An Excuse For Simplicity

As I drove around my neighborhood yesterday afternoon assessing the previous nights hurricane damages, I could not help but think about all of the cities, homes and front yards in so many states that have been littered with broken branches, heavy tree trunks and other debris.  Being without power and cell service, I wasn’t able to hear the news, but I could only imagine the devastation that others were experiencing.  My sympathy was with those that were affected by this storm in any way, and still is.

For me, this hurricane caused some “speed bumps” in the road; Tim and I lost power on Monday afternoon, we were confined to our driveway and the few streets around our apartment by fallen trees and power lines, and judging by the mess of telephone poles, trees and electrical wires in the street in front of our place, we will most likely not be regaining power anytime soon.  At the same time, we were blessed with the safety that our home provided, the company of each other and our pup, and the opportunity to get creative about how we would spend our time without the internet, television, or electricity.

An excuse to bring out my stash of candles always excites me, so I had the house prepared for candle light way before the sun went down.  There is something so soothing about surrounding yourself with such soft light; it makes me feel like I am living a life of simplicity.  I used that feeling over the next few days and dove into thoughts and ideas of how I would spend my time, simply.

Writing.  I wrote in journal form, I wrote in exercise form, and I wrote in lists.  For me, writing in any form provides instant comfort.  I love seeing thoughts, feelings and even “to-dos” written out on a page.  This experience of writing by candlelight made me realize that I don’t make enough time for this in my life, something I really love to do.

This feeling continued on.  I read, something else I love to do but don’t make enough time for.  I read healing words from Caroline Myss and inspiring stories from Bernie Sigel.  Surrounded by quiet and low light, these powerful books brought me into a space of love and gratitude, of power and motivation.  I realized that bringing these kinds of words into my life on a daily basis would provide me with a feeling that I don’t get from a TV show or from reading a blog post.  The authenticity of sitting with a book is one that cannot be matched.

I took a walk, and have taken many since.  Having a connection with nature is something I feel very strongly about and I make a constant effort to include it in my daily life, but to walk around and witness the changes in my usual surroundings after a storm such as this can modify your view.  To witness the power that Mother Nature has over us seems to put our existence in perspective, and the respect that we should show her constantly is magnified at a time like this.  She is a mighty force.

The connections that I have felt with my loved ones over these past few days have been a beautiful reminder of the support and love that I have in my life.  It is amazing where a conversation can drift off to without the sounds of music, TV or any of our other electronic distractions.  Sometimes we can take these relationships for granted, and during this time I have realized the strong beautiful people that I hold in my life and the gratitude that I need to show them everyday.

I can continue on about how I chose to spend my days living in this simplicity but that is not my reason for writing this.  My purpose for sharing with you the last few days of my life and my “ah-ha” moments is in hopes of igniting emotions in you, new realizations or thoughts that may have come to you in this time of disconnect.  Maybe we can all take something from this and continue with it even when our power, televisions, internet, phones, computers, and daily living comes back into play.  Is there anything that you will hold on to?

With love and simple, wonderful things,

Amanda

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Collard Green Tempeh Wraps

In my opinion, people don’t eat enough collard greens, and in my honest opinion, I don’t either.  This week, I wanted to change that, and it turned out that there were some HUGE, BEAUTIFUL collard greens at Mrs. Greens… score.

I have cooked collard greens in the past, and because I don’t like sautéing or steaming my greens for too long, they always turn out pretty tough and fibrous.  Traditionally, collard greens are cooked for a long period of time and are a staple in southern cooking.  Although delicious, these greens tend to lose a lot of their nutritional content when over-cooked, so I needed a way to incorporate them into a dish, preferably at their highest nutritional content… raw!

Que the collard green wrap; the perfect way to ensure that you are benefitting from all of the awesome nutrition that collards have to offer while replacing a potentially unhealthy flour wrap.  Why are collard greens so good for you?  Well, let me explain.

Collard greens are known for their cholesterol-lowering capabilities and are shown to be the most successful at doing so compared to all other cruciferous veggies.  They also contain many cancer-fighting capabilities, and are loaded with vitamins A, C and K, as well as a ton of minerals and nutrients.  They are super detoxifying and help to support our immune system by fighting inflammation throughout the body.

You can put whatever you wish in this fun wrap.  Here, I sautéed some tempeh and included some greens, some seeds, and some cooked onions.

What you will need:

2 collard leaves

5 inch piece of organic tempeh

½ an onion, cut into slices

½ cup raw, sprouted sunflower seeds

3 tablespoons Braggs amino acids

2 handfuls arugula

Some of your favorite salad dressing, or mine J

Salt and pepper

Coconut oil

Begin by slicing your tempeh into ½ inch pieces, and place them in a pot of boiling water with 2 tablespoons Braggs.  They can cook here for up to an hour.  This process softens them, keeps them moist, and also infuses some of that wonderful flavor from the Braggs.  Here, I cooked them about 20 minutes.

Rinse, dry and dress your arugula.  Toss in the sunflower seeds and mix everything together.

When you rinse your collard greens, be very careful, as you don’t want them to have many rips.  Use a towel to pat them dry, and lay them aside to continue drying.

In a fry pan, sauté the slices of onion in some coconut oil over low heat until they are translucent.  Set aside.

Heat some more coconut oil in your fry pan.  Remove the tempeh from the boiling water and place the pieces in the pan.  Add the last tablespoon of Braggs and sauté on each side over a low flame for about 5 minutes.

While they are cooking, lay your collard leaves on a flat surface, preferably a cutting board, and carefully slice out the stem.  It is important to leaf the top part connected. 

Where the stem was removed, fold the 2 sides so they are overlapping and begin to add your arugula, seeds and onions.  When the tempeh is done cooking, lay the pieces on top and wrap everything. 

Start at one end, fold the leaf over all of the goodies, pull everything together with a slight tightening of the fist, and then roll.  Cut in half, and they are ready to be enjoyed.

Try replacing your traditional four wraps with these nutritious green wraps at any meal, and let me know what you come up with.

 

with love and greens,

Amanda

8 Ways To Keep Your Immune System Strong

This is the time of year when we really put our immune systems to the test.  We are bombarded with a change in season, a change in temperature, and everyone around us seems to be sick!  At a time like this, a strong immune system can keep you happy and cough/sniffle/sneeze free.  Here are my 8 favorite ways to keep your immune system strong this time of year.

1. Raw garlic

Raw garlic is medicine in a plant.   Yes, it can be used to flavor our red sauce and add some kick to our hummus, but raw garlic contains many medicinal qualities as well.  Many of you may of heard of its cardiovascular benefits, as garlic is known to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, but it also works wonders for our immune system.  It is rich in antioxidants, helps to treat infections (both internally and externally), and has anti-bacterial AND anti-viral properties.  WOW!  I mean, maybe you should go back and read that entire sentence again because that is a lot of power!

Garlic is great to incorporate into your daily diet and is best consumed in its raw form to ensure that you are receiving all of its benefits.  If you are cooking with garlic, try grating some raw garlic on top of the finished product (ex: sautéed veggies).  When I am feeling under the weather, I will swallow a clove of garlic like a pill a few times a day until that icky feeling clears.  This is a great way to blast your system with all of its healing properties.

2. Probiotics

Probiotics (aka ‘intestinal flora’) are the healthy, beneficial bacteria that live in our gut.  They are necessary for proper digestion, nutrient absorption and immune function.  Our gastrointestinal system houses around 70% of our immune system, so a healthy gut means a healthy immune system, and healthy intestinal flora means a healthy gut; see the relationship??

Fermented foods, such as raw sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha, contain probiotics, but if such foods are not part of your daily diet you may need to find them in supplement form.  Look for a dosage with around 5 billion organisms per capsule, and with more than 5 different strains of bacteria.  One of my favorites is Jarrow Formulas “Jarro-Dophilus EPS”.  They don’t need to be refrigerated so I can pack them on my travels and have no worries about them spoiling.  Another great brand is Udos.  Talk to the supplement specialist at your health food store to find one that is right for you.

3. Eat more raw foods

The joy of life!  When you consume raw foods you are literally eating life!  These foods are still alive, and they are providing us with the sunlight, water, and energy that they have stored during their growing process as well as the ENZYMES necessary to digest them.  Enzymes are killed when heated, and are responsible for doing all of the hard work in your body, such as digestion, healing, detoxification, repair, building blood and tissue, support brain function, reproduction, cell growth… the list goes on and on.

When we have a diet that lacks in raw food, we are constantly pulling enzymes from our “enzyme stash” for digestion, preventing other necessary work from being done.  When the other functions in our body aren’t getting the attention that they need, we begin to experience things like exhaustion, inflammation, signs of aging, mental fatigue, and a WEAK IMMUNE SYSTEM.  Most raw foods are loaded with the necessary vitamins and minerals to keep your body happy, so skip the heat and enjoy some foods the way nature intended us to eat them.  A green smoothie is a great way to get in a ton of awesome raw fruits and veggies into your diet in a tasty way.

4. Avoid inflammatory foods

Inflammation equals illness, plain and simple.  The key to a healthy immune system (and a healthy diet) is to keep these inflammatory foods in check by eating a mostly anti-inflammatory diet, which Dr. Weil explains here.  Foods that cause inflammation in the body include meat, dairy, sugar, gluten, alcohol, eggs, caffeine, processed foods and refined carbohydrates.  In moderation (preferably sparingly), these foods can be ok, but if most of your diet consists of foods on this list, then you may have some inflammation in your body wrecking havoc on your immune system.

Begin to notice your food choices throughout the day.  See if you can substitute that burger for a big salad with lots of veggies and beans and then pay attention to how you feel…   More energy?  Less sluggish?  I thought so…

5. Learn to love antioxidants

Our bodies are built to defend and protect us against harmful encounters, and anti-oxidants give us that extra boost.  Everyday, we are faced with harmful toxins, bacteria and viruses.  They may exist in our environment, our food, our beauty products, our water supply, and even in our relationships (a different topic for a different time).  Antioxidants help to boost our immune system and help to battle these harmful oxidizing agents by binding to them and escorting them out of our bodies.

Include high antioxidant foods in your diet, such as berries, leafy greens, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, beans, green tea, artichokes, red cabbage, broccoli, cherries, plums, apples, walnuts, almonds, cinnamon, ginger, and yes, dark chocolate.  Think bright colors!

6. Avoid antibiotics

Antibiotics kill ALL bacteria in your body, good and bad.  Since you now know why the good bacteria are so important, you can understand why it is a bad idea to kill off the good guys unless totally necessary.  These days, antibiotics are as easy to get as skittles, and because of their overuse, new strains of bacteria are developing that are resistant to medications.  To ensure that your body will react properly to antibiotics when you NEED them, limit their use.  It is also a smart idea to buy milk, meat and eggs that are antibiotic (and hormone) free.  Remember, whatever that cow was eating, drinking, experiencing and being medicated with, ends up on your plate… choose accordingly.

7. Eat your Omega-3’s

Omega-3 fatty acids are a necessary component in proper bodily function and are incredibly important to incorporate into our diets because our bodies do not create them.  They support brain function and development as well as cardiovascular health, and play a huge role in battling inflammation.  Omega-3’s help to strengthen our immune system so we can battle day to day encounters, and they also help to reduce the risk and symptoms of long-term disorders caused by inflammation, such as heart disease, strokes, certain cancers and auto-immune diseases.

Omega-3’s can be found in cold-water fish, such as sockeye salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring.  It is recommended to eat these fish at least twice a week.  Fish oil supplements are available at your local health food store or online, and provide you with the same benefits.  Make sure that they are “Third Party Tested”.  Eggs can be another source of Omega-3’s if the chickens are fed a diet rich in these essential fatty acids.  Talk to your farmer or find a brand at a health food store near you.  If you prefer a non-animal source, try hemp seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, freshly ground flax seeds, hemp oil or flax oil.

8. Stay hydrated

The body is about 70% water, so it should be no surprise that we need to be drinking water throughout the day.  No, coffee, tea, juice, and soda do not count as water.  I am talking about pure, preferably filtered, fresh water.  Hate the flavor?  Throw in a lemon, lime, cucumber, or some fresh mint.  A tall glass of water should be the first thing you have in the morning because or bodies are dehydrated from not getting any liquids all night.  Starting your day off this way will set a tone for the rest of the day, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself craving more.  It is recommended that you get half your body weight in ounces per day, so bring a reusable water bottle with you (Klean Kanteen are great), and sip it all day long.

So…  How will you strengthen your  internal army today?  Your immune system is the health of your body, and you deserve to be happy, healthy and vibrant!

with love and strong immunity,

Amanda

Juicing For A Day

If you have read Kris Carr’s book “Crazy, Sexy, Diet” than you know where my inspiration behind this post is coming from.  If you haven’t, I really suggest that you read it.  Its one of those books that will change the way you view food and your body, and it will motivate you into healthier eating and living while keeping things realistic.  Perfection!

Ah.  I really can’t say enough good things about this book.

In “CSD”, Kris Carr suggests a 21-day cleanse to kick off your new, healthy lifestyle.  My cousin Andrea and I decided that we would start it at the same time so we could have one another there for support and conversation.  Only being a week in, I have experienced some ups and downs, but I am very happy with it and also extremely grateful that I have someone to experience it with (thanks Ang!).

With that said, Kris suggests doing a day of juicing during this cleanse.  That is one entire day spent drinking green juice, purified water and herbal teas.  Never having done any sort of juice cleanse before (I know, right?) I was a little nervous, but also felt that the time was just right.  So Sunday night I took a trip to my local health food store and got enough veggies to last me through a day of juicing.  Does anyone smell commitment?  Yes!

So you may be asking yourself, why the heck do you need to do a day of juicing when you are already doing a cleanse!?  Let me explain.  The 21 day cleanse is more of a shift in diet, removing all animal products, gluten, coffee, alcohol, and other crap that we sometimes stuff our faces with.  It is a great way to give your body a break from a highly acidic, or even a slightly acidic, diet.

Enter the juice.  When you spend a day ingesting nourishment in a liquid form, it gives your body a breather from breaking down foods and a chance to focus on other maintenance your body needs, such as healing and detoxification.  During a juice fast, our bodies release the toxins that are stored in our organs, which over time could cause us some serious and scary damage.

Yesterday, I was prepared to go through some tough times, mostly because I know how cranky I can get when I need to eat.  Maybe it was this prep-thinking that helped me through it, or the fact that I kept myself busy, but it wasn’t really all that bad.  During the times when I wanted to give in and just eat a big ass salad or a pieces of toast with avocado, I thought about my insides, and all of the toxins that I was releasing.  I made myself some herbal tea or drank some more juice, and let the emotions pass.  Thinking back, this choice not only helped my body but it also helped my confidence; knowing that I was making the right decision felt really, really good.

In the book, there is a schedule laid out for you including suggested times to drink your liquid meals along with descriptions of different things you may experience (emotional rollercoasters, bathroom trips, hunger pangs and cleansing side effects).  Personally, I just rode with the day and went with what I was feeling.  I ended up drinking between 50-60 ounces of liquid nutrition, split up throughout the day, as well as tons of water and herbal tea.  Besides my many, many bathroom trips (liquid goes right through me) and my short lasting cravings for solid food, it was a pretty successful day, a day I might try and re-live every Monday… Yup, I said it!  Stay tuned…

Don’t want to juice for an entire day?  Totally cool!  Enjoy a big glass of liquid greens for breakfast, maybe even some more for lunch, and then end your day with a smoothie, a raw soup, or something else that is light.  Your body will still benefit from your time spent juicing, and finishing the day with something light will still give it a chance to super-detox overnight.

Green Sunshine Juice

Here are the 2 juices that got me through the day…

Green Sunshine

4-5 leaves kale

4-5 leaves romaine lettuce

4 celery sticks

1 cucumber

1 green pear (or green apple)

1 lemon

Handful of parsley

1 inch piece of ginger (optional)

Warming Beet and Carrot Juice

1 large beet

Warming Beet and Carrot Juice

2 large carrots

4 leaves romaine lettuce

1 inch piece of ginger

4 sticks celery

1 lemon

1 orange

Have any questions?  Message me, or comment below…

with love and juicing,

Amanda

Red Kuri Squash Soup

About a week ago, I was browsing around at the farmers market when this deep orange squash caught my eye.  I had never seen one like

Red Kuri squash from the farmers market.

it before, so I inquired.  “It’s called a red kuri squash, and the flavor is similar to that of a pumpkin” the man behind the booth told me.

“Whoa”, I responded.  “I have to try it”.

Since then, I have been admiring this kuri squash in my basket of fruits and veggies that I keep on a counter in my kitchen.  Last night, after discussing dinner options with Amy, I decided that I would turn this kuri squash into a soup.

I searched around for some recipes, and I found one that I tweaked to my own liking.

You will need:

1 kuri squash, peeled, and diced

½ medium onion, coarsely chopped

2 cloves of garlic

1 piece of fresh rosemary (or a bay leaf)

1 fennel bulb, cored and cut into this wedges

½ cup of chopped, toasted pecans

Olive oil (about 1 tablespoon)

1 pinch cayenne

1 pinch turmeric

Preheat your oven to 375˚.

Begin by cutting your kuri squash in half and cleaning it as you would a pumpkin, removing all of the seeds and stringy flesh.  If you like pumpkin seeds, try cleaning and roasting these seeds… I hear that they are pretty great.

Peel your squash, and cut it into cubes.

Add the squash, onion, garlic, rosemary and some salt to a large saucepan along with 2 cups of water.  Bring the water to a boil, and then cover and simmer over low heat until the squash is tender, about 20 minutes.

Squash, onions, garlic and rosemary cooking in a saucepan.

Next, place the fennel wedges on a baking sheet (covered with parchment paper to save a messy clean up) and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Toss well.  Roast the fennel for about 25 minutes, until the fennel is tender and beginning to brown.

Roasted fennel, just out of the oven.

When the squash is finished cooking, discard the twig of rosemary and working in batches, puree the soup in a blender.  Return the soup to a saucepan to keep it warm.  When the soup is fully blended, add the pinch of cayenne and turmeric, and more salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the roasted fennel, toasted pecans, and a drizzle of olive oil.

The soup can keep in the fridge.

The finished product.

The night was a big success.  Amy and I were incredibly excited about how the soup came out, and LOVED the roasted fennel and pecans. Yum!

with love and squash,

Amanda

Quinoa with Butternut Squash and Sautéed Kale

Farmers Market Squash

Squash is abundant this time of year and they are all pretty cool looking if you ask me; luckily they’re not just beautiful to look at, they’re delicious too!

Butternut squash is very low in calories but contains a good amount of dietary fiber and phyto-nutrients. It’s naturally rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin C and minerals. Kale is one of the most nutritious leafy greens around so why wouldn’t I add it in here? 😉 This dish is a nice mix of savory and sweet; I didn’t even crave dessert after it (and I always crave something sweet after dinner 🙂 ).

Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 cups of chopped kale
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup chopped raw walnuts
2 tsp. organic, unrefined coconut oil
1 tsp local, raw honey
1 tbsp dried tarragon
sea salt
black pepper
nutritional yeast (optional)

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the chopped squash in a bowl and drizzle 1 teaspoon of olive oil over it. Add a bit of salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly so that the olive oil coats all of the squash. Lay it in a baking dish. Once the oven is heated, place it in the oven and set the timer for 40 minutes. Be sure to check on them after 20 minutes and toss them around, then place back in the oven. Squash is done once it’s nice and tender. Set aside when done.

While the squash is cooking, rinse the quinoa and then place it in a pot and add 2 cups of water. Place the heat on high. Bring this to a simmer, then place the heat on low and cover it. Let this cook for 20 minutes. Set aside.

Melt 1 teaspoon of coconut oil in a sauté pan on medium high heat, once the oil is melted add the sliced onions, and sauté for 4-6 minutes until they become soft and translucent. Then stir in the kale and walnuts. Once the kale has softened, add 1 teaspoon of honey. Give it all a final stir. Cover and set aside.

Take a large mixing bowl and add in the quinoa and 1 teaspoon of coconut oil. Mix together until the coconut oil has melted. Then add in the butternut squash and stir. Lastly take the kale and place it on top of the quinoa and squash.  If you like nutritional yeast it’s great sprinkled on top. Enjoy!

Keep Healthy Eating Affordable; Wise Words from Andrea Beaman

A common complaint that I hear as a health coach is that eating healthy is too expensive.  Organic produce is often a pricier purchase; hormone and antibiotic free meat is usually double the cost of the conventional option; eggs from the local farmers market cost a few more dollars then those that can be purchased at the grocery store.

The thing is, I get it.  I know that it can sometimes be frustrating to pay more for something that you know you can get for less.  However, we have to begin to view what we eat differently then the way we view a hot sale at our favorite boutique.  Food is our medicine; it is what makes up our body, and good quality whole foods equal good health.  Plus, there are many options for getting good quality food at a cheaper price then you may see in your local health food store.

This past weekend, I got to hear many opinions and thoughts on this topic at IINLIVE, a health and wellness conference organized by The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, the amazing school that I attended to become a Certified Holistic Health Coach.  A large group of students came together in NYC to hear some of the worlds most respected leaders in health and wellness.  It was magical!

Role models such as John Douillard, Mark Bittman, Andrea BeamanDaniel Ahem, and Bernie Siegel shared their passion about health, the environment, treating the body with love, and the importance of eating nutritious foods.   Although each speaker approached the stage with information personal to their experience and area of expertise, there was a common theme; we need to feed our bodies whole, nutritious foods, treat our bodies with lots of love, and utilize self-care techniques.

So how do we get people to eat healthy when they want to save money?

Andrea Beaman gave some great tips on how to save money while eating for your health.  She suggests:

-Join a CSA.  A CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) is a way for you to purchase local, seasonal foods directly from your farmer.  A typical CSA will have an annual rate (for example, $500 for 6 months), and then deliver a fresh box of fruits and veggies right to your door once a week!  You get to eat super fresh, nutritious produce, learn about new veggies and ways to cook them, become more connected to your food by meeting your farmer and visiting the farm on which it is grown, and saving the money that all of this produce would cost in the grocery store. Can’t beat that!!  Find a CSA in your area here.

Beautiful colors at a local farmers market.

-Ditch supplements and eat real food.  As Andrea explained, people have become too dependent on supplements for the nutrients and vitamins available in foods. By ditching the $30 multi-vitamins and eating more leafy greens, veggies and fruits, we can save money while improving our health.  Our bodies absorb nutrition from a natural source way more efficiently then a pill created in a lab.

-Cut back on eating out.  On average, Americans eat out about 4-5 times per week, sometimes more, and this adds up!  The money that we spend at restaurants could instead be put towards purchasing organic, more nutritious foods for our home.

-Cook at home.  We all know that organic produce is more expensive, but remember, this is the fuel we are using to promote health and heal our bodies.  Do you really want to use that red pepper from around the world that has been doused with chemicals and picked before it was ripe?  Explore your local farmers markets and see what’s out there.  Local produce is usually more affordable than the organic options we see in our health food stores, and this gives us a chance to connect with our food.  When we cook at home, we have the opportunity to infuse our food with love.

Baskets of garden grown goodies.

-Grow your food.  All you need is a small piece of yard or some pots, sunshine and water, and you can grow your own fruits, veggies and spices right in your own home.  This is a wonderful way to learn about your food, connect with it on on a much deeper level, and enjoy it without feeling guilty about spending your money on store prices.

-Purchase the whole animal.  Purchasing an entire cow (or half of a cow) is a great way to purchase quality, grass-fed beef at a reasonable rate.  It also gives you the opportunity to meet your farmer, ask questions about how the animal was raised, what it was fed, and how it was treated.  Talk to your local meat vendor at the farmers market to find out what’s available, or try Local Harvest, Eat Wild, or American Grassfed to find a farmer near you.  Nervous about having too much beef?  Find some friends or a family to go in on the investment with you.

Remember, in the words of Andrea Beaman, “ You are worth every single dollar that you put into your body”.

with love and nutritious living,

Amanda

Mark Bittman on Eating More Plants

This past Sunday I was honored to attend The Institute for Integrative Nutrition’s Live Conference, which was held in NYC, as part of the blogger team. It was a day of inspiration and a reminder of what a strong and vibrant community Integrative Nutrition has and creates. To be in a room with like-minded people who have the same goal: to help people live healthier lives, is incredibly powerful. I’ve been to a few live conferences and each one brings new motivation, inspiration, curiosity and admiration.

At this conference, I had the pleasure of seeing Mark Bittman speak. Mark is an award-winning food writer and author. He writes ‘The Minimalist’ column in the New York Times and is well-known for his cookbook How to Cook Everything. He shared a lot of important and valuable information, along with some shocking statistics such as:

  • In a 12 ounce soda there are 9 teaspoons of sugar!
  • As a nation, 7% of our calories are from soda.
  • We eat 8-9 billion animals per year (if you strung them all together it would go to the moon and back!).
  • Only 10% of our calories come from unprocessed fruits and vegetables.
  • Only 1 in 4 meals contain an unprocessed vegetable.

    Mark Bittman

While these statistics are important in understanding some of the current problems we face as a nation regarding our food choices,  it also leaves the question, what should I do? What’s the best way for me to eat? Mark shared his personal story which helped to illustrate how on an individual level we do have control of our health based on what we choose to eat.  There was a time when Mark was suffering from sleep apnea, knee problems, high cholesterol and an overall need to lose weight. When the doctor told him that there was one thing he could do to help himself, Mark got nervous. The doctor told him ‘become a vegan’ …not exactly music to a food writers ears. But Mark decided that he would put his own twist on it; he would be a vegan until 6pm every day and after 6pm it was up to him to decided what he wanted, and there were no regulations. Guess what? Not long after sticking to this plan Mark lost 35 pounds, his cholesterol went down, his sleep apnea went away, and his knees were no longer a problem. He found a way to eat more plants that worked for him; this was crucial in his healing. He didn’t feel deprived or angry about what he was eating because it was on his terms. And in the end since he felt better eating this way he’s stuck with it. Important to note is that the vegan foods he ate weren’t fritos or soda, they were whole, unprocessed foods such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables. He mentioned that some of his friends did other things such as; vegan all week but not on the weekends, only eat meat 4 times a month or 4 times a week.  They met themselves where they were and started from there, which helps to make a goal successful.

As a health coach, I work with clients and help them determine what the small changes are that they can start making to reach their health goals. It’s a gradual process and doesn’t have to be an all or nothing situation. Remember, little changes are more likely to stick and will add up over time!

Change the proportion of the things in your diet. Eat more plants. See how you feel. 🙂

with love and plant-eating,

Jackie