Thursday, December 3, 2009

Time Travels with a Cook Book

I have this cookbook that was my grandmother’s. It’s yellow and stained and 623 pages. The cover has a double row of little women in old fashioned cooking frocks lining up to a big heart. The title of the cookbook: “The Settlement Cook Book. The way to a man’s heart.” It’s compiled by Mrs. Simon Kander of which there used to be a nice photo page, though it’s been ripped and lost except for a small piece where you can see her handwritten note, “Very Truly Yo---Mrs. Sim----.“ The inside cover states, “Tested Recipes from The Milwaukee Public School Kitchens, Girls Trades and Technical High School, Authoritative Dieticians, and Experienced Housewives.” It’s the twenty-eighth edition, enlarged and revised, September 1947.

I brought it out the other day to look up a recipe and while waiting for my tea water to boil, I started browsing the rest of the book. It’s been a while since I really looked through it and I’m pretty sure I hadn’t read the beginning of the book since I’ve become the Warrior Princess of Health. Actually, I may have never read it before. Boy, did I not know what I was missing!

Here are the “Three Golden Rules for an adequate diet:”

I. Eat something every day from each of the seven basic food groups.
II. These seven food groups are: (1) Green and yellow vegetables, some raw—some cooked, frozen or canned. (2) Oranges, tomatoes, grapefruit or raw cabbages, or salad greens. (3) Potatoes and other vegetables and fruits—raw, dried, cooked, frozen, or canned. (4) Milk and milk products—fluid, evaporated, dried, milk, ice cream, or cheese. (5) Meat, poultry, fish or eggs or dried beans, peas, nuts or peanut butter. (6) Bread, flour, and cereals—natural whole grain or enriched or restored. (7) Butter or fortified margarine (Vitamin A added).
III. After you have had the above—eat what you may desire, providing you are not on a restricted diet.

I have to say that I was surprised at the nutritional knowledge in the cookbook. The idea of needing raw foods and whole grains seemed to have gotten lost in the years following, which is why it surprised me so. However, there were quite a few things that seemed year-appropriate:

Mother’s milk is the best food for the newborn baby. If, however, the mother hasn’t enough milk to keep the baby contented . . . bottle feedings must be used. Bottle feedings are made by mixing definite quantities of cow’s milk or evaporated milk with water, then adding some sugar to make up the calories needed for the baby’s growth.

Every baby should receive orange juice and cod liver oil or their equivalent substitutes. These are usually started during the first month of life.

Between the second and third month, most babies appear dissatisfied with milk alone.

It goes on to say that cereal is the first food usually fed to babies but as the baby gets “older” he usually refuses it and then it’s time to introduce vegetables, usually between the third and fourth month. It gives a whole schedule too—with times and what should be fed at what exact ages. It even has a “diet for the pre-school child” with recipes such as SCRAPED BEEF, FLOUR-BALL, OATMEAL GRUEL and CRACKER GRUEL. What follows this section is “Invalid Cookery” with liquid diet recipes such as ALBUMENIZED MILK, ORANGE EGGNOG, TOAST WATER and BEEF TEA.

Many of the recipes call for “saccharin to taste.” It also often talks about foods being “irradiated.”

There’s a whole section on milk starting with the advice that “Milk should be cooled quickly after it comes from the cow and kept cold.” And there are definitions for the different kinds of milk such as FORTIFIED, HOMOGENIZED, CERTIFIED, EVAPORATED, CONDENSED, SKIM, BUTTERMILK AND SOUR MILK (of which directions are given as to how to make it, “preferably with raw milk.”

There’s also a substantial section on coffee starting with instructions as to how “to clear boiled coffee” using egg shells. “Three egg shells will clear one cup of ground coffee.” And then there is “Egg Water.” Here’s the recipe:

1 egg
1 cup cold water
pinch salt

Wash and break egg in large cup or pint jar, beating constantly while pouring on 1 cup cold water. Cover and place in refrigerator for future use. For each cup of coffee use 1 tablespoon of the egg water.

It never does explain why egg should be added to coffee. The rest of the section talks about proportions used in making coffee and recipes for BOILED COFFEE (USING EGG WATER), COFFEE FOR 40 PEOPLE (why 40?), INSTANT COFFEE, DECAFFEINATED COFFEE, DRIP COFFEE, PERCOLATED COFFEE, CEREAL COFFEE (I have no idea) and LEFTOVER COFFEE. There’s also a reference to ICED COFFEE (see page 532).

It then becomes a somewhat standard cookbook, though some recipes are reminiscent of older times (and Bugs Bunny episodes) like FRICASSEED GOOSE, SUCCOTASH, and WELSH RAREBIT.

Some recipes I’m thinking of trying, if just for the names, like RINKTUM-DITY and ENGLISH MONKEY. There’s a BUTTERFLY SALAD with the ingredients of pineapple slices, candied fruit, pistachios and asparagus tips and a dish called SHRIMP WIGGLE.

In the back of the book are several pages dedicated to canning. Finally, Chapter 45, Menus, gives advice on PROVISIONS FOR 40 PEOPLE (again!) and FOOD COMBINATIONS, such as FRIED LIVER AND BACON, FRIED ONIONS, MASHED POTATOES, APPLE SAUCE. Following this useful list are suggestions for “Home Dinners,” an “Oyster Supper,” a “Chinese Supper,” “Sunday Night Suppers, “Buffet Suppers,” “Cocktail Parties,” and several pages of “Luncheon Menus.” There are more too, for club parties, tea parties and a children’s supper party. The “School Lunch Menus” include "(No.1) Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches, page 322." Following that are "Holiday Menus" for every imaginable holiday. There’s even a page and a half of “Meatless Dinners.” The book ends with the last page, “TO BUILD A CAMP FIRE” and “CAMP COOKERY,” including how to broil a rabbit or squirrel.

I am inspired to try a few things. Maybe it’s that I just saw the movie “Julie & Julia” where Julie decides to cook all the recipes in Julia Child’s cookbook “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” in a year’s time and blog about it each day. I will not do that, but I may be back once or twice if I do have a story to tell while cooking up some English Monkey.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Chocolate Without the Guilt

It always happens around this time of year--I can't seem to get through the day without craving chocolate.  Of course, the craving isn't exclusive to the cooler weather--I love chocolate regardless of the season.  It's just that come November, I think of it every day.

To confess, I've been having it every day too.

Chocolate for the Deb of 2009 is a far cry from the chocolate of my past.  Oh, I've always preferred dark chocolate to milk.  Don't even talk to me about white "chocolate."  Dark is what it's been for me ever since I was a wee one.  But in the old days, I didn't know what real dark chocolate tasted like.  Little did I know how deprived I was.

There's the Callebaut, Scharffen Berger, and Valrhona chocolates; arguably some of the world's best.  But I want to be socially conscious, environmentally responsible, and nutritionally pure, so there are others I prefer:  Theo Chocolate is one as is Terra Nostra, both organic and fair trade and undeniably delicious to boot.  More affordable, Green and Black's chocolate is organic as well and their Maya Gold label is certified fair trade.  Also less expensive, but not necessarily compromised is Dagoba, which is organic and has many products certified fair trade.   

None of them are cheap.  But I'm kinda glad about that.  It makes me savor them longer and eat less.  Sort of like Charlie Bucket when he gets his annual chocolate bar.  Good chocolate deserves to be appreciated.  Every single bite.  And when I do this, it's truly guilt-free.  In fact, it's so pleasurable, that it's good for me--my body happily receives the wonderful beneficial flavonoids that act as antioxidants fighting off the free radicals that run rampant in our bodies and can cause disease if we don't maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle.  On the flip side, when eating not so healthy chocolate (that chocolate birthday cake that I just had to have--after all, it was MY birthday), I often think not so good thoughts, making it doubly unhealthy.

My latest kick in guilt-free chocolate is this recipe I found on the Whole Foods Market website:  Flourless Black Bean Brownies.  Chocolate and beans!  How can you get much healthier than that while still getting your sweet tooth fix?  I've adjusted the recipe so as to not include as much refined sugar (or none if you go with the grain-sweetened chocolate chips).  Hope you find them as delicious as I do (and my family agrees!).

Flourless Black Bean Brownies

1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added black beans, drained and rinsed
3 large eggs
1/3 cup melted butter, more for the baking dish
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla extract
1/2 cup date or palm sugar
3 tablespoons dark agave nectar
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or grain sweetened)
1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Butter an 8-inch baking pan. Place the black beans, eggs, melted butter, cocoa powder, salt, vanilla, sugar and agave in the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth. Remove the blade and carefully stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts. Transfer mixture to the prepared pan. Bake the brownies for 35 to 40 minutes, or until just set in the center. Cool before cutting into squares. The consistency is dense and fudge-like, unlike traditional brownies, but wonderfully delicious.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Ode to the Apple

I watched a gull eat an apple this morning in the Bed Bath & Beyone parking lot.   When I first noticed it, I felt happy that it was eating something healthy.  Having lived at the shore virtually my entire life, I've seen many a gulls eating garbage, both literally and figuratively.  Then I thought, how sad, because this gull was eating a much healthier breakfast than a good portion of the children in our world.  An apple.

I often bring a gigantic bowl of apples to health expos where I have a table to offer people my services.  Along with the bowl, I have a poster with an apple in the background of a hundred or so ingredients listed.  This is only a partial list.  In one apple, there are vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, many of which are still unnamed and unknown--all of them working together magically to deliver a powerful dose of health to the fortunate being eating it.  An apple.

People don't realize that a simple addition of one apple a day, honestly, can improve our health greatly, especially if one is not prone to eating fruits and vegetables regularly.  It's a good way to start a day and to start the path toward eating a more healthful diet. 'Tis the season they're at their best--freshly harvested and in a variety of colors, sizes, and flavors. Nature's candy.  There's bound to be a least one that fits your tastes.  An apple.

Go for it.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Getting It

In a recent session with a client, we were catching up from our summer hiatus (seems health and nutrition counselors are not in demand in the summer months) and I asked the somewhat dreaded question:  "So, what held?"  I was referring to all the sessions we had before the summer.  We met about five times and he was really getting it--going full force into changing his lifestyle and habits.  He was my favorite client, of course. 

I had expected that he fell off the wagon a bit--not having been held accountable by me and having all the temptations of summer: ice cream, BBQ's, beer, etc.  So, I held my breath as I waited for his answer.  "Pretty  much everything held," he said.  He went on.  "Once a week, maybe, I'd splurge, having some pizza or a hamburger, maybe, but other than that, I was good almost all the time, eating lots of real food and exercising.  I felt great all summer and I'm down 36 pounds now."  I let out my breath and smiled a big smile. Then he added, "I made the turn, you know.   This is my life now.  I'm not dieting.  I'm living, but living much healthier, and to tell you the truth, I don't even miss any of the stuff I used to eat.  I feel too good to go back."  "Wow, that's great!"  I said, wanting to jump up and hug him.

With all the people I've worked with (or wanted to work with) there are only a few who "get it."  I don't mean to say that other clients weren't successful in their work with me.  It's just that most people go along with eating better and exercising because they know it's good for them.  It may very well "stick" too, but the difference is a switch in thinking where you don't really have to think much anymore.  It's not so much the choice between McDonalds and an organic, free-range burger from a local mom and pop as much as it is the choice between the healthy burger and a veggie wrap.  In other words, McDonalds isn't even an option anymore. It doesn't really occur to you to go there or to grab a bag of M & M's at the checkout counter.  They no longer apply to you.  Maybe once in a while you'll indulge, but on an every day basis, these just aren't a part of your agenda.

It takes a while to get there for some.  It's a matter or readiness, I suppose.  And there are different levels of "getting it."  If you've grown up and lived in the typical American lifestyle, there are a lot of habits that people want to shed and the marketing of products in the U.S. doesn't help.  You may have gotten rid of fast food in your life, and that's an accomplishment.  But then there's another level, and another after that.  People just have to find what level they are comfortable in.  There are some extremists who keep on getting healthier and healthier so much that they feel they can't be a part of the typical American society any longer.  They get it, of course, but there's a cost as to how much.

I suppose it's not really something you have control over either.  You can't just all of a sudden just get it.  It usually takes an event that snaps you into it or you just take in enough information that one day you realize you've gotten it and never even noticed when it all started.  Sometimes it's a little of both.  For me, the seeds had been planted as a child but it took my infertility to get me on the fast track where I've been for the last ten or eleven years.  Even the fast track has baby steps.  I have little epiphanies every once in a while where I "get it" a little more and more.

So, you get it or you don't.  And if you do, that's great--you may live longer and more comfortably.  Maybe I'll see you out on the tennis court for the 100 and older league.  If you don't get it, good luck, but then again, you probably aren't reading this anyway.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Meet Raab

Few thing smell better to me than garlic simmering in butter. Many of my recipes start this way, some healthier than others. My not so healthy indulgence, linguini in clam sauce, is one of my favorites. Since I only make it once or twice a year, I savor every bite. At this time of year, however, my simmering garlic is for the broccoli raab that I just picked up at the market this afternoon. Broccoli raab is one of my top three green vegetables. I think I could probably eat it every day for a month and still not get sick of it.

Not everyone feels this way about it. Usually when the subject comes up (and, believe it or not, it comes up quite often), people will say they don’t care for it because it’s too bitter. Yes, it is bitter, and if it’s made in the traditional Italian way (I assume it’s the traditional way since I only ever see it in Italian restaurants), it is quite bitter. Not mine.

But before I get to my non-bitter recipe (and if you’re one of those who thinks you don’t care for it, you MUST try this recipe—I know I’ll convert you, that is if you are already a vegetable lover—which you SHOULD be), let me tell you a little about how wonderful this vegetable is.

Broccoli raab (aka rapini) is a member of the Brassica family of vegetables along with broccoli, spinach, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, collard greens, pak choi and kohlrabi. These vegetables contain phytonutrients that help our liver detoxify chemicals that are potential carcinogens (cancer causing). That alone is reason to add these veggies to our regular diet.

Aside from the cancer preventing benefits, broccoli raab also contains numerous vitamins and minerals, calcium being a substantial one. Other big hitters are iron, and vitamins K, E, and A. The best part—the caloric intake is light for such a nutritional punch. It also, like most other vegetables, has the necessary dietary fiber that we all need to keep our digestive tracts functioning at their best. Let me also put the plug in for it being an anti-inflammatory vegetable, though there are other more famous ones that help heal inflammation.

So, give it a try if you haven’t and give it another try if you have and didn’t care for it. I’ve gotten rave reviews.

Deb’s Broccoli Raab

1 bunch broccoli raab (rapini)

4 cloves garlic, crushed and sliced

½ cup chicken stock (or vegetable stock)

1 Tablespoon clarified butter

Bring a 2 quart saucepan filled with water to a boil. Trim the woody ends of the broccoli raab, but keep the bunch together. Once the water boils, add the broccoli raab and blanch for two minutes. Strain and put on a large cutting board. Chop it to 1-2 inch size pieces. In a large sauté pan, melt butter at medium high heat. Add garlic and sauté until fragrance can be smelled (pause and savor). Add broccoli raab and sauté for a minute or so. Add stock and heat for another 5-7 minutes at medium heat. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

My Quest to Health the World

The older gentleman went out of his way to move his groceries up so I had room to start loading the belt with mine. He thoughtfully put the divider up and pushed it forward to give me even more room. Then he looked at me and smiled.

“Thank you,” I said with a smile back and began loading my stuff. As I was doing this, I watched him and his wife put their groceries in bags. Plastic bags. He picked up his packaged steaks and other beef items (there were four) and placed them into the plastic bag on the metal frame. When it was full, he picked up the bag and put it inside another plastic bag. I took a quiet deep breath. “I’m sure he has no idea,” I thought. Nice guy. (I had heard him try to drum up small talk with the cashier, giving her sympathy for how busy it was at the store today.) “He has no idea what negative effects he has on his health, the environment, and the welfare of animals. He has no clue.”

I am not perfect, of course, and I have no right to judge anyone else. I am not right and he is not wrong. I am not good and he is not bad. In fact, I am no different from him. Yes, I brought my own canvas bags and bought mostly organic produce and no meat. But, I also didn’t bring enough canvas bags and so I needed to use a plastic bag. I drove to the store instead of biking and I’m sure I did many other things on my simple trip to the grocery store that some people would consider terrible, though I’m not really sure what they are.

But that’s my point. Several years ago, I had no idea that using plastic bags was harmful to the environment. I’m sure I double bagged. I didn’t even think about it. Nor did I think about buying chicken that was factory farmed and treated inhumanely. I used products harmful to the environment in my home and on my self and my babies. I’ve learned a lot since then and there has been new information brought to the public attention since then. But that doesn’t mean everyone reads it. I would venture to say that most people don’t. I do, but that’s because I have a passion for health.

When I first became “enlightened” on living a truly healthy lifestyle, I also became slightly depressed. I had gone to a conference where a holistic doctor spoke of how he cured cancers and got diabetics off their insulin. He named a number of other diseases and conditions all cured through proper diet and lifestyle changes. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. I was like a fruit perfectly ready to be picked. I came home from that conference ready to cure the world of its disease, or at least those who I cared about most.

I thought, at that time, that I had the secret weapon against all ills. I thought—here I have the answer, and when I tell people all their health problems will fade away. We will all live to ripe old age feeling fine up until the very end. They will be so happy. It will be like they hit the lottery and all of a sudden, they had no more debt.

But I was wrong. People didn’t want my secret weapon. They didn’t buy it. Or, maybe they believed it but it didn’t pertain to them, or it was just too much of a change that they’d rather depend on quick fixes, even though they never really fixed. Over and over again, I’d tell people my secret, and over and over, they’d shake their heads. I felt as though now I had this treasure that I couldn’t share, as if I won the lottery, but I could only spend it on myself and alone. That’s when the depression set in. I couldn’t change the world if it didn’t want to be changed.

I’m not one to be depressed for long. I knew I had to make a move in one direction or another. One could be to trudge on, continuing with my quest to heal the world. Another could be to isolate myself, becoming a hermit happily doing the things I believe in with no one to challenge me. Or, I could remain in the social world and get cynical and bitter, telling everyone else to suffer for being so ignorant and stubborn. I considered all of those.

For a long while, I felt very alone. I couldn’t relate to the people I once related to. I couldn’t accept that they made choices that were unhealthy. Even friends I was fond of for a long time seemed different to me. I started to avoid social situations where my new values would be challenged—barbeques, amusement parks, even children’s birthday parties. Worse, my husband wasn’t on board with my new found health choices. Our debates would turn to arguments, which would lead to more feelings of loneliness. I became a self imposed outcast.

And then I found others. I found a group of people dedicated to living healthy. I joined them and a whole new world opened up to me. That’s when I began my quest to heal the world. I’m starting small and I’m learning a lot.

I’m learning that I can be a model and set examples, but I can’t force people to change. In fact, I’m learning, the more I keep quiet and live the way I believe, the more people listen to me. I walk the talk. And if I’m quiet enough, I notice the changes. Usually they are small and with my own family, they are slow and gradual, but as I look back and remember what it used to be like, I see how much has changed for the better.

People do want to be healthy, but they want to do it on their own terms and within their own time frame. Often it means being healthy in one area, but not so much in another. I have to remember that it took me a long time to get to where I am and I wasn’t so thrilled to give up some of my comforts. I still have some. I have to accept that and not judge people. And I have to remember that my definition of being healthy is not my neighbors’ definition. In fact, within my peer group of other healthy people, we often disagree about what is good and not good. So do the “experts.” We each have our own path. I also have to keep in mind that although this path may result in a long, healthy life, that doesn’t guarantee that I am not hit by lightening or some other random tragedy. With this in mind, I try to make sure I enjoy myself and not live so strictly as to deny pleasure for the sake of a few extra months of life.

Lately, I try to avoid looking at others groceries when they load them on the belt at the supermarket. I look at the people and smile and then bide my time scanning the magazine rack until it’s my turn to check out. I feel much better this way. I do however, load my groceries quickly so that they might get a chance to see what I’m buying—maybe they’ll notice and take note subconsciously. Probably not, but it’s worth a try.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Keep on Walking

I have to be honest. Sometimes I feel like saying, "screw this--it's too much work!" Sometimes, I want to just not read the labels. Sometimes, I want to live carefree and eat that croissant or that piece of chocolate cake and NOT THINK ABOUT IT. I want to walk through a public space and NOT notice that a third of the people are overweight. I want to throw away that plastic bottle instead of holding onto it until I find a recycling bin. Sometimes I just want to be NORMAL.

But then I remember that people actually do pay attention to me. I have changed some peoples' lives, even if it was a small change or a few people. They look to me as an example--a guide to what is healthy and good for them and the world. And this thought makes me stand up straight and vow to keep going. I really have to keep walking the talk if I want to change the world. It's not just what I say. Anyone who knows kids knows this.

But then I wonder how my clients deal with this thought. I know they find the transition hard sometimes--when they make changes, they see that it will take some effort to be healthy and it's not temporary. They have to decide whether the effort is worth it and it's my job to convince them that it is. Of course, the challenge in this is that it's hard to look into the future and be sure of a good quality of life when there's so many things that can happen between now and that future. And it's really hard to link that future healthy person to the present one who really wants to eat that Big Mac.

I never really thought about how much of my work is the art of persuasion. Of course, half the work is done already by the time my clients come to me. Something or someone already convinced them that they need to change--that becoming more healthy is something they have committed to. My clients are actually the easy audience. It's my family and friends who are the challenge. They aren't with me because they want to learn how to be healthy, and they certainly don't want me to treat them as clients. So, this is where my walking the talk comes in. Silent persuasion. And though they may not admit it to me or to themselves, I do believe it works. I secretly smile and pat myself on the back when I see these little changes or hear something that echoes what I've been preaching all these years. That alone keeps me going.

"What keeps you going isn't some fine destination but just the road you're on, and the fact that you know how to drive. " Barbara Kingsolver

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Mighty Sea Vegetable

As I was making my dinner tonight, I was thinking about how good it would taste and how I should eat more sea vegetables. What are sea vegetables, you ask? Simply put, they are sea weeds. And there are a wide variety of edible sea weeds, believe it or not. Asian cultures have been eating sea vegetables for thousands of years. That may be part of the reason the Japanese and Chinese are some of the healthiest people on Earth.

Sea vegetables are one of the best sources of iodine, which is a mineral we all need for proper thyroid function. They are anti-inflammatory and loaded with phytonutrients. They are packed with vitamin K, Folate and Magnesium and have calcium and iron as well to make one of the world's healthiest vegetables.

Some of the more well known edible sea vegetables are dulse, kelp, hijiki, nori, kombu, wakame, and arame. Many of these are used in traditional Japanese cuisine. If you are a sushi lover, you already are familiar with nori (it's what the rice is wrapped in) and may also be familiar with wakame (that's what's at the bottom of your miso soup) as well as hijiki and arame which is in their standard "seaweed salad." I use kombu pieces when I cook beans to cut down on the gassy enzymes. Kelp is a great seasoning for soups as is dulse. Besides seasonings, most sea vegetables are best used in salads and soups.

You can buy sea vegetables at most health food stores. Give them a try!

Here's my dinner recipe. It's delicious!

Deb's Seaweed Salad

1 cucumber, peeled and sliced thinly
1/4 cup instant wakame flakes
1/4 vidalia onion sliced thinly
1 tsp gomasio (Japanese seasoning with sesame seeds and sea salt)
1 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs ponzu sauce (a citrus based sauce used in Japanese cuisine)
1 tsp toasted sesame oil

Add a cup of water to the wakame flakes and let sit for 10 minutes. Strain the water. Toss the wakame and the remaining ingredients together in a big bowl and let stand for 30 mintutes in order for the flavors to blend and soak into the seaweed and cucumbers. Can be refrigerated and eaten the next day as well.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Last night I had Ben & Jerry's Peanut Butter Cup ice cream. This is not a confession. People I know often tell me that they are self-conscious when they eat around me, worrying that I'm taking note of their food choices and judging them. To be honest, of course I notice. And two years ago, I probably would have judged them silently. These days, however, I don't. People make choices that they make--it is what it is. I'm glad I make them self-conscious. Maybe they will make healthier choices knowing I'm going to be there. It can only be a good thing.

I know that many of my friends have made big changes in their food choices just from hanging out with me and asking questions and seeing what I'm eating. I know I've made a lot of people healthier overall, and these aren't even my clients.

But, let me get back to that ice cream I had last night. No one except my family saw me eat it, but there are times where I get ice cream when I'm out or have a piece of cake at a birthday party or a dessert at a restaurant, and I am the one who is self-conscious because I am wondering what people are thinking watching me, the Princess Warrior of Health, eating something "unhealthy." Do they think I'm a hypocrite? Do they think that maybe it's OK to eat this stuff since I'm eating it? Does this make them go back to eating junk more often because they saw Debbie Peterson eating a piece of cake? I hope not.

What I've learned over the last couple of years is to lighten up. I eat well--very well--99% of the time. I eat a lot of vegetables--probably 10-15 servings a day. Fruit too. And my protein and fat choices are healthy as well. I never eat at McDonald's, and I rarely eat any kind of processed foods. So, once in a while, I have ice cream. Yes, I read the ingredients, and I won't have it sometimes if it has high fructose corn syrup or artificial colors or flavors. But, I will have it with all its sugar and dairy despite knowing it isn't good for me, physically.

But it is good for me because I enjoy it and have fun while I'm eating it. And because I don't have it often, I savor it and enjoy it a bit more than I used to when it was an often occurrence. I actually really enjoy it. And though I can't say I have no guilt eating it, I have almost no guilt (I'm working on that).

I don't tell my clients to give up things they enjoy. I tell them what's good and bad about it as far as nutrition, and they often make the choice to give it up on their own, but I also encourage them to indulge in it once in a while. I tell them to really enjoy every single bite of it. Savor it. Make it worth it. Usually, they have less of it when this happens. When we actually pay attention to what we're eating, and get all the flavors and textures and appreciate them, we don't really need to gorge on them. It becomes pointless.

My husband finished the pint last night. Ten years ago, I would have been upset that he ate my ice cream. But honestly, I didn't mind at all. I didn't even think about it. I was done with it. I truly enjoyed my 1/3 of the pint and it probably would have sat in the freezer for a month or more before I threw it out. I couldn't have imagined that ten years ago. It feels good. I'm getting hungry talking about all this food. It's lunch time. Bon Apetite!

Friday, June 19, 2009

I just published my Early Summer Newsletter. My feature article is about wheat and gluten sensitivity. Check it out here: I send it out on Constant Contact for those who are on my mailing list. Let me know if you'd like to be added!

Today, I'm thinking about this fabulous book I'm reading called An Apple A Day: The Myths, Misconceptions, and Truths About the Foods We Eat by Joe Schwarcz, PhD. He's a great writer and the format of the book is very friendly--each topic is a very short chapter. Good for people like me who are reading several books at once, running my own business and being a mom. Check it out if you're interested!

Looking forward to a great weekend--I'm going to Florida with my mother--escaping the rain (I hope). It will be a nice rest before my full-time mommyhood takes over again (the kids are finished with school on Tuesday). Have a great weekend and keep posted!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Today at Costco

In line at Costco today, there were two women in front of me. Both of them were very large. I noticed they had in their cart supplements along with cookies and candy (I assume they have a business). The supplements were Omega 3 fish oil, CoQ10, and an energy boosting supplement. Being a nutrition and health coach as well as a provider for a great neutraceutical company, I wondered what the quality of their supplements were, considering my representative always uses Costco brand supplements as an example of what not to buy. I also thought, how did they know to get these particular supplements? As they finished checking out, one said to the other, "Want to get a hot dog?"

These are the moments I wish I could gently put my arm around their shoulders and tell them, "It doesn't have to be this way! Don't you get it? The supplements you buy make me think you must have read something, been told something about ways to improve your health. But, didn't you also read about how poor food choices got you there to begin with? Don't buy that hot dog. Please. Go to the supermarket over there, pick up a bunch of greens and let me help you find true health that doesn't come in a supplement bottle."

Of course, I remained silent, as I have thousands of times before. I took a deep breath and thought, it's OK. People are learning. It's happening. Baby steps. I'm here when they need me.