I wanted to wait until the second week in January to send this month's newsletter for a couple of reasons. First of all, I just couldn't stomach the thought of invading your inbox with ONE MORE "Insert New Year's Resolution Cliché Here" subject line. Blech. Not that I don't want this to be your happiest, healthiest, most superfantasticallywonderful year ever, but...at the end of the day, what I want FOR you doesn't make a whole hoot of a difference. What matters is what YOU want for you.
And, as a few of you might be noticing right about now, even if you started 2009 with the best of intentions to "get back on track" or "shape up", those intentions are challenged every day by tempting foods and drinks, long work days, bustling social schedules, short days and unpredictable weather. Heck, maybe "Make some New Year's Resolutions" is still on your To Do list!
I attended an incredible Food As Medicine training this past weekend, and spent a-lot of the time that I wasn't drinking in gallons of valuable information, groundbreaking scientific studies and inspiring food and people, wondering why the heck it's so hard to make healthy habits stick (and what I could do about it.) Check out this month's article to read more about what I learned, and how it applies to you.
More interested in what's for lunch? Learn all about the tastiest, healthiest, cheapest winter protein around in this months Food Focus, and get inspired in the kitchen with a hearty stew that you can eat all week.
Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments. I'd love your feedback! What do you like (or would you like to change) about FeedNews? You can e-mail me any time at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm committed to serving you, and I hope you enjoy FeedNews!
Board-Certified Holistic Health Counselor
My brain is saturated with amazing information from this weekend's Food As Medicine training, but what struck me most as I sat down to review my notes was how SIMPLE and CONSISTENT the recommendations were. Really. Shockingly. Simple.
From Nutritionists to Neuroscientists, Pharmacologists to MD's and Psychiatrists, everyone pretty much agrees that:
1. What you eat can (literally) change your life.
2. Food and lifestyle changes are the most effective way to treat most common diseases AND are far safer than their pharmacological alternatives.
I will add one more to the list, from my practice and experience:
3. It's not the knowing that's challenging, it's the DOING.
In a nutshell, Michael Pollan summed it up pretty accurately in the Omnivore's Dilemma when he said: "EAT (real) food, not too much, mostly plants." The experts agree that we should also MOVE our bodies regularly, CARE about something or someone(s) in our lives, SLEEP soundly (and enough), DO NOTHING every now and again so that we don't zip through life in a cortisol-pumping stressed-out haze, and be MINDFUL.
I can send you double-blind placebo-controlled peer-reviewed studies, slides and notes and quotes, and get specific about ORAC values, gene expression, therapeutic diets and deficiencies, but at the end of the day, for most of us, the problem isn't knowing what we're supposed to be doing – the problem is DOING IT.
I think a-lot of the time we try to make the answer more complicated than it needs to be because it is just plain difficult to consistently implement healthy eating and living habits into our daily lives. If we convince ourselves that we don't really know what we should be doing, it's easier to let ourselves off the hook for not doing it!
So in contemplating this conundrum, I thought I would give you my top 5 recommendations for making changes and sticking with them.
1. Find Meaning. In this case, the WHY is really important! Figure out what motivates you. Why do you want to be healthier? For your kids? So that you can look in the mirror and feel good about yourself? Or sit on a long plane ride without pain? Or play full-court basketball when you're 65? Whatever your answer, write it down on a little card and keep it in your wallet to refer to when motivation wanes and temptation talks.
2. Start Small. No, seriously. One of the biggest challenges I see in my practice is that people want to change everything all at once. This is great for a week, maybe two, but sooner or later you "fall off the wagon". Pick one thing to change. Just one. Do it consistently for 2 weeks. You'll feel the positive results from this change, and they will feed your hunger for more healthy habits.
3. Joy, not Fear. It's not rocket science. If you don't enjoy your life, you're not going to be very healthy, and people don't stick with habits that they resent. The question shouldn't be is this fun OR good for me, it should be is this fun AND good for me! Learn to make food that you love that also makes you feel great (yes, it is possible). Find ways to move that bring you joy – dancing with friends and walking in the sunshine are totally valid!
4. Get Support. I really can't emphasize this one enough. Making change is hard. Our society is set up to encourage unhealthy habits, food, and lifestyles. Until we're able to change the defaults so that when we walk into a grocery or convenience store we're greeted with real food instead of processed food-like substances, we need all the help we can get. If you want to make changes, get your friends, family and co-workers on your team. Make exercise dates or find a buddy to keep you accountable. Find a nutritional counselor or take a healthy cooking class!
5. Change Your Default. The facts are in – we don't just "naturally" gravitate toward kale and brown rice, or hop out of bed at 6am for a morning jog. If you put a rat on top of a pile of food, half healthy and the other half junk, they'll eat the junk every time. We can't change our outside environment (at least not immediately), but we CAN exert a bit of control over our inside environment. Stock your pantry and fridge with healthy foods (and toss out the junk) and you'll be much more likely to eat them. Bring your lunch (leftovers are great!) and fun, healthy snacks and you'll avoid "getting stuck" with unhealthy options. Nobody's perfect, but if you make your personal "default" a little bit healthier, when you treat yourself to something naughty, at least it will be because you CHOOSE to do so.
If you would like more support making your healthy habits stick (and keeping them inspired and fun!), I invite you to 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. Contact us for more information!
My grandfather was the "Beano" master, often gleefully serenading us grandkids with the little rhyme "Beans, beans the magical fruit, the more you eat the more you toot. The more you toot, the better you feel, so have some beans with every meal!"
Though beans can be tricky for some people to digest (children under 18 months shouldn't eat them because they have not developed the gastric enzymes to digest them properly), there are certainly ways to reduce this effect.
Chewing is one of the most important techniques, since one of the key enzymes needed to break down beans (and other carbohydrates) is found (only) in saliva. Adding digestive enzymes like "beano" can also aid in the digestive process, as can certain cooking methods (see Preparation, below).
WHY EAT 'EM?
Aside from their renowned musical qualities, beans, sometimes called "the poor man's meat", are packed with protein & complex carbohydrates, high in fiber, low in calories, and they contain appreciable amounts of calcium, iron and other nutrients. They are the perfect recession food: cheap and easy to prepare (from scratch, or straight from the can!). Welcoming of many different spices and flavors, beans are a delicious, hearty addition to any meal.
For centuries cultures have combined beans and other legumes with whole grains in their traditional daily fare, and while the two do couple to form a complete protein, they do not have to be combined within the same meal for you to get the benefit of their complementary amino acids. Science aside, though, grain and bean combinations are satisfying and delicious, so why the heck not?
• There is not one single method of cooking beans, but a basic technique is to cover beans with 2-3 inches of cool water, bring them to a boil for 5 minutes & then cover and reduce to a simmer until soft.
• Pre-soaking with a squeeze of lemon can speed up the cooking process and improve digestibility
• If you haven't soaked, don't freak out. Go ahead and cook your beans, just know they'll take a bit longer. To "quick soak" beans, add beans to cold water and bring to a boil for 3 minutes, then let sit for an hour before cooking.
• Adding vegetables or cooking in stock will make beans more flavorful. A classic mirepoix is a mix of onion, celery and carrot diced fine and sautéed in some kind of fat, often olive oil. A crushed clove of garlic is always nice.
• Adding kombu or kelp seaweed to the legumes helps improve flavor and digestion, adds minerals and nutrients, and speeds up the cooking process. A postage stamp sized piece will do – you can remove it after cooking. Adding fennel or cumin near the end of cooking can also prevent gas
• Try pouring a little apple cider, brown rice or white wine vinegar into the water in the last stages of cooking. This softens the beans and breaks down protein chains and indigestible compounds.
• Not in a cooking mood? Use canned beans! Just rinse them in several changes of fresh water to reduce gassiness since some of the hard to digest carbohydrates pool in the canning water. Eden Organics brand beans have the added benefit of being cooked with kombu.
• If you make a pot of beans on Sunday, you can use them throughout the week in salads, burritos, soups, dips and more!
Recipe: No-Soak White Bean Stew
2 T Olive Oil
8 oz brown or white mushrooms
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 yellow onion, peeled, halved, sliced
2-3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 T fresh or 1.5 tsp. dried rosemary
4 cups low sodium vegetable stock
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
2 cups of kale or other greens, cleaned and roughly chopped
1 cup dried cannelloni or great northern beans
Fresh parsley or gremolata* to garnish
Preheat oven to 250° F. Heat oil in heavy oven proof pan (cast iron or le creuset style with lid is best – alternately, make stew on stovetop in deep skillet or wok and transfer to lidded casserole dish to finish in oven). Cook mushrooms over medium heat for about 1 minute. Sprinkle with salt (this will help to release liquid) and cook for 3-5 minutes more, until soft and slightly browned. Toss in the onion, garlic and rosemary and cook for 3 minutes more, until onions are soft and fragrant. Add broth, olives and kale– cook until kale is wilted - about 1 minute. Turn off heat and push vegetables aside. Add beans and cover with broth and veggies (beans should be totally covered). Cover casserole dish and place in middle rack of oven. Cook for 1.5 to 3 hours until beans are tender. Serve garnished with parsley (*or make a gremolata by finely chopping parsley, fresh garlic and a few slivers or lemon rind together) and slow roasted tomatoes and drizzle with balsamic syrup.
To slow roast tomatoes: Quarter roma tomatoes and toss with olive oil and sea salt to coat. Spread on parchment paper lined baking sheet and cook on top rack of oven at 250 while cooking stew. They'll take about the same amount of time, and will shrivel and "cave-in" when they're finished.
To make balsamic syrup: Simmer balsamic vinegar over low heat until reduced by half. Let cool.
This recipe is inspired by one from the gorgeous book The New Vegan Cookbook, by Lorna Sass. She uses leeks and escarole in her recipe, but I found this version to be just as delicious, and easier to make with ingredients I keep "in stock". It is hearty and satisfying, and reheats well. I like it best with the addition of tomatoes and balsamic, which add a bright sweetness and acidity to the dish.
This is a great dish to make on Sunday. You can curl up with the paper or a good book while it's cooking, and feast on your "labors" all week long.
I like to serve it the first day with nice crusty bread, and "make it fancy" on day two (or three) by ladling a scoop onto a plate and topping with a pan-sauteed wild filet of salmon (frozen is fine). It will take 15 minutes total and when you top it with a drizzle of balsamic syrup and gremolata your family will think you're a gourmet chef!
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.