Culture of SUGAR!

Every holiday has it.  Every special occasion has it.  Every treat has it.  And it must stop.  It must.

What is “it”?  “It” is sugar. There is a culture of sugar in America.  We pay homage to it, we bow down to it. And it must be stopped for the health of our children, ourselves, and our nation.

Why has it become standard procedure to give our kids a big Easter basket filled with chocolate and candy?  Jesus rising from the dead is celebrated by a chocolate bunny? What?? Why is the made-up Hallmark holiday of Valentines Day now celebrated by the exchange of cheap paper cards and candy between 10 year olds? Why, oh why, is it now obligatory to bring cupcakes to our kid’s classrooms to celebrate their birthdays??  As if there isn’t enough sugar craziness surrounding their birthday already?! The insanity MUST stop.

insanity

It’s ingrained.  It happens automatically.  We have a great day and want to “treat” ourselves.  What does this almost always mean? Sugar.  We go buy a cupcake or a pastry or some chocolate.  And if it’s not obvious sugar, it’s hidden sugar.  We order pizza or pasta or a glass of wine.  These foods physiologically affect us the same as sugar.  They create a glucose spike with all of the resulting responses.

Why do we do this?  Where does this come from?

Partly it comes from the BILLIONS of dollars spent by the marketing geniuses behind the food industry, which I will be discussing in my next post, and also the fact that when we eat sugar our body releases endorphins.  Endorphins make us feel good.  And who doesn’t want to feel good? So starts a vicious cycle: eat sugar / endorphins release / feel good.  We want to celebrate, we want to feel good, ergo we eat sugar.  We eat sugar more and more and more because we have now subconsciously made that connection between eating sugar and an endorphin rush and, just like a heroin addict, we crave that rush.

sugardrug

 And we are passing this onto our children.

This is what is really the issue. By promulgating this culture, by participating it, by nurturing it, we are setting our kids up for health problems.  That may sound harsh, but step back for a second and think about it.  I firmly believe that one of the most important things we can do for our kids is to teach them healthy eating habits.  It’s not easy, I know.  But it’s also not as hard as it seems.  Just say no to the Easter basket.  Just say no to the cupcakes with two inches of frosting for a treat.  Just say no to the gigantic-size box of Red Vines at the movie theater.  (watching a movie DOES NOT require candy, by the way!) Just say no to the culture of sugar because the alternative is passing it onto our kids.  And this will have health consequences, either in the short-term or the long-term. There is no getting around it.

Instead, let’s create a culture of vegetable gardens in our backyards.  A culture of eating whole, real food as often as possible. A culture of moving our bodies every single day.  Break the culture of sugar by making a transition to fruit for dessert.  Slowly cut back on the amount of candy put in the Christmas stockings.  On the number of pies you bake for Thanksgiving.

Let’s piss off the soda industry executives who STILL try to claim that drinking a Coke with 34 grams of sugar in one serving isn’t an issue.
 
Who’s with me??


The recipe this week comes from At Home in the Whole Foods Kitchen.  I really like this cookbook.  It’s a recipe for pancakes that isn’t laden with sugar and one you can feel good about serving your kids.  Mine loved it!

Coconut Quinoa Pancakes
Makes ten 4-inch pancakes

  • 1/2 cup (85g) uncooked quinoa, soaked for 12 to 24 hours in 1 cup filtered water
  • 1/2 cup (45g) rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup (60g) unsweetened desiccated coconut
  • 1 cup (250ml) unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 egg or 1 tsp chia seeds soaked in 1/4 cup filtered water for 15 minutes
  • 2 tbsp melted extra virgin coconut oil (more for cooking)
  • 1/2 tsp ground vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  1. Drain and rinse quinoa, and place it in an upright blender.  Add oats, k1/4 cup coconut, almond milk, chia egg (or regular egg), coconut oil, vanilla, baking powder, and cinnamon.  Blend on high speed for about 40 seconds or until completely smooth, scraping down sides as necessary.  Add remaining coconut and lemon zest and stir with a rubber spatula to combine.
  2. Warm a wide cast iron skillet over medium heat; add about 1 teaspoon coconut oil and spoon 1/4 cup batter for each pancake.  Spread the batter out a little with the back of a spoon to make a 4-inch pancake.  Cook for about 3 minutes or until surface is covered with bubbles and bottom is golden and beginning to brown.  Flip and cook for another 2 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from skillet and repeat with remaining batter.
  3. These pancakes are best hot off the pan, but they can also be kept warm in a 200F oven as you cook the whole batch.  Serve with fresh fruit.

Questions? Thoughts? I’d love to hear from you!

Eat well.

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Trips Around Stars.

I celebrated another successful trip around the big star with an extended weekend in Napa.  It was an amazing trip filled with hot air ballooning, wineries, good food, and friends & family.  Just about the best way to celebrate, ever.


Hot air ballooning in Napa is rad!


The BEST iced coffee! And in that bag was an amazing almond croissant.  Birthday weekend, y’all.

I was incredibly luck to go to the Morlet winery and attend a private (there were 5 of us) tasting conducted by Luc Morlet himself.  The tasting lasted 2 hours and we easily could have stayed another hour.

I learned an enormous amount from Mr. Morlet, not only about wines (as the wine critic, Robert Parker stated, “Run, don’t walk” to purchase his wine), but also about life.  He is brilliant, passionate, and his philosophy about wines I extrapolate here towards life:

You must let nature shape your path.

I always take some time on the day of my birth to reflect on where I’ve been and where I’d like to go.  And what I realized this time around is how much easier it is when I let nature shape my path.  When I take the time to pause a moment and listen to the universe, or my intuition, or my gut, or whatever else you want to call it, I make better choices.  (Yes, I am a little bit of a hippie and proud of it!)

But when I come up with some lack-goal (see my previous post about this if you just went, huh??) that a magazine or some other artificial source of inspiration told me I should want, things tend to go sideways.  And feel really shitty.  Why?

Because it’s not my path.  It’s someone else’s. 

Honestly, it’s hard sometimes for me to do this.  To make choices that others view as weird, or crazy, or that they just don’t understand.  I want approval just as much as anyone! But in my acquired wisdom, I now know that approval is fleeting and shallow.  It doesn’t last much more than a minute, really, and then you’re back with yourself, like you will always be, feeling icky because you just experienced a moment of approval for something you don’t really want. Let YOUR nature shape YOUR path.

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m not wasting any more trips around stars on someone else’s path.  That’s just insane.


No filter.  Seriously.


The tasting here was a game-changer.  I HIGHLY recommend it!


This week’s recipe is from the blogger fANNEtastic food. I make these egg muffins at least twice a month for clients.  They hold up really well.  Make them in advance and then grab and go on your way to work!

Scrambled Egg Muffins

  • 9 eggs
  • 1/2 cup chopped spinach
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup spelt flour or whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • Optional: 1/4 cup chopped cooked bacon or turkey bacon or smoked salmon
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.  Lightly oil a muffin pan.
  2. Add the spinach, cheese, tomato, basil, and bacon (if using) to a mixing bowl.
  3. Whisk the eggs in a separate bowl.  Add milk and flour and combine until the lumps disappear.  Add salt and pepper.
  4. Pour the eggs over the other ingredients, mix.
  5. Using your 1/3 measuring cup, pour the liquid directly into the pan.
  6. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, checking to make sure they are done.

Nicole’s Notes:

  • One trick I use when cooking with more than 5 or 6 eggs is using my blender to mix them as I do not have the forearm strength to whisk 9 eggs!  I then add the milk, flour, salt, and pepper directly to the blender.  Voila!

Questions? Thoughts? I’d love to hear from you!  Head over to my website and leave a comment.

Eat well.

“‘Getting ahead of yourself’…can suck it!

If you haven’t yet heard of Danielle La Porte, the author of the above quote, I highly recommend you check her out immediately.  She is the author of The Desire Map and one of my favorite bloggers.  I anticipate, open, and immediately read the emails of only 4 bloggers and she is one. Check her out!

But, not yet!  First finish reading MY blog. 

I see people stopping themselves before they’ve started all the time.  For fear of doing it “wrong”.  For fear of  looking stupid.  Because they won’t do it perfectly and that scares the living daylights out of them. (all you Type A people, I’m looking at you)  Why?  What for?  Who cares?  My motto – go big. Scream out those seemingly crazy, impossible goals and start before you’re ready because all that “getting ready” is just a bullshit excuse to not do it.  Get ahead of yourself.

Why not do the exact opposite?  Throw yourself headfirst into that dream goal and see what happens.  Charge into that dance class you’ve wanted to take and tear it up.  Enroll yourself in a class to get started on that career change you’ve been dreaming about and get your study on.  Cut your hair and dye it purple.  Run a marathon.  Hike the Grand Canyon.  Drink a green smoothie every day starting TODAY. No matter how small or big it is, just do it. Get ahead of yourself.

I have a joy-goal for myself that I have only told a few  people but I am going to state it right here, right now.  And this is scary for me, but I need to walk the walk, right?  This year my goal is to qualify for the Boston Marathon.  Typing that sentence made me feel a little nauseous, because I, too, have that nasty inner voice whispering “you’re not ready, you’re not fast enough yet, you can’t do it this year”.  You know what? Screw that. So now it’s out in the world and you will all know if I succeed or fail at my goal.  AAAAAHHHHH.  But, who cares?   Really.  Who cares?  It’s qualifying for a race.  If I do it, awesome.  If I don’t, you better believe I will next year.

Getting ahead of yourself can suck it.

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This week’s recipe is from the blogger Oh She Glows.  Another one that I open and read immediately.  These are nut-free, vegan dream cups and should be called sex in a cup.  Seriously.  Make these immediately.

3-Layer Nut-Free Dream Cups

Ingredients:

For the base layer:

  • 3 tablespoons melted coconut butter

For the middle layer:

  • 1/4 cup sunflower seed butter
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil, softened
  • pinch fine sea salt

For the top layer:

  • 1/4 cup virgin coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • pinch fine sea salt
  • 2 1/2 – 3 tablespoons unsweetened large flake coconut
  1. To make coconut butter, process 3-4 cups of unsweetened shredded coconut in a food processor until it is smooth and liquid.  This will take about 7 minutes.  Make sure the coconut you are using is fresh or it won’t turn into butter.  Leftover butter can be kept in the refrigerator for a month.
  2. Spoon a scant teaspoon of melted coconut butter int a mini silicon cupcake mold (or a metal cupcake mold with liners) and spread out evenly.  Place in the freezer.
  3. Prepare the middle layer: In a small bowl, stir together the sunflower seed butter, maple syrup, oil, and salt until smooth.  Add a scant tablespoon of filling to each cup. Smooth out and place in the freezer.
  4. Prepare the top layer: Add the coconut oil into a small saucepan and melt over low heat.  Remove from heat and whisk in the cocoa powder, maple syrup, and salt until smooth.
  5. Add a tablespoon of melted chocolate on top of each cup.  Top with a teaspoon of large flake coconut and gently press down.
  6. Freeze for about 25 minutes until solid.  Allow to sit at room temperature for 5 minutes before enjoying.  Store leftovers in the fridge, or for longer storage, the freezer.

Nicole’s Notes:

  • This recipe only makes 8 cups and you will DEFINITELY want more.  So double or triple it!

Questions? Thoughts? I’d love to hear from you!

Eat well.