Thursday, October 31, 2013

Do you buy the latest vitamin or superfood and never use them?

via Natural Nina
Monday, I mentioned Super Soul Sunday my new favorite show even though I’ve only seen three episodes. The show is on OWN and I can't understand how nobody I've mentioned it to has heard of it.  It’s Oprah and a guest talking about spirituality and if you’re thinking I don’t seem spiritual, I’m really not. But the interviews are compelling and frankly I’ve been missing my Oprah fix. One of the hours I watched featured the author Dani Shapiro. Coincidentally, I had just been invited to attend a reading and conversation with her and had picked up her latest book Still Writing.
Sick last week curled with this this
Two people who inspire me: Aidan Donnelley and Dani Shapiro
Oprah focused on Dani’s book Devotion. I guess it felt more “Super Soul” to her. Oprah read aloud a passage Dani wrote about wanting to do things better, to parent better and be a better writer, to drink more water, “to not only buy flax seed oil but take flax seed oil”.  At this mention Oprah and Dani shared a laugh over buying healthy items and then neglecting or forgetting them.  I hear this from clients all the time “I have vitamin D but I don’t take it” or “I have those at home but never use them.” "I own them though." I started wondering what this is all about.  After all, it’s easier for me to connect with talk of flax than the subsequent talk of joy. As Dani said “joy is scary”.

I think the decision to purchase flax oil or fish oils, goji berries or kale is partially about the potential these foods offer. I have a friend who calls them “promise foods” and some of them, not many, can live up to the promise. Better skin, better mood, better weight? Yes please. When we mulled this over in the office Joanna mentioned “maybe we want to be the type of person who would take these things.”  We all strive to be better or as Dani and Oprah said, “self improve”. I’m definitely guilty; after all I am hooked on a show called Super Soul Sunday.  Just this week I cleaned out my desk, tossed “never reused” reusable bags and in addition to the spinning and running and barre I do I’m about to start training at a place to get in “better” shape.

But what happens when we buy item x and it sits there? Are we breaking that promise to ourselves? Are we full of guilt or rather than better are we worse off for it all? Wasteful and/or disappointing?  We’re not but we need to turn the tide.

First, if you are a buyer of promise foods or vitamins…do the clothing or closet equivalent of purging the items you don’t use. As far as flax oil most nut and seed oils only last a year in the pantry anyway. If you’ve never been a vitamin taker to this point, you’re never going to take 10 things and if you dislike ginger, there’s no need to choke it down.

Then, pick one habit, not two or three, and commit to sticking to that through what we call at Foodtrainers “the 60 days of self destruction” (Halloween until New Years). This behavior is your healthy anchor.
Take that Vitamin D that is so hard to get, via the sun, from November to March
Get those 10,000 steps a day

A great way to improve your chances of sticking to this anchor behavior is to remind yourself of the function. I’m taking vitamin D as if I’m low in D I’ll lose weight more slowly. Or eating breakfast makes me feel as though the day is off to a productive start. Show yourself the rationale.

In LBT I call these basic behaviors Eating Essentials. The next time you’re tempted to buy a fancy, new product or supplement ask yourself if your essentials are in order. Most essentials cost little and benefit you a lot more than flax oil (not a fan). The other part of this is that our health behaviors send us a message. Truly taking care of yourself via resting or cooking or, as I mentioned Monday, spending time outside feels nurturing. It's where Foodtraining and “super soul seeking” overlap.
What’s going to be your healthy “anchor” behavior from now through the end of the year? Do you watch OWN? Have you read anything by Dani Shapiro?
The winner of the protein pancake/Flapjack giveaway is Erica, enjoy.

Monday, October 28, 2013

I think I'm a dog person

My friends laughed at me and saying things like “I can’t believe you’re getting a dog” or “you don’t seem like a dog person” and I took great (ok slight) offense to these comments. The dog owners I know love their dogs, take care of them and walk them- did I seem like someone who incapable of these things? I have a husband and two sons and (at least on certain days) I think they’d say I’m caring maybe even affectionate. But deep down I know these friends, as good friends often are, were dead on. I am not someone who ever talked to my kids in the “gootchie gootchie goo” voice, I am not someone who pets other dogs or someone who wants anyone, human or canine, to lick my face. I should say I wasn’t that way before because now? I think I’m a dog person.

Like I’m sure many of you, I like my life full and add more that I should. If my life were a plate, I would judge the portion of food on it gluttonous. At work, I like to see 8 clients a day, that’s ideal but on many days I see 12. I wake up at 5am to get stuff done. Right now I have a new book coming out, we doing a major renovation in Vermont so a new puppy? Why not? Well, when I was out on West End Avenue at 2AM with the new puppy the first night or when he sprinted over to the carpet in the foyer (which I love) and “marked it” or when he chewed on the wires that provide our internet connect I had a few responses.

But here’s the deal- this little puppy Bronco is really cute. And because I feed him and walk him (most of the time) and give him (kale) treats he likes me. I loved a study conducted on married people that concluded that your recovery from a stressful event is quicker when you’re around your dog than your spouse, interesting. And the walking? Well my Fitbit is happy (dog owners are more likely to get sufficient physical activity)…I get home from spinning and we go for a walk or when I get home from work. The truth is it’s nice to be outside at all these different times of day. I was watching my new favorite show Super Soul Sunday yesterday and Ann Lamott said, “when you are stuck spiritually just go outside”.

 I used to be someone who didn’t leave the house without brushing my hair and applying some concealer and now I go out in pajama bottoms or whatever else I am wearing or not wearing when nature calls for Bronco. The whole family is in love and it has given us a project or cause to come together around. My 11 year old walks him and the 9 year old works on his training and my semi-reserved (opposites attract) husband enjoys the lady-attention one gets when a grown man is with a teeny tiny animal (I am approached less often but I do have some new gay, male friends so it’s perfect). It’s really as though a whole parallel universe has been opened up.

If there’s one thing I could do without it’s the chatter from strangers. Having a dog has been shown to increase social engagement but I feel I was already engaged enough. I joke that I want a sign that reads “he’s a Boston terrier puppy, he’s 13 weeks old, yes he’s a lot of work but it’s all worth it.”

PS We had our follow up vet appointment. The little pup was just over 5 pounds when we got him and in a few weeks he’s almost 8 pounds. Too much “good” fat? I don’t want him to have issues but…kidding. Now that I’m in this world, I was happy to see the FDA taking pet food more seriously.
Do you have a dog? Have you considered getting one? Why/why not?

The winners of the Hilary’s Burger Giveaway are Nina, Andrea, Jen, EA (the Spicy RD) and Sasha.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Your Family Will Love Protein Pancakes and Giveaway

People often ask what my food philosophy is. Sometimes I answer with “staying organized and planning”. The subtitle to LBT (Little Book of Thin) reads “plan-it to lose it” as I feel that’s more than half the battle when it comes to healthy eating. But another important piece of Foodtraining is finding the best version of foods. While we love our green juice and turmeric, we’re not sitting around our offices subsisting on it. We’re just as likely to be sampling spaghetti squash concoctions, taste testing the latest health cookie or deciding which flavor coconut chips are the winner. In our newsletter this month we answer the pressing carb-centric questions…what do you do when you’re craving pasta or pizza or in todays case pancakes?

There are a lot of things you can do to doctor pancakes. You can add chia or pumpkin puree. You can also experiment with different flours such as quinoa or almond or you can just open up FlapJacked protein pancakes, they’ve done the work for you. I know, when I first heard “protein pancake” I was skeptical but we did our healthy homework and FlapJacked passed with flying colors (or in this case no colors, better when it comes to food). Jennifer and David Bacon (best last name ever for pancake people) wanted a pancake mix that was satiating and made with quality ingredients. Their mixes use coconut flour, oat flour, whey protein and buttermilk. There’s no artificial anything and each serving has just 200 calories and an impressive 17 grams of protein. I've been using the Buttermilk variety but there are flavors too.

Drizzle finished pancakes with organic coconut oil or 100% maple syrup Grade B.
FlapJacked wants you to try their pancakes. They have a sampler pack (apple cinnamon or banana hazelnut anyone?) to giveaway to 1 lucky breakfast-loving reader.
And tweet “Healthy pancakes anyone? Foodtrainers has @proteinpancakes for you"
Are you a pancake person? What do you do to add flavor or make them healthier? What's the one carby food you wish was better for you?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Adzukis Have Arrived and Giveaway

You know when you think about someone and then run into them shortly after? Or how about when you don’t know about something, hear about it for the first time and then it’s everywhere you look? I always wonder, was it there all along?  OK I’ll cut to the chase. I like all sorts of beans but had never had adzuki beans or maybe I just didn’t these little red beans by name. I was served adzukis in August along side salmon and they were nutty and delicious. Next thing I know, I’m in Citarella Market a lovely fish market in NYC but hardly bastion of cutting edge foods, and on the shelf are organic adzuki beans.I snagged them and until yesterday admittedly shelved them. Shortly after this adzuki encounter, I see the Hilary’s (veggie burgers extraordinaire) people at Expo East and see these adzuki beauties (above). So in my world, adzukis have arrived although they have been consumed in Asia for centuries, so what do I know?

About Adzukis
Adzukis started to be used here with the macrobiotic movement. In Asia they are often used in desserts though they are just as well suited to savory applications.Adzukis are lower in calories and have more protein than other beans; according to Dr Weil they are known as “the weight loss bean”. Adzukis are also easier to digest than other beans translation: less gassy. Due to their molybdenum (trace mineral) content are also known as a liver detoxifier. Adzukis are a diuretic and used to treat swelling. In Chinese medicine adzukis are used to treat kidney and bladder infections. And you may find this a stretch but in TCM the kidneys govern fear, adzukis therefore tradition says provide courage…I should probably stick to the protein content. Or, I’ll add that adzukis are very high in iron, good if you are prone to anemia or following menstruation. Phew.

Hilarys Adzuki  Bean Burgers are a great way to taste adzukis. Other ingredients include coconut oil, cumin, chilies and apple cider vinegar. Hillarys are gluten free, dairy free, corn free, nut free, egg free and soy free. They can be popped in a toaster or heated in a pan. These are my favorite veggie burgers and a freezer stable in our house.

In our Carb Riffs newsletter (coming tomorrow) we’ll also feature a sweet adzuki recipe.
I quick soaked the adzukis and then cooked them up, added Himalayan salt and coconut oil and I'll use them for salads, tacos...maybe even a smoothie if I'm brave.
Some other adzuki ideas:
Miso Adzuki Stew from Vegetarian Times
Adzuki Brownies
Adzuki Tea

Hillarys is give coupons for free packages of burgers to 5 lucky readers. To be eligible 3 easy steps:
Comment and let us know if you've tried adzuki beans or Hillarys before.
Like Hillary's on Facebook
and Tweet "@Foodtrainers has #giveaway for @hillaryseatwell burgers #glutenfree #soyfree #healthy"

Have you had adzuki beans? Sweet or savory? Are you a veggie burger person? Have you seen or tried Hilary's before? 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Bananas For Boobies

A few years ago, we had my friend Shari and her family staying with us in Vermont. As I prepared breakfast she looked at me and said “I can’t believe you’re making waffles from scratch”. I was confused “Shar, I’m not- I’m using mix I said pushing the Arrowhead Mills bag in her direction.” “Well still, you’re actually making them”
I wish I had really had the chance to know and cook with Judy
Later that day, Shari told me about her plans to start a blog. Shari had recently lost her beautiful mother Judy to breast cancer. After Judy’s funeral, I recall Shari was so touched with strangers approaching her with tales of Judy’s kindness. Some of this kindness was expressed through food. Shari tells of a home-cooked meal on the table every night. There was always an invitation and place setting for whomever would drop by. Shari knew she and others could benefit from Judy’s recipes and approach even if Judy wasn’t here to do the teaching.

Fast forward a few years, Shari can cook. Her blog is a huge hit (as ventures from the heart often are) and Shari and her sister Stacy decide to launch another venture. Enter Bananas for Boobies. I chuckled too but here’s the deal. You bake Judy’s Banana Chocolate Chip Loaf or as the campaign says “bake it happen” post your finished loaf to their FB page, you’re entered to win an iPad and money, via an anonymous corporate donor, goes to breast cancer research.

I love the idea of using cooking and community to make a difference. However, my nutritionist hat is always on (and my crazy desire to tweak I talked about Monday).
So I checked with Shari and she said I could make my own version. I wanted a loaf that was gluten free and sugar free (cancer cells can use sugar as fuel), I also wanted to add some of my “screw yourself breast cancer” ingredients green tea (in this case matcha) and turmeric (don’t be scared). My only problem was that as much as I cook, I don’t bake. At first I found a handful of interesting recipes and combined them- I ended up with a loaf that was wet in the middle and the conclusion that cacao nibs aren’t that enjoyable in banana bread. I then focused on Slim Palate’s version adding my own twist. The result? Green and delicious, the whole family enjoyed it. I just hope Judy wouldn’t be mad at me.

½ cup coconut flour (used Nutiva)
½ cup almond flour (used Bobs Red Mill)
1-cup ripe bananas (works fine even if they are not black)
½ cup coconut oil, if not already liquid melt it,  (used jungle Products) plus additional to grease
1 Tbs matcha (powdered green tea)
½ tsp. cinnamon
Dash of turmeric
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¼ tsp. liquid stevia (used NuNaturals)
4 omega 3 eggs
½ tsp. organic vanilla extract
Pinch of Himalayan salt

Preheat oven to 350
1. Use coconut oil to grease small 8.5 x 4.5 loaf and cut a piece of parchment to fit in the bottom on the pan
2. In a large bowl combine flours, matcha, cinnamon, turmeric baking soda and salt mix with a fork.
3. In a medium bowl whisk together eggs, extract, and stevia. Then add bananas to this mixture and whisk again.
4. Pour the egg/banana concoction into the flour/dry ingredient bowl. Use a wooden spoon to mix. 
5. Add the melted coconut oil and mix again.
6. Pour into the pan, making the top respectable and smooth.
7. Bake for 45 minutes and do the toothpick test.
8. Run a knife around the edges and flip the loaf out. Let it cool on a wire rack.

Nutrition (based on 1/8 of loaf) 260 calories, 4g sugar, 6g fiber, 7g protein per slice
Please go to the Bananas for Boobies site for Judy’s Chocolate Chip Loaf (the real deal).
Have you heard of Bananas for Boobies or Shari's blog? Do you bake? Ever tweak recipes to make them healthier?

Monday, October 14, 2013

Making things better: savory oatmeal

One of my many, many issues is that I’m fixated on betterment. This extends far beyond my own personal habits and diet. Truthfully, there are no limits. You think a certain hotel is amazing? I will have some ideas to make it better. You liked a book? I’ll explain how it could be tweaked and improved. My boys may ask me to check a math problem. Perhaps they got the correct answer but their handwriting? You get the picture. If I didn’t balance this exhausting tendency out with also being an avid complimenter nobody would want to come near me.

Sometimes I gather improvement ideas from others. Last month, I interviewed the inspiring Tricia Williams (perhaps you’ll recall her healthy donuts). She mentioned she enjoys “savory oatmeal with spinach, onions and shitakes”.  Oatmeal is typically sugar laden with maple or brown sugar, fruit, dried fruit or all of the above…but it doesn’t have to be. Your first meal of the really sets the tone for cravings and I encourage clients to curtail the sweetness. This means plain yogurt instead of flavored, smoothies with 1 fruit versus 3 but savory oatmeal? Genius.

Unlike Tricia, I’m a little too lazy and time-strapped (in her defense she saves this breakfast for the weekend) to sauté onions in the AM so I tried my hand at easy savory oatmeal options. First I paired 1 serving of oats with truffle salt, grated carrots (slightly sweet but not with the ingredients it was hanging with) and Kerrygold butter (photo above). I was sold

Then I bought this “cooking matcha” at Palais de Thes. Joanna, of office “snack queen” asked, “how is that different than regular matcha?” My reply “I have no idea but the tea lady sold me on it.” So into the oats went matcha, coconut oil and Himalayan salt.  I tasted it and it needed more flavor- so I minced some fresh ginger “sprinkles” and it was really good.

In our upcoming “Carb Riff” newsletter we’ll tell you about another exciting oatmeal to try but until then…savory oats it is. I’ll be tweaking my combos to make sure they get better and better.
Do you have “better” issues too? With all things or just certain things? Are you an oatmeal eater? Have you tried savory oats?