*Warning: this post contains epic amounts of sarcasm. Read at your own risk.
I don’t share recipes often, but I was so pleased with myself for creating such a horrifyingly unhealthy recipe that I couldn’t help but share!
This recipe contains so many toxic ingredients it’ll make your head spin! We start with onions, which contain allicin, which is, of course, toxic. I browned them in olive oil. We all know that heating olive oil makes it toxic. Legumes (lentils and chickpeas) contain lectins which are both inflammatory and toxic and trigger leaky gut!!! YIKES! The chickpeas were canned, so likely contained BPA (even though I used a brand that claims there is no BPA in their cans. You can’t trust Big Food though.) Broccoli and kale are both goitrogens which are, again, toxic. They also contain oxalic acid, SO TOXIC!!! I used condensed stock (which is of course toxic) rather than taking the time to prepare home made bone broth – I am a horrible person. The water I used was from my tap, which is toxic. If I really cared about my health I would use paleo water. I added some chopped tomatoes on a whim, which are a nightshade and a deadly toxin.
Splash of olive oil
1 onion, chopped
Several stalks of celery, chopped
About a cup of dried red lentils
2 quarts stock
1 can chickpeas, drained
1 head of broccoli, stems and florets, chopped
several handfuls of kale
2-4 ripe tomatoes, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Soak and rinse the lentils, set aside. Brown the onions and celery in olive oil, then add lentils and stock. Bring to a boil, let simmer until lentils start to soften. Add broccoli stems and chickpeas and simmer a few minutes, then add florets, kale and tomatoes and simmer a few more minutes until everything is cooked through. Turn off heat and let sit for a few minutes, then serve with salt and pepper to taste.
*I didn’t have any garlic or I would have added it to increase the toxicity.
Unfortunately, I can’t think of a way to sell you supplements to cure undereating and sleep deprivation, though. So lets call it [insert fad diagnosis], and I’ll sell you a crap load of supplements and a cleanse to cure you.
I was inspired to write this post by my kids’ frequent complaint that ‘there’s nothing to eat!’ There IS, of course, food to eat in my house. My kids just haven’t learned how to put balanced meals together yet, and I think a lot of people find themselves in similar quandaries when working to change their eating habits.
In general I have a standard template for my meals:
fruits and vegetables for micronutrients
protein for muscle repair
starches for energy
fats for flavor, nutrient absorption and healthy hormonal function
seasonings for flavor
Today’s post is a simple guide to stocking your pantry with non-perishables from each category so that you always have what you need on hand to create a balanced meal, even if you haven’t been to the market in weeks and have run out of fresh food. Of course, fresh foods add more vibrant flavor and are likely to have slightly higher levels of nutrients, but we all have ‘those days’, and by having a pantry stocked with non-perishable whole foods you can ensure that you’ll still get balanced healthy meals on ‘those days’. And when your kitchen is fully stocked with fresh ingredients, you’ll be prepared with all the pantry basics you need to round out your meals.I’ve put together a chart of staples in each category below. Click on the image to view and/or download the pdf. Each item is hyperlinked to a product on Amazon for those who prefer to shop online.You can use the items here to create different flavor combinations. Some ideas:
garlic + onion + curry + olive oil = Indian
garlic + soy sauce + rice vinegar = Asian
garlic + basil + parsley + sun dried tomato + olive oil = Italian
Whole grains cooked in stock add a new dimension to salads and can be used as a base for stir fried veggies and proteins. Fruit and nuts are an ideal snack. Oats with nuts and fruit makes a great high energy breakfast. Cold quinoa, olives, tuna and beans tossed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar makes a wonderful Mediterranean inspired lunch or dinner. Polenta with sardines and marinara sauce is delicious! Now if I can just get my own kids to see the possibilities in our pantry!
One of the questions I get pretty regularly is “How can I determine the nutrition information of recipes I make at home?” When you’re trying to lose weight or build muscle, or working to ensure you’re giving your body the protein and vitamins and minerals it needs to thrive, knowing the protein, nutrient and calorie content of your meals can be super helpful. But cooking at home using whole foods can make it trickier, as whole foods don’t come with a nutrition label! There is a way to figure out all these values, and with the right tools and tricks it’s not too complicated.
The first few times you do this will be a learning process – expect imperfection. But you’ll get the hang of it quickly. Hang in there!
You’ll need two tools to get an accurate idea of the nutrient profile of your recipes. First, you’ll need to find a recipe analyzer you feel comfortable with. There are dozens available online. I would say they’re all pretty comparable, so check out a few and get a feel for which one seems most user friendly to you. I use this one at Calorie Count. Many of my clients use this one at MyFitnessPal. Spark People has a good one, as does Self Magazine. Here’s one from Fit Watch. Dieticians of Canada also has a good one. Some of these analyzers require you to create an account, but the accounts are free. The benefit of creating an account, though, is that you can save your recipes for future reference and only need to analyze them once.
And now that we’ve got the tools, here’s how you do it:
1. Enter all the ingredients of your recipe into the recipe analyzer of your choice, and tell the analyzer how many servings the finished product will produce. The analyzer will give you the nutrient profile for a serving of your recipe.
2. Prepare the recipe.
3. Weigh the entire finished recipe. Make sure to subtract the weight of the container you’re using to weigh the recipe. You can do this by weighing the empty container before weighing the recipe, or if your scale has a tare function, simply place the container on the scale and press the tare button to zero out the weight reading, then add the finished recipe to the container and the scale will read only the weight of the food.
4. Divide the finished product into servings by weight.
Here’s an example:
Our imaginary example dish is going to be beans and rice. Enter all the ingredients into the analyzer, in this case we’ll enter 2 cups uncooked rice, 1 cup dry beans, 3 carrots, 3 stalks of celery, 2 large tomatoes, a tablespoon of olive oil and a teaspoon of salt (we’re going for simple here). Then we tell the analyzer this recipe makes 4 servings. The analyzer will make it’s calculations and spit out the nutrient profile for one serving. Then, we prepare the recipe. When the recipe is finished, we place the entire dish on the food scale. After figuring out and subtracting the weight of the container the food is in, we determine the finished recipe weighs 36 ounces. We then divide the recipe into 4 equal 9 ounce servings, and either serve and eat, or package up for later. Viola! Home made meal, accurately profiled and divided. You now know your home made meal’s macronutrient, micronutrient and calorie profile.
One benefit of determining the nutrient profile of your recipes is that you can see if they are balanced to meet your goals, and if not, you can alter them. For instance, this beans and rice recipe may be too low in protein for someone on a fat loss diet, so seeing where the protein is coming from can give them ideas for improving the protein balance (perhaps by increasing the bean to rice ratio, or adding another protein dense ingredient). You can also determine if your recipe is calorie dense enough to meet your energy needs, or if it lacks micronutrients you may need to increase your consumption of. Remember, being aware of the nutrient profile of your diet IS NOT and SHOULD NOT be about restriction, it should be about ensuring you are meeting your nutrient and energy (calorie) needs adequately. Spending some time learning about the way your diet balances out over time can help you create new eating habits. Once those habits are in place, you can leave the tracking behind.
The universe conspired this weekend to provide a bunch of opportunities to get good deals on great information. I was going to post these things individually on facebook until I realized it would end up as multiple posts, which would be spammy, so I decided to put them all together in one blog post.
First! 180 Degree Health is in the process of moving their entire book collection exclusively to Amazon, so they’re running a clearance on their entire collection in preparation. Now is the last time you will be able to get their Platinum Collection, which is every book they’ve published, and it’s priced at $27 (regularly $59.95) for a $329.54 value. This is a great deal, I’m a big fan of Matt’s work in general and his Diet Recovery and Food Ninja books specifically (both of which are included in this package). Check it out here: 180 Degree Health Platinum Collection
Since we’re on the subject of books, one of my all-time favorite health books is Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection by A.J. Jacobs. He spends a year consulting every expert, reading every book and trying every gadget in the pursuit of optimal human health. He tries everything from juicing to veganism to paleo to the squatty potty to a treadmill desk. And it’s brilliantly funny. It’s available as soft or hardcover, kindle or audiobook. Definitely worth adding to your collection!
Just a few more hours to get in on Ultimate Sandbag’s 30% off sale! I have two sandbags and they are hands down my favorite training tools. I use them with clients of all ability levels, I travel with them, and they are just generally extremely versatile and fun! I’ve never seen them for 30% off, so grab this deal while it’s available. Click the link above or the banner below, and use code ‘facebook’ at checkout to get 30% off your entire order.
So there ya go, a bunch of spam to start your weekend off right. Aren’t you glad I didn’t post all that on facebook?
When I moved from Colorado back to California in 2005, I was denied health insurance because I was pregnant with my younger daughter. My husband and I were eventually able to get coverage under his employer’s group plan, but it was not the coverage that I wanted. It was frustrating and stressful. Then last year, I was denied coverage again because I’d sought treatment for Postpartum Depression after the birth of my daughter 8 years previous. My husband eventually accepted a job he wasn’t particularly thrilled about in order to ensure I’d continue to have health coverage. I have personal experience with the frustrations of seeking health insurance as a woman. So when Mike Cahill from Vista Health Solutions Blog offered to write a guest post about the Affordable Care Act and it’s relevance to women’s health care access, I was happy to take him up on it.
By Mike Cahill If anyone could benefit from some changes to the healthcare system, it’s women. Women face a unique set of issues when it comes to health insurance. They are consistently charged higher health insurance premiums than men, and conditions like breast cancer, and even pregnancy, can be used as reasons to deny them health insurance. There is no debate that this is not just, and thankfully the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is making some changes that will brighten the picture for women purchasing insurance. Read on to learn a bit more about these changes.
Essential Health Benefits Cover Essential Services
The ACA mandates that every health insurance plan provide 10 categories of “essential health benefits”, making it so that all plans provide a minimum level of coverage no matter the cost. These categories of benefits cover a wide breadth of medical services. Some of these categories, such as maternity care and newborn care, are especially relevant to current or expecting mothers. If you are interested in the full list of essential health benefits, visit Healthcare.gov.
The preventative services category is especially helpful to women. Annual well-woman visits and routine mammograms will be covered with zero out of pocket costs. This page at HRSA.gov has a full list of women’s preventative services covered under this category.
While the ACA mandates the 10 categories under which every plan must provide essential health benefits, it doesn’t outline specific medical services within those categories. Each state is creating a benchmark plan that every future health insurance plan in that state will have to match to meet minimum medical benefit requirements. The Kaiser Family Foundation has a list here of each state’s benchmark plan.
Buying As An Individual? Don’t Worry About Gender Rating
The ACA has ended gender rating for women buying health insurance as an individual. So, if you are a freelancing or self-employed woman looking for insurance, you should expect to be charged the same premium as a man. This small change can make a big difference when it comes to paying your premium.
A Solution To Denial Based On Preexisting Conditions
Chances are you have heard about how the ACA protects people with preexisting conditions. This has special bearing on women. Women with breast cancer will no longer be denied insurance because of this terrible and costly condition.
In the past, women could be denied coverage for being pregnant. Since the ACA looks at it as a preexisting condition, pregnant women can rest easy knowing they can purchase coverage.
An Overall Improvement
While some may have their criticisms of the ACA, the law is benefiting women in a number of areas when it comes to getting health insurance. Use this information and take a look at the marketplace. Knowing the changes the ACA mandates, the available plans might start to look like a better deal than they did before.
I’ve turned my popular blog series into a NEW full beginner weight lifting program ebook! And for the next week you can get it for 33% off.
I’ve tried a lot of things over the course of my weight loss journey. The vast majority of the things I tried were useless gimmicks. There are a few things, though, that weren’t useless. And by far, the most important of those things is weight lifting.
Beginning weight lifting was a pivotal point in my journey. It was weight lifting that ultimately reshaped my body. More importantly, weight lifting reshaped my perception of myself. Through weight lifting, I discovered that I am strong, that my body is resilient, that my body is capable and adaptable and wise. Weight lifting grounds me, connects me with my potential. Weight lifting reshaped more than my body, it healed my self perception and gave me a new appreciation for my body and what it can do. Here I distill what I’ve learned over the last five years into a simple, straightforward, easy to understand guide that gives you all you need to know to feel confident in the weight room.
This guide is for those who have never lifted weights. Those who feel overwhelmed by the jargon, the equipment, the exercises. In the simple guide, I’ll lay out the basic fundamentals of weight lifting: the different training philosophies, the different kinds of equipment and what you’re supposed to do with it all, the physiological basics of the exercises, and finally I’ll teach you how to design your own workouts. To get you started, I’ve included a simple but effective beginners routine that you can follow as you get your bearings and gain familiarity and confidence in the weight room.
I’ve had multiple requests for a post on my skin care routine. Which is amazing to me, because my skin has sort of been the bane of my existence since I got my first pimple at age 9. People have asked me to share the products I use, and I will, but want to emphasize that the products are really secondary to the lifestyle stuff that has made the real, fundamental difference in so many areas of my life, including my skin.
A brief history: I have had acne since I was 9. In early adolescence I developed painful cystic acne on my face, chest and back. I know now it was due to hormonal issues (see my PCOS story here), but of course I didn’t know that then, nor did my parents, neither of whom had dealt with acne to that degree as teens. Throughout my teens, I attacked the acne as best I could, first with over the counter products and then with prescription products of escalating potency. It culminated with two courses of Accutane in my late teens that worked, temporarily. The acne came back.
Through my 20′s and early 30′s, I continued to try to deal with my acne with over the counter medications, prescription medications and various diets. It was very frustrating, virtually nothing worked. Except benzoyl peroxide. Benzoyl peroxide did help a little, reduced oil production, and if I was consistent with it I noticed some improvement in my acne. Over the years I tried different brands, both cheap and expensive, and realized the cheap stuff works just as well as the expensive stuff. So eventually I just stopped messing around with the expensive stuff and stuck with Benzac 5% Benzoyl Peroxide, which is what I still use when I get a minor breakout. It can discolor fabric, so I only use it at night, and stick with white sheets and pillow cases.
The real, profound change came when I started exercising, though. Exercise doesn’t get the press it deserves as an acne remedy. Remember how I said my acne was a hormonal issue? Well, I didn’t know it when I started exercising, but exercise was the key to normalizing my hormones. Regular exercise affects hormone function in many ways. It improves insulin sensitivity and leptin sensitivity (both hormones), it reduces cortisol and adrenalin (stress hormones), it can ease anxiety and depression, probably by positively affecting neurotransmitter levels. It also regulates estrogen and progesterone production. I saw these dynamics play out in my own body. As I established a habit of regular physical activity, my blood sugar issues improved (due to better insulin sensitivity), my anxiety and depression eased, my periods got more regular, most of my symptoms of PCOS resolved…and my acne cleared up. None of this was because of a diet or a medication or a skin care product, it was all due to regular, consistent physical activity. And I’m not a genetic anomaly, these hormonal effects of exercise are well supported by scientific literature. Why we don’t hear more about them is beyond me.
So exercise is the biggest piece of the puzzle. If you’re not exercising regularly, I encourage you to begin! If you’re looking for a very basic beginner program, check out my First 100 Days program, written specifically for those new to exercise or returning after a long time off. I’ll also be releasing a new beginner weight lifting routine this coming week, so stay tuned!
And now, the part I know you’ve been waiting for, the products I use. My breakouts are much more mild now than they’ve ever been, and as I said before, I use inexpensive benzoyl peroxide when (if) necessary. My real skin ‘issues’ at this point are acne scars and dark spots, sun protection, and occasional dryness as I get older. I’m getting wrinkles, but I don’t mind them, they are the evidence life leaves on my face, evidence of smiles and squinting in the sun, evidence of a life well lived. So I don’t ‘fight’ them. They make my face my own.
I try to balance price, quality and mindfulness of ingredients in the products I choose. Most of the products I use are fairly inexpensive and ‘natural’. I wash my face twice a day with Dr. Bronner’s Hemp and Tea Tree Pure-Castile Soap. I use Avalon Organics CoQ10 Toner in place of moisturizer most of the time, as my skin is oily enough that I don’t usually need a heavier cream. Once in a while, usually when the seasons change, I’ll have a little patch of dryness, so I keep Eucerin Q10 Sensitive Skin Creme around for those times. Q10 seems to have some scientific support as being beneficial and I can certainly attest that my skin responds well to products that contain it.
I do have a few splurges that I’m willing to spend a little more money on. These products are also less ‘natural’, though I’ve done some research on their ingredients and feel comfortable using them in the context that I do. In place of makeup, I use Peter Thomas Roth BB Blur Beauty Balm, it provides good sun protection and sheer coverage that evens out skin tones without looking ‘made-up’. Otherwise I do not use any foundation or cover-up, I like that his product lets my real, healthy skin be the star of the show.
My main skin issue now is scarring and dark spots from acne. I’ve found two products that really make a difference. I use Murad Pigment Lightening Gel sparingly when needed for hyperpigmentation, then switch to Peter Thomas Roth De-Spot for more general use. These two products have made a major difference in the appearance of dark spots from acne scars, and also just seem to make my skin look brighter in general. I also use Murad Essential – C Eye Cream SPF 15 because it provides some extra sun protection. So those are my splurges, and I’ve found them all effective and worth the extra cost.
I keep my makeup minimal, usually just the BB Blur I linked above, mascara and lip gloss or balm. I prefer to look natural.
I haven’t found that specific foods make my skin better or worse, but some foods certainly give me better energy, and better energy makes me more active, which DOES make my skin look better. So I prioritize eating in a way that provides me with energy (carbs!) and enough calories and protein to recover well from workouts. I eat to support an active lifestyle, because the active lifestyle is what keeps me healthy. I discuss eating to support activity in my ebook ‘Taking Up Space: A Guide to Eating to Support a Healthy Weight’.
In the end, my recommendations for healthy beautiful skin are pretty simple: stay active (and get active if you aren’t), and eat in a way that supports that activity. Protect from the sun. Use products specific to your needs, and they don’t have to be expensive to be effective. Let your own beauty shine, we are all different and there is beauty in those differences. I want to see your face!
Often when people such as myself talk about incremental, step-by-step lifestyle changes, we’ll encounter a particular type of knee jerk reaction. For the fun of it, you should picture my paraphrasing response as Carlton Banks from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air:
“Whoa, hold on mister! This small change stuff may be all well and good for people that need to lose 2 lbs, but I need a big change. That means I need to overhaul everything!”
There’s a few things going on here…
The main thing is paying TOO MUCH to your feelings of dissatisfaction.
To a certain extent, dissatisfaction is needed to provoke some change. That doesn’t mean, however, that you need to be wallowing in pain and intense frustration – it could be simply the dissatisfaction of potential being unmet. This shouldn’t be a self-loathing type of thing… just a “I know I can do more” type of a thin, like if you can do 10 kettlebell swings with 36 lbs but want to do 12. 10 isn’t bad…you just want 12.
The problem is taking the feelings of dissatisfaction and letting them control the show. Rather than simply being the catalyst to provoke change, you let these feelings dictate your plan of attack. This creates an all or nothing type of approach that sets you up for failure.
It doesn’t matter HOW dissatisfied you are – it matters that you have a goal and then incrementally approach it. Let your emotions guide your goal, but then cast them aside and be strategic in the execution of how you approach your goals.
The other logical hole in the knee jerk reaction response for overhauling everything is the assumption that a dramatic overhaul is the key to faster success. This is like assuming that if driving 30mph will get you through 2 miles of winding back roads in 4 minutes then SURELY 120 miles per hour will get you there if 1 minute. Makes sense on paper – but you’re probably going to crash into a tree, getting nowhere fast.
That’s the reality of the situation. Your ability to get somewhere fast is governed by your ability to control the journey and to respond to changes in the landscape.
That means only taking on new habits and changes to the degree that you can control them. Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
One final nail in the coffin. If an all-or-nothing approach has brought you to your current level of dissatisfaction, what is the likelihood that it is going to fix it? Not very high…
Goal setting involves an emotional component, but a logical incremental approach must be taken to achieve significant goals. In the face on emotion-driven impulsivity for radical change, pursue step-by-step change. Make a list of any change you consider worthwhile – ten of them to start. And then over the course of the next few months, check them off one step at a time.
Sean Flanagan is a Health, Fitness, & Nutrition Coach specializing in helping women worldwide break from the traps of dietary dogma and to develop the habits, knowledge, and skills required for long term health-first body composition management. You can follow Sean over at his Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/SeanFlanaganHealth) and you can download his free Ebook “The No B.S. Guide to Health-First Fat Loss” here at http://fitwomanblueprint.com/special-report/
People like short sound bites, so I decided to share my stance on several controversial topics in 140 characters or less. If you want to go a little deeper, I’ve linked to related blog posts beneath each topic.
Carbs: If you can, eat them. If you can’t, you need a doctor, not a diet book.