Meditating through an Ice Cream Cone

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(This is a recycled pic but I got this exact same cone yesterday, so just roll with me here…)

So yesterday I had an interesting experience with this ice cream cone that I’d like to share.

It was a warm day in the city (finally!) and I was coming back from meeting up with a friend in Union Square at around noon when suddenly the thought of having a vanilla ice cream cone with chocolate sprinkles sounded like the absolute best idea.

As soon as I got off the subway, I went ahead and got it. No questions asked.

And let me tell you… this ice cream cone was amazing.

Once I got it, I slowed down my pace, walked really slowly over the three blocks to my apartment, and just basked in the sun and the pure enjoyment of the ice cream. I felt like a little kid again, licking all the sprinkles off first and catching the ice cream as it dripped off and melted.

I was so immersed in the experience. I didn’t notice anything around me, and for the first time in weeks, I realized that I wasn’t thinking about work, or where I needed to be, or my to-do list. My mind was completely present and I was extracting every ounce of pleasure from the experience.

The next thing I knew, I was on the wrong block. I started laughing to myself, because I was literally so involved in the ice cream cone joy that I forgot where I lived and started walking down a different block.

Now if that’s not true “presence”, then I don’t know what is.

When I got back to my apartment and finished the last bite of my ice cream cone, I felt on top of the world. I was beaming. I was so happy. That ice cream cone, although it only lasted a few minutes, gave me so much satisfaction. And I enjoyed, literally, every single second of it.

I’m joking when I say that I meditated through the ice cream cone, but my point is that being totally present and immersed in our food can bring us so much joy, satisfaction and pleasure.

And when we realize how much enjoyment we can get from our food, we don’t need to eat as much of it. Alternatively, if I had walked back to my apartment thinking about a million different things, the cone would have been gone before I knew it, and I would not have even noticed the amount of pleasure I could have gotten from it. Then, I would have been left feeling unsatisfied and wanting more.

So my challenge for you is… the next time you eat something today, try to be FULLY present and extract as much enjoyment as you possibly can from it. Whether you are sipping on a cup of coffee or eating a sandwich off the side of the street, spend at least a few extra seconds focusing on the food. The taste, the feel, the texture, the smell. And see how much more satisfied you feel afterward. Maybe you even find yourself eating less, but that’s not even the point. I just want you to walk away feeling happy and saying to yourself “damn, that was good”.

Have you had an experience like my ice cream cone experience lately? And if you give this a shot today, tell me how it goes! 

Mexican Inspired Millet with Goat Cheese, Corn and Avocado

*If you haven’t seen it yet, I’m doing another 21 Day Intuitive Eating challenge in March. Check out the details and email me at jamiemendell@gmail.com if interested. *

Hi guys!

I hope you’re having a great start to your week. I just found out that it’s Presidents Day on Monday (I live in a hole sometimes) and hope you guys have it off from work. 4 day weeks rock.

Speaking of work, I get asked ALL the time for more work lunch ideas. People want things that are quick, easy and satisfying to make to bring to work, so here is an idea for you. I made this in about 20 minutes from start to finish and it made a huge batch that is now chillin’ in my fridge for the entire week.

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I used a grain called Millet which I have never used before. I decided I wanted to expand my whole grain carbohydrate horizons and try something other than brown rice, quinoa and oats, and Millet caught my eye in the grocery store.

Good things about millet:

– it falls into the completely unprocessed, whole grain carbohydrate category, meaning it comes straight from the earth and is super healthy!

– it is SOOO cheap

– it cooks in 15 minutes flat

– it has kind of a pasta/nutty texture to it and you can use it in anything

– it’s gluten free (not that I avoid gluten, but if you do, it’s another option)

– like most whole grain carbs, it offers a lot of vitamins and nutrients, most notably it’s a really high source of Magnesium which supports heart health. Read more about the nutrients in millet here

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I started by cooking the millet in a sauce pan using the simplest method I could find on the internet. 1 cup millet, 2 cups water. I brought the water to a boil, added the millet, then simmered it, covered for 15 minutes.

While it was cooking, I got the rest of my Mexican themed ingredients ready. I love tacos and taco salads, so this is kind of a spoof off of that. We’ve got some beans (lentils), cheese, avocado, and corn. Sounds taco-salad-ish to me!

I chopped a red pepper, rinsed my lentils and corn, and got out the cheese and avocado.

When the millet was done cooking, it looked like this. I thought the tiny holes were cute:

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Then it was time to just add everything in! I fluffed the millet with a fork, added it to a large bowl and started creating my Mexican fiesta.

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One reason why this is so easy is because I used a can of black lentils that I bought at the store, already cooked, and a can of corn. Using canned vegetables and beans can cut down on cooking time big time! I try to always go for low sodium or no salt added cans, and then I rinse everything off in a strainer before I use it to remove some of the additional sodium.

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I chopped an entire avocado, and added goat cheese at the end.

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I would pack this for lunch, add it to a bed of greens for a salad, top it with salsa, or heat it up for dinner. And did I mention how CHEAP this is? I didn’t do the exact calculations because I didn’t save my receipts, but I would say that this entire batch, including all of the ingredients listed, only costs about $7.00, if that. Which means that per serving, you’re looking at around $2.00. Not too shabby, huh?

Anyway, enjoy this Mexican inspired dish. And if millet just doesn’t strike your fancy, you can do the same sort of thing with couscous, quinoa, brown rice, or pasta. And if you’re looking for some more protein, add some cold diced chicken to this… yum!

Mexican Inspired Millet

(makes 3-4 servings)

  • 1 cup millet, dry
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 can corn, rinsed
  • 1 can black lentils, rinsed
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 T goat cheese
  • S&P

1. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a sauce pan.

2. Rinse millet and then add it to the water. Stir once, turn down the heat and cover, simmering for 15 minutes.

3. Once millet is done, fluff it with a fork and move it to a large bowl. Top with corn, lentils, pepper, chopped avocado, and goat cheese. Stir it all together. Add S&P to taste.

 

The 21 Day Intuitive Eating Challenge (Starts Feb 1)

Hi everyone!

I am really excited for this post. I’ve done a lot of thinking and have come up with all the details for the 21 Day Intuitive Eating Challenge that I’m hosting starting Feb 1. I’ve casually posted about this a couple of other times, but here are all of the details.

The 21 Day Intuitive Eating Challenge

What it is: 

For 21 days, starting Feb 1, I am going to be focusing on fine tuning my own Intuitive Eating skills and invite anyone who would like to join me to do so as well. (Here are two posts I wrote last week about Intuitive Eating: Intro to Intuitive Eating and the 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating.)

We will be focusing on the 10 Principles and in a nutshell, we will be freeing ourselves from the Diet Mentality, eating what we actually want and crave throughout the day, paying attention to our hunger- eating when we are hungry and stopping when we are full- and trying to make every single meal as satisfying, enjoyable and delicious as possible. We are going to let our bodies guide as, trusting that they know what we need.

What Joining the Challenge Means: 

It’s totally free, and is all done through email. I won’t really be posting on the blog about it;  instead, it will be lead through emails that I’ll send out each day for 21 days. You can remain completely anonymous throughout the challenge, meaning that nobody besides me needs to know that you’re in it.

What To Expect: 

  • A detailed email right before the challenge starts giving you more in-depth information about Intuitive Eating, my own experience with it, and how to get the most out of the 21 days. 
  • Emails from me in your inbox bright and early each morning with either a tip about incorporating IE into your life, an experiment for you to try that day/week, a story from my own journey or an experience one of my clients has had with it, a practical tactic for keeping up with the principles, a strategy, or some other nugget of good information.
  • Complete email support with me for those 21 days. I will get back to you within 24 hours. You can email me with daily wins and successes, questions, confusion, any “ah-ha” moments, or any struggles.
  • There will be opportunities to interact with the other people involved- sharing experiences, asking questions, and offering/receiving support. Again, you don’t need to be a part of this part if you want to remain private. 
  • We’ll have a hashtag (I’m thinking #IEChallenge) to post pictures, successes, things we are proud of, thoughts, or really anything to the same place. Sometimes it’s easier to feel motivated when involving others and social media outlets.
  • Depending on how things go, I may host a call halfway through to discuss our experiences and answer any questions that I can.

What I Hope You Get Out of the Challenge: 

I’m working with one of my clients on incorporating Intuitive Eating into her life. She called me today for our scheduled session and she said “Jamie, I am just so HAPPY. I am eating what I want, going out to dinner and ordering exactly what I want. And I feel more satisfied than I’ve felt in years. I am just so happy, and notice such a difference in my mood and spirit. I am just really really happy!” She couldn’t stop saying how “happy” she was. It was so cute and put such a big, goofy smile on my face.

This is what I hope for you. I hope that by doing this challenge you open yourself up to the possibility of ditching diets, nutrition “rules” that get thrown at us everyday, and learn to just trust yourself and your body. I hope that you drop into your intuition and out of your head. Into your body and out of you mind. I hope that you give yourself permission to eat foods that you thought you “shouldn’t” eat. I hope that you start to observe and understand and know your body better- what it likes, what it doesn’t, what makes it feel good, what doesn’t. I hope that during these 21 days you start to trust yourself again.

And if you’ve been practicing IE for awhile, and already feel that you are a pretty good Intuitive Eater, I hope that you use this challenge as a time to really focus on your hunger, cravings, and do some fine-tuning. That’s what I’ll be doing and can’t wait to have you on board as well.

How You Can Get Signed Up: 

Send me an email at jamiemendell@gmail.com with “IE Challenge” as the subject and I’ll add you to the list. Or, you can just leave a comment on this post and I’ll add you.

I’m seriously psyched about this challenge and can’t wait to have you be a part of it. Woohoo!

Intuition

Intuitive Eating: What Does This Mean, Anyway?

In the summer of 2007, I picked up a book that completely transformed the relationship I have with myself:

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A deep statement, huh? Well, there are few things that I can speak incredibly passionately about, and this book is one of them.

So I’ll tell you why.

When I first picked up this book, I was searching for answers. I was in the middle of a grueling internship where I was working around the clock, and my eating habits were all over the place. Stuck in the office at 3 or 4am, we would snack on anything that wasn’t nailed down just to keep us awake. I was so exhausted that I’d reach for sugar constantly. I needed more control, so I ventured into the book store to figure out some sort of diet plan.

This book popped out at me, and as I began to read about it, I just knew deep down that this book was my answer. Not temporarily, but for good.

The concept of Intuitive Eating (IE) first talks about completely scrapping the diet mentality. Who knows what is “best for us” anyway? One day you read something that says to eat a lot of protein, and then you read other books and research that says that animal protein causes cancer. Some research shows that dairy is an essential part of our diet and that it helps with bone strength and digestion, but other studies show that we should stay away from dairy as it causes breakouts and inflammation. So what the heck are we supposed to eat? Why are we trying to follow so many “rules” and guidelines from what we read?

In most cases, diets simply don’t work. It is widely quoted that 95% of people who diet end up failing, and so many of the people who temporarily lose weight just end up gaining it back and more.

Instead of dieting, Intuitive Eating proposes that we get in touch with our own bodies. Our bodies are insanely brilliant systems that know how to operate optimally. When we listen to what we actually crave, honor our hunger, and stop when we are full, this is when our bodies can thrive. And this is when natural weight loss occurs. Think about little kids– kids are intuitive eaters by nature. Before they learn all of the “shoulds” (what they should eat, when they should eat, etc.), they run around eating when they want, stopping when they are full, and maintaining healthy figures.

“Intuitive Eating provides a new way of eating that is ultimately struggle-free and healthy for your mind and body. It is a process that releases the shackles of dieting (which can only lead to deprivation, rebellion, and rebound weight gain). It means getting back to your roots- trusting your body and its signals. Intuitive Eating will not only change your relationship with food, it may change your life” – from the book, Intuitive Eating

At first, the concept of eating whatever I wanted seemed so scary to me. I thought for sure that I’d just eat bagels and ice cream all day. And to be honest, that is all I wanted for a while. I had deprived myself in my mind of so many things, that these are the foods I wanted to eat when I let myself. But over time, the need for all of the carbs and sugar went away because my body knew that it could have it at any time. There were no more rules.

Over the past few years, I have worked hard at this concept of adopting the Intuitive Eating principles. Intuitive Eating means trusting yourself, and trusting that your body will guide you in the perfect direction, knowing what is good for you personally.

Some things that I’ve personally learned about my own body through this process:

  • I’m a carb girl. I need them, I love them, and when I don’t have them, things get ugly.
  • I need a lot of fat in my diet – at every single meal.
  • I don’t always love eating breakfast right when I wake up. Also, on most days, I like eating lighter during the day and more in the evening. This goes against some standard nutrition advice, but it works well for my body.
  • I like some animal protein. Although I’ve tried veganism and vegetarianism at different times, it doesn’t work for me. My body craves some meat, on most days, but definitely not at every meal.
  • When I crave a lot of sugar, it almost always means I’m overwhelmed. I do other things now to take care of myself.

I could go on and on. It’s been a process, but this is what I truly believe is the answer for our issues with weight and diet frustrations. It’s about forgetting the information that is coming to us from the outside, and instead, looking inside. We have all of the answers we need, we just need to listen.

When I started getting really good at Intuitive Eating and listening to my body, the extra college weight just started falling off. I exercised intuitively too, in a way that felt good. I just keep eating in a way that felt good and exercising like that too, and everything just flowed. All of a sudden, weight loss was easy. I never feel deprived. I eat what I want, I (usually) stop when I’m full, I give in to all of my cravings, and I trust that those cravings are also in line with what is best for my health.

I’m going to be talking a lot about Intuitive Eating in the next couple of weeks. It has transformed my relationship to food, my body and my health completely, and not to get too deep on you, but it led to me trusting myself in every single area of my life and has brought about some amazing changes for me in those areas. People who teach Intuitive Eating say that IE is a gateway to Intuitive Living. I completely believe it. It’s all about looking within and trusting our intuition. Nobody knows us as well as we do.

I’m also going to be hosting a 21 Day Intuitive Eating challenge starting February 1st. During this challenge, I am going to focus on fine tuning the principles of Intuitive Eating in my own life for those 21 days, and I invite anyone else to participate with me. We will focus on thinking about what we crave throughout the day, eating what we want when we are actually hungry, stopping when we are full, and letting our bodies guide us. Throughout the challenge, I’ll send daily emails with practical tips about how to incorporate the IE principles into your lives, and I’ll provide 21 days of email support to help you through it. To sign up now, email me at jamiemendell@gmail.com with the subject line “IE Challenge” and I’ll get you on the list.

As my friends and family know, I have been talking about Intuitive Eating for years and feel so strongly about it. I could literally talk your ear off about it if I was given the chance. I hope you like these posts and get something from all of the talkin’. I have so much more information for you to come in the next couple of weeks! Stay tuned.

I’m curious– have you heard of this concept before? Is it something you practice in your own life? What specific questions, if any, do you have about it that I can help answer over the next couple of weeks?

How I Actually Stuck to my 2012 Resolutions

Good maaarrnin’ to ya! It’s been a while since I last posted and that’s simply because I have taken a total break from my computer in general. I spent about 6 days in Florida with my family and then this past weekend in the Poconos with my friends, and am finally back in NYC for New Years. It’s been extremely relaxing and rejuvenating. I’ve read, taken a lot of naps, spent really quality time with my favorite people, and haven’t really worried about a thing. I hope you have also had an amazing time over the holidays and feel ready for a new year!

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So I wanted to talk a bit about resolutions. As my friends gathered for New Years last year at a restaurant in the city, our glasses clanking and filled with plenty of champagne, we went around the table and laid out our new years resolutions. I think resolutions are funny– most people make them, few people keep them, myself included. I don’t think I have ever actually kept my intended resolutions. But in 2012, I am happy to say that I did. I approached my resolutions differently in 2012, and I figured out a way to set goals that worked for me. Although everyone is different, and goal setting is actually very personal, I thought I’d share what worked for me this past year and how I intend to set resolutions for 2013.

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My two resolutions for 2012 were simple:

1. Keep up with the news more.

2. Cook more.

I know from being in the business world that these goals break every “goal making” rule. Your goals are supposed to be specific, measurable, attainable, etc. These resolutions are none of those things. They are vague and I didn’t lay out ways to measure them, except to be further along in both areas than I was at the beginning of the year.

But this worked for me, for the first time. And I actually made HUGE strides in both of these areas.

1. News: I found several methods of incorporating more news into my life. I have several apps on my phone that I refresh before getting on the subway, putting CNN on TV is now a habit, I record a few News shows each week, I keep up with News on Twitter, I occasionally grab a paper on lazy Sat/Sun mornings just to read the news from a real newspaper, I listen to news podcasts (never did I think I would have the NPR app on my iPhone!), etc. I found little ways that worked for me, and it has hugely paid off. I feel way more knowledgable and up to date on knowing what is going on in the world.

2. Cook more: Well, that little idea turned into this blog, so I guess I followed through on that one. This blog started from my New Years Resolution and has turned into so much more.

Looking back on why these resolutions worked for the first time since I started setting and breaking resolutions so many years ago, I have come up with a few theories:

1) By making them not “measurable”, it took the pressure off. In the past, I put myself up to very specific goals that were often very ambitious, and when I didn’t meet those measures, I felt like a failure and threw it all away. In 2012, the only measure of achievement was if I made some sort of progress in each of the two areas. I didn’t say to myself “you need to read the news for a half hour every day”. That would undoubtedly have left me with days or weeks of failure. Instead, I just said “keep up with the news more”. I set myself up for success, and this made me actually WANT to keep working toward these goals and incorporating both the news and cooking into my life more and more.

2) The method by which I would attain the goals was also left unspecific. This let me figure things out as I went along. Instead of defining exactly how I would reach the goals from the get-go, I just kept these goals in the back of my mind and tried to find fun, easy ways to keep up with the news and small windows to fit in more time in my kitchen. This allowed the method of attaining the goals to change over time. It gave me flexibility which felt so much easier than sticking to a strict structure.

3) I made small moves that added up to a big change. 10 minutes of news here, picking up a paper there, a podcast while I walked in the morning, these are all small changes that added up to a big difference in my life. Similarly with cooking, I started off just blogging about once a week. It turned into much more than that once I got comfortable, but it started off really small and basic.

4) I made sure my goals really mattered to me. Being more in touch with the world and really learning how to cook were two habits I wanted to create and have for the rest of my life. These things mattered to me, and I thought long and hard about the reasons why and if they were truly things I wanted. If you don’t really want to achieve your goals, it won’t happen.

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Going into 2013, I have two new goals that I’ll be focusing on (I’ll post about these in the coming days), and I am absolutely sticking to my same method. I am going to keep them brief, focused, and without strict structure or measures. They will be a focus in my mind every day in 2013, and I’ll work toward them every day. But they won’t cause me unwanted stress, I won’t feel bound to any sort of structure and they won’t come with a heavy dose of pressure on myself. Like I said, all of this is personal, but this is what I found works best for me.

So I’d love to hear… do you make resolutions? What have you found works for you in terms of keeping them? Everyone is so different in terms of how they set and reach goals, so I’d love to hear what works for you!

Moving From Ordinary to Special: Egg White,Veggie,Goat Cheese Frittata

This post is all about taking something rather ordinary and adding some fairy dust to it to make it something special. Something NOT ordinary. It’s about sprucing up the little things in your day-to-day to make the little moments feel even better.

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Like adding a fresh squeeze of lemon juice to your water. With some ice, and a straw, and you’ve got yourself sippin’ on a special glass of water. I know it sounds like nothing, but oo- la- la it can be so refreshing! Serving it in a cool mason jar, even better.

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Or adding some cinnamon and nutmeg to your morning cup of coffee. Served in your favorite mug.

Or downloading some of your favorite music to listen to during your morning commute. Christmas music perhaps? Some old school Beyonce? One of those DJ’s that you all know but that I don’t know? A Podcast?

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Or taking 10 extra minutes in the morning to get ready. To shower longer, to make yourself breakfast, to watch the Today show, to put on some fun jewelry.

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Or having so much fun doing laundry. Okay… this one stumps me. I don’t have any answers here. I HATE doing laundry!!

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Or taking time for yourself during your lunch break to call a friend and laugh about something silly and totally brain-less.

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I love trying to take something simple and “boring” and make it more interesting and fun. That’s all this recipe is about, really. I was in the mood for an omelette with veggies, but didn’t want just another omelette. I wanted it to be special.

So all I did was slowly sauté the veggies (I used onion, red pepper, zucchini, spinach and corn), add in some egg whites, some clumps of goat cheese, and let it cook on low for a few minutes until the whites were mainly cooked through. I didn’t stir it or anything, I just let it sit. I then stuck it in the oven and under the broiler and watched the edges and the top lightly brown and the cheese get all perfectly melty. It took about 5 minutes.

It took a few extra minutes than an ordinary omelette would have, but it came out looking beautiful, and tasting amazing. It felt good to put a little bit of extra love into my breakfast.

What’s funny is that when you continuously add some fairy dust to the little moments, all of those moments add up to an amazing day.

How are you going to make this seemingly ordinary Monday special??

When You Just Need Some Wine

So many people have asked me something along the lines of… “so, now that you’re into this nutrition thing, do you still drink?” “can I still get you a beer?”.

Oh heck yea you can!

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I remember freshman year of college I used to not go out as often as I would have liked because I didn’t want to take in all of the calories of alcohol. Like I mentioned here, when I first went off to college I was super fit and was so worried about how I was going to maintain it.

But over the years I’ve learned that drinking, in somewhat of a moderate way, isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it can help you maintain or lose weight.

How is that, you ask?

Because it is fun. And fun is a HUGE ingredient for weight maintenance or weight loss. In my case, I think FUN is and was probably the MAIN ingredient that helped me effortlessly lose weight. Having more fun in my life.

Another health coach who I follow, Sarah Jenks, has an entire program devoted to this concept. It is called “Live More, Weigh Less” and the premise is about how getting a life helps the weight fall off. I couldn’t agree more with this philosophy.

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I believe that when you have more of a life, a fun-filled life, you feel more fulfilled in general. Feeling fulfilled makes you feel whole and happy. And when you feel whole and happy, you don’t really care about food. You don’t need the food to fill any voids.

So the moral of the story? Embrace your wine. Or your beer, or your jalapeño margarita. Or a mojito (my weakness in the summertime) I’m not saying to go binge drink every night. That would make you feel terrible. But, enjoy it, have fun with it, smell it, taste it, savor it. I know this girl agrees.

Let loose. It’s good for the soul.

Here are some tips that I have developed over the years for incorporating drinking as part of a healthy lifestyle:

  • Eat dinner before you drink. In college, I would try to not eat before I drank to counterbalance the calories. This just ends up backfiring because you end up eating more late at night when your appetite is raging. Now, I always eat a decent dinner beforehand. Except for at Happy Hours. Those are always interesting… no time to eat dinner beforehand… Oops.
  • Stick to low sugar drinks…. but not all the time! Personally, I don’t like the sugary drinks that much, but I do love an occasional awesome cocktail and real beer. For the most part, I’ll stick to wine, beer, and vodka/soda, but if a good cocktail catches my eye, I go for it. Again, have fun with it.
  • Drink some water, at some point.
  • Peanut butter toast is a great go-to food at the end of the night. When you come back late, you’re kind of hungry, and need something before you go to sleep. Peanut butter toast is my go-to. It’s hearty, healthy, and beats 5-5-5- Domino Pizza (oh, college). Well, ok, maybe it doesn’t really beat Domino’s in taste, but your body will thank you the next day.
  • Start the next day off with a hearty breakfast.

That’s about all I’ve got for ya! Almost the weekend!!

What are your thoughts around drinking fitting into a healthy lifestyle? Any tips you have?

2 Hours of Prep, Food for the Entire Week

I played a little game with myself yesterday. It went something like this…. “see how much food you can cook for the week in two hours. GO.”

I have 6 Final Exams coming up over the next 2.5 weeks, and knowing how little time I would have to cook, I wanted to spend a couple of hours yesterday prepping for the upcoming madness. However, I didn’t want it to take up my entire Sunday, so I gave myself two hours. It was a challenge. It was fierce. Mushrooms were flying, rosemary is probably in every little crevice of my kitchen, chocolate chips are now coating my wooden floors. I worked like a mad woman, but I ended up creating some amazing food that I know will keep me healthy and less stressed over the next few weeks.

In JUST two hours, this is what I cooked from start to finish. Oh, AND factor in the time that it took me to carry every single creation, every step of the way, from my kitchen over to my window to photograph it in the daylight. So if it took me two hours, it would take you less. Trust me!

1. Started off with sweet potatoes two ways. Maple Rosemary (left), and just plain old salted ‘taters (right). Recipe to come.

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2. Turkey meatballs. Recipe to come.

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3. Whole Wheat Farfalle Pasta

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4. Black Bean and Lentil Veggie Burgers. Recipe to come.

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5. Baked Chicken with Dill, Rosemary and Paprika

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6. Whole Wheat Couscous

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7. Chopped up Veggies, ready to go.

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8. The best– super healthy– cookies I have ever made. Banana Chocolate Chip. Recipe to come.

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I was honestly pretty impressed at the end of this. This is a TON of food that I will get through over the next few weeks and I cooked it in a tiny kitchen with a mini stove that likes to periodically shut off, four burners, and 1 cutting board. Some tips for multi tasking and getting the most out of two hours of prep work:

  • Clean as you go. My mom would be so proud to hear me say this right now. This is her trick. Do one thing, clean, get ready for the next.
  • Think ahead and use an assortment of cooking methods. In other words, don’t plan to cook a bunch of things that all require the oven. I cooked some things that required the oven, others that required the stove top.
  • Keep your garbage can out. Mine usually is stored under my kitchen sink, but when I started cooking with it out, open, and empty, it made things so much easier. It helps me easily keep things clean along the way and throw away empty cartons, wrappers, and containers as I go.
  • Plan your recipes ahead of time. I did some research over the weekend, figured out my recipes, and went to the store Sunday morning to be sure I had everything I needed.
  • Keep it simple. As you’ll see this week when I blog about the recipes, they are all pretty simple. I knew I didn’t have a lot of time, so I just stuck to basics and added a little bit of flavor to every dish.
  • Cook food that can be frozen. Aside from the fresh veggies, everything else can be frozen in tupperware. I won’t get through all of this in the next week, so it’s nice to be able to freeze some of it for the following weeks.
  • Play some music, wear some comfy clothes that you can get dirty, and *focus*! It’s amazing how much you can get accomplished when you are truly focused on the task at hand

When prepping for the week, I tried to cook a little bit of everything. A few carbs (sweet potatoes, couscous, pasta), some protein (chicken, turkey meatballs, bean/lentil burgers), I got some veggies ready to go and I of course cooked a healthy dessert. Phew. I am tired just recapping this!!

But, I do want to make a point that preparing for the week can be quick, it can be simple, and it can MAJORLY help out during really busy and stressful times. It’s doing yourself a huge favor. It’s making your life a little easier. It’s being nice to yourself. And we can all use a little more of that right?

P.S. Here is another post where I talked about what I prepped for an upcoming week. 

Do you prep on the weekends for the week? Any go-to batch recipes that you make?

Healthy(ish) Eats on the Road: To DC and Back

Greetings! 🙂

Yesterday I had to take a quick day trip to DC and back and I thought I’d capture how I handle staying somewhat healthy while on the road.

Before I quit my job this summer, I had spent 2+ years traveling as a consultant all over the Southeast, spending almost every week on the road.

Traveling is TOUGH and it does make it much more challenging to stay healthy. The number one lesson I learned in my life from all of this travel is to give up control and go with the flow. Because we all know that so many things are out of our control when we travel. Flights are delayed, business lunches are not planned by us, meetings run late and we end up eating lunch at 3pm, security lines are long and we don’t have a chance to grab our morning coffee, the list goes on!

So I learned to give up control. It was a big lesson and it has impacted who I am today. My need for control over my days is far less, and I love being able to just do the best I can, regardless of the situation.

With that being said, on to yesterday!

5am wakeup call meant a dark morning waiting for a cab. No problem here, I zipped right on over to the airport.

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Then BAM. I was hit with a HUGE security line. I used to freak out about these things but I just don’t even let them bother me anymore.

No time for breakfast, but time to grab a coffee.

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Plane landed in DC at 8:15 and I surveyed my breakfast options. Basically, it was a panini, a cheeseburger, or a muffin the size of my head. AWESOME.

I went for an egg and cheese panini. We know how much I love my egg and cheeses.

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Eaten in the back of a cab on my way to the meeting. This was actually pretty good! I ate about 3/4 of it.

Meeting, Meeting, Meeting, lunch came at around 12:30.

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The options were great. Sandwiches, fruit salad, salad, and cookies. PAT ON MY BACK for not taking any cookies! 🙂 Woohooo. Maybe the first healthy decision I have made in 6 days since Thanksgiving started.

1/2 a chicken salad sandwich on whole wheat, some salad and fruit:

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Left the meeting around 3:15, back to the airport. Day trips are weird, man. It’s like rewinding a movie and you watch the character go backward back through the way they came, ya know? No? Follow? Ok anyway….

I needed a snack, but again, my options were panini, cheeseburger, or muffin the size of my head. I got a small skim cappuccino and sat to do some work while I killed time.

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Nope, internet wouldn’t connect. I tried for a solid 20 minutes, no luck. So I just perused the terminal, pacing back and forth and getting some “exercise”.

I needed something else to eat so I grabbed this Clif Bar before getting on the plane. I am not usually a bar person, but they definitely come in handy while traveling. I LOVED this flavor!

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After a delayed flight, a 30 minute wait for a taxi, and traffic on the way home, I asked my cab driver to drop me at fairway so I could keep things easy on myself and grab a salad at their salad bar.

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The salad was mainly veggies: spinach base, cucumbers, carrots, mushrooms, peppers, olives, beets, a little chicken and a little feta. Balsamic vinegar and a dash of truffle oil. Finally some greeeeens!

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Along with a free roll which I toasted and put butter on half and almond butter/honey on the other half.

I also capped off the night with a couple of small bakery cookies I had leftover from being home in CT.

So the moral of the story? It’s definitely hard to eat super duper healthy on the road, but it doesn’t need to be a total disaster either. Luckily, these days, there are usually always some healthy or healthier options at airports, so just do your best.

Now, off to grab some coffee and head to the grocery store. Mmmm my kinda morning 🙂 Have a good day!

P.S. If you want to see some other travel tips, here is a post I wrote about healthy snacks I usually bring for longer travels.

Cold Weather Comfort Foods that Won’t Weigh You Down

I’ve started noticing lately that as the cold weather comes in, my desire for salads goes out the window. My body is craving richer food, fuller food, hotter food. It’s going into “holy crap it’s getting dannnng cold out there and I want to be warm” mode.

So I started thinking, what are some good, hearty, comforting meals that I can turn to in the coming months that are still really healthy and satisfying? Comfort food doesn’t need to mean constant unhealthy and heavy food, although of course every now and then it just feels so good to eat a really heavy meal in the winter.

Here are a few strategies that I came up with. They accomplish both the healthy factor and the really comforting factor:

1. Instead of big bowls of pasta, I love making big bowls of sautéed veggies and adding marinara sauce, pesto or some good cheese. Treat the veggies like pasta, and you can still sit down to this big comforting bowl of goodness without feeling heavy afterward. Or, go for the pasta, but just add more veggies/less pasta to the mix.

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Veggie Bowl with Pesto and Cheese

2. I’m majorly craving pancakes and oats these days. During the summer, I wanted a lot of eggs, omelets, and lighter breakfasts. Now, I am all about the carbs, and there is not anything wrong with that! Choose healthier pancake recipes, and bulk up your oats with some fruit so that you can get a big bowl of warmth in the morning without feeling like you put a brick in your stomach!

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Pumpkin Pancakes 

Banana Protein Pancakes

3. This one I don’t really need to even say, but soups and chilis are generally very very healthy. My advice here is to EXPERIMENT and eat soup that sounds fun to you. Personally, most soup recipes looks borrrinnng to me, but some pique my interest. Look around and find ones that actually sound tasty to you. Don’t settle!!

Some recipes that look appealing to me that I want to make:

Spicy Red Kale, Tomato and Lentil Soup

Thai Curry

Tortellini and Heirloom Bean Soup

And don’t forget my Havana Moon Chili! My favorite chili recipe to date.

4. Stir Fries are amazing. And by Stir Fry, I mean throw literally anything in a pot, add some heat, a good sauce, and you’ve got yourself a meal. I am the Queen of Concoctions and my secret (shhhh) is I just go with my instincts, throw a bunch of crap together, and 9/10 it’s good.

Brown Rice with Brussels, Mushrooms and Marinara

5. Cheese. So if you are like me, your body will want some heavier food in these cold days ahead, cheese being one of them. So go ahead and have some cheese! But make it quality. Full fat cheese, in my humble opinion, is the way to go. Add some to your meals and I promise you will be satisfied with an appropriate amount. I’ve recently started experimenting with various types of cheese and it’s fun to throw around different flavors depending on what I make.

6. Drink up. Tea tea tea. I drink tea all the time as it gets colder out, and it helps me warm up without any food, so that I’m really only eating when I’m actually hungry. I always have an abundance of tea around. I usually keep some fruity, some sweet, and some more mild tea (peppermint, chamomile) lying around, as well as both caffeine free and caffeinated. Tea is a MUST for me in the winter time.

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7. Keep eating your greens, but eat ’em hot. During the summer time, I ate spinach almost every day. In salads, in smoothies. But now that it’s getting colder, the thought of cold raw spinach sounds totally unappealing. So to get your veggies in, just serve them hot. Steam them, sautee them in a stir fry or add them to soups, make chips with them (Kale chips), roast them, etc. Experiment in the kitchen and find new ways to get your veggies in as your body feels like hibernating.

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Raisin Quinoa with Spinach and a Fried Egg

8. Same thing with fruit. I’ve been cooking fruit hot and adding it to meals. You can really throw it in anything… in your oatmeal, in rice, in a random Concoction, in with your vegetables, anything. In fact, cooking apples, bananas, pears, etc. brings out their sweetness factor so it is a win-win!

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Pumpkin Apple Oats

I will keep thinking and let you know what else I come up with as the days get colder around here. Stay warm out there and let me know if YOU have any strategies to add!!