THANKSGIVING

thanksgiving table

It’s Monday, and for Americans it’s also the week of Thanksgiving.  This is usually the week where we think and talk about food nonstop.  What will we make?  What will we eat?  What will we have for leftovers?  Pie. Casserole.  Marshmallows on top of sweet potatoes.  Stuffing (my FAVORITE).  It’s a bit overwhelming.

Many fitness and diet experts will give you all kinds of rules and tips to navigate the holidays.  And many of those tips and tricks sap all the fun out of everything.  Don’t eat carbs.  Don’t have gravy.  Skip the dinner roll.  Only have one glass of wine.  Calories in/calories out.

I say, forget that.  Remember that quote I posted last week about how it’s what you eat on a regular basis that counts?  

It's fine to socializeoccasionally with special food and drink.-2

It’s true.  Do you nourish your body with the good stuff more often than not?  Do you give yourself ample opportunities to eat fruits and veggies and drink lots of water?  Even if you answered no, are you really going to start doing this on THANKSGIVING?

Stressing yourself out and feeling anxious and guilty about what you eat messes with your stress hormones, which release into your body, flooding it with chemicals that will inhibit your digestion.  The stress hormone Cortisol is to blame for excess belly fat in many people.  So do me a favor (heck, do yourself the favor) and relax.  If you’re going to eat something decadent, do it with joy and happiness.  Don’t sneak it.  Don’t chew it up quickly and swallow the evidence before anyone has a chance to “catch” you.  Savor it. Enjoy every bite.  AND MOST OF ALL, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. When it’s had enough, respect that and put the fork down.

And the next day, enjoy a green smoothie as part of my Green Smoothie Challenge, a bit of exercise, some fresh air, and the company of the people around you.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Salmon with Clementine Cucumber Salsa

clementine cucumber relish fish

I continued on my quest of cooking every recipe in Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook It’s All Good this week.  I had some salmon in the freezer and the ingredients for the salsa already in my fridge.  My 11 year old, Reese, helped me assemble the ingredients and acted as my sous chef, which means she peeled the clementines.  Sometimes she’s more enthusiastic about being helpful in the kitchen than others.  While reading the recipe out loud to me she said “This is the first recipe I’ve seen in this book that doesn’t have some totally crazy ingredient”.  I laughed because it’s true.  Gwyneth loves a good totally obscure ingredient (gochugaru anyone?).

The recipe for this dish was ultra-easy which is perfect for a weeknight dinner.  It called for cilantro and mint, both of which I didn’t have on hand.  I firmly believe in adjusting recipes on the fly and not adhering too strictly.  I love both mint and cilantro but knew the salsa would still taste good without it.  I ended up eating the leftover salsa as a salad the next day for lunch. I got two favorable reviews from my kiddo and husband and I also thought it was really tasty. I will definitely make it again and again.

Here it is, adapted from Gwyneth’s original:

INGREDIENTS:

4 fillets of your fish of choice (I used salmon but any would be good)

1/2 cucumber, chopped

4 clementines, peeled and chopped

A few dashes of crushed red pepper, to taste

3 shallots, sliced thinly

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt to taste (I love course sea salt)

Olive oil

METHOD:

Combine the cucumbers, clementine, chili, shallot, lemon juice in a bowl, add a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt, and stir to combine.

Meanwhile, heat a grill or a grill pan over high heat.  Coat the fish with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Grill until firm to the touch, about 4 minutes each side depending on thickness of fish fillets.

Serve the fish with the salsa.

ENJOY!

“Eating kale won’t get you into heaven.”

EATING KALE

I read this quote in a fabulous oped titled “The 5 Pillars of Positive Nutrition”   by Laura Cirullo, RD yesterday.  I loved it so much I made a meme. I adored the entire piece, because it encapsulates all the things I believe about nutrition, i.e.: food is not “clean” or “dirty”.  No food is off limits.  It’s not good to be afraid of your food.  I highly recommend the read for some common sense, non-fear mongering approach to healthier eating.

I think many people might think that because I’m studying to be a holistic nutritionist that I prescribe to the “clean” food movement.  That I only eat organic.  That I won’t eat something if it doesn’t have a superior nutritional profile.  The truth of the matter is that I love eating mini Snickers bars once in a while.  I adore a lemon drop martini when I’m out.  And if a Pillsbury crescent roll is served to me at a friend’s house for dinner, there is a 0% chance that I will pass it up.

80-90% of the time I eat the foods that make me feel my healthiest and that I know will continue to help my body fight disease and chronic illness.  The other 10-20% is reserved for foods that probably won’t.  There’s a saying: “Everything you eat is either fighting disease or contributing to it.”  I think there’s truth in that.  But I also wholeheartedly believe that when you eat enough of the “better” stuff, you counteract the food that eaten in large amounts could be unhealthy. Life for me would be so boring without martinis and bites of candy and a baked good once in a while.

So, yes, I eat kale (loads of it).  But I certainly don’t believe it makes me a better person than people who don’t!  What do you think?

GREEN SMOOTHIE CHALLENGE!

GREEN SMOOTHIE copy

This week I’m launching a Green Smoothie Challenge on my Cultivate Wellness Facebook page.  At the end of October I challenged myself to drink a green smoothie each day (either for breakfast or as my afternoon snack) as a way to ensure that I’m getting lots of servings of fruits and veggies and other good things in my diet each day.  It’s been 12 days and I am feeling so great! My thought was: Why wait until after the holidays to focus on my health and well-being? Sure, it’s the season for cookies, chocolate and cocktails, but there’s one small thing we can do each day to keep our healthy eating momentum: DRINK GREEN SMOOTHIES! Drinking a green smoothie each day helps our bodies get all the vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients it needs to stay on the right track during the holidays. Even if we do nothing else differently with our diets, this is one healthy measure we can take each and every day that will reinforce good habits all year long. Skin becomes clearer, our digestive systems will be happy, and our cells will love the nourishment. I’ll post encouragement, recipes and photos along the way.

JOIN ME, WON’T YOU? INVITE YOUR FRIENDS!

https://www.facebook.com/events/1032326443467026/

Chicken Apple Sausage and Sage Pasta!

chicken apple sausage pasta
Chicken apple and sage pasta

I love pasta.  Everyone loves pasta.  It’s easy to make and there’s countless variations to keep it interesting and fresh.  I make a pasta dish about once a week for my family.  Many times it’s on Monday when we have a busy after-school schedule and I need something easy but still yummy.

The other day I had some chicken apple sausage in the fridge and some freshly picked sage a friend gave me.  I had garlic and shallots and pasta and frozen peas.  I had freshly shaved parmesan.  I knew I could come up with something with all those delicious ingredients.

As the years have passed and I’ve become more comfortable in the kitchen (a lot more comfortable, in fact), I’ve started creating my own recipes.  I might look up another similar recipe to fine-tune cooking temps and times, but I really have started to enjoy putting together my own ingredients and flavors.  For the most part, it has worked.

So, here I am with all these fabulous, simple ingredients.  The following is the recipe I created that was a pretty big hit for the family.  My 11 year old daughter said she prefers the sausage a bit more crispy on the outside (like when I bake it with veggies).  I might let it sit in the pan a bit longer to caramelize next time. But everyone enjoyed it and went back for more.

INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup olive oil

1 Tablespoon butter

12 oz chicken apple sausage (or your sausage of choosing)

2 Tablespoons ribboned fresh sage (keep it in the freezer to use all year)

4 garlic cloves, minced

1-2 shallots, sliced

1 lb pasta (we had some fall themed pasta from Cost Plus World Market)

1 cup frozen peas

Salt and pepper to taste

chicken apple sausage
Sizzling chicken apple sausage.

METHOD:

Heat olive oil and butter in a skillet till shimmering

Add sage and fry  until crispy.  Remove from pan for later.

Add shallots and sausage and sauté until shallots are soft, add garlic.

Meanwhile, boil pasta according to package instructions, adding the peas in the last minute of cook time.

Drain pasta/peas and return to the pan with sausage and shallots.  Add crispy sage.

Top with freshly shaved parmesan.