Sunday, December 27, 2009

10 easy steps to clean up your 2010…

I was recently introduced to all of you on StacyKnows via Seth Leitman’s blog - 'The Green Living Guy'.

I am a classically trained chef, caterer and cooking coach. I have become fascinated with the holistic view of food and how healthy eating can be delicious as well as nutritious.  This passion for healthy cooking has lead me to transform my health as well as that of my family and clients.   My mission is to share my knowledge and experience, showing people how easy it can be to clean up their diets and ultimately improve their health. 

What better time for this than a post-holiday food binge? 

O.K. everyone, so let’s not dwell on the past few weeks…

Time to move forward…

If we tune into our bodies’ innate responses to the winter solstice or if we are feeling heavy and lethargic from that last piece of fruit cake, the time has come, once again, to clean-up our acts.

Incorporate some, or all, of these 10 easy steps to clean up your 2010

1) Stop making excuses.  Start replacing some of your regular fruits and vegetables with local and organic choices.  They are readily available at most of the local grocery stores, as well as Mrs. Greens and Whole Foods. They are slightly more expensive, but here’s an idea: skip 1 or 2 of your caramel macchiato at Starbucks & spend that money on better quality produce. These fruits and vegetables not only are free of the pesticides and preservatives used on conventional produce, but they also contain more absorbable vitamins and minerals for your body.

2) Keep fresh fruits and vegetables easily accessible.  Throw an apple in your handbag and some fresh fruit or cut up veggies in your car. There are advantages to the cold weather.  These snacks can stay in your car all day and they will stay fresh and crisp.  If you are pressed for time, carve out a bit of time on Sundays and prep a large amount of fruit and veggies for the week. Keep your fridge stocked with these natural snacks and keep them in the front.

3) Give up sugar and 'diet' beverages.  If you need to sweeten a drink try using STEVIA.  It is a natural, calorie-free sweetener which is derived from a plant.  It comes in both liquid and powdered form and can be purchased at local health food stores (also can buy online).  Getting your body off sugar will help curb many food cravings, not only cravings for sweets.   You will notice a significant reduction in your desire for processed carbohydrates as well.

4) Move away from bags and boxes.  Speaking of processed food, try to eat foods that are as close to nature intended.  I truly believe that the majority of our diet should be made up of foods that exist simply in nature.  Anything that grows in the ground, on a vine or on a tree is perfect fuel for our bodies.  Lean animal protein is great fuel as well.  I prefer grass-fed, pasture raised poultry, beef and wild caught fish.

5) Warm your insides as the weather grows colder.  Warm beverages and liquid is more gentle for your body than cold and it aid in digestion, absorption and assimilation of nutrients.  Our digestive tract functions much more efficiently when it is warm.  Green tea is a great addition to your diet. It contains a substance called epigallocatechin-3-gallate.  This substance (EGCG) has been proven to lower high blood pressure, lessens the risks of cardiovascular disease, stroke and certain cancers. It is also considered an appetite suppressant. The longer you steep the tea, the more antioxidants are released for consumption.Tea Forte, Inc. Gourmet Teas

6) Incorporate shakes into your daily diet.  The vitamins and minerals that are contained in fruits and vegetables are made much more readily available for your body to utilize when they are consumed in liquid form.  Pureeing these ingredients is preferred over using a juicer, because the juicer removes all the valuable fiber from which our bodies can benefit.  I recommend using frozen berries, banana (for a creamy texture), almond/soy/rice/ or real milk, some vanilla or almond extract, cinnamon (great for circulation), and a green - such as kale.  Kale is packed with essential nutrients such as calcium, folate, potassium, fiber, iron, vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K.  Kale also contains sulforaphane which promotes healthy blood vessels and has been shown to prevent cancer and boost the immune system.

7) Dont cry, eat lots of onions.  Cooked onions add tons of flavor to everyday foods and they are a wonderful tool for warding off influenza and respiratory infections. The sulfur compounds are what make you cry when you cut onions, but they are also what make the onion such a valuable addition to your diet.  They have anti-inflammatory properties that relieve cold & flu symptoms as well as congestion. Red onions are not only sweeter, but they have been shown to contain more pigment flavanols than their yellow siblings.  A flavonoid named quercetin works with vitamin C to help strengthen the body’s defense system against cold & flu causing germs.

8) Soups are another great addition to your winter diet.  Soups have many of the same benefits stated above in #5 with respect to warming the digestive tract.  They are also a wonderfully tasty way to incorporate many nutrient rich vegetables into your body.  Don’t be afraid to make home-made soup.  It is incredibly simple.  Use this simple recipe as a base and then add whatever tempts your appetite.  Simply sauté equal amounts of chopped onions, carrots & celery in a heavy stock pot with some good quality olive oil.  Once the vegetables have become soft and the onions are transparent, add other vegetables &/or cooked beans and then add stock to cover all ingredients.  Bring to a boil and then lower the heat and simmer for as long as you have time. The longer the soup simmers, the thicker and more intense the flavor.  Feel free to add fresh or dried herbs to taste.

9) Keep some healthy grains pre-cooked in the fridge.  Quinoa is a really good grain to add to your repertoire.  It has recently been said to be the world’s most nutritious whole grain.  It has almost twice the protein of other grains, fewer carbohydrates and a bit of heart healthy fat.  It is a complete protein meaning that it contains all eight essential amino acids in addition to being full of antioxidants.  It is also a gluten free-bonus for our celiac friends. It’s also incredibly easy to make.  Just add one cup of quinoa and 2 cups of water to a pot with a lid.  Bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for approximately 15 minutes or until all water has been absorbed.

10) Last, but not least eat chocolate!!!!!!  I wouldn’t forgive myself or be able to follow my own advice if I didn’t include some sort of indulgence.  I highly recommend allowing yourself a bit of dark chocolate when the need arises.  If you are craving something sweet, indulge in a square or two of good quality dark chocolate.  The darker the better - it should be at least 70% cocoa.  The higher the percentage of cocoa, the lower the sugar content and the less risk of triggering additional cravings.  The purer the cocoa source the better the chocolate is for you.  The milk in “milk chocolate” reduces its antioxidant content.  The procyanidins and epicatechins, the main flavonols in cocoa, have been shown to improve heart health by reducing both blood pressure and cholesterol.  It has also been said that these compounds can improve your mood.  So, go ahead & indulge…in moderation of course.

Elyce Jacobson

In Good Taste

(914) 589-5856


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