Midway through my morning jaunt through the foodie blogosphere, I stumbled upon an excellent description of the winter blahs on Clotilde Dusoulier's lovely blog "Chocolate and Zucchini"
. She was not, in fact, describing February, but rather explaining why she'd stopped making her own yogurt from scratch: "There was no tangible reason for this hiatus apart from my self-confessed flemme – a French word that is pronounced exactly like phlegm (sorry, but it is) and is a sentiment of laziness that washes over you when you can't be bothered to do something."
That's it exactly, I thought. It's drizzly and February, and it's not that I lack inspiration or passion, or that anything, really, is so difficult...I'm simply suffering from a good old case of "can't be bothered-itus." Everything in life just seems to be ever so slightly uphill in the rain (or snow) from where I'm standing. Anyone with me?
Now my mom always told me that you kill more bees with honey than vinegar, so I've decided that the best response to this "flemme" or "phlegm" or whatever you've got going this month is to kill it with kindness – smother it in sweetness, if you will. It is Valentine's Day weekend, after all, and a long one at that.
I'm not necessarily talking about eating more cookies, (though we'll get to those), but about about greeting yourself with love and honey (or one of my other favorite natural sweeteners) instead of with judgment or a crack of that internal whip. Oh okay, you can eat some cookies, too.
AND, though it may not feel like it at the moment, spring is right around the corner, folks. If you're feeling the indulgences of wintertime hibernation or extended holiday revelry in the fit of your favorite jeans, or feel like your energy levels & digestion could use a little tune-up, perhaps you'd like to join me in a little Spring Cleanse
next month. Not sure what I mean? If you live in SF, come on down to Dharmaspace Pilates on Thursday 'round lunchtime and I'll tell you all about it. Not in SF? No problem – shoot me an e-mail or call the office (415) 963-3566 and we'll talk.
As always, feel free to contact me anytime with any questions or comments. Have you tried any of the recipes or recommendations from past newsletters? Give me a shout, I'd love to hear from you! You can e-mail me any time at email@example.com. I'm committed to serving you, and I hope you enjoy FeedNews!
Board-Certified Holistic Health Counselor
It's Valentine's weekend, and whether you embraced the day with gusto or met it with ambivalence, it probably inspired you to take a moment to appreciate the people you care about, and to consider how you might make their lives just a little bit sweeter.
Conjuring sweetness and love for others is no big thing, right? We may not always express our feelings or show our appreciation as much as we ought to, but we can see the beauty in our friends and loved ones. We know that they are not perfect, and yet we are able to love them, flaws and greatness all mixed up together in one big human salad, somehow (relatively) effortlessly and without question.
The good news is that all that loving actually has tangible health benefits. A University of North Carolina study found that hugging lowers blood pressure, and according to a study reported in a 2007 issue of Human Communication Research [issue 33, pp. 119-142], just putting your affectionate feelings down on paper can lower your cholesterol levels. Love produces happiness hormones and reduces stress, and people who give and receive love (no matter the type) live longer and have fewer health problems overall.
So let's just assume everything's going smashingly with the relationships in your life (a big assumption, I know, just work with me here...). Heck, you can even assume things aren't going well at all in your other relationships. Either way, there's one BIG relationship that I'd wager needs a little more loving attention and kindness. Yep, your longest and most intimate relationship of all – you, yourself and you.
Why is it, I wonder, that we are so capable of gentleness, generosity, and forgiveness where others are concerned, but so gosh-darn hard on ourselves? Do you ever stop to really listen to the voice in your head? How kind is it? Would you speak to your mother, your partner, your best friend, or your child in that tone of voice?
To be able to fully love one another, we must first cultivate a relationship of loving kindness with ourselves.
That's why this month, today, this very minute I want to incite all of you to develop a hot crush on yourselves. Yeah, you heard me. Too often we associate self-love with selfishness, and I'm here to tell you that's a mistake. In reality, the more sweetness and love you can give to yourself, the more you'll have to give away, and the healthier and happier everyone will be.
So go ahead, pamper yourself. Give yourself a hug, some praise and affection. Give yourself a gold star! Ask yourself what your most perfect date would look like, and then treat yourself to it. Forgive yourself for something unforgivable. Let yourself off the hook.
Forget oatmeal, lower your cholesterol by writing a love letter to yourself! If you need to, pretend you're your mom,your husband or wife, your child, your best friend or your high-school stalker – or put yourself in each of those people's shoes. Be cheesy. Tell yourself every little thing that you appreciate about YOU. Tell yourself you've got a great ass.
Buy yourself a drink, or treat yourself to a yoga class or a hike in the hills. Bake yourself some healthy cookies, or take a delicious nap in the middle of the afternoon. Whatever you do, make it sweet. Nobody's perfect, after-all, but I can pretty much guarantee that you are highly lovable. And guess what? This is one relationship you're not getting out of anytime soon.
All of that seem a little overwhelming? Start small! Just think of one thing you appreciate about yourself, and commit to doing one totally unnecessary but outrageously kind thing for yourself this week.
Feel like you could use a little help? Call or e-mail to set you a free hour-long initial 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 for you. Not in the Bay Area? No problem. We have clients all over the world. Contact us for more information!
Food Focus: Natural Sweeteners
Alright, now that we've talked about cultivating sweetness in your life, let's talk about sharing some of that sweetness with your tongue!
Who among us doesn't’t love sweets? The sweet flavor of foods releases serotonin in our brains, the chemical responsible for our sense of well-being and contentment. But when it comes to sweeteners, not all are created equal. There are side effects and health risks from refined sweeteners like white table sugar and high fructose corn syrup, and from artificial sweeteners like NutraSweet, saccharin and Splenda. Because they have been stripped of vitamins, minerals and fiber, refined sweeteners can spike blood sugar, which can often lead to cravings and mood and energy fluctuations. Instead, using naturally and minimally processed sweeteners can reduce cravings for sugary things, level blood sugar ups and downs, stabilize moods and have a dramatically positive effect on long-term health.
So how can you tame the roller coaster ride of your blood-sugar levels while continuing to pamper your sweet tooth? Here are a few natural sweeteners to substitute in drinks, food and baking. Since most are sweeter than refined sugar, you can use less. You can find them in most supermarkets or natural food stores. When replacing sugar with liquid sweeteners in a recipe, reduce the amounts of other liquids.
We have a honey collection in my house – each type has a different texture, flavor and beautiful shade of amber. Many people think that honey is the best choice of sweetener because it is an ancient food, and is eaten in its whole and unadulterated form. Wherever possible, choose raw honey, as it is unrefined and contains small amounts of enzymes, minerals, and vitamins. Honey does have a relatively high glycemic index (58), so like all sweet treats, consume it in moderation & combine with fiber and protein to mediate its impact.
Agave is made through the extraction and purification of the juice of the agave cactus. It does not stimulate insulin secretion as other sugars do (it has a low glycemic index - 35-45), so it does not create a "sugar rush." Some brands are even safe for diabetics. Raw versions of Agave Nectar like Madhava have a reputation for being more pure and more gently processed than non-raw varieties. Agave has a delightfully light and mild flavor, is 25% sweeter than sugar, and can be used in everything from beverages to baking.
BROWN RICE SYRUP
Brown rice syrup is made from rice that has been soaked, sprouted and cooked with a cereal enzyme that breaks the starches into maltose. The maltose and complex carbohydrates components of this kind of syrup takes a longer time to digest thus maintaining the energy flow for longer period. It has a mild butterscotch flavor, and is slightly less sweet than sugar. Try using brown rice syrup in place of marshmallows in your next batch of rice crispy treats!
Maple syrup is the concentrated extract of the sap of maple trees. It adds a rich, deep flavor to foods and drinks, and has fewer calories and a higher concentration of minerals that honey. Make sure to look for 100% pure maple syrup, not maple-flavored corn syrup. As with all sweeteners, organic varieties are best. Grade B Maple syrup is richer in immune and heart supporting minerals (manganese and zinc) than Grade A.
As you'll see in the following recipe, you can often capitalize on the natural sweetness and moist texture of certain fruits in your favorite recipes. Try substituting mashed banana, applesauce or pumpkin in your cookies or muffins (be sure to adjust liquids accordingly). Dates and figs are incredibly sweet, and can be used as a sweetener in smoothies and even combined with nuts to make a simple tart crust. Alternately, you can puree dates into a paste with warm water and substitute them for sugar in other recipes. My favorite chocolate sauce is made by blending raw cacao (or cocoa) with dates, vanilla, a dash of salt and enough warm water to bind it all together. Yum!
This leafy herb has been used for centuries by native South Americans. The extract from stevia is 100 to 300 times sweeter than white sugar. It can be used in cooking, baking and beverages, does not affect blood sugar levels and has zero calories. Stevia is available in a powder or liquid form. I love stevia to sweeten tea and coffee, and often make my own lemonade by combining fresh lemon juice with water and 5-7 drops of stevia.
Yacon is a very low glycemic natural sweetener (GI value around 1) made from the Peruvian root of the same name. It tastes like molasses and contains a sugar called an oligofructose (fructoligosaccharide), which isn't absorbed by the body like fructose or glucose & hence has very few calories and doesn't raise blood sugar levels. It also has pre-biotic qualities (good for the gut and intestines). Yacon Syrup is relatively new, and will probably be the most challenging to find (and most expensive) of the above sweeteners.
Recipe: Good For You Cookies
3 ripe bananas, well mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup unrefined coconut oil, warm enough that it isn't solid (or use olive oil)
2 cups rolled oats
2/3 cup almond meal
1/3 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (I like 60-70%)
1/4 cup raisins (optional)
handful of chopped walnuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, racks in the top third.
In a large bowl combine the bananas, vanilla extract, and coconut oil. Sometimes I freeze bananas that are getting too ripe to use on just such an occasion (peeling them and breaking them up into manageable chunks helps), so if you've done this you can defrost them in a small pan with the coconut oil and vanilla and stir to mash while they're warming. You might also heat your bananas slightly if they aren't as ripe as you'd like them to be – heating will soften them and bring out their natural sweetness. Set banana mixture aside.
In another bowl stir together the oats, almond meal*, shredded coconut, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder. (*Almond meal is just a fancy name for ground up almonds. you can buy it from natural food store from a brand like Bob's Red Mill, or you can pulse raw almonds in a food processor until they form small crumbs but just before they start to stick and head toward almond butter).
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined. Fold in the chocolate chunks or chips.
Drop dollops of the dough, each about 2 teaspoons in size, an inch apart, onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake for 12 - 15 minutes depending on your oven. They should get slightly brown on the bottom, but should be removed right before burning.
These flexible little cookies, inspired by a recipe from Heidi Swanson's site FastMail.FM WARNING: URL text and host don't match, possible phishing attempt. URL disabled. Original URL='"http://feedhealth.cmail1.com/t/y/l/ddukjj/l/i"'. Original text='101cookbooks.com'. For more information on phishing click here., might not taste as sweet as you're accustomed to on first bite, but I guarantee you'll fall in love with them. Feel free to experiment with different nuts, or with using applesauce (or even pumpkin!) instead of bananas. You can add a touch of maple, agave nectar or honey if they aren't sweet enough for you, but try them unadulterated first. You can also feel free to play with the mix-ins – dried (or fresh!) apple and crystalized ginger would be great in an applesauce version, and a touch of molasses, walnuts and raisins would be great with pumpkin.
With fruit, wonderful fiber-filled whole grains, protein and good fats, these are more of a power snack than a typical treat. Feel free to munch at will – they make a great afternoon snack. (I've even been known to have one for breakfast - Shhhh.)
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.