nutrition coach

Chin up, buttercup! If you have the post-holiday blues, I've got you covered.

A Seattle stormy day…

A Seattle stormy day…

Now that the holiday cheer and merriment that kept you busy from Halloween to New Years is over, you (or a loved one) may be feeling a range of emotions from relief to sadness to fatigue to explainable body aches.

While we expect the holiday season to be busy, somewhat stressful even, we tend to ignore the emotional aftermath, which can leave us navigating unfamiliar, dark territory. Unlike a physical wound where we would apply a bandage, emotional distress can be harder to acknowledge and therefore heal. As humans we also have a propensity to make our emotional wounds worse by discounting them as something else.

Post-holiday blues are unique to everyone. However, when some basic symptoms arise that seem out of the ordinary, you may want to slow down to evaluate why they may be cropping up.

Symptoms may include:

  • Headaches

  • Fatigue or insomnia

  • Muscle tension

  • Negative self-talk

  • Lack of focus or ability to concentrate

  • Anxiety

  • Hopelessness

  • Anger

Now, if you simply feel off this winter or show any of the above signs, read through the following list to determine what resonates with you. Pick one or two that you can commit to, to help remedy your symptoms.

Be sure you’re maintaining an excellent baseline for your body to function.

This includes:

  1. Quality sleep (ideally 6.5-9 hours) in a cool, dark room; if this is not possible, carve out a time to take a power nap. Most Americans undervalue sleep, yet if the majority of us would get enough sleep and drink water, our lives would be dramatically different!

  2. Staying hydrated by drinking half your body weight in ounces of water per day; set yourself up right by beginning your day (yes, before your coffee), with a large cup of lukewarm, lemon water to get your body hydrated and active, flushing out toxins that have settled while sleeping.

  3. Eating fresh, whole foods; include vegetables with every meal, as well as some healthy fats (nuts, avocado, coconut and extra-virgin olive oil); skip the sugar and processed foods and drinks. The old adage, “you are what you eat,” is scarier today than in any other modern time. Buy organic meats and know the Dirty Dozen list to avoid breaking the bank on fresh produce.

    People like to bypass the importance of nutrition and focus on the exercise component. I can’t emphasize it enough that you CANNOT exercise your way out of a bad diet. Those abs truly are made (or lost) in the kitchen.

    If this is an area you truly struggle in, I highly suggest you reach to me so that I can help you achieve your body health goals or at the very least outline a plan to help you create healthy eating habits. I have 21-Day Sugar Detox groups monthly or can also coach you one-on-one, digging deeper into the root cause of your health, or lack thereof.

  4. Exercising. This doesn’t have to be intense. Simply start your day with a minimum of 10 minutes of your favorite movements. This could be push-ups in your living room, squats while brushing your teeth, a dance party with your kids, or getting off of the bus or train a stop early to walk to the office, etc. Extra points if you can get outside in natural sunlight while exercising.

  5. Speaking of sunlight, get outside every chance you get. We have a very bad habit of sitting for hours, tucked inside, possibly never seeing the light of day for more than 5 minutes during the winter. By regulating your circadian rhythm, you’ll naturally have a lighter mood. Shoot for 20 minutes outside in the light. Better yet, break up your day with a walk at lunch with your best bud.

Create new  routines in your day that provide proper outlets and boundaries to help you thrive, including:

  1. Breath work – most of us take our breath for granted. Take a few minutes out of your day (ideally first thing in the morning or before going to bed) to slow down and pay attention to your breath. Simply breathe deeply in and out of your nose slowly 10 times or better yet meditate for 10 minutes.

  2. Be grateful – express your gratitude by pen or by voice daily. Finding 3-5 things to be grateful for daily, big or small, has a significant impact on your mental health.

  3. Draw or journal.

  4. Create time for creativity and play; detox from technology and the competing noise from being plugged in. We become more inspired and creativity flows freely in these “white” spaces of time in our day than forcing the hustle mentality.

  5. Get into nature – as noted above.

  6. Exercise – again, as noted above, make this a non-negotiable. If you’re sitting most of the day in front of a computer, be sure to take breaks every couple of hours and walk around the office or go for a walk outside. Getting your eyes off the screen and moving your body will dramatically alter your state and clear your mind, making room for better creativity.

  7. Mantras – your thoughts are incredibly powerful. What do you say about yourself; how do you talk to yourself? If necessary, change the self-talk to something positive and/or proclaiming powerful, optimistic statements that start with “I AM _____!”

  8. Level up your squad – Jim Rohn says, “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” To expand on that, 1) you become more like your entire circle of influence, and 2) you should audit the people you spend time with. Are they encouraging you to be a better person? Do they promote healthy habits? Do they help you be the person you excel to be? Do they help you pursue the activities that speak to your heart? Excellence and joy are contagious –make sure you surround yourself with people that make you better.

  9. In the same vain, genuinely connect with people and environment. Unplug your phone. Show up and sit down for family meals. Look people in the eye. Tell people you appreciate them. Look around at the sights and sounds, the architecture and the diverse people, when you’re walking. Listen closely as someone speaks; think before you speak. Stop and smell the roses.

  10. Celebrate little victories – it’s easy to get swept away in the busyness of the season or the work week or the deadlines, but if we don’t stop and celebrate the little wins, we keep plodding ahead with little to no enthusiasm. By nature, we beat ourselves up over perceived poor performance or mistakes. However, when we celebrate our little wins, we are building our confidence, pride in our work, and reinforcing the good behavior that produced the successful result. in contrast to the hustle attitude, it’s energizing. Don’t forget to find people to celebrate with you!

  11. Give – whether that’s giving of your time by volunteering, giving back to the earth by planting a tree, donating to your favorite charity, or purely giving of your time and being present, the ROI is always more than expected.

  12. Give yourself grace. Some days are simply easier than others, don’t beat yourself up. Especially after the holidays, it will take some time to get back to a normal routine. If all else fails, a good Epsom salt bath usually does the trick!

  13. Break down larger projects into bite size, actionable tasks. When you write your to-do list, either at home or at work, be sure to keep your tasks specific, and limit each day with no more than 8 priority items. Tackle the hardest item first to get it out of the way, gain momentum and be more confident moving forward. (remember, we want to celebrate the little victories!).

  14. Research shows that physical clutter clutters your mind and reduces your productive. Gift yourself the best gift this year and purge your desk or your closets at home. Take the one-minute to tidy up at the end of each day.

While creating new habits can feel overwhelming, take one day at a time. Reject the idea that you must do everything all at once and perfectly. Choose one thing to focus on and master it before moving on. Little by little, a little becomes a lot. So, remember one foot in front of the other, no matter how slow or how often you must get up and try again.

All that being said, if your winter blues seem a shade darker, refusing to lift in the days and weeks upon returning to the office, consider reaching out to a mental health professional. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a common, legit issue that should be addressed properly. Above all, know that you’re not alone in the process.

C is for cookie, that's good enough for me. A holiday cookie round-up!

Cranberry jam thumbprint cookies and gingersnaps

Cranberry jam thumbprint cookies and gingersnaps

Neither Halloween, nor the pumpkin spice November craze, phase me. It’s the peppermint this time of year that calls to me and entangles me in all of it’s minty goodness. In particular, the eating evolved peppermint coconut cups (which you can now only purchase on Thrive Market or make your own - recipe to come) are by far my favorite.

That being said, I’ve created a short cookie round-up for you. Don’t be fooled by it being “short.”

While I appreciate the 80-recipe round-ups, I know I don’t have time to look through 80 recipes, nor whittle it down to my top 10, nor bake said top 10 different cookies. The thought of the mess alone kills me.

I doubt you have the time either!

Since our little family has been going a mile a minute lately, we hunkered down this weekend and made several different cookies, got crafty, and watched Elf and the pbs series of Little Women (I may have shed a tear or two!).

Without further ado, here are the COOKIE RECIPES I think you should get busy making this winter season:

Cranberry Jam Thumbprint Cookies

We adapted Caroline Potter’s gluten free blackberry jam thumbprint cookies to be a delicious cranberry jam thumbprint cookie. We made enough jam to go on top of oatmeal or eat by the spoonful after we topped our cookies.

To make the jam:

Ingredients

1 lb fresh cranberries

¼ cup water

4 tbsp honey

2 tsp fresh squeezed orange juice

1 ½ tsp grass-fed gelatin

Directions

Warm a skillet to medium-low heat. Add the cranberries and water and heat for 10 minutes.

Use the back of a spoon to crush the cranberries, releasing their juices.

Stir in in the honey, orange juice, and gelatin. Heat for an additional 10 minutes, allowing the jam to simmer slightly.

Remove from heat and let cool.

If you like it chunky, leave as it, otherwise use an immersion or high-speed blender to puree the jam.

Refrigerate.

 

Gingersnap Cookies

You can’t let the Christmas season go by without making gingersnaps. These cookies, created by Danielle Walker, are my Charlie Bear’s favorite.

Or if you want to get super fancy, try these iced gingersnap cookies.

 

Chocolate Orange Cookies

A new treat but one we’ll be keeping! Note, this recipe is NOT gluten-free or even paleo for that matter. I repeat, this is not GF or paleo…yet. I paleofied it today but it still needs a few tweaks. To get this into your hands now, this is the real deal, sugar laden cookie. I’ll repost soon when I have the paleo version in a better state.

 

Keto Sugar Cookies

Say what?! Yep, it’s a thing, and Brittany Angell kills it again!

 

No Bake Peppermint Hot Cocoa Bites

I’ll take it! Once again, I’ll need to post my recipe for peppermint coconut cups another time, but this recipe for peppermint hot cocoa bites Is divine, with an extra boost from the collagen peptides.

 


I hope you slow down to make a few of these yourself. If you do, let me know which ones you decided to make and what you thought of them.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

Basically my wild children all weekend. I don’t think the cookies helped!

Basically my wild children all weekend. I don’t think the cookies helped!

Eat your veggies! Another recipe to help fulfill your veggie quota.

I get asked these questions all the time:

  1. How do I get my kids to eat veggies?

  2. How do I get my kids to lay off XYZ?

  3. How do I make healthy meals that everyone will eat?

 

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You can see my previous post that addresses some of these items.

But let’s start from the top and break it down.

First and foremost, you know yourself and your family best.

You know your time commitments or what you’re willing to do to make healthy cooking and eating a priority.

These values are the foundation we need to establish. Simply ask yourself:

  1. Do I have time to meal prep?

  2. Do I even want to meal prep?

  3. Would I benefit from meal prepping?

  4. What is my definition of health?

  5. What am I willing to sacrifice to be healthy?

Answer these questions and you’ll free yourself from any guilt you may have around not having it all together, in addition to understanding the parameters you’re working with to establish a new routine.

If the answer is Yes to most of these questions, let’s begin…..

Stock up on the items y’all love and don’t mind eating on repeat. These may include:

  • Chicken

  • Fish

  • Ground beef or steak

  • Veggies

  • Fruit

  • Eggs

  • Butter

  • Jerky

  • Salad fixings

  • Smoothie fixings

  • Avocados

  • Frozen fruit and veggies

     

    Come meal prep time, simply cook more!

    Heat up the grill and grill chicken, flank steak, portobello mushrooms and onions, a salmon filet, foil wrapped asparagus, sweet potatoes, and bell peppers.

Don’t have a grill?

  

Roast a whole chicken in your oven alongside roasted beets, fennel, and sweet potato. Perhaps even some egg muffins. Or simply make some hard-boiled eggs for on the go protein.

Take that chicken carcass and throw it on your instant pot to make broth, to either sip throughout the week or to make a carrot ginger or minestrone soup (see post from June 14th).

 

Not into meal planning?

That’s ok!

Buy a rotisserie chicken, or easy to heat meals such as frozen items from Trader Joe’s, or use a meal planning program such as Good Eggs, Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, Acme Farms & Kitchen, or even Uber Eats.

What about hiding those veggies?

Smoothies, soup, scrambles, meatballs, and even chocolate pudding are an incredibly easy and tasty way to get your kids to eat their greens.

These combinations allow you to pack a punch with nutrient dense veggies, with little to no acknowledgement they’re even there. When my kids regularly ask for these meals or treats, I secretly smile knowing all the goodness hiding behind the yum factor.

For example, this meatball recipe was a hit this past week. I typically do some combo of meat and veggies for meatballs, but this time I added some green curry powder and it was fantastic. Delicious and happily devoured even when cold!!!!

Curried Meatballs
 

Ingredients

4 mushrooms

½ an onion

3 garlic cloves

1 tbsp butter, ghee, or coconut oil

3 carrots

1 tbsp curry

1 lb ground meat

Directions

Preheat oven to 400

Over medium heat, melt fat of choice and sauté mushrooms, onions and 1 clove garlic for about 10 minutes and let cool.

In food processor chop 3 carrots, 2 cloves of garlic and 1 tbsp curry powder.

When the mushroom mix has cooled, add to food processor and mix lightly.

Add 1-pound ground meat and blend again until just mixed. You want to still be acble to see chunks of carrots!

Bake for 30 min.

We ate these babies in a variety of ways, but like most protein in my life it ends up in a salad. Have fun and get creative with how you dish them up. Or simply eat them plain, they're that good!

 

P.S. I also can’t say enough about organifi. On those days when you feel you’re not hitting your green quota, reach for this dried Superfood Greens Powder. (I'm not an affiliate, just love the stuff!)

 

Since I have your attention, humor me two more minutes!

As most of you know, I still take part in the 9-5 hamster wheel as a Marketing coordinator for an engineering firm.

To rewind the scene, I’m taking you back to summer of 2003.

Fresh out of college and totally green, I began my career. It was unrealistically easy to get this job. For one of my journalism classes I interviewed an architecture firm, and in turn, they offered me a job. Yeah, ok!

The thing is, they weren’t sure what to do with me. My beloved, quirky Marketing Manager had worked for a number year on her own. Having this young, naïve person in her space, though there to help, was challenging. As a dog lover, she treated me like a puppy. Are you hungry? Should we go for a walk? She was hesitant, unsure, grateful but inexperienced as a leader.

Yesterday my Marketing Assistant joined our crew. Though younger than my original counterpart, I find myself in a similar position. Judging myself as her mentor and leader, judging her as being a new graduate. How much hand holding do I offer? How much do I share? How much does she care? I have two kids. She’s young, free, and grappling with her new-found home in California, as a new graduate, living with her boyfriend and working in San Francisco. Suddenly I feel old. Disregard the number of years, so many life experiences, separate us.

But I was once her.

I had the boyfriend, the new job, the excitement of years before me. Nothing but money and time to burn, and travel adventures to be had.

As a mother, I tenderly look at her and I wonder if she knows what she’s getting herself into. I wonder if this is her dream or just a stepping stone. I wonder, I wonder, I wonder……

And then I’m grateful for the chance to intersect into her life to mentor her. It will take time, as all things do, but I‘m sure we’ll learn from each other.

Perspective is funny like that, and life never fails to come full circle.

Susie, I get it now….

 

Where do you want to go? How much do you want to risk?

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Change is hard and typically uncomfortable. Despite really, really wanting a particular outcome, the process can be overwhelming. So we cling to what we know, our habits, even if they're preventing us to reach our goals. It's "safe."

Do you feel that?

Let's talk nutrition for a minute.

What's holding you back from getting off of your meds, or incorporating more veggies into your meals, or losing some weight, or nixing the late night binges? Where are you stuck?

There are a lot of quick tricks and programs, shakes, and fad diets. Are you confused and simply want to throw your hands up in disgust and confusion?

While there may be some unique aspects of your lifestyle we would need to address, with some basic and honest assessment, we can work together to get you on a path toward health.

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We don’t need to have superhero powers, but we do need to be the superhero’s of our own lives.

You ARE in more control than you think! Have you forgotten that? I’m here to remind you that you’re not alone in this process, it’s possible to change, and there are people (like me) that would love to walk alongside you!

I began this post thinking I would go in one direction, but hey, the beauty of being the author is that you can change course. And so can you.

I’m not going to dish out all of the reasons the 21-Day Sugar Detox may be good for you. I’m not going to spout off that you’ll more than likely need at least 30 days to get in a good groove. I won’t berate the point that it’s going to take some mindset, and some weekly prep. You may also want to cheat on Day 11. That’s human nature. Reality. And to some degree you most likely know that; that may be why you don’t start.

That’s the beauty of having the accountability of a coach. You have someone to lean on, to reach out to, to vent to. I won’t coddle you and enable the nonsense, but I will lead you. No judgement, only compassion as your cheerleader, wanting to see you succeed.

I know, you probably have a thing, a party, a birthday, a wedding, a trip. Right?! So committing to 21-30 days is rather iffy. But it’s all choices. What will you choose today?

But how? 

Let’s look at your goals, based on the structure of your day: when and what you eat, how much sleep you’re getting, your stress levels, your fears, your exercise. Give me the information and I’ll do all of the heavy lifting to produce a plan. While it will be up to you to follow, like i said before, I will be your cheerleader, and I’m here to change what doesn’t work.

Decide what to be

Based on the heading (can you name that tune?!) of this post and the following line from The Avett Brothers song, "Head full of fear/road full of promise," I’m all about the music these days. However, I thought this song lyric was relevant to close with:


DECIDE WHAT TO BE AND GO BE IT

 - Avett Bros

But in all seriousness, I'd love to help you pinpoint the sticky spots and provide you with tools to create new habits. If you have any gentle nudging to make a change, let's talk it out! 

 

P.S. All of my nutrition clients get extra special goodies from me. But you’ll have to sign-up to find out what they are.

Also, if you want a sneak peek into the food you’ll eat, which is not sad at all, check out my IG as well as the 21-Day Sugar Detox guidebook

Cheers to new beginnings!

 

Wednesday Wisdom: Keep it Fresh


The moment we've all been waiting for is here. Windows are down, the swimsuits are ready, and the sunscreen has been applied. It’s SUMMER y’all! 

Yeah, yeah, it may have snowed last weekend in the Sierras but I'm fairly certain that was nature's last attempt to keep California drought free. We'll see if it worked. Ever since I was a kid I've been on drought watch so it's rather peculiar to say it's over!  

But summer, sun, and all things hot. With Farmer's Markets in full swing, ripe with summer's most delicious bounty of stone fruits, now is the time to make the freshest of fresh meals. I miss my friendly vendors at Pike Place Market and post-church, Sunday Ballard Farmer's Market in Seattle, but a close third is the Lake Merritt Farmer’s Market, in Oakland. My sweet find of english sweet peas induced a foray into buying all of the verdant veggies: baby kale, english peas, and asparagus. 

This salad is so easy, kid approved, and has a good kick of nutrients to boot. Give it a try today.

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 cups baby kale
  • 1 lb asparagus
  • 1 cup English sweet peas, minus the pod
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 2 T olive oil, separated; or just enough to dress (not drown) your greens
  • 2-4 chicken breasts (or a rotisserie chicken)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

Roast, grill, steam or sauté:
1 lb asparagus
1 cup English sweet peas, minus the pod

Grill or roast
2 chicken breasts, preferably marinated in lemon juice for 10 min.

I grilled the asparagus and peas by wrapping them in foil with a bit of olive oil and salt. I then put them on a hot grill for about 15 minutes. You could also roast them in the oven at 400 degrees for the same amount of time. I had a roast chicken, however, an easy way to make chicken is to let it sit in lemon juice, salt and pepper, a minimum of 5 minutes per side. Grill or roast.   

While you’re cooking the asparagus and peas, massage the kale with the lemon, s+p,  and olive oil. Once the veggies are done, toss together with the kale and chicken. Could be topped with shaved Parmesan and pine nuts or almonds.