Archive for the ‘Nutrition’ Category

Snack Attack

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012
I love snacks. For as long as I can remember I’ve had a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack. My choices in what I snack on have changed over the years depending on whether I’m are trying to shed a few lbs, eat healthier, or prevent the mid-afternoon bonk during a workout. Here are a few snack ideas. My snacks are always vegetarian, wheat free, and typically low in grains.


My motto has been “don’t deprive yourself”. If there is a particular snack (or dessert of that matter) that you absolutely love, but may not be the most healthy of choices; don’t try to go without. Have it on certain days; just not every day. During the race season we try to do desserts only on weekends. I say ‘try’. My weekend sometimes starts Friday and ends Monday….

Another option is to ‘water’ down the snack. Add something healthy to it. For example if you like chocolate, then make some trail mix with the chocolate.

Watch the portion size. Set out a single helping of any given snack, rather than keep dipping your hand into the big bag of trail mix or chips.

Here are some snacks I turn to:

-Trail mix
-Raw Bars (homemade or Lara bars)
-Fruit / nut butter
-Veggies / Dip
-Rice crackers
-Cottage Cheese


Green Smoothie

Green Smoothie

Plain Kefir (probiotics)
Almond Milk or water to get the right consistency
Frozen Mango or berries
½ ripe banana (as a sweetener and also potassium)
Big handful of greens (Kale, spinach, beet greens, chard, etc.)
Flax seed oil (or ground up flax seeds)
Chia Seeds
Hemp or brown rice protein powder or scoop of almond butter


Trail Mix

Trail Mix

raw cashews, almonds and peanuts (Trader Joes)
unsweetened coconut flakes (Wholefoods)
raw sunflower seeds (Trader Joes)
Jumbo raisins or apricots or cranberries (Trader Joes)
Carob (Wholefoods)

BARS – recipe can be found here.
2 cup of raw nuts (almonds / cashews / peanuts / walnuts / pecans)
1 cup of (unsweetened) coconut
1 -1 ½ cup of Medjool dates (with pits removed!)
1 cup of dried apricots
½ -1cup of dried berries (cherries, cranberries or goji berries)
½-1 cup of seeds (sesame / sunflower / pumpkin)

Optional ingredients for flavor variations: Lemon zest, cinnamon, vanilla, peppermint extract, Organic cocoa powder, ginger, or carob.





Apple and peanut butter
Pear and almond butter (I really like Trader Joes Raw Crunchy Almond Butter).


Yogurt and Berries

Yogurt and Berries

Plain Greek yogurt with maple syrup or berries
Plain Greek yogurt with granola.

Raw veggies such as carrots, snow peas, sugar peas, zucchini, and celery with a bean dip.
Celery with cream cheese or peanut butter.

Rice crackers with cheese and tomatoes
Rice Crackers with bean dip (hummus or lentil)


Chips & Salsa

Chips & Salsa

Chips with salsa
Chips with black bean dip.

Salsa Recipe:
2 cups Roma tomatoes
½ Cup red Onion, finely chopped
1 glove garlic, finely minced
3 tbsp cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1/8 tsp oregano
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
Chopped green onions
2 tbsp red wine vinegar

Options: 1 serrano chili pepper (stems, ribs and seeds removed), finely diced, corn, peach, mango or black beans.

Bring the chopped tomatoes and onions to a quick boil. As soon at the mixture starts to boil, remove from the heat. Depending on the consistency you like, you may want to strain away some of the liquid. Mix in the other ingredients. Serve as is, or blend.

Black Bean Dip Recipe:
2 cups of cooked black beans.
1/2 cup prepared salsa, hot or mild
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
¼-1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste

Use a potato masher to mix all the ingredients together, or use a hand blender.



Cottage Cheese

Cottage Cheese

Organic Cottage Cheese (I like Nancy’s) with fruit.


CLEAN: Remove, Restore, Rejuvenate. Part 3

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

A little over due;  here is my final update on our 21 day clean diet. We made it to day 19.75.  Not quite the full 21 days.

Clean by Alejandro Junger

Clean by Alejandro Junger

In summary:

– The breakfast smoothies were great.

– The snacks of Larabars (I started to make my own), apple/pear with almond butter, and homemade lentil humus with veggies were all great.

– The bigger main meal lunches were great.

– The evening raw pureed soups were not so great. I normally love soups. Half way through this diet, I was getting pretty bored of the soups.  I didn’t like having one big bowl of the same flavor and nothing to chew. I wanted to sink my teeth into something. It got to the point that we were not enjoying the evening soup at all. It was making us pretty cranky.  So we called it quits at day 19.75.

I really didn’t feel any different on this diet at all. My energy level was about the same. Although by the third week I was pretty hungry.  I lost about 5 pounds in total. John a little more than that. He found that he had serious low energy (even though I was doubling up on the recipe portions). He did sleep better and had really vivid dreams (something the book did talk about). 

Back to Normal:
The transition back to eating our “normal” food wasn’t as gradual as I hoped. I had every intention to just phase certain foods back into our diet. That didn’t happen.  I was so craving certain foods, in particular cheese and yogurt. 

I’m glad we did this. I’d do it again,  or at least a slightly different iteration.  There were some useful things that I got out of the experience:

  1. How hard it is to make changes to the way we eat. We are creatures of habit.
  2. How time consuming it can be to learn how to follow new recipes, use new foods, or new food preparation techniques. It took a lot of planning and thinking ahead.
  3. Once you make the commitment to make the changes and learn how to shop and prepare foods, it becomes easier after that first initial week.  

Some clean diet habits I hope we can continue:

  1. Less grains.  I plan to keep up the green smoothies for breakfast. On the days I know I’m going to workout; I add a scoop of rice protein powder and glob of almond butter to the smoothie.  Eat leftovers for lunch rather than have a sandwich.
  2. Healthy homemade snacks. I really enjoyed the homemade Larabars and the homemade Lentil humus.
  3. Bigger lunch portions, and smaller dinner portions.
  4. Drinking more lemon water
  5. Eat Fruit to satisfy any sweet tooth cravings.

CLEAN: Remove, Restore, Rejuvenate. Part 1

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

Yesterday, Sunday, we started a 21 day detox program called Clean. The program is designed to help the body get rid of toxins. It does this primarily by eliminating certain foods and including others.

Clean: Remove, Restore, Rejuvenate

Clean: Remove, Restore, Rejuvenate

I’ve never followed any particular diet regime before. When it comes to food I like to set my own guidelines and rules.  So this is a first for me. When I mentioned to friends what we’re doing, they asked “what symptoms are you trying to address?”  I’m really not approaching the diet that way. I don’t think I’m trying to address anything in particular. Then why am I doing this?  I’m curious. I’m fascinated with nutrition and have a deep curiosity, so why not.  Plus my husband, John, is game and wants to do it. So here we are.

The low down:
Cut out all foods that are potentially allergens as well as some foods that are highly acidic and mucus forming. On the exclude food list are: soy, dairy, corn, wheat, coffee, alcohol, OJ, bananas, strawberries, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, peanuts, beef, pork, etc.  (By the way this is not a complete list, but it sums it up).  I’m good with all of this, other than dairy. I haven’t eaten soy, wheat, for a while, and don’t drink coffee, or alcohol.  However, I love cheese, yogurt, kefir, etc. It’s where a lot of my protein comes from. This will be the tough one for me.  

The basic meal plan is as follows:
-Smoothie or Juice for breakfast.
-Heavier lunch (millet, quinoa, brown rice, chicken, beans, lentils, veggies, greens, etc.)
-Liquid dinner (raw soup)
-Snacks: almonds, fruit with almond butter, Lara bars (I added this), and lentil humus with veggies



The rules are to only eat foods on the include list, to fast for 12 hours between dinner and breakfast and drink lots of lemon water and green tea.

The book reminds you to Chew your food and take your time eating. The process of breaking your food down starts in the mouth with chewing and mixing the food with saliva. I’ll need to practice chewing the liquids soups!

Besides cutting dairy out, the other tough part for me will be having a light dinner;  a liquid raw soup. I have a healthy appetite. I eat a lot and I struggle to fall asleep if I’m just a little bit hungry.  I think I’ll be maximizing the snacks over the next 21 days.

In preparation I’ve been perfecting an energy smoothie for breakfast for the last 2 weeks. Here is the recipe that is working for me.

Green Energy Smoothie

Green Energy Smoothie

1 cup of almond milk
1 cup of ice/water
extra water to get the drink to the desired consistency
¼ cup of almond butter
1 scoop of brown rice protein powder
1 tsp cardamom
1 cup of frozen mango
bunch of spinach
1 tbsp flax meal
1 tbsp soaked chai seeds (soaking helps release enzymes).
Agave to sweeten




Food Preparation:
The Clean Program recommends that you soak  grains, seeds, nuts and beans before you eat them or cook them.  This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while, so hopefully this will help me get in the habit.  It requires a lot of planning and thinking ahead.  More so than usual. Right now I’ve got adzuki beans, lentils, wild rice, and sun flower seeds all soaking. 

Even though the meals are pretty simple, they are new to me so it’s going to take quite a bit of time to make them. I plan on making two helpings of the lunches to last for two days.  That way I’m only cooking every other day. 

The clean program also suggests taking supplements to help with the whole detox process. You can purchase a 21 day supply of supplements for $450 through the clean website. I decided not to do this. I did visit New Season and got some brown rice protein to add to the breakfast smoothies, and a Phyto-enzyme and a Probiotic supplement.

Plans for when we exercise:
Several times in the book it mentions you can follow this program while following a training program. It says to increase your calorie intake.  Some of the other things we’ll add will be to use an all natural electrolyte drink (Ultima) and Hammer Bars.  These bars are actually made from ingredients that are on the include food list. I’m pretty happy about that.

On-the-Bike Food and Drink

On-the-Bike Food and Drink









Beyond the Food:
During this detox phase we are going to do a few other little things as suggested by the book. One is to make sure we are using natural toiletries: toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, soaps etc.  We pretty much do this already.  There are some pretty good options out there for finding reasonably priced natural ingredient toiletries. Wholefoods have their own “365” brand that is really affordable.  And if you don’t like it, Wholefoods has a great return policy.

To help with the elimination of all kinds of toxins the program also recommends the following:
-Daily Meditation
-Deep breathing
-Quality sleep
-Skin brushing
-Hot/cold showers

Stay tuned for “Part 2”. I’ll give an update in a week.

Periodizing your Diet

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

Most endurance athletes follow a periodized training program: typical periods or phases include base, build, taper, peak, and then a recovery phase. So why not have your diet follow a periodized approach too?

I have a lot of respect for Dave Scott. After all, he was the first six-time Ironman Triathlon World Champion. An amazing athlete, and what I find equally amazing is that during his winning streak he ate a vegetarian diet. So when Dave talks about nutrition, I’m all ears.

Dave Scott

Dave Scott

Dave contributed to a Performance Nutrition Handbook that is available on Pacific Health Lab’s website. Given that it is published on Pacific Health Lab’s website, there is a marketing slant towards their products. However, I think it contains some pieces of good information.

The handbook talks about how your nutrition should follow your different training phases; Off-season, base, and taper/peak. Here’s a summary:

1. During the off-season when you’re not training as much and don’t have the same energy requirements the handbook suggests you cut down on carbohydrates (especially refined carbohydrates) so you don’t gain too much weight. I like that the handbook does acknowledge that it is OK to put on a few pounds in the off-season, but to try to keep the weight gain in check so it doesn’t exceed 3-5 pounds (around 2% of your body weight).

2. During the Base and Build phases of your training is when the energy demands increase, and so therefore the caloric demands too. To ensure proper fueling and recovery make sure you eat 1.8 – 3.6 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight (or 7.2-14.4 calories per pound of body weight).  Make sure you are eating quality carbohydrates throughout the day, and eat them along with protein and fat.

3. Typical taper/peak plans involve a reduction in training volume to make sure you are rested for your big event. This is also a time to watch your calorie intake. The handbook recommends reducing your diet by 300-700 calories per hour of training that you have cut back on. You don’t necessarily make all the reduction in terms of carbohydrates though because you need to make sure you keep your glycogen stores are topped up.   A great point the handbook makes is during this phase to also support your immune system. The last thing you want to do is get sick this close to your big event. Consider taking supplements to help boost your immune system: glutathione, vitamins C and E, and zinc.

My personal experience: I don’t consciously make changes to our diet, but there are some subtle changes that just seem to happen during the year. We do eat different during the off-season. As the training volume reduces, so does the need for calories. We tend to eat smaller portions, less fruit (just because it is out of season), and less energy drinks/bars and gels. It is typical for me to see a 3-4 pound increase in my weight, that is until spring rolls around. Given that I no longer train for an event that requires a multiple week taper, I really don’t do anything different other than no new foods.  And since I have been racing cyclo-cross in the Fall, I do work hard on keeping healthy (vitamins, immune boosting supplements, saline nasal flushes, and lots of quality sleep).

A couple of other good points from the handbook worth highlighting include:

Energy Gels, Bars and Drinks

Energy Gels, Bars and Drinks

-The ideal pre-race meal and race nutrition is very individual. You need to practice during training to find out what best works for you.  There are so many products out there. Some may agree with you, some may not. It’s best to find out what works for you during your training workouts, rather than suffering half through your big event.  If you are doing a long event, find out what drink/food they will have at aid stations and practice using it beforehand to see if it works for you.  I like to have a couple of tried and tested fueling plans.

Race weight

Race weight

-Tips to help achieve your ideal race weight: you don’t necessarily need to try to eat less, but try to make sure the food you do eat is high quality. High quality foods (whole grains, quality fats, organic fresh fruits and vegetables) have more nutrients compared to low quality foods (processed/packaged foods, refined foods, sweets, high calorie drinks, etc.). Try to eat only when you are hungry, and not out of habit.

Quality Foods

Quality Foods

I’ll add my 2 cents in here: make time to plan your meals so you can make sure you are getting good quality nutrients. A little planning goes a long way when it comes to meal quality.

Good Fat versus Bad Fat

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

It’s complicated:
My recent night time reading has focused on nutrition and the relationship between what we eat (or not eat) and our health.  There were several nights it didn’t help put me asleep!  However, I did learn that nutrition is a very complicated topic. It is not just what we eat, but also what we do not eat, and how all the nutrients interact together, and then throw into that mix how our own bodies process food and interact with food, just adds a whole other layer of complexity.

It was this simple question that got me thinking: ‘how come we eat less saturated fats than ever before, yet heart disease in as high as it ever has been?’ As are a lot of diseases such as auto-immune diseases (like arthritis, Parkinson’s, and Lou Gehrig’s diseases), cancer, Alzheimer’s, digestive disorders, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis. Just 2-3 generations ago these diseases weren’t as prevalent. Granted, today physical activity is generally way down, and we are exposed to different environmental influences, but it seems like there may be something we are eating (or not eating) that is also contributing to the more recent increases in these diseases.  This easily becomes a huge topic by looking into fast food, processed food, and how food is manufactured / produced compared to 50-60 years ago. To try and break this topic up into manageable pieces; this blog posting will focus on fat; and in particular the concept of ‘good fat’ versus ‘bad fat’, rancid oil, free radicals, Omega-3 and 6, and cholesterol.

I grew up in England. It wasn’t until I moved to the US in 1990 that I had even heard of the word “Cholesterol”; or even seen any low fat products in the grocery store. I bought into the notion that eating fat, especially saturated fat causes heart disease and makes you fat and I didn’t want to be fat (or have heart disease) so I bought low fat this, and low cholesterol that. It has taken a lot of reading and talking to nutritionalists to convert my way of thinking.

Good fat versus bad fat:
Our bodies need “good” fat to function and thrive, and by good fat, I don’t mean unsaturated versus saturated, but rather stable, fresh fats versus unstable, rancid fats. What do we need fat for? Here are a few reasons:

-building blocks for cell membranes and hormones
-act as carriers for vitamins A, D, E and K
-health of our immune system
-helps with mineral absorption

By depriving our bodies of this good fat and eating too much bad fat can lead to all kinds of consequences (increased cancer, heart disease, immune system dysfunction, damage to the liver, digestive disorders, weight gain, depressed learning abilities and impaired growth).

Fat Classifications:
Saturated fats are very stable. This means they don’t easily go rancid. They tend to be semi-solid or solid at room temperature. Examples of saturated fats are animal fats and tropical oils such as lard, butter, beef tallow and coconut oil.  

These fats tend to be liquid at room temperature, yet they are relatively stable and don’t go easily rancid. Olive oil and nut oils are examples of  monounsaturated fats. These are ideal for salad dressings, and low temperature cooking.

This classification includes oils like soybean, canola, and corn oil. These oils remain liquid even in the refrigerator. They are highly unstable and therefore easily become rancid.

More on Rancid Oils:
Some oils can easily go rancid when exposed to high temperatures, oxygen and light. My naturopath doctor, Dr Peabody, had talked to me about rancid oils. At the time I just didn’t spend the time to figure it out. This time, I am. Here is what I found:

What is rancid oil?
Oil can go bad. It can decompose and become rancid. When oils turn rancid; the aroma, taste and nutritional value are altered and are characterized by free radicals.

How do oils become rancid?
By the process of oxidation. Oxidation is caused by exposing the oils to warm (sometimes room) temperatures, air and light.  Certain oils when used in cooking increases the rate of oxidation and free radical formation.

So what is bad about rancid oils?
Rancid oils contain free radicals.

And what is so bad about free radicals?  
They cause damage to our cells and this damage has been linked to premature aging, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, autoimmune diseases, and cancer. More info..>>

What can be done to fight free radicals?
You can increase your intake of antioxidants, but you can also decrease your intake of free radicals in the first place.

What oils are more susceptible?
Polyunsaturated oils like soybean, canola, and corn oil. These oils remain liquid even in the refrigerator. Most polyunsaturated vegetable oils sold at grocery stores have become rancid to some degree before you even bring them home due to the way they are produced (high heat) and then stored (clear bottles at room temperature).  Some oils are bleached, de-flavored and deodorized at temperatures above 500 degrees. This strips the oils of their flavor and aroma making it impossible to detect their rancidity, but it is still there. Dr. Peabody mentioned that a lot of nuts naturally contain polyunsaturated oils. If you are buying roasted nuts (heat is involved in roasting) make sure they are fresh and have not been exposed to light and air for too long. Or better still, roast the nuts yourself so you know they are fresh and not rancid. 

These oils become very unstable when heated, for this reason, it is recommended to not use polyunsaturated oils in cooking at all.

Polyunsaturated Oils

Polyunsaturated Oils

Other sources of rancid Oils:
If you look at the sauces and dressings you have in your refrigerator they will probably contain polyunsaturated oils. Last year I just threw them all out.  And in their place bought some good quality ingredients for making my own salad dressings.  (I’ll post some salad dressing recipes next week).

Quality Dressing Ingredients

Quality Dressing Ingredients

A word about Omega-3 and Omega-6 and polyunsaturates:
Omega-3 and 6 are essential fatty acids. We can’t make essential fatty acids by ourselves; we need to get them from the food we eat. Up until recently we have eaten diets that give us an omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio of 2:1. However, today this ratio tends to be way out of balance at 10-20:1. Too much Omega-6 is not a good thing, especially when it is out of balance with Omega-3.  This imbalance interferes with the production of prostaglandins, which in turn can result increased tendency to form blood clots, inflammation, high blood pressure, digestive tract irritation, depressed immune function, weight gain, and cancer. So why the imbalance?

Omega-6 is found in polyunsaturated oils in abundance. We have become a society heavily dependent on polyunsaturates. To make this worse, our diets tend to be too low in Omega-3. Thus creating a bigger imbalance. So here is another reason to stay away from polyunsaturated oils.  Another reason driving this imbalance: a lot of modern day agricultural practices have purposely decreased the amount of Omega-3 in fish, meats, eggs and vegetables. For example, eggs from grain fed chickens can have up to 19 times more Omega-6 than Omega-3. Whereas eggs, from chickens feeding on insects and green plants, contain a healthier 1:1 ratio. One good reason to purchase meat and meat products from animals that have had a more natural diet (think organic, free range, grass fed rather than corn fed).

Omega-3 is found in whole grains, leafy greens, beans and seeds.

So what are the good fats?
Duck, chicken, and goose fat, beef tallow, butter, lard, Olive oil, peanut oil, sesame oil, flax seed oil, tropical oils such as coconut oil, palm oil. Yes these fats are more saturated. But according to Sally Fallon, saturated fats give so much to our bodies, for example:
-help to give cell membranes stiffness and integrity
-aid in bone health.
-enhance the immune system
-protect the liver from toxins.   

These fats and oils can also go rancid. Look for oils that have been produced in the absence of high heat (expeller expressed and unrefined; for olive oil I try to buy organic cold pressed olive oil).  And you still need to practice good storage practices.  It is recommended to always keep oil tightly covered, stored in the dark and away from heat (I store olive oil in an dark or opaque bottle, tightly closed in the refrigerator. By the way, it is Ok if olive oil turns cloudy). Generally unopened oils are good for up to one year if stored correctly. Once opened, they’re good for about four to six months. 

Olive oil stored in a dark glass bottle

Olive oil stored in a dark glass bottle

What fats can you use for high temperature (240 degrees plus) cooking?
Solid saturated fats are better for higher temperature cooking, such as lard, beef tallow, butter, and coconut oil. Lard makes a good high temperature cooking oil. As a vegetarian I’ve been using coconut oil and butter.

And what are the bad fats?
-Polyunsaturated oils such as safflower, corn, sunflower, soybean, and canola oils.
-Hydrogenated fats (polyunsaturated fats turned into a solid state) such as margarine and shortening.
-Trans fats and homogenized fats.

What about saturated fat, cholesterol and heart disease?
According to Sally Fallon in her “Nourishing Traditions” book: “Elevated triglycerides in the blood have been positively linked to proneness to heart disease, but these triglycerides do not come directly from dietary fats; they are made in the liver from any excess sugars that have not been used for energy”.

Fat isn’t necessarily the bad guy. One of the best things we can do for our health is to cut out the amount of sugar and refined sweeteners in our diets, not fats. I won’t get started on sugars…not just yet anyway.

So what about cholesterol?
Cholesterol plays many vital roles in the body.
-It helps heal our blood vessels when they get damaged.
-It also helps give our cells the necessary stiffness and stability.
-It also plays a role in maintaining intestinal wall health
-It is a precursor to vitamin D and vital stress hormones.
-It is a weapon against free radicals.

Cholesterol, like fats, can be damaged due to exposure to heat and oxygen. And it is this damaged cholesterol that can injure the arterial cells and aid the buildup of plaque in the arteries. Damaged cholesterol is found in powdered eggs, powered milks, and meat and fish cooked at very high temperatures.

What about fat and weight loss?
Even the “good” fats are still high in calories, so if you are trying to lose weight, you still need to be careful with the amount of fat you consume. That doesn’t change.

As a result of this whole exercise of reading and learning more about nutrition, here are some of the changes that we have made in terms of our fat in our diets:

1. Oils in smaller bottles so they can be used up before they have a chance to turn rancid.
2. And only oils that have been processed and stored in ways that prevent rancidity.
3. I’ve thrown out all store bought salad dressings and canola oils. Replaced them with some good quality ingredients so I can make our own dressings. (I’ll post some recipes next week).
4. Using quality sesame oil, coconut oil, butter, flax seed oil and olive oil.
5. Eating full fat organic products and loving it!
6. Buying organic eggs that have come from free-range cage-free chickens that are not fed a 100% grain diet. (Organic eggs can still come from chickens fed a pure grain diet).  
7. Eating more seeds especially sunflower, pumpkin and flax for good dietary sources of oils. (I grind up flax seeds in an old coffee grinder every morning to add to my granola. And I keep the flax seeds in the fridge).
8. Ice cream…yes, most definitely. Especially Haagen Dazs Five. Love this product. Only 5 ingredients: How ice cream should be made.

Haagen Dazs Five

Haagen Dazs Five

“Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon
“In Defense of Food” by Michael Pollan
“The Conscious Kitchen” by Alexandra Zissu
“Food Inc.” by Eric Schlosser

Making changes to the way we eat…

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

Most of my blog postings to date have had a pretty single focus on food and recipes. Nutrition, meals, food quality and choices are pretty important to me. More so since Indie came along. (Funny how that happens). I’ve always been interested in what we eat and why we make certain food choices.  I’m constantly reading books and articles in an attempt to understand what are considered good choices. And what are considered good food choices changes over time as more is learnt about the complex subject of nutrition. 

It’s easy to read a book that tells us we need to eat more of this, less of that, etc. The hard part is to implement those changes so they become integrated into our daily life.   

Over the last 10 years I’ve worked with many athletes, and it seems to me that making changes to their workout routine is almost easier than making changes to their diet. And when I talk about diet changes, I don’t necessarily mean to loose weight, but to make changes for your health and the planet’s. Here are some ideas that have worked for me, especially when we had to cut out wheat from our diets. (It is nothing new or earth shattering; just simple planning and being honest with yourself). 

1. Take the time to sit down and identify the changes you want to make. Make a list. Do this with your family. 

List making

List making

2. Commit to making an effort to help make these changes. 

3. Prioritize the changes. 

4.  Focus on one change at a time.  Instead of having a big long list of changes and getting overwhelmed, focus on one thing at a time. You’re probably trying to alter some lifelong habits. This isn’t going to be easy. 

5. You might need to clean out your pantry; get rid of temptations,  processed foods, etc. 

6. Make up some rules:  For example; dessert on weekends only, One cup of coffee a day, etc.  Whatever rules you come up with, write them down and look over them often. 

7. Meal planning: Once a week sit down and make up a menu for the week. Get the family involved.

Menu Planning

Menu Planning

Use this menu to write  up your shopping list. This helps in numerous ways. There is no thinking each night “what shall we have for dinner?”,  you only buy food for the menu so you aren’t left with vegetables or other perishables going bad before they get eaten. Also, if you know you get home late from work/activities one evening, you can plan for that. The night before make a meal that works well for left overs the following day. There are websites that offer a meal planning service:

–  The 6 O’Clock Scramble
Dinner Planner
Meal Mixer
Dine without whine
Saving Dinner

As you can see there are lots of resources out there. Most of these websites charge a fee for their service. You get weekly menus and shopping lists.  Unfortunately you still have to go to the store to shop and still cook the meals! I have a feeling I will be writing more about meal planning in a later blog posting. 

Here is a list of changes we’ll be working on in 2011. Some of these are driven by my vegetarianism; others are from recent books I’ve read:
1. Eat more greens
WHY: They are packed with nutrients.
HOW: If I’m not going to eat a salad, I’ll make a super green smoothies, or add spinach/chard to recipes like lasagna, enchiladas, soups, etc. 

Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard

2. Eat more quinoa
WHY: This grain contains all of the essential amino acids.
HOW: I collected a bunch of recipes and my goal is to try one every two weeks. 



3. Make all salad dressings and sauces
WHY: Cheaper and healthier to make your own after everything I’ve read about vegetable/canola oil and how easy it is for some oils to turn rancid. (Rancid oils are a major source of free radicals in our diet. Exposure to air, heat, and light cause oils to oxidize, become rancid, and form free radicals. Free radicals cause damage and disease that include cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s).
HOW: Make sure I have in good olive oil, sesame oil, and vinegars along with lemon juice and dijon mustard. And of course, recipes ready to go.

 4. Eat less sugar/sweetened things
WHY: It’s not good for you: lots of  links to diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
HOW: Cut down on buying foods with sugar in them. I used to eat a PB &  J sandwich every day. I’m trying to cut this out or at least mix it up a little. Eat left overs for some lunches, eat almond butter with honey, or if  I’m at home, eat an omlette or soup instead.

5. Eat more lentils
WHY: Hign in iron
HOW: This is a hard one, because I’m the only one in my family who likes lentils. I plan on cooking a pot of lentils at the beginning of the week. I can then have them on hand to add to my meals.  

6. Learn more about cooking with Miso
WHY: High in Iron
How:  I’ve just ordered a miso cook book: “The Miso book: The art of cooking with Miso”

The Miso Book

The Miso Book

7. Pearl barley
WHY: High in Zinc
HOW: Keep some on hand to easily add to soup and stews. 

8. Eat more blackstrap molasses
WHY: High in Calcium
HOW: I need to research some recipes

9. Eat nutritional yeast.
WHY: High  in B12
HOW: I need to research some recipes

10. Add more fermented and cultured foods
WHY: Introduces good bacteria into the digestive tract
HOW: Eat more yogurt, kefir, miso, buttermilk and sour cream, and drink kombucha.

11. Eat a bigger diversity of grains.
WHY: Diversity is good!
HOW: Visit Bob’s Red Mill more often and use Bob’s Red Mill Cookbook.

Bob's Red Mill Cookbook

Bob's Red Mill Cookbook

 So there you have it. Now that all my “changes” are in print, it makes it more official!
What changes are on your list for 2011?