Hunting and Gathering

 

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Cooking Dinner

When I have time, I’m not too tired and I have all the ingredients I need, cooking dinner for myself and my family is one of my very favorite things to do.

I don’t listen to any particular music or watch television while I’m preparing food. I like to listen to my family’s conversations as they sit nearby in the dining room, working on homework or other tasks.

Sometimes I get some help from one individual or another, but most of the time I don’t. I don’t get frustrated by that, personally. I know everyone is busy and I’m doing my share to keep our family on schedule and healthy with a great dinner. I’m not looking for assistance anyway. I’m looking for a chance to express my creativity.

For me, these dinner preparations are both time-consuming AND a lot of fun. I’ve been cooking ever since I was a little child, often helping my Dad in the kitchen.

But cooking also reminds me of being in the chemistry lab! I have always loved measuring, mixing, adding heat or another “catalyst” to create a color change or a different texture, and converting a solid into a liquid or vice versa. It’s wonderful that all that creativity results in an edible final product (at least most of the time). Better yet, I can enjoy the science of cooking with a glass of wine — the professor never let us drink in chemistry lab!

I especially love to express my creativity while cooking better, healthier alternatives to an old family recipe. For instance, I use lentils and brown rice in my cabbage rolls instead of hamburger and white rice. I season everything more than my parents did, with a wider variety of spices. Every single day, I integrate superfoods that studies from around the world show are linked to longevity, weight loss and blood sugar stabilization. I sleep better knowing I feed my family an alkalinizing dinner.

It’s very important to me the food I make is both delicious and low-inflammatory. I’m not here to simply fill an empty hole with whatever I can find in the freezer. Cooking is relaxing for me when I can view it as an opportunity to explore my creativity, while providing me, and those I love, with a better life, rooted in health.

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Getting Take-Out 

Sometimes, cooking a meal at the end of the day just adds to the stress.

When I’m working in the hospital, my hours are terribly long.  Even if everything is running perfectly smoothly and I’m feeling great, a string of 12 hour days is still tiring and leaves me with limited energy for cooking at the end of the day.  Moreover, cooking is primarily a creative outlet for me. When I’ve been thinking creatively all day on problems posed by my patients, I don’t have much additional creative energy for the cooking process.

If I’m too tired and hungry, I can make some terrible choices. That’s why I’m so thankful for the great restaurants in my community.  For example, right around the corner from our house is a little Thai takeout place.  I can phone an order in before I leave work, so I can swing by and pick it up. Also, we often order a few partially prepared dinners from a food service like Purple Carrot or Blue Apron on the low energy nights. It doesn’t take much effort to finish cooking them.

Burger King and Wendy’s have a veggie burger available that’s nutritious and inexpensive, and doesn’t leave me feeling bloated and exhausted after eating it. Ethnic food restaurants, such as Indian or Middle Eastern, have plant-based options more reliably than pizza places. Mexican restaurants are loaded with rice and bean dishes! So just by identifying a different place to drive through when you’ve gotten too tired and hungry to cook, you can come up with alternatives that will keep everyone happy, and also maintain the high health standards you’ve set for yourself and for everyone who relies on you.

Dinner accomplishes many important things. Everyone gets nourished: body, mind and soul.  I don’t have to make a home-cooked meal every single night of the week to satisfy these requirements. I can rely on other people around me to create great food so I can focus on spending time with the people I love after I’ve been apart from them at work all day.  I can always cook ahead on the weekend if I must, and pull out prepared grains and beans to start a quick meal at night, but I don’t need to bother. If I’m not able to cook ahead, there’s plenty of help for me right in my town.

Part of the reason I work is to provide myself some conveniences and experiences I otherwise wouldn’t be able to enjoy without my income. Splurging on a takeout meal or prepared meal from a delivery service is really a very small amount of extra money spent for a large amount of convenience. Once I’ve identified the purveyors that are meeting my needs and the goals I’ve set for my evening meals, I’m happy to work with them to reduce the craziness on some of my work nights. I can rely on these companies to create great food, so I can focus on my family relationships with the limited time and energy that my job sometimes leaves me. I hope you can find a few food partners in your community too, especially when you view your dinner choices as delicious opportunities to create vibrant energy and lasting wellness.

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Healthy Baking Hacks

Baking in the colder months is a pleasure. The kitchen is warm and cozy, and the aromas fill the house.  Baked goods are surprisingly unhealthy, however.  Often loaded with animal products like butter and eggs, baked goods have high amounts of unhealthy fats and cholesterol.  It’s easy to make bakery items much better for you with just a few simple changes anyone can do. Here’s how to get started:

  1. Substitute non-dairy milk with any plant milk. Keep the proportions the same. You can expect a fluffier product when you use soy milk. The cool infographic below will help you choose the best milk for the job.
  2. If you need to replace eggs while baking, flax or chia seeds and water mimics the texture perfectly.  Check out the infographic from No Meat Athlete below, which uses more commonplace ingredients.
  3. Switch milk chocolate chips with vegan dark chocolate chips. Many store brand chips are vegan; just check the ingredients. Remember, cocoa butter is not a dairy product.

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Saving Daylight in the Kitchen

Need some ways to save time in the kitchen, so you’ve got more time to snuggle on the couch or enjoy a long walk with your dog? Want to cook up a healthy lifestyle, but not sure how to fit it into your busy professional schedule? Here are some of my favorite tips!

Avoid plastic wrap disasters. Store the roll in the fridge to store leftovers with less of a hassle. Chilling the wrap makes it easier to transport it from the roll to your bowl.

Choose a new food covering. Shower caps are not limited to the bathroom. Cover leftovers with a fresh cap (right in their dishes) to keep bugs and unidentifiable particles from tainting food. They’re reusable and a lot easier than repeatedly removing and replacing plastic wrap or tin foil.

Easily scoop out seeds. Remove seeds from vegetables such as squash and pumpkin with an ice cream scoop. Because the edge of the scoop is sharp, it cuts through the fibrous, gooey stuff inside the squash easier than your hand or a regular spoon can.

Peel that papery skin from ginger. Ditch the peeler in favor of a spoon to peel ginger root.

Pit and peel an avocado with just a paring knife. Cut an avocado into quarters length-wise to break the fruit from the pit (once it’s down to the last section, you can just pop the pit right off). Run a knife under the tip of the skin on each section, then peel it off like a banana.

De-kernel a cob of corn without having to deep clean the kitchen. Use a bundt pan to slice corn kernels off the cob. Place the pointy end of the cob on the center hole of the pan (with the open part of the pan facing up) and gently slice downward. The pan acts double duty as both a stand and a kernel collector.

Deal with hard-to-open jars. To open a stuck jar lid, wrap the lid with a rubber band and give it another try. The band will provide extra traction. If that’s still not enough (or your hands hurt too much), cover the rubber band on the top with a dishtowel, and try again.

Cut cherry tomatoes in half all at once. Cut cherry or grape tomatoes in half with ease by placing them between two lids. Gently slice horizontally through the bunch of tomatoes while pressing down the top lid for perfectly halved tomatoes. What kind of lids? Anything works! Large yogurt container lids or Tupperware tops are two good options.

Don’t flip out. You don’t always have to flip. When roasting items such as French fries and veggies, pre-heat your cookie sheet. Then your goodies will immediately start cooking from both sides.

Reset Revolution Bonus: Remove garlic, onion or other food smells from your hands by rubbing them with lemon juice, baking soda, or my personal favorite, stainless steel. When you touch stainless steel, the molecules in the steel bind with the nasty-causing molecules. You know you’ve joined the Revolution when you run your fingertips over the inside of the sink after you’ve finished tidying up the kitchen!

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SALAD IN A JAR TUTORIAL AND TIPS
By Jen Fournelle, Get Waisted Richmond Coach
Salad in a jar is hands down my favorite thing to make for lunches! Not only does it look pretty, but mason jars are pretty indestructible, have a great seal, and pack a lot of food into one container. Have you ever brought a salad to work and then realized you forgot the little tiny dressing container? Or bought a bottle of dressing to leave in the fridge and everyone else used it? With a salad in a jar, you put the dressing right into the bottom of the jar! If you have time to make one of these, you have time to make 5–the extra time is negligible and if you get a friend, a spouse, or a kid to help, it can be super fun! They will stay nice and fresh until the end of the week. ​

Here’s what to do:
Get a large-mouth quart-size canning jar. Put in 2-4 Tbs dressing, depending on your preference. Then place a hearty vegetable in next that can sit in a dressing and not get soggy. Cabbage, carrots, beets, or even chickpeas are all good ones to put on the bottom. Then put in less hearty ingredients as you go up the jar, finishing off with lettuce or other greens. You can definitely add in a grain–like quinoa, soba noodles, orzo, or whatever you like–making sure it’s not on the bottom, otherwise the grain will soak up all your dressing. Put the top on and you are done! When you get to work, I recommend pouring into a bowl so the dressing coats your whole salad. Eating from the jar doesn’t really do it.

A few of my favorite combos (in the order of layering):
Asian Mason Jar Salad: Asian dressing, red cabbage, spiralized or chopped beets, edamame, shredded carrots, spiralized or chopped cucumbers, baby lettuce, handful of walnuts. (Soba noodles would be a great addition)

Slightly sweet balsamic salad: Balsamic Vinaigrette , red cabbage, spiralized or chopped beets, chickpeas, shredded carrots, spiralized or chopped cucumbers, spiralized or chopped apples (toss in a bit of lemon juice to keep from browning), baby lettuce, handful of dried cranberries, unsweetened coconut, and raw sunflower seeds. (Quinoa would be a great addition)

The variations are endless! 

To host a salad-making party, decide vaguely on the types of salads you want to make and tell everyone to bring 1-2 items. Having a vision for the salad will allow for a little guidance in bringing ingredients–but be open to different combos and ideas. I recommend assigning the items, otherwise you may end up with 6 bags of spinach and 1 tomato. Before everyone gets there cook your grain if using (to give it a bit of time to cool). Once everyone gets there, make 1 or 2 (or more!) dressings, chop or spiralize everything, and then have fun customizing your own jar. Everyone’s will look (and taste) slightly different. You’ll have a great time making them and just maybe will inspire your friends to make them weekly!

Photos by Kelly St. Claire 

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8 WAYS TO TOP YOUR VEGGIE BURGER

A veggie burger makes a quick and simple meal, especially since you can heat the burger and the bun at the same time in the toaster. They don’t have the same fat content as a meaty burger, so sometimes you can experience a dry sandwich. Not good. However, they also don’t splatter fat all over the stove while you’re cooking, so you are in and out of the kitchen quickly with time to spare to enjoy things you really love to do. A package of veggie burgers and some whole grain buns kept in the freezer make a low-inflammatory, high protein weeknight meal that keeps your Reset goals on track. Here are some ideas on how to transform your veggie burger from a mediocre meal to one that’s truly mouth-watering.

Revolution Tip: Trader Joe’s Vegetable Masala Burgers are wonderful topped with cranberry sauce and garam masala

Cheat the System: Skip the kitchen entirely and get your veggie burgers from Burger King, most burger joints, and even White Castle!

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3 Secrets to Making the Perfect Shake or Smoothie

Want to know a secret? Making perfect, creamy, delicious, yet healthy smoothies and shakes is ridiculously simple. Simple, delicious shakes that create an energetic, thinner you, are easy to prepare. These nutrition powerhouses don’t need to be limited to morning consumption, either.
So, what are these three secrets?

  1. You’re so sweet, you don’t need any sugar! That’s right, you’re already sweet enough. There is never any good reason to add sugar (or even natural sweeteners) to a shake or smoothie.  However, you do want your creamy drinks to be delicious and sweet, right? No problem. Here’s the secret – are you ready?? Perfect frozen bananas. When you have a ripe, frozen banana in your shake or smoothie, you’ll have creaminess and sweetness in the perfect amount – along with a hefty dose of fiber and potassium! How to create the perfect frozen banana? Simple. Just peel a very ripe banana (make sure there are lots of brown spots), then place in an airtight bag. Freeze overnight. Bam! Smoothie perfection awaits. I love when the grocery store puts “old” bananas on sale — they’re too ripe to enjoy as a snack, but peeled and cut in half, they make a perfect smoothie base. If you have a powerful sweet tooth, you can also keep some pitted dates on hand to add. Dates are super sweet and yet protect you and your family from serious diseases like diabetes.
  2. Add just enough liquid. Every blender is different, so there is no standard amount of liquid to use in smoothies or shakes. For smoothies, you’ll be adding juices, water, and/or coconut water. For creamy shakes, you’ll be using nondairy milks (or just whole nuts with water) for a thick milkshake effect. Be sure to add the liquids slowly, after all else is in the blender, to ensure you have the perfect consistency. Add just enough to blend.
  3. Simple can be delicious. One of our favorite shakes has just two ingredients. TWO. And you know what’s even more mind-blowing? It’s absolutely delectable! Every single person I’ve ever served it to has raved about how creamy and delicious it is – and can’t believe it contains zero sweeteners. What’s in it, you want to know? Well, you probably guessed the first ingredient – ripe, frozen bananas. The second ingredient is unsweetened vanilla almond milk – which you’ll want to add to the blender until (you guessed it) it’s just enough liquid to blend. Keep it thick and creamy. And there you’ll have it – the perfect healthy vanilla milkshake!

Revolution Tip: You can eat a few nuts each day to protect yourself from heart disease and breast cancer. Make this shake even more delicious, and suitable as a dinner replacement, by adding a rounded teaspoonful of peanut butter.

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Less Salt for a Healthy Heart

By Dr. Mary

Decreasing the salt in your diet:

I heard last week that there are 400 different kinds of salt on the market. I wish there were 800! I love salt on everything. Controlling salt intake is an important part of the work I do on my personal diet. Instead of cooking with salt, consider using it as a finishing sprinkle. The flavor is more intense that way.

How can you decrease salt without sacrificing flavor?

Add hot sauces and salsa. Peppers and salsa are loaded with antioxidants and impart great flavors to your foods. They have some salt and vinegar, so they have a similar flavor as salt but are better for you.

Rely on fresh and dried herbs and spices. I know this sounds completely ridiculous – how can any herb be as delicious as salt??? However, the flavors they impart are so gourmet, as well as delicious, you’ll be really happy with the conversion. Find salt blends that already mix other spices into the salt. They come with recipe recommendations that make it easy to use them.

Here’s a great chart to help you add the right herbs to the right foods. GetWaisted.com has antioxidant levels for herbs and spices and you guessed it — they are off the charts. Cilantro, chili powder, pepper and parsley are my secret weapons. What are yours?

TO SEASON:      USE:

Beets –                  caraway, cinnamon, or dill

Broccoli –             marjoram or oregano

Cabbage –            basil, celery seed, curry, dill or mustard seed

Carrots –              basil, thyme

Cauliflower –      caraway, celery seed, curry, rosemary or tarragon

Celery –                celery seed, nutmeg, red pepper or thyme

Corn –                   chili powder

Green Beans –     sage

Onions –               sage

Peas –                    dill, marjoram, oregano, basil

Spinach –             basil, rosemary or vinegar

Sweet potatoes – allspice cardamom or cinnamon

Tomatoes –          garlic powder, parsley, sage, chili powder

Turnips –             rosemary

Squash –              allspice, cardamom or nutmeg

Zucchini –           caraway, marjoram or oregano

Secrets and Tips:

Chipotle is thinking of not serving guacamole anymore at their restaurants. They argue that the production of avocados contributes to global warming, but they also mention the effect on their pocketbook. Well, I’ve been working on a collection of yummy dips that decrease the serving of avocado, for the sake of my health, the planet, and my wallet. I love an avocado, but there is a lot of (healthy) fat and calories in each bite. One cup contains 240 calories and 22 grams of fat, which is 34% of your daily recommended fat intake. However, it also contains 10 grams of dietary fiber and 25% of your required Vitamin C. Only 165 mg of the fat is the healthy omega-3 kind; the other 2534 mg is all the inflexible, inflammatory omega-6 fat. A cup of guacamole, all dolled up with the added oil, contains 344 calories.

So, although I still eat avocados in moderation, I’m definitely limiting my avocado intake these days. However, I love to dip assorted raw veggies—especially the purple carrots I find at the farmer’s market (they’re beautiful!)—in yummy dips! Here are some inexpensive and lighter alternatives to guacamole to Reset you and the ones you love:

Green Sunshine Dip
4 generous servings

2 cups fresh asparagus, halved and woody stems sliced off
1 1/2 cups cooked or canned chickpeas (drained and rinsed if using cans)
1 clove garlic
1-2 lemons, squeezed (about 1/4 cup fresh juice)
1/2 large avocado
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, raw (salted and sprouted used)
salt and pepper to taste
Additional spices to try: nutritional yeast, cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder, smoky paprika, fresh herbs and more!

Directions:

1. Halve your asparagus and slice off any woody stems. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add asparagus. Boil for 3-5 minutes, until moderately tender, but not mushy. Drain water and add asparagus to high speed blender.
2. Also add in the avocado, chickpeas, lemon juice, pumpkin seeds and a pinch of salt and pepper.
3. Blend from low to high until smooth, about 1-3 minutes of blending depending on your blender power.
4. Taste test and add additional salt and pepper and spices to taste.

Serve warm, freshly blended or chill in the fridge for a firmer texture.
Serve as a dip or a spread for sandwiches and wraps.

Or how about this deliciousness, made cheaper and healthier with edamame, little gorgeous green fresh soybeans. Make it even easier by using cooked, frozen edamame available anywhere and skipping the first step. It tastes just as delicious without a second boil of the beans.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Bring two cups of water to a boil. Plop in the beans. Bring the pot back up to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 3 minutes. Turn off heat and cover the pot. Let it sit until the beans are soft, 7-9 minutes. Drain the beans.
  2. Put all of the remaining ingredients except for the vegetable oil into a blender. Add ¼ cup of water. Blend until very smooth. Add the vegetable oil and blend until it is well-combined.

Now you’re thinking about all the other inexpensive green goodies at the grocery store, right? Me too. Why not make some broccomole? It’s just 200 calories for a whole cup of dipping goodness.

 

Broccomole

Ingredients:

 

Instructions:

  1. Cook the broccoli in lightly salted water until very soft. Overcook the broccoli in comparison to the al dente cooking that most recipes recommend.
  2. Drain broccoli very well.
  3. Transfer to a food processor. Add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth.
  4. Serve warm.

Stretch your guacamole with added white beans, for increased protein and healthy fats:

White Bean and Avocado Guacamole

Instructions

  1. Drain beans well and place in food processoralong with garlic and seasonings. Process until smooth.
  2. Peel avocado and remove pit. Add avocado and lime or lemon juice to beans. Process until smooth.
  3. Stir in diced onion. Add salt to taste.
  4. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with cilantro or parsley. Serve with tortillas or baked tortilla chips.

Choosing baked tortilla chips is better than oily fried tortilla chips, but choosing raw vegetables for dipping is the best choice.

 

 

Posted on by Mary Clifton, MD

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