Drugs, Knives, Love and Yoga

A Story: The Yogi Master who did drugs.

yoga

I was listening to a health conference on the internet over a year ago when I learned an important lesson as a dietitian/human.

The presenters in the conference had been invited to speak because they accomplished some huge feat in supporting wellness in the world with their profession.

This particular speaker was a sought after yogi master. I was surprised by what she had to say…

I was into drugs for a lot of my life as a young adult. I knew it was wrong, but I couldn’t stop using. I did all these things to try to quit – like going to drug rehab, hiring professional hypnotherapists, and getting accountability partners. But it didn’t really help. Because at the end of the day, I was trying so hard to CUT this part of myself away. I wanted to deny myself and be someone different. I wanted to love 70% of myself and hate the other 30%.

The more I tried to hate that part of myself, the less I succeeded.

At my turning point, I realized I am a whole person. Trying to CUT parts of myself away hurts and I can’t do it. I stopped trying to CUT and decided to LOVE that particular part of me. Once I achieved this, I realized I could start to allow it to be EXPRESSED differently.

I’ll explain. The part of me that liked doing drugs was an extremist. I am very passionate; and when I do something, I go all the way. Once I recognized this, I was able to find a new outlet for that part of myself and started nurturing it instead of trying to deny it. I went from being an extreme drug user to an extreme yogi, and I love that part of myself now because it’s presenting in a way that’s healthier for me.

It’s still there. I haven’t changed. I’m all in or nothing – but I can appreciate that part of me now.

Try as hard as you can, you can’t cut out core aspects of your personality. You can’t stop being you. People who think they can be someone else are lying to themselves. They’re hiding or ignoring parts of themselves that they think are unlovable. But, you shouldn’t feel like that.

You can love yourself despite your difficult traits. You can love other people despite their difficulties and weaknesses.

Don’t cut.

Flip it and learn to use those traits in different ways. That’s what I hope to teach the world.”

This is something I see over and over again in our culture.

  • This part of you is acceptable. This part of you is not.
  • This part of you is good. Talk about it.
  • This part of you is bad. Hide it.
  • I would love him/her if he/she didn’t…
  • You really need to stop being this way…
  • Stop overreacting.
  • Why don’t you care more?

We’re different. We all cope differently and experience life in different ways.

Yesterday, I made a cheeky comment about people who are grumpy in the morning, but it wasn’t right. The fact that I am a morning person and some people are not does not make it okay for me to shame them or make them feel bad about it. (I do still think you should be eating breakfast… and I think it warrants some introspective thought as to the reason you’re not a morning person. But a non-morning person is not a bad thing).

My patients really struggle with loving their body because it’s not the way they want it to look. But I tell you, it does not work to hate your body. You have to stop punishing yourself and start appreciating yourself – flaws and all. Start trying to understand WHY your personality is presenting in this way and see if you can find another way.

It’s hard to do, but it’s the hard that makes it great.

I’m not a bundle of joy to be around all the time. I try hard to work on my attitude and my coping mechanisms so that I am joyful more often than not. But I fail. And if someone could love me (or if I could love myself) – despite my weaknesses, despite my flaws, despite my differences – then I would be one lucky girl.

My suggestion is to work on accepting yourself as you are RIGHT NOW. If you’re not where you want to be, then work on the presentation of these difficult traits rather than trying to cut yourself in order to fit in or be feel completely loved/accepted.

Who could you be helping to love themselves today?

Breakfast Frittata and Grumpy Morning People

Some of us are morning people.

And some of us wake up ready to crush the happy morning people.

sunrise dreamcatcherI’m lucky to be in the first category.

It really is a hard thing for a morning person to understand why everyone else would not want to be awake at the best hours of the day. It’s simple. I sleep for 7-9 hours and I wake up feeling re-energized and ready to get moving.

One of the first things I feel like to do in the morning is to eat a yummy breakfast. Some of you think that cereal and milk does the job. I say you can do better.

Unfortunate People with Unfortunate Lives. The non-morning people…

I have some patients that say they “just aren’t hungry in the morning,” and that’s why they “can’t eat breakfast.” I have a very simple solution for that problem. If you aren’t hungry for breakfast – try eating every other day. I guarantee after 24 hours of fasting, you’ll be feeling pretty excited for that breakfast coming your way at 5am. The problem is… they always think I’m joking when I say this.

Not joking.

Some people cannot fathom going to bed hungry though. They say something like, “If I’m hungry, then I can’t sleep. I’ll go get something to eat or a warm glass of milk to drink to help.”

This comes from being an infant and needing comfort in order to sleep. You want to be breastfed by your mother, I get it. But you’re not a baby anymore.

Maybe we can learn self soothing.

Today I had a patient tell me that he’s recently hired a sleep specialist to help him put his 11month old baby on a regular sleeping pattern. People actually get paid for this…

You know what this sleep consultant does? They tell the parents to leave the baby for different intervals when the baby is crying at night. The baby wants to be held, but they’re trying to un-train this. So the baby cries… and cries… and cries.

The parents are told to go in at intervals. The first time the baby cries – they wait 5 minutes before going in. The second time 15 minutes. Each time it gets longer and longer. The idea is that the baby should find ANOTHER WAY TO BE COMFORTED.

After listening to him describe the process, I decided I want to be a sleep consultant for adults who think they should eat all kinds of crap before they go to bed and nothing when they wake up. Maybe they’ll pay me the big bucks for this kind of thing.

200 dollar advice: If you’re using food to help you sleep at night then maybe you should stop using it, cry about it, and figure out a different solution.

Could life be this simple?

^^Things to consider.

For all of you that successfully navigate this problem in life and feel ready to wake up smiling and eager to have breakfast… try this recipe out. It’s a winner.

Recipe: Spinach Tomato Breakfast Frittata

Serves 4.

Spinach FrittataIngredients:

  • 8 Cups raw spinach
  • 1Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 5-6 eggs
  • 1/2 C Milk
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 C parmigiano reggiano
  • 1 C chopped cherry tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp fresh basil chopped

Directions:

  1. Saute spinach and olive oil in a large skillet until just wilted.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, and salt.
  3. Add the egg mixture to the skillet. Top with cheese and tomatoes and let cook until bottom is cooked and top is slightly runny (see picture below)
  4. Turn on broiling element for oven and place under broiler for 5-7 minutes or until top of frittata is set and cheese is starting to brown.
  5. Serve with some type of carbohydrate side and enjoy!

Breakfast FrittataA Note to the Diabetics: This is a non-carbohydrate, high protein entree for breakfast. You can make this ahead and reheat it for the mornings when you wake up grumpy and tired. The nice thing about a frittata is that it only takes about 30 minutes from start to finish. That’s about half as much time as a quiche would take. I served this with a couple of small oranges (15g carbohydrate each) and 1/2 glass of milk (12g carbohydrate per 8 ounces).

A Healthy Snack: Flourless Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

“Everyone should eat 6 small meals per day…” NOT!

Typically, I urge my patients to eliminate snacks from their day and stick to the three meal structure. Here are my reasons:

  1. Unconscious Eating. Snackers almost ALWAYS eat more for their snacks than they realize.
  2. Unable to Achieve “Small Meals.” Snackers have a hard time scaling back meals to accommodate the large amount of snacking they did earlier.
  3. Junk Food Central. Snacks are low in nutrient density. (In shorter words, typical snacks are usually junk.)
  4. Hard to Stop Eating. Snack companies can only make more money if they convince you to eat more snacks. Therefore, they work very hard to create an addict/junkie relationship. Snack food is MEANT to keep you coming back for more.
  5. Encouraging Hunger. Snacks made of mostly carbohydrates can actually cause you to be hungrier and overeat later in the day.
  6. Never Fasting. Just like it’s important to have time WITH your food. It’s also important to have time AWAY from your food.

But, trust me. I get it. Sometimes you’re hungry and you just need something to eat to “take the edge off” until your next mealtime. Or maybe you’re not a person that needs to worry about losing weight. Maybe you have snacks in case you get stuck in a place where there is no “acceptable food” to eat.

For these situations, let me recommend the following strategies:

  1. Remove a Portion. When trying to snack responsibly, it’s important to separate your portion from the box/container straight away. No one does well monitoring intake from an endless bowl of cheese crisps.
  2. Daily Limits Help. If you like to snack often, try to limit yourself to a daily limit. This way you can eat as often as you like. But, when your snack is gone… it’s gone. Rationing is key.
  3. Keep Your Snacks Simple. The less processing the less likely you are to become addicted. Snack on foods that were available 100 years ago.
  4. 200 Calories or Less. Unless you’re a person that works out on a regular basis, you probably should try to keep your snacking to a reasonable calories amount. One bag of popcorn for 500 calories does NOT qualify as a “snack.”

So, with those rules in mind… here is your new amazing snack.

Recipe: Flourless “Oatmeal” Raisin Cookies

Healthy Snack for Diabetics

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 C Walnut Halves, Roasted or Raw
  • 2 Tbsp Raisin (mixed variety for color)
  • 1/8 tsp Kosher Salt

Directions:

  1. Place ingredients in paper bag for daytime snack.
  2. Leave the house.
  3. Ration accordingly throughout the day. I recommend a ratio of 1 walnut to 3 raisins. Salt will stick to raisins to make it taste like a cookie.

A Note to the Diabetics: This snack would be considered 15g of carbohydrates because of the raisins. However, I usually only eat 3 raisins at a time – spacing it out over several hours of the day. This ends up being pennies over the span of the day. No big impact to your blood sugar and much better for you than reaching for a real cookie.

Roasted Mediterranean Eggplant

I did not think I loved eggplant until a few days ago. Now, I am sure of it.

Eggplant Salad

One of the perks with moving from one part of the country to an entirely different part is getting to talk to people about their food. It can be sooooo different from the food I became accustomed to in Missouri.

People in Philly are very attached to their food.

Sometimes they swear it’s going to be “a life changing experience,” but it’s just like every other soft pretzel or fruit flavored shaved ice you’ve had before.

A few days ago, a patient was in my office telling me about this eggplant dish she makes for her family. The way she spoke about it made me want to love it – but I was wary that it might be a little underwhelming like all the other times I’ve eaten eggplant before.

It was not underwhelming. It was great – and I’m not the only one that thinks so. As I was taking the eggplant out of the oven to fix, two of my friend from Crossfit were sitting across from me. We had our doubts, but after we all tried it… it was three sets of two thumbs up.

This is one of those really great discoveries.

Thank you to the woman who was so “patient” while she described this recipe to me. Hopefully, this is close to what you were explaining. Either way, it’s delicious.

Recipe: Roasted Mediterranean Eggplant

FullSizeRender

Ingredients:

  • Eggplant, large whole
  • 3 T Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 C chopped fresh Parsley
  • 1/4 C chopped fresh Mint
  • 1/2 Red Bell Pepper, roasted
  • 3 T Red Wine Vinegar

Directions:

  1. Remove the top/stem from eggplant with a paring knife. Place eggplant on a baking sheet and dry roast for 40-50 minutes at 350 degrees F. Eggplant should be squishy, but not wrinkled.
  2. While eggplant is roasting, cut red bell pepper into big piece and roast over fire from gas oven burner until outside skin is blackened slightly. Chop small and set aside.
  3. Chop all other ingredients. Chop Eggplant into bite size pieces while still warm and add other ingredients. Mix well.
  4. Eggplant Salad can be served immediately as a warm side, or can be served later as a cold topping for bread or sandwiches.

A Note to the Diabetics: Eggplant is considered a non carbohydrate vegetable. I paired this eggplant salad with Mediterranean Turkey Burgers (non carb), 1 small apple (15g carb), and 1 C succotash (30g carb).

Back to School: How to Eat Vegan with Julie

This past weekend, I was SO LUCKY to have my friend, Julie, visit from Chicago.

photo 1 (10)

I think the most exciting part about hosting is cooking meals for my visitors. However, this time my visitor, Julie, was vegan and I found myself in uncharted waters.

I looked to my fridge in preparation for her arrival. I realized rather quickly that I would need to do a little shopping; and perhaps I would need to defer to her expertise on cooking meals.

Luckily, she was happy to teach.

Presenting… Vegan Cooking with Julie

Here’s a few staples you’ll want to have on hand if you ever have a vegan visitor: Veganaise, Earth Balance (vegan butter), firm tofu, nutritional yeast, vegan cheese, soy or almond milk, vegan sausages, sweet potatoes, granola, and plenty of vegetables/fruit.

There are so many people that consider “vegan diets” to be healthier. I haven’t experienced this to be true. I think there are a lot of different diets that lead to health and this is one possible option. It is definitely not the easiest option as the window of opportunity for eating food away from home gets much narrower- especially if you’re not living in a major US city. No one wants to be stuck eating French fries because there is nothing else “vegan” on the menu.

Also to note… It would be very difficult to follow a diabetic diet while vegan. CARBS are EVERYWHERE! Please check and double check your labels if you are a person with diabetes wanting to follow a vegan lifestyle.

For instance, check out this “cheese”

photo (8)

You see what happens up there? We went from a food that was no carb, half protein and half fat – to a food with no protein, half carbohydrate and half fat.

Am I the only one that finds this interesting? Yes. Okay. Moving on..

Julie and I made dinner on Friday night and it was excellent. Julie’s contribution to the menu was a Sweet Potato and Bean Burrito. I made a Strawberry and Kale Salad.

Kale. It's what's for dinner.

Our carbohydrate consumption was saved by the fact that we found some really high fiber tortillas (Mission Carb Balance – try them!). Still… our meal was probably 60grams of carbohydrate after subtracting fiber (34g fiber for one burrito).

Recipe: Vegan Sweet Potato and Bean Burritos

Vegan Diabetic Food

Ingredients:

  • 6 Carb Balance Wheat Tortillas – 10 inches
  • 1 Onion, Chopped
  • 1 Zucchini, small dice
  • 1 1/2 C Mushrooms, diced
  • 1 Can Black Beans, half drained
  • 1 1/2 Large Sweet Potatoes, cubed, boiled, and mashed
  • 2 Tbsp Cumin
  • 1/8 tsp Cayenne Pepper (or a very light dusting if preferring more mild burrito contents)
  • Olive Oil, as needed
  • 1 C Cherry Tomatoes, chopped
  • Vegan Cheese, as desired

Directions:

  1. In a large skillet – combine onion with 1 Tbsp Oil and sauté. Add black beans and seasoning (cumin and cayenne) and let simmer for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  2. In a separate smaller skillet – combine zucchini and mushrooms with 1 tsp olive oil. Sauté over very low heat. Remove when cooked, but still al dente.
  3. In a sauce pan, boil water and add chopped sweet potatoes. Boil until soft and then drain water. Mash with electric mixer or masher.
  4. Prepare burritos – approximately 1/2-1 C Sweet Potato, 1/2 C Black Bean Mixture, 1/4 C Vegetables, sprinkle of tomatoes and cheese. Wrap tightly and fit into a Pyrex or metal dish.
  5. Bake burritos in oven (400 degrees F) for 10 minutes to “set the burrito.”

Enjoy!

A Note to the Diabetics: This is a meal with several high fiber ingredients. You may want to subtract the fiber and count it as ~52g instead of 86g. It would probably be a good idea to test before and 2 hours after a meal like this. If your blood glucose doesn’t jump more than 40 points, then you’re probably good to go. If not, try to scale down your portion for the next time.

Breakfast: Fresh Guacamole with Toasted Cumin

Your Introduction to the Ancient Spice, Cumin.

  • What is Cumin? It’s possible some of you are unfamiliar with “cumin” as a spice; but you’d probably recognize it. Cumin is the major seasoning in taco spice!
  • What is an Ancient Spice? I call cumin an ancient spice because it’s been passed down from generation to generation for hundreds of years. Several ancient spices like cumin, turmeric, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme, garlic, and cayenne have medicinal and health benefits – some known, and some undiscovered. This is part of the reason they were passed down.

Cumin is generally sold as “cumin seed” or as “ground cumin.” I would recommend you try buying the seed. Don’t make the mistake I did and think you should put it in whole. Cumin seed is meant to be toasted and then it’s meant to be ground.

I remember the first time I learned seeds could and should be toasted for the full flavor. I was at a conference in Napa Valley put on by the Harvard School of Public Health and the Culinary Institute of America. A chef at the front of the room was toasting cumin and I could smell it from my seat 100 feet away. It was memorable. I went home and looked at the cumin seed in my spice cabinet with a new interest.

How to Toast Cumin…

These seeds are great. Buy them whole, toast them in a dry skillet over medium heat. When they start to put off a really wonderful cumin smell, take them off the heat and grind them up in a spice grinder. Tada! Fresh Toasted Cumin – soooo much more flavorful than buying the cumin the jar that’s already been ground.

The cumin will be great for the guacamole breakfast you’ll be eating in few seconds/hours/days/months. (Come on! You gotta’ try it!)

Here’s the delicious breakfast I sat down to eat this morning:

Guacamole Breakfast

Pictured Above: Baby Swiss Chard and Spinach with sliced Strawberries, Green Onions, Drizzled Olive Oil and Raspberry Blush Vinegar. 2 Scrambled Eggs with 1 Tbsp Mexican Cheese Blend, 1/4 C Fresh Guacamole, 1 Large Apple (30g carb), 1 C 1% Milk (12g carb). Nutrition Information: 46g carbohydrate, 578 calories.

The first time I made guacamole for Peter (my roommate), he refused to call it guacamole. He called it “avocado salad” because he claims it has too many tomatoes and other things to be “real guacamole.”

However, this morning he walks into the kitchen and asks, “What are you making? Guacamole?”

And I said, “Ah HA! You DO acknowledge this is guacamole!”

He just shook his head, smiled at me, and left for work.

Recipe: Fresh Guacamole with Toasted Cumin

Fresh Guacamole

Ingredients:

  • 1 soft avocado, cubed
  • 1/2 C cherry tomatoes, cut
  • 1/4 C chopped red onion
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp fresh ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Juice of 1 Lime (~2 Tbsp)

Directions:

  1. Cut Avocado in half and twist it apart. Lodge knife into the pit and remove. Score (crosswise cutting) the avocado in the skin and scoop into a bowl with a spoon.
  2. Add the chopped tomatoes, cilantro, cumin, red onion, lime juice, and salt.
  3. Mix with spoon until ingredients well integrated.
  4. Serve immediately. If wanting to save guacamole leftovers for later, place into a zip lock bag with zero air and seal. This will keep it from going brown.

A Note to the Diabetics: Guacamole is considered a vegetable and a healthy fat. This is not a food that will impact your blood glucose. Chips (8-10 tortilla chips = 15g carb) are commonly served with traditional guacamole. I would argue that guacamole is not dependent on a chip to get from the bowl to your mouth successfully. Try them with scrambled eggs. You might like it. :)

Green Bean and Heirloom Tomato Salad

It appears as though it’s that time of year… GREEN BEAN SEASON!

Unfortunately, most people only know how to make green beans one way. But, you won’t be “most people” after this post. You’ll be the “other people.” The other people who look at a green bean and see multiple opportunities for enjoyment. I’m sure that excites you as much as it does me.

Even if you’re not excited. You should pretend. I think the more hyped we get about green beans the better this dish will taste. Not that it needs any help…

I LOVE IT.

Recipe: Green Bean and Heirloom Tomato Salad

Green Bean Salad

 Ingredients:

  • 1-2 C Fresh Green Beans, snapped
  • 1-2 medium Heirloom Tomatoes, large chop
  • 4-5 pieces of Shaved Parmesan
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Recommended Dressing: Toss with 1 tsp Olive Oil  + then add 2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar

Directions:

  1. Snap stems off of green beans and wash.
  2. Cut into 1cm pieces on an angle.
  3. Place green bean pieces in microwavable bowl.
  4. Add 1 Tbsp Water and microwave on high for 1 minute.
  5. Remove from microwave and drain excess water.
  6. Add sliced heirloom tomato and toss with dressing.
  7. Sprinkle with shaved parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.

A Note to the Diabetics: This is a non-carb side. Several times, I get complaints that people don’t have time to cook anything for dinner. This side dish takes only 4-5 minutes to complete from start to finish. I ate this as a side dish with baked herb chicken, 1 C watermelon (15g carb) and a slice of banana bread (30g carb).