Category Archives: Nutrition

Summertime and the Living is Easy – Sometimes

Orchids in bloomIf someone asked me what my favorite thing about summertime is, I would have a hard time narrowing my answer down to just ONE thing.  I absolutely love to swim, so swimming ranks high on the list.  I truly enjoy eating fresh vegetables from the garden and farmer’s markets, and summertime food prep on the grill is pretty sweet too.  And then there are the vacations:  my own annual scalloping vacation is in the heat of the summer, lots of friends and family come to visit to take advantage of the outdoor fun times in the Appalachian Mountains, and I get to hear excitement and joy from clients as they look forward to their own breaks from the day-to-day. Summer also just feels like it’s teeming with life and energy runs high and the long days yield a lot of productivity, but still leave time for some rest and a nap in a hammock. The only thing about summertime, especially in the American southland, that gets a thumbs down from me is the bugs that are just incessant. (But that’s what lemon, rosemary, and eucalyptus essential oils are for!)

Summertime is so sweet that it’s got its own anthem sung by the one and only Nina Simone, who reminds us in the soulfulness of her voice that life is long and complicated and filled with a full spectrum of emotions all the time, even in the summertime when the grass is high and the living is easy. And it is emotion, really, that’s on my mind this morning as I’m enjoying mist on the mountain over a rich cup of coffee.  I’ve been doing a lot of self-inquiry into my own emotional world while doing a lot of reading and listening to lectures and podcasts on the latest developments in the neuroscientific world around emotions, the brain, and the nervous system. There are a multitude of things I’d like to write about over the next few months, but today I am simply thinking about just how IMPORTANT emotions are and therefore how even more important it is that we all learn to discern what emotions we are feeling, especially when we dislike or disapprove of our own behavior or reaction to another person.

I went to bed far later than I meant to last night, as I got distracted with screens.  (Shocking, I know.  Who does that?) I was tired long before I stopped doing “just one more thing,” and turned everything off and got in bed, and by the time I did actually stop and get in bed, I was totally exhausted.  How many of you do this on the regular and find yourself feeling totally drained?  And how do you feel when you wake up after a too late night of distractions?

I realized last night that my emotions had gone flat because my “executive functions,” i.e., all that decision-making and task tracking and over-riding biological urges that tell you to go to sleep were zapped out entirely and my actions were absolutely on auto-pilot. This also meant that when I got in bed and my two sweet cats came into my bedroom to do their nightly power struggle ritual as to which one sleeps at my feet and which one sleeps near my head, I was at first mildly irritated.  After about 2 minutes, I was annoyed and my heart rate was increasing. After about 3 more minutes, I was angry and exhausted and weepy and I made both cats leave the room and sort themselves out somewhere else.  I had to just be still in savasana (yoga corpse pose) and do some calming meditation to ratchet my EMOTIONS back down to just tired and ready for bed.

So, it’s not that my emotions were flat beforehand, it’s that my brain and nervous system were both over-tired and over-stimulated, and my emotions were on a hair-trigger just waiting for some stimulus.  My response to that stimulus, which was from fuzzy creatures that I love dearly, was NOT loving.  Because when our nervous system is over-tired and over-stimulated, the emotions that tend to be triggered are not the sweet ones.

I had the luxury this morning of sleeping in without worries of an alarm clock disrupting the perfect sleep cycle, and was able to sleep soundly, for the most part.  When I woke up today, I immediately felt refreshed, happy to greet a Friday morning before a holiday, grateful for the rain that made sleep so blissful, and then super guilty for being so mean to my kitty cats. Thankfully, cats are more forgiving than people thanks to their smooth brains and infinite superiority complex.  But how often do our hair-trigger emotions lash out in ways that are way more destructive than my mild example above?  And just how much control do we have over such outbursts?

The answer is that most of us have precious little control over our emotions and lightning fast behavioral responses by the time we reach the end of a full day.

Earlier in the day, we have a lot more control, as long as we’ve had enough sleep and fuel for the most expensive part of our nervous system:  the big fancy brain and its prefrontal cortex. When we are feeling well rested, well fed, and in relatively low stress and positive mood, everything about our emotional world and the behavior it triggers is way more conducive to positive outcomes in our relationships and interactions with other people (and cats).

None of this is a revelation, nor is it revolutionary.  However, what I propose we all make time to do during the course of our overflowing days might be.  The world would be a much calmer, safer, happier place if we all took time outs for some restoration DURING our busy days instead of always running ourselves down to the cell phone battery equivalent of that 2% red line and then it just dies and the screen goes dark.

How do you do that?  Here’s a few things that I use, when I’m not trying to be super-overachiever-do-all-the-things-at-once woman and forget to take good care of my brain during busy days:

  1. Schedule a short nap or at least a “resting your eyes” time during your day (21 minutes is perfect and can leave you feeling refreshed without feeling “groggy” and this method works best on a day when you really did get enough sleep the night before.)
  2. Take short walks (inside or outside, though outside is best when possible) about every 2-3 hours throughout your day.  Just getting up and moving briskly for 5-10 minutes can really help re-set your brain.
  3. Do “cross crawls” for 30-60 seconds 5-6 times a day to clear out stress or frustration and give your brain a little break.
  4. Stretch and release your eye muscles by doing what I call the “clock” exercise.  You close your eyes for 10-15 seconds, and then open them and stretch them up (without moving your head up) to the 12 o’clock position and take a full, deep breath in and then out.  Move your eyes to 3 o’clock and repeat the full, deep breath.  Then to 6, 9, and back to 12.  And then reverse the cycle and repeat it moving your eyes counter-clockwise.  It takes about 2 minutes and is helpful to physically let go of eye strain, helps reduce headaches, and reduces stress in the nervous system because the eye circuits are really key circuitry in the brain.
  5. Listen to music, especially while doing tasks that require concentration and focus. Instrumental music is the most effective.
  6. Occasionally, when you are so overwhelmed and pressured that it seems totally impossible to do so, just don’t do all the things.  Or even better, don’t do any of the things.  Just don’t DO for a day on occasion.  Your body, mind, spirit – and relationships – will thank you.

To summarize, how you FEEL is what matters.  If you FEEL flat, watch out!  The trigger is hair sensitive.  But if you’re feelin’ good, then by all means, keep doing what you’re doing!

And if you’re struggling in creating the life you REALLY want, please reach out for help.  We are here to assist.  864-918-2914

Paleo Lifestyle, Whole30, and You

Fresh veggies

Eat Your Veggies!

My friend Sandi completed her first Whole30 in January 2013.  It took me a year to get my mind ready to take on the challenge myself in January 2014.  Today, I am two Whole30’s and one Whole60 into converting my SAD (Standard American Diet) into a much more plant-based, nutritionally dense, locally sourced diet and it’s awesome. It’s amazing how dietary changes, whether you take them on all at once or incrementally over time, can change not only your waistline, but how you look, feel, think, and behave every single day.  Following is an interview I did with Sandi about her transition into a Paleo lifestyle, and how it’s helped her.  Both of us highly recommend you take stock of your diet, and see if some of these principles could help YOU feel better and be your best self!

Vicy:  I’m excited to introduce Sandi Smith, founder of the local food blog “Paleo Greenville.”  She has a Facebook community page by the same name, and she’s also a very good friend of mine who I originally met through rowing.  (We both LOVE rowing!)  So today, Sandi, I thought we could just talk a little bit about what “paleo” is (and is NOT) and what your interests are and how you got started.

Sandi of Paleo Greenville:  OK!  Well I got started kind of on a dare…  It was a good thing that I didn’t know as much about it as I know now probably when I was first beginning because honestly all the information out there is overwhelming!  (laughs)  So I was talking to some rowing friends that are in a different city and they were all going to do this “Whole 30” thing – that was in January 2013.  And so I said I could do a Whole 30, if I knew what that was!  So they sent me the website and I kind of read it and I thought, “oh well, you know, it’s only thirty days… like, I could do anything for thirty days.”  And the key to me, and I know that we have talked about this before, was that I didn’t feel bad [at the time I took the dare]. At that point, I had already lost probably thirty pounds [by] calorie counting, being really rigorous with my exercise, really incorporating rowing into my life… I was feeling good at the time and did not know how much better that I could feel when I started cutting out some of these inflammatory foods and being really intentional about my eating.  So I did [this Whole30 thing] for thirty days and about halfway through it with absolutely amazed at the results that I was getting.  Things like I could really breathe in a way that I had never really noticed breathing before.  It was like the air was cooling my brain!  [laughs from Sandi and Vicy]

I was also sleeping so much better.  And it’s not that I felt like I had a problem sleeping, but just soundly like a rock from the minute my head hit the pillow and then waking up five minutes before the alarm every day. So those were some of the changes of my first 15 days.  Then acne cleared up tremendously, which was really incredible because that was something I had struggled with for a long time.  So I was kind of noticing some of these changes.  You’re not supposed to weigh yourself or measure yourself AT ALL during the program. But when it was over, I did see that I had lost thirteen pounds, which was, you know, pretty incredible in thirty days without starving myself or counting calories at all and eating to satiety every single meal. So that was really impressive to me!  So that’s how my “paleo” lifestyle started.

Delicious Paleo treats

Special Paleo treats – YUM!

Vicy:  Awesome!  Okay, so can we back up a little bit and you – because I could do this but I would rather have you do it – Can you kind of explain what paleo is (and isn’t)?  And since you mentioned this whole30, which I did as well this year as you know and our listeners have heard a little bit about that, but can you just tell people what the Paleo diet is and what that means and then maybe go over the rules of Whole30?

Sandi:   Absolutely!  So, the term Paleo diet or just Paleo comes from the term Paleolithic. And the idea would be that we would eat a more traditional diet similar to what our ancestors ate and what humans had evolved to eat over the course of us being people.  You know it’s only really in the past hundred years that we’ve introduced packaged foods and processed foods.  And really since the advent of agriculture, you know, not more than a couple thousand years ago – max – that we started eating crops like grains and growing corn and things like that so this is taking us back to a pre-agricultural human diet is the gist of it. And there’s you know a lot of opportunity to make fun of that!  Did a caveman eat a cookie?  No.  Because, you know, they don’t grow on a tree.  Did a caveman have an oven to bake these paleo brownies in?  Clearly, the answer is No and I think we’re all aware of that and I would never call it the case. And for those types of reasons, it’s a weird name.  But I do think that thinking about what the Paleolithic people ate is useful because the concept is really about seeking a varied diet based on local food that was close to them that was easily obtainable in their environment. [So these are] the types of foundational things that we’re looking for [in the context of “paleo lifestyle” in our modern times.]

As to the Whole30, I’ll kind of go over the rules then quickly and you can take a deeper dive on each of these topics…  Some of them are a little bit debatable but the first one would be to remove all grains.  We’ve heard a lot about gluten but that really is just part of the reason to let go all grains – even like grains of corn rights etc. Reason being, grains contain elements that are inherently designed to do things like protect their seeds from predators like birds, but they can also wreak havoc on our digestive systems. So rule 1:  remove grains from your diet.

Next is to remove dairy.  Some people take that to be all dairy or that’s what it takes for them, and some people can tolerate a little bit of cultured dairy like yogurt and cheese and stuff. That’s one of the key distinctions between Paleo and primal which are sometimes lumped together in discussions.

But dairy also has highly inflammatory properties and it’s really for baby cows… You know it’s not something that humans are supposed to eat.  You know milk:  [it’s supposed to be] human milk for human babies and cow milk for cow babies.  Milk is highly charged with all sorts of you know messages from the mother to the baby about how they are developing, what is supposed to form, and what type of antibodies there are…  So when you’re drinking cow antibodies, for example, this is very foreign to our system and many people have an inflammatory reaction.  Therefore, we would recommend that you take out dairy.

Similarly with grains, there’s also removing legumes [for Whole30], so you know that would be beans.

Vicy:  So even soybeans [tofu and what not included], peanuts, which of course include peanut butter?

Sandi: Yes, that includes peanut butter but almond butter…

Vicy:  There was a time I really didn’t think I could live without peanut butter!  [laughs]

Sandi:  I know!  It’s funny, but almond butter becomes a perfect substitute.

Vicy:  And it’s really reasonably priced, particularly when you make it at home.

Sandi:  That is true.  And remember that peanuts also develop a mold, which has more to do with processing and stuff, and they’re one of the most highly pesticide laden plants because they have a very thin shell that doesn’t protect them from pesticides in the peanut itself.  It’s not something you can wash off.  So there are there are lots of reasons that peanuts in particular are not a great food choice.  And then other legumes like soy and grain like corn are the number one and number two G.M.O. crops! So you want to stay away from soy primarily because the G.M.O. And when you start looking at private labels it’s just absolutely insidious [pesticides and GMO’s].

Vicy:  So, avoid soy in all forms.

Sandi: Yes.  And there’s a LOT of it in processed foods.  Soy oils, soy powders, and soy proteins are really mixed into most processed foods now. So it’s something to be aware of and pay attention to.

Vicy:  The rules so far are no grains, no dairy, no legumes… and only good fats!

Healthy food prep

Easy food prep – Make Your Own Ghee

Sandi:  Yes!  Only good fats. So you want to be focused on fats that are easily digestible to your body. Some of the seed oils – like canola oil, vegetable oil, what is marketed as vegetable oil – is just soy oil anymore so there are lots of hydrogenated fats. Obviously then we need to consider replacing those oils with things like pure olive oil (if you know and have a good source for it), certified organic or grass fed butter (that’s been clarified so you can remove the dairy particles and make a product called Ghee, which is the Indian name for clarified butter.)

Vicy:  I love ghee!  And it’s very easy to make it very easy to make at home inexpensively.

Sandi: Yes and you should opt for grass fed starter, if that’s an option.  Kerry Gold is a brand that’s grass fed, and there are some other brands out there too. [Another component of Whole30] is opting for animals and protein sources that are as close to their natural diet so that they fit into your natural diet… Those are sort of the major tenets of the Whole 30….

Vicy:  And then that really big next rule becomes the really painful one for most people.  Sugar.

Sandi: Yeah, sugar.  NO sugar for a Whole30.  Sugar has been shown to be more addictive than cocaine. It acts on your brain in ways that you [Vicy] probably know much more about than I do, but it will keep you coming back for more. And part of the processed food industry knows that and they create what, in the book called It Starts With Food, is called food with no brakes.  [Great book by Melissa and Dallas Hartwick, which is what the Whole 30 program is kind of based on, but they take a much deeper dive in the book & they tell us all about food with no brakes.]  For example, you can start eating a bag of chips and just keep eating until it’s gone and they’re designed to be that way. They talk about crunch-ability, for example, and there’s all these scientists in white lab coats trying to come up with the next you know hot food item that people won’t be able to put down and so when you get into these food with no brakes and you end up eating a bag of Oreos you know you might even feel bad about yourself. But they [processed foods] were designed to make you have that trigger response!

So those foods work really well!  Just the way there were designed in a lab to work!  Therefore, the Whole 30 does require you to cut out ALL added sugars and sugar substitutes, if you will. But you’re welcome to eat fruit, even if it’s a date or a high sugar fruit.  You know we don’t mince words there.  Nobody ever killed themselves by eating two apples a day. That kind of REAL sugar is not what we’re talking about but anything with any sweetener – and I’ve got a list that’s got seventy different names for hidden sugar like maltose and dextrose and you know there’s cane sugar beet sugar and even artificial sweeteners can still have some of the brain effects.  That includes stevia, which I know is a popular right now. Agave syrup, even though it’s quote “low glycemic index.”  Any of those sugars need to be removed from your diet and what that does is not only reset your brain connections, but it helps reset your palate!

And so I can remember being about fifteen days into the Whole 30 and eating a strawberry. This was in January.  I was eating a strawberry and I told my husband, “this is the most succulent and delicious strawberry I’ve ever had,” and he looked at me as like this [funny face] and said, “those strawberries really aren’t even very good.  It’s January!”

So I think when you do you dial your sugar receptors back and you take your palate back to a much less hyper stimulated state, you pick up the nuances of food. I mean food really does become a whole different experience!

Easy snacks

Easy fruit snacks kids love!

Vicy:  It really, really does! I can definitely vouch for that. OK So the basic rules are to spend thirty days with NO sugar or sugar substitutes, removing all the possibly inflammatory foods we’ve already talked about, and the purpose of this is to give you an opportunity to ultimately reset everything:  reset your metabolism and reset your palate.  And as Sandi said, it kind of resets your whole relationship with food.

And then after that 30 days, then you can kind of play with adding things back one category at a time.  You can look back and begin to see how your body responds and have a better sense as to how food is actually making you feel, which has been really eye opening for both Sandi and myself and really everybody that either of us have talked to that have actually done this 30-day process.  It does take a certain level of commitment to do it.

So at this point you are pretty strictly paleo and your husband has in turn become paleo as well and you have three children who are off to a good paleo start, too, yes?

Sandi:  Yeah! There seems to be two kinds of ways to start “being Paleo.”  It’s funny because my husband does say, and it’s true, I’m a Band-Aid ripper… I just want to get things over with!  So the thirty day very strict program was perfect for me. It helped me wrap my head around this thing. It gave me insights that I probably wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. The second way is, you know, in a slow progression type of way. But since we’ve been on this paleo journey and started PaleoGreenville.com and really started talking to more paleo people, I think there are kind of two camps. You know there’s a Band-Aid rippers that do it all in one and then there are the people that slowly phase things out over time.  Like, you know, all the crackers in the house are gone, so I’m not going to buy any more crackers, etc.  And so we really did kind of a combo approach in my household even though I went very fast and strict.  When there had been some great results I was having and he [my husband] so those, he was on board within a couple months and then and I just feed him what I eat, so he has less choice in the matter!  He’s pretty strict too in that regard.  And then the kids: we have kind of transitioned a little bit more slowly, and so on some levels and I’m ashamed to say that I let them eat up all the crackers, and then all the chips you know whatever was left in the house and then I just haven’t been replacing them.  And so I’ve kind of gotten to a point, as the primary food shopper,  that I’ve decided, “if I’m not eating it I’m not buying it,” and they’re young enough – eight, seven, and four – that that they don’t have a lot of consumer power. [Laughs from Sandi and Vicy]

So it might seem wacky at first, but they eat pretty much you know eat what we eat. They still eat some dairy and you know it’s debatable there are certainly other great sources, primarily vegetable sources, of calcium in things but you know they’re still growing so they eat the whole milk yogurt and cheese and some cultured dairy I should say.  A couple of them were almost vegetarians, so they eat beans.

The beans and black beans have persisted in their diet but they seem to be tolerating them very well.  So that’s something that we’re looking for in terms of you know just stomach upset or indigestion or problems that they don’t seem to be having problems with it… They’ve been eating certain things since they were babies and it’s something that their bodies are used to eating.

Vicy:  Yeah so maybe can you tell about what you CAN eat on Paleo and maybe, on an average day for you, what’s on your plate?

Paleo plate

Paleo plate – veggies first!

Sandi:  Well that’s a really good question because I get a lot of responses when I talk to people like, “I could never do a Whole 30 because I couldn’t give up X, Y, or Z.”  You know, for example, say, “I can’t give up my morning oatmeal,” or “you know I do yogurt every day at work at lunch,” and so it is always kind of funny to me now because I think “that’s so silly,” but you know people are very set in their ways and then you know there’s the other response which is like, “oh my God!  What do you eat or what can I eat?  You’ve taken everything away from me!”  And I would argue, and many paleo cookbook authors and all the paleo blogs in the entire Internet would say, that that is simply not true.  There’s still a lot to eat!  So I have not been hungry at all.

So I started eating that way and I think you can focus on the things that you can eat and we even encourage the kids by saying you can have all fruit and any vegetable and all protein sources lean or fatty we don’t care. You’re going to have good fats and that really opens a world of possibilities. You know sometimes you end up with a whole lot of ingredients and not, you know, maybe, what used to be considered food at your house. So there is some prep and some cooking involved.  You can look at Michael Pollan and some of the other pundits out there.  I think you know cooking at home and cooking for yourself is part of the next revolution.

So for my typical day:  I would start with breakfast and we do eat a ton of eggs so you know I definitely have eggs and I need more vegetables.  So at every meal if I can get those veggies, and practice cramming more vegetables in my day, so I would add spinach or mushrooms and whatever vegetables were left over from last night – cook up kind of like an egg scramble.  Sometimes I’ll have like a bacon and sausage with it and then I always try to have some fruit with breakfast, too, because I enjoy that.  And then for lunch, you know I’m on the go a lot and so I pack my lunch and I either make like a whole roast and have some throughout the week from there, or I like to make homemade mayonnaise so I know what all the ingredients are and even if you’re out and about you know you can always do a chicken with you know salad or something equally easy. And then dinners:  we grill a lot and do maybe a sweet potato, a meat, and a vegetable.

I try to make vegetables kind of the main course so I might do three veggies, and apportion it to me and my husband, and the kids.  So that’s really, I think, the key is filling your plate with fibrous vegetables. They give you all the good fiber and vitamins and minerals that you need and then you just kind of fill in with protein.

Vicy:  I know you and I’ve talked about the fact that some people need more protein than other people.  For example, I suspect that I eat a good bit more protein than you do, but I tend to have longer workouts.

Sandi: Sure.  Everyone needs to think about their own needs.

Vicy:  One thing is that, though you can’t see us, I’m 5’ 8” tall with broad shoulders, athletic build, and Sandi is only 5’ 1” and a very petite build, so we don’t have the same needs.

Local fresh foods

Local food means local farms!

Sandi: Exactly.  You have to think about these things!  For example, with my petite build and so that was something even with my husband and me at first.  When we first started this, I’d kind of split the food up evenly between two plates until I realized that he’s, you know, a lot bigger than me!  So now I’m trying to do the two thirds one third because I don’t need to be eating as much food as he does and he needs to be eating a little more!  So that that’s kind of how we do our portions. Over time, you just kind of learn what you need.

Vicy:  YES!  You know, one of the fascinating things to me just in general was learning better what my body’s actual hunger signals are and how I had responded to that versus how I’m responding now:  it’s drastically different.  So this is a topic that I’m very passionate about and as you can hear in her voice so is Sandi, so we will be revisiting this. But I just wanted to give everyone sort of an introduction to Paleo and the Whole30 program, and if you’re interested, you can learn a lot about this topic via Sandi’s blog http://www.paleogreenville.com/ You can also find her on Facebook and she has lots of beautiful pictures of the food that she makes and having gotten to try a lot of it, I can tell you it is delicious and she does a lot of linking to other people that have recipes and what not and then if you’re interested in any more than that you can contact her or you can contact me!

We appreciate your being here so much!  Thank you for joining us Sandi.

Sandi:  Thank you!

Note:  All photos are from Sandi’s lovely Paleo Greenville Facebook page!  Thank you Sandi! 🙂

Curry Spiced Cauliflower “Rice”


Vegan Cauliflower RiceCurry Spiced “Rice”
(grain-free, gluten-free, #whole30 compliant, vegan, made with cauliflower power!)
original recipe by Vicy Wilkinson, MA, BCC

I’m so lucky that part of my job as a transformational life coach involves helping people (myself included) continuously improve their nutrition and ability to take good care of themselves at the most basic levels.  Food is the tastiest of those basic levels of THRIVING!  And I LOVE FOOD SO MUCH!  I’m grateful that many of friends enjoy my becoming-more-and-more-frequent #whole30 resets.  I’ve found that following the guidelines of this program as outlined in the book It Starts With Food every 4-6 months really helps me stay better on track over all, with both health and fitness goals and all the rest of my goals, too.  {As within, so without.  As above, so below.}

At some point during the last year, I cooked dinner for a friend, and ended up serving her a “rice” dish I made with cauliflower that she has asked me about ever since!  “How did you make that?  It was delicious!” she says to me every time I cook for her.  During my weekly food prep for a busy week of seeing clients and changing the world, I finally decided I would try to re-create this dish, and keep up with how I did it so that I could share it with her… and you!

I realized that one of the keys to simple recipes like the one that follows is that having a good spice cabinet.  If you’re still getting by with salt, pepper, oregano, and Mrs. Dash, I highly recommend that you start exploring new worlds by adding a spice or two to your kitchen apothecary each time you visit the grocery store over the next few months.  You’ll be amazed with what you can do with just a couple of ingredients, and the right blend of spices! {Also, even if you’re missing a couple of the less common spices in this recipe, like Garam masala or 5-spice, try it anyway!  It’ll still be good, you’ll just be missing some of the subtle hints created by these antique spice blends.  Pick them up  next time you’re in a spicy mood!  Remember, spice doesn’t necessarily equate to heat.}

Here’s the recipe, along with a few pics I took of the prep work along the way!  Please cook, share, embellish as you wish… and ENJOY!  ♥

Ingredients
*Note:  the full version below is pretty spicy, and is recommended for people who are used to this intensity of spice pallets.  I’m including (in bold) the 1/2 spice version for the unsure or timid!

  1. 1 head of cauliflower
  2. ½ tsp. 5-spice powder (commonly found in Asian food sections of most grocery stores; consists of fennel seed, star anise, ginger, cloves, cinnamon) (¼ tsp. 5-spice powder)
  3. ½ tsp. Garam masala (another spice blend; usually consists of black and white peppercorns, cloves, cassia bark, nutmeg and mace, black and green cardamom pods, Bay leaf, Caraway) (¼ tsp. Garam masala)
  4. 1 tsp. turmeric (½ tsp. turmeric)
  5. 1 tsp. cumin  (½ tsp. cumin)
  6. 1 tsp. curry powder [I used hot, yellow curry powder in this version; use whatever youRaw Fresh Ginger have on hand!]  (½ tsp. mild curry powder)
  7. 1 tsp. cinnamon  (½ tsp. cinnamon)
  8. ¼ c. ish fresh minced ginger (*see photo ~ this is a ¼ c. measuring cup, before I minced it)
  9. 1 large or 2-3 small cloves fresh minced or crushed garlic (½ large clove or 1-2 small cloves garlic)
  10. ¼ c. raisins
  11. Big handful of nuts*
  12. 3-4 Tbsp. coconut oil
  13. Bragg’s Nutritional Yeast

 

Instructions

  1. Wash cauliflower, and then cut it into large chunks.Spice pallet for Curry Spiced Rice
  2. Add all pieces of cauliflower to your food processor and “pulse” in 20-30 second bursts until cauliflower is a nice “rice-like” texture, with maybe a few larger chunks. {This will probably only take 3-4 bursts – you don’t want cauliflower dust! J}
  3. Set aside until you prepare your curry paste.
  4. Add 3-4 Tbsp. coconut oil into a large saucepan, and heat to medium for a few minutes.
  5. Stir in your “wet” curry ingredients: garlic and gingerWet Curry Paste Ingredients
  6. Reduce heat to low and stir in all the “dry” curry ingredients: turmeric, cumin, curry powder, 5-spice, Garam masala, and cinnamon.
  7. Now add your cauliflower and stir until the curry paste coats everything fully.
  8. After it’s all mixed up nicely, turn up the heat to about medium and stir frequently for about 10 minutes to soften the cauliflower.
  9. Reduce heat to low and add your nuts and raisins.Cauliflower Rice ~ Spice Coated
  10. Cover and let simmer on low (lowest possible setting on your stovetop) for 15-20 minutes.
  11. Remove from heat and sprinkle with Bragg’s nutritional yeast (because it’s good for you) & stir or “toss” before serving.
  12. ENJOY! {Garnish with curly parsley, if you want to get real fancy with it.}

*I used pecans in this batch; sometimes I use cashews; I suggest you use whatever tree nuts you have on hand.  I’m pretty sure I used pistachios in the first batch I ever made that my friend raves about so much.  NOTE:  to maintain #whole30 compliance, nuts must be raw tree nuts, no peanuts and no nuts roasted in any non-compliant oil.

Serving suggestions:  Pair your tasty spicy rice with baked or roasted chicken, and a simple roasted veggie.  (I like roasted purple cabbage and a simple chicken breast, for example.)   Better yet, stick with the Indian theme and make Tandoori Chicken or Tikka Masala to go with it… but be prepared to spend some extra time in the kitchen for these delights!

May we all eat well & be healthy and happy! Namaste. 

Healthy Holiday Recipes ~ Paleo Sweet Potato Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Paleo Sweet Potato Chocolate BreadA friend of mine posted a recipe for sweet potato bread pudding, which sounded awesome because I do so love sweet potatoes, so I clicked on the link to take a peek… and concluded that although I’m sure it would be awesome, it was also a zillion tons of sugar per serving so it was basically diabetes in bread pudding form. However, it made me start reminiscing about my Daddy’s favorite cake which both my mom and my Grandmother would make for him during December, which began with his birthday and ended with Christmastime.  The cake is divine and it’s an old family recipe called Sweet Potato Chocolate cake.  Alas, it is diabetes in cake form, and diabetes is the reason I no longer get to spend time at the holidays or any other days with my Dad, who lost his life to it in 2002.  So, I wondered how I might achieve that delicious cake-y goodness that brings back so many happy memories in a less-likely-to-kill-me sort of way. (Note:  My sweet grandmother’s take on “diet” sweet potato chocolate cake was to make it in 2 layers instead of 3. Love her. ♥) This thought led me down the path of a little kitchen alchemy: combining my family’s sweet potato chocolate cake concept with a random ‪#‎paleo zucchini bread recipe. My experiment turned out so well that I had to make it an official recipe and share it with the world!  I’ve now made three loaves of this stuff and it’s swiftly becoming a new holiday favorite!  And the best part of this deliciousness:  it’s very low sugar and you get lots of whole food nutrients to boot!  Cake with vegetables that tastes amazing?!?  YES, PLEASE!

Here’s the recipe!  Please bake, share, embellish as you wish… and ENJOY!  ♥

  1. ½ cup coconut flour
  2. 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  3. ¼ tsp. baking powder (aluminum free)
  4. ½ tsp. salt
  5. 1 Tbsp. cinnamon
  6. ½ tsp. nutmeg
  7. 2 tsp. dark cocoa powder
  8. ¼ tsp. allspice
  9. ¼ tsp. ground cloves
  10. 3 pasture-raised eggs
  11. 2-3 Tbsp. raw honey or maple syrup (I used 3 Tbsp. raw honey & 3 pitted prunes I just needed to use up! Note: It was plenty sweet for me, but you can add more sweet stuff if your taste buds really want sweet and are used to refined sugars.  I suggest 1 extra Tbsp. of coconut palm sugar.)
  12. 1 cup-ish (1 medium) zucchini, shredded finely (I just food processed it)
  13. ½ a large or 1 whole medium sized (already cooked) sweet potato, mashed
  14. 1 Tbsp. coconut oil, plus a bit extra if greasing the pan
  15. ½ cup walnuts or your other favorite nuts (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a loaf pan with coconut oil or line with parchment paper; set aside.
  3. Shred your zucchini finely, and mash your sweet potato.
  4. Add in the eggs and other liquid or soft ingredients.
  5. Add the dry ingredients and spices, and stir until the batter is smooth. (You can use a mixer if you have one, but it is not required.  Very easy to mix up with just a bowl and a spoon!)
  6. Stir in the nuts, if using.
  7. Pour or spoon batter into your greased loaf pan and bake for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. (Batter will be thick and sticky.)
  8. Bring it out of the oven and let it sit for 5 minutes before slicing.
  9. Enjoy!

Serving suggestion:  Pair with your favorite hot tea or coffee at breakfast time.
It’s perfect!

Acupuncture & Traditional Chinese Medicine

Dr. Marina Ponton, DAOMAcupuncture & Traditional Chinese Medicine
with Dr. Marina Ponton, DAOM

Join us for the last episode of our new 4-week Health & Wellness podcast series! This episode features an interview with Dr. Marina Ponton, DAOM, from Greenville Natural Health Center.

Marina Ponton has been a Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental medicine in private practice since 1998. Her practice focuses on helping others achieve and maintain their optimal health through acupuncture, herbs, diet, supplements and nutrition. Dr. Ponton’s belief in healing the body through natural methods has led her to practice and lecture in the United States, Sweden and Holland. She has studied at the American University of Paris, FAMU University in Prague, University of Miami, Atlantic Institute of Oriental Medicine and Oregon College of Oriental Medicine. Dr. Ponton has a Doctorate in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine with a specialization in women’s health and longevity medicine.

Dr. Ponton is an exceptionally talented natural health practitioner and well recognized lecturer who is passionate about educating patients on the importance of incorporating natural health modalities into their every day life. Some of her specialties include pain management, women’s health and fertility, holistic dermatology, environmental diseases and mental and emotional disorders. She is bilingual in English and Spanish.

More about Marina and her practice: http://www.greenvillenaturalhealth.com/

Our Health & Wellness series is designed to give you a kickstart in motivation to explore some things that can help you build a better life and a better business… because when you feel great, everything is easier!

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/completelifecoaching/2014/04/07/acupuncture-traditional-chinese-medicine-with-dr-marina-ponton-daom

What is Paleo and How Can It Help You? with Sandi Smith from Paleo Greenville

SandiWhat is Paleo and How Can It Help You?
with Sandi Smith from Paleo Greenville

Join us for the first episode of our new 4-week Health & Wellness series!  This episode features an interview with Paleo Greenville founder and Full-Time Wife and Mommy Sandi Smith, who takes her family’s long-term health seriously, and helps others do the same.  We’ll share some personal stories and insights about how changing our diets have helped us lose weight, get glowing skin that makes us look years younger, cleared our thinking, and made us happier!  We talk about our own experiences with the amazing Whole30 program, and encourage you to check it out yourself!

Our Health & Wellness series is designed to give you a kickstart in motivation to explore some things that can help you build a better life and a better business… because when you feel great, everything is easier!

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/completelifecoaching/2014/03/17/what-is-paleo-and-how-can-it-help-you-with-sandi-smith-from-paleo-greenville