Americans don’t eat enough vegetables….so here’s a way to bridge the gap (recipe)

It’s no surprise to you that we, on average, are a little light on the vegetable side.  According to the 2011 statistics, the majority of us are either overweight or obese.  Off-white eating alone won’t necessarily prevent weight gain.  Whole grain flours, natural sweeteners and unrefined foods are just as calorie-dense as the white stuff (but they have fiber, are more filling, and have valuable nutrients so don’t you dare stop eating them!).

But, let’s get real.  You gotta each some veggies too.  Not just some, but actually a lot of veggies – like 2-4 cups/day of veggies.  Like veggies at every meal every day.  Yeah, it’s no easy feat. But we can do this together, I promise.

Oh, and they say that the #1 vegetable consumed is….wait for it….POTATOES!  Yep, you probably knew that.  French fries are the #1 vegetable consumed, if you can even really count that as a vegetable.  With things like French fries and ketchup counting as vegetables we are going to be in a sad state unless we change our approach to vegetables.

So, I have a solution.  Since we apparently love potatoes, but need to eat more veggies, why not find foods that bridge the gap.  For instance, this potato-sneak-a-peek-leek soup.  Not only does it have potatoes, but you get a peek of asparagus, kale, parsley, and onions also.  But just a peek, because they are almost all pureed in with the potato, so you won’t even know it’s there.  Trust me.  This soup is so dang tasty and is especially nice with Aidell’s Chicken Sausages.  Yum.

2 Tbsp Olive oil
2 large leeks, the dark end trimmed off and the white part cut in half and cleaned thoroughly.
1 medium onion, chopped into 1/4″ pieces
3/4 cup chopped parsley
1 1/2 cups chopped asparagus, discard ends
2 tsp sea salt, pepper, coriander
5 potatoes – something like Yukon gold – a bit creamier than a Russet or Idaho
1 1/2 cups  chicken stock
1 cup water
2 cups finely chopped kale

In a large stockpot, heat the oil on medium heat.  Finely chop the leeks.  Mix the leeks, onions, parsley and spices into the stockpot.  Cook on med for about 5 minutes, stirring about every 30-seconds.

Cook until the onions are translucent.  Next, add the chopped asparagus

Once added, mix in the stock and water.  Bring to a boil.  Once boiling, add the chopped potatoes and stir.  Cook, covered, for about 20-minutes.  Check to ensure the potatoes are soft but not mushy. 

Next, use an immersion blender to puree.  If you don’t have one – get one.   I have the Food Network imimmersion blender.  It’s okay, but I’d rather have the Cuisinart.  If you can’t get one, they you can put the soup in the blender and pulse for a few seconds.


And finally, add the kale.  I prefer the texture of the soup with the kale unblended, but it’s up to you.


And, lst but not least…ENJOY!


Don’t be a hater…not even to sugar and ESPECIALLY not to yourself….

Recently there has been talk of the devil.  The sugar-devil, that is.  First, Dr. Lustig out of San Francisco, created this video expounding all the evils of the white stuff (and even the not-so white stuff that is still sugar, like honey and agave).

It’s quite a long video, but worth a watch.  He’s a dynamic speaker and very passionate about his work. I’ve chatted with him at a meeting in SF once, and I have to say, I agree with a lot of what he advocates for.

In full rebuttle fashion, a recent article by Dr. David Katz, came out cautioning us to see sugar as public enemy #1.  I too agree with him.

But here’s the approachI don’ t see taken enough in the debate about food and diet: The personal experience and personal responsibility around eating.  I have worked with enough people (in addition to my own sugar journey) to know that demonizing a food, calling for taxes, policies, and political action, does not usually do a damn thing to stop individual behavior.  Think about it:  does knowing that sugar contains calories, can cause you to feel a drop in mood, can contribute to diabetes and heart disease and obesity really stop you from eating it when those strong, deep rooted cravings are activated?

I don’t think it does.  What I think stops you (if you abstain) is a  commitment to something greater and stronger than the call for the sweet stuff.  The power isn’t in the knowledge about sugar facts, it’s in your own experiential knowledge of what you want for yourself – how you want to feel, what you want to look like, what all the benefits of NOT eating sugar are.  And that power has the ability to help you navigate life in a far-greater way than just knowing a bunch of facts about foods and using black-and-white classifications of them.

And then there’s the self-esteem issue.  When we demonize a food, and then we consume it, what does that do to our sense of self? Nothing good, I can tell you that.  When I eat something that I think is ‘bad’, I feel bad.  Feeling bad does not inspire me to do good.  It motivates me to keep feeling shameful, eating in secrecy, living in denial or feeling a push-pull battle with the thing that I’m trying to resist.

This is NOT helpful.  No matter what taxes or bans we put on food, if people are compelled to eat them, they will – especially if they are in the middle- to upper-class income bracket and can afford the extra cost.  We still need to couple policy change with tools of self-awareness and self-esteem building.  We need to rally around the idea that each of us has the innate knowledge to know what is truly best for us, and to make food choices from that place.  This is NOT easy to teach, by any means.  It’s a slow process requiring patience and the undoing of a lot of really convoluted knots that come from mix-messages about food, family, culture, and self.

But, I’m up for the challenge…are you?

Can you take on the personal responsibility of your own food choices and advocating for policy that includes some attention to looking at the inner-drive to consume sugar-filled treats?  Can we promote programs that address behavior change instead of blaming sugar for being what it is?

IF you eat sugar, you are not evil.  Sugar itself is not evil.  It is only as powerful in our lives as we let it be.

Okay, off the soapbox for the day.

Are we expecting too much from our gum?

The expectations on gum to perform have really gotten out of hand.

In my opinion, it all started back in 1985 with commercials like the one below for the Doublemint Twins that were selling sexual energy….err, I mean Doublemint gum.


Really? Did any of you ever have the experience of meeting two super gorgeous, super gregarious twin and having an amazing moment of chemistry when you popped this gum in your mouth? Yeah, me either.
Things haven’t gotten any better. Today when I was buying gas, I saw a gum on the counter that I’d never seen before from Extra. It was Key Lime Gum, part of their Dessert Delights lime. Don’t like key lime? No problem, there’s an apple pie option, an orange creme option and don’t forget mint chip. Something for everybody, sugar-free of course.

While some many think of gum as a healthier alternative to actually consuming the real food you desire, I think the exact opposite. To me, chewing gum to get a dessert fix would be like going to a strip club expecting to find love. It’s going to leave you terribly unsatisfied and still wanting the real thing. Between the promise of whisking you away to a refreshing oasis, to preventing your headaches, to offering you vitality, it’s just too much for one 1/2″ of gum to do.

The other issue I have with gum is that it perpetuates the expectation that we should constantly be having complex taste experiences in our mouth at all times. As it is our culture is so biased toward flavor and sweet, we come to expect those flavors in our meals, beverages, toothpastes, breath mints and of course gum. The Trident “layers” gum is an example of that: 3 layers of flavor, all of this overtly or subtly sweet. We just don’t need it. What is it doing to our brains to know we can get a quick rush of flavor like that whenever we want? Won’t it keep us wanting for more (and possibly the really thing, like that piece of apple pie).

Maybe I’m just biased because I haven’t chewed gum since 2005. Yep, I’m “gum abstinent”. It had to happen. I was chewing gum like a fiend, hoping it would quell the craving for what I really wanted, which was an endless supply of donuts and ice cream. I kept hoping for the promise of satisfaction, but got farther and farther from it. I was up to a pack a day of sugarless gum. I chewed it pretty much non-stop and never ONCE did it stop me from eating or tasting the foods I really wanted when they were available to me. If anything, it just primed me to expect flavor and a mouthful of bliss on a constant basis.

What helped me kick the habit? Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). It’s a form of energy therapy that involves using affirmation statements and tapping on various accupressure points. For me, it was amazing, but I was also really ready to change.

So maybe I’m challenging you to look at why you chew gum, especially if you are a chronic chewer. Gum chewers don’t actually consume less calories than non chewers, and some of us experienced digestive issues and jaw discomfort from the hours and hours of chew, chew, chew. What about you? Is gum a security item for you? Do you feel like you can’t go into a meeting, a long car ride, or just go through the day without your little fix? Does it perpetuate your expectation for flavor experiences during the day, especially those that involve sweet?
I think it’s time to bring a bit of this spotlight to this tiny treat. It may be playing a bigger role in your carb cravings, food addictions, and unhealthy habits that you’ve given credit to.
Don’t underestimate the power of the gum. They don’t make all those flavors and spend all that money on marketing for nothing!

Soupa star!


Lately this soup has been rockin’ my world.  Those who know me well (like my huz, who will make fun of me incessantly about it) know that for a soup to be good in my book, it’s gotta be hearty.

That is why when I click on the Pacific Natural Foods website and I see a whole category devoted to “hearty soups”, I’m stoked.  Technically the black bean option, my personal favorite, is in the creamy soup category but who is counting, right?

Why am I so stoked on soup you ask?  Let’s just say that wintertime soup, as an afternoon snack, serves the role that a nice frothy smoothie plays in offering me solace and harmony on a hot summer day.  It’s the Yin to my Yang. It balanced me out.  And after you read below you too are going to want to grab yourself a carton of this ready-made delight OR go for it and make your own.

Let’s say it’s about 3pm and your feeling that mid-afternoon energy lull.  You’re hungry – slightly, but more like you have the munchies.  You’re restless from working all day and a tasty treat gives you the mouth experience of a little vacation from the daily tasks.  Now it would be REALLY tempting at this time to grab a coffee drink (do you need more caffeine?), a crunchy, munchy snack (is it a good idea to go down that carb-craving road?) OR you could satisfy your urge with a modest yet flavorful cup o’ soup.

Here’s what I know:  When I sip on a cup full of this spicy, yet creamy soup it warms my tummy, it satisfies my flavor palate, it gives me a strong sense of having made a good choice for my body, and it keeps me from craving sugar as soon as I’m off of work.  Halleluiah!!

I’m telling you bloggies, do NOT underestimate the power of a little afternoon soup.  PS: I once had a client who ate soup for breakfast every day.  After months of trying to get her diet in balance and avoiding breakfast only to over-eat carbs and soda later, she went the unconventional route and enjoyed about 10 oz of roasted red pepper soup every day before work.  Guess what?  She shed 20 unwanted and unneeded pounds. Soup is no miracle worker, for sure.  But it certainly can be a simple, inexpensive tool in your toolbox that helps keep you on the road to wellness.

Go soup!

PPS: I’d love to you your favorite soups!

Eat More Kale, baby!



Have you Heard of the the Eat More Kale Guy, Bo, out of Vermont?  This guy is a hero of mine.  And like most heroes, there is always a nemesis.   In this case, it’s Chick-Fil-a, a southern-based Fast-food chain that sells tasty bits like the Chick-n-minis, seen below:


Why the conflict?  Because Chick-fil-a seems to think Mr. Eat More Kale stole their slogan, Eat More Chicken.  So they are suing and they have deep pockets.

Personally, beyond the absurdity of their case and my love for supporting the little guy, when I see the picture above and I think about the lush, vibrant green color of kale, there is NO CONTEST as to where I would direct my food loyalty.  Kale wins.  Every time. Maybe that is why Chick-Fil-a is so upset:  Bo and the magic of his T-shirts and stickers up in Vermont are actually raising the awareness around the awesomeness of kale.  Yeah!  Maybe less people will want poor quality fried chicken parts wrapped in a starchy white bun served by a grumpy 19-yr old through a drive-through window.  Maybe more people will see kale is part of a hip, cool counter-culture food choice that says you support the little man and do the unconventional: EAT your veggies!

Well, wherever this Eat More Kale adventure goes, I’m in!  Not only do I have my stickers, ready to share with friends and family (you can buy them on his site for $.50) but I’m also reinvigorated in my efforts to encourage folks to eat more kale.  Why is kale so great?  Glad you asked.  Here are my top 5 reasons for loving Kale:

1.  It’s an anti-sugar craving food.  What?  Yes, that is what I said. The chlorophyll and the trace minerals like chromium and selenium, can help curb sugar cravings.  If you’ve been living on a diet high in refined foods and not listening to mom’s advice to eat your veggies, you may need a  boost of these nutrients and kale is plentiful in trace minerals, chlorophyll, as well as calcium and iron.  Same goes for other cruciferous veggies and dark, leafy greens.

2.  It’s so versatile.  You can kale raw in a salad, throw it in your green smoothie, make a frittata or omelette, sneak it into soups, meatloaf, lasagna, and really anywhere that you would use spinach.  It tastes great raw or cooked, baked or braised. 

3. Kale is a superstar antioxidant.  That means it heals your body deal with something called ROS: Reactive-oxygen-species.  They create a cascade of reactions that end up damaging your cells (aging, disease) Sound serious, doesn’t it?  We all have them in our bodies all the time, but the carotenoids and vitamin K found in kale can kick the ROS right outta dodge and put your body back in order.  This is as GOOD think if you’ve been eating a lot of sugar or processed food, which promotes inflammation.  Kale and other greens, as well as herbs like parsley, can combat this.

4. It’s easy to grow.  This is good news for those, like me, who do NOT have a green thumb.  It’s a very hearty, winter plant that is not very pursnickity in it’s need for ideal climate.  Growing kale means saving money (it can expensive to buy) and having a plentiful supply.  At just 35 calories/cup, you can stand to incorporate kale into your diet every day!

5. It’s so pretty, isn’t it?  Kale comes in all varieties and colors, like these


So, whatever type of kale you enjoy (my fav. is Dino kale), just EAT MORE KALE!

a near miss

yesterday was a tough day.  I was working on a grant all day, and mid-way through we decided to do a 180 with our direction.  Bleh.  Then, the DMV still hasn’t sent my tags in the mail.  Double Bleh.  THEN……you get the idea.

So after a long and wonderful walk with my friend D. I was still stressed and guess what? I craved sugar.  Big shocker, right?  Not just sugar but specifically cake frosting.  Not just cake frosting but the kind at the slices of cake at Safeway.  And even more specific than that – the white cake with the white frosting only, please.  If you’re thinking “….umm, doesn’t she know that is totally gross.  I mean, she is the Off White Living girl…..”. Yes, yes I do.  But what can I say.  When my lizard brain acts up, it want what it wants, and nothing else will do.

So there I stood and D’s house, half of my attention on saying my good-byes and the other half on calculating how fast I could get to Safeway and what kind of line there would be so I could get my cake and eat it too! (Clarification: I don’t eat the cake, just the frosting – which is even more ridiculous, don’t you think!).

I got in my car still plotting my escape into trans-fat and white sugar heaven when a little voice in me spoke up.  It said this “What if….just this once…you saw what would happen if you drove home instead?  All you have to do is make it past Poleline road and you’re in the clear.

Now, a dilemma began in my brain.  Only 97% of me was on board with this whole cake idea.  I drove away.  Then another voice spoke up “yeah, you just walked and you are feeling so good, and wouldn’t it feel better to see Matt after a long day than eat that cake and feel crappy about yourself?”

Egads! Now only about 70% of me was into this whole cake frosting business.  I’m driving towards Poleline – a new voice, louder than the others.  “Yeah, you don’t really need that frosting.  What is that going to do for you? Write the grant?  Make you happy?  It never does, does it?”

And it went on like this for approximately 6 minutes until….vioala!  I was home and no cake had been harmed during the time between leaving D’s house and rolling into my driveway.  I DID it!

And you know what??? I woke up this morning feeling SO FREAKIN’ GOOD that I didn’t eat that silly, ridiculous, unnecessary, make-me-feel-bad-about-myself cake frosting.  Instead I went home, kissed Matt, ate dinner and went on with my night!

Score one for yours truly and NADA for that frosting. 

You can do it too.  If I can do it…girl that fantasizes about cake frosting….you can too!!

apply your best strength to your biggest food behavior challenge

I love positive psychology.  It’s a field of study that invests in the understanding of optimism, and how to cultivate self-efficacy.  It’s awesome.

Today I watched Martin Seligman talk about positive psychology in this really nice, fairly short video:

My take away from it was this:  How can we apply our biggest strength to the food issue that keeps snagging us up?  Instead of feeling defeated or hopeless, what about reframing the situation through the lens of your biggest strength.  For me, I see social intelligence as high on my list of strengths yet I rarely reach out for social support around food issues in the moment of them.  I might be stressed and want to eat a bunch of sugar at a gathering b/c I am stuffing my stress, when maybe I should share and connect around it instead.  Hmm….I am going to try this!

I invite you to look at the food behavior which is hanging you up and see if you can deal with it by harnessing your biggest strength.  Wouldn’t it be interesting to see what could happen, without having any expectations.  Just experiment.  Oh, this could be FUN!

Is your belief greater than your doubt?

Happy New Year Bloggies!

I hope that the goings on of 2012 so far are to your satisfaction.  I know they are mine! 

So, there is no skirting around the discussion of a little thing called new years resolutions.  Not into it?  Okay, how about new years intentions, which seems to be the lingo de jour.  Whatever you call them, a lot of folks out there are making plans, setting intentions, putting energy into making some kind of change in 2012.

And let’s be honest.  A LOT of those resolutions center around weight loss, or rather lifestyle changes, as they are termed now (which I also think is better and more indicative of the process).

Wanna know what the common denominator is in all your resolutions, be them to reduce your sugar intake or stop smoking or lose 20 lbs?  YOU! You are the factor in all those resolution equations.

What I’ve discovered after years of coaching women to make those lifestyle changes that result in weight loss or sugar abstinence or more vitality (or whatever your goal) is that the investment you make in getting your head in the game is far more important than all the extrinsic planning you do around grocery shopping, getting the gym clothes out the night before, etc.

When I was doing my coaching training through Wellcoaches, there was a common saying that worked its way into our training:


Think about this statement.  There is tremendous power in harnessing your inner-faith (or having the unrelenting faith of a  coach) when beginning a change process.  It means that no matte what, you can do it.  You are capable.  The difference between your making the choice that aligns with your goals and the choice that doesn’t is usually a mindset issue rather than a circumstance.

When you begin to claim your own power and truly have more belief in yourself than doubt you will see amazing things happen and your resolutions (excuse me, intentions) will unfold like flowers opening up to the morning sun.  Easy peasy.

In my opinion, the beginning, middle, and end of any diet program also must be accompanied with a mental/emotional program to fundamentally change and align your thinking and cellular experience with your goal.  That is what coaching does.  It isn’t about telling you what to eat or how many sugar gram are in that energy bar – it’s about helping you to feel efficacious so that you can face any situation: the buffet of desserts at a friend’s baby shower or a lonely night and a pint of ice cream in the freezer with the BELEIF that you are capable of handing your emotions, choices and that you are worth it.

I don’t know a lot of you who read this, but whomever you are: my belief is greater than your doubt.  I’m holding space for you that 2012 can be your year.  It is possible, and it’s not about what book you buy or what tool you use to stay on track – it’s about how you feel and think about yourself that will make all the difference.

As for me and my new years intentions – it is really about that phrase entirely : my belief becoming greater than my doubt in all aspects of my life.  When I live and operate from this place several magical things happen: sugar does not call me to soothe my fears, and I am more open minded to possibilities around me.  Aaah….yes, some things are sweeter than sugar!

What I’m bringing to Christmas dinner

I’m that girl.  You know, the one who insists on throwing a curve ball on the decadence streak that seems to accompany all holiday meals with my family.  This year is no exception.  I wasn’t alone this year, however, as even my mom suggested we saute some kale to offset  the leg of lamb, prime rib and homemade tamales that will grace our table.  Wow!  What can I say, even Mom is uncomfortable when there are too many brown things on the table

My contribution to the holiday meal, you ask? Simple.  Now that mom actually trusts me to prepare something other than rolls or wine, I’m making this rice dish as well as an awesome green bean salad from the America’s Test Kitchen cookbook (thanks D. for the borrow!).  It’s an elegant and simple combo of fingerling potatoes, green beans, vinegar and radicchio.  Yum in a bowl.

Before you hoist me up on that food pedestal for the holiday meal, I want to offer full disclosure.  We are making this quiche for Christmas morning, crust and everything.  Hey, it was a compromise. I was able to bargin down from the Paula Dean recipe which makes the one we are choosing look like a weight-watcher’s meal.  Sheesh!

Anyway, if you too are ‘that girl’ at holiday meals, I’d love to know what you are bringing to balance out the dinner table.

No matter what you eat – and even if you eat all your Christmas candy in one sitting only to throw up later (like I did every year as a kid), I hope you have a fantastic Christmas holiday!

What is your diet costing you?

Don’t you hate going to the grocery store and seeing the rising costs of food?  Kale $2/bunch?  Almond butter at $10/jar. Yes, it’s out of hand.  Though, surprisingly Americans spend less than 10% of their income on food. Really.

But I’m not really talking about the direct costs involved with eating healthy.  Yes, the price of eggs rose 28% in the past year, and supposedly due to a peanut crop shortage we should be seeing a hike in peanut costs (all the more reason to eat Valencia PB, right?  Grown in NM they are aflotixin free!).

I’m talking about the cost of your diet on your indirect cost of health care.  The biggest health care debt burdens of individuals and populations is due to the preventable diseases: Cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes (and obesity, which is linked to these diseases).  Wanna play a little game?  You can download this cost-burden calculator from the CDC and see what the cost burden is in your state for whatever population you put in (or just use their default) for various chronic diseases.  When I played with it for California alone it estimated over 2.5 BILLION DOLLARS in costs for diabetes and heart disease based on current statistics!

Further, when you have a  chronic disease, even when you have insurance, you are still paying out of pocket for some expenses like medications or uncovered treatments AND you might be losing work hours/functionality because of illness.  I am no economist, but I’m thinking this is no-bueno on your pocket book.

So, let’s get back to diet and how it relates.  Imagine just spending an additional $10/week on items like fresh green vegetables, high quality meat and eggs, and whole grain products instead of processed grain products.  Imagine swapping out one sugar sweetened beverage (at say $3) for one more fruit or vegetable or non-sweetened beverage.  We think about the moment-to-moment spending as so burdensome when we are at the checkout, but are we thinking about the return on investment for eating healthy?  

I admit that it doesn’t cross my mind as often as it should to see my food as my medicine.  It is the easiest, tastiest, most diverse way for me to prevent illness, next to exercising and managing my stress.  Oh, and those last two things are also lumped into the category of “I can’t afford”…… meanwhile internally your body is dealing with the burden of NOT having those things and in the end, you will have to pay for them one way or another.

So, I suppose this whole concept is just making me ponder.  Instead of balking at prices of food I should feel grateful that my health, as of right now, can more or less be managed by simply eating well, exercising and managing my stress.  Not too bad.  After seeing my dad have a massive stroke at age 48, where he no longer has the choice of whether or not his diet is going to impact his health, I do see the real-life consequences of neglecting the day-to-day care of the body and spirit.  Oh, and paying those dental bills for having so many cavities filled after years of noshing on sugar all the time…well, those aren’t fun either.  Who knew that those $.50 Mike and Ike candy packets I ate daily in high school would cost hundreds (or is it thousands now) at the dentist.