Quinoa: We’re Nutzo For This Sexy Food!
QUINOA, you make me go nutzo: You’re sexy, lean, mean, tasty, so versatile and a complete protein!? Quinoa, if you were a guy, you’d be like David Zinczenko meets Johnny Knoxville meets Channing Tatum.. aka my droolfest, dream man. Read along and learn about this powerful super sexy food!
Pronounced KEEN-Wah, this “sexy food” is always on my plate and at my dinner parties without any hesitation. Quinoa is definitely my wingman to staying fab, healthy and sexy! I often refer to it as “ Nature’s Couscous”, because most people cannot tell the two apart just by first glance or consistency. That’s where I’m trying to convince you to convert to quinoa.
Quinoa is a grain-like seed that contains all 9 essential amino acids making it a complete protein, meaning it’s a great source of protein for vegetarians. Guess what? Your boring plate of couscous (which is pasta! Duh!) is NOT a complete protein. Quinoa can also help the body absorb more nutrients with the help from its natural minerals, potassium and manganese.
With the same texture, consistency and visuals as couscous, and more nutrients, packed with protein and it’s gluten free…I’m not even going to assume that you will look at couscous ever again, right? It’s no wonder that quinoa is regarded as the “Gold of the Incas”; it’s pure sexy!
Word up xx♥ck
Mindful Eating: 5 Easy Steps To Start
Mindful eating is a challenge. Most of us are used to eating on the go — in our cars or on our walk to work — and rushing through lunch breaks or just trying to get a bite in to our own mouths in between trying to get one into our child’s. More often than not we don’t sit down and leisurely enjoy a meal, much less take the time to think about what we’re eating and savor each bite.
However, the benefits of mindful eating are greater than you might realize. Weight loss, enjoyment gain, greater gratitude and a total shift in our attitude towards food are just a few. While being mindful at every meal may be a challenge, getting started on a path to it doesn’t have to be.
5 EASY STEPS TO MINDFUL EATING
1) Choose carefully. Mindful eating begins before the actual act of eating even starts. Choosing foods that are healthy, fresh and will make you feel good after eating them is the first step.
2) Prioritize your meal time. Setting aside time for your meal is essential. Making sure you can sit and relax while you eat is key. You may not be able to carve out a huge amount of time for each meal, but making sure the time you do have is well spent is key.
3) Focus on the food. Even if it’s just a 15 minute coffee break, make sure to focus on the star of the show–the food. Savor the flavor, texture, temperature and whole experience of eating. If this seems difficult, you may want to force yourself to chew each bite a certain amount of times (27 is what some recommend) in order to consciously savor each bite.
4) Disconnect. During meal time turn off the TV & computer, put the iphone away, and (when possible) get away from the kids, chatty co-workers or anything that diverts your attention. Now, I am not saying sit in solitude every meal but don’t allow yourself to be distracted to the point that you don’t even remember eating your meal.
5) Be Grateful. The one thing you do want to bring to the table is a grateful attitude. Acknowledging how fortunate we are for the food on our plates will change our attitude and the way we eat. Taking a moment of silence at the start of a meal or saying a little prayer before that first bite is an easy way to start your meal mindfully.
Beets: A Spring Detox For Your Bod
If you’re looking for a nice ‘jumpstart’ towards beach season, give a thought to a nice bowl of roasted beets, or a simple beet salad, or some more creative uses for the colorful root veg. Beets are like your personal springtime cleanup crew. Jammed with antioxidants and nutrients to detox the liver along with a good dose of fiber, they’ll flush out toxins and kick up digestion super fast. Just beware, they’ll stain virtually anything they come in contact with, nothing a good washing can’t take care of.
Check out these brilliant photos and easy beet recipes from my latest column in Rue Magazine’s fourth issue. Feta Dip with Grilled Toasts; Golden & Ruby Beet Salad with Oranges, Hazelnuts & Fiore Sardo Cheese; Dark Chocolate Beet Cupcakes with Goat Cheese-Hazelnut Frosting (oh yeah, they’re crazy good!).
Top Photo: Flickr
Need Spring In Your Step? Tips To Overcome Weariness
During the change of winter to spring, most of the days I am filled with energy and excitement, the light sparks me up and I can almost smell the freeing summer breeze in the air. And then out of the bloom there comes a few odd days here an there, when I feel like crawling back to bed when the day is just at its brightest. That is a seasonal phenomenon called the ‘spring weariness’. I’ve started to wonder why does this occur…
It can of course be an ancient remain that we’ve just dragged in today. In the past the time of spring meant that most of the carefully stored winter food stock had run out and people were nutritionally deficient and not in their best vitality. In today’s lifestyle this can mean that we’ve made it through the heavy and stressful winter by eating lots of sugar and unhealthy snacks to keep us going and not necessarily taken the best care of ourselves (exercise, outdoor activities, fresh fruits and vegetables, vitamin D, enough sleep and relaxation, joyful and light happenings, meditation and spiritual practices). I truly believe this can be the case with many people. As I trust that I’ve been taking quite good care of myself concerning those above topics, some other issues have risen for me to explain this occasional weary feeling. They are: 1) the natural stress of change, 2) overwhelmed feelings and high expectations.
We humans naturally resist change. It takes us time to adapt to new, especially with the power of seasonal change. The dark and cold gives sudden space to warmth and strong sun light. We are waking up after a long silent and slow way of living. The way of living in the winter and in the summer is truly like night and day.
By overwhelmed feelings and high expectations I mean our rising stress to get the most (=everything) out of the warm and light time, there is no ray of sun to be wasted! This might also be an instinct from our ancestors, but also something we’ve learned when growing up. Most of us can probably recall that whenever the sun was out you were not allowed to play inside but were quickly rushed out by your parents or care takers. We might have the similar approach and anxiety while thinking ahead and planning our summer vacations and building up expectations that it needs to be something extraordinary. And maybe we haven’t accomplished all the tasks or actions (in work, health, finances, cleaning and organizing etc.) that we were planning to have done by now. This stress creates tension that in the end wears us down and we just feel like sleeping.
Tips To Overcome Seasonal Weariness
1) Hydrate: Drink lots of pure water to keep you hydrated and alert, and to aid in digestion and detoxification
2) Sleep: Keep a regular sleep rhythm and sleep at least 7-8 hours a night
3) Eat Seasonally: Increase your in take of fresh fruits, vegetables and berries
4) Get out and about! Take as much time as possible to get in the nature. By doing this it makes you adapt faster to the changing season as you’re more in sync with nature. Have a long walk in the woods or go for a run by the sea. Or just enjoy the nature sounds by meditating 5 minutes on a rock.
5) Minerals: Be sure you get enough iron and other essential minerals as a deficiency can strongly contribute to your tiredness. The best way to increase high quality minerals in your diet is to boost your meals with green vegetables (kale, spinach, broccoli, parsley etc.).
6) Cut Stimulants: Go easy on sugar and coffee. They will give you a great high – but even a stronger low after! They do not only mess with your blood sugar levels, but with your emotional balance as well.
7) Remember that where ever you are, it is the exact right spot to be in. You have no rush and whatever you need will be provided to you. The more you let life flow freely in and out, the more easy and enjoyable it will become.
8 ) Ask yourself: what would make you happy today? What ever it is, do your best to cultivate at least a small portion of this in your day.
Top Photo: Flickr
Morning Warm Up: Oatmeal Done Right
Yup, it’s still oatmeal weather these days. It’s chilly here in NYC and oatmeal can offer up a warming, filling breakfast option. But with it, there always seems to come a side order of questions…are these carbs ok to eat for breakfast? Why am I ready to eat my fist an hour after having a packet of instant oatmeal? Is the flavored, low-sugar stuff ok? Is it absolute diet-blasphemy to have a bit of brown sugar, milk, raisins, nuts etc?
Tips For Doing Oatmeal Right
1. Go For The Nutrient Rich. Yes, oats are excellent sources of complex carbohydrates, they’re high in fiber and they suck out cholesterol from the body. BUT consider the type of oats you’re eating. Instant oatmeal, while convenient, likely isn’t doing a stand-out job of satisfying you for much for much of the morning. The more dense the oat/grain, the more sated you are. So on a scale of most-filling to least-filling you’ve got steel cut oats at the top (you know, that Irish oatmeal that takes a million years to cook but is fantastic); old-fashioned rolled oats with a mere 5-7 minute cooking time; and the instant stuff, which is perfectly fine for an emergency or a quick breakfast, but likely isn’t as filling. Try making any version of oatmeal with all or part skim, low-fat, soy or almond milk and it’ll stick with you that much longer.
2. Ditch The Fake Stuff: Flavored, low-sugar stuff – too man-handled and processed = not as satisfying. Stick with the basic, plain oats and flavor it yourself. A teaspoon of brown sugar or maple syrup is a mere 16-20 calories, not too terrible and there are zero artificial sweeteners involved. Cinnamon’s a total of zero calories, so go for it.
3. Dress It Up: Back to question 2, it’s not blasphemy to add a sprinkling of condiments here and there and will surely make breakfast more interesting and allow you to get to lunch without starving yourself. Fresh fruits, spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, and event nuts (in small amounts) are great choices for adding a little extra zing to your morning bowl.
What’s my morning oatmeal routine?
I generally make 2 to 4 servings of old-fashioned rolled oats at one time to hold me throughout the week, reheat it and poof, breakfast is done. A 1/2 cup of dry old-fashioned and 1/4 cup of the steel cut is a serving. And if you refuse to sacrifice a moment of sleep in order to make breakfast, don’t worry – I refuse also. I set my oats with half water and half milk on medium heat and hit the shower. Done and done in about 7 minutes or so. My flavoring agents of choice at the moment include a mix of: golden raisins, chopped pecans, a drizzle of maple syrup and a dab of butter and a pinch of salt – yes, real butter, it’s only a smidge, and salt (the way my mom used to make it!). Toss in a few slices of banana or throw in diced apple while you’re cooking and you’ve got a killer, energy-packed morning meal. My extremely discerning brother more than deemed this concoction breakfast – worthy, so hopefully that gives it some additional backing.
Winter Comfort :: Braised Short Ribs with Dried Cherries & Red Wine
I can’t think of a much better meal for comfy, coziness on a chilly day than braised short ribs. These little gems fall off the bone and melt in your mouth. The perfect charm to warm you up on a cold weekend or after a long day on the ski slopes–and easy to serve up for a big group. And the addition of polenta makes this a nice gluten-free dish (just be sure to dredge the ribs in a gluten-free flour). Keep the meal balanced with a nice starter salad. Toss in some sliced pears, toasted walnuts, maybe a touch of gorgonzola and a drizzle of balsamic-honey vinaigrette and you’re good to go.
Braised Short Ribs with Dried Cherries & Red Wine
Serves :: 6
3 pounds short ribs
salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup all-purpose flour for dredging
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
4 to 5 cippolini onions (or 1 medium yellow onion), roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed gently with a knife
1 1/2 cups carrots, roughly chopped
2 cups cremini or button mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 to 2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/3 cup dried cherries
½ bottle dry red wine
2 cups beef stock
Polenta with Truffle Oil
2 cups water
2 cups whole milk
1 cup polenta or yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese
1 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons truffle oil
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot or a cast-iron Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper. Dip in flour to cover each side. Brown the short ribs, about 4 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate.
Add onions, garlic and carrots to the pot and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes. Add in mushrooms and herbs. Stir in the tomato paste and dried cherries and place the short ribs back into pan. Add the wine and beef stock and bring to a simmer.
Transfer the pan to the oven and cook for 2 ½ hours, or until the meat is tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from the oven, place the short ribs on a platter, and reduce down the liquid for about 20 minutes on the stovetop. Add ribs back into pot. Serve short ribs and sauce with creamy polenta with truffle oil.
Polenta with Truffle Oil
Bring water and milk to a boil in a medium saucepan. Whisk in polenta in a steady stream. Add in salt and pepper and whisk continuously for 2 to 3 minutes over medium heat. Cover and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, whisking briefly every 10 minutes or so. Whisk in cheese and truffle oil and serve.
image via Nourish
Raid Your Kitchen: Quick Tips To Transform Your Eating Habits
Your kitchen will make or break your eating habits.
A kitchen stocked with the makings for healthy meals and snacks will keep you on track, even when late-night cravings strike. On the flip side, a kitchen filled with unhealthy munchies will derail your weight loss efforts every single time.
So what should your cupboards hold and what should be off limits? I’ve designed this self-guided kitchen raid to help you sort out the good from the bad.
Go ahead, grab a garbage bag, print out the list below, and then head to the kitchen.
Let’s start with the fridge, the heart of your kitchen. If you find something in your fridge that is on the “Dump this” list, then you know what you have to do. Get that garbage bag ready.
Dump this: Beverages with high fructose corn syrup or sugar. Drinking calories is one of the quickest ways to gain weight, so quickly rid your fridge of any beverage that lists HFCS or sugar on the ingredient list.
Replace with: Water. It is a well known fact that most people are partially dehydrated, a condition that is harmful to your health and wreaks havoc on your weight loss efforts. Keep plenty of cold water on hand for proper hydration.
Dump this: Rich dairy products. I know that cream cheese tastes amazing, but fat-filled dairy products are extremely high in calories and should not reside in your fridge. Eliminate high-fat cheese, milk and yogurt from your kitchen.
Replace with: Fresh Vegetables. The produce drawer in your fridge should be overflowing with colorful nutrient-rich veggies. In fact, your fridge should hold more veggies than the drawer can hold. Veggies are filled with fiber, vitamins and nutrients and are a vital part of a healthy well-rounded diet.
Dump this: Fatty meats. It is important that you be selective about the meats that you eat. I may tell you that chicken is a great source of protein, but if you take that as a license to eat fried chicken everyday then the benefit of the protein will be lost in all the extra fat calories.
Replace with: Lean meats. Skinless chicken breast, lean ground turkey, white fish – there are numerous choices when it comes to lean meats.
Dump this: Fruit-flavored yogurt. I hate to break this to you, but that cute individually packaged yogurt is going to do more harm to your waistline than you think. More than 50% of the calories in fruit-flavored yogurt come from sugar. Check out the ingredient list and you likely find both high fructose corn syrup AND sugar.
Replace with: Plain low-fat yogurt, Greek yogurt, or low-fat cottage cheese. If you love yogurt, then get the low-fat plain version. You can even chop up some fresh fruit and stir it in. Another option is to have a scoop of low-fat cottage cheese with chopped fruit on top.
Next let’s take a look into your freezer. Anyone who has walked the freezer aisles at the store knows how plentiful frozen temptations are. How does your freezer measure up?
Dump this: Ice cream. We may as well get this one over with. Hiding a gallon or two (or even a pint) of your favorite ice cream “for a rainy day” is NOT a good idea. Save yourself from that temptation and don’t buy ice cream.
Replace with: Frozen fruit. When your sweet tooth starts acting up, throw an assortment of frozen fruit into the blender and whip up a healthy fiber-filled smoothie.
Dump this: Frozen Pizza. This is another one of those items that is just too tempting to keep around. Why would you bother to make a healthy dinner when a frozen pizza is calling your name? Ban frozen pizza from your home and watch as your waist starts to shrink.
Replace with: Turkey or Veggie Patties. For quick dinners keep your freezer filled with lean turkey patties and veggie patties. Serve on a bed of brown rice or on a whole grain bun.
Dump this: TV Dinners. I doubt that you need me to go into too much detail on this one. The next time that you are tempted to buy a pre-packaged frozen meal, please turn the package over and read the nutritional facts. You will be shocked by the staggering number of calories and less-than-healthy ingredients.
Replace with: Home-made Portioned Meals. Spend some time on the weekends to cook up healthy meals, and then freeze them in portioned containers. Then throughout the week you simply need to reheat and enjoy.
Dump this: Frozen Breakfast Food. French toast, waffles and pancakes are popular items in the freezer aisle. Don’t fall for the pretty photos and tasty-sounding names. These items are highly processed and contain loads of unnecessary sugar.
Replace with: Sprouted Whole Grain Bread and Muffins. It is just as easy to throw a slice of sprouted, whole grain bread into the toaster as it is a frozen waffle. Spread it with some natural peanut butter and pair it with a piece of fruit. Now that’s a much healthier breakfast.
Last, but not least, we come to your pantry. This may be the most painful part of your kitchen raid, since most junk food ends up here. So take a moment to give yourself a pep talk before grabbing that garbage bag and opening your pantry.
Dump this: Sugar-filled cereal. If sugar or high fructose corn syrup are listed as ingredients on your cereal box, it’s got to go. Sugar-filled cereal is basically another form of junk food, and will only add inches to your waist.
Replace with: Whole Grain Oatmeal. There is a huge difference between instant, sugar-filled oatmeal and whole grain oatmeal.
Dump this: Refined/White Bread/Rice/Pasta. These highly processed products promote weight gain and a plethora of other health problems. Do not buy “white” bread, rice or pasta – especially if you want to lose weight.
Replace with: Whole Grain Bread/Rice/Pasta. Whole grain is the best choice you can make. It is filled with healthy fiber, and is less likely to contain harmful, waist-expanding ingredients.
Dump this: Chips/Crackers. While refined chips and crackers are fun to munch on, the extra calories will quickly add up. Do yourself a favor by not allowing these into your pantry.
Replace with: Almonds. The key to making this snack a winner is to practice portion control. Place a handful of almonds into individual bags for pre-portioned snacks.
Dump this: Packaged Sweets. I don’t really have to explain this one, do I? Cookies and cakes and candies shouldn’t be a regular part of your diet, so keep them out of your house. It’s one thing to enjoy a dessert once in a while, it is quite another to routinely eat processed sweets at home.
Replace with: Dried Fruit. When you want to munch on something sweet, turn to a bag of dried fruit. Make sure that you purchase dried fruit that does not contained added sugars.
That completes your self-guided kitchen raid. I encourage you to raid your kitchen every couple of months as a way of keeping yourself on track. Talk with your family members about the healthy changes that you’re making, and try to get everyone’s support.
You know that weight loss comes as a result of healthy eating and consistent, challenging workouts. Call or email today to get started on a fitness program that will get you on the fast-track to your best body ever.
BONUS: Shop Your Way Thin
Here’s your grocery shopping cheat-sheet. Take this with you as a reminder of what to buy and what not to buy.
Don’t buy food items that:
Are filled with sugar or high fructose corn syrup.
Are highly processed and contain unidentifiable ingredients.
Are full of fat.
Whole, fresh fruits and vegetables.
Cold Season: Amped Up Chicken Soup To The Rescue
Cold and flu season is here full force, and of course one of the most popular remedies is good ol fashion chicken soup. While we all have our favorite variations, Clean Plates recently wrote about an amped up version full of nutrients and flavor.
Help for Soup (and Your Soul)
Amp up chicken soup with this umami-packed veggie of the sea.
Kelp, an edible seaweed (also called kombu) is a staple of Japanese cuisine, and for good reason. Not only is kelp chock-full of nutrients and vitamins, but it packs tons of umami flavor, says Hiroko Shimbo, chef and author of the IACP award-winning cookbook Hiroko’s American Kitchen.
In Japanese, the meaning of umami, that elusive fifth flavor, approximates to “delicious.” And kelp’s umami flavor “to me tastes the ‘cleanest,'” says Shimbo.
Shimbo recommends using kelp stock in place of chicken stock or water as the base for soups or as a braising liquid. The next time you make chicken soup, try this: simmer your leftover roast organic chicken in kelp stock instead of chicken stock or water, and you’ll have some of the richest, most nourishing, and most savory soups you’ve ever tasted.
Kelp stock is easy to make and keep on hand, as you’ll see in Shimbo’s recipe here. Best of all the chlorophyll-filled kelp is jam-packed with nutrients, including vitamins B, C, and E, soluble and insoluble fiber, plus iodine, calcium, and magnesium—a soulful spoonful for sure!
Clean Plates bonus: Kelp stock will give extra oomph to your vegetable soups, too. For a recent demo at the farmers’ market, Shimbo improvised a beet, miso, and kelp soup, recipe here. “Some people said ‘Oh, I don’t like miso,’ and some said, ‘I don’t like beets,’ but when they tasted this soup, they all said, ‘Wow-wow.’” We bet you will, too.
Top Photo: Clean Plates.
Five Foods With Benefits
You may not realize it but some very simple changes could yield huge results. Clean eating can do wonders for your weight, skin, metabolism, and have you feeling re-energized and better than ever. Candice Kumai introduces us to her “Five badass foods with benefits” that will have you looking and feeling great.
Eat better, eat cleaner and reap all the free benefits.
Five Foods With Benefits:
1- Arugula: Let me give you a style update here. Iceberg and Romaine are so over dressed, change up that pantry.. opt for darker colors this season. The darker the leaf the more nutrient dense baby. In regards to greenery, dark is in… light is out.
2- Rainbow Swiss Chard: Besides being stylishly colorful and delicious, Swiss chard packs on mega amounts of Vitamins A, C and K. Along with copious amounts of manganese, magnesium and iron. If you don’t know how to cook the darn stuff? Well click here for a video that aims to please: How to Cook with Swiss chard?
3- Sardines: Dr Oz once explained to me what “leptin” levels were… levels that control your FAT. Keep them in check with more omega rich foods, Sardines are our top pick! Plus they are SO frickin’ delicious, sustainable and cheap. Get smart(er). Consume more sardines.
4- Berries: Blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, currants, strawberries, raspberries! And no, I’m not talking about Captain Crunch Berries either. Berries are a spark of delight from childhood: handfuls, bowls with yogurt and a sprinkle of granola, sounds delightful! The most fantastic part about consuming these little bits of heaven? They contain plenty of vitamin C, E and antioxidants and can also help in keeping your skin smooth and sexy by helping your body with the natural manufacturing of collagen.
5- Quinoa:If you really want to fill up on one of the world’s perfect foods? This complete protein is the Inca’s secret to life longevity. With amino acids, protein and it’s gluten free!? Well, then sir, I’ll check out this interesting looking grain. You’ll be swapping from wasted cous-cous in no time.
Whole Foods Winter Warm Up: Quinoa and Beef Meatballs
I recently came across this whole foods recipe for quinoa and beef meatballs and knew I had to try them. First of all, I love quinoa and all it’s healthy benefits, and secondly, my toddler seems to be addicted to pasta and meatballs, so any way that I can make them healthier helps. These contain chopped veggies (zucchini, carrots and onion) which sneakily kick up the nutrition even more. They turned out delicious, and it’s a recipe I will definitely go back to.
1 pound (95-percent) lean ground beef
3/4 cup cooked quinoa (use frozen 365 Everyday Value® Organic Quinoa, or cook it from scratch*)
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup grated carrot
1/4 cup grated zucchini
2 tablespoons ketchup (I didn’t have any so just threw in a few tablespoons of crushed tomato)
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon soy sauce (some people substitute amino acids instead)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 egg, lightly beaten
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients until well combined. Shape into 16 balls and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Roast until cooked through and golden brown, 15 to 17 minutes. Serve hot.
(*Note: To cook quinoa, bring 1 cup of water to a boil in a small pot. Pour in ½ cup quinoa, cover and simmer until water is absorbed, 10 to 12 minutes. Set aside off of the heat for 10 minutes then fluff with a fork. Makes about 1 1/2 cups. Use 3/4 cup in this recipe, and reserve the remaining for another use.)
PER SERVING:150 calories (45 from fat), 5g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 75mg cholesterol, 470mg sodium, 8g carbohydrate (1g dietary fiber, 2g sugar), 17g protein
Top Photo: Whole Foods