourish your 100 Meal Journey.
Making nourishing meals and snacks is easier when you have healthy foods on hand. Get your kitchen ready for action with these good-for-you foods:
• Vegetables and fruit: fresh or plain frozen, dried and canned
• Whole grains: oats, barley, quinoa, pasta, cereals, crackers, breads
• Milk products: milk, cheese, yogurt, kefir
• Nuts, seeds and nut butters: pumpkin seeds, flax, natural peanut butter
• Canned and dried pulses: lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans
• Eggs: whole or cartons of eggs or egg whites
• Fish: plain frozen fish fillets, canned tuna or salmon
• Meat and poultry: fresh cuts of red meat, turkey, chicken

Change your eating environment. Add healthy cues, like a bowl of fresh fruit on the kitchen counter.
Look around your house, workplace, car or anywhere you might be eating. Are there cues, like candy bowls and cookie jars, that hinder healthy habits? Redesign your environment with healthy cues to prompt good choices. Try these ideas:
• Put a bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter. Keep all other food in the fridge or cupboards.
• Keep a reusable water bottle on your desk so it’s ready for sipping instead of sugary drinks.
• Store nourishing snacks, like cut up veggies, handy at eye level in your fridge. Put tempting treats at the back of the cupboard.

Mull all of this over and choose 1 easy thing to change, make a commitment by taking the pledge and stick with it throughout March. I pledged to try a new recipe each week throughout March. What will you pledge?

Adapted from The Dietitians of Canada’s Nutrition Month Campaign Materials. Find more information about Nutrition Month at: www.nutritionmonth2016.ca

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Activity level’s up a notch, thanks Apple Watch!

December 16th, 2015 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Thought I’d give an update on the Apple Watch I’ve been sporting since May. I have been wearing it religiously, despite it not always matching my outfits. My relationship with it has been growing stronger. Truth be told, I thought the novelty would have worn off by now. I’m happy to report that it hasn’t.

I wrote about it back in June: A Wee Nudge to Help Me Budge. I particularly liked the Activity App with friendly reminders to help get and keep me moving. My schedule over the past 6 months have put a proverbial monkey wrench in my routine with travels galore. This could wreak havoc on anyone’s routine, but the friendly reminders on my watch kept me moving even for short bursts wherever I have been.

When I browse my calendar I realize that one thing my routine lacks is well…..a routine. This is where the Activity Apps on the Apple Watch keep me mindful of making the most of each day to get me moving whatever I’m doing. The prompts shift with your varied routine.

Activity App to Nudge You – The Activity feature touts “Live a better day by achieving 3 daily fitness goals.” These include goals to move (in calories), to exercise (in time) and to stand for one minute (number of times/day).

The first day I wore it I received a gentle nudge on my wrist with a message “Time to stand up!” When I did it, I received a congratulatory message “You did it!” There are varied prompts that focus on one of the 3 goals depending on your day. When I was captive on a train ride from Vancouver to Toronto that chugged from Friday night to Tuesday morning the prompts focused on my standing goal. These nudged me to try to move, even a little, which I did when the train stopped along the way.

Achievement Awards To Stoke Motivation – I have received a wide array of achievement awards from the App which totally caught me off guard. These are motivating to propel you to earn more. For example, one called “New Move Goal” saying “You’ve earned this award 5 times for reaching a new daily move goal.” Another called “Longest Move Streak” says “you earned this award for your longest daily move streak, 12 days.” I have received others for a “perfect move week” another for a “perfect exercise week” and recently one for “100 Move Goals” since dawning this device. My competitive spirit has me gunning to earn more!

Review, Reflect & Reframe – I regularly review my activity history on the app on my phone. I also review the dashboard of the Health App on my phone to review monthly charts showing daily steps taken, daily distance and active calories. These metrics have improved vastly from wearing this day 1. I am more mindful with the regular reminders to vamoose my caboose. Before all of this I’d take a 3 mile walk and do my 16-minute investment into my hourglass routine feeling as if I’ve earned a hero sandwich. Now I get up to move regularly even if it is to stand while talking on the phone. Each Monday I receive a “week in review” to help me review, reflect and reframe my goals, something I wrote about in my e-book Skinny on Slim, The Little Black Dress of Diet Books.

So me and my Apple Watch have been through a half a year together and our relationship has grown stronger. We’ve been through sedentary times together on the train and active times together on bike rides on Myra Canyon, mountain treks up Knox Mountain, long meandering walks up to the escarpment of the old town of Lyon, near the Giants Causeway in Ireland, the hills and dales of San Francisco and a trail near Mount Cook with routine neighbourhood walks in-between. Despite the season changes, my activity goals are mounting, thanks to the messages keeping me mindful, motivated and moving!

It’s upward and onward from here, thanks to my Apple Watch! If you’re not sure what to ask Santa for, he might have one for you in his sack!

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Test 1-2, Test: The Thanksgiving Dinner Test

November 25th, 2015 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , ,

Well folks, American Thanksgiving is almost upon us. Who doesn’t love this festive weekend, especially the lavish family meals that go with it, not to mention the football extravaganza. “All the way” in spades my friends!

That horn of plenty is bursting with all that harvest has to offer. Think about what is served at a typical Thanksgiving dinner: the turkey, the nutty dressing, those golden roasted potatoes, Brussels sprouts, mashed yams, cauliflower and cheese casserole, homemade pie with a dab of ice cream. Ahhh gotta love all of this with a repeat to cover both sides of the bella famiglia.

Some people, might like this time of year though to kick off a better eating plan along with the football season. If this is the case for you put whatever regimen you’re considering to my special test – the “Thanksgiving Dinner Test” explained in my ebook Skinny on Slim. If a diet doesn’t allow you to eat the food served at this celebratory dinner, then forget about it, don’t give it another thought!

I’m not a lover of diets. They’re like living in a straight jacket with so many don’ts they’re hard to keep track of and even harder to adhere to for the long haul. Many do result in weight loss, for a little while, until your resolve caves making the food floodgates to fly open, then the weight rebounds. You end up feeling like you failed rather than the diet failed you. Think about it. Let this fall be pivotal for you and go on a plan you can adhere to for life, set in fundamental principles to help you lose weight, thrive, and soar for good. The best plan is one you can stick with “all the way”!

Look yourself in the mirror and make a pact that from this day forward you will set yourself free from dieting forever. Be darn sure that the plan you choose passes my Thanksgiving dinner test.

Read about this with solutions to help you along your journey in Skinny On Slim, The little black dress of diet books.

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Hold the trick on treats this Halloween!

October 28th, 2015 No Comments Tags: , , , , ,

The tweet fest has been mounting about whether to give kids healthy treats or toys at Halloween, hmmmm. Is that an oxymoron – “healthy treats”? I call that a “trick” in the “trick or treat” declaration, wouldn’t you?

Look folks, Halloween comes but once a year. It’s fun to celebrate a spirited day, dress up funny and shell out. Why suck the fun out of it? Truth be told, it’s a perfect time of year to put your relationship with food to the test…

Food means so much more than simply the vitamins and minerals it contains, but has a place within our social and psychological fabric. Kids are sharp as tacks being intuitive, sometimes more than we adults ever realize. When we the “gate keepers” take the “treat” out of “trick or treat” kids get the message that you’re telling them that something is bad about that. When you head down that road, it’s a slippery slope in a negative direction. Kids who live in “cleansed” environments without any goodies could go into “food seeking” mode and will gorge on treats when they eventually get them. Some studies have shown this. The unintended consequence could result in psychological eating issues which could shackle them in a vortex of disordered eating for decades. Lighten up!

Ideally we all want kids to establish a positive relationship with food or as I like to say “a love affair” described in my e-book. This involves eating and enjoying food, some treats in moderation, guilt free. This is not a black or white issue, but grey. When we deem foods by our actions as “bad” the unintended consequences could be staggering. That’s not the goal is it: to create a negative situation by being so virtuous?

I usually wait until the day before the big day to pick up my treats. You name it, I get it – potato chips, Cheetos, chocolate bars, candy, the full court press of offerings. It’s Halloween folks, kids don’t want “healthy treats” and neither do I as I sit at the door when the tykes drop by. Save the bridge games for the old folks home! What kind of trick is that? A very bad one! This is one of those occasions to take part in and have fun – nibble, nosh and be merry. When the sugar rush wears off, it’ll be time for school and work so enjoy!
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As the saying goes, “The whole is greater than the sum…”

October 23rd, 2015 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

We have all heard the saying “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” This saying came to mind recently when the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s press release exclaimed “Cut the crap!” They revisited their nutritional recommendations for a healthy heart and slightly shifted their position suggesting we eat more whole foods and less highly processed, low nutrient junk food, AKA “crap”! How wise is that? Very!

Well, well, well, what a breath of fresh air these well thought out, new recommendations are for everyone! Over the past decades the masses have complicated matters of the heart and the diet, transforming the innocent act of eating into such a complicated affair. We got to focusing too much on micronutrients, while losing the essence and joy of food and eating somehow. It’s time to put “the bread” back into “breaking bread together”!

I am not proclaiming that nutrients in the food don’t matter. Our masterful machines – our bodacious bodies need all nutrients to function optimally. Changing our focus to one overarching goal – to consume mostly whole foods in a balanced fashion, is sage advise. Aiming to cook these whole foods at home more often can be life changing and for some life saving.

Instead of needing to remember a wide array of complicated food and nutrition rules – “…more of this, less of that, this percentage of the other… ” you simply have to ask yourself, “Is this a whole food or not?” When you look in your fridge, freezer, pantry and grocery list you can easily see if you are on the right track. Make small changes to move in the direction of eating whole foods more often in balanced proportions.

A few weeks back I made a vat of tomato eggplant sauce and froze it in smaller containers. Last week I made a lasagne with ground beef & mushrooms, spinach & ricotta and noodles using that trusty tomato sauce. This week I assembled this cinchy dinner of smoked salmon & brie, whole grain bread with a side salad. Next week I plan to create some calzones and dip them into my tomato sauce. Trust me, I am no Julia Childs and approach this to make food prep as easy and enjoyable as possible.

It’s helpful to take stock of your whole food enjoyment right now. If you have been falling short during this harvest season get a move on to your grocery store or market and load up.

Because it’s true, the whole IS greater than the sum of its parts. Eating more home-prepared, whole foods is better for you than consuming your nutrients from a bottle or elixir and following a plethora of illogical food rules, don’t you think?

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