Intention 2017

Happy New Year 2017!

I hope everyone had a safe and peaceful new year with your loved ones. 

Just like many people I have been reflecting on 2016, and contemplating 2017 for the last several days. As John Lennon sang, “What have you done? Another year is over, and new one just begun.” I was utterly those words when I thought about what I’ve done in 2016. Surely, I did something, didn't I? Oh! I gave birth to our son, and that is definitely something. But when I think about if I have accomplished a goal or something worth mentioning in 2016, I could not think of anything. My husband and I talked about this the other day, and I came to the conclusion that I lived 2016 in survival mode; being pregnant, homeschooling two kids (one being a challenging 3 year old), moving to a new place, giving birth, and trying to keep our home together with a new born. Survival living pretty much sums up my year 2016. I also felt at the end of 2016 that I was not motivated or inspired to do anything new or challenging. I was just … content. Being content is not a bad thing, but I want something a bit more. Then, I saw this quote. 

“Live less out of habit and more out of intent”

Perfect. That is exactly what I will do in 2017; live everyday with intention.

First, I have committed to doing a monthly cooking demo at a local farmers market. I have done one in November and December, and I enjoyed it very much. I want my demos to be an invitation for healthy eating and healthy living, especially for families.

Second, I will make some changes with my blog. I will continue writing about healthy food and healthy cooking, but I will also share my experience and thoughts on healthy and happy living in a more broader way, including relationship, friendship, and parenting. 

Third, I will nurture my personal growth in addition to taking care of my loved ones. I have been doing something new, which I will share later on the blog, and I think it’s making a positive change. 

Fourth, I will determine what is important to my life, and shed what is not. I am reading a book called Essentialism, and what the author writes resonates with me. You simply cannot do everything, even if you want to. In a world where you are bombarded with materials and information, you can be easily overwhelmed, and feel that you are missing something if you are not “connected”. However, as an old saying goes, if you take in too much and if you do too much, you certainly spread yourself out thin. You have to be selective in order to be happy and satisfied with what you do. 

I am excited and grateful to share my journey with you here, and I hope you continue to visit. Here is to a new and exciting new year! Cheers!

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Confession of a Health Coach

I have a confession to make. My health is not “perfect”. “Not Perfect” as in I have a medical condition. 

In January, I received a phone call from my OB/GYN office, and was told that my blood sugar level was elevated. I needed to see a nutritionist. What???

It turned out that I have gestational diabetes. (Surprise! I am pregnant!) For several days, I pondered on why I developed this condition. I called a few friends to express my surprise and disbelief (“why me?”). I consulted “Dr. Google” about the condition. I made an appointment with a nutritionist, and learned more about this disease. The meeting was very informative and encouraging, so much so, I stopped asking “why” I had gestational diabetes and started to look for solutions. 

For the next several weeks, I followed the advice of the nutritionist and checked my blood sugar level (BSL) 4 times per day, wrote down everything I ate, and watched the amount of carbohydrates I consumed. In addition to this strict regiment, I added green leafy vegetables to every meal. I don’t know why I started doing this. I suppose I felt my body needed more nutrients. I thought that reducing carbohydrates intake was not enough. It was a simple, yet profound, effect on how I managed my gestational diabetes (GD). 

I want to convey this is NOT a prescription or medical advice. I am simply sharing my experience. If you are diagnosed with GD, I strongly advise you to follow the advice of your doctor.

A bunch of spinach going into my lasagna.

A bunch of spinach going into my lasagna.

That being said, here is how my diet played a major role in managing my GD. 

1.     EAT GREENS AT EVERY MEAL

    I started adding kale, bokchoy, chard, spinach, nappa, and spring mix to every meal. For example, in the morning I would sauté some greens and eat it with eggs, potatoes, or some meat. If I had a piece of toast or small waffle, I would still sauté greens or have a small salad on the side. I found that this lowered my BSL when I added greens, even if I ate the exact same carbohydrates and protein of choice.

Girls' breakfast (oven baked pancake with berries) and Mama's breakfast (sausage from farmer's market with corn tortilla and salad)

Girls' breakfast (oven baked pancake with berries) and Mama's breakfast (sausage from farmer's market with corn tortilla and salad)

2.     AVOID EATING OUT

    No matter what I ordered at a restaurant, my blood sugar level after eating out was always high. Even a salad or half a sandwich would raise my BSL. The first time I ate out, my BSL was sky high. This scared me. 

3.     COOK AT HOME

    As I cooked and ate at home, I found something interesting. My BSL was always low, even if I ate what was considered a “high carb” meal such as lasagna, spaghetti, or pizza. Of course, if I cooked at home, I added a green salad or other vegetables to the meal.

Homemade Chicken pot pie with kale & avocado salad

Homemade Chicken pot pie with kale & avocado salad

4.     DO NOT USE ANY BOXED MEALS

    Sometimes, especially for lunch, I use boxed or frozen food, such as Annie’s mac & cheese and pizza for my girls. I always add green peas, broccolis or carrots to it. But If I eat just a 1/2 cup of these boxed or frozen foods, it raises my BSL. It does not matter if it is organic, gluten free, or claimed to be “healthy”, it would always raise my BSL. A friend of mine gave me a bag of Japanese seasoning for fried rice and soup. I used just 1 tea spoon for fried rice, and my BSL was much higher. However, when I made regular fried rice, without the seasoning, and just added salt and soy sauce, my level stayed low. The only two things I found that did not effect my BSL was low-sugar Spaghetti sauce (you have to make sure that the sauce does not contain a lot of sugar) and Taco and Enchilada seasoning from Frontera. Thank goodness I can use these when I do not feel like cooking much. 

As I mentioned before, food affects each person differently. From this seemingly difficult situation, I have been able to manage my gestational diabetes with diet. As a consequence, my energy level is higher, my skin looks better, and I have not gained too much weight compared to my other two pregnancies. I am hoping to maintain these changes for our family’s health after the baby is born in a few months. 

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Visit to local farmers markets

I cannot believe it is already the end of April. Where DOES the time go? Presently, the weather is fine here where I live. The temperature is just right, not too hot, and not too cold. A fair amount of rain is welcome after years of drought in California. The most exciting thing for me is that our local farmers market is literally blooming. Someone recently told me that she feels intimidated to go to the farmers market because she feels that she is not "foodie" enough. It has been over 15 years since I started going to farmers market, and I do remember feeling the same the first few times I went to the market. It can be intimidating. Not because of the farmers or produce that are sold there, but because it is something different, and it is a different way to shop. At the market, you don't go through isles without looking at other people, put things in a cart nonchalantly, and pay at the end, while only making small talks with a cashier who has little connection to what you are buying. I remember feeling nervous talking to each vendor, not knowing what is in season, and not knowing what to buy. I did not want to seem imprudent, but I am sure I did sometimes. But that’s okay, it was a learning experience. What I discovered, after overcoming my fear, was that the farmers and vendors were very friendly, and they are proud and love to talk about what they are offering. 

Now, on Saturdays, I wake up early to go to the market. Sometimes my girls come with me if they are awake. The first thing I do is say good morning to our egg and sausage farmer, April. She also has yummy jams & jellies. We chitchat for a few minutes about her produce, her work (she is actually a music teacher), and our families. Then I visit our main produce farmer, Greg and Susan. They’ve known our oldest daughter since she was 2 (now she is almost 7). They call her their "blueberry girl" as she loved to eat blueberries. They would give her a basket of blueberries, and she would stroll around eating them around the market. Now, her little sister is doing the same. Greg and Susan have great variety of fruits and vegetables: berries, cherries, stone fruits, green leaf vegetables, varieties of squash, onions, etc. Whenever it rains, I think about them as their farms have suffered greatly during the drought. It seems, though, that it will be a good year for them. I always find it hard to resist buying everything they offer. Right now, their berries are sweet, and cherries are showing up. Their stone fruits are pretty sweet for April. Their green leaves always look scrumptious, and the herbs make my car and kitchen smell so good. We say bye to them, and go down to buy our weekly fresh fruits juice from Emanuel. The girls love getting samples from him. It is great to be able to give my girls juice without feeling guilty. We usually buy fruit juice from him, and he also has healthier choices such as green juice, and turmeric and ginger shots. We then say hello to a few craft venders, and bakers. In April, we also buy asparagus whenever we see them. Along the way, my girls are stopping by each vendor to get samples. 

asparagus

Our last stop is usually at the Murray Farm’s stand. Their cherries are out of this world. I heard that they are offering pick-your-own cherries this year, which has not been offered for the last few years due to drought. We will be sure to be there, believe me. Their farm is equipped with hay rides, a maze, a butterfly house, play grounds for kids, and much more. We visit their farm at least a few times a year. 

By the time we finish, my hands are full of great produce and goodies. When I get home and place everything we bought on the kitchen counter, I feel so rich and fortunate. Needless to say, Saturday lunch is always full of fresh local produce. 

Saturday Lunch: Potato & Carrots au gratin, asparagus with chicken sausage, & green salad. Farmers market goodnesss. 

Saturday Lunch: Potato & Carrots au gratin, asparagus with chicken sausage, & green salad. Farmers market goodnesss. 

2016

Happy New Year! 

I cannot believe that 3 weeks has already past since 2016 started. I have been absent from this space due to some personal (but exciting) happenings in my life. Because of these happenings, I have decided to invite a few of my good friends to write for this space time to time. I have had the privileged of knowing these fabulous women over the past several years. During that time I discovered that we are similar in some ways and different in others, and that makes them so invaluable to my life. 

Today, I am thrilled to introduce you to Vikki. Vikki and I met through a local mommy group. We connected through the love of healthy cooking and eating for our families. Although she moved two hours away, we continue to be good friends and she visits me whenever she can. She is a former middle school teacher, now a full time mom with two active boys age 4 and 3. She is one of the funniest people I have ever met, and her wicked and clever jokes always make me laugh with tears. Vikki is also a great cook. She is always trying different ways to raise a healthy family. I am so grateful to have her unconditional support for me as a person and as a health coach. 

 

Effortless Cooking by Vikki Locken

As a new mom, feeding my baby became the motivation for me to change the way I cooked and ate forever. I was a recent disciple of Michael Pollan and the real food movement. My desire to feed my family led me to one meal plan after another, all of which failed me.  Too complicated, too bland, too spicy, even the dog won’t eat that, etc… Many Sunday afternoons were obsessively spent planning meals for the week and tracking down some very hard to find ingredients. I finally learned to trust my own instincts as a cook and mother. I know the foundation of long term success in the kitchen, and for health, is making things manageable. Easy is better and it is healthy. Here are the lessons I learned to make cooking and eating enjoyable for everyone in the family. 

  1. Meal plan with familiar recipes as the foundation of your week, even if it means repetition at the beginning of your transition. For those nights, focus on adding at least one vegetable and one fruit at every dinner meal.  A simple mixed salad (don’t worry if you’re missing fancy ingredients) and sliced fruit works. This gives you time to focus on enjoying your meal and creating a relaxed environment.
  2. Make vegetable literacy the foundation of your kitchen learning. It has taken me years to come up with an arsenal of seasonal vegetables and fruits to serve on a daily basis. It is the hardest thing for most people to change because vegetables are not a central part of our modern food culture and not many of us know how to prepare them tastefully. This one thing can transform the nutrition of your meals. It doesn’t matter how much we know we are supposed to eat better, if our food doesn’t taste good, our habits won’t change. Everyone in the family can learn to like nutritious foods, if all members see the value of learning to like different types of food. Don’t fall for the superfoods hype. All vegetables and produce have benefits, especially if you are learning to like them. 
  3. Use themes to make meal planning even easier. Burrito night, pasta night, salad and soup night, eggs night, fish night, comfort food night, Crock-pot night and even pizza night. By setting up the structure for your week, you are much more likely to easily brainstorm meals that are approachable for you while again slowly working on making them more nutritious. Our favorites are Mexican night. I have no shame in our weekly burrito night and pasta night. Those always please everyone and make it a pleasure to feed my family nutritious food.
  4. Make sure there is something at the table for everyone to enjoy. Serving a brand new roasted fennel and olives chicken you feel proud of? Then prepare yourself with an extra glass of wine because your children probably won’t eat it until they’ve thrown it at the wall at least three times. Like many childhood nutrition experts, I agree that children should have a variety of choices at the dinner table and be able to choose without coercion. Chicken nuggets have a place, stuck in the freezer section. Instead, try plain yogurt, cottage cheese, nuts, plain whole grains, or a simple bowl of cooked beans in addition to vegetable and fruit choices.  
  5. Embrace and celebrate your role as a home cook. Food preparation is a skill that is honed over a lifetime, and you should take pride in being able to prepare delicious food for yourself and others. Say it with me: I enjoy preparing nutritious foods for my family to enjoy.  Say it while you smear that peanut butter on that jelly, girl! Make it a point to teach your family to say thank you to the cook. Appreciation of effort makes our work in the kitchen so much easier. Tips and karaoke requests are gladly accepted. Also sloppy kisses. 

 

Long term healthy eating depends more on habits than on nutrition. Make time to enjoy learning the skills and habits for success in the kitchen.  

 

Prioritizing My Exercise

I was standing in front of the kitchen sink, reluctantly getting ready to wash the dishes from lunch and dinner, when my husband nonchalantly went to our bedroom, changed into his workout clothes, and told me that he was going to the garage (his personal gym) to work out. I looked at him in disbelief, thinking, "don't you see these dishes, and didn't you see the pile of laundry to be put away on our bed?" He told me, "The girls are watching TV, so they are occupied", then he went to the garage. I wanted to tell him that I have been with the girls the whole day, trying to limit their screen time. I wanted to tell him that the last time I work out was.... before my oldest was born. She is now six years old. I wanted to tell him that I wish I could ignore the mountain of dishes and washed clothes like he could, and be selfish like he was. 

I have been wanting to work out, do yoga, go running, or something. Anything! I have told my accountability coach that one of the goals I had in mind was to exercise. That was 10 months ago. I tried working out during the day, and even included the girls in my work out, letting them count and cheer for me. I told my husband to watch the girls while I went to a Zumba class in the evening. Nothing sticked to me, or rather, I did not keep anything with consistency. 

Then, recently, I discovered these two women. Moms to be specific, and read their article. It hit me. I implemented some changes during my morning routine. It is quite simple, but difficult (for me at least) to do: PRIORITIZE MY EXERCISE. My morning routine is like this these past two months. 

5:30am: wake up, make lunch for husband, and see him off.

6:00am: Roll out my yoga mat NO MATTER WHAT, and turn on this yoga video, or do my own yoga routine.

6:30am: Put on some podcast while I put away dishes or clean clothes, or relax on the rocking chair to read my favorite blogs, read a book, lesson plan for the girls, or write a blog entry. 

7:30am: One or both of the girls wake up, hang out with them a little bit, and I am ready to start our busy day. 

Here is what it used to be before the change. 

5:30am: wake up, make lunch for husband, and see him off

6:00am: Sit on the rocking chair with my iPad, start reading blogs, or go on Facebook, and checking out all the interesting articles. 

7:30am: I feel resentful when one or both of the girls wake up, realizing that 1 1/2 hours passed since my husband left for work, hating myself for wasting "me time", and feeling irritated that dishes are not put away, and clothes are still piled up on the bed. I am no way near ready for the day with our active girls. 

The article was so spot on. If I don't prioritize my exercise, and do it the first thing in the morning before my girls are up, I will not get to exercise at all for the rest of the day because there is always, ALWAYS something to be done at home or for the girls: meal preparations, spilt milk on the floor, dirty diapers, dirty dishes, phone calls, lessons, appointments, girls' arguments... 

Some days, especially lately when it is cold in the morning, I want to go back to bed after I see my husband off. Today, actually, I told my husband I did not feel like doing yoga. He said, "Just do it, and you will feel better". He was right. I did a short 15-minute-practice while I listened to podcast, and I felt better and energized afterward. Not only that, I am more patient with my girls. I am ready to play with them. My back does not hurt any more and I don’t feel sluggish when 3 o’clock rolls around.

Headstand

Community Supported Agriculture

Lately, I feel that too much of our money is going to super markets and mega stores. I once was a very conscious consumer. I checked if products were made in this country. I checked if they were marked “fair-trade”. I was also a very conscious consumer of groceries. Organic? Local? Equal treatment of workers? As my family grew by a husband, one child and another child, I somehow lost my sight. When I look at our purchases recently, I realized that very little money goes back to our community. 

CSA basket

So, we decided to give CSA a try. Currently, we subscribe to three CSA's; one of local grass-fed beef, and a small box from two different semi-local CSA's. I like getting one small box from each vegetable CSAs because we have somewhat more varieties of vegetables and fruits during the week. I also like that these CSAs have different delivery days: one on Wednesday, and one on Saturday. The challenge with CSA boxes is that you don't get to choose your own produce. You get what you get. You have to find a way to cook, otherwise they all go waste, which defeats the point. In order for us to eat all of the produce we receive, meal planning is crucial, at least for me. Most CSA organizations provide what’s in the box a few days before the delivery day, which is very helpful for me to start organizing and planning our family meals for the week. Here is what I do. 

I write down everything (veggies, fruits, and proteins) left in my refrigerator or in the pantry first. Then, I write down the contents of Wednesday’s box and the contents of Saturday’s box. From this list, I make a list of meals I can prepare for the week. I consult books or websites for ideas, and I make a list of groceries that I need to buy from stores. Meals are assigned to each day of the week, but I am flexible to switch them around. When I assign meals, I am mindful of our schedule, too. For example, Wednesdays are full days with homeschool co-op and piano. We are out of the house from 8am to 2pm, and my husband and my oldest daughter leaves for Aikido class at 5:30pm. So, between 2pm and 5:30pm, I have to prepare meals, eat dinner, and send them off to their classes. I am usually beat when we get home, so the dinner is most likely something very simple such as soup, sandwiches or pasta. Tuesdays are my husband's off day from teaching Aikido, so I try to plan something we can enjoy longer at the table. Usually, this meal is accompanied with a bottle of wine, my husband’s favorite. Thursdays are my work day in the evening, so I prepare something that does not require many pots, pans or plates. Otherwise, I have to face the dirty dishes when I wake up the next day. 

There is a lot of legwork on Wednesdays, but once I have meal plans written, it is pretty easy to follow for the rest of the week. If I have 30 minutes in the morning, I can start cutting the veggies, soaking grains, or marinading meats. 

I also noticed that frequency of our trip to grocery stores decreased greatly, which gives me peace of mind because going to grocery stores with my girls can be very challenging. I am also feeling motivated to try new recipes with CSA veggies. Right now, I have three heads of green lettuce in the refrigerator, and there will be more coming next week. So, I have to really think of a way to use them before they go bad. 

I am also planning to work on my "freezer meal" skills in the months to come so that meal planning can be more simple for me. I hope to share my experience with you soon.

Apple Season

A few weeks ago, we were lucky enough to go apple picking. I say "lucky enough" because I know that small farmers all over California are suffering from the drought. The orchard we visited last year is not available for apple picking this year due to the drought. I noticed a dramatic, I mean DRAMATIC, reduction in produce in stands at the local famers market. Even my mother, who lives in Japan, tells me that there are less oranges and grapes imported into Japan from California. So, we were indeed lucky to be able to go apple picking this year (it wasn't so during the cherry picking season this year). 

I love how my children learn when we go to the field trips like this. They learn about seasonal produce. They learn about the eco-system. They learn about farmers who work so hard for us to have food on our table. They also learn about local produce and why it is important to support them. It just so happened that we were listening to the audio book of "Esperanza Rising" during the last few weeks. For those of you not familiar with the book, it illustrates the conditions farm workers endure to get us our produce. We are also learning about the activist, Cesar Chavez, and his movement. So, both narratives seem to come together. 

If you have children, or even if you don't, I encourage you to visit local farmers (organic ones are even better!), and learn about where your food comes from. You will feel much closer to the food you eat every day.

At home, we made a very simple apple galette together. 

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Fresh Spring Roll with Cashew & Lime Sauce

What a fun day we had yesterday! I was invited to do a cooking demo at the local farmers market. Many people stopped by at my booth to taste the spring rolls with cashew & lime sauce, all ingredients except rice paper and soy sauce right from the market. I was nervous about doing a demo in public as public speaking is not my forte. However, people were so kind, curious, and friendly! I got to talk about my passion fresh food, cooking, and health coaching! 

Thank you so much for everyone who stopped by. If you did not get to come, here is the spring roll recipe you can try at home. The cashew & lime sauce was a huge hit! You can substitute cashew butter with creamy, unsalted peanut butter, and honey with maple syrup, if you like. Enjoy!

Spring Roll with Cashew & Lime Juice

 

Fresh Spring Roll with Cashew & Lime Sauce

Ingredients:

1 Carrots, peeled and cut into long matchsticks or into smaller shred

1 red pepper, cut into long matchsticks

1 cucumber, cut into long match sticks

Lettuce (green, red, or Romaine works well)

Sprigs of cilantro

Round Rice Sheets

For Cashew & Lime Sauce:

Juice from 1 lime

3 tbsp cashew butter

3 tbsp honey

3 tbsp soy sauce (tamari if gluten free)

1 clove or garlic, grated

1/2 tsp grated ginger

Directions:

  1. Chop all the veggies and set aside
  2. Boil water and pour into a shallow dish or pie plate.
  3. One at a time, soak rice sheet into hot-warm water to soften. 
  4. Lay a softened rice sheet on a towel covered surface.
  5. Place cut lettuce, and other cut vegetables, and a few sprigs of cilantro on the rice sheet. 
  6. Roll the rice sheet, tucking in the sides of the rice sheet. 

To Make Cashew & Lime Sauce:

  1. In a small sauce pan, mix all ingredients and heat on low. 
  2. Whisk well and simmer for a couple of minutes until the mixture thickens.  

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School Has Started.

Hello, there! It has been too long since I posted something here. I have been on "vacation" with visiting relatives from Japan, preparing and finding our own rhythm as our daughter's schooling started.

Speaking of starting school, have your children gone back to school during the last few weeks?  If you are one of those parents who sent your children off to school, especially with a home packed lunch, my hats off to you. Seriously. I have been there, and it is not easy. This year, we decided to homeschool our kindergartener for various personal reasons. Although we do not have the early morning hassle of getting the kids ready, we experience other challenges: lessons plans (for mama), activities, co-op meetings, helping them stay focused, and FOOD! 

I don't know about your children, but my children are always hungry. It seems they want to eat every hour. I feed them breakfast, and one hour later,  they tell me they are hungry. Right after they finish lunch, they are already talking about what they will have for snack and dinner. I don't mind them eating at all, but I have to come up with variety of healthy snacks. Our regular snacks are fruits (tons of fruits), veggie sticks & crackers with hummus, cheese, smoothies, homemade muffins, yogurt with granola, and homemade granola bars. 

Very Satisfying Seedy Granola

Very Satisfying Seedy Granola

I found this great recipe for granola bars from Minimalist Baker. Not only are they much healthier than the store bought ones, they are very satisfying. I believe all the nutrient and protein rich seeds in them do the trick. Even my husband tells me that he only needs a small piece to get him going at work. 

Super Energy Granola Bars - modified from a recipe from Minimalist Baker

Ingredients: 

1 1/2 cups rolled oats 

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1 packed cup dates, pitted (I use medjool)

2 tbsp chia seeds

2 tbsp sunflower seeds

2 tbsp grounded flax seeds

2 tbsp hemp seeds

1/4 maple syrup (or honey)

1/4 cup creamy peanut butter (or almond butter)

1/4 cup currants (or cranberries)

Steps: 

  1. Toast oats and almonds in a 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes (or until slightly golden brown. Process dates in a food processor until small bits remain. It should come together as a lump/ball like a “dough”.
  2. Place oats, almonds, dates in a large mixing bowl. Add seeds.
  3. In a small saucepan, warm maple syrup (or honey) and peanut (or almond) butter over low heat. 
  4. Pour maple-peanut mixture over oat mixture, and mix, breaking up the dates. You can use a wooden spoon or your hands to do this. 
  5. Transfer to a shallow baking dish, lined with plastic wrap or parchment paper. Flatten the mixture. 
  6. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap and press down with something flat to get them really packed tight. This will help them from being crumbly. Chill in the fridge or freezer for 15-20 minutes until it hardens. 
  7. Remove bars from dish and cut them into small bars. 
  8. You can store in an airtight container for up to a few days. 

 

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Seven Simple Words for Your Health

In the last few posts, I invited you to pay attention to your attitude and behavior concerning food. To focus on changing your behavior rather than gaining a lot of information. Recently, my client  said to me she knew what she had to do to be healthy before starting the program, but she did not know how to start and how to continue. 

I think it is safe to say that everyone already knows the basic steps to be healthy. I like what Michael Pollan writes on the cover page of his book, “Defense of Food: Eater’s Manifesto”. “Eat Food. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants”. Seven simple words. A friend posted on her Facebook how confused and overwhelmed she felt with all the nutritional and health information out there. Several people quoted Michael Pollan’s words, and so did I. 

“Eat Food. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants.” It is that simple. However, a lot of people think that being healthy is complicated. Many people I have talked to think that to be healthy you have to be vegetarian. Not at all. At the school I attend, Institute of Integrative Nutrition, we focus on BIO-INDIVIDUALITY. It simply means that each person is built unique, and that one’s healthy food choice may not so for another. You do not have to follow vegetarian, vegan, Macrobiotic diet, or Paleo diet to be healthy. However, If you do decide to follow it, and you feel great and healthy, by all means, please continue with your journey toward health. I think it is great that you have found something that works for you. But, if you are like many others, a person who has tried more than a handful of diet methods, you might want to close your diet book for a while and follow these seven words. 

 

Eat Food

This might be new for some who are not used to eating “food”. “Food” does not usually come in a box. “Food” is not made in a factory. “Food” does not require a list of ingredients. When choosing “food”, ask yourself, does it grow in nature? If you choose a packaged food, look at the ingredient and ask yourself, do these ingredients grow in nature? Vegetables, Dairy, Legumes, Grains, Meat, and Fish are in “food” category. Breakfast cereals, frozen entrees (most of them), and boxed dinners are not. 

 

Not Too Much:

How much is enough? It is hard to say. In Japanese, there is a saying, “Hara Hachibun Me”, which means “when you feel 80% full, stop eating”. I think it is a good guideline. 

 

Mostly Plants:

Plants include vegetables, fruits, legumes (beans, lentils, nuts), and grains. 

 

I would also add, “Drink Water”. I, myself, am not good at drinking enough water. I don’t like the taste of plain water. I usually drink non-caffeinated Japanese tea (Mugi-Cha). I also suggest adding some slices of lemons, oranges, cucumbers, berries, and/or herbs (such as mint, basil, rosemary, etc.). 

 

Happy cooking and healthy eating!

 

Bounty from Farmers Market

Bounty from Farmers Market

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