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I’m writing to let you know that I’ll be traveling to Puerto Rico on vacation for the next week. I won’t be blogging while I’m there but will have plenty to report when I return. We’ll be doing lots of cooking since we’ll be staying at a cousin’s house on the west coast of the island. I’m really looking forward to eating lots of fresh fruits and veggies. I’ll definitely share my experiences when I’m back so stay tuned!

A friend once gave me a quote from Yogi Bhajan that said “eat to live, don’t live to eat.” If you stop and try to understand what this quote really means it makes complete sense. It says to eat when you feel your body needs nourishment instead of eating just for pleasure. If you follow this motto, watch what you put into your mouth and eat foods that nourish your soul you are bound to help yourself become healthy.

This quote reminds me of the American work ethic. In the U.S. most of us live to work instead of work to live, whereas in Europe and many other parts of the world the ethic is the opposite. When I studied abroad in Spain I saw this work ethic first hand and was amazed to see how relaxed and social the people were. Clearly I’m generalizing and not everyone in Spain is like that but this is what I saw in most parts of the country.

People ask me how they should start this healthy way of eating, and all I can really say is there’s no time like the present. Why wait for a good moment? Dive into a healthy style and start treating yourself well as soon as possible. After all, you deserve the best.

Remember that eating healthy should be fun. Eat food that excites you, smells good and most importantly tastes good! As I always say, enjoy food in its natural state and stop moderating the true taste with salt and loads of sauce that contains unhealthy ingredients a.k.a. cornstarch.

“eat to live, don’t live to eat.”

Amherst, MA farmers market

Amherst, MA farmers market

This weekend my fiance and I went up to Amherst, MA for the weekend. It’s amazing traveling up to MA from NYC where everywhere you turn is cement buildings and pavement. Up there it’s all grass, trees and most importantly fresh air!

I think it’s so important to take a mini vacation from anywhere you are – just to get a change of pace and away from all the pollution.

While we were there we encountered lots of fresh, local produce and we were lucky enough to experience the local farmers market. What an experience the market was! I felt so inspired while walking past all the stands filled with fruit that was picked early that morning and all the other fresh goodies that these local vendors were selling. I was inspired to continue my streak of eating healthy and my eyes widened as I listened to how these farmers picked the fruit that was now sitting on the table right in front of my nose.

I got to thinking about the differences between local and organic produce. One would think that local produce would definitely be the first choice but here’s the debate – local doesn’t mean that they don’t use pesticides, it just means that the food didn’t travel thousands of miles to get to your supermarket or farmers market. Organic means that there was no pesticides used whatsoever but it may have traveled a very long way just to get to you.

My first choice is always organic – even though it’s better for the environment to eat local, I’m conscious about my body first and the environment second.

It’s a toss up for many people though and it may be worth going out to your local farmers market and asking them how the food is grown and the amount of pesticides that are being used.

In any case, everyone should get out to their local farmers market just to meet the farmers and experience what fresh food really looks like. It’s also known that food retains the most nutrients right at the time that it’s picked – so buying local means that the food will probably have more nutrients BUT it may contain pesticides. Clearly the best choice would be to buy local AND organic but it’s very hard to find that combination. Keep your eyes out though; you will come across it at some point soon I’m sure.

I’ve noticed that each time I go to a restaurant I’m more prone to getting a stomachache then when I cook at home. I started investigating what I do differently – besides knowing exactly what I put into my own meals. I began paying closer attention to my habits at restaurants and have found that I am more likely to eat larger amounts at a faster speed.

I have decided to do something about this because I WANT to be able to eat out. Don’t get me wrong – I love to cook – but sometimes its nice to “change it up” as I’ve talked about in past blogs.

I’ve made a conscious decision to eat slowly – even if everyone else is finished with his or her meal. I know that this will allow for a smoother digestion process and therefore I’m just going to be aware of it – end of story.

I know that when I eat too much food, my belly becomes very bloated and it doesn’t make me feel good at all. The only way for me to change this is to tune in to myself while I’m eating. Even if the meal is SO delicious that I want to gobble it all up, I know that if I just save the rest for tomorrow I will feel so much better AND to top it off, I’ll have a great meal for the next day!

I’m reading my body so much better now that I’m aware of it and the signals that it’s sending me. Pay attention to how you feel while your eating and let the food settle in before you make the decision to continue eating. Sometimes it takes a few minutes for your stomach to tell your brain that you’re actually full – so just go slowly and wait for the signals.

Your body has an amazing messenger system, so tune into it just like the text messages/emails that you constantly check every hour.

CRUMBS red velvet cupcake!

CRUMBS red velvet cupcake!

Yesterday I cheated a bit and had a cupcake from Crumbs, which if you are going to splurge is DEFINITELY something to indulge in!!

I learned something from this experience. Even though the cupcake was completely delicious I found out that by the time 3 o’clock rolled around, I was SO hungry that I almost couldn’t focus on anything else at work other then the hunger pangs coming from my stomach. I haven’t felt this way in a very long time and was surprised by the desire to eat yet another cupcake, or something else filled with lots of sugar.

The lesson from this is that the white flour and white sugar, which are simple carbohydrates, caused my metabolism to work too quickly. With the speed in my metabolism, my energy was used up and therefore I needed more food to finish out my day. If I had eaten complex carbs instead, my body would have taken longer to break down the glucose molecules, which in turn would leave me with more energy to finish out my day without the intense hunger pangs.

For many of you who can’t understand why you are so incredibly hungry by the end of your workday, think back to what you ate for lunch. Did you eat that extra cookie or sweet? Did you eat white bread instead of wholegrain? If so, try switching your habits and look for sweets that are fruit juice sweetened or made with agave.

If you change your midday snack to nuts, fruit, or something healthy, you will see a difference in how you feel by the end of your day. I’m sure of it.

I hope your metabolism gets back on track – I know mine will be back very soon.

If you like to drink tea and this summer you’ve found yourself spending your hard earned cash on iced tea– then I have a great solution for you.

Find your nearest health food store that sells loose herbs and make it yourself!

I recently did this and have been so happy to have my refreshing tea throughout the day that I made myself!

You need to have a tea steeper that you can stick in hot water. Bodum makes a great tea pot steeper that I will link here

I used lavender, chamomile, and lemongrass for my tea but the choices are completely up to you and your taste buds.

There are MANY herbs to choose from

All you have to do is boil hot water, then put three scoops of each herb into the steeper and then pour the hot water over the herbs and let it sit for a good 10 minutes or longer. Once that’s done let it cool down and then you can drink a cup and put the rest in the fridge for your iced tea. I didn’t add any sweetener but you can add agave nectar or even honey. Try it without any sweetener and taste the true flavors of the herbs. It feels so refreshing and calms me down.

Stay cool.

Here’s the thing, whenever someone tells me they are headed to the health food store or even a “healthy” restaurant I am always so thrilled – BUT I’m a little nervous for them as well. I say this because even though you’re in a natural, organic, healthy restaurant or a health food store DOES NOT mean that everything they sell is healthy! This really is a common misconception and you shouldn’t feel like you’ve been mislead, because these stores and restaurants try to cater to all types of people – mainly health nuts but others as well.

What I can suggest is to ask lots of questions! When you’re at a restaurant ask how your dish is prepared, the ingredients that are used and any other question that you feel is fit. Hopefully your waiter doesn’t get annoyed because this is their job – although, I have had some experiences when they get bothered by me but I just try to stay calm and explain that I have a strict diet – they should hopefully understand.

When at the health food store read the labels. You will most likely be able to tell if the item is healthy or not – if you need help, I am always available to guide you.

Try to watch out for restaurants that serve vegetarian dishes that seem healthy. For example, Many places serve vegetarian Chinese food that most people would think is healthy – but many of the dishes are made with a lot of oil, which causes a stomachache in my case and is just unhealthy in general. It is also important to watch your portion control when you eat out.

If you’re really in the mood for noodles and Chinese food then cook it yourself. You can make an easy stir-fry with rice noodles, veggies and tofu (or other type of protein). When you cook for yourself you know exactly how much oil goes in the pot and plus it’s so much more satisfying when you know you’ve made the meal yourself – it just tastes so much better!

I will post my personal recipe for stir-fry below:

This stir-fry does not have broccoli. I used a sesame drizzle sauce with a hint of wasabi from Trader Joes but I will make my own sauce next time.

Tuesday night dinner with my fiance. This stir-fry doesn't have broccoli and I used a sesame drizzle sauce with a hint of wasabi from Trader Joes. I plan on making my own sauce next time.

This will make enough for at least four people. If your only cooking for 1 or 2 people then I would still cook this amount so you can have delicious leftovers! This recipe is fully adaptable so feel free to change it any way that you like.

1 package of rice noodles (follow directions on back)

1 head of organic broccoli, (you can also chop up the stems and put them in – just cut off the very tip)

1 organic zucchini cut into round slices (you don’t need to peel it – just wash it well to wipe off any dirt) you can also use yellow squash or any other veggie that you prefer

1 package of organic spinach, kale or any other green that you like

1 medium onion cut into slices (you can add more if you like onion)

1 clove minced garlic

1 tsp minced ginger

1 tbs olive oil

1 package firm or extra firm tofu or other type of protein.

Sauce:

You can use a pre made sauce from Whole Foods or other health food store but make sure to check the label for sugar content and artificial ingredients. You want something that sounds appealing to you and doesn’t contain too much salt or sugar.

If you can’t find something then you can always make your own
I use these ingredients:

tamari (which is soy sauce without wheat)

umeboshi vinegar (which gives great flavor)

apple juice with no added sugar gives it a bit of a sweeter taste and dilutes the salty tamari

1 clove minced garlic

1 tsp minced ginger.

Boil the water for the noodles and start cooking while you’re making the stir-fry.
Add the olive oil to a large pan then put the onions in since they take the longest to cook. Then add the garlic and ginger (if your making your own sauce you don’t need to add garlic and ginger since it will be in the sauce already.)
Cook for a few minutes then add the rest of the veggies.
The tofu tastes best when marinated. If you don’t have enough time to marinate then just cut the tofu into cubes and put it in the pan. Let everything cook until it starts getting soft and then add the sauce. Make sure to save some sauce so that you can add more when you put the noodles in.

When the noodles are soft drain them and run them under cold water so they don’t stick together. Add them to your stir-fry and then drizzle some more sauce on them.

I hope you have fun with this. It’s pretty easy to make and only uses two pots, which is a simple clean up!

Eat one serving and I guarantee you will be full. This is such a better choice then going to a healthy Chinese restaurant.

As they say in French, bon appétit.

Last night I made a special dip called Kale Almond pesto that I found at Elana’s Pantry, which is a great blog for recipes. I thought it tasted delicious and didn’t need anything else to complete it – but when I served it to my friend he said, “this definitely needs more salt.” With that comment I knew he was only trying to help the recipe, but what I took out of it was that he’s used to eating foods that are loaded with salt, which completely covers up the true flavors.

If he took the time to actually cook something himself and see what ingredients go into each meal, maybe he would appreciate the true flavors for what they are, and not focus on the lack of salt. When someone says that it needs more salt – they are really telling you that they don’t like it at all and that you should add more salt so that they can’t taste the real flavor because they don’t like it! Maybe I’m wrong and sometimes the dish really does just need more salt, BUT in some cases I do believe this to be true.

Salt is knownsalt_wideweb__470x308,0 to make you swollen – so for your own health try to use it minimally and just let the flavors mix around in your mouth; you will make your body much happier without that extra shake. If your one who adds salt to something without even tasting it first, which I’ve seen plenty of times, I dare you to hide the salt; in fact maybe you should take if off the table and put it into a cabinet where it can’t be seen.

I know you will enjoy food for what it is – just try it. Worst-case scenario, you take the shaker back out of the cabinet – but for now, see if you can surprise yourself and keep it hidden.

Good luck and have a great day.

vector_flowers

These flowers remind me that life should be colorful and not filled with discomfort

About six months ago I was suffering with food issues just like many of you are – and by the way I still haven’t gotten it completely right yet. I’m still learning about my body everyday.

Before I started to make a change in my life, I would eat, then feel terrible and start the cycle all over again. I refused to make a change because I simply “liked food too much.” The truth was that I found it to be a burden and really annoying to make the change.

I was only hurting myself.

One day someone who I was speaking with, who also suffers from stomach problems, told me that if I continued eating the way that I was then I would have more of a chance of getting colon cancer in my future. That completely freaked me out and from that moment on I began making the change. It was slow, but I have gotten to the point where I am today – eating a diet without dairy, gluten and refined sugar.

To get to this point, I read lots of books on my condition and began paying attention to what I put into my mouth. Most importantly, I stopped treating my mouth as a “junk yard” where anything that looked good would fall right in.

I have stepped up my self-control because I constantly remind myself that eating something “bad” on a regular basis does NOT make me feel good! It looks good, but it completely ruins my digestion system. Of course I can’t always eat perfectly so once in a while I let myself have something that I should probably avoid and boy is it good!

I’ve found so many substitutions for the foods that I was eating on a regular basis – even sweet treats. There are replacements for the foods that you love, even if you don’t think it’s possible – IT IS – trust me! If I was able to make the change then certainly you are capable of it as well. We all have the ability; it just takes time and dedication.

Try as hard as you can to be conscious of what your body is really craving and not what your head is telling you that your craving – really feel it and try to pin point it. You will be amazed as to how aware your body is capable of being.

You are your best teacher, so enjoy the many lessons you are about to learn.

In many of the blogs and forums that I’ve read about health and eating – the emphasis is on changing the fad of eating fast, eating in our cars and in front of the television. The question remains on how to take you out of this routine? Blog writers can continue asking all these different questions, but how are they really going to help you?

Hands on help is highly encouraged for most cases. I would say to get yourself a Holistic Health Counselor (HHC) who can help change your ways that have been engrained in you for so long.

So much of our upbringing remains with us as we grow into adults, even the way we eat. If you stop to think about what types of foods you were eating as a child it may lead you to realize why exactly you are eating the way you are now.

I am on an amazing journey to become an HHC and can’t wait to dive into this new world of helping people in ways that they’ve never imagined.

I hope your day is filled with hope and laughter.

Twitter: TheHealthyMix

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