New Recipe: Cold Sesame Noodles (And More On Healthy Portable Dinners)

It’s activity season in Minnesota, and it’s probably the same where you live. If you have a school aged child, chances are you are spending a good amount of time shuttling them from one activity to another. My teenage daughter is in drama club, rugby, and she takes tennis lessons. The maneuvering required to keep one kid’s schedule straight is a feat in and of itself. I don’t know how people with multiple kids even do it!

Because my daughter goes to school 25 minutes away, it doesn’t make sense to come home and then go back to school for rugby practice at 6 p.m. So, she either goes to drama club or stays and does homework, and I bring her dinner for her break before practice. I’m not the best at coming up with travel friendly healthy dinners, so I am going to start compiling a list. If I get enough suggestions, I will share the file!

I did find this recipe for Cold Sesame Noodles and it looks delicious. I’m trying it out tonight. A friend of mine also recommended these Breakfast Burritos that her kids love.

Ok, so here is where I ask you to help me! Comment below with your favorite portable meals and I will start a file.

Thoughts From The Sick Bed

Even the healthiest people get sick. I fell ill with the flu 10 days ago and am just now getting out of bed and starting to feel better. My doctors tell me if I hadn’t received the flu shot, I would very likely be hospitalized with complications.

I do “everything right”. I get a lot of exercise, I take my supplements, I eat very healthy, I get 8-9 hours of sleep a night, I meditate, I enjoy lots of nourishing relationships. Sometimes, even with all of that, you just get sick.
I’m telling you this because a lot of holistic nutritionists and wellness practitioners sell people on this notion that if you just do all the “right things”, you will be invincible. That if you just cut out all sugar, or go gluten free, or go vegan, or go paleo, or any number of other things, you won’t ever get sick. That is nonsense. We are human and human bodies sometimes break down, get sick, or get injured.

Someone from my cohort yesterday told me not to eat any fruit whatsoever and stop all my supplements because they “feed the pathogen”. This is such utter nonsense. When I asked for studies to back up her claims she went radio silent. It makes me angry that someone out there is peddling this psuedo-science.

Bottom line: be careful when seeking wellness information and guidance. Look for real, honest-to-goodness scientific studies and papers to back up any claims. If something doesn’t sound right, follow that instinct. And if you ever have any questions, reach out to me. I like nothing better than to provide science based wellness advice.

In the meantime, I’m following doctor’s orders to rest. I’m going to eat lots of fruits and vegetables (they are full of vitamins and minerals, fiber, vitamin c, and other anti-inflammatory compounds). I’m going to get acupuncture today, and I’m staying hydrated. Sometimes, time is the best medicine.

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: My Own Experience.

A great book to help you get started. Even my dog agrees the house feels calmer.

In my opinion, and a lot of experts agree, a cluttered house leads to a cluttered mind. Higher rates of anxiety and depression can be seen in people who live in extremely cluttered environments. And when your mind is cluttered, your creativity and productivity are inhibited. As one of the foremost experts in happiness, author Gretchen Rubin has studied this extensively. She likes to say:

“Outer order contributes to inner calm.”

Gretchen Rubin


I’ve spent the last week decluttering my house. All the drawers, cabinets, storage spaces, and nooks are being methodically purged and organized one by one. I’m not finished yet, but I hope to be by the end of this week. We don’t have a lot of surface clutter, but look inside drawers and it’s a different story. This leads to me to feel like I don’t have control over my surroundings. And when I try to find something and I have to wrestle with a bunch of odds and ends in a drawer to find it, I get frustrated.

In the middle of my project, a friend told me that Marie Kondo, author of the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, had a new Netflix series called Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. I have read that book and used it to purge my clothes closet a few years ago. I watched the eight episodes of the series over the course of the last four days and got a lot of great tips from it. She’s calm and kind and I loved watching her process.

So, is organizing your space on your list of New Year’s Resolutions? Leave a comment below and tell me. I am amazed at how energized I feel since I’ve started decluttering. Today I’m tackling the kitchen utensils, which will make cooking even more enjoyable.


Have a great day!

Favorite Podcasts For The New Year

I love a good podcast. I’m going through a phase right now where I just want to learn as much as possible about how to improve my daily life, whether through exercise, mindfulness, life hacks, or any number of “self improvement” type actions. I specifically am attracted to podcasts that are short and sweet. I’ve given up or severely restricted most social media and it has freed up my brain for so much more useful information. Which means I’ve been listening to podcasts like crazy lately! Below are my current five favorites, plus one that I’m excited to start listening to when it premiers later this month.

Last summer I binged on what to this day is one of my most favorite of all podcasts, Happier In Hollywood. It’s hosted by two female television writers who have been writing partners since high school. While some of what they cover is lighthearted and fluffy (like how to find the perfect black purse), they are also full of excellent job, life, fitness, nutrition, and other advice that I find so useful. They have great guests. And it’s just really fun to boot.

Happier in Hollywood is an offshoot of the Happier podcast by Gretchen Rubin. Gretchen is a writer who researches happiness and her books The Happiness Project and Happier at Home, to name a few, might sound familiar. Her podcast is also chock full of advice, all of which is designed to help you maximize your happiness quotient.

I recently discovered The Magic Pill, a podcast hosted by a Harvard Medical School physician and a health journalist. Each snippet (they are all around 8 minutes or so) is full of great information geared to inspire us to make exercise a regular part of our life. We learn the science behind exercise and all the other benefits. This is a 21 day podcast in which each day you receive an email with that day’s episode. It’s fast, it’s fun and it’s full of great info.

NPR’s Life Kit has a similar podcast called Exercise: Learn to Love It (Or At Least Like It) and it’s similarly endearing. The first episode features Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s personal trainer. It’s about 20-ish minutes long, which is the perfect amount of time to go for a brisk walk while listening.

NPR’s Life Kit also has a new podcast called Eat Your Way To A Healthier Life which premiers in mid January. I’m including it here because the promo sounds great and I’m really excited for it. I also really respond to measured, scientifically-backed nutrition advice that isn’t sensationalistic.

And lastly, I will be listening intently to Side Hustle School. For anyone who has a “side hustle” (aka: a second venture beyond your full time job or something else you do on the side even if you don’t have a full time job that provides extra income and can help satisfy your entrepreneur cravings) or anyone who aspires to have a side hustle, this is a great podcast. Most episodes are 10 minutes or less and all are full of great insight and advice.

One more fun tidbit: if you have a podcast you love and want to introduce someone to it, you can use the Gift of Podcast free printable. It’s great for people in your life who don’t know how to use podcasts, as the printable gives step by step instructions. There’s also a spot for you to write the name of the podcast as well as why you recommend it. I put one in my husband and daughter’s stockings this year.

What are your favorite podcasts? Comment in the section below!

Food Waste: America’s Dirty Little Secret

peppers and veggies

I was cleaning out my fridge yesterday and came upon several fruits and vegetables that had gone bad. I threw them into the compost bin (we are lucky that our progressive city provides curbside compost pickup) feeling terribly guilty. And for good reason. According to the US Department of Agriculture, Americans waste 150,000 tons of food a day, the equivalent of 1 pound per person per day. Those with the healthiest diets, the ones that contain lots of fruits and vegetables, are the worst offenders. That would be me.

Not only is this offensive to the people in this country who struggle with food insecurity, it’s also horrible for the environment. All the water, pesticides, soil and other materials it takes to grow vegetables and raise animals are being wasted at alarming levels. If your city doesn’t provide composting services, and the huge majority doesn’t, all that food waste is going into a landfill which releases methane, a harmful greenhouse gas.  Hello climate change.

Add to all of this the fact that only 4 of the 10 larges supermarket chains have plans in place to address waste in their own stores, and we have one very big problem.

I wrote over the summer about my plan to make each day of the week unique. On the list  I will add taking stock of our food situation on weekends so that I can plan ahead for the week to use the food that needs to be consumed soon. My husband pulled a Larabar from the back of the pantry for a snack this weekend and it had mold growing all over it. Turns out it expired in 2017. Larabars are expensive and we ended up having to throw away two boxes of them. To say I felt ashamed of that is an understatement. They are a nutritious source of calories and they could have been donated to our local food shelf if we weren’t going to eat them in a timely manner.

Ever since I watched this Oprah episode on food waste way back in 2008 I have thought about the food we waste. Did you know Americans make up just 5 percent of the world’s population but use 25 percent of the world’s energy resources?

I, for one, am just tired of the waste, and I’m ready to make some changes. One thing we do well in our house is eat leftovers. We love them and more often than not we eat at least 75% of the leftovers in our fridge. But I am going to start freezing what we don’t eat instead of finding them in the back of the fridge when it’s unsafe to eat them. I’m going to insist we finish one type of snack food in the pantry before we buy something similar. And I am going to stock back up on these reusable BPA-free GreenBags that I used to use all the time until we ran out. They keep fruits and veggies fresh much longer.

What haven’t I thought about? Is there something you do that helps reduce your household’s food waste? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

 

StopTober?

I have been thinking about this word for several days now. It’s a mashup of “Stop” and “October” and apparently some people in the wellness and self-improvement world use it as a chance to try to stop a bad habit. I have also heard it more specifically referred to as “SoberTober” amongst people who take a break from drinking any alcohol during the month of October.

So ,what habits are people trying to stop? Drinking. Smoking (in England, the National Health Services, or NHS, uses the word for their stop smoking campaign). Eating junk food, gluten or sugar. Swearing. Watching TV. Overspending. Going through the drive through. And on and on.

Part of me loves this idea. So many of us wait until January to decide to cut out unhealthy or unhelpful habits (and sadly, the majority of us fail). This sort of gives us an opportunity to address things that are bothering us during a time of year when we are ramping up our eating, drinking and celebrating.

The other part of me would like to see people focusing on adding healthier behaviors rather than stopping or giving up something. There is real value to the “crowding out” philosophy, where you crowd out unhealthy behaviors with healthier ones. It’s a bit gentler and for many people this approach works better. But, I am a moderator, which means I can eat just a half of a cookie or drink a half of a glass of wine. So for me, the crowding out approach works. But I appreciate that many people do better abstaining than moderating, and need firm guidelines.

I am going to do a little experiment for the month of October. The one thing I really have trouble moderating is my iPhone usage. I am on it most of the day (reading articles, researching, emailing, texting family and friends, and yes, scrolling through my social media feeds). I am not happy with the amount of time my hand is tethered to my phone, so while I am not going to give up my phone completely, I am going to set limits. The new iPhone update has a “Screen Time” tab in the settings. You can keep track of how much time you spend using certain apps and set limits on them. I was shocked to see how much time I have spent on my phone over the last few days. And although yesterday I “only” spent a total of just over two hours on social media, I spent almost two full hours texting.  Another way to help me stop the habit of picking up my phone whenever I’m bored is to use the Forest app more often. You can grow virtual trees if you don’t use your phone for a set amount of time. And when you’ve racked up enough points, a real tree will be planted.

Is there something you’d like to give up in October? Or do you think it is a silly idea? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

You might also like:

Make Each Day Of The Week Unique (plus a new carnitas recipe!)

Portobello “Burgers”

 

 

 

 

Should You Drink Celery Juice?

celery

A friend reached out to me recently asking if she should be drinking celery juice. She had read about all of the health benefits and wanted to know if I recommended it and if she should jump on the celery juice bandwagon.

Have you heard about this newest trend? The actress Busy Phillips (whom I love for her honesty on social media about all kinds of issues ranging from parenting to body image and more) posted in January about her commitment to drinking it every day. She said “Apparently it’s supposed to do all of these wonderful things for you and something with Gwyneth Paltrow and I don’t know but I’m on board,” she said, laughing. “So now I’m drinking celery juice. It’s really good.”

Ok, back up a second. Gwyneth Paltrow’s website Goop has received all kinds of press regarding her health advice, much of which is not supported by science. In fact, there has been such a backlash that she recently committed to hiring a fact checker for all the claims her website makes. This article is an absolute must read for anyone who follows Gwyneth Paltrow’s advice or even is a little interested in her Goop empire. It’s titled, “How  Goop’s haters made Gwyneth Paltrow’s company worth $250 Million”.

This is all to say that even as a holistic nutrition consultant (with a healthy dose of skepticism for any outlandish claims), I wouldn’t necessarily recommend drinking celery juice. Why? First of all, it’s very very bitter. Why punish yourself? Secondly, no one food is a magic bullet. Yes, celery is a very healthy veggie with fiber, folate, vitamin K, and potassium. It’s a powerful antioxidant. But so are a lot of vegetables. What I would recommend is eating celery in its whole form so that you do get the fiber along with it. Put it in a green smoothie so you get some other flavors and nutrients in there. Eat it with some peanut butter for a healthy snack that contains the magic trio of fats, carbohydrates, and protein. And if you really want a green juice, combine it with some other green veggies so you are mixing your nutrients instead of focusing on just one source. I like the Suja Uber Greens Organic juice which has cucumber, celery, grapefruit, green chard, spinach, parsley, mint tea and more. I buy them from Costco for a reasonable price and when I feel like having a green juice I reach for one of those. They have only 5 grams of sugar per bottle, which is important to note because a lot of green juices contain fruit juices and up to 48 grams of sugar per bottle.

My final thoughts on the matter: be wary of outlandish health claims. While drinking celery juice won’t hurt you, I don’t believe there is anything magical about it. If it makes you feel good, have some celery. But if you are suffering trying to choke down a glass of celery juice, give yourself a break and eat it with a healthy dip instead.

You might also like:

It’s All Good?

Vitamin C Smoothie (Great For Your Immune System)