Sunday, June 4, 2017

A Little Bit of This and A Little Bit of That

A Little Bit of This and A Little Bit of That

I just got finished in the kitchen, doing my meal prep for the week.  I take 2-3 hours on Sunday morning and devote to cutting vegetables for the week, making sauces to expedite cooking time during the week, and even a little baking.  Today’s bread was an epic fail.  I followed the instructions to a tee – the only thing I can think of is something with the humidity in the air affected how it turned out.  The bread did rise as it said it would in the book.  I took a peek while it was baking and it was completely sunken in.  So not really sure, but I’m blaming it on the weather.  Yesterday it rained off and on ALL day.  Today it is cloudy and humid as all get out and there are supposed to be showers again.  So, I’m not going to get mad about it, I’m just going to have to keep trying.  Each week (time permitting) I’m trying a new recipe from Bread Illustrated ).  This is what I’m using as my stress relief/downtime which normally ends up yielding good results.  As I said, not gonna get mad, just gotta forget about it and try a new recipe (not sure I’ll repeat this one since it was such an epic fail…maybe in the future).
These were not the epic fail - these were Butter Fan Rolls from last week.  Luckily bread freezes!
Last week I had an 11-year old patient recently diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes (DM).  I’ll repeat that again so it can sink in what I just said.  11-year old patient diagnosed with Type 2 DM.  For anyone that doesn’t think we have a problem on our hands, this one patient alone should demonstrate we have a problem.  11 years old, 225 pounds, and knows nothing other than junk food and soda.  Houston we have a problem, a HUGE problem (no pun intended). This is one of many – there are others out there.  Whether they are about to be diagnosed or are walking around without knowing they have it, they’re about to have a rude awakening.  We have to start making healthy changes and start them when they are young.   Many people don’t act on changes to their diet until they are forced to do so – there’s never really been a push for prevention.  The irony is that most of the chronic diseases that we are seeing surface can be prevented through diet and exercise.  Diabetes is one of those said diseases.  While there are genetic risk factors associated with Type 2 DM, there are many studies that prove by making changes in diet and exercise it will help offset some of the risk.  Here are two articles I just recently was reading that talked about “reversing DM”.  And I should make mention that one does not “reverse DM” rather one controls their DM.  Once DM surfaces, it is there to stay.  Our aim is to control DM (and it can be), but it doesn’t just “reverse” as is common language used and leads people astray in thinking it will “disappear”.
A1c - the average blood sugar over 3 months - here shows a diagnosis of diabetes with a 6.6%.  After diet and exercise intervention, the patient's A1c decreased to 6.2%, a level showing control and now prediabetes.

A recent study suggested to have carbohydrate-rich meals earlier in the day.  They compared men with prediabetes having the carb-rich meals early (by 1:30 pm) and then a high-fat meal later on versus men having a fat-rich meal early and then the carb-rich meal later on.  What they found?  Glucose tolerance,  the body’s ability to handle carbs, gets worse as the day progresses.                                                                                                                                                           Sci. Re.. 2017 doi:10.1038/srep44170

In general I tell my patients to aim to reduce the load of carbs at meals – I don’t believe people at times have any idea of how many carbs they are consuming at any one meal.  A bowl of Raisin Bran (a bowl, not just a cup, what people are actually eating) could average around 135g of carbs.  A male should have only 45-60g of carbs/meal, so yes, I’m looking at you Raisin Bran – thought to be healthy when in fact it’s not!  We need to raise carb awareness in people and in general aim to reduce the load throughout the day (and not just at night) in people with prediabetes.  Both the quality and the quantity of the carbs matter when it comes to eating healthy.
In case you didn't believe Raisin Bran had that many carbs in what would be a bowl (some people might even be eating more!)
The other study looked at strength training.  The trial was called the Resist Diabetes trial.  They provided strength training for three months, twice a week, 12 supervised exercises for 8-12 repetitions each. They were followed up with 6 months of encouragement, followed by six months on their own.  After the 15 months, 30% of the participants had levels indicating their blood sugar levels were in control (or as the article states, “they no longer had prediabetes”)                             PLoS ONE 2017 doi:10.1371/journal/pone.0172610e

The bottom line?  If you’re not doing strength training, get started NOW.  People lose muscle as they age.  Building muscle helps insulin become more sensitized, meaning it works more efficiently.  And building muscle helps glucose uptake, so not as much insulin is even needed to begin with.  Strength training is a win-win all around.  Get started now.

Here are other key tips I tell all my patients – you choose what you need to work on – but consistency is also important:

-Lose weight (or not gain) extra pounds.  This is the obvious one and doctors tell their patients this, but the truth is through changes with diet and exercise and less focusing on the number on the scale, they will begin to lose weight.

-Shoot for at least 30 minutes of brisk walking or other aerobic exercise.  This sitting all day thing, it’s killing us.  Get up and move!

-Limit white flour, potatoes, and sweets – aim for whole grains and keep desserts to actual celebrations (not every day!)

-Eliminate any and ALL sugary beverages.  Unless you are an athlete and actually need that sports recovery drink, NO sweetened beverages.  Start thinking about your morning cup of joe – NO added sugar, period.

-Increase your non-starchy vegetables – broccoli, green leafy vegetables, peppers, onions, carrots, etc – we do NOT eat enough of this and we need to do better.  The FIBER plays a critical role in our body.  Everyone might know fiber helps them go to the bathroom, but it also helps lower blood sugar levels, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and more recently been shown to help people lose weight.  Fiber – get it from whole foods.

Remember, the good news is that you can reduce your risk of diabetes.  Make changes in your diet and exercise, today! 

My cookbook obsession continues.  I mean did we expect anything less?  My latest acquisition is - Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat.  I’m excited to delve further into this book as each one of these elements plays an essential role in cooking.  I read the book by Michael Pollan, Cooked, a few years back and feel I need to learn more.  If I could master just these four elements —Salt, which enhances flavor; Fat, which delivers flavor and generates texture; Acid, which balances flavor; and Heat, which ultimately determines the texture of food— anything I cook will be delicious, minus user error, but you know what I mean.  I’ll at least have the theory.  And then comes the practice, because practice makes perfect.  Now to decide which section I’ll start with first…

I’m always looking for inspirational quotes and pictures to post for my Wellness Wednesday on the internet.  There are a lot that depending on the situation I’m going through will speak to me.  I saw a shirt a person was wearing the other day that said, “Calm to Crazy”.  I immediately thought of yoga and that by practicing yoga it helps me go from crazy to calm, so maybe we should make a shirt for that instead?!
Yoga has always been something that helps me get literally grounded and brings me back to my breath.  I feel if I can control my breath than I can control what’s going on around me (or at least accept what will be).  Lately I’ve felt that my breath is unsteady, and at times short and shallow – and while this may be due to certain circumstances lately, it’s my gentle reminder to stay true to my yoga and simply practice, aiming for consistency.  There are going to be bumpy roads and there are going to be moments in life that seem as if they are too much to handle.  The truth?  More reason to practice and tap into my breath control – plug in and make sure I am in balance and aligned so that I am able to go with the flow.  The more I’m able to control my breath, the more I’m able to control what’s going on around me.  Practice and all is coming.

Last but not least, my latest obsession, aka, what food I’m eating on repeat.  It depends on the day and the timing of my meals, but I’ll eat this ricotta cheese and tomato together as a snack as is (with lots of herbs mixed in for added flavor, although it tastes just fine without).  If my day is tending towards a long day with dinner later at night, I will have the same snack, only this time with crackers included – so think carbs, protein, and some healthy fat – all in order to sustain me until I do get home for dinner.  Simple and delish.  Eating healthy doesn’t have to be complicated.  Until next time…

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Latest

The Latest

It’s May 21st and the weather feels like it’s August 21st.  There’s one month more until it’s officially  summer but here in Miami we are already feeling the effects of the heat and humidity.  I’m not complaining, I’m just stating the facts.  I live in a tropical paradise.  Key word, tropical.  Tropical weather allows for a variety of fruits to grow here.  We’re gearing up for mango season – with over 400 varieties – it’s hard to pick a favorite. 

Besides mangos, we have lychees, longans, carambola, mamey, passion fruit – and that’s just to name a few.  So, yes, we are lucky to have tropical fruit.  The not so lucky part?  Dealing with all the heat, humidity, and bugs.  Watch out for the cockroaches and mosquitoes.  It’s just a part of the environment unfortunately.  The heat is a definite factor when it comes to my running.  During the week I run early enough the sun isn’t out.  And even though the sun isn’t out, it’s been beyond humid – the sweat factor is ON.  It’s pretty bad when I can’t stand my own smell.  Which leads me to why I’m even talking about the weather – hydration.  I’ve had previous blogs on hydration – here and here – so read up and drink up.  Water that is.  Drink water to hydrate.  If you are doing extensive exercise or if you’re out in the hot sun, it’s possible you’ll need an energy replacement drink.  But the truth of the matter is most people just simply need water.  We are not all athletes.  Be mindful of your liquid calories and stay hydrated this spring/summer.

To say I’ve been recently cookbook obsessed is an understatement.  All I want to do is bake and cook.  My latest find, Bread Illustrated.  I’ve been successful with a few other bread recipes as of recent just through searches on the internet.  But I knew if anyone could help me to have more success it’d be America’s Test Kitchen.  They’ve tested the recipes so I don’t have to.  Am I right?? And in theory most should come out successful – unless there’s a user error, which is most commonly the case!  I am a very visual person when it comes to directions and was thrilled that this book was called Bread Illustrated – a picture for almost every instruction?!  Sign me up.  I knew this might be the answer to all my bread failures.  I’ve still been trying to make everything homemade this year and bread has/is my nemesis.  I just made chocolate babka this weekend:

I should’ve read the introduction pages to the cookbook because they clearly state that the easier recipes are in the beginning of the book and the harder recipes are towards the back.  Clearly chocolate babka was in the back.  Leave it to me to pick what sounded the best, when in reality I should’ve started with a few more successful recipes before tackling the hard ones.  I’ve decided to begin to work my way through the book.  Not only is it something that I’ve wanted to attempt for a while now – in my all things homemade quest – but also as of recent baking has been a form of stress relief for me.  Some people may not understand or see how that is, but it’s been working for me.  I’m able to channel all my energy into making bread and not have a care in the world when I am as focused as I have to be while baking the bread.  Not to mention the smell of my house?  I mean, come on? 

It’s been a common theme in my nutrition counseling sessions with patients over the last month – find a form of stress relief that doesn’t involve food.  Each person has to find their outlet for stress, whatever that may be.  It will be different for everyone.  In so many patients that struggle with weight loss, their outlet is food.  I teach patients to find an alternative outlet – honoring your hunger cues – but definitively finding something else to channel their stress.  I meditate for 10 minutes every day and that truly helps me to focus solely on my breath.  I find additional moments, 1 minute at a time during the day, to help me reconnect with my breath.  The simple act of focusing on my breathing clears my mind of extractions which then enables me to better connect with those around me and my spirit within.  Everyone has stress.  How do you handle it?  For me, it’s meditation and baking – now if only I could bake all day…

 In my quest for making everything homemade, I’ve come to the realization that not everyone can make everything homemade.   I get it – remember you have to begin where you are at.  And I’m not asking you to do everything homemade – remember, that’s MY goal.  You do YOU! People will always try and say that I eat way too healthy and they can never be like me – that’s not the idea behind healthy eating.  The key is to begin with one key change and keep adding on ways to improve.  The idea is to continue to form healthy habits AND stay consistent with the ones you’ve established.  I definitely make my own homemade salad dressing, but if you’re struggling to find one that tastes good and isn’t going to take the salad from healthy to unhealthy, enter Bolthouse.  I am not sponsored by them (which is another story for another day), I just know that they taste good, will add flavor to your salad and won’t turn your salad into something unhealthy.  They also make a yogurt version of their dressings, but I selected these to share as they have less ingredients and are virtually homemade.  You’re welcome.

I have been making this over the last month on repeat.  I can’t get enough.  A quick pickle of sorts – pickle referring to the technique, but not actually a cucumber if you will.  I take a Mason jar and thinly slice a mix of vegetables – typically red onion, carrot, and radish – and pack it into the jar.  Bring ¼ cup of white wine vinegar, ¾ cup water, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 tablespoon of sugar to a boil.   I pour the brine over the vegetables and cover.  Let it chill for at least half an hour.  Keep it in the fridge.  My go to?  Adding these vegetables to my Taco Tuesday!  They’re also great on salads and sandwiches. 

Last but not least, my inner creativity.  I mentioned earlier how I meditate and bake for stress relief.  Stress can really wreak havoc on a person’s body, in more ways than one.  Truth be told, stress has been limiting my creativity abilities as of recent – hence why my blogs sometimes go every three weeks instead of two.  I recently did a presentation for a group and while I was stressed getting it to come altogether, the truth is the end result turned out just fine.  Ideas don’t just come naturally to me, they take time – it’s all a part of the process (for me anyways).  Each night I would come home and try to brainstorm what my topic would be.  I think it was five nights straight and not one idea came to fruition.  Enter the strawberry rose tart –

How did this help my presentation you ask?  I started to watch a youtube video –How To Make A Strawberry Rose.  A distraction if you will.  From there I started to practice on a few strawberries.  In the video they continue to fan the layers all the way to the top.  I decided that it looked more natural if you cut an actual hole at the top instead of fanning one last layer.  Five to 10 strawberries later an idea for my presentation came to mind.  I immediately jotted down a rough draft, slide by slide, as quickly as I could.  The minute I began to feel less stressed my creative ideas started flowing.  I didn’t know if they would ultimately lead to a presentation, but minimally I had more ideas coming.  Cut more strawberries and get more ideas?  Or now begin to channel some of these ideas into a presentation?  The truth is as much stress as I was putting on myself the less creative I was.  Each night as I came home to work on my presentation I did something in the kitchen – whether it was simply creating an amazing salad to have for dinner that night, baking bread, or simply throwing a few ingredients for dinner together – the key was disconnecting from the stress in order to have my creative ideas flow.  It worked.  My presentation came together and was a success.  Some people might call it procrastination, I prefer to call it channeling my inner creative ideas.  Stress surfaces for everyone in different ways.  For me the stress has been stifling my inner creativity.  Every day isn’t perfect and some days are better than others.  I’m working on better controlling my stress levels with whatever comes my way through cooking and baking.  Enter my finished product – a strawberry rose tart, with a rosé simple syrup drizzled on top, otherwise known as my way of letting go of what I can’t control and knowing that what will be will be.   Stress, let go. Creativity flowed.  Mission accomplished.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Currently Trending

It's hard to keep up with my blog.  I do it on my own personal time and recently there hasn't been much personal time.  With work I've been working crazy long hours (not by choice) but it is what it is.  And when I do have free time I'm cooking or baking - a girl has to eat!  And my bread making skills?  Well, they're getting better - just look at that cinnamon bread!

The truth is that I haven't had too much creativity flowing to even think of a topic to write about - stress will do that to you.  Working on the home/work balance has been a struggle with my last job (too long a commute) and now with my current job there's just too much work plain and simple.  It's a struggle and something I continually am working on but have yet to say that I have found the balance.  To be continued, right?  The baking has been a way to channel my stress.  Strange maybe, but it's been helping.

Over these last few weeks I'll write a topic down but really don't have enough content to make a whole blog about it.  I thought I'd just write a few things for ya that's either been of interest to me or recently in the news.

May is Mental Health Month.  I'm not sure why but there's always seems to be a stigma attached to having mental health issues.  The stats say that 1 in 5 people live with a mental illness - so either yourself or a friend or family member currently are dealing with this.  I saw this hope and grace initiative the other day from Love Philosophy and I can't say enough good things about it.  All it takes is one small act of grace - asking someone how they REALLY are is that first step in starting a whole new conversation.   It's about breaking the stigma around mental health and showing grace - being true to yourself and encouraging others to do the same.  

I recently purchased 'A New Way to Bake' by Martha Stewart.  In her opening cover her editors describe this as a cookbook "that definitively ushers the baking pantry beyond white flour and sugar to include natural sweeteners, whole-grain flours, and other better-for-you-and delicious-ingredients."  So here are some of the discussions - butter versus oil, honey versus agave, whole-wheat flour versus gluten-free flours - all being debated across the country as we speak.  Don't worry, I'm not really going to debate these topics with you.  Like I said, they're currently being debated ENOUGH as we speak.  Nutrition is a science and it's always evolving and we're always learning new things.  I try to go to the science behind these debates and #followscience NOT trends, but the truth is that trends sell.  The influx of gluten-free products currently on the market is beyond belief - and the truth is how many people actually have Celiac's disease and would benefit from these products?  Gluten doesn't make you fat and gluten can be tolerated by the average American.  Would I say that we have ultra-processed foods here in America and some gluten products might not be as tolerated as others?  Absolutely, but that doesn't mean you need to eat everything gluten-free.  And by the way, let me just clear something up - oats are gluten-free naturally.  Yep, that's right.  Companies are now labeling that they are certified gluten-free as some oat products are manufactured in facilities where other products could create cross-contamination - but again that's only an issue in someone with an actual gluten intolerance.  I thought I said I wasn't going to get into a debate? 

What I wanted to say is that what I've taken away from this book is that dessert is dessert.  That's right.  A bold statement, right?  And it's not as if I didn't know that already.  But I was curious to see what Martha and her team had put together.  Desserts are meant for special occasions and should be thoroughly enjoyed.  Is everyday a holiday?  Should you be eating desserts everyday?  If you have any doubt as to my answer, that's a no.  I am a dietitian, but I'm a #dietitianthateatsdesserts #inmoderation - yes, I started those hashtags.

I made a brownie recipe so far from this book and Martha used spelt flour - spelt flour is a hardy variety of wheat - sorry it's not gluten-free - but it is a whole grain.  So kudos to Martha for baking brownies with spelt flour.  But don't be fooled, Martha used a TON of sugar in these brownies.  Oh, that's right, this is a DESSERT, albeit a dessert made with a whole-grain.  I wouldn't even say the picture does them justice.  The spelt flour gave them a maple-type flavor and for someone that doesn't even like brownies, I found myself going back for more.  Even though it's made with spelt flour, it doesn't automatically make it healthy.  Now, if we can use less sugar would the product still turn out the same?  I also purchased, Naturally Sweet, by America's Test Kitchen.  They've done the science behind all their recipes - I wouldn't say they're all without fat - because within baking if you take one thing out you end up adding another.  So we're back to our original debate - fat versus sugar?  Moderation.  Portion Control.  And frequency - desserts are meant for special occasions, not to be had every day - so whatever your dessert is made of, enjoy it.

I've written about this before, but if I had the "weight loss solution" I'd have bottled it up and become a millionaire by now.  Losing weight is always so much more than just what people are eating - do I think that people need to change the way they're eating?  Most times, absolutely!  But I get many a patient in that will say, "I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong," or "I really don't eat that much to be this big."  So they come to me, the said nutrition expert, to figure it out for them.  In a one-hour session, I can't figure it out - sorry, but I'm being truthful.  If I was able to follow people around and help them make better decisions in the moment, maybe.  And no, contrary to popular belief I am not the food police.  But the truth is I'm there to teach these concepts so that when you're in the moment you can make the healthier choice.  The only problem?  Food is so much more than just nutrition and nourishment to people - it's what they use when they're stressed, it's what they do when they're bored, and it's definitely used in social celebrations - Mother's Day is next weekend, with Memorial Day right around the corner, and let's not forget Father's Day is coming right up.  So where does that leave us in regards to weight loss?  I'm not really sure.  That's right, the dietitian just said I don't have the answer.  I wish it were simple and I knew what to tell people - but I don't.  I think each person has to reflect and find where their issues lie and begin to work on establishing healthy habits, one step at a time.  I can give you various tools and tips - I've written about it many times before, here, here, and even here!  I really do believe we put too much weight on weight (pun intended) where we should be focusing on becoming healthier beings, mind-body-and soul.  It will help your whole being to begin with one small change, whatever that might be.
People always ask me what I eat in a day - Breakfast is Oatmeal (most days); Lunch with a salad (not pictured), afternoon snack of yogurt if I have an extended day where dinner is late; Dinner is this fish served over a whole grain and salad to the side.  Also not pictured, a piece of dark chocolate or a small piece of something sweet - I do better by having something small every day versus then having the whole cake in one sitting - and yes, I know that I just said earlier that desserts aren't meant to be eaten every day, but it truly is a portion control, and remember this is what I've found works for me.

Breaking 2 - 3 years in the planning, Nike selected three elite runners to run a marathon (using their shoes of course) to break a sub-2-hour marathon.  Kipchonge finished in 2:00:25 - so while he didn't break the record, he did run his personal best.  They tried to select the best time of day and the best weather, but he still fell short, 25 seconds, but albeit short.  You can read about it here.  So while on our long run yesterday, my running partner and I were talking about him - I mean every runner was talking about him.  He had an average pace of 4:35.7 per mile - I mean I only dream about running that fast!  But in all seriousness it got us to thinking about our previous marathon.  If we had had better weather conditions, could we have run a faster marathon? And so the talk began about possibly training all over again - yes, I said I'd never run one again, but I was probably feeling a little runner's high yesterday when the talk began.  Ha!  What would probably be more of a challenge as I'm reflecting today would be to train for a duathlon or a triathlon - talk about really testing the strength of your body by having to do more than just run.  It might just be the mental stress relief I need.  Maybe, just maybe.  To be continued...

And that's a wrap for now.  A little bit of this and a little bit of that.  I think that's what blogging is supposed to be.  Am I right? Have a great week ya'll.  Leaving you with more scenes of my amazingly healthy yet delicious food!
Pickling Red Onions for my Bean Burgers this week!
Sweet Potatoes with Spinach, Pesto, and Pine Nuts

Sunday, April 16, 2017

That's A Keeper 7

It's that time again.  My round up of my favorite "keeper" recipes.  I currently have a stack of "to try" recipes that is growing and growing by the day.  I'm obsessed with cooking anything and everything.  A few people recently have offered to be my quality assurance and let's just say that my family is one lucky family!  The other thing I'm obsessed with?  All the new cookbooks:  Vegan For Everybody, Over Easy, and A New Way To Bake - are just my most recent acquisitions.  Yes, there are SO many recipes to try.  I consider it my civic duty to bring you only the BEST of the BEST.  You're welcome.  Here we go:

Overnight Oats is my Jam.  Beets aren't my jam.  But I recently discovered a way even I will beets.  That's right.  You won't even know the beets are in your oats!  Beets for Breakfast!!  Just know your hands will turn pink and your kitchen may or may not look like an episode of Dexter (remember I need a Go Pro watching my every more...I am NOT graceful in the kitchen).  My recipe for overnight oats is simple:  1/2 cup of rolled oats mixed with 1/2 cup of milk (I use skim milk for the extra protein, feel free to use almond milk or whatever alternative milk of your choosing).  The next morning I add this Beet Berry sauce along with the nut butter of my choice.  Heat in the microwave for a little over a minute and voila, your breakfast is served.  Phenomenal.  I do not add any extra sweetener as I've adjusted over time.  You can too.  Believe me -  start reducing how much you use - in no time you'll be adding none.

For those that have kids that don't like vegetables, here's a recipe for you! Adults I'm looking at you too!  Yes you!  There are so many different ways to prepare vegetables in all their glorious forms, I find it hard at times to believe my patients when they say they don't like vegetables.  I say keep trying and then hand them a recipe.  While most people might like broccoli, I like this recipe because I'm able to use not only the broccoli crowns but also the stems - yes, this dietitian has thrown away way too many broccoli stems in her life.  Never again!  Less food waste is my goal.  And this recipe helps with that!  It gets better on day 2.

I'm a vegetarian and recently have been eating more seafood, so technically I'm a pescatarian (more on that later).  this dish is a combination of flavors that is OUT OF THIS WORLD!  I haven't been repeating recipes lately, you know because there's so many to try, but this one might need to be repeated this weekend!  The almond, parsley, lemon zest, and parmesan cheese topping?  The BEST - I want to put it on EVERYTHING!  Not only is it gorgeous, but it's SO flavorful.  Make this tonight!  And then let me know why leeks are so expensive - random question, but I need to know.

Crock-Pot.  Slow-Cooker.  Whatever you want to call it, they can be a life-saver when it comes to dinner.  When I lived in California I would take mine to work.  I'd start the crock-pot around noon so it'd be done by the time I would be leaving from work.  I didn't have an automatic timer back then, so this was the safest way.  Additionally this was the only way I'd eat meat - fall apart and where I didn't have to chew.  So it did save a lot of time and effort, but flash forward to now and I'm not sure why I still have one.  Enter this recipe.  Easy Split Pea Soup.  I threw everything in the crock-pot on high and three hours later, voila, a few lunches for the week, done.  I froze the rest as it made so much, but it couldn't have been any easier.  Really.  I'll need to find a few more to throw into the rotation.  And just a side-note, I didn't puree mine.  I like a little more texture in my soup and keeping it real, I didn't want to dirty my food processor.  I added some Greek yogurt on top instead of sour cream, creamy protein goodness.

I started training the first week of September for the Miami Marathon.  Right around the middle of October I randomly spot checked my food intake to make sure I was on the mark getting enough carbohydrates and protein.  As a vegetarian I do still consume milk, cheese, eggs, and yogurt, but with all the training I was doing I was not getting enough protein.  I was getting too many carbs and knew I needed to change it up.  I do not use protein powders but do use nuts in any form - nuts, nuts butter, and/or nut "cheese".  If I was tired of nuts I'd default and eat more cheese.  And while that most times helped me get enough protein my saturated fat intake was always too much.  Love cheese, but I was eating WAY too much.  So I decided to include more seafood.  I would eat fish occasionally when eating out, so yes, I'm technically a pescatarian, but I do/did that because many restaurants do NOT understand a balanced vegetarian meal.  Here I was in the thick of it training for this marathon and I wanted to make sure I was fueling my body right and helping to avoid any injuries.  So I decided to include fish three times per week along with my normal vegetarian meals on the other days.  This salmon recipe was on repeat for the first month.  I'd make the sauce for the week and it literally took just 5 minutes broiling on each side.  Quick, life-saving dinner.  But I knew I needed to change it up for boredom's sake.  I prepped the salmon the same way and then mixed it up like a deconstructed sushi bowl.   Didn't have time to roll sushi and brown rice as a complex carbohydrate had been a good fuel source for me.  I felt like I was winning.

But since it was still my go-to salmon I was starting to get bored.  I'm a vegetarian for a reason, I've never liked the texture of meat, so I was always hesitant to try seafood not only for the texture issue but also because I was worried of the "fishy" taste (or so I thought).  Enter halibut.  Yes, it's pricey and yes, I could have substituted another fish.  But you have to remember I was going for having a good experience with the fish and didn't want to fear that I wouldn't end up liking it.  This recipe by Williams Sonoma is beyond phenomenal.  You'll feel like a gourmet chef it's that good.  I rarely eat out and wanted to treat myself to nourished meals at home during this intense training.   Food for my body and soul. 

My patients are always telling me they don't have time to cook.  I'm a big fan of meal prep on the weekends.  You set the tone for the week and have key items already prepared so that when it comes down to the weeknights, cooking is a breeze (or at least a little easier).  I typically cook my grains for the week - brown rice, quinoa, whatever grain I'm using for the week.  They heat up just fine, there's no need to be cooking rice every night.  And with this next recipe, it couldn't be any easier.  I make the sauce up on the weekend, so when it comes to dinner, it only take 20 minutes in parchment paper and voila, dinner is done.  I do saute the spinach in the last 2 minutes of cooking, but it's the easiest way to get your vegetables in and not have to prepare too much extra.  Lemon-Herb Shrimp Packets - I've made it with fresh herbs and dried herbs and while fresh taste best, the dried ones worked in a pinch.  The best part?  THE easiest clean-up of all my dinners yet!

During my training I limited my desserts (and alcohol).  While I normally do have something sweet every day, I limit my portion size.  I am a dietitian that eats desserts, in moderation.  I've found that when I do allot for myself to have small amounts here and there it leads to less overeating (at least for me).  As I tell my patients, whether they are salty or sweet people, you have to learn how you are in regards to certain foods.  I get people that will tell me that they are "all or none people" and they prefer to go without desserts as it's too much of a temptation.  I've seen it way too many times that in those restrictive type atmospheres people end up overeating the very foods they were trying so hard to avoid all along.  Again, there's a lot more when it comes to food then just nourishment.  But back to desserts and training.  This was my go-to dessert during training- 4 Ingredient Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs - it made 8 eggs, so I had one for everyday of the week and the extra I ended up sharing.  Don't get me wrong - my birthday and the holidays fell during marathon training so I definitely had cake on my birthday, pumpkin tiramisu on Thanksgiving, and creme brulee on Christmas - but training was 4 months long so there was bound to be some desserts that entered the picture.  This recipe for only having 4 ingredients tastes like a replica of the Reese's eggs and is SO much better for you - minimal added sugar - and it felt like an indulgence.  I wanted to train hard and eat right and these did just the trick.  The best part?  The peanut butter dough is so pliable you can shape it into almost anything.  I made them for Valentine's Day (just forgot to take a picture of them) and made them into hearts.  Delish and way better for you than that other brand!

So there you have it.  My latest round-up.  Recipes that are keepers in my household.  That is, if I ever repeat a recipe. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Hello Spring

Hello Spring
Here in Miami there isn’t much of a shift in the seasons.  The joke is that it’s always hot and sometimes just a little less humid.  This winter we’ve had the warmest winter on record (my brother is a meteorologist, I should know.)  But when you take a walk outside there’s no denying the sound of birds chirping or seeing blooms all over the trees

It gets us all excited for mango season – and when you see a tree that loaded with blooms, all the possibilities of what’s to come.  Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but we know whether it’s going to be a good season or a great season just from looking at the blooms.

To quote my yoga teacher, Marianne Wells Yoga School, “what does the promise of spring mean for you? Is there a thaw that needs to happen in your heart?  A pain, a loss that you’ve been hanging on to that you could release to the love and warmth of spring?  We owe it to ourselves to let go.  After all, nothing lasts forever.  That’s what the renewal of the seasons teaches us.”
And that got me thinking.  Sure I know my blog is normally about food and nutrition.  But I also write about well-being and the whole body-mind connection.  So I’m going to write about what’s been going on in my life.  It’s mainly been work as of recent.  I’m constantly trying to find a better balance between work and my personal life.  My previous job I had a 75 mile one-way commute.  Let that sink in.  75 miles one-way.  It was a 3-hour commute.  While the commute was a far distance I did at least drive against traffic – I know people that drive 10 miles and it takes them an hour in traffic – I’m not sure I could’ve survived that and often wonder how people do it.  Regardless it was 3-hours of my life spent driving daily.  When I would return home at night I’d be soooooo tired it felt like the life had been sucked out of me.  It’s hard to describe, but ask anyone that’s been so focused on the road, it’s draining.  Flash forward to my new job.  I have a 5 mile commute that takes about 20 minutes, some days 30 minutes.  But my days are long – from seeing patients and then charting on patient notes.  I always have the best of intentions of leaving at 4 – but I’d say in the last year that’s only happened a handful of times.  Most days I’m there at least until 6 pm (I start my day at 8) and then some days I’m there even later.  I’m not saying these things to complain, I’m simply using my life as an example from what we can learn from, what I can learn from. 

I love what I do and I love teaching people about diabetes.  I don’t love weight loss counseling – truth, there I said it – I like teaching people about eating healthy and with diabetes you’re able to show them how to manage their blood sugar levels with the food that they eat, the exercise that they do and an adjustment sometimes of their medication (and with insulin it’s even more exciting for me to teach someone about as it’s even better managed from the day to day checking of their blood sugar levels).  In these past two weeks I’ve had 2 patients with gestational diabetes and believe me when I tell you that their numbers are dependent on what they eat and we’re trying to completely manage their blood sugar levels with food and avoid using the insulin if we can.  The picture isn't the greatest, but you'll see below almost all of the patient's levels are at target - and the one that was above target two days in a row, so we switched her food at that meal and the next day it was within normal limits.  That to me is rewarding.
That’s the kind of counseling I enjoy.  The weight loss counseling is tough because it’s never about the food and so I don’t feel like I’m actually teaching patients rather I’m counseling them and let’s be honest I don’t have a psychology degree.  All of this background insight to simply say, I’m working too many hours in the day and I’m giving my patients beyond 100% and I’ve not been giving back to myself. 
My yoga teacher’s words really resonated with me the other day and had me really reflecting.  I always talk about ways to give yourself self-love – one of my recent blogs, Self-Care Sunday – was even on that very theme.  But I’ve been failing myself and not following through and actually giving myself my own self-love.  And because of this I’ve been feeling drained all over again.  It’s a repeat performance of my last job all over again.  And that’s why I started reflecting.  How am I going to change this?  How can I make this better?  It’s definitely time for a change and I know it cannot continue this way.
So yesterday I did all the things that I love and enjoy.  Probably should've spaced them out and not crammed them all in one day.  But I figured go big or go home!

-I meal prepped for just a couple of hours.  Setting up the staples for the week helps me (because I am getting home so late at night) that at least I can eat a good, hearty meal - because I am definitely not cooking once I get home.  Some people don't like cooking, but I find it can be relaxing.  I enjoy cooking healthy food that tastes good.  Nothing makes me happier - well, maybe grabbing a perfect picture of the meal I just prepared.  I styled a few pics of the food I'm eating this week.  Gotta document the healthy eats.

- I spent time with my family.  My mom shares a love of cooking, so we headed south to a fruit farm she knows of.  Great little find down south, Granddaddy's Farm Fresh Market, a small, local farm.  It's always rewarding being able to buy fresh food and support the farmer behind that food.  If I had to grow my own food I'd be doomed - I kill everything.  Thankful for the farmers that do grow the food.  The BEST strawberries I've ever had.

-I wrote a part of this blog.  I love writing when I have a theme and something I feel that people can learn from.  This week it wasn’t about nutrition but it was about a current theme in my life –and to be honest many of my most recent patients have complained of this very same thing.  Perfect timing and the writing just flows – welcoming Spring with open arms.  Things are going to change. 
-Yoga & meditation– I’m still nursing a rib injury.  I don’t have an interesting story to tell, I’m just a clutz.  Daily I’m doing something to myself, most times without harm, but this time I didn’t fair so well.  So I didn’t have any asanas (physical poses) except good old savasana – corpse pose.  But it was just what I needed to do – focus on my breath (that is hard to do with an injured rib) and just be still and present.
-HEAT game.  I LOVE sports.  Have I told you recently that I LOVE sports?!  My HEAT are pushing for the playoffs and they needed my support!!  Sure we got a L and not the W that I was hoping for, but there’s no other feeling that you get when you’re at the game cheering your favorite team on.    #HEATison   

-Reading.  I haven’t read an actual book in I don’t know how long.  Someone recommended Judy Blume’s latest book – "In The Unlikely Event"– and 75 pages in, I’m hooked.  I have to see how all the characters are connected and how this story unfolds.  I loved Judy Blume from her "Tales of Fourth Grade Nothing" days and she’s not disappointing me again.  Books are a great way to create an adventure.  This adventure keeps getting better page by page.  Can’t wait to see how it all plays out.

Immediately my job is not going to change.  It’s time consuming and at times stressful.  What I can change is how I spend my free time and make sure I’m giving back to myself.  I shouldn’t be cheating myself .  It’s the old adage – “You can’t pour from an empty cup.  Take care of yourself first.”   In order for me to make any impact with my patients I truly do need to start giving back to myself.  Spring is that time for change, growth, and renewal.  It is a time of new beginnings & new possibilities.    And it’s time to give back to myself because things are going to change…