Saturday, January 29, 2011

Healthy Kitchen Basics

Planning and preparation is the key to success when it comes to making major lifestyle changes.  Having the right tools to work with can help making transition an easier process.  Having a well-stocked kitchen will provide you with the tools you need to move forward with preparing healthful meals. Taking the time and making the effort to add to your cooking repertoire can prove to be a valuable investment as you begin creating quick and easy recipes that provide better quality, fresh and delicious alternatives to prepackaged convenience food. Some things take so little time to prepare but it’s just a matter of being organized with having the right products on hand for quick and easy preparation.

Stocking the Pantry

Nut Milks
Rice Milks
Almond Milk
Maple Syrup
Agave Nectar

Coconut Milk
Sunflower Seeds
Pumpkin seeds
Baked chips
Dried Fruit/Nuts

Dried Herbs & Spices

Dried Mushrooms
Hoisin sauce

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Canola Oil
Grapeseed Oil
Peanut Oil
Walnut Oil
Coconut Oil
Apple Cider
Brown Rice
Whole Grain
Whole Grain
Whole grain
Canned Goods
*look for cans labeled BPA free

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Making Healthy Choices

Making the right food choices can enhance our health and quality of life.  The energy that we’re able to expend is only as good as the quality of the food we take in and our body’s ability to assimilate and utilize the nutrients.  We can’t expect our bodies to perform efficiently if we regularly choose foods that are high in fat, sugar additives and preservatives.  Eating poorly over long periods of time can disrupt our body’s ability to process food properly.  It can overburden the liver, which can in turn create stagnation and cause other metabolic systems in the body to perform less efficiently.

Health and fitness is much more than burning the calories that we consume to maintain a healthy weight.  It’s the total package of feeling well from the inside out mentally and physically.  Exercise and good lifestyle choices are imperative to maintaining good health.  If we’re not feeling well and our body is not functioning properly, it’s difficult to follow through with exercise.
Managing stress is another important consideration.  Not only do we need to manage the mental aspects of stress, we also need to manage the physical aspects. The stress that we encounter mentally affects us physically through biochemical reactions. The more we internalize mental stress, the more it takes its toll on our bodies.  Incorporating stress management techniques such as deep breathing and meditation can alleviate many of the side affects that stress can create. When we impart physical stress on our bodies by overburdening our systems with excesses, lack of sleep and improper nutrition it will eventually it wear on the body’s ability to function properly. Clarifying things mentally gives us a clear perspective on what we need to do to improve our lives.  When you put things in proper perspective the path to moving forward becomes free and clear of obstacles.  Mental preparation yields clarity and conviction and supports creating a positive environment for making positive healthy choices.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Healthy Balanced Living

By the time most of us get around to starting a new diet and exercise program our bodies are far from ready for peak performance.  We are often suffering from a near state of exhaustion from a pattern of bad dietary choices, stress, and a lack of exercise.  By supporting our bodies nutritionally, we’re able to heal, energize, revive and rejuvenate; creating a platform for good metabolic function, weight management and physical fitness.  Reconstructing our diet begins with rebalancing our plates.  A diet centered on fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats can significantly reduce our risk of developing illness and possibly increase longevity.  The quality of the food we eat can directly affect our health as well as provide fuel to meet our fitness goals.

Eating a variety of nutrient packed foods is a basic a source of vitamins, minerals, fiber and phtyonutrients.  A good way to maximize the benefits from the fruits and vegetables you choose is to incorporate a variety of colors in your produce selections.  The different colored fruits and vegetables provide phytochemicals that contain compounds that have specific beneficial health related functions. Dividing your plate into ¼ protein, ¼ whole grain and half vegetables provides a good guideline for creating a balanced plate.  By avoiding processed foods, sugar and  excess saturated fat, you can greatly diminish your need to count calories as long as you exercise variety, moderation and balance between energy input and energy output.  With a sensible approach to eating and a productive and consistent exercise program achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is an attainable goal.

 Being overweight can be viewed as an energy imbalance. While genetics, diet and lifestyle choices are contributing factors to weight gain, it is mostly a measurement of more calories consumed and not enough calories being used.  Reversing that trend and winning the battle of the bulge is not an easy undertaking but the right motivation and mindset can work wonders in helping you to achieve your goals.  Set realistic and attainable goals and create strategies that will foster permanent change.  With approximately 30 minutes of moderate physical activity daily and wise food choices you can expect to achieve slow and steady weight loss and be well on your way to healthy balanced living.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Seasonal Winter Cooking

The winter season is instinctually a time of reflection, a time to slow down.   It’s a time for nourishing our mind and body and building up our reserves.  Living in harmony with the winter season corresponds to introspection, rest and replenishment.  It’s about eating foods that rejuvenate, nourish and build the body’s immunity.
Winter is the right time to prepare slow cooked meals, nourishing soups, stews, seasonal vegetables, whole grains and beans.  Maintaining harmony by directing your diet toward food in season is a good way to support your health during the winter season.  Not only does choosing seasonal foods benefit our personal health it also supports sustainability and the local economy.  Winter is the most challenging time of year to try and maintain that philosophy.  The scarcity of locally available product gives us the opportunity to redesign our diet to encourage making the best use out of the products that are in season.  It’s an opportunity to become better acquainted with foods we might otherwise shy away from.  Look at the nutritional qualities of foods and make use of the foods that best support your individual constitution and can boost your immunity for the cold winter season.  So get creative and become inspired to create wonderful ways to warm your winter plate with a wealth of seasonal foods.

Seasonal Produce-Winter

Bok choy                                            
Brussels Sprouts                                  
Collard greens                                     
Jerusalem artichokes
Sweet potatoes
Swiss chard
Winter Squash                                     

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Our Connection to Food

Our relationship and connection to food can be quite profound.  It nourishes us and brings us closer together with the ones we love.  Creating a beautiful meal can at times feel as complex as orchestrating a symphony.  Enjoying a fabulously prepared meal can even feel magical as you appreciate the finesse and subtleties of fine cuisine.
Despite our good intentions many of us end up eating less than healthy as we try and keep up with our fast paced lives.  When we loose touch with the integrity of our dietary practices our health suffers. Eating a diet consisting of whole foods with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables will eventually payoff with the reward of increased energy and a feeling of well being.

Menu planning and food preparation can seem overwhelming at times.  But there’s something to be said about appreciating food in its simplicity.
 Enjoying food in its natural state can be a fresh and fast way to jumpstart a healthy diet. 

Building a healthy cooking repertoire using fine fresh ingredients and healthy cooking technique is a wonderful foundation to continually build upon.  But most importantly, respect the cycles of nature and choose seasonal foods that are at the peak of quality and freshness and appreciate the simplicity of nature’s seasonal bounty.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Cultivating Awareness

By evaluating our health and taking responsibility for making changes in our diet and lifestyle is one the first steps toward conscious living. Diet plays a big part in determining the state of out health.  Eventually bad habits take their toll. As we cultivate awareness of how our bodies feel we begin to recognize more clearly how the food we eat can impact our health.  If we don’t correct bad habits and allow small problems to develop into chronic conditions, the consequences for our actions or lack of action can become significant.

In addition to developing awareness of our diet, it’s also important that we become aware of dangers of the chemicals we introduce into our homes with everyday cleaning products, personal care products and anything that may expose us to potentially harmful chemicals.  Residual chemicals can remain stored in the body and is thought to disrupt the delicate chemical balance in the body in certain individuals and may cause long term health problems.

Rather than think of dietary changes as deprivation you should cultivate awareness of the life giving properties of a healthy nutritious diet and consider it to be a source of empowerment for your mind and body.  Think in terms of adding better quality food to your diet rather than what you’re being deprived of.  As you begin to make a conscious effort at providing a wide variety of healthy options including fruits, vegetables and whole grains you will eventually eliminate the desire to have less healthy options. 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Creating Balance

It’s up to each of us as individuals to establish a sense of balance and well being in our lives.  It’s more than simply managing the work-life balance.  It’s about establishing harmony with the mind, body and spirit. Creating balance in your life depends on a certain degree of time management but it’s much more than managing time.  It’s about making room for quality time in your life. 

 Often times we try and take our bodies to the limit of what it can handle until we finally start making changes in our lifestyle. We should strive to push ourselves to our fullest potential while at the same time recognizing and honoring our personal limitations.

Yoga and meditation are great ways to help create balance in your life.  Both yoga and meditation have the ability to reduce stress, energize the mind and body and help cultivate clarity and peace of mind.  Even just taking a walk can have great health benefits. Making time in your life for introspection and reflection can help you to get in touch with your potential and purpose and help to maintain balance and promote self healing and contentment.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Making Time for Change

In the midst of our busy schedules we need to carve out some time to quiet the mind and cultivate inner peace.  Use that time to get in touch with your inner self and discover your source of your inspiration.  Getting in touch with the core reason you want to change will become a great source of energy and motivation to drive you to follow through with your goals.  The personal time we have in each day can be limited so it’s important not to get too lost in perfectionism and start with small steps toward moving forward.  Try your best to stay positive and allow yourself time for reflection and to clear your mind of negative and self defeating thoughts.  Be sure to take good care of yourself when rising up to new challenges.  Restoring the body and mind with proper rest and nutrition will provide you with energy, motivation and a sense of well being. 

Making the decision to be committed is one thing, taking action and following through is another.  Think of taking action as letting go; letting go of the resistance and fear that holds you back from making lasting change.  Think of taking action as cultivating inner strength and as a source of empowerment.  Through perseverance and repetition you will eventually overcome the obstacles and struggles that creating a new pattern of behavior can bring.  It’s widely recognized that it takes approximately 21 days to break an old habit and replace it with a new one.  There may not be factual validity to that claim but it’s worth giving it a try as a tool to helping you to achieve success. 

Try not to take on too much at once and keep your expectations manageable.  Keep pushing yourself past your perceived limitations without beating yourself up for not achieving goals that were initially set too high.  Have flexibility with yourself and your plans and celebrate the small achievements you make along the way on your road to success.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Commitment to Change

By now most of us have contemplated the changes we intend to make during the New Year.  Now the hard part comes as we try to implement lasting change.  Change is a process that involves commitment and perseverance.  Lasting change manifests as a result of contemplation, conviction and action.

  We often jump into change without being fully committed.  If we’re ambivalent about our need and ability to change our chances for lasting success is limited. It’s common that it takes more than one try to be successful with an attempt for permanent change.  We need to allow ourselves the opportunity to grow from failure by cultivating a nurturing environment. Setbacks and disappointment are opportunities for growth and it is often just what we need to come back with the strength and conviction we need to see lasting results and permanent change. If at first you don’t succeed simply try again.  It may take some time and patience to gain the proper perspective that is needed to be successful with achieving life changing goals.

Strength, perseverance, determination and commitment are keys for a successful strategy for change.  It’s important to keep in mind that restoring balance and cultivating peace and harmony in our lives will promote clarity and the ability to recognize our true purpose and potential.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Beginning a New Year

As we begin our journey into a New Year it’s the perfect time to evaluate and identify imbalances in our lives.  It’s a great opportunity to be open to change and transformation.   Change brings with it the chance to let go of old habits and patterns of behavior and replace them with positive healthy choices. 

While it’s important to define our goals and set our intentions we should also be conscious of living in the moment and being open to possibility. Embrace each moment as it bridges the way into the future you dream of. Take the time in your daily life to connect with your inner self, spark creativity and discover and nurture what’s in your heart.

 Make a commitment to create a life that you love!  Approach the New Year with acceptance, gratitude and positive thinking. Cultivate love, joy and passion and follow your heart on your path to self discovery .Celebrate moving forward into a New Year and embrace the possibility that lies ahead.