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.

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.

Please don’t use the “c” word or the “d” word around me!

That’s it. I’ve had it. If one more company uses the words “cleanse” or “detox” for one more product, I will lose it. Lose it! Because, guys, it’s ALL MARKETING. Which is another way of saying, it’s all bullshit. It’s just like the milk = strong bones correlation. Which is totally, factually, 100% incorrect yet is now indelibly imprinted into every American’s brain. The marketing geniuses have struck again and created the detox-cleanse myth. And now every product and program out there wants you to believe you NEED one because your body is so vile and dirty and filled with toxins.

scam

It’s a scam.

Stop. Stop, exhale, and read these next words very carefully:

Our bodies have an amazing detoxification system built into them. It is called our kidneys, our liver, our skin, and our lungs. Boom.

The reason this gets me so upset is the whole cleasining/detoxing industry succeeds by preying on people’s insecurities. Are you feeling fat? Detox! Have you been drinking too much alcohol? Cleanse!

And they further enable the “magic pill” wishful thinking that the entire diet industry lives and breathes by which boils down to this: it doesn’t matter how crappy I eat most of the time, I’ll just do a cleanse for 7 days (or take this new supplement or try this new diet, or, or, or) and all will be forgiven.

No! It does not work that way. That only results in damaging your metabolism and ensuring you will put any weight you’ve lost back on immediately. And probably a couple of extra pounds.

Here is the scientific, factual truth:

Toxins don’t build up in our body. If they did, we would die or be in need of serious medical intervention.

Are you still with me? Here’s a couple more things to think about:

  • Most cleanses or detoxes say your body is releasing “toxins”. What toxins? What exactly are they talking about? And, if they are “releasing” said toxins, show me a blood panel that proves this. Or a spit test or a poop test. Show me something that backs up what you are claiming! They can’t.
  • If, indeed, your body released toxins, guess where they would go? THROUGH YOUR KIDNEYS AND LIVER THEREBY RESTRESSING THE ORGANS YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO BE DETOXIFYING AND CLEANSING.
  • Most marketing materials link toxin buildup general symptoms like fatigue, headache, insomnia or weight gain. They aren’t idiots. Who hasn’t experienced one or all of these in their lifetime?? However they fail to link specific toxins to specific symptoms or illness because they can’t. There is not one scientific study proving that a detox or cleanse treatment has had any useful medical effect.
  • Peter Pressman, an internist at the naval hospital in Jacksonville, Florida states, “There is absolutely no scientific basis for the assertion that the regimens popularly defined as ‘detox’ will augment the body’s own capacity for identifying and eliminating your own metabolic wastes or doing the same for environmental toxins,” he said. “I advise patients that these detox programs amount to a large quantity of excrement, both literally and figuratively.”

Instead, focus on making real, lasting changes to your diet. Changes that can be sustained for a lifetime. Not just 7 days. And these can be so easy. Drink more water. Eat more vegetables. Exercise more. Cook more food at home. Boom. Cleansed.

cleansing


This week’s recipe is from what may quite possibly be my most favorite cookbook ever.  And I have a LOT of cookbooks!  The recipe I chose is a great one for cleaning up your diet and getting more veggies into your day.

Kale Slaw with Creamy Mustard Dressing 
From at home in the whole kitchen

Dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons raw cashew butter
  • 2 tablespoons filtered water
  • 1 small garlic clove, pressed
  • 1 tablespoon unpasteurized apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ume plum vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons whole-grain Dijon mustard
  • Sea salt, to tasate
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Salad:

  • 5 cups thinly sliced kale (from about 1 medium bunch)
  • 2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage
  • 1 medium carrot, cut in matchsticks
  • 1 small bulb fennel, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 2 thinly sliced scallions
  • 2 tablespoons roasted sunflower seeds

MAKE THE DRESSING:

  1. Place cashew butter and water in a small bowl, and mix until smooth. Stir in garlic, vinegars, mustard, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Add olive oil, mix again until smooth and creamy, season to taste, and set aside.

MAKE THE SALAD:

  1. Place kale, red cabbage, carrot, fennel, scallions, and sunflower seeds in a large salad bowl; toss to combine. Drizzle with dressing; toss until slaw is evenly coated and serve.

Nicole’s Notes:

  • This salad will last quite a long time in the refrigerator. Make it on Sunday and eat it as your lunch for a couple of days.
  • You can easily add whatever protein you desire: garbanzo beans, cannellini beans, shredded chicken or tuna.

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

Eat well.

We SERIOUSLY are all the same!

We go through our days wrapped up in our life. Our trials and tribulations that we believe are uniquely ours: work, kids, traffic, husband, wife, friends, eating, when am I going to exercise?, my life is so crazy, I just don’t have time! But recently, through an exercise done with the running teams I coach, what became blindingly obvious was this:

Even though we are unique and wonderfully weird and crazy in our own way, we all worry and stress about the same shit.

 So this was the workout:

  1. Write down a grudge or a bad habit or something that you always worry or stress about that you will COMMIT to letting go of for two months. Next run a mile as fast as you can. The pain you feel running that mile is a symbol of that negative pattern leaving your body.
  2. Now you write down something positive you are committed to manifesting in your life. It can be anything and it does not have to be connected to what you chose to let go of. Then you run a mile at a nice easy pace and come up with action steps you will take in order to manifest your intention.

First of all, I take no credit for coming up with this workout. so when I say it’s brilliant, I am not merely bragging. It was a powerful experience for a lot of my runners. And when I read what they wanted to give up or let go of, guess what? They were all the same. Out of roughly 130 runners, they broke down into 3 categories:

  1. Body image. Too skinny, too heavy, not fast, not strong, whatever. We all have it and we all seem to be worrying about it.
  2. Finances. Regardless of how much or little someone makes, they still stress about money.
  3. Relationships. They want one, they don’t want one, their kids are making them crazy, their friendships aren’t satisfying, they feel disconnected from their coworkers – you get the idea.

While we worry and stress and COMPARE (see my last blog about the comparing if you didn’t already read it) ourselves to others, they are busy doing it, too. NO ONE escapes it, so why don’t we all just stop? Stop because what has the worrying and stressing ever done for you anyways? Did it make it better? Did it resolve it?

I know the answer! NOPE.

Worry 2

This is not to belittle the challenges that life just loves to throw at us, but holding on to grudges and bad habits and negative self-talk are NOT productive and, ultimately, destructive. Focus on what you can change RIGHT NOW IN THIS VERY MOMENT and let everything else go. All that other stuff does is rob you of your happiness and joy. And you should all know by now how I feel about joy. It’s my drug, my reason for being. Get on that joy train, people! Or, as one of my most favorite people to quote, states:

life is short

You know something you can do right now in this very moment? Make this quiche. It is so, so easy and absolutely delicious. And the variations are endless.

Spinach and Feta Quiche with a Quinoa Crust

Taken from Cooking Light.

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa, chilled
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 (5-ounce) bag baby spinach
  • ½ cup low-fat milk
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 5 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  1. For the crust, preheat the oven to 375F.
  2. Combine quinoa, pepper, and egg in a bowl, stirring well. Press mixture into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes; cool.
  3. For the filling, heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add oil and onion; sauté 3 minutes. Add spinach; sauté 3 minutes. Remove from heat; cool.
  4. Combine milk and next 5 ingredients in a boil; stir with a whisk. Arrange spinach mixture in crust; pour egg mixture over spinach. Sprinkle with feta. Bake at 375 for 35 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes; cut into 4 wedges.

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

Eat well.

Top 5 Nutrition Myths

MILK DOES A BODY GOOD?

For years we were all told that if we wanted strong bones, we should drink milk because milk contains calcium and calcium=strong bones.  Wrong!  Science is now proving that there is NO RELATION to calcium intake and bone density.  In fact, a recent study from Uppsala University in Sweden suggested that consuming more milk could actually be associated with higher risks of fractures.  The vitamins more important to bone health are Vitamin K and Vitamin D.  Vitamin K is found in vegetables like kale, spinach, mustard greens, parsley, broccoli and Brussels sprouts – just to name a few.

EATING FAT CAUSES HEART DISEASE?

Thanks to an erroneous conclusion made back in the 1950’s by Ancel Keys, we have all been told that there is a direct relationship between saturated fat intake and coronary heart disease.  Turns out his study was severely flawed and there is no link.  However, don’t go reaching for the butter just yet!  Fat is a macronutrient and a crucial component to a balanced diet, but that does not mean you can eat it with abandon.  The basic tenants of a good diet remain the same: balanced meals eaten consistently throughout the day. And incorporating butter as well as those healthy monounsaturated fats like olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds accomplish that balance.  If you want to read more about fats, click here to read a more in depth discussion regarding fats in my recent blog.

BREAD IS THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL?

Probably one of the most frequently asked questions I get from clients is, “Do I have to stop eating bread?”  My answer is, “Absolutely not.”  Humans have been eating gluten for thousands of years, so it is not gluten that is inherently the issue.  What is the issue is how processed and refined most breads have become, rendering them physiologically akin to eating sugar.  Unless you have been diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, eating whole grain bread OCCASIONALLY that contains a minimum of 3 grams of fiber is perfectly okay.

YOU CAN SUPPLEMENT YOUR WAY TO HEALTH?

Supplements are an increasingly popular and incredibly lucrative industry that has NO regulating body.  As a result, I call the supplement business the snake oil industry of old.  When you go to buy any kind of supplements (including multi-vitamins) there is absolutely no assurance that what you think you are buying is actually what is in the bottle.  Additionally, our bodies don’t have tanks to store all those excess vitamins, minerals, amino acids, protein, bee pollen, that-herb-you’ve-never-heard-of-but-sounds-amazing that we are ingesting.  As such, Americans have the most expensive pee in the world.  What’s the answer?  Get your vitamins and minerals from food.  Whole food.  Real food.  Food you prepare at home.

EGGS SHOULD BE AVOIDED?

This is probably the second most popular question I am asked by clients.  The answer is a resounding NO.  Eggs are the protein most easily assimilated by the human body and contain numerous vitamins essential to a balanced diet.  Yes they are high in cholesterol, however it has been proven in study after scientific study that eggs and dietary cholesterol do NOT adversely affect blood cholesterol.  “In fact, eggs raise HDL (the good) cholesterol.  They also change LDL cholesterol from small, dense LDL (which is bad) to large LDL, which is benign.” Conclusion?  If you like eggs, eat them!

And, because sometimes talking about food just gets to be a drag, here’s something to make you laugh:

Questions?  Thoughts?  I’d love to hear from you.  Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Eat well.