Archive for Wellness

Have You Gut This?

Funny I was looking for images of the stomach symbolizing digestion and all I could find were of people holding their stomachs in discomfort and misery – like this one to the left. It got me wondering – what are we thinking when we think of our gut?

So in today’s article, I wanted to focus on having a healthy gut and not being in misery.

I saw a great ad for a digestive supplement today and it said:
You Gut This” Cute – right?

Even though it is taken from my least favorite, overused expression “you’ve got this” I couldn’t help notice how clever it was. So when it comes to your digestion Have You Really Gut This” or is your digestion gutted and in bad shape?

So what is your gut anyway? Your gut represents everything you consume, digest, process, and eliminate. And it isn’t exclusively just about the food you eat. Everything you consume whether its food, fluids, ideas, thoughts, needs to be digested and needs to be digested well in order to maintain good health.

Certainly, many herbs and foods help your digestion.

Rule of thumb: if the food is hard to digest it’s going to take longer to break down and it’s going to sit in your digestive tract longer, too causing disruption. Best to choose foods that are fresh, whole and come from the garden. Avoid processed foods that come in bags, boxes or containers with ingredient lists a mile long. These “foods” are most likely synthetic and something your body will not breakdown very well, if at all.

So how can you heal your gut and make it happy and make it say
“I’ve GUT this!”

Always look to nature for healing.


Five Herbs That Help:

1) Ginger: is a remarkable food/herb and has been used in cooking and healing for centuries. It is said that ginger has over 100 healing attributes; one of them being digestion. If you ever enjoy sushi you will always see pickled ginger offered as a condiment helping you digest the fish. It is used in many cooking traditions throughout the world. It is a pungent and healing herb, so you will want to avoid it if you have any burning caused by gastritis or acid reflux until those conditions are healed. Ginger also is excellent for nausea.

2) Cumin: This herb is often used in many dishes especially in Indian and Mediterranean cooking. Its flavor has been described as earthy, nutty, spicy, and warm. Cumin has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. Cumin aids in good digestion and reduces food-borne infections. Also, new research indicates benefits in promoting weight loss and improving blood sugar and cholesterol. This herb improves indigestion and any inflammation in your gut. It is helpful to eat or even make a tea with it for excess acidity as it has a marvelous cooling effect.

3) Coriander: Coriander or cilantro has multiple health benefits and is a wonderful source of dietary fiber, manganese, iron, and magnesium. It can also be an appetite enhancer as well. It is a digestive aid, diuretic and promotes healthy elimination. Although the leaves are cooling the seeds are slightly warming. Coriander not only aids in digestion but it also boosts metabolism – both are important when you want to lose weight.

4) Fennel: is very soothing to your digestive tract. It can help with bloating, gas, heartburn, and acid indigestion. By adding fennel seed to your cooking you will be assured better digestion. It’s cooling and sweet properties strengthen your ability to digest. Chew a handful of fennel seeds when you are experiencing digestive issues and in no time you will have relief.  Fennel also combines well with cumin and coriander – all three are cooling digestive herbs. Use it as a spice or as a vegetable – steam, cook or bake or add it to soups. It has a bit of licorice type flavor and it’s yummy.

5) Turmeric: A very popular herb/spice found everywhere these days. This herb is well known to help reduce any kind of inflammation in the body. It has many medicinal benefits such as increasing your overall energy, reducing gas, improving digestion, dissolving gallstones, and even reducing the inflammation associated with arthritis. Again, this herb is used in many South Asian dishes – namely curries. Avoid using Turmeric if you have acid reflux or other burning in your digestive tract.

And remember Your Kitchen is Your Pharmacy!

Wishing You and Your Gut happy days ahead.

Are You Digesting That?

 

Digestion is not the same as metabolism. You may think good metabolism means you don’t gain weight. Well maybe, if your body is breaking down the food you consume effectively. If that’s the case and you are making good food choices then you should be able to maintain a stable and good weight.

Digestion is how your body breaks down food in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and then eliminates the food waste through the intestines.

Metabolism is how your body digests or breaks down what it ingests and effectively uses the nutrients for energy and functioning of your body.

You must digest your food before you can metabolize it. 

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “you are what you eat or what you digest”? 

And maybe you’ve even heard: It’s often not what you’re eating but rather what’s eating you, as I mentioned in my book Skinny Jeans Lifestyle.  

I’ll take it a little further here, you are not only digesting your food but also your thoughts and emotions every day. In the ancient Indian form of medicine called Ayurveda it is believed that your digestion is everything

You will not be well if your digestion is impaired.  

There are several way to ensure this first off make sure you eat in a restful state. Avoid standing, reading, watching TV, having a heated conversation but rather be present, pay attention and simply enjoy your meal. 

In ancient cultures eating food was considered a sacred activity. There was an inherent respect for the food you were eating. 

Here are a 7 Quick Tips you can improve your digestion today:

  1. Eat when you’re calm
  2. Eat at regular times
  3. Eat diverse foods – colors, textures, etc.
  4. Eat slowly
  5. Make sure its hunger you have and not thirst
  6. Eat early in the day – dinner eaten between 4-6 
  7. Sit and eat in a relaxed environment not on the run

Slow down and enjoy nature’s bounty!

Discover How to Change your Bad Habits Part II

 

  • The brain wants everything to be efficient and automated
  • The brain doesn’t want to have to go through a difficult mental process every time it decides to do something.
  • The brain always asks “how fast can we do this?”
  • Our routine needs to be dismantled to create a new habit
  • You can’t just get rid of an old habit and be done with it. There’s a void that the brain wants to fill immediately with a replacement

Consider the Habit Loop 
– the 4 Elements of a Behavior
  1. Cue – time of day you do a particular habit. This environmental cue reminds the brain that this habit you are trying to change is what you will automatically go towards. However, at this point there exists an opportunity to ask yourself – what can I choose instead?
  2. Craving – is the discontent this cue creates. It’s a feeling or emotion of “I want to relieve this discontent or discomfort”. The brain has a craving it wants to alleviate. So instead of the pleasure of that chocolate cake how about creating the feel good chemicals like endorphins when exercising or oxytocin when connecting with others.
  3. Response – You  first get a cue, then you have a craving. Next your brain feels unsettled, so it chooses a particular action. You (your brain) may initially choose something not satisfying your craving so you choose something else to build the right brain response.
  4. Reward – once your craving is adequately met you feel a sense of satisfaction. You have now been able to relieve the stress you were feeling in your craving state. The result is that the craving is gone and your discontent is gone.

Creating a New Habit
  • Re-create new cues and tell your brain that it’s OK to change
  • You can make changes with small steps – 10 minute workouts or a small dietary change
  • By starting small you can in fact make a big difference
  • When you decide to start making changes you may need help – a coach or support group
  • You need to practice over and over again
  • Change + reward = habit

Celebrate your Small Wins

Here’s an example of a substitution for a Craving
  • You crave chocolate so you find an alternative. Maybe melt chocolate and dip some fruit into it – kind of like a fondue. Or have a chocolate protein shake in the morning. Know that you are actually craving the flavor of the chocolate and not actually chocolate.
  • With this fruit example we used above you will get the added benefit of healthy fiber, pectin, and bio-flavonoids and with the protein shake you will have additional protein and other valuable nutrients

Make it Small
  • Unfortunately, our culture works against us – the message is you should want fast, bigger and better i.e. – Biggest Loser, extreme sports
  • Small wins will sustain you day in and day out
  • Want a doughnut eat a handful of almonds instead. Or modify have 1 doughnut once per week or every 2 weeks  rather than daily or freeze them for future or give them away. Eventually the craving will go away.
  • Frequency of making a that one small change will soon develop into a habit further down the road

Drama Sells
  • Lose 50 lbs. in 4 weeks
  • Overnight results don’t last
  • You want something to work longterm
  • 5 pound sustained weight loss is better than the yo-yo cycle of gaining and losing and gaining again
  • Build a foundation of small wins

All or Nothing Mindset
  • Gain and cycle often makes you feel like a failure
  • Stopping consistent weight gain is something to focus on every day
  • During a crisis it’s the perfect time to incorporate a small and slow step strategy
  • Change evolves it doesn’t happen all of a sudden
  • Ask yourself did your past experience of using an all or nothing approach work for you
  • So often when a new diet or exercise program is started within 2 or 3 weeks most people quit
  • Change One Thing at a Time whether its exercising for three days per week or adding a salad to your day, or getting to bed an hour earlier, shutting off your computer two hours before bedtime, or eating dinner earlier. All you have to do is just Pick One.


True Change Evolves It Doesn’t Happen Overnight

Create a New Cue
  • How can I start craving this new habit?
  • How can I make my new habit attractive?
  • Get one new behavior under your belt by sticking with it and then go onto the next one
  • Making one change at a time builds your confidence
  • Incorporate small and doable steps
  • Connect your new habit with something meaningful
  • Get to the root of why you want to make the change in the first place – more energy, save money, less stress, be more clear-headed, reduce heart attack risk etc.
  • Small actions build confidence and motivation

Don’t Beat Yourself up if:
  • You’re not getting as quick results you had hoped for but you’re moving in the right direction
  • You’re not being perfect
  • You feel like quitting
  • No need to judge yourself just decide to hang in there no matter what

Good luck on your road to making the changes that will enhance your life today.

Discover How to Change Your Bad Habits Part I

Discover How to Change your Bad Habits

Do you suffer from any of these 10 most popular bad habits?

1)     Missing meals

2)     Snacking

3)     Getting hooked on sugar

4)     Eating too late at night

5)     Drinking enough water

6)     Not taking or forgetting to take your supplements

7)     Not getting enough sleep and going to bed too late

8)     No time to fit on exercise

9)     Can’t find the time to distress with meditation or yoga or something else that helps

10)    Saying yes to too many things or the “Putting Too Much on Your Plate Syndrome”


How to Change Bad Habits – 5 Steps


1)     Acknowledge the bad habit in the first place. Admit it’s a bad habit instead of believing it’s just the way it is. Don’t let it remain an unconscious behavior.

2)     Deciding to take action once you’ve admitted your habit of omission or inclusion i.e.: Plunking yourself in front of your computer for hours and realizing that you haven’t eaten dinner. Time can be a black hole – set a timer.

3)     Get an accountability partner. It’s tough to change habits on your own. Having a partner will help. A buddy system is extremely effective – keeps you on track and you get the support you need. Even just texting each other with the word DONE helps.

4)     Stick to it. Don’t give up too soon. Before a habit gets integrated you make get too comfortable and start taking your new found habit for granted. Soon it may slip away before you’re aware of that happening. Then you might be ridden with guilt. It’s difficult psychologically to muster up the resolve to start again. The solution is – just don’t quit. Get back in the saddle as soon as you can.

5)     Be open to suggestions. Don’t be stuck with only one way of doing things – try a new way. Try making it a game to see how doing things differently might be better. For example – (a) tough getting to bed at a good time? Try making your bedroom more luxurious and relaxing by buying a few new throw pillows – it’s simple and effective or (b) Want to drink more water? Buy a colorful water bottle. This is an easy and inexpensive habit-altering step you can take.

Immune Health 101


I have been receiving so many requests for information regarding immune health and stress management. To help you, I thought I would send you a few quick tips you could add to your day right away.
 
 
Here are 4 Quick Tips for Immune Health:
 
Sleep
Poor sleep is linked to heart disease, diabetes, depression and obesity and will certainly have an effect an your immune system’s ability to function well.
 

  • Excellent supplements for sleep are magnesium and melatonin
  • Zero computer, phone or TV usage one to two hours before bedtime. However, if you wish you could try using blue blocking amber tinted glasses to help shut out the  blue light emitted from your computer, phone and TV screens. You can also choose blue blocking lenses which you can easily put over your prescription glasses. A good brand is Elements Active. It’s the blue light that will disturb your sleep cycle.
  • Choose a comfortable and cool sleeping area.
  • Try not to have any work in your bedroom i.e. books papers files etc. Make it your personal sanctuary
  • Try using blackout blinds in your bedroom as well – they are ideal for preventing any light from coming through the window. The darker your room the better for sleep.
  • Try not to drink water or other liquids like tea too close to bedtime – it may cause you to wake in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom thereby disturbing your sleep cycle.
  • Try to have a regular sleep time and wake time.

 
Supplements
 
            Vitamin D

  • Sunshine is the best source of Vitamin D, of course. Try to get at least 10 minutes of direct sunlight in the morning.
  • Supplement with the recommended dosage of 5000 I U’s per day. Some recommend only 500 I.U, per day – I think that’s insufficient as most people tend to be deficient in vitamin D.
  • Choose Vitamin D3. 
  • Foods high in vitamin D are: fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, halibut, and tuna, Beef liver and egg yolks are also good sources. Foods fortified with vitamin D such as dairy, some orange juice and soy may also be good sources.

 
            Zinc

  • Supplement with zinc picolinate,
  • Rich food sources of zinc are: meat, shellfish, legumes, nuts and seeds, dairy, eggs.

 
Hydrotherapy and Sauna

  • Alternating hot and cold showers was proven effective during the Spanish flu. Run hot water for 3 to 5 minutes, cold for 30 to 60 seconds, try alternating three times. Do not use this method if you are diabetic. Many who have diabetes also suffer from a condition called neuropathy causing an inability to feel the sensation of hot or cold. This condition caused by nerve damage usually affects extremities primarily feet. Diabetics must be careful as this technique may burn their skin.
  • Saunas are an excellent source of detoxification, relaxation and will help with circulation

 
Stress management:
All of the following have a calming and immune enhancing effect

  • Prayer
  • Restorative Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Journaling
  • Connecting with loved ones by phone or Zoom
  • Also, sleep ***

 
Wishing you safety, health and strength.
Many Blessings,
Monika 

How to Stay Grounded During This Trying Time

Here are some tips on how to ground yourself at this very challenging time:

1) Journaling. I get to anchor my thoughts and anxieties when I journal. So as to not have my thoughts all over the place, causing further wear and exhaustion, I write it all down. This helps me focus on what’s important even only for an hour or a day. Now it doesn’t need to be an actual journal, it could also simply be a scratch pad – somewhere you could write things down. It has been proven that the act of physically writing things with your hand can have a deeper and more therapeutic effect than simply composing on your computer, iPhone, etc. There appears to be “a brain/hand connection’ if you will, that connects you physically to what you write. In fact, I first wrote the draft of this article in my journal and then transferred it onto my computer. I use my journal for everything – I call it “My Book of Life”. I get to figure out problems, be creative, rant, and even write poetry in it. Yup, it’s all in there. But that’s my way – find your own way of getting things out of your head and onto, preferably, paper.

2) Talking/Chatting. Talk to those who really know you. If you have good relationships with your family, and certainly with your friends too, talking with them in times of need is very nurturing. I’m fortunate to have a close knit family – we can easily talk, connect, laugh and even worry together. Even though they all live in Canada – the phone has always been a bridge for us. And, of course, talking with really good friends provides a great deal of comfort and relief no matter what is going on in my life.

3) Pets. Not sure how I would have survived the past five years caring for my husband if it wasn’t for the daily comfort of my little Mitzy, who I often call my “Comfort Cat”. Brian, our other cat, sadly passed away in 2016 – he was so loving as well. They are sweet and loving little companions for sure – keep them near.

4) Sleep. Perhaps not necessarily grounding in and of itself, however, I find it if I don’t get the best sleep possible – the next day I am unfocused and unproductive. I call this the magic and necessity of sleep or “Vitamin S”. Not only is sleep so important for overall health but also for your immune health – which we need to strengthen now more than ever. Turn off your computers and TVs by 10 or 11 PM and get some sleep.

5) Meditate. Meditate if you can. I’ve had the fortune of learning transcendental meditation some 35 years ago and I’ve been practicing it daily since then. Don’t get me wrong; some days I do miss out but I would say I’m able practice my mediation consistently at least 95% of the time. It’s a must for me. If meditation is difficult for you just slowing down your mind for 10 minutes once or twice a day can do wonders. By slowing down the raciness and even fears in your head it can actually improve your stress response, improve brain function and balance your blood pressure. You can also try deep breathing – close your eyes and slowly count to 6 as you inhale then another 6 as you exhale – slowly. Do this for about 5-10 minutes. Miraculously you’ll feel calmer. Of course, listening to relaxing music will also do the trick. If the phone rings or you hear a text coming in ignore it – you can attend to it when you’re done. Even during this crisis you need to give yourself a break.

6) Sunshine. Let the sunshine warm your body. If you are able to go outside – away from others – and just sit in the sun for 5 to 10 minutes that would certainly be good medicine for you. Getting vitamin D, which sunshine provides, onto your skin will increase your immune system considerably. Try and do this practice early in the morning. I know it’s still winter for many so if you can try and do this. Exercise is OK but hanging out outside for no reason is not OK.

I hope these tips will calm and center you a bit more. This is a time to slow down, for sure, we really don’t have any choice in the matter. Perhaps this is one of the best gifts coming out of this pandemic. We do need to slow down and really assess our lives and discover what’s important and what’s not. 

Getting to the essentials of what matters IS What Matters. 

Thinking of you and sending many, many blessings, 

Monika

   

P.S. Social Distancing doesn’t mean not connecting online, by phone, facetime, skype etc. Stay tuned in.

Wear Gloves for Health


All this news of my family’s health, the constant diligent care of my husband, and the barrage of news has, at times, left me feeling rather scattered and ungrounded. I thought of how I could manage these feelings and then share some solutions with you.I’ve been wearing gloves for five years now while taking care of my ailing husband. I have gradually had to increase the number of times I have had to wear those gloves. And now it’s imperative I wear them for both his and my safety. I have to “glove” myself as well as provide supplies for my husband’s health aides. Gloves are what we should all be wearing right now especially if you need to venture out.
 
Yesterday I went to the grocery store wearing my knitted winter gloves. I actually had to hunt for them because, understandably,  I hardly ever wear gloves here in Southern California. It’s only when I travel in the winter to Canada to visit my family that I use them at all. While in the store, I told a couple of my local Trader Joe’s employees that “it’s for my husband’s protection” and they of course understood immediately reliquishing any judgement. 
 
However, for those I encountered who I didn’t provide an explanation I sensed that they thought it was odd..I suspect they were thinking that I was over the top with panic, hysteria or something like that.
 
My husband is at high risk for contracting this virus. I realized this fact last week shortly after I had been celebrating my Birthday with friends. It hit me that I could not be out in the world as much as I thought I could because of my husband’s compromised medical condition. I realized I had to become extra cautious. 
 
I urge you all to take extra precaution  at this time even if you personally do not have someone around you that is highly compromised. Someone you come in contact with might be connected to someone who is highly compromised and so on and so on.
 
I recommend you wear gloves (not surgical gloves) regardless of what anyone else thinks. This virus is passed on and spread mostly through touching services – as you all know. When you get home wash your gloves after you’ve unloaded your groceries and then wash your hands immediately before you touch anything.
 
Gloves are more important than masks. Both would be great to have but there are very few masks available at this time. Whatever surgical gloves and masks that are available right now should be reserved for the medical professionals who are dealing with potential life and death situations. I’ve even seen videos where hospital staff are actually making masks out of craft materials because of this massive supply shortage.
 
So to manage during this time here are my recommendations:

  1. Wear gloves – your winter glovesSave the surgical gloves for medical and health professionals working hard in hospitals, care centers and, in my case, my home.
  2. Wash your hands as if your life depends on it. Seriously it’s that important. This virus is mostly spread on surfaces and hands touching those surfaces. I don’t normally recommended being obsessive – but now is the time to be just that.
  3. Get plenty of sleep. Rest as much as possible. You are under a great deal of stress right now – it’s crucial to recharge and revitalize yourself.
  4. Avoid being glued to the television or internet all day long. Take a break – listen to music, meditate, watch some stand-up comedy, etc.
  5. Go out for a walk – move your body. Remember to keep your distance from others when you’re out exercising.
  6. Avoid sugar and sugary foods. Sugar will deplete your immune system. Eat fresh whole fruits, vegetables, quality protein and good fats. Especially now – you need to maintain your strength and nourish your immune system.
  7. Connect with friends and family by phone or online. There’s nothing like the human voice or a loved one’s words to give you comfort, hope and a feeling of connectedness.
  8. Take additional supplements.
For your immune system take:
 

Vitamin C – 6,000 to 10,000 mgs. per day

Oil of oregano – 60 mgs. per day

To help with your stress take: 

Magnesium – 500 – 1000 mgs. per day 

B complex – as directed
 
And finally, I wish you safety, health and much rest during this trying time. And please stay home for the time being.
 

Are You an Expert at Gaining Weight?

I know, I know it’s absolutely something you do not want to be an expert in – right? But unfortunately, you may feel like you are. Whatever you do – you try this you try that – lose some weight gain it back and on and on… Sound familiar?

Here are my 3 tips to help make you more of a health expert and not a weight gain one – sound good?  OK – here it goes.

Your 3 Tips to Help Make You Your Own Health & Vitality Expert:

1.  Go Inside & Ask.  Do I want to be light or full? Do I want my clothes to fit or do I want that bowl of ice cream after dinner? Do I want a relaxing evening at home or choose to prove to my spouse that I’m right about something and end up arguing? Do I really need to watch YouTube videos until midnight or would listening to a meditation audio while I drift off to sleep at 11:00 p.m. be better for me?

You see, you are making choices constantly and making one that helps you attain a state of overall wellbeing is, of course, the best. However, the best choice may not always be the favorite choice. So try to go inside and take the time to process your thoughts and feelings first before making a possible impulsive or unhealthy choice.

2.  How Much Is Enough: You may wonder why controlling your portion size is so important. Well, it’s not just about the amount you’re consuming but also it’s about creating some discipline.  You see, when you begin to take good care of yourself, you start making eating the right food and the right amount a priority. Having discipline is a good thing and it can be synonymous with doing a loving thing for yourself. Discipline DOES NOT always mean limitation.

When you overeat you are usually compensating for an unusual or uncomfortable emotional state you are experiencing. Whether happy or sad on some level it can be difficult to accept how you are actually feeling in the present moment. Giving yourself a plan of action in the beginning of your day is helpful in keeping you in line and in-tune with how much food your body really needs. In my Skinny Jeans Weight Loss Program ™ I recommend weighing your food initially to help you discover the ideal amount of food for best weight loss results. Over the years I have heard many of clients admitting how surprised they were to find just how much in excess they were actually consuming. Their portion sizes were larger than their bodies actually needed to function optimally. Everyone has a portion size that’s best for them. These can vary depending on your exercise/activity level but generally women require approximately 1500-2000 calories/day and men approximately 1800-2400 calories/day.

3.  Dieting Shouldn’t Be Your Job: I’ve mentioned this several times in past blogs where I have warned you not only to avoid becoming obsessed with dieting but also to learn to reframe the entire concept of dieting. A  Diet actually means what you consume on a daily basis. If you are constantly dieting you are not learning how to eat for long term wellness. Taking your excess weight off in a healthy yet efficient way requires a system that supports fat burning and muscle maintenance and results in that sought after reduction on your bathroom scale.

Once you get to that “magic number” you must focus on doing everything you can to maintain that number or at least within a 3 lb. range.

For example, if you’ve lost 30 lbs. and your weight is now 150 –  try keeping your weight between 150-153. Once it starts going higher than the 3 lbs. you will need to go back to your original weight system/plan to get the extra weight off. The longer you wait to take this important step the more likely it is that you’ll gain even more weight and perhaps – wait for it -gain ALL the weight back – and I know you don’t want that to happen. You’ve worked hard to lose the weight so find the best way to maintain it. Pay attention to your weight fluctuations over time. Stop the uphill climb  before it gets out of hand. The more you follow this advice the less you will need to constantly be on a diet and the more freedom you’ll feel in this area of your life.

You are now becoming your own health expert – Congratulations

Want to be Successful When Dining Out?

So many have asked me to address the whole issue of healthy dining so this week I am. Whether you’re in the midst of an effort to lose or maintain a healthy weight, eating well at your favorite restaurant can be a daunting experience. But don’t worry it can be done.

Over the last few months I’ve had a lot of opportunities to dine out – more so than normal. Having firsthand experience of the challenges you face I am going to provide you some valuable tips to help maneuver through your next dining adventure.

Here are your Dining Tips:

1.  Just Say No: Don’t even let the waiter consider bringing the bread basket to your table. Trust me you won’t even miss it. In fact, yesterday my husband and I went to Sunset in Malibu, the restaurant where we had our wedding. It was lovely, although 93 degrees at the end of April even at the beach was somewhat disconcerting. So we had completed our wonderful meal when I noticed every other table either had a bread basket on it or was graciously having it served. Had the waiter done the same for us I could have been tempted to have some bread since I was quite hungry and not enjoy my meal as much. So just say no as much as you can – Save your palate for the main meal instead.

2.  Hold the Dressing: Most dressings are loaded with sugar, unhealthy fat and salt. Oftentimes when I review the  “Eat This Don’t Eat That” blog I am shocked by the caloric content of most commercial salad dressings. If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time you know I’m not big on calorie counting, but if you know how many calories most dressings contain you’ll think twice. Choose Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar and you’ll be good to go.

3.  Some Protein: Whether you’re a meat eater, pescatarian or vegetarian it’s important to have some source of protein in your meal. Your choices could consist of a ½ handful of shrimp, buckwheat noodles with goat cheese or nut meatloaf.  Your plate should consist of ¼ of protein no more. Ok so most restaurants might not offer the buckwheat noodles but a lot are now offering quinoa and certainly rice as well. Beans are also an adequate source and an option for you.

4.  Make Mine Veggie: I am advising more and more on the importance of focusing on having a primarily plant based diet. It is vital for good health, good for animals and for the planet in general. Put a small amount of protein on your plate and make the rest veggies. I have been tuned into the Food Revolution Summit all week and I suggest you also take part, too. You can go to  http://foodrevolution.org/summit/ and listen to powerful leading experts  interviewed daily until tomorrow. The Summit is hosted by John and Ocean Robbins. Remember John Robbins, son of one of the founders of Baskin and Robbins, in his landmark film and book entitled “A Diet for a New America” circa 1987 he exposed the tragedy of the American industrialized food industry including the mistreatment of animals. Think of reducing your consumption and demand for more humane treatment of animals. We all want that – right?

5.  Dessert Not Necessary: You should not need to have dessert if you had a balanced meal. Eliminating this cultural tradition does require some conscious effort and it can be done. If you need to tell yourself you’ll have something sweet later – by the time later comes you’ve most likely either forgotten about or lost the desire.

Enjoy your meal out!

What’s in Your Fridge?

I just noticed Dr. Oz had a special article in this month’s O Magazine about this very topic. I wanted to create my own version of what a healthy fridge should consist of using my own fridge as an example. In this article I’ll help you determine what to keep, clean up or clear out of your fridge. What are the best and then the not-so-good ingredients lurking in your Frigidaire?

So here’s how to keep your fridge COOL and not scary. Let’s review what you should keep. Consider the following as your healthy refrigerator basics:

1) Nuts & Seeds: They are a must in every healthy fridge and diet. Store them in the cool fridge to maintain optimum freshness and preserve the delicate natural fats inherent in these nutritious morsels. This list includes almonds, chia seeds, hemp seeds and pine nuts.

2) Vegetables: Load you fridge with the freshest veggies available. Keep the crisper brimming with crunchy delights from the garden. In my fridge I have a pull out drawer filled with Romaine lettuce (the 3 bunch bag), lemons, limes, onions (1/2 portion), green onions and cucumbers. In my larger pullout I have all the rest – kale, chard, eggplant, carrots, cauliflower, red cabbage, turnips, etc.

3) Fruit: As I’ve shared before I have another fridge in my garage where the overflow goes – it’s filled with grapefruit, oranges and apples and extra cauliflower, or sometimes I purchase a huge bag of baby spinach and put it right in there as well.

4) Probiotics: Although not a food item most probiotics require refrigeration to preserve their potency. More companies are starting to manufacture non-refrigerated versions giving you more flexibility for traveling.

5) Dairy: Best to keep butter and cheese in special sections in your fridge especially your cheeses. Butter like eggs has a much longer shelf life than cheese. When you need a quick protein food choose low fat cheeses. Don’t be afraid to use butter – just use it sparingly.

6) Eggs: It’s a must to keep eggs cool in order to maintain quality. Eggs have an excellent shelf life and are always good to have handy for a quick protein meal or for a special recipe.

7) Coconut Milk and Coconut Butter: Here also you want to keep coconut products cool in order to maintain freshness. Coconut has gained a well-deserved reputation as being a healthy dairy alternative.

Here’s what to dump:

1) Leftovers: If they are more than 3 days old, best to discard. The longer you save prepared/cooked foods the more degradation and loss of nutrient value. So avoid cooking too much at one time. This does take practice but it’s best to eat your food as fresh as possible.

2) Salad Dressing: Most dressings in the marketplace are heavily sweetened or have less than pure ingredients in them. Best to stick to olive oil and either apple cider vinegar or balsamic as a suitable and healthier salad dressing option. There are also several vinegar and oil gourmet shops starting to crop up everywhere. They offer some great varieties like Blackberry or Persian Lime Vinegars. Or how about Hazelnut Oil anyone?

3) Mayo: Unless its non-hydrogenated best to avoid. Hydrogenation is a processing method that damages fragile oils deeming them toxic when consumed. Best to either make your own version of mayonnaise or try using plain yogurt instead. It may taste a little more sour but it’s better for you.

4) Sauces: Avoid most prepared sauces. They are usually loaded with artificial ingredients and add unnecessary calories to your meals. Think of using fresh herbs like dill, mint, basil or rosemary instead. Or use warming spices like curry, cumin or cayenne. Or cooling spices like oregano or Herbs du Provence, for example.

5) Ketchup: This condiment is nothing more than sugar and artificial ingredients. You can’t really even claim any redeeming vegetable/fruit contribution of the tomato because it’s just tomato flavoring nothing more. Try instead using chili powder or sriracha sauce instead but beware these two have more punch than ketchup.

Chill out and keep your Fridge Healthy.