Monday, July 18, 2016

Summer Eating in Balance

I was probably about eleven when I first consciously observed the widespread mixed messages of summertime eating and living. On the cover of nearly every magazine in the checkout line, there are photos of the most decadent summertime desserts, contradicting the bold, yellow claims to help you be "bikini ready in 29 days." Far too many summers of my own adolescence were spent with long days of fasting in the sun so that I could later enjoy a soft serve at the carnival and still fit into a bikini. My metabolism paid the ultimate price and by the time I was twenty five, I was ninety-plus pounds heavier than I needed to be and I could not have been further away from being bikini ready.

We all feel better when we lose some of that extra weight we have been carrying around. Even losing a few pounds can make a significant difference in how we feel about ourselves, the way our clothing feels, even the amount of energy we have.

With all of the appetite suppressing, oil absorbing (gall bladder & liver damaging) medications, meal replacement shakes, mail order meal plans, and supplements available, I cannot stress enough how healthful eating really is where it's at if you are serious about being well for the long run.  This means you have to focus on fueling your body with the really good stuff as your number one "diet" priority if you want to maintain weight and ward off chronic disease.  Nothing else will do the work for you; and even if short term results are gained from any of these gimmicks, they certainly will not be maintained. 

I really believe there is a big difference between not bad for you and healthy. In my mind it's much the same thing as "good" and "good enough."   If I am at a BBQ  and the scent of the fire beckons me to make myself a s’more, I can remind myself that there’s fresh strawberries on the food table, but sometimes that is not going to suffice.  This is especially true when I am in the mindset of just wanting a fire roasted marshmallow, oozy chocolate glob between two graham crackers. And even if the host offers me a less-processed whole grain graham cracker with dark chocolate, I am not kidding myself when I eat this version either. It might be better for me than the traditional version, but it's still full of sugar and refinement and far from being a health food.

That's what makes a life in balance so awesome. I know I can eat whichever s'more I choose, because it is a discretionary treat.  I am owning it.   The majority of the time, I am eating a 
 veggie-rich diet, with lots of dark, leafy greens, fresh fish, fresh fruit, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and I know that these foods nourish my body and soul and help to restore some of the damage I did with that s'more.  They also help me to feel no ill feelings about allowing myself enjoy an occasional serving of real ice cream, or a sliver of homemade blueberry pie, or even a cookie or two.  Because of my nutrient-rich diet, a treat here or there won't wreak total havoc on my body or my clean lifestyle. You may even see me eating [GASP!] a processed hot dog or some potato chips at a ball game, because I know that nothing sets us up for diet and lifestyle distress in quite the way deprivation does.  No, I am not suggesting that you never pass a donut shop without stopping out of fear of deprivation. I am saying that even in the cleanest of eating lifestyles, there truly needs to be some treats built in or allotted--free from guilt, remorse or self reproach. 

Even as healthy and mindful as I've become, I confess that my ears still perk up when I hear about weight loss miracles. Let's face it, it takes work to habitually eat well and stay physically active.  But like it or not, when we under eat and under nourish our bodies or rely on random supplements or fad diets, we mostly do these things in vain. If we follow a nutrient-rich eating plan that is well-rounded, we are honest about your exercise and food intakes, we should be able to lose and manage our weight.  Sure, it won’t be a quick fix, but I have never known success to be something that came without effort. The effects of obtaining a healthy weight through balanced eating are long lasting and will empower you in ways you never imagined.

When you eat the way that your body intended, it rewards you in ways that are far beyond that measurement on the scale. Some of the rewards of eating foods that love you back are healthy skin and hair, healthy blood sugar levels, healthy blood cholesterol levels, and increased strength and energy. You simply cannot put a price on being able to play on the floor with your grandchildren—neither can you obtain that experience simply by ingesting something out of a bottle. It is something that cannot be put into words, but experienced or observed in those that have found it.  It glows clear and bright. 

Summertime is the best time of the year for filling our bodies with minimal cost and effort because so many foods are fresh, local and in season.
Remember that fresh food is all around you. Look for farmer’s markets, produce stands or even at the garden out your own back door. Add extra nutrient-packed herbs whenever possible and use all that extra energy to chase fireflies during an evening walk or to splash in the pool with the kids. You don’t have to take my word for it: try it. Life’s a whole lot more fun when you have added energy from eating the foods our bodies love.

Enjoy each and every bite this summer, strive to get your nutrients met and feel good knowing you are loving the foods that love you back.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Dark Chocolate Filled Raspberries: Guilt-Free Indulgence!

I usually think of making these around Christmastime, as sort of healthier offering in a sea of far too much sugar.  Of course, seasonally speaking, these suckers are fresh and local right now.  My neighbor just gave me a basket of gorgeous berries from her own back yard, and I couldn't help but fill a few with chocolate. Super easy and quick: throw them in a bowl with some blueberries and this works every bit as well for the 4th of July as it does for winter celebrations.

fresh raspberries
3-4 squares of your favorite dark chocolate  –  we recommend 85% cacao Theo bars as you can get find dairy free and soy free varieties but even dark chocolate chips will work


1 - Cover a plate in aluminum foil.

2 - Chop chocolate and melt over double boiler or, if you prefer to use the microwave, melt in thirty second intervals, carefully checking to avoid burning, until chocolate is melted.

3 - Use spatula to scrap chocolate into a sandwich sized zip lock bag.

4 - Snip of a very small corner of the bag (you can always snip off more later but you can’t add bag back once you’ve snipped too far!).  I snip such a small corner that I could use the chocolate to write with.

5 - Fill each berry and place on prepared plate.  Refrigerate for five minutes before eating.  These will last 24-48 hours in the refrigerator.

Did I mention you get 12 of these for only 42 calories????  That's right, a tasty treat that's only 3.5 calories each.  Now THAT's what I call guilt free :)