Wow. Is it really 2010? Where has the time gone? And what the heck happened to FeedNews in the second half of 2009!?
Well, it has been a year of big changes for me personally and for Feed. I often encourage my clients to get better at saying no to things that aren't absolutely necessary when life gets crazy and the overwhelm starts to kick in, and I had to take a bit of my own advice last year. Between spending a priceless six months with my grandmother before her passing in November, converting Feed to a phone-based counseling practice (and staying busier than ever!), tackling full-time coursework toward a Masters in Clinical Nutrition, and falling in love, there just haven't been the extra hours in the day to gather all of my recipes and thoughts into a neat package and send them off to all of you. Harumph!
LUCKILY it's a brand new year, and I've realized that though things like FeedNews take some time and effort, they also light me up and make me feel inspired and energized. Happiness and health are all about striking a balance, right? So this is my compromise: FeedNews will become a quarterly newsletter in 2010, which will keep the good word coming in and provide you all with some fresh, seasonal inspiration for your food lives – without creating undue overwhelm on the sending end (ahem).
What about you? Is there anything that fell (or was pushed) off your plate last year that you'd like to add back in in 2010? Or maybe there's something that you've always wanted to try but never seem to get to? A healthy habit or two that you KNOW leaves you feeling happier, healthier and more energized...if only you can manage to implement it/them on a regular basis. Well, now's your chance, people. Be creative – make your life work for you – do it now.
Questions? Thoughts? You know I love to hear from you. Send 'em all to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Board-Certified Holistic Health Counselor
A Year from Now You May Wish You Had Started Today
“How soon ‘not now’ becomes ‘never’.”
I don't know about you, but one of the things that floated up to the top of my list of "things to do differently in 2010" was to stop procrastinating! Really? I'm alone in that? Well then, I guess you can just skip on down to the section on whole grains, you highly productive people you.
Why is it that the things that I ostensibly want the most are the ones that end up being put off almost indefinitely in lieu of little, meaningless time wasters that don't increase my productivity or happiness (facebook, web "research", incessant iphone checking, reorganizing the pantry)? On the flip side, things that I know I have to do, but don't particularly want to, also get put off – as if I'm hoping that by avoiding these tasks they will magically go away or complete themselves.
A recent study by the Families and Work Institute found that more than 50 percent of Americans say that we are either handling too many tasks at once or are frequently interrupted during the workday — or both. In short, we are overloaded. Is it any wonder, then, that we have trouble getting jobs started, keeping them going, or finishing them up?
On top of the sheer overwhelm, fear may have a role to play in which tasks end up collecting that proverbial (or literal) dust. Fear that we don't know the answer, or may be rejected, that we may fail (or succeed), or don't know what to say or how to say it. Whatever the origin of our delay, it can become utterly paralyzing – often growing more ominous by the day.
So what do we do about it? It seems to me that in order to tackle something, you need to first know exactly what it is that you need to do, including the steps you must take to get it done. Then it's helpful to know why doing it is important to you (and what might happen if you put it off). Additionally, I think it's a great idea to identify potential blocks you might have to completing (or even starting) said task, including ideas about how you might overcome those blocks. Perhaps most importantly, you need to just get moving. And last but not least, don't forget to give yourself credit along the way for making progress toward your goal.
So let's take a look at those one by one.
1. Identify your task – What exactly do you need to do? Write it down. Then write down each action step necessary to complete your task. An action step should be specific and require only one step to complete. Your first action step should be something that you can do *right now* to get this project moving. If the project doesn't need to be started now, set a date upon which you'll work on action step #1. By focusing on the trees rather than on the forest, you'll be much less likely to get overwhelmed. Like hi-tech solutions? Software like omni-focus is great at keeping track of task lists, categorizing them, and breaking down large tasks into actionable chunks
2. Why is it important? – Ask yourself what you stand to gain and lose from completing your task vs. putting it off. You can make 2 columns (GAINS/LOSSES) and jot down in the "Gains" column what you stand to gain from completing the task, including how it will feel once it's checked off your list. In the losses column, list the potential results from procrastinating the task (ie - "I have to stay up all night before the project is due and end up turning in work I am not proud of" or "I don't meet my weight loss goals and feel self-conscious and down when warm weather hits.") If, in completing this exercise, you decide that you don't really want or need to complete this task, then cross if off the list, for pete's sake – why are you trying to make more work for yourself?
3. Identify Potential Blocks – Imagine yourself going through the steps necessary to complete your task – from start to finish. Now jot down any feelings that come up for you as you imagine yourself taking these steps. Resistance? Hesitation? Do you automatically start thinking of excuses as to why you can’t move forward? Is there a certain step you can't seem to move past in your mind? Writing down your emotions and blocks gives your ideas a kind of reality, and allows you to decide whether your fear is rational or irrational. Now you can make a plan for breaking through the fear and gather whatever rescources you need to move toward your goal.
4. Get Moving – Probably the most important step of all is to GET GOING! Start your task. Even if you're not sure exactly how, or what to say or write – just sit down and commit 10 minutes to the task at hand. Once you've finished your first action step, schedule a specific time to work on action step number two. For those of you who feel utterly paralyzed by procrastination, phsyical movement is often a great starting place. In his book "Getting Unstuck" James Gordon, MD (head of the Center for Mind Body Medicine) says: "Walking every day, you begin, quite literally, to walk off the anxiety that immobilizes and constrains you. There's a sense of purpose in it that's antithetical to procrastination". If you're feeling particularly stuck with something, try starting each day with a 10-30 minute walk – then sit down and spend 10 minutes on the most challenging task on your list.
5. Take Credit – In their book “Watercooler Wisdom: How Smart People Prosper in the Face of Conflict, Pressure and Change”, Karen Leland and Keith Bailey recommend taking energetic credit for any action you complete, no matter how seemingly small or insignificant. This way you're generating positive energy along the way to fuel the completion of your task!
Now – think about something that you've been putting off. Maybe it's a health or fitness goal. Maybe it's rolling over your 401K, or canceling that gym membership you haven't used in 4 months. Whatever it is, wouldn't it feel frigging fantastic to cross it off your list? So do it. What do have to lose?
If you would like more support in creating a fun, actionable plan for a healthier you right now, I invite you to a free 50-minute phone consultation as a beginning for your individual wellness program. In your session, we will discuss your food/life history, your current concerns and goals, and how Feed Health can make a difference in your life. Contact me for more information!
What are whole grains and what’s all the fuss about anyway? A “whole grain” is the seed or kernel of a plant– an amazing little life-producing factory, really. Grains have three parts: the bran – the protective coating of the grain which is full of fiber, B vitamins and antioxidants, the nutrient-packed germ – rich in protein, fats, vitamins, and powerful phytonutrients, and finally the endosperm – the big starchy part of the grain between the germ and bran which is primarily composed of carbohydrates, along with some protein and small amounts of vitamins and minerals. “White” or refined grains like white flours and white rice are stripped of their most nutritious parts, leaving only the starchy endosperm - which is often enriched with a small handful of nutrients.
WHY EAT 'EM?
I think we've all gotten a little bit confused about carbs, grains, and just what is what and who is good and bad. Often when I speak to folks these days, they tell me that they are terrified to eat ANY kind of grain or bread...or feel guilty when they do.
I'm here to tell you that there is a major difference between including robust, slow burning, high fiber, protein-packed, heart-healthy whole grains into your diet and eating mass quantities of processed, starchy, pillowy, white foods made from refined flour. HUGE. In fact, aside from eating your veggies (please, PLEASE eat your veggies, people), including whole grains in your diet is one of the very best ways you can protect yourself from a whole host of health problems (epidemics, really) including but not limited to diabetes, heart disease, stroke, any number of cancers, hypertension and obesity. On top of avoiding disease, whole grains keep you regular, give you amazing sustained energy throughout the day, and keep your blood sugar levels steady so that you can avoid those pesky crashes that end up leading you to straight to the candy jar or starbucks.
In contrast, indulging too much in processed, refined grains and flours (white flour, white rice, "refined wheat flour", etc.) wreaks havoc with your blood sugar levels, leads to increased carb and sugar cravings, weight gain, and decreased energy levels overall. Don't believe me? E-mail me and I'll give you all the dirty scientific details.
A FEW OF MY FAVORITES
• Quinoa – (pronounced KEEN-wah) is probably my favorite grain of all. Not as much a grain as a seed, this peruvian superfood has a nutritional profile that's hard to ignore (super high in protein, fiber and a whole host of other nutrients, including immune supporting lysine), is easy and quick to prepare, comes in a rainbow of fun colors, has these adorable little tails that pop out during cooking, and can be dressed simply and eaten like cous-cous, or gussied up with any number of accoutrements. (1 cup quinoa to 1.5/2 cups of water)
• Millet – in case you haven't heard of this cute little grain, rest assured, as a staple food of about a third of the earth's population, many people have! Millet is notoriously easy to digest, nutritious, and fast cooking, with a light texture and a mild flavor. Taking an extra few minutes to toast it before cooking will bring out a lovely, nutty flavor. Millet is a wonderful grain to use in casseroles, patties, etc. (1 cup millet to 1.5 cups water)
• Oats – the quintessential morning grain, oats come in preparations ranging from the groats (whole oat berries), to steel cut oats (groats cut into smaller pieces), to old fashioned rolled oats (groats steamed and rolled into varying thicknesses) to instant oats (the thinnest and smallest of the rolled oats). While all of these types are considered "whole", they have a stronger blood stabilizing effect (ie - are converted more slowly to sugar in your body) the closer you get to the whole groat. See recipe #2 for an ultra quick morning preparation that you can eat all week!
• Rices of All Colors and Sizes – rice comes in so many interesting colors and sizes, you're sure to stay entertained. Short grain brown rice, which is inexpensive, hearty and versatile, is one of my "go-to-grains". I love to eat it as is, or to spruce it up with nuts, fruits, herbs, and greens. You also can find brown basmati rice, sushi rice, long and medium grain varieties. Bhutanese red rice, a lovely, nutty variety, is another favorite in my household, and from time to time, I've even been known to whip up a pot of sticky, dark purply-black forbidden rice. Explore the rice aisle and celebrate the rainbow that awaits you! (1 cup rice to 2 cups water)
• Farro – Farro (much like spelt and kamut) is an heirloom variety of wheat, an ancient grain that can be used in risottos, salads, soups, or as a nutty side dish simply prepared. These days, it is also possible to find farro pastas, which are hearty and delicious. Whereas all of the above grains that I listed are gluten free, farro, although much lower in gluten than typical hard winter wheat, should not be eaten by those with celiac disease or extreme gluten intolerance. Can't find farro? Try substituting spelt, kamut or barley. Buying "pearled" versions of any of these grains will cut the cooking time without sacrificing too much of the precious grain – we call this a "semi-whole" grain. (1 cup farro to ~2.5 cups water)
TIPS AND TRICKS
• Get a Rice Maker. Although whole grains are really very simple to prepare, I'm not afraid to admit that I have a ricemaker, and I LOVE IT. I use it to cook any/all of the above grains, and incorporate them into my diet so much more often because of the convenience. You don't have to break the bank, just be sure to get one with a non-stick bowl and a lid that latches closed. If you live near a china or japantown - head that direction for the best deals.
• Cook once, eat twice. Even quick cooking grains can be the longest cooking item in an otherwise almost instant dinner. Make a big batch of grains at the beginning of the week, and incorporate them in creative ways. Make a hearty grain salad, add some milk, honey, fruit and cinnamon and have them for breakfast, or throw them into a breakfast burrito or a soup (use whole in chunky soups, or blend to use as thickeners in creamy soups). Try steaming rice with a touch of water to reheat -- it will kill the dry crunchiness of the fridge.
• Shop Smart. Don't have time to prepare whole grains for yourself? Refer to tip one, AND don't fret – there are lots of great whole grain options right on the shelf. Brands like Amy's Organics and Kashi use brown rice and whole grain pilafs in their frozen dinners, and Trader Joe's has pre-cooked brown rice both frozen and on the shelf. When label reading, it's best to go for things that are 100% whole grain, or at the very least have a whole grain as their #1 ingredient (well before any of the refined flours). Where bread products are concerned, sprouted whole grain varieties are head and shoulders above the rest.
Recipe: My Favorite Cool Weather Quinoa
1 cup quinoa (red or white), rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
2.5 cups water (or stock)
1.5 cups butternut squash, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 medium red onion, halved and cut into thin slices
1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
1.5 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
3 tablespoons Olive Oil
Salt, pepper & vinegar to taste
OPTIONAL: 1/8 cup pomegranate seeds, handful of arugula (chopped)
Preheat oven to 425° F. Bring quinoa to a boil in a pot of salted water (fill to 2-3 inches above the quinoa) and cook until al-dente – 15 minutes or so. Drain quinoa into a fine mesh metal sieve that fits roughly inside the diameter of your pot, place sieve over pot with 1-2 inches of water (water should not touch the bottom of the sieve). Cover sieve with dishcloth and then with pan lid. It’s ok if the lid is not a tight fit. Steam quinoa for 10 minutes or so until dry, tender and fluffy. You can also cook quinoa in a ricecooker (normal rice settings) or, using a 1-1.5 ratio of quinoa to water, cook completely in the pot and forgoe the steaming. I have found, however, that either using this steaming method or a ricecooker results in the sort of dry, fluffy quinoa we're aiming for for this recipe.
While the quinoa is cooking toss the squash, onion, and thyme with 1.5 T. olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a couple big pinches of salt on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Arrange in a single layer and place in the oven for about 20 minutes. Toss the squash and onions every 5-7 minutes to get browning on multiple sides. Remove from the oven, let cool a bit. It's okay if some of the onions get a bit black on the edges. Rougly chop walnuts and toast either in hot oven or dry on the stovetop in a skillet - just be sure to keep an eye on them! *When I make big batches, I cook my onions and squash seperately, and focus the balsamic on the onions.
In a large bowl gently toss everything with the remaining 3 T. of olive oil (use less if you like). Taste and add a bit of salt & extra vinegar if necessary, and arugula and pomegranate seeds if using. This dish is wonderful warm or cold and will keep for about a week – wonderful for a hearty lunch!
Recipe 2: Pretty Perfect Oatmeal
1 cup steel cut oats
2 cups water (for cooking)
1.5 T fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. sea salt
¼ cup dried cranberries, cherries, raisins, currants or a mixture -- or omit & instead garnish with fresh or frozen berries or chopped apple or pear
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cardamom (optional)
1/8 tsp. powdered ginger or grated fresh ginger
1 T. maple syrup
¾ cup organic milk, soy, almond or rice milk (optional)
chopped toasted almonds or walnuts
Place oats in a bowl with water to cover and add the lemon juice. Soak over-night. Drain through a fine-mesh sieve and rinse well under cold water.
In a 4-quart pan, combine the oats, 2 cups of water, and salt. Bring to a boil over high heat and cover. Decrease heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the dried fruit, cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger. The oatmeal will become very creamy as the water evaporates. Add the maple syrup and milk and stir. For a less-moist oatmeal, leave the lid off for the last 3-4 minutes of cooking.
Garnish with toasted nuts and/or fresh fruit and enjoy!
There is a WORLD of difference between instant oatmeal and hearty, homemade steal cut oats. I know it seems like an annoying extra step to soak your oats overnight, but 2 minutes of planning before bed will make cooking up a pot of oats in the morning as quick as instant, AND make them far more nutritious and easy to digest. I like to make extra (2 batches at once) and keep the leftovers in the fridge. This makes my morning routine even faster – I just slice off a bowl’s worth and reheat it with my milk of choice – 3 minutes to a home-cooked nourishing breakfast that keeps me warm and energized all day.
This recipe is inspired by one from Rebecca Katz, one of my MOST favorite whole foods chefs. She has two beautiful cookbooks – The Cancer Fighting Kitchen and One Bite at a Time, both of which I highly recommend to everyone (not just cancer patients!!)
About Lindsay Keach and Feed Health
Lindsay Keach is a holistic health counselor with a focus on holistic nutrition, food and lifestyle coaching. Her customized wellness programs and lively workshops make healthy, delicious, simple, home-prepared whole foods and supportive, positive lifestyle choices accessible to busy people seeking balanced wellness.
In her holistic health counseling practice, Feed Health, Lindsay works primarily with individual clients to empower them to make appropriate food choices for their unique bodies and lives. She shares her passion for natural foods selection and preparation along with coaching on food experiments, supported goal setting, and positive lifestyle changes to reinspire her clients in the kitchen, help them build healthy, honest relationships with food and their bodies, and find nourishment, inspiration and balance in all areas of their lives. Lindsay is also committed to providing holistic and nutritional support for a variety of gastrointestinal and autoimmune conditions and food sensitivities.