Tag Archives: Food

PSA: Eating clean is worth it.

If you ask anyone who eats with me on a regular basis, I am very selective. And, to be perfectly honest, I get quite a few weird looks from the people in my life when I whip out my homemade chia seed, apple cider vinegar dressing or refuse to touch the goodies in the teacher lounge. But, I’m okay with that.

I don’t strive to eat clean because it’s a fad or because I am trying to control my weight, (the most common and somewhat offensive assumption). I do so because I care about my health and notice an obvious difference in how I feel when I avoid certain things in my diet, (particularly white flour, sugar, and alcohol).

In the past, I have shared many of my favorite nutritional documentaries, (Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead, Forks Over Knives, Food Inc.), but today I just want to focus on some ideas I came across as I researched Vega One Nutritional Shakes. The powder was designed by an Iron Man athlete and is one of the most well-thought out nutritional supplements I have come across.

I’m not here to sell you on the powder, (although I do think it makes an excellent breakfast smoothie with unsweetened almond milk, a banana, and berries), instead I just want to share a few takeaways that have helped me change the way I see nutrition:

  • It’s not about cutting things out of your diet, it’s about adding the good stuff in. It’s so easy to obsess about what not to eat, but if you’re eating enough of the good stuff, you crave the not-so-good alternatives less and “crowd them out” of your diet. I find that when I go long enough without sugar, for example, I don’t even want it anymore, (and, I’m a sugar monster).
  • After a workout is the worst time to eat unhealthy food. I hear a lot of people “treat” themselves after burning calories, but your body needs good building blocks to repair muscles, not crappy ones. Makes a lot of sense.
  • You can find healthy ways to eat out. By the third or four day of travel, I usually feel terrible because I have a really hard time shifting my diet back to more conventional choices and admittedly often lose my self-control when I see old favorites on the menu, (like grass-fed cheeseburgers and french fries). And, when I say feel terrible, I don’t mean guilt, I mean my body actually feels incredibly rundown when I repeatedly eat not-so-healthy choices, (vacations usually end in food hangovers for me). However, this video inspired me to try a little harder. Tonight I’m off to Outback Steak House for a social commitment and I’ve already decided to experiment. I’m ordering from the sides: grilled asparagus, seasoned rice, and my splurge– sweet potato fries. Might sound control freak to some, but I’m excited. Too often when I eat at chain restaurants, I feel like crap afterward. Not tonight.
  • Eating healthy does not have to break your budget. This is the most common complaint, and yes, I agree, there are income levels where some health food choices are out of reach, but for most people on a budget, eating healthy just requires trade offs. My husband and I often joke about how our incredibly healthy meals (think veggie currie, quinoa, elaborate salads) cost the same as grabbing fast food, usually around $10 or less to feed both of us. When my aunt got me interested in trying the Vega One shakes, I cringed a little at the price, (about $2.33/serving if you order the big tub off Vitacost, more if you buy it at Whole Foods). But, then I decided to begin with half a serving (still nutritionally dense) for the first month. If I decide to “splurge” with a full serving next time I order, I will just have to cut the money from somewhere else– like one less meal out in a month, which is likely worth it.

As much as I do my best to remain health conscious, I’m not always perfect. Thrive Forward’s website definitely inspired me to keep working at it. Hopefully you found some inspiration somewhere in all of these thoughts, too. My goal is to feel energetic and keep my immune system strong since I am surrounded by germs all day at work. When I am consistent, I notice a huge payoff.

Happy Saturday and happy healthy eating.

Great health videos at www.thriveforward.com

I love infographics and the idea that I can get so much out of a breakfast shake.

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Bring Back Family Dinners!

Lately, I have noticed a trend in family dining. The mom and dad talk with the adults or each other, the kids sit at the far end of the table and watch something on an iPad to keep quiet. I get why this would sometimes be tempting, especially if you’re meeting up with other adults you do not often see, or you need a few quiet minutes with your honey, but it worries me that many kids are being removed from family dialogue.

In my family, we ate dinner together at the table every night. When we went to restaurants as a family, it was a special treat and everyone was involved in the conversation. The few times I sat too far away from everyone else, I felt sad. I still have a memory of one huge family dinner, where I was the odd little girl out, staring at the piñatas, disconnected and sulking.

To this day, even in my childless family of two, we sit at the table and talk. The couch is not for food, it’s for zoning out. On the rare night where we don’t make it to the table together because of conflicting schedules, everything feels off. We didn’t have our time to catch up and tell our daily stories, our thirty minutes together to slow down time and not focus on anything else.

Even in my much bigger family, we gather around the table together every Sunday night, a reincarnation of my dad’s family’s Thursday night dinners from another era. The participants may vary from week to week, depending on who is in town and what is going on, but it happens, without fail, every Sunday night, and Alex and I are always sure to be there.

Family dinner in action.

Family dinner in action.

I do not claim that family dinners are the secret to being the perfect family. No such family exists. Likewise, I am sure I will also keep an iPad in my purse someday, just in case I need a few minutes of quiet. However, I contend that family dinners are worth the sacrifice of figuring out a way to get everyone together, children and adults alike.

What does family dinner look like for you? Does it happen all the time? Sometimes? Never? I won’t pretend to know what other people need, I just have a soft spot for family and tradition.


This post was inspired by a cool info graphic over at Full on Fit. Did you know that teenagers who eat dinner with their families regularly are much more emotionally healthy? Makes sense to me!

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GMOs are everywhere, do you care?

In some ways, I’m sure my blog screams hippie. However, there are a lot of influences on me and I, like you, am a lot of things. I begin this way because I want you to give what I am saying a chance, no matter what your background.

Recently, I watched the film Genetic Roulette about the possible effects of GMOs on our bodies. Like any good skeptic, I am not willing to attribute every health problem we face to the increased GMOs in our diet, even if both rise side-by-side on a graph. Likewise, I have seen plenty of indie documentaries that have not convinced me of anything. However, there are points in this film that intuitively ring true, such as the idea that we should not be eating plants engineered to kill bugs, whose seeds cannot be handled without gloves, or that cause serious health issues in animals.

If you have the opportunity to watch the film or research GMOs on your own, I encourage you to do so. I was admittedly resistant to learning about GMOs because I figured I ate well enough already, but I have changed my tune. I share because I care.

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The Accidental Vegetarian?

I am reluctant to give myself the label vegetarian. I feel like doing so will only set me up for hypocrisy. However, it’s looking more and more like vegetarianism is in my future. It began this summer, when in my hot yoga frenzy I decided to cut back my meat consumption and eat more cleanly. Inspired by films like Forks Over KnivesFat Sick and Nearly Dead, and Food Inc., I knew something in my diet was off, so Alex and I agreed we would eat less meat and make sure all the meat we ate was sourced, (grass-fed, free-range, etc.).

What I did not expect is that it would not be so easy to alternate between eating meat and not eating meat. While the beginning of summer was virtually meat-free, my weeks of travel were not, leaving me sick when I returned to my first hot yoga class, (yes, I know there may have been other factors at play, but I feel diet was a big piece of it). After feeling run over in my post-vacation meat-eating hangover, I decided to return to limited meat consumption.

To my surprise, I found myself not even wanting to buy meat at the grocery store, even when tempted by high-quality choices at Whole Foods or the Farmer’s Market. Instead, just the thought of it was suddenly repulsive. I did not begin this whole experiment feeling the least bit disgusted by meat. It was more about health and the way eating meat makes me physically feel. However, the final straw was this weekend, when Alex and I ate at the Rutherford Grill in Wine Country and I could not even eat a quarter of his sourced cheeseburger. It lost all appeal.

So, here I am, a former meat-eater standing at a crossroads. I still don’t want to call myself a vegetarian because I think it’s possible I’ll still eat meat sometimes. However, the thought of eating any mammal now grosses me out and I’m finding it relatively easy to choose food that is satisfying without meat. Just strange, because I never set out to be a vegetarian, I just set out to eat less meat. For now, I guess I’ll leave myself without labels, but we’ll see where I end up.

If you’ve stopped eating meat, what was your motivation? Do you feel healthier? Happier?

I’m discovering vegetarian options to be surprisingly delicious and more energizing than meat alternatives, (Sol Food Puerto Rican in San Rafael).

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The Real Hawaii

I’d like to think I’m not an obnoxious traveler.  I like it all– cheap, luxury, anything in between.  Today we discovered the real Hawaii.  Not the resort or the places made to manufacture an experience.  Instead, we ate where locals eat, snorkeled at public beaches, shopped in a gritty little town where surf clothing was actually on sale instead of marked up for tourists.  We even discovered a hostel on the beach with beds for $27 a night.  No, we did not stay, but the fact that such a place exists is pretty awesome.

Sometimes I get tired of the glossy, clean, perfect version of travel.  I would have a hard time staying at an all-inclusive resort where I did not step foot off the property.  I want to know how people live in different places, I want to meet to them, to talk with them.  I especially like discovering places that are gritty, down-to-earth, without pretenses.  I get a thrill out of enjoying food that is both delicious and cheap.  Somewhere I can stand in line and actually start a conversation with someone that is not also from California.

I got my wish.  These pictures will share my finds better than my words.

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My Little Secrets to Travel Health

Gearing up for the second leg of my four weeks of summer travel, I find it necessary to remind myself of the secrets to staying healthy and energized on the road.  These little gems may seem obvious to most travelers, but for me they were slowly won, lesson by lesson, during my three separate treks across Europe, countless American road trips, and a couple of visits to Canada and Mexico for good measure.  Yes, I realize I still have a lot of the globe to see, but I’ll get there with a little luck (and money) on my side.  For now, I’m determined to remember these tips to keep myself healthy for the road already traveled:

Sleep:  For me, sleeping in new places can be very challenging, particularly in noisy cities, or even boisterous small towns like Riomaggiore in the Cinque Terre, where the townspeople shout back and forth from their apartments well into the night and again early in the morning.  It was not until my second trip to Europe that I discovered the power of wax earplugs, the kind swimmers use.  While they will not eliminate noise completely, they help you earn a little extra sleep by muffling the commotion, even if what is bothering you is just the stupid in-room refrigerator, (which I have also been known to unplug from time to time).

Now, the second piece of advice on sleep, is if you wake up early, don’t just lie there and wait for your travel companions to awaken– get up!  Get outside!  Some of my favorite travel memories come from early morning walks or runs when a place is just coming to life.  Imagine Rome, just as the shop keepers are opening up their stores for the day, fresh-baked everything wafting through the air, now which is better, lying in bed or getting out and seeing this?

Exercise:  Early morning or not, I force myself to exercise daily.  There is nothing worse than getting home from vacation and realizing that you have a lot of work to do to get back into your regular exercise routine.  I find that even a quick 15 minute run and 10 minutes of yoga, (a few sun salutations, some balance postures, and stretching), go a long way in keeping you energized both during your trip and when you get home.  Likewise, even if you are on an active vacation, this short routine gives you reflective time to yourself and gets your blood pumping for the day.  Best of all, if you push yourself to climb out of bed early enough, you can catch some really amazing sights on your run.  My favorites have always been in Hawaii, where the time change gives you an unfair advantage in getting out of bed early to catch the sunrise while running on the beach.  Life does not get much better than that.

My Montrails are a must pack– officially my favorite running shoes of all time and double as great hiking shoes.

Eat:  Combined with exercise and sleep, eating well on your trip will keep you feeling great both during your travels and when you get home.  There is nothing worse than the cumulative food hangover of consistent eating out.  My remedy for this is pretty easy– work in food from the supermarket during your trip then go sit in the local park or on a bench in town to eat and enjoy the scenery.

We picked up this meal for two for only $11 from the Mt. Shasta Super Market, which carries a wide range of grass-fed, humanely-raised meats. Way better than a fast food meal.

For quick lunches and anytime you’re tempted to eat fast food, these local groceries stores will do the trick.  You’ll save money from a sit-down restaurant, end up feeling a lot healthier, and get to explore local markets in the process.  Whether I’m in Salzburg or Mt. Shasta, I find wandering around a new grocery store to be an interesting cultural experience, and it is fun to buy foods you normally do not keep stocked at home, like dill havarti or German potato salad, perhaps.  Yogurt and fruit also make a nice change of pace from all the other crap you’re likely to be tempted to eat while away from home, which brings me to my other food tip.

Often I find myself ordering whatever sounds the most delicious on a menu, without any regard for health because it’s a special occasion to eat out.  However, a few cheeseburgers deep, my stomach usually starts to hate me, so I have to remind myself to balance in whatever sounds healthiest on the menu as well.  The upside is that usually I am surprised by how the healthiest choice ends up being equally delicious, prompting me to continue ordering this way throughout the trip, and feeling better as a result.

And, last but not least, I carry around a little pharmacy of natural (and not) remedies to cope with those moments you do not feel so stellar while traveling.  Nux Vomica is an excellent homeopathic for car or plane sickness, Emergen-C will fight off that pesky sore throat, enzymes take away some of the guilt for less-than-healthy food choices, and ibuprofen is pretty self-explanatory.  For long air trips, I also carry Dramamine to deal with motion sickness, which has the added benefit of knocking me out.  I may be the daughter of a hippie and into natural remedies myself, but I also recognize that travel time is valuable, so I will do whatever it takes to quickly fix the problem.

Staples in my Traveling Pharmacy

Fun:  So, there you have it.  I love to travel as much as the next gal, but I am careful to keep myself healthy and energized along the way, even if it means carving a little time out for myself to exercise or forcing myself to watch what I eat.  Now, wish me luck as I embark this afternoon on my girls’ road trip to Olympia, Portland, and the Oregon Coast.  Should be a raucous blast!

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Family Sundays

I was going to save this post for Father’s Day, but then I decided it didn’t have to wait.

Growing up, my dad would wake up early every Sunday morning to make our big family breakfast.  All 7 of us.  Eggs, bagels, bacon, english muffins, orange juice.  Since most of us have grown up and left home, he went through a phase where he lamented that Sunday breakfasts just weren’t the same.

Until, at last, he shifted his attention to Sunday dinners.  Now, Sunday dinners are a marvelous affair.  He doesn’t just make food, he makes gourmet meals.  Barbecued macaroni and cheese with bacon, grass-fed burgers, free-range barbecued chicken wings, fried organic asparagus and green beans.  Turns out, my dad can really cook.

This little act of love, of cooking for all of us gathered around the outside table, means a lot to my dad.  What he probably doesn’t realize is that it means even more to us.  Of course, it’s not just the food.  It’s having all of us, (or almost all of us depending on the Sunday), back in one place.

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