The Very Best Cauliflower Mash-Smooth as Silk, Firm enough to Stand up to Gravy

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Here’s my confession. I did not want to like cauliflower mash. In general, I am resolutely against pretend foods. You know, desserts concocted from artificial sweeteners, breads baked with mystical “no net carb” ingredients, Tofurky. If you are working to develop a taste for nutritious foods, the last thing you need is the lame taste of fake food in your mouth, reminding you of what you are giving up.

So I resisted cauliflower mash. Because I thought it was a fake food, pretending to be mashed potatoes. (And I have nothing against mashed potatoes, for those who can handle the carbs.)

Then I tasted a heavenly smudge of cauliflower mash at an upscale restaurant in San Jose. It was the snotty sort of eatery that taunts you with dribbles and drops of luscious sauce that never lasts through your entree. Beneath my tiny, artful piece of fish, was the thinnest layer of cauliflower. And it was delicious.

Back home I determined to replicate that heavenly mash. My early attempts were just too. Too wet, too runny, too cauliflowery.

But this recipe, born from a fair bit of tinkering, and the memory of that heavenly smudge, is sublime, like a poem on your tongue. Clearly not mashed potatoes, this cauliflower mash is no pretender, but its own lovely deliciousness. You should make some!

Let’s make cauliflower mash.

Ingredients:

one head cauliflower, separated into florets

1/2 cup coarsely cut onion

1 clove garlic

1 chopped parsnip (about a cup) or 1 chopped carrot (about 1/2 a cup)

1/2 cup salted butter

1 egg yolk

Method:

Place veggies in steamer. I have this huge pot with a steamer insert, but you could use one of those collapsible steamer insert thingies, or the steam function on your Instapot.

Steam veggies until completely tender. Definitely check the carrots or parsnips to make sure they are soft.

Remove veggies from heat to drain and cool off a bit. I just prop my steamer insert up on the edge of my pot.

Remove veggies to a clean kitchen towel draped over a bowl.

Now put on some clean gloves (the veggies are hot), wrap the towel up tight and squeeze the heck out of your cooked veggies.

You will be amazed at how much water squishes out.

Empty your squeezed out veggies into a food processor fitted with the wicked sharp blade.

Blend until totally smooth. Do not settle for sort of lumpy.

Whirl an egg yolk into the mash. If you are worried about undercooked eggs, just leave it out. This is the least important ingredient.

Add butter. In this version I melted the butter. On other occasions I have used clarified butter to accommodate the lactose averse. The last few times I didn’t bother with melting at all, just threw the whole chunk in. Whirl until butter is totally incorporated. If you use unsalted, you will need to add salt to taste. But Kerrygold salted works perfectly.

Revel in the glory you have just created.

With parsnip

 

With carrot

Serve as a side dish.

Or under a meaty, gravy thing.

Or in a bowl with an extra little pat of butter as a decadent snack.

Or use it to top shepherd’s pie.

This recipe doubles easily. Just squeeze the veggies in two batches. We always make double now because we eat it up so, so fast.

Here’s a printable version. Cauliflower Mash

Really, you should make this. It’s wonderful.

Wishing you great success as you gently improve your health.

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A Mindful Dinner Out–Enjoying a Restaurant Meal without Regrets

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in habits, mindfulness, weight loss

 

Last night my husband and I went out to dinner as a pre-Valentine’s Day date. In general we are super practical. We never go out on Valentine’s Day, to avoid crowds. Or for that matter, we never celebrate  our anniversary at a restaurant, since it falls on Saint Patrick’s Day. So we weren’t planning a meal out.

The previous day I had traveled to Salem for an overnight adventure. Before leaving my husband for one whole night, I had prepped days worth of food and it was all sitting in readiness in the fridge. Sausage with spaghetti squash and Mexican pork stew. So Kirk had plenty to eat while I was gone and we had no pressure to cook when I returned.

But I had just driven 4 hours home from Salem and was in a glorious mood. The sun was out, the snow was gone. On the way home I had listened to the radio and simultaneously outlined in my head a book about the intersection of healthy living and gospel thinking. Not sure why, but life was feeling pretty much perfect.

My husband, who is always glad to see me, greeted me with, “I know there is lots of good food in the fridge, but…” and we said together, “let’s go out.”

We chose Brix 25 in Gig Harbor for several reasons. Mostly because the food is great. And partly because I wanted to wear a dress. In particular, my black sweater dress from Talbots that works well with a brown leather belt and tall boots. For a formerly overweight person, wearing a waist defining belt feels like a bit of a deal. And I’m always looking for ways to enjoy my new trim body. And wear more of my new clothes.

So, I dressed up and we took off.

After losing about 50 pounds, I think about all my food choices. I have no illusions that I am healed of my heart’s tendency to want to overeat or my body’s tendency to gain weight easily.  In the car I assessed my current condition. (In my head, ok. I chatted charmingly about other stuff with my dear husband, who has heard enough about diets to last two lifetimes.)

I hadn’t eaten for about 8 hours. After breakfasting with my daughter in Salem, (bacon and eggs), I drove and shopped my way home. (Shopping was entirely at Penzey’s Spice shop in Clackamas. Pure delight to buy new seasonings and imagine the great dinners they will become.)

So two obvious warnings for my healthy living plan. First, going out to eat itself. Restaurants are an obvious setup for overindulgence. The plates are huge. We usually order wine. Which lowers my inhibitions. And second, I was empty, no food onboard.

Oh, and a third potentially pitfall. It was a holiday. Valentine’s Day. The day before, but still. Not on my list of occasions worth going off my eating plan for, but I was concerned I might think so in the moment. I particularly wondered about dessert. After 2 glasses of wine, I could persuade myself that dessert was an excellent idea. I made a deal with myself in the car that the only acceptable dessert would be a small portion of strawberries and chocolate.

The first concern, just going to any restaurant, was partially addressed by choosing a fine dining restaurant. In general, the better the restaurant, the less food they serve.

The smartest thing to do about the second concern, empty stomach, would have been to pre-eat before we left. I didn’t do that, but I was on high alert.

The dessert issue I left unresolved.

Once seated, I perused the oh-so-yummy menu and decided on two strategies that I had employed previously. I stuck with seafood, which is light (if you don’t pick fried or breaded), and I ordered two appetizers instead of a dinner (avoiding the carbs that usually accompany full meals).

Next potential hurdle, the bread basket. My rule of thumb is to only eat bread at restaurants, and then only if it is exceptional. Hmm. This bread was pretty fine and came with two compound butters. I settled on one small piece, torn slowly into even smaller bites. I made a game of making that little piece of bread last until the main course was presented.

Dinner time. The first dish was a tiny handful of scallops decorated with smidges of various flavorings—preserved lemon, watercress, tomatillo salsa. And maybe a single drip of super fine olive oil. Delicate, subtle, and definitely not a large portion.

The second dish was cucumber tartare with king crab. Lovely and tiny, with artful drops and smudges of wasabi.

Ok, no problem with overeating this food. My husband had a gorgeous steak with blue cheese, potatoes and asparagus. Much more food. Much more. If I wasn’t careful, my petite meal would be gone before his second bite of steak.

Eating slowly is a strategy I have used many times. Savoring each bite makes the experience more memorable and extends the fun. Slow eating gives your stomach time to register that you have had enough. And, when you’re with other people, taking your time prevents you from finding your plate empty before your companions are finished.

So I ate slow. Small bites. Fork down and hands in lap between bites. Lots of talking. Lots of listening. Kirk finished first, and by the time I was done (and I ate every scrap of that precious little meal), I was satisfied.

No strawberries on the dessert menu, so I just skipped dessert. Back at home, we each had a square of dark chocolate. A fine evening, with no regrets.

Wishing you great success as you gently improve your health.

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What I Do Instead of Cheat Days-Planned Indulgences

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in foods, gentle change, habits, weight loss

Now that you are on a healthy eating plan, what will happen to all your old favorite foods? Do you have to say goodbye forever? This thought rises up for many of my clients and seriously hinders commitment to weight loss goals.

One way dieters have attempted to cope with this problem is to schedule cheat days. Last time we looked at why cheat days are a bad idea. Read here. But cheat days are not the only option possible for having your cake and eating it too (occasionally).

What I do instead of cheat days
Planned indulgences.

This is your chance to eat your favorite foods that are off plan. I never consider this cheating because it’s built into my eating guidelines. Besides, cheating is silly. Who are you cheating? Yourself? The invisible diet police?

How I do planned indulgences.

First I made a list of my top 12 eating events. (This could also be a list of favorite foods and the occasions when you most want to eat them.) Twelve because I figured I could go off plan about once a month and still meet my weight and health goals. Here’s my list:

  • Christmas Eve
  • Christmas Day
  • Easter Day
  • My birthday
  • My wedding anniversary
  • Meals out at super special restaurants x3
  • Meals out on vacation (in a special restaurant) x4

These top 12 events are times when it really feels worth it to me to eat differently. They are all high quality times spent with loved ones. And I do use these events to eat old favorites. For example, on Christmas Eve we make homemade lumpia (Philippine eggrolls). My eating plan can handle fried food once a year, just not every day or every week. Last year I ordered tiramisu on my birthday, after a romantic dinner with my husband. I won’t regain my lost weight having cake once a year. But I might if I have cake every week. I feel satisfied knowing I can eat anything I want, just not very often. And surprisingly, after months of clean eating, those treats haven’t even tasted quite as good as I remembered.

I plan indulgences for special times with loved ones.

I also made a list of times when I could fool myself into thinking I was having a “special enough” event to warrant an indulgence. My brain can be quite sly and con me into foods I didn’t plan on. Don’t believe everything your mind tells you. Before you know it you will talk yourself into treats everyday!

My “Don’t Be Fooled” list included:

  • Anything that reoccurs every week—like donuts on Sunday at church. Why? It’s not special if it happens every week.
  • Food at ordinary/local/everyday type places like the coffee shop or breakfast place or fast food joint. Why? Opportunities happen too many times a year, possibly multiple times a week if you are busy or social.
  • Indulgent food at home, except for the previously listed holidays. Why? Have you ever eaten all the rest of the brownies when no one was watching? I have, and I need the accountability for my eating behaviors that other people provide. The portions at a restaurant are often huge, but at least they don’t bring you seconds. Or offer you a bowl of frosting. Or let you stand in the kitchen by yourself, browsing the fridge.
  • Foods on my trigger list. Why? Trigger foods are like drugs; the best policy is abstinence. More about trigger foods here.
  • Anything that looks like a buffet or potluck. Why? Too much food variety leads to overeating, and when you can go back for more it’s hard to keep track of portions.

Of course, this is my list of special occasions and my list of “don’t be fooled” occasions. Your list will be different. And your list will take time and effort to refine.

Does that mean I don’t go to church, or the coffee shop, or potlucks? No, of course I do. But I remind myself that this is not a special occasion and that I will remain true to the eating guidelines I have committed myself to.

And when those special occasions really do come up? They are super fun, and they’re not cheating.

Wishing you great success as you gently improve your health.

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Why Cheat Days are a Bad Idea

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in foods, habits, Uncategorized, weight loss

Here’s a short bit about cheat days. Notice the pictures of super ripped, super thin men. If you look like this, go for it. You probably could use a cheat day.

Here’s another look at cheat days and carb refeeds. Notice the female abdomen at the bottom of the page. If your belly button is flat like hers, with no place you could poke you finger into, maybe cheat days will work for you.

Now back to reality.

I am not a super ripped, super fit, 25 year old male. Or a female fitness model. In fact, I have never seen the bottom of my navel. Actually I am a middle aged, previously overweight, working on my health kind of lady. Should I be having cheat days?

This is me with my husband. I really don’t need a cheat day.

No,

no,

no.

Really.

No.

First, what is a cheat day?

Basically it’s a day off from your regularly scheduled diet plan. A day to eat whatever you want. Pancakes? Syrup? Cake? Pizza? More pizza! Sure! Anything goes on cheat days. In theory, a cheat day can revive a slowing metabolism and reset your leptin (feeling full) hormone levels. Body builders are into cheat days. And cheat days may be a good idea for them. But probably not for us ordinary folks.

Five things a cheat day really does to you:
Reminds you that you hate your diet.

Diets really do work. The real reason for the abysmal statistics on the failure of diets and prevalence of weight regain is that people don’t stick with their diets. Why don’t they stick with their diets? Because they hate them and feel deprived. The whole time they were losing weight they were dreaming of the day they could eat what they really wanted and get back to their real life.

Reality check here. For most “been heavy a while” people, the diet is going to have to be permanent. Like marriage. No point in flirting around with the guys you didn’t pick once you’re married. And no point in flirting around with the foods you aren’t eating once you have made a commitment to a better eating plan.

It’s worth it to find a diet plan you can really embrace for a lifetime. That doesn’t make you feel like “cheating.” That’s why I’m skeptical of any scheme involving special shakes or bars. Are you really going to eat/drink that nasty stuff long term?

For me, a whole foods, low carb plan works best. I still have to control what I’m eating, but all my food is delicious, filling, and made of real ingredients. For you, maybe a different plan matches your lifestyle and inclinations better. But whatever your plan is, it needs to be for a lifetime. Not a temporary, horrible deprivation that you dream about cheating on.

Reinforces using food as a reward.

Food is a crappy reward for a dieter. And an ironic one. Like if you finally got your garage all cleaned out (thank you magical Japanese tidy up lady!) and then invited the neighbors to store their junk in your space. Or if, as a former smoker, you celebrated your quit-day anniversary by lighting up.

Get better rewards. My favorite treat for sticking with my eating plan is buying new clothes. And trying on my cute, smaller clothes. And accessorizing my fun, fresh wardrobe. Clothes are a natural reward for working on your healthy shape. And unlike chocolate cake, which provides pleasure for about 5 minutes, those skinny jeans are fun all day long. Maybe you’re not into clothes (but you might be once you lose weight). Practice other kinds of rewards. Take time to read novels, or visit friends. Binge watch trashy medical dramas. Paint your nails. Do craft projects. Whatever you reward yourself with, make sure it isn’t food!

Destroys your will power for regular days.

A cheat day is one bad choice after another. A practice day for how to not recover from minor dieting deviations. In real life, slight dieting errors happen. A bite of cookie, a taste of ice cream (or maybe a whole cookie or a bowl of ice cream). Ok, no big deal. The calm, rational eater then says to themselves, “That was fine, now I’m back to my regular plan.” A cheat day is the opposite, a training ground for uncontrolled, irrational eating. The kind of eating that says, “Well I ate the nachos, so now that the day is ruined, I might as well gorge on lava cakes.” Will power is a limited resource to be guarded and encouraged. Your probably don’t have as much as you think. Don’t sabotage your will power by cheating.

Deranges your glucose metabolism

If you have been following a carb controlled eating plan, over time your body has adjusted to using protein and fat as its primary fuel. You have reaped the benefits of steady blood sugar and fewer food cravings. My clients have noticed that after just a day of high carb eating (like at holiday time), their hunger has increased. Not just for that day, but for many days afterward. That cheat day, full of empty carbs you are no longer accustomed to eating, might just set your “fat adapted” metabolism back a week.

Undoes your week’s worth of clean eating.

Here is a common pattern for hopeful dieters. Eat really carefully for five week days, even noticing a change in the scale. Yes! So exciting! Then relax and party over the weekend and gain back the weight you just barely lost. Freshly lost weight is a fragile, tentative thing. Like still damp butterfly wings. Or a giant soap bubble. You just can’t mess with new weight loss or it will be wrecked.

Next time, what I do instead of cheat days.

Wishing you great success as you gently improve your health.

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Winter Update-Some Thoughts on Healthy Changes

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in gentle change, health coaching, Uncategorized, weight loss

Welcome to winter! I’ve got plenty of wood in my shed and some cozy wool socks on my feet.

I thought it would be a good time to update you all on my coaching practice.

First, a big thank you to my coaching clients! You have provided me with great joy in assisting you. I am impressed by your honesty, strength, and courage. Positive change is hard and you are doing it!

Weight loss thoughts

I have been thinking a lot about weight loss, weight gain, and weight regain. Weight management is a major focus of my practice and close to my own heart, having worked hard to achieve normal weight myself.

Articles, books, and programs for weight loss make promises. If only you eat slowly, you will lose weight fast. Just drink this shake, take this pill, say these magic words.

Here’s some miscellaneous dieting advice:
  • Eat whole foods.
  • Eat raw foods.
  • Eat the foods on a special list.
  • Don’t eat food on the naughty list.
  • Using smaller plates.
  • Chew slowly.
  • Drink coffee.
  • Drink champagne.
  • Drink gallons of water.
  • Eat many small meals.
  • Eat a few big meals.
  • Don’t eat after dinner.
  • Don’t eat until lunch.

And each article, book, or special offer may have some truth in it. Even drinking champagne.

But following a single diet, using a particular supplement, mastering a single “trick,” is like having a single dumbbell to work out with–and then only using it for right sided bicep curls. (Yes, I’m thinking of the guy from Lady in the Water.)

Yes–you will gain muscle, but you will be unbalanced. And eventually the rest of your body will need attention too.

The same principle applies to easy weight loss plans. Most only address part of the complexity of permanent weight loss. Some focus on what to eat, while neglecting social factors and emotional issues. Others are merely a collection of behavior hacks, addressing neither food quality nor heart issues. And a third category work entirely on emotional issues and assume nutritional concerns will resolve on their own.

And this imbalance shows up eventually–perhaps when the diet stalls out, or the weight comes back, or life stresses you into a whole mess of comfort eating.

And no single plan (that I have found) addresses the reality that weight loss and longterm weight maintenance is a lifetime issue, requiring a major overhaul of nutritional, behavioral, and emotional patterns.

Successful weight loss is about nutrition, behavior, and emotion. All three. Keeping weight off is about nutrition, behavior, and emotion. All three.

This type of major life overhaul is where health coaching really shines.

Weight loss coaching (at least in my practice) is not a quick fix, bandaid approach. Sometimes I laugh at my “anti-marketing” approach.

“Come to me and lose weight slowly, hopefully forever.”

Not very flashy, but honest and realistic, and aimed at women who are really ready to do whatever it takes to get their weight under control.

What makes the coaching process different?

Three things really. Coaching is personal, action oriented, and holistic.

Personal

Because coaching is personal, you and I work through your life changes in a way custom tailored to your unique situation and challenges. No book or online program understands you as well as you do. With weight loss, this means starting where you are at and building new patterns and habits from there.

Action oriented

Because coaching is action oriented, we move forward together, working on your better, healthier future–not stuck dwelling on past behaviors. Each week of coaching involves specific action steps designed to propel you toward your goal.

Holistic

Because coaching is holistic, we explore all related life areas, noticing the interconnectedness. You are not a random assembly of body parts; and your weight issues are not separate from your life issues.  For example, how you handle stress at work may determine how well you can stick with your eating plan.

What’s weight loss coaching like?

A typical weight loss coaching session begins with a review of the previous week or two. How is life going? What challenges are you facing now? How did your plans and intentions work out? This analysis is critical. Diets, strategies, healthy eating hacks, and action steps are worthless if they don’t pan out in the context of your real life. For instance, if you are embarking on an extended road trip next month, you will need specific resources and plans for managing healthy eating away from home (a behavioral challenge).

After review, we are ready to proceed to a new area. This might be a topic that occurred to you while your were working on your previous action steps. Or I might suggest the next step based on your progress to date. For instance, as you were working to decrease your sugar intake (a nutritional goal), you noticed how often you turn to sweet snacks in times of stress (an emotional concern). Having new clarity about the connection between stress and emotional eating in your life, we might consider focusing on ways to handle stress.

Over time, better habits are established. And healthy ways of living, ways that once felt impossible, become reality.

Are you ready for a healthy change? I’m here to help you.

Wishing you great success as you gently improve your health.

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Saying No to Food

Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in foods, habits, weight loss

 

Kids know how to say “no” to food

One of the most important skills for anyone looking to achieve positive change in their eating habits is learning to say “no.” We would all much rather just say “yes.” Yes is so happy, sort of a smiling kind of word. “Yes, I want seconds; yes I want cookies; yes I need another basket of chips.”

No seems grim, frowny, mean. It sounds like sadness, deprivation. It’s hard to smile while you are saying “no.”(I tried it and felt a little psycho.)

No doesn’t sound like a positive word, but no is powerful. And may be the beginning of some very positive changes.

What “No” can do
  • Keep those extra carbs out of your mouth: “No thank you, I don’t want a pastry with that.”
  • Prevent binge eating by not getting started: “No, let’s not drive to Safeway for Chunky Monkey.”
  • Keep second helpings off your plate: “No, I’m full now.”
  • Remind yourself of what you think: “No, I don’t eat sugar.”
  • Change social dynamics: “No, I don’t want to come to your dessert party. Maybe we could go walking next week.”
How to say no to food
Get ready-Rehearse tempting situations ahead of time.

What’s on your docket for today? Will there be food temptations? (If you leave your house during the holiday season, there certainly will!) Imagine yourself in the tempting situation. What will you say? What will you do?

Practice your “lines” ahead. “I don’t eat …..” is a great line, so much better than “I can’t.”” I don’t” is controlled, dignified (like when Julia Andrews refuses to scoot over in the back of the car in Princess Diaries, saying, “I never slide.” “I don’t” invites acceptance. When someone tells you “I don’t drink alcohol,” you respect and accept their position. And unless you are a complete jerk, you don’t try to change their mind.

“I can’t” engenders the opposite response. You, and who ever you are with, start feeling sorry for you, and thinking of reasons why this particular circumstance is an exception to that horrible, heartless rule. Poor baby, you can’t eat this yummy Christmas cookie? Are you sure?

I have the smallest of moral quibbles about saying “I don’t.” Because sometimes I do. I don’t eat sugar, except on my birthday and certain holidays and sometimes in salad dressing. I don’t eat fried foods, except lumpia on Christmas Eve. When you announce “I don’t”, it sounds like an absolute, when really it’s more of a guideline (like The Code of Pirates). So now I have confessed, and you can call me on it if you want. But I figure most people don’t want that much information about my dietary minutiae anyway, so I will stick with “I don’t”.

Get some conviction.

It’s hard to say no when your heart isn’t convinced. So encourage your positive feelings about the changes you are making. Write your goals down. The journal I have been experimenting with has you write down your goals every day at the top of the planner. At first I thought this was overkill, but seeing my four big goals written out in my own hand every day has created strong reinforcement about what is important to me.

Get some information.

Know in your head why your food changes matter to your health. “It’s on the naughty list” probably won’t carry you far when faced with chocolate peppermint bark at the company Christmas party. In fact, knowing that a particular item is forbidden can bring out the rebellious child in you and lead to all kinds of overeating. So learn why you are changing; become an expert (or relative expert) on you healthy diet plan. Sugar really is bad for you. Learn why so you have some rationale reason to refuse cake.

Get food off of a pedestal.

How can you say “no” to the most important thing in your life? And if you are constantly obsessing about food, constantly seeking food, constantly thinking of food, constantly saying “yes” to foods you have just sworn off, maybe food holds a more important position in your life than it deserves. Just how important are those fish and chips? As important as Love? Beauty? Peace? Friendship? As important as living a long healthy life (Lord willing)?

Are there values and goals in your life that are more important than Crispy Cremes? Of course there are! Focus on those.

Get some perspective.

There is some survival value in prioritizing food, but if you are figuring out how to say “no” to food, you are likely not underfed. And most of us have ample opportunities to taste great food. Ask yourself, “ Is this the only time in my life I will get to eat pizza, or cookies, or ice cream?” A few years ago I traveled to New Orleans and walked to Café Du Monde. Did I have their specialty, a beignet (totally just a fried donut) and café au lait? I sure did, and that was fun (but not as good as I expected). I will probably never go back, so that was actually a “once in a lifetime” event. But Safeway donuts? I could always get one if I wanted, so I can say “no” to them today.

Get some strength.

Saying “no” takes energy and presence of mind. How will you say no to drive-through if you left the house without breakfast? You won’t. Your survival brain will scream “starving!!” at you until you say “yes, give me all the food.” So say “yes” to some nourishing, wholesome food (maybe some bacon and eggs) while you are still in your right mind so you can be strong enough to say “no” later to the foods you really don’t want to be eating anyway.

Wishing you great success as you gently improve your health.

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Easy Hollandaise–not from a green and yellow packet

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in foods, recipes
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Bacon and eggs with asparagus and hollandaise, so good

 

Hollandaise, along with bacon, might just be one of the finest perks of the low carb lifestyle. If you have only had the pasty kind prepped from a packet, you haven’t experienced the real glory of this ultimate butter sauce. Almost everything savory (and that’s pretty much all you eat now that you’re low carb, right?) tastes great with a bit of smooth, rich hollandaise. Eggs, fish, veggies–all quickly changed from meh to magnificent with a spoonful of this golden yumminess.
And it’s super simple to make. Really. Get out your blender and make some right now.
Put these in your blender and whirl a bit. 1 Tablespoon lemon juice, 2 egg yolks, 1 whole egg, and 1/4 teaspoon mustard.

 

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 Get out one cup of your best butter and melt it. I just use the microwave, but purists can heat gently in a small pan on the stove.
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Now this is the only part that can be screwed up. You are going to add the butter to the eggs in the blender very, very slowly while the magic of emulsion happens. If your blender has a tiny hole in the center of the lid insert, you’re golden. That hole is just for making emulsions like this and that is what you will pour the butter through. If not, just remove the insert and leave the rest of the lid on (and you thought that insert was just for measuring shots for daiquiris). Turn the blender on the lowest speed and add the butter in the slowest stream you can manage. Turn off the blender as soon as you have added all the butter.
That’s it. So, so good.
If you want this to be lactose free, use clarified butter. If you prefer to start with unsalted butter, add 1/4 teaspoon of salt with the eggs.
What are you waiting for? Go make some hollandaise!
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My breakfast most days. So satisfying.
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I’m Standing Here Beside Myself

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in habits, mindfulness, weight loss

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If you’re old enough, or into the 80’s enough, you might recognize that line from the movie Short Circuit, with  Ally Sheedy and Steve Guttenberg. A silly, forgetable film, but one particular part has stuck with me. In the movie, the sidekick character, Ben Jabituya, throws out endless, botched-English one-liners. I’ve never actually figured out what the comic- relief/pretend-Indian-national character meant to say by “I’m standing here beside myself”, but I liked the phrase. And I think it describes an important human phenomena.

How Humans Stand Beside Themselves

People can think about their thoughts and feelings. This “thinking about thinking” sounds simple, but “thinking about thinking” distinguishes higher consciousness creatures, like people, from other living things. You and your dog may both “like” red meat, but only you can ponder how much you like red meat. Or write a poem about red meat, or wonder if it’s wrong to like red meat so much. This difference creates the humor behind Far Side—when we see the cows standing upright, musing on the meaning of life, we laugh–as far as we can tell animals are not actually contemplative. They have feelings, but they don’t analyze those feelings.

In this way humans can “stand beside themselves”. We can give our thoughts another thought. We can review our feelings and behaviors and decide what we think of them.

This ability (which I believe is one way we express being made in the image of God) makes us capable of more: more intention, more love, more choices. We can plan and change on purpose.

I encourage my clients to stand beside themselves. To take a big breath and a small mental step backwards to a place of mild detachment from their own thoughts and feelings and behaviors. The first few times a person tries this may feel a bit surreal or even scary. It helps to remind yourself that “you,” the one God made and God loves, are not just your behaviors, or thoughts or feelings. You are valuable. You are beloved.

So take that step back. Then take a look at what you see. A kind, honest look at what is true, as though you were looking in on a friend’s life. And then consider what you want to change.

How I’m “Standing here beside myself” today

I am reviewing my Thanksgiving eating behaviors. I don’t feel guilty or ashamed or worried. But as I stand beside myself, I have noticed some interesting things from the recent holiday. Mostly about cookies.

Cookies used to be my go-to indulgence. As a kid, I was always allowed to make cookies, no matter how poor we were at the moment. I remember having cookies basically every day-in my lunch box, after school, before bed. Sometimes we made these weird, fun cookies in the waffle iron, chocolate waffle stompers, and covered them with chocolate frosting. As a young mommy, I made endless piles of chocolate chip cookies ‘for the kids.”  I loved the dough. I loved the baking. I loved the cookies with milk. No doubt cookies were part of my weight problem. (And cake, and bread, and everything baked.)

Cookies play no particular role in my whole food eating plan now. I don’t usually indulge in sugar or flour, or really many snacks at all.

But… my daughter made cookies for Thanksgiving. Lovely, chewy, gluten-free morsels with yummy little candies in them. They were on the counter. For days. I had one. And then I had more. More than I intended.

Why did that happen? And why didn’t I have a problem with the equally yummy pie?

As I stand here beside myself, I’m thinking about the cookie indulgence.

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Small children I shared cookies with
Here’s what I think

First—I don’t seem to have much self-control about cookies. This is not a new thought, but I am reminded that cookies are not to be trifled with. I haven’t turned into the person who eats one cookie and walks away. Really, sugar is basically my enemy. And a plate of cookies is like a landmine for my diet.

Second—I’m led astray by food portions that come in random little bits. The pie was okay because I served a small portion onto a plate, sat down, and was totally aware of it. The cookies were haphazard. Some I ate standing up-some I ate by breaking off half the cookie and then pretending I wasn’t going to eat the other half. Some I “shared” with small children. I’m not sure how many I actually ate.

Third—I do better when the food is put away, out of sight. These cookies were right there, practically talking to me. In my daily (healthy) life, I eat my meals at the table, mostly with my husband. When we are done, we clear and put away all the food. So nothing is out that will cue me to eat more.

These observations are not news to me. I know and advise others about these eating dynamics all the time. Here they are as logical, impersonal advice:

But knowing a thing ( in this case, some really great food behavior information) is not the same as living that thing. Here was a chance to see some healthy eating principles played out (or not played out) in my own life.

The Value of Standing Beside Yourself

There is value in standing beside yourself. Getting some distance from your feelings and cravings. Having a reality check.

This is not, not, not the same as reviewing everything you think you did or ate “wrong” and scolding yourself for it. Please don’t do that! It only leads to guilt and shame and more uncontrolled eating. Save your guilt for real sins (like gossiping about what other people are eating).

I don’t feel bad about those cookies. They were just cookies. I ate some. That’s over.

But as a stand here beside myself, I feel that I know myself a bit better. And can plan for the next cookie encounter with a bit more wisdom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Strategies for a Healthy, Happy Thanksgiving

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in foods, gentle change, habits

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Thanksgiving is coming right up! I love Thanksgiving. In our family, Thanksgiving is a big deal. Everyone comes home (to me!), and stays for days. We eat, we play, we give presents (to practice being thankful). I can’t wait.

But Thanksgiving also signals the beginning of the “holiday season,” otherwise known as the “eat everything, ditch all your healthy intentions, and gain-some-weight season.” Here’s some thoughts on having a healthy Thanksgiving.

Have a strategy

A strategy is a game plan, a purpose, an intention. A strategy is the thing that keeps your head clear and your body moving in a productive direction. You use strategies all the time. You have  particular ways of thinking and doing the routine parts of your life that keep you on course, and prevent you from having to invent everything in your life over and over.

For example, how do you buy stuff at Costco? Do you zigzag here and there, retracing your steps again and again. Probably not. I have a pattern for shopping at Costco, and Fred Meyer. At Fred Meyer I always start in produce, then wine, dairy, and organic. It’s only when I find myself on unfamiliar ground, like a new grocery store while traveling, that I feel frustrated or confused about routine shopping.

Holidays can upend your strategies. Maybe you have some great healthy routines established in your daily life. You know when to eat your meals, and what to eat. You’re exercising and managing your stress.

But everything feels different  during the holidays. Food is bigger, better, and ever-present. Exercise plans may go out the window. And you love your family, but they can really stress you out.

So you need a strategy, or two, or three.

Here are some Thanksgiving strategies:
Limit your stress

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Holidays take us out of our comfort zones and bring us into close proximity with sinners friends and family. This can be both exciting and stressful. Stress is unhealthy in itself, and also leads to dysfunctional eating and drinking. Consider ways to reduce your personal tension this Thanksgiving. Bring your own stress busters with you (music, fun movies, new novel, yoga mat, coloring book) if you’re traveling. Consider how to balance family time with alone time.

Don’t overshare

So you’re on a new diet, just started a strenuous workout regime at the gym, have plans to lose 50 pounds. Consider keeping that information to yourself. Really. Your diet is not fascinating to other people (except your health coach–I want to hear everything about your food). Be a secret agent for your healthy changes. Eventually, people will come to you asking how you got so fit and trim.

Your diet is not a source of unmitigated joy to your people. They may feel like you are: a pain in the butt, a show off, a source of guilt for them, and a kill joy. So play it cool like James Bond–no one needs an explanation of your calorie tracking app or why you don’t eat soy.

Don’t overreact

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This strategy is about reality. Here’s reality: it is not a disaster if you veer off your eating plan for one meal, or one day. Overeating is just overeating–not the end of the world as we know it or proof that you really are a failure at life. A piece of pie is not a catastrophe. This is how most of us have overreacted to our eating in the past: “Oh, I ate the pie–now I might as well scarf down all the Chex mix and have a third beer. I’ve shot all my good intentions–better just give up and eat EVERYTHING.”

This sounds silly written down, and it is silly. Pie is just pie; enjoy it and move on. The less guilty you feel about eating, the more you will be able to make rational choices.

Pick your pleasures

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Think ahead about your Thanksgiving meals. What are the very best parts? Is it the turkey? The stuffing? The homemade rolls?

Now which parts are just ok? Maybe you don’t love pumpkin pie, or you can live without candied yams.

Focus on the best parts. You don’t get a special sticker for eating everything. Just take what you really, really love–and savor the heck out of it.

If you take something and realize it’s not that good, just don’t eat it.

Provide healthy options

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Wether you are the host or a guest, you are responsible for making sure you have good food options. Not your mom or your auntie or anyone else. No one owes it to you to make special provision for your dietary preferences. You are the boss of you and you can plan your food, and your life, the way you want.

So bring or make something that you want to eat. Maybe a special salad, or a great fruit tray, or a clever antipasto plate with fancy olives and smoked salmon. Then, if all other food choices are marginal, at least you have the wonderful, healthy dish you brought to fall back on.

Here’s some healthy recipes if you need ideas: Paleo Thanksgiving

Practice your “No”

If you are not used to declining food offerings, now is the time to start. Remember the part about being the boss of you? That means you can say no. As in, “No thank you.” or “No thanks, I’m full.” or No, I want to save room for pie.” or just “No.” Imagine yourself smiling at your Uncle Frank and saying “No thanks” to seconds on the stuffing. No need for a righteous speech about how you don’t eat carbs or  the evils of gluten. Just “no.”

Practice nonjudgement

If you have been working on your health for a while, you probably have some opinions about what constitutes a healthy diet and what doesn’t. Just keep it to yourself. Your job on earth is not to manage the choices of other adults. So ignore, completely ignore, what other grownups are eating or not eating.

Try to not even think judgy thoughts. You really don’t know what’s going on for them. Maybe your sister uses the “cheat day” method and has saved up a month of “cheats” for this very day. Maybe your cousin is focusing on other aspects of her health right now and food is a secondary issue. Maybe your friend just wants to enjoy some comfort food and forget her troubles at home. It’s really not your business what other people have on their plates.

Here’s some thoughts on not judging yourself either: Gentle Change, Gentle Indulgence

Remember why you are here
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Yeah, my Thanksgiving table will not look like this! Super pretty though.

Love, family, thankfulness–none of these are about the food. Enjoy your people and the beautiful life you get to live here on this earth. Take some pictures, play a game, find out how Aunt Sally met her husband.

This is my favorite strategy, one that I  use for most challenging food situations.

 I repeat to myself,

“I’m not here to eat.”

This reminds me that my life is about love and service, not about food–even on Thanksgiving Day.

Wishing you great success as you gently improve your health.

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Simple Dinner–Thai Green Curry with Shrimp

Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in foods, recipes

Here’s my lunch from yesterday. I love starting with a premade seasoning mix, in this case Thai green curry paste. There are no Asian stores in my little town, so I ordered this on Amazon. Definitely measure when you are experimenting with this–it is spicy.

This made three generous servings. You could serve it over riced cauliflower if you are doing low carb or paleo–or you could add rice or potatoes if you need more starch. Or, you could get away from the idea of the main dish being served over something else, and just eat it plain. That’s what I did.

Wishing you great success as you gently improve your health.

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