Easy Pesto

Ever wonder would could be an easy option to spice up a lot of different foods? Try Pesto. Here’s a quick and easy recipe that took me, seriously, about 5 minutes to make.

I am not a great cook, I’m good when I want to be, but honestly my mind is usually somewhere else and following recipes is really, really hard for me. Any distraction – 3 kids, the dog, a friend, a flower – and boom, we are having “blackened” food again … usually without the Cajan part. So I started making my food simple. Really simple. I wanted healthy and easy.

Ingredients:

  • Fresh Basil
  • Olive Oil
  • Fresh Garlic – peeled
  • Nuts – if you want them, pine nuts are the usual, but you could use walnuts or pecans instead.
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

The Cooking Part …

I just made this the other night – it was quick, easy and great for days. I like a lot of garlic and we did not use any nuts in our pesto blend.

First, peel the garlic cloves. I put about 3-4 in my blend. Put in a food processor or blender and chop. Then pull the basil leaves off the stems, add to the food processor and begin to blend on low. While blending add some olive oil to the processor. Add just enough oil so that it blends well, but is still chunky. I add salt and pepper to taste. Done. Keeps in the refrigerator for about a week or so.

What to serve with …

I added mine this week to spaghetti  squash for a fantastic side dish. We eat it on crackers, cucumbers, with tomatoes and cheese, eggs. The options are endless if you like basil and garlic 🙂

Easy and Impressive Egg Fritta

Want a breakfast that looks great, tastes good, and is easy to prepare? It can feed just one or two people or a whole bunch of you. If you don’t want to share save the leftovers for lunches or future breakfast meals.

I am not a great cook, I’m good when I want to be, but honestly my mind is usually somewhere else and following recipes is really, really hard for me. Any distraction – 3 kids, the dog, a friend, a flower – and boom, we are having “blackened” food again … usually without the Cajan part. So I started making my food simple. Really simple. I wanted healthy and easy.

Ingredients:

  • Butter or other cooking oil – olive or avocado oil works well here – enough to cover the bottom of your pan
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Scrambled Eggs – 6 to 12 depending on the number of people eating and how big your pan is.
    • optional: Milk or half and half for scrambling
  • Broccoli – 1-2 crowns
  • Shredded Carrots – 3-4 large

Garnish Items – if you want:

  • Shredded cheddar cheese – enough to cover the top of the fritta.
    • Amount will depend on personal preference and size of the pan.
  • Sliced grapes tomatoes, pico de Gallo, or salsa
  • Cilantro
  • Avocado

The Cooking Part …

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In an oven safe pan, melt the butter in the pan over the stovetop.
  • While it melts dice the onions and garlic.
  • SautĂ© the onion and garlic in the butter.
  • Chop the broccoli into small pieces, eliminating the hard parts of the stems, and shred the carrots.
    • Amount of carrots and broccoli will depend on your preference and how many eggs / people you are feeding.
    • You want enough to have the fritta feel hearty but not so much that it drowns out the egg.
  • Add broccoli and carrots to the butter, onion, and garlic.
  • Cook on medium to low heat until the onion is transparent and the broccoli and carrots are soft, but not withered looking. About 5-10 minutes.
  • Scramble the eggs and pour over the mixture and cook until the egg sets up.
  • Transfer pan to the oven until the egg is cooked through. The top begins to set.
  • Add cheese if you want and return to the oven. Place on high broil for 5 minutes to melt the cheese
  • Top with the tomatoes, cilantro, and avocado

What to serve with …

All sorts of breakfast foods – toast & jam, fried potatoes or hash browns, fruit, breakfast salad, juice, coffee, tea.

This meal will keep in the fridge, it is also great as a left over for lunch the next day or you can freeze and reheat as needed for future breakfast meals.

Eggplant Chips

Eggplant is not high on my list of foods I should make sure to eat, However these were delicious! Plus after we ate the first batch the second took about 10 minutes. Quick, healthy, and easy. What’s not to love.

From the kitchen of my friend Claudia …

I am not a great cook, I’m good when I want to be, but honestly my mind is usually somewhere else and following recipes is really, really hard for me. Any distraction – 3 kids, the dog, a friend, a flower – and boom, we are having “blackened” food again … usually without the Cajan part. So I started making my food simple. Really simple. I wanted healthy and easy.

Ingredients:

  • 1 eggplant
  • Olive oil
  • Salt &pepper 

You can also add other spices – chili powder, turmeric, etc. 

The Cooking Part …

Cut the eggplant into small thin pieces. Coat in olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes or so. I also like to broil instead of bake to get the crunchy option. However, make sure you pay attention. Broiling on high makes it really easy to burn them very quickly. 

Food as Medicine

Food is medicine. Treat it as such.

If you missed yesterday’s blog post and video on the links between food and mood check it out here: Food and Mood

"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be they food" - Hippocrates
Let food be your medicine. Whatever is ailing you, do not underestimate the role food plays in your ability to create what you need to heal. Learn about minerals, vitamins, nutrients and eat to heal and support your physical structures and your mental capacities.

Food and Mood

Ever noticed that you feel different after eating different foods? In the past the links between food and mood may have been considered pseudoscience as food is just fuel, right? Not anymore. In today’s world we know the quality of that fuel (food) matters.

Over a decade ago Wallin and Rissanen (1994) were discussing the impacts of food and food cravings on psychiatric diagnoses. Today we are studying how the gut microbiota are impacted by diet choices and influence behavior (Jørgensen, 2014). There is lots of research linking how well children do in the classroom to meals eaten throughout the day, how strong our workouts will be to when and how we eat, and shows us how our focus and concentration fluctuate with what additives and ingredients were packaged in that meal you ate. Today, consider how you are eating for your brain.

For many of us we eat a routine set of items. In these items we often find the same things we ate and were exposed to as children. As a result we are fueling similar to our biology and culture. This used to be a good thing, as more research is showing us how ethnicity impacts ability to digest particular food items. However, with such diversity in our food system, easy access to all sorts of new foods, and things like GMOs, additives, colors, and preservatives many of us do not feel as good as we used to when we eat the same foods from our past. We have moved away from those family, cultural, and ethically focused meal plans and begun to source our food miles and miles from our homes.

As you eat this week, notice how you feel before you eat. What is your emotional state? Are you really hungry? Are you just bored? Do you feel sad, happy, angry? How did you feel yesterday? Many times our food choices are based on energy levels from yesterday. Then notice the same about how you feel when you get done eating. Did that meal satisfy you? If not why not? What is the emotion set you are feeling as you finish eating?

Next notice your thoughts. As a personal trainer and former fitness center owner, people around me often say things like: “I know I shouldn’t eat this … but” as they take a huge bite of something. This is not the way to help your mind create an experience of health or your body feel good about what you are eating. If you want that piece of cake, eat it, but be careful how you think about it. If you are saying “I shouldn’t” then have a smaller piece and say “I am so grateful I have the opportunity to sample this sweetness, I am also grateful that I only need a little to feel satisfied”. Then eat the item mindfully and enjoy it fully. As you swallow tell your belly, “We are enjoying the sweetness of life in this moment”. Do the same when you eat salad and fruit and vegetables, and drink water. As you eat, tell yourself how great these items are for your cells, your gut flora, and your brain.

The connection between what we think and what we manifest is well known. You will cultivate what you what you put your attention on. Use the power of your attention to focus on what you want, not what you don’t. As you tell yourself you are making healthy choices and you are caring for your body well, you begin to manifest increased healthy behaviors. Don’t believe me? Begin to think about something you like, focus on it, Just do not think about pink elephants. How many of you saw a pink elephant in your mind?

The subconscious works in pictures. When you give it a subject, like pink elephants, “bad” food, things you hate, it puts resources toward creating the experience of noticing pink elephants (or other items). If it is this easy to see pink elephants in your mind, imagine how easy it will be to see your body working exactly as it should, humming along, doing just what is needed in each moment to fully function. Think about how easy it will be to take a food, tell yourself the food is helping your body, and create a healthy pattern of engagement between food that is good for you, feeding yourself well, and generating positive moods as a result.

As you increase the healthy foods, your mood improves, your sleep gets better, and it’s easier to manage stress in your life. Your body has the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals it needs to make the neurotransmitters you need to feel happy, content, and connected. All of which help you feel regulated and grounded. Want more ideas to help yourself stay on track? Check out an easier post: Eat Well, Feel Well

As you feed yourself today, say something positive and thankful over your food. You will be surprised how that shifts your focus and brings a different experience to your eating … Here’s to happy eating, enjoy!

References

Jørgensen, B.P., Hansen, J. T., Krych, L., Larsen, C., Klein, A.B., Nielsen, D. S., Josefsen, K., Hansen, A. K., Sørensen, D. B. (2014). A possible link between food and mood: Dietary impact on gut microbiota and behavior in BALB/c mice. PLOS ONE, 9(8), e103398 1-15.

Wallin M.S., Rissanen A.M. (1994). Food and mood: relationship between food, serotonin and affective disorders. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 377, 36-40.

Healthy Eating Made Easy: A quick tomato based side dish to bring to the party for busy people.

I am not a great cook, I’m good when I want to be, but honestly my mind is usually somewhere else and following recipes is really, really hard for me. Any distraction – 3 kids, the dog, a friend, a flower – and boom, we are having “blackened” food again … usually without the Cajan part.

So I started making my food simple. Really simple. I wanted healthy and easy.

Share the Knowledge Click to Tweet

Today’s Food Mantra: I know that what I eat matters in how I feel. If I want to feel good, I have to eat good. Food and mood go together. Eat Well, Feel Well. Speak this mantra out loud and repeat as necessary. @StacyReuille

Here’s a great side dish or lunch idea. It can make a great meal on it’s own, a dish to share at the local potluck, or a side to some great grilled items, a soup, or smoked turkey.

Tomato Cucumber Salad: 
1. Get some tomatoes. The fresher the better (may need to check out the local natural food store this time of year). 
2. Get some cucumbers. The fresher the better (same as above). 
3. Get some onion. I like the white or yellow kinds in this dish. 
4. Cut all those up in bite sized chunks. I like to keep all the tomato juice and seeds in. If you don’t, don’t. 
5. Find some really good ranch dressing. I haven’t gotten to the point where I make this from scratch yet. I use full fat and organic. I like the Newman’s Own brand. I just look for small list of ingredients on the back and low to no sugar. Put a little in the bowl. Start with a small dollop. You can always add more. 
6. Salt and pepper if you like. I usually add cracked black pepper, but salt depends on the dressing. 
7. Mix it all up and taste. If you feel like you need to add more of anything, do.

Word of caution – If you are going to put in the fridge to blend the flavors, you need less dressing and salt/pepper than you think. Even when I make and eat, I need less salt and dressing than I think.

Ta-da! Yummy and done.

Eat Well, Feel Well

Over the last few years I have been diving deep into the connections between mental health and physical health. As I have been working with mental health clients using physical exercise some surprising interventions have made the most impact. One that continues to be a solid help is eating a balanced diet at regular intervals.  Here are some reasons to care and tips to track your own moods as they relate to your food choices.


Easy Budget Meals Your Family Will Love

When we look at the links between blood sugar and mood we see some themes. When one doesn’t eat for long periods of time irritability, depression, sadness, a general feeling of malaise are common. My clients articulate this as “blah” and it makes sense given that feeling low energy often gets tagged as depression in our culture or “what’s wrong with me because I can’t get things done”. Things just aren’t as vibrant, colorful, interesting, or exciting when you aren’t feeling well. When you don’t eat for long periods of time, you don’t feel well.

In the body the brain registers this as dangerous and a slew of chemicals is pumped from the endocrine system to accommodate this threat. Some describe feeling a “little high” or “being detached” from the world and people around them. They report using food to help them achieve these states helps them “numb out” from painful emotions. The problem becomes this behavior feeds its own cycle and often the thoughts around these somatic sensations are distorted. As noted above people label their low energy as depression, the shaky nauseous feeling as anxiety, and the lack of focus as ADHD. However, what’s really going on doesn’t need a psychotropic med it needs a balanced meal.

To begin your own exploration of how food impacts your moods tracking can be helpful. Note what time you eat, what you ate, what emotions you were feeling before and after the meal, and any physical (or lack of) sensations you had. Track for 1-2 weeks without changing anything.  This can help you see patterns in your behaviors, moods, and physical sensation. It is important to begin this process without judgment. There is no need to judge, you are doing what you are doing, just allow yourself to objectively see what it is you are doing. From this place of observation it becomes easier to determine what you would like to change and how you’ll be most successful changing it.
Here’s to happy eating and contented feelings!
Food Diary Log Example:
Date
Meal (can include calories or nutrition info if wanted)
Time eaten
Emotions Before
Emotions After

Physical Sensations

 Photo Credit: www.naimamohamed.com

Are You Self-Sabotaging Your Workout?

Many of us feel the well deserved twang when eating something indulgent after a workout. WAIT!!! Are you self-sabotaging all the hard work? Some of us tend to overindulge and negate the calories we just burned. The result is no weight loss and EVEN WEIGHT GAIN!!!!

If you are eating more calories following a workout than you burned – you are what we’d call a compensator. You eat to compensate for your workout, but may be falling into a psychological trap of rewards rather than refueling. Here are some tips to stop compensating.

First plan your meals, at least for a little while. See where your daily slumps are. Do you need a nutritional snack at 10am? 2pm? to make it to your workout after work? Do you eat every 2-4hours? Small snacks? Get enough protein and fat throughout the day? Are you eating nutrient dense foods so you’ll have the energy to finish your day without feeling deprived?

Next check your beverages. Do you drink enough water throughout the day? How much caffeine are you drinking? Caffeine will set you up for those slumps and create a cycle to feed itself. You’ll need more and more and then not sleep and then need more. See how it works?

Find non-food rewards to give yourself. You may be bingeing because you feel like you deserve something special…and you do, however if food was used as a reward in your life, especially those sweet treats, it may be time to stop that cycle. Find other ways to give yourself a special treat.

It helps to make sure you eat a good pre and post workout snack. AND consider if you burned off 250 calories in a workout, that really only a granola bar. So eating a heaping portion is more than you burned. Often people will be more hungry because what’s called post exercise energy consumption – however if you have planned pre and post snacks and have a solid eating schedule throughout the day usually exercise isn’t a binge creator – that’s the psychological piece of I deserve it.

Healthy Weight Loss Goals

So you’ve been working hard and know you’re no the right track, but now it’s time to morph your new year’s resolutions into your life. It’s getting hard to maintain the motivation to keep up the new year pace. That sounds great! AND that’s how it happens day by day and new behavior by new behavior. Here is a guideline for losing weight to help you plan for the next few months and bring this lifestyle into your week.

10-12lbs in 12 wks is doable. On average you want to aim for 1-2lbs per week. So you might be better off giving yourself 14wks to allow for set backs. There will be some weeks you lose more and some less. We all cycle so that usually isn’t something to worry about unless you aren’t seeing loss. I find most of my clients (men and women) lose about 3wks a month and gain .5 or so 1 wk a month on average.

Sometimes the last 10 lbs can stick. If this is the case look at diet and see if there is anywhere you might be getting hidden calories or extra salt. Alcohol is another big place to cut down or out when looking to lose the last few pounds toward your goal. Use this as a guideline to help you determine healthy weight loss to keep it off.

Planning for Fitness Success

This week’s idea for healthy living = PLANNING

It’s Fall, back to school, and illness season. So planning will be key. If you haven’t paid things forward it will matter that you determine your strategy to get through the season and how to maintain workouts if you get ill. How will you adjust your schedule for busy days or days/weeks you feel like crap. Falling completely off the wagon doesn’t seem to be the best option because most have trouble getting back on – Damn horse ran fast after I fell off – SO … here are some tips for planning balance in your life.

1)      Determine what you can do – maybe you usually workout an hour but the first week of school or during a big project it might be 30min a day or 2 15min segments. Maybe find activities that you can include for calorie burn like parking and walking or picking events with friends that include activities to participate in.

2)      Pay attention to food – if you aren’t working out as much or hard you may need to cut back on calories – often easier when sick than during a busy time. So just notice and maybe choose the salad and lean chicken, smaller portions, or eating less snacks throughout the day – don’t go too long between meals or you’ll tank your blood surgar.

3)      Know this is how healthy living works – life happens, we get sick, go on vacation, have a whole town party for a week where we dress up. Give yourself a break and keep postive. This is the stuff that makes life worth living and if you can strike the balance between healthy eating, working-out, and living you are doing it. Your horse won’t take off with your wagon – you’ll have no trouble living the fitness lifesytle if you have put some effort into planning for life.