Monday, December 30, 2013

Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals!

Psst, did you enter The Calorie Myth book giveaway yet?  Click here to learn more about the book that is released today

With 2014 beginning, so too begin many New Year's resolutions and goals.  What are yours?  Are they "SMART"?

As a refresher, S.M.A.R.T. goals are...
  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Timed

Whatever the topic of your goal, making sure it's "SMART" will help you make it a reality.  Learn more in my original "Set Smart Goals" post.

What are your goals for 2014?  

Other Dare You To tips for your resolutions:

Personally, I'm looking at a few focuses for the new year.  I admit they don't quite fit the paradigm above, but I'll work out details soon. For now, I've got some big-picture ideas to work on.

Thanks to new opportunities, the time from January - May will likely be an exciting but stressful time for me. For this reason, I'm aiming to intentionally not place additional stress my mind or body while I'm stressed enough as it is. With that in mind, my coming focuses are:

  • Mind: Time management
    • Mono-task. Practice being more focused.  
    • Stop wasting time online (this app is helpful)
    • Prioritize priorities (and noting 2-to-3 top priorities, not ten) 
  • Body: Posture improvement
  • Spirit:  Practice gratitude and journal
    • Continue writing down Three Good Things
    • Use the one-sentence journal that was gifted to me last year by my friend Becky (image, right) -- (I used for a month or two before waning off. This time, I'll stick with it!) 
    • Let this help with my other two goals, so I can learn from errors and improve throughout the year. 

Any tips for me on these aims?  Great apps or tools you recommend?

What are your goals for 2014?
Any good dares?

Happy New Year!!! 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Free Yourself of The Calorie Myth {Book Review + GIVEAWAY}

Hope those of you that celebrate had a lovely joy-filled holiday!  Now, we're just six days away from the new year, and just FIVE days away from the release of a new book that can help you achieve your health goals for the new year.

I've said before that I'm a fan of the work of Jonathan Bailor and listen to his podcast frequently.  When I heard he was publishing a book that would contain all his well-phrased findings in one package, I was eager to learn more and share it with all of you.  I contacted Jonathan with an offer to review his new book, and was so excited when he agreed to send over an advance copy!  Now I can tell you all about it, just in time for you to pre-order before it is released on December 31.

His new book is a complete guide to all the science he has uncovered independently, seeking to find the most proven path to health and fitness.  Now, I dare you to free yourself of the calorie myths by reading Jonathan Bailor's new book:
 The Calorie Myth: How to Eat More,
Exercise Less, Lose Weight, and Live Better.

"About almost any subject, there are the facts 'everyone knows'
and then there are the real ones." 
- Ernest G. Ross, quoted by Bailor, Ch. 21


The Calorie Myth is the myth--or the set of myths--that have been propogated by popular media, medical professionals, and government recommendations, claiming that the most (or only) important factor in your health and weight management is counting calories.  The myth holds that if you eat the right amount of calories and burn the right amount of calories, you can achieve your dream body and attain health.  This has resulted in obsessive calorie-counting, severe food restriction, and even unhealthy starvation.

Jonathan Bailor is here to free us of this myth and give us our lives back.  If calorie-counting is the answer to achieving health, then why have we gotten fatter and sicker ever since the calorie has become so widely understood?  What has gotten us to this world in which children now have a lower life expectancy than their parents?  HOW can we reverse the trend and reclaim our health?


Who is this book for?  The main market for this book is probably those who have been yo-yo dieting for a long time, not seeing the results they want from calorie restriction, but a wider audience could certainly benefit.  What's important to note is that the focus should be on HEALTH, and weight loss will follow naturally.  I'd hold that even those who already eat a real-foods diet can benefit from reading this.  It is great to be reminded why you eat the way you do, and to collect knowledge that will help you explain your lifestyle to others (or to give as a gift).  It's also good for anyone who claims they know calories aren't all that matter, but hasn't fully, truly embraced the mentality.  He uses science to bust "The Calorie Myth" and provides a more efficient, more enjoyable route to health.

Read on to learn more about what's inside the book, and for a GIVEAWAY!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Enjoy the Holiday Week!

Whatever you celebrate or don't celebrate, many people have a holiday from work, a chance to spend time with family and friends.  Take advantage of it.  ENJOY it.  Don't worry TOO too much about getting to the gym or saying no to your favorite food.  I'm not saying to abandon your health goals, but don't let it get in the way of your happiness this time of year.

Dare you to...

               Relax. 
                         Unwind. 
                                  Celebrate.
                                             Enjoy


That's all!

Just wanted to drop in and wish you a happy holiday week and a joyful New Year!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Make Bone Broth

Everyone knows that the best remedy for any malady is a nice warm pot of soup.  It's ancient wisdom. (Or Grandma's.)


So... If it's so good for us, why don't we eat this healing food all the time?
  • HELLO NUTRIENTS!  Bone broth is incredibly nutrient-dense.  According to the Weston A. Price Foundation, meat and fish stocks contain minerals like calcium magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur, and trace minerals.  The process for making bone broth also releases those broken down materials from the cartilage and tendons, such "chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, now sold as expensive supplements for joint pain"!!  For more information, check out "Broth is Beautiful".
  • Kidneys and Adrenals: Nourished Kitchen explains the traditional Chinese medicine perspective, pointing out that bone broth "nourishes our kidneys, supports our vital essence (chi), and builds blood."  The Chinese paradigm includes adrenals within the kidney system, so bone broth can help with adrenal fatigue issues.  Read more here.
  • Take a Hint From Nature: On Mark's Daily Apple, Mark Sisson also outlines all the amazing things found in bones, which we can tap into by making bone broth.  He notes that carnivorous animals in nature often go straight for the bone marrow, hinting to observers that that's where the real nutrition lies.
  • Alleviate Joint Pain: Chef Lance Roll, a.k.a. "The Flavor Chef", also promotes bone broth as a remedy for achy joints and to heal digestion.  As a guest on the Underground Wellness Podcast from October 2012, he said, "Before pharmaceuticals, there was broth."  YES!  Let food be thy medicine!  He had me hooked.  "We are not only what we eat, but also what we absorb."

Wanting to absorb of all this nutrient goodness for myself, I added "Make Bone Broth" to my Dare list.



Read more to see how it went...

Sunday, December 8, 2013

See Disney's FROZEN

Let me preface this by saying that I am a big fan of the old Disney classics.  I grew up a "Disney Princess," if you will, so I have high expectations for animated Disney movies.

Disney's latest princess tale, Frozen, did not disappoint!


A few weeks ago, I was invited to an advance screening of Frozen, although I was under no obligation to blog about it at all.  As soon as the film ended, I gave a strong applause and immediately texted my nearest and dearest insisting they see it as soon as it comes out.  Now that it's been in theaters a week already, many of my friends confirmed that they enjoyed it as much as I did.

I absolutely adored Frozen, and I'd gladly see it again!  This musical comedy is hilarious, contains a song performed by Idina Menzel that blew me away, and is entertaining for adults (even my male friends enjoyed), yet appropriate for children.

The cast includes some of my favorites, including Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Kristen Bell, Josh Gad, and more.

Here are a few teaser clips, but get to theaters to see the show with the whole family!





Some of the songs were spectacular, and some were not quite as memorable, but "Let It Go" is a new favorite for me.  If you want to see that before hitting the theater, watch below:





Another fun part of Frozen was that it did away with the overdone and outdated conclusion where it is the man that saves the helpless princess.  I don't want to give anything away, though, so see it for yourself to find out how Disney has updated the road to Happily Ever After.

The movie contained laughter for the most part, and some tears near the end.  It's got something for everyone, so I DARE you to go check it out this holiday season!

PS: I highly recommend seeing Frozen in 3D, if for no other reason than to see the animated short that is played before the movie begins.  Yes, the movie itself made good use of 3D as well, but the Disney animated short entitled "Get a Horse" is out of this world.  It's a cute cartoon involving Mickey and Minnie that is, yes, funny, but more importantly is the epitome of what 3D animation should be used for.  I'd include a clip of it here, but it's simply not the same to see it on your computer.  You MUST see this in 3D!!

Did you see Frozen yet?? What did you think?

HOW AMAZING WAS THE ANIMATED MICKEY MOUSE SHORT?!!?!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

have a paleo Friendsgiving!

Hope everyone had a happy Thanksgivingkah!  I had a very nice long weekend visiting with family and taking a short breather from work.

The Saturday before Thanksgiving, a lovely group of paleo NYC ladies got together for a...

Paleo Friendsgiving! 


Rebecca invited us to a potluck Thanksgiving meal at her apartment, and I couldn't wait to meet, mingle, and munch!  All the food would be paleo (grain-free/gluten-free/dairy-free (mostly)/sugar-free/refined-seed-oil-free...basically just real food).   If you follow on Instagram, then you saw some of the festivities as they were happening, but I've finally gotten around to sharing it with you all here on the blog.

As it was a potluck, we each brought something of our own!  We had a spreadsheet to make sure that the meal would be complete.  My dish was brussels sprouts, and I couldn't be happier.

 

I found these massive beauties and got to work following the fried brussels sprouts recipe from the Against All Grain cookbook (read my book tour recap and recipe review here).

They came out beautifully, if I do say so myself.


After taste testing one or two or five, I packed them up and made my way to Rebecca's.  I was greeted by her adorable dog, Elvis, who I declared my new best friend and spent the evening plotting how to bring her home with me.


Rebecca had dared to make her own kombucha, so I was excited to have my first taste!  I'd never had it before, so I didn't know what to expect, but it was quite delicious!  Check that off the list, now, too, and add it to my continuous dare-to list!


Rebecca was also cooking the dish of honor -- the Thanksgiving turkey.  It was her first, and she aced it:


Nicely done!

Carving the turkey proved to be a three-woman job, though...

Julie checking instructions while Amber got to work


Hahaha hard work! 


We talked, sipped our wine and kombucha, and played with Elvis for a good while.  I caught up with old friends and got to know some great new friends!  As always, it was incredible spending time with like-minded people who value health and well-being in the same way I do.

Catching up with Amber

Finally, all the dishes were ready and dinner was served!

Thank you to Diane Sanfilippo and Danielle Walker for so many of the recipes that inspired this meal!
Find their paleo/grain-free cookbooks on Amazon,
including Danielle Walker's Thankful, 20 Thanksgiving and Holiday Gluten-free and Paleo Recipes

#proud

Danielle Digging In

And dessert happened, too.  The pumpkin cookies were out of this world, and I swooned over Amber's chocolate pecan pie.


Stay up to date on Paleo events in NYC by joining the Paleo NYC Meetup Group


Thank you, Rebecca, for hosting us, and thanks to all the wonderful women at our friendsgiving for the good eats and fun night! I look forward to seeing you all again, soon!

Have you ever partaken in a "friendsgiving"?  Share your stories below!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Banish your Grain Brain (Part 2: Results)

The following post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Grain Brain. As always, the opinions expressed are all my own!

So last month I told you I was starting the Grain Brain Challenge based on Dr. David Perlmutter's book: Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar--Your Brain's Silent Killers.

Check out the initial post to learn all about the surprising effects carbohydrates may have on your brain health, and what the challenge entails.  It also contains some photos of foods that helped get me through!


Now, after four weeks have come and gone, the challenge is over and it's time to recap the experiences and outcomes regarding food, fitness, sleep, and general health:

Food:  As I discussed last time, the food didn't have drastic changes in selection; I just was more careful about my non-paleo, grainy/glutenous treats (namely, not choosing them), as well as carb-dense foods. About twice I went ahead and had a snack I wouldn't have usually chosen, but even Dr. Perlmutter advises in the book to just carry on after going off-plan.  In some ways, it was more flexible than I was used to, even; I was glad to bring back more cheese than I was used to, and was thrilled to purchase hummus for the first time in a long time.  (The hummus was nice to have, but I still think it messes with my stomach's acidity and I get reflux.  But what a treat!)

The "huevos rancheros" egg dish became a daily staple, likely seen on my plate at any meal of the day.


 Keep reading for the full recipe :)

Other meals frequently consisted of a protein and some non-starchy vegetables.  For example:  either salmon or chicken paired with, say, brussels sprouts, peppers, artichoke... Often this might be just tossed in a salad with some avocado, too.  (Bring on the healthy fats!!)

What I did find the most difficult, as predicted, was keeping the carbohydrate count as very low as recommended in Grain Brain.  40 grams of carbs / day is not a lot, even though I was already only eating regularly around 90-100 grams.  This challenge taught me which are my "big carb" items, and really, I think they're okay in the big picture.  My biggest carb sources were things like bananas, where just one large banana brought me up to 30 grams, already!  That's almost the full day's allowance on the Grain Brain Challenge.

Now, I don't want to become a crazy person who "watches" my bananas... (ridiculous thought!), but it was enlightening to realize how carb-dense bananas and other fruits are.

Fitness:  I don't think low-carb helped my fitness energy.  My workouts were so-so, until the weekend after the challenge, when I dove head-first into carbtastic gluten-free pasta.  That Sunday, I had one of the best workouts I've had in a long time. I even rocked the burpees, and that's saying something!! So I think for fitness, carbs may be my friend.

Sleep: I'd been having trouble sleeping before beginning the challenge, and I definitely found my sleep improving over the course of the four weeks.  Big plus!

General Health Outcomes:
Here, I have one BIG thing to say:  NO HEADACHES. No migraines. No headaches at all!

This was amazing.  I get headaches often.  Migraines come and go.  I'm usually carrying around some type of pain reliever or migraine medication with me.  Throughout the four weeks of the Grain Brain Challenge, I did not get one. single. little. headache.  Hallelujah!! 

Now, I'm not saying I know what the exact cause was.  This was not a perfectly controlled experiment, I didn't track all confounding variables. Maybe it was the lower carbohydrates, maybe it was the supplements, or maybe it was the fact that I didn't eat nuts as much this month... Whatever it is, I'm happy, and I'm going to work to figure out which it is.


My foggy-brainedness also eased up, although didn't completely disappear.  I think that it was correlated with when I was taking the supplements, although this very well may have been placebo effect... Whatever works!  Again, I'll keep experimenting.

Lastly, my pants began to feel a little loose!  Not surprising, since I stopped inhaling my favorite grainy and carb-sense snacks (which were often just boredom snacks that didn't really quench any hunger).

Do you have any of the following symptoms of gluten sensitivity?


Consider a Grain Brain Challenge to see if your symptoms improve!

What next? Going forward, I'll keep Grain Brain on my shelf and on my mind.  The supplements may have contributed to the disappearance of my headaches and foggy brain, so perhaps those will stay on my shelves, as well.  I'll be checking the book regularly, referring back to the science cited by Dr. Perlmutter and showing it to those who are confused about how grains, gluten, or carbohydrates could possibly negatively affect your health.

-----

Huevos Rancheros from Grain Brain
This classic Mexican dish has been modified so that instead of eggs served on tortillas, they are prepared over a fresh bed of greens.
Serves 2  (...Whoops. Or 1!)



Ingredients:

  • 1 Tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 cups coarsely torn frisee (I often used a different green--whatever I had on hand)
  • 2 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 4 Tablespoons salsa
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Add the butter or olive oil to a skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, crack the eggs into the skillet and cook for 3 to 4 minutes for runny yolks, more for firmer yolks.  Serve the eggs over a bed of frisee and top with cheese, salsa, and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper.

SO easy!  I actually often put the cheese and salsa right in the pan so it gets a chance to get melty and mix together.  Mmmm!!


Want more quick and easy, grain-free recipes?  Want to learn the steps to taking control of your brain health?  Find Dr. Perlmutter's book on Amazon, or visit his website at www.drperlmutter.com


DisclaimerThis post was sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Grain Brain. This post contains affiliate links, but this does not affect the content (see Disclaimer page for details). As always, the reflections and opinions expressed above are all my own.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Eat Sardines

You heard me right.


If you'd told me three years ago--or even three months ago--that I'd be writing these words, I'd have laughed, too.  In fact, recently my mother was visiting and came across them in my pantry. She was shocked and... well let's just say she wasn't excited or eager to open up a box.  I told her not to worry and she'd soon read about my foray into the world of sardines.

Why: 

You can thank these ladies (Diane Sanfilippo and Liz Wolfe) for putting sardines on my radar as a health food.  Yes, apparently sardines are incredibly nutritious!  Further research revealed that they're rich in many vitamins and minerals.  They contain vitamins A, B, C, D, and E,  and even provide about 32% of your recommended daily intake of calcium and half the daily value for DHA and EPA, two crucial types of Omega-3 fatty acids.  All this nutrition in such a tiny package... it's no wonder that they made it onto a 2008 New York Times Well list of The 11 Best Foods You Aren't Eating.

My box boasted that its "sardines provide 3 times more calcium and phosphorus than milk, more iron than cooked spinach, as much protein as steak, and as much potassium as bananas."  They also mention the Omega 3s, vitamin B12, selenium, and vitamin D, as well as Coenzyme Q10.

Canned fish is thus a convenient source of protein (one little can provides over 30 grams of protein!!), and I've already shared my affinity for quick and easy meals made with canned tuna and salmon.  Sardines don't even need a fork, because they come intact, which, yes, could be weird.  Fortunately, the cans I bought had the little guys beheaded already, so their little faces weren't looking up at me.


Getting started:

When you shop for your sardines, check the ingredients just like you would for any other canned foods.  Make sure the package doesn't have unnecessary ingredients.  Sardines, water, and salt sounded safe to me, so I went with Wild Planet.


Opening it up...


BEWARE!  Water.  Not unlike other canned fish, but the water came out immediately and began overflowing a bit. Be warned.

Interesting... 

I admit, I did not find this remotely appetizing, either.  But stick with me!  Read more to see how I came to enjoy my sardines:

Thursday, November 14, 2013

go Against All Grain

If you found Grain Brain interesting and began avoiding or limiting grains, then there's a valuable cookbook out there, ready to help you plan all your grain-free meals.  Even if you're NOT following a grain-free lifestyle, this cookbook has recipes that are savory, sweet, scrumptious, and sure to satisfy any taste buds.

Against All Grain


Danielle Walker's recipe book, Against All Grain: Delectable Paleo Recipes to Eat Well & Feel Great, just came out in September.  I frequently checked her website as she traveled the country on her book tour, watching and waiting to see someplace in my vicinity appear on the list.  Last month, Danielle finally took her book tour to New York City, where I joined others in a cooking lesson at Sur La Table.  All day, I'd been looking forward to my grain-free meal, and Danielle did not disappoint.


It was thrilling to see the real Danielle in person!  Her pictures and demo videos came to life, her smile radiating the whole time.  She was warm, inviting, and so friendly throughout the evening.


First, Danielle shared her own background with healthy and grain-free eating, explaining how an SCD- and paleo-based diet alleviated her Ulcerative Colitis symptoms, getting her out of the hospital, free to live her life, free of grains, gluten, dairy, and sugar.  Stories like hers and thousands of others demonstrate why doctors need to start listening, learning, and spreading the word about how dietary and lifestyle changes can improve health, beat chronic disease, and change lives.


Then, the cooking began!  The menu for the evening included butternut squash soup, zucchini noodles with bolognese sauce, rosemary breadsticks, and chocolate cake brownies.


As she demonstrated her recipes in action, Danielle explained why she uses one cooking method over another and shopping tips for what brands she recommends for certain ingredients.  She took and answered questions about the processes involved and possible ingredient substitutions.  Just a few snippets of what we learned:
- Sift coconut flour after measuring
- If you don't want to eat honey, try swapping mashed banana
- When making dough: blend, let it sit, then blend again (because of coconut flour)
- Tips for the cookbook's mayonnaise, such adding the oil slowly at first and using an immersion blender
- Great notes on what brands she trusts, uses herself, and recommends to others

Danielle Walker recommending WellBee Foods almond flour

When she explained the spiral slicer for zucchini noodles, I raised my hand to ask about using sweet potatoes; I want to dare to try soon!

The food she prepared was all delicious, and all straight out of the cookbook.  We ate:

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup




Granny Sarella's Spaghetti Sauce over zucchini noodles


(Grain-free!) Rosemary Breadsticks - Out of this world!


Dark Chocolate Cake Brownies

The rosemary breadsticks... WOW.  The soup was so warming on that cold night.  The sauce, delicious; I wanted more! I refrained from filling my bag with extra breadsticks, but did take a brownie to go. Good thing I've got the cookbook and can make my own breadsticks at home!

After the cooking and tasting was complete, we mingled and lined up to have Danielle sign our books.  It's always nice being around other locals who follow this lifestyle.  When someone wanted to know about finding bones for bone broth, another attendee was able to suggest a butcher at Chelsea Market for reasonably priced bones.  It's great having people to bond with and learn from.

As we waited to get our books signed, another attendee commented on all my Post-its in the book.  Yes, I marked it up with all the (many, many) recipes I want to try.  We laughed about the colors and organization, and she asked if I was a teacher.  Ha, actually... (yes!).

Meeting Danielle Walker, author of Against All Grain


Danielle was a pleasure to meet and was amused by my post-its, too. It just goes to show how many appealing recipes are in her book; can't wait to try them all!

I have already tried a few recipes, and loved them.  My favorite so far is probably the Braised Chicken in Artichoke-Mushroom Sauce.  As I told Danielle, I cooked it one night to pack up as lunches for the next couple days, and I took one bite just to taste test, and suddenly, it became that night's dinner, too.  It was THAT delicious!! A new favorite, for sure:


I've also made the Fried Brussels Sprouts and Cauliflower, scattering them aroun my salmon.  These were excellent.


One morning, I tried my hand at Danielle's grain-free Crepes.  Some came out well and crepe-like, while others were more of a pancake form.  All were tasty!  It's been a long time since I've had anything resembling crepes or pancakes, so these were a treat.

 

Grain-free crepes with almond butter and bananas - YUM! 

It was a lovely evening, and simply a cool experience, watching a favorite blogger/recipe author cooking right in front of you!  I'd previously had no idea that Sur La Table offered these near classes, but I'd definitely go again :)

Want to see what else is in store?  Here's an inside look at Against All Grain:


Interested? Order on Amazon today!


Thank you, Danielle, for a lovely evening!


Have you cooked from Against All Grain?  What is your favorite recipe??

I purchased the book and my ticket to this event independently; this post is in no way sponsored, contains all my own opinions, and is simply intended to spread the word about a great new paleo cookbook!  This post does contain Amazon affiliate links; see Disclaimer page for details.