5 Tips to Kill it in the Kitchen

First of all, I owe you all a big fat apology for my absenteeism. We’ve been having a little bit of technical difficulty around the Heyday household, and other things have taken priority to getting the computer fixed… which is kind of awesome, actually. I love me some blogging, but it has been kind of nice to get up in the a.m. and work on some other nagging projects before finding an alternate way to check emails and social media. I’ve pretty much developed a new routine of drinking a giant glass of lemon water while I water the landscape and my tomato plant and ponder life’s wonders in the shade of the morning before the day turns sweltering. It’s been a nice change of pace. But alas, I come to you today from the iPad, (which is mildly annoying, but works, so, whatever) while the MacBook is in the hospital. Not sure how many of these posts I’ll be able to tolerate before requiring an actual keyboard, so bear with me in case you don’t hear anything for another week.

Today’s post is brought to you by: your culinary fears! You know you want to be a wiz in the kitch, but something’s holding you back. You’re overwhelmed, you’re afraid to try something new, you burn toast… Whatever it is, it’s time to let it go and embrace your inner chef! Here are 5 ways to step up your game and start killing it in the kitchen.

  1. Get out of your comfort zone! Try new things! Pick up a vegetable you’ve never tried before (Sunchokes? Kohlrabi, anyone?). Use a new pantry staple like grass-fed gelatin or fish sauce or ghee or coconut butter. Get out an appliance you never use (Maybe your food processor or crock pot or double boiler?).Things get boring really fast when you’re serving up the same ol’ chicken breasts, roasted sweet potatoes and salad night after night. It doesn’t have to be complicated… just try a new side dish, an unusual marinade or a new sauce that will add some spice to your regular favorites. What about some braised red cabbage with sherry vinegar or some sunshine sauce (a great substitute for peanut sauce). Get out some cookbooks and get creative! But with that said… image
  2. Don’t be a slave to your cookbooks! Sure, follow a recipe exactly the first time… Make notes on what you loved or didn’t love so much, and make it your own the next few times you make it. Maybe it needed more spice or maybe it was too spicy? Maybe it would’ve tasted a bit better with a touch of acid from a lemon or a splash of vinegar? Whatever your changes, write them down, but then commit your favorite recipes to memory so that you can whip them up sans cookbook.
  3. Clean as you go, it’s the sign of a pro! This is seriously one of my favorite tips. I hate messes and clutter, and when my countertops start filling up with tools of the trade during a batch-cooking session, I start to have an anxiety attack – scratch that – I used to have an anxiety attack. Now I avoid that mess all together and just clean up as I go. It saves me the headache of having to clean up a huge mess after the meal and keeps me sane during the process because my workspace is clutter-free. It’s not hard to do, just be mindful to make it a habit!
  4. Make it pretty! By now we all know that we eat with our eyes first – so why limit that visual stimulation to only the meals you eat at restaurants? Start making your plates Instagram-worthy and a few things will happen: the ones eating off those plates will take note (and eat up), and you’ll find yourself getting greater pleasure from the fruits of your labor in the kitchen. We all have a little artist in us, this might just be your new creative outlet.

    Sooo, I mainly shoot my breakfast plates... deal.

    Sooo, I mainly shoot my breakfast plates… deal.

  5. Learn to laugh at yourself. Pretty sure this one is a must. Once you’ve turned on the blender after forgetting to make sure the blade was fully screwed on (done) or accidentally let a cracked egg slip down the crevasse between the oven and the kitchen counter (done that, too), you’ll quickly realize that having a sense of humor is a necessity in all areas of life, including the area where you cook. It also helps to have a pet who doesn’t mind cleaning up your kitchen floor from time to time.

    Malone, otherwise known as, my trusty sous chef.

    Malone, otherwise known as, my trusty sous chef.

Happy cooking!

xx

e

Post-Travel Craving: JUICE

We had an awesome trip trekking up to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina for a cousin’s wedding this past weekend. I took zero pictures which has me feeling kind of bummed. I know there will be plenty of wedding pics surfacing on Facebook over the next few days, but I’m mostly bumming over the pics of the cute little secret breakfast spot we found or the hidden gem of a pub serving up eggplant fries in a pool of tarragon honey mustard (YUM) that I didn’t take. I suppose in the moment, the lack of photos was my attempt at being present, really experiencing the rare weekend away with Tim and our family and taking it all in. Okay… I take it back, no regrets.

2014-06-22 09.52.48

This was the singular photo I took over the weekend. It’s the stone pathway back to the secret-garden-like breakfast spot we discovered… and I only took it because I want to recreate a stone path like this in our backyard. I’m pathetic, I know.

Weekend travel makes me thirsty. Seriously. Hours in a car trying to make as few stops as possible means limiting my normal generous intake of water, and what feels like limited access to filtered water while staying in a hotel room, not to mention consumption of some extra-salty foods that aren’t typically in my day-to-day meal plan (fried cheese, anyone?), leave me feeling parched and puffy upon return to real life. 

I got in about 60 ounces of water in the afternoon once we returned, but I woke up this morning thirsty as ever. Enter fresh summer watermelon and a convenient need to clean out the produce nearest wilting in my fridge.

2014-06-23 09.08.14

This particular concoction included some hydrating veggies like romaine, cucumber, and celery, along with some bright (and lower-sugar) fruits like lemon, lime, and green apple. Add in a few carrots (I didn’t have the white ones this time) and a little mint, and the color of the resulting mixture appeared a little less than appetizing. It was delish, though! Proof that juice doesn’t always have to be pretty to taste amazing and fresh.

2014-06-23 09.14.48

Just because it looks like I filled this glass from the marsh behind our house doesn’t mean I did.

I always cut my juice by mixing in some cold, filtered water. And though it’s best to consume your juice right away, I just make sure I keep it covered in the fridge and drink it all the same day I make it in order to avoid loss of nutrients. You can read more about my adventures in juice here.

2014-06-23 09.13.05

This one was a little more Instagram-worthy… the frothy goodness before I stirred! Taste the rainbow!

Cheers!

erin

Yahoooo! A Week in Review.

Done with tests! Done with studying (pshhh, right! HASHTAG STUDENT FOR LIFE!)! Done with it ALLLLLL! I’ve officially graduated from (and I’m now a legit member of) the Nutritional Therapy Association, y’all!

2014-06-09 11.10.11

Okay, simmer down, crazypants.

Somehow I thought I would have all this amazing free time once I wouldn’t be filling up every waking second of my day with my nose buried in books/papers/files/school projects (which paid off, btw: got an allllmost perfect score on my exams, thankyouverymuch)… but I’ve been back from Hartford, CT since Monday and… uh… excuse me, where did this week go? I don’t even know.

On Monday, I opened up my calendar and my teux deux list and promptly filled them with every imaginable thing I could think of that I wanted to accomplish in life, ever – today, tomorrow, and seven years from now. Whoa. Clearly, I have all sorts of ambition. But this week was more of a wrapping-up-of-loose-ends kind of week… doing all the stuff I had to do before I could move on to more fun stuff like building and preparing raised beds for organic garden planting in a few months, making a giant batch of this lovely stuff, organizing the nursery, and attempting my first batch of kombucha… you know, all the stuff I wouldn’t let myself do before my last weekend of testing for fear that it would fall under the “procrastinating” category, as in, I’m putting together this crib because I don’t want to study. Because I’m really, really good at that. THIS week, involved more boring stuff like appointments, errands, getting the dogs groomed, cleaning, cooking, paying bills, finishing my baby registry (hours – HOURS, I tell you) and clearing mounds (MOUNDS!) of clutter that have been piling up over the past month. Sadly, blogging didn’t make the cut this week, but organizing my calendar and plotting out plenty of entertaining (and educational – so there!) posts for your reading pleasure DID make the cut! Yahoo! Those goodies are right around the corner, so stay tuned!

Have a great weekend… ours is going to be filled with yard work (if the rain holds off, and painting if it doesn’t)… and check back on Monday. I have a few new (Paleo) cookbooks in my arsenal and can’t wait to review some recipes for you!

Ciao for now!

xx

e

 

A Little Nutritional Wisdom from one Mom-To-Be to Another…

Hey friends… happy-post-Mem-day weekend! Hope you all enjoyed an extra day off and are feeling less sluggish than me today… we spent the weekend working in the yard, enjoying a couple dinners out, and painting the rest of the downstairs (picture me cutting-in for hours after a lovely chest and triceps workout at the gym… OUCH!). I’m beat, but no time for naps! This girl has studying to do… yawwwn!

A little while back, once I had graduated to the second trimester, I wrote a post on my crappy first-trimester diet. Curious as to any wisdom that I’ve uncovered since then? You’re in luck… today, I’m a featured blogger on We’re Talking About Food and I’ve shared my top 5 bits of advice for healthy nutritional habits during pregnancy (and beyond!). Hope you enjoy!

xx

e

 

Vive le Vendredi: Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow… er… a Few Days Ago!

If you follow me on instagram you probably caught my photo and caption yesterday afternoon regarding my lack of ability to ever commit to growing out my short hair for more than a few months.  It went a little something like this:

Image

I just couldn’t do it anymore. It usually gets to about the length it had gotten to, and something deep inside me starts feeling frumpy and completely non-attached to the process of growing it any longer. Here’s the series of events that led to the unfortunate and immediate demise of my grow-out:

  1. The weather started really heating up this past week.
  2. It started taking me longer and longer to do my hair, with more product and more blow-drying and way more gadgets than I am used to (actual brushes and flat-irons? the horror!)… and in the end I was only semi-satisfied with the final ‘do about 40% of the time.
  3. I started thinking about the amount of time it was taking me to get a decent-looking style and the fact that I am not going to have that kind of time to spend on my hair once October rolls around and I am kind of busy with something else (oh yeah, that baby thing). And then I started fantasizing about how it used to take me approximately 4 minutes to blow dry and style my super short hair, and it always looked good. Sighhhh.
  4. Instead of gazing longingly at pictures of Carey Mulligan or Emma Watson and their commitment to grow-out (my usual inspiration), I started looking at pictures of Halle Berry (pregnant, and hot with short hair, no less… if you follow me on Pinterest, you’d have noticed those pins!) and Charlize Theron and Natalie Portman (her pixie era). It was downhill from there.
  5. THEN, I admitted to Tim that I was considering giving up growing it and just cutting it off again… his response? DO IT. I’ve been hoping you would.” Well that was basically the final nail in the coffin! But in case I wasn’t convinced, he proceeded to dive into a monologue on all the reasons I should cut it off, which half-shocked me but mostly made me crack up. Something involving boxed wine and soap operas between play dates with the rest of the soccer moms that would all look just like me if I had the grown-out “mom hair”. HA! That guy, I tell ya. He is a keeper.

So upon cutting it (myself, in my bathroom, as per usual), I immediately felt like myself again! After multiple attempts at grow-out, I’m finally beginning to realize that maybe I’m just destined to be a short-haired gal for life. And I’m okay with that.

Oh, and in case you are new to the ‘Diaries and you don’t believe me that I’ve been through this before… let’s take a walk down memory lane, shall we? Just for fun!

Remember this? The beginnings of a short “bob” by my standards, when I was just starting to get used to a new phase of growth… circa October 2012.

Signature scrunch-face.

I cut short bangs, played around with headbands, and stood on my toilet for photos.

2012-10-27 19.30.07

Side note: never wore that dress again because I washed it once and the color all bled together. Good thing it was on sale at H&M which means it was something like -$4.

December meant holiday parties and a pro cut in an actual salon (that I promptly came home to “fix” myself).

2012-12-13 19.13.38

Don’t we look dapper?

Aaaand by January 2012, approximately four-to-five months into the grow-out, I started looking at old pictures of myself with short hair, making photo collages and taking a poll on Facebook to get opinions on whether I should grow it or cut it…

2013-01-04 00.01.45

And then a day later, this happened:

2013-01-13 14.49.20

#shorthairdontcare

And there you have it. I’m a hair-growth-commitment-phobe. Not really. I just reeeeeally like it short. Really. The end.

Have a great weekend and remember… some spotty posting over the next few weeks until I’m done with my final!

xx

e

 

We’re Talking About Taji

Hi friends! As promised, we’ve got a little something special for you on the blog today – an up-close-and-personal interview with food-lovin’ blogger, Taji Mortazavi of We’re Talking about Food. It was Taji’s exploration of multi-cultural cuisine, fearless spice combinations, and creative variety that first caught my attention on the blogosphere, but what hooked me was the fact that nearly all her recipes were not only healthy but mindful of certain dietary restrictions as well. If you’re not following her already, you should be – and be prepared to seriously spice up your boring weeknight menu!

Taji was awesome enough to answer a few questions about her background and philosophy on food for me, and I’ve got to say, her responses made me love her even more (and secretly want to be her real life bff). :) Hope you enjoy today’s guest blogger interview!

we're talking about food

1. In our conversation you mentioned your background in English and writing (like me!), but I’d love to hear more about your background in food/nutrition/wellness and how you became interested in it.

I guess you could say that I’ve always been a foodie at heart. Growing up with an Iranian father and a French mother, food was always the door to both cultures. Towards the end of high school, I became more interested in the nutritional components of food, and began meeting with a dietitian to answer my inquiries.

Today, food is truly an art for me. My kitchen is my studio, my foods are my paints, my knife is my brush, and my plate is my canvas. I’ve noticed that if I focus on the color, texture, and overall composition of a dish, the healthy nutrients, vitamins, and all the good stuff I need to be healthy are there without having to think so much about it. The more I cook, the more I realize that artistically I’m not in total control of the dishes I’m making—the food is. This isn’t to say that food controls me by any means, but rather I get really inspired by a lot of the ingredients I use and my creativity comes from within.

2. You’ve posted recipes across the board in terms of diet… vegan, vegetarian, paleo, gluten free… is there any particular diet to which you adhere? 

I think it’s good to experiment with a lot of different diets and healthy eating plans. I’ve noticed over the years that vegan and vegetarian cuisine has some very innovative ways of preparing vegetables. By contrast, paleo and gluten-free diets are really good at finding alternatives to refined carbohydrates and starches. I play around with all these plans because I think they ALL can contribute to a healthy diet and lifestyle. You can easily take Italian-seasoned chicken with spaghetti squash (typically a paleo or GF dish) and smother it with a dollop of vegan pesto for a meal that’s the best of both worlds. Part of my blog is about pairing these diets together so people can see they’re not all that drastically different. In my eyes, these healthy diets operate on a continuum rather than a set of extremes.

I have struggled with Crohn’s and Celiac Disease for quite some time now. Going gluten-free is definitely important to me and an essential part of my diet. I did some digging and found out dairy allergies also run in my family so I try to steer clear of that as well. Ultimately, I think a healthy diet is balanced and REAL! I avoid processed and fast food like it’s the plague, go organic when I can, and make sure I eat lots of raw vegetables and fruits.

3. I read in one of your posts a few months ago about another blogger’s philosophy on “eating to live” versus “living to eat”. As a self-proclaimed foodie, I’ll admit it’s hard for me to completely align with the “eat to live” philosophy, too, but as a nutritional therapist, I understand it and often have to adopt that mindset when counseling clients. Where do you stand, what are your thoughts on the two sides, and what advice do you have for someone on either side in terms of crossing over from time to time?

I agree with you completely that these two philosophies are often at odds with one another. I think it ultimately comes down to how so many people (myself included) struggle with intuitive eating. When your intuitive eating is in line, usually you don’t need to worry about whether you’re ‘eating to live’ or ‘living to eat.’ Those choices will happen naturally and healthfully for you. Look at people who are good intuitive eaters. They usually don’t align themselves with either camp and simply eat what they’re body is telling them to eat. And more often than not, they’re at a healthy weight. With that said, it’s hard to tell someone whose over/underweight to eat intuitively, because doing so is probably what has gotten them in trouble in the first place.

I really think it depends on your relationship with food. People who overeat might benefit from a more structured approach that focuses on set meal times and plans. At the same time, if you’re underweight because you forget to eat you could also benefit from a structured plan. It’s too easy to say if you’re overweight you should watch what you eat and if you’re underweight you should eat whatever you want. Both attitudes depend on your health and your natural eating habits.

4.  I always love seeing your creativity come through in your recipes. You’ve posted dishes from a variety of different cuisines including Korean, Mediterranean, Italian, French, and a variety of Persian dishes, all of them involving lots of unique fresh herbs and spices. Is there a certain culture that particularly inspires you in the kitchen?

You’re right in that I love to experiment! I want the site to have a little something for everyone and I try to incorporate lots of different cuisines. I named the blog “We’re Talking About Food” because I wanted to initiate a dialogue about food and food-related topics. Branching out to different cuisines is one of the many ways I try to initiate conversation and get people involved!

Maybe I’m biased, but I always seem to come back to Persian culture and dishes. Lately in the food world, the trends all lead towards fusion foods and cuisines. I like to think of Persian food as one of the original fusion cuisines out there. For centuries we’ve taken many Mediterranean flavors and paired them with East Asian and Indian ingredients. Most people who eat Persian food say it’s not the ingredients that surprise them, but the unique and innovative flavor combinations we’ve developed over time. To me, that’s much more interesting than a green tea flavored donut or a ramen burger – haha!

5. What is one significant change to your diet/lifestyle has had the most impact on your life and the way you feel?

I think being conscious of what I put in my body is perhaps one of the most important components to my diet, exercise habits, and over healthy lifestyle. Whether it’s a massaged kale salad or a double fudge brownie sundae (gluten-free of course!), being mindful of my choices is imperative to a healthy life. If I slip up, I have the tools to get back on track the next day. It wasn’t until I started practicing yoga more frequently that I actually learned what being mindful was all about. I used to stress about eating fat or sugar or salt. Now, I realize a little chocolate won’t kill me. Ultimately, it’s helped me create a lifestyle that’s healthy, but also balanced and realistic.

 

Thanks for sharing in the Heyday Diaries, Taji!

Check out more of Taji’s wit, insight and love for all things culinary at We’re Talking About Food

Talk soon, friends!

xx

e

 

Interested in being a guest blogger? Contact me here!

Is it Wednesday, Already?!

This morning I was checking out my teux-deux list (I was in a particularly crossy-offy mood) and realized that the top of my list said WEDNESDAY, MAY 21. 

Whoa! Where has this week gone? Time out – May 21?! Where has this MONTH gone?! I’m freakin’ out.

With a big fat functional (aka hands-on) exam right around the corner, you may be hearing less from me over the course of the next few weeks, but fear not. I have a few posts ready to go for your viewing pleasure, including some guest blogger action! That’s right! So get ready for that fanciness.

In the meantime, learn to love my little lists. ;)

Here are a few primal-friendly recipes that have popped up on my feed lately, which totally appealed to my pregnancy cravings and which I could not resist sharing.  Eat your heart out…

  1. Eat Clean, Feel Splendid’s Massaged Kale Salad with Grapefruit, Bacon, and Toasted Hazelnuts.  Say whaaaaat?? Kale salad aaand grapefruit?! GIVE ME ALL THE CITRUS!
  2. Chicago-Style Hot Dog Skewers inspired by a recipe from Primal Cravings (which we totally made this week, and after which I totally ordered the book to join my collection of primal-friendly cookbooks). Be warned… these babies are a leeeetle on the salty side… but so good!
  3. Clean Eating With a Dirty Mind’s Paleo Twix Bar Tarts. Shut your mouth right now… these look ridiculous.
  4. Avocado BLT Egg Salad from Stupid Easy Paleo. Yummmm.
  5. And with the days getting hotter, who could possibly resist this summertime favorite from Against All Grain: Dark Chocolate Fudge Pops! I’ve been craving chocolate ice cream (so weird for me), so I’m definitely going to make time for a batch of these babies in the near future.

Talk soon! Time to study!

This is me studying... and this is my study-buddy, doing what I would prefer to be doing. Jerk.

This is me studying… and this is my study-buddy, doing what I would prefer to be doing. Jerk.

xx

e

Vive le Vendredi: 5 Faves

Let’s take a little break from nutrition school, shall we? It’s Friday which means, time for something a little lighter.

Here are five things I’ve been loving lately:

  1. Bija Body. Specifically, Bija Body teas and their Daily Body Serum. A friend of mine introduced me to this stuff (she’s actually one of the babes practicing yoga on a paddle board on the top of the Body Care page!)… her friend owns the company and every morning of our yoga teacher training, she was always drinking the Daily Beauty Tea, in her cute little loose leafe tea tumbler (they sell those too, and you bettabelieve I have one). The Daily Beauty Tea is spicy, herby and delicious, but what I’m into these days is the Baby Mama Tea, of which I happened to have a sample from my first order of tea a while back. It’s a little milder, comforting, and still the same herby goodness.
  2. The Target Cartwheel App. Okay, so my sister introduced this gem to me and I have to admit, I was not into it at first. Mainly because I was trying to use it in the middle of the store (neglecting to use their free wifi hotspot, duh) and after 15 minutes of attempting to upload and crashing and using up all my battery while standing in the duvet cover aisle, I decided saving a few pennies wasn’t worth it. But seriously. Let the mastah show ya how to get it done. (Movie reference anyone?) Upload your coupons at home on your computer and then just open your app at the store for the barcode. It is seriously awesome. However, it mayyyyy be resulting in more frequent trips to Target. Those sneaky Target masterminds. 
  3. My old lululemon No Limits tank. This was THEE FIRST tank I bought when I first started working at lululemon back in the day, and then suddenly Power Ys and Cool Racerbacks became my favorite and I never wore it again. Also, I had bought a size too big (before I knew what size I was), so the bra was a little loose and it just looked sloppy. Well let me tell you something. The girls are filling up that once-too-big bra quite nicely these days, and the extra room in the belly combined with a super soft and stretchy band around the hips is just what the preg-fashion doctor ordered. I am in love with it all over again and I MIGHT even wear it to the gym. JK, I will.
  4. The book, Put Your Heart In Your Mouth, by Natasha Campbell-McBride. Okay, crap I said I was taking a break from nutrition, but I lied. If you or anyone you know suffers from heart disease or has been told they are at risk for heart disease, and especially if you and that person still think a low-fat, high carbohydrate diet is healthy and will prevent heart disease… get your head out of your arse and read this book immediately. Sorry, not sorry. It’s SO informative and SO good and will get you all fired up. Or maybe just me.
  5. My new blue wall in Sherwin Williams, Drizzle. As in, fo shizzle, mah drizzle. This was such a quick, one-wall job that I was able to tackle it myself this week while Tim was traveling. I even did it while listening to a two-hour audio lecture on probiotics! Crap, I said break from nutrition, break from nutrition, Erin. Get it together. Whatever, I’m a nerd and I like it. ;)
2014-05-14 18.45.54-1

Complete with messy couch pillows and a blanket that WAS folded… thank you, Vinny.

What fun things have been on your favorites list recently?

xx

e

What to Eat?

 

I spent an entire post sharing my love for the Primal Blueprint, admitting that it is my preferred lifestyle diet and one I recommend again and again simply for its nutritional soundness and the fact that it’s easy to follow. But if you want to get into the nitty gritty of breaking down what’s on your plate into the proper macronutrient ratios (that’s carbs, protein, and fat) for optimal wellness, then this post is for you.

2014-05-15 12.18.03

One of the first and most important things I teach my nutritional therapy clients is how to look at their plates and balance their portions. It was one of the simplest and most significant changes I made to my own eating habits when I learned, and the way we all should be eating for optimal wellness.*

It seems simple enough: 40% of each and every meal and/or snack should consist of carbohydrates, with the remaining 60% consisting of protein and fat. Easy, right?

But that brings up another question. What are the best, healthiest sources of each macronutrient so that we can make sure what we’re eating really IS nutrient-dense? (A plate of fried chicken wings and french fries may fit the 40/30/30 profile, but you can bet your behind it’s not the best option, friend. Hate to disappoint.)

Here’s what you need to know.

40% Carbohydrates

  • The majority of carbohydrates should be low glycemic vegetables that are raw or lightly cooked
  • Include two or three fresh, whole fruits (not juice) each day
  • Occasionally, include starchy carbs (whole grains, potatoes, brown rice, etc.), but try to keep the starchy carb intake to less than 15%
  • Select organic, local, and seasonal products whenever possible

30% Protein

  • Pastured, grass-fed beef
  • Wild meats
  • Organic, free-range poultry
  • Whole, raw, or cultured dairy products
  • Organic lamb
  • Organic, free-range eggs
  • Low-toxicity seafood

30% Fat

  • Raw, soaked nuts and seeds
  • Raw, cold-pressed oils from nuts and seeds (flax, sesame, etc.)
  • Cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil
  • Saturated fats from healthy sources of animal fat and tropical oils

 

And, since I know this is going to be your next question…

What to Avoid 

  • Pasteurized, homogenized, skim, and low-fat milk
  • Soy
  • Farmed seafood
  • Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats
  • Highly processed vegetable oils like corn and canola
  • Fried foods
  • Refined sugar and corn syrup products
  • White flour products
  • Canned foods
  • Artificial vitamins
  • Toxic additives and colorings
  • Refined, table salt

Overwhelmed? Don’t be. All you have to do is stop looking at the “Nutrition Facts” on the label of whatever you’re buying, and start paying more attention to the ingredients. If what’s in the package contains a bunch of stuff you can’t pronounce or anything on the “what to avoid” list above, put that bad boy back on the shelf and step away! Better yet (you’ve heard this a million times by now, but maybe it’s just starting to sink in), shop around the perimeter of the store, specifically for things that don’t have labels… produce, meat, fish, grass-fed butter… when’s the last time you saw a bag of organic apples with a list of ingredients? Nothing to worry about then, right? Eating right doesn’t have to be rocket science.

Stay tuned for an upcoming post with quick and easy meal options that follow the 40/30/30 guideline, and in the meantime, get started brainstorming some of your own!

xx

e

 

*There is a degree of bioindividuality to consider when figuring out macronutrient ratios, meaning – we’re all different. Keep in mind that these are broad guidelines and some people may require more or less of a certain macronutrient in their diets to feel their best.

 

P.S. Bonus reads to check out:

  • This article on saturated fats, by Dr. Mercola (and basically, that whole website)
  • Food Rules, by Michael Pollan

Revisiting The Primal Blueprint

2014-05-14 13.25.19

I’ve mentioned in a few posts recently that I’ve been reminiscing about living in our first apartment in Jupiter, how it has me homesick for Florida and the life we had there. Without getting all philosophical and emotional about the past and present and blah blah, I will say that I’ve been doing a little soul-searching to figure out why things feel so different now and guess what came up for me repeatedly? A major – and I mean MAYY-JORR - contributing factor to living the vibrant, healthy, happy life we enjoyed there was - SHOCKER!! - our diet and workouts. You’d think as a yoga teacher and nutritional therapist, this would be old news to me, right? I mean, duh, Erin. Duhhh.

SO, long story short, I thought back to when I first started getting into fitness and healthy eating, and decided to revisit the first book I ever read on the Paleo diet/lifestyle – that changed the way I looked at food and working out, might I add: The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Total Body Transformation.

primal blueprint book

Okay, ignore the cheesy cover – this book is legit.

I first found the book by poking around the internet googling something along the lines of “eat like a female bodybuilder”… I KNOW, I know, make fun of me now, I’m fine with it. I had started working out more (Tim was traveling a lot and I was only working part-time so it became something to fill gaps in my day) but I wasn’t noticing much change in my body. I didn’t actually want to be a body-builder, but I knew my body type was muscular (aka, I was not designed to look like a super-skinny VS model) and I wanted to see what I could do with it. But I was still weak and knew it probably had something to do with my diet because, at that point all I knew of nutrition was the mainstream low-fat, whole grain nonsense… I was clueless (like the majority of the population) about feeding myself for optimal wellness and in this case, athletic performance.

ANYWAY. In my google search, I came across this article, which I could totally relate to… and which led me to this article, which broke down the Paleo diet so I could understand it… which then led me to Mark’s Daily Apple, Mark Sisson’s website. After poking around a bit on his site, I downloaded the 21-Day Total Body Transformation and, as I said above, my life was changed.

Tim and I implemented the lifestyle immediately. I was already getting an organic produce share every week, so my grocery trips to Whole Foods and sometimes Costco meant stocking up on quality meat and fish, healthy fats like organic coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil, and a variety of spices and primal-friendly pantry staples like coconut aminos and almond meal.

20120911-180834.jpg

20120918-114033.jpg

The mother load.

I continued my workouts and noticed changes in my strength and endurance in the first week. I was adding weight to my sets consistently and feeling strong and energized at the end of my workouts instead of depleted and dizzy.

20120926-113847.jpg

HA! Nice face. Remember this?! Check my guns, yo!

We followed the advice of the book and started enjoying exercise more by finding things we liked to do outside the gym, participating in group beach workouts and going for bike rides together.

20120916-124312.jpg

20121001-154259.jpg

Six days a week, we ate every meal according to the primal blueprint guidelines, enjoying a glass of red wine here and there, a square of 90% dark chocolate almost every night, and one night a week, usually on the weekend, we’d enjoy a meal at one of many local favorite restaurants. While we tried to stick close to primal blueprint guidelines when we ate dinner out, we knew we couldn’t control what was going into the dish and we didn’t obsess about it. And sometimes, we didn’t stick to the blueprint at all. We were crazy fit, healthy, energized, and happy! Life was seriously our oyster and we were eating it right up… because those are allowed, heyyyy.

Enjoying a burger, fries, and beer (off-meal) after a long bike ride on the beach... and, from the look on his face, also enjoying ESPN on the bar TV. ;)

Enjoying a burger, fries, and beer (off-meal) after a long bike ride on the beach… and, from the look on his face, also enjoying ESPN on the bar TV. ;)

IMG_0306

Eggs (in one of many forms) and veggies for breakfast were ARE the new norm.

***

SIDE NOTE TIME! Now, I will admit that being pregnant has me a little more body-conscious than normal right now, (and that my current total weight gain of 6lbs feels like 20 on my 5’3″ frame) but this isn’t about that. It’s about getting back the energy, the clarity of mind and body, the zest for life, and preparing myself not only for the delivery of a healthy baby, but also for my rebound into a successful run with breast-feeding and optimal post-preg wellness for both me and the babe.

So that is what inspired me, a couple weekends ago, on the way home from our road-trip to Raleigh, to take the 4.5 hours in the car as the perfect opportunity to revisit and refresh my memory of the Primal Blueprint. So that A) I could get re-motivated to clear my kitchen of any lingering first-trimester junk food and replace it with healthy primal-friendly stock, and B) so that I could share with YOU the basic gist of the Primal Blueprint and perhaps persuade you to look into trying it for yourself. (I promise, you won’t regret it!)

2014-05-05 16.06.24

SO, without further rambling (geez, I know, sorryyyy, that was a long intro), here it is.

The Primal Blueprint is about getting the greatest health and fitness benefits you can with the least amount of pain, suffering, and sacrifice [...] Today, my goal is to look super fit without having to follow an exhaustive, time-consuming exercise regimen, [and] enjoy the heck out of my meals without the slightest hint of deprivation.  - Mark Sisson

I’m going to outline the key concepts for you here. You can find more information about the lifestyle by visiting Mark’s Daily Apple, or of course, by getting one of the many books he’s written on the Primal Blueprint. (Nope, I’m not being paid to say that.)

Out with the OLD

The Primal Blueprint involves changing your lifestyle, but let me just say this once: IT IS NOT HARD. So get it out of your head that it is. For starters, here’s what you can leave in your past:

  • Grains, sugars, sweetened beverages. All of it. Processed carbs drive insulin production which can lead to inflammation and fatigue among other issues.
  • Hydrogenated oils. There’s the obvious heavily processed snack foods and packaged baked goods along with deep-fried foods, but this also means no more margarine or “spreads”, canola, corn, or vegetable oils either. All this stuff sets the stage for cancer and heart disease, no matter what it says on the label about being heart-healthy, so pitch it! You’ll have plenty of other primal-friendly options in terms of healthy fats that will leave you way more satisfied.
  • Beans and legumes. These babies are just hard to digest, period. They can mess with your gut big time and therefore your immune system and health in general.
  • Dairy. You don’t haaave to get rid of it, but here’s the thing: most commercial dairy isn’t good for anyone. It’s loaded with hormones and other impurities. If you’re lactose tolerant, opt for organic, pastured butter and heavy cream. YES, that’s right. BUTTER. And HEAVY CREAM.
  • Chronic exercise. I’m talking to you, chick on the elliptical. Time to reject your hours spent in the gym and the idea that reaching a certain number of miles, hours, or weekly workouts is the key to fitness. It’s not.
  • Sedentary patternsNow I’m talking to you, chick in front of the computer. Google “sitting disease” and tell me what you find. How about a lot of fat storage, elevated risk of heart disease, joint pain, muscle weakness, and lack of energy? Get up and move.
  • Poor sleep habits. Just go to bed already. Leave the phone plugged in downstairs, use a real alarm clock, and “shut down” at least an hour (preferably more) before climbing into bed.
  • Somber, spartan approach to lifestyle transformationGet it out of your head that you have to count calories, have rigid portion control and specifically timed meals, limited menu choices, guilt, or binging cycles. Does this sound familiar? Well, it’s over. There’s no strict workout regimen, no struggling, and no suffering. Like I mentioned before: IT IS NOT HARD. You’re welcome.

In with the NEW

Is this starting to sound like something you might be interested in trying? Sound too good to be true? It’s not. It is that good. Here’s what you can look forward to with  your new primal lifestyle:

  • Primal foodsMeat! Fish! Poultry! Eggs! Veggies! Fruits! Nuts! Seeds! High-quality fats! Eat it up and love your life! Guess what else? You can even enjoy your red wine and dark chocolate, too!
  • Primal eating philosophyEat as much of your primal foods as you want, when you want, however often you want. You’ll begin to notice you’re satisfied with less, after meals you don’t feel stuffed or bloated (you feel amazing), and you can indulge sensibly without having the urge to binge because you’re able to enjoy life guilt-free. If you’re anything like me, this will be HUGE for you.
  • Increase daily movementNotice this doesn’t say, “do this exercise five times a week”. Nope. Did you not read that part above? NO MORE of that. Do what makes you happy. Do what you enjoy. Walk more. Use stairs. Take frequent breaks when you have to sit for a long time (i.e., at work, etc). Basically, get off your behind and move around.
  • Brief, intense workoutsThis may be a curve ball or something new to some of you but give it a shot – it’s essential for maintaining high energy levels and a healthy heart and lungs at any age. Go harder but less often and for less time. So, like a 30-minute (or less) strength workout. Sprint intervals for 15 minutes (or less). That’s all… it’s easy, and you don’t have to do this every day.
  • Calming evening rituals. Like I mentioned above, wind down at night to prepare yourself for a healthy night’s sleep. Turn off the tv, put away the technology, dim the lights, use candles, read, chat with your loved one, take a slow neighborhood stroll. You get the idea.
  • FUN approach to lifestyle transformation. This is your chance to explore exciting new foods, recipes, and establish new eating practices. (Side note: I will never forget the first time we tried sun-chokes or kale… and how my cookbook collection expanded to include what are now some of my favorite recipes of all time!) You’re going to start exercising for fun and energy, and best of all – NO MORE OVERTRAINING! You’re going to PLAY more! And probably best of all, you’ll start to enjoy life more with your loved ones, because you’ll be inclined to be less “connected” and more appreciative of spending time with your family and friends. This really does happen, people! (This is the part where I could go on a tangent about diet and digestion and protein and fat and related neurotransmitter production and mental wellness… but I’ll spare you.) ;)

erincastle

20120913-005431.jpg

20120913-230726.jpg

What to expect…

So aside from the energy levels and new zest for life you can expect to experience by going primal, what are some other benefits from adopting this new way of life? So glad you asked.

  • Anti-agingI can’t explain this as well as Mark does here.
  • AppetiteYou won’t overeat anymore. You just won’t. Adopting the Primal Blueprint literally cured me of my binging tendencies.
  • Blood markersExpect to see some improvement in your cholesterol. But how can that be, eating red meat and butter?! I’m rolling my eyes at you right now. Get your head out of the low-fat-high-carbohydrate-garbage diet myth you’ve been fed for years and start doing your own research.
  • Body fatYou will lose body fat. Can I say that any more simply?
  • Diminished cravings. People don’t believe me when I tell them I just didn’t want grains, junk food, or sweets any more. Sure, I indulged on occasion, but I didn’t miss them in my daily life. Don’t believe me? Guess you’re going to have to experience it yourself.
  • Digestion. If you didn’t already know, your digestion is probably impaired… yours and nearly 90% of Americans’. The Primal Blueprint follows the guidelines of the diet I recommend as a nutritional therapist for optimal digestion, and optimal wellness. Period.
  • Drug-free. This can mean so many things… you’ll soon be ready to ditch your OTC antacids and pain relievers, then, with your doctor’s support, you’ll be able to work toward eliminating many if not all of your prescription meds, too.
  • Immunity. This goes hand in hand with digestion: healing your digestion leads to optimal immune system function. You’ll probably notice getting sick less often and recovering more quickly if you do happen to get run down.
  • Measurements. If you happen to be keeping track, you’ll see these change, too. Your clothes will fit (and look!) better and looser as you decrease body fat, reduce systemic inflammation, and get rid of the bloating and water retention! Where will you see this first? Tush, hips, thighs, waist – the primary storage areas for fat. (YAY!)
  • Muscle mass. Increase or maintain and sculpt muscle mass while dropping body fat. Um, isn’t that basically ideal and what everyone wants? Awesome.
  • SleepYou’ll fall asleep faster, sleep better and more soundly, and begin to awaken naturally (without an alarm), refreshed and energized. No joke.
  • StressDiet alone affects the way our body and mind respond to stress. The Primal Blueprint will help regulate this and reduce fatigue, burnout, and dysfunction that seems to go hand in hand with a hectic modern life.
  • Total fitness. The Primal Blueprint involves functional exercise and a diet that develops and supports a balanced physique and broad physical competency. See that picture above, the one of me doing my best meathead impression and taking selfies in the gym? Ha. Okay take a close look at the picture of me standing. For most of my life, carrying most of my weight around my hips (like many people), I never used to look like that… even and muscular and balanced from head to toe. And I’ll never forget my mom’s reaction when I carried a huge la-z-boy recliner up a flight of stairs by myself. Simply put, you’ll look good, and you can do more – physically – without risk of overtraining or injury.
  • Optimal wellnessEverything listed above and more. Improved bone density. Glucose tolerance. Insulin sensitivity. Improved blood pressure. Hormone balance. How will you know about all of this if you’re not being tested for it? Simple. You’ll feel the best you’ve ever felt.

So… wow. There you have it. Man, I don’t know about you but revisiting this book has me totally reenergized to get back to that lifestyle.

And you? What are you waiting for?! Get the book and join me!

xx

e

P.S. Nope, I wasn’t paid for writing this. (Sadly!) My opinion is legit. I really do love it and recommend it with all my heart. Go for it.